There were five of them…
In a Los Angeles hospital in 1916, a night-shirted man lies in bed and beckons over a small girl with a broken arm and missing milk teeth. ‘I’ll tell you a story. Close your eyes. There were five of them: The Indian. The Ex-Slave. The Explosives Expert. Charles Darwin. And the Masked Bandit. They had one common enemy…’ Then the images begin: a rearing horse, a strange bare tree ablaze, a monstrous juggernaut powered by children, a blue city, a swimming elephant.
God, it’s a good trailer. I only saw it because the remote was too far away to bother leaning over and skipping straight to the menu of whatever DVD I was trying to watch. Why had I never heard of this movie? Where had it come from?
It came from Pepsi Max, as it turned out. And Nike Trainers and Levi Jeans and Honda Civics, and eventually Michael Stipe. Continue reading
Car: Shiny. Statham: Grumpy. Girl: Freckly.
Welcome to everyone over here from Charity Shop Chic! I hope you enjoy these articles as much as the Silver Screen Chic collaboration. Thanks for your lovely comments!
The Transporter films are unashamedly marketed with the tastes, sophistication, and attention spans of teenage boys in mind. You know exactly what you’re getting going in – which is a million flashy car stunts, at least three overly choreographed and inexplicably topless fight scenes, a throwaway hot girl and a pointless task for world weary, granite jawed guy-who-transports-stuff Jason Statham to take on armed with his trusty product placed car and the only facial expression he knows (Constipated Grit™).
Except that none of this goes towards explaining how Transporter 3 turned out to be a sweeping, talky romance between two damaged souls with a bit of car stuff thrown in as an afterthought. I think one of the reasons I’m so fond of this dubious film is that it’s just so delightful to think they managed to slip this past the eleventy billion teenage boys who went to see it (The film made $108m). Continue reading
Gwyneth does her best impression of an ordinary person
Perhaps in the end, all British people want to be convinced that Hollywood stars would much rather be living in England. And not living in England like Gwennie used to before her ‘conscious uncoupling’, writing ecstatically in her scary lifestyle blog about her yoga retreats and the best way to make your own almond milk. No, we’d like to imagine they’re just like us – complaining half-heartedly about tube delays, drinking English Breakfast, putting up with twattish British men on unsatisfactory mini-breaks and popping out of a Thursday evening for sharing plates with their mates in overpriced bistros. Why bother with all those palm trees and red carpets when you could be enjoying half a pint of mild in a draughty pub somewhere?
Anyway, a long time ago (17 years! I’ll give you a moment to mourn the inevitable yet astonishing passing of time) in a galaxy far, far away (West London is basically its own universe) Gwyneth Paltrow brit-ed up like a trouper to join John Hannah in giving us that classic of the rom-com genre, Sliding Doors. Still occasionally popping up as shorthand to describe the ‘what might have been’ effect, the moral of the story appears to be that if mildly bad things happen (missing your train) you shouldn’t worry because everything will turn out pretty great in the end, at least right up until you (spoilers) die traumatically and prematurely. If mildly good things happen (catching your train), then this just means that you’ll be in blissful ignorance of the terrible things happening all around you for a while longer. No honestly, it’s a rom-com, but writing a proper plot synopsis for this one is up there with trying to explain Primer. The only thing you really need to know is that there are two Gwyneth Paltrows in this film, differentiated by their haircuts and living out two parallel existences after a significant split in their timelines (like Terry Pratchett’s ‘Trousers of Time’ theory but with more public transport). Continue reading
Surfing in Cornwall. God it looks chilly.
I saw Blue Juice before I had much concept of Cornwall as a semi-independent sovereign state clinging reluctantly on to the tail end of England. But even then (what was it, about 1996? Taped off the telly and one of the only things my older brother and I could agree on to watch, anyway) I could see it was a different kind of place. There were surfers where I came from, sure. But this was surf culture. In the north, anyone who was daft enough to venture into the sea was too busy getting their circulation back and self-treating incipient frost bite to retain the energy to think up new slang and grow their hair long. Quiksilver hoodies, beach raves and flip flops as functional outdoor wear were all exotic concepts of which we could only dream.
The surfing stuff is obviously going to be the draw of this film for some people (extreme sports fans, neoprene enthusiasts), and apparently the actors all had training beforehand. But endearingly they’re pretty obviously all rubbish at it, except for Sean Pertwee’s JD who you barely see in action until the big set piece at the end when he’s obviously being doubled. There might be some token chat about ‘perfect barrels’, ‘six foot and clean’ and the like, but I sort of appreciate the film doesn’t try to cram in too many duplicated scenes of virtuosity to make their point or drag in the enthusiasts. In the end, this is not really a surf film in the same way that Riding Giants is, or that – god help us – Blue Crush tries to be. Continue reading
Keith (Poor Guy) and Watts (Poor Girl)
I’m supposed to like The Breakfast Club. Or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Pretty in Pink has its charms. I understand the connoisseur’s choice is Sixteen Candles. But I like this one best.
It is not exactly controversial to like a John Hughes film. His Wikipedia page calls him the King of Teen Movies, which (although the source remains woefully unattributed) I am not about to argue with. He made the first film I ever watched in a proper cinema (Home Alone, 1990 in the Coliseum with a packet of mint poppets). And he also made a slew of other stuff I certainly don’t associate him with (he wrote Maid in Manhattan!). But although Some Kind of Wonderful came out in 1987 during his golden era, it’s pretty much the underdog. Continue reading
I have never seen Citizen Kane. Or the Godfather Trilogy. Or any Charlie Kaufmann film. During Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind I was mainly concentrating on Kate Winslet’s hair dye choices.
I do not have good taste in films. If it has ‘auteur’ in the blurb then I’m going to skip it. ‘Harrowing’, ‘Seminal’, or ‘Heart-breaking’ are probably not what I’m in the mood for on a Tuesday evening. I can’t watch horror films. I’m oddly unmoved by animation of any kind. I’m not good with suspense. I don’t like unexpected expressions of violence (The Departed was a trial by fire. Did anyone NOT get suddenly shot in the head in that film?). I haven’t found the energy to start that box set you’re talking about by the water cooler. If I do accidently watch something highly acclaimed, I tend to be quietly respectful, and then never think about it again. I am slightly dissatisfied by all unhappy endings.
On the other hand, there’s plenty of fluffy stuff I should like and don’t. There’s plenty of rom-coms which aren’t worth the electricity they would take to watch. The majority of superhero films are pretty charmless, if briefly entertaining. I can’t find much to say about most Judd Apatow films, and all Adam Sandler films (not even The Wedding Singer) and pretty much anything that has a cast consisting of six men and a single woman who is the love interest.
None of this makes me a popular viewing buddy. I’m snobby about rubbish and unenthused by class. I’ll watch a whole mediocre film twice for one five minute scene in the middle – hell, I’ll even pay good money to see it again in the cinema – but I sulk when made to watch Oscar winners.
The reasons I do this – the rules I go by – aren’t clear even to me. Why will some unremarkable movie keep me glued while any amount of lavishly applied effort and time and money leave me cold? How is it I manage to like anything I watch at all? I am stubborn and inconsistent in my devotions. But still, it is love. My DVD collection is creeping towards unmanageable. I stay up unwisely late on school nights because I can’t bring myself to stop watching until the end. In stressed moments at work I read the quotes section of Wikipedia like a soothing phone directory. In one particularly undemanding job post-university I’m reasonably certain I finished the IMDB. There are still few things better than sitting in the dark and watching a story unfold around you, surrounded by breathless strangers.
So this is what I’m actually watching. And why. Some of this stuff is well known, and some of it justifiably isn’t, and some of it I’m pretty sure should have been but somehow missed the chance. Maybe by the end of this, I’ll know why I watched it. And so, I guess, will you.