Sunday, 25 September 2011

Hold Onto Your Butts...

Rereleasing movies is a hot issue - at least, one would imagine it to be a very hot issue in some head offices. I'd like to have been a fly on the wall of the boardroom in which this latest rerelease decision was made; I can just imagine a load of frowning guys in suits trawling through lists of popular movies, wracking their brains over which one would make them the largest possible amount of money if it were once again to be made available to the masses in supersize form. And then, suddenly, one guy spots a promising title out of the corner of his eye; he searches back up the list, before finally alighting on Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. A strange, crazy glint of light appears in his eyes, as one by one his colleagues stop shuffling their papers and turn to him, both excited and unnerved by his manic expression.

"Gentlemen," he says. "I think I've got it."

There is a pregnant pause. And then;

"Jurassic Park."

There is a stunned silence as the magnitude of the suggestion makes its way around the table in a Mexican wave of synergistic telepathy, until finally it reaches the chairman. All eyes upon him, he shifts slightly in his seat. A note of unease enters the atmosphere, as all wait to see whether the idea will be raised to a pedestal, or nailed to a cross. Finally:

"Jones," the chairman says, eyeing his surbordinate. "You'll be made regional manager for this."

He favours Jones with an awed stare of approval, as the rest of the besuited men cheer, rip off their ties and start planning their next month long trip to Monaco. Jones meanwhile, sits quietly, not quite believing what he has just achieved.

In truth of course, it didn't happen that way at all. Jurassic Park has only been rereleased because it will very soon come out on blu ray. But surely even if this were not the case, it would have been a damn good decision anyway. Especially seeing as the movie has not been majorly changed at all (why mess with perfection), so we are not faced with a hideous, Star Wars-esque 'Godless abomination', as Amy McGoldrick put it. No, it's still the same old Jurassic Park, only bigger, louder and much much scarier; you can really appreciate the significance of being inside a car which is getting beaten to shit by a T Rex when you're watching it take place on a screen as high as five double decker buses. Not to mention the surround sound; I wouldn't be surprised if people walking past the BFI IMAX this weekend thought there was a freak earthquake going on.

Jurassic Park is only getting a very short release, so if you're desperate to see it, I'd get a move on and spare no expense.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fish Custard

 I don't have a lot of time for watching contemporary TV these days. Aware as I am that there are shows out there, many of them probably brilliant, that I 'should' be watching (The Killing, Spartacus, The Wire, etc), I have accepted that I am not superhuman. There are only so many hours in the day, and I cannot afford to spend all of them catching up on the prolific episodic outpourings of every single televison network. And so, I do what any self respecting busy young ambitious working woman would do; I prioritise.

Earlier this year, I prioritised HBO's Game of Thrones. And I mean really prioritised, seeing as I don't even have the channel that it was aired on, and was therefore forced to trawl the internet every Monday morning for one single bastard link that would lead me to a working upload of the latest episode. It was worth it however, especially seeing as the series was aired in the USA on Sunday night, but not in the UK until Monday night, so that despite not having Sky Atlantic, I would still have seen the latest episode a full day before anyone else in the UK. I may not be completely culturally au fait when it comes to the latest television shows, but when I prioritise something, I prioritise it all to shit.

I miss the days of Game of Thrones, when every week, for ten glorious weeks in a row, I would have a new excuse to massively geek out in an obsessive and preferably amusing television based manner. The television show I have most recently been prioritising (or trying to) is Doctor Who. However, the reason I have not been geeking out on the internet over this show nearly as much as I did over Game of Thrones is that the jury is still out on the second half of this series, which began four weeks ago with the admittedly wonderfully named 'Let's Kill Hitler'. Up until the episode before last, 'The Girl Who Waited', my overall opinion of Doctor Who had not suffered any major upheavals (although I didn't (and still don't) buy that Amy and Rory are willing to accept the loss of their daughter quite so easily).

However, 'The Girl Who Waited'  has had the interesting effect of finally making me dislike the Doctor. Fair enough, the Doctor always was a bit harsh, a bit mad, and a bit of a twat, but he was likably amusing and heroic, and therefore the twattish mad harshness only accentuated the amusing heroism, making him all the more intriguingly likable. But, the other week, he finally went just a tad too far over the line into Mean Bastard. Fair enough; he had to do what he did. But he didn't have to do it the way that he did it. Yes it made good television, but in the world of suspended disbelief where there are no cameras or scripts, that shit just wouldn't have flown. And on top of that, Amy seems to have been fine with what her other self was forced to endure; unless we are to assume that she gave him a right bollocking 'between episodes' as it were, and they were able to sort out their differences before the opening scene of 'The God Complex'.

The one redeeming feature of this otherwise rather uncalled for plot development is that, looking back, the fact that the Doctor essentially 'dumps' Amy and Rory at the end of 'The God Complex' makes sense when you factor in the whole heap of bullshit he got them into in the previous episode. What would have made more sense is if he had dumped them off immediately after the whole Green Anchor/Red Waterfall fiasco was all wrapped up, instead of first taking them to a  suspiciously Shining-esque hotel frequented not only by their own worst fears, but also by a fucking minotaur, for no good reason I can discern.

Anyway, that's enough of that for one evening; one can only hope that the writers return to form for the rest of the series and bring back the Doctor who wears a fez and eats fish custard.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Skin I Live In

some SPOILERS - but not really.

Almodovar's latest, The Skin I Live In, sees him reunite with old friend Antonio Banderas to tell the tale of an obessive (and probably insane) plastic surgeon who is attempting to create a new type of artificial skin which could have saved his badly burned wife (who threw herself out of a window upon catching sight of her reflection). Despite the assertions of many critics, The Skin I Live In is very much a traditional Almodovar film. It is clear however, that he has been watching rather more Hitchcock than is healthy and has also taken his fixations with sexuality, understated violence and body horror to new levels. This film is what Almodovar would have made if somebody had handed him the script for Hitchcock's Vertigo; he has replaced the romance and passion with clinical obession, the hidden motives and manipulation with obvious coercion, and the madness with cold hard insanity. It's Almodovar's version of horror; not very scary, just plain weird.

The old Almodovar does shine through, however, mostly in the cinematography; while not as vibrantly hued as usual, you can see his classic use of colour in the frequent spots of red which jump out of the otherwise quite monochrome screen, themselves reminiscent of the open wounds and surgical cuts which adorn the form of Banderas' unwilling yet submissive guinea pig (Elena Anaya). Plus, there's the mad interlude where a guy in a tiger costume shows up - perhaps he threw that in just to reassure everyone that he hasn't abandoned his signature style (loud, colourful, and camp). The music (Alberto Iglesias) is perfect, as ever. The Big Twist that comes about half way through the film is also classic Pedro; obviously I won't give it away, although if you know Almodovar's work it is a little bit transparent, and unfortunately I managed to twig it about ten minutes too early.

If you're expecting lots of surgically based gore, you won't get it; Almodovar's violence has always been, like Haneke's, subdued, understated, and all the more real and unsettling for it. This film is a new direction for the director, something a bit different and brilliantly done. I'd advise you to go and see it before Odeon wise up to the fact that it's costing them more to screen it than they're making in ticket sales (there were four people in my screening, including me) and take it off the bill. Unfortunately there ain't much demand for Spanish 'mind-fuck' cinema at your average English cineplex. Look at it this way; you'll be in an almost completely empty screen enjoying some excellent, exquisite, thought-provoking film while the hordes of whiny brats (who will soon be back at school, thank God) are all down the corridor seeing Cowboys and Aliens or some shit.