Wednesday 4 August 2010

Hendecuple Bill Mini Musings: Catching Up...

Dial M For Murder:
A Hitchcock classic I'd heard about for a long time, for which I found the opening twenty minutes crushingly dull (I feared it was going to be another Marnie, which I found dreadfully dull to be honest) until the main thrust of the film gets underway - then it became a tense and tricksy affair to remember.

I've had it hanging around for literally years and I finally got around to watching it. A "sedate pace" is an understatement ... and while the melodrama of 'widower looking for love' was surprisingly interesting, it does go on for far too long, and the infamous torture scene is relatively brief, but inventive and memorable. When the melodrama subsides and the creeping sense of 'something isn't quite right about this girl and her past' begins to ratchet up, Miike does a great job in drawing out the suspense and quiet air of intimidation. The lengthy melodrama stuff does go beyond 'arty' and into 'get on with it already' territory though - twenty minutes less of that and the film would have felt better balanced.

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs:
Simon Pegg and three insanely cute baby T-Rexes steal the whole show. Straight forward family fare that really looks the part and actually looks very nice in 2D, even though it was clearly designed with its 3D theatrical release in mind.

Violent theatricality writ large within and about the mind of Britain's most violent and notorious prison inmate. At times it feels like a modern spin on A Clockwork Orange, and other times it feels a bit uncomfortable to watch - like it's glorifying rather than examining this figure - but however you take it, Hardy is absolutely on top form as the titular criminal - no wonder he ended up in this year's Inception.

Midnight Run:
These days the action would be ballsier and the comedy would be far less subtle, but The Adam and Joe Show had it right when they sang "proving he could swear a lot, but also make you smile" in their song Bobby DeNiro. A proper slab of 80s action comedy.

Run! Bitch Run!
Properly low budget indie rape & revenger which homages/rips off (depending on your outlook) The Last House on the Left and, most of all, I Spit On Your Grave - both of which are much better movies, but this stab at grindhouse grot has a bizarre charm to it. It's bad, but the good kind of bad - and you have to respect a genre flick with such a great trailer.

The House of the Devil:
Not an awful lot happens for the majority of the movie, but it's the careful camerawork, style and generally '80s horror flick' vibe that pulls you through - plus Noonan plays 'pleasantly creepy' better than anyone else. It would have been nice if the final act ordeal had been more drawn out though - I thought back to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when Sally Hardesty was trapped inside the cannibal's house - the ordeal just went on and on and we really began to empathise with the character. However, in House of the Devil, that portion is over too soon for us to really get sucked into it all ... but even still, I really enjoyed this flick. You've got to be in the right mindset for a slow burn 80s style devil worshipping movie, but it is a nice reminder of how horror can also be done. Much has been made of it being "the anti-Saw-or-Hostel", but I've never liked such a dismissive stance taken to such movies. I like Hostel (1 and 2) for what they are, and there's a time and a place for them ... same goes for the Saw series, or specifically the first and third movies (two is a bit naff, while four and five are the same-old-schtick but with an impenetrable script ... and I haven't seen part six yet).

There's a time and a place for every kind of horror, and The House of the Devil is a great slice of retro suspense.

Raw Deal:
Cheesy, a bit naff, kind of rough around the edges, and with a plot rendered pointless by some decent action set pieces, it's a movie that I can now say I've seen ... but I won't be seeing it again.

A Bug's Life:
I'm a big fan of Pixar, but I'd never seen this one - so, twelve years after it was released, I had a look. Quite fun and still quite good looking, I've seen it and that's probably enough for me - just like how I've seen Cars, and Ratatouille, but wouldn't be fussed about seeing them again. For me it's just not in the same league as the brilliant WALL.E or the superb Toy Story series (still yet to see the third one, mind).

The Ipcress File:
Classic Caine. It's a bit softcore by today's standards, but the true feel of a British film with its memorable score and quality cinematography was a nice treat. A note to BBC2 (and other such channels) - stop cropping 2.35:1 movies to 16x9 - if Sky Movies can show films in their proper, true and intended aspect ratios, then so can you - stop treating people like morons, and stop pandering to morons who are angered by black bars on their telly screens. Show the whole picture for goodness sake!

The Colour of Money:
Not as ballsy (excuse the pun) as typical Scorsese flicks, it is more of a character piece with Newman picking up where he left off with The Hustler (a great film that I first saw years and years ago in high school). The script is a bit annoying when it comes to Cruise's young up-and-comer - he seemingly learns nothing from Fast Eddie as a matter of routine, which really does inspire your eyes to roll, but all the fancy pool playing and Newman's portrayal of past-his-prime Fast Eddie makes it an interesting watch. Although I must admit I got twenty minutes into it several years ago and just gave up, but I stuck with it this time.

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