Feb 11, 2013

Massive Movie Roundup (Part 3)

NOTE:  I am going to be using a star system for these films, something I am not usually fond of, but feel is appropriate for the purposes of this post.  The star system I will be using will be similar to the Michelin Restaurant Guide.  Most films made would receive no stars in my book, but then again, I do not often see films that I would not recommend to folks.  "*" is a Recommended Film.  "**" is a Highly Recommended Film.  And, "***" is considered a Classic or a Masterpiece.  There are no halfsies, either.  

"It's on random ... "

I was just the teensiest bit disappointed with last night's episode of Girls, as it seemed more like a theatrical writing/acting exercise than an actual part of the series.  Moreover, I found the premise fairly implausible.  It is so unlikely that that would have happened.  And, it blunted the locomotive thrust of the past three or four episodes before it that were all quite good.  Ms Dunham is no fool. And, she has certainly whet our appetite for the return of a very important character next week. Girls is still one of the best things on teevee, even if I seem a little hard on it sometimes.

I fell asleep last night during Downton Abbey, so I will catch up with it with the Wife later this evening.  Season three since the opening two hour film has been a crashing bore for me.  It rebounded a bit last week with lots of great quotes, "IVY:  A cat can look at a king.  MRS PATMORE:  But not at a cook!", or Mrs Patmore's exhausted truthful lamentation, “You know the trouble with you lot is that you’re all in love with the wrong people”.  But tying such a huge plot point unto a pissing match between two doctors was a bit hinky, really.  Honestly, I think Fellowes has overextended himself.  Which is the natural thing to do when the show has been such a smashing success.  The show was better, I think, when it was only about eight hour long episodes.  Anyway, the Girls Caveat applies here, as well.  Bad DA is still  better than just about everything else on television these days.  Plus, I expect they will recover nicely to wrap up season three over the coming weeks.  

Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, were not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, even if I can not give it any stars.  Dame Helen's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T! for Alma!" speech was spot-on and nice to hear, even if you got the feeling that Ms Mirren could fall out of bed and give a great performance of that material.  I love, and am obsessed with Hitchcock, so the film proved a fun look at his working process.  And, was like a valentine to his wife, Alma Reville, too. (Sort of.) But, Hitchcock (the film) is strictly for devotees like myself.  

Hitch and his wife, Alma Reville. She was truly his greatest collaborator.

They tell us in the credits that Pitch Perfect is based on a book, but I could not help but imagine the pitch meeting with the money men in my head as the film rolled, "It is like Glee meets Bridesmaids!", they exclaimed.  I like Anna Kendrick, and she does real theatre, too.  And, I applaud her wanting to show off her musical talents in a film, but this was the wrong project for that.  And, as good as Bridesmaids was, one of the worst side effects of its success was showing Girls Can Be Gross Too.  There are probably a dozen or more Girl Gross Humor flicks in the pipeline as we speak.

Searching for Sugar Man (*) is most certainly over-hyped.  I am of two minds about it:  As beautiful as it is to hear the story of a superstar cult being created half the globe away by a subculture desperate to tear down its despotic racist ruling regime in South Africa.  And as lovely and touching as the moment is when we see the home videos of Rodriguez appear on stage for the first time there.  And as magical as the fact that his stardom was built in South Africa in the seventies and eighties by swapping albums, and making tapes.  As great as all that is, it is still disconcerting to hear nowt a bad word about Rodriguez.  The film seems to suggest a sainthood is in order for him.  Plus, the music is good, but not earth-shattering to me.  I keep wondering why all his old record producers seem so shocked that Rodriguez was not a massive star in the States.  I am not surprised the albums bombed here.  Rodriguez' subject matter was heartfelt, gritty, angry, risque, and frankly, depressing.  Perhaps Rodriguez might have enjoyed a certain amount of cult status in the US, but he would never have dominated the American or English charts.  Not that Rodriguez wanted that kind of fame anyway! He did not! I am sure Rodriguez is a wonderful caring giving human being, but I did not enjoy being bombarded with that message for the whole last half of the film.  The lady doth protest too much.  So much so as to suggest that the filmmakers really would prefer to tie this all in to their South African Fight for Freedom narrative.  Watch it for those home movies I spoke of above, and the crazy cool Afrikaners who consider Rodriguez a true titan of rock and to see how elated they were to find him.  And bring him "home".  

Youth in Revolt is really awful, a meandering silly episodic collection of juvenile set-pieces that certainly play well to some folks.  I have not read the novel.  Perhaps it is much better.

I have now seen two episodes of Black Mirror (**).  The first episode, The National Anthem, and the second, Fifteen Million Merits.  The National Anthem tells the tale of a terrorist taking the English Princess, Susanna, hostage.  The terrorist informs the PM that the only way she will be released is if he commits an unspeakable sexual act on live television.  That is all I will tell you.

Fifteen Million Merits takes place in a dystopic futuristic world where there is no outdoors anymore.  The citizens of this society live in small cubicles of television screens.  You are not allowed to own any possessions.  You are not allowed to interact with any other member of the society outside of your "work".  You can communicate with others with your avatar, called a doppel.  All leisure time is reduced to watching either pornography, video games, Hot Shot (an American Idol type of game show), or reality shows that belittle and humiliate overweight folks. Everyone "works" by riding a stationary bike that "powers" the society, keeps the lights on, makes it run.  And, that is all I will tell you about that.

Like I said earlier, Black Mirror is great.  But it is depressing as all get-out, too.  You have been warned.

All my most fervent Monday love, 
Mwah, ... 

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