Sunday, 19 August 2012

The week in brief (13 - 19 August)

This week, I have been mostly watching...

Repo Man (1984): 7/10
Brave (2012): 7/10
The Caine Mutiny (1954): 8/10
Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren) (2010): 6/10
The Getaway (1972): 7/10
Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari) (1953): 5/10

My pick of the week goes to the classic '50s picture, The Caine Mutiny. It works as a character study, as an interesting insight into the lives of sailors during the second world war, and, towards the end of the film, as a gripping courtroom drama. However, for me it is probably most noteworthy for featuring a fascinating lead performance from Humphrey Bogart (just three years before he died). Bogart is an actor I associate with playing wise-cracking, anti-authoritarian types, but in The Caine Mutiny he takes on the role of Lt. Commander Queeg, a rather pathetic man whose personality is a mixture of arrogance, officiousness and cowardliness in the face of danger. I'm not sure whether the movie is a match for the classic Simpsons episode The Canine Mutiny (for one thing, there's no Chief Wiggum singing Jammin'), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I made my first trip to the cinema for a while, watching Brave, the latest animated film from Pixar. Set in medieval Scotland, we see feisty young princess Merida seek to defy her parents' wishes that she get married, as she instead seeks to forge her own path. The fairytale nature of the storyline means that it perhaps isn't quite as engaging for adults as a number of other Pixar releases (my personal favourites being Ratatouille, Toy Story 3 and The Incredibles). Still, it's beautifully animated and quite touching and is all in all a very solid effort. (By the way - I'm aware that I mentioned last week that I was planning to see The Bourne Legacy this week - that's been put on the back burner for the time being, but I'm hopeful I'll get around to watching it soon.)

Moving on to disappointments for the week - first of all, Yasujiro Ozu's highly regarded Tokyo Story. This is becoming a bit of a recurring theme for this blog, but as with Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Of Gods and Men, I find myself having to justify my reasons for giving a critically beloved film a mixed or negative review. So here we go: I could appreciate that there were some interesting themes discussed in the movie - the way in which we treat our elders in society, changes in Japanese society after the Second World War, facing our own mortality - but the pacing was just far too slow for me, and I found myself clockwatching at regular intervals. Ultimately, getting through the film was a bit of a chore. I suppose I'll just have to be honest and admit that I'd much rather watch something like Pulp Fiction -  a big delicious cheeseburger of a movie - than an Ozu film, which is more akin to a formal twelve course dinner.

Also a little disappointing was the Scandinavian found footage horror film Troll Hunter, in which a group of student film makers discover that trolls are real - and are living in the forests of Northern Norway. It isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, and works pretty well as a promotional film for tourism in Norway, with plenty of footage of beautiful scenery in remote Nordic locations. Still, for a film which is nominally billed as a horror movie, it doesn't really deliver any scares.

Next week is a bank holiday weekend here in the UK, and I'm very conscious that I haven't put together a proper list for a while. I'll aim to rectify that situation shortly with a list of my top ten French films.

Kirk's Quote of the Week

Repo Man (1984)

"Miller: The life of a repo man is always intense."

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