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Action! Cut! Print!

Your Humble Blogger has, for one reason and another, seen a fair amount of movies over the last n days.

  • I enjoyed Billy Elliot a lot, but there was far too much acting. When I say that, what I mean is a scene or lengthy part of a scene where the actor is given nothing whatsoever to actually do but just look at the camera (or worse, away from the camera) and indicate his or her rich inner life. Please. The acting is generally done very well, more’s the pity, because if the actor sucked, it would be edited out and the movie would be ten minutes shorter and ten points better.
  • I suspect no Gentle Readers have seen Serendipity, because it was a huge hulking great floperooski of the first order, but it’s worth seeing. John Cusack is all John Cusack-y, which he does very well, and Jeremy Piven is incredibly Jeremy Piven-y, which nobody does better. The plot, if you must know, involves Him and Her meeting briefly, sparking enough chemistry to rival Dow, and then separating without knowing last names, addresses or telephone numbers. They muddle through their lives for a few years, and then, just before entering into loveless marriages, decide that the One For Me was that person I met that one time, and embark on serious searches for each other. The cleverness lies in all the ways that they very nearly find each other during the search. Unfortunately, the plot requires that Him and Her do not meet again until the final scene, so no more chemistry, sorry about that.

    Oh, another thing about Serendipity. The main characters are all absurdly wealthy urbanites. I mean, the sort of person for whom spending a couple of thousand bucks on a fruitless search is an annoyance, rather than actually impossible or even an ongoing disaster. I was totally alienated by that, again and again during the movie. I mean, not a big deal that they buy gloves at Bloomie’s, but getting married at the Waldorf-Astoria? Heck, going to Manhattan and staying at the Waldorf? Without thinking about it? Damn.

  • I’m just getting around to Season One of the new Doctor Who. You know, there was a time when I was a fanatic. I have knitted more than one Doctor Who scarf. I wound up dropping out of fandom while I was in college, when it didn’t seem worth the effort, and I never got back into it. So I have seen (I think) a total of three episodes with the previous two Doctors, and have seen perhaps two-thirds of the Peter Davison era. So when I decided to go ahead and watch some Doctor Who again, it seemed wrong somehow to skip all the stuff that everybody thinks is lousy and go to this modern revision. You know, like a n00b. I still find it strange, and may very well go back and watch all the crap episodes, not because I think I’ll enjoy them, but because, um, you know. Being a fan isn’t meant to be enjoyable, you know. As for the new episodes, I’m enjoying them a lot, although there is Too Much Acting.
  • I watched most of Arthur, and what struck me as I was watching (and enjoying) it was that if it had been a play, it would have been revived twice on Broadway by now, and every community theater in the country would have had a go at it. Since it was a movie, it would clearly be a Bad Idea to remake it, and the remake (fortunately hypothetical) would suck. Why is that? It’s just how it is.
  • Bob le Flambeur was OK, but it wasn’t all that good. But then, I’m like that. If I’m watching a heist movie, I want it to be about the heist. Not only did the movie not really care about the heist, the main character himself forgets about the heist entirely on the morning in question. I know, I know. It’s like Gosford Park, it’s shooting down the whole idea of the movie being about the heist, or the murder, or whatnot; it’s about the ordinary lives of the people who happen to be caught up in the plot. Only, me? I like heist movies because of the heist. I’m old-fashioned that way.
  • It occurred to me whilst watching Flushed Away that the most entertaining bits of the movie were the flashes of brilliant set decoration and other background gags, and that even if I get the thing on DVD in a year’s time, my little screen will not repay close watching. Even worse, it would really require frame freezing, which would be lame on our television, and not really practicable in the movie theater. Still, Gentle Reader, if you do go see it in the theater, I advise you before you begin to ignore the main characters (who are, fortunately, uninteresting, badly voiced and generally doing dull things in the service of a dull plot) and focus on what’s behind them, which is very entertaining.
  • If you only see one movie about serial murderers living as vicar’s housekeepers this year, make it Keeping Mum. Heck, if you weren’t planning on seeing any movies at all on that fascinating subject, it may be time to rethink your lifestyle. On the other hand, there is a lot of cognitive dissonance involved. At the same time as the viewer is thinking “Rowan Atkinson is doing a fine job here, funny but not over-the-top”, one is also thinking that at any minute he is going to inadvertently sexually assault a sheep or something. Similarly, it’s hard to watch Patrick Swayze (who does a fine job as well, very funny and nicely loathsome) without thinking “That’s Patrick Swayze? Eargh. He didn’t age well, did he?” Fortunately, all you need to think about when watching Maggie Smith is something like “How wonderful to live in a universe with Maggie Smith in it!” Of course, since she could equally play the sweet little old lady that she seems to be playing and the hilarious maniac she really is playing, and has often played both, there’s no real need to worry about it, is there?
  • I know you all know this already, but Chicken Run really is one of the best movies in recent history.
  • Do you think there’s an alternate history universe where the script for Mr. and Mrs. Smith was made into a movie? Seriously, has there ever been a better movie for the game of trying to deduce what the script writer had actually intended, a long, long time ago in a factory far, far away? I’m convinced that there was an early draft where there was an actual character with lines directing the assassination attempt. Also, there was presumably some reason why the big shoot-out was in a department store, probably involving the chief assassin and some bit of cleverness involving the products.
  • chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,