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Bad Run at Cinema

By the way, since I want to say this:

What a crappy month it’s been for films in the cinema. I hadn’t gone in some time, but of the three films I saw, only Kung-Fu Panda amused me. Actually, it was good fun, once you got beyond the feelgoodishness of it all. I mean, it was very nicely animated and had some funny bits, some cool imagery — man, that scene with Master Oogway the turtle and the peach blossoms, man — and all that badass Tai Lung business, that was some fun, even if I was snickering (inwardly, always, at animations) most often at parts that the Korean audience around me seemed not to find so funny.

(And yes, I still like it even though in her exam one of my students compared me to the Panda, writing, “He is you 100% Professor Gord! You exactly! So big~ and cute~ bear!”)

But the other three films I saw in the Cinema?

The Happening, indeed. As in, what the hell is happening to M. Night Shyamalan? Or maybe, better, what the hell is happening in Hollywood, if a piece of crap like that got released? Actually, I’d prefer to call this movie The Crappening, but I’m sure I’m far from the first to make that crack about this film. Whatever you say, I’ll defend Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable was a great movie. However, something bad happened when Mr. Shyamalan worked with Mel Gibson, I imagine — Signs was a stinker — and while he held it back during The Village, which was, you know, not brilliant, but, you know, alright enough, the condition came back with a vengeanes. We got the mess Lady in the [Swimming Pool] and, now, yes, The Happening is the worst of all. (Er, need I say “so far”? Please, tell me Mr. Shyamalan won’t be given any more money to waste. I can stomach spending millions on a good film, it doesn’t even need to be great, but on crap? Seriously? I’d rather the money goes somewhere useful, like, you know, researching differences in toilet style between Europe and North America.)

What I mean to say is that The Happening is horribly written, terribly acted (the heroically bad example being, “Look! A car!” said, while pointing at a car that is one foot away, though, “Yeah, but… why did it start in the parks?” being a close second), inexcusably poor in production quality…

Wait, I have it. It was exactly the episode of Twilight Zone that one would write if one were commissioned to restart the series for a special audience comprised only of the mentally challenged and for those with advanced cases of Alzheimer’s Syndrome. And I am not insulting those people, either. That is how poor in quality everything about this movie is: it’s as if it was designed for people too disconnected from the experience of viewing for any attention to need to be paid to making the film, you know, interesting, amusing, surprising, funny, or, er, good.

And then there’s Doomsday. I had not seen any trailers. In fact, the only thing I knew about it was that it said, in big bold letters on the back of the Korean promo paper, “SF,” and since I take an interest in what is promoted as SF here, I checked it out. Well, this film is best described as a montage of different genres mushed together. First, there’s something like 28 Days Later, a disease outbreak in Scotland. So Scotland gets fenced off, which reminds one of Children of Men. Then there’s some evil dystopian government stuff that overtly references another British politician (Hatcher? Come on!) and then, very quickly, we’re into the female protagonist going into the “Hot Zone” to prevent the same 28 Day Later-ish thing from happening in London. Then we have some military SF-ish stuff — basically hi-tech infantry battling what is a cross between punk rockers and Picts from Braveheart. This gives way to a kind of knights/castle/tyrant narrative, which features a long combat pit duel that may well have been choreographed by watching Gladiator. And then there’s a twenty-minute long car chase — yes, car chase — with the Pictish-punk rockers, and a cruddy trailing-off-into-pointlessness. I almost walked about at several moments, but I just didn’t believe it could actually get worse. It did. Continually.  I was in pain. Okay, but then again, that was the day after I discovered my (mild) case of high blood pressure, and I squirmed a lot when the flashing, smashing, bashing action onscreen elevated my pulse. Meaning, yes, my pulse elevated, but I assure, mostly just as a fight-or-flight reaction to the full-blast noise in the cinema.

And call me a killjoy if you like, but when I watched the latest Indiana Jones film, I kept asking myself, “Were the earlier Indie films this bad?” My friends gleefully have replied, “Yes, they were.”

So it’s been a rather disappointing month in the cinema, that is, aside from Kung Fu Panda and Iron Man. Which, oh, yes, I haven’t blogged about yet. I really liked Iron Man.I don’t know the original comic, though, and I think the beginning was a bit long. As in, it took too long to get going. But I liked the film anyway, at least for a single viewing, though it’s been too long since I saw it to have much more to say about that, except, of course, that I wish Hollywood would, for once, think of a new bad guy. The Muslims-in-Desert trope is growing a little tired, already.

But three out of the five films I watched in the cinema stank. That’s not good.

On the other hand, some of the films I’ve watched at home — like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Graduate. Both of those films were very distinctive of their time, very interesting and stylized. The way in which sharp dialog is inescapably stylized is something that’s come to interest me. Both films are funny, alternately dark and light, and very surprising. But I do wish that Robert Downey Jr. hadn’t put out that CD.

(The last track is one of his songs, and I was all, “Huh?” and only twenty minutes later, I felt so badly for the man. But hey, he’s the one who gets to play Iron Man, and get paid doing it, so I’m sure he doesn’t need my pity.)

No links, because I can’t be bothered. All these films will come up if you google them or copy the name to IMDB for a search.

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