In which a man blethers about stuff he has seen.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An Unbelievable Waste

M. Night Shyamalan. What can I say about him eh? I'll tell you what I can say about him: He's a cock. Sixth Sense? Shite. Rumbled it after 30 minutes. "Ooh, sensational narative use of colour!!!". Bollocks. Kid's stuff. Signs? Don't make me laugh. Wank. The Village? Embarassing. Lady in the Water? The most self-indulgent waste of 90 minutes it's ever been my misfortune to sit through. A comprehensive analysis I feel you'll agree.

As with all rules though, there is an exception. The rule that Mr. Shyamalan only makes shite films is not the only rule to which today's subject is an exception. The rule that Samuel L Jackson is a mercenary cunt who'll appear in any old wank as long as he gets paid is flouted here also. It probably says something about Bruce Willis too, although quite what I'm not sure. I'm a bit of a Brucie fan to be honest.

I am, of course, whittering on about Unbreakable. I'm pretty surprised at how few people I talk to have seen this. I'm even more surprised at how few of the people who have seen it rate it. Well, you're all idiots.

To give a bit of background to a 5 year old movie: The Sixth Sense broke Mr. shyamalan onto the mainstream scene, and was a rock solid hit. People thought they'd never seen anything like it, and the "twist in the tale" ending amazed an audience who had largely never bothered to watch a Hitchcock movie, and therefore thought this was some new invention. Whatever the merits of that film, it gave Shyamalan, as writer and director, carte clanche to make whatever the hell he liked next. Much to my personal surprise, Unbreakable is what he came up with. If this is what Shyamalan can produce when the pressure's off and people just chuck money at him, I should be at the front of th queue pelting him with fivers.

The synopsis: A comics fan (Jackson) with crippling osteoporosis tracks down a security guard (Willis) he believes is his polar opposite. Where Jackson's character's bones break with the slightest impact, he believes Willis's character cannot be hurt or fall ill. Willis initially derides him as insane, pointing to the car accident that ended his professional football career as evidence to the contary. However, it emerges that Willis faked his injuries after the crash to get out of playing football to salvage his relationship with his then girlfirend, now wife and mother of his child. Willis slowly comes to believe Jackson's outrageous claims, and falls under the spell of Jackson's pleas for him to become the hero to the weak that Jackson has always read about in his comics.

Quite frankl, it sounds ludicrous, but it works. It works amazingly well. Regular readers will know what a comic book and super-hero movie fan I am, and in some ways this is the best super-hero movie ever made. The holy grail for a comics fan is a realistic super-hero story. This is, of course, an inherant contradiction there. However, this movie moves so close to the dividing line betwen the every day and the fantastic that with a small suspension of disbelief you can really believe in the amazing things Willis's character discovers about himself. There is a particularly affecting scene where Willis enlists the help of his previously alienated son to test the amount he can bench-press. It never goes beyond the realms of the mundane (there is no throwing of cars or leaping tall buildings) but the father and son's mutual amazement as they search their basement for more weight to add to the dumb-bell is a joy to watch.

Shyamalan also coaxes great performances out of two traditionally hit and miss leads. Jackson is bitter, brooding, depressed, but also charmingly hopefull in his belief that there must be someone stronger, better, faster than himself. Willis is convincingly bemused. Haunted by a decision he made for the good of his family years ago, he now struggles to look at them without remembering what he gave up many years ago. while reluctant to believe what Jackson would have him believe about himself, he warms to the idea as a chance to make up for glories missed, and to let go of the bitterness that poisons his relationships with those closest to him.

Visually the film is also a treat. Shades of grey follow Willis's mood perfectly throughout the film, and Shyamalan's much touted use of colour doesn't seem as obvious and grating here. The scene at Grand Central Station is a particularly striking example of this. Never is the potential to sensationalise given in to. One of the climatic scenes, with Willis's character taking up his role as a crime fighter and defender of the helpless is beautifully low key. There is no mask or cape for Willis, merely a grey raincoat with the reassuring type "SECURITY" across the back.

Of course, there is the obligatory Shyamalan attempt at a twist at the end, but it'l largely unimportant, and it wouldn't make alot of difference to your enjoyment of the film if you turned it off five minutes before the end and missed it altogether. It's not a key plot point, and doesn't suddenly throw everything into focus like the twists in The Village and Sixth Sense were supposed to.

This is a great glimpse of a fantastic writing and directing talent, backed up by some excellent performances from Hollywood heavyweights on top form. Unbreakable is of course available on DVD from just about anywhere, and also available in about 2-3 hours with a decent broadband connection. Get it on your list, and don't forget to leave some comments if you've seen it already or you watch it as a result of this post. I'm always interested to ignore what you think.

The Slowest top Ten Ever

Right pop pickers, while you're still gasping for breath after the non-stop bombardment of posts in this series, I'll leave you reeling with another one. The gap is principally due to Fresher's week at work, which is a horribly busy time full of loud-mouthed cunts from Coventry throwing up on my carpets. As you can imagine, this pleases me no end. Anyway, the other reason for the gap is that this is actually really hard to do. I went for this top ten because I thought it would be pretty easy to pick what to put in, but I was wrong. Anyhow after much wrangling I've got about eight of them in my head, so I can get on with it. which I shall do forthwith. Infact 90% of people will read that before they read this, so I've just wasted five minutes. HURRAH.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tie a Yellow Ribbon...

I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted here, but this is one of the greatest films ever made. I watched it again recently, and yes it seems pretty weak and less cutting than it did on my first viewing. Mind you, that was 15 years ago now. Some of it still hits the spot perfectly. The ID check on a hopeful Steve Guttenburg is almost prescient. The B movie send-ups never tire. And the cast is just phenomenal. Have a look at the cast list on IMDB, and then try and imagine what the modern equivalent would be. I know what the modern equivalent is, and it's Ocean's 11/12/13/14/15, which is a great shame. This is the last breath of Hollywood's sense of humour, and should be preserved as such.

If you have never seen this film, do so immediately. It might seem very dated, but come on, everyone knows someone that makes you want to donate to "Black men Without Soul".

You can grab "Amazon Women on the Moon" off Amazon easily enough. It's not so easy to get through other channels, but if you really need to see it comment or send me an e-mail. Because I read loads of those.

The Top Ten of Top Tens of Top Tens, Ever!

I've been asked to do a kind of top ten films that everyone should see. I'm loathe to do this at first because these things are notoriously hard to do. If someone asks you to list your top ten albums/films/mass murderers it's almost impossible to do because your taste changes so quickly. I've tried it in the past and my taste has changed before I've got to item no. 7, and I already want to dump item no.2 from the list.

However, I like the idea that it'll give me some focus in the next few weeks so I'm going to do something very slightly different and do a "Top 10 films you might well not have seen but which i quite like". Many of you will have seen most of these. Some of you will have seen all of them. If you have seen all of them, you're officially as sad as me, so well done.

I'm going to kick this off wih a little "top ten" of things that will NOT appear in this top 10, just so you don't keep hanging around for your favourite to turn up.

1. Anything to do with Star Wars
2. Anything to do with Back to the Future
3. Anything to do with Superman
4. Donnie Darko
5. Anything directed by Tim Burton
6. Anything to do with Indiana jones
7. Anything to do with The Godfather
8. Anything directed by Stanley Cubrick
9. Ghostbusters
10. Busty Brenda's Bollock Bonanza

Ok. Now we have some ground rules. Let's go.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You are what you Watch.

Which I guess makes me a fetid pile of faeces. That's at least how I feel after a rare bit of primetime viewing on channel 4. I've never seen "You are what you Eat" before, and the name Gillian McKeith wasa new one to me. I was fully expecting some well nourished, smug woman harranguing crying overweight girls about giving up chips. Well,that was almost delivered. What I didn't expect was some haggard old hunchback sitting with the overweight girl in the bathroom, ramming her own shit in her face and shrieking "you see how fatty that is!? Do you see!? CAN YOU SMELL IT!?". I think even in the name of self improvement that joint poo-examining is a new level of...well...shit. I think that's what I'm going to take away fom this experience, and what many others will too. Not the dietary and exercise advice, which let's face it everyone knows by now anyway, unless they've been living in the Fatcave with Blobbin. Not the recipies, which i must say looked uniformly pretty tasty. None of that, just the haggard old hunchback ramming poo in the fat girls face. Cheers channel 4.