Thursday, 30 September 2010
The real joy of The West Wing doesn't come from the events, but from the strength of the writing. In that respect this season makes back a lot of points. It remembers how to be funny, even if it's sometimes a bit inappropriate (why are CJ and Josh arguing about donuts when Leo's close to death?). It starts to reference season one when Leo gives another 'let Bartlet be Bartlet' speech. It remembers how to be a bit subversive. It remembers how to be energetic. The middle episode of Season Five was called 'Slow News Day', here it's called 'A Good Day'. This is more like it.
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
That was all a long introduction to asking you what films I should watch. People are better than critics after all. If you recommend a film I'll put it on a list somewhere, watch it, then pour my thoughts out onto these beige pages (according to Wikipedia, beige is quite close to the 'average colour of the universe'). You can also recommend bad films if you like. That way I don't have to be so nice all the time.
Thursday, 23 September 2010
To be fair, there's a bit of mystery here. A bad man comes back from the dead and starts doing magical things. Disappointingly though, Holmes figures it all out after the big confrontation. He's not as clever as Cumberbatch. Nowhere near. Cumberbatch would have cleared the whole thing up in a day.
Saturday, 18 September 2010
The CIA seem to be no better at their jobs these days. They definitely didn't see all this coming. Nobody suspects the Russian sleeper agents. They're the ones that pretend to be your friend, then they kidnap your husband and steal the nuclear launch codes. I wonder what Natalya Simonova is doing these days. She was useless. I also wonder what the Russians are planning right now. They're clearly up to something.
Thursday, 16 September 2010
If this is all peeling back one layer of fiction, it goes even further by giving Van Damme a six-minute monologue, where he breaks down all sorts of fourth walls (what are the first three?) by talking straight to the camera. He talks about his life in a cryptic way, and seems to get all emotional about it. It's a film making all sorts of points about the relationship between fiction and reality, but I'm not going to go into that - I've finished my English Literature degree now. And it doesn't look like it's started an art-house career revival for Van Damme, so this may be all the crying we see from him.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Some people have called 3D a revolution in film. Others say it'll be reduced to novelty status by this time next year. I don't know. I've yet to see this extra dimension. 'Things jump off the screen and hang in front of your eyes'. Really? Ok, I'll take your word for it. I'm far behind the rest of Film Land with this. I don't even know what they're talking about. I'm willing to let it go. It's probably got one more chance to impress me. But the glasses: necessity or money-making scheme? Nintendo have made a new DS console that does 3D without glasses. Clever people could make cinema screens like this. If it's revolutionary it must be worth the money.
Saturday, 11 September 2010
It's a film that does conventional things. There's a damsel in a distress and an evil sorcerer in a castle. But it does these things powerfully and with complete conviction. This sort of thing can be done well without lasting three hours. One man on a quest to defeat evil and everything falls into place. I think it slipped through cinemas without anybody noticing, despite picking up good reviews. It's a film that deserves attention. It's an origin story, like the recent Robin Hood film, but doesn't outstay its welcome. Solomon Kane gets the job done.
Thursday, 9 September 2010
But is it required that you watch it? I definitely feel like I know a lot more about Baltimore now, so at the very least it's taught me things. David Simon also says that 'we've treated television as if it's not a mass medium, and we've been rewarded in kind'. I think this means that we now don't expect television to show us anything worthwhile, or teach us anything at all. So what shows hold up to this sort of thinking? That aren't just entertaining, but actually demand your attention. Everyone loves The West Wing, but does it change the way you look at American politics? I think it does, but I'm biased. Does The Sopranos count for anything? Does Doctor Who matter? I'm not saying everything has to be this significant. Entertainment is entertaining, there's no need for everything to be about the real world. But there has to be some. Maybe most of them just haven't been made. Outside of all the hyperbole, which pieces of television are actually that important? Like with most things, I don't know.
Monday, 6 September 2010
Even though the first season didn't really grab me, Dexter has been compelling television ever since. Under less skilled cast and crew, this would be a horrible and nasty examination of a serial killer. Instead it's equal parts funny and disturbing, ironic and a bit scary. It's holding all these elements as it walks a tightrope, always ready to fall off but never losing its footing. It's quite good. But like I said, you already know this.
Friday, 3 September 2010
In some ways it's flimsy. Every now and then Cameron Diaz's character is drugged or knocked out, making the screen go black and fade into a new exotic location. A series of set-pieces with no link, like levels in a game. A lot of action films travel rapidly travel around locations, but not usually so shamelessly. Doesn't really matter though, in much the same way as you ignore Diaz's habit of talking out loud when she's deducing things. It'll do.