Friday, September 08, 2006

Day four, early morning

Well, it's back to the good old Varsity multiplex, where we easilly get back into the swing of things. Things are going to get hot and heavy today, yesterday was too, but had a decent pace with only four films to see:

Confetti

Written and Directed
by Debbie Isitt

Here we go again: yet another spoof of reality television. The ultimate parody was a thing called “Series 7” [rent it], but if you can't find it at the video shop, this'll do very nicely.

The title refers to a wedding magazine, whose chief editorial staff (Felicity Montagu and Jimmy Carr) thinks that this year's “wedding of the year” competition should be one for the most original [read: “bizarre”] one, it sounds like something which has already been done, and perhaps there was a pilot for a show like this, but this is a procedural flick and we're going to see the entire process.

We begin with the pitches. It's clear that they're not going to do the most original theme wedding because the some of the failed pitches are more interesting than the three they like, which are:
Matt(Martin Freeman) and Sam(Jessica Stevenson) want to do a 1930s Hollywood musical-themed wedding, Josef(Stephen Mangan) and Isabelle(Meredith MacNeill) want to do a Tennis themed nuptial, and finally, Michael(Robert Webb) and Joanna (Olivia Colman) are nudists and want to do it in the buff.

So the magazine hires Famed gay wedding consultants Archie Heron(Vincent Franklin) and Gregory Hough (Jason Watkins) to plan the events, which are to take place at the same venue and the games officially begin.

Auteur Debbie Isitt wrote a treatment but not a script. In order to keep this spontaneous, all the dialogue was improvised so when
Matt's best friend Snoopy (Mark Wootton) auditions a wedding song for the couple and the planner, it's a punker “you make me sick” kind of thing, and the use of the actor's real friends and relations [Isabelle's tennis coach is really a tennis coach]. Some of it works and some of it doesn't, the important thing is that the hits far outnumber the misses. On the other hand, there's no suspense, as we know who's going to win the entire time. This makes some of the other stuff going on a bit more poignant.

This is something to see if you're actually betrothed or have just come back from a honeymoon. Not great but, quite cute.

SUBURBAN MAYHEM

Directed by
Paul Goldman

19-year old Katrina Skinner(Emily Barclay) is evil. Pure unadulterated evil. she's even more evil that her brother Danny(Laurence Breuls), who's in jail for life [he decapitated a clerk with a samurai sword] and that's saying something. Her long-suffering father John((Robert Morgan) and his longtime girlfriend Dianne (Genevieve Lemon) have had enough of her shananagens, which includes things like being the official town slut and shoplifting , and are threatening to do something about it. Kat has a baby named Bailee (some kid), and with no prospects for a career, which she doesn't want anyway, action must be taken.

So the film begins with what the immediate aftermath of said action, namely her dad's funeral. The film takes the mockumentery format, with faux interviews with the various characters done in a grainy video while the flashbacks of the events leading to the death of Dad are done in film. We follow Kat as she wreaks havoc with the lives of her boyfriend Rusty (Michael Dorman), an innocent manicurist named Lilya(Mia Wasikowska) Danny's retarded best friend Kenny(Anthony Hayes) and the family of Constable Andretti(Steve Baston), who is on the case. This is an Aussie black comedy as we've come to expect it, very punk and a sense of right and wrong, but just not caring.

Barclay's Kat is sort of like Paris Hilton on steroids, she's a train wreck and is having a great time being one. The rest of the cast is decent. This is not a great film, but its kind of fun.

THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY

Written and Directed
by Ken Loach

What is the difference between terrorism and revolution? What are the rules of war when only one side agrees to play by them? And when the game is over, what if one side doesn't actually want to stop playing? That's the tragedy of Ireland in the first quarter of the 20th century. Ken Loach tries to answer that in what seems to be biased retelling of the history of the Irish revolution and civil war which followed it.

When we first meet him, Dr. Damien O'Conner(Cillian Murphy) is a pacifist who's going to go work in London, when the war ruins his plans. He and his brother Teddy(Padraic Delaney) are playing a form of field hockey with his friends Micheail(Laurence Barry), Finbar (Damien Kearney),Leo(Frank Bourke), Rory(Myles Horgan), Dan(Liam Cunningham) and Chris(John Crean), something that has been banned by the British authorities. The “Black and Tans” get wind of this little act of rebellion and counterattack by heading to the house of Damien's girlfriend Sinead(Orla Fitzgerald) and her grandmother (Mary Riordan)s, and start harassing the players. Micheail acts defiantly obnoxious, and pays with his life.

Damien is determined to leave this all behind when he sees some soldiers try to buy some train tickets, only to be told that the engineer refuses to let them on the train. They respond with violence, and this not only ruins Damien's trip, but drives him to join the Irish Republican Army. He and his pals are now soldiers at war, except they're dressed in civies and go around like normal people, except when they meet up with the British soldiers, who suspecting the truth, treat them as the enemy. They innocently respond with murder. The British don't like this at all, and there's more reprisals, which leads to even more (this is a low level war) and we get to see our “heroes” kidnap and execute the local lord (Roger Allam) and their pal Chris, who betrayed them. Justice in the areas controlled by the revolutionaries is definitely in the communist mold, which causes dissention in the ranks.

Thing get worse when the war against the British is one and the Irish turn on each other, leading to a heartbreaking ending.

This is a brutal film of terrorism and how it works. What's strange is that Ken Loach and Paul Laverty's screenplay is very much pro-terrorist, having the anti-treaty forces in the civil war be the good guys and the leaders of the newly independent Irish government portrayed as traitors, when in fact it was the other way around.

The acting is excellent. Murphy is overdue for an Oscar®, and the rest of the cast does a bang up job. This is one heck of a scary movie. If you're interested in history, it's worth a look.

Days of Glory(Indigenes)

Written and Directed
by Rachid Bouchareb


Just when you think that every group has had it's own World War II movie, yet another group comes out of nowhere to remind us that they played a vital role in the defeat of the Nazis all those decades ago. Nothing wrong with that, but is pretty much the same thing all over again. This time, it's the North Africans, who fought under the French flag from the liberation of their country by the Americans all the way to VE day.

We start in 1943, where an uncredited mullah wanders through certain towns in Morocco and Algeria looking for recruits, and getting them easily. Among them are Said Labiri(Jamel Debbouze), a young naïf with dreams of glory, Yassir Allaoui(Samy Nacer), a sharpshooter who enlisted to get out of doing forced labor in Morocco, Messaoud Souni(Roschdy Zem), who is looking for love and can't find any back home, and Corporal Abdelkader Bellaidi (Sami Bouajila), who has been in the French army since just before the war. They are joined by their commander Sargent Martinez (Bernard Blancan), who isn't Moslem, but comes from North Africa.

While we are able to follow the characters rather easily, each of them is an everyman, who goes through the same experiences as everyone else from his ethnic group during the war. While it's nice to see this experience from a slightly different perspective, it's still the same old thing. The purpose of the film is to show that the North Africans were treated badly by the French and they also played an important part in the war to liberate Europe, and for this they should be remembered. If you're a WW2 enthusiast this may be worth a look, but Speilberg did it better with “Saving Private Ryan.”

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