12 November 2009

Cinema Corner #309

25 Heshvn - Year 5770

Time for some thoughts on a couple of films:

The Boat That Rocked - I really really wanted to like this, despite it being directed by Richard Curtis, of such rom-com fare as Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill. You can see why I had some trepidations. But hey, Nick Frost is in the cast, and that won me over. Turns out it's not that great, though the film premise, based on one of the English 'pirate radio' ships in the 1960s, is an interesting one. I should say very loosely based, because there are lots of historical inaccuracies. At one point, Chris O'Dowd's character tells the main character, played by Charlie Rowe, to "think outside the box..pretend the box isn't there." Hmmm...now, I wasn't on the planet during the 60s, but I strongly suspect that counter-culture types weren't using lame late-1990s corporate-speak. In another scene, one of the DJs plays The Rolling Stones' Jumpin' Jack Flash, to herald the return of another jockey who left the ship to 'find fame in the U.S.' I think the year the film was supposed to be set in was 1967 and seeing as "J.J.F." wasn't released until 1968 makes that another glaring error. The plot, such as it is, involves Rowe being invited to the boat by his godfather, played with his usual posh-ness by Bill Nighy. Apparently, Rowe's a bit of a wayward child, though he looks like a massive, soppy bookworm. Nighy's character has supposedly invited him aboard to keep him out of trouble...riiiiiiight. On a boat filled with proto-hippies with sex and drugs and rock-n-roll all over the shop. Of course, you never see any of that - well, a little bit of sex, but certainly no drugs. It transpires that Rowe has heard that his estranged father is on the boat and is looking to reunite with him. There's also a tired 'coming-of-age' story about him falling in love with Marianne, another godchild of Nighy's, but then her breaking his heart by shagging Nick Frost's character (they actually play Leonard Cohen's So Long, Marianne during the scene where he's all lovelorn - how cheesy is that?)--don't worry, true believers...they get back together at the end.

There's also "The Count", an American DJ, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (as usual, doing his best with a so-so script) and Gavin Cavanaugh, played by Rhys Ifans as a sort-of psychedelic Howard Stern, another anomaly for the 60s, who's keen to freak out the squares. Kenneth Brannagh plays a drab, humourless government official who's determined to shut down the pirates...with Jack Davenport playing "Mr. Twatt", his assistant. Yes, that gag does get old after about the fifth time Brannagh refers to him by his surname. Curtis does the good/evil thing to death - with the pirate DJs engaging in wacky antics and having colourful Hapshash posters tacked up all over the boat--while the government offices seem cold and grey and all the button-down officials dressed in black or grey all the time. I dunno, maybe London in the late 60s 'was' that polarised, but I suspect things weren't so much. Anyway, the posh kid finds his dad, gets the girl and they all live happily ever after...in the 60s created in Richard Curtis's mind. Oh yeah..the boat sinks. Oop, that's a big spoiler. Ah well, you weren't going to watch it, were you? Good.

2012 - You may have seen this in the past couple of weeks:

That's right. It's the new 'blockbuster' action/disaster film from the guy who directed Independence Day and some other CGI'd crapola. For those who have been following the 2012 meme for a while, you'll know that Terence McKenna had been talking about the 2012 phenomenon since the mid-1970s and even wrote a book about his "Timewave Zero" software and the Mayan calendar called The Invisible Landscape. He posited that 'novelty', or advancement in human critters' thinking would be so fast by December 2012 that a 'new age' would dawn. It would be the 'end of the world', but not really in a literal sense, more of a metaphysical one. James Joyce referred to it as "waking from the nightmare of history".

It seems that the meme was hijacked by various other groups, including some Christian eschatologists. They are taking the more literal translation - that there will be super-storms, floods, earthquakes and on and on. According to them, the world will end in December 2012. They use global warming and the various wars and unrest around the globe to lend credence to their theory. Enter Roland Emmerich and his film. Playing on these fears, he's concocted yet another 'the-humans-are-doomed-but-there's-a-glimmer-of-hope' scenario. He and his cronies started a viral marketing campaign with fake websites and teaser clips. One of the websites offered a lottery system, so visitors could win a place in the remainder of humanity, after the shit hit the fan. Nice way to stoke the hysteria.

I haven't seen the film, nor do I intend to. I actually sat through that Day After Tomorrow fiasco--not in the cinema, mind - just on the toob. I seriously wanted the two hours of my life back after it finished. I also sat through a rental of Deep Impact and wasn't impressed with that either. Sure, "2012" looks nice, with it's CGI depictions of Vatican domes collapsing and highways crumbling....hundred-foot high tsunamis crashing into beachfronts and skyscrapers being snapped like kindling. Mainly, it just seems like a monument to fatalistic thinking and the co-opting of yet another counter-culture meme by greed-heads. If you've seen it, I hope you had your money's worth. If you haven't - try not to give your money to these cretins. Fuck Roland Emmerich and his death-trip vision. As McKenna said: "I don't know what's going to happen..it may be that people just get a little smarter and legalise marijuana or something similar."

Edward Woodward: Sadly, the man has passed away. Aside from his brief stint on East Enders earlier this year, the last thing I saw him in is the hilarious Hot Fuzz. He was also in the decent 80s TV show The Equalizer and of course, the awesome Wicker Man....the original, not the shit re-make with Nicolas Cage. I also remember watching Breaker Morant on cable in the early 80s. I didn't understand the complexities of the Boer conflict, but I did think Woodward was brilliant. R.I.P. Edward - the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance won't be the same without you.


Anonymous said...

Great post mate, especially your Edward Woodward tribute - an actor who should have been far better known than he is. His performance in 'The Wicker Man' is fabulous (as is the entire film).

Now, what can you expect from a Richard Curtis film?? I'm seriously glad I've never seen this piece of crap.

Having written the above paragraph I will now undermine myself completely by saying I'm looking forward to '2012'. I'm sure it is bollocks as far as cinematic art goes but I am a total sucker for 'diaster' films like this. 'The Day After Tomorrow' was terible, on reflection, but I enjoyed it enough in the cinema. As far as the whole 2012 phenomenom goes, I agree that it is definitely getting high-jacked by fundamentalists and fools (that's a piece of tautology there, I believe!). There are certainly lots of fascinating theories about what it all means and I'll continiue to enjoy reading some of this nonsense but I am concerned that some lunatics will begin to take it rather seriously. It's almost as though it could become a self-fulfilling prophesy due to humanity's general stupidity and lack of imagination.

Let's hope I'm wrong!

The Purple Gooroo said...

Cheers, Bear!

I know, I know...never again..no more Richard Curtis films, no matter what the premise is.

It's all good - I do get dazzled by the CGI stuff..it's pretty amazing what can be created nowadays. I hope you're wrong about 2012 as well - but on my more misanthropic days, I agree with you. Sometimes I think humanity isn't worth saving - but that's only sometimes.