Thursday, September 3, 2009
Summer 2009 Round-up.
‘Enjoy Summer 2009 at the cinema’, instructs the video. But summer’s the season of big, brash, balls-out, CGI-heavy, plot-light, no-brain blockbusters. Isn’t it?
Well, yes. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Whilst I’m not suggesting you should throw out all concern for substance and actually watch Transformers 2, a season of dumb, noisy and occasionally epic films can sometimes be more than a little fun.
So, here’s a round-up of my summer at the cinema; some good, some average and some dull as hell.
First up, Brüno. It’s a while now since I saw Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat-but-different cringe-along. I remember laughing a lot, yes, but being inclined to agree with most of the reviews I read at the time; Brüno is very funny, but it suffers from using a paint-by-numbers template all too obviously. In Borat, a flimsy plot took a naïve foreigner to America, with funny conversations showing some Americans to be pretty astonishingly racist at times. In Brüno, er…. a flimsy plot takes a naïve foreigner to America etc etc. There are some genius moments - Paula Abdul (who?) sitting on a Mexican whilst talking about her humanitarian concerns is brilliant and the swinger’s party is pretty unbelievable – but I’m struggling to remember the scenes already, which is never a good sign.
X-men origins: Woverine. Good fun but completely forgettable. The motorbike-into-the-helicopter scene is cool but this is cinema-froth. Tasty, but froth all the same.
One of the best films of the summer, to my mind, was the wonderful Coraline. A lot of noise has been made about 3D revolutions this year, loved by some, dismissed by others, but Coraline justifies the hype single-handedly. The 3D was fun, there was lots of it, but it was never the main show. The main show was the bonkers world of button-eyed crazies that spilled from the screen. This is one of very few of this summer’s films that I would go and see again without hesitation.
Next up, Public Enemies. I’m puzzled by this one. I thought I enjoyed it a lot; it had Johnny Depp performing outlandish gangster moves – bank robberies and prison breaks - with lawman Christian Bale in hot pursuit. Looking back at it, though, I don’t feel overly keen to see it again. I think I’m forced to damn it with faint praise and admit that it was (merely) a good film. It was good; better by far than most of what I watched this summer but… a little short of the major leagues. I think I’d rent it, but I won’t be rushing out to buy it.
I also certainly have no intention of buying the latest instalment in the Harry Potter series, HP and the Half Blood Prince. Much like the Wolverine film, it looked brilliant and the action bits were exciting (the zombie-ish creatures emerging from the lake in the cave were wonderful) but there was noticeably less action; the film was way too long and –for large parts, at least – numbingly tedious. I won’t even be renting this one…
That just leaves me with a two; Inglourious Basterds and Funny People. I’m not going to review Inglourious Basterds – I think it deserves a full review and I need to see it again – look out for it sometime soon. As for Funny People? How Seth Rogen was wasted in such an excruciatingly dull film is beyond me. Did anyone let him see the script beforehand? There were some good bits to pick out; the relationship between Seth and his housemates is hilarious (though sadly doesn’t get the screen time it merits) and the footage of the stand-ups actually doing stand-up is suitably funny. But the rest? The rest is dire. I can’t really work out what they were trying to do. Whole chunks of the film tread a line between being a comedy and a drama about Adam Sandler’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend… but I just don’t care. Sandler isn’t a sympathetic character, nor is his ex, nor is his ex’s husband. We’re left with three boring, self-centred characters not being funny. This leaves Seth Rogen as the easily the stand-out best character but any attempt to drag the film into being half-way decent is an uphill battle. Put simply, it’s crap.
So, that was summer. Here we are in September with Autumn coming soon. Of the ‘Summer 2009’ list I still want to see Broken Embraces and District 9 (tomorrow!) but then it’ll be time for a new season of film.