Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I think I’ve created a rod for my own back with all these movie reviews (such as they are)

I watched a bunch of movies over the weekend and I'm gonna do reviews (such as they are) for each of them below. I must share with you, though, that I'm losing faith in my scoring system. Perhaps marks out of 100 are too difficult. Perhaps films that are actually quite good end up being lumped in with the average. Or maybe that's the peril of any scoring system. I rather suspect the latter, really, but who's to say? Certainly when I look in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, which used to be my film bible, you can find films with the same score that are clearly on different planes altogether.

I've been toying, instead, with the idea of a tiered scoring system: 20 points for story; 20 for direction; 20 for acting; 20 for enjoyment; 20 for cerebral pleasure. Or something like that. And then a total out of 100. How does that sound? Does anyone really care? This is, after all, just me being a movie snob/movie bore, isn't it?

Oh well, without further movie masturbation, let's get on with my thoughts on the weekend's viewing...

Paradise Now
A film about two young Palestinian men undertaking a suicide-bombing mission in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv: what could be more fun on a Sunday afternoon? Well, you know, it actually was quite good fun in places. Israel was up in arms about this film's inclusions in the Oscars shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film last year. Partly, apparently, because Palestine is the country of origin, and that country is not officially recognized as a country, hence it couldn't be recognized at the Oscars. Red-tape nonsense, and thankfully the MPAA has now changed its rules. (This film still had its nomination, but didn't win.) The story itself is compelling, as you'd expect, revealing to us the sort of motives that lead intelligent boys to this pretty futile end. Of course, the story has a very pro-Palestine bent, as you'd expect, but even so I think it would make interesting viewing for those with opinions on either side of the fence. The interplay between the male leads is fascinating, and there are several moments of real tension. A very good film: 70 out of 100.

5x2 (Cinq Fois Deux)
Wife and I can't quite figure out why this was on our Lovefilm queue. I thought I'd put it on after seeing a trailer, but on rewatching the trailer after the movie, it doesn't ring any bells. No matter. We were both a little apprehensive, seeing as director François Ozon let us down so spectacularly with Swimming Pool earlier in the year, the only good bits being the young lead's thrupennies; the rest of that film really stunk. 5x2 was a marked improvement, thankfully. It tells the tale of a couple, from beginning to end of their relationship, over the course of around five years. But in reverse, like Pinter's Betrayal. It was compelling and typically French, despite a really unappealing lead male character. Well acted, well directed, well told. Yet somehow... what was it, really? An exercise in cleverness? A hunt for clues to the break-up? Maybe I would feel differently without Betrayal as a point of reference, but I couldn't help thinking I'd see this kind of thing before. And of course not only in that Pinter play, but also more recently in Hollywood's Memento and France's classic modern urban horror Irréversible. Good, but not great: 66 points.

The Dark
Sean Bean and Maria Bello, ably assisted by Maurice Roëves: what could possibly go wrong? At the very least, we are sure to see Maria with her tits out and/or getting head, no? Alas, it was not to be this time around, on either count. Instead, she runs around like a blue-assed fly shouting "Sarah!" a lot, Sarah being the name of her daughter, who is missing presumed drowned on a trip to see her father (Bean) in Wales. I know Mr Bean (heh heh) has his admirers. My Hong Kong-based blogmate Soupdragon is obsessed with the man, but I can't help but say I think he's a really poor actor (sorry Soupy). I don't think I've ever seen him good in anything, with the possible exception of Patriot Games and an honourable mention for Flightplan, the latter being the only film in which I can honestly say Sean Bean was underused, so awful was everything else. I can't even bring myself to say much more. Really rather bad. I dunno: 28 out of 100?

The Ninth Gate
This has been languishing on the hard drive for ages, and finally I sat down to watch it. I really didn't know what to expect, but it's Polanski and Depp, so it can't be all bad, right? Kind of. Depp is great, really looking as though he's enjoying himself in this quirky role. The story has moments of comedy, but it isn't quite the thriller/horror that I thought it was going to be. Silly, hokey, amusing fun, but about half an hour too long. I give this 60 points.

Along Came A Spider
I saw this on TV the other night, though I missed the first half-hour. I don't think it has any great bearing of my opinion of the film. By-the-numbers action thriller, à la Kiss The Girls and The Bone Collector. Predictable, boring. Passes the time, if that's what you're looking for, without raising the pulse rate too much. This scores 43 out of 100.


Blogger Red said...

Well, what do you know? The film that I chose, the one that made you roll your eyes in despair ("another heavy film..."), the one that made us fight in Sainsbury's car park gets the best score.

Who's the daddy? I'm the daddy!!! Rock on...

And I think you can shave another 15 points or so off the score for The Dark and redistribute them liberally between Paradise Now and 5x2...

05 December, 2006 11:03  
Blogger Milla said...

Isn't Depp sexy in 9th Gate? I mean, it's only because I saw the film at the cinema that I didn't lick the screen in lust.

05 December, 2006 12:24  
Blogger Karen said...

After your harsh treatment of Mr. Bean, I'm starting to question your ability to review movies. THe reason you don't "get him"? You're a man. 'Nuff said.

I'm interested to know what you thought of Michael Wincott in "Along Came a Spider"? He's one of my faves.

05 December, 2006 13:25  
Blogger a.c.t said...

I loved Paradise now, I thought it was so original in the way they portrayed it from the point of view we don't normally see. The final scene was really powerful in an understated way -I expected a loud 'boom'.

05 December, 2006 13:48  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Red: Yes, you are the daddy, well done. But you know i was interested in seeing Paradise Now, too; it was a question of timing. Grrr.

Milla: I'm not A Gay, y'know, but Depp is almost always sexy. In Ninth Gate, he did have an interesting kind of bookish, geeky sexiness to him. In the seduction scene with Lena Olin, I half expected him to decline her.

Karen: Ah, so you like the Beanster, huh? Granted he's not got a face like a box of snails, but it was his acting upon which I was passing comment. And that, I can't help but reiterate, leaves a lot to be desired -- almost everything, in fact. I like Michael Wincott, though. He looked cool in Along Came A Spider, I thought. Almost normal, too.

ACT: Definitely. Nice spoiler, by the way!

05 December, 2006 14:23  
Blogger a.c.t said...

I know, I couldn't resist ;-)

05 December, 2006 15:49  
Blogger Sheamus the... said...

Hmmm...the 9th Gate has always been a film that I have wanted to see on th eback of my own hard drive but never got around to it and it doesnt look like I will still. Paradise Now was recommended to me but still need t ocheck it out. Along Came a Spider...isnt that a sequel to Kiss the Girls. I think it is...I might be wrong though.

05 December, 2006 16:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been passing up Paradise Now for awhile now - but if you say it's good, I'll rent it. Of course if I don't like it I'm going to have to throw my shoe in your general direction;-)

05 December, 2006 16:36  
Blogger Kate said...

I agree with your review of 9th Gate. It's not the greatest film ever made, but it is fun, and Johnny Depp gives a good performance (but I suppose he always does)

Liked Michael Wincott in Along Came a Spider too. The film itself is ok, a bit slick, but watchable.

I'll have you know, Sean Bean is a fine actor, you obviously just don't appreciate the subtleties of his stupendous talents - ok maybe not LOL He was under used in Flightplan - not once did he remove a single item of clothing. What a waste :-(

05 December, 2006 16:45  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

well, guess i've got another movie (or two) to add to my queue...

and you know i'm going to check out the ninth gate even though it didn't receive your best review ;)

i'm definitely anxious to see paradise now... sounds really interesting!

(and the only movies i enjoyed sean bean in were -- as you mentioned -- patriot games and -- one of my very favorite movies -- fellowship of the ring (well, the whole LOTR trilogy, really)

05 December, 2006 16:48  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

ACT: Bad girl.

Shea: Be interested in your views on The Ninth Gate and Paradise Now, when you get around to them. Spider may have been a sequel. I didn't even look it up, to be honest. Makes sense, though.

LDBug: Well, all shoes gratefully received, obviously.

Kate: Johnny's always good; and I like films where the actors seem to be having a good time. Spider: yeah, watchable. It seems all defenders of Bean's acting are female, and like it when his acting includes removal of clothing. Hmmm.

Martha: Yeah, I'd forgotten the Beanie Baby was in LOTR; probably because I've only seen one of them in its entirety, having fallen asleep for half an hour of the middle one, and missed the third one altogether. Oh well.

05 December, 2006 17:02  
Anonymous cappy said...

good scoring system, but how do we know what gets what out of what for what and what? what? eh? they still get summat out of 100! i am too stupid to be this confused!


06 December, 2006 12:05  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cappy: Don't worry, I'll summarize, giving points for each category. Not stupid; sensible. What?

06 December, 2006 15:26  

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