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Film FAIL

When it comes to film, this weekend’s viewing has been a total write off. Not only were they bad films, but they have shaken my faith that even the worst movies can have a factor of amusement and that the glorification of mediocrity can in itself be fun. No, these films were bad enough to make me turn, from now on, back to good movies and try to steer clear of films that are known to be crap.

I started the drain spiralling after Saturday’s Picocon with Barb Wire, the ill-advised vehicle for Pamela Anderson’s unsuccessful transition from television to cinema screens. As history has shown, it didn’t work. It’s stupid, campy and post-apocalyptic and it keeps almost being self-aware enough to bring in an element of humour, but every time you think it’s about to redeem itself the dialogue falls flat and you shake your head in wonder that it made it into cinemas at all. It does have two good points though – an overly developed explosives budget, leading to large numbers of fireballs that distract from the horror, and an all-star cast, for values of ‘all-star’ that include the girl from Diagnosis Murder, the guy who got radiation poisoning in 24, Jango Fett and Udo Kier. I so very wanted to like it, but in the end just went to bed feeling depressed.

Sunday was meant to be a turn around for me – I was going to leave the house and go and watch a double bill of Che parts 1 and 2, starring Benicio del Toro’s unkempt facial hair and beret. However, the prospect of sitting in the Odeon Covent Garden, despite it being my favourite cinema, for 4.5 hours, watching a worthy movie about the development of the most famous and iconic revolutionary leader in modern history in the end did not appeal as much as doing half an hour of Wii fit and working out clues for next weekend’s London Transport Museum scavenger hunt. I scanned through the DVDs on offer in the rental machine that sits in the corner of my local Tesco (£1.50 a night and automated, so no embarassing handing a bad movie to the person behind the counter in Blockbuster only to see them make a face and look at you unbelieving) and even there found nothing that jumped out at me. If only I’d caved and chosen Pineapple Express – it may have made me want to cry due to my dislike of it (or so I predict from talking to people about it), but that would have been better than my actual fate. I did almost buy the Emilio Estevez/Lou Diamond Phillips vehicle Renegades from Oxfam, but didn’t in the end, although this was more to do with thinking I’d already seen it rather than a sudden jump in film taste.

After last weeks surprising crop of decent films that I wanted to watch on Sunday evening I turned to the TV guide and looked to see what I could watch for ‘free’. Here is the final mark of my downfall – I chose Batman and Robin.

Now, to most people this seems to be a foolish choice, with no reason behind it at all. Indeed, the good people of Twitter took me to task for my choice, unanimously advising me against such a course of action, but I ignored their, in hindsight excellent, advice and soldiered on. Now, I am a Batman fan – I do have a signed picture of Adam West in costume on my wall (although those who claim that he watches over me as I sleep are reading more than I would like to admit into its positioning of looking down on me as I sleep) and a bubble bath containing statuette modelled on Val Kilmer sitting on the side, as well as a not inconsiderable pile of comics and books related to the Dark Knight – and it felt like a duty to add Joel Schumacher’s take on The Detective to my list of sources, however, as was predicted, it’s two hours of my life that I will never get back, no matter how much I claw at my soul.

I have no problem with ridiculous campness. I rather like puns that would make the average person fall to their knees and cry to the heavens ‘WHY‽’. I even like Uma Thurman when she’s wearing a green swimsuit and acting badly. However, this was just plain awful. From technically, with its horrendous CGI, bad filming (when I can notice that things aren’t in focus you’ve definitely got problems) and shocking editing, to acting that struck me dumb at its terribleness on occasion, I was thankful for the advert breaks that Film 4 inserted, as they gave me time to leave the room and recuperate before going back for another round. I have never wished that a television channel could put in more adverts before, but as it got to the end I had to walk out between breaks as well, ostensibly to finish cooking my dinner, and it was only a dedication to the strange sense of ‘duty’ that watching the film inspired that dragged me back to the sofa. From his first appearance onwards you can see a look of unease in Clooney’s eyes, and you can tell that he is questioning his agent’s advice every time he has to deliver yet another terrible line straight faced to camera. The only saving grace is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who stamps his way through the role of Dr Freeze without a hint of irony as he delivers toe-curling pun after toe-curling pun in a way that I can only admire. When it finished I felt only relieved and at the same time quite proud, as I suspect many others fell by the wayside, dropped by the film’s awesome power for evil. I now see why Joel Schumacher still gets death threats and neither Lost Boys nor Tigerland can stop the powerful urge to punch him in the face and steal his wallet that now imbues every fibre of my being.

In short: really bad.

After that I felt that it was time to return to the fold and reraise my game. I turned to my Lovefilm rental to bring things back to speed – a film seemingly from the IMDB top 250 list that I hadn’t seen, Robert Mitchum’s Night of the Hunter. However, on closer examination it seems that I had actually chosen Richard Chamblerlain’s Night of the Hunter, the critically panned television remake. FILM FAIL, a moment to sum up my weekend’s movie choices. I turned to a background of Qi before losing the will to pour images into my brain and went to bed. The weekend was done. Hooray.

So, tonight I try to jump back into some form of quality movie with a double bill of Frost/Nixon and Milk at the Prince Charles Cinema. Festivities start at 6:05 in the pricy upstairs screen, but £15 is a small price to pay (for members) to watch a couple of movies that I’ve heard should at least go some way in restoring my faith in the film industry. However, I am in a deep pit and I think it’s going to take more than a scary take on Nixon and a camp Sean Penn to drag me out of it. I live in hope.

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