A quick catch up on some films watched on an iPad.
The Idiots Danish
I came across this early Dogme 95 outing yesterday, listed on a random website as one of fifty most controversial films. However, I watched it several months previous. It’s obvious why it made the list.
Though the shock of the plot hits early, I found it wore off as the story developed; it became childish; then it became quite meaningful in a way. I was distracted mostly by the awful camera shake and the clumsy focus pulling than anything else. Thankfully, the crew seemed to get this out of their system, or I simply grew more tolerant, I wasn’t noticing it after a while. Then I suppose they dropped in the orgy scene (nothing simulated, allegedly) towards the end to ramp up the offence but by that stage I was driven by intrigue to see how the story panned out. I felt it punched above its weight in the final.
I read afterwards that Mark Kermode took offence publicly at Cannes, and Jonathan Ross, presumably with his film critic’s cap on, didn’t like it either. If I had known either of those things I would have enjoyed it more.
Le Cochon de Gaza (When Pigs Had Wings) Palestinian, Israeli, French, Belgian, German
A film of a French story made by Belgians, Germans and French, about Palestinian and Israeli communities rubbing along in Gaza, having to deal with a haram, a.k.a. non-kosher, windfall pig from Vietnam. What’s not to like?
An absurd plot, it was funny, entertaining, and I utterly believed all of it.
Or, at the very least, I hope this is as bad as life gets in future, for all the people in this part of the world.
The Hustler US
This would be, I’m thinking, on a list of Hollywood classics. I remembered it better than it is. Dialogue rich and shot entirely indoors, it’s more theatre than cinema. I also found it overly long.
Paul Newman, a huge star and forever handsome, is probably one of those actors who could be charged with always playing himself. He has presence, sure, in spades, but does he have breadth? (I write about him in the present having no idea whether he’s still around. At least he is as far as the screen goes). Anyway, there’s a great supporting cast of likely better actors, not least Piper Laurie.
This original artwork poster is quite fetching though Jackie Gleason looks like a spare part, voyeuristically creeping in on the lovers’ action. Obviously, he’s the bigger star of the time but I felt George Scott played a better part. In colour, this would be a totally different vibe.
Made In Dagenham British
If Paul Newman only plays himself then the same can be said for Britain. Britain nearly always plays television. Everything looks smaller than it could be, not least the film production’s ambition.
There was a moment near the start when I thought this wasn’t going to be the case, as the camera shot from an interesting perspective, high above the housing estate.
Sally Hawkins is a funny thing even when serious. Uncle Bob Hoskins lent much needed weight, the cast delivered their lines, and Miranda Richardson shone brilliantly as Barbara Castle MP. It was a story that needed telling and made one proud to be British!, and wishfully a bit working-class. Even so, this is a film that should bypass DVD and go straight to TV.
Hell Drivers British
Hey! This is more like it. Though the special effects were a little towards the cheap end, this definitely had the look of a film.
Before we get into the story, I was amazed by the cast that had been assembled for this team flick, a kind of spot-who before they made it. A youngish, upstart, Patrick McGoohan. Bejesus!, I hadn’t realised he was that tall. He made a hirsute Sean Connery (yes, him too; was it a toupee on his pate?) look below average stature. And little David McCallum looked like the man from Uncle’s nephew. Hah-hah-ha! Sid James in a serious role, but convincingly so, and William Hartnell – the original Doctor Who, folks! – being vile and heartless, though looking a bit like Charlie Watts of The Stones. Herbert Lom, Gordon Jackson, Alfie Bass….
Anyway, back to the plot. Paced, racy, lean, and thrilling – okay, allow for one or two naff film devices, this is still a very watchable movie, today. Also much historic interest incidentally recorded for posterity in this film, of a past that is vaguely recalled. My favourite scene was when our protagonist, played admirably by Stanley Baker, goes to see his family in London. He gets off a trolley bus and while he crosses the street, out of shot the bus’s electric motor can be heard straining to move on. What a lovely sound! Almost as delightful as a Sid James’ laugh.