Saturday, January 15, 2005

House Of Flying Dire Metaphors

I realised my prospects for the oncoming term were bleak when our supposed 'Literature, Media and Modern Culture' seminar 'tutor' decided to shamelessly confess that she 'knows nothing about film theory and media terminology'. Somehow she managed to overwhelm even this horrifying admission with the preposterous suggestion that we 'use [our] media expertise to inform her'. This statement is doubly ridiculous - a) it assumes that we've built up a foundation of knowledge, as opposed to knowing concepts for exactly as long as it takes to write an essay about them and forgetting about them immediately afterwards and b) that 90% of English and Media students are actually going to consider contributing vocally to a seminar. A truly ludicrous idea.

As part of this nebulously titled course an extremely reluctant contingent of students was forced to endure the hollow 'comedy' of Charlie Chaplin, surely the most spectacular unfunny comic creation ever. 'Modern Times', an epic film stretching over several millennia, was supposedly a humorous indictment of modernity and the industrialisation of the world. Well, it may have been humorous in 1936 prior to the invention of the joke anyway. Charlie Chaplin must have been the most optimistic man alive to believe that the sole remedial features of a) a stupid moustache and b) an idiotic walk would remain funny for ninety minutes of truly agonising cinematic excretion. Or indeed for 70 years of truly agonising cinematic excretion.

Continuing this theme, here's my (extremely subjective, prejudiced and transparently biased, just like all good film critics) opinion of two recent cinematic releases. And warning, these contain a vast number of spoilers:

HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS

If you enjoyed the Matrix series, this film provides essential viewing material. The phenomenal action sequences within this film feature some truly mesmerising cinematography as a supposedly blind woman fends off hordes of sword wielding assassins armed only with her instincts and an impossibly accurate throw. However, the plot is ridiculous - and the dialogue far worse. In fact, my award for Most Blatant Overuse Of A Damn Stupid Simile 2004 goes to this film. For some mysterious and baffling reason the writer has the bewildering idea that 'free like the wind' is both an original and an intelligent simile. Using it once is foolhardy. Using it twice is painful. Using it repeatedly and concentrating the entire moralistic value of the film around it is plain infuriating:

HERO: So why are you called that idiotic name of yours?
HEROINE: Because I want to be free...like the wind! Fly...like the bird! Brighten the world... like the sun! Live forever... like the angels! Insert....moronic simile here!
HERO: Oh. Deep. How do we escape from the sword wielding assassins?
HEROINE: Be free... like the wind! Run...like the cheetah!
HERO: Genius. Why did you remove that dagger from your heart and throw it arbitrarily at a tree, thereby causing yourself terminal blood loss when the rational thing to do would be to wait until I finish killing this bloke I've been in hilariously overdone non-stop hand-to-hand combat with for the last year or so and then allow me to dress your wound and save your life?
HEROINE: Because I wanted to be free... like the wind! And ensure a suitably formulaic and depressing... pseudo-arty conclusion to this film!
HERO: Oh for CRYING OUT LOUD! Why don't you just roll over and die... like a BAD JOKE! Stop holding up the end credits, this sequence has lasted HALF A BLOODY HOUR NOW. DIE! DIE! DIE!
HEROINE: Don't I get a final pretentious speech crammed full of childish similes and meaningless vacuous metaphors?
HERO: NO!
HEROINE: Oh. (dies in suitably arty pose)

Ed's Summary: Enthralling action sequences and cinematography. Awful dialogue, shallow and formulaic conspiracy plot, unconvincing romance between main protagonists and a very disappointing conclusion.

Ed's Rating: 5.5/10

WHITE NOISE

White Noise is a formulaic psychological thriller about a man's deceased wife attempting to communicate with him via various recording media (cassette tape, video recorder etc). Although genuinely hair-raising and intriguing for a substantial time as the hero realises that the technology is enabling him to become aware of deaths that have not yet occurred but has absolutely no idea how this is happening, the film suffers from two principal maladies. The first of these is Michael Keaton, who brings his own special brand of woodenness to the role and is terminally handicapped by the 'hey look! it's Batman pretending to be a normal guy!' factor (which, admittedly, isn't really his fault). The second of these is yet another diabolical conclusion:

RANDOM BLOKE: Yes, it was me all along! Mwuhahaha! Bet you'd never have guessed that eh??
MICHAEL KEATON: Well, considering that a) you've appeared in the film for all of three seconds before this point, b) I and the audience know absolutely nothing about you whatsoever and c) you're utterly unnecessary and the conclusion could function quite easily without you, it hadn't actually occurred to me, no.
RANDOM BLOKE: But this film needs a villain!
MICHAEL KEATON: Shame the writers only realised that 130 minutes in really wasn't it?
RANDOM BLOKE: Shut up and die without putting up a fight or asking me anything about my motivation, character role, whether I have any kind of real point, the reason why I killed your wife and all the others, etc.
MICHAEL KEATON: Why?
RANDOM BLOKE: COS I DON'T BLOODY KNOW AND THE AUTHORS CAN'T BE ARSED TO USE THEIR INTELLIGENCE TO BRING TOGETHER THE VARIOUS MYSTIFYING NARRATIVE STRANDS IN A COHERENT AND SATISFYING WAY, OKAY?! JUST FIGURE THAT I'M A BOG STANDARD SHALLOW PSYCHO WHO DOESN'T NEED MOTIVATION!!
MICHAEL KEATON: Okay (dies).

Ed's Summary: Intriguing premise which isn't developed as well as is promised throughout the greater part of the film. Terrible conclusion.

Ed's Rating: 7/10

In other news, tonight is 'Lad's Night', taking place at that epic bastion of drinking that is Sussex University Campus. This should promise a number of amusing escapades. Usually I remain reasonably sober while those around me provide all manner of excellent material for one of these entries, so watch this space!

Ed's Mood: Excellent

Ed's Incessant Auto-Repeat Musical Tip: Smashing Pumpkins - Tear

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home