Saturday, 29 January 2011

I barely recognize this country anymore. The government's got us seeing Communists in our soup

No 453 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Director - Steven Spielberg

So 20 years have past since Indiana Jones rode away from Petra... and the question that some people might have been asking is "What is he up to now?"

Well.... turns out he's still up to the same old shenanigans.

This is a difficult film to analyse because all the pieces are there, everything SHOULD work, and yet.... somehow.... it doesn't. I don't want to turn this into a purist rant about how the trilogy didn't need to be revisited, but I will talk about the things that did work and (in my opinion) the things that didn't work.

Before I go on.... I want to say, I don't mind the Aliens - sorry, Pan-Dimensional Beings. I don't really see how they are any more unbelievable or ridiculous than the sheer bonkers nonsense that is the old old old man guarding the holy grail.

The first one of these is that it really feels like it is trying too hard to appease fans.... and I think that this may be something to do with Mr Lucas. Who has shown time and time (with both the Star Wars Prequel trilogies and the re-cgi'd relaunches) that he just loves throwing as much shit as possible into a story and as many nods as he can to previous films.
So the opening action sequence upsets me for three reasons.... firstly, the Russians are lazy villains... they're just the Nazis with different accents. However, they fade in comparison with the other two issue (which are linked) and it all stems from having a massive scene in the mysterious warehouse of mystery.... which kinda means it loses some of that mystery. It is no longer a hushed up secret that we barely glimpsed. We're now following flying gunpowder on an official tour.
But worst of all.... during the battle scene they decide to show us the Ark of the Covenant.... in case we forgot. Completely unnecessary.

However, whilst the sequence does annoy me, there is one shining light. Cate Blanchett is hamming it up with a marvellous level of gusto and with the wobbliest accent which flipflops from Eastern European to English with alarming speed. But Blanchett does open the floodgates for a cavalcade of marvellous actors sticking their heads in. Probably because it'd be dead fun to be in an Indy film.

At the top of the list, most worthy of note are the two British legends Mr John Hurt and Mr Jim Broadbent. Both are (naturally) wonderful and fit into the lovely 1950's world of adventure. At the bottom of the list is Shia 'The Beef' LeBeouf in his role of Mutt (hoho he picked his name to be a dog's name like what Indiana did)

He is a very bland character and whilst he does get the coolest and most preposterous action sequence.... he also gets one so cringeworthy it makes me want to cry.

And whilst I don't want to pin all of the film's failings on Shia LeBeouf, he is central to the flaw... which is the family dynamic. Even the sheer excitement of Marion returning is numbed when they spend large amounts of time being boring and talking about the family. Marion shines when the action sequences begin and she is allowed to forget the 25 years of history and just be reckless, driving trucks off cliffs.

She doesn't deserve to have her brilliance lessened, the way it is by this film.

And I suppose thats the main problem.... what we have is a film which is much much less than the sum of its parts. That doesn't quite feel like an Indiana Jones romp.
It may be that CGI has cheapened action - now that ANYTHING is possible, it just doesn't impress as much as it used to - now it has to be an unbelievable stunt which is also PRESENTED in an unbelievable way.
It may just be that we've sort of done the 'Indy as a dad' thing with Short Round and we've sort of done the 'Indy's issues with family' with Henry Jones Snr - so this film feels redundant. Its sad.... but true.

And of course, that moment where Mutt picks up the hat and no one is sure whether this means he'll be continuing the franchise (because I wouldn't put ANYTHING past moneyeyes Lucas)... well, that's the scariest thing in the entire of Indiana Jones history. Fuck the Thuggee.

However. What we do learn, is the sheer enduring power of Indiana Jones. Because whether he is portrayed in silhouette or just 2 key props on a box. He is unmistakable. And he is a hero.

Just don't make anymore....

The quest for the grail is not archeology, it's a race against evil.

No 306 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Director Steven Spielberg

When watching the films as a set in succession (as I have just done) - the qualities of this film (which I always remembered as the weakest of the original trilogy) really shine through. After the darkness of face melting and nightmare tribes, the far more jokey vibe of this film seem a lot more appropriate. There is a lot of good in The Last Crusade.... lets check it out.

Really - what we're doing with the trilogy is building and then - to a certain degree - deconstructing a legend. So where Raiders of the Lost Ark gave us the hero and a romantic foil who is his equal, the sequels begin to look at how he behaves with people less suited to his adventurous lifestyle. Whether they be children and civilians (Short Round shows Indy's paternal streak far more beautifully than his relationship with Mutt... but I'm jumping forward a film) or whether they be his own estranged family.

The films show us just enough to understand Indiana (or, as we learn from this film Henry Jones Junior) without cheapening the myth or removing the enigma.
The film begins by firstly showing Indy as a child - always a risk as it can cheapen the character, but thankfully here played by the marvellous River Phoenix. And whilst we never needed to know why Indy is scared of snakes or why he decided to carry a whip (a weapon which proves to be endlessly versatile throughout the franchise) or why he has a fedora, it IS nice to know that he was always a badass with an unshaking loyalty to things belonging in museums.

Fast forward and we go on Indy's most bonkers quest to date. The holy grail. I'm not sure why I find it so preposterous, but there is something inherently surreal about a 900 year old man, much more than a face melting ark or some Sankara stones of mass destruction... however, the ridiculousness of the film doesn't matter because it is so fun - and this plays almost entirely down to the fizzing and sparkling chemistry between two men who (whilst often quipping) aren't renown for their comedy sensibilities.

Connery and Ford are marvellous on screen together... Indy's resentment to his father crackles throughout and Connery manages to pull the most fabulous unimpressed faces. There is something quite delicious about an adrenaline fuelled action adventure ending with a withering look from one's father.
Connery takes the film and makes it something more than an enjoyable romp. He makes it wonderful.... mixing comedy - see him an Ford bickering over women (Elsa is -at last - a fabulous female character complete with fab moral grey areas) - and actual emotion (I think that as Henry realises his son may have died, we get on of Connery's finest acting moments).

The film zips along and really benefits from having the Nazis as villains. Because, you can make the Nazis appear bumbling fools without really offending anyone.... whereas an Indian cult (even an Evil one) has the dangerous tightrope of racism. This film clearly relishes in scuppering the Nazis' plans (however - as I learnt from Lego Indiana Jones, the Nazis love to over complicate things) and even fit in a Hitler sight gag.

There are other things to enjoy in this film... for example, with the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword (are they baddies? really?) we get Indy's best dressed combatants. We get the return of Sallah - I don't think I mentioned it in Raiders.... but I bloody love John Rhys-Davies in these films, but he just helps to build a near faultless entourage aiding Indy on this brilliant romp.

And I think - almost more so than the two before it - romp is the key word for this film. As it travels to far flung destinations, castles and ancient wonders and as the peril is kept fairly light hearted it means there is no trauma.

This is a happy little adventure.... and we are happy to see Indy and his entourage walk off into the sunset.

Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory

No 233 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Director - Steven Spielberg

Well... Whilst the sight of a Nazi's face melting off may be a dark ending to Raiders of the Lost Ark, it is nothing compared to the outright horror that makes up Temple of Doom.... We are in for some rough times in our PG rating. Some tough times indeed.

However, firstly, Spielberg lulls us into a false sense of security by offering what must be the campest introduction in all of his career:

So... we're in the fab 30's before war has broken out and before Raiders has taken place... And Indy is getting himself into trouble - and after an awesome little shoot out we are saddled with Indy's new sidekicks for the film....

and this is where Temple of Doom falters. After the excellent double bill of Sallah and Marion, leaving us with Willie and Short Round feels like a punishment. Especially as most of their character seems built around screaming.
In fact about 95% of Willie's screen time is scream time. That pun is gold!.

Short Round at least has some redeeming features, I particularly like the sheer idolisation with which Jonathan 'Booby Traps' Ke Quan plays towards Indy. The little moments that they share and which aren't shouting are quite gentle.
It creates a father son relationship of sorts, which plays nicely with the ladies man which was painted in film 1.

However, what I really want to talk about are the Thuggee - again we are plunged head first into an interesting tale of folklore and mythology, kept entertained by disgusting meals, sexual farcery and rollicking mine carts.... The set pieces are huge and audacious, but they all pale to the sheer horror of the villains.

The Thuggee are a genuine old Hindu cult, and whilst Wikipedia does describe some of their actions and beliefs - nothing prepares me for the horrors in this.... A FAMILY FILM.

If we ignore the torture and child abuse which runs rampant throughout this - the scenes involving human sacrifice are probably the scariest thing I've ever seen in a PG which doesn't involve Skeksis!

The film rattles on at a marvellous pace, and tells a great story. The set pieces are large and bombastic, but for me - everything is just slightly outweighed by the annoyance of Willie (who really does very little of use) and by the nightmarish qualities of the film.

Professor of Archeology, expert on the occult, and how does one say it... obtainer of rare antiquities

No 2 - Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Director - Steven Spielberg

A hand brushes through the jungle. The brim of a fedora throws a strong jaw into shadow. A leather jacket is seen through the dense foliage. A gun is produced and then WHIP CRACK we see our hero...
Much like the introduction of James Bond (something I know a lot about now thanks to BlogalongaBond) - Spielberg teases the audience before finally unveiling his hero. It is that subtle and masterful presentation (and a fucking cool crack of the whip) that makes a star. And Indy is a star. And... lets be honest... Harrison Ford is the kind of awesome that means you can fully imagine his classrooms filled with dreamy eyed girls going all gooey over him and his brainy tweed and spectacles. - I also like the Superman-esque imagery of it all. How by donning glasses, he can put on a disguise of academia and mask the fact that he is a globe trotting bad ass.

And yet a bad ass who is prone to mistakes (which is important - Ford's matinee heroes are never perfect... look at Han Solo) - after all if he hadn't removed that handful of sand, he may never have triggered the sensors in the opening temple, and subsequently we wouldn't get this amazing and oft parodied action scene.

So, the opening gambit show that Indiana is a hero... and we can therefore believe that federal agents would rope him into finding a seemingly impossible artifact. The Ark of the Covenant. Because... apparently Hitler was an obsessive of the Paranormal (as I've been told in both this and Hellboy... so it must be true).
However... it is here that there is a problem. People have been searching for the Ark for 3,000 years... Now, even though the Nazis have made a lot of necessary headway, Indy finds the thing in 20 minutes! How hard have they been looking for the last 3,000 bloody years?! The rest of the film is just Nazis stealing it and him stealing it back.... like a slapstick back and forth.


But this might be because of his handy gang of awesome awesome friends. Firstly Sallah knows everyone and has an amazing voice which appears to have inspired Peter Serafinowicz in Running Wilde.
And then we have Marion.... ah Marion. She is just the most fabulous foil to Indy. Because she is even more reckless, even more temperamental, even more.... drunk... than Indy will ever be - their relationship is brilliant built around bickering and petty one up manship - so when we finally get the romance element, it turns out that a simple kissing scene becomes very steamy indeed...

Really... this is a film that has everything, even a Nazi monkey. It has action, adventure, romance and quite a lot of real horror.

The Indiana franchise is quite keen on littering sets with corpses.... but the real horror here comes from the shocking face melting finale...

How is that PG?

England. Typical. Even drug dealers don't work weekends.

No 276 - Layer Cake
Director - Matthew Vaughn

Layer Cake is the film which bridged Vaughn's 2 careers. Moving away from the go-to producer for London gangster films (though he does still have his hand in them) to become....
Layer Cake might still be in the genre which Vaughn was most familiar with, but - for a first film - it highlights a lot of style and prowess. And yet, you can see that he has learnt from the directors he has been around, and whilst his films are stylish and visually impressive, they lack the gimmicky feel that is present in Guy Ritchie's gangland films. Instead he lets the occasional visual flourish wrap itself around a twisty turny story of deals gone wrong, double crossing, crossed wires and other 'heist gone wrong' cliches. In fact, the only real constant I can think of in Vaughn's films is the casting of Jason Flemyng in tiny tiny roles.

Where this film really blossoms, is in the cast. There are some excellent turns in this and there was one real star. Now, whilst I enjoyed watching Owen Harper off Torchwood and Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nathan's Dad off Misfits - for me every second of his screentime was stolen by the might Michael Gambon. There is just something about old British actors and their old British voices that make them so hypnotic.... and he was amazing. He is menacing (but nowhere near the menace he puts into Farmer Bean) and yet you kind of understand him and his motivation.

And yet, the film's real perk is the excellent role from Daniel Craig.... playing the every-man and yet still showing a little bit of his pre-Bond bad-ass ness.... And yet, despite being a bad ass he still gets the shit constantly kicked out of him, which shows that there are always badder asses in the world....

And of course - he takes his top off so he can show off his muscley muscles.

Whilst I'm on the subject of Bond I want to talk about something which COULD BE CONSIDERED A SPOILER.
So if you don't want to know about endings and stuff.... stop reading now and be safe in the knowledge that I enjoyed this film.

However.... (and I did bloody warn you) - As Daniel Craig's nameless protagonist dies on the steps, following a cocky pun about his name... I couldn't help thinking of how it was almost a glorious reversal of the ending to Casino Royale... XXXX's death at the hands of the man who's girlfriend he 'stole' is a rather fitting echo of Bond killing the agent (even in a similar place, the steps of a grand house) for what the agents did to Vespa.

Deep man

Monday, 17 January 2011

We've gone on holiday by mistake.

No 118 - Withnail and I
Director - Bruce Robinson

Oh dear oh dear oh dear

My notes for this film include such gems as:

I am very drunk.... this is a good thing for this I think

Eggs and things. Thay are food

The next day I awoke to this:

We didn't play the Withnail and I drinking game.... Thank God. But we did take to the spirit of the film.

So we have a film about a relationship. One that feels true and real. One that is utterly self destructive and one that needs to change.
By the end, I think it does a bit. But until that point we get to see the glorious excesses of alcohol. Withnail could drink Bernard Black under the table without breaking a sweat....

It is infamously quotable and it celebrates a very middle class squalor of struggling actors and whacked out drug dealers who return in Wayne's World and who managed to get a friend of mine a job on the tellybox.

The film manages to glorify the dangerous excess of Withnail and Marwood (the titular I) without sugar coating it. Their life is a horrific mess of comedowns, danger, paranoia and falling over. Yet, the entire film has a filthy joi de vivre running through its emotional core. It means that they still remain aspirational.
Every person who has ever had a bottle of Merlot for breakfast does so because they have a romanticised vision of Withnail in their mind's eye. Which doesn't make sense considering he is a prick for almost the entirety of the film

Outside of the central couple we get some excellent supporting roles, the most important of which is the ever fabulous Richard Griffiths as the worryingly perverse and gloriously queeny Uncle Monty. A character who I have been described as on a disappointingly high number of times. Monty is a necessary addition because, whilst he is in no way adept to do anything, without him the protagonists would die.

I think the film ends with a certain amount of redemption from Marwood. I think he realises that he can't really continue to live this way.... but I can't really remember for the life of me. However, Withnail shows no such emotion. He has no arc. He is just a whirl of dangerous stinking anarchy.

So pull up a drink(s cabinet) and enjoy an amazing British celebration of everything that is right and wrong (often at the same time) with the spurned middle class world of wasters. Shout the catchphrases and get wasted. This film is not a film for spectators.... it is a horrible glorious squalid little film begging for participants.

I wish I were big

No 190 - Big
Director - Penny Marshall

I have been in Canada.... but I got better and I'm back back BACK.

On the plane I sat through one of the most harrowing (but excellent) double bills ever - and then found a list film amongst all the new rom com nonsense.


It is a magical film (complete with Zoltar - the terrifying plaything of SATAN) - and it is a brilliant performance from Hanks who manages to be massively likable and beautifully naive throughout the whole thing. For most of the film you really believe him to be a slightly geeky 13 year old kid - and there is a small moment of toy piano tomfoolery which is not only glorious, but which has become a staple of FAO Schwartz toy shop's daily routine.

It is great to watch.

The magic in the film does mean you can overlook how easily Josh makes his way up the corporate ladder of business. How he can be come a company executive just by saying he likes toys...
At times, he comes of as a bit simple... at other times he could pass as autistic. And yet, people see past this - they flock to them, they promote him, they seduce him. It is so stupid it comes off as charming.

However.... there are two massive points which need to be addressed. They are massive and they sort of soured the film for me:

So yeah....
Josh has been magicked into a 30 year old and off he goes for a rollicking adventure. Throughout this film you get little hints at what is happening at home. And it is horrifying. To the extent of Josh's parent's knowledge:
If you think I'm over-reacting, go and watch that film again. Listen to the genuine trauma in Josh's mother's voice when she speaks to him... It is every parent's worse nightmare. Glossed up as a charmingly 80's bit of nonsense.

But there is another disturbing element....

Elizabeth Perkins fucks a child.

There is no way to sugar coat it. I don't care whether he's turned into Tom Hanks or not... HE IS A CHILD! And.... THEY HAVE SEX.
At the point where she is told and finally realises, I hope she is a bit sick in her mouth. It is not cool... Not cool at all. It makes the romantic scenes really uncomfortable and totally detracts from any chemistry the pair may have.
This child/adult romance theme is one of the (many) reasons I can't watch Jack.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

I used to talk to you all the time, even though I was alone. I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don't know what to say.

No 392 - Paris, Texas
Director - Wim Wenders

I began my journey with this film as a mildly confused man, I thought I had a basic idea of what the film was about, but that didn't connect to LOVEFiLM's categorisation of this as a documentary. But then I saw that the film starred Dean Stockwell, so I cheered up and settled in.
Well, firstly it very much isn't a documentary. Secondly, it doesn't really star Dean Stockwell either.
The film really stars Harry Dean Stanton, as Dean Stockwell's brother. A man who has lost his memory and goes on a journey which helps him rediscover his family but also himself. Whilst that mind sound a little unimpressive, please accept that I'm being deliberately vague. This is a beautiful film, and it is through the simple journey which we get to have some real powerful emotion. However, before I speak about that (as it is the end of the film) I want to speak about the film's palette.
As the name implies, this film has large sections set in Texas, and therefore large sections set in desert country. It means that once again we get to marvel in the glory of Orange and Teal, creating bleak, hospitable and enormous vistas. However, even outside the desert, the framing is beautiful - Robby Müller manages to find really exciting ways to paint the most potentially mundane moments. I can't find them anywhere to link to, but his use of colour and lighting during the two brothers' drive is beautiful, and the framing is near perfect.

What I can talk about is the moment Travis (Dean Stanton) meets up with his estranged wife. Again, it benefits from the same beautiful use of colour - however this time we're in a much deeper blues. It does show Müller's excellent eye for framing though:

But here, not only do we get the power of the visuals - we get the power from the fact that this is the film's climax. This is what everything has been building to. I don't want to talk about it in too much detail because I don't want to dull the impact to anyone who hasn't seen it. But the final half hour is one of the most emotional and powerful things I've ever seen put on film.

There is something about the visuals, the story and the lazy guitar score (of which you heard some in the video above) that just mix to make a very slow, very gentle film with an truly surprising and powerful end.
that mix meant Paris, Texas became one of a very few films which have caused me to cry.

Monday, 3 January 2011

My name is Dances with Wolves. I will not talk to you anymore. You are not worth talking to.

No 137 - Dances With Wolves
Director - Kevin Costner

I thought this was going to be another Avatar film, and to a certain degree it is... man becomes ingrained with the indigenous people and fights against his own kind. However, where it differs is that the fight scenes are so brief, they are merely moments in a story which follows one man's journey. It is not a journey leading to a battle - it is a journey which happens to feature a couple of battles in it.
So, the American army isn't painted as all out evil, but they're certainly not painted in a good light. I think they're mostly shown as strange strange hicks. And a lot of them may be certified insane. One of the film's weirdest moments is one Costner's John Dumbar (before he has his new native moniker) is sent to his post by Major Fambrough.... Something seems to be wrong with Fambrough.... he represents the sheer loneliness of the Frontier - he represents what could have happened to Dunbar (and what probably would've happened if he didn't meet the Sioux tribe).

So there is a gradual set up as Dunbar goes to his isolated post and slowly - oh so slowly - gets to know the nearby tribe.
It is here that you realise quite how painfully sad the plight of the native Americans was. It isn't helped that the older westerns show them as savages and killers and not as what they were - people desperately trying to protect their world. It is the same across the world... be it the Zulu the Aboriginals or the Maori, we did seem to stomp about and ruin things for people.

However, there is one thing that Wolves misses from the old Western-times. Technicolor. I bloody love Technicolor, and when it comes to vast western vistas of orange and teal you want something that will make it pop from the screen.
The vistas in Dances with Wolves are great and moments like the buffalo stampede are genuinely incredible - but the colour palette leaves them feeling muted. We need the fake colour of technicolor to make it super-bright.

I mean, I think what surprised me most about this is how NICE it is - it is essentially a story about human relationships, about gaining trust and - eventually - about love. It is a real heartwarming tale.

Unfortunately, all of that is bollocksed up by the final text which is heart breakingly sad:

Well, it's a doo-bah-dee-doo, yes, it's a doo-bah-dee-doo, I mean a doo-bee, doo-bee, doo-bee, doo-bee, doo-bee-dee-doo

No 406 - The Jungle Book
Director - Wolfgang Reitherman

I think I need to work through my Disney back catalogue, I'm rubbish with the early ones.... did they ALL start with books? Luckily... I can easily check this what with it being 2011. Anyway, welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and games and (so it seems) shit loads of Jazz. This is one jazzy jungle.

The story is the classic Rudyard Kipling tale - of a boy raised in the jungle by wolves. He manages to make a dashing pair of red pants somehow and goes off on adventures. But then a bad tiger wants to kill him and really he should go home to his race.... Many misadventures ensue with hilarious consequences.
The film's triumph is in creating some fantastically bizarre and entertaining characters. Colonel Hathi's Elephant parade is just weird (I think Disney liked weird elephants) and creates a great slapstick interlude as well as showcasing the pomposity of the British Empire and folks what were in In-Jah in those days. Kaa is basically there to be a shit villain and be constantly outfoxed and provide comic pain and then there are the vultures, the weird Beatles vultures... a by-product of it being made in the 60's and just a slightly illusion-breaking addition to the film.

However there are two characters which are the heroes of the film. Who carry this film into brilliance and who are Jazz wonders.
Lets start with Phil Harris.... He comes in and is AMAZING as Baloo - so good that he returns as Little John in Robin Hood.... a role which is almost exactly the same as Baloo - almost criminally lifted (or at least mercilessly recycled - there is a lot of recycling in Disney though). Baloo's laid back style and joi de vivre makes him an intoxicating character, a great figure to watch and a man who meets his natural foil with another ridiculous Jazz great. Louis Prima is a force to be reckoned with as King Louis - and whilst the Bare Necessities may be the best lesson to get from the film, King of the Swingers is the anarchic toe tapping number which sticks with you forever. It is a wonderful thing and a constantly classic piece of music.

So when Baloo and Louis join forces it is not only one of the highlights of the film, it is one of the best bits of Disney.... full stop.

The action later on is interesting (the fire in later scenes seems almost like OIL painting over the animation) but the film is at its best during the jazzy dancing bonkers bonanza.

However, events unfold to a necessary ending as Mowgli returns to the man village - and it isn't until we meet the oddly sexually precocious love interest (lets remember, when you look at her wide come to bed eyes.... THEY ARE 10) that we realise that the whole film was a man village.... it is just a big old sausage fest in the jungle.

But it is a jolly wee film.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down as gentlemen. But, we would like a brandy.

No 336 - Titanic
Director - James Cameron

This is the only time I ever went to the cinema, where the film had an interval... I hadn't seen it since I saw it at the cinema, and much to my surprise, it was far better than I had ever given it credit for. I think the problem was the HYPE around the film.... and the general girlyness. To an 11 or 12 year old boy, it didn't hold much appeal. But....second time round, it deserves a bit more praise.

When I talk about James Cameron, I feel like in recent years (or, his last 2 motion pictures, over a decade apart) he has become more about scale and spectacle than the actual story.
I mean, Avatar really doesn't deserve the heaps of praise which has been piled onto it. Yes, it is beautiful.... yes, the CGI is incredible and yes Pandora is a brilliantly well designed world which felt real, living and breathing and marvellous.... but the story is basically just Ferngully. Cameron's interests (and indeed his triumph) was in designing a living breathing ecosystem. A planet, which despite the utter ludicrous nature of it... felt real. It it the Art of Avatar which is the real triumph.
And so it is the same with Titanic. Lets be honest... the story is tosh and the acting is largely rubbish. But the SPECTACLE is epic. Mainly down to the fact that Cameron spent about 12 bazillion pounds making a replica Titanic just for his own chuckles.

The film is really split into two parts (well 3 if we include the bookends with the spritliest 100 year old in the world - Gloria Stuart actually managed to live to 100 too RIP) - A lurve story for the ladies and a disaster film for the chaps (that, at least, is how I imagine it was marketed). The love story is there to build the relationships but it just shows how poor the acting is, with maybe the exception of a fiendishly young looking DiCaprio who shows he can act really. It does have an IMDB-checking bonanza of recognisable faces though.

Also can we point out Ioan Gruffud - who shows himself as a TRUE HERO in this film, despite him having very little to do for most of it.
And of course Billy Zane being an utter evil git. Hoorah.

So we can watch lots of people walk about in the stifled restrictions of class.... There is some rumpy pumpy and there is some nudity (quite controversial in a 12 I'd imagine, but maybe not - I do think Winslett is a bit of a naughty anyway...). However during this, Bernard Hill (playing Captain Birdseye - the face of this blog) walks around looking stern and for the next 2 hours or so we watch the ship very slowly sink.

Generally, this film is:
  • too long
  • unexcitingly plotted
  • badly acted
  • badly scripted
  • has the most annoyingly saccharine 'dying' coda in a film ever

and yet, it is almost all forgiven for the sheer scale of his creation. Whether we're travelling through the fully functioning Titanic going from 1st class to boiler room, or whether we're watching his creation sink and crumble, it is an impressive feat. It allows Cameron to make some truly remarkable imagery and it allows him to show the full impact of what is a terrible tragic disaster.

But.... the film isn't really that good. And I was mainly excited about watching this awesome Leo Mash Up again.... any excuse to promote it.