8 Minutes Idle
It’s cute, quirky and British, but there’s not much else going for this odd little rom-com. Dan (Tom Hughes) is kicked out of his house by his mother, played by a splendid Pippa Haywood who you need to see in Green Wings and in this little clip. Home and work life fuse when Dan secretly moves into the office storeroom with his cat. His interactions with office mates unfold in a series of subplots: a tyrant boss who essentially rapes him, a dj co-worker who is seemingly the only one to genuinely care for and help him, a shy goof who can’t talk to girls but knows how to dance, and of course the pixie love interest, Teri. None can escape the doldrums of this office interplay of relationships and sex, until an outside force changes everything, and the concerns and established hierarchies of the job are rendered moot and so is any chance of Dan becoming a character her drives his own change rather than just being a likable character and nice guy who is pushed around. We can now focus on the relationship – which cute as it is, doesn’t carry the film.
Simon Amstell: Numb
I psychoanalyze vicariously through Simon Amstell. His style of story telling and self-reflection is painfully (hilariously) honest, admitting things to himself (and an audience) that others out of embarrassment and shame would hide away. He says what we think and that adds value.
This clip from his life and mine:
I Am Number Four
This movie is bad and the creators should feel bad.
This remake avoids the gross obvious creepiness of the original 1988 main character, by casting Elijah Wood as Frank and he is exceptional. Wood physically comes off as demure, soft-spoken and seemingly passive, but does perfectly in building up the unseen tension until he explodes in his moments of rage. Done entirely from the point of view of Frank, we only see glimpses of him mostly through reflections, except for in his imagination when he pictures the ideal life and romance with Anna, a beautiful French photographer. In those scenes the camera pans around and we see both characters undistorted, together, and picture perfect. Frank, however is terribly broken by a traumatic past which manifests in migraines and visions that torment him and drive his mania. His brutality is unique and merciless, but at the same time the viewer (at least me) comes to care for this tortured artist character, even when he’s putting a butcher knife through someone’s face, or scalping his latest victim and mother figure stand-in. In part because he does it out of love. That kind of love proves deadly.
One scene I particularly enjoyed takes place in a cinema where we get a glimpse of the film, a b&w silent film, where a man is waking and preparing to kill a young woman. This mise-en-abîme mirrors beautifully Frank, and foreshadows what is to come between he and Anna. Seconds after the glimpse, he feels the onset of another attack and the screen blurs and vibrates as his head throbs in pain. Exquisite.
“I am glad our son kicked the shit out of your son
and I wipe my ass with your human rights!”
–Nancy Cowan, Carnage
Years ago on one of my first trips to New York City, my friend Maureen and I saw the theatrical version of this film, written by Yazmin Reza and titled, God of Carnage, with Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis playing Alan and Nancy Cowan, and Marcia Gay Harden and James Gandolfini playing Penelope and Michael Longstreet. It’s difficult not to make the comparisons, and I think what made the original theatrical version for me was the script and the actor’s ability to really cut loose in that claustrophobic New York apartment.
Over the course of an afternoon two couples meet to discuss an incident between their two sons, but the veneer of politeness begins to crack and chip away. There are great moments that expose these characters for who they are, in particular one scene towards the end when Alan (played by Cristoph Waltz) who I think understands best the social breakdown, says, “Yes Doodle, we do care, in a hysterical way, not like heroic figures in a social movement.” At once exposing the hypocrisy of politeness, yuppie causes, white girls in Africa, and freaking out because boys were being boys.
While it gets the point across, the film missed the explosive energy and decent into madness and absolute nihilism of the theatrical version I saw, and ends less with a bang and more with a whimper.
Another film with great promise but that doesn’t deliver 100% is Filth, based on the Irvine Welsh novel and starring a fantastic cast led by James McAvoy (who you should watch in Trance). While I liked the movie for its style, grit and humor, there are plot gaps that are important to the overall story and helping us understand crazed Detective Bruce Robertson’s motivations.
Robertson has these occasional visions of a boy, covered in soot and obviously dead. Towards the end we discover that this was his younger and higher achieving brother for whose death Robertson feels responsible despite screams and protestations at an imaginary psychiatrist that it was an accident.
We assume this guilt has messed him up, but is it the sole thing that has been responsible for his fall into chaos? We also get that his wife and daughter have left him, but when was this? What was the cause? Admittedly he doesn’t know, saying,
“I think they’ve left me. I think my family have left me. I don’t know how. I can’t remember why. You see, there’s something wrong with me. There is something seriously wrong with me.” but what is it?!
All that being said, there are some great performances by Shirley Henderson, Eddie Marsan (who’s really been coming up in the world since Happy-Go-Lucky) and others, as well as a fantastic car scene sing-along to Silver Lady. The lyrics for which say a lot,
“Tired of drifting, searching, shifting through town to town
Every time I slip and slide a little further down
I can’t blame you if you won’t take me back
After everything I put you through
But honey you’re my last hope
And who else can I turn to
Come on Silver Lady take my word
I won’t run out on you again believe me”
Thinking a bit more, there are scenes that take on a film noirish style where we hear short monologues by his wife Carole, regarding their marriage. Perhaps these scenes (which we later find out are him in drag, acting out his wife to feel close to her), reflect not only his interpretation of her perspective of their relationship, but a deluded version of it that fits perfectly in his world and desires, but obviously did not match up with hers.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
More than once while we watched this movie, Jen asked “Why was this made?” Disturbed acts of sadism, based on the novel 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade takes place in fascist Italy and meant to resemble Dante’s Inferno, but reminded me also of Boccacio’s Decameron, with each day devoted to storytelling with a particular thematic (and usually sexual) nature.
All I know of the meaning and metaphor behind this film I had to glean from Wikipedia, and while the images are terrible and cruel I think it was made to depict the baseness of the fascist ideology and life under the regime.
I’m glad I was finally able to watch it and highly recommend for cinephiles. It certainly merits a viewing and further study.
Watch a REALLY toned down trailer HERE.