Monday, August 13, 2007

Scratch And Sniff

Tired and uninspired television schedules are expected this time of year. Either the schedulers have buggered off to laze on a beach leaving office juniors who can barely be trusted to refill the photocopier in charge, or it’s a cunning ploy to make the upcoming autumn schedule unquestionably appealing by comparison.

With these dog days at the fag end of the season ordained as The Summer of British Film by the BBC, dumping insipid American movies into the mid-evening schedules, rather than a relevant British film, shows even more listlessness and lack of forethought than could ever be expected. This weekend may have been an aberration hopefully never to be repeated, but what past sins are we atoning for exactly to warrant Frank Oz’s misguided remake of The Stepford Wives or Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life?

Too much direct sunlight can do strange things to a person. That’s my excuse for watching the latter of those two evils. I didn’t expect to enjoy it so at least I wasn’t disappointed, but that said I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so jaw-droppingly awful in my entire life. If critics admonish movies based on amusement park rides or action figures, films based on computer games should be dragged out and thrashed relentlessly for being so utterly imbecilic.

If you make a film of something already heavily influenced by movies, what you get in return is a lazy and derivative slow vomit. With Lara Croft simply Indiana Jones with pneumatic tits, hips and blowjob lips, creating quivering underpants excitement for the computer game geeks, after each barely dramatic and perfunctory setpiece I expected to be told to move on to the next level.

Of course watching was merely a stopgap. After an hour I had planned to flip over to the third part of British Film Forever but when the time came I really couldn’t be that bothered. This week was Social Realism, which frankly isn’t exactly my cup of tea. Real life isn’t something I want to go to the cinema for, especially if it’s a ninety-odd minute lecture on the fact that it’s grim up north or that being poor and working class in an inner city isn’t exactly a laugh a minute. Pardon me if I say hey, no fucking shit?!

By the time I eventually flipped over the programme had reached Ken Loach and Mike Leigh which meant that suddenly the documentary on British film was spending a great deal of time covering television drama. With Loach’s films it feels like I’m getting a discourse from Fred Kite having an off day. Maybe I’m misreading them but Leigh’s movies are populated with deeply unpleasant characters that are either weak and resentful or complete bastards and harridans. If I want to see a bunch of lowlifes calling each other cunts I can go and stand at a bus stop for that. Topsy Turvy was great though.

Then, oh to be reminded of Distant Voices, Still Lives. It came out at a time when I was trying to get some action with a girl. She wanted to go, I went along. The previous film we had seen was some godawful, miserable European movie about two young sisters looking for their absent father. I think it ended with the two girls standing, for no apparent reason, beside a tree. This was after the elder sister had been raped by a truck driver who had given them a lift. By then I was probably wishing the film had been shot in 3D so the truck could come out of the screen and run me over.

Distant Voices, Still Lives probably means a whole lot to people who had similar instances in their upbringing. Without that flimsy connection it was like having strangers showing you their boring home movies. I’ve watched three-hour movies that seem to go by in a flash. Distant Voices, Still Lives seemed so utterly fucking tedious all I remember was wriggling in my seat begging for it to end. Just when I thought it was finally all over the title card Still Lives appeared on screen and it carried on. I did everything I could to stop screaming myself hoarse. Only 85 minutes long, the film felt like a life sentence.

Just being reminded of it was enough to send me into a stupor. The only time I livened up while watching the last half hour of Hardluck, Humour and Heroes was when it turned its attention to A Clockwork Orange. I may have missed something as I slid into a state of insensibility but how did Kubrick’s adaptation fit into social realism exactly?


At 11:58 am, Blogger Phill Barron said...

"Indiana Jones with pneumatic tits, hips and blowjob lips" should have been a great movie. That's a hard premise to fuck up, yet they somehow managed it.

I only saw the first one and my over-riding impression was of a good action film where they'd cut out all the explanation and plot and just left a series of unconnected set-pieces.

Didn't even bother with the second one.

As for this BBC series of being pompous about films - I'd suggest you stop watching them, but I've got a sweepstake running on when your head's going to explode.

At 1:23 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Phill, I wouldn't have bothered with either of them but I just couldn't work up the energy to reach across and take The Guns of Navarone down from the shelf.

At 6:44 pm, Blogger Lucy said...

That's your story and you're sticking to it... What would you do of an evening if there weren't shit films on telly?? We should take all the sweepstake money Phill's raised and get you the company of a laydee for the night. We could call that the public service, yeah?

Oh wait a minute, someone's at the door... It's Good Dog, WITH AN Axe!

*screams and dies bloody death*

; )

At 8:44 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Me, with an axe? Honey, my weapon of choice is a croquet mallet.

I just think that there are so many good films about we shouldn't be subjected to such retarded nonsense as what was scheduled. The fact is there are so many great movies that aren't available on DVD, why aren't they rotated around?

So, what kind of laydee are we talking about here?

At 11:15 pm, Blogger Phill Barron said...

What kind of laydee? Well, if we're going from the sweepstake pot, I reckon the best we could afford is someone short, limbless, possibly faceless and more than likely a bit on the dead side.

Still, take it where you can get it, eh?

At 11:37 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Hey, I think I went out with once.


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