Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gone Gotham

The past few evenings I decided it would be a good idea to catch up with films that I missed when they were on general release but are now available on shiny disc. At it turned out it wasn’t a good idea at all. Something lousy I can froth and foam at the mouth about but these were so utterly lousy that not only did I lose the will to blog about them but I very nearly lost the will to live.

Maybe I’ll mention them in passing after the mere thought of them makes me want to rub bleach into my eyeballs, or simply put out a short post that asks the question:

How many minutes into Tropic Thunder were you before realizing it was a completely useless pile of shit?


Should Ben Stiller be dubbed the new Mike Myers? (Obviously on the understanding that it isn’t anywhere near a compliment)


When will Jack Black crawl back under whatever rock he appeared from and simply die?

In the meantime, because it’s the big awards night tonight, and The Dead Guy is obviously going to win for his portrayal of The Joker, yesterday I tried watching The Dark Knight again. That didn’t go too well either. Before I eventually gave up and put on The Dambusters instead, two things sprang to mind. Now that we have that FAST campaign buying ad time here, there and everywhere, the first thing that struck me was: How long has Maggie Gyllenhaal looked like a stroke victim?

The second question knocking around my head was: What the fuck happened to Gotham City? I don’t mean the stupid gothic nonsense from the stupid Tim Burton movies or the candy-coloured crap from the Joel Schumacher sequels. Though Batman Begins dropped all the nasty stylization it still established Wayne Tower at the heart of the city and The Narrows across the river, home to Arkham Asylum. With The Dark Knight it looks like the Nolans simply decided, fuck it, let’s just shoot in Chicago.

This may be why the movie looks like a below-par Michael Mann crime drama rather than an above-average superhero film. Still, given that it has now taken over $1 billion at the box office The Dark Knight must be good, right? After all, punching past that milestone means it joins a select group that includes such masterpieces as Titanic and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Ah...


At 9:39 pm, Blogger Clair said...

How long has Maggie Gyllenhaal looked like a stroke victim?

Forever, now you mention it! And what do you think about the proposed Dambusters remake, eh?

At 10:53 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Really? Poor girl. She looks like the in-between stage of a morph from some woman to a Tex Avery sketch of Droopy.

Yeah, this remake of The Dambusters that Stephen Fry wrote for Peter Jackson> I mean, what’s the point? Okay the effects can look a little dated now but once Eric Coates’ iconic “Dam Busters March”, who cares. It’s damned stirring stuff.

I suppose Gibson’s dog is either deleted from the new script or not mentioned. When the film was on TV a while back any reference to his name was dropped from the soundtrack. It was quite a shock yesterday evening when the Lancaster rolls to a stop, Richard Todd steps out, sees his black Labrador and heartily shouts, “Nigger!” I had wondered if the disc would have the edited version, but then it did come free with The Daily Mail so I should have guessed.

Because there’s a small WH Smith up here on The Broadway I’d been collecting the two weeks worth of old war movie DVDs. Ice Cold in Alex, Dunkirk and the like for 50p each can’t be bad. Some mornings the staff would ask if I wanted the DVD. I had to tell them I only wanted the DVD and they could keep the nasty little rag, but they said since I bought it I had to take it.

At 10:28 am, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

Great rant! And hard not to agree with much... most... er... everything you rant about!

At 1:51 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


Yeah, I probably went off on one there. It was just that watching Tropic Thunder was so utterly depressing. The only moment that made me really laugh was during the video conference call when Tom Cruise’s producer instructs the Key Grip to punch the Coogan’s director in the face. Other than that all I could think about was that they spent close to $100 million on this pile of nonsense.

As comedy goes, it wasn’t funny, which is always a drawback. I should have watched a wonderful old Ealing comedy or something by the Boulting Brothers instead – something that derived the comedy from characters and situations rather than trite clichés. In fact, something like Local Hero.

At 3:43 pm, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

I've only seen the opening moments of Tropic Thunder (and the funny - and unlikely - performance by Tom Cruise) and thought it looked totally dreadful... In fact, I couldn't help wondering if TC oughtn't to have told someone to punch the real director in the face -- and the producers!

At 7:29 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Well, it’s directed, co-written and co-produced by lead actor Ben Stiller so every fist should be heading his way for this hopeless movie. I can’t remember where I read it but there was an article somewhere in which John Landis talked about the problems of making the third Beverly Hills Cop film. By that time Eddie Murphy wanted to do action movies and refused to make his role comedic. Which, when you’re supposed to be making a comedy can be problematic.

Tropic Thunder looks like Ben Stiller either has an itch to be an action hero or is just an actor with a very limited range trying to push against the boundaries. Either way, well before his character goes all Colonel Kurtz, it can’t help scream “Vanity project!”

Cruise was good but he should have been used sparingly. And of course he wasn’t. The problem with his character and most of the others were that they were such overblown stereotypes to begin with, a couple of chuckles established the characters but after that there was nowhere for them to go. The clip of Robert Downey Jr.’s character at the riverbank, talking about “you people”, that kept being shown before the film’s release was the only decent scene he was in. After that there was no further exploration of the role.

Because the story wasn’t up to much it was like a couple of rather obvious comedy sketches stretched beyond breaking point. By then you’re asking yourself if Tropic Thunder is supposed to be a spoof of Hollywood practices or Vietnam movies, because it’s failing on either count.

At 12:49 am, Blogger Clair said...

Local Hero...that doco the other night never explained What Went Wrong with Bill Forsyth's career,did it?

At 1:16 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

That was a good edition of Movie Connections. I particularly liked the fact that Puttnam said that Local Hero should have won the BAFTA because it was a much better film than Educating Rita.

It looked like they were kind not to go into detail about how Bill Forsyth's directing career tailed off. He obviously had problems making those two films in America. Even back here it seems that he didn't like the idea of having his films compared to the earlier Ealing comedies or his directing style as being whimsical. It is a shame he hasn't made more movies.

At 2:40 pm, Blogger Stephen Gallagher said...

I kind of wonder if Forsyth didn't get the ball in the basket so neatly with LOCAL HERO that he basically left himself with nothing more to say. Like he achieved the Platonic ideal of a Bill Forsyth movie, and where do you go from there?

And I thought TROPIC THUNDER was very thin gruel indeed. Didn't get the fuss about Tom Cruise's contribution at all.

But ICE COLD IN ALEX rules. It's like a British WAGES OF FEAR.

At 6:27 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I like the idea of seeing Ice Cold in Alex that way. Damn good films, the pair of them.

That's an interesting idea of why Bill Forsyth retreated from film directing. It is almost like he said everything he wanted to say with Local Hero.


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