21-27 July 2008

July 28 2008 at 10:12 pm (The list)

Shamefully, the shame list was untouched once again last week and I don’t even have a holiday to blame it on like I did the week before. Rest assured, good people, my resolve has not been shaken. I’ll make up for it this week.

Anyway, I did watch two non-shamelist films last week:

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Shekhar Kapur’s glossy sequel to his 1998 film Elizabeth is more of a romantic swashbuckler than a historical biopic. Cate Blanchett’s performance is as powerful as it was 10 years ago but with an added level of maturity that shows the growth of the ‘character’ of the Virgin Queen. Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh is, as ever, a pain in the arse: a smug, smirking git who looks like a bank manager at a fancy dress party. The ever-reliable Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Sir Francis Walsingham, while Rhys Ifans, Abbie Cornish and the excellent Samantha Morton all give great turns. Kapur’s flashy direction is the real star, though, even if the CG Spanish Armada looks more Pirates of the Caribbean than the History Channel.

Rating: 3/5
Be Kind Rewind (2008)
The middling reviews didn’t put me off watching this film because I’m such a fan of Michel Gondry, the crazy Frenchman whose unique style of directing wowed audiences and critics alike with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Mike (Mos Def) is left in charge of his boss’s video store (yes, a video store rather than a DVD store – this point is crucial). When Mike’s best friend Jerry (Jack Black) becomes magnetised, he inadvertently wipes all the tapes. The duo come up with a novel way of keeping the business afloat – remake all the films in the store using nothing but a camcorder and some inspired improvisation. It’s a very loose idea for a film but a perfect fit for Gondry, who unsurprisingly writes as well as directs. The remade, or ‘sweded’ versions, are great fun even if you only ever see tiny snippets, but it was probably a mistake trying to string the mini-films together in a narrative since the plot is a little tenuous. It’s at its best when it is at its most chaotic and it’s a delight to see how even the most ambitious films are attempted – 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Lion King and Ghostbusters are just three. If you ignore the unnecessarily schmaltzy ending, this is an entertaining piece of freeform fun from one of the most innovative directors working today.
Rating: 3/5
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