22-28 September 2008

September 29 2008 at 6:51 pm (The list)

A slow week for the shame list, but I did catch up on a few recent DVD releases.


Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max wasn’t quite what I expected. I think what I was expecting was something more like Mad Max 2, although I haven’t seen that yet. As far as revenge movies go, it was a little disappointing. It takes a while to get going. In fact, revenge doesn’t even come into it until the last 20 minutes when Mel Gibson’s post-apocalyptic cop avenges the brutal murder of his wife and child at the hands of a vicious biker gang. It looks great and has a raw kind of feel, with an iconic star-making turn from Gibson. The version I saw must have been the one that was dubbed for American audiences which explains why a film set in Australia and filmed in Australia had all the Australian actors talking in an American accent.


Rating: 4/5


Shame list total: 1,206


Definitely Maybe (2008)

I’m normally quite tentative about rom-coms. I kind of side step them like they’re a pile of dog’s mess on the pavement. However, I gave Definitely Maybe a go after hearing good things about it from a number of reputable sources. I’m sorry to say, they were all wrong. Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds on auto-pilot) decides to tell his daughter Maya (Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin, here ticking the ‘cute but shrill kid’ box) the story of how he met his mother. He changes the names of the three women in his life (Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher and Rachel Weisz) so she has to guess which one is her mother. Aside from the fact that the film features an implausibly coincidence-laden plot and sickeningly cloying performances, it is relentlessly slow. Among the longest 107 minutes of my life.


Rating: 2/5


Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

In an effort to get over being dumped by his girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), Peter Bretter (Jason Segel, who also wrote the leisurely script) goes on holiday to Hawaii only to find that Sarah is staying at the same resort with her new boyfriend, English rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). It’s a typically hit-and-miss comedy from the Judd Apatow stable (although he only produces leaving the directorial duties to first timer Nicholas Stoller) that features many of the regulars including Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd who gets many of the best jokes. On the whole it’s a throwaway piece of entertainment but intermittently hilarious, thanks mainly to Russell Brand.


Rating: 3/5


The Orphanage (2008)

A horror mystery produced by Guillermo del Toro was always going to be impressive and this doesn’t disappoint. Laura was brought up in an orphanage and when, as an adult, she moves back in with her husband Carlos and son Simon to renovate it as a home for disabled children. But Simon makes a creepy new friend and things get a little bit eerie. There are a couple of good scares but it focuses more on the story and building an atmosphere of creeping dread than giving the audience sleepless nights. Plot-wise, it is rather similar to Japanese fear factory Ringu and it does occasionally descend into cliché (large creaking staircases, creepy children, walking slowly in the dark) but horror films should be marked on their overall quality not necessarily their scariness.


Rating: 4/5


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