Sunday, 16 May 2010

Changing your opinion on a film.

Its a funny thing with the Coen brothers. A year or so ago a friend of mine rewatched Intolerable Cruelty, having hated it before. On rewatch he found it to be a lot better, funnier, not the disaster he initally felt in first viewing. Yesterday I rewatched Burn After Reading. I remember seeing it with friends and being in a rage for some reason about it. Don't know why. I found the story dull, the dialogue pedestrian, the acting obvious and one-note. Basically not in the same league as Old Country For Old Men, one of the Coen's best films. Not even at the same level of Intolerable Cruelty or The Ladykillers, two of the least-loved Coen films (which I have a soft spot for). On the rewatch it improved quite a bit. It is still not among the Coen's best (its dialogue still lacks the weirdness and precision of their best), and slight compared to No Country For Old Men, but a lot better than I thought it would be. The aimlessness I hated in the first viewing seemed more interesting, as these idiots squabble and fight, ego run amuck as everyone is terrified of being found to be old and useless, now seemed interesting and true to life. Funny that.

Also watched that great old Chris Walken b-movie The Prophecy, about an attempt to stop a second war in heaven, placed against the backdrop of the American west. Watching Walken as the angel Gabriel rant about killing thousands and turning towns into salt does wonders for your mood. Eric Stoltz, always an under-rated actor (see him recently keep the annoyingly bitty but fascinating Caprica moving forward) is terrific as a lone angel trying to stop armaggeddon, getting killed half-way through. (the film is vicious in this way) Best of all was Viggo Mortenston as Satan. He out-evil's Walken, which is an achievement in itself, and is one of the better devils in recent years, just subtle and malicious, only needing words and gestures to get his point across.(But is also very good at eating angel's hearts, eating petals and placing his hands on people's shoulders in very creepy ways)

I have essentially gone through the Blackadders in the past few weeks. Wonderful comedies.

To end, Steven Moffat's take on Dr Who is still going strong by the series mid-point. The last two episodes were high-level entertainment. Vampires In Venice was more of a romp while Amy's Choice was more psychological horror with fun monsters. Of the two I preferred Amy's Choice, although Vampires In Venice had a lot of entertainment value, with the Doctor's reactions to meeting vampires "Oh this is like Christmas!" to his showdown with the sympathetic villlainess, as well as being told that he looks like a nine-year old. And of course his library card with the picture of William Hartnell on it.

Amy's Choice had fun villains, whether it be crazy old folk to an ice sun that the tardis is floating towards slowly (used two top-class villain ideas in one episode) but also had a bit more dramatic meat. Two realities, which one is real (turns out neither are), one representing the fears of the Doctor (his tardis slowly dies and gets cold, trapping him and his friends on board to perish) of that or Amy's boyfriend Rory (that his ideal village life goes insane, with all that he helps trying to kill him). Its good stuff, especially as we find that the antangonist is the Doctor's subconsious, so he's the villain.

So the series is gearing up to be the best of the relaunch for me. Hope it keeps going this way.

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