25 July 2010

Living the Dream

After a few film-free weeks, I've made up for it this week by watching six films, including three at the cinema. Inception was definitely the best of the lot and not just because it was so < cliché > mind-blowing < / cliché > on a weekend when my mind was definitely in need of blowing. In fact, it was so good that I'm not going to comment further until I have seen it again and at the IMAX.

I watched Hard Candy this evening, which was, well, hard. I'd only seen Ellen Page in Inception and Juno before this and in both, she plays a girl; not so much when she's playing the paedophile-bating 14-year-old Hayley Stark, who is the worst nightmare of every man--even the nice ones. Then there were the two films I saw on iPlayer: It's Grim Up North (if Brian Clough thought the Leeds squad of 1974 were bad, he should have seen what happened 405 years earlier) and It's Grim Out East (London). Sticking with a Russian theme, I also saw Le Concert -- the surprisingly funny tale of the former conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra (currently a janitor) who attempts to pull off the Frank Abagnale-worthy con of getting 50-odd Russian musicians without passports or even suits out of the country and into the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and perform a concert with an amazing solo violinist while also convincing everyone they are the real Bolshoi Orchestra. The plot is pretty silly and yet rather charming--not least because the French are mocked for their snobbery just as much as the Russians are parodied for their, er, enterprising nature. I did roll my eyes a lot but I did also smile at the end.

Finally, there was Partir the latest Kristin Scott Thomas film. I'm not really sure why I went to see this because although I think KST is a great actress, she tends to play characters who irritate me--they tend to be the same as one another too. Partir is like Please Give but without the humour, without the sharp writing and without Catherine Keener--both involve women with supposedly perfect, bourgeois lives who yet feel a sense of guilt or emptiness. Keener's character deals with this by randomly giving away money and volunteering (with hilarious consequences); KST's character deals but hooking up with the first red-blooded male to enter her passion-free existence: a builder named Ivan.

They don't have anything in common but that's OK because they spend all of their stolen moments getting intimate; when she's not accidentally running over his foot (hospitalising him) and encouraging him to steal paintings from her house to flog, that is. Naturally, though, KST's husband--a possessive, rich and boring guy called Samuel--is not particularly happy about all this and let's just say that hilarity does not ensue. I didn't really care though because KST was the coldest, most detached impassioned woman I've ever seen, her husband wasn't exactly charming either and Ivan had no personality to speak of other than Former-Convict-Lower-Class-Bit-of-Rough.

Certainly, if I ever need to see a film that will frustrate me hugely, I'm going to have to rewatch The English Patient: KST plus Ralph Fiennes equals detachment overload. Incidentally, I was planning to link to a post of mine where I explain my boredom with Ralph Fiennes' constant playing of cold, aloof characters about whom I cannot care but it seems that I never wrote one. The Reader, The Duchess, The Constant Gardener and The End of the Affair are recent examples of this; In Bruges is an exception as he's in "geezer" mode, although I realised that actually, he's better at cold bastards.

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