10 October, 2006

Word of Mouth


Half an hour into this a thought occurred to me, if I hadn’t been told this was a comedy I would have thought it was a drama.

The high concept of students rejected by colleges setting up their own college is good but it isn’t funny enough. The beginning and the end work fine in terms of story but the middle hasn’t got enough big enough comic set-pieces relating to the story and relies too much on stunts.

I know comedy is subjective but there are hardly any actual gags in the picture, funny or not. It’s not mirth-free but set-ups and characters with potential just fizzle out and fade away.

Box Office #8


The Departed

This good cop-bad cop story is meant to be Martin Scorsese's best film in years (the film had its best opening since Cape Fear), but to save you wading through the pages and pages of critic crap trying to explain what Scorsese has done differently this time, I'll explain now more simply: it's the best script he's had to work with in years.

Anyway, I enjoyed this but I’m not sure it being made more bloated than the original was the way to go. However I didn’t mind spending the extra time with the characters too much. The characters are distinct and so the dialogue is excellent. It's clever and witty – but William Monahan does love his quotes.

A character will quote someone, then there will follow a discussion about the source of the quote. It’s not a major issue – or an issue at all maybe – and it’s part of his writer’s voice but using the technique more than once in a script seems odd.

It is recommended but be warned it does feature people who settle disputes violently and not with a friendly chat over tea and scones.

Box Office #2


Brothers of the Head

This downbeat drama about conjoined twins joining a rock band is a very well made with a great screenplay and deservedly won a best British film award recently. I did however hate it.

That might seem a bit contradictory but objectively I can see the art and craft that went into it but I just didn’t care about the story or characters, I wasn't made to feel emotionally connected.

It’s format is mock documentary so I don’t think it’s pedantic to point out there must have been six cameras at the showcase gig but you never see a camera, even when they edited between two cameras facing each other. OK, that probably is being pedantic but I wouldn’t have had time to think of these things if there was something interesting going on to keep me awake.

The big third act revelation (and I don’t think this much of a spoiler but look away now if you intend seeing this) is that one twin wouldn’t have minded not being joined to the other. Considering every single bloody conjoined twin film has exactly the same central dilemma – except done in a more dramatically interesting way - it wasn’t the greatest surprise

Box Office #28


The Devil Wears Prada

This boss from hell in the fashion world movie is enjoyable to watch for the great performances and some funny lines but I’m not sure they got the tone right. Or maybe they did want a predictable fairytale fantasy. I would have liked a bit more edge and less copping out.

The big question the screenwriter had to deal with was “why would Andy stay?” She's working for a fashion magazine as a PA when she wants to work for newspapers as a features writer. Her CV is obviously very good and she could get a PA job anywhere. You get some great gags and conflicts by making her such a fish out of water in the fashion world but I don’t think that question was ever satisfactorily resolved. Although they do at least try.

Although Emily is a minor character not writing her properly drags the film down. For most of the picture she was the typical limey baddie but Andy goes out of her way to help her at the end when she did nothing to deserve it. Her goal and desire was to go to Paris Fashion Week for the lots of free clothes which was such obvious nonsense only the very charitable could let that pass. You can imagine, just about, the editor in chief getting that stuff, the other editors, maybe models and agents but why give it to a secretary with no influence or power? (Not to take anything away from Emily Blunt’s superb performance).

There is also some inconsistent characterisation that annoyed me. Emily the more senior PA hates Andy for the way she dresses and for not being a fashionista. In one scene Emily warns Andy that she had better do well because it reflects on her. A little while later, Andy says “wish me luck” and Emily says “No I won’t”. That actually would have been a nice dilemma if done on purpose and followed through - Emily hates her but needs her to do well - but it wasn’t done on purpose.

Box Office #1

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