But you probably shouldn’t avoid.
I’m starting to realise that my aversion to film over the last decade or so is sadly misplaced. Whether it’s just because I’ve found more immediate forms of entertainment in occasional TV or more frequent internet abuse, I’m not sure. Books I’ve always read, and the investment in time is generally worth it. So why 20 hours on a book but not 2 on a film?
I think the answer has been exposed this weekend, and this is the fact that there is the difference in perception between what I think a film is like and what the film is actually like.
Item one on the agenda is Million Dollar Baby. No not the 1934 vaudeville version, or the 1941 version starring an former president of the United States of America, but the 2004 Clint Eastwood boxing tale. I was a bit disparaging of this film after queuing it up on my rental list, it was on Harriets reccomendation and whilst I have every faith in the female ability to pick films, I was under the impression that this was going to be unadultarated schmaltz from start to finish, working class girl, works hard, makes impression on gruff boxing trainer who takes her to the top, gets her rewards, lift trophies kind of movie. It isn’t. OK sometimes it is a little tiring to watch Clint and Morgan Freeman trading ‘who can be the crotchiest old cantankerous, 60 fags and a bottle of whisky a day’ lines, but about 3/4 of the way through the film it does serve up the most unexpected curve ball (hey I can talk baseball too!). No spoilers, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Not at all. I’m going to keep my mouth shut before I start berating films before I see them based on what I percieve their content to be. It’s not a film I’ll buy but I see no reason to avoid it. In fact watch it. Just don’t watch it for a happy ending, as there isn’t one, and the one that there is is both morally ambiguous and wont sit well with those of a strong religous persuasion.
Item two is Oldboy, part of my current mild fascination with Asian cinema. This one’s from Korea, and has just blown me away. There’s few films I just cannot look away from, and this is one long car wreck of a movie. And I mean that most sincerely. It’s a movie that really actually makes you feel guilty for being such rubberneck during it. Every scene feels more and more intimate and by the time you start to figure out what is going on your interest turns to something more akin to revulsion. And the plot.. suffice to say if there’s any reason for watching stuff like this, its for the sole reason that Hollywood could never come up with, nor execute with the same panache or style. It’s a beautiful film – and does make me think a little of Infernal Affairs in terms of the gorgeous portrayals of modern city living (in a rather seedy, gritty urban way). Reviews of this film have been mixed at best that I’ve seen online and I’m not sure why. It’s a revenge movie that starts with the protaganist being imprisoned for 15 years for something he really has no recollection for. The film builds on the release from this, and the attempt to track down why he was imprisoned and by whom. As I was watching it the nearest thing I could compare to it was a Haruki Murakami story commited to celluloid. The same idea of initial wonderment and mundanity that transforms into intrigue and surrealism is very present here. However Murakami doesn’t tend to include quite so much violence, which to be fair is not overstated here, but is everpresent. Again, no spoilers, but just when you think you’re on top of the plot (which is unfurled and presented with great care as you follow Oh Dae-Su) the rug is whipped from under your feet, and the car crash continues as you’re inexorably drawn into one of the most peculiarly satisfying endings of any film I’ve seen. Definitely on the purchase list. Now if only I can get Harriet to watch a subtitled movie. Or do I have to wait for the 2006 Hollywood remake? All I can say, is that if it adulterates the storyline one iota (as the main theme is deeply unpalatable) it wont be fit to hold a candle to the original.
Hooray for film, boo to my complete ignorance on the topic.
Queued up next:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Ichi The Killer
Assault On Precinct 13
Battle Royale 2
Has to be something good in there too.