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I have just finished watching the premier of Soundproof on BBC2. I decided to catch it having read a preview in one of the papers, it sounded an interesting concept, one which could be make an original stab at the typical British urban thriller.
It was hyped as being the first drama in which sign language plays a major part in the plot. The result, like watching a subtitled film, is that you rely on your eyes rather than ears to take you through the plot. The acting was simply outstanding, Jospeh Mawl showed real emotion throughout his entire body, not just a quivering lip. It brought you into the character's sense of frustration, where he could not express yourself fully when it really mattered. The plot, one of four flatmates falls from a balcony, did not twist and turn like most thrillers on the BBC (Waking the Dead and Silent Witness), it was lean allowing the actors to really explore your characters, and for the viewer to completely immerse themselves in the claustrophobic experience.
Life on Mars (2006)
Superb. The potential to become a classic
I was not going to watch Life on Mars as the adverts were so bad, especially the ones on the radio. The ads made it look like it was a time travelling post modern comedy, not too far removed from Austin Powers in humour. What it didn't really tell you, or even hint at, was the brilliant premise is not a time travelling escapade, but a psychological examination/comedy homage set in a 1973 that is full of cop show clichés.
Here lies the genius. As it is (possibly) set inside the mind of the unconscious present day John Simm it is not a time travel show. It is set in a 1973 that he believes existed. In the second episode Tyler says he was 4 in 1973, his memory has a nostalgic vision of the 70s, informed by the Sweeney and similar cop shows of that era. It is a tongue in cheek affectionate look back at shows past, from a modern perspective with modern insights.
Time travel makes light of the situation that John Simms character is facing. Stuck in a dream that he can't get out of, hearing doctors voices in the background and talking to psychiatrists that may or may not be real. There are moments that are high drama, the scene at the end of the second episode in the hospital is suitably dark and disturbing. This programme isn't just a jolly jaunt through the TVs archives, it also has characters that you care about.
Manga comics do not a good film make
Oldboy has a wonderful setup for a revenge film, it is on par with the Count of Monte Cristo. While the main character was imprisoned I was transfixed. Who was doing this too him? Why? I was ready to be shown a good revenge film. What I got was a convoluted mess.
I loved the first half of the film. Once the main character was released from a suitcase, wearing a particularly cool suit, I was fully expecting a tale of violence and revenge. Justified revenge. I knew they would throw somethings at me, but I wasn't expecting gibberish.
This is the second Asian film this year that screwed up a wonderful set-up, the other being Infernal Affairs. For the whole last hour the viewer is bombarded with illogical plot devices, twists that have no real meaning either to plot or as a parable to the viewer, all stables of Manga, that do not translate well to film. Asian cinema does not like to paint characters with the sides of good and bad. The heroes are sometimes worse than the villains, they usually have something seriously wrong with them, either mentally or morally.
Many of the criticisms regarding this film come from viewers who are blinded by the conventions of Western Cinema. I was not expecting it to be a conventional film, where revenge is reaped with no sacrifice to the protagonist. I was expecting destruction and madness. The conclusion however is neither of those. I don't know what it is, it just is what it is. It cannot be satisfying to anybody, even to those expecting a un-satisfying conclusion.
The Jokers (1967)
A rare thing
A good and enjoyable Michael Winner film? I know it's hard to believe but it is. It has all the merry pranks and tomfoolery of some other swinging 60's films, such as the Italian Job, but you probably haven't seen it. Reed and Crawford are supperb, great fun, seek it out.