Tuesday, 13 October 2009

No writing, lots of films...

So last week I didn't get too much writing done, but I did play more Yakuza 2 (in which I'm now running a night-club as well as trying to unite two warring Yakuza factions. Which leads to situations where I'll be doing one thing that seems fairly urgent, like rescuing a friend who's been kidnapped by a rival gang, and will then get a call from my club meaning I have to stop off there on the way and choose new wallpaper or something. It's starting to mirror my real life day job/writing job situation...) and watched lots of films.

The best was Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God...be Back by Five which I came across while randomly looking at Jon Cryer's filmography. It's essentially a buddy road movie - two old friends set out in search of a third friend who's gone missing but discover a lot more about themselves along the way. Same as every other road movie, only this one takes place entirely at Coney Island. It's a great idea as Coney Island looks awesome on film and provides the perfect backdrop for a story about going in search of happy childhood memories in a place that has it's own memories and has since fallen on hard times. It's also shot in the winter season so Coney is empty and desolate. When I was there last year we went on the last weekend of the summer season so it was much more vibrant and buzzing by the afternoon. But in the morning we arrived way too early and it looked much like the Coney depicted here, only sunnier. It's a nice little film anyway and worth checking out if you come across it.

So I was going to just mention a good film and leave it that, but I also watched Body of Lies at the weekend and while I don't usually like to rant about films I didn't enjoy I think this one deserves it. Plus I don't think Ridley Scott will be scouring random blogs for feedback.

On the plus side it looked amazing and the performances were good (if you can handle Russell Crowe doing extreme-accent acting at least). But the pacing and structure were so dire I found it almost unbearable to watch. There's a moment almost exactly 1 hour in where the characters come up with a scheme that should really form the main plot - everything prior to this is set-up. In a two-hour film, they spend the first half on what should really be dealt with in the first twenty minutes. And once the plot does kick off, they spend most of it playing out a tacked on love story that if it were necessary should've been set up at the beginning.

Ultimately that was the worst thing about it - for all it's contemporary politics and impressive visuals it wasn't anything more than an old-fashioned 'rogue cop who risks it all for the love of a woman' film, and it didn't even do that very well. Even if they did, aren't we beyond these films now? You know, the films where the tough guy manages to get a woman to fall for him despite the fact that he's an antisocial loner who hates everyone? Then said woman gets herself into trouble because even though tough guys are willing to give up everything for them the women in these films are always pretty rubbish at doing anything except being pretty and getting into trouble? But despite this the tough guy will risk his own life and the lives of hundreds of others for this one person he only just met, which is an extremely romantic notion but comes from an entirely unromantic character? Haven't we moved on from there? Haven't we?

No, we clearly haven't.

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