The Beguiled and Dunkirk, a fab new shampoo ad and video game

The Beguiled.

The Beguiled.

Dunkirk and the Beguiled are the latest his and hers films from Christopher Nolan and Sofia Coppola. And if nothing else, they’re a slight improvement on the ones that they last produced.

Back in 2006, they’d offered up another pair of matching his and hers films, with the Prestige and Marie Antoinette. The former has a denouement that’s so mesmerically obvious, that you immediately dismiss it as soon as it occurs to you, oh, about 90 seconds into the film. Only to discover hours later, that yes, that is the explanation – it’s the explanation you always suspect when it comes to magicians.

The Prestige, really?

The Prestige, really?

It’s like listening to one of those jokes that nine year old boys tell. You know what the punchline is hours before they get to it, but you indulge them anyway. While Marie Antoinette is like watching his eight year old sister parading in her brand new dress, which she refuses to take off for days. And each time you encounter her, you’re expected to gasp dutifully in cowed admiration. Marie Antoinette is so vacuous and so vapid, that you’d have had difficulty sitting through the entire three minutes had it been offered up as a sub-Adam Ant pop promo.

What usually happens to everyone at that age is that, almost over night, they grow up. So that one year later, they are each mortified at how juvenile their behaviour was, when they were the tender ages of nine and eight, all that year ago. But every one in a million, the boy and girl fail to grow up. And they continue parading their new dress and telling their endless and remarkably unfunny, shaggy dog stories well into their twenties and beyond.

Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette.

Here we are then ten years on, and the pair have produced another couple of films that, once again, are completely devoid of any real substance.

The Beguiled is a wholly un-necessary remake of a Clint Eastwood film, with Colin Farrell stepping in as the solitary man waylaid in a household lorded over by women. Had it been the latest 60 second Timotei ad, we could all have sat back and luxuriated in its glamorous, glitzy, glossy surface. But ninety minutes of pretty girls in vintage dresses, their immaculate hair back-lit just so, gliding in and out of the house from the garden begins to pall after a while. I love soft porn as much as the next guy, but even I drifted off after a while.

Dunkirk.

Dunkirk.

While Dunkirk prides itself on not giving any of its characters any sort of back story or history, robbing them all of any depth or individuality. What you have instead is a cast of interchangeable dark haired soldiers, let’s call them Players, who need to get from the bottom of the screen (France) to the safety of the top of the screen (England). But in their way, and coming at them from all directions, are a succession of creations designed to prevent them – torpedoes from the sea, Messerschmidts from the air, and orders from above etc.

MV5BMTc1ODcyNjk2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjcyOTYwMTE@._V1._CR50,63,895,1375_UY1200_CR75,0,630,1200_AL_The only individuals who are given any form are the Mark Rylance and Cillian Murphy characters, because they’re isolated from everyone else on a small boat on its way in the opposite direction, from England to France, which after all is what the story is supposed to have been about. So that they literally get given space to stand out from the crowd.

Other than which, it’s just the loudest, most technologically sophisticated version of Space Invaders you’ll ever see. But you won’t be able to play it. This is one of those video games you can only watch, and who the hell wants to watch a video game you can’t play?

A Separation.

A Separation.

If you want a real test for Dunkirk, try watching it on your iPhone. Then try watching, say, A Separation – reviewed earlier here. Of course you should never watch a film on anything other than the largest screen with the finest sound system you can find. But two minutes into A Separation, you’ll be lost in the depths of its mesmerising story. Two minutes into Dunkirk you’ll be wondering if there’s anything happening on your Facebook page. Because if you’re watching a film on your iPhone, you’ll obviously be somebody who regularly checks up on their Facebook page.

You can see the trailer for the Beguiled here, and for Dunkirk here.

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Is Seven Psychopaths the Greatest Irish Film of the Century?

SevenPsychopaths2012MovieTitleBannerMartin McDonagh has done a brave thing here. He’s made a film that looks for all the world like a really lazy, sub-Tarantino Hollywood B movie, peopled by risibly sub-one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs in a mesmerically unfunny so say pastiche.

But what he’s actually produced is a brilliantly candid portrait of a writer paralyzed by fear, who spends his days in an alcoholic haze petrified that he has nothing to say.

Instead of following the writer in a conventional way though, what he’s done is to show us the kind of film that a writer like that would produce if he really was as untalented as he secretly fears. And he were to insist on writing a screenplay anyway, despite being permanently inebriated.

Hence those tediously clichéd characters wandering around LA, spouting all that pseudo-Tarantino, wannabe Mamet dialogue that the writer clearly thinks will suddenly gain weight simply by being constantly repeated.

Occasionally, the writer will comment on his failings as a writer, as if by talking about them he might be able to fix them. Which, needless to say, is gratingly Californian, and is exactly the kind of thing a writer like that would think.

seven-psychopaths-walkenSomehow, despite being asked to wade through all this swill, Christopher Walken manages the remarkable feat of conjuring up a performance of genuine charm. And Colin Farrell similarly succeeds in occasionally making you actually feel for the writer. But then he’s forced to emit more of that dreary dialogue. Which he then has to repeat. Again.

Of course there’ll be the less cineastically sophisticated who’ll no doubt claim that McDonagh has gone from writing plays that read like really long episodes of Father Ted but without any of the jokes, to a sub-Tarantino (did you get the reference yet?) Hollywood pastiche without any of its jokes. And anyone who’s seen all six hours of Kill Bill will know what that feels like.

No way – I’m looking for a witty, po-mo meta-rhyme, there it is – José. Seven Psychopaths is so much more than that.

Despite what it looks like, this is in fact a brilliant distillation of the kind of unspeakable script a writer might produce, if he spent his every waking hour doused in a sterile sea of cheap alcohol that rendered his imagination completely impotent. And as such, it’s a devastating indictment of the demon drink. Oh the horror. The horror.

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