January 2nd: Pick’n’Mix

Great response and encouragement from people, it’s much appreciated. I’m warning you though – you mightn’t be so happy with some of the reviews. Please make your feelings loudly known, I love a good debate.

 

 

 

Crash (2004, Paul Haggis) #197 in IMDB top 250

 

Best Picture winner of 2006 and the first review of a film in the IMDB top 250. Crash has a lot to recommend it; a great cast, most of whom on good form, an important subject and a massive stack of awards. Meandering storylines intersect across the course of two days in Los Angeles as the characters illustrate the many differing ways in which racism and racial stereotypes are reinforced, subverted and challenged. Crash is a success, it’s a successful film in what it achieves and almost successful in the way it goes about achieving that. Where the film stumbles is in its desire to move towards the conclusion, certain scenes begin to take a contrivance that this viewer struggled to reconcile with character motivations. Whilst I believed in Terence Howard’s performance, I did not believe in the emotional crack that causes him to confront the police. It’s been pointed out to me that perhaps I’m over analysing this scene, that his breaking point has been convincingly lead up to. I remain unconvinced but I’d love to hear others reactions – am I wrong? Worse still is the conversation between Ryan Phillipe and Larenz Tate which is necessary for the story to reach its conclusion but badly written. Having said that, Matt Dillon is excellent and his weary casual racism is excellently played and written. Even more surprising is Sandra Bullock who flies in the face of quirky loveable characters with a brilliantly highly strung performance of nastiness. Crash is a good film and I’ve overplayed some very minor flaws in this review which is unfair, it’s an intelligent work that will challenge some of your own perceptions and force you to confront your inherent prejudices and for that it should be applauded.

 

And Thandie Newton isn’t annoying which is a major success for her.

 

Note: Thanks to Dorian Hawkins whose DVD I’ve had for about 2 years. I’ll give it back now.




 

Cold Prey (2006, Roar Uthaug)

 

***Important note***

Vetting movies before they get shown at my horror nights is pretty important given the horrific disaster when I didn’t check the wobbling shower of turds that is SARS WARS: Bangkok Zombie Crisis (2004, Taweewat Wantha) and inflicted it on my poor, poor friends. Hence this film is one of the films that will undergo the vetting process and will get a pass/fail at the end of the review.

***Important note***

 

Cold Prey is a Norwegian slasher film that got some good reviews when it was released a couple of years ago. Five attractive young snowboarders decide to go off piste in search of thrills. When one breaks their leg they are too far from their car to get back and decide to carry him to an abandoned lodge nearby. They break in and then things go a bit pear shaped when someone decides to take offence at their presence. Cold Prey is resolutely formulaic, it adheres to many of the rules of the slasher film, to the extent that I’d made a few well educated guesses that turned out correctly. However, that said, Cold Prey is exceptionally well made. It’s tight and tense, the scenery is beautifully photographed and the production design excellent. Without shaking any genre foundations Cold Prey is a lean and brutal success – and it features some attractive Scandinavian people.

 

A resolute pass.

 

Note: I’ve noticed that Cold Prey 2 came out in Norway last year so I’ll see about reviewing that too.

 



 

The King of Kong (2007, Seth Gordon)

 

The King of Kong charts the attempt by Steve Wiebe to break the internationally recognised score record on the video game Donkey Kong and the response of the score keeping authority Twin Galaxies and previous record holder Billy Mitchell. Whilst it is a compelling and entertaining look into a fascinating subculture The King of Kong is also a masterpiece of manipulation, it is very carefully edited to build an imagined enmity between Wiebe and Mitchell. It also goes to great lengths to make the Twin Galaxies organisation look like a self interested group concerned with satisfying their own ends and massaging Mitchell’s ego. There’s very little subtlety about this construction, it’s a really heavy handed approach and to an educated eye it completely undercuts Gordon’s intent. For all the criticism you can level at this method The King of Kong has been a considerable success for the director (Seth Gordon has gone on to make studio movies (Four Christmases, 2008)) and remains an entertaining watch.

 


Poseidon (2006, Wolfgang Peterson)

 

If Wolfgang Peterson doesn’t actually enjoy directing water based movies then he should go about telling someone because his directing CV is starting to look remarkably damp after Das Boot and The Perfect Storm. Watching Poseidon on a television is the wrong way to experience it, as several of the sequences were obviously designed for the ‘IMAX Experience’ release of the film. That said – it’s enjoyably stupid film and you can, as used to be the case in the big disaster films of the 60s/70s, play the enjoyable ‘spot the cameo’ game. Noticeable ones include Kevin Dillon’s ruffle shirted lothario, Freddy Rodriguez’ doomed minority and Black Eyed Pea Fergie as an inappropriately proportioned chanteuse. Some nice effects and suitable thinning of the cast made for a pleasant enough watch, which all but disappears from the mind immediately after.

1 thought on “January 2nd: Pick’n’Mix”

  1. Jess and I watched Crash last night.
    I enjoyed it but don’t quite understand what it was trying to do.
    Fair enough, people often have preconceptions of others based on race, or try to manipulate situations with it, but why were 90% of the characters MASSIVELY racist? They could have been more subtle.

    I think you’re right about Terrence Howard’s bit – he seemed to go from normal, rational person to “oppressed” black man and somehow ended up as Uncle Phil out of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. But that seemed like a precursor to the bit with Ryan Phillipe and Larenz Tate (who I don’t think I’ve seen since Dead Presidents – like Terrence Howard, too), because that just switched from fine to awful in a matter of seconds, apparently unnecessarily.

    Couldn’t they just have started off by saying “Prejudices aren’t always black and white” (excuse the pun), and tone it down a bit?

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