Thursday, 26 January 2012

A week at the flicks

Hello! I hope you're well. Sorry I haven't seen much of you this week, but I have been to the cinema twice. Watching films at the cinema costs skywards of £12 these days, so I'm going to effing and jeffing well write about them.

Coriolanus. Peculiar film, but that's OK as it's a strange play full of the kind of strange lines that have you going "Really, Shakespeare? Really? There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger?" It's not exactly a play about making a balls-up of getting your message across. It's more a play about having something to get across that isn't a message.

That said, as a film it's still odder than it needs to be. Normally the advantage of screen over stage is being able to use more than a dozen people to represent the entire population of Rome. Not here. Here the entire population of Rome meets for tea in each other's flats. In the Jeremy Kyle banishment scene they even jeer in single file, and when Ralph Fiennes is having his Arthur-stealing-the-Christmas-Club-money flip-out, they don't muster a titter between them. Rome feels like England when there's a moderate kerfuffle, but reverts to Serbia when it really kicks off. After Coriolanus and Aufidius have been peeled off each other in Corioles, Gerard Butler wanders over to a car full of corpses to open the Tupperware lunchbox that contains his monologue, and suddenly you're watching the classiest but ugliest episode of Rab C Nesbitt you'll ever see.

James (C?) Nesbitt is pitched right as a Scottish Labour apparatchik, as is his colleague, who might actually have been Des Browne. Jon Snow is a welcome addition, although the news never seems quite so bad when Jon Snow's in command of it. The chip just won't stay on his shoulder. John Humphrys would have been a better choice. Jon Snow has sat in a jet beside a sleeping Idi Amin and contemplated shooting him in the head, but concluded the shot might bring the plane down. Humphrys would have suffocated the bugger with an antimacassar.

Volumnia is ice-cream delicious as a military matriarch: a Stannah Stalinist who'd eat Lady Macbeth for breakfast if only Lady Macbeth could haul herself out of bed for 5:15 when Volumnia eats her breakfast. Her army family, and Coriolanus' second army family that flocks around him when he returns to Corioles and it all goes a bit Apocalypse Now, build up such a backcloth of strangeness that the "unnatural scene they laugh at" fits right in. The stomach speech, and all the lines of that other woman that hangs around (Virginia? Valeria?) get cut and can count themselves lucky. Menenius quietly bleeds himself to death to get out of having to do any acting.

The Artist, though: good film, and good clean fun film. It's black and white and wordless, but it will still be the most conventional film you've ever seen Malcolm McDowell in. Don't be put off by the lack of dialogue: be put slightly off by the surplus of dialogue, because a proper 20s film wouldn't have had nearly as many title cards. Really, don't be put off at all.

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