This week, for me, has been a total non-event, so this is probably the least in-depth reflective blog I'll ever write. On Monday, we had a day off for half term. Fair do's, I thought, I'd be nice and rested for the open day on Tuesday. Or I'd be nice and rested for the dentist, and then come into the open day talking like the Elephant Man. (I hadn't been to the dentist since before I started uni... and no, I don't mean the Academy... it's been a pretty long time so suffice to say I reeeeaally wasn't looking forward to it). Tuesday morning arrived, and so did a rather nauseous bout of flu. Sooooo, off home I went after having a filling re-filled, thankfully free of any resemblance to a circus freak. Tuesday and Wednesday passed in a blur of sleep and being barely awake long enough to watch a new DVD. So far, so terribly terribly dull. There was a sort of silver lining, I guess; having ridiculously overspent at a friend's birthday on Saturday- I won't mention how much because it'll make me boak and I don't want my mum to see- I didn't spend a penny. Yaaay.
Thursday featured my first foray into the Academy since last Friday, for my tutorial with Adam. All in all, it went pretty well, although my (initially) simple "what if...?" idea looks like it's gonna take a serious amount of research.. and work... I do like pitching ideas for TV though; I like how the medium is a platform for expanding on ideas and following up on them through several episodes, rather than trying to fit them into a more restrictive structure and time frame. Considering the trouble I've had with my short film ideas so far, TV seems to lend itself more to the kind of ideas I've been coming up with. Plus any excuse to read graphic novels and comics as 'research' is a good excuse... it's all in aid of furthering my potential future career, after all....!
Having missed the first class on the Development of Cinema, I wasn't sure what to expect with our screening of That's Entertainment... I surprised myself last week by actually enjoying Singing In The Rain though, so I wasn't dreading it too much. It was fascinating to see the epic scale on which the big MGM musicals were produced; money was no object where these movies were concerned and some of the lavish, hugely extravagant and meticulously choreographed pictures like An American in Paris were jaw-dropping in the number of extras alone! Being an MGM production, the film didn't reveal any of the hidden truths behind their features- such as the way in which the stars lives were dictated and controlled by the studio (the most famous and tragic example being Judy Garland, who in one sequence looked so doped up she'd forgotten how to blink). At some points, the all-singing, all-dancing affair got a bit too much to stomach, and I was praying for a single clip without tapping or someone bursting into song... Still, interesting considering our discussion last week, about how the invention of talking films affected cinema. Love 'em or loathe 'em, it'd be hard to imagine cinema without musicals- if this were the case, we'd have no Moulin Rouge! As the only film I have ever cried at in the cinema, we'd be losing a pretty huge milestone for me. Who knew I had such a fluffy interior, eh?
Our afternoon class was cancelled due to missed flights, so we decided to hop across the road, what with it being Friday and The Day of New Releases. It was a toss up between The Princess and the Frog and The Lovely Bones... we opted for the latter, although after 2 hours I couldn't help feeling like we'd made the wrong decision.
I like Peter Jackson's earlier movies like Heavenly Creatures, but to date have only seen the The Two Towers and bodyswerved King Kong- they just didn't appeal to me, LOTR looked like a massive yawn-fest and I didn't want to sit through three hours of bloated CGI just to see King Kong fight a dinosaur. But still, sneak peeks and interviews from The Lovely Bones looked tempting, and given the success of the LOTR, a fair few folk seem to think Jackson's nae too bad with the ol' adaptations.
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Alice Sebold; in which 14 year old Susie Salmon (played here by Saiorse Ronan, possibly the most Oirish name ever) is raped and murdered by her creepy loner neighbour George Harvey. She is caught halfway between heaven and earth, bound by her inability to move forwards. She watches helplessly as the grief causes her family to fall apart. There are some truly tragic moments; her happiness coupled with pain as she watches her sister kiss someone for the first time a brutal reminder that this is a joy her life cut short will never permit. She remains linked to her father somehow; his obsession with catching the killer driving away her mother and also hampering his own ability to move on. Marky Mark- sorry, Mark Wahlberg- is excellent as Susie's grieving dad, his anguish and helplessness written all over his face. (still, I can't help singing Good Vibrations in my head whenever I see him onscreen...) Susie's sister Lindsey is also brilliant, living the life her sister should have led as an honour roll student, dating boys and generally growing up. Neighbour George, played by Stanley Tucci, is creepy, lingering and unnerving... he fits the description of 'neighbourhood paedo' to the letter. In fact, the performances were great throughout the whole film- shame then, that they were let down by the film's other components.
The heaven sequences, supposed to look lush and dreamlike, were certainly imaginative- the sequence in which Marky Mark's ships in the bottle crash into giant rocks was a standout for me. Still, they looked far, faaaaar too computer generated. Fair play, the settings change almost with every step, and this would be nigh on impossible to recreate without the use of computer effects but still... Call me old fashioned, but I really do loathe movies which rely too heavily on this technique. After a while, they become really tedious stop-gaps, Susie herself becomes a bit of a floating character without much to do. The film crawled along at a snail's pace, but still managed to lurch uncomfortably between tones. For example, Susan Sarandon as the booze-soaked Grandma was a hoot, but seemed horribly out of place. She'd have been hilarious were she playing the part in a full-on comedy film, but here she fitted awkwardly- especially when she was suddenly transformed into dowdy, functioning family matriarch. It came out of nowhere and was really hard to swallow. Jackson also let himself down in the final act. When George's carefully protected lie starts to collapse on him, it seems to last an age. In one scene Lindsey sneaks into his house looking for proof of his guilt, when suddenly he returns home unexpectedly (as they all do...). She finds a sketchbook with elaborate details of the murder, as well as others, and makes a break for it. This could have been really exciting, but was juddered abruptly to a halt with the re-appearance of the long-lost Mrs Salmon. Lindsey seems to stop dead in her tracks and even hesitate before handing the book over to her Grandma, and by then George has been given the chance to make an escape. It all seems really anticlimatic, and makes you wonder what Susie's been hanging about for. Even the big heavenly 'reveal' isn't that much of a surprise.
To be fair, I didn't hate this movie- I haven't read the book, and so have nothing to compare it to. It was tense in places, and the prelude to the murder itself was fraught with anticipation. Yet, frustratingly, we don't actually see anything happen. A supposedly psychic girl is never fully explained, so we're left wondering why she feels a connection to the dead girl. It's a shame because this could have been a much more captivating film had it bothered to put more effort into its characters, and spent less time trying to dazzle us with special effects. Next time Mr Jackson releases his latest big-budget caper, I'll rent The Frighteners instead.