The Blind Side

the blind side

Is it just me or is Sandra Bullock starting to look like later life Michael Jackson? A quick images search and apparently it’s not just me…

Weird.

Weird.

Anyway apart from the distraction of constantly wondering “is that Sandra or Michael?’, I thought The Blind Side was just a disappointingly bad film. How this ever won Sandra/Michael any awards is beyond me. She puts on an accent? She wears tight clothes? She is a woman of ‘a certain age’ who got an acting gig? She looks like Michael Jackson? And she won the Academy Award for best actress? I’m starting to think I could win one.

The best thing about The Blind Side is that it is a true story. I would have much preferred to watch a doco about the actual family than this overblown melodrama. The main character is not even the main character; wouldn’t it have made sense to tell this from the point of view of the young man whose life was turned around? What do I know about that guy from watching this? Not much, apparently he plays football now.

Some good things, I am Australian therefore know nothing of this “American Football” stuff and I didn’t need to know anything to understand what was going on (good thing). Yes, that’s it.

Here are some bad things, so many stereotypes about the black community in the USA, are they really all dodgy/drug addicted/unemployed/gang members? Not one black person (apart from our footballing hero) was portrayed in a good way (bad thing). Even the man who first took in our footballing hero abandoned him to homelessness (bad thing). On the other hand Sandra/Michael’s family are rich white angels with so much money and love to give and no drugs/dodginess/unemployment. So, The Blind Side, are you telling me that white people are really better than everyone else because their skin is so pale? (bad thing). Seriously, only white people are good in this movie. A few white people are a bit judgemental but none of them are “really” bad apparently because they all have money and jobs and white skin (bad thing).

This could have been done so much better, it is a true story, so, yes, a rich white family took in a young black homeless man and gave him an amazing opportunity to shine (good thing, definitely). But did the screenwriters really have to suggest that there was no other way out, that there were no shining lights in his community to be an example of not being drugged/dodgy/unemployed? That there were very few chances for this young man with his family background and the influences around him is clear but to write-off a whole community as poor, mean and bad is pretty offensive. I get that being part of a poor community does limit chances (bad thing) but the stereotyping of non-whites versus whites in this film is really pathetic (bad thing).

Sandra/Michael is usually a good actress but this film is pretty much a load of tripe. Portraying a rich white family as heroes for using their money for good is boring and how many more times do we need to see white people heroically saving non-white people from poverty? It’s condescending and pretty much just racist (do I need to say it? BAD THING). Anyone can end up in poverty and there are many different reasons not just crack addictions and being a gang member. Not everyone who lives in a ‘bad’ part of town is a loser with no future. Hollywood needs to stop telling us this is so.

I am so disappointed by this film. Sandra/Michael has let me down. I’m off to watch The Heat again so I can at least get a couple of laughs out of her Sandra/Michael face again (good thing).

Intacto

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So I finally got around to watching Intacto, subtitles ‘n’ all! Intacto is number 2 on the list so I’ve been trying to get my hands on a copy for a while. The last one had no subtitles and seeing as I don’t speak Spanish it didn’t really work out. There is a bit of English in there but not enough for anything to make sense and this is a really confusing film.

It’s really hard to describe because it takes itself so seriously yet is set in (what I hope) is an imagined world. In this world you’re born with luck and others are born with the ability to steal it all. Yep, this is a film about gambling in a world where luck could be yours for the taking. Basically all the characters are gambling addicts who must gamble on more and more absurd things to get to the ultimate test of luck. A game of russian roulette with a man who has never lost and steals all the gamblers’ luck when they die (or if he touches them) and the luck of those around the dead gambler. And you have to dress like him to play the game and he has a bag on his head while you take your shot – not creepy or weird, no ma’am not at all. Of course, the guy runs a casino in the middle of the desert – as you do. We all know casinos grow in deserts.

So if you watch Intacto you will spend a lot of time watching men (and a few women – just a few – apparently women are not so lucky?) gamble on dumb dangerous things like running blindfolded across a highway or racing blindfolded through a forest. Blindfolded – kind of like I thought I probably could have been during this film although that would make it hard to read the subtitles.

Really this is just two really annoying guys, one who happens to be really lucky and one who lost all his luck to Casino Guy, trying to get to the roulette game to shoot Casino guy. Why not just walk up to him and shoot him at the supermarket? I do not know. I suppose because this film is all yellow and noir. (I’m starting to think yellow and noir may be a bad sign for me in a movie since the yellow noir fest that was Kaante.)

Maybe it was just too subtle for me but I really felt like the movie was quite isolating. It was hard to feel sympathetic towrd the characters and the gambling just seemed dumb. I mean, do people really gamble their family away? A world where people gamble the house on whether or not a praying mantis will land on their heads? Don’t answer. I don’t want to know. Maybe if the film had a sci-fi edge or a more fantastic world they lived in (not backwater Spain – who even knew there was a backwater Spain?) I could’ve suspended my disbelief a little better.

I’d actually be interested to talk to someone else about what they thought of it. I get the feeling Intacto could be quite divisive. I am not a gambler in general but it’s interesting to think that people so rich and so bored could become so addicted to dumb and dangerous gambling. Who knew? Not me.

Kaante

kaante

Let’s go crazy Bollywood style!

I think someone yelled the above after watching Reservoir Dogs. If you’ve seen Reservoir Dogs I just spoiled Kaante for you.

Kaante is weird and not helped by some dodgy subtitle work on the version I saw. Basically six crim types get thrown together in lock up and devise a way of getting back at the cops by robbing the ‘American Bank’ (imaginative). Because this is a remake of Reservoir Dogs there was the same array of characters, Mr Crazy (torture guy), Mr Full of Himself, Mr Aged and Respected, Mr Undercover Cop and Mr Tough Guy. It couldn’t be more by the book (Quentin Tarantino’s book that is).

I’m not sure if this was made as an outright version of Reservoir Dogs but the story is EXACTLY the same. However, while being surprisingly badly acted especially by Mr Crazy Guy it is also full of Bollywood musical numbers! Can an Indian film be made without musical numbers? I wish they could because I probably would have liked this better without singing and dancing. The first time it happened I was actually a little shocked as it was so out of the blue compared to the serious gritty kind of atmosphere Kaante was trying to develop up until that point.

The main characters even did a number which was especially weird because they were planning a bank robbery. Imagine Ocean’s Eleven with George Clooney and Brad Pitt suddenly starting to sing over the plans of the casino vault followed by highly choreographed dancing. Not good. It really ruined any flow the film had and certainly destroyed the trying to be ‘gritty’ atmosphere of the non-dancey scenes.

The only woman of note was the pole dancer girlfriend of Mr Tough Guy (he really did it all for love) and I’m pretty sure she was only in it so she could sing a number. Seeing an Indian woman portray a pole dancer in a Bollywood film was odd as it was meant to be kind of seedy/gritty but really it was very nice. She was nicely dressed and she danced nicely (not your usual pole dancing scene in an action film). Another thing that ruined any kind of crim movie atmosphere from developing. It would be better to have no pole dancing, I’m fine with that.

Kaante seemed to be directed by somebody who had previously only done music videos. The lighting was odd, apparently LA is always bathed in a yellow glow, a very yellow glow, in fact a fluorescent yellow glow. I think the director was probably going for seedy sepia toned noir but ended up with unpleasant Crayola toned  jaune (yes, I googled it, French for yellow). The editing was choppy, with jumpy repetition and slo mo over use. It would be fine for a four minute music video and that’s about all.

I think the icing on the cake for the whole movie watching experience is that Kaante runs for two and a half hours (it took me three sessions to get through it). Apparently Bollywood movie directors don’t cut out content for musical inclusions.

Even so, after all the above, it is the best Bollywood film I have ever seen. That’s really not saying much at all.

The Party

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This is a wave in the list as I managed to skip to number 9 through inaccurate player loading and being way too sitting down to do anything about it.

The Party was filmed in 1968, so is that enough for me to forgive it? No, not really.

I tried not to be offended but Peter Sellers in black face playing an Indian (from India not native American) was just uncomfortable making wrong town stuff.

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The Indian-ness of Mr Seller’s character was also the main ‘wacky’ of the piece. His bumblings and inappropriate cultural behaviour were played on throughout with the character creating havoc through being a likeable fool. Think Rowan Atkinson dressed up as an African Mr Bean – bad.

I kept trying to think that ‘at the time’ people would have been less offended by this stuff. But while people like me (white) probably didn’t find it offensive at the time I’m pretty sure the Indian community thought it was pretty crap. And really, people like me (white) should have known better. I think the argument that it was of its time and we should watch it with that in mind is powerless. I think it is more useful as an educational tool about the inherent racism of the time and why this stuff shouldn’t happen.

Are you getting that I couldn’t get over this hurdle?

Also, somehow an elephant ends up at the party and of course Mr Indian character gets precious about it’s cultural importance and makes more of a mess washing it. But why did the daughter have an elephant? It’s such an obvious plot piece because he’s Indian. It doesn’t make sense for a middle-american girl to paint an elephant and take it to a protest. Or did that happen a lot in the 60s?…

I didn’t think this movie was funny but that’s me. I don’t understand how it is considered a classic. The whole movie is like the unconfortable bit in the otherwise wonderful Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you know, Mickey Rooney… Japanese character… match made in heaven.

Maybe you do think it’s a classic comedy and can tell me why I should stop being so sensitive? I’ll listen, promise. Even better maybe someone can explain why elephants were such a must have accessory at protests in the 60s.

To end on a positive note – what I did like about this film:

  •  it’s portrait of upper class lifestyles of the 60s
  • there is a funny drunk waiter
  • Mr Indian character has a cool car.

Next film is Lady Snowblood but I’m having a bit of trouble tracking it down. So I’m jumping straight to Bubba Ho-Tep! It better be good.