Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

This one’s a more recent addition to the list but I was looking for something to watch with the kids and Miss 14 recommended it. I have to say that her recommendation was greatly appreciated by me (especially because it’s on my list and I could knock another one off but also because it is a great film!).

Pitch Perfect made me laugh out loud, actually and repeatedly. Rebel Wilson as ‘Fat Amy’ (not sure this is funny but, you know, movies) is hilarious and I can see why everyone wanted to work with her after this. And I don’t just say this because she’s Aussie (and we tend to act like we own all the succesful exports from round these parts plus the New Zealand ones) but she is very funny. I bet you she adlibs like a fiend.

I also like Anna Kendrick as the lead (who I also liked in Camp – one I prepared earlier). It’s refreshing to see a less conventionally gorgeous actress leading a Hollywood movie usually only the British cast less conventionally gorgeous women in TV and movies.

It’s nice to watch an ensemble comedy that revolves around the lasses and isn’t overly devoted to romance. Don’t get me wrong romance abounds in Pitch Perfect – it just doesn’t overpower. This movie certainly passes the Bechdel Test, no worries.

Of course, the Glee comparisons pop into my head as I watch but this time they can be overlooked (unlike Camp) as the machinations are similar but not the characters. These women are misfits and lovin’ it. They want to win but it doesn’t define them (okay, maybe one of them but there’s always one isn’t there?).

I’d just like to point out here that, yes, they battle adversity and, yes, they are the underdogs and, yes, it gets bad in the middle and, yes, it will all probably work out exactly as you expect it will but for some reason (writing? acting? directing? all of the next to?) the journey just carries you along on a wave of good feeling and laughs.

Of course I don’t usually like a musical but this movie ain’t no Kaante and the singing is what it’s all about – I could tell that from the title (did anyone really think this was a horror movie about a serial killer who can aim a pitchfork really well? Or maybe it’s a baseball movie? Or maybe a movie about really excellent sticky black stuff? Stop me, I could go on!).

Anyhoo, I was pleasantly surprised and exceptionally pleased that no one randomly burst into song halfway through a sandwich and that singing occurs as expected (musical sanity at last).

I suppose they are making a Pitch Perfect 2 and I hope it is as good as the first but I bet it will be a rehash with more of our, by now, favourite women and no doubt lots of Fat Amy. Fingers crossed it can deliver as much fun as the first.

To keep you informed, this was the second time Miss 14 had seen Pitch Perfect and she still liked it. Miss 11 did not like it: “It’s boring”.

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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 Triplets of Belleville

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This is absolutely gorgeous! The animation is old fashioned and quirky which gives the film a warm huggy feeling. Worst description ever but I’m going to leave it there…

It starts out with a really ye olde style of animation in black and white referencing original Mickey Mouse and very early cartoons. Watching and listening to the triplets do their thing in ye olde burlesque Paris is grande. It’s a lot of fun to pick the homages being made to the Mouse as well as others such as Josephine Baker who was so loved in Paris.

There isn’t really any talking in the film so subtitles are not needed. I think they would be annoying and take away from the experience of falling in love with an old lady and her dog. There is little talking needed to pick the characters of these people as so much is portrayed by the way they are animated. There is an hilarious fawning waiter at one point who is almost falling over himself with the fawning – no words needed – I know who he is.

The triplets don’t really feature a lot but it really is a catchy title so I suppose that’s how they got top billing. ‘Old woman and her dog from Paris’ doesn’t trip off the tongue with quite such ease. In the French release it was call “Belleville Rendezvous’ which is the song the triplets are famous for and is oft repeated during the movie – good thing it’s damned catchy.

(According to my musical hubby there is a Bach refrain repeated throughout in different styles (jazz etc) as well, although I cannot confirm this…)

You should see this one. And watch it with the older kids. Miss 14 really liked it but Miss 11 thought it was boring. Apparently she doesn’t like to think too much while watching animation. And there is a lot here (because of the non-talking aspect) that you have to decipher for yourself. There is also quite a confronting reference to horse racing and what happens to the poor horses who collapse on the track (it’s bad and involves a gun). It is a bit depressing explaining that to a youngster. Although it nicely packages why I really dislike horse racing – surely there’s something better to be done for an injured horse? Is our society really that money over life obsessed? – oh, wait, yes it is.

The movie was produced by Quebecois folks and it shines through in their portrayal of the Americans encountered. It’s both a put down and a compliment (is that a French thing perhaps…). The Americans are all giant (tall and wide), hamburger guzzling idiots, however, they are also incredibly friendly at the same time (to the point of annoyance for the dear old lady).

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There’s also a bit of mystery here as the old lady tries to find her grandson after he dissapears during the Tour de France (of course because they are French they cycle). It does take a while to work out why he was kidnapped at all and that worked really well. Again, the non-talkiness meant that we weren’t told everything through horrible, horrible ‘everyone watching this is stupid’ exposition.

It’s short too so just watch it already.

Camp

Camp

So, Intacto starts in French without subtitles, so I didn’t cry because I couldn’t understand it (excellent), then moves to English without subtitles,  fine by me really, then Spanish also without subtitles. The problem being that I don’t speak Spanish.

Basically, due to a lack of subtitles I skipped to number 3 on my list, Camp.

Camp is basically Glee before Glee. Camp was released in 2003, 6 years before Glee started and maybe if I hadn’t seen Glee before Camp I might have liked Camp better.
Camp has everything Glee has. Gay boy who likes to wear dresses (admittedly 2 Glee characters in one), nerdy girl who sings real good, sporty good-looking guy who sings and plays guitar (drums in Glee), overweight black girl etc, etc. There’s even the straight girl, straight boy, gay boy love triangle. Just switch singing camp for school and you’ve got Glee.

Somehow, it just wasn’t as charming as Glee, plus I didn’t know any of the songs.
I almost wonder how Glee got away with using such similar characters but then considering it’s taken me 11 years to watch Camp and I haven’t heard a thing about it since I wrote it on the list, maybe it’s not so surprising.

Stephen Sondheim made an appearance but I only know who he is because one of the characters told me.

The only famous face (apart from Stephen Sondheim apparently) was Anna Kendrick. I forget what she’s in but I knew her face. Wikipedia tells me she’s in Pitch Perfect which is also on my list. Eep, musicals!

Next on my movie list is I’m Not Scared. I think it’s in Italian. Considering my subtitle luck so far I’m not holding my breath…