I have just finished watching a proper B-movie, which was actually quite good so I wanted to share my experience. It's called Slither, and although it is pretty new (shot in 2006) and apparently got some enthusiastic reviews from the major critics, I haven't heard about it until recently. The DVD cover claims it is 'the best horror comedy since Shaun of the Dead' which is not fully true, but they've got a point. To be honest it is not nearly half as funny as Shaun..., but for sure is much scarier, still being able to bring a few genuine laughs. Slither tells a well-known story of an alien body-snatchers invading a small American town. It is not at all original, which, surprisingly is not is it's drawback – you can still have fun spotting which scene is a reference to other movies. Some motives are quite imaginative too, as well as are the special effects. All in all it is a good, light entertainment if you like horror films.
Frankly, I am beginning to wonder why nobody reads this blog. There are a few possible answers, one of them being the so called 'niche appeal' of most of the films I am telling you (myself?) about. Well, I'm afraid that this will not change – why would I describe the movies I don't give a toss about or those everybody knows everything about already. I'll carry on writing about the ones that inspire me. So, dear children, today's topic is Memento, the debut feature of Christopher Nolan, who most recently has brought us a little-known kitchen-sink drama called The Dark Knight. While his first piece is not as good as his latest one, Memento is definitely still worth watching. It is a story of a guy (Guy Pearce, to be precise) looking for the killers of his wife. This description may sound like the film is not too original, but there is one twist. It is shot backwards – first we see the ending, then the chain of events that led to it, the beginning of the story being seen in the last few minutes of the feature. It is not just a gimmick, all this is very well determined by the plot and this device makes perfect sense. Actually, the film itself does too, but it may take a few viewings to fully grasp it. It requires constant focus and it is very rewarding when all the pieces of the puzzle match together. Better than crosswords.
I can't understand the hype around the latest Star Trek film. I've never been a fan of the series, but since I kept reading that this outing is more accessible and not for 'trekkies', I thought I'd give it a go. I rather love science fiction and hearing that the director had made the movie Star Wars-style I was expecting quite a good fun. It was not. The film is pretty dull, feels somehow forced – it lacks the lightness of some of the best SF. The plot is just weird, its main subject being time-travel. There would be nothing wrong about it if it didn't seem to be introduced for a sole purpose of finding a way to squeeze Leonard Nimoy (playing one of the characters in the original TV show, which takes place years after the events in the movie) into it. On the good sides though it is only fair to mention how well it is made. The special effects are impeccable, the action is dynamic, the actors are doing their best. And it's got Simon Pegg in it too. It is not a complete disaster, but think twice before you spend a bit of your precious time watching it.
And now for something completely... foreign: Cinema Paradiso – a small masterpiece from Giuseppe Tornatore, a modern Italian genius. Italy has never been shy of talented directors, enough to mention the likes of Bernardo Bertolucci or Michalangelo Antonioni, but there is something special about his films, Cinema Paradiso being his best achievement so far. It is a story of Toto, a boy growing up in a small town, discovering the delights of love to both movies and girls. Many others have been telling similar stories about coming of age in the place of their childhood, those nostalgic and romantic stories of long-lost innocence, but hardly anybody (apart from Federico Fellini in Amarcord, from which Cinema... borrows a few scenes and motives) does that with so much charm as Mr Tornatore. It may seem boring when read, but believe me this is one of the most touching and funny movies you'll ever see.
And now for something completely different – the best thing that came out of United Kingdom since Monty Python. A hint: it is almost as funny and features a plasticine dog with a university degree. And the dog's name is Gromit. Have you guessed yet? Wallace and Gromit are the eponymous characters of five films so far, each of them was Oscar-nominated, three actually won the statuette. One of the winners was their only full-length cinema movie feature: Wallace&Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. If you are familiar with other films of the series you most certainly have already seen this, but if you haven't watched any yet, well, expect the unexpected. The Curse... is a wild ride, often absolutely hilarious, full of very smart ideas, as well as pretty cute. If you are a film fan (especially keen on 1960's British horror) watching it can bring a lot of satisfaction when spotting certain movie references too. Unfortunately, some of the jokes are a little bit of a miss, and The Curse... might not be as good as some of the shorts featuring the plasticine couple, but it is still definitely worth it.
Now I need to tell you about a film that was undeservedly bashed by the critics. And why did that happen? Apparently everyone was expecting from the director Richard Kelly another Donnie Darko, a dark, teenage drama with a hint of 1980s nostalgia and science-fiction motifs. And Southland Tales is anything but (well, maybe apart from SF, which is still present). What I think people didn't get is the film's tongue-in-cheek quality - when not taken serious it is actually very funny. And also very clever - there is literally a dozen of characters and Kelly's imagination does not know any boundaries. There are so many mad ideas, you could share them between at least five other inventive movies. Funnily enough the film's strength is also it's biggest weakness. As you can imagine the number of characters as well as of the subjects the director brings up make the whole enterprise a bit confusing. It is not really hard to follow, but at times requires a lot of attention. Also, I didn't 'get' the ending. Concluding - a pleasure to watch, a nightmare to understand. Not as bad as they say.