Filmism.net Dispatch November 18, 2013

  • Share

Nothing earth shattering this week, I promise (not that anything in the Filmism.net dispatch ever shatters the earth), just rumination on two directors.

One who's never had much buzz but who I've always loved has a bit of a credibility issue of late. Andrew Niccol spent a long time making inexpensive, smart sci-fi with strong messages like S1m0ne (2002), Gattaca (1997) and The Truman Show (1998, which he wrote). Most people know Gattaca, but if you've never seen S1m0ne, do yourself a favour.

It wasn't very well received critically but it's actually a very prescient comment on how the life of both digital technologies and celebrity worship can get out of hand; how the two can become false gods we worship as we feel less meaning in our lives. He visited the same themes of the media and it's all-pervasive reach in the script for The Truman Show, which fellow antipodean Peter Weir bought to such thrilling life.

Lord of War (2005) was a great movie even though it wasn't his home territory of sci-fi, and then he slipped a little with In Time (2011), a good idea that didn't really stretch far enough for a 90-minute movie. But the Kiwi director's most recent effort was the irascible adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's The Host (2013), a movie even the lovesick teenage girls who made Twilight such a hit stayed away from in droves.

The pretty, talentless young love story was never going to appeal to me but being a Niccol fan I was ready to go with it. What a shame that very soon into it (barely half an hour) the script and conceit were so unwatchable I turned it off, something I never thought I'd do with an Andrew Niccol movie.

I sincerely hope this was his 'one for them' and he makes something far more deserving of his talents next time, maybe the 'untitled Andrew Niccol project' we're promised for 2015. There's a biopic of Salvador Dali with his name attached as co-screenwriter too, but not much else.

I've also been looking for follow up news of Tony Scott's untimely death last year. There was a story circulating at the time that he'd been diagnosed with brain cancer, soon dismissed by his family. Police said he left a note in his car and another in his office, but neither they nor his family ever disclosed their contents.

He had several projects lined up to work on at the time including the Top Gun follow-up, which he'd met Tom Cruise about only two days before he died. A coronial report said he had therapeutic levels of a sleep aid and antidepressant in his system, and while it's tempting to attribute something sinister to that we'll never know if it was depression, and nobody seems to be talking about it any more. His suicide is still as confounding as it is sad.

For the last few weeks movie screens and myself have become near-strangers for one reason or another, but I managed to check out some awards bait, sleazy trash and a Hollywood remake as inevitable as the rising sun. 12 Years a Slave was indeed as harrowing as you've heard, but despite the brutality of the experience and the power of the performances, I'm not convinced it tells us anything we didn't know about slavery in America (short of personalising it at the end of a cracking whip).

I also watched/endured Paul Schrader's The Canyons, a movie that had to use the casting appeal of a male porn actor and Hollywood's most tragic young female figure (Lindsay Lohan) to generate interest. Shame there wasn't anything too interesting in the movie.

And Spike Lee got every major technology company around to pay for his remake of cult Korean film Oldboy , a movie where the product placement is so widespread it gets frankly distracting. Other than that it was fine. I was never the biggest fan of the original and if you are this will probably pale a bit in comparison.

© 2011-2024 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au