Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rewatching the Watchmen

WatchmenWorth Watching!

I just realised that I never wrote a review of the film version of 'Watchmen'. Can't understand that as I had it all composed at the time. Having watched it again tonight, I repeat what I would have said (!), that is this is one of the most faithful film adaptations I have ever seen.
I watched it initially literally a day or so after finishing the graphic novel, so that first viewing was taken up matching scene with scene, making it difficult to appreciate it as a film in its own right. I was impressed though. Everything from the excellent casting (in particular Patrick Wilson is a perfect Night Owl, while Jackie Earle Haley just is Rorschach) to the design conspire to faithfulness. Dr Manhattan's creation scene is as good a genesis scene as any comic book movie has ever achieved. Even the one major departure the movie makes (and you who have read the novel and seen the film know what I'm referring to) is, in my view, a very beneficial one.
The thing is just being faithful to a great literary source does not guarantee a great film. 'Watchmen' is not a great film, but it is a very, very good one. There were times when I felt a director less slavish might have brought some new insights to the story, turned it into the cinematic event it might have been. However, the original work is such a hallowed text that to remain faithful and create something cinematically original is a task nigh on impossible and one which would require the very greatest of directors (and even then...). Zach Snyder, a director I would not have had much time for after his '300', achieves something admirable in its own way and I for one am not going to criticize him for not being Kubrick. His was a difficult job done exceptionally well. Alan Moore, who has disowned every adaptation of his work ever made (usually without watching it), should be honoured by this particular attempt.
As you can tell I have a lot of affection for this movie. When I read the novel the final image of Rorschach screaming at Manhattan stuck with me. It is the highest praise I can give to say that now when I remember that scene I see Haley's battered face.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Mesrine: Killer InstinctMesrine: Killer Instinct - Thank God for the French

After kiddie hour(s) with Tarantino, I treated myself to more adult fare this afternoon, taking in 'Mesrine: Killer Instinct'. Telling the story of France's public enemy number 1, and one of Europe's foremost celebrity crooks, it charts his development from being a soldier in Algeria in 1959 to his eventual death in 1979. It does it in a vigorous, disciplined way with as much attention to character as to the robberies and escapes that made his name.
I am not a fan of Vincent Cassel who usually chews up more scenery than a Fianna Fail sponsored road project. Having said that his take on French gangster Jacques Mesrine is reasonably well-restrained. The film too, the first part of a two film biopic, is coherent, unrelenting and unforgiving. If this man is to be a celebrity crook who ultimately wins our sympathy, then pushing a gun in his wife's mouth gives him a very bad start. What comes across most is the complexity of the character. Yes, he has good, and indeed charming, points; he's funny, loyal and even loving. But he was a successful gangster for a reason and the dark side of his personality is ever present.
In the acting stakes, mention should also be made of Gerard Depardieu, another actor who often acts larger than life. He is admirably subdued here as Mesrine's boss and mentor, Guido, and all the more threatening for it.
The action is handled expertly, his treatment in and escape from a Canadian prison being especially well done. There is style in the use of split screen and glamour in the globetrotting camera. Be warned though that this film is only the first part and it goes so quickly that the end is too abrupt crying out for part two. I'm certainly waiting for it.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious BasterdsInglourious indeed

So there's this kid, let's say maybe nine or ten, and he comes out of school one day all fired up with indignation after a history class on the Second World War. Now this kid is a bit of a comic book fan and he has a way with words (though he's not too good on spelling), so he sits down and he writes a story about what he would have done to Hitler if he had had the chance. Witness 'Inglourious Basterds'.
Any review of this film will say it's about a troop of American Jewish soldiers dropped into Nazi-occupied Europe to kill soldiers, and then scalp them. It's not. That's a high concept that explains one chapter (the movie is split into chapters), but it fails to take into account the other stories that ultimately interwine for the final sub-Aldrich bloodbath ('The Dirty Dozen' is an underused influence here). Each tale, however, is just as childish, something highlighted by a silly Mike Myers cameo. Entertaining, often, but about as mature as an easy single.
The Tarantino name being what it is, the film is jam-packed with talent. The German actors (Brühl, Waltz, Kruger) are excellent, while Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna is a stand-out. Pitt, Roth et al. do what they have to do as cardboard cut-outs (Pitt might make a great Popeye). There are some nicely staged scenes, impressive shots and, wow, isn't Tarantino clever to hold our enjoyment of killing Nazis up to us with onscreen Germans enjoying a film of Allies being killed. But let us be under no misapprehension, this is a cartoon. (I was initially going to qualify that with a 'for adults', but it's not, it is a long, live-action cartoon, period.) It passes the time, but so do 'Tom and Jerry' (possibly an alternative title?). If this is what the best of today's cinema can give us, I think I'll stick with the '40s.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Lady from Shanghai

I watched Welle's classic noir, 'The Lady from Shanghai', again tonight. Why the hell he had to put on that crap Irish accent I'll never know. It could have ruined the film for me. Thankfully Rita Hayworth, looking more beautiful than you could ever think possible, balances things out nicely. I'd say Welles was doing a Sternberg on his wife were it not that they were meant to be going through some rough times right then. One of a kind movie though.

Are Americans Mad?

Just when the world saw Obama's election as a reason to take the US seriously again, they start complaining about a health bill apparently designed to help those who need help most. Apparently it's a Nazi(!!!!!!!) plan! Apparently Britain's NHS is Satanic! Apparently all us European countries maintain ovens in our so-called hospitals! Apparently I'm here due to this iniquity! (They must have saved my childhood life for some nefarious end I'm still not aware of.) Are they loons? Have they any intelligence in that poor country? Or should that be any compassion? Loons! I particularly take offence at their demonisation of the British NHS which is something I, as a non-British observer, have always looked at with a certain amount of admiration. Listen you blind, ignorant shites, if you want real corporate driven, backhanded greed behind your policies let's swap our Brian Cowen for your Barack Obama. Hey, what do you say? He'll ensure your millions of unwanted health care deprived citizens remain deprived. Hell, he'll even maintain the apparent quality of your education system. Wake up you loons!

Words of Wisdom

"I'm not here to be remembered, I'm here to live." - Ian Dury
Not to be forgotten all the same. Good stuff.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Women Issues

I happened to hear a piece on the radio about 18 year old champion runner, Caster Semenya. Officials were concerned about her recent athletic win, not because of drugs, but because (and these were the words of the BBC) a possible 'genetic anomaly'; ehm, she might not be female. Hhhmmmmm. Apparently they have to run 'tests' - lengthy, strict tests - to ascertain if she is in fact a woman. Her being in a women's race and all. Hhhhhmmmmmm. Speaking myself as a genetic anomaly (not female) I have on occasion thought of the efficacy of some such test for determining if some supposed 'ladies' are indeed what they claim to be, but by and large I have found it sufficient to resort to tried and tested methods. In this case though, I'm not sure what I find most distressing; the fact that the officials have such tests or that they need to resort to them in so public and humiliating a way. Isn't it just a little cruel? Not to mention absurd? My mother always taught me to be courteous to women. I suppose the athletics officials might claim their question begs their behaviour.

Hail Canada!

Apparently some Canadian scientists have researched the likely effects of a zombie epidemic. Not that they think it will happen, you understand, oh, no. Just in case, you know. For fairness they used the old Romero-style slow-moving undead, as opposed to the '28 Days Later' variety. We don't come out too well. Strike hard and strike often was the considered response of the fair-minded scientists. I always thought there was something a little strange about Canada.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mechanically Recovered Chicken

At break yesterday conversation revolved around a bargain purchase from Tesco's. Did you know they are selling hot dogs made predominantly from 'Mechanically Recovered Chicken'? I love that, 'Mechanically Recovered Chicken', though not to eat you understand. It just gives me an image of small robots running around the farmyard after panicked hens. What it all has to do with hot dogs I will never know.