Friday, 13 January 2012

Anthology of Idiocy VII

Kicking off our return to the anthologies that have thus far failed to make my name, we have The Long Goodbye. Robert Altman's 1973 update of Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel starred Elliott Gould (as in Ross and Monica's dad) as never-without-a-cigarette private eye Philip Marlowe. The plot revolves around Marlowe investigating the murder of his friend's wife, with all the evidence pointing to the husband as the culprit. This is no whodunnit though, this is an LA where no-one can be trusted (I know that's a pretty corny line, but I couldn't help it. I can only offer my humblest apologies for writing it and I hope you can forgive me). Here's what one reviewer for thought:
The opening joke takes about one tenth of the total film (It really doesn't. It takes less than ten minutes and the film is nearly two hours long.) time to set up and fails to deliver a laugh (for the simple reason that the punchline is entirely predictable and the delivery contains little else that is worth the trouble of watching (It raised a smile. And it is important in developing Altman and Gould's take on the Marlowe character.). After this, there seems no reason to continue viewing. (The fact that the story hasn't even really begun? That is surely enough? If not that how about a young, huge-armed, half-naked Arnie?) Already bored senseless, I couldn't take the insipid interrogation scene that follows. (Insipid? Where you watching a whole different film or something? A Stephanie Meyer-ish take on Raymond Chandler? Also, now please tell me I'm wrong here, but that little bit suggested that - haha you'll laugh at this - that you stopped watching at that point. But of course that would be impossible since you're writing this review of the whole thing. Ha ha. You and you're little jokes - of course you watched the whole thing. Didn't you?)

Reader, I buried this deadly dull dvd in the depths of my time capsule, only to be opened when life has lost flavour and time drags eternal (as it did for twenty minutes in front of this uncelebrated cure for insomnia). (You weren't joking were you? You really did stop watching didn't you? And now you're sitting there. Writing this twaddle. Probably beaming at how you're oh-so-clever. Well you're not clever. Though what you are does, indeed, begin with a "c". It's "cunt" by the way, if you found thinking of words beginning with "c" too tricky for you. When I'm in charge people like you who review a film without having seen it all will be sent to gulags. Gulags full of hungry crocodiles that have a particular fondness for testicles. Also, the film is not dull, it merely takes its time. Why do people so need fast-paced films all the time? Sometimes it's nice to just relax and let a slow movie just wash over you like the sea. In this moron's case I hope it is a sea full of jellyfish and sharks, but hey ho.)

I didn't come to this film for a Marlowe-in-the-flesh type experience (Then what, pray tell, were you looking for. It is a film about Marlowe directed by Robert Altman. What did you really think was going to happen? He'd have made a Michael Bay film?), but I was hoping for some sort of experience (Clearly you weren't looking for "some sort" of experience. You were looking for a particular experience. An experience that, with these people involved, was never going to happen. Because you are narrow-minded and this film was not what you wanted you never even gave it a chance.) I didn't come with an aversion for Altman, but I left feeling tired and full of no coffee (You watched twenty minutes. How is it possible to feel that after such a short time?). Advice for Chandler enthusiasts: even the hokey bemitchummed 'Farewell My Lovely' holds more charm and interest (There's nothing wrong with Robert Mitchum either.); even the enbogarted 'The Big Sleep' is not infested with ennui (There is certainly nothing wrong with Humphrey Bogart. He is absolutely one of Hollywood's greatest ever stars. And his The Big Sleep is a truly cracking film.). Advice for noir and film lovers: for dark and lovely detection in intelligent celluloid, go see Truffaut or Polanski (There are any number of directors you could have picked. Is there a reason why you picked two from the 60s/70s? The 40s/50s are by far the best years for film noir with Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Orson Welles, John Huston and Jacques Tourneur the directors that really put the genre on the map. The only reason I can think of is that you don't like or have never heard of these people. In either case you are certainly less knowledgeable than you would have us all believe. Also, actually using the term ennui makes you sound like the sort of pretentious prick who has no friends.) The cry goes round the terraces: anything but Altman! (Except it doesn't does it? Nobody says that. On the terraces or anywhere else. I'm willing to bet that you didn't shout it on the terraces either. You're a fucking liar that's what you are.)
Toshirō Mifune's bandit is slightly mad...
Next up we have an review of Akira Kurosawa's 1950 samurai masterpiece (one of many) Rashōmon. The movie, based on stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, tells the story of a court in Edo-era Japan and the different versions of the same story told by the different witnesses of a rape and murder. A study on truth and its subjectivity, the film won an honourary Academy Award in 1952 (the foreign film category was not introduced to the Oscars until 1957). Lord only knows what kind of moron could give it just one star...:
I was so disappointed (Well I was disappointed that there is a one star review, but these are our burdens to carry.), this was supposed to be a masterpiece (It isn't "supposed" to be anything. It is a masterpiece. Directors voted it the 9th best film of all time in 2002.), his other works were so amazing, like Seven Samurai and Ran (This, at least, is true. Except that this one is also amazing.)I guess every great director/writer is allowed one howler (I think most great directors have more than one howler. Francis Ford Coppola has made a load. Doesn't stop him being great. This, however, is not one of Akira Kurosawa's howlers.). Buy this if you have trouble sleeping (Yes. You may as well watch something quality whilst you can't sleep. Though this film will not cure your sleep problems I'm afraid.), the only good bit was the ending (The ending was a good bit...). It was just so lame (What does that mean? How was it "lame"?), I didn't care about the characters at all (Well you're not supposed to trust any of them, I suppose...), it was kind of predictable (Really? I found it was less predictable than many other films. But at least this is a proper point rather than just calling it "lame" so I shouldn't complain too much.) and really, really, really slow (It was slow, yes, but that is no bad thing. And since you profess to liking Seven Samurai, I really wonder how you felt that this was any more slow than that particular movie. Of the two, I find that one far slower than this. Half the three hour runtime is spent setting the scene.). One rubish sword fight (I'm beginning to suspect you like Kurosawa's other films more for their sword-fighting scenes, than the fantastic way they are put together or interesting storylines...). This one is going to gather dust on my shelf for about a decade, unlike his other movies. (Then more fool you. I hope one day you watch it again and realise what a fool you were to write this review. Well, I call it a review, but that's really rather stretching the definition of "review" as there is no insight to be found here at all.)
The visual image of the dvd and the container itself are good quality. (This much is true. The Optimum release does come in a rather splendid box and contain a rather nice booklet that includes the original Japanese story.)
Let's move on once more, this time to Philip K. Dick's novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Like pretty much all Dick stories this novel centres around the loss of identity and set in a nightmarish alternate world. The plot follows Jason Taverner, a famous singer and entertainer who wakes up to find that he has no identity and none of his old friends know who he is. In a police state where to have no identity is a fairly major problem... This is widely regarded as one of Dick's finest novels with numerous film adaptations mooted, but never begun. Here's what one reviewer thinks of the book:
I read Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle" and absolutely enjoyed it (Good. I, too, hope to read it someday. Maybe if Penguin books remember why they were set up they'll reduce it's ridiculous £10 price tag...). Then I searched for other things by the same author and read them: "Now wait for last year", "The three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" and finally "Flow my tears, the policeman said" with increasing disappointment and impatience (I haven't heard of the first one, but I understand The Three Stigmata... is considered to be one of his better novels. From what I know of the several Dick books I have read is that they are not for the impatient. They take their time creating the worlds the characters inhabit. So maybe the problem is not with the books, but rather with you?) All three of them display some brilliant situations (Flow.. does certainly contain good situations, to go with the equally good links between the situations.), particularly at the starting point, but then in all of them the author reveals his absolute lack of command of the plot, of or its goals and rhythm(To be honest, I don't think you could write a better novel. And also, his novels work best like that. That is his style of writing leave him alone.). As you go on reading, you get more and more entangled in a confusion of facts and characters coming out of nowhere (They come out of nowhere in the sense that the character meets them. What exactly did you expect? Notices at the start of a chapter with a biography of all the characters introduced in that chapter? What a stupid thing to say.). Reality becomes a kind of nightmare, yes, but not in any enjoyable way (at least for me) (Surely you recognise that going into any world that is described as a "nightmare" is not necessarily going to be "enjoyable" in the classic sense. Like a good horror movie this has a cathartic effect.). These novels appear to me as the genuine products of an intoxicated mind (Well it's Philip K. Dick. A man who used lots of drugs and was generally pretty mad. Would you also disregard Hunter S. Thompson's work as that of an "intoxicated mind"? To do this sort of thing would be to close yourself off from some wonderfully rich works.). Art is about control, and there's nothing of it in them. (What? Are you mad? Art is so much more than control. Art is whatever people make of it. Dick is a master of his art. A personal art. A paranoid art, perhaps, but art nonetheless. Your idea of "art" is so conservative as to be ridiculous. Let's be honest here. You liked The Man in the High Castle because it is widely held to be a classic piece of fiction. You dislike his other work because it is "mere" SF.)
That's enough for now I feel. Till next time faithful readers!

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