Last night I sat down in the company of my girlfriend to watch a film, I would say generally this is an enjoyable experience since I try and pick a film that would be different and interesting even if it isn’t perfect.
This time it was quite possibly the worst experience of my life from watching a film, well 2 films (and i think Julia shares this opinion)! We started with watching Along Came A Spider (Lee Tamahori, 2001). The opening sequence was seemingly fine until an appalling CGI moment reared its ugly head. Tracey with a y (I think), clings helplessly to the ruins of a car as it teeters over the edge of a smashed motorway barrier and a wholly unrealistic waterfall, before looking into the eyes of Morgan Freeman and falling to her death. Julia and I both looked at each other in shock and amazement that that sequence was actually in the film, I dislike over used CGI action anyway but at least make it look a bit realistic?!That was strike one for this film, strike two was about 2 minutes after when there was a teacher with the stereotypical quintessential British accent that very little british people actually have. Luckily it turns out he was putting the voice on which was a relief. At this point I was also very confused at the visuals of the film it was highly saturated with bright sets and comical characters, isn’t this supposed to a violent psychological thriller? Anyway strike three which ment it had to be turned off was about 5 minutes later when a girl is kidnapped and has a cheesy dream where she say’s “mummy where are you” or some bullshit all verisimilitude is lost with this unnatural convenient sleep talk, btw the kid says it clear as day and just at that moment there is a voice recorder hovering by her mouth. Strike three. You’re out of there. We couldn’t watch on.
So with the hope of finding something actually watchable we turned to a slow paced drama called Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006) we had the feeling where we going to see this until the end no matter what (I thought i would watch it all, at least until I grabbed the nearest sharpest object and hacked by throat to relieve the pent up anger of the worse film I have seen in years) It starts off as you can guess…slow. The acting from the female character was dire but with an indie film you sometimes have to let it go, the two characters definitely did not seem like a couple expecting a baby. Un-talkative and awkward. Anyway the first male character speaks to the second male character on the phone and they arrange a trip to a nature reserve for a night. Basically to sum it up so you don’t ever waste your time watching it they go to the place and get lost a bit then stay in the woods and talk about nothing really, then go to a natural spring and then go home.that its.nothing happened.no interesting images. The script is dribble and boring. The direction is equally pointless (I noticed some mug must have put some money into it because the shots where the characters are doing nothing in the car is filmed by a camera rig attached to the outside of the car, this would have cost a bit) so with these sort of films that are hideously slow usually there is a quirky character which make it enjoyable to just stare at their mannerisms and gestures, these guys had neither but they had clearly practiced the blank vacant expression because they used it enough. Also with these sort of films you can usually predict a bit of round the fire philosophy whilst in the great outdoors, it did, well sort of. There was no philosophy well anyway that had an interesting view or original concept. one element I haven’t mentioned yet was the soundtrack, I sort of got excited seeing Yo La Tengo as the musicians accompanying the film, I shouldn’t have, the music was really boring and sludgy, maybe it was the fact that it was put with way too many pretentious tree shots and car tracking shots either way it did not help at all.
I always like to mention a favourite shot and there was one, the most blatantly obvious goof I have seen, where the microphone boom is seen in the reflection of the van door when the characters are loading up. What a shot! That must have taken a genius to plan that and completely miss it all the way through the editing process. Who edited it anyway?a monkey?well a baboon could have quite happily edited it anyway…on iMovie…blindfolded… oh the best bit is the dog, the dog looks really nice!the dog kept my attention since the two characters blank expressions were making me question existence.
Its very unusual for an indie film to have nothing going for it but this Old Joy is utter shit and without being sexist I think partly it is a female director writing a story about two men, she clearly doesn’t know what blokes actually get up to if they meet up and go for an adventure but they sure don’t sip at a single beer and shoot beer cans with a small pellet gun. I have been watching slow films recently so I am willing to be patient and stare into a film until I see the beauty (all works by Bela Tarr are very slow, Werckemeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitzky 2000) is a film that only has about 39 shots or something but it has a brilliant eerie feel and the slow pace works for it.)
I also have to mention the reviews, there are reviewers who LOVE this film some even considered it the best American Film of the Year and praise the performance by the actors, absolute shock. Did these reviewers see something I didn’t?! Please make your mind up for yourselves and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading,