Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

PITCH PERFECT (2012)
Self-conscious, irritating, unfunny attempt to duplicate Bring It On, but in (what is, judging by the movie itself) the cutesy, cloying, oh-so-twee world of a cappella competitions. So oversweetened it'll give you diabetes, and so unfunny you'll wonder why you bothered. Anna Kendrick is a cutie, but not cute enough to make up for it. *

POTATOLAND (2013)
Part of me finds it cute that the double-length new Mickey Mouse is actually as long as the short Disney cartoons used to be. I loved this one--hell, I've loved them all--where Donald and Mickey contort themselves trying to create a fake amusement park so Goofy's dreams won't be crushed. That Potatoland is like a poor imitation of Disneyland is just icing on the cake. I particularly loved Potato Lincoln (and Goofy's teary reaction). ****

AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME (2013)
I was fascinated by the attempt, but I was not expecting to be as moved as I was. Mark Gatiss wrote the movie as his own tribute to the 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who, a movie about the making of the show itself, taking us from 1963 to 1966, encompassing William Hartnell's tenure as the First Doctor. David Bradley is excellent as Hartnell, very three-dimensional and sympathetic without heading into mythmaking and giving us a whimsical old man. I found him captivating. (There's this part of me that loved him so much it just wants him to show up now as the First Doctor... give us an episode where Bradley shows up as the First Doctor, David Troughton as the Second, and Sean Pertwee as the Third... hell, all of them. You can always say they don't look quite right because of some time distortion thing, and then the episode will be about setting them right. And I fanboy on. Back to the review.) I also thought Jessica Raine was wonderful as Who producer Verity Lambert, facing institutionalized sexism and fighting to get the show on the air. And the production design, the colors, the wonderful Daleks... and a little nod at the very end to the show's 50 year legacy that I found both surprising and touching. Beautifully done. ****

I may not have liked "The Day of the Doctor," but An Adventure in Time and Space and The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot and those monthly The Doctors Revisted specials were the real celebration for me. (And I watched the first two new seasons on BBC America, too. So it's been a lovely Doctor Who 50 week for me regardless.)

IDENTITY THIEF (2013)
It's not just bad, it's also really tedious. From the director of the bad, tedious Horrible Bosses, and just as effortlessly dumb. *

2 comments:

Tallulah Morehead said...

A friend of mine who lives in London and works from time to time for the BBC said that An Adventure in Space and Time was the last thing ever shot at the old BBC Center, which has been de-commissioned. He's very sad that he'll never walk those halls again.

I thought the movie was very excellent, and surprisingly accurate. Mark Gatiss cares enough to get things right.

Two actors appear in the movie while being played in the movie by other people. Willaim Russell, who was The Doctor's first male companion, and therefore seen all through it played by a much-younger man, played the crotchety BBC parking guard in the first scene, and the guy who played the brilliant TV exec who ordered Sydney Newman to cancel Doctor Who after four episodes (What a visionary! Though in truth, the caveman story that took up three of the first four episodes does really suck) was played by Mark Eden who played the title role in the First Doctor story Marco Polo, so we saw a younger actor playing him in the background of one shot.

There was no way I could hope it would turn out as well as it did. First rate job, and now Brian Cox has me wandering around going "Pop, pop, pop."

One review I read made an interesting observation, that it was in many ways like a Doctor who story, in that you had four outsiders, in this case, a "vulgar" Canadian TV exec, a Jewish female producer, an Indian director, and a washed-up old man actor triumphing over all opposition against mighty odds. (I don't know if the real Waris Hussein appeared in it, but he is still alive and consulted on it.)

SamuraiFrog said...

That's an interesting way to look at it, and I think part of what made the story pull me in.

That first episode of Doctor Who is so atmospheric, but the cavemen episodes are so slow and tedious...