Monday, 31 October 2005

October film roundup

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie *** - Fun, cool and sassy animé that seems to be drawn most obviously from Batman and, more specifically, The Joker. The only bum note is the computer whiz Ed who manages to be annoying in every single scene.

Office Space *** - A bit like Falling Down, only with fewer bazookas. Wish-fulfilment comedy that doesn't quite strike the right chord. (Is an intelligent, articulate computer programmer really going to feel more valued doing manual work salvaging fire-damaged goods?)

The Dukes Of Hazzard ** - Fun while it lasts, but instantly forgettable. Hopefully (but not obviously) the role of Daisy Duke - who exists solely to elicit vital information from male characters by wearing tiny denim shorts and / or exposing a lot of midriff - is a recurring joke rather than appalling cliché.

Swimming Pool *** - Enigmatic and mysterious, but beautifully shot, this is either patent stereotyping or brilliant subversion.

Somersault ** - Slow-burning drama about a teenage girl finding herself through running away and experiencing casual and not-so-casual sex. Well-acted but overall rings false.

Tokyo Godfathers *** - One of the least "animated" animations I've ever seen, this is an unusual way of celebrating the spirit of Christmas (complete with its own Holy Trinity and miracle baby) with doses of high humour and gritty realism.

Wallace And Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit **** - Sounds a bit daft to say this about a film whose central character is a plasticene dog who knits recreationally, but somehow this film doesn't seem quite as "real" as W&G's earlier adventures. The animation, acting and script are all first-class.

The Castle Of Cagliostro *** - Hayao Miyazaki's first film is as beautiful as one might hope, allowing for the fact that it was made twenty years before Spirited Away. It also includes many of what would come to be regarded as the director's hallmarks: Young girl on the cusp of adulthood; flying machines; a European location.

Hotel Rwanda **** - Harrowing and shocking (and true) account of the atrocities in Rwanda that shows that the appalling treatment of one human being by another is not a feature limited to historical cases, but for some people is still a threat today. Inviting inevitable comparisons with Schindler's List, a more interesting parallel is The Pianist: in that film, one man is helped by dozens of people (who place themselves at massive risk, for no apparent reason) whilst in Hotel Rwanda, one resourceful and brave man uses every avenue open to him to save as many people as possible. Directed by Terry George, the author of The Boxer, which also invites speculation that he is comparing the situation in Rwanda with that in Northern Ireland and asking: If we can let this genocide happen, even under the watchful eye of the UN, what does this say about us as human beings? And are we not close to monsters ourselves?

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