Century 2008: The Smiths: The Queen is Dead

The Smiths: The Queen is Dead. Derek Jarman. 2008.

What’s this then? Oh, it’s an “unauthorised” documentary about The Smiths focusing on The Queen is Dead.

I’ve seen a couple of these before. They’re made on the cheap… But this does actually have The Smith’s songs, so it’s not as no-budget as some of the others.

And, of course, nobody from the band appears (except Craig Gannon), and instead it’s a bunch of journalists, producers and other musicians talking about The Smiths.

The most interesting bits here is where the producer (Stephen Street) talks, I think. And Tony Wilson drops some fact bombs on money matters: If Morrissey hadn’t signed with Rough Trade, the entire 80s indie scene wouldn’t have happened in the UK, because the money just wasn’t there otherwise.

But it’s quite nerdy, and I like that. Especially the guitarist guy who explains what Johnny Marr was doing.

Your mileage may vary. If The Smiths didn’t destroy your teenage years, you may find this painfully boring.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2007: What Would Jesus Buy?

What Would Jesus Buy?. Rob VanAlkemade. 2007.

Whaaa. It’s a documentary by that Supersize Me guy? Why did I buy this? I hate modern American documentaries: They’re snippet, snippet, snippet with some officious deep male voice telling you how outrageous everything is.

Or… Oh, it isn’t. It’s a mocumentary? Well, that makes more sense. I mean, for me to have bought this DVD.

So it’s a… fake group of evangelicals? That tour around the US trying to convince people to shop less?

It’s tedious. And they often use slightly fish-eyed lenses making everybody look weird.

But there are some entertaining scenes. And the scene with the girls who tried to determine where their clothes were made was quite affecting. And exorcising Walmart was great.

So: the first 45 minutes are unnecessary, but it gets better.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2006: As You Like It

As You Like It. Kenneth Branagh. 2006.

Oh, Kenneth Branagh. How we adored him in the early 90s. He could do no wrong.

He was that perfect mix of high culture (Shakespeare) and real drama (Peter’s Friends) with a detour into silly genre (Dead Again). And he was married to Emma Thompson and had Phyllida Law in all his films, which are excellent things to be and have.

And then things went seriously tits up just a couple years later, with what I remember as a string of horrible films he either acted in or directed.

So the only thing of his I’ve seen from er the last two decades was Thor, which was awful. (Not to be confused with Thor: Ragnarok which is the best super-hero movie ever.)

But this is Shakespeare… so let’s give it a chance…

Oh, Branagh moved it to Japan… and… it’s an HBO/BBC copro-duction. Well, that can be good! I like TV theatre. I like sets made out of MDF that have that hollow sound when the actors walk around.

… uh-oh. Is this supposed to be a… parody? No. He’s kept the original text, I think; not that I know it by heart. I mean, this is a pretty silly comedy, if I remember it correctly, but it just looks so… cheap. It’s got the aesthetics or As The World Churns, and a constant insipid score that tells you how to feel all of the time and a cinematography that’s best described as “they apparently had cameras”.

I mean, there’s some great performances where, like David Oyelowo as Orlando de Boys (and Janet McTeer as Audrey is hilarous), but it’s incredible how much Branagh undercuts the actors with his scoring and pedestrian shooting choices.

So: This is very funny, but that’s all down to Shakespeare and the actors.

*time passes*

I changed my mind. This shot changed my mind:

If you can get silly enough to adorn the sheep with flowers, it’s not all bad.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2004: Triple Agent

Triple Agent. Éric Rohmer. 2004.

Oops! I had gotten to 2002 last month, and then I went back to 2001 in the previous post. So now we’re at 2004, because I have nothing from 2003, so that all worked out perfectly!

Right?

And… it’s an Éric Rohmer film! Yay!

And it’s a period drama. I’m only seen him do contemporary films before. This is only my like fifth Rohmer film, and I still his films ineffably fascinating. They’re obviously nouvelle vague films, but in a way less showy way than, say, Robert Bresson or Jean-Luc Godard. There’s something intimate about them…

Rohmer is just so… is there a double-plus-good word for “pedestrian”? He just plonks down the camera in an undistinguished environment, with always-smiling actors that are in-between amateur and professional (I think?), with lines that aren’t really that real… and still it’s absolutely riveting.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 2001: The Man Who Wasn’t There

The Man Who Wasn’t There. Joel Coen. 2001.

Hey, it’s been a while since I saw a movie. Busy busy. But finally! A weekend that’s all open.

Now, I was a bit distracted while watching parts of this film, It certainly has an original cast of characters and some great actors in Frances MacDormand and Billy Bob Thornton, but I remained mostly indifferent while watching it.

But it’s a good film, of course. I’m note quite sure what’s my problem with it… Some of the other actors made me roll my eyes a bit (Gandolfini and the other barber), but… I don’t know?

How erudite!

I think this is the Coen brothers’ weakest period. Their earliest films are great, and more recent films of theirs are also great, but I just don’t like this period… which is probably their most commercially successful period? I bailed on O Brother Where Art Thou when I saw it at the time.

Oh, and the few CGI effects really suck. Destroys all suspension of disbelief.

This blog post is part of the Century series.