Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #67


End Of The Week Shorts #67

Today's shorts: Central Intelligence (2016), The Life Aquatic (2004), Kramasha (2007), One Week (1920), Veer-Zaara (2004), Skyscraper (2018), Sam Kinison: Breaking The Rules (1987)

After seeing this for the first time, I didn't have any intention to ever see it again, but, as fortune has it, I re-watched this today. And long story short, I didn't need to see this again, and will be steering clear from it in the future.

Kevin Hart and The Rock play their same old roles in a highly contrived and rather unfunny story about undercover cops, unwilling civilians and friendship. The funniest thing about this film is, in fact, the blooper reel. Beyond this, I don't think I managed to laugh. On the first watch, I didn't mind that this was also trying to be a film about bullying. But, on this watch, I couldn't help but question who this message is for? Young teenagers? Adults? Kids? It's hard to say considering its manic tone, but I can't see this movie changing any lives. That said, what more can I say about this other than it is a very mediocre comedy, and a poor film more generally. Not worth the re-watch.

With Wes Anderson, I find there's only ever two questions worth asking, one of style and one of character. A third may be conjured concerning how the two meet, and I find that The Life Aquatic pleasantly answers both, if not all three, questions rather well. In such, Anderson's strict and formulaic style flows very well with his staccato, off-beat characterisation and dialogue. This doesn't produce as much comedy as The Grand Budapest Hotel, but the feel of story and adventure is particularly strong in The Life Aquatic (far stronger than in his recent effort, Isle of Dogs). What this then does so well is take a basic and much-seen narrative about adventure that leads away from family life, a father estrange from his children, yet seek reconciliation, flourish from dead-pan absurdity. What keeps this at just a very good film for me, however, is its ability to only take a basic Hollywood movie and present it with a unique form. Unfortunately, not much is added to the depth of narrative of character with this formalisation, but, at least this provides a good cinematic experience.

Kramasha, or To Be Continued, is an experimental film that feels very much so like an ethereal fairy tale. It is put to celluloid with a tone, to my senses, derivative Jean-Pierre Jeunet being most central. This is found in the complex sound-montage and the rhythm of cutting. These come together to produce an atmosphere with haste in its sails, yet time for levity. Furthermore, the quirky bounce given to the cinematic space by the edit is lifted with some strict camera movement (maybe more reminiscent of Wes Anderson than Jeunet). Alas, there is a texture given to the frames of this film that is highly Tarkovsky-esque - especially as nature and the elements are explored with close-ups and patience. There is then a counterpoint to the lighter aesthetic sensibilities, highlighted by the search for serious colour and hue - all of which are loomed over by the scratchy, radioed-in and angsty V.O. The end result is slightly bizarre fairy tale whose narrative I can say I gripped, but was nonetheless fascinated by.

Homing some of the greatest visual gags and stunts ever put to screen, One Week is a blast from almost 100 years ago that, like Keaton's best films, has you re-think the idea that cinema has been evolving - changing, sure - but, evolving for 100 years?

The premise is simple: a newlywed couple try to build a portable home but are sabotaged. Yet, as simple as this is, the imagination and skill put into bringing it to life and to the screen is dumbfounding. It is easy to critique the lack of character and story captured here, and I certainly would sustain that the likes of Chaplin had, for a few years now, become a far better storyteller than Keaton. But, whilst it is indubitable that Keaton had more imagination, I think there is something subtly touching about the comedic duo who wrestle with their new house in this short. And such makes minor allergy about the start of a new marriage one of the best Keaton shorts I've seen. Strongly recommended.

A sublime melodrama, Veer-Zaara picks up the Bollywood romance myth (which means that its structure is practically identical to so many other movies - just one example being Hum Aapke Hain Koun) and provides an explosive extravaganza about the quality of true love and the depths of real compassion. There are a few minor faults, such as a few select moments that are maybe a little too contrived and a sometimes abrupt approach to the sound design, but, in all honesty, I was entirely blinded to these by all that is incredible about this movie.

What Veer-Zaara does so well, beyond retell the Bollywood romance myth masterfully, is expand moments of high drama and excavate all the emotion and weight out of them through slow-motion and song. As this film constantly opens up its narrative and characters, it is then impossible to not fall in an be lost. I cannot recommend this more.

I have previously written about this film's structure and compared it to Die Hard, but I have not yet provided a specific review of this film, so here's a brief one:

This is not too bad. It is certainly not trying to do much beyond entertain, and this, I felt, it does quite well. What makes this work in my view its its world and the rules that constantly manifest alongside the plot. I then appreciate Skyscraper's inventiveness (despite it being not very original). That said, not much imagination goes into the direction or characterisation; everyone is rather anonymous and pretty flat - especially the bad guys, who have almost no real motive or depth. This is then run-of-the-mill blockbuster stuff that I found watchable enough. Alas, for all the positives I can say about this, I'm sure I won't be trying to watch it again.

Pretty terrible.

I like a few of Kinison's bits, primarily those that he performed on T.V where he seemed to have a control over his stage persona and was able to mediate between obnoxious rage and a meekness that was all too soon going to dissipate. This, however, lacks mediation, nuance, timing and real delivery. Kinison becomes a caricature of himself, screaming about how women are the devil in between short breaks in which he admits that he's the real problem. It's here that he reverses his older shtick. Before, the rage represented the truth and the quietness was the lie; here the rage is some stupid bullshit from a seemingly pathetic person with little moral fortitude whilst the truth comes in side notes. In the end, no need to watch this. A guy with a mic is a dick and he screams a lot. That's all.

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