Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #73


End Of The Week Shorts #73

Today's shorts: Singin' In The Rain (1952), Small Soldiers (1998), Bert Kreischer: Secret Time (2018), In Cold Blood (1967), Sheikh Jackson (2017), The Breakfast Club (1985), Dead Poets Society (1989)

I have seen this countless times now, yet I still won't pass up an opportunity to sit through it if it is on.

Singin' In The Rain is not perfect; much could be critiqued when it comes to the transparency of the writing, the purpose of some of the musical numbers, the depth of character and the general structure of the story. Alas, I suppose what this retains, and what makes this a classic, is an unending ability to charm. Singin' In The Rain finds the perfect niche of melodrama and sentimental absurdity for its story and characters to exist. Building its cinematic space from this point, all Singin' In The Rain can do is exude an infectious kind of fun. So, as kitschy and camp as this was and certainly still is, this is just good fun. If you haven't yet seen this, don't hesitate.

I remember watching this film a lot when I was a kid, feeling like it was a horror-infused version of Toy Story sat some place in between the Pixar classic and Gremlins. Watching this today brought back such a strange feeling; this still feels lost between Toy Story and Gremlins - albeit, sightly cheaper.

Whilst I can't say that Small Soldiers is at all good, I was impressed by the direction and how well the mix between CGI and puppets still works. Granted, many shots are ridiculous, but these are the ones that use wires with scooters flying across ponds and so on; the CG is often solid. It is the performances and the writing that bring this down so much. Little needs to be said about the cast, but the writers seem so confused. They seem to either be commenting or just playing around with a clash between war, military, government, childhood and more. The result is just messy and so I struggled to pay attention. In the end though Small Soldiers is flashy for its age, but its foundations in the script and performances have crumbled.


Story-based comedy is most probably my favourite kind. Kreischer has some brilliant stories. Here, he puts a few together with some emphasis on ridiculous secrets. Alas, the best parts of this are the straight stories; the absolute best concerning Kreischer getting his father angry. Not every joke lands the same and so this is a little up and down. It also has to be said that Kreischer's personal insight and wit are not his strongest suit. Rather, the best cards he plays are those that see him become a surrogate for real-world absurdity. All in all, however, this was a good hour. Recommended.

I'm growing ever more sceptical of novel adaptations.

In Cold Blood is a mediocre film made rather bad by the fact that almost everything that works within in has a quality inherent to it that has you believe that things work better in the book. I have never read Capote's novel, and so I can confirm nothing, but this retains that very awkward novel dialogue which is expressionistic and unsubtle, which means to paint the pages with life but appears horribly melodramatic and amateurish on-screen. This dialogue defines the rather rigid, theatrical performances, made for a stage, not a cinema screen. The direction is often good, the cinematography is often excellent, but the editing is obnoxious (not a fan of the constant cuts on sound and the simple Eisenstein montage). For all this then tries to say about sanity and nihilism, there are these faults. These left me unsympathetic to the commentary - which I'd rather try to explore in the original book. Not very worthwhile.

A new personal favourite. A masterpiece.

What does it mean to live? To forget you will one day die? To act out truth? To balance past and present? Masculine and feminine? You and the other, the shadow, the fool?

To feel these questions shiver through my bones reminded me why I love cinema so much. To see a great film, to live.

Pretty much the perfect melodrama, The Breakfast Club is a revelation of cinema's dexterity, its ability to contrive and pull in, to manifest a world above a reality that we can momentarily exist in, may step up into and understand, look down and see truth through the haze.

Whilst the plot is clearly contrived and the themes rather in your face, the performances and writing are impeccably measured and balanced. Each and every character is impossibly distinguished and individual, the drama jumps where it can at the whims of their emotions, caught within the conceptual conflict between archetypes of high school social trophes. What emerges is almost musical perfection and a masterwork of character; Hughes' masterpiece. Seen it a thousand times, yet it still impresses.

As lauded and respected as Dead Poets Society is, I have to say I don't care too much for this anymore. Whilst enchanted on the first watch many years ago, this felt rather stilted today. I respect and agree with its exploration of the teacher's ideal role as window into an exploration of ones individuality - which must be protected as a fundamental truth of ones being. The means through which this is expressed, however, just feels pretentious. The technical reason for this concerns the perspective of the camera and writer. Both look upon all within the narrative with awe. The intention here is to have the audience do so also. But there is a side-effect: both the script and camera seem to marvel at their own creations. This is where the sense of pretence is founded, and it infects the melodrama all too readily. For a film that wants to explore the emergence of individuality in young boys, pretence is inevitable, and so the general tone of this narrative feels, to me, to be ultimately well-intentioned despite unintentionally irksome. All in all, a slight struggle.

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