Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #86


End Of The Week Shorts #86

Today's shorts: Police Story (1985), Mac and Devin Go To High School (2012), BlacKkKclansman (2018), About A Boy (2002), Trevor Noah: Son Of Patricia (2018), Bleach (2018), Them! (1954)

The action film perfected.

A masterwork of stunts, fight choreography and physical comedy, Police Story is undoubtedly one of the greatest films ever made. The attention to detail, the yearning to make real the impossible, to physically do the inconceivable, all make this an entirely baffling storm of excellence - and let it not be overlooked that this has not one shred of pretence about it. Chan is in his absolute prime. The expressionist, melodramatic range he has is phenomenal - and his direction is pin-point brilliant. Films simply do not come much better than this. Quintessential yet almost incomparable to anything other than another great Jackie Can film. If you haven't seen it, you're in for a treat. A masterpiece.

After watching Meet The Blacks, I was somehow urged to explore more from Snoop Dogg and found myself with Mac & Devin Go To High School.

I was not high when I watched this, so I'm sure this review won't count for much. However, Mac & Devin Go To High School, in essence, sees a stoner comedy erupt out of High School Musical. And the product is as bad as it sounds. Too consciously does this try to be trippy and weird, to comment on the life of weed smokers. Without any aesthetic texture or personality, this self-reflexive nonsense just feels obnoxious and amateurish. And the sense of morality--how empty headed yet loud mouthed can a film be? Again, I wasn't high as this said I had to be, but this simply was not at all enjoyable.

From a purely narrative perspective, BlacKkKlansman is... ok. Our central protagonist is an interesting figure who, especially in the first half, takes us rather deep into his predicament. This is to say that we are made to ponder--sometimes really feel--what it means to try to make a difference, to be the first to step up against an established order. Beyond this, BlacKkKalnsman's virtues are limited. Its drama is rather contrived - considering the fact that this is supposed to be based on a true story, this is maybe overwhelmingly contrived. The comedy lacks intensity and so does the thriller elements, and so without tension, this lulls you into an inactive state of spectatorship, leaving the story just a succession of actions. Furthermore, the political conclusion and direct link to modern day America is jarring and, again, feels contrived. In total, this is watchable, but uncomfortably political--too direct to be thematically experienced and too contrived to be taken seriously.

Pretty brilliant. I have a soft spot for melodramatic 90s and 2000s British cinema. Like all solid British films, to me, About A Boy is too British - which might as well be a virtue in my books. This has always sat quite close to Bridget Jones' Diary in my mind - maybe for obvious reasons. And such leads to one of the key strengths of About A Boy; its brilliant adaptation of a novel's form, its integration of comedy and visuals as to create comedy, and its conflation of cringe-inducing and intimate material. As is common of so much British comedy, About A Boy captures a philosophy of emotion as a paradox, of shambles as a norm and of undying nonchalantness as homeostatic. From this emerges a touching story about not just being able to see and speak the truth, but act truthfully. I've seen it a thousand times--but not recently--and I'm grateful to have seen it again.

I thought all the funny bones evaporated from my body some time earlier this year, but how the first 20 minutes of this rattled me...

Escalating, ridiculous comedic stories--with act outs and voices--a formula perfected by Noah and pure medicine for me. The snake bit--I'm still in pain. I won't criticise what didn't get me out of respect for how funny the first third of this is. Selectively tremendous.

Bad... but not so bad.

Adapting anime into live action is foolhardy; Bleach provides a prime example why. Simply put, the melodrama does not resonate with the formal representation of 'reality'. This then lacks expressivity and overindulges realism. The script and camera, in essence, fail to lift the story above reality. With amateurish techniques and a shallow understanding of subtlety, this is formally repugnant. However, narratively and, at times, dramatically, this preserves its central theme of protection as to rather expressively explore binary self-sacrifices; unity emerging from two entities willing to lose themselves to reserve the other. The thematic image that this film draws up is then pretty profound and affecting; two sides of a coin live to die for one another - a seemingly incorruptible whole forms. For this, I have to say I enjoyed Bleach despite finding many of its images repulsive.

Not bad.

So much of Them! is transparently a product of its times; the nuclear anxiety, the production quality, the methods of exposition, the selection and representation of characters, etc. Alas, each of these elements of Them! is about as dated as they are, not endearing, but something approximating such a thing in a less sentimentalised manner. The physical effects aren't then laughable, instead, are well integrated into the narrative, used conservatively and the action around them limited. The stoic presentation of the army and military feels not like an obligation of production codes, but aids in the building of a story about humanity's imperative obligation to develop a greater sense of responsibility in a new nuclear age. More could be said about this, but, whilst Them! is slightly clunky, it remains a good look back to 50s sci-fi. Recommended.

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