An alarming warning bell should be sounding for Taika Waititi with the worldwide release of the big, dumb, clunker Blades of Glory. Blades co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck were nominated for an Academy Award in 1999 for best live-action short (the same category Taika scored in for Two Cars, One Night) and since then have registered only commercial and sitcom credits, until this … this … fiasco.
If Blades of Glory took any longer to write than it takes to watch then I’ll be jiggered. Tiresome Will Ferrell and out-of-his-depth Jon Heder are the World’s top male figure-skaters in 2002, fiercely competitive and equally juvenile. An altercation on the victory dais sees them stripped of their shared gold medals and banned from all competition. Redemption is written in the screenwriters’ handbook, however, and a loophole allows them to compete together in the pairs.
It occurs to me that film-makers rarely bother to write for Ferrell any more, they just stick a camera in front of him for hours on end and let him riff. At least that’s how it seems to this disappointed reviewer.
Back when I was at University all the girls who weren’t hanging out in Wimminspace were dreaming of being either Frida Kahlo or Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s taken me 20 years but I finally got to see it this weekend and can totally see the attraction: she’s skinny, alcoholic, unreliable and bonkers. Who wouldn’t see a role model there?
Based on the Truman Capote novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the blueprint for modern romantic comedy. The A-Team’s George Peppard is a failed novelist who moves in to the apartment above Ms Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), a popular society girl who supports herself by visiting a local mafia boss in prison and talking about the weather. Peppard is, of course, immediately smitten despite her clear desire to marry a very rich man to save her brother from the Army (or, worse, Idaho). A dodgy Japanese caricature by Mickey Rooney is the only bum note in an otherwise lovely, escapist, experience.
I thought the first Fantastic Four movie was a miscast, misbegotten attempt to squeeze some dollars out of the least likely Marvel franchise and the sequel has actually taken the package downhill, if that’s possible. Mr Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) is about to marry the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), despite the annoying distractions of unusual cosmic radiation, weird weather patterns and the US Army demanding he do something about it all. The cause of the carnage is one of Marvel’s most unusual characters, the Silver Surfer, and he’s preparing the ground for Galactus, eater of planets.
Fantastic Four is awful: the jokes are lame, the plot is risible, characters relate to each other on only the most inane level and the effects look cheap. Every frame of this film should be ashamed of itself.
Far more enticing, and better value for money, is Paris je t’aime, a collection of 20 short films on the subject of Paris and love. There’s some lovely work in there by actors like Juliette Binoche, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Bob Hoskins and top directors like Walter Salles, Gus Van Sant and Isabel Coixet. And the great thing about a film like this is that if you don’t like one, another will be along in a minute.
Printed, in possibly truncated or improved form, in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday, 27 June 2007.