The ABC Motel in Gunnison, Colorado. Venue for Night Two of this odyssey. Who could resist?
For a few years I’ve been harbouring ideas for a number of exciting projects. These are the sort of pie-in-the-sky ideas that weren’t possible during the dark days of 2009 and 2010 when work was thin on the ground and money was thinner, but they kept me going and I was hopeful that one day I might be able to put one or two of them into action.
This past week may have been the most consistently satisfying week of cinema-going since I started this journey with you back in 2006: seven very different films, all with something to offer. And no turkeys this week, so I’ll have to put the acid away until next week.
In completely arbitrary order (of viewing in fact), let’s take a look at them. In The Invention of Lying British comic Ricky Gervais directs his first big screen film (working without the creative support of usual partner Stephen Merchant) and it turns out to be a little bit more ambitious than most Hollywood rom-coms. In a world where no one has any conception of “untruth”, where the entire population makes each other miserable by saying exactly how they feel all the time and where there is no storytelling or fiction to give people an escape, Gervais’ character discovers he has the ability to say things that aren’t true and is treated as a Messiah-figure as a result. Everything he says, no matter how outlandish, is believed but he still can’t win the love of the beautiful Jennifer Garner.
Gervais is solidly funny throughout, and demonstrates even more of the depth as an actor that he hinted at in Ghost Town last year, but the direction is uneven – perhaps because both Gervais and co-writer-director Matthew Robinson are first-timers.
Full disclosure: I wrote a play about Michael Jackson once (“Dirty Doris”, BATS 1995) so I’ll confess to always being interested in the real character behind the tabloid and music video façade so the arrival of This is It (what some have described as a cheap cash-in flick) is of more than passing interest to me.
And of all the possible adjectives available to describe the film “cheap” would seem to be the least appropriate. This behind-the-scenes documentary, made up of footage intended for “Making of” extras on an eventual DVD plus handicam footage for Jackson’s own personal archive, shows a dedicated bunch of seriously talented people preparing a huge stage show for an audience of demanding fans. However, no one involved is more demanding than the star of the show MJ himself.
In the film we see Jackson and his crack team rehearsing the massive series of 50 London shows that were supposedly to mark his retirement from live performance. Pushing 50, with a body battered from years of illness and touring, suffering from anxiety-induced insomnia, Jackson knew that audiences only wanted the moonwalking King of Pop persona, an act that he wouldn’t be able to maintain much longer. So, he wanted to go out with a bang, with something memorable, and he was evidently very serious about putting on a truly amazing show.
So, here I am sitting in the deserted café of the Antarctic Centre at Christchurch Airport, waiting to pick up Marty R for the start of his birthday trip.
We’ve hired a sporty silver Mercedes so we can drive him back to his gaff in Dunedin and then hoon around Otago pretending to be rock stars. I have my sunglasses at the ready and, fingers crossed, the rain will hold off long enough to have some photos taken with the top down.
So far, I haven’t had a chance to exercise the key properties of the SLK Kompressor as all the driving so far has been in gentle Christchurch traffic but we’ll soon be on the road.
I’ll be tweeting throughout the trip, and posting longer thoughts here.
I got back a couple of hours ago from a family holiday, three generations of Slevins having a very relaxed time of things in sunny Hawkes Bay. I managed to go almost cold turkey on the the Internet apart from one breof period where I updated the Academy Cinemas web site for the new week. By Saturday however I found myself trying to read the tiny type on the Nokia 6120 web browser. It’s instructive that the two sites I chose to look at were Public Address and Daring Fireball. Perhaps I should purge everything else from my RSS feeds and spend more time in the sun in 2009?
Anyway, apologies for not having the Summer Film Review posted yet – it went to print in the Capital Times last Wednesday – nor have I updated the capsule reviews to the right. This is obviously sub-optimal performance and will be remedied over the next few days.
According to TreeHugger, wine in 3 litre cardboard casks is significantly more environmentally friendly than the equivalent volume in glass. I was pleased to read this as, in my final year of drinking, when I was giving it a bit of a nudge, pretty much all my consumption was from those cheap casks of Country Medium you get at the front of the New World in Newtown. So, I’m glad to confirm that, even then, I was doing my bit for the planet.
Yesterday, Friday, marked two years sober, two years which have easily been the most productive of my life. To celebrate (and while we are on the subject of the environment) here’s John Clarke and Bryan Dawe discussing an environmental catastrophe: “The Front Fell Off”.