Saturday, August 3, 2013

Is it August already?

As you guys could tell, my enthusiasm didn't last long.

I watched Wheatley's Down Terrace and fell in love with the movies all over again (I'll get to Down Terrace at the end of this post). Then, I watched The Last Exorcism Part II and gouged my eyes out with a dull pencil. Ed Gass-Donnelly, you got a screenplay credit for this one so I can't even pretend that you were saddled with a bad script. You knew exactly what you were doing when you let me down. To be fair, I didn't make it all the way to the end. Maybe there was something worth watching by the end, but I doubt it. At least Last Exorcism had me simultaneously loving and hating it the whole way through, provoking a response up until those glorious last few minutes made up my mind for me. Part II only had me bored and rolling my eyes. Blech.

I half-watched The Muppet Movie with my youngest kids while the others were out somewhere. It never gets old for me, even the running Hare Krishna joke still makes me chuckle.

And I tried re-watching The Avengers because I really wanted to see Mark Ruffalo say that he's always angry. I couldn't get into it. I fell asleep after about 45 minutes and never finished it. I watched this instead:

And this beautiful montage:
and this:
and this:
and about a dozen more.

Mostly, I wished The Avengers was as good as Dr. Who. I'm a few episodes into Reboot Series 2 now and still loving it. These are all re-watches for me. The last time I watched them was not long after they were first aired. I think that we first started watching after we moved down here in 2006.

Here's how I'd rank Series 1:

1) "Dalek"
2) "Father's Day"
3) "The End of the World"
4) "The Empty Child" & "The Doctor Dances"
5) "Aliens of London" & "World War Three"
6) "Bad Wolf" & "The Parting of the Ways"
7) "The Unquiet Dead"
8) "Rose"
9) "The Long Game"
10) "Boom Town"

I'd be willing to talk or write about any of these, but no one else has watched them except for Jason. Maybe this will get a post out of him.

Other than Who, I've watched a little bit of Breaking Bad to warm up for the approaching final season and I've watched a couple of other TV things, Fawlty Towers and My Little Pony. I'm still a Cleese fan and I'm still a Brony.

Finally, Down Terrace. It's one of the best films I've seen all year.

I'm really glad that Jeff (and Mike) have both recently watched and enjoyed Kill List. That movie stayed with me long after I finished it. I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm a huge Wheatley fan. Maybe I'll watch A Field in England this afternoon.

Down Terrace is a remarkable family gangster film. Brandon and I have argued about how much certain films like Goodfellas still glorify gangster life despite their anti-gangster final messages. I'm convinced that those movies make gangsters look cool. Down Terrace does not make gangsters look cool.

Down Terrace is, I think, closer to the homespun reality of "gangsterism." There is family loyalty and there is family dysfunction. There is the closeness of camaraderie and the paranoia of doing something illegal in a situation in which anyone could betray you at any time to better their own life. I love the sense of intimacy that Wheatley creates. I love the humour. And I love his brand of constructed realism.

Wheatley's pacing is always right-on. I'm a bit nervous to see Hill's name absent as editor on Field in England, but I think that Jump having worked with/under Wheatley/Hill for Kill List and Sightseers is a good sign. I think that Wheatley's (maybe intuitive) editing chops come from two sources, his obvious love of music and his background in comedy. Timing is everything in both music and comedy.

The music in Down Terrace is central to everything. Wheatley uses traditional folk music as a rooting device. The music grounds the characters in history. They are not only enmeshed in local and family drama. They are actors on the stage of England, bit parts in the UK's grand narrative. They are folk heroes and tragic lovers and workingmen and yearning spirits. Alongside the way that music frames and undergirds the story is the way in which the passage of time is highlighted by title cards displaying the day of the week. One day is as the next and each day is guarded jealously. Murder is a fair and bright alternative to "doing time."

Let no man steal your thyme. And, of course, that's a pun.

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