Busy Busy Busy


London again — I am rather busy at present.

1) A video essay. A big one. Commissioned, so it can’t just be any old rubbish. This week it’s taking me to London.

2) Programme note for the closing film at the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema. Just finished it.

3) Essay for a Blu-ray of a British classic. Nearly done, but hoping to somehow snag an interview with a cast member I happen to know.

4) Submissions editor for Edinburgh International Film Festival, which involves looking at hundreds of films. Have been too busy to earn my fee on this one, so as soon as I get the above out the way I will have to somehow watch many, many films.

5) Still teaching at the Art College, as ever.

Meanwhile, NATAN, the film I co-directed with Paul Duane, has been nominated at the Irish Film & Television Awards in the Best Feature Documentary category. It is possible to be cynical about awards. But I find in impossible to be cynical about nominations, so Yippee!


6) Am trying to keep half an eye on future opportunities so I can line up more jobs. Not that I want to be THIS busy all the time, but it would be nice to have something else this year…


Last trip: THE WOLVERINE. Which certainly benefits from having people like Frank Mangold and Scott Frank involved. But there’s still, for me, a problem with superheroes on the big screen. I read comics, and never seemed to get bored with indestructible characters hitting each other if it’s a well-written Grant Morrison Superman or something. And cartoons are fun: Bugs Bunny isn’t even vulnerable to Kryptonite, but I love his adventures. But it seems that when you try to get ninety minutes or two hours out of that set-up, boredom sets in. I don’t actually know why all these films are so successful, because they ALL outstay any possible interest I can trump up. I found the one-liners amusing in AVENGERS, and the first X-MEN benefitted from having lots of 2-D characters with different superpowers, so it became a bit like a chess game. But they still got boring before the end.

THE WOLVERINE was the first one to have so much story at the start that the people almost felt real, which meant that the fight on the outside of a speeding bullet train became preposterous. Admittedly, I do have a bad habit of laughing hysterically as action sequences in a way the director may not have intended, as anyone in the audience with me at THE HOBBIT II would have noted with annoyance. Still, in Rila Fukushima (can that be her REAL NAME?) the film has one indisputably great face, and its best special effect.

During the climax, my London host remarked at least three times, “I don’t see what this big robot has to do with ANYTHING!” But, in fact, it did have a reason. The terrible thing is, all big robots have their reasons.

12 Responses to “Busy Busy Busy”

  1. I’ve seen all of the X-Men and related films as my wife is a great afficionado (and who am I to turn down trips to the movies these days when she gets a babysitter?) and I was struck by the degree of character development and non-CGI-dependent narrative in this one, even if, as I think you allude to, you can sense the brain-numbing, set-smashing climax coming all the while. Still, it gives a good deal of surprisingly low-key pleasure in the middle segments.

    As to everything else on your plate, breath is suitably bated.

  2. Congrats on the continued serious regard for Natan.

    High Jackman is better served in musical theater than wearing spiky hair and even spikier fingers. And your screen-grab recalls a song I hope one day he’ll do

  3. I largely share your problems with superhero movies, but I really enjoyed Iron Man 3 for Robert Downey Jr’s performance, which may have been helped by Shane Black’s work on the screenplay.

    Best wishes on all your assignments!

  4. IM3 was pretty good — anything with Rebecca Hall gets added points for sheer LIFE.

    Peter Cook invented the Pet Shop Boys with that song.

  5. A delightful afternoon’s work with one of Peter Cook’s co-stars. I must stop these dark hints and just keep mum until it’s time for The Big Reveal.

  6. The only (sort of recent) superhero film I like is THE INCREDIBLES, and even that mostly charming and funny film drags out the big fight at the end too damn long.

  7. Good call on THE INCREDIBLES, and agreed that the action finales in superhero films are almost always tedious.

  8. It’s back to Olivier Assayas’ argument that while American films have a lot of cool ideas, they nearly always finish with “a fight in a warehouse.”

    But yes, The Incredibles gains a lot by being animated, and by being done with massive skill and artistry. Superheroes do seem a better fit for animation than live action, as long as you can keep Filmation from getting involved.

  9. As for fights in warehouses, I’ve always liked the one in Buckaroo Banzai, just because there’s so much funny/odd stuff going on in the background.

  10. That one also has a walk thing at the end that’s truly great.

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