This week's list of films I've watched...
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013): 6/10
Amour (2012): 7/10
Blowup (1966): 6/10
Miss Bala (2011): 6/10
American Movie (1999): 8/10
I'll start out with Star Trek: Into Darkness, which is top of the UK Box Office charts this week, and has received some extremely positive reviews from a variety of reputable sources. The film sees Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and Dr McCoy and the rest of the crew of the Starship Enterprise pick up where they left off after J.J. Abrams' reboot of the series in 2009. On this occasion, our intrepid heroes are up against threats both internal (an unscrupulous senior officer) and external (a superhuman foe with a grudge against mankind)... Now, despite all of the rave reviews for this picture, I never really found myself fully able to suspend my disbelief and go along for the ride. I suppose my complaints are threefold: firstly, the action screams along at a breakneck pace - there's barely time to draw a breath before you're thrust into the next set piece. Whilst this has the benefit of keeping you on the edge of your seat, after a while it just proves to be exhausting. Secondly, while I could appreciate that Abrams is keen to provide some nods and winks to the series' loyal fans, I think he may have gone a bit overboard with this - as somebody who isn't entirely au fait with the Star Trek universe, quite a few of these in jokes went way over my head. Thirdly, and I say this as fan of Simon Pegg, his Scottish accent really doesn't stand up to close scrutiny, to the point where I found it quite distracting. Similarly, Anton Yelchin (playing Mr Chekov) provided another source of earache with his high pitched cod-Russian whining. Notwithstanding all of that, there's still quite a bit to enjoy here. Despite my gripe about the relentless nature of the action scenes, I have to admit that the special effects for those sequences are absolutely top notch. Finally, it's definitely worth mentioning Benedict Cumberbatch's performance in this movie as the villain of the piece. He's absolutely top notch, head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, and serves as a continuation of a fine tradition of British dramatic actors playing the baddies in Hollywood movies.
Other than my trip to the cinema, it hasn't been a particularly memorable week, though it was salvaged by the film I saw today, American Movie. This documentary looks into the life of Mark Borchardt, a part time filmmaker, part time janitor and full time dreamer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As we enter his story, Borchardt is attempting to raise the funding for his great work, a feature length examination of the lives of the American working class in the Midwest - but it soon becomes apparent that this project is going to be too ambitious to ever see the light of day. Instead, Borchadt and his gentle, good natured best friend, a recovering alcoholic named Mike Shrank, decide to make a horror short as a way of financing his magnum opus. However, we get to appreciate that it's damn hard work trying to finance and make a movie on a shoestring budget. Borchardt spends a good portion of his time borrowing money from elderly relatives and arguing with utility companies about overdue bills, not to mention the hours he spends coaxing performances out of his troupe of (very) amateur actors, manually cutting and editing the reels of film and scouting locations. However, when his project finally hits the silver screen, it all seems worth it - as we, the viewer have spent time watching the various pieces slowly come together, it feels like a triumph when it all comes together. It's a mark of the impact that these characters made on me that after watching the movie, I immediately checked to see how Mark had fared after the documentary was made. I'm happy to report that he's done fairly well - though he's worked primarily as an actor since 2000, his first full length movie as a director seems to be in progress and is scheduled for a 2014 release.
Kirk's Quote of the Week
The Sting (1973)
Hey, where's June?
She quit. I'm filling in for a couple of days, 'til I can get a train outta here.
Yeah? Where you going?
I don't know. Depends on which train I get on."