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Showing posts from March, 2015

We can no longer live as rats. We know too much.

The Secret of NIMH (1982)
(SPOILERS) Don Bluth, Disney renegade, left the Mouse House in 1979 for noble reasons. He sought to restore animation to its former glories, bringing the respect due to an art form that had waned in the wake of his former employer’s cost cutting, increasingly careless approach. The first fruits of his defection were realised in The Secret of NIMH, an adaptation of Robert C O’Brien’s Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Bluth more than achieved his goal. He put animation back on a pedestal (and no doubt his competing presence gave Disney a much needed kick in the pants). Unfortunately, he came up short in another area that had traditionally been a Disney strong suit: story.

What hurts most about this is that he had such sterling source material. I read Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH before I saw the film. It was a novel that wonderfully exercised the imagination, carrying a strong undercurrent of hidden secrets and a mythic past (to that extent, the movie’s title ho…

Yeah, you got the picture, framer.

Cold in July (2014)
(SPOILER) Cold in July might not have the most watertight of plotting. It relies on some fairly hefty coincidences, and certain developments are murky of logic at best, or make no sense at all at worst. Yet this ‘80s set thriller barrels along with an absurdly energised awareness of its chosen genre, and its ability to upend assumptions of what exactly may be going on, or indeed, what the movie is about, is irresistible.

The eccentric plotting presumably comes straight from Joe R Lansdale’s novel of the same name. I’m only otherwise familiar with Lansdale via Don Coscarelli’s adaptation of his Bubba Ho-Tep novella. On the evidence of both, one can conclude he has an inimitably offbeat sense of humour. Although Cold in July features some fairly intense material (most notably a digression into snuff movies) and posits broad thematic elements (the relationship between fathers and sons), there is little room for tackling such subjects seriously. It’s too busy twisting an…

What a thing to get worked up about in this day and age.

The Rover (2014)
(SPOILERS) David Michod’s Outback thriller embraces a tentative future vision of pre-apocalyptic, post-economic collapse. It’s gauged not so far from the original Mad Max, and, by avoiding population centres, it avoids answering any detailed questions about how this former First, now Third, World country malingers on. It might have been better if the general thrust of Michod’s story had remained similarly unforthcoming. For the first 40 minutes or so, The Rover is stark, striking, and elusive. It remains a first rate piece of filmmaking right through to the climax, but the tale wilts into something a touch too tangible and familiar.

Michod, who wrote the screenplay and devised the story with pal Joel Edgerton, drops us in on Guy Pearce’s Eric, a beardy straggler in cargo shorts who has stopped in for water at a derelict dustbowl station come store when a trio of hoodlums (Scoot McNairy, David Field and Tawanda Manyimo) steel his wheels. Eric sets off in pursuit of his c…