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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Exiles, Nightwatch, Party Down, Torchwood

Still doing the netflix things and avoiding the high prices at the movie theaters, though I did take in Harry Potter, which hopefully I'll have a full review of soon. And Departures is going to open at the Fairfax, thank god. I've been wanting to see that for ages.
I watched Exiles, written and directed by Tony Gatlif and starring the hot young French star Romain (full frontal) Duris known for such movies as The Beat That My Heart Skipped and L'auberge espagnole. He plays one half of a couple on the road to Algiers because Romain's grandfather used to live there but had to leave for political reasons (Hope and Crosby it ain't). The two make their way there on foot, possibly for political reasons, you know, to show that they are one with the lower classes (if you've seen Sullivan's Travels, you get the gist). Whether one likes the film will probably depend on whether one finds the young lovers cute, adorable and full of life. I found them somewhat annoying as well as disingenuous; no matter how sincere they acted, they just seemed like tourists who were playacting at mingling with the working class (see the aforementioned Sullivan's Travels, though in the Preston Sturgess comedy, that was the whole point). As a result, the most interesting part of the movie was not the two hot young French leads who's only real worry is their next film role, but everything around them. I'm being cruel. Everybody's heart is in the right place, it just didn't connect for me like The Motorcycle Diaries did.
I then saw Nightwatch, which was written and directed by Danish writer/director Ole Bornedal, apparently based on his earlier movie of the same name (though in Danish). It manages to get some scares going by the end and one wants to know how the whole thing turns out, but it really doesn't work. The main problem, at least for me, is that Ewan McGregor's character was simply not interesting (and Patricia Arquette didn't fair much better). Which was too bad because they were surrounded by characters that were, played by Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte and Brad Dourif. I talked to someone who met Brad Dourif . Dourif said that it originally was a good script, but that it didn't end up that way (I think the word "abortion" was used, but the original source is so distant, that might not be anywhere near the truth). Steven Soderbergh worked on the script, and it might be interesting to see if that's what went wrong or if that's why what worked in it worked. However, I am now interested in seeing the original. It looks like Bornedal went back to Denmark to make movies, so maybe it was a good thing the movie turned out so badly.
I am also engrossed in two TV series. The first is Party Down on Starz, about a group of Hollywood wannabees working as caterers. The central character Adam Scott is a once promising actor who is only now known for a line he made famous in a beer commercial, but whose career didn't even crash and burned, it just ran out of gas, and now he no longer wants to act. It also has Jane Lynch in it which is reason enough to see it. It's very funny and addicting even if the characters are so incompetent as caterers it's hard to believe they can get hired (even Maxwell Smart and Inspector Clouseau maintained their status quo because, as incompetent as they were, they always got the bad guy).
The other series is the five part Torchwood, Children of Earth, starring everyone's favorite universal traveler who will sleep with any species and any sex (take that Captain Kirk). To say I'm hooked is an understatement. The characters are so exciting and vivid and the story so suspenseful, I can't wait until tonight to see Part III.

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