Published September 18, 2009
It is a sad fact of life that outside the glorious ten days of the Reykjavík International Film Festival, almost everything being served in the cinemas here is standard Hollywood fare. So, being forced to choose between shit and dirt, let us rummage through the droppings in search of nutrition.
Drag Me to Hell is a horror film set in an investment bank. No, not actually a zombie film, we have to wait until the film festival’s wonderful Nazi flick Död Snö for that. DMTH starts out as homage to rampant capitalism. A pretty young girl turns an elderly woman out of her home in hope of promotion. This is the setting for a series of fight scenes between young and old, beautiful and ugly, rich and poor, where we are supposed to root for the former in every case. The movie redeems itself by a last minute twist. A barely passable horror flick, but it is interesting to see how the banking collapse is infiltrating popular culture.
Although lacking Nazi zombies, Inglorious Basterds has just about everything else. One might be forgiven for coming to a Tarantino film set in the Second World War with certain preconceived notions. And we do get a more up-to-date Dirty Dozen, with scalping and a figure called “The Bear Jew” who likes to execute POW’s with a baseball bat. This is the film that we expect, but it is just Tarantino toying with us. For as the movie moves on, one can’t be sure of anything anymore. Almost every WWII movie cliché is exploded. The Brits Plot to kill Hitler is reneged to sub-plot and summarily taken care of. The far-fetched plan of getting into the building using a ruse is met with laughter from the Nazis who are not taken in. And then there is the glorious alternate history ending. Everywhere, Tarantino’s love of cinema shines through in a Hollywood movie that is surprisingly non-Hollywood, and, dare we say it, at times European.
For those who like their Hollywood straight up, with lots of explosions and little plot, GI Joe should get the job done. When all else fails, they just muddle through. Less visually impressive than Transformers, one is left with the nagging feeling that Hollywood peaked with the original Star Wars trilogy and has been remaking it ever since.
The Time-Traveller’s Wife is, at least, an interesting idea. Using a sci-fi notion as the basis for a love story is promising, but its possibilities are left largely unexplored. The idea of competing with yourself at various ages is particularly intriguing for a writer. The heroine cheats on her hubby with a younger him, but this is as profound is it gets. Nevertheless, a superior chick-flick that it inevitably inferior to the book.
One could do worse on a Sunday afternoon than Ice Age 3. Adding dinosaurs to the mix, while offending to palaeontology, promises to be pleasing to the eye. One the whole, though, we wind up with something that is more a cartoon version of Jurassic Park 3 than anything else. If that is good or bad is up to your tastes, but original it is not.
Not all is gloom, however, as RWWM is the first in a slew of Icelandic films to be released before the end of the year. Until then.