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Werner Herzog Season – Heart Of Glass (1976)

glaSS1No, not Blondie we’re still with the Herzog, and the next movie on the list which prefigured Debbie Harry’s crooning by a good three years. Whilst we’re just over the crest of the halfway stage of the BFI box set there is still plenty to come, and we’re back in Germany (or specifically Bavaria) for this brooding 18th century tale of magi mesmerists and sacrilegious seers. The inspiration for Heart Of Glass comes from the legends of the Bavarian prophet Muhlhiasl, something of a 18th century Nostramadus figure which every imaginative boy of Herzog’s generation was fascinated with. In this distant, misty pastoral era a quiet village falls under a strange bewitchment when the local glassblower Muhlbeck expires, taking the secret of his crimson inflected ornaments to the grave, plunging the settlement into some strange, protoplasmic psychic shock. Like any Herzog protagonist we’ve come to know and admire Hias (Joseg Bierbitcher, last seen in Haneke’s The White Ribbon) enjoys powers marking him as a curious outsider, a man attuned to mystical and spiritual matters, his predestinative vision predicting that the hamlet will be lost in a cleansing fire. His narration plays to the audience rather than the bewildered and frightened villagers, marking him as our avatar for the journey through these superstitious times, so it seems strange that he is almost completely abandoned as the film lurches through its diffused findings. The setting coincides with the romantic ruinations of Keats and Shelley, of Coleridge and Byron, their work in dynamic & diametric reaction to the industrial revolution, forged within a celebration of the elemental and mysterious forces lurking in bird, beast and stone, of the swirling maelstrom and fathomless beauty of life tossed about like a minnow in a cyclone. Its heady mix which Herzog fails to marshal or manipulate, in perhaps the first true failure of his career.

glass2The film is notorious for Herzog exercising one of the stranger directorial decisions in the canon, of having the entire cast perform whilst under the influence of hypnosis. Like me you’re probably wondering why he didn’t simply instruct his performers to adopt a trancelike, somnambulist persona during the pertinent sequences, but as we know the man doesn’t cut corners in his art, and the result is quite an affecting affliction with scenes twisted in odd tonal entanglements, with figures and characters locked in a veneer of inscrutable illegibility. The entire film is draped with a half-conscious, dream like quality, but the form needs to marry the content, as impressions emerge of an amorphous blob which is bereft of purpose or purchase. I’m far from being any art historian but you can’t help but notice the trappings of Rembrandt and Vermeer in the interiors and staging, a naturalistic approach to finding the light and shading on set, flooding the saturated interiors with the fleeting ephemera of 18t century life. Herzog confirms these instincts in the commentary and confirms his patience in sometimes waiting hours for the right axis of light in the sky, rather than artificially simulate effects with lense gels and filters, or post-production colour timing or negative baths. He’s also a bit harsh on storyboarding which he describes as a ‘disease of filmmaking’, the preplanning of fools obliterating the instinctive nature of crafting images and stories, but let’s not get distracted down that particular rabbit hole…..yet.

glass378This is only the second time (or the third if you count the commentary track) I’ve seen Heart Of Glass and I must confess to finding it somewhat impenetrable. Yes, the atmosphere is rich and sumptuous but there is no drama here, no real sense of direction or flow, and the elemental mysteries the films provokes such as the source, purpose and resolution of the villages ailment is almost wilfully eschewed. If you read it as some romantic movement attuned mood piece then I think you’re in a good area, as it doesn’t remotely dwell on dramatic events or build tangible characters as much as it scurries about for some intangible tendrils, a plot infected with portentous preaching. The first half hour merges some stunning landscapes, sounds and a curious sense of ethereal wonder, but then it just gets lost in the woods, the fairy tale breadcrumbs devoured by Herzog’s diffused sense of drama and meaning. We’ve barely scratched the surface of Herzog’s famous phrase of his to describe his work, his eternal yearning for the ecstatic truth in his cinema, and while his cinema can realise some profound truths when the story, image and sound come together it can also lurch into the dark recess of pretention which I fear is the case here.

glass4I’m all for a sense of mystery, for an ambulant alchemy in my movies but Heart Of Glass is just to diffused and  distracted for my taste, or at least my muddled mindset when I revisited this last week. But all is not completely lost as the final scene just about salvages the entire ship, with a odd bookmark which suggest that the entire architecture of the film was erected for this coda. To the strains of the eerie Popul Vuh soundscape the film moves from the interior to an exterior, as if the preceding 70 minutes were mounting a futile expedition to map the contours of consciousness within the brain, before arriving at the metaphoric nodal point of Skellig Rock. This is an inhospitable spot where over the centuries the Vikings threw through their foes to a watery sacrifice, and where a monkish community established itself remote from the trappings of material society. As the tale ruminates on a holy seer who slowly over years of dutiful penitence attracts a small coterie of followers, finally embarking on a forlorn sailboat journey to conquer the horizon, to find purpose in the face of a silent and implacable diety. This is either a nihilist conclusion, brimming with desolation for some, for others it is a celebration of our constant striving for meaning, a resilience in the shadow of oblivion – make your own mind up here;

Steve Jobs (2015) Trailer

That’s quite a team behind the product – Oscar winners© Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin on direction and script, and a high energy cast including Winslet, Stuhlburg, Daniels and Seth Rogan as the Woz. Purely coincidentally I am 2/3 through the official biography on the man which I picked up for the princely sum of 49p from a Colchester charity shop, and a well written, warts n’ all piece it is too. I can’t help think that Fassbender seems bizarrely miscast though, he’s a great actor n’all but he just doesn’t seem to fit the person portrayed in the book. I guess we shall see in October;

A Different Breed….

I’ve been thinking about time today, maybe its the extra second or the weekends fantastic Roeg documentary, in any case a fine couple of articles that are doing the rounds. It’s difficult to appreciate that the Hollywood of a century ago was immensely more ambitious, ornate, chinzy and gaudy than it has ever been, and here is a fine anecdote from Swanson herself on the silent pictures rather flagrant approach to Health & Safety regulations;

A century later and here is what American cinema offers us, inspired and influenced by foreign glyphs, alternative media and a dwindling attention rate, the spectacle remains the same, the detail somewhat….different;

Knock Knock (2015) & Slow West (2015)

knockGuilt can be a powerful tool. There I was, forlornly idling through recent activity on the menagerie, cursing my lack of recent opportunities to manage all things movie. Then, like a flash of lightning inspiration struck – why not pull an old fashioned double-bill weekend, featuring films unknown and unseen? Well, through the luck of the draw a quick search of the local cinema schedule yielded two potential targets, a duplex of movies whose outline premise and cast were known to me, yet whose overall dimensions remained still vague enough for me not to have even caught a trailer or an outline inking of their relative merits or mistakes. So, as is my idiom on possibly the sunniest day of the year I wearily meandered over to the Cineworld to spend the day hiding from the sun, embarking on a devilish roll of the dice with the next four hours hurled down as the ante on the poker table of life. Now I know what you’re thinking – alert the authorities, he’s out of control, and surely like Icarus such reckless behaviour is bound to cause him to crash down to earth in a humbling, pride-defying heap. Well fret not gentle reader I have this all under control, even if I still haven’t quite found the impetus to visit either of London’s two newest and prestigious cinemas. I do have a programmed agenda for July which should set us back on track with previously viewed and guaranteed material, and part of the reasoning for this exercise was to set myself a speed-writing goal as we get into training for a potential international festival which is looming on the horizon. But for now let’s see what this recent folly has excavated, and as a preview of coming events I wouldn’t call either interrogation a particularly unfruitful activity.

The first to obtain access was Knock Knock, the Eli Roth directed horror thriller starring Keanu Reeves as LA valley dwelling architect Evan Webber. Never knowingly missing the chance to bludgeon a scene into his audiences cranium the first twenty minutes of this film clearly establish that Evan LOVES HIS WIFE and adores HIS TWO CHILDREN, as a one scene requirement to erect backstory is ham-fistedly drawn out to twenty minutes of EXPLAINING JUST HOW MUCH A NICE GUY KEANU IS AND HOW MUCH HE LOVES HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN. After the family retire to the beach for the weekend Evan has to stay home and finish an urgent project, his doorbell ringing at a midnight hour during a particularly ominous rainstorm. Standing there bedraggled yet bewitching are Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas), two shall we say feisty young women whom take a liking to Keanu, the seductive sirens swiftly overcoming his futile sexual defences of faithfulness and fidelity. The next morning his mournful regret turns more hellish as Evan realizes that both seductresses are not entirely mentally stable, and he soon finds himself on a rocky road to blackmail, vengeance and a marriage threatening maelstrom of violence, torture and tendentious trysts.

knock2Home invasion movies always pivot on an outside force entering and disrupting the domestic equilibrium, usually due to some small moral failure on behalf of our hapless and doomed protagonist, it’s a formula that Roth gleefully flays as he formulates this exploitation picture that would not be adverse to squalidly limp squealing out from to the scuzzy picture houses of 1970’s Times Square or Soho. In fact Roth is on record as saying the film is a loose remake of 1977’s Death Game, it’s certainly got that old fashioned moral quandary of a fundamentally decent chap paying heavily for one moment of weakness or social transgression, and even Roth’s rather clumsy direction can’t blight what elementally remains a gruesomely fascinating premise – hell hath no fury like a woman, or indeed women scorned. You’ve got to hand this one to Keanu though, I can’t imagine many actors accepting a rather risky project which doesn’t project him in a particularly effervescent light, with even a suggestion that the two temptresses could be underage throwing a very uncomfortable pallor of paedophilic potential – how many ‘A’ listers are gonna get even remotely close to that? The uncomfortable aura is replicated in a few scenes where you can almost hear Roth cackling with unbridled glee, but he doesn’t quite have the satiric skill that say a terse provocateur like Verhoeven or Von Trier would invest in the actual chain of cause and effect, with opportunities squandered to really turn the thumb screws while ignoring some plot contrivences like barely concealed cadavers.. All that said I rather enjoyed this, especially for the moments of horrific hilarity, the women’s lunatic cruelty and Keanu’s tortured yells, even assimilating the moments of unintended hilarity from his rather robotic performance – Keanu is many things, a most excellent dude whom is usually entertaining to spend some time with, but a great actor he is not.

slowwestSecond on the sojourn was Slow West, a film which when I utter the phrase ‘a Sundance festival western’ may get all sorts of genre synapses ricocheting around your sun-poached cerebellum. Quirky, off-beat characters and segregated scene momentum? Quality, studious character actors known for their attraction to offbeat material? Attention demanding compositions and landscape photography aligned with a folktronic and frenetic score? All these things and more reside in the purlieus of writer director John Maclean (of Beta Band fame no less) debut movie, and never has a film screamed ‘this is my debut so I’m going to throw in everything I possibly can’ since Raimi and Campbell haunted the Michigan woods in 1979. Following a trademark Western journey narrative our slightly hapless hero Jay Cavendish (the raccoon eyed Kodi Smit McPhee) is self-exiled from his Scotland home, travelling to the badlands of Missouri to seek his beloved Rose (Caren Pistorius) after her and her father fled the thistle drenched homestead due to some serious, unspecified infraction which is slowly revealed as the narrative ambles along. Through chance and fate Jay is befriended by the roguish Silas (Fassbender who also served as producer so he obviously was charmed by the material), a scoundrel who is also seeking Rose for more financially secretive measures, with the $2000 bounty on her head causing his old criminal fraternity led by the perennially filthy Ben Mendelsohn to nip at both their avaricious heels.

I mostly admired Slow West incredulous strain for artistic authenticity, the film veers from pretentious to primitive but there is certainly a valid voice trying to be heard over the clattering horseshoes and starling pistol fire.   It’s the kind of film where the two leads stumble across three African dudes deep in the Minnesota’s veldt, crooning some tribal songs to each other, a incongruous mix of setting and scenario which is unremarked upon as Silas and jay continue on their horse opera odyssey. The closest comparison I can draw upon is Jim Jarmusch’s wonderfully melancholy Dead Man although Slow West simply isn’t in the same symbolic stratosphere, with just a dash of the dark humour of the Coens at their most playful the film manages to charm you over with its snake oil scaled elixir of oblique observations and bone crunching violence. Some of the photography of the teeming prairies is breath-taking and actually feels fresh for this long suffering 120 year vintage movie genre, but this is slightly undermined by a hacksaw editing pattern which has all the discipline of a sun-addled squaw, seemingly unable to hold a shot or moment for longer than a few seconds which prompts a lack of confidence in the material. The principals are as good as you’d expect and there are a few genuine laughs along the way, although life is a cheap commodity in these unyielding geographies, a sobering fact that Maclean brings to the foreground with a body count worthy of Stallone or Ahnoldt at their most blood thirsty. The title suggests the generic conventions decelerated to a tick-tock, slowing of time and movement reminiscent of the great 19th century Muybridge wager, a primer on cinema itself as a bastion of truth buried among the flickering hallucination of multiple overlapping images. Slow West is a promising enough debut of a potential new talent, at a brisk pace of 83 minutes it knows not to outstay its welcome, an ode to better things to come for Silas and his hopeful path to redemption.

A Partial Cure For The Summertime Blues….

Christ, its all kicking off today isn’t it? Well to combat the malaise as I have no review this week here is some filler which is intended to provoke a grin of stirring appreciation. It’s far too Americentric for its own good but still reasonably effective with a good mix of classics;

I love the score from 06:51, always a favourite. So it’s been rather quiet lately here at Menagerie towers but I have a fairly intense month booked at the BFI for July, kicking off with a very odd horror cult curio which I’ve been trying to see again for years, and a couple of special events concerning one of the UK’s most fragmented film pioneers – remember this is on Sunday. Before then I suppose I might manufacture a review of the new Terminator film which by all accounts is as terrible as the trailer suggests, and there was me thinking that this summer couldn’t evolve a worse picture than Jurassic World

James Horner RIP (1953 – 2015)

Staying in the world of music for a rather more solemn reason, I was quite shocked to open up the browser window at lunchtime and hear of the sad death of James Horner, one of the highest profile movie composers of the last thirty years. As well as carving out a list of collaborations with James Cameron (famously furiously throwing together the Aliens score in a ridiculous 48 hours after arriving in Pinewood) he also worked with the likes of Ron Howard and Jean-Jacques Annaud multiple times, as well as scoring cult favorites Field Of DreamsBattle Beyond The Stars, Krull and Brainstorm. His breakthrough score was probably this;

I’m not a soundtrack specialist who can analyse tempo and arrangement, symphony and melody, but I do know a soundtrack I like when I like it, and I personally always raised an eyebrow of appreciation when his name cropped up in the credits. 61 is alarmingly young, and I guess going while piloting your own plane beats slowly expiring of a protracted cancer battle in a sterile ward or something. Normally I’m going with the Malick, the ending of which always makes me wistfully aware of our tragically brief sojourn in this dimension, but that wouldn’ be appropriate as apparently Terry butchered score and threw in Wagner and Mozart to orchestrate certain scenes instead. No, I think we’ll have to go with the obvious, from one of the great action movie music mechanics;

THX 1138 (1971) – Asian Dub Foundation Screening & Walter Murch In Conversation, London Barbican

barbThere’s nothing like reaping the bounty of one’s hard labour now is there? Over the years I’ve cultivated a passing acquaintance with a few delegates in the indigenous film industry, I’m on name terms with a few colleagues in the team that run the LFF every year, and I’ve picked up a few smaller PR and marketing contacts along the way. One of these was responsible for inviting me to the Kier Duella and Gary Lockwood interview last year, so I returned the favour by devoting some coverage to the London Human Rights Film Festival earlier this year, as a way to say thanks and, well, I was interested and enjoyed watching the documentaries anyway – a win win as we like to say in Local Government. These reciprocal arrangements can work wonders as I was delighted to receive a press invite to a Barbican hosted event this week, more specifically an Asian Dub Foundation rescoring and live soundtrack performance of George Lucas THX 1138 – more details here and, indeed here. Having seen the film at the BFI last year I was less interested in revisiting the movie than I was to see Walter Murch in conversation prior to the concert/screening hybrid, he is of course one of the great technicians of our age he is never less than fascinating on the subject and craft of cinema, and is one of the art-forms leading exponents of editing technique and sound design. His contributions to a small trio of masterpieces – The Conversation, some Vietnam war movie and some gangster flick have assured his footnote in cinema history, and he is never less than fascinating and (to coin one of his terms) certainly not fungible in the flesh;

These unusual aural assimilations come along on the world cinema network ever so often, I can recall a Philip Glass rescoring of the 1931 Dracula, (speaking of Glass guess who’s off to the Opera again next year?) and techno sorcerer Jeff Mills replicating of Lang’s Metropolis from recent memory, I can’t say I’d heard of these guys entering the fray before, and it was quite a sensory overload experience. Here’s a little taster;

The press blurb is here, it was certainly quite apt seeing the film in the brutalist enclave of the Barbican building, I felt positively violated as I left the arena. As expected Walter was a fascinating , opining on his three fundamental rules for editing 1) Emotion – does the edit, the cut provoke an emotional response pertinent to the scene and character? 2) Story – does the edit move the story forward, does it drive the narrative flow? and 3) Rhythm, how does the edit work in concert with the entire film, with the pace and tempo of the film? Unlike some he has fully embraced digital methods in both editing and filming despite being raised on the analog systems, and he shared some of the post production techniques he used for THX1138. The man is a genius in the industry, so it was a pleasure to hear her speak;

I hear from my colleagues that Murch is in London for the summer and will shortly be available for interviews – interesting hmm? As I have said before I generally resist these activities as they risk turning a hobby into something more time-consuming and serious, but I think as with the 2001 event I’ll make an exception in this case, given the opportunity to query him on one of the all time great movie openings, on the ratcheting up of the sound and industrial clanking in the infamous Sollozzo sequence, or more seriously how guilty does he feel for unleashing this nightmare fuel on a generation of youngsters in his only non-fiction directing credit;

Sicario (2015) Trailer

Hot off a storming Cannes reaction, Denis ‘Yes I am confident enough to take on a Blade Runner sequel’ Villeneuve exercises his action muscles with what some have called Michael Mann’s best film he hasn’t yet made;

This is one of the half-dozen must sees from Cannes 2015 that I am feverishly scanning release dates for, and hoping for autumn LFF premieres. I’ve been grimly fascinated with the last decade of the hideous Mexican drug war, and this looks like an appropriate movie primer…….

Jurassic World (2015)

JW1I grew up with an appetite for Empire. Back in those crazy, hazy times before the web your choice for movie news, reviews, gossip and ephemera was delivered by a tactile delivery system, a so-called ‘magazine’ that one would purchase as a physical object in a local newsagent or bazaar. I stopped regularly reading the periodical many years back as I became a little disillusioned with their corporate sympathies, I mean anyone awarding four star reviews to the Star Wars prequels or the Transformers pictures isn’t exactly speaking neutrally or in chime with my sympathies. Still, I always admired their balance of the populist with well produced articles on cinema history, genre and technique, sometimes they even talk about movies made before 1970 (gasp), and as a starter for any primitive cinephile it’s a good primer before you can move on to the rarefied heights of Film Quarterly, Sight & Sound or Film Comment. I am going somewhere with this preamble, honest, but I will also strongly recommend the Empire podcast which is very entertaining for banter and debate, and they get some good guests on as well*. So I picked up a recent copy as part of my lengthy current commute, and the major coverage that month was naturally the imminent blockbuster stalking Jurassic Park IV. The in-depth set report revealed two things which simultaneously raised and lower my mediocre expectations, following those less than electrifying trailers. The in-depth set report revealed two things which simultaneously raised and lower my mediocre expectations, following those less than electrifying trailers. Director Colin Trevorrow (hot off the indie hit Safety Not Guaranteed) singled out two arcs of the script that brought him on board, having gone through a lengthy evolution of a dozen years of reassessment and restructures. Firstly, Spielberg had the notion that the next film would have to begin in a fully functioning, licensed, populated and legally secure facility – a ravenous prospect given the potential for full gimlet-eyed mayhem and scaly catastrophe – a body count befitting the 21st century. The second reveal was a stubborn plot strand from a mid 1990’s John Sayles script, where some of the ancient beasts had been subdued, domesticated and bent to our foolish will, programmed to battle drug running operations and exploited as a military asset. Something about this premise warned immediate alarm klaxons, with the pitfall of schmaltzy opportunities for human and his beasts working in partnership and unison, a story arc that struck me as less Gojira than Godzuki. (mild spoilers follow for plot and content)….

jw8It pains me to say then that despite early indications that Jurassic World was an ‘OK’ fun, dumb popcorn movie – exactly what I was anticipating and wanted to see – my mild antipathy is erring toward the early pangs of hatred, having slept on a woefully underwhelming screening last night. In principle I’m fine with a ‘B’ movie portfolio of character tropes and types: earthy, roguish leading man (Chris Pratt), Corporate orientated female executive who perhaps could lighten up a little (Bryce Dalls Howard), token ethnic leading man’s best mate (Omar Sy), Burke 2.0 from Aliens (Vincent D’Onforio), two instances of geeky comic relief in park mission control (Lauren Lapkus and Jake Johnson), big-picture Indian entrepreneur (Irrfan Khan) and mysteriously motivated Asian scientist B.D. Wong, the only remnant of the 1993 original. Broadly sketched with whisper thin characterisation the adults chomping fate is inexorably linked to the two younger leads, awkward teenager Nick Robinson (great in The Kings Of Summer, woefully out of his depth here) and his younger brother Ty Simpkins (crying kid from Iron Man 4), bizarrely sent to stay with their aunt Dallas-Howard so that Mummy and Daddy can stay at home and enjoy a divorce. As a cold, corporate type her schedule means she has no capacity to spend time with them, or to pursue an early romantic dalliance with Chris Pratt, although she does have to consult with his ethological expertise due to an imminent unveiling of a high-profile new attraction – the Indominus Rex, a mad confection of cosmopolitan DNA strands to manufacture the ultimate, terrifying uber-predator. With a slowly roasting feast of overweight, slow-moving, dim-witted delicious tourists basting in the Costa Rican sun what could possibly go wrong?

balljwInevitably everything can and indeed does go wrong, in terms of ham-fisted carnage and nervous direction, of weightless threats and thematic repression. For a film yearning to be so expansive and wonder driven the imprint is cluttered and small, with yawning helicopter shots failing to find any visual purchase on an item or register an inkling of ocular interest, this vast island seemingly swarming with menace which is traversed in roughly ten minutes of screen time. The fumbling for some sort of dramatic purchase is incompetent at best, the kids arc has the divorce subtext awkwardly braided in a futile grasp for pathos or empathy, although they aren’t specifically annoying there are somehow just always there. With all the chemical manipulation darting around this picture you’d think they could have aligned Chris Pratt and Dallas Howard’s charging chromosomes but no, let’s just say that Bogart and Bacall this ain’t, with a wince inducing banter at play in the foliage of this amniotic amusement park. Across the portfolio of identikit characters dialogue is expository and embarrassing in regular bursts, and a lacklustre first act even fails a simple narrative litmus test – How does this park operate and breathe? What are the dimensions? Where is the pressure and tension? Why should we care about anyone? As a B movie these oversights would be tolerable, even preferable to any underserved density should the film deliver the blockbuster blitzkrieg, but even as the inevitable reptilian revolution begins the scale remains timid and turgid, with sequences that emit an exasperated sigh rather than a satisfying scream.

bryceMaybe the comparison is unfair but Spielberg’s first splice has evolved into something of a classic, for its epoch it was an amazing blockbuster elevation and global phenomenon, a landslide in effects and mustering movie magic that brought grown men to tears. It seems suicidal foolish then to populate your movie with numerous call-backs which only ape the films inferiority, I’m not simply referring to in-world jokes or references but direct shots and sequences, the comparison checklist which betrays the screenwriters lack of creativity and subjectivity. Attack scene on youngsters in crudely defended vehicle? Check. Gracious and imposing herbivore slowly suffering in noble resplendence? Check. Corporate malevolence illustrating man’s ruthless instincts in the jungles of commerce and alpha level prestige? Check. Final act dino wrestle At a protean level the film retains no sense of menace or peril, partially due to the passable CGI which clutters rather than shudders on-screen and personally I just couldn’t accept Bryce Dallas Howard’s character on any level, with a performance that has all the gumption and charm of a eukaryote amoeba. You all know me, you know I’m the sick minded sort who cheered the Stormtroopers and boos the Ewoks, but even the most grotesque and protracted kill sequence struck me as simply sadistic, occurring to a thoroughly inconsequential character it meant nothing when it should have been reserved for the truly capricious, deserving members of our arrogant species that appear in the movie.

jw3Ultimately the Jurassic Park franchise is an exercise in introspective dreaming of our forebears, on our ancestors on a gargantuan scale, and you can’t underestimate the chiming cultural consensus – across the globe we all find these beasts intrinsically fascinating and that’s why the picture has secured the biggest opening weekend ever with a staggering $511 million global haul. Maybe its Mad M4x refreshing victory of a feminist credo resonating in our ears but in comparison Jurassic Worlds sexual politics are palaeolithic, it was really distasteful to see a focused career woman essentially punished for her ambition, naturally the implication is she’s frigid and fragmented who can only become herself by being forced through circumstance to abandon her career for a nurturing supportive role. Equilibrium is restored with her slow acceptance of her nieces and of course a romance with the leading man, and the film even has a scene where her sister says ‘you’ll understand when you eventually have kids’ because a) all women are incomplete without children and b) you are a less than functioning neurotic with inappropriate goals unless you accept a romantic liaison and confirm to ideology.

jw4Maybe this movie could have just about mustered through if they’d given Pratt one single, solitary decent line or heroic moment, and it’s only a severely underused Lauren Lapkus (I love her on Comedy Bang Bang) who gets one amusing moment that cattle prodded the dormant audience into a reaction. At a push there is one I-Rex monster aligned ‘ooh’ moment with its cool sounding special powers, a function which is immediately dropped and never revisited for the remainder of the tour – that’s just bad direction and writing on a creative, functioning blockbusting level however you slice it. I’ve also only just registered that the I-Rex is probably some clever musing on the corporatisation of the iphone or ipad. How fucking clever (Sighs). Just to align one final level of bile in the finale there are a couple of moments that instructed me to hang my head in shame, muttering ‘you have got to be fucking kidding’, I’ll not allude any further other than to say Dinosaur + Anthropomorphism = stupid, insulting, unforgivable results. Still, all is not completely lost, putting this together did yield this treasure which has put a smirk on my face for the rest of the day, but to close with a rather obvious parallel Jaws is to Jurassic Park what Jurassic World is to Jaws 4, a fathomless plunge into the muddy waters of mediocrity which begs for a mosasaurus mauling;

*One of the funniest moments movie wise for me last year was Nick de Semlyen’s podcast transmitted answer to a readers question ‘What film did you last walk out of?’ His answer for Transformers: Dark Of The Moon I paraphrase here- ‘I left the screening in disgust, grabbing my coat while muttering inaudible threats to execute everyone involved in this insulting, incomprehensible detonation of pixels and misogyny. It was only ten minutes later, storming down the street I suddenly remembered that I’d been watching a screener at home……

Gertrude, Queen Of The Desert (2015) Trailer

Tying in nicely with my Herzog season is the dude’s new film, it’s amusing to trawl through his earlier ‘funnier’ work in tandem with the star studded material he can currently command. This was slaughtered by the press at the Berlin festival screenings, you can make your own inquisitive mind up here;

Well, that looks pretty average at best, without a hint of the Herzog aura, but one hopes that the marketing scum have diluted any political or obsessive charm that Werner brought to the table – she sure sounds like a fascinating person. I’m sure it will make camp at the LFF in October……

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