Tag Archives: cinema

The Queen

I finally got to see the lauded Helen Mirren film, The Queen, tonight. To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed.

It tells the story of the week that Diana was killed and the over-the-top public reaction to it – and rather understated reaction of the Royal Family.

I’m not really sure what the purpose of the film was meant to be but I didn’t find it that interesting really. It wasn’t all bad: the aged Queen Mum was amusing, Prince Philip insensitive to the point of being objectionable, and the Blairs-at-home (Cherie cooking fish-fingers for tea) fun.

I think the main problem for me was that the film’s been made too soon. I don’t mean that in a mawkish way. I just found it a bit too much like watching an extended Rory Bremner sketch. In 10 or 20 years from now, it’ll be an historical event that I’ll be interested to look back on. At the moment, despite being 10 years old now, watching real news footage interleved with the drama just seemed to be trying too hard to evoke the emotions in the viewer. The inquest/investigations into the deaths of Diana and Dodi are hardly in the distant past, and Tony and Cherie haven’t really grown old enough yet that you don’t spend the entire film comparing whether or not the actors look like them.

I’m not sure that I learnt that much from it that I didn’t know already – afterall, I still remember where I was that week (drugged up with antibiotics off work from my summer job after a dog bit my hand), I remember the news footage at the time, and I’ve seen the news footage and speculation since.

So, not really worth the $12.99 I paid-to-view in my hotel room (more on that later). Still, it went well with my Chinese takeaway and made a fairly relaxing evening in.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

I’m not sure quite how Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman ended up in this strange film about a young Parisian orphan, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who was born beneath a fish stall with an incredibly enhanced sense of smell. Hoffman is reasonably good as the (dodgily accented – Italian?) perfumier who eventually buys the young man out of slavery to teach him how to formulate commercial perfumes. Rickman is better, although he doesn’t appear until about the third act of the 147-minute film.

The film’s about how Jean-Baptiste becomes obsessed with capturing and preserving scents, in particular, the scent of beautiful women. I did find it a bit odd that he was entranced only by the scent of visually beautiful women – I’m sure there are beautiful-looking women who smell bad and vice versa…

So, anyway, it’s not easy to capture a human being’s scent and, after some trial and error, he discovers a method that works. It involves killing the woman first but this doesn’t appear to put him off his quest.

About 13 murders later, he’s finally apprehended and (returning to the scene at the start of the film) is taken to be executed. And that’s where it starts to get silly.

Up until the execution scene, which is unnecessarily long, heavy-handed, and ridiculous, the film is enjoyable and probably deserving of the four stars awarded by EmpireOnline (although, the unnecessary and rather patronising narrator does bring it closer to three stars for me).

I think it’s worth seeing, although I did hear some other people expressing their disappointment in it on leaving the cinema. I thought it was an interesting approach to see the serial killer from the serial killer’s perspective. Although, while you can feel sympathy for his background, Jean-Baptiste seems to be completely without emotion or feeling for anything except smells and you never really know what he’s thinking. The film does tension well thoughout. It also manages to evoke smells with visuals, in particular when Jean-Baptiste first goes to a market as an adult and smells the foods and spices around him.


Today, we went to the cinema not once but twice! I don’t think I’ve ever been to a commercial cinema more than once in a day (unless I was working there).

We had UGC cards for about 2 years but stopped going because there were very few films on that we wanted to watch. We watched Insomnia at our local Picture House cinema a couple of years back and liked the place. Partly because it reminded us of The Dukes and Filmsoc where we used to work/volunteer.

So today we went to see Who Killed The Electric Car?, bought a year’s membership, then went back after lunch to watch Clerks 2.

First of all, a year’s membership is well worth it. It cost us £40 for a joint membership (ie living in the same house) and, aside from other membership perks (like discounted tickets and exclusive screenings), you get 3 free films (ie 6 tickets – worth £39). We used our first pair of free tickets to watch Clerks 2 and there’s at least one other film showing at the moment that I want to see. The downside of going during the day is that we have to pay for parking but that’s free in the evening.

Who Killed The Electric Car? is a fascinating documentary about the development, death, and on-going lobbying for the electric car in the U.S.. According to the film, the majority of the earliest cars were electric; preferred for their lack of noise and fumes. The combustion engine, cheap fuel, etc won the battle though and became the dominent technology. Now, though, global warming and U.S. wars with the Middle East (which produces two-thirds of oil used in the West) are encouraging people to re-consider alternatives like electric. Modern hybrids like the Toyota Prius have become incredibly popular with celebrities (including Robert Llewellyn who drove his to IBM Hursley in the Spring).

Well, the film sold it to me; I want an electric car…something like the EV1 would be nice. I figure that it’d be perfect for the majority of our car journeys (we fill up our 1.6 Vectra less than once every 2 weeks) and, on the odd occasion when we need to drive further than the battery will allow, we can hire a petrol car (at least, until public rechargers are more pervasive).

There are obviously issues, in this country if not in the States, about the rising costs and availability of electricity and, also,whether it’s actually that environmentally-friendly to be making the emissions come from coal (currently the major fuel for electricity) instead of oil (though that would be less of a problem with hydroelectric or wind power). My other questions would be practical ones like: how much electricity does it take to fully recharge the battery? and how long does it take to fully recharge?

So, anyway, a film worth seeing.

Clerks 2 is also worth watching, though more if you are a Kevin Smith fan. It has the glossy brightness of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back but nicely starts out in black and white, showing Dante going to work at the Quick Stop and discovering the place in coloured flames – a cool effect. It then switches to colour as he and Randall start working their McJobs in Mooby’s (as seen first in Dogma). I found it a bit slow in places but then the original Clerks isn’t exactly speedy – that’s not the point of it. I think it’s a good sequel but (by definition!) lacks the originality of…well…the original. 🙂

I think my favourite Smith film is probably Dogma, mainly because each time I watch it I get more of it. Clerks also stands up well to repeat viewings; I guess time will tell whether Clerks 2 will too, although I will watch it again when it’s out on DVD. Clerks has a special place in my heart because we visited the Quick Stop when we were in New Jersey 3 years ago.