ThePageBoy

Writing, Reviewing and Criticism In The Internet Age

Tag: David Lynch

Awards Season – 2012

Right,

Firstly, let’s deal with that whole Mayan thing shall we? To quote Morpheus from the Matrix films ‘WE ARE STILL HERE’ and another apocalypse has been and gone without really throwing this little planet into non-existence. So suck it ancient civilization that hasn’t existed for hundreds and hundreds of years!

That said, there are a few traditions expected around this time of year aside from the omni-present threat of global catastrophe, such as eating so much your stomach resembles a beach ball and for internet critics like me, the end of year round up. So without further ado I present ThePageBoy’s end of year awards for 2012 – light, easily digestible reading suitable for gazing at whilst summoning the will to devour yet another mince pie. ThePageBoy will be back soon, new and improved, so may your Christmas be happy and your new year, however you celebrate it, apocalypse free.

The Minor Awards For Irritation in Cinema:

Franchise that has long overstayed it’s welcome:

The Winner – The Expendables 2

There comes a time when you reach the age that taking part in explosions and acts of daring do start to look a little ridiculous. When, even for the notoriously camp genre that is action movies, you start looking slightly undignified. Now, to most sane people that age would be your late 60’s but that doesn’t stop The Expendables 2 does it!? Neither does horrible acting and dialogue (written by Sylvester Stallone is the very definition of damning by faint praise) and a shameless pandering to the nostalgia dollar that makes everyone involved look cheap. Still will that stop them making a third one? No. Although for the sake of the rapidly diminishing dignity of all concerned I hope they see sense and just…stop.

Worst Re-boot

The Winner – Total Recall

A re-boot is a chance for a fresh new creative team to put their own stamp on product, exploring a new angle or building on the world created in the original. Sadly, when Len Wiseman is involved that doesn’t seem to be an option. An unmitigated flop, the film quickly sank without trace. For those of you who didn’t see it and are wondering what you missed, the answer is nothing. Go watch the original in all of its trashy cinematic charm and remember that Arne is now in danger of losing the credibility films like THAT won for him.

Biggest Career Switch

The Winner – Robert Pattinson

From Twilight. To Cosmopolis. He went from Twilight to working with David Lynch and making films about the dark side of capitalism. In the stroke of a single movie he managed to alienate the Twi-hards and prove that he was capable of turning in a decent performance going beyond his range of looking broody. Sadly, he followed it up with the uniformly awful Bel-Ami, so one can only hope that the next choice he makes is slightly better, though I am not holding out much hope – it might be that brooding whilst covered in glitter is the only think he can do.

Best Career Turn Around

The Winner – Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck is, without a shadow of a doubt, a terrible actor when left to his own devices. Fortunately he’s proven to be a really talented director and writer, even capable of turning in a decent performance when he’s in control of the material question. In the space of a few years he went from Daredevil to Argo. Now THAT is impressive. Gone Baby Gone, The Town and his latest film have put him in line for Oscar nominations .If this keeps up 2013 will be a very very good year for the former Mr Jennifer Lopez.

Most Interesting Ideas

The Cabin In The Woods

I’ve always been a fan of horror, but in recent years it has been nothing short of depressing. Thankfully Joss Whedon came along and managed to revitalize the horror genre with a dash of meta knowledge, a sense of humor and crucially, some fresh ideas. One of the best horror films in years and one of the best films of 2012 hands down.

Most Interesting Mess

The Winner – Holy Motors

Erm…Yeah…

Worst Adaptation

The Winner – What to Expect When Your Expecting

Based on the pregnancy guide of the same name! If this doesn’t tell you just how bad this film is, I’m not sure you read or understood the previous sentence.

Best Adaptation that not enough people saw:

The Winner – We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Based on the stunning novel of the same name I had always thought that this had the potential to be a great film. But I never thought that the job they would do would be this good. It took five years of delicate development and finance negotiations brought this film to the big screen and it was so so worth the wait. Directed by the bright new talent of Lynne Ramsey and starring the indomitable Tilda Swinton it is one of the finest British made films of the last few years, beautiful, well made and horrifying in equal measure. Go see it – and go read the book.

Best Film and Best Adaptation that Everyone saw

Here it is – the big one, the best film of 2012 and it just so happened to be an adaptation making this year a very good one indeed for ThePageBoy. So here it – THE AVENGERS! Both the best action movie and the best adaptation of the entire year the Avengers was an absolute joy to sit through from beginning to end. What was the most fun was watching Joss Whedon and the rest of the Marvel team mange to complete the mad-cap idea of putting comic style continuity into big blockbusters. It was amazing to watch a film with smart ideas, intelligence and a sense of humor pull of a slice of audacious movie making. Roll on the sequel! (And how often do I get to say that!?)

Well that’s the big awards out the way…What did you think of 2012’s cinema?

ThePageBoy

David Lynch and Sand Dunes, or, Odd but kind of wonderful

Right,

Where do I start with this? I mean usually I don’t have any problem with finding a way into writing a blog, there is usually something for me to work with. Some kind of starting point, some logical and coherent way into the piece that will allow me to introduce you to the film and book in way that makes sense. Usually I start by talking about the author of the book or the director of the film and some of their respective histories. Here’s the thing though – this time, both of these guys are, to put it mildly, ever so slightly odd. I don’t use the term lightly either by the way but when going through my previous reviews I realised I hadn’t ever really done anything that honestly compares to this slice of mythical/spiritual/sci-fi/space opera/romance strangeness. This is Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 novel ‘Dune’ and the weird adaptation from the mind of David Lynch that hit cinemas (to general bafflement) in 1984.

With that in mind then, let’s dive right into this weirdness starting with the film’s director and here some of you might start to struggle. Lynch has been called the American surrealist and his works, starting with the cult horror film Eraserhead, have progressively gotten stranger. He has a fondness for non-linear narratives and some weird, often horrific imagery to create films that feel like fever dreams rather than straightforward films. He’s what critics somewhat euphemistically label ‘challenging’ and whilst some have called ‘Dune’ his worst film, there was possibly nobody working in cinema at the time who would be a better fit to take charge of the film. Before going on to mention the book, an interesting side note; one of the film projects that Lynch turned down to do Dune? Return of the Jedi! RETURN! OF! THE! JEDI! Just let that fact sink in for a moment, one of the boldest surrealists in cinematic history could well have directed a Star Wars movie. Somewhere, there is a dimension were that occurs – I only wish it was this one.

He turned down ROTJ though and was allowed loose of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic ‘Dune.’ Now, for those of you who have never heard of this book it is a little difficult for me to properly articulate just what the book is. So, here’s the deal and as per usual I’ll try and avoid any spoilers but those who haven’t at least googled by know, may well have to brace themselves for a few spoilers. The book is set in a universe ruled by an Emperor and different regions of the known universe are controlled by powerful dynastic Houses. The most important substance in the entire galaxy is the spice melange, only found on the remote desert planet, Arrakis. The spice is so important, not only because it can extend your life span, but because the hallucinogenic properties of the spice allow inter stellar – granting ship navigators the ability to find their way along interstellar paths. As the natives on Arrakis grow restless, affecting the levels of spice production the Emperor gives control of the planet to the powerful House Atreides, much to the chagrin of their political rivals House Harkonnen. The son of the Duke, Paul Atreides, travels with his father and mother and after a double cross his father is killed and along with his mother they are forced to flee into the desert. Once there the pair becomes part of the Fremen, the natives of the planet and it turns out that Paul is their prophesied Messiah. Once he acquires control over the tribe he basically stages a coup and takes over the entire planet.

THE END!

I think it should be immediately obvious what the problem with the adaptation is – THIS FILM IS TERRIFYINGLY COMPLEX! Critics and audiences found the film dense, full of complex mythology and back story that the ruthless editing did not give time to breath. Herbert’s book is a colossal achievement, with a complexity only comparable to the world building and mythologizing of JRR Tolkien. Without the time and space to explain and introduce the audience to the world it becomes impenetrable.

As I said, an awful lot of this is down to the editing. Lynch shot a film that clocked in at a buttock numbing 3 hours. The studio wanted a standard two hour run time and so re-shot films to condense exposition, and added voice over narration at the start. If you want to know what this feels like have a look at my paragraph summarising what the book is about – whilst it may seem comprehensive I have missed out so much of the novels depth and mythos that makes Dune such a good read – there are entire sub-plots that I’ve missed out, crucial characters that I have had to skip, or this entire blog would be a recap of the plot.

It isn’t all bad though – even though Lynch refuses to talk about the film now – the film looks stunning. Lynch fills the screen with arresting visuals, though some of the gorier imagery may test those of a milder disposition and the effects haven’t aged all that well. The performances are mostly good too; particularly of note is the, as per usual, bonkers Brad Dourif as well as Jurgen Prochnow  Paul’s father. The star of the film though is Kyle MacLauchlan as Paul who convincingly portrays the journey from pampered posh by to spiritual leader of a revolution. The final facts about the film I don’t really feel require much context. The film’s soundtrack is provided by Toto. Yes, really. The film also features this. I’m not sure what else needs to be said in the film’s favor because if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t think this film is for you.

So, this is decidedly a mixed bag and there are major, major problems with this film. It’s crowded, complicated and far far too short and the critics savaged it deservedly. I can only imagine what it would have been like if Lynch had been allowed to explore the Dune universe rather than being so rushed. The book is packed with deep and complicated history and mythology that made the book one of the greatest of its genre ever written. Despite all this, I can’t hate this movie. It’s a poor battered object but if I’ve managed to pique your interest you’ll find a real curiosity, though as a standalone film I would probably only recommend it to the hard core sci-fi film fans or those who really want to know more about Lynch’s minor works. As an insight into Lynch and his style it’s a visual feat that is gorgeous to look at, but if you really want to explore the universe of Dune, stick with the book. I just wish studios wouldn’t keep doing this…

Thanks

ThePageBoy