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Home > Film

Great Big Empty Screen of Nothing and Noise

By Robin Ince

3 September 2003

Christ, what's happened? Normally I can't wait to get into the cinema and savour the big screen temptations that tell me that driving a Renault Megane is a symbol of my rebellious independence, that alcoholic melon juice makes me sexy and adventurous, before being conned into going to see some film by the one minute editing brilliance of a trailer that promises a rapid run through a gamut of emotions and a big explosion, and then tutting as someone dares to mutter to their friend as the first of 20 logos goes on the screen to announce the feature presentation.

Not anymore, I have become sluggish as I approach the cinema chains. Even the promise of glimpsing Imelda Staunton or Julie Walter's nipple hasn’t made me quicken my pace because I have blockbuster bronchitis, a thick lining of mucus that seeps into the brain after seeing too many Hollywood Summer films. Were this year's any worse than 2002’s? Or is it just that the mathematical formula of the blockbuster has become so transparent that their wretched plots and cgi-isms have finally numbed me into submission.

Matrix Reloaded - I have only met two people who have not felt that they have had 138 minutes of their life and between five and ten pounds of their money (depending on time of screening and area of cinema) stolen from them by the Wachowski brothers. What a hopeless, useless waste of utterly everything.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - I am not going to bang on about this one again, suffice to say, it is a Pirelli calendar hanging on a mechanic's wall next to a radio pumping out hits of the nineties with a battery operated dancing golliwog toy wobbling beneath it.

Right, own up, who's idea was it to get Ang Lee directing Hulk? Rarely have I seen so many people depart a cinema blearily blinking into the artificial strip lights of a shopping arcade all muttering 'what the hell happened there?' If I want films about parental abuses I will turn to Magnolia or Happiness, not the bloody Hulk. The monster poodle battle was the one highlight of this, the most tedious comic book adaptation ever. Laws must be passed that only Sam Raimi is allowed to put comic book heroes on the screen. And yes, the CGI technology was all well and good, but the Hulk still looked ridiculous, it was like one of those Gene Kelly movies where Tom and Jerry suddenly pop into the live action.

Christ, I actually saw Daddy Day Care. I was surprised that the cinemas didn't hand out coat hangers so people could gouge out their own eyes for offending their brains by relaying the images of Eddie Murphy sucking the corporate candy stripe lolly cock that has put him back in the position of a top movie star. Of all the summer films that have been created using a selection of demographic data and a to b plotting this one was the worst. I shouldn’t complain, as the stink of cheap sherbert attacked my nose, it was clear that this was made for the kiddie market, but surely that doesn't mean it has to be so manipulatively vile. I was only their because I accompanied my friend Carolyn who has children, but for some reason there were actually adults there who had no children with them whatsoever. Why the hell would you go to Daddy Day Care unless you had been blackmailed by your children? I presume they were simple.

Terminator 3 was lively and steel crunching, though Linda Hamilton's biceps were replaced by a cynical whiff of pure profit. Rather than moving the story on, as in the excellent Terminator 2, it just seemed to be a brainstorming session of 'how can we do all the things we did before again... hey, we can have another supercyborg but maybe she'll be a cool chick and she can have a special thing to make her breasts expand coool etc. etc. etc.... oh and we could make the drink’s cup in the shape of Arnie's head...'

I haven't seen Pirates of the Caribbean yet, and, as I am not Mathew Wright, I shall reserve judgement until I have, though the initial mumblings are that it is the best of the blockbusters by a mixture of Johnny Depp and default.

Of the other summer Hollywood movies, Anger Management promised to be a blackly comic take on modern attitudes, but ended up being an inoffensive romp with a few good sketches and some awkward cameo appearance padding, whilst Identity was an entertaining psycho thriller with the most thrilling opening ten minutes of any movie this year.

This summer has been a piteous one for big budget entertainment, with highly anticipated movies continually failing the public. I recently argued that it might be about time that we had some form of quota system so that non-Hollywood cinema had a greater chance of getting a proper release, but was shot down by the idiot BBC producer I was arguing with when he said , "But who the hell wants to see a British movie?" Equally, though many people wanted to see Hulk or Matrix Reloaded, who the hell actually left the cinema feeling they had been entertained?

The Hollywood blockbuster seems to be increasingly without any real soul - we go 'good golly that's impressive' when we see the incredible effects that are achievable, but are we actually excited? The viewer feels as manipulated as an old fashioned TV show audience, the moments of supposed tension or sadness are so cack-handedly dealt with there might as well be a man in the corner of the screen holding up cards saying 'laugh', 'boo' , 'cry'.

Mind you, if you do want to see some movies that have found an audience and actually have got some point to them, then go and see Steven Shainberg’s emotionally complex, witty and dark film Secretary, the kind of film you might actually want to talk about after leaving the cinema as opposed to just shrugging and going 'S'alright 'spose'.

The film of the summer though was undoubtedly Takeshi Kitano’s Dolls, which had some sniffy reviews from the critics but is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen and made the Oriental girl I was sitting next to in the cinema burst into tears at the denouement.

If that doesn't really sound like anything that would interest you, then the good news is Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back together for the cash cow Bad Boys 2, a film that is currently being described as 'awesome' and 'outstanding' many times by the people on IMDb.

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