24 June 2012

Movies: Of black woman and ponds

The consistent rain implies that summer has arrived in the UK. therefore plans for a Saturday night consisted of movies.

First up was The Woman in Black, starring Harry Potter/Daniel Radliffe in a movie from the rebooted Hammer films crew. It's a ghost/thriller set in extremely Victoria gothic surrounds, piling atmosphere almost beyond cliche. Having said that, it works reasonably well. The plot is vague - it's never really explained why HP/DR needs to go to the small village, aside from to tidy up papers from a widower who had died sometime before.
There's a lot of 'look at this, it'll be important soon', and the music isn't subtle in signposting what will happen very soon now.
But, it's watchable, delivers some reasonable horror and HP/DR is a good actor. I'm not quite sure he had the gravitas to pull off the role, but given the entire movie is him - I think it must have worked as I wasn't bored.

Keeping with the horror vibe, we went for what turned out to be a very odd British horror-comedy, Black Pond. It's very character driven, and relies on dialogue rather than atmosphere.
A stranger enters the Thompson's house forcing the family to engage with each other for the first time in years. Their dog dies, and so the children come home, increasing familial interactions, and conflict.
The main story is told in flashback interviews which is how we discover the family were accused of murdering the stranger. Their responses to this rely on the middle class English stereotypes, of not really talking about it, or missing all subtextural clues in general speech.
The movie does wander off occasionally into a delicate psychedlic trance, which feels slightly forced, but does work well to emphasise differences between external and internal dialogue. I'm guessing it was this whimsical approach which prompted the Guardian review to say "If Syd Barrett had ever written and directed a movie, it might well have looked like this". I don't comppletely agree with this, as Syd's brand of psych was more abstract than what Black Pond achieves. Kermode also enjoyed Black Pond on it's DVD release.

Simon Amstell pops up as a psychiatrist, effectively playing the Amstell of Buzzcocks and Grandma's place. I think it works, although it does seem weirdly OTT comic for the rest of the more situational comedy.
Over all, for a debut, and cheap debut, it's great. And defintiely worth watching. Here's the trailer.


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