Art of dark­ness

He’ll have a B please, Bob. Ac­tu­ally, no he won’t, as this year Don­ald Clarke’s hav­ing a block­buster-free year. And you thought all film crit­ics were snobs . . .

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

IS THE sea­son to com­plain about snooty film crit­ics ig­nor­ing main­stream re­leases in their end-of-year lists.

Such charts in this paper have, in pre­vi­ous years, in­cluded the odd dumb com­edy, the oc­ca­sional loud ac­tion­thriller and more than a few heart-warm­ing pop­ulist dra­mas. Trawl­ing through the re­leases from 2010, how­ever, it is hard to find any gen­uinely ex­cep­tional mar­quee crowd­pleasers. Have a glance at the fea­tures listed right. This writer’s favourite film finds an al­ready no­to­ri­ously gnomic Thai au­teur – Apichat­pong Weerasethakul – de­liv­er­ing a de­light­fully pe­cu­liar med­i­ta­tion on death, me­mory and sex with cat­fish.

What else? An­drey Khrzhanovskiy’s A Room and a Half, a comic med­i­ta­tion on the life of Rus­sian poet Josef Brod­sky, was so over­looked it barely even reg­is­tered with the high­brow crowd. The Il­lu­sion­ist, Syl­vain Chomet’s gor­geous fol­low-up to Belleville Ren­dez-vous, should have been a main­stream film, but au­di­ences are still weirdly re­sis­tant to an­i­ma­tions aimed at adults.

Yes, Bad Lieu­tenant starred Nicolas Cage and a big gun. How­ever, the film was di­rected by Werner Her­zog, and thus au­to­mat­i­cally gains art-house sta­tus. The only film in this writer’s list that counts as a prop­erly pop­ulist film is the fine sci­ence-fic­tion shocker Splice. Yet no­body went to see it. No­body! Screens show­ing that pic­ture gaped in empti­ness. (I said “pop­ulist” not “pop­u­lar”.) So is there a cri­sis in main­stream cin­ema? Well, it looks as if the most lu­cra­tive film of 2010 will – bar­ring a late rally by Mr Pot­ter or an un­ex­pected surge by Tron: Legacy – turn out to be Toy Story 3.

No com­plaints there. I was less keen on the an­i­ma­tion than most crit­ics, but cer­tainly ac­cept it is a smash­ing piece of work that con­firms Pixar as the saviours of the block­buster. Christo­pher Nolan’s In­cep­tion – again, to my mind, a fine film, but not a clas­sic – also looks likely to fin­ish in the top 10. Martin Scors­ese’s won­der­fully gothic Shut­ter Is­land made money as well. So all is not quite lost.

Nonethe­less, a glance at the cin­ema cal­en­dar for 2010 does sug­gest that some sort of un­happy tor­por has taken over Hollywood. More than ever be­fore we see the stu­dios play­ing safe with work­man­like fol­lowups to so-so movies and cow­ardly re­work­ings of fa­mil­iar sto­ries. Iron Man 2 was all right. The third Twi­light film served its au­di­ence. Robin Hood was ser­vice­able.

What’s go­ing on? Well, with apolo­gies to the great gods of ob­vi­ous­ness, the re­ces­sion seems to have sent the money men scur­ry­ing back to safe op­tions. Film-mak­ers will tell you that Hollywood no longer has any in­ter­est in fi­nanc­ing mid-bud­get movies, and is more cau­tious than ever be­fore about tak­ing risks with block­busters. There is, it seems, more than one rea­son to pray for re­cov­ery.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.