More from the LONDON FILM FESTIVAL, where Dave had a rather dreadful day at the movies, but I've omitted tearing apart "a new Slumdog Millionaire?", Ride the Wave Johnny (which is, can you believe it, even worse than our newest Best Picture winner), and have instead finally decided to give you my (briefer than I wanted them to be) thoughts on Cannes winner The White Ribbon. But first...
Glorious 39 isn't. Glorious, that is. In fact, it's a remarkable disaster of a film, one of those that slowly goes further and further down the road of dreadful and eventually emerges at somewhere completely laughable, although I'm sure everyone involved saw the ridiculous developments as some masterstroke. Stephen Poliakoff has received critical laudings for his television work over the last decade, but there's no sign of any of that supposed quality here at all. A superb British cast, mixing promising youngsters (Romola Garai, Eddie Redmayne, and a delectably absurd Juno Temple) with seasoned performers (Julie Christie, Bill Nighy, Christopher Lee), is wasted on a story that is delivered in so hackneyed and laughable a manner that it never convinces. If you've missed ripe thriller cliches such as the message from 'beyond the grave' through a piece of film, the disembodied wails of a lost baby, or, most delightfully, our heroine becoming gothically unhinged, then maybe it is worth checking this out - it is entertaining, just in all the wrong ways. D-
Harmony Korine clearly loves his title of provocateur, for Trash Humpers is as repulsively erratic as you'd expect. However, while it slowly becomes more and more embroiled in the darkest of places with this group of elderly people - whose favoured pastime is, literally, humping trashcans - it's really less striking than it wants to be. A few moments of absurdity strike the funny bone, and a few strike the gag reflex, but mostly this is an unbearably boring piece of work, featuring actors wearing masks that make them look more like Freddy Krueger than OAPs and one with laughter so piercing I repeatedly had to stick my fingers in my ears. There's some vague point about how these people "choose to be free", all handily spelt out for us in one scene, but mostly it's an excuse for Korine to try and baffle and disturb. Instead, he merely bores. D
There's some edge taken off the clinical deconstruction usually so typical of Michael Haneke in The White Ribbon. Perhaps it's the black-and-white photography, so glowingly attractive that it's markedly different from the perverse, bare visual appeal of his other features. Perhaps it's the surprising presence of romance and acidic humour. Perhaps it's the mediation of a cypher in the uncommonly nice young schoolteacher, a inclusion that seems a bit too designed to make the audience like the film more than Haneke usually allows. Haneke's searing portrayal of the gradual undoing of a hypocritical bunch of people - in this case a small German township just before World War I - is as insidiously intriguing and deliberately constructed as ever, but ironically the attempt to make an audience more emotionally invested had the opposite effect of pushing this viewer away. The lack of conclusions, and the lack of importance in the offered solution is as effective in making the film linger as Haneke's work always is, but despite the strong ensemble work and Haneke's technical supremacy, something about the film's project feels disconnected. It doesn't quite fascinate and enthrall with the same punchy strength Haneke has made his trademark. B