Monday, June 04, 2007

Dazed By Rihanna in Jindabyne

I've been MIA since Thursday- that's four days. What have I been doing in this time, you may ask? Well, I've went back home and then returned to university again (for the last time before the holidays begin), saw two movies in one day (a common practice of mine- and more on them in a sec) and read an entire book which I'd already read (this was for examination purposes, not for fun). Exams next week mean I still won't be around too much- I should be revising, though how much I'll actually do is unknown- but you can still expect a few things, including, of course, The Tuesday Tribute.

But this is a movie blog, not a diary, and so to the topic at hand. The dreadful Wedding Daze only had the divine Isla Fisher drawing me to it in the first place, but it proves yet another case of me being led blindly by my actressual leanings. There are some other good people in it- Joanna Gleason, Edward Herrmann, Joe Pantoliano; I'll even admit to liking Jason Biggs despite never seeing him in anything remotely respectable- but the whole thing is just a delirious mishmash, a revolting mixture of American Pie gross-out comedy (Biggs' parents are sexually experimental/deviant caricatures) and a plot that seems to have been adapted from Bringing Up Baby in some odd way (ie. they all end up in prison). This is not to compare to Baby, however- I love that film. Wedding Daze, however, is ludicrous- Biggs' girlfriend drops dead after he proposes to her dressed in nothing but red hotpants and a pair of wings, which I suppose is probably a good alternative to marrying someone who would even consider doing that- and full of caricatures, from the aforementioned parents to Fisher's colleagues/friends with a circus background to her conveniently gay ex-boyfriend. Fisher and Biggs do their best to play it with a straight-face, and along with Michael Weston as his best (and thankfully sceptical) friend Ted they do mine a few laughs here and there, but the entire thing is so predictable while being so ridiculous that I just wanted to scream. Not that my audience seemed to enjoy it much- except the woman a couple of rows ahead with a extremely nasally laugh which was probably funnier than most of the film. Grade: D+

Jindabyne, however, which I saw before Wedding Daze, was an entirely different kettle of fish, though that was really to be expected. Glenn's been championing this movie since the beginning of time, it seems, and so I went in with high expectations- expectations that were, thankfully, met, solidified and bronzed. Ray Lawrence (almost as maverick as Terrence Malick in his rareity of projects) puts the entire film on edge, David Williamson's photography and music by Paul Kelly and Dan Luscombe combining to add a sinister, dangerous feeling to virtually everything in the movie, not just the things you would expect. Jindabyne is not simply a story about the fallout of a group of men's actions upon discovering a body- it's a story of a community's struggles to deal with the intertwining issues that were already there, how they change when an event brushes them, and how the people caught up in them deal with one another. Powerful performances from a superb ensemble cast- Leah Purcell, Deborra Lee-Furness and outsider Laura Linney being the standouts as the partners of three of the four men who find the body- make Jindabyne's depiction of a precarious community seem blisteringly real, and Lawrence is smart enough to never overplay things- Linney's clear American accent is never remarked upon and yet is clearly an issue, while the murderer (whose identity is in no doubt throughout) silently appears at erroneous intervals to unnerving effect. I did feel that the film lost something at its end- a heartfelt song at the murdered girl's funeral is moving but the tone of reconciliation feels jarring- but overall, Jindabyne is a powerful, naturalistic and thoughtful piece of work. Grade: A-

In music news, V.I.P. Music reports that 'Don't Stop the Music' WILL be Rihanna's third single (but hang on- they decided on a third single and shot the video already?! They haven't even shown us the second one yet!)- thank GOD. This means that people who don't buy the album will hear it and fall under its spell. This means they'll play it in clubs. This means I can get my groove thang on to it. Maybe.

In more Rihanna news, Good Girl Gone Bad was released today (or tomorrow if you're American)- and the UK has the option of a two-disc edition with a bonus digipack CD of remixes. 'Don't Stop the Music''s remix is not a patch on the proper version, but it has a decidedly more upbeat sound to it and is a good, solid remix, while 'Umbrella''s remix (by Seamus Haji and Paul Emanual) jazzes up the track's memorable chorus to superb effect. The Wideboys Club Remix of 'Shut Up and Drive' is pretty poor with it's swiping electronic sounds, but 'Breakin' Dishes' works remarkably well as a club track- the ferocity feeds into the icy beats of the Soul Seekers Remix. 'Push Up On Me' lends itself well too, turned into a ferocious poppy dance tune, the Soul Seekers Remix of 'Good Girl Gone Bad' brings out its lyrical strength, 'Say It' is jazzed up with an effective Caribbean rhythm but the stodgy lyrics sit oddly with it, and 'Cry' (the UK bonus track which, while a ballad, is surprisingly good and deserved the obligatory ballad spot over 'Say It') is remixed by Steve Mac to solid effect. 'Haunted'- a track which we've yet to hear the original of (though it's definitely a ballad)- is also given the Steve Mac Klassic treatment, but it's rather boring. Finally, 'SOS' doesn't really work since it was almost a remix itself; but on the whole it's worth forking out the extra for the extra disc.


Joe Valdez said...

I've never seen Jason Biggs in anything and thought, wow, that was great! I'm sure he's a good person, and he did star in a Woody Allen movie. Not a bad career exactly.

Based on Laura Linney, Raymond Carver, the town of Jindabyne and your review, I'm definitely moving that one up on my must-see list.

Terrific blog, Dave. As an American moviegoer, it's a great contrast to hear about what's playing in theaters in the U.K., particularly the audience reaction. That makes your site unique. Keep these reviews coming!

Kamikaze Camel said...

OMG you just made my day. Twice. And it's 11:58PM here so just in the nick of time!

Man, So glad others are loving Jindabyne. It makes me feel like I wasn't just championing something behind some rose-tinted glasses.

Also, thank god "Don't Stop the Music" will be the third single. It is amazing isn't it? Can't wait to hear it at a club.

I always pictured the video of having Rihanna in some disco-inspired white suit gettup. Sorta like Madonna had on her last tour. I think it's the MJ sample.

Dave said...

joe- A Woody Allen movie from 2003- which probably means it wasn't very good. But I shouldn't judge. Thanks for the nice words, and advice especially- good to know what to focus on. I'll try to keep it up.

kamikaze- I'm glad to have helped. ;)

LOVE the video ideas- but she seems to have gone black and skimpy. Oh, and I noticed your post @ popjustice (I'm not a stalker, honest!), and I hope is a more reputable source.

Dave said...

I hate blogger.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Do you post at PJ? You should!