July 1, 2011. Planes Trains and Automobiles… and Submarines! Movies reviewed: Submarine, Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D, The Trip

Posted in Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on July 2, 2011

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, and movies that taste good, and what the difference is.

This week I’m looking at a movie about a boy and his toys, whose best friend is a car/robot/god; another about a boy and his girlfriend who hang out on the wrong side of the tracks, and a third about a grown-up man talking with his best friend on a long car trip.

And I’m going to answer some invisible letters sent by hypothetical listeners.

Listener Dave from Scarborough asks: are their any good British movies anymore? There sure are, Dave.

Submarine

Dir: Richard Aoyade

It’s the 1980’s, and Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) lives with his hippie-ish parents in Swansea, Wales. His hobbies range from memorizing words from the dictionary, mimicking psychotic disorders, and monitoring his parents’ sex lives by checking the level of the dimmer switch in their bedroom.

He makes himself into an adult by smoking a pipe, wearing his dad’s bathrobe, listening to Serge Gainsbourg, and staring at the waves.

He’s alienated from his family, bullied at school, and has a crush on Jordana Bevis (Yasmin Paige), his cool and sophisticated classmate.

And he’s suspicious of the local psychic who moved in just down the hill. Is his mother leaving his depressed father and falling for that Ninja? Can he get Jordana to love him – and can he handle the real life problems all around him.

This is a great coming-of-age story, filmed against a backdrop of desolate railway lands, burning fires, and empty beaches. The acting is all-around great, and it’s almost a comedy, but not quite.

I liked it a lot, though the whole thing looked suspiciously like a movie version of the 1990’s British comic strip Modern Parents from VIZ magazine.

The Trip

Dir: Michael Winterbottom

Steve Coogan is a great TV and movie actor, but times are tough, so he’s taken a job talking about the great restaurants of Northern England. All he has to do is drive around with his beautiful girlfriend, stay at country inns, and eat in and comment on fancy restaurants. (I wouldn’t say no to a job like that…) But, when she decides to move back to the States instead, he has to call his best friend Rob Brydon, also a comic actor, instead.

So the movie is actually an extended conversation between the two of them, in the car, in the hotels and in the restaurants, where the story’s in the trip and the destinations are an afterthought. So you get to hear them do submarine noises, and see who can do the best impression of Michael Caine. Steve Coogan makes pithy remarks about fancy food like “It has the consistency… of snot” and the two of them engage in singalongs to Abba tunes, lengthy discussions about Coleridge,

It sounds boring but it is just really, really funny. It’s actually the continuation of another movie (by the same director) called Tristram Shandy: a Cock and Bull story, about the same two guys trying to act in a film based on the unfilmable novel.

Here’s a letter from Michael from Berlin asks: Is this movie for real?

Naah. It’s not real, it’s a reality movie. It’s a condensed movie. The restaurants and hotels are actual places, the lines seem to be partly improvised and partly scripted. And Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are their real names, but they play themselves as characters. The other actors play characters, like on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. And the actors said at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, that they shot all the restaurant scenes, from start to finish, more than once.

My wish is that, someday, all reality shows — and all road trips — will be this funny.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Directed by Michael Bay

Sam (Shia LaBoeuf) was a loudmouthed kid in a trailer who helped saved the world twice with his toy cars that transform themselves into giant alien robots. Now he has a medal from the President,a statuesque, model-girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whitely) but he still can’t find a job.

Meanwhile, little do they know, but the world is at risk once again. You see, the planet where the Transformers all came from blew up many years ago after a war there, but a space ship, carrying “pillars” – basically devices with their whole planet in condensed form — crashed into the moon. So the whole space race was a conspiracy – the Soviets and the Americans both just wanted to get to that alien craft on the dark side of the moon. Uh huh…

Can Sam and his friends convince the CIA, and the US military that we are endangered again and the evil robots are trying to take over the planet, starting in Chicago? The first part of the movie is about the people in the movie and their fights, wishes and dreams. But the second part, the real reason to see it, is a non-stop battle, where the people stop talking except to say “Aim for his eyes!”, and the main point is watching the special effects. And boy, what amazing 3D special effects! Giant robots and war machines, hovering metallic space ships, the crashing skyscrapers, and army special-ops who can fly around like Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

If you look too deep, the movie’s kind of gross. It’s a simultaneous 2.5 hour ass-kiss of the US military and its operations, and a Glenn Beck-style uncovering of government conspiracies. Of the two women in the movie, one’s a beeyatch Hillary Clinton, the other a helpless girlfriend who needs to be rescued. But you don’t need to look at it closely. Just watch the cool, metallic transformations in mid-air, the amazing chase scenes, the flying, the sliding, the crushing, and most of all, the blowing up. BOOM! I want to see it again.

Rosemary from Toronto asks: How can you tell the good guys from the bad guys?

Good question, Rosemary! The bad guys, the Decepticons, have red eyes, while the good guys, the Autobots, have blue ones. The bad guys are all evil liars, and either vainglorious megalomaniacs, or obsequious toadies. The Autobots only turn themselves into manly things like cars, while the evil Decepticons do disguise themselves as cars but also birds, gadgets, and accessories. They also talk like monsters, they drool, and they turn themselves into creatures with tentacles or moray eel mouths — sure signs of evil.

Finally, Jean-Denis from Riviere-du-loup asks if there are any Canadian movies playing.

Well, if you’re in Toronto, you can catch an Open Roof screening of Bruce Mcdonald’s Trigger, starring Tracy Wright next Thursday night, along with the band Billie Burke.

Go to openrooffilms.com .

Submarine is now playing, Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D just opened, and The Trip starts today: check your local listings. Also opening this weekend in Toronto is the enjoyable French comic love story Le nom des gens.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies for CIUT 89.5 FM, and on my web site, Cultural Mining . com.

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