Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday Cinema: "Lars and the Real Girl" and "Funny Games"

We decided to spend Saturday at the cinema. Not one cinema, but two actually. We had a list of five films between us that we wanted to see so thought we'd see two of them. The decision on which we would see was based upon the timings at our favoured cinemas. I also added the suggestion that we shouldn't see more than one film that was likely to be bleak.

So our plan was set with an afternoon showing of "Lars and the Real Girl" at a small independent cinema, followed by an early evening screening "Funny Games" in the more bearable of the localish multiscreen cinemas.

"Lars and the Real Girl" was funny and sweet, prehaps a little silly, but ultimately heartwarming. In case you don't know it is about a man who falls in love with a sex doll! But not in a sexual way at all. He is delusional, brought on by grief and fear of losing people he loves. I shed a couple of tears, not uncontrollable weeping, but a subtle few as things of a heartwarming nature tend to have this effect on me. The cinema was comfortable, the patrons well-behaved which always helps.

Then onto the next cinema. It seems to be a growing trend amongst the chain cinemas to not bother with the box office much and now you have to buy your tickets at the food concession. I don't know why this bothers me (its not as if their box office staff were knowledgeable film fanatics) but it somehow feels wrong to buy your ticket from the popcorn stall. But the selling of popcorn and nachos seems to be a bigger priority on the actual films in many of these places. We were in the minority in our screening in not having a giant bucket of something to eat and the first couple who left during the film, were holding an empty popcorn bucket as if they'd only stayed until the food ran out.

But they weren't the only people to walk out and I only stayed out of stubborness. I must have apologised the OH twenty times afterwards for even suggesting this film. It was dreadful. It has catapulted itself into my Top 3 of Worst Films Ever Made. The following will contain spoilers, but hopefully you'll heed my warning and not watch it, so the spoilers shouldn't matter. The basic plot of the film is about an affluent family arriving at their holiday home, then two young men claiming to be friends of the neighbours call round and end up torturing them.

You don't actually see any of the violence on screen though because, of course, that is not the point. This is a clever film. It is not a violent film, it is a film about violence in films. The intruders talk to the camera, a remote control is used to rewind action and change the outcome of events and they discuss real and unreal universes in a manner rarely seen outside of first year philosophy classes and Richard Linklater films. My reason for hating the films was not that I didn't understand this (I'm not so sure about many of my fellow cinema-goes, who may not have been able to hear much over the sound of their own popcorn munching). But it wasn't hard to grasp as it wasn't done in a subtle way.

Playing with viewers expectations, the viewer as voyeur, violence in films, these are not new subjects. And this film is a direct remake of the director's own early film in German. It was made ten years ago when perhaps it might not have been so unoriginal, although I'm not convinced.

On IMDB, two of its key plot words are listed as Eggs and Golf Balls. There aren't many other films that can make the same claim and I did actually dream about eggs last night. But there ends its effect. It wasn't scary, it wasn't funny, it wasn't original, it wasn't clever. It was too long. It was a waste of time.

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