Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DVD(s) of the Week: Electic Boogaloo, Trainwreck, Cinderella

Right, time for another quick catch-up round. This time it driven more by the fact that these are three movies that I don't really have a lot to say about, but for completeness, here they are. They're all fine; they've all got merit, but at the same time they each in their own way won't be to everyone's taste, and perhaps are lacking that extra but that would take them over the line. So without further ado, lets get into it. 

Electric Boogaloo: The Untold Story of Cannon Films
If you're anything like me, you've probably heard of, or seen, more Cannon Films pictures than you think you have. Run from the early-80s until it's untimely demise by a pair of entrepenurial Isreali film moguls, Cannon made a big splash - became a big player even - making the sort of B-movies that are now the province of studios like Asylum, coupled with delusions of quality that really wasn't there. In geek circles they're probably most famous for Superman IV and Masters of the Universe, but these films are the tail end of a longer, and stranger story.

Electric Boogaloo is mostly a "talking heads" documentary charting  the rise and fall of Cannon from it's schloky beginnings, to schlocky triumphs and schlockly failure. Along the way it's a fascinating insight into the changing movie industry of the 80s, and how Cannon started to change the business of film financing, even as their film making never really grew to match their ambitions. It's very much a "how sausages are made" story; which is the sort of thing I really like, but not everyone will. It's also crucially missing the voices of it's two principles, an ommision it handles very well, but an ommission nevertheless.

Even more in the "not for everyones taste" is Trainwreck, written by and starring Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow. In a lot of respects its a straightforward gender-flip of a familiar formula the slobby, not-ready-to-grow-up Amy has to earn the love of her straight laced would-be partner with some introspection and a grand romantic gesture at the end. , side from a female lead, it is, at heart, pretty convention in most of it's beats. That said, the very fact of a female lead in this sort of story gives it a different spin, and that is, in itself a mark in the films favour. 

That said it also suffers from the problems in a lot of comedy movies from the Apatow stable. For me, these come in two main areas. The first is that whist I did laugh, there is a certain amount of baggy material that feels like it was funny on the set, but just outstays its welcome on the screen. It makes the film feel slghtly too long, as if knocking out 20 minutes but make the  jokes feel tighter, and faster, and leave you wanting more. The other issue is that these beats are now pretty predictable. Thats neither Schumer nor Apatows fault, but many of the characters here have gone beyond archetype into cliche, and robs a film that may deserve better of some of it's charm.

Finally for today, a trip to one of Disney's rolling project to remake all it's classic animated movies into live action. Cinderella, therefore, follows a well-trodden story, replacing songs and silliness with grandeur and class - so much so, in fact, that it somehow sucks the life out of the film. This is a lavishly mounted production - great cast, lavish sets, and some great direction of Kenneth Branagh, but at the same time it's somehow airless, and a little sterile. It's as if it's caught between being prestige, and being fun, and can't quite square the two. Lovely to look at though!