Ned Kelly (2003)

19th Century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly is a folk hero down under and like Jesse James or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has been the subject of many films. Starring Heath Ledger, Ned Kelly (2003) recounts the life of this hero turned anti-hero. As a boy, Ned saved the life of a drowning boy and was honored with a green and gold sash.

Yet as his family was poor and his father was imprisoned for stealing meat and after he got out took to hard drinking before he died an early death. On top of this as a poor, immigrant family the Kelly’s were downtrodden and this shaped Ned’s worldview. He was arrested for bushranging. The film begins when Ned’s released from jail for another robbery. His views on the Law are established and harden police target his family. After a problem with the law, Kelly’s mother is arrested to smoke out Ned, the one they’re really after. This leads to the bank robberies and events which culminate in a historic shoot out. 

I’d learned of Ned Kelly on a walking tour of Melbourne. The film includes all the events which made him a folk hero — how he robbed banks and then burned all the mortgages and loans so that no one had to pay the bank back and how Ned fashioned protective armor for head and body to protect his gang and himself from police bullets. Ned certainly was clever.

Yet the film seemed to drag and lacked the wit and charisma in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but the film seemed mediocre. It could do with some editing and a tighter story. The writers seemed to have been working off a check list, drowning scene, check, bank robbery with burning the mortgages with a flat-footed line from the banker, check, romantic interlude, check, etc. Ned Kelly’s certainly got a dramatic life. Perhaps one of the other biopics does a better job of portraying it. I can’t recommend this one. It’s not horrible, but there are better things to watch. 

Playtime (1967)

Jacques Tati’s 1967 film Playtime could be a silent film, but it isn’t. There’s minimal dialogue and no meaningful conversations. The film is a critique on modern life – the sterile office space, the noisy, empty social life, and tourism that distances people from what they traveled thousands of miles to see. There’s no story. Time passes. While Tati plays his famous Mr. Hulot, Hulot’s just a bystander, another person lost in modernity. The film does have several clever gags and uses the set well. The glass office building just adds confusion to the business inside. The new nightclub opens while the adhesive for the floor tile is still drying. The hour or so in the night club is a series of catastrophes when everything from the glass entry door to the tiles, and decor break causing all kinds of trouble.

All in all, I missed a plot and developed characters. The film dragged for me, which is odd for a comedy. I suppose if you wanted to study gags, it would be worth your while to take a look, but you don’t need to watch the whole film. 

Happy Hour (2015)

A big thumbs down for me. I know I didn’t watch the whole thing, but that’s my 2¢. Life is too short for this.

No Fixed Plans

I signed up for the Japanese Embassy’s emails and got one inviting me to watch the film Happy Hour online any time between Thursday 7pm and Sunday 7pm. I figured why not. I had enjoyed their virtual showing of Little Forest, though I only watched half of it.

Happy Hour was billed as a slow-burning chronicle of four female friends who’re in their late 30s. I expected some sharing and portrayals of stale marriages, the loneliness of a career woman, and a few of the typical experiences of this stage of life. I expected a modern Ozu and hoped for more, i.e. some unexpected twists.

Friday night when I clicked on the link to the event, I was surprised to see three screens, that look like YouTube screens. I didn’t think much of it. After almost an hour of watching these four characters who were good friends, but nothing special…

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