Films recently watched:
Shiny. So shiny. ALL THE SHINY. I hadn’t watched Tron: Legacy since seeing it in IMAX in 2010, and it’s still a fantastically odd film – a megabudget sequel to an oddball 1982 example of style over substance that was a cult favourite and a style classic but never what could objectively be described as good. Here, we get shininess, epic vistas, gigantic amounts of visual style, and an hilariously creaky screenplay – plus, it’s also a fantastic argument for getting a Blu-Ray player and a decent soundsystem so that Daft Punk’s epic soundtrack can DESTROY you with its bass. There’s a good film trying to make itself heard inside Tron: Legacy, but it’d take a better director than Joseph Kosinski to make it happen. The Arena/Light Cycles sequence remains a highlight, and Jeff Bridges’ creepy digital younger self remains a brave but failed experiment that latter-day films have mostly steered clear of. Odd to view it in context as Disney’s attempt at doing an Avatar (which had hit only a year previously), and that Hollywood is no longer quite so desperate to sell us on 3-D as it once was.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Wes Anderson films often don’t agree with me (I can remember being frustrated and confounded by Rushmore, while others adored it) but this weird and melancholy confection is just about stylised and crazy enough to win me over. Presented inside a nested set of stories (with different aspect ratios), it’s an oddball 1930s European caper that gradually unveils a darker, more violent edge, before delivering a tragic finale in its last minutes. As always, it features an incredible cast (Ralph Fiennes is a particular urbane highlight), it’s production-designed within an inch of its life and so studied and kooky that it may make less open-minded viewers want to scream, but it’s also a gloriously odd exercise in moviemaking that plays as if Anderson had watched the stranger films of the Coen Brothers and declared “Not odd enough!”, thus pushing into territory that’s sometimes similar to fellow cinematic arch-kook Guy Maddin. I may not always adore his work, but I’m glad that Wes Anderson is still out there, making these kind of individual, quirky, love-them-or-hate-them films.