Film & TV

Cinematic Dogmatic #3 – 12/2/16 – 19/2/16

Our newest feature brings you all the latest films in one place! Does A Bigger Splash live up to its name? Does Dad’s Army touch a nerve? Tom brings you quick-fire opinions on the hottest new releases.

A Bigger Splash
It’s incredibly difficult to render certain feelings effectively on screen, yet A Bigger Splash renders the palpable, ineffable combination of awkward group tensions and just-too-hot summer exactly. It doesn’t really simmer at any point, merely explodes with increasing scale and devastation throughout, as clammy lust and contempt continually broils over between Matthias Schoenaerts’ nice guy, Dakota Johnson’s collegiate Lolita, the temporarily mute, otherworldly Tilda Swinton and firecracker Ralph Fiennes (an excellent perpetually shifting power dynamic between those two). Sensationally offbeat and terse, yet sprawling in its mapping of desire and regret.

Dad’s Army
Never caring for the source series, there was no nostalgia raising my expectations or hampering my view. Despite that, the comedy was as you’d expect from a large-scale Brit film with an enviable cast (Jones, Nighy, Zeta-Jones, Gambon, even Courtenay post-45 Years). The jokes are sporadic and signposted, almost afraid of a more nuanced aim in case some of the audience is lost, while the ‘drama’ of the narrative is as well-worn as the WWII setting. Of course the risk of being afraid to lose anyone is no one is won. Like a DA tribute band, and the trouble with tribute bands is they are so defined by their origins they can never have a life of their own.

Look, this is a sentence. And another. Though, that was technically not, because it was just a fragment. See, being post-modern and self-aware is fun. But if all I’m doing is signposting what I’m doing, where is the interest? It’s like the smartass cinephile the movies love to depict, the one who doesn’t care about film but points out narrative tropes and constructs as if that’s clever. And instead of sitting next to you, he’s on-screen, the hero you’re supposed to worship. Violence and gore in superspandex is not new, Kick-Ass did it. And the knowing subversiveness this lacked. And it showed it’s possible to be tonally adolescent and still possess wit. This however…

As a child reading these books, the idea of a film where ALL OF THE MONSTERS ARE LOOSE CRAZY SHENANIGANS would have enthralled me, and somehow over a decade later it didn’t disappoint like it frankly should have. Nowhere near as macabre and uncanny as the TV series, instead Goosebumps pitches itself at a wider, more general audience, but save for the odd smirk-inducing Stephen King joke it relies on nostalgia over adult references to win the original readers. Possesses the Joe Dante-esque quality, if not the same irreverent charm, of being a perfect inroad into horror for young people.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Stretching a rubbernecking title out to the length of a bestselling novel is nothing to be slighted, even with assistance from Austen’s source text. To pull that feat off twice, here in the context of a 108 minute film? Well it half succeeds, which is expected considering it’s a dichotomous film which coheres rarely. Not enough depth, not enough splatter. Perhaps P&P&Z would have benefitted from ditching the P&P, maintaining just the generic Regency period. Nonetheless, the comedy of manners and sexes is ramped up within the paradigm of 21st century gender politics and undead shenanigans, and while never delving deep it’s nonetheless an often amusing adaptation of an already high-concept origin.

Tom Watchorn

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