That Movie Book – Week One

Last weekend we were finally able to start with my latest book purchase,  Marc Fennell‘s ‘That Movie Book’. It’s a guide to various movie themes or producers and the like, in a weekend-by-weekend format for a year. It starts with one on Friday, then if you liked that there are two more for Saturday and two more on Sunday if you really have no life. I bought the book in November last year but the first theme wasn’t supposed to be until the new year, so I was suitably excited about finally getting around to this.

Week 1’s theme was “Memory Loss? Memory Gained!: a guide to cinematic amnesia”, in relation to New Year’s Eve and celebrating enough to not remember what happened that night. I hadn’t seen any of the films suggested, so I was excited to get this going.

First up was The Bourne Identity. Matt Damon is found in the middle of the ocean with amnesia and spends the rest of the movie trying to work out who he is while killing people a mysterious government agency has sent to try and kill him. Also there is a lady who helps out and he gives her a strange haircut.


It was actually not that bad! It was not something I would have sought out, but it was entertaining in that slightly mindless way. The action scenes were actiony and didn’t seem overly choreographed, which can be a problem sometimes. It actually looked somewhat reminiscent to real fighting compared to some other action movies. That being said I probably won’t go and watch the others in the trilogy. Bourne Identity resolves itself quite nicely, so I feel like if I watch the others the whole time I will just be feeling like I would have been better off just not bothering.

Then we moved on to A Scanner Darkly. It was supposed to be watched on Saturday, but what can I say, we’re eager. Keanu Reeves is an undercover cop trying to catch out a drug dealer, and follows the dealer’s life. But, SPOILER ALERT (not really), he is also the drug dealer. The drug he takes has messed up his brain and creates this weird disassociation so he doesn’t realise he is both people. Then his brain crumbles into bits and he is institutionalised. Cheery stuff right there.

This movie left me really confused. It’s based on a Philip K Dick novel, and what I have experienced of his stuff normally makes me go “What the hell just happened?” at the end of it. This movie is no exception. Also we went from easy-to-digest action flick to weird commentary on drug addicts and the people the people who want to encourage/stop them, which probably didn’t help either. I think the main thing that troubled me about the movie was the kind of half-animation that was used. I know it was a very deliberate stylistic choice, but I kept getting distracted by it more than anything and wished it had gone one way or another rather than settling with the strange middle ground. The acting was good, I will admit that much. Is that like saying that Keanu Reeves sure can act like someone on drugs? Anyway. I haven’t read the book this was based on, but Ben has, so he explained to me how the storyline had been changed and made less open ended, which I can understand why they did so. At the end I still felt a bit disappointed because I couldn’t actually work out what I just watched. All in all not the best thing to watch just before bedtime.

On Saturday we watched another film based on Philip K Dick’s writing, Total Recall. It’s the future, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a construction worker who dreams about being on Mars and tries to get a simulated trip to there. This sets off a series of events which results in him actually going to Mars to try help insurgents and save the planet from its evil dictatory person.

This movie was ridiculous. There were obvious similarities between this and The Bourne Identity (no memory of previous life; actually was a secret agent; people suddenly trying to kill him constantly; something something governmenty people aren’t very nice?)  but, uh I guess there are probably a fair few of those kind of movies around. My major issue is that this movie hasn’t aged well at all. It is very late 80’s looking, the effects are clunky and dear god why Arnold Schwarzenegger. This movie would have been so much better if they chose an actual actor who could actually act. Everything else would have been less irritating if I wasn’t cringing at Arnie’s terrible acting every few seconds. In writing this I have found out there’s going to be a new version of this at some point this year. I’m not sure if it’s going to be an better, but at least it will look nicer than the one I watched. Ben doesn’t think there should be a remake, but hey, whatever man.

The other two movies for this week were Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Machinist, but we didn’t get around to watching those. Eternal Sunshine is pretty damn depressing and The Machinist sounds pretty weird as well so we decided two nights of movies was enough. I kinda want to watch them to round it off but I am a bit too lazy to. The movie night deal was fun and Friday night is already Pizza Night, so hopefully we keep this up.

Week One of Movie Night: Success!

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