A Failed Journalist’s Anniversary Review of Wimbledon

Thursday 30 July, 2015

For this entry, I’d really recommend you go to this post here and read that first, for this to post to make sense.

But because I believe in the freedom of choice, I’ll also give you a summary.

Four years ago, to the day, I wrote an entry about Paul Bettany. It was the post that started the Paul Bettany back cataloguing (film watching with intent, basically). In the post, I explained how I had a friend in school who fancied him, and she’d talk about a film called Wimbledon and really wanted me to watch it, because she thought the main actor in it (Bettany) was gorgeous, but I was never interested in watching it, because it was a romcom, and I’m not one for romcoms. I also mentioned how I love(d) a film called Gangster No. 1, and recommended my friend watch it, but she wasn’t into bloody, gorey gangster films, so she never did, despite my description of the main character being Really, Really blonde and she seemed to like that look. I never knew the name of the main actor in it, and neither me or my friend realised we were recommending films to each other starring the same man.

I know. Hilarious, right?

Well. Just the other weekend, I had a film marathon. It’s a long story how I ended up with such a hodge podge of films that I wouldn’t ordinarily watch, but amongst them was the film Wimbledon. I’ve had this collection of DVDs in my possession for about five months, but I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch them.

And because of emotional sentimentality, a penchant for nostalgic blues, and the sheer fact that it’s a romcom, I wasn’t all that keen to watch Wimbledon anyway. I felt as though, even if I did find out I enjoyed the film, it’ll always be tinged with the sadness of the yesteryear. (I know. Pathetic, right?)

But it was there, and I was watching the others, so I took the plunge.

And I almost hate myself for this, but I actually… sort of… liked it??? I mean, it wasn’t that bad. I watched better films during the movie marathon (Stardust) and I’d watched worse during the movie marathon (Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence) and this fell just above the line between “good” and “uninteresting”.

It’s down to Paul Bettany. All Hail the Acting God that is Paul Bettany! It’s his dry delivery and tone of voice that makes it worth watching, I think. I didn’t really think much of the romance, i’m getting fed up of the leading male roles being played by men that are 10+ years older than the leading female roles, and normally I can’t stand watching anything to do with Tennis. When the real Wimbledon’s on, I will go to great lengths to avoid it as much as possible.

But I was kept interested by the dialogue and Paul Bettany’s delivery of it, in this film.

If I could have changed anything about this film, besides the age gap between the actors and the fact that it’s another A B C Heterosexual Romance RomCom, it would be that I would have wanted Peter Colt (Bettany’s character) to lose. You know, throw some reality to these things. He is old for a tennis player, which is highlighted in the film, he was struggling to keep ahead for most of his matches up to that point, and he hurt his back. That’s a big career destroyer for a lot of athletes. At some point, these films should be telling people you can’t have everything you want in life.

So, in conclusion, I’ll give the film a 5/10.
Next Paul Bettany Catalogue review will be Blood.

A Failed Journalist’s Review of Priest. (Or As I Like To Call it: The Tale of a Ninja Vampire Slayer And The Case Of The Frightfully Similar Scenes)

Saturday 18 February, 2012

Before I really start, I’d just like to say that I’m not the best reviewer out there. On this here blog, I quite happily reviewed Jon Richardson’s Book: It’s Not Me, It’s You, and shared it with the world. On a previous blog I used to have, I wrote really higgledy piggledy reviews about DVDs that I’d watched, through recommendation and courtesy of LoveFilm, and after only a few entries, I fell into a formulaic pit and struggled to get out of it.

So, don’t think of this is as a review. Think of it as an article filled with observations, delivered with a hint of sardonic opinions, all laced with a hint of fangirling.
So, I watched Priest the other day. I’ve mentioned before that I am a fan of Paul Bettany, and the shenanigans involving his name. I’ve also mentioned in the LoveFilm entries that I keep my lists floating in titles by Cataloguing certain actor’s works, and that’s how I ended up watching Priest.
The premise is this: Paul Bettany plays a Priest in a dystopian world run by The Church. He fought vampires and lost, and lived in wait to avenge his friend. He gets word of stray vampires and vicious attacks outside of The City and turns his back on to the The Church when his plea of help fall on deaf ears. The attack happened on either his brother’s or his sister’s farm, didn’t quite catch which one, and his niece was taken hostage.
He figures he can kill two undead birds with one steak-shaped stone by getting his niece, Lucy, back and killing the creatures that killed his friend.
BUT! It’s not that simple. And if you think the Characters are bound to have a hard job going all Buffy The Vampire Slayer on everyone’s arses, think again! It’s me, your average viewer, who has the most work to do.
First of all, Paul Bettany’s American Accent is flawless. It’s not the first time I’ve heard him pull it off. He plays a very scary creepy fellow in a film called Firewall, starring Harrison Ford. He hold’s Harrison Ford’s Character and the Character’s family hostage, for reasons I can’t quite remember but an educated guess based on the title of the film would be that it’s for some sort of code, Sneakers Style. When the Character is being himself, the scary creepy fellow, he’s in Paul Bettany’s English Accent. And when the Character is being his Alias, he has a smooth American Accent that helps him blend in and even manages to sound extra friendly.
I spent a good half an hour thinking him to be the good sort of Hostage taker, but then he gave the son food knowing full well the kid would go into anaphylactic shock and I realised I had to re-evaluate my character reading skills. But that’s derailing.
My point is, is that I’ve heard Paul Bettany’s American Accent before, and yet this time it was different. It was quiet and on the raspier side of things. There were a few times I had to pause, rewind and turn the subtitles on to catch what was being said.
Then, my brain kept going into Intertextuality Overdrive as I saw many references to and scenes that looked worryingly similar to scenes in other films. For example, The Priest has a motorbike. What other Vampire Slayer do we know that rides a super-speed Motorbike in the dark?
And on that point, the Vampires that The Priest and everybody else has come to know are nothing compared to the Super Vampire that’s now in charge. And worse, the average Vampires have bred to such degrees that they aren’t just straggled groups to be dismissed. They become an army, headed straight for The City.
There’s a scene where Lucy is sitting at a table, in her Church Clothes, that she didn’t really wear to Church, wink wink, talking to the Super Vampire. He’s giving her all of this delicious food to eat whilst telling her how Sinning Makes The World Go Around.
Not exactly the same Conversation Topic, but almost exactly the same as the scene in Pirates of the Carribbean where Barbossa has all sorts of food laid out before Elizabeth for her to eat, so that Barbossa can enjoy eating by proxy.
There’s also The Church, which if you change to The Government and throw in Stephen Fry and Natalie Portman, you’d have V for Vendetta.
And Saving the best for last! What comes to mind when I say that a Damsel in Distress In A Victorian-Styled Dress is clinging on to the edge of a steam-train that is going to explode/crash, is being held on to by One Of The Heroes so that she doesn’t fall off and get mangled under the wheels, meanwhile The Other Hero is using their mode of transportation like a Surf Board and Orchestrating The Rescue Attempt with Very Good Timing Abilities?
If You said Back to the Future 3, You’d be wrong. It’s the ending of Priest! But glad to see we agree, there.
I’ll give the film points for a very good cast, and I didn’t actually figure out the bigger twist until a split second before it was revealed. I would watch it again, and I’d buy it on DVD if it was in the bargain bin…
But overall, it’s lame! It is So, So, So, So Lame! I mean, have you seen Slither? I love Slither, but it’s a lame excuse for a horror film that’s made largely viewable by the humour, cast and script. Priest has Super Ninja Priests that can jump up to and land down safely from great heights. At some points, it seems as if it’s a film made from collage of scenes taken from other films, a half decent cast and one good line. Which I’m sure was the token line they’d have used in the trailor.
The scene is this: The Priest has returned to The Catacombs that we saw him in at the beginning of the film, where the war between people and vampires had taken place, where his friend had been taken by the Vampires. He is with a Gunslinger, who went to The Priest for help because he’s in love with Lucy, despite Lucy possbly being only 17 and the Gunslinger guy looking 27…
The Priest throws his flare down the vertical tunnel so that he can see the bottom, only it’s so far down that you can’t really see the flare anymore. He turns to the Gunslinger guy and says “If anything comes up the steps that isn’t me, shoot it.”

It’s such a slick line! It is like no other line in the film, it’s said clearly, and it’s not the kind of line I’d associate with Paul Bettany. Paul Bettany, who made up football chants and immitates boxing announcers in A Knight’s Tale. Paul Bettany, the smug-faced explosive fast talker of a Gangster in Gangster No1. Paul Bettany, the quiet-voiced seemingly gentle man of a doctor, particular friend to Jack Aubrey, in Master and Commander.

My Mind Does Not Compute.

If anything, it shows just how versatile an actor Paul Bettany is. Does nothing whatsoever for the film, though. Except guarantee’s a decent amount of footage to turn into an advert. It is a line that provokes Meta.

It might sound as if I was disappointed with this film. I wasn’t. I did genuinely like it. Paul Bettany plays a Ninja Priest, and there’s a super army of Vampires heading towards a big Dystopian City run by The New Church to get revenge. What’s not to like?!

It’s just not something that I’d associate with Paul Bettany if Paul Bettany hadn’t have starred in it. But that’s the kind of thing you find out when you watch an actor’s back catalogue. You find films you wouldn’t normally like, you find actor’s in films not like any other thing they’ve ever been in, and you find other actors playing a role you wouldn’t normally associate them with.

Final conclusion of Priest:

My next Paul Bettany film, for the record, will be Creation. ~Ooh~


Saturday 30 July, 2011

I shall tell you all a story… with no twist in it’s tale whatsoever.

No. This tale practically goes nowhere, and barely highlights any points, morally or otherwise, i’d even attempt to make.

I once had a friend who liked Paul Bettany. For those who don’t know who that is, he’s an actor. IMDB him. She liked him a fair amount, but not obsessively so. She had your average fangirl-esque crush on him, without the wall sized posters on the walls. Whenever she mentioned him, I’d repeatedly ask “And who’s that again?”.

She’d reply “He’s the guy in Wimbledon!” and I’d just kind of look at her, sometimes doing the plane-over-the-head motion with accompanied sound affect. I’m not one for RomComs. Then sometimes she’d say “He was in A Knight’s Tale! He was the naked one!”

Which, if I didn’t already have it down in my “No” pile, pretty much secured it’s place there. Naked people? Big No for me.

At various points during our friendship, I’d mention a film I kind of liked called Gangster Number 1. “I don’t know who the main guy is, but he’s really blonde!” I’d say. She had no interest in seeing it because, well, British Gangster Films weren’t really her area. Fine by me, I don’t like RomComs.

Shortly before our friendship was well and truly drying up, she put Wimbledon on her computer one night when I slept over, as something we could fall asleep to. I must have seen some of it, because I’m an insomniac and wouldn’t have fallen asleep so early in the film not to remember any of it, but there we have it. I don’t remember any of it. Was he naked in that too? I might have been too traumatised to remember it, if that’s the case.

Either way, I didn’t register the character in my mind and still at that point, the name Paul Bettany meant little or even nothing to me.

Fast forward three years later. For a few years at that point, my parents had raved about a film called Master and Commander. The first time I watched it, I saw a very bad bit in it and took an instant disliking to it. After a while and much insistence from my parents, I read up on it and found that it had quite a lot in common with a favourite series of mine called Hornblower.

In fact it wasn’t just a coincidence, the books were inspired by the book series of Hornblower, and the movie was influenced in the way of set design, costumes and naval interactions that the books didn’t cover, by the television series.

So I watched it a second time. I like Age of Sail, I like Hornblower and i’d already learnt from another film that one bad bit of a movie does not a full opinion make. And, well, I loved it. It is now a firm favourite of mine.

But the second time I watched it, I spent a good twenty minutes wondering where the hell I’d seen the doctor from. I recognised his face a teeny tiny bit but he just looked too different from anything in my memory to put a name to his face. So I IMDB’d him.

Paul Bettany. Did the name ring a bell? Not really, no. I mean there was something there, in the back of my mind, tinkling a little bit, but it was no Fire Alarm. And somehow my mind failed to register the words “Wimbledon” and “A Knight’s Tale” on the list, so my mind was still floundering until I caught “Gangster No. 1”.

Even to this day I still have no Idea how he went from The Super Blonde, Couch Obsessed, Shifty Looking Gangster to The Auburn Haired, Soft Spoken, Gentle Yet Dangerous, Fighting Naturalist, Doctor Stephen Maturin. My mind? It was boggled.

Then I watched the movie again and I was sat there thinking “Paul Bettany…” and suddenly, that name had too many familiar leaves to it in my tree-like brain to only be from Gangster No. 1. Yes, I did like that film, Yes I did mention that film a few times. But there was something more to his name. This is how my mind works.

So I IMDB’d him again and spotted A Knight’s Tale. And then it hit me! I recognised his face from Gangster No. 1, but I knew his name from my old friend! That’s why the name was more of a bigger deal than his face. I never put The Super Blonde Gangster together with the name Paul Bettany, cos I never found out his name. Or if I did, it never registered with me.

Sometimes I am oblivious, it happens.

Fast Forward 8 months later. I happen to be working my way through films that Alan Tudyk is in. Alan Tudyk, of Firefly and Death at a Funeral fame, is in A Knight’s Tale. Well, with a nice mixture of actors such as Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany and Heath Ledger, and a few years between the first watching and that moment in time, I decided to go for it. I already found a new favourite film in Master and Commander, right? So maybe I was wrong with A Knight’s Tale upon first watch.

More accurately, I was 14 years old and looking forward to either the Summer or Christmas Holidays so much that when the opportunity arose to leave the classroom after the register was taken, I took it and left the room after the first five minutes.

Even by my standards, that’s not giving it much of a chance.

Well, one thing to be noted, Paul Bettany is very much naked a couple of times in that film. Oh, you don’t see much by Offensive Standards, no. Just a little bit too much by my own. If Paul Bettany was a little less naked in that film, i’d give it a 10 out of 10.

Which kind of proves some sort of point. Sometimes, I should listen to my friends when they rave about films (or particular actors from films) I might like. More often than not, they’ll be wrong, but sometimes it’s worth humoring them. And I only say that because in my experience, More Often Than Not, they are wrong. I know what I like and I have no intention of broadening my horizons.

I’ve spent 22 years disliking most RomComs and films where characters are terminally ill. That’s not going to change, because the messages and ideologies of these films equally aren’t going to change. But that’s a rant for another entry.

So yeah. Three cheers for Paul Bettany, IMDB and Friendships of the past.