Monday, October 09, 2006

Not taking my breath away

Decided to go to the pictures on Saturday and agonised over what to see: the much-praised Children of Men; guilty pleasure comedy The Devil Wears Prada; or Scorcese's latest, The Departed. Opted for Scorcese, perhaps inspired by having resumed by screenwriting MA. I've yet to see a bad Scorcese film but, equally, I've never felt myself becoming immersed in a Scorcese film. They always provoke a sense of detachment in it, I feel myself appreciating his movies rather than enjoying them or empathising with the characters' phlight.

Having Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as the leads probably didn't help, as both actors leave me cold. Obviously, it all looks great and sounds great and there are some stellar performances, but... I just couldn't get excited by it all. No visceral thrills for me and I simply didn't care what happened to anyone on screen except Martin Sheen [I suspect that's a hangover from being a devotee of The West Wing]. I don't doubt The Departed will be up for a sackload of Oscars come February, but it left me ever so slightly underwhelmed. My loss, I guess.
Saturday night on BBC1 brought the first episode of Robin Hood, the latest reincarnation of the medieval outlaw hero. It's a big budget, lush and lavish production, heavily hyped as the successor to Doctor Who as TV drama the whole family can watch and enjoy. Opening night got more than 8 million viewers, so that's a good start - but you've got to wonder how long those viewers will stick around.

The first episode felt like half a pilot, with Robin still to acquire his merry men [sorry, rugged band of outlaws]. Highlights of the opening effort were Keith Allen chewing scenery in the grand Sheriff of Nottingham tradition - love that bird killing sequence; the bumbling buffonery of Robin's sidekick Much and Alan of Dale seems promising. Plus it's nice to see a female lead on TV who's not a size zero, nor capable of opening envelope with her hip bones. Lowpoints - gratuitous snogfest in opening minutes to prove Robin is all man, leading to gratuitous sword fight to prove he's all man and can fight; that annoying arrow sound that comes up every time subtitles shoot on to the screen; and the hey-look-at-me-aren't-I-modern jolty camera work and editing.

Not going to be home to watch next Saturday's second episode and not sure I'll bother to set the DVD recorder for it, either. So far, the new Robin Hood has failed to win me over. Still, Doctor Who scribe Paul Cornell has an episode or two coming up soon, so I'll probably give one of them a try, see if Robin Hood settles down into something I'll made the effort to watch regularly.


Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

I agree with the irritating arrow sound, and what was all that camera work while they twirled swords around?

Writing and Directing wise, it seemed to be improvised for the first fifteen minutes (no story and weak direction). Also, I know it was filmed somewhere in Europe, but couldn't they have tried to find a place that looked a little more like England?

Chris Weston said...

Did you notice that gratuitous "Gladiator" reference when Robin returns to Locksley... and the camera follows his hands as it trails over the foliage surrounding his beloved homestead. I thought the dialogue was terrible. Didn't get far enough in to see Keith Allen... had to give the kids their bath.

Also, Dave... FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY don't miss Children of Men!

English Dave said...

Got to admit I turned over after ten minutes to watch Gallapigos. But I'll tune in next week and give it another go. Keith Allen is always watchable.

Maybe Robin is a grower [both the series and the actor]