Sunday, July 12, 2009

Missed opportunities

Anyone who knows me personally will be able to tell you that generally speaking - I don't like movies, I don't have the patience for them, I don't find them rewarding compared to television drama which has the capacity to really make you care about characters, I find comedy movies to be all lowbrow slapstick not even holding a candle to the wit of a Frasier or Seinfeld (or even an ALF!) and most of my favourite movies are either part of a series (Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future etc) or have to really come with a great deal of personal recommendation for me to sit through them (Gran Torino, The Pursuit of Happyness, Wall St are recent forays for me).

So all in all, the current dearth of movies on television really works in my favour, I don't pay attention to them and they don't bug me, except on Saturdays...

Seven and Nine, faced with AFL from Ten, Cricket from SBS and the geriatric woodstock over on ABC1 both turn their Saturday sked into an unpredictable mish mash of weird movie genres.

Seven takes the cake for truly inane last night, The Princess Diaries (whether you were watching the original or the sequel depended on your location north or south of the Murray River) is a dreadful "family comedy" where the writers completely forgot that families also include adults.

As a child I well remember visiting the house of a family friend and been scarred for life by their kids repeated video playback of the godawful movie Mary Poppins, now I admit to repeatedly screening movies in my childhood, most notably The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek IV, Krull and Back to the Future II but I draw the line a jaunty supernanny who flies in on an umbrella and dances with a chimneysweep - that's just too much for anyone with a functioning Y chromosone to take - therefore Julie Andrews is permanantly black listed from future movie choices, such is the horribleness of that one film.

To put it in context for you - I even liked The Wizard of Oz - so I'm not just pissing on fantasy musicals here - it's just a bad film.

So strike one for the Princess Diaries

Seven followed up that effort with (again) two choices either Kindergarten Cop, which is funny but played to death by Ten during the 90s, or The Transporter, a violent action film with very little story and even less reason for existing, why Seven choses to schedule a shoot-em-up on the last Saturday of the school holidays is anybody's guess but that's two strikes now.

As for channel Nine - it's that time of year again, Harry Potter time. I know I said I like films that form a much larger saga or story - but Harry Potter just leaves me cold, I remember going to Chamber of Secrets in the cinema with some friends and people were falling asleep! This is not a good sign, nor is it a good movie, I haven't bothered with the sequels nor have I read the books on account of, 1) I'm an adult, 2) I have kids so at some point no doubt one of them will take an interest and I'll be forced to hear about it 3) the school system is becoming so decrepit that these books will probably be on the High School English syllabus by the time my kids get there!

Anyway, needless to say I didn't watch a lot of TV last night, until about 1am, at which time I noticed this odd little film on Nine that I'd never seen before but had heard about.

Dog Day Afternoon.

All I ever knew about this was that it was an Al Pacino film, nothing else about it was known, but the sight of Charles Durning playing police negotiator in a scene that makes Police Cheif Wiggum look competent was enough to pique my interest.

What followed was an incredibly bizarre hostage story which (on researching it today) turns out to be a true one where a man robs a bank to pay for his lover's sex change operation, the film was thoroughly engaging in a way that current fairy floss blockbusters or cookie cutter action films couldn't hope to match and yet it sitting there buried at one in the morning when perhaps three whole people meters might be switched on.

I guess the miracle is that a free to air network even played it all. Now I'm not some crotchety old man by any means, well maybe crotchety - but at 32 this film was before my time, but I'd relish the chance to check some of these classics out - and what better night than Saturdays, what a sad missed opportunity.

But hey - you can always see The Princess Diaries

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