Movie Snarks

The Best Film… Ever!

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“Martha’s Vineyard has everything. Clear skies. Gentle surf. People flock to its Atlantic beaches every summer to splash in the waves. But there was apprehension in the air at the weekend after multiple warnings that one or possibly two great white sharks were cruising the waters close to its beaches.” (Leonard Doyle, The Independent).

I don’t know about you but the prospect of some deathly pale unfortunate, splashing about in their bright yellow Speedo’s, is quite a grim visage in itself without adding the image of said unfortunate being taken apart by a 14-foot Great White. That being said, and by way of a muse, it was this report that drove me to put virtual pen to paper and give my sickeningly biased, and love-soaked opinion, on what has been my favourite film for as long as I can remember… Jaws.

Never has a film affected me more, and on so many varying levels.  I can’t quite remember when I first saw this movie, who I was with, or any of the subsequent nightmares.  I know I was young and I know it scared the hell out of me.  I would hazard a guess that over the past thirty years I’ve watched it more times than I could honestly consider healthy… I remember one particular summer when I watched the thing once a week!

Regardless of my own prevailing nightmares, a relentless fear of water, and a continued fascination with sharks, Jaws was a seminal movie for many others and has directly shaped the way modern cinema offerings are produced, marketed and ultimately released.

Made in 1975, it was the first movie to be dubbed a summer blockbuster, the first film to be released nationally or ‘wide released’, the first to be distributed and marketed simultaneously (a practice that still continues today), and the first to cross the $100 million dollar profit mark. While we’re on a stat trip I’ll have it noted that Jaws eventually grossed approximately $470 million worldwide – that equates to almost $2.5 billion in adjusted 2014 dollars. That’s higher than Titanic, The Avengers, and sits just below the biggest grossing film of all time, Avatar – and all without the need for stupid 3d gimmicks to increase the ticket price.

Now for the history bit…

Peter Benchley’s novel was already flying off the shelves before producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown received the option for it. Knowing it would make a great movie, but unsure of how it could be filmed, a ridiculously young Stephen Spielberg stumbled upon the pages and foolishly signed up to direct. Shooting the movie began in Martha’s Vineyard before either final draft or the model sharks had been completed, and with this foolhardy optimism, the cast and crew began an estimated 55-day principle photography shoot – a shoot that would eventually wrap on day 159!

The months that followed saw the overall production budget spiral, the model sharks frequently malfunction, the script re-written several times (and by several different contributors), the expiration of the Screen Writers Guild contract, relationship tensions between ‘the veteran’ Robert Shaw and ‘cocky upstart’ Richard Dreyfuss, to say nothing of the growing distaste shown by the wealthy inhabitants of Matha’s Vineyard towards the cast and crew of the movie – as David Brown acknowledged, ‘… [The residents] didn’t particularly care for a movie invasion, and didn’t like to see an artificial shark parked in the sea channel where their homes faced!’

Groundbreaking cinema obviously requires you to break some ground, what those associated with Jaws failed to realise is that you also need to break parts of yourself too! A tough shoot, tougher environmental factors, and some difficult cast relationships, the making of this movie could be mulled over for many hours and indeed has via several books and a few documentaries. However, while all of these varying autopsies of the film are worth a look, and thoroughly cover the making of Jaws, I want to explore some of the reasons why this film is the classic it is, and perhaps more importantly how it continues to thrill all who see it – including myself.

‘… the screams started, and they never stopped …’ These words, offered by David Brown when asked to talk about the initial test screenings, still ring true today and is one of the film’s greatest achievements. I struggle to think of another movie, ticking the boxes that Jaws does, that could equally stand the test of time with such command and grace. It’s amazing how this film had the same effect on my nephew (aged 14) only last year, as it did with me over 28-years ago (and also aged 14 at that time) – and let’s not forget that my teenage nephew is a child of the modern comic-book movie invasion and has been fed CGI and digital movie-making from an early age.

Often cited as an action movie, other times a thriller, occasionally by some as horror, and with strong elements of comedy and well-mapped suspense, Jaws manages to cloud any kind of genre definition. I’ve seen the movie plenty of times and still don’t know what to term it. As a child I remember being completely terrified by certain parts of the movie (severed head mysteriously left in a boat anyone??). As I got older the film broke into two sections, the build-up, and the stuff on the boat. As that impressionable child, the part on the boat was always my favourite, as I started to appreciate movies for their story-telling and dialogue; the build-up became my preferred section. These days I love it all equally.

Suspense, horror, action, comedy, buddy film, guys on a mission, a family terrorised – it has all of the above. Now tell me that’s not good entertainment?

Talking of covering all bases, Jaws leaves nothing to chance, especially in its casting. The three principles (excluding the shark) worked to perfection. In-fighting aside, Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw played their parts in such a way that audience empathy is secured within seconds of meeting them. As an ensemble cast I struggle to think of any better, and they own the screen with their charm and credibility.

In fact, all characterisations are on the money and are never allowed to detract from the story. Every second of this movie is there for a reason with nothing on show that could be deemed as excess baggage or self-indulgent filler. The Mayor, the various fishermen, the families affected by the events, all is perfectly pitched and totally in sync with both the actual surroundings depicted in the movie and the audiences’ own preconceptions of life in a small town undergoing such an ordeal.

Waxing lyrical any further on individual cast members, and whilst easy to perform, is too obvious. Anyone who has seen this film knows just how good they all are, and how they enrich the story and take it beyond the simple monster movie it could have been. It’s like asking someone to make the noise of a shark coming at you… everyone does the dur-dur, dur-dur, dur-dur theme tune. Just like the string arrangement played during the Psycho shower scene, these things leave a mark on your subconscious and are never forgotten.

Even that half submerged camerawork is now an industry standard when shooting anything at sea – forcing the audience to engage with the events on screen as if right there.

For me, and what makes this film great, is that it has it all going on – all the genre stuff, great acting and direction, picture perfect locations, that relentless soundtrack and the overall primeval fear of the last great predator on Earth chasing you down.

There is an elemental terror about what is under the waterline, and Jaws exploits this again and again, through changing generations and cultures, using subtle camerawork, strong narrative and enduring performance.

Who needs a bigger boat?

Paul Millard 2014

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A Trifecta of Awful Movies – Elysium, R.I.P.D., Gravity

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This all happened over one weekend… actually, it was within a twenty-four hour period that I watched these movies – three movies that will forever be nothing more than a complete waste of my time and effort (such as it is!).

Let’s try and get this over with quickly, and start with the first shitty-arsed puppy that wandered into my DVD player and took a dump.

How anyone can make a film in which your direction stops any sense of performance from the likes of Matt Damon and Jodie Foster is simply beyond me.  In a similar vein, I struggle to understand how the same person who wrote and directed the intergalactic, funny racism, fest District 9 (which is well worth a watch if you haven’t already), can also produce such a spiteful, pox-ridden 109 minutes of shit-awful cinema.  It seems Neill Blomkamp leads the way in both, and clearly had a few bills to pay by making Elysium.

It’s awful, and in so many ways.  The premise is one that is so well trodden it recently had new carpet laid.  Earth has gone to shit, all the sexy, rich people have built a new Earth (which is a Halo-type thing called Elysium and is really sparkly and stuff), one man who lives on shit Earth but wants to be on Halo Earth makes a stand for reasons that I’m now too bored to explain.  Seriously, that’s the movie.

The special effects may be very cool (as were those used in any episode of Heroes – and look how that turned out!), but the story and characters are just poor and trite.  Why is it that “bad” Earth always looks so dusty and beige?  Also, why is it that the better place has to be made of titanium and LED’s?  Why is it that the main baddie always relies on a single, unstable, counterpart to execute their diabolical plans?  Can we not come up with something a little more different?

Speaking of different, let’s look at the main players.  You have Matt Damon’s character that is fuelled by his own self-preservation for most of the film, until he has a heart-felt moment of realization that leads to perhaps the most obvious and predictable self-sacrifice I’ve ever seen.  Jodie Foster plays a female Dick Cheney and employs a voice that is almost impossible to place (and hilarious to listen too), and then there’s Sharlto Copley – everyone’s favourite weirdo – his character is perhaps the worst of the three, and again suffers from the same vocal bullshit as Foster.  Let’s be honest here, the South African accent is staggeringly poxy at the best of times (Lethal Weapon 2, anyone?), and offers nothing in the way of being either sinister or dangerous – it’s just annoying.  Why not get a little British up on that thing?  We all know a good Brit accent is the scariest when it comes to portraying a messed-up, yet strangely intelligent, psychotic.  As the villain of the piece, you would think he would run with it (as the guy is clearly a gifted actor), but no, and by whoever’s design he keeps it one-dimensional and similar to those baddies you get on an episode of Ultimate Force.

Predictable, jarring, and stupid – avoid Elysium like it’s a UKIP representative.

With a similar waft of shit, I then went on to watch R.I.P.D. and was once more utterly spellbind by the quality of dreck it offered.

Only marginally better than Elysium, it suffered so many of the same problems.  With a story that was nothing more than a slight reworking of The Frighteners, or Rentaghost, this movie deals with an alternate, spectral, universe that us mortals are unaware of but exists in the same space as it were.  This realm is maintained by a police force, much like our own, and is made up of dead cops (which is very cost effective vis-à-vis training and staff development).  Once more, a baddie wants to mess around with the mortal world and hatches a cunning plan to do whatever he does to achieve whatever it is he… sorry, I’m bored writing this.

We again have some reasonable special effects (think Men-in-Black, rather than The Hobbit), and a stable of thoroughbred acting talent in Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon and Mary Louise-Parker, who all manage to make the most of some pretty awful dialogue the team of writers came up with (6 in total!).

The director on this one, Robert Schwentke, tries his best to tame the gaggle of voices that clearly marred the script, but fails to find any consistency with either the universe or the characters.  However, the saving grace this film has is an overriding sense of never taking itself too seriously.  Again, this has a faint smell of Men in Black, and offers the movie a much frayed lifeline away from complete oblivion.

With this said, and if I was going to watch any of these movies again (and I won’t be), I would plumb for R.I.P.D.  Jeff Bridges is always worth a watch and never fails to provide a little something in the way of performance, and Mary Louise-Parker is also good value for money but for very different reasons… va-va-voom!

And so we come to the point where I enter the marginalised world of those who fucking hated Gravity, and thought it was stupid and idiotic in every conceivable way – and in a few ways that haven’t been conceived yet… that’s how inconceivable the stupidity of this movie is.

If I had a penny for every time someone has told me how great this movie is, well, I would only have about 46p, but it would still represent a lot of people who loved this film – I’m just not sure why.

Was it because of the visuals?  Well, they were certainly nice to look at and gave an awesome sense of how important we are down here, but so hopelessly unimportant up there in the galactic wilderness.  Maybe it was The Clooney and Sandra Bullock?  George and Sandy (to a degree) do give a nice performance, but nothing that would get you teetering on your seat and clawing at your partner in tense frenzy.  Special effects?  Again, they were nice, well-crafted and unremarkably typical of so many films that have come before it (Sunshine, Armageddon, Serenity, etc., etc.)  So what else?

It may have been how the movie pretended to give a visceral and realistic representation of a catastrophic accident in space, but pretty much ignored all aspects of physics whenever the plot needed it too – I particularly liked the way in which a place that is known to not have any gravity, suddenly gets a dose of gravity in order to provide a sentimental moment (exactly why couldn’t Sandra hold on to George??).  I also liked how the two astronauts, who you could assume have spent a significant amount of time together in training for their mission, seemed to know absolutely nothing about each other.  Is that realistic?  Is it what the director, Alfonso Cuarón, was going for?  Is it even remotely plausible?  Or is it another loophole taken in order to flesh out the plot?  Shit, even the guys in Deep Impact shared a beer and spent time getting to know each other before they took to the skies.

And no matter how hard I tried, I could not get close to Sandra Bullock’s character.  How the fuck can you have a half-hearted astronaut?  Everything about her felt like a student working in Blockbusters, when in fact they really wanted to get back to campus and do something they actually enjoyed.  The first five minutes where you watch her try to repair a satellite, moan about not getting it done and huffing and puffing about how difficult and time consuming it is, made me pray for the accident to come and kill her!  Do NASA really employ 14 year-old, whiney, obnoxious, emo car mechanics to fix their space shit?  I’m no expert… but I’m guessing they don’t – so fuck off back to Twilight!

I could go on but I’m starting to bore myself again; and quite frankly, this film stank out my living room so much I actually started to realise how good Elysium was!

Anyway, with the end credits of Gravity, my weekend of sci-fi was terminated with the resounding roar of an Airbus 777 carrying sick babies from Africa, plunge into a special needs school as it was being visited by the entire Royal family.  It was fucking monstrous, grotesque to the extreme and wholly implausible.  And if this is the state of current sci-fi, then we shouldn’t be surprised by the countless comic book movies appropriating the genre.

Thank fuck for television… and its repeats of Star Trek, X-Files and Firefly!

Paul Millard 2014

Oh… and here’s Mary Louise-Parker

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The Wolf of Wall Street

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I love films that look at excessive behaviour, whether it is gangsters, people who used to work for gangsters, or biopics about dead people – The Doors (Jim Morrison), Man on the Moon (Andy Kaufman), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (a few are dead, the rest are in prison).  In fact, I was frequently reminded of The Smartest Guys in the Room when watching The Wolf of Wall Street.

For those not acquainted with the documentary, The Smartest Guys (as I’m now going to term it), is an absolute powerhouse of a movie, detailing the rise and fall of what was America’s most innovative company, Enron – a business with a one-time value of an estimated $100 billion.  It encapsulated the realisation of the American dream, and was promptly uncovered as being nothing more than a massive criminal conspiracy.  An epic smoke and mirrors show, all conducted by some very, very clever men – with testicles the size of medicine balls.

With a similar swagger, The Wolf of Wall Street is all about the excess and the conspiracy, fun and decline, instant fortune and rapid failure.

I loved every second of it, and was immediately inspired to re-watch.  However, that pleasure will have to be taken another time, partly as a result of the three hour running time, but mainly due to the damage my four year-old boy would sustain if walking in on me watching this film.  For a Marty Scorsese film there is hardly any violence, but the language and graphic sex depicted throughout is outrageous – and utterly fantastic.

So, whilst I’m all in on the sex and expletives, the prospect of my son overhearing some of this film and then calling me a ‘cocksucker’ over the breakfast table, is not desirable.

Based on the true antics of one time Wall Street titan, Jordan Belfort, this movie tells a very simple tale of greed and excess, while offering a loud ‘F-You’ to any molecule of morality or realised consequence of action.  As a Wall Street broker, Jordan Belfort spun a web of bollocks like no other.  If any of this portrayal is accurate, and I’m pretty sure most of it is, then this guy was a virtuoso in the field of unquenchable demand from a pool of illusionary supply.

This film’s vision of greed is only matched by its utter entrenchment towards excess.  In fact, the necessity of sexual conquest and fanatical drug use often overpowers the ability to successfully perpetuate the crimes Belfort and his army of clones are chained too.

In typical fashion for such films, the decline is eventually realised and as the wheels fall off the fun-bus, poor old Jordan loses everything (to a degree).  Roll credits.  I don’t mean to be flippant, but that’s exactly what happens.  This film is a very basic, one dimensional telling of an all too familiar rise and fall story.  In some hands this would be a serious problem, but with Martin Scorsese it’s an absolute joy to behold, much like Goodfellas.

I think we’ve all heard how good Leonardo DiCaprio is, and the balls-out performance he gives, so much so that I really have nothing more to add.  He is immense and totally sells the shit-bag character of Belfort perfectly.  In fact, I’ll extend that to all those around him, even the usually awful Jonah Hill puts in a decent turn – clearly, working with people other than the vomit-inducing Michael Cera and that talentless twerp, McLovin’, helps his nauseating attempts to remain relevant.  Keep working with real talent, Jonah, and you might just survive the oblivion usually reserved for your type.

However, with source material provided by Terrance Winter, and based on Belfort’s own book, I would defy any actor to not have a hoot when speaking this dialogue.  The blackness of the comedy is a welcome break from the usual frat-pack stuff, and is akin to Seven Psychopaths and the works of Joseph Heller and early Coen Brothers.

DiCaprio is a force of nature when delivering his sales speeches, Johan and crew are equally memorable with their episodes of living in overabundance, even Matthew McConaughey has a cameo that is up there with Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross – yet another film about the quagmire world of vicious sales and vulgar sales people.  In fact, the pleasurable assassination of sickening sales drones is a ripe topic to poke a shitty stick at.  Speaking from the safety of personal experience, your average sales person is perhaps the perfect example of base arrogance with a slimy, snake-oil void of charm or empathy.  Whilst they may weave a picture of familiar friendship and helpful requirement, the reality is more akin to the arena of prostitution – but without the integrity or valour of screwing someone honestly.

It’s clearly a perspective Hollywood loves, with the likes of the aforementioned Glengarry Glen Ross, The Wall Street movies, Boiler Room, Tin Men, and to a lesser extent, Death of a Salesman and Jerry Maguire.

With The Wolf of Wall Street, this interpretation of greed dominating veracity is almost faultless.  Granted, you are not going to see any original use of lighting, camera position, or a more diegetic soundscape.  The story is very linear and seldom strays from what you already know is coming, and the acting – which is solid – is not breaking any new grounds or challenging the craft.

With this said, it’s a testament to the film that none of the above actually matters, and would only detract away from the real focus of the film – an A to Z route map of the glory of excess and egocentric bullshit, and the stark recognition of its consequences.

Paul Millard 2014

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A Christmas Evening, With Fish and Tits

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It was just before Christmas when myself, and my wife, took the decision to do a movie double-bill one evening.  Our son was safely in bed and we were free agents to watch whatever we fancied.  We weren’t going to watch yet another episode of that Welsh fire-fighter bloke who appears to live in the most flammable fucking town on the planet, or those American kids who morph into plastic toys that look gay and shit.  Oh no… we could be masters of our own viewing!

So, with such time on our hands what masterpiece did we decide to watch?  Yep, you guessed it; we chose Piranha 3D and Piranha 3DD.

We decided on these films for two very sound reasons.  I really wanted to see Kelly Brook in a sexy bikini, and I thought my wife would really want to see Kelly Brook in a sexy bikini.

To raise the stakes a little higher, we also watched these films whilst building one of those online photo albums as a Christmas present for my parents.  Different, huh?  You won’t get this kind of film critique from those stale, uninspiring hacks over at Empire, and as for Total Film, they are little more than a fucking poster magazine at this point and therefore no real competition when it comes to unique movie reviewing.

Anyway, back to the movie…

The lovely Kelly Brook only appears in the first film, and whilst she was truly amazing in that bikini, to say nothing of her poignant acting throughout the stirring underwater lesbian scenes, I was truly surprised by how good this movie turned out.

First off, any film that starts with Richard Dreyfuss, rowing a boat whilst whistling “Show Me The Way To Go Home”, already scores big with me as a hard-core Jaws fan.  However, whilst it was nice to see him, the appearance is short lived as it seems a Great White Shark, and a prissy Robert Shaw, is no match for a bunch of angry fish.

The plot is easy to reach.  An annual spring party held on the postcard perfect Lake Victoria falls foul to some bad joojoo, and a pack of prehistoric piranha set about fucking up the incredibly young and beautiful people dipping their toes.  That’s pretty much it.

It’s hard to discuss this film without falling into a dozen clichés and nods towards the B-movie creature features that inspired its remake… but that’s the point, this film has its fins firmly in that wheelhouse and is actively looking to be compared to those that came before.

Fun, gory and at times a little scary… and I’m not referring to the acting.  Although, whilst we are on the subject, the crappiness of the performances is only matched by the dreadfully stereotyped characters these luvvies are trying to inhabit.  Let’s be honest, there’s more depth to a fridge drip tray than there is to the portrayal of a sexed-up, Girls Gone Wild video director who only seems concerned about the prospect of the piranhas eating his dick.

This being said, the film manages to bag a few good actors.  Kelly Brook is obviously in a class of her own (and is perhaps best suited to silent movies), but the director, Alexandre Aja, managed to sign up Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd, to say nothing of the aforementioned Ricky Dreyfuss.  Hell, they even got a porn star, Riley Steele, to eventually sleep with da fishes.

As the credits rolled, and with thirty pages of the online photo album done, my wife looked at me and we both gave an approving nod – we liked this one.  Piranha 3D feels like the kind of movie that is destined to become a true cult classic… but you may need to wait another 15 years for the film to reach that pinnacle.  Enjoyably gruesome with some genuinely funny moments, and all aided by two of the sexiest women on the planet making out… underwater.  Enough said.

Made a few years after Piranha 3D, Piranha 3DD ushered in a new director in John Gulager, and a grand total of five different writers, all geared up to make a worthy sequel.  However, with so many people involved in penning this script I’m still unsure how they all managed to miss the point of a B-movie, and make a truly fucking awful mess of a film.

This time, Nemo and his friends set their tiny eyes on a Wet ‘n Wild type waterpark, and manage to do a pretty good job messing shit up for all the amazingly young and still beautiful-looking people dipping their toes… again.  However, that’s where all the fun ends.  It’s a film that looks half decent on paper, but desperate and trite on celluloid.

I’ll be honest, ten minutes into the film I gave up on the plot, gave up on the characters, I even gave up checking out the rack on the lovely ladies, and concentrated more on cropping the photos for my online album.  It’s that bad.

The Richard Dreyfuss cold open from the first film is replaced with a similar manoeuvre employing Gary Busey.  So even before the film starts, the audience is pretty much slapped with a notice telling you that zero thought or originality has gone into this, and instead the writers have tweaked the nipples of the first film to see if anyone notices.

Talking of cast, it’s once again a veiled version of the original.  Christopher Lloyd is still here, as is Ving Rhames, but the rest are about as forgettable as that thing I just forgot about.  The heroine, played by Danielle Panabaker is watchable, but this is largely due to Danielle being as cute as a button, and from her work in the Friday the 13th remake and The Crazies.

Even the attendance of David Koechner (Champ Kind from Anchorman), fails to divert your attention away from this lazy river of dog shit.  I’m genuinely staggered by how much this film choked, and if I’m being honest, a little disappointed and cheated.

With the rise of films like Sharknado, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Big Ass Spider, the continued health of the modern day creature feature is not in question – however, the continued adventures of the piranha are dangerously close to being filleted, and may require the industry standard reboot in another five years in order to stay appetising.

And with that, our piranha double bill evening was over.  The first fishy tale was a delight, and one I will revisit at some point – if only to watch Kelly again – the second movie was a big, fat red herring, dipped in mouldy breadcrumbs and eaten by a shabby homeless person who has a faint smell of piss on his fingers.

… and if you are curious, my parents loved the photo album.

Paul Millard 2014

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Kelly Brook Photo1

There’s Snow Love like Frozen Love

People of a religious persuasion call it enlightenment, drunks call it a moment of clarity; but on a Sunday morning a few months ago, in a packed cinema, I had what I’m going to call the potential start date of my mid-life crisis.

Over the weekend I took my 4 year-old to the cinema to catch a movie.  My wife wanted us out of the house for whatever reason and it was too early to take the kid to the bar.  I considered the local ‘dirt’ park (the name I use to describe the disused shithole park close to our house that seems filled with climbing frames designed to kill children, and packs of drug-addicts trying to dismount the see-saws without sustaining concussions), but I wasn’t in the mood to stand around that place in the rain, and my son hadn’t had a tetanus shot for a while.  So with pick ‘n’ mix selected, bottles of water at the ready, and our stupidly priced tickets collected, we were ready to settle down in a giant-ass room full of screaming kids, to watch Disney’s latest offering, Frozen.

By the way, the cost of movie tickets is on my shit-list, I’m not finished with that topic by a long stretch.  Two tickets, a few bottles of water and some sweets racks up to £30.00 – are you fucking kidding me, that’s almost the same price the kids pay for a few hits of hillbilly heroin at the aforementioned ‘dirt’ park.  Anyway, that’s for another time.

So, the film starts… and it’s excruciating.  Talk about so sweet you’re giving me tooth-ache, within ten minutes my teeth had been extracted and replaced with a wooden set.  Disney know how to play an audience, no shit, they are fucking masters at it.  I’m not sure how many heart-strings we have, but they were giving a virtuoso performance with this movie.  The setting, the cutesy dialogue, the songs, the lovable snowman, this thing was taking no prisoners and was not going to stop until every man, woman and child in the place was crying little Disney-hallmarked tears for the big sentimental ending.

I’m forty-two, and pretty jaded on this shit.  I’ve been watching movies for a long time, and I’ve given my half-assed opinion on them in a ton of ways.   Yes, I handed over some loot for a prized Monsters University baseball cap on a recent hike to Disneyworld, but that movie had Billy Crystal, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi in it – Billy is a god, and the other two frequently appear in Coen Brothers films.  For all intent and purpose, I could be watching a weird Barton Fink’esque film based on a dream some kid has about monsters in their closet.  No shame in that.

Anyway, I’m sat in my chair and about half-way through the movie.  My kid is loving it, laughing at the right moments, and is already talking about the best bits.  I’m listening to his chatter and playing with my phone, checking IMDB to see how long this movie goes on for, and in relation to the amount of time I’ve already served.  Then it happens…

A princess by the name of Elsa gets thrown out of the kingdom or something, heads to a mountain and builds a huge ice palace – I’m guessing without any prior planning permission or local council involvement.  The fucking singing starts once again about how free she feels and stuff, and I look up from my phone just as this computer generated character loosens her alluring blonde hair, sweeps her perfectly-formed head, and with the most wondrous eyes, stares at the camera.  She stares at me!

It’s at this point I suddenly become more interested in this film than pretty much anything else I have ever been cognitively aware of… ever.  My kid could have wandered off and started eating popcorn from the fucking floor whilst taking a piss against the old woman in row H, I would never have noticed.  I was mesmerized by the goddess on the screen.

From this moment my eyes did not leave the screen.  Fuck, I don’t even remember blinking.  The plot, the singing, the snow shit, all of that dissolved and my complete being was now hopelessly linked to the possibility of her next scene stealing appearance.  She was the Princess Elsa, and I was now wrapped within complete devotion.

The film ends, and we leave the place.  I go home and my wife asks about the movie.  My son gives it the full low-down and rants on the finer details of the snow monster fight and how the Princess punches the baddie and knocks him into the water – for the record, that guy is a real fucking asshole, and clearly has no understanding on how to treat a princess.

Anyway, when my wife asks me about the flick, all I can muster is that the animation was very good.  That’s all I had.  Why – because to explain my new romance with Princess Elsa felt wrong, forbidden, alarmingly creepy and probably grounds for committal to the local cuckoo hatch.  How is it possible?  In the space of one hour and forty minutes my love has somehow waned for my long-suffering partner, and defected to something that was drawn by a fucking twenty year-old Disney intern, and only exists on a hard-drive in Hollywood!

Since then I have pretty much Googled the words ‘Princess Elsa’ every day, I’ve downloaded some jpegs of her to keep in my wallet, and have managed to persuade a few friends to watch the movie – for the sole purpose of checking out the blonde hottie wearing the long dress in the ice palace scene, who I will eventually marry in a ceremony probably attended by Pluto, Mary Poppins and a whole fucking team of psychiatrists.

In other words, the kaleidoscope of women I fantasize about has just included the most unobtainable of the species… those that don’t actually fucking exist.

Paul Millard 2014

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