Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Way Back

Um... so there's these guys, yeah, and they're like stuck in some, y'know, Gulag or somethin', out in, like Russia during World War 2? And they like escape and, like, have to walk a long long way to, um, freedom? And so we see them walking, and walking, and then... walking? And I'm like, why is there an American in this movie again?

Nice to see Peter Weir back at the helm directing again after a long break. And this is a pretty decent film, though not a great deal happens except for the walking. And boy, but do they walk!  Occasionally they fall over, to be fair. But then they get back up, goddamit, and... start walking again.

Some fine performances by Ed "grizzled" Harris and Colin "Sovietski accentski" Farrell, and all in all the time passes amiably enough. Apparently there's all manner of hoo-hah over whether or not it's a true story, but it doesn't really matter. The grimness of life under Stalin is well portrayed, and you do care about the characters.

Yes, but what about the mathski, tovarisch?
Niet, overall.  It does strike me that we could all be working out just how long it takes a man/woman to walk from Siberia to Tibet, but I'm not sure multimap or Tom-Tom does that route for you ("at the next inaccessible and impassable mountain peak, turn right"). Suffice it to say, it's a wee while. The whole film, in fact...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Tourist (part two)

OK then, first up, to the film itself.  Well, we can get rid of this pretty quickly.  It's pretty much a heap of hooey.
Damn, where the hell did I leave those jotters?

Which is not to say that it's all that bad, mind you - I mean, it's meant to be a bit of fluff, after all.  The time passes amiably enough, and I felt generally well-disposed to the movie.  But it could have been so much more.  Clearly they were hoping for some great chemistry between Depp and Angelippy, but their scenes together don't exactly sparkle.  If the idea was to go for the kind of on-screen sparring and quick-fire quippage of, say, Howard Hawks in his prime, then we're definitely talking null points here. If, on the other hand, they were looking to nod in the direction of Hitchcock and North By Northwest (and I think they were - mistaken identity and all that) then it all needed to be much more thrilling and exciting.  Which it wasn't.

I don't want to give away much of what is a slender plot, but I will say that the movie ends on quite a wrong note for me.  Not convinced at all.

Show Me The Maths Teacher
But enough of this - we're here to see how JD performs as a maths teacher, aren't we?  Hell yeah.  So let's see...

First up, and we can't avoid this, and it pains me to say it, but: he probably has way too much fashion sense.  I mean, just look at that picture, what with the co-ordinated colours and everything.  Can you see any leather patches on that overcoat?  Where's the Wallace and Gromit novelty tie?  And of course he's way too good looking.  I'm all for building up the image of math(s) teachers but this is setting the bar way too high.  Shouldn't he at least have specs?  (Later on in the movie we see JD's character Frank wearing blue pyjamas with a white stripe, but even this doesn't help, as the Deppster is a man who can look cool even in cotton jim-jams.)

Secondly, and more importantly, does he act like a math(s) teacher?  In three words: nope, nope, (and) nope.  Not once in the movie does our hero mark any jotters.  Not once.  We first meet him on a train, where he has a table to himself and he's sat reading a book.  Hello?  Shouldn't he have some orange jotters about him, and be half-way through a back-log of Higher homework?  I think so.  And while we're here, that book he's reading?  Crime novel.  Crime novel.  Shouldn't it be The Doctor Who Episode Guide?

I hate to say it, but I think someone somewhere plucked "math teacher" out of a list of random occupations, when the question was asked regarding JD's background, and that was it.  There is not one bit (I'm actually being serious here) in the film where anything at all is made of him being a teacher, let alone a Queen of the Sciences one.  So, um, why bother?  If you're going to make him a math(s) teacher, then at least do it properly.

Yes, Frank, but what if it's not a right-angled triangle?
Far be it from me to suggest script changes, but when they first meet on the train, couldn't we have had a bit where Johnny explains Pythagoras' Theorem to Angelina on the back of a napkin?  Would that have been so hard?  As things are, we don't even see him doing so much as dividing by two when working out the bill.  Yeesh.

So, final mark: 3 out of 5, and see me for more homework.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Tourist (part one)

What? What?? What???

Yes indeed, laydees an' gennelmen, we are indeed back. The year-plus-long hiatus is finally over. "Maths teacher goes to the movies" is now indeed, in da house. Oh yes.

"But, why?" I can hear you ask. "What could possibly have happened, to cause maths teacher to take arms up again against oppression, and fight for truth, justice and the mathematical way?"

Why, indeed, my friends. What can I say, but there are times when you simply have to answer the call (stop sniggering at the back there); times when there is nothing else to be done, but to come - however reluctantly - out of retirement, and pick up the red pen of mathematical righteousness, the graphic calculator of movie worthwhileness, the protractor of somewhat fading shabbiness, and say, as have so many before me, those simple four words:

"Johnny Depp - maths teacher?"

Aye, that'll be chocolate
In our house, where JD is known as "The Gorgeous Johnny Depp" by the Good Doctor, there was a fair bit of excitement at the news that Jack Sparrow was going to play a maths, sorry, math teacher in the movie "The Tourist". Excitement from the Good Doctor, for all the usual reasons (mainly to do with that wispy beard thing he tends to sport, and the smouldering eyes, and - heck, work it out for yourself, or ask a nearby female), but also of course excitement from me. The Deppster as a maths, sorry, math teacher - yah beezer! Just think of the kudos that will now attach itself to our humble profession! Think of the sales of patched-at-the-elbow tweed jackets which will ensue! The respect which pupils will show us, as they gaze in wonder at their maths, sorry, math textbooks! Teacher recruitment crisis be gone!!

But, wait a minute, what's that you say? Angelina Jolie is also in the movie, playing a woman who looks exactly like Angelina Jolie? Well, gosh darn it, and excuse me while I do my best not to make the immediate gag about there now being three reasons to see the film. Oops.

And hey, who cares if the reviews seem to have been a tad in the dumpster for the Deppster over this movie? How can I not see it? And how can I not comment on it?

Jings, but this is exciting. So exciting, in fact, that I'm going to end here, and post my actual, proper, answers at the back of the book review a tad later on.