It’s a celluloid jungle out there. We’ve all of us at one point got our wires crossed and settled down for a night in front of the box with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s peerless spy caper Notorious only to be confronted with workaday Biggie Smalls biopic… Notorious. Even the most diligent film fan can often find it tricky to differentiate between the deluge of similarly titled claptrap out there, but here are a few that you most definitely don’t want to mix and match…
The Proposition - The Proposal
True story: ERH was on a plane recently, coming home from its holidays (read: a grim and barren sex-tour of the Benelux Countries). Everything was proceeding with its usual despicable monotony, until, from deep within the swirling cocktail of gin-shivers, flop sweat and past-its-best testosterone that was coursing through our body, we mistook the scheduled in-flight movie to be John Hillcoat’s grisly Ocker revenge Western, The Proposition*. We were not in the mood. Luckily, icky Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds rom-com The Proposal - despite making Failure to Launch look like Brecht on toast – made it all better. ERH doesn't know much about Reynolds, but the looks of disorientation, acute discomfort and near-tearful resignation that played across his face throughout the entire film made us feel that we weren’t alone. Not… so terribly… alone…
*Do Not To Be Also Confused With...
Hillcoat’s Ghosts of the Civil Dead and Bill Cosby’s Ghost Dad
Shoah – Showgirls
Too Soon? Yes..? No..? Have the scars still not healed? ERH was given to understand it had become a cult classic that’s all the rage within the ‘camp’ community, who regularly clan together for theme evenings that include dressing up as their favourite characters and joyously singing along with the catchy tunes. The other, of course, is an unremittingly bleak and emotionally exhausting Paul Verhoeven atrocity that many still find too harrowing to sit through.
Knight and Day – Day For Night
A film within a film about the making of James Mangold’s Cameron/Cruise howler might have made for a revealing insight as to how the modern blockbuster is shunted together out of a flyblown clusterfuck of bargain-bucket ideas, shameless product placement, green-screen effrontery and sheer bloody mindedness. As it is we have to content ourselves with Truffaut’s romantic hymn to the production process, which - to be honest - would have benefited greatly from a few 4X4s flipping over lengthwise and a couple of exploding taco stands.
Feds – Reds
Sometimes the tiniest grain of sand can trip you up: in Terry Gilliam’s sparkling clockpunk bureaucratopia Brazil, a miniscule typographic error sets off a chain reaction that explodes into mayhem, madness and state-sponsored murder. In the real world, one wrong keystroke into your Lovefilm account and your Friday night no longer consists of a five-hour lecture on blow-dried Bolshevism, but a slapdash eighty-minute cackfest starring TV-Movie parolee Rebecca DeMornay. Enjoy.
Cinema Paradiso – Guest House Paradiso
Oh, the magic! Oh, the emotion! Oh, the pure joy of cinema! The laughter, the tears, the misty-eyed nostalgia for a wholly imagined pastoral Arcadia! Oh, the Vesuvian vomit! Oh, the pan-fighting! Oh, the red rubber mankinis! If one, both or neither the Italian mini-masterpiece nor Rik and Ade’s hopeless fistic folly reduces you to a puddle of salty tears, then you’re not plumbed in right.
Tootsie – Tsotsi
Don’t eff this one up, as a Sunday afternoon under the duvet with a box of Maltesers, a Skol Superstrength spritzer and some mild – but not completely unwelcome - sexual disorientation watching a frocked-up Dustin Hoffman teetering through the pastel thrum of Eighties Broadway is a very different prospect than one spent quivering and cowering amid the diesel fumes, gang violence and squalor of Soweto slumland. Come to think of it, both are pretty high on the Yikes!-o-meter…
The Thin Red Line – The Thin Blue Line
Pretty gloomy either way, but at least Errol Morris’s groundbreaking crime doc doesn’t entirely consist of sweaty pretty-boys with $100 buzzcuts staring at ferns. Your call on this one.
Babe – Babel
One is a critical smash and box-office behemoth that suggested that we’re not all that different under the skin; that our hopes, fears, dreams are all crystalline droplets from the same communal wellspring of shared experience that will all eventually flow together to join the great river of life. The other - that’s right we’re pulling the same shit twice – is about Brad Pitt’s abortive Moroccan gap-year. We know which one we’re watching!
We all love to fly by the seat of our pants now and again, but sometimes it really pays to check the guide books - although, for some, being tortured with a power-drill is infinitely preferable to witnessing Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby mercilessly ba-ba-ba boom their way through an entire calendar of public holiday-infested showtunes with the likes of ‘White Christmas’, adenoidal valentine ‘Be Careful, It’s My Heart’ and the frankly staggering blackface turn ‘Abraham’ they put on to celebrate – and you’ll like this! – Lincoln’s birthday.
Want to keep the anklebiters quiet while you sleep off one of your special ‘Saturday Morning Headaches’? Well, plonk them in front of either of these little beauties and it’s unlikely you’ll hear a peep put of them until ‘Football Focus’ starts…
Do Not To Be Also Confused Also With…
84 Charing Cross Road - 10 Rillington Place
Runaway – The Runaways
The Aviator – The Navigator
Lenny – Kenny
The Road - The Road (to Morocco)
Any more for any more...?