Living in India, I have cable TV which has blessed me with 10 sports channels, at least one of which will be showing live action football on Saturday or Sunday. This means I’m able to watch the Premiership matches which you guys in the UK can’t, such as the 3pm Saturday matches.
It also gives me 3 English movie channels, so when there’s no football, there’s likely to be at least one half watchable movie on.
For anyone that knows me, my taste in films tend to be action, comedy, thrillers with a healthy dose of escapism (think Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, King Kong – all of which are incredible movies by the way!) and a suspension of reality for a few hours.
Unfortunately the movie channels seem to be obsessed with terrible Jean Claude Van Damme straight to TV films (Until Death and Double Impact registering highly crappy on the crap-o-meter scale) which make you feel a worse person after watching them.
There have, however, been some real gems. These are films that I would never have chosen to watch in a million years, either because they are boring ‘life’ films or foreign independent films, but watched them because they were on, and got drawn in and hooked.
Wasabi – 2001
Definitely not a fan of foreign (ie. in a language other than English) films, so would do everything I can to avoid watching them. However, the Wasabi film was dubbed in to English, so made it watchable. It tells the story of an old French spy who goes back to Japan and discovers he has a tear-away teenage daughter he never knew about.
While getting to know his teenage daughter (who doesn’t know that he’s her Dad until much later in the film), he’s also trying to discover the killers of her mother.
It scores good points because it’s actually quite funny and the scripting is excellent. It’s very tongue in cheek, so the suspension of reality in the gun battles and some of the visual gags makes it acceptable. It stars Jean Reno who has been in quite a few English movies as well.
Little Miss Sunshine – 2006
Wow, never my life would I thought I’d sit down and watch a film like this. A dysfunctional family travel to a young girl beauty pagent. Honestly, that’s all that happens.
Each family member is a real character; the Dad is an unsuccessful success coach who preaches positive attitudes to everything and has an unnerving positive approach to every situation.
The Grandfather is an aging rebel who likes his women and booze and has very little social etiquette, going through life on his own terms.
The suicidal gay brother-in-law who has just been released from hospital after an unsuccessful suicide attempt when he finds out his lover is cheating on him with another man.
The gothic teenage guy who is full of angst and hates his family. He has taken a vow of silence in protest and communicates by writing in a pad of paper. Despite this, it’s his dream to become a pilot.
The mum, who seems relatively normal in the family, and works hard as the mediator between the other grown ups. She is played by Toni Collette and looks a million times better than in About A Boy – it’s hard to believe that she’s the same woman. In About A Boy she has a proper British accent, in this film she has a proper American accent, but she was actually born and brought up in Australia…who knew?
Finally you have the chubby young daughter with huge glasses. It’s her dream to win a beauty pagent.
The story revolves around the family’s road trip to the Little Miss Sunshine pagent and how they all come together as a family, despite all the setbacks.
The film really is laugh out loud in places and it does keep you on the edge of the seat to find out if the young daughter actually gets to star and win the beauty pagent.
Juno – 2007
Given all the crappy teen flicks that are out there, you could be forgiven for thinking that this might be lumped in with them. Not so. Juno is about a 16 year old girl who discovers that she’s pregnant (“how did that happen” “the usual way”). The story centres on what she decides to do and everything that she has go through during a teenage pregnancy.
Once again, never would I have thought I’d sit down and watch, let alone enjoy a film about teenage pregnancy.
The mother to be is very much a happy-go-lucky girl, not getting depressed, just accepts the situation and gets on with her life. She doesn’t expect the father to get involved and doesn’t resent him for what happened. As she goes through pregnancy, she grows up a lot and becomes a lot more mature.
The film is quite funny, not laugh out loud funny, but entertaining. The scripting and dialogue is spot on for American teenage girls (“and she was like, totally, oh my god” “and i was like, I know! crazy freaky huh?”) and the acting and conversations seem entirely natural. What’s also refreshing is the teenagers in the movies are actual teenagers in real life, none of the 20 somethings you get in other teen-flicks.
Juno has been absolutely slated for being a bad movie, with crappy dialogue, I guess I watched a different version to all those people!