Thursday, 19 April 2012

Smokey and the Bandit

The basics 

Smokey and the Bandit is an American film which came out in 1977. This was Hal Needham’s directorial debut with a film that he wrote himself, at this point in time he was one of the highest paid stuntman and stunt coordinators. This film is about cars, trucks, CB radios, sticking it to authoritarian figures, romance and just some good old boys doing what they do best. 

What is this film about?

Once upon a time there was a trucking legend called Bo Darville, aka The Bandit. He is soon confronted by a father and son tycoon team, big and little Enos who have a challenge for him and $80,000 if he does it. They are having a party and they need some beer, about 400 cases of Coors should do it and they need him to go get it. To do this he will have to get the beer from Texarkana, Texas and bring it back to Atlanta, Georgia in 28 hours and that’s not even the main problem. The main problem is that it is illegal to transport beer east of Texas. With his partner Cledus, The Snowman; in the truck and Bandit in a Trans Am (car) being the run blocker, distracting the cops or Smokey’s they set off and get those 18 wheels a rolling.

My views on it

Back in the 60’s and 70’s a new genre started to form as it started to branch away from its parent genre ‘action’ and this new genre was the car film. Great action films started to come out around this time that started to use more popular cars and throw in a few good chase scenes as well. In most of these films the car itself became just as big and famous as the actors using it. For example we have the Ford Mustang in Bullitt (1968), the Dodge Challenger in Vanishing Point (1971) and who could forget Mini Coopers in The Italian Job (1969). So it seemed that the car film was only going to be a subgenre to action but not for long, because then came Smokey and The Bandit. Smokey and The Bandit was one of the first major car films to come out that wasn’t an action movie, it was a comedy, and due to this it severed the link the car film had to action and for once made it stand on its own two feet. This is one of the reasons this film is great as it was one of the pioneers to fully cement this genre.

Due to this film being a comedy and not an action it brought a new fresh look at the classic ‘chase scene’ itself. Because it wasn’t an action film the chase scenes (which there is plenty of) did lose some of their thrill. They were less dramatic and less intense then their predecessors but for what it lost it gained a lot more. What it gained was the element of fun and this was great. It made me smile every time Bandit distracted the cops, tried to hide or when he did a jump. If this film was an action film, due to the sheer amount of driving in it, it would have got monotonous; it would have been one long action scene that would just get dull. As it’s a comedy you get the thrill of the chase, the element of comedy that came with it, the witty dialogue between the characters, mainly Bandit and Snowman and just enough room to throw in some romance as well.

Another one of the great things about this film is this introduction into the world of CB radio. The community in this film is based around CB radio as Bandit and Snowman receive help from anyone who can get them on the radio waves. This sense of community in this film is very interesting and because of this and the slang they use in it, it gives you a really good feel for the time, place and plot in which this film is set.

All in all I like this film but it does have its flaws. The plot is thin; the aspect of the challenge that is set at the beginning of the film (doing it in 28 hours) is lost very quickly and if you don’t like cars then don’t even bother as this film is about 90% driving.  But for me this film is a humble slice of Americana, full of simple pleasures and Burt Reynolds. So what more could you want from just a car film.

Favourite Quote 

Buford T. Justice: [to his son] There's no way, *no* way that you came from *my* loins. Soon as I get home, first thing I'm gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth!

Rating 3.5/5

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Time Traveller's Wife

The basics 

The Time Traveller's Wife is the Award winning debut novel of American author Audrey Niffenegger, which was published in 2003. It was soon made it to a film in 2009 and was directed by Robert Schwentke. This film is about love, time travel, fate and in a strange way grooming.

What is this film about?

This film opens with a young boy (Henry) and his mum singing along in the car together as they drive through a snowy night. Suddenly the car is about to crash, and the little boy freaks out and ends up traveling back in time. He quickly reappears back in his own time where he is met by his older self, which explains to the boy that his mother has just died and that he is a time traveller. We follow the older Henry back to his time where he soon bumps in to a women he has never seen before, but she knows him very well. She manages to get him to have dinner with her, where she explains that she is in love with him, as she has known him all her life, also that she knows that he is a time traveller. She explains that this is all because a older version of him used to visit her a lot when she was growing up.

My views on it

One of the most interesting things about this film and what makes it different to most romance films, is in fact the element of time travel. Saying that this is the part of the film where it is heavily flawed. I will explain, in the film Henry claims that he cannot change what happened to this mum when he goes in to the past, he cannot save her. This presents to the audience the idea that he has no effect on the past, he is just simply a spectator of times gone by. But the film also presents the idea that he can change the past as well. As the older henry meets his future wife (Claire) several times when she growing up and this is what makes her fall for him and look for him when she is older. So because of this he does have an effect on the past. But yet there is more evidence that he doesn’t effect the past at all. When he does go back in time he starts off naked as his clothes can’t travel with him, so he has to break in to places and steal clothes and money just to get by. If he did effect the past this would have a butterfly effect and would alter future, even if just by a little but when he comes back to the present it is exactly how he left it. This goes to show that the time travel in this film is completely broken as it contradicts its self at every turn.  

Another problem with the time travel is that she first meets him when she was  younger and because of this she looks for him when she is older. Due to them meeting when they are older this is why he ends up going back to meet her when she is younger. This is broken as well as he never would have meet her in the past if she didn’t meet him when she was older and this would not have happen if he didn’t meet her when she was little.

Beside theses clear problems this film has, it is about this infinite loop that theses lovers are stuck in and that it will never change. It comes clear that their love story has been played out numerous times and that it is set to just repeat itself over and over again. So this story is based around this fate that has been created for them. Due to this it loses some of its romance for me. Because of this fate the character lose their free will, their choices are not really their own, their already prewritten. Without this element chaos and free will, the romance is cheapen. For me the great thing about love story’s is the ‘will they, wont they’ situation, the the magic of the off chance of them meeting, the fear of them breaking up and the joy of them getting back together. Without this situation, without this unpredictability that these could or could not happen the story just loses its thrill and the romance is less magical because of it.

I know I have ripped in to this film a lot but it has a few good things about it. The acting was good, the time travel element is an interesting take on the romance genre even if it didn’t really work and there are some heartfelt moments in this film which are great, my favourite is when he meets his daughter for the first time. So this film does have its good parts it’s just when you start to analyse it the cracks start to show.

Favourite Quote 

Clare Abshire: No. I didn't mean that. I just wanted to try it, to say it, to assert my own sense of free will, but my free will wants you.

Rating 2/5