Monday, 1 December 2014

The Things That Make Life Feel Better Awards... No.2: Scarlett Johanssen

I've drawn a few cartoons but, as is usual with the stuff I think my best, I'm giving 'Private Eye' a chance before I post them here. I'm also waiting for an engineer to come and install a new modem, so I'm not sure how much internet connection I'll have today/this week. I'm also trying to get a new build of my game finished, complete with one new shuffleboard mode and something completely new and feature packed. In other words: it's a new week, I'm really busy and I'm trying to start in a positive frame of mind.

This time, my positivity comes in the form of a film review. The film in question is Luc Besson's latest, 'Lucy', which stars [sigh] Scarlett Johansson. And I can say, without any fear of having to contradict myself later, that I've never seen a film that is so certain to split the audience. 'Lucy' is a film which you will either hate with a passion or you will adore it with an equal passion. It will be too highbrow for people who enjoy the lowbrow and too lowbrow for anybody who enjoys the highbrow. I can't think of another film which is bound to squeeze its audience in the middle.

Sitting down with it, I thought it was going to be another of his female assassin type movies like 'Leon' and (the film he didn't direct but did write) 'Colombiana'. I was so sure that, at only 90 minutes long, 'Lucy' was surely going to be a return to that 'Nikita' territory only this time in a more abbreviated and less satisfying form. Yet I couldn't have been more wrong and it turns out that it's now probably my favourite Luc Besson movie. I absolutely adored every moment.

It is, I know, complete hokum but Besson is great when he's being cleverly dumb and this film is both clever and dumb in about equal measure. It's also pretty violent throughout and commits pretty heavy GBH on the body of science. The whole film is based the pseudo science of the past, present, and future and, without giving the plot away, it follows the adventures of a young woman who undergoes a transformation that gives her access to 100% of the brain's capacity. I suppose it feels like one of those better 'Interzone' short stories but with a little added gunplay.

There are undoubtedly better movies out there. There are better science movies out there that excite you with the power of ideas. Yet something about this movie just clicked with me. I was never a huge fan of 'The Matrix', which revelled in the mystery of computers without any real grounding in computers. I much preferred 'Wargames' or (even better) 'The Falcon and the Snowman', which both capture the excitement of computers in much more tangible way. This too fell into the dumb movie trope of computer geniuses able to interact with Windows/OSX by hitting the keys are ridiculous speeds as screens pop up. This time I could forgive these sins because the genius doing all this was Scarlett Johansson.

Johansson carries the movie, beginning slightly ditzy and ending as... well, it's hard and probably wrong to describe. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for Scarlett Johansson. She doesn't have the usual looks of Hollywood beauties and that's much of her charm. She edges out of mainstream glamour and into something that's slightly left of centre and far more satisfying. In a way, she's perfect for this movie: which itself edges away from the centre ground to find something unique off to one side. This slightly off-kilter role seems the best for Johansson. I loved her in 'Scoop', which is my favourite recent Woody Allen movie and I loved it because of the Johansson character and she was one of the better things in the Terry Zwigoff movie, 'Ghost World'. In contrast, I find all the 'Avengers' movies as bland as hell and always think she's totally wasted in her minor role. I never liked 'Lost in Translation', despite my being a Bill Murray fan, but this I attribute my utter cynicism towards Sophia Coppola who, I know, had she a different father and name, wouldn't even be directing soap power commercials.

But now I'm getting too negative and it's still only Monday.

'Lucy' was dumb, quick, and violent yet also strangely poignant, bright, and with brilliant flares of style that Besson has made uniquely his own. I recommend it very highly in the same breath as admitting that you'll probably hate everything about it.

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