Beowulf and Grendel
Two guys share a flat in New York. One’s totally OCD; the other’s a slob. It’s that much-loved American genre, two gay guys pretending to be straight. [Er, you do realise that that’s the plot to The Odd Couple, don’t you? Looks like I’ll have to do this one myself. –ed.]
The film is based on the Old English epic poem, Beowulf. The elements are there in one form or another, but now we have the girl as well. The filming was done in Iceland often at dawn or dusk (the latter seems more likely) which gives the lighting a rather harsh quality for no apparent reason. The monsters, namely Grendel and his mum, were more human than I would’ve portrayed them, although they’re meant to be the descendants of Cain. If you don’t see it, you won’t miss it.
Italian schoolgirl lives with her mum and, predictably, dotty gran. Her father is always away on business. For some reason (to do with the absentee father?), the girl turns into an überslut. (It runs in the family because granny seems to have been an überslut in her day.) Predictably, things get out of hand when she ends up in the clutches of some Net perv just at about the time granny dies. (Now who wasn’t expecting that to happen?) Melissa stops being an überslut. Yawn. This is another one of those sorts of films which Italian directors seem to have a penchant for.
Mike Judge’s take on life in an American office cubicle. Corporate cog, Peter, decides he’s had enough of life on the treadmill, and with his two programmmer friends rips off the company payroll alla Superman III. Things don’t quite go as planned, and Peter ends up in a senior management position after impressing two somewhat clueless efficiency experts with his honesty. As a minor subplot, Peter’s new girlfriend, played by Jennifer Aniston, is a waitress in a restaurant where her working life kind of parallels his.
Gary Cole is excellent as the boss who is a complete dick. I assume Stephen Root is Mike Judge’s best friend. Is there anything the latter has done that the former hasn’t been in?
My copy of this particular piece of cinematic poo appears to have been pirated from a Korean copy and has the baffling catchphrase on the cover “Let’s be made as smile”. And that’s almost the only funny thing about this film, and it’s not even in the film. A random group of people is informed that there is US$2 million in a locker at the railway station in Silvercity. First person there gets the money. In fact, a group of rich people is betting on the outcome. Hijinks ensue. Eventually, they recover the money, but then hand it over to charity. Lame.
This is dire. The best moment is when Jon Lovitz, driving around in Hitler’s limo, crashes into a reunion of WWII vets and rants at them like der Führer. But that’s it. John Cleese is dreadful, and Rowan Atkinson’s Italian was irritatingly unfunny. In fact, when was Atkinson last actually even faintly amusing?
The Closet (Le Placard)
Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) is a boring little man working in a condom factory. After he learns that he’s going to be sacked, his neighbour suggests that he should pretend to be gay. The manager of the factory doesn’t want to risk censure, and Pignon’s job is safe. Meanwhile, the rugby-playing office bully, Santini (Gerard Depardieu), is tricked by his co-workers into being nice to Pignon to save his own job.
I’d describe this as an alimony film. Ex-wives were demanding new Mercedes; the boys made this film. It’s probably a little funnier in French, but I doubt whether it’s that funny. Pray that Hollywood doesn’t do an American version.