Odd Doublebill: Bad Teacher & Black Hawk Down

So yes, the other night I watched Bad Teacher followed by Black Hawk Down. Perhaps a word of explanation is in order- Bad Teacher because it was the latest rental from Lovefilm (I seem to remember dropping it onto my rental list after it’s popularity at the cinema over here made me curious). Black Hawk Down because a few nights previously whilst flicking channels just prior to bedtime, I stumbled on the film about three-quarters through, started to get hooked by it, and decided to grab the Blu-ray off its shelf come the weekend.

Anyway, Bad Teacher. Another Hollywood comedy that isn’t at all funny. You know, I remember reading about Billy Wilder and I A L Diamond, how they would sit down and endlessly work on the scripts for their films, fine-tuning and perfecting them prior to ever shooting them. And I am endlessly impressed by the genius comic timing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthiau, even though they make it look so effortless. There is an art to proper comedy. But nowadays it seems like everyone in LA thinks they can write/produce a comedy, and everyone in Equity thinks they are comedy actors. There is certainly a formulaic /path of least resistance feel to Bad Teacher. You can imagine the meeting where it got greenlit- “It’s Bad Santa– but with teachers!” That kind of genius brainstorming will no doubt get us  Bad Doctor and Bad Mother and all the rest at some later date. As usual for Hollywood, its a case where the idea/pitch comes first and the Script second. And it’s a truly dire script; predictable, routine and utterly devoid of laughs. As for the cast, well, I quite like Cameron Diaz. It’s a novelty these days for an A-list actress not to botoxed/face-lifted/tucked etc to doll-like status. By which I mean, beautiful as she is, there’s something endearing about her actually looking approximately her proper age. But there is still something disturbing about seeing her spread-eagled  and scantily-clad across wet cars rubbing herself all over them in a slow-motion car washing sequence. Diaz deserves better films than this; maybe its just an indication those films just aren’t out there for actresses fast approaching the ancient age of the big 40. So Bad Teacher. Bad Movie.

Black Hawk Down, meanwhile, remains one of the better modern-warfare films. It’s visceral, edge-of-the-seat action sequences have yet to be bettered. Admittedly I’ve always had a problem with Sam Shepherd’s scenes in the control room; too much summing up the plot and explaining the who/where and why. I guess that’s to clue audiences in who are confused by the disparate battles going on across the city of  Mogadishu, but it just feels like unnecessary dumbing-down to me. Alas its one of the problems having seen a film several times, when you pretty much know the movie, you can be easily irritated by plot mechanisms like that. Shepherd sometimes comes across as a sports commentator summing up the story so far and whats coming up  next. Hollywood is so frightened of losing possible paying customers that it is assumed everyone suffers from attention-deficiency disorder and have to be held by the hand through movies. Keep it simple, comforting and always explain whats happening.

(Then again, what do I know? My favourite film last year was The Tree Of Life and I saw several punters walking out of the screening during the movie, bored and confused.)

 

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