Avaragado’s film festival

I’ve seen two films at the Cambridge Film Festival this week, and one with the proles at the Vue. My thought-provoking and in-depth reviews follow.

It’s Nice Up North

In this ultra low-budget docucomedy, John Shuttleworth attempts to prove that northerners are nicer than southerners by talking to random people in Shetland (not the Shetlands!). He keeps heading further north until there’s nowhere to go, accompanied in part by a tourist guide who tells stories continuously whether or not anyone’s listening or even present.

Diverting. Reasonably funny if you like John Shuttleworth, and I do.

The screening was followed by a live Q&A with John Shuttleworth’s alter ego Graham Fellows and his cameraman, renowned odd photographer Martin Parr. John Shuttleworth is essentially Fellows with make-up, costume and facial expression; not much acting required.

Avaragado’s rating: tomato soup

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Too long by half an hour. Not as original (obviously) or as funny as the first film, but several humorous set-pieces.

Bill Nighy and his not-quite-right accent naturally steal every scene they’re in. Johnny Depp, well, camps it up magnificently again. Mackenzie Crook reprises his role and does very well; there’s a great scene where he debates the correct pronunciation of “Kraken” with crewmates.

There’s a weak ending. Without giving anything away, there’s no true resolution but only a set-up for the third film, made back-to-back with this one. Back to the Future did a better job.

Avaragado’s rating: coconut milk

A Scanner Darkly

Rotoscoped Keanu and friends in drug-based thriller action. The UK premiere, surprisingly.

The rotoscoping is very well done, if (deliberately, I’m sure) eye-bending in places. The stand-out performance is by Robert Downey Jr., but I always enjoy Woody Harrelson in roles like this (a kind of druggy version of Woody from Cheers). Keanu plays Keanu as only Keanu can, which at least means less of that tricky acting business.

Post-film it was suggested that had this not been rotoscoped and therefore Interesting, it would have been generic-by-numbers and therefore Tedious. There’s something to that, but there’s also the Philip K. Dick background to consider. Wikipedia’s summary of the story suggests film-faithfully-following-original-story shocker, which is, I submit, a good and healthy thing.

Avaragado’s rating: blue smarties



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2 responses to “Avaragado’s film festival

  1. Anonymous


    I see you stick with the groupthink. Here is a rebuttal:


    • Re: Keanu

      Hmm. I haven’t counted, but I’d guess half the points in that 40-point rebuttal have nothing to do with his acting. How to pronounce his name, isn’t a scientologist, never appeared in Will and Grace, well, yes, there’s a whole new perspective on his skills.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like him. I’ll happily watch him even in cartoon form. But in this film, the character he played was standard-issue Keanu.

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