What We Do in the Shadows: a documentary crew follow the exploits of four vampires – Viago (aged 379), Vladislav, (862), Deacon (183) and Petyr, aged (8,000) – sharing a house in Wellington, NZ. All the standard vampire tropes are here and used to comic effect: being invited in, reflections, hypnosis etc. The character’s have nearly a thousand years of history to play with and the film does well to thrown in a bunch of historic references and jokes – although the strongest riff is minor character Stu teaching the vampires how to use modern technology (Laptops, Skype, Ebay etc). The central trio are fantastic characters: perfectly acted, and all funny in their own styles – you’d happily sit and watch them argue for hours as they truly feel like bickering mates. It’s a great comedy script, with plenty of big and throwaway gags, but the overall feel of the film is more like a bunch of individually strong sketches loosely tied together by a few tangents – it feels more like a sitcom, than a documentary or movie. Most situations substitute the romanticism of being a vampire with the silly and mundane stuff, giving the film an upbeat, giggly, and playful tone which – along with the old-timer’s habits, dress sense, accents etc – make it all great fun to watch. It’s technically sound – CGI & wires are well hidden and there’s even an Inception-style corridor fight that works. I tip my beaver fur top-hat to Clement and Waititi for taking on two completely tired genres and making something this fresh and funny with it. A charming and entertaining look at the boring daily vampiric monotony.
2001: A Space Odyssey: or oddity! (Blu Ray) Apes and astronauts try to solve a 4 million year old secret of our universe. Be under no illusion, this is more about the (then) ground-breaking special effects than story – and considering what the standards were, they’re beyond impressive. The landscapes and space ships are astonishingly Intricate, and the complex ‘gravity-defying’ set-pieces are mind-blowing, many have become iconic through the years. The picture and sound are definitely reference material: particularly the epic orchestrated pieces that pump through all speakers & work the bass. The physics are also spot on, which you can’t say about many sci-fi films! But then there’s the down-side… The first 25 minutes is just a bizarre ape racket, there are several long ‘space ballet’ type scenes, loads of ridiculously dragged-out & slow shots, minutes of pure blackness with ominous sounds, and a few chunks of painfully unwatchable psychedelia. The ‘Jupiter Mission’ section was the only part that I enjoyed as it actually had some story and drama: the camp / murderous / paranoid computer Hal and Keir Dullea’s intensity, which stole the show for me. The ending is incoherent, illogical and disappointing. I fully appreciate that in 1968 (before the original moon landing!) this would have been a ground-breaking awe-inspiring epic extravaganza – and despite advances in effects, it still fares well – but it doesn’t make up for the lack of story or substance. 2001 is constantly lauded as one of the best films ever, which maybe raised my expectations too high but to me this would be best enjoyed on drugs. Lots of drugs.