Art & Culture

The Hunger Games continues to cream the opposition, sweeping its way to $250 million in the USA in 2 weeks, and £5 million in the UK. It's a great big hit, and I'm very pleased. I encourage you to go and see it, if you haven't already. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Pretty much everything else in the charts is dross. Mirror Mirror is so bad it's bad, even worse than the mess that is Wrath of the Titans. Act of Valor is a propaganda film for the Pentagon, The Devil Inside is a ripoff of Blair Witch and The Exorcist, and word is that Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a lot less fun than the trailer pretends. In fact, I reckon that many films are made with trailers in mind. Find a few clips of big bangs, scary stuff, hot women, cool men and the occasional snappy one liner, put together a 2 minute clip with lots of raisins and not much dough, and get the punters in asap before they discover what a turgid pudding they're being offered. If it's any good, like Hunger Games, it'll run and run. If not, by the time its defects have been rumbled, it'll have scraped together enough to pay for the star's salary.

It was always this way, mind you. Hollywood is primarily an industrial machine and its job is to push its product to as many people as possible. There are so many competing films and other forms of entertainment, that everything has to fight to get a square centimetre of air space. And if you have to shout louder, and promise stuff you can't deliver, what are the punters going to do? Complain? To who?

In fact, it's generally a sad time for cinema, with distributors mostly steering clear of a period of months which they reckon will be hard going. At the same time, the volume is going up. In the week of April 20th, 16 films are being released, which is ridiculous. Even I can't go and see that many films, even if there were screens willing to show them. Most of them are being dumped in one or two screens, and will then get released on DVD a few weeks later, where they will slide further into oblivion. Maybe a couple of them will be decent, but who will notice. London will give the widest exposure, but for the rest of us, we will have to put up with Battleship (Transformers at sea), The Avengers (massed superheroes) or – god forbid – Titanic in 3D. If you want to see Strippers vs Werewolves and I suspect you won't, you'll either have to go all the way to some Piccadilly fleapit, or wait for it to appear at a video shop near you – except that there aren't any left, and it won't be in mine.

Just to cheer you up a bit – there's a new Ken Loach film coming soon, and the trailer has appeared. It seems to suggest that Ken has gone down a route that could be described as Full Montyish – unless that's just the trailer. Looking For Eric was pretty cheerful by Loachian standards, so there's no reaosn why he shouldn't come up with something jaunty. It's worth looking forward to anyway.

As for the Easter holidays, happening here now, your best bet is Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists, even though they've taken the leprosy joke out.

By Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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