The Clash Film Column: Blocks Rocking Seats

Tetris at the movies? And more…

Be fair, it’s got every chance of being the best video game adaptation yet…

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That was the week in which…

It was announced that a film is to be made based on the blocks-slotting puzzle game Tetris

If making a film based on the board game Battleships seemed tenuous, the idea of extending the idea of Tetris to a feature-length film is absurd. If by some bizarre occurrence you’ve never played Tetris, the concept is this: blocks of various sizes fall and the player must position them so they form a continuous horizontal line – at which point the line disappears and therefore allows the player the space to position more falling blocks, Repeat, forever. It’s dramatic when you’re about to fail, but how you could source any actual drama from it is mystery.

“It’s a very big, epic sci-fi movie,” said Threshold Entertainment CEO Larry Kasanoff in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “This isn’t a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We’re not giving feet to the geometric shapes.”

He points to the importance of branding in film – simply, a film that is already a recognisable brand has a head-start in terms of profile and commercial tie-ins. Still, video game adaptations as well as the likes of Monopoly, Risk and the on-off remake of Tim Curry’s Clue[do] have obvious narrative potential. Tetris doesn’t even have a face.

Still, whatever madcap narrative they come up with, it should at least be more engaging than Davor Radic’s Tetris, which you can watch right now if you have 73 spare minutes:

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The Clash Film Column: Blocks Rocking Seats

The Big Film: Gone Girl

Love is Hell. Or so David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s page-turnin’ domestic noir would have you believe. Or maybe it’s all about the “he said / she said” bullshit. Either way, what appears on the screen is pretty faithful to what appears on the page. That’s about all the faithfulness you’re likely to encounter in a film that piles marital failings upon twist upon motherf*ckin’ twist. And that’s not even a spoiler.

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) are sickeningly perfect. In the “we’re all in this together” recession era, their one defect is that they’ve been pushed out of their oh-so-perfect flashy careers in the big city and into the backwoods of Missouri. Nick, a beefy bro-dude with intellect, opens a bar. Amy, a woman so perfect that her parents made a fortune by plagiarising and up-scaling her entire existence into a hit fictional franchise works as… Well, as Nick notes: what does she do? Their new life; their fifth anniversary; the disappearance of Amy: had Nick been French in 1977, the subsequent media trial would’ve gifted him a one-way ticket to the guillotine without passing go.

Instead of lingering on the mystery, Fincher catapults us into an almost dystopian vision of injustice. When Nick inadvertently smirks at a news camera, he’s a wife-murdering psychopath with a dark secret. When he designs a plea of innocence, he’s “Hey! Get Nick a beer!”, the lovable dufus-next-door that wouldn’t harm an invading army of cockroaches. The artifice of the media is misdirection; misdirection leads to injustice; and injustice ruins society.

Or you could take Gone Girl for what it appears to be on the surface: a slick, pulpy thriller which punches its meaty running time with a pacey beat that means your attention doesn’t drop away from the near endless ambiguities of motivation, character foibles and contorted pre-conceptions. Admittedly the climax doesn’t quite feel quite as satisfying as it should, despite being a dramatically better fit for film than it is for paper, but Gone Girl remains an intelligent, captivating, divorce-provoking experience. Love is Hell.

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The Clash Film Column: Blocks Rocking Seats

Back In Cinemas: Withnail & I

It’s a testament to the enduring brilliance of Bruce Robinson’s semi-autobiographical debut that the admission of going on holiday by mistake should require little explanation. Nor, indeed, should a brazen demand for the finest wines available to humanity require context, or a bold declaration decrying someone as a terrible c*nt – arguably the defining epithet of an era – need clarification. That’s all thanks to Withnail And I.

Now approaching its 30th anniversary, the intervening years have seen our titular out of work actors’ ill-advised holiday to the miserable delights of Lake District lose none of its shabby charm. Endlessly quotable in a way that few films can claim to be, Robinson’s film still proudly boasts some of British cinema’s finest delights – among them Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as one of British comedy’s most inspired pairings, Richard Griffiths’ “raging homosexual” Uncle Monty, and some of the funniest dialogue ever committed to celluloid.

In many ways, Withnail And I remains the definitive cult experience – a film without equal that effortlessly continues to elicit belly laughs with each subsequent viewing. Best enjoyed on the big screen surrounded by a room full of knowingly inebriated companions, long may its silliness endure. Words: Paul Weedon

Related: The Wounded Woe Of Withnail And I

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The Clash Film Column: Blocks Rocking Seats

Shorts

A live screening of a theatrical performance of Billy Elliott went straight to the top of last weekend’s UK box office in a dance-off with The Equalizer, which slinked off slightly embarrassed at #2. As we’ll soon all be sick of hearing of how wonderful Rosamund Pike is, it’s currently worth noting that the wonderful Rosamund Pike’s lesser late summer film, What We Did On Our Holiday, packed its bags and went to a decent destination known as the #4 spot. In typically naughty-but-niche fashion, David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars found a cult (or “small”, depending on your level of cynicism) audience at #15.

Whiplash (pictured) is the best music film in a long long time. Young jazz drummer Andrew Neyman wants to be the new Buddy Rich, but is pushed to breaking point by the unorthodox techniques of his volatile teacher Terence Fletcher – a situation which forces a fierce battle of wills as the film investigates the nature of creative perfection in an abusive student/teacher relationship. Lead performances by Miles Teller (good name for a jazz dude, right?) and J K Simmons are electrifying. It’s out in the UK on January 16th but a handful of tickets are still available at the London Film Festival, if you’re quick.

Some famous film guy got married or something. I wasn’t really paying attention. Google can probably help you for more info on that.

Finally, the latest in a series of Interstellar trailers became the week’s hottest short-form advert for a film type thing:

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Words: Ben Hopkins except where indicated

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