BIFF 2011 and More

This blog has unfortunately at the moment descended into a load of long posts about Japan (want to get it done as soon as I can) which is regrettable, so here's a little bit of some other stuff.

As we wait for the 24th of February to come around, and I consider whether it is worth spending some wad on the horrendously expensive festival pass, my thoughts turned to the more regular film output going on.

I was disappointed to hear that 'Inside Job', the top documentary from last year would only be getting a very limited UK release; so limited in fact that it has come and gone. It was last Friday, and only in London with a couple of others spotted around the UK. Hopefully the DVD will be along at some point and a wider audience will be able to catch it. Criminal.

So when me and a friend headed out to the cinema it was to see one of two prospective films. True Grit, the new Coen brothers film which has been getting some great reviews, or Paul, which in the trailers features a wise cracking American alien talking about probing people. You can probably tell which way I was trying to go.

As things turned out, we decided to see the one which worked out best time-wise; we were seeing the Yes Prime Minister play at Leeds first. By chance, Paul started first, so with a few reservations I gave in and saw it.

And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. No, really.

To those who as I did slated it because of the oh so humorous clips used by T4 and similar to highlight the whole probing gag line, please ignore them. I came away with the impression on watching those clips that it would be a childish road movie with a limited breadth of humour, but it's actually far broader than that. Pegg and Frost play grown up sci-fi nuts on a once in a lifetime trip across America, visiting the ComicCon and all the official 'alien abduction' sites like Area 51. Partway round, they bump into Paul the alien who has escaped and is on the run, and consequently they get caught up in the chase, while avoiding angry rednecks, incompetent agents, and the nutjob creationist father of Ruth, who has a revelation about her beliefs and decides to join them on the journey.

For a two-hour comedy road film, it had to have plenty of variety to keep us entertained, and it does this not only by having a tightly written script and a completely believable alien (you just can't see the join these days) but also it's another of those films that breathes with references to other films, comics, games and geek culture (I hate that term). The film is overflowing with references, and many of them are very subtle and obscure. This obviously increases rewatch value (and I hope it means we get a Scott Pilgrim-style DVD extra revealing them all).

Overall, very glad I saw it, and would more than happily see it again. Even if you don't 'get' the references, there's enough here for anyone to enjoy. I'd even say it trumps Pegg and Frosts' other two films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz in terms of laughs and value. 8/10

True Grit will have to wait til next week.