Resolutions 2015: The Beach

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Welcome back to another week jam-packed with Resolutions! Lovely to see some more fine folks checking some long overdue must-watches off of their lists–like today’s guest, Mr. Niall of The Fluff Is Raging! Are you familiar with Niall’s site? If not, I strongly urge you to swing by and say hello. Right now he’s been spending some time covering all kinds of Oscar films, but he has great movie reviews in general as well as trailer reviews, interesting thoughts on pop culture, and much more. Go have a look! But first, read this:

The Beach (Danny Boyle)

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I read and enjoyed Alex Garland’s novel The Beach when it was first published, but then again, I was in my mid-twenties (just the right age for it) and had done the whole backpacking in Thailand thing. So I could identify with a lot of what the narrator Richard is feeling, and like him I had grown up on 1980s action flicks, Vietnam movies and video games. The basic Lord of the Flies by way of Apocalypse Now vibe sat well with me. It was funny, tragic, violent, and cynically hip. It was, in short, a major novel for my generation of twenty-somethings.

I haven’t read it since and don’t want to; I fear it won’t age well.

It was four or five years later that I saw a trailer for the film of the story. By that time my backpacking days were behind me, and I was almost out of my twenties, a time when you’re supposed to start growing up. Now when I went on holidiay, the thought of travelling for nine hours in some dirty train carriage that smelled like a henhouse, or bargaining with a guesthouse to get the cheapest room (the one with no windows) no longer seemed cool or ‘authentic’: it just seemed stupid.

So when I saw the trailer for Danny Boyle’s film, although it obviously was going to romanticize the whole experience of being young and carefree, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. In fact, I wasn’t that interested, and told myself I’d probably end up seeing it on TV at some point.

The years went by and for some reason I’ve never caught it on TV and there are a thousand films I would want to watch first.

I just saw it. To be honest, I only watched it because the full movie is on You Tube.

So after all this time, how was it?

It was … okay. It had some good and a lot of bad, and I think it’s somewhat different to the book.

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What I Liked:

* Skinny Leo. Remember Skinnny Leo?

* A crazed, shaven-headed Robert Carlyle, spouting nonsense in a very Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now vibe

* The whole Apocalypse Now feel to it; the introduction of the secret camp seems to have been filmed deliberately to recall Martin Sheen’s arrival at Brando’s compound.

* Tilda Swinton in a very cool … actually almost cold, calculating performance.

* The songs: lots of shit like Moby and Oasis. I almost felt young again.

* The scenery. It is breathtaking.

* The weird, funny bit when Leo thinks he’s in a video game.

* The French chick (to look at only … see below)

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What I Didn’t Like:

* The voiceover. It was annoying and told me stuff that I could see was happening on the screen. Plus, Di Caprio’s almost-whiny voice is his least appealing quality.

* The French chick (to listen to: she delivered her lines like she’d been smoking some of the weed from the island).

* Some of the bizarre plot twists, especially involving the way the French chick’s boyfriend just steps aside and lets Leo take her. It was rubbish and unbelievable (I can’t remember if the same thing happens in the book).

* Skinny Leo Being Intense: it’s a very ‘actorly’ performance.

* The people in the camp are very poorly sketched (with the exception of the English guy who was big into cricket). If I remember, this was one of the points of the film that fans of the book were very critical of.

* That Ewan MacGregor had a falling out with Danny Boyle and dropped out of the lead role.

* The fact that most of the cast look ridiculously healthy, clean-shaven, well-fed, not at all smelly. After two months of living in Paradise, Leo doesn’t have so much as bumfluff on his face.

Now that I have seen it, much like the book, I won’t be in a rush to see it again. I thought that Danny Boyle did a good enough job with what he had, and there are a couple of cool visual moments, and as I said, beautiful scenery, but the story was not compelling enough for me.

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Well, sorry to hear this wasn’t a spectacular resolution, Niall! At least you can cross it off that list, huh? Thanks, friend! More coming soon, everybody! 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Resolutions 2015: The Beach

  1. Glad to see you finally caught this one Niall.

    Agreed, not the greatest movie, but I think that I enjoyed it more than you. There definitely were faults with it, but there were things I liked. Then again, I have an unhealthy DiCaprio obsession ❤

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