Saturday, 11 December 2010

Phased, dazed and not amazed

I woke on Saturday 25 November feeling, as Spike Milligan once (nearly) described it, like I had been hit with a sock full of cold custard. I had taken an antihistamine pill to deal with the severe itching that had assailed me the previous day. This particularly affected my arms and legs: bearable but only just and probably the result of the cocktail of antibiotics I was still taking following my discharge from hospital.

Drowsiness is a well-known side-effect of antihistamine and I felt wobbly on my legs for most of the morning. In fact I still felt pretty weak for most of the day, but not so much that I was unable to face watching a DVD of Mamma Mia with the family in the evening.

I was completely unprepared for the onslaught on the senses that this film presents, with its overwrought acting and highly saturated colour palette. It is set on a Greek island but really could be anywhere, although it has to be said that the transplanting of Americans and Western Europeans to the relatively exotic location of the Mediterranean and the permanent sunshine heighten the sense of unreality that pervades the film. The principal culprit however for that same sense is the nutty and unresolved plot, upon whose wild improbabilities the valiant crew of extremely fine actors proceed to impale themselves one by one. I really do shy away from the notion of men's and women's films, but this particular flick strains this reticence to snapping point. It is like watching a drugged-up hen party through a kaleidoscope. 

The comedy is painful and forced for the most part, but there are moments of light, not least from Colin Firth, the contrast of whose stock-in-trade English reserve with the hysteria of those around him creates comedy in itself. Perhaps more unintentionally comedic was the strangled singing of Pierce Brosnan, courageous but inevitably doomed.

Some of the cast of Mamma Mia meet to plot revenge on the scriptwriters

The whole preposterous confection is of course redeemed by the wonderful, sometimes sublime, Abba songs, which are surely among the finest creations in any music.

You know who: melodies, harmonies and arrangements to die for.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad (aka Frida, the brunette) is now in fact Her Serene Highness Princess Anni-Frid Synni Reuss, Countess of Plauen following her marriage to a German prince of the former sovereign House of Reuss in 1992. The prince sadly died of a lymphoma (type not known to me) in 1999.

The only ones among us not at all impressed by the experience were my son and his girlfriend, who would much have preferred either a more serious movie or some schlock horror (zombie flicks being a particular favourite of theirs and mine at the moment).

It was truly time for bed.

A scene from Shaun of the Dead, a great spoof zombie movie.