Friday 16 January 2009

Title deeds

A film’s title has a decidedly vague responsibility. Most of the time movies are sold on their images – who’s in it, what exciting scenes can we expect to see in it, how cool is the poster and so on. But every so often a movie comes along whose title tells you everything you need to know. Such is the case with this week’s Beverly Hills Chihuahau (pictured). You know immediately from the name whether this is the film for you or not. You don’t need to know who’s in it, what it looks like or even how long it is; just that perfect mash-up of location and subject creates a title that clearly says “this is who I am. Take me or leave me”.

Whilst I personally will be choosing the latter option, it’s refreshing to be presented with such a clear statement of intent, especially at this time of year when awards season movies, with their oh-so-important one word titles, are all around (worst culprit: Milk. Like, the drink?). One glance through the titles coming our way over the year ahead suggests that it’s only the occasional maverick director or producer who has the guts to be so straightforward when labelling their creation. So in the spirit of the Oscars, here’s Screen Fever’s hastily assembled awards for titles in 2009:

Best Anticipation Builder - Monsters Vs. Aliens (3 April) Who wouldn’t want to see this movie? And it’s also gonna be available in 3D!

Most Unnecessarily Pretentious - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (26 June) Trying to make a popcorn sequel sound important by using biblical imagery? No thanks.

Least Inspired Fighting (24 July) There’s a thin line between winningly simple and just plain lazy. This is the latter.

Least PronounceableSynecdoche, New York (15 May) Apparently it’s sin-eck-duh-key, but that doesn’t really make things any clearer does it? Still, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Charlie Kaufman, the man who previously befuddled us at the title stage with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Best Rip-off of a ClassicAll About Steve (24 April) This Sandra Bullock comedy doesn’t seem to have much going for it, but the evocation of multi-Oscar winning legend All About Eve is gutsy, and more than a little bit funny too.

Most Oddly-titled Awards Bait - Men Who Stare at Goats (Late 2009) It sounds like it should be the tagline for Borat 2, but the cast list includes George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and the T1000 himself, Robert Patrick. But what the heckers is it about?

The Trying Too Hard AwardLesbian Vampire Killers (20 March) They might as well just call it Oh Please Come and See Our Movie. It’s Really Funny, Honest.

Worst Punning - Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel (26 Dec) I love a good pun, but that’s just wrong.

The ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ Award For StraightforwardnessHotel For Dogs (13 Feb) Says it all really.

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