Son Cubano [Goldies] - Various Artists

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Son Cubano [Goldies] - Various Artists

An improvised mockumentary comedy that sees three couples attempt to win a magazine competition to find the 'Most Original Wedding of the Year'. After...

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Review of "Son Cubano [Goldies] - Various Artists"

published 25/08/2006 | afy9mab
Member since : 11/07/2000
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All of my DVD reviews are film only, so do not include pricing information. If you have time, please read and rate my Batman V Superman review.
Pro It brings improvisation to the public's attention
Cons It's failed experiment
very helpful

"Not Wedded to It"

"Confetti" wedding magazine launches competition to find the country's most original ceremony. Hundreds of hopefuls apply but only three can get through to the final. They are the tennis couple, the naturist couple and movie musical couple. They go head-to-head for the chance to win a dream home and a cover shoot for the magazine and some of them are prepared to go to any lengths…

Normally I love improvisation, I think it is the greatest test of an actor's skills and imagination, but "Nasty Neighbours" writer/director Debbie Isitt's film feels like it's trying too hard. The mockumentary is a difficult sub-genre to approach and you have to be supremely confident for it to succeed. But it feels like she's aiming more towards a television audience than a cinema one. She may have cherry-picked her actors from some of the best recent British comedy ("Spaced", "The Office", "Green Wing", "Peep Show"), but simply putting them in a room together doesn't mean hilarity will automatically ensue. If anything it brings out the dangerous competitive streak most performers have and sets them off on a quest to outdo each other. The funniest lines and situations occur naturally, but here they often feel over-thought and frequently forced.

One of the things I love about improvisation the most is its spontaneity; you never know where it's going to go or what might happen next. But that's an aspect that is entirely absent from Isitt's work. You can pick who's going to win the competition as soon as they appear because Isitt's attitude to the triumphant characters is different. They're allowed to be likeable for one thing and they get more screen-time and a better bite of the acting cherry than the other couples. That's not to suggest that the director has any great regard for her characters; she portrays them as either objectionable (the tennis couple, Sam's family, the naturist groom, the magazine editors) or stupid (the movie musicals couple). As a result it's extremely difficult to empathise with any of them, so you laugh at them and not with them. Though there aren't really that many laughs to be had - caricaturish characterisation is prevalent and scattershot comments pepper the film. But there just isn't enough consistency for the film to work - the protagonists are such paper-thin stereotypes it's impossible to believe in them as real people. The movie has no strong narrative and is frustratingly episodic. You can tell there must be oodles more footage on the cutting room floor that would make the characters feel like they had more of a story. And it would have been nice if the different couples had been brought together more often to see if sparks would fly. Overall the film has promise that it fails to fulfil, dragging interminably for much of the hundred minute running time.

Isitt's directorial style leaves much to be desired, following the couples around with hand-held digital cameras in an attempt to mimic the fly-on-the-wall documentary style. There isn't enough interaction between the off-camera director and the on-screen actors to make it breathe, so the talking head portions of the film feel dry. Isitt doesn't linger long enough on uncomfortable moments either, so sometimes it seems the actors are getting off lightly instead of pushing the envelope. The montage of other wedding wannabes is distinctly unfunny and doesn't show enough weirdoes to make the eventual finalists seem tame by comparison. The film lacks oomph on a grand scale - everything about it feels either lazy or laboured with the director either pushing too hard or not hard enough.

The movie musical couple comprises Matt and Sam, played by Martin Freeman and Jessica Stevenson respectively. They are easily the most likeable pairing, even if they both have a tendency towards nasal pronunciation. However, Stevenson is a little too posh to really convince as a girl from a council estate. They are generally warm and quite nice but don't have enough about them to leave a strong impression. They are outshone in every scene they share with Mark Wootton, who play's Matt's possessive best mate, Snoopy. He tries to undermine their relationship at every turn, becoming increasingly childish with every attempt.

The naturists are played by Olivia Colman from TV's "Green Wing" and Robert Webb from "Peep Show". Colman is the most convincing actor as a documentary participant, looking genuinely uncomfortable throughout, with eyes flitting nervously towards the camera. Webb seems to see his character as an excuse to play an objectionable prick, intent on sabotaging everything so he can get his own way.

As professional tennis player Josef, Stephen Mangan essentially reprises his role as Guy from "Green Wing". He's smug, arrogant, competitive and jealous. But unlike Guy, Josef is simply a stereotype without any visible humanity. But at least he's not as irritating as hyperactive Meredith MacNeill, who plays his funny-looking but unfunny acting betrothed Isabelle. MacNeill seems unable to sustain a character and too scared to do anything much in the face of such seasoned improvisers.

Jimmy Carr sticks to his stand-up routine persona as magazine editor Antoni, casually denigrating everyone he comes across in a deadpan manner. He's very mean, but in my opinion, too pointed to be funny. Felicity Montagu, who plays his boss is too much of a power-suited bitch stereotype to convince. Seasoned improvisers Alison Steadman and Ron Cook pop up as Sam's estranged parents, giving subdued performances that are out of synch with the rest of the film. Most consistent of the large ensemble are Jason Watkins and Vincent Franklin as wedding planners Gregory and Archie. Though the pair may be gross gay stereotypes who owe more than a little to Gilbert and George in terms of style, they at least create strong characters and stick to them. Everything they do is high camp and their flamboyance carries many of the scenes they appear in. How else would they be able to carry off lines like "I'm prepared to kill or maim to make their dream wedding possible"?

Paul Englishby's contribution to the score consists of a few harp flourishes, a couple of misogynistic tracks for Snoopy's band and Matt and Sam's wedding vows. None of which really stick in the mind. Otherwise there are plenty of swing standards like "Come on People Get Happy", "Stormy Weather", "True Love Ways" and "Cheek to Cheek" that pretty much tell you who's going to win. There are also a couple of more recent tracks including John Paul Young's exuberant "Love is All Around" that is a nice counterpoint to a bout of fisticuffs. But however good the songs are in themselves, their use is over-literal.

"Confetti" is yet another disappointing British comedy film that squanders a talented cast. Writer/director Isitt lacks visual flair and the instinct for a killer line, content to throw a load of actors together and see what happens. The result is a stodgy mess that consistently fails to entertain. I'm all for experimentation in filmmaking, but genres like the mockumentary should be let to those that make them look effortless like Christopher Guest.

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Comments on this review

  • deltaflyer_uk published 29/08/2006
    I wanted to see this film caus eit sounded good, but now i dont think i will see it anytime soon.
  • Essexgirl2006 published 25/08/2006
    What a shame - I thought this film had sounded quite original when I first heard about it. I won't put myself out to see it then. Good review though!
  • Moogiekupo published 25/08/2006
    Sorry that I have used up all my 'E's for today. My brother's post production company was working on this, but he said the film isn't very good - Kupo x
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Product Information : Son Cubano [Goldies] - Various Artists

Manufacturer's product description

An improvised mockumentary comedy that sees three couples attempt to win a magazine competition to find the 'Most Original Wedding of the Year'. After the wedding competition is set up by the owner of Confetti magazine - played by the comedian Jimmy Carr, three couples are chosen to compete in the finals and the film charts their progress as they attempt to win their dream marriage. Couple one--comprised of Martin Freeman (THE OFFICE) and Jessica Stevenson (SPACED)--intend to have a musical wedding. Couple two--comprised of the PEEPSHOW duo Robert Webb and Olivia Coleman--are nudists. The third couple of Stephen Mangan (GREEN WING) and Meredith MacNeill (MAN STROKE WOMAN) are obsessed with tennis. This entertaining comedy is notable for its mockumentary style and use of improvised dialogue, a device used by Christopher Guest in the films THIS IS SPINAL TAP and BEST IN SHOW. The film features appearances by several actors familiar from British comedies, such as Felicity Montagu (I'M ALAN PARTRIDGE) and Julia Davis (NIGHTY NIGHT). This frequently amusing, breezy film is a romantic comedy that manages to bring new dimensions to the genre and the use of improvised dialogue adds a freshness to it. Relying on sharp character humour, CONFETTI manages to combine its spoof documentary style and use of a traditional British romantic comedy narrative successfully.

Product Details

EAN: 8712177036332


Listed on Ciao since: 21/07/2006