Films on TV round-up: some notes on film titling conventions

Ed Williamson

4th March 2012

Films have titles, you might have noticed, when turning your head on one side slightly upon being presented with a row of DVDs on a shelf. They have words in them to distinguish them from other films. Here we will examine this concept further. Not much further, admittedly.

Commencing: Monday 5th March 2012

(500) Days of Summer (2009) Saturday, Film4, 9pm

The use of brackets is a strange thing in titles, don't you think? I was pondering this only this morning, in fact, when the Oasis song (It's Good) To Be Free made a very welcome shuffled appearance on my iPod. Why bother, I thought to myself, before remembering that less than a year later they'd had an album called (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, which is just a mental amount of punctuation to go in a title, and two years after that committed to record It's Gettin' Better (Man!!), perhaps the only non-Slade song title in history to feature two consecutive exclamation marks. Noel Gallagher, I concluded, must have been briefly obsessed by punctuation, or perhaps just coked off his gourd.

Some 14 years later you can see his stubby fingerprints all over the title of (500) Days of Summer, whose screenplay I would presume he had written, were it not for the absence of the words 'soul' and 'sunshine' repeated several times throughout the dialogue. Plus the fact that it's actually quite moving, and a rare example of a romantic comedy which highlights male rather than female sensitivity and anxiety. Noel hasn't achieved that since, like, Cigarettes & Alcohol.

It's odd to watch Zooey Deschanel in this now she's an ultrakook on New Girl every Friday: here she's a mere microkook, with whom Joseph Gordon-Levitt falls in love and breaks up then tries to win back over 500 days. We skip through these days without any real linear structure to speak of, more or less knowing the ending already as we go, but it's no less engaging for that. JGL's a brilliantly lovesick puppy throughout, and the scenes in which she's just starting to be cold towards him and he can't figure out why are played with the lightest of touches. Ha! He should just learn to Roll With It, eh?

Indecent Proposal (1993) Saturday, More4, 10.05pm

Indecent Proposal is a good example of the 'adjective/abstract noun' titling convention. This is much used in action films, and in particular pretty much every Jean-Claude Van Damme film (Double Impact, Hard Target, Sudden Death, Maximum Risk), but in the early 90s was very popular in the 'thriller with promise of tits' genre, as seen here and in the case of Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction and Enormous Jugfest.

You can't fault the accuracy of its use here, either, because a very indecent proposal does in fact take place. Very indecent indeed. Billionaire Robert Redford offers to buy Demi Moore off her husband Woody Harrelson for a million dollars for one night, and Woody says yes like a mug, then immediately regrets it. Call Ashton Kutcher a lanky fuckwit who looks like the sort of transient you'd ask a policeman to move off a park bench if you will, but at least he didn't pimp her out to anyone.

Thing is, if you were married to Woody Harrelson, what are the chances you'd be even remotely tempted to sleep with someone else, even for a million? Zero, that's what. If I was married to him it'd be amazing. I'd write a film about it called Wonderful Marriage, or Elegant Romance, or maybe just I'm Married to Woody Harrelson (And It's Brilliant).
Also on this week

Dreamgirls Monday, Film4, 6.25pm
Pink Cadillac Monday, ITV4, 9pm
Kiss the Girls Monday, Film4, 9pm
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Monday, 5*, 10pm
Any Which Way You Can Tuesday, ITV4, 6.45pm
Zoolander Tuesday, Film4, 7.20pm
Bruno Tuesday, Film4, 11.15pm
Eden Lake Tuesday, ITV4, 11.20pm
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Wednesday, 5*, 9pm
Independence Day Wednesday, E4, 10.10pm
Three Kings Thursday, ITV2, 12.10am
Hot Shots! Thursday, Film4, 7.20pm
Primal Fear Thursday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Death Wish V: The Face of Death Thursday, ITV4, 10.35pm
Hitch Friday, 5*, 9pm
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Friday, Film4, 9pm
The Peacemaker Friday, BBC1, 11.30pm
William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet Friday, More4, 11.10pm
Withnail & I Saturday, C4, 12am
Hitch Saturday, 5*, 6.40pm
The Big Lebowski Saturday, Dave, 9pm
Reservoir Dogs Saturday, 5USA, 10pm
Deep Impact Saturday, BBC3, 10.10pm

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