Friday, 14 October 2011


Right in a futile effort to catch up dispensing with the usual format. I'm almost 20 days behind on the blog now so here are ten films in exactly ten words each (unless they're not, I can't be bothered to check them):

30: Minutes or Less - Little too mean spirited to be fully funny but ok.
The Change-Up - Oh Jason Bateman, you do keep picking really crappy movies
Reefer Madness - Not nearly as unintentionally funny as hoped until the end.
Operation: Endgame - Doesn't open up it's full comedic potential, action's surprisingly decent.
Melancholia - Great but can you ever like a Von Trier film?
Riffifi - Splendidly tense caper movie with a cool gloss and pacy.
Midnight in Paris - Delightful whimsy, so much better than Allen's last few films.
Johnny English Reborn - Horrid, uninspired slapstick and obvious gags chore to get through.
Two Weeks to Live - '40s comedy takes a long time to get to set-up
MacGruber - Strangely pointless Action film spoof with requisite gross out gags.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Killing’s easy. Living with it is the hard part

Killer Elite (2011)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Terribly dull, supposedly truth based actioner which has some oddness in it's UK/USA/Australia mix.
Every tortured line of dialogue is a cliche, the fight scenes mostly bland even when introducing some silliness (a remote controlled fuel truck) and the acting is, well about normal for a Statham movie.
DeNiro is ridiculous at trying to be a badass.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

How about this - shut your mouth or I'll kick your teeth down your throat and I'll shut it for you.

Drive/Crazy Stupid Love/Half Nelson (2011/2011/2006)
Chosen by me because I like the cinema and a friend lent me Half Nelson. 

A trio of movies all with interesting, powerful performances from Gosling going to different ends.
Drive is a terrific, pared down thriller where you have to gather two people fall for each other just by looking ad at each other. It manages to be cool, though slightly forced, with an amazing soundtrack and great actors in the secondary roles (a lot has been said of Albert Brooks, quite rightly, but Christina Hendricks really excels in a small role).
Crazy, Stupid Love is probably the weakest of the three. Another small scale 'indy' styled comedy vehicle for Steve Carrell it starts, slightly worringly, suggesting Carrell should become an asshole to get women but is funny enough to get away with it and does make some effort to explore this notion on a more than just a surface level.
Half Nelson relies on the power of it's central actors for a slight but compelling tale of a student and teacher.

Friday, 30 September 2011

You got on the wrong train, Tarzan

Snakes on a Train (2006)
Chosen by Greg Todd who had this to say: 'Snakes on a train was bought for me by Phil as a joke for a pound and was just about worth it. 4 of us, slightly drunk, found it very funny, but watched sober and alone it may appear to be just crap. It contains some genuine surprise twists, but only be being completely nonsensical. I thought it just made in to being "so bad it's good". My friend preferred it over Snakes On A Plane because it had "more tits and dead kids".'

I think Greg's friend may be wrong about this having more tits, unless I blanked a bit, but it does have quite an extraordinary sequence of a young child being eaten by one of the magically size changing Aztec Curse snakes.
One of Asylum's lazy cash in movies (the company that bring out a Transmorphers film on dvd in time for Transformers at the cinema amongst many many others), more thought goes into their titles than anything that actually happens in the film.
As ever with films like this it's far too dull to be fun, though it manages a couple of moments of sheer lunacy to wake you up from your slumber (I honestly don't know if I drifted off or the film doesn't actually tell you why or how the woman was cursed with coughing up supernatural snakes).
The ending makes no sense what so ever.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A lust for blood! A lust that has grown with the years! And one that I spend my entire life trying to satisfy.

Bloodlust/Spooks Run Wild (1961/1941)

Bloodlust is a 'Most Dangerous Game' adaptation (though uncredited) and a pretty poor one at that. Very dull, the hunting of the characters is pedestrian (though faintly ridiculous as the old cast are supposedly teenagers) but there is a small amount of fun hamminess from the villain.

Spooks Run Wild is a Bowery Boys film (which doesn't really mean much to me to be honest) and despite some odd racial issues (hey they have a friend who is an African American! but the jokes based around him are pretty bad) is a generally boring quickie with Bela Lugosi doing his schtick as background to Boys Own running around a 'haunted house' stuff.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

I was born into the Hebrew persuasion, but when I got older I converted to narcissism

Scoop (2006)
Chosen by me when I was at my parents for the weekend. I scanned through the teevee listings and chose the first film about to start that i hadn't seen.

One of the many rather rubbish films from Allen in the last ten years.
We get a couple of great one liners for sure, but the whole thing is slackly paced, charmless and non-sensical.
Johansson is hidiously miscast (early Kate Winslet may have been able to pull it off) but no-one else really comes out of this looking good (Ian Mcshane is barely in it so suffers least).

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

There's a mole, right at the top of the Circus. And he's been there for years.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

This is a curious one. A very strong film, with a great cast, compelling eye (and ear - some of the song choices are terrific) for detail, distinctive, well paced and fascinating.
But is has a huge central problem. It's just a problem that doesn't especially bother me.
It is massively underwhelmed by it's own mystery. Everyone keeps talking about it but the film itself doesn't seem to care who the mole is. When the solution comes it is very arbitrary (there are no real clues, it could be any of the suspects and the movie wouldn't change at all) and has some leaps in logic that seem confusing (Smiley approaches one of the suspects because he knows it's not him, but the movie never explains how he knows it's not him), the actual moles motives are tossed away in a line that on examination actually tells us nothing.
Perhaps because the film is so confidant in it's cast and tone this manages not to annoy me in the slightest but I could understand if people came out of this one unsatisfied.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Do I look like a maniac who goes around killing girls?

Virus/The Brain That Wouldn't Die/Diary of a Nudist (1980/1962/1961)
Triple Bill of Public Domain movies.

Virus was not the film I thought it was going to be. For good and bad. Starting with a silhouette of a lone dishevelled figure framed by the sun, it felt like it was going to be a post apocalyptic movie ala Mad Max 2 and the pulpy opening bore that feeling out. But it shifted into a politically minded take on how the end of the world might go down (though a terribly simplistic version, I liked Glenn Ford and Robert Vaughn as upstanding politicians - the military are the villains here).
It then shifts again to focus on a handful of the last 800 people presumed alive, and dodgy sexual politics (1 woman per 100 causes an interesting discussion that seems settled far too quickly) and science aside manages to be an unusual take on the disaster film format popular in the 1970s (this has a big name international cast).

The Brain that Wouldn't Die is mostly a cool hook looking for a movie but has some unsettling ideas (it opens on blackness with just a female voice asking to "let me die, please let me die".

Diary of a Nudist is just terrible. A dull, badly filmed attempt to titillate. About as sexy as a dung beetle. But a curious time capsule and features (possibly originated? - i'm not too up on the naturist oeuvre I'm afraid) the great naked volleyball cliche.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

No novocaine. It dulls the senses.

The Fast and The Furious/Little Shop of Horrors (1955/1960)
Chosen by me from a list of public domain movies online.

A double bill of Roger Corman goodness.
Fast and the Furious is not particularly great but features some neat looking cars (I'm not really a gearhead but the main car - a jag - is gorgeous), a main character of a female racing car driver and some ropey plot mechanics (i'm still not clear why the escaped prisoner feels the need to go through with the race). I especially enjoyed the reveal of a nebulous truckers union being the real villains (none of them are in it, which makes for some strange dramatic beats).
Little Shop of Horrors is pretty darn terrific. Off beat, irreverant, very funny with a couple of great performances (Jack Nicholson and Dick Miller are a hoot).

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Do you think Michael Moore gave up after the first try?

The Troll Hunter (2010)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

A fun, fresh 'found footage' movie and delightful monster romp.
It suffers the usual kinks and cliches inherent in this type of film (at what point would you not just drop the camera?) but makes up for it with a verve and wit (this is more Spinal Tap than Blair Witch) especially when dealing with the bureaucracy of Troll Hunting.
It suffers a little in a rushed climax that has a baffingly pointless character turning up out of nowhere - unless I missed something (he answers the question who are you? with 'a seismologist') but pulls it back with a funny punchline involving footage of a Norwegian politician.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Never forget where you came from.

Colombiana (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Fairly dreadful. A lazy, slipshod, ramshackle movie combining elements of a hundred better films.
The perfunctory, non-sensical romance (how did they hook up exactly?) the least of it's problems.
The whole plot hinges on the main character being a careless, stupid selfish idiot but asks us not to care she's this way and indeed to cheer on her pointless acts of murder to reach a pointless revenge endgame.
Utterly pointless. Unlike Saldana's nipples that remain distractingly perky throughout.

Friday, 9 September 2011

If this be a natural thing where do it come from, where do it go?

The Ghost Train/ Mystery Liner (1941/1934)

Chosen fairly randomly a few interesting connections link these two films.
Both offer (one way more than the other granted) a mystery of sorts that may have a supernatural cause (well Mystery Liner only really throws this up once whereas it is naturally The Ghost Train's main thrust), both don't make a huge amount of sense when the conundrum is solved (especially Ghost Train).
But Ghost Train is a generally agreeable, sometimes funny (one scene, a very simple pratting about outside a train compartments window is even funnier after revealing the secret of one of the idiots messing around) and reasonably engaging (it also helps that most of the characters find Askey's vaudeville act as annoying as I did).
Mystery Liner was pretty terrible. Dull plot mechanics about a remote control device for a ship, and irritating characters doing a whole lot of nothing.

It does however feature one of the most awkward kisses I've seen put to film (alongside the fat mob boss going for Jodie Foster at the end of Bugsy Malone)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

It's not the end of the world, it's just the end of the day.

Fright Night/Kill List/Pontypool (2011/2011/2008)
Chosen by me because I like going to the cinema a lot and i asked someone to lend me Pontypool.

Fright Night is a mostly fun but ever, ever so slight fancy. Farrell is pretty good but the film has a distinct lack of ambition not really offering up anything new or interesting (there is one nasty moment involving a rescue attempt that I don't know if was in the original or not - too long since I've seen it, that is an effective shock but never seems to play into anything that happens after).
Tennant is mostly pointless (the early trailers sidelined him completely and it's not hard to see why), a sub par Russel Brand impersonation never really finds the hook it needs to be clever.

Kill List is pretty astonishing. Starting like a dirty kitchen sink drama about a family disintegrating merging with a Lynchian nightmarish left of center universe (where signing a deal in blood seems perfectly acceptable to one of the characters) before finishing up in a particularly British mode of horror film. The cast are superb, the film challenging and horrifying (a bit with a hammer is very hard to take in). Brilliant, interesting stuff.

Pontypool is a fascinating, sometimes frustrating movie. It has a very clever hook and takes a long steady time getting there. Set almost exclusively in one location it is claustrophobic (there are various points where characters see outside but the camera looks at them not from their viewpoint) and haunting, though never particularly scary.

Monday, 5 September 2011

It Needs Monsters.

Spy Kids/Spy Kids 2/Spy Kids 3 (2001/2002/2003)
Chosen by Lauren Parker who had this to say: 'The Spy Kids films aren't exactly life changing but they are entertaining, even to us grown ups! You have to respect Rodriguez's efforts in making a film that Hispanic children can relate to, he's always been vocal in his intention to make these films for his children, it's just a bonus they've made millions along the way! They are just fun little movies, great Sunday afternoon fodder with very interesting casts ranging from Antonio Banderas, to Danny trejo and even Stallone himself. I don't have much to say about them, they are just fun films that never take themselves too seriously and I still love the skeleton fight in the second installment! Kids seem to love them and adults can enjoy them too, I still want to see the fourth!'

Rodriguez is a film maker whose films I always admire more than actually like. I love his approach in many ways, his boundless enthusiasm and sheer get out there and do it spirit carries across. But often they are pretty shoddy affairs. Writing is certainly not his strong suit (no one talks in a Rodriguez movie, they just spout horrid catchphrases at each other) but he normally has an interesting cast and an easy going effortless charm.
This is true for most of the Spy Kids flicks. Full of silly incidents designed to make undemanding children smile. There is a lot of fun to them.
Except the third one.
Which is mostly fucking awful.
The more talented of the two Spy Kids is mostly sidelined, Stallone is unfathomably bad and the dumb computer game plotline an excuse for dull 3D visuals and pointless non-sequiturs. Acting against all that green screen also seems to bring the worst out of Banderas, who tolerable in the first two gives a performance so bad it's hard to believe I just saw him in The Skin I live In (he's still better than Stallone though).

Thursday, 1 September 2011

That was some pretty good sex last night, huh?

Eagle vs Shark (2007)
Chosen by me because it looked interesting.

Films like this are always tricky to play tonally. At their worst they become exaggerated exercises in taking the piss out of pathetic people. Even when the film clearly loves it's characters (as this one does) it's hard not to feel a mean, misanthropic spirit at play.
This film avoids it slightly by setting it in a world where all the characters are left of centre rather than just the main ones. Though they are picked on and clearly looked down on by some they fit in the universe and function, more or less.
Strong performances help avoid some of the pitfalls and it has a strong sense of setting and assured, relaxed direction.
Interesting but slight.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

He's an angry elf.

Elf (2003)
Chosen by me. God knows why?

I get I'm not the target audience for this film but seriously it's just so lazy in it's supposedly heart warming Christmas-time message.
James Caan, looking bored throughout, turns from arsehole to hero pop for absolutely no reason what so-ever. Zooey Deschanel dates the unstable Will Ferrel because... who the fuck knows (biggest laugh of the film - her saying she won't sing)?
Most of the jokes seem to involve two people saying 'yes it is' and 'no it isn't' to each other.
Sloppy, mostly charmless and loud.
Still it's much better than Santa Claus: The Movie I guess.

Names is for tombstones, baby!

Live and Let Die (1973)
Chosen by blogalongabond

Bond's Intro: No Bond before the credits, to perhaps ease us into the plot before once more asking where is Connery? The pre-credits are fun but daft (I like to believe the guy at the UN is killed by a spike coming out of the headphones which makes about as much sense as a silly sonic noise thingagmy doodad).
Bond's actual intro is both quietly confidant and pretty fucking awful. I like how it just gets on with the business of it being Moore now, no cutesy self-referential messing around. M comes into his apartment and says 'hello 007'. That's it job done. However this means it is not at all iconic. 

And then there's the matter of James Bond's flat. Oh dear. Just horrid. I still have waking nightmares about that kitchen. And the monogramed dressing gown. The horror, the horror.

Theme Song and Credits: A doozy of a tune (even if the word 'in' seems to be used far too much) but the usual shaved cooch and perky nipples which doesn't seem to make much of a potentially interesting tarot theme.

The Ladies: The standard is pretty high looks wise (but then it very rarely isn't so seems a bit of a redundancy). Jane Seymour is stunning though a bit dull (her direction appears to mostly have consisted of "Jane, Jane, arch your back some more") and Gloria Hendry is fun (though terribly written - we will get some more supposedly intelligent women acting like idiots with next month's Britt Eklund).

The Baddies
: Not for the first, or last, time do we get a great, interesting actor playing a not so great villain. Yaphet Kotto is terrific but doesn't really do all that much. There's an interesting assortment of henchmen though. Tee Hee has a cool hook, Whisper is just the right side of odd and has a gadgeted out pimpmobile and then there is the distinctive Baron Samedi performed brilliantly by Geoffrey Holder. Though he and the whole tarot gimmick sit very strangely in Bond's world.

License to Kill: Again it is a while before Bond really gets any action, where he fights a couple of thugs and runs away. Like Dr. No the first kill is not human. A snake taking place of a spider. Interestingly (or not) when watching this on ITV many years ago the cut out the bit where he actually kills it (presumably to stop kids getting the idea of using cigars and spray aftershave to burn things) so he appeared to just let Rosie Carver enter the bathroom to face the deadly creature (and made the line "Oh, a snake. I forgot, I should have told you. You should never go in there without a mongoose." even creepier)

Bond hates foreigners: Bond's treatment of African-Americans is far fairer than the films. He seems fairly colour blind and happily fucks italian, african-american and virgin american.
The movie however is slightly troubling. Just about every black person seems in league with the bad guys (or simply happy to see people killed off in front of them). Taxi drivers, shoe shiners, men on the street all pay respect to Mr. Big ("You got a honky on your tail").

We do have one character who is working for the good guys but he is of course killed off (though it's hard to claim that as racially motivated because Bond's compatriots do have a habit of dying no matter the colour of their skin).

Bond hates women: He's pretty horrid towards Rosie Carver ("Like I was saying a lousy agent but the compensations speak for themselves", "I certainly wouldn't have killed you before" - good to know necrophillia is not one of Bond's quirks) but his treatment of Solitaire really is hard to defend. Slipping her the equivalent of a supernatural roofie it's difficult not to see his taking of her virginity as anything but rape (especially when you think of him chuckling to himself as he buys 30 odd packs of tarot cards and takes the lover out of each one to create the trick deck).

Bond's crazy knowledge: Not much really on crocs all he offers is "Oh, I've always tried to keep them at arms length"

Bond's a big fat snob: "I liked Baines. We had the same bootmaker"

00's killed: A bunch of agents at the start. Baines seemed to be doing the same job as 007 but may not have been 00 material really.

Mini overview: There's some pretty good stuff here like a mostly fun boat chase with some great stunts but it suffers from it's modishness more than the sixties efforts (I like the bit where Moore seemingly glides in to Solitaires house on his gigantic shirt collar) and continues to highlight the crappier bits of the last few movies (I loved the jokes and silliness as a kid but they grate now)

Bond never mentions that the back of the cards have his number on but in a movie with men who can't be killed and psychic ladies it's not so strange I guess.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

From what I hear she pursued it in all directions.

Strangers on a Train (1951)
Chosen by Emma Jones who had this to say: 'Strangers on a Train ended up being one of the last Hitchcock films I saw. This was mainly due to the fact it is hardly shown on TV and this was a time when buying videos of films was both rare and expensive. I would pan through the films section of the Radio Times every week in the hope of catching a Hitchcock film to add to my recorded collection. I was in the end rewarded for my patience and collected my gem on an obscure week night (paranoid that my Dad had set the video wrong I sneaked downstairs to check the player was whirring and had the red record button lit). I thoroughly enjoyed the film, made even sweeter by the wait. It is a truly original thriller, with a story line that has been copied in films and even sitcoms. Farley Granger hardly made any films due to his untimely death and his two Hitchcock outings (Rope being his other) are by far his best. There are no weak links in the casting and a gripping scene that makes you think twice about going on a carousel!'

Massively influential (filmaday has already covered one film out this year based on this premise) but still gripping and tense.
Hitchcock is clearly a master at these games, there are many iconic images (Bruno staring ahead as everyone else looks side to side at a tennis match is a simple but unsettling image) amidst the silliness nessecary to ratchett up the tension (oh he just happens to drop the all important lighter down a drain - how convenient!).
Patricia Hitchcock is delightful as the younger daughter of a senator who seems pretty keyed in to the reality of the situation.

Monday, 29 August 2011

What you want me to say is, 'I love you'. Well I don't. I hate you, you little slut...

Brighton Rock chosen by Emma Jones who had this to say: 'This version of Brighton Rock is one of those rare films that doesn't let the novel down (mainly I suppose because Greene wrote the screenplay himself). I was first attracted to it through my love of all things Graham Greene (though I must admit I prefer Our Man in Havana and The End of The Affair). It is fast-paced, well-acted and showcases the wonderful Richard Attenborough's talents as the sadistic 'Pinkie'. The only thing that lets the film down is the ending which is softened by a ray of hope in the final scenes - the very opposite to the novel. Even with that in mind it is still an excellent film that trial blazes the path for all the angry young things who follow.'

I still haven't read the novel since reviewing the recent version (here), but a lot of my feelings towards that film apply here. Rose is still too slight a character and the plot hinges too many times on Brighton being a very small town. Pinkie too is still under served by the script but Attenborough's intense glowering performance makes up for it. The recording he makes still one of the more brutal things I have seen in film and the element of 'miracle' at the films climax a saving grace from wallowing in too much misery.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Behold and despair

Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

The kind of slickly made shit that can make going to the cinema tiresome at times (I'm not one of those people who'll say 'i'll never get those two hours of my life back' because let's face it what the hell else would I do with those hours?). Jut completely lacking in any passion for pulp storytelling it goes through the motions (oh yawn yet more dreary father issues) attempting to rouse you from slumber with spurts of blood and an incredibly loud, but not very interesting, soundtrack (and at the screening I was at failed even to do this as one man a couple of seats away fell asleep and was snorring quite soundly toward the end of the movie).
And what we really want to see in a Conan movie is of course an interminable time with him as a kid. Fucking Spider-man. Becomes one of the biggest movies and now everything has to have a long winded, ever so dull 'origin'. Ron Perlman is always a delight but even he can't save a seriously stupid birth scene (my second for this blog the past week) from overwrought pointlessness.
Nobody here comes out looking good. Momoa is ok but given such leaden dialogue and dull stuff to do.
Nispel directs this fantasy realm exactly as if it were The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and fails to inject any personality or fun into proceedings.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Turn Round

The Skin I live In (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot and love Almodovar's films.

Another terrific, challenging movie from Pedro (slightly pretentiously credited as just Almodovar at the beginning).
Banderas is absolutely electrifying as the Frankenstein-esque Doctor, never losing a certain sympathy for his revenge tactics (even as we the audience find out something he doesn't know that places his actions in an even worse light).
Subtle yet powerful, the end is played at a whisper, with just two words that cuts before the more melodramatic moment is shown and leaves a strange, haunting quality that stays with you long after leaving the cinema.

Friday, 26 August 2011

And for you Blunted... the balls

Apocalypto (2006)
Chosen by Wendy (kinda - I doubt she reads this but a few years ago I won it in a raffle at a Serenity screening she had organised).

Back before he popularised the term 'sugar tits' Gibson was mostly thought to be a bit strange for mounting this - a two hour sub-titled film with no known actors.
It's a fairly peculiar beast, competent in it's own way with a very straight forward chase narrative but also a tad cliche and second hand.
In fact, for all the oddness in language and cast the film feels so familiar in it's beats (though it manages a crazy moment or two including perhaps the silliest birth scene ever unless someone decides to adapt Stephen King's The breathing Method) that it's actually sort of dull.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Thirteenth Guest

The Thirteenth Guest (1932)
Chosen by me from a list of public domain films.

Ginger Rogers is fairly good in this daft but mostly fun mystery caper.
It's one of those movies with hidden passageways and overly complicated nonsensical plots (i still don't understand how the 13th guest is actually the 13th guest?).
Rather ramshackle in construction (and acting - the killer has a crazy laugh, for some reason) but still somewhat charming.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Well, why not? There have been giants before!

The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
Chosen by Mark Hooton who had this to say: 'Part two [though actually the third one of his I've watched - Me] of my attempt to drive David insane with terrible old school monster B-movies and this time it’s the Giant Gila Monster. The films were pretty much nothing happens 90% of the time and the other 10% you’re too bored to care. Again this film is great with a mate, late at night when you’re in a silly mood; I spent most of it doing bizarre southern accents and blaming the different animals for the teens disappearing, mostly desert liiiiions and mountain liiiiiions.'

Terrible. Dull. Terribly dull.
The Gila seems to act like a crotchety old man. Angry at teenagers, salesmen (actually the lone guy might not have been a salesman i may have fallen asleep and dreamt that) and noisy cars and trains.
Perhaps if they had played up this angle ('The body of a giant monster! The mind of a cantankerous ol' coot!') it could have been fun. But I doubt it.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

one martini gave me this headache maybe two will make it go away

Flight to Nowhere (1946)
Chosen form a list of public domain movies.

Fairly lacklustre mystery/spy thriller filled with silly red herrings and perhaps deliberate jokes (the main character - Hobe Carrington, is repeatedly knocked out).
It's ludicrously complicated, never have five people on a plane had so many different ways of trying to sell or deal with the same bit of information but shoves it all into about 75 minutes and manages some fun.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Well, nice people don't go murdering other nice people.

The Paradine Case (1947)
Chosen by Emma Jones who had this to say: 'I have always been an avid Hitchcock fan and whilst some of his films I've watched once or twice and appreciated the craft and skill of his work (Birds, Psycho, Marnie) others I watch on an alarmingly regular basis (Notorious, Spellbound, Rear Window, Vertigo, Rebecca). The Paradine Case falls into the regularly watched category!

One reason i love this film is that I cannot resist a Gregory Peck film. There is something comforting about him, and you know that you are in safe hands. Ann Todd is also excellent as his humiliated but understanding wife.The Paradine Case is a well-crafted courtroom drama but it also has depth and a very dark core. Some of the darkness comes from an extremely sinister performance from Charles Laughton as a sleazy, cruel and nasty judge. I have often thought that this performance was close to his own personality (sorry Charles if you were a thoroughly nice chap).'

Like a proto-erotic thriller. This like Emma's last recomendation Intermezzo is both coy about it's central stories infidelity and surprisingly blunt (I think we expect everything that's 'old' to be really twee about sex).
That said beyond some good performances (Peck is good, Laughton is terrific) Hitchcock's heart didn't seem in this one. It's rather perfunctionary and may have aged badly due to all the hokey cliches that have become commonplace since.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Whether you end up in Heaven or Hell isn't God's plan, it's your own.

Cowboys and Aliens (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot

Really needed less Cowboys and more Aliens. It seems to waste a huge amount of time setting up a complicated mess of differing groups and interests when really you just want to see them lasso some aliens and blow shit up with dynamite.
Craig and Ford are fine but neither get to play to the darkness other characters seem to think is within them and end up being slightly wispy fragments rather than actual personalities (at least Craig's Lonergan has an excuse for this even if it is the hoary old cliche of amnesia).

Saturday, 20 August 2011

I've lost my glasses!

The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Not entirely horrible.
But mostly.
Filled with terrible caricatures going through jokes that were old when Carry On Abroad did them. The central narrator's viewpoint is so banal and pointless, I hate him not for his personality dysfunctions but on the 'meta' level as he won't shut up telling us things the movie is showing you anyway (the best joke in the film rather succintly and smartly essays what his social problems can feel like as everyone else leaves happily through the school doors but the one in front of him remains locked).
It's all broadly overplayed, as though trying to reach the cheap seats though Greg Davies sneering, hammy teacher is at least fun.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast/I'm Irish. Racism is part of my culture.

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) and The Guard (2011)
Chosen by me from a list of public domain movies and because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Somehow yesterday I missed writing up an entry for the first time since I started. I still don't really understand what happened, it's been an odd week. So here's a two for one to catch up (where else are you going to get those two movies put together huh?)

The Beast of Yucca Flats is bad. Really bad. Cheaply and lethargically made (people keep running away from things supposedly scared but can never seem to manage more than a gentle jog which somewhat undermines the tension). And yet, it has a certain odd beat to it. In lieu of dialogue (I assume they couldn't afford good sound equipment) it has a strange hipster voice over (like a beatnik poet some great samples include - Flag on the moon. How did it get there? and Always on the prowl. Looking for something or somebody to kill. Quench the killer's thirst.) that lends it an occasionally eerie quality. It also begins with a pretty terrific flash forward (though where it is meant to fit in time wise i have no idea) where a woman is getting dry after a shower and an overbearingly loud tick tock is on the soundtrack.

The Guard is a complete gem. Very funny with a splendid performance from Brendan Gleeson and terrific support from a great cast including the usually reliable Don Cheadle and Mark Strong.
Assured direction and a witty script can't quite pull off a dockside shoot-out on the level, of say, the one in Usual Suspects but it mostly works and is much less important than the casual conversations, over drinks naturally (or in cars), and a storyline involving Gleeson's mother is nicely underplayed.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Doin' The Conga

Up in the Air (1940)
Chosen from a list of public domain movies. 

Fairly dull and nonsensical. A murder ostensibly kicks off plot proceedings but the film is much more interested in assorted people trying to get on a radio show.
Mantan Moreland (given only billing on that dvd cover but relegated to third in the film itself) gets most of the funny stuff though a lot of it is bug eyed 'Stepin Fetchit' style caricature that gave him a career for a long time but is generally viewed with contempt now.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I've killed a lot of men and sinned a lot of women

The Appaloosa (1966)
Chosen by Lauren Parker who supplied the dvd but hadn't actually seen it so no intro. Slacker.

A mostly solid if unremarkable western. Brando is ok here, seemingly doing a dry run of his mumbly Godfather voice (or he's just bored by the whole thing) and John Saxon is great as a villainous Mexican.
The plot is straightforward almost to the point of nothingness (I just want to get my horse back) but has a couple of interesting wrinkles.

Monday, 15 August 2011


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot

A clunkily titled and incredibly cliched (it fits in a fair few from 'mad science' movies aswell as a tiresome biggie from 'outbreak' films including, if memory serves, Outbreak) film but a solid and thought provoking entertainment none-the-less.
It will flip from moments of extreme silliness (most of the science here is iffy, even to me) to tender and slowly paced character pieces with another great computer generated performance form Andy Serkis.
It's a little too cute with the Planet of the Apes references (i liked the space ship stuff though) and our terribly one dimensional bad guy spouts a couple of the original films most famous lines which feels forced and hacky although one of these (Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!) is followed by a less well known reference (from the sequels) that works with a simple stunning power.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

You're beautiful, perplexing

Beautiful Lies (2010)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

It starts as a moderately amusing, nicely played farce - with anonymous letters declaring love, mix-ups in communication and other silliness but actually has a rather depressing, sometimes creepy undercurrent.
To the film's credit it does not ignore this and barring the very forced ending explores these issues, which might not make for a laugh-a-minute comedy but at least follows through on actually how horrible the main character is being, even if for a good reason.
One moment of the film, which seems played for joyous celebration (following a ladies feet as she walks down the street and starts to skip and dance along) is almost too much as her happiness is based on a deception you know will come crashing down and takes on an unbearable Final Destination-esque quality. Plus this comes after an extended sequence of the woman walking through town with no shoes on (something that creeps me out and I used to have recurring anxiety dreams about) so this section is to me more akin to a horror film than a rom-com.
Which makes it a pretty interesting film really.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

I see dumb people.

Harsh Times (2005)
Chosen from a list of DVDs Victoria Charvill was getting rid of.

Mostly well played (Rodriguez is especially good and J.K. Simmons is always fun) but grimly familiar.
It's ending is telegraphed to anyone who has seen Carlito's Way but the digressions it takes getting there are sometimes interesting (Bale starts to get recruited for Homeland Security who are quite happy he failed the LAPD's psych test) but when it falls back on the gangbanger and homelife cliches it bores.

Friday, 12 August 2011

You just said he was putting a load in some pinhead's dryer last night.

Kaboom (2010)
Chosen by Brian Marshall who had this to say: 'a strange film, it starts out as one thing then ends up something completely different. Witty scripting pushes this towards a comedy sex film, but the sex is like that you'd find in a 12A and the comedy moves towards lunacy as the film draws to a close. There's a mystery. A girl may or may not have gone missing and may or may not have been murdered. There may be creepy men running round in animal masks or it all could be the results of drugged cookies. Everything collides as the film quite literally rushes towards its ending leaving you realising that what you've just watched is 'nuttier than squirrel shit''

My college experience was nothing like this but movies keep insisting it should have been a drug fuelled orgiastic rampage.
Still the film is a fun romp, mixing in superhero beats (there's a brief discussion about a character's name coming from a Marvel comic) and Lynchian oddness (a very bizarre end of the world cult) with teen sex comedy stuff and the usual Araki frankness.
Sex and sexuality are as fluid as the loose grip on reality our main character has (though the strangeness begins before he has the potentially drugged cookie, leading to maybe a 'straight' reading of the plot). Others define him as homosexual but he seems less preoccupied with that and spends a lot of time fucking Juno Temple (rather wonderful here). 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Go soak your fat head

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)
Chosen by Mark Hooton who had this to say: 'Mine and Jim's least fave and the one we watched last, so we might have just burnt out by that point. It has some crazy threats of domestic violence in there with a shot gun and that's about all that really sticks'

Another dull monster quickie from the 50s. This one spends a lot of time with some odd sexual dynamics (I'm still not clear on the relationship between the fat one and the one who dies last or indeed what their names were) and swampland politics but never engages as a character piece or even as a monster movie.
The 'Giant Leeches' don't look too bad in the crappy black and white but are used too sparingly (the movies only 62 minutes but it could have fit in some more monster action in that time for not much more cost surely).

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

You are afraid to be in love, you are afraid of losing control

Walk the Line (2005)
Chosen by me from a list of DVDs Victoria Charvill was giving away.

Dull, dull, dull.
Some great music (though I'm fonder of the later period Cash this movie doesn't cover) and good performances but everything is so rigidly formulaic. You could swap the names and songs for anybody you wanted for all the difference it would make.
It plays a little Quantum Leap game with appearances from Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison but is so trite and rote that nothing really sticks in the memory.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Looks like a rat, smells like a skunk - some call them bone-eaters

The Killer Shrews (1959)
Chosen  by Mark Hooton who had this to say: 'Welcome to a film so bad the entire cast spend half of it drinking to escape the horror of actually trying to act in it. This is one of those films you watch with whole bunch of buddies and giggle at it and make jokes at the expense of the low production values and mild racism that is scattered throughout. I fear David may be watching it on his own and anything that would have made it entertaining will be lost to him, along with about an hour of his life. The best thing about this film was that in 1959 it had an estimated budget of $123,000 dollars; think how much that is adjusted! How can you not want to see a survival monster movie with a budget that huge it’s got to be pure gold…. Right?'

Well it's adjusted budget would be just under a million dollars. And it made ten times that much making it pretty profitable.
But yeah, it's a very dull film filled with people talking for ages in a kitchen and occasionally a shaggy dog thing kills one.
And that's about it.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Oh well, Uncle Charles - nobody will murder you here!

Intermezzo (1939)
Chosen by Emma Jones who had this to say: 'This film was introduced to me by my mum, who categorised it as one if her 'nice films'. It is a nice film, however it is so much more than that. It is a romantic film with a harsh reality-check. It has a line that has stayed with me from my first viewing at about 10 years old, that is: you can't build happiness out of the misery of others.

Even at that tender age I knew that Anita and Holgen could never really be happy together, and that their love affair was destined to be an Intermezzo. But that's ok, sometimes there are more important things than romantic love, you can't always put yourself first - and I respect this film for saying that. Anita doesn't throw herself off a bridge in an act of desperation, Holgen doesn't shoot himself out of misery, he goes back to his young family and she accepts a prestigious music scholarship. Parting is painful and always will be - but it's not the end of their worlds.

Intermezzo has so many great film elements: David O Selznick producing, the bewitching Ingrid Bergman (in her first Hollywood role), music arranged by Max Steiner and of course the phenomenal Leslie Howard; whose films are like rare gems due to his untimely death. It will always be one of my favourites and a must for a rainy afternoon'

Wow, well I can't really say it any better than that.
Bergman is a captivating, breathtaking presence. When we first see her play the piano it is easy to see why Howard would forsake his family (one that he is apart from for long periods) and she forms the strong backbone to a slight (a breezy 70 mins) tale.