Monday, 31 January 2011

you're not an Arthur. Maybe a David?

The Mechanic (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot. And I like action movies.

I have only vague recollections of the original Charles Bronson film (probably the best kind of films to do-over, the ones no-one recalls) not that it especially matters. It doesn't seem the type of film to throw in some gags referring to the movie it's remaking.
Ben Foster brings his usual strong performance to bear, once again playing someone whose violence lies just under the surface, visibly which gives the familiar plot a little frisson. It's not of matter of if, or even when, he will explode into violence but how strong and how wild.
Nothing else in the film really stands out, it lacks the knowing, tongue in cheek writing of Simon West's best movie -Con Air (that may sound like damning with faint praise but I like it) and the action or tone isn't really strong enough to get away from being so derivative of so many other Hitman films.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The successful criminal brain is always superior. It has to be!

Dr. No (1962)
Chosen by Blogalongabond which has lots to say about the movie.

We interrupt the normal proceedings (filmaday film 31 'The Mechanic' will be here tomorrow on schedule) to take part in the splendid communal blogging celebration of the fact a new James Bond film is coming up in Nov 2012. 22 months away. And with 22 official Bond films (not being asked to re-watch Never Say Never Again is probably for the best) it seemed serendipitous to review one a month. An idea spawned by the wonderful The Incredible Suit and picked up on by some terrific blogs like the one from Total Film writer and Derby QUAD regular Simon Kinnear.

There's already been some great examinations of Dr. No from the Blogalongabond bunch that I feel I have nothing much to contribute and am also very, very lazy.
So my entries will be short bullet pointed affairs, I dare say, looking at facets of the Bond films i am interested in.

So, onto Dr. No.

Bond's Intro: A full blown classic, first showing his hands, hearing his voice before finally revealing that cocksure face. Oh and does the whole 'Bond, James Bond; thing come about because that's the format Sylvia Trench introduces herself and he is mimicking her?

Theme Song and Credits: No real song here of course but the James Bond theme itself (and then some calypso three blind mice or something or other - who remembers that bit anyway?) which the movie goes on to use. A lot. Really. So much, even for scenes of Bond just walking across a corridor. Yeah.
The title sequence is pretty cool, very sixties and we have the female silhouettes from the start (though granted they are clearly clothed at the moment).

The Ladies: I love Sylvia Trench (can we not get an updated version for the new film?), stunningly beautiful and with a quiet confidence that is very attractive. More controversially perhaps I really don't like Honey Ryder. A fairly weak performance and a character who acts more like a girl than a woman (which to me makes Bond's advances on her really creepy) and has no real role in the film at all. Miss Taro also has little to do but be a rubbish spy (seriously, caught listening at the keyhole?) so is barely worth mentioning but he does fuck her I suppose, so here she is on the list. Moneypenny, like Sylvia Trench, exudes a sexy confidence with Bond that stops their scene feeling like a lecherous old pervert lusting after the boss' secretary and more the friendly playfulness of people who have known each other for years.

The Baddies: An area where Dr. No really falls down. I love Joseph Wiseman's performance here (the 'stupid policeman' line is great) but he is brought in too late to little effect. All we have left are a collection of thugs and idiots.

License to Kill: It's 42 minutes before we see Bond make his first kill and it's with a shoe. On a spider. With extreme prejudice. Then some goons in a car are killed but Bond really had nothing to do with that (their own idiocy and precariously volatile car took care of that). So Bond's real first kill is almost an hour into the film but it is a doozy. 'You've had your six' he says. 'Phut, phut' goes his silenced pistol. Umm but didn't Bond just ask him a question and had him covered and disarmed? Yeah Bond doesn't care, he's not much of a spy anyway - who needs to be told stuff when you can wander around a beach for ages. We then get a couple of guards killed before the fight with Dr. No. Once again Bond doesn't have anything to do with actually killing him particularly. Bond climbs up a metal frame. The Doctor can't. He really should have invested in rubber tips on those metal hands. Still when the base blows up (all these tropes right there from the start) some of the goons Bond knocked out whilst escaping must die in the blast so I guess he gets a few more kills in there.

Bond hates foreigners: his treatment of Quarrel is fairly reprehensible. 'Cover the boat', 'Fetch my shoes' 'go kill that dragon' and he thinks No must be working for the East because he shares their 'disregard for human life'.

Bond hates women: his attitude towards Miss Taro is a bit harsh, he has sex with her to pretty much pass the time before she gets arrested. But, well, she did try to kill him so...

Bond's crazy knowledge: yes M, he does know what Toppling is.

Bond's a big fat snob: on being offered some Dom Perignon '55 - 'I prefer the '53 myself'

00's killed: In fact casualties in the section are down 40%. That won't last.

Mini overview: A remarkably confidant film, sexy and interesting despite not much happening at all really (that it works at all is partly down to Connery's brilliant performance). The franchise may have solidified with Goldfinger but so much of it was right here.

Oh and I got through all this without mentioning Eunice Gayson's amazing, constantly arched right eyebrow (she was awesome, I shall try not to keep going on about her in next month's From Russia With Love entry)

Those goddamn Kennedys are gonna destroy this country

Thirteen Days (2000)
Chosen by James Bloodworth who had this to say about it: 'The majority of us probably remember the cold war stand off of the 1980's, the thought that the Russians would destroy us in a nuclear war with the machines rising through the ashes, sorry, wrong film. The Cuban Missile Crisis was arguably the closest the superpowers came to war, starting with a chance observation of what look like ICBM's being installed on the island of Cuba, this rapidly escalates with the US NAVY blockading the island. The story is told through the experiances of Kevin Costner's Kenny O'Donnell (special assistant to the president who in reality would not have done what is shown). Based on several books it is mean't to be quite accurate but Robert McNamara (who was Secretary of Defence at the time) plays down the role that O'Donnell played. For my money I think this is a very underrated film, Costner is workmanlike but I think Bruce Greenwood gives a great performance as Kennedy. The pacing is good and there is a tension throughout the film, like Apollo 13, you know how it's going to end but there's still a chance it could go wrong.'

Once again James offers up probably a few more words on the film than I will. But I have to do this every day dammit.
Thirteen Days is one of those reasonably exciting films that despite being based on well known real events manages to elicit some tension through good performances and solid, if unremarkable direction (beyond the annoying decision to put bits of it in black and white and repeated shots of nuclear explosions).
Bruce Greenwood and Dylan Baker are terrific and Costner's performance is mostly led by his accent but holds together well.
Firefly fans the splendid Michael Fairman plays another Adlai (different spelling granted) here to less sinister but pleasing effect.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

For the first time in my life, I am truly in love.

Barney's Version (2010)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot. And Paul Giamatti is awesome.

I often have a problem with voice-overs, they tend to just repeat information seen on screen and talk down to an audience.
Be careful what you wish for. I like the fact that Barney's Version is free of narration but the movie is from the perspective of Paul Giamatti and never quite gets into what drives him and by focussing on how miserable a guy he could be never satisfactorily offers up why women would keep being drawn to the mardy schmuck.
However it is a pleasing film, full of great performances (Hoffman hasn't been this good in ages) and skilfully, crisply directed.
The central mystery is a rather lame old urban legend, getting another airing but the film is clearly not about that, the fact the main character is accused of murder a mere after thought, but important to giving the story a backbone, more to engage with.

Friday, 28 January 2011

everyone is going to leave me. I know they are.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
Chosen by Lauren Parker who had this to say about it: 'Well I had to get Shia in there somewhere but I think A Guide to Recognising Your Saints proves he has some acting chops and that he should probably stop playing with robots.'

What if Robert Altman directed A Bronx Tale?
Well you'd probably have something far better than this movie, a messy, unaffecting coming of age tale. Too full of stylish tics rather than any actual substance, the character beats feel too shopworn (only Melanie Diaz whose matter of fact plaintive statement to camera - the title of this blog entry, offers genuine sadness), the milieu too familiar.
No other actor here is terrible, just unremarkable. Tatum offers up, as with some of his other movies, the promise of a greatness that never quite delivers (unless you want to count his abs, i guess).
Maybe if i was making a film of my life I would fill it with beats from great films too but Dito Montiel fails to turn his own into anything that feels worth telling, despite an obvious personal need for this (there is a scene with his actual father(?) after the end credits).

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Hey Elvira, I've got something you can suck the blood outta

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
Chosen by James Bloodworth who had this to say: 'Quickly pushed into production on the wave of Blair Witch mania, I think I'm alone in thinking that this is potentially a better film. Wisely not trying to emulate it's predecessor, it takes a different view and gives us a mild horror that bases the film around a tourguide taking people around sites used in the original film. It's a clever idea but doesn't really work, this was Director Joe Berlinger first and apparently only film and it does show. Good ideas aren't really built on, the film gets a bit plodding but still builds to what I think was a relatively interesting climax.'

The first 3 minutes are actually quite interesting, referencing the effect of the first film on the local townsfolk and promising a somewhat clever, little meta, sequel. However that all stops, barring the (very occasional) odd joke very quickly to settle into a kids in peril movie with little to distinguish it from a thousand straight to video snorefests.
This movie has a lot in common with Mazes and Monsters (film 18) in that it feels like a ode to the evils of drug use (bunch of kids go into the woods, get stoned, dance around naked and kill some people - happens all the time) and Wicca but is confused in it's message. It constantly, repitively moans at the squares for not getting witches and magic being about nature and not evil but then seems to ignore all that bluff to deal in the stereotypes it decries (particularly galling as this comes from the director of Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills)
In fact the film is full of forgotten or unexamined ideas. A character is introduced, mockingly, as being psyhic. Exhibits actual psychic power (or is just a good con artist). And that's it. Nothing is made of it (it potentially reveals one of the characters fates after the movie ends, I guess, depending on whether that State has the death penalty or not). One character has a past in a mental asylum, affects the movie not one bit, except to have some silly flashbacks to him bouncing around a padded cell.
The gore (what very little there is) is silly and shot horribly (remember kids don't take drugs - you will dance around naked and kill some people), the acting terrible (Kim Director as a Goth is passable everyone else is nails down a blackboard) and the film a mess.

It was suggested I should have lied and said I had seen this film already to avoid it but I play by the rules (you know? the ones set up by me so it's not like anyone would care anyway), and I feel richer for it, no matter the film (we shall see if I'm worn down on that before the end of Feb let alone the year).

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Stupidity has saved many a man from going mad.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
Chosen by me because I have a stack of dvds I've owned for years but haven't watched

I sometimes wonder if I'm not just kinder to older films than I would be if this was made as a new release. Not because of the advance on special effects or anything technical but just story telling.
A Matter of Life and Death hinges on the fact that the love between two people could change the very fates themselves but it kind of skimps on the actual love part. Small moments almost make it work (she drops her bike on seeing him and he catches it) but most of the time spent together is actually with David Niven being quite ill, she in fact spends more time and has more of a relationship with the village doctor.
Also David Niven disappears for a chunk of the movie which is given over to a dull debate over Britain or America being better that has no effect on the story what-so-ever.
And yet, this is a rather brilliant film, filled with some amazing, haunting even, shots. Niven is terrific and despite no real relationship between the leads at all it would be a cold heart indeed who doesn't well up a little at the end.

Of course that is me so fuck 'em.
If Niven hadn't stayed alive maybe the doctor, a far more interesting character would have survived.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ah, ballerinas. No wonder you two look alike.

Black Swan (2010)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot and it looked amazing.

The first must see movie of the year. Brilliantly shot, Aronosky has a great knack for making it seem as though the camera settles almost accidentally on the action giving a dream like more improvisational feel to the film. By grounding the world in the small details (fixing her shoes, the bits of back stage information) the pulpy tale of a sexually and socially repressed, internal perfectionist breaking out of her inhibitions to reach a greater level of performance is kept relatable amongst the weirdness.
Everyone gives brilliant performances (though Barbara Hershey as Portman's mother comes a little close to caricature at times) and the ballet sequences are splendid.
If the movie suffers a little it's that for as original as it feels (there can't be that many were-swan films out there right?) it's actually a tad second hand. Like a mix of Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, it also follows through The Wrestlers point of 'performance being all important' a little too closely (their conclusions are very similar) but it's a minor issue in an astonshing film.

Monday, 24 January 2011

She's a real carpenter's dream: flat as a board and easy to screw!

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Chosen by Lauren Parker who had this to say about it: 'Sleepaway Camp is the greatest bad film ever made. Everything about it is crap and yet it is one of the most entertaining films I've ever seen. If you don't crack at least a smile whilst watching I'm afraid you are dead inside!'

Sleepaway Camp is mostly famous for it's ending. A gloriously bonkers riff on Psycho, even knowing the end, as I did, going in doesn't diminish the sheer lunacy of it all.
Coming a few years after the likes of Friday the 13th, The Burning and their ilk, it follows a similar structure of first person stalking and killing but is focused less on a punishment on kids' irresponsibility but more about forcibly repressed sexuality (though i may have this theme on my mind at the moment as I saw Black Swan last night).
However I think this may be more of an accident than design, the film is a little confused (and has dodgy sexual politics generally) a rather horrid paedophile hick is horribly maimed but survives and some young kids whose only crime seems to be kicking some sand in the leads' face (perhaps, I'm a trifle unclear on who was actually murdered at the end) are viciously chopped up with an axe.
Relatively tame for a 'slasher' there is little gore (and most of what we have is reasonably effective, a decent arrow through the neck stunt makes up for a terribly unconvincing burn victim) and until the very end no nudity at all. Joe Bob Briggs may be disappointed.
The acting is pretty much what you would expect, ranging from competent (jonathan tierstan's delightfully foul mouthed teen) to hilariously awful (desiree gould's unbelievable turn as an oddball aunt) but Felissa Rose, as the lead Angela comes out of it very well. Perhaps because for half the movie she has no dialogue, but she gives an engaging and sympathetic performance.
The film is rather cheap looking. A pointless baseball game is very underpopulated (at one point you hear a crowd cheering them but see nobody but the few boys playing) and one actor has possibly the worst fake moustache ever committed to film.
Amazing. And they gave it a shot in full light.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

I've got lady wood

The Dilemma (2011)
Chosen by me as I like going to the cinema a lot and because the line was too long and I missed my chance for Black Swan.

In a recent interview director Ron Howard claimed he hadn't made a comedy in quite some time.
Well, he still hasn't.
Dreadfully earnest (Vaughn has an out loud conversation with God that comes from nowhere) and painfully long this wants to be a serious examination of the terrible position a friend could be in but also a wacky comedy. Channing Tatum and Queen Latifah clearly weren't told about the overly dramatic side of the film and overplay to the full, but at least the inject a modicum of life and energy into the dull preceedings.
It works for about the first ten minutes, showing the close friendship between two likeable leads before the plot kicks in and Kevin James is given nothing else to do but fret over the sound of a car's engine.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

I'm not saying the word fluffy

Morning Glory (2010)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot. Plus Rachel McAdams is adorable.

Not as horrible as the similar but woman hating Kathryn Heigl vehicle The Ugly Truth (though this dabbles in the career women must have empty lives cliche it's mostly secondary and not nearly as abhorent) the romance angle is in fact pushed to the background to focus on McAdams trying to be good at her job. Unfortunately the film spends so much time setting up a grumpy unusable Harrison Ford, that when the film starts actually getting a pace to it (basically by abusing Matt Malloy as much as possible) it's almost over and the turnaround in fortunes a little too pat and unconvincing.
McAdams exhibits her usual charm, and Ford is intermittently amusing as an old curmudgeon.
If you took out the numerous montage scenes set to forgettable songs the film would probably be about 10 minutes long.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Fort Sumter has been fired upon.

The General (1926)
Chosen by me from my stack of unwatched DVDs.

I use as my titles for each blog entry a quote from the film that I think is funny or indicitive of the movie or just something I can remember (I should possibly take notes, for a couple of films I've had to watch the trailer afterwards to pull a quote) so of course I decided to catch a silent movie last night. Not known for their illuminating dialogue, I could have just gone for a simple '...' but since I've got at least 2 more silent films on the pile that joke would get old fast. And seeing as I don't know how to write the plinky piano sounds of the soundtrack I've settled for one of the dialogue cards. So there we go.

That is more than I am likely to write about the film itself, which I found a little dull. A weak ineffectual lead bumbles his way through to being a hero, undeservedly. This would be fine if it was funny, but a couple of neat gags aren't enough for it's 75 mins running time, despite some good looking shots and obvious love for the trains.

Check out the delightful Dexter's Films for another look at The General with an adorable photo

Thursday, 20 January 2011

I could tell you what's happening, but I don't know if it would really tell you what's happening.

Solaris (2002)
Chosen by James Bloodworth who had this to say: 'The first film where George Clooney showed me he could act. I'd never seen the original russian version and like a lot of films it just wasn't on for long enough for me to go and see it. It tells a story of loss and more importantly, how you come to terms with it if you can. Production values are excellent and Steven Soderbergh directs with a deft touch but in trying to emulate 2001 it suffers from the slow pacing that takes place in the latter half of that film. The cast aside from Clooney are all good but the film never really soars, it has no Stargate to escape through. This wasn't terribly successful at the time as like so many other films it was billed as something it wasn't and the subsequent hype seemed to be because we get to see George Clooney's arse.'

This is the first film lent to me that I have loved.
Clooney delivers a wonderful, understated performance (and indeed shows off his arse a fair bit which also delivers a wonderful, understated performance). The first half of the film is basically an elongated version of the seduction scene from Out of Sight and I mean that as a very good thing. Beautifully shot, full of the romance of slight movements and few words, gliding elliptically as two people come together but tinged with the sadness of the knowledge of future events, stunningly gorgeous with a haunting, subtle score.
The movie loses it a little as it delves into the morality of what it is presenting, the philosophy being a bit pat (indeed at one point Natasha Mcelhone's characters herself becomes pissed off with the pretentious nature of one debate) but by being tied explicitly to one man's memory and sense of loss, and by not over staying it's welcome manages to be an elegiac ode to love.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Come, villainy. Death awaits you.

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God

Chosen by Owen Todd who had this to say about it: 'This film is so bad it has to be seen to be believed. The first film was pretty bad, but at least it didn't try to take itself seriously! The main reason for reccomending this film is to increase Dave's knowledge of his target market...honest!'

On days like these I wonder if I will make it through a month of a new film a day, let alone a year. Like a crappy, overly serious, way too long episode of Xena this film just kinda exists to give Dungeons and Dragons nerds a couple of in jokes to 'laugh' at (well exhibit acknowledgement of anyway, nothing here is actually funny) so they can claim it is better than the first one.
When Bruce Payne is the 'biggest' name you have, you may be in trouble.
And so ends my mini Dungeons and Dragons theme for the blog, thank god.
If I never see a really crappy rendering of a dragon fire-balling villagers, over and over and over, again it would be too soon.

I really need to see a good film tonight.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Mazes and Monsters is a far out game

Mazes and Monsters (1982)
Chosen by James Bloodworth who had this to say about it - 'Potentially Tom Hanks's first starring role, this came out in the early 80's at the height of the D&D fad, and the concern surrounding it. It's a thinly veiled attack on the dangers of RPG's and the effects they have on their players. It's mean't to be based on actual events but googling throws that into a potential gray light. It's not a brilliant film but it remains a curio from a bygone age.'

We never had quite the cycle of Dungeons and Dragons is evil films like we did with drugs (they did make a couple of teevee movies about a famous murder which made the implication that DnD was to blame) and indeed this could easily fit in the 'marijuana is bad' mould except that the kids are playing a Roleplaying Game rather than partaking of the weed (Hanks even attempts to fly by jumping off a building at the end in the classic drugs cliche) and is as laboured and ill thought out as that sounds.
It's not quite silly enough to be enjoyable (Hanks thinks the subway train is a dragon and stabs a mugger he thinks is an evil monster - played by the Predator himself Kevin Peter Hall,  but mostly just wanders around looking dazed whilst ominous music plays), the Jack Chick tracts that link DnD to Satanism are far funnier.
In fact the 'game' aspect barely matters and it's just about a guy having a psychotic breakdown and only a cop character played by Murray Hamilton, the mayor from Jaws, really pushes an anti DnD line.
Dull, dull, dull.

Monday, 17 January 2011

You do it or I'll kill you, that's your sister and your lawyer talking

Conviction (2010)
Chosen by me because I go to the cinema a lot also I love Sam Rockwell.

Pretty much does what is says on the tin. It is raised from teevee movie of the week territory by strong performances but has very little to say about it's subject matter. Despite throwing roadblocks in the way (the evidence is missing, a witness realises she could put herself on the line for perjury) it has very little dramatic weight - essentially a woman goes to school to help her brother and that's it. It's worthy and I admire her, ahem, conviction, but it's all rather dull.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

I gotta call you back. I ran someone over.

Henry's Crime (2010)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot also I had heard nothing about this movie apart from Judy Greer was in it - that was enough.

It really wants to be Bottle Rocket, a low key comedy about bumbling crooks with an interesting soundtrack and James Caan. It's not as good as that film, of course, but not without it's pleasures. Vera Farmiga continues to be an engaging presence on screen but it's asking for trouble when it wants us to believe Keanu Reeves would be good in a Chekov play (or indeed anything).
Not funny or confidant or off beat enough to be a hidden gem but not a waste of time either.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

We will pose as villains to get close to the bad guys. That way, no one will suspect we're really the good guys.

The Green Hornet (2011)

Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot, plus I'm a fan of Michel Gondry.

A little too sombre to work fully as a comedy, the arguments between the two leads mean there is little in the way of chemistry or even much of a reason to care why they would want to be heroes (because they are bored is all the film really offers).
Otherwise a generally fun time with decent if not spectactular action scenes, a good actor playing an ok bad guy (his moderately interesting through line of wanting to be seen as a super villain never quite gets the pay-off it needs).
There is next to no reason why Britt Reid should think posing as a criminal is a good idea, but since the film plays him as an idiot, I guess that doesn't particularly matter.

Friday, 14 January 2011

What can I say? I was raised by wolves.

Hoodwinked (2005)

Chosen by Owen Todd who had this to say about the film: 'I recommended Hoodwinked because I feel it is underated animated film. It's funny, has catchy songs and the plot is cleverly woven between the four characters sides of the story to try and keep you guessing as to who the 'goodie bandit' is.'

Oof. Second recommended film and another I didn't like. Sorry guys.
Absolutely terrible, cheap looking animation amplifies the blandness of this Shrek wannabe. Patrick Warburton is one of the great voices of film and teevee but has little to work with here as the film gets so worried about being clever it forgets to be funny. It has some moderately interesting ideas (the big bad wolf is re-imagined as a crusading reporter) but does nothing with them in it's thankfully short running time (cut out the horrid forgettable songs and some of the pacing problems might be gone).

Thursday, 13 January 2011

I've made a hobby out of fleeing chasing women.

Wonder Woman (2009)
Chosen by Matt McGowan (inadvertently - a friend dropped it off at the store to be picked up by Matt, I took this a sign I had to watch it, yeah I'm making the rules up as I go along)

Perfectly adequate in most respects. Animation is decent if a bit uninspired, the action is bloodless but brutal, people die left, right and centre. The voice work is ok, only Fillion seems able to not trip over all the horribly clunky dialogue and make it sound like actual speech (for the most part - even his Steve Trevor can't quite make the quote I've used as my title sound like something anybody would ever really say).
Ares looks like an Albino Eric Roberts.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

I smell a philosopher.

The Last Legion (2007)

Chosen by James Bloodworth who had this to say on it: 'Anything Arthurian is always bound to attract my attention (exception of Python) so I'd seen the poster at the cinema but never saw the film and just assumed I'd missed it. Reading on the internet, like most of DeLautentiis's films, it had undergone a turgid release history (although not as horrid as Outlander). It's based on a book and focuses on the decline of the Roman Empire, Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley are it's stars but it also has an impressive secondary cast. Ultimately, I like it because it takes its subject matter seriously and has some good set pieces and battles. The direction wavers at times but the onscreen chemistry between the primaries carry it on. The pacing is good and the action sparkles it along.'

Well first I'd like to thank James for the lend of the film but also giving more than a few words (he lent me about 5 and has done a short write up for each - what a trooper) on why he owns it. In fact most of the bits he sent me are probably longer than whatever I will end up writing but there we go.

This was an incredibly dull film filled with terrible accents (Kingsley seems to be doing the same Welsh thing Postlethwaite did in The Usual Suspects, I guess it kinda makes sense) and perfunctory plotting. The actions scenes are lacking in excitement and the dialogue that passes for flirting is terrible. Firth brings his inherent dignity but is horribly miscast, too noble and stiff to be the 'Han Solo' the movie so wants him to be (still he's not as bad as the pointless Darth Vader character they have) but can't deliver. This is the Krull of the 2000s.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

She rejected you! That's why you want her.

Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.
All over the place tonally, it most resembles an attempt to combine the sappy rauchiness of American Pie with the sappy sappiness of Love Story. It offers plentiful nudity from the incredibly attractive Jake Gyllenhaall and Anne Hathaway which may be enough to satisfy some. But in it's attempts to mix the story of a man ditching his financially rewarding job to look after the woman he has come to love with the story of a man who catches his brother whacking off to a video of him and his Parkinson's suffering girlfriend it fails to find a solid foundation to work with and emerges a rather horrid mess.
It has some fine support in Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt but the brilliant Judy Greer is mostly wasted in a nothing role.

He has sensitive hearing

It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

Chosen by me because I like going to the cinema.
A generally likeable comedy drama with some earned sweetness but it's all a bit twee and second hand. It really, really wants to be 'this years Little Miss Sunshine'

This thing has carved out a territory and you're in it!

Outlander (2008)

Chosen by me from my stack of unwatched DVDs because it's Vikings Vs. Aliens - what more could you want?
Day 8 (as I saw this not as I write this) and already my second cheesy Ron Perlman film. Perlman himself is not in it all that much and continues his trend of odd accents in genre movies but thankfully this was a lot more interesting than the dull Season of the Witch. Perhaps a touch too long (oh wait, yet another person has been taken by the Alien - sigh) to be fully great but it mostly plays fast and furious and oh so silly. Good fun.

I can't do this every morning, it's way too corny

The Next Three Days (2010)

Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.
A solid thriller for the most part, well played by the leads and paced by writer/director Paul Haggis. I'm pretty sure I watched the well regarded original French film but barely recall it, and this one too I imagine will fade in the memory with nothing espcially interesting to recommend it. It miss-judges one moment (prominently displayed in the trailer as Elizabeth Banks almost gets hit by a truck) so badly that the next (and indeed last) 10/15 minutes of the film feel weirdly deflated, a pointless stunt done with shockingly bad CGI.
Community fans Professor Professorson himself Kevin Corrigan turns up as a drug dealer (or is he? well, yes he is, this film isn't a conspiracy thriller after all - or is it? no, it isn't.)

You're not afraid of me...are you?

Season of the Witch (2010)

Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.
Not nearly as bad as perhaps it could have been which means it's also not nearly as interesting as it could have been. A rather tiresome road trip, it hides its' twist reasonably well (i don't mean the question of whether Clare Foy is evil or not - that's covered pretty early and by the trailer but there we go) if you're not paying close attention. But if you are, I'm not sure it quite makes sense anyway.
Cage sleepwalks his way through the role and nobody can seem to settle on an accent or, I imagine, any reason to be in this film. Fight scenes mostly consist of men or wolves throwing themselves onto weapons being held by Ron Perlman or Cage. So basically could have been replaced with strategically placed trees.

Monday, 10 January 2011

He must've tripped over Des O'Connor.

Eric & Ernie

Photograph: BBC/Colin Hutton/BBC
Chosen by me. Because it was on iplayer and I've always liked them. Oh and it's made for teevee but I've set up no rules about that so I'm counting it.
Morecambe and Wise are one of the British comedy institutions that I have some fondness for but also don't really know much about. This was a strong, funny film with an interesting glimpse into the last days of vaudeville and early television. Well performed, by the young versions of the double act particularly, this went through the usual beats of a biopic but felt a little less second hand than some (god help me if I see another one about a struggling musician who makes good and then bad and then good).

They rifled through my underwear.

Following (1998)

Chosen by me as I've owned it for years (7 or so maybe).
Following is a neat, fun little thriller. With an interesting enough character in Cobb (a name later re-used by Nolan of course) and short enough running time to excuse it's rawness. It plays with time and identity like some of Nolan's later much better known films and is meticulously (if a little obviously) plotted echoing some of the great Noirs like Double Indemnity and Last Seduction.

...Timing isn't my strong suit.

The King's Speech (2010)

Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.
The King's Speech is everything you've probably heard in the rave reviews it seems to be getting. Extremely well played, Firth is excellent, it's funny, even gripping in it's own way.
And yet the whole thing can't help but repulse me. The idea a King represents the voice of a people (even if begrudgingly and sympathetically as shown here) is absolutely abhorrent. It just turns my stomach.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

I wanted a bracelet not a great big hairy beast

Movie 3. Chosen by me. Because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Gulliver's Travels (2010)

I'm generally a Jack Black supporter. I think he has a genuine charisma and presence on screen which is unfortunately rarely exploited to any interesting degree. Gulliver's Travels continues this trend. Another pointless 3-D film with little in the way of wit or invention. It populates the film with British comedians and gives them nothing to do and Jason Segal and Emily Blunt can barely seem to keep their eyes open. 
The film almost comes alive in an extremly silly bit of non-sequitur where everyone makes up by dancing to the Edwin Starr song War. This seems like a very fragile kind of peace to me, I doubt they would all spontaneously burst out into Agent Double O Soul the next time an argument occurs.

You need more than luck in Shanghai

And onto film 2. Chosen by me. From a stack of films I own and have never gotten around to watching. This stack of films (including some vhs from over ten years ago) is a big reason for doing this film a day thing.

The Lady From Shanghai (1947)

The Lady from Shanghai benefits enormously from a couple of things. Rita Hayworth is amazing and it has brilliant opening and ending scenes. 
The start of the film sizzles, and is sexy and funny in a way that the rest of the film never really lives up to. After this the film meanders for quite a while never really getting around to doing anything especially interesting for a long time but has little moments and flourishes that means it never becomes dull. It then goes a bit strange with a comedy court scene that never seems to make any sense and that everyone in seems to be off their head on laughing gas.
However things pick right up again for the incredibly famous and massively influential climax in a hall of mirrors. Which just looks absolutely terrific and I'm so glad I finally bothered to put this disc in the machine.

I am the backbone of colonial America!

I am still not entirely certain of the purpose or format for this blog, I want to do individual entries for each movie, hopefully more or less each day (though I'm already behind on that). But I'm a rather lazy writer with a preference towards writing short summaries of what I thought of a movie than something offering any depth particularly. Also I tend to write these as if to myself, so will very, very rarely mention any plot details or what the film's actually about as I prefer to just sketch in what did or didn't work for me. Oh and I tend to use parentheses (a lot).

In an effort to add some bulk, but also to allow a difference of voice and perhaps a more personal touch I will be asking anyone who lends me a film to just give me a few thoughts on it. Why they have lent it to me? What do they think is especially good (or bad, or just interesting) about it? Do they have a personal connection to it - was it the first film they saw at the cinema? That kind of thing. Just a few words to pad out my posting. It won't be a mandatory requirement so not giving me a few thoughts won't negate Rule 2. At least for now.

And so, on to the first movie I saw this year. Lent to me by Nottingham Film Critic Lauren Parker (although not as part of Rule 2 - I had in fact asked for this, and was given it last year but as i started to think of this endeavour I decided to save it for Jan 1st and the premier film).

Choke (2008)

This is a movie with a lot to like about it - another great performance from the ever reliable Sam Rockwell, it's funny and offbeat and filled with those little bits of typical Chuck Palahniuk business, the anarchist's handbook style details.
But writer/director and actor Clark Gregg (probably best known now for playing the slightly pathetic Shield agent in the Iron Man movies) doesn't have the strength of tone to carry off the Palahniuk novel with the same verve and success of Fincher's Fight Club (though that was also a better book to be fair). It all feels a bit too slight, with no consequence.
There is some fine support in Anjelica Huston and Kelly Macdonald.
Community fans - Cherry Daiquiri (that's not her real name) is played by Gillian Jacobs and is great in the brief couple of scenes we get with her.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

End of the first week, start of the blog.

I watch, it could be said, quite a lot of movies. Not as many as, say, a Kim Newman but more than some.
But still, you could watch a film everyday for your entire life and not catch all the good and interesting (or just plain bad and interesting I guess) stuff out there.

However I decided that I would try it for anyway.Not for life. Just for a year. A good excuse to fill in some missing gaps in my viewing and hopefully find some hidden gems.

I'm not entirely sure how long this blog will last or what format I will do it in yet really. I run my own business so it maybe that that will take precedence over this silly little endeavour I have set up for myself.

To make it more fun I have come up with some rules. Well two really, but again as this thing goes along it may change.
Rule One: Everyday I must watch a film I have never seen before*
Rule Two: If someone brings me a film that I haven't seen I have to accept it and watch it within a month.

*this will actually work out on an average i think with me 'banking' some films for the days when I am unable to catch something.

I am hoping that people will indeed bring me films in to watch, as I have very little money to buy or rent, but mostly because I want many different thought processes going into what movies I should be watching - although many people, on hearing rule two do immediately say 'hmm what crap do I have at home I can make you watch' but, hey, that's part of the game.

I am typing this on the morning of the 8th with seven films watched.
They are;
Lady from Shanghai
Gulliver's Travels
The Kings' Speech
Eric and Ernie
Season of the Witch.

If i have time tomorrow I hope to add some thoughts about each film, and whatever I catch tonight.

Suggestions for films will be gratefully received but actual physical copies of said films dropped off to my store will be even better