Saturday, 29 March 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Well, that wasn't what I expected. I was expecting a bit of a biog and what I got was a story of forgiveness via the proxy of Walt Disney. Yes the film was manipulative but which films aren't. The flashback sequences worked very well. Tom Hanks was perfect as Disney but Emma Thompson shone as P.L Travers.

Sad, joyfully and light hearted in the right places. Put it this way; my wife has only one film that she has enjoyed watching more than once (Withnail & I) but even she said she'd like to see this again!

Original letterboxd review

Sunday, 23 March 2014

La Strada (1954)

Cry, laugh, cry, laugh, cry, laugh. Masina is absolutely fantastic. Some people have said she over-acted; I'm not so sure. To me her performance was that of an actor in a silent film. With so little dialogue she acted with her body and conveyed the emotions required perfectly. What was the film about? The basic idea is that everyone and everything has a purpose and Masina's purpose is to slowly crack Quinn's brutish exterior. Redemption through the acts of another. Terrific film.

Original letterboxd review

Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

A one word review: Oddball!

Original letterboxd review

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Face/Off (1997)

Nick Cage playing John Travolta playing Nick Cave! Nick Cage at his most Nick Cagey. What's not to like?

Original letterboxd review

Before Sunrise (1995)

A beautiful, sublime film. Love compressed, by necessity, into a few hours. Hesitant, then more confident, the shared moments, disagreements, laughs and then goodbye. The end was particularly poignant. The places visited by the young couple, once filled with people, magic and love; now empty, ordinary and soulless. Don't tell the wife but I fell a little in love with Julie Delpy.

Original letterboxd review

C’était un rendez-vous (1976)

The following review comes from someone who doesn't particularly like cars.

Merc or Ferrari, it's still a great little film. With the low slung camera you get a real sense of speed even though the car, allegedly, never exceeds 85 mph. No plot, no acting, no dialogue, just a car racing through the Paris streets in the early hours of the morning. Vroom vroom!

Original letterboxd review

Friday, 21 March 2014

16 Blocks (2006)

Managed about 20 minutes before I had to turn it off because of Mos Def's voice. Tried several times since.

Original letterboxd review

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Only God Forgives (2013)

A stunningly shot film about revenge and redemption. The use of colour reminded me a lot of Argento's Suspiria. In fact with its minimal plot, beautiful set pieces and static camera work it owes a great deal to Argento. Also the film is dedicated to Jodorowsky and and shows in its shot composition. Winding Refn says screw you to fast cuts, explosive action and inane dialogue and instead gives us an almost serene art-house thriller that's beautifully paced, well acted and only contains dialogue that adds something to the film rather than the constant white-noise we usually get. Loved it!

Original letterboxd review

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mad Max (1979)

Take note Tarantino; this is a grindhouse classic. A near perfect action film with great editing, cinematography and dialogue. The 2.35:1 ratio is perfect for the Australian outback and the wide, straight roads. This and the zoom shots of eyes nod to Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns - in fact Mad Max is very much an Aussie western. Crows cawing precede each action sequence apart from the finale in which a bird of prey appears just as Max seeks revenge. Please watch this film with the original Australian soundtrack as the colloquialisms are fantastic - any film with a kid called sprog is all right in my book.

"They say people don't believe in heroes anymore. Well, damn them! You and me, Max, we're gonna give 'em back their heroes!"

Original letterboxd review

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)

A pretty decent attempt at a biog of Miss Bettie Page. Yes it focuses on the early part of her career - understandable as the court case is pretty intriguing and a great story to hang her story on.

BTW I became a member of the Bettie Page fan club years back and still have my membership card, photos etc. Sadly this was one of Betties only sources of income in her later years. She always seemed like a real sweetheart.

Oh and Gretchen Mol is excellent.

Original letterboxd review

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Streets of Fire (1984)

"Custom cars, kissing in the rain. Neon, trains in the night. High speed pursuit, rumbles. Rock stars, motorcycles, jokes in tough situations. Leather jackets and questions of honour" - Walter Hill.

I loved this film back in the eighties and thought I'd buy the blu-ray hoping that the unique feel of the film hadn't been distilled by time. Nope. It starts as it means to go on with music, neon lights reflected on rain-puddled streets and cartoon violence.

There's only one scene that jars and that's the Sorels' penultimate doo-wop number. The music just didn't fit with the Steinman's anthemic bookending numbers or the rawer rock n roll of the Blasters and Ry Cooder's incidental music.

Loved Cody's rifle that thinks it's a rocket-launcher, loved the punch in the train, the bikes, the girls, the coat. I even loved the weird suspender leather trousers that Dafoe wears. And the bikes! Real, proper dirty looking motorcycles that actually look like they're ridden by hardcore bikers that would stomp you first and ask questions later and not chrome coated, leather-fringed, garbage wagons.

And yes I was singing along with Ellen at the end - "This is what it means to be young" sung by a near 50 year old may be absurd but then this is Streets of Fire; an absurd film that I love dearly.

Original letterboxd review

Salem’s Lot (1979)

Just one of my favourite horror films (well miniseries really). It absolutely terrified me when I was young and, if I was being truthful, still gives me the willies when I climb a dark staircase to bed. The first appearance of Barlow, transporting the coffin in the van and, of course, Danny Glick at the window. Terrific and, I think, the best Stephen King adaptation.

The only vampire film to beat this would be the adaptation of Robert McCammon's They Thirst and they haven't made that one yet!

Original letterboxd review

Friday, 7 March 2014

Found (2012)

A terrific take on the serial-killer film told from the perspective of a younger brother. Excellent characterisation and terrific acting from the two young leads. The final image will stick in your mind for weeks.

Original letterboxd review

Unidentified (2013)

Terrible, terrible, terrible. It starts off as a drunken road trip type movie (and I really hate those), then tries to insert a little from a Vegas gambling movie, then moves into a backwoods/desert horror movie, then a UFO/close encounter movie and ends up a complete mess.

Original letterboxd review

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

I honestly didn't think I could last the length of the film as the beginning was so depressing and sad. I don't think I've seen a film that affected me as much as Bad Boy Bubby. All characters were wonderfully rounded, the cinematography was, on occasion great, the soundtrack (especially the ambient sounds at the beginning) was one of the best I've heard. Send the kids to bed and get the hankies out.

Original letterboxd review

Night of the Demon (1957)

One of the greatest horror films ever made.

I've loved this film since I was a child. It is one of the few genre films that doesn't seem to have lost any impact in the 40 years since I saw it first. Niall MacGinnis is fantastic as the almost childlike but sinister Karswell and Dana Andrews (drunk or not) introduces just the right amount of scepticism into proceedings . Stand-out scene: the children's party! Give me this over any of these modern teen horrors any day.

Original letterboxd review

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

An utterly beautiful film. I recommend the Masters of Cinema 3 disc set.

Original letterboxd review

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Gravity (2013)

A bare-bones plot with minimal characterisation but an extremely well paced roller-coaster of a film. A rating of 4.5 may seem rather high but I haven't had so much fun watching a modern film in ages.

Original letterboxd review