Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh, and, for you Oscar watchers...

BAFTA released their list (all films they're considering).

12 and Holding
16 Blocks
36 Quai des Orfèvres
37 Uses for a Dead Sheep
Akeelah and the Bee
All the King's Men
Alpha Male
American Dreamz
American Haunting, An
Ant Bully, The
Arthur and the Invisibles
Couple, The
Ask the Dust
Atomised (Elementarteilchen)
Ballad of Jack and Rose, The
Ballets Russes
Be With Me
Being Cyrus
Benchwarmers, The
Big Nothing
Black Book (Zwartboek)
Black Dahlia, The
Black Sun
Blood Diamond
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan Break Up, The
Breaking and Entering
Brothers of the Head
Buenos Aires 1977
Casino Royale
Charlotte's Web
Child, The (L'Enfant)
Children of Men
Clerks II
Cockles and Muscles (Crustacés et Coquillages)
Covenant, The
Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul
Curious George
Da Vinci Code, The
Dead Man's Cards
Death of Mr Lazarescu, The (Moartea Domnului Lazarescu)
Deep Water
Departed, The
Devil and Daniel Johnston, The
Devil Wears Prada, The
Diameter of the Bomb
Dirty Sanchez
Don't Come Knocking
Down in the Valley
Driving Lessons
Echo Park L.A.
Eight Below
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Esma's Secret (Grbavica)
Factory Girl
Fanaa (Destroyed in Love)
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,
The Fateless (Sorstalanság)
Flags of Our Fathers
Flushed Away
Fog, The
For Your Consideration
Forest for the Trees (Wald vor lauter Bäumen, Der)
Forty Shades of Blue
Fountain, The
Friends with Money
Frozen Land (Paha Maa)
Fun With Dick and Jane
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
Good Year, A
Goya's Ghosts
Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, The
Grizzly Man
Happy Feet
Hard Candy
Harsh Times
Heading South
History Boys, The
Holiday, The
Host, The (Gwoemul)
I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed (J'ai Vu Tuer Ben Barka)
I Was Jonathan Pitt
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Ice Harvest, The
Imagine Me and You
Inconvenient Truth, An
Inside Man
It's a Boy Girl Thing
It's Winter (Zemastan)
January 2nd
Joy Division
Kabul Express
Lady in the Water
Lady Vengeance (Chinjeolhan Geumjassi)
Lage Raho Munnabhai
Lake House, The
Last King of Scotland, The
Last Kiss, The
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Life and Lyrics
Little Children
Little Fish
Little Man
Little Miss Sunshine
Lives of the Saints, The
London to Brighton
Lost Embrace (El Abrazo Partido)
Love + Hate
Man Push Cart
Marie Antoinette
Miami Vice
Mind of Her Own, A
Mischief Night
Miss Potter
Mission Impossible III
Monster House
Mountain Patrol (Kekexili)
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
My Angel (Mon Ange)
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Nacho Libre
Nativity Story, The
Never Say Goodbye (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna)
Night at the Museum
Night Listener, The
Night People
Notes on a Scandal
Notorious Bettie Page, The
Omen, The
Once in a Lifetime
Open Season
Over the Hedge
Page Turner, The (La Tourneuse de Pages)
Pan's Labyrinth
Paper Clips
Paradise Now
Pavee Lackeen: The Traveller Girl
Perfume - The Story of a Murderer
Pervert's Guide to Cinema, The
Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, The (L' Accordeur de Tremblements de Terre)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Plague, The
Prairie Home Companion, A
Prestige, The
Pretty Persuasion
Pursuit of Happyness
Queen, The
Rabbit Fever
Rang De Basanti (Paint it Yellow)
Red Road
Right at Your Door
Rocket Post
Rocky Balboa
Rollin' with the Nines
Romanzo Criminale
Running with Scissors
Russian Dolls
RV - Runaway Vacation
Scanner Darkly, A
Scenes of a Sexual Nature
Secuestro Express
Seducing Doctor Lewis (Le Grande Séduction)
Shanghai Dreams (Qing Hong)
Silent Hill
Sisters in Law
Snakes on a Plane
Snow Cake
Snuff Movie
Squid and the Whale, The
Starter for Ten
Stranger than Fiction
Stray Dogs (Sag-haye Velgard)
Superman Returns
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Tell Them Who You Are
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
Terkel in Trouble (Terkel i Knibe)
Thank You For Smoking
Thief Lord
This Film is Not Yet Rated
Three Times (Zui Hao Shi Guang)
Time to Leave (Le Temps qui Reste)
Tristan + Isolde
Trust the Man
Truth, The
U.S. vs John Lennon, The
U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha
Unconscious (Inconscientes)
Unfinished Life, An
United 93
Upside of Anger, The
V for Vendetta
Warrior King (Tom Yum Goong)
West Wittering Affair, The
When a Stranger Calls
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Wicker Man, The
Wind that Shakes the Barley, The
Wolf, The (El Lobo)
World Trade Center
X-Men: The Last Stand
Yours, Mine and Ours
Zathura: A Space Adventure
Zidane - A 21st Century Portrait (Zidane, un Portrait du 21e Siécle)

Thoughts? Comments?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wow, Wow, and Wow.

Pan's Labyrinth = best film of 2006. Don't question it, just accept it. A

I also saw Casino Royale today. B

And... I also saw Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny. I'll give it a B-, because it amused me, but it was pretty stupid.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm seeing this tomorrow.

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So excited. (though it means I'm missing Manchester utd vs. Chelsea at Old Trafford so Martin or Sina, text me the score please?)

By the way, is Shortbus appropriate for a 16-year-old? If it's just got sex scenes, I can deal with it, but I don't like it when sex is made all disturbing. OK, that sounded air-heady.
It's just that it's been picking up some great reviews, and I just need to know, come Dec. 1st (when it arrives here), if it's worth sneaking into.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bennett Miller is bungable.

“Bennett Who?”, I hear you ask. Why, that’s Bennett Miller, director of Capote, of course. I don’t generally go for director dudes, but during my obsession with Oscar season this year in an attempt to see my Brokeback see justice (which it didn’t), Bennett Miller was a man who grabbed my attention a surprising lot, sometimes even steering my attention from the beauty of Jake Gyllenhaal. As with his Capote screenwriter and buddy Dan Futterman, it’s quite hard to find pictures of Mr. Miller (though at least Futterman has had a few acting gigs), but if you can, it’s so, so, worth it, because this man is very fine indeed. I don’t know how to describe it, just… enjoy.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

OMG. Robert Altman dies.

(Click on title for newslink.)

Oh. At least he got his Honoury Oscar this year.

Sorry, I'm quite disorientated at learning this.

Reel Fanatic has a great post on the man.


Two FYCs I made.

Offside for Best Picture.

Penélope Cruz for Best Actress.

What do you make of the FYCs, and what do you make of the movies?

Soundtrack Reviews: V.

I think the last time I reviewed soundtracks, I was in China. It’s been that long. (Readem and weep.) So be kind to me if I’m a little ring rusty. I’ll get there eventually.

To redeem my crappy writing, I’ve uploaded some of the songs from the soundtrack (the ones I consider best) for your listening pleasure. So you see, it’s not all bad.

Vanilla Sky (various)
Tom Cruise’s playboy lifestyle gets a hip, eclectic soundtrack with “All the Right Friends” from REM to the melancholic, wistful Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead. Many of the songs here stand out for their random lyrics, and I speak chiefly of Paul McCartney’s Oscar nominated song, Vanilla Sky. But who needs sense when his vocals are so sublime, the guitar so perfect? The tonal modulations that feature in the film echo in the music too, as Salsbury Hill switches to the freaky “I Fall Apart” by Julianna Gianni. Overall, the OST is of high quality, though some of the songs which featured in the film did not really deserve a running time on the CD. That said, Mondo ’77 has a funky beat, Have You Forgotten is a nicely laid-back track and one of my favourites, Jeff Buckley even makes an appearance, with his song Last Goodbye. But, like with Cameron Crowe’s other film, Almost Famous, the song which dominates for me is sung by the incomparable Todd Rundgren, in his rendition of one of my favourite songs of all time, Can We Still Be Friends. Sing along, everyone. B+.

The Virgin Suicides (Air)
Ah, Air. Air, Air, Air. One of the few things I could abide about the cringeworthy Lost in Translation, this French, blissed out dream band is too good to be true, and their score to Sofia Coppola’s debut transforms it from a well-delivered story about alienated schoolgirls to a near-masterpiece, effortlessly cool, and one of the sexiest films of the 90s. The soundtrack opens with Playground Love, an ode to 10CC in its cheesy-slow chords and vocals, but one that sets the tone for the movie, with a tune so hummable that it reoccurs later in the soundtrack, sin vocals, in Highschool Lover. Along the way, there are some oddities that even I can’t endorse (The Word Hurricane and Afternoon Sister come to mind here), but overall, this is coolness in the making. And yes, I realise I’ve said that word too many times already, but it just… is. What other way is there to describe Clouds Up, a melody so, well, cool, that it’s been pinched for the advert to Spooks? :P A-

Volver (Alberto Iglesias)
In my review of the score to The Constant Gardener, I spoke of how that film didn’t feature his best work, and it was Almodovar’s Hable Con Ella that this man’s strength was shown. Well, where Almodovar found his niche in Volver, so has Iglesias. Being a violinist and a guitarist myself, I was obviously highly orgasmic when I heard the pizzicatos in the background, and it resonates throughout the score, because this is actually my sixth favourite film score to feature pizzicato of all time. And whilst it would have been easy for Iglesias to just bung in random plucks for the sake of it, the score here accompanies the film and the mindset of the characters together, crescendos and diminuendos and all. No instrument feels out of place and every note accompanies the other perfectly, and this is accentuated in the lovely Comida Casera, where clarinet, cello and pizzicato dance around beautifully. The reason terms like “eargasm” were created, you just never want it to end. What a pity it is, then, that the album has to end on two non-Iglesias tracks, Las Espigadoras and a Good Thing, the latter sounding so cheap and un-Almodovar that you wonder how the hell it got onto the soundtrack. A-.

Best of these OSTs…

01. Highschool Lover (Air, The Virgin Suicides OST)
02. Comida Casera (Alberto Iglesias, Volver)
03. Can We Still Be Friends (Todd Rundgren, Vanilla Sky OST)
04. Clouds Up (Air, The Virgin Suicides OST)
05. Vanilla Sky (Paul McCartney, Vanilla Sky OST)
06. Volver (Estrella Morente, Volver)
07. Where Do I Begin (The Chemical Brothers, Vanilla Sky OST)
08. Playground Love (Air, The Virgin Suicides OST)
09. Everything In Its Right Place (Radiohead, Vanilla Sky OST)
10. Las Vecinas – Variacion (Alberto Iglesias, Volver)

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Gael García Bernal...

.... es muy caliente. (and that is all.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ethan Hawke & the Goldplated brothers as we enter the top 10 in search for fineness.

10. Ethan Hawke (actor, Before Sunset, Assault on Precinct 13)

Yes, I know he was a git to Uma, but you must admit, he’s a fit git. Also one of my favourite modern actors despite many describing his style as “pretentious” (and I must say, his books actually are quite psuedo), I think he first came to my attention when Channel 4 showed Gattaca one night and Great Expectations the other, and I was all, “Hey, it’s the same dude.” And the two characters played by Mr. Hawke in these movies were pretty alluring, one of them even making my Top 10 Sexiest Film Characters list. Of all his film appearances, he’s always been a nice one to look at, but I feel his hotness is accentuated whenever he’s working with Thurman, because their chemistry is just so great. Pity about Tarantino. Now, Mr. Hawke is attractive ordinarily, but what makes him even more so is his fantastic ability to work a suit, his classy choice in film roles (let’s not talk Taking Lives Here), and lastly, his portrayal of one of the most “real” movie characters of all time, Jessie in Before Sunset and Before Sunrise. Smart, sensitive, a little insecure, but utterly, utterly, sexy.

09. Darren Tighe and Nicholas Shaw from "Goldplated"

(Like with Theo & JJ, I’m pulling the “They’re the same person, k?” line again.)

I feel really guilty for actually even admitting to watching this show, let alone being attracted to not one, but two of the men on it, but alas, that’s just the way of the world. The two characters/men who I'm endorsing here are both members of a rich but deeply unhappy family, though the two brothers could not be more different. Justin (as played by Nicholas Shaw) is a choice I’m sure at least some teenage girls will agree with me on. With a touch of the ne’er do well, he’s flirtatious, raffishly charming and gives the impression of someone who can get away with murder by simply smiling. Nice. And Darren, which is quite possibly the second most cringeworthy choice of “eye candy” that I have in my top 10, basically just drew my attention in the interesting storyline of the possible infidelity with his daughter’s Art teacher, is just someone who tickles my fancy for reasons I can’t explain. Maybe it’s his blue eyes. Yum.
If you've just joined this blog, then you've missed most of the fun. Everyone else so far: 15 to 11, 20-16, 29-21, 30, 40-31, 50-41, 60-51, 70-61, 80-71, 90-81, the other end.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

I shall be watching this tonight.

Rachel didn't deserve the Oscar.

I’ve seen it a couple of times before, really like it. But, alas, Rachel didn’t deserve her damn Oscar. :(

What did you make of it?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hitchcock is THE master.

He has been hailed the master of suspense. He said that “Drama was just life with the dull bits left out.” And, despite the uber-elitist AFI hailing him one of the best directors of all time, I still greatly enjoy his work. For me to overlook that huge problem (I loathe AFI like I loathe They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?), is a true testament to his good work. I thought I'd revisit the master as part of Pasquish's blogathon.

There was a short space of time before my 14th birthday when I really started noticing Alfred Hitchcock’s genius. I had watched a couple of films before and enjoyed them, but never really loved them. It was around this time that I started getting into classic films, and I thank Hitchcock for introducing me to them.

The first one that I took an immediate shine to was his adaptation of Du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, in which Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine take the leads. Though an early effort from Hitchcock, this masterpiece was every by the sophisticated, glossy audience-manipulator that Hitchcock would later go on to make. Hitchcock has consistently coaxed good performances out of his cast, and here, Joan Fontaine is superb in her jittery twitchiness. Hitchcock personally told everyone on the cast to treat her cruelly so her performance would be more “real,” and though this was somewhat mean, the results are clear.

Slickness ensued with his first colour film, Rope, an ingenious little invention where it has the appearance of all being shot in one long, shot. The acting from the two men/boy was not as great as it possibly could have been (though Farley Granger did great work on Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train), but James Stewart gave one his best performances, thus making the slightly-surreal situation more realistic, and the film a rewarding experience.

Two of Hitchcock’s earliest films, The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes, are two that I feel are criminally underrated. Both were made in England, before he went to America with plans of taking over. The 39 Steps was an endlessly entertaining thriller-comedy, and whilst it may not have had the big-name casts and expensive locations that would later be present in his work, this film does feature the themes of loss of assumed identity and betrayal, two very Hitchcock-esque themes, and the quick, lively pacing works only to its advantage. The Lady Vanishes, which was made on a very low budget, has effects that were ahead of its time, and featured an extremely charming performance from Margaret Lockwood as the feisty heroine.

An early film of his own that Hitchcock was less pleased with, The Man Who Knew Too Much, would later go on to be remade by himself in Technicolor with James Stewart and Doris Day. The first had been too quick-paced and snappy, with a rather odd performance from Peter Lorre, but this one entertained perfectly, with a nice little song (Que Sera, Sera), thrown in. With a larger scale, the Albert Hall scene truly shone in this film.

Hitchcock is a very consistent director. Like anyone, he makes mistakes (Under Capricorn, Stage Fright and Frenzy didn’t impress me at all), but of all my favourite filmmakers, he has made the most films that I rate 8/10 or more. Sometimes he might resort to use his crowd-pleasing formula, as in Shadow of a Doubt or Suspicion, to produce, atmospheric, jumpy thrillers, but sometimes he’ll fancy a challenge and create a film that sets the standard in cinema.

James Stewart and Cary Grant are Hitch’s two key collaborators. The former uses his “Aww shucks” demeanour perfectly in each of his performances, balancing good-guy innocence with what is relatively rare for Stewart in anything other than Hitch films, intensity. In Rope, he played a very un-Stewartish role, as a cynical intellectual, but witness the passion behind his little monologue in the final act. He would visit this type of on-screen persona again in 58’s Vertigo.

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Cary Grant is in Hitchcock’s films as more of romantic model. In Notorious, he had appropriate coldness as Ingrid Bergman’s heartbreaker, slowly falling in love with her but unwilling to show his feelings. And in the light To Catch a Thief, Cary Grant was basically playing himself. He was twice Grace Kelly’s age at the time, but Hitchcock did the wise thing of pairing the two together, and together, they deliver escapism at its most fun.

1954 was a great year for Hitchcock, where he collaborated with leading lady Gracy Kelly twice. First was smart men-getting-what-they-deserve Dial M for Murder, which sported an excellent premise and a genuinely dislike villain in the scheming husband. Then came Rear Window, which, on top of being completely thrilling, featured some of the best chemistry in a Hitchcock film between Stewart and Kelly, and was also beautifully shot. This time, Hitchcock was not afraid to make his viewers think, and Rear Window has been deemed voyeurism, and poses the question, are all humans, like L.B., just voyeurs into other people’s worlds? Who would have thought that a film set in just one room could be so rousing and intelligent? All the experience from doing this with Rope and Lifeboat came together, and Hitchcock invents his best film, sophisticated, compelling, and the work of a master.

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Two popular Hitchcockian themes are secrets and obsession. These feature heavily in his well-crafted masterpiece, Vertigo, which features the best dream sequence in the history of cinema. Kim Novak plays the mysterious female lead with conviction, and haunts, even though she does not say a word for the first 50 minutes of the film. Being Hitchcock, nothing in the film is as it seems, but all the better for it, as he weaves tension, deliria, human emotion as well as visual style.

As far as the 60s went, Hitchcock wasn’t on his amazing form, but still managed to make two films that I enjoyed – The Birds, and Psycho. The Birds was eerie, quite beautifully, and managed a few scares, and Hitchcock’s influence on cinema is evident even today, if you compare this film to the likes of say, Signs. I’m not as big a fan of Psycho as the AFI are, but it was genuinely creepy, and nobody could make a better Psycho than Anthony Perkins. Though I still maintain that the book was better.

Sadly, the greatest film director to live is no longer with our. But his influences still are. Spielberg, Shyamalan, and various other thieves name him as an influence. But they will never match his masterworks, because I know for a fact that this man, someone who can make you think, be entertained, feel and be afraid all at the same time, is in a class of his own.

Best Films
01. Rear Window
02. Rebecca
03. Dial M For Murder
04. Vertigo
05. Strangers on a Train
06. Spellbound
07. Notorious
08. The 39 Steps
09. I Confess
10. The Lady Vanishes

Best Direction
01. Vertigo
02. Rear Window
03. Psycho
04. North by Northwest
05. Rebecca

Reviews of Hitch's films: Dial M for Murder

Monday, November 13, 2006

Marilyn Monroe, what a class act.

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul.”

“I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.”

“I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Christmas is Near.

Download this song. Seriously. Excuse the fact that Sarah McLachlan has the same surname as an extremely crappy actor, just enjoy this song. It's beautiful.

Christmas soon.

The History Boys

Sorry I haven't written a decent film review for so long. Blame School. That, and the fact that I just haven't bothered. :)

It’s Sheffield, early 1980s, and eight talented students have achieved top grades at A-level and have Oxbridge in their sights. The problem? “They’re clever but they’re crass.” So along comes Stephen Campbell Moore, a radical History teacher to change their manners, style, and even teach them to change History... Sadly, the boys’ new found adoration for History and the musings of Nietzsche mean that their interest in the lessons of homosexual teacher Hector (Richard Griffiths, excellent) is displaced, and this film, with its many themes lined up, examines the school, its students and learning History.

The History Boys is a film I connect and love for many reasons. The performances are stellar, and Stephen Campbell Moore and Samuel Barnett are standouts in the film, for their portrayals of the creative, innovative teacher and the sweet, sensitive gay teenager respectively. Samuel Barnett especially; he basically owned this movie, and every scene that he was in, I adored. He gives his gawky character such a tenderness of spirit and kind soul that it’s impossible not to love him.

But every member of the cast is a treat to watch; Dominic Cooper embracing the lead with vivacity, charm, and that raffish charm of an 80s teenager. Richard Griffiths is also excellent, and lends some warmth to his potentially disturbing portrayal of a man with an unnatural penchant for groping his students in return for a student-led lesson such as “How to use the present subjunctive in a French brothel”. The cast bind the wonderful Alan Bennett script together beautifully, and the chemistry and rapport between all the characters is unmatched, natural, and a total delight to watch. This by-the-book adaptation of Bennett’s play doesn’t add anything to the play, but that’s simply a good thing, because the genius and vibrancy of the play is fabulous already.

Though depicting a High school in the 80s, I could still connect with this movie with my 21st century ideals. The teacher/student frictions and development of their relationship and respect is well-drawn and intelligent. The wit in which the process of getting into Oxbridge is shown, is reflective of nowadays, and there are one-liners here that are bound to raise a smile (“History? It’s just one f-cking thing after another, isn’t it?). Lastly, a cool 80s soundtrack guides our protagonists through the story with ease and warmth.

A fantastically enjoyable, uplifting experience, The History Boys can be enjoyed by everyone, from a Cambridge-educated boffin to someone who just wants a laugh. You’ll end up being drawn in by each character, hoping for their successes, and being moved by the relationships depicted in the movie. The best film of the year so far; it even makes you remember the good things about History...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'll Empty You.

Your delicious
Slack jawed
Green eyed
Rub my nose in
Icing sugar
Smooth as
When this cold
and deadly
Kissed the fruit
So soft
And gently breathing
Under your skin

Oh I'll empty you
I'll empty you
As empty as a
boy can be
As empty
As a boy can be

Very sexy.

November Has Come!

I completely forgot to mention this!

Anyway, a pretty picture of the season to mark the occasion:


Well you know, november has come
When it´s gone away..

November Blues.