Sunday, September 30, 2007

68. Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007).

69. Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears, 2002).

Entertainment Weekly announce their 15 most violent movies.


Now, I'm somewhat squeamish when it comes to violent movies, so I try to shy away from a film if I know it contains scenes of excessive violence, I probably won't watch it. For that, I haven't seen Saw, Hostel, The Hills have Eyes, Irreversible and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. But unfortunately for me, a few of the critically acclaimed films so happen to contain violence, and it's just had to be something I've had to live with.

A Clockwork Orange is one of my least favourite films of all time, for the violence against women. Stanley Kubrick is a decent enough director (2001, Barry Lyndon and chiefly, Lolita are good films), but nothing can redeem this piece of turd. It's just one of the most sickening movies of all time, and Alex DeLarge needs to die. Pretentious wank of the highest order, and the violence against women makes it even more sickening.

The "scene" of Reservoir Dogs featuring Stealers Wheel & earcutting is more disturbing that the camera pans away, because, as QT put it, "it leaves it to the viewers' imagination what happens." But that's hardly the only scene of violence in the movie; blood is rife, from beginning to end, and it enhances and accentuates the qualities of some of the characters.

The 15-rating of Saving Private Ryan and Pan's Labyrinth are competely misleading, for both are disturbingly violent. The former features so much gory war violence that you just know that had anyone other than Spielberg directed it, it would have immediately been rated 18, and the latter features moments of such brutal violence - the bottle rammed into the eyes still haunts me, and what makes it worse is that it involves the deaths of innocent people.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A review of William Wyler's The Children's Hour...

A Roman holiday of sorts, but thankfully not Abramovich's one. In participation with Goatdog's William Wyler blogathon.

William Wyler’s atmospheric drama has two teachers (Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine) be accused of lesbianism by a guileful schoolgirl, and then have that rumour ruin their job, their lives and their friendship.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Somewhat of a taboo for the 60s, Wyler bravely tackles the subject with honesty and integrity, and his cast work well to bring the tense atmosphere to us. As the engaged, straight, Miss Wright, Audrey Hepburn suffers commendably, fighting always for the truth – as she sees it, and as a result, losing her fiancée. Shirley MacLaine is the more ambiguous character of the two. It is not on whether the allegations were true (it is clear from the off that they are just slander of the worst kind from a bored, vindictive little girl) that the mystery of the film lies, but in whether her character does secretly love Hepburns’, as more than a friend.

The children are less apt in their roles. None of them have names worth remembering, but the main one who spreads the rumours does it with such exaggerated facial expressions that it is difficult at times of most intense drama not to laugh, and the other girl, who aids her in the spreading of lies, is also laughable in her “fear.” However, if the intention was to make us dislike the children as much as possible, then they have succeeded.

But the message is clear – lies of such a powerful decree – even if they are spawned off what is guessed to be the truth, will damage others. It’s a hefty topic, and one that lacks slightly, due to the censorship of the time, no doubt, but the behaviour and actions of the characters still ring true today – the hypocrisy of the kind aunt, the spreading of cruel lies just for fun, the boyfriend’s abandonment, and how, at the end of the day, it is always the innocent that suffer, yet some, like Hepburn’s character, are brave enough to walk out in the public, with their head held high in the air, because they know they were innocent.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?

Favourite films portraying unrequited love:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Girl with a Pearl Earring
He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not
Love Actually
Sunset Boulevard
Talk to Her
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Story of Adele H
The Virgin Suicides
Un Coeur en Hiver

Monday, September 10, 2007

72. Lola Rennt (Tom Tykwer, 1998.)

Crazy Slapstick in a Race of Rats.

For Film of the Year’s blogathon on Slapstick Cinema, I thought I’d look at one of my favourite movies of 2001, the remake of It’s a Mad, Mad World, Rat Race.

Eccentric Las Vegas casino owner Donald Sinclair comes up with the idea to implement special chips in his slot machines, to which the recipients of are invited to partake in a human rat race to Mexico, where the first there wins a cool $2 million. The participants include mercenary con artist Seth Green and his brother, Cuba Gooding Jr’s shamed referee and sensible Breckin Meyer. At first, they all laugh and treat the whole thing as a joke, but soon, everyone is trying to get to the destination, whether it be by car, plane, or… cow?

It is my opinion that Rat Race has one of the finest ensemble casts known the cinema, and it’s truly refreshing to see each of the actors are having a huge amount of fun. Whether it’s seeing Rowan Atkinson getting electrocuted, Seth Green and brother nearly getting run over by monster trucks or Jon Lovitz accidentally doing a Hitler impression at a WWII memorial, it truly is a hilarious film. And here are my top 5 moments of slapstick in it:

05. The attempted con, where Rowan Atkinson slips on a tumbler. Visual comedy at its finest.
04. Rowan Atkinson, holding the human heart, getting electrocuted.
03. When the race begins, all the participants come rushing down the stairwell.
02. In the helicopter, when the evil lady throws a block on superman & cracks his head open.
01. The brothers being driven up a tower.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Good Films I’ve Seen Over the Summer.

I didn’t quite reach my target of watching 40 films over the Summer, as I unfortunately took to watching a tad too much T.V. (especially Friends, The O.C., Skins and Hollyoaks – classy, I know) and listen to a bit too much music. But thankfully I was able to go to the cinema a couple of times, as well as discover some true golden oldies.

Bananas – 8/10.
Undertow – 8/10.

DJ Caruso’s Disturbia (starring my Shia) was never going to get anywhere near the mastery of Rear Window, and I was even a little wary of all the comparisons that other film reviews had made between the two, but it actually proved to be a highly entertaining movie and well worth watching. LaBeouf is a natural in his role, and his character is easily likeable (albeit a little nosy and naughty – he is restricted to his house after punching a teacher), and there were some genuine moments of tension, without the need for bucketloads of blood. 8/10.

Quite a few critics (including Empire, who gave it 2/5 for some reason) didn’t rate The Simpsons Movie highly, but I had a huge amount of fun with it. Granted, some scenes could have belonged in one of the less funny episodes of the show and the plot was a little far-fetched even for Groening, but, what with the terrific song Spider Pig, some laugh-out-loud moments (Bart’s naked skateboarding, the pastiche of Titanic with Green Day) and some naughty one-liners, I liked it as much as I would have liked 4 back-to-back episodes of the show. 8/10.

Je t'aime, Je t'aime – 8/10.

The first on-screen pairing of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton is in Herbert Ross’ Play it Again, Sam, a fantastic homage to Casablanca and Humphrey Bogart as it looks at love, fidelity and personal development. Woody Allen gives one of his best performances as Allan Felix, a film critic whose wife has just dumped him, and goes through a range of disastrously cringe worthy dates. His neurotic self that was so evident in Annie Hall gets a more than apt test drive here. But the best thing about Play it Again, Sam is how clearly the love of film shows through. 8.5/10.

There are quite a few movies with the title of Heaven Can Wait, (including an embarrassment starring Warren Beatty that’s not a remake of this, but Here Comes Mr Jordan), but the original remains the loveliest. Don Amache captures the philandering essence of Henry Van Cleeve perfectly, and the film replays the women that he has known as courted through his life, though the only one for him is Martha, played by Gene Tierney. As in The Ghost an Mrs Miur, she is a delight to watch, wins the heart of the audience and steals the show 9/10.

Atonement has a lot of components that I look for in a movie: an epic romance, a lush score, Working Title and a talented lead actor. With this and Brokeback Mountain, my faith in the modern love story has been restored. Although I am more than a little unimpressed with many critic’s gushing over Knightley, who was, in my opinion, the worst of the ensemble, all the other cries for Oscar – McAvoy, Picture, Direction, etc., are deserved. Read my extended review here. 9/10.

Ballad of a Soldier – One of the most beautiful films I've ever seen, unforgettable, and a testament to the power of human spirit. 10/10.

And the 3 worst…
01. The Master of Disguise – ugh.
02. Pirates of the Caribbean III - Keira's got a dead man's chest, her boobs were even Photoshopped in her latest Coco Chanel ad!
03. Are We There Yet?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

My Thoughts on Sam Madison’s Top 10 Video Picks.

This is slightly bizarre, but I will be rating the top 10 of a fictional character. Sam Madison is the protagonist of All American Girl, by Meg Cabot, in which a misfit teenage girl is propelled into stardom by saving the president’s life. She doesn’t particularly enjoy her place in the limelight, but the upside is that she falls for the very sexy son of the President, David. It is one of my favourite books, because even though Sam at times sounds a wee bit of a pseudo-goth and likes to whine just for the sake of it, it was still a deeply funny and sweet tale of sibling bond, personal integrity and discovery as well as finding love in the most unexpected of places. I would love to see this book being made into a movie, with someone like Amanda Bynes playing the lead.

Anyway, I read the sequel, Ready or Not, when I was in Wales, which is set about a year later, where Maddie gets the impression that her boyfriend wants to bed her. What follows is a whole lot of rambling and philosophising about whether or not she is ready. Ready or Not is not quite as funny as the first book, but it is still sweet and features some great moments of girl power.

Now, in the second book, Maddie works in a video store, and amidst her top 10 listing, she gives her top 10 films. So I just thought I’d rate them. Because I’m bored.

10. Fight Club
Not my style, sorry. 3/10.

09. To Kill a Mockingbird
A deeply thematic and emotional film, with Gregory Peck nearing perfection as the wonderful Atticus Finch. We need more humans like him in the world. Dare I say it, though, some moments left me a little… bored? 8/10.

08. Heathers
One of the best teen comedies of all time, at times a little too dark for me, but highly satirical with a wonderfully cruel vein. 8/10.

07. Donnie Darko
Jake Gyllenhaal. Yes. The rest, meh. 6/10.

06. Napoleon Dynamite
The opening scenes with the chapstick got on my nerves a bit but after I acquainted myself with Napoleon’s grating voice, I rooted for him throughout the movie. 7/10.

05. Saved!
Great satire on religion, very sharp and witty, Mandy Moore was terrifying and Patrick Fugit (the dimpled teenager in Almost Famous) is very cute. 8/10.

04. Dogma
One of the few Matt-and-Ben films I can abide. 7/10.

03. Secretary
Despite its pervy theme, I never felt dirty watching Secretary, a funny, weird but overall deeply rewarding and beautiful love story. (According to me). Maggie Gyllenhaal is sublime. 8.5/10.

02. I’m the One that I Want – N/S

01. Kill Bill
This movie drifts in and out of my top 100 according to the mood I’m in when I watch it, but even at its worst it is still a massively entertaining and bloody revenge epic, with the best soundtrack in a movie, bar none. And Uma Thurman epitomizes coolness. 8.5/10.

Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel (Never gonna stop).

I'm a bit late with this one, as I didn't notice it until this morning, to which I realised I had to post. Tom the Dog started the whole thing, Aaron cottoned on, Glenn continued it, JD had fun, as did David. And now it's my turn!

The aim is simple: list your favourite album for each letter of the alphabet.

A: All the Roadrunning (Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris)

B: Begin to Hope (Regina Spektor)

C: Cinema Paradiso soundtrack (Ennio Morricone)

D: Dummy (Portishead)

E: The Eternal Knot (Adiemus)

F: Finding Nemo score (Thomas Newman)

G: Good Girl Gone Bad (Rihanna)

H: Hot Fuss (The Killers)

I: Imagine (John Lennon)

J: Jeanne D’Arc (Tangerine Dream)

K: Kill Bill: Vol. 1 soundtrack (various)

L: Loose (Nelly Furtado)

M: Money for Nothing (Dire Straits)

N: A Night at the Opera (Queen)

O: O (Damien Rice)

P: Pastel Blues (Nina Simone)

Q: Queens of Noise (The Runaways)

R: Romeo + Juliet soundtrack (various)

S: Surfacing (Sarah McLachlan)

T: Taking the Long Way (Dixie Chicks)

U: Unknown Pleasures (Joy Division)

V: The Virgin Suicides soundtrack (Air)

W: The White Album (The Beatles) [I know, I'm being cheeky with this.]


Y: Ys (Joanna Newsom)

Z: Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)

Thoughts? Comments?