Monday, August 31, 2009
01. Cat People [putting Out the Fire] (David Bowie) bung it
02. The Verdict (Ennio Morricone) bung it
03. Rabbia E Tarantella (Ennio Morricone) bung it
04. The Green Leaves of Summer (Nick Perito) bung it
05. Un Amico (Ennio Morricone) bung it
For the sake of not getting sued, please buy the soundtrack after you've heard the songs, thanks. Yes, I'm speaking to all three of you that read my blog. ;)
01. Daniel Brühl
02. Michael Fassebender
03. Jacky Ido
04. Eli Roth
05. Brad Pitt
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Inglourious Basterds is set in a Nazi-occupied France, and is a story that, not dislike Kill Bill, told in chapters. In the first chapter, we are introduced to the terrifying character of Colonel Landa (Christoph Waltz, in one of the performances of the year), as he intrudes a self-contained French dairy farmer and his three daughters to question whether or not he is hoarding Jews. He is, under his floorboard, and when Landa cops on to this, instructs his men to savagely shoot at the floor. Shosanna Dreyfuss (Mélanie Laurent, as good an actress as she beautiful a woman) escapes, alive. A few years later, she is the owner of a small cinema and, in catching the eye of war hero Fredrick Zoller, has her cinema selected as the venue for the premiere of his war biography. Meanwhile, American hillbilly Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is giving a Dirty Dozen-style motivational speech to his group of Inglourious Basterds, demanding a "debt" of 100 Nazi scalps per person under him. When British general (some inspired parodying by Mike Myers) cottons on to the movie premiere, he sends in a part-soldier part film coinnosier Michael Fassbender in to collaborate with the Basterds to, like Dreyfuss, kill some Nazis.
Tarantino knows how to capture his audience's attention, and this he does right from the onset. The opening chapter is so tense that we, like the characters hiding under the floorboards, dare not breathe. The Nazi officer nicknamed the "Jew Hunter", Col. Landa, who has intruded, takes his sweet time probing the farmer, making small talk, like a hawk toying with its food. The scene is filmed so calmly and so beautifully that it is a stark contrast with the scenes of vicious violence that it houses. In that scene alone, French and English are employed. Later, German is spoken, and even later, we get a dalliance with Italian. This is very much a multilingual affair, and the hubbub of languages contributes to the busy, sprawling, talky feel of the film.
Brad Pitt is the main draw for plenty of teenage girls toward this film, but they may feel mighty disappointed as he is not all that bungable here, especially compared to previous films. The script, however, deals some hilarious one-liners that Pitt gobbles up gratefully, and it is a much, much better performance than his pain-in-the-ass turn in Burn After Reading.
The woman are equally magnificent. Diane Kruger, who has not been blessed with the most beguiling of roles in the past, plays celebrated German actress Bridget von Hammersmark, who is also working as a double agent for the Basterds. She is kitted out every part the elegant lady, and carries herself with a wonderful kind of grace, but proves that the character of BVM is much more than just a pretty face. Meanwhile, as Shosanna, whom Tarantino declared was always intended to be protagonist of the film, Mélanie Laurent is amazing. The camera deifies her in a way that Tarantino usually only reserves for Thurman, but it is deserved, because her character - and her performance - are utterly incredible. In contrast to BVH's glamorous pearls and designer labels, Shosanna is dressed very plainly, but Laurent's inner beauty shines through. Her large eyes and fragile beauty are as striking as they are affecting - and her portrayol of bottled in hatred and fear after the strudel scene with Landa moved me to tears. Furthermore, the preparation scene, where she applied rouge to her cheeks as if bunging on camo for going into war to the terrific choon "Cat People/Putting out the Fire" by David Bowie, is one of the most memorable in movie history. Lastly, the depiction of the relationship between her and her cinema projectionist Marcel (Jacky Ido) is bittersweet and sad - the melancholy kiss they share before they're about to execute their plan was so moving - and although only a very little part of Inglourious Basterds, it was the thing about the film that stayed with me the most.
There are moments of high drama followed almost immediate by rib-tickling humour. The scene wherein Brad Pitt tries to pass off as Italian was hilarious. Some of this humour is in the violence, which, being Tarantino, spares no gruesome details. I found it particularly difficult to watch one scene which had some gruesome finger-in-wound-torture. Ick. Although it would be silly of me to try and second guess Tarantino, I have a feeling that the film-within-a-film at the end and the ensuing chaos in the cinema is QT's sneaky way of telling us that violence breeds violence. Which is obviously not a new concept, but if it is what he was trying to say, then there's more to him than I thought.
Quentin Tarantino's latest offering is a sprawling, self-indulgent and sometimes even boring tale of vengeance in a Nazi-occupied France. It is also the funniest and my favourite film of the year. The director clearly loves himself and has complete faith in his skills as a filmmaker, but in the case of Inglourious Basterds, it is to the benefit of the movie. Rather awesome.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
One of the most atmospheric noirs of the 50s, much of the grimy, dark look of the film is due to the terrific cinematography of John F. Seitz. Wilder, who had worked with him before on The Lost Weekend and Double Indemnity, knew his work well enough to trust him to let him get on with it, and it is Seitz’s vision that is responsible for many of the memorably ominous shadows and seen-through-projectors images of the film. As with in Double Indemnity, he sprinkled dust in front of the camera to give the film an even mustier look. The script is perfect. Wilder and Brackett had penned their first version of Sunset Blvd. in 1948, but didn’t feel satisfied with their result. In the August of that year, D.M. Marshman Jr, a critic who had impressed them with his thoughts on a previous film of theirs, was enlisted to develop the plot. We have the signature voice-over, which at the start of the film, says to us that, on seeing a dead body in a pool, "Let's go back about six months and find the day when it all started." What ensues is a drama, a twisted love story, a satire and perhaps even a horror film, of obsession, self-preservation, desperation and humanity (or the lack thereof), and Wilder and Brackett do not get a word wrong – a remarkable feat considering the whole spectrum of genres that are visited in this film. Similarly, the technical side is also surprisingly advanced for its day, with the lighting, sound and editing all top-notch, and the film begins in a spectacular fashion and ends in one equally mind-blowing.
The cast are utterly sublime. William Holden has the party-cynical screenwriter, part-rent boy, down to a T. In his nuanced performance we see a writer who, like many others in Hollywood, is increasingly powerless against the major machine, and will settle for leading on an old woman to make ends meet. As their professional relationship develops, it becomes increasingly apparent that Desmond is also taking a personal interest in Joe, and she exhibits this by buying him heaps of presents. Joe, whilst uncomfortable with her liking for him, does nothing about it, thus leading Desmond to believe, in her own twisted way, that the two have some sort of love. Gloria Swanson gives one of the strongest female performances as Norma Desmond, the deluded silent movie star lying around doing nothing except living in the memories of her illustrious past. One can’t prise their eyes away from her bizarre and frankly, pitiful character, and Swanson’s extravagant mannerisms render her utterly magnetic. She is not just deluded in her visions of grandeur as an actress, but also that Joe has any feelings aside from mercenary ones toward her. When she announces these feelings, Joe, disgusted, rebuffs her and leaves the mansion, triggering a suicide attempt on Desmond’s part. Gloria Swanson was, herself, a faded movie star from the silent era, and, when first asked to submit a screen test for her role, she, not in a manner not dissimilar to the character she plays, was disgusted. As Betty Schafer, newcomer Nancy Olson has a commendable wide-eyed naivety to her, that contrasts starkly to the soul-sucking backdrop of Hollywood. As the butler, Erich von Stroheim is also rather fantastic. His character is somewhat of an enigma – he is Norma Desmond’s ex-husband in a line of many and also her director.
Sunset Blvd. does not only delve beneath the veneer of the seeming perfection of Hollywood, it utterly destroys it. In its “behind the scenes” of sorts, we see Hollywood as a dog-eat-dog, ruthless, deceitful place, full of soulless, delusional and self-absorbed individuals. Poor Norma Demond is forever living in the past, reliving her former glories. On Joe commenting, “You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big”, Demond replies, “I am big, it’s the pictures that got small,” and she continuously plays her old movies in her gothic mansion, watching and rewatching her glory days. Our narrator Joe Gillis seems to see the place for what it was, remarking wryly, “I used to have talent. Now I’m trying to make a living.” Sunset Blvd. says so, so much about the film-making industry, and these issues are sadly still all too prevalent today. With an entire array of stars-cameoing-as-themselves, including Cecil B. DeMille, Paramount Studios itself, scandal writer Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton and H. B Warner.
1950 was a revolutionary year for films. Up until then, movies had been entertainment. Grand entertainment, granted, but entertainment and very little food for thought, and in particular very little light was cast upon the process of being a star, which was regarded as some glamorous, perfect thing. All About Eve and Sunset Blvd. changed this. The former is a look at the cut-throat way in which an aspiring actress will get to the top, the latter is a look at her sad decline after she has been there and no longer wanted. Darkly comic and very, very sad, the finale scene – as Norma Desmond descends the stairs, the camera panning to her face and she utters her lines – renders this a film for the ages.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
01. Angie Baby (Helen Reddy)
02. Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)
03. Homecoming (Kanye West)
04. Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)
05. Hallelujah (Rufus Wainwright)
06. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie (Joanna Newsom)
07. Paper Planes (M.I.A.)
08. Alison (Elvis Costello)
09. November Has Come (Gorillaz)
10. Sinnerman (Nina Simone)
11. Baba O’Riley (The Who)
12. Lullaby (Dixie Chicks)
13. Love Affair (Regina Spektor)
14. Dragon Queen (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
15. Adia (Sarah McLachlan)
16. Breathe (Taylor Swift)
17. Talk Show Host (Radiohead)
18. Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (Queen)
19. Run this Town (Jay-Z ft. Rihanna and Kanye West)
20. All These Things that I’ve Done (The Killers)
21. Brandy Alexander (Feist)
22. Clothes Off (Gym Class Heroes)
23. Hey Stephen (Taylor Swift)
24. Underneath Your Clothes (Shakira)
25. Just the Two of Us (Bill Withers)
26. Coward of the County (Kenny Rogers)
27. Mr. Bigstuff (Jean Knight)
28. Chelsea Dagger (The Fratellis)
29. I Wish I Knew How it Feels to Be Free (Nina Simone)
30. Lovestoned/I think she Knows (Justin Timberlake)
31. Underdog (Jonas brothers)
32. Lullaby (The Cure)
33. Jump (Madonna)
34. My Father’s Gun (Elton John)
35. Pennies in my Pocket (Emilio Estefan)
36. Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)
37. Hey Jude (The Beatles)
38. American Pie (Don McLean)
39. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Todd Rundgren)
40. Fix Up, Look Sharp (Dizzee Rascal)
41. Jackson (Johnny & June Carter Cash)
42. Wildwood Flower (June Carter Cash)
43. Under Pressure (Queen ft. David Bowie)
44. Sunshowers (M.I.A.)
45. Mathematics (Little Boots)
46. Disturbia (Rihanna)
47. Glory Box (Portishead)
48. Seasons of Love (Rent OST)
49. Jesus Walks (Kanye West)
50. O Saya (A.R. Rahman ft. M.I.A.)
51. Never Ever (All Saints)
52. Hey Mama (Kanye West)
53. Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
54. Lean on Me (Bill Withers)
55. Champion (Kanye West)
56. Biology (Girls Aloud)
57. Inside & Out (Feist)
58. Bubbles (Dizzee Rascal)
59. Stop (Spice Girls)
60. Just like Heaven (The Cure)
61. Teadrop (Massive Attack)
62. Winter (Tori Amos)
63. Black Horse & the Cherry Tree (KT Tunstell)
64. Oedipus (Regina Spektor)
65. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles)
66. Big Yellow Taxi (Counting Crows)
67. Sing for the Moment (Eminem)
68. Strict Machine (Goldfrapp)
69. Braille (Regina Spektor)
70. Jimmy (M.I.A.)
71. Pressure Point (The Zutons)
72. Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
73. The Way I Are (Timbaland)
74. Twentyfourseven (Artful Dodger)
75. The Call (Regina Spektor)
Right, I'm gonna listen to all of these now in an attempt to get out of this rotten mood I'm in...
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Mum's making me tidy my room, and I have found some old school notebooks from when I was 11-14. I loved to make up ideas for movies, and for some of them, I'd even "design" the movie poster. I have found two horrifically embarrassing ones: -
What in god's name was wrong with me?!?!?!?!
01. Daniel Radcliffe or Tom Felton?
02. Do you acquire your films, music etc, through fair means or foul?
03. What has made you cry most in your entire life?
04. Your favourite song from this year?
05. What do you first think of when you wake up every day?
Most of them today are piss-easy, but 'tis just an excuse for me to post gorgeous stills.
1. He's Just not That Into You, correctly guessed by Mark
2. William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, guessed by Joe
3. 10 Things I Hate About You, guessed by Joe
4. On the Waterfront, guessed by Joe
5. Roman Holiday, guessed by Joe
6. HPVI, guessed by Joe
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
01. "He got colgate on his teeth and Reebok classics on his teeth" - Sunshowers
02. "No one in the corner have a swagger like us" - Paper Planes
03. "Lolita, was a maneater. Clocked him like a taxi meter" - 10 Dollar
04. "London calling, speak the slang. Boys say wha, girls say wha?" - Galang
05. "I fly like paper, get high like planes, if you catch me at the border I got visas in my name" - Paper Planes
06. "They can't touch me, run so fast they can't even catch me" - O Saya
07. "Said you wanted me in Miami, so we could start a family" - Hombre
08. "Sometimes I feel sitting on trains, every stop I get to, I'm clocking that game" - Paper Planes
09. "Got her own way, shouted out see ya!" - 10 Dollar
10. "Like a ninja with speed I'm nifty. I hope I live 'til I'm 50" - O Saya
I ♥ M.I.A.
Also, how magnificent does this film look?
In return, have some Jake: -
Sunday, August 09, 2009
01. If you could only have a son or a daughter, who would it be?
02. Would you rather be smart or beautiful?
03. What are you currently putting off
04. What's the one thing that can ruin your day immediately?
05. What's the weather like where you are?
I'm putting off doing something major that needs to be done, so... Hayden Christensen is bungable and I despise EmWatson.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Flowers - Joan of Arc (2009)
This was the first I'd heard of Joan of Arc, and listened to them on a recommendation from a friend, saying it's good relaxation music. They are an indie rock band stemming from Chicago who use a fair bit of electronica and multi-tracks in their songs.
01. Explain Yourselves No. 2
The most mainstream sounding track of the album, and all the better for it. I can just about hum along.
02. Fable of the Elements
The use of xylophone is inspired.
03. The Garden of Cartoon Exclamations
The lyrics are good, if sung a little off-key (I'm not one to talk here, but still)
05. A Delicious Herbal Laxative
One of the more upbeat songs on the album.
06. The Sun Rose
The guitar strumming is magnificently etheral, the rest, eh.
07. Table of the Laments
Sounds like a bizarre lament, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but makes it awful difficult to get into.
A cacophony of sounds.
Lovely instrumental at the end that changes into something a bit weird.
10. Life Sentence Twisted Ladder
The riff is nothing special and the lyrics are barely passable
11. Explain Yourselves
So, so boring
Even more boring. It ain't music.
Overall, I was not at all impressed with this "album". There are many, many things out there that would make better relaxation music. The sound of a cat dragging its nails down a blackboard, for one. Album rating: 2/10.
Verses of Comfort, Assurance and Salvation - Au Revoir Simone (2005)
Next up was Verses of Comfort, Assurance and Salvation from Au Revoir Simone, an indie-pop-electronic Brooklyn Trio that I discovered a few years ago, and, despite David Lynch recommending them, I still managed to enjoy their music, meaning it must geniunely be quite special (I loathe Lynch.)
01. Through the Backyards of Our Neighbours
Rumour has it that this is about Heather D'Angelo's transvestite boyfriend. Whatever the subject matter, it's terrifically dreamy, a good one to have on in the background when you've got your mates round.
02. The Winter Song
Wonderful intro, brilliant riffs. The lack of lyrics suits it.
This message is for all the people
That people who are always waiting
This message is for all the people
That people who are always waiting
Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting
A job well done.
04. Where You Go
Starts out sounding a bit like a floatier version of Rilo Kiley. Cute lyrics.
05. And Sleep Al Mar
Now this really is relaxing music. Despite sparce use of instruments, they have still managed to create something majestic.
06. Stay Golden
07. Disco Song
08. Back in Time
A bit samey.
I like this album a lot, it could be a regular listen on my commute to work in the next five months. Particularly suitable to Summer. Album rating: 8/10
Jaydiohead - Jay Z vs. Radiohead (2009)
I like Jay-Z. I like Radiohead. At Uni, I was introduced to "The Grey Album" which was an amalgam of Jay-Z's The Black Album and The Beatles' The White Album and, whilst I thought there were more misses than hits as a result, I was impressed by the concept. So, I gave this mash-up album a listen.
01. 99 Anthems (99 Problems and The National Anthem)
02. Dirt off Your Shoulder (Dirt Off Your Shoulder and Paranoid Android)
Wow, class! It's no coincidence that Dirt Off your Shoulder and Paranoid Android are amongst my favourites from both artists, but conflating the two really works.
03. Lucifer's Jigsaw (Lucifer and Jigsaw Falling Into Place)
04. No Karma (No Hook and Karma Police)
The rapping and instrumentals go quite nicely.
05. Wrong Prayer (Pray and I Might Be Wrong)
06. Fall in Step (Fallin' and 15 Step)
The bluesy Radiohead track works well with Jay-Z's lyrics.
07. Optimistic Moment (Moment of Clarity and Optimistic)
08. Dreaming Up (American Dreamin' and Up the Ladder)
09. Change Order (Never Change and Gagging Order)
10. Ignorant Swan (Ignorant Shit and Black Swan)
There's more emphasis on the Jay-Z in this one, I can barely hear the Radiohead.
Album rating: 5/10. Was a bit too obscure for my liking, I'd rather just listen to both albums, back-to-back. Still, no need to take my word for it, you can download the albums yourself.
one has been correctly guessed by Joebung
two has been correctly guessed by Anahitbung
three has been correctly guessed by Anahitbung
five has been correctly guessed by Anahitbung
seven has been correctly guessed by Anahitbung
Have fun bungs!
Something you already knew: Jake is bung.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
On Bella Swan's 18th birthday party, she gives herself a paper cut, and the scent of her "enchanting" blood piques off the hunger of Jasper, her boyfriend Edward's adoptive brother. Edward, shocked and engulfed with guilt at putting his beloved Bella at risk again, uproots his entire family, declaring that he no longer loves her. Woe, woe, woe, and for several months, Bella does a good job of pretending to be normal, whilst inside still hanking after her characterless vampire love. However, her bland whininess turns the head of her friend Jacob (they go cliff jumping together), who by some miraculous turn of events turns out to be a werewolf. Initially repulsed, Bella finds herself becoming closer to Jacob. Blah blah blah, under some sequence of errors including Rosalie being deliberately misleading, Edward comes to believe Bella committed suicide, and he himself sets to get himself killed. Wah.
The lines are brilliant (not), with insightful, interesting soliloquys such as "And would it really matter that Alice was willing, would it make any difference if I did become a vampire, when the idea was so repulsive to Edward? If death was, to him, a better alternative than having me around forever, an immortal annoyance? Terrified as I was, I felt myself sinking down into depression, drowning in it…" and the even more hilarious "My heart inflated like it would crack right through by ribs", so that I was by turns cringing and laughing. I want my five hours back, frankly, but the comedy this book provided is endless. Never before has anything so tacky taken itself so seriously, and Stephanie Meyer has given some pretty reprehensible messages to her young audience - namely, that if you're smitten with a boy, you should disregard your best interests and just devote all your efforts to being with him. That's good.
And it means I have to have this in Flowers & Football Tops. Eh.
Even though I wasn't a fan of the novel at all, I must say, the trailer looks quite good. The surreal part with the colour and the trees is rather awesome. Oscar for Saoirse, '10 please!
Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are expecting a baby. Too cute!
Monday, August 03, 2009
The second, Flowers & Football Tops (again, I'm such a good writer than I can think up my own book titles and not rip-off song titles
I think it would be funky, feminist, funny and wannabe-revolutionary to make a film about a teenage virgin who is very much her own person, knows what she wants, knows how to get it – and very, very, selfish. And suddenly along comes her Mr. Perfect – or so she thinks, and she falls head-over-heels for him, and suddenly wants to be selfish no longer. Only stipulation? He doesn't know she exists. And as she slowly climbs her way into his good books and she does capture his affections, she realizes that he, for all his beauty, is vapid and personality-less, and the last person she'd wanna lose her bunginity to. Very much a romantic comedy, but for my first film, I'd like to start out a little less ambitious. And, despite the ongoing theme being of a girl's quest to lose her virginity to the high school hottie, the last thing I'd want this to be is yer standard gross out comedy. For the cast, I'd have Juno Temple as the main character (she is a fine comedic actress who could warm the coldest hearts), with Robert Pattinson as the object of her affections (well, I need to get the girls to the box office somehow, yes?) and Rupert Grint as her gay best friend (that bit's just for me), and Andrew Simpson (the student whom Cate Blanchett has it off with in Notes on a Scandal) as her good mate, a lad whom she has always taken for granted. 'Tis not hard at all to guess where this will go! I'd love, for some reason, for Quentin Tarantino to direct it, just to see how he manages with something so British and so fluffy, and I'd like Julian Fellowes (who has written both a film and a book to be proud of, Gosford Park and Snobs, respectively) to pen the script because his writings exude class, and this run-of-the-mill story needs a special writer to elevate it. My favourite composer is Thomas Newman, but, I wouldn't want him on this project as I feel his talents would be better served to some other, bigger films I have in my mind. For this film, I'd want a modern soundtrack consisting of some of my favourite choons, as long as they fit with the scene. I'm thinking a bit of M.I.A., Kanye West and Dizzee Rascal. As for the cinematography, I want Christopher Doyle to film it.
(lol away, I did. I mean, "feminist" and "wants to lose virginity asap", contradiction in terms much?)
Anyway, the book I wrote when I was in China developed this into a story with not one but two main female characters, and set it in Bristol University. The second girl, Janice is a good friend of
And lastly, there's an untitled lesbian romance saga, which I can geniunely see being made into a three-season TV programme. Season 1: last year of Sixth form, the popular slut of the school finds herself inexplicably drawn the class geek (who's openly out). She doesn't understand why and doesn't want to admit that maybe she's bi, so she ends up bullying the geek, alienating her, and all this culminates in bittersweet!sechs in the rain in the season finale. In season 2, the geeky girl goes off to Cambridge to study Natural Sciences and happily forms a relationship with another smart girl at Cambridge. Slut bikes it about, not dissimilar to the slut in film #2. But, when geeky girl comes back to London during the holidays, their worlds collide again. Maybe more bunging, but nothing is resolved. And in season three, slut apologises and repents and all is well. Ahahahahahahahaha.
Yeah, I don't know what the point in this was apart from to larf at myself.
Coetzee's post-apartheid literature is rife with political allegory and allusions to Bryon's texts. The characters are all pretty reprehensible in their own ways, epitomized in the protagonist David, who comes across as a selfish narcissist with some very bizarre opinions on women. He is aging, losing his appeal to the opposite sex, and looks for some quick fixes to this problem, but in doing so just gets himself into more trouble. There are tonnes of relationships to scrutinize in the novel: David and Lucy, Lucy and Petrus, David and Bev, David and Melanie, etc, but none of them interested me, and each character's decision-making is questionable at best. It's a rich novel, but not to my personal taste at all.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)
Coraline Jones is a young girl who has recently moved in to a new house in an unfamiliar town. Ignored by her busy parents, she finds a door into what seems to be a parallel world which also has her mother and father, but much more warm and receptive to her. The only foible? Everyone in the world has buttons for eyes, and the parallel world is not all it appears to be.
Coraline is directed by the same man that directed James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and he has again created a film full of whimsy and wonder. However, I couldn't help but feel distinctly underwhelmed by Coraline. The two fat ladies in it were almost Lynchian, and the dark twist ran throughout, so the shock, when it came, felt predictable, and Coraline was so whiny and irritating that, frankly, it would have been better if she had been trapped in the parallel universe forever. Teri Hatcher doing both the voices of the mother and the evil spider-lady was cool, and Dakota Fanning's obnoxious voice suited Coraline's spoilt character perfectly. My brother liked it, me, not so much.
Sex and the City Movie (Michael P. King, 2008)
Despite this film coming out only last year, I've seen it three times already, which, along with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, makes it my most viewed 2008 release. And I couldn't get enough of Carrie, Sam, Charlotte and Miranda, who are all just too awesome. The film itself is not as good as any of the episodes of Sex and the City I've watched, and didn't play true enough to the four characters - I thought the way Sam ended it with her sweet boyfriend was a shame, I couldn't see Steve ever cheating, etc, but it's still massively entertaining nonetheless, with a fun soundtrack (Jennifer Hudson, who co-stars in the film, croons a big ol' tune), brilliant costumes and the occasional funny moment. Kristen Davis is adorable as ever as Charlotte and Kim Catrall is as unashamed and big-mouthed as ever. I am wary about how the 2010 sequel will pan out (frankly, having one film is overkill), but, who am I kidding? I'll be there the day it comes out!
New York Minute (Dennie Gordon, 2004)
Seriously, seriously, seriously shit. The Olsen twins don't have an ounce of talent between them and even usually talented performers - such as Eugene Levy - just behave like goons in this film. There was a time when I was quite young and idolised the Olsen twins in there "So little Time" days, but I'm older and (hopefully) wiser now, and the simple fact that they could make New York seem like an undesirable destination speaks volumes about how garbage this film was.
Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
Hunger is a film that I can admire more than I can appreciate. It was intense, grim, powerful and featured some very strong acting, but throughout, I was just really bored. Michael Fassbender is well worth his acclaim as Bobby Sands, IRA prisoner who goes on a hunger strike and believes his cause worth dying for. His scene with the priest was well-directed and appropriately talking, and the harsh prison violence is unflinchingly brought to life, but this film left me feeling detached and not altogether all that interested.
Dark Matter (Shi-Zheng Chen, 2007)
Curiously under-seen film about a talented Chinese university student from humble roots living in the US, whose aspirations of a Nobel prize are dashed by inter-school politics. This makes him bitter and sets off a sequence of catastrophic actions. Ye Liu is amazing as Liu Xing and the sequences which show the poverty and hardship of his family back at home ring true, which makes his character turning sour even more difficult to watch. Meryl Streep is as efficient and watchable as ever. A bit melodramatic at times, but heart-wrenchingly sad too. Recommended.
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951)
Gene Kelly is Jerry Mulligan, an artist living in Paris who catches the eye of Nina Foch's Milo Roberts, a wealthy divorcee, who starts championing him. At the same time, his head is turned by Leslie Caron's Lise Bouvier. Trouble is, Lisa's attached to her lifetime guardian Henri, a man she feels too indebted to leave. Cue lots of confusion, tap-dancing, and massive musical numbers orchestrated by George Gershwin. I wasn't at all won over by how the romance panned out in the film - it was shoddy, predictable and far too pat to ever come true in real life, but Gene Kelly can tap-dance like a mofo, and the theme song is lovely. Oscar Levant is also rather good fun as the grumpy concert pianist.
Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962)
One of my favourite books, and the only film I really like from Stanley Kubrick. There are flaws, of course - Sue Lyon simply is not Lolita - she's too blonde, too old and nowhere near cruel enough. The chemistry between Mason and Lyon - or lack thereof - pails in comparison to Irons and Swain in the 90s version. That said, it's still a highly enjoyable film; Kubrick chose to blur over the whole paedophilia theme and a none of the naughty bunging is shown; 'tis all implied. James Mason is appropriately hapless as Humbert, and his good looks make him a convincing enough schmuck and male predator bunged in one. One of the biggest differences from the book is Quilty. Peter Sellers makes a hilarious Quilty - neurotic and humorous, when, in the book, he was a whole lot more sinister. It is Sellers' turn as Quilty that sets the tone of this Lolita as something a bit lighter and a lot funnier than the later version. Both are brilliant, tough.
Push (Paul McGuigan, 2009)
Dakota Fanning is such a knob, her character here is a mentor-type role, and she clearly relishes being able to act all "cool" and say "shit" now and then, which she does so by strutting about across the screen with a lame haircut and a look of such arrogance on her fact that it rivals Emma Watson. However, Denzel Washington she ain't, and she just doesn't have natural swagger
I also watched three quarters of Porco Rosso, which I enjoyed a fair bit, although it's not one of Miyazaki's most memorable. Pig was funny.
Oscars of the week ...
Best film Lolita
Best actor in a leading role Ye Liu, Dark Matter
Best actress in a leading role SJP, Sex and the City Movie
Best actor in a supporting role Peter Sellers, Lolita
Best actress in a supporting role Nina Foch, An American in Paris
Best direction Miyazaki for Porco Rosso
Worst film New York Minute
Worst actor in a leading role Chris Evans, Push
Worst actress in a leading role Mary-Kate and/or Ashley Olsen, New York Minute
Worst actor in a supporting role Andy Richter, New York Minute
Worst actress in a supporting role Dakota Fanning, Push
Best direction Dennie Gordon for New York Minute