Welcome to my blog, if you are looking for reviews of the latest releases then I would suggest taking a look at some of the other excellent blogs mentioned to the right of this blog, for I review an eclectic mix of films from any era and any country and have sadly little time for the latest film news.
Enjoy my blog and don't hesitate to comment, I will answer without delay!

Monday, 7 November 2011

End of The Week Post

The Adventures of Tintin - 2011 directed by Steven Spielberg
 The comics were childhood favourites of mine, so I was rather nervous when the cinematic adaptation was announced, but with time more information about the project emerged and I began to look forward to it. Peter Jackson producing, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish scripting it, Andy Serkis etc...
It has certainly proved to be extremely divisive, with most hardcore fans of the source material hating it. I however thought it was the best possible adaptation that could have come from the comics. It had a fantastic group of people behind it and they succeeded admirably.
It was far more similar to the books than I had expected which was very pleasing, but I felt that it did occasionally take it's action scenes to unnecessary levels, in particular the "crane fight" scene, which was very over the top. But apart from that, and Captain Haddock's accent which got slightly irritating after a while, the film was a complete success in my opinion.

Monday, 31 October 2011

End Of The Week Post

Films seen this week:

Pusher - 1996 directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Refn is one of the most interesting directors of his generation and while Drive may very well prove to be his breakthrough film, he has been making quality films ever since 1996.
Pusher was Refn's first film and a minor success, it tells the tale of a small time drug pusher operating in Copenhagen who as a result of an unfortunate chain of events finds himself in enormous debt to his providers. His life is at stake while he desperately tries to gather the sum he owes. It is a downward spiral through and through and whilst the outcome is obvious from the start, it is nonetheless a fascinating watch. At first the handheld, gritty style was off putting, but as the film went on I grew to appreciate the films other aspects. It is a story ade up of very familiar elements, yet I still thought it brought a certain freshness to the gangster genre.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Day Of The Samurai 4: 13 Assassins - 2011

13 Assassins is the greatest Samurai film to have been released recently. Not only is it a brilliant hearkening back to the glory days of the genre, but it is also one of the very best films to have been released this year.

13 Assassins was not a financial success in the West, but it's reception from film buffs and critics alike was almost unanimously positive. It literally came out of nowhere and took the various film festivals by storm, I did not know what to expect when I first saw it, as Miike is well known for his unpredictable nature. But fortunately it was a very straightforward hearkening back to the Golden Age of Samurai films, as a fan of the genre, I loved it.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Return To Blogging.

I've been meaning to post this for ages and it's just been getting longer and longer. So don't bother reading this if your not interested, I'm mainly doing it so as to keep track of all the films I watched anyway...

X Men First Class - 2011 directed by Matthew Vaughn
Of course due to my dislike for superhero films in general, I was not expecting to love this film. But the all around high praise it received did lead me to expect a certain level of quality. Unfortunately I found the film to be most disappointing.
Matthew Vaughn is a talented director, and all the cast have done some great work previously, but for me this film just failed completely. The praise it receives completely mystifies me.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Blockbuster Review: Conan The Barbarian 2011

After the pleasant surprise of the last Hollywood blockbuster I watched and review, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, we return to yet another wholly unnecessary, entirely awful re-imagining of an 80's classic.

Conan the Barbarian was directed by Marcus Nispel, who is mainly known for a couple of reimaginings of classic horror films and the very poorly received Pathfinder. And was written by an assortments of writers, all of which have pretty terrible scripts to their names.
It stars Jason Momoa as the titular character, as well as Rose McGowan, Ron Perlman and Stephen Lang.

The original Conan The Barbarian was by no means a great film, and certainly wasn't a particularly successful one as it failed in it's aim to launch the heroic fantasy genre into mainstream cinema and only succeeded in propelling Arnold Shwarzenegger into a career full of terrible action films.

But at least that film had aims to speak of, and fulfilled a purpose of sorts (whether it was a good purpose is a matter of opinion of course), but this remake is nothing more than an enormous waste of money in the worst possible kind of way.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

New-to-me Directors': Pedro Almodovar

Women On The Verge of Nervous Breakdown is the first Almodovar film I have seen.
Which means I've finally decided to remedy what was a pretty obvious flaw in my film knowledge, by delving into the work of Spains' most acclaimed modern director.
I can't say why my attention fell on this film in particular, but I needed a place to start and Women On The Verge Of Nervous Breakdown certainly had an intriguing title.

I was very impressed, with this film Almodovar has crafted what is essentially a romantic comedy in such an original, amusing and energetic way that I immediately decided to seek out more of his work.
Talk To Her was the next I saw of his, and was even more impressed by his handling of a far more serious and dramatic plot, though not without it's humourous moments. But this review concerns my first experience with his work, so I will try to keep Talk To Her out of it and focus only on the marvelous little film that is Women On The Verge of Nervous Breakdown.

Monday, 10 October 2011

New-to-me Directors: Peter Greenaway

After Sergei Parajanov, the next director I chose to turn my attention to was acclaimed British director Peter Greenaway.

When it comes to British directors, most film buffs will immediately think of the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, Edgar Wright and Danny Boyle.
And while these are all great directors, some more than others perhaps, one name is always left out, sometimes purposefully so it seems.
Take for example Empire's list of the 100 Best British films, all the expected choices are there, although the order they are ranked in is very problematic, with a notable exception. Peter Greenaway is one of the finest British directors, so why is he never mentioned? Why are his films always left off such lists? Surely he isn't overly obscure, he had his moment of fame in the late 80's, with The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover.

The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover is the first Greenaway film I have seen, but I was so amazed that I immediately got hold of most of the rest of his work, and have since seen 3 more of his films, all of which I have loved.
But I will try to write this review in keeping with my initial reaction to the film.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

New-to-me Directors: Sergei Parajanov

 With my previous post detailing my aim to see at least one film of the many acclaimed directors I had missed out on, I embarked on a large project. And I've decided to keep track of it through this blog, every time I watch my first film of one of the directors listed, I shall review it here and express my first impressions of the director. This should prove to be a most interesting project and will help me keep track of my progress.
It may also be a rather uneven project, as I have also many other films than those included in this project to watch, as well as various other projects and of course, work. But I'll do my best, and we'll see how this turns out.
I'll also update the original post each time I cross one director off the list, links to the reviews will be found there.

The Colour Of Pomegranates (1968) is the film I chose to mark my first encounter with the work of Armenian director Sergei Parajanov. It is widely considered his masterpiece, as well as one of the most visually magnificent films in Cinema. As this is the first film I've seen of his, I can't comment on the former statement, but the latter is certainly true.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Blockbuster Review: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes - 2011

The more I grow as a film buff, the further I move away from Hollywood blockbusters, which nonetheless sum up the medium for the majority of people.
I have discovered some wonderful works of cinema over the past couple of years, and yet I am still unable to completely ignore Hollywood blockbusters, I am time and time again disappointed and yet I still persist in seeing most of the major ones each year. And for once, I'm glad I did, for I have finally come across a film that sits squarely within the category of blockbuster and yet is a very good film, proving that while enormous amounts of money doesn't guarantee quality, it does not make it impossible to obtain either.

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is everything one could want from a blockbuster, and nothing more, it is not a great film by any means, but it is all a blockbuster should be, something that seems increasingly hard for blockbusters to deliver these days.

Monday, 5 September 2011

End Of The Week Post

Sorry for my abscence, these past couple of weeks have been particularly busy for me. But I've decided to get back into blogging now and should keep it up for the whole of September at least.

Films seen since Sunday 14th August :

Blue - 1993 directed by Kryzysztof Kieslowski
After seeing Kieslowski's The Double Life Of Veronique, I was intirgued by this director's work and decided to watch his celebrated Three Colours Trilogy.
 This first film in the trilogy is an interesting one and is often considered the best. I can't say I fully understood it, but it certainly is a most beautiful piece of cinema, and is the most impressive of the trilogy in terms of it's use of the titular colour.
I realise that it was a film aimed primarily at capturing a state of mind on film, rather than a series of events. Fortunately the central performance by Juliette Binoche is impressive enough for this to work and it makes for an all around good film, that somehow left me slightly underwhelmed.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

International/Classic Review: A Bittersweet Life - 2005

Every now and then a film I watch a film that leaves me completely astounded, and occasionally even restores my faith in Cinema. A Bittersweet Life is one of these films, it isn't particularly original as it is made up of elements that will be familiar to most film buffs, it has no monumental performances from it's cast, and makes no major technical breakthroughs. And yet it has something that is not often seen in recent films, it has a deliberate sense of self, an identity that I find lacking in many similar films these days, and more importantly, it has a soul.
This may sound silly, but that is what makes all the difference between this film and the many other vapid and dull "gangster" films released each year.
Perhaps this is because it is a Korean film (original title: Dalkomhan insaeng), and the Korean film industry is a relatively new one that seems to be at the height of it's powers at the moment, producing one great film after another and completely outdoing Hollywood in one of their own staple genres, the Thriller, in particularly the investigative thriller (police vs psychos).

A Bittersweet life isn't really a detective thriller, I'd say if it had to be put into a genre, it would be a gangster film.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Top 50: Directors Whose Work I Need To Explore

After a couple of years of film watching with purpose, I've seen quite a few films and have become familiar with many directors works. But as always (and as is evident by this previous post) there are some directors whose work I have yet to experience. Some are internationally famous directors, other more obscure, but I have been recommended their work many times and feel that the time has come for me to watch at least one of their films.

Blockbuster Review: Limitless - 2010

After giving very negative reviews to the last two blockbusters I reviewed, I decided to write about a blockbuster that I had actually enjoyed this time; for after all I’m not a snob and can enjoy anything as long as it’s good and/or entertaining whether it be an old Kung Fu, a B movie or an enormous blockbuster.
Limitless may not be a blockbuster on par with the sheer enormity of the likes of the Harry Potter films, Avatar or the recently released Green Lantern, but it certainly was designed to be a crowd pleaser and to generate money. 
There is nothing remotely deep or intelligent about it; it is just an above average Hollywood film. However it did have some interesting ideas behind it, but as with many such films they were poorly developed and put aside for more thrilling and attention grabbing elements.
Of course the fact that De Niro had a supporting role was enough to get me interested in this film, but that interest was diminished by the fact that he hasn’t been in a good film for quite some time, that I had never seen Bradley Cooper in a film before and that on the whole the film didn’t appeal to me at all. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

End of the Week Post

Films seen this week:

The Usual Suspects - 1995 directed by Bryan Singer

This is a brilliant film, I had forgotten just how great it was, or maybe I had failed to perceive it at first. What makes it so great is the fact that no matter how many problems you may have with the film, say you think one scene is overly dramatic, or that you think you've found a plot hole or that you think the motivations of one character were unclear, all perfectly sensible criticisms that actually are useless when brought against The usual Suspects, because all that transpires is essentially a completely made up and warped version of events, told by one of the characters, so to criticise the film's story is to criticise his story which is all untrue anyway. Brilliantly done and a very original and enjoyable piece of cinema that is a perfect blend of the more artistic types of American films and the blockbusters.

Friday, 12 August 2011

List: Top 5 Hollywood Classics I Still Haven't Seen

I thought it would be interesting to take a break from my lengthy reviews and post a list or two.
The idea for this one came to me almost instantly as I'm always feeling guilty about having not seen these films, but for some reason never watch them or even make any effort to get hold of them.
I don't know why this is, but I do know that I'll have to watch them sometime as they are all massively important films especially from a cultural point of view, they are classics in the truest sense of the word.

Classic Hollywood has never really been my cup of tea anyway, I much prefer the work of the Hollywood New Wave, or even the Pre-Code films. But I'm often left unimpressed by the so called classics of the 40's and 50's. Maybe that is why I have never made the effort to watch these films.
Anyway, enough rambling, here are my choices:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Day Of The Samurai 3: Harakiri - 1962

Harakiri, or Seppuku as it is normally called in Japan, is a film by celebrated director Masaki Kobayashi, the director of the monumental Human Condition Trilogy and another Samurai classic, Samurai Rebellion.

Harakiri is one of the most acclaimed Samurai films, and one of the most successful outside of Japan as it one the Special Jury Prize at Cannes as well as being nominated for the prestigious Palme D'Or (which it lost to the excellent The Leopard, which in my opinion was a deserving win). Thus it marks a real turning point for the genre as a whole, as this is when such films became recognised not only for their ability to entertain and provide amazing action spectacles, but also for their intellectual content and the insight they shed into Japanese society and the Way of the Samurai, a subject that has long fascinated Western audiences.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Irish Film Blogathon

Due to my recent move to Ireland, I started up a small series of reviews designed to celebrate Irish Cinema. However I soon realised that I would only be able to review a small fraction of the films I had planned to.

I had briefly considered putting together a blogathon, but had soon dismissed the idea as I did not think anyone would be interested. However Nathanael Hood has convinced me to give it a try, and as a result this blog with be hosting it's very first blogathon in celebration of Irish Cinema!

To start off, here are the films I've already reviewed in my marathon:

Monday, 8 August 2011

End Of Week Post

Let There Be Rock 1980 directed by Eric Dionysius, Eric Mistler
This is by far one of the best live performances by a band I've ever seen. The energy of this band and the enormity of their performance and overall sound is simply astounding.
This is definitely some of the best live footage of ACDC and I'd say it's a must see for all their fans. And even for any fans of the Rock genre as a whole, as few bands completely capture the very spirit of rock as well as ACDC did.

La Double Vie De Veronique - 1991 directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
 This is a film I had heard much about and was really looking forward to. It is also the first of Kieslowski's films I have seen, I thought it was a most interesting work, that could have been off putting in it's vagueness if not for the wonderful performance of Irene Jacob and the stunning cinematography.
It is truly a beautiful film to look at, and the story kept me interested even thought it was almost cryptic in it's nature, I thought it flowed very well and the fact that I didn't grasp all of it did not bother me at all. It reminded me of a David Lynch film in some ways, the way nothing is explained for the viewer and the way themes are followed through in peculiar ways throughout the film. I liked it a lot and Kieslowski has definitely got my interest, I look forward to seeing the Three Colours Trilogy and the Decalogue.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Irish Film Marathon: Part 7

The Secret Of Kells reveals yet another side to Irish Cinema, one rather different from the other films I've explored as part of this marathon. It is an animation, and a very beautiful one.
The Secret Of The Kells isn't an entirely Irish film as it was funded by companies from all over Europe. However the story and themes of it are fundamentally Irish, so much so that this is probably the definitive Irish animation, of the ones I've seen so far anyway.

This is the first time I've attempted to review an animated film, and I will admit that I don't quite know how to go about it. But I'll do my best.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Irish Film Marathon: Part 6

Once is a film directed by John Carney and released in 2007. It was shot over a period of 17 days with a budget of about 180 thousand. Yet it went on to become one of the most successful independent films of the year earning near on 10 million as well as winning multiple awards including an Oscar (for Best Original Song).
It is a real critical favourite and one that I had been recommended many times before, but had never got around to watching it until now. I'm glad I did, as this is clearly the smallest of all the films chosen for this marathon and shows a different side to Ireland's film industry.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Irish Film Marathon: Part 5

My Left Foot is a film released in 1989 and directed by Jim Sheridan, one of Ireland's most acclaimed director, with who I'm afraid to say I'm not very familiar with as this is the first of his films I've seen.
It tells the tale of Christy Brown, an Irish painter and author who has suffered from cerebral palsy from the moment he was born, thus making him entirely paralysed with the sole exception of his left foot, hence the title.
It was very well received by critics and audience alike and won several prestigious awards including the coveted Best Actor as well as the Best Supporting Actress.
But the majority of the praise focused on the amazing performance by Daniel day Lewis in the titular role. Most of the awards for Best Actor went to him that year. But even removing DDL from the picture, the film remains a great one and in my opinion fully deserving of all the praise.

Irish Film Marathon: Part 4

I should have had this review up ages ago, but due to some technical problems with my PC and because I've been busier than usual, I didn't get the chance to write it up. Also it will be a bit shorter than the others.

The film which garnered the poorest reviews out of all the films chosen for thsi marathon would be Alan Parker's adaptation of Frank McCourt's classic biographical novel, Angela's Ashes.
I have vague memories of the book, which I read at a very young age, but I do remember enjoying it and some particular passages have stayed in my mind ever since.
But unfortunately critics and audiences alike seem to have thought it the adaptation failed to capture the greatness of the book. It received poor reviews, and flopped.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

End Of The Week Post

 A slight improvement on the last week's viewing, but still not as many films as I would have liked:

The Great Silence 1968 directed by Sergio Curbucci
I don't believe I've ever seen a film try so persistently to subvert and deconstruct a genre than The Great Silence does.
It takes so many familiar elements of the genre and spins them completely on themselves, we have the very setting itself which is typically dry, dusty and hot transformed into a snowy wasteland, the bandits are portrayed as sympathetic and the bounty hunters as villainous, the classic "six shooter" of the hero is traded out for a automatic Mauser and the end is entirely unexpected and a complete reversal of what you may have come to expect from a Western.
It's a poorly made film, with awful dubbing, but it is saved by the sheer originality of it all, and of course by Kinski's and Trintignant's performances, as the rest of the cast are terrible. It's a fun film all around, not a masterpiece but as far as non-Leone Spaghetti Westerns go, this one was good.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Irish Film Marathon: Part 3

In my previous review, I compared Michael Collins to The Wind That Shakes The Barley and it didn't come out very favourably, but the truth is it is far from being a bad film. In fact it's a very good one that is extremely close to being great.

Michael Collins is directed by Neil Jordan, which may come as some surprise to those used to seeing his name on films such as The Crying Game and others, but Jordan clearly shows his versatility here as he directs a big Hollywood blockbuster with some of the biggest stars of the time.
It was released in 1996 to largely positive reviews and became the highest grossing film in Ireland, to be beaten only by Titanic sever years later.
However it failed to gain the success it aimed for, as it grossed only 16 million worldwide on a budget of 28 million and positive but not exceptional reviews (77% on RT.)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Irish Film Marathon Part 2

The Wind That Shakes The Barley is a 2006 film directed by English director Ken Loach.
It is the most successful independently financed film made in Ireland, with a budget of around 6 million. It was a resounding success and a triumph for independent filmmaking. It won the prestigious Pal D'Or by a unanimous vote. I personally think it was a most deserving winner as it is certainly one of the finest films of the decade.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley is widely held to be a masterpiece of independent Cinema and of Irish Cinema in particular.
It shares many themes and similarities with an earlier Irish films, Michael Collins, a big budget biopic of one of the most important men of the times.
However in my opinion this film is superior, despite the obvious differences in budget size. But more on that later.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Irish Film Marathon Part 1

For this first part I will be reviewing The Commitments, a film made in 1991, directed by Alan Parker and adapted from a novel by one of Ireland's most successful authors, Roddy Doyle.
The Commitments is one of Ireland's most beloved films frequently topping lists of best Irish films, but it is also highly praised by international audiences and critics alike as it is an extremely likeable film.

It is not exactly what you may have in mind when thinking of a "great" film. It has no ground breaking technical attributes, no award winning performances, no important message and no sensational or particularly thrilling events. And yet I would not hesitate to call it a great film.
Perhaps due to it's sheer likeability, the way it takes a group of very realistic yet at the same time larger than life characters many or even most of whom are very unlikeable and makes such a charming and enjoyable film.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Announcing: Irish Films Marathon!

As I've mentioned previously, I recently moved with my family from France to Ireland (which explains my lengthy blogging hiatus). I thought it would be a nice idea to mark my return with a short series of reviews of Irish films.

As Irish Cinema is far from being prolific, and in fact has been marked by long periods of inactivity such as the 40's when only two films were made, and they have only provided Cinema with a handful of celebrated directors such as Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan, it was not a particularly tough task to choose which films to write about. But I'll write more on the industry as a whole later on.

I've chosen a rather varied bunch, some comedies, an animation, some big budget Hollywood funded films some small independently made. Some directed by Irishmen some by English.
But one thing they all have in common is the fact that they all rank amongst the most famous Irish films.
I could have gone with more obscure films but I feel that for a small marathon such as this I would do better to focus on the bigger works. Of course this also makes it easier for me to write as I have already seen many of these previously.
But this does not mean that I won't be reviewing more obscure Irish films at a later date, I certainly have a few in mind already.

Monday, 25 July 2011

End Of The Week Post

My viewing this week on a pretty pathetic scale, only one film seen. I don't even have any excuses, I just didn't get around to watching as many films as I wanted to.

Alfie - 1966 directed by Lewis Gilbert

Alfie is a vastly misunderstood British masterpiece. It has sadly never got the recognition it deserved in my opinion, even if it did start Michael Caine's career and was the subject for an awful looking remake starring Jude Law. But its delightfully dark humour, inventive directing, brilliant use of narration (which involves Alfie breaking the fourth wall in a most amusing fashion) combined with its highly interesting views on morality and the extreme skill with the character of Alfie is developed make it a most interesting piece of Cinema, that is as subtle in its approach to its subject, as it is ground-breaking in its choice of subject and its technical prowess.  It may seem rather dated by modern standards, but this is only because it succeeds in capturing the times it is set in so well. It may not be a timeless classic, but it's a film I feel is worthy of a reevaluation.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Day Of The Samurai 2: After The Rain 1999

For this week’s Day Of the Samurai I’ve chosen a film with a most interesting history surrounding it.
Ame Agaru is a Samurai film made in 1999 not long after the death of one of Cinema’s all time greats, Akira Kurosawa. He left behind him a script that he had not had the chance to put to film. Then came in Takashi Koizumi who had been his assistant director for many years, he took the script and with it made this film. So in a way, this is Kurosawa’s last offering to Cinema.
But there are even more interesting facts surrounding this film; for one of the main actors was Shiro Mifune, the son of Toshiro Mifune whose famed collaboration with Kurosawa had given rise to one of the greatest actor/director teams ever from which sprung 17 fantastic films.
Thus we have the legacies of both Kurosawa and Mifune that live on through their “heirs” of sorts and create this film. But it is not only the spirits of these two greats that lives on through this film, it is also the whole spirit of the Samurai genre, which by the year this film was made had waned considerably since the 60’s when it was at its height. As well as this, much of the crew, including Editor, Cinematographer and more, had worked with Kurosawa previously, mostly on Ran, so this was very much a reunion for this great group of talents as well as a tribute to one of the greatest directors. Even Kurosawa’s daughter designed the costumes, and then went on to become a successful costume designer.
Tatsuya Nakadai
Furthermore, another veteran Japanese actor and a favourite of Kurosawa’s appears in a small role in this film, Tatsuya Nakadai, star of Ran, Kagemusha and many other Kurosawa films who also received much praise for his performances in other works such as The Human Condition Trilogy. I was overjoyed to see his name listed in the opening credits as he was a great actor who survived well past the height of his career, which was probably in the late 50’s and 60’s. It felt very fitting to see him in such a nostalgic film. For it is a very nostalgic film, in both the way it is executed and through its script.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Herzog and Kinski: 5 Films

Cinema has been filled with memorable director/actor collaborations, think of the famous Scorsese/De Niro or more recently Scorsese/Di Caprio, or perhaps Kurosawa/Mifune or Kurosawa/Nakadai.
And although each of these collaborations have produced not just one but several masterpieces of Cinema, none of them were as explosive, as contradictory, as inspired as the work produced by the creative partnership between German director Werner Herzog and German actor Klaus Kinski.

If you've seen the excellent and informative documentary Werner Herzog made about his professional and personal relationship with Klaus Kinski, named My Best Fiend, then you will already know that their relationship was a troubled one.
Arguments, violent clashes, and even death threats abounded. Much of the cause was the fact that Kinksi was possibly clinically insane. And yet he is easily one of the most terrific actors, each of his performances is mesmerising, but none more so than the work he did with Herzog.
they complemented each other perfectly and through their collaborations, made five astounding films. Some greater than others, but all worthy of consideration by any serious film buff.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

International/Classic Review: Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli - 1960

For some reason I've never really been able to get into Italian Cinema. By which I mean the golden age of Cinecitta, with famed directors such as Fellini, Bertolluci etc... Recent Italian films are a whole other story.
But I had seen a few, some, like Il Conformista by Bertollucci, were disappointments and dampened my enthusiasm for Italian Cinema, but others such as Luchino Visconti's Il Gappardo made their way into my list of all time favourites.
In fact, seeing Il Gappardo was very much a turning point for me, before then I had just assumed that Italian Cinema was "not for me". Fortunately, I was wrong. Il Gappardo lead to Fellini's 8 1/2 which I loved and since then I've found myself enjoying Italian Cinema much more than ever before.

But one of the highlights would definitely be a film I watched recently, by Luchino Visconti again, named Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli or Rocco and His Brothers.

It's a film that may appear simple at first glance, but hides a depth of emotion and a maturity that is increasingly hard to find in Cinema. Rocco and His Brothers is a film about conflict, family, tainted love and much more.
It is a masterpiece and only confirms what I had suspected, that Visconti is one of Cinema’s most talented directors, who sadly doesn't get as much praise or recognition as his less talented compatriots such as Bertollucci and Antonioni.

Monday, 18 July 2011

End Of The Week Month Post

I'm back! This post marks my triumphant return to blogging.
Due to my massive move, I haven't been able to see as many films as usual, and have not been very active on the internet at all. However I did manage to see these few films over the last month or so, since my last post which was on the 19th of June. 
Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get much written during this break, mainly because I've been busier than usual and have had a terrible but thankfully temporary internet connection. 
Now my connection is considerably better and I've started putting together my various ideas for posts.

Films seen:

Touch Of Evil - 1958 directed by Orson Welles
Yet another Classic I had never seen. I like Orson Welles very much as both an actor and a director, and I'm glad I saw this fully restored version which was as close to Welles original vision as possible.
The directing and cinematography were extraordinary, I'll never forget that dolly shot that opens the film. Overall the film is a technical marvel, and Welles gives a fantastic performance. The story was rather interesting, but I thought it felt rather incomplete, like a rough draft rather than a fully finished script. This, combined with the strange attitudes and performances from the rest of the cast and the unnatural stilted dialogue, took away from my enjoyment of the film somewhat. But nonetheless it remains a great cinematical achievement.   

Sunday, 19 June 2011

End Of The Week Post

A pretty poor week for viewing I'm afraid to say, for reasons made clear below...

Films Seen This Week:

The Phenix City Story - 1955 directed by Phil Karlson
I was urged to watch this by Nathanael Hood and I'm very glad I did so.
This was quite a powerful, if poorly made film, that showed the darker side of America. I can't say I loved it, but I was impressed by the brutal honesty of it all, very realistic and very convincing. However I did find it overly preachy.
Definitely a memorable viewing experience though, if only for a certain very horrifying scene that I will long remember. In fact, the film reminded me in a way of The Intruder that I reviewed not long ago, there may not seem to be much ground for comparison at first, but the fashion in which it was made, combined with the horrifying yet honest look at the darker side of America reminded me of that film at times... 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Roger Corman Blogathon: The Intruder - 1962

What is it that makes a film truly horrifying?
Is it the cheap shocks, over dramatic sound effects and over abundance of gore that plague the majority of recent horror films? I don't think so; I believe it is either achieved through complete mastery of the films atmosphere, thus making it perfectly unsettling as is the case with the masterful The Shining.
Or is it achieved when a film takes a look at the ugly side of human nature, the darker side, but the side we all know exists.

The Intruder is a film that shows the darker side of human nature, the mob mentality, the ignorance fuelled prejudice, the fear which eventually leads to violence.
There are few characters that can be called "good", some are just less racist than others, and the film does not have a particularly "happy" conclusion, but more on that later.
It is a slightly depressing film, but a powerful one that is brutally honest in it's depiction of the prevalent attitudes towards racial integration in the South at the time.

Guest Post: FRC World Icon Tour

I really should have posted this earlier, but I'm very busy at the moment.

Anyway, Custard at the great Front Room Cinema has come up with the most interesting idea i've heard in a while. A World Icon Tour, this involves posting an entry on a person that has left a mark in his/her's respective counties Cinema. Entries are to be submitted weekly by his readers from many different countries and by the end of the series it should be a brilliant look at World Cinema.

As I live in France, and Custard lives in the UK, I was the first one he asked to prepare a post for this most intriguing series.
For my Icon, I chose French director Henri Georges Clouzot. Mainly because I've been fascinated with him ever since I saw Le Salaire De La Peur, but also because my interest in him and his work was recently revived causing me to watch 3 more of his films, thus I consider myself rather knowledgeable on this subject in particularly and thought it would be fitting to write about him. 

Friday, 17 June 2011

David Lynch, 1946 - Present

This may sound cliche, but it's true. David Lynch is a director you either love or hate. You can either see him as a wild genius and one of the most creative figures in Cinema or as a pretentious charlatan who makes meaningless films.

I personally think he's a great film maker, who has fully grasped exactly what film making means. Of course he applies this skill in a way that will not appeal to everyone, as he clearly makes films as some kind of art form rather than telling a usual narrative tale. However this does not mean that I worship his every film. In fact I find much of his work to be quite bad, sometimes downright terrible.
He's the kind of director that has created his own genre, his films are in a class of their own and I often find them hard to review mainly due to the lack of any other works to compare them to.
But as he is in this month Director's Chair over at the LAMB, I though it would be a good opportunity to catch up on the few films of his I hadn't seen and write a post reviewign them all. However I did leave out Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, mainly because I haven't seen the TV series not do I want to, so that film remains the only feature length film of David Lynch I haven't seen.

Now I shall share my thoughts on each of his other 9 feature length films:

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Day Of The Samurai 1: The Sword Of Doom

So, I've recently come up with a new idea for a series of reviews. I will be reviewing a single Samurai film every week, there is no specific day for the review, it can be any random day of the week.
This will help me work my way through the very large collection of Samurai films I've gathered, and will perhaps get some of you readers interested in this most entertaining of genres.

There is no real order to the films chosen, they will be from many different directors and from the period between the late 50's and early 70's, the Golden Age of Samurai cinema. The films chosen will range from classic Kurosawa such as The Hidden Fortress to Lady Snowblood and Zatoichi. However, I won't be including any Western Samurai themed films, such as The Last Samurai, but I may review some recent Samurai films such as 13 Assassins or Twilight Samurai occasionally.
Basically this is just an small outlet for me to express my love of this genre.

For this first day I have chosen one of the very best Samurai films to have come out of the 60's.  
The Sword Of Doom - 1966 directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Monday, 13 June 2011

End Of The Week Post

This is a pretty enormous post as I've watched quite a lot this week, some great films, some not so good...

Rushmore - 1998 directed by Wes Anderson
 There is something I find really off putting about Anderson's films. It's hard to say exactly what but as much as I like the directing, music performances and the rest, I still find the films to be vaguely annoying and obnoxious.
Still, Rushmore was good. I really enjoyed the sound track, made up of some of my favourite artists such as The Who, John Lennon and many more.
Olivia Williams was particularly great, possibly the best performance in the film. I really should see more of her work.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Comparing: The Thing From Another World - 1951 & The Thing - 1982

This month's Movie of The Month over at the LAMB is John Carpenter's Science Fiction Horror film, The Thing. Made in 1982 The Thing is a remake of a film named The Thing From Another World made in 1951.

I thought it would be interesting to watch both films and compare them.So here are my thoughts on each film individually as well as my thoughts on how the the remake compares to the original.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

International/Classic Review: The White Sun Of The Desert - 1970

To take a break from reviewing poor Hollywood action films, I've decided to review a very different kind of action film.
The White Sun of The Desert, a Soviet film made in 1970 by Vladimir Motyl.
This film went on to become one of the most popular films in the Soviet Union at the time, and over the years has become a part of popular culture and remains so even today, many years after the end of the Soviet Union.

My experience with Soviet films of this period was entirely limited to the work of a certain Andrei Tarkovsky, one of my favourite directors yet also a very intellectual one whose films are far from being populist.
However I had explored Silent Soviet Cinema to some extent but with the exception of the Battleship Potemkin, I had come away rather disappointed.
My hopes were high for this film though, after all it was voted the best Russian film in 1995 and is even watched ceremoniously by all Russian astronauts before they set out on their spacial missions. It's a classic, there are no other words to put it really. As much as The Godfather is an American Classic, The White Sun Of The Desert is a Russian one. But the similarities between the two films end there...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Blockbuster Review: Sherlock Holmes - 2009

I've decided to try my best to review mainstream films every now and then. So here is my review of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes - 2009.
Despite the impression you may get from the review, I didn't hate it so much, certainly not as much as The Expendables for example, but I was not at all impressed. 

Before I begin, I may as well state that I'm a massive Sherlock Holmes fan. I've read every single one of the stories involving him and he had become something of an idol for me.

But I am not a complete snob when it comes to Holmes and have enjoyed many films based on the books before, even if they were somewhat loosely based upon them.
However, Guy Ricthie's film was by far the worst I'd seen, of any cinematic adaptation.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

End Of The Week Post

Films seen this week:

Rango - 2011 directed by Gore Verbinski
I had high expectations for this, but I was surprised to find that this is easily the best animation I've seen since Toy Story 3.
I loved the references to some of my favourite films, I liked the voice acting a lot and even liked the fact that all the characters were animals. Usually that kind of thing annoys me but here I enjoyed seeing all the different species of the desert each perfectly suited for the character.
It had it's faults, such as a few overly sentimental scenes, but on the whole it's simply a fantastic animation that was not as childish as I at first expected.

Thoughts on the film that started it all.

After my divergence into the realm of Action Films, I now return with my post on Pulp Fiction, as promised a few days ago.
This isn't really a review, more a personal post explaining the effect Pulp Fiction had on me.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Thoughts on the current state of Action films

As promised in my review for The Expendables, here are a few thoughts on the current state of Action films.

There is a problem that seems to plague all recent action films (by this I mean those of the last 10-15 years).
They just aren't good action films any more, by this I mean they cannot hope to rival such old school action films of the same breed as Die Hard (perhaps the greatest of them all?) Predator, Mad Max, Terminator 1&2, Rambo: First Blood, Point Break, Robocop etc.
The more recent ones may be good films in their own right, but I feel that when looked at as action films, they often fall short.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Happy Birthday Clint Eastwood!

May the 31st was Clint Eastwood's birthday.
I won't be doing a post for every star's birthday, but Eastwood has had quite an influence on me and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to his extraordinary career that has spanned about 6 decades.
He is a director and actor I have long admired so I decided to watch one of his films to celebrate his 81st.
I chose A Perfect World as it is one I had in my collection but had not had the chance to see yet.
Here are a few of my thoughts on it.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Blockbuster Review: The Expendables - 2010

I've noticed that I mainly review great films on this blog. So I thought I might try my hand at writing about one of the worst films I saw last year.
That would be Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables.

The Expendables is a film with so many problems that it would take me far to long to list them all in this review, so I'll keep it short.
Actually, when I originally started this review I rapidly veered off into a rant about the problems that plague modern action films, but I've decided to use that for another post.

Instead we have The Expendables, the single worst action film I saw last year (thank God I didn't pay for it).
It is a film so puerile, so poorly made, so badly acted and so awfully written that I honestly felt embarrassed for all those attached to it.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

End of Week Post

This was an interesting week that saw the end of my Silent film marathon and my return to normal blogging. Thanks again to all those who put up with my endless Silent film reviews for weeks. I appreciate it. 

25th Hour - 2002 directed by Spike Lee
A most excellent film that ranks among Spike Lee's finest films. The whole cast is excellent and while I had a few problems with Lee's style of film making at first the at times jarring editing in particular, I soon got used to it.The story was one that might not sound very interesting on paper, but I can assure you that the combined talents behind this film make it quite gripping to watch, even though it lasts well over 2 hours I can honestly say I was not bored for a minute.
At first I felt a bit to detached from the film, possibly because of how overtly even aggressively American it was, however I found the end to be very moving.
It's a very realistic film in many ways, especially where the different characters and there motives are concerned, and I liked that a lot. Very admirable work by Spike Lee.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Top 5: Philip Seymour Hoffman Performances

Philip Seymour Hoffman is easily one of the best actors working today in Hollywood. He is effortlessly charismatic despite his features which are far from being typically "good looking".
He chooses excellent roles with few exceptions and even when in a sub par film he always stands out amongst the rest of the cast. His career has been a mix between small roles in large casts such as in the films of PT Anderson, artistic independent type films such as Synecdoche New York, Award winning films such as Capote and mainstream blockbuster successes such as Mission Impossible 3.

His career is a relatively short one, have lasted 20 years to date. He had his first on screen role in 1991, however he only rose to fame with his performances in Paul Thomas Anderson's films of the late 90's.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

15 Questions Meme

I was urged to participate in this meme by Stevee @ Cinematic Paradox, and seeing as I just finished my marathon I though I might as well.

It was thought up by Anna @ Defiant Success and consists of 15 Questions about film, which I will now try and answer.

So here goes:

Silent Film Marathon: Final Film

Well, this marathon now comes to a close. It has been a most interesting and informative marathon that lasted longer than I expected.
As interesting as the marathon was, I still look forward to reviewing some more recent films, day after day of Silent film watching did get tiring after a while, maybe I had been over ambitious, but I'm pleased with the result.
If you want a complete list of the films I reviewed just click on this icon which you can find either in my review index or on my blog sidebar (where it will not remain much longer):

For this final post, I have decided to do away with my original plan, which was to watch and review the Soviet film Ivan. I was greatly disappointed by Arsenal, a film of the same director, so decided to remove Ivan and replace it by a more interesting film.
Over the course of the marathon I had seen a certain silent film mentioned in the comment section quite a few times, this would be Nanook Of The North.
I decided that this would be an excellent replacement as it is considered one of the staple films of the era. Luckily it was on Youtube in it's entirety.