Note: I sadly didn't get the chance to post this last week as I was away for a few days, so this week's post will include those I've seen over the past two weeks.
Le Tombeau D'Alexandre - 1992 directed by Chris Marker
Yet another Chris Marker film, this one was most interesting but not one of his best. It was much longer than he usually makes his films and while it did provide a lot of insight into this Russian director whom I'd never heard of before, it did feel like to much information was crammed into this already long run time.
Still a fantastic film that reveals much about Alexandre Medievkin and his contemporary directors as well as the state of Cinema in the USSR before the war and a look at communism in Russia as a whole, all with a distinctive Chris Marker touch, involving an intermission in which we see his "famous" cat, Guillaume-en-Egypte.
Worth watching for all Chris Marker fans and those interested in communist cinema.
Note: The Chris Marker post I was planning has been pushed back as I have recently and unexpectedly got my hands on some more of his work, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait a bit longer...
Gates Of Heaven - 1978 directed by Errol Morris
Interesting, if very dated. I watched this mainly because of the "legendary" story of Herzog promising to eat his shoe if Morris finished this film, Morris finished it, Herzog ate his shoe....
As itself it is interesting and an original subject but it became tedious at times and frankly I was surprised at just how ignorant some of the regular Americans that appear in this really seemed, I don't mean to offend any of my American readers, I'm just stating what I thought.
The King's Speech - 2010 directed by Tom Hooper
I finally saw it and for once I regret not being up to date on recent releases...
It's nice to see an excellent film getting the recognition it deserves, for once. I thought this was a wonderful, subtle and well acted film that easily deserves all the praise. I had high expectations but wasn't disappointed.
Hopefully this will serve as a boost to the British film industry and make way for a period of great production, even if the pending loss of the UK Film Council is depressing...I just hope the Margaret Thatcher BioPic will be great as it will be the last film funded by the UK Film Council.
Des Hommes et Des Dieux - 2010 directed by Xavier Beauvois
I continue to catch up on a few of the recent releases that I had wanted to watch but missed.
Des Hommes et Des Dieux exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend it.
It is a slow film and rather sad film, but it is a moving look at Love, Brotherhood and Faith, the subject is treated very respectfully (it is based on a true story) without any unwelcome cynicism or unnecessary politics. It is a simple tale, it doesn't resort to any fancy tricks and techniques, in it's narrative or in it's technicalities. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of last years best.
Scream - 1996 directed by Wes Craven
I'm not much of a Horror fan but I rather enjoyed this film. It wasn't so much a Horror film as a satire/homage to Horror and a summary of a whole sub-genre, the Slasher films.
It was entertaining enough and kept me guessing until the end. But it was a little "too American" for my tastes, but then again I suppose that is to be expected from a film that derives all it's influences from Slasher films, which is probably the most American oriented genre due to the fact they appeal to teenagers because of the violence, pop culture references and nudity.
Good, but not great. It is essential to have seen the Horror/Thriller classics such as Psycho, The Silence Of The Lambs and Halloween to get all the references.
Let Me In - 2010 directed by Matt Reeves
Despite the massive amounts of praise the Swedish film Let The Right One In received among the film buff community, I will readily admit to having been left rather indifferent by it, it just failed to impress me. So the idea of an Americanised remake didn't interest me much at all for I thought they would never be able to improve on the source material. But I was wrong, I liked Let Me In slightly more than Let The Right One In. It wasn't a great film, but it improved upon the original.
Grindhouse - 2007
Death Proof directed by Q.T. and Planet Terror directed by Robert Rodriguez
Despite being a massive Tarantino fan I hadn't seen Death Proof until a couple of days ago. I had heard it was his weakest film and as I'm not a fan of Rodriguez I just never got around to seeing Grindhouse.
Well I finally saw both films and I have to admit that even if Death Proof is one of Q.T.'s minor films it still is a damn fun film. Kurt Russell was surprisingly scary and I never ever expected to see him in such a role.I liked the fact that instead of the film following in the footsteps of many others by introducing a vulnerable female, seeing her killed by a sadistic male and the introducing a strong male lead who will protect or save the vulnerable females. I find these male oriented action films repetitive even if I am a male, and Death Proof's strong females who seriously kick Kurt Russell's ass was most satisfying.
And as for Planet Terror, well Rodriguez finally made a film I enjoyed watching, it was just as stupid as his other works I've seen (Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids) but in this one he somehow managed to keep me entertained throughout the entire film ad the films numerous problems just didn't bother me.
A pair of really fun film that are the perfect guilty pleasures and are great for watching amongst friends.
No Strings Attached - 2010 directed by Ivan Reitman
Ugh... I hated this film, and would never have watched it under my usual film watching circumstances for I watched it with friends who have absolutely no taste in films.
Not much more to say about this film, it was terrible and just gives me another reason to hate romantic comedies.
Tekken - 2010 directed by Dwight Little
Another terrible film (and another recent release). I'm not at all familiar with the computer games of Tekken but this film was frankly horrible. It had a large budget and yet felt like a B-Movie and I don't think they were purposefully trying for that effect. Everything was just so cheesy and badly done, from the acting to the set design (which was particularly bad).
It was entirely made up of either fight scenes or emotional scenes with a few obvious twists thrown in. Seriously, I knew next to nothing about this film before watching it and I still managed to predict all the twists.
The Mirror - 1975 directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
This was the only Tarkovsky I had not seen, before seeing it I was already a confirmed Tarkovsky fan but I was still very impressed by this film. I was surprised to find that I liked this film even more than some of his other, more famous films such as Solaris, in fact I would rank The Mirror as one of Tarkovsky's best, right up there with Stalker and The Sacrifice.
It is not as technically perfect as The Sacrifice and of course has no apparent narrative structure, yet due to it's fantastic acting, perfect cinematography and that unique element that only Tarkovsky's films contain and that is hard to outline, it is an excellent film.
The length also works in it's favour, at about 1h40min it is much shorter than the average Tarkovsky film and yet just as full of wonder.
The Ruling Class - 1972 directed by Peter Medak
This film is a very mixed one. There are so many elements I loved about it and yet so many things that bring it down and stop it from being a great film.
Peter O'Toole is of course fantastic, his performance in this ranks among the best I've ever seen. The story was also excellent but was marred by the random bursts of musical acts and the various attempts at comic relief. This film would have been far, far better as a black comedy of the darkest sort. I think the director did a pretty bad job and the film succeeds mainly because of O'Toole and the story, but it could have been something incredible, instead it is poorly shot, terribly edited and not very well paced.
At the end of the day it's a wonderful story that was badly adapted to the screen yet is partially saved by some great performances, for O'Toole wasn't the only good actor, Alistair Sim and Arthur Lowe are good and I was rather impressed with Caroline Seymour who played O'Toole's characters wife.
Worth watching but rather disappointing for it could have been so much better.