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.
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.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil directed by Sacha Gervasi
I don't quite know what to say about this film, it surpassed my expectations in every single way and turned out to be one of the best films I'd seen for quite a while.
As my musical tastes lean heavily towards Classic Rock, I wondered whether I would enjoy this documentary about a Heavy Metal band, but in fact it left me wanting to hear more of their work and more Metal in general. That's clearly the sign of a successful film.
It may resemble a real life version of This Is Spinal Tap at times but ultimately it is a very moving story about some interesting, talented, modest and extremely likeable musicians who have just never managed to be successful despite their skill and the high esteem they are held in by their peers.
This is a film I'd recommend to everyone, it isn't about Heavy Metal, but about the human spirit, as it is said on this poster.
Note: Here begins a run of films that range from terrible to average at best. This is due to my trip down to see my friend who has appalling taste in film, but I find these runs of terrible films to be rather informative, and it helps me catch up on recent releases.
Yoyo Girl Cop - 2006 directed by Kenta Fukasuku
The films plot is summed up very conveniently in the title, its a young woman or "girl" who works for the "cops" and uses a yo-yo as a weapon.
That, combined with this terrible poster, should be enough to put you off this film, but if you really are curious or in search of a bad film, then I'd recommend giving this try. It is of some cinematic interest, mainly due to the way it gets everything wrong.
Sucker Punch - 2011 directed by Zack Synder
I was surprised to find that after all it was exactly what I expected so perhaps I was less disappointed than someone who saw it upon it's opening with high expectations, don't get me wrong though, it's a very ugly film not from a visual point of view of course, but rather due to it's material and above all the manner in which it's handled. A truly repelling film in many ways that tries hard to hide this fact behind some great imagery but only succeeds in making it even worse as one gets the sense that if it had recognised and acknowledged this ugly nature it might have been more tolerable, but trying to disguise it with this imagery is just repulsive. It depresses me to think of the millions spent of producing this nasty film, and I can't say I'm surprised at the reviews it got now that I've seen it.
I did dislike the soundtrack very much though, and was particularly disappointed to hear a sub par cover of Iggy Pop's classic Search and Destroy.
Unknown - 2011 directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
But I couldn't help but feel that it could have been so much better which a more imaginative story that didn't descend into a mess of over used cliches in the climax. Liam Neeson was good as always but his choice of roles continues to be disappointing, Bruno Ganz was underused yet fantastic and Diane Kruger was surprisingly good, making the most of her barely credible role. January Jones was pretty terrible though. Not a particularly offensively bad film, but an extremely mediocre and forgettable one.
The Adjustment Bureau - 2011 directed by George Nolfi
It's not a particularly bad film, and the two stars are both very good, certainly better than some of the performances I'd seen earlier, bit overall it just felt like something I'd already seen many times before, with little to set it out from the crowd except a rather silly idea that I think would have been more interestign on paper as it became quite ridiculous on screen.
Limitless - 2011 directed by Neil Burger
I've got a review of this one coming soon, but my opinion of it remains unchanged after this second viewing. I still think it's an above average blockbuster. Far better than the previous few films I viewed.
The Switch - 2010 directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck
I hated pretty much everything about this film, the performances, the story even the way it was made was just unbearable. Everything about it seemed to be trying as hard as possibly to annoy me and overall the film represents most of what is bad about these kind of films. It was amusing to see Jeff Goldblum again though, he should really get into some decent films again...
Here I returned to some quality cinema at last.
Ame Agaru - 1999
Michael Collins - 1997 directed by Neil Jordan
The film itself was a very interestign and comprehensive loot at the time rather than a biopic of Michael Collins, he is used as a semi mythical figure by which the film explores the conflict.
With a great cast that includes Liam Neeson as the titular character in what may be his finest performance, Alan Rickman as De Valera odd casting as Rickman never fully manages to shake his English accent, the always excellent and underrated Stephen Rea in a important role. Julia Roberts also makes an appearance which I think was to gain attention from American audiences rather than anything else as she is probably the only American member of the cast and seems distinctly out of place.
Anyway, it's a great, if rather formulaic, film that has a take on the subject that is entirely opposed to that of another film I enjoyed, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.
More - 1969 directed by Barbet Shroeder
Like most people, I saw this film for the soundtrack which was provided by none other than Pink Floyd.
But it turns out that the soundtrack was the best thing about the film anyway.
It's poorly acted, muddled and at time rather tedious, Schroeder manages to get a few nice shot of Ibiza but apart from that he rest is unremarkable.
The music wasn't even used in a particularly great way, so I'd recommend listening to the album without bothering with this film, as it's very forgettable and quite average.
Through A Glass Darkly - 1961 directed by Ingmar Bergman
I can't say I'm very familiar with Bergman's work, as I've only seen The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries previously, but he is a highly acclaimed director and has been recognised as one of the most influential. But I often find it hard to get into his films, and have to admit that I'm just not the biggest fan of his work.
However, I did find this film rather fascinating, even mesmerising at times, but with an unpleasant underlying feel. Although I definitely think it's a very good, even a great film, I will not be rushing out to see more of Bergman's work as there seems to be something about his work I fail to appreciate.
Scarface - 1932 directed by Howard Hawks
I much prefer these Pre Code Hollywood films to anything that came over the next couple of decades. In fact I think that during the Code era Hollywood reached it's lowest point in many ways.
I wasn't a fan of De Palma's remake so was looking forward to seeing a better version of the story, however as good as this one was I couldn't help but feel like it could have been far better. The performances were average at best and the story was pretty badly written but the edge given to the film due to the violence and overall themes that would never have been tolerable a few years later
Pink Floyd: Live At Pompeii - 1972 directed by Adrian Maben (Director's Cut)
Many have said that the director's cut is inferior to the original version but I found this director's cut to be most interesting. Perhaps the various added elements and interviews did break up the atmosphere in a way, but I still found the interviews and clips of the band at work on The Dark Side Of The Moon to be most insightful.
Some of the imagery added in may have been unnecessary, but I thought it complemented the music very well and had not real problem with any aspect of this film.
I think this is the best footage of the band at work ever filmed, it's professionally filmed and Pink Floyd play some of their best pre-Dark Side songs. Echoes is a real highlight as it showcases David Glimour's exceptional guitar skills, and One of These Days, while the footage suffered an unfortunate accident which left only three camera angles, all of which were focused on Nick Mason, employable; serves nonetheless as a great showcase of his drumming skills.
All in all it's a must see, in either of it's versions, for any Pink Floyd fans.
Goodfellas - 1990 directed by Martin Scorsese
But now I realise it really is a masterwork of cinema; as it juggles technical proficiency, original storytelling, gripping dramatic sequences, amusingly comic sequences and horrifying violent scenes, perfectly.
Ray Liotta was fantastic, and it's a real shame his career didn't develop after this film. Pesci has never been better and De Niro is his usual great self.
All in all, the whole film is just about as perfect as films can get, and is one of Scorsese's many masterpieces.
Le Feu Follet (The Fire Within) -1963 directed by Louis Malle.
Harakiri - 1962 directed by Masaki Kobayashi
I like this poster a lot as well.
And finally, I'm also slowly working my way through the longest narrative driven film ever made. I won't reveal anymore though and will write up a post on it when I've finished watchign it in it's entirety.
Or you can just go and look it up on google if you really want to know what film I'm referring to.
A Few Thoughts:
As I've recently arrived in Ireland, my new home, I've decided to celebrate this with a small review series on Irish films (what else?).
I've got a few in mind, all the well known ones such as The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Michael Collins, The Commitments etc... However recommendations would be most welcome!
It should be a short marathon, only a handful of films, maybe spread over a single week, but I think it will be quite interesting as Irish Cinema tends to be overlooked.
I mentioned previously that I hadn't got much writing done during my hiatus, or at least not as much as I had hoped, but I did manage to write 3 rather lengthy reviews which will be posted over the coming week. 2 of them are for films mentioned in this post but you'll have to wait and see which ones.
During my absence, I'm sure I missed some really great posts, if there are any you would particularly recommend, whether they be yours or other bloggers, then please let me know!
Time for some links:
I haven't been reading any blogs lately, so I don't have any links for you this time. But I'll be sure to try and catch up with your blogs as soon as possible.
However, I did come across this most interesting article on what Terence Malick got up to during his 20 year absence.
Well, keep an eye out for my upcoming reviews and don't hesitate to comment! And know I really must get back up to date with all your blogs. I've missed them greatly and I'm glad to be back!