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, 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.

Attack The Block - 2011 directed by Joe Cornish
I've had been wanting to see this film for ages, and fortunately it was worth the long wait.
Attack The Block is a terrific Horror/Comedy, even if it did lean more towards the Horror side than I originally expected.
Perhaps what I admired most about it is that it showed yet another side to British cinema, a very cool side as opposed to the work of directors like Mike Leigh, and genuinely cool and enjoyable as oppose to the fabricated and false coolness of Guy Ritchie's work.
I suppose it can be likened to the work of Edgar Wright, a director I greatly admire, so that would explain why I liked it so much. As the praise for it has been pretty much overwhelming, I would highly recommend this film.

The Tree Of Life - 2011 directed by Terence Malick
Another film I had long awaited, however this one did not leave me satisfied at all. I have now seen all Terence Malick's films and for the moment The Tree Of Life remains my least favourite.
In my opinion Malick just aimed far too high with this one and didn't achieve his lofty goals. The footage was splendid, the music was superb, the performances were great (especially Brad Pitt's) but the film just didn't work as a whole. Malick put it together in a way that is unnecessarily convoluted, and transformed what could have been a great story, into a mess.

Drive - 2011 directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
After seeing this film, I am convinced that Refn is one of the most interesting director's working today. I did not like Valhalla Rising at all, but Bronson impressed me greatly, and now after loving his latest film Drive, I have decided to check out The Pusher Trilogy.
Drive reminded me a classic Hollywood film, from the late 60's early 70's, such as Bullitt or Dirty Harry, but made from an entirely European perspective. Ryan Gosling didn't impress me much, and the pop music was annoying at times, but all around it's one of the very best films of the year.

Hunger - 2008 directed by Steve Mcqueen
With many of the acclaimed films I watched recently (The Tree of Life, Drive etc...) I did not expect that the finest film would turn out to be a relatively overlooked but nonetheless critically successful film made on a small budget from a first time director.
Hunger, directed by artist Steve McQueen, is a 2008 film that on the surface is about the hunger strikes organised by activist Bobby Sands in the Maze prison of Northern Ireland. But such a description only covers a tiny portion of this films scope, it is not about Bobby Sands, nor is it about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, nor is it a typical prison film. If anything it is an experimental film, a work of art rather than a narrative driven piece, that flits from character to character as the films goes along, it is a piece driven by atmosphere more than anything else.
It is a film that relies enormously on it's visual aspects, and these are sublime, for a first time director, McQueen shows an enormous amount of skill, creating several unforgettable images and managing to create a film that is at first glance about nothing in particular, and upon further examination, a wonderfully thought provoking film. Needless to say, I am greatly looking forward to Steve McQueen's follow up to this film, Shame released this year and starring Michael Fassbender (winner of this year's Golden Lion for Best Actor) who portrayal of Bobby Sands in this film was devastating and his finest work I've seen so far.

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance - 2005 directed by Park Chan Wook
Park Chan Wook is a director who intrigues me immensely, yet for some reason I like him as a director more than I like his films (with the exception of I'm a Cyborg But That's OK, which I loved), Oldboy did not impress me, and now I have a similar reaction to Lady Vengeance.
I thought it started of very well, but gradually went down hill and ended up with a most dissatisfying ending, which only came about after a handful of false endings.

So pretty much the same problem I had with Oldboy.

Viva Maria - 1965 directed by Louis Malle
Louis Malle is a favourite director of mine, and a very overlooked one in my opinion, but strangely enough I have more experience with his little know, even forgotten, works, such as Zazie Dans Le Metro and Viva Maria, than his more acclaimed features such as the Oscar nominated Atlantic City or Au Revoir Les Enfants.
He is such an inventive, amusing, and skilful director that I never tire of watching his films, and while Viva Maria is no masterpiece, especially compared to his other films like Le Feu Follet, it still provided me with more entertainment than any other film I watched recently.
Perhaps part of my high rating stems from my liking of the films two stars, Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau. Really a very fun film, with some clever camera tricks from Louis Malle and charming performances from it's stars, I'd highly recommend it.

The Colour Of Pomegranates - 1968 directed by Sergei Parajanov
Review can be found here!

Women On The Verge of Nervous Breakdown - 1988 directed by Pedro Almodovar.
My first Almodovar film and I'll admit I'm already hooked, I can't wait to see more of his work. Review will be up shortly.

Waltz With Bashir - 2008 directed by Ari Folman.
One of the most visually striking animations I've ever seen, and one of the most brutally shocking. I'd rank it alongside the excellent Persepolis.
This one was a real pleasant surprise, of course I was expecting something good, but the sheer level of it's greatness came as a bit of a shock.
The entire approach towards the films subject was very unexpected and personal, as it was all based around real events and experiences related by men who had experienced the war at first hand. Truly one of the greatest films of it's kind.

Talk To Her - 2002 directed by Pedro Almodovar
After liking the previous Almodovar so much, I immediately got hold of this film, which happens to be one of his most acclaimed works.
It was certainly of a far more serious nature than the previous one I watched, but I liked it nonetheless, in fact I thought it was even better.
Almodovar is rising fast on my list of favourite directors, and I can't wait to watch All About My Mother next.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover - 1989 directed by Peter Greenway
Review can be found here!

The Guard - 2011 directed by John Michael McDonagh
A severe disappointment. I was really looking froward to this film for a number of reasons, it is directed by the brother of the director of In Bruges, which I loved, it was filmed around where I now live, and it starred Brendan Gleeson who is a favourite actor of mine.
But what I got was a decidedly average film, that was made in an uninspiring fashion, contained only a handful of laughs, and failed to put to use all the various elements in introduces over the course of the film. Some aspects were so overdone that I was annoyed to see them used in this film, such as the philosophical gangsters.
But on the whole it isn't an awful film, it just completely failed to live up to my expectations.

Perrier's Bounty - 2009 directed by Ian Fitzgibbon
For this film however my expectations weren't quite as high yet I still found it suffered from many of the problems that crippled The Guard.
It seemed to me like an attempt at an Irish Guy Ritchie film, and as I'm not a fan of Ricthie's films, this film just didn't work for me.
It was mainly marred by a ridiculous script, which was as sure of it's own hilarity as it was contrived and at times just plain idiotic.
Not a film I'd recommend, even thought I did enjoy it quite a bit, but this was almost entirely due to the cast, which included Cillian Murphy, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Cunningham.

Drowning By Numbers - 1988 directed by Peter Greenaway

Another stroke of complete genius from one of my new favourite directors.

 The Belly Of An Architect - 1987 directed by Peter Greenaway
And yet another...

The Draughstman's Contract - 1982 directed by Peter Greenaway.
...and another

A Zed And Two Noughts (Z00) -1986 directed by Peter Greenaway
...and one more.

The Baby Of Macon - 1993 directed by Peter Greenaway

This film however is the most divisive of Greenaway's career, as well as being the most hard to obtain.
It may be my least favourite of his so far, but I will admit that there is something great about this film, it's just hard to say exactly what.
I really didn't understand all of it though, and feel it deserves another viewing, where I will be able to look past the more controversial aspects of it and find the deeper meaning.

I'll probably end up writing a lengthy Greenaway centred post when I see a few more of his films.

The Butcher Boy - 1997 directed by Neil Jordan

An Irish masterpiece.
It's hard to put into words exactly what makes this one so great, but it's a tale of the descent into madness of a young boy growing up in Ireland and his family disintegrates around him. It is presented in a darkly humorous way, even thought some of the content is rather disturbing.
Neil Jordan touches on an abundance of themes here while remaining strongly Irish, it is possibly his most underrated film. The main performance by Eamonn Owens is incredible, better than many adults performances I've seen, and the film never uses it darkly comic tone. The supporting cast are of course excellent and full of familiar faces and the directing is full of interesting flourishes, some grander than other.
Ultimately it's one of the finest Irish films you'll ever see, so I'd highly recommend it. 

Confessions of A Dangerous Mind - 2002 directed by George Clooney

I'm a big fan of Charlie Kaufman and was interested on seeing Clooney's work behind the camera, so I'm glad I eventually got around to this film. However as great as the script, Clooney's directing, and Sam Rockwell's performance are, it never really breaks into great film territory, instead saying in a rather familiar area and bringing to mind many other films like it.
It's a shame because it had the potential to be something really great, but ultimately it just felt a bit to safe and toned down.
However there is plenty to say in it's favour and I'd still strongly recommend it.

The Way - 2011 directed by Emilio Estevez

This film was another disappointment. Martin Sheen is a favourite of mine and the story, as well as the whole real life father-son thing between Sheen and Estevez, intrigued me.
However this has the be the single most cliched and stereotyped film of all those mentioned on the list. The film is well made, and the performances are all good (with the exception of the Scot pretending to be an Irishman, what the hell was that?)
The story was just too diluted, too cliched to be anything more than a slight passing entertainment. It seems a shame to miss such an opportunity as this, but the intense stereotyping of Europeans in this film really was laughable. The characters were also rather unlike able and the whole film just felt vastly disappointing, especially considering the wonderful reviews it received.

Midnight In Paris - 2011 directed by Woody Allen
Hailed by many as Woody Allen's return to form, I was intrigued to see this film as I'm a fan of Woody's earlier work but have been disappointed by most of his films of the last decade or so.

 However the presence of Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard, two actors I don't care for much, and the obviously highly romanticised view of Paris did make me doubt whether I'd like the film.

Fortunately though, Owen Wilson has never been better or should I say less unlikeable and Marion Cotillard was fine enough, of course Paris was romanticised enormously, which is something I usually dislike, but I was willing to look past that due to the charming story (that is something I'm sure everyone has dreamt about at some point in their life).

Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse - 1991 directed by Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola
I recently decided to fully explore Apocalypse Now again, after not being very impressed the first time around.
This documentary about the making of the film is simply one of the best of it's kind. Essential viewing for both fans of the film, and aspiring directors.

Apocalypse Now - 1979 directed by Francis Ford Coppola

I liked it a lot more this time around. I'm currently working on a rather lengthy analysis of it, so I won't say anymore here.

Apocalypse Now Redux - 2001 directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Slightly inferior to the original cut in my opinion, but Redux is still a great film in it's own right.

Submarine - 2011 directed by Richard Ayoade
After the intense atmosphere of Apocalypse Now (over 5 hours of it in fact) I felt like watching something a bit more whimsical. Submarine was certainly a good choice as it's a fine little indie romantic comedy. The performances were good but the film ultimately suffered from it's stylistic excesses. Still and interesting work that does manage to put a well worn storyline to good use.

Lost In La Mancha - 2002 directed by Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe
After being very impressed with the making of documentary about Apocalypse Now, I decided to check out another similar film.
Lost In la Mancha is about Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to bring the wonderful Don Quixote to screen.
It's a very entertaining look at the production, which runs up against pretty much every problem one could imagine, and yet it is tinged with sadness throughout.
Gilliam ultimately never completed the film and the subject matter remains unfilmed to date.

 Revanche - 2008 directed by Gotz Spielmann
I'd heard great things about this Austrian Oscar nominee, but I have to admit I thought it was rather disappointing.
The style of filmmaking reminded me very much of Michael Haneke's work, and I while I appreciated the originality of the storyline, I still though it was rather contrived at times.
On the whole this is one of those films that didn't really have any major flaws, but just didn't make much of an impact on me.

All About My Mother - 1999 directed by Pedro Almodovar
Now I'm officially an Almodovar fan. All About My Mother was a brilliant film, taking you places you'd never expect and breaking a multitude of taboo's in the process.
This is the most  tragic work I've seen from Almodovar so far, but it was not without it's humour as well as an underlying message of hope and redemption. And this is what I liked so much about it, many films deal with tragic and disturbing material, yet only very few of them handle it in such a delicate and respectful manner as this one does.
Very hihgly recommended!

Teorema - 1968 directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
The first Pasolini film I've seen so far, I'll admit I was not eager to explore his work, mainly because of the reputation he has acquired due to his controversial film Salo: 120 Days of Sodom.
However I liked this film. It didn't fully work in my opinion, but it was still quite unlike anything I'd ever seen before, and I appreciate that in a film.
Taken on the surface value, the film is ludicrously bland, however it's the important symbolic and spiritual meaning that make the film of interest. Recommended to those interested in European Art films, if not you may not care for it much.

 Route Irish - 2010 directed by Ken Loach
Ken Loach is one of my favourite directors so naturally I was excited to hear that he had released a new feature. But little came of it, it received a fair amount of acclaim at Cannes last year, and then vanished. I have not seen it mentioned much since and it was only released on DVD a few months ago.
But I'm glad I finally got around to watching it, even if the tepid reaction from some had me uncertain about what to expect. I liked it a lot though, in fact I'd say it's the best film about the war in Iraq that I've seen so far, even if it deals with the subject in an indirect manner. It's a film that builds much momentum before reaching an explosive and tragic climax that I won't forget for some time.
As always Loach has worked his own strong political views into the film, which will be off putting for many people, but I tend to agree with his opinions so I didn't find this too problematic, even if he was heavy handed at times.

That's all the backlog taken care of, now hopefully I'lle be able to post more regularly and read some of your posts as well!

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