Friday, 31 August 2012

Blood Simple

Blood Simple, the directorial/writing debut of the Coen brothers Joel and Ethan, is a sticky, sweaty, clammy picture about deceit and confusion, set in the heart of Texas. Marty (Dan Hedaya) runs a bar, and is the boss of Ray (John Getz) and Meurice (Samm-Art Williams). Distrustful of his wife Abby (Frances McDormand), Dan has hired private investigator Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) to look into what she does with her time. It transpires that Abby is sleeping with Ray, so Marty hires Loren to kill them both whilst he is away on a fishing trip. What with this being a Coen film, things don't necessarily go to plan, but it is the direction the events took, and the motives involved that I found both interesting and compelling.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Somebody Up There Likes Me

After a couple of small TV roles and an uncredited appearance in 1953's Girl On the Run (I haven't found it yet, but I will) Steve McQueen's second film role, again uncredited, was in this Paul Newman boxing film that I'd previously never heard of and can kind of understand why. It's not that it's a terrible film, it's just thoroughly underwhelming, and tells a familiar story in a genre that has since far superseded it. To start with, it's a boxing movie where the lead character is Italian and called Rocky Barbella (Newman). If that's not a coincidence I'll be shocked.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Return to Horror High

Given the cinematic journey I've chosen to peruse, I don't often get to watch truly terrible films. Sure, there are some on the 1001 List that I'm not necessarily a fan of, but they tend to have some kind of artistic merit or historical value that justifies their position. I also tend to make an effort to avoid films I think are likely to be awful, as I probably won't enjoy them, and there are so many other films I'm sure will be better. I think the last awful film I reviewed was Big Trouble in Little China, and that was only because Empire readers inexplicably voted it the 430th greatest film of all time, despite it having almost no redeeming features whatsoever. It was refreshing then, as I begin my exploration through George Clooney's career, to go out with a mate, have a few drinks, plays some Call of Duty and settle in to watch this goddawful slice of tripe.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Top 5 Tony Scott Films

R.I.P. Tony Scott. His death has come as such a surprise that I have little to say about it, other than he will be greatly missed, and I feel he had many more films to make. Here's my tribute to the director.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Ring (1927)

Although this wasn't Hitchcock's first film (he made at least five before this one, although at least one of those in deemed 'lost' [1926's The Mountain Eagle] and another two unfinished [Number 13 and Always Tell Your Wife, from 1922 and 1923 respectively]) The Ring is the earliest one I can get my hands on at present, so my travels through the history of Hitch will have to begin here. Telling the story of an amateur boxer working at a carnival who gets a shot at the big time after he is scouted by a renowned heavyweight, The Ring almost knocked me out for being a Hitchcock film about one of the least Hitchcockian subjects, sport.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Heavenly Creatures

Christchurch, New Zealand, the mid-1950s. Two girls, Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslet) run terrified through the dense forest, the air streaked with their screams and their faces streaked with blood. They burst through the bushes and emerge to the concerned face of a passer-by with the words "It's Mummy! She's terribly hurt!"So begins Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, the true story of two schoolgirls whose problematic home lives forge a bridge between them, a bridge that leads to a fantasy world of princes and princesses, giant butterflies, murder, topiary and unicorns. But when their parents strive to separate the two, the girls hatch a plan to remain together by taking drastic actions.

Friday, 10 August 2012


Part 2 in my Shia LaBoeuf: the Scourge of Cinema double-bill sees him taking on giant, transforming robot aliens as he attempts to save the world using a weird little cube, and cop off with Megan Fox. I've got no historical connection to the Tranformers franchise, as I neither saw the cartoon series or the animated feature from the 80s, and I've never played with any of the toys as a child. So unlike many people, I feel that so far my childhood has been unmolested by Michael Bay, something I was afraid I'd no longer be spared from with his intentions to paint his own brand of ridiculousness onto the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I think now has been fortunately abandoned.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Yep, the questionably necessary fourth Indiana Jones instalment is on the List. And if anyone has any problem with that (like me, for example) then the only place to point the finger of blame is at the public, as the List it appears on is the one voted for by Empire readers. Granted, the film came out in 2008, the year the poll was taken, so many readers who may have only ever seen 10 films would have been forced to put it in their top 10. This also explains the inclusion of Transformers and Juno on the same list, and it's pretty much assured that if the poll were taken again, these films would be unlikely to retain their positions. But the important thing is that the film is on there, and I had to watch it.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Top 5... Films of the Film-Makers I'm Watching

I know what you're thinking: "A Top 5? On a Monday? Madness!" and you're correct. However, this isn't any old Top 5. No, it's a Top 5 that's actually five Top 5s, all of which are likely to change over the next few months. Basically, as regular readers will know I've recently decided to watch all of the films by some of my favourite film-makers, but I thought I'd give you all a taste of my opinions of them before I completely submerge myself. So, below, are my current Top 5 lists of the films of George Clooney, the Coen brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, Steve McQueen and Kate Winslet. I'll re-do each person's list once I've finished all of their films. Chances are, if you're favourite of their films isn't on any of the lists then I haven't watched it yet. Or you're wrong.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Just to let you know, like the rest of the world, I have seen The Dark Knight Rises. I saw it opening night, over two weeks ago, but haven't written a review yet for two reasons: 1, I haven't had time, and 2, I didn't really have anything to say that everyone else hasn't already said. So, I'm not going to review it yet. What I am going to do is wait until it comes out on DVD, buy it, watch it again, and then review it. Simple. Hopefully by then everyone will be over the inundation of Batman reviews. In the meantime, here's my quick thoughts on the film:

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Three mixed race aboriginal girls - fourteen year old Molly Craig (Everlyn Sampi), her younger sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury) and their cousing Gracie (Laura Monaghan) are taken from their home in the Australian outback and forced to train as serving staff at a settlement 1200 miles away. The three manage to escape, and set out to trek the arduous journey back home, but are being hunted by the camp's tracker (David Gulpilil) and the government's Chief Protector of Aboriginees, Mr. A. O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh).

Friday, 3 August 2012

Guaranteed Happiness: Wall-E

Welcome to the first post in my new semi-regular feature, Guaranteed Happiness. I've discovered that a lot of the films I've watched recently haven't necessarily dealt with very happy subjects, and this has been getting me down a bit. Now and then, I'd quite like to watch a happy film, or one that's uplifting and ensures that I'll have a big stupid grin on my face for at least 80% of it, and definitely at the end. After all, I'd much rather write about a film I'm passionate about, and I tend to have more to say about films that make me smile than those that make me suicidal. Praise should be aimed squarely between the shoulders of my girlfriend then, for sticking on Pixar's gem Wall-E when I was in a decidedly cranky mood a little while ago. The aim was for me to sit down and write some posts, which to be honest I was in no mood to do after a fairly crappy day at work and having to shell out over a considerable amount of cash to fix my bike, yet as soon as the film began all thoughts of blogging and even glancing at my laptop screen were out the window.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Descendants

I've had The Descendants, currently the only Blu-Ray I own, sat on my shelf for a few weeks now, ever since I won it from the Empire Podcast, by answering a question about E.R., even though I've never seen a single episode. All praise IMDb. I'm something of a fan of Alexander Payne, and both Sideways and Election are just wonderful, so I'd been looking forward to sitting down and watching this, especially with all the Oscar buzz it had garnered earlier this year. The Descendants was nominated for five awards in all, including Best Picture, Director, Editing and Actor, and eventually won for Adapted Screenplay.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Life Vs. Film Manifesto

Hello everyone, I'm back from a short hiatus of blogging. I've spent some time sorting some stuff out, predominantly in my head, and am now ready and able to watch films and write about them, hopefully in a slightly more concise and coherent way than I used to.