Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Superman Returns

Superman, the last surviving alien from the planet Krypton with god-like powers, has left the city of Metropolis that he has protected for decades to return to the last known whereabouts of his destroyed planet. Upon discovering nothing to be found where his planet used to be, he returns back to Earth, and re-assumes his alter ego of Clark Kent, a mild-mannered journalist for The Daily Planet. He attempts to rebuild his relationship with Pulitzer-prize winning co-journo Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), but is annoyed to discover that not only is she engaged to their boss' nephew (James Marsden), but she has a son, Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu). Meanwhile, having recently been released from prison, Superman's former nemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is busy hatching a plan involving crystals found in Supe's mysterious Fortress of Solitude.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gimme Shelter

I was quite looking forward to this film. Although I'm not a massive Rolling Stones fan, I can often be found listening to their greatest hits, amongst which there are many songs I'm rather partial to, in particular Paint It Black, You Can't Always Get What You Want and Honky Tonk Women, and I haven't heard too many of their songs that I've particularly disliked. Also, the only music documentary I'd seen prior to this was Anvil, which is pretty good if you ask me. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Shining

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a writer suffering from writer's block. He takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, deep in the Colorado Rockies, where he will stay for five months with just his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son, Jake (Danny Lloyd). Whilst at the hotel, all three members of the Torrance family experience otherworldly visions that slowly send Jack insane. Meanwhile, Danny's 'gift' of the shining - the ability to see and hear things that haven't happened yet or that happened a long time ago - grows stronger.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht

As opening shots go, footage of dead, decomposed babies and children, their faces contorted into richtuses of terror and howls of pain is probably one of the clearest projections for the tone of the ensuing film that I've ever come across. Couple this with slow motion shots of bats flying in the dark (used repeatedly throughout the entire film whenever director Werner Herzog takes his fancy, regardless of it's relevance to the plot) and a woman (Isabelle Adjani) waking up screaming to said bat flying around her window and you're left with no uncertainty that this isn't quite your average vampire film.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Top 5... Dinosaur Movies

Dinosaurs! It's no surprise to anyone that I love me some prehistoric beasties. I can probably trace my love of dinosaurs back to the child I've never really stopped being, but there's something about the fact that these giant, terrifying creatures once ruled the very land we walk upon that captures my imagination. Sadly, dinosaurs have become somewhat scarce out in the real world in recent millenia, so the best place to see them at their finest is in the movies. This list is probably one of my least surprising, especially the top 2, as they're films I rarely go a day without mentioning, but the list was an inevitable one, and I was at a loss for what else to do this week, so here it is:

5. Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
I think the Ice Age movies have been cruelly ignored, deemed 'lesser animation,' and basically dismissed by many people who haven't seen them. Whilst they're certainly nowhere near as good as most of Pixar's output (but then, what is?), the Ice Ages are actually worth your time. Part three, The Dawn of the Dinosaurs, though not technically historically accurate, is probably my favourite of the bunch (I've not seen part four, Continental Drift, yet), and whilst including dinosaurs probably didn't hurt it's cause, the main reason I like it most is Simon Pegg's deranged one-eyed ferret Buck. I'd also like to use this opportunity to complain about Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. At one point, the herd (comprised of Ray Romano's Manny the mammoth, John Leguizamo's Sid the sloth, Denis Leary's Diego the sabre-tooth tiger, Josh Peck and Seann William Scott's possums Eddie and Crash and Queen Latifah's Ellie the mammoth-who-thinks-she's-a-possum) encounters an expanse littered with erupting geysers. Manny wants to cross, but Diego warns him that "It's a minefield out there!" The one part of this film's suspension of disbelief - of which quite a lot is required - that I just cannot overcome is how exactly does Diego know what a minefield is? Small gripe, I know, but it never stops annoying me whenever the film is on TV.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hell Is For Heroes

1944, Montigny, France. At a rest area near the Siegfreid Line, Sergeant Larkin (Harry Guardino) is desperately trying to find a pen amongst his small band of men. Everyone is either using theirs, sees no need for one, sells dodgy ones or are in a similar state of searching for a writing implement. This scene, which does a good job of introducing the main characters and their various skills, roles and personalities, is one of very few scenes that sets it apart from essentially every other war film ever made.

Monday, 22 October 2012

North By Northwest

This is the last review I've got left unposted from the recent reviewing competition at the Lamb, I hope you enjoy it.

Is it really possible for North by Northwest to live up to its hype? It’s rare to find a Top Films list deprived of its inclusion, it features scenes that have become the stuff of legend, that also tend to top Best Scene lists, and it’s one of the greatest movies ever made by one of the greatest directors who ever lived.

If you haven’t seen it yet, then I strongly advise you to stop reading anything about it and go and watch it now, for North by Northwest is truly a tremendous film that is best enjoyed with as little outside knowledge as possible. When Cary Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill quips shortly after being kidnapped into the back of a car, “Don’t tell me where we’re going, surprise me,” this is not merely Hitchcock’s intentions for Thornhill, but for all of us watching as well.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Top 5... Time Travel Films

After my recent cinematic adventures with Looper, this list was going to be my Top 5... Fainting Scenes, however I couldn't think of any good ones outside of Sleepy Hollow. So, to celebrate Looper and my finally remaining conscious throughout its entirety, here's my Top 5... Time Travel Films. Also, apologies for posting a day late, I wanted to sort out my thoughts on Looper to see if it would be on the list, and I was out last night, sorry about that.

Time travel in films has always had one major problem - paradoxes. To my knowledge, no film or franchise has successfully made an entirely plausible and plot-hole-free time travel story. They either travel through parallel universes in ways they shouldn't be able to (Back to the Future Part II), ignore ways in which the present/future would change because of events in the past/present (Deja Vu), or conveniently forget the existence of the time travel device when it could be incredibly useful elsewhere (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). This is generally the most important aspect I look for in a good time travel film, although occasionally sheer entertainment value can often outweigh this.

Friday, 19 October 2012


Regular readers will know I've had a tumultuous relationship with Looper, the third film from writer/director Rian Johnson. I loved Brick, and even wrote a post expressing my excitement and fears for the upcoming film, but alas when I went to see the film the first time around I passed out half an hour in, for reasons as yet undetermined. There's an entire team of doctors and medical students currently scratching each others heads just trying to work out what - or rather, how many things - are wrong with me. But failing to fully see the film first time around gave me an opportunity to see The Brothers Bloom, Johnson's second film, before watching the rest of his third. I have now managed to successfully see the entire film, in one sitting, having paid for a total of four cinema tickets (me + girlfriend first time around, me + friend second time around, Aisha didn't want to see it again). And, personally, I think it was worth it.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Top Gun

There are some films out there that seem to be universally adored, so much so that were someone to come along and start slagging them off they'd automatically be written off as hipsterring, pretending not to like something incredibly popular to appear cool or ironic. Now, I'm fairly sure I'm not a hipster, even though I ride a bike and own a scarf (that I very rarely wear, and even then when its freezing), but I just can't get behind Top Gun, a film that as far as I can tell everyone else seems to generally love.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Magnificent Seven

A small farming community is being terrorised by a band of thieves and murderers, led by the charismatic but ruthless Calvera (Eli Wallach, previously only known to my girlfriend as the elderly neighbour in The Holiday). He and his gang steal almost everything worth taking from the villagers, leaving them just enough to carry on farming for another year, at which point Calvera will return and repeat the process over again. Sick of this injustice, three villagers head to the nearest saloon and recruit someone to either train or protect them, finding Yul Brynner's Chris as the perfect fit for the role after he volunteers for something that could get him killed, and offers no reward - a situation very similar to that of defending the village. Chris then goes about assembling a team - you can probably guess how many - of similarly minded men based on Chris' previous dealings with them or their reputations. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Holy Smoke

Hurrah, another Jane Campion film. I can't say I was much of a fan of The Piano, so I wasn't much looking forward to this, the next available film featuring Kate Winslet (Hideous Kinky and Faeries are as yet out of my reach).

Winslet plays Ruth, a young Australian girl (with a distinctly English accent) who has travelled to India to find herself. As well as finding that, she discovers and becomes willingly entangled in a mass marriage/suicide cult, and her understandably concerned family would rather she just came home. After Ruth's mother (Julie Hamilton) manages to persuade her daughter to come back to Sydney with her, utilising a fake illness for her father and a very real asthma attack for her mother, the family bring in P. J. Waters (Harvey Keitel), a professional 'exit counsellor,' an expert at convincing people to give up their new found cultish beliefs and return to their previous lives.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Guaranteed Happiness: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a film I've loved since the fist time I watched it, and always proves to be an enjoyable experience, yet I fear that from now on I won't enjoy it any more, because I will have horrific, Vietnam-style flashbacks to my latest viewing, or rather the repercussions from it. You see, I volunteered to appear on The Lamb's weekly podcast, The Lambcast, for their Movie Of The Month segment, and I was overjoyed to discover that said movie was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Granted, I may have voted 7 or 8 times for it and hoped that one of the primaries would drop out so I could discuss such a great film with some similarly-minded individuals, so I can't say I was overly surprised when it won. However, this was my first ever podcast (recorded last Sunday), and I was so horrifically bad in it that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to enjoy said film again. The episode has now dropped, and is available on iTunes (search Lambcast in podcasts) or via this link. I urge you to listen to it more for the scintillating discussion between Dan Heaton, Justin Gott, Kristen Lopez and Nick Jobe  than for my dismal contribution, however if I've ever wronged you in the past (a list longer than I'd like), then you may also enjoy the podcast, for different reasons. If you could just ignore my horribly grating, nasally drone whenever it aggravates your eardrums and pretend instead it was just a four-way chat then I'd appreciate it.

Maybe it was because I'm a first timer and everyone else there seemed far more experienced at it than I, probably because they are and some of them regularly hold podcasts of their own, or maybe it's that I'm genuinely not very good at talking about films with real live actual people without using a keyboard (it doesn't happen very often), but I'd like to issue an apology to Dan, Justin, Kristen and Nick for lowering the quality of the podcast, and for relentlessly interrupting and talking over them when I had nothing very interesting to say. I was nervous, and it's never been more abundantly clear that when talking about films, I truly do not know what I'm talking about. Also, I hate public speaking, so signing up for a podcast was probably a pretty dumb thing to do. Don't worry, I won't do it again.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Hitchcock, now with added sound! Yes, we've moved on from Hitch's silent pictures (until I can find the ones I've had to skip) and onto his first to use audible dialogue, as well as the first I've seen that doesn't appear to have been filmed entirely on a set, although knowing the director built the entire apartment block set of Rear Window inside a studio, you never can tell with Hitchcock.

Blackmail focuses on a young couple, John Longden's Frank, a Scotland Yard detective, and Anny Ondra (yep, her again) as Alice, the daughter of a shop owner. Alice has become bored of Frank's obsession with his career, and has eyes for another man, the irrationally posh artist Mr. Crewe (Cyril Ritchard). Crewe invites Alice back to his studio apartment one evening, and things don't necessarily plan out how either of them would have expected, so Frank gets involved to try and help Alice out of the sticky situation she finds herself in.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Top 5... Films Aisha Loves That I Don't Hate

 I've been lacking inspiration for a Top 5 this week, with the best I could come up with being Hugh Jackman films, as its his birthday, but I've missed too many of his films for it to be a very conclusive list. So, in my desperation, I turned to my girlfriend, something I only ever do in the direst of situations film-wise. I've discussed her frankly laughable taste of films in passing before, but I believe I may have been unnecessarily harsh on some of the films she likes, so here's my Top 5 list of the films she loves that I don't necessarily hate. Apologies for any extravagant soppiness, it won't happen again. And yes, Aisha got to choose the pictures.

5. Marley and Me
Now, I wouldn't like this film if I were to watch it on my own, but at present it's Aisha's favourite film, and it makes me happy to see her happy, so technically I must like it. But it can't be any higher than number 5 on this list because a) it's a terrible film, and b) she cannot watch it without almost drowning in the flood of dears she seeps towards the end. For you see, Aisha is a dog-person (I'm a no-animals-person, at best a fish-person), so any film featuring dogs, especially [spoiler] the dying of a pet dog, something she has lived through, result in an unquantifiable amount of sadness. But guess who's around with a shoulder to cry on? That'd be me. Which is another reason I don't hate the film, it's made us closer as a couple.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Songs From The Second Floor

I never knew there were quite so many films out there without plots, and how highly regarded some of them were. I'd heard of Bunuel's surrealist so-called 'masterpieces', though I'm not a fan of them myself, and given their notoriety it was no surprise to find them on the List, but this cine-poem, based on the works of Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo and directed by Swede Roy Andersson, is a film of which I've never heard, and finding it voted the 213th greatest film of all time by Empire readers came as something of a surprise.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Brothers Bloom

There is one benefit to my passing out during Looper last weekend, I've now managed to see director Rian Johnson's second feature before seeing all of his third. It's streaming on LoveFilm at the moment, so if you're a member, go forth and watch it now, post haste. All being well, I'll be seeing Looper before this time next week, and next Sunday should see my review.

The Brothers Bloom seems on the surface to be far more straightforward than the high-school-noir Brick and time-travel-brain-twister Looper, but in reality its just as subversive as those two. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody are brothers Stephen and Bloom, two con men who have been running scams since their early teens. Stephen (Ruffalo) is the brains of the outfit, and Bloom (Brody) always takes the leading role in the con. Roughly twenty five years after their first con, Bloom wants to quit, but Stephen ropes him in to one last job, conning Rachel Weisz's ludicrously wealthy yet decidedly eccentric heiress Penelope from some money she'd probably never miss. Along with their near-mute accomplice Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), the brothers set out to dupe Penelope from her riches, but who exactly is the victim in this game?

Red Surf

Well, we're still in George Clooney's pre-E.R. days, so even if this film has a few more recognisable faces in some of the main roles, the fact that a then-no-name Clooney headlines this film should be some clue of how terrible it is. There's still a few films to go before I get to From Dusk Til Dawn, the first film on his list that I know I like, so my hopes aren't high for the films inbetween, but hopefully they'll be better than this one.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Top 5 Bond Actors

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Bond film, Dr. No. Also, I reviewed Casino Royale earlier this week (undeservedly voted the 56th greatest film of all time by Empire readers in 2008), and Skyfall, the 23rd official Bond film, is released soon, so this seemed to be the perfect time to do a Top 5 list related to Bond in some way. As much as I would have liked to have done a comprehensive list of my five favourite Bond films, villains, girls, gadgets, cars, locations, henchmen, lairs, guns and kills, I'm afraid I don't know nearly enough about the series to do that, seeing as I've seen quite a few of the films only once, and many of them I can't remember. I do know that my favourite film is Goldfinger, which also features my favourite henchman, Oddjob. Scaramanga is probably the best villain I can remember, or perhaps Max Zorin, but that's mainly for the actors playing them. So instead of any of those lists, I've compiled my top 5 of the actors who have portrayed Bond onscreen in the main series (I've not seen the 1967 David Niven-starring Casino Royale). Seeing as there's only six actors currently in the series, this was a pretty straightforward list to compile.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


There are some films on the List that I've no idea when I'll get to them. These films fall into three categories - the ones I absolutely adore but have no clue how I'll even start writing about them, the ones I desperately do not want to watch (but am too much of an anal completist to ignore) and the really long ones. This four-hour-plus cut of Hamlet obviously falls into the latter, but fortunately for me, my girlfriend opted for Kate Winslet as her Film-Maker of choice, and seeing as I've reached that point in Winslet's career in which she appeared in Hamlet as Ophelia, I can cross off Kenneth Branagh's opus from the Empire 5-Star 500. As for the unspeakable films I don't want to see, whenever LoveFilm drop Salo through my letterbox it shall not be a good day, though I could pull an In The Realm Of The Senses and bottle it when I've taken as much as I can stand.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Casino Royale

With the imminent release of Daniel Craig's third outing as James Bond, Sam Mendes' Skyfall (UK release October 26th), it seems like the perfect time to cross the film ranked 56th greatest film of all time by Empire readers a few years ago, Craig's first Bond outing, Casino Royale.

Now, if you ask me, #56 is pretty high up, especially when you consider that Goldfinger, my favourite Bond movie, is 110 places lower at #166, and no other Bond movies made it onto that list (You Only Live Twice appears in the Empire 5-star 500). Even if you take into account Casino Royale's proximity to the release of the list, made just two years later, it's still pretty damn high. Apparently, it's better than Lawrence of Arabia, Annie Hall, 12 Angry Men, The Great Escape and literally hundreds of other films that, in my opinion, are far superior. But then I didn't compile the list (though I did vote on it, and not for this film), so who am I to voice the opinions of others?

1001 Additions

So, the new 1001 book is out, and thanks to Joachim over at Listology, here's the new additions:

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Manxman

Pete Quillam (Carl Brisson from The Ring) is a penniless fisherman. His best friend, Philip Christian (Malcolm Keen), is a hot-shot lawyer. The two have been inseparable since birth, being raised as essentially brothers despite their wildly different lifestyles. They've even found a way to combine their various career paths, with Philip pushing through a petition that will prevent steam trawlers from encroaching on the fishermen's haul, but when they meet Kate Cregeen (Anny Ondra), the barmaid daughter of the local pub The Manx Fairy, they both instantly fall for her. Pete, the more headstrong and forward of the pair, is the first to make a move, so the loyal Philip hides his feelings for the sake of his pal. But when Pete heads to Africa to make his fortune to win over Kate's father (Randle Ayrton), things get complicated when Philip is asked to look after Kate in his absence. 

October 2012 Update

Farewell September, we hardly knew ye, and hello to the frankly awful weather of October. September was a bumper month blog-wise, as I set myself the challenge of posting every god damn day, and I'm pleased to say I achieved this goal, even if four of the posts were written during August, which I'm allowing because I had two busy weekends away this month. As you may be aware, the four aforementioned pre-written posts were for the LAMB's So You Think You Can Review tournament, in which I came second, and I promise that's the last time I mention it until I post my North By Northwest review, when I get to that stage in my Alfred Hitchcock run through.