Monday, 4 July 2011

48 Films in three months and no time to write up my full impressions.

This three month period happens to feature a disproportionate amount of excellent films or near masterpieces, which has made it more difficult than ever to get full write-ups, as they all deserve so much more time and thought than I can afford them. This disproportionate quality comes for a number of reasons. Pretty much the whole of April was taken up with watching Film4’s Films for Life series where I caught up with some phenomenal, highly regarded features that have in the past eluded me. This inevitably brings a few let downs, but on the whole, I have had a fantastic time taking in these many cinematic gems. Add to this, the Kubrick Project at, which consists of some great contributions, urging me to catch up on some missed Kubrick masterpieces. Further still, my A Clockwork Orange contribution not only meant that I watched this important piece of cinema history, but I had to dig pretty deep and got to put myself back somewhere near academic mode, ready for beginning my MA in September.

Rather than simply straight up listing all the films in order of preference, I have split them up into a few different categories. Mainly because I often have films that haven’t lived up to high hopes, sitting alongside films that are just plain bad; this doesn’t quite seem right. The categories should be pretty clear below. Within each category they are ordered in preference and the ones in bold are new releases I saw in the cinema.

I have written notes on all films, but the reason none of the posts have gone up previously is because I just don’t have time to make the notes more readable, as opposed to a typed equivalent of verbal diarrhoea that I blurt from my head into iPhone’s notes function as the credits are rolling, or when I go to bed that night. It was a case of all or nothing; and seeing as all was never going to happen, nothing it was.

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
La Règle du Jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939)
The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick)
Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

The Messenger (Oren Moverman, 2009)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)
Late Spring (Yasujirô Ozu, 1949)
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
The Adjustment Bureau (George Nolfi, 2011)
Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)
Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
My Neighbour Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
Mammuth (Gustave de Kervern, Benoît Delépine, 2010)
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)
Day for Night (François Truffaut, 1973)
Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
The Loved Ones (Sean Byrne, 2009)
Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011)
The Stuff (Larry Cohen, 1985)
Sabrina (Billy Wilder, 1954)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)

Pretty good
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon, 1985)
The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
Thor (Kenneth Branagh, 2011)
The square (Nash Edgerton, 2008)
Planet of the apes (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-sec (Luc Besson, 2010) Tooth Fairy (Michael Lembeck, 2010)
Little Fish (Rowan Woods, 2005)
X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughan, 2011)
Get Him to the Greek (Nicholas Stoller, 2010)
Piña 3D (Wim Wenders, 2011)
Insidious (James Wan, 2010)

By no means terrible, but certainly underwhelmed somewhat
Blood Simple (The Coen Brothers - Joel to be precise, 1984)
A Serious Man (The Coen Brothers, 2009)
Woyzcech (Werner Herzog, 1979)
Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987)
Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
24: Redemption (Jon cassar, 2008)

Just plain bad
Vicky christena Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)
Rio (Carlos Saldanha, 2011)
Kiss the girls (Gary Fleder, 1997)
Hop (Tim Hill, 2011)


  1. You need to justify your dislike towards VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and your ever-so-slighlty more positive opinion of 24:REDEMPTION. Now I might be wrong sometimes but the made-for-tv 24 film is ni-way better than VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA!

  2. Hi Simon, sorry for the late reply. the reason is basically down to a gigantic missed opportunity.
    The premise of Vicky Cristina Barcelona is something that should be a thought provoking meditation on art and life. What is a correct way to live? Why are dominant notions of normality such a default and philistines/fully immersed members of the apathy stricken mainstream (what Debord termed the society of the spectacle - here represented by Vicky's fella) should be able to dismiss Cristina's search for different ways to live and construct meaning.
    Unlike You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, in which I hated every character, I actually liked - or was at least interested in the motivations of - all the characters in this. But the same drab, plodding, lifeless, over saturated, monotone, unprovocative filmmaing technique kills anything the characters could have achieved. This may as well have been an ITV drama for the level of ambition in its expression. This completely contradicts the notions of art and alternative expression of life that the film is propagating.
    The part of the film that I actively despise, is that lazy, irritating, pointless, voice-over. It's nobody's ill judged internal dialogue as it is in the great noir films or many other formats. It's just REALLY lazy exposition, not trusting the filmmaking to tell you what is going on, which I guess is because he is incapable of doing that; incapable of any kind of subtlety that might allude to what is happening, instead he has to ram every motivation down your throat by this meaningless voice-over.
    Had it not been for Penelope Cruz's admittedly amazing performance (would still much rather see her in an Almodovar though), Javier Bardem's staggering swarveness and the fact that Scarlett Johanson is ridiculously hot, then it would have been an altogether waste of an evening.
    I really need to watch Manhatten, or maybe this new Paris film, but something needs to prove Woody Allen to me, because at the minute all he does for me in his films is illustrate that he can have some great ideas, think up some intriguing characters and then just use these ideas to show me that he has absolutely no soul.