31 December 2013

Santa Claus: The Movie, 1985

Watched on Wednesday January 1, 2014.

December 31, 2013 at 02:04PM

Good Hair, 2009 - ★★★★

Wow, this is great. There's nothing that special about the documentary but it's both entertaining and fascinating, especially if like me, you had no idea about the world of black hair.

December 31, 2013 at 11:52AM

30 December 2013

The Abominable Snowman, 1957 - ★★★

A great example of "less is more", the whole film looks fantastic and slowly builds the tension to be a good adventure rather than the horror I was expecting.

December 30, 2013 at 10:44AM

Zoolander, 2001 - ★★★

Completely stupid but in a really good way and less ridiculous than Cars 2 (which I watched earlier in the day).

December 30, 2013 at 10:32AM

The Hole, 2009 - ★★★½

This is really quite terrifying, especially considering the target under 18 audience. It also feels like a great film from the 80s and it's timelessness will mean it will still be great in years to come.

December 30, 2013 at 12:08AM

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004 - ★★★★

I'm not someone who has watched Anchorman several times so I was surprised to find that I knew nearly all of the lines and still found them very funny.

December 29, 2013 at 11:55PM

29 December 2013

The Curse of Frankenstein, 1957 - ★★★★

I've been enjoying the series of Hammer films on BBC2 over Christmas and this has probably been the best so far. Christopher Lee's creature is suitably creepy and the whole story is told with a sense of familiarity but also offering up something new.

December 29, 2013 at 10:31PM

Everything Must Go, 2010 - ★★★½

Nice to see Ferrell in a dramatic role and this is good enough to keep an eye out for whatever writer-director Dan Rush does next.

December 29, 2013 at 07:05PM

The Mummy, 1959 - ★★★

Fairly enjoyable but I'd have preferred it without the lengthy Egyptian flashback (which is great on it's own but really slows down the film).

December 29, 2013 at 06:17PM

Cars 2, 2011 - ★½

I suspect there are only two reasons this film exists; Firstly nobody stood up to John Lasseter and said this isn't good enough and secondly to sell merchandise. Considering how often directors are reassigned and stories completely changed at Pixar I don't know how this ended up being made at all.

Cars wasn't Pixar's finest but compared to this it's great. The logic of the car world makes no absolutely no sense here. A Bond pastiche makes no sense to young children who are probably the only people who can overlook the massive flaws. There's little story, no heart and the animation isn't even that great.

December 29, 2013 at 06:13PM

Scrooged, 1988 - ★★★½

Smart and enjoyable but not as great as I remembered from even a few years back.

December 29, 2013 at 11:39AM

28 December 2013

Barney's Version, 2010 - ★★★

I think I should've liked this more than I did. There isn't really anything wrong and it's always great watching Giamatti and Hoffman but this just didn't click for me.

December 28, 2013 at 03:21PM

High Society, 1956 - ★★★

Didn't realise this was a remake of The Philadelphia Story until the familiar plot kicked in. The only reason to watch this version is for the songs so you have to wonder why not just listen to the soundtrack and then watch The Philadelphia Story.

December 28, 2013 at 02:40PM

The Whale, 2013 - ★★

Quite dark and brutal in places which makes it an even odder choice for prime time Christmas scheduling by the BBC. I found it completely unengaging and dull. The actual whale may have looked good but it also felt completely out of place which wasn't helped by blood splattering the lens - one of the most annoying features of gaming which I hope doesn't make it's way over into film.

December 28, 2013 at 10:21AM

The Blood on Satan's Claw, 1971 - ★★★

Unlike other reviewers I enjoyed this more than The Witchfinder General, it was far more engaging and better made. This is the type of film I was expecting to see and great to see one of the sources on inspiration for so many other things.

December 28, 2013 at 10:08AM

27 December 2013

The King of Pigs, 2011 - ★★★★

The fact that I stuck with this film through several technical issues is a good sign of how gripped I was. Any allusions to class war went over my head but the flashback sections dealing with bullying were handled fantastically. It's a shame that the framing structure used to tell the story was quite weak and predictable.

December 27, 2013 at 11:19PM

Horror of Dracula, 1958 - ★★★★

I was expecting this to be hamm(er)y and dated but it's definitely one of the best versions of the Dracula story.

December 27, 2013 at 11:04PM

Patience (After Sebald), 2012 - ★★★

With absolutely no knowledge of Sebald I wasn't really sure what to expect. Not entirely to my taste but I liked Empire describing it as "a literary pop video of monochrome imagery".

December 27, 2013 at 01:25PM

Witchfinder General, 1968 - ★★½

Repetitive and desperately in need of more editing despite the already trim running time. It's ridiculous how much time is spent showing various unexciting chases on horses.

According to Letterboxd I've seen this before and yet I have no memory of it which perhaps says a lot.

December 27, 2013 at 12:59PM

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005 - ★★★★½

An overlooked modern great. They didn't make films like this in 2005 and they still don't.

December 27, 2013 at 12:51PM

26 December 2013

The Spiral Staircase, 1945 - ★★★★

Beautiful cinematography, atmospheric, chilling, tense and less than 90 minutes.

December 26, 2013 at 03:56PM

Jane Eyre, 2011 - ★★½

It doesn't feel that long since I last saw an adaptation of Jane Eyre and perhaps that over familiarity is why I struggled with this version. There doesn't seem to be anything new on offer here and I found the whole thing quite dull. Not even the usually great actors added much and I actually found their accents (good or otherwise) quite distracting.

December 26, 2013 at 01:28PM

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 1987 ★★★

Watched on Friday December 27, 2013.

December 26, 2013 at 11:32AM

The Fox and the Hound, 1981 ★★

Watched on Friday December 27, 2013.

December 26, 2013 at 11:31AM

Fantasia, 1940 ★★★

Watched on Friday December 27, 2013.

December 26, 2013 at 11:30AM

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000 ★★★

Watched on Friday December 27, 2013.

December 26, 2013 at 11:29AM

24 December 2013

White Christmas, 1954 - ★★★½

This didn't have my full attention but I was listening to all of it and it's perhaps more about the songs than anything else.

December 24, 2013 at 01:13PM

Ping Pong, 2012 - ★★★

Fairly conventional documentary but it's also quite interesting and somewhat charming.

December 24, 2013 at 11:25AM

I Am Breathing, 2013 - ★★★½

A moving, honest and well made documentary that celebrates life as much as documenting the final months of a young father's life.

December 24, 2013 at 12:35AM

It's a Wonderful Life, 1946 - ★★★★★

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about It's A Wonderful Life is not just that it stands up year in, year out but that on each viewing I see new things or things in a completely different way than I remembered.

Practically perfect.

December 24, 2013 at 12:25AM

A Letter to Elia, 2010 - ★★★★

It's always great hearing Scorsese speak, even more so when he's talking about great things he loves. I'm not that familiar with Elia Kazan and this film actually reveals more about Scorsese, but not in a bad self centred way.

December 24, 2013 at 12:21AM

23 December 2013

2013: The Ones That Got Away

The year's not over yet but it's time to start thinking about the ones that got away...

(Including things I want to see before the end of the year)

...plus 35 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

October 18, 2013 at 05:00PM

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, 2010 - ★★½

Starts of slightly more engaging than the dated original but it's far too long and I lost interest long before things picked up again in the final hour.

December 23, 2013 at 04:08PM

Hawking, 2013 - ★★★

A solid documentary.

December 23, 2013 at 01:54PM

Futurama: Bender's Game, 2008 - ★★★

Better than the other movies but still a bit of a mess.

December 23, 2013 at 09:55AM

Nebraska, 2013 - ★★★★★

Technical problems meant Wadjda couldn't be shown as planned and this was the replacement. I was slightly reluctant that a film I loved so much wouldn't stand up to a second viewing but it did. Some scenes I loved on the first viewing (such as the cemetery) perhaps didn't seem as good but the film's finale works so well.

December 23, 2013 at 09:35AM

Christmas in a Day, 2013 - ★★★

Disappointing after the excellent "Life" and "Britain", this seems far more traditional and clich├ęd.

December 23, 2013 at 09:22AM

Waking Sleeping Beauty, 2009 - ★★★

Quite interesting but most of the stories have already been told in the recent DVD extras.

December 23, 2013 at 09:18AM

19 December 2013

The Shop Around the Corner, 1940 - ★★★★★

A complete joy, it's hard to imagine how anyone could dislike this film. More than 70 years later, it still seems fresh and embarrasses most modern romantic comedies which share the ideas but lack the charm, warmth and heart portrayed here.

I'm now also curious to see You've Got Mail which I imagine is terrible but really shouldn't be.

December 19, 2013 at 01:15PM

16 December 2013

Lion's Den, 2008 - ★★★½

There are some tender moments but it's mostly a harsh journey so it was a relief to find out that this wasn't based on a true story (although I'm sure such cases exist). I didn't know at the time of watching but using real prisons and prisoners added a level of authenticity for a great central performance.

December 16, 2013 at 01:04PM

14 December 2013

Battle Los Angeles, 2011 - ★★

I fear in the future that major studios will use computer software to create films without the need for pesky writers or directors. Battle LA feels like the result of algorithm provided with the keywords: alien, invasion, urban, military, LA. In this case the software should have thrown a TOO_MANY_CLICHES errors after the first 30 minutes and flagged up a problem. Not terrible just not particularly good either.

December 14, 2013 at 06:15PM

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, 2013 - ★★★★

Probably the best pure comedy I've seen in a long time. The jokes just keep coming so any misfires are quickly forgotten about. The film slows down a bit in the final third to add some unnecessary character development but then makes up for it by going ridiculously over the top.

December 14, 2013 at 06:04PM

Brazil, 1985 - ★★★★

It was disappointing to find Brazil didn't live up to my memories of a great film. I'm not entirely sure why, perhaps the story doesn't quite pull together they way it should or the ridiculous romance is too distracting or maybe it was just my cold affecting my judgement.

There's no denying that it's still a crazy and amazing film to look at. Definitely of it's time but somehow simultaneously of all other times. It no longer feels futuristic, in fact it's quite scary just how prophetic Gilliam's vision was.

December 14, 2013 at 05:40PM

10 December 2013

Blackout, 2013 - ★★★

Great idea but suffers from the same problems of nearly all found footage films. Personally I found it far too distracting thinking that no batteries would last 3-4 days to film any of it.

December 10, 2013 at 06:06PM

08 December 2013

Blackfish, 2013 - ★★★★

Completely fascinating. And terrifying. And so much more.

December 08, 2013 at 11:41PM

Gloria, 2013 - ★★½

I thought I'd heard good things about this at #LIFF27 so this was a big disappointment. Gloria is a great character and a great performance but the film is dull. A film about young love between old people which felt like it would work just as well whatever age the characters were and therefore offered nothing new (unless that was the point).

Great ending though.

December 08, 2013 at 11:37PM

Gremlins, 1984 - ★★★★

The entire film may be completely illogical but it really doesn't matter because Gremlins is one of the great Spielberg era movies of the 80s. It was great to see this in the cinema with all the brutality and gore that I assume is missing from the television Christmas screenings. It's really dark in places (disappointingly, the younger audience burst into laughter at the conclusion of Kate's story - which I still find quite moving). Could something like this be made today to appeal to grown up audiences? I'm also really curious to learn much more about the making of the film - the discussions must have been great.

December 08, 2013 at 11:23PM

Oldboy, 2003 - ★★★★

Some may say Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy is pointless but it's achieved one thing by making me want to watch the original again. I'm not especially against remakes; I don't see why somebody else shouldn't have a go, it's unlikely but they may make a better version. However when something is as good and accessible as the original Oldboy it's hard to justify Lee's choice.

Some of the impact may have been lost knowing the eventual outcome (although I struggled to fit my mixed up memories to what was unfolding on screen). It's also less brutal than I remember, although this version may have been edited for television.

I should clarify that I haven't seen the new film, just heard a lot about it and remakes lately. Seeing the bad reception and enjoying the original one so much, I doubt I'll bother.

December 08, 2013 at 11:15PM

Wall Street, 1987 - ★★★

Feels incredibly dated now but is also still engaging throughout.

December 08, 2013 at 11:01PM

05 December 2013

Rocky Balboa, 2006 - ★★★

Starts of slow but it's hard not to get caught up with the nostalgia of wanting to see Rocky/Stallone back in the ring. By mostly sticking to TV style footage the fight feels authentic and exciting. It's a shame that as the fight progresses it tries to be more visually adventurous because it feels horribly out of place.

December 05, 2013 at 11:25PM

03 December 2013

Saving Mr. Banks, 2013 - ★★★

There's a feeling throughout most of Saving Mr Banks that whenever it is doing well it's only doing so by riding on the coattails of Mary Poppins. The rehearsal room scenes are great and it's always a joy to hear even a snippet of the classic songs. Emma Thompson has received lots of praise and she's great but it's a role and a character that she could do in her sleep. Much more interesting and enjoyable are the trio of Jason Schwartzman, BJ Novak and Bradley Whitford as the Sherman brothers and screenwriter Don Da Gradi, and Paul Giamatti as the driver.

It feels like there are much better stories to be told either about making the film or the life of P.L Travers but we get stuck with the Disneyfied version of both. As a result not a lot really happens and the film rarely feels like it's directed, more pointing a camera at great actors. The real problem are the flashbacks which are clunky, heavy handed and dull but worse than that they constantly interrupt the flow of the film every time it's getting good.

December 03, 2013 at 06:39PM