23 June 2014

The Battle Of The Sexes, 2013 - ★★★½

A fascinating look at a sporting event that actually mattered. It's easy to be appalled by Riggs chauvinism now so it's a shame the film makes little effort to show if this was normal behaviour for the time (sadly it probably was). It's also depressing that very little has improved in 40 years (especially in the technology sector where I work and this kind of sexism is still rife). A lot of the film isn't really about tennis until the end which focuses solely on the match which feels like a shame.

June 23, 2014 at 11:02PM

22 June 2014

Nostalgia for the Light, 2010 - ★★★

I often wonder what makes the difference between a cinema documentary and one made for TV and in Nostalgia For The Light I think we see both sides. The beautifully shot parts focussing on the astronomy are poetically cinematic but the talking heads feel poorly put together even if that's where the two juxtaposed stories are really told.

June 22, 2014 at 07:04PM

The Raid, 2011 - ★★★★

Two years and one day ago I watched The Raid for the first time and found it was a disappointing experience. The film couldn't distract me from the other things on my mind and as a result I didn't appreciate the film for what I (and most other people) knew was a good film. I've been meaning to watch it again especially before the sequel (which I missed) and so caught it before it vanished from Netflix.

It's hard to imagine how I couldn't enjoy it the first time. If you don't like fights (and I wasn't aware that I particularly did) then you're probably not going to like this feature length series of them. But boy are they done with such style, the whole films looks fantastic but each fight is a wonderful piece of choreography if nothing else. My only issue with the film is the first five or ten minutes which really isn't needed especially as all the character background is then repeated during the action.

Now I need to find the sequel.

June 22, 2014 at 06:53PM

The Raid, 2011 - ★★½

It's good but wasn't really for me

June 22, 2014 at 06:47PM

Mona Lisa, 1986 - ★★★

Broadcast and viewed as a tribute to Bob Hoskins it's a great showcase of his talents, coming across as he often did as lovable, charming and also dangerous. The rest of the film felt overly familiar (I may have seen it before) which shouldn't lessen the impact of the story but did.

June 22, 2014 at 06:43PM

The King and the Mockingbird, 1980 - ★★★

Both inspired by and inspirational The King and The Mockingbird is a strange concoction of nearly every animation style. Perhaps a result of it's lengthy gestation period (which I was unaware of before I watched) all of the characters feel like they've fallen out of their own film and landed in this bizarre world. This isn't a huge problem but I found that the strangeness never managed to reach a cohesiveness in the same way the best Ghibli films do.

June 22, 2014 at 06:40PM

15 June 2014

The Wind Rises, 2013 - ★★★★

More beautiful and epic than I was expecting. For a film set in reality (and history) there's a lot of magic in the dream sequences which makes this a great final film from Miyazaki.

(I've just seen the cast list for the dubbed version and want to see that version as well now.)

June 15, 2014 at 06:16PM

Drinking Buddies, 2013 - ★★★★½

I think it was on Filmspotting when they started talking about film lists in terms of what you would show aliens so they could understand human kind. It's a nice way to think what makes a film great and the first film I always think to include in such a list is When Harry Met Sally. In the last 25 years I don't think another film has managed to capture what relationships and friendships are really about. Until now. Drinking Buddies came out of nowhere and perfectly captures life at this moment in time. Or perhaps an idealised version of it. Or a less-than-idealised version. Or a drunken version. It was only right that I was drinking whilst I watched, perhaps sober it won't be as good but if that is the case it only makes this viewing even better.

June 15, 2014 at 06:06PM

Real Steel, 2011 - ★★★

Apart from an ill-judged bull fighting sequence at the start, the rest of the film has enough charm and heart to overlook the completely predictable plot and many, many flaws.

June 15, 2014 at 05:54PM

Sanjuro, 1962 - ★★★

Another personal disappointment after Throne Of Blood, I really didn't enjoy this too much. The samurai setting felt too familiar and I wasn't really expecting it to be an almost Ealing style comedy.

June 15, 2014 at 05:51PM

Drive Angry, 2011 - ★★★★

Out of the two hell driving Nicolas Cage movies I watched tonight I was expecting this to be the non-event but found it was a huge amount of fun. Ghost Rider tries too hard to be serious whereas Drive Angry knows exactly what it's doing. Trashy, over the top, grindhousey and Nicolas Cage is nearly out-Caged by William Fichtner, what's not to love?

p.s I may have been drunk by the time I watched this.

June 15, 2014 at 05:45PM

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, 2011 - ★★

I've seen but don't remember the first film but I don't think that had any bearing on this viewing. It also doesn't help seeing this of the back of great action films like Godzilla, X-Men DOTP and Edge Of Tomorrow. If Edge Of Tomorrow manages to capture everything that's good about video games then Spirit of Vengeance does the opposite and highlights what's wrong with so many video games. A nonsense story, dull characters, weak performances, overblown action that looks good but has no meaning, flashily edited with energy but no soul or significance. You also only get brief moments of Cage being Cage before he's replaced with FX, I'd love to see the version without the flaming skull.

June 15, 2014 at 05:37PM

12 June 2014

Edge of Tomorrow, 2014 - ★★★★

For the majority of the running time Edge Of Tomorrow is one of the most enjoyable, smart, funny and well put together action science fiction films, not just of the year but perhaps of all time. It's also the best film about video games without being about video games.

Unfortunately the beginning and end both disappoint. After an excellent opening sequence which perfectly sets up the world we get the first run of the day and I found that it really dragged. Perhaps it has a lot to set up for subsequent runs and won't seem as bad on repeated viewings but on my first viewing I couldn't help think back to whoever said that you could chop the first 15 minutes of most films and get straight to the point.

The ending is more problematic when an obvious plot development is required to inject some stakes back into the action, the film loses nearly everything that made it so special in the first place. The resulting end sequence then suffers the same final third problems that plague just about every modern film, all overblown action and very little to care for. Worse there are two Hollywood cop-outs that betray the the rest of the film's smartness. One is character related and would have been easily solved by a bit of role reversal. The other just feels like a cheat (although I think it does work within the logic of the story) leaving the story crying out for a more satisfying conclusion.

Also why doesn't Cage drag a bunch of other soldiers to where he first dies?

June 12, 2014 at 07:14PM

10 June 2014

From Up on Poppy Hill, 2011 - ★★½

I do usually like it when Studo Ghibli steps away from fantasy and tells a sweet story but for some reason this never quite clicked for me.

June 10, 2014 at 01:06PM

05 June 2014

Friends With Benefits, 2011 - ★★★

A disappointing follow up to Easy A and not as good as No Strings Attached.

June 05, 2014 at 10:01PM

Scent of a Woman, 1992 - ★★★★

For a film I only remember as a tango sequence there's an awful lot more going on. It may be the type of Oscar bait that people don't like (or admit to liking) but I really enjoyed just about all of the two and half hours. Yes, there is no need for a film like this to be that long but it never got dull. My only problem was the ridiculousness of the school incident (which is perhaps an accurate reflection of the ridiculousness of boarding school politics) and the mixed messages in Pacino's closing arguments. Surely the whole thing could have been avoided if any of the hundred or so witnesses recognised any of the voices over the PA system, or just didn't give a crap about a visit to a car wash.

I watched this as one of the many films shown on TV after the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and it may only be a small part but it's full of the things that made PSH such a great screen presence. This may be the film where Pacino changed from a character actor to a caricature actor but he's having a blast and so should you.

June 05, 2014 at 07:58PM

03 June 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past, 2014 - ★★★

This gets off to a terrible start and all the future scenes are a horrible chaotic rushed mess of nonsense, no character and effects (only Blink's portals are of any interest). Fortunately once we step back in time things get back on track (even though this film seems to undo all the setup of First Class) and hold together for most of the film. It's a shame that a lot of the final third depends on an contrived plot point involving railway tracks that just doesn't make any sense (even in a world of mutants).

A disappointing sequel to First Class that may have been better if it had stayed in the past.

June 03, 2014 at 09:29PM

Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986 - ★★★½

I can't remember when I first saw Ferris Bueller and whilst I remember liking the film, I've never held it in as high regard as some people. It's still easy to see how seeing the film at a certain point in your own life will have an impact on how much you subsequently enjoy it. Nearly 30 years later, it's not the 80s setting that surprised but how scattershot and largely insignificant most of the film is. It's still fun but let's face it, Bueller is a little shit, and this time I was more on the side of the sister and even Rooney.

As we sat down to watch Boysmithers asked if this got a dark at the end. It's not how I remembered but Cameron's story does go to dark places and it's only this part that provides the heart and depth that I remember from Hughes' other teen movies.

So I do understand why it is so well loved but I think John Hughes made better films (although I'm unsure if I want to rewatch those and find out I've just become a grumpy old man).

June 03, 2014 at 09:14PM