Thursday, 31 March 2011

Incredible Soundtrack #4: The Village (Newton Howard)

The music attached to a film creates the environment, I believe, moreso than the literal environment depicted through the visuals...

James Newton-Howard could be my favourite composer. I think his scores for countless films - from Collateral and The Dark Knight (with Hans Zimmer) through to his soundtracks with Shyamalan, specifically Unbreakable and Signs are definately incredible.

I have chosen his soundtrack for The Village because I do believe this score to be his best. Indeed the use of violin is prominent through the skill of Hilary Hahn. The music is sweeping and personal in equal measure and, where neccessary, it amps up the fear. The score balances the themes of the film perfectly - where on one hand, you have this traditional and peaceful society, but behind the curtain  lurks dark secrets and sinister demons...

Shockingly, The Village lost out to Finding Neverland for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards. Now, Finding Neverland ain't memorable. The soundtrack less memorable than the film.

My three tracks...

8. The Gravel Road - this track is a perfect example of that beautiful peaceful society very gradually turning more sinister.

9. Race to Resting Rock - this sweeping swell of chords features as the characters played by Brody and Dallas-Howard run down the hill. It really makes you ache for that same freedom - the freedom of space and fresh air, the freedom you felt as a child.

2. What Are You Asking Me? - A nice combination of all that is good about the score. The gentle violin repeating it's unbalanced riff whilst the orchestra swells in the background as if something is unsettling and is hidden beneath the surface.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Boardroom Meeting with Zack Snyder...

Inspired by Travis's review on The Movie Encyclopedia I shall write what I think happened, that fateful day, when Zack Snyder approached the studio with Sucker Punch...

Zack Snyder: So, I'm trying to work out what to do to follow my classic films WATCHMEN and 300 ...

Studio: C'mon Zack, I wouldn't say 'classic'. I say, perfectly timed to coincide with the obsession with Graphic-Novels that dominated cinema. Sin City et al. Combine that with the sword-and-sandal blockbusters Troy and Alexander and then consider the recent development in animation. I mean, 300 wasn't a classic. And Watchmen, well... it was hardly the best it could've been. You could've improved on that. Fact is Zack, you're popular - people like your work so you gotta make something else. Any ideas?

ZS: No idea.

S: Okay. 300 and Watchmen made money. Lots of money - why?

ZS: The fighting?

S: Thats one thing. Fighting. We'll keep that.

ZS: A profound story?

S: Yeah, Watchmen was profound... but, if anything, that was your problem. Too much to cover on such a small palette. It did look stylised ...

ZS: Okay. Colour. Stylised. Got it.

S: 300 is exceptionally popular in the gay market - big, strong, topless men fighting... maybe target the film specifically to the gay market? "Zack Snyder directs Romans in Relationships"...

ZS: I'm not directing that! My fan base is teenage boys - who like girls -

S: Girls. Ye-e-e-s. Girls... I have it "Zack Snyder directs Roman Girls in Relationships...

ZS: That would be pretty boring - in Rome women really didn't have so much power.

S: Then scrap Rome. Replace Ancient Rome with something else... y'know that Chris Nolan created a good film about dreams...

ZS: Hmmm

S: I got it! Girls in Dreams and fighting... lots. Make it stylised Zack.

ZS: Can I make it profound?

S: You know you can't do that.

ZS: But I will try hard not to make it convuluted and, as I'm writing it -

S: Woah, woah, woah Zach - Have you even written anything before?

ZS: Of course I have!

S: I have not records that indic-

ZS: 300.

S: [Pause] That was Frank Miller's story.

ZS: Tales of the Black Fre-

S: You can't just claim that you wrote the story when all you did was adapt the script. A 'short' script in one case and a feature-script that, lets be honest, was not the reason people watched the film in the first place. 300 was marketed as 'From the creator of Sin City' not 'written by the director. C'mon Zack.

ZS: But I learnt from them. Please please please.

S: How can we guarantee you won't get, y'know, mixed-up and unclear?

ZS: I'll make the girl wear less clothes. So its just girls, fighting, in dreams in very little clothing.

S: Hot girls?

ZS: Exceptionally hot girls.

S: I guess that would draw in your boy-teens. They don't really care about script anyway.

ZS: Thats true. So can I -

S: Sure. Yeah, of course. Done. Green-lit. And if this works, we'll give you Superman.

ZS: That is mental. You can't be serious. Superman and my teenage wet-dream?

S: Fuck it. Lets do it. Superman and your teenage wet-dream. Green-Lit. But your film has to have a kick-ass name - like Kick-Ass...

ZS: Double-Blow?

S: No.

ZS: Back-Slam?

S: Too ...  wrestling-y

ZS: Punch-in-the-face?

S: I like Punch.

ZS: I'm-a-hot-girl-and-I'll-get-you-sucka!
S: I like Sucka.

ZS: Sucka-Punch.

S: Sucker-Punch. Sold. Green-Lit.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

A-Z #63: Donnie Darko: Directors Cut

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#63 - Donnie Darko: Directors Cut 

Why did I buy it?

I won't go into the reasons 'why' Donnie Darko is a good film - I think all of us fanboys are not wholly convinced it is as good as we said it was when we first watched it, but it still remains. Fact is, I briefly went through a phase whereby I sold a bunch of DVDs only to purchase the double-discs or the special editions. Amongst the titles 'swapped' were Goodfellas (from the flip-disc to the double-disc), Deep Impact (the first edition had no special features on whatsoever) and Speed (again, the first edition merely had a trailer...). Donnie Darko was rereleased in its directors cut and, I assumed, it would be better that the original theatrical...

Why do I still own it?

I'm not convinced it is much better. In fact, I doubt it is better. But what is interesting is how, the first few watches of Donnie Darko led me to believe that the film was about God and fate and how, everyone is scared when they die, but Donnie is not scared by the end, because he knows by that point that when he dies its all good. His time-blip showed him that there are forces outside of this world and that - more importantly - when he dies, it is not the end. So, it doesn't bother him that he doesn't get together with Malone, it doesn't bother him that his family will mourn his loss - he knows that his death is not in vain and he will eventually see them again. The bunny is the angel guiding him through this peek-behind-the-curtain.
When you watch the theatrical cut, this is not as clear. I could argue my 'view' in whatever way I wanted, in the theatrical cut, there simply is not enough evidence to prove my theory. Suffice to say, the Directors Cut does provide that information. To the point that some of the questions the psychiatrist asks Donnie si specifically about faith and God - and the afterlife. Unofortunately, the ambiguity of the theatical cut is what is preferred and you cannot interpret that in only one way - and that is the beauty of it. I think the directors cut does show how Richard Kelly may have just fallen onto this successful film - opposed to being the widely touted 'incredible young filmmaker' that he was at the time.
Too dated? Too religious? Should I sell it? You tell me.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, 28 March 2011

Redline (Takeshi Koike, 2010)

"In the Far Future. The Greatest Velocity Race Is Decided. Every Five Years. The Festival Returns. Redline!"


One thing I thoroughly enjoy is watching a film that I kow nothing about. I am well aware that, despite all my efforts, I will never really know everything about cinema. Do I know about the latest changes in Romanian Cinema? Do I know enough about British-Cinema Silent-Film industry pre-Blackmail? No. One genre I am clearly not versed in is Anime. Off the top of my head, if I was to name a couple of Anime films [that I have not seen, but I know is important] I would state: Ghost in the Shell and Akira. I would not count Studio Ghibli amongst the style - not because it is not anime - indeed Ghibli is Japanese animation - but, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle always feel a much grander and aimed at children - opposed to the teenage market I believe Manga markets itself towards (please, comment below if I am wrong about this). At any rate, I was lucky enough to nab a ticket to see Redline, the feature-debut from Takeshi Koike (the animator behind the animation in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and the World Record short in The Animatrix) as it was screened at the Birmingham Flatpack Festival, screened at the historical Electric Cinema.

"Speed Racer On Crack"

This is the comment Kwenton Balette wrote when describing Redline for Twitch Film. This truly is intense. The film is a mash-up of colour, cutting, flipping-of-switches, engines revving, aliens and false-TV-clips ... with a little bit of female-anime-nudity thrown in for good measure. The film is so "non-stop" that, I believe, the only way they could slow down the end of the film was to make it abundently clear the two lead characters have fallen in love by scrawling the word 'love', seconds before following this with 'The End'. Otherwise it may have been too abrupt.

The plot is so random! 'Sweet' JP is a racer who, in the opening race ('Yellowline'), loses out to Sonoshee. He is gutted that he cannot compete in the 'big race' - Redline. But his luck changes when the actual venue is announced - Roboworld. Two racers drop out due to this and through 'Sweet' JP's performance in Yellowline, he manages to be substitued into Redline. Meanwhile in Roboworld, the leaders are unhappy - turns out, they were not informed about the race - and will inexplicably attempt to kill all the racers (so you see why the two racers dropped out). This goes a bit mad and, in an attempt to kill all the racers, they unleash 'funky-bot' who actually becomes too powerful, and one of the lead military figures transforms into a monster and fights the 'funky-bot'. During all of this chaos, the race is costly revving-up and then re-revving-up and, funnily enough, 'sweet' JP manages to win through jopining up with Sonoshee who he has loved, we realise through flashbacks. They kiss. Love. The End.


Its For Kids!

It was a complete assault on the senses. My fellow viewer - Richard Bourne of the Bourne Brain Bafflers - explained how this film was the problem with kids today. Japanese kids I assume. But, put in the most professional way I can put it, this film has the adrenaline and pace of a kid, high on sweets and Vitamin C (I know when I was a kid, Mum would stop me from drinking too much orange juice because I got too hyper) and with severe ADHD. It was relentless. The soundtrack sounded more like a constant bass rather than an actual soundtrack.

There is only so much I can continue with this - Mike from Destroy Apathy noted on twitter how the film was 'awesome' (I disagree) stating it the most 'exhilerating cinematic experience of last year'. I agree wth that. Having said that, he also mentioned that the day he watched it, he had also seen a bunch of very cliche anime and, in fairness, I have not seen enough cliche anime to even know what the cliches are.

I think if you want to be simply slapped in the face relentlessly with a pink, sugar-fused candy-bar then, yeah, this is a recommendation, but if you prefer films that simply slow-the-fu**-down then stay well clear. I sit in the latter category.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

A-Z #62: Dog Day Afternoon

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#62 - Dog Day Afternoon

Why did I buy it?

I am embaressed to say that Dog Day Afternoon I did not know about until the brief mention in Dominic Sena's Swordfish. If I recall correctly, Travolta uses the film as an example as to how it has a great ending. This perked my interest, but following that note, I heard alot more about it - especially having watch The Godfather and becoming keen to watch young Al Pacino in action.

Why do I still own it?
Because it truly is a brilliant film. Like The Godfather and The Deer Hunter, the film stars John Cazale in another blistering performance - who knows what he would've made had he continued to make films. We all talk about De Niro and Pacino - but at this point in the seventies, Cazale was one of them. The film is incredible on multiple levels. As pure entertainment it is non-stop, set-in-a-day and [pretty much] set in one location. On the first viewing, though based on a true story, you have no idea where it is going. This leads to the next level - the film shows how Pacino's character is robbing the bank to pay for his male lover's operation to become a woman. Can you believe it? This is an action film with heart and intelligence. The acting is flawless too - Pacino playing the impulsive, but confused robber at the heart of it, whilst Cazale is the Vietnam veteran ... we question whether he will 'lose it'? Nominated for multiple awards - including the Best Picture and Best Director for Sidney Lumet - even winning the statuette for Best Screenplay. This truly is an example of rewwatchable, classic filmmaking.
All together now - "Attica! Attica! Attica!"

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A-Z #61: Dirty Dancing

You can pick up hundreds of DVDs for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. It's never about quantity, it's about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em...

#61 - Dirty Dancing 

Why did I buy it?

Pretry simple really - Sarah and I set ourself challenges. Sarah had to purchase a DVD for me and I for her, ot be viewed as double bill that evening. Sarah bought me Rocky whilst I bought her Dirty Dancing. Strange how both are hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine. Nevertheless, I had never seen Dirty Dancing until that evening and, upon watching it ... my, oh my ...

Why do I still own it?

Well, the vast majority of why I like this was discussed on 'The Simon and Jo Film Show' way back in June but to highlight the main points - its fair to say, its not your average 'chick-flick'. On the one side, yeah, its dancing and a girls 'awakening' but it shows this through the a rose-tinted 60's pop soundtrack. It shows these aspects by showing the upper-class 'visitors' and lower-class 'workers' and through "Baby" visiting the resort with her affluent family, whilst Swayze is the dancer - used and abused by women. The film even tackles abortion! Hardly your average 'chick-flick'.

What is great about this film, is the positivity and celebration of femininity - Jennifer Grey perfectly captures the naive innocence of a young woman whilst she also begins to enjoy and fight for her independence. The celebration as she achieves this is incredible - so it is strange to think that though she is having "the time of her life", she is ultimately beginning her life as a free and independent woman ...

On a sidenote, it is interesting to note that the director, Emile Ardolino, died young at the age of 50 ... shortly after directing Sister Act in 1993.

Maybe this film is actually lame and I should shift it ASAP... what do you think?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, 25 March 2011

A-Z #59: The Deer Hunter

You can pick up hundreds of DVDs for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. It's never about quantity, it's about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#59 - The Deer Hunter

Why did I buy it?

I think the vast majority of us obsessive film fanatics have read Peter Biskinds insightful, but fairly gossipy, 'classic' Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. The book charts the seventies in Hollywood, and how from Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Riders, for a short period, the directors called the shots ... and ultimately, how Lucas's Star Wars and Spielberg' s Jaws flipped the shots back to the producers as they realised that, whilst some directors hit-big with artistic masterpieces, there was much more money with B-Movie-to-A-Movie adaptations, relentless marketing and selling lots and lots of toys was the bigger way to make money. Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter was one of those incredible directoral successes during this period - amongst Coppola's The Godfather and Scorseses' Mean Streets - but, rather than following it up with a stronger film, poor Cimino followed it up with Heaven's Gate. One of the biggest 'flops'  in cinema history. It cost $44m ... and made a little under $4m (according to IMDB). 

Why do I still own it?

At any rate, I watched the film and it is indeed a tough watch. A long opening Wedding sequence with a film stretched over 3-hours. The film has an incredible cast in Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Cazale. The finale is quite the pay-off, but I also believe that it requires more than one watch. So, though I am not convinced, I am keeping it on the grounds that I need to watch it again. After all, it also won Best Picture and is highly regarding as one of the most important Vietnam films - alongside Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. But unlike those films, this film primarily tackles how the war broke up communities and changed peoples lives forever - we focus upon the attempt at getting back into society and how, others, never managed to get back.

Don't get me wrong, I was not bowled over on my first - and only - viewing, but there is plenty there that will make me come back.

Maybe that initial instinct is accurate? Can anyone top Platoon, Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket?
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A-Z #60: The Departed

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#60 - The Departed 
*Just realised I've missed #59 ... too late ... #59 will arrive in due course ...

Why did I buy it?

I remember when I watched this at the cinema - at the time I was training to be a teacher and I wasn't up-to-date with the films. Sarah and I were tryig to choose which film and we noticed at the last minute The Departed. It rang a few bells, primarily that Scorsese was directing. I took a chance and it remained one of my favourite films of the year. I pre-order the DVD and ensured I had the sweet HMV exclusive sleeve ...

Why do I still own it?

This is so incredibly rewatchable. The whole Boston setting, the duality of all the characters - Damon and DiCaprio, Nicholson and Sheen. I think I may sell it ... only to purchase the film on Blu-Ray. As it is an ensemble, it can be difficult to catch your breath - constantly shifting from one character to another alongside an incredible soundtrack and a finale that, for a first watch, is simply unbelievable. Scorsese can indeed remake films, through this adaptation of Infernal Affairs and, to top it off, even win Best Picture with the same film.

I think my personal love of this film is the 'facts' that inspired this interpretation. Namely James 'Whitey' Bulger - the gangster Jack Nicholson bases his character on. James J. Bulger, like Nicholson's Frank Costello is an Irish, American who is alleged to have led the Winter Hill gang in Boston during the 70's and 80's ... only to leave Boston in 1995. Never to be seen again. He is still on the FBI Most Wanted List and, the last official sighting was in 2002... in London.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Top 5 'U2' in Cinema/Television

With all this music-talk continuing in the blogosphere thank to Castor at Anomalous Materials, I have been thinking more about music myself - hence this list. First off, before this Top 5, I shall lay dow some ground rules. Obviously 'Live' DVD's or films don't count - so no U2:3D, ZOOTV or PopMart. Additionally to that, the tour-film Rattle and Hum directed by Phil Joanou doesn't count because, though released theatrically, it's a live DVD deep down. Finally, having only recently discussed The Million Dollar Hotel, its fair to state that as U2 and Bono actually wrote the whole soundtrack, thats discounted. Also, Goldeneye, is only written by Bono and The Edge, but alas is not performed by U2, so that doesn't count either.
Blog Cabins always mentions the 'notable' films he hasn't seen when analysing years in reflection. In the same way, it appears that a bunch of film I have not seen use U2 songs. Namely, The Heartbreak Kid ('One'), Elizabethtown ('In The Name Of Love'), Brothers ('Winter') and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly ('Ultraviolet'). Sorry Ben Stiller, your Heartbroken Kid, I'll bet, slaughters the song.

Before I rank the Top 5 Best use of U2 tracks in songs, lets note the horrendous uses of some songs: 'Bad' in Taking Lives ('Bad' is possibly one of U2's best tracks and it was used in sex-drama with Ethan Hunt and Angelina Jolie. Tragic), 'Beautiful Day' in anything - it is always used and, though I have only seen its use on sports programmes in England, I have additionally seen it used in the film Bandits (Though IMDB notes the use of the same song in Smallville, CSI:NY and Nim's Island). Obviously, we cannot forget the atrocious 'remix' of 'Elevation' in Lara Croft:Tomb Raider. In fairness, I reckon thats more to do with fact that 'Elevation' is a crap song anyway - its just U2 trying to recreate Blur's 'Song 2'...

Lets Countdown ...

5. Gangs of New York ('The Hands That Built America') - I have specifically hunted down the version with an orchestral beginning - opposed to the slightly less-epic version featuring on 2002 'Best Of 1990-2000'. I persoanlly like Gangs of New York at any rate (though I was in absolute shock that Andy and John from The Hollywood Saloon only recently spoke about films that should never-have-been and specified Gangs of New York as the worst Scorsese film! No sir.)

4. About A Boy (Zoo Station) - I like About A Boy for a number of reasons. Its virtually a rom-com for boys. Hugh Grant lives the perfect life and, having said that, you know he has the sweetest sound-system known to man... meaning Zoo Station would sound incredible in his flat. I couldn't find the scene itself, but it is used in the scene as the young lad is ringing Hugh Grant's doorbell...

3. Three Kings (In Gods Country) - I have been desperate to rewatch Three Kings for a long time but have yet to do so. But rarely does a film use a song so effectively that it finishes the film with such a positive buzz. In keeping with highlighting the songs being use in the sequence itself I have a section from the film which shows the final 10-minutes. Skip to 04.15 to see the use of the song...

2. Friends (With or Without You) - I know its a little bit cliche, but forgive me for having a heart. I think it is one of my favourite U2 songs, if not the favourite song. Unfortunately I couldn't find the scene itself but I found one of those silly 'dedication' videos that uses the song itself... the closest I could get considering...

1. Batman Forever (Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me) - I think this song is Number One for a bunch of reasons. First off, the video is incredible. Apparently Bono was actually considered for Batman, but I think its safe to say that he should stick to what he knows and leave the animators to create the only version of Batman Bono will ever play. Secondly, you could only get this track either on the soundtrack or on a single (remember them) before 2002 ... so it remained one of those incredible songs that was difficult to get hold of - alongside Oasis' 'Whatever' and multiple others...

Large Association of Movie Blogs

A-Z #58: Deep Impact

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#58 - Deep Impact 

Why did I buy it?

Back in the hey-day of comets-crashing-into-earth, both Deep Impact and Armageddon were always pitted against each other. I always stood firmly on the side of Deep Impact. Having mentioned Armageddon being good for Michael-Bay-ness, Deep Impact is all about the heart.

Why do I still own it?
Because the film much more personal and, to some extent, complex than Armageddon. Spoliers will be given here - unlike Armageddon, the spaceship sent to tackle the comet screw it up a little whilst a huge bunch of people die. The people who survive are no better or worse than each other - they are not particularly 'stronger' than others. People are chosen by a lottery (which is apparently what would happen...) and when the comet hits, it is deeply unsettling as some of your favourite characters are killed off. Mimi Leder directs too, which means she is one of the few female directors which I own a film of. No Amy Heckerling's or Jane Campion's here. Though, nowadays, who doesn't own The Hurt Locker. Suffice to say, i am a big fan of Deep Impact and, having watched the clip, I am keen to rewatch the film ASAP.

Maybe I should sell it? What are your thoughts?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, 21 March 2011

Incredible Soundtrack #3: The Million Dollar Hotel (Willner/Bono/Eno)

The music attached to a film creates the environment, I believe, moreso than the literal environment depicted through the visuals...

Castor at Anomalous Materials has just begun one of those blog-a-thons called Desert Island Discs. This is a radio show once in England which has become almost iconic in the way it counts down your must-have CD's or films. Now, I rarely manage to complete these types of posts at the best of times so, in the hope that I can vaguely hit two-birds-with-one stone I have written this post. I must point out initially that this is by no means my favourite album or an album I would take to the desert island. In fact, I would not take a single track from this album to the desert island. Though, I know that I would take at least 3 tracks by U2 (off the top of my head? 'With or Without You', 'A Sort of Homecoming' and 'Mofo') - my favourite band ever. Thus my tenuous link to Castors 'Desert Island Discs' blog-a-thon.

The film is a strange one - almost dreamlike in its 'world' with Mel Gibson as the outsider to the surrealist hotel that is the Million Dollar Hotel. But the soundtrack really complements this context with soft, slow, soothing guitar riffs and chords. Echoes litter the album but the two stand out tracks are by U2 - 'Stateless' and 'The Ground Beneath her Feet'. The latter is on the album All That You Can't Leave Behind (albeit as a bonus track), but the former is only available on this soundtrack. The third track I have chosen is Milla Jovovich singing Lou Reed's 'Satellite of Love' showing the 'dream like' quality of the film... until the track descends into a strange territory. I always wish the song ended after 3 minutes, because the wailing ruins the song completely. In some ways, this song is not too far from the film itself - in that, as good as the film can appear and look, there is something uneven and strange about it making the film a little bit too strange to comfortably enjoy.

1. The Ground Beneath Her Feet

3. Stateless

4. Satellite of Love (Milla Jovovich and The MDH Band)

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A-Z #57: The Day After Tomorrow

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#57 - The Day After Tomorrow 

Why did I buy it?

If I recall correctly, I bought this when double-disc DVD offers were rife. 20th Century Fox had a 2 for £20 offer on a whole load of double-disc DVD's and, because I felt I was getting out of the loop with some of the more, shall we say, mainstream films, I bought this film alongside I, Robot. It was okay at the cinema and the whole environmental thing going on, I believed, would be a great addition to the whole end-of-the-world blockbusters following Independence Day through to Armageddon... (I think, soon after this was released, a British film called Flood starring Robert Carlyle was released with a similar set-up)

Why do I still own it?
It very nearly got sold. It was on the pile. (For the record, I, Robot was sold...) but I managed to catch the end of a "Top 50 End-Of-The-World Films" and this, though not number-one (I think that was Independence Day), did come up in the top 5. For a while I though that was ridiculous but, the voice-over guy, seemed to argue the case: a great cast in Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid (though they are clearly not Father and Son) and Ian Holm, the nature-vs-the-world had a facsinating aspect of truth to it ... a hypothetical-scenario rather than false science-fiction, it seemed as if the horror in The Day After Tomorrow could indeed happen. And, to top it off, the special FX look great. The irony to all of this is the reality of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans in 2005, the Boxing-Day Indian Ocean earthquake, Haiti... the list goes on. The crazy pictures in Japan of a wave holding hundreds of cars and sweeping them across the land seems to be something straight out of this film.
I think I will keep this as a film-version of some of the actual horrors nature has bestowed on us in recent years... (though I have no intention of watching 2012)

The truth may be more horrific and my ownership of this simply ignores the flawed aspect of the film itself - should it be sold?
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Adjustment Bureau with Mad Hatter...

Hatter and I seem to have a very similar attitude to film - both interested in the classics, both interested in building upon our knowledge of cinema by crawling through the '100 Best...' lists. Either we have seen it or we cry ourselves to sleep wishing we had.

Fact is, through watching The Adjustment Bureau we seem to go against each other - Hatter loving the film, whilst I despised it.

It turned into a great back-and-forth email and Mad Hatter put it up on his blog so, indeed, have a gander!

I think it fair to say that it gets a bit heated ...

On a sidenote, isn't the poster very similar to North by Northwest...

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A-Z #56: Dances With Wolves

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#56 - Dances With Wolves 

Why did I buy it?

For many, many years I hated Dances with Wolves. In fairness, I hadn't seen it. But my reasoning was how it nabbed the Best Picture gong from Scorsese when he was nominated with Goodfellas. Real shame. But then I bit the bullet, purchased the triple-disc, and watched winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, 1991: Dances with Wolves

Why do I still own it?
I have only watched it once and it was incredibly good. Kevin Costner has been mocked for many years - ever since Waterworld - Costner seems to be a bit of a joke. He has recently been cast as Superman's Dad in the upcoming Zack Snyder reboot of the man of steel and it is pretty incredible to know how great an actor - and director Costner is. There is nothing unpolished about this film - the scale and scope are captured gloriously in widescreen, showing vast vistas of buffalo and desert in Fort Sedgwick, Colorado.
I think, Avatar has alot to answer for and, what makes this film that much more refined, is the finale as Dunbar (Costner) does not 'win' or 'defeat' the enemy, but he decides to leave the tribe, knowing he has put them in danger. I doubt Jim Cameron could've been so brave with his Jake Sully (Worthington) who, easily enough, became not only of the Na'vi, but additionally, the best Na'vi there has ever been. 'Dances With Wolves' (Costner's tribe name) was good, but he was never 'the best' member of the Sioux tribe.
Should I sell it though?
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A-Z #55 Cruel Intentions

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#55 - Cruel Intentions 

Why did I buy it?

At the time, it was cool. It was hip. It was one of the few films that was on DVD months before it was released on VHS. It had hotty Sarah Michelle Gellar in it. It has stunner Reese Witherspoon in it and, most importantly, it was about sex. At 16 years old, that was pretty much at the forefront of my mind.

Why do I still own it?

At the time this was the film to show when people came around. On the one hand, diluted down sex - its not porn - whereby everyone can enjoy it. It has a few good talking points - should you wait until marriage for sex? Not if Ryan Phillippe has anything to do with it. Is it classed as incest if the two step-brother and step-sister have sex? I mean, they are not blood-related. When Reese Witherspoon pulls those faces, does it highlight her playfulness or, more importantly, how freakishly big her forehead is? Its a tough call.

Its an adaptation of Dangerous Liasons and so, you could argue, there is a literary starting point - raising the film that little bit higher than American Pie and Save the Last Dance. In all honesty, I think it is a classy teen-movie and very few of these exist. Other than Cruel Intentions there are no other teen-romances which come across as so smooth and, for want of a better word, 'cool'. I mean, the kids are all in the upper-class world of New York. They have incredibly sweet cars and dress immaculately. The soundtrack is awesome - Placebo, Elisabeth Fraser and Craig Armstrong and - to top it off - it ends with The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony'.

I think, too often, I may have shown this to girls I fancied as a teenager in the hope that - for some inexplicable reason - they would look at me and think "y'know, he is alot like Ryan Phillippe..." and we would make love (or at least make out) until the early hours (I say early hours, probably more like 10 o'clock because both our parents wouldn't be too keen on letting us stay up so late) and I would simply imagine myself writing in a journal about my conquests. Unfortunately, this never happened, which meant there was no need for a journal. If I had a journal - rather than having intricate drawings of rosary-beads that hide cocaine and collages of newspaper clippings, it would simply read: "So, I put on Cruel Intentions on and we watched it. Then she left. Again. We both agreed it was a good film."

Should I sell it though?
Large Association of Movie Blogs

'The Clock' by Christian Marclay

I have known long films. I have watched the 4-hours of Gone with the Wind. I have not endured the 5-hour edit of Carlos and have not sat through 9-hours of the acclaimed holocaust documentary Shoah but how about a film that lasts 24-hours? Any takers?

I have visited the Hayward Gallery on the Southbank and their current Art Exhibition is British Art Show 7: In The Days of the Comet. Amongst the artists featured are Charles Avery, Duncan Campbell, David Noonan and Phoebe Unwin. My attention was drawn to many pieces and their did seem to be an influx of video-installations - some of which seemed effective but, often, I find myself tiring easily after visiting too many of these dark rooms. The last one I visited by Christian Marclay was titled 'The Clock' and I was truly fascinated.

To describe is easy. It is a 24-hour art piece which, through multiple video-sources, shows the time. So, one piece of footage will show a clock used in Pulp Fiction before cutting to another section of film featured John Simm whereby the time continues and you see another clock showing the time again. The time continues throughout the day, for 24-hours. The difference being that the times within each chosen sequence is arranged chronologically.

To create this must have been exceptionally difficult. Not only does it show the time in a variety of sources, but it is also seamlessly edited together so that the music merges between sequences and themes continue. In the short section I observed between 4.15pm and 4.32pm at one point various sequences included horses from a range of films, whilst in another you could see how characters seemed to almost communicate through time - one character glancing round, only to cut away to another character - in a different film - appear to look right back. At the specified time - 4.15, 4.16, 4.17...

I find myself often having difficulty accepting video-installations in an art gallery. I often feel like it degrades cinema as pure entertainment, whilst these pieces are 'actually' art. Often, I believe, the lines blur. This piece is not to be viewed in a cinema. This piece is an example of how video-installations differ and that the video presents something that, though it is film, it is to awaken your senses to a different aspect to the medium. In this case adapting footage to a different intention - showing time and clocks tick by, across history, through multiple different people and situations. It is an impressive use of the material to be able to be adapted in such a way - organised in such a way. I managed to see the video pass through 4.30 and, I can imagine, as the time passes the half-hour and the hour, the situations become more heated simply due to their use of the time in the sequence - "for goddsake! I asked you to meet me at 4.30!". It is unlikely for someone to specify the time to the minute. To imagine that every half-hour, the sequences become more intense, only to simmer down again before the next half hour ticks by, again, is a master stroke on the part of the editors of the film.

This is an art piece that any and every film lover needs to hunt down and, once you have seen it, hunt it down again, at a different time.

I found one video that explains it a little more, but unfortunately it is merely a guy with a phone-camera in front of a TV-screen. At any rate, it helps you understand the art-piece that little bit more...

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A-Z #54 Crash

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#54 - Crash

Why did I buy it?
I had been desperate to see it ever since my younger brother Graham was raving about it - he had struck gold on one of his 'blind-cinema' viewings (he didn't wear a blindfold, he simply visited the cinema and randomly chooses a film he knows nothing about...). He constantly stated how incredible it is and when I saw the trailer I was especially interested - LA, ensemble-cast, socially relevant themes of racism and societal-problems... seemed especially good. It was inevitably that I, to paraphrase Cheadle, 'crash' into this film and see what it was all about.
Why do I still own it?

I won't lie - I am glad this won over Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback Mountain is a good film: it breaks boundaries in releasing such a mainstream film about such a contentious issue, it looked epic and sweeing in its romance and context. In fact, Brokeback Mountain is a great film. But Crash was not the favourite in the Oscars that year. Brokeback Mountain  was - and it was up against Spielberg's Munich, Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck, whilst the fifth nominee was Hoffman playing Capote. All the other films are much more Oscar-baiting (does that work?) than Crash. I like how it won and it beat all the odds. I like how a film with a Travis song on the closing credits won Best Picture. This is a film that is not a force to be reckoned with - its not 4-hours worth of Ben-Hur and Gone with the Wind. It is not the epic scale of Amadeus or Gandhi - so important because of who these people are in history. It is not huge-pans across large countries - New Zealand in The Return of the King or Texas in No Country for Old Men. Its not particularly profound - its just a bloody good film.

Should I sell it though?

Possibly on the basis that there is a better edition out ... should I upgrade is the proper question...

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, 11 March 2011

A-Z #53 Crash

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#53 - Crash 

Why did I buy it?

We all know about Crash, the original Crash. Opposed to the remake by Haggis (joking!). After a while, once you have heard all the twisted stories - cars, metal and sex... - you eventually think, sure, why not. I also read the BFI Modern Classic on the film and it was incredibly dense. Potentially, too much. At any rate, it was bought with the view that it is a 'classic' or 'essential'  film I should own!

Why do I still own it?

I have only watched it once, first off. It is twisted and truly messed-up - but not without an air of consistency. The themes that run through the film are consistent and relate sex and vehicles in a way that I dubt has existed before or since. The emotional attachment following an accident, the sexualised and erotic pleasures that cn be found through these attachments, the friends and people you meet when you explore this obsession and attraction. I don't deny how strange it is, but I feel that after a few watches, I will understand the attraction people have to the film. Some people rate Cronenberg on the strength of these films - Crash and Naked Lunch - opposed to the much-more commercially viable A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, which, in fairness, I do prefer.

Should I sell it though?

Mayb I am fooling myself - trying to be the cool-kid-who-loves-the-weird-shit - and I should give up the ghost and sell the film without any thought for the potentially all-important, second watch.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A-Z #52: The Counterfeiters

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#52 - The Counterfeiters 

Why did I buy it?

Alas, I did not. It is Sarahs. The premise of Concentration Camps and False Cash sounded especially intriguing when first purchased. Additionally, the film won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars for 2007 and, interestingly, is a fictionalised account of an actual Nazi plan to flood Britain with fake notes in 1939.

Why do I still own it?

Again, I can't sell it because it is not mine to sell, but I doubt I would sell it even if it was. Too often international films get neglected and I think my film collection, though diverse, still has a huge divide between what is and is not "films in the English Language". I think this is my primary motive for keeping hold of it - to diversify my collection. There are many other German films in my collection - Nosferatu, Run Lola Run, Downfall to name a few - but, from what I recall, this is a film of exceptionally high-quality and, for all its faults, it is ultimately better than the vast majority of films released each year. Is it really that bad that I should not own a copy?
Also, the Nazi in Inglourious Basterds who works out that Fassbender is a spy appears in this film and he truly is a great actor: August Diehl (who looks exceptionally tired in his IMDB picture...)

Should I sell it though?
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A-Z #51: The Constant Gardener

You can pick up hundreds of DVD's for a round-pound each - it doesn't matter. Its never about quantity, its about quality. A-Z is my way of going through my collection, from A-Z, and understanding why I own the films ... or you can tell me why I should sell 'em

#51 - The Constant Gardener 

Why did I buy it?

I didn't. It was a present. Thanking You Rachel and Richard. Following City of God, an incredible Brazilian film which we shall get ... woah ... I just realised that I don't own City of God. Shit. I must buy that. I know I bought it at some point. Methinks it is one of many films that I lent out and it was never returned. Damn. Nevertheless, it is based on a John Le Carre novel and was a huge part of the Academy Awards season for 2005.

Why do I still own it?

I have only watched it once and we can categorise this film in the 'can't-remember-much-about-it' category. I remember thinking it was good enough to keep - and I loved the cast: Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes amongst others. But I really cannot remember enough to give it a fair analysis. Now this is where these posts justifying my collection really come into play -  if I cannot remember enough to state whether it is good or bad and it has not passed into the film-history-vocab I think the only thing I have is a film worth a re-evaluation. And that, in itself, is why I have kept the film.

Am I holding out to spend 2-hours to simply decide that it is not worth keeping?
Large Association of Movie Blogs