There were few film critics as good as Roger Ebert. He was an influence on millions, myself included, and was probably the best known critic in not just America, but the world. Ask any amateur film critic who their idols are, and his name would more than likely come up.
The Naughty Room is local musician/film-maker Cosmo Jarvis’s film debut.
I, like most right-minded human beings on this planet, adore Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather and Godfather Part 2. I love them. All I need to see is Bonasera proclaiming ‘I believe in America’ and I’m away. Absorbed.
Director Wes Anderson supposedly styled this tale of eloping twelve year olds after elements of his own youth, and that comes as the film’s motif; about children, made by adults, and for adults.
This is the most hyped, anticipated, expected, awaited and pushed film of the year, bar none. The only film that comes close to this is the Avengers, in terms of sheer hype.
You’d be hard pushed to find someone at the moment who isn’t aware of the Avengers movie. Everywhere you look, from the IMDb top 250 to the sides of buses, you will see the Avengers. In truth, it was a little hard to know what to expect; on the one hand, this could be the same but bigger, with Iron Man, Thor, et al just doing their individual bit and leaving. On the other hand, this could have been something a bit more complex, a film that explores relationships within the group and ditches the recent Blockbuster conventions to deliver something deeper, that does justice to the decades of character that sprung from this film’s source, the Stan Lee Marvel comics.
Presumably, a lot of eyes were rolled when this film was released onto the unsuspecting public. Taking a well-known historical figure and placing him in a film with some kind of contemporary twist has never, ever ended well for anyone (take Churchill, The Hollywood Years).
This is one of those films you probably haven’t heard of, that remains obscure despite its big name cast (Hilary Swank and Patrick Swayze), and that is actually quite good. I watched it with the thought in my head that it’s a damn shame this wasn’t caught up by more people. It is an original and darkly funny little gem, mining the vein opened by Tarantino in intertwining stories and off the wall characters, and it overcomes its flaws with boldness.
When people talk about Paul Thomas Anderson (who is surely one of the best directors alive today) they think of There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, etc. All great films, most of which are worthy of the title ‘masterpiece’. Yet one film is invariably left unspoken of, and that is Hard Eight, his little-known, much-maligned first feature, which I’m told was riddled with studio interference.
The Devil Inside begins with an unnecessarily expository sequence showing the gratuitous aftermath of the killing of three people. In a horrendously jarring faux documentary style, the camera lurches from body to body, before the killer, a possessed woman called Maria, leaps at the camera in what I roughly perceived to be a ‘jump’ moment. But to jump would suggest a build-up of tension, which in turns shows some technical skill, and this dreadful film has none of those things in any measure.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a thoroughly charming and delightfully British effort, will no doubt become a stalwart of the Christmas and Boxing day rituals of years to come. It emanates goodwill out of every pore, with its delightful story of people at retirement age taking a trip to India to see the eponymous hotel in India, and finding it to be falling apart at the seams, as its manager, Sonny (Dev Patel), tries to make ends meet.
Upon hearing of the remake, and being slightly aware of the influence and fanbase of this film, I finally made a conscious decision to watch it. It’s the Anime that non-Anime fans like, up there with Spirited Away, a massively popular piece of cyberpunk/science fiction/nihilistic/post apocalyptic cinema that transcends most genres and becomes a work of it’s own. Not just an excellent Anime, but an excellent movie: one that anybody with an appreciation of good movies can enjoy.
This slender, slight film seems destined to pick up quite a few Oscars, and by the time you’re reading this, it probably has. I can see why. Even from the synopsis alone, you can tell it’s Oscar bait. A film about a silent movie star who fails to make the leap to talkies, and finds his career coming to a standstill while the girl he helped make it to the big screen overtakes him as the biggest talking movie star on the planet. And it’s predominantly silent, and in black and white.
I am not the world’s biggest fan of documentaries, much though it shames me to say it. I often find them dry and uninteresting. I can’t invest in them in the same way I would with a fictional film. Unless it’s related specifically to something I am interested in personally, you’ll have to try very hard to get me to watch one.
This film is many things. It’s atmospheric, tense, well made, it looks very good indeed, and it has a number of set-pieces that are on a par with the ones in Paranormal Activity. The director James Watkins has made this, when he wants it to be, genuinely scary, which is a rarity these days. When the film is inside the haunted house, it is very impressive, up there with such films as The Others.
This is the final part of Kieslowski’s masterful Three Colours Trilogy, and continues the high quality of the first two instalments. Some might argue that it’s better. For me (and I hate to do this in such an arbitrary manner) it is just a notch below Blue and a little bit above White. The plot is ambiguous to the point where it is irrelevant/non-existent, even more so than the other two, but the performances are stellar, and the conclusion is one of the most stirring, electrifying finales in cinematic history.
The second part of Krzystof Kieslowski’s seminal trilogy is his ‘funny one’. It tells the story of a man who has been put down, let down, and betrayed for his entire life, and how he turns his life around. It’s less ‘deep’ than the other films in the trilogy, and is thus the easiest to understand (whether that’s good or bad remains a matter of personal preference: some would argue that not understanding is the point), but it is also the most touching, and is laugh-out-loud funny in places. The imagery remains razor-sharp (the bird excreting on him at the beginning), and some of the shots are ‘pause the DVD and take it all in’ beautiful. It is a fine continuation of the saga.
Here is a film that is unique; a film in which beauty bleeds from every frame. A film in which you get involved. A film in which you care for the characters. It is a true film, that has a lot to say, and is relentless in its splendour. This is a film that dares to go to places others wouldn’t dream of. It captured my imagination for the one-and-a-half glorious hours I sat and watched it for, and made me miss it once it was over. It creates an entire universe, a truly glorious universe, in which sad and wonderful things happen, and you feel like you are enriched for having visited it.
This is a film that knows how to create characters. Intelligent ones. Of all the great things about Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (of which there are many), for me the single greatest is that it has characters who know about psychology, and philosophy, and who are intellectual, and interesting to listen to. And it is also one of the most real, tenderly played love stories of its time. It’s also savagely funny, with Allen’s screaming wit providing a narration, and thus a spine, to the film.
Gus van Sant’s film, about the Columbine massacre, is a film that is aware of how disturbing the content and subject matter is, so makes no attempts to dress it up. This makes it more and less powerful at the same time.
Almost Famous is an absolute joy from start to finish, a thoroughly enjoyable, funny, emotional, and true film, with incredible performances from everyone involved, a plot that stays on just the right side of plausible, and a really good soundtrack as well (what else do you expect from a Cameron Crowe film?). It is compelling, real, and I can’t recommend it enough. As a film for someone my age, it is perfect. As a film for anyone else, it is perfect as well.
Run hyper-kinetic German film from 1998 is pretty fast. The premise, in which a woman has to find a lot of German money within 20 minutes, is a clever one: the movie plays out in real time with three different variations on the story, which show a lot of different ways the story could have panned out. All three follow the same structure, but they all have different outcomes, and watching how these outcomes appear is a mesmerizing joy.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is just about the prettiest film you’ll ever see. The opening title credits could be nicked from Amelie, and in fact both films share the same kind of heart. It made me cry, laugh, but most of all it made me feel.
Somers Town, a magical coming-of-age film, directed in glorious monochrome by Shane Meadows, was criminally ignored on its first release. It is funny, sad and uplifting, but I guess people were put off by the subject matter. It is a film that deserves to be seen, and while it was never going to win major awards (it did respectable business at a few smaller film festivals), it deserved to find an audience bigger than the one it actually got.
I have not seen that many silent films, I’ll admit, but with the original Nosferatu, you almost forget there’s no sound. The silent era was an era where the set-piece would often be the only real reason to watch a film: the Odessa Steps sequence in Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin springs to mind.