Film watch diary

HUD (TV, Martin Ritt, 1963)
Enjoyed, bit reminiscent of THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (although obviously made much earlier), good if slightly obvious study of old vs new, tradition vs modern society etc.  One particularly impressive scene between Newman and the family maid/aka maternal role model character brimming with sexual tension, when they are flirting in her room - shows how much you can convey whilst doing so little! 

SKELETONS (DVD, Nick Whitfield, 2010)

Interesting, oddball film – very British, very unusual, similar-ish vein to WITHNAIL AND I (although still very different – hard to find something close for comparison).  Definitely worth a watch as an interesting new example of British cinema.

13 ASSASSINS (CINEMA, Takashi Miike, 2010)

Enjoyed this very much, rip-roaring Samurai – although I think I enjoyed the ‘serious’ first half of the film, with the story and build-up to the fight more than the gigantic action sequence itself.  Very good and well-executed but this it would have been better without the ‘Boars on fire’ and a couple of the more far-fetched elements, although the element of surprise (for the audience as well as the group’s enemies) was good fun.

TRADING PLACES  (TV, John Landis, 1983)

I enjoyed rewatching this (seen SO many times before but not for a number of years) a slightly embarrassing amount, and chortled out loud, even though I knew what was coming.  Main guilty pleasure – the whole train costume party scene + gorilla gags towards the end *grin*.

MARY AND MAX (TV, Adam Elliot, 2009)

Wonderfully simple and touching – and made me cry a couple of times.  A surprising amount of background references to bodily functions and sexual connotations which, in a story about a pen-friendship between a young girl and a much older man, odd that this isn’t addressed more directly in places. I guess it shows that even though they ARE just friends, that question isn’t entirely out of the filmmakers’ minds, although some references feel a bit inappropriate, unnecessary or misplaced in what is essentially a story of platonic innocence.

THE DENTIST  (TV, Brian Yuzna, 1996)

Surprised I haven’t seen this before!  Proper old school horror, very amusing, with some very of of-its-time uncomfortable sexual violations, plenty of boobies for the boys. Has dated quickly – a very young Mark Ruffalo in there for good measure, a genuinely nasty psychotic dentist played by Corbin Bernsen.  A *shudder* at the thought of him suggests job well done in this film!  Now I need to see THE DENTIST 2!

WIN WIN (CINEMA, Thomas McCarthy, 2011)

I actually had higher hopes for this – enjoyed it but hoped for more of an unusual indie film rather than what played out as a fairly obvious made-for-TV-esque redemption drama.  Alex Shaffer was the best cast with a well-understated performance.  Normally love Paul Giamatti, but felt this was a bit by-the-numbers for him, and supporting characters (esp. the best friend Bobby Cannavale) felt very like very two dimensional caricatures.


Respectable fun horror! It was interesting – good use of the council estate setting and ‘yoof’ perspective – gang felt very ‘lived in’ and believable – just a couple of qualms – a few bits of rather cringeworthy dialogue in places (“This is too much madness for just one text!”) – the film would have been much better I think if they’d just played the whole thing straight rather than trying to inject too many moments of comedy here and there, as it just fell a bit flat for me in some places. A refreshing British attempt at horror though, lots of fun, will survive re-watches easily – also I think an 18 rating would have been better than a 15. Much better if they’d just gone for it whole hog as full-on horror.

Quick note re: TV – has anyone else been watching THE NIGHT SHIFT Icelandic ‘sitcom’ of sorts, on BBC4?  Bloody marvellous.

recent films I’ve seen…

Please ignore poor grammar etc. here – this is in note form for myself and future reference.  Thanking you for your forgiveness in advance.

THE APPLE (DVD, Samira Makhmalbaf, 1998) Stunning, simple and engaging piece of Iranian cinema. Follows the true story of two young girls, kept locked in their house by their parents for all of their eleven years until the neighbours enlist the intervention of social services. Made all the more stunning by the director being only about 19 years of age herself at the time, and the cast comprises the actual family members playing themselves!

SCREAM 4 (Cinema, Wes Craven, 2011)  Meh.

HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER (Cinema, Aleksei Popogrebsky, 2010) Soporific Russian film based on a desolate arctic scientific base – beautiful landscapes, the camera takes its time throughout to soak up the vista and atmosphere.  A great character piece between two men of different generations, working together , and turning against each other in what becomes a tense survival thriller.  I found I became fascinated with what must be going on in the characters’ heads, my own guesswork becoming a key part of this film experience.  Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, as it may prove too slow and ponderous for some, but the tense psychology of the latter parts of the film, also turning into somewhat of a survival drama play out beautifully and in a moving fashion against the fascinating polar surroundings.

MON ONCLE (DVD rewatch, Jacques Tati, 1958)  GLORIOUS as ever, gentle chortling a-plenty.

SHADOW (Cinema, Federico Zampaglione, 2009)  Very silly yet nasty horror – young soldier from Iraq goes off somewhere in Europe (?) mountain biking, meets a girl and some redneck hunter types, chase ensues, then mysterious Nazi mansion experiment horror dude does his stuff.  A bit juvenile fanboy horror in places, eyelid slicing scene which genuinely made me squirm a bit and hope that it wouldn’t turn into a torture porn epic.  Takes itself a little too seriously  – gets a bit silly and a ridiculous ‘twist’ cop-out ending which I’d guessed (and hoped wouldn’t happen) earlier in the film.  A decent giggle though.

THE KILLING FIELDS (TV rewatch  Roland Joffé, 1984)

One of those films I’ve seen in bits over the years on TV and never sat down to ‘properly’ until now.  It was worth it – moving, made me cry a number of times (but perhaps due to being a parentof a small child lowering my tolerance to seeing injured war-torn children?).  I wouldn’t say it was the best MADE film I’ve ever seen, but the subject matter and story were gripping, frustrating (intentionally) and upsetting (intentionally).  Also good to see Spalding Gray in this every time, who gives a fascinating behind the scenes account of this experience in his one-man-stage-show-film SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA.

MY DOG TULIP (Cinema, Paul FierlingerSandra Fierlinger, 2009)  Wonderful animation (amazingly none of it was animated on paper, despite looking very hand drawn/paper textured in places).  Lovely use of mixed media, a heartwarming account of J.R.Ackerley’s relationship with his dog (all the more moving knowing his unfulfilled romantic life as a closeted? homosexual).  Much detail of Tulip’s bowel movements is, at turns, too much information and highly entertaining – especially following her exploits in attempts to mate her.  Christopher Plummer’s narration is wonderful and perhaps my favourite thing about the film.

Paris Je T’aime (DVD rewatch, 20 directors inc. Sylvain Chomet, Coen Bros., Wes CravenGérard Depardieu, Gus Van Sant, Gurinder Chadha, 2006)

Watched again as recently visited Paris again and enjoyed this when I saw it at the cinema.  I’d forgotten just how many different segments there are in this film – a number of glimpses into romantic stories based in Paris of many different kinds – some funny, some odd, some sad.  A section by Walter Salles I find moving (a young immigrant woman sings lovingly to her baby before taking it to a rather clinical daycare centre before a long commute to the home of her employer, where she sings the same lullaby to her charge with a distracted countenance).    The Coens’ section is ‘cute’ and amusing starring Steve Buscemi as a tourist, another section towards the end (I forget which director) is also funny and melancholic, following a middle aged female American tourist following her travel aspirations.  There’s a slightly silly vampire tale from  Vincenzo Natali starring Elijah Wood and a moment of levity from Wes Craven with a visit from Oscar Wilde’s ghost in Pere Lachaise.  Gus Van Sant’s tale of one young man talking to another, whom he considers his potential soulmate (not realising the other speaks no French) is one of my favourite (least favourite perhaps  Tom Tykwer‘s section starring Natalie Portman as an aspiring actress from the point of view of her sightless boyfriend – just falls a bit flat).  An interesting experiment in bringing tales from a number of diverse filmmakers together under one umbrella of romantic Paris.  Lovely, but no earth-shatterer – for Paris-based films, I prefer its contemporaries such as Christophe Honore’s DANS PARIS, Julie Delpy’s 2 DAYS IN PARIS, or even Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNSET.  Also Bertolucci’s THE DREAMERS.