Pixar Day

Had a bit of an accident this morning, got knocked off my bike on the way to work. I’m fine, but my bike’s wrecked, and I was confined to the sofa for the day, and couldn’t think of a better way to cheer myself up than watching nothing but Pixar films, and all off the list!
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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

 Benjamin Button is stuck in the shadow of Forrest Gump, a film that has cornered the market on tales of the highlights of a man’s life, and how the world’s history has at times affected it. Button does not do much for itself to help this matter, mirroring Gump on many factors, such as a stint on a boat, involvement in a military conflict, a long lost love. The main difference, and it is one that should have separated Button far more than it did, is that the main character is born an old man, and grows progressively younger, the curious case from the title. Being in the title of the film would lead you to believe that it is this case that the tale would be about, yet it is retained to simply being a plot device, driving the plot rather than being the centre of it. Also, the characters lack of interest in Button’s extraordinary affliction annoyed me intensely, as did the lack of any real explanation as to how such a condition could arise.

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As promised, all films watched have now been blogged, and I’ve even gone back through all the existing ones and given them a rating out of 10, and suggested whether you should watch them (choose film) or not (choose life). Alas, I’m getting a little behind on the list, I think I’m 3 or 4 films back from where I should be at this moment in time, but I’ll try and get on top of that. Hopefully I’ll cross off at least one, if not two films later today. Easter weekend and the upcoming bank holidays should help out immensely though.

I’ve been thinking about saving some films for specific events though. Not just the obvious, watching It’s A Wonderful Life and Die Hard around Christmas, Halloween on Halloween, but things like having a Star Wars marathon (Episodes 1, 3, 4, 5 & 6 all appear in the list, though annoyingly my favourite is 2) on May the 4th one year (Star Wars day, look it up!), and saving Back to the Future 1 & 2 (I’ll probably chuck 3 on the pile as well, it’s fun) for October 21st 2015, the day Marty, Doc and Jennifer arrive in the future, just because I’d probably watch those films that day anyway. I may have to think up some more of these…

Battleship Potemkin

Famous for the pram rolling down a staircase, famously ‘homaged’ (stolen?) by Brian de Palma in the Untouchables and parodied in the Naked Gun series, Battleship Potemkin is a silent film about the crew of a Russian battleship who mutiny over the poor food, ultimately causing a mass revolution. There are certain images from the film that are more well known than the film itself – the meat crawling with maggots, the hordes of people mourning the death of a man “killed for a plate of soup” and of course the Odessa staircase scene, that the rest of the film is lost between these set pieces. I think that there are supposed to be parallels between the plot and the Russian revolution, but I’m afraid I don’t know my Russian history as well as is required to appreciate these, so this went over my head a little.
Choose Life. 5/10

The Terminator

Film night strikes again with the Terminator. This is a film that is so deeply ingrained within popular culture that I cannot remember the first time that I saw it, and probably did not even realise it was my first time then, as the character is so well known, from the way he moves to his handful of lines of dialogue, but I tried to watch it afresh, as though it was 1984 and I’d wandered blindly into a cinema and sat down. The most surprising thing I found was that there is no indication that Schwarzenegger is a cyborg until about 45 minutes into the films, though it is now the most famous aspect of the film. Up until Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) tells Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) that he is a robot sent from the future to kill her, preventing the birth of her son and therefore the revolution against the cyborgs that he will eventually cause, we only assume that Schwarzenegger is just a specially trained, seemingly unstoppable killer, possibly a soldier or hitman of some kind. Yes there are some hints; his stiff-legged walking and even stiffer speech mannerisms, but at the time no-one would have been expecting anything more acting-wise from the former bodybuilder. 


Unbreakable is essentially an anti-superhero movie, taking many of the genres staples and applying them to a real-life thriller, years before Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman franchise with his realistic and plausible worldview. The hero, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has alliterative initials (Bruce Banner/Peter Parker/Clark Kent), wears a hooded cloak and has a penchant for posing in the rain with a bright light behind him, illuminating a stark silhouette on the screen, yet unlike most comic book heroes, when he tries to chat up a girl (after slyly removing his wedding ring) the attempt fails. That never happened to Tony Stark.  The film is even shot like a comic book, with the aforementioned chat up routine swaying from person to person between seats on a train, and many scenes utilising one bright colour, such a bright orange boiler suit, contrasting against the surrounding dreary muted blacks, browns and greys.
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My God I’m getting bad at this, haven’t posted in almost a week, sorry, life’s been winning lately. Promise, there’ll be a few posts coming this weekend (I’ve watched Unbreakable, Un Chien Andalou, The Terminator and Battleship Potemkin, but yet to post), and I’m also going to go back through the films I’ve already watched and add a little rating of ‘Choose Film’ or ‘Choose Life’ as to whether you should watch them or not. But right now I’ve got to go to sleep, got work in the morning. Night.

Portal 2

Let’s take a moment to stop watching films off the life-impeding list, and talk about video games. Although I don’t get to play on the PS3 as often as I’d like, when I do I like nothing better than to settle down with a bout of Portal (or Half Life 2) widely believed to be one of the greatest computer games of all time. A sequel has been supposedly in development for many, many agonising years, and now it would appear that a release date has been set. “But wait!” I hear you cry, “surely this is a blog about films? I mean, the blog has the word ‘film’ in it, and every post to date has mentionned nothing but them!” and yes, I would admit that you are correct, but I feel this post complies within these rules, as recently it was announced that Portal 2 will feature the voiceovers of both Stephen Merchant and, epicly, J.K. Simmons, one of my favourite character actors, of whom I have been a fan from his work in the Spiderman films and the work of Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In the Air). Upon it’s release (April this year, but I think that’s just in America) you can expect my Challenge watching to decrease for a little while, but fear not, I shall do my best to keep watching and letting you know if they’re any good or not, as well as probably updating you on the hopefully-awesome game.

The Pianist

The Pianist tells the story of Wladyslaw Spzilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jewish pianist during the years of the Nazi regime. He and his family are forced to move to a small flat in a poor area behind a wall, forced to walk in the street and dance for the amusement of the Nazis. When his family are taken away to a concentration camp, Spzilman manages to escape and must live as a fugitive in a society refusing to accept Jews as real people.
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