Caught Up!

Oh dear God I’m amazing. You may have noticed a surge in posts of late, the reason beign that I’ve managed to catch up with all the posts that are overdue, all the films I needed to watch and even crossing the films off the lists here on the blog. The last few days have been pretty hectic, with sleep being missed and the gym neglected (fairly sure I’ve gained about half a stone in the past week, typing is not very good exercise) but it’s worth it because I’m back on top after about six months of being behind.


I’ll not be resting on my laurels for long either. Tomorrow I intend to both watch a film and post about it IN THE SAME DAY, as well as going to the gym, cooking a decent meal and quite possibly updating the statistics page that hasn’t been touched in over 100 films. You should also look out on Friday and Monday for new weekly features I intend to introduce, a Top 5 list (I know, the originality of it almost knokced me out too) and on Monday a Best Non-List Film of the Week, because there are more than 1,328 films out there, I watch tthem too, and some of them need to be discussed. Unless I watch something truly amazing over the weekend, Monday’s film will be the Muppets, which will probably only be in cinemas for a couple more days I think, so nip out now (or tomorrow, it’s pretty late) if you want to see it on the big screen.


So, yay me! I’m off to bed to sleep the sleep of the not-behind.

The Docks of New York

One of the last films to be made before the invention of the talkie, The Docks Of New York sees hulking, tattooed ship stoker Bill docking into port one night. He saves the suicidal Nell from drowning, steals her some dry clothes and, almost on a whim, marries her in the bar that night. The morning arrives with a stark clarity, as Bill intends to head back out to sea.
 
The plot is boring and predictable – there’s even a last ditch attempt to save the girl after she gets in trouble with the authorities over her new duds, but there’re some hilarious – though possibly unintentional – lines of dialogue: “I’ve sailed the seven seas, but I’ve never seen a craft as trim as yours” Bill tells his new bride-to-be.
 
Choose life 4/10

Brick

Recent years have seen seemingly exhausted classic genres being reinvigorated by big name directors and classy films, just look at the recent slew of westerns, or the amount of pictures throwing back not just their topics, but how the films have been made to more classic times. Hell, this year’s Oscars were dominated by a silent film and a film about the birth of cinema. Yet one classic genre remains relatively untouched, possibly because in 2005 first time feature director Rian Johnson updated the film noir template so pitch perfectly that no other films have been needed.

With closed eyes, Brick could quite easily take place amongst a myriad of smoke-filled bars, pool halls and rain-lashed phone booths, yet the action here has been transposed to a modern day high school, and in place of a perma-smoking Humphrey Bogart we’ve Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Brendan, finding his ex-girlfriend (Lost’s Emilie de Raven) face down in the mouth of a tunnel, and he is eager to find out why, regardless of how beaten up by jocks, thugs and car doors he becomes. Granted, there’s not really enough rain for it to be a traditional noir, but there’s plenty of secrecy, rich beautiful dames with brandy decanters in ostentatious mansions, moody shadows and an easily dismissed average Joe acting as gum shoe, sticking his nose in where most feel it has no business.
It’s not short on laughs – JG-L flounders like the best of them and his conversation with the principal is comedy gold, played spot-on like a detective berating his chief of police, and the final act wrap-up is gratefully received, for much of the highly quotable dialogue is sometimes too dense to catch.
Choose film 8/10

The Fountain

One love story is told across three wildly different time periods as Tom (Hugh Jackman) tries to cure his wife Izzy (Rachel Weisz) of her life threatening disease. Told in the modern day, Elizabethan era and a space-set future time, the film is beautifully shot and lit, effects created using different liquids dispersing into one another to create timeless yet phenomenal scenes. The story strands flow into one another, as the modern day surgeon struggles for a cure, a historic conquistador seeks to discover the fountain of youth and the slap-headed space traveller floats inside a giant bubble talking to – and occasionally eating –  a tree. If this all sounds a little too much for you, you’re not alone, as this is a polarising film that many dismissed for being just too odd. The modern day segments are the easiest to follow, with a straightforward narrative, relatable characters and situations requiring minimal explanation. Director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) alas does not have much of an eye for combat, with some of the past tense skirmishes coming across muddled and confusing, but otherwise this is a creative and visually stunning depiction of an otherwise done to death story.

Choose film 7/10

Hairspray

No, not John Travolta in a fat suit, a sight so diabolical not even Christopher Walken can save it, but the 1988 John Waters original, in which real life transvestite Divine, a Waters regular, plays severely overweight Edna Turnblad, mother of also rotund Tracey, who watches and dances along to the Corny Collins show every day on TV. Tracey is jealous of the more attractive (as in slimmer) dancers picked to perform on the show, especially bitch council member Amber, who dissolves into a flap-handed tizzy when she discovers a pimple. When Tracey is sent to a special class at school because her hair is too high (seriously) she learns how to dance with the segregated black kids that have been banned from the show except for one day a month for Negro Day. The film is intolerably cheesy and often stupid (using a psychiatrist to make a white girl not love a black boy), and does not help the racial stereotyping it tries to prevent, with one black woman talking only in rhymes.

Choose life 5/10

Cabaret

Berlin, 1931. Liza Minnelli is a performer with several other near-transvestites in the filthy Kit Kat Klub. English teacher Michael York rents a room at the same house as Minnelli, and the two apparently hit it off, but the actors have such appalling chemistry its hard to tell. Minnelli’s Sally Bowles is amorous and self important, discussing only herself and is fully aware of the state her body is supposedly able to drive men to (though I don’t see it myself), whilst York is either dry or drunk, there is no middle ground. There are failed attempts to mine humour and songs about a man sleeping with two women and having a relationship with a gorilla, but the only song that’s any good is the closing Cabaret.

Choose life 3/10

Atonement

Based on the book of the same name that swept the country a few years ago, Atonement tells the story of Briony in three stages of her life, as a young writer in her parents stately manor in the early 30s (Saoirse Ronan), training to become a nurse during World War 2 (Romola Garai) and much later, releasing a book on the subject as an old woman (Vanessa Redgrave), cut the story she tells is not only her own, but that of Cecilia and Robbie (Keira Knightley and James McAvoy), her older sister and their gardener.

A childhood misunderstanding of several events lad Briony to make a rash decision she would live to deeply regret, for its consequences had the very real possibility of being incredibly dire. Whilst beautifully shot in every scene, most notably the standout 5 minute continuous steadicam sequence as three soldiers (including Ashes to Ashes’ Daniel Mays) discover a war ravaged beach complete with hundreds of extras, horses and a funfair making the film worthwhile on its own, the film does not quite have the right mix of war and romance to attract both genders, focussing more on the females than males, yet there is still plenty to keep all engaged, and at times agog.
Choose film 7/10