Saturday, 4 February 2012

February movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on the IMDB.

TrollHunter (2010) 5
Stupid film about Trolls in modern day Norway that bored me, despite one funny scene with Trolls farting!
I really love the Almodovar films from the last 20 years, but this disappointed. It's a cruel story that doesn't have any 'good' characters.

A classic film that left me cold. Unbelievable and the characters were annoying. You could easily tell it was once a play - too many long monologues.
Melancholia (2011) 5
A very strange film. I'm not sure what I can say without spoiling it. It's a character drama, sci-fi and arthouse movie all rolled into one!

Zelig (1983) 6
I want to like Woody Allen films and there are a couple that work well. The ones in recent years have been amateurish and cliched. This one is extremely weird and would have been brilliant if it were a 30 minute production.

Could have been a very good film - but the characters didn't quite work for me.

Far better than the 2001 film, but was still missing something - but I am not quite sure what. The ending was set for a sequel in a very obvious way.

My favourite Carry On film (along with Carry On Abroad). Silly, funny and quite different from the others - features the great Harry H Corbett.

Gripping drama about a guy who makes a serious mistake and has to change his life completely.

The Smurfs (2011) 7
My memory of Smurfs goes back to the National Garage days when you could buy the little characters. OK, it's a kids film, but it's actually funny and has some great lines.

Well made, but dragged at the end. If you've seen the first one, this is the same, but the story is just slightly different.


  1. I'll come back to you about these, Stephen. Seen six from this list - rather more than from your January blog (hence absence of comment there). But wanting to make it worth your trouble I'll gather my thoughts first and then post.

  2. I haven't seen most of the movies you mention. I have to say I liked 'the skin I live in'. OK, not as much as other of his movies, but I believe it deserves more than a 5. :-)

  3. I've seen half a dozen of these and there may not be another film which we've both seen where our opinions diverge so much as one of them.

    If I were to list my Top 50 all-timers it would, without question, include 'Virginia Woolf' - which could well also be in my best-ever TWENTY!
    Watching R.B. & E.T. essentially playing out their own lives' love-hate relationship is so compelling it gives me a guilty 'glow' in spectating at their viciousness, knowing exactly where to hurt each other most, spitting their verbal poisons at each other as well as at their guests (both George Segal and Sandy Dennis rising well to the challenge) and when they do smile it's through gritted teeth on the verge of cracking. The reconciliation of the two at the end is particularly heart-breaking as we all know that very soon they'd be clawing at each others' faces again.

    Despite the spectacular presence of the two stars (already the world's most famous married couple well before the film was made), this is one of those films where at least another of the true 'stars' was the screenplay (other films that come to mind which I'd similarly classify would be 'Network' and 'Glengarry Glen Ross' - the latter actually expanded out from the stage play, unusual for a film.)
    Yes, 'Virginia' is long and it does betray its origins, but the original play is half as long again - as well as all taking place within one room!
    I would concede that the film might not have worked quite so well for me if it did not have this particular stellar couple in it. But I have no doubt it would hold up very well indeed just the same. I think it's a truly great play.

    Incidentally Edward Albee has been asked many times if what he wrote had the couple as a gay-male sub-text but because of the unenlightened times......etc. He totally denied that, saying that if he had wanted to write about a gay couple he would have done so. I find this a bit disingenuous because, if he had written it as so, hardly anyone at that time would have dared to have staged it - a guaranteed failure!)

    I could go on longer about this film but maybe that's for another blog of my own.
    Of course it's not to everybody's taste, but one's own response is conditioned by one's personal experiences and conditioning. I certainly wouldn't decry anyone saying they don't like it, find it boring, unbelievable etc. That's their privilege.

    So using your whole-number scoring system, Stephen, I would award it an 8, at the very least. On my own half-point splitting it gets a rare (from me) 8.5.

    Now jumping to the Sherlock Holmes, I'd give this just a fair '5'. I don't know if it's because I belong to a pre-computer (-games?) generation but I found all that tricksy camera-work gave me visual fatigue (in much the same way that I quickly tire when watching the Harry Potters).
    Both these Holmes films seem to use the two characters and its early setting as a flimsy pretext on which to hang a story as un-Doyles-ian in denouement as one could imagine. Ritchie might as well just have had two different characters working in partnership in a detective agency as rivals to Holmes and Watson. (I hardly dare think the thought that there are younger film-goers around who will forever associate the names of the fictional Holmes & Watson withe these two films!)
    Having said all that I wouldn't UNrecommend the film(s), recognising that others could derive more pleasure than I did - which itself wasn't negligible.


  4. .....cont'd

    'The Skin I Live In' - although I like Almadovar, I've never quite understood the many who regard him as the best thing since sliced bread. Having seen every one of his films (I think) on the cinema screen I don't think there's even one of them I'd enthusiastically watch again.
    But this 'Skin' was disturbing. Also, yes, 'cruel' is right. I think it's his best film to date. I found it also quite brave in that, as you say, there was no one with whom would could truly sympathise, which is difficult to bring off for a a film which one ultimately likes.
    I'd give it an easy 7/10.

    'Melancholia' will, like just about all of Von Trier's films, linger in my mind long after others have faded from memory. I thought it was totally haunting, well acted and brilliantly executed - BUT why, oh why, did he have to keep repeating ad nauseam on the soundtrack the opening of Wagner's 'Prelude und Liebestod'. Twice would have been sufficient but at thrice it became an irritant - and thus distracting. After that I wished I'd had ear-plugs!
    But that's about my only criticism. I loved the film as a whole - not quite permanently dented by the silly man's advocation of Nazi-ism, though that certainly does leave a nasty taste in the mouth. (Wear a gag next time, Lars!)
    I'd give the film a '7' as minimum - though an '8' is certainly possible.

    'Zelig' - often reckoned as one of Allen's better ones. I thought it was okay but could name at least a dozen of his which I'd prefer to watch again. Yes, 6 is fair.

    'Carry on Screaming' - (showing on ITV3 this very afternoon, I see).
    I was a great fan of the 'Carry On's as they were coming out - and still am, though one's perspective changes. (Hard to believe that when they were being released, one by one, when all cinemas in the 1960s were huge single-screen caverns, there were queues to get in which wound around the block!)

    All as corny as Kelloggs, of course.
    My own favourites were/are 'Camping' and 'Khyber' (the latter having the only non-weak ending of the series - though doesn't 'Screaming' end on Kenneth Williams sinking into the cauldron shouting "Frying tonight!"?

    What I really liked was the apparent 'gang-iness' of the films' cast, though it was only later we learned about the bitchiness between cast members and Williams' loathing of all the other men, Sidney James above all.
    I think I'm right in saying that 'Camping' is the one that has the highest number of 'regulars' in it. They are all there bar one - Jim Dale.
    As for 'Screaming' itself, although it is, like 'Cleo' quite highly regarded as far as the series goes, I think I might have put it in as around 5th or 6th best. (Don't ask!)

    So that's my contribution for this month, Stephen. You might well groan at some of comments, but groan away! As I never know which years' films you're going to pull out of the bag it's quite interesting to see what you're going to come up with in any month.
    But I'm sure that what you're watching during Feb will be worth a pithy or extended remark or two.

  5. I have a problem with films that used to be plays - The History Boys, The Shape of Things and... Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf!

    The structure of a play needs to be different to that of a film. I can see a play cum film a mile away: You speak, then I speak, then you speak, then I speak... long long monologues that don't work on film.

    Sorry Raybeard, but I was bored with the film due to the poor structure but especially the fact that, if you had some across this mad couple, you would have escaped in minutes and certainly wouldnt have put up with the insults.

  6. Yes, what you say in your last para is true - we don't want to be physically near a viciously-bickering couple in real life. However, the cinema-screen gives us a safe distance where we know we can't be drawn in ourselves (to state the obvious).
    As I say, one's views are all subjective anyway and I certainly don't think any less of you or your blog because we happen to disagree. In fact if I were to get round to posting my all-time Top 20 or 50 and you did the same, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find we did not having a single choice in common! I certainly wouldn't like anyone to think that I regard my own tastes as being superior to anyone else's.

    Btw: 'The History Boys' - though I wasn't lucky enough to see it on stage I do have a tape of that same original National Theatre production when it was broadcast on Radio 3. Must confess didn't care for it on first hearing. It seemed to lack the finely-drawn observations so typical of earlier Bennett. Then saw the film, which I really liked a lot. Then, on listening to the play again, its merits leaped out at me and now in both forms I rank it as quite an exceptional piece of work.