Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Feb 10 2009

Oscar Focus: Best Original Song

Published by under Blog,Movies,Music,Music Review

Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film – all major categories at the Annual Academy Awards Ceremony, but I always look forward to hearing who wins the Best Original Song. Last year, seeing Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová win for Falling Slowly was probably one of my favourite Oscar moments of all time. I was so proud and I had no idea why.


Glen Hansard and Marketa IrglovaBut that’s the joy of the Oscars – we become invested. People watch the red carpet’s catwalk, gawp at the clothes they could never possibly afford, laugh at the fashion faux pas, ogle Scarlett Johannson, await the arrival of TomKat and Branjelina, and then cheer on their favourite film, actor, star. The glitz and OTT Hollywood glamour are pivotal to the show’s success. And it is a show – it’s a long time since it’s been seen as a simple awards night. The comic host, the special guests, the gushing speeches and, of course, the music acts all combine to make it one of the most spectacular nights of the year.




It was the 7th Academy Awards before they introduced the Best Original Song category. In 1934, three songs were nominated: The Continental from The Gay Divorcee (innocent times) beat off competition from Carioca (Flying Down to Rio) and Love in Bloom (She Loves Me Not). The original requirement was that the nominated song appears in a motion picture during the previous year, regardless of when the song was written or whether it was written specifically for the film. The rule was changed after the 1941 Academy Awards to ensure that the song nominated must have been written for the film and not been recorded elsewhere prior to appearing in the film. It was this rule that brought into question the eligibility of Falling Slowly in last year’s Awards. Satisfied that the song was a pivotal element in the movie Once and that previous recordings of the song were not significant enough to break the rule, the judges allowed it through.


— Falling Slowly —




The 1930’s saw some now classic songs take the gong. Lullaby of Broadway (Gold Diggers of 1935), Over the Rainbow (Wizard of Oz) and When You Wish Upon a Star (Pinocchio) are still heard today and in 1938 Thanks for the Memories (The Big Broadcast) beat Jeepers Creepers (Going Places) for the Oscar.


— When You Wish Upon a Star —




The 1940’s stand out simply because of the sheer number of songs nominated each year. The first half of the 40’s saw an average of 10 songs a year up for the Award. Some significant losers include Baby Mine (Dumbo), Chattanooga Choo Choo (Sun Valley Serenade), That Old Black Magic (Star Spangled Rhythm) and Bibbidy-Bobbidi-Boo (Cinderella) while White Christmas (Holiday Inn), Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah (Song of the South), Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Neptune’s Daughter) and the fantastic and heavily covered Swinging On A Star (Going My Way) picked up the Oscars.


— Swinging on a Star —




The 1950’s were keeping a firm hold on old Hollywood. Show tunes, classic themes and love ballads were still all the rage. The Ballad of High Noon (High Noon), Secret Love (Calamity Jane) and Three Coins in a Fountain (Three Coins in a Fountain) were the best in the early 50’s while the latter half of the decade honoured Gigi (Gigi), the brilliant Que Sera Sera from The Man Who Knew Too Much and High Hopes from A Hole in the Head, made famous by Sinatra. High Hopes would be a strong contender for my favourite of all Oscar winning songs. 1955 saw a nomination but not a win for Unchained Melody from the film Unchained. Needless to say, this went on to be one of the most covered songs of the 20th century (all hail Robson and Jerome). 🙂 Incidentally, it lost out to the very twee Love is a Many Splendored Thing from the film of the same name.

— High Hopes —


— On to Page 2 of 3

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9 responses so far

Feb 02 2009

I’m Not There…And Neither Is Anyone Else

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

I'm Not ThereSo disinterested in this film, I find myself drawn to the laptop instead to surf the Internets. Trouble is, I have no internet connection, so what to do? I am doing the unprecedented – I am writing a negative review for my blog. I see a lot of films and I attend many events, I go out a lot and I have an active social life. Generally speaking, I only put the positives up on my blog with a few exceptions.

Tonight (Saturday 31st January), after watching a couple of excellent episodes of the new series of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, we (in truth, it’s less ‘we’ more ‘I’) decide to watch the Bob Dylan semi-biopic, I’m Not There. I was disappointed to miss it in the cinema and I just never got around to watching it until now. Ruminating on the story of Dylan’s life, the man’s emotional tale is told through six characters representing different stages of Dylan’s existence, including Richard Gere as Billy the Kid and Cate Blanchett as the drug addicted recording artist.

Oftentimes it’s been said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – in this case the whole is pretty poor when compared with what is ploughed into it. The acting is quite superb – in that Cate Blanchett plays a heartbreaking ‘Dylan’; the supporting cast give it their all, including a small but good turn from Dawson’s Creek and Brokeback Mountain‘s Michelle Williams and surprisingly striking performance from Bruce Greenwood as both Mr. Jones and a sympathetic Pat Garrett (the man who killed Billy the Kid). The cinematography is good – we are presented with some great shots from stark angles. The music is understandably perfect. The whole film is based upon the life of the most mysterious and fascinating of all singer-songwriters of the last century. And yet, despite all that is going for it, this film ends up as a too long, pretentious muddle. As I said to Lottie before she fell asleep from boredom, the film makers spent so much time making a clever movie, they forgot to make a good one.

Never create anything, it will be misinterpreted, it will chain you and follow you for the rest of your life.

I'm Not There


Playing the many faces of Dylan the film includes a dull performance which I’m thankful Heath Ledger will not be remembered for; I’ve mentioned Blanchett‘s understandably Oscar nominated role, but the two standout performances for me are from the young black ‘Dylan’ played by Marcus Carl Franklin and the underused Ben Whishaw as the poetic ‘Dylan’ who doesn’t get enough screen time at all. Richard Gere‘s performance is solid but heavily let down by the director’s attempt at making a western style Sam Peckinpah movie…minus the grit. Lastly, Christian Bale‘s performance in the film is largely pointless apart from the fact that he does a fine ‘political Dylan’ impression. Although this good performance is counteracted by the dismal take on the ‘born-again Dylan’.

It’s like you’ve got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room. There’s no telling what can happen.

The film closes with this line, as if it is offering some kind of explanation or even apology for all that has gone before. All I can say is exactly the same thing I say to anyone who apologises to me: Don’t say sorry, just don’t do it again.

3 responses so far

Jan 31 2009

Van Damme Day Afternoon

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

Over the Christmas break, I saw Dog Day Afternoon for the first time and loved it. Pacino was at his finest with his usual powerful energy, but with more control than he exerted later in his career. The film, which was more about celebrity culture than a botched bank heist, captured an era, captured a mindset and captured the imagination of its audience.


33 years later, the mussels from Brussels, Jean Claude Van Damme stars in his own twist on the classic heist scenario……and it’s actually pretty damme good.


JCVDOn B’dum‘s recommendation I picked up JCVD in HMV yesterday and, much to Lottie‘s initial chagrin, we sat down to watch it yesterday evening. Strangely, the first thing about the movie that stood out was the impressive, all in one shot, opening action scene finishing on a funny interplay between Van Damme and the Director. It was clear this was not going to be a regular action film, nor a regular Van Damme throwaway flick.


In Belgium having lost custody of his daughter, a penniless Jean Claude pops into a post office to receive a money transfer to pay for his legal fees and becomes the main protagonist in a heist. While Dog Day Afternoon focuses on picking apart the media and America’s obsession with ‘celebrity’ in the 70’s, JCVD is more interested in deconstructing the actual ‘movie star’. This post-modern thriller, writen and directed by Mabrouk El Mechri goes further than simply poking fun at the twilight years of a once massive Hollywood star – it bores deep and pulls apart his life, culminating in a soon-to-be-classic scene where Van Damme literally ascends out of his life to gave a truly emotional discourse on the nature of his current existence. Yes, Jean Claude Van Damme is philosophical, thoughtful, emotive and most of all, proves he can act.


JCVDThis film is no masterpiece but it does deserve some recognition. The ending doesn’t fit perfectly. It’s incongruent with the rest of the film and doesn’t give the final satisfaction I hoped for. That said, it does not take from the rest of the movie and as the credits rolled I found myself looking back over Van Damme’s impressive performance.


So, is this the start of Van Damme’s comeback? Perhaps! 2010 sees the teaming up of some of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, both former and present. Fan boys may be disappointed by the lack of violence and heavy action in JCVD, but The Expendables with Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke and Jason Statham, among others, looks like a crowd pleaser. It ill be iteresting to see the impact that movie makes.


To conclude the comparison between JCVD and Dog Day Afternoon, I’m not sure JCVD will stand the test of time as well as its 70’s counterpart, but at the moment, I’d rather sit down and watch Van Damme again first. This pacy, clever and very funny film is worth a look. I have it on DVD if anyone wants a loan. 🙂



9 responses so far

Jan 29 2009

Upcoming Movies In 2009

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

2009 is going to be a big year for movies. After a lacklustre 2008 (which saw only a handful of decent films grace the big screen), surely this year will see some more risks being taken and we may get to see some great original content churned out by the Hollywood machine.

The Dark KnightAm I aiming too high? I don’t mean to be overly critical of Hollywood, but with the exception of some epic blockbusters (most notably The Dark Knight), they played it safe and threw up far too many crowd pleasing RomComs and the record breaking (but somewhat shameful) Mamma Mia! – the exclamation mark is not my idea.

I’ll acknowledge that there’s a few movies out towards the end of 2008 (vying for the Oscars), such as Milk, Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button, Vicki Christina Barcelona and others, but seeing as we don’t generally get around to seeing them until January 2009 or later, I’m not including them.

But…looking forward…here’s my list of the potentially good, probably bad and likely to be ugly films we can expect this year. There’s also a few that I’m just hopeful about.

The Good

  • Nine is a musical in which a middle-aged film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is trying to complete his next film. His only problem is that he has too many women in his life, including his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his sexy mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz), and his muse and protege Claudia (Nicole Kidman).
  • Them – From Edgar Wright of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Need I say more?
  • Fanboys is the story of a group of friends who, anxious for the premiere of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – and because one of them is suffering from cancer and wishes to see the film before his death – decide to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal an early print of the film. A road trip begins as the friends encounter William Shatner, obsessed Trekkies, and bikers who make them undress for water.
  • Surrogates – In the near future, humans live in isolation and only interact through robotic bodies that serve as surrogates. When several surrogates are murdered, a cop (Bruce Willis) investigates the crimes through his own surrogate. The investigation forces the cop to bring his human form out of isolation and unravel a conspiracy behind the crimes. In today’s online world where Second Life and other ‘worlds’ are so popular, this could prove to be an actioner with depth.
  • The International may be the most timely high paced thriller out in 2009. Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) are determined to bring to justice one of the world’s most powerful banks, the International Bank of Business and Credit. Uncovering illegal activities including money laundering, arms trading, and the destabilisation of governments, Salinger and Whitman’s investigation takes them from Berlin to Milan to New York City to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, the bank will stop at nothing to stop them.
  • The Wolf Man may have made and remade so many times, but going by the publicity shots I’ve seen so far on this version, Benicio del Toro looks set to make the ultimate werewolf movie.The Wolfman
  • In Dorian Gray Narnia‘s Ben Barnes doesn’t want to grow old. With support from Colin Firth and Ben Chaplin, this should be interesting.
  • Sherlock HolmesGuy Ritchie brings the master detective to the big screen with Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson. What could go wrong?
  • Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – the first Ice Age movie was fantastic. If this is a fraction of that, it’ll still be great.
  • The Lovely Bones is probably the book I’ve heard most about in recent years without actually reading. It seems, as long as it avoids falling into its own arse, this could be huge. Saoirse Ronan stars.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus has to be good. It just has to be. Gilliam has devoted his life to fixing it since the death of Heath Ledger, the film’s main star, and has enlisted the help of Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law to pick up where Ledger left off.
  • Coraline is a stop-motion horror fantasy based on Neil Gaiman’s modern Alice in Wonderland-like tale.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is following 2007’s awesome blockbuster about the robots in disguise. Bigger, faster, louder – possibly better.
  • Inglourious Basterds – I have misspelled nothing. Tarantino makes a WWII war movie. No more detail required – this will be epic.
  • With Terminator Salvation so much could go wrong, but I’m optimistic.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens does exactly what it says on the tin…by Dreamworks Animation. Oh, and it’s voiced by Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogen, Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon, among others.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine – I loved all three X-Men movies and Wolverine has such a brilliant untouched backstory. With Liev Schreiber, the most underated actor of his generation, as Sabretooth, this could be great.
  • Watchmen is likely to be one of the biggest films of 2009. Based on the epic comic series, Watchmen will be attacked by fanboys regardless how good or bad it is, so I just say sit back and enjoy.
  • Star Trek will be big, regardless if it’s good or not. I’m hopeful. The cast looks good and in the hands of J.J. Abrams it should be safe.
  • Public Enemies is a prohibition era ganster movie with a solid cast. Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotilliard, Billy Crudup and a huge bunch more. I smell Oscars.
  • Toy Story in 3-D – Ok, so it’s just a re-release in a new format. Tell me you’re not excited though…
  • Orphan is a basic horror movie about a husband and wife who adopt a creepy kid. So far, so average. But when I heard Peter Sarsgaard was in it, I thought it worth keeping an eye on.

The Bad

  • G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra – GI Joe? Really? Don’t get me wrong, I loved my little action man when I was young. But a movie? With Dennis Quaid? Still, Christopher Eccleston might make a decent bad guy.
  • Red Sonja is Conan the Barbarian’s female counterpart. Even Robert Rodriguez and Rose McGowan can’t make this work. Can they?
  • Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian – Did you see the first one? You did? Then you know why this is in the Bad section.
  • Fast & Furious, the seventh or eight follow up to 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, reunites the original’s Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in an effort to reignite both their flailing careers.
  • The Proposal is just one of the many awful RomComs due out in 2009. I single out this one because it has the once cool Ryan Reynolds and the never-cool-but-gaining-some-credibility-in-recent-years Sandra Bullock. I guess they meet and don’t like each other and things happen and they have a big crisis moment and they fall in love and everyone laughs heartily at the end. Actually, now that I read a bit more about it, it seems to be a remake of Green Card. Still belongs on the Bad pile.
  • The Birds was Hitchcock’s strangest horror and one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. As with Psycho, this does not need to be remade. Why can’t they just give the original a re-release in the cinemas? Why? Naomi Watts stars, seemingly.S. Darko
  • S. Darko – when I first heard they were making a sequel to Donnie Darko I laughed it off. What a ridiculous notion. Then, in the distance, I heard the faint ringing of Hollywood’s cash register and it all began to make sense. Oh, Daveigh Chase, the freaky girl from The Ring, plays Samantha, the ‘S’ of the title.
  • Nottingham, another Robin Hood movie with the awful Russell Crowe playing both Robin Hood and The Sherrif of Nottingham – presumably one character wouldn’t be able to contain his massive ego.
  • In The Informant the U.S. government decides to go after an agri-business giant with a price-fixing accusation, based on the evidence submitted by their star witness, vice president turned informant Mark Whitacre. Sound like an intriguing courtroom drama? Nope – it’s a Matt Damon comedy. I’m very sceptical.
  • Avatar is James Cameron‘s newest obsession after finally getting over his Titanic fetish. Frankly, I expect the sci-fi epic to fall down under the weight of it’s own sense of self-importance.
  • Angels & Demons is the sequel prequel followup thing to The DaVinci Code. The plus side – Tom Hanks has got a haircut. Here, check out this truly terrible trailer:

The Ugly (I could add more but I might be ill)

The Ones I Am Hopeful About

  • Friday the 13th – it’s a remake of the classic horror. It’ll probably be awful, but I’m interested.
  • The Box reads like a horror version of Jumanji and has so much going against it – mainly its cast of James Marsden and Cameron Diaz. But this is the latest film from Donnie Darko creator Richard Kelly. There is promise.
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – I was a huge fan of the first underworld with Kate Beckinsale (luvly!) and the sequel was decent too. This film harks back to the origins of the tale and has no Beckinsale, but does have Rhona Mitra, who looks an awful lot like Beckinsale in the posters. Michael Sheen is reprising his role though and that could make for something interesting.The Spirit
  • 2012 is another ‘world is going to end’ type films. It follows the survivors post-apocalypse. It is written and directed by Roland Emmerich of Independence Day and the slightly preachy Day After Tomorrow and I am hopeful about it because, despite the premise, it has drawn an amazing cast in John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson and others.
  • The Spirit – This may be a 2008 movie, I’m not sure, but I have yet to see it. It’s received a number of scathing reviews, but I am still keeping my fingers crossed because it looks so damn cool.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the latest edition of the Neverending Story. I think maybe I’ve just gotten too old and tired to be excited about a new Harry Potter movie and I suspect much of the films cast are the same. I’ll undoubtedly go see it and I hope for good things. We’ll see.

And this is surely going to be shit but I can’t wait to see it:

Needless to say, there are hundreds of more movies due out this year. This is my first glance across the list with higher budgets. I haven’t had a look at any Indie’s yet or delved too deeply into IMDb’s 8,937 titles released in 2009. Give me time…


So, are there any movies you lot are looking forward to, or is there anything you’d change on my list?

23 responses so far

Jan 28 2009


Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies,Politics

In recovery mode on Sunday afternoon, we decided to go to the cinema to see Frost/Nixon. In truth, I didn’t know much about the story prior to seeing it and I had only ever seen short clips of the interview between Sir David Frost and former US President Richard Nixon, upon which the film is based. I was wide eyed and open to the film. But I had not expected to be bowled over by it – from the opening scenes, I was gripped. Ron Howard, in his first great film since Apollo 13 in 1995, lets the story play out like Rocky without the boxing ring.




In one corner, we have David Frost, trying to salvage what’s left of his flagging career, while in the other corner we see Nixon believing that this interview is an opportunity to get the American people back on side.


Michael Sheen, who in previous roles has imitated both Tony Blair and Kenneth Williams, manages to capture Frost’s mannerisms and, in particular, his vocal inflections while avoiding parody (this is where I felt he fell down in his portrayal of Blair).


Frank Langella‘s Nixon is careful, calculating and unnerving, clearly enjoying how uncomfortable he makes his sparring partner. To unhinge Frost, Nixon throws inappropriate questions (Did you fornicate last night?) and off-the-cuff comments at him and for the most part his ploy works. I believe Langella has secured himself an Oscar for Best Actor for this role, where he does more than simply imitate Nixon, he embodies the man. From very early in the film I ceased to see Langella on screen, but instead was immersed in what Nixon would do and say next. In possibly the pivotal part of the film, the camera lingers on Nixon’s face and Langella, without saying a word, speaks volumes with his weatherbeaten features, desperate expression and lost, defeated eyes – a scene that will become a classic.


Matthew MacFadyen as John Birt, stuck in the impossible position of Frost’s producer, Oliver Platt as Bob Zelnick and Kevin Bacon, as Nixon’s aide, Jack Brennan, offer strong support, but its Sam Rockwell, as James Reston Jr., author and expert on Nixon and the Watergate controversy, who shines, not allowing us to forget for a single second how badly Nixon let down the American people.




Frost/Nixon is as much about television and its part in modern politics as it is about the infamous interview. Howard examines the role of pop journalism in shaping political views and this is perhaps the thing that lifts the movie out of the trap of being a wordy stage play, but instead produces a layered drama with plenty to bring the viewer back for a second sitting.


Although we know exactly how it will end, the build up to the final interview is actually exciting, the tension produced between the desperation of both men is unrelenting and as the credits role you may even feel a twinge of sympathy or the fallen President.


The negatives? Well, strangely, I only found negatives when I went about researching this post. It seems the story is a somewhat polished version of the truth. Stripped from the script is any mention of Nixon’s 20% stake in any profits from the interviews (surely a great incentive for him to have a dramatic revelation in the final parts of the interview). Indeed the historical, political and social impacts of the revelations are heavily overplayed in the film.


However, Howard is not making a documentary here and as an exciting piece of fiction, as a dramatic interplay between two great forces, this film is one of the finest ‘Based on a True Story’ films I have ever seen. I am reminded of Shattered Glass, Serpico and Quizshow as films that dramatise real events without dehumanising the characters. Frost/Nixon can sit proudly amongst these.





2 responses so far

Dec 11 2008

Come What May

Published by under Blog,Movies,TV

Baz LuhrmannI watched BBC’s Culture Show’s documentary and interview with Baz Luhrman on Tuesday night and was in awe of a great man. Intelligent, funny and seemingly down to earth, Luhrman came across so well and has now been catapulted to the top of the table at my fantasy dinner party. Stephen Fry will have to shimmy down a bit.


He is responsible for the quirky, shoestring budgeted smash hit Strictly Ballroom, arguably the greatest Shakespeare movie adaptation, Romeo and Juliet, the movie which is widely credited with the resurgence of musicals on the big screen, Moulin Rouge, and now the as yet unreleased period epic, Australia, which is already heralded in some quarters as the new Gone With The Wind. Both Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet appear on my to ten movies list – It is understandable then that I would develop a fascination with the man.Basil Brush


Nicole KidmanBorn Mark Anthony Luhrman, his nickname Baz would be given due to an unfortunate resemblance to Basil Brush. Growing up in the small town of Herons Creek, child of a father who ran a petrol station and local cinema and mother who was a ballroom dancing teacher and dress shop owner, it isn’t hard to see where his first film Strictly Ballroom was inspired. Originating as a 20 minute play, directed by Baz, he eventually fleshed it out into a feature length film. When it first screened in Australia, it was not received well, but a midnight screening at Cannes made it hot property and it rapidly became a worldwide smash.


Romeo and JulietTrying to make a film about ballroom dancing in small town Australia was seen as a crazy venture, but attempting to pitch a modern Romeo and Juliet maintaining Shakespeare’s original dialogue was sheer madness. Even after proving himself with this, he was still viewed sceptically when he set about making a musical. Bare in mind, this was before Chicago, Hairspray and Mamma Mia! The result was the remarkable Moulin Rouge, which saw Oscar nominations in 8 categories and wins in two. Bizarrely, there wasn’t even a nomination for Baz for Best Director. On Oscar night, Whoopi Goldberg sarcastically remarked, “I guess it just directed itself”.


AustraliaHis new project is Australia, starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman and is an ‘outback epic’ set in the early 1940’s against a backdrop of World War II events such as the bombing of Darwin in 1942. With a running time of almost 2 and ¾ hours, it is truly an epic event. I am nervous and excited to see if he can add a third film to my top ten list. Australia is released on 26th December, just in time to escape your family on St Stephen’s Day.


If you are in the UK (or are skilled with computers) BBC are making The Culture Show’s documentary available for UK residents to view online for 6 more days. Click here for more. And here’s the trailer for Australia:




2 responses so far

Nov 13 2008

Do Not Watch This

Published by under Blog,Movies

Do Not Watch This

Do Not Watch This

Do Not Watch This

Do Not Watch This

Do Not Watch This


I warned you!

6 responses so far

Oct 08 2008

Why Would They Do It?

Published by under Blog,Movies

Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsOne of my favourite comedies when growing up was the inspired Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine playing the suave and debonaire upper-class con man and Steve Martin playing the crass American swindler. The two fail to see eye to eye and set up a competiton to relieve the young Glenne Headly from $50,000. Caine is almost a parody of himself and relishes the part. In an anti-James Bond role he is a villain we love. Martin too is on fine form and this is probably the last great movie he did (an exception might be made for LA Story and Housesitter).

The movie was comedy genius. So why the hell are they remaking it????? This is the worst news ever and I am not exaggerating. I cannot think of anything that has ever happened or could ever happen that is worse than them remaking Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. No! Just no!

Casting ideas? Probably Will Ferrell and Pearse Brosnan, hamming it up and making a flop. I can see Anne Hathaway throwing her career away by appearing in it. Why do they keep remaking these movies that are still as good today as when they were released?


Disclaimer: Ok, so, well, in my research for this very important post, I have discovered that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was itself a remake of a 1964 movie with David Niven and Marlon Brando, Bedtime Story. So, ahem, it does tarnish my point somewhat. But still…I dunno…shut up…

19 responses so far

Sep 24 2008

Is Jason Statham The Last Action Hero?

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

Death RaceThanks again to, we went to a preview of Death Race last night in Dundrum. This action movie with Jason Statham falls into the guilty pleasures category of my film tastes. Director, Paul W.S. Anderson, has also helmed the brilliant Event Horizon, along with the action packed Resident Evil and Alien vs Predator. I went into this movie with the full intention of switching my brain into autopilot and just enjoying the ride.

In the eighties, we had Schwarzenegger, Stalone, Van Damme, Seagal, John McClane, even Lethal Weapon brought out a great action star in Mel Gibson. Nowadays however, short of the occasional Bourne movie, the brief return of Bruce Willis in Die Hard 4 and the plethora of comic book movies, the action movie genre has become a bit watered down. Wonderful as the Dark Knight was, a man in tights just doesn’t inspire the same raw, instinctive growl deep down in the male psyche than seeing some reluctant cop in a vest crawl across broken glass while being shot at by German terrorists. Even Bond is a bit watery these days. So, I ask, is the action hero dead and gone, with Charles Bronson in his grave?

Death RaceJason Statham says no. To action fans Statham is already a star. Lock Stock, Snatch, The Transporter, Mean Machine and last years plotless but high octane adrenaline fest Crank secured him a cult following. He is a no-apologies, blunt, brutal action man, who cares little for plot or emotional drama and prefers to pump muscles and drive cars.

There is a loose plot to Death Race, which is a remake of the 1975 movie Death Race 2000. Essentially, Jensen Ames (Statham) is framed for the murder of his wife and is sentenced to prison. In a few years time, when the world economy is gone to shit and crime is an epidemic; the prisons have become the new Big Brother, where the inmates fight to the death to gain their freedom. The most popular ‘sport’ is the Death Race, where the drivers must bash, smash and crash their way across the finish line. If they kill a few opponents along the way, all the better. But this plot matters not. It’s an excuse to fill the screen with gratuitous violence, hot women and fast cars. The trick that this movie pulls, however, is that it makes no apologies for it. The Coach (played by a brilliant Ian McShane) even explains away the big breasted beauties as being good for ratings.

Death RaceThe movie is further improved by some solid supporting roles. McShane is flawless and even Tyrese Gibson presents a formidable foe for Ames. Joan Allen, in the role of prison warden Hennessy, is a stroke of genius though. I don’t know why this Oscar Nominated actress agreed to do this movie, but I’m glad she did. Her script shows that the film makers had their tongues firmly in cheek when making Death Race. With gusto and sheer joy she delivers the best (and worst) line of the movie –

Okay cocksucker. Fuck with me, and we’ll see who shits on the sidewalk.

Death RaceIt’s camp, over the top, fueled with energy from the explosive start right to the, well, explosive finish. Maybe it’s a bad movie but I loved it. A bad comedy can be saved by making the audiences laugh enough. A bad horror movie can be saved by scaring the bejaysus out of people. So, perhaps a bad action movie can be saved by being so fuel injected, so hyper, so insanely visual that it has the audiences pumping with adrenaline and joy. A grown man, sitting behind us in the cinema, actually screamed at one point. Surely that’s reason enough to go see this movie.

8 responses so far

Sep 18 2008

The Return Of The Ghostbusters

Published by under Blog,Movies

GhostbustersThe first Ghostbusters was a masterclass in comedy and chemistry between actors. Murray and Aykroyd stole the show and were ably backed up by a fantastic cast in Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis. Ivan Reitman directed a movie that was an instant comic classic.

Five years later, they followed it up with a hyper version of the original. A stronger script, better use of the supporting cast (Annie Potts as Janine and Peter MacNicol as Janosz are excellent). They even managed to top the marshmallow man finish of the original by bringing to life America’s greatest symbol of freedom, The Statue of Liberty. The movies, placed side by side, are perfect. They encapsulate all that was good about 80’s family cinema, without dipping into the schmaltzy Disney bucket of emotion.

Ghostbusters 3So, twenty years on, they’ve finally announced plans to make the movie that has been sitting in development hell for, well, twenty years – Ghostbusters 3. Do we need it? No – the Ghostbusters box set sits proudly and complete on many a DVD shelf across the world. There will be few people crying into their pints if the movie goes unmade. Do we want it? Maybe – there’s a part of me that want to see those characters again, to hear some more of Peter Venkman’s wisecracks, to laugh at Ray Stantz doe-eyed expressions, but this is accompanied by a huge concern that they won’t get it right. Every fan has had two decades to imagine the return of the foursome and I doubt it’s possible to live up to expectations at this stage.

That said, it was always a pet project for Aykroyd and Ramis – so, if anyone could do justice to it, it would be them. They have had the same two decades to dream up the return of the Ghostbusters. This time around they’ll have a bigger budget, they’ll have CG at their disposal, they will undoubtedly be able to attract any actors of their choice into bit roles for the movie. There are a lot of pluses.

But there are still negatives. Ramis and Aykroyd are just producing the movie. Harold Ramis recently confirmed that, this time, the script is being handled by US Office writers, Gene Stupnisky and Lee Eisenberg. Also, the director of the first two, Ivan Reitman, is not yet fully on board. At present Ramis is the de facto director.


A huge part of me is excited about the return of the Ghostbusters, but the disappointment of Indiana Jones adds to my concerns that this will mar the earlier Ghostbusters movies for me, just as this year’s Crystal Skulls has taken something from the old Indy movies. Time will tell and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any news about this movie right up to its release.


13 responses so far

Sep 06 2008

All About Eve

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

In recent times I’ve been delving into the past for my movie watching pleasures. Lottie and I have been working our way through the Alfred Hitchcock boxset, with some pleasant surprises. We’ve caught the wonderful RomCom When Harry Met Sally, we compared the new Sleuth with the old Lawrence Olivier version and saw good and bad in both.

Bette DavisLast year I watched Whatever Happened to Baby Jane for the first time and I loved it. Bette Davis showed what a true movie great could do, twisting the character she portrayed in real life into a deranged and sad fading starlet on screen. Since seeing it I have many times meant to return to her back catalogue and only recently I got hold of All About Eve, a tense tale about an up-and-coming ingénue who befriends Davis’s aging Broadway star and slowly climbs her way to the top.

Anne BaxterThe young woman who ingratiates herself into the celebrity lives of Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and her friends is Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter. Though both Baxter and Davis were nominated for the Best Actress Oscar in 1951 (which neither won), for me the film belongs to Davis. Through her, we watch Eve finagle her way into Margo’s life and home and ultimately her career as a Broadway star. While most of those around her are oblivious to the devious Eve until it is too late, Margo is seen as paranoid and crazy until she is finally driven truly mad by Eve.

Of course, the movie is All About Eve and Baxter is brilliant in the role. She slides so easily between overly sweet, goodie-two-shoes to duplicitous schemer without effort. A scene where she attempts to win over one of Margo’s friends in a bathroom towards the film’s end had me shouting at the screen in anger.

Anne Baxter and Bette Davis

The film is a touch too long and, if made today, would be tightened up a bit. But, if made today, I wonder if it would lose some of it’s subtlety. There is something so wonderful about watching the oldstyle Hollywood send itself up in such a clever way. Margo, Eve and Lloyd Richards (played by Hugh Marlowe) make many flippant and derogatory references to the soul destroying Hollywood.

When writing and directing this movie, it’s clear that Joseph L. Mankiewicz (who, coincidentally, later went on to direct Sleuth) was telling more than a simple story – this was an age when celebrity was new and fanatics were only beginning to emerge. It is more an allegory of the state of 1950’s Celebrity Culture than a simple story about a young girl trying to make it big. It is perhaps the subtext that has made the story and the film a classic. While times, styles and Broadway’s buildings have changed, this Broadway story is still as relevant today as it was in 1950.

All About Eve

With some great supporting roles, including a small but perfectly suited role for a then relatively unknown and extremely young Marilyn Monroe, this movie deserves all the praise that has been lauded upon it over the years. Davis is a true star and I look forward to exploring more of her back catalogue.

Bette Davis and Gary Merrill

Anne Baxter

5 responses so far

Sep 05 2008

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

Published by under Movie Review,Movies

John BoyneJohn Boyne‘s novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, was a sensation when first published in 2006. It spent 66 weeks at the top of the Irish Book Charts and, while written by a man from Dublin, it has been a success globally, reaching the New York Times bestsellers list.

It is not surprising then that there should be some trepidation from fans of the book over Brassed Off and Little Voice‘s direct Mark Herman‘s adaptation to film. There was understandable concern that he may brush over certain more unpleasant aspect of the novel, or worst of all that he might give it a ‘Hollywood ending’.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Poster

Last night, At the World Premiere in Dublin’s Savoy Cinema, all trepidation was laid to rest and a classic movie was born.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas tells the story of 8 year old Bruno, son of the Commandant of a concentration camp during World War II, Asa Butterfield as Brunoand how he befriends an incarcerated Jewish boy named Schmuel. Bruno has had to leave his home and friends in Berlin to live with his family in what is essentially an army barracks. Through boredom he goes exploring where he shouldn’t and meets Schmuel at the fence of the camp. Behind the barbed wire, Bruno’s innocent eyes sees Schmuel in his striped clothes with a number on it (which he believes is part of a game) and wishes he too could play with friends all day in the camp, instead of being bored alone in the house.

Without his parents’ knowledge, Bruno develops a strong bond with the boy in the striped pyjamas, even though he learns from his family and his Nazi tutor, Herr Liszt, that they should not be friends. Vera Farmiga, John Boyne and David ThewlisAs the story of friendship unfolds, Bruno’s initially happy family unit begins to unravel. The Commandant, played by Harry Potter’s David Thewlis, does not seem like a bad man at first. He is merely a good soldier following orders dutifully. Through his wife, however, we learn that he is deeply entwined in Hitler’s Holocaust. His wife, played superbly by Vera Farmiga, gives an Oscar worthy peformance as she tries to come to terms with what her husband has been doing to the Jews. Her final scenes in the film are nothing short of heartbreaking.

But it is the two boys, Bruno and Schmuel, played by Asa Butterfield and Jack Scanlon respectively, who carry the film. The shattering of Bruno’s innocence and his belief in his father’s goodness is played out perfectly by Butterfield, as he searches for answers. At the same time, the expressions of incredulity and then resignation on the face of Scanlon’s Schmuel show that the two boys are separated by far more than a barbed wire fence. Their lives are utterly opposite and it is this stark difference between the two boy’s lives that makes the climax of the movie all the more poignant.

Bruno and Schmuel

Despite my positive review, I have a hesitation in recommending this movie. It’s tough going. Even for those who may not have read the book, the finale seems to present itself a good 20 minutes before the end of the film. It is harrowing to know the inevitable fate of the boys and being unable to stop it. The far too believable performances are what makes this film so brilliant, but equally so difficult to watch. As the credits rolled and silence descended upon the Savoy, the only sound that could be heard was the sobbing of men and women. My chest was knotted at the end. It is not a pleasant feeling. This film will stay with me. There is a part of me that wishes I hadn’t seen it for the simple fact that there are some things that I am happy not to think about. The individual lives of the Holocaust victims is frightening to ponder and this film forces the point by being so believable.

It truly is an instant classic. It will be watched time and time again for years to come. The actors were remarkable, the direction flawless and the music was painfully wonderful when accompanied with some of the movie’s more startling moments. With your tissue in hand, do see this movie. It will make you emote, it will change your perception and it will stay with you for a long time.

Notes: Thank you, once again, to for the tickets to a remarkable event. Check out what other people thought here. There is also an interview with author John Boyne here.

6 responses so far

Aug 25 2008

The Wackness

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

Recovering from a hangover, sitting in the trendy new Lighthouse Cinema, watching an off the wall coming of age movie, I feel as lost as the film’s main character. I knew I should have stopped about three or four Jamesons earlier last night.

The Wackness PosterHowever, I’m glad I made the effort to get out of bed and go see The Wackness. Like many coming of age films before it, it is more of a character study than a plot or action driven piece. We meet Luke Shapiro, just finished high school in New York’s pre-mobile-phone 1994 and about to have his final Summer before college. Some kids work in supermarkets to get some money together, Luke does not. He sells drugs.

Luke, played by Josh Peck, is an awkward, shy, apathetic youth who has no real friends and his only human contact seems to be when he is dealing drugs. His parents constantly fight and have serious money problems, leaving him essentially ignored by them. He, at 18, is still a virgin and feeling lost, alone and depressed. Luke, in exchange for drugs, gets psychiatric advice from Ben Kingsley‘s Dr. Jeffrey Squires, and develops a crush on Squires’ daughter, Stephanie, played by the best friend from Juno, Olivia Thirlby.

Thanks to, Anthony and I got to see this movie and it was well worth it for Kingsley alone. It is taken for granted that Ben Kingsley is a great actor, but this film highlights it better than the bigger Ghandi or Schindler’s List. Ben Kingsley and Mary-Kate Olsen in The WacknessHis natural charisma, his simple honesty, his brutal wounds-open portrayal of a psychiatrist in a dead end marriage with no friends and no future, is incredibly moving, particularly towards the end of the film. While Luke is coming to terms with his own adolescent immaturity, so too is Dr. Squires. He seems to be reliving his empty youth through the character of Luke, wanting him to have fun, while also wanting the best for him and his life. The relationship between the teen and the aging doctor is worrying at times but always magnetic to watch. And of course, there’s the incredible, never-to-be-removed-from-my-retina moment where Kingsley and Mary-Kate Olsen make out in a phone booth. It’s ok – he only made it to second base!!!

Olsen is surprisingly effective as the silly but cute druggy, and this role may point to a decent acting career in her future. Other supporting roles from Jane Adams, Famke Janssen and Method Man are equally engaging. Peck, in the lead role, is good. Just good. He won’t be wowing the Oscars and he is unlikely to land the lead in the next Hollywood blockbuster, but his likable drug dealer straddles the line between touching naivety and street smart hardness. Yes, he learns the moral lesson; yes, he moves from childhood to manhood; yes, he finds friendship through adversity; but the clichéd coming-of-age schtick plays out in a surprising and funny way.

The WacknessThe era in which this film is set (mid nineties) is apparently pivotal to the film. A lot of emphasis is placed on the nineties slang, the clothes, the technology and most notably the music. But I am struggling to see why the era is important. It could just as easily be set today. There is a minor sub-plot where they discuss New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani‘s zero tolerance to crime initiatives, but that is never followed through to any climactic conclusion. The music is undoubtedly important. It is like another character in the movie, showing the differences between young and old, ‘street’ and establishment, but…well, I just don’t like rap music. It does nothing for me and musically, my favourite moment was hearing Bowie as the credits rolled.

As bad points go, this doesn’t drag down the movie much. The fine performances and the very funny plot make this a film an essential addition to my indie collection. There is a twang of Lost in Translation‘s isolation and a refreshing breath of Juno‘s comic air. It may not gain the cult following of those two movies, but it will be watched again and again for years to come.

The Wackness

Notes: Once again has taken me to a great movie free of charge. Check out the site for news, reviews and free previews and thank you to the whole team at

7 responses so far

Aug 10 2008

Trading Places

Published by under Blog,Movies

Trading PlacesOne of the funniest movies ever made is the eighties hit, Trading Places. It’s on TV at the moment and I can’t help but watch it again. I’ve seen it dozens of times and it never gets old.

Dan Aykroyd plays Louis Wynthorpe, a wealthy market trader, while Eddie Murphy plays Billy Valentine, a down and out bum. As a bet Whythorpes’ employers frame him and turn him into a bum while promoting Valentine to his old position.

I love it. If you’ve never seen it, what’s wrong with you?

(Alos, Jamie Lee Curtis gets them out)

15 responses so far

Aug 07 2008

Scary Movie 12

Published by under Blog,Movies

I‘ve been tagged, or skilletted (as coined by Grandad) to do another meme, and since I’m fresh out of original blog ideas, I thought I’d give this a go.

The gist of this one is to cast the movie of your life. Who would play you and your significant others if your life was put on film.

The Rules!

  1. List the people who would play you, and the key people in your life.
  2. Give credit to the person who tagged you. Mr Kieron!
  3. Link your answers to the original blog, that’s here (!
  4. Tag four new people to participate.

To play me, I’m thinking James Spader. Fine, I know he’s a touch too old but if this is a Hollywood movie then age rules don’t really apply. The man is ridiculously cool. He’s good looking in an odd way and often plays oddballs. I like that.

James Spader

Failing that, maybe Ryan Phillippe might work a bit better. Right age. Right look.

Ryan Phillippe

Of course, the problem with them is they are American and the thoughts of my accent being smashed to death by them on the big screen is frightening, so it might be better to go for Cillian Murphy, perhaps?

Cillian Murphy

For my youth, it would have to be that kid from Love Actually, Thomas Sangster. He’s just brilliant. There’s a peculiar rumour circulating at the moment that he might be playing Tintin in Spielberg’s trilogy. I don’t see that working.

Thomas Sangster

For Lottie, I’d have to go looking for Michelle Pfeiffer. It’d be wrong not to. The age thing might be an issue, but to have Pfeiffer play my other half (particularly during those years where all Lottie wore was the Catwoman outfit) would be a dream come true.

Michelle Pfeiffer

Kirsten DunstNicole KidmanFor a long while Lottie was told she looked like a young Nicole Kidman, so she might be good for the role. But then there’s that age thing again. I’m thinking Kirsten Dunst might suit the part. She’s hot, intelligent, funny – perfect to play Lottie.

For the younger version of her it would have to be Saoirse Ronan.

If Spader plays me, then it stands to reason that Shatner will have to play Darragh. The age thing is less of an issue as it’s the Shat – he can do whatever the hell he likes.

William Shatner

If Spader‘s out, then I’m thinking we could call in WETA to do some of their Gollum/King Kong wizardry again. We could even call upon the talents of Andy Serkis.

Andy Serkis as Gollum

Amy the Cat would have to be played by a real star. I’m thinking that brave dog in I Am Legend. I can’t see anyone else in the role.

I Am Legend

Biomammy could be played by Susan Sarandon or maybe Zoe Wanamaker (a bit too old?). I’m sure she’d prefer to have someone like Cate Blanchett cast in the role. Although if Spader‘s playing me and he’s 9 years older than Blanchett, things would get confusing.

Susan Sarandon Zoe Wanamaker Cate Blanchett

Bill MurrayAs I write this, I’m starting to think more about the story that would unfold in a two hour story of my life. I don’t really see it being that interesting. There’d be a lot of barmen in my story. I think they should all be played by Bill Murray, even the barwomen. Jim BroadbentI see my biopic being more of a comedy musical. Jim Broadbent could reprise his Moulin Rouge Harry Zidler role and play my father. Will Ferrell could play that teacher that inspired me. Harold and Kumar could play my childhood chums who get up to hi-jinx all the time.

Thinking about it, my life’s story will probably just lie in development hell for years before finally getting a straight-to-DVD release and swiftly retiring to the bargain bin beside Beethoven’s 5th: Big Paw.

A bunch of unknowns are more likely to play all the roles. I’d still like to think Shatner would cameo though.

Hmmm, more thought is required.

In the meantime, I’d like to tag Little Miss (although she’s away on holliers). Lottie, I’d be interested in reading your take on this one. Ray, I think you’d have fun with this one – what do you think? And I would love to see what Pedro comes up with. Perhaps it would be an epic lego movie? Bill Murray could do all the voices. Go on, you know you want to.

16 responses so far

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