Dear movie fans, I have a confession. I don’t like the The Godfather movies. Testosterone filled bollocks. We’re tough guys. We stand tall and talk funny, we hard men, we cave men, we cartoon characters. The way they kill people while making wiseguy wisecracks. Just a step away from James Bond, “Shocking. Positively shocking.” Though that’s not quite it. I do enjoy a bit of wanton movie violence. But it just doesn’t work for me in The Godfather. I find all the hardman stuff a bit boring, and while we’re at it same goes for Al Pacino. Same boring character in every single movie. I don’t even like the sound of his voice.
And so, to the point! I saw The Prophet this week. Now that’s a gangster movie! Authentic. That’s a word I find on the tip of my tongue a lot lately. Imagine what it would be like to kill someone for the first time. No, really. You’d be a total wreck, before and after. It’s so refreshing to see that terror executed in a movie so well. And that’s just the start of it. Brilliantly authentic performance / script / direction from start to finish.
It kind of reminded me of experiencing City of God for the first time. Both gangster movies, but they’re nothing alike aprt from leaving you thinking, now that’s a fucking movie!
Maybe I just find all the american/italian gangster movies a bit cliché. I like Casino and Goodellas a bit better than The Godfather, and I love that Joe Pesci scene, but none of these movies would ever make any of my top lists they way they seem to on all the big movie fan lists.
That’s my kinda review! Have a rant about lots of other stuff and give the movie a wee mention along the way.
One more thing Columbo. This movie was all but ruined by some dickhead behind me. I don’t know if it was his knees or he had his feet against my seat or what but he kept rocking my seat. I thought of saying something but then I’d be the dickhead spoiling the movie. Instead I waited until it was over, shot him in both knees, then poked his eyes out with my thumbs, chortling as I left the cinema, while his girlfriend screamed and tried to push his eyes back in.
United 93 was on telly tonight. I can remember being blown away by this movie when it came out. For me, expectation can really make or break or a movie. This was a year that I had an unlimited ticket to UCG, and I’d often just walk in and take a chance on something that looked good and started soon.
That day was slim pickings, I went for what I thought was the best of a bad bunch. It was also what I thought would be some crap schmaltzy 911 hero movie. But I was completely taken by surprise.
No schmaltz. Very minimal but effective score. Very realistic acting. No big stars, and a lot of the airport controllers were the real thing, not actors. A few even played themselves, including the main flight control guy, Ben Sliney who’s great in it.
And the tension very slowly but greatly builds, I can remember feeling like I was on that plane by the end. And was almost in shock come the ultimatum. Brilliant movie.
Doesn’t quite have the same impact on a small screen and the intrusions that come with it. And if you haven’t seen it yet I’ve probably spoilt it just by telling you how great it is.
Eastern promises is a Big bucket of steaming pish from David Kronenburg. I thought Naomi Watts would have known better – but then she doesn’t come off looking too bad working her way around a terrible script as a midwife who pockets the diary of a young Russian girl that dies giving birth. However, Vincent Cassel ( Vinz from La Haine) and Viggo Mortensen (Beardy guy from lord of the rings) are both cast as a couple of Russian Mafia clowns. They’re not supposed to be clowns but their characters are so clichéd and forced that’s it’s utter cringe. Why couldn’t they have just got some decent but unknown Russian actors?
The relationship between themselves and the old mafia boss is exactly like Pops from the League of Gentlemen (clip below). It was only some of the gorier scenes where Kronenburg shows that he still knows his craft – there was lots of peeking through fingers and listening for the sound of the splurting blood to stop – but he made a balls of the rest. An utter waste of a Friday night where both kids were miraculously fast asleep before dark. Avoid.
I went to the darklight screening of Dead Man’s Shoes last weekend. Their was an exciting buzz in the air at the IFI. I don’t go to half as much stuff like this as I’d like to. I really enjoy festivals of any kind – yet I think this is the only festival-like event I’ve managed to get to this year, pathetic. I’ve seen Dead Man’s Shoes a couple of times before but it was great to see it in the IFI with an appreciative audience. There wasn’t a single rustle of sweet packets nor any sounds from mobile phones. Paddy Considine was supposed to introduce the film but instead it was announced that he’d do a Q&A afterwards, which was a bit dissapointing as I just knew there’d be wanky drawma students asking wanky drawma questions.
Shane Meadows is a brilliant director and Considine is a brilliant actor. They wrote Dead Man’s Shoes together. So naturally its a brilliant movie. Its really funny in places and downright evil in others. Toby Kebbell is also brilliant as Considine’s ‘spastic brother’. He played Rob Gretton in Control, the same character who Considine played in 24 Hour Party People. There’s a bit of trivia for you that’s not even on IMDB yet. You read it here first. Breaking news.
I always feel a lot more connected to movies that are a bit closer to home. Grounded in a world that remotely resembles my own. I can’t really connect with lots of the American films that people go on about. On a random brain scan, the first two to pop into my head that I saw recently are Blood Diamond and The assasination of Jesse James. Both highly recommended by lots of people but I thought Blood Diamond was Hollywood by numbers. And The Assassination of Jesse James was well boring and about two hours too long. Most of it was filler considering all that happened is in the title. And its tone and pace seemed to aspire to the far superior Unforgiven – but lacking in good content. Actually they’re both bad examples to illustrate my point as they wouldn’t be relevant to anyone’s life really. But the point is that good UK movies set in modern times really strike a chord with me, whereas those set in a world I’ve no relation to at all, which is nearly every movie in this Must see movies of 2008 list, are usually gone from my memory as soon as the credits roll.
So back to the darklight. I’m not usually much of a fanboy but it was cool seeing Considine in person. Good idea getting him over. There’s something very likeable and down to earth about him – and that comes across in most of his films. Even if he was answering wanky questions. Actually, the questions weren’t so bad it’s just the type of people here who ask questions at something like that. They seem to love the sound of their own voice or something.
I saw Fitzcarraldo a few weeks ago. It’s about a crazy German dude, played by Klaus Kinski (you know, the blonde Ken Dodd?) and his attempts to setup an opera in the Peruvian rain forest while somehow coalescing (genuine) local tribesman to help him along the way. One aspect of it really struck me that sets it apart though. There comes a point where he has this idea to drag a great steamboat over a strip of land rather then around a bend in the river and through some dangerous rapids.
To achieve this they have to get the huge steamboat up a hill and down the other side. And what sets this film apart is that this hurdle presented the exact same conundrum for both the film-makers and the characters. The figuring out, the execution, the anticipation, it’s all real. Forget method acting. This is method film-making, on a grand scale. This factor alone makes it well worth a watch. That just wouldn’t happen these days. Would have to be done with special effects.
I’d say this would be one movie where the voice over thingies on the DVD would be really interesting. And of course Fitzcarraldo is better known for the action in-between the takes with Kinski and Herzog close to fisticuffs, and the tribesman offering to make Kinski disappear. Kerzog later made a documentary about their relationship called My Best Friend.
Funny Games is one of those films where you get exactly what you expected to get and that’s just fine. There are a couple of cinematic tricks, and possibly some deeper ponderings about the treatment of violence in film but at its heart it’s a pretty good thriller.
It’s a classic setup with a small cast, and a small set. Though the premise is somewhat contrived, the reality of pain, both physical and mental, is treated with a bit more respect than you’re used to getting. A rich family are held captive in their splendid lakeside holiday home by two demented posh boys. They’re ever-so polite and mannered, yet sadistic little pricks, sure to be the spawn of a one night stand with Hannibal Lectre*.
The boys do their job well though; despicable at first sight in their glowing tennis shorts and punchable pouty mouths. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts are as good as ever, though there’s something about the sight of Watts’ snivelling snots and tears that’s starting to seem a bit over familiar now. She’s sure to be remembered for snots and nipples, despite her stellar performance in Mullholland.
I’ve not heard much about Funny Games before seeing it but I know it’s a remake and I’d like to see the original, which is no doubt much better – but Funny Games definitely isn’t one of those shit remakes doing the rounds.
*Erm, well, that’s if they were twins, or brothers.