Monday, July 23, 2012

My Movie Diary 23 July 2012

Have you been to yet? You should, it's ace. Aside from the social networking for film geeks aspect of it all it has the extremely helpful feature of creating a film diary, enabling you to document your thoughts quickly (essential blogging tool) before fleshing them out for a bigger review later. It also makes this much easier.

Tyler at the award winning Southern Vision hooked me up with an account last Sunday and since the 15th July I have logged 15 movies as watched. In a week that saw me go to the cinema for the first time since my Prometheus debacle for Dark Knight Rises it would be safe to say that some of these were superb whilst others were absolute garbage.

Let's get the garbage out of the way shall we?

Why Did They Even Bother?

Treasure Guards (2011) is a pan-European production starring Anna Friel that sounds a lot like The Librarian or National Treasure. At this point you may ask what exactly I expected and you'd be right. Poor Anna Friel has been in a series of awful films since Pushing Daisies got cancelled and this is right down there with Land of the Lost for worst movie of her career. My review on Letterboxd covers it quite well I feel:
"Just awful. Completely and utterly shocking in every aspect. It's not even one of those bad movies you can laugh along with."
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)  the end of the trilogy. I really disliked the film and struggle to find any redeeming qualities. There's a story surrounding Rob Zombie and the making of Halloween 2 that says he deliberately made it in to a giant pile of shit so that nobody could ruin his brilliant reimagining of the horror franchise after he was done. The combination of the studio forcing a sequel and Zombie not wanting to do it led to a poor movie and as far as I know they haven't gone back for a third film, Zombie got his wish. This story stayed with me and is the first thing I thought of upon walking in to the bright sunshine after watching TDKR, surely this would be the only way such a revered film maker as Christopher Nolan would create something so exposition heavy, something that was all effect and no cause? I wasn't surprised to later read that he didn't really want to make a third Batman movie.
"There was so much wrong with this movie I don't know where to start. Just a horrible waste of 3 hours and the good will built by the previous two movies. "
Blade: Trinity (2004) the end of another trilogy. I can't claim that this was any surprise. I'd previously turned it off after 5 minutes for crimes against the original film and excruciatingly bad performances but it was on Fox movies and Leah hadn't seen it so in one of our moods for mindless action we pressed play. Oh how we wish we didn't. Written and directed by David S. Goyer, the man responsible for the majority of TDKR script failed to entertain us in any way.
"Honestly worse than i remember. I can see why Dark Knight Rises was so poor with the majority of the script written by the exposition happy writer/director of this piece of junk."

There was a whole bunch of non events in the fifteen films, mostly old Bogart movies played on TCM but from the middling bunch I should highlight a few pieces of not so bad cinema.

 It Passes The Time

Treasure Island (2012) looks and feels like a TV movie, or a mini-series or something. It is a nice looking one that obviously had a very high budget. The adaptation is faithful and at three hours long probably too faithful.
"Izzard is good as Silver but I can't get his standup routines out of my head whenever he speaks."
Teenage Paparazzo (2010) is a documentary by Entourage star Adrien Grenier about a teenage boy in LA who became a Paparazzo (it's not just a clever name you see.) At 90 minutes it shouldn't have felt as long as it did, there were some real pacing issues that the 30 minutes of deleted scenes shows the film makers were aware of. The narrative drifted away from the subjest and in to a study of the relationship between the media and society which brought up a few interesting points but at other times felt contrived and obvious. I feel like it was worth watching though, not least for the way the relationshio between director and subject develops over time.

The Andromeda Strain (1971) was based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name. A small town is killed by a space borne virus, scientists investigate. I enjoyed it for its content but not for its cinematic qualities. There was definite potential for this to be great.
"Great story. The whole time watching it I was thinking with better direction/creative vision this would be fantastic. I'm thinking oscar potential.
But sadly this was 8 years before Alien revolutionised the thriller and it suffers dramatically in comparison thanks the slightly campy attitudes of the early 70s. In the years after this we would see dramatic improvement thanks to Logans Run and Soylent Green and next to those this stands up well as an historical artefact."
Blade (1998) is cool.
"Stephen Dorff is great at swearing even when it's not really necessary and so he swears in every sentence of dialogue he has. Wesley Snipes as Blade is a total badass and so he acts like a total badass at all times. Tom Cruise is going to try delivering lines like Blade has in that movie Reacher and is going to fail, simply because he is a whiny little bitch and Wesley Snipes could kick his ass with one hand behind his back and the rest of him in jail for tax evasion."
Paper Heart (2009) has some fun with the documentary format. It's a documentary style movie about a girl making a documentary about what it is to be in love and who falls in love whilst making it whilst at the same time being a documentary about love. The seemless blending of interviews with real people and performances by Michael Cera and Charlene Yi playing versions of themselves provides an enjoyable experience that I'm very glad to have found hidden in the documentary section of the local video store.
"A really fun and cute mockumentary for fans of Michael Cera. Cera plays on his screen persona but It's Charlene Yi's movie."
Beyond that there were only a handful of fims that were truly worth my time.

Sometimes They Make Something Great

Cabaret (1972) based on the semi-biographical writings of Christopher Isherwood in Goodbye To Berlin. Starring Liza Minelli as the simply fabulous cabaret star Sally Bowles opposite Basil Exposition in the Isherwood role. I know you;ve heard of this movie and if you haven't seen it you simply must. Even just for the show stealing performance of Joel Grey.
"I don't go in for musicals in general but this is done so well and the songs don't interrupt the flow of the story in the way I usually find them to.
A fabulously entertaining film with tragic undertones and a sad ending."

Fat City (1972) is a late John Huston film starring a very young Jeffrey Lebowski opposite a superb Stacey Keach. Recommended to me via By Kubrick's Beard I shall point you to his fantastic review as there's nothing that I can say that will come close to the brilliant job done over there.
"Whenever you hear someone telling people about the great run of films America made in the early 1970's, and they get to the list, and they begin to feel fatigue, just wait for a pause and say "And Fat City. John Huston's Fat City." At that point the kids frown, and they admit they've not even seen Fat City. "Right," you say, "and you never even heard of "Fat City"
David Thompson - Have You Seen?

Hombre (1967) a revisionist western starring Paul Newman and based on a book by Elmore Leonard is nothing like the Tv serials I have in my mind when I think of western movies. It comes close to being noir with the existential nature of the lead character. Highly recommended indeed.
"I'm a western novice but I reckon I could watch a hundred more and not find a better or more enjoyable one.
Newman is subtle yet powerful but the impressive Diane Cilento steals the show as Jessie the innkeeper. Its rare enough to find a strong, independant woman with brains and class in a film let alone in a genre typified by misogyny. I am surprised that this performance didn't shoot her to stardom, instead she returned to the relative anonymity she came from." is great by the way. Go get yourself some of it and don't forget to follow me.


  1. I really liked Andromeda Strain, and I love the description on the poster

    The picture runs 130 minutes!
    The story covers 96 of the most critical hours in man's history!
    The suspense will last through your lifetime!

    This could also describe Quick Change.

    1. Did you see the mini series of Andromeda Strain they made relatively recently?

      And you mean the Bill Murray crime comedy Quick Change? Either this is you having some fun or I don't remember that film at all!

  2. I've been an advocate of Hombre ever since my old man introduced me to it as a child, I totally agree with your praise for Diane Cilento, and I thought Martin Balsam was excellent too.
    Have you seen Hud which Newman made 3 years before Hombre?
    It was also directed by Martin Ritt and features a marvellous, Academy Award winning performance by Patricia Neal.

    1. Martin Balsam was the Mexican looking coach driver? If so then I agree.

      It looks like Martin Ritt might be somebody worth investigating, a quick glance at his filmography and I see that Hombre followed The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, that alone would make Hud worth watching I'm sure. Nice recommendation.

  3. Letterboxd is addictive, isn't it? I need to start typing up mini-reviews every time I watch something. Would certainly help for future posts, as you said.

    I am shocked that I have only seen one of the films you listed: Paper Heart. I didn't like that one much, though I think I may have been burnt out on Cera at the time. I definitely want to catch Hombre sometime soon.

    1. I need to find more active people on it as my stream largely consists of me doing stuff and a few lines from other people watching a film. I'd say it's like Goodreads but for film, which is dangerous for me and the use of my time. A few more "social networking" features would probably help but forums take up a huge amount of space I believe.

      You realise that I listed eleven movies in this post including what people have been calling the cinematic event of the decade? To have only seen one micro film takes some doing. If you only watch one more of them then you can't really go wrong with Paul Newman as Hombre. Although reigniting interest in Fat City would be a good achievement.

      Paper Heart isn't going to be for everyone, especially those people who have had enough of Cera. I know exactly where you're coming from. But I'm a fan. He really plays up to his screen persona with this, makes some fun of himself throughout, also if you son't like Charlene Yi's style of comedy then you may as well give up on it.

    2. Well, to be fair I do plan on seeing The Dark Knight Rises this week. I promised my girlfriend I would wait to see it with her, and we couldn't swing it over the weekend. Bummer to hear you didn't enjoy it, though.

      Fat City sounds pretty interesting. Just added it on Netflix, though unfortunately they don't seem to have a DVD of it right now. Hopefully soon.

    3. Yeah don't take my grouchy word for it though!

      Quickflix had the same problem with getting me Fat City. Ended up finding alternative means because I was so eager to watch it. I love seeing The Dude as a young man. (but not in that creepy way they did in Tron Legacy)

  4. I find Letterboxd is often slow and unresponsive, and a lot of the time the movies I want to add aren't in the database. Other than that, it's a great site.

    1. I know what you mean. Goodreads has a 'librarian' function that allows users to add missing books. I think something like that would useful on letterboxd. Im working on the asdimption that its still in beta with the glitches on a 'to-do' list

  5. Since you needed help from someone else I'm assuming Letterboxd is still in Beta. It has been in that state ever since I heard of it about 6 months ago. Not having a lot of movies in it to select would be a big negative for me. If they ever get out of Beta I might try it, though.

    1. Hey Chip, I assumed I needed a Beta code because it asked for one BUT I looked around for other peoples opinions and it sounded like it was no longer in Beta.

      Personally I haven't found movies that aren't listed yet but that might be saying more about my tastes in film than anything else.

    2. Well, I just went to, clicked on Create Account, and the first thing it says is get a Beta Code from someone else or "Register your interest" (presumably they'd send you one). In either case, they are saying they aren't ready for prime time yet.

      As for the movies, Bonjour Tristesse watches a lot of non-English language films, so that may be where he is running into problems with Letterboxd. The thing is, they are a percentage of the films I watch, too.

  6. Great post. Treasure Guards looks terrible, but I loved The Dark Knight Rises. Sorry you didn't enjoy it.

    I'll add you on Letterboxd. Thanks for the follow!

  7. Chip - If you want an invite I'll send you one but perhaps you're right and it's better to wait.

    Josh - I feel kind of silly dumping DKR alongside such absolute dross as Treasue Guards but I have self restraint issues and Christopher Nolan started it. He called me names behind my back. Honest. What do you mean "grow up"?.....

    Thanks for coming by, I'm just picking up again after nearly a year away, it's nice seeing new faces.

    1. I laughed so hard at this reply. Chris Nolan did start it, and now people are slagging of the original Star Wars trilogy too, comparing it to - and saying - it's not as good as The Dark Knight trilogy. What planet are these people living on? Dagoba? (Well, probably not in this case.)

    2. Oh jeez Cherokee, I'm happy to have skipped that aspect of the DKR love-in. I'm actually reassessing my appreciation of the whole trilogy in light of the third part and remember how bored I was on rewatchng part 1 and how i forget the entire hour long sequence on the boat in part 2 in the light of Heath Ledgers brilliance.

      And that whole Dagoba thing made me spit my rum out of my nose. Thanks.

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