Monday, November 11, 2013

Movie Diary #16: October 2013

Right, now we're pretty much up to date with this stuff. October saw me return from the disaster that was my attempt to make a movie and hit the play button with abandon, really indulging myself with whatever I felt like watching and very rarely leaving the house.

After September October managed to supply 21 recommendations out of the 74 (711 year to date) films seen during the month. With my rewatch count kept to a paltry 2 (80 YTD) October was a month of comfort from quantity not guaranteed quality of "comfort" films.

I saw 16 new releases (114 YTD,) but only one is worthy of recommending but boy was it a good one. So that's 3 new masterpiece recommendations, seriously folks add them to the top of your watchlist, 8 more that are definitely worth investigating if you haven't already and 11 (an incredible 5 of which are 2013 releases) that you should never watch even if bored and it's a choice between that and staring at the wall for several hours.

Why Why Why Why Why Why Bother?

Ass Backwards (2013) Dir. Chris Nelson
Holy shit, what the fuck were they thinking? As unfunny and as excruciating as I expected The Internship to be and then some. Truly, remarkably bad cinema.
Simpatico (1999) Dir. Matthew Warchus
I might not always agree with the praise heaped upon movies by Roger Ebert but when it comes to movies that sucked he was almost always on the money. Sometimes a movie that isn't very good can be forgiven thanks to a fun idea that appeals to a small part of your non critical mind or great performances elevating a movie out of suckiness and in to mediocrity but with Simpatico there's a convoluted noir-esque plot AND good performances from great actors and still I found myself in agreement with Mr Ebert. Simpatico is a great big bore from start to finish. 
Mike's Murder (1984) Dir. James Bridges
Pretty slow and pretty dull neo-noir. Nothing happens for 45 minutes and then there's an hour of sloppy, badly written dialogue as Debra Winger "investigates" the titular event in a series of improbable moments.
Man of Steel (2013) Dir. Zack "Sucker Punch" Snyder
An incredibly boring movie that's about 2.5 hours too long. Like all of the problems with the Batman Begins origin story dragged out and expanded upon with a much less interesting character in a much uglier way, exactly as you would expect from Zack "300" Snyder. Not the worst blockbuster of the year but one of them. After watching this who would care that Affleck was Batman in the pointless sequel to a DOA original?
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) Dir. Robert Wise
How boring did they want to make this?! I can fully get behind the "escape the smallness of the TV" approach also known as "celebrate the massive nature of cinema" but the seemingly never ending attempt to explore the vastness of space by using sloooooooow moving shots of the Enterprise in spacedock or the ominous cloud destroying things slowly get incredibly tedious very, very quickly.
Violet & Daisy (2013) Dir. Geoffrey Fletcher
No surprise that it took several years from it's festival appearances to get a VOD release as Violet & Daisy is a mess of attempted shiny visuals and stilted dialogue delivered by two female leads who were clearly directed to be awful. Not the worst movie of the year but it's right down there. 
The Ultimate Warrior (1975) Dir. Robert Clouse
The Ultimate Warrior promises to be a fighting movie but the fight scenes are amongst the worst I've ever seen and the actual dialogue and plot are amongst some of the most offensively stupid and naive I've ever witnessed.
Turbo (2013) Dir. David Soren
Awful CGI animation from Hollywood for kids in 2013 has a new benchmark in garbage; Turbo easily surpasses Epic as the years worst, a feat I never expected to be attained this year or any other such was the abhorrent nature of said film. But somehow Turbo manages to be both derivative and offensive, it's incredibly ugly and its message is all over the place and they clearly spent about 3 seconds (if that) on thinking about the world building aspect of garden snails working in a factory and how talking nitrous oxide powered snails would interact with the human world.
Thin Ice (2011) Dir. Jill Sprecher
There's a reason you haven't heard of Thin Ice, a caper movie starring two incredibly likeable actors, one an Oscar winner and the other an Oscar nominee, the reason is that this film is one of the very worst instances of the matchstick man conceit.
10 (1979) Dir. Blake Edwards
I'd heard tale of this being a comedy but it turns out that's more of an urban legend as 10 starts off dull and proceeds to fail at causing even a titter for two hours. Perhaps it is unfair to expect something as wonderfully joyful as Dudley Moore in Arthur but I went in with low expectations and had them pulverised by the sheer tedium of it all, not to mention the offensive nature of the concept that felt just a little too long in the tooth for 1979. 1 star for Dudley Moore.
Earthbound (2013) Dir. Alan Brennan
I can't resist a Rafe Spall movie, and so I bring crap like this upon myself every single time. It's just not funny, at all, despite trying every type of humour imaginable at every opportunity. Rafe Spall is, as usual, great and despite being an awful cliche of a manic pixie dream girl Jenn Murray has a real quality and presence about her, beyond that there's nothing to recommend. In 2013 you can trust the Irish to release a terrible superhero movie about religious beliefs without the subtle metaphors of a Zack "Sucker Punch" Snyder joint.
Not Quite Some of the Best Movies Ever Made

Bug (2006) Dir. William Friedkin
The second half of this movie was like a train wreck that somehow blows up a nuclear reactor. Horrible, shocking, mesmerising, the kind of cinema that is so far removed from the staid comfortable lifestyle most of us live that your jaw will drop repeatedly (if you manage to raise it to begin with,) you will want to vomit several times, if you think on it too hard you may find tears have sprung to your eyes and the whole time your brain is screaming, fighting to unscramble what you're seeing, to put a label on it and quantify it as a metaphor or several metaphors even, a statement about something, anything, just so long as you can classify it and deal with the fall out in a more comfortable manner.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) Dir. Sergio Leone
Seen hot on the heels of watching Yojmbo and Last Man Standing and reading Red Harvest, it was always going to take something special in the telling of this story yet again to impress me and boy was I impressed. The combination of Leone's vision and Eastwood's performance elevate this version of Hammett's tale of corruption and a protagonist who exists in that grey area between black hat and white hat, playing two opposing gangs off against each other for the good of humanity and his pocket, above all other versions in terms of entertainment and enjoyment.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) Dir. William A. Wellman
A fine example of the early western-noir genre crossover that provides an awfully large amount of inspiration for the later award winning movie about mob justice 12 Angry Men; with an expected ending that still manages to pack an almighty punch thanks to some fine acting from all involved, a tight play-like script and strong directing from William Wellman. This film will place high on my list of favourite westerns.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) Dir. Robert Wiene
Another one of those films I thought I'd seen in film school but had actually only seen clips of, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is incredible piece of early cinema and as important as any film ever made. The set design and the painting of shadows is wonderful all on its own but the storytelling is a step beyond anything previously seen in the medium, the combination of which makes this film still highly entertaining and an enjoyable watch at almost one hundred years old.
Paths of Glory (1957) Dir. Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick's anti-war movie is incredibly effective despite how overtly cold he painted his villains in their lambs to the slaughter attitudes. Known as an innovator of style in genre pictures I was most impressed by how he almost never allowed the camera to rest, keeping everything moving back and forth or on a constant dolly, and not in a shakeycam Paul Greengrass way either, it's something that I don't recall seeing in previous war movies and to a certain extent even the films that came after.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) Dir. Sergio Leone
TGTBATU is a great acronym, and an enjoyable enough three hour movie but it certainly didn't live up to its predecessor, primarily it is a bit too deliberately slapsticky in its humour for my liking. There's a large part of the plot that revolves around the American Civil War which felt incredibly unnecessary and only served to dilute the hipster badass on a horse plot that had served them so well in two previous outings. I can see how by the time you get to the incredible (and it really does deserved to be lauded as marquee moment in cinematic history) Mexican Standoff denouement you might be exhausted and delighted by the ending helping you to forget about the faults that came before but really this is not as purely entertaining as a standalone movie as For A Few Dollars More. Sergio Leone still does wonderful things with his camera and with the genre and never has a Quentin Tarantino influence been more obvious than here. Then there's Ennio Morricone, his work on this film has stood the test of time and there's a very good reason why, he demonstrates an awareness of his art form and the way it will be interpreted that goes beyond 99.9% of composers throughout history, IT IS TRULY MASTERFUL.
Days of Heaven (1978) Dir. Terrence Malick
There's an obvious story as far as the plot in this movie goes, large swathes of dialogue, especially the narration, is unintelligible and I find a babyfaced Richrd Gere quite unbelievable for this role, much in the same way I could never take DiCaprio seriously as the world wise drifter in Titanic BUT still there's a poetic beauty to this film that raises it above such petty concerns as dialogue and story and pretty faces to the point where you deserve to indulge yourself in repeat viewings.
Electra Glide In Blue (1973) Dir.  James William Guercio
The combination of rookie director/producer James Guerico, master cinematographer Conrad Hall and the intense Robert Blake in the lead role create a stunning mix of incredible visuals and existential angst, within a meandering plot filled with bizarre scenes that would never find a place within a more traditional movie or anything made in Hollywood after 1978 I would imagine. Yet it's these bizarre scenes and out of place rants by the characters that make the film the fascinating journey that it is.


For A Few Dollars More (1965) Dir. Sergio Leone
If Fistful was the first great film I'd seen in months then the followup is the first masterpiece; For a Few Dollars More takes all that was great about the Yojimbo clone and elevates all of it to the next level thanks to a much more interesting (perhaps not original) script and a score from Morricone that has deservedly become part of pop culture legend. Eastwood is wonderful but it is the relationship with Van Cleef that takes the acting to new heights, the importance of having more than one great actor AND character in a movie. Volonte is once more the bad guy and his memorable performance as the deranged and effeminate El Indio is almost comparable to the two Americans in terms of entertainment and quality.
Gravity (2013) Dir. Alfonso Cuarón
How nice is it to see an intelligent movie for adults that isn't deliberate Oscar bait come out of Hollywood. After 109 new releases in 2013 I've finally found one that I absolutely loved from start to finish. It's going to take something very special to knock this from the top spot. Visually impressive, Gravity has the best use of 3D I've seen and I can't imagine such a useless technology as that being utilised any better in its current guise. But it is the heart pounding tension that Cuaron brings to the table that left us jittery as we walked around the supermarket afterwards, the kind of reaction usually reserved for far too much coffee, that is Gravity's gift to cinema. In an artistic medium that relies heavily on cheap jump scares and loud sound effects to artificially create tension it is an absolute pleasure to feel like it is organically grown from a tight script, wonderful performances and a director on top of his game.
Black Narcissus (1947) Dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
I seem to be on a run of watching movies I thought I'd seen in film school but actually had only seen brief clips of, Black Narcissus was taught in a subject called "genres" take note of the plural, what we were actually taught by the angry old lady was "melodrama" which as you may know isn't a genre in itself. I, and several other students, resented this incredibly narrow approach to what could have been a fascinating three months of study and Powell & Pressburger seem to have taken the brunt of things. Until now I thought that it was a well made women's colonial picture but I readily admit that my younger self was a fool. Here's the truth of Black Narcissus, as far as I know there is no finer, more complete narrative film produced in the second half of the 40s. Compared to this everything else sort of looks and feels like early silent cinema. How it didn't even get a best picture Oscar nomination let alone the win it so rightfully deserved is beyond my comprehension. At least Jack Cardiff's stellar work as cinematographer was acknowledged.

Pretty great stuff there I must say, a really good month for movies, any favourites amongst them? Don't forget to tweet your comments at me if you'd prefer.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Movie Diary #15: September 2013

Moving on to my very short September diary. This was the month I was supposed to be filming Good Times and the intense nature of attempting to salvage a floundering film is reflected in the very small number of films seen. Naturally it is considerably higher than if I had actually been in production!

31 films seen during September left me with a year to date of 637, with only 2 rewatches keeping my YTD total down to 78, perhaps that 10% target I was aiming for is still within reach? Of the 31 seen during the thirty days 14 were new release movies, bringing a year to date total of 98. And yet none of them were particularly good.

The most disappointing, and surprising, statistic from September is the 7 recommendations I have to offer you. All 7 are firmly in the giant waste of time category with nothing even close to being a masterpiece, so please continue to avoid them if you have managed to so far.


Love Crimes (1992) Dir. Lizzie Borden
Every negative thing said and written about this movie is accurate.
The Pleasure of Being Robbed (2008) Dir. Joshua Safdie
It's movies like this that give American indie cinema a bad name, these people are awful and nothing feels authentic, why don't we all just watch Silver Linings Playbook instead?
Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Dir.  Jeff Wadlow
So there's pretty much nothing good going for this movie, I can't imagine there's anyone who might take pleasure in such inane stupidity.
The Hangover Part III (2013) Dir. Todd Phillips
Potentially even worse than Die Hard 5. There isn't one single laugh in this supposed comedy.
After Earth (2013) Dir. M. Night Shyamalan
By far the worst Will Smith movie in existence at the time of writing. I'm quite saddened by this as that oeuvre includes Bad Boys 2. I'm a confessed fan of Smith and tried to avoid knowing anything about this film before watching it but the second Shyamalamalam's name got mentioned I knew to expect the worst. This however goes beyond the worst and for the most part the only blame that can be thrown at the directors feet was taking the paycheck proffered by Smith to put his name on it when apparently to all intents and purposes it was Smith in charge of this vanity project to make his son a star. I have no problem with that idea, I just have a problem that it's a deadly boring and unimaginative as this. That Jaiden is a pretty mediocre actor at best doesn't help matters either.
Diary of a Hitman (1991) Dir. Roy London
Whatever circumstances were behind the acting coach Roy London being left in charge of directing a multi-million dollar film are I'm sure the story might be one of the more interesting of relatively recent Hollywood history; there's bound to be hidden cameras and blackmail involved at some point. The fact that he was an acting coach is pretty ironic as every single actor involved in the production of this film puts in a horrifyingly awful performance.
Dead in Tombstone (2013) Dir. Roel Reiné
On their own the names Rourke, Trejo, Hall and Meyer are not enough to make me consider watching a straight to bargain bin movie but there's something about the combination of the four that made me think it might be worth while. Sadly that is not the case, the script is hopelessly bad, in particular the dialogue, and the direction is ham fisted at best. Don't be fooled in to thinking it's just a bit of fun, it's not, it's a waste of time. 
If I had to pick one film seen during Septemebr to recommend it would be the drug related social documentary Oxyana but it certainly wouldn't be for all.

Sorry I don't have anything positive to report from September but it was bad all round for me. Come discuss it with me on twitter why don't you?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

2013 So Far (May - Aug) Top 5 2013 Releases

The final part of my assessment of the second four months of 2013 is the one most people care about I guess, the best movies released this year. I've seen a massive 64 of them and these are the best 5:

5. Spring Breakers - Dir. Harmony Korine

4. White Reindeer - Dir. Zach Clark

3. Behind The Candelabra - Dir. Steven Soderbergh

2. Before Midnight - Dir. Richard Linklater

1. The Fifth Season - Dir. Peter Brosens, Jessica Hope Woodworth

As you might expect from such a large quantity of films to choose from this was much harder than picking five films seen in the first third of the year. Honourable mentions could go to another seven(!) over the past four months and they are highlighted below in the full list.

Full list of 2013 releases seen May - Aug: I Give It a Year, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, Parker, Star Trek Into Darkness, Broken City, A Good Day to Die Hard, The Place Beyond the Pines, Snitch, Bullet to the Head, Broken, Gimme the Loot, Behind the Candelabra, The Call, Stoker, Burt Wonderstone, Rapture-Palooza, Phantom, Mud, Odd Thomas, Penthouse North, Spring Breakers, Olympus Has Fallen, Redemption, The Croods, Off World, Pictures of Superheroes, A Field in England, The Fifth Season, GI Joe 2, Fast 6, Trance, Trash and Progress, Supporting Characters, White Reindeer, Europa Report, Pawn Shop Chronicles, Lunarcy!, Pacific Rim, Night Train to Lisbon, Only God Forgives, Rock Jocks, Oblivion, Klip, The Act of Killing, Before Midnight, More Than Honey, Drinking Buddies, The Lifeguard, Magic Magic, The Canyons, Byzantium, Touchy Feely, Epic, Laurence Anyways, The Heat, The Iceman, Pain & Gain, Clear History, A Teacher, The Look of Love, Empire State, Now You See Me, Prince Avalanche

What have you seen? What are your favourites from the year? Join the conversation in the comments or tweet @BBBGToby with #2013best. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 So Far (May - Aug) Bottom 5 2013 Releases

My roundup of the second third of 2013 continues with a look at the worst the year has offered me so far.  Having seen a scandalous 64 releases from 2013 the field was quite competitive, here are the five films I've enjoyed the least so far:

5. Olympus Has Fallen - Dir. Antoine Fuqua

4.  Epic - Dir. Chris Wedge

3. I Give It A Year - Dir. Dan Mazer

2. A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III - Dir. Roman Coppola

1. Die Hard 5 - Dir.  John Moore

So many awful movies coming out of Hollywood this year, I've been torturing myself in the hope that one of them will entertain me but it's so rare these days. It's as though they're determined to make the worst movie possible at all times, some other notably bad movies highlighted below.

Full list of 2013 releases seen May - Aug: I Give It a Year, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, Parker, Star Trek Into Darkness, Broken City, A Good Day to Die Hard, The Place Beyond the Pines, Snitch, Bullet to the Head, Broken, Gimme the Loot, Behind the Candelabra, The Call, Stoker, Burt Wonderstone, Rapture-Palooza, Phantom, Mud, Odd Thomas, Penthouse North, Spring Breakers, Olympus Has Fallen, Redemption, The Croods, Off World, Pictures of Superheroes, A Field in England, The Fifth Season, GI Joe 2, Fast 6, Trance, Trash and Progress, Supporting Characters, White Reindeer, Europa Report, Pawn Shop Chronicles, Lunarcy!, Pacific Rim, Night Train to Lisbon, Only God Forgives, Rock Jocks, Oblivion, Klip, The Act of Killing, Before Midnight, More Than Honey, Drinking Buddies, The Lifeguard, Magic Magic, The Canyons, Byzantium, Touchy Feely, Epic, Laurence Anyways, The Heat, The Iceman, Pain & Gain, Clear History, A Teacher, The Look of Love, Empire State, Now You See Me, Prince Avalanche

Agree? Disagree? What's your least favourite film of 2013 so far? Comment below or tweet @bbbgtoby with #2013worst 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 So Far (May - Aug) Top 10 Pre-2013 Catchup

Continuing to assess my year in cinema this is the first of three posts looking at the films viewed between May 1st and August 31st.

Of the 236 films released prior to 2013 seen for the first time during this four month period these are the 10 I enjoyed the most and all come very highly recommended.

10. Jess + Moss (2012) Dir. Clay Jeter

9. Dogtooth (2009) Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos 

8. Lorna's Silence (2008) Dir. Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne

7. Police, Adjective (2009) Dir. Corneliu Porumboiu

6. Atmen (2012) Dir. Karl Markovics

5. Damnation (1988) Dir. Bela Tarr

4. Wake In Fright (1972) Dir. Ted Kotcheff

3. The Colour Wheel (2012) Dir. Alex Ross Perry 

2. Weekend (2011) Dir. Andrew Haigh

1. Unforgiven (1992) Dir. Clint Eastwood

Anyone got a 100% success rate with these ten? How's your year going for great films? Tweet me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Movie Diary #14: August 2013

After several months away at work on a disastrous creative project and mental recuperation I'll be spamming your feed with multiple diary entries and other posts in the next fortnight. Let's start with August.

August was so far away! A mixture of pre-production on my now failed movie making endeavour and heading to England to actually make the film kept numbers lower than previous months, which may have directly influenced the amount of dodgy looking films I was willing to take a chance on. Of the 67 (606 year to date) films seen in August (9 rewatches with a total of 76 YTD) only 3 were really awful wastes of time and all 3 of them released in 2013. Whereas 9 were really very good and I even found 2 masterpieces, both recent films however.

My list of films seen released in 2013 reached 85 with a pretty hefty 18 added in August, the best of which, A Teacher, will place low on my Top 15 for the year so far.

Here's my 14 recommendations (both positive and negative) from August.

Avoid Like The Plague
The Lifeguard (2013) Dir. Liz W. Garcia
So I like Kristen Bell in this but it's all so bland and bordering on stupid and definitely unnecessary. There's an attempt to be "of the moment" in terms of structure, style and content but really it's shit like this that gives indie film a bad name, cliche ridden and handheld for no reason whatsoever.
Epic (2013) Dir. Chris Wedge
Pretty much the worst animated movie I've seen in years, ugly animation, lazy animation, terrible stunt voice casting, awfully basic storytelling.
R.I.P.D. (2013) Dir. Robert Schwentke
Well, yes, that just happened. A concept with a whole lot of potential ruined by a director who didn't seem to have a cohesive overall vision, a script that was highly derivative and lacking in FUN and some truly terribly CGI coupled with awful cinematography. This is a truly disastrous movie and here's hoping that Robert Schwentke will be dispatched to the Rest In Peace Department for terrible directors and so no longer be able to "entertain" us with such cinematic marvels as RED, Flightplan and The Time Traveller's Wife.

Minutes & Money Well Spent

Marriage Material (2012) Dir. Joe Swanberg
One of the most accurate yet subtle portraits of the differences between men and women and the way they approach relationships. You'll almost certainly find the crying baby divisive, I know I just wanted it to shut the hell up whilst others wanted to pick it up. The raw honesty that Swanberg brings to this film stands in stark contrast to the more recent Drinking Buddies and hopefully is a sign of what I should expect as I dig deeper in to his back catalogue.
The entire film is available for free via Swanberg's Vimeo page. 
Corky (1972) Dir. Leonard Horn
Leonard Horn's Corky is a true forgotten gem of 1970's American cinema. The story of an alcoholic stock car driver who still dreams big, who despite his undoubted talent is his own worst enemy, would feel right at home in the hands of David Gordon Green or Jeff Nicholls today, with its unflinching and unapologetic portrait of small town American life. Robert Blake is perfect as the titular character falling from grace in spectacular fashion, he's no Michael Shannon but very few are, and I encourage you all to seek out this movie at the earliest opportunity.
Shame (2011) Dir. Steve McQueen
Revisited because so many people have referenced this film after reading the script for my own current film project and considering I wasn't exactly gushing in my praise for this film previously it must have had a more pronounced impact on my subconscious than I realised; I kind of feel like a dirty plagiarist with some entire establishing sequences seemingly copied from Steve McQueen. McQueen really does structure his characters development very well, establishing mood as well as personality in a few simple steps and with the help of Michael Fassbender's wonderful lead performance he made one of the better films 2011 offered up.
My Favourite Year (1982) Dir. Richard Benjamin
Peter O'Toole is quite wonderful as the Errol Flynn type down on his luck drinking womanising Hollywood idol and to recast this role with Russell Brand is a much larger travesty than doing the same with Dudley Moore's Arthur, as Peter O'Toole brings a lot more to every moment than comedic likeability, his natural acting talent and decades of presence fill the screen in ways that 99.9% of actors could never hope to match, let alone "alternative" comedians slash celebrities slash big-haired junkies.
Hollywoodland (2006) Dir. Allen Coulter
Every time I watch this movie I like it more and more, there's so much to be liked in terms of content and performance. Adrien Brody leads the way as the private detective putting himself in harms way to get to the truth but the quality doesn't stop there with powerful performances from Diane Lane, Ben Affleck and Bob Hoskins in support. But it is the mood and tone of the piece that really captures my imagination, recalling Schlesinger's fabulous Day of the Locust in it's portrayal of the decay of the Golden Age of Hollywood in addition to period noir, there is so much more to Hollywoodland than mere noirstalgia.
Inception (2010) Dir. Christopher Nolan
I went from giving this film full marks 3 years ago to being barely able to get to the end. It's still visually impressive, the scope of his imagination is incredibly large, there's not a single bad performance from the huge ensemble cast and yet, really, when you get down to it, there's a great big nothing at the heart of this movie. It's all spectacle, intelligent spectacle but only distracting entertainment nonetheless.
A Teacher (2013) Dir. Hannah Fidell
Hannah Fidell's A Teacher is the second movie seen this month focusing on an older woman's affair with a schoolboy. Whereas The Lifeguard attempts to present Kristen Bell's folly in a realistic and sympathetic light A Teacher attempts nothing, it just watches the relationship, lets the audience make its own mind up and shows the very real consequences on Lindsay Burdge's teacher.
Fidell's direction is necessarily unobtrusive considering the potentially salacious subject matter and the film relies heavily on the performance of Burdge who is more than up to the task. She carries the descent from happy, functioning member of society in to a despairing wreck with apparent ease and even better none of the cliché histrionics that lesser performers might have been tempted to resort to.
For fans of the prevalent style in contemporary American low budget cinema, A Teacher is a fine film well worth your iTunes download purchase.
Truck Turner (1974) Dir. Jonathan Kaplan
Truck Turner is pretty much one long 90 minute chase scene that sets out at 100mph to entertain and doesn't let off until the credits roll. Much to my surprise Isaac Hayes is great as the eponymous anti-hero but he's not alone in a cast that features wonderfully enjoyable performances from Alan Weeks, Nichelle Nichols and of course Yaphet Kotto. 
Hard Times (1975) Dir. Walter Hill
From the opening scenes the cinematography of occasional Hill collaborator Philip Lathrop is superb, and it deserves to be seen for the way he makes each shot a piece of art but it is what it is thanks to the firm foundation of Hill's approach towards the material and the excellent casting of Bronson and Coburn. It is a film that could quite easily have been turned in to another silly caper in the wrong hands, especially if some unwise fool had opted to use the banjo on the score but Bronson barely speaks and Coburn bristles at every slight, between them they bring incredible presence and subtlety. And that subtlety is what sets this film above most others on a similar subject.


Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Straight in as my favourite film of 2011, heads a truly impressive 15 for the year.
A true masterpiece of the medium, visually stunning, a mesmerising film from first to last that piles layer upon layer of complexity and yet remains (if you choose) a sublimely simple tale of picking up a dead body from a field and performing an autopsy. Worth every second of the 150 minute runtime. 
Weekend (2011) Dir. Andrew Haigh
The first time I saw Andrew Haigh's Weekend I was so very impressed. Now I'm about to shoot my own film in similar cramped conditions I thought it was about time to revisit as "research". If anything it is even more impressive this time around. If I can make a movie half as impressive as this I will be a very happy man.
 Any thoughts? Hit me up on twitter

Friday, November 1, 2013

Blahblahblah making movies (or not)

You may have noticed that I've been away. You may recall I was taking a trip to England to make a no budget feature film. Now I'm back and I've got almost nothing to show for it.

Making a no budget feature film is a giant headache and relies on a lot of people doing a lot of work for next to no money or in most cases nothing except the experience and the pleasure of your company. In that kind of scenario you need to expect things to go wrong, or at least not as smoothly as you would like, especially in an industry that is as notoriously fraught with logistical nightmares and giant egos as film making.

I'm ready to accept that ultimately the failure of Good Times to get in to production is my own, as head of the production the buck stops with me but there's only so much one person can deal with and only so many times that person can be let down by broken promises before things reach tipping point.

During pre-production of Good Times I met some really great people who were willing to do anything they could to help my creative vision come to fruition but sadly they were few and far between and when it comes to outlining what caused my film to not get made they don't really factor in to the story, but just so you know, it wasn't all bad.

The majority of my experiences were bad, friends from film school who showed enthusiasm for the project, for finally getting out in to the world and making something that they trained for instead of sitting on the dole or in a call centre, were the first to let me down, from something "small" like not doing something they said they would do right through to taking back an offer of accommodation and leaving me homeless.

After that we move on to so-called industry professionals, and I'm talking about crew and actors here, people who didn't have the decency to return phone calls, text messages, emails or, you know, that other thing that people do when they can't make it to a meeting or simply changed their mind about a project, phone me and tell me so that I knew where I stood.

But most disappointing, from my point of view, was the equipment hire company who I was actually paying the majority of the budget to doing exactly the same thing. I can't see how a business can function with such bad service. Maybe this is just the way of the world and at 30 I'm old fashioned but to me this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in any walk of life.

So yes, no film to share, no trailer, no behind the scenes footage, nothing fun or exciting at all.

The trip wasn't a complete bust, I have one small video to share with the few of you who might care; I had the distinct pleasure of living with two members of the band The October Game whilst in England during the time they were preparing to release their third album, Balancing, and produced a promo video for them. Shot behind the scenes of the music video shoot for their first single We Built This Wall To Destroy It. I'm actually a big fan of the album and if you feel like checking it out you can find it on iTunes and direct from the label Scylla Records, something I highly recommend you do.