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kerraig UK

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Seen a real mix of genres these last few days, here's what I made of them:

The Iron Giant

A boy makes friends with an innocent alien giant robot that a paranoid government agent wants to destroy.

A beautiful film, both aesthetically and thematically.

Caught it on Film 4 the other day for the first time, they said the director subsequently went onto Pixar. I can totally see why Pixar wanted him. As good as those Pixar directed films are (Incredibles and Ratatouille), this is his best.

Had a lovely gentle humour and warmth, and though I knew what'd happen in the last 15 minutes the moment he revealed his ability it didn't stop a lump in my throat. The robot learning to talk and his mimicking of the boy, his incredibly cool Transformer type moment

when his suit opens up to show all the weaponry, his little protective head bubble

at the end and his learning all stand out to make a very likeable robot. The humans are really good too but it's the robot that steals the show.

Pretty damn awesome truth be told.


North by Northwest

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

There's loads to like about this film, it has a bit of everything. Great action scenes and story, a fair bit of humour and intrigue and a great cast. Our lead is cool and untroubled, infact it's almost as if he's in on it he's so unruffled. The baddie is a good one and I laughed at his mothers antics. Best of all was the female lead, her relationship sizzled and she gave as good as she got.

Odd bits look a little past their best (the car scene and the end with the knife) but they don't detract from the experience, and some scenes are utterly magnificent and definitely stand up (the wait on the roadside...). I really enjoyed watching Charade, I can totally see where that film got it's cue from having just seen Hitchcocks film.

Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable, I really liked this.


A Matter of Life and Death

A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.

This was marked out by Lord Cookie in his film roundup thread, it was a great as his rating suggested.

Think what most stood out and memorable was just how striking and beautiful the film was. I was surprised they did Earth in a lovely, vivid colour and heaven in B/W, I thought it would have been the other way around but it works brilliantly as is. Some of the shots and effects are almost CGI, but they're obviously not given the age of the film. Talking of the age of it (1946) it must have made such an effect on the people watching it at the time being so close to the end of the war.

It sounded a great idea when I read the synopsis, the film pulls it off with some lovely surrealism and acting. I'm not totally sure if it happened or not, I think a second viewing without adverts is very much needed.

Another 5/5.

Peeping Tom

A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.

Don't be tricked by it's age, it's a creepy and disturbing film 50 years on. Another first time viewing, it's a world away from the other movies above.

Seedy, dirty, grotty. I think they accurately sumup the look and feel of this. Nasty? His actions are, but is the film itself? I can totally see why this caused controversy, like I say years on it made me feel distinctly uneasy initially. As the film wore on it didn't shock anywhere near as much as initially.

It's a very interesting idea, that coupled with the excellent use of putting us in the eye of the murderer is hugely effective and probably why it's so unsetling. The lead is creepy and a freak, though I didn't feel any sympathy for him. For his circumstances prior yes, for him though no. The reveal at the end of just what makes them so scared is a very neat idea, utterly terrifying if you dwell on it.

The biggest criticism I have of the film is the casting and acting. Much of it felt wooden and stunted, the end was particularly badly done. The finale was a great idea but the way it was acted came off more as farce than anything else. The lead lady would smile and tilt her head to get across what the director wanted but for most of it I felt she was disinterested at times and creeped out at others. This was happening when she doesn't know what he is. The guy is a German actor I think by his name, but he has a German twang at times in this. Why? The film says "I was born in this house, lived here all my life", and that was in London.

The bit where he talks to the psychiatrist is as ham fisted as it is unnecessary. Did the viewer really need to be told just what the problem was, I think the previous 90 minutes did a good enough job.

I can see why it's controversial and why it's rated. Personally I found it more interesting than entertaining and it's not something I'd watch again.


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Survival of the Dead:

I went into this with incredibly low expectations and I often try to convince myself that Romero stopped making zombie films after Dawn. It could have been a combination of those low expectations and the fact that Diary was so poor, but I didn't find myself feeling quite as negative towards this as I thought I would.

The characters are awful, one dimensional stereo-types and Romero's message for this one is about as unsubtle as Avatar's, but much like Romero's other stinkers, it still manages to convey a convincing post apocolyptic tone.

I think the moral dilema behind the film is one of the more interesting one's in zombie lore but in comparison to John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling the Dead, Romero's take is incredibly poor. This isn't helped by the terribly written and acted Irish family fued or the bizzare teaching zombies to eat something else sub plot.

Better than Diary for me but like Diary, only saved from being a disaster by Romero's skill at creating a sense of dread and atmosphere.


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I also watched Terrence Malick's The New World on Blu-Ray, it is the fourth time I have seen the film but the first time in HD and the extended cut. I have had long conversations with Kerraig about this film as I have always viewed it as one of Malick's lesser films (although that is not to say I ever thought it was bad) but today, for whatever reason, I fell in love with it. Perhaps it was the lazy bank holiday mood or the slight remnants of my hangover but I just enjoyed wallowing in the films beauty and languid rhythm. The extended cut doesn't add much meat to proceedings but the (even) slower pace seems to help the picture. Much of the extra footage has been added to the first half of the film with Smith's arrival and his tentative meetings with Pocahontas. For me this section of the film has always been the strongest part so it was nice to spend more time looking at the beautiful scenery, especially in HD. When Christian Bale turns up the film does still dip a bit, not because of him but because the interesting central relationship is abandoned, but even this section held my attention much more than it ever did before. The film has always had something as I wouldn't have watched it so many times but now I can finally appreciate what many of the critics were raving about.


Its weird how you now love the film as much as I do, but still for different reasons. I agree that the Farrell relationship is the more interesting one, but the arrival of Bale for me is what lifts the film from beautiful romance to this fascinating comment on [ultimate cliche] the human condition [/cliche]

Having split up recently from an 8+ year relationship where we thought we'd be together forever, only to have my once 'life partner' tell me she doesn't miss me and isn't attracted to me, really puts into harsh light what the film is studying. That what on one hand can be seen as romance and magnetism, can then later be seen by the same subjects as obsession, dependency and infatuation. To see Smith as the all conquering hero at the start, only to then show the same character as the brutal ill educated thug, through the same eyes that fell in love with him, man it really hits home for me.

I watch this film every 6 months and I honestly cannot think of another film that really sees relationships the same way I see them. Where a promise can become a curse, obsession can destroy you and what made you feel like a God can so quickly become a source of ridicule. This is by far my favourite of Malicks films.

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I can't disagree with anything you say, I just enjoy spending time watching the first half more than the second. I think a big part is just the way Malick puts you into an almost trance-like place in the opening hour or so. The imagery, the pacing and the hushed dreamy narration put you in a state of bliss which is practically crushed when Smith returns to Jamestown. As soon as those gates open and the squalor and noise hits you my heart sinks. I totally understand why the transition happens (and if it is was all like the first half of the film it probably wouldn't be a very good movie) but, much like Smith, all I want to do is return to those simpler times and wallow in the beauty.

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I can't disagree with anything you say, I just enjoy spending time watching the first half more than the second. I think a big part is just the way Malick puts you into an almost trance-like place in the opening hour or so. The imagery, the pacing and the hushed dreamy narration put you in a state of bliss which is practically crushed when Smith returns to Jamestown. As soon as those gates open and the squalor and noise hits you my heart sinks. I totally understand why the transition happens (and if it is was all like the first half of the film it probably wouldn't be a very good movie) but, much like Smith, all I want to do is return to those simpler times and wallow in the beauty.

Yeah completely agree with that. The second half is almost painful to watch. Especially as if you put yourself in the shoes of 'the hero', then the ride in the second half is such a heartbreaking ordeal. So yeah I agree that the first half is a real pleasure, but the second is what makes it a great movie, and one of the only Malick films into which I think I get what he is trying to say.

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I watched 'I saw the Devil' last night and was very disappointed. It's gorgeously shot and I liked the score, but the performances were very flat, the story progressed in a predictable way, it relied on lots of very stupid coincidences and unbelievable actions by the protagonists (is everyone in Korea a serial killer? how could a hot shot detective not work out where the killer was headed at the start of the third act). I also felt like the end really missed its note and had basically zero impact. A let down.

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Think I'm all but done for now with my list of 60s films, onto the 50s I go.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch and Sundance are the two leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Butch is all ideas, Sundance is all action and skill. The west is becoming civilized and when Butch and Sundance rob a train once too often, a special posse begins trailing them no matter where they run.

Just realised this was released at the same time as The Wild Bunch and is about broadly the same thing, though the films are like chalk and cheese in approach. The films are about outlaws robbing thieving days coming to an end, the victims having enough a placing large bounties on their heads.

Both films are about the end of The Wild West, how their ways have been rendered incompatible and obsolete with the move towards a more civilised time. The Wild Bunch was pretty much solely about the villains being out of place and helpless because of it and it's apparent in Butch too. It's not just the law that's chasing them in the form of perfect bounty hunters who won't be thrown off course, but time that's chasing them as Butch and his sidekick won't be allowed to carry on.

So that's the similarities. Butch is obviously a much lighter hearted, gentle movie that's as much a buddy film about friendship as anything else. Found it funny and full of warmth, with some great moments of action and lines. Butch and Sundance bounce off each other, the actors playing them came across to me like they where genuine comrades.

There's loads of great bits in the film but three stand out to me as highlighting the heart and humour of the film. Namely the train and dynamite, the bike scene with music and best off all "Don't worry about drowning, it's the fall that'll kill ya".

I really enjoyed it.


The Day the Earth Caught Fire

British reporters suspect an international cover-up of a global disaster in progress...

Is this the first disaster movie? I don't know, it's certainly the earliest made that I'm aware of though. What I do know though is it's fantastic, a very big surprise for me at just how good it is. The film may not having the massive budget and CGI of newer disaster films but it's infinitely better than most.

It has a very distinct humour and edge to it that intrigued me. The lead is far from a clean cut guy and some of the things he says and did took me aback. His relationship with the girl sizzles throughout, felt they had a great chemistry.

I have no idea if the science in this is in anyway correct of feasible but it was markedly more believable than other disaster films, probably because it can't rely on green screen effects but needs actual people acting and a good story.

It felt a little preachy and obvious with it's nuclear disarmament message, funny and a little clumsy at how a peaceful protest only turns nasty when the pro nukes turn up and the violence is one sided. That small point aside though it really was a good film. I can only imagine the point was much more pertinent and powerful when the film was made given all what was happening at the time.

The end is pretty fantastic too, that final few shots in the the printing room making you think one thing with the very quick realisation that no, it's not necessarily as first seemed.


The Man Who Knew Too Much

A family vacationing in Morocco accidentally stumble on to an assassination plot and the conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering.

Dindn't know that Hitchock had remade his own film. According to IMDB this originally came out in the 30s but was adapted and recast for the 50s. I've seen the newer film with Doris Day and James Stewart.

The fourth Hitchcock I've seen and probably the weakest, though it's perfectly watchable and enjoyable. Didn't think there was much mystery to this one, the big reveal being obvious I found. Infact typing it now makes me think it's not really that big a deal at all.

Chapel being a place and not a person

It had a couple of nice moments, but some of it felt a little contrived and convenient to further the story. Which all sounds a little negative and a downer, but it was pretty good and well worth a watch.


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On the Beach

The War Game

Are all fantastic.

Actually I did a review for On the Beach in this very topic a couple of years ago:

On the Beach - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053137/

The residents of Australia after a global nuclear war must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.

Based on the Nevil Shute novel of the same name, On the Beach is the story of a US submarine commander who docks in Australia after a nuclear war between the US and Russia which has wiped out life everywhere else in the world. Soon the radiation will reach Australia and all human life on Earth will be eradicated. The film is a sombre look at the effects of nuclear war and what it does to the last people on the planet. Considering the year of its release (1959) you would expect a lot of melodrama and histrionics but that is not the case. At times it does slip into the story but it is always handled deftly and for good reason. The all-star cast (Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astair and Anthony Perkins) are all brilliant. Astaire gives a surprisingly nuanced performance in his first non-musical film whilst Perkins eradicates all memories of his Psycho performance* with a touching portrayal of a young father who must come to terms with giving his family arsenic before the radiation takes hold of them.

The 70s and 80s seems to be the defining period in anti-nuclear movies with films such as When the Wind Blows, Threads and Testament being released. On the Beach isn't as extreme and bold in its portrayal (eerily quiet streets are the most we see of the bombs impact on the world) but it is just as quietly affecting. It teases the audience with what might have happened and doesn't try and give easy answers to the hard questions. The only thing that slightly holds the film back is a horribly intrusive musical score.


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Knight and Day - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1013743/

June Havens finds her everyday life tangled with that of a secret agent who has realized he isn't supposed to survive his latest mission. As their campaign to stay alive stretches across the globe, they soon learn that all they can count on is each other.

Pairing two actors with the biggest shit eating grins in Hollywood (excluding Nicholson of course) looked like a decent idea on paper but I'm not sure they had a particularly great chemistry on screen. The opening half hour is vaguely promising with ridiculous set pieces and a breezy tone. The start is far from amazing and seems to borrow from better films but it was at least mildly fun. Then the mid section kicks in and the whole thing loses all momentum. The central relationship isn't interesting and without the frenetic action scenes the film has nothing to hold on to, not helped by an overly familiar plot that offers no surprises or villain of note. The effects are decidedly dodgy too. For a big budget film it has some of the crappiest in recent memory with no action sequence left untouched by unconvincing CGI. So in short: Promising opening continues on a downward trajectory into a piss poor ending.


Shrek Forever After - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0892791/

Rumpelstiltskin tricks a mid-life crisis burdened Shrek into allowing himself to be erased from existence and cast in a dark alternate timeline where Rumpel rules supreme.

I've made no secret of my general dislike of the Shrek films so the likelihood of enjoying the fourth instalment was slim. As a comparison to the other films in the series it is better than number three but slightly worse than the first two which isn't saying much, unfortunately. The story has potential and is probably the most interesting of the franchise but they don't really do a great deal with it and even at 90 minutes it feels like they haven't come up with enough ideas to sustain the concept. One thing that is becoming more and more apparent is how ugly the art direction is. In the first film when CGI animation was still relatively crude this wasn't that big of an issue but now the appearance of the films just look unsightly and when you compare it to pretty much all the other films being produced today it does not fair well. Once again the film relies heavily on pop culture gags that will date quickly, although not as many as previous films, and there are lots of occasions when you can see this was made with 3D predominantly in mind.


Make Way for Tomorrow - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029192/

An elderly couple are forced to separate when they lose their house and none of their five children will take both parents in.

This was an inspiration for Ozu's classic, Tokyo Story, and whilst it doesn't quite match the Japanese masterpiece it is still an interesting film that might be worth investigating. The film does some things very well, the relationship between the two parents is really sweet and touching and the final few hours they spend together is beautifully bitter-sweet. Where the film is less successful, although not to the point that it ruins the experience, is in the depiction of the children. I appreciate that they are supposed to be portrayed as reasonably uncaring but they fall into caricature too often to make it believable. There are still some good scenes between parent and child but a greater richness in character would have been welcome. Some of them are downright annoying, especially the younger son, but thankfully these characters are kept to bit part roles.


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I generally dislike Shrek and was forced into seeing it but I genuinely thought it was funny. Think your rating's a bit harsh! Did you not chuckle at all? I liked the sentiment behind it much more than the others too.

In some ways my favourite disaster movie is Miracle Mile. Just something about it.

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The Stepfather - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0814335/

Michael returns home from military school to find his mother happily in love and living with her new boyfriend. As the two men get to know each other, he becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand.

Hollywoods quest to remake every horror film ever made continues unabated. This time they have remade an average at best film rather than a classic (these are the sort of films they should redo as there is at least the chance that it will improve things). Unfortunately this is not an improvement beyond seeing Amber Heard in bikinis and small, tight fitting outfits (a film with this many good arse shots could never be truly terrible). It rushes through the story, avoids even trying to create interesting characters and lacks any sense of tension that a story of this kind should have. The casting is okay but it is the lacklustre script that really let's things down with clunky exposition and on the nose dialogue.


Post Grad - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1142433/

Ryden Malby graduates from college and is forced to move back into her childhood home with her eccentric family, while she attempts to find a job, the right guy, and just a hint of where her life is headed.

It is sad to see Michael Keaton reduced to such terrible films (admittedly he appears to be on a mini up curve again with Toy Story 3 but his career of the last ten years has been in this sort of tat). Bizarrely Keaton isn't the only decent actor in the film (JK Simmons, Jane Lynch etc.) so either the money was great or they have been blackmailed into appearing in this pointless excuse for a film. It has a wildly inconsistent tone, a bunch of characters that act differently from scene to scene and a plot that isn't remotely interesting. It is hard to see what somebody saw in the script to green light a project so devoid of any originality or spark.


The Marine 2 - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1266027/

While on vacation, a Marine sniper takes on local rebels who have seized control of the hotel where he and his wife, who is now a hostage, have been staying.

You know you are watching a bad film when you wish the star of the original Marine, John 'I really wish I couldn't see you' Cena, was in the film instead of Ted DiBiase Jr. (he really isn't his father who, incidentally, should have been in films). In the day and age of very few good action stars DiBiase Jr. may well be the worst of the bunch. He lacks any charisma and his acting seems to rely on two facial expressions: super pout and constipated stare. If the situation so dictates he might combine the two for a pose that resembles Zoolanders famous Blue Steel look. In fact pretty much the only redeeming thing about the film is Lara Cox's appearance, not because she is a good actress but because I don't think I've seen her in anything since her days in Heartbreak High. I always had a thing for her in that and the good news is she is still hot now. There is very little action which for an action film is pretty unforgivable. I'm not sure why there isn't more action as it isn't as if they spend the rest of the time developing the characters or on an interesting plot, instead it just creaks along at a snails pace with people standing around with guns and not much to do. It is a WWE film after all so it was always likely to be garbage but it might just be the worst thing the studio have made so far.


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Perhaps it's not the right place to put it, but my wife just visited the Ghilbi Museum near Tokyo. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to take pictures inside, to the point where a man came over and told her off for taking a picture of the Laputa robot inside. Still, here's the gate, sorry for the quality, taken on a mobile phone.

*sorry I'll replace the link with a better one later once I find a good image hosting place*

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I don't normally go in for those types of things but I've always wanted to go there. Especially as they have quite a few short films specially made for the museum that you can't see anywhere else (as far as I am aware, and if I'm wrong please tell me where).

Yes, she saw some original short film with Mei from Totoro and a group of baby Catbus kittens. The whole place is quite small though based on her comments.

The tickets are also timed which was quite funny, as she was going with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and their train broke down on the way. They were a few minutes over the admittance time and a surprisingly stern faced Ghilbi employee examined the ticket very closely before reluctantly permitting them entry.

I had tickets to go to it myself about 5 years ago but a typhoon canceled the Shinkansen and I couldn't go. :(

*edit* I believe the short must have been this one

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In the Company of Men

Two corporate executives play a cruel emotional game on a deaf woman

I quite liked this. It remained surprisingly unpredictable, and never felt overly moralistic. I think mostly this was achieved stylistically. The high octane drums at each sub-title screen and the often upbeat music and locations gave it a light hearted feel that was set in deep contrast to the dark characters on screen. The touch felt very light, and overall the film achieved a degree of unobtrusiveness which I think was both a strength and an asset. It was a strength as it left the film highly watchable and involving without ever feeling too heavy, but a weakness as it meant its most powerful points (impotency, competition, deception) felt underplayed.

Some of this was saved by the ending, which was extremely powerful. Overall, the film left me considering the roles that men establish for themselves in both private and public life, and how people can act to establish both emotional and structural strength. It was quite a potent observation of how people take on roles dependent on their situation (sexist joke telling in the workplace, pleasantries to women to their face). In this way it can deconstruct both corporate culture and gender roles at the same time. I liked the way that in the end Chad has tricked truly everyone - his wife, Christine and, most shockingly, Howard. When Chad asks Howard at the end how it felt to hurt someone so much, Howard is thrown into crisis and sympathy because this moment reveals how Howard himself was manipulated by Chad's chauvinism and charisma. My favourite moment of the film is towards the end, where Chad's wife goes to give him a blowjob. A perfectly fitting conclusion for Chad.

p.s. How did this director also make The Wicker Man? Although I suppose that was funnier...

Le charme discret de la bourgoisie

A group of people repeatedly try to have dinner, and fail

This was my first Bunuel film, and I found it quite intriguing. I'm usually more a fan of normal scenes being depicted shockingly (e.g. I prefer the structural ambiguity of Mulholland Dr. to the visual surrealism of Eraserhead), while this tends to depict the shocking normally. It didn't suffer for it, as its imagery was so frequently effective and incisive (my number one favourite scene of this has to be the dream in which their dinner party is revealed to be on a stage - elicited a genuine massive gasp from me).

Another film that, like the above, deconstructs hypocrisy. This probably did it better. I really liked the way that the dinner parties are repeatedly thwarted by the base normality of life (death, sex, war) that the bourgeois act like they are above. This was beautifully contrasted with the fact that, secretly and underneath, they do have to deal with these issues (the threat of Rafael's assassination, the affair, the problems in Miranda) but that these are suppressed. The way that the parties hit problems really evokes a Freudian idea of repressed complexes being unable to hold down, with the delaying problems being physical representations of the real world problems they try to ignore. This was re-enforced by the dream sequences, emphasising how the bourgeois cannot keep aloof from their own worries as well as their own. Real life, of course, catches up on them in the end, be it for their active evil or their complicity in the pursuit of greed and wealth.

The death knell of the 20th Century bourgeois ethos. We need more films like this for the modern day, as well as the resurgence of these old practices, the same thing happens in far less refined ways, as people attempt to remove themselves from the actual issues of their lives and the world (the dinner party is replaced by the TV takeaway, the drinks do has become the Friday night out, the ball has become the club).

Perhaps, as Roger Ebert suggests, Bunuel wants to say that in the end we cannot escape these hypocrisies, and he just wants to poke fun at them. The violent imagery of this film suggests to me that this is not the case.

I really loved this film. What Bunuel should I watch next?

La double vie de Veronique

I haven't much to write on this film other than it was beautiful. Amelie, eat your heart out. (and that is an imperative, not a statement...)

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Should have posted earlier as I've caught loads these last few days, but now coming to write about them I find myself unable to string together two words because of the impact the last two have had on me. Luckily I think they are pretty much all really well known so it's not as if what I'd be saying would be anything new.

Paths of Glory

When soldiers in WW1 refuse to continue with an impossible attack, their superiors decide to make an example of them.

An utterly incredible experience that left me simultaneously angry yet hopeful. I was surprised at it's shortness but it packs an incredibly powerful punch, it's a film that left me with so many emotions it's untrue. Incredibly powerful and thought provoking, it's as good as Kubricks other war film that I've seen, Full Metal Jacket.

So what left me angry? The people in command are utterly despicable, disgusting people. It's not just their pathetic actions and motivations, treating real people like they are chess pieces or their total lack of understanding because they are blinded by fame or an extra star that got my goat. Though it went a long way. It's the sneering and aloofness, that wandering around and waving in safety, the balls and dances, the wine and meals whilst the men are being sent to die pointlessly. But most of all it's one line near the end about only one person showing courage. Utter, utter cnut when he said that.

What left me hopeful? Well, the end obviously. It looked like going one way that'd be very bad but ultimately doesn't and it reaffirms the message that man aren't utter, utter bastards. Well at least not all of them. I felt the end was upbeat without being soppy, it gave hope without distracting from the horror and anger from what preceded it.

I just hope that the story isn't true, or based on actual occurrences. I get the feeling that it very much is the reality though, and I just hope the Kirk Douglas massively outnumber the Colonels.

As brilliant as anything I've seen by Kubrick I think, as powerful a film as any other I can recall and as good a demonstration of the sheer futility of WWI that one could want to see.


Rear Window

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

I think I've seen 5, maybe 6 Hitchcock films now. Generally they can be categorised as thoroughly entertaining and brave/ innovative. The odd one a little cheesy but enjoyable. All inventive. Now I can add masterpiece and genius, as that's what I think Rear Window is.

I found it utterly compelling and engrossing, I felt I was in the wheelchair watching, observing, guessing. Just like him I couldn't take my eyes off of that window, I had to know what happened next.

Had me guessing and second guessing throughout, did he murder or not? Is it all an elaborate setup and we are missing the bigger picture with another neighbour? Just what is in that case? Throw in a wonderfully endearing Grace Kelly, the masterful moments of suspense that are taken for granted, some hugely innovative bits and you have a classic of a film.

I can't believe I've only just seen it for the first time!


To summarise:

Pickup on South Street

A pickpocket unwittingly lifts a message destined for enemy agents and becomes a target for a Communist spy ring.

Surprisingly short but brilliant. There's one scene with Thelma Ritter that's incredible in it's acting and ability to get home the message.


The Killing

Crooks plan and execute a daring racetrack robbery.

A fantastic heist movie from Kubrick. Didn't like it's voice over, but it's genius is it's attention to detail and I really liked it's non linear style. Hugeky entertaining.


Strangers on a Train

A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder...a theory that he plans to implement.

I think the premise and ideas behind the film are maybe better than the actual outcome. It's a good Hitchcock film for sure, but I found Bruno more absurd than believable. It's enjoyable and worth a watch, but I was left a little disappointed after such a promising idea and start.


The Sting

In 1930s Chicago, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.

I found this as gentle and likeable as the other Newman/ Redford film I've just seen, Butch Cassidy. Hugely entertaining, would have made my best of 70s list for sure had I seen it earlier.


The Getaway

A recently released ex-con and his loyal wife go on the run after a heist goes awry.

Another corker that'd made my 70s list. Fantastic heist movie again, McQueens overpoweringly manliness was almost absurd at times but I bought into him really.


Charley Varrick

Charley Varrick and his friends rob a small town bank. Expecting a small sum to divide amongst themselves.

How many heist movies is that? Shit loads! Saw the end an absolute mile off, but it was an enjoyable film.


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I've deliberately left Rope and Notorious until it's time for the 40s list. Lifeboat is one that sounds interesting too.

With the 50s I've tried to stagger the Hitchcock movies by IMDB rating as he was so prolific. By that I'm watching one 5 star review like North by Northwest and then some of his "lesser" films like Strangers on a Train or The Man Who Knew Too Much, followed by another of his big hitters like Rear Window. Thinking being that I don't want to splurge out and watch his best first and maybe under appreciate some of the other films.

With hindsight it might have been better to watch them in chronological order, but that said I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading the recommendation on here, watching it myself and then coming back on here to enthuse. A times it feels like I'm stating the obvious, like everybody knows how good these films are, but it's been part of the experience.

Not seen Vertigo yet, I'm waiting on the postie to deliver my DVD. Think it'll be Catch a Thief next because I like Cary Grant, but in honesty I can't wait for Vertigo because it's supposed to be his best. Which, if true, will be quite some film.

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I can't wait for Vertigo because it's supposed to be his best.

That'll be Shadow of a Doubt. ^_^

With the 50s I've tried to stagger the Hitchcock movies by IMDB rating as he was so prolific. By that I'm watching one 5 star review like North by Northwest and then some of his "lesser" films like Strangers on a Train or The Man Who Knew Too Much, followed by another of his big hitters like Rear Window. Thinking being that I don't want to splurge out and watch his best first and maybe under appreciate some of the other films.

That's a great way of watching his films. Big hitters like Vertigo and Rear Window are films that deserve their own spotlight away from each other. I wish I had done the same, actually.

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Loving reading your experiences Bowser. It makes me nostalgic for my own discoveries years ago, and I get whipped up in the enthusiasm you exhibit.

Yesterday I watched AMER.

It's a Belgian curio that pays massive homage to a selection of portmantau and Giallo movies from the 60's and 70's. Most notably Bavas 'Black Sabbath' and Argentos 'Suspiria' and 'Profondo Rosso'

The most pleasant surprise is that it carves its own path plotwise. I actually found the coming of age story quite captivating. It mixes genres as each act tackles a different era of a young girls life, starting with the death of her Grandfather, going through her curiosity for boys, and then on to her eventual return to the home she grew up in.

It flits between surreal horror, French new wave, and into giallo style torture porn, but all the way maintains a captivating character arc that is wistfully and quite masterfully revealed using light, nature and architecture. There is a stunning scene where the girl goes to approach a boy on a motorbike, the reflection of the sun in his wing mirror working its way along the girls torso as she approaches.

Clever use of colour to denote moods, dreams, fears. Sound used to denote thoughts and memories (the drip dripping of a tap as a child being revisited to show the mania of an adult scarred by her past), a great central performance from all 3 ages of the main girl and a mastery of Directing that wonderfully balances sexual awakening with malevelont threat (The revving of a motorbike engine is as arousing to the young lady on a visit to town as it is threatening, bouncing through the alleyways and arches of the provincial town where the film is set).

Recommended for fans of Argento as much as fans of Godard. Some might say it is a little too knowing, but I absolutely loved it throughout.


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I saw Amer a little while ago but I was less enamoured with it than you.

Amer - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1426352/

Three key moments, all of them sensual, define Ana's life. Her carnal search sways between reality and colored fantasies becoming more and more oppressive. A black laced hand prevents her from screaming. The wind lifts her dress and caresses her thighs. A razor blade brushes her skin, where will this chaotic and carnivorous journey leave her?

Called a love letter to giallo by some critics I found it a huge waste of obvious visual talent. Split into three separate moments the story has very little cohesion or interest beyond the (very) pretty visuals. The first story (although to call any of them stories gives the wrong impression that they are about anything) focuses on an event in Ana's childhood. This references Argento in its visual flourishes (as does the black gloved slasher in the final story) but the story most closely resembles Mario Bava's The Drop of Water both in story and the way it is executed. The first section of this film is by far the strongest and it looks gorgeous, unfortunately they didn't manage to capture the creeping unease that made Drop of Water such an effective short film. After the promising opening the whole thing kind of falls apart. The second section is more like a glorified perfume commercial rather than an engrossing film and whilst the final section recovers a little it doesn't offer anything new. The likes of Argento may be best known for their visuals but they could, on occasion, tell a really good story too. This however is just a pretty succession of moving images and nothing more.


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