Film diary 2010

In summary, Dekalog is the best thing that has ever been on television, anywhere. Synecdoche and Precious are instant works of art, worthy to be mentioned with proven classics like Regle du Jeu and West Side Story. If the Coen brothers’ films are this good after just a few years, they will be immortal in a few decades. And if you’re in a Hollywood rut then freaky Tideland, sensitive Swedish horror Let the Right One In, original Africa United or anything by Miyazaki should get you out of it.

On the other hand, the sooner someone makes sequel loo roll with NarniaPirates of the CaribbeanNight at the Museum and Scary Movie printed on the sooner I will soil it and flush it down the john with Failure to Launch. Enjoy.

Twitter film reviews 2010


Prince Caspian (Adamson 2008)** Huge budget, 11mins of credits, but fails to bring alive the weakest Narnia story. Doesn’t know what it is.

Naked Gun 2 ½ (Zucker 1991)*** Timing, script and Nielsen’s expressions make this just as funny as the original.

La Regle du Jeu (Renoir 1939)***** Energetic social commentary dancing cleverly between physical/intellectual, tragedy/farce, stage/screen.

Harvey (Koster 1950)*** Genial comedy with James Stewart back when people could write and act. Possibly overact, and the ending’s fuzzy.

Dekalog 7 (Kieslowski 1989)***** The masterclass continues. This time: casting, child acting, conveying emotion through camera movement. Wow

Porco Rosso (Miyazaki 1992)**** Tale of inter-war derring-do would be utter cliché if main guy wasn’t a pig. Delightful animation as always.

West Side Story (Robbins/Wise 1961)***** With photography, music, lyrics and choreography this good the dated elements don’t matter.

The Hudsucker Proxy (Coen Bros 1994)**** Underrated comedy – feisty yet composed. Diverting performances from Paul Newman & JJ Leigh.

Ponyo (Miyazaki 2010)*** Innocent cutesy animation about 5-yr-olds & fish. Mixed style, feminist undertones & surrealism = not Disnified yet

The Remains of the Day (Ivory 1993)***** One of my outright favourite films. Beautiful balance, yearning story, acting perfection.

Synecdoche, New York (Kaufman 2008)***** Miraculous.

Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock 1943)*** The suspense delivers & some glorious moments, also jumpy editing & unconvincing concepts. Sat pm film

True Romance (Scott 1993)**** Throws bullets, blood & trash around like it’s the 80s. Big cast who die fast & cool. Kitsch Bonnie & Clyde.

Tideland (Gilliam 2005)**** Accomplished child’s view of extraordinary surreal events. Includes human taxidermy. Funny/disturbing/brilliant.

Bottle Rocket (Anderson 1996)*** Launched careers of Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson. Amusing as study for seminal Rushmore. Aimless but charming

Burn After Reading (Coen 2008)***** Even better 2nd time. Enjoyed witty script & Brad Pitt as a dork. A comedy gem.

The Princess Bride (Reiner 1987)*** Reiner does Jungian archetype comedy in his under/overstated manner. Very drinkable.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Hewitt 1991)** I’m sure this was funny when I watched it age 14. Oh.

Tropic Thunder (Stiller 2008)** Tedious, ego-driven comedy that falls into the traps it tries to parody. Couple of good lines & explosions.

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (Verbinski 2006)** It was on iPlayer. Did make me wonder what happens next.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (Verbinski 2007)** Menace depleted and intrigue devalued. Too long not to have any tension. Still a bit fun.

The Clone Wars (Filoni 2008)** Aimed at kids, this Star Wars animation had a destiny: to launch TV series and disseminate merchandise.

Chicago (Marshall 2002)*** Wanted to enjoy this glitzy musical more, but emaciated Zellweger & old tap dancing Gere made it difficult.

Kill Bill 2 (Tarantino 2004)**** Almost as incredible as vol 1, just with Thurman and dialogue a little stretched.

Night at the Museum 2 (Levy 2009)** Stronger than 1, but many weak characters. Comics ALL mimic Stiller’s faltering style. Tho Adams can act

Walk the Line (Mangold 2005)**** Bit linear, but beautiful performances from Witherspoon & Phoenix. Also: the music.

The Damned United (Hooper 2009)**** Sheen remarkable as Brian Clough. Expert evocation of 70s North – for fans of film, not just football.

How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Robinson 89)*** Hilarious, surreal tirade against consumerism, let down by over-talky script & abrupt end.

Scary Movie 3 (Zucker 03)** Leslie Nielsen’s still got it.

Dekalog 8 (Kieslowski 1989)**** The slowest episode so far, such that it exposes just how incredible the acting is. Timorous yet bold.

Failure to Launch (Dey 2006)* All that’s bad about romcoms including a female lead who looks like a foot. The one * is for Zooey Deschanel.

Mission Impossible 3 (Abrams 06)*** If the edgy explosions, murders & stunts ever paused there would be nothing betwixt. Luckily they don’t.

The Big Sleep (Hawks 1946)**** Swirling classic noir, excellent script (Bill Faulkner no less) –just don’t try to follow convoluted plot.

Also rewatched Fantastic Mr. Fox at weekend. It is terrific. Didn’t realise Anderson modelled Fox on Dahl himself.

Watched UP again last night. Gloriously crafted, but story too symmetrical, too contrived, too perfect. Sentimental music largely to blame.

Torn Curtain (Hitchcock 1966)**** Not his best but still classic Hitch: unbearable slow tension, awkward murder scene, careful acting.

A Serious Man (Coen 09)***** Consummate, no, EXQUISITE storytelling, regardless of subject. 3rd Coen film in row to ask ‘what does it mean’?

The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen 2001)***** Wry film noir parody that celebrates and in some ways (acting, lighting) surpasses the genre

I’m Not There (Haynes 07)**** Lyrical biopic, fantastical in form but beautiful in sight & sound. Of various Dylan actors, Blanchett rocked.

Topaz (Hitchcock 1969)*** The usual intriguing themes, setups and tensions, just andante with terrible french accents.

Frenzy (Hitchcock 1972)**** Uncomfortably intimate and gritty London murder film with comic seam. Dated, but draws compassion.

Africa United too good to review in a tweet. I’ll blog it later. But my, @catsiye has done awesome. Full review

Also, watched The Sound of Music for the 1st time ever this week. Now I know where all those songs come from. Not as transfixing as Poppins.

Kick-Ass (Vaughn 2010)*** I don’t care enough about US teen movies & comic books to really get this but it’s original & superbly executed.

Let the Right One In (Alfredson 2008)**** Tasteful, pared down observation of loneliness and adolescence. In Scandinavia. With vampires.

Also, watched Nanny McPhee 2 with the kids. Those films really work. Reader, I cried.

Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino 09)**** Today’s Hitchcock with slow suspense scenes & breakout violence. Rich colour and characters too.

Dekalog 9 (Kieslowski 89)***** Love story that crafts gut-clenching and heart-soaring moments from a simple tale of compromised marriage.

Dekalog 10 (Kieslowski 89)***** The lightest episode saved for the end; a more dramatic tale handled with coy, understated brilliance.

Precious (Daniels 2009)*****Astonishing & deeply sad story of an abused Harlem teenager lost inside herself. Told brilliantly & with hope.

500 Days of Summer (Webb 2009)** Indy clichés meet romcom clichés with an inexplicably crap voiceover and flighty structure.

Inception (Nolan ’10)***** Wow. Emotionally, logically & chemically satisfying action film. All other action films take note.

Downfall (Hirschbiegel 2004)**** Intense, intimate portrayal of Hitler’s last days. Powerfully done (hence the parodies) but so, so dark.

The Hurt Locker (Bigelow 2008)**** An episodic look at the Iraq war through a US bomb squad. Inevitable suspense; disarming honesty.

Also watched It’s A Wonderful Life again at the weekend. Still fresh, charming, moving.

Paths of Glory (Kubrick 1957)**** Tense film about abuse of power in WWI. Nuanced characters, script and ethical stance.