Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Stormy Monday (1988)
Could watch it again right now
I've always liked this film. It has a good feel, a great sound and a fantastic look. Mike Figgis' first feature and although the pace may seem casual, it is in fact always moving forward and ever interesting. Sting and Sean Bean are probably punching above their weight here but it all works and there is always the marvellous Tommy Lee Jones and lovely Melanie Griffith to make up for any shortfall in the acting on display. The city of Newcastle is the very effective location for much evocative filming. The bar and night club exteriors look great with their neon glow and the bridge at sunrise a fantastic sight. Not sure what the Polish connection was all about but gave the film an extra dimension. Very enjoyable. Could watch it again right now.
Beautiful Stranger (1954)
we don't care about anything at all
This is problematic from the start. Stanley Baker seems okay but while he enthuses over his young love we are only too aware that poor Ginger Rogers is a little old for her role. Another problem arises almost immediately when we realise just how flat and uninteresting this is going to be. Baker looses it as he has to become more two faced and Rogers doesn't stand a chance as she has to take on another lover. Only Herbert Lom stands a chance of saving the day and as things hot up towards the end it seems as if he might but then the story unravels and we don't care about anything at all.
I enjoyed the film with its glimpses of Greenwich, Woolwich and Brighton (including the lost pier)
Everything about this is 'pretty good' but director John Mackenzie was still finding his way and probably not the man to raise this to the level it might have reached. Based on Howard Barker's own play this is clearly a serious piece and that the fate of a baby overshadows the anti religious aspect is unfortunate. Ironically, although the fate of the babe, for me, gets in the way of the main thrust of the film, it is the most realistic portrayal I have ever seen. The film also takes a while to get going and this coincides with the arrival of Roy Harper. No great actor but his likeable and laid back performance knocks spots off some of the others. I enjoyed the film with its glimpses of Greenwich, Woolwich and Brighton (including the lost pier) but just feel it could have been so much better.
Le amiche (1955)
this is the 50s, so even the fashion scenes are ugly
I found this early Antonioni rather difficult. It is very wordy with hardly a care for the visual aspect, except perhaps for the rather ragged and desperate beach scene, oh and the rather splendid final shot of the train leaving the station. Otherwise this is straight soap opera with a bunch of very unlikeable ladies and some barely any better men, going on interminably as to whether they should see someone, leave someone or kill themselves. All this bunch of nothing is vaguely centred around the activities of a rather prestigious fashion house. Unfortunately this is the 50s, so even the fashion scenes are ugly. I'm sure a case can be made for how significant this is at pointing the way ahead for the maestro but I really can't get up the enthusiasm.
Class of 1984 (1982)
Not much style but plenty of panache
Much more an early 80s exploitation movie of the revenge sub genre than a high school movie, this has many fans. It is not particularly something I am normally drawn to. There is something unreal and more problematic, unlikeable about cocky, swaggering, over age 'children' beating up the vulnerable in toilets and threatening the teachers' wives with rape. I guess, I prefer my revenge movies out in the open streets, in the jungle or if I am to really show my prejudice, in an Asian setting. Nevertheless, after, for me, an awkward start, a certain momentum is achieved and the lengthy final act very well done indeed. Not much style but plenty of panache.
Paris nous appartient (1961)
The young men look far too old to be going around acting in the way they do
A rather wordy first feature from Jacques Rivette set in 1957 and probably filmed that year as we know it took some time to get a release. If the film had difficulties back in the day it would seem it has even more now. The young men look far too old to be going around acting in the way they do yet we are presented with this bunch of alienated persons, alienated either by their own existentialist attitude and stated beliefs or their immigrant status. One has fled Spain another the fruits of Mccarthyism in the US and all meet and disperse, foretelling of doom, murder and suicide. At the same time a production of Shakespeare's Pericles is being attempted and although I do not know the play I understand the problems of staging it is an ongoing feature and the unresolved nature of much of the play is reflected here in the story of alienated 'youth'.
La morte ha fatto l'uovo (1968)
it takes a few seconds to grasp that the action has more or less all taken place in the preceding ten minutes
Why do I have such a soft spot for this film? There is no story of any significance and there is a disconnect between what people say and do. Or seem to say and appear to do. Additionally, Jean-Louis Trintignant the main male character acts bored throughout. Except for his rather vigorous spats with prostitutes in a certain hotel room. On top of all that there is the setting - an ultra modern (for the time) indoor chicken farm where rather strange and disturbing goings on tend to interrupt the more usual giallo grapplings of the wife (lovely Gina Lollobrigida), the aforementioned husband (Trintignant) and the amazingly doll like and gorgeous Ewa Aulin (secretary would you believe, complete with pool side typewriter). Visually the film constantly stimulates with shape and colour that screams to the viewer that this is 1968. The beauty of the lights, the furnishings and the costumes plus the surreal and worrying hundreds of white chickens and the automated mechanisms all vie for our attention in such a way we barely notice the lack of coherent plot. The end is so sudden, it takes a few seconds to grasp that the action has more or less all taken place in the preceding ten minutes and interrupted our wallowing in the beauty colour and light that represents most of the films running time.
Caltiki il mostro immortale (1959)
It is quite interesting to watch this and note the scenes that Bava might have directed, certainly he special effects, plus with the man behind the camera this tends to look reasonably good most of the time. There is also interest into how much this is influence by the UKs own Quatermass TV series of the American, 'The Blob'. But not that interesting and the film though mercifully short does not really have a lot going for it, certainly not for those who are not particularly enamoured with 50s science-fi anyway.
Milou en mai (1990)
Worth a watch but probably only one.
Took this out of the Louis Malle box without paying too much attention and was not aware of the date, or that the title translated to 'May Fools'. So once the family are back at their country house after the death of their mother and the background news is of the '68 Paris riots, I'm assuming this is a vaguely contemporary film. But no, as becomes increasingly obvious this is 20 years on and a look back at those 'mad' country folk with more money than sense. It is an engaging but slight film with a rather pretentious element that gets i the way of the slight humour and vague attempts at political insight. Piccoli is great as ever and Miou-Miou as lovely as ever. Worth a watch but probably only one.
there will be many arguing for what is so or not so in this wondrous extravaganza, but it will not be me
Stories told about Bob Dylan are almost as old as the man himself and it will not be me who claims to unravel the real from the unreal or the interesting from the uninteresting. In the same way there will be many arguing for what is so or not so in this wondrous extravaganza, but it will not be me. The original footage included here is of far higher quality, both technically and artistically, than we had any right to expect and if it is woven imaginatively, so much the better. I don't recall Dylan ever looking as animated as here on stage, nor perhaps as consistently happy but more importantly knocking out the songs so very well. This is a fantastic (even if possibly fantastical) film which I enjoyed from beginning to end and if someone wants to pick apart the Sharon Stone or Hurricane sequences, let them I don't care. No fan of Bob Dylan will not want to see this. No fan of Bob Dylan will (or at least should) be disappointed with this extremely well made tribute to the man and record of a certain time.
Tokyo Sonata (2008)
putting subtitles on this a bit of a waste of time
I'm at a bit of a loss with this film. It seems highly unlikely that the whole phenomenon of Japanese workers pretending to still be employed after they had been made redundant was not known to the Japanese people but I suppose people wouldn't have done it if this were not the case. Unless everyone, wives included went along with the pantomime so as not to lose face with their friends and neighbours. However it all came about it is not a happy tale and this is not a happy film. In addition here we have the elder son joining the US army, I didn't know that happened, and the younger is also living a school life of pretence. Just when the viewer is completely fed up with the whole daft subterfuge, the director seems to go for laughs and the film becomes a farce, but not funny in the least. I have to assume that this self harm and humiliation rings some bell with the Japanese and not with anyone else which means putting subtitles on this a bit of a waste of time.
Shirley: Visions of Reality (2013)
possibly more suited to a gallery installation
This is not a particularly easy film to watch due to the lack of specific narrative flow but it is even more difficult to write about. Based upon the realisation of thirteen of Edward Hopper's paintings, this is a mesmerising experience as the pictures appear, filling the screen, with characters then appearing within the immaculately contrived images. The orange, yellow, green and brown are immediately recognisable and there is always a clear light source, usually open window or cinema screen. The concept is not entirely spurious as Hopper apparently utilised film or literary sources as inspiration but it is a most unconventional film and possibly more suited to a gallery installation. Certainly looks good though.
Wonderful cinematography giving stunning shots of the beaches, naturist and mixed
Set on the small Greek island of Antiparos, this is a deceptively simple tale of a middle aged man taking up a medical post one Christmas Eve and takes advantage of the hedonism of the young when Summer arrives. What could possibly go wrong! This is so well directed that it seems at times, more like a fly on the wall documentary. The actors, professional and amateur, blend beautifully and whether clothed or not present a perfect picture of an idyllic holiday in the sun. There is evidence of tension between the locals and the visitors, a sign that as our respected doctor dips his toe further and further into the water something will go awry, but we cannot be prepared for the actual denouement. Wonderful cinematography giving stunning shots of the beaches, naturist and mixed, and that natural acting all helping to lull us into what has to be a false sense of security, like our middle aged doctor and all that young flesh.
it would have been a lesser film without Stone.
From the mesmerising Saul Bass opening credit sequence, being an abstract mosaic created from inter-cut close-ups of Vegas neon, to the re-run of the exploding car, this is one brash and beautiful beast all the way. Of course, longer than it really should be, with maybe too many shots of the counting room and cash being channelled noisily, but then everything here is appropriately excessive, not least the violence. The language is confrontational, the lighting and colour shrill but the seamless editing draws us along, in what is essentially a rather slim story, eager to indulge further in the gluttony on display and arrogant swagger, shamelessly celebrated. I'm not a great fan of De Niro but he does well here, his rather flat delivery providing excellent contrast to the performance of a lifetime from Sharon Stone. Despite the amazing skills of Scorsese in bringing off this amazing cinematic epic with such pizzazz, it would have been a lesser film without Stone. Much criticised, she is undeniably an actress who with the right incentive can, seemingly effortlessly, lift a movie way out of the norm. If not more important than Taxi Driver, this probably is the better film due to the exuberance and sheer love of cinematic movement on display, oh and awareness of the importance of a superlative soundtrack.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
I understand that this film has ardent fans but I don't understand why
I understand that this film has ardent fans but I don't understand why. If this were a late 50s/early 60s low budget effort by a few college kids having a fun time, fair enough. But, here there are big names, respected people who surely should have noticed something was awry. Probably a great time can be had by those who love films that they claim, 'are so bad they are good' but come on, this is a shameful effort. Poor script, bad acting, stupid concept and surely less engaging than the worst Star Trek TV episodes. This is the worst film I have seen in a long time and that it should have been directed by Robert Wise seems very sad. I feel he did the best he could with what he had but he should really have been more aware of the limitations and done something drastic like cutting the running time to make it tighter or introducing something more involving plot line. Never seen this before and always imagined I may be missing something. Not so!
excellent dialogue and impressive cinematography
Ten years on from his classic, Out of the Past, Jacques Tourneur turns out another fine film. It does not have quite the gravitas of the earlier film and Aldo Ray, Brian Keith and even the lovely Anne Bancroft not quite the stature of Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas and Jane Greer but, nevertheless a snappy and stylish effort with the wonderful snowy Wyoming landscape as the rural setting contrasted with the neon lit LA scenes. The slightly improbable but simple story is intriguingly told with flashbacks, excellent dialogue and impressive cinematography. We are drawn in at the very start when a strange automobile accident interrupts a fishing trip and held until the very end and the stunning and suspenseful snow plow sequence.
The Big Clock (1948)
Elsa Lanchester is more or less parodying herself
This has a very slow start and the back story regarding the long delayed honeymoon takes centre stage for far too long. Once things start to move, however, the great performances. the fine camera work, the quirkiness and the suspense all contribute to this being a very watchable film. Charles Laughton is Charles Laughton, as usual but is effective as a ruthless publishing house boss. Ray Milland seems far more relaxed and less wooden than I usually find him and although Elsa Lanchester is more or less parodying herself, she does it so well.
Boogie Nights (1997)
the film works, like some dream
Very impressive piece of film making from Paul Thomas Anderson. Great spot on visuals and dialogue but it is his ability to guide actors that is probably the most important aspect to this. Burt Reynolds is famously dismissive of the film, the director and his role and yet for me he has never been better. If only he had been encouraged to perform in this more low key and controlled way more often. Others are encouraged to be more demonstrative and Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance as the besotted youngster is a little embarrassing but so believable in this mixed up and crazy world. Mark Wahlberg has also been known to be a bit sniffy about his part in this but has he surpassed this role, one wonders. Similarly, Anderson extracts from Julianne Moore, surely one of her greatest performances. Overall, the film works, like some dream, rolling from one incident to another, highs and lows all contributing to the creation of the ultimate sex film at a time when so many were made in such a short space of time. The inevitable toll upon the participants is well illustrated and in such a way that we tend to be sympathetic rather than morally judgemental. Great film.
Wai dor lei ah yat ho (2010)
even the most appalling scenes of violence exquisitely presented
Following the handover of Hong Kong by the Brits in 1997, the outrageous and extreme cinema it used to produce was bound to change. This, however, seems to have slipped through whatever net the Chinese authorities have in place and is as sexually explicit and gratuitously violent as ever. There is a socially right on aspect to the narrative because the property that our heroine fights to claim was where she lived as a child and had taken away by developers. Nevertheless the outrageous and barely watchable violence here is extreme in the extreme. At the same time it is a beautifully framed and shot film, with even the most appalling scenes of violence exquisitely presented. Morally dubious but audaciously appealing, this is a fantastic example of latter day splatter with the added horror that there is an understandable element to the killings even though the dead are all innocent, and some die by accident, oh and there is even some humour.
The Harder They Come (1972)
clearly made on the run and very much an influence on the future of reggae music.
Watching this once more after a gap of some years, I was blown away. Admittedly the Blu-ray print is stunning, I had thought the grainy, hard to see and hard to hear copy I had was a reflection upon the original, but no. Not as 'professional' looking in places due to low budget but this is easily compensated for by the tremendous energy, imaginative camera work and obvious star quality of Jimmy Cliff, who shines in every scene. I had some recollection that the movie was a bit choppy and tended to lose its way but this is absolutely not the case. This may not be the best advert for Jamaica, with its poor folks inevitable reliance on criminal activity and the appalling light the leaders of everything are put in but hey, its probably not so different today. Bursting with brilliance this is an eye catching, ear catching tour de force and its (uncredited) inclusion of a clip from Django (1966) is most appropriate as both this film and much of the music here celebrated seems to give more than a nod to those wonderful, late 60s/early 70s, spaghetti westerns. Brilliant and innovative film, clearly made on the run and very much an influence on the future of reggae music.
did those scenes of the AA meetings really have to go on throughout the whole movie
Not quite sure what I expected here. Despite pre-release assurances to the contrary was this going to be a saccharin heavy glory tale? Or maybe it really would be a warts and all transgressive tale of absolute excess? Inevitably, I guess, the result is something in the middle. The early minutes are appalling with dancing in the street and Elton as a small child but things improve and the meeting and early days with Bernie Taupin extremely good. It is the second quarter of the film as Elton struggles to establish himself as a performer and a person that are the best but sadly things then take a turn downwards, but just not darkly enough. There is far too much of Elton feeling sorry for himself and blaming everybody else while the soundtrack races on like some over excited tribute band. I have always like the man's voice but not much else and here, we do not even get to hear his voice. I'm sure some will love this but it would have to be someone steeped in his music from the beginning. Not much here for the neutral and did those scenes of the AA meetings really have to go on throughout the whole movie and so many scenes end with 'Its just a dream'!
Il grande duello (1972)
vaguely surreal touches and many a twist and turn
Most entertaining with a solid central performance, of course, by Lee Van Cleef. The support is decent with a blue eyed, acrobatic, hippie child, Alberto Dentice and a trio of baddies and although this starts predictably and simply enough with a stage coach held up and a lot of guys out for a $3,000 bounty, things get more complicated. Indeed while we are happily watching the simple comings and goings as one guy shoots another and a lady falls out of her dress we become aware that there are more and more characters and backstories being introduced. Jolly and probably unwisely 'humorous' at the start this changes along the way and there are b/w flashbacks, aspirations as to The White House, vaguely surreal touches and many a twist and turn. Basically remaining a fairly stock spaghetti, however, this remains enjoyable throughout and until the effective 'grand duel' which isn't really anything of the sort. Great looking with great score.
How I Won the War (1967)
I seem to recall liking this upon its original theatrical release
I seem to recall liking this upon its original theatrical release and certainly looked forward to seeing it again. My interest had been rekindled by a recent visit to Ameria, in Spain where the cast and crew retired to each day after filming in the nearby desert location, popularly known as 'mini Hollywood'. Unfortunately, although very well intentioned and in some ways hard hitting, for me the encouraged silliness of Crawford and others, now makes it a difficult watch. Undeniably famous for introducing the 'working class' spectacles to John Lennon and for being the time and place where he would compose 'Strawberry Fields Forever', there are at least lasting elements to a brave but flawed venture.
Boccaccio 70 (1962)
charming, colourful and revealing
Without doubt over long at almost three and a half hours but easily watched in parts. I watched the first three segments and the fourth later and this, I understand was never included outside Italy anyway and is not quite as enchanting as the rest. The opening part from Fellini is impressive, with wonderful colour, movement and imaginative and surreal moments. Despite the presence of Anita Ekberg, however, it does begin to tire and for a short film begin to seem rather long. I really enjoyed the Visconti contribution and the wonderful performance from Rome Schneider in particular. It is good to see Tomas Milian in an early role but he is rather overshadowed here. Against my expectations, I particularly enjoyed the de Sica item featuring a masterful performance from Sophia Loren. I particularly liked the dubious illegal lottery for sex element and all the fairground vehicles and rides but it has to be said that even if Loren cannot act like the sultry and bewitching Schneider she certainly has a an amazing physical presence. Overall, charming, colourful and revealing of early 60s Italian sex foibles.
not easy for a non-Japanese to get all the nuances
Another extraordinary film from director Eiji Uchida. Full of power, energy, a kaeledoscope of colours and showing great confidence with well composed scenes with complicated action this is just as, maybe more so, crazy than the earlier Greatful Dead. Easier to enjoy if not fully understand, this seems to once again be about the real struggle in Japan for youngsters to find a transition from school to employment and society in general. In my visits to the county I have seen nothing to suggest rebellion on the scale shown here but the reality gap between the young now and the old, seemingly unchanged, for many, many years is palpable in certain spots where youth culture is challenging the existing order. Sairi Ito is impressive as the irrepressible youngster trying all sorts of ways to conform as best she can and Kenta Suga her well played counterpart. Stylish, violent, sexy and pertinent but not easy for a non-Japanese to get all the nuances that I am sure are present amidst the seeming mayhem of this uncompromising picture.