Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dogma (1999)

Not Kevin Smith's best film (that would be Chasing Amy), but a great piece of work, both personal and epic. The scene with Alan Rickman and Linda Fiorentino at the lake is just beautiful.

And how strange to watch a ten-year-old movie and think: 'They couldn't get away with that these days.'

Batman Begins (2005)

Featuring an astoundingly tense performance by Katie Holmes, acting throughout as if a fire-alarm is going off in the background.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Easy to admire, difficult to love.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis' visual sophistication comes lumbered with remarkably crude plot and characterisation. More than any other classic silent film, this one demonstrates why the coming of sound was so important to the movies. It allowed actors to develop stillness and subtlety, neither of which are much in evidence here. The frenetic acting may fit in with the concept of the super-fast mechanised world, but carried over two hours, it's completely exhausting.

Still, Metropolis is well worth seeking out in the restored version, in which the wilder excesses of Rudolf Klein-Rogge's acting are tempered by having the correct subtitles (so we now know he's actually getting worked up about his dead wife rather than improved factory production).

And wouldn't you rather date the evil robot Maria than the good genuine article?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

"So, what we got now is Brokeback Mountain, everything's built on that, that's all we got." Hardly. Watching Ledger's performances progress from livewire goofiness in Ten Things through to pained stillness in Brokeback, and on to something altogether stranger in The Dark Knight has been one of the more pleasurable journeys in cinema in the last decade. And now - alas - the journey is over.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Night Listener (2006)

Is this a roman à clef? A psychological thriller? A black comedy? I don't know. And neither do the people who made it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blade Runner (1982)

For all the tweaks Ridley Scott applied for the Final Cut, one of the main strengths of Blade Runner is its use of rough-edged in-camera special effects. Compare the weighty, muscular replicants here with the featherweight CGI creations in I Robot or I Am Legend.

Mad Dog And Glory (1993)

An uneasy film, with uncertain performances from the three leads. De Niro acts as if to say: what next, after Goodfellas and Cape Fear? (I'm not sure he has the answer yet). Uma Thurman hasn't quite worked out how to be Uma Thurman. But Bill Murray begins to develop the nuanced weariness that finally hits the mark in Rushmore and Lost In Translation.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

The Emperor has no clothes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Zodiac (2007)

Zodiac seems to have come from a parallel version of 2007, where 70s movies like Taxi Driver, The Conversation and Don't Look Now became the norm rather than a blip.

And it makes Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man sound irretrievably sinister. There's nothing about this movie that I don't like.

Bright Young Things (2003)

This time, it's Waugh.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Planet Of The Apes (2001)

You maniacs! You remade it! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to Hell!

Before Sunrise (1995) Before Sunset (2004)

I wish my life was like this.

Woodstock (1970)

Amazing to think that at least some of these people ended up voting for George Bush.

Shortbus (2006)

At times a bit like an adult version of a John Hughes Breakfast Club-style movie. Like its characters, this movie tries, and largely succeeds, in doing something new. Even better, the poster reminds me of the cover of Lou Reed's Berlin. I'd love to see a spin-off TV series...

The Black Dahlia (2006)

I noticed the excellent cinematography only because the script, acting, editing and direction were so bad. Like Los Angeles itself, The Black Dahlia is riddled with profound structural problems.

The Walker (2007)

Actors and a writer-director Hollywood no longer knows what to do with, producing the kind of movie Hollywood no longer knows how to make.

Gangs Of New York (2002)

Hopelessly miscast, woefully plotted and historically extremely dubious. Yet strangely compelling for all that. If only the whole movie could have held the weight and sadness of the closing shot.

Jaws (1975)

What a strangely cosy community it is whose only problem is a giant man-eating shark. Jaws is comfort food.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Remember that joyful time in the early 90s when all those clever medium-low budget Miramax movies were coming out? Reservoir Dogs is to this period what Star Wars was to the 1970s American new wave. The zenith, and the beginning of the end. Au revoir, les enfants.

Dune (1984)

Complete and utter madness. This is what happens when you give David Lynch 40 million dollars.

No Country For Old Men (2007)

The only essential Western since Unforgiven (1992).

I Am Legend (2007)

A film that reaches the screen looking tired and dated already. Watching it after 28 Days Later is like watching Logan's Run after Blade Runner.

The Long Goodbye (1973)

It's okay with me.

Brick (2006)

You, sir, are no Raymond Chandler.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006)

Barley shaken, but not stirred.

Philadelphia (1993)

The last great message picture. A relic of the Clinton era. Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive.