Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

"Never answer the phone..."

I'll give you three guesses as to what I dreamed about last night.

Today I began my journey as Film Buff par excellence. I'm sitting in the room where the class is taught, beneath a poster for Pulp Fiction, in front of one for Trainspotting and directly opposite one of Arwen - and if that combination doesn't inspire complete confidence, I don't know what does. Plus, I've a sneaky suspicion that small picture under the board is of Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby. Though the less said about the 1998 Les Miserables poster the better - it's truly awful.

We’re writing two pieces of coursework – one on rom coms, in which we’re particularly looking at Chasing Amy, and one on horror…

Oh dear.

I hadn’t told you, had I? Bona fide chicken. Very very low fear threshold. I saw Sixth Sense and never looked back – and I think we’ll all agree that’s hardly the scariest film in the world. Ooops. They did Halloween last year. Double oops. I’ll have to put up with it though…

Then we’re doing a module on Swinging Britain – Hard Days Night, Darling and Performance. If – a film Peter Gabriel auditioned for when he was a lad - is also on the syllabus, though I don’t think we get to see that. Our teacher warns us that Performance is rather explicit (I vaguely remember it from a book on censorship I read) and he’s not sure how far we’re comfortable with that. To be frank, I’m not particularly but I don’t mind that much.

Then for close study films we get to look at From Russia with Love (groan – I wasn’t aware James Bond had that much cinematic merit, though it has been a while since I’ve seen them…) and possibly Get Carter. Here’s the reasoning – if I complain about a scary film, then protest about a steamy film, he’ll probably scrub this one from the syllabus on the assumption I get sensitive over violence too. Not true, by any means, and I do so want to see this I intend to keep my mouth shut about the others.

Just as a note – our sixth form is joint with a boys college, and for my school at least it’s like Sir Galahad coming to Castle Anthrax. So as an icebreaker today, our teacher paired our small class of six boy-girl and we had to discuss what would be our perfect film while he got coffee. Wow, this is supposed to be work?! Anyway, me and Pete said hi and I waited for him to speak first. After a while this got boring, so I decided he’d had his chance and launched into an involved Terry Gilliam directed love ode to the colour brown, starring Robert Redford and Monica Belluci (though definitely not as a couple). When I stopped for air, he said “you’re really into films aren’t you”. I couldn’t deny it. He confessed that he was in the year above and doing another AS-level to make up his numbers, and couldn't suggest anything by way of favourite actors, directors or films. My inference is that Film Studies looked like a bit of a skive, and indeed it is - but it still irritated me, and we didn’t really talk again – not that we’d been talking properly before.

In the corner of every class are magazines, which we’re allowed to borrow. The Classical Civilisations prof, for example, expects us to read Omnibus. Huh, not likely. Not so Film Studies. Can you believe this – our homework this week is to read Empire? Well actually, I tell a lie - he dished us out a magazine each, some people got Empire; I got stuck with Film Review. Not too bad I suppose - I already have an Empire subscription. But I was envious of the people who got Total Film instead - Film Review is the in-flight magazine of the movie world. It's tedious beyond belief and I hated every minute of it. And it gave Lady in the Water one star, though I only discovered this later. It's only bonus is the crossword is easier than Empire's, and that's not really a bonus at all - it just means I can do it in a glance without thinking.

Oooooooooooh Did I forget to mention the field trips? Yup, you heard me right - our local cinema (which under any other circumstance you’d hear me slagging off as being very very small and not showing Tideland) allows us to go twice a term, free of charge! Current guesswork on my behalf leads me to believe we're probably going to see the new James Bond and Black Dahlia. Not all bad. I'm actually really looking forward to the latter. I normally try to resist attractive advertising campaigns, trailers and the like, but I saw the poster and just flipped! That's more or less the one I fell in love with. It wasn't even the names, though I do like Brian de Palma; he tries so hard. Just the look of the thing. I've since seen the trailer, and I'm not half as excited by what I see there, it's just that fab poster. Our film studies teacher lets us have the free posters from his subscriptions, if he gets that one I'm having it!

And nowI hear you ask, what is the significance of the title? Well it's four words that one Stu should get tattooed on his forearm - as last night I watched, not Memento, but Phonebooth. This is very much a sprint movie (translates: thriller you only ever really need to see once, just to find out what happens) about a guy who answers a ringing phone and then gets pinned down in the box by a sniper. This is the one great exception to my dislike of thrillers and sprints. About five imutes in it suddenly hit me that the whole film was actually going to have to take place on that street corner, and wondered how on earth they could stretch it out for quite that long. They succeed, goodness knows how.

The grey colour scheme of the city is wonderful, the direction competent and the plot jolly gripping. Whatever - the real kudos has to go to Colin Farrel. If the audience lost compassion for the protagonist, they'd either lose interest in the film or start rooting for the sniper. He really sells the terror of the situation - sheer pity gets you on his side, despite the fact he's not a naturally sympathetic character. I felt exceedingly sorry for him, and almost willed him out of the booth to get out of the situation by being shot. The last time I felt anything like that was halfway through The Prisoner. A mention also has to go to Kiefer Sutherland, who put up almost as impressive a performance as a disembodied voice, using that laugh he began perfecting in Lost Boys.

Moment of the movie? There wasn't one really, the plot didn't allow for it - just a long chain of little events. Though I groaned when he found the gun. And I liked how everyone kept repremanding him for his language. Not that I really mind swearing, but there's such a lot in films and it's nice to see Hollywood has a few on-screen puritans left. And actually, despite it's sprint status, I would be happy to rewatch it.

Final word - Stuck in the Middle With You is still in my head. Sixth Form is a mini hell, and I'm not going to go into details of why cos it's tedious. Anyway, I've been trailer binging to psych myself up when I get home instead of, like, sitting on my own and quietly going off the rails. Unfortunately, it's only a 3 disc set - and what I do after Wednesday, I do not know.

Bye now - the local arts-cinema-club are showing The Third Man!


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