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

I've seen even more things you people really wouldn't believe

As promised, here's the second chunk of awards for 2006. If you've only just joined us, take a look at the previous post to get what's going on.


Favourite Colour Schemes

WINNER: The Godfather – one of the loveliest ever. Orangy brown! (Also wins: The Andolini-Corleone foundation award for conspicuous merit. Just nominate it for everything…)
Heat – Blue! Blue and wuvful!
Memento – they actually started making the movie with a specific pale palette in mind.
Spy Game – Vietnam was yellow, Beruit was bright, Berlin was cold…love it when they pay attention to these things.
R+G – They cut a wonderful speech from the play about things being autumnal, and brownness creeping in on them from the edges of the day. They didn’t need to include verbally – it’s there all around them in the mis-en-scene. BROWNEST FILM EVER!

And generally good looking films:

Downfall – cold cinematography really sold the situation
Brazil – all em ducts. The surroundings are as mad as the characters.
Hamlet – our hero delivers his monologues to a sort of web diary, shot through scratchy grainy cam. Our heroine is a photographer, and the scenes in her darkroom are lovely. It just looks fab.

National Geographic award for excruciating beauty

Out of Africa – I defy you not to get a shiver up your spine during the plane flight. It makes my eyes well up every time, for the sheer beauty of it.
Brokeback – that was one pretty mountain.
Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter -lake + forest + changing-of-seasons + Eastern cinema = guarenteed beauty.
True Grit – there were some pewittyful moments
Barry Lyndon – someone on the Empire board said something very true about this film – set in a decadent age, amongst the glory of 18th C costumes and in some of the most beautiful locations in the world, you’d have to be trying very hard NOT to make a beautiful film. Apparently, the shots were taken with paintings of the age in mind. A naturalistic approach to lighting lends the film a lovely, pastel quality.
Kill Bill – special mention for the snowy dojo at the end


WINNER: R+GaD – I am in LOVE with these costumes. Elizabethan costumes are really hard to work out how they fit together, and these are no exception – but after hours of devoted pondering, doodling etc I think I may be the world’s greatest expert on them. Nice things to look out for: Guildenstern’s headscarf and poncho, Rosencrantz’s black jacket (also wins: prize for the best pair of sleeves in a supporting role (Hamlet himself)

Serenity – This film has a great look generally, but the costumes are a marvel. Each character has their own wonderful look. Mal is all cowboy, Inara is Amidala without the stupid hairstyles, and somehow River’s costumes embody her entire character – they feel fragile, yet also not.

Withnail – purely on the strength of that wonderful coat…

Post Production
(Somewhere between editing and special effects. Everything that happens after
the actors take their paychecks home)

JFK – just plain good. A seamless blend of genuine footage and acting. Best edit job ever.
Donnie Darko – I didn’t actually see this this year, I saw the director’s cut. The same material, two entirely different movies. One of which was awful. A real lesson in how to cut a film down, and proof the original was wonderfully edited.
Fight Club – Superbo! Good effort, nice try. Second best edit job ever.
Reservoir Dogs - The great thing about the editing here is it's not just a fancy afterthought - the film wouldn't have the same feel any other way. The randomness of the scene order just feels so perfect and natural too...(also wins: the most audacious cut of the year for the sequence with Mr Orange in the toilet and The Newandyke memorial trophy for distracting film of the year. I probably had better things to do with the time I spent thinking about this. And unsuprisingly, I was dreaming about it again last night.)
3 Kings – special nod for the cool stuff they tried to make us get what it’s like to be shot, shoot someone etc…
Man on Fire – Tony Scott suffers from lucasitis genarally, but the really groovy impressive thing here was the subtitles. They clattered up big and small, appropriate to the situation. They faded from view or sometimes, were obscured when the characters were speaking. Sometimes they were thrown up during english speeches, to draw attention to important words.

The lucasitis prize: run, lola, run


What is great direction? I just can’t put my finger on it…hence, no awards for best director this year. Only a special nod for Brokeback Mountain, a film I’ve only just come to terms with disliking (as a gay rights supporter, I did so want to enjoy it…), which was staggeringly well directed even if I never quite got into it. I was also gonna mention Brazil, Godfather 2 and Once upon a Time in the West, but quite frankly I’ve seen so many great, well directed films this year (whatever well directed means) that it’s pointless. Very confused…


Donnie Darko (ext v)- look, I’ve seen the extended version this year which was an entirely different film, so technically…this is a great soundtrack, one of the best. But the director’s cut version of the music is NOWHERE NEAR as good as the usual one. Savvy?

Memento –The joy of Memento is that while the music matches the scenario, it’s really understated and gives the rest of the film space to breathe – it’s never used as a prop. At the same time, when you do notice it, it’s achingly beautiful and entirely suitable.

Spy Game –The thing is, the music really shapes the mood of the piece. It’d be easy for this to be a thriller, or an action flick but the sentimental nature of the music lends it an unusually nostalgic air, rendering it a far more quiet, thoughtful film. I realise that’s entirely the opposite to what I just said about Memento, but what the hell – I’m right. It’s beautiful.

The Fifth Element – ok, this isn’t really a nod for the music. This is purely for the Diva’s Opera, which is tres fantastiche!

Special mention:
The Godfather –surprised to see it here? I wasn’t. One of my favourite moments on screen ever is the first time that horn comes in on top of the black background. And the version they dance to at the wedding. And that terrific organ they play over the infamous baptism scene, which I’d learn except it would spoil listening to it. After watching this film, the tunes did not leave my head for well over a month, which I’ll count as a job well done.

Dancer in the Dark – for Bjorkophiles only, I honestly can’t remember the songs very well as this was waaay back at the beginning of the year. I can’t remember the names, but I loved loved the one on the bridge with the train, and of course the end…

Out of Africa- sweeping strings across a beautiful landscape, only interrupted for the occasional bout of romantic Mozart.

Once upon a time in the West – that wonderful zinging harmonica-guitar thing which is so totally cool. In fact, it all comes back down to that tune – it really squeezes the sympathy out and makes you feel oh-so-sorry for our anti-hero.

The Beach – sokay, I didn’t actually LIKE the music, but it suited the film perfectly. I wouldn’t have chosen to listen to any of it in a real world situation, but it fitted so well…

The Shout – no it’s not because it was written by people I like! How dare you! Who told you that?! Shame on you for thinking such a thing of me! No, honestly – I don’t like the album very much, so you can’t accuse me of anything. I’ve never really “got” this song until I heard it here. Swelling electric piano, with twiddly bits which creates a genuinely creepy atmosphere in a pretty creepy film. And besides…it was the only reason I watched it…

Walk the Line – It’s Johnny Cash. No duh, eh?

Run Lola Run – You gotta get suspicious when the director wrote the music too…I sometimes think of films in terms of how long it was until I “got” them. A line a few minutes in, a particularly good scene – in the case of Heat, two minutes from the end. R, L, R had me hooked from the first note. It just swells and bam, I was into the movie already…

The Wicker Man – this is a special shout out for the song that Britt Ekland sings in the buff. Not because that’s how she sings it, may I add; I just liked the song.

Reservoir Dogs – I wasn’t going to put it in, because it's so obvious a pick…but then I thought, what the hell! Especially as it, along with the Godfather and Spy Game, is one of the three soundtracks I’ve considered buying this year. Just good, harmless music which is actually fun to listen to.

Stand By Me -this was wonderful. You know that feeling of "Oooh, I like this song, now what is it called?"? I got that basically every time a tune came in.

Scene of the year

Questions, R+GaD – I’ve seen this film with six people, most of them tied to various promises or bribes. And to be fair, most of them hated it – except during this scene. Rosencrantz first attempts to prove that all objects fall at the same rate (“You would think that this would fall faster than this…and you’d be absolutely right!”) And then they play questions, surely the greatest game ever invented. Scored like tennis, players take it in turns to ask questions in an endless conversation that ends when an opponent uses a statement instead. Absurd, wacky and gently hilarious…In case you’re curious, with my two second attention span, when we play I always lose. And if you want to watch it, here it is.

The penultimate bit, with Carlo in The Godfather – er, yeh. Well, obviously, eh? This was gonna be in here, but I had trouble narrowing it down. The restaurant scene was the obvious candidate, the baptism montage also an easy target. My favourite scene was the bit in the hospital for most of the film, just because…well…and all that changed ten minutes from the end. Lots of things make this a great scene, but first and foremost it’s Michael’s sincerity which gets me. I know it shouldn’t make me smile, he is a terrible person, but it does…another thing which helps this scene is it’s position. Situated between that baptism and the Kay scene at the end, it’s got some serious competition but it all builds to just be plain great. (Also wins: this year’s best lie)

the opening scene on the ship, Serenity– I’m trying hard to resist the urge just to quote the whole thing. One long (4 minute) tracking shot makes the most of the big Serenity set which they actually built (albeit in two pieces, but you can’t see the join), as well as causing bucketloads of amusement. What makes this so great is for those who’ve never heard of Firefly, it instantly introduces the characters and the tone of the film, yet it fits in fine with any fan expectation. Incidentally, we’re moving house next week, and we’re calling the new place Serenity.

Leo in the gameboy, The Beach – so our dope-smoking hero is struggling with guilt, he’s been left on his own for several weeks, and he keeps seeing the undead phantom of the man in the hotel room next door. What’s a guy to do? Well, go crazy to start with, and then run around, pretend you’re in Vietnam or in a computer game. And for a wonderful few instants, Leonardo diCaprio is transformed into a badly animated character battling 2D tigers and watching his health bar go down. Pure genius!

The Brothers Marx and the Mirror, Duck Soup
OK, so they’ve all dressed up like the President, and in a long and interrupted take, one of them fools the other that a wide open doorway is actually a mirror. It’s screamingly funny, and the timing is spot on.

Special Mention:
The sweep over Utah beach, Longest Day (bear in mind that those were pre-CGI days. What makes the shot all the more incredible is that it was actually real)

“I didn’t ask you how he was I asked you where he was.” A Bridge Too Far – hey, I just think this sequence is sweet.

The aeroplane trip Out of Africa (it just makes your back prickle and your eyes fill wit tears. Or it did mine.

Stairwell Fight, Casino Royale – just plain fab…

“Oh screw Max!” Cabaret. What a moment!

The opening, Strictly Ballroom

The newspaper-guy, The Shootist
The actual heist or trying to beat the security system, Rififi. Can’t actually decide...

Line of the year
(along with a note to indicate whether it’s the line or the delivery I liked)

“Your master’s a good card player. What’s the secret to his success?”
“He cheats”. (The Sting, DELIVERY!)

“Let him laugh who wins, sir” (approx, line) Barry Lyndon

“The thing about the few is that they keep on getting…fewer” Longest Day (line)

“If I know a song of Aaaaafrica, does Aaaafrica know a song of me…” etc, can't access imdb to find the full quote right now, line, Out of Africa

“You broke my heart…” Godfather part 2 (delivery. Ironic for a character who says more in silence than speech to receive a nomination in this category, this one is worthy of note because you really do feel that, for once, he is telling the absolute truth)

“So many men fight claiming that God is on their side, I warrant God sometimes wonders who is on his!” Cromwell, Cromwell. (line)

“You have two ways of leaving – immediately or dead.” The Shootist (well this is one of about three lines this character gets, a crying shame because he had great potential, and the delivery is just great.)

“They still died. Just different people.” English Patient, the line

“You know all those security scenarios we ran? Well I'm smack in the middle of one we didn't think of” Snakes On A Plane, both line and delivery. And the entire situation!

“No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any f-ing Merlot!” (Sideways, just the moment…I habitually quote this whenever someone mentions Merlot. Minus the swearing. )
“Sometimes there are more important things in life than a great pair of tits” (as delivered by Jeremy Irons in Man In The Iron Mask)

“I don’t believe in God. I believe in a reasonable rate of return” Casino Royale

"I'm on a revolutionary new diet. I don't anything at all, unless I'm really hungry, in which case I take a single cube of cheese." The Devil wears prada, mainly delivery.

(a.k.a. the “just too many good lines to nominate just one” prize)

R+GaD – this film has a bit of an advantage, namely being based on not one but two great plays. It’s a perfectly balanced tragicomedy which is very funny with more great lines than I can possibly note. Even the bits that apparently make no sense whatsoever – and there are still parts which confuse me - are incredible. Extra kudos to the actors, who managed to rattle out the repetitive tongue twisters with such pizzazz.
Here's a clip, which will make even less sense out of context than it usually does. But it’s worth a watch because it's very clever.

Serenity – this is one funny film. Filled with a sort of droll humour, it’s stuffed with anti-cliches and great moments.

Brazil – a total charmer. Ironic, wacky and darkly amusing.

Memento – the sensitive bits aren’t cheesy, the dramatic bits aren’t silly, and somehow it all makes sense.

Pulp Fiction –Oh well, the chronological leaps are less random than they seem. They’re very neatly tidied and constructed film. Cf. the comment about Mrs Wallace in the Brett scene, which has one half a meaning the first time you see it, and a totally different one the second. Or the tremendous fun of hearing “garcon!” ten minutes from the end, and suddenly knowing what’s going to happen. Plus, there are a fair handful of amusing lines…my favourite? Dunno, love all of them. But I'm endebted to it for the tomato joke, which is now one of the only two I tell.

Fight Club - just tidily keeps attention during the narration. Plus, the subliminal stuff is cool.

Killer-est endings
(Those final moments which really sting)

WINNER: R+GaD, for continuing to suprise and hurt no matter how many times I see it
Memento, Blue Max, Brazil, the Eagle has Landed, Room 69, the Wicker Man

The House of Flying Daggers award for Triple Cross of the year
WINNER: The Sting – wuh?!
Godfather 2 – Hang on, who’s double crossing who?!
Intolerable Cruelty – er…
Oceans 11 – aaaah!
Memento – no fair!
Spy Game – now I’m just confused…


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