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

Up is down, black is white, and nothing is what it seems.

Bless you, Coens, bless you. For collecting together a kettle, some string, a gameboy Advance and some needles, creating a Magical Machine and using it to pluck deep into my mind and dredge out my perfect movie. And then filming it.

Overreaction? Millar's Crossing was written for me. Period.

What factors make up my ideal film? I love buddy movies, but I enjoy betrayals just as much, and that's what this movie is all about. Loyalties getting all tangled up

After that, I enjoy gangster movies. Hot guys with handguns also make me very happy - argue, if you like, that Gabriel Byrne isn't that good looking, but anyone's attractive when armed.

And he's a liar. Yummy. I love films with dodgy morality. I love whiter-than-white heroes and honour, and I love the borderline diabolic, the Corleones of this world; especially when it all gets mixed up. At the moment, I am watching an unhealthy level of Doctor Who, and for those of you still living on planet Zog, it's about a highly moral pacifist who goes around the universe rescuing people from sub-Nazi aliens et al. Invariably, all of my favourite scenes involve said highly moral pacifist's moments of darkness. What fascinates me about the character isn't that he is good and heroic - it's the moments when he is unheroic, when he has to do something nasty, or gets landed in a terrible situation that could have been ended half an hour earlier if he'd just resorted to violence. The inverse is also true - say, Messrs White and Orange in Reservoir Dogs, two nasty criminal characters who are all about humanity and spend the film doing good(ish) things.

Gabriel Byrne's character - whose name I forget - is right on the borderline. We are suprised when the Doctor shoots something, and unsuprised when he has sympathy for an injured lifeform, because he's a good guy. Similarly, we are suprised at Mr White's sympathy, but unsuprised by murder, because he's a bad guy. I love Nameless Miller's Crossing guy because you don't know what to expect. Particularly the first tense scene in the eponymous location - the irony being that character has been angling to get Tuturro's character killed for the entire film, and has even put him in this fatal situation, but can't actually pull the trigger. (looping back to an earlier point, you would not believe how many Daleks the Doctor has casually blown up, infected, destroyed from a long way away or got other people to kill - but when it comes to actually personally shooting their evil creator himself, he can't do it.)

This type of crazy debate just floats my boat. You could spend hours arguing what the "right" course of action in things like this - say The Third Man. One of the reasons I enjoyed Clockwork Orange was for that insanely dodgy happy ending. For those of you who've seen it or don't mind knowing, you gain such sympathy for Alex and are so revulsed by the concept of extreme brainwashing, that when the brainwashing is reversed it feels like a triumph. Yay, the audience thinks, he's been turned back into a murdering psycho! Now that is twisted, far more twistd than the disturbing imageray the film has put you through.

Friend 5 is of the opinion I enjoy "violent and highly disturbing films", which isn't exactly true - I do enjoy them, but not for the action. I like the contradictions mentioned above, the "Mr Blonde" factor if you like. I like the situations that arise because of violence. After all, nothing motivates like the threat of death. This film has a satisfyingly high body count, mercy and murder all over. The threat of death brings me to my favourite scene, namely the second incident in the eponymous location.

It was pretty hard to watch at times though. I may have mentioned before that proper beatings really make me wince, and Certain Characters spend virtually the whole film being thumped by allies and enemies alike.

To cap it off, it's all drawn in beautiful sepia - gorgeous brown costumes, brown buildings and brown trees. In fact, the only place this film falls down is in its soundtrack - too Irishy Irish for me, and way too reminicent of Howard Shore's Shire theme from Lord of the Rings. I can feel this one becoming a favourite, y'know. My official favourite film list has always been a strange lopsided thing, with some films I adore looking so plain wrong when I try to list them that I have to remove them again. Like Legend of 1900 - it was brilliant, I loved it, but it looks odd on a list. Usually, the first hint I get of something which is worthy of the list is the urge to watch it again, and again, and again. It's taking my bestest efforts, as well as 10 hours of unwatched Doctor Who and a lot of homework, not to stick this one back into the DVD player right now...

It's certainly the polar opposite of that other gangster film I've enjoyed recently - Get Carter. Well, maybe not enjoyed, but we'll come back to that in a minute.

Maybe it's Michael Caine wot dunnit - in the era of Bond, he makes The Ipcress File, the social realism spy film which makes its agents fill in time sheets; Alfie is the social realism rom-com; and here he is again, in the social realism gangster flick.

You think I'm kidding. Social realism is a particularly drab chapter of film history, in which no-hope characters show us their squalid lives. Typical settings include shabby flats, badly wallpapered kitchens and lots of concrete. The weather is invariably glum. That's the social part - the unemployed, on-the-breadline and the miserable. The plot generally ambles past a series of irrelevant and disconnected events, the characters talk like real people - charmless and dull. They're irrepressably downbeat, occasionally with a faint glimmer of hope at the end. In case you hadn't noticed, its not a genre I particularly like. Maybe some people get a kick out of it - film for me is primarily escapism, and Thatcherite Britain isn't somewhere I wanna go. I like my cinema on the other end of the spectrum. Show me dragonprincesses, give me opulent luxury, and heroes, and villains. If I want grey nothingness, I can go outside. With the exception of morally grey nihilism - that's right up my street.

This is probably the nastiest gangster film I've ever seen, refreshingly so. Cinema has this tendancy to romanticise crime out of all proportion. Take Goodfellas - murdering, cheating, stealing - but the whole thing is painted through rose tinted glasses. Sure, it's brutal, but it has a crazy glamour to it all. Fiction has a funny trick of making you sympathise with its lead, no matter who they are - Clockwork Orange for goodness sake - which may go some way to explaining why film violence is so appealing.

Get Carter is not even remotely appealing, and for that I congratulate it. Maybe its one of a kind, maybe it's just the only one I've seen, and maybe it's because I'm a girl. I dunno. Back to the idea of social realism, this is very much an imaginative younger son of the genre. To start with, there are no likeable characters, no heroes, no villains, no cliches or stereotypes. Grey, naturalistic lighting filters in, past the unwashed dishes and fed up characters. They refuse to force-feed you what plot there is, mumbling through in a very hard-to-follow way. The whole thing is set in a rubbish world, and no one gets out clean. The only beacon of decency in the film is Mr Carter and his somewhat noble mission - or it would be if he didn't go about it in quite the way that he does. You could remake it romantically, but that would ruin the point.

Ah, Michael Caine - one of my sometime favourite actors. I say sometime, because I almost completely forget about him between films. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have the crazy impression that he's a bad actor, meaning I am always suprised when I see him act well. Or in this case, brilliantly. Jack Carter is like a walking into a room where they've forgotten to switch the heating up. It's not the way he moves or speaks - there's something deep in his eyes which is utterly dead. Perhaps there were other good things about the film - if there were, I didn't notice, for not taking my eyes off him. The "teacher's pet" sequence is one of the most heartbreakingly brilliant pieces of acting I have ever seen ever. You'd have thought that after Alfie, Zulu and The Quiet American I'd have got the idea. And this time I won't forget, because he just outdoes himself here so completely.

Everyone else? Well, the blonde guy with the shades? I liked his outfit. And I just loved the cast of absolute scumbags without a single redeeming feature - all cowardly, all selfish, all gorgeously, terribly human.

My one complaint is that I lost the plot moments in. Who's Albert? Which one's Eric? Who just got killed? The key problem was they were talking about characters maybe twenty minutes before they were introduced or became important, mentioning them as names or facts without faces, or expecting us to tell one guy in a drab raincoat from another. The "social realism" element is partly to blame for that - it refuses to play easy on the dumb members of the audience with its naturalistic dialogue, only revealing things as it makes sense for the characters to reveal them. Technically brilliant, but too tricky for me. Despite this, I was still able to appreciate it (see: blistering lead performance)

There are some times when I do worry that my film taste is a tad too masculine. Like when Friend 5 accuses Reservoir Dogs of "lad humour" (which I suppose it has...), or my film tastes collide with my all-male Ancient History class instead of my all-female English set. This film was one of those moments - at times, I felt I strictly should be objecting (he does, after all, sleep with basically every female character in the film, which then smacks of beautiful hypocracy half way through...) - but you can't help what you enjoy.

Or is that the wrong word for a thing like Get Carter? Of the two, I certainly loved and enjoyed Millar's Crossing more - even if I'm 50% sure I keep spelling it wrong - but Get Carter is unloveable and unenjoyable by its very nature. I certainly appreciated them equally.

This is the last of my "Xmas sales set", mopping up all those gorgeous £2 and £3 bargains at HMV. Along with Millars Crossing and Get Carter, I also picked up Taxi Driver (undeniably good, but I feel anything I could say about it would be a tad redundant), A Scanner Darkly (see this film! It's unexpectedly well scripted, hilarious at times, and the art is a joy to watch) and Amadeus (brilliante!)


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