Five Movies I’ve Rewatched in 2010…

December 20, 2010

…on the 7th day of Castmas the Chrazzas gave to me…

As I’m sure you no doubt know, I’ve been battling my way through three hundred and sixty five movies this year. One of the conditions I set myself was that all of the movies had to be ones that I hadn’t seen before and as such I’ve resisted watching movies I’ve seen before wherever possible to fully maximise my chances of achieving this monumental feat. There have however been a few occasions throughout the year where someone has suggested we watch a movie that I’ve already seen and I’ve happily obliged. These five are the best of the bunch and needless to say if I was prepared to rewatch them whilst trying to catch as many new movies as possible, they all come come highly recommended.

1. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Speculatively written off before its release as a complete waste of time, South Park The Movie showed that the duo of Parker and Stone aren’t just potty mouthed idiots out to cause offense and earn a quick buck, whilst also demonstrating an expert use of satire that has gone on to influence all the pair’s subsequent work, as well as the course of the TV show itself. Perhaps one of the most reflexive movies ever written, South Park feeds off its own notoriety and masterfully prods the finger back at critics who used the TV series as a scapegoat for “the collapse of society” and every misdemeanour carried out by a viewer of the show. All that would be for naught though if it wasn’t such fun to watch, and as long as your on board with its comic stylings you’re on for ninety minutes of pure hilarity. Even years later I still don’t think this movie is given the kudos it deserves; it’s so much more than just another lazy TV to big screen cash in and contains such great music that it baffles me why it isn’t more widely regarded as a great modern musical. With the advancement of the animation, writing and technology behind current episodes of the TV series, I’d love nothing more than to see a sequel.

2. I Love You, Man
Undoubtedly one of my highlights of 2009 and a film I know I’m going to keep watching over and over as time goes on. Peter Klavin (Rudd) has recently got engaged but has a problem, he doesn’t have any guy friends to be his best man. Klavin eventually meets Sydney Fife (Segel) and what follows isn’t quite what you’d expect… I Love You Man sneakily takes the classic rom-com formula and stands it on its head; delivering a movie that is not only hilarious but is also genuinely touching. I like Paul Rudd a lot but have never really seen him as a strong leading character, but his well worn straight man routine gets its strongest outing here thanks largely to how straight Jason “how have I not been in more movies yet?!” Segel plays it right back at him; that’s not to say that it isn’t funny though, as this movie contains some of the best awkward humour of any film in recent memory and is perhaps the most quotable movie since Anchorman.

You got it Jobin!

3. Team America
Another entry for Parker and Stone? Sure enough they once again take a potentially volatile subject and point fun at it in such a way that makes viewers ask “hey what’s the fuss all about?!” Team America focuses on the eponymous band of do gooders who travel the world doing whatever they must to eliminate the terrorists that threaten world peace, whilst inadvertently proving themselves more effective than the terrorists themselves. From the moment the film opens and we’re greeted by puppets controlling puppets, we’re treated to ninety minutes split evenly between the best puppetry we’re ever likely to see on the big screen, and jokes made at the limitations faced when using marionettes. As explosive as it is skilful and as stupid as it is well observed, Team America proves that Parker and Stone have got a lot more in them than just South Park – even if it does run the names of Casta favourites Clooney and Damon through the mud whilst it does so.

AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!

4. 17 Again
My initial resistance to this film last year proved to be hugely unfounded. Knowing little more of Zac Efron than that he was the smiley singing punchworthy guy from the High School Musical trilogy, this film correctly changed my opinion of him to potentially being one of the most watchable new performers on the big screen, and (if he plays his cards right in the future)  surely one of the biggest names in Hollywood. The classic “one more chance at youth” narrative is given a run over once again but, for potentially one of the only times for movies of this genre with the same target audience, isn’t given the heavy handed sanitising that usually comes with the standard *cough Disney cough*  big studio backing. Efron proves himself a joy to watch throughout and events on screen prove to be just as funny and awkward as you imagine they will be. A great addition to the ranks of the teen comedy.

5. Back to the Future
I wrestled long and hard with whether or not to include this in my count of 365 being as its cinematic rerelease gave me the first opportunity I’ve ever had to watch it on the silver screen. However after much deliberating I decided that this (along with Toy Story 2) couldn’t really count, as the digitally remastered audio and visuals (and indeed the 3D in TS2’s case) didn’t constitute enough for me to count it as a “new movie experience”. Lucky then that I have this opportunity to talk a little more about it.
Cast your mind back and you may well remember that Chris and I went nuts for this back in Episode 24 – Cast Boot and for jolly good reason. Twenty five years on and it’s still every bit as funny, clever and charming as it was upon its release and I don’t think another twenty five are going to do it any harm either. If you didn’t catch this on the big screen for its rerelease then you missed out on one of the best cinematic experiences of the year.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for day eight of the Twelve Days of Castmas, a festive treat with some very special guests!


Five Films I Wish Hadn’t Spawned Trilogies…

December 16, 2010

…on the 3rd day of Castmas the Chrazzas gave to me…

As referenced recently in our Tag Team Review of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest there are often trilogies in movie land that you wish just hadn’t happened. What start off as brilliant individual films soon become tarnished by tired and uninspiring sequels to the extent that you want to grab those responsible for their production, take them by the collar, shake them senseless and shout NO! at them until they repent for their crimes.

These then are five of what I consider to be the worst offenders; but this list is by no means extensive so sound off with your own most loathed in the comments below.


1. The Matrix
Okay so let’s get the elephant out the corner and name and shame perhaps the worst perpetrator of the needless trilogy. Not days after the first film was released, it was confirmed that a second and third had been commissioned.  Fast forward four years later and the back to back releases of the second and third took everything that made the first film great and sucked the joy out of them – add in the preposterous nonsensical musings of the architect and other Matrix inhabitants and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the some of the most disappointing sequels ever created. If I concentrate hard enough on pretending the second and third don’t exist, then the first on its own is still good enough to squeeze its way into my all time top ten.  Shame then that I can’t hold that concentration for long.

2. Ocean’s Eleven
As we all know, the number of stars you have in a film is inversely proportional to how good it is, so on paper the sheer star power involved in this movie must equal disaster right? Wrong! Ocean’s Eleven mesmerised audiences with its super stylised form which ran through this movie at all levels; from the dialogue to the costumes to the soundtrack to everything in between. Hollywood favourites lined up around the block to fill out this superstar cast led superbly by Clooney, Pitt and Damon and despite the superstar weight of those involved, everyone gets their moment in the spotlight.

As is usual in Sequeltown, iterations two and three tried to do everything bigger and better than in the first; but when the premise of the original is as ridiculous as it was in Ocean’s Eleven, that doesn’t really leave you anywhere special to go. What we were left with then was sequels by the numbers, and it became clear quite quickly that the writers struggled to think of anything interesting for the majority of Ocean’s original crew to do in them, let alone the titular twelfth and thirteenth. Whilst the third was certainly more akin to the first than the second, it was still a long way behind its progenitor and the time you’d waste on watching it would be much better spent sat in a dark room listening to the first’s superb soundtrack, dreaming of being as cool and as suave as Danny Ocean.

3. Rush hour
Whatever happened to the buddy cop movie? If ever proof was needed that buddy cop movies are great, especially those that start out with mismatched partner situations, you need look no further than Rush Hour. Pairing up Jackie Chan with (whatever happened to…) Chris Tucker was an inspired move that allowed the perfect mix between mouth off comedy and tight martial arts action sequences.

Unfortunately the change in scenery in the second and third instalments couldn’t hide the fact that they retread on ground well worn by the first; going as far to rehash tired action sequences as well as somewhat forcibly creating contention between Tucker and Chan’s characters that could easily be glossed over before both films come to a close.  What’s more I’m fairly certain that at the time of watching the third not only didn’t I find it funny or entertaining anymore, worryingly it also seemed to quite racist as well, painting extremely negative and caricatured portraits of the Chinese, African Americans and the French.

Rumours abound that the old gang might be getting back together for a fourth instalment; please god let it not be true! If only to make sure I don’t have to take Rush Hour off this list…

4. American Pie
Not satisfied with simply being the movie that launched a thousand imitators as well as popularising a well known pornographic acronym; American Pie also made household names of Sean William Scott, Eugene Levy, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Biggs, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari and er… Chris Klein.

American Pie was, and still is in many respects, the perfect teen comedy; perhaps best known for its great mix of comedy (ranging from gross out to pure embarrassment,) the real centre of this movie was its heart and how relatable its four leads were – qualities that make it just as watchable now as it was eleven years ago upon its release. Shame then that the sequels latched on to the former trait and simply forgot the latter – resulting in movies that, whilst entertaining in places, were entirely forgettable in the long run.

Let’s not even mention the American Pie Presents movies, (which fortunately fall outside of the trilogy belonging to the original’s main characters) which further sully the original’s name with every iteration.

5. Austin Powers
This is by far the most painful for me in the list – when I was sixteen I used to stay in every other Saturday and watch this film with my Mum. Wow, that last statement makes me sound like a complete loser. But it’s okay because Jackie Madden is awesome! Anyway back on track; the film that reintroduced us to Mike Myers was as ridiculously quotable as it was both a perfect riff on James Bond films and a light social commentary on the changes in society since the sixties. Shame then that the second and third iterations took all the best jokes from the first and repeated them ad nauseum, as well as throwing in some ridiculously needless (and in some cases just plain offensive) characters. The cop out ending of the third (a direct lift from numerous other films, most notably Get Shorty) was the final nail that shut up my Austin Powers coffin.

Three down and nine to go! We’ll be back tomorrow at ten AM sharp when Chris W gets to sit down with some very special guests.


Five action movies that got me into action movies…

November 26, 2010

BOOM! KABLAM! POW! Yep that’s right, I love action movies and I’m more than a little pleased to admit it. It’s clear to all and sundry that action movies had their heyday in the eighties when Arnie, Sly and Bruce were at their peak but being born around the same time as most of these movies came out, it’s fair to say that I arrived a little late on the scene.

What we have here then are five great mid to late nineties action movies that I can really credit for getting me into the genre and, by extension, in movies as a whole.

1. The Rock
Back before Michael Bay was the instantly criticised chap he is today, he made some pretty tight movies, my favourite being this. The Rock tells the story of a troop of disenfranchised soldiers who have taken hostages on Alcatraz and threaten the use of chemical weaponry on San Francisco if their demands aren’t met. It’s up to Nic Cage to enlist the help of Connery as the only escapee of Alcatraz, and with his help navigate their way into the prison to avert CITYWIDE KABLAMMO CHEMICAL WEAPON DISASTER!

Whilst the biggest focus of this movie is undoubtedly the portion set on Alcatraz, the real highlight for me is the car chase early on in proceedings which sees Cage bombing down the hilly streets of San Francisco in a bright yellow Lamborghini after Connery who has escaped in a humvee. Amazingly no one is hurt but rest assured there’s plenty of property damage. Absolutely unmissable!

2. Payback
From the moment the movie opens and you see Mel Gibson having bullets roughly removed from his back, you know you’re in for a brutal ride. Porter (Gibson) has been screwed over by his partner and left for dead. He recovers and wants revenge. That’s it. What more do you want? Cue ninety minutes of Gibson strutting around beating the crap out of everyone and having seven shades of sunshine knocked out of him in equal measure. As far as I can recall, this was one of the first proper revenge films I ever saw and it was great to be backing someone who was basically walking round doing the stuff the bad guys usually do. Rest assured Porter’s victims all deserve what’s coming to them.

By all accounts the studio forced cut of director Brian Helgeland’s work left the film pretty unrecognisable after around thirty percent of it was reshot by an uncredited director, but whatever… it’s still brilliant.

3. Air Force One
Listen to the pitch and tell me it’s not a brilliant idea for a movie; Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists led by the ever superb Gary Oldman, who try to hold the president (Harrison Ford) and the rest of the passengers to ransom. Only guess what? The President is a complete bad ass and takes down the terrorists single handedly. Why bother employing Secret Service hey?

Considering the majority of this movie takes place in a very limited location (i.e. on the plane) there’s enough variety to keep from things getting boring and enough explosions to make you wonder what magic space metal Air Force One must be made of to withstand such punishment.

It should go without saying that Oldman is brilliant in this movie, but truly everyone is on top form here, with great support from William H Macy, Glenn Close and Xander Berkeley; but it’s Ford who holds it all together and in my opinion this is the last really entertaining film he was involved in. Well worth whatever pittance you’ll pay for it online. Plus there’s a great rip on it here.

4. Con Air
What could possibly be more ridiculous than having a second plane based film in the list? Why a second Nic Cage one of course! Crazy non? He could easily appear a third time but I’ve already talked about Face/Off before (favourite!). Con Air tells the story of Poe (Cage) getting a flight home to freedom on a prisoner transfer flight, only for the plane to be taken over by the convicts in a desperate bid to escape reincarceration. This film is a tight Bruckheimer explosionfest filled with fist fights, dodgy accents and somehow even dodgier haircuts.

There’s more things in this film that jump out at me instantly than most other films in the list (Cage’s delivery of “put the bunny back in the box”, Buscemi singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands” and a flying convertible to name but three) which after at least five years since I last saw it, can only be a good thing.

5. True Lies
What finer film to round off this list than Cameron’s magnum opus (arf!). Weighing in at a meaty two hours twenty, True Lies tells the story of Harry Tasker (Arnie), loving husband, father and secret agent who lives a double life to spare his family from knowing the danger of his profession. All is well until his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) suspects him of having an affair and (somewhat inevitably) ends up being kidnapped by terrorists.

As much as this sounds like an out and out comedy (which to be fair in some places it borders pretty close to) this movie is a great all out action fest stuffed with epic chases between horses and motorbikes, sexy Jamie Lee dancing, nuclear kisses and great one liners from Arnie. Genuinely entertaining and featuring better realised characters than other Arnie movies whilst also having the “epic” weighting of Cameron behind it, True Lies masterfully treads the lines between comedy, suspense and action. Just go and watch it right now.

EXPLOSIONS!


Five articles we meant to have written by now…

November 15, 2010

Greetings and Castutations!

Whilst we’re keeping to a strict and rigorous schedule on the audio front these days, we’ve sort of dropped the ball vis-a-vis the written content this month and for that we humbly apologise as we know just how much you all like to read what we think as well as hear what we think.

As a way of catching up then here are five short reviews of films we’ve been meaning to write about of late but just haven’t found the time to do so. As always when we’re both sounding off, Chris W will write in green whilst Chris M will scribe in blue.

1. Film Community Potluck – The Seventh Seal

I’d been quite intent on watching this movie for a long time, finding that most things that have been parodied (at least in the classic sense of the term – not the “parodies” like Vampires Suck which we’re subjected to nowadays) do themselves prove to be quite worth watching. I was very happy then when I saw that it had been nominated by Ripley from four of them and shouted out my desire to be paired up with it.

The Seventh Seal tells the story of various levels of Swedish peasantry living through a plague sometime in the middle ages – more than that though it’s a study of mortality, faith, the value of life and the importance of having a good chess strategy.

Whilst its early shifts around various characters prove to be somewhat confusing, by the time the cast has met up and are travelling as one, the movie effortlessly hits home with its questioning of life, death and the futility of resistance to the latter.

As much as this film still proves to be a good thinking man’s watch over fifty years later, I’m not really sure how well it holds up to classics of its period – watch it but be prepared to muse whilst you do so.


2. Review – The Kids Are Alright

I feel like a broken record saying this about yet another movie but the folk who put taglines in the trailers and posters for TKAAR saying it was “the funniest, laughtest-out-loudest film of the year” are off their rocker. This is a dramedy in the strictest sense of the word; an explorative character piece about what happens when people from different backgrounds come together and effect each other’s lives.

So far as it goes TKAAR is a decent watch. All of the cast are on top form- notable mentions to Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasijowska (of Alice in Wonderland) as the offspring of same sex couple Annette Benning and Julianne Moore (two performances that both traverse the real/stereotype line at many points during the film) who go in search of their sperm donor father (Mark Ruffalo- FIT!) with consequences that affect their comfortable family existence.

The film outstays its welcome by the end (there is at least one mid-act subplot that could be lifted completely to lighten the film’s load without, I would argue, affecting the films impact at all) but in general it is a very easy watch that doesn’t ram it’s west-coast liberalism context down the audiences throat. Not bad.


3. Tag Team Review – Burke & Hare

The thing that strikes me most about this movie it is that it’s pretty boring. Being as we’re keeping this succint I’ll say that the laughs are few and far between and the story will only prove to be of slight interest if you’ve never heard of Burke & Hare before. Residents of Edinburgh like myself will undoubtedly already know the tale back to front.

The cast is crowded and severly underused in most cases (hello Tim Currie) even to the extent of Sirkis and Pegg themselves, and the over reliance on both support characters and cameo appearances throughout (p ss off Stephen Merchant) lend themselves more to a feeling of desperately trying to flesh the movie out enough to last the requisite ninety minutes than for the purpose of benefitting the proceedings.

Personally I don‘t think that Burke & Hare is informative, funny,  involving or captivating enough to hold anyone but the most ardent history buff’s attention – and they’ll only be annoyed at how liberally the history has been treated.

Oh and please stop hiring Australians to play Scottish people. Cheers.

We’ve set ourselves 150 words each on this one…how many words in “I was really bored”? There is the possibility that I just don’t like historically set comedies that spend their duration dropping contemporary references and attitudes into the proceedings, but even by those standards this was still hogwash. I struggle to think of anyone involved in the film that comes out of this with much integrity left- maybe Tim Currie, at a push Tom Wilkinson, but Pegg and Serkis are almost unwatchable at times, Isla Fisher is embarrassing (although her cleavage does at least try to change the subject from time to time) and that it is directed by a comedy legend of John Landis’ standard just makes the whole thing sit even worse in the stomach.

And despite what I said before about The Kids Are All Right being more of a drama than comedy it still had more laughs per minute than this piece of tosh.

A very bad effort.


4. Review – Despicable Me

Whilst most other people have sung and danced about this film, I’m going to lay down the gauntlet. I hated this movie, plain and simple.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen anything on the big screen so overtly pander to children. This movie is shameless in its attempts to gain cheap laughs, half of which miss completely. The voic

e acting is poor, the writing is sloppy, the characters don’t feel fully realised, the incident is bland and uninvolving and the morals feel too tacked on. I felt insulted throughout, particularly by Gru’s little yellow henchman, who go down in my estimation as some of the worst supporting characters of any film in recent memory.

But hey according to all the people I know who have seen it with children, their kids really enjoyed it. This then appears to be a film strictly for the younger kids out there, albeit a much more hollow one at which the parents will be left feeling less involved than with the usual animated fare. I wouldn’t expect anyone to buy this on DVD and genuinely find it worth watching five or more years down the line.

Oh and last thing… As much as I’m willing to suspend my disbelief, please don’t try and imply that taking the moon out of orbit around the earth wouldn’t have instant catastrophic effects the world over. Shame on you Universal.


5. Review – Mary and Max

I would like to argue that we are ending this post with the best film of the bunch. I cannot describe how completely enjoyable a viewing experience I had with Mary & Max.

We’re spoilt for choice these days with animated features and this Australian claymation MASTERPIECE must be a sure fire nomination for next year’s best animation Oscar (or the Toy Story 3 award to give it its full title) or my name isn’t Christopher Madd- oh…damn!

The story is simple and heartfelt; two lonely people separated by a continent (one an Australian girl with an alcoholic mother, the other a 40 year old Jewish New-Yorker with aspergers syndrome) share a pen pal relationship spanning 22 years and help each other to find their own identities in a world that doesn’t seem to want them in it.

I’m going to do a CM and not say much more about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it, but put simply I haven’t laughed more this year than I did in the opening 15 minutes, and I haven’t been as touched as I was by this in its last 20 minutes. It’s mesmerising. A movie of two-halves; a must see.

That’s your lot. Thanks for reading. Hopefully you’re now all caught up with our movie goings on and looking forward to our next audio post which should go up some time tomorrow.

Later alligators!


Five stars* that I could watch read the dictionary…

October 28, 2010

We’ve all got them, those certain actors and actresses that force us to throw caution to the wind and watch a movie even if it has had nothing but bad press.

These performers will mostly likely have come to our attention in the first place because of a role in a fantastic movie, but no matter what missteps their subsequent career might take, what blips may pepper their otherwise flawless CV, we will be with them all the way, paying the ticket price and Supporting Our Star.

Of course some guys and gals in film land are yet to tarnish their records, whilst others have done so more than once.

Here then, are 5 talents whose name on a credit list is enough to wet my whistle.

In no particular order;

 

Total Babe!

 

EMMA THOMPSON

Emma Thompson has an unflinching ability to make a fool of herself because at heart she is a comedienne. However she is probably better known for her dramatic and elegant roles in the likes of Sense and Sensibility and Much Ado About Nothing than for her deceptive turns in Stranger Than Fiction or Primary Colors.

For me her best performances are where she is able to display both elements of these personae; as Nanny McPhee– the grouch and hag turned Poppins; as Prof Trelawny in Harry Potter- goofy and slapstick yet demoralised and destroyed; even Kate in Last Chance Harvey– all at sea amid the hustle and bustle until a gentle fool causes her to simply take a breath and relax.

FILM THAT WON ME OVER: LOVE ACTUALLY

FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: JUNIOR

 

Anyone fancy a holiday to Venice?

 

DONALD SUTHERLAND

I used to be afraid of Donald Sutherland. I remember seeing Don’t Look Now late one night and feeling like I could never read Little Red Riding Hood again.

Then my dad sat me down and made me watch Kelly’s Heroes and M*A*S*H; two films made practically back to back in which Sutherland plays almost identical character’s; carefree, hedonistic chauvinist types that care more about themselves than they do about ‘The Cause’.

Sutherland is on my list mostly because he seems to be eking out a career in those scene-stealing wise-words-from-the-old-guard roles that audiences will be familiar with. The parts played with relish by people like Elliot Gould, Martin Sheen, Michael Caine, Michael Gambon, even Max Von Sydow. Any of those men could be on this list right now, because they are the sorts that help to raise the gravitas of a film- and know how to have fun with an otherwise developmental character.

Sutherland pips all the rest to the post (wordplay) for one simple reason; he is Jack Bauer’s dad- ‘nuff said.

FILM THAT WON ME OVER: M*A*S*H

FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: SPACE COWBOYS/ VIRUS/ BEERFEST – To be fair he’s been in a lot of shit over the years!)

 

Friends with Spielberg... who isn't these days?

 

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

A name that many may not be familiar with (or necessarily sure how to pronounce) but a face that lots will recognise, Ejiofor is a British actor that slapped me across the face with a knock out performance in a fantastic film (Serenity) and when I then looked into his past credits I realised I had seen him in loads of other awesome films.

Now making a name for himself in the U.S (although in admittedly similar roles each time- let’s hope he can move away from Sympathetic Agent/Bureaucrat Man sooner rather than later) Chiwetel Ejiofor is also an actor who has stayed close to his lower budget roots, and so for every Salt there is a Redbelt, for every Inside Man there is a Melinda and Melinda, and for every 2012 (eurgh!) there is a Children of Men. An acting force to be reckoned with; and apparently the next Denzel Washington (racist!).

FILM THAT WON ME OVER: SERENITY

FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: 2012

 

I would!

 

GEORGE CLOONEY

What is there to say about George that hasn’t been written a hundred times before?

The man simply oozes charisma and in my opinion is probably the closest thing Hollywood has these days to the old school cinematic icons of James Stewart and Cary Grant.  It’s hard to imagine him in any role that doesn’t involve him wearing a dinner suit with the top button undone, and the thing I love most about Clooney is that he doesn’t seem afraid to poke fun at himself.

In Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Clooney showed a genuine knack for comedy timing and emotional subtlety that he has carried with him since in the likes of the Ocean’s Trilogy and Intolerable Cruelty– one of his most underrated performances if you ask me.

Susceptible to the odd misstep too (his cameos aren’t fantastic and The Men Who Stared At Goats was more crap than crazy) George Clooney at least manages to always have a smile on his face and looks like someone who is simply enjoying the ride.

FILM THAT WON ME OVER: THREE KINGS

FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: WELCOME TO COLLINWOOD (even I can’t forgive BATMAN & ROBIN)

 

Track down and watch this film

 

MATHIEU AMALRIC

I won’t lie to you; I haven’t seen that many films starring Mathieu Amalric. But those that I have seen have shown me an actor that is incredibly versatile and talented.

Amalric is probably best known to English speaking audiences for his performance as Dominic Greene in Quantum of Solace (one of those weasel-esque villains as opposed to the thuggish sort) but I first saw him in The Diving Bell and The Butterly, the true story of Jean-Do Bauby the Elle editor who was completely paralyzed after a stroke and could only communicate by blinking.

Amalric is magnetic in a role that requires practically no movement whatsoever, and since then I have been hooked, turning up to see him in safer European territory like A Christmas Tale, and more recently in a more supporting capacity as a policeman in Alain Resnais’ madcap Wild Grass.

Hardly likely to leave an impression on American cinema in the way that Gerard Depardieu has done, Mathieu Amalric is undoubtedly a brighter talent than that bumbling stereotype and hopefully will receive more recognition from the mainstream crowd in the future.

FILM THAT WON ME OVER: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY

FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: I haven’t seen him in anything rubbish yet.

So there you have it. Hardly a comprehensive list (there are so many other actors and actresses vying for a position in my top 5) but perhaps simply a glimpse into the type of performers that leave me yearning for more.

Now it’s your turn; Who would end up in your top 5? Who wouldn’t? Let me know below. I’ll give you one of mine to get you started…Lisa Kudrow puts me off movies like mouldy bread puts me off sandwiches…

*Point of notice. All of the above performers should be considered to pale in significance to one Ben Affleck, a man I have nothing but love and admiration for, and who far and away I would cross treacherous waters just to get a glimpse of in a film. Mr A has done his fair share of monkey shine I know, but I feel he does so with such a charm and ease that it’s as if he himself knows it will lead him to derision. I particularly look out for any films in which he has a cameo as those are the ones in which he seems to have the most fun. And I’d certainly let him rummage in the back of my Volkswagen…if he ever asked!


Five movies I wouldn’t switch over…

October 11, 2010

You know the situation, we’ve all done it before; there are always movies that no matter the fact you have them sitting on your DVD shelf and quite in spite of the fact that you’ve seen them tons of times before, if someone else is watching them or they’re showing on television you find yourself quite inadvertently glued to the sofa watching for the umpteenth time – even with all the advert breaks!

Here then are five movies which I never seem to be able to switch over whenever I stumble upon them;

School of Rock
Starring: Jack Black

Genuinely, I’ve probably seen this film more than any other film ever. Seriously. And you know what? Every time I watch it, it’s a blast. Jack Black plays his usual over the top obnoxious character but, perhaps oddly for him, actually has a development arc that is both realistic and satisfying. The jokes are funny, the kids are amazing and perhaps most importantly, the appreciation and love of Rock is worn firmly on this film’s sleeve from the moment it opens right up until the second it closes. The final pay off is perhaps the best part of this movie, it sends shivers down my spine and brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

Highlight: Jack Black’s vocalising during band practice of the solo he later plays at the battle of the bands.

 

Face/Off
Starring: Nicolas Cage & John Travolta

This is one of the films that I can really credit with getting me into movies – I first saw it when I was about fifteen and it completely changed my opinion of what action movies could be – it shifted my opinion of them from being musclebound guys effortlessly fighting off entire armies to character pieces involving trapped heroes, personal threat, intrigue and a countdown to destruction; that’s not to say it was the first one action flick ever to do that, but it was certainly the one that broke the mould for me. The action is fast paced and intense, the direction is Woo’s usual dovey best and Cage and Travolta are compelling in both roles.

Highlight: The escape from the floating prison has always been a favourite of mine, as well as the opening shoot out at an airfield (which I usually miss if I turn it on part way through).

 

Back to the Future II
Starring: Michael J. Fox & Christopher Lloyd

As referenced in the last episode I am firmly of the opinion that Back to the Future II is one of the most complicated films ever written – which is somewhat exacerbated (or perhaps caused) by the fact that I’m usually drunk whilst watching it – worrying considering it’s usually on at about six o’clock on ITV2 on a Saturday afternoon… Seriously though this film is a wondrous sequel which realistically needs no real knowledge of the original and has enough gripping and hilarious moments throughout to hold your attention no matter what point you tune in. Tell me honestly you haven’t dreamed of owning one of those hoverboards!

Highlight: The ending where Back to the Future II Marty is stuck in 1955 and receives a letter from 1985 Doc Brown who is now trapped in 1885 and rushes to see 1955 Doc Brown just as Back to the Future I Marty goes back to 1985. Mind boggling!

 

Notting Hill
Starring: Hugh Grant & Julia Roberts

Perhaps the most off the wall of the list and the one that maybe needs the most explanation. I grew up surrounded by women, living in a house of three sisters and a mother who all love rubbish films and a father who (much like myself) preferred to just let them get on with it rather than have the hassle of trying to convince all four of them that whatever sopfest they’re watching is infinitely less interesting than the F1. Occasionally though there’s a sopfest which stands out above all the others and is at least watchable, and king amongst all of them is Notting Hill.

Hugh Grant is on form at his awkward British best, Julia Roberts is at her most vulnerable and perhaps best looking and the periphery characters all play their part without being too intrusive (including a noteworthy career launching performance from Rhys Ifans). If you’ve never seen it before, it’s as simple as thinking Four Weddings meets Pretty Woman and try to ignore the awful Ronan Keating song that accompanied it.

Highlight: Perhaps one of the best passing of time montages committed to celluloid.

 

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger & Linda Hamilton

No list of mine is complete without an Arnie film and what more appropriate to drop into this list than the very film that Casta is named in honour of. Cameron’s stunning and character shifting sequel has the original Terminator switching sides and an even more fearsome threat in the shape of Robert Patrick as the T-1000, which may look kind of dated now, but was revolutionary at the time and really brought computer generated imagery to the forefront of Hollywood cinema. This really is one of the ultimate action movies and it’s fit to burst with memorable characters, frenetic action scenes, well thought out time travel and a healthy dollop of comedic wit on the side. Absolutely incredible from whatever point you watch it.

Highlight: Every second Arnie is on screen.

 

Needless to say then that I love the five films above and, quite surprisingly for once, all of them are widely considered to be at least quite good. That’s not to say however that there aren’t completely awful movies that I wouldn’t sit through were I to stumble upon them (some of which figure in my earlier critics got wrong posts) – these were just the first five that came to mind.

I’m really interested in hearing what you sit through time after time so why not share your thoughts in the comments below?


Five (six) movies that cure my hangover…

September 13, 2010

Chris M wrote a few articles recently of films he likes that the critics don’t seem to and in the hopes of cashing in on his idea I thought I would unveil a few choice cuts of my own that I love that perhaps other people don’t like (or that at the very least aren’t considered classics). The following is a list of films that remind me of mornings after the night before; those perfect hangover movies that allow me to forget it’s past midday and I’m still in my dressing gown!

Daddy Day Care & Cheaper by the Dozen

I’ll start off with a double bill because these two films come hand in hand for me; most times I watch one the other won’t be far behind. I love Daddy Day Care, and I am man enough to admit that at least 80% of the reason for that is because the kids are just awesome. Classic lines such as ‘Can you hear me now?’ ‘I missed’ and ‘I can change it’ (taken out of context those lines are meaningless- tough, you’ll just have to watch it to find out why they’re ace) are made that much funnier by a preschooler uttering them- one of which is Dakota Fanning’s younger sister! Fact.

The other reason I like it is because for probably the only time this decade Eddie Murphy is also watchable and for the most part this is because he doesn’t try to be funny. He simply drives the story, letting Steve Zahn and Jeff Garlin do the slapstick stuff and the kids be kids.

And speaking of old hats being watchable there’s Steve Martin in Cheaper By The Dozen, who this time earns points with me by doing his whole sarcastic, pratfall dad thing. Plot wise I don’t know; stuff happens, the teenage kids go through some problems, the nerdy kid gets accepted, but mostly the film is an excuse to see just how bad it might be to be a father with 12 kids whose wife then goes away for a month. Worth watching just for Martin and Bonnie Hunt’s opening montage/voiceover explaining exactly how they made it to the magic twelve- and a hilarious sequence involving a bouncy castle.

Jurrassic Park 3

I can appreciate people ragging on JP3 because it is nothing compared to Steven Spielberg’s original but Joe Johnston’s 2001 follow up (let’s forget The Lost World) light’s my candle because it is probably the closest we have had to a decent B-movie style flick from Hollywood in the last 20 years- with the exception of Eight Legged Freaks; another classic! Forget the plot, forget the characterisation, this is 90 minutes (and its short too by action movie standards) of people being chased by dinosaurs ALL THE FRIGGING TIME.

It takes 10 minutes for Sam Neill and his gang to wind up marooned on island #2 (the island Allan Grant HADN’T visited the first time around) and from then on in it is one thing after another as the troupe make their way through the jungle to safety. Pretty much everything anyone ever wanted from the concept of dinosaurs-meet-humans if you ask me. Bit of a ridiculous ending, but I’m willing to forgive it that based solely on the T-Rex/Megasaurus fight about 20minutes in.

Surviving Christmas

Everyone knows that I have a special place in my heart reserved for Ben Affleck (and if you don’t know that then where have you been?) and so it makes sense that when I am at my most fragile I might turn to a film that showcases his capabilities and charm. Surviving Christmas is B-Fleck on top form. Ben plays a selfish marketing executive who in an attempt to find Christmas pays a family that includes James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara and Christina Applegate to accept him as one of their own and create for him the perfect holiday season.

Here at Casta La Vista we love a good Christmas movie and Surviving Christmas is to me what Jingle all the Way is to Chris M. I have watched this film in May and still been into it. Critically the film was trashed and people added it to their list of films that prove Affleck is a waste of space. But like any good fanatic I just don’t listen to reason and factual evidence and instead enjoy a group of actor’s clearly only in it for the pay-cheque create a film that perfectly imagines the cynicism and turmoil of the holiday season, before wrapping everything up in a perfect-love-story finale. Perhaps the lack of effort by the cast actually aids the story as their disinterest in the film works well with their character’s disinterest in the holidays. At least two classic B-Fleck deliveries mean that this is always a go-to movie for me. And his smile makes my heart skip a beat.

The Royal Tenenbaums

The thing I love about Wes Anderson’s early work in particular is that every time I watch Rushmore, Tenenbaums or Life Aquatic (not really as much with Bottle Rocket) it is that particular film that instantly becomes my favourite Anderson pic. I’m choosing Tenenbaums for this though because more often than not it is the Anderson film I’ll go to first.

The Royal Tenenbaums isn’t a particularly short film but for me it rockets by as I spend the duration anticipating what is about to happen next and trying to decide if the next scene is one of my many “favourite scenes of the movie”. Critics can argue that Anderson’s work has a tendency to be over stylised, but for me Tenenbaums is the movie that backs it up with top class performances and a wonderful story. Forget about praising the ensemble as a whole; this film is all about Gene Hackman and he gives one of his best performances in years. He IS Royal Tenenbaum; every loathsome, selfish and manipulative ounce of him. I love a good movie bastard, they’re so much more fun to watch.

I love this film because every time I watch it I find it more hilarious and I always notice something new. It’s a perfect hangover cure because it forces me to pay attention and rewards that attention with a new laugh each and every time.

Old School

I end proceedings with probably the ultimate hangover film in many respects; my generation’s Animal House. The film that created the monster that is Will Ferrell. The film that turned Vince Vaughn back into a comedian. The film that people forget has Luke Wilson in it. The film that introduced us all…to THE DAN BAND.

Old School has it all for my hangover cure; belly laughs a plenty; good quality slapstick; top swearing; great villainy (Dean Pritchard is a brilliant character); boobies; great music; ridiculous cameos and homages; even a whiff of social comment on what it is to be a white-collar male.

Show me a man who doesn’t like Old School and I’ll show you a prick- it’s that simple. This film kept me alive during my first term at University and to see people only now showing Todd Phillips kudos on the basis of The Hangover is to forget that 7 years before he showed us the beauty of Zach Galifanakis he had found a way to tap into the potential energy of Will Ferrell and deliver us Frank the Tank. A movie so crass and shameless it has the balls to save it’s romantic ending for the last 20 seconds of screen time, and even then make it look like an excuse for a quickie. Brilliant.

So there you have it folks. 6 films that make me smile with unadulterated enthusiasm and wonderment. For me these films are entertainment-cinema at its best. Everyone has a list like this in them, why not tell me yours by leaving feedback in the comments section below?