Author Archives: leerobertadams
Yasujirō Ozu‘s Tokyo Story is a film I would urge anyone to see, because I can’t think of another film that matches it for such simple and profound emotional truth.
In twenty years as a film buff, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve had a blind spot when it comes to Japanese cinema. My prejudices were probably strengthened by the few examples of J-horror that I’d seen. The end of Ringu was so pant-wettingly scary that it almost got me a free month’s rent – my flatmate was so frightened he offered to let me off if I’d let him sleep in my room that night. Yet the preceding two hours or so were pretty much how I expected Japanese films to be – chilly, inscrutable, oblique.
There are few films with the diabolical aura of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. The story of demonic possession built its fearsome reputation during the long years of exile from videotape – while it was not included in the BBFC’s list of banned films via the Video Recordings Act 1984, it became an unofficial member of the “Video Nasty” club. BBFC censor refused to issue a home video certificate, thus depriving a generation of latchkey kids with access to their dad’s video card the joys of a head-spinning, pea-soup-puking, spider-walking little girl, and the brave priests who try to save her.
Nowadays, the special effects sequences look a bit creaky and rather tame compared to what our torture porn era has to offer, but what is left is a film of undeniable power.
I’ve never been a big fan of movies with just the character’s first name as a title – it creates so much expectation. What is so special about this individual that I’m on first name terms with them before the opening credits roll? I think – what will the trials and tribulations of Arthur, Annie, Alfie or Paul tell me about the world around me, or more importantly, the world within me?
So Arthur’s a rich pisshead; Annie’s an annoying ginger orphan; Alfie just wants to get his leg over with a bit of crumpet; and Paul is a slacker alien voiced by Seth Rogan. Then I think – so what? Let’s watch something else instead.
Movies titles with just the surname fare slightly better – at least Bullitt sounds like a hard name, matching Steve McQueen’s inscrutable hero. Perhaps it was Shakespeare who created such high expectations, naming some of his most famous plays after the eponymous character – Macbeth & Hamlet for example. But the Bard could get away with it, a) because Macbeth & Hamlet are pretty cool names, and b) he was alright at creating memorable characters to match the anticipation generated by the title.
Julia gets away with it too. The name itself is pretty mundane, and the film is based on another first-name-titled movie, John Cassavette’s Gloria; but it does feature an absolutely enormous central performance by Tilda Swinton. In fact, if I could write a one-word movie review for Julia, borrowing the rather obnoxious exclamation mark from Oliver! – I would just write: TILDA!
The plot summary of The Descendants makes it sound about as much fun as watching a club-footed farmer drown some kittens – a man prepares for the imminent death of his wife while trying to track down the man she was having an affair with. Without the marquee name of George Clooney attached, viewers might be forgiven for thinking the film is a disease-of-the-week movie that somehow found its way onto the big screen.
Luckily, the film is fronted by one of Clooney’s finest performances as the harrowed husband, fully deserving of his Oscar Nomination, and as with his more recent Nebraska, director and co-writer Alexander Payne shows his keen eye and ear for the nuances of family life.
Video Krypt has now reached 20,000 hits! That’s enough people to fill Meadow Lane, the historic home of Notts County FC. Judging by some of the terms people have searched to find us, it would be one of the weirdest home crowds in the Magpies’ 150 year history…
“Ben Stiller Tropic Thunder Shirtless” – Yes, someone out there apart from Ben Stiller’s wife thinks that Ben Stiller is a a hunk, and wants pictures of him without a top on. So I hope whoever it was enjoyed my review of Tropic Thunder: Tropic Thunder – Get Some Again!
Sunshine on Leith is a workmanlike crowdpleaser adapted from the musical of the same name, a story of two squaddies told in large part by the songs of The Proclaimers. The game cast breezily warm the cockles and the songs serve the slender plot well before the film’s torpid mid-section gets bogged down in maudlin marital melodrama.
It will take a very hard hearted person to actually dislike Dexter Fletcher’s sophomore effort as director, but for all its good intentions, I was just hanging around for the Edinburgh duo’s two biggest hits to make an appearance by the end.
2013 was a great year for cinema, according to all available evidence and the cooing of many commentators. I’ve watched a large chunk of its diverse output, including seven of the nine Best Picture nominations for the Oscars, as well as various other notable additions, but none struck me as much as Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. I don’t know what the hell it was trying to say, but it seemed at once like a corrupted fairytale told by Terence Malick in a parallel universe; Scarface by way of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City; Reservoir Dogs in bikinis; End of Days shot in over-saturated neon by Sofia Coppola; and somehow like Apocalypse Now filmed on Florida shores.
I was reading about clouds today, because I was trying to come up with a facetious analogy to start off my Cloud Atlas review, and to my embarrassment, I realised that I wasn’t sure how clouds form.
One type of cloud, I learned, is a convection cloud (Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds are brilliant examples of these – check this out -
- formed by water vapour in rising columns of hot air condensing into droplets, and ganging together to create what most people imagine when they hear the word “cloud”. )
It is also the type of cloud some people like to look at when laying around in the park, trying to spot clouds which resemble familiar shapes – an elephant, a whale, a giraffe, or perhaps Lady Gaga receiving a Grammy award.
Which brings us to Cloud Atlas, an ambitious and mercurial era-hopping sci-fi drama directed by the Wachowski siblings and Run Lola Run helmer Tom Tykwer. Adapted from David Mitchell’s 2004 novel, the film presents itself as a high-minded epic, although like our friends the Cumulus and Cumulonimbus, is formed by lots of hot air. Weaving six stories spanning hundreds of years, it occasionally appears to take the shape of meaningful things we recognise, buts turns out vaporous and lacking any real substance.
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be —- a broker??”
It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Henry Hill’s opening confession at the beginning of Goodfellas. Scorsese’s seminal 1990 mob classic is the film to which The Wolf of Wall Street is compared the most, as both based on the true stories of men seduced by a decadent and corrupt lifestyle, and somehow emerge the other side of the inevitable fall, relatively unscathed and completely unrepentant.
Some critics have slammed The Wolf of Wall Street for glorifying unfettered greed and debauchery. I don’t have a problem with a film focussing on greed and debauchery, especially in Scorsese-world; after all, this is a director who has committed some of the most violent and repellent characters in movie history to the screen. My problem with The Wolf of Wall Street is that it is just an awful movie, and that I can’t forgive.
The Great Detective was a drug addict. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote him that way, and it is a fact central to Sherlock Holmes lore, which has created a thorny issue for many a filmmaker in adapting Doyle’s canonical series of stories. It is a fact that cannot be ignored – The Sign of Four opens with a lengthy scene of Holmes shooting up morphine. Even Basil Rathbone, the first truly iconic portrayal of Holmes, found the subject a bit sticky – his triumphant call for the needle at the end of The Hound of the Baskervilles invoked the wrath of the draconian Hays Code.
Even the most recent adaptation, Mark Gatiss’ shit hot BBC series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, which so successfully brought Holmes into the 21st century with its seamless appropriation of smartphones and blogging, was notably coy about the issue until the third series. It took until the third episode of the third series for the creators to fully acknowledge Holmes’ dabbling with hard drugs, with Watson accidentally rumbling Holmes in a shooting gallery. Then screenwriters and actors bashfully tip-toed around the subject for five minutes, treating it as a comic episode, then the issue was forgotten as the plot hastily resumed.