Another film thoughts post, because I’m playing major catch up! Luckily for number two on my 31 Before 31 list, I found a Hitchcock box set that I knew was hiding in my house somewhere. It has fourteen films in it, and I’ve seen one of them, so if I watch all of them I will be able to tick off number two! I started with Rope.
Two men strangle a friend they consider inferior, and hide his body in a trunk in their apartment. They then play host to his friends and family at a dinner party, where they hope to prove that they have committed the perfect murder.
What I Liked
- James Stewart. He’s awesome in just about anything he’s in, but I thought he was especially good in this. I enjoyed watching him working out what was going on, and see how his views on murder are turned around completely.
- Alfred Hitchcock is not called the master of suspense for nothing. The tension in Rope is there all the time, because as the audience we know that there is a body in the apartment, and we are just waiting for someone else to discover it.
- I love the way that Rupert Cadell (James Stewart’s character) is built up. He is talked about constantly before he arrives; John Dall’s character, the murderer, Brandon, is eager for him to arrive because he believes that if Rupert ever discovers what they have done, he will be impressed.
- The actual arrival of Rupert is great too. Before he arrives, Brandon is in control; he has control over his co-conspirator, Phillip (played by Farley Granger), and he is exerting control over the rest of the group because he knows that he has killed their loved one. When Rupert arrives, everything changes, and it’s clear that he is instantly in a superior position, even though he knows nothing about the murder.
- The main characters are gay, and although this is never alluded to explicitly, it’s clear that they are in a relationship and living together. For a film made in 1948, it’s rather brave to make it clear (even without confirming it), that two men were living together.
- Without giving too much away, the scene in which the housekeeper is preparing to return some books to the chest is brilliant. Everyone is chatting while the camera stays fixed on her as she moves between two rooms, and you really aren’t sure whether or not this will be the moment when everything comes to light.
What I Didn’t Like
- There was nothing I didn’t like about this film. If I was a proper film reviewer, I’m sure I’d be able to come up with something, but I’m not. I’m a film watcher, and I loved it. It’s one that I know I will watch time and time again.
Despite my best intentions to give my thoughts on the new films that I am watching this year, I’ve got all behind! I watched Cowboys and Aliens ages ago, and have only just got around to writing about it!
A spaceship full of aliens arrives in the Wild West in 1873, intent on mining gold and taking over the earth. When people from Colonel Dolarhyde’s town, including his son, are taken by the aliens, he gathers up a posse to get them back and rid earth of the aliens.
What I Liked
- Daniel Craig. I like Daniel Craig a lot, as a very attractive man of course, but also as an actor. His performance is definitely one of the highlights.
- Daniel Craig’s bottom. In chaps. I watched it with my friend Jen and we both agreed that it was a highlight of the film.
- Sound is very important in a film (to me, at least), and I very much enjoy the sound of a western film. Horses hooves on sand is a very enjoyable sound.
- Harrison Ford has never been one of my favourite actors, but (need I really say it), he’s much more appealing to me as he gets older. I feel as though his grumpy turn here as Colonel Dolarhyde is not that far away from the real Mr Ford.
- It’s a bit of fun, as most action films are. It was never going to win any awards, but sometimes you just want to watch a bit of escapist fun, and that’s fine.
What I Didn’t Like
- Paul Dano is criminally underused. Seriously, he’s in it for about ten minutes all told.
- I know the whole premise of the film is Cowboys *and* Aliens, but it’s actually a lot better when it’s a cowboy film, rather than an alien film.
- I like Olivia Wilde. I went through a stage where I had a super-huge girl crush on her. But in this, she’s a bit… meh. I can’t even summon up the enthusiasm to be negative about her. I’m just indifferent.
- Talking of Olivia Wilde, she has zero chemistry with Daniel Craig. I’m not just saying that because she gets to kiss Daniel Craig. He has chemistry with other actresses; Eva Green, Naomi Harris, and probably Rachel Weisz. But none here.
So that’s that. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Before it came out, I was super excited to see it, and now I have, I just feel fairly indifferent towards it. Not a film that I ever expect to watch again, unless I chance upon it on television on Boxing Day in a couple of years.
On Tuesday night, The Impossible became my first new film of the year. As promised, I am going to be providing my eloquent and extremely important thoughts on each new film I watch this year. I’ll avoid major spoilers, because I’m nice like that, but if you are averse to knowing anything about a film you haven’t seen, you might want to steer clear of these posts.
I’ve also decided that these posts may require a brief synopsis of the plot, so I’m adding that in.
The Impossible is the true story of Maria and Henry Belon and their three children, who take a holiday from their home in Japan to Thailand, in December 2006. They are caught up in the devastating Boxing Day tsunami, and separated from one another, searching desperately throughout the film to reunite.
What I Liked
- The lead performances. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, as Maria and Henry, are pretty darn great, but it’s probably ridiculous to expect much else. Oscar nominations are out today; I can’t really see either of them beating off fierce competition to be named in their respective categories, though Watts has a much better chance than McGregor.
- The supporting performances. There are only five main characters in this film, and the other three characters are the three sons of the Belons. Tom Holland, who plays the oldest son Lucas, is outstanding, and has received a number of nominations in breakthrough and young performance categories; all thoroughly deserved. The two younger boys in the film are fantastic in their own way too, being given less to do than Holland but shining when the spotlight is on them.
- It’s brutal. I am not usually a fan of brutal, but this is a subject matter where anything less than sheer brutality would feel like a cheat.
- It’s emotional. I cried a lot at this film, for a variety of different reasons, but in true cathartic style, I loved it. Just when I thought I was done with the crying, something else would happen, and I was off again, Right up to the penultimate scene of the film. And when Ewan McGregor cries (in any film), I’m a goner.
- It’s a disaster movie. And disaster movies are great. Sure, it’s an emotional, leave-you-sobbing-on-the-floor disaster movie, but still. I was expecting a scene showing the family at the beach, watching the water recede and wondering what was happening, but all you get is the family at the pool, hearing a dull rumble and watching the palm trees snap down, before the wave hits, and it’s incredible.
- It’s a true story. Watching a disaster play out on this scale and remembering that people actually lived through it is an intense feeling.
What I Didn’t Like
- It’s brutal. I know, I know, I said up there that I liked its brutality. What I should say is that I appreciated it, rather than enjoyed it, because there are some bits where I just couldn’t watch. An underwater section in particular, and Maria’s extensive injuries. And a scene involving choking/vomiting that will never leave me.
- The whiteness of it all. The family on which this story is based are Spanish, but have been changed to English for the purposes of the film. A bit of artistic license is understandable; you can cast Spanish actors, probably reducing the mainstream appeal, and either have them speaking English, or subtitle it. Or you go for a British sounding actors and pretend that they are a nice middle class family. So far, no real problems. But most of the people that the family encounter throughout the film are very European, apart from the odd Thai native. I know that the film is very much about this family’s story, and not the story of the devastating effects of the tsunami as a whole, but still. It leaves you feeling maybe a little bit uncomfortable, but probably not at all surprised.
All in all, the negatives that I have listed barely detract from the film at all. I had to wrack my brains to really think of any, that’s how much I enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, my enjoyment was tempered somewhat by the mega-annoying couple who sat to my right and decided to sit and talk to each other throughout the film. They were doing that fun thing where they wait until there is a slight lull in the action to discuss, at a normal conversational volume, what they had just seen. A couple of glares (round my friend Rob, who was sitting between them and me), was not enough, so in the end I shushed them! I whispered “Would you mind talking a bit more quietly please, we’re trying to watch the film.” At which point I got quite a haughty look, and from then they more or less continued in much the same vein, after she had said “Ooh, just been asked to talk more quietly!” as though my request was the most unreasonable thing you could possibly imagine. Bloody people!
Following on from my summary of books read in 2012, here are all the new-to-me films I saw in 2012. I set myself the target of 52 films in 52 weeks, and I exceeded it by five, reaching sixty in the end.
- Of the sixty films, I saw 13 at the cinema, 28 on DVD, seven on the television, and ten online.
- I watched thirteen of the films with Anna, and thirteen with Hannah. I thought Jen was going to win this one, because I watched a lot of films with her at the start of the year, but she fell just short with twelve.
- In the space of 41 days I watched all four of the Millennium trilogy films that have been released. I was obsessed with Lisbeth Salander in February and March, devouring three books and four films. I was quite bereft when I finished watching The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
- My favourite films of the year were: French Kiss, Warhorse, both The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo adaptations, The Hunger Games, Crazy Heart, The Social Network, Avengers Assemble, The Dark Knight Rises, Goldfinger, Brief Encounter, Educating Rita, Skyfall, Notorious and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
- The worst one I saw was A Christmas Romance. Anna bought it in the pound shop, and it was truly awful. Not so-awful-it’s-good. Just awful.