Archive for the 'Film' Category

Wait, how did this get made?

I’ve often been teased by various girlfriends in my life for my ebullient enthusiasm for action movies – the more insane, the better. While not so much now, I, for instance, loved the 4th Die Hard movie, at least in the moment. In the last few years, that feeling has subsided a little, and while I love the MCU movies, the Transformers and DC movies have been a real turn-off.

Last year, I discovered a podcast that has been going since 2011, called How Did This Get Made? helmed by Paul Scheer, his wife June Diane Raphael, and the always brilliant Jason Mantzoukas; the team watch a terrible movie and discuss – with much hilarity. Eventually the pod evolved from comedically eviscerating terrible movies, to expressing incredulity in movies so-bad-they’re-great, and then to finding wonder in brilliant, insane, bonkers movies. And it’s in this last category we find Furious 6, the 6th instalment of the Fast and the Furious franchise – More on that in a moment.

Over Christmas, I finally finished all the HDTGM? episodes available for free on iTunes, and having found a love for the Earwolf podcast network through the show, I decided to buy myself a subscription to Stitcher Premium to get all the network’s shows behind the paywall including all of the as-yet-unheard of HDTGM? pods. Now, I must confess, I have listened to a great number of episodes of this show in a very short time, and many of them, I’ve never seen the movie they discuss. I maintain you really don’t have to have watched the movies to love this podcast. In that spirit, some of my favourite episodes were those on the Fast and the Furious movies (beginning at number 5); a series of movies I had previously ignored. That was about to change. The hosts, along with Adam Scott, had such childlike joy and enthusiasm for these films I found myself feeling a little tempted to go back and watch them all, but hey – who has time for that, eh?

At the Super Bowl, the trailer to the Fast and the Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw movie dropped. Much to the delight of the pod’s fans, Paul and Jason uploaded an emergency episode reviewing the almost 3-minute spot. I have rarely heard something so gleeful and full of joy. Statham! The Rock! Fucking Idris Elba as a seemingly actual super-villain. I walked to work that morning listening to this episode giggling with delight.

It was decided. I couldn’t see this Hobbs and Shaw movie without seeing the previous films. It was time.

The following week or so has been a whirlwind of action, cars, emotion, adrenalin, excitement, and a lot of exclaiming (out loud, and on my own, because you’re damn sure my girlfriend isn’t going to watch these movies with me) “Yaaaaaasssssss!!!!!”.

This morning, during my bike-workout, I finished Furious 6. It is incredible! I LOVE it. Our team, our family, has come along way from ripping off DVD player shipments in the first movie to now taking on actual international terrorists.

Every single penny of its budget is up there on the screen, and as was noted on the HDTGM? episode, cinema-goers were getting value for every cent of their ticket.

For me to write much more about this movie would be to parrot the podcast in itself so much do my feelings mirror theirs so I can, however, suggest that anyone who may stumble across this excitable blathering watches the movie, then takes some time to listen to the HDTGM? pod below.

Enjoy!

[EDIT]

I’ve spent this weekend finishing the last couple of Fast and Furious movies (7 and 8) and I’m ready for Hobbs and Shaw in the summer. I thought it wouldn’t get better than 6, and man, I was wrong. I really enjoyed 8 but 7 was flawless! From ignoring these movies to slavishly evangelising about them, in less than a couple of weeks. I would never have imagined that in a hundred lifetimes.

BFI 100: 84 – Educating Rita (1983)

Here we continue, what will probably eventually become known as, the ill-fated journey of watching each of the British Film Institute’s 100 best films of the 20th Century. Starting at 100 and working my way to Orson Welles’ The Third Man at number 1. I’ll try to keep these blogs relatively spoiler free and I’ll consider them only a small record of moving through this series.

© Columbia Pictures

There is a defining shot in Lewis Gilbert’s Educating Rita – a film based on Willy Russell’s stage play – that is both visually striking and thematically moving. For reasons I won’t spoil, we find a Chekov book burning in a fire. In a film thematically rich with ideas of freedom, it is a visual allusion to an all too real lack thereof. Educating Rita is a touching, and at times poignant, comedy. Michael Caine is strong as Dr. Frank Bryant but it is Walters who delivers a stand-out performance as the titular Rita.

BFI 100: 85 – Brassed Off (1996)

Here we continue, what will probably eventually become known as, the ill-fated journey of watching each of the British Film Institute’s 100 best films of the 20th Century. Starting at 100 and working my way to Orson Welles’ The Third Man at number 1. I’ll try to keep these blogs relatively spoiler free and I’ll consider them only a small record of moving through this series.

© Channel Four Films

An early start on my 3 hours of guitar practice this morning left me with an extra couple of hours in the middle of the day, so I decided to pick up the long neglected BFI 100 list, from where I last left it in September 2016 – number 85. Now, it’s surprising that I’d not yet seen Mark Herman’s 1996 comedy-drama, Brassed Off; a film telling the story of coal-mine closures in the early 90s – as it does – through the eyes of the Colliery’s brass band. Surprising, because my girlfriend of the time performed in a brass band, playing euphonium, and from memory seemed to love this film. To my shame I dismissed it as a romantic comedy, something it very much is not.

Brassed Off is a moving depiction of the struggles faced by miners as privatisation of the industry forced many pits to close, and the film – and possibly more the music therein – moved me to tears more than once. The tone of the film occasionally feels dated. Gloria, Tara Fitzgerald’s character, for instance, faces the odd moment of casual sexism; and of course coal is somewhat problematic in today’s climate (both figuratively and literally). The characters, however, have so much charm that you root for them from the off, and despite a 2018 understanding that clean energies are the way forward; to see these people struggle with their impending unemployment is deeply moving. The sentiment expressed at the end of the film in particular, especially for someone that grew up in a post-industrial, ex-mining town, under Thatcher.

While I felt this was a film I’d just have to “get through”, I sit here writing afterwards, and I can’t recommend it more highly.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

For the second time in a week, I found myself excitedly anticipating the end of that silence as I wait, for what feels like an age, for the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” to leave the cinema screen, and for that iconic brass fanfare to erupt across the room.

I was, of course, having my second helping of Star Wars: The Last Jedi – this time, in Kinoteka in Warsaw. Previously I’d gone with my mum in what feels like it will become an annual Christmas tradition as LucasFilm will inevitably release a new Star Wars film every Christmas until the day I die. This time, I took Marta along (or more acurately, I should say, she took me) in the hope I might spark some love for the saga, though I wasn’t counting on it.

And… I was surprised to find, afterwards, she loved it – though I suspect BB-8 and the Porgs had something to do with that. There wasn’t a lot of time to discuss it as I’m due in the radio studio in an hour or so but I look forward to find what excited her about it.

I’m going to keep this short as I’m almost certain to spoil something if I don’t but I want to note something that I heard recently on a Slate Podcast. For anyone disappointed at the absence of some form of the phrase “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”, it turns out it’s in there after all. Rian Johnson confirmed recently that the line is in there in an albeit unconventional way. It’s delightful.

My thoughts on the film, by the way? Incredible – drags a little in the middle with a particular sub-plot, but I loved it.

Maybe a third time. I’m tempted. We’ll see.

BFI 100: 86 – Genevieve (1953)

Here we continue, what will probably eventually become known as, the ill-fated journey of watching each of the British Film Institute’s 100 best films of the 20th Century. Starting at 100 and working my way to Orson Welles’ The Third Man at number 1. I’ll try to keep these blogs relatively spoiler free and I’ll consider them only a small record of moving through this series.

© Rank Organisation

© Rank Organisation

A Saturday evening’s rest was desperately needed after an exhausting day of planning and scheming for a 2017 full of movement and activity. Instead of music at BarKa, I opted for number 86 on the BFI 100 list, the charming 1953 comedy, Genevieve. Having no real interest in cars, not least vintage cars, I didn’t expect I would connect with this movie and in the beginning I didn’t think I would but I saw so much of my parents in the McKim family’s bickering on their road trip that I began to warm to it. As egos between our protagonist and another car owner get bruised, they decide to make the return leg of the London – Brighton veteran car run a race, and high-jinks ensue. Although this isn’t an Ealing comedy, the director and producer Henry Cornelius, is of Ealing pedigree. A bet is made, cars break down, people fall over. It’s all you’d expect of an Ealing comedy, and more.