I’m a sucker for a solid political thriller. When everyone was somewhat lukewarm to the release of Official Secrets last year, I listed it well within my top ten of the year. Had I ever written such an article it would’ve appeared there, I’m sure of it. So, when it comes to political thrillers directed by established directors who have created some of my favourites, you can expect my expectations to be somewhat high. From the director of All the President’s Men comes The Parallax View, a political thriller starring Warren Beatty that preceded the Academy Award winning work of Alan. J Pakula.
Aaron Berg shuffling from stage to stage, intercut with talking head interviews where he frankly and honestly opens up about how his stand-up comedy isn’t the level he wants it to be at is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it’s sort of upsetting to see how many comedians like Berg fail to make it to the big leagues of the industry, especially in one where Berg is confidently funnier than a majority of the mainstream. You can tell that from the brief vignettes we get from Berg who talks with passion about the industry. The other edge of that sword though, is that Berg is aware that his stand-up comedy isn’t great enough to break on through to television or film.
I think with just about every medium of entertainment there’ll always be gaps in your knowledge. Whether it’s a certain album you’ve yet to listen to, a classic book you’ve yet to sift through or, in my case, a film you’ve yet to view. When it comes to what I write about (film, for those unaware), there’ll always be gaps in my knowledge. The best I can do to counteract this is to plug away at just about any film I can find, especially those that are held in extremely high regard. Gladiator is one of the films I’ve been meaning to get around to but for one fluke reason or another I’ve evaded completely.
What can be said about Uwe Boll? A man so hated by Hollywood that he quit the industry and opened up a restaurant. A director so vilified by critics that he offered them out for a boxing match, and proceeded to hospitalise the vast majority of them. Uwe Boll is a creator of content that would fall gracefully into the shlock and awe category, films that are so disgusting, random, repugnant and vile that they have some bleak and charming energy to them. They do to me, anyway, and I do find myself somewhat a fan of his work. If that makes me the world’s biggest idiot or a scholar of modern art, it’s up in the air for now though. What I do know though is that Fuck You All: The Uwe Boll Story is a superbly crafted documentary that really digs in deep with its subject.
It’s rare that I’ll watch a film recommended to me by a friend. Not just because most of my friends have a taste in film that would turn even the most amateur movie fan’s stomach, but because I like to pick and choose what I watch, when I like. Just so happening to coincide with a time when I wanted to experience my first Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck pairing, I was recommended Roman Holiday. One of the rare occasions when I will ever listen to any of my friends, and I find myself under the grim realisation that maybe I had knocked the average film taste a little too much, because Roman Holiday was an absolute delight from start to finish.
I think it goes without saying at this point that I hold no nostalgia whatsoever for Disney movies. Their animation is borderline enjoyable at times, yet the stories they look to highlight in many of their tales are not in the slightest bit of interest to me. A real shame indeed, but when it comes to the films I may enjoy somewhat, it’s nice to see that Disney are equally prepared to let me down. The Sword in the Stone managed to survive its surprisingly short running time by being competent at best, but even competency can’t save it from being a completely bland, pedestrian and uninspired film.
The easier it is to watch incredible animated features, the better, and with Studio Ghibli movies finding their way onto Netflix, it seems like it’ll be easier and easier to engage with an aspect of film history that I have otherwise evaded until now. My introduction to the series of films came in the form of the harrowing Grave of the Fireflies, and since then I’ve been somewhat hooked by the likes of Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service. They’re all incredibly nice-looking films, with some nice plots to engage a younger audience but with timeless re-watchability that’ll make it a treat for older audiences also. I find myself in the latter category, and my first time viewing of My Neighbour Totoro was an absolute blast.
I think it goes without saying that you should never canoe through dangerous waters. Whether or not that danger is the water itself or the inhabitants that surround the water, you’re best off just staying away from small bodies of water. That does include rivers, bathtubs, oceans and water bottles, but unlike the leading group we find ourselves saddled with in Deliverance, I don’t like to take chances. Deliverance looks to showcase the disasters at hand when four friends decide to take a weekend break traversing a small river that will soon cease to be when a dam is built, cutting off the water supply and thus making the river completely dry.
I’ve said countless times before that I couldn’t care less for Disney or the work they wish to output. Nothing but fancy princess tales that excrete happiness out of every available opening or fluffy worlds created to reel in the braindead masses of kids who are too scared to watch Coraline and too young to watch Chicken Run. I hate it, I’m not sure why millions are driven to love Disney products, and it’s something I’ll possibly never understand. Somewhat hypocritically, I find myself with a complete adoration for Ratatouille, and I find myself in the same camp that I placed all the other rejects who love Disney animated pieces into. Not a single person I know can understand why I have such a love for the 2007 Pixar/Disney collaboration where a talking rat learns to cook in the harsh understudy of a dead chef in the heart of Paris. Yet Ratatouille was one of my favourite films growing up, and now that I’ve hit the old age of twenty, I thought I’d head back and see if the film can hold its own over a decade later.
On my never-ending mission to power through just about any movie with a whiff of sentimentality to anyone, I landed on this German made piece of film, Run Lola Run. Fast paced, energetic and just a tiny sense of self-awareness to how preposterous a storyline it details, the Tom Tykwer directed film comes at a time where dance and techno music was still popular. What dark times they were, and Run Lola Run, rather than combatting such dark and dreary forces, engages with it on a level that filmmakers today can still respond to and develop upon.