Saturday, 13 August 2011

LA Confidential

I have tried so many times to read a book by Ellroy. I borrow them from friends or family, I maybe read a page or two, get bogged down in a very gritty dark story and give up before moving onto something nice and Hollywood.

The reviews of the film almost all talk about the wonderful characterisation, and how well written and developed each of the characters are. I have a problem with this opinion in that for me I don't like the coldness of the characters and lack of empathy (possibly excluding Spacey's character) I have for them is not something I like in a movie.

I watch movies as an escape from reality, I want to laugh with the characters, cry with them, cheer them on to victory, etc. LA Confidential is very much an arty movie that was designed to win Oscars - although unfortunately was released the same year as Titanic and Good Will Hunting. The pretentiousness of the movie makes it very difficult to be watched lightly (or even repeatedly) and so despite owning this movie for ten years now, I have only maybe watched in twice.

I guess that all suggests that I don't really like the movie, but I do. I can appreciate arty movies, I just don't necessarily like them as much as others.

The casting in LA Confidential is outstanding, and while Russell Crowe disappointingly plays a rather straight character for once, the relationship between him and Guy Pearce is brilliant. The portrayal of two people who detest each other but gain a grudging respect is exceptionally believable - nowadays that wouldn't be so hard to believe about the two actors but when you consider this was their first big movie in the US it makes it somewhat more enjoyable.

The story itself is fairly typical of a cop movie - there isn't much difference from the Departed except for the lack of any non-cop villains. The 1950s backdrop however is what sets this movie apart from the Departed and to me at least would push it much higher up the list of Top 100.

Definitely worth seeing - just make sure you are giving it time and concentration.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Something never sat right with me about Gary Oldman playing Sirius Black in the new Harry Potter movies. It worked very well for Prisoner of Azkhaban when he was supposed to be this incredibly shady character who may (or may not) be out to kill Harry. When he becomes a slightly fluffier godfather type figure it just doesn't seem right. Gary Oldman is at his best when playing a sick and sadistic character - as Stansfield in Leon he is just that.

If I was choosing a bad guy for a movie I think Gary Oldman would definitely be competing with Andy Garcia for the role. In choosing the other side Jean Reno would probably not lead the band of merry men, but he would most definitely be there; while who can look past Natalie Portman as the leading lady?!

Leon is a stonker of a movie, with a stupendous cast. Oldman's character is completely psychotic against the rather cool exterior of Leon himself - which I guess is the ironic part of the movie considering their respective occupations as policeman and hitman. For me what is a bit disappointing is that there are not more scenes with the two actors together - I guess that is partly to do with the fact that there probably isn't much to say to each other and neither seems the sort to ask first shoot later.

I'm having real trouble trying to classify this movie, it's not a classic, one-of-a-kind movie or a bog-standard thriller with the Hollywood-ending. It is something that is bizarrely a nice heart-warming tale about a man taking in a young dysfunctional girl and teaching her how to kill so that one day she may avenge her brother's killing... like I say, bizarre...

Anyway definitely one to watch and would easily make it into my Top 100 films of all time.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I seem to be falling into the same trap this year as I did last year... all this free time over the summer should be spent making a big dent into the challenge. Instead I am woefully behind, and sadly not in blog posts but in actually watching the movies!!

With a quiet evening tonight I thought it was time to revisit good old Indiana Jones. Sadly it is only the first movie that has made the list, which for me is doubly sad as it is (of the original three) my least favourite of the trilogy. The Last Crusade is definitely the best of the three - largely due to Sean Connery, who for a while I was under the misapprehension that he was much closer in age to Harrison Ford than he actually is.

Anyway Raiders of the Lost Ark is a good movie, although I am a bit put out that is rated only a PG, some of the scenes are pretty gruesome - and thats not just the early 80s special effects. I am very much with Indy that there are one too many snakes around, and for that alone it deserves a much higher rating (and yes I am aware that being 28 there is no rating that would stop me from being able to watch the film!).

There is not much more I can really say about the movie. There definitely should be at least one Indy movie in the Top 100 (although this one wouldn't be my choice) and for a 1980s film the lead actress is surprisingly attractive!

It's a Wonderful Life

It’s sad to say but until yesterday I had never seen this movie; a Christmas staple that had somehow passed me by. I was therefore pretty happy that it had made the list (almost as happy as I was to have a disk from tesco film that wadn’t scratched to buggery!). 

I was slightly sceptical at the start... yes it was made in 1946, but why Capra thought the best way to depict angels talking was through the use of blinking stars (and galaxies) I am not quite sure. To me it was just a touch too corny, although I dread to think what Capra might have used if not for stars - I can just picture the costumes! Thankfully though the film got much better. 

The premise of the film is something that I think all of us ask ourselves in our lowest moments – would anything be different if I wasn’t here? At least I hope it is not just something that I ask myself... And I think the film demonstrates quite well the impact that one single person can have on all of those around him. Yes George Bailey is a little bit of a martyr, but I also know I would be much the same as him - my inability to say no has led me to continue doing a job that I resigned from last month! 

I also quite like the idea that everything that happens in life is tied to everything else - although if I am being slightly pedantic Harry Bailey would have been unlikely to have been goaded into sliding down the hill on a spade (how fun does that look!?!) by his brother if indeed his brother wasn't there! I like the idea of what goes around, comes around - with the simple message if you help others then they will hopefully help you when you need it. 

As always being a sucker for a happy ending, I very much enjoyed the film.