Reviews Thoughts

Post Christmas Wrap Up

Even though it’s the middle of January, here is a quick rundown of the films that I saw over Christmas but didn’t post about until now.

I’ll almost certainly write more about Brokeback Mountain and Match Point (especially as they are certain to feature during the upcoming awards season) and I humbly promise that I’ll write more this year.

The Producers (12A): This is a film based on a play based on a film about a play (confused yet). When Mel Brooks revived his original 1968 film on Broadway in 2001 the result was a sensation with audiences and critics. But despite recruiting Susan Stroman (the director and choreographer of the original production) and Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick (the two leads) the result is entertaining but a tad underwhelming. There are some impressive recreations of numbers like the immortal ‘Springtime for Hitler’ and two good supporting turns from Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman, but the whole enterprise is fairly stagy and reminded me too much of what I liked about the original film – namely no songs every 10 minutes. (Opened on Dec 26th and still showing at cinemas nationwide)

Brokeback Mountain (15): Ang Lee’s adaptation of E Annie Proulx’s 1997 short story about two cowboys who form a lasting connection over a 20 year period is a bold and beautifully made drama. Forget whatever lazy pre-conceptions you have heard about a “gay western” or some of the narrow minded sarcasm that has accompanied its release in the US. This is one of the most thoughtful and impressive films to come out in the last 12 months. Heath Ledger gives a truly revelatory performance as the gruff and restrained Ennis Del Mar, a sheepherder who meets – and eventually falls for – the more extrovert Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) one summer in 1963. Worthy of the hype and award nominations it is currently getting, expect it to feature prominently at the Oscars. (Opened in London on Jan 6th and goes nationwide today)

Match Point (15): Chris (Myers) is a tennis coach in London who befriends one of his upper class students, Tom (Matthew Goode) and ends up falling for his US girlfriend Nola (Scarlett Johansson). Even though he eventually marries Tom’s sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer), he continues his affair with Nola and his life soon starts to become very difficult, driving him to drastic measures. Woody Allen’s latest film left me with mixed feelings. There is no doubt that making a film in London has revitalised him as a director and it contains many good things – notably the quietly scathing depiction of British upper class twits and an interesting central theme. However, all the good work is let down by a shaky central performance from Jonathan Rhys Myers, some odd shifts in tone and ultimately the whole thing comes across as an inferior version of Allen’s last truly great film, Crimes and Misdemeanours. (Opened on Jan 6th and still showing at cinemas nationwide)

News Thoughts

Goodfellas tops Total Film Poll

Choosing a “greatest film of all time” is nearly always a tricky – and perhaps impossible – task but Total Film’s nomination of Goodfellas is interesting. It avoids the perenial favourite (Citizen Kane), the popular choice (Star Wars) and the IMDb favourites (The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption). As often with these lists though, it is the patterns that are interesting and not the “winner”. The inclusion of Magnolia, Sideways and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in the top 100 were entries that caught my eye as recent classics that could have been overlooked but weren’t.


> Total Film on their list
> The IMDb Top 250
> Sight and Sound’s ‘Greatest’ Film Polls
> – Web application that allows you to manage which of the IMDb’s top 250 films you have seen

General Thoughts

Enough of the TV adaptations

The Dukes of Hazzard is just the latest in a long line of lame TV adaptations from the major studios – surely its time for them to look elesewhere for decent ideas.

If you’re a Hollywood exuctive in charge of greenlighting films then the allure of remaking a TV show is fairly simple. There is a built in awareness from the audiences who caught the show first time around (so less marketing costs) and there is the opportunity to build a franchise from the material already laid out in the show’s many episodes. To be fair, some adaptations have been reasonably entertaining. The Fugitive was a solid thriller and Mission: Impossible was pleasingly slick but it is hard to really come up with something truly outstanding that had it’s origins in TV.