Blog Archives

The All-Time Favourites #3: 2001: A Space Odyssey

What Makes a Movie a “Must-See”?

5 Memorable Jump Cuts in Cinema

The Childhood Experience: Re-Examining Films I Watched As A Kid

I didn’t watch too many movies as a child, but I still watched a decent amount. And I’ve noticed, re-watching them as an adult, that my perspectives and viewpoints on them as a child were considerably different to seeing them from an adult viewpoint. So, I’ve taken the time to write down some movies I saw when I was a kid and how my opinions and thoughts of them have changed.

In no particular order:

Caddyshack (1980): My Dad had this fixation on 80s comedies, and he showed me tons of them when I was growing up. One of them was Caddyshack, which at age twelve was my favourite comedy of all time. Rodney Dangerfield made me laugh (and does still) incredibly hardly. Now, examining it twelve years later, it’s still a decent comedy, but it’s… just a decent comedy.

My Rating as a Kid:

My Rating as an Adult:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975): My Dad had the soundtrack to this movie and played it a lot. He showed me the movie at age nine, which some might consider too young, but I was busy listening to the music and occasionally singing it to notice the obvious sexual undertones.

My Rating as a Kid:

My Rating as an Adult:

Forrest Gump (1994): This was a family movie. Everyone saw it, and it still plays every year at Christmas time. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it. As a child I found Hanks’s antics genuinely comic, and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized how silly he was. The film… yeah, it’s good, but it’s not great.

My Rating as a Kid:

My Rating as an Adult:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

My Dad showed this to our family when Stanley Kubrick died. I was 12. It was the first Kubrick film I’d ever seen, and I’ll admit, I was bored during it. I thought for the first ten minutes it was going to be about monkeys that get taken into space on a giant black square, but I soon learnt. I enjoyed the whole thing with HAL, but after that it just got really boring. Now, watching it as an adult, it’s my second favourite movie of all time. What does that tell you?

My Rating as a Kid:

My Rating as an Adult:

See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1987)

I don’t know what it was… I just had a weird fixation with this Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor comedy vehicle. It wasn’t one of their best ones, but as a kid it was one of the funniest things I ever saw. It was probably just Pryor’s hilarious performance as a blind man, but then again, he’s funny in everything he’s in.

My Rating as a Kid:

My Rating as an Adult:

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I watched this at age six and hated it. I despised Dorothy, found her companions idiotic and annoying, and her sense of optimism cruelly naive. Her senselessness and idiocy are matched only by that of the ridiculous witch, who made me hold my hands over my ears every time she spoke. Talk about a stereotype. But as an adult, I chuckle at it and recognize the suitable silliness of it all. It’s a good movie, but it takes… time.

My Rating as a Kid:

My Rating as an Adult:

There you have it. Isn’t it interesting how people’s opinions change as they get older? What films did you enjoy/dislike as a child, only to change your opinion as you got older? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.

5 Memorable Uses of Music in Stanley Kubrick Movies

Stanley Kubrick was a master of many things when making movies — direction, cinematography, set direction — but one of the top choices he consistently made was musical. From Dr. Strangelove right down to Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick made musical choices that were insanely memorable. Here are perhaps the five most memorable:

1: We’ll Meet Again, Dr. Strangelove (1964)

The image of countless bombs exploding as this calming music plays is a simply magic use of contrast. If the world were to end as abruptly and annoyingly as it does in Strangelove, this music playing would make it a damn sight more comfortable – and funnier!

2: The Blue Danube Waltz, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

The beautiful outer space has never looked so stunning as when Kubrick portrayed it alongside the amazing music of Strauss. Classical music made a memorable debut for SK as he mixed memorable imagery with insanely calming tunes.

3: The Thieving Magpie, A Clockwork Orange (1971)

That fantastic scene as Alex and his droogs walk down the riveria, frozen in thought, as this classical piece plays and violence breaks out will be forever ingrained in my mind. A scene which uses violence in a manner which makes Tarantino look like butter.

4: Sarabande, Barry Lyndon (1975)

Kubrick’s three hour biopic based on the novel is one of his best, most ingenious films, a sadly underrated film that glows with excellence every time you watch it. And this haunting theme… I never get tired of it.

5: Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2, Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

It’s a little bit inventive, a little bit haunting and a little bit cheeky. One of my favourite classical waltzes (beaten only by #2 on this list), and one which always brings to mind the shocking opening shot of Kubrick’s final film.

Any music from Kubrick I missed? What music (from any director or movie) do you think was particularly memorable or well-chosen? Leave a comment below.

Five Movies That Put Me to Sleep!

It doesn’t happen often, falling asleep while watching a movie. And I’d like to clarify that not all of these movies put me to sleep because they were boring. Some of them (with particular emphasis on #1) were played during a time when I was very tired and I just used it to finally nod off. But nevertheless, these movies will make you snooze.

1: Blue (1993)

Rest assured, this is not Kieslowski’s fantastic first instalment of his trilogy, rather the final film of the dying Derek Jarman, who was gradually losing his sight and could only see blue. The film is exactly that, an entirely blue screen for about 80 minutes, with sounds and voices in the background. It is a very good movie, decidedly reminiscent of early avant-garde such as Wavelength, and a perfect epilogue for his career, and life.

2: Meet Joe Black (1998)

Perhaps a harbinger of the downfall of Martin Brest’s career, the astoundingly boring “romance” starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins is enough to put even the most dedicated viewer to sleep at at least some point. And it just keeps going, and going, and going… If you want to see good movies about the afterlife, try Beetlejuice or Enter the Void… anything but this crap.

3: The Good Shepherd (2006)

One of the hugest disappointments in my cinemagoing experience was Robert DeNiro’s CIA movie. It had everything it should: a great cast, a director with high expectations and it was a deep-inside-an-American-organization type thing. What went wrong? Something, evidently, as I was deep into a sleep in which I fantasised about a world where Robert DeNiro retired just after Ronin… seriously, though, did we really need anything from him that came after that?

4: Avatar (2009)

I’m not lying or exaggerating or anything… I actually fell asleep during this. Granted, not for a long time, it was more of a nod off, than a fall asleep, but once you get tired of the scenery (which happens surprisingly quick) there’s really nothing much left to look at.

5: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

Now don’t get me wrong here. This is my second favourite film of all time, and visually, it’s my number one favourite, and the first time I saw it, I was mesmerised. The second time, not so much. I was watching it at 1am in the morning, so that could explain it, but once all the beautiful music dies down and we settle into the drama, there’s really not much to stop you from closing those eyes. It only happened once, but sadly, once counts.

That’s my list, now tell me, reader… what movie/s put you to sleep? Leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

5 Memorable Overtures In Cinema

It’s a shame films don’t have them any more. Some say they’re out of date, but I believe they’re part of what made the cinematic experience in the 50s and 60s (particularly in David Lean films) the best, even though I wasn’t alive in that era. I’m talking about overtures, a fragment of film scores which seem to have escaped us. Some of you might remember when you went to the cinemas a while back and they had that really, blaring triumphant music, before the film had even started. That’s what I’m talking about. Here are five memorable overtures — not necessarily the best, but ones that spring to mind — when I think of those great themes.

1: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

In David Lean’s best movie, we are greeted with the fantastic, epic tale of war and peace that spans an amazing timeline. From breathtaking cinematography to amazing acting and everything in between, it’s impossible not to rejoice when we hear or see the first few frames of this magnificent movie.

2: Ben-Hur (1959)

I have a lot of admiration for the incomprehensible effort that went into the making of this movie, and although it’s not one of my favourites, it sure is beautiful to look at, and a success in my book. And the opening… sublime.

3: The Ten Commandments (1956)

When it comes to historical epics, even if you have an admittedly sub-par movie, as I feel this is, at least you’re likely to have a great soundtrack, and this is certainly no exception.

4: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

Though when many people think of the music at the start of this Kubrick classic, they think of it’s fantastic, epic opening to the tune of Also Sprach Zarathustra, that, technically, is not the film’s overture. The real overture comes before it, but in the interest of sound and satisfaction, I’ll include a clip from that memorable opening scene instead.

5: Dancer in the Dark (2001)

Ah… You’ve got to admire Lars von Trier for putting in an awesome overture for his film long after they had died out. Perhaps the most epic of them all, the amazing emotion I feel when listening to this track will always stay with me.

So those are my choices, now… what’s yours?

What overtures do you cherish every time you hear their notes? What do you think of my choices? Leave a comment and lemme know what you think.

Thanks for reading.

5 Memorable Opening Shots in Movies

When I watch movies, I often look for great opening shots. These are the first things we see when the camera fades in from black and the film begins. A good director will often make a good opening shot to hook the viewer into the film, and here are five of my favourites, in no particular order:

Caché (2005)

The film opens with a deceptively simple stationary shot of the house of a wealthy French couple and their son. We soon release, in a perfectly Michael Haneke manner, that this is a videotape of their house recorded by an unknown person/s, who have then mailed the recording to the couple. A fantastic film which opens in an excellent manner.

Somewhere (2010)

Sofia Coppola’s newest film, and undoubtedly her best, is the excellent indie drama Somewhere. It opens with one of my favourite shots of all time, a shot quite similar to the opening of The Brown Bunny, except this shot is stationary and unmoving, a wise decision. If you find this boring and meaningless, then I suggest you watch the whole movie. If, after that, you still find it boring and meaningless… I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Oh, wow. Who could forget that awesome movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey? Obviously, a lot of people, as I was the only one in my family who didn’t doze off while the movie played on when I watched it when I was twelve after Stanley Kubrick died. From this magnificently epic opening shot and onwards, it catapulted my life into a realm of film and cinema. It’s so simplistic, yet so beautiful:

Boogie Nights (1997)

Steadicam, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… Boogie Nights is easily number one. The opening shot actually really made me feel like I was cruising around the disco, checking out all the funky characters. Everything about it is perfect; the timing, the way it moves so rhythmically, and how awesome the seventies looked through the eyes of Paul Thomas Anderson.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video for this, which is sad, because the music is absolutely perfect in this scene, but let me cut it down to the bare basics. This is Stanley Kubrick being cheeky, which is something we very rarely get from the director, and is what makes the opening so unique. No one knew how to get an audience’s attention like Kubrick:

Now it’s time for…

Leave a comment with what you thought of my five choices, and name some of your own.

Thanks for reading.

10 Movies You MUST Watch More Than Once

I am a heavy believer in the power of ‘rewatching’ movies. I do it all the time, and with most of the good movies I’ve ever seen. Sometimes it changes nothing, but more often than not you are looking at the film from a different angle and you can pull things out of it that completely flew over your head the first time. Here are ten examples of films that completely changed for me when I watched them a second (or 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.) time:

The Brown Bunny

I thought I’d start out with this one first because it was really the inspiration for this post. Back in December when I first watched this, I gave it 4/10. Now it’s 7/10, edging on 8. Knowing the final end twist, the atmosphere of the film is completely different and scarily dark the second time round. Read my review here.

Inland Empire

Of all the films I’ve rewatched, I’ve never gained so much from each respective viewing as I have from David Lynch’s Inland Empire. If you can make it through the whole three hours, it’s definitely worth it. One of the greatest acting performances of the decade, as well as sweeping direction and a scary mood that is unbeatable. First Viewing Rating: 7/10. Second Viewing Rating: 10/10

Caché

Just like David Lynch, all of Michael Haneke’s movies deserved to be seen more than once, but none moreso than this Cannes smash-hit, which is one of the creepiest and most shocking movies I’ve ever seen. You will not believe how good Haneke is with a camera. He does it to the point where you’re unsure whether what you’re watching is an actual scene or taped footage. First Time Rating: 9/10. Second Time Rating: 10/10

Eyes Wide Shut

The problem most people face with this film is the same as The Brown Bunny issue. They find it boring, the sex gratuitous and unneccessary, and the plot going nowhere. It’s very prejudicial and insulting to bring it down to those levels. This is a highly intelligent, scarily accurate and shockingly referential film. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time Rating: 10/10

2001: A Space Odyssey

Like Lynch and Haneke, all of Kubrick’s films deserve a good rewatch, but none moreso than the above one and this, a stunningly beautiful, futuristically accurate (well, almost) and unbelievably brilliant motion picture. This is one of the lucky few pictures where everything is perfect, but of course that comes at a price: its complete inaccessibility to the average moviegoer. However, that’s nothing a rewatch can’t fix! First Time Rating: 9/10. Second Time: 10/10

A Serious Man

I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this movie at the theatre when it came out, and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. Then a friend told me I needed to see it again, so I bought the DVD and rewatched it and wow, just like with The Brown Bunny, that second watch has made all the difference. A spectacular film on a level of greatness halfway between insanity and truth. First Time Rating: 6/10. Second Time Rating: 9/10

This was the scene in A Serious Man when I finally realized, whilst watching it a second time, that I had completely underestimated it the first time:

The Godfather: Part II

This is a personal one for me, because when I first saw it, the night after watching its predecessor, I thought it was very good, but nowhere near Part I. I bought the DVD and chucked it on the shelf, knowing one day I’d have to rewatch it. The second time round, something happened. Something clicked, and it’s now one of my favourite motion pictures ever. Have you ever felt the click? It’s a marvellous thing. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time Rating: 10/10

Dr. Strangelove

(Spoiler Alert) The great thing about rewatching this movie is that, when you see it the first time, you’re not as focused on the humour but more on how they’re going to stop their planes from bombing Russia. The second time, you know they’re going to fail so you focus more on them, rather than their situation. It makes the subtle humour much more visible and highly enhances the laugh factor. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time: 10/10

Memento

Like with the above, knowing the end twist beforehand makes it easier to focus on the filming and the style, which is something very well done, indeed. Mind you, this is a film you don’t really have any other choice but to rewatch as it’s so goddamn confusing. First Time Rating: 8/10. Second Time: 9/10

Any of the films of Edgar Wright

It’s hard just to pick one, so I’m going to class his entire filmography as one big movie, just this once. There is so much humour happening so quickly that it’s easy to miss some of the tiny jokes and even some of the great movie tributes that inspired them. SOTD View Count: 5. Hot Fuzz View Count: 6 Scott Pilgrim View Count: 3

So… what films changed for you the second time round? What films do you want to watch a second time? What did you think of my choices? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

Ten Movies That Define Me

The following list is ten movies that ‘define me.’ These are movies that changed the way I looked at cinema, and helped to craft my perspective on film in general. These are not necessarily my Top Ten favourite films, but one or two from that ten will be present.

In no particular order:

There Will Be Blood

From the moment I first saw Daniel Day-Lewis in In The Name of the Father, I knew I was looking at one talented man. Then I saw this movie, and I was blown away. This is one of the few movies that actually caused my jaw to drop at its aching perfectness. A masterpiece.

Citizen Kane

Proclaimed repetitively the best movie of all time, Citizen Kane may not be that, but it is breathtaking in its painfully honest portrayal of greed and heartlessness, the carelessness and ignorance of the human soul. It was the first film ever to touch upon issues such as this in the manner which it did, and coming from a twenty-something man, that was something rare indeed.

A Serious Man

Admittedly not my favourite Coen brothers movie, A Serious Man is nevertheless a vitally important reason why they are so great. Though I’m not a Jew, this movie spoke to my inner emotions and frustrations. I think of myself as a very different man to Larry Gopnik, though his distraught plight and repressed dislike of his own selfish situation is brutally honest and without mercy.

Dancer in the Dark

From its unique opening of various collaborations of beautiful art pieces as a fantastic score plays in the opening, to the depressing ending which I’m not ashamed to say is the ONLY film ending that has ever made me cry, Lars von Trier’s dogme-influenced musical masterpiece is a unique event that manages to capture something more than a camera could convey.

Magnolia

You probably know that this is my favourite film of all time. It’s an achingly hard decision to make, but all things considered, I’ve NEVER felt the way I felt while watching this movie. Every single tiny aspect of the way it was made was life-changing for me, and helped to confirm the suspicion that I was destined to watch and love movies.

Persona

A lot of movies have changed the way I look at films, but Persona changed the way I looked at “cinema.” There is a difference. Bergman reminds us we’re watching a film, and the film itself features some stunning acting and breathtaking cinematography, all thanks to Bergman, Sven Nykvist, Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, as well as everyone else involved. No one had the brains of Bergman, and it’s due to his creative vision that films are made like they are today.

Eyes Wide Shut

An often ignored and hated Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut is actually a feast for the senses, and contains important messages about society, living, marriage, jealousy, hatred and discovery. Whether its Nicole Kidman’s brilliant (no, fantastic) adulterous monologue or Gyorgy Ligeti’s creepy piano theme whose notes play with a striking tune like a slap in the face, this slow-paced masterpiece which seems to go nowhere is actually a film to be re-examined and thought about.

Mulholland Dr.

Lynch’s most famous and probably his best film, this strangely scary and atmospherically surreal 150-minute masterwork is a strange, puzzling riddle with disturbing thematic echoes of the heartless mouth of Hollywood, rejection, sexuality and emotion. It’s a real ride.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Often mistakenly filed away as ‘long’ and ‘boring,’ Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi is in reality a beautiful analysis of human evolution, the creation and existence of life, and possibilities for the daunting spectre of the future, as well as alien existence and extraterrestrial intelligence. Embrace your inner Star Child.

Paths of Glory

If I had to pick a war movie that ‘defined me,’ I would scan through all the possibilites, but they all lead to Paths of Glory. It is a moving, determined and no holds barred awesomely truthful analysis of war and the tumultuous toll it has on its survivors, as well as the people who watch and run it all. Very powerful.

There you go. Ten Movies that Define Me. Some interesting picks there, I’m sure you’re thinking. Please, leave a comment with your thoughts and tell me what your ‘defining’ movies are.

Thanks for reading.