The Half Dozen
I guess this month’s selection of trailers is, in its own way, an apology to you, dear reader. The previous post on this blog is dated 2nd March, written to comment on the Oscars, and they now feel an awfully long time ago. Sadly for my film watching habits but wonderfully for my career, I’ve just changed jobs at work and am currently working 20 – 30 hours a week more than usual while I get my new team and position up and running. You’ll have to forgive me if things are a little sparse round here while that happens, but when it gets to the point where I’m hosting Bums On Seats not only because I enjoy it, but because without it I have no excuse to watch the latest films and then I might just not see any at the moment, then you can probably appreciate how busy I am.
So this month’s trailer breakdown arrives with less than an hour left of March. The clocks have gone forward, Spring is resolutely in the air, and this month’s films have been like Douglas Adams’ infamous deadlines, making that lovely whooshing sound as they fly by without me seeing most of them. Hopefully normal service around here will be resumed soon, but in the meantime here’s this month’s half a dozen most interesting looking previews and how close I’ve managed to get to seeing the films that go with them.
Wake In Fright
How close did I get to seeing it? It was showing at my local Picturehouse, but sadly not at a time I could actually make it in to see it. However, I did discover on Googling the trailer that there are at least two copies of the full film available on YouTube. Maybe one for some bedtime viewing.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
How close did I get to seeing it? Actually managed to see it. Actually loved it. Actually just about to buy Alexandre Desplat’s superb score (all over the trailer) from iTunes. Actually in love with Wes Anderson. #HeteroManCrush
Under The Skin
How close did I get to seeing it? Not yet, but it’s still showing at my local Arts for the next few days, so I’ve not given up hope. Work, don’t make me give up hope.
The Zero Theorem
How close did I get to seeing it? It was showing at three Cineworlds which I’ve been to, but all are more than 50 miles from my house and I just couldn’t find a window for a round trip that long. Shame.
28 Feet From Stardom
How close did I get to seeing it? The film which beat my favourite of 2013 to the Best Picture Oscar is currently showing in Norwich, but no nearer to me. My wife’s been to Norwich twice in the last three days, but on neither occasion was I free to catch a lift. There will be one showing at my local Picturehouse in about a month or so. Wish me luck.
How close did I get to seeing it? Only on release this week, I’ve seen the last three films from Asghar Farhadi in the cinema – albeit in reverse order thanks to the Cambridge Film Festival – and very much looking forward to the follow up to Fireworks Wednesday, About Elly and A Separation. Hopefully I can tick off this one.
Is it February already? Wow, this year seems to be disappearing faster than ever. Or maybe that’s just my age. It barely feels yesterday that I started my new film list for the year and put to bed the old one, and already I’ve racked up a dozen trips to the cinema. February is traditionally a month where the last few awards contenders creep out, mixed with the big studio pics that really can’t find an audience anywhere else, but this year feels different: the Oscars have been pushed to March by the Winter Olympics, denying us the traditional catharsis of sparkly dresses and low angle shots of Jack Nicholson looking uncomfortable in a dinner jacket for anther few weeks, and The LEGO Movie has opened huge in the US over the weekend with the second biggest February opening ever.
I’m actually relieved it’ll be different this year: I keep detailed records of what I’ve seen, and last February was the worst month since the blog began. Four of the twelve films I saw (A Good Day To Die Hard, Bullet To The Head, I Give It A Year and This Is 40) ended up in my bottom ten of the year and Hitchcock was a close run thing. So surely this year can’t be anything but an improvement? Anyway, to ease the pain of a lack of gold shiny bald men being dolled out this month, I present my own annual entirely made up awards for trailers.
Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress Called Jennifer Who Isn’t Also Called Lawrence
Best Actress Who Is 41 And Still Gives Me Hope That You Can Grow Old Gracefully That’s Also Called Jennifer
The Christian Bale Memorial Award In The Field Of Extreme Weight Loss
The “Oh Yeah, Whatever Happened To Him” Award, awarded to Jared Leto
Best Arty Trailer To Make Me Look Like I’m Vaguely Intelligent And Hopefully Not Pretentious
Best Picture Most Likely To Feature A Cameo By Simon Pegg, Probably
Best Effeminate Comedy Character I Probably Shouldn’t Laugh At – Kayvan Novak
The John Barrowman Award For Seemingly Feeling Like He’s In Everything – Chris O’Dowd
Best Use Of A Moustache To Instantly Create A Character – Joaquim Phoenix
Best Female Ensemble Where One Of Them Doesn’t Even Appear On Screen
Best Use Of A Giant Plane That Makes You Wonder If It’s Real Or Visual Effects
Only Lovers Left Alive
Best Use Of Tom Hiddleston To Get All The Marvel Fanboys And Girls To Watch Something Different
Best Use Of A Red Gothic Typeface For A Director’s Name
Most Unlikely Film Being Shown In Cinemas For Valentine’s Day (check your local listings)
The Executive Decision Award For The Most Generic But Probably Still Exciting Plane-Based Thriller
The Sherlock Award For Best Use Of On-Screen Text Messaging
Best Captain Of A Plane Who Makes You Double Take Because He Looks Eerily Like Jon Stewart Off Of The Daily Show
Best Film Most Likely To Feature An Epic And Quotable Speech From Liam Neeson Because Otherwise What’s The Point In Having Him In An Action Movie, He Is 61 After All
On a day somewhat overshadowed by the tragic and untimely death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, once again two American teams played off for the biggest title in American football. Nothing since I slagged off American football last year, or the year before, or the year before that, has changed my opinion on the game: it’s supposed to be sixty minutes of men in excessive padding running at each other and gradually advancing a prolate spheroid made of pigskin one direction or the other over a distance of 110 yards that last night took three hours and twenty two minutes from kick-off to final whistle. More challenging to your sitting muscles than even Blue Is The Warmest Color or The Wolf Of Wall Street, American football is practically the Gone With The Wind of sporting endurance.
What the two hours and twenty-two minutes of not-football do provide is a succession of overpriced and overhyped adverts, including a batch of trailers. There’s a drive in the US to restrict movie trailers to no more than two minutes (typically they run to around two and a half for a full trailer at present), but thanks to the price of advertising they clock in at no more than a minute or so for the Super Bowl, and consequently they have to be rammed to the gills with the most important moments. So let’s see what we’ve learned from this year’s crop.
Transformers: Age Of Extinction
What we learned:
– it’s got giant fighty robots in it again, including my childhood favourite Optimus Prime. I have said previously I’d followed him to Dark Of The Moon and he was now on his own, but we’ll see if my resolve weakens between now and the summer.
– the robots can now turn their heads into giant guns. Hoo-ya!
– You can replace Shia LeBoeuf and Rosie Huntingthingy-Whatsit with Mark Wahlberg and New Generic Blonde, and nobody will really care.
– it’s got robots that look vaguely like dinosaurs, which will be much cooler than robots that look exactly like cars.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
– Apparently the movie will be dialogue free, 60% of it will be in slow motion while another 20% will consist of people turning round while the camera pans in the opposite direction.
– There will be more than one implausible giant flying aircraft carrier at the start of this movie, but there may not be by the end.
– Whoever the Winter Soldier is – oh wait, it’s quite clearly Bucky, are they trying to make this a mystery or not? – he can punch so hard that it makes Steve Rogers wince through his invincible shield.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
– Another silent movie. Since we clearly see people trying to talk, presumably this one will have intertitles.
– Random slo-mo shots of not-electricity are apparently more interesting than much of the film.
– This doesn’t look amazing.
Muppets Most Wanted
– Eighties Robot is back. Yay!
– Five seconds of Ricky Gervais is already testing my endurance.
– They won’t be skimping on the big musical numbers. I look forward to another three months of cheerful earworms.
– It’s basically Gladiator crossed with Dante’s Peak, with less Pierce Brosnan.
– Poor Kit Harrington is going to be typecast in either swords and sandals epics or fantasy (or both) for much of his career.
– It makes no mention of the fact it’s a Paul W.S. Anderson film, just in case you bottle it before the film comes out.
– It’s got George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett in, but you need to be told who these people are as they may not be that famous.
– You don’t need to be told who Jean Dujardin is because he’s not that famous. (See also The Wolf Of Wall Street where he’s in it at least as much as named actor Matthew McConaughey.)
– You also need to be told by Matt Damon what the title of the movie is. At least he gets straight to it.
Need For Speed
– It really wants to be a bit like Drive. I will not be that surprised if Aaron Paul turns out to have a giant tarantula on the back of that jacket.
– It’s not a silent movie! There’s at least one line of dialogue.
– Car. Car. Car. Car. Car. Car. Car. Car. Car. Punch. Car. Car. Dialogue. Wrap. Next!
– Although it’s the untold story – apparently all of the bits that the writer of Genesis didn’t think were important enough – it still has a boat and a flood, so it’s at least in the right area.
– Most of the animals are turning up are more worried about the flood than eating each other, so this is unlikely to get into any of the carnivore / herbivore segregation issues that probably beset the real Noah.
– Apparently Noah has a fiery stick and it’s going to rain fire, so the Bible probably left all of the good bits out.
– After the Matthew McConnaissance, this is the also the year of the Kevin Costback. Or something.
– The guys who do gravelly voices for trailers have had a really lean year.
– Releasing an American football movie in April might not be the best idea ever.
Jaguar British Villains commercial
Somebody get these guys in a movie together.
If there’s one thing you can say about 2014, it’s that it follows 2013 in chronological order. If you can say two things, it’s that we’re going to get the normal mix of bloated blockbusters and art house gems. 2014 will see another Tom Cruise action movie, two more Marvel films, another edgy David Fincher literary adaptation, Spike Jonze’s Oscar-botherer with Joaquim Phoenix, Lars Von Trier’s five hour sex epic, Christopher Nolan’s latest epic, the most Wes Anderson-y Wes Anderson film ever, another slice of Iranian life from Asghar Farhadi and big screen outings for Postman Pat, Paddington and Pudsey the dog, among a host of others.
If sequels are your thing, then feel free to choose from the Muppets, Rio, The Amazing Spider-Man, 21 Jump Street, The Purge, How To Train Your Dragon, Transformers, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Inbetweeners, The Expendables, Sin City, Paranormal Activity, Nativity, Horrible Bosses, Dumb And Dumber and Night At The Museum. We’ll get the penultimate Hunger Games and the final Hobbit (probably). There’ll be cinematic interpretations of Lego, the Need For Speed franchise, another Godzilla, Disney spin-off Maleficent, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, Hercules and The Equaliser. You can get two X-Men casts for the price of one, and if none of that appeals, then maybe you deserve Untitled Vince Vaughn Movie, due for release in October.
But that’s all to come. Before that we have to navigate January, and the host of Uncle Sam’s leftover awards contenders that make compiling end of year lists so confusing. Here’s my most prominent trailers for the first month of 2013: The Sequel.
To start with, a trailer that was a phenomenon. Showing before almost every film I’ve seen in the last two months, seemingly crossing almost every demographic line, there’s one inevitable occurrence every time this has screened: almost every one in the cinema chuckles briefly when Morgan Freeman jumps out of the window. Comedy gold.
12 Years A Slave
I saw this on Thursday, and my review will follow in due course. All I’ll say for now is that I was staying in a hotel for work, and I had to sit and have a pint in the hotel bar when I got back in an effort to stop my hand shaking. Steve McQueen has now made three films of outstanding quality that blur the line between art and film, without compromising each other, and for my money there’s no one making films today that have quite the emotional power of McQueen. (Although I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Robert Redford when I heard the name of his film dropped.)
The first documentary pick of the year, and it’s one brought to you by magicians Penn and Teller. I never thought I’d ever see Martin Mull and David Hockney in the same trailer, but there you go.
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Picked this film out in my Half Dozen of the year in December as the best trailer for a 2014 film; this is the more recent trailer. If trailers were directly proportional to the length of their films, this should have been about ten minutes. The first Scorcese I ever encountered was Goodfellas, which I fell in love with by reading the screenplay before I even saw the film; I can only hope the favourable comparisons are justified.
Inside Llewyn Davis
If I was making a top ten of working directors, Steve McQueen and Martin Scorsese would likely be in there. The Coen brothers would certainly be in there, and they’re on a hot streak at the moment. But if you had to pick seven films that represented the Coens, would you have picked the seven listed out in the trailer?
If your film hasn’t appeared in the awards nominations, putting a caption up in your trailer saying “This January” is tantamount to saying “Come and see this if you can be bothered” or “Welcome to the cinematic dumping ground”. Maybe, in the fullness of time, the quality of high budget action movies will have risen to the point where they can be shown twelve months of the year. On this evidence, it will be at least 2015.
Time to start my fourth annual review of the year, and where better place to start than where most cinema screenings also begin: the trailers. (Yes, technically most cinema screenings start with the adverts, but even I’m not desperate enough to pick out my favourite bits of non-cinematic commercial advertising.) At the start of the year I wrote a post called the Corridor Of Uncertainty, looking fondly at the various ephemera that make up your pre-film entertainment as well as the adverts and trailers and I then tracked that with each review I wrote for three months. The pattern that emerged was that the multiplexes were typically running at around 25 – 30 minutes, where smaller cinemas were coming in at a more leg and bottom-friendly fifteen minutes. It would be nice if what you’re expected to sit through before the film worked on its own terms, but that seems less and less the case.
What has become apparent over the course of the year is that, to quote an old cliché, they don’t make ’em like they used to. Take for example this trailer for The Innocents which is currently in cinemas on re-release.
While there’s certainly an efficiency to modern promos, with their two and a half minute running time, their teaser trailers, their trailer teasers and their ruthless marketing campaigns designed to take no prisoners, I can’t help but feel that something of the character of trailers of years gone by has been lost forever. Finding trailers that I feel make the grade this year feels as if it’s becoming increasingly difficult, but here are what are I consider to be the year’s dozen best films that have been brutally edited down into pocket form for promotional purposes. As always, because this is a cinema blog, some of these trailers may have been on t’internet last year, but you would have been seeing them in cinemas this year.
Best Trailer For A Not Very Good Movie: I Give It A Year
There’s plenty of laughs in this trailer, and often that’s a warning shot to anyone then moving onto the full film that the trailer might contain all of the film’s laughs. What was particularly impressive in this case is that the trailer actually contained more laughs than the film, many of these moments proving less funny in context than they were in isolation and the sour, narcissistic and generally unpleasant tone that permeated the film itself ultimately made it about as enjoyable as hearing a doctor give you a detailed report on the contents of your lower bowel.
Best Trailer Featuring Almost The Last Shot Of The Movie: You’re Next
If you see as many films as I do, then chances are that you’ll end up seeing some of the same trailers over and over again. I still have nightmares about seeing the trailer for Brendan Fraser film Inkheart what must have been over twenty times in the cinema as the release date kept getting pushed back (never did see the film) and consequently I could have played it out word for word. I caught this trailer for You’re Next several times over the summer, and a few moments stuck in my head to the point I was waiting for them to appear in the finished product. I’ll never know if this reduced my overall enjoyment of the film, but there were enough other moments that this was an unnecessary move on the trailer maker’s part.
Best Trailer Earworm: Stoker
Really enjoyed Stoker, so don’t be surprised when you see it in the Top 40 of the year later this week. I also remember coming out of the cinema with the track from this trailer, Dirge’s “Death In Vegas”, still playing in my head; all the more impressive when you consider that it doesn’t actually feature in the finished film. Not to knock Clint Mansell’s score for Stoker, as it’s one of the best of the year, but Dirge had embedded itself so deeply in my brain that when I started putting this list together, it instantly started playing in my head again on a loop.
Best Trailer Earworm Honourable Mention: Frances Ha
If I was a director, then I’d love to be able to pay such obvious homage to the works of others and be lauded for it, other than being accused of simply ripping off the original. I sat through all of the end credits of Frances Ha simply to listen to David Bowie’s classic Modern Love, but didn’t realise until afterwards that the scene is a direct reference to this scene from Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang.
Excuse me, back in a moment, just off to run jauntily down the street. It’s infectious.
Best WTF Trailer: Only God Forgives
So Drive. You really liked Drive, didn’t you? Yes, I did too, putting it number two in my Top 40 of 2011. So Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film has got Ryan Gosling in again. So yes, you’d expect it to be a lot like Drive again, wouldn’t you? So… ah. Ah right. (Warning: contains violence, karaoke and general weirdness.)
Best Trailer That Actually Contains The Post-Credits Sting: The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology
Having watched this on the last day of the Cambridge Film Festival this year, director Sophie Fiennes was present for a Q & A. On these occasions, often the credits are allowed to play out in the background silently so we can get straight to the discussion; Sophie asked to have the sound back up so we could watch the post-credits sting in all its glory, only to then discover that the whole thing is on the end of this trailer anyway. Still, the trailer does give a flavour of the insight available into Slavoj Zizek’s unique thinking.
Best Trailer That Accurately Represents A Film That No-One Saw: The Kings Of Summer
So, there have been 430 films so far to receive a cinema release in this country, of which I can lay claim to having seen just under a third. Two of them, The Way, Way Back and The Kings Of Summer, felt thematically similar and that’s the only reason I can think of that The Kings Of Summer struggled to find distribution. I caught it at the Prince Charles Cinema in London after a work trip to the capital, and it seemed to be one of the few cinemas showing it. While The Way, Way Back played across the country and took in just under $2.5 million at the UK box office, sandwiched on the list between Sammy’s Adventures 2 and Hitchcock, The Kings Of Summer didn’t fare quite so well.
Yes, that’s $0.024 million dollars. If you’ve seen more than one film on that list, well done you.
Best Editing: Don Jon
Yet another case of the promise of the trailer not being borne out in the film itself, but you feel it’s likely Joseph Gordon-Levitt was probably more hands-on in the process of compiling this trailer than many directors would be. Still don’t get the Scarlett Johansson thing, sorry.
Best Trailer For A Film Not Out Until Next Year: The Wolf Of Wall Street
Stiff competition in this category this year, with many of the later releases including Godzilla having impressive promos, and some of the earlier releases of the season such as American Hustle dazzling with their starry casts. I can also cheer myself up whenever slightly down by watching the Grand Budapest Hotel trailer again. (Card-carrying Wes Anderson fanboy, I guess.) But actually the most interesting promo for a film not due until 2014 is this, the first trailer for Martin Scorcese’s latest; Marty having fun is a none-more-appealing prospect.
Best Trailer Featuring A Scene Not In The Actual Film: Frozen
It’s like a little short film all its own. Sit back and enjoy. (The actual short film that precedes Frozen in cinemas, Get A Horse with Mickey Mouse, is also great, even if it is to actual Mickey Mouse cartoons what The Artist was to silent cinema.)
Best Trailer Of 2013: Gravity
When I saw the film, I spent most of it in terror of dodging debris and of my fear of heights trying to tell me that I was actually 372 miles above the earth and could fall at any moment. However, the trailer manages to capture that feeling of fear in under two minutes. For being able to send me whimpering from the cinema, wanting to scream “Grab the DAMN SPACESHIP!” at Sandra Bullock at the end of the trailer, and for expertly capturing the overall mood of the film without giving too much away, Gravity’s first trailer is my winner for 2013.
It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid. Well, not strictly true as I’m rolling out the dodgy poetry once more. Yes, once again we approach the season of goodwill, and I hope you’ll extend me all of yours. Following the success of last year’s Half Dozen December picks with their own Christmas songs and carols, I once again present my top six trailers of the month, each with its own song or carol (or in the case of Kill Your Darlings, piece of classical music which you’ll find it difficult to fit the words to unless you know it really well – sorry). I’ve also included a link to the original so you can sing along at home with my new words. Merry Christmas, everyone. Which leads me nicely to…
(to the tune of Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone)Snow is falling, all around us, Which is strange as it’s July Tis’ the season for barbecues and swimsuits, But it’s snowing (don’t ask why). Time for Disney and princesses, Cash tills ringing all night long Time for parents to buy their girls more dresses, Merry Christmas, Disney Store.
Kill Your Darlings
(To the tune of For Unto Us A Child Is Born from Handel’s Messiah)For unto us a child is born, unto us a wizard’s given (repeat) And the world will never see him as anything but Harry Potter (repeat) And his fame shall be based on Rowling books, Potter films, it’s such a shame He’s really a great actor, devoid of cheese.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
(To the tune of Little Donkey)Little hobbit, little hobbit on another road Little hobbit, always walking – must it all be showed? Little hobbit, bunch of dwarves and wizard with a stick, Why don’t you just use the eagles, why are you so thick? Ring out of sight tonight, hide it again, hide it from men, Spiders and dragons fright those little men, walking again, Little hobbit, little hobbit, we still cannot see Why your short book needed to be films so many – three?!
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
(To the tune of Hark the herald angels sing)Hark, the herald newsmen sing Afternoon Delight’s their thing Peace on earth for them’s no good Fighting puts them in the mood Joyfull all ye nations are Paramount’s seen sense at last We thought they might miss a trick But now we’ve got more of Brick, Champ and Brian, it’s great to see, And the legend, Burgundy.
The Harry Hill Movie
(To the tune of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas)I don’t want a lot for Christmas There is just one thing I need I don’t care about the Oscars (At least until January) I just want to go and see Some funny films with Mrs E Make my wish come true All I want for Christmas is you I don’t want a lot for Christmas (Although Blu-rays would be nice; Think my mum is buying Star Wars Hope she gets a decent price.) I don’t need a costume drama Or a lengthy biopic I just need the guy from TV Burp, plus hamster being sick I just want to go and see Some cheesy films with Mrs E Think this one will do All I want for Christmas is you, you, Harry
All Is Lost
(To the tune of O Holy Night)O holy boat, your star is brightly shining Although he hasn’t got much to say O holy boat, Bob Redford’s not for whining Even when he’s had such a bad day Patching up the hole as best he can Such a hero, not just an old man Fall on your knees, and hear the rush of water, O night in brine, ’cause the trailer gives away The boat, the holy boat, has had its day.
I remember when all this were fields, as far as the eye could see. No, wait, I’m not sure this was ever fields, exactly, but I can remember when it was all film reviews made of graphs and silly poems and obsessing about Christopher Nolan and being freaked out by Catherine Zeta Jones’ face. Somewhere along the line I turned from a little read reviewer of films and loose advocate of the cinema experience into a zealous campaigner for the very fabric of cinema in the face of stubborn intransigence. Oh, and I do very occasionally still write film reviews.
I have no regrets about the ongoing battle with the Competition Commission, and if anything I can see this changing my outlook and my blog forever. I now believe there is a national debate required about cinema distribution and the role of organisations such as the BFI to help ensure cinema can be seen in the right venues by those who hold it dear. In the mean time, I appreciate this might get a bit samey for anyone not living in Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge or Aberdeen reading this blog (and if you are by some freak occurrence living in Aberdeen and your name isn’t Dallas, please do say “Hi!” in the comments section), so this is an effort to get back to just talking about films for a bit. Normal service will never be resumed, ever, because there is no such thing as normal round here, and in a way I hope that’s why people will come back when all of the Competition Commission nonsense is in the past.
So I have seen this one, and a review is imminent, but if you’ve not seen this in a cinema yet, indeed the biggest cinema you can find, then stop reading right now, take a photo of this page on your snazzy camera phone to prove for posterity that you did indeed stop reading right now, and head to your local cinema. If there was an Oscar for the Best Justification For The Existence Of Large Screens, Indoor Sunglasses And Obscenely Loud Surround Sound Systems then this would be as nailed on as Anne Hathaway bawling her lungs out in a charity shop reject dress.
Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt a big enough star to justify putting his name in large font in the credits these days? One of those films you just know has a press pack somewhere with a cast listing of Golden Globe® nominee Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises), Golden Globe® nominee Scarlett Johansson (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble), Academy Award® nominee Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Jurassic Park: The Lost World), Emmy nominee Glenne Headly (Mr. Holland’s Opus) and Golden Globe® nominee Tony Danza (Cannonball Run II). Sigh.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Because I have the maturity and sophistication of a six year old who’s likely to spend the rest of his school career being held back a year for picking his nose, any time anyone mentions the word “lesbians” this starts playing in my head:
I even have the strange feeling that isn’t the first time that clip’s appeared on this blog. However, lesbians aren’t the most prominent feature of Blue Is The Warmest Colour. Nor are the repeated stories in the press of the travails and tortures that director Abdellatif Kechiche put his cast, or indeed my spell checker, through. No, the feature of this particular film most likely to draw your attention is its running time: 180 minutes. Where I come from, we call that three hours. (Actually, I call that THREE HOURS?!?!?!) Consider this low quality screengrab of the films over two and a half hours I’ve seen in a cinema since The Movie Evangelist bust forth into mewling infancy in April 2010.
The top two had intermissions, so this looks like it could be the longest film I’ve seen in a cinema in one go, at least in The Movie Evangelist’s lifetime. Hopefully surgical stockings will be handed out at the door instead of 3D glasses to prevent DVTs.
This month’s semi-obligatory dry indie comedy. Move along.
I was in a radio debate a couple of weeks ago where the subject of subtitled films came up, as an example of how to tell the difference between a Cineworld-type cinema and a Picturehouse-type one. Proving that there’s an exception to every rule, it seems this Korean film is heading only to Cineworlds, possibly because it looks like Outbreak II: Epidemic Boogaloo.
Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor
You want to know what love is? Love is: having a complete and total obsession about cinema, but not going to a cinema to watch the most important ever episode of your favourite British TV show in 3D because your wife normally watches it with you and she won’t be in from work until it’s finished, then trying desperately to stay off the internet to avoid the torrent of massive spoilers that will now be raining down across the internet like the tears of a million angry toddlers, and hoping that she won’t be too tired to watch it when she gets in from work so you’ll have to barricade yourself in the house to wait until Sunday to watch it. That’s what love is. (Might watch a bit on the iPlayer before she gets in.)
October’s always an interesting month for me, not least because I normally enter it with a little bit of cinema fatigue. Not being tired of the films themselves, you understand – that ain’t ever gonna happen, sister – but because each September I spend eleven days effectively living in a cinema for the Cambridge FIlm Festival. This year I saw thirty four films, two programmes of shorts, wrote seven reviews for another website (Take One), did four Q & A hostings and two interviews for radio show Bums On Seats as well as appearing on both Bums specials during the festival, which finished last Sunday. And I’m still trying to write up my own adventure at the festival. Let’s just say I’ve slept very well this week.
But that always leaves me with a bit of a quandary: a lot of the films I see at the festival are advance screenings of films which then go on general release subsequently. However, there’s still so much new stuff on release as well that I can also happily make a selection of films as well. So this month I present the best of both worlds: you can either take my views on six films I have seen, where I can offer you an opinion on the film itself, or you can take the trailer only option, where I’m as in the dark as you and we’re judging on just the trailer. Take your pick.
Films I’ve already seen at the Cambridge Film Festival
Camp 14: Total Control Zone
The harrowing story of an escapee from the North Korean regime, my memory of this is a bit hazy – mainly because it was shown at the 2012 Festival – but I’m sure the version I saw was subtitled and not dubbed with someone attempting to talk so slowly it sounds like they’re reciting Coldplay lyrics. Hopefully if it is the dubbed version in distribution it won’t be too much of a distraction, as this was an effective combination of haunting animation and one man’s attempts to get his life back. The Actual Score: 8/10
The Crash Reel
Along with A Story Of Children And Film, the best documentary I saw at this year’s festival. I was a fan of Lucy Walker’s previous work, but was completely unprepared for the power of the story of snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his and his family’s attempts to come to terms with a traumatic brain injury. It’s a rare documentary that can actually leave you with a knot in the pit of your stomach, but The Crash Reel paints a desperate picture of young sports stars putting themselves in real danger for our entertainment. The Actual Score: 9/10
The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology
The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology is a follow up to The Pervert’s Guide To Cinema. When I went to see it at the Cambridge Film Festival with a Q & A, the audience was asked how many had seen the previous film, and there were almost no hands. I’d be interested to see how many people will return to it off the back of this; there’s some interesting ideas at work and the ties between the film clips and the theorising are solid, but it takes a strong constitution to be lectured at for two hours and ten minutes without a break. You may be longing for the days of an intermission. The Actual Score: 7/10
Sunshine On Leith
This was the first of two surprise films at this year’s festival, and generated reactions from excited to “Worst. Film. Ever.” on Twitter following the screening. There’s three things for me: if you’re opposed to The Proclaimers on general principle, this isn’t going to do much to change your mind; dramatically it’s a wash-out as LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENS for the first 50 minutes; and a week later, I’m still singing the songs. But I once came within a whisker of doing “500 Miles” at karaoke once, so I’m not the best judge. The Actual Score: 6/10
Playing as part of the FrightFest strand at the Festival, Machete Kills is the movie equivalent of one of those pre-teen American beauty pageant contestants – it’s bright, flashy, oddly fascinating and every time you look away it will attempt something even more ludicrous in an attempt to get your attention. It also features an actual grown up beauty pageant contestant as a main character, and Charlie Sheen as the U.S. President. And Lady Gaga. In two different roles. You get the idea. The Actual Score: 6/10
The first of the musical documentary strand I saw at this year’s festival. In fact, of the thirty-four films I saw this year, thirteen were documentaries. I can now talk intelligently about everything from 1920’s French cinema history to the threat to albinos in Tanzania, and that all came from one Wednesday afternoon. This one was about the influence of a backwater American town on a significant proportion of American music. Hashtag educational. The Actual Score: 7/10
Films I haven’t seen yet
Confession time: started writing this earlier. Seen the film since. Theme comprehensively out of the window. Anyway, McAvoy turns in a career best performance, but Mrs Evangelist suggested the trailer’s a bit misleading in that this goes very dark towards the end. Actually, it goes a bit dark at the start and then gets almost pitch black, but the 18 rating should give you a hefty clue. The
Predicted Actual Score: 8/10
How I Live Now
I’m fascinated by Saoirse Ronan, mainly for the fact that she manages to nail a variety of accents and in real life has an Irish accent so thick you could stand a spoon up in it. In twenty years or so I’m expecting the annual Best Actress competitions to be a battle between her, Chloe Moretz, various Breslins and probably Meryl Streep. Streep will probably still win. Legend. The Predicted Score: 7/10
Some of my favourite directors have managed to put together fantastic runs of quality, and Paul Greengrass’s Bourne sandwich, with a United 93 filling, would be the equal of most of them. It’s a shame it all came to an end with the crushingly disappointing Green Zone. If ever I was hoping for a return to form, then this would be it, so let’s hope Tom Hanks is also on similar form. The Predicted Score: 8/10
It’s Harrison Ford. In space. It’s not Star Wars, but hey, what is? Oh, that’s right, Star Wars. Slightly concerned that Harrison Ford’s now too old and curmudgeonly to be Han Solo, but I will be cheerfully proven wrong in about two years. The Predicted Score: 6/10
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Long time readers will know that I’m a fan of the Jackass series. Less long time readers might be heading for the exit now, but I stand by the fact that the three Jackass movies have made me laugh more than just about anything else I’ve seen in the cinema in their respective years. How the same concept will work with a more narrative structure remains to be seen, but the trailer still made me chuckle heartily. The real key is the level of laughs that have been held back from the promo. The Predicted Score: 7/10
Thor: The Dark World
I always look forward to a trip to the cinema with Mrs Evangelist, and if nothing else the Marvel movies have given me a cast iron guarantee of fun for all the family. Confirmation on watching this trailer before Filth today that Mrs E will be up for the latest dose of Disney-branded myth making. Marvelous. (Sorry.) I’m preparing for some form of geekgasm, based on the director of Game Of Thrones directing the Ninth Doctor, very little of which is alluded to in this promo. The Predicted Score: 8/10
Okay then, So this time last month, I was posting up a list of my six trailers for August, and was merely a humble blogger. One month later and I appear to be well on the way to a full-blown activist and campaigner. In case you missed it (and if you did – WHERE WERE YOU?!), the Competition Commission announced plans to compel CIneworld group to sell either Cineworlds or Picturehouses near to where I live, I wrote a 5,000 word rant spread over two days based on the fallacy of the decision as I perceived it, and then went on to start a petition that’s had 12,000 signatures in a couple of weeks (thanks to the efforts of all those valiantly spreading the word on its behalf). You could say it’s been an interesting month.
But I believe in fighting for what’s important in life, and to me cinema has become one of my great loves over the past few years. Even with the cinemas close to me, it’s difficult to find all of the films on offer; a rifle through any of the main film publications of our time will list reviews of films on release anywhere in the country, but actually tracking down showings of these can sometimes prove troublesome. I’ve got twenty-five multiplex screens and five art house screens within half an hour’s drive, and they show a wide variety of films, but even they can’t manage to get everything when the multiplexes are replicating their content so heavily.
So this month I’ve picked out six films that anyone picking up a copy of Empire or Total Film might read the review of and think of popping to their local cinemaplex to catch, but in my case each would require a one way trip of the length outlined below just to catch the film. (I have made trips of this length before on occasion, but with the Cambridge Film Festival just a week away I’m going to be sticking a little closer to home for now.)
No One Lives
Nearest showing: Leicester Square
Travel time: 1 hour 29 minutes
Any Day Now
Nearest showing: Dalston
Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Nearest showing: Enfield
Travel time: 1 hour 12 minutes
Nearest showing: Ipswich
Travel time: 55 minutes
In A World…
Nearest showing: Stevenage
Travel time: 55 minutes
Nearest showing: Ipswich
Travel time: 55 minutes
The passing of another month, and it’s been a hot July in the UK, which is never good news for cinema attendance. I’m gingerish, so will do a definitive boiled lobster impersonation if left in the sun for more than around 20 minutes, but part of my cinema philosophy involves seeing films in the company of others, so I’m hoping for both self-interest and selfish reasons that the heatwave doesn’t maintain too much longer.
Especially because the list of films due out in August is so promising, nestling as it does between the back end of summer blockbuster season and the start of the festival season in September. I do take my time over this list every month, perusing the upcoming lists of films at the Internet Movie Database, Rotten Tomatoes and Launching FIlms among others to try to find the cream of what’s coming up. So in an average month for preparing this post I typically watch all or part of around 30 trailers to attempt to whittle this down to the six best.
That’s been as tricky as ever this month, so to shake up the format a little I’ve first narrowed it down to a dozen, and then paired them off in some tenuous themes for a head-to-head battle to the death. I’ve included the trailers for both, so feel free to tell me if I’ve got any of these face-offs wrong. (It also means I have an excuse to skip the trailer for Only God Forgives, as (a) there’s nothing else like it coming out, and (b) it was in last month’s rest of the year preview.)
LET BATTLE COMMENCE! (Sorry, got a bit carried away there.)
The Well Regarded Horror Movie Face-Off: The Conjuring vs. You’re Next
Since the demise of the late, much lamented Empire magazine event in August, variously called Movie-Con or Big Screen, I have instead spent my pennies on a day at Film 4 FrightFest. Last year threw up a right mix, from the sublimely twisted (Maniac) to the unintentionally ridiculous (Tulpa), and for those attending the opening night, they’ll be treated to You’re Next as their final film. I’ve got R.I.P.D to “look forward to” in my six film on the Saturday, so if you’re around at the Empire Leicester Square on the 24th, do say hi. (Warn me on Twitter first so I know you’re coming.) But of the mainstream horror releases, these two look to be the pick of the crop this month. I’ve always been a fan of harder shocks and gore (hence buying a ticket for FrightFest), so only one winner in this category.
WINNER: You’re Next
The Funny / Serious Steve Coogan Face-Off: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa vs. What Maisie Knew
Steve Coogan once did a live show called “Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful Characters”, and that might sum up the permanently typecasting effect that being Norfolk’s premier fake celebrity has had on Steve Coogan’s career. But in a month where a man who’s given us the likes of “He must have a foot like a traction engine!” and “Dan! Dan! Dan! Dan! DAN! DAN!… DAN!… DAN!” has a film out there can only be one winner.
WINNER: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
The Almost Inevitably Disappointing Follow-Up Face-Off: Kick-Ass 2 vs. Elysium
I thought that both Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 were outstanding of their examples of their genres, neither quite as ground-breaking as they seemed at the time, but both thought provoking pieces of high quality entertainment. Vaughn has passed the torch to Jeff Wadlow on the Kick-Ass sequel, while Blomkamp looks to be revisiting a little of the same ground with his sophomore feature film. Both will inevitably disappoint slightly in regard to their predecessors, but which one will suck slightly less?
The Sharp Indie Comedy Looking To Avoid The Summer Blockbusters Face-Off: The Kings Of Summer vs The Way, Way Back
August is so packed with comedy that I had to hold a preliminary round face-off between two face-offs, and the Big Name Comedies Putting It All Out There Face-Off was the unlucky loser. Pain And Gain looks interesting, but We’re The Millers appears to have been entirely built around the principle of watching a 44 year old woman take her clothes off. Instead we have Steve Carrell and Sam Rockwell versus Nick Offernan, Megan Mullally and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Alison Brie. The winner here is simply defined by the trailer that made me laugh the most.
WINNER: The Kings Of Summer
The Enigmatic Trailer Of Mystery Face-Off: Upstream Colour vs. Silence
I defy anyone to determine what either of these are about based purely on the trailers. No peaking at the synopses. I SAID NO PEAKING! Anyway, Upstream Colour wins this one on the entirely arbitrary basis that it’s been renamed so us simple folk in the UK are allowed to spell it correctly. (Did you know that color / colour was also once spelled culoure and coolor as well? Crazy times.)
WINNER: Upstream Colour
The Old Films Back In The Cinema Face-Off: Jurassic Park 3D vs. Plein Soleil
And finally for this month, a pair of films sneaking back into cinemas, both literary adaptations (Crighton and Highsmith respectively), but that’s about where the similarity ends. Also sneaking back into cinemas this month – if you can find them – are the likes of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate and Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse.
WINNER: Plein Soleil