Monday, April 4
I've seen four films this week, so at this rate it will be over 200 by the end of the year:
9. Melinda and Melinda
The popular consensus seems to be that Woody Allen is back on form with this film, but I don't really see when he was ever off form. Sure, he rarely produces a classic of the ilk of Manhattan or Annie Hall. But if he continues to turn out entertaining, well scripted films on a frighteningly regular basis, who cares? The premise of this one is whether life is a comedy or a tragedy. Unusually, Allen doesn't star himself, and Will Ferrell takes on his usual role, stealing the film in the process. We flit between the two stories as we follow the twin Miranda's through their trials and tribulations. Very, very funny and witty, but would you expect anything less?
10. The Chorus
French culture remains an enigma to me and this film does nothing to dispel that. Shamelessly sentimental, The Chorus tells the story of a boarding school, where a teacher who looks like Bob Hoskins sets up a choir to instill a bit of discipline in the kids. Predictably, they begin as a ramshackle bunch but soon develop into an angelic chorus. It's very twee and your mum will probably love it (unless she is like mine and hates all films with subtitles)... In fact, Paul's mum will love it...
11. The Machinist
Christian Bale reputedly lost over 4 stones before appearing in this film, with his diet consisting of an apple and a can of tuna per day. His skeletal and pale features are almost unrecognisable, as he plays machine operator Trevor Resnik. When a co-worker has his arm sliced off by a machine in an especially gruesome scene, he feels responsible and then begins seeing Ivan, his imaginary friend? His conscience? As he goes slowly insane... This is an eerie and spooky film and not in an obvious and transparent way, like in Signs for example. It still doesn't entirely make sense and is a bit one paced, but a good film nonetheless.
Fantastic, a war film without stupid fake German accents (hello Ralph Fiennes). Also, it features the best line in any film so far this year: "Come on kids, let's go and say hello to Uncle Hitler." It has been criticised in some quarters for humanising Hitler, but that's exactly what makes it such a compelling piece of work. Bruno Ganz is mesmerising and unsettling in the lead role, full of nervous ticks and boiling rage. Set in the closing days of the war, the Germans are almost defeated and the Nazi empire is slowly crumbling, Hitler commands his imaginary armies and according to Eva Braun, is obsessed with his dog and vegetarian food. It is not an easy film to watch. It is visually striking, powerful and at times is brutal and harrowing. It is a film about the minutiae of the Nazi high command, what they eat, what they drink. It is also the story of Hitler's secretary and her unwitting role in events. Stunning.