Archives For January 2012

There’s a Les Misérables movie happening. It’s coming out this year. And no, it’s not just another adaptation of the book. I’m talking about an adaptation of the beloved stage musical adaptation.

I’m extremely worried. Or at least, I was. Click to read more.


A post on a forum has got me thinking about the way I enjoy certain movies. Hitchcock was a director who understood implicitly the voyeuristic nature of film. By watching these stories play out with images and sound we are getting a glimpse into a world we otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to see. Our curiosity is rewarded with drama. But is that voyeurism a good thing? And what happens when the voyeuristic eye is turned to settings of those less fortunate?

That’s the issue that was brought up in a discussion of Andrea Arnold’s film, Fish Tank. As part of a general criticism of the film, the poster on this forum also implied that the reason so many people, particularly non-Brits, loved the film was that it provided a luridly satisfying travelogue of underprivileged people living in a council estate. I immediately found the accusation offensive. Here is a film which I found deeply impacting and emotional. My love of the film stems from my love of the character. The setting is fascinating, but only as a place for this character to live in and deal with. The implication that the main reason I liked the film was to do with some sick satisfaction in watching how poor people live felt like a personal slight. Click to read more.

I don’t usually get into serious altercations. It’s not my style. In fact, while I enjoy getting into friendly and heated arguments, I tend to avoid real confrontations as much as possible. Last night I had tickets for the Toronto premiere of the new film, The Woman in Black. It’s a film I was really looking forward to primarily because I’m very excited by the return of Hammer horror. That Daniel Radcliffe is the star just made me more interested. I happen to really like Radcliffe as an actor and his first film role post-Potter was something I really wanted to see. The icing on the cake? Radcliffe himself was set to show up. Well, I went to the premiere, and I sat down, and I saw Radcliffe for about a minute as he came out to introduce the film. And then I made a really stupid mistake.

I took a picture. Click to read more.

I love me some Mark Kermode. LOVE HIM! For those of you who may not be familiar with The Good Doctor, Mark Kermode PhD is a film critic for BBC radio. His show is available on iTunes as a podcast called Kermode and Mayo Film Review. Go listen to it. It’s great.

Anyway, Mark Kermode is one of the most entertaining and erudite critics around. He also knows how to string a damn good sentence together. He’s passionate and loud and funny and loves to rant. Basically the perfect guy to write a book about the state of film in the modern era. But here’s the rub: I didn’t actually “read” his latest book, The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex. Instead, since he’s a great guy to listen to on the radio, I opted for the audiobook version. Kermode reads his book and brings so much passion in his voice that I can’t recommend “reading” it any other way. Click to read more.

Two books down. My choice for the second book of my 50 Book Pledge was Cormac McCarthy’s seminal Blood Meridian. Given how much I loved the Coen brothers’ adaptation of No Country for Old Men, and how great McCarthy’s novel The Road was, my excitement was pretty high. Sadly, I can’t say I enjoyed Blood Meridian very much. Click to read more.

I don’t like writing about the Oscars. It’s not some hoity toity snobby thing. In general I actually love the Oscars. I mean, I hate them because they’re stupid and meaningless, but I love the game of it all, and I love the passions it sparks, and I love the whole circus surrounding them. I just don’t like writing about them. It feels too formal. It’s a set of awards I don’t actually take seriously, so why should I grant them the permanence of written prose? But this is the internet, and I have a movie blog, so it’s basically obligatory. ON WITH THE OSCAR BLOGGING!

So let’s talk about these nominations. Click to read more.

Honesty in Interviews

January 24, 2012 — 2 Comments

Interviews with actors or writers or directors or anyone involved in film and TV production are a strange beast. On the one hand they can be quite illuminating in terms of the creative and logistical process of making the entertainment we so enjoy. On the other hand, there is almost always a deep artifice to these interviews. They are usually arranged through publicists, and the only reason they happen is to drum up publicity for whatever property needs to be promoted. There’s also the issue of artistic ego and general politeness and all of it combined means most interviews, while partly illuminating, usually aren’t very honest about the work being discussed.

Sometimes, though, you do get honesty. For example, Rian Johnson, director of Brick and The Brothers Bloom, has appeared several times on the /Filmcast. He’s often on to actually review and discuss new films, and he has little problem being critical. In one episode, while it wasn’t the main topic of discussion, Johnson talked very specifically about why he did not care for the Coens’ Burn After Reading. I happened to agree with him, but I was also pretty surprised about how forthright he was. Click to read more.

Ronan Doyle over at Next Projection wrote a very interesting review of Michael Haneke‘s 2007 American remake of his own 1997 German film, Funny Games. It’s essentially a negative review, but not in the normal sense. While Ronan acknowledges that in many ways it’s a great, extremely well crafted and challenging film, the fact of its existence is what brings it down. By being a shot-for-shot remake, merely translated, but still only reaching a small cinephile audience, Funny Games US is has no need to exist. First of all, is it true that the film didn’t expand upon the audience of the original? More importantly, even if it didn’t does that mean we can discount the quality of the film? Click to read more.

Requesting Some Feedback

January 21, 2012 — 18 Comments

My blogging has become more reasonably consistent lately, but I’ve also noticed a trend. I’m don’t get too hung up on the actual number of views I get per day, but I do pay attention to them. I look for where I’m getting referrals from, what site people are clicking over to when they visit, and what content on a given day is most popular. Recently, though, I’ve seen my general numbers slip. There was a point when I could be fairly sure that a single post would net the blog at least a certain number of hits. This week I posted twice in one day and couldn’t manage to hit that bar.

I’m not trying to sit here and bore you with my sadness over losing readers. In fact, if it’s just an issue of numbers then really I don’t mind. But the numbers slide me tells me that I’m doing something wrong. I’d like to figure out what that is.

So help me out. Give me some feedback. Tell me what content you like best on the blog. Be specific if you can. What are your favourite posts? What do you come back for? Are there any kinds of posts you’d like to see or see more of? Do you think I should do more reviews of films? What kinds of reviews? Just straight, simple ones, or more in-depth essay style reviews like my War Horse piece?

And there’s other stuff. Do you like the blog’s recent look and layout? Are there additional layout elements or changes you think would improve the site?

So be a pal, help me out. Let me know what I can be doing better.


One book down! Yay!

Look, I’m a bit of an idiot. I got a late start on this #50BookPledge business, but then on top of that I decided my first book would be an 850 page fantasy opus. I’m just lucky the prose wasn’t as heavy as War and Peace or else my pledge would have been over before it even started.

Anyway, on to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It’s a book by one Susanna Clarke, released some years ago to a fair bit of acclaim and a nice spot on a number of bestsellers lists. It’s an interesting book in that it’s not exactly easy to fit it into a box. On the one hand it’s a fantasy book. No doubt about it. It’s got magicians who can do real magic, fairies, naval armadas made out of rain, all that jazz. But it’s also something of an alternate history tale, except the “alternate” in this case is that it’s an 19th Century England in which magic once existed and is now being restored. And then on top of this, the book is written in a style highly reminiscent of the works of Jane Austen, mixed with a little Charles Dickens.

If all this sounds like it might be up your alley, then you should probably just stop reading now and go pick up a copy of the book. Click to read more.