Tag Archives: Film Reviews

I’m loud, darling, but never cheap

The IRA thriller-comedy-romance is a seldom represented genre in film. It feels at times like The Crying Game is actually two separate movies in one: a sort-of comedy romance bookended by a highly charged thriller about terrorism, which makes for an odd mix. It reminded me a bit of the ending to A.I., where suddenly the film takes off in an entirely unexpected direction – not that I’m saying The Crying Game is anything like A.I. of course… although imagine if it was. The robot terrorist with a heart? You know, it might just work…

The point is that when you hit the twist, The Crying Game veers off in an entirely unexpected direction, and when the IRA plot reared its head again towards the end, it genuinely took me by surprise. I’d been so engrossed in the awkward romance story that I’d almost forgotten about that surreal 20 minutes at the beginning of the film, when Forest Whitaker does his best to convince us he’s a cockney (frankly, his best isn’t good enough).

We spend quite a bit of time bemoaning poor old Forest’s well-below-par accent skills in the podcast, but rightly so I think. His British accent is SO bad – and we’re talking sub-Keanu Reeves in Dracula here – that it’s almost impossible to get past it and enjoy the film. Ian actually resorted to putting on the subtitles for the first bit because he just couldn’t understand a damn thing Forest was saying, such is the garbled jumble of words that fall from his mouth. Is he Irish? Is he American? Is he English? The impression we’re left with is that he must have moved around a lot before ending up in the clutches of the IRA, possibly via space. Eventually though, by the time he reaches the speech about the scorpion and the frog, he seems to settle on a bizarre hyper-cockney accent that would make even Dick van Dyke blush. “Why didja sting me Mista Scorpion?” Shudder.

Anyway, going back to the twist, we decided there was no real way we could talk about The Crying Game without discussing THAT scene. We’re fairly sure that the whole world and his dog knows what it is by now, but just in case you don’t, there’s a big fat spoiler alert halfway through to let you know when to turn off, watch the film, and then come back and listen to the rest. But if you’ve ever watched Father Ted, The Simpsons, Ace Ventura, Hot Shots 2 or Naked Gun 3, you’ll probably have a good idea of what to expect.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy the The Crying Game DVD from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance)

But without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 036 – The Crying Game

OR subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to also to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director: Neil Jordan Year of release: 1992 Studio/Distributor: British Screen Productions/Channel Four Films/Miramax Country: UK

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Podcast 036: The Crying Game

We come to the conclusion that The Crying Game is at once charming and awkward, and even slightly irritating in places. A bit like our podcasts.

101 Films Podcast 036 – The Crying Game

I’ve got a great idea for a movie…

The greatest Blockbuster of all? Maybe.

The summer is here! Well, was here as it’s now nearly over! And if you live in the UK then it was sort of here for a week-and-a-half back in June and since then it’s just been raining. Woooh, summer! To celebrate, 101 Films is wheeling out a Special all about that institution of cinema, the Summer Blockbuster.

Until the 1970s the summer was traditionally a dead time for cinema, with studio heads believing people would be too busy enjoying the sunshine, having picnics, playing on beaches, having summer romances, going on holiday, drinking cocktails while watching the sunset, wearing handkerchiefs on their heads, wearing shorts and eating ice creams to bother going to see films. Then Jaws came along and Spielberg proved that all people want to do on those long summer days is sit in darkened rooms and watch a film. But not just any film, people want a particular type of movie. Something exciting, heart warming and full of spectacle. Something featuring the most charismatic and attractive actors of the day. Something that, if nothing else, had a big old explosion in it. That something was the Summer Blockbuster.

Since Jaws, studios have increasingly focused their resources on Summer Blockbusters. If they get it right then they can spend the rest of the year swimming in a giant chamber of money, just like Scrooge McDuck used to do (or still does, I presume he’s still with us?). Get it wrong and it can massively damage everyone involved. Remember Pearl Harbor? *shudder*

In this podcast Lewis and I offer the studios our own guide to creating a great Summer Blockbuster. We try to define exactly what makes a good Blockbuster good.

Khhhhaaaaaaaannnn!

Of course defining what makes a good film is a bit of a fool’s errand. One person’s thrilling rollercoaster ride of a film is another’s loud, incoherent nonsense. Can any film ever truly be defined as ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Film is art and doesn’t the very subjective nature of art make all criticism essentially pointless? Is 101 Films a massive waste of time?

Probably. But then again what else are Lewis and I going to do on a wet Tuesday afternoon?

Anyway, without further ado, let us present this week’s feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Special 05: How To Make A Summer Blockbuster

OR subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to also to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Want a good film? Get a dinosaur in!

Princess Mononoke: Definitely Probably The Best Anime Ever Made

This week we’ve struggled through the fearsome heat in our ‘recording studio’ to bring you a podcast about, by our reckoning, the best animé ever made: Princess Mononoke. Admittedly, I somehow ended up saying it’s ‘definitely probably the best animé ever made’ in the podcast (which, let’s face it, doesn’t even make sense), but in retrospect I feel we can upgrade that rather wishy washy statement to ‘definitely’. And if you disagree… well, you’re welcome to, it’s a free society after all.

I saw Princess Mononoke for the first time around 10 years ago, and it was this film that inspired me to hunt out and watch the entire output of Studio Ghibli, which, if you’re not familar with it, is sort of like the Japanese Disney, but with more violence and general weirdness. It seems natural to compare Studio Ghibli to Disney in the sense that they’re both exceptionally important and well-respected animation companies in their home countries, but beyond that their films really have very little in common: I doubt you’d see someone having both their arms shot off in a Disney film, for example.

But aside from the violence, the major difference between Princess Mononoke and the output of Disney is the sheer weight of story. The director and writer Hayao Miyazaki (if you will, the Walt Disney of Japan) doesn’t shy away from introducing ambiguity into the characters, and we end up with a complex web of character interactions in which it’s difficult to clearly delineate the ‘good’ characters from the ‘bad’. It’s quite a refreshing change from dumbed down Hollywood tales of the lone hero wreaking ‘justice’ on his one-dimensional ‘evil’ foes.

Visually too, the film is a cut above your usual animation, and there are some truly breathtaking sequences involving the gods of the forest, along with some epic battle scenes. It’s one of those films that really sticks in your mind for years afterwards. If you haven’t seen it, rectify this oversight immediately.

Thanks to Lara and Sam for recommending the film, and thanks to everyone who’s written in with their recommendations so far – we’ll make sure to read them all out in our upcoming podcasts. Ian’s away next week, meaning we’ll be back in a couple of weeks’ time, so until then we’ll leave you with this week’s feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 031 – Princess Mononoke

OR subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki Year of release: 1997 Studio/Distributor: Studio Ghibli Country: Japan

Orson, you’ve got a touch of evil on you… no, a bit to the left… look, let me get it

Touch of Evil is a film we’ve been meaning to watch for ages and, thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.

Orson Welles puts in an astonishing turn as the corpulent, corrupt cop Hank Quinlan, and the film is also notable for featuring Charlton Heston as the least-convincing Mexican ever (but at least he didn’t try to do a Mexican accent, thank god). Apparently, in the original script Heston’s character was going to be American and his wife, played by Janet Leigh, was going to be Mexican, but Welles swapped the nationalities around when he rewrote the script. Perhaps he just wanted to see what Charlton would look like with bootpolish black hair and a baggy suit.

Janet Leigh is fantastic as the fearless (on the exterior at least) wife of Heston’s character, and there’s a great scene near the beginning where she stands up to some nefarious gangster sorts. As the film progresses though, little by little we see her fear creep through, and there’s a palpable feeling of unease as the danger surrounding her character grows over the course of the movie.

It seems we’ve obviously got a fondness for film noir, as we’ve already featured several, both new and old, in our rundown of 101 Films, and taking a glance at the films we’ve got on our ‘to do’ list, there are plenty more to come. Here’s to looking on the bleak side of life.

I’ll admit we do get a little bit distracted in the podcast though, particularly in our earnest discussion over transplanting the cast of Touch of Evil into ‘Allo ‘Allo. Janet Leigh as Helga anyone? Orson Welles as René? Seems like a match made in heaven…

Oh, and there’s one more thing I should mention: Charlton Heston plays a narcotics officer, not a district attorney as we say in the podcast. Fun fact: Ian originally said he was a narcotics officer, but I insisted that he was ‘actually a district attorney don’cha know’, and we actually re-recorded that bit to ‘get it right’. Whoops, sorry Ian!

Anyway, without further ado, here’s our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 028 – Touch of Evil

OR subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog.

Director: Orson Welles Year of release: 1958 Studio/Distributor: Universal Pictures Country: USA

Podcast 028: Touch of Evil

Join us as we dive into the dark and seedy world of Orson Welles’ classic film noir Touch of Evil… but then get a bit distracted and start talking about Allo Allo and Transformers: The Movie. It’s business as usual on 101 Films!

101 Films Podcast 028 – Touch of Evil

Rejoicing in the madness of Mulholland Drive

This week we tackle David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, another reader recommendation (we’ve given up on calling you all ‘listeners’, there’s just such an alliterative appeal about ‘reader recommendation’). Importantly, this gives us a chance to wheel out our ‘news’ jingle, which we always look forward to, so please do write in so we can use it every week.

Our knowledge of David Lynch is fairly limited – we’ve never seen Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet and we spent most of last week thinking that he’d directed eXistenZ  (turns out that was David Cronenberg, so we were right on half of the name at least) – therefore we weren’t quite sure what to expect of Mulholland Drive. Turns out it’s completely madballs, but in a good way.

It’s one of those films that really shouldn’t work if you look at it on paper. Characters are introduced and then quickly forgotten about, whole strands of plot seem to go absolutely nowhere, it cuts between apparently random scenes that seemingly have no connection, and towards the beginning the acting is uncomfortably forced and wooden (although as you watch more of the film, it becomes clear that this is intentional). The final resolution, when it eventually arrives after two and a half hours, offers no resolution at all, and if anything simply creates more questions.

But despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, it’s utterly compelling.

For a start it’s beautifully shot, and Lynch regularly chucks in scenes and images that stay with you long after the credits roll: the mysterious man in a wheelchair with a tiny head, the terrifying monster thing that lives behind the bins at Winkie’s, the insane cabaret acts at Club Silencio, Billy Ray Cyrus being punched in the face – all of these things will be lodged in my memory for years to come I’m sure. Then there’s the amazing sound effects and music that are so intertwined with the imagery that it’s impossible to separate the two. I will never see a laughing elderly couple again without involuntarily imagining an evil rumble that could well have reverberated out of the very pits of hell itself. This could make family reunions difficult.

And then there’s the central mystery itself. What’s the blue key for? What’s the relationship between the end of the film and the beginning? Is it a dream? If so, who’s dreaming? It’s a mystery that only Lynch knows the answer to – if there is an answer – but as we mention in the podcast, the joy of the film is in making up your own theories about what happened.

So thanks again to Claire for the recommendation, and without further ado, here’s our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 027 – Mulholland Drive

OR subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Oh, and by the way, we checked: Billy Ray Cyrus isn’t dead, turns out he had quite a famous daughter. Who knew?

Director: David Lynch Year of release: 2001 Studio/Distributor: StudioCanal/Universal Pictures Country: France/USA

Podcast 027: Mulholland Drive

This week we tackle Mulholland Drive, which gives us an opportunity to show off our ignorance about David Lynch and speculate on what you should do if you encounter a sinister dwarf. We also talk about Billy Ray Cyrus. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

101 Films Podcast 027 – Mulholland Drive

The Top Ten Comedy Films You Should Have Seen

We’ve been looking forward to doing our comedy special, as it finally gives us the chance to spend half an hour quoting lines from our favourite comedy films, all the while laughing like schoolboys who’ve just read their first issue of Viz. As with our previous specials, we’ve chosen a list of our top ten favourite films, but chopping our initial list of 25 comedy films down to just ten proved an arduous task. Never in the history of 101 Films has there been so much soul searching, heated debate and hands-throwing-in-the-air as there was before the recording of this particular special.

But then again, as we’ve mentioned before, comedies tend to be the films we remember most fondly, the films that see us through the good times and the bad, so it’s no surprise that they inspire such passion. Whereas we’ll often only watch a film once and never return to it, we’ve seen every film in our comedy top ten many times, and some of the viewing counts are easily in double figures.

We ended up having to be pretty ruthless in our bid to reach a top ten. We decided from the off that we would only accept ‘pure’ comedy films into our canon, so no genre crossovers. Sadly, that meant an early bath for the much-loved Shaun of the Dead and Ghostbusters, and Withnail & I was deemed too much of a comedy drama to fit the bill. Swingers swung out early, and Groundhog Day was briefly considered before being reluctantly dropped. In The Loop was culled because although very funny, it’s not laugh out loud funny, more wry amusement. We also lost The Blues Brothers early on, and Ian vetoed Borat, while Lewis struck off School for Scoundrels. It was murder out there.

We agonised over whether to include BASEketball for a long time, but eventually decided that the sheer quality of the other titles was enough to edge it out of the top ten. Likewise, we dropped Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s magnum opus – South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut – over worries that the humour that tickled our teenage funnybones might not hold up to scrutiny by our current, cynical, thirtysomething incarnations. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was considered but ultimately dropped on the basis that we already have another Mike Myers film in the top ten, and also that the memory of the original Austin Powers film has been permanently sullied by the lacklustre sequels. The Naked Gun was in there to the very end but was ultimately culled because of the presence of an even mightier Leslie Nielsen film in the final countdown, and Dr Strangelove clung on for dear life before being swept away in a remorseless effort to get to the final ten.

So finally we’re here: the Top Ten Comedy Films You Should Have Seen. We hope you enjoy listening to our list, but if there’s a killer comedy that you think we’ve left out, let us know by adding a comment to this post or emailing us at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com.

Click below to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice…

101 Films Special 04 – Comedy Films You Should Have Seen

…or subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

And finally, as we mention in the podcast, we have some serious doubts as to John Hannah’s successful use of a Monty Python quote to pick up Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors – could this ever really happen in real life? Have you ever successfully used a Monty Python quote to pick up a man or woman? If so, please write in and let us know. And tell us your secret.

And finally finally, I just had to share this fantastic (shot!) website I came across while writing this post – a blog dedicated to William Shatner’s toupe: http://shatnerstoupee.blogspot.co.uk/. I’m particularly fond of this post, entitled “Shatner in a hat – a more dignified actor”.