Tag Archives: Film

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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‘If you are going to be going… Might as well be coming.’

With all the ‘2012 end of the world’ nonsense floating around at the moment it seems fitting to return to the last time popular culture got itself into a lather over what is, essentially, a meaningless date. Back in the late 90s, society had a diabolical case of PMT – Pre-Millennial Tension. There was a distinct feeling that on January 1st 2000 something would happen, and probably something not very good.

Of course this feeling was reflected in the cinema and there was a rash of films depicting the end of the world. Most apocalyptic films follow a certain formula: normal, audience-relatable person uncovers threat to the world; said person is not believed or trusted by the authorities; special effects ensue; eventually said person convinces all how serious the situation is and joins the army/government/scientists to save the day. It’s a cliché that’s been repeated ad nauseum, so it’s particularly refreshing and interesting to come across an apocalypse film that doesn’t follow that pattern.

1998’s Last Night uses the end of the world as a  background plot device. The focus is not on any attempt to save the world, indeed people in the film have known the world is going to end for some time and have come to accept the fact. Instead the apocalypse is simply a MacGuffin: it forces the characters to think about their lives, their desires and the decisions they’ve made.

Yes, despite its apparent sci-fi trappings, this is another staple of that very 90s genre; low-budget indie flick featuring twenty-somethings moaning about their lives!

Last Night is set in Toronto during the final hours of the world. The film follows several characters, all linked in some way, as they prepare for the end. The film, very much the vision of its director, writer and main star Don McKellar, isn’t perfect but its premise has a power that draws you in. By taking away any chance of saving the world and ignoring the great and good for ordinary people (something it shares in common with another apocalyptic film we covered, The Day The Earth Caught Fire) it makes you think about what you would do in that situation, about your life. It certainly had an effect on Lewis and I, leading to the kind of conversations that really should only be had at 3:00am after a couple of bottles of red.

This week’s deliberate error – we forget to mention who recommended the film. It was Eoin Boyle. Thanks Eoin, hope we did you proud. Also, here’s a little game for our listeners. One of us is wearing a suit and tie during the recording. Can you guess who?

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

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 Podcast 035 – Last Night

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: Don McKellar Year of release: 1998 Studio/Distributor: Rhombus Media, La Sept, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Country: Canada

Podcast 035: Last Night

After being put through the emotional wringer of Downfall in the last podcast, Lewis and Ian wanted to watch a more light hearted film this week. So they went with Eoin Boyle’s recommendation Last Night – a 1998 film about disaffected 20 somethings facing the end of the world. Yay!

101 Films Podcast 035 – Last Night

Kind Hearts and Coronets: buy one Alec Guinness, get seven free!

We had a bit of a debate before this podcast over whether Kind Hearts and Coronets counts as ‘obscure’. Although we love finding out about underrated classic films, part of the reason we started this podcast was to have an excuse to watch some of the relatively ‘big’ films that have somehow passed us by – in particular, there are quite a few major Hollywood movies that somehow seem to have eluded Ian (Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now to name just two – watch out for podcasts on those soon). We suddenly realised this week that as we’re nearly a third of the way through our list, we’d better make sure we leave room to cover all of the ‘big’ films as well as the oddities.

So does Kind Hearts and Coronets count as a ‘big’ film or an undiscovered classic? I’d certainly never heard of it until reading a Guardian article that sung its praises last December, but since then it’s been recommended to us (thanks Hannah!), and a few other people have mentioned how good it is. It’s funny how this one completely passed me by, especially as I’m a big fan of other Ealing comedies like The Man in the White Suit and Passport to Pimlico, but I’m very glad I’ve seen it now: it really is a wonderful film.

Alec Guinness is truly superb in his multiple roles as eight different members of the D’Ascoyne family, and it’s impressive how he gives each one a memorable and individual personality without resorting to caricature. Equally amazing is Dennis Price in the lead role of Louis Mazzini, who manages the impressive feat of somehow making you root for the murderer. And then there’s the lovely Joan Greenwood: there we were thinking that Felicity Kendal was the sexiest woman to ever stalk the earth – turns out she has a rival. I swear her voice could calm riots.

Anyway, suffice to say that this week’s film was a pleasure to talk about – we hope you enjoy the feature presentation:

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

101 Films Podcast 029 – Kind Hearts and Coronets

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 one last thing: I have to point you in the direction of this charming art project, which I found while writing this post. The student had the brilliant idea of recreating the Kind Hearts and Coronets film poster in the form of a Cluedo board (that’s Clue for our American readers, although apparently we don’t have any (see last week’s podcast)). I suppose the downside is there’s only one suspect – Louis Mazzini – but you could have a lot of fun with the murder weapons: “Was it Louis Mazzini in the Billiard Room with the hot air balloon?”

Director: Robert Hamer Year of release: 1949 Studio/Distributor: Ealing Studios Country: UK

Podcast 029: Kind Hearts and Coronets

This week we review the classic Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets, which stars the fantastic Alec Guinness in eight different roles. We also lament the lack of 101 Films fanzines and Ian pooh-poohs the 3D in Prometheus. 3D? Saviour of cinema? Pah!

101 Films Podcast 029 – Kind Hearts and Coronets

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

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”.

101 Films Special #4: Comedy Films You Should Have Seen

Join us for our fourth 101 Films Special, in which we take a look at our top ten comedy films of all time and ask: “has anyone ever pulled using a Monty Python quote?”

101 Films Special 04 – Comedy Films You Should Have Seen