Tag Archives: Anchorman

A Decade In Film – The Noughties: 2004

Our journey through the most recent completed decade hurtles onwards, to the year when cinema was finally freed from the iron grasp of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This year was certainly the most difficult so far to narrow down to just five films, with a plethora of high quality films released. There’s a nice little list of also-rans underneath my five choices so as not to spoil the overwhelming tension you are no doubt experiencing as you wait to find out which five films I’ve chosen.

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

“Are we like those bored couples you feel sorry for in restaurants? Are we the dining dead? I can’t stand the idea of us being a couple people think that about.”

Michel Gondry’s surreal and slightly sci-fi tale of a couple erasing each other from their memories tells us so much about sadness, loss and relationships. It won Gondry, Charlie Kaufman and Pierre Bismuth the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in the process, as well as serving as a timely reminder that Jim Carrey is a brilliant serious actor when he wants to be. Eternal Sunshine isn’t simple to understand, it isn’t chronological, its characters (even the strong supporting cast) constantly reveal new layers of complexity; in other words, it pretty much urges you to watch it through a second and even a third time, for fear that you’ve missed out on something valuable. Though disorienting, the film continually brings us back to its message: that humans need love and companionship and that, however fleeting the attainment of that may be, we are better off having it (and remembering it) than never experiencing it at all. No matter the pain, memories are sometimes all we have. Without them, as Gondry shows us, we are not really us.

4. Dead Man’s Shoes

dead mans shoes

“I’m not threatening you mate. It’s beyond fucking words. I watched over you when you were asleep and I looked at your fucking neck and I was that far away from slicing it.”

Paddy Considine is awesome. We know this. Everyone accepts this as one of the key truths of current British cinema. Shane Meadows is also pretty damn good. He gets a lot of plaudits from critics and ‘ordinary viewers’ alike, so we know he’s one of the most talented men in British cinema too. Partly why we know both of these things is Dead Man’s Shoes, a visceral psychological examination of one man’s personal war in the sleepy town of Buxton. These men, we see, bullied his disabled brother. And Paddy didn’t like that. Not one bit.

Considine is captivating as he inflicts his terrifying revenge upon them, Meadows manipulating the audience from the get-go into a tumult of anxiety and conflict. Yes, these people are drug dealers, but do we revel in their misery? Do we feel that this is all merited? What the hell would I do if someone like this came after me? The setting is so recognisable to British viewers (particularly Northern monkeys like myself) and the style so effective that the film feels horrifyingly real.

A modern British classic that paved the way for This is England, Meadows builds upon A Room for Romeo Brass (and the muddled Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) and applies his style to a different genre, producing a film that you felt only he was capable of making. Fortunately, Considine has since used experiences like this when he stepped into the director’s chair, resulting in the brilliant Tyrannosaur.

3. Bad Education

bad education

“I think I’ve just lost my faith at this moment, so I no longer believe in God or hell. As I don’t believe in hell, I’m not afraid. And without fear I’m capable of anything.”

A semi-autobiographical tale of Catholic child abuse and the long-lasting trauma this inflicts upon those involved. What’s not to like? Exploring how his characters’ sexual identities are shaped by their earlier lives, visionary director Pedro Almodóvar is almost, almost, at his best here. It’s in his top five, anyway, which puts it at a higher level than most directors in Hollywood could ever hope to achieve.

Gael García Bernal – or, to give him his full title, the annoyingly-attractive-even-when-dressed-like-a-woman- Gael García Bernal – stars as Ignacio, who visits struggling director Enrique and forces him to confront their supposed past. Fiction and reality become blurred. We question who is who, we are fooled, we are unsure where the truth and fantasy diverge, if at all. The acting, from all involved, is outstanding to the point that we end up wishing that it didn’t feel so real.

Make no mistake, watching this film is an unsettling experience. Not just because of its depictions of prostitution, drug taking, transvestitism (I had to wikipedia that term) and child abuse, but also because there is layer upon layer of complexity here and you won’t come out of the other side feeling optimistic. The abundant sex is never gratuitous, the consequences always much more impactful than anything we see on screen. A film to treasure, for here we see a great director creating meaningful art with great actors that enthralls us from start to finish. And that, really, is all we can ask for in a film.

2. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

anchorman

“Mr. Harken, this city needs its news. And you are going to deprive them of that because I have breasts? Exquisite breasts? Now, I am gonna go on, and if you want to try and stop me, bring it on. Because I am good at three things: Fighting, screwing, and reading the news. I’ve already done one of those today, so what’s the other one gonna be?”

Perhaps the most quotable film of all time, Anchorman is pretty much the foundation for the likes of Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell receiving top billing in Hollywood comedies and Judd Apatow producing everything ever since. Building on the success of Old School, Ferrell teamed up with fellow SNL staffer Adam McKay to write this tale of a sexist, outrageous news team in 1970s San Diego. One of the best satirical movies of recent decades in my view, Anchorman spoofs 70s America in the same way Austin Powers skewered 60s Britain – exaggerating aspects of the culture yet maintaining a realistic, recognisable feel that only serves to make it funnier. These are characters we can all recognise and, unfortunately, attitudes that we have probably all experienced too. Watching the news team attempt to woo new girl Veronica Corningstone will be familiar to anyone old enough to view the film – their juvenile and misguided efforts doubtless drawing parallels from some poor fool we know/knew growing up. The cameos from the comedy elite of the period are thick and fast, most notably in an insane brawl that parodies West Side Story, and the outlandish lines and quips come even thicker and faster (that’s definitely a thing – I’m making it a thing).

Cinema snobs (film critics in general, to be fair) will tell you this isn’t a great movie, or a great comedy, or that it doesn’t quite work, or it’s juvenile. It may well be that those watching it for the first time twenty years from now will wonder what all the fuss was about, and why their dads keep quoting it to each other. This is my generation’s Animal House. I will defend it to the end. Anchorman works through a bunch of excellent comic actors taking a middling-to-good script and, through outstanding delivery and excellent rapport, making it work (well, 60% of the time, it works every time). Watching the deleted scenes on the DVD will show you just how great their improv ability is, a fact that both Hollywood and the major networks picked up on straight away.

1. The Sea Inside

the sea inside

“Only time and the evolution of consciences will decide one day if my request was reasonable or not.”

For anyone to watch this film and not experience a gamut of emotions is surely impossible. This is a film that reaches out of the screen and grabs you, leaves you open mouthed at its central performance and deeply touched on a human level at the power of its story. That the film has its basis in real events makes it all the more enthralling.

Javier Bardem has been the darling of the English speaking cinematic world since his turn in No Country For Old Men. This is unquestionably his best performance though, bringing to life Ramón Sampedro, a Galician man who becomes quadriplegic after an accident. That Bardem is restricted to lying motionless for the majority of his screen time yet still turns in one of the most astonishing performances of the decade tells you all you need to know about the subtlety of his brilliance. The supporting cast, not least Belén Rueda and Lola Dueñas, are excellent thanks to the outrageously good direction of Alejandro Amenábar. Probably best known by English speakers for The Others (underrated), Amenábar established himself with Open Your Eyes – the vastly superior original of Vanilla Sky – and this is his first Spanish language film since that release seven years earlier. He hasn’t worked much since either (only middling 2009 Rachel Weisz vehicle Agora) so I remain hopeful that when he next makes a film, it will approach these dizzying heights again. This is stunning filmmaking, deeply uplifting yet haunting; a masterpiece.

Good but not quite good enough

So here are the ones that made the not-so-shortlist, the longest thus far in the series. So many of these were desperately unlucky to miss out that I’m already practically apologising to them for omitting them:

The Motorcycle Diaries, Collateral, Team America, Ong Bak, The Bourne Supremacy, Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Napoleon Dynamite, Downfall, Dodgeball, Mean Girls, Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Machinist, The Incredibles.

You can find more of our revitalised Decade In Film articles so far here, from 1963-2004.

Best Film on TV: Christmas Special

With a festive season packed full of brilliant films on TV, Owen picks the cream of the crop for you over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself and Boxing Day. Whilst it’s 4 days shorter than the usual Best Film on TV article, it’s practically bursting with quality movies, starting with….

manchurian-candidate1Christmas Eve –

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) (ITV4, 12.10) – A favourite of ITV’s as it seems to be on at least once a month recently, it doesn’t make it any less worthy of your time. Starring Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and ol’ Blue Eyes himself Frank Sinatra, this psychological thriller about a returning POW who’s been brainwashed by the commie Koreans is as nightmarish as it is absorbing.

It’s a Wonderful Life (Channel 4, 13.10) – Whilst the proposed sequel is still some way off development, it wouldn’t be Christmas if this wasn’t on TV now would it? Last year we actually outlined exactly why you should see this in James and Kate’s 12 Days of Christmas series.

Fantasia (BBC2, 16.15) – Believe it or not, this is actually the terrestrial premiere of Walt Disney’s Fantasia, despite the fact it was released some 73 years ago now. Blending classical music with spell-binding, magical animation, it’s sure to draw in a huge number of viewers young and old to marvel at the splendour of classic Disney.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Film4, 00.45) – Adapted into a feature film by Finnish director Jalmari Helander from his own short film, this is a Christmas film like very few others! As a horror-comedy about a young boy that discovers the real Santa, an evil child stealing monster, is trapped in the mountains of his home town, it quite obviously doesn’t take itself too seriously! You will either love or hate it. If you stay up to watch it, it could even be the first film you see on Christmas day!

Children of Men (ITV4, 01.05) – Not Christmassy at all. In fact, I don’t even like Children of Men. However, director Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity made it into the top 10 of 2013 in the Sight and Sound list and was mostly enjoyed by our podcast team and by Carole, our roving reporter at the London Film Festival, so one of his earlier sci-fi films about a world where women have stopped giving birth may appeal to the cinephiles out there looking for something a little bleaker this Christmas.

theredshoes2Christmas Day –

The Red Shoes (BBC2, 08.50) – The best Powell & Pressburger film that I’ve seen, The Red Shoes is about a ballet.. but don’t let that put you off like it threatened to do to the uncultured swine that I am. It is truly excellent. The actual ballet scene itself is mesmerising. The hissing romance between its two superb lead performers, Moira Shearer and Marius Goring, stuns the film into one of the most enchanting and mesmerising I’ve ever seen. Atmospheric, beautiful, tense. amazing, spectacular, illuminating… I could go on!

Gone With The Wind (Five, 10.15) – The episodic structure to this epic Civil War southern romance story from 1939 starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh means you can quite easily dip in and out of it between your view getting blocked by nan standing in front of the tele and helping with the tidying up without really missing much. If you make it to the end in one sitting, complete with sitting through ad breaks, then frankly my dear, I’m proud of you.

Casablanca (Five, 14.35) – Another film I don’t care too much for but is hailed as a classic is Michael Curtiz’s Oscar winning war time political-romance drama Casablanca. Taking a look at the profile page for the film over on Letterboxd, only one reviewer has given it anything less than 5 stars; even they gave it 4.5 stars! That, my friends, is a rarity. I would wager it will be a while again before I see the likes of that. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow.. ok I’ll drop the cheesy quote-jokes.

Toy Story 3 (BBC1, 15.20) – Whilst it has been argued that Pixar are on the decline as of late, it’s hard to beat watching one of their films on Christmas Day. BBC seem to have developed a tradition of showing their movies on the 25th December, and this year they have decided to air the eleventh highest grossing film of all time. Indeed it was even nominated for an Oscar in 2011! Financial and critical success might suggest Pixar are far from a spent force, but nothing they have released since the third instalment of their Toy Story franchise has come close to matching its achievements.

The Muppets Christmas Carol (Channel 4, 16.35) – As I’m yet to pick a proper Christmas family movie, taking a peak at the schedule, it’s got to be the Muppets Christmas Carol. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you why you should be watching this. It’s plainly obvious.

Big Fish (Film4, 16.50) – Ewan McGregor plays the son of a dying father in this fantasy adventure film. I don’t tend to pick many Tim Burton films for these Best Film on TV articles, however I will make an exception for Big Fish as it’s the time of forgiving. It might just be the last good film he made.

Ghostbusters (5*, 16.55) – If Big Fish.. ain’t your thing.. what else should you watch? Ghostbusters!

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (BBC3, 20.30) – Ah, good ol’ Indy. Reliable, entertaining Indy. Proper Christmas day evening adventure film Indy. If you, like many other incorrect people, consider Temple of Doom to be a bit shit, you could wait for The Last Crusade on Boxing day at 20.00… or even Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is on BBC1 at 18.05 on Friday.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (BBC1, 00.40) – With the release of Anchorman 2 last week, the long awaited sequel, BBC1 are giving you the chance to go back and watch where it all started. Arguably Will Ferrell’s greatest comedy creation pits the out-dated news anchor against an up-and-coming female counterpart. If you’ve had a bit to drink, just realised the time, and can stomach staying up just another hour and a half, then this is the perfect tonic.

The Host (2006) (Film4, 01.30) – As per my review on the latest podcast, this South Korean creature-feature about a mutant creature from the Han River in Seoul is tons of fun. Grotesque and hilarious, with a great cast of people recognisable from lots of other Korean films, such as Kang-ho Song (the vampiric priest in Thirst, and also in Sympathy for Mr Vengeance), and Doona Bae (who was also in Sympathy for Mr Vengeance as well as one of the best films of the year in Cloud Atlas), it is rightly regarded as one of the country’s best.

BenHurBoxing Day –

Ben Hur (More4, 11.45) – It’s just not Christmas without Ben Hur. Sword and sandal epics are what Christmas TV needs; Ben Hur, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Jason and the Argonauts, etc. It’s the time of year where it’s acceptable to watch an hour or so of a 3+ hour long film before giving in and changing channel, yet still feeling proud of yourself. Hopefully you time it just right so that you tune in just as the chariot race scene begins.

Paths of Glory (ITV4, 12.05) – Stanley Kubrick is a favourite of the Failed Critics team, even being inducted into our illustrious Corridor of Praise this year. His anti-war film from 1957 may be rather more tame than his more famous war film, Full Metal Jacket, but it is still just as impressive. It pits Kirk Douglas as the commanding officer, defending a group of soldiers facing a court martial. It’s bold and powerful, arguably the best of Kubrick’s pre-Strangelove films.

Fantastic Mr Fox (More4, 18.10) – Wes Anderson can be an acquired taste for some, but his quirky stop-motion animation based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book is a great film to wind down to after a long and tiring day of unwrapping presents, cooking a massive dinner, and pretending to be pleased at your annual gift set of Dove for Men from Boots.

Sightseers (Film4, 21.00) – As far as road trip films go, Ben Wheatley’s sinister and darkly comic story of a young couple from Redditch, serial killing their way through a caravan holiday, is one of the best, most disturbing and hilarious of its kind. It even made it onto James’ top 10 of 2012 list last year. If that isn’t recommendation enough, then I don’t know what is.

Horror of Dracula (BBC2, 00.10) – Remember when you were young and these Hammer Horror films used to be on TV really late at night? Me neither. I’m too young for that. But my dad assures me this was the case. Dracula, starring Sir Christopher Lee as in the titular role and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, is arguably one of their finest. Certainly one of their most iconic and justifiably so.