Tag Archives: Before Sunrise

And like that *poof* he’s gone!

jmsJust over two-and-a-half years ago I started yet another blog that, like the previous ones, would inevitably hold my interest for a month or so until I got distracted by some new shiny things. I started it with the lofty ambition of watching all of the IMDB Top 250 films, and generally trying to fill the gaps in my cinematic tastes and knowledge.

On one hand it was a categorical failure, as I’m still well over 70 films away from completing the set. However, if the underlying aim was to get me watching and writing more about film, and to put me in touch with an online community of some of the loveliest film fans in existence, then colour me a winner (as well as a sentimental old fool). Besides, any top 250 film list that doesn’t contain a single Powell/Pressburger picture isn’t worth the pixels it’s displaying on.

And that’s why I’m really quite sad about moving on. While Failed Critics has been online I’ve doubled the number of kids at home, moved house to accommodate said kids, and found myself in the rare and privileged position of developing a career that I not only enjoy, but am actually quite good at. Something eventually had to give, and although I’m going to miss this place I know I’m leaving it in the very capable hands of our podcast’s own Owen Hughes, Steve Norman, and Carole Petts; as well as a loose collection of brilliant writers – all of whom have been brilliant to read and elevated the site far beyond what I ever hoped to achieve on my own.

I’ve had some fantastic experiences while running the site, attending the Prometheus premiere (and becoming life-long mates with Jason Flemyng and Benny Wong); watching a weekend of David Bowie films at the ICA; and a couple of great years at the Glasgow Film Festival where I got to feel like a ‘proper’ critic for two weeks. I’d like to thank everyone I’ve ever spoken to about film on Twitter, and everyone who has ever read an article on the site or downloaded the podcast. Every single one of those page views or downloads has made this mid-thirties man inordinately happy.

I’ll still be watching films, talking about them on Twitter, and keeping my Letterboxd ratings up-to-date. And maybe in time I’ll even get around to popping back on the podcast, or helping run the annual awards. For now though, please continue to visit the site and support the brilliant work Owen has already been doing while I’ve been otherwise engaged. I can’t wait to see what he does with the place.

Until then, let me leave you with my ten (sort of) favourite films that I saw for the first time while running the site. I think they sum up the era pretty well.

The Raid/The Raid 2

One of the earliest films we reviewed for the podcast back in 2012, and the opening still fills me with nostalgic glee. I only need to see that blue Sony Pictures Classics title card to be transported back to the John Woo/Chow Yun Fat Hong Kong action films of the late 80s/early 90s, but The Raid follows up on this promise and was the most fun I had in a cinema that year. The sequel (out on DVD next week) is a completely different, but just as impressive beast. Not many films had such a unanimous affect on the podcast team.

The Lego Movie

Currently sat at the top of my 2014 ‘Best of’ list, and it’s going to take something pretty special to budge it. I can’t imagine that I would have made a beeline to see it on the preview weekend if I hadn’t been running a film site, let alone paying to see it again the following week. But Christopher Miller and Phil Lord’s anarchic, brave, and playful animation is so funny that I don’t care how much of an advert it is.

The Before films

In an early podcast, I remember Gerry McAuley almost blowing a gasket over how much he hated Before Sunrise, the Richard Linklater film starring a young and gloriously pretentious Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. At roughly the same time we had an argument over (500) Days of Summer, which he enjoyed and I felt was trite, overwhelmingly kooky, and horribly shallow. I then went and watched Before Sunrise, and very quickly followed it up with Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. Much like Mia Wallace suggests everyone is either a Beatles or a Stones fan in Pulp Fiction, I have a theory that you’re either a (500) Days of Summer or a Before… fan. Pick a side.

Barry Lyndon

In the weeks running up to our Stanley Kubrick podcast special I was l living and breathing Kubrick. Already my favourite director, I relished the chance to revisit some of my favourites (A Clockwork Orange, Dr Strangelove, 2001) as well as delve into a few that I had missed (Paths of Glory, The Killing, Lolita). It was this recommendation from Owen though that completely blew me away that week. Barry Lyndon’s episodic nature and purposely static action may not be to everyone’s taste, but I was utterly bewitched by this gorgeous and entertaining masterpiece.

My Neighbour Totoro/Grave of the Fireflies

Before I started Failed Critics I had never seen a Studio Ghibli film. Let that sink in. Then in our second podcast we had a Triple Bill of Films with Child Protagonists, and Gerry chose (I think) both My Neighbour Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies, released as a double bill in 1988. During their recent theatrical rerelease I took my daughter to see My Neighbour Totoro as the first film that she really watched at the cinema (great hipster credentials for the future!), but chose to watch Grave of the Fireflies on my own. Which was lucky as I basically sobbed non-stop through most of it. Simply the finest anti-war film I’ve seen, and up there with Life is Beautiful in terms of raw emotional reactions I’ve had to films.

Christiane F

Another brutal punch-to-the-stomach of a film. I saw this as part of Bowiefest and, while the Thin White Duke makes an appearance in concert and his music forms the soundtrack, the star is Natja Brunckhorst, who plays the titular character. Based on the real life memoirs of a 14-year-old drug addict and sexually exploited child, it is an incredibly stark and realistic portrayal of 1980s Berlin. As hard-hitting as it gets.

Avengers Assemble

This was our first ever ‘Best Film of the Year’ winner, and is still the touchstone for the podcast team in terms of how to do a comic book film. If we have a catchphrase on the podcast, it’s probably “this is one of the best comic book/action films since Avengers”, and it’s easy to see why it gets so much love. A brilliantly warm and funny script from director Joss Whedon, pitch-perfect performances from all (particularly Robert Downey Jnr and Tom Hiddlestone), and the sense that Marvel are risking everything and succeeding on such an ambitious project. I’ll never tire of watching this film.

The Intouchables

This French comedy really shouldn’t work. ‘Immigrant and petty thief somehow ends up with a job looking after a millionaire paraplegic, and hilarity ensues’ sounds like an Adam Sandler movie pitch that Awesome-O would come up with in the seminal South Park episode. But this film above all others is the only one still undefeated in terms of my recommending it to people and their enjoying it. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love it?

Rust and Bone

I’m a big fan of naturalistic French sex/relationship dramas, so when this film combined that genre with an incredible performance from Marion Cottilard and a brilliant soundtrack it seemed destined to be my favourite film of 2012. A story of violence, redemption, and killer whales dancing to Katy Perry’s Firework, and if that doesn’t make you want to watch it then I give up. Oh wait, I already am.

The Act of Killing

In my view not only the best film of last year, but simply one of the most important films ever made. This Indonesian documentary looked into a brutal and horrifying era of that country’s history, but rather than presenting the facts of the genocide that occurred in the 1960s the film gives the perpetrators of mass murder the opportunity to discuss and recreate their crimes in their favourite cinematic styles. What could have been a horribly crass piece of filmmaking ends up making the viewer look directly into the abyss of the darkest aspects of human behaviour. Essential viewing.

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Best Films on TV: 17-23 June 2013

We would like to apologise for being so quiet over the last few weeks, and we are hoping to be back to something approaching normality very soon. In the meantime, here are site editor James Diamond’s picks for the best films on free-to-air television this week. 

DieHardWillisMonday 17th June – Die Hard (Film4, 9pm)

It’s been our film of the day before, but there are horrendously slim pickings tonight. Watching it will help any poor unfortunate father whose family fell for the terrible ‘get your dad Die Hard 5 for Father’s Day’ marketing ploys. Talking of terrible films, one of the very worst I’ve ever seen is on True Movies 1 at 9pm: Runaway Car. It’s like Speed but with a family saloon car, and starring Judge Reinhold.

Tuesday 18th June – Lord of War (5USA, 9pm)

Another less than thrilling line-up of films today, but Andrew Niccol (writer of The Truman Show and writer/director of Gattaca) has crafted an interesting tale plotting the rise and fall of an international arms dealer. The film features an uncharacteristically subtle performance from Nic Cage, and one of the best opening title sequences of recent times. You’ll want to punch Jared Leto in the face more than normally though.

Wednesday 19th June – Hot Shots! (E4, 8pm)

Charlie Sheen stars in the last great Jim Abrahams (co-creator of Airplane and The Naked Gun) film, which has the rare distinction of being better than the film it is lampooning (the horribly overrated and criminally boring Top Gun). Averages about 33 and a third laughs per minute, and features a scene-stealing performance from Lloyd Bridges.

Thursday 20th June – Inglourious Basterds (Film4, 10.45pm)

This film is everything that is good and frustrating about Quentin Tarantino. It’s essentially four great scenes surrounded by over-the-top violence and immaturity, but what incredible scenes! Christoph Waltz commands your attention for every microsecond he is onscreen, and Michael Fassbender excels in one of my choices for Best Movie Bar Scenes

Friday 21st June – Fight Club (Film4, 11.10pm)

Arguably the most feted of David Fincher’s films (although Se7en still pips it for me), the first rule of writing about Fight Club is to reference the famous first rule of Fight Club. Check. You can also watch Fincher’s Panic Room beforehand at 9pm.

In the oddest piece of scheduling I’ve seen for some time, the family-friendly POW/football crossover hit Escape to Victory is on at 3am on ITV1.

Saturday 22nd June – Escape from New York (ITV4, 10.55pm)

The perfect Saturday night film, and the first of John Carpenter’s outstanding 80s collaborations with Kurt Russell. In the not-too-distant future (1997, to be precise) New York has become a no-go area teeming with criminals and led by a scary Isacc Hayes. When Air Force One crashes in this no-mans-land, the military send career criminal Snake Plisken in to rescue the President. Timeless action.

For the three of you who still haven’t seen it, Oldboy is also on Film4 at 1.40am.

Sunday 23rd June – Before Sunrise (BBC1, 23.25)

Quite simply one of my favourite films about love, featuring a brilliantly cocky-yet-vulnerable performance from Ethan Hawke and a please-God-marry-me turn from Julie Delpy. Basically a 90 minute dialogue between two strangers who find themselves sharing a day and night in Vienna, where nothing much happens, but the protagonists are changed forever. Watch this, hunt down the sequel Before Sunset, then count the days until Before Midnight is released next month.

Failed Critics Podcast: Happy Birthday!

oldschoolAgainst the odds, and at times against our better judgement, the Failed Critics Podcast has made it to its first birthday! So light the candles, eat some cake, and dust off your beer bongs as we celebrate our first year together.

This week sees us look back on our reviews from the last twelve months with What We’ve Been Watching: Second Opinion. Films to get a second-look from our colleagues this week include Before Sunrise (which Gerry hated when he watched it last year) and (500) Days of Summer (which wound James up something chronic in 2012). We also get second opinions on Sightseers, Trollhunter, Rust and Bone, and The Divide. We also answer those burning issues we asked you to put to us, and get a shocking confession from Steve regarding Citizen Kane.

Join us next week for the retooled and rebooted ALL NEW Failed Critics Podcast. It’ll be the same contributors and sound quality, but we might out up some new curtains or something. Oh, and we’ll be reviewing Iron Man 3.

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