Tag Archives: Let the Right One In

Failed Critics Podcast: World Cinema Special!

No, this guy doesn't count
No, this guy doesn’t count

Bonjour, hola, guten tag, and konnichiwa to the Failed Critics World Cinema Special. This week the critics (well, most of them) take you through some of their favourite elements of film filmed in something other than English, as well as exploring some new avenues themselves.

In What We’ve Been Watching they review films from a country they haven’t experienced cinematically before, with choices from Israel, Brazil, and Quebec, while this week’s Triple Bill is ‘Favourite World Cinema Actors/Actresses’. We round off the podcast with some recommendations from some of our favourite countries.

Join us next week as we review Alpha Papa, Only God Forgives, and The Conjuring.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

Best Films on TV: 27 May to 2 June

The best free-to-air films on television every day this week, as chosen by Fast and Furious series convert and  site editor, James Diamond.

He’s too busy trying to watch the new Arrested Development season 4 and packing for a holiday to spend much time on his recommendations this week. It’s probably for the best.

unforgivenMonday 27th May – Unforgiven (TCM, 9pm)

The Oscar-winning western that laid to rest Clint Eastwood’s legendary career in the genre. Great performances from Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Morgan Freeman elevate the film to classic status.

Tuesday 28th May – Green Zone (Film4, 9pm)

Today’s film sees Matt Damon reteam with Bourne Ultimatum and Bourne Supremacy director Paul Greengrass. Based on the non-fiction book ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’, it explores the US involvement in the restructuring of Iraq after the second Gulf War in 2003, as well as the search for WMD. For those who want a late night fright, the utterly wonderful Let the Right One In is on Film4 at 1.25am. My review from last year is here.

Wednesday 29th May – The Italian Job (Film4, 7pm)

Michael Caine at his cheeky chappy best. He plays Charlie Croker, a con recently released from prison who plans the heist to end all heists right under the nose of the mafia. Cue Mini Coopers racing around Turin, Noel Coward orchestrating events from prison, and “you’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off”.

Thursday 30th May – Forrest Gump (Film4, 9pm)

Beginning to be a bit of a Film4 love-in here, but there’s really no competition today. Tom Hanks in a career-defining role that isn’t as schmaltzy as you might remember. A stunning achievement in cinema (although Pulp Fiction should still have won the Best Picture Oscar that year).

Friday 31st May – The Man Who Haunted Himself (Horror Channel, 4pm)

There’s not a huge choice today, so I’m just going to recommend a film that our very own Owen Hughes recently wrote about in his Decade in Film piece for 1970:

“1970 was an almost “inbetween” year for Roger Moore. By the time this film was released, he was already a household name. Not because he was Bond, James Bond; he was still yet to play 007 for another 3 years! But because of his role in one of the highest rated British TV shows of the 60s, The Saint. Wanting to show he was more than just a camp heroic adventurer, he collaborated with British director Basil Dearden and showcased a rather more serious side to his acting ability.

I’m not much of a Bond fan. When I was younger, I preferred Sean Connery (much to my dads disapproval) although as I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate and prefer Moore’s take on Ian Flemming’s iconic character. But it’s here, and not in the world of secret spy espionage, that I think I have found my favourite film of Moore’s.

Shot like a mystery thriller with elements of the film noir genre about it, copiously straddling various different answers to its myriad of questions before finally drawing the curtain back and revealing what has been going on all along – it plays on the concepts of identity theft, of schizophrenia and psychosis. It spends time developing the story, enhancing the mystery element and finally in getting the best out of and then delivering an exquisite performance from its star actor. Combined with a fantastically early 70s look, a late 60s swing and a very catchy theme tune by Michael J Lewis (that even now creeps into my subconscious every so often and loops around my head all morning) the effort that has gone into it definitely paid off.”

Saturday 1st June – A Few Good Men (Watch, 10pm)

Another day, another film review I can steal from one of my colleagues. This time it’s Kate Diamond’s Decade in Film for 1992:

“In a court house of the United States government, one man will stop at nothing to keep his honour, one will stop at nothing to find the truth, and Kevin Bacon has the most remarkable haircut you ever did see. Aaron Sorkin wrote the oft-quoted screenplay after hearing about a similar case in Guantanamo Bay, on which his sister was a military attorney. The Sorkin trademark ‘walk & talk’ also originated in this movie.

Despite winning precisely nothing at the Oscars, critics and the box office deemed it a hit, and it went on to be the most commercially successful work of hero director Rob Reiner. A veritable all-star cast, including Tom Cruise at his preppy nineties peak, Jack Nicholson chugging on cigars and shouting ‘I’m gonna rip the eyes out of your head and piss into your dead skull!’, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollak, Kiefer Sutherland and plenty of others. A Few Good Men is a largely court room based tale of honour, loyalty and Code Reds. It’s also a pretty great advert for never joining the Marines.”

Sunday 2nd June – The Karate Kid (Watch, 12.30pm)

I’ve not seen it for years, but I cannot imagine this film being anything less than the superlative film about learning to stand up to bullies that I remember from my youth. Ralph Macchio (last seen in this year’s Hitchcock) is ‘Daniel San’, or at least that’s what the mystical Mr Miyagi keeps calling him. Through the power of household chores, Daniel San becomes a bit of a karate legend, and has to face down his tormentors in competition. Someone sweeps the leg, someone does a ‘crane kick’ and we all get down to Joe Espostio’s ‘You’re the Best Around’

Whine On You Crazy Diamond: Don’t fuck up Bond!

Friday saw the release of the much-anticipated new Bond film, Skyfall. You can get the Failed Critics take on it in tomorrow’s Bond Special podcast – but so far critical and commercial consensus is that this is one of the best of the series.

So now that Bond is back on top, I can’t help but worry that Hollywood is going to fuck it all up in the way they did during the later Roger Moore films, and even more unforgivably with the piss-poor Die Another Day.

So here is my advice, gleaned from years of imaginary film production experience, on how not to fuck up the next Bond film.

1. Get a world-class director

Sam Mendes was a very interesting choice for Skyfall. The Oscar-winning director of suburban dramas American Beauty and Revolutionary Road hasn’t exactly got a track-record for the type of ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ action required and expected from a Bond film (although Road to Perdition and Jarhead had their moments). It didn’t matter though, as Mendes (with cinematographer Roger Deakins) produced a sensational-looking film, and coaxed brilliant performances from the entire cast. Skyfall’s quiet moments definitely benefited from having someone like Mendes at the helm.

But with Mendes unlikely to direct the next Bond film, who should the producers turn to? Whoever it is, please don’t return to the days of the jobbing director whose role is more managerial than artistic. Bond is a premium brand once more, and it should be a job for the best directors currently working.

My choice would be one of Christopher Nolan (unlikely), Paul Greengrass (whose future with the Bourne series seems to be over), or Matthew Vaughn (currently one of the most talented directors working, and has shown he can handle a big studio film with X-Men: First Class).

2. Set the tone, don’t respond to it

What was so refreshing about Skyfall is that it had something to say about the way intelligence agencies operate in this new era of counter-terrorism. It offered us a camp, maniacal villain – but made it clear that ‘we’ created him. This was blurring-the-lines stuff, with moral ambiguity everywhere.

Bond needs to continue in this vein to remain relevant. A modern Bond should be dealing with issues like drone killings and illegal rendition – not returning to the dark days of ‘one-off man mentals’ (© Chris Morris) conjuring plans to destroy the entire world from their underwater bases.

3. Get the theme tune right

I know this might seem silly, but a Bond film can live or die by its theme. Die Another Day had a promising pre-credit sequence, but the moment the Madonna snoozefest of a tune kicked in you just knew the film was going to go downhill quicker than Roger Moore on skis chased by Russians.

Adele was a safe, yet credible choice for Skyfall – and the tune itself is as much homage to Bond tunes gone by as the film is to its predecessors. But please stay away from any future attempts to modernise the Bond theme. It should be classy, orchestral, and above all keep it well out of the hands of anyone who has appeared on a TV talent show.

This week’s suggested viewing:

DVD – This is a recommendation for those doing their best to avoid Halloween. Although I was more charmed by it than my Failed Critics colleagues, we all agreed that The Five-Year Engagement (out on DVD today) was a thoroughly decent modern rom-com, with some lovely chemistry between stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.

TV – Let the Right One In (2008), Film4, Wednesday 31October. I cannot recommend staying up for Tomas Alfredson’s debut highly enough. This Swedish horror is more than a blood and guts vampire film, it is a fine study of the alienation of a young boy growing up in a Stockholm suburb in the 1980s. This film will stay with you.

Lovefilm Instant  – Who Saw Her Die (1972). The story of an estranged English couple in Venice recovering from the death of their daughter, and who get dragged into a murky underworld when they investigate the circumstances surrounding her death. No, this isn’t Don’t Look Now – in fact, this Italian giallo film was released a year before Nic Roeg’s horror classic, and is clearly (alongside other giallo films) a big influence on it. Ennio Morricone’s score is probably the scariest thing you will hear all Halloween

Netflix UKTucker and Dale vs Evil (2010). Those who enjoyed The Cabin in the Woods’ deconstruction of the horror genre will surely enjoy this reworking of the classic ‘teenagers murdered by weird hillbillies’ theme. Tucker and Dale are two quite lovable hicks who are planning to enjoy a weekend away at their new cabin, but some smart-mouth teens nearby get the wrong idea and, well – chaos and hilarity ensues.