Tag Archives: The Breakfast Club

Failed Critics Podcast: Pride (or Better Late Than Never)

pride Steve returns and carefully edits out a spoiler for a relatively new release as he tries to remember how to host a podcast after sunning himself for a week.

Meanwhile, Carole and Owen review a couple of new releases, including Pride and A Most Wanted Man. What We’ve Been Watching ganders at the recent TV and film viewing habits of our intrepid trio with reviews of a John Hughes classic and Ghostbusters 2.

Join us next week for reviews of the latest in an ever growing line of Liam Neeson thrillers, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and the Bullingdon club inspired antics of a group of Oxford Uni lunatics in The Riot Club.

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Best Films on TV: 10-17 June 2013

Hi honey, we’re home! Site editor James Diamond is back from holiday and can’t wait to recommend the best films on terrestrial TV this week. God knows what you did last week without our guidance. We hope you didn’t actually try and talk to anyone.

The Truman ShowMonday 10th June – The Truman Show (Film4, 7.05pm)

Jim Carrey pulls off the archetypal ‘comic actor in semi-serious role’ with aplomb in Peter Weir’s film about a man who has unwittingly spent his entire life as the star of a reality TV show. Then again, I’m sure you’ve all seen this already, so as a bonus today I also recommend the Pedro Almodovar film Talk to Her (Film4, 0.55am) on behalf of the podcast’s resident Spanish cinema expert, Gerry McAuley. He had this to say about it in his 2002 Decade in Film piece:

On the face of it, Hable con Ella is a pretty odd film. It centres on the solitude and inner turmoil of two men who bond over the beds of the female coma victims who they care for, the gradual entanglement of their lives – whilst in parallel the events leading up to the film’s present are slowly unravelled in flashbacks. There is a quiet power to the film which draws the viewer into this world so deeply that it is impossible to forget. Essentially, old Pedro tests how far he can push an audience (again), this time in terms of how much you’re willing to forgive because you like someone. I often say this about foreign films on the podcast but THIS IS WHAT CINEMA IS ABOUT. Tremendous performances, a director whose vision is so clear and whose skill is so well-developed that they are able to interweave symbolism and narrative to devastating effect, a story which engages throughout and an exploration of wider themes and societal issues without being preachy or ever failing to entertain.

Tuesday 11th June – Cube (Horror Channel, 9pm)

A cult classic from 1997, Cube is a cunningly simple low-budget sci-fi/horror film that delivers in spades. Six strangers awake to find themselves in maze constructed of a seemingly infinite number of cubes, each with its own deadly boobytraps and puzzles. The strangers must work together and use their unique skill sets to escape, and find out why they were chosen. Not for the faint-hearted.

Wednesday 12th June – Con Air (BBC3, 9pm)

There was a time in the nineties when Nicolas Cage was the best, and most unlikely, action hero working in Hollywood. He was a new breed of action star who didn’t solely rely on physique or a funny accent, but could actually, you know, ‘act’. Con Air is my personal favourite of this era (narrowly edging out The Rock and Face/Off), also featuring some entertaining performances from John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, and John Cusack.

“Put the bunny back in the box”.

Thursday 13th June – A Knight’s Tale (Film4, 6.25pm)

Some films charm you despite all their ingredients being completely wrong. For me, this is one of those films. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (who wrote the screenplays for Mystic River, Man on Fire, and L.A. Confidential) it stars Heath Ledger (before we started taking him seriously) as a peasant squire who cons his way into medieval jousting tournaments as a nobleman, with an uber-anachronistic Queen and Robbie Williams soundtrack. It’s actually a lot of fun, and Paul Bettany is an absolute star as a young pre-fame Chaucer.

Friday 14th June – The Breakfast Club (BBC2, 11.05pm)

Much like Owen Hughes will always find a zombie and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme film to recommend, I can’t help myself when a John Hughes film turns up on television, and this is the pinnacle of not only his films, but teen films in general.

SPOILERS

Saturday 15th June – Superman (5USA, 12pm)

Richard Donner’s take on the ‘Man of Steel’ is one of the great comic book film adaptations, and sets a very high bar for Zak Snyder’s Man of Steel (released this weekend). Christopher Reeve was a virtual unknown when cast, and apparently modeled his performance on Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. Gene Hackman co-stars as one of cinemas great villains, Lex Luthor. You can catch Superman II at 6.25pm on the same channel, although its hugely different comic tone feels odd after the seriousness and grandeur of the original. You could always try and get a copy of the Richard Donner cut though.

Sunday 16th June – Valhalla Rising (BBC2, 11.30pm)

If you stay up to watch this before having to get up early for work the next morning, don’t blame me for any nightmares or general sense of mental anguish you experience. Reviews from Cannes suggest that director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives features only 17 lines spoken by its star Ryan Gosling, and this film proves Refn has previous in this area. Valhalla Rising is the story of a mute viking warrior (played by my current acting crush Mads Mikkelsen) who starts off as a slave and ends up quite literally dragging everyone around him to a dark and violent hell. Pure art-house action and violence.

“This is Christmas. The season of perpetual hope.” (And breaking and entering.)

home alone aftershaveThere have been some great story-tellers who have entertained children over the years. From Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, to Roald Dahl, and the wonderful individuals that helped created a dynasty of Disney classics. But, for me, none of them understood children quite in the way that John Hughes did.

I grew up on John Hughes films and, unlike every other film-maker I’ve known, his work really spoke to me as a child. I always felt he understood my dreams, fears, and what makes me tick – even growing up in a small Devon village, an entire world away from the fictional town of Shermer, Illinois, where the majority of his films took place.

It wasn’t a matter of realism – anyone who complains about a lack of realism in a John Hughes film is missing the point more drastically than one of his trademark villainous teachers. Of course someone like John Bender wouldn’t turn up for Saturday detention. But, if he hadn’t  geeks like me wouldn’t have ever know we had common ground with the likes of the seemingly 30-year-old career criminal in our school, and we certainly wouldn’t have had one of the finest closing shots in cinema history.

Excuse me while I just pop out and punch the air while walking across a football field to Simple Minds.

So to bash Home Alone (directed by Chris Columbus, but written by Hughes) for its utter ludicrousness and unbelievable concept completely misses the point. This is a fantasy film rooted in the mundane. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin in a genuinely brilliant performance) is an eight-year-old boy who wishes his family would disappear, then wakes up to find them gone. What follows is exactly how an eight-year-old imagines they would spend a few days looking after themselves.

Kevin’s parents act in the way we all thought our parents did when we were mad at them. They’re self-obsessed, stupid, and really unfair. The chain of events that lead to Kevin being left home alone (hey, that’s the name of the film!) leave us in no doubt that Kevin is the wronged party here – someone eats all of the cheese pizza he ordered, no one will help him pack his case for his first ever trip abroad, and finally he’s sent to bed early in the loft after a fight instigated by his older brother leads to carnage in the kitchen and the family calling him a “little jerk” and a disease. The genius of Hughes is that children and adults will watch that sequence and come to entirely different conclusions on who is to blame for the fracas.

Once Kevin is left at home he acts in pretty much the same way we all did when we were left at home. He snoops around bedrooms, eats junk food, and watches trashy grown-up movies. Hell, that’s still how I act when my wife leaves the house to go and get a pint of milk.

The rest of his adventures are exactly how a child imagines things would play out in this situation. Accidental shoplifting charges being avoided with a chase across a crowded ice-rink; imparting of wisdom to old men who may or may not be serial killers while listening to a choir singing the frankly awesome Carol of the Bells; and defending your house against a Goodfella-turned burglar (and the other one, you know, him) in the style of MacGyver delivering Bruce Willis-esque one-liners.

If the naysayers had their way the film would end in 20 minutes, when the number of boarding passes doesn’t match the number of passengers. Or when the policeman who goes to check on Kevin actually does his job instead of telling Kevin’s mum to “count her kids again”. Or maybe they’d prefer a film where two strong career criminals easily overpower a defenceless 8-year-old boy and murder him during the course of a burglary, and a film instead focusing on the trial of a mother who abandoned her son to die at the hands of these fiends?

These people are adults – and they are not your friends. They’re what the French call “les incompetent”. They cannot be trusted.

Instead, slap on your Dad’s aftershave, sledge down a staircase, and conquer your fears of the type of basement furnace which is a huge contributing factor to global warming. Then watch Home Alone (two Oscar nominations and highest-grossing comedy of all-time) and remember when you promised yourself you’d never be like them when you grew up.

Read the 12 Days of Christmas Films so far. If you want to watch Home Alone you’ll have to buy it. It’s already been on.