Meantime

This is a film I remember watching way back in the 90’s, and it had a lasting impression on me. I last watched it in 2010.

It is a 1983 made-for-TV film starring Phil Daniels (he had the speaking part in Blur’s “Parklife” song), Tim Roth, and Gary Oldman. Alfred Molina had a smaller role.

The story follows two brothers (Daniels and Roth) as they basically just go about their daily life on the dole, along with their bitter father, and the equally bitter but working mother. Gary Oldman plays a skinhead who does the usual skinhead things. It isn’t a story as much a look at the extremely depressing life of working-class in the East End of London under Margaret Thatcher.

For contrast, the mother’s sister lives in a much more well-off suburban part of the city and does her best to help Roth’s character, but we see that even her seemingly idylic life is also troubled…money doesn’t buy everything.

It was directed by Mike Leigh, who does these kinds of films extremely well, and it is just plain superbness throughout. This was Tim Roth’s second film (TV film), with Made In England being his first, which I am going to watch next.

Date watched: August 25th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 55

Distant Voices, Still Lives

This is a fantastic 1988 British drama film set in 1940’s and 1950’s Liverpool.

The story follows a working class family headed by an angry and abusive father (played by the excellent Pete Postlethwaite), his wife, and three children.

The film is split into two parts, with the first part called “Distant Voices” and the second “Still Lives”. Each part jumps around in the past, present, and future, and does it quite well, although some may find it confusing.

A central part of the story, apart from being about a family that has to deal with a difficult father, is singing. Most of the cast are singing at some point, or are all singing together at home, or together down at the pub with their friends. This is pre-rock ‘n’ roll, so the songs are old-timey. The film’s timeline ended probably just on the cusp of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, and I was actually expecting to hear Bill Haley or Fats Domino at the end. Some of the actors and actresses were very good singers.

Everything about this is superbness, and I find it hard to criticise it in any way. Some may find this to be a bit depressing, especially the scenes involving the father who is mostly in a bad mood, and what his suffering wife has to go through. But, I found it to be beautiful and unforgettable.

Date watched: August 19th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 53

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

This is a very recent documentary from HBO about my most fave comedian.

It starts off right at the beginning, telling us about his parents and two half-brothers, as well as his school life. From there it goes into his early days as a stand-up comic, then his break into television and films.

There was plenty of behind the scenes footage of him, the scenes of him goofing around on set were very funny. A speech he made at the People’s Choice award after he lost out to Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day Lewis (both tied, with Robin the only other nominee) was a hoot. And there were interviews with all kinds of people including Billy Crystal, Eric Idle, Billy Crystal, Pam Dawber, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, and plenty others including his half-brothers, first wife, and some of his children.

As we all know he was a comedy genius, but also quite tormented in various ways. He also seemed to be a very genuine and caring guy too, and completely lacked a Hollywood ego.

The documentary itself was well done. It didn’t gloss over his troubles with drug and alcohol addiction, and totally relied on the interviewees and archive video and audio from Robin himself to tell the story.

Excellent stuff. And Robin has to be added to the MBMS Page of Fame of course.

Date watched: July 22nd
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 46

Star Wars: Episode 4

There is no real need to write much about this as I have already written about it four times previously in this blog (although I have seen this film at least twenty times).

What I will say again is that the “improvements” Georgie added in are very annoying and do nothing for the film at all. Why, Georgie, why?

Date watched: July 8th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 39

2001: A Space Odyssey

I have seen this at least two times before, but it is one of those films that one must return to every now and then because it is just so darn good, and a real thought provoker. I last watched it in 2008.

It is quite mesmerising from beginning to end, even though it is quite long. The opening scenes involving the apes doing their thing, then going ape-crap over the monolith is superb. The ape suits were very well done, better than those in the original Planet of the Apes.


Behind the scenes photo.

Then there was the spaceship and it’s revolving set, very impressive for a film made 50 years ago. You can read about how it was done here, along with the zero gravity shots.

The highlight of the film though is the last thirty minutes where the astronaut (played by Keir Dullea, now 81), goes on a trippy trip through space and time to a very nicely furnished room, then is reborn as a giant baby in a bubble the size of Earth. What this is all about is purposely not explained in the film, Stanley Kubrick wanted people to come up with their own theories as to what it is all about. The book, by Arthur C. Clark, one of my fave Sci-Fi writers, was a little more clear about this apparently. I have read the book but I forget how the ending went now…must read it again.

I gave this nine out of ten in my last review, however I have decided that a perfect ten is in order this time as I cannot think of any space film that is better than this, there are certainly none anywhere near as majestic.

Date watched: May 29th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 36

Chinatown

I first watched this film back in 2012, and I gave it a rapturous review back then, and adding it to my list of best films ever. So, it was my intention to watch this again someday, and so I did. And just as last time, I found it to be a most excellent film, just as good as I remembered.

Most of the excellent-ness is due to Jack Nicholson’s and Faye Dunaway’s acting, both were brilliant, almost as good as Humphrey and Bacall. It also felt a lot like a Humphrey crime noir film both in it’s intricate story and cinematography (except that it was in colour).

There were one or two very minor directing niggles from Roman Polanski (this was his last film in the U.S.), but it was well paced and always engaging.

Do yourself a favour and watch this again.

Date watched: April 18th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 29

Everybody Street

This is a 2013 documentary about thirteen well-known New York photographers, looking at their photos and how they go about getting them.

Some of the photographers are interviewed, and we follow some of them as they terrorise the streets of the city, quite literally in some cases. One dude by the name of Bruce Gilden basically jumps right in front of people, camera in right hand, a flash in his left hand and quickly takes a photo of them before they realise what is happening, then walks off. You can see him at work here. The other photographers are not as extreme, some of them are quite subtle yet get some fantastic shots. A few of them have been roughed up, which is not surprising at all. One guy spent time with young gang members getting shots of them playing around with guns and pointing them directly at the camera, risky stuff.

We also meet Ricky Powell, you will recognise his name from the lyrics of the Beastie Boys song “Car Thief”. He was their photographer for a while, and considered by the band to be the unofficial “fourth Beastie Boy”. He also worked with Run DMC.

The photography by all of them is fantastic, really makes me want to go out with my camera and take some snaps in the central city. I might just do that.

The documentary itself is very well made. The photographers themselves do all of the narration and tell their own stories.

An excellent watch.

Date watched: October 6th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2017: 113