This is a 2001 Spanish/Mexican film directed by Guillermo del Toro.
The story is of an orphan boy taken to an orphanage where he discovers it is haunted by a boy ghost. The villain of the story is a helper who grew up in the orphanage, and who knows that the people who run the orphanage have some gold bars somewhere in the building, and he will do anything (mostly dastardly) to get it.
It is set in Spain towards the end of the civil war (1936 to 1939).
The story was reasonably original, and there were a few surprises, but it was also quite predictable at times. The acting was superb, especially from the young boys, and it was nicely shot.
I liked the way the ghost was portrayed. I won’t go into detail, but I thought it was better than the usual scary ghosts we see in most films.
A very worthy ghost tale.
Date watched: February 15th
Film count 2018: 15
The title of this film got me hooked, especially the “polka” part because I like a little polka every so often.
This is the true story of Jan Lewan, a Polish immigrant who wanted to make it big in America, so he decided he was going to be the Kurt Cobain of polka (without the drugs and attitude).
The story though turns bad as he basically starts a ponzi scheme to fund his polka world domination plans. It is actually another very depressing story of a musician who goes off the rails a bit, but at least he doesn’t die (although he almost did in jail).
It is hard to feel sorry for him even though he seemed to be a happy and genuine guy who just wanted to realise his dreams, but he just went in too deep. It is also hard to feel sorry for some of the people, mostly retired persons, who invested a lot of their money into something that was obviously a bit dodgy right from the start. It was pure greed. When asked in interviews by the director about what happened in prison to him (he was shivved and barely survived), they just got plain nasty and wished openly that he had died.
The whole thing was shot in a kind of 1980’s style video-taped look which suited the story, and at only 69 minutes it is an easy watch. There is a comedy film based on this story on Netflix starring Jack Black, so with the background story fresh in my mind I will watch it next.
Jan is now out of prison and is back into his polka, I would say very much on the straight and narrow this time.
Date watched: January 26th
Film count 2018: 6
This is quite an interesting doco about the tune Apache, as covered by the Incredible Bongo Band, who consisted of a few great session musicians, brought together by a producer to supplement the soundtrack to the B-film The Thing With Two Heads (which looks INCREDIBLE, have to try and check that out). It went on to be sampled by hip hop pioneer Kool Herc a few years later. Instantly recognisable now of course. Gene Simmons narrates!
Date watched: 12th November
Film count 2017: 63
So many one-liners!
I felt like watching something random again, so this unauthorised documentary about Depeche Mode seemed like a good choice.
I am not a fan of Depeche Mode at all, and I am not into synth-pop, but this was still a fascinating look into the history of one of the biggest and most successful electronic music bands in the world (according to the documentary), and how they make their music.
There were interviews with various people involved with the band, and also with the likes of Thomas Dolby, Gary Numan, and Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, all three of whom were very interesting.
As this was unauthorised there were no interviews with the band members, except from archives. This did not feel like an unauthorised documentary though, there was no dirt or tales of debauchery, rather it was a respectful look into the history and music-making of the band. The lead vocalist did have a serious drug problem in the 90’s, but this was only very briefly touched upon. The band were pretty hardcore at one time when it came to rock ‘n’ roll excess, and I was reading that even Primal Scream could not keep up with them. As for me, I am quite happily addicted to music, films, and writing about them.
I am still not a fan of Depeche Mode, but I found this to be an interesting watch. As for my preferred synth bands, I quite like Chemical Brothers and Buck Futtons.
Date watched: November 21st
Film count 2017: 130
Browsing through YouTube for something to watch I found this 1943 propaganda film made by the U.S. government about the preparations for bombing raids over East Prussia (North east Germany). Something different for a change.
Like any other propaganda film it of course did not show the human side of war, we did not see any of the suffering of those that were ultimately injured or killed in the raids, although there was some footage of injured aircrew as they were taken off the planes. It was all told in documentary style and made us feel proud of the job the airforce boys did in those days.
I was quite surprised at just how much prepration went into the bombing raids, and the amount of detail they went into to make sure everything went swimmingly. The aircrews had about four hours of briefings where they were told about the weather, where they were likely to encounter flak, what type of bombs to use and how the fuses will be set, and a whole bunch of other things.
All of the people involved in the film were actual airforce people, from the generals down to the tail gunners. A lot of it was obviously staged with some pretty wooden acting, but some of them were actually quite good.
There was plenty of footage from the bombing raids which looked pretty nasty for the people in the factories being bombed, some of the explosions were huge.
Fascinating stuff if you like a bit of WWII history.
Date watched: November 17th
Film count 2017: 129
At almost three hours this is quite entertaining, typically Tarantino, lots of talking then lots of violence. Cartoon violence this time around but still very sickening. Jennifer Jason Leigh steals the show, she is tops as Daisy Domergue, the prisoner which causes a lot of the kerfuffle. All the actors really look like they had fun with this.
Date watched: 25th September
Film count 2017: 58
I found this on Netflix and had to watch it as I have fond memories of their first album back in the day, quite a big thing at the time.
This documentary follows the band as they get back together after a long time of ignoring each other and prepare first for a free gig in their hometown of Manchester, then a huge gig at Heaton park with 72,000 fans. In between all this it looks back on their early days as they tell the world they are the greatest band ever, give some very awkward interviews, start fighting with their record label, then each other, finally resulting in the inevitable split and not talking to each other. Why can’t people just get along?!
It is all very well done, and is a fascinating look into the world of music-making. What struck me the most though is that all of the band members are just regular guys, the kind of British chaps you would meet at the pub. They spoke in strong Manchester accents (I couldn’t understand the drummer at all hardly) and swore and larked about like anyone else. Four David Bowies or Mick Jaggers they are not. Which makes their music all the more impressive really: four ordinary-looking blokes making some of the best music the 90’s had to offer (from their first album).
It seems though that the band have basically split again, they played a gig in Glasgow in June this year where Ian Brown said “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened”, so it looks as though there will be another documentary in 20 years or so.
This is really only a watch for Stone Roses fans.
Date watched: November 2nd
Film count 2017: 123