A relatively quiet two weeks was had by all associated with the Film Diary (so that's just me then), so this week's edition is a bumper two week Summer Special. And why is it so special? Because it's not summer yet, obviously. Read on for twelve more additions to the sprawling beast that is this experiment in self-important "journalism" (including one familiar title)... For anyone who missed it, heres the skinny. Basically, what Im presenting here is my attempt to chart a whole years worth of film-watching something I have wanted to do for some time now. The aim is to post frequently, chronicling every film I watch this year both offering reviews and setting myself the ultimate goal of watching (and writing about) as many films as humanly possible, without abandoning the necessary functions of normal existence...Film #47 Easy ASee my full review here.Film #48 Ghost Town
Before spoiling his perfect record with The Invention of Lying- by the way the most horribly unsubtle title of the past few years- Ricky Gervais had the potential to be a good, if slightly atypical leading man: he certainly has the charm, and has got to be better looking than Kevin James at the very least. Obviously we don't talk about either of the Night At The Museum films. Ghost Town confirms Gervais' potential- the almost Woody Allen-like mood perfectly accentuates his own particular brand of comic charisma. Score: 4/5 Film #49 It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Classic caper fun, though it does somewhat insist on its own grandeur, which is pretty understandable considering the hugely impressive cast list. I actually prefer the remake (Rat Race) because it feels a lot more concise, but there is a lot of fun to be had chasing Spencer Tracy and a cavalcade of comic stars across America in one of the biggest ensemble movies ever committed to screen. Seriously, it's epic. It also features one of the best closing credits sequences I've ever seen, as the names jostle over top billing in a move that must surely have stuck its tongue firmly in its cheek and echoed the reality of so many superstars trying to coexist. Score: 3/5 Film #50 Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels The film that launched a thousand copy-cat Cock-er-nee plastic gangster flicks is a lot cleverer than it is given credit for more often than not. It is hilarious, and despite the slightly po-faced, misplaced serious nature of its copy-cat followers it is as self-aware and self-referential as Taranino's best meta-films. It might toe the line a little too closely to revelling in its glorified violence, but it is a surprisingly adroit study in urban sub-cultures (in the tribes of the criminal underworld predominantly) and nothing is particularly obligatory. And who can argue with such an immediate legacy? Every film that came out in the wake of Lock, Stock... that even partly resembled it was no longer spoke of in terms of its relevance to modern British gangster films, of which there were many before Guy Ritchie began to make films, instead it would be spoke of solely in comparison to Ritchie's debut. Any film that can supercede a whole genre in its relative position to every film that follows it deserves some kind of heady appreciation. Here's a trivia question for you- what the hell happened to Nick Moran? Score: 4/5 Film #51 When Saturday ComesRead my full review here.Film #52 Paranormal Activity 2Read my full review here.Film #53 Dinner For Schmucks
Initially I wasn't hugely sold on this remake of the French farce, and it would probably have achieved a lower score than I have awarded it here on the back of my cinematic viewing, but on returning to the DVD I'm rather more sold. I think I was simply underwhelmed- the concept and the cast suggested a lot of potential, but the genuinely funny moments are quite far apart, and there are some which fall badly flat in between. The problem, I felt was that the film purports to have some grand ideas about the culture of celebrating idiocy and human relationships, but fails in its presentation of them because of its commitment to downright silliness. But, having returned to the film I found a lot more to enjoy, particularly when Carrell and Rudd shared the screen with either Zach Galifianakis or Jemaine Clement. The tone is still all over the place, and it is impossible to empathise with anyone- because they are either so distasteful or so bloody silly, but it does work as a situational farce all the same. Score: 3.5/5 Film #54 Alice in Wonderland
What exactly has happened to the Diamond Edition series? I was under the impression that that series was superseding the now redundant Platinum Edition series, and taking a three disc format (two blu-ray discs and a DVD version of the film). But this year, as well as the Bambi Diamond edition that came out earlier this month and the forthcoming Lion King Diamond edition, we have had both Fantasia & Fantasia 2000 and now Alice in Wonderland as simple commemorative Special Editions. Obviously Disney are differentiating the versions, as the Special Editions are released as Anniversary re-releases, but as a collector I crave uniformity, and if I suspect that these Special Editions will eventually themselves be re-released on Blu-ray as Diamond Editions I will be mighty disgruntled. But then, I'll go and buy the bloody things anyway. And to complicate matters even further- there are also the New Release Blu-rays like Princess & The Frog and Tangled which land in a selection of editions, ranging up to the four disc Blu-ray which I tend to go for, and the Pixar Blu-ray treatments that sort of come under the same banner, but also sort of don't. My collection doesn't know what's hit it. Anyway, the blu-ray transfer is still beautiful, and well worth the cover price (even at £19.99). I think Alice in Wonderland is one of the most cruelly over-looked of the Disney Classics in comparison to those deemed ground-breaking like Snow White, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, and actually deserves to be considered as one of the Mouse House's best. Score: 4.5/5 Film #55 Saw: The Final ChapterSee my full review here.Film #56 Jurassic Park
On the back of Oliver Pfeiffer's excellent Stanley Kubrick article, I was talking the other day to an equally nerdy friend about who we would class as the greatest living director still working in Hollywood. He suggested Spielberg, and for some reason I had difficulty accepting it. And yet, when I go through his films, there are very few I would class as anything other than excellent, and even in quite a few cases, obsession affirming- E.T. in particular imprinted indelibly upon me a love of grand, broadly entertaining movies and if pressed I would suggest that it was the experience of seeing Jurassic Park at the cinema that really confirmed my love of the theatre of cinema. So I'm taking this opportunity to change my stance- I seriously value Spielberg's work: he consistently offers hits, ignoring the usually stultifying effect of working across a broad range of genres (Amistad is as good as Saving Private Ryan which is as good as Close Encounters of The Third Kind) and even his critically less loved films (Indiana Jones 4) still make impossibly huge amounts of money. Jurassic Park is one of those films I wish I could discover new every time I watch it- it is chocked full hugely affecting moments that blew my mind first time round- the first appearance of the dinos, the T-Rex attack, Mr Arnold's arm to name but a few- and the soundtrack is still my favourite even 17 years later. Score: 4.5/5 Film #57 Iron Man I know, I've already watched it once. But I actually forgot and went and rented it again anyway. And this is while owning it. Twice. I think I have memory issues. Score: 4/5 Film #58 The Wackness
An understated Sir Ben Kingsley performance usually means a very good film,unless it is Sexy Beast of course, and in The Wackness the great man is brilliant as a suicidal psychologist wrestling with his mid-life identity crisis and the realisation that his effervescent love affair with his wife has fizzled out horribly and they can barely exist together any more. Throw in an equally great performance by Josh Peck (incredibly the very same guy from Drake & Josh), and a perfectly suited soundtrack that evokes the summer of 1994 with impressively lucid authenticity. It's a coming of age story, so it's right up my street, but it is far more cool than its socially awkward lead character, and almost everyone on show, including Mary-Kate Olsen (in a fleeting cameo), is brilliant. Score: 4/5 Previous EntriesFilm #1 Big & Film #2 Toy Story 3Film #3 Around the World in Eighty Days & Film # 4 EnchantedFilm #5 Iron Man, Film #6 The Incredible Hulk & Film # 7 The IncrediblesFilm #8 The Simpsons MovieFilm #9 Tron LegacyFilm #10 The King's SpeechFilms #11- 25Films #26-35Films 36-46 (11th- 23rd Feb)
We need more writers about Iron Man, Ghost-Town, Jurassic Park, Alice in Wonderland, Paranormal Activity 2, Dinner For Schmucks, Easy A, When Saturday Comes, Saw: The Final Chapter, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and The Wackness! Get started below...