Tag Archives: Movies

So many movies for you

Hello you crazy kids. If you’re in the UK reading this, I hope you’re coping with the national lockdown. We’ve been spending it watching some absolutely belting movies.

I’ve got two International Oscar Showdowns for you today. First up was the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men – a dark, brooding remake of Raising Arizona (not even joking) – up against Austrian concentration camp movie The Counterfeiters. This was one of the hardest Oscar Showdowns to call so far – two absolutely cracking films.

The second showdown was between Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and a German film set in the GDR about the Stasi spying on anyone who didn’t toe the communist line, called The Lives Of Others. That one was rather easier to pick a winner!

The 2007 Oscar winners for Best Picture and Best Foreign-Language Film were The Departed and The Lives Of Others

Both of these, along with the rest of the series, you can browse on my sister site, https://internationaloscarshowdown.wordpress.com/

Thanks again for reading!

Meanwhile, here’s the podcast I was on with Juan Carlos Ojano from the Philippines, discussing Italian movie Life Is Beautiful – which you should watch before you listen, because I don’t want to spoil it!

Take it easy, all. And stay safe,

Tim

New Oscar Showdowns

Hello everyone. I hope you’re OK…

I was going to write something about the state of the coronavirus lockdowns and the perpetual mismanagement of our response to the virus in the UK, but do you know what? I just hope you’re OK.

As further restrictions begin to spread, region by region (at least in Britain), you might find you’ve some more time to spend reading CONTENT, and boy, do I have some content for you. The International Oscar Showdown continues to garner a great response, so I’ll keep writing them for you movie fans out there.

Two new articles in the series have been published this month. 2010 saw Iraq-occupation drama The Hurt Locker up against Argentinian crime thriller The Secret In Their Eyes – and one of the closest match-ups I’ve written so far.

More recently, I posted 2009’s showdown between British movie Slumdog Millionaire and Japanese comedy-drama Departures. Both concerned with fatalism, they otherwise had very little in common, but so far one of the stand-out years with two really good films.

I mentioned before being asked to do a podcast to talk about Life Is Beautiful – my God, that is such a lovely, gut-wrenching film. Well, we did the recording last week, and I’m told by the producer of The One-Inch Barrier that it will be up in the next week or so. Prepare yourselves for my dulcet tones!

Thanks for reading this stuff, by the way. Seeing my reading figures go up always makes me happy. I hope you’ve also found your way into some films you’d not come across before. That’s definitely been a boon for me!

Anyway, stay safe, stop shaking hands, no kissing at the back, and enjoy the films…

Tim

Publishing and podcasts

Morning all, and happy Monday!

There’s a new International Oscar Showdown up, pitting The King’s Speech against Danish film In A Better World, which is basically comparing historical accuracy with fictional melodrama. Check it out here.

I’ve also set up a dedicated website for the International Oscar Showdown reviews, with brief intros to each year’s match-up and links to them so you can read on Medium for free. That way, if you enjoyed one, you can go back to the landing page and pick another easily.

Here’s the dedicated website: https://internationaloscarshowdown.wordpress.com

Excitingly, the review series caught the attention of one podcast producer who does deep-dives into the foreign-language Oscar category, and has asked me onto the show to talk about the 1998 winner Life is Beautiful, which we’re recording next month. Keep an eye out for that!

In the meantime, stay safe, be well, and have a gin & tonic.

Cheers

Another Oscar Showdown

Hello everyone. Just a quick post to tell you about the latest International Oscar Showdown. The latest instalment reviews the winners from 2012 – comparing The Artist with Iranian film A Separation.

It’s been a real eye-opener writing this series, not least learning about Iran’s stringent film censorship, and how filmmakers from the country rely on metaphor, obfuscation and hyper-reality to get their viewpoints past the censors.

What’s more, filmmakers in Iran frequently face incarceration for breaching these rules of religious propriety. One award-winning director, Mohammad Rasoulof, has been sentenced to a year in prison for “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic State in his recent film There Is No Evil. Rasoulof has been banned from leaving the country or joining any groups or societies for two years.

So it is remarkable that a film like A Separation by fellow Iranian director Asghar Farhadi manages to shine a light on the nation’s frustratingly bureaucratic systems of justice or the needlessly restrictive notions of religious female sanctity.

Anyway, it’s a good movie, and you should watch it.

In a slight change of the format, I’ve gone back and added trailers at the end of all the review articles, so you can get an instant idea of the aesthetic and tone of the films, if you haven’t yet seen them.

Click here to read the latest Showdown!

Carpentry and criticism

Good day to you all! I hope you are well, and enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with good humour. Strange times, strange times indeed…

I’ve been filling my time – between work and my family – with some carpentry projects, recently. I built a dining table over the last couple of weeks (see the picture above), with an iroko worktop to match our kitchen, and will be making two benches with the same materials in the coming weeks. It’s been fun!

We have used it once for dinner, and we didn’t even end up on the floor. Success!

cof
cof

I also made this tiered herb planter for the garden, which remains standing, though we have had less luck actually growing plants in it. Still, it looks nice.

Meanwhile, Swarns and I continue our odyssey through the Oscars, and recently deliberated between 2013’s Best Picture winner – Argo – and its Best Foreign-Language Film counterpart – Amour.

It was fun to figure out what doesn’t sit right with Argo, and wonder how it got the top gong, and I kept coming back to Mission: Impossible for its amazing Langley vault scene, and – less well known – the Denzel Washington movie Out Of Time. There’s an amazing sequence in that movie where Denzel – the chief of police – has unwittingly committed a crime, and must obfuscate the evidence as it emerges in the police station, frantically intercepting faxes, modifying phone records and getting identified by a doddery old lady who has trouble telling black men apart.

It’s top-quality suspense, and it involves a fax machine. Brilliant.

There’s just not the same wit in Affleck’s movie.

Anyway, here’s my review of Argo and Amourhave a read!

2013

 

International Oscar Showdown – 2015

Good morning lovelies. I know you’ve all been clamouring for more retrospective Oscars reviews, so here you are, you lucky devils!

The 2015 winners make for an interesting duel. On the one hand there’s Birdman, Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – [yes, that it is its full title] – a movie about a Hollywood actor trying to make something artistic and meaningful, and failing.

Up against it is arthouse movie Ida, a serious, dour, black & white film about an orphaned nun confronting her Jewish roots in 1960s Poland.

I mean, come on! It’s a little on the nose, isn’t it?

Anyway, you can read the review here.

Do comment if you enjoy the review, or even disagree with my analysis! I would love to hear from you.

All the best, you maniacs x

Tim

International Oscar Showdown – 2016

Hello movie fans!

I haven’t done an Oscar Showdown for a long time, mostly because we started watching the 2016 winner of Best Foreign-Language Feature, Son of Saul, and had to stop half way for some reason. Thing is, I couldn’t muster the resolve to return to it for almost two months…

For those of you (most of you?) who aren’t familiar with this Hungarian movie, Son of Saul is probably the most harrowing depiction of Auschwitz ever committed to film. It is an astonishing piece of cinema, while being extremely difficult to watch.

I recommend it, though it’s difficult to recommend a good time to watch it. It’s like Schindler’s List, or Citizen Kane… or trying to get Swarns to watch the Godfather trilogy. You can’t just say “oh, do you fancy watching this Hungarian holocaust film?” – it is not a whim movie.

Anyway, I reviewed that and Spotlight for the 2016 International Oscar Showdown – if only Mad Max: Fury Road had won, eh? I don’t know what the Academy is up to, sometimes, I really don’t.

I’ll continue to post links to the Medium post via my Twitter feed, because clicking through to Medium from Twitter is free for you, my lovely, lovely readers.

 

I hope you all are well and staying sane. Wash your hands, black lives matter, Johnson out, and all that jazz…

Big love xx

Tim

International Oscar Showdown – 2018 & 2017

Hello again!

If, like me, you have a bit more time on your hands for some reason, why not spend it reading about movies? Remember the cinema? No, me neither.

I’ve continued my look back at previous Oscar years to see if – prior to this year’s trailblazing winner Parasite – any other winner of Best Foreign-Language Feature really ought to have beaten whatever won Best Picture that year.

In the first review, Roma beat Green Book hands down, but can Chilean transphobia movie A Fantastic Woman beat weird gothic romance The Shape of Water? And can Iranian domestic drama The Salesman overcome gay coming-of-age movie Moonlight?

I’ll continue to post links to the Medium post via my Twitter feed, because clicking through to Medium from Twitter is free for you, my lovely, lovely readers.

Hope you enjoy the read. And all the movies are cracking, so seek them out if you can.

Hope you are all well and staying safe.

Much love

Tim

International Oscar Showdown!

Hello!

Would you like something to read that isn’t about Deadly Pandemics; or how to manage working from home while raising children during a quarantine; or ideal hand-washing methods and the perfect ditties to hum while scrubbing your digits?

ME TOO

So I started this movie review series, inspired by Bong Joon-ho’s groundbreaking triumph at this year’s Oscars. Parasite was the first non-English-language movie to win Best Picture, which is crazy!

So, I wanted to go back and see how many times the Best International Feature Film was objectively superior to whatever the Anglosphere managed to serve up.

Thought I’d run this in reverse-chronological order, which brought up the hilarious comparison between Green Book and Roma.

Have a look here!

 

 

Please press the clap button if you have a Medium account. You can applaud up to 50 times, apparently, though I’m not sure it deserves that many clicks, frankly.

Hope you are all well and staying safe.

Much love

Tim

Rewriting Return of the Jedi

[UPDATE – I have tried my hand at rewriting Rogue One‘s most irksome scene]

I recently read this post by Albert Burneko about how Return of the Jedi spoiled the original Star Wars trilogy by seeking to legitimise Vader’s actions and make him out to be a redeemable, conflicted and ultimately loving estranged father figure.

The article is in equal measure funny and analytically astute, and well worth a read.

Indeed, hidden amongst the comments, Burneko argues that Vader’s transition from heel to hero should never have been the climax of Return of the Jedi at all. And when someone asks him “How do you wrap up the saga? What’s your rewrite?” he responds with an elegant and rather more satisfying ending to the original trilogy.

I include that comment here, because I wanted to share it, and it was too long to tweet an image of it, and too obscured below the line to simply leave a reply commending it.

And so, imagine Jedi if it ended thusly:

Continue reading Rewriting Return of the Jedi