Wednesday, 30 December 2009


I really don't see enough new films each year to do a "Top Twenty" of the year's releases so I'm following the example of THE LAND OF CERPTS AND HONEY and making a list of the films I have seen during the year for the first time and enjoyed most. The list is not in order of preference - it's not in any order.

1. MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2006) Clint Eastwood's female boxing saga which turns out to be
not the film you are expecting.
2. THE HAPPENING (2OO8) Not Night's best movie by a long way but odd enough to keep him
in my sights as one of the most interesting directors in Hollywood.
3. MILK (2008) Gus Van Sant's biographical drama about activist Harvey Milk featuring a
deservedly oscar winning performance by Sean Penn.
4. GRAN TORINO (2009) Clint Eastwood again takes our expectations to the limit and then
whips the carpet out from under us.
5. DEATH PROOF (2007) Minor but ridiculously enjoyable trash from Quentin Tarantino.
6. SOMMARLEK/Summer Interlude (1951) Early Bergman winner.
7. SANTO Y BLUE DEMON CONTRA LOS MONSTRUOS (1965) Bizarre, colourful, engaging
nonsense from the Mexican fantasy factory.
8. CHANGELING (2009) Clint Eastwood's disturbing child abduction drama.
9. AND STARRING PANCHO VILLA AS HIMSELF (2006) Bruce Beresford recreates one of
the most bizarre events in film history.
10. FROST/NIXON (2009) Reconstruction of the David Frost/Richard Nixon interviews with
two great actors - Langella and Sheen - going head to head.
11. THE AVIATOR (2004) Scorsese 's biog of Howard Hughes.
12. APPALOOSA (2007) A classic Western that ticks all the boxes.
13. TAKEN (2008) Pierre Morrel's kick arse thriller.
14. LAT DEN RATTE KOMATA IN/Let the Right One In (2008) Brilliant Swedish horror
that sets new standards.
15. JUDEX (1963) Georges Franju's recreation of the classic Feuillade serial.
16. LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (2008) Clint Eastwood yet again with the famous battle
seen from the Japanese viewpoint.
17. PLANET TERROR (2007) Robert Rodriguez's homage to the zombie flick.
18. AMERICAN GANGSTER (2008) Another great movie from Ridley Scott.
19. THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (1963) Strange Polish surrealist fantasy .
20. THE DEPARTED (2008) Martin Scorsese's crime drama.
21. DESERTO ROSSO/The Red Desert (1964) Great but undervalued Antonioni.

Runners Up : THE MONSTER (1925), SERVICE DE LUXE (1938), POOL OF LONDON (1951)


With no less than four titles
in my top twenty
I declare

Never expected that...well did ya, punk?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


The term "film noir" is bandied about a lot these days and nonchalantly applied to, it seems, almost any crime film made in black and white before 1960 . Although the term had its origins in France it is essentially an American phenomenon its roots being traceable back to European origins. These days we can identify films as "post noir" or "neo noir" - films which conform to noirish conventions without actually becoming a pastiche of the genre - I'm thinking here particularly of the French gangster films of Jean-Pierre Melville of the early films of John Dahl. Genuine British noir is a rare bird but it seems to me that Basil Dearden's POOL OF LONDON ticks all the right boxes. Two merchant seamen, one white and one black, dock in London. The white (American actor Bonar Colleano) has a little sideline in contraband and is offered the chance to make some money delivering a package to Amsterdam. Unwittingly he becomes involved in, and the main suspect, for a murder committed during a heist. The plot follows Colleano, the robbers and the black sailor - played without any of the racial stereotyping so usual in the films of the period by West Indian actor Earl Camerobas he slowly gets drawn into his friends difficulties. The film even explores the obvious romantic pull between Cameron and the girl who works in the music hall (played by Susan Shaw) which is seen as doomed by the social racism of the time and depicted in a way far more subtle than you might expect. The film manages to be tense, atmospheric and exciting with first class performances throughout (look out for Alfie Bass as a safecracker) and benefts from being shot almost entirely on location in London with trams, trolley buses, pubs, dance halls and music halls all bringing back memories of a now nearly vanished London. Rating ****

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Jennifer Jones R.I.P.

Jennifer Jones

Friday, 4 December 2009

RICHARD TODD 1919-2009

Nice tribute from SparkyGerbil on YouTube to British actor and War Hero, Richard Todd, who starred in the classic THE DAM BUSTERS, Hitchcock's STAGEFRIGHT, Disney's THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD and with Ronald Reagan in THE HASTY HEART. Todd was also one of the first troops to parachute into France on D-Day 1944 and one of the Paratroopers who held Pegasus Bridge. This event was recreated in the film THE LONGEST DAY with Todd playing one of his own commanding officers. R.I.P.