Friday, 7 March 2008


The credits for this curve ball of a movie are dazzling. Their infectious indie spirit and deployment of Sufjan Steven's signature font style, drew me straight in to Juno's quirky universe. The dialogue was smart and sassy.It spun on loyalty,love and betrayal with genuine spirit. There were also some deft moments of cinematography;the shot of a traumatised Juno,pulling over on the highway to come to terms with the break up of her chosen surrogate family for her child, was particularly effective, employing its high angle to suggest the long road ahead and a burdened freight train rolling on also added labour to the journey.The film contains a troubling sequence involving the viewing of a horror movie in the middle of its rom-com-drama territory which powerfully suggests disturbance and hatred in the middle of love.It gives the film edge and menace.

There were also amusing sequences of boys running in phalanxes that suggested the pack like mentality of the male and the tide of adolescence circling the world. The film worked for me on several levels unlike "Little Miss Sunshine' ,which seemed deeply contrived at its core, this film possessed an idiosyncratic heart beating strongly after the closing credits rolled. Good use too of 'Sea of Love' to suggest turbulance, change and people trying their best in unexpected circumstances.See it.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

It was a pleasure to listen to this movie.The crocodile jawed Sorkin dialogue constantly ripping the ears and chewing the brain cells.I also enjoyed the chance to see something enduringly adult and brash in its glamour versus world affairs schtick.Other plesaures - the pleasure - included Philip Seymour Hoffmann barking and snapping at Hank's heels and providing the film's frustrated moral core.Then there was Julia Roberts,who but for the cruel twisted fate of birthplace would obviously share my name....that smile, those intelligent,knowing,kicked around but not down eyes;enough.

It was also fascinating to observe the policy play and drift of human influence over time.Loved the story on the balcony echanged between Hoffmann and Hanks.A classic piece of homily and humanity from Sorkin.

But what about Hanks? I never truly believed in him as a party animal and that took the edge off the film's wonder and darkness.Oh Hollywood, how you fear the rank sweat of the real world at your  own cost and the audience's presence.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Breaking Away

There's something deeply honest and cinematically gorgeous about Peter Yate's 'Breaking Away'(1979). The close shot of the father startled by his son's progression into adulthood is a classic moment of resolution and hope,tinged with humour and that tingling sense of a continuing story.As a child the experience of cinemagoing was always enlivened by the ability to wait in your seat and rejoin the film as it played for the next showing. This sense of 'knowing' the characters and their world and greeting them like old friends is lost in today's screen(screaming?) universe where people leave before the credits are complete and shuffle away from the final scene as if leaving an accident site.
'Breaking Away' has a wholeness and sense of audience involvement at its heart that still touches ,particularly in its presentation of a father and son relationship. The exploration of the father's journey - his returning to 'cut' stone and connect with his own past being an essential part of the film's back story/backbone.I guess it will struggle for an audience over time,however if you have yet to see it then make that time.It will reconnect for you,too.Plus you get to see the young Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern wisecracking away the pain of adolescence pretending it doesn't hurt......

What is striking about the film now is its 

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Actually - a masterpiece?

Is 'Love Actually', actually a genuinely great British movie and unfairly media maligned with its three star cachet?

 Consider the iconic use of Bill Nighy in a performance that deliberately satirises the film's theme, setting up both its humorous credentials and one of its most endearing explorations of the power of love - devotion to what others view as a lost cause. The film's ending where ordinary people meet and greet at an airport,extending the film's happy ending to one achingly possible for its own audience, seems inspired by a passage in Ian McEwan's 'Enduring Love'.In McEwan's vision of this scenario the process becomes dehumanised by repetition, in Curtis' film it sets the seal on his  avowedly  determined 9/11 response - that human connections,based on love and trust, forever define our hopes and dreams,representing the best we have to offer.

The movie has reference points for discussion that must play endlessly in universities and workplaces where some take Andrew Lincoln as a hero and others as a destructive nuisance.As time goes by I see its status increasing as 'A Great Escape' or 'Italian Job', a movie that will somehow define its sense of time and place more and more.The way 'Love Actually'  nails Blair's greatest mistake and returns to its audience,his audience, a primeminster who fights for integrity rather than posterity, will forever be associated with a sense of momentary wish fulfillment that will always make viewers wistful.

Its ambition,scope and clever political undertow makes this movie both deeply hopeful and a classic - looking out of the car window as it rains hoping for something better type of experience - that always earns this viewers imaginative engagement.