Wednesday, 13 December 2006


USA: Woody Allen, 1987

Having worked my way through about two thirds of Woody Allen's prodigious body of work I finally sat down this evening to watch September. Renown for his penchant for re-shoots and his dissatisfaction with the finished product of his own films (Allen still maintains Manhattan should never have seen the light of day?!), Allen actually made September twice. Unhappy with the pacing of his original cut Allen recalled the cast and crew only to find several key actors tied to other projects. One man's pretension is another's genius. In any case, the end result is one of the most tightly structured and superbly performed chamber pieces this viewer has seen in a long time.

Very much a theatrical play put on celluloid September charts the yearnings, reflections and conflicts of a small group of family and friends as they see out the summer at a cottage in Vermont. Initially, offering refuge the cottage provides the intimate space needed for the diverse troupe to recuperate from the stresses and traumas of their individual lives. As is often the case in stories such as this the action is set over a period of a couple of days as the summer draws to an end and revelations inevitably bubble to the surface.

If you only enjoy Woody Allen the comedian then September isn't going to be for you. Allen's often-bold use of cinematic structure and his masterful repertoire of humorous quips are dispensed in favour of a much smaller canvas upon which a static but far deeper glare into the realism of our frailty is positioned.

Basically, if like me you found Allen's often criticised "serious" dramas such as Interiors and Another Woman intelligent and compelling you will find much to savour in this rich and brooding exploration of human emotions. Give it a try.

IMDB reference

Tuesday, 26 September 2006


USA: Paul McGuigan, 2006

I must confess to being less than inspired at the time Lucky Number Slevin was released theatrically here in the UK. The media buzz I heard from radio spots and television commercials centred on the film being an unassailably cool and hip gangster thriller, with rising heartthrob Josh Hartnett at the heart of its box office appeal. Needless to say, I felt this was a movie I could pass up on seeing in the theatre.

Anyway, my sister recently rented the DVD and couldn’t praise the film enough. It should be noted my elder sibling and I have massively different cinematic tastes but her enthusiasm was sufficient to make me sit down and give the disc a spin.

The first half hour or so left me cold. I found the deliberately quirky dialogue laboured to say the least and director Paul McGuigan’s dependence on flashy camera tricky – such as frenetic editing and CGI assisted elaborate crash zooms - is an aesthetic so overused in mainstream cinema nowadays as to render it bankrupt of both meaning and effect. However, once the intentionally Byzantine plot was established and the film settled into its dramatic arc, I found myself warming to the whole thing.

It is understandable as such heavy weight actors as Morgan Freedman (a personal favourite) and Sir Ben Kingsley, can light up even the most bog-standard and derivative material. Here they play opposing crime lords – Freedman is THE BOSS and Kingsley THE RABBI - entrenched in their very own ‘ivory towers’ and headlong into an all out war revolving around betrayal, murder and revenge.

Don’t worry the film realises its strength lies within its ingenious plot and not social commentary. Thus we are thankfully saved from clumsy political posturing in favour of a succession of red herrings and plot feints, as Josh Hartnett – the titular SLEVIN – moves from unsuspecting victim to major puppet master: cue fast action flashback montage. To say anymore at this point would spoil the fun of the film.

So whilst I can’t be as whole heartily over zealous as my sister, I would say Lucky Number Slevin does merit attention, in that, by its close it executes a twist laden plot with aplomb and confidence. It falls short of excellence because it takes to long to settle in to its story and unsuccessfully endeavours to be cooler and cleverer than it is necessary.

IMDB reference


My Movie Checklist

Taking inspiration from my good pal Capt. Whiggles I have decided to set-up another new section called the “Screening Log”. See Michael's screening log at(

Essentially, these entries will act as an archive for every film I have watched since Tuesday 26/09/2006. So it is hoped in time a record will be built up, acting as a quick reference guide to the films I have seen and my thoughts on them.

I shall give each film a rating out of five and include basic reference details - such as the film’s director, the country of its origin and its date of release – to assist those interested in seeking out the film. Time constraints permitting I will also include a few lines on each film by way offering a very quick evaluation of the film in question. If an entry is for a film I have watched before the title will be preceded with (*).

Where applicable I shall include links to reviews, features, essays etc that I have written on particular films and this aspect of the Screening Log will be continually updated.
Please note: I intend to maintain this section as much as time and inclination allow. Therefore, for the purpose of clarity it is worth acknowledging that the date upon which I screened any given film may sometimes differ from the corresponding post’s publish date.

If you would like any further information on any of these films please leave a comment detailing your query. Likewise please feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas on this section or the entries therein.


The Count

Monday, 18 September 2006


Another year on, I am a wizened 27 year-old.

Saturday, 16 September 2006


For a birthday treat my girlfriend took me to see the utterly chilling play based on Susan Hill's novel WOMAN IN BLACK. Recommended.

Score: 10/10

Saturday, 26 August 2006


Heading of with the family to Scotland on our hols, girlfriend flying out to meet us up there. Good times.

Friday, 11 August 2006

CARS ***½

USA: John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, 2006

IMDB reference

Sunday, 30 July 2006


To usher in the new 2006/2007 football season a group of us left the ladies to prepare Sunday dinner and checked out Tottenham's pre-season form against Internazionale. White Hart Lane served up an entertaining 2-2 all draw if memory serves me correct (old age).

Saturday, 15 July 2006


aka: Pirates of the Caribbean - Part 2
USA: Gore Verbinski, 2006

IMDB reference

Friday, 7 April 2006


Original Title: Sei donne per l'assassino
aka: Six Women for the Murderer
Italy/France/Monaco: Mario Bava, 1964

IMDB reference


USA: Otto Preminger, 1959

IMDB reference

Monday, 20 February 2006


Original Title: I tre volti della paura
aka: The Three Faces of Fear
Italy/France/USA: Mario Bava and Salvatore Billitteri, 1963

IMDB reference


Original Title: La maschera del demonio
aka: The Mask of Satan
Italy: Mario Bava, 1960

IMDB reference

Sunday, 12 February 2006

Friday, 10 February 2006


USA/Canada/France: Steven Spielberg, 2005

IMDB reference

Thursday, 9 February 2006


Having been big on the band back in the day I set off with a mate and my brother-in-law to Sheffield to see if the notorious brothers Gallagher could still turn it on live... they could.

Sunday, 5 February 2006


USA/Germany: Bruce Hunt, 2005

IMDB reference

Saturday, 14 January 2006


New Zealand/USA/Germany: Peter Jackson, 2005

IMDB reference