My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999) James Belushi, Molly Shannon, Daryl Sabara, Liliana Mumy, Tress MacNeille. Dir: Isao Takahata.
The comic tales of a typical Japanese family. Pleasant animation made up of small sketches and vignettes, but without building towards anything. The humour is ok, but rather too familiar; it’s been done before, notably by The Simpsons. The watercolour animation is rather lovely.
Mesrine: Public Enemy No.1 (2009) Vincent Cassel, Ludivine Sagnier, Mathieu Amalric, Gérard Lanvin, Olivier Gourmet. Dir: Jean-François Richet.
Still on the loose, Mesrine embraces his notoriety as an anti-establish figure. As eventful as part one, but with darker notions of how the media can influence events. Mesrine decides he’s a rebel after he is painted as one, justifying further acts of criminality. Dark but compulsive viewing.
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James, Alfie Bass. Dir: Charles Crichton.
A meek bullion security supervisor comes up with a novel way to rob his own delivery. Delightful comedy caper; it has a warm gentle quality, but keeps up a strong pace. Guinness and Holloway are delightful as the unlikely criminals – you really want them to get away with it.
The Great McGinty (1940) Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff. Dir: Preston Sturges
An aggressive street bum is groomed by a local crook, first as a debt collector and then as a political candidate. Smart comedy with a surprisingly cynical view of politics for its day – the likeable crooked duo are undone by an act of honesty! The dialogue is killer.
Wall-E (2008) Ben Burt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger. Dir: Andrew Stanton.
The last robot on the abandoned planet earth gets an unexpected visitor. A brave effort from Pixar, the first half of the film is close to silent comedy, and the themes are surprisingly dark. Not all kids will appreciate, but adults who don’t, should get their heads examined. Quite remarkable.
Up! (2009) Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo. Dir: Pete Docter.
After his wife’s death, an old man ties balloons to his house and goes on the adventure they never had. An irresistible, full-on charm offensive, with less weighty themes than Wall-E, Pixar has room to be more carefree and silly; a real heart warmer.
Hue & Cry (1947) Alastair Sim, Harry Fowler, Douglas Barr, Joan Dowling, Jack Warner. Dir: Charles Crichton.
A boy discovers crimes from his comic book being enacted in real life, but no one believes him. Superb boy’s adventure – fast paced, exciting, funny and smart. The story is original and the genuine post war London scenes are fascinating to see.
The Magnet (1950) Stephen Murray, Kay Walsh, James Fox. Dir: Charles Frend
A boy steals another child’s magnet, causing a chain of events that make him think the police are after him. A strong start, but this one peters out and unlike many Ealing films, it’s more for just kids. But it’s charming, something kids’ films today fail to be.
It came from Hollywood (1982) Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong. Dir: Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt.
A mixture of film clips from low budget B movies, with linking sketches. Intermittently funny, but there’s no direction or any time devoted to the films themselves, which mostly remain unidentified. The linking material is completely forgettable.
A little late I know, but I had to take a short break away from writing anything borderline meaningful. It’s not much fun working in retail in the run up to Christmas, even when you’re selling sex products and bizarre treatments (nipple enhancement pump anyone?).
I went back to Stoke for Christmas; it was covered in snow so it looked all right for a change, and it was good at least for London detoxing (it’s not expensive, most people are friendly and not everyone in a hurry acts like a c**t). Had Christmas at my brothers instead of my Mum’s under the pretence that Al likes to cook and that it means she can relax. The real reason is that Mum cooks bloody everything in the microwave and doesn’t seem to understand that even though it says it has an oven function stuff cooked in a microwave tastes like crap. Who knew the menopause could do such damage to tastebuds.
After a pleasant day I then took up a spot on my Mum’s sofa and sat there for three days and watched television – film reviews to follow.
The enforced fun of New Year’s took place at the Irish Society Club in Reading, which surprisingly had no one there who was Irish, although there were quite a few people there I wouldn’t want to sit next to on a bus.*
Alas now it’s all over and I’m back to work and thoroughly hating it as normal. However there are some bright(ish) clouds on the horizon. Firstly, I’m going to spend a week visiting the offices in India (free trip!!!) and secondly, equally exciting, I’m going to hire myself an assistant in the next couple of weeks. The official title is Content Editor, although unofficially the title is Content Bitch.
is a writer for better and for worse. I got in above my station writing for M&S, but was credit crunched down to writing about sex toys, Viagra and herpes meds. I’m now taking a step back towards legitimacy by writing for JML Direct. I’m awkward and don’t like much.