Thursday 2 February 2012

Here it comes at last - 'Ray's Report on Recently Released Films' - seen Jan 2012

The 'Raybeard' award for 'Film of the Month' goes to.................. 'HUGO' - with a score of 8/10.
Congratulations to all concerned - but especially to Mr S.
Well done, Sir!

Other contenders, in datal order of viewing were:-

Mission Impossible: Ghost protocol  (7)  
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows  (5)
The Artist  (7)
The Iron Lady  (7.5)
Shame  (6.5) 
Coriolanus (7)
J.Edgar (5)
Haywire (6)

Now an additional word or two on some of them:-

'THE ARTIST' - very original (at least for the 21st century!), brilliantly executed though the storyline rather thin and predictable. But overall, it's definitely a remarkable and memorable film.

'THE IRON LADY' - nothing at all to complain about in Ms Streep (voice, especially, uncannily accurate). If anyone wants to see it as some sort of true account of the times they'll be misled. Very broad brush-strokes, but so what? - it's a film for entertainment, not a documentary!  Apart from a brief period of the Falklands victory celebrations it looked as if the entire country was in the grip of non-stop anti-Thatcher riots.This was actually far from the case. She did, after all, win three successive General Elections  (despite my own efforts in voting against her and her party in not only these three but every single local and European election during her terms!) Slightly disappointed that so much time was devoted to Mrs T in her present state of dotage - and could have done with a tad more political cut-and-thrust in her life as a politician, but what we got was more than admirable. A fine achievement of a film.

'CORIOLANUS' - I'm probably one of not many who know the play reasonably well, having read it at least a dozen times, though never seen it on stage.  The updated setting worked effectively and the savage but necessary cutting of the Bard's text (by well more than half) was judiciously done, clarifying and making more sense of the story.  Both Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler (the latter looking as hot as he ever has) play very well. Although it's true that Vanessa Redgrave is a blisteringly dominating presence whenever on screen (you just can't take your eyes of her!) I do wish that she, of all people, could have been more audibly articulate. There were times when she seemed to be mouthing the words with no sound coming out at all. We had to be lip-readers! Overall, though, a good, high recommendation.

'J. EDGAR' - It saddens me to say that a Clint Eastwood film could have been better, but I didn't think there was anything really special about this one. On specifics, although Leo d/C can be a good actor, I think he was miscast in this film. He doesn't have enough gravitas to carry off the role of what was, essentially, a megalomaniac monster. (More 'oomph' needed! Broderick Crawford in the 1977 film 'The Private Files of J.Edgar Hoover' did have the required heft and physical bulk.) Also, the prosthetics covering his natural baby-looking face in order to present us with the aged Hoover, were not that successful - actually distracting, in fact. But they were as nothing compared to those given to the Clyde Tolson character, who looked positively embalmed! Most disturbing. Also, I find it difficult to see Judi Dench popping up nowadays all over the place in widely differing roles. She always gives a very good performance, but I can't now see her acting without seeing her more as an actress playing a role. (I'm also afraid of seeing the marvellous Helen Mirren going the same way.)

'HAYWIRE' - reasonable but also forgettable. By the time it got round to the 'this explains all what's gone before' final few minutes I didn't really care and couldn't be bothered with following it. Having said that, it did have its share of quite entertaining 'moments'. 

And a final word on this month's winner, 'HUGO'. Even though I only saw it in the 2-D version I could see that it was something special within the first minute or so. I even forgave the cliched accordion on the soundtrack (and which we actually glimpse) - Hint: This is Paris, FRANCE! Ooh La la!
The visual style did make me think of another exceptional film of recent years, the 'genuinely' French film 'Amelie' , which, I loved, though I'm aware that it has its detractors. But 'Hugo' was a thrill from start to finish, with very fine acting throughout, including Sacha Baron-Cohen who, after his memorable turn in 'Sweeney Todd', continues to surprise me with his versatility. I don't expect to see many more films this year as good as 'Hugo' - and will be lucky to see one significantly better. A jolly good film - and from me (who has never given a perfect 10 to any film) a score of 8/10 is an accolade indeed.

Till my report on February's films, then - THAT'S ALL FOLKS!



  1. I like the reviews.
    I actually agree with you on the ones I've seen, The Iron Lady and J.Edgar.

    You might be my go to place for recommendations.

    1. Thanks for that, Bob. I'm very flattered - but don't rely on me TOO much. They are very personal reactions and, sooner or later, I may say something that will make your opinion of my reviews collapse like a house of cards. But I hope that doesn't happen for a long time yet.

  2. Thanks, Ray. I haven't watched any of these. I'm gonna look for the first five.

    1. Thanks to you too, Tai. When you catch any on my list please put what you think either on your own blog or as a further comment here. I await your opinion(s) with keen interest.

      Btw: If you catch any of these will they be dubbed into Vietnamese or will they be shown with subtitles in your language? I, personally, cannot stand dubbing. Give me subtitles every time!

    2. I so agree with you Ray. The majority of people seem to prefer dubbing, but like you I say, give me subtitles every time.

    3. Yes, Paul. I think the thought of having to make an effort to read subtitles puts a lot of people off and makes them lazy. And this idea that you might miss some action on the screen while you're reading doesn't hold up. It doesn't take long for the eyes to adjust to taking it all in - and it's a much more enriching experience, getting closer to the film's original intention.
      BUT - and it's a big 'but', in subtitles I do get annoyed with difficult-to-read language such as "Couldna" for "Couldn't" and "Should've" for "Should have". It often looks so odd that it's distracting and actually slows one's reading down.

    4. Oh Ray, for English speaking movies, I prefer subtitled versions. I rarely watch dubbed ones except I couldn't find any other versions.

      By the way, I could only find Logan's Run in Italian subtitled in English.

    5. Glad to hear that, Tai. I knew you were a person with intelligence and taste.

      Well, I suppose an Italian-sounding 'Logan's Run' is better than none at all. I think the idea of the film (and original book) was more intriguing than the film itself turned out to be. Certainly not a BAD film but, for me, one to be seen only the once.

  3. I almost missed "Hugo" but read so much about it that I had to see it. And as most people recommended, I saw it in 3D. This movie was made for this process. You just can't imagine the depth shown. Everything was so awesome. If you can, I hope you will be able to see it in 3D - it is quite an experience, one that will stay in your memory.

    1. Paul, if I had the chance to see 'Hugo' again, but in 3-D, I'd jump at it. However, it's unlikely as it's now disappeared from off our local cinema circuit. It was only my lack of resources that held me back from doing it.
      But even in the 'flat' version, almost right through I was consciously trying to imagine what it would be like seeing it as you did, though nothing would come close to the real thing, of course. But I'm not giving up yet.

  4. Paul, I only noticed this morning your kind comment of yesterday on my previous blog. I've now acknowledged it there. Thanks.

  5. Replies
    1. DO if the chance comes your way, Dr Spo. And if you're not impressed then you have every right to kick me up mine. (Ref: - which I know YOU would have got - Cole Porter's 'Brush Up your Shakespeare'.)

  6. Love this time of year for this reason. Everyone starts talking about the films they see. Thanks for the perceptions Ray.

    1. I'd like to know YOUR opinions, Kyle. I may be wrong but I don't recall seeing mention of films on any of your postings. Any chance?

  7. I am sad to report I have not seen any of these movies. I'd really like to at least see the one that were nominated for Oscars, but I doubt if I'll even be able to do that. I appreciate your reviews and especially like your review of J. Edgar. I think Leo is a fine actor but his baby face gets in the way sometimes.

  8. Cubby, I trust you mean that you'll not be seeing them in a cinema. Maybe you'll be watching some on DVD - but maybe a considerable time down the line?
    But what I say above are only personal reactions. The opinions don't hold any weight when it comes to identifying significance in film history. But it's still fun to do and I can't think why it didn't cross my mind to do these postings when I started this blog six years ago.