The Thing That Will Not Die

I know what you’re thinking. “Damn, is he still around?”

Well yes, as it happens, I am still around.  I’ve just been a very busy boy and as a result I haven’t had time to be doing all the reviews I usually would.  So here’s a rundown of some important stuff that has happened and may be happening soon:

  • I’ve made £350 this year from writing. Which is not a lot of money but pretty good considering how busy I’ve been and it is hopefully the start of something that will continue for the rest of my life. I might have another Guardian piece on the way soon and I have a monthly writing gig with exciting downloadable magazine FirstPlay. Available on your PS3 via the PSN Store now.
  • I’ve only watched about 15-20 films so far this year. Which is a shame because it is something I really love but that will change over the summer and I’ll continue to write for as long as possible.
  • I have passed the PGCE course & I have a job lined up to boot.
  • I am entering into tentative negotiations about putting the Chris vs Cinema formula into another medium.  More will hopefully be revealed soon.

So I’m back writing and hopefully reviewing over the next few months, but there is a clutch of films I have watched and not told you all about. So I’m going to do a brisk run through the lot of them now in a series of one-sentence micro-reviews.

Brace yourself…

3. District 13 – Ultimatum (Patrick Alessandrin, 2009) Disappointing sequel to the excellent French parkour action movie.
4. The Simpsons Movie (David Silverman, 2007) Almost an apology of a film, as though they had to do it to prove it works better in half hour chunks and now they can concentrate on that.
5. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009) Brilliant, brutal, funny and scary sci-fi – proving that you can be smart and have dumb fun whilst looking good all at the same time.
6.The Hurt Locker (Catherine Bigelow, 2008) Oscar nabbing journey into the mind of a soldier is further proof that Bigelow is an excellent modern chronicler of masculinity.
7. The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute, 2006) Jesus titty-fucking Christ. See below.
8. Clue (Jonathan Lynn, 1985) Witty, silly and jolly good fun watching Tim Curry ham it up.
9. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009) Slick, sad and achingly beautiful – Jason Reitman has a pretty good track record so far.
10. A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951) #203 in IMDB top 250. Brando is an animal, Leigh is cheddar and the support is excellent – efficiently directed by whistle blowing tell-tale Kazan.
11. Logorama (François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy & Ludovic Houplain, 2009) Stunning Oscar winning animation, watch it here and now.
12. The Descent: Part 2 (Jon Harris, 2009) Pointless and insulting sequel whose only noteworthy scenes are weak reshoots from the original.
13. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009) Foul mouthed, verbose, irreverent and fun – welcome back QT.
14. Kick Ass (Matthew Vaughan, 2010) Foul mouthed, violent, irreverent and fun – Good day Mr Vaughan.
15. Solomon Kane (Michael J. Bassett, 2009) No nonsense adaptation of the pulpy stuff, all the better for it.
16. The Losers (Sylvain White, 2010) Slightly misfiring A-Team knock off adapted from a superior comic.
17. The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom, 2010) Mean piece of work with stunning central performance from Casey Affleck.
18. Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer, 2009) Highly enjoyable piece of throwaway fluff.
19. Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010) Missed opportunity to capitalise on the original success, too many storylines and not enough of Tony being a wisecracking rich wanker.
20. Ong Bak: The Beginning (Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai, 2008) Cracking martial arts can’t disguise the fact that Tony Jaa had a breakdown filming this – it’s all over the place but beautifully so.

Whilst watching Neil LaBute’s utterly bizarre Wicker Man remake I decided to ‘live tweet’ the experience. The following nonsensical ramblings are a remarkably accurate portrayal of this genuinely odd piece of film-making…

Fucking hell that’s a weird start. Cage is banging in some right acting.

#wickermantwitblog Blonde girl in red being hit by truck motif. New twist on a classic cinema trope. Transcendant stuff. 10:14 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Was Neil Labute on very strong drugs? Cage clearly is. 10:27 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Leelee Sobieski! Cor, I used to fancy her rotten. Very pretty. Especially dressed in gingham. 10:31 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Lookit Cage’s eyes. Almost popping out of his head. Sobieski’s a fine vision though. 10:40 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog The Crow! Little Fibbers. A big fibber. 10:47 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Rowan is……. Dead? Superb acting, all forehead. 10:48 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Channel 5 are working hard to fuck this up even more than it is already. The ad for Vacancy is a reminder of good genre. 10:55 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Double fake out dream. Classic since American Werewolf. Neglects to use rowboat to get to plane. Madness. 11:08 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog No ill effects to swimming trip. Gun emptied? Probably not. HOODIES! Creepy Cage uses subtle b&e technique. 11:10 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Bees – all up in me face. Hilarious run through the field there Nicky. 11:20 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Cage seemingly immune to bees now. Ellen Burstyn looks alright for her age – she seems a bit embarrassed to be in this. 11:26 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Where is this island community getting their supply of padlocks? 11:30 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog How’dit get burned? Did they let Cage get bent off his tits before shooting every scene? 11:34 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Badly CGI’d blind women are a bit creepy. Where’s Leelee? I liked her. 11:41 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog It makes sense if that crap he drinks at the start of the film is crazy juice. 11:44 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Pow! Cage smashes woman right in the kisser. Bam! 11:44 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Ah ’tis the bearsuit. Shame Leelee has gone crackers. Swift kick to the chops has seen to her. Cage striking for misogyny 11:46 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Kapow! And another lady laid out. Is he after a record or something? 11:48 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog How fast is that kid? And I’m starting to wonder if there actually is a Wicker Man in this. 11:50 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog She’s not answered one fucking question properly. I’d shoot her for kicks. 11:52 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog There is a wicker man. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA my legs! Oh m’god. 11:53 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Well that’s sort of similar really. I’d heard it was wildly different. It’s shit, obviously. But interestingly weird. 11:57 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog I’m over at the Police Academy? Bees in her fanny! 11:59 PM Jan 25th via web

Chris vs Bullies

Hi, sorry about the lack of posts so far this year but I have some good news.  I had another Clip Joint article accepted by The Guardian and it is online as of now – HERE.  It will be in print in Friday’s Film & Music pull-out too.

I’m keeping track of the few films that I have watched this year but I’ve been ridiculously busy for the most part with my little lad and teaching English at a new, and very cool, school.  Obviously I’m slipping film clips in as and when I can and attempting to give them a good rounded education in the brilliance of the movies.

So around Easter I’ll pop in a round-up of what I’ve watched and a few thoughts on each one. Until then, please have a look at my article and make a comment – suggest a school bully film clip too. It’s always a pleasure to write a blog post and there will be more forthcoming over the year but you’ll just have to be patient with me.

Oh, one clip was edited out of the article so I thought I’d share it with you and although a few of the readers have already seen this – it bears another watch or two…

Chris vs The Guardian?

High 5!

It has been a long held ambition of mine to do some paid writing work.  I’m not kidding myself, I’m not good enough to do it full-time; but I think I have enough to say, and just enough style to say it with, that I might be able to do a bit on the side for some time to come.  Chris Vs Cinema has been the framework to improve my writing and after a speculative e-mail or two it has paid off.

Today, in a flurry of activity, an article I have written has been posted on The Guardian Film Blog credited to my internet sobriquet ‘SolidChris’. It’s one of the weekly posts they make accepting contributions from outside the main staff and I’m well chuffed that something I’ve written has been put up on the site.  So please, go have a read of it and add a comment and a suggestion of your own – essentially make me look popular.

You can read it here – Clip Joint: Chat-up lines.

I hope this isn’t a one-off, I hope that there is more where this lies because that would make me happy and slowly fulfil one of my major ambitions in life: to be able to put that I am a writer – and to be confident about saying it.

Walken the Line

Last week I decided to write a response to a Guardian article by David Thomson, a writer I’m full of respect for having really enjoyed his work on Hollywood cinema – especially The Whole Equation. Initially I was going to stick it as a comment attached to the film blog on their website but as I was writing it and looking for clips the whole piece of writing just grew and grew. I submitted it as a piece of freelance but they haven’t replied. I don’t blame them especially, re-reading it is an exercise in self torture but I suppose it’s all a step in the right direction. Anyway, here’s the article I sent. It’s heavy with Youtube links if you want to check out a prime slice of Chris Walken as any number of bad guys…

walken 

The Case for Walken

The Guardian recently asked for our favourite screen villains – the bad guys we love to root for. It’s been frequently said that we, the British, make the best villains. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest it is true as Alan Rickman, Ian Mckellen, Ralph Feinnes and Gary Oldman have excellent screen antagonist calibre. But it is America that can lay claim to the greatest of the modern screen villains.

Under a variety of guises Christopher Walken has become the proprietor of a most impressive rogue’s gallery. From Aryan sociopath Max Zorin in A View to a Kill, nonchalantly dismissing his workforce with a machine gun, to Archangel Gabriel in straight to video classic The Prophecy, trying to tear open a little girl to get at the soul within, one thing is constant; Walken is the magnetic and malevolent presence that ties the films together. He supersedes everything else that has occurs in a film, the drawn reptilian features, the thin lips and haunting dark eyes, they all combine to create someone who is, put simply, different. He carries a sense of something alien, as if he is experiencing this world for the first time. And that’s before he starts talking.

The Walken voice is a gift for comedians and actors, many of them from have an impression (Kevin’s Spacey (@4.30) and Pollack are among the best) but none of them are close to the real thing. Henry Rollins describes the time that Walken appeared on his TV show as the meeting of a legend. On his arrival at the studio a group of admirers, including Rollins himself, fell about starstruck – much to the dismay of Walken’s Press Officer. The power of his voice comes over in one of Walken’s most villainous performances, as The Man with the Plan in 1995’s Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. Despite only moving from the neck upwards he manages to convincingly intimidate everyone he comes into contact with, spitting bitter condescension and insults with impunity.

Things get even better when Walken starts moving though. Every movement appears to be part of an elaborate dance, set to a rhythm that only Walken can hear. He’s made no secret that he has tried to fit a jig into every role he’s taken, as an “homage to Broadway.” But like another famous American hoofer turned screen villain, James Cagney, when these smooth gliding movements come attached to those features and that voice it’s a heady cocktail. In Donald Cammel’s little seen Wild Side, Walken combined all three to delirious effect especially whilst he threatens to sodomise his chauffer in order to prove he loves his prostitute/mistress.

The villains have waned as Walken has aged past his golden streak of the 1990s and taken more cameos and comedic roles. But he remains my choice as greatest screen villain and if you ever want conclusive proof – remember the infamous scene from True Romance. Dennis Hopper is wonderfully solemn and resigned but Walken’s Vincenzo Coccotti makes good on his promise of being ‘the Anti-Christ, in a vendetta kind of mood‘ stealing the film from everyone else in one solitary scene.