kevan + filmlog   188

One Way Pendulum (1964)
A suburban 60s family divided into their own absurd pursuits, with a gawky Jonathan Miller teaching speak-your-weight machines to sing in the attic. A brisk, no-nonsense acceptance of the absurd, although it lingers a little too long on some of its ideas.
filmlog  4stars  law  construction  society  music 
may 2008 by kevan
Diary of the Dead (2007)
London preview screening for the zombie trade. A good small-scale, camcorder perspective of the undead apocalypse; undermined a bit by the show-off set-piece gore scenes, but a good start to a reboot, a fumblingly decent attempt at a YouTube apocalypse.
filmlog  4stars  zombies  apocalypse  videos 
february 2008 by kevan
Desk Set (1957)
Hepburn in a proto-search-engine "research department", fielding phone requests for information, and threatened by the coming of an IBM "electronic brain machine" with a rattly printer, a natural language parser and a big red self-destruct button.
filmlog  4stars  computers  business  books  web  technology 
february 2008 by kevan
An Affair To Remember (1957)
Some oddly dated social rules, that all bets can be off in a relationship that hasn't gone as far as marriage. Fairly pedestrian stuff otherwise, the self-pitying-playboy versus unimpressed-schoolteacher not lasting very long.
filmlog  2stars  love  secrets  travel 
february 2008 by kevan
Adam's Rib (1949)
"I don't make the rules." "Sure you do. We all do." A proto-feminist snapshot of the forties, Hepburn cracking through alternate scenes of lucidity and surreally dated equality arguments, her dramatic courtroom reveal being almost incomprehensible today.
filmlog  4stars  law  society  crime  love 
january 2008 by kevan
A Day at the Races (1937)
A few good routines, but there are even more unnecessary musical numbers than Night at the Opera, and most of the longer comedy routines are incoherently chaotic. Some quality fist-shaking and spluttering outrage.
filmlog  2stars  comedy  horses  medicine  sport  lies  money 
december 2007 by kevan
Gaslight (1944)
A great study of subtle psychological manipulation, undermining reality through isolation, tiny matter-of-fact lies and sleights of hand. A lot of the villain's reactions are clumsily over-the-top, but it's vivid enough to seep into a wider worldview.
filmlog  4stars  delusions  secrets  crime  love  psychology  light 
december 2007 by kevan
Wings Of Desire (1987)
A strong and loosely-painted mythology of benevolently bored immortals pacing around Berlin before the wall fell, taking notes. But the good, mundane dialogue gets drowned out by bad, self-conscious poetry, and the love interest is mystifyingly shallow.
filmlog  4stars  secrets  germany  society  love  memory 
december 2007 by kevan
Helvetica (2006)
Engaging history of the typeface; its rise and the backlash against it, all shown against the backdrop of Helvetica's global omnipresence in urban signage. No narrator, just lots of genuinely enthusiastic or angry type designers.
filmlog  4stars  fonts  design  history  art 
december 2007 by kevan
I Was A Male War Bride (1949)
An increasingly emasculated Cary Grant is pushed through a comparatively rational screwball comedy, with a self-aware script deflating its own farce and speeding matter-of-factly through the leads' relationship.
filmlog  3stars  love  politics  germany 
november 2007 by kevan
The Host (2006)
A sleekly-animated fish-monster pursues a badly-quarantined family through rain and disinfectant clouds, while heavy-handed Americans clunk around in the background. Always good to be slightly wrong-footed by the unfamiliar film tropes of another country.
filmlog  3stars  monsters  fish  mutation  pollution 
november 2007 by kevan
Roman Holiday (1953)
The slumming royalty of a non-specified English-speaking country, being led around Rome by a cynical journalist and his shin-kicked photographer who's lucky to get a quarter of the pre-paparazzi story fees.
filmlog  3stars  society  secrets  lies  news  photos  italy 
november 2007 by kevan
The Awful Truth (1937)
An utterly flippant divorce and the inevitable and casual sabotage of its rebound relationships, with some nicely untidy dialogue along the way.
filmlog  3stars  love  lies 
november 2007 by kevan
The Ipcress File (1965)
Decently underfunded and matter-of-fact sixties espionage, desk jobs in drab government offices against a mundanely historical London backdrop. But Caine's character is utterly charmless and unconvincing, and it's a dull ending for its genre.
filmlog  2stars  surveillance  politics  science  secrets  delusions 
october 2007 by kevan
All About Eve (1950)
The endless natural cycle of bitter, manipulative actresses being superceded by younger replacements who can hide it better, at least for a while. Also broadcast media.
filmlog  3stars  theatre  secrets  writing 
october 2007 by kevan
Topkapi (1964)
An odd contrast to Rififi; this is in colour, in English, and with everybody except Peter Ustinov overacting terribly. Another elegant and near-silent heist scene, but it's blunted by needless exposition.
filmlog  2stars  crime  surveillance 
october 2007 by kevan
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Fast-paced coincidence-driven amnesiac-assassin action nonsense. Fun for running straight through a lot of tropes and cliches, and dropping them completely before they can get boring, as if they'd just forgotten about them.
filmlog  2stars  memory  terrorism  secrets  delusions 
october 2007 by kevan
Passport To Pimlico (1949)
The logistics of a sudden micronation, played out slowly and simply and full of Blitz spirit, but with a lot more logical consistency than I remembered. Apart from them forgetting about the Thames.
filmlog  3stars  london  politics  society  law  food 
october 2007 by kevan
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Great, no-nonsense Bogart, cutting short any deception subplots by tersely admitting things and walking out of the room to do something else.
filmlog  3stars  mysteries  crime  secrets  birds  death 
september 2007 by kevan
Monkey Business (1952)
Demonstrating that one of the most dangerous aspects of self-experimentation is having a biased personal epiphany about social consequences, and abandoning all research on an apparently workable panacea.
filmlog  2stars  science  medicine  coincidences  apes 
september 2007 by kevan
Holiday (1938)
Cary Grant arguing in favour of the gap year, and the moral superiority of the idle rich over the work-obsessed rich.
filmlog  3stars  money  love  tourism 
september 2007 by kevan
Casablanca (1942)
Hadn't seen this before. Good, sharp, non-stop, dialogue-driven stuff, everything in the foreground, with a great, clipped subtlety to all of the characters.
filmlog  5stars  war  love  secrets  depression  police  crime  paris 
september 2007 by kevan
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Robust fifties sci-fi, with some surprisingly good sets and special effects, and some awful electronic music.
filmlog  3stars  space  aliens  robots  mysteries  apocalypse  brains 
august 2007 by kevan
The Zombie Diaries (2006)
Overlapping camcorder threads of a British apocalypse, with a nice mess of different reactions, and aside from silly, sudden scare-chords, a good, slow-threat bunch of zombies. Roughly edited and hard to distinguish samey characters, but not bad.
filmlog  3stars  zombies  apocalypse  london 
august 2007 by kevan
The Taking Of Pelham 123 (1974)
The hidden information of hostage negotiation, between four over-confident criminals and the entire, swearing infrastructure of New York.
filmlog  4stars  transport  crime  police  politics 
august 2007 by kevan
Rififi (1954)
A French heist film where the half-hour of breaking in and safecracking is played entirely without music or dialogue; no pointless exposition, and everyone just getting on with it. Will probably cast a shadow over every other heist film I see.
filmlog  4stars  crime  sound  paris 
august 2007 by kevan
Three Colours Red (1994)
Quite well pitched, in retrospect - it felt slightly too slow and vague to watch, but if had been any faster or sharper, the reveal would have been ridiculous. The actual ending was still quite ridiculous, though.
filmlog  3stars  surveillance  secrets  coincidences  phones  crime 
august 2007 by kevan
School For Scoundrels (1960)
Psychological warfare, and how far you can take it before becoming a cad. The protagonist goes up against some very thin straw men, but it touches on the greatness of the books, and it's good to see some of the ploys being acted out.
filmlog  4stars  education  psychology  lies  cheating  illusions 
august 2007 by kevan
Cold Comfort Farm (1995)
Rescuing the rural working classes from their own ignorance, using casually implausible urban superpowers. A good first half, but Flora's writing is forgotten and the parody thins out into a generic countryside drama, as it begins to tie up.
filmlog  3stars  society  education  writing  secrets  via:holly 
july 2007 by kevan
Serenity (2005)
Less of the smugly retort-crammed dialogue than what I saw of the series; some good, casual moral ambiguity, but a lot of stock-issue monochrome cliche as well. Some lazy resolutions, some nice lines about how we build the future.
filmlog  3stars  space  future  pestilence  secrets  weapons  via:brendan 
july 2007 by kevan
The Illusionist (2006)
Dull characters, a simple plot and clumsy direction, killing any frame of audience reference by using pointlessly overblown CGI in place of simple, historical stage magic.
filmlog  1star  magic  illusions  death  love  ghosts 
july 2007 by kevan
Things To Come (1936)
Aerial warfare, the fascistic rise of science (dictatorial conquering is fine so long as your poison gases are non-lethal), and an extremely vague and angry Luddite rejection of "progress". Impressively difficult to keep in the context of 1936.
filmlog  3stars  war  science  future  technology  society  apocalypse  pestilence 
july 2007 by kevan
Sneakers (1992)
Arbitrary gadget-heist with an odd mix of realistic and ridiculous pitfalls.
filmlog  2stars  technology  computers  hacking  secrets  crime  via:brendan 
july 2007 by kevan
Shakespeare In Love (1999)
Only a few detectable Stoppard lines and a lot of clunkingly heavy references, even to someone who barely knows any Shakespeare, with no real sense that there was anything terribly subtle going on underneath.
filmlog  2stars  history  theatre  love 
june 2007 by kevan
Le Corbeau (1943)
The film that the Small Town Anywhere social game was based on; the power and freedom of anonymous letters, and how cheaply you can fake omniscience. Fun to see how well and how quickly the Small Town organisers had cast the players.
filmlog  3stars  secrets  society  france  paper 
june 2007 by kevan
28 Days Later (2002)
Better and worse than I remembered, mostly through knowing what was coming; less of a jangly sense of doom, but some good threads and patterns, and a coherently sketchy backplot. The zombies were disappointingly boring after the first half hour, though.
filmlog  4stars  zombies  apocalypse  viruses  london 
june 2007 by kevan
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
A refreshingly quick cut to the chase, but it loses its way for the middle third of the film, only touching on the interesting logistics of invading a planet with clones, and undermining its own quiet malevolence with silly noises at the end.
filmlog  3stars  aliens  secrets  plants 
june 2007 by kevan
Hackers (1996)
Watched as the second half of Holly and Brendan's steampunk-rewrite-readthrough. It's great when what you assume is just an abstract neon-cityscape metaphor of boring hack work is revealed to be actually running on their 28.8bps laptop screens.
filmlog  2stars  hacking  computers  crime  viruses 
june 2007 by kevan
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Decent story of going back and moving on, sidestepping a lot of obvious scenes, with the protagonist being deadpan and matter-of-fact enough to work as a character. Had forgotten how little he avoids the question of what he does for a living.
filmlog  4stars  death  love  nostalgia  via:brendan 
may 2007 by kevan
The Lives of Others (2006)
The counteraction of human weak points in the omniscient surveillance system of the GDR. Slow, strong character development; occasionally heavy-handed, but most of it perfectly underplayed.
filmlog  4stars  surveillance  germany  secrets  lies  writing 
may 2007 by kevan
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Screwball divorce comedy with undercover 1930s tabloid journalists infiltrating a socialite wedding, before that plot thread gets dropped in favour of absent-minded alcoholic chaos. Good leads.
filmlog  3stars  love  news  lies  drinks 
may 2007 by kevan
The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002)
A decent enough production; they're a bit too winkingly proud of their extra props and unspoken references, but there's a nice amount of Arcadian outdoorsness.
filmlog  3stars  names  lies  love  coincidences  children 
april 2007 by kevan
Clue (1985)
Cheerfully nonsensical vagueness that only really works if you know the three endings are coming, and doesn't really work that well anyway. The isolated-house murder-mystery trope is always fun, though.
filmlog  2stars  mysteries  death  board  games  meta  crime  secrets  weapons 
april 2007 by kevan
Sunshine (2007)
Guess what the crew of the sunbound spacecraft Icarus decide to do. Reasonably sane sci-fi, with the sun as a good, ever-present menace, although a bit redundant with space being dangerous enough anyway. Too many cliches, though, and a dreadful third act.
filmlog  2stars  space  science  technology  light  fire 
april 2007 by kevan
Memories Of Murder (2003)
South Korean police procedural - an idealistic by-the-book city cop being stationed among cynical provincial detectives, their beaten confessions involving a lot of flying kicks. A slow film with some weird dead-end tangents, but nice aesthetics.
filmlog  3stars  police  death  mysteries  lies  cheating  crime 
april 2007 by kevan
Brick (2006)
Overlaying film noir onto American high school at a well-judged moment, when everyone's growing up and becoming capable of anything. Nuances of dialogue were wasted on me, though, when my view of American schools is based entirely on films to begin with.
filmlog  3stars  education  drugs  death  love  mysteries  america  language  via:brendan 
march 2007 by kevan
Some Like It Hot (1959)
How to use ridiculous, unmaintainable lies to avoid gangsters and attract women.
filmlog  2stars  secrets  lies  love  money  music  crime 
march 2007 by kevan
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Good double-parody of complex-motive ITV village-detective mundanity and exploding American cop films. Missing references makes some scenes oddly pointless, and the gore doesn't fit either genre, but Pegg and Frost carry it engagingly for two hours.
filmlog  4stars  police  death  mysteries  comedy 
march 2007 by kevan
Twelve Monkeys (1996)
Tighter rules of time travel than I remembered, and the wandering-zoo-animal apocalypse trope is always a good one. A few nice touches of the world ending gradually. Didn't remember the ending being so concretely unambiguous.
filmlog  4stars  time  delusions  pestilence  monkeys  terrorism  prison 
march 2007 by kevan
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2003)
Nice parallels of love and death, both being dreamlike in a deadpan way. A bit slow at two hours, even for a twenty year biography, but Rockwell remains engagingly half-likeable throughout the whole thing.
filmlog  4stars  television  surveillance  death  secrets  love 
march 2007 by kevan
District 13 (2006)
Five or ten brief minutes of good parkour, and an hour of nonsensical bomb-defusing videogame plot, including arbitrary end boss. Expected parkour to be more interestingly filmable on a big multi-camera budget; either it isn't, or they just didn't bother.
filmlog  1star  paris  police  parkour  architecture  society 
march 2007 by kevan
To Catch A Thief (1955)
A Hitchcock, but not really having any of his style to it; Cary Grant being an irked ex-jewel-thief trying half-heartedly to clear his name from recent crimes, whilst wearing an alarming mahogany-varnish suntan.
filmlog  2stars  crime  secrets  france 
february 2007 by kevan
The Odd Couple (1967)
How we have the same fundamental relationship with everyone, even ourselves.
filmlog  3stars  depression  love  cards 
february 2007 by kevan
Idiocracy (2006)
Incoherent, joke-free, dysgenic, Lamarckian nonsense. An intelligent film sneering at stupid working-class low-brow-culture America would be annoying enough, but a stupid low-brow-culture film doing it is just bafflingly, foot-shootingly pointless.
filmlog  1star  future  society  genetics  via:raven 
february 2007 by kevan
The Night Of The Hunter (1955)
Men are evil and women are stupid, but children endure. Overrated, apart from a few stand-out scenes - there's a good and genuinely sinister, unstoppable villain in there somewhere, but the slapstick and weird editing undermines him almost completely.
filmlog  2stars  religion  children  death  crime  prison  money  secrets 
february 2007 by kevan
Guys And Dolls (1955)
How man's perceived free will is really just subservience to women, to small-time gangsters who talk without using contractions, and to die rolls.
filmlog  3stars  music  crime  dice  love  money  police  lies  religion 
february 2007 by kevan
Arabesque (1966)
Decent double-crossing hieroglyph-translating mystery nonsense, feeling a lot like randomly shuffled Hitchcock scenes, but with an endearing gimmick of shooting bits of scenes through mirrors and lenses. And an excellently bored villain.
filmlog  3stars  mysteries  language  lies 
february 2007 by kevan
Good Bye Lenin! (2002)
The value and cost of selfish, idealised delusions; the timeline and scenery of the film feeling a bit like one itself. Great snapshots of a society in quiet, half-mourned collapse, a lot of good dereliction, and the premise never overplays itself.
filmlog  4stars  germany  delusions  illusions  secrets  politics  television  history 
february 2007 by kevan
Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure (2004)
Odd mix of harrowing self-awareness and vague glossing, of scientific enthusiasm and knowingly theatrical non-logic, that doesn't quite ring true, and a good, surprising ending that turns predictably bad. A great sense of random online networks, though.
filmlog  3stars  web  coincidences  money  writing  secrets  random  travel 
january 2007 by kevan
Cruise of the Gods (2002)
Brydon as the washed-up star of a flimsy 80s sci-fi series, being carried around Greek islands by a fan-club high priest. The bell curve of attitudes towards worshippers, and the importance of finding meaning where none exists.
filmlog  4stars  television  nostalgia  writing 
january 2007 by kevan
The Lion In Winter (1968)
Back-and-forth lineage politics at an anachronistic 12th century Christmas, with everyone complimenting their enemies on how good they are at it. Some great lines of dialogue, and a lot of wonderfully bad.
filmlog  3stars  history  politics  france  lies  children 
january 2007 by kevan
Notorious (1946)
The perils of office romances in the intelligence industry, a powerfully slow death and some fun heavy-handed this-is-important zooms of things containing other things.
filmlog  4stars  surveillance  secrets  love  poison  police 
january 2007 by kevan
Full Alert (1997)
A heist, some generic police chases, and some shootouts, with a bit of genuinely affecting guilt and responsibility, but not much.
filmlog  1star  police  crime  death  via:matthew 
january 2007 by kevan
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Pillar-to-post detective work, the sliders for both "decade" and "mood" set at proportional values between Bogart and The Big Lebowski, although Gould has some nice touches of timelessness.
filmlog  2stars  mysteries  crime  money  lies  death  police 
january 2007 by kevan
The Singing Detective (2003)
Jumped a bit too quickly and unevenly between its stories, and Downey just came across as shoutily, shallowly annoyed rather than genuinely bitter. Made me want to have watched the whole of the original, but not to actually watch it.
filmlog  2stars  crime  mysteries  skin  death  love  medicine  delusions  writing  via:catriona 
january 2007 by kevan
Theatre Of Blood (1973)
Decreasingly gory Shakespeare set-piece jokes, spinning out an increasingly pointless plot, and Diana Rigg in some terrible wigs. Everyone should have their own derelict theatre staffed by meths drinkers.
filmlog  2stars  theatre  death  via:catriona 
december 2006 by kevan
Nothing Sacred (1937)
Weak screwball comedy that never really gets going, with an uncomfortable attempt at comedy domestic violence, and a generally weird and morbid attitude throughout, with a radium-poisoned girl being the toast of New York for being so "doomed".
filmlog  2stars  news  pestilence  secrets  lies  love  death 
december 2006 by kevan
Twelve Angry Men (1957)
A decently heavy-handed look at the strengths and flaws of the jury system; crumpling straw men and frustratingly unpursuable post-trial revelations from amateur detectives in the jury.
filmlog  3stars  law  crime 
december 2006 by kevan
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
A trivial bullion heist with some fun setup, a weird chase scene apparently parodying new-fangled in-car police radios, and perhaps the best ending a heist film can have.
filmlog  3stars  crime  money  metal  london  paris 
december 2006 by kevan
Les Diaboliques (1954)
A slow and dark Hitchcockian murder mystery, with the mystery in unexpected places. A good strong twist at the end, and an even better title card telling the audience not to give away spoilers when talking to their friends about it.
filmlog  4stars  death  mysteries  crime  france  secrets  education 
december 2006 by kevan
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Imaginatively detailed and beautifully shot, in stone and trees and rain. But it's two separate films, one gory Spanish civil war drama, one boilerplate chosen-child fantasy; the symbolic stitching has its moments, but neither is that enjoyable a genre.
filmlog  3stars  monsters  children  war  secrets  delusions 
november 2006 by kevan
Keep The Aspidistra Flying (1997)
Class tourism with a well-stuffed parachute, and how every single luxury and happiness costs money. It's presented a little more blandly and cleanly than the novel, with a merely quaint and cheerful Lambeth, but Richard E Grant is perfect as Comstock.
filmlog  4stars  money  poetry  advertising  society 
november 2006 by kevan
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1955)
Very weak Hitchcock, with characters happening to end up in the right place through chance, and being justifiably confused when asked why they're there. One great scene of some silent-movie-style matter-of-factness played underneath a loud orchestra.
filmlog  1star  mysteries  death  children  secrets 
november 2006 by kevan
The Prestige (2006)
Duality and sacrifice among stage magicians. Could have very easily been ridiculous, with the same plot elements, but it's all constructed flawlessly, built with an intricacy that unfolds with reflection, rather than causing plot-holes to creak open.
filmlog  5stars  magic  secrets  illusions  technology  mysteries  science 
november 2006 by kevan
How to Steal a Million (1966)
A light and pointlessly elaborate art-forgery heist, pulled off by a reluctant but obligingly over-prepared Peter O'Toole.
filmlog  3stars  art  crime  money  cheating  police  france 
november 2006 by kevan
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
A ghost story in an isolated orphanage near the end of the Spanish Civil War, all yellow dust and red detailing. A strong and clearly-bounded plot, a lot of vivid imagery, some great aesthetic touches on the ghost itself.
filmlog  3stars  ghosts  war  children  death  secrets  weapons  via:matthew 
november 2006 by kevan
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
A film director trying to experience enough poverty to feel justified in making films about it. Endlessly and easily drawn back to the comfort of Hollywood, the looping plot keeps coming back on stranger and darker levels.
filmlog  3stars  films  money  meta  depression  society  illusions  lies 
november 2006 by kevan
The Elusive Pimpernel (1950)
Half-watched. David Niven being nonchalant in a ridiculous collar, with a few particularly clever flourishes of bluff and subtle psychology.
filmlog  3stars  history  france  secrets  prison  illusions 
november 2006 by kevan
Girl Shy (1924)
A brilliantly inventive and endless car-stealing, horse-stealing chase scene, towards the end of this. I want to play a silent-film Grand Theft Auto.
filmlog  4stars  depression  love  language  police  transport  via:raven 
october 2006 by kevan
Safety Last! (1923)
Disconnected setups to the iconic climbing scene, although the clock-hanging is nicely underplayed. And I'd forgotten how great it is that silent films just don't bother captioning dialogue where the gist is obvious, and how much of that there is.
filmlog  3stars  business  cheating  architecture  money  time  via:raven 
october 2006 by kevan
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