Sunday, February 11, 2007


As this year's Oscars approach, everyone seems certain that Dame Helen Mirren's performance in 'The Queen' is a surefire bet for Best Picture, but the Academy has a long track record (in my view) of picking the wrong film. For starters, the best films of 2006 - Pan's Labyrinth and United 93 - aren't even nominated this year.

So here is a rundown of previous fifty years of winners and the films that should have won:

2006 - Crash - should have been A History of Violence (not even nominated)
2005 - Million Dollar Bay - should have been Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (not even nominated)
2004 - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
2003 - Chicago - should have been The Pianist
2002 - A Beautiful Mind - should have been Memento (not even nominated)
2001 - Gladiator - should have been Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2000 - American Beauty
1999 - Shakespeare in Love - should have been Saving Private Ryan
1998 - Titanic - should have been LA Confidential
1997 - The English Patient - should have been Fargo
1996 - Braveheart - should have been The Usual Suspects
1995 - Forest Gump - should have been The Shawshank Redemption
1994 - Schindler's List
1993 - Unforgiven
1992 - Silence of the Lambs - should have been JFK
1991 - Dances with Wolves - should have been Goodfellas
1990 - Driving Miss Daisy - should have been Field of Dreams
1989 - Rain Man - should have been A Fish Called Wanda
1988 - The Last Emperor - should have been Full Metal Jacket (not even nominated)
1987 - Platoon
1986 - Out of Africa - should have been Ran (not even nominated)
1985 - Amadeus - should have been The Killing Fields
1984 - Terms of Endearment - should have been The Right Stuff
1983 - Gandhi
1982 - Chariots of Fire - should have been Raiders of the Lost Ark
1981 - Ordinary People - should have been Raging Bull
1980 - Kramer Vs Kramer - should have been Apocalypse Now
1979 - The Deer Hunter
1978 - Annie Hall - should have been Star Wars
1977 - Rocky - should have been Taxi Driver
1976 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - should have been Dog Day Afternoon
1975 - The Godfather Part 2
1974 - The Sting - should have been The Exorcist
1973 - The Godfather
1972 - French Connection
1971 - Patton - should have been MASH
1970 - Midnight Cowboy - should have been Easy Rider (not even nominated)
1969 - Oliver! - should have been A Lion in Winter
1968 - In the Heat of the Night - should have been Bonnie and Clyde
1967 - A Man for All Seasons
1966 - Sound of Music - should have been Doctor Zhivago
1965 - My Fair Lady - should have been Dr Strangelove
1964 - Tom Jones - should have been How the West Was Won
1963 - Lawrence of Arabia
1962 - West Side Story - should have been The Hustler
1961 - The Apartment - should have been Elmer Gantry
1960 - Ben Hur - should have been Anatomy of a Murder
1959 - Gigi - should have been The Defiant Ones
1958 - Bridge Over the River Kwai - should have been 12 Angry Men
1957 - Around the World in 80 Days - should have been The King and I
1956 - Marty - should have been Bad Day at Black Rock (not even nominated)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Films in 2006

Another year, another summary of the films I've been to in the last year.

Despite still no longer having the time to write reviews, I haven't yet broken the habit of heading straight for a cinema when I have a few hours to kill - 38 times this year.

I was saying to a friend recently that 2006 had been a year of fairly mediocre films, but looking back on those I've seen in the last twelve months, that's not true: there have been some excellent movies, a number I'd love to see again.

Here's the list - as usual, with star ratings (out of 5)

5 stars: Unmissable!
4 stars: Definitely worth seeing
3 stars: Decent film
2 stars: Disappointing
1 star: Pants
No stars: Why was this released?

In date order - five star films highlighted in bold

Jarhead (***)
Memoirs of a Geisha (**)
The Constant Gardener (***)
Syriana (*****)
Tsotsi (****)
V For Vendetta (*****)
The Inside Man (****)
Capote (****)
Massaker (**)
Good Night and Good Luck (*****)
Mission Impossible 3 (**)
Hidden [Cache] (**)
The Three
Burials of Melquiades Estrada (*****)
Brick (****)
Donnie Darko (*****) - again!
X Men 3 (***)
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (****)
Superman Returns (****)
Warrior King (***)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (***)
Nacho Libre (**)
CSA: Confederate States of America (****)
A Scanner Darkly (****)
Right At Your Door (****)
Children of Men (*****)
An Inconvenient Truth (*****)
Primo Levi's Journey (***)
Days of Glory [Indigènes] (****)
The Prestige (****)
Casino Royale (****) - twice
The Page Turner (****)
: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (*)
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (**)
Shortbus (****)
Eragon (**)
Pan's Labyrinth (*****)
Flags of Our Fathers (***)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


How quickly the time flies! I'm fast approaching another trip away and so once again, I've decided to list the relatively restrained total of 42 films I've seen this year and dish out 'star' ratings (out of 5) to give you a hint of what I've enjoyed and what was a total waste of money in 2005.

I have to say, it has been a strange cinematic year with lots worth seeing but few outstanding flicks. Despite a number being unmissable at least once, there are precious little that I would definitely want to see again, but here goes:

5 stars: Unmissable!
4 stars: Definitely worth seeing
3 stars: Decent film
2 stars: Disappointing
1 star: Pants
No stars: Why was this released?

In date order - five star films highlighted in bold

The Aviator (***)
Million Dollar Baby (****)
Vera Drake (***)
Closer (***)
Ray (***)
2046 (**)
Ae Fond Kiss (****)
A Very Long Engagement (*****)
Somersault (**)
Kinsey (***)
Hotel Rwanda (*****)
Constantine (***)
The Downfall (*****)
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (***)
Sahara (***)
Bullet Boy (***)
The Sea Inside (****)
Mean Creek (****)
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (****)
Kingdom of Heaven (****)
The Jacket (****)
Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith (*)
Millions (***)
Mysterious Skin (***)
Mr & Mrs Smith (***)
Sin City (*****)
Batman Begins (****)
Maria Full of Grace (****)
Kung Fu Hustle (*****)
War of the Worlds (***)
Silver City (***)
Fantasic Four(*)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (****)
The Island (**)
Crash (****)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (***)
A History of Violence (****)
Serenity (****)
Domino (**)
Lord of War (****)
Primer (*****)
Broken Flowers (****)

Sunday, November 28, 2004


It's been nearly twelve months since my last post and I'm back primarily to answer the question I've been asked a number of times in 2004 - are you still seeing one film every week?

The answer is yes but I have been too busy with other things to continue the reviews. In a way I'm glad I haven't had to analyse the films I've seen this year and write about them every week, but a friend said that in 2003 she used the site to decide what to see and many people have asked me, "have you seen anything good recently?"

So here is the list of the sixty (yep, 60!) films I've seen in 2004, with a crude 'star' rating (out of 5) to give you a hint of what I've enjoyed and what was a total waste of money:

5 stars: Unmissable!
4 stars: Definitely worth seeing
3 stars: Decent film
2 stars: Disappointing
1 star: Pants
No stars: Why was this released?

In date order - five star films highlighted in bold

Mystic River (****)
Lost in Translation (*****)
American Splendour (****)
Last Samurai (***)
Girl with a Pearl Earring (****)
Big Fish (***)
Elephant (**)
The Dreamers (***)
Infernal Affairs (****)
Valentin (**)
Zatoichi (*****)
Northfork (*)
Starsky and Hutch (***)
The Station Agent (*****)
Fog of War (****)
Shaun of the Dead (*****)
Open Range (****)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (*****)
Bus 174 (****)
Carandiru (***)
Kill Bill Volume 2 (*)
The Barbarian Invasions (**)
Van Helsing (*)
Twilight Samurai (***)
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring (*)
Bad Education (**)
The Day After Tomorrow (****)
Japanese Story (****)
Shrek 2 (***)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (****)
I'm Not Scared (****)
Spiderman 2 (*)
Nathalie (**)
King Arthur (*)
I, Robot (***)
Infernal Affairs 2 (***)
Bourne Supremacy (*****)
The Village (***)
Motorcycle Diaries (*****)
The Terminal (***)
Hellboy (**)
Supersize Me (***)
Carmen (**)
Open Water (****)
Collateral (****)
Dead Man's Shoes (****)
Hero (*****)
Bubba Ho-tep (***)
Before Sunset (****)
The Manchurian Candidate (****)
Mr Smith Goes To Washington (*****)
House of Flying Daggers (*****)
Bad Santa (****)
Finding Neverland (****)
Coffee and Cigarettes (**)
Shaolin Soccer (no stars!)
Old Boy (****)
The Story of the Weeping Camel (***)
The Incredibles (****)
I Heart Huckabees (***)

Sunday, December 21, 2003

So here, as promised, is my Top Ten - and Bottom Ten - for 2003:


1. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
2. Donnie Darko
3. Spirited Away
4. Cypher
5. 21 Grams
6. City of God
7. Finding Nemo
8. Intacto
9. The Hours
10. Intolerable Cruelty


53. Rules of Attraction
52. About Schmidt
51. Tomb Raider 2
50. The Hulk
59. The Italian Job
48. Kill Bill Volume 1
47. Gangs of New York
46. Swimming Pool
45. Nicholas Nickleby
44. Respiro

I am sure that is bound to be contentious but there it is. As for this site, it will continue in the New Year with less regular reviews. Thanks to everyone for reading.

Kevin xx

Wednesday 17 December 2003
Stratford Picture House, London E15 VISIT

It is a reflection of what director Peter Jackson has managed to achieve since the release of Fellowship of the Ring back in 2001 that many people will leave 'Return of the King' and feel a moment of sadness, as I did, at the realisation that the trilogy is over. That's it. Unless Jackson somehow manages to secure the rights to 'The Hobbit', the story ends here.

We always knew this, of course - with JRR Tolkein's books recently voted the most popular in the UK, many will have reread them or perhaps discovered them for the first time. But knowing how the story ends has never been the most important part of the 'Lord of the Rings' experience. What has made the three films so special has not simply been the special effects or the locations or the acting, although all have been superb. It has always been the story and way it is told that has mattered most. Peter Jackson's greatest achievement is as a wonderful storyteller and the way he has interpreted Tolkein's often complex and frustrating creation has surpassed everyone's expectations.

In the process, he has produced three films that should stop people of my age continually rumbling on about the Star Wars trilogy and how special it was to them. OK, whatever, that was then, time to move on and accept that the 'Lord of the Rings' is better, in another class altogether. It makes me wonder what on earth George Lucas is going to do with the final part of his lacklustre Star Wars 'prequels', now that the standard has been raised so much higher?

Anyway, returning to the review, 'Return of the King' is every bit as brilliant as I expected it to be and, in my opinion, the best of the three films. Perhaps this is in part because there are no new characters to introduce - everyone is assembled for the final battle and over the previous films their personalities have been fleshed out and become familiar. This is particularly true of Viggo Mortensen's restrained portrayal of Aragon, the reluctant King, and of the competitive friendship between Legolas and Gimli, which has developed a comic timing that provides some relief from the blood and the battles.

But what is so genuinely impressive are the battles themselves and the way the special effects have been used so well. One of the truly stand out moments for me - when I leaned back and thought, "how did they do THAT?" - is when the horsemen of Rohan charge into the massed ranks of thousands of Orcs. It just looks fantastic and I can't wait to see it again. The other is the lighting of warning beacons calling for help for the Kingdom of Gondor, with bonfires lit on the top of the most stunning mountain scenery. It really is quite beautiful. In terms of special effects, without doubt the other triumph of this film is the recreation of Gollum, who has a far larger part to play as Frodo and Sam draw nearer to Mount Doom. Crucially, Jackson has managed to make the character feel like a genuine part of the cast, rather than a digitised extra, and one with can sympathise with (at least some of the time). I imagine there will be schoolchildren doing Gollum impressions and saying "my precious" all over the country for years to come, which is more than can be said for, I don't know, say The Phantom Menace's Jar Jar Binks!

So is it my film of the year? After so many, I thought it would be harder to choose but there really is no contest. 'Return of the King' deserves to be called an epic in a way that few films can claim, no matter how much they try. In my view, the trilogy as a whole is the first cinematic experience to come close to grand scale and emotion of one of my favourite of all films, Lawrence of Arabia. So on this one I'm with Christopher Lee, who has threatened to resign from the Academy if 'Return of the King' does as poorly at the Oscars as The Two Towers did last year. Film of the year without question.