Tuesday, February 28, 2006

#14: Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)

Because it's so perfectly poised, ironic, and authored.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

#15: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)

Because it paints unbearable heartbreak in primary colours.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

#16: The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)

Because it's the simplest great movie I know.

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's a Mads, Mads, Mads, Mads world

Amid all the kerfuffle about Daniel Craig being too blond for Bond, it's escaped most people's attention that the Casino Royale producers have quietly gone and made one of the best casting decisions in years for their chief villain. If you don't yet know Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (above), you need to. He's an electrifying, soft-spoken presence in every role I've seen him play, and, let's face it, the cheekbones aren't bad either. Mads was the skinhead psycho, Tony, in Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher trilogy — I still haven't seen Pusher 2: With Blood On My Hands, in which he takes the central role, but I just can't wait. He was understated and superb as the kindly doctor, Niels, in Susanne Bier's Open Hearts, a film I eagerly recommend to fans of her overrated Brothers: it's a whole lot better, I promise you. And he had a small role as Tristan in the unfortunate King Arthur. But Casino Royale will hopefully get him the international attention he deserves. If Mads plays his cards right — pun not actually intended — I think he might end up becoming my favourite Bond baddie since the fantastic Famke Janssen in GoldenEye, or maybe even Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill. Anyway, he gives me one reason to be excited about this new movie, and that's one more than zero...

#17: Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)

Because Ozymandias has got nothing on this guy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Those Brokeback recipes in full

Back in London and it's hailing. Nice. I will be tending to my blog as if it were some sort of neglected back garden in the coming days. In the meantime, spare a thought — and maybe a giggle — for those brave cowboys on the Wyoming slopes, buffeted by the elements and urges they can't control. I'm sure this has been doing the rounds like all other slightly dubious Brokeback-related tomfoolery, but I have to admit that it made me howl.

Weekly Grocery Lists for Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist,
Summer 1963, Brokeback Mountain



Beans al fresca
Thin-sliced Bacon
Hazelnut Coffee
Sky vodka & Tanqueray gin
K-Y gel

Beans en salade
Coffee (espresso grind)
5-6 bottles best Chardonnay
2 tubes K-Y gel

Fresh fava beans
Jasmine rice
Prosciutto, approx. 8 ounces, thinly sliced
Medallions of veal
Porcini mushrooms
1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 Cub Scout uniform, size 42 long
5-6 bottles French Bordeaux (Estate Reserve)
1 extra large bottle Astro-glide

Yukon Gold potatoes
Heavy whipping cream
Asparagus (very thin)
Organic Eggs
Spanish Lemons
Gruyere cheese (well aged)
Crushed Walnuts
Clarified Butter
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Pure Balsamic vinegar
6 yards white silk organdy
6 yards pale ivory taffeta
3 Cases of Dom Perignon Masters Reserve
Large tin Crisco

Now come on. Don't tell me you didn't laugh. Loosen up and embrace the cultural phenomenon, people.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Goodbye to Berlin

The 56th Berlin film festival is wrapping up, as am I — it's nippy! Only got here for the last few days so I can't pretend to be offering a full run-down of what's been on offer. But I seem to have picked lucky, for the most part. Here's the buzz.
  • Everyone's agreed that Hans-Christian Schmid's Requiem (above) is one of the best films in competition, and that Sandra Hüller can hardly fail to win Best Actress. Her performance in this quietly searing religious drama is already earning comparisons to Emily Watson's in Breaking the Waves, and let's just say that if cinema ever needs another Joan of Arc (which I hope it doesn't anytime soon, but still...) she should be first port of call. As an actress she reminds me less of Watson than Kerry (An Angel at my Table) Fox with a welcome dash of Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film's based on the same case that inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose, except that here the words "possession" and "exorcism" aren't even mentioned until the last reel; it counters that film's credulous hysterics with a humane rationalism that I found exceptionally moving, and the direction, cinematography and editing are all superb. Give or take The New World, it's the best film I've seen so far this year. A—

  • No one's agreed about whether Michael Winterbottom's The Road to Guantánamo is (position one) a creditably restrained but vigorous piece of docu-dramatic corner-fighting or (position two) a devious con job. Both views are flying around, as is everything in between, which hasn't stopped it becoming a hot favourite for the Golden Bear. Potsdamer Platz sure does love a spot of controversy. I gave it a positive review, but it has to be said that the movie, for all its overt strengths, opens up enough of a can of factual worms to keep a trout fishery going for weeks. This may be sheer cowardice in the face of a cacophonously split festival reception, but I find my support for it ebbing away by the day. B(?)

  • I really liked Ben Hopkins's 37 Uses for a Dead Sheep, a playful, creative, slightly Herzog-y ethnographic study of a displaced Central Asian tribe called the Pamir Kirghiz. Or at least I did until Hopkins came on afterwards and somewhat deflated the movie's toothy charms in a disappointingly po-faced Q&A session. It's a really nice idea, though, one of the freshest docs I've seen in some while, and the film cements Hopkins's reputation, after the gloriously nuts The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz, as the closest thing we've got to our very own Guy Maddin. B+

  • Vin Diesel's (actually rather good) hairpiece and attempt to develop an acting style beyond Cro-Mag grunts will be the main talking points in Find Me Guilty, Sidney Lumet's best film since Night Falls on Manhattan. Which still isn't saying much. (Did anyone else see Critical Care? Jeepers.) A hard-working support cast (Linus Roache, Ron Silver, Peter Dinklage, the sadly underused Annabella Sciorra) make it pretty watchable even while you're registering its shameless shucking and jiving to let Italian organised crime off the hook. As a friend wondered, are the Mob bankrolling Vin's next few movies by any chance? C+

  • I found Mary Harron's The Notorious Bettie Page perfectly enjoyable, if gossamer-thin and essentially a bit needless. Gretchen Mol is really quite good, and there are six words I didn't imagine I'd ever string together. Major dyke turnout at the screening, which was fun to see, and, on a side note, the cinematographer is called W. Mott Hupfel III, which I think has to count as the single best name ever. B—

  • The new Chabrol film, L'ivresse du pouvoir, is a comedy. Sort of. Starring Isabelle Huppert as a pushy magistrate and scourge of corporate fat-cats unsubtly called Jeanne Charmant-Killman, and François Berléand as her squirming chief target. It's quite droll but too flabby and lethargic to be my cup of tea; I ducked out after an hour to forage for, well, a cup of tea. (B—)

  • Might get to see the new Altman, A Prairie Home Companion, tomorrow morning. I hear mixed things. Still, I heard mixed things about The Company, which was wonderful, and don't you dare deny it. I'll give Altman the benefit of more doubt than just about anyone. Watch this space...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

CTU, here I come

Thrilling news, counter-terrorism fans: mainlymovies is being sent on a junket to wander round the set of "24" and meet the cast. What would you guys ask them all? Questions of a serious or frivolous variety invited. Enquiries into the relationship status of Carlos Bernard (above right) already covered. Excuse sparse posting for the next few days...

Monday, February 06, 2006

#18: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)

Because its changeling poetry never ceases to astonish me.

Some recent reviews

For various reasons (different readerships and all) I'm sometimes a little shy about sticking the Telegraph reviews up here. But I've been quiet of late, so what the hell. Here's me bending over backwards to be fair (ish) to Walk the Line; losing myself in the sublimity of The New World, and delivering a bitch slap to Memoirs of a Geisha. Coming soon: Proof, which I've somehow managed to sit through twice. It's not all fun and games, this criticism thing...

Flickr pickr

Mainlymovies is getting worryingly addicted to the web photography site Flickr. Here's something I stuck up there today, taken on a recent trawl round Soho:

You like? More on view here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

#19: Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

Because it's an astonishing fusion of low and high art.

#20: Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

Because it's such a brilliant jigsaw of portents.

The big gay Oscar derby

A friend of mine has put money on Wally Pfister to win Best Cinematography this year. Not because it's particularly likely — Brokeback's Rodrigo Prieto has got to be the strong favourite — but because she thinks the Academy might get carried away with its much-hyped give-it-to-the-gays agenda and award it to him purely on the basis of his (admittedly fantastic) surname.

It strikes me that quite a few of this year's nominated films might benefit, to those who haven't yet seen them, from at least sounding potentially gay. Pride and Prejudice? I mean come on. It ought to be an ensemble dramedy set in Brighton. Cinderella Man sounds suspiciously like a drag show. And I ask you this: what's the Constant Gardener actually doing out in the garden? Is that his poor wife calling in the kitchen? I suspect some kind of Far From Heaven sneaking-behind-bushes scenario myself.

We can queer things even more by tweaking the titles a bit. Memoirs of a Gay-sha sounds much more entertaining, in a playground insult kind of way. The Squid and the Other Squid would be a shoo-in for Best Original Screenplay. And I hate to be obscene, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is doing pretty well all by itself. My personal favourite though? Darwin's Nightmare for Best Doc. Chip in with your own!

Brokeback to the Future

So have we all seen this already? No? Worth a link anyway I reckon. Requires sound, and tissues for the emotionally frail.