Thursday, January 14, 2010

Films I saw in December

My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999) James Belushi, Molly Shannon, Daryl Sabara, Liliana Mumy, Tress MacNeille. Dir: Isao Takahata.

The comic tales of a typical Japanese family. Pleasant animation made up of small sketches and vignettes, but without building towards anything. The humour is ok, but rather too familiar; it’s been done before, notably by The Simpsons. The watercolour animation is rather lovely.


Mesrine: Public Enemy No.1 (2009) Vincent Cassel, Ludivine Sagnier, Mathieu Amalric, Gérard Lanvin, Olivier Gourmet. Dir: Jean-François Richet.

Still on the loose, Mesrine embraces his notoriety as an anti-establish figure. As eventful as part one, but with darker notions of how the media can influence events. Mesrine decides he’s a rebel after he is painted as one, justifying further acts of criminality. Dark but compulsive viewing.


The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James, Alfie Bass. Dir: Charles Crichton.

A meek bullion security supervisor comes up with a novel way to rob his own delivery. Delightful comedy caper; it has a warm gentle quality, but keeps up a strong pace. Guinness and Holloway are delightful as the unlikely criminals – you really want them to get away with it.


The Great McGinty
(1940) Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff. Dir: Preston Sturges

An aggressive street bum is groomed by a local crook, first as a debt collector and then as a political candidate. Smart comedy with a surprisingly cynical view of politics for its day – the likeable crooked duo are undone by an act of honesty! The dialogue is killer.


Wall-E (2008) Ben Burt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger. Dir: Andrew Stanton.

The last robot on the abandoned planet earth gets an unexpected visitor. A brave effort from Pixar, the first half of the film is close to silent comedy, and the themes are surprisingly dark. Not all kids will appreciate, but adults who don’t, should get their heads examined. Quite remarkable.


Up! (2009) Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo. Dir: Pete Docter.

After his wife’s death, an old man ties balloons to his house and goes on the adventure they never had. An irresistible, full-on charm offensive, with less weighty themes than Wall-E, Pixar has room to be more carefree and silly; a real heart warmer.


Hue & Cry (1947) Alastair Sim, Harry Fowler, Douglas Barr, Joan Dowling, Jack Warner. Dir: Charles Crichton.

A boy discovers crimes from his comic book being enacted in real life, but no one believes him. Superb boy’s adventure – fast paced, exciting, funny and smart. The story is original and the genuine post war London scenes are fascinating to see.


The Magnet (1950) Stephen Murray, Kay Walsh, James Fox. Dir: Charles Frend

A boy steals another child’s magnet, causing a chain of events that make him think the police are after him. A strong start, but this one peters out and unlike many Ealing films, it’s more for just kids. But it’s charming, something kids’ films today fail to be.


It came from Hollywood (1982) Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong. Dir: Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt.

A mixture of film clips from low budget B movies, with linking sketches. Intermittently funny, but there’s no direction or any time devoted to the films themselves, which mostly remain unidentified. The linking material is completely forgettable.



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