25-31 August 2008

September 1 2008 at 9:54 pm (The list)

There was a bit of an international flavour to my shame list viewings last week. From India with Disney, to Liverpool and London with The Beatles, to northern Spain with Guillermo del Toro and straddling the US/Mexican border with Orson Welles.


The Jungle Book (1967)

Slowly but surely, I’m getting through the Disney cartoons but I suspect they’re not going to get any better than this. Not just a great story, but a rare musical that doesn’t ram the songs down your throat. Instead, it has two very good, very memorable songs and only a couple more, some great characters, a winning script and some terrific animation for its time. The relationship between Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera is so great, and the fact that the villain is a tiger that sounds like an English gent is just perfect.


Rating: 5/5


A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

I was never a huge fan of The Beatles but it’s hard not to enjoy this charming film. Richard Lester’s free-spirited direction benefits from a slight plot that charts a typically crazy day in the life of the Fab Four as they travel to London to appear on a live TV show. When they’re not performing, the film is just four lads larking about which can only make you smile. The quick fire script is laden with jokes that show that the John, Paul, George and Ringo were great comic performers as well as great musicians, and Wilfred Brambell does an amusing turn as Paul’s grandfather. The magic of A Hard Day’s Night is that it gives the impression that they were mates first, musicians second. A perfect snapshot of the era.


Rating: 4/5


Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Mark Kermode calls Guillermo del Toro ‘the new Orson Welles’, one of modern cinema’s true visionaries and he’s got a good point. Seamlessly blending whimsical magic and brutal reality, del Toro has created a poignant and exciting fairy tale for adults. Set in 1944, it is the story of Ofelia, a 10-year-old girl who moves with her pregnant mother into a house in the hills of Northern Spain, to live with her new stepfather, a vicious captain in the Franco’s fascist army. Escaping from the violence and horror of her new life, Ofelia retreats into a world of fantasy in which she meets a faun who assigns her three tasks after which she will become queen of the underworld. Ofelia’s fantasy world and the all too real world of her stepfather’s regime of terror fit together seamlessly, and the fact that del Toro avoids an overload of unnecessary CGI in favour of some brilliant costumes and sets is a wise choice. Throw in some brilliant performances and a tight script, and you have one of the best films of the last few years.


Rating: 5/5


Touch of Evil (1958)

Based on Whit Masterson’s novel Badge of Evil, this is the story of a battle of wills between two men: a Mexican narcotics officer Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston, who apart from a moustache just doesn’t seem very Mexican) and a corrupt but respected border town police chief Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles, who also directed and wrote the screenplay). Welles’ powerful direction is almost as larger than life as the man himself. A good screenplay and some gripping scenes (especially the finale in which Vargas stalks Quinlan at close range to get a confession on tape) plus some unnervingly jazzy music make for a great thriller, albeit one that does sag in places.


Rating: 4/5


Shame list total: 1,214


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