29 September-5 October 2008

October 4 2008 at 6:39 pm (The list)

The Searchers (1956)

When Comanches invade the Edwards home and kidnap adorable little Debbie, her uncle Ethan and his nephew Martin Pawley embark on a five-year quest to rescue her. John Wayne is charismatic and shows unusual range as the gritty, determined Ethan, so full of hate for his niece’s captors that he’d rather see her dead than become one of them. As portraits of dogged willpower go, this is up there with the best. Despite the film featuring Wayne’s supposedly best performance, the real star is John Ford’s direction, making the vast landscapes almost like another character. And then of course there’s that classic closing shot.


Rating: 4/5


Shame list total: 1,205


The Notebook (2004)

An old man (James Garner) reads a story to a woman (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home. The story he reads is about the two young lovers – poor free-spirit Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) and rich girl Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) – and the first years of their troubled love. This formulaic and predictable romantic saga holds few surprises and is full of cardboard cut-out characters, so why is it so enjoyable? We’ve seen the ‘love conquers all’ plot so many times before that something this unsurprising shouldn’t be so compelling and heartbreaking. That it works so well is a testament to the talents of the leads.


Rating: 3/5


Son Of Rambow (2008)

England, summer 1982. Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is the son of a religious zealot. Lee Carter (Will Poulter) is a young tearaway, always in trouble. The two form an unlikely friendship through their shared love of First Blood, and together they make a sequel which Lee hopes to submit to TV’s Screen Test competition. Although it doesn’t sound like much, it’s so much more than a film about two kids with a wealth of imagination and a camcorder. Filled with family drama, religious bigotry and childhood wonder, it plays like a more tightly scripted and infinitely better Be Kind Rewind. Director Garth Jennings (who also wrote the brilliant screenplay) may have been responsible for the flashy but disappointing 2005 adaptation of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, but he really ups his game here. His love of imaginative low budget special effects is used to great effect and the way in which he manages to carve from such a slight idea a charming story of an unlikely but totally believable friendship is magical. Despite a misguided subplot involving an über-cool French exchange student, the film wins big on the talents of the two leads and the superbly well-crafted script.


Rating: 4/5


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