Monday, December 18, 2017

Listomania! My Favourite Films of 2017

Time, once again, for my entirely arbitrary and idiosyncratic Films of the Year list. Because I love you, here are a bunch of links to sate your overwhelming desire to catch up with my lists from years past:

2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016

All caught up? Excellent!

I was going to write an elaborate, scene-setting preamble about My Year in Film, but I feel like I’ve been unwillingly subjected to the detailed opinions and tepid “hot takes” of Everyone On The Internet all year long, so I’m doing us all a huge favour by saying as little as possible about my choices this time round. As Dirty Harry Callahan said in his belated not-very-good sequel The Dead Pool: “Well, opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.”

In that spirit, in no particular order, and for our collective amusement, it’s time to moon you with My Top Ten. Here we go:

Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski)

Get Out (Jordan Peele)

Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson)

The Handmaiden (Ah-ga-ssi) (Chan-wook Park)

My Life as a Courgette (Ma vie de Courgette) (Claude Barras)

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler)

Blade of the Immortal (Mugen no jûnin) (Takashi Miike)

The Disaster Artist (James Franco)

The Florida Project (Sean Baker)

It’s a small world after all.

Just under that formidable Top Ten is another honestly-just-as-good Ten - any one of which could have made it onto the main list on another day depending on my mood.

Close But No Cigar:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter)
Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts)
Logan (James Mangold)
The Love Witch (Anna Biller)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica) (Sebastián Lelio)
The Merciless (Sung-hyun Byun)
On Body and Soul (Teströl és lélekröl) (Ildikó Enyedi)
Silence (Martin Scorsese)
Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Listomania! It Is Happening Again

What year is this?
Before we get to my now-traditional and oh-so-eagerly-awaited Films of the Year list, let’s get this out of the way first:

Twin Peaks
was the best thing I saw all year. I don’t know if it’s one eighteen-hour movie or eighteen one-hour movies or just the third season of a beloved television series, and I really don’t care.

I do know what it is for me, though. It’s dissonant industrial noise and mist-wreathed mountains and kabuki and “Squeeze his hand off!” and Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and slippery in here. It’s blood and static and slapstick, candyfloss clouds and “Fuck Gene Kelly, you motherfucker!” and yrev very good indeed. Jerry Horne screamed “I don’t know where I am!”. I knew exactly how he felt, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was a helluva ride, and it was undoubtedly my favourite slab of storytelling of any length this year.

I don’t watch much television at all any more, but I do want to give an additional shout-out to both Samurai Jack and Vice Principals for deeply satisfying conclusions to their respective sagas too.

Next stop: My Actual Films of the Year List! I can taste your anticipation from here.

Friday, June 09, 2017


Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I’m stuck. I’ve got a grab bag of tricks for getting unstuck. They don’t always work. Here’s one that helps sometimes, and I’m putting it here because I have a tendency to lose this whenever I need it most. It’s the script for “Arctic Radar” the tenth episode of the fourth season of The West Wing, written by Aaron Sorkin. One scene in particular. Here’s the set-up: Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) is stuck. In the sort of peppy, verbose meet-cute that Sorkin excels at, Toby swaps speech drafts with prospective speechwriter Will Bailey (Joshua Malina). There’s a lot more going on than that (and you can read the whole thing here), but here’s the bit that I’m particularly interested in:

This is incredibly good, Will. "Never shrinking from the world's..." "...a fierce belief in what we can achieve together." I used to write like this. It was ten months ago. I don't understand what's going on. I really don't. I've had slumps before. Everybody does, but this is different. I'm sorry, we don't know each other, but there aren't that many people I can talk to about it. I don't understand what's happening. There's no blood going to it. I never had to locate it before. I don't even know where to look. I'm the President's voice and I don't want it to sound like this. And there's an incredible history to second inaugurals. "Fear itself," Lincoln... I really thought I was on my way to being one of those guys. I thought I was close. Now I'm just writing for my life and you can't serve the President that way. But if I didn't write... I can't serve him at all.

Yeah. Can I tell you three things? You are more in need of a night in Atlantic City, than any man I've ever met. Number two is, the last thing you need to worry about is no blood going there. You've got blood going there, about thirteen ways. And some of it isn't good. Once again, I say, "Atlantic City." I'd say sit down at a table, go for dinner, see a show, take a walk on the boardwalk and smell the salt air... but if you're anything like me, nothing after "sit down at a table" is going to happen.

What's the third thing?

You are one of those guys. This is an inning of good relief pitching from a fresh arm.

Starting to realise that I really need a night in Atlantic City...

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Full Clip #6

“A man becomes preeminent, he's expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms... Enthusiasms... What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy?” -- Robert De Niro as Al Capone in The Untouchables

Haven’t done one of these for years, but I feel like now is the ideal time to unapologetically geek out about the stuff I’m digging at the moment, to turn away from the overcast Perpetual Rage Engine of Twitter and towards the light of Fun and Art and Excitement and Sheer Unalloyed Joy.

Brothers, sisters, we don't need this fascist groove thang! Here we go...

Jackie Chan Hasn't Seen His Original Stunt Team In Decades. Then Realizes They're All Standing Behind Him. A band of professional bone-breakers have never been more heart-warming. I’ve got something in my eye...

There are people in this world who think that Nic Cage is a joke or a meme. And I get it. Really. But to those people I say: what the hell do you want from a movie star? Personally, I want someone unpredictable and inconsistent and Not Like Other People. Fortunately, I am not alone in this. Nicolas Cage Attended This Year’s C4GED Marathon At The Alamo Drafthouse In which minds were blown in Austin.

When it comes to the whole chin-stroking “Should we punch Nazis?” argument, I fall firmly on the side of the argument that says: Yes. When individuals aggressively advocate or encourage the genocide of entire races, I don’t think a roundhouse to the jaw is unreasonable. What’s a couple of loose teeth in the fight against murder on an industrial scale? Sooner or later, talk of Nazi-punching inevitably circles around to Captain America. Which leads me to this…”Released in the summer of 1982, “Captain America” #275 was by J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and John Beatty, and it sees Steve Rogers attend a protest of a Neo-Nazi group along with his girlfriend, Bernie Rosenthal (the protest was organized by Bernie’s ex-husband). It was supposed to be a peaceful protest, but then someone just couldn’t put up with the hate speech that the Neo-Nazis were spouting…”

Mark Kermode remembers William Peter Blatty “the writer of both the funniest Inspector Clouseau film and ‘the greatest film ever made’, a mesmerising novelist turned filmmaker whose investigations of faith and evil across The Exorcist, The Ninth Configuration and The Exorcist III (aka Legion) were testament to his belief in an afterlife.”

Coming Attractions Part 1: It’s been thirteen years since the last episode but now, at last, Samurai Jack is Back. Watch out!

Coming Attractions Part  2: I don’t think I can adequately convey in words just how insanely excited I am about the impending return of the unkillable John Wick. Bring da motherfuckin' ruckus!

Currently Reading: Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

And remember: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” (tl;dr: Evil only triumphs if you do nothing. Thanks, Edmund Burke!)