Monday, 31 May 2010

Husbands and Wives (Woody Allen, 1992)

"Fucking men! Woman gets to be over a certain age, it becomes a different ballgame"


Now I know that I have had this coming for a while. A Woody Allen fan who has not been disappointed … it was inevitable really. There are films which are weaker, granted, but more often than not, an awesome cast approaching a high-concept comedy-drama will always have merits. Fact of the matter is, Husbands and Wives simply doesn’t have enough scope in its concept and the characters – notably Mia Farrow and Judy Davis – are simply not likeable or relatable for us, as an audience, to enjoy their company for a hundred minutes.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 30/05/2010

The Simon and Jo show comes to you this week from sunny South London. We’re at the BFI Southbank to check out Palme D’or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Jo to his buddies) installation ‘Phantoms of Nabua’, running from 14th May until 3rd July 2010. Jo (from Simon and Jo) has seen American: The Bill Hicks Story and gives his assessment on the comedy legend.

There’s plenty of chat on the new releases and chart with a dash of casting news, including details of Woody Allens latest. Simon continues his Coen odyssey by giving his opinion on The Man Who Wasn’t There while Jo starts on a Lindsay Lohan journey, discussing how Mean Girls are.

Finally there’s a round up of some of the latest trailers including a sexy straight to DVD thing, Solitary Man, The Brothers Bloom and Love Ranch.


Blogs that have covered a little Dennis Hopper following his death:
Matt at Chuck Norris Ate My Baby and Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear


The music is from Bill Hicks Arizona Bay which combines comedy and music to potent effect.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 23/05/2010

The Simon and Jo Film show comes to you from sunny Clapham, the new home of Simon and very close to the home of Jo. There's a bit of film news to cover, including a brief discussion of Megan Fox and what she brings to the table as well as some speculation on what's going on in Cannes.

Our main focus is the madness of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans which we were fortunate enough to see in March and is just now getting a UK release. It's suitably surreal stuff from Werner Herzog.

There's the latest London box office and a rundown of the latest releases before we launch into a Woody Allen debate. Simon is the defence, having just seen Play it Again, Sam and Jo prosecutes from a position of not wanting to watch any Woody films ever again. Sparks fly! Finally there's trailer talk with a focus on clips from films that are showing in Cannes and a quick prediction on who might win the Palme D'or. Turns out we're both wrong, congratulations go to Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Crikey.

Shoutouts to Nick on Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob and the philosophising of The Kid in the Front Row, and obviously the link for our Lammy Nomination...

Music is from Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Casablanca (which is a nod to Play it Again, Sam).

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen, 1993)

"Well, he's a little mousey. They could have their little rodent time together, they could eat cheese together..."


I am watching so many Woody Allen films. And I love it. There is something so comfortable about his films and this 'murder mystery' is no different. And the comedy is so intelligent - and thats not to say that I'm intelligent, just that you have to think through the one-liners. Much like a favourite comedian Jimmy Carr, these one-liners from Woody Allen is what makes him so intelligent - except Woody squeezes these one-liners into a dramatic story.

Apparently, originally this Murder Mystery was squeezed into Annie Hall but, thank God, the Marshall Brickman/Woody Allen script for Annie Hall has no murder element whatsoever. But, Allen does team up with Marshall Brickman to complete this script so it does remain as chirpy as Annie Hall but without the heart. I think it was Madonna who said that "there are all the songs about people breaking-up and getting together - but none about staying together". This film has a great strong central theme in how couples can stay together.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003)

"Get the fuck out and don't come back! Some heavy shit's going down!"


So, I briefly mentioned this on the podcast when I had just seen Four Lions. While this is not the same as Four Lions, Elephant is similar in its controversy: humanizing people who are seen by many as inhuman. Even merely animals. While Four Lions focuses on four/five would-be terrorists plotting to bomb London, Elephant focuses on the Columbine School Massacre. Not only did this film come to my mind due to the similarities between the two, the main reason was the choice of Elephant being the 'best film of the decade' by Matty 'Ballgame' Robinson on the Filmspotting podcast. Whislt Sam and Adam chose There will be Blood and Mulholland Drive - this film seemed to come way out of left field. So, we come to my film-dilemma - how can I call myself a film fan if a presenter on a hugely-successful podcast names a film as best-of-the-decade - and yet I haven't seen it! Thats madness. So, to my favourite store Fopp I went and, parting with merely £5, I purchased Elephant...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 16/05/2010

We're coming to you from the mean streets of East London. This week the Simon and Jo Film Show starts outside the Rio Cinema in Hackney bringing you some of the latest news from the cinematic world, including a few titbits from the Cannes Film Festival. Once inside Jo has a review of Hot Tub Time Machine, which does roughly what it says on it the tin and a little bit more besides. There's the top five films in London and random thoughts on the new releases as well as more shocking news featuring the latest twist in the career of Willem Dafoe, star of Antichrist.

Lucky Simon has seen Robin Hood so he can discuss the latest Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe epic, especially in relation to Prince of Thieves. Then we're back outside the Rio Cinema to chat about some trailers, Super-8, Easy-A, Waiting for Superman and The Killer Inside Me.

Shout out to the LAMBcast, about to announce some Lammy nominations...

Music is from Hot Tub Time Machine, let's get it started in here!
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 10/05/2010

This week the 'Simon & Jo Film Show' comes to you from London's glittering West End! We start outside the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden with news of an exciting development in the career of young Lindsay Lohan. Then it's off to the lovely Curzon Soho for a review of Four Lions from Simon, as well as the Top Five London Box Office, our thoughts on the latest movie releases and a bit more news including speculation on who'll be taking on the part of Lisbeth in Finchers Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.

We take a trip back in time to talk about a pair of fifties classics. There's sexual tension aplenty in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and some tense legal debate in 12 Angry Men. Finally we end up in Leicester Square speculating on the latest exciting trailers for Machete, Street Dance 3-D and Countdown to Zero.

Shout out to the Dark of the Matinee, Movie Moxie and Toronto Screen Shots for 'Hot Docs', a great documentary festival in Toronto.

Music is a mish mash from Four Lions, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and 12 Angry Men... 
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 02/05/2010

From a park in Camden, Simon and Jo begin this weeks podcast. Tackling the news about the new Robin Hood, Batman 3 and Mickey Rourke followed by a review of Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2 that features, no other than Mickey Rourke and Robert Downey Jnr.

The London box-office is an opportunity to raise concerns and the Bangor Rep gets his view squeezed in to boot.

Finally, we discuss three trailers - namely The Human Centipede, Buried and Jonah Hex - which are easy enough to see on YouTube. And, while you're on YouTube, check out our 'channel' for The Simon and Jo Film Show.

Shout Out to Encores World of TV and Film - a great blog if ever I knew one.

Music is AC/DC and, obviously, from Iron Man 2...

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)

"When you were little, your Mother tied a white ribbon in your hair or around your arm. Its white colour was to remind you of innocence and purity."


Discussed on a previous episode of 'The Simon and Jo Film Show', 'The White Ribbon' was the winner of the Palme D'Or at Cannes '09, and as we build up to Cannes 2010, it seems the appropriate time to raise a few points on this film. As always - and especially with this film - the scope of this film is much larger than the small section I will explore. I only saw this film once - at the good ol' Barbican - and am keen to watch it again ... but, this is additionally the first Michael Haneke film I have seen and currently the sweet 10-film boxset (not available in USA by the looks of things...) has been spotted for £40 in Fopp... time will tell ...

Definition of the Past

The film is set in rural Germany in a small village. It purposefully pre-dates both World Wars and within the community most people - excpt perhaps the children - all have defined roles. A doctor, a schoolteacher, pastor, baron, baroness, midwife, etc. Then, in a completely still shot, we see a horse ride towards camera - and as it crosses the space between a gateway, it flips over. A wire had been set, purposefully, to trip up the horse with the doctor riding. We ask the question who set this trap? The invisible nature of evil parrallels with the invisibility of the wire set as a trap. We don't know why it is there, we don't know who planned it - but we do know it was a person with intent to hurt.

The Pastors children - Klara and Martin - are portrayed early on as incredibly sinister and, ultimately, badly behaved. The Pastor ties small white ribbons to their arms to remind them of their purity - but uses a cane to sanction the children for trivial offences. In one incredibly sensitive scene, the Pastor learns of Martin beginning to masturbate and tells him the horrors that will bestow him if he continues - and then he ties his hands to the bed frame. The group of children Klara and Martin walk around with are equally dubious - we question their morals and, potentially, their involvement with the crimes in the village.

A Narration of Events
The narrator is a school teacher who recounts events as he fell in love with a Nanny - Eva. What is interesting, is that the first line from him discredits his relaiability, stating something along the lines of "I can't remember exactly what happened but...". His role is in education - it could be assumed that it is his role to educate the children in the village and potentially he takes partial responsibility for the childrens misdemeanors. The fact-of-the-matter is that the adults are as corrupt (if not moreso) than the children. So, while Martin is 'educated' in how masturbation is wrong - the Doctor completely humiliates the midwife - a relationship he conducted prior to him deceased wife's death. Additionally, the Doctor sexually abuses his own daughter.

Set in a Historical Context

I remember reading somewhere that Spielberg chosen to shoot 'Schindlers List' in black and white because whenever he was told about the holocaust and educated about World War II, it was always through black and white photographs and footage. In a potentially similar way, 'The White Ribbon' is shot in black and white though, as I heard through Filmspotting, this was due to a production issue - the company wanted a version in colour to show on TV (???) so, Haneke shot the film in colour and then took the colour out in post-production. It does give the film a historical weight and importance.

The film ends as Archeduke Franz Ferdinand is assasinated and war is declared and our narrator, the school teacher, leaves the village. The focus is how the predating of this film is to show how these children became the fascists of World War II - a vague attempt at understanding the twisted morals of the Nazi's. This makes a great talking-point post-viewing.

Personally, I couldn't help but compare this to M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Village'. Though less art-house, both films focus upon the corrupt attempts authority have to control the children in their care. In a strange way, the limited palette of Shyamalan and Haneke also strike true - whilst personally I prefer the fog and marshy space surrounding Shyamalans village opposed to Hanekes cold and shiny village. The colour that attracts 'those that we don't speak of'  becoming void in Shyamalans village create a fascinating yellow and green colour scheme, whilst the black and white coolness of Hanekes village make a much more underlying sinister horror opposed to the more obvious and explicit horror in 'The Village'.

Obviously, this is a review I could add to and explore moreso in the future. But, at the moment, I shall merely recommend 'The White Ribbon' highly - a gradual build-up deconstructing the twisted morals of characters in history. Yet like the best historical films, it has a striking relevance today as the world our children now grow up within - celebrity role models, possessions to define wealth, happiness defined by money - will inevitably have a knock-on effect on their adult lives but, we await with baited breath, as to how. No answers from Michael Haneke, merely the question raised.

In the words from 'Starship Troopers' - do you want to know more? Check out this article discussing faith in the film.

Large Association of Movie Blogs