Thursday, 29 July 2010

La Vie En Rose (Olivier Dahan, 2007)

"If you were to give advice to a woman, what would it be?"


I have found myself, more often than not, deciding to complete other blog posts these days rather than the back-bone reviews on the site. Having a scan through the notes I made for so many films, I thought with this Inception buzz continuing, it makes complete sense to revisit my notes for La Vie En Rose - the often-mentioned biopic on Edith Piaf and starring Marion Coutillard...

From Humble Beginnings ...

Like many strong biopics, La Vie En Rose begins from with a poverty-stricken family. Young Edith cries on the streets of Paris, she gets taken in by what appears to be a brothel and then moves onto joining a circus. These strange beginnings are all stuck together amongts this jigsaw of a film as we bounce between different stages of her life - but I have a funny feeling this is somehow representing the all-over-the-place nature of Piaf herself, as she clearly had severe mental-health issues. Unlike other

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Across The Blogosphere...

As part of the FILM BLOGS group, I was asked to put out their Monthly Film Blogs round-up - which, effectively doubles-up for my Across the Blogosphere. They are a few from last week, but their are also loads more than I normally do! Because there is alot of writing...

"Hello Blog Writers and Blog Readers,

This is Simon writing here from 'The Simon and Jo Film Show' (oh, now that you ask, its a podcast that covers film on a weekly basis - much fun can be had! ITs on itunes and my personal blog is - do check it out!) and I've been asked to put together an email of links to check out for all you film bloggers!

The blogging community is a funny one, it seems many blog-readers are actually blog-writers. Obviously, many people will find your special post via Google searches and recommendations from other sites - if IMDB recommend your review perhaps? But, in the first instance blog-readers being blog-writers is a great starting point because, if the blog-writer who reads your blog likes your blog enough, they will write about reading your blog and the beautiful circle of [blogging] life continues.

Fact is, commenting to simply show your appreciation is what everyone seeks - do you like their article? do you agree? is a fact incorrect? (Once I claimed Fellini was an Italian Neo-Realist! Ouch, thank you to Mike Lippert on You Talkin' To Me? blog for correcting a small mistake!). So, put some time aside, go through the links below and click, read and comment - I guarantee, you'll come off better for it and, if you are wise enough to leave a link to your own blog at the bottom, I further guarantee that those writers will have a gander at your blog too...


If you dig your Alfred Hitchcock it is imperative that you go to Alred Hitchcock Geeks Blog. He covers many, many incredible aspects of Hitchcocks career - aspects that are not covered on the Special Edition DVD. How Cezanne features in 'The Wrong Man', the politics of 'Foreign Correspondant'... seek it out at:

Flickering Myth is a blog run by many different members - therefore covering a wide range of topics and issues. Recently, I read all my latest information on Comic-Con in San Diego on their site - and they handily provide the links to find out what the trailers and reveals were. Find them at:

Rachel at Rachels Reel Reviews is a great blog as, for one, she has a daily change of events - from the 'Saturday Soapbox' through to the 'Thursdays Three' and 'Fridays New Feature Films'. She also has a podcast - Reel Insight - released on a weekly basis. Then, ON TOP of this she does additional bits and bobs. Find her at:

The Audient rips apart Tarsem Singh's 'The Cell' starring Vince Vaughn , J-Lo and Vincent D'Onofrio. Personally, I love how, back in the day, Vince Vaughan starred in 'The Cell', 'Jurassic Park: The Lost World' and 'Psycho '98'. Whoever told him to go down the comedy route should be paid alot of money. Find this specific post by typing:

The Intermittent Sprocket claims himself that he is "a projectionist and a waster. Which makes every thought that pops into my head important enough to spit up on the internet.". Though I wouldn't knock him down so much, he does have a great understanding of the films and the marketing - recently he wrote about tag lines" Check him out on:

Julian Stark over at Movies And Other Things writes some great posts but, what is even more interesting, is that throughout the year he is predicting the Oscar Contenders... oh? who is going to be up for Best Picture 2011? No ideas? He has it all planned out:


I have only just found this:

Seems to be not only a blog which covers a range of cienmatic issues, but also a place whereby the informatyion is stored and available. Separate sections focussing solely on 'Structure' and 'Character' provide a wealth of reading material for budding screenwriters.


If you are hunting down more blogs to read, have a gander at the LAMB (The Large Association of Movie Blogs) whereby, regularly, they release LAMB Chops or Bloody Chops or Classic Chops - respectively looking at simply great posts, great posts amongst the horror-film bloggers out there and posts about classic cinema, pre-1979.

The LAMB can be found at:

Do check them out! and comment if you support them!


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show:25/07/2010

Considering how Simon is in immense pain due to an unforeseen tooth ache (root canal and crown due on Monday...), it is lucky this podcast made it out! We record in the safety of Jo's pad in Stockwell as Simon manages to discuss the plus points of Pixars latest Toy Story 3, whilst we then move onto the London box-office, the new releases and then - to finish - the 1984 classic Repo Man.


Email us on
We briefly mentioned Mad Hatters Matineecast and He Shot Cyrus, whilst also completely supporting the latest Slash Filmcast featuring a reviewer, Armond White, who hated Inception.


All music is from the soundtrack to Toy Story 3. 
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Series 1 (Created by Larry David, 2000)


So I had initially watched this first season a few years ago - Sarah joined me for three episodes before deciding she thought it was trash. Myself on the other hand watched the entire first season deciding, at the end, that I wanted to watch everything. I sold it - on the basis that I wuld buy the boxset and Sarah, the perfect woman and equally glutton-for-punishment, purchased the entire series for my birthday. Great times for me, not so much for Sarah who - again - after three episodes, decided, again, she hated it (despite liking Larry David in 'Whatever Works').

The Same Old Story

I think the awkward-situations-with-strange-character television shows can never be 'got' upon the first viewing. You need to understand the character in whatever context - understanding their traits and the inevitable outcome of situations. Larry David's character is constantly wound-up, but the comedy is not only in his reactions (he simply gets so angry!) but in the progression of the story. After two episodes you realise that the intelligence of Curb Your Enthusiasm is how the programme is set-up and plays out. Every single thing that happens in the first ten minutes will come back to haunt Larry. The irony in how, as you watch these first ten minutes, you can understand Larry's choices and the difficult (sometimes just obvious...) decisions he has to make. The way you can relate to him makes this set-up that much more intrinsic - but like the best comedy (and horror), you cringe throughout as you know it will go wrong, you know someone will get upset and you know Larry will take the fall... you just don't know how. Akin to horror, whereby you know the ghoul is around the corner you just don't know when it will appear and what it looks like (I think Hitchcock said something similar about horror in publicity for Psycho).

Some example perhaps. In the very first episode as Larry's very flippant comment referring to his wife as 'Hitler' has huge ramifications through Jeff's parents, the situation escalates through - as Larry simply digs a deeper hole. In fact, thats a great way to enjoy Curb - 30 minutes of Larry David digging himself into a hole. What I loved about re-watching the first episode is that, even knowing the style of the programme, the problems that arise continue to happen - in some cases with no consequence. So, again, in the first episode, Larry David, having insulted and fallen out with Richard Lewis's girlfriend turns down the dinner invite the four were due to have and, instead, goes to a meal with Cheryl and, as they sit down to eat, Richard Lewis and his girlfriend sit on a table at another section of the restaurant. You watch this and think "Oh God, what will happen now?" and nothing becomes of the situation. In fact, it simply adds to the awkward environment for the sake of Larry David. Larry David alone feels awkward and can see what could happen - but knows he can't do anything about it. This is funnier still, as we the audience are constantly in that position, whereby we simply see the situations play out and know something will happen - but can do nothing to stop it...

Long-Running Themes

Having only recently started the second series, you have only a handful of long-running storys. On the whole, anyone can simply watch one episode and just see the sword fall on Larry David, but certain themes seem to continue on. 'Sour Grapes', Larrys film is constantly brought up - without anyone actually seeing footage from the film - whilst the bracelet Larry and Richard Lewis fight over recurs, as does the fight itself. These are small aspects that don't affect your watching of each episode - but from watching the series back-to-back, its a nice little pay-off.

Its Not Over Yet

Most people, I have found, who like Curb Your Enthusiasm watched a random episode from the later series and then 'got into it', going back to the first series. I watched the first series first and therefore decided to get into it before having watched it (it could have gone wrong, but when you pay for something you watch it the whole way through!). Fact is, friends - Richard and Jo (from 'The Beautiful Game?' blog) - both watched a few episodes and became increasingly frustrated with the bad-acting of Larry David - and the extreme personalities of some of the side characters (the shoe guy from the second episode, the wife of Gil in the episode Porno Gil). I can appreciate this, but I think Larry David's 'acting' is more of just his character - so I personally simply 'accepted' that it was who he is. The side characters are often seen as ridiculous by Larry David- their eccentricities being the reason for Larry's exceptional frustration. I have a funny feeling that Larry's acting gets better in the following seasons and the episodes become more refined and defined int time.

Personally, I think if - like me - you enjoy The Office (More specifically, the British version) - then you should give the first series of Curb Your Enthusiasm a chance and, like the best of these, one episode is not enough. Once you have 'got' the style, set-up and characters, you'll never look back.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Favourite Film Faces #5: Emperor Zurg in 'Toy Story 2'

Having just watched 'Toy Story 3', I must admit I missed Emperor Zurg. Then again, I was glad the film didn't constantly 'nod' to the previous films - showing Sid as an older guy, showing Wayne Knights crappy toy store, etc.

I have no idea how Zurg would have fitted into the story without being a shameless 'remember this guy' moment, but one idea might have been to use Zurg as an example of a Toy that gets destroyed by the toddlers. Imagine the horror!

Fact is, the start of Toy Story 2 was incredible and, I remember how - on DVD - I thought it looked incredible. Ultimately, it still does look amazing.

On a side note, I can't seem to write comments on certain bloggers posts and, interestingly, The Kid in The front Row had a dilemma about watching previous Toy Story films prior to the third one. I was fully intending to watch the 2nd one prior to watching the third (having watched Toy Story in 3D on its rerelease) but, alas, some friend had borrowed it and didn't get it back to me. Upon watching the third one, I realised that the music themes were still very similar and I reckon, if I did watch all the films over a week - i would have got a little disillusioned and bored by the same-y music and same-y jokes and characters. To cut a long story short, if you have watched the first two loads in the past, you don't need to rewatch them before watching 3 ... until you have a shiney new boxset whereby it is, almost, a ritual. 

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Across The Blogosphere...

First off, credit where credit is due - primarily to His Majesty himself - Fletch from Blog Cabins who helped me to cover all the blogs I love to read. I am on blogger and have always used the Blogger Dashboard and, obviously, that is exclusively covering blogger blogs - all the Wordpress blogs are a distant few clicks away. Thus, personal favourites such as Cut The Crap Movie Reviews and The List only get sporadic attention when I remember to check.

Nevertheless, Google Reader is 'my friend' as Fletch told me and I have now consolidated all my blogs into that list. It still might be a while before I have all the external blogger blogs covered, but so far, I am a happy chappy.

Links to check out then!

First up, the Kid in the Front Row has watched something at the Hackney Empire - a theatre only a stones throw from the school I teach in. He watched 'Staff Benda Bilili', having seen a documentary about them. He mentions how the audience was primarily white and middle-class - which jarred a little with the artists performing. I must say, when I saw the last Pantomime at the same venue in Hackney, I had a similar feeling - and it was made double-strange because the area itself is hugely multi-cultural with a huge afro-carribean community... the Hackney Community seem to be the last people to go to the Hackney Empire.

At least a year ago, the Alfred Hitchcock Geek explained the numerous parrallels art has with Hitchcock movies. Specifically noting how Edward Hopper influenced his city-scapes - this latest post on how Cezanne influenced 'The Wrong Man' merely adds to the incredible depth of Hitchcock movies.

Finally, for the football - or 'soccer' - folk amongst you, Co-presenter of 'The Simon and Jo Film Show', Jo, and presenter of 'Bournes Brain Baffler', Richard have started a 'Football Blog' called 'The Beautiful Game'. Its new and growing and is currently in the process of an overview of the World Cup. They really appreicate feedback, so football folk amongst you, get stuck in!
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 18 July 2010


The finale was an oddity and no mistaking. Thanks to a recommendation from the Bibby sisters I was sitting comfortably for Dogtooth, a Greek film starring a family with a very confused heart and way of doing things.

The story shows what happens when parents decide to create their own set of rules to keep their three children at home, imprisoned. They've bought them up to understand they can only leave the grounds of the house when their dogtooth has fallen out. As the tooth will never fall out the children, whose age is unclear but they appear to be in their early twenties, cannot leave. Indeed thanks to the world that's been created around them they fear the outside, taking appropriate opportunities to bark at it. All rules, from definitions of words to interacting with people, come from the immediate family circle. This kind of social experiment is complicated by mum and dads intention to stay in control by changing meanings and that's an approach which gets increasingly out of hand.

The escalation of the lies results in increasingly violent confrontations, although with a surreal edge as normal reactions definitely aren't in play here. The intrusion of a cat into the garden has an especially bloody conclusion which illustrates the extremeness of the abnormal behaviour and allows for further twists of the crazy rules. This control is further explored in further explicit fashion when the father brings in a young woman to satisfy his sons sexual urges. This ritual is pretty damn uncomfortable for the participants and audience but including an outsider further also shifts the plot on by creating further conflict, complications and misunderstandings.

As the situation unfolds there is certainly a distinct lack of explanation of what the blazes is going on. The non traditional nature of the families communication means that the viewer is rarely aware what exactly is being talked about. Indeed the conversations take odd twists which are darkly comic. Such as the necessity to explain that a pussy is a big light. And the eldest being exposed to films which lead her to decide she wants to be called Bruce. It's all stilted and confusing but oddly engaging. The apex of this bizarre world is a dancing scene which manages to be hilarious and horrible, the desperation to impress collides with a desire to express feelings utilising a completely random style. Compelling stuff.

Speculation on social experimentation is generally pretty interesting. How indeed would a child react under such conditions. The motivation of the parents is never clear, there's a suggestion of misguided protection but the mystery sustains a level of interest although it's a constant struggle knowing who to trust or root for. The children are bloody confusing, it's difficult to connect with people operating in such a different world and the outbursts they partake in are don't make them likeable. But the actors present experimentation of human nature really rather well, so there's sympathy to feel for their predicament and an abrupt ending which allows for a little personal speculation.

It's a slow burning look at what might happen when parents try shape their children on an extreme level. Punctuated with challenging moments of sex and violence as well as black comedy Dogtooth made for a decent end to this particular holiday journey.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 18/07/2010

This week on the Simon & Jo Film Show the dream is real. Simon has seen Inception and shares his opinions on the latest cerebral blockbuster from Christopher Nolan, without giving any plot details away. Truly he is skilled. There's plenty of new news to enjoy, including details of a couple of Hollywood marriages and the latest casting speculation from the land of Marvel where Hulk is once again surrounded by controversy. Jolly stuff.

As a special post birthday present to Simon Jo watched Jurassic Park. He offers a different perspective on the dino classic, as well as some choice words on Oscar winner Michael Clayton. They both have views on the new releases and London Box Office, as well as discussing the lengths Adrien Brody went to for the new Predators film. Crikey.

There's a shout out for She Blogged by Night, a fantastic blog currently featuring a timely Nolathon but spoiler alert. There are spoilers within.

The trailers they chat about are; It's Kind of a Funny Story & Due Date, Devil, Biutiful. The music this week is from Inception which Jo should have seen by next week. He's so behind the times!

Any feedback, aggressive or otherwise, can be sent here.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Across The Blogosphere...

I am fnding this not-got-the-internet-at-home situation ongoing and, as frustrating as it is, it seems to be making me more prolific (though I am aware I missed the favourite faces this week, I have It ready - i just have to 'freeze-frame' the shot)! With all that Danny Boyle and Coen's coverage, even Jo has written a review! So hopefully everything on here - especially the Jurassic Park Special Podcast - is appreciated by everyone!

But what about everyone elses blogs!

Univarn, so I see, has a 'final line' project that appears to analyse the final lines of actors, I guess before they died. This week is Clark Gable - one of my favourite actors - with a short interpretation of the meaning. It is strange to know that Marilyn Monroe's 'final line' was preceded Gable's ...

The Great White Dope brags about a hefty-haul of movies - some Woody Allen's I see - but also an Ed Wood Collection ... I have to admit, thats a difficult watch.

Finally... a non-Movie blog I am following ... from 'Gin and Gentility', a Christian is offended by the rats in Ratatouille not wearing undergarments...

Happy times!
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Remember one thing when they’re arresting you yeah. You ain’t getting this, I don’t cook and girls rule. Bitch.

It has indeed been a while since my last post on the cinematic binge. Blame the World Cup for that particular delay but the pause has not diluted my vitriol for this particular piece of cinematic bunkum. It was the first film I saw on Thursday 10th June, which was the final day of the odyssey.

The plot revolves around four female friends, hence the 4, having an adventurous three days, hence the 3, across two cities, hence the 2. Apparently they also have one chance, to do what is not entirely clear. The story of the crazy weekend is told from each of their perspectives so the puzzle gradually unfolds before the with various interlinking moments. Unfortunately none of the damn pieces quite fit. They are intermittently involved with a small bag of diamonds while living life to the max, taking nasty boys down a peg or two and generally being totally girl power, you get me.


The four girls are Joanne (Emma Roberts, niece of Julia), Cassandra (Tamsin Egerton of St. Trinian’s fame), Shannon (Ophelia Lovibond) and Kerrys (Shanika Warren-Markland). All suitably hot and all completely different characters with their own special skills, from piano playing to being a lesbian, and their own particular issues, including mum’s gone and dad’s hurt his leg, to bring to the table. The talents are certainly admirable but ultimately make every plot movement entirely predictable and the problems are rammed into the audiences gut at every opportunity. Gosh, don’t these sexy ladies have it tough. In fact none of the girls are particularly awful, although Ms Roberts appears a little nervous, they just have zero charisma so rooting for them is never on the cards.

It is possible to occasionally enjoy some decent performances from the supporting cast, in particular rapper Eve, singer Ben Drew and filmmaker Kevin Smith all demonstrate a wittiness in their brief appearances which is entirely absent from the rest of the script. They must have written their own lines. However the girls parents turn out to be a fairly mixed bag. Alexander Siddig does a great job of being a well-rounded stepfather and Ben Miller has a nicely understated manner. On the flipside getting solid British actress Helen McCrory to play an American mum is simply ludicrous and Sean Pertwee spends the entire film sitting on a sofa looking like a confused chump. The entire young male cast are one-dimensional ciphers, designed to make the girls look smart, cool and sexy via their own massive stupidity and/or unconditional love for them. In particular the portrayal of an American geek is cringeworthy to the point of offensiveness.

It appears the that good press from Kidulthood and Adulthood must have gone to the director’s head as Noel Clarke casts himself as the sexy yet dangerous Tee without thinking about how he might play that character beyond looking angry. As for Michelle Ryan, frankly her efforts to be sexily mysterious were somewhat undermined by the fact she just looks intently at people while shouting about diamonds. Do have to give a shout out to Susannah Fielding for bringing a touch of class and romance to the lesbian girlfriend character.

Be assured that this is an adult plot given the target market appears to be teenage girls. The lifestyle seems neither compelling nor clever, but perhaps that is because I’m not a teenage girl. There is a decent helping of surprisingly explicit sex and a constant barrage of swearwords that might have been utilised to create a sense of cool realism but actually became annoying and senseless and no doubt drag in the teenage boys. But then I have been known to be a teenage boy. It is quite astounding how attractive ladies in their underwear can become so boring, so quickly. The film tries to shoehorn in sensitive issues like abortion, conflict diamonds and virginity but ends up blaring out a sense of self importance with a foghorn. No amount of shaky camera or flashy editing or rapid cuts can disguise the complete lack of substance in character and narrative.

The time has come to cross the Thames for the weirdness of Dogtooth.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 11/07/2010

This week, for our 40th show, we 'rip-apart' the Jurassic Park trilogy. It is Simon's birthday, hence he reviews his all-time favourite film and so, it is time for a celebration!

We then cover some feedback sent in - via - and the London Box Office, the new releases and more news.

To finish, finally Simon watched My Blueberry Nights and In the Mood for Love and discusses the two films in the third part.


Rachel from Rachel's Reel Reviews e-mailed in to tell us her opinions on our coverage of Mad Max, whilst Shannon the 'Movie Moxie' wished Simon a happy birthday and has her list of favourite films of 2010, which you can check out on her blog, titled 'Looking Back, Looking Forward'... !


All the music is, pretty much, from the soundtrack to Jurassic Park and composed by John Williams - though we did use excerpts from The Lost World soundtrack and My Blueberry Nights soundtrack.


Available on YouTube, the trailers we discuss are Chain Letter, Piranha 3-D and Little Fockers
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Across The Blogosphere...

First off, problems with comments! Loads of people are getting annoyed with it, including myself, and are even completing posts about it - including Andrew from Encore. So, I guess its a good thing that I can link to the posts that I commented on ... but found the comment deleted shortly afterwards and i wasn't going to type it again now was I?

Mad Hatter completed a great post about the rubbish movies currently at the cinema or, more importantly, if  in time - they will become better. he notes The Hurt Locker and Sunshine as incredible movies that didn't reach their full potential during their summer release. Some great comments from others following the post too!

This is also the subject of the latest LAMBcast which, I must add, gets better every listen!

Mike at 'Are You Talkin' To Me' discusses Twilight and, more importantly, the many homosexual-links within the film... Maybe we should all be 'Team Bella' and simply hope that the two can get together - leaving Bella with her indpendence.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Complete Collection: The Coen Brothers (Part 4)

After the not-so-popular films such as Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers, everyone would talk of the Coen's and mention the big hits of the past - "oh, Fargo - what a film!" or "Lebowski - great movie!" ... but the smaller hits didn't get as much attention until the Coen's created a film with little humour - a film that expected you to take the quirky characters seriously. Enter Chigurgh - evil personifed - in what would become on the Coen's best characters ...

No Country For Old Men (2007)

Cormac McCarthy had become excpetionally well-known through his stand-out novels 'The Road' and 'No Country for Old Men'. We're back in Blood Simple territory as Josh Brolin play Llewelyn Moss in a Texas landscape. He finds money (tick box one...) and tries to escape with it. On the whole, the Coen's threw away the rule book - no Coen cliche casting (except Stephen Root - a forgettable actor who managed to wangle some small parts in both O Brother, Where Art Thou and The Ladykillers...), most of the comedy is out - awkward chuckles perhaps as Chigurh (Javier Bardem) taunts the older man in his gas-station and the woman in the hotel.

We know there is that murderous slant in the serial-killer that is Chigurh. This murder is rooted in a money-obsession of Moss but, if we're honest Tommy Lee Jones almost apathetic Sheriff is quite unique - not as withdrawn as Billy Bob's Ed Crane but in no way eccentric. This is the Coen's reaching the peak of their career. The dusty, desert landscapes alongside the characters completely invested in their surroundings - born and bred in Texas - is Coen-esque, but the sinisterness and, ultimately, horror of No Country for Old Men puts it in a league above all their previous efforts. Blood Simple always had a certain element of inexperience about it - this is what Blood Simple wanted to be: this time a better story, provided by McCarthy, better cast and bigger budget. Coen's at their finest.

Burn After Reading (2008)

Following Oscar-success, the Coen's turn to their own material... and turn to an A-list cast of non-Coens - in Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich - alongside Coenites - in Clooney, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins. I must admit, prior to watching Burn After Reading I have little faith in the Coen's tackling inner-city comedies - see Hudsucker in New York and Intolerable Cruelty in suburban LA (opposed to the working class folk of LA in The Big Lebowski). Fact of the matter is, in Washington DC, this truly works. An incredible cast alongside a plot that folds into itself again and again - leaving you completely perplexed as to what has happened in the previous two hours. The ideas about surveillance and, in the current day and age, the ridiculous nature of 'watching' people and, potentially, the inevitable conclusion and mistakes about surveillance. Clooney plays a pervert who abuses the internet dating services available to him, Brad Pitt as a mere Gym-worker alongside Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins. Interestingly, Coenite JK Simmons (in Ladykillers) plays a baffled CIA reporter as he is aware of what has happened but, ultimately, has to simply draw a line under it and move on with his job.

Roger Deakin's, long time collaborator of the Coens, was not cinematographer on this film - having been replaced by Emmnauel Lubeztki (having worked on Children of Men and Sleepy Hollow), though Carter Burwell provides the score again, to great effect. Personally, I am sure there is an element of 24 is in there somewhere ... but, maybe thats just me...

A Serious Man (2009)
The latest Coen's movie and, strangely enough, the most personal. Finally, despite the intermittent Jewish characters (Barton Fink in Barton Fink ... Walter Sobchak in Lebowski...), the Jewish was by no-means a staple of the Coen's back catalogue (unlike Woody Allen whereby a Jewish joke is a regular occurence). Set in Minnesota, where the Coen's grew up, in 1967, placing the brothers at about the same age as the Son in the story, the references to their own lives are inevitably littered throughout the film. Is Larry Goptnik based on their Dad? Roger Deakins was back on board as cinematographer whilst, on the whole, the cast we relatively new. No Buscemi, Turturro or Clooney here - unknown actors from theatre to play roles that, I imagine, the Coen's did want to be tampered with in any way. Carter Burwell working on the score again, this is possibly the mosy un-Coen film of them all. No murder here and the humour is more awkward-laughter opposed to the big laughs gained in Burn After Reading and Raising Arizona. You could argue that money-issues and infidelity are present - but then again, Larry Goptnik has many issues to deal with, including his job, his children and his attraction to the next-door neighbour. The film also has a Jewish parable to open the story - which I guess could be considered a dream sequence, but crucially, it is not shown in that sense. The finale of the film is grand and epic and the entire look of the film is steeped in pastel colours and, personally, the surburbia of The Man who Wasn't There comes to mind - though it is no way a film noir.

Though nominated for Best Picture, it was not even a real contender. Mostly positive reviews - but a definite change in style. I cannot help but feel that this film may mark a change in the careers of the Coen's...

True Grit (2010)

According to Wikipedia ...  "Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl, undertakes a quest to avenge her father's death at the hands of a drifter named Tom Chaney. Ross persuades an alcoholic marshal named Rooster Cogburn to join her in tracking down Chaney.".

So far, so No Country for Old Men ... but this time with Steven Spielberg to produce...

The Cast so far ...
Jeff Bridges as Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn
Matt Damon as LeBouef
Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney
Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross
Barry Pepper as "Lucky" Ned Pepper

Again, no Coen-ites...

A change indeed.

Top 3 Coen Films

1. The Man Who Wasn't There
2. Fargo
3. No Country For Old Men

Worst Coen Films

1. Intolerable Cruelty
2. The Hudsucker Proxy
3. Blood Simple

Further Reading/Podcasts available through Screen Insight

A detailed analysis of  'Fargo'
A detailed analysis of 'A Serious Man'

'The Simon and Jo Film Show' discusses 'The Ladykillers'
'The Simon and Jo Film Show' discusses 'The Man Who Wasn't There'
'The Simon and Jo Film Show' discusses 'The Hudsucker Proxy' and 'Burn After Reading'
'The Simon and Jo Film Show' discusses 'The Big Lebowski'
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Favourite Film Faces #4: Mel Gibson as Mad Max

If you have listened to the most recent podcast, you will know that Sarah and I were both unimpressed with our first viewing of George Millers 'Mad Max'. The sequence we play a clip of is the montage of Max, his wife and child playing around after Max has just quit the police. He is happy - happy enough to play Tarzan.

I think he is a plonker. Hence this weeks favourite film face - Gibson as a plonker.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Simon and Jo Film Show: 04/07/2010

This week, we fail in comparison to the recent releases in the US - No Toy Story 3, no A-Team, no Karate Kid or Last Airbender. We have got Shrek 4... just, but alas, the Shrek franchise means nothing to us.

Instead, Jo managed to watch the recent release from France: Heartbreaker - aka, L'amacoeur - directed by Pascal Chaumeil and starring Johnny Depp's missus Vanessa Paradis and Romain Duris as the heartbreaker.

We then discuss the London Box-Office and the new releases before moving onto the final 'chunk' whereby Jo has finally managed to watch Michael Winterbottoms 'The Killer Inside Me' and Chris Rock's 'Good Hair' while Simon and Sarah have watched George Miller's 'Mad Max'.


Let Me In - the american remake of Let the Right One In, The Social Network - Fincher and Justin Timberlake... and finally Paranormal Activity 2.


Please do try and e-mail any feedback or questions to - and obviously, if you want your film blog mentioned on the show, send your link and details to the aforementioned email.


All the music is from the soundtrack to 'Heartbreaker' by Klaus Badelt, available from amazon ... in France.

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The Complete Collections: The Coen Brothers (Part 3)

Other than financial concerns, every film the Coen's had made got pretty-much positive criticism. Miller's Crossing and The Hudsucker Proxy had its interesting concepts, but ultimately failed at the box-office. Whatever the case, producers knew, with the right restraints (not too mcuh money...) the Coen's had an established audience and all they needed was a certain amount of freedom to continue to enlarge the audience they were building...

O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)

George Clooney joining John Turturro, John Goodman, Holly Hunter (previously in Raising Arizona) and many others in a new Coen's movie. This time it is a retelling of Homer's Odyssey, but in the Coen's unique style. Clooney, Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson are three convicts who escape from prison to look for money that Clooney's character is positive awaits them. It will be split amongst the three. Set in Mississippi in the 1930's, we know we are in familiar territory. The Hudsucker Proxy dealt with the era surrounding The Great Depression from the perspective of New York, while this film is set in deserts and grassy plains from inner-America. Lets just recap and see where we have ended up so far with the Coen's. Having previously mentioned Hudsucker based in New York on the east coast, Blood Simple based in the deep South of Texas, Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski are set in west-coast LA, Fargo is set between Minnesota and North

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Complete Collection: The Coen Brothers (Part 2)

So we movie into the nineties - following Raising Arizona in '87 and Blood Simple in '84 ...

Miller's Crossing (1990)

So, after the first six years, we find ourselves with an exceptionally moody and classical film as the Coen's tackle the Film Noir genre full-on with a gangster story. The film-noir angle was to be expected and the moody-ness meant not too much comedy ... and with Gabrial Byrne and Albert Finney too, you knew this was going to be a different style of film for the Coen brothers. But wait, we have some correlations still. For one, the entire film sits upon the decision Byrne decides to make when he doesn't kill John Turturro's sneaky character - someone having trouble murdering someone else methinks? and, to top it off, we have some infidelity as Gabriel Byrne is sleeping with his bosses long-time moll Verna. The concern with this film was that, maybe the Coen's were now making what they had always wanted to make - no retro 'style', this film is set in the thirties - but ultimately, the Coen's lost money, becoming a financial flop. This is contrary to strong reviews and, in the long-term, making a whole lot of dosh through DVD sales and rentals. So even a film deemed 'weak' in financial terms, still manages to keep hold of its dignity and ultimately continued to show how The Coen's were no 'freak' occurence or one-trick ponies... they were filmmakers born-and-bred. But it would be a while before they are entrusted to such a big-budget again. Of all the actors cast, we already know of hte 'top trumps' so far - Frances McDormand, John Goodman - and now - John Turturro.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Complete Collection: The Coen Brothers (Part 1)

"It's a funny thing because you look at the careers of other filmmakers, and you see them sort of slow down, and you realize, maybe this becomes harder to do as you get older. That's sort of a cautionary thing. I hope it doesn't happen to me." - Joel Coen

There is a website that has a section devoted to entire back-catalogues of directors - the title? 'Now I've Seen Everything'. This is now going to begin on this site, titled: The Big Tamale.

The main priority is for me to textulise (the typed version of verbalise) my thoughts on the career of the directors and how they have managed to make such good films - and the porkers amongtst these films too.

Born in the fifties, and in their early-fifties, the two were born in Minnesota. On the vast majority of their films, Joel is credited as director whilst Ethan as producer - both taking credit for the screenplay. Fact is, on the whole, they do everything together.

Joel originally worked as a production assistant on music videos and industrial videos but then, I guess, made a fair few contacts through good ol' Sam Raimi, whereby Joel served as assistant-editor on a feature debut of Raimi's called The Evil Dead in 1981. But the two of them were in the process of writing something ...