DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: February 2013

Thursday, 28 February 2013


A handsome and classy Disney-sports drama, surprisingly intelligent and detailed about the sport. While mostly free of the schmaltzy sappiness of some of their other efforts of the past 10 years, like 'Remember the Titans', it's missing the dramatic tension and urgency of say, 'Seabiscuit'.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Ballad of Narayama

A brilliant hybrid of stage theatricality and bold colour anamorphic photography elevate this strange Japanese folk legend of a woman who desperately desires to die honourably in the hallowed heights of a mysterious mountain into a haunting and powerful artifact of Japanese cinema’s golden age.

Monday, 25 February 2013

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

This film gets me every time. The final moments, when the Chief discovers McMurphy’s been lobotomized, kills him out of pity, then completes Mac's metaphorical task of lifting the water fountain off the ground, plunging it through the window, thus releasing him into the wild to freedom, is as triumphant a climax as their ever was in cinema.

Friday, 22 February 2013

People on Sunday

A unique collaboration of future Hollywood ex-pats, Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinneman, Curt Siodmak and Edgar Ulmer meets the mark we’d expect from such young and talented filmmakers, a freeform kind of neo-realism combining non-actors in an unsecured real-world setting with only a semblance of a narrative script. And it's intoxicating.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Contagion is a film to enjoy in the moment and forget once it's finished. While it portends to be a film about 'ideas', the only thing to savour is its technical acuity, which makes it effectively nothing more than an action film.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Perhaps the best action scene ever in a Bond film is a remarkable hand-to-hand scrap in a Shanghai high rise, elegantly shot in silhouette with a colourful neon advertisement in the background. It’s short but indicative of director Sam Mendes’ admirable modus operandi – brevity, judiciousness and evocative imagery – which help make Skyfall the most cinematic of all the Bond films.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ivan's Childhood

Andrei Tarkovsky's debut is a whilring dervish of cinema, and perhaps the final word on the impact of war on children on film. As an introduction to Tarkovsky, the sometimes inpenetrable cine-poet, the film is also his most accessible. Virtuoso camera flourishs and astonishing B&W lighting and composition brings to mind the midcareer films of Fellini, Welles and  Kalatozov, and newer generation masters Miklos Jancsó's and Bela Tarr.

Friday, 15 February 2013


Rethinking the traditional notions of the Hollywood musical, Bob Fosse’s Cabaret still bedazzles us with seemless blend pre-war period melodrama and its the unpolished kitchen-sink musical numbers to arrive at his sublime political musical which discards the razzle-dazzle in favour of the seediness of a two-bit burlesque show.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Duellists

Little seen and infrequently discussed, it's easy to forget Ridley Scott made this humble period film, based on Joseph Conrad's short story, The Duel. It's also easy to overpraise this picture because of its obscurity. Spectacularly beautiful, influenced heavily by Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, the film suffers from Scott's stolid pacing and a palpable disconnect between style and substance, recurring critiques in many of Scott's later work. That said, this movie is essential for any film buff's collection, as it shows the early development of Scott's prevailing visual aesthetic, which, for good and bad, has made him a populist auteur.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Source Code

Good on Duncan Jones, who authored the wonderful sci-fi low budgeter Moon to quickly take on some more work. But as a director taking the paycheque, he only delivers a decent adaptation of this sci-fi recycling machine.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Mon Oncle Antoine

The story of a rural and wintery Quebec mining town as seen through eyes of a young teenage boy, Antoine is deservedly revered for it's poetic depiction of an aging and soon to be outmoded way of life, a timeless classic, John Ford-worthy elegance transplanted to a French-Canadian winter.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Tron Legacy

There’s a strong whiff of the Matrix wafting through Tron Legacy for good and bad. The retro action jamboree, the 80’s nostalgic cyberpunk aesthetic of the original film injected with the best of modern special effects, action moviemaking sensibilities as well as some super hot Tron babes in neon latex jumpsuits.  But like the Matrix films, familiar and recycled characterizations renders anything other than the non-action scenes mostly struggle to get through.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Something Wild

'Something Wild' surviving the stink of the 80's stands up as one of the best films of the decade. It sits in a pile of unquantifiable quirky films of the ‘80s, which are distinct to the decade and represent the attempt of filmmakers to subvert the strong capitalist conservative values of that time. We could also include Martin Scorsese’s 'After Hours' and a handful of Jim Jarmusch films ('Down By Law', 'Stranger in Paradise', 'Mystery Train') in this bucket.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Dead Zone

Despite the auspicious pairing of Stephen King and David Cronenberg, The Dead Zone is more cerebral and brooding than the gorefest one might expect. Bloodletting is kept to a minimum, and instead the psychological impact of predicting someone’s own death keeps up the intensity, arguably a significant tonal shift for Cronenberg, in many ways foreshadowing some of his future endeavours.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Here Liam Neeson has considerably less fighting to do than in Taken, but he’s still in the same scenario as in Taken – a regular American in a foreign place, with everyone conspiring around him fighting to find his wife and claim his identity. Two-thirds of the film is exciting, but the rest, the ending, fails us. But we still have Liam Neeson's commanding presence, his awesome nose and sideways profile to behold, and a few ass-kickings as well to satisfy our appetite for destruction.

Monday, 4 February 2013


In MacGruber, there are two sex scenes featuring the bombastic super agent MacGruber making love with such ugliness, they are so goddamned hilarious. And regardless of how bland and repetitive MacGruber might be, they are worth the five bucks to rent this movie.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Long Riders

Walter Hill's Peckinpah-influenced Western classic exemplifies everything that is great about Walter Hill: Genre action as a form of art, his terrific ear for music, his montage-style editing, and his fetish for broken glass.