DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: March 2014

Friday, 21 March 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street

What a pleasure to see at age 70 Martin Scorsese, into the latter stage of his career, deliver one more sprawling crime picture, in this case a film which acts like a capper to a trilogy including Goodfellas and Casino, three pictures connected by the director's blistering cinematic pace, it's fascinating viewpoint into three segments of high stakes crime and corruption and it's sympathetic portrait of three contemptible characters. Once again Scorsese succeeds.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

George Washington

David Gordon Green’s dreamy feature debut renowned for its swath of Terrence Malick affectations feels even more warm and inviting fourteen years later. The consciously lazy narrative of a group of rural Texan kids, black and white, co-habitating happily, and growing up impervious to the pretty bleak squalor around them, is the functional foundation for Green’s lush tonal aesthetic. Essentially the film is made up of small moments of infectious and hypnotising beauty, moments and scenes which don’t always coalesce together fluidly, but collectively whet our palette through its nostalgic filter of childlike naivete.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen’s already celebrated picture consciously manages to find a medium ground between the intimate and avant-garde roots of his earlier pics and the broad historical canvas of American slavery. As devastating it is to see slavery depicted on screen he never seems to match the level of visceral impact as his debut Hunger. Thus, however powerful and moving there’s a feeling he’s tamed himself for the sake of American and Hollywood acceptability.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A Brief History of Time

The story and science of renowned astro-physicist Stephen Hawking was given the Errol Morris cinematic treatment in A Brief History of Time in 1991. Morris’ ability to probe deep into unique idiosyncratic characters is put to the ultimate test in Hawking, the wheelchair bound genius with no way of communicating other than his hand controlled clicker and computer-translated voice. And yet through his inert facade emerges perhaps the most enlightening character study he’s ever made.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Saturn 3

There’s very little to praise in Saturn 3, the much-maligned Razzy-nominated science-fiction film from 1980, which appears like a stain on Stanley Donen’s ('Singing in the Rain', 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers') esteemed filmography. At the time, we could admire Donen’s desire to step into another genre, similar to Robert Wise’s success with 'Star Trek The Motion Picture' a year prior, but even with relaxed expectations today, the film never rises above a mere curiosity-piece for the talent involved.

Friday, 7 March 2014


Thomas Hardy’s tragic 19th century novel adapted as a luscious period film by Roman Polanski is a unique notch on his filmography rarely discussed or acknowledged. Made in 1979 after his escape to France, the film beautifully rounds out Polanski’s long and successful career as it remains one of the three pictures of his nominated for best picture and best director (along with Chinatown and The Pianist).

Thursday, 6 March 2014

300 Spartans

With today’s eyes this version of the Battle of Thermopylae serves only ‘Sword and Sandal’ genre enthusiasts (although this one was Greek-made with Hollywood involvement) and curiosity seekers interested in the origins of Frank Miller’s cult graphic novel 300 and by association the monumentally successful Zach Snyder film. Otherwise it’s a dull historical actioner from start to finish.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Alan's Top Ten Films of All Time

Ok, Daily Film Dose is not daily any more. It’s not dead, in fact very much alive (in my head). I’ve been it for over 7 years and I’ve never posted an all-time favourite list. And so here it is, for what it’s worth. Ten films that stick to me so vividly and profoundly more than anything else I’ve ever seen.

How Green Was My Valley (1941) dir. John Ford

This film exemplifies everything that is great about John Ford, even more so than any of his revered Westerns. Ford's signature elegant style creates a romantic view of Welsh coal mining family living through turbulent times. Told from the point of view of young Roddy McDowell's character there's a filter of romanticized nostalgia which Ford embellishes with all his cinematic powers. Breathtaking recreation of the town is front and centre. Arguably one of the greatest locations and sets ever built. The coal mine perched atop a hill at the end of the town and the rows of houses which follow down the valley creates Parthenon-like compositional perfection. And those plumes of smoke which linger in distance so perfectly in the frame was all part of Ford’s obsessive design. The film's trump card though is the astonishingly emotional ending, as moving and powerful as anything in Ford's oeuvre and the history of cinema for that matter. To some the film is notable for being the one that bested Orson Welles and Citizen Kane for Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards but How Green Was My Valley is better and I bet Welles would agree.