Tag Archives: movie

The Battle of the Century

The comedic geniuses, Laurel and Hardy show us what happens when aggression and revenge are channeled through slapstick and 3,000 custard pies. If only all our human conflicts could be resolved through a good custard pie fight.

More importantly, the missing second reel of their 1927 silent movie, The Battle of the Century, has been found. So, we may finally know the climax of the Stan and Ollie cult classic — and see more pie-throwing in the process. Yum.


Video: Clip from Laurel and Hardy’s silent film The Battle of the Century (1927).

Electric Sheep?


I couldn’t agree more with Michael Newton’s analysis — Blade Runner remains a dystopian masterpiece, thirty-three years on. Long may it reign and rain.

And, here’s another toast to the brilliant mind of Philip K Dick. The author’s work Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, published in 1968, led to this noir science-fiction classic.

From the Guardian:

It’s entirely apt that a film dedicated to replication should exist in multiple versions; there is not one Blade Runner, but seven. Though opinions on which is best vary and every edition has its partisans, the definitive rendering of Ridley Scott’s 1982 dystopian film is most likely The Final Cut (2002), about to play out once more in cinemas across the UK. Aptly, too, repetition is written into the movie’s plot (there are spoilers coming), that sees Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) as an official bounty hunter (or “Blade Runner”) consigned to hunt down, one after the other, four Nexus-6 replicants (genetically-designed artificial human beings, intended as slaves for Earth’s off-world colonies). One by one, our equivocal hero seeks out the runaways: worldly-wise Zhora (Joanna Cassidy); stolid Leon (Brion James); the “pleasure-model” Pris (Daryl Hannah); and the group’s apparent leader, the ultimate Nietzschean blond beast, Roy Batty (the wonderful Rutger Hauer). Along the way, Deckard meets and falls in love with another replicant, Rachael (Sean Young), as beautiful and cold as a porcelain doll.

In Blade Runner, as in all science-fiction, the “future” is a style. Here that style is part film noir and part Gary Numan. The 40s influence is everywhere: in Rachael’s Joan-Crawford shoulder pads, the striped shadows cast by Venetian blinds, the atmosphere of defeat. It’s not just noir, Ridley Scott also taps into 70s cop shows and movies that themselves tapped into nostalgic style, with their yearning jazz and their sad apartments; Deckard even visits a strip joint as all TV detectives must. The movie remains one of the most visually stunning in cinema history. It plots a planet of perpetual night, a landscape of shadows, rain and reflected neon (shone on windows or the eye) in a world not built to a human scale; there, the skyscrapers dwarf us like the pyramids. High above the Philip Marlowe world, hover cars swoop and dirigible billboards float by. More dated now than its hard-boiled lustre is the movie’s equal and opposite involvement in modish early 80s dreams; the soundtrack by Vangelis was up-to-the-minute, while the replicants dress like extras in a Billy Idol video, a post-punk, synth-pop costume party. However, it is noir romanticism that wins out, gifting the film with its forlorn Californian loneliness.

It is a starkly empty film, preoccupied as it is with the thought that people themselves might be hollow. The plot depends on the notion that the replicants must be allowed to live no longer than four years, because as time passes they begin to develop raw emotions. Why emotion should be a capital offence is never sufficiently explained; but it is of a piece with the film’s investigation of a flight from feeling – what psychologist Ian D Suttie once named the “taboo on tenderness”. Intimacy here is frightful (everyone appears to live alone), especially that closeness that suggests that the replicants might be indistinguishable from us.


This anxiety may originally have had tacit political resonances. In the novel that the film is based on, Philip K Dick’s thoughtful Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), the dilemma of the foot soldier plays out, commanded to kill an adversary considered less human than ourselves, yet troubled by the possibility that the enemy are in fact no different. Shades of Vietnam darken the story, as well as memories of America’s slave-owning past. We are told that the replicants can do everything a human being can do, except feel empathy. Yet how much empathy do we feel for faraway victims or inconvenient others?

Ford’s Deckard may or may not be as gripped by uncertainty about his job as Dick’s original blade runner. In any case, his brusque “lack of affect” provides one of the long-standing puzzles of the film: is he, too, a replicant? Certainly Ford’s perpetual grumpiness (it sometimes seems his default acting position), his curdled cynicism, put up barriers to feeling that suggest it is as disturbing for him as it is for the hunted Leon or Roy. Though some still doubt, it seems clear that Deckard is indeed a replicant, his imaginings and memories downloaded from some database, his life as transitory as that of his victims. However, as we watch Blade Runner, Deckard doesn’t feel like a replicant; he is dour and unengaged, but lacks his victims’ detached innocence, their staccato puzzlement at their own untrained feelings. The antithesis of the scowling Ford, Hauer’s Roy is a sinister smiler, or someone whose face falls at the brush of an unassimilable emotion.

Read the entire article here.

Video: Blade Runner clip.

120 Years of Best Movies


So, if you have some time to spare mine the IMDb movie database for trends and patterns buried in the gazillions of movie reviews. Then, parse the results for most positive mentions for a movie for each year — since public movies began. Then post the results on Reddit. That’s what monoglot did for us a couple of weeks ago. The results show the best movies by popular consent, not by critical acclaim. But, fascinating nonetheless. My favorite, goes to the vintage year of 1964, the movie: Stanley Kubrick’s, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It’s a classic, very dark comedy, and all the more hysterical because it’s very close to the truth.

From Reddit:

Year Film Top Votes All Votes Rating
1894 Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze 181 824 6.1
1895 Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory 449 2809 6.9
1896 Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat 735 3676 7.3
1897 Leaving Jerusalem by Railway 53 334 6.6
1898 Four Heads Are Better Than One 326 1254 7.7
1899 The Kiss in the Tunnel 51 505 5.9
1900 The One-Man Band 82 1021 7.1
1901 The India Rubber Head 91 1133 7.2
1902 A Trip to the Moon 7563 17189 8.2
1903 The Great Train Robbery 1403 7795 7.4
1904 An Impossible Voyage 388 1615 7.7
1905 Le diable noir 163 1016 7.2
1906 Dream of a Rarebit Fiend 93 931 6.8
1907 Ben Hur 101 336 5.7
1908 Fantasmagorie 102 1015 7.0
1909 The Devilish Tenant 159 661 7.5
1910 Frankenstein 144 1805 6.6
1911 Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics 155 860 7.3
1912 The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman 400 1332 7.9
1913 Fantomas 111 1110 6.8
1914 Tillie’s Punctured Romance 892 2230 7.4
1915 The Birth of a Nation 4121 13736 6.9
1916 Intolerance 3280 8632 8.1
1917 The Immigrant 966 3715 7.8
1918 A Dog’s Life 860 3307 7.8
1919 Broken Blossoms 2089 5804 7.7
1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 13131 28545 8.1
1921 The Kid 18501 40219 8.4
1922 Nosferatu 21126 55596 8.0
1923 Safety Last! 4569 9933 8.3
1924 Sherlock Jr. 7707 16754 8.3
1925 The Gold Rush 20720 45044 8.3
1926 The General 17175 37337 8.3
1927 Metropolis 37077 80602 8.4
1928 The Passion of Joan of Arc 9826 19651 8.3
1929 Un chien andalou 9507 25019 7.9
1930 All Quiet on the Western Front 18611 40458 8.1
1931 City Lights 38960 69572 8.7
1932 Freaks 7740 25801 8.0
1933 King Kong 21296 56042 8.0
1934 It Happened One Night 21284 46270 8.3
1935 Bride of Frankenstein 9697 25518 7.9
1936 Modern Times 50487 90156 8.6
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 25843 92297 7.7
1938 Bringing Up Baby 14224 37432 8.1
1939 The Wizard of Oz 79226 208490 8.2
1940 The Great Dictator 40192 87374 8.5
1941 Citizen Kane 127586 227833 8.5
1942 Casablanca 165578 295675 8.6
1943 Shadow of a Doubt 10359 36995 8.0
1944 Double Indemnity 32626 70925 8.5
1945 Brief Encounter 9876 21469 8.1
1946 It’s a Wonderful Life 114199 196894 8.7
1947 Miracle on 34th Street 9205 24223 7.9
1948 Bicycle Thieves 29153 63377 8.4
1949 The Third Man 39394 85640 8.4
1950 Sunset Blvd. 54848 101571 8.6
1951 A Streetcar Named Desire 29419 63954 8.1
1952 Singin’ in the Rain 58094 107582 8.4
1953 Roman Holiday 31896 69340 8.1
1954 Seven Samurai 113482 171942 8.8
1955 The Night of the Hunter 21862 47527 8.1
1956 The Searchers 19109 50286 8.0
1957 12 Angry Men 192641 291880 8.9
1958 Vertigo 80687 175406 8.5
1959 North by Northwest 76067 165364 8.5
1960 Psycho 135723 295051 8.6
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s 25338 90494 7.8
1962 Lawrence of Arabia 75643 140080 8.4
1963 The Great Escape 54982 119526 8.3
1964 Dr. Strangelove 146779 262105 8.6
1965 For a Few Dollars More 45628 103701 8.4
1966 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 233024 353066 9.0
1967 The Graduate 61087 160755 8.1
1968 2001: A Space Odyssey 164849 294374 8.3
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 39801 110558 8.2
1970 Patton 29139 63345 8.1
1971 A Clockwork Orange 208014 385212 8.4
1972 The Godfather 604775 817264 9.2
1973 The Exorcist 87140 229317 8.0
1974 The Godfather: Part II 355223 538216 9.1
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 313325 489570 8.8
1976 Taxi Driver 160636 349209 8.4
1977 Star Wars 364912 629158 8.7
1978 The Deer Hunter 79985 173881 8.2
1979 Alien 179377 389950 8.5
1980 The Empire Strikes Back 325241 560760 8.8
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark 217026 471795 8.6
1982 Blade Runner 160519 348955 8.3
1983 Return of the Jedi 203856 443166 8.4
1984 The Terminator 148056 411266 8.1
1985 Back to the Future 218885 475838 8.5
1986 Aliens 162067 352320 8.5
1987 Full Metal Jacket 126512 332925 8.4
1988 Die Hard 154758 429882 8.3
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 159712 362981 8.3
1990 Goodfellas 327955 512429 8.8
1991 The Silence of the Lambs 313522 580596 8.6
1992 Reservoir Dogs 208201 452611 8.4
1993 Schindler’s List 345845 596284 8.9
1994 The Shawshank Redemption 870630 1176527 9.3
1995 Se7en 371390 687759 8.7
1996 Trainspotting 130009 342128 8.2
1997 Titanic 213075 560724 7.7
1998 Saving Private Ryan 322571 597354 8.6
1999 Fight Club 519243 895246 8.9
2000 Memento 325477 602735 8.6
2001 The Fellowship of the Ring 572464 867369 8.9
2002 The Two Towers 438736 756441 8.8
2003 The Return of the King 554928 840800 8.9
2004 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 217921 473742 8.4
2005 Batman Begins 302015 656554 8.3
2006 The Departed 321600 595555 8.5
2007 No Country for Old Men 198718 431995 8.2
2008 The Dark Knight 753903 1142277 9.0
2009 Inglourious Basterds 256945 558576 8.3
2010 Inception 618118 936543 8.8
2011 Intouchables 181019 282842 8.6
2012 The Dark Knight Rises 437472 754262 8.6
2013 Gravity 151512 329373 8.2
2014 The Lego Movie 25934 48025 8.4

Read the entire post here.

Image: Slim Pickens as Major T.J. “King” Kong riding a nuclear bomb to oblivion, from the movie Dr.Strangelove. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

It’s a Woman’s World


Well, not really. Though, there is no doubting that the planet would look rather different if the genders had truly equal opportunities and pay-offs, or if women generally had all the power that tends to be concentrated in masculine hands.

A short movie by French actor and film-maker Eleonoré Pourriat imagines what our Western culture might resemble if the traditional female-male roles were reversed.

A portent of the future? Perhaps not, but thought-provoking nonetheless. One has to believe that if women had all the levers and trappings of power that they could do a better job than men. Or, perhaps not. It may just be possible that power corrupts — regardless of the gender of the empowered.

From the Independent:

Imagine a world where it is the women who pee in the street, jog bare-chested and harass and physically assault the men. Such a world has just gone viral on the internet. A nine-minute satirical film made by Eleonoré Pourriat, the French actress, script-writer and director, has clocked up hundreds of thousands of views in recent days.

The movie, Majorité Opprimée or “Oppressed Majority”, was made in 2010. It caused a flurry of interest when it was first posted on YouTube early last year. But now it’s time seems to have come. “It is astonishing, just incredible that interest in my film has suddenly exploded in this way,” Ms Pourriat told The Independent. “Obviously, I have touched a nerve. Women in France, but not just in France, feel that everyday sexism has been allowed to go on for too long.”

The star of the short film is Pierre, who is played very convincingly by Pierre Bénézit. He is a slightly gormless stay-at-home father, who spends a day besieged by the casual or aggressive sexism of women in a female-dominated planet. The film, in French with English subtitles, begins in a jokey way and turns gradually, and convincingly, nasty. It is not played for cheap laughs. It has a Swiftian capacity to disturb by the simple trick of reversing roles.

Pierre, pushing his baby-buggy, is casually harassed by a bare-breasted female jogger. He meets a male, Muslim babysitter, who is forced by his wife to wear a balaclava in public. He is verbally abused – “Think I don’t see you shaking your arse at me?” – by a drunken female down-and-out. He is sexually assaulted and humiliated by a knife-wielding girl gang. (“Say your dick is small or I’ll cut off your precious jewels.”)

He is humiliated a second time by a policewoman, who implies that he invented the gang assault. “Daylight and no witnesses, that’s strange,” she says. As she takes Pierre’s statement, the policewoman patronises a pretty, young policeman. “I need a coffee, cutie.”

Pierre’s self-important working wife arrives to collect him. She comforts him at first, calling him “kitten” and “pumpkin”. When he complains that he can no longer stand the permanent aggression of a female-dominated society, she says that he is to blame because of the way he dresses: in short sleeves, flip-flops and Bermudas.

At the second, or third, time of asking, interest in Ms Pourriat’s highly charged little movie has exploded in recent days on social media and on feminist and anti-feminist websites on both sides of the Channel and on both sides of the Atlantic. Some men refuse to see the point. “Sorry, but I would adore to live such a life,” said one French male blogger. “To be raped by a gang of girls. Great! That’s every man’s fantasy.”

Ms Pourriat, 42, acts and writes scripts for comedy movies in France. This was her first film as director. “It is rooted absolutely in my own experience as a woman living in France,” she tells me. “I think French men are worse than men elsewhere, but the incredible success of the movie suggests that it is not just a French problem.

“What angers me is that many women seem to accept this kind of behaviour from men or joke about it. I had long wanted to make a film that would turn the situation on its head.

Read the entire article here.

Video: Majorité Opprimée or “Oppressed Majority by Eleonoré Pourriat.