Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Reader

Lordy, but it’s high time I committed my thoughts on this movie to print, what with it being all Oscar nominated and everything. And, of course, dear old Kate winning her Golden Globe… (well done lass – now please be quiet, and please put them away)


First up, I confess I haven’t read the book on which this is based, though I know a lot of people who rate it very highly indeed. So it may be that some of the problems that I have with the movie are more to do with Bernard Schlink’s original plot. If you hunt around online you’ll see that there’s been a right rammy between The Guardian’s film critic and David Hare, the screenwriter, over whether or not the movie is a pile of poo (I’m paraphrasing here, you understand). Some have accused the film of being overly sympathetic to Nazis, but that isn’t what bothered me quite so much.

What did? Well… I was a bit bored, to be honest. Not helped for me by Ralph Fiennes ‘phoning in his repressed Englishman (who happens to be German) schtick. Even worse is seeing the great Bruno Ganz having to act, in English, as a German professor, and getting very mangled in his accent as a result. He sounds like Columbo! (The simple truth is surely that this film should have been made in German.) And if I see Kate Winslett’s breasts one more time…

All in all, I suspect it’s maybe a three star adaptation of a five star book. Perhaps someday I’ll actually read The Reader and find out. But I will say that I’ve had quite a few conversations with people based on the film, and have found myself thinking ever more about all the issues which it throws up. Maybe that’s pretty good going for any movie.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I should be out at the movies, I know, but it's dark and cold out there after a day's teaching (or whatever it is that one does)... so this is how I'm spending my evenings just now. More than half-way through season 2.

But hey, it'll soon be the weekend, so perhaps a movie or two beckons.

Either that or I could write about Masterchef.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pull yourself together, woman!

Blimey, but did you catch Kate Winslet's performance at The Golden Globes last night? Yikes! An acceptance speech to rival Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar blubfest from, ooh, ages ago. Catch it all - and wince - at

Oh, and can someone tell me how Sally Hawkins wins a Best Supporting Actress gong for "Happy-Go-Lucky", when there's hardly a scene in the movie without her? What's that all about??

Questions, questions...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Wire - just how good y'all be?

As advertised above, sometimes here at MTGTTM we go eslewhere - and what better place to start than with the vexing question, "just how good is The Wire?"

For those not in the know, this is a US TV cop show (now just finished, after five seasons) made by HBO and only broadcast in the UK by FX, which means that very few people have seen it. But TV reviewers are all but universal in their praise of the show, and when even Mr Grumpfest himself, Charlie Brooker, calls this the best show on TV in the past 20 years, well, notice must be taken. And so your reviewer has bravely gone forth, sought out season one, and is now in a position to comment. And let it be said immediately, this is a show that will have an effect on you - or at least on the way you speak...

Yo. A-ight?

(To make matters easier for y'all, this review will now offer subtitles for those not yet fully versed in Baltimore street-patois...)

'Fo we get to the main, y'all gon have to unnerstan the way ma man be talkin' atcha.
Now before we proceed, let us deal with the matter of the way that characters speak in the show.

Fo' sure, m_________f___________.

Cuz they all be gettin' with this mofo this an' mofo that sh__. 'til that stuff be comin' out yo' ears, bro.
Many of the characters make frequent and recurring allegations about sexual relationships in a maternal sense.

Mos' def. A-ight?
I say this with certainty, and I do hope that you concur.

OK, enough of this sh__, y'all be gettin' the hang of it now. Unless y'all really be some poor-ass n_________ m_________ f___________.

Enough already
OK, on with the review, before I start sounding like Ali G. But all the same, language is important in this show, as - unlike most others - the story is not instantly and easily understandable. You have to listen carefully (as the tagline says), and you may well find yourself rewinding frequently to try to catch what the heck is going on. (At this point, a useful tip: the HBO website offers very full episode summaries, which make good reading after you've watched each episode. Boy, do I wish I'd realised this before getting to the end of the box set.)

All in all, I'd say this is a grower. I'm on board for season two (mos' def), and I'm pretty impressed with what I've seen so far. But: best TV show of all time? I hae ma doots... though perhaps it's unkind to judge so early. I mean, Buffy season one wasn't up to all that much, and it may well be that greater things lie ahead for officer McNulty and the gang (and, indeed, the gangsters, or crew, or whatever they are called).

On the plus side, this is great DVD box-set fare. Apparently the episodes are meant to feel more like chapters in a book, and it's very easy to get through quite a few pages in one sitting. I think the show will be keeping me company through the remaining winter months - well, that and Masterchef.

Tell it like it is, Holmes
OK, let's be honest: it's not Doctor Who. (Best. TV. Show. Ever.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

And at number one...

Happy New Year, folks - and let's wave a fond farewell to last year by unveiling my personal choice of In Bruges as Film of the Year 2008. Seriously.

Yes, I know it ain't high art, and I doubt it'll go down in history as a milestone in cinema history, though I have half a mind to put a bet on that it will become a cult classic. But you know what? I loved it. Hooted my way throughout, and marvelled at both a decent performance by Colin Farrell (who knew?) and a brilliant scene-stealing one from Ralph Fiennes. I enjoyed it all the more because, quite frankly, the trailer for the film was well pish.

Comedy is not easy. Comedy drama even less so. And ladies and gentlemen, this movie delivers. Unless of course you have problems with bad language...