These are the movies I've watched over the last couple of weeks:
Billy the Kid (2007): 7/10
Metropolitan (1990): 7/10
Sinister (2012): 6/10
Chariots of Fire (1981): 8/10
A Royal Affair (En Kongelig Affaere) (2012): 7/10
Taken (2008): 7/10
Down Terrace (2009): 8/10
God Bless America (2011): 6/10
A fairly decent week, on the whole - I saw nothing which I'd regard as poor, plenty of very solid movies, and two very good pictures. My first choice for pick of the week goes to the 1980s classic Chariots of Fire, which tells the story of the Great Britain athletics team which competed at the Paris Olympics in 1924. It's primarily focussed on GB's two great medal hopes for the games; men from entirely different backgrounds, driven to succeed for contrasting reasons. Firstly, there's Harold Abrahams, a young man who has wanted for nothing and has been to the finest schools in England, but has always felt like an outcast due to his Jewish roots. He's running as a way of proving himself to the establishment. Secondly, there's Eric Liddell, a runner from Scotland of incredible natural talent, whose devoutly Christian faith is his inspiration for running, though also threatens to interfere with his ability to compete (as he refuses to run on Sunday). It's a gripping story, very well told. As I didn't know the actual results of the Olympic games in question, I genuinely had no idea whether the protagonists would succeed. The film features some fine performances, particularly from Ben Cross as Abrahams and Ian Charleson as Liddell.
My second selection for pick of the week is the brilliant Ben Wheatley's first picture, Down Terrace. Having absolutely loved Wheatley's more recent efforts - Kill List and Sightseers (my film of the year for 2012), I was extremely excited to discover that LOVEFiLM had sent me Wheatley's debut in the post. The movie tells the story of a small time criminal family from Brighton - as we enter the story, the father (Robert Hill) and his son (Robin Hill) have narrowly escaped going to prison for drug dealing. They return to their down at the heel family home determined to discover which of their low rent associates was responsible for grassing them up. In common with his later movies, we get to experience the same rundown British setting, the same realistic dialogue and the black humour and bloodcurdling violence which is Mr Wheatley's trademark. Though the plot is perhaps not 100% airtight, at least from my perspective - as it was never really clear exactly why certain characters were suspected of treachery - this never really gets in the way of the fine, understated comic performances and superb script. It's another success from one of my favourite directors.
Once again, I didn't see anything which I'd regard as being a turkey, but Sinister was just a shade above mediocre. Ethan Hawke stars as Ellison Oswalt, a true crime writer who takes the inspired decision to move his family into the scene of a horrific slaying, then becomes obsessed with a box of snuff movies which has mysteriously appeared in his attic. Needless to say, these choices backfire on Ellison pretty quickly, as he begins to fear that his own family may be the target of a (possibly) supernatural serial killer known as "Mr Boogie". Now, on the one hand, the film is a success on at least one level, as it's a horror picture which is genuinely scary in places. True, most of these scares are simply horrible things jumping out of the dark with an accompanying shriek from the film's score, but it still worked on me. On the other hand, I felt that a lot of the scary stuff on offer here has been seen before on a number of occasions. Creepy kids drawing weird pictures on the walls, a warning from the local Sheriff, psycho killers in masks, the protagonist running around in the house in the dark... these elements have all been done and dusted elsewhere. So, I suppose the movie scores fairly highly as on the terror scale, but loses marks for lack of originality.
Kirk's Quote of the Week
"Sol Robeson: You want to find the number 216 in the world, you will be able to find
it everywhere. 216 steps from a mere street corner to your front door.
216 seconds you spend riding on the elevator. When your mind becomes
obsessed with anything, you will filter everything else out and find
that thing everywhere."