Sunday 8 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Days 7-12

From running behind to leaping ahead - though not as far ahead as the venerable Mike Lippert at You Talking To Me? who’s already completed the whole thing []; days 7-12 of the Movie Meme.

Day 07 - Least favourite movie by a favourite actor or actress

Notes on a Scandal (2006) - Judi Dench. The spectacle of the divine Dame Dench playing "bad" as the portentously named Barbara Covett seemed like a revelation to some people, who, presumably, had the actress pegged as a sweet old dear and weren't familiar with her often harsh and always uncompromising performances elsewhere. Within  Notes on a Scandal's  limited schema Dench gives a consummate performance, but one that, for me, doesn’t redeem Patrick Marber’s clumsy script ("You've done my brain in") or Richard Eyre’s tendency to make everything obvious, right down to an embarrassingly predictable and TV movie-ish ending in which Barbara moves on to her next potential victim. Most problematic of all, though, is the film's pretty ruthless pathologising of an older, single woman as an object of pity and fear.

Day 08 - Movie that should be required high school viewing

Both Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Julie Taymor’s wild Titus (1999) offer a good counter to the "Shakespeare is boring" argument, I've found. 

Day 09 - Best scene ever

There’s only one viable way to answer this one. A glance at my DVD library … The first film that catches my eye  is Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66 (1998). OK. So … Christina Ricci’s tap-dance in the bowling alley to King Crimson's "Moonchild". Is the best scene ever. Official.

Day 10 - A movie you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton (2007) exceeded my expectations in every way. George Clooney’s seemingly endless bid to atone for Batman & Robin (1997) has resulted in “serious” films of dull worthiness (Good Night and Good Luck [2005]) and epic confusion (Syriana [2005]) but Michael Clayton deftly avoids those traps, offering smart, taut, gripping and thoughtful entertainment from beginning to end.

Day 11 - A movie that disappointed you

WIth the exception of Ivan's Childhood (1962), I'm afraid that every Tarkovsky film I've seen so far has disappointed me. Watching his movies stoned must really be the only solution.

Day 12 - Best soundtrack/background music in a scene

Throughout Wonderland (1999), Michael Nyman's gorgeous score, by turns exuberant and melancholy, adds magic and lyricism to Michael Winterbottom’s gritty London images.


  1. I actually kind of enjoyed Dame Judi Dench's scenery chewing in Notes on a Scandal, Alex, but as a whole the movie was way too melodramatic and over-the-top (and yes, poorly written at times). I've seen you mention Wonderland a couple of times in your blog posts, so I'll definitely need to plan to see that one. I love Michael Winterbottom's other films that I've seen, including The Claim and 9 Songs (ahem), both of which I saw in the cinema when visiting London.

  2. Yep, I find NOTES ON A SCANDAL melodramatic and unconvincing, and I think the conception of the Dench character is problematic throughout.

    WONDERLAND is without a doubt my favourite Winterbottom film but his work is consistently interesting and provocative, from JUDE through A COCK AND BULL STORY to 9 SONGS (“ahem” indeed!). I missed THE KILLER INSIDE ME on its brief release here a few months ago.

  3. Absolutely...Dench's character in that film is too one-dimensional and forces the viewer to presume too much too readily (for example, that we should fear and villify her for being so crazy and uptight but still feel sorrow and pity for her anyway). Despite that, I felt that she was able to make the character somewhat sympathetic. After all, I guess that's why she's Dame Judi Dench!

    I'll certainly check out Wonderland. Maybe 9 Songs should have been titled A Cock and Balls Story instead? I saw it on a GIGANTIC screen in London, with about 20 other viewers scattered throughout the audience, so watching the movie in that setting was as much of an experience as the movie itself. I confess that I had to buy it on DVD, just to inspect the male lead's performance more closely... ;)

    Oh my. Mr. Winterbottom and his actors are quite...prolific!

  4. That was a cool clip. I've never seen Christina like that before. Cool song.

  5. Yes, love that moment! Glad you enjoyed it.