Unexpected Movie Gems

Despite the fact that you can be critical of television over Christmas 2003, I really think that it served me some unexpected movie gems.

There was something of an 80s flashback over the Christmas period which set me thinking about my teenage years – although I am not suggesting you should now read my regurgitated teenage angst. The flashbacks came in the form of three films on free-to-air television that I caught by accident (by which I mean I didn’t know there were on until I flicked past them).

picture of kevin bacon in footlooseFirstly, we had the excellent Footloose (Kevin Bacon, dancing) which is a film I must have seen several hundred times and never get bored. It’s those standing up for you rights and proving your responsibility moments that resonated with people of a certain age when it was released. It’s helped by the fact that the 80s electro-pop soundtrack was pretty good (for the time) and Kevin Bacon is moody and supports a tight fitting vest at one point!

Then, on New Years Day, we had another teen angst film in the shape of The Breakfast Club. From the John Hughes stable (he made one of my all time favourite movies, Some Kind of Wonderful) this was a teen film with a difference. The film is – almost entirely – dialogue driven and there is very limited action. It’s set in the detention room on a Saturday where a small group of students (of all the stereotypes) must spend the day together as punishment for various misdemeanours.

Again, we are treated to the teen isolation, the misfits and the stupidity of the adult world. And, it also features a soundtrack that instantly brings to mind the mid-Eighties including Don’t You by Simple Minds – which is possibly the only Simple Minds track that I can listen to again and again.

Sandwiched in between Footloose and The Breakfast Club and shown sometime in that almost-dead period between Christmas and New Year was the first Back To The Future movie (which again has a soundtrack of it’s time featuring Huey Lewis and The News, Eric Clapton and Lindsey Buckingham). What struck me about it (apart from the now dated effects) was how good a film it really was. There are some superb performances in it (Christopher Lloyd and Crispin Glover) and it was a real combination of teen and sci-fi movies. It was also the first film I can recall going to the cinema more than once to see – it must really have inspired me as a 15 year-old. Superb stuff.

So, despite the fact that you can be critical of television over this past Christmas period, I really think that it served me some unexpected movie gems. And for that, I am grateful.

2003 In Summary

Like Jerry, my final thoughts on 2003.

If I can be allowed to be more self-centred – or inward-looking – than usual, I have found the process of re-reading the year’s worth of entries to be very interesting. Not only have I surprised myself with some of the pieces that I have written, but when viewing them all together, it seems that the site is a lot more coherent than I imagined. There are some key groupings of themes that have emerged – it’s clear I have a fascination with transport – and there are considerably fewer trivial pieces.

Many of the words I have written are, of course, about my life and might be considered to be trivial to some, but I feel I have gained an insight into myself with some of the longer pieces. And, it is those longer pieces which have most startled me on the re-reading: I must make a conscious effort to write more discussion works. Perhaps I should open the comments on the main body of the site to stimulate further thinking.

Of all the other sites I have read across the year, I still come back to my old faithfuls. So, this is the point where I should wish TomJaseJasonBartMegPhilEricChrisBravoNick and Luke a very Happy New Year. Oh, and those are just the top-listed ones in my Bloglines subscriptions.

Bloglines is to be nominated as my tool of the year for 2003, it’s made the whole business of reading other sites so much easier (if only Blogger users would provide nice RSS feeds). Of course, I shouldn’t forget Six Apart who, via Movable Type, make all this possible.

Writing is one of the few creative outlets I have, and I am happy to have it as a hobby – it seems more useful than making a model of St Paul’s Cathedral from matchsticks.

Best wishes for 2004 to all who come across this page.

Love Actually

This is really an inoffensive, somewhat amusing, light-hearted, feel-good British comedy.

Love Actually
Love Actually is not the film I imagined it to be. I guess you can call it a romantic comedy and it seemed like a sensible film to watch on New Year’s Day. The cinema was packed which suggests we wen’t the only ones with that idea.
I should say from the beginning, it’s sentimental and feel-good. If those words put you off then you shouldn’t really see this film. I do think, however, that if you have ever (even once) got a little lovey-dovey then could go and see this movie and get something out of it.

It’s weaves a whole stack of separate stories together about people in love or finding love (and even out of love) with the backdrop of Christmas in London. Richard Curtis (of Four Weddings And A Funeral fame) makes his directorial debut and provides a very well-shot image of 21st Century London at Christmas. There are some really well-done sequences around the city which gives somebody like me – who thinks he’s seen all he wants to of London – something to smile at.

Having said it’s well-shot it is not without problems. Too many stories are intertwined leaving too many questions unanswered. When you leave a cinema questioning some of your understanding about who was who and where things were set you know that at some point this film failed. Why have the whole Wisconsin sequence, for example? And what happened to the Laura Linney parts – I suspect there is something on a cutting room floor that explains all that somewhere.

But don’t let that put you off. Liam Neeson’s storyline is great (even if it stretched believability a little), Emma Thompson is superb (and you will feel for her as she opens a Christmas present) as Alan Rickman‘s wife (he too stands out with a great, typical Rickman performance). Even Hugh Grant is believable as a Prime Minister who falls for his tea lady (Martine McCutcheon).

What I liked, although I have no idea if they will translate to the US, are the really British touches. Ant and Dec are the kid’s TV presenters; Jo Wiley is a DJ and Wes Butters does the chart run down for the Christmas Number One. And there wasn’t an over abundance of red London busses – which must be a first for British films.

This is really an inoffensive, somewhat amusing, light-hearted, feel-good British comedy and I hope it does well. If you read the message boards over at the Internet Movie Database you’ll read about people walking out in shock and disgust – which, if you’ve seen the film, is just as amusing.