Goodfellas tops Total Film Poll

Choosing a “greatest film of all time” is nearly always a tricky – and perhaps impossible – task but Total Film’s nomination of Goodfellas is interesting. It avoids the perenial favourite (Citizen Kane), the popular choice (Star Wars) and the IMDb favourites (The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption). As often with these lists though, it is the patterns that are interesting and not the “winner”. The inclusion of Magnolia, Sideways and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in the top 100 were entries that caught my eye as recent classics that could have been overlooked but weren’t.


> Total Film on their list
> The IMDb Top 250
> Sight and Sound’s ‘Greatest’ Film Polls
> – Web application that allows you to manage which of the IMDb’s top 250 films you have seen

London Film Festival 2005

The London Film Festival starts today and for those aiming to go and see something here are some films I’m looking forward to seeing.

A Cock and Bull Story: How do you film an unfilmable novel like Lawrence Sterne’s ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy‘? Director Michael Winterbottom is incredibly versatile and despite the disappointment of 9 Songs this could be very good, especially with Steve Coogan in the title role.

Good Night, and Good Luck: George Clooney’s second outing as a director looks at the the real-life conflict in the 1950s between television anchorman Edward R Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Shot in black and white and making veiled references to today’s US media this closes the festival and looks like it could well feature in the end of year award nominations.

Hidden: Another Cannes favourite, Michael Haneke’s latest stars Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil as a couple who’s comfortable life is disrupted by anonymous videotapes of their lives sent through the mail. Haneke’s last film (Time of the Wolf) was disappointing but this promises to something much more substantial.

L’enfant: This year’s Palme D’or winner at Cannes from The Dardenne brothers’ is a story of a young couple struggling with a baby in Liege. Looks like it could be a gritty delight.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: Remember Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout? They both came from the pen of Shane Black who makes his directorial debut with this thriller pairing Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. Could be fun.

March of the Penguins: This documentary about the migration of emperor penguins in Antartica was an unexpected hit this summer in the US. Narrated by Morgan Freeman it looks like it could have similar success over here.

Separate Lies: After winning an Oscar with Gosford Park, Julian Fellowes makes his directorial debut with this drama starring Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson. Based on the novel by Nigel Balchin it looks like an intriguingly serious turn for Fellowes.

The Brothers Grimm: The fact that Miramax have kept this on the shelf for so long doesn’t bode well, but any new film by Terry Gilliam is worth checking out. Here Matt Damon and Heath Ledger play the eponymous brothers attempting to rid the Napoleonic countryside of monsters and demons.

The Constant Gardener: The festival curtain raiser has already attracted rave reviews Stateside. It will be very interesting to see Fernando Meirelles’ take on John Le Carre’s novel of murder and intrigue in Kenya after his last outing in 2002, the stunning City of God.

The Proposition: John Hillcoat’s Australian western, written by Nick Cave. Yes, thatNick Cave. It has to be worth seeing for that alone and the fact that it stars Guy Pearce and Danny Houston.

Walk the Line: Any bio-pic of Johnny Cash would be worth seeing out of sheer curiousity value but Joaquin Phoenix has already garnered strong word of mouth for his portrayal of the ‘Man in black’ and James Mangold is an intelligent director. Reese Witherspoon co-stars as one of his wives.

I’ll post some reviews and reactions as the festival goes on. It ends on November 3rd.

> Official site – Packed with information on films, events and how to book tickets.
> The festival’s Artistic Director Sandra Hebron speaks to The Times
> A selection of directors with films at the festival choose their picks in The Guardian
> Doug Bolton questions the point of the festival, again in The Guardian


Tony Scott’s semi-autobiographical take on the life of Lawrence Harvey’s daughter is a strange mix of the entertaining and the uneven.

The real life of Domino Harvey is as surreal as any fiction Hollywood has come up with in recent years. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey, she was initially raised in Britain and educated at private schools before moving to LA with her mother. There she proceeded to rebel against her privileged upbringing by becoming a bounty hunter and finding criminals who had jumped bail. An already intriguing story took a tragic real life twist when Harvey was found dead earlier this summer, some months after principal photography on the film was finished. The end result is an entertaining – if not entirely successful – action film that showcases Tony Scott’s kinetic shooting styles.

Continue reading “Domino”

Lord of War

Despite a few missteps, Andrew Niccol’s latest film is a diverting tale set amidst the arms business.

The bravura opening sequence of Lord of War sets the darkly comic tone of the film. Playing like a twisted variation on Forrest Gump, we see the journey of a bullet (instead of a feather) as it is created in a factory, loaded into several crates, shipped, loaded into rifle and finally shot into a young man’s head with a sickening thud. In telling the story of a Ukrainian immigrant who finds his fortune by becoming a global gun runner, Niccol has created an interesting and intelligent look at the bleak logic of the arms trade. Whilst it never fully lives up to it’s potential, the central premise, of how the world’s ‘peace keepers’ fuel global violence by selling weapons to poorer countries, is an engaging one.

Continue reading “Lord of War”