Chernobyl Diaries

Sat. 18°C,
Film- Chernobyl Diaries; a shock-horror film set in Pripyat, Ukraine. As you know, it’s the site of the Chernobyl disaster in the 1980s. The film makers have exploited the eerie atmosphere of that abandoned city and joined the genre of films like The Hills Have Eyes. The film would like you to to sit on the edge of your seat and jump frequently.
The story raises several points of note. The six characters soon break apart as a team under stress after the van is damaged. That leads to their eventual demise. My thoughts followed what could happen if they had cooperated. I suppose that’s the role filled by fan fiction. The genre requires elevated tension, fear and shocks. The characters behaved in panic at times, no calm under pressure.
There were some problems with continuity too: the reactor building featured, but it had three cooling towers, the real one has none.

Do you want a recommendation? If you have seen nothing of this genre, then you could tick off with this one. If you have though, you would probably share the criticisms held by others online. That is, there are better examples out there.

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Film: Let Me In.

16C heavy rain.
Let Me In: is the American re-make of Let The Right One in.
I was expecting worse, based on others’ opinions. My view is that if you’d seen the Swedish original first, then you are likely to feel disappointed. I did to some extent, but trying to be fair- it was quite watchable. It lacked the magic of the Swedish film, but not fatally so.
There is a problem though. Why did the Americans re-make a film only a year after the first version? There was nothing wrong with the Swedish version, the re-make added nothing. In fact, the re-make lost qualities.
Watch it if you have the chance, but why not watch the far superior original.
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Hurry, rest, there isn’t much time.

16ºC, sunny with wind.
Big storm coming: Sunday night, gales, Monday heavy rain.


Film: Sightseers. Serial killer goes on holiday in a caravan. This is like Mike Leigh with casual murder. Beautifully shot and rendered on Bluray. And funny too. There is plenty written about this film, I don’t need to repeat here but I am still impressed by the quality of hidef on Bluray. Colour depth and shadow detail are dramatically clearer. The extra resolution is secondary in my opinion.

My holiday to-do list is far too long for a one-week holiday. The marking bag is heavy this year, but I will try.

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A film for my birthday.

7°C, sun became rain later. Heavy.
From now, get used to the idea that I’m forty-eight years old.

Staunton Harold, Leics

I’m 48 too.

Film: Amour. Not everybody’s choice of film on a thoroughly middle-aged birthday, a film about old age and death. It is rightly much written about in the press, since it won big prizes at Cannes. Ties are plenty of links to read up on so I won’t add much here.
I found myself thinking while the film was on, an easy thing to do in such a measured film were a major theme was time. I thought about the rather slow section mid-film and whether it was deliberately slow because the character’s lives were slow while trapped in their situation.
Spoiler alert:
Continue reading


14°C, sunny bits & windy

Film: Carravagio by Derek Jarman. A good film has the ability to occupy your thoughts for the next day, or even days after that. Carravagio had some good ingredients- the cinematography was matched to the painter’s style. The sets were minimal and no scenes were shot outside. Rooms were mostly bare and light to draw ling inky black shadows just like the paintings. Tenebrist in style, apparently. Tilda Swinton supported along with various other well known British actors. In a few places, modern props were used to disconcerting effect.

Today, I’m left wondering why this film failed to light any spark in me. A few times I even looked ay he video player’s remaining time display. Not a good sign.

Never Let Me Go

11°C Sun CK:44 miles.

From the same writer who gave us Remains Of The Day, this is a sad but beautifully shot film with a rather forgettable name. For me, the film stood out for the feeling of inevitable doom, and a haunting resignation in the characters who knew and accepted their fate.
I loved it,  but many commentators on the web have pinned it as a poor relation to the book. I tend to feel that this criticism is unfair. A book takes, what, fifteen hours to read? To compare with a film that lasts 90 minutes is no real comparison in my view. I’d have been happy with a longer cut than this, it could easily sustain a 2 or 2½ hour film.

Can you tell that I’m reluctant to give away any synopsis of this one, so make do with the trailer


The Artist

3°C, light cloud. light wind

Film: The Artist. A lot of people will be put off going to see this film. It’s black & white, barely any sound, and it’s a homage to pre-talkie cinema and worst of all, it’s only the art-house cinemas that have the courage to show it. A lot of people are going to miss a real gem there. They probably fear it as an art-house difficult cult film. But it’s not, it’s utterly charming, old fashioned love story shot with a nostalgic fondness for the “golden age of film”. There are many ways that the film plays games with the audience, there are visual tricks, jokes, teases and no doubt- references to films of the 1920s. There are times when it’s hugely heart-lifting, moving and funny too. This is a pure feel-good film that lacks the insincere kitsch of many others. It’s so good that it may even convert many of us who believe the old films were naïve, childish and played to a simple audience.

Animal Kingdom

14°C, grey sky.

Film: Animal Kingdom. Review. It had all the tension of a David Lynch film, I was gripped and genuinely anxious about what would happen next. The film contained violence but didn’t indulge in a butcherfest as some films do. It met my need for fine cinematography, sound-scapes and therefore mood. I recommend.

However, I’m having trouble with this TV set because it makes that high pitched transistor whine. It reminds me of those mosquito alarms.


12°C, rain;

Film: Helen, An enigmatic film about the disappearance of a young girl. Shot with full use of wide-screen format, Tarkovsky’s reach has made it here, but with vivid colour and contemporary 20thC townscapes. The dialogue is measure, understated and full of space.
I’m not sure what happened but perhaps sleeping on it would help, or maybe another viewing.
I can imagine many people hating this one. Some actors seemed a bit stilted delivering their dialogue, perhaps the slow measure style didn’t always suit their voice- we all have a natural pace in our speech & the director needed to actors who speak slowly. On the other hand, some people do speak in an awkward way, people who are not destined to have a career in broadcasting or performance.
See Guardian’s review HERE