New Beginnings

Hey folks, we have some exciting news for anyone who has stuck with the site since our launch, or indeed anyone who has joined us in the interim. Rather than continue with a current film review site and podcast which, as anyone who’s noticed the fall off in frequency of posting reviews and podcasts will attest, plainly isn’t working for us, we’re refocusing with some rather more special and considered podcasts.

The sad news is that such new beginnings require some endings, and as part of that refocus we are moving to a brand new site, with a brand new podcast. theOneliner.com isn’t going anywhere, but will no longer be updated. But fret not! Fresh new entertainment awaits at our new site, Fuds On Film!

Our new monthly podcast retrospectives are centred around themes, from specific movements in cinema or the work of actors or directors we love, through to exhorting the merits of movies that we feel are unfairly held in low regard. We hope to give a little more in-depth information on our subject matter, and better explain what makes our chosen films stand out from the field in this format.

So the same terrible drivel you’ve come to expect from us, but with a different set of subjects. What’s not to love?

We’re sad to see the end of a site we’ve loved since 2002, but we’re also very excited by the topics we have planned to cover in our new incarnation. That passion will give you more involved, better informed podcasts, and our bran-heavy diets will make them more regular.

We’d be delighted if you could join us over at Fuds On Film!, or subscribe directly to our new podcast feed, or indeed find us on iTunes. We apologise for the inconvenience, but we think it will be worth it.

We’d like to thank everyone who’s been with us over this adventure, and we hope you’ve enjoyed it enough to take the next step with us.

Scott’s Review of 2014

As it turned out, preparing to get married was pretty time consuming. Who knew? As such, our usual year-end round up podcast was been delayed to the point of it being slightly ridiculous to record, so in lieu of that here’s a write up of my thoughts on the matter.

Space year 2014 year saw another marked decline in the number of films I could watch – as it turns out, changing jobs and moving thirty miles from the nearest cinema limits your casual viewing opportunities.

So, there’s a bunch of films that I’d expect to be worthy of consideration that I’ve just not got round to, such as Nightcrawler and Boyhood, but of the films I’ve seen that had a U.K. cinema release in 2014, the best was pretty clearly 12 Years a Slave.

Old news by this point, of course, due to its 2013 release Stateside, but there’s no question in my mind that 12 Years a Slave‘s examination of the misery slavery inflicts and the strength of Solomon Northup was the best film of the year, and made for compelling, if deeply uncomfortable viewing. It also managed the unusual trick of being strangely timely, given the increasingly fractious state of race relations across the USA in 2014. Hardly laugh a minute stuff, but it’s essential viewing.

Beaten out by the thinnest of whiskers was The Grand Budapest Hotel, the latest of Wes Anderson’s whimsicals. It’s certainly open to accusations of being yet another Wes Anderson film from his production line of quirk-laden light entertainment, but this has his schtick condensed into the closest we’ve seen to a Platonic ideal of a Wes Anderson film. His usual eye for beautiful, colourful sets is unmatched here, and the blistering delivery of Ralph Fiennes makes this a hilarious experience. Lovely.

Another favourite that’s also pretty damn quirky was Es-Cor-Zeezies’ ludicrous Wolf of Wall Street, which seems every bit as fantastic as any of Anderson’s output but with the added jaw-drop of being largely true. High flying fraud at it’s most decadent, disgusting and amusing, tightly told and with great performances all round.

Gone Girl marks another top flight outing from David Fincher, with Ben Affleck silencing any remaining critics of his ability in front of the camera with a great turn as a wayward husband falling under suspicion of murdering his missing wife. Taking a few risks with tonal shifts as the narrative takes a few turns, if not outright twists, it turns out to be as much a black comedy as it is a thriller.

Spycraft next, with Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, featuring a typically excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles. As with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, it’s taken from a John le Carré novel and has the same low-key, believable approach to intelligence gathering and counter terrorism. It’s perhaps open to criticism of being ‘just’ a procedural, but when it’s done this well, who cares about that?

While the category of “best documentary film I watched this year” has, to the best of my recollection, only one runner, Jodorowsky’s Dune is a hell of a one to pick, especially with my particular cross-section of interests. Running through gonzo Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s stunningly described vision for bringing Frank Herbert’s novel Dune to life before David Lynch took his crack at it, it’s an engaguingly told story of trying to bring a grand vision to screen, even if sadly it ends in failure. No Space Emperor Andy Warhol for us.

In the admittedly beslendered field of my cinema-going for 2014, the above six were, I felt, a clear notch above the others, but that’s not to say there’s not a good number of great films waiting to fill up my top ten. You could take your pick from any of American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Edge of Tomorrow or August: Osage County and have no less valid a list, all of which are well worth taking a look at. Particular mention should go to Captain America 2, as it’s such a huge improvement over the first and does a great job of bringing some character to Cap’n, which was sorely lacking in both the first film and the Avengers flick.

Meanwhile, at the shitty end of the stick, there’s competition for the most conventionally awful film between A Million Ways to Die In The West, a comedy that misfires too often for its own good and Hector and the Search for Happiness, which kills audiences with its tonal whiplash as it jumps between “breezy self help guide” and “Guantanamo-ish interrogation dsytopia”. However neither of these can match the peerless puddle of pish that was Under The Skin, a slow, meaningless look at Alien Scarlett Johansson luring Glasgow punters into a basement pool o’dissolution before running off to the woods. Glacially paced, amatuerish and pretentious beyond measure, any message it may have about the human condition would have to be arrived at purely by chance. Not recommended.

If you’re at all interested, the below list gives (to my recollection) the complete list of eligible films in a rough sort of order of preference, although I’ve only really given serious ranking consideration to the top and bottom ends, and there’s a pretty huge gulf between the awful Hector and the Search for Happiness and the merely sub-par Dracula Untold and Amazing Spidey 2.

  • 12 Years A Slave
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Gone Girl
  • A Most Wanted Man
  • Jodorowskis Dune
  • American Hustle
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • August: Osage County
  • Exodus
  • Hobbit 3
  • Hunger Games 3
  • Malefecent
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Lego Movie
  • Enders Game
  • The Judge
  • Interstellar
  • Her
  • Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
  • Jersey Boys
  • Robocop
  • Monument Men
  • Godzilla
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Dracula Untold
  • Hector and the Search for Happiness
  • A Million Ways to Die In The West
  • Under the Skin

Scott’s Review of 2013

I’ve kind of eschewed the whole end-of-year lists thing recently, largely because I’m all too aware that there’s a number of generally well regarded films of 2013 that should have a solid chance of featuring here that I’ve not had the opportunity to watch yet, like The Act of Killing, Upstream Color, or Sharknado.

That said, having finished up preparations for our 2013 round-up podcast I’ve basically already undertaken such a task, so what lazier way to churn out an article better way to further expound on these great films than reproduce it here.

For me, the best film of 2013 was clearly Spielberg’s Lincoln, a masterful biopic with an astounding central turn from D-Day Lewis and an equally talent laden supporting cast. Even with the background of a civil war and the historic importance of the vote abolishing slavery at the heart of the film, there was still a danger this could have become a rather dull political procedural rather than the riveting character piece what it done had become and that.

In general 2013 proved to be a solid year for films, with a healthy number of contenders for spots in these sorts of list, although unless we’re about to enter a particularly dry spell Lincoln is most likely the only film that would be promoted to the “films of the decade” league. The rest of these films perhaps shouldn’t be seen as pitted against each other in a numerical deathmatch, but as a number of damn fine films well worth catching up on, if they’ve passed you by during the year.

There’s a highly enjoyable blend of coming-of-age drama and comedy in The Way, Way Back, the former from a solid performance from Liam James’ struggle with hid family life and obnoxious stepfather (itself a douchtacular turn from Steve Carell), and the latter from a blisteringly in-form Sam Rockwell.

I’d go so far as to say that of all the Ironmenz, the best Ironmenz is the Ironmenz that is Iron Man 3. Downey Jr. seems much more animated in this instalment, certainly compared to the lacklustre-to-the-point-of-lustrelessness second outing, bringing great energy to Shane Black’s flick. One thing it has in common with the surprisingly good, although not as good as this, Thor 2: Oh Baby I Like It Thor, aside from the light hearted sense of fun that’s a great antidote to the increasingly po-faced Marvel films, is an innovative approach to staging their CG setpieces that find much more interesting things to do that devolving into one set of polygons thumping another set of polygons. Although, naturally, there’s still a fair bit of that.

Recalling Zodiac in tone, Prisoners is a very gritty drama about Huge Jackman, the hugest of all the jackmen, reacting to the abduction of his daughter in very extreme although understandable ways. Jackman himself might be overdoing it a little, but the excellent supporting cast including Paul “Book’em” Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello ground it admirably.

Corrupt cops now, with James McAvoy in Filth making Bad Lieutenant seem like a paragon of good procedure. Based on Irvine Welsh’s novel, it pulls off a morally ambiguous trick of making a despicable central character likeable and even sympathetic, and we can’t really understate how despicable he is. Boundlessly energetic and with a brilliant supporting cast for McAvoy to bounce off, Filth is a pleasure you’ll feel guilty for enjoying. Like a chocolate and pepperoni pizza. With a bacon stuffed crust.

A number of great comedies appeared this year, all of which I offer no further justification for inclusion other than making me giggle like a schoolboy – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, This Is The End, The World’s End, Bad Grandpa and Anchorman 2. And the greatest of these is Alpha Papa, for lo, Steve Coogan hath playedeth a blinder. Eth.

Hailing from perhaps theOneliner’s favourite studio, Studio Ghibli, From Up On Poppy Hill provides delightful depictions of everyday life and emotional, touching moments of human connections that make this a joy to watch, and looks absolutely beautiful while doing so. The central narrative might not be too strong, and not much more than a thin excuse to throw the leads together, but that’s so easy to excuse when it does so much else so well.

My interest in Formula 1 is largely captured by the numeral zero, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Rush. The racing is very much secondary to the clash in styles and personalities of Lauda and Hunt, two nuanced characters that the film wisely chooses not to play as hero and villain. Terrific performances from Chris Helmsworth and Daniel Bruhl make this as good a sporting bio-pic as I’ve seen.

The marketing push for Philomena seemed to be positioning it as a mismatched couple road trip comedy, which to be fair it is for perhaps five percent of the film, as Coogan’s stuck-up, occasionally obnoxious journalist clashes with Dench’s warm, unassuming Grandmother act. However given that the rest of the film is dealing with the Church stripping babies away from mothers, a decidedly less knockabout concept, I can’t help but feel it’s a trifle misleading. Excellent drama, and great chemistry between the leads.

I’m not exactly on board the awards train that Gravity seems to be riding. It’s an impressive film visually and Bullock’s on rare form, but it’s rather slight in the narrative and believability categories. Regardless, it’s still one of the better films of the year and its comforting that on occasion H-wood is prepared to sink big money into something relatively risky.

My “bubbling under” list of films that narrowly miss out on special mention but are nonetheless worthy of your attention consist of: Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Elysium, Robot and Frank, In The House and Flight.

A few “try hard” awards now, for two films that have enough flaws that I couldn’t unreservedly recommend, but do enough interesting things to warrant some attention. Cloud Atlas is, by design, a convoluted mess of a film, but for every mistep or oddity there’s a slightly larger step on the opposite side of the continuum, leaving the film narrowly ahead on points. The imagination, artistry and technical achievements of the film make it at the very least worth of investigation. More in my review, if you’re intrigued.

A more conventional, and more conventionally flawed, film that’s a mixed bag is Man of Steel, Zack Snyder’s take on re-rebooting the Superman franchise. It could stand to have a lot more Superman in it, and the tonal shift more towards Nolan’s Batman seems more of a franchise crossover necessity than something emerging from the script, but there’s a glimmer of something special yet to come from this time round on the Superman merry-go-round in Man of Steel that’s worth persevering through the duller moments.

And so to the walk of shame for the films I really didn’t like at all in 2013. As usual, I’ll separate off the horror films, as I just don’t appreciate the genre even when done well. I have no doubt there’s a vast reservoir of worse horrors released last year than Mama, but as it looked like the only one interesting enough to have me see it then it’s my least favourite horror of the year. And, statistically at least, my favourite horror film of last year, but to be clear – Mama is no good at all. Early on it does seem to have a lot of promise, with a great cast and efforts to ratchet up the tension, but throws all that away by revealing the monster early on, and boy, doesn’t it look laughable rather than horrifying. If they’d had kept that unwelcome surprise skulking in the shadows for a bit longer then it would have been a substantially better film.

Three films I expected rather more from, largely for the same reason, were Stoker, Zero Dark Thirty and A Field In England, all from directors I’d expect more of. All commit the same basic sin of being rather boring and lifeless indeed, although at least I can see what Stoker and Zero Dark Thirty were aiming for, if falling very short. A Field In England, however, is both nonsensical and as dull as ditchwater. Appropriately enough.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the year comes from Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, largely because it needed to do so little to keep the inner twelve year old happy, and instead chose to have a script seemingly written by a twelve year old. Robots clobbering monsters should be fun, not a loosely bound series of idiotic, reality contravening plot devices and awkward character interactions. The gut-wrenchingly appalling, needlessly witless script hobbles this terribly. Make it stop.

However, the biggest disappointment, and also the worst film of the year, comes from folks we were falling over ourselves to laud only two years ago, but the combo of Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn this time run the quality inverter over Drive to come out with Only God Forgives, a boring, ugly, nasty and above all pointless film, laden with completely gratuitous violence and with no heart to it at all. It’s heavily influenced by Gaspar Noe’s “work”, which really says all you need to know. An abomination of a film.

Thankfully from the time of writing this, a mere twelfth of the way through 2014 there’s been at least two superb films to wash the taste from our mouths, and high hopes for many more to come. We’ll keep you only mildly misinformed of them through our podcast. Catch y’all later.

The Best DVD Cover Art of 1997

A Smile Like Yours

Wow.

Honestly, if there’s any better, and in this instance by “better” I mean “laughable”, cover art that humanity has produced I don’t know what it could possibly be.

Also, get a load of that tagline. The marketing department is due one helluva raise.

Good job, everyone. Good job.

Monday Edition, 8th July 2013

America celebrating their casting off of the loving yoke of British Imperialism brings a fortunate side effect to those rounding up film related news, inasmuch as there’s much less of it than usual. Check these out.

The Beeb join ESPN in shelving their 3D services, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise. I can just about see the logic of expecting folks to sit in clunky 3D glasses in a cinema where you’re theoretically engrossed in the big screen antics with nothing else to divert you, but at home, in a world of smartphones and iPads and making cups of tea during ads and dealing with screaming kids who on earth can be bother donning the VR helmet and sitting in the optimum position for 3D-ness?

Speaking of 3D, here’s the architect of all our modern problems Jimmy Cameron saying Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 didn’t need to be in 3D. Fine, he’s actually right on that point, but Avatar didn’t need to be in 3D either, and if I had my way wouldn’t be on film at all. But that’s not Cameron’s point, as he’s railing against films not shot in 3D being converted into 3D, at which point he’s drowned out by the clanking and whirring moises that this steampunk hypocrisy detector I bought of eBay makes, with its ticker tape output just repeating “TITANIC 3D re-release” over and over. I don’t know how to shut it off. I’m scared.

This Guardian piece on The Bling Ring is terrible for my health, as it covers so many things that are so very threatening to my blood pressure levels. Even leaving aside the larger point that Sofia Coppola’s latest is mind-bendingly boring, my “favourite” part of the piece is the apparently famous Mischa Barton complaining of a passing reference to her arrest while driving while stoned as something Coppola should be ashamed of, rather than, say, endangering the lives of others while in impaired control of a ton of speeding metal. Just say “no”, kids.

David Bordwell makes Johnnie To’s Drug War sound quite appealing. By which I mean that Johnnie To directed a film called Drug War. He’s not on a one-man mission to destroy all of the drugs. I think.

A new John Woo film! Woot! I commence looking forward to The Crossing.

Here are a number of things to watch with your eyes:

  • Only God Forgives gets another bundle of spoilerific clips and featurettes.
  • R.I.P.D. also gets a featurette designed to whet your appetite
  • Snowpiercer can have a few more clips and such too.
  • The Curse of Chucky – how cute! They’re still making Chucky films. Bless their hearts.

Well, that’s it for today. Catch you lot on Thursday.