127 Hours (US-UK, 2010)

Odds Against

At one point Aron Ralston, arm trapped under a rock, muses that since the day he was born the rock had been waiting for him. It’d probably been poised for eons and the chance encounter with Ralston precipitated its, and his, fall. What can you do, other than philosophise, in a film when the central character doesn’t move for over an hour? In addition, most of the audience will know what happens; Rolston is credited as the writer of the book on which Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle wrote the screenplay. Indeed, so extraordinary is Rolston’s story that many will probably remember it being reported in 2003. What can you do to make so much that is known thrilling?

Boyle is renowned as a ‘kinetic’ director; maybe the plot’s stasis attracted him. But kinetic the film is and he brilliantly pulls off the trick of making this film riveting; greatly aided by James Franco. Like Touching the Void (UK, 2003) the film takes us, vicariously, to the edge of existence, in a Poe-like desire for the extreme, but allows our characters to return. There can be very little more thrilling than that; other than ‘falling in love’ as in a romance.

It’s not a film for the squeamish but it’s certainly not played for Saw-like gore. And the inevitable conclusion is truly moving. Unless 2011 is much better than last year, this film is already ensconced in the top ten.

Imagine Me & You (UK, 2005)


I am gobsmacked I liked this film. It was sold as a romcom, a genre I usually dislike but this is much more romance than comedy, and featured upper middle class… …people. However… the generic spin of making the lovers – who are apart at the start – lesbian and the charisma of Lena Headey make this a good film. That doesn’t really cover it…

The film has irritating parents (Celia Imrie and Anthony Head) and ‘cute’ kid who knows everything… but I still liked it! I guess it might be little touches such as the  unreconstructed male, who abhors commitment, is not shown to ‘grow up’ but as the piece of bilge that he is.

The ridiculous climax, in a London traffic jam, with the beyond cliche kiss shot with a camera 360- degreeing around them… still didn’t put me off.

Okay. I give up.

The Book of Eli (US, 2010)

Seeing the end

Post-apocalyptic worlds are a staple of science fiction (SF) and serve to draw attention to what we might lose if humanity isn’t careful. Denzil Washington’s Eli describes the ‘old world’ as a place where people threw away what they now kill for. And when Gary Oldham’s – ironically named – Carnegie washes his female partner’s hair in shampoo, the bliss on her face emphasises the horror of a world without simple basics.

Thus The Book of Eli subtlety presents a future hell. Unsurprisingly, as it’s co-produced (with Washington) by Joel Silver, there’s also plenty of action. But that’s directed by the Hughes brothers who are amongst the most interesting of helmsmen in Hollywood today. For example, the first action sequence is shot in one take with the fighting shown in silhouette: it looks great.

There are plenty of ‘implausibles’ in the plot but that matters little when the vision of the future is so convincing; much of it in monochrome with the odd splash of colour. I think I preferred it to the very similar, and more earnest, The Road. More off-putting was the religiosity of the film; the ending did make me feel a little squeamish. However, the film did convincingly portray how necessary religion would be in such a devastated world (it also suggested that religion caused the catastrophe). So it is forgiven; well worth seeing as Washington usually is.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 57,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.


In 2010, there were 75 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 469 posts. There were 79 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 10th with 359 views. The most popular post that day was Shutter Island (US, 2010).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, search.conduit.com, media.edusites.co.uk, omarsfilmblog.blogspot.com, and nicklacey.org.uk.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for donnie darko, shutter island, house of flying daggers, sop, and tropic thunder.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Shutter Island (US, 2010) April 2010


Donnie Darko (US, 2001) February 2009


Standard Operating Procedure (US, 2008) February 2009


House of Flying Daggers (Shi mian mai fu, China, 2004) December 2009


Show Me Love (Fucking Amal, Denmark-Sweden, 1998) February 2009
1 comment

Films of the Year 2010

Film released last year

  1. Lebanon (Israel)
  2. A Single Man (US)
  3. The Secrets in Their Eyes (Argentina)
  4. Four Lions (UK)
  5. Skeletons (UK)
  6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden)
  7. Made in Dagenham (UK)
  8. Inception (US)
  9. Toy Story 3 (US)
  10. The Ghost (UK)

Films seen this year

  1. La Boheme (Aus-Ger, 2008)
  2. Crash (US, 2004)
  3. Children of Men (UK, 2006)
  4. A History of Violence (US, 2005)
  5. The Children’s Hour (US, 1961)
  6. Singin’ in the Rain (US, 1952)
  7. On the Town (US, 1949)
  8. Before Sunset (US, 2004)
  9. Memento (US, 2000)
  10. The Orphanage (Spain, 2007)

Books of the year

  1. Medea, Euripedes
  2. One Day, David Nicholls
  3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Steig Larsson
  4. Hearts and Minds, Amanda Craig
  5. The World’s Wife, Carol Ann Duffy
  6. Hedda Gabler, Ibsen
  7. Digimodernism, Alan Kirby
  8. Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Crude Oil, Peter Maas
  9. One Dimensional Women, Nina Power
  10. The Madman of Freedom Square, Hassin Blasim

Albums of the year

  1. Ceremony and Devotion – Music for the Tudors, The Sixteen
  2. Amandine Solace in Sore Hands
  3. Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances etc, Royal Liverpool PO – Petrenko
  4. The National High Violet
  5. The Soundcarriers Celeste
  6. Rumer, Seasons of My Soul
  7. Nneka No Longer At Ease
  8. Marina and the Diamonds, The Family Jewels
  9. These New Puritans Hidden
  10. Thea Gilmore, Murphy’s Heart

Live events of the year

  1. Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
  2. All My Sons, Arthur Miller, Apollo Theatre, London
  3. Cirque du Soleil: Saltimbanco
  4. Dharorhar Project, Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, St George’s Hall, Bradford
  5. La Boheme, Opera North
  6. Don McCullen exhibition at Imperial War Museum – Manchester
  7. David Nash, YSP
  8. Bellowhead, St George’s Hall, Bradford
  9. Lysistrata, Aristophanes, Actors of Dionysus
  10. Salsa Celtica, Victoria Hall – Saltaire