Archive for January, 2010

#2 Leftover: Fifty Dead Men Walking [3 January 2010, Lovefilm DVD]

January 5, 2010

I was left with 37 British fiction feature films of the 90 released in 2009 to catch up on in 2010. Now there are 35 to see.

Fifty Dead Men Walking opened on 76 screens in the UK  on 10 April 2009, but never came to the Leicester area to my knowledge. It performed quite well at the box office, grossing £0.39m to be in the top 20 British films released January-June 2009. It became available on DVD on 7 September 2009.

Fifty Dead Men Walking [another poor title for a British film] is actually one of the better films that I have seen as part of this quest, and therefore a shame that it didn’t get wider distribution or publicity. Set in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, it draws on autobiographical detail to craft a thriller around the recruitment of an unemployed Catholic man by the British secret service as an IRA informer. The treatment is a bit sensational, sentimental, and lacking complexity, but I love watching Ben Kingsley, and some of the camera set ups are very striking. There might be more ammunition for Philip French’s suggestion that the best British films last year were directed by foreigners – Kari Skogland is Canadian.

Don’t start me talking
I could talk all night
My mind goes sleepwalking
While I put the world to right

(‘Oliver’s Army’, Elvis Costello)


#1 Leftover: Mad, Sad & Bad [1 January 2010, ‘Watch Now’ Lovefilm]

January 3, 2010

Mad, Sad & Bad is a dysfunctional family comedy that received little distribution in late July 2009 (on 3 screens grossing about £3,000), and it wasn’t shown at any of the cinemas in the Leicester area. It was released on DVD on 9 November 2009 and has been available to watch online at Lovefilm immediately from theatrical release (31 July 2009). That is where I watched it recently  on New Year’s Day as my first ‘catch up’ in 2010 of British fiction films released in 2009. There were 90 British fiction  feature films released in 2009, and I have another 36 to watch after trying to see as many of them as possible in the cinema (I saw 40).

I have only just become aware of the ‘watch now’ facility on Lovefilm where there are films that can be watched as steaming video files for free as part of your subscription or for additional payment. In the last week I  have seen three other British films for free in this way – Summer Scars, WMD, and The Last Thakur. For me this is a novel way of watching films, and for Lovefilm a ‘BETA’. Does the availability of some films for free and others for payment say something about the relative commercial value of certain films or the kind of deals that are made? I don’t know what payment is received by the film-makers when I watch their film online in this way.

Mad, Sad & Bad should perhaps be called Mad, Sad & Average, because it is and also it is a terrible title – you are bound to get the words in the wrong order. Watching it on my netbook didn’t make it a special experience and it very much felt like watching television. One could easily imagine this story of mid-thirty year old siblings being shown as an ITV drama at 9pm and thus why it didn’t get a wider cinema release. It would appeal precisely to the 30-40 year old demographic that don’t go to the cinema much. But now that I can watch films for free on the netbook, how am I going to get anything done?

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights

(‘We Are Family’, Sister Sledge)

The Total of New British Fiction Feature Films Seen in 2009

January 1, 2010

With the passing of the old year, a chapter in my British cinema adventure ends, but the project will continue with many films of 2009 still to be seen in 2010, and analysis and reflection about the films to be made, and news to be gathered.

There were 90 British fiction feature films that were given a theatrical release in the UK during 2009.

I saw 53 of these films – 40 of them at the cinema (bold) and 13 more on DVD or online:

Slumdog Millionaire
Better Things
Faintheart – DVD
The Broken – DVD
Revolutionary Road
The Secret of Moonacre
Reverb – DVD
The Young Victoria
Hush – DVD
Lesbian Vampire Killers
The Damned United
The Boat That Rocked

Good – DVD
In the Loop
City Rats – DVD
FAQ About Time Travel
Is Anybody There?

Last Chance Harvey

Summer Scars – online
Looking for Eric
New Town Killers – DVD
Telstar – DVD
The Last Thakur – online
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Taking of Pelham 123
Dorian Gray

Reckoning Day – DVD
31 North 62 East
The Firm
Morris: A Life With Bells On
The Spell
Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee – DVD
WMD – online
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
Dead Man Running
1 Day

Bright Star
Harry Brown
Glorious 39
Bunny and the Bull
St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold

There are 37 films that I will now try to see as quickly as possible in 2010:

I Can’t Think Straight
The World Unseen
50 Dead Men Walking
Little Ashes
French Film
The Hide
Shadows in the Sun
Soi Cowboy
Beyond the Fire
The Disappeared
The Blue Tower
Red Mist
Mad, Sad & Bad
Coffin Rock
Fish Tank
The Agent
Away we Go
Jack Said
The Soloist
White Lightnin’
Vinyan Lost Souls
Katalin Varga
An Education
Southern Softies
Mr Right
The Descent Part 2
Unmade Beds
Dogging: A Love Story
Nowhere Boy

 The clocks are running. Happy film-watching for 2010.