Best For Film Just another WordPress site Tue, 15 Apr 2014 02:30:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 TJ Hibbert Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:58:42 +0000 Best For Film I often go the cinema with my family or friends and watch many movies; therefore i can write a lot of reviews

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My five favourite films Fri, 28 Mar 2014 17:28:34 +0000 John Underwood There’s no unifying theme, such as you’d find in the Top 10s; there’s no template, like the one for the Cheat Sheets. It’s just sixteen articles, published over nearly a year, that showcase some of our best writers’ favourite films. And I never wrote one. I always knew what my film would be, but what with one thing and another I never got round to writing about it, finding a handful of pictures and publishing Best For Film’s Favourite Flicks #17. It’s only a little thing – one forgotten blog amongst the twelve hundred articles I’ve written on this site – but the little things can fester. So, on this indifferent spring day, I’m finally going to write about my favourite films. And I’m giving myself five, because fuck it.

None of these films are classics of the New Wave, or bold artistic statements, or shot in monochrome. Few of them, I suspect, would make it into one of Sight & Sound’s insufferable lists. None of them even have The Rock in, which feels a bit like a betrayal of everything Best For Film stands for. But (with one exception) they’re all films that I watch over and over again. They’re equally capable of rescuing a dreadful day and gilding a great one; they comfort and entertain and take you away from this ghastly bloody world where, as the great sage and philosopher Jessie J once said, the sale comes first and the truth comes second. They’re proper films, and I will never not love them. If you spend too much time worrying about what’s on at the Curzon or what’s going to make you look cool, take a night off and watch one. It might do you good.


#5 – American Beauty

I first saw American Beauty with my friend Chris, a wiry, witty Northerner who was my best friend during the hardest month of my life. I can’t now remember exactly when or where we watched it – hell, I can’t remember exactly when or where I last saw him – but Sam Mendes’ unforgiving deconstruction of suburban inertia convinced me that I’d done the right thing by moving to London and starting a degree I didn’t really understand. Against all the odds, I think American Beauty does an even better job of conveying the ‘get busy living or get busy dying’ motif of The Shawshank Redemption than Shawshank itself – however flawed its characters and however pointless their quests, it’s not a negative film or one designed to leave you feeling empty. Lester Burnham is a man who reclaims his youth and, eventually, his adulthood – he doesn’t need to live past the end of the film to have found some peace in a turbulent, unfocused life. I miss Chris, and I miss being eighteen and knowing nothing of bereavement and heartbreak, but I wouldn’t want to go back to 2007 again. I might miss all the beautiful things second time round.


#4 – Back to the Future

For about ten years, the only Back to the Future film I’d seen was Part III, taped off the TV by my dad and idiosyncratically labelled ‘Time Car 3/3‘. Whilst preteen John thrilled to the Old West adventures of Marty and Doc, there were moments throughout the story that didn’t quite make sense – where did the self-erasing note come from, and why does the baddie end up covered in suspiciously green manure? – until, years later, I mainlined the entire trilogy on a hungover New Year’s Day. Unless you too have watched and rewatched a film whilst being totally ignorant of its context, it’s hard to describe the utter joy of finally understanding all the references and all the call-backs in one glorious afternoon. I sort of think decoding the Rosetta Stone must have felt a bit like finally understanding why Marty says “Great Scott” and Doc says “I know, this is heavy”. Even if you can’t recreate my experience, Back to the Future is perfect escapism – the acutely honed script, pitch-perfect cast (speak not of the recasting of Claudia Wells in the sequels) and extraordinary, engaging, uplifting story combine to produce a film of rare genius. One for a low day.


#3 – Cinema Paradiso

I’ve never seen Cinema Paradiso all the way through. I realise this is playing directly into Harry’s hands, since he insists that the final film on this list is the only one I’ve ever watched to the end, but so be it. When I was at school and studying several languages, the last lesson of term would traditionally be given over to watching a film in the relevant tongue on the basis that it would teach us some new vocabulary and some colloquial constructions. Obviously this never worked, because we were always allowed subtitles and therefore ignored the words altogether. In 2004, in Italian class, the film we watched was Cinema Paradiso, which is three hours long; it was a bloody awful choice, objectively, but I don’t think our Italian teacher had any other DVDs.

We got through the first hour in class, and then I stayed alone to watch the second hour during lunch, surrounded by the thirteen year olds whose form room we’d been in. I was totally absorbed by the story, the colour, the whole seductive ambience of post-war Sicily; I think I remember deciding that from now on, this was going to be what I said when people asked me my favourite film. However Cinema Paradiso ended, it was bound to stay with me forever. Then, of course, lunchtime was up and I had to go to double Maths, with nearly an hour of the film to go. Ten years later, I still have a perfect, golden memory of Cinema Paradiso, and I’ve twice turned down opportunities to see it at screenings. What I saw was so intoxicating, so perfectly wrought, that I’d hate to rewatch it with the critical eye that was wholly absent from my first viewing. In my head it’s perfect despite – or because of – its incompleteness, and it’s staying that way.


#2 – Trainspotting

I’ve written before about my relationship with Trainspotting. As a nice middle-class boy who’s never glassed a lassie, robbed a tourist or been addicted to anything illegal, Danny Boyle’s best film isn’t exactly a mirror of my life, but Renton’s attempts to escape his surroundings – first by taking drugs, then by moving away, then by doing over his best friends and disappearing into a London morning – tell a genuinely universal story. Set in a city I’ve barely visited, soundtracked by the music of a generation I don’t remember, Trainspotting is wholly immersive in a way that few other films can match. I find myself empathising with different characters every time I watch, depending on the most recent turns my life has taken – sometimes I want to be smooth, ruthless Sick Boy, sometimes simple, clean-living Tommy. I don’t often admit to wanting to be Begbie, but I know there’s a sliver of maniac in me just as I know there’s a hint of poor, pathetic Spud, desperately clinging to his intoxicants because life’s just too bloody hard. Renton is the best of the lot, the most rounded person, but if you combined all of the boys from Leith you’d get someone a lot like me and a lot like you. Just like Rents and Begbie (in the book, not the film), at some point we’re all trainspotting in a derelict station.


#1 – The Princess Bride

You probably knew this was coming. My reverence for Rob Reiner’s 1987 meta-fairytale is well known amongst the BFF community, and if I were writing a proper Favourite Flicks blog then you’d be coming to the end of 1500-odd words about how it’s the wittiest, best-cast and most sensitively adapted film I’ve ever seen. But there’s a time and a place for these things, and the time for me to write about why I love The Princess Bride was last year, or the year before, or at any point in the four wonderful years I’ve spent at Best For Film, initially under the tutelage of Tash Hodgson and then as editor. Like the unfinished viewing of Cinema Paradiso, I can’t quite bring myself to write about my very favourite film, because for the last year I’ve been telling myself that Best For Film’s Favourite Flicks #17 – The Princess Bride would be the last thing I ever wrote for this tattered, glorious website, with its incredible writers and its wonderful fans and its steadfast refusal to be optimised for mobile viewing. If I tell you why I love The Princess Bride, that’ll be the end; and although this is my last day, and from Monday I’ll be pounding the streets looking for work as Best For Film is shipped off to some anonymous buyer, that’s not something I can face. So watch the film, if you haven’t already, and tell me why you loved it in the comment box, or on Twitter, or in the pub sometime. We’ll have a chat. It’ll be good – because despite everything, Best For Film has been inconceivably good fun, and I shall miss it more than I can say.

So long, guys and girls. Thanks for reading.


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Andy Serkis to direct The Jungle Book Fri, 21 Mar 2014 16:48:54 +0000 John Underwood The multitalented Andy Serkis, who recently served as second unit director for Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, has been named as the new director for Warner Bros. live action/motion capture adaptation of The Jungle Book. Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of Carlotta‘s favourite film Amores Perros (happy birthday, Carlotta!), was originally set to direct; we assume he’s sashayed off to collect some more ridiculous diacritical marks for his name.

With his experience in the six Middle-Earth films, not to mention King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Tintin, we can’t imagine a better person to take on this role than Serkis. Let’s hope he’s up to browbeating screenwriter Callie Kloves, daughter of Harry Potter ruiner Steve, into making this a proper adaptation of Kipling’s masterpiece rather than another anodyne Disney hugfest.

Also, we really hope he plays Kaa. Like, REALLY hope. If there’s one thing cinema needs, it’s Andy Serkis, dressed as a snake, hypnotising an entire ruined city full of monkeys into lying down so he can eat them.

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Chester Curry Fri, 21 Mar 2014 06:42:43 +0000 Best For Film

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Doug Liman in final talks to direct Splinter Cell Thu, 20 Mar 2014 11:23:40 +0000 John Underwood The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman is very close to signing on for the big-screen adaptation of stealth video game Splinter Cell.

The film, which will star Tom Hardy as deniable agent Sam Fisher, is based on Ubisoft’s colossally successful series Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Hardy has played a secret agent before in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, whilst Liman’s action credentials – the aforementioned Bourne Identity, Mr & Mrs Smith, Jumper and forthcoming Tom Cruise flick Edge of Tomorrow – are appropriately varied. We’re not sure we’d want Jumper on our CV, mind.

It’s never been clear exactly how much involvement (if any) Tom Clancy had with the Splinter Cell series, which was developed after Ubisoft bought out his game development company Red Storm Entertainment. Red Storm had mostly made crappy submarine simulators in the 90s, so we’ve never had a problem with Ubisoft moving in on Clancy’s turf (and neither does he now, alas). Ubisoft’s other flagship property, Assassin’s Creed, is also in the middle of getting its own film – it’ll be interesting to see whether Tom Hardy’s triple goggles or Michael Fassbender‘s hidden blade will win out at the box office.

Do you think Liman is up to the challenge of Splinter Cell? Let us know below!

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Anderson supercut reveals Wes’ dedication to symmetry Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:51:26 +0000 John Underwood Cult director Wes Anderson has always had a very visible preoccupation with colour and form, resulting in a body of work in which many fans can identify a specific film from one obscure frame. He’s also very fixated on Owen Wilson, but we’ll let that pass. Anyway, one perceptive Anderson aficionado has conducted a simple, compelling analysis of Wes’ oeuvre that shows just how much effort goes into constructing his perfect shots.

:: kogonada, a South Korean-born filmmaker who contributes to the BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine, recently uploaded the following Wes Anderson supercut to Vimeo. With the simple addition of a dotted line, he demonstrates how meticulously the Grand Budapest Hotel director ensures symmetry in both incidental and key scenes. We haven’t got a lot to say about it, it’s just really pleasant to watch.

So go on, then, watch it.

Isn’t that great? We should probably have got Janina to write this article so she could rave on for twelve thousand words about Wes Anderson’s coruscating genius, but it’s a Wednesday and we’re pretty much happy looking at how lovely and symmetrical everything is. Look at it! It’s like one of those paintings from nursery school where you cover half a page in poster paint and then fold it over.

Ironically, of course, Wes Anderson himself isn’t at all symmetrical.


We could watch that gif all day.

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Marc Webb will not direct Amazing Spider-Man 4 Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:17:25 +0000 John Underwood Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb has confirmed that he will not return for the far-off fourth instalment of the franchise he rebooted.

Webb, who has overseen two films starring Peter Parker as the web-slinging superhero (the second is due out this summer) and will direct a third for release in 2016, has distanced himself from the future of the series after Sony confirmed plans to release a new Amazing Spider-Man film every year.

“I’d like to be involved as a consultant,” he told The Daily Beast. “I’ve already talked to these guys about it, but in terms of directing it, [The Amazing Spider-Man 3] will close out my tenure. I’ve had so much fun doing it, but after the third movie, it’ll be the time to find something else.”

Films centred on classic Spidey villains Venom and the Sinister Six have been in development for some time, although neither has a release date – we’re guessing, judging by the sneaky reference to them in the latest Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer, that the S6 will be up first. Anything to relieve the tedium of endless Peter Parker flicks…

Do you think Sony are overdoing it with the Spider-Man thing? They are, aren’t they? Agree with us below.

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Locke Fri, 14 Mar 2014 12:21:02 +0000 Steven Neish Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) has a busy night ahead of him. A Welsh building contractor, Ivan is facing the biggest concrete delivery of his career — the biggest, in fact, to ever take place in Europe — and yet he is driving in the opposite direction, instead heading to a hospital in London to see a woman he barely knows named Bethan (Olivia Colman). Between calls to the office, where Donal (Andrew Scott) is working on Ivan’s behalf to ensure the delivery goes precisely to plan, and Bethan, Ivan also tries to contact his wife, Katrina (Ruth Wilson), who is at home with their two children (Tom Holland, Bill Milner) waiting to watch a football match with her absent husband.

There is a moment approximately twenty minutes into Locke when it becomes clear that the action is never going to leave the inside of Ivan’s car. To begin with this is reasonable cause for concern; Tom Hardy is certainly convincing as a cement expert, but as characters go it’s safe to say that he’s not the most dynamic. Eventually, however, Ivan’s predicament becomes suddenly vital, and his list of contacts transform from vague voices on the end of the phone line to complex and compelling characters in their own right.

Locke isn’t the first movie to incorporate telecommunication into its narrative — both Phone Booth and Cellular relied on characters communicating almost exclusively by phone — but in not treating this device as a gimmick the film certainly gets some points for originality. Locke isn’t about the car phone, it’s about the relationships in Ivan’s life and what each individual one reveals about his personality. The most telling conversation doesn’t even take place over the phone, but is instead an imagined, one-sided diatribe with his deceased father.

Hardy is astonishing in the role, holding his audience’s attention throughout. Ivan is for the most part calm and collected, but on occasion betrays a vulnerability and uncertainty that stems from his own father issues and his determination to redeem the Locke name. While Ivan may have accepted his predicament, those around him are far from ready to deal with the consequences. The different facets to his character make Ivan interesting, but its his frustration at everyone else that makes him so sympathetic. His bosses anger, his colleague’s confusion and his wife’s hurt all seem obscene in the calm of Ivan’s car, and you become not only invested but defensive as you see him attacked from all angles.

A high-concept thriller with a difference, Steven Knight’s Locke is sober, understated and character-driven. Don’t let the subdued atmosphere put you off, however, as Hardy’s performance ensures that it is just as tense and urgent as any other.

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Captain America takes on Batman and Superman Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:58:37 +0000 John Underwood The biggest names in comics, movies and superheroes will all be going toe to toe in 2016 as Marvel’s Captain America 3 faces off against DC’s Batman vs. Superman.

Captain America 3, which was recently all but greenlit, is set to open on May 6th 2016. Following the announcement that its release would be delayed by almost a year, Warner Bros’ untitled Batman/Superman movie – the sequel to Man of Steel, which will introduce Ben Affleck as the new Batman – will hit cinemas on the same day.

This is a risky strategy for basically everyone involved. Although Captain America is gaining ground as a solo hero (look out for our review of his new film The Winter Soldier when the review embargo lifts next week), Superman and Batman are arguably the most well-known superheroes of all time, Avengers or no Avengers. Disney/Marvel had first dibs on the release date, so Warner Bros. must be feeling bloody confident about their heroes’ chances.

Will a DC property finally be able to break Marvel’s decade-long stranglehold on the first-weekend-of-summer top spot? We don’t know, and because this industry is ridiculous we won’t find out for two and a bit years. PSYYYYYYYYYCHED

Who do you think will win the day – grumpy Nazi-puncher Cap or DC’s solitary mystery men? Actually, they’re all quite lonely, aren’t they? Maybe they should just all go to the zoo together.

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The Zero Theorem Tue, 11 Mar 2014 02:30:39 +0000 Steven Neish First published on Popcorn Addiction.

Reclusive computer genius Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is waiting for a phone call. He doesn’t know when the call will come or who the caller might be, but he expects it to relate somehow to the meaning of life. Unfortunately, Leth has to spend a considerable amount of time at work, where he pours over various formulas under the watchful eye of Management (Matt Damon). While at a party, he is told by supervisor Joby (David Thewlis) that Management wants to put him on a new project, and accepts when it is revealed that he can perform his new duties from home. Qohen has been tasked with solving The Zero Theorem, a mathematical extrapolation of Big Crunch theory which seems to suggest that life is purposeless. Leth needs his phone call now more than ever, but with the sudden arrival of Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry) and Bob (Lucas Hedges) in his life he keeps finding himself getting distracted from his work.

You should of course know better than to apply logic to a Terry Gilliam movie; the auteur doesn’t plot his movies in the usual sense, rather he develop his themes until they themselves assume some sort of narrative shape. Watching a Gilliam production is often akin to an episode of Doctor Who; it’s a overwhelming, alienating experience in which you have to write the contrivances and improbabilities off to something vaguely timey-wimey and just savour the experience in all of its crackpot, nonsense glory. After all, it’s not every director who could overcome the untimely death of his lead actor by recasting not once but three times, as he did with last film The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus. Why? Even having watched the film the answers aren’t exactly forthcoming.

Of all Gilliam’s past films, it is perhaps 1985′s Brazil that is the most obvious forerunner to The Zero Theorem (no surprise really, as it’s being billed as the third and final part in the director’s ‘Dystopian Satire Trilogy’). It’s yet another tale of one man’s persecution by the state, only rather than the straight man being up against a force of complete and utter chaos the roles have this time been reversed. This time it’s the protagonist who babbles incoherently to the endless bewilderment of those around him; Leth is an eyebrow-deprived recluse who inhabits a fire-damaged chapel, refers to himself in the first-person plural and has turned a simple wrong number or prank call into a bona fide belief system.

There are shades of Gilliam-esque satire to the world inhabited by Leth, a culture that would invoke Dr. Seuss and Whoville if it wasn’t so technologically advanced or strangely sexualised. As a treatise on religion and the madness of blind faith The Zero Theorem is mildly successful, though in order to reach its eventual conclusions you must suffer through an awful lot of largely inconsequential silliness. Who’s to say whether Waltz — or for that matter any of the cast — are hitting their marks, for it is singularly impossible to imagine what exactly they might be aiming for. Waltz spends a lot of time acting frenzied at a computer, but to what effect it is difficult to say. Thierry and Hedges seem to hold some answers, but never enough to completely satisfy, while Tilda Swinton only adds to the insanity as a Scottish psychiatrist.

The Zero Theorem will likely appeal to those well-versed in the director’s style and sensibilities, and to anyone willing to analyse and scrutinise every utterance or incidence for hidden, if not misplaced meaning. For everyone else it is likely to prove even more obtuse, enigmatic and indecipherable than Gilliam’s other works. You have to be in the mood to watch The Zero Theorem, and it’s safe to say that I wasn’t. Honestly, the titular formula itself must have been easier to crack.

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