My view of Southport, Merseyside


Peter Falk has died.



I just read with genuine sorrow that Peter Falk has died. It’s not very often that the death of a celebrity causes me to feel real emotion after all we don’t really know these people, do we? But Peter Falk was is an exception. He wasn’t just another celebrity, in fact the man himself tended to shy away from the kind of attention and adulation that many of today’s media stars seem to court.

I first became a fan when I was a kid and I started watching old Columbo films when they were repeated on BBC1 each Saturday teatime. These films were old even then, the best of them having been made in the seventies, but they always seemed fresh because of the strength of the central character, the quality of the production and, most importantly, the portrayal of Columbo by Peter Falk. That character was humble, modest, and fallible but also clever, perceptive and brilliant. Columbo was so ordinary on the outside and yet such a genius on the inside and this dichotomy fascinated and entertained viewers for more than three decades.

Because I’d loved Falk in Columbo I started watching his films whenever they were shown on TV and found that he was an actor who could play many different kinds of role. Most impressive to me were his parts in John Cassavetes movies. These are low budget art house type films which are sometimes challenging to watch but are usually amazingly powerful. If you think that Peter Falk was basically only capable of playing Columbo, go and watch Husbands or A Woman Under The Influence (unbelievably superb performances in both!).

It was painful to hear of him being afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease recently and those shots of him confused and distressed were so upsetting. He shouldn’t be remembered that way because that was so far from the Peter Falk that I’ve seen in so many great films. Better to remember him as he is in the photo above. And of course for being Columbo. I think the reason he was so great in all his roles but particularly in that one was that he endowed the shambolic cop with kindness and humility as well as brilliance. I suspect he was able to do this so convincingly because these were qualities which he himself also possessed. Agony to think that he won’t be coming back through the door saying “…just one more thing…”



NEW TRAILER RELEASED FOR Rise of the Planet of the Apes

It looks pretty good although people are saying that the CGI looks great but I think it looks dodgy. There’s obviously A LOT of CGI in this film and I usually hate CGI. Why does everyone but me love CGI? I’m still really looking forward to seeing the film when it’s released though.

Why I enjoyed X-Men First Class


X-Men First Class is surprisingly good in parts. And surprisingly bad in other parts. The first 40 minutes or so is pretty serious stuff and builds up your hopes that this might actually turn out to be more than just lightweight, CGI-heavy froth. The film then goes on to develop into lightweight, CGI-heavy froth. Of course if you went to the cinema hoping to see lightweight, CGI-heavy froth then you’ll be highly delighted.

I enjoyed it. Ish. I especially enjoyed the scene above (sorry, I’m a terrible, lecherous monster!). I did almost fall asleep at one point but I’m sure that’s because I didn’t sleep much the previous night. (The only film I’ve ever actually really fell totally asleep in, I mean proper sleep with dribbling, is Avatar. How about you?). I’d advise everyone to go and see X-Men…. there’s blue boobs in it! What more could anyone want from a film?


Bad Teacher not bad actually

Attention class! Bad Teacher. It’s a comedy. I laughed. That doesn’t always happen. I didn’t laugh all the time. I laughed enough to make me feel like I enjoyed it though. So that’s good! Cameron Diaz is good. The supporting cast is much better. Best line is “Test my urine!!!” There’s not much of a plot. It’s not a brain tester. The simplicity is actually refreshing. It’s not trying to be clever and it succeeds… in not achieving that aim… that it didn’t have in the first place. And that’s about it really. It’s not a classic. It is a comedy that actually makes you laugh quite a lot, though. So maybe it is a bit clever after all. Class dismissed.

The cast of Righteous Kill is too good.

When someone mentions a film title to me I automatically think to myself ‘who’s in it?’ It’s a habit which comes from mistakenly hiring third rate titles from Blockbuster which list the ‘star’s as Milton Broadlight (?), Cruise Bruisington (??) and Randy Bumgardener (??!!!!!!!!). Cast of unknowns equals crap film. So using this theory Righteous Kill ought to be one of the best films ever made!

Who could ask for a better cast than Robert de Niro and Al Pacino? These two legends have made shedloads of great movies and yet have only ever appeared in the same film twice; Godfather 2 and Heat (they’ve actually only ever been in the same scene together once!). In Righteous Kill they appear together in almost every scene. And, as you’d expect, they’re great. If I was to be picky (which I am) I would question whether their styles have become a touch hammy… why does de Niro always pull that same, stick-your-chin-out, expression…? …why does Pacino raise his eyebrows until they’re higher than his hairline…? …instead of doing that clever acting thing, why can’t they both just act naturally like they did in, respectively, Taxi Driver and Serpico …?

Ironically it is the strength of the cast of this film which gives away the twist. Without spoiling it, I was thinking pretty early on that Pacino’s character couldn’t possibly be as straightforwardly good as it appeared or Pacino wouldn’t have agreed to do it. If a lesser known actor had been in that role, I may not have been looking for deeper character development. I have to hold my hands up and confess though that I didn’t guess the exact nature of the twist so it was quite satisfying when it came.

As the credits rolled I felt like Id really enjoyed the film on the level of a straight-forward cop thriller. The next day I felt like it had gone a bit sour; like when you get indigestion after a curry. By then, all the plot holes had occurred to me and I’d thought of things which had been put in to lead the viewer down the wrong track but then didn’t make much sense after the final plot denouement had arrived. Most of all, I’d remembered some of the exceptional films that these two wonderful actors made in their earlier careers… de Niro in Godfather 2, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Cape Fear, The Deer Hunter, Awakenings, The Mission, Casino… Pacino in Godfather 1,2 and 3, Dog Day Afternoon, Scent of A Woman, Serpico, Scarface, Glengarry Glenross, Carlito’s Way, Insomnia

Righteous Kill is fun and well-made but exceptional? Not even close. Those earlier films had things to say about the human condition. This film is a story hung around a pretty contrived plot twist. Why do films always have to a twist these days anyway? I’m expecting a twist in all films now and if you’re expecting a twist… well, its not really a twist, is it? Maybe they could make a film without a twist one time and that could be the twist.