Tag Archives: film

Here’s To You Mr. Ebert

MrEbertLike many film lovers the world over Roger Ebert was my idol. He was the guy I went to when a film came out to see what he thought about. Okay, we didn’t always agree but I could always respect his opinions since he had seen pretty much every film ever released that was worth seeing so he had much greater means of comparison than I have (or ever will have to be honest).

It’s one of those strange things when the person you idolize dies. You are left feeling with an emptiness inside that no one will ever really fill again. His death coincided with the end period of my making this bucket list… so it seemed obvious to me that he should have a place on it.

List Item: Watch Roger Ebert’s “The Great Movies”
Progress: 168/409

One of the things I loved most about visiting Roger Ebert’s website was reading up on all the essays that he wrote accompanying what he called his “Great Movies”. A list that includes everything from a documentary about a pet cemetary to however you would go about describing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

So, this post marks the opening of another ongoing item where I will be making my way through the films the good man saw fit to call great. This is a large list so it will take me years to see them all (especially since I am going through a bit of an animation binge and there is only one on his list that I have not seen yet). For now though I leave a link to the list in the image below, I’ll get round to watching more of these soon enough.



Oscar Bait: The English Patient

List Item: Watch all Best Picture Winners (to date)
Progress: 71/87

After dismantling the jigsaw puzzle, which was oddly traumatic after spending hours and hours constructing it, I needed to watch a movie to take my mind off of it. So rather than going for another foreign flick I thought that I would hit up the Academy Award Best Picture winner list which resulted in this:

englishpatientTitle: The English Patient
Director: Anthony Minghella
Year: 1996
Haul: 9 awards in total

I have an odd memory related to this film. I remember GMTV (a morning TV show) being on and them covering the sweep made by The English Patient with a montage of numerous actors and members of the film community declaring “and the winner is… The English Patient“. This is something that really should have meant that I might have seen this film earlier but so much commentary has swirled declaring it as over-rated so I have left it until now.

As someone who lists Fargo as their 4th favourite film of all time was always going to be hard for me to watch the film that beat it to Oscar glory. Then again Frances McDormand took the Best Actress win so I guess that’s something.

Still, with both the Fargo-beating and the spectre of this being an overrated film hanging overhead I did not exactly go into watching this film clean. Then I saw the illuminating face of Juliette Binoche as French-Canadian nurse Hana and knew everything was going to be okay. Fine, I know that it is cheap to sit up and pay attention when an actress you enjoy watching but this is what happened with this film.

The story of the film, in brief, is told primarily through flashback as we learn the identity of the eponymous English Patient (Ralph Fiennes) who lays in an abandoned monastery covered in burns. He recollects his story primarily to Nurse Hana and a Canadian thief (Willem Dafoe) and we learn of the patient’s previous life as a desert mapmaker and of his affair with the, very much married, Katherine (Kristen Scott-Thomas).

Despite Ralph Fiennes doing solid work in his lead role (and by God is he just exuding the silent sex appeal when he is not knee deep in latex) this is really a film that belongs to Binoche and Scott-Thomas. The fact that the original studio pushed for Demi Moore to play Katherine is perplexing (not least because it is painful to imagine the accent she would have to affect).

There is so much to this film that makes it a compelling watch but at 162 minutes it feels a little bit bloated and I know exactly where it could be trimmed. The dinner scene where a drunk Fiennes reproaches his fellow cartographers, some of the occupation scene with Dafoe and (sad to say this) a number of scenes with Colin Firth could have been edited without losing the formation of his intense jealousy.

As an ensemble and cinematographic piece The English Patient is a really good watch. If it was just trimmer by 15-20 minutes this could have been even better… as long as no Juliette Binoche scenes are cut.

Around The World in 100 Films – Start Point

List Item: Watch films from 100 different nations
Progress: 22/100

Time for me to open up the second of my three film bucket list items with a rather arbitrary goal of seeing films from 100 different nations. Unlike the Oscar list item this is something that can be permanently crossed off unless I suddenly get the urge to add another batch of countries to keep this going.

Now, I have decided to count countries as long as I watched the film after I put this onto my bucket list which was (yes I made a note) on August 5th 2013. This means that some countries (e.g. Finland, South Africa, China and Israel) are not on the list yet despite me having seen them in the past. I figured using this cut off point would serve as a way to make this more challenging whilst also keeping Burkina Faso (still stoked about that one).

Whilst I was preparing this list I saw there were 21 countries on the list and instantly envisioned doing a really cool triangle number diagram as you can see below:WorldCinemaTriangleNotice the problem? Well in making that list I had forgotten that I saw a Polish film at the end of January which means poor Hungary (my most recent nation) has to lay on the outskirts since I decided to do this in order of seeing them. My inner math-geek is not impressed with this. It was later pointed out to me that a film I thought was Australian was from New Zealand, now my inner flag-geek is unhappy too.

Still 22 countries down, 78 to go. Not a bad place to start with, although there are not many of the big film nations left which will make this interesting.

Any film suggestions for yet unwatched countries will be VERY much appreciated. Bear in mind re-watches are not allowed here so films like Tsotsi, Drifting Clouds and Waltz With Bashir will not count.

  1. Germany – Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)
  2. U.S.A. – Robocop
  3. Netherlands – De Vierde Man(The Fourth Man)
  4. Czech Republic – Kolja (Kolya)
  5. Italy – La Strada
  6. Burkina Faso – Sarraounia
  7. Argentina – El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)
  8. Japan – Zatoichi Monogatari (The Story of Zatoichi)
  9. Brazil  – Cidade De Deus (City of God)
  10. Denmark – Melancholia
  11. United Kingdom – Blowup
  12. Norway – Flåklypa Grand Prix (Pinchcliffe Grand Prix)
  13. France – La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game)
  14. New Zealand – The Piano
  15. Poland – Popiól i diament (Ashes and Diamonds)
  16. Spain – El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive)
  17. Sweden – Viskningar och Rop (Cries and Whispers)
  18. Belgium – Ernest & Célestine
  19. Greece – Kynodontas (Dogtooth)
  20. Canada – The Sweet Hereafter
  21. Algeria – Z
  22. Hungary – A torinói ló(The Turin Horse)

It’s Okay To Watch Oscar Bait Sometimes… Right?

List Item: Watch all Best Picture Winners (to date)
Progress: 70/87

There are many ways that I will describe myself; geek, Pepsi Max addict, ginger but one label I wear with a true sense of pride is that of cinephile. I absolutely adore films above all other forms of artistic expression which might explain why there are three bucket list items on my list. It is fitting therefore that one of these be the first item I start writing about and the first to be included into my “in progress” section.


Like most film lovers I do have a love-hate relationship with the Academy Awards since I have my own opinions about what films should win each year rather than the one picked by the Academy. In fact there have only been seven years out of the (as of writing) 87 films that I would concede were the best of that year:

  • 1934 – It Happened One Night
  • 1939 – Gone With The Wind
  • 1940 – Rebecca
  • 1965  – The Sound of Music
  • 1969 – Midnight Cowboy
  • 1972 – The Godfather
  • 1984 – Amadeus

So, why have the Oscar Best Picture Winners on this list at all if I rarely agree? Love it or loathe the system, and the incredibly flawed Best Foreign Language Film system, it is seen by many as THE film award. So until a truly global film award comes into existence this is the best we in the English-speaking world have.


As you can see from the above graphic (which is linked to my film-watching activity) I am already a large part of the way through this list item since it is something I have been actively making my way through for a few years and I am left with only 17 to watch… but of course this is a list item that will need yearly attention once I am up to date.

The films I have left are a fairly mixed batch, but with the exception of The Life of Emile Zola, I appear to have dealt with the film widely considered the worst and borderline unwatchable, yes that is a reference to The Greatest Show On Earth.

I’ll end with the 17 films yet to be watched as I write this:

Wings, All Quiet On The Western Front, Grand Hotel, Cavalcade, Mutiny On The Bounty, The Life of Emile Zola, You Can’t Take It With You, Mrs. Miniver, The Lost Weekend, Hamlet, All The King’s Men, Marty, Ordinary People, Terms of Endearment, Out of Africa, The English Patient and Million Dollar Baby.