When you hear certain songs you just can’t help yourself: you must dance! These are funny, contagious dance scenes that happen rather unexpectedly and it’s impossible not to related to the characters. Music from the late seventies and early eighties gets the lion share, there are some memorable dance tunes used in many films.
Love Actually – Jump (For My Love), The Pointer Sisters (1983)
British Prime Minister blows off some steam when a great song comes on the radio (and the deejay dedicates it to him)
Los Amantes Pasajeros – I’m So Exited, The Pointer Sisters (1982)
Three flight assistants entertain the worried business class passengers dancing and lip-synching with hilarious results.
In & Out – I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor (1978)
Real men don’t dance… or so the self-help audio book “How to be a man” wants us to believe. Kevin Kline will prove it wrong.
Risky Business – Old Time Rock And Roll, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet (1978)
When the cat is away… iconic scene from the film that launched Tom Cruise’s career.
Full Monty – Hot Stuff, Donna Summer (1979)
Rehearsing their dancing routine while waiting in the unemployment line: priceless!
The Big Chill – Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, The Temptations (1966)
Tidying up after dinner with your friends looks like fun.
The rise to power and violent regime of Idi Amin (Whitaker), real-life Ugandan dictator during the seventies, is seen through the eyes of a fictional character Dr. Nicholas Garrigan (McAvoy), young and a little naive Scotsman. Based on the book by Giles Foden, the story mixes well facts with fiction keeping the viewer engaged. Forest Whitaker goes above and beyond to give us a multi-layered portrayal of this larger-than-life historical figure. Well-trained by the British army, Amin happened to be one of the first two officer in the post-colonial Ugandan army; he raised quite fast in the ranks to Commander of all forces,thanks to his charisma and attitude to leadership, and brilliantly solved his years-long struggle with President Obote with a military coup. This is when young Nicholas meets him, cheered by the people as savior of Uganda. Amin has a great admiration for Scotland and he’s positively impressed by Nicholas, who is direct and self-confident. Nicholas is intrigued and charmed by this charismatic giant and let himself be convinced to become Amin’s personal physician. However, behind the lovely, colourful facade of life in the presidential residence, the blight starts to show: Amin is increasingly paranoid, ruthless and in more than one occasion shows erratic behaviour lashing out at advisors, family and friends alike. Amin relies more and more on Nicholas as he slowly turns himself into an absolute despot, ruling with iron fist and killing all his opponents. The viewer, together with Nicholas, is both disturbed and terrified by this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hide behaviour and begins to understand that things will only get worse. To complicate matters, Nicholas has the not very bright idea of having an affair with Kay (Washington), Amin’s second wife, since she is lonely and shunned by the dictator due to the epilepsy of his son by her. Unfortunately for the parties involved and for the viewer, this will result in particularly gruesome violence as comeuppance dealt by the “wronged” Amin. I haven’t felt this much of empathic pain since A Man Called Horse. Our so-called hero makes it out alive, unfortunately that’s not the case for many Ugandans, during his eight-year regime Amin managed to kill 300000 of them, in rather horrific ways. During the last confrontation between the two leads there’s a very illuminating exchange:
Amin: I am Idi Amin! President-for-life and ruler of Uganda. I am the father of Africa.
Nicholas: You’re a child. You have the mind and ego of an angry, spoiled, uneducated child. And that’s what makes you so fucking scary.
This post is my contribution to the second edition of The Great Villain Blogathon hosted by an amazing trio: Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin and Kristina of Speakeasy. Go and read all the other entries linked on their blogs.
You can find my entry to last year edition here.
Here is the second part of my post dedicated to TV-show titles and their music. This time around the songs are just instrumental, generally written for the show. Once more, these are my favorite opening credits.
1. Mad Men – A Beautiful Mine, RJD2
Stylish and sophisticated as the show.
2. Magic City
The intro song of this show created a controversy since, for season 1, they used an unauthorized version of Henry Mancini’s Lujon, which is beautiful and mixes well the sixties’ atmosphere with Miami settings (watch from 1:03).
To avoid legal battle, they used a song by Daniele Luppi in season 2, which is still intriguing but with more of a Bond flair.
3. Boardwalk Empire – Straight Up And Down, The Brian Jonestown Massacre
A quite smoke on the beach thinking about the business…
4. Southland – Canção do Mar, Dulce Pontes
Fado and seppia images are an effective and inspired choice.
5. Hannibal – theme by Brian Reitzell
This one is a little macabre but also mesmerizing.
6. Six Feet Under – theme by Thomas Newman
A weird mix of otherworldly and morbid.
7. Dexter – theme by Adam Ben Ezra
The morning routine of a serial killer… it says it all!
8. The Killing (US) – We Fell To Earth, Frank Bak
Melancholic and forlorn, like a day in November in the Pacific Northwest.
9. House of Cards – theme by Jeff Beal
Foreboding, perfect intro to the games of the mighty and powerful.
10. Sherlock – theme by David Arnold
Upbeat and bursting of energy like Sherlock on a case.
In this third post of my series on music and motion pictures I’d like to focus on TV-shows titles. However I need to split it in two since, well, there are so many and the quality is outstanding. The following ones are my favorite TV-show intros combined with a song that has vocals.
1. True Detectives – Far From Any Road, The Handsome Family (2003)
The graphics are stunning and the song is the perfect complement.
2. True Blood – Bad Things, Jace Everett (2005)
A promise of good (naughty) things to come with a Louisiana small town flavour.
3. The Wire, Way Down In The Hole, Tom Waits (1987)
I like the fact that a different version is used for each season: The Blind Boys of Alabama (1), Tom Waits (2), The Neville Brothers (3), DoMaJe (4) and Steve Earle (5). It illustrates the main theme of the season while keeping the general mood of the show going.
4. Luther – Paradise Circus, Massive Attack (2010)
Sleek and intriguing, a nice introduction to Luther’s life.
5. Vikings – If I Had A Heart, Fever Ray (2009)
A little foreboding but it sets the right mood for the show.
6. Underbelly – It’s A Jungle Out There, Burkhard Dallwitz (2008)
Catchy and to the point.
7. CSI – Who Are You, The Who (1978)
The song is a good oldie and an apt theme for the show.
This is a feel-good movie written and directed by Jon Favreau, mostly known for directing Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens. It is a comeback story about Carl (Favreau), the titular chef, who loses his job after a bad review from a critic and a melt-down gone viral on internet. Notwithstanding the fact that all the cliches are in it (unappreciated genius, workaholic, divorced with difficult relationship with his son…) the story works well because it has a nice pace, some good humor and the acting is up-to-par. Carl realises, with some help from his ex-wife Inez (Vergara), that he should go back to where he started: making cuban sandwiches on a food truck. The second act of the film is an on the road buddy comedy: Carl is helped by his friend and fellow cook Martin (Leguizamo) and his 10-year-old son Percy (Anthony) on a journey of rediscovery, appreciating the simple pleasures of life and the joy of cooking. On this trip from Florida back to Los Angeles, Carl’s food truck reaches celebrity status thanks to his social media savvy son (a true marketing genius!) and life will smile to him again (obviously). As I said, the film is nothing new but Favreau manages to balance very well the buddy banter, the father/son moments, the self-introspection and the cooking. In addition he has great on-screen chemistry with all the other actors, in particular with Leguizamo and young Anthony, and a knack for making the father/son scenes sweet but not cloyingly so. I should also issue a warning: there’s a fair amount of food porn during the film so I strongly suggest eating before watching otherwise you end up feeling famished when the closing credits start to roll (as I did!). Enjoyable —7/10
The Academy really likes film based on a true story and, this year in particular, the theme of fame and pushing beyond one’s limits. This movie has both, so it’s not a surprise that it was nominated, however it feels distant and detached notwithstanding the quality of the performance of the three leads. Steve Carell (with a fake nose, hideous teeth and dark eyes) is John DuPont: billionaire with a passion for wrestling and severe mommy issues. Channing Tatum is Mark Schultz: Olympic wrestling champion with low self-confidence, always in the shadow of his older brother. Last but not least, Mark Ruffalo is David Schultz: charismatic, well-adjusted and legendary wrestler. All three are impressive and they admirably carry the story and the film on their shoulders but they somewhat fail to engage the viewer. The story of how DuPont created and sponsored the Foxcatcher wrestling team to prepare for the 1988 Olympic games feels like the tantrum of a petty child: bullied in school because he wasn’t good at any sport? Probably. Needing to prove to his overbearing mother that he can be a wrestler? Certainly. The film has an ominous, slow pace that goes well with the unravelling of DuPont’s psyche and, after the first half, the viewer has the feeling that something will go terribly awry. However it is not enough to achieve (cinematic) greatness, isn’t that ironic! Chilly —6.5/10
Sorry to disappoint if you were thinking about Jane Austen and the film. This is my entry to the Five Sense Blogathon, organized by My Filmviews, Karamel Kinema and MovieInsiders. The idea behind it is quite simple and pretty neat: for each of the five senses (Sight, Sound, Taste, Smell and Touch) you describe the film related association you have with it. This can be a particular movie or even a scene, but also something having to do with the movie going experience. So without further ado, here are my five choices:
Sight One might say that it’s the prominent sense when one experiences a film and since the dawn of motion pictures there’s been countless visually stunning films, but 2001: A Space Odyssey holds a special place. Kubrick’s masterpiece is captivating beyond words.
Sound Western is a classic and beloved genre but Sergio Leone changed the game with A Fistful of Dollars and took it to a very different place. He also changed the sound made by a gun, giving it a unique and unforgettable voice.
Taste There are several films/scenes with or about food that come to mind but Babette’s Feast is the one that takes hold and will not let go. The long and precise preparation of each dish, the dedication of the cook and the actual feast are memorable.
Considering this particular sense I have a double entry: a good smell and a bad one. The smell of chocolate is powerful and even overwhelming… Have you ever prepared a Sachertorte? If yes, then you can understand. Naturally Chocolat and its several cooking scenes come to mind. On the opposite side of the spectrum but equally overwhelming is the strong odor of an unwashed human body and Lo Chiamavano Trinita’ (They Call Me Trinity) reeks from start to finish.
Focusing again on great songs/titles combinations, what is more iconic than James Bond’s films? All the songs has been written for the film, usually with the same title, and, especially in the last couple of decades, by famous artists. This is my top five. Honourable mention for: Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney & The Wings), View To A Kill (Duran Duran) and Thunderball (Tom Jones).
1. Goldeneye – Goldeneye, Tina Turner (1995)
Nothing beats Tina’s voice!
2. Casino Royale – You Know My Name, Chris Cornell (2006)
Speaking of voices, I always had a thing for Chris’ and rock just makes it better.
3. Skyfall – Skyfall, Adele (2012)
4. The World Is Not Enough – The World Is Not Enough, Garbage (1999)
The film was kind of crappy but the intro with Shirley Manson & Co. is great.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies – Tomorrow Never Dies, Sheryl Crowe (1997)
Not a big fan of this film either but the song is pretty amazing.
One might be tempted to say: do we really need yet another take on Henry VIII and his desperate need for a male heir? Well, yes. Forget bodice ripping and Henry’s cavorting with all the pretty ladies while the peers of the realm fight for his favour, this is more A Man For All Seasons only in reverse. This time around the hero of the piece is Thomas Cromwell (Rylance) and his cautious and shrewd navigation of the dangerous waters of Henry’s (Lewis) court. The story starts with the fall from grace of Cardinal Wolsey (Pryce), the banishment of Catherine (Whalley) from Henry’s side and the rise to power of Anne (Floy), the Boleyns and the Duke of Norfolk (Hill). The villain is embodied by Thomas More (Lesser), unrelenting and quite fanatic in all matters pertaining religion and the Holy Church. Notwithstanding the fact that Cromwell is Wolsey’s protege, he manages to achieve a position of power and to help Henry solving his Great Matter and finally marry Anna. We all know the fate of the second queen, what is interesting is the characters’ study and the political maneuvering. This mini-series is a six-part adaptation of two of Hilary Mantel’s novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies and it leans more towards the Reform, presenting the Catholic Church and his chief defender and champion, More, in a rather harsh light. It also doesn’t pull punches when it comes to look at family relationships of the rich and powerful with their perpetual scheming and always selfish motives. It’s hard to find a character to root for, even Cromwell comes across mostly as an ambitious man who needs to prove his worth to the world. However he’s not without redeeming qualities and it is exactly these shades of grey that makes the story more captivating. The acting is top-notch, in particular, Mark Rylance gives a very nuanced performance and Lewis brings the right gravitas as Henry. The settings and costumes are a great complement to a slow-burning but engaging tale. Enthralling —8/10