Film Focus

By Adrian Nathaniel Groves

In no particular order, 100 films I’ve enjoyed over and over again!


Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Fresh out of prison, Danny Ocean sets up a dream robbery, roping in ten other experts to help. His object: the vaults of the three biggest Las Vegas casinos. Along with a cool $150 million, he hopes to win back ex-wife Tess, who just happens to be dating a big casino owner…

With neither a badly-pressed suit nor a redundant scene in sight, Ocean’s Eleven is as slick as they come – and that’s a compliment rather than a criticism. Joyfully entertaining and effortlessly re-watchable.

Brick (2005)
Director: Rian Johnson

After receiving a panic-stricken phone call from his terrified ex-girlfriend Emily (de Ravin), high-school loner Brendan (Gordon-Levitt) sets out to infiltrate the illicit cliques she left him for, aided by sidekick Brain (O’Leary) and the mysterious Laura

With a superb lead turn by rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rian Johnson’s debut is a smart, original neo-noir that works as an ingenious mindgame as well as a slick Hollywood calling card.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Director: James Foley

A ruthless boss sets his sales office a challenge with no rules and strange rewards

A searing indictment of all sorts of American dreams, Glengarry Glen Ross is a welcome if foul-mouthed reminder of just what it takes for a lot of folk to make it through the working day.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Director: Sidney Lumet

On a hot day in New York, three men set out to rob a bank. It’s supposed to take ten minutes, but things start going wrong from the beginning when one of them bails at the last minute. Four hours later, the bank is surrounded by police, a media circus, and crowds of well wishers.

Pacino simmers in this daring and brilliantly constructed treatise on the many facets of a crime.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Director: Andrew Dominik

As his gang and legend begin to fragment, train-robber and outlaw Jesse James (Pitt) is a haunted man. He can feel his death approaching, but can he foresee that fringe gang-member Robert Ford (Affleck) will be the man to pull the trigger?

An extraordinary and visionary study of a legendary murderer’s famous fate, within touching distance of Oscars.

Caché (2005)
Director: Michael Haneke

A TV book show host (Auteuil) seems to have the perfect marriage. But cracks appear when he decides to act alone after he and his publisher wife (Binoche) begin receiving videotapes from a stalker who seems to know a great deal about their lives…

Whether viewed as a political allegory or a domestic drama, this is the most accessible film yet from one of Europe’s very finest filmmakers.

Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Noir-ish urban Western which sees Jean-Pierre Melville bond three desperate men in crime.

A classic cornerstone of the heist genre from a master of the nouvelle vague.

Crimes And Misdemeanors(1989)
Director: Woody Allen

In two seperate stories of adultery; a New York doctor resorts to desperate measures to cover up his long-term adulterous affair. An unhappily married documentary filmmaker fights an adulterous temptation while making his latest movie on a TV producer.

The little man again proves to be an absolute master at the craft of injecting sufficient wit, intelligence and compassion to make the end product a marvellously entertaining and provocative piece of work.

Dazed And Confused (1993)
Director: Richard Linklater

t’s the last day of the school year in 1976, and everyone’s ready for a party. First, however, the incoming freshmen students must go through bizarre initiation rituals organised by the soon-to-be-seniors, while everyone does their best to get stoned or get laid.

Despite some gags which use the benefit of hindsight too much for their own good, this is a smart piece of filmmaking which suggests Linklater is already one of the more formidable talents of the 90s.

Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Director: Edgar Wright

Shaun, a North London loser, is a disappointment to his girlfriend, family, friends and flatmate. Only his mate Ed, an even bigger loser, looks up to him. Then flesh-eating zombies overrun the city and Shaun is forced to take responsibility for the survival of his corner of humanity…

A surprisingly good TV transfer for the Spaced crew. It may not exactly be Ealing, but it’s funny for long stretches. Even when in danger of self-destructing, it cadges laughs with smart lines, silly observations or blokish inside jokes about zombie movies, video games and pub nibbles.

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Ain’t What It Used To Be

By Adrian Nathaniel Groves

I’ll never understand the compulsion to pay for a barrel of movie popcorn that does nothing for you nutritionally, less for you financially and socially… well if you’re sitting next to me chewing your cud, rest assured I want to pop you one.

A Little Background

Cinema’s holy trinity has and forever will be; the movie, the popcorn and the obscenely sized fountain drink. But it hasn’t always been this way, in fact at first theater owners hated popcorn. It made a mess and distracted audiences from the movie. Originally sold by street vendors, pushing their popcorn carts around and selling to people walking down the sidewalks. Movie theaters were attractive places for these street vendors because they could count on crowds of people at regular intervals. Proprietors saw these street vendors as a nuisance until they began to realize the profit in popcorn. In 1925 Charles Manley went about selling the first popcorn machine to theatres who sold the buttery treat for a nickel a bag. Just like box office sales in the Great Depression, popcorn profits exploded at one time becoming more profitable than the movies themselves. With the proliferation of home video and microwave ovens popcorn found its way into our homes as well. Now there could never be one without the other.

Why I Hate It.

It’s all in the smell. That thick, suffocating, stale smell. The sounds. The shuffling of hands being driven into the bowl. The pitter patter of kernels hitting the floor as you raise that greasy, nutritional nightmare into your mouths and the crunch. That godawful crunch that reverberates all the way to the back of the building. I’m a purist, yes. A total snob when it comes to movies. I’m a card carrying cinema elitist. I don’t talk, I don’t even get up to go to the bathroom. I came to watch a movie, to have a story told to me and out of respect to the story tellers I sit, watch and listen. But it’s impossible nowadays. There’s some complete douche who can’t not kick your chair. There’s at least one person every fives minutes checking their cell phones. And everywhere you turn there’s someone eating popcorn like a hillbilly. But that’s everywhere isn’t it. Manners and decency have taken a tremendous hit. The little things we used to call social conventions are non existent. Just like most of the movies we’re given today the popcorn is subterfuge, empty calories masquerading as food, as anything worthwhile.

In A Perfect World.

I’d love a blanket ban on crunchy treats. I’m not saying no food, I’m saying appropriate food. You can’t munch popcorn at the opera or even at legit theatre so why have cinemas become a gluttony food court? I’ve sat through festivals and there’s nothing wrong with a little snack after marathoning through a triple feature. In a perfect world we could all just sit quietly without fidgeting, or stuffing garbage down our throats just to have something to do. We could all enjoy the experience as a group, the way it was meant to.