Mr. Craig's Film Diary

a very important document of my viewing habits

Jack Goes BoatingDirected by Philip Seymour HoffmanScreenplay by Robert Glaudini (based on his own play)USA, 2010
Watched on 20th July 2014First viewing

Jack Goes Boating was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s first (and, sadly, only) film as director. Hoffman also stars as the eponymous Jack, a lonely limo driver whose friends set him up on a blind date. While he and Connie (Amy Ryan) are taking their first tentative steps into a relationship, the friends who introduced them (John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega) are reaching the end of their own relationship.
It’s hardly a unique story, but Hoffman’s sensitive direction and the four lead actors’ performances make it touching and compelling. It’s a sore reminder of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talent, and the tragedy of his loss.

Jack Goes Boating
Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman
Screenplay by Robert Glaudini (based on his own play)
USA, 2010

Watched on 20th July 2014
First viewing

Jack Goes Boating was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s first (and, sadly, only) film as director. Hoffman also stars as the eponymous Jack, a lonely limo driver whose friends set him up on a blind date. While he and Connie (Amy Ryan) are taking their first tentative steps into a relationship, the friends who introduced them (John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega) are reaching the end of their own relationship.

It’s hardly a unique story, but Hoffman’s sensitive direction and the four lead actors’ performances make it touching and compelling. It’s a sore reminder of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talent, and the tragedy of his loss.


The Station AgentWritten and directed by Thomas McCarthyUSA, 2003
Watched on 28th June 2014First viewing

I truly loved The Station Agent. I wish there were more films like it. How many films are there with a disabled central character, played by an appropriately disabled actor (the wonderful Peter Dinklage), avoiding the patronisingly “inspirational” overcoming-the-odds narrative. Finn’s achondroplastic dwarfism informs his character and the way strangers react to him — with intrigue, ridicule or pity, each one infuriating in its own way — but this is not a message film. It’s about the unlikely, sometimes strained friendships between disparate lonely people, one of whom happens to be disabled. It’s funny, melancholy, observed beautifully, and acted brilliantly by Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Cannavale.

The Station Agent
Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy
USA, 2003

Watched on 28th June 2014
First viewing

I truly loved The Station Agent. I wish there were more films like it. How many films are there with a disabled central character, played by an appropriately disabled actor (the wonderful Peter Dinklage), avoiding the patronisingly “inspirational” overcoming-the-odds narrative. Finn’s achondroplastic dwarfism informs his character and the way strangers react to him — with intrigue, ridicule or pity, each one infuriating in its own way — but this is not a message film. It’s about the unlikely, sometimes strained friendships between disparate lonely people, one of whom happens to be disabled. It’s funny, melancholy, observed beautifully, and acted brilliantly by Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Cannavale.


This Sporting LifeDirected by Lindsay AndersonScreenplay by David Storey (based on his own novel)UK, 1963
Watched on 27th June 2014First viewing

I’m afraid this film left me rather cold. I can see that it’s well made, well acted and all that… but it just didn’t do it for me. Oh well.

This Sporting Life
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Screenplay by David Storey (based on his own novel)
UK, 1963

Watched on 27th June 2014
First viewing

I’m afraid this film left me rather cold. I can see that it’s well made, well acted and all that… but it just didn’t do it for me. Oh well.


Tron: LegacyDirected by Joseph KosinskiScreenplay by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (based on characters by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird)USA, 2010
Watched on 22nd June 2014First viewing

Having recently revisited the original Tron — a childhood favourite — I thought I’d finally give the sequel a try. It’s a slick CGI affair which shows just how far computer animation has come in the intervening 28 years, but it lacks some of the charm of the original. (Possibly just because I have fond childhood memories of Tron, and I’m seeing this through my jaded adult eyes.)
Also, the technology used to make Jeff Bridges (as evil computer program CLU) appear 28 years younger gives him the eerie doll-like appearance of a Polar Express character. This is especially noticeable when CLU is face-to-face with Bridges’ appropriately-aged human character, Kevin Flynn. Perhaps the difference would be less distracting if all the computer program characters were similarly CGI animated, but CLU is alone in his creepy dead-eyed appearance, with the exception of a brief cameo by Bruce Boxleitner as the eponymous Tron.
Michael Sheen’s Bowie-esque performance as a flamboyant nightclub owner is fun though. (Wait, computers have nightclubs? Computers have nights? Don’t overthink it…)

Tron: Legacy
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Screenplay by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (based on characters by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird)
USA, 2010

Watched on 22nd June 2014
First viewing

Having recently revisited the original Tron — a childhood favourite — I thought I’d finally give the sequel a try. It’s a slick CGI affair which shows just how far computer animation has come in the intervening 28 years, but it lacks some of the charm of the original. (Possibly just because I have fond childhood memories of Tron, and I’m seeing this through my jaded adult eyes.)

Also, the technology used to make Jeff Bridges (as evil computer program CLU) appear 28 years younger gives him the eerie doll-like appearance of a Polar Express character. This is especially noticeable when CLU is face-to-face with Bridges’ appropriately-aged human character, Kevin Flynn. Perhaps the difference would be less distracting if all the computer program characters were similarly CGI animated, but CLU is alone in his creepy dead-eyed appearance, with the exception of a brief cameo by Bruce Boxleitner as the eponymous Tron.

Michael Sheen’s Bowie-esque performance as a flamboyant nightclub owner is fun though. (Wait, computers have nightclubs? Computers have nights? Don’t overthink it…)


The GeneralDirected by Clyde Bruckman and Buster KeatonWritten by Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman and Buster KeatonUSA, 1926
Watched (at Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford) on 20th June 2014With live musical accompaniment by Ric Elsworth (percussion) and Peter Foggitt (piano)

Tonight was a truly special cinematic experience. I’ve been a Buster Keaton fan since I first saw The General on DVD six or seven years ago. Since then I’ve seen nearly all his silent films in numerous editions, but this was my first time seeing the Great Stone Face on the big screen - with live music, no less!
Live music brings the film alive for the audience. There were ooh’s and ahh’s aplenty as Buster Keaton performed death-defying feats for the camera, accompanied by cascading piano, rumbling of tom-toms, the shocking crack of a snare, clashing cymbals…
One scene (in which Buster uses one railway sleeper to knock another off the tracks) even elicited a ripple of applause. It makes me a little emotional to think that a stunt from nearly 90 years ago made a group of people in Oxford clap tonight. Bravo, Buster!

The General
Directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton
Written by Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton
USA, 1926

Watched (at Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford) on 20th June 2014
With live musical accompaniment by Ric Elsworth (percussion) and Peter Foggitt (piano)

Tonight was a truly special cinematic experience. I’ve been a Buster Keaton fan since I first saw The General on DVD six or seven years ago. Since then I’ve seen nearly all his silent films in numerous editions, but this was my first time seeing the Great Stone Face on the big screen - with live music, no less!

Live music brings the film alive for the audience. There were ooh’s and ahh’s aplenty as Buster Keaton performed death-defying feats for the camera, accompanied by cascading piano, rumbling of tom-toms, the shocking crack of a snare, clashing cymbals…

One scene (in which Buster uses one railway sleeper to knock another off the tracks) even elicited a ripple of applause. It makes me a little emotional to think that a stunt from nearly 90 years ago made a group of people in Oxford clap tonight. Bravo, Buster!


Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)Written by Hayao Miyazaki (based on his own graphic novel, in turn based on a novel by Tatsuo Hori)Directed by Hayao MiyazakiJapan, 2013Watched (at Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford) on 18th June 2014First viewing

Shut up, I’m not crying, you’re crying, piss off I’m fine.
The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki’s final film before retirement, and it’s a fitting swansong. It’s the fictionalised story of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, whose aircraft were used by Japan in the Second World War. Although the film pays heed to the aeroplane’s role in the war, the main focus is on Jiro’s innovations in engineering, the beauty of flight, and his (fictionalised) personal life. Jiro’s relationship with his ailing wife Naoko is tenderly told, bittersweet and utterly heartbreaking. And, being a Miyazaki film, the animation is of course stunning. I loved every frame of it.

Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)
Written by Hayao Miyazaki (based on his own graphic novel, in turn based on a novel by Tatsuo Hori)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Japan, 2013
Watched (at Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford) on 18th June 2014
First viewing

Shut up, I’m not crying, you’re crying, piss off I’m fine.

The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki’s final film before retirement, and it’s a fitting swansong. It’s the fictionalised story of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, whose aircraft were used by Japan in the Second World War. Although the film pays heed to the aeroplane’s role in the war, the main focus is on Jiro’s innovations in engineering, the beauty of flight, and his (fictionalised) personal life. Jiro’s relationship with his ailing wife Naoko is tenderly told, bittersweet and utterly heartbreaking. And, being a Miyazaki film, the animation is of course stunning. I loved every frame of it.


Cuban FuryDirected by James GriffithsScreenplay by Jon Brown (based on an original idea by Nick Frost)UK, 2014
Watched on 10th June 2014First viewing

Cuban Fury is exactly the kind of underdog dance-based rom-com you would expect from Nick Frost. Nick Frost plays Bruce, an underachieving office worker who abandoned his childhood passion for salsa dancing after being bullied. When he discovers that his attractive new boss is a salsa dancer, his passion for Latin rhythm is reignited.
It has a decent cast, including Rashida Jones as the object of Frost’s affections, Chris O’Dowd as his obnoxious (extremely obnoxious) colleague / love rival, Olivia Colman as his cocktail-waitress sister / former dance partner, and Ian McShane as his hoary mentor. You can imagine exactly the kind of film such a plot and cast would produce, right? Well you’re not wrong.

Cuban Fury
Directed by James Griffiths
Screenplay by Jon Brown (based on an original idea by Nick Frost)
UK, 2014

Watched on 10th June 2014
First viewing

Cuban Fury is exactly the kind of underdog dance-based rom-com you would expect from Nick Frost. Nick Frost plays Bruce, an underachieving office worker who abandoned his childhood passion for salsa dancing after being bullied. When he discovers that his attractive new boss is a salsa dancer, his passion for Latin rhythm is reignited.

It has a decent cast, including Rashida Jones as the object of Frost’s affections, Chris O’Dowd as his obnoxious (extremely obnoxious) colleague / love rival, Olivia Colman as his cocktail-waitress sister / former dance partner, and Ian McShane as his hoary mentor. You can imagine exactly the kind of film such a plot and cast would produce, right? Well you’re not wrong.


The Long Good FridayDirected by John MackenzieScreenplay by Barrie KeeffeUK, 1980
Watched on 9th June 2014First viewing

I didn’t like this film as much as I’d hoped. Bob Hoskins gave a fantastic performance and there were some shockingly brutal scenes, but perhaps I’m too disconnected from the time and place to appreciate the full impact of the story.
Also, I couldn’t stand the soundtrack by Francis Monkman. (Interesting to note the similarity between this motif and the 11th Doctor’s theme by Murray Gold…)

The Long Good Friday
Directed by John Mackenzie
Screenplay by Barrie Keeffe
UK, 1980

Watched on 9th June 2014
First viewing

I didn’t like this film as much as I’d hoped. Bob Hoskins gave a fantastic performance and there were some shockingly brutal scenes, but perhaps I’m too disconnected from the time and place to appreciate the full impact of the story.

Also, I couldn’t stand the soundtrack by Francis Monkman. (Interesting to note the similarity between this motif and the 11th Doctor’s theme by Murray Gold…)


TronDirected by Steven LisbergerScreenplay by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBirdUSA, 1982
Watched on 8th June 2014Lost counts of viewings (first since childhood)

Tron was one of my favourite films as a child. I had a VHS copy recorded off TV, carefully paused to cut out the ad breaks. I watched it so much that, despite not being able to remember (or probably understand) most of the plot, when I watched my shiny new blu-ray copy last night, practically every image was so familiar to me. It may not be the best, most coherent story, but the imagery (and the soundtrack by Wendy Carlos) remains bold and unique, and for that I love it.

Tron
Directed by Steven Lisberger
Screenplay by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird
USA, 1982

Watched on 8th June 2014
Lost counts of viewings (first since childhood)

Tron was one of my favourite films as a child. I had a VHS copy recorded off TV, carefully paused to cut out the ad breaks. I watched it so much that, despite not being able to remember (or probably understand) most of the plot, when I watched my shiny new blu-ray copy last night, practically every image was so familiar to me. It may not be the best, most coherent story, but the imagery (and the soundtrack by Wendy Carlos) remains bold and unique, and for that I love it.

I didn’t update this blog for the whole of May, due to exhaustion and a general malaise. The films I neglected to write up were:

  • Double Indemnity (6th May — cinema)
  • The Avengers (9th May)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (10th May)
  • Brazil (17th May)
  • Iron Man (18th May — first viewing)
  • Princess Mononoke (20th May)
  • Mortified Nation (22nd May — first viewing, highly recommended)
  • Thor: The Dark World (23rd May — first viewing)
  • Iron Man 2 (25th May — first viewing)
  • Yoyo (29th May)

So now we’re up to date…