A-Z Challenge: Day 26


So, the final day, and ‘Z’. Look out for not only my extra post, Day 27, but also my blogging challenge conclusion, which follows that.

‘Z’ is a little lacking for titles. I will leave out the Costa-Gravas film, ‘Z’, as too obvious, and go with my own few picks for this letter. I will also be omitting the terrible, ‘Zardoz’, not one of Connery’s finest hours. Feel free to mention it, if you like it.

Just a few then, and a pretty obvious top pick, if you have worked out my taste so far.

I could never have left out ‘Zulu’ (1964). This famous epic not only launched the career of Michael Caine, it covered one of the great moments in British colonial history so well. A small detachment of defenders must hold the mission station at Rourke’s Drift against the attacks of almost 3,000 Zulu warriors, in 1879…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day 25


I had a top pick in mind for ‘Y’. Some readers have already guessed it, and others might well suspect what it might be. You will be pleased to know that you are right, and it will be the one you thought.

On the way there, I had some real problems with this letter. I could only scrape up three more to feature, and they are mostly well-known. Well maybe not this first one…
‘Yol’ (1982) is a film made in Turkey by Yilmaz Guney. Amazingly, he was in prison when the film was made using his instructions, and unable to edit it for showing until he escaped to Paris. Because of his opposition to the government, Guney’s film was banned in his home country for many years. This powerful and often touching film follows the travels of a group of prisoners They are allowed out of prison on leave…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day 23


‘W’ is a real treasure trove of great titles. My original list was up to more than forty, when I decided to once again to stick with mostly little-known titles, and to leave it wide open for your comments. My top pick is quite famous, but I had already decided to go with it.

I will start with two well known epics that have always worked for me. Sergei Bondarchuk is involved with both, and the Russian director knew his stuff. ‘War and Peace’ (1966) is a detailed adaptation of the Tolstoy novel, lovingly recreated in over seven hours of film. It is so long, it was originally shown in instalments. You can still get the multi-disc original on DVD. It is magnificent.
In 1970, the same director brought his skill to the film ‘Waterloo’. With Rod Steiger as Napoleon, and Christopher Plummer as the perfect Wellington, this wonderfully accurate…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day 22


I was looking forward to ‘V’, as I had a top pick chosen well in advance. Quite a lot to choose from here, so there should be plenty left for you to comment on.

David Cronenberg has made some very unusual films in his career. They can be visually challenging, and often contain a message about society too. James Woods is a competent actor who has also played some controversial roles, and is known for giving 100% to every part he plays, however small. Put these two together, and you get the fascinating ‘Videodrome’ (1983). This is a comment on modern television, and the potential excesses it can sink to. Add some stunning ‘body horror’ effects, and you are left with a unique and unforgettable film, in an uncertain genre. And Debby Harry is in it too!

Vampire horror is a subject that film makers keep returning to. There have…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day 21


Phew! ‘U’ is really hard. I had my top choice in mind, and ended up sticking with it. But there’s not much to leave for you, except a couple of obvious ones. Good luck with ‘U’!

I don’t laugh at many American comedians in films, no secret there. Adam Sandler leaves me cold, and though I might occasionally grin at Ben Stiller, that’s a stretch too. I have never watched ‘The Hangover’ films, and failed to raise a chuckle at anything involving Owen Wilson. Even ‘Dumb and Dumber’ left me checking the weather reports, for something more interesting. And don’t get me started on the legion of ‘buddy’ comedies. OK, I did laugh at ‘Bridesmaids’ (2011). A little bit.
One American comedian who always made me laugh was John Candy. Something about his smile, maybe his huge bulk, but he got to me every time. So, my first choice today…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day Twenty


Even leaving off ‘The’, there is still a large number of films beginning with ‘T’. My top choice was once again exactly what you might expect from me, and I make no apologies for that. As usual, I have tried to leave out the better known films, including that one about a New York cab driver. I will concentrate on the more unusual ones, and leave the field wide open for comments.

Starting with a film I rarely see discussed. Eric Bogosian is the epitome of the fast-talking opinionated character seen in many American films. He was never better than as the obnoxious radio talk-show host Barry Champlain, in Oliver Stone’s film ‘Talk Radio’ (1988). Bogosian is just incredible as the outspoken radio presenter who specialises in putting down the callers, and cutting them dead with sarcasm and rudeness. Events take a dark turn when he upsets someone too much…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day Nineteen


If I thought that ‘R’ was hard, ‘S’ was almost impossible. So many I wanted to include, I had an A4 page for a shortlist. It gave me a real headache, and a late night too. Just trying to reduce the number down to a normal size post had me biting my nails over what I had to leave out. But I had to make some tough calls, and left out all the obvious ones that screamed in my head to be allowed on. Once again, I have settled for some obscure choices, and left you all to run riot with the rest.

Ricardo Darin again, and the wonderful Argentinian thriller, ‘The Secret In Their Eyes’. (2009) Oscar-winning excellence all round, in this film that spans a period of twenty five years, as a judge and his colleague investigate a rape and murder that becomes the focal point of their…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day Eighteen


So many films begin with ‘R’ that I could easily have written three posts on this one letter. This will leave you a lot of scope, as I am determined to leave out the films from Tarantino, Scorsese, and many others who have chosen ‘R’ titles. In fact, I will limit my choices to only World Cinema films this time. So, no mention of ‘Ride With The Devil’, ‘Right At Your Door’, ‘Ronin’, or many other favourites. (Oops…)
My top choice was always going to be a Japanese film anyway, so here are some more foreign language choices to lead you up to it.

Two Chinese films to start with. Both historical dramas, and equally ravishing to behold. They are also both directed by Zhang Yimou, and star the same female lead actress, the wonderful Gong Li. ‘Red Sorghum’ (1987) was the film that introduced us to both director and…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day Sixteen


I am really cheered by how so many of you have continued to engage with this challenge, and to add your thoughts and suggestions every day, without fail. It has been genuinely appreciated, as have the numerous re-blogs, re-tweets and other mentions.

We have arrived at the letter ‘P’. What do you think? Lots of choices? There are a great deal, I assure you. And there are three of my all-time favourites, so at least I am happy. I am generously leaving you the obvious titles to explore, and once again concentrating on some that are lesser-known.

In 1960, Michael Powell made what is still perhaps one of the least-known but most effective early psychological horror films, with ‘Peeping Tom’. This British thriller is set in the seedy world of glamour photography, and features Carl Boehm as an aspiring film-maker, earning money to finance his projects by taking photos of…

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A-Z Film Challenge: Day Fifteen


Up to the letter ‘O’. It’s another challenging one, though my top choice was already made. I am interested to see what you think of these ‘O’ films, and to read your own selections. I think I have left out enough obvious ones for some of you to mention.

I rarely mention comedy films on this blog. However, I am a lifelong fan of the madcap comedy of the British star, Will Hay. He made a series of films with an ensemble cast, with his most successful period during the 1930s. Accompanied by the grizzled figure of Moore Marriott, and the overgrown schoolboy character always portrayed by Graham Moffatt, he produced a series of hilarious films looking at aspects of British life at the time. ‘Oh Mr Porter’ (1937) remains as one of my enduring favourites, and is also a fascinating glimpse at a railway industry that has long disappeared…

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