Most popular posts of 2010

4 01 2011


… And if you’re still game for pointless lists, here are the 5 posts that proved most popular on this ‘blog with you, the readers, in 2010:

'Paranormal Activity'


Location, Location, One Location December 2009

Luis Buñuel

Buñuel on set


The Luis Buñuel Film School February 2010
1 comment

Christoph Waltz in 'Inglourious Basterds'


Mind Your Language September 2009

Mad Men

Draper thinks about smoking a fag


At The Movies with Don Draper March 2010
1 Like on,

Bad Santa? Michael Haneke


Happy Haneke November 2009


At The Movies with Don Draper

21 03 2010
Mad Men, John Hamm, Don Draper, Matthew Weiner

Draper thinks about having a fag

Warning: the following article contains spoilers, and makes gratuitous use of the term ‘boffing’ as a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

One of the many pleasures to be found in Mad Men, the slow-burning, smoke-filled US television drama currently airing on BBC4, surely lies in spotting the countless cinematic references with which almost every episode is filled. Indeed, as the third series of the Sixties-set show continues to unfold on British screens, it’s becoming increasingly apparent just how much of a role movies from the period have in shaping creator Matthew Weiner’s vision.

For a start there’s the way that Mad Men looks. Like many films from the Fifties and early Sixties the show is, by and large, studio-bound. Don Draper, Peggy Olsen et al spend most of their time in the kinds of New York offices, apartments and bars that, with a few subtle modifications, are familiar to us already from films like The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Girl Can’t Help It. And then there’s the way that Mad Men is shot: no hand-held malarkey here, just the kind of smooth, conventional compositions and strong, vibrant colours that one would find in any mainstream Hollywood movie from the period.

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HBO versus Apichatpong Weerasethakul

19 11 2009

'Syndromes and a Century'

It’s ten years now since Tony Soprano first waddled onto small screens around the world. In the decade since we’ve seen something of a revolution in the way that television shows are made and watched, with programmes like The Wire, Mad Men and Six Feet Under representing a new, smarter kind of television drama. Here in the UK, DVD box sets of HBO shows are phenomenally popular, in a way that could barely have been imagined fifteen years ago.

The HBO revolution is generally seen as having been a good thing for television, encouraging good writing, experimentation and ‘dumbing-up’ in what can be a pretty dumbed-down medium.

What’s less often explored is the impact that HBO has had on cinema. On the face of it, things don’t look good. There’s a widespread feeling among people of my generation that the cable channel has beaten cinema at its own game. Having stolen cinema’s clothes by incorporating cinematic techniques into small-screen storytelling, it has proceeded to create narratives of a length and complexity that cinema simply can’t rival. Most films have two or, at a push, three hours to tell a story. HBO dramas have at least ten, spread out across a season. You only have to dip into Mad Men to see how much pleasure its writers take in delaying, deferring and waylaying the kind of narrative developments that in a two hour film would have to come thick and fast every ten minutes. 

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