Movies of that last decade 2010–20

  1. Get Out — I never read film review or watch trailers. But I’ll glance at the rating to get an idea. I want an immersive story. Get Out has it all; it’s funny, its social commentary is revealing and the twists are unseen. You walk out smiling with amazement.
  2. The Social Network — a brilliant character study of a smart coward which he continues to be.
  3. Departures — while this Japanese movie is from 2008, I saw it in 2011/12 and it elucidates a confused area in Japan. Ancestors are revered there with little shrines on the mantelpiece, but those who deal with death, undertakers and morticians, are considered to be practising a dark art. Their actions are respected, but not envied. Undertakers are part of the burakumin in Japan, an underclass that is still discriminated against. Working as one is considered unclean. The movie which is hilarious, wondrous and sad in equal measure, is a must watch if you want to understand Japan beyond Hello Kitty.
  4. The Act of Killing — an award winning documentary about the pogroms in Indonesia in the mid 1960s’. Like Departures, the silences tell you more about Indonesia than is possible from the brusque and delusional interviews with the perpetrators. It’s dark history but fascinating to watch telling you much about the complex Indonesia.


What We Do In The Shadows – ridiculous NZ comedy. Its documentary style and pretty funny.

I Give It a Year – British romcom with a lot of stupidity and plenty of very funny crude moments.

Hector and the Pursuit of Happiness – decent start, common concept, Simon Pegg playing his usual role, easy ending. Seemed very edited and therefore confused. Some nice, if simplistic set pieces and scenery from Tibet, and French generalising about Africa.

Dom Hemingway – Jude Law again. Probably made as a favour for a friend, Jude acts out in the typical UK crime comedy feature rough jokes, ridiculous set pieces, tough acts, Richard E Grant and a bunch of other stereotypes. Its thankful short but it’s also not bad entertainment for that short time.

Spy – now this is very funny. Melissa McCarthy is brilliant. The lanky English woman is herself, annoying.

Get Hard – disappointing with a few genuinely big laughs.

Ex-Machina – not quite as clever as it should be but then it is Alex Garland so you cant expect much.

Ant-Man – This is pretty godo to be honest. Of course its stupid but its meant to be. Its a superhero movie.

Jurassic World – predictable watchable nonsense.

Mission Impossible Something Somewhere. – Tom does it again but having watched the Scientology documentary with him, his conviction in himself is madness.

Trainwreck – disappointing even though its pretty good. It falls for the lame endings and is more romantic comedy than comedy. Boo

Ted 2 – far. Some laughs but seen it before in Family Guy. Seth needs a new idea.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – my fucking god. Madness. Must see.

Films Seen Over the Last Few Months

Black Sea – Jude Law is rather annoying in general but here he is pretty impressive in a tight, taunt thriller set on a submarine. Its very good. 4/5

Horns – Daniel Radcliffe number with way too many ideas and runs through them too fast. Its stupid of course but tries to be a horror, romantic comedy and ends up being reasonable at all of them with properly pulling it off. 3.5/5

Interstellar – While the first hour on Earth is logical to the final part, we all turned up for the last two parts so the first act was a drag. McCon’s drawl really gets on your nerves too. However despite its absurd science near the end, the over-the-top music and the clear emotional facefarts, its entertaining for a 3 hour movie. 3.5/5

Guardians of the Galaxy –  entertaining but nonsense. 4/5

The Imitation Game – its always odd to see someone you went to school with ‘acting’. To me Matt Goode was simply being the guy I remembered even down to the arrogance. Typecast or perfectly cast I don’t know but the film itself was a beautiful study of a man obsessed by numbers. 4/5

20,000 Days on Earth – Nick Cave documentary as interesting as the man in question. More of a film than a documentary, uniquely done. 4/5

I am Ali – Nice archive and personal footage. Doesn’t tell you much if you know Ali but still a nice reminder of the great man. 4/5

The Maze Runner – another kids book series written and sent to the big screen immediately (or are they written for the big screen essentially??). Predictable and fairly stupid but decent. 2.5/5

Sex Ed – with a fat Haley Joel Osmond – This is good. Predictable in its storyline but with some nice conversational tangents and good acting from Haley who looks remarkable as a tubber. 3.5/5

The Babadook –  old fashioned horror. Simple and well-crafted. The kid in it is excellent. 4/5

Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Wener Herzog films for the first time the caves painting in South France dating back 30,00 years. Slow but fascinating. 3/5

Tusk – Kevin Smith weirdness. Weird. 2/5

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films – These are the two Israeli guys who made a shit load of shit average to terrible films in the 1970s and 1980s. Think weird, wonderful and chuck norris. Pretty entertaining documentary. 3/5

The Trip to Italy – very funny semi-documentary film of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon going to Italy to make a documentary. These guys are great impressionists. Makes for some very funny conversations. 4/5

Horrible Bosses 2 – Its a lot of better than some reviews. Most of the criticism is based on it not really about horrible bosses any more. Well I haven’t seen the first one so who the fuck cares. Consistently silly rather than hilarious. 3/5

Dumb and Dumber To – awful 1/5 and that makes me sad

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – an intelligent spin on an old tale, one we’ve maybe seen too much of. Well made and predictable.

Predestination – Aussie movie with Ethan Hawke isn’t much more than a cameo. Time travel and such malarky. 3/5

Boyhood – its a good study and very watchable but I am not fully convinced by the acting. 4/5

Nightcrawler – Great performances, narrative and production. It sticks with you for days. 5/5


birdmanposterBirdman – its mesmerizing. You sit there watching these long scenes acted out, music playing in the interludes and some fantastic acting. 5/5

Argo gets the Oscar?

_66052330_affleck_gettySo Argo wins the Oscar for Best Film. I’m not denying it’s a well-crafted movie with good attention to periodic detail and an interesting, gripping story but there seems a slight misconception at hand. Part of the fascination with Argo (and the plaudits that went with it) revolves around the retelling of a tense and inventive escape from a revolutionary Iran finally throwing the shackles of Western interference and a despotic monarch.

Yet Argo is so loose with the truth it should be classified as fiction. Almost all the moments of tension and fear (the trip to the market, the woman at the gate, the inability to go outside, the conversations in the embassy and the chase at the end) are completely made up. The directorial ability to recreate events here is total bullshit and I’d question the accolades it gets. He should get a Michael Mann award!

Seriously though its a very well-made film and it only has to be better than its competitors and generally I’d say it is only a film. But a film that plays so loosely with the term ‘based on a true story’ is ingeniousness. The praise concerns its recreation of past events. That is conceptually true but factually redundant.

Films seen recently

Silver Linings Playbook

It’s 3am and I’ve just finished watching. I’m wide awake and happy I stayed up to watch this (though she might not be!). Bradley Cooper plays against type, moving away from the smarmy smile to play a mentally-ill man trying to get his life together. He meets Jennifer Lawrence’s and a slow dysfunctional friendship develops. The movie is edgey and intense. Two broken people trying to get it together. The happy ending seems to forget the illness for a bit but a bi-polar friend told me there are no happy endings, just got to be prepared for bumps on the road.  The pace for a serious subject is right. The ideas and ending can be justified. And Jennifer Lawrence is really very good in this. 9/10

Warm Bodies

With a few twists on the zombie genre, this reverse post-zombie apocalypse tells us that love can save zombies. After eating their victim’s brains, the zombies gain their deceased’s memories, regain their heartbeat and slowly return to life. Its cute, sometimes funny and closes with The National. I’m gonna like that. 7/10

The Taste of Others

A French class comedy on cultural indicators, full of humiliations, snobbery and regrets as a businessman seeks to broaden his understanding of the ‘high’ culture of literature, plays and art. Its a modest piece, full of spot-on moments. 7/10

Cloud Atlas

I took my friend’s recommendation on this film, turned it on at 2am and finished it at 5am. At that moment, wide awake, I thought about watching it again. Its a grand opera where its strengths of imagination and technique out-weigh the slower moments, mostly because the film is adapted from a broad book. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant take on numerous roles across time and dimensions, all having that nagging feeling they’ve met each other before. Its not perfect but it make you sit back in wonder. 9/10

The Namesake

A tale of marriage and migration from India to the US as a newly-married wife struggles to ‘fit in’ and raises her children in big city America. Its intelligently written and acted with some quiet moments of reflection on migration and how much we can adapt to a different culture. 6/10

The Last Stand

Arnie’s comeback film confirms many assumptions. Arnie could never really act and yes he is looking very old these days. But I’d say this is a brave film for him to take on. He actually tries to act and does better than he did years ago. The story line of a small-town sheriff trying to stop a drug lord fleeing to Mexico is simple but its done fairly well, there are plenty of jokes thrown in there which are real jokes rather than puns. Its not a classic but those days are over now for Arnie. His old strengths have left him but this slightly bizarre, whimsical action thriller has more depth than your average Jason Statham crap and Arnie plays a truly sympathetic small town hero. 6/10

Hannah and Gretel Get Baked

Ludicrous, dead-pan and sometimes funny, I don’t know if you need to be stoned to watch but it would help. Apart the gore, the cartoon slaughter and the stereotypes are munched on by the wicked witch with a tongue firmly lodged. 5/10


The biography of Abraham Lincoln looks great with its authentic reproduction of the US Civil War era and its well-acted. However its so earnest to be near unwatchable in one sitting. It doesn’t drag; its simply so dense and historical focused on the man himself to be overwhelming and underwhleming at the same time. 5/10

Les Miserables

I’ve never seen the musical or read the book but this film rendition is grandiose and moving. The numbers sung with varying ability by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway hold the attention. Hathaway is especially good. The detail of the direction really makes what is likely to be an impossible task (to please all) work. 7/10

Zero Dark Thirty

This is great film-making. The opening 30 minutes focusing on the use of torture is intense and feels unnecessary. The slow and meticulous hunt for Osama Bin Laden is incredibly well-done, highlighting the difficulties of espionage in tribal areas when you have no access to modern methods and require a return to methods often left behind; having men on the ground. The slow, methodical closing scenes are brilliant realised. 8/10

Django Unchained

Tarantino is back killing horses and dozens of people, with his usual conversational techniques, the macarbe jokes, outlandishly bad and detailed villians and some first-class set-pieces. Its all here and all very well-executed (pun intended). I actually found myself impressed by all the characters and hence actors. Even Jaime Foxx. 9/10


This short film is odd. It’s the story of Hitchcock and his wife during the making of Psycho. I’ve heard the blurb why Hitchcock’s wife was deemed vital by the screenwriter but as half the plot, it really takes away from the more interesting elements of Hitchcock’s life. The making of the Psycho is now in the background when Hitchcock and his obsessions should have been ‘the film’ rather than simply part of it.  The rest of the film seems a distraction. Possibly this may lead to a critical portrait of the man but focusing on this would be far more enthralling. Hopkins is good in a slight caricature role as is Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh. 5/10

Dan’s Awards 2012

DSCF7883Person of the Year

Gabriel Almonacid for being a great mate in Colombia providing me with a bed, a guide in Bogota and the ‘nearby’ old towns and staying with his great family in Armenia. I even heard he and Claudia tried to call me the other night!

Comeback of the Year

Christine Leclerc. After living together for a year many years ago, I can say I have missed that big laugh and smiley face a lot.

DSCF1214Newcomer of the Year

Jan Thomas Ødegaard, the slightly eccentric Norwegian gets the nod.

My Christ Its Been a Long Time

Bobbi Coombs met me at the airport in Winnipeg after not seeing each other for about 3500 days (aka 9.5 years) and then had me to stay for a few days. We ate Easter dinner with her family, watched hockey together and I got well and truly plastered with her brother Doug.

DSCF8918Meal of the Year

Eating the freshly-caught fish in Colombia with Jenni and Kati.

Sushi with Ronnie and Debs in Ontario

Tapas and red wine with Gabrielle in Bilbao.

What the hell happened Last Night drunk night

3. The Sarajevo dancing night.

2. Post presentation with Oli Bigland in Oxford

1. Waking up in the morning in a Ukrainian mental hospital. I still don’t know what happened.

PANO_20120516_183803Sight of the Year

Kotor in Montenegro blew me away. Waking up in our house in Salento in Colombia. The sight of Venice from the train station. Its everything you’ve heard about.

Random Moment Award

Jumping off the NY subway to be with Bora.

The house gig with Em in Bavaria

Cultural Event of the Year

Taking part in the La Merce festival in Barcelona with Ilo. Fireworks, burns and dancing masks.

DSC_0392-1Sports event of the Year

Big year for games. I saw maybe 10 and 5 or 6 were football derbies, the Yankees and the Knicks play in New York but it has to go to the Belgrade derby. Red Star against Partizan Belgrade.

Films of the Year

Moonrise Kingdom or Cloud Atlas

Favourite album of the year


Moment of Violence Moment

Getting chased and hit with a truncheon by a rabid Bosnian policeman before the Sarajevo derby was pretty exciting.

Bar of the Year

Tijuana bar in Belgrade, the night of the French music with Mirjana and Jan.

Hospital Bar in Kiev with the flaming helmet

Scariest moment of the Year

Seeing Emmi somersault off her bike and land on her head in Bavaria. Luckily she was wearing a helmet and only broke two neck vertebrates.

Big Balls Moment

Heading back in a taxi from the beach with Jenni and Marioka in Santa Cruz, Colombia, we saw a neighbourhood street party. We changed in the hostel and walked there. the police were outside telling us not to go in as it was a cartel party. We looked at each other and walked over. After some drinks and flour thrown over us, we ended drinking the local firewater outside the convenience store with some truckers until the early hours.

Standing up to another huge, sneering policeman before the Sarajevo derby was fairly scary.

Would I do it all again?

Hell yeah. I’d like to thank everyone for helping me along the way 🙂

Films seen of late


Brilliantly relentless Norwegian thriller concerning a man who will do what it takes to preserve his image. As it all unravels, some of the scenes, twists and turns are excellent.


Bruce Willis has been in some decent pics of late. This one about time travel and hitmen is understandable despite its plot with some solid action.

The Russian Ark

Seminal, one-take Russian film from the 90s. A man wakes in a museum and meets many characters from history and yeah its done in one take!

Jack Streaker

Tom Cruise tries to play a likeable anti-establishment hero. ‘He doesn’t care for the law. He only cares for the truth’, blah blah blah. In a dialogue heavy film with an obvious plot, it still works. The violence is brutal. The one liners are decent but the ending, a clear setup for the assumed sequel is odd. Real odd.

The Cabin in the Woods

Knowing teen horror with lots of references, some funny lines from the stoner guy (the oldest student in the world) and a lot of nerdy, comic book monsters coming out to play etc. Pretty good fun.

Premium Rush

Joseph Gordon Levitt again!! He is likeable but come on man, take a break! Bike couriers in New york get mixed up with child smuggling and bent cops with debts to pay. Nicely made. The chass sequencies are pretty rubbish and the characters are one dimensional but decent enough to watch on a flight.

Juan of the Dead

Cuban zombie film which moves beyond the ‘catch your eye’ title to play out some good action, some of the lewdest jokes I have seen on film and great political satire. The joke about the bus is brilliant.

Total Recall (remake)

Has Colin Farrell ever made a successful/money-making film? In this unnecessary remake, him and other failure Kate Beckinsale fight it out for one reason or another in a computer generated world that no one gives a shit about.

Total Recall (original)

Arnie on form. The sets are plastic. The colours are gaudy and the one-liners are pretty naff. A classic film in short. I’ll see you at the party.