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Points of You: Part Two

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Mark Kermode | 15:00 UK time, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Keep your opinions coming in, no matter how palpably, insanely wrong they may be.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Glad to see the encouragement of this sort of participation in your blog, Mark. I was wondering could you expand on a comment from a review of yours during the year.

    I'd be curious as for why you feel Batman Begins is superior to The Dark Knight. I will conceed that the latter is certainly overlong, (it may have been better to keep Two-Face as a threat for the third one), and on-rewatch, that the sequence involving the two boats is slightly embarassing in the screenwriter's strenuous attempts to force a moral point down your throat. (To say nothing of the acting, "Why aren't we talking about it?!"). However, beyond these criticisms - I fail to see how Begins is in fact superior. (Though it was certainly one of my favourites of 2005). The Dark Knight is a brilliant expansion on the ideas and themes of Nolan's original as Bruce Wayne's attempts to rid Gotham of the criminal underworld is made to seem increasingly hopeless as the stakes are dramatically raised - and his one chance at a happy, normal life as personified by the Rachel Dawes character is brutally taken away from him. (A development surprisingly harsh for a recent film of the superhero sub-genre). The Bruce Wayne of the Dark Knight is a man whose noble quest has cost him by the film's end - particularly the sense that any future heroics will be difficult to accomplish on the run from the law and without the goodwill of the people.

    There is of course Heath Ledger's vastly inventive and gripping portrayal of the Joker to consider - surely a more interesting take then Cillian Murphy's still creepy Scarecrow. Even Gary Oldman, who you yourself say gives the film's best performance, is given much more interesting material that greatly endears his character to the audience. (It's Batman's friendship with Gordon that will surely be the most interesting sub-plot in any follow-up).

    I do of course love Begins myself, but I think Nolan has given the audience a rare - and remarkable - example of the 'bigger and better' sequel.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good Evening,

    Thanks for that. Since you encourage variety of opinion, I'd like to express that I think A View to a Kill is a great Bond theme, certainly one of the best. I remember as a child repeatedly rewinding the video cassette to the title sequence just to hear it (this was before I bought the soundtrack CD).

    Also, I'm in the middle of writing an essay on Godard and Truffaut and I was wondering what you thought of the La Nouvelle Vague, I remember you once reffered to it as the "New Vagueness" but you didn't go into detail. If you don't think much of Godard, do you like Jean-Pierre Melville's work?


  • Comment number 3.

    A response! Time for another question, regarding There Will Be Blood, which I'm near-obsessed with.

    In your review you said it "redefined the grammar/language of modern cinema", and I sure wish I knew what you meant...

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello Mark,

    Would it be too much to ask you to incorporate a brief 2 or 3 minute segment into your Film Reviews programme on Five Live, whereby you review the films of auteurs/directors who are still held in high regard, despite many having died a long time ago? (Can this be counted as a question? Oh, confound it all! I’ll just plonk the question mark at the end of the sentence anyway).

    For example, Mirror by Andrei Tarkovsky or Persona by Ingmar Bergman. I regularly tune in on Friday afternoons to listen your opinion on contemporary films, but I also think it would be nice if you reviewed films from the not too distant past, i.e. from the early part of the 20th Century up until the mid 1980s or anything. Even something like Un Chien Andalou would do.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Comment number 5.

    And I'm assuming what y'mean is complimentary, because There Will Be Blood is just wonderful.

    I can tolerate other people's opinions in most cases, but not in this one. Paul Thomas Anderson is God, Daniel Day-Lewis his Gabriel, and There Will Be Blood his....Jesus.

  • Comment number 6.

    Thank you for interacting with us Dr Kermode, even if some of us like Rambo 4 :S

    Seeing that dpearce011 is making suggestions of things you could talk about what I'd really love is for you to make a list of your top films, maybe even as a book. As a member of a dvd postal service I regularly have to add film to my list so that I get my money's worth. For example when you review the Jacket you mentioned Jacob's Ladder as an earlier better film and I really really enjoyed it. A list of 'must see' films would be wonderful.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's ok to think Godard is a overrated hack, he only made 2 masterpieces Alphaville (you have to like this Mark!) and Breathless and then made lots of pretentious shit which maybe one good film every 10 years, the other one I like is Weekend.

    Why did you hate Tony Scott's "Domino" which was a outrageous over the top fever dream which is a comment on fictionalized stories of celebrities "based on a true story... sort of", which a hilarious script by Richard Kelly.

    On a another note on Richard Kelly, I will proclaim to the day I die that "Southland Tales" was "THE BEST FILM OF 2007", it was a comment on Bush Administration's Big Brother techniques and even pre-dated the rise of Sarah Palin... is me or does Miranda Richardson as Nana Mae Frost has a striking resemblance to her moronic attitude and has a massive psychical resemblance. It has a sprawling mess because it symbolized the mess before the eventually apocalypse. It was better than "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (which I liked a lot by the way...). It also had a very funny script by Richard Kelly, yes it's no Darko but is not a dudo either.

    on a unrelated note, if I get a interview at Southampton University, can I be interview by the good doctor? (so you can actually be there for one day of the year)

  • Comment number 8.

    Lethal Weapon and Mad Max 2 have got to be Mel's best films but writing that you obviously mean director so I would go with which I'm assuming is the majority to say Braveheart.

    I agree with the person saying There will be blood is great and so it P T Anderson. Although Boogie Nights is by far his best work.

  • Comment number 9.

    Here's one bound to attract the Kermode ire (given that he's written a book on the subject): The Shawshank Redemption is a load of recycled sub-TV-movie predictability, filled with over-sentimentality that would even make Frank Capra run to the toilet with nausea. Hammy direction, only saved by the sheer likeability of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, TSR is ultimately the kind of film loved by those who also count themselves as Robbie Williams fans, i.e. thick people. Touché.

    [That said, The Mist was really good]

  • Comment number 10.

    Dear Doctor

    You probably won't answer this as you will have been inundated with requests as to your opinion but here is another couple of requests admittedly from left field.....

    .....Knowing you are a fan of underground cinema i was wondering what you thought about the Cinema of Transgression/No wave movement of the 1980's.

    I have been watching a lots of films from that period. Some good (Fingered/Black hearts bleed red...).

    Some not so good (Geek maggot bingo)

    But i have found them to be a breath of fresh air compared the usual rubbish playing at my multiplex.

    These films as scruffy and admittedly shoddy as they are have a sense of urgency and a punk ethic that can only be made by a drug addled directors and actors on the fringes of cinema society.

    Do you have a 10 second sound bite for me on the subject. I always wanted to know what you thought about this movement.

    Also another question you probably won't answer cause you will be too busy talking about tripe like High school musical 3.

    Do you have any thoughts on Jim Van Bebber?

    I thought he was one of the most promising looking directors to be working in the horror genre, but the man seems to get no work. Deadbeats and The Manson family were just incredible (if again somewhat scruffy and imperfect).....i thought at least he might get some money to make "Roadkill: The last days of John Martin"

    His work reminds me of the glory days of straight to video horror/exploitation back when horror films were grainy, nasty, warts and all affairs with rough looking casts and obligatory nudity and grievous latex gore .

    Yet he never gets any funding.

    If you can find time out of your day to stop fawning over hacks like Guillermo del toro maybe you could talk for a few seconds about a director making (well not at the moment) genuinely exciting and shocking horror films.

    I understand if this is a bit too obscure a subject for this site.....but press the BBC to give you some late night slot on either TV or Radio where you discuss more alternative type cinema.

    A man of your intellect should not be reduced to reviewing Madagascar 2

    thanks for your time
    Stormy Weathers

    PS : The Dark Knight must the most overrated film of all time

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear MK Don,

    Although I agree with you about Rambo being a load of rubbish, the was a valid point about Michael Bay needing to take note. You mentioned the bayification effect in Wanted, and I'm sorry but you're wrong! Had he made that film or Rambo there would have been a fraction of the swearing and grotesque violence, so it could have fitted neatly into the 12A bracket. At least Stallone and Bekmambetov had the balls to make it a full blooded 18- I'm an adult, when I want to watch an action film, I want all the stops pulled out!

  • Comment number 12.

    Many thanks for the response!

    I really do intend to see Inkheart before it leaves the cinema. I generally don't like Adam Sandler anyway (excepting for some reason in 50 first dates) so not going to be seeing Bedtime Stories!

    Thinking of Brendan Fraser and casting my mind back on Journey to the Center...Centaur...Centre of the Earth:
    I have yet to see any of these 3D films as my boyfriend only really sees out of one eye, and thus cannot see through 3D glasses. Would you recommend them at all? If so, which?
    Should I go see them or are they nothing special? (bare in mind that I've done the @bristol 3D Imax thing as well as having visited Futuroscope -somewhere I'd recommend to almost everyone).

  • Comment number 13.

    Dear Mark,
    Thanks for replying, What is your opinon the current state of Brtiish films I personal am excited by having three directors like Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows and Danny Boyle who are all real directors who have directed interesting films, i like boyle to the point where i will say he has never directed a bad film I love a life less orduinary and everyone else wa wrong about that it was superb.

  • Comment number 14.

    Dear Marky Mark and the Uncut Crew,

    Good to know there's another part of the Beeb for you to throw insults at the general public. (Shout-out to the homeless person who called me 4 letter words for only giving him 50p)

    Anyway, we all know how Hollywood works. Sequels will be made until it stops making money. Looking at this and the case of, ['Insert word here' Movie], how far away are we from seeing the end of these? They keep making money in the box-office but once they stop making money there they'll make it up in DVD sales, WaterWorld style, non? So will these ever end? Meet The Spartans was so bad it'll end up being my Worst Movie of 2010. (With Retro Puppetmaster coming a close 2nd, BATS: Where Do You Hide (not inside according to a bloke who leaves his sercure restaurant to shoot a bajillion bats with a slow reloading pump shotgun) )

    [Oh and a slightly technical thing (that I know you care little about but maybe the techy busy bodies might.) the very thin comments box makes it a pain to write in and make it harder to correct.]

  • Comment number 15.

    OK, I'll try my hand at this with a comment designed to appeal to Mr Kermode's ranting/rhapsodising nature!:

    I wonder if you could tell us your opinion of Exorcist II: The Heretic and Exorcist III (Legion). Received wisdom seems to suggest that the second film is atrocious yet watchable for its goofy insanity. Is this the case or is it just Bad with a capital 'B'?

    The third film seems to have quite a cult following. I have to admit to liking it more than the original (I know what's coming: "I'm right and you're wrong", and I forgive you!)

    Or if these subjects are too obvious for comment, covering overly familiar territory, can you tell us your thoughts on The Ninth Configuration? (A severely underrated film)

  • Comment number 16.

    Mark does a commentary on The Ninth Configuration on the dvd

  • Comment number 17.

    Mark, I heard someone on the net once claim that you hated Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA? Is this true?

  • Comment number 18.

    Re: The Ninth Configuration

    A Kermode commentary? I'm there... have you done any others, Mark?

  • Comment number 19.

    I've just got back from New York.

    I shared a taxi, from my hotel to the airport, with two English girls who told me that while in NY that had been on a Sex in the City tour and it was the best thing they'd done/seen while there (cringe).

    I told the driver I'd forgotten my hand-luggage, jumped out, ran around the corner to the hotel, had a latte, calmed down, deep breathes, deep breathes, and ordered another taxi, alone, quiet, and happy.

  • Comment number 20.

    Before Christmas I decided to watch a film that I had no previous interest in, 'The Children', due to your recommendation.

    However, after seeing that it wasn't playing at The Hyde Park cinema in Leeds I was forced to make my way in to town and view it at the local multiplex. This prompted my curiosity as to whether you personally prefer to watch films at a smaller, older cinema such as The Hyde Park or Cornerhouse, or whether you prefer to view them on a larger screen; Perhaps it depends on the nature of the film in question?

    By the way, I was pleasantly surprised by The Children, thanks for giving it your stamp of approval.

  • Comment number 21.


    I'd like to ask you what your thoughts are on the upcoming remakes of "Last House on the Left" and "Friday the 13th" (but particularly LHOTL). I saw the trailer for it the other night, and it looked like more of the recycled ultraviolent meaningless grunge I've come to expect from horror remakes. My theory is that Hollywood horror remakes will always be unredeemable and awful because they lack the cultural context that the original films had.

    Whaddaya say, Dr. K? Are there any horror remakes that are actually worth watching? Is it possible that the new "Last House" will be every bit as relevant as its original? Or will it fall into the category of "The Hitcher" and "The Hills Have Eyes?"

  • Comment number 22.

    Mark, every so often I hear one of your gems and a little piece of me lights up inside as I find out one of my cinematic opinions is shared by the great Dr K. Not only have you helped nurture my love of films but also inspired me to follow a career in reviewing film as soon as I leave University. Here are a couple of the things I never knew you thought that validated me ever so slightly...

    1) Just in, Apocalypto is a good film!

    2) Kate Hudson used up her one good performance in her one good film, Almost Famous

    3) Closer is a horrible movie, a character study of four repulsive individuals it is impossible to invest in.

    4) Star Wars are not only bad films, they're barely films at all. They're a pocket liner for Mr Lucas and very little more. Why does everybody love them?

    There are many more but just these few spring to mind.

    P.S. I just got back from Slumdog Millionaire. Wow! I hope Danny Boyle wins Best Director at either the Kermodes or the Oscars, I wonder which he'd prefer?

  • Comment number 23.

    HI DR. MARK.









  • Comment number 24.

    For me, it is like high school musical 3, It does exactly what you want it to do. Don't misunderstand me, it is a terrible film but it is a great Rambo film. It had to have people counting "death to minute ratio"; That's what Rambo is about. The first film is actually not bad but since then it turned into Rambo killing as many non descript evil foreigners as possible. Without removing all dialogue, I don't know how this film could have been a better Rambo film. If it had been anything else fans of the previous films would've complained.

  • Comment number 25.

    I quite enjoyed Rambo too. The action was hilariously OTT. It was like Mamma Mia for boys - gloriously awful.

  • Comment number 26.

    Here's a comment.

    Why the insistence on doing reviews, starting with the biggest films out that week? Obviously they're popular, but they already get a big push and that we all know about. Secondly, I presume a lot of people tune in for specifically Mark Kermode's views, so if he says the best film that week is a foreign or art house film, presumably they're interested in a detailed review, even if it's not a blockbuster. The present situation leads to Mark either a)reviewing a film in 30 seconds or b)not reviewing it at all. Does no-one else find this frustrating? As an aside, the wonderful Irish film 'Garage' was supposed to be reviewed once and never was (presumably because a blockbuster got a minute longer than planned) What does Mark make of it? For me, it was one of the highlights of 2007.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yes I find it annoying too, that Mark's film of the week often doesn't get a chance to be discussed.

    What happened to my (now it seems) infamous comment on loving Rambo 4? Especially as Mark so gloriously commented on it and others have replied to it. I'm wondering why it's been deleted.

    Give me Rambo 4 over any of the sanitised excuse for action films of recent years any day.

    Anyway keep up the great work Mark. I'm pleased you liked my comments, even if you disagree with them :-D.

    p.s - Just to show I do have some taste, Hunger was one of my highlights of 2008.

  • Comment number 28.

    I've been meaning to ask for this for ages, this seems a good a place as any.

    Can the previous Podcasts please be kept online. I don't understand why only the latest is kept and prior ones are removed.

    They can be useful to go over later on and hear what Mark thought about a certain film. I remember most weeks to download them but some weeks I miss them :-(. I'm always at work when they're played live.

  • Comment number 29.

    I also hated Rambo 4. It was the worst film of 2008 by a long way, even worse than Jumper, Prom Night, Wanted and even Rock'N'Rolla. It's not a great action film, because it's not an action film. It's not even a film: it's an XBox shoot-em-up; you can almost see the kill counter whirring rund in the corner, and I half expected a caption to come up "Congratulations! You have killed 500 people! You now have access to a surface-to-air missile launcher!!". It's a movie that soils the soul.

  • Comment number 30.

    Rambo 4, its anti-climatic, its awfully violent, its pathetically mindless in the way its made and executed in every thinkable aspect and Stallone does nothing more than run away from a bomb and sit behind a machine gun tearing down hordes of Burmese clones.
    I really do not know what to say though, i cant deny the fact that u enjoyed the film, yet i cant deny the fact that the ONLY thing i did like about it is the fact that it is one hellishly brutal film both in its levels of gore and for the fact that it is generally a sickeningly violent a heartlessly produced film.
    There is no possible argument you can give, no matter how dismally disgustingly shockingly unbearably bad the film may be, again the fact that an action film like this which strives on jaw-dropping levels of brutality and offensiveness; is bound to capture the heart of select viewers.
    You can find movies about that contain huge levels of nastiness and impossible gore and yet are still pretty good-if not brilliant-films. (for example Takeshi Miike's 'Ichi the Killer' and loads of others).
    Yet when you have an hour or so spare with nothing to do and you just so happen to have a film like Rambo 4 at your disposal, then a film thats built on nothing but blood, guts and big guns can be the little slice of fun that you might miss from other films that maybe try too hard to 'mean something' whilst serving your platter of bloody violence.
    And of course, lets not forget the primal reason for the films existence to the public; to entertain; Lets face it, some of us are entertained by guts and gore being pointlessly thrown about before us for us to marvel at.
    There is only one thing that gets to me about the film though, and thats that behind all this minimalist approach to an action film, being that its prime objective is to entertain via extreme bloodshed, is that Sylvester Stallone actually DID want this film to mean something, the message being something about the conflict in Burma, and how "its really bad but how violence is maybe necessary or something".
    Which brings me to the conclusion that this is an abysmal film that totally fluked the hearts of the audience that want nothing more than gore. Lets just hope, as rumors are spreading, that Stallone doesn't make another one. As i doubt he'll get lucky the second time round.

  • Comment number 31.

    i also saw a comment that included praise upon the film 'The Manson Family'.
    A film that i too fell for many years back. Its a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the well-known murders with a fictional back-story that fits in extremely well without even slightly hindering the accuracy of the main account at hand. Being exceptionally violent and pretty atmospheric, it works on a low budget to produce a perfect grain effect, adding a 'worn and torn' feel to the whole film.

    Another film i liked for similar reasons was 'Last House on Dead End Street'. I simply wish this absolute gem had gained a different title as i put off watching it for years; expecting a Last House on The Left rip-off. What i recieved was an ultra-seedy mega-low budget basement horror flick that was extremely gritty and atmospheric film that was as obscure and bizarre as it was violent and gloomy. This film is my very definition of the word 'Gem'. (There is also a lovely little story into the discovery of the footage for that film and the quest to discover whom directed it)

    Lastly, i was wondering if you would agree with my opinion on the latest re-releases of David Lynch's 'Eraserhead' and Tobe Hooper's 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (both being 2 of my all-time favorite films). Both of these films have been excellently remastered and look brilliant, yet i cant help but feel that the grainy picture quality i first viewed them both in, the quality that they were in when they both permanently scarred me all those years ago, was the quality they were meant to be in. Both of these films are very strange and macabre, and in my opinion the dreadful quality of their original (or early) pressings added to this atmosphere, giving them the raw-edge that i love about all the films of their age and genres. (I was hoping for your opinion as most the people i know who bother with these films as seriously as i do are junkies to the technical side of film producing)

  • Comment number 32.

    Dear Doctor,
    Following your inspired review of The Hangover, I was wondering if you could use your expansive knowledge of movies to help me.

    A couple of years ago I was flicking through the late-night film channels and caught the start of a film about four blokes going off to Las Vegas for an extended stag night, in which the groom to be has promised his bride that there will be no sexual shenanigans whatsoever. To this end, the guys hire a stripper who dances for the other man and then she and the groom have sex. BUT - and here's the twist - the stripper is accidentally killed when the man rams her into the wall and she is impaled on a loose nail, and the rest of the film is a farcical journey of them trying to cover up the deed.

    Do you have any idea what film this is, and if so what happens in the end?



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