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Reviews Bonanza: Anvil, Gran Torino and Che Part Two

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Mark Kermode | 16:45 UK time, Monday, 2 March 2009

What I didn't do on my holidays...

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  • Comment number 1.

    I was suprised by how different Che: Part Two was to Part One. Both films together probably make my film of the year as it's difficult to separate them. Benicio Del Toro's performance (which I thought was in the top two of the year along with Mickey Rourke) is certainly the best aspect of the film, but Che was also very well directed, Soderbergh treating the audience with intelligence instead of having to introduce Che Guevara.

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks for reviewing Che: Part 2 Mark. Andrew Collins's review (if you can call it that) in your absence was a joke to put it lightly (sorry it was), barely running one sentence.

    Part 2 is opening in my area this w/e (Yipeey!) but Part 1 barely got a showing (Gee thanks). So I'm now in a quandary whether I should see Part 2 at the cinema and wait for the Blu-ray of Part 1 or wait for both on Blu-ray. These are the two films I've wanted to see most this year.

    Any advice appreciated.

  • Comment number 3.

    OK, so I know you're being facetious, but seriously, please don't go on holiday more often. Not that I want to guilt you out of your me-time, but it seriously mucks up my inner monologue when you're not on the podcast. Being a teensy bit possessed by the 'O.C.D.emon' I like my routine, and you good doctor are part of it, whether you like it or not!


    PS I'm being facetious too. Don't take any of my bullying to heart

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello, this is my first blog post ever, hope it makes sense!

    Mark, you forgot Joe Strummer The Future Is Unwritten for recent music documentaries that are amazing. It's also very cinematic unlike a lot of documentaries out there and the music is just unbelievable.

    I haven't seen Che Part 2 yet but I saw the first part and thought it a little superficial. It seems like Soderbergh never gets under the skin of Che and instead shows him fighting in a jungle for 2 hours. The film concentrates on events rather than the characters behind them. Saying that, I liked the black and white documentary realism, however, give me Sex, Lies and Videotape any day.

  • Comment number 5.

    "I should go on holiday more often"
    Don't get any smart ideas Doctor...

    As with most people who have commented here at the moment, i too am yet to see Che part 2, and if it's as good as you say it is (better than the first) i am officially VERY excited about it.
    Gran Torino though i saw on its first screen on its first day of being shown in my little city of Wakefield, and now you mention it i know what you mean. I was amazed it was overlooked and have been struggling for reason ever since. Thanks for clearing that little mental dilemma up for me Mark.

    P.S. Sweeney Todd; the BBC version starring Ray Winstone, much better and far less blasphemous to its routes, as well as the cast being chosen on talent's grounds and not to make the film into a fashion statement.

  • Comment number 6.

    really looking forward to seeing both che films as i know very little about him, outside of him being that guy in those posters that hip rich kids have. anvil sounds great, and my only problem is that you overlooked 'the devil and daniel johnston' when talking about great music documentaries.

  • Comment number 7.

    OH! also, while we're on music documentaries, did you ever see the flaming lips documentary, 'the fearless freaks'. i'm not sure if it ever got a cinematic release, but until i saw the daniel johnston one, it was my favourite.

  • Comment number 8.

    Also saw Che in a marathon in Liverpool - they're doing marathons here in Pennsylvania too. They're marketing it as some kind of endurance event!

    Gran Torino was ok, but the poor performances by the young boy and the priest really took me out of it.

  • Comment number 9.

    Too much fannying around in the Bolivian jungle without much effect in Che 2. Seemed to lack the amount of story that you got in part I so the films together seem unbalanced.

    Unfortunately your being on holiday has robbed us of a rant on "Push" which it so richly deserves.

    There's way too much sucking up going on on this blog. If I hadn't heard Mayo say that you don't do technology I'd believe you had written some of the more sycophantic responses yourself.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well OK, so you were right about Gran Torino.

  • Comment number 11.

    Completely off topic, but from Fridays wittertainment, Frido and President Camacho was of course from Idiocracy, currently running on Belgian cable, and one that I can't help watching over and over...

  • Comment number 12.

    I can't help but think that Del Toro's lack of an acting nomination isn't entirely down to speaking in a foreign language but also because Che isn’t exactly the most popular person in the US

  • Comment number 13.

    yeah Mark, agree with you about Gran Torino, it is so good. its my favourite so far this year along with the wrestler and slumdog.

    definitely the fact that it appears so effotless and it doesn't draw attention to itself with directorial flashes is probably why it got overlooked. as i was walking out of the cinema i could see people in their chairs still trying to process what they had just seen. also never heard a cinema audience laugh so much in quite a while.

    really looking forward to anvil.

    with regards to che II, well i was unsure about seeing it mainly because it got mixed reviews, some saying it was in fact inferior to the first part. also i admired rather than loved the first one. but your review has convinced me to go and see the second part in the cinema.

    just wanted to ask you what you think about the news that Douglas Trumball is working with Malick on his new film?

  • Comment number 14.

    The real crime that Benicio Del Toro was guilty of was the crime of playing a communist who wasnt the movie's bad guy. The Oscars dont take any risks on politicval subjects.

    For goodness sake, when Brokwback Mountain came out a couple of years ago (my miles the best picture nominated) they didn't give it the award because the movie had a couple of men smooching! Without tongues!

  • Comment number 15.

    Any thoughts guys and gals on whether one should see Che: Part 1 first or whether it doesn't really matter?


  • Comment number 16.


    See part I (if you must) and dont bother with part II. Nothing much happens in part II until the end. At least in partI you have multiple story lines and flashbacks to keep it interesting.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yeah, and the camera on the ground thing is getting a bit hackneyed, like Blair Witch, Cloverfield and others. I suppose it might be OK if we had that viewpoint throughout the film but we only get it once. (Just saw Katyn and we fade to black and stay there for ages. It's heresy to criticize a film like that, I know, but it's the same deal - overdramatization )

  • Comment number 18.

    Good afternoon, hope you're well.

    I know this isn't related to the blog, but I just have to say that I'm practically counting down the hours to your interview with Morrissey tonight on the Culture Show. Fantastic.

  • Comment number 19.

    I had the good fortune of seeing the documentary ‘Anvil’ at the Dublin Film Festival last month and found it to be a real masterpiece. One thing irritated me though. Yes, the Spinal Tap comparisons are clear and present, but on the whole there are some genuinely heartfelt moments within the film, but some people still failed to see this.

    During the recording session, when Lips brakes down and cries, I was rather irritated and baffled to notice how some sections of the audience found this bit funny. I’m not a musician, but was there something I didn’t get? I’m wondering what the good doctor has to say about this and does he feel that the marketing for the film as a ‘real life’ Spinal Tap piece is too distracting from the genuine sincerity of the film and if that type of marketing is a little bit disingenuous?

  • Comment number 20.

    Also not sure why there are so many question marks in that comment!

  • Comment number 21.

    Dear Mark,

    Are you aware that they have remade 'Last House on the Left'? (I still haven't seen the original).

    Would you object to them to "remake" 'The Exorcist' if it was another adaptation of the novel (e.g. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

  • Comment number 22.

    i've posted too much here already, but man, i just watched [rec] for the first time, and i'm really gutted that all i can find is a 4 second review from you. one of the scariest films i've seen in a while, and superior to both cloverfield and diary of the dead (both of which i rate highly).

  • Comment number 23.

    Some nice quick reviews there.

    I saw the Che double bill at LFF last year and felt slightly overwhelmed by the whole epic. Out of the two parts I enjoyed the first half the most. The sudden tonal change inbetween the two films really disjointed the overall epic experience. Both parts of Che are well made films and I thought Benico and Soderberg crafted an interesting film experience overall. Maybe seeing them on their own again might be helpful to make a final conclusive decision. It would help to have some time to think about the films then have a twenty minute free water and chocolate break at the Odoen West End.

    Ironically enough with the Oscars and actors speaking in non-english roles, crazy Italian Roberto Benigni shook up the Oscars when he won best actor for Life is Beautiful. So Benico still had a fair look in and to be honest should have been at least recongised for the work he put into the film.

    Would be interested in seeing Anvil if I can find a cinema close to me that shows it.

    Gran Torino is another subtle film from Eastwood who is defintiely a great director with his later works like Million Dollar Baby. I guess my real joy from Torino came with seeing Eastwood acting again as a character that is borderlining on potentially being so wrong yet somewhat enduring despite the characters obvious political and social flaws. If I only had one complaint about Gran Torino it would be that cast wise, one or two moments with the younger cast (the main kids Clint begrudingly befriends) absolutely verge on being shambolic with their acting coming close to University films. I've made a few of those to see quite clearly when someone hasn't got the right angle on a role. Apart from that slight niggling flaw, Gran Torino was a better experience than Changeling.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Mark,

    I often hear from critics that Clint Eastwood's direction is 'unfussy' but what exactly is meant by this.

    Could you define specifically how his direction is 'unfussy' with some examples and perhaps compare his work to someone who you consider to be a 'fussy' director?

  • Comment number 25.

    Saw Che 1 & 2 in a marathon at the Curzon Soho the other Sunday. Thought Che 1 was acceptable but not superb and looked forward to the obvious parallels and insight Che 2 would bring. How wrong we were... far too many people in jungles and endless tactical discussions without even the aid of a helpful map like at the start of Che 1. The closing minutes are striking but I felt I knew nothing more about Che after watching the two films. del Toro's performance was undeniably superb but I'm afraid I found the films dull and uninvolving for large periods.

  • Comment number 26.

    Dear Dr Mark,

    Totally agree with you about Gran Torino.

    Do you think there is any chance of a British version, like 'Gran Allegro'?

    Boy on an ASBO has to work for a Victor Meldrew figure. Mind you there were no ASBO's in 1972, just crap cars.

  • Comment number 27.

    Thanks antimode.

    It turns out my local arthouse is showing Che: Parts 1 and 2 next week - Yipeey!

    I'll have to try and squeeze both in the same week, which wasn't exactly what I wanted but it will have to do.

  • Comment number 28.


    Quite a while ago on your show with Simon you called 'The Deer Hunter' a "hateful piece of work". I wonder if you could expand on this point?

    Cheers & all the best,


    (P.S. - sorry for posting this twice, I'm not too sure where to post.)

  • Comment number 29.

    The Russian Roulette scene in Deer Hunter is brilliant but otherwise I found it mostly a bore.

    It took an hour to get going, which according to the Director is so we care about the characters. Well, from my opinion he failed. I didn't care in the slightest.

    Except for the central Vietnam section I don't think it was that well made at all.

  • Comment number 30.

    I used the phrase 'old school' to describe the brilliance of Gran Torino to a friend. The fact that I should be considering, no nonsense, simple storytelling and craftsmanship as 'old school' is pretty depressing.

  • Comment number 31.

    I find it curious how Gran Torino came out here in Australia several weeks before it did in the UK. Could you possibly explain why such delays occur, Dr?

  • Comment number 32.

    Yeah Mark, why don't you like The Deer Hunter?
    Is it only because Cimino is a fascist?

  • Comment number 33.

    I so so so wish eastwood would do a gritty revisionist wildbunch western. But I guess if you were him, you'd think,I'm 'old' and unforgiven is a work of genius to bow out on,I don't want to sully my career. Of course Gran Torino is his last acting role altogether apparently, which I can't bring myself to come to terms with. eastwood is one of a kind, though god knows they've tried replacing him over and over again in the genres and subgenres eastwood has permeated. I find it interesting that eastwoods acting and directing career has really been influenced by his mentors A) Sergio Leone and B) Don Siegal. And all the way through his career he's made films that either fall into the western Leone inspired category, or the urban neo-western cop thriller's that fall into the siegal camp. gran Torino is a combination of both these styles; it's an urban western, a stranger to his own community defends them from outside morally bad marauders - yet does so in the name of the law in a pseudo-urban setting.


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