The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Ups and Downs

with 3 comments

My film watching recently has been a bit of a roller coaster experience – varying crazily up and down, from the excellent to abyssmal back to gorgeous to mediocre. I suppose that’s one of those things that make me never grow tired of going to the theatres. If one fails you, there’s always the next one, and as the production company signature tunes in, I’m once again filled with hope and expectations. All the disappointments are forgotten and forgiven.

After the recent X-men disappointment I decided to see the Mike Leigh movie All or nothing.

I realized after a little while that I’d seen it before on the screen (my memory is like a sift, that’s one of the reason for me to blog about movies, I think it might help it to stick better.)

 However the movie definitely held for a second view. Leigh doesn’t present a sugarcoated world. It’s just as grey and dull and painful as life can be. This is not a movie you see to escape the harshness of it; it rather enhances it and you find yourself asking those dreadful questions: “what’s the point of all of it, anyway?”

It would have been almost unbearable if he didn’t provide a few glimpses of hope. And of course I couldn’t resist crying, I knew he was pushing the button and that I responded to it and yet it was so liberating.

The acting was fantastic, as I’ve seen in other Leigh movies. You keep forgetting that those people actually are actors, that they don’t exist for real, because it’s got such an authentic feeling that it’s rather a documentary.

All or Nothing (Leigh, UK, 2002) My rating: 5/5

The following day I had promised to stay away from since one of my daughters wanted have the house to herself for a dinner with some friends. Unfortunately the movie options are very limited this time of the year, so I ended up seeing Thor, which I suspected would feel rather thin after seeing All or Nothing, and unfortunately it turned out I was right.

I’ve liked some of the work Branagh has done before, so somewhere I nourished a hope that he might save it from silliness, even though he hadn’t written the script himself. And sure, there were parts in it that were OK, such as the relationship between Loke and his father that reminded me of some Shakespearian drama. But this didn’t compensate for the predictability of the movie as a whole, where I sometimes knew what the next line would be before it was even uttered.

What also surprised me was that the special effects didn’t have a higher quality. It would have been an OK standard for an episode of a TV-series such as Star Trek, but from a major release like this I would have expected a lot more. The storytelling was definitely better than in X-men, but it still felt too childish and simplistic to really engage.

It definitely didn’t help to go and see it alone. I suspect I would have been far more enthusiastic if I had seen it with a 11 year old child in my company.

Thor (Branagh, US, 2011) My rating:  2,5/5

I wonder where the rollercoaster will take me next.

Written by Jessica

July 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

Posted in All or Nothing, Thor

3 Responses

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  1. In his entire ouvre, Mike Leigh has done something rather remarkable. What Francois Truffaut was for French cinema, Mike Leigh is for English cinema. This is not to say that they are not very different from each other, rather the opposite – they are. Through being so very much alike. Their films are deeply rooted in their respective cultures and portray those cultures and the people living in them with realism and insight, giving much of what they do, as you say, a documentary feel.

    Think, for example, of Les Quatre Cents Coups by Francois Truffaut and All or Nothing by Mike Leigh. Do you see the similarity, that makes for such a difference?

    All the best,


    January 5, 2012 at 3:01 am

    • To be honest I haven’t seen Les Quatre Cents Coups. *Hangs head in shame*.

      Thank you for commenting on this post. It was one of the very first I wrote on this blog and it feels like ages ago. It reminds me of that I need to get back to the Leigh box I was plowing through. I have several of his movies unseen.


      January 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

  2. It would not be untoward to say that Les Quatre Cents Coup is, together with Citizen Kane, probably the best debut film made by any director in film history. Aw shucks, let’s throw in The Maltese Falcon as well!

    Having said that, it is naturally also one of the foremost films in film history, epitomizing la nouvelle vague in France.

    You have to see it, of course.

    All the best,

    P.S. I might add that the film is autobiographical. Francois Truffaut was a dear friend of my mother’s and he once talked to her at length about this. D.S.


    January 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm

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