The Watchers

The Watchers

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

2012 Wales Blog Awards Nomination!

We are absolutely over the moon to announce that The Watchers Film Show Blog has been shortlisted for the Best Multimedia award at the 2012 Wales Blog Awards. 

We are one of three blogs shortlisted for this particular award and we are both incredibly excited by this and are honoured that the blog has been recognised in these awards.

The award presentation will take place during the evening of Thursday 20th September at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. 

For more information about the awards, please have a look at

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Introducing The Watchers Charity Bondathon 2012!

Introducing  The Watchers Charity Bondathon 2012 & our new sister blog:

What is a Bondathon?

A Bondathon is a test of endurance for movie buffs, to watch all the official James Bond movies.

Official James Bond movies are those produced by EON Productions (so Never Say Never Again does not count). There is a new official Bond movie out in October which brings the total number to twenty-three.

The challenge is to watch all twenty-three movies over a three-day period, starting with Dr .No at midnight on Friday October 26 and culminating with a cinema screening of Skyfall on the evening of Sunday October 28.

You may think that two guys sitting on a sofa watching movies for three days straight isn’t much of a challenge. We agree. So, for each of the twenty-three movies, we will be writing a retrospective blog piece and recording a podcast which will be available online. If you consider that this equates to approximately forty-six hours of movie-watching alone, the scale of the challenge should be more apparent.

So why are we doing it?

Aside from the opportunity to see one of the world’s greatest movie franchises in its entirety, we are also raising money for Cancer Research Wales. Both of our fathers are currently undergoing treatment for various types of cancer and we both wanted to help raise vital funds for research and treatment.

More information about the Bondathon will be added over the coming weeks so please keep checking the blog, follow us on Twitter @WatchersFilmSho and please consider sponsoring us at

Many thanks

The Watchers

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Rhys' Retro Collection #4 - Crimson Tide

So, once again, I filter through my collection of VHS, but this time I’m looking for a particular film – Crimson Tide.

Why did look for this one amongst the rest? Tony Scott.

I felt the need to watch something of his – so why not watch something not too obvious? The film sees Scott re-team with producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer again and also it is the start of his working relationship with Denzel Washington (which would span four further films)

The film is set in modern times (1995) during a crisis happening in Russia, where a radical revolutionist has gained control of nuclear weapons and- worse still- the support of various Russian military. Gene Hackman’s submarine is put to sea on a covert mission to arrive and prepare to launch a first strike package of nuclear missiles. In the scene just before the sub sets sail, Hackman addresses his crew at night in the soaking rain. This is a great example of how Scott makes what could easily have been a mundane scene special. He adds texture; sets it at night, lashes rain down around the characters, surrounding them within water even before they’re aboard the sub.

As Captain Frank Ramsey, Gene Hackman brings what you expect from this amazing actor – stoic leadership, a firm hand, a mature intelligence and above all else complete believability. Hackman owns the screen when he talks and you are completely sucked into this world because of it. This film has reminded me that Hackman has been retired now for nearly a decade and what presence we are missing on cinema screens.

Denzel Washington brings his game and manages to go toe to toe with Hackman. Washington plays an Harvard-educated officer, not a pacifist but a man who- faced with nuclear war- sees it as not a final solution but as a beginning of a holocaust. This is the story – the story of two men and the crew beneath them. In many ways, it’s a modern version of Mutiny On The Bounty. The orders are given and everything is in place, but then- due to various circumstances- a last minute message only comes through with a few words. They spend the whole film at war aboard this boat; it is the old dramatic question – to be or not to be.

These two heavyweight actors are supported by a phenomenal cast – Viggo Mortenson, James Gandolfini and the underrated George Dzundza. Also, watch out for two actors here that appear on their rise to fame- Steve Zahn and Ryan Phillippe!

If you want a film that not only entertains you, challenges you and is directed superbly (using every visual tool, to slickly present a film that is in essence all set on one location and manages to thrill you), this is it. Go past the dated music and some over use of film filters; this is a fantastic example of cinema from the 1990s, and a film I had forgot just how good it is.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Programme 20 - The Bourne Legacy, The Expendables 2 and The Wedding Video

In this action-packed edition, we review The Bourne Legacy and The Expendables 2; we also take a look at British comedy The Wedding Video and pay tribute to the late, great Tony Scott.

In addition to the latest film news, keep watching for a very special announcement at the end of the show...


Monday, 20 August 2012

Mini-Countdown: Our Favourite Films Of The 1930's

This mini-countdown sprang from an idle conversation we had regarding our favourite films of the Eighties. This proved to be fruitful, so we decided to go back as far as we could and choose our particular favourites from a given decade. We were both able to go back as far as the 1930's so that's where we begin


Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)

A landmark in cinema, this was the first full-length animated feature in motion picture history and the first to be produced by Walt Disney Productions,

Dracula (1931)

A seminal moment in the history of horror films, with a definitive performance by Bela Lugosi in the title role

The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Chosen more for the (at the time) ground-breaking technical achievements rather than any other reason, the effects are still impressive over seventy years later


Duck Soup (1933)

The Marx Brothers were absolute geniuses so one of their films had to go in; a brilliantly funny film full of quotable one-liners.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Katharine Hepburn was rarely better in a comedic role than here, ably matched by Grant in this delightful screwball comedy.

M (1931)

Peter Lorre gives a chilling performance as a child-killer in Fritz Lang's atmospheric thriller

So those are ours, what about yours? Should Gone With The Wind or It Happened One Night have been included? To your mind, is James Whale's Frankenstein or Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde a better example of 1930's horror? Would you have preferred A Day At The Races or A Night At The Opera

Let us know your favourite films of the 1930's in the comments below.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Rhys’ Retro Collection #3 - The Karate Kid

The 80s are a decade full of films we who grew up through them look back on with great reverence and nostalgia. On a re-watch from this era, many fall short of our childhood memories (Teen Wolf, for one).

However, The Karate Kid is not one of those.

This is now a classic; Rocky Junior as many thought of it (as it is directed by John G. Avildsen, who directed Rocky and Rocky V). The film was released in 1984 and- for those who don’t know the real plot, only the abomination that is in the 2010 remake starring Jackie Chan- centres on young Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) who moves to California with his mother from New Jersey. He is an outsider and is treated as such; he is bullied and finds it hard to make new friends- apart from Ali (Elisabeth Shue). His building has a handyman, Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita) and an unforeseen friendship is built upon when Miyagi trains Daniel to compete in a Karate Tournament, where he will face his bullies and their sensei of the Cobra Kai.

It’s a classic underdog story, which we all know American cinema loves to make. The film- visually and tonally- is, of course, trapped in the 1980s, with more montages and inspiring music than I remember. Does this overly date the film? Yes. Is this a bad thing here? No. The film feels like a time capsule of the 80s and now watching it feels like watching a film made to be set in the 80s. It is classic timeless cinema – why? Because of the characters, the narrative and the deep heart and soul at the root of the piece.

Looking back, I noticed a few interesting things to mention. One is the relationship with Daniel’s parent- the dynamic is interesting in the way we have the central character living in a single parent family and a poor income background which leads directly into this strong young character. I’m talking strength of character not physical; he is a very likable character and obviously designed as an everyman. He’s not a ‘geek’, a ‘jock’ or any label – which is refreshing in itself.

The relationship between Daniel and Miyagi (Pat Morita was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role) is very well written, performed and established. It could easily be said he is the father figure that Daniel is missing- but I would say that’s too easy a conclusion. The relationship is far more dynamic; they are friends- a friendship they both were not looking for, but definitely both needed. Daniel the outsider obviously needed someone- but Miyagi for most of the movie is an enigma and mystery surrounds him. Slowly we are revealed more and more about his past. This is culminated in a great scene where Daniel- after a teenage trivial argument with Ali- goes to Miyagi to vent his frustration. But he finds this usually string and stoic man drunk, crying and dressed in full army uniform. Miyagi is a World War II veteran who lost his wife during childbirth. We see him instantly as the lonely man he is and its here that the film shows its real strength – it’s not about the karate; this film is really a character piece.

So, we have an all time classic – a classic? Yes, a classic. We have a young hero, a wise old man and the forces of evil. And what evil – the Cobra Kai, a dojo that’s lost its way under the leadership of Vietnam veteran John Kreese (played by the menacing Martin Kove). This is just a superb film and should be cherished on your DVD shelf – I will be replacing this VHS. I will even replace the franchise – all have their merits, maybe I’ll look at them with time.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Movies Of John Waters

It's fair to say that there's no film maker quite like John Waters. Dubbed 'The Pope of Trash', Waters once stated that he would consider someone throwing up in one of his movies to be equivalent to a standing ovation and- given some of the outrageous acts in some of his movies- that seems quite likely. Waters' films shock, challenge and amuse in equal measures.

He began making films in his native Baltimore back in the 1960s, starting with shorts such as Hag In A Black Leather Jacket, Roman Candles and Eat Your Makeup, before trying out longer films- which he refers to as his 'atrocities'- with Mondo Trasho and Multiple Maniacs. These early films feature a group of actors- amongst them Mary Vivian Pearce, David Lochary, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Cookie Mueller, Channing Wilroy, Susan Lowe and drag actor Divine (the pseudonym of Harris Glenn Milstead)-  who would become known as the Dreamlanders and many of whom would appear in multiple Waters movies.

It is 1972's Pink Flamingos which made Waters' name. This really is a film that needs to be seen to be believed although, as far as I know, it's not commercially available in the UK (I saw it on an import copy). It's the story of the conflict between Babs Johnson (Divine) and her dysfunctional family- travelling companion Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce), chicken-loving son Crackers (Danny Mills) and egg-obsessed Mama Edie (Edith Massey)- and Connie and Raymond Marble (Mink Stole and David Lochary) for the title of 'The Filthiest Person Alive'. Illegal baby-farming, a bowel movement sent through the mail and a singing anus all pale in comparison with the infamous final scene of Divine eating fresh dog faeces.

In 1974's Female Trouble, Divine plays tearaway teen Dawn Davenport who runs away from home one Christmas after not getting her cha-cha heels and falls pregnant. She raises her daughter Taffy (Mink Stole) in a dysfunctional manner and marries hairstylist Gator (Michael Potter), much to the disgust of his Aunt Ida (Edith Massey) who would rather he was gay. Gator's bosses- Donald and Donna Dasher (David Lochary and Mary Vivian Pearce)- believe that crime equals beauty and encourages Dawn in her criminality. This leads to murder, disfigurement and a grown woman confined in an oversized bird cage. It's a truly bizarre film but, if you just go with it, it's enjoyable (with Massey's hysterical performance a true delight). This would be David Lochary's last film with Waters- due to Lochary's spiralling drug use, he would not appear in Waters' next film and died in 1977.

The opening ten minutes of Desperate Living (1977) is undoubtedly one of the most insane starts to a film. Seeing Mink Stole's hysteria rising to a neurotic crescendo in an eminently-quotable frenzy is just brilliant. Housewife Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) and her maid Grizelda (Jean Hill) run away after Peggy's husband is killed by Grizelda sitting on him. An encounter with a perverted policeman leads the two criminals to Mortville, a shantytown for criminals and undesirables, ruled by the evil Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey) and her daughter Princess Coo-Coo (Mary Vivian Pearce). The inhabitants of the town conspire to overthrow Carlotta but don't count on Peggy switching sides. In my opinion, the rest of the film doesn't quite match the brilliance of the first ten minutes but it's still got some marvellous parts to it. Divine was unavailable due to touring commitments.

Not only is Polyester (1981) an elegant parody of the 'women's pictures' popularised by Douglas Sirk, it also has a gimmick worthy of William Castle's B-movies: Odorama. Scratch-and-sniff cards were distributed to the audience and a number would flash on screen to indicate which panel to scratch next. Downtrodden housewife Francine Fishpaw (Divine) has a keen sense of smell and a troubled life- her husband is having an affair with his secretary (Mink Stole); her children are delinquents and her mother is robbing her blind. Francine's only support comes from her friend Cuddles (Edith Massey). Various tragedies befall Francine- she divorces Elmer and falls into alcoholism, her son is arrested and her daughter taken to a Catholic home for unwed mothers. Into this darkness comes a ray of light- Todd Tomorrow (former teen idol Tab Hunter). But can he be trusted? The final twenty minutes or so fall into absolute mayhem with a body count worthy of a Tarantino movie. This was the first Waters film to get an R rating by the MPAA and was the last film to feature Edith Massey who died in 1984.

Hairspray (1988) is probably Waters' most main-stream and 'commercial' film but there's still a cheerfully anarchic streak to it with its overarching theme of racial integration and equality in the 1960s. Pleasantly plump teenager Tracey Turnblad (Ricki Lake) wants to dance on The Corny Collins Show and fulfils her dream. The show is racially segregated and Tracey, along with her friends, seeks to break down those barriers. This is Divine's last film for Waters as he sadly passed away in 1988. Waters' next film Cry-Baby (1990) is a send-up of teen musicals such as Grease. Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of delinquent teen Wade Walker (Johnny Depp) and good girl Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane) as they fall in love. This is the first of Waters' films in which he cast Patricia Hearst, who would go on to be a regular collaborator.

Serial Mom (1994) is probably my favourite of Waters' films. Beverley Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is a perfect housewife and mother... who also has a penchant for making obscene phonecalls and killing anyone who upsets or inconveniences her family in any way. Critical teachers, unfaithful boyfriends and complaining dental patients all face Beverley's wrath. It's a delicious and extremely black comedy and Turner absolutely plays it to the hilt. Mink Stole almost steals the show as harassed neighbour Dottie Hinkle, the target of Beverley's phonecalls. There is some real inventiveness to some of the death scenes- seeing a woman getting battered to death by a cooked leg of lamb to the overture from Annie is a particular highlight.

Waters' next two films both use various art-forms as their starting-point: Pecker (1998) tells the story of a Baltimore sandwich shop employee (Edward Furlong) who becomes the next big thing in the art world when his photographs of his weird family becomes famous and Cecil B. Demented (2000) features Stephen Dorff as a crazy film director who kidnaps A-list Hollywood actress Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) to appear in his underground film.

Waters' most recent film is 2004's A Dirty Shame, an eye-watering catalogue of sexual perversity. Repressed housewife Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullmann) gets a knock on the head which untaps a voracious sexual appetite. She meets Ray-Ray (Johnny Knoxville) who initiates her into the secret fetish cult that lies beneath the pristine lawns of her neighbourhood, much to the disgust of her mother Big Ethel (Suzanne Sullivan) and Ethel's friend Marge (Mink Stole). Despite being a mainstream film, it has the same outsider feel as his early work and is certainly not one for the faint-hearted.

After all this, where next for Waters? Well, he has had long-gestating plans to make a Christmas movie for kids under the working title Fruitcake. Having read this article, you could have major misgivings about a John Waters kids’ movie but- if it does get made- you can bet I’ll be in line to see it.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Programme 19 - Ted, Ice Age 4 and Olympics on film

In this edition, we take a look at Ted, Ice Age 4 and Tez takes a quick look at Olympic Movies. Plus, all the latest movie news!

Podcast version available on iTunes or listen on our player widget!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Review: The Five Year Engagement (UK cert 15)

The Five Year Engagement is written, produced by and stars How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel. After his tour de force on the Muppets franchise and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, how can he better himself? Well, to be honest, compared to those two films, he doesn't.

However what you have here is a funny, entertaining, well conceived rom-com directed by Nicholas Stoller (who re-teams with Segel after Forgetting Sarah Marshall). What's good is the film is genuinely funny and heartwarming without overindulging in the romance. This film takes a fresh take on the rom-com genre – this story starts where most films of the genre end. The film starts with boy gets girl. What is great is the film concentrates on the period after the honeymoon of a relationship – they are a couple who have lived together for years; we see the real problems that arrive in the first years of a real relationship – from money, jobs, self worth, family, children and of course trust.

Segel gives a solid performance as one of the two central characters, as does Emily Blunt. What’s nice here is you believe in the couple’s relationship; you can really see them as a couple. The supporting performances are great here as well, especially Chris Pratt as Alex (Jason Segel's on-screen best friend)– he plays an egotistical, vulgar manchild. However, by the end of the five years, he's grown into a well-adjusted family man. In fairness, that’s what is great about this film – everyone changes over a five year period; it's the truth of life that people change and change again.

The drama isn’t just centred solely on the central couple – the story is their world, their families, their friends, their jobs. This brings a much greater story experience for us, the viewer, when watching the events unfold.

What’s bad, you say? Well there is a very surreal middle act where Segel's character loses himself in what seems to be a depressive state; this is very strange and doesn’t really fit stylistically within the whole film’s style and feels a little indulgent on the star’s part. Also, it’s way too long a film for a rom-com, running at 124 minutes- you could easily shave 10-20 minutes of this running time and still bring home the film without losing anything that’s needed for the story.

Saying that, the film is a solid date movie and, more importantly it’s a solid purchase for your DVD shelf. I would genuinely encourage you to give this a watch, it’s a very enjoyable night out and an honest relationship story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Vertigo (1958)

The British Film Institute's Sight And Sound magazine announced the results of their once-a-decade poll of distrubutors, critics and academics to find 'the greatest film of all time'. This started in 1952- where the top film was Bicycle Thieves (1948)- and has continued every ten years since. Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) was announced as the number one film in 1962 and remained top of the poll for fifty years- until yesterday when Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) was announced as the 'greatest film of all time'.

So what makes Vertigo so great?

We start with the script, which was adapted from D'Entre Les Morts (From Among The Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The screenplay is credited to Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor, although Coppel was credited for contractual reasons only. The story is dark and mature, touching on obsessive love and desire, guilt and betrayal, making for a complex and engaging film. 

Next, add in a selection of downright brilliant performances. This was James Stewart's last collaboration with Hitchcock; when the film was poorly received on its debut, a lot of critics attributed its failure to the fact that Stewart was too old to play a romantic lead (indeed, he was twice as old as Kim Novak). However, Stewart's portrayal as a broken obsessive is touching and disturbing and far from a failure. Novak is luminous in the dual roles of Madeleine and Judy, one of the quintessential glacial Hitchcock blondes. Barbara bel Geddes is also great as Scottie's ex-fiancee Midge with Tom Helmore rounding things off nicely as Gavin, Madeleine's husband whose request starts the tragic events off.

To this already strong mix, we add a director who- by this point- is approaching the zenith of his creative powers. Hitch's direction here is lean, taut and precise. Shots are beautifully framed and lit- the sequence in the Palace of the Legion of Honour (when Madeleine stares at the portrait of Carlotta) is a particular highlight. The locations looks sumptuous; San Francisco is almost a character in its own right. 

To finish, flourishes of technical brilliance abound in the film, no more so than the famous 'contra-zoom', invented by second-unit cameraman Irmin Roberts to convey Scottie's sense of vertigo. The shot zooms out and tracks in, causing a dizzying and disorienting effect on screen. The view down the mission staircase at the climax of the film cost approximately $19,000 for what is a few seconds on screen. The effect is oft-imitated but never bettered. Saul Bass' amazing opening title sequence ranks amongst some of his best work. Finally, it would be remiss not to mention Bernard Herrmann's achingly beautiful score, one of his best.

It seems odd to think that, at the time it was released, Vertigo was called 'far-fetched nonsense' by the New Yorker and 'pure dross' by Saturday Review. Critics have since re-evaluated it and have come to lionise it in various polls. It was one of the first twenty-five films to be selected for preservation by the National Film Registry, and was named the American Film Institute's #1 Mystery film. As a Hitchcock fan, I find Vertigo dangerously close to perfect and am very pleased it has received this honour.