Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

Movies


Found on the web and MoviesSaturday, January 17th, 2015, (2:34 am)

My friend Madeleine has a poster on her wall that is often the focus of conversation and debate. It’s the alphabet of architecture by British designer, Steven Wildish and it’s just one of many such alphabet posters he’s designed. So, just for fun, I thought you might like and see how many movies you can guess in these two alphabet posters.

Alphabet of movies

I didn’t do that well with this one, scoring just 10 on my first attempt. How many can you guess? I’ll give you a small clue, there are a few James Bond films in there and that proved difficult for me. I was never really a fan of 007. His cars are cool, and the ladies in his life are fine, but there’s only so many times I can forgive a character for completely changing.

If action movies aren’t your thing then maybe you’ll do better guessing the alphabet of romantic comedies?

Alphabet of movies

I’m not a huge fan of ‘rom-coms’ and as a result I was only able to identify 3! I tend to avoid films in this genre, or any movies that star Jennifer Anniston or Drew Barrymore (same same, right?).

Wildish has done other movie alphabets with his lists including sci-fi movies, war movies, horror films, comedies, and superheroes.

If you want to see the answers, why not test your knowledge first, then check in the comments for the answers and see how many you got right. Can you beat 10? Surely you can beat 10!

MoviesMonday, October 4th, 2010, (2:58 pm)

I don’t much like Mondays. It’s the day everyone wants to hit the ground running, when people have that ‘down to business’ attitude, and where the weekend feels furthest away. Nobody has time on Monday.

The two films above from everynone.com are just beautifully crafted shorts I just wanted to share. I know, it’s Monday, and you’re busy, but if you can find just seven minutes and nineteen seconds in your day you can watch both of them.

More films like these
Doors opening

MoviesFriday, September 3rd, 2010, (1:42 am)

For anyone who enjoys ‘people watching’ the movie below is a treat. It’s called ‘Lift’ by British documentary film maker, Marc Isaacs. The strangely charming film is shot entirely within the confines of an elevator inside a block of flats in the East End of London.

I’m sure we’ve all stood in an elevator and wondered about the story of the person we’re anonymously riding with. Back in 2001 Isaacs spent two months riding up and down the elevator with the residents of the London flats, and gradually the metal box became a kind of confessional in which people cautiously opened their hearts.

In an interview Isaacs said of the film. “It’s an awkward thing to stand there; people are naked if you like: there’s nowhere to hide, and whatever they do is revealing. That’s probably true anyway, but it’s magnified because it’s their face against a metallic background and they can’t really ignore the camera, so even if people don’t say very much it’s still quite interesting.”

Isaacs has won numerous awards for his short films, including several for ‘Lift.’ His most recent film called ‘Men of the City‘ was featured on BBC TV’s Storyville series last year.

‘Lift’ is twenty five minutes long so I appreciate many of you won’t have the time to sit and watch this. However, I really think this is a quite fascinating short film so I hope you will be able to find the time to watch it at some point, maybe over the weekend? I certainly would like to hear what you thought of the film if you do watch it.

General and MoviesSaturday, November 3rd, 2007, (11:33 pm)

Ten years ago a friend of mine decided to take his own life. He apparently researched the local tides and the moon cycle in an effort to pick the most ferocious of outbound tides on the darkest of nights. He told no one of his plans, and never once reached out to his friends in a way any of us recognized. On a cold and dark October night, he walked into the biting cold waters of the retreating River Mersey whereupon he was quickly swept out to sea. His body was recovered four days later.

I always wondered what he must have been going through as he made his way to the darkened beach that night. Clearly, he was in a state of despair, but I could see nothing so terrible in his life that it couldn’t be overcome. I remember in the days that followed his death I wondered how I could have missed the fact that he was so depressed as to be suicidal. I was disappointed that he planned his suicide in secret and by doing so had denied any of us the opportunity to intervene, to be his friend when he surely needed us most.

I hadn’t really thought of my old friend in a long while until last weekend when I watched a film called ‘The Bridge‘, a documentary about the large number of suicides that occur each year at the Golden Gate Bridge. By pure coincidence, and unknown to me at the time, the night I watched the documentary happened to be the ten-year anniversary of his suicide.

Had I known more about the documentary beforehand I probably wouldn’t have chosen to watch it. The rather morbid subject is not one I have any interest or curiosity in. However, I found it to be profoundly compelling in the way that it unraveled this subject that is something of a taboo.

Eric Steel, a documentary filmmaker, made the film after reading Tad Friend’s 2003 New Yorker article entitled ‘Jumpers; The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge.’

The Golden Gate Bridge is a notorious site for suicide, some say the most popular suicide location in the world. The 220 feet fall takes between 4 to 7 seconds and leads to an almost certain death as the jumper hit the water at 75-mph. Of the estimated 1,400 people who have jumped or fallen from the bridge since it was opened in 1937, only 26 have survived.

Seeking to highlight the darker side of this awesome bridge, which on average claims the life of one jumper almost every two weeks, Steel and his film crew trained cameras on the bridge filming people day and night throughout 2004. Of the 24 suicides that were made that year 23 were caught on camera by Steel and his crew with some of those being controversially shown in the documentary.

While the idea of showing the tragic last act of those who jumped from the bridge is undeniably difficult to stomach, the film handles the subject in a way that seems to connect us with the reality of suicide which might otherwise simply pass us by as just another news story, if indeed an editor even deemed the event to be newsworthy. The sense of isolation is almost tangible, not just in those who jump but also in the fact that the unfolding tragedy often goes unnoticed by people who are just a few feet away.

Suicide is very much a crisis-based decision, usually made at a time when it’s not unfair to say that, on the whole, the person involved lacks the ability to clearly see their situation in a wider context.

Kevin Hines, who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and survived, said in an interview that he had made a condition that would determine his fate that day. “If one person comes up to me and asks if I am okay, if I need any help, I would tell them everything and I would ask for help,” he said. At the bridge, after crying for the entire journey there, Hines was tapped on the shoulder by a woman. Failing to notice his distress she asked Hines to take her picture. He did so, then as she walked away he turned and leaped over the barrier.

The sense of isolation and loneliness would seem to be a common denominator in those who choose to take their own lives. At the home of one man who had jumped to his death a note was found on his bureau. It read ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’ Presumably nobody made that connection.

Though it’s clearly difficult to gauge, people who have survived suicide attempts claim to have regretted their decision to commit suicide the moment they passed the point of no return. Speaking of his jump from the Golden Gate Bridge amid a serious bout of depression in 1985, survivor Ken Baldwin said. “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable – except for having just jumped.”

Learning this leads me to wonder if my friend had similar regrets ten years ago as he gasped his last breaths in the cold and unforgiving darkness of the Irish Sea. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, though clearly, he didn’t see it that way. Had he been able to get through the crisis he found himself in he might very well be alive today. He could have married, become a father, and essentially lived an ordinary life in which his depression was merely a chapter.

It seems like the cruelest blow of all is that right at the moment when they cannot undo what they’ve done, the perspective which seems to be absent from the lives of the ‘jumpers’ comes rushing back in a fleeting moment of clarity that is soon over, forever.

[Video] Interview with director Eric Steel (Part 1) & (Part 2)
[Video] News report on proposed suicide barrier
[Audio] A jumper who survived tells his story
The Bridge – Movie website
IMDB : The Bridge
Wiki : The Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Statistical graphic of jumper hotspots
The Bridge of Death
The New Yorker : Jumpers
San Francisco Chronicle : Lethal Beauty
Survivor battles Golden Gate’s suicide lure
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA)
Samaritans (UK)

MoviesMonday, April 30th, 2007, (7:40 am)

I have to confess that before I watched the movie ‘Shut Up and Sing‘ I wasn’t particularly interested in the Dixie Chicks. That’s entirely forgivable on account of the fact that country music isn’t that popular here in the UK. However after thoroughly enjoying the movie I went out and bought the bands latest CD, ‘Taking the long way’, which is actually very good.

The trailer for the movie sparked my interest last year. It was supposed to be just another music film following a band on tour, but it became much more than that when, just nine days before American and British bombs rained down on Iraq amid global condemnation, lead singer Natalie Maines said on stage in London “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”

Maines comment was at the time met with cheers from her British audience. Millions of people had recently taken to the streets in the UK to protest Tony Blair’s insistence, against public will, to join America in invading Iraq and ridding it of weapons of mass destruction that turned out never to be there.

Back in the States country music stations stopped playing Dixie Chicks songs, radio stations held events where people could trash their Dixie Chicks records and CD’s, and people picketed the bands concerts with signs that said things like “If you support the Dixie Chicks you’re supporting traitors” and “Being ashamed of our President means being ashamed of our country”.

The President Bush’s approval rating was very hight at the time and very few public figures were willing to speak out against the the invasion of Iraq. The Dixie Chicks comments were viewed as a disrespectful and unpatriotic slap in the face of the President Bush, and the fact that the band was enjoying huge success in country music made the sin that much greater in the opinions of its base, the southern states, particularly Texas.

Of course, since Maines made that comment in 2003 the political landscape in America has dramatically changed. Support for the continuing occupation of Iraq has faded in the light of the apparent lies that the war seemed based upon, the fabrications about the war that continue to come to light, the out of control cost of the war, and the ever increasing military death toll that is well on it’s way to becoming 3500.

Movies that follow bands on tour are often only interesting to fans of the band in focus, but this movie manages to go far beyond that. In telling the personal story of the Dixie Chicks as they deal with the fallout of Maines comment, the film also captures the mood of America at the time and shows just how quickly that can change.

In the end the story goes full circle and returns to London at the start of a new tour. The final few moments of documentary (seen below) really connects you with the band members and their lasting friendship, and as Natalie Maines says the last words of the movie while standing once again on stage in London at what she calls the “scene of the crime”, you’re left smiling and very probably ready to get yourself a copy of the Dixie Chicks album which you might otherwise have never even looked at.

This is a movie that really is well worth watching, and more so given how opinions about the war have changed since the first bombs fell in Bagdad.

Shut Up and Sing
The Dixie Chicks
I will be home (A fallen soldiers story)

MoviesWednesday, March 28th, 2007, (11:13 pm)

Some people love books, but I’m more of a movie person myself. Movies that leave you feeling thoughtful are right up my street. Action and adventure movies, chick flicks, and comedy have their place too of course. But my favorite movies all follow a formula that my old friend Karen used to say made them what she called a ‘Simon film.’

That formula would be made up of at least one of the following: A narration, a death, and a piano driven score probably by composer Thomas Newman. Karen once pointed out that in all my favorite movies someone died and as I tried to prove her wrong, it soon became apparent that this is indeed true, someone always dies in a ‘Simon film.’

There are exceptions to this rule though. Nobody dies in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘, ‘High Fidelity‘ or ‘On Golden Pond‘ (Yes, I do like that film from 1981!). I was also about to write that despite the title nobody died in ‘Crash‘ either, but then I remembered one of the final scenes, the one with the young cop.

Endings are extremely important. Odd as this might sounds, I sometimes watch the last few minutes of my favorite movies end. So with that in mind I though I would share this strange pastime with you and share three of my favorite movie endings.
 

AMERICAN BEAUTY
Love it or loathe it, the ending of this film is really superb. Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, is a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis. He’s just been shot and killed. His narration then concludes the movie;

“I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time… For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars… And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined my street… Or my grandmother’s hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper… And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird… And Janie… And Janie… And… Carolyn.

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”


 

BLOW
Johnny Depp plays George Jung in this true story about the man who established the American cocaine market in the 1970’s. I took a bunch of people to see this movie and afterward one became quite annoyed at the fact that the movie leads you to feel somewhat sympathetic toward the drug baron whose actions have probably accounted for countless deaths in the drug world. But no in the end the final scene is truly arresting as Depp (playing Jung) looks back on his life of crime from prison;

“So in the end, was it worth it? Jesus Christ. How irreparably changed my life has become. It’s always the last days of summer and I’ve been left out in the cold with no door to get back in. I’ll grant you I’ve had more than my share of poignant moments. Life passes most people by when they’re busy making grand plans for it.

Throughout my lifetime I’ve left pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there’s almost barely enough to stay alive. But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded my talent. There are no more white horses or pretty ladies at my door.”

 

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
Quite simply the best most moving and inspirational end to any movie I have ever seen. I doubt any movie will ever top this one in my book, I’ve seen it more times than I can remember yet it still draws me and moves me every time I see it. Again, the movie is concluded by a narration from the main character ‘Red’, played by Morgan Freeman;

“I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”


 

Now that I see those three endings together the similarity is actually quite strinking. It leaves me wondering what these movie choices might actually say about me.

If you haven’t seen any of those movies then I guess maybe I just ruined the end for you, but honestly I don’t feel like it would take away from the actual movie itself. They’re all worth seeing, in fact if you haven’t seen The Shawshank Redemption then that simply a must! Trust me, you’ll thank me for that recommendation!

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