These little insights into my head-space, by way of my DVD collection, seem quite popular (judging by web-stats), so here's another one. This time the shelf is brought to you by the letters "G" and "H"... oh, and a "I".
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966, dir Sergio Leone) I've never liked Westerns, but I had an unfathomable urge to buy this when I saw it – hoping to be blown away by a classic of the genre. I turned it off after 20 minutes. It took 3:10 To Yuma (2007) to get me interested in this genre.
The Green Mile (1999, dir Frank Darabont) A great film based on a Stephen King novel, directed by Darabont, who also adapted King's prison-set Shawshank Redemption story for the movies. I like the performances and there are some memorable moments along the way, but it's just a shame it’s far too long.
The Grudge (2004, dir Takashi Shimizu) A guilty pleasure, really. This is the US remake with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I know it's cookie-cutter Americanized J-Horror, but it's from the same Japanese director, and there's a special reason I bought it: I have very fond memories of watching this in the cinema. The audiences I was with yelped, screamed and laughed throughout – and it actually helped the film. You don't get that experience with the DVD so much, but the cinema experience is still seared into my memory. I had good fun with this film.
Guillermo Del Toro Collection: Cronos, The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth (1993, 2001, 2006) I never usually buy box-sets like this (as you're usually better off buying each film individually, in terms of extras at least), but I couldn't resist three Del Toro classics for £30. I didn't care much for Cronos (nice ideas, just too slow), Devil's Backbone was interesting and creepy at times, but Pan's Labyrinth is the stand-out. A great fairy tale for grown-ups (as every review mentions), but it's true. Not a masterpiece, though, sorry. I saw this box-set in HMV for £15 recently. Grrrr. Bargain, if you haven't seen these films. , ,
House Of Flying Daggers (2004, dir Yimou Zhang) One of the better examples of the post-Crouching Dragon vogue for Chinese wire-fu historical action romances. Sumptuous scenery, an entertaining love-story, and some great fights. Recommended.
Hostel (2005, dir Eli Roth) I can see why so-called "torture porn" made a splash after Saw, but Hostel really disappointed me. It would have made a brilliant short story from a horror writer, in an anthology of creepy tales – but it doesn't really sustain a film. The idea is great, there are a few nasty scenes, but it's all a bit too obvious for my taste.
Hannibal (2001, Ridley Scott) After reading the book (which I enjoyed), I thought Ridley Scott could whip Thomas Harris' story into shape. He didn't. But, at the time, I kind of enjoyed Hannibal on a superficial level, and Anthony Hopkins gives a fun performances. I love Julianne Moore, but she's miscast here, and there are some scenes from the book I wish had made it into the screenplay. Flawed but watchable, if a pale shadow compared to Silence Of The Lambs.
Harry Potter & The Sorceror's Stone (2001, dir Christopher Columbus) I've never read any of the Harry Potter books (viewing them as The Worst Witch with a boy for many years), but I do enjoy the films. And I'm sure the books are every bit as great as people say they are. The first film is a great accomplishments (in terms of providing a spine for the entire franchise), but is pretty bland and empty compared to the more recent efforts. And yes, this is the Region 1 Sorceror's Stone, not the Region 2 Philosopher's Stone. The shame.
Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets (2002, dir Christopher Columbus) It's more of the same, really – but with a more elaborate, even sillier plot. I enjoyed it more than Stone, but only just.
Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004, dir Alfonso Cuaron) Ah, now this was more like it! Cuaron shakes up the Potter aesthetic to chilly levels and gets decent performances from the cast, helped immensely by the more immersive plot. A really great film.
Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire (2005, dir Mike Newell) In the cinema, I really enjoyed this, but it doesn't withstand multiple viewings. Still solid, but only really worth watching for the excellent graveyard confrontation between Harry and Voldemort.
Hellboy (2004, dir Guillermo Del Toro) I wasn't very familiar with the Hellboy comic-books, but loved Del Toro's work with Blade II. This is a fun film, but the plot isn't very interesting – meaning there are cool creations, performed well by the actors – all running around not doing much.
Hero (2002, dir Yimou Zhang) Excellent Chinese martial arts drama with Jet Li; once again gorgeous to look at, with an interesting storyline and some more snazzy fight sequences. I preferred House Of Flying Daggers, but I reckon Hero's better than overrated Crouching Tiger.
Hollow Man (2000, dir Paul Verhoeven) Okay, it's bad, but the effects are excellent, and the logic of someone turning invisible was great fun to watch. Finally, visual effects could do justice to the concept. But, despite Kevin Bacon's attempts, and Paul Verhoeven behind the camera – it's just kind of limp. A special effects showreel in need of a story.
Hulk (2003, dir Ang Lee) I like it. It was different. It took a chance. The extended finale is fantastic, and the integration of "Absorbing Man" into the plot took me by surprise. It's just not what peopled wanted from a Hulk film (hence this year's gruffer, dumber reset/sequel). I can see why people hate it, and why people love it. I'm somewhere in-between.
Identity (2003, dir James Mangold) A good example of a little-known, under-the-radar cinema release that found an appreciative audience on DVD. It's a solid, entertaining, mysterious piece of horror, with good performances and a script that hangs together surprisingly well. It's basically one of those films you catch on late-night TV, or take a chance on with a DVD, then find yourself recommending it rabidly to friends. Great ending, too. I'm glad I took the risk. And keep an eye on Mangold -- he went on to do the excellent 3:10 To Yuma remake.
A shelf dominated by Harry Potter, Guillermo Del Toro and Yimou Zhang, which is no bad thing. But yes, I kind of gave up buying Potter DVDs when Order Of The Phoenix came along. All a bit dark and fairytale-esque on this shelf, isn't it. Shelf #7 will be along soon.