Film fanatics and friends Fred Sullivan and Yasser Akram are on a mission to watch 25 of one another’s favourite movies. Each week they will watch one movie each and then get together to discuss what they have seen. So far, they have visited China, France, Morocco, Kazakhstan, the English countryside and the human soul itself, and it’s all been here for you to enjoy.
It’s the fourth week, and after two genuine cinematic landmarks last week, there is a lot to live up to for this week’s choices. First up is Yasser’s pick for Fred, and it’s the most recent movie on either list.
You can read the entires from previous week by checking out the archives on the left of the screen.
Fred: ‘War Horse‘.
FS: It must have had quite an impact on you to be included.
YA: I first watched it a couple of months ago, and I watched it again this week. Same… defo in my top 25. Your thoughts?
FS: Spielberg found himself between a rock and a hard place. He had to sanatise the brutality of the First World War so that the film appealed to children, and he used some clever tricks to achieve that. However, I felt he also wanted to include some full-on, ‘Saving Private Ryan‘-style battle scenes so he ended up somewhere in the middle. Lots of death with no gore. It made it all quite unrealistic.
FS: Yes. There was a touch of the old magic.
YA: I thought Spielberg found himself again with this picture.
FS: I think he will struggle to get back to what he was. It’s like when a legendary rock band release a new album, and everyone says ‘Oh! It’s their return to form – Five stars’. Then, three years later, the same people are slagging off the album and saying their latest is ‘their best since their era of greatness – Five stars’.
YA: I absolutely adore this film.
FS: We are all willing him to be great again.
YA: I think you’ll find with many films on my list that they evoke emotion. It’s not often you find a movie where an animal can stir your feelings, but Joey did that for me. He was a noble character.
FS: I knew the film was supposed to make me feel something, make me cry, make me get all emotional but it just didn’t happen.
FS: The horses in the film were amazing, beautiful animals, but the way they humanised them was odd. There were some laboured shots of horses looking pensive or angry. It just didn’t tug my heart-strings.
YA: Oh dear! I thought they looked natural because they pulled something inside me.
FS: There was one part where the horse are pulling heavy artillery up a hill…
FS: … and Joey saves another horse from having to do the hard work. There is a shot of Joey turning as if to say ‘it’s okay. I’ve got this. I’ve got your back’. No.
YA: You heartless fuck.
YA: I watched ‘War Horse’ and found I could connect with Joey more than with most of today’s ‘heartfelt’ performances.
FS: The human characters – you were left with a choice of one to care about, as most of them were in the film for ten minutes. If you didn’t care about Albie (Jeremy Irvine) you were done for. I thought he was pathetic.
YA: (laughs) Devonshire farmboys just don’t do it for you?
FS: You’re 19, on the churned up heap of mud and body parts that was Western Europe and you are still wondering where your horse is. I don’t buy it.
YA: At the risk of sounding redundant, I’m afraid I must say this again: You heartless fuck!
YA: Mate, part of me was rooting for you to love this film.
FS: I really wanted to.
YA: The soundtrack is immense. John Williams – 80 and still killing it.
FS: It was good, but it didn’t fit the film. It was too American, it sounded like Aaron Copland.
FS: It looked great, and, as soon as the war started, I can honestly say I was never bored.
YA: Not for you, then?
FS: I’d watch it again in a couple of years. It was just a bit average. Richard Curtis’ involvement probably didn’t help. He lays sentimentality on with a trowel, though I haven’t read the book or seen the play so that might be unfair.
YA: That’s disappointing.
YA: I like Joey’s adventures, the people he meets, how he affects their lives. I liked the part where the English and German soldiers get together to help him.
FS: That was the one section that did upset me a little bit.
YA: I just like how the story comes together around a central character that isn’t a human. There’s some good short performances – Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch…
FS: It’s a shame they weren’t in it more, but that’s the type of film it was – portmanteau – is that the word?
YA: Is that A word?
YA: Do your worst. Rate it, arr kid.
FS: I think 5 would be harsh so I am giving it 6/10. It promised so much, but failed to fully deliver on anything. The animal performers were extraordinary and there was good moments, but it was ultimately disappointing.
Look out for part two of this week’s Film Club later this week.