In Praise Of Rocky Balboa

Some call the Rocky movies cheesy, predictable, formulaic. And, sure, they are.

When I tweet about them I always say that whichever one I’m watching is “The worst Rocky movie – except all the others.” And, sure, it is.

But the truth is the movies are great. The story is fun, the soundtrack is magnificent, the action is thrilling. They’re about overcoming the odds, never giving up, fighting for what’s important. The metaphor is clunky, but whether it’s fighting for recognition, love, respect, pride, friendship or to prove something to yourself, that’s what the movie is about. Not a dubiously refereed boxing match.

And for all the reliability of the formula, Stallone writes a great script: nuance, subplots, pathos and inspiring speech. When the unknown writer was hawking the script in the early 70s, it was turned down by several studios because [spoiler alert] Rocky didn’t win the fight. Those studios didn’t get it: it wasn’t about the fight, it was about taking your chance, doing your best. And it was a love story. Yo, Adrian.

People don’t watch the films because they think they’re about boxing. The people who do are missing out.

Not many film series can run for 6 films over 30 years, keep to their roots and get better each time. Look at Elm Street: same formula, increasingly rubbish. Look at Zombie flicks: successful ones have to reinvent.

And from an 8 year old movie, we’re beginning to recognise Rocky’s speech to his son as one of film’s great inspirational speeches. It’s about time we started recognising the rest of the movies as greats too.


Doctor Who

Stop reading now if you’re not a fan.┬áNo, really.

What just happened?

John Hurt, that’s what.

As I see it, inside his own timeline Matt Smith knew about John Hurt’s Doctor. Watch the show again, and you don’t see the eighth Doctor in that timeline.

Matt told the delightful Clara that John Hurt did something Bad, something that betrayed the name ‘Doctor’. There’s only one preceding Doctor that did that: 8. He ended the Time War in the Pyrrhic victory that destroyed not only the Daleks but the Time Lords and Gallifrey, too.

Could John Hurt be an aged, battle worn 8, just before he regenerated into Christopher Ecclestone’s 9? Just before we (and Rose Tyler) met him? 9 was a fresh regeneration: he kept checking himself in the mirror in Rose’s flat as if he’d never seen himself.

The idea of running from your own shame would certainly instil a fear of 8 for the Doctors afterwards.

What happens next?

Apart from setting up the 50th Anniversary Special we know Matt Smith is leaving. We’re told he’ll regenerate into 12 at Christmas. (Although a surprise early change in that Special would seem more fitting). As every other fan has an opinion about who could replace him, here’s mine. Largely so that in the unlikely event that I’m right, I can crow about it later.

Requirements: Male, tall, recognisable to the American market but not typecast in any role. English.

My tip: Paul Bettany. Perfect.

The Forgotten Song: The Next Time

Unless you’ve lived in a cave your whole life, there are some movies that you can’t help but have seen at least once:

  1. The Wizard Of Oz, where a girl arrives in a strange land, she kills the first person she meets, then teams up with a group of misfits to kill again.
  2. The Sound Of Music, where a failed nun reneges on her promises and seduces a local widower.
  3. And Summer Holiday, where a Rock And Roll star gets increasingly easy listening as he travels south.

Summer Holiday was on itv3 yesterday, and being a fading Rock and Roller myself, I naturally watched. There are famous songs in this movie: Summer Holiday (obviously), Bachelor Boy, and others. I don’t watch it often, and there’s a song in it that I always forget. It’s not just me, either: it’s never mentioned when other people talk about the movie. But it’s not all bad…

It’s called The Next Time. Enjoy.

Jimmy Stewart’s eye view of Rear Window

All the views Jimmy Stewart has from his Rear Window cleverly knitted together.

It’s a great movie, bringing together one of the greatest movie actors and one of the greatest movie directors. This compile is just a bonus.

Rear Window Timelapse from Jeff Desom on Vimeo.