Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Films in 2005


How quickly the time flies! I'm fast approaching another trip away and so once again, I've decided to list the relatively restrained total of 42 films I've seen this year and dish out 'star' ratings (out of 5) to give you a hint of what I've enjoyed and what was a total waste of money in 2005.

I have to say, it has been a strange cinematic year with lots worth seeing but few outstanding flicks. Despite a number being unmissable at least once, there are precious little that I would definitely want to see again, but here goes:

5 stars: Unmissable!
4 stars: Definitely worth seeing
3 stars: Decent film
2 stars: Disappointing
1 star: Pants
No stars: Why was this released?

In date order - five star films highlighted in bold

The Aviator (***)
Million Dollar Baby (****)
Vera Drake (***)
Closer (***)
Ray (***)
2046 (**)
Ae Fond Kiss (****)
A Very Long Engagement (*****)
Somersault (**)
Kinsey (***)
Hotel Rwanda (*****)
Constantine (***)
The Downfall (*****)
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (***)
Sahara (***)
Bullet Boy (***)
The Sea Inside (****)
Mean Creek (****)
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (****)
Kingdom of Heaven (****)
The Jacket (****)
Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith (*)
Millions (***)
Mysterious Skin (***)
Mr & Mrs Smith (***)
Sin City (*****)
Batman Begins (****)
Maria Full of Grace (****)
Kung Fu Hustle (*****)
War of the Worlds (***)
Silver City (***)
Fantasic Four(*)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (****)
The Island (**)
Crash (****)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (***)
A History of Violence (****)
Serenity (****)
Domino (**)
Lord of War (****)
Primer (*****)
Broken Flowers (****)

Councillor hides as council and developers get another slating over Queens Market

Public Meeting, West Ham Football Club, Tuesday 15 November

After the aborted Green Street Community Forum public meeting
on 20 September (see earlier report), local residents were promised that Cllr June Leitch, who leads on the Queens Market development for the council, would return for a meeting in November devoted solely to the Market's future. Sadly that wasn't to be, the promise as worthless as the many others that the council has given on this important issue. Ms Leitch didn't have the courage to show her face, leaving Deputy Chief Executive John Wood and Nick Kay from the developers St Modwens to face the anger of those who turned up at West Ham Football Club last night.

Predicably, whilst claiming that no final decision has been made,
John Wood rejected any solution other than a PFI style agreement with St Modwen and warned that "the point of no return" was fast approaching. Equally predictably, Nick Kay tried to make out that the proposed development was some sort of 'act of benevolence' by his company and that Asda's involvement in the plans is really incredibly selfless, rather than part of their efforts to challenge the dominance of Tesco by copying its retail model. And, at the end of the meeting, there was a call for an indicative vote of those who supported the development plans, and not a single hand was raised. Most people could have predicted that too.

But after stitching up an opinion poll by MORI (which failed to ask those it surveyed whether they wanted the Market to be improved rather than decimated), it is clear that Newham Council isn't interested in what local people think. Any sense that there is a long history attached to the Market, that people genuinely care about its future and that consultation should be meaningful has long been abandoned.

It was interesting speaking to one of the local councillors after the meeting, who privately admitted his opposition to the redevelopment but said that he had no power to stop it and no willingness to risk the vengeful wrath of Mayor Sir Robin Wales by making his views public. He tried to argue that the Market is 'not a political issue' and that he just wanted to do what the majority wanted - but in truth it is probably the most political local issue in Newham in the run up to next year's local elections. The development of the Market is Sir Robin's project and it has exposed how the creation of an elected Mayor has been a disaster for local democracy. It will be interesting to see whether the other parties, especially Respect as the left alternative to New Labour, decide to campaign for a new referendum to abolish the post and reject the
enormous power placed in the hands of one individual, as part of handing back decision-making to the people of the borough.

Meanwhile, Friends of Queens Market is launching an Alternative Plan for Queens Market at a public meeting on Tuesday 29 November, at 6.30pm at Katherine Road Community Centre. Some of us are already running a book on whether our autocratic Mayor will ban councillors from attending.

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