Friday, 26 May 2017

TMP Television Edition: Time Travel

There aren't that many TV shows out there that are specifically about time travel. There may be the odd episode but... time travel, I find is more a of movie game. I did want to use Outlander again but I thought I'd challenge myself. Saying that, I think I've used all three picks before...

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at Wandering Through the Shelves

I much prefer the genius of Futurama than the never ending Simpsons. I know they came first and weren't cancelled multiple times but Futurama has continous wit and personality as well as bizarre surprises and the fact its set in the future, literally anything can happen to the Planet Express team. For those not familiar with this slice of awesome-ness, it all begins on New Year's Eve in 1999 when 25 year old Pizza delivery guy Philip J. Fry ends up frozen in a cryogenic pod that opens in 2999. He has best friend, Bender, a foul mouthed alcoholic fueled bending unit robot and a friend/co-worker/later girlfriend Leela, a one eyed alien pilot (later to be discovered, a mutant). Together they are part of the Planet Express delivery crew along with other weird and wonderful characters. There are specific episodes where time travel is used, such as the episode where Fry and the crew travel back to the 40s on Earth and Fry becomes his own grandfather. With 8 glorious seasons and some comics to boot, it seems like this great show has been put on the 'what a great time that was' shelf.

I've mentioned this before but I'll say it all again, Fringe is amazing (except season 5). My friend got me to watch 3 episodes of season 1 back in uni, which were great but I didn't pick the show up again until years later when the whole thing appeared on Netflix. I was hooked!!! I loved this show so much I rewatched it on repeat. It was the same friend who suggested both Fringe and Battlestar Galatica which I used to rewatch every year until Fringe took over (now Sense8 has that spot, then most likely it will become Stranger Things). Starting out as a 'task force' to investigate strange happenings with an FBI agent, a so called mad scientist and his genius son, the series branched out to parallel universes and alternate timelines as well as fringe science. Seasons 1-4 were amazing but 5 was just so off, it kinda ruined it so, my advice, just watch til 4.

Ashes to Ashes 
I grew obsessed with this show during Uni (yes another one). Before TV was so readily available on the internet, every week, I'd settle in front of my laptop to catch up on BBC Iplayer, which was really new at the time. I didn't get into Life on Mars but I'm a Keely Hawes fan (from her Spooks days) and I do love an 80s era drama AND police dramas, mixed with time travel and a David Bowie theme running through. Alex, a police officer gets shot in modern day which sends her back to the 80s where she meets familiar named people after studying Sam Tyler's case.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Around the World: Sweden

As the trailer suggests, this film really is for anyone who is 13 years old, was 13 years old or who will be 13 years old. Especially if you're a girl.

Known for his sometimes deep and depressing films, Lukas Moodysson's We Are the Best takes a cheerful and somewhat upbeat turn. Based on Moodysson's wife, Coco Moodysson's graphic novel 'Never Goodnight', the story is about best friends Bobo and Klara, two 13 year old punks in the 80s. Cutting their own hair, listening to music they are told is dead, bounds of engery they stand out from the crowd for more than one reason. When they decide to start a band (to prove a point first of all) they realise they can't play any instruments. They befriend outsider, devout Christian, Hedvig, a talented muscian and singer. Bringing her into the punk world, the three friends are unstoppable.

There isn't often a film that can illustrate how you felt at 13 years old. Even though I wasn't a punk, I was treated as outside the norm for my love of films (I went to an all girls school where they were all obsessed with 8 Mile and Big Daddy). I can easily relate to this story. I read and wrote my own post about the lack of films aimed at girls and I think We Are the Best should be shown to a younger audience so that they know there is an alternative to the dolls, make up and plastic lifestyle and they shouldn't be afraid or ashamed of it. They're hair may seem outrageous but to me, they look great! If only girls and teens were able to express themselves as freely as these three.

The girls all have a great energy and clear identity which is refreshing and reassuring to see that stories about girls, not teens, not young adults, not women, girls is still alive and compelling. Although there are dramatic moments and a mishap with fighting over boys, it is fun and the music is actually quite good in the end. They are the best!

Next up... check out all the films HERE.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Love Movies, Make Movies

 Late Nights at the Movies is a timeless film noir short film set in a cinema. An assassin awaits the messenger from her latest client. 

I could say, it feels like yesterday that I finished draft one of 'Late Nights at the Movies' but in fact I first started this short story, then turned into a short script, 4 years ago. Ideas come and go, you feel passionate about them and can't let them go. Others you think about and write about furiously for a week then forget they exist. Late Nights was the former, which is always a good sign.

Like all great stories, ‘Late Nights at the Movies’ was an idea that came to me at 2am one morning. After writing all night I was running out of steam. I wanted my character to be something unexpected and I really wanted to write my own version of a hitman/assassin story. I thought back to all the times I had been in the cinema, a perfect location for a clandestine meeting to take place, and imagined that this character would go to late night showings to escape her ‘day job’. Slowly slowly, the character of Livien was born. At first the story was meant to be told across a series of short stories but after a few people telling me ‘this would work great as a film’ I adapted it for the screen. The film is inspired by the genre Film Noir and of course, stories about hitmen and assassins.

We (with my partner in crime/production, Emily Attwood) are in pre-production of our short film, 'Late Nights at the Movies'. Having worked together on previous shorts 'Liberty' and 'Cass', both part of a series of short films about zombies, we knew we could make the film happen. We are both producing and directing with Emily editing. We also have Chris Young, our DoP who shot my award wining film, Space Detective

As there is next to no funding opportunites for short films, especially for indie filmmakers, we have turned to Kickstarter to get our crowd funding campaign out there!

We have been lucky enough to source locations for free and have some equipment as well our ever supportive families BUT in order to make the film happen we need to abide by the golden rule; always feed and water the cast & crew. The funding we hope to raise will mainly go to food and travel costs for our cast and crew. Our budget isn't outrageous, we're not asking for a steadicam or limos for the cast, just exactly what we need.

So far we have had 11 amazing backers donate to the film and we cannot thank them enough. Thank you all again!

BUT the painful truth is, we have 23 days to go and we need to make the £800 target or we get nothing. It is all or nothing.

Emily and I are doing this because we love movies and we love making movies. Once the film is made we fully intend to send it off to festivals and host a screening BUT before we can do this, we need everyone's support.

Our campaign can be found HERE along with all the rewards on offer to all the amazing backers.

You can keep up to date with the campaign and the film's progress with our Facebook page, Raar! Films Twitter as well as tweets from both Emily  @EmAttwoodFilm and myself @HoganShogan 

In advance, thank you for supporting a couple of filmmakers and their project!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Renaissance (14th to the 17th century)

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at Wandering Through the Shelves

Lady Jane
I think I've used this film before but as it turns out I've not seen that many Renaissance films after all, this was my go to. I have a tender spot for this film, mostly because the cast is brilliant and I especially love Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes (where did this guy go??). Poor Lady Jane Grey, forced into marriage, forced into taking the crown and ends up beheaded.

The New World
To be honest, I watched this film without knowing what Terrance Malik was like. I was also intrigued to see the Pocahontas story play out. The film was disappointingly slow and lacked heart. Although I did enjoy the few scenes with Pocahontus before she 'joins' Jamestown folk. There are some beautiful images and scenary BUT it wasn't an engaging film.

Witchfinder General
This was a film I had to watch in my first of college in Film Studies. Set during the height of the witch trials in England and the English Civil War, the historical figure, Matthew Hopkins appoints himself as Witchfinder General travelling from village to village accusing innocent people and charging the local magistrates for the work. Played to hideous disgusting perfection by Vincent Price, the film is a cult hit! We had to watch this and 'Bullet Boy' and write about one or the other for coursework. I didn't like either film but Witchfinder General has a special something about it. It was the last film made by Michael Reeves who died at aged 25 from drugs. He made three films in his short career and life, all of which are horror and made in the 'swinging' 60s. I returned to him as a subject as I found his work and potential fascinating. I made a pre production pack including a budget for a documentary about Reeves' life and career. I think I still have the documentary research somewhere.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Blind Spot Series: The Commitments

Missed last month which means double this month, starting with the Irish classic, The Commitments; saviours of soul.

The Commitments is a film I have had in the back of mind and reminded myself to watch it sometime. No time like the present, especially when you have a Blind Spot list to make. I knew the song 'Mustang Sally' that is sung by the band before I saw the film and I've seen the trailer countless times. I remember walking past the Palace Theatre in London (its near a favourite shop of mine and right next to Soho) all the time when the musical was on and wondering what it was all about. Having seen the film, I really wish I had seen the stage show, even of the critics weren't so kind.

There are some films where I deem very British and quite possibley could go over some people's heads and I would agree that this is also the case with Scottish, Welsh and Irish films too. This is a very (delightfully so) Irish story about one man who brings together a group of talented musicians who light up the stage but tear apart the back stage.

Based on Roddy Doyle's 1987 novel of the same name about working class people in Dublin. Jimmy Rabbitte is music fanatic who is on the dole. After two musician friends ask for his help, he decides to create soul band. He gathers together an unlikely group who actaully are a huge hit in Dublin. But the group fighting gets worse as they become more successful and Jimmy tries to keep everyone together.

The group is made up of a quiet pianist who is studying to be a doctor, two guitarists who previously played at weddings, a saxaphonist who would rather play jazz, a weird older trumpet player who has played with all the greats, or so he says, bus conductor singer who has an amazing voice, three back up singers who all seem to be under the trumpet players spell and a drummer who would be better suited to punk band, BUT together they are amazing. It is a fantastic groups of, dare I say it, misfits who are as violent and short tempered as they are amazing musicians.

Jimmy is the glue that keeps them all together and the wheels that keeps them turning. His enthusiasm for the band and the music and his determination to bring sould to Dublin is what drives the film, as well as the great music. His moments alone talking into the mirror as if he being interviewed by Terry Wogan are brilliantly casual. When interutpted by his family he always tells them to 'Shut up, I'm being interviewed'.

Its not surprise that the film won four BAFTAs including best film, but the fact that the film made it across the pond and was nominated for Best Film Editing at the Oscars seems odd. For me, it feels like a homestead movie, a bit like how Trainspotting was for Scotland, but we all know who huge that got. What was interesting was that most of the cast were inexperienced and mainly brought in for their musical talents. Only the three back up singers seem to carry on acting, as well as singers, while the rest continued on with the music. The ending of the film (different from the novel slightly) has Jimmy relate the fates of each band member as they all went their separate ways, quite similiar to how the real cast went. It makes you wish they'd reunite for one night only, just one more time.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers.

Around the World: Spain

Sometimes I think that the best thrillers involve a huge plot centering around a few people. Other times, the best thrillers involve a conspiracy where the whole world or a country are involved or in danger BUT sometimes, a great thriller just needs, a few people trapped in a room. Welcome to Fermat's Room.

I had planned on a different film for Spain but as this film arrived in the post first, this was the winner.

Fermat's Room is about four brilliant mathematicians who are all invited by the mysterious Fermat to a even more mysterious gathering. The four guests are each given nicknames of famous historical figures and are instructed not to talk about themselves to each other. But no sooner has their supposed host introduced himself he is called away, leaving the four guests locked in room. They are instructed to solve complex puzzles in a short amount of time, which they comply with. But soon they realise the walls moving in. With every second they take to resolve the puzzles the walls move closer in. Not only are they running out of time but they also have to find out why they are even there.

The story is so simple yet its filled with complicated maths questions and theories. Of course each character is connected in some way or other but that actually feels like a hindrance on them trying to get out of the room. It is like all thrillers in a way. Four 'strangers' have to work together to escape a trap as well as discover the real reason for them being there. The design of the film and set is as impressive as the cast who work well as a team and as well as strangers at a party. The extras on the DVD include layout and plans of the room which is fascinating, especially as I used to love drawing floor plans (weird hobby I know).

A familiar yet enjoyable thriller set in one room. Minimal, is sometimes best.

Next up... check out all the films HERE.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Light and Dark: A Final Girls double bill

Presented by The Final Girls, fast becoming my favourite collective, opening my eyes up to horror in cinema. A genre I've never been fond of but a few events under their guidance and another planned (partnering with Park Circus) they are showing another side to horror I can appreciate. And yes, feminism is involved.

Side note; The Final Girls are actually celebrating their birthday next week on 13th May to discuss why they love horror, more info HERE. Happy Birthday girls!

With the annoucement that The Final Girls were taking auteur Anna Biller's The Love Witch on tour around the UK, it was obvious this collective was going place and not just literally. After showing keen interest in seeing the film online and promptly buying tickets, to my delight, I saw that Empire magazine had given the tour and film a full page ad. Skip ahead to the screening, The Prince Charles, a favourite cinema haunt of mine, the film was sold out (always a good sign) and not only did the attendees get the fantastic zine (doubled as a poster) but there were some weird and wonderful art/promo cards too. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE art and promo cards.

Elaine (played to perfection by Samantha Robinson), wants to start a fresh in a new town and leave her dead husband behind. She happens to be a beautiful young witch and is desparate to find real love. In fact she craves love. She settles into her new home, an amazingly decorated apartments and makes makes remedies and potions to sell as well as use on unsuspecting men who grab her attention. She ends up with a string of hapless love sick victims behind her. Her desperation to be loved drives her to the brink of insanity and murder. When all she really wanted was her fantasy to come true.

The film has been called many things including kitsch, feminist, fantasy and in a way the film, to me, embodies all this and more. Less horror and more fantasy and all presented on amazing film, making it feel like you've stepped back in time to the 60s/70s. It was like being in a dream where everything is covered in a smokey haze and witches are more like hippies and despite the cruelties and crimes that occur, you aren't disturbed. When the film ended, I did find my self snapping back to reality and had barely constructed my feelings about the film when Anna Biller herself appeared on the big screen for a Q&A skype chat. When she talked about the story and the character of Elaine, it was as if we, the audience, had watched a whole other movie. Anna Biller is inspiring as she researched the film for several years and took a few more to make her vision come to life. She wrote, directed, made the costumes and props and was responsible for much of the production design too. An amazing talented filmmaker.

A few weeks later, The Final Girls, partnering up with Park Circus, presented a very different film saying that you won't want to be near anyone by the time the film ends. Calling it wonderfully creepy was an understatment.

Francisca is brought up in a remote farm house by her elderly parents. Her mother is a skilled surgeon and teaches Francisca how to remove eyes from dead animals. One terrible day a stranger murders her mother in front of her. Her father takes revenge by beating the man to almost death and chains him up in the barn. Francisa uses the skills her mother taught her to silence the murderer who she now refers to as her best friend. Francisca remains isolated over the years, her father barely speaking, eventually dying, presumably from old age. Francisca tries to find ways to become less lonely but doesn't know who to function in normal society. Still missing her mother terribly, Francisca talks to her asking her for guidance. 

This black and white horror story is the directoral debut feature from Nicolas Pesce who let The Final Girls screen his own 35mm copy of the film he made himself as the film as I understand was not shot on film.  The story does pose the question whether it is nature or nurture that makes a person who they are. In this case I believe it was always in Francisca's nature to become who she was. The horrific incident when she was younger probably made an impact but I think from the start you can see she isn't quite right. The film is disturbing to say the least. The long lasting shots linger in the mind and quite hard to shake off even after the film has long since ended. The unfortunate feeling from the film is that there is no connection between Francisca and the audience, who are left as helpless as some of her victims, just made to watch what happens. The ending brings the film full circle and there is hope that Francisca is punished for her actions but it isn't enough that it happens off screen. Francisca is a serial killer but she unlike other immortalised on screen. She seems like a victim and even takes twisted revenge on her mother's killer but later on her actions contradict this revenge. She is helpless yet deadly in her exiled exsistant. It is a beautifully shot film but the story and characters make it a one time only watch. In Francisca's case it is definitely her nature that tears through the screen.