Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Around the World: Ireland


The next film in my Around the World venture is closer to home in Ireland and a hell of a lot more accessible than Scottish and Welsh films, which are proving difficult to find a copy of. My Name is Emily, has beyond annoying title which doesn't hint at the story or content or topic apart from the fact its about a girl named Emily. 

 
Recognized as Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books/films, Evanna Lynch is Emily; a teenager living with foster parents after her dad (Michael Smiley) is committed to a psychiatric institution. She reminisces and recalls her life when her dad was successful author and lecturer but after my mother died in an accident, he started to lose his grip on reality. She has inherited his philosophical outlook on life and is wise beyond her years and elders at times, but is otherwise seen as sad and closed off. She catches her classmate, Arden’s eye at school and attempts to befriend her. He is bewitched by her and says, when he sees her, he ‘wants to disappear into the pores of her pale skin’ and that anyone who has been electrocuted would understand how he feels. When Emily doesn’t receive a letter from her father on her birthday she decides to travel to the institution and break him out. She asks Arden to help her and seeing as he has his own issues at home and wants to escape, the two go on a road trip.


Part road trip movie and part self-discovery and part father daughter drama but by no means over dramatic. The cast are perfect, especially the father daughter parts as Lynch and Smiley really do look like they could be related. There is nothing imposing about the characters, as they seem developed but lack delicate detail, which makes the story easy to follow and enjoy. But there is a danger of it becoming too sweet and plain at the same time. As it is mainly about two teenagers going on a road trip, I am reluctant to use the words ‘coming of age film’ as those words are over used and to be honest, they are already of age.  Despite Emily’s dad being the author of ‘Swimming and Sex’, there is also the air of innocence about the duo. He likes her but he never tries it on with her and eventually she opens up to him and is satisfactory and downplayed. 

Of course it wouldn’t be Ireland without a few beautiful landscape shots to round of the story.

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


Friday, 17 March 2017

7 Years

On the 17th March 2011 I started a blog...

7 years ago it all began. I started it as a way to keep a diary of my last few months at University while I wrote my dissertation and made my final year film. I thought it could serve as a place to keep my portfolio (of the little work I had) for after Uni. It turned into a different beast where I wrote rambling thoughts, stories and where I could talk about film. Now it's grown up it be more of the same except now, its all about film and a bit of TV thrown in too.

I think I ramble on about this story about 'where it all started' each year or I simply forget I have a blogaversary. Many things have changed from 7 years ago though...






















The changes? Well, obviously the name. The original name was amusing at first but as time went by it grew less relevant and more like a private joke no one would get unless you were there at the time. The new name is what its all about.


Working away at my usual Watch List, the occasional Remake vs Original and the Blind Spot series, but my new venture, Around the World is proving to be something else. Its slow going at the moment, mostly due to time (day job taking over right now, mentally) but its opening my mind up to films I never would have thought about. Usually led by story, looking at different countries first then story may seem unfair but discovering whats out there is more fascinating than I expected.

Apart from my posts and my growing film knowledge and discovering, I have been in pre production on my new short film with my friend aka Close Encounters of the 35mm Kind, written by me, produced and directed by us and edited by her, we'll be kicking off our crowdfunding campaign in the coming months (not many if any funding options out there). Keep your eyes peeled for 'Late Nights at the Movies'.

I'll try and start something new each year but this year is pretty much jam packed! Here's to another 7 and more years!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Ancient World (3600 BC – 500 AD)


This was a difficult week. The only films I could come up with were either set in Rome or Greece or in the Middle East. But there are some gems set in this time.

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

Agora
Its all about religion and science. Rachel Weisz is Hypathia, a Greek mathematician who teaches at the school for future leaders in Alexandria. But there is unrest when the Christians over throw the city. Hypathia's former slave and pupils have converted by she refuses and continues to study the movements of the Earth believing it to be round etc. Only saw it once but I remember thinking it was ok, but not much else.

The Prince of Egypt
I am always singing the songs from this film. They are deep and meaningful and the artwork of this film is so beautiful. I usually steer clear of Biblical stories and films but with music and amazing voices I could resist a version of Moses. After Pharaoh declares a culling of Hebrews, Moses mother saves him but putting him in a basket and in the river. He is found by Pharaoh's wife and he raised as one of the family. But when he grows up and learns his true heritage, Moses disappears into the desert. He starts a new life as a shepherd but this is where God asks him to save his people. Thus begins the story of Moses. He brings the plagues and the amazing parting of the sea is not to be missed.
Gladiator
 'Are you not entertained?' We all know the speeches and the long names. This is one of those films where you forget just how good it was. Ridley Scott was on top of the world with this one, as was Russell Crowe after the film came out. Story of about a Gladiator but its no Sparticus. The root of this film is jealousy. Maximus Decimus Meridius, loyal general to Marcus Aurelius is betrayed by his son Commodus who kills his family and send him off to be a slave, but Maximus rises up through the ranks of gladiators to reek revenge. I know Crowe is the star here but Joaquin Phoenix was also Oscar nominated for his role and he should have won. Three time Oscar/BAFTA nominee and no win? Why isn't there a campaigne for him to win? Brilliant actor.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Blind Spot Series: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert


I think there is a trend with my picks this year as so far I've said 'I can't believe I haven't seen this film'. Priscilla is no different. Once seen a fabulous sounding road trip movie when I was younger now a fantastic story of discovery (for myself) and the realisation that this film existed in the 90s. The story has spanned the globe through the power of music and theatre and nothing is more powerful than that. In fact another of my picks for Blind Spot was turned into a sensation through musical theatre but more of that later in the year. Priscilla has been known as the film about three drag queens going on a road trip to Alice Springs. All fans and admirers of the film know it's much more.

Tick, a drag queen from Sydney is asked to perform at a venue in Alice Springs. After her husband dies unexpectedly he convinces Bernadette to accompany him on the trip and show. Young Adam joins the duo on the road on the bus christened 'Priscilla' set for a desert adventure. On the way they get to rehearse they're cabaret act with fantastic rendition of 'I Will Survive' and Bob the mechanic, a fan,  who joins them on their quest.

It's not all glitz and amazing costumes, these three are artists. Even though they try to dumb themselves down by saying they lipsync to other people's songs and dress in women's clothes, they are performers and go all out for the smallest of shows. Each of them have their own issues and insecurities which are explored but to the point of dramatising them which allows the film to explore the characters as well as the bigger issues of intolerance. 


It's always a delight to see actors step outside their 'comfort' zone but when you're seeing actors play roles they played before they were household Hollywood names you start to yearn for them to go back to how they were. Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terrace Stamp each stand out in their own way and are never over shadowed by each other. They share the screen together and despite the character squabbles they work perfect harmony with each other.


One of the crowning glory moments in the film is when Tick realises his son he barely knows accepts who is without a second thought. Of course this would be a bit of a fairytale ending or beginning depending on how you look at it, but within the film, it's a moment of relief and the hope things will be ok for this character. 

A favourite scene of mine is where the three companions climb King's Canyon to fulfil Adam's dream of climbing up in full drag. It's visually fantastic but it's also satisfying that they were able to do so. A triumphant end to epic journey.


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.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Around the World: Turkey


What caught my eye about Onve Upon a Time in Anatolia wasn't it's title that hinted at something dark and fairytale like. It wasn't the story that followed the poilce, a doctor, a prosecutor and the suspects during a night and a day of a murder case. It was the superficial cover of the DVD. The picture featured a woman looking out at a village the rolling countryside beyond. This image doesn't appear in the actual film.

Taking place over a night and day, a group of men search through the night looking for a dead body that two suspects have buried somewhere in the Anatolian steppe. As well as the two suspects, police officers, a doctor, a prosecutor, grave diggers and gendarmerie forces drive from place to place, while sharing insights into their lives with each other. The chief of police has a sick child but all he can think about his being embarassed in front of the prosecutor. The prosecutor, shares a story a woman who predicted her death 5 months before it happened, a thinly disguised story about his own wife who may or may not have killed herself becouse of his unfaithfulness. The doctor is the calming factor throughout, showing kindness where others do not and choosing to not include possible case changing facts during the autopsy.


Though made bleak becuase of the subject matter, the countryside is beautiful. Even with its bare fields and lack of trees, the orange and brown makes it feel like eternal Autumn. There is far more going on that meets the eye and some statements are made with just looks and small actions. It is beautifully under played at times and at others tiring to watch as it does drag on. The story is slow and although there is urgentcy to find the body and take it to the autopsy, the only character who seems rushed is the chief of police. It may be a crime story but it plays out like a slow burning thriller. Could have been shorter and just as affective and beautifully shot.

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



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

International Women's Day


As I am unable to not miss work I will find something red to wear (somehow) in solidarity for women all over the world taking part in A Day Without Women. But I knew this year I knew I needed to make a bigger mark on International Women's Day and what better way to do this than by celebrating women at a Bechdel Test Fest screening. Double screening by the way.

The two films picked for the epic double screening was...


9 to 5 begins with varies women on their way to work to the fantastic song by Dolly Parton (who also stars). Jane Fonda is Judy, the new girl lady in the office having neede work after her divorce. She quickly becomes friends with Lily Tomlin's Violet, a hardworking, amazingly sarcastic straight talking veteran of the company yet she is still refused a promotion and has trained most of the managers. It is pretty obvious from the moment you meet him that their boss, Mr Hart is an awful person, 'a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot'. He is also sexually harassing his assistant, Doralee constantly and starts telling people that he's sleeping with her. But after all three women storm out of the office after being mistreated or witnessing his treatment, they all get drunk and bond. They dream up ways to kill the boss and laugh about it the next day. But when Violet accidently puts rat poison in Mr Hart's coffee, things take a hilarious turn involving picking up the wrong corpse at the hospital, chaining Mr Hart up in his house for weeks and blackmailing him, all the while making improvements around the office. Its a fantastic film and very funny. Even though it was released in 1980, this could, with a few adjustments, could be a modern story. What's great about the characters is that they stick together to achieve something creative and that helps others too. There is even a dig about equal pay and how they'll tackle that problem next. But the sting is that women are still paid less than men in America.

Working Girl was better the second time around and thats mainly to do with the cinema. The big screen is always better. Melaine Griffith is Tess, who lives in Staten Island and takes the ferry to work as stockbroker's secretary. She has been working hard for years, going to night school to get her degree and reads newspapers, doing her own research and reading up about the companoes different clients. After she tricked into a 'meeting' with her bosses sleazy friend, she humiliates him and gets reassigned to work for Katherine, Sigourney Weaver, a privilaged executive in acquisitions. She seems to want to help Tess and encourages her believe in herself and work hard but when Tess presents an idea that turns out to be a stroke of genius, Katherine tries to pass it off as one of her own. But before she does this, she breaks her leg while on holiday and isn't able to return to work for a few weeks. Tess discovered this betrayal and decides to take a shot and run with her idea. Again, this film is great and empowers women but as pointed out by Celluloid Sorceress, it could also show women in a bad light, saying women only get to the top by 'throwing another woman under the bus', which is rather true. There are a couple of lines at the end of the film that I re-thought about and decided that the scene could have been written differently. Women bringing down women is a problem and is alwats been something that is used against us. Women can help each other and it would be nice to see this shown in film more often.

These two film go well together. I had seen Working Girl once before but never 9 to 5. Presented by Bechdel Test Fest and Celluloid Sorceress, the films were sandwiched together with a couple of lightening talks were Simran Hans (BTF) and Rebecca Nicole Williams (Celluloid Sorceress) talked about the films. It was brought up that although the two films were made almost a decade apart, the issues and challenges that the women face hadn't changed. I actually said to my friend during 9 to 5 that the office bs that goes happened to me at one of my more recent jobs.

Screened at The Pheonix cinema in East Finchly, which was treat as I have never been. Fantastic old fashioned looking cinema and an adorable little cafe with a balcony, makes me think its good to get out of the comfort and easy to travel to zone.


#Working9to5

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: On the Run


There are so many great stories about being on the run but I drew a blank this week. I literally couldn't think of anything. Then late late this evening (well, night) I thought of a few BUT these are ones I have used before.

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

Thelma and Louise
One the greatest femmist films of all time, actually just an all round brilliant film. Two best friends go on a road trip but along the way Louise kills a man who is about rape Thelma. They end up having an adventure but while on the run, turning from 'good' people to criminals. It was a wake up call to Hollywood but as everyone knows, not much changed or at least this was the talk not long ago, but women are making waves in film and hopefully this will only get better.

Gun Crazy
Two gun crazed lovers, one an ace shot and marksman Bart, the other, Annie, a sharpshooter in a carnival show, fall in love and go on the run while robbing banks and a factory. The tables turn when Annie shoots someone which causes problems in the relationship not to mention being hunted by the police. Classic Film Noir.

Minority Report
Ah Minority Report. Despite the fact I dislike Tom Cruise, this film was pretty darn good. We can thank Philip K Dick has the film is based a short story of his. Set in 2054 where John Anderton is head of a 'PreCrime' team that arrests criminals before they commit their crimes with knowledge provided by 'precogs' who are all named after famous crime novelists (nice touch). There is another layer to the story of Anderton who has never recovered from the disappearance of his young son. He ends up on the run after he is framed for a murder he hasn't commited yet. As I said, pretty darn good.