Monday, 24 July 2017

Around the World: Vanuatu

It's been a little while since I've managed to post of these themed posts up. Heading to the South Pacific for a tragic love story based on real events. 

Technically Tanna is a co-production of Australia and Vanuatu, just so its on the record. Having been nominated for Best Foreign film at the Oscars and sadly loosing out on the prize, the film still earned positive attention for being beautifully shot on Tanna, an island in the South Pacific and the real tribes people of the island acting in the film. The story has been compared to Romeo and Juliet and only in a small way do these two reflect each other. Wawa and Dain are from the same tribe and are determined to be together no matter what the cost may be. 

The story is indeed based on real events about a couple, back in 1987, who wanted to marry for love but were forbidden to, due to the laws and customs of their tribe. Wawa and Dain are in love but after an on-going feud with neighbouring tribes comes to a head, peace is brokered and Wawa's is given away as an act of peace. The couple decides to run away together, leaving behind the feuding tribes to hunt them down. 

The film is fascinating on many levels, as it seems to questions a few topics that are discussed within the film and are obvious ones that you might expect. The filmmakers Martin Butler and Bentley Dean spent months with the Yakel tribe, working with them and collaborating with them on the story. The actors in film are mostly from the tribes on the island and the film is better for it. The tribes are wonderfully fascinating to witness, especially the ceremonies that are depicted on screen. The lead lovers, Wawa and Dain are elegant in their courtship, proving that innocent hand holding and deep loving glances can be more meaningful that some of the tripe that comes out of Hollywood.
Visually, the film is beyond beautiful, the views seem like they could stretch for miles when in fact the island is quite small. A few favourite moments of mine is most certainly all the scenes by the active volcano, which the tribe sees as the spirit mother. As the music swells, Wawa and Dain embrace creating a silhouette against the lava bursts in the background, a perfect moment. 

The haunting score that accompanies the film just enhances the story and compliments the amazing location. I’m half surprised why Tanna is the first film to be shot on the island but then again, the tribes that still honour the traditional ways aren’t disturbed by the intrusions of the world. The land looks and feels undisturbed and acts as a place that is just for the tribes that dwell there, their own private land. 

Although ultimately tragic (which is obvious from the start) there is still so much to appreciate in the film. A forbidden love that is tender and unbreakable at the same times is conveyed through the actors who can say so much with a look and a light touch, Tanna is a stand out film. 

Next up... check out all the films HERE


Friday, 21 July 2017

Blind Spot Series: In the Heat of the Night

Whoa. I'm super behind on my Blind Spot films.

Unsure how to approach the story where Sidney Poitier utters the infamous line 'They call me MISTER TIBBS" I looked at it as any other murder in a small town story. But with the accolade of this being an amazing film hanging over me, it was difficult to say by the end, it was ok.

In a way, I always feel guilty for not liking a revered film. Sometimes its because I waited too long but other times I fear its the film and for me its not what I thought it was. I had been waiting a while to see In the Heat of the Night and seeing it pop up Netflix was handy, perfect timing for when I was making my list for this year.

Based on a novel of the same name by John Bell, the story is about a murder of a wealthy prominent man in a small town in Mississippi. Looking for a suspect, an officer arrests Virgil Tibbs, a black man who was quietly waiting for a train, dressed in a nice suit. After Tibbs informs the police that he is a homicide detective from Philadelphia who was visiting his mother and his chief confirms he is one of the best, Police Chief Bill Gillespie asks Tibbs for his help in solving the case. While Tibbs makes progress, there are a few problems along the way to the big reveal. During a questioning, racist wealthy man, Mr Endicott slaps Tibbs who retaliates. This sets of a group of racists who track Tibbs down but Gillespie intervenes and stops the violence. Tibbs becomes determined in finding the killer, as pieces together fragments of evidence into a theory. 

The story appears to be simple but has layers. The most obvious is how race plays into people's opinions. Tibbs is arrested for no reason, which could be seen as an over sight at how incompetent the police are in this town, as they would have arrested anyone waiting at the train station. Race plays into the story once Tibbs is dragged there. He cooporates until it becomes clear he must tell them who he is and its as if he waited to see the dumb struck look on their faces. Tibbs is treated abominably but for 1967, this was seen as acceptable, especially in the South. But the story comments how terrible things go and how rude everyone is to Tibbs, apart from those he respect him and can see that he knows what he is doing. But Tibbs also has flaws, he is arrogant and becomes slightly obsessed over the case. Hi arrogance is clear when he informs Gillespie that he makes more money in a week than he makes in a month, which is harsh, considering the circumstances. Tibbs also puts himself in danger which he helped out of but still doesn't listen to the police whey they worry for his safety, slightly. Saying this, Sidney Poitier is still strangely brilliant as Mr Tibbs as he manages to look enraged but still seem like a working stiff who doesn't want to stay in the 'hick town' as he knows his worth and he is worth more than there.

The murder mystery is also less important that the story about prejudice in the South. In Philidelphia Tibbs is a successful and talented detective, in Sparta, Mississipi, he is seen as low, so low that a white man is allowed to slap him. Tibbs reaction to this insult is one of the best moments in the film as it is so satisfying. The almost buddy cop story between Tibbs and Gillespie is played so that they are opposites but instead we get to see a realistic relationship that ends with a positive feeling and a new found respect for each other. These two will always have Sparta.

This is another movie which I feel I missed out on and that I tried to see the greatness that everyone talks about but for me, it was a good story with predictable characters but for or of its time is painted the picture of what it was like to go back to the South and that no matter how far you climb up the ladder, there will always be someone to tear you down.

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.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Chosen One

Going in a different direction of 'the chosen one' with a theme within a theme. There are quite a few 'children’s' films out there which have a 'chosen one' type prophecy happening.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

A Studio Ghibli film that I didn't enjoy at first as I found it too confusing. Set in a post-apocalyptic distant future where gigantic mutated insects inhabit the jungles. Nausicaäis the fearless, animal loving adventurous princess of the Valley of the Wind. A neighbouring kingdom take over the valley murdering Nausicaä's father and plan to kill the big bugs which actually play an important part in keeping the world together. Nausicaä tries to save her people as well the bugs from the invading army. Upon a second watch the film was actually pretty good. Seen as a cry out to save the environment and showing a girl as the hero of the day, the film morphs into something else and quire far from just being a kids
Kubo and Two Strings

Following on from disturbing as hell but brilliant Coraline (which I love) and Paranorman (which I very much enjoyed), we have our hero, Kubo, a young boy with one eye who has the power/skill to create magic when he plays his shamisen. Left all alone in the world, as he father, a great warrior, was killed in battle and his mother, died protecting him, he begins a quest to fight the evil Moon King who hunts him down, wanting his other eye. It seems complicated but when you watch it, everything falls into place. My only qualm about the film is that Japanese actors do not voice the main characters. Had to say it. Kubo ends up on a quest with a snow monkey and giant beetle and it is in part amusing but above all else a beautifully made heartbreaking story. Laika really know how to get to you. 


This was the big breakthrough movie NOT Frozen. Moana broke free from the generic 'princess tale' which the characters even make fun of in the story. Moana may be the daughter of the chief and will one day take up the position but the oceans calls to her, which seems at first a need for adventure but in fact there is a reason why the ocean chose her. Her world is slowly dying, being poisoned. She needs to restore the heart of 'mother nature' island goddess, Te Fiti that was stolen by demigod Maui. She journeys across the ocean, with a reluctant Maui, fighting weird monsters and learning about her true calling, he be a voyager. Marking the first time Disney has had a Polynesian 'princess' and the first time there is no love interest, which is a huge step. The best part is that you don't need or notice this latter fact. The story is about Moana and her quest. This is what we've been waiting for.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Vengeful Bitches

Apparently the angry violent words yelled by Colin Farrell's injured solider were never meant to be in the trailer as director Sofia Coppola thought they sent the wrong message but opted to keep the line in. Those words have echoed around the internet leading up to the release of The Beguiled but, those words did not have the impact as I had expected.

Having not seen the first adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan's novel, which was released in 1971 and starred Clint Eastwood, my impression from the trailers was the film was to be a thriller or sorts. I was also keen to see the film as the first had been described as 'a misogynist's nightmare'. I am also quite fond of Coppola's films; The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette and The Bling Ring. I am not a fan of the overated Lost in Translation.

Set in 1864 during the American Civil War, a Union soldier is found by 12 year old Amy while picking mushrooms in the woods. The man is injured and needs help so she agrees to take him to her school which is close by. Most of the students have gone home but the 5 that remain are told by their teacher, Miss Farnsworth that they are safer in the school. At first Miss Farnsworth is harsh and keen to be rid of the solider, corporal John McBurney, an Irishman long from home, but soon they women and girls warm to his presence. But events take a turn, slowly, when McBurney's charm starts to run out...

From what I've read about the film, I was expecting a different film altogether. It has been said it is a femminist force of nature whereas I found it to be a examination of what it is for a group of women to be isolated during wartime. I expected to fear McBurney but I actually pitied him even throughout his rage moments. He finds himself in a difficult postion and tries to be helpful and charm his way into staying at the house but his charm and foolishness gets him into trouble. His actions aren't questionable, he reacts in a way you'd expect and his fate is rather harsh. But this isn't about the solider, this is about the women.

I had expected the women to be justified in their actions but I can't help but feel they were wrong. The film is indeed focused on the women but instead of finding out more about them, we end up with how they are with a man around which is unfortunate. Characters aren't uniquely defined, apart from Miss Farnsworth and Miss Edwina and possible Amy, the young girl who first bonds with McBurney. She loves nature and animals and sees a different side to the stranger. The other girls have a few characteristics but nothing outstanding, including Elle Fanning's character is very annoying throughout. She in fact is the cause of the turn of events and doesn't even seem to care. She is the oldest student and is bored all the time. She is cruel to the other girls and acts like she is god's gift, trying to humiliate her teacher doesn't work either but she tries her best. It seems a missed opportunity not to develop the girls' characters further. I did appreciate Kirsten Dunst's Edwina who hold herself within. She seems calm and quiet but her frustrations are bubbling at the surface until her release near the end, which she so desperately needed. She doesn't over act her character, giving Edwina a personality and someone the audience are actually intrigued by.

The ambiguous actions of the women and why they act the way they do is almost a mystery that is never solved. On the surface, it all seems logical but the slight doubt that there was an ulterior motive is felt throughout the film. The film as been compared to Black Narcissus which would make an excellent double bill with The Beguiled and would probably complient the latter and highlighting the good parts of the film, which there are.

A story about a group of women, in near self imposed exile from the 'real world', take in a stranger and begin to see the benefits of having a man in the house, each with their own ideals of what he means to them, fall at the seams and fall into the terrible behaviour that women exhibit when fighting over men. It's low and unflattering. At the same time the film could be interpreted as a story of a group of women and how thet deal with an intruder then guest then tyrant and how they decide to take a brave step they believe is right. Whichever way you look at The Beguiled, I'm sure its very different from what you expected to see.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Amusement Parks

 I haven't been to a theme/amusement park in years. I may be afraid of certain heights but I acually quite enjoy rollercoasters and water rides on a hot day but as prices are hiked up so high no one can even think about going, a trip to Thorpe Park (closest park to me) has been forgotten about. Oh well. Theres more out there than rides, like, swimming, not a water park would be ace right about now.

Jurassic Park
The one the only (technically) Jurassic Park. Even though it was made 1993, more me, its still breathtaking. As Chris Pratt says in Jurassic World "They're dinosaurs, wow enough" and he's damn right. The first time you see Alan, Ellie and Ian see the dinosaurs for the first time is still amazing and THEN you see them. The music swells and its a perfect moment. But like all blockbuster movies involving dangerous things/animals, it all goes wrong. Thanks Dennis! But hey, there wouldn't be movie if it all went perfectly right? As much as I enjoyed the latest installment, nothing really beats the first. 

A horror comedy of sorts when zombie fever was big. It also featured one of the best cameos and one of the best Bill Murray cameos (same thing really). A group of survivors, making their way through zombie infested America bond together, creating a family along the way while killing zombies. The amusing rules throughout that pop up are terrifying but also helpful in the event of this disaster happening. I also liked that the characters where named after their home towns, just thought I'd add that.

I've used this sequel to Westworld before but no matter. Can't wait until the second season of Westworld and I'm wondering if they will introduce new parks, hopefully not Futureworld as it was tacky looking as hell. But the story isn't too bad. Two journalists are invited to the newly opened park but they uncover a big conspircay to replace influential figureheads where the creators of the parks can conrol them.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

All These Things That I've Bought

I should be cutting back on my DVD buying but hell, I love my collection and although I dream of it being so big its as big as the Beast's library, I don't have the space. I have written posts about spring cleaning my collection and culling it but its a far bigger job than I anticipated, especially as I keep buying more. It might have to turn into a one in one out policy.

Considering the amount of movies stored on Netflix, Amazon and the TV on both as well as Now TV, I shouldn't need to buy anymore. But as they aren't on there forever, I do sometimes feel the urge to buy a bunch of movies. Plus I'm a sucker for a 'special edition' with extras.

As the Criterion Collection becomes bigger and better with even more releases in the UK, its really putting a strain on my bank account. But I just can't resist and until the day they let me in their closet to take what I want, I have sparingly purchased their releases.

Just out of frame is my growing pile of films for my #AroundtheWorldin80Films posts. Its been slow but its also been unexpectedly busy. Actually, there are a couple of my Blind Spot picks in this pile too. I'm already behind two months...

Some various new-ish releases and some old No Angels boxsets. Couldn't find the show anywhere to watch, at least not season 2 and 3 so had to find the rare DVDs. Damn good show (could have gone another series).    

Tanna, my newest arrival, actually part of the Around the World group. Its a Romeo and Juliet type story, based a real marriage dispute filmed in Vanuatu.

The top film there is of course High-Rise BUT its a special Plain Archive limited edition which is a thing of beauty. As these blu-rays are from Korea, I only have three and am careful when choosing the film.

Also in this bunch is the one and only (I hope) Amazing Mr Blunden, which was a film my sister and I used to watch when we were young. I remember the story being amazing...but as with most beloved childhood things, you see the flaws. I actually wrote it about for The Afternoon Movie section.

I'm hoping this will be my last haul for a while...trying to resist the urge to go to Fopp (a film shop that has a constant sale), we'll see.   

Friday, 7 July 2017

Edinburgh Film Festival: Pilgrimage

This is one of me 'As seen on VH' straightforward reviews. Story and details are in the post on Vulture Hound's website which can be read HERE.

An unusual pick for a festival as it isn't fantasty and its about a Holy relic. Its got a good cast, an ok script with a few eye roll moments, but over all I was surprised about how much I got into it. It might have been the festival vibes I got caught up in but as the fourth movie of Saturday, I was really entertained, even if the ending did make me laugh slightly. The last line and situation explains it all.