Friday, 18 August 2017

Around the World: Wales

After the last post from Around the World, I was hoping for a more upbeat story but having just rented Soloman & Gaenor, I should have guessed from the title (and synopsis) that things wouldn't end well. Nothing usually does with 'star crossed loves'.

Set in South Wales on 1911 in a small mining town. There are continous issues with the mines, with strikes and talks going on throughout. Solomon (Ioan Guffudd) is an Orthodox Jew who hides his ethnicity when he sells fabrics door to door. hi family own a shop in the small town and tend to keep to their own comminuty which is subject to abuse. Soloman meets and falls in love with Gaenor (Nia Roberts) who has a strict father and openly anti-Semitic brother. Soloman struggles to keep his love a secret from his family and his family a secret from Gaenor. When she discovers she is pregnant, she is publically disgraced in her church.

Released back in the late 90s, the BAFTA winning film was also nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category but it lost out to Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother. Tough year. The film was actually film in both English and Welsh. I think I saw the English version with a bit of Welsh and Hebrew too.

The story is familiar, two lovers who want to be together by their opposing families and beliefs keep them apart. But in this story, they keep secrets from each other. Solomon keeps his family a secret and in turn keeps Gaenor a secret from them. She later, thinking he doesn't love her, keeps her pregnancy a secret from him until it becomes too much to bear. As with all these stories, there is a feeling of tragedy in the air from the start but the gentle courtship and growing feelings between Solomon and Gaenor makes you desperately hope for a happier ending or at least a satisfying close. 

Next up... check out all the films HERE

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Rescue

So, all my picks this week are Disney. A happy accident.

The Rescuers
When it comes to rescue, the first thing that comes to find is that adorable song 'R-E-S-C-U-E/Rescue Aid Society...' you know it. A society of mice from around the globe meet up and help children. Its adorable. Really sad and rather gritty (a young child is thrown down in pot hole caves, almost drowned, threatened by pet alligators on a daily basis) but there is hope of course, in the form of American teaming up with Hungary...of course. Bernard and Bianca are fearless, the former less so but they do everything to help Penny who is kept captive by one of the great forgotten and rather hilarious villains, Madame Medusa who really wants the big jewel. This film is close to my heart as it was one of the old VHS Disneys we had when we were young.

In Search of the Castaways
Featured in my afternoon movie segment way back when, this Disney live action featuring 60s darling Hayley Mills is an adventure with the strangest group. Mary and Robert Grant convince Lord Glenarvan and his son to rescue their shipwrecked father, Captain John Grant. Along with their friend, French professor Paganel, who found an SOS in a bottle, they all venture round the globe. Well, South America then New Zealand. It's really fun and rather silly in places, complete with a couple of terrible songs and predictable romance, it is indeed a perfect afternoon movie.

Return to Oz
Continuing on the afternoon movie streak, Return to Oz is a classic (for me and my friends at least) and was someone I went to Uni with's favourite film ever. It is also terrifying as Dorothy is about to be given 'therepy' in the form of electric shocks (which has been proven to make things worse). At the start of the movie the farm house is still being built after the tornado and her aunt doesn't believe her stories. But after a power cut and a strange girl who she keeps seeing, leads her to the river where she floats in a crate to OZ, she knows its real. What's great is that characters from the real world double up again in OZ, also terrifying. More part of OZ are shown, the deadly desert, the big villain, Gnome King who has taken over the land and turned everyone in the Emerald City to stone. Dorothy, along with her band of misfits as that is exactly what they are, have to rescue the Scarecrow and the mysterious Ozma.

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

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Slumber Party Massacre

I talk about them about them all the time, I know, but they have such great screenings I just can't help it. They were great at The State of Things in Bristol. I'm super excited about what they'll do for Halloween. Of course its The Final Girls.

Back in July, before all the madness happened, Fox (I've mentioned her a few times) and me got tickets to see a slasher movie. Not the sort of thing I'd do on a Friday night but the I remembered reading about it somewhere else before (I'm pretty convinced it was Dell on Movies) and thinking this sounds awesome.

The Slumber Party Massacre isn’t your average 70s/80s slasher, it is known as the first feminist slasher movie. Slasher films usually feature women half naked most of the time, getting killed all the time and overall, a negative representation of women.

Rita Mae Brown, feminist writer and activist, originally wrote the screenplay for The Slumber Party Massacre as parody of the genre but as production moved on, some things were changed. When editor and aspiring director Amy Holden Jones ended up with the script for The Slumber Party Massacre, things looked like they’d change for the better. But Roger Corman, praised in the industry for his work, wanted more gore, more naked women, as the film has filled its quota. Regardless of these changes, the film stands out as being progressive (in my eyes anyway) in more ways than one.

The story goes, a group of ‘high school girls’ all on the basketball team, plan a slumber party at Trish’s house whose parents are away. They invite new girl Valerie, who lives next door but feels uncomfortable and doesn’t go. It also just so happens that mass murderer Russ Thorn has escaped and starts killing everyone he meets, but he seems fixated on this group of girls. The girls are in for a scary and bloody night.

The panel talk that followed the screening was brilliant. Discussing how the women are depicted as more capable as they actually fight back, arming themselves with knives when a pizza delivery guy drops dead in the living room after one of the nastiest off screen deaths. It was also noted that the women who dressed in short wear lived longer which was a intriguing observation. The objectification of women is seen but in a way it was more natural, if a little pointless but this was on purpose. A shower scene where women discuss athletes and later on in the house, undressing in the living room so the boys have an opportunity to watch them. The men’s deaths are actually more gruesome, as the men are screaming in pain (and understandably). Even the killer is shown to be weaker than then women when he corners one of the final girls with his weapon of choice, a phallic like object, an electric drill than is chopped down with a machete. He begins to loose at this stage, whining like a child and falling into the pool. Another fair point is that women are seen in jobs such as carpenter and phone line repairer, which is refreshing and more importantly, completely normal. The team’s coach, also a woman, is a fighter. She senses something is wrong and goes over to help, fighting back, almost cornering the killer. These genre tropes being challenged were strangely uplifting. Feels odd to say this about a slasher movie, but it’s true, a Friday night out that is hard to beat.



#BFI #TheFinalGirls #TheSlumberPartyMassacre #Horror #Feminism

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

All Quiet on the Blogger Front

Well hello there! No I've not disappeared, just took a break without meaning to. It is an understatement that I have been busy. I've literally keeled over from being so tired.

It all kicked off week before last when I went to Bristol (which you can read about HERE) and came back to the world of work. Launched into catching up on emails and invoices and the like, while at the same time trying to organise auditions for the short film I'm working on AND trying to finish off a piece about Blood Simple (which I can hopefully share with you all soon).

Obviously, getting into work and doing my job took precedence, as it is my day job after all. Getting into work mega early just so I can leave a tad early was also cutting into my sleep. Not that I don't nap every chance I get, I had to basically nap every chance I get. To the point I was falling asleep at my desk mid type. With no rest in sight, I just powered through and got to the other side, this week, where everythhing seems to be just the same. I'm shattered.

As well as various things happening, my short film I'm making with my friend Foxo, Late Nights at the Movies, has been taking up my time. Now that the cinema is secured, we were able to just get rolling. We've had a few production meetings, talking about equipment, costs and auditions. We organised auditions for the weekend just gone and we will be revealing good news very soon, but out of respect for the all the actors, I won't reveal anything on here. But just to say its been a very busy time. We also have another recce of the cinema this weekend, brief but vital and we have another meeting Monday.

I have also been panicking and painfully trying to put together a decent zine for my Blood Simple piece which was part of The State of Things course. Here's a sneaky preview..

On top of work I've been trying to catch up on writing here, which didn't work out... but I will make up for it with the following planned posts:

The Slumber Party Massacre
10th Film Anniversaries
20th Film Anniversaries
Blind Spot
Around the World: Wales
Watch List August
Against the Crowd Blogathon

I have also in turn been panicking and painfully trying to put together a decent zine for my Blood Simple piece which was part of The State of Things course. Here's a sneaky preview...

So, poor old blog has been neglected lately. But that will change in the next few weeks, got some big plans coming up!!

Monday, 31 July 2017

The State of Things: Film Critics' day - Weekend in Bristol

Round up of the Weekend!

This weekend I was lucky enough to take part in The State of Things: Film Critics' day course at the Watershed in Bristol, which was part of the Cinema Rediscovered festival. It was a fantastic day, filled to the brim with amazing panels and was great to meet and listen to other film critics and film fans taking part in the course. My fellow participants can be found HERE.

We kicked off the day with a meet and greet and went in head first to see Sidney J. Furie’s The Entity, presented by The Final Girls. Based the book of the same name by Frank De Felitta, which in turn was based a real case in California is about Carla, single mother of three who is violently raped by an invisible attacker. She tries to get help from a psychiatrist who believes its all in her head. But as the attacks continue, in more violent ways, she seeks help from parapsychologists believing these attacks are supernatural. Before the feature we were immersed in to the short film, which used footage from The Entity, Outer Space by Peter Tscherkassky.

A fascinating and in depth discussion followed the screening as well as an intro to The Final Girls and why they do what they do. The participants were continually treated to further amazing guests throughout the day. Film/Culture journalists RebaMartin; and Zahra Dahlilah talked about film journalism and the importance of start-ups, sharing their experiences, which were mostly positive (which was very encouraging). Film critic and author Sophie Mayer along with film programmer and journalist Michael Pattison talked about writing long form pieces, writing for publications and specialist writing. Director and video essayist CharlieLyne talked about making video essays and the different ways to examine film. Finally we had festival programmer Sven de Hondt and the organiser of the course, film critic, programmer and broadcaster Tara Judah talk about the power of podcasting. 

I may have compact the day into the above paragraph but the amount of knowledge and advice that these collectives minds had to share was something I thought (no exaggerating here) I would never get to be a part of. It’s funny that this opportunity came up in Bristol. You would have thought other film hubs such as, well, you know, London might have thought about doing a course like this. 

A few topics came up throughout each panel, two being about paid work and specialising in a subject. The former was mentioned by every one of the panellists. They couldn’t stress enough how much that film critics should be paid for their work. Quite a few of my fellow participants contributed to websites, most likely unpaid, myself included. But the rule that some critics have is that if it is a no budget project or no one is getting paid for their work, its fair but this is the only time. This was enlightening and encouraging at the same time. With anything in the creative industries there is always a line about paid or unpaid work. You do unpaid work to get to the next step with pay, hopefully. But thinking ahead, I will be more careful in my choices. 

Being in a room where everyone cares about the future of film criticism was a dream. Although I was pretty quiet for the discussions (talking near the end) as I prefer to listen and absorb, it was great to hear from like minded film fans and writers as its always nice to know, you’re not a lone.

Friday, 28 July 2017

July Watch List

Spiderman: Homecoming
 Who'd have thought that Sony would finally realise that what they were missing from a successful Spiderman movie was Marvel and of course a Spiderman who was actually a teenager, enter Tom Holland. He may be 21 now but he was a teen when he made Civil War and Spiderman and he is perfect. Mkaing the smart decision and NOT doing another origin story and going straight into the action with a hilarous intro where Peter video diary records his adventures with Stark and the gang and then is simple sent home. Peter still longs for action and to prove he is worthy of being an Avenger. His adventure is big but not Avengers big which also workd perfectly. With a great balance of lovable nerd and kick ass hero, this Peter has friends and even participates in school clubs which is refreshing as seeing Marisa Tomei play Aunt May. As if this couldn't get better, MJ is also in the film but she's cool. She is a bit of an outsider but again, she participates in clubs and makes sarcastic comments and doesn't fake her way to be with 'popular' kids. But lets not leave out the first real villian to happen since the Green Goblin. Micheal Keaton is on top form as The Vulture. Fitting into the Marvel universe and moving with times, Keaton is Toomes, owner of a company meant to clear up after all the alien attacks but his contract is taken away, so he uses the alien tech to make and sell weapons. He may be doing this for his family but he is a nasty piece of work, a proper bad guy. Loved every minute if the film, Peter Parker is back!! 4/5
Director Dee Rees described this an a semi-autobiographical film about a young closeted lesbian who struggles to come out to her parents as well find a girlfriend. Alike is a shy compared to her best friend Laura, who is openly gay. Taking Alike to a club to meet women in the hopes she will find someone. Alike's home life is stressful as her parents are clearly not happy, arguing all the time. Her mother tries to project what she wants her daughter to be, which is basically uncomfortable and unhappy in the clothes she makes her wear. Although she has a better relationship with her father, he doesn't stand up for her or take her side. The story is about Alike exploring her indentity, her friendships and her relationship with her parents. Her love for writing flows through these moments ending in a heartfelt reading that is full of hope, as if she has been bottled up for a very long time. 4/5

The Age of Shadows
 My review was originally posted on Vulture Hound which can be read HERE. 4/5

Personal Shopper
My review was originally posted on Vulture Hound which can be read HERE. 3/5

Pretty in Pink
This was one of the films I hadn't seen and wasn't desperate to see but after reading Hadley Freeman's Life Moves Pretty Fast I saw this film in a while new light and actually enjoyed it. Andie, an originally dressed teenager who makes her own clothes and works an awesome music store (one that would rivel Empire Records) who likes rich teen, Blaine and he very much likes her. But Duckie, Andie's best friend who is obessed with her doesn't approve, neither do Blaine's arsehole friends. There are so many great outfits in this film as well as some great moments. Of course I'm talking about the lip syching scene with Jon Cryer. This was one of the movies that made Molly '80s teen icon' Ringwald and I can see why. 4/5

It was talked about for ages when it first came out but I wasn't interested in yet another spy film which included class differences and stereotypes. The film is that but it embraces the stereotype and twists the genre slightly to make it more enjoyable that expected. Not sure about the sequel though... 3/5
I can still hear the amazing score by Hans Zimmer ringing in my ears. Throwing you into the actions as soon as the film begins, its as if you are immersed onto Dunkirk or in the air or at sea. From the opening shot of the soldiers walking down an desered street and the sounds of gunfire to the when Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) makes his way onto the beach to see the 400,000 men trapped on the beach, you know this film will be epic and it was. The action takes place on land; following Tommy and the other soldiers he meets with along the way as they try to get home, on the sea; when regular mariner and his son take their boat out to sea to help, along with the fleet of 'little ships' as they were known as and in the air where three pilots are the defence from the German bombs. All three segements are shown at different times but do meet up, bringing the story in line. Seeing it on IMAX was amazing, the vibrations from the music and noise were incredible, it was an experience which don't get very often from movies when its just the film and nothing else. 4/5

Thursday, 27 July 2017

TMP Television Edition: Non-English TV Shows

The annoying thing about really great shows that just happen to not be in the English language is that they usually get a remake and they're usually not great. But this is also the case of UK to US remakes which are usually just plain s**t. The Fawlty Towers remake anyone? The attempted Spaced remake anyone? Life on Mars anyone? I suppose The Office was an exception.

Cantabile Tomorrow
Set in a prestigious music school in South Korea, arrogant and talented musician pianist and violinst Cha Yoo-jin aims to become a conductor. He meets, by accident at first, an amazingly gifted fellow pianist, Seol Nae-il, who is free spirited and prefers to play by ear. She is afraid of music teachers and the harsher teaching methods. The two opposites end up becoming friends and help each other overcome personal issues and eventually fall in love, but in the weirdest ways. There might have been a translation issue but no matter the music is great, especially when two competing student orchestra rise up. My favourite character is the sweet but dim amazing violinist Yoo Il-rak, who favours the electric violin. I clicked on the show on the off chance on Netflix and then I was hooked, although there are a few episodes that were pretty pointless.

The Bridge
I had wanted to see this Danish/Swedish TV series when it first came out but I missed the whole thing. But when Netflix picked it up I got through series 1 super fast as a story about half a dead body being left purposely on the Denmark and Sweden boarder on the bridge that connects them was too good. But being immensely irritated by Saga Norén, the lead Swedish detective and as the first series ended in a devastating way I couldn't get past 3 episodes in series 2. Great first series though. I haven't checked out the two remakes, one US and one UK (The Tunnel).

                                 Les Revenants

This was another show that I watched the first series and just left the second out. An eery story about a town in the mountains that experiences the dead or 'the returned' come back to life. Each story of the dead was fascinating but it became more of a thriller when weirder things start happening and the bigger questions are asked. I meant to watch the second series but just never got round to it. I know there was a US version (of course there was) that was quickly got scrapped and rightly so. Why not just watch the original? Its disturbing and emotional at the same time and set in a small town where quite a few people have died mysteriously... what's not to like?

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