Monday, 29 October 2012

Seals of the Day

Back by demand, sort of.

I found this on a newspaper webpage from 2009. 5 of 59 baby seals waiting to be fed at a breeding station in Norrdeich, Germany.

The seal sanctuary takes care of around 30 to 80 orphaned seals and grey seals are bred every year.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Bad Dads, Bill Murray and Art Work

Wes Anderson I love you! The appreciation continues with some samples from an art show that I would have gone if I lived in San Francico. All the awesome Wes Anderson events seem to happen in USA or somewhere in Europe.

I think the last one is my favourite. Well if you're in San Fransico, go enjoy this amazing looking show.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Monsters, Pets and Classic Movie Elements

I could have called this post, 'I really want a dog like Sparky' but I thought better of it.

Frankenweenie, the latest offering from the master of weird and wonderfull, is the first black and white animated feature to be made. It is also the second film with the same subject made by Burton. He made a live action short in 1984 which was meant to be shown with another disney film but was cut because the tone didn't fit with the feature.

The other day I saw Frankenweenie and absolutely fell in love with it, and Sparky. Tim Burton's latest animated tale is, obviously, inspired by and in some ways follows the story of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. But simply its about Victor Frankenstein, a boy who loves making home movies and experimenting in his attic. He also loves his dog Sparky. After a tragic accident he decides to bring him back from the dead after being inspired by his teacher. The experiment is a success and they are reunited again. But with every tale like this, someone finds out, Edgar the class hunchback creep who blackmails Victor into telling him how he did it. From there all hell, in a way, breaks lose. Other children start experimenting with lost pets and things they find on the street. There is a riot, a fire in a Windmill and further strange occurrences.

This, like Nightmare before Christmas and Corpse Bride, is typical Tim Burton. Apart from the animation style and the way characters look, this film feels more like his live action films. There are plenty of hints and nods to classic monster and horror films but there are also hints to Tim Burton's own films. The houses look like the ones in Edward Scissor Hands, the windmill that features quite prominently reminds of the one from Sleepy Hollow. Victor's talents in amateur film making is a hint to Ed Wood. The entire black and white tone of the film makes the film feel like a 50's horror B movie. These hints to the classics will be lost on children, like the moment when the poodle next door gets an electric shock and ends up with a familiar streak in her poodle hair do, resembling Frankenstein's bride. Little moments like that make the film a work of genius.

There is one downside to this amazing film, the fact it will become a cult film in the wrong way. Just like Nightmare before Christmas became an iconic film for emo kids, turning Jack Skeleton into a tacky mascot. I saw that film for the first time, the whole way through last year and its a brilliant film that was ruined by this emo-ness. Corpse Bride went the same way for a while but then disappeared. I can enjoy this film for a while before its over blown and hopefully safe from the emo kids or whatever is left over.

The amount of work that went into making each puppet always amazed me. There were 12 puppets for Sparky made and 17 Victors, over 200 puppets were made altogether. Another interesting fact, Crew members with pets that had passed away were invited to submit their names to the production design team. Many of the tombstones in the pet cemetery actually bear the names of real pets.

It was hilarious and really sad but can enjoyed by all, Frankenweenie is definitively on its way to being a classic animated  black and white film.

Below are some alternative posters for the outcome of the dead pet experiments.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Talk About the Money

Another BFI London Film Festival film and my Swedish entry for my World Film Challenge. Couldn't have worked out better.

Apart from having to sit next to one of the most annoying people ever, the man did not spot making strange noises throughout the whole film, the film was a mind blowing thriller!

Snabba Cash, otherwise known as Easy Money is about JW, a clever young guy who attends business school. Coming from a poor background and living a relatively poor existence. He does his best to lead a double life in the upper class areas of Stockholm. After meeting a woman at a party and wanting to continue his expensive lifestyle, he becomes involved with the world of oragnised crime and selling cocaine.

If anyone watched the US version of The Killing, a remake of the Danish TV series, you will know Joel Kinnaman. He takes the lead in this film and its sequel, Easy Money 2, which I actually tried to get a ticket for but alas, work got in the way. Kinnaman is brilliant, surprisingly he plays poor and vulnerable really well. Having to switch from nice guy to drug criminal is done well and I can't wait to see what happens to his character in the sequel and the third part which is apparently rumoured to shoot next year.

Aside from the centre point of JW who just wants money to lead a 'good life', the rest of the cast is quite multi-cultural. From the Spanish prison escapee to the Serbian mob who want him dead and the Arabic wannabe drug lord who entices JW to join his gang as 'the money'.  This film also includes another father daughter theme. One of the Serbian gangsters is left with his young daughter when his wife ODs. Their relationship at first seems like a side note but soon develops into a caring parent child relationship and you start to hope that nothing bad happens to them. If you know what I mean.

The film was a huge hit at the box office when it was first released in 2010 and hopefully will be when it is released over here. Just hope it doesn't take too long as two years was too long. Also, like all hit films in Europe, it is being remade in the US and apparently going to star Zac Efron which is a MASSIVE MISTAKE. He is NOT the actor to take over the lead role.

So expect yet another Scandinavian remake on the horizon. But please, see the original FIRST, it truly is a roller coaster ride.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Broken nose, home, heart, body

Second film of the BFI London Film Festival was the amazing Broken. This is also included in my film challenge and is the UK entry.

Broken, based on a book by Daniel Clay of the same name, this debut centres around a 12 year old girl called Skunk. She has type 1 diabetes and an adventurous spirit. She lives with her Dad, brother and child minder in a cal-de sac where much of the other characters in the story live.

The film starts off with quite a violent scene. As Skunk returns from the shops, she says hello to one of the neighbours, Rick who has learning difficulties, a few seconds later he beaten to a bloody state by another neighbour, Mr Oswald. The reason for this outburst is explained after and becomes a trend in the film. The audience sees the effects before the reason. The story shifts from one cause to the next, depending on which character Skunk interacts with. Whether it is with own family, Mr Oswald and his three awful daughters, Rick, the now disturbed young man and her teacher Mike, who is in a relationship with the child minder. Lines are crossed all over the place but at the end of the day it is about Skunk.

Skunk, played by Eloise Laurance, is brilliant on screen. She plays her character with such ease and honesty. As several other reviews have said 'she's a find' and a sort after actress for the future. The cast is made up of amazing British actors that really do make the film a classic British film ensamble, sort of. Tim Roth as Archie, Skunk and Jed's Dad is a complete opposite to his previous characters. He is seen as the voice of advice and reason throughout the film and the person, I think Skunk trusts the most. One of the last few scenes is heartbreaking when Skunk goes missing and Archie, like any other parent, just doesn't know what to do or where to find her, when she is only just across the street.

There seems to be a theme in the films I have picked, without me realising it. A theme of fathers and children. In Love Story, Florian always spoke to his Dad via Skype about ideas and advice, in this film Archie is a father of two, Mr Oswald is a father of three daughters he can't control. Then the third film I saw, Easy Money, one of the centre characters is a father with a very young daughter who he wants to change for. Films usually focus on single parent families with just mothers, its so refreshing to see something different yet so normal.

Broken is a beyond fitting title as many things are broken throughout, not to mention a few more deaths than I expected in the film. Hearts are broken, homes are already broken and of course the scene where Mike, the teacher, has his nose broken by Mr Oswald.

A truly heartbreaking film with genuine moments of humour. The realistic depictions of families is what sold it for me.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Walrus' of the Day

A slight change to the usual seal, but I saw this yesterday and fell in love with these two walrus'.

Walrus' are social animals and the staff at the rescue centre gave them the social interaction and care the animals needs.

When they were first rescued both animals were in poor health but they have steadily improved during their rehabilitation period.

Here is a link below to the original post:

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Love, New York and Pink Trousers

Technically this post should be part of the Film Challenge as, Love Story, is a New Zealander film, I think that is the right term.

Love Story was the first film I saw as part of the (long awaited) BFI London Film Festival. This had been the last ticket I bought and I have to admit it was spare of the moment, but I am so glad that I did. Not only was the film just so brilliantly constructed and genuinely funny but the venue, Screen on the Green in Islington was amazing. I had walked past the cinema a few times and had wanted to see a film there for ages and I got my chance.

Before the screening we, the audience, were treated to the director, Florian Habicht introducing his film and explaining a bit of the background. He is a character. Very tall Habicht, dressed in the pink trousrers that appear as if another main character in the film, was very happy to be there. He thanked his friends who had come with him all the way from New Zealand and said how great it was to see his film in big letters on the cinema.

The film, just like the poster says, is about a romance written on the streets of New York, or maybe by the people of New York. After a chance meeting with Masha (the tall Russian woman holding a piece of cake), Florian, who appears as himself, goes out and decided to make a film, a love story. The moments and scenes of constructed romance, a line is later blurred and it becomes hard to tell which is real and which is fictional. Inbetween these moments the film becomes almost like a documentary. Habicht goes out onto the streets and asks New Yorkers what they think should happen next in the romance. One of the star characters in the film, who only ever appears via Skype is Florian's dad. It is in these conversations where a lot of the humour comes out, especially when they share the idea of Marsha eating cereal out of the director's en-caved chest in bed. Florian's dad makes the point that this has never been seen is any film before and yes, he is definitely right. The action is later repeated but the second time around it feels less momentous but this is due mostly to what Marsha says. This when the film took a turn. It becomes confusing about whether these people actually mean what they say. The ending is emotional in the way everyone involved knew this 'romance' was going to end. A ending is obviously constructed but it works so well, the audience doesn't feel cheated at all.

I was glued to the screen the whole time. The film was so well structured and in ways, insightful to the people who Habicht meets on the street. I am not exaggerating when I say how amazing this film is.

After the screening, there was a short Q & A. I only heard one English accent, the rest American. I found this odd. Anyway, Habicht gave a little more insight to the film and its after effects. He said the film was shown to all those who contributed and I think we were all surprised to hear the rude stock broker in the cab that Habicht just jumped into on the spur of the moment, had given it her blessing. Masha had also had a private screening of the film and was happy with how it was completed.

The film is being released in Australia and New Zealand but unfortunately not America. He is in UK now meeting distributors. This film needs to be released here. If there is a screening of it, GO SEE IT!

Here is the facebook link, please have a look:

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Closing the Loop

I'm have a sci-fi moment. Actually more like a long moment. I think it started when Rian Johnson first announced he was making a science fiction film.

I am a huge fan of Rian Johnson. If you're wondering who he is, he is the writer director of Brick, Brother Bloom and Looper. Brick is one of my favourite films of all time and a film I wish I wrote. Both Brick and Looper are genre twisting film (Brothers Bloom is a con man film so I haven't quite figured out what the twist is). Genre twisting is the reason why I love the Coen brothers too. Brick was a detective noir story centred arounf high school kids. Looper is a hitman man time travel science fiction story.


But this isn't about Mr Johnson, not today. This is about sci-fi and why I keep coming back to the genre time and time again.

Warning this may sound self indulgent. Whenever I write short stories they always seem to lean towards science fiction or something odd. I can't write a straight forward story or at least I don't think I have written one. Science fiction is about escapism and the imagination (this is just my opinion) and thats what I try to include in my stories. Even though I am currently obsessed with The Good Wife and Boardwalk Empire at the moment I keep writing sci-fi stories. This puzzels me.

I am currently reading Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by a master of science fiction, Phillip K. Dick. If you don't know him, he wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which is better known as Blade Runner. Many of his books have been adapted. This book got me thinking about other futuristic and alternative universes. The future doesn't have to be so far fetched as some films make it out to be. This brings me back to Looper. In my opinion this film was a work of genius. The future is believable but also futuristic enough for it be looked at as just a film. Yes I understand people's issues with it such as supporting characters and the lack of their development, BUT I don't understand when people say that 'it didn't live up to the hype'. The film and its makers simply created the film, but they did not market it, that was the distributors job. This is the same thing that happened to Quentin Tarrantino's Inglourious Basterds. But that survived because of the name attached. Whenever I say Rian Johnson, no one knows who is he so hes over looked shall we say and then everyone just says the same old thing. The film did NOT market itself. The film stands alone.

I'm not a fan of those unrealistic future stories and films, in a way they have to be believable. In fairness I researched the film and I know the director's work but I understand that not everyone does that. But I've said it and I'll say it again, just like all those 5 star reviews and good critiques out there, Looper is a good film. But I suppose its more of a film for people who love cinema. Just my opinion.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

September Watch List

1. Elfie Hopkins
So, Elfie Hopkins was the subject of a post a while back, it was the flavour of the month, cannibals, which for me is most grim. The story of Elfie, small country town girl and wannabe detective. Intrigued by the new neighbours and the disappearance of a few residents Elfie is on, then off, then on the case again with the help of her sidekick/friend/love interest Dylan. There is a lot more going on in this film that you think. All the characters have backgrounds that are hinted at then never explored. Its frustrating. The film itself isn't brilliant, but I just love its low value. This sort of ensemble would probably do better as a one off TV series. 3/5

2. Killing Bono
No idea if this story is true or not, but in places its quite amusing. But overall, I was really bored. When a film is basically about the downfall of something or someone even when they didn't really have much anyway, is just annoying and depressing. The actors are great but as I said I was just bored. I might have to give this film another chance but it was borderline cliche and predictable. 2/5

3. Made in Dagenham
Based on true events, this story of a group of woman wanting equal pay was exactly what it said on the tin. It was heartwarming and uplifting and almost made me cry. The women fought for justice and eventually got what they deserved even though they had to wait a few more years. It's hard to believe that woman were paid only a third of what a man earnt. Mixed in places with real footage and interviews with the real women involved added a nice documentary type touch that was needed. A great film. 3/5

4. Anna Karenina
I never knew the story of Anna Karenina and even I guessed her fate a mile off I thought this film was amazing. Set almost completely inside and around a theatre apart from a few scenes in a remote house surrounded by fields. The director, Joe Wright used the space brilliantly, using the wings of the stage as the streets outside and transforming the theatre into a racing course. Truly inspired. Apart from the exquisite visuals such as the set and costumes, the acting was good too. Keira Knightly was really heartbreaking as the title role and I actually didn't hate Aaron Johnson too much in the film. I have never seen a film like this, the way it was presented that is. Amazing. But one thing, the ending, like most of Wright's films, the ending was blunt. 4/5

5. The Gay Divorcee
A classic Fred and Ginger film. The first one I saw all the way through actually. Not only is the story quite amusing with lots of misunderstandings and misdirection, but there also some great songs and dance scenes. 'Night and Day' and 'The Continental' (that goes on for a good 15 minutes). The studios said Fred Astaire was no actor, no singer but that man could dance. Kind of true but I think he can sing and act ok. He does an amazing tap dance right at the start of the film just before he accidentally rips Ginger Rogers' dress (really amusing bit). One of the best films they did in my opinion. 4/5

6. Dredd
The future is bleak and violent in this second adaptation of Judge Dredd or is it another attempt at bringing the famous character from the 2000AD comics to the big screen as Sylvester Stallone really ruined it in the 90's. But this film was impressive. I was put off at first by the 3D add on but looking past that, the film tells a good story, unfortunately it bares some resemblance to The Raid, both have stories revolving around tower blocks. The tower block in Dredd is more like a Mega Block housing 50,000 people and is run by the criminal Ma-Ma Clan who are circulating a new drug that slows down time for the user. Its very violent which I enjoyed very much and most importantly Judge Dredd was also menacing and doesn't take his helmet off. Worth seeing. 4/5

7. Lawless
Almost missed seeing this epic film. I am not exaggerating when I say this film was so good it hurts. It had me on the edge of my seat for most of it and I'm not sure why. The story of three brothers who have make a living selling moonshine during prohibition and who then cause a huge fuss when the incredibly creepy and disgusting Rakes (played to perfection by Guy Pearce) starts making things difficult. Humourous in parts which is needed when the film is quite dark and harsh to its characters. Shia LaBeouf has redeemed himself in my eyes after all that Transformers crap and he is back to actually acting and taking good roles. Tom Hardy is superb, his grunting and love of cardigans provides some humourous moments, one in particular when he is told that his Jessica Chastain tells him that she dragged him to the hospital when she found him with his throat cut in a pool of his own blood and simply says 'I thought I walked'. Fantastic acting and a based on truth story to match, thats what I meant. 5/5

8. Bel Ami
There seems to a revival of costume dramas where a young man is at the centre and loads of women surround him. Robert Pattinson is that man in this film. To makes his way through Paris having just returned penniless from the army where he meets an old army chum who gives him a job and from there is meets lots of women who he seduces, has affairs with, marries then seduces again all on his way to secure a fortune, even if he is unhappy through most of it. Based on a book which I'm sure had plenty more in it, but this time I am not bothered. I didn't like any of the characters, I thought they were all selfish and couldn't make up their minds what they were doing or wanted. 2/5

9. Looper

Saving the best til last. People have been torn of this masterpiece. Excellent reviews and then the audience had either loved it or disliked it. The problem with most of the quibbles going round is that the film was not what was adveristed basically. They wanted a fast action filled gun fest or something. Well this is not the films fault, that is the marketers fault, gearing you up for something that wasn't coming. The film is amazing, the concept brilliant, I love the director and know his work well so understand how this works. I would say, yes could have been scene or two shorter and more characters development for a few of the other minor characters would have been good, BUT this film is brilliant. My favourite genre, well subject that I have written about, genre twisting!!! Its not a typical straight forward sci-fi film nor an action film, its better. The actors were awesome, my favourite scene is when the two selves meet at a diner, loved it. Expect another post on this matter soon. 5/5

Monday, 1 October 2012

Women Are More Like Gentlemen Than Men

Don't worry this isn't a feminist rant. Just an observation.

This is the modern age and I understand that. But there is something called courtesy that I think may people have forgotten such as stopping for predestrians at a zebra crossing.

Several times now, I have left the train station after a long day at work and have tried to cross only to have cars drive past right in front of me. I have even been in the middle of crossing and the cars still think they can run me over. Idiots. That sort of thing isn't really courtesy but more just plain wrong.

Its the simple things I have noticed like opening a door. When I have to been to shops or other offices, its always the women who hold the door. I tend to hold the door open for people, unless the person is rude or moody, if they say thank you, I'll smile, if they don't just say 'bastard' under my breath. If they hear they hear, if they they don't. That's not the point. I have been carrying lots of bags or holding lots of things in my hands and been walking right behind a man, he shuts the door behind him and walks off. Then a woman has come and helped. A woman will wait if they seen someone coming to that door and hold it for them. A man pushes the door shut. This has happened many times. Its the same with getting on a train or tube, the guys push forward while the women stand back to let people off.

In other instances, woman are more likely to move up on a seat on the train. But the last few times I have got the train and sat in the two seats, I have either been sat on, even after trying to move, or the man has taken up one and half seats, so I perch on the end. That man in particular was disgusting, he turned to cough on me a few times. I said something to myself but he was awful and didn't listen.

Saying this the other day a woman, talking very loudly on the phone on the train would not stop, she was so loud and there was no need to be. A man got so angry he yelled "OI! SHUT THE F*** UP!" she was silent for a moment then continued to shout. The man left tutting.

But most of the time the men don't think. It's just polite to wait for people to leave the train first, it's polite to hold the door. To me it's common sense. But I don't expect everyone to be that way.