Wednesday, 30 October 2013

October Hit, Miss or Maybe

1. Blue Jasmine - HIT

I haven't seen many Woody Allen films but I was particularly interested in this one for two main reasons. One, the protagonist was a woman, Cate Blanchett, who doesn't normally play this type and she was channelling an inner 'Woody Allen' either, like some other previous male actors have done. Two, there was a heavy influence from Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire' in the film. Upon further reading about the film, I found out that Allen had used 'Streetcar' in his previous films so it was interesting to see how the film played out as I do love that play. As with most melodramas, it was brilliant, pitch perfect but also very depressing. Jasmine, as she calls herself, was the wife of a wealthy businessman who stole money from his clients and so ended up in jail and killed himself. Left with nothing, Jasmine goes to stay with her flighty sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins, also brilliant, playing against type). The sisters are close but continuous point out each others painfully obvious flaws. The plot line, sometimes veers towards being too 'Streetcar' but before it can get too serious, Allen, reigns the characters back in. It's a brilliant film and it is true what all the critics and people say. But it is quite depressing and amusing at the same time.

2. The Double - HIT

Click here to read about The Double.

3. Inside Llewyn Davis - HIT

Click here to read about Inside Llewyn Davis.

4. May in the Summer - HIT

Click here to read about May in the Summer. The film actually doesn't have an official poster yet, at least not one I can find.

5. Hide Your Smiling Faces - Maybe

This is Daniel Patrick Carbone debut feature film and I actually saw this, courtesy of my friend who had a spare ticket at the BFI Film Festival. Partially crowd funded by friends, family and supporters, the story is about two brothers growing up in a rural town in America. The film follows what happens to the brothers in the wake of a tragic death of one of their friends'. Focusing on the young actors instead of the investigation in to the mysterious death made the film feel disbanded. The brothers are supposed to be a part of that story but instead they choose to rebel, in a quiet, sometimes vengeful way. The scenes where is it just the two brothers are captivating, but when others are included, the magic seems to disappear. Carbone mentioned in the Q&A that when he wrote the film, he included his own experiences from childhood, or at least included elements. This is very much 'a personal film'. Upon reflection, it felt that there had been something missing from the film, which was a shame as the two young actors who played the brothers (Ryan Jones and Nathan Varnson) were so believable as close siblings.

6. The Zero Theorem - Maybe

Click here to read about The Zero Theorem.

7. Hello Carter - HIT

No poster unfortunately but apart from that I really enjoyed this film. Originally a short film with a slightly different cast, director/writer Anthony Wilcox made the feature film. I also saw this at the BFI Film Festival and just before the screening I got some very good news so I was definitely read y for this comedy drama about Carter (Charlie Cox). Wilcox, before the film, described it as a love note to London and that is definitely the message that got through. London, I think should be celebrated more on film and this film delivers that and an amusing story. Carter is down on his luck. He is still pinning for his ex who broke up with him a year ago, he's sleeping on his brother's sofa and he doesn't have a job. But after a chance encounter with his ex's brother on the tube, the next 24 hours certainly change him. I laughed out loud several times and not just because the man sitting next to me projected his laugh into my ear, the characters felt genuine. The scene at the recruitment office was particularly funny as I have experienced exactly that meeting many a time. I think I saw this film at the perfect time as I myself have been job hunting for a few months so knew how poor Carter felt. There was also a great action/chase scene, involving some expert driving/reversing around a London car park. Wilcox commented after the film that that scene was originally meant to be an epic car chase across town but for budget reasons it became the perfect scene in the film. Brilliant cast, especially Charlie Cox as Carter who appears in, I'm sure, every single scene. A great British low key comedy drama.    #HelloCarter

8. The Fifth Estate - HIT

I am loving the fact that there was another Daniel Bruhl film out so soon after 'Rush'. I felt spoilt when I saw the poster and the trailer, Cumberbatch AND Bruhl in the same film. Hit the jack pot! At least, that is what I thought. Don't misunderstand me, the film brilliant, it sucked me in, I couldn't think about anything else for ages after. But, Cumberbatch literally became Julian Assange and that man repulses me. Even more so after this film. I can see why Assange had asked Cumberbatch not to do the film. For someone who didn't really know about the WikiLeaks fiasco a few years ago, I found this film fascinating and it also made me feel incredibly stupid for missing it first time round. Described by someone as 'the anti-social network' was spot on. The story begins with Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Bruhl) meeting in 2007. From there they begin to work together to bring WikiLeaks to the forefront of news. Receiving anonymous leaks from around the globe. By 2010, the site has leaked information such as the membership list for the British National Party, Scientology secrets and Sarah Palin's personal information. Tensions between Assange and Domscheit-Berg come to a head when Bradley Manning leaks thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. Assange insists on leaking the documents immediately to stop interference from the US government. But the other WikiLeaks volunteers insist on redacting names to protect identities. It is a very intense film. Both leads are brilliant, they envelop themselves into the characters, which you don't always see when films are made about real people, especially those who are still recent and alive. A truly brilliant engaging film, right to the end. I also got a little thrill from the scenes shot in Berlin. Having visited the city two years ago, I got to say 'I've been there' especially in the scenes shot in The Kunsthaus Tacheles building.

Monday, 28 October 2013

What Was I Wearing?

With Halloween coming up I decided to look back at old photos, mostly from the last 4 years, so second year of Uni til now. My oh my I used to dress up quite a bit. I actually miss doing that. I don't think I've dressed up in a costume of sorts since last year of uni.

I also haven't had the opportunity to dress up on Halloween past two years. Although, I'm wishing that one day someone I know will throw a massive huge party for Halloween and I will finally dress up as Liz Lemon as the Joker. Observe:

I still can't get over how funny that episode of 30 Rock is. So that has been my goal. In the past I have dressed up as a pirate a few times, school girl too, tried to dress up as Heather Mooney from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and have been Karen O twice (second attempt last photo). The second time I dressed up as her was better. I even tried to dress up as Ramona Flowers (before the film came out), complete with roller blades.

The best costume I ever made/wore was for Halloween '09. Our house hosted a party and I went all out. Bought an old dress, waistcoat and shirt (the tie was actually mine) and sewed it all together. The result you can see below. I called myself Boris and Barbara Hoganstien. Everyone at the party met them, some disliked Barbara, because she was a bitch, but most people liked Boris, he had a pipe which was nice. Those who remember this blog from his beginnings, I actually wrote a serial about the Hoganstiens.

That same Halloween '09 I also dressed up as a clown the night before for a night out. I lost a marvellous hat, that made me a sad clown. A year later we had another Halloween party and yes, I went as The Mad Hatter, except my Mad Hatter looked slightly hobo-ish, may have been the gloves.

I had an idea for a very simple costume this year after seeing a Pixar film. I have the hair, glasses and a black dress, but I'm lacking details to the dress. We shall see.

Happy Halloween to you all . . .

Friday, 25 October 2013

Mostly Martha vs No Reservations

This time the films are Mostly Martha, 2001 (German) vs No Reservations, 2007 (US). The last post about The Vanishing films, I didn't really pick a winner of sorts, I just laid out my opinions about each film as it was an example. This time and from now on, I will pick a film at the end of the post. After all I did put 'vs' in the title.

I watched both films in the most difficult way. Mostly Martha was viewed in instalments on Youtube. This was disruptive and the video was extremely bad quality. I later saw that it was on Netflix when I signed up again. No Reservations was viewed on a very good website that had many 'old' movies uploaded to it, I say old because it was over 5 years ago, old in movie terms. The quality wasn't bad but the fact my internet kept cutting out meant that the annoying timer sign popped up frequently.

Mostly Martha was the first film I saw. I had been told by a friend's mother that No Reservations was a remake and since 2007 I had wanted to the see the original. Martha Klein (Martina Gedeck) is a gourmet chef in Germany, a perfectionist who lives only for her work. But when her sister dies in a car crash, she is left as the only guardian of her 8 year old niece, Lina. She takes time off to settle Lina into her new life but is appalled to find another chef in her kitchen when she returns to work. Mario (Sergio Castellitto) is hired as a sous-chef and works very different to Martha. But of course sparks fly when Mario bonds with Lina who eats his food but hasn't touched any of Martha's. First off, I loved it. It is a film that is about loss, death, family and of course cooking but it disguises itself as a romantic drama with some comedic moments.

No Reservations, on the surface looks like the run of the mill rom-com, but of course it isn't. The film was marketed as a romantic comedy set in the kitchen where the main character, Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a head chef becomes the guardian of her niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin). That is seen as a side dish, when it is the main course, her possible romance with the new chef, Nick (Aaron Eckhart), is the actual side story. I judged this film by its terrible poster and predictable looking trailer and I am glad to say I was proved wrong. Apart from name changes and the film being set in New York, the film more or less has a similar if not the same narrative. It was the marketing that let this film down but get over that and you'll see it is a good portrayal of family. And the food made me hungry, in both films.

Verdict: I preferred Mostly Martha. My ultimate reason, both family story and potential love story were given equal time which made sense to me.

Katie Goes To Oxford

It should say 'went' but for a title 'goes' looks better. Warning, extra long post.

I had never been to Oxford before yesterday, the only glimpses I had seen of the city was in Morse and Endeavour episodes, oh and the occasional film.

The day began at 6am, I haven't had to get up that early since June! But I was actually not tired, well until I boarded the coach I fell asleep. Getting to Victoria Coach station was a mission and a half. It took about 15 minutes to find the darn stop. I got settled in for the 2 hour journey and actually enjoyed the ride to the city.

When we finally got to the city, it immediately reminded of Bath, so many beige stone buildings, all impressive and it was so tempting just to stare at them all, but I was rather concerned with looking too much like a tourist. But that didn't stop me from preparing and getting maps for all the places I wanted to see. Looking back, I really wish I had got a map of the entire city as it was incredibly confusing trying to navigate. All the roads are a mile long and the turning seems to disappear into the distance. Saying all this I enjoyed the city, but next time I will not be bringing unnecessary umbrellas and maybe take a different bag, something less conspicuous. When I told the story of my day out to my parents they had great fun making fun of my rucksack.

My first stop was to the Pitts River museum of anthropology and world archaeology. Free admission and I thought close by to other places I wanted to see. It was such a bizarre place. It was right next to the mini natural museum, which was going through some sort of maintenance as most of the dinosaur exhibits were under some sheets. The Pitts River Museum is under one roof, three floor of collections of objects from many cultures, past and present.

Fascinating place! So many things to stare at, it was like looking into Indiana Jones' dream cupboard. Unfortunately it wasn't a quiet place, there were two schools visiting too, so wherever I turned there was a school child. I didn't spend long on the ground so I ventured to the higher floor as the view was impressive, made (hopefully) for some great photographs. I took my 35mm camera with me as I figured that there were some sights to photograph, in black and white. Apart from enjoying the exhibits on offer I was also trying to escape the museum staff members who seem to be intent on following me around the damn room. At first I thought it was because I had a camera but I saw other taking photographs then I thought they were just watching the school children but most of the time it was just me, looking. This is why my parents were laughing, they said I must have looked suspicious. Anyway, I tricked one staff member who was continuously following by taking my bag off and slowing drinking some water then putting lip balm on then as soon as they walked off, I got out the big camera. HAZAAR!

I was about to faint when I left the museum and went in search of some tea and food. As I was leaving I saw these amazing dinosaur footprints.

I had some tea and pancakes at The Rose then went in search, and I mean search for Alice's Shop. I managed to write quite a bit of a short story for a competition in The Rose. The tea was amazing, vanilla, and the cafe was so quiet I could settle into the writing.

The shop is so tiny but crammed full of Alice related delights! Books, mugs, bags, costumes and of course postcards! My weakness, postcards. Oxford is full of bookshop and postcards shop, oh and Oxford University shops. I had wanted to visit this shop for years and I wasn't disappointed. After stuffing my bag full of postcards and teabags I set off to the Bodleian Library.

My aunt and uncle had been to an exhibition at the Bodleian Library some months back and this, I suppose that this was the main reason for my day out. Plus its an immense library. What more could you ask for? The exhibition was; Magical Books: From Middle Ages to Middle-Earth. It was in a small darkened room, I assume because there was original material from authors on display. The main Oxford authors, C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien had there work talked about along with the origins of the legend Arthur and the story of George and the Dragon. Aspects of magic, alchemy and other worlds were talked about, as well as maps of the universes these writers created. It was an amazing display, just wish I could have taken some photographs. The exhibition is on until 27th October, cutting it fine, but if you are in the area or can get to Oxford, go and have a look, its free too.

Of course I went crazy in the library shop, so many postcards!

After wondering around the library I walked along the historical Broad street again and had a look round one Blackwell's many shops, in particular, its bookshop. Blackwell's on Broad street has been serving academics, students and book lovers since 1879. So, you can see why I wanted to visit it. By the time I had finished at all these places it was time to hole up in a cafe.

I walked along all the long streets, staring into to half opened doors with intrigue until I found the fabled independent coffee specialist, The Missing Bean. On my journey to the cafe I was followed by a couple of 'typical' Oxford students, all the way. They were talking about something, I kept wanting to laugh but I resisted. That's something I observed. The population of Oxford seemed to be rather posh British students or American students.

After having to get a take away ice coffee, no space to sit as it was rather small and no seats, I went and visited the site of the first coffee shop in England, The Grand Cafe.

In true 'writer sits at a bar' fashion I did exactly that. I had some amazing tea, ceylon, to be precise and a very delicious sandwich. I sat at the bar for a few hours and I actually complete the short story I was working on. The bar stool was very uncomfortable but no matter I liked my surroundings.

While walking around the city at night, on my way to catch my bus, I happened upon the treasure trove of postcard shops. It was a Blackwells poster and art shop. It caught my eye because there were so many Tintin and Moomin delights in the window to lure me in. It was pure heaven!

After a long day of walking everywhere, I made it to the coach. I went straight to sleep while listing to an audiobook. I woke up an hour later, still travelling, not knowing what the hell I was listening to. It was disorientating. I had a great day but when I return to Oxford, I am bringing a detailed map of the city and looking at all the hundreds of colleges.

Have a look at the sights of Oxford here and all the places I visited have links (highlighted).

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Title Issues

I've almost hit the 30,000 words mark! Great, but I still don't have a title. I know it should be the last thing I write but I usually have an awesome title (at least I think so) and then I write the rest.

This is my brainstorm:

(Click on the image to make it bigger)

So I have the themes of the story and the possible titles. Don't worry no spoilers here.

For anyone who thought I had just given up, I haven't, I'm just writing slower. I have a third of the story left to write, which may seem a lot but hey, 50,000 words is difficult to write and bare in mind this is my first full length novel.

Keep checking the twitter feed, as I will always tweet the progress.


back on track and back to writing, 33,610 words!!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

BFI London Film Festival - The Zero Theorem

I have to be honest, I'm still not even sure what this film was really about. But I took that as 'that's what you get from a Terry Gilliam'.

I saw the film at 12:30 in the morning and I was very tired, so I was dazed when I had the crazy that is 'The Zero Theorem' thrown at me. I was intrigued by the new Terry Gilliam film, especially as this was the was the newest things since The Disappoint of Doctor Parnassus. The cast too intrigued me, Christoph Waltz with a bald head and no eyebrows as well as David Thewlis dressed in a tiger costume, not to mention the many amazing actors that paraded through the film.

The story centres around Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), a reclusive corporate worker who lives in a futuristic corporate world. He dislikes the atmosphere at work and wants to be alone at home and is obsessed with receiving a mysterious phone call which he believes will give him purpose in life. Under the instruction of the 'Managemnet' Qohen is assigned to solve the 'Zero Theorem'. It is a mathematical formula which determines whether life has any meaning.

Apart from the questionable story, the world in which Qohen exists is incredible. Described by someone as a 'gritty' cityscape, I see this is as an element that contributes to the mixed up dystopian-esque buildings and modern technology, the design of the world as well as the clothes, gadgets and even food creates a world that does scream out for an actual meaning. Visually, the film is a feast for the eyes and actually helps explain some of Qohen's character anxiety issues.

An interesting film, even if I wasn't quite sure what happened.

BFI LFF TheZeroTheorem

BFI London Film Festival - May in the Summer

I bought a last minute ticket for this screening as I was intrigued by the story of course but also, the setting, Jordan. I have a friend who comes from Jordan and she told me about the places there and how people were.

May in the Summer is written, directed and stars Cherien Dabis, a Palastinian American directer and screenwriter. She grew up in Ohio, USA and Jordan. Her first feature film, Amreeka, premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and won some awards on the festival circuit.  I'm always in favour of supporting female directors and screenwriters so I was excited to see May in the Summer.

May Brennan (Dabis) returns to her childhood home of Amman, Jordan for her wedding. After reuniting with her sisters, Yasmine and Dahlia (Nadine Malouf & Alia Shawkat) and her long since divorced parents, May starts to question her reasons for getting married. Along the way to making the decision of whether to continue with the wedding, home truths and secrets are discovered.

Although I was annoyed by the limp ending, the film was brilliant. I was captivated by the sisters and the time they spent together with the lead up to the wedding. The relationships between the sisters' father and mother were interesting, apart from the mother's obsession with religion. I wished that there had been more scenes with May and her new found friend Karim who organises adventure holidays for tourists. The culture clash elements of the story played a small part, being mentioned in passing conversation which I liked. It made room for the characters to have their moments.

Another element to the story was definitely the location. Beautiful shots of the landscape and the city created the perfect background for this family tale.

Cherien Dabis described the film perfectly as a 'reverse migration (Arab Americans returning to the old country) divorce drama comedy disguised as a wedding film.'

A great choice that was my middle screening of the festival. Have a look at the Facebook page for the film here.

BFI LFF MayintheSummer

Friday, 18 October 2013

BFI London Film Festival - Inside Llewyn Davis

After months of waiting I got to see the Coen brothers and Inside Llewyn Davis.

The second film of the BFI London Film Festival, for me, was a ticket, a golden ticket to the gala event, the premiere of sort of Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coens' new film.

Without realising it, I arrived early in Leicester Square. The film was being shown at the 'big' Odeon cinema. Fences had been set up, a large crowd had esembled around it. The press were all crammed together and the security were waiting to check my ticket. The woman lied to me after I asked if the Coens had arrived, she said yes so I thought I'd better dash inside. I excitedly walked on the red carpet, second time I've done this, and was so excited I forgot to remove my winter wear, particularly my strange looking hat. When I was in the cinema I looked at my watch, I was 30 minutes early and was in dire need of coffee, but I was denied this. Security didn't like it when people left. Darn.

Fast forward to the film. The director of the festival introduced the film and, I held my breath because I could see them, Joel and Ethan Coen took the stage. I was so excited, grinning like a crazed fan. I had an amazing seat too, second row. Oscar Issacs, Cary Muligan and John Goodman were there too.

The film itself was brilliant. Set in 1961 focusing on the Greenwich Village folk music scene, talented artist, Llewyn Davis is struggling to make money with his music. He doesn't have a home, he moves from place to place, sleeping on 'friends' couches. The film at first feels like a day in the life of Llewyn Davis as he visits people, his useless agent, the cafe where he regularly plays, the friends' wife he got pregnant, his sister and various other characters he meets. I say characters because the weird and wonderful and some down right awful characters are what make the Coens brilliant. No matter how small the character, they play a purpose and have an impact. There is one character in particular, a driver who barely says a word but he makes an impact. Each person is created and they feel like they are real and have a backstory.

Oscar Issacs deserves great credit, he appears in every scene. He can act and yes, he has an amazing voice. I have seen him sing in 'Sucker Punch' but as we all know that song was a world away from folk music in the 60s. The character of Llewyn isn't as complex as some would say. He's hit hard times, especially after a personal tragedy as well as having to deal with all his other mistakes. Joel Coen described him as a talented guy getting nowhere.

The cast surrounding Oscar Issacs were excellent, especially a Coen regular, John Goodman as Roland Turner, who's scenes take place on a car journey to Chicago. During the Q&A after the film Goodman was asked to explain how he became involved in the film his answer was (bottom Tweet), of course there was a lot of laughs, as it was partly true. The top tweet was Ethan Coen answering a question about whether anything was different in the edit and if there was an alternative end.

The film has been talked about in reference to O Brother Where Art Thou as the connection is music but unlike O Brother, Inside Llewyn Davis features about 8 complete songs. There is a particular scene where Llewyn has reached Chicago in order to perform for a producer and he decides to sing a very sorrowful song that he knows isn't commercial but he sings so well. It's really beautiful scene, especially as it is performed in an empty music hall.

In the trailer for the film, it seems that Llewyn's troubles begin when he accidentally lets the cat out of his friend's apartment when he leaves so has to carry the cat around with him, most of the time. Now, this cat, I thought wasn't a major part of the film, but since seeing the film I had decided that the cat is in fact a living metaphor for Llewyn himself. Without giving too much away, there are in fact two cats in the film, both have significance.

I was desperate to ask a question and it was going to be about the cat, but alas someone got there before me.

A truly amazing film and I would dare to say not a typical Coen experience. The dialogue and the characters are all there, including some mild violence but overall, a new kind of Coen experience.

BFI LFF InsideLlewynDavis

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Murder, Mayhem and Excellent Service

Taking a moment away from the BFI London Film Festival, I just wanted to tell everyone that Wes Anderson's new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel trailer has landed and it is amazing I wanted to share it.

The trailer was posted by Empire Magazine and can be viewed multiple times here. I would like to point out the hilarious dialogue, the vast talented cast and Tilda Swinton as an old woman in a coffin.
'This trailer makes it clear that the story revolves around Ralph Fiennes' Gustave H, hotel manager and serial guest lover. His travails appear to begin when a deceased client of a certain age, turns up dead in the hotel and leaves him a valuable painting in her will - much to the distress of Adrien Brody's Dmitri.' The design and the story just screams Wes Anderson. Extremely excited. It is a hotel I wish I could stay at, not only for the decor and service but because of all the people in it. And its set in Europe. I will post more about the film as things develop.

The film is out 2014 but this trailer will keep me and other fans occupied until then.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

BFI London Film Festival - The Double

The day has come! The festival is here! Film Forever!

The BFI London Film Festival kicked off Wednesday just gone and is on until 20th October. Two weeks of films from around the world, premieres and events. Each year I get very excited and book tickets for varied screenings. Last year was my record number of screenings I attended, so much fun.

This year I managed to get (afford) a select few screenings. I was hoping for a Coen Brothers event of some sort as their new film is premiering in London on Tuesday. Alas no event, but I did get a near front row seat to the film, but more on that later.

Today was the comfortable Sunday morning film, The Double, the second feature from Richard Ayoade. Submarine was the director's 2010 debut feature film and anyone who is a fan of Submarine will notice some familiar faces in The Double. Both Ayoade and lead actor(s) Jesse Eisenberg came along to introduce the film in an amusing fashion. They talked mostly about the fact that the film was 85 mins long but felt longer. I can assure you that you do not notice the time when watching this film.

The Double is based on the novella of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and tells the story of a man who's doppelganger appears and slowly ruins his life.

Set in a unknown city that seems reminiscent of the landscapes or buildings found in Brazil. The dank, dark buildings, the yellowing office walls, the plain colourless clothes and there is barely, if any sunshine seen throughout the whole film. Described by one reviewer as a 'warped, alternative version of post-war America' although most of the supporting cast is British. That doesn't matter in the grand scheme of the slightly dystopian feel to the old damaged exteriors and interiors. 

Simon James (Eisenberg) is an ordinary guy who works for an organisation that doesn't really specify in any industry, all we as the audience know is that the Colonel (James Fox) is the face and all knowing leader. Simon is a person that most forget, talk over, push around and generally are rude to him, no matter where he is. Things start to change when James Simon, the exact double of Simon James appears. He is charismatic and at first exciting but things go wrong when he makes Simon's life a misery. He gets him in to trouble at work, he steals Hannah, (Mia Wasikowska) the girl that Simon is in love with and takes over his home. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Apart from the fact this is a brilliant story with an excellent cast, right down to Paddy Considine's amusing cameo, I was enthralled by the photography and the unusual but mesmerising design of the film.  I definitely fell in love with the design. The 50s and 60s style clothing blended with the 80s style technology mixed with a kitsch decorator, especially for the restaurant and ball scenes. Everything was fine tuned down to the creases in Simon/James obviously-too-big-for-him suit.

A fantastic film that, in my opinion, didn't need to spend time explaining the strange occurrences that happened in the film, the mystery of the double makes it stand out from other mystery stories or any film, involving a double.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Original Vs Remake

I had the idea to do a few reoccurring posts about original films in their original language vs the American/British remakes.

I remembered once in college, studying Film Studies, our teacher made us watch, The Vanishing. First the Dutch original the  the US remake. We were challenged by the teacher, asking us which was better and which we liked. The majority voted that the original was by far the better film but actually liked the remake.

I can't speak for the rest of my class back then but the reason why I was guilty of preferring the US remake was simply it had a redeeming ending. The fact the original was in Dutch and had subtitles did not faze me. Whether a film has subtitles or not bares no conclusion on whether it is a good film or not.

I couldn't bare to watch either film again, for different reasons. The original was better acted, structured and held more suspense and intrigue. It may have had the edge because we saw it first but the remake started off serious then turned into a ridiculous farce. It even ended with the cheesiest lines of all time. There isn't any point repeating it as it will bare no context here. But trust me, it was bad.

The original, 'The Vanishing' made in 1988, directed by George Sluizer was about a Dutch couple, Rex and Saskia on holiday in France. They stop at a petrol station and Saskia goes to buy drinks but never returns. Three years go past and Rex is still searching for her. His new girlfriend, Lieneke, leaves him as she is can't stand his obsession with finding Saskia. Raymond, a respectable family man is the one who kidnapped Saskia from the petrol station. He had been experimenting with chloroform and planning to abduct a woman. After three years of watching Rex search for Saskia, Raymond makes contact and tells him he is the one who took Saskia but there is no evidence to connect him to the crime. He offers Rex the chance to find out what happened to Saskia by experiencing exactly what happened to her.After drinking some spiked coffee, given to him by Raymond, Rex wakes up and finds that he has been buried. Above ground, Raymond relaxes and reads a newspaper with a story about the mysterious disappearances of first Saskia, now Rex.

As I said, not a pleasant and quite unsatisfying ending, but still a good film. The reminded me of 'Funny Games' in a small way. Funny Games made me and everything, mostly because everything in that film happened for no reason and all the characters were helpless, it was terrifying. The character of Raymond in The Vanishing is similar. He abducts a woman and kills her, slowly, for no real reason except that it is an experiment. It is vicious and there is no punishment for me. I felt uneasy while watch the credits. I will never watch this film again. Once was enough.

In the 1993 remake 'The Vanishing' was also directed by George Sluzier. The practice of remaking films with the same director has been done before, such as Funny Games was remade by director Michael Hanke. I think this is so they have control of the story.

The remake is slightly different. It begins the same way with a couple, Jeff and Diane on holiday, they stop for gas and she is abducted. But the abductee, Barney, goes directly to Jeff and straight out offers to show him what happened but Jeff experiencing what Diane went through. Then the film is told in flashbacks. Back in the present, Jeff's new girlfriend, Rita tracks the two men down and saves Jeff who was already buried. Jeff kills Barney then Rita and Barney are happily selling the story to publishing company at the end of the film. Quite different.

The remake, to be fair, had a ridiculous ending, plus Barney the abductee isn't given the same sort of situation as Raymond. He had issues so therefore it was understandable that he was a murderer, but Raymond had a proper family, work and was known in the community, why was he a killer, we, the audience isn't given a real explanation. But the killer is punished and I felt better, the I heard the last cheesy line in the remake and felt just as bad as the original.

I still agree with what I said back in college doing my A levels. But I thought about other films with remakes and how different they were, so I have compiled a short list of films to watch. I can tell you now, Funny Games is NOT on the list. I was so disturbed by that film, I practically threw it out of the window to get away from it.

Next Original vs Remake:

Mostly Martha, 2001 (German) vs No Reservations, 2007 (US)