Friday, 31 July 2015

Waiting For a Revolution

I've noticed recently that there has been quite a stir on the subject of women in film. And feminism in general. I'm quite proud of this and also sceptical as I don't think I've ever been a 'proper' feminist. 

In terms of the film industry and in other industries I have of course noticed sexism left right and centre, and it's been blantent too. Sometimes subtle but not often. Sexism is creeping back into the limelight and it's good in a way but I know, sadly, that it will soon die down. 

I  know I got all uppity about the '100 Greatested Characters' feature in Empire, a magazine I have a lot of love for, having read it since 2003, but it just annoyed me. To most readers, who are most likely men, would have thought nothing of this. The people I noticed who did step back and go 'huh?' were other film bloggers. The audience out there, beyond the cinephile circles, don't care about female characters. But when shown or given the option to see films where women are the focus, the audience will watch, but they're not given a place by the male dominated industry. 

I found that men could make something medioacre and enjoyable, very average and be praised. But if a woman made a similar type of film, they would be judged and said that they're film 'bombed' and then forever more be under the critical eye of critics and peers. What I'm saying is, women are judged more harshly and not often given another chance to shine. 

We know women are creative. Little White Lies celebrates female filmmakers, well, a select list of them, in their latest issue. Despite being shocked that Nadine Labaki was not included in the list [I had a short Twitter conversation with them about this] I thought the whole issue was a brilliant celebration. It brought to light some films and filmmakers I hadn't seen or heard of and I am always looking to champion a female filmmaker. But the fact that only 7 or 8% of the films made are made by a woman is just pitiful. The subject is brought up regularly but in small ways, but it always seems to be that awkward conversation that people try to brush under the carpet. Everyone is aware of it but no one wants to talk about it for too long.

I read an article in a free magazine with Robin Wright on the cover, the title on the cover was 'WE NEED A REVOLUTION' and she's right. In the article she talks about her life, ex-husbands, her children  and  more interstingly, her career. It used to be a topic that there was no good roles for women over 40 and now its just, there are very few good roles for women. Robin Wright says that she's fed up of playing the 'pained wife' role and I hear her. I'm fed up of seeing great actresses in the 'wife' or girlfriend' role, the filler role. It's dull.

The good roles seem to be on TV which is fine but film needs a boost. If more stories about women were written and then allowed to be made, things could be on they're way to change. At the moment though these 'women' films are mostly indies or niche films. I know I mention it everytime, but what Cate Blanchette said at the Oscars was right.

Another thing that RW mentioned in the article was Rosanna Arquette's mention about equal pay in USA. This is part of the whole sexism thing, women are deemed worthy enough to paid the same! Emms Thompson recently brought this to light, oh in a very small article in a free commuter newspaper.   Just a few lines from a respected, writer, producer, actress but its small news apparently. In another article online (link above) her comments are stretched out further to say that "... nothing has changed, and that some forms of sexism and unpleasantness to women have become more entrenched and indeed more prevalent."

 I'm not sure what to say on reflection as I think the struggle against sexism in the film industry will need everyone to band together. But with film festivals dedicated to celebrating women opening then closing and other schemes that are aimed to encourage and support women in the industry being few and far between, we are looking at being in this for the long haul. But we should never give up. Women are creartive and should be given a chance to show it not scrape by trying to prove themselves.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Twins

I immediately thought of a certain Christopher Nolan film for this but it would be a very big spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen the film. As I think it was a very good film, I chose not to spoli it and go with something that everyone knows. There seem to be a few recent and upcoming films that feature or centre around twins. I'd like to point out it was a good year for twins films in 1998, both 1+ 2 were released then. Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

1. The Man in the Iron Mask
A late 90's costume conspiracy drama, inspired by literature, featuring a very impressive cast. The three musketeers from the classic novel, after years of doing their own thing are reuinited once more when France is being ruled by a spoilt reckless brat. The rumour that the king actually has a twin brother who he imprisoned after he came to thrown is spread. The musketeers plot to swap the brothers so that France will have a just and fair king. It features a young Leonardo DiCaprio at King Louis XIV and some more seasoned actors as the Musketeers. Great fun. 

2. The Parent Trap
This is the classic twin film. Of course there was the first film in 1961 with Hayley Mills playing the twins with a bad accent and equally terrible haircuts. But I'm talking about the film that made Lindsay Lohan famous. For a while (because I had never heard of her) I thought they were twins. Long lost twins sisters find each by chance at a summer camp and decide to reunite they're parents by swapping places. It's ridiculous but so much fun, I wore my VHS out watching this film. Now don't tell me you never tried to recreate the handshake?

3. The Pretty One

A more recent less seen pick with a very sad and tragic story. Both twins played by Zoe Kazan, Audrey, pretty, independant, lives far away, then theres Laurel, she stays at home, paints odd paintings, never really had an experiences. After Audrey comes home to visit her sister for their birthday, they end up in a car accident killing Audrey. But after mis-identifying Laurel, they think shes Audrey. Obviously in shock, confused and all round devastated, she realises the families mistake on the day of the funeral but after hearing upsetting comments about her, she leaves, pretending to be her dead sister. She goes out to experience things she never got to while trying to come to terms with her great loss. It's brilliantly made film dispite the tragedy always lurking.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

July Watch List

It has been an unsually slow month for films for me. I have admittedly been preoccupied with many a TV series. Finished re-watching Sense8, OITNB season 3, watching all 3 series of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, season 2 of Bojack Horseman and catching up with Humans on channel 4. I fear that I will be more distracted in August with Partners in Crime starting up on BBC this week, more Humans and getting distracted by Dragons: Race to the Edge (How to Train Your Dragon series, that is brilliant). Here are the few films I got to see, by the way there are some spoilers but the alerts are in RED so look out for these.

1. Amy
 I was honestly never a proper fan of Amy Winehouse, I like a few of her songs but for me she was better known for successful career and contantly being in the news. I think for that reason I found this documentary both revealing and distressing. We all know, she was a real human being, she was normal, she just happened to have a unique voice, talent, personality to match but she made bad choices. The film is well constructed, showing home and personal footage, with a soundtrack of her unheard work and songs we know too well. All the interviews especially for the film are voice only shown over news footage, media interviews and stills, it makes it more tragic hearing the distress in some of the friends' voices and dislike those who did nothing to help. If you were a great fan of her work, I would say listen to her music but if you're intrigued about the story behind what the newspapers sold, I would recommend this film.  4/5

2. Terminator: Genysis
Critics seem to dislike it, at least most did. I read a few reviews constructively praising and finding fault at the same time. I am more inclined to agree with the latter. There seems to be a trend going round at the moment (this seems to happen every few years) that a successful brand has films added to it or its just rehashed again. This film is both. The first two Terminator films were brilliant, the third film was a waste of time and a huge regret. The fourth film, on reflection, was an attempt to start the franchise up again at a different time and to be honest was a bit confusing, plot wise too. The reason why the 3rd and 4th films didn't quite work, I think, were to do with the focus. The first film is not about the hero, it's about the hero's mum and her protector. The second film featured the future hero, but he wasn't the prime focus, that's what set the good films apart from the not great ones. Genysis changes all that. The focus is back on the right people/machine, Sarah, Kyle and T-800. It adds in (SPOILER ALERT) Skynet in such a minor way, it irritated me, they could have used that more than (SPOILER ALERT) John Conner who is not prime focus but he is altered in a way that should have been lept secret and not blasted all over the trailer. (SPOILER OVER) This film pays homage to the first two films which should appease the fans and then resets everything else which should have enticed new fans, but I feel this film was for those die hard fans to enjoy. I thought the film is great but I can understand the snags. But I hope that another film will be on its way and just left hanging in mid air, then I would be annoyed. 3/5

3. Magic Mike XXL
I have to say, Magic Mike was one film I didn't see screaming out for a sequel. But here is it, thanks to Channing Tatum himself, as he is one of the producers. The story is simple, the Kings of Tampa have been left in learch by Dallas, the leader who disappeared with The Kid, excellent that neatly explains why they are not there and nothing to do with the fact one actor didnt want to do the film and the other was so terrible to work with he was not asked back. The other guys coax Mike out of stripper retirement and temporarily away from his blossoming business dream. They go on the road to a stripper convention because apparently those exist. The usual 'last time' speeches happen, new friends made, old ones revisited and yes they all dance and strip, as expected. It was a fun film, I'm going to lie. There were a few kinks but it was a less serious follow up from the first film. And that horse girl is not in it, which was a bonus. 3/5

4. Ant-Man
Having looked forward to Edgar Wright's version of Ant-Man, especially as the script was co-written with Joe Cornish, this film set to be film gold. Then, Marvel studios went and messed it up, resulting in Wright leaving the project he has worked 10 years on. In this respect, YOU'RE THE WORST MARVEL! Another less impressive director was brought and the actors who had no choice carried on. The ghost of what could have been, certainly in the script, the precence of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish was there, not only in the credits. The film is fun and now an integral part of the Marvel universe. The film did feel like it was ticking boxes in a heist film rather than a traditional superhero film, which could be good or bad, depending on which movies you prefer. The main faults were to do with the direction of the 'villain' and his actual purpose. But the funny side characters sort of made up for this flaw. I always thought Paul Rudd was an odd choice for a superhero but he brings comedy as well as motivated father wanting to be with his daughter too. But after all this, I am still left wondering what would have Wright's film been like. 3/5 

5. Maggie
From the trailer and the little I read about the film, I thought this little indie type film was about a father looking for his daughter who is slowly turning into a zombie. What it actually is is a film about a mysterious disease that is explained through a series of radio interviews while Wade (an actually impressive Arnie Schwarzenegger) looks for his infected daughter Maggie (an equally impressive Abigail Breslin). This is a very human story about someone slowly turning into a zombie. It follows Maggie's last few weeks. We all know she's going to 'turn', its mapped out from the start. Over the course of the film we meet others who have been affected by this disease, that seemed to have originated in schools affecting and infecting mainly children. Maggie's injuries are by accident and attack. The bond between father and daughter is stronge and understated. It's a very slowly paced film and is probably too long but its an interesting view to take on the whole zombie thing. 3/5

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Sequels

 There are just too many great sequels out there to pick from. Of course I am not counting the terrible straight to video/DVD efforts, but the greats like Ghostbusters, Die Hard, Star Wars, X2, Honey I Blew Up the Kids and those films that didn't even warrent a sequel, Pitch Perfect 2, Magic Mike XXL, Ted 2, I could go on but I won't.

When I was younger, for some reason my sister and I would always get to see the sequel first. I saw Ghostbusters 2, Empire Strikes Back, Back to the Future 2, Terminator: Judgement Day first. This was a strange coincidence.

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

1. Back to the Future 2
As stated above, I saw this film first and this is how I fell in love with this trilogy. I experienced the future Hill Valley before the past one. I saw flying cars and old Biff before I saw a younger version of everyone. I will always love this film more than the others, even though the first film is beyond the scope of brilliance. The Secret Cinema event, recreating Hilly Valley was epic and kept the flame of 80s nostalgia, mixed with 50s nostalgia with added hope and wonder for the future and after all some of things predicted in the film did eventually (in some way) come true. But its 2015 and still no sign of flying cars. Or that Sports Almanac.

2. Addams Family Values
Besides the first film being hilarious, quotable, riduclosly good, the sequel was just that tiny bit better. This is probably because it had the two things, Debbie the serial killer and Camp Chippewa. There are also some excellent lines in this film, a favourite is Nathan Lane's cameo police officer when he meets the family, 'Who are? What are you? Who moved the rock?'. There are also a few plots going on, Fester wanting to find love, Debbie wanting to kill Fester after marrying him, Wednesday and Pugley at camp trying break out and Gomez and Morticia's timeless romance even finding space in the time frame of the film. It's a film my friends and I always seem to quote at some point for no reason, but then again, no reason needed.

3. Day watch
Having not seen that many Russian films, I'm not sure what made me want to watch Night Watch. Forget Timur Bekmambetov ever went to Hollywood and made a couple of bad films, remember for Night Watch and the great sequel, Day Watch. This was way back in 2005 and I was just getting into my cinephile shoes. I got the film cheap and was hooked. I bought the sequel as soon as I finished. Day Watch obviously had that 'second film with bigger budget after success of first film' vibe and the story was a bit muddled. But after a second watch, I got into it. The characters are great, plus is a fantasy based story rather than pure supernatural, which I liked. Anton, the reluctant hero continues on as a Light Other, while trying to cover upthe attacks made by his crazy son who is now a Dark Other. Underneath he is a spoilt brat who wants his father all to himself but on the surface, he is being used as weapon to start a war. All set in Moscow, an unbelievably fresh view from the constant shots of LA, New York or some other American city.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Liebster Award

First and foremost, thank you to Kevin from Speaks in Movie Lines , Wendell from Dell on Movies and Rebecca from Almost Ginger for being very generous and nominating me. Truely overwhelmed and very excitied that my little blog here has caught the eye of excellent bloggers.

To honour both nomnations, I'll answer both set of questions (only fair right?), which means this may be one epic post.

For the uninitiated, this is an award bestowed upon bloggers by their fellow bloggers. When you are nominated, there are a few simple rules to follow in order to accept your award:
1. Thank the blog who nominated you and link back to them.2. Nominate up to 11 other bloggers to receive the coveted award.3. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.4. Tell your readers 11 random facts about yourself.5. Give the nominees 11 questions to answer on their blog when they post their nomination.

To get the ball rolling and to follow in the steps of my nominators, I'll begin with the weird and wonderful facts...


1. I talk very excitedly about pumpkin - mostly pumpkin lattes
2. I have seal menagerie
3. Every year I give up chocolate for lent and am successful until Christmas time
4. At primary school I told people that I was named after Alice (of Wonderland fame) because its my middle name
5. I am shamelessly addicted to murder mystery TV shows, particularly Poirot and Miss Marple
6. I've been on the front page of a national newspaper with Carey Muligan - funny story
7. Hitchcock and I both suffered from a similar traumatic event in our lives (not at the same time, no time travel invovled here)
8. My go to movies when I'm ill are Soapdish, Rear Window and Dredd
9. I'm a published poet (anthology stuff)
10. In February I injured my back in a trampoline accident - despite having taken classes for 5 years in my youth
11. I recently got a second tattoo - its a fox!


From Wendell

1. What movie is most responsible for making you a film buff?
I started to take more pride my film knowlege as well as my thirst for more after I saw Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
2. If there were a movie made about your life, who should play your significant other?
Hmmm, that's a difficult one, but seeing as the film about my life would be greatly exaggerated, I'd go with Charlie Cox or Aneurin Barnard
3. Name an event you've been a part of that they should make a movie about.
Most of the events I've been a part of have been tame-ish. But any large family gathering is always good.
4. Name an event you wish they would stop making movies about.
Weddings. They're over done. That or Christmas films.
5. What villain do you think would make a great hero? Why?
Katniss Everdeen. She's deadly and if you just flipped a switch, she would make a marvelous evil villian. As long as her sister was there too.
7. Name a movie you love from a genre you hate.
Hate horror but I do like Cabin in the Woods, mainly because of Fran Kranz.
8. Name a movie that's so bad it's awesome.
Showgirls. This is a recent admiration. After seeing it at a special event at the Prince Charles Cinema, I can't get enough of Nomi and all the ridiculousness.
9. What is your favorite color?
10. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Love dogs, allergic to both.
11. How and why did you become a blogger?
I started it to help with my disseration and to vent, quickly realising that blogging is not for the latter, I found it a perfect way to discuss film and get my thoughts out there to find other film lovers.

From Kevin

1. (Stealing this one from Wendell) What movie is responsible for making you a film buff?
Same as above.
2. What's your earliest movie memory?
Watching The Lion King in the cinema when it first came out.
3. What was your most cherished title you owned on home video as a kid?
This changed frequently as we had many Disney movies, I think it was Alice in Wonderland on VHS, then it was The Beatles Yellow Submarine - wore that video out.
4. What is your current favorite Blu-ray or DVD that you own?
Currently its the very special, not to mention beautiful new release of The Third Man.
5. Who is your all-time favorite movie character?
No idea. Too broad a question, but let's say for now, it's The Dude. He introduced me to White Russians.
6. What is your favorite TV drama?
Battlestar Galactica
7. What is your favorite TV comedy? 
30 Rock/Spaced
8. What is the last movie you watched?
Oh dear. It was Magic Mike XXL.
9. Favorite food? 
10. Any pets?
I wish. 
11. (Stealing this one as well) How and why did you become a blogger? 
Same as above.

From Rebecca

1. What film do you wish you’d come up with the idea for?
It was a a Disney short called 'The Whale who wanted to Sing at the MET' its about an opera sining whale. It's pure brilliance. 
2. Name your favourite classic Hollywood actor/actress.
Not much can beat Hepburn.
3. Francis Ford or Sofia?
At a small push Sofia - I really like The Virgin Sicides.
4. De Niro or Pacino?
De Niro - he's annoyed me less in his old age.
5. What’s your favourite time of year and why?
Autumn, not just because its my birthday but its not cold yet with the warm air still hanging around from summer. Also BFI Film Festival.
6. Do you remember your first family holiday, if so where was it?
I remember it being in Cornwall, love it there. We stayed in two places, the upside down house and the flat with the elephants upstairs.
7. If you were Ilsa Lund, who would you choose, Victor Laszlo or Rick Blaine?
Rick Blaine? I've not actually seen Casablanca yet.
 8. What TV show does everyone talk about that you haven’t seen and have no interest in ever watching?
Quite a few - at the moment, it looks like Breaking Bad is going that way. That or any Kardashian thing.
9. Is there one particular film that people will be shocked to know you haven’t seen?
Probably Casablanca.
10. Have you read a book that you think should be made into a film, if so what is it?
The Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde, all excellent stories.
11. How and why did you become a blogger?
Same as above.



1. If you could remake any film, which one would it be?
2. What TV show can you not get enough of right now?
3. Name your top 5 favourite directors.
4. If you could walk onto a any film set tomorrow, what film would it be?
5. If you could only watch one type of genre, what would it be?
6. Tea or coffee?
7. What recent book have you read that was yelling out to be adapted? TV or Film?
8. What is the last film you either walked out on or stopped watching mid film?
9. What would your superpower be? Would you be good or bad?
10. What's your favourite aspect about blogging?
11. (Stealing from Little White Lies) What do you love about movies?

 Thank you again to Wendell, Rebecca and Kevin!! Hope all nominees have as much fun as I did with the questions, can't wait to see the answers.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)

No aliens, no space. That narrows it down a bit but science fiction is such a fast subject there are plenty of amazing films out there. I've struggled to bring my list down to just 3 choices.

1. Blade Runner
Rather an obvious choice, but most of Philip K Dick's adaptation are a no brainer for non alien and space detail science fiction stories. Replicants, created by the Tyrell Corporation, with the creator looming over LA in a gigantic pyramid, were bioengineered beings with a 4 year life span. When 4 are found out to have come to Earth illegally, Rick Dekker is on the case to track them down. It's gritty, it's realistic futuristic to an extent, its more a neo noir than sci-fi and its damn good.

2.  Metropolis

I studied this film back in college in Film Studies, along with the other silent gilm favourites but this film stayed with me. The production design was superb and the story was true science fiction involving robots, mad scientists, a city where the workers made things work from below and the wealthy enjoy life above. The famous scene where the robot is turned into the image the heroine is brilliant and scary at the same time.

3. Looper
Had to tick time travel of the list. I know that people were torn about this film but I am a big Rian Johnson fan ever since Brick. I do love a good hitma film and this has the sci-fi/manhunt parts added in as well as an epic soundtrack. Great cast and no, I didn't suspect the end result. In the future time travel has been invented, mob gang members employ hitmen in the past to kill people from the future by sending them back in time, the ones who do the deeds are called 'Loopers'. Brilliant hook and I think it followed through. But I have to say the best scene is near the start 'a life in a day' sequence is filmed so well. Oh and one last thing, I really dislike the kid in this, he's creep beyond belief.

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Are Female Characters Just Not That Great?

I love Empire magazine. I've been reading it since 2003. I have all but 3 issues from that time until now. I love everything about it from the reviews to the articles. Just like everyone else who reads it, I'm sure from time to time you'll disagree with certain reviews. Sometimes I question the focus of some articles or the point for some of them but hey no matter, its a film magazine, there will be disagreements.

BUT the latest cover and focus in this month's issue is about 'The 100 Greatest Characters'. They were voted by the readers. I think I even voted. But do you know how many of these characters were female? 10 out of 100. 10% of the vote. At first I was annoyed as its no secret mostly mem read film related magazines. But then I thought 'wait, does that mean no one thought any female characters were worth mentioning?'

The 10 characters were a mixture of ages and not all main characters either. One character picked was even voiced by a man so, not sure if that one can be counted. The usual 'favourites' were in there, Ripley from the Alien film universe, The Bride from Kill Bill, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. Then there were the ones I was proud to see, Marge from Fargo and Amelie. But Amy from Gone Girl? She's a great character but she's a terrible representation for female characters in film.

While on my journey home I thought of all the great female characters in films that I admire.When I told my dad about the list and I asked him to guess, he started reeling off a list of characters that I hadn't even thought of; Catwomen, Thelma and Louise, Working Girl, just to name a few.

Apart from thinking of my own list of great female characters, this also reminded me of another post I wrote about The Bechdel Test. The rules are that the film has to pass these three rules:
  1. The movie has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man
The joke is that in the original comic, the two women discussing the test say that the last film they saw was 'Alien'. Thinking about this recently, a film I loved, '8 Women' has only 8 cast members but the film just about scrapes by as most of the conversations between all the woman are about men. It's actually rather disappointing.

Even some of my own ideas I've looked over again and thought it doesn't include enough female characters.

Going back to Rosanne Arquette's speech that brought women, clapping to their feet in support, she was right to say this and I'm glad she did, it was empowering. But I thought that Cate Blanchett's speech at the Oscars. 'The world is round people' is right. Films with great female characters are rare but they shouldn't be. People, the audience do want to see them not just when they are in an action role either, even though Charlize Theron's Furiosa is a strong contender for the list.

Here are just a few characters that I thought were worth a mention; Nina Sayers (Black Swan), Clementine Kruczynski (ESOTSM), Princess Monoke, Eve Harrington & Margo Channing (All About Eve), Norma Desmond (Sunset Blvd), Princess Leia (Star Wars), Mattie Ross (True Grit), Black Widow, Mary Fischer (She Devil), Juno, Leeloo (The Fifth Element), Cher Horowitz (Clueless), Madeline Ashton & Helen Sharp (Death Becomes Her), Jeanette (Jasmine) Francis, Gladys Leeman (Drop Dead Georgeous), Regina George (Mean Girls), Peggy Carter (Captain America), Vera Drake, Sandra Wilkinson (Billy Elliot), Mari & LV (Little Voice), Sister Clodagh (Black Narcissus), Jane Hudson (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane), Vivian (Lauren Bacall), Hana (The English Patient), Layale (Caramel)....

I'm sure there are many many others, so, please let me know which female characters you think deserved to be on that list. I'm hoping to create my own list so it would be even better to hear from everyone.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Road Trip Movies

This week its Road Trip movies, which can come in all modes of transport. But for 'road' movie, I thought vehicles not planes or trains or ships. I've gone for an obvious choice, an old favourite and an obscure find.

Wristcutters: A Love Story
Set in the after life, which looks exactly like it does in the land of the living only worse. When Zia kills himself he end up where everyone who commits suicide goes. A place of bland jobs, weirds characters, uncomfortable situations and no where to escape. But when word gets out there there is cult leader performing mircales, Zia, along with two strange pals, set out to hopefully be returned to the land of the living. Its an odd films and literally the definition of quirky. A serious subject with a bit of romance and comedy on the side.

Thelma and Louise
Obviously, this is the obvious choice for a road movie theme. Two women, best friends, one annoying and ridiculouslt naive, the other just plain cool. Its a great film and promotes strong female characters in film (despite some light crimes along the way). Plus, the ending is freeze frame perfect.

It Happened One Night
I adore this classic Frank Capra film. I love because the two lead characters (and actors) have great chemistry. It isn't over the top, its hilarious in a few places and (apart from the censored ending) really does make you yearn for the old films. Spoilt heiress, Ellie, tries to runaway to marry a playboy aviator who her father disapproves. Caught short on a bus into the city, she accidentally meets disgraced journalist Peter. The two pair up in the agreement he gets the scoop on her love affair. But of course on the road the two go through a few changes of the heart. Classic road trip movie that is in no danger of being ruined by a remake. Look out for the walls of Jericho coming down.

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

Monday, 6 July 2015

June Watch List

Sorry this super late, but after illness, hateful job results in missing everything. Sorry if there are a few spelling errors too...

1. Jurassic World
As a very big fan of Jurassic Park, constantly quoting lines, creating drinking games in it's honour and having a sister who has been dinosaur mad since we were very young (I remember), I really loved Jurassic World. Everyone has seen the trailers and posters so no need to go into story detail because some of the things not in the trailer was brilliant. Now that I have established I loved the film in all its dino, nostalgic, tribute glory, I can say now; as my sister pointed out, why did the children have to be boys? It was a great mix in the original, maybe the makers were worried of repeats but still why boys? Also, in the first film they both had skills. In this film, their scenes were tiresome, except when they were being chased of course. I think the makers of the film did the right thing, a new start, with Hammond's dream coming to life. Anyone spot Henry Wu from the original film? His character has a bigger role in the books so it was great to see somebody from the old days and it was refreshing to see that it was a minor but important character. The dinosaurs were superb, especially the giant beast in the water, made me think about the BBC series, Walking with Dinosaurs, still great show. Anyway, I have a theory that Chris Pratt has audiance charisma where you love him, no matter what. We now know the winning formula; dinosaurs + Chris Pratt x fun = box office office gold! It brought the franchise back to life, I was getting worried. 4/5

2. Pitch Perfect 2
I surprised myself when I actually enjoyed the first film - Acca-cuse me! I know. I love musicals (mostly) and I love comedies with strong interesting female leads. The second installment was directed by Elizabeth Banks - who is brilliant actress comedy and or otherwise, and there was definitely a more 'strong women' and 'female friendship focus' here. The guys barely got a look in. I personally think that Skylar Astin who plays leader of The Treblemakers and Anna Kendrick's boyfriend has an amazing voice. Fun fact he is also in Hamlet 2 where he has an amazing solo. Anyway, its all about female bonding, some of these scenes are really weak and forced. Obviously the best parts are the perfomances and the comments from the two capella competition commentators, some of the lines are just gold. Despite some annoying scenes and that fact that no one in the Belles actaully does any college work, it has some good scenes and songs. 3/5

3. Woman in Gold
Based on a true story that thought ended in defeat but actually ends well and its even more triumphant as it's true. Maria Altmann won the case converning the paintings that belonged to her familt before the Nazis stole them. The paintings were then stolen by the Austrian gallery in Vienna. Among the paintings was the Portait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which had become famous. It was a painting by Gustav Klimt, commission by Maria's uncle and hung in her house until her and her husband fled for America. Apart from the legal case, there is also an emotional journey for Maria when she remembers her past. The flashback scenes are a definite highlight and heartfelt as well as terrifying. The speech Maria gives at one point in the film saying how she doesn't see a famous painting but a portrait of her beloved aunt. The painting is indeed exquistse and I was so happy to see it restored to it's rightful owner. Great film. 3.5/5

4. Slow West
I think this film is better than a true western. It is indeed slower that your average but just as many deaths involved. Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) from an weathly English family, sets out to the wild west in search of the girl he loves, Rose. Her and her father fled after an accidental death that ended with both with prices on their heads. Unknown to naive Jay, he is leading a group of bounty hunters to her. One even teams with him, Silas (Michael Fassbender), an Irish drifter/ bounty hunter. A bond is formed in the oddest of ways. The use of literal metaphors are just so tragically perfect, such as 'pouring salt in the wound' is genius. There are others that are more subtle though. MF and KMP make an odd pairing and unlikely duo but I really enjoyed that fact that it was a Brit (or American playing a Brit) and an Irishman at the centre of the American wild west. As well cultrual differences galore being thrown around with a whole bunch of other nationalities stopping, there are the usual traits of a western. Obvious villain, tough guy surviving on his own but really loney, shoot out, Indians, camp fires and wanted posters. I have to say though, Rose was completely unworthy of Jay. Go see the film and you'll agree. It's bitter but brilliant film. 3/5

5. 8 Women
I was in need of a murder mystery and I had wanted to see this film for years. Finally got my chance. Based on the play of the same name by Robert Thomas, it is about a murder of a man in a country manson  and the 8 women in his life and home, as one of them is teh murderer. Truths come to light, secrets are revealed and the costumes are divine. Each character, colour coded. Each character even has a song, which at first I wasn't sure about, but most of the songs are good. Brilliant and full of suspense with a great ending, felt like I was at the theatre. 4/5

6. Madame Bovary
The many faces of Madame Bovary haven't really changed over the years. I've not read the book and after seeing this film, I don't think I would ever want to. I really enjoyed Posey Simmonds' reworking of it in Gemma Bovary and would see that film thats out soon but this rather watery story about a woman who lives beyond her means, has affairs to escape her dull quiet life and dies a very unpoetic death, just wasn't what I was hoping for. Firstly, the story is set in France yet the accents were British (which always sounds better in period dramas) and American which, sorry to say, sounded cheap and unprofessional. It was if half the cast decided to half arse it that day. Mia Wasikowska is Australian, so why the American accent? I suppose her original accent would not have suited the material either but she has proven to put on a good British accent in the past, a reason why I thought she'd impress again. Sadly the film was unentertaining, but I have gave 2/5 because the costumes were amazing and it tried it's best. 2/5

Below are the posters for the different adapatations of Madame Bovary, there is something similar in all of them, a tragic woman poised for melodrama.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Fandom Friday: Favourite Aliens

I've missed a few Fandom Fridays lately and I couldn't miss out on aliens! There are so many evil aliens out there so I went for all friendlies or idiots or friendly idiots.

1. Dr. Zoidberg 

Everyone's favourite doctor who we hope to never meet at a hospital, clinic or anywhere else you need medical assistance. Great character and a true alien on no matter what planet he's on, even his own.

2. Max
Technically Max is an alien ship but he does have a sort of face that our hero David can interact with. He starts off as a worker drone just doing his job but of course when he makes a mistake taking David back to his time, he losens up and has fun and sorts out the time issue. Plus he learns to appreciate music, especially The Beach Boys.

3. The Guardians of the Galaxy
 They are ALL aliens so they get a grouping. These five don't really need a introduction, just imagine you're listening to 'Hooked on a Feeling' when looking at this picture. Groot, Rocket, Star Lord, Gammorah and Drax are just the best.

4. Zaphod Beeblebrox
President of the Galaxy and all round moron. He signs an order to destroy Earth thinking it was an autograph. With two heads and three arms he is bizarre looking but underneath he tries his best I suppose.

5. Paul
Supposedly the legendary alien from Area 51, he's spent many years soaking up Earth's culture, mostly from The Dude's bible but it doesn't matter he makes a great road trip companion and has a few tricks up his sleevless arms.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Blind Spot Series - North by Northwest

This is my Blind Spot entry for June, just to be clear. I was little behind on the days due to illness. On with the show.

I'm a great Hitchcock fan and the fact that I still hadn't see North by Northwest yet seemed strnge even to me. I hadn't avoided the film, in fact I had had it recorded several times when it had been on TV but somehow it was always mysteriously deleted by others. I had hoped the film would have been in my Hitchcock box set but it wasn't, I had a buy a few others that weren't included too.

Known as the 'spy' film with the famous scene where Cary Grant is running away from a crop duster, I was very open minded and didn't read up anything about it. I watched the trailer on the DVD first to get a taste of the main feature and I was surprised.

Usually, having waited so long to watch something, there is always the worry of anticlimax but not in this case. I made a wise choice in just watching blind sided if you will. The acting a little hammy at points and not to mention the quickest ending, tidy up I had ever seen, the film had a great story, great characters, a surprise and some one the shot were so perfect.

Starting with the story, Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for George Kaplan and is kidnapped, taken to see a man on an elegant estate, questioned then ultimately forced to drink a bottle of bourbon. The man who has kidnapped him is supposedly Lester Townsend, diplomat but in a spy story, nothing is that clear cut. Thornhill of course investigates and is made to look a fool as his kidnappers have tied up all lose ends especially after failing to get rid of him. Thornhill decides to go straight to the source, the UN where he meets the real Townsend. Just he is about to shed some light on the whole ordeal, Townsend is murdered and Thornhill framed.

Thornhill goes on the run. Along the way he is at first aided by Hitchcock blonde Eve Kendall but not all is merry as she is also working with his kidnappers. Thornhill tries to come to some conclusion on events as well as try and find out who the real Kaplan is.

I don't wish to spoil the film for anyone. I enjoyed the twists and turns, they may seem a little predictable but its a fun film, if you can call international espionage, murder and spys fun. Having already seen Hitchcock's second version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, it felt similar except there was less at stake which meant that anything could happen and it wouldn't matter. The evil characters played by James Mason and Martin Landau were menacing and the supposed femme fatale was a strong willed woman, not afraid to flaunt or use her sexuality when needed or wanted. Thornhill at first comes across as a bit of a cad in the few minutes we see him in his element before the kidnapping, a very well timed script, as those few minutes when hes walking with his secretary to his club is all that's needed. The film goes head first into the story and never looks back. Events happen swiftly in this film, which works in this genre, no time is wasted, every minute counts. The part of the film that is rushed beyond sense is the last 20 seconds roughly as that is how long the story spends on the end. Slightly on the ridiculous side.

The journey throughout the film shifts focus but the path doesn't change. Right from the start, we are told through questions from villian Vandamme (yes, that is the name) what Kaplan's plans are. The film visits the places mentioned, its was a check for the audience to note this and remember. At first Thornhill wants to find out who kidnapped him, then he wants to find the real Kaplan, then he wants to find Vandamme and finally he looks for Eve. But the path is always the same, maybe with the Mount Rushmore detour.

I was fascinated by the framing of some shots. They were either perfect shots, where everything was in balance, usually during scenes involving Thornhill and Eve. Then there were the eerily empty spaces, again making it ever so obvious that Thornhill did not belong in this story. He was a laid back, ladies man who worked in advertising, he was a mad man, probably best friends with Don Draper but out there on the empty road, he was out of his element.

I was pleasantly surpised and entertained by North by Northwest, a film that I was glad I waited to see for the right reasons. There are a few more Hitchcock films I still need to see, I could start a Blind Spot list just for his films. The film is nothing amazing or unusual but it is classic Hitchcock which is always worth my time.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and have a look HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers.