Monday, 31 August 2015

Maps to the Stars, Treasure and Through Time

I think I've always had an interest in maps. Fictional maps. I find them facinating. In fact I had a map on my wall in front of me at my desk for years. It was a replica of a real map, a souvenir I bought when I visited the Golden Hind, Sir Francis Drake's ship, which is a stone's throw away The Globe Theatre. I had the map on the wall since I was 8 until I moved out of my bedroom at 15. I was only moving to a bigger room next door but I decided not to put it back up. Its rolled up in a tube somewhere now but it was my first map.

For longest time I was obsessed and to some extent still am obsessed with the map of Middle-Earth. I had that on my wall for a few years, even had one up on the wall at my Nan's house. I would study it and when combined with my Tolkien Encyclopedia I would be absorbed for days.

I was inspired to make my own maps for my own writing, all fictional of course. When I tried to map out from knowledge I was too worried about it being correct. I made floorplans, diagrams to go with stories and mapped out character journeys too. Fictional maps have always been more mysterious and fun.

Of course the most famous of maps is from Treasure Island, made famous by the book and then by various adaptations. My dad used to read Treasure Island to my sister and I, we even listened to the story tapes on long car journeys, along with other adventureous tales. Car journeys were quite fun back in the 90s, especially when we got our own walkmans. Anyway, back to maps. No matter what the adaptations are like or where or when they're set, there is always a map.

Most movie maps lead to treasure and are adventure themed, some maps that are of the world, show long journeys and others just show the landscape.

From the top, is the map from The Mummy (1999) which leads to Hamunaptra, and what some people believe holds treasure. The map used in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which leads to The Fountain of Youth, a sort of treasure. Then we have The Goonies map complete with key that leads to One-Eyes Willy's treasure. The latter two are obvious pirate themed maps as of course, lots of pirates made maps and left them lying around.

Narnia and the Kingdom of Wisdom as seen in The Phantom Tollbooth are obviously both fantastical places. The map in The Phantom Tollbooth isn't to find treasure but to navigate through the crazy land to (que lightening) The Castle in the Air. The last map is a fictional location in Maine, USA called New Penzance Island from Moonrise Kingdom. Explantions throughout the film about the island make it feel like its a real place where scouts did go for camp. It's not fantastical, just believable.

Anyone recognise this one? One of the most basic maps ever. Its the map to dry land from Waterworld, now a cult hit. I'm sure there are some people out there with this tattoo. This could be a 'treasure' map as it does lead to a great reward but its more like Phantom Tollbooth, just showing the way.

I actually own one of these beautifully detailed maps. A prize possession as its just an amazing peice of art. Again, this is not a treasure map, not even a journey map, its just a useful item to have when you're running around Hogwarts.

 Last map is from Time Bandits and yes its a map of time showing all the holes left behind when the supreme being was making the world. Brilliant film aside, the map itself is impossible to read, it lookd like constellations or stars but its a map of the entire world's timeframe. A great map from the movies.

I still continue to draw the occassional map for a story or floor plan, sometimes it even helps to literally map out a story.

If you can think if any other maps in movies, fictional or otherwise, I'd love to know, just pop your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

August Watch List

Female focused here this month, 6 out of the 9 films on this month's list have female leads and or written by a woman. What you say? This cannot be! Yes, its happening and with more and more focus on women in film lately, I'm really pleased with the progress.

1. Hot Pursuit
The paring of Reese Witherspoon as a by the book cop trying to redeem herself and Sofia Vergara as the wife of a drug dealer who was meant to be a witness in a high profile trial, is nothing short of brilliant. But, there are very few jokes to enjoy. Speaking of short, Witherspoon's height and the fact that Vergara's selfish attitude seem to be the running jokes. Aside from a few other qualms, the messy stop start ending and obvious reveal, its a fun movie. Female buddy movies or at least female leads in comedies seem to be happening more and its a good thing, Hollywood seems to be on the way to getting just right and for this, I'm pleased. But Hot Pursuit just needed a bit more work on the writing. 2/5

2. Trainwreck
I was hesitant about this film, not because its about a woman is a mysogynist but its directed by Judd Apatow. He's an ace producer but I have not really enjoyed his films he's directed. Putting aside these two things, it was surprising. Amy Schumer of sketch comedy underdog now big leagues fame is the lead, Amy. She is a trainwreck. She drinks, alot. She sleeps around, alot. And is rather critical of her sister's life and family as well being emotionally shut down. But when she meets nice guy doctor, Aaron (Bill Hader), things change, for the better. Until (and remember, this is a rom-com so you have to have the down bit where it gets serious and people yell) the envitable happens and something gets in the way, her. I've read a few different reviews and nearly all are postive and reflective. In this film/relationship Amy is the man and Aaron is the woman - if we were going to stereotype. It's an interesting way to describe the relationship but this is more about Amy's acceptance that she needs to change as she's hurting herself and people she actually cares about so, yes, she accepts she is emotional and she doesn't have to a 'trainwreck'. When I found out that Amy Schumer, who actually wrote it, based some of the story on her life, it became more personal and I could enjoy it more. 3/5

3. Spy 
Paul Feig is at it again with his trusty pal Melissa McCarthy, an actress whom men (at least a few that I know) don't seem to like. I was skeptical at first, as always, but I loved this film, I laughed out loud at it, mainly due to the over the top insults everyone throws at each other and Jason Statham making fun of himself. I know I'm hounding this point home here but its great to see a female lead in a spy movie who isn't a trained slut and can effortless run miles without a breather. Right down to Miranda Hart being the funny sidekick, this film is not about any love interest (there is a hint but its nothing) its about taking control and proving you can do whatever you want, while working for the CIA. But please let's not ruin this with a sequel. 3/5

4. Fantastic Four
There has been such negativity around this film before it was even filmed. The announcement of the cast members made fanboys everywhere step back and question the ages, aren't they too young? As with any 'reboot' the answer is to either go younger and alternative or go darker and loyal. This film when younger, darker and stranger. I enjoyed it and even snotrted at some of the choices made but overall enjoyed the film for what it was, a science fiction film. But on reflection, its not what the fanboys ordered. For one thing, Susan Storm, doesn't even go with the rest of the gang to the weird planet/parallel universe, she ends up with her 'powers' when they get back and crash land. All these characters are disturbed by the experience and all act out of what they're character would do in the comics. Too many flaws to please those who loved the characters. I think it was better than the terrible films from 2005 and 2007, but this film recieved such a back lash I'm really surprised that this one got a planned sequel. 3/5

5. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, its about teen Minnie who has an affair with her mother's boyfriend. That's the basics. It also about her growing passion for wanting to be a cartoonist and her lust for sex and possibly love. It's brilliant and at times really funny but equal parts dark a desparing, so really what being a teenage girl is all about. Its a great cast, at first put off by Bel Powley's starring eyes but she's just right for the young Minnie. Set in the 70s there is also an air of encouragment to explore in every sense of the word, the added animation in some scenes is great too, illustrating thoughts and feelings and is all round a great film. 3/5

6. Mistress America
Oh Mistress America, how can I count the ways of how much I love thee? I think I fell in love with this film. I though I did with Frances Ha but this film was something else. It's the characters, the setting, the non story and the god damn brilliant dialogue, especially between Tracey and Brooke. The plot, so thin it doesn't even matter, Tracey (Lola Kirke) is a freshman at college in New York. She is lonely and not really enjoying her time there, she sums it up when she says 'I think by trying to fit in, I'm fitting in less' ( or something along those lines). But when her mother announces she's getting married and the husband to be's daughter lives in the city, she goes in search of her 'sister' who is Brooke (Greta Gerwig). She is weird and wonderful, selfish ans kind all at the same time. She has several different things happening but her main goal of the moment is to open a restaurant. 

Their pairing is perfect, Tracy needs a muse and someone to hang out with, Brooke needs to tell someone all her ideas and for them to actually listen be interested in her and Tracey is. The plot turns when Brooke, after money problems arise, goes in search of an old friend she claims ruined her life, from there it becomes this perfectly times screwball comedy that then sharply turns back to drama when Tracey's short story inspired by Brooke is read out. The cutting of ties hurts both women but we only really witness Tracey's downward spiral and the inspiration to carry on. The film is about these two women who are trying to fit in and get along with everything and finding each other, they find someone they can share with - sort of. As the film plays out, Tracey reads her story, which is inspired by Brooke, as a voiceover throughout and I love it. For me it reminded me of The Great Gatsby. Tracey is Nick, relating events, the observer and Brooke is of course the tragic Gatsby, but at least she realises her mistakes before its too late. I cannot express how much I loved this film and as a bonus Greta Gerwig co-wrote the story with Noah Baumbach, and a female influence shines through. 5/5

7. The Man From U.N.C.L.E
When I first about this film, it already ticked all the boxes, a adaptaion of a 60's spy TV show directed by Guy Ritchie, with Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill starring. What more could you ask for? Well an excellent soundtrack, a not too ridiculous plot and a great female lead. And yes, all that was in the film too. Special Agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and KGB Agent Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) after an awkward crossing over of missions they are forced to partner up to locate a bomb. I have to say, I though the casting seemed odd at first but after watching it, it was perfect. I also liked the fact that it wasn't all action, there was some interesting insight to the two leads characters that gave them depth. Saying all this, I can understand why some people might not enjoy it as much as me. Although set in the 60s there are aspects of the edit and behaviour of the film that have a more modern touch and those who love the original TV show might turn their nose up at it, but as I said I loved it. 4/5

8. Sorry, Wrong Number
After to taking almost hours to decide what to watch the other night, I turned to my Netflix list and watched over two nights, two great but every different films. First up, film noir that I forgot about, based on radio play. Leona (Barbara Stanwyck) a sick invalid is home alone trying to contact her husband, Henry (Burt Lancaster) who is late home. While waiting on the phone, the wires cross and she hears two men discussing a murder. Throughout the night, she calls several people surrounding a strange plot involving her husband and possibley her too. I could see how it would work as a radio play but seeing the story unfold as Leona discovers secrets was quite scary, especially the end scenes. 4/5

9. Tracks
The true story of Robyn Davidson who walked 1,700 miles across Austraila from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with her dog and four camels. The film was beautiful and even though it may seem that she was just walking, alot is conveyed is just Robyn's expressions and body languages. It's obvious from the start that she prefers her own company or her animals than people but throughout the walk she starts realise just how lonely she is and that she needs others around her. Her story was published in National Geogrpahic and photohrapher Rick Smolan actually went out to meet her along the way to document the experience. The real photographs are shown in the closing credits. It's an incredible journey to make and she is a very distant and I'm sure, would have happily disappeared into the wilderness. But her personal journey is also interesting to watch. 3/5

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Fandom Friday: 5 Crossovers I'd Love to See

I am a day late but no matter, better late than never right? I loved this week's theme! But I have to say, most of my crossover dreams were or are for shows no longer on thea air.

1. Miss Fisher + Poirot
Murder mysteries gallore. Miss Fisher is set at the end of the 20's and Poirot is set during the 30's. There is talk that the Miss Fisher film will be set in London and where does Poirot live? Good old London town. I know the series ended a few years ago with his death but wouldn't it be just perfect if she ran into Poriot while she galavanting around town solving a murder?

2. Daredevil + Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

With the reboot series of Daredevil set in the same era as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, it could make some sense to get these two into a crossover episode or double episode. Unless Netflix want to only crossover with other Netflix shows. If they are planning an Inhumans show surely this crossover could happen.

3. Parks and Recreation + The Office

I know they've both ended but having the downtrodden workers in Scranton meet the crazy upbeat folk of Pawney would have been hilarious. It could have been a bizarre set up where a local government office does a 'cultrual exchange' with anothet random company office in USA. Someone would have pointed out they're all from the same cultrual, sort of and it doesn't make sense, but it would have been great. 

4. Mad Max + Tank Girl

I have to admit I've not seen Tank Girl the film but I have had a look through some of the comics. The link, of course would be, they're both kind of set in Australia and its the future with a weird dystopian feel. You never know Tank Girl could be Max's best friend.

5. X-Men + Avengers + Fantastic Four 

Basically, I want House of M, the first book not the spin offs, the one where everyone is there. It's an amazing story and it would bring everyone together. Just stop being lame Fox and give the people what they want!

Friday, 21 August 2015

So Fetch Friday: Buildings

Over at Girl Meets Cinema, is a little slice Friday fun, So Fetch Fridays. It's great way to talk to about things that you've been excited about or in my case that have peaked my interest.

I think that as I've got older I've started to appreciate more things, like, old houses, parks, gardens and hsitorical sites. Never churches. When I was really young, my parents took my sister and I to many of these type of places, and most of the time I was dragged kicking and screaming. But into my teenage years and my 20's I can appreciate such days out and visits. Despite being told by my parents 'You want to go there? But you don't like that stuff.' You wound me madam as to how little you know me. I've always had a eye for unsual places. I know this as I've kept many postcards, ripped out pictures and photographs too of places that have caught my attention, things I;ve collected and kept for years.

My Five Fetch things are related to this theme, for want of a better way to say it, old houses. 

1. Blenhiem Palace
 When perusing the internet for days out at work I came across Blenheim Palace as a reccommeded place to visist. I suggested to the family and off we went, we even took my Nan out too. The gardens were beautiful and some of the rooms were fascinating. If you're thinking of visiting the place, I implore you, do not bother with the upstairs part, my Dad and I were bored to tears. Go for the views, the history and the large selection of cakes in the cafe.

2. Abandoned Planet
 I saw these photographs by Andre Govia, on a random site and couldn't stop looking at them. These photographs are amazing. The filmmaker in mean sees them and they scream back 'film location' to me. They're inspiring. And you can look at them all day in the coffee table book.

3. Norway
 From a Bored Panda post, I also saw these while at work and my interest in visiting the country grew. What would it be like to sit at the window and look out to see the hills of Norway a few feet away.

4. Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
The story goes that the themes park was very successful but after fiinancial difficulty and debt mounting up, the owners disappeared and the park closed in 2002. Since then there has been a suspicious fire and no sign of reopening or a new development. It's an eery place from the photographs but I do wish I'd seen it when I was in Berlin.

5. Libarabries
It's a bit of cheat this one seeing iI wrote a blog post just about these libararies. You can find the post anywhere really but just in case here it is on Flavorwire. The photo above looks like its just been lifted from The beauty and the Beast inspiration mood board.

Thursday Movie Picks: Asian Language Movies Set in East Asia (Non-Horror)

Ok, so this is a mouthful, the theme this week is Foreign Language Movies - Asian Language Movies Set in East Asia (Non-Horror). To be fair, I haven't seen nor do I intend to see any horror, its the one genre I just cannot watch. Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

1. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
I can't remember who told me to watch this film but whoever it was, they know how to picks films. Having never really 'got into' anime apart from a series 'Romeo X Juliet' and Studio Ghibli, this was my first real taste. Not only is the animation beautiful but the story is actually quite devastating, especially towards the end when certain characters are left with little to no decision. After a girl finds a strange object in the science lab at school and then accidentally falls on it, she find she has the ability to leap through time. First she uses it for frivolous things, like spending more time at kareoke with her friends. Then she ues the time jumps to fix problems shes caused until she finally has to jump through time to save people she loves. Great story and amazing animation.

2. I'm a Cyborg
A girl thinks she's a robot and after trying to 'recharge' herself is sent to a mental institution. A fellow patient, who steals then returns other pateints' traits, becomes attached to the 'robot' girl and soon a relationship develops. Its meant to be a romantic comedy but although I laughed a few bits, its really just a cute little story filled with odd people and their habits.

3. House of Flying Daggers
This was one of the first films I bought on DVD. I was intrigued having seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and I overwhlemed at how beautifully colour co-ordinated the scenes are. I read somewhere that the film goes through seasons yet the time frame is short. As well as some memorable fight scenes, the love triangle is at the forefront. A young blind girl, said to be the daughter of the head of the infamous House of Flying Daggers is caught by two guards who decide to catch the leader through the girl. One pretends to be an ally, while the other follows close behind. Secrets are revealed, double crossing and violence inthe trees follow. I loved the fact that all the assassins are all women, at least most of them are.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Back of the Shelf

I buy lots of movies. Some movies I haven't seen yet, others I haven't seen and they are still in wrappers. I mention this fact frequently but never seem to get through more than 1 unseen film.

It's been bothering me and more, especially as I'm running out of or in fact have run out of space to put anything. I do get distracted with Netflix and TV shows as they are very entertaining and time consuming in the best possible way but it means that there is less time for films to be watched and devoured.

I will aim to watch an unseen film from my own collection each week, if not week, each month, just to get through the vast pile that just keep growing. This will also help to decide if I need to sell anything or I don't like the film question why I still keep it around. I did that with 'Happiness'. I watched it once, wanted to gut myself, then buried it until my sister borrowed it unwisely. It has since been sold and moved on to well, a happier place? Anyway, its gone and thats the important thing.

 Here is where I am boasting. I have over 600 DVDs. It's rather ridiculous collection but I'm appalled and proud of it at the same time. I have quite a good book collection going on too but this is about films. When I first started buying films and TV box sets, the collection used to sit in front of me in 4 rows of 10. This measely sum seemed too much for my parents who were always and in fact still are, reluctant to buy any films. If they wanted to see something again, they either waited for it on TV or just didn't watch it. Beacuse, by this point in time, the only places you could rent films near by had gone and no one could be bothered to check if the Blockbuster down Powder Mill Lane had what they wanted. I used to inform them, most likely not. Funnily enough, I ended up working at that store for a few months before it closed down. My collection continued to grow until I must have had about 100 DVDs. I was in the habit of buying things I had missed at the cinema, buying many things in the sales and just buying new films if I had liked it.

By the time I went to Uni and came back, my collection had swelled to a height I could not accommodate. Thankfully my Dad had thought ahead and on the journey home, my final one from Uni, we stopped off at IKEA and bought some metal shelves. We miscalculated though and didn't buy enough. Years later we went back looking for more but were unsuccessful and ended up getting Swedish metaballs instead. Who am I kidding? We always had meatballs no matter what.

Also since Uni, I got into the bad habit of buying films whenever they were released. But umemployment stopped me in my tracks. That's when I took to bargain hunting on Amazon. But during bouts of steady employment, I reigned myself in and tried to stop myself. Buying DVDs and watching films may seem like an addiction and at times it is. Its the realm of a shopping addiction except I do find myself stopping, holding the boxset and wondering first, 'can I buy this cheaper elsewhere?' then I think 'do I need this?'. Before Uni and during, when I bought DVDs, I watched them, most of the time, immediately. I was also encouraged to buy them because I was after all, doing a film degree. My friends and I can all boast vast, beautiful collections. We even rearrange in different orders from time to time. It relaxes me.

But as you can see from my spoils of late that there are times when I cannot resist. In my defence, most of these were bought very cheaply (thank you FOP!) or were a rare edition. I have also sold a few here and there but in no way does it balance out. I might have to start a one in, one out decision making. My challenge is to get this through this pile, preferably without buying anymore but I know thats a stretch. What I will aim for is to watch them all, but the end of the year. It may seem kind but I know the pile will only get bigger.

Some of the titles in this pile are from my Blind Spot list so they will definitely be watched before the year is done.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Devastating Crushing Endings

This weeks theme describes exactly how I feel about quite a few films. Movies with Devastating Crushing Endings that Makes You Want to Weep. Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

I think there is a difference between depressing endings and depressing films and unsatisfying endings are a whole other problem. I don't believe in the 'Hollywood' edning and that it works all the time, but when a film has been dragging you through the mud the whole way through, a light at the end isn't too much to ask. So follows 3 threes I watched once (except 2, I watched that twice for some crazy reason) and never again. They seem to also follow a pattern, drugs, sexual abuse and death.

1. Breaking the waves
I remeber while writing an essay for Uni about Dogme 95 I sought this films out as it was part of the movement and meant to be highly acclaimed. What I saw was one of the most depressing films I had ever seen. A young Scottish woman, Bess, falls in love with and soon marries an  oil rig worker, Jan. But while on the rig he is serverely injured resulting him being paralyzed. He asks her to take a lover. She ends up being shunned by her church, then raped and murdered by some sailors. It's just all round horrible. Sorry if that spoilt it for some people but its a sad film, you need to know going in.

2. Requiem for a Dream
I'm not sure how anyone could have read the book, let alone watch this film more than once. I watched it twice and I regret it. It is a well made film but the stories are just so bleak, not to mention the ending, seeing all the characters curling up, each having ruined their lives with herion and pills. One driven crazy by diet pills, one loosing an arm after being infected, one turned to prostitution and the other in prison being absued. This whole film is the best anti drugs campagine and would put anyone off drugs surely. I don't actually remember any happy moments in this film.

3. 21 Grams
The second film in the 'Death Trilogy' and for it was the weakest as it was too down trodden. Three people with strong connections. Recovering drug addict released from prison then accidentally kills the husband and children of another recovering drug addict in a car accident. Dying man whose wife wants a child, recieves the heart of the dead husband only to have the organ reject him. There is a bit about revenge in there but ultimately there is real happy ending, these people are all scarred and will remain that way. The title of the film is interesting though, apparently when we die, we loose 21 grams and it's meant to be our soul leaving our bodies.