Saturday, 27 August 2016

Sunshine Blogger Award

I am delighted to say that I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by three very awesome bloggers. Katy at Oh So Geeky and Jenna & Allie at Flick Chicks.

I know the procedure usually goes as follows:

To accept our award, we simply have to: 
Post the award on your blog 
Thank the person who nominated you 
Answer the 11 questions they set you 
Pick another 11 bloggers (and let them know they are nominated!)
Send them 11 questions

Seeing two of my favouites have nominated me (I would have nominated them) and I've noticed they've nominated those I would have picked too - I'm going to name a few. If those I've named have already been nominated - don't worry about doing a post. You can always answer my questions in the comments if you fancy. The nominees are Almost Ginger, Halfway Here, Let's Taco 'Bout Film, Big Screen Small Words, The Girl in the Blue Jacket and You Fancy Me Mad.

I have written out some questions at the end which anyone can answer if they feel it.

I've got two lots of brilliant questions below to answer - hope you find them entertaining!

Flick Chicks'

Settle an ongoing Flick Chicks debate for us. Which Ryan is best, Reynolds or Gosling?
Gosling! Always Gosling – he can do serious and sad AND comedy. Reynolds is good 50% of the time whereas Gosling is always good (apart from Crazy Stupid Love).

Who do you think Rey’s Parents are? (We’re talking Star Wars here)
I’m hoping like hell she’s a Kenobi somehow or has parents we’ve not met yet.

What was the first movie you saw in the cinema?
The first I remember was The Lion King.

What’s your ultimate guilty pleasure movie?
I think this might be Showgirls right now as I keep begging my friend to watch it and make up a drinking game.

What’s your go-to cinema snack?
Coffee. Although I did go through a phase where it was ham and cheese – no bread, just the good stuff!

What’s your best piece of advice for new bloggers?
Stick with a subject you know you can write about endlessly and will always be interested in writing about.

Is there a movie out there that you hate with a passion, and why?
Love Actually. It’s overblown, overrated and make the British look like idiots. Harsh words but I hate it so much.

If you could create a sequel for any movie that currently doesn’t have one, which one would it be?
The Man From UNCLE – I really need to see Armie Hammer and Henry Cavil again on screen together. That would be my most recent desire. But a serious choice would be a third series of Spaced. Oh how I crave that.

What other hobbies do you have, aside from movies and blogging?
But I don’t know any other life than this! I would say I was joking but I’m not. As long as I can remember I’ve always loved films. But outside the cinema I write fiction, trying to finish a novel (that cliché) and I do like to travel, just wish I could do it more. I also occasionally do photography with my film camera in black and white. Everything looks better in black and white. I also used to go to all the London Roller Derby games but as of late I haven’t been able to go to many.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you cast to play you?
If it was a film about me when I’m older it would be Jessica Hynes but at this age? No idea.

What’s been your favourite movie of the year so far?
It’s not actually out in the UK yet but I saw it at Edinburgh Film Festival and its Hunt for the Wilderpeople without a doubt. 

Oh So Geeky's

1.       What movie surprised you the most this year?
The Neon Demon – I think it was the end scenes that threw me. In reviews it gave little away but was briefly mentioned. While watching I forgot what to expect so the was disgustingly surprised.

2.       If you published a memoir, what would you call it?
We Will Cause Problems For You

3. What movie character would you love to see made as a FunkoPop (that hasn't been made already)? Tintin!! Why is there no Tintin and Snowy? I would buy all the characters. But I’m also waiting for Fitz & Simmons. They have to be next, surely.

4. You can only place three movies into a time capsule for future generations. Which titled would you pick? I really want to say Lord of the Rings but if that going to count as a trilogy then I can’t. I think Monty Python and the Holy Grail would do nicely. Marx Brother’s A Night at the Opera and Amelie because we all should laugh and feel a connection to others.

5. Is there a movie that took you a couple of viewings to appreciate?
I watched The Life Aquatic a few times before I could appreciate the brilliance.

6. What actor/actress will make you watch a movie no matter how bad it might be?
It seems to be Sean Bean, but I might not always get to see his films. Possibly Kate Winslet.

7. What actor/actress will make you less likely to see a movie?
Adam Sandler, Anne Hathaway, Ricky Gervais…. I think there are more.

8. If you had an opportunity to tell a director to their face how much they messed up a highly-anticipated movie, would you? what would you tell them?
I don’t know if you can heap all the blame on the director as I think the script was also terrible as well as the casting of the children AND why was the title changed??, but it would be Chris Weitz for the mess that is The Golden Compass. By the way it isn’t a compass!! It’s an alethiometer!

9. Can a soundtrack make or break a movie?
Yes I think it can. Just saw Childhood of a Leader and the soundtrack is amazing. It set the mood and created an ominous and threatening feeling throughout. Without it, there would be no effect.

10. What movie made you laugh recently?
Quite a few, mainly Ghostbusters and Ab Fab the movie.

11. What movie(s) are you looking forward to seeing this fall?
Hunt for the Wilderpeople again! And the BFI Film Festival, very excited about that.

Questions for anyone who feels like answering:

*If you could turn any comic book into a TV series/films, which would it be and why?
*What film is in desperate need of being remade?
*Which true story out there do you think should be brought to the big/small screen?
*Do you have a collection that is unusual? If you so tell all! If not, do you have a collection that is your pride and joy?
*If you had to pick, which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle would you be?
*Which TV show/s out there need to be cancelled pronto?
*Do you have any nerdy tattoos or if not, what would you have?
*What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
*If you were on quest, who would be your spirit guide?
*What was the film that made you fall in love with films?
*If you could time travel - where would you go/what would you do?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Scandinavian Films

This week's theme made it even clearer to me that I haven't seen or can find any Finnish films. The only one I can name is Rare Exports but I was a tad too scared to see it. I was hoping to find more when I went to Helsinki earlier this year but all the posters were for British or American films. On the last day I did see one poster on the bus, on a small screen, a poster for a Finnish film. I recognised the name when I was picking my films for Edinburgh but it was not meant to be as it on when I couldn't see it.

I've included some films that are Scandinavian that I've seen at festivals that I thought should be included.

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

Easy Money - Sweden
Swedish-American Joel Kinnaman is JW, a aspiring student at the School of Economics, a numbers guy. He falls into the wrong crowd, eager to be a part of the elite. He starts working for drug dealers, working their numbers. There is also the story of  on the run Yugoslavian mafia boss Radovan Kranjic and the hitman who has been hired to kill him, Mrado Slovovic and his young daughter. All these characters collide with drastic consequences. Hate to say it, but if this was in Hollywood's hands, it would be run of the mill action, but in the hands of Jorge Daniel Espinosa, the film is an excellent and exciting thriller. Also Kinnaman is a stand out, he should go back to doing Swedish films. Unfortunately this film is heading to remake town and its starring Zac Efron #terriblecasting

Troll Hunter - Norway
Every now and then, particularly if I see something odd I'll just yell TTTRRROOOOOLLL! in a terrible Swedish accent. Filmed like a documentary and plays on the 'found footage' genre, but its better, more, exciting. Somehow I think the Norwegians have got it just right. Picking a fable like creature that is native to Scandinavia but making it universally appealing. Three students hoping to make a documentary about the strange animal attacks joins up with Hans, a Trollhunter. He has been working to keep trolls away from humans for years but trolls have been leaving their territories. It's a great film and oh my the trolls are hideously scary too.

Princess - Denmark
Proving that animation is definitely not just for children, this part 2D animated/part live action tale of revenge is dark, very dark. Thure Lindhardt lends his voice to August, a missionary who returns home to find that his sister, a former porn star died from a drug overdose leaving her 5 year old daughter behind. August adopts her and together they take revenge on those who ruined his sister's life with lots of violence and destruction. Brilliantly animated, with scenes that are so horrible but in 2D are quite beautiful. But must stress that I found this dark but because I liked the characters, I could watch this more than once. 

Festival Picks

These are recent films from BFI Film Festival and Edinburgh Film Festival, Norway's The Wave and Iceland's Homecoming (English title).

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Against the Crowd Blogathon

Hosting this annual Blogathon is Dell on Movies and KG's Movie Rants. I'm new to KG but I've been reading and following Wendell for a while now thanks to Thursday Movie Picks. This is actually the first time I've joined in on a Blogathon and hopefully it won't be the last. 

Everybody Loved But I Hated…

Lost in Translation

Rotten Tomato: 95%

When this film came out, there was a buzz about it, awards buzz. Sofia Coppola’s second feature film after The Virgin Suicides (which I loved). She also wrote the script, which is usually a sign of creative growth, but for me this was step to the side rather than forwards. I begged someone to go with me to see this but then regretted it. The wishy-washy nature of the film irritated me, the two characters waft around the hotel for too long and only seem to venture out into the city much later on. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) has friends in the city right? Then why has she been moping around the hotel? I’m a big Bill Murray fan but I felt like he was out of touch in this film. Maybe this was the point of the film but I didn’t enjoy it.

Quite irritatingly I was told by a close relative that I didn’t understand because I was too young. I was fuming after this comment, especially at how ignorant it was. Fair enough, I was 14 years old but I used to watch all kinds of films and I don’t believe you have to a certain age to understand that this. As I got older I watch it again and I felt exactly the same so the person who said that to me was wrong. It is possible to feel out of place and lonely no matter what age you are. I was not connected to this film as I was to Coppola’s other films, this, to me, felt like a ‘try hard’ attempt at being profound but this was a fail for me.

Everyone Hated But I Loved…

Jupiter Ascending

Rotten Tomato: 26%

The Wachowski Sisters are innovators and they are brave enough to try anything really. First there was The Matrix but alas they followed this with terrible sequels, then the misfire Speed Racer, then the ambitious adaptation of Cloud Atlas which I thought was amazing. I thought this was the sign that they were back on top of the world, but it wasn’t treated kindly. They hit new heights with Sense 8, a show I’m still obsessed with, and in the same year released Jupiter Ascending. 

As each trailer was released it gained less interest, mainly because it became more complicated and slightly ridiculous. I laughed quite a bit at the film, thanks to such great lines from Sean Bean ‘Bees don’t lie’. Of course it was smashed to pieces by critics and everyone else BUT it’s so bad its good. Looking at as a Space Opera with lots of ‘special effects’ you can enjoy it a whole lot more and embrace the ridiculousness of the whole thing, including Eddie Redmayne who acts as if he wants us to take away his Oscar. Who can resist Mila Kunis trying her hand at something weird and different or Channing 'all over your' Tatum as a wolf dog man splice who has rocket boots? Or the fact that all the 'big' villains are English, nothing gets more stereotypical, but its still enjoyable. You don't have to think when watching this. The story is all over the place in terms of plot, character, sci-fi and just credibility BUT it doesn’t matter when the film is just fun to watch. You can actually lose yourself in this film and from time to time, that’s not a bad thing.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Lazy Sunday Murder Mystery

I do love a good murder mystery. There's something about settling down on a Sunday afternoon, with some freshly brewed tea or some fancy coffee to watch an episode of 'cosey crime' or what can be considered as 'cosey'. The murders may be brutal and hideous but these stories have a certain flare. Usually with an exciting or eccentric detective, private investigator or amateur detective at the helm. Complete with sidekicks, professionals, suspects and the occasionally 'down time' to just relax.

I can re-watch this genre over and over, even though I know who the murderer is, I still come back to these programmes and usually, its on Sundays.

Every fortnight I will write about an episode (or one off drama) from one of my favourite murder mystery series but don't worry, no spoilers. Don't worry I won't spoil anything, no murderer will be revealed in these posts but just a discussion. Starting off with one of the first Poirot episodes I was obsessed with;

Honestly, I cannot remember the exact first episode I watched from the Poirot series, but Death on the Nile was the first I became obsessed with. Poirot, the famous Detective is on holiday in Egypt, enjoying the sights and of course the food, when he becomes inconveniently involved with the other guests at his hotel. A wealthy American is on her honeymoon with her new husband who she actually stole from an old friend. Said friend has followed the happy couple to taunt them while also breaking her heart even further. With an assortment of odd guest, this makes the stay quite exciting. Things heat up further when they all go on a trip down the Nile. After a jaunt around the monuments, the murder takes place but not before there is a dramatic moment involving someone being shot in the leg. Poirot steps in and begins his investigation in his unique and brilliant way.

The guests/players:
  • James Fox as Colonel Race - an old friend of Poirot's who makes a surprise appearance. He plays the role of assisting in the investigation.
  • Emma Griffiths Malin as Jacqueline De Bellefort - Simon's jilted finance who has followed him and his wife, her old friend to make their trip hell.
  • JJ Feild as Simon Doyle - Land agent to Linnet until they fell in love
  • Emily Blunt as Linnet Ridgeway/Doyle - wealthy selfish woman who stole her friend's finance
  • Judy Parfitt as Miss Van Schuyler - American socialite, rude and irritating 
  • Daisy Donovan as Cornelia Robson - her younger cousin who is happy to travel abroad
  • Barbara Flynn as Mrs. Allerton 
  • Daniel Lapaine as Timothy Allerton - A friend of Linnet's who happens to be abroad too
  • David Soul as Andrew Pennington - Linnet's American Trustee
  • Frances de la Tour as Salome Otterbourne - washed up alcoholic author looking for inspiration
  • Zoe Telford as Rosalie Otterbourne - her put upon daughter
  • Alastair MacKenzie as Mr. Ferguson - aristocrat-turned-Marxist
  • Steve Pemberton as Dr. Bessner - an Austrian doctor on holiday
  • Félicité Du Jeu as Louise Bourget - Linnet's French maid 

Featuring Emily Blunt, before she was very famous, as the wealthy bitch who doesn't care about anyone (apart from her new husband), as she is the most hated among the players so as the rules dictate, she must be the first victim.

What's different with this murder mystery, there aren't that many suspects. The two prime suspects, Simon and Jacqueline are given alibi after the latter shoots the other is a dramatic scene preluding the discovery of Linnet's body the next day. The other guests on the boat all have their own little secrets and crimes they're trying to hide, except the Doctor who just seems to be helping out and enjoying his holiday, despite the murders.

But the lack of suspects doesn't take anything away from the story as most avid murder mystery watches look forward to is how the murder was committed then the why. The motive can be guessed the minute after the intro but that doesn't matter as most murders like this are committed for love/sex or money or revenge or all three. The intro which a slight backstory serves as a bittersweet set up and shows insight into some characters' motives and actions.

Poirot is not at the center. After Linnet tries to hire him to get rid of Jacqueline and later accuses him of telling her their plans, he says 'Madame I am on holiday'. Instead of going on holiday by mistake, he's ended up working by mistake. Of course once the murder takes place, he is called into action and unlike other episodes he seems rather reluctant to take part. He strikes up a sort of confidence with the heartbroken Jacqueline, sharing a few emotional moments. He understands what she's going through but urges her to move on which she cannot do. He also has a heart to heart with Rosalie Otterbourne about her mother and again offers advice, which is half taken.

Poirot on holiday, solving murders in unusual and exotic places is sometimes more enjoyable than back in the UK, where as Miss Marple works better the other way around. Poirot is never out of his element, he finds a way to be himself with his all his quirks and all and a boat along the Nile is no different, except that he does let something go as he believes it is the right thing to do.

Still one of my favourite Poirot stories, it could possibly be the location, as there are some spectacular views of the monuments and the Nile but it could just be a nostalgia thing.

If you want to who did it, how many murders there are and how it was done, you'll have watch or read Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Crime Gone Wrong

I think I could have just picked three Coen brothers films for this week, but I want to spread those picks across genres. So I have two debuts and a final piece for this week. Or two old favourites (directors) and a great actor who left us too soon.

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

Blood Simple
The Coen brothers’ first feature length film has be praised by many and rightly so. It is dark and brooding take of lies, murder and revenge. Frances McDormand is Abbey who is unhappily married to dodgy Marty. She is having an affair with Ray, the bartender of the bar Marty owns. Suspecting their affair, Marty hires a private detective to tail them. Confirming the affair, he hires the P.I to kill the couple. Things, obviously go wrong. Film Noir with twists of thriller all blended together in story that paces itself but keeps the tension high. The beginnings of brilliance. 

Bottle Rocket
Wes Anderson’s first feature film isn’t a favourite of mine but you can see the beginnings of brilliance emerging. Eccentric Dignan, (Owen Wilson) ‘rescues’ his friend Anthony (Luke Wilson is in his first film role) from a voluntary psychiatric unit. He convinces him to join him in several heists he has planned. Dignan drags his other friend Bob who owns a car into the business too. But after robbing a bookstore of a very small amount they hide out in a motel. But the crime that goes wrong is much later when the trio is set up by local crime boss, Mr Henry. The middle part of the film drags on a bit but Dignan is entertaining enough.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Sidney Lumet’s last film before he passed away is a harsh depressing story about two unsuccessful brothers, Hank and Andy (Ethan Hawke and the dearly departed Philip Seymour Hoffman), who decide to rob their parents’ jewellery store. Andy has been embezzling from his company to pay for his drug addiction and intends to flee the country. Hank is debt and owes back payments for child support, he also having an affair with Andy’s wife. But come the day of the robbery, it all goes wrong when the brothers’ mother is at the store. There aren’t any likeable characters in this film which isn’t always a problem but for me this was just too depressing. I actually saw this at the cinema. I remember sitting there uncomfortably on my own in an almost empty cinema rather wishing I had waited for the DVD. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

What's Going On On This Side?

I've been quite quiet on the blogging front these past couple of weeks but for very good reasons. As my current job is coming to an end I've been going to interviews, completing applications and such things. Luckily I think after the very stressful week and weekend things may be looking up for ole' Katie. 

I'm actually quite sad to be leaving my current job, even though it took a while to settle in but I think a cliche line is needed here, on wards and upwards. Hopefully blogging is looking up too as I'm expanding into other communities. I was recently accepted into The LAMB which I'm every excited about. I am Lamb #1860. I have also been welcomed into the Vulturehound fold which I am very much looking forward to writing for. 

With the end of Check the Gate comes the beginning of the frenzy that is BFI London Film Festival. I have all the relevant dates, when the programme is released, when tickets go on sale, when it starts. I'm even gearing up to that shockingly early start on 8th September when I queue up for my tickets, determined to be nearer the front this year as I can do better than 8th place. 

I also have Empire Live coming up. No idea what will happen or how I actually get tickets for the individual events but hoping Empire will shine some light on this soon. 

Looking back at June and July and even May, I seemed to have knuckled down and written quite a few posts. August will be and has been a quiet month but with September not far off, things will get busier. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

I Can't Believe I Saw It At The Cinema

The evolution of going to the cinema with friends as teenagers went from dance flicks and rom-coms to mild horror and bad horror film remakes. As we all got older, my friends craved horror films for the scares and no other reason. Unfortunately, I went through a slightly anti-social phase around this time. Not sure how or why but it felt that way. I came out of it by the time I was in Year 11 (16 years old), I even had an illegal house party which I sort of managed to cover up quite well. BUT my friends’ taste in films didn’t change much. There were a couple of kindred spirits who came to see films like ‘Walk the Line’ and ‘Constantine’, which I enjoyed and that is why it is not on this list. But otherwise, it was lesser films and a film I’m torn by.

When a Stranger Calls
I don’t think this horror remake had a certificate higher than 15. My friends and I weren’t asked for ID and there weren’t really any bloody horror moments. It was more about the suspense and the ridiculousness of the whole thing. I respect anyone who is a fan of the horror genre and can write in depth about it in an interesting and engaging way, but sometimes, I think this genre is just full of films such as this one. I was pushed into seeing this film about a teenager who agrees to babysit two children in a very unusual house in the middle of nowhere. My friends wouldn’t look up film times, they’d say let’s turn up and see what’s on resulting in us seeing this terrible film in the middle of the day. I sat through most of the film either looking at the floor or laughing. I enjoyed the day out but not spending my money or time on this.

Underworld: Evolution
To my shame, this was one film I really wanted to see because I enjoyed the first Underworld film. I had no idea, again, that this would turn into a franchise. My friend and I were worried about getting into an 18 certificate film that I tried to persuade my Dad to buy the tickets for us. Instead our friend, who was very confident and looked younger than both of us, bought the tickets. Back in 2006 the rules of the cinema were a lot more relaxed. Vampire Selene is united with hybrid Michael and they go on a quest to stop the murderous Vampire elder, Marcus, who has, for some reason, gone on a rampage and murdered a whole coven. It wasn’t very good. But I enjoyed it at the time, I even bought the DVD. But my interest in this film waned and I sold the DVD a few years back.

Jurassic Park 3
For me, this was meant to be my crossover film. I’ve had a great ‘film relationship’ with the Jurassic universe. I loved Jurassic Park when I was really young, my Dad had a special edition VHS and we actually wore it out. The Lost World, which wasn’t the best, was the film that was the most over exposed. My sister and I featured in promotional photographs for the merchandise in the Daily Express. It was all meant for competitions but my sister and I got to keep all of it (there was plenty to go round). Jurassic Park 3 was my turn around, or at least it was meant to be.

I had left primary school and was about to start secondary school, one of my childhood friends, who is now one of my best friends, suggested we go to the cinema. We both wanted to see Jurassic Park at a time where everyone wanted to tacky films and I was more than happy to go. My friend made me walk 3 miles to the cinema because she didn’t want to pay for the bus. Around this time, I was made to walk to the cinema quite often. I even walked that route in heeled boots but that’s another story. I later found out, later meaning 5 years, that my friend was a budding film fanatic too. We both enjoyed the film, as I remember, and I ended up seeing it 2 more times. Obviously nothing much was on that Summer. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Writing/Writers of Novels

Films about writers is probably a favourite genre - sub genre - of mine. Stories about writing stories has the possibility to go anywhere. Film about real writers have their own separate space but these picks are about writing or about writers of novels but not about real-life writers. Just to be clear.

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

Stranger Than Fiction
Said to be Will Ferrell’s Truman Show, it follows Harold Crick, a bland tax man who starts to hear his life be narrated. The narration spurs Harold to change his ways and to live life to the full. But once he discovers that the narrator is famous author Karen Eiffel, who is notorious for killing off all her main characters, Crick has to come to terms with death. I felt that the film was oversold to me. I thought it was going to be a great film that ‘had something profound to say’ especially as the cast was quite good, but it turned out too sentimental and had the same old message about making the most of life. The interesting part of the film was the dilemma for Karen Eiffel who has to decide whether she kills Crick or not. 

Barton Fink
Sorry if I’ve used this film before but I cannot remember. Barton Fink (John Turturro), the surprising winner of 1991 Palm d’Or is about a New York playwright who wants to write about ‘the common man’ but is persuaded to write for a Hollywood studio. He lives at The Hotel Earl, whose motto is ‘For a day or a lifetime’ along with other single men. Hi neighbour is friendly but has a dark secret. Filled with symbolism and other mixed messages, paying homage to real writers and the Hollywood system and their treatment of screenwriters. The Coen’s present us with a deliciously genre twisted film that has co much more going on that a writer with writer’s block. the

World’s Greatest Dad
 Honestly, I cannot remember how or why I saw this film. Robin William’s plays Lance, single middle aged father and school teacher. He has a horrible, below average academically son, Kyle, who is obsessed with porn. Lance is failed writer who has had his work continuously rejected by publishers but when Kyle dies accidentally from erotic asphyxiation, Lance covers it up as a suicide and writes a note. Soon the note gains attention giving Lance hope for his dream as a writer, but as this is a very dark comedy, things go wrong. You feel for Lance’s struggle, whether it’s his writing, his son’s death, the fact that his son was a terrible person when alive and with just trying to do better at work. Williams is brilliant in the film, but it makes me sad to think we won’t see him anymore.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Check the Gate: Single White Female

Have you ever heard the expression, 'I'm/you're being single white female-ed'? If not, there is a good chance you haven't seen or heard of this 90s thriller. But if you have, you might not have even seen the film to know what this means.

The film is actually based on the book, 'SWF Seeks Same' by John Lutz, which I never knew until I was looking up the film before I saw it last week. The story is about no so typical independent women, Allie. A computer software designer who has the perfect life. Great job working for herself, amazing apartment and a finace to boot. But when she discovers that he has cheated on her, everything comes crashing down. To have some company in her wonderfully lavish New York apartment, she puts out an add for a roomate. Enter Hedra, a meek looking woman who seems a perfect fit for Allie. Soon becoming great friends, shopping together, adoopting a dog and generally having a fun time. But someting isn't quite right about Hedra, or Hedy as she is now known. She starts buying the same outfits as Allie, lying about things, keeping secrets, deleting Allie's messages and stealing her mail. She even gets the same hairstyle at Allie to the point they look like twins.

Single White Female directed by Barbet Schroeder was one of the films screened as part of Park Circus and the Prince Charles Cinema's film for Check the Gate, a celebration of celluloid. I was lucky to see the sold out showing of Thelma and Louise last month and decied to keep up the feminist feel in my films with this screening.

 Upon arrival at the cinema, I always get a buzz of excitment as you know you're in for a great evening whenever you step through those doors, this was no different. Except this time, my friend and I were given a SWF zine and a mask. Not your average screening. The film screening was presented by The Final Girls, a screening series that explores the intersection between horror films and feminism. The zine that was handed out goes into why the film was chosen to be screened. The two women who presented these insights were brilliant. I've never been into the horror genre but when they talked about the Hedra Carlson being one of the most underrated villians, delving into her emotional state and that she was in fact the heroine rather than Allie's 'cool girl' who is actually an unrealistic character, I was intrigued to find out more. The Final Girls even got me hooked into going to other events they were presenting (waiting on info about these but I intend to go). They've opened my eyes to the possiblities of the horror genre. I do still see SWF as a thriller but the changes that Hedy goes through and the realisation that Allie has little to no way out, is more like a horror film.

As this was the first time I had seen the film, I had the joy of seeing it from a fresh perspective. There are some amusing scenes and lines where I did laugh out loud but I wasn't alone. But I don't agree that it was a complete trash thriller featuring the now typical 'crazy woman' or as The Final Girls said, 'woman from hell' trope. There is a trashy quality to the film but I liked it this way. There are several things happening that gives the films deeping meaning, especially if you wanted to delve deeper into Hedy's mind, but its also an inconic film with a great villain. The film has coined the phrase 'I'm/you're being single white female-ed' and just goes to show the power of cinema.

A brilliant film that I might have over looked. I'll be on the look out for more from The Final Girls as well as some 'classics' that I might have missed. If you're still not sure about the phrase, I suggest you watch the film, it will explain everything.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Gambling

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

I thought I'd seen a fair few films about gambling but it turns out I haven't. There seems to be more films about gamblers rather than gambling, but that's just my observation. 

I love Maverick, its such a fun watch. After I've exhausted my usual go to films when I'm feeling ill, Maverick is next up. I can't remember where or when I first saw this but I was hooked. Set in the old west, Maverick, is an excellent poker player but he's also a but of a coward and a talker. On his way to a big game where the prize money is $500,000, he is collecting whats owed to him by friends and also picks up a few travel companions. It's actually quite funny in places and you learn a little smidge about poker too. Mel Gibson take over the title role from James Garner, who played him in the TV show in 60s, but he also appears as a Marshall in the film. Great fun!

Saint John of Las Vegas
This was a film I saw the trailer for on Apple trailers and hoped for a release in the UK but it never came. I eventually saw it on DVD and although I’m a big fan of Steve Buscemi, this had an ambiguous ending that made me feel flat and trapped at the same time. This is how we start and end with Saint John of Las Vegas about a bad gambler who moves miles away from temptation and works for an insurance company. But he is tested when he has to investigate a possible fraudulent claim back in Las Vegas. There are some amusing moments and really, Steve Buscemi (along with Romany Malco) make the film entertaining to watch.

The Cooler
Bought on a whim and because I liked the cast, plus it was Tartan DVD, I watched The Cooler. William H Macy is Bernie aka The Cooler, employed by casino owner Shelly (Alec Baldwin) who he is also in debt to, has the job of cooling down a winner's table. But Bernie has almost paid off his debts so Shelly pays waitress Maria Bello, Natalie to seduce him into staying, but the two fall in love. What with the arrival of Bernie's son and his wife in town, things start to go wrong. The film has grit with some quite nasty scenes and really is a story about losing to winning but with other sad things in the middle.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Washed Out

With the recent cries of indignation over The Great Wall trailer release, I took to Facebook. This isn’t always the best idea, considering my track record for getting into arguments online and in person over film, feminism and change, but this time it was different. A couple of old buddies from work suggested I write this post and they were right.

The Great Wall, just to give some context is a film where Matt Damon is in China for some reason, to help the Chinese defend themselves against monsters. Set during the Northern Song dynasty, the film explores some fantastical mysteries that surround The Great Wall of China. But only Matt Damon can help save everyone, or something.

The current poster for the film is just Matt Damon’s face. This is not looking good Hollywood.

But wait, why am I getting annoyed by this stereotypical sounding film from Hollywood? Because enough is enough. Hollywood has been accused of white washing before and it looks like they won’t stop. We might even end up with a John Wayne as Genghis Khan situation – absolutely ridiculous. Whoever thought that casting was a good idea is obviously been banished from the land. For those who don’t know what white washing is, it is a term used when a white actor is cast as an ethnic character. And it’s happening more and more. 

Actress Constance Wu, currently in comedy, Fresh Off the Boat, was at the forefront of doing more than pointing out the choice of casting a white actor. Wu posted a large response saying “Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. Ghandi. Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time. We don’t need salvation. We like our colour and our culture and our strengths and our own stories.” Wu also criticized the reasons behind the casting choices saying that they need bankable movie star to tempt an audience to see the films is all about money. “Money is the lamest excuse in the history of being human. So is blaming the Chinese investors,” she wrote. And I agree. Casting the typical white guy actor in these ‘saviour roles’ is taking an opportunity away from another actor who would actually be suited for the part. The idea that Hollywood ‘just wants to make money’ is a pitiful excuse. The Daily Beast covers this story far better than I could and you can read it here

Writer, Nicole Chung also pointed out via Twitter, ‘...why would white men need to be in a movie about the Great Wall, even if it's a monster movie?’. I was reading another article where the writer told everyone to ‘Shut Up About Matt Damon ‘Whitewashing’ Chinese History’ and his defence was that it was a monster film. So, in a fantasy film, its ok for a white guy saves the day? Still doesn’t explain why he is even on The Great Wall in Ancient China.

The controversy around The Great Wall is not a one off situation. We all saw the ghastly posters for Gods of Egypt that came out earlier this year, we have even sat through the trailer. I actually stopped it half way through and thankfully didn’t have to see it before another film. But we would have noticed the absence of Egyptian actors in the lead roles. They were played by Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and various other non-Egyptian actors. Even though the film description makes a point of saying the film is set ‘In an alternative Egypt’, it doesn’t change the white washing. The same response was given to Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, a version of the story of Moses that featured white actors to play Rameses and Moses.

Most recently, a lot of backlash was received when Hollywood announced the live action remake of the popular series, Ghost in the Shell. But the uproar started when it was announced that Scarlett Johansson would be playing the lead role, cyborg detective Major Motoko Kusanagi. Twitter exploded with rants, suggestions and even a petition to have Johansson to be removed from the role. Looking over the articles that came out a few months ago when the first photo from the production was released, there are some excellent suggestions for who could have been cast, including Rinko Kikuchi, star of Brothers Bloom, Babel and Pacific Rim. But Hollywood didn’t call her or any other Asian actress. Screenwriter of the film Max Landis even tried to ‘defend’ the casting choice by saying that there were no other bankable Asian actresses. He tried to turn this around by saying that he wasn’t defending the casting of Johansson but merely pointing out the system is broken. Ghost in the Shell is a major part of Asian Media and from what I’ve read, this remake/live action film is more than white washing, it seems more like erasing.

Finally, I read this article from The Guardian makes some great points but I don’t entirely agree. The fact that some of the films that have been met with controversy over white washing casting have also been unsuccessful at the box office. Coincidence? The Last Airbender, an adaptation of the much beloved animation was probably one of the worst things I sat through. Firstly, an unknown was cast in the lead role, this was a good move. But then two major characters were two white actors. As these actors weren’t ‘big names’ I didn’t see the logic in the casting. The Lone Ranger (which I actually enjoyed) was also surrounded by a cloud of doom when Johnny Depp played Tonto, the Native American partner in stopping crime. Depp is obviously one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and can get his way but it doesn’t stop it making it wrong and the fact that this role was taken away from a Native American actor. This was the same situation with Joe Wright’s odd fantasy prequel, Pan.  I was excited about this film when I first heard about it but the more trailers I saw the more I felt an uneasy feeling in my stomach. When Rooney Mara was cast as Tiger Lilly, I think was the last straw. I was no longer interested in seeing this film. Mara very moodily defended herself at being cast saying that Neverland is fantasy island and that the natives are natives of this make believe place. While she has a point, it is still a beloved story that didn’t need to be changed and AGAIN deny a Native American actress of a breakthrough role.

I haven’t gone through some of the worst casting choices and numbered these white washing casting but from the looks of the internet and Hollywood habits, this will continue. But I hope I won’t have to write another post like this. White washing casting, to me, is a pointless exercise. A white guy doesn’t need to save the day or in fact isn’t wanted. I would much rather see a diverse cast not just the token here and there in the background. 

Monday, 1 August 2016

I Can't Believe I Saw It At The Cinema

As time when by I was allowed to go to the cinema with friends but back in those days my friends liked 'dance' films or horror films. Both genres have not been on my favourites list. I've never enjoyed horror and now dance flicks anger me. But that's all I had to work with.

My friend who I have know for over 20 years really wanted to see this film when it first came out. It was the first film, or one of the first films I can remember being allowed to see alone. We saw it at a ridiculous time of 10am on a Saturday because it was only £1. I went because I like going to the cinema but oh my did I regret seeing this terrible film. I hated it all. I wasn't and still not a Britney Spears fan. The story was ridiculous and predictable and all I could think and say was 'what the hell is Dan Aykroyd doing?' My friend didn't who it was so I had to sit there is despair on my own. I remember that three friends make a pact of some sort when they are kids but grow apart over the years. They eventually turn into stereotypes and hate each other. But they still agree to the pact and go on a road trip for various reasons. So, not the best film ever?

Step Up
Now known as the rise of Channing Tatum or how he met his wife Jenna Dewan Tatum. I think I enjoyed this at the time as a bit of escapism. Who knew this was going to be the beginning of a never ending franchise? I kept my dignity by not watching the films that followed. I think Mr Tatum plays a troublesome youth who ends up doing community service at a prestigious dance/ballet school where he ends up helping Future Mrs Tatum with a dance and therefore he changes himself and they live happily ever after blah blah blah. The good thing that came out of this film was one of the coolest couples in Hollywood. But at the time I wasn’t really impressed by this story. All the other dance films pretty much have the same story… let me know if I’m being too harsh.

Take the Lead
Based on a true story about how Antonio Banderas changed a group of troublesome youth through the medium of dance, specifically ballroom dancing. There is also a Romeo & Juliet story in there as well as a love triangle AND an unlikely love story too. It’s a fictionalised account of real dancer and dance instructor Pierre Dulaine. I enjoyed this far more than Step Up, mostly because of the ‘true story’ factor and the large group of characters. My friend, the one that made me see Crossroads and Step Up, loved it. She was and is very much still ‘in to’ dance flicks. These infrequent trips to the cinema were precious and disappointing, but way back then, tickets were less than £6 so it didn’t really matter.