Friday, 30 September 2016

Blind Spot Series: Breakfast at Tiffany's

A few people have been surprised that I haven't seen this film but to me, it just never appealed. Visions of the Holly Golightly ‘look’ were everywhere, on bags, t-shirts, purses, posters and it was rather suffocating. There has always been a part of me that was intrigued by the film as it was based on Truman Capote’s novel but apart from that I have avoided it. I picked it for my blind spot list this, as it was just the time to watch it. I had actually planned this film for February but plans do change.

I think I misunderstood what sort of film this was. Being a film for icon Audrey Hepburn or was it the film that made her an icon, she is Holly Golightly, a fun loving, easy-going socialite who may or may not be a call girl. When writer Paul (George Peppard) moves into the building the two become friends despite their obvious attraction to each other. Paul is trying to write but is in the middle of an affair with rich married woman who basically pays for everything. He's her project/charity, while Holly accepts money from weird rich guys and works for a mobster in jail. The two are just perfect for each other. But Holly, who calls herself a 'wild thing' that doesn't belong to anyone, can't seem to see what would be best for her. 

Holly is laid bare almost in this film, from the start. We see her at the start dressed in the famous outfit eating breakfast starring through Tiffany's in the early hours of the morning. This is who Holly is. She's dressed up putting on a facade and looking through at a world she wants to be part of. All so we think. We later see her going on 'dates' with wealthy men, hosting crazy parties, planning on marrying a rich guy but she keeps coming back to Paul for company. We also meet her husband she married at 14! Nice pleasant older man who took her and her beloved brother in. But she had the wedding annulled and moved away. She had out grown that old life. We also see her go through tragedy, her brother dying, arrested, abandoned by her supposed fiancé. Holly is in the spotlight and Paul is telling the story. We never get the know Paul, apart from the fact he's a writer and he's a kept man and that he's in love with Holly.

It's difficult to say if this is a love story or about two people who are trying to avoid commitment and life by taking money of others to skim through life. Holly's cat, named Cat, could be seen as a metaphor or a symbol for Holly. She does compare herself and cat to being wild and not belonging to anyone not even each other. Paul then retorts that thinking like this has cut her off  (basically) and she'll be alone. Cat is in a way a connector for them, like Holly he is wild but wants a home, he never runs away. Like Paul he is also an outsider, sulking around in the background at parties not really wanting to be involved. And the end scene just creates this visualisation.

I was surprised and enjoyed the film for the most part but Micky Rooney cast as Mr. Yunioshi almost ruined the film for me. It's beyond racist and I really can't see why they didn't cast a Japanese actor. It may be a sign of the times but it was terrible. 

Not wanting to end on a bad note, I'll leave it on this...

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.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Cults/Secret Socities

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

Its odd how everyone wants in on a secret society and cults are seen as scray things to avoid and usually involve the devil or someone being sacrificed. Well, that only applies to one pick this week...

Sound of my Voice
This was one of those films where I was dying to see but was quite disappointed by the end. A couple wan to make a documentary about a cult that they have heard about and their leader who claims to be from the future. They infiltrate the group but end up being on opposingsides about the leader, Maggie. There is a good story here but very little action. The cult seems non threatening but when Maggie wants to meet a young girl who she claims is her mother, the couple have to decide whether its gone too far or not. The ending is unsettling and makes you wonder but as a whole, the film loses pace too soon.

Eyes Wide Shut
Stanley Kubrick's finaly film about a man who tries to find out about a secret society was underwhelming.  The then married Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman was meant to be a 'big deal' but just wasn't. After being invited to a party with his wife, Bill encounters strange happenings and decides to pursue them. After speaking to a piano player he knows, he finds out that he has a 'gig' playing blind folded. Bill, curious, goes along to this 'party' dressed in costume and mask to discover that it is an orgy of some sorts as well as a strange ritual. People die and disappear myteriously and Bill's wife, Alice has weird dreams where she has sex witho other men while he watches. As I said, not great.

The Wicker Man 
 The film is disturbing and you can feel the creeping terror throughout the film. The notorious ending is horrible mostly because of how helpless the situation is and how terrifying. The late great Christopher Lee is perfect as the head of the weirdo cult of Summerisle but I'm actually feeling scared just thinking about the film again. Let us not think about the remake. Ridiculous really.

Monday, 26 September 2016

September Watch List

This review was actually posted up a few days before the release date. What you say! Posting film reviews during the actual month of release? Yes, it was indeed. A rare and hopefully to be repeated occurance. The review was written for Vulturehound, a pretty awesome culture magazine. Have a read of it HERE.  2/5

Cafe Society
Woody Allen's latest offering is lavish, beautiful, bitter but not as sweet as I hoped. With my mixed feelings about An Irrational Man, I had hoped that Cafe Society would follow in tradition, one bad one good pattern but the story about a New Yorker guy moving to LA to start a life and falls in love with the first woman he meets is predictable. The woman he adores is seeing a married man, someone close to home, so he ends up moving back to New York to help his gangster brother run a nightclub. The voice over throughout the film interrupts the story and takes away dialogue from secondary characters which is a shame. But it's the predictable story love triangle that grated on me and the fact certain people knew they had made mistakes almost straight away. Hope Woody Allen hasn't lost his touch already. 3/5
The Program
 The Lance Armstrong scandal was something I remember hearing about but never really looked into it. America's prized athlete and massive liar. This is less about Armstrong's live as shown by the weird scene where he meets and marries his wife only for her not appear in the film ever again, its more about his rise, illness, unrealistic rise then massive fall. The fact that he claims many times that all the cyclists were doping is just sad that it got that deep. It was good see Chris O'Dowd is a serious role and Ben Foster was pretty menacing. What was good about this story was that it didn't make me want to watch the documentary instead. 3/5

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
it has been too long since I gave a high rating to a film, but I have been going on about Taika Waititi's amazing hilarious film since June when I saw it at Edinburgh Film Festival. I wrote briefly about how much I loved the film HERE. The film also won the audience award for best film at the festival, well deserved. What's not to love about buddy journey comedy through the New Zeland bush. Excellent dialogue, brilliant cast and beyond beautiful views. 5/5

Jane Got A Gun
After a long and difficult journey to the screen which lasted all of 5 minutes, Jane makes it to DVD success. A small cast do well to build the tension and a good story. Unfortunately, the story is nothing new or spectacular. That aside, the checklist of Western traits, flashbacks, revenge, lost love, civil war gets in the way, homes built in the middle of nowhere and the classic shoot out. Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton make a great duo. Most of the film is made up of them talking and looking at each longing to sau something that they don't need to say. Glad I watched it and DVD too, this was a wait for the home video situation. 3/5

War on Everyone
I was lucky enough to snab a ticket to see pretty damn good film at Empire Live and I'm so glad I did. Two cops, both bad, one with a family who breaks his son's xbox and the other single who own a huge empty house to himself and love Glen Campbell. Both cops are pretty awful. They accept bribes, do coke with criminals, run over mime artists and occasionally follow up on leads if it's in their interest. The script is razor sharp genius from the mind of John Michael McDonagh who gave us Calvary. He was funny but to the point in the Q&a after the film which made him even greater. The characters in the film are terrible but they have weird moments where they prove they're humans. Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgard are brilliant at the centre and are supported by a great creepy cast too. Cannot love this movie enough. 4/5

I have also included TV this month as I wrote a post about it for Vulturehound. Full post can be read HERE.

Empire Live - Day Two

After some late night bowling and all that excitement my friend (Foxo) and I needed a rest. For the second day of Empire Live the first thing we wanted was a late lunch.

Once satisfied we then went looking for churros and were mightly let down by Las Iguanas who lied to us. But enough of this and on with the show!

We visited a Q&A briefly with two cinematographers, but no sooners had we had consumed our free drinks at the Empire Hub we had to dash over to the superscreen for a mastermind quiz with Jason Isaacs. A last minute edition to the schedule, but we already had the 'surprise' slot tickets. Along with some very amusing stories, Isaacs is full of them, we got to learn a few things about the movie business along the way. Such as, if someone won't send you the script to a film, you know it won't be good, even if a billionaire is financing it and it apparently won't be seen by anyone, still think twice about it.

Next, we dashed over to the Hub one last time to catch a few minutes of the panel we both really wanted to see, Women on Screen. Proving a popular and hot topic, it was crowded in the bowling alley but due to not so great scheduling from Empire (c'mon guy!) we had to miss most of it.

We dashing over to the superscreen, in time for a our final event of the weekend, a screening of High-rise, which we both love and some footage from Free Fire, all from the mind of screenwriter Amy Jump and director, Ben Wheatly. The latter being there for a great Q&A, talking about the process, ideas and wish lists. It was great seeing High-Rise again, especially on such a gigantic screen. Except there were a few moments, skin peeled off a severed head, angry spit on a door, dog food from the can that were pretty disgusting on the huge screen. A few bits felt like they were missing too...but apart from that, just brillaint.

Shorter than Saturday but no less tired afterwards. Now for the long road to no sleep until next Saturday probably.

Empire Live - Day One

This weekend was all about film. So, my favourite kind of weekend. Months ago my friend (Foxo) and I bought tickets to this event. We thought we'd see some movies, maybe some others things, enjoy some drinks, go bowling and the event did exactly what it said on the tin. Almost.

There was a bit of embellishing going on from Empire, claiming a preview of Free Fire, Ben Wheatly's much anticipated film. When in fact it is was exclusive footage. Even Wheatly who was there at the screening for High-Rise pointed this out. And there were some weird things happening with the schedule.

We had tickets for High-Rise, which, started midway, the panel discussion, Women on Screen, which we both really wanted to see BUT this very popular and interesting discussion was not placed well in the schedule. This annoyed me greatly. So, Empire, remember this, you put a hot topic panel in the middle of other popular items, you will annoy your loyal readers.

We stepped out of the tube and headed for the much-changed O2, well the surrounding part has changed a great deal since I was there last. The first thing we did, apart from seek out coffee (needed my fix) was marvel at the Dome. It truly is gigantic and only half of the Dome, as I’m sure most know, is used or open to the public. 

We headed over to the superscreen to stare and marvel at a sneak preview at Luke Cage footage with the man himself, Mike Colter, who almost ran into in our hurry to get there. Mixed in with a Q&A with Colter, we got see some exclusive clips and some trailers. I was looking forward to the series but now I am completely hyped up for it. Only a week until it appears on Netflix! Colter too was brilliant, telling us some funny stories but the highlight came from a child in the audience asking what his ideal costume would be. Colter basically described a onesie with gold on it. An excellent start to the weekend.

Next we downed some sushi as it was the only place that didn’t have a extra long queue outside then we dashed back over to the superscreen again for a last minute addition to our own schedules, War on Everything. I loved this film, a mixture of hilarious dialogue, horrible characters you can’t stop watching and even some heartfelt moments that maybe shouldn’t be. As I said, I loved it. But I think director John Michael McDonagh stole the show. Not only should he have his own films school, with his words of wisdom and blunt honesty, he’s a damn fine screenwriter. Another very funny interview and Q&A. I admired Calvary, his second film and I should see The Guard, very soon.

Before we went to our final event of the day we snuck away to check out the Empire Hub, which was in the Brooklyn Bowling alley. We had a look around, scoped out the bowling situation and were weirded out by the ‘art’ that decorated the bathrooms.

Last event was a live director’s commentary of The Raid with Gareth Evans and Empire’s own Chris Hewitt. Luckily I had already seen the film so I got to sit back and laugh at the anecdotes from Evans. It was insane how much he remembered about each of the extras and the extras and some of the actors were just normal everyday guys. There were even some shots and mistakes that Evans happily shared with us going into detail about the smallest of things. It was such a great experience and in fact, made me enjoy the film more.

After the film we headed back over to the bowling alley as we were determined to get our free drinks AND bowl before we had to run for the last train. As there were only two of us, we naturally put fake names into the game. So the winner of the game was Astronaut Mike Dexter and close on the heels was Foxy and in 3rd place, Night Cheese.

And this was all just day one.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Teen Angst

Oh there is so much angst out there. It takes different forms but when its all about angst-y teens, things get crazy, 'real', emotional and sometimes tragic. Chose a classix, a favourite and a new-ish discovery that I'm so glad I found.

Also its a day early as I might forget tomorrow - my timing is all messed up as the sleeping issues continue.

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

Turn Me On Dammit
Less angst and more frustration really but still a brilliant film and finally from a teenage girl's perspective. Alma lives in a small village in Norway and she has a crush on a boy. She spends her free time hanging out with her friends at a bustop drinking cheap alcohol and calls a sex line everyday. Alma really wants to have sex. But when the boy she likes weirdly pokes her with his dick and then later denies it, Alma is then picked on and ostracized from her friends.

Rebel Without a Cause 
The ultimate teen angst film which I had to include as James Dean makes a star turn. Three disillusioned teens, with problems at home, end up together after being arrested for different things that reflect their issues. I saw this years ago and loved it but I think I need to see it again as I can't quite remember what else happens.

I think I've used this film before but it fits so perfect AND I've got a couple of the off-broadway musical songs in my head. The Heathers are the ruling clique at highschool but their friend, Veronica, once an outsider, has grown tired of them and their ways. When new dangerous kid, JD arrives, he and Veronica start something after killing the lead Heather and framing it as suicide. A brilliant film that isn't given enough credit and is actually a prelude to films like, Mean Girls. The musical music is pretty good too, wish I had seen it on stage.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Post Pre Prep

So it begins. Well it actually began on 8th September when I stood in line from 6am to buy tickets but this is the post pre prep part of the process. The tickets are bought but I can't do an awesome fan out picture of the tickets as I didn't buy them all. I went into panic mode when I heard some films were already sold out, within 15 minutes. My friend called me and offered to help as he got all he wanted online. I didn't trust going online as the site hadn't worked in the past. Next year I will not be queuing up. It's been a fun tradition for the past 3/4 years but like the first times I went I will be chancing it and buying online.

I've read lists of must see films but my picks didn't feature. Which I'm surprised about. Any pro at film festival picking will know that some of the 'bigger' films will be released at some point. Some films will even be released a few weeks after the festival. I'm looking for those gems that are rare and not released until very late or not at all.

 My top five picks of films I loved but will never get to see again are as follow:

A Spanish Affair from a few years ago was one of the best ones that fell into the category. I loved this so much I tracked it down and bought directly from Spain. It was a box office sensation in its home conutry but never made it here. I can see why as it very much related to Spain but still, I love it. There's even a sequel! So my goal now is track that down and watch it.

Bcak in 2012 I was intrigued by Love Story, a weird documentary type film where Florian Habicht, New Zealand German filmmaker, runs around New York asking random people what he needs to do next in his 'create your own love story' quest. I had hoped this would get a release here but unfotunately not so.

May in the Summer was a film I bought the ticket to last minute and I'm so glad I did. Three sisters travel back to Amman, Jordan for May, the elder sister's wedding. Each sister has a secret to hide and throughout the trip, truths are told and emotions split. It was actually released here for all a day I found out but no sign of a DVD release, which is a shame.

Burn Burn Burn a very smart, painful British comedy that I'm still holding out for for a UK release as it features famous faces and recognisable ones too. A journey of sorts about two friends who go on a road trip around the UK spreading the ashes of their dearly departed friend.

There were quite a few films I was not surprised to be given general release in the UK as they were either not quite polished or they just were too much. Wedding Doll was a happy inbetween. Hagit, a young woman with learning disabilities, is obsessed with being married and having a wedding. She lives with her mother who tries to balance her own life as well as caring for a daughter who seeks independance.

Hoping to find gems like these this year.

Lazy Sunday: Death of a Loved One

This next Lazy Sunday Murder Mystery is familiar territory but falls into the Scandi-Noir genre and ia highly addictive watching. Back in 2014, my aunt and uncle introduced to me Swedish TV series about a female amateur detective.

Set in the 1950s Sweden, Puck Ekstedt, doesn’t conform. She gives talks about literature and is fascinated by murders. She wants a PHD and she doesn’t know if she wants children. There are only a precious 6 episodes in the Crimes of Passion series, based on the novels by Maria Lang and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ll be anymore. I became a little too obsessed with the series, re-watching them all on a loop on my ipad during my lunch breaks at work, but they were just so very good, plus the opening titles are brilliant.

I ended up watching the last three episodes first, as these were the ones that were taped by my family and I was so eager to watch more; I downloaded the rest of the series and devoured them. The terrible comparison that was mentioned was that the series was like ‘Mad Men meets The Killing’. This is completely wrong. The stories are set in the 50s and there are murders that take place. Nothing like either show. Just to be clear.

Apart from Puck, the main characters are Einar Bure, called Eje, who is dating Puck at the start of the series, and Christer Wijk, a police superintendent, womaniser and Eje’s best friend. Together, the three of them solve murders. 

The first episode, Death of a Loved One, is set on a remote island that can only be reached by boat the perfect place for a murder. Her colleague, Rutgar, invites Puck to a small party to celebrate Midsummer on the small island. She is persuaded to go after she hears that Eje, an old friend of Rutgar’s is going; he and Puck have started dating. But during the festivities, two old friends of the party show up uninvited. Things take a turn, as truths people wanted hidden start to creep out. The next day Puck discovers the body of one of the guests. She tells Eje and he contacts his friend, Chrsiter Wijk who is a detective in Stockholm. But once he arrives on the island, the body is missing.

The setting for this story is beautiful, a forest wonderland surrounded by sea, with a beach and perfect house situated in the middle. All the characters and suspects all seem to have motives and various secrets they wish to hide. Past heartaches and lies come to the surface, while Puck, the outsider takes note of everyone’s behaviour and remembers every detail. Catching the eye and admiration of Christer but all she and Eje seem to want is a few minutes alone together. 

There is even a nod to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None when someone comments that they’re getting picked off one by one. The death count for this story was actually quite low but nearly everyone comes out of this with wounds. An excellent start to the series.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Bad Titles

Movies are changing. More remakes, rip offs, repeats, franchise boosters, nostalgic wastelands (which I actually like) but seems to be suffering more are what we see before the actual film and I don't mean trailers that give away entire plots or the best jokes. I'm talking about the poster and just before that - The Title.

Walking past a gigantic poster on the underground for 'Bad Moms' made me angry, especially as I had to see it everyday. Not only is that the incorrect spelling for the UK but it's so uninspiring and frankly, boring. 

The posters was just faces. That's it. Yes there were a group of great women, including a favourite of mine, Kathryn Han, but the poster was lame. I suppose it did exactly what it said on the tin. A group of women, mums (note the spelling) who will be bad in the film.

That seems to be the trend. Slap 'bad' or ‘dirty’ in the title and you know it's going to a gross out, mind numbing comedy. 

It’s not just the generic ‘bad’ words being used, films are basically being called something very basic. The Hangover anyone? I thought that was good until the sequels ruined its unique-ness. Films like Horrible Bosses could have had a great title but it was just that, with the pointless sequel to follow. And although Office Party looks good, it will be just like any other generically named film. Basic title, basic plot.

It's the same with sequel. Original title with '2' behind it. So when you look at 'Bad Neighbours 2' you know what you'll get. The exact same film but with a little something added. To be fair I judged the first Bad Neighbours like crazy. The trailer was appalling and the poster was s***. The title was the cherry on top of the bs. But I saw it and some of it was funny and heart-warming. It could have been called something else. The lazy s*** title dragged it down.

It's disappointing to hear that the sequel to Trainspotting is called T2. A more imaginative title could have been created but they chose that!

I know why this is happening. Studios panic that the audience is becoming more stupid so things have to be simplified. I'd the title is more than two words no one will understand. If sequels are given different names no one will know it's part of a franchise or related to another film. This is ludicrous.
The same goes for the posters. If Matt Damon's face doesn’t take up the entire poster no one will know that he's in it and that we need to see it because he's in it.

I long for the day when poster art wasn’t just for cinephiles. The point about posters was brought up ages ago. Poster art is now something of the past or a time for creative to design ‘alternative’ posters that actually become well liked, much more so that the originals. Looking back over books of marvellous posters from yester year, makes me think these are being ‘dumbed’ down too. As I said, no one will see a movie unless the most famous person’s face isn’t on the poster. 

I just needed to get that out of my system. Now the Bad Moms poster has gone, I await the next waste of space to placed there. Most likely a similar sort of film. Same story, new cast, less interest.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Lazy Sunday: Pigeon

Does anyone remember Pushing Daisies? I’m sure most of you do. It’s the show about Ned, the pie maker who has the unusual and restrictive gift of bringing back the dead. But he can only bring people back from the dead for 1 minute, any longer and someone else goes instead. Once he touches a dead thing for the second time, they’re dead again forever. He can bring back anything that’s dead, plants, animals and even food. Things become complicated when he bring back his first love, Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles. 

Along for the ride and the business is Emerson Cod, a private investigator who works with Ned, making his casework easier, sometimes. Apart from Chuck, he’s the only other person who knows about Ned’s gift, although Olive Snook, Ned’s faithful friend and waitress at his café, The Pie Hole, should have been told. The gang of four make a great team, sometimes by accident, other times on purpose. 

Now that you’re up to speed, I can talk about this week’s Lazy Sunday Murder Mystery. Each week on Pushing Daisies, the gang solve a murder mystery, beginning with Emerson be hired and Ned touching the corpse for information. Chuck is along too to help as ‘the alive again avenger’, a name Emerson hates and Ned becomes worried about seeing as Chuck is meant to be dead.

When a pigeon crashes into the Pie Hole’s window, Ned accidentally touches the bird, keeping it alive for longer than a minute, a load of water bugs meet their end restoring balance. Olive takes it upon herself to get the pigeon well again so it can send its message, as it is a message carrier pigeon. Not long after this event, a plane crashes into a building, killing the pilot and ruining ‘Conrad’s’ apartment. While Chuck consoles ‘Conrad’ with coffee, Ned and Emerson discover another body, the real Conrad who died when the plane crashed. It turns out that the fake Conrad, real name Lefty Lem, is an escapee from prison. Why the pigeon? Well, the pigeon is a key part of the mystery and it all makes sense.

Filled with delicious pies, retired windmill communities, missing limbs and an always amazing and delightful colour palette, this is one of my favourite episodes from Season one of Pushing Daisies which fits along side Agatha Christie adaptations in the ‘cosey crime’ division.