Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Blind Spot Series: Belleville Rendez-vous

I actually watched my pick for this month a few weeks ago but I'm getting around to writing this now. Novemeber has been a sad month. With a funeral and plagued by health issues and nasty procedure, I did leave my blog side for a while. It might not looked that way but that's the beauty of scheduling.

At a short but sweet 78 minutes there is so much to take in from this weird and wonderful animation from Sylvain Chomet. The film tells the story about Madame Souza, a elderly lady raising her grandson, Champion. She tries to cheer the boy up after the supposed loss of his parents with varous things, including getting him a puppy named Bruno. Finally she gets hims a tricycle after noticing that he has been following the races in the newspaper. Years later Champion is a professional cyclist and competes in the Tour de France but during the race he is kidnapped by the French mafia and whisked away to New York looking Belleville. Madame Souza naturally pursues, along with Bruno in serach of Champion. Along the way she meets and is aided by the once famous Belleville triplets who were know for their music hall shows. Together they track down the mafia and try to save Champion.

For a film that is just over an hour, the story stretches quite far. With a international cycling race, a chase across open ocean in a peddle boat, an improv music show, the mafia and not to mention the triplets disgusting diet of frogs and tadpoles, its crazy film.

The film was named The Triplets of the Belleville but seeing as they aren't the main focus, I chose to go by the UK title. With barely any dialogue, everything is conveyed through noises, mostly from Bruno and from everyone's expressions. Nothing is lost from the lack of dialogue as body language and action speaks volumes in the right scenes. The story is beautifully and disgustingly laided out with characters either being grossly over drawn or exaggerated, minor characteristics becoming more animal like or resembling objects. The latter applying to the mafia henchmen who are indentical and at one point mould into one and separate. There is one scene that worked perfectly without any words which is in the Triplets flat where they cook and comsume dinner. Their excitment at the different courses of frogs cooked in various ways is polar opposite to Madame Souza who is baffled by what is in front of her.

Music is also a centre point of the film, the soundtrack being delightfully put together, especially in the experimental music show where the Triplets create music from a fridge, newspaper and vacuum, with Souza coming on on a bicycle wheel and sticks.

The style of animation is bizarre. Mostly yellows, greens and brown like colours, dulled and muddied making some characters even more grotesque. The opening sequence of a televised musical hall variety show is an over the top and rather cruel looking take on more well known animation. Everyone is wearing Micky Mouse gloves and its hard to ignore this. All grinning teeth and plastic faces, its an excellent intro to the film, even though, it doesn't really have an significance to the story.

A wonderful animation that I was glad to discover late. Its a very unqiue look at the world and the people that feature. Nothing is quite as it seems despite not being fantasy. I think in a world where 4 old ladies can fight the mob and still manage to sing afterwards is fantastical.

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.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

November Watch List

Looking back through my year's watch lists and comparing them with last years', I've noticed that I don't go to the cinema that often. I think its to do with the working 9-5 nowadays. Working shifts you can fir films in here and there. Weekends are spent with friends/family and tiredness sets in. I miss the cinema. Watching films at home is nice and all but I miss going to the cinema after work. 

Christmas with the Coopers
 A festive film from last year that is just like any other the studios troll out. The review should be on Vulturehound HERE.  2/5 

Dog Eat Dog
Hated this. Thought I wouldn't but I did. Full review is on Vulturehound HERE. 2/5

Doctor Strange
 When it was announced that Mr Cumberbatch was to be cast as the sorcerer supreme, I was excited along with everyone else (apart from the Matthew Modine supporters), with the casting, but as time grew nearer to the release date and with each trailer released I grew less excited. There is something very irritating about an English actor putting on an American accent. It’s a small thing but it really annoys me. Same with an American putting on a British accent. Back to the story, Dr Strange is an arrogant genius (stop me if you heard this one before). He is a gifted surgeon and very wealthy (of course) but after a tragic accident, his hands are never the same. Desperate for a cure, he travels east to Kathmandu and eventually ends up being trained as a sorcerer by the Ancient One (a brilliant turn from the wonderfully enigmatic Tilda Swinton). Strange’s big nemesis is the dark forces and the name of the game isn’t spells, being able to travel via sling ring, or even the weird dimensions, it’s about time. Not knowing the character that well was not useful. Luckily I had my friend with me who knows about these things. I got him to explain things I didn’t quite get. The film overall was pretty good but we both left the cinema feeling something was missing. I can’t see future Strange films, it seems he might work better within a larger group popping when needed. I was also annoyed at the blandness of Rachel McAdams character, Christine. I’m waiting for the day she plays a different character, back to her Regina George days. It was also sad to see Mads Mikkalsen underused from the start, same for Chiwetel Ejiofor who ends up with a weird complete 180 degrees on his character with no development. But thank gad for Swinton. At the end of the film, when there was an infinity stone revealed and we didn’t even know it, it started to feel like everything was falling into place. It also felt a bit pokemon, gotta catch em all. One left to pop up in Ragnarök, Black Panther or GOTG vol2 or even Captain Mavel. 3/5 
Nocturnal Animals
I tried to read the book in time before the film arrived. But it arrived the day before I saw it. Having missed the film at LFF, I was pleased to see the swift release. Based on the novel, ‘Tony and Susan’ by (author name) the film differs from the book. With a screenplay written by Tom Ford as well as directing, there is fine cut feeling throughout. It is beautifully shot as expected and leaves you with a hole in your stomach, the feeling that things aren’t resolved. Susan (Amy Adams) is a woman who has everything. She works for a gallery, has a magnificent house, a dashing husband (and later you  find out she has a daughter). But she is unhappy. She doesn’t care about the art in the gallery, her house is run by maids and assistants and feels cold and empty and her husband is cheating on her. She received a manuscript written by her ex-husband who she once shared ideals with. She was an artist, he was a writer, but she slowly became her mother, as apparently, we all do. The book is dedicated to her and is even name after her in a way. The film is of two parts alongside each other, with the book being about a horrific incident and the lengths someone would go to for revenge. This seems to be what Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) is doing within the novel and externally. He is slowly taking revenge on Susan. It’s a brilliant film but the novel story is devastating. Michael Shannon is the detective in the story and his scenes are so intense, this man just has screen presence that is hard to forget or ignore. Apart from the feeling that things will never be resolved, I would say it’s one of the best films of the year. Also, anyone who is planning on watching this, don’t be alarmed by the opening credits sequence. 4/5 
Maggie's Plan
 Having missed the film at the cinema, I was keen to see it. But Maggie’s plan wasn’t quite what I had expected. Yes Greta Gerwig places another version of herself, an amalgamation of her previous characters. This one, Maggie, wants to have a child and doesn’t want to wait. But not long before she is about to impregnate herself with an old school friend’s donation, she meets John, a ficto-critical anthropologist, whatever that is, and who is also trying to write his novel. The two fall in love, breaking up his marriage to artist Georgette. But from here I was confused. Possibly down to the trailer that makes it seem like a humorous harmless comedy but it’s more about how people make mistakes. It should have been called Maggie’s mistake not plan. She likes to control things but in the least imposing way. John and Georgette seemed like a good match maybe with a few issues that aren’t explored enough. The funniest scenes are when Maggie is with her friend/ex-boyfriend and his wife/Maggie’s colleague. It’s funny in a few places but ultimately it feels like the story went round the block to get next door. 3/5
Adult Life Skills
Another film I missed the cinema but lucky I watched this month. Anna (a brilliant Jodie Whittaker) is about turn 30 years old but she lives in a shed in her mum’s garden. After the death of her twin brother, Anna retreated into her imagination and refuses to move out. She lives in the middle of nowhere Yorkshire, working at an obscure activity centre and makes films with her thumbs in her shed. She is going through something painful and is haunted by the loss of her twin. But her mum still tries to get her to move on. She finds an odd connection with a seven-year-old cowboy who becomes inspired by her and eventually accepts herself and moves on. It’s brilliant. Growing up and moving on is difficult enough but add death too and seems impossible. Funny and redeeming and with added random moments just make it great.  4/5
Gun Crazy
This was originally meant to be in my Blind Spot list but it was booted off as I wasn’t going to be able to find a copy of the film to watch. Luckily 6 years after reading about it a book about film violence I read for my dissertation, the BFI came to my aid. With only a couple of screenings on, I got to see the classic film noir on the big screen. The story is about Bart (John Dall) and Laurie (Peggy Cummins) who fall in love over their obsession with guns, hit hard times and go on the run, robbing shops, banks and a factory. The whole way through it feels like one will betray the other in between their emotional scenes and carefully planned robberies. What made this film stand out were the scenes where the lovers are driving their car and the camera is placed behind them. They are really driving dangerously through cities and the dialogue seems more natural. It also ramps up the excitement of each crime. The cool down scenes aren’t filled with awkward silences but instead these really love each other and are deluded into thinking they can get away, even right up until the end. A fantastic film with even had a small role from a very young Russ Tamblyn, an extra delight. They really don’t em like they used to. 4/5
Mr Right
It looks like this film will not be getting a cinema release here. It was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival this year but that’s about it. To be fair, it’s a fun film but it’s not amazing. I just really love Sam Rockwell and the fact that Tim Roth appears, doesn’t hurt either. Rockwell plays Francis, a notorious contract killer who has had a change of heart. He now kills the people that hire him. At the same time feeling sorry for herself sad case Martha has just been cheated on by her boyfriend and doesn’t really have much going on. By chance these two meet and its love at first sight (mostly on Francis’ side). He tells her he’s a killer and is quite open about what he does, but of course she thinks he’s joking. Meanwhile a mafia type gang is hunting Francis down as well as his old partner in disguise. But Francis wants to do is be with Martha. It’s funny and rather sweet in places but its not anything you may have seen before. What makes it delightful is Rockwell and to a lesser extent Anna Kendrick who usually irritates me. 3/5

Thursday, 24 November 2016

By Women About Women

Joining Dell's fantastic blogathon a little late but no less excited. All this week Dell (and guest posts from Joel) has been posting about women in film. You can check out what he's been writing on his blog HERE.

These aren’t a top ten but there are a list of ten films directed or written by women about women or featuring a lead female character.
For a Good Time Call… Scr – Lauren Miller & Katie Anne Naylon
 The underappreciated comedy about two women (Ari Graynor & Lauren Miller) who start their own business. The business is a sex chat line. But don’t be fooled by this, the film and the characters are brilliantly played out. It starts like any other film, two people who dislike each other find they need each other and soon realise they are best friends. They take the business seriously, become successful, go through ups and downs emotionally and sometimes actually and one of the best moments is when they say ‘I love you’ to one another and it’s not in a romantic way, they are best friends and that’s really what the films is about, not the sex chat line.
Obvious Child dir & scr. Gillian Robespierre
 Aka when Jenny Slate became one to watch and not just a bit part actor. A comedian playing a comedian can feel a bit too much but it’s actually entertaining as well as super uncomfortable, but that might be just me as I’m not a fan of stand-up comedy, no matter who is performing. The film isn’t about a struggling comedian, it’s not even about her one night stand that results in a pregnancy, it’s about the fact that abortion is not a taboo subject, and nor should it be. Donna, knows exactly what she needs to do and doesn’t spend the film second guessing, she spends her time trying to get past her cheating ex, write the right jokes and decide whether to tell the Max (Jake Lacy) the guy she likes she’s having an abortion. The story ends on a hopefully note with some answered questions which actually works for the story and I’m hoping this movie will stop being referred to as ‘the one about abortion’.
Electrick Children dir & scr. Rebecca Thomas
 A film that didn’t make too much noise upon its release but those who did see it were left with a feeling of wonder. About a 15 year old girl, Rachel (Julie Garner), living in a fundamentalist Morman community who believes she has become pregnant through a cassette tape when she hears a rock band playing for the first time. After she escapes the community and a shot gun wedding, she searches for the band and meets a group of skaters in Las Vegas. Clyde (Rory Culkin) offers to marry her and help her look for the man on the tape. It seems so innocent but underneath there is the uneasy feeling and question, who did get Rachel pregnant. There is a conclusion of sorts and a sense that things will be alright in the end but it also feels too idyllic. 

Belle dir. Amma Asante
 Unlike the others in the list, this is a period costume drama based on a true story. The film takes its inspiration from the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray which was commissioned by their great uncle, William Murray, the Lord Chief Justice of England at the time. Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Murray’s nephew who was brought to England. Despite being an heiress, she was looked down upon and forced to take her meals separate from her family and guests. The film mainly concentrates on her relationship with a lawyer and a case about the Zong massacre, where a slave ship owner claimed he lost cargo and filled this with his insurance company. The outcome of the case is said to have contributed to the abolition of slavery. Quite a bit of history to look into but the film does bring its focus on Belle and her transition but at times, it has the feel of ‘sweeping costume drama’ to it.

Love Like Poison dir. Katell Quillevere
 Anna returns home from her Roman Catholic boarding school to find that her Dad her left their home, leaving her with her mother and beloved Grandpa. She questions her faith in the lead up to her First Holy Communion. Throughout the film she talks with the priest and her Grandpa and shares a mutual attraction with a boy her age, the beginning of her sexual awakening. There are some uncomfortable moments and the films ends in a hopeless way with a death and a return to routine, her faith not what it used to be. I felt a connection to this film as I was brought up Catholic, primary and secondary schools and made to go to church every Sunday. I hated it as I was forced to do all these things and between primary and secondary school I left cheated and resented going. When given the chance I stopped but in fact I did have a choice but unlike Anna who questions her faith, I ended up rejected the rituals. It’s a beautiful film with hard realities and made me look out for more films from Katell Quillevere.

In a World… dir & scr. Lake Bell
 Taking on the male dominated world of voiceovers, more specifically movie trailer voiceovers. Carol (Lake Bell) is a vocal coach but hopes to do trailer voiceovers, but her over bearing arrogant father who is the ‘king of voice overs’ doesn’t believe in her and actively doesn’t help her. After a few successes with advertisement she is recommended to audition for an upcoming trilogy featuring women warriors and goes head to head with her father to win this coveted job. The film is full of smaller characters that make this film feel delightful and a quiet approach to punching your fist in the air saying ‘equality’! It’s one for the feminists as it shows women can do what men do but it’s also one for the dreamers. Geena Davis makes an important appearance too, bringing the excited Carol down to Earth pointing out that she may not be the best but its time women were given a chance. It does put a downer the triumph at the end but it’s needed to remind women to keep going, don’t give up yet.
Frida dir. Julie Taymor
 I dismissed this film at first, not sure why as it’s a fantastic biopic and celebration of the surrealist artist Frida Kahlo. Following Frida (Selma Hayek) from her terrible accident, damaging her back and her first paintings to her meeting with Diego Rivera and her career as a successful painter. Her art is intertwined within the narrative of the story painting a literal picture her emotions and what she saw. A much better film than I remembered the first time and one that I will return to again.

Caramel dir. Nadine Labaki
 How can a movie about a group of women who work in a salon be so brilliant? A salon is a place where women can be free, they come together and talk, laugh without holding back. Labaki’s feature film debut on a group of five women who lead up to one of their weddings. One is having an affair with a married man, another is unable to except her age, another is attracted to women and another wants to follow desire but has a duty to her elder sister. The film is about these women’s everyday life, following their problems and emotions in sometimes beautifully subtle ways. 

Adult Life Skills  dir & scr. Rachel Tunnard
 Not everyone can adjust to adult life, sometimes we all struggle but when you lose your twin brother, everything is just that much worse. Anna (Jodie Whittaker) hasn’t gotten over the death of her brother. She lives in a shed at the bottom of her mum’s garden and still makes silly videos like she used to with her brother. In the week leading up to her 30th birthday, her mum tries to move her to her own flat, a 7 year old won’t leave her alone and an old school fellow tries to make it clear he likes her, but all Anna wants to do is make videos with her thumbs. Genuinely amusing as well as heart-breaking, Anna progresses slowly and is finally in a place she can move on. Being on the wrong end of my twenties myself, I can relate slightly as I’m still at home and financially unable to move on. But like Anna, I will make the push and blow up a shed. If that’s what it takes.

May in the Summer – dir. Cherien Dabis
 Shown the London Film Festival a few years back now and barely receiving a UK release date and no DVD release as yet, a story about three sisters who return to Jordan for one of their weddings. May (Cherien Dabis) has it all, but returning to Jordan brings up doubts from all sides. Her mother disagrees with the marriage, her siblings have their own issues that pile on the pressure and their father returns. The scenes that the sisters share are the most intimate as they talk and share secrets, matched with the beyond beautifully scenery, it’s a shame the film wasn’t given a wider release.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Westerns

Westerns is such a broad genre that it even has its own section in HMV. I’m going to go for the traditional kind. 

Don't forget to check out where it all started and who this is hosted by - Wandering Through the Shelves.
True Grit
 Wanted to fit a Coen Brothers film in here and True Grit just fit right. I actually saw this film 3 times at the cinema as my friends all saw it separately and I was too excited so went along each time.  Mattie Ross hires lawman Rooster Cogburn to help her track down the man that murdered her father. It’s a simple story of revenge and an unlikely friendship or sorts. Everything about this film is just superb and having Jeff Bridges take the lead just makes the film stand out on high. Finding unknown Hailee Steinfeld was also an excellent idea, she is a picture of determination and the two are well matched.

Slow West
 A horribly tragic story about young English nobleman who travels to the west to find his love, Rose. She and her father were accused of murder and ran away from Scotland. Young Jay Cavendish teams up with Irish bounty hunter Silas to find the fugitives. But with Silas keeping his true motives secret and with a gang of hunters on their trail, it’s only a matter of time before a deadly standoff. I say it sad because Cavendish is in love with Rose but she isn’t with him and its painfully obvious in the flashbacks and when they are finally reunited. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender do make an excellent team though.
High Plains Drifter
When I was younger, I was ill quite frequently. It actually really sucked. I missed out on some field trips, fun music lessons and events. I even missed out performing at the Christmas musical one year. But during the times I was ill, I watched movies. If my mum had to go to work or go shopping, I’d stay at home and raid the video cupboards. Mostly taped from the TV, we had Disney and a few random ones too, one being High Plains Drifter. It was certificate 18 so to a 10/11 year old this was enticing. A supernatural western starring Clint Eastwood in a story inspired by his previous roles in Sergio Leone and Don Siegel’s films, where he plays a mysterious stranger who arrives in a corrupt town who had their sheriff killed. He is violent, mean and uncaring and orders the town people to paint the place red as the criminals their hired come back. It’s actually a pretty good movie, but to be honest, 15 certificate would have been fine.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Losing That Christmas Feeling

 Over the years I've battled to keep Christmas as Christmas. I'm a creature of habit. I like my Chrismas tree, making a deal of the lights and decorations. I usually make cards and send them out. I love baking some cakes, biscuits and treats and taking them to work (even to my terrible previous job) and giving them to my family. I even loved present hunting and wrapping. My favourite part was placing them under the tree then of course having the person unwrap it. Watching all my favourite Christmas films, mkaing sure I watch them all and a few new ones. I even loved the lights being switched in on various local places. But this year just isn't the same.

It might be to do with a recent loss in the family, which I know has dampened spirits but I was feeling like this before it happened.

Usually by this time, I would have bought half the presents, planned and most likely made a few treats, the cards would be made and ready to be posted and I might have already scheduled some Christmas movie outings. But I have done none of that. I have horrible feeling that this the time when Christmas feels less special. It happened with my birthday a few years ago. I just didn't want to do anything and this year I was more excited about buying film festival tickets. I also started another new job so was preoccupied but its sad when you don't get excited anymore. Christmas might be heading that way.

For the last few years I have been battling to keep the decorations up and present giving. Certain family members didn't want the tree up last year or the year before and someone wanted to start secret santa with family. Secret Santa is something you do with colleagues you don't know very well and its an office tradition not a family one. We also usually play games too, mostly card games which I look forward to every year but last year they were cut short because people would have rather stared at the TV. Nobody wants to do anything... I volunteered to cook Christmas dinner which was met with a no confidence vote and everyone suggesting that others cook and I can 'help'. At this point my Christmas spirit is being seriously smashed down to pieces.

It might be to do with my mind frame and my position. Last year I was at a thankless job where I could let my mind wonder and plan. I worked weird hours so I was forced to work around it and had something to look forward to. This time it's different, I'm at a job I like but with health issues and other things going on, Christmas seems to be slipping away.

Sorry for the rambling post. Sometimes its good to write thoughts out but not always good to read them.

BUT I won't give up without a fight. I have bought a couple of small presents and I plan to raid the Tiger store this week for Christmas ideas. Plus I've started my shopping list for dinner and buying ingrediants for a bake coming soon. At least at work the Christmas spirit is alive, we have our decorating planning meetings already and I've already decided which Christmas films I'll be watching at the cinema. So, there is light at the end of the tunnel but I've just got to work harder at it.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Another Classic Ruined?

With the release of the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, we’re all waiting on which childhood memory and beautiful film Disney will ruin next. I know it seems that I have been ‘bashing’ Disney lately but just to reiterate, I do love Disney film, the classics, Pixar (mostly) and the occasional live actions BUT NOT REMAKES. I have a rant about Frozen ready to go but I’m holding back a little longer (waiting for Moana to set sail to brilliance). Of all the films of live action fairy tales, I liked Cinderella. This was probably due to me not particularly liking the animated classic as much.

Let me launch into this. My favourite Disney classics are Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood most likely The Little Mermaid. I can hold on to the fact that a live action of Robin Hood would be near impossible. Remaking with humans just wouldn’t work and no one can match the voices of Peter Ustinov and Terry Thomas. I hope, as I write these words, that I’m not sealing the fate of the film, oo-dalally. Unfortunately, this doesn’t save my two other favourites from being potentially destroyed.
This reign of fairy tale films is lasting longer than I expected. With successes, Snow White and the Huntsman, there were disappointments, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. With mediocre performances too, Jack the Giant Slayer. The key to success seems to be, follow the formula, meaning just copying the original story and making it look better, which is what Cinderella did. But with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan, they changed things.

The wave of changing fairy tales isn’t new. Bill Willingham has been doing it since 2002 in the epic universe of Fables. The delicate balance between ridiculous and brilliance was taken care of throughout the comic series and its’ spin offs. But what Willingham did was take note from the original fairytales rather than the Disney versions. The ABC TV show ‘Once Upon a Time’ tried to do all three. Copy, twist and Disneyfied. Now it seems that they just have Disney characters appearing as well children’s literature characters pop with myths and legends. The show was in danger of stepping on Fables coat tails but luckily the creators shot themselves in the foot. Fables is now free to be amazing even though there is the threat of a film on the horizon.

With each Disney live action remake, there is the loss of magic that animation brings. It is replaced by CGI and tricks. The more magical moments, I find are those that include more within the frame, the art direction is beyond amazing, even with the the more terrible film that have been produced. It has been said many a time that remakes are there to bring the story to a new audience, thus depriving the 'new audience' of the brilliant originals. A 'new audience' will never understand that Maleficent was one of the greatest villains created but was ruined in a mediocre attempt in making her the 'good fairy'. Why 'twist' the classic tale? The same was done with Snow White and the Huntsman but this wasn't Disney. It was just a terrible attempt at changing the story.

Back in 1996, 101 Dalmations bounced onto the big screen. Technically this could have been a straigh forward adaptation of the book but it was made by Disney. It kept the story, it kept the villain a true marvelous villain AND the animals didn't speak. It was brilliant. But Disney didn't learn from this successful film, it tried to change it. Cinderella followed the story and was successful. I actually really enjoyed this version. I was never close to the animated classic and I hated the mice. The cast were perfect, the costumes beautifully made and everything fit so well. I haven't seen the whole of The Jungle Book yet but I've been told its brilliant. It sticks to the story and the songs are even intact. a sense of childhood memories mixed with terrifying scenes. All you could want really. I haven't seen Pete's Dragon, I haven't even seen the original. This barely made it on the radar when it was released. But out of the remakes, this made sense as it was the lesser known Disney. But with the news of Beauty and the Beast and the release of the second trailer, I don't think its going to be what we've waited for.

Of course CGI is at hand to make the memorable characters of Cogsworth, Lumiere and Mrs Potts come alive but the Beast? There is something not quite right. And that brings me to Belle. Emma Watson is not Belle. She is too harsh and has that know-it-all expression that doesn't suit this character. Where as Luke Evans and Josh Gad at Gaston and Lafou are spot on. The fact that the songs are to be included, worry me too. I really wish that Disney hadn't tampered with this film. Now that Mulan is the next film to be ruined remade, that means all the classics you hold dear are in the firing line. How the hell would they do Mushu? There has also been talk of an Aladdin spin off prequel about the Geni. With stories and rumours like this, I wonder, why can't Disney make some original films? Zootropolis was amazing! Why can't they continue their winning streak? I really can't understand any of it.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies based on a TV Series

I’ve gone all American this week, mostly because the feature film versions of TV shows are usually sitcoms these days and I don’t see the point. Dad’s Army would have been here BUT I am yet to see it despite its bad reviews. And don’t get me started on the gad damn awful Inbetweeners Movies.

Don't forget to check out where it all started at Wandering Through the Shelves.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E 

 Unlike other Guy Ritchie films (he seems to be tamer these days) but still with a few signature moves, the film adaptation of the celebrated spy TV series didn’t seem to have the desired impact as it should have. A fabulous cast, beautiful scenery and the charm of the 60s, what went wrong? Nothing really, I loved this film. It didn’t help that it wasn’t really given a fanfare release in the middle of August. Not really the blockbuster film but still a sizable budget. During the cold war, America and Russia were not friends but when Italian Nazi supporters kidnap a famous German scientist to build a nuclear bomb, both sides have to play nice to stop the bomb and the crazy people who have it. The casting seemed odd on paper but my gad they got it right with Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as KGB agent Illya Kuryakin. It’s fun, with a few laughs and enough to keep the action going. Just wish a second film was in the works…

Charlie's Angels 
Three women, kicking ass and taking names but being told what to do by a man. Ok I’ll stop now. Charlie’s Angels was very much needed, the sequel is another thing – flying Demi Moores was not needed. An action film with great female leads, characters who can take care of themselves and are not distracted by men… oh wait….ok I’ll really stop now. I actually enjoyed this film. Lucy Lui, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz were pretty darn good. The story was also quite good too, having Sam Rockwell as the bad guy who wants revenge on Charlie for killing his dad was also fun to watch (love that guy). It also helped a great deal that Bill Murray was there too, I think he could have saved the sequel.

Dark Shadows 
The more recent addition to these picks is Tim Burton’s salute to Dark Shadows. Reading about the show it sounds pretty damn good and before its time maybe (but it did last 6 seasons). The once prominent Collins family are struggling along in business and with each other, but when Barnabus Collins who was cursed by a witch and turned into a vampire is unearthed, the family’s fortunes change but entirely for the better. Full of supernatural-ness and melodrama, just the soap opera, but overall underwhelming.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies about Addiction

 Don't forget to check out where it all started on Wandering Through the Shelves.

Thank You For Sharing
 I think I saw this film at a ‘blogger event’. It actually turned out to be an industry preview event where journalists saw previews of films. It was amazing. This was one of them. Film about three men who are at different stages recovering from sex addiction. It’s labelled a comedy but it is a serious subject. There isn’t a crystal clear happy ending but there is a sense these guys will get through their issues and hopefully be better.
 My guess is that this will be popular. A drug fuelled hell storm adapted from the pages of Irvine Welsh and brought to the screen by Danny Boyle. It is a cult classic 90s film about a group of heroin addicts living and shooting up in squalor in Edinburgh. There are some memorable scenes, as who can forget ‘the worst toilet in the world’ and Spud’s morning accident. Both vile but apart from these scenes, the film is iconic so it almost seems a shame it has a sequel coming out.

Trees Lounge
 I do love Steve Buscemi but my gad this film is depressing. Buscemi directs, writes and acts as Tommy, an alcoholic who doesn’t do much apart from sit at his local bar, along with the other regulars. He drives an ice cream truck around for a while, then has a weird relationship with a 17 year old then gets beaten up and gives up. Tommy is down trodden and continues this way throughout. There isn’t really an uplifting moment.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Kids Are Not Alright

I love Disney but I never dressed up at any of the Princesses. I don't think I dressed up as any Disney character but I'm pretty sure I identified with Ursula more than Arial. Let me say first, little girls dressing up as Disney princesses is absolutely fine, there is nothing wrong with that. But just like the little girl who dressed up as a hot dog while everyone else in her dance class were princesses, it’s also completely fine to dress up as anything else.

Looking at children’s films, now I understand the frustration that parents have when talking their children to the cinema. There isn’t really much on. So, they rely heavily on the what animations are out there. Adaptations of favourite childhood books are a safe bet but when animations such as The Secret Lives of Pets has only 2 female characters and there are countless male ones – what message does this send to children? Ok, I know they are animals and children aren’t going to care what gender the animals are but it is something to think about.

Disney tried to progress with Frozen, by having the love that broke a spell be between two sisters, which yes is new and different but Ana still had a love interest and sang few sappy songs including a love song. Also the film had some other gaping plot holes such as, where and how did Elsa get her powers? What’s with the trolls? Where did Kristoff’s parents go? The story also has a serious lack of villainy. The ‘so-called’ villain doesn’t make himself known until the film is almost over and his plan is thin at best. But for some reason all these issues were over looked in the name of progress.

The original Snow Queen story would have been better. There was an actual villain to be proud of, complete with great background story and there are siblings in the story, a brother and sister. It is the sister who has to save the day but in order to attract ‘boys’ to see this film, they changed everything when there wasn’t any need. The title just could have been.

The only progressive part of the Frozen tale probably would have been the fact that Elsa could be Disney’s first LGBT character. Her song, Let It Go, has been interpreted as her coming out and being who she wants to be. I think this would be an excellent step for Disney to take, if they do it well. But I can see into the future, the ignorant folks who don’t want LGBT characters on children’s films will speak out in their droves and it will be hideous all over again.

 The Frozen hysteria aside, what I don’t understand is that there was progression, before the huge eyed female leads became the norm. Such a negative fuss was made over the beautifully 2D animated, The Princess and The Frog because it didn’t perform as well as it was expected. Disney said that boys didn’t go to see it because it had ‘princess’ in the title. Or parents won’t take their children to see a great film?
With the progression Frozen apparently radiates, has everyone forgot Tiana? She was hardworking, independent, brave and was determined in reaching her goals. Sounds like a strong female character to me. As I recall, she didn’t falter with her dream AND was willing to help others despite her own wishes too. So why isn’t Tiana celebrated like Ana and Elsa?

I could go through each triumphant female character but I think the Frozen frenzy is too strong. That bring me to Moana, the upcoming Disney movie, another heroine with big eyes and big dreams. Moana is the first Polynesian princess and the film is set in ancient Oceana in the South Pacific. But wait stop, there is something that separates Moana from the other Disney delights. While she may be in 3D animation, it has been reported by Disney that she will not have a love interest for which I couldn’t be more delighted. This is progression! With the recent trailers appearing online, Moana looks beautiful (the ocean always does) and having the demi-god, Maui, along, this looks to be the buddy adventure of 2016.

Studio Ghibli were actually the studio making films about and for girls. Looking through the catalogue of all their film, many of the protagonists are either on the cusp of teenage-hood or they are young, sometimes very young, like Ponyo. All delightful stories and some without an ounce of a romantic storyline. Hopefully with Moana, Disney are taking a leaf out of Ghibli's book.

Focusing on Pixar, after reading through Slantmagazine.com's article, which you can read here, ranking all the Pixar films from worst to best, something was blindingly obvious. I am quite ashamed that I never noticed this before. Out of all 16 current Pixar films, only 2 films have a lead female protagonist, Brave and Inside Out. When Finding Dory is released it will be 3. Also, there have been no female directors, except Brenda Chapman who was a co-director on Brave.

Something is very wrong under the lamp.

After reading Anya Jaremko-Greenwold’s article on The Atlantic’s website, an excellent read by the way, I strongly suggest this, it’s heart-breaking to realise just how neglected young girls are when it comes to films and protagonists. The films that Anya Jaremko-Greenwold mentions are films such as Matilda, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden are all films I watched when I was young and you just don’t see films like this anymore. Young girls, pre-teens are presented with films featuring older leads, male or cartoons and the more I think about it, the more I worry.