Thursday, 29 December 2011

Robert Downey Jr in a dress! That should get most people's attention

I am getting VERY bad at this blogging once a week thing, but to be fair to me, it is Christmas! To update you on what I have watched since my last blog, I have seen "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" in the cinema, I watched "Red Eye" for a second time on DVD, "Aladdin" on Christmas day and I watched "Castle of Cagliostro" on Virgin Plus. I was so excited when I found out Film Four were doing a Studio Ghibli (which I like to pronounce "Jibli") season and I've set all the ones I haven't seen to tape. So far I've watched the one... Oh dear. I'm filling up the recording box or whatever it is to the brim but not getting round to watching any of it! I will watch some more soon, I hope...

Anyway, to get to the important stuff, Sherlock Holmes II!! What a brilliant film. The posters aren't wrong, it is bigger, better and funnier than the first one. RDJ is fantastic in any role, I will never disagree with casting him for anything. He's hilarious, his accent's ace (or at least I think so, I am often wrong about these things), and he's just got such charisma! I love Watson too, you need Jude Law's straight guy to balance out Holme's crazy ways. I was also presently surprised by Jared Harris as Moriarty, which initially disappointed me because I'd heard rumours that my favourite actor, Daniel Day Lewis - what a talent!! - was going to play him and I'd never heard of Jared Harris - apparently he's in "Mad Men"? - but he's perfect. He's smart, he's evil, he's kind of cool, he's a good nemesis for Holmes for sure. There's a bit more to the plot too this time, and the scenery is fantastic. The embassy in Switzerland at the end - not sure it's an embassy or in Switzerland, but that's what I remember - is basically a snow covered Rivendell, it looks awesome. Two more - very important - points I have so far neglected to mention are 1) RDJ in a dress! So funny and still hot and 2) Stephen Fry as Mycroft, very naked in one scene, also funny, but less hot. If you like Robert Downey Jr, if you like adventure, if you like cool fighting, basically if you like films, go see it!

Alas I still haven't seen the new "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", but that is the next film on my list. It's hard to find someone to go see it with, many think it's a bit too "rapey", which cannot be denied, but doesn't that advert look fantastic? The one where the only noise is that brilliant Led Zeppelin cover and it's so fast paced and has that fantastic Swedish scenery - I didn't realise until this week reading Empire that it's still set in Sweden.

I also watched, as I mentioned, "Aladdin" on Christmas day, and was reminded how awesome it is and how brilliant a good Disney tune is. That in mind, this week's list is my top 5 Disney films...

1. Hercules

OMG, what's not to love? The songs are sooo good. "Go the distance" is just one of my favourite songs full stop, plus "Zero to hero", plus all the rest really. And Hades! The best Disney villain ever, James Woods does some brilliant voice work and has some hilarious lines: "woah, is my hair out?" I think I must have seen it at least 20 times and I don't think it's fully appreciated as the classic it is.

2. Peter Pan

I so fancied him when I was a kid. He's just so cool and he lives the life all children want to, in a tree house, on an island filled with pirates, mermaids and NO adults. The story is a classic, though the songs are nothing special, but the lead character is just so cool, you've gotta want to be him and live his life.

3. The Emperor's New Groove

Another underrated masterpiece, this is probably the funniest Disney film ever. Who doesn't love a bit of John Goodman? and though he's probably done nothing to praise since, David Spade's comic delivery as Kuzco is perfect. But the BEST thing has to be Patrick Warburton, aka Joe Swanson, as Kronk! Doing his own theme tune, talking to squirrels. I've seen this one many times too and it doesn't stop being funny. Brilliant for kids and adults.

4. Beauty and the Beast

We all know it's one of, if not the, best. The music and songs are so good, the story is so moving, when the Beast "dies" at the end we all cry. Though I cry more when he comes back as a weird-looking lame-ass prince who deep down we all know isn't as hot as he was as a beast. Also, one of the BEST songs ever, "No one... like Gaston", which has one of the best lines ever "LeFou I'm afraid I've been thinking - A dangerous pass-time - I know". You do genuinely hate Gaston at the end when he storms the Beast's castle. Why can't everyone see he's gentle? But darn it can that man eat a lot of eggs!

As always, the last ones a tricky one, but the verdict is...

5. The Lion King

It kind of has to be, doesn't it? Simba was another character I wanted to be when I was little, running off and living in the jungle, no adults, only Timon and Pumbaa. What brilliant music and, like "Beauty and the Beast", what a moving story. I have to cry at least twice in that film. When Simba is telling his dad to wake up! Mufasa is possibly the coolest adult character ever, he definitely has the coolest voice and Scar is a pretty good baddy. The bits with him and the hyenas are genuinely scary. Everyone knows it's a classic, it cannot be denied, not just of Disney, but of all films.

Film news: Everyone should read "the Hunger Games" trilogy because it's really fun and the film is coming out in March and the trailer looks really good. People say it's the new "Twilight" but don't listen to them, it's actually good.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A very festive lead up to Christmas...

My blog is later than planned AGAIN this week, so I'm officially giving up on this whole "get it done by Tuesday" thing and it's gonna be pretty randomly timed. I have, however, managed to get in two very festive cinema trips: first "A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas" and second "New Year's Eve" (shh, I know, I know).

I have recently watched both "Harold and Kumar" 1 & 2 in preparation for this film and because I've been promising to watch it for aaages now. You gotta love the guys, especially young emo Harold in 2!! Obviously if you don't enjoy stoner comedies like "Dude Where's My Car?" then don't bother - though I think this is a level above "Dude Where's My Car", but you've gotta be prepared for a lot of drugs, a lot of naked women and a lot of immature jokes. They're sweet, endearing characters though, which I think sets this a bit above many other such films. Plus, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS cameos in all 3 and is hi-la-ri-ous! My favourite scene in 2 is where he brands a hooker :P

"A Very H & K 3D Christmas" is possibly my favourite so far, partly due to NPH's awesome appearance and the very funny take on his coming out. It's sweet, it's bright, it makes a lot out of its 3D-ness and it's kinda festive, despite the baby on coke.

I must admit I did enjoy "New Year's Eve", as I enjoyed "Valentine's Day" and "He's Just Not That Into You", because I fall for the ensemble casts and the different interlinked stories. It's no better than "VD" really (the film, not the other thing ahem...) and neither has matched the cinematic experience of "HJNTIY" which I REALLY enjoyed for a chick flick, but again, it's sweet, it's festive and it's easy to watch. ONLY WATCH IT if you like this kind of thing, it is drivel, but it does what it says on the label.

For my top 5 this week I guess I should do something like top 5 Christmas films, but lets be honest, apart from "the Grinch" and "Elf", are there that many great ones? (OMG, I do love "Elf" though). No, this week I have decided to go for something a little different to my usual "Top 5 films which..." category, I'm going for my Top 5 TV Shows, just because I can!

1. Dragonball Z

In the case of this list my number 1 is DEFINITELY my number 1! This has been my favourite programme since I was 8 or something and it hasn't changed just because it's a kid's show. It's got the fun characters, the cool drawings, the awesome battle scenes, the lol moments, the romance, it's got it all! Yes, I'll concede that some scenes are drawn out too long, but it's one of the best stories ever and Goku and Vegeta will remain two of the coolest guys to ever hit our TV screens. When it changed channels and I could no longer watch it it was a blow to my childhood and when I bought the entire box set many years later I spent one summer watching about 5 or 6 hours a day to catch up to the end. Totally worth it! This has a very special place in my heart and it always will.

2. Arrested Development

Many people presume I'm exaggerating when I say this is the funniest, best-written comedy that I've ever seen but it just is. The cast is genius and mostly relatively obscure when it was made so go casting directors! The in-jokes are amazing, the timing is perfect and it's sooooo quotable. There are few lines that aren't perfectly thought out and brilliantly funny. All hail GOB and Franklin, the best comedy duo ever!

3. Battlestar Galactica

I literally watched ALL of this last summer. It's so good. It took years of recommendations for me to get round to it and now I recommend it to anyone I can. If you like sci-fi you'll love it, if you don't you'll still love it! The first two series are so gripping! It's so action packed and it has so many brilliant characters, for a TV show the special effects are amazing, and Jamie Bamber is the love of my life (OK, slight exaggeration). Really, if it were a book I'd say you won't be able to put it down. It's moving and it's exciting and everything a TV series should be. God knows why "the Wire" is supposed to be the best thing ever, why not this?

4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who didn't love this? Who can deny the genius of Joss Whedon (see also "Dollhouse" and "Firefly")? I spent much of my childhood settling down to this and "Angel" on a Saturday night. The stories are so good, you learn to love the characters, it can be scary and funny and it's just a complete classic. This is what all new vampire/monster shows and films wish they were but can never be. It;s the original and still the best.

This last one is really difficult. There are so many shows I love but I want to get a good range... Because I have to pick 1 I'll go for...

5. Parks and Recreation

This is so good! I love my Friday tv schedule with new "Office", "Modern Family", and "Parks and Rec". Originally set to be a spin-off of the Office US, this has, at its best moments, reached the genius of the Office and just because at the moment I think this is better I have picked this one. If you want an example of why to watch it, youtube anything Ron Swanson has ever said about meat. I love all the characters and I think Amy Poehler is one of the sweetest things ever. The fact that she's married to Will Arnett (GOB Bluth) makes her perfect. I always wonder why "Saturday Night Live", which is filled with such actors and has the Lonely Island trio, just doesn't make me laugh at all? I don't get American comedians but I get there TV fiction.

Film news: Brace yourselves people, a travesty is about to be unleashed on all cinema viewers everywhere, James Cameron - who is definitely on my list of most over-rated people EVER - is re-releasing "Titanic"!! "Why?" you ask. I have NO IDEA! Was it good the first time round? No! Is it too long? Boring? A silly story? Has it taken Leo 10 years and many great performances to make this up to me? Yes to all of these! I don't care if it's the 2nd best grossing film ever or whatever, I refuse to accept it's good and I know in my heart that I'm right.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

My week in the past...

This week’s been my last week of term before the Christmas holidays – yay! – so I’ve been a bit useless at getting this blog done. I like to try to post them on Tuesdays, but clearly that has not worked.

My film watching was a bit poor last week, though I did manage to get in three – so I guess it wasn’t too bad a week-, including one cinema trip. I watched “The Kids are Alright” during the week and then at the weekend I saw “My Week with Marilyn” at the cinema and finally got round to viewing “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”.
I very much enjoyed “My Week with Marilyn”. I am a great fan of period films and, though this was only the sixties, it was an interesting view into the film industry 50 years ago. The main character, Colin, coming from a rich, aristocratic family, easily gets a job on a Laurence Olivier/Marilyn Munroe film because he happened to meet Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh at a party. It’s also really interesting to get an insight into Marilyn behind the scenes, though many critics have argued that obviously the author of the novel it is based on (Colin Clark, on whom the main character is based) could have exaggerated her dependency on him (and indeed other men).

Michelle Williams is just fantastic in everything she does. I have much love for her. I think she’s brilliant in this at capturing Marilyn, especially if you compare scenes of “the Prince and the Showgirl” which they’ve re-enacted with the originals. She adopts a completely different voice and different mannerisms to her own to capture the part. This film perhaps doesn’t deserve an award itself, but maybe Michelle Williams does.

Considering this week’s cinema film was about Marilyn Munroe, I thought my top 5 list this week could be my top 5 films which came out before I was born:

The Godfather trilogy
Ok, so this isn’t one film, but I find it hard to pick a favourite. Obviously 1 and 2 are far superior to 3, though I do not agree with many critics that it is a bad film, it’s just got 2 such fantastic predecessors to compete with. It just has one of the best casts ever, and such a fantastic story. I love Al Pacino in this. He is often criticised for over-acting but I don’t think this is one of those roles. And Diane Keaton as Kay and Robert Duvall as Tom, and of course one of Marlon Brando’s most iconic roles as Vito, the eponymous Godfather in no.1. There’s such a fantastic diversity of characters, it’s such an interesting concept to explore, so surreal and extreme yet based on a system – the mafia – which is very real in America. The music, the look, the acting, the script: Francis Ford Coppola gets it all right as he often does.

A Clockwork Orange
The book is so good and this is one of the few book-to-film adaptations which does its source justice. It’s a fantastic story, and so cleverly thought out: A new language, a complete new way of dressing, a future dystopian world. I watched this film for the first time when I was 15 and I think I watched it 10 times within 10 weeks. I fell in love with Malcolm McDowell who plays such an iconic role and who you become concerned for and follow intently despite his completely evil nature. Though it doesn’t put it across as explicitly as the book, I think it also plays well the true idea behind it, whether conditioning someone to make them act as though they’re good is really making them good.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Here I’ve tried to pick a favourite of the trilogy. I find the first one is mostly introductory and I think everyone usually agrees 2 is the best. I love sci-fi, I love the creation of an alternate world, the fight scenes, the aliens, the brilliant story. I’ve never been too keen on Luke as a protagonist, but Han Solo is epically cool and Darth Vader is such an amazing villain. Also, Alec Guinness (and even later Ewan McGregor) as Obi Wan will always be one of my favourite film characters, even though he only features in a “New Hope” and so I technically shouldn’t mention him here. As you can see, I love a good trilogy.

Blade Runner
Another film where a whole new world has had to be created and that is based on a book i thoroughly enjoyed. it’s also a very intelligent one I find, questioning what makes someone human and moral. It looks amazing, the city, the inhabitants, especially the androids. I actually don’t like Harrison Ford’s character in this film. I think his treatment of women verges on abusive, but Rutger Hauer has such presence and is so cool as the villain and, to be honest, is a very sympathetic character, much more so than Ford’s Deckard. Anyone who likes sci-fi has to see this.

Some Like It Hot
My favourite Marilyn film, though that is because it’s the only one I’ve seen, it’s also my favourite black and white film and one of the few films I consider old that actually makes me laugh. She’s brilliant and so are Jack Lemon and Richard Curtis – though for the life of me I don’t see how Richard is attractive. It’s fun and sweet and timeless.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Joseph Gordon Love-itt

I know right, you can’t believe how clever my title is? Anyway, in this week’s blog I am going to be singing the praises of one Joseph Gordon-Levitt, aka Tommy from “3rd Rock from the Sun”. I went to see “50/50” last Friday – the day it came out of course – and, though I also love James McAvoy, I’m so glad JGL ended up with the role. It’s very funny and it’s very moving. What’s done so well in this film is showing how people react when they learn he has cancer and how the odd forms of sympathy really make him feel. I’m also quite a fan of Seth Rogan and he does justice – though not unexpectedly seeing as he was friends with Will Reiser, who survived cancer and wrote the screenplay – to the awkward but supportive best friend, figuring out how to be what Adam (JGL) needs him to be.

I’ve loved Joseph since he was about 15 and started in 3rd Rock from the Sun. I was then very pleased to see him getting a big role in one of my favourite films, 10 Things I Hate About You, but let’s be honest, we all watched that for Heath. What really made me realise how brilliant an actor, but equally importantly, how beautiful JGL is, was “Brick” (2005), when he must have been about 24.

“Brick” is set in an American high school and JGL/Brendan’s girlfriend disappears at the beginning and the film follows a very murder-mystery/detective orientated plot line as he tries to discover what has happened to her. The film reminded me a lot of “Bugsy Malone” as the teens all seem very old for their age, many of them involved in drugs, violence, manipulation and complicated relationships. The plot is very fast paced and dense and it’s definitely one to watch several times. It’s brilliant if you like indie films as the cast is relatively unheard of – apart from JGL and perhaps Emilie de Ravin – but all play their parts well. It was writer and director Rian Johnson’s first feature film, which makes it all the more impressive. JGL is definitely the best thing in it however. It is a big change from Tommy in “3rd Rock” or Cameron in “10 Things, he is now a broody loner with long scruffy hair and who subjugates himself to a lot of horror and violence to discover the truth.

JGL has done a lot of fantastic films – the only dud in the bunch has to be “G.J. Joe” The Rise of Cobra” – and is consistently brilliant. He’s definitely starting to get the recognition he deserves, but there’s still a way to go until he’s the star he deserves to be – with that face and that talent! - Many of his films are still pretty anonymous. That’s why this week I am exploring...
My top 5 Joseph Gordon-Levitt films:

This film probably gets the most points by balancing best film and best appearance from Joseph. I think it is his most iconic performance to date. Though I like “Inception” just as much, if not more, it’s all about Joseph in this film and it’s as good a film as “Inception”.

I heard of this film through IMDB-ing what Joseph was going to be in, but I never saw any other form of advertising really. I’m not sure if it ever came out in the cinema, because before I knew it I had to watch it on DVD. It’s really about a young boy, T.J., and his dad (Rainn Wilson) dealing with the death of his mum. His dad is completely out of it and has become useless as far as T.J. is concerned. Hesher (JGL) is a homeless, shirtless rocker who decides to move in with them and they are too complacent to stop him. Somehow he helps them deal with their loss. It’s well acted by all and very moving, as well as surreal and a unique idea. To add some star value, it also has Natalie Portman as a quirky (surprise, surprise) girl who befriends T.J. and Hesher.

Mysterious Skin:
This film is so fantastically performed and brilliantly done, but it’s also something I don’t know if I could ever watch a second time. It cuts back and forth in the lives of two boys from a period when they’re about 8 to when they’re about 18. JGL plays one of the 18-year-old boys, who were both abused by their baseball coach at the age of 8. He is now a male prostitute while the other still doesn’t realise what happened to him. It’s probably the most difficult film I’ve ever watched, apart from maybe the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but it’s worth it at least the one viewing if the topic won’t upset you too much.

Christopher Nolan is yet to do wrong. The cast of this film is SO good and I’m barely even referring to Leo. Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphey AND Joseph Gordon-Levitt! Only in a Nolan film would you find this many brilliant indie actors in something American. Ok, not only, but he is damn good at it. The story is brilliant, the action is brilliant, it’s all JUST. SO. GOOD. But to be fair to this top 5 list, JGL isn’t the main character at all.

10 Things I Hate About You:
I bang on about this so much and it’s not a very original choice so I didn’t want it too high on the list, but it has to be on there. Even though it is ALL about Heath in this film, JGL is also awesome and it’s so much cleverer than your average American high school film. It’s so lol and so cool. I love it.

I didn’t put this in the top 5 cos I’ve only just seen it and I’ve put it as this week’s new review, but it’s so good. Do go see it or rent it when it’s out on DVD.

Film news:
This isn’t that new, but it’s relatively unknown, anyone who has never seen the series “Arrested Development” HAS to get on that ting. It’s my favourite series (after the legendary "Dragonball Z") and the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on TV. They’ve been talking about a film since it got cancelled in 2005 and not it’s finally happening PLUS a 4th series to bring things together. I’m not sure on dates or any details but Michael Cera and Jason Bateman themselves have said it’s happening so watch all the first 3 series quick – but without rushing the genius – cos this is a film that has to be seen.