Friday, 24 February 2012

Spall About Rafe

I finally got around to watching "Hunger" (2008) this weekend, the first of the McQueen/Fassbender combinations, but also the first film I've seen this week since "Chronicle"! I know, it's shocking, I didn't go to the cinema once last week, but there's so much to do, so many essays to prepare and mock exams to revise for.

"Hunger" is a very interestingly made film, you can tell that its creator is an artist in the traditional sense, as well as a developing director. The film, which shows us the Maze prison in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, focusing on the wash strike and the subsequent second attempt at a hunger strike in 1981, in which leading IRA soldier and ex-MP for Northern Ireland, Bobby Sands, dies. This film is not about dialogue, but about intense, difficult imagery. At the beginning we are supplied with background information in the titles and then the film begins and hits us straight away with prison officer Raymond Lohan checking his car for bombs before he heads off to work, we see his bloodied and cut knuckles, the result of his violent career. Inside the prison we enter when the wash strike is already underway. Introducing us to two specific inmates sharing a cell, we see that the walls are smeared with excrement, the inmates hairy and unwashed, looking like cavemen.  

Bobby Sands' (Michael Fassbender) character is not introduced for the first 20-30 minutes, so labeling it a film about Sands is almost inaccurate. He is one significant part of this serious political movement underway in Ireland in the 1980s, one which had been going on for a long time. Sands is the leading figure in the hunger strike which starts in the second half of the film and we see through him, the horrific effects of this civil war on the Northern Irish people, we are not given a black and white view where we have "IRA bad, government good", nor are the police and the authorities all cruel men (one SWAT officer breaks down in tears as his comrades beat the inmates). Though it does make one question the nature of prison guards and men given power over criminals, as the film is full of harsh beatings and unjust violence against these men, many of whom are weak and cannot defend themselves against the brutality of police bludgeons. Despite the seemingly small role for a protagonist which Fassbender plays, one of the most hard-hitting images of the film is the gradual decay of Bobby throughout the hunger strike. It is not an easy thing to watch and McQueen has in no way glamourised or toned down events, he shows us the most base, most horrifying aspects of 1980s prisons in Northern Ireland and the struggle for independence.

The lack of dialogue does not mean that we are in the dark about the logistics of what is going on. We are supplied, as I said, with the titles at the beginning giving background information, occasional genuine radio clips of Thatcher explaining the government's stance, and one long conversation (a continuous shot) between Sands and his priest friend (Liam Cunningham), also a nationalist, discussing the motives and flaws of the hunger strike. McQueen very skilfully keeps us as in the know as necessary on historical context, while depicting most of his message through images. It is a short film, at just 1 hour 30 minutes, which for a historical drama is unusual, but it does not beat about the bush. The lack of dialogue, the desire to say almost everything through what we see, not what we hear, allows for this brevity. "Hunger" is very different from his newest work, "Shame", which I previously reviewed and expressed my great admiration for as a film, but both show the natural artistic talent of McQueen, who knows how to use imagery better than many of his peers. He is a natural artist as I have said before. I cannot wait for his next collaboration with Fassbender, "Twelve Years A Slave", due out in 2013.

I haven't been to the cinema or watched many new films recently, what with all the exams and what not, but I did have a lovely dream the other day about Rafe Spall, so I thought I'd dedicate a section of this post to one of my favourite actors. The only reason I haven't mentioned Rafe before is that, despite his unquestionable talent, charisma, and understated good looks, he hasn't been in a very large amount of films or TV shows. Spall is of course the son of British acting legend, Timothy Spall, or Wormtail from the Harry Potter franchise as many young film watchers will know him.

Spall with Elaine Cassidy in "A Room With A View"
   Rafe's first appearance in a film was in "Beginner's Luck" (2001), aged 18, but the first time I noticed him was in the TV adaption of one of my favourite books, "A Room With A View" in 2007 (written by period drama icon, Andrew Davies). I have this habit of falling in love with actors for playing a part in a film that I have yet to see, when that character is one I already love. For example, I read "The Lovely Bones" before going to see the film and was besotted with Susie Salmon's father, who showed such devotion and despair for his lost daughter. When I saw the cast for the upcoming film and that Mark Wahlberg was to play the part of Jack, I think I fell for Wahlberg even before watching the film, because part of me was convinced he would be brilliant. I don't know why. A similar thing happened when I heard that Rafe Spall had played George Emerson in "A Room With A View". This novel by E.M. Forster contains one of the greatest fictional love stories of all time and George is one of the most romantic and lovable heroes I have ever ecountered (along with Edward Rochester of course). When reading the novel, I imagined Spall as the lead and fell for him while falling for George. Luckily, the film did not disappoint. Though perhaps not as good an adaptation as the Merchant Ivory production, Rafe is the perfect George.

The "Desperate Romantics" (Spall far left)
Since discovering him, I have kept track of Rafe's film and TV career and have gone back to revisit old performances which I missed at the time, such as "The Chatterley Affair" (2006) and "Wide Sargasso Sea" (2006). For me, Rafe is a fantastic actor to follow because the majority of his choices have been period dramas, often depicting books which I have read and enjoyed, such as the above mentioned two, but others also, including 2006's "Dracula" (with Marc Warren as the eponymous vampire!!). "Wide Sargasso Sea"is the prequel to "Jane Eyre" in which Rafe plays a young and inexperienced Edward Rochester, forced into an arranged marriage with the beautiful Antoinette (Rochester's mad first wife from "Jane Eyre", here played by Rebecca Hall), leading to dire consequences. "The Chatterley Affair" is a fictional take on the trial that reintroduced "Lady Chatterley's" lover into the published world. Other fantastic TV appearances from Spall include 2008's "He Kills Coppers", a crime thriller based on the novel by Jake Arnott, along with Spall's portrayal of William Holman Hunt in the hilarious and fun "Desperate Romantics" (2009) series, following three of the leading  Pre-Raphaelites, Hunt, Jonathan Millait and the incorrigible Dante Gabriel Rossetti, their art, their loves and their follies.

More mainstream appearances of Spall which are likely to have caught your attention or at least have a wider audience are both Pegg/Frost collaborations "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) and "Hot Fuzz" (2007). "Shaun of the Dead" is a good one for hard core Spall fans because it is one of his earliest film roles in which many may not recognise him, 21 years old and before he lost a lot of weight. He works with Shaun and is to be seen early on disrespecting Shaun at work and making the well-known comment "you've got some red on you". In "Hot Fuzz" he plays one of the two Andys, along with the awesome Paddy Considine. I am not a fan of "Shaun" I must admit, it does not make me laugh, nor am I a zombie-fanatic, but "Hot Fuzz" is definitely one of my favourite comedies and is based near my beloved home town of Bristol, woo! He also played William Shakespeare in last years "Anonymous" but he is not to be judged on this film which was not the best historical piece I have ever seen. A much better 2011 film to watch for Rafe is "One Day", based on the David Nicholl's novel, in which Spall plays Hathaways' hapless boyfriend. Though not the lead, the Guardian rightly commented that Spall's is one of, if not the best performances in this film. His character is an awkward, uncomfortabley unfunny wannabe comedian, but he's sweet and his heart's in the right place, which is something Spall plays very well.

Spall's best break may be his very own TV comedy, which many of you will know, "Pete Vs Life", in which sports journalist Pete's life is commentated on as he makes mistake after mistake with women and his career. It's an enjoyable, sweet comedy, worth a watch, though not the best thing on TV. I love him because he's a talented, natural actor, he can play a variety of different roles - though he often plays, the sweet innocent, he plays an incredibly dark, twisted, bordering-on-insane mobster in 2011's "The Shadow Line", a gangster thriller with a fantastic cast. He is incredibly personable and has a subtle charisma that shows through on the screen. I went to see him in a stage play a few years back, "Hello and Goodbye", in which he played a young South African man, left alone with his dying father in a tiny, squalid house, with deeply negative effects on his sanity. He was fantastic and it was, as I'm sure you can guess after this rather long rant, incredibly exciting to be in such close proximity to one of my heroes. Furthermore, no female fan can deny that the frequency in which Spall strips off for a role ("A Room With A View", "Wide Sargasso Sea", "The Chatterley Affair", etc.) certainly helps keep your admiration at a peak.

My only problem is that Spall does not seem to be in enough TV shows or films to satiate my addiction! Luckily for me, he is to star in one of the most anticipated, destined-to-be-great, films of the year, alongside another great love of mine, that's right, Michael Fassbender, in Ridley Scott's prequel to "Alien", "Prometheus"! Keep a look out for this film, whose cast and crew combination - when has Scott ever gone wrong? -, plus the subject matter - alien space-battles- alone should have you drooling at the mouth while you await it, before any reviews or critiques arise giving you any solid idea of how well executed the film will be.

Film News
I bought this month's Total Film, which is not a regular buy for me, but I like to have a check what articles are in there, who's being interviewed, what films are being reviewed, what inside scoop they reveal. This month's has "The Hunger Games"' Katniss Everdeen on the front cover and a look at this year's superhero movies and I have been meaning to get more up to date on what is coming out, so I bought a copy and there were some goodies inside...

"Warm Bodies": This is a new zombie film starring Nicholas Hoult as the undead hero, named simpy "R", and based on Isaac Marion's novel of the same title. The story centers around R falling in love with the girlfriend (Teresa Palmer of "I Am Number Four" and "The Sourcorer's Apprentice") of one of his victims. The incredibly cool image of Hoult in Total Film caught my eye straight away and the film is directed by "50/50" director, Jonathan Levine. "Warm Bodies" is due for release on 24th August.

"Dark Shadows": Finally, a new Tim Burton-Johnny Depp combo! No, I'm not even being sarcastic. As you may well know from my previous blogs, I have a special place in my movie-heart for Burton and his personal gothic genre. This films sounds particularly delectable, with Depp starring as Barnabas Collins, an 18th Century fish-canning magnate, turned vampire by a jealous witch (Eva Green), buried alive and then allowed to rise again in 1972, having to adapt to a totally different world. Yes, as I'm sure you're wondering, this film does also star the wonderful Helena Bonham Carter, in an impressive cast including Michelle Pfeiffer (first time reuniting with Burton since "Batman Returns" in 1992), Johnny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz and a cameo from Alice Cooper! This 8th Burton-Depp collaboration was called by Total Film "a supernatural-gothic-horror-action-comedy" - with that many genres involved, how could it not be entertaining?

Dark Shadows

Friday, 17 February 2012

Tinker Trailer Soldier Spy

The dual victors for my poll on the Best Film of 2011 were "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2" and "X-Men: First Class", two first class films no doubt.

This weekend I FINALLY went to see "Chronicle", as well as getting the chance to watch "Moneyball", one of the films much talked about at the BAFTAs.

"Chronicle" was a really fun film with a particularly interesting take on the idea of teenagers developing super powers. Three young boys discover a hole in the ground in the middle of the woods with a tunnel leading down to a cave in which they discover a strange, glowing, other-worldly phenomenon. It emits loud, metallic noises and a bright glow and when the boys emerge they each have telekinetic powers. Their powers grow stronger and one of the boys, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), who has a troubled home life, an abusive father and an ill mother, starts to use his powers for evil and not good.

The entire film is done by hand-held camera, as it starts with Andrew deciding to carry an old video camera around with him and film everything. This technique  has of course been used in multiple films since "the Blair Witch Project" in 1999, but it is used particularly well here I would say. The boys each take turns holding the camera and this complements well the powers motif as we can see almost from a first person perspective the way their powers develop and the amazing things they can do with them (spoiler: it looks particularly cool when the boys learn to use their powers to fly and play football in the clouds). Furthermore, towards the end I was thinking that, Andrew having abandoned his camera, the director might have to change to a traditional camera mode. Instead he manipulates the fact that in our modern society, there is always a camera at hand, whether it be CCTV or someone's mobile phone, from whose perspective we can monitor events. This is something you don't see often in such a film, a frequent change between the camera we are viewing events from.

The three boys all play their parts very well, they are very natural which is extra important when filming in such a way, with this home video feel. My favourite part of the film was actually before things get heavy, before the pace picks up, when the boys are developing and discovering their powers. The film has very heart-warming moments in  which these new found powers allow Andrew to become closer to his only friend, Matt (Alex Russell) and to make a new friend in football player and future class president, Steve (Michael B. Jordan). We see three teenage boys in a very American high school environment, the bullying, the fickle popularity, the cheerleaders, the parties. All of this is very well executed I feel, very realistic.

As Andrew's powers become dangerous, I think this is where the film loses a little bit of its edge. Though DeHaan plays the part very convincingly and one can see how Andrew could turn down such a path, with the background he has and his difficulty with fitting in, he turns too quickly. I think that the film becomes slightly rushed, having spent a great deal of time on the boys bonding and growing more powerful. That said, the final scenes are some of the most impressive, as Andrew terrorises Seattle and I would not by any means dismiss the second half as many critics do that of films such as "I am Legend" and "Hancock" (I don't mean to pick on Will Smith here, these are just examples I remember). This is a very entertaining, well filmed, exciting and moving film. You genuinely care about all three boys and there is not one moment when I felt bored.

I also enjoyed "Moneyball" significantly more than I would bet on with a film about baseball. I will usually give anything with Brad Pitt in a chance and I saw potential in this film, about using statistics and not instinct to build a winning baseball team in 2001 America, for an intriguing concept. Though it is 2 hours 13 minutes long, I was, again, at no point bored while watching it. It is relatively fast paced, covering many games, much recruitment and many lay-offs, and of course Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill fare well in their leading roles. If you like sports films, if you like true story documentations, if you like Brad Pitt, this isn't a bad way to go. I would not give Brad Pitt a Best Actor award myself, as I do not feel the role particularly challenged him or showed his great talent as much as many of his other films have, but he plays the part very well and very naturally. This films deals with its subject matter very efficiently and  is all the more interesting for being a true story, but I would not list it as one of my favourites of 2011.

There has been a distinct lack of "top 5"s in my recent posts and I have receieved many brilliant suggestions for future ones, so hopefully I'll get back to ranking the films I love. This week, I am going to be looking at the...

Top 5 Trailers That Made Me Go: "F**k yeah, I'm seeing that film!"

With trailers like this, as with most comedy trailers, you always think, "Yes, it looks hilarious, but those are probably ALL of the best lines in the film well cut together to make me think that it will be a laugh a minute masterpiece, when in truth, the best bits have now been ruined for me." This is SO often the case, but not with "Arthur":

One of my favourite comedy lines in any film ever has to be what Arthur says here about horses (if you haven't watched the trailer, please do, you'll see what I mean). This advert made me smile from ear to ear I must say, it made me laugh, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which is largely due to the brilliant choice of song, "Rebel Rebel", but also because, despite my previous opinions on the man, Russel Brand is incredibly endearing and a genuinely funny person. Also, Helen Mirren is impossible not to love. The film delivers all the trailer promises and more. It's not for everyone, it did not received great critical acclaim and many find Brand annoying, and if so, maybe you should steer clear, but I have seen it twice in the past year and would happily watch it again and again to rekindle that warm feeling.

Don't you love that? When an advert, particularly one with a well chosen soundtrack, makes you feel something deep in your tummy? Whether it be warm, fuzzy feelings, or the chill that runs through me everytime "The Fellowship of the Ring" begins and I hear Galadriel introduce us to what will remain the best franchise of all time I am sure. I always seem to get such feelings with a good U2 track come to think of it... "With or without you" always gets me.
The Dark Knight
Of course, no one would believe that I wasn't already straining my patience to the extreme in anticipation of this film, even before I ever saw a trailer. All I needed to hear was "Batman sequel", "Christopher Nolan", "Joker", "Heath Ledger", in fact, any one of these would have done, and I was writing it in my diary as the biggest event of the year. In fact, even before filming had started, I was one of the multitude of fans desperately trying to guess who would be playing the coveted role of the Joker (Steve Buscemi? Paul Bettany?). But this trailer, this beautiful piece of cinema, satsified all my hopes and dreams that this was going to be the best super hero film ever made:

What better way to introduce a film than with a shot of Batman free-falling from one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong and with a voice over from the Joker, the legendary Heath Ledger, that sends chills down your spine? Without ruining it for you in the cinema, it reveals that this movie will have some of the best chase sequences of any film ever! The scene in which Batman is driving through the underpasses of Gotham, battling it out with the bazooka-weilding Joker, leading onto the man on man combat in the street and the incredible flip over of the truck... This is one of my favourite moments in film history and all the credit must go to the genius directing of Chris Nolan. I don't even want to hear that there are people out there above the age of 12 who haven't seen this film.

Four Lions (2010)
Unfortunately, I slightly ruined the funniest scene in this film for myself by watching the clip over and over before even watching the official trailer. This advert, on the other hand, does not show you whole scenes, but rather select clips which show you the brilliant Chris Morris style which is imprinted on this comedy. The music, the characters and the events in this trailer all prove to you how warm-hearted, funny and sweet this unique comedy is. Chris Morris is risking great things here, tackling such serious subject matter as suicide bombings in a comedy, but it pays off. He is not trivialising the act, nor is he posing the conspirators as outright villains. Some are misguided and mean well, some are unbelievably dim, and only one is genuinely dislikable. Here are presented a bunch of normal blokes, doing something incredibly wrong, but without being judged by the film maker.

Watching this advert, the concept alone, so different from anything else and a concept which could never have been realised in the United States, the home of cinema, makes the viewer feel a need to see the film to see just how Chris Morris is going to achieve this unusual goal.

If you want to see the clip that nearly made me wet myself and convinced me, more than anything else I read or saw of this film, that it had to be seen, here you go:

I Love You Philip Morris
I think this trailer might have convinced me I HAD to watch the film more than any other trailer ever.  That's not to say that I wanted to see this more than I wanted to see the first "Lord of the Rings" film or "the Dark Knight", but certain films you always no you're going to see. This advert came out of nowhere and made my eyes and my mouth silently scream "fudge yeah!"

I'm not sure if this is exactly the  trailer I saw, but you get the gist. It looked so colourful and fun and like no other film you've ever seen: it seemed the strangest concept for a film ever and yet it's based on a real bloke (you have to read about Steven Russell, he's such a genius, though he used his intellect to deceive others and enrich himself). I think the trailer actually entertained me even more than the film, it's so well cut, giving you the biggest shock when you see Steven's conversion and making you feel a great need to see exactly what happens to this odd character. That said, this is a genuinely sweet and moving film, very funny and very entertaining. I warn you though, the true story seems a little less endearing when told from Philip Morris' standpoint.
The Social Network
Here we have another example of well placed music, in this case Radiohead's "Creep", but a chilling choral cover.


Of course, the fact that we are introduced with the all-too-familar but extremely well-loved Facebook automatically will hook almost any of our generation. On top of this, the creepy, almost sinister rendition of Radiohead's already slightly creepy and sinister "Creep" playing on top of the various Facebook gimmicks such as "like", "comment", suggests, I feel, something sinister, intrusive and anti-private about Facebook, which I'm is an idea we have all come across. Glimpses of Mark Zuckerberg and the motives behind Facebook - I want to create something exclusive and popular! - and into the lives of the Harvard students who started it all, parties, drinking, this gives us a glimpse into the personality of Facebook which the film could reveal, which ironically enough, may have been face-less for many of us until then. You see, just in this 2 and a half minute trailer that Facebook is this massive, complex, money making machine, not just your way to let your friends no what you've been up to.

Looking at the trailers I have selected here - and I assure you, many more could go on this list, - I deduce that the main qualities in an advert which can drive me to the cinema are: memorable lines, an unusual concept and, perhaps most importantly, a good song to back it.

Film News

Oh.My.God., I have some exciting news! Are you ready? They're making a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (ninja, not hero for any of the misinformed fans out there) reboot, said to be linked to director Jonathan Liebesman ("Wrath of the Titans", "Battle Los Angeles). See this Guardian article for more details.

In further exciting reboot news, Gael Garcia Bernal is to star in 20th Century Fox's new Zorro franchise, "Zorro Reborn", not set in the past but in a post-apocalyptic future.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Shipping the News

Firstly, I would like to request any recommendations for 2011 films which I have not mentioned on here or seen, that you think were up there with the best and that I should definitely check out. I watched "Drive" for the first time this week and I am aware that there are many more I need to look out for. Of course, all film recommendations from any year are always welcome. Let me know your favourites!

Because I didn't supply you with any film news in my last blog, in this post I am exclusively going to look at film news, including some trailers for upcoming films which have caught my eye:

"Rampart" Out 24th February
Woody Harrelson is being interview in just about every film magazine at the moment and it's because of this film. The trailer looks fantastic: attention-grabbing, intense, dark, gritty. It's the tale of a corrupt, aggressive LA cop, who believes that his violent suppression of criminals is the best way and probably thinks political correctness has gone mad. It had a brilliant cast, not just the superb Harrelson, but also Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche, and Ben Foster who lots of young women rave about but who I'm not that bothered about yet. Maybe this will turn me!

"Micahel" Out 2nd March
The trailer for this leaves you with so many questions, I'd recommend you watch it first to see what you think of it before you read a synopsis. It is the directorial debut for Markus Schleinzer. It will probably be incredibly chilling and hard to watch, but it is a very powerful trailer:

"Casa de mi Padre" Out 16th March
This film caught my attention for several obvious reasons. Firstly, it is a comedy starring Will Ferrell, who I love. He's often incredibly endearing and always hilarious, in films like "Zoolander" and "Anchorman", but also "Elf". Secondly, it also stars Gael Garcia Bernal, one of the most beautiful actors around and thirdly, the film is in Spanish, even Ferrell is speaking in Spanish! The trailer looks very amusing, check it out:

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" Out 2nd August
There are several films coming out this year about ol' Abe Lincoln, and though this isn't the one I'm most excited about, I do like a good vampire romp and the trailer looks fun. Benjamin Walker, with whom I am unfamiliar, plays Lincoln, and it also stars Rufus Sewell, one of my favourites, Alan Tudyk, with whom the world must be in love, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, aka Ramona Flowers, and more.

"Premium Rush" Out 28th September
Here's the one, the film we have been waiting for! One of the many Joseph Gordon-Levitt films coming out this year. In this one JGL stars as Wilee, a Manhattan bike messenger trying to escape from a dirty cop. It looks like pretty fast-paced action. Do I need to say any more than the three letters "JGL" to get you interested? Watch the trailer, here, now!!

The new Beauty
In non-trailer news, Guillermo del Toro is to direct a live action version of "Beauty and the Beast" (even after the amazing success of "Beastly"? - Yes, that is sarcasm), which will star Emma Watson as Belle.
I do love a good "Beauty and the Beast" adaptation, being a massive fan of the Disney version, and del Toro is yet to do me wrong, so lets see if Emma can tone down the eyebrow-acting to bring a faithful performance to the franchise. She certainly has the face, but does she have the talent to be a lead?

Furthermore, Peter Jackson is to direct a second "Tintin" film, according to Steven Spielberg. The pair are planning a trilogy. Production is to start on this sequel after Jackson is finished making "The Hobbit", which I think we can all agree needs to take top priority.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

An Unusual Mind

Before I say anything else, I have to make a retraction on this blog (how serious, ay?). I believe a few posts a go, when discussing David Cronenberg's films, I stated that he had made 2004's "Crash", the one about racism and a car crash, but I have since realised that his film named "Crash" was the 1996 version with James Spader and Holly Hunter about car crashes and sexuality. I do apologise.

So, I was pretty off with my predictions for the BAFTAs. Basically, all of them seem to have gone to "The Artist" (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor,...), which I haven't seen, so my judgement was obviously not well backed. I cannot believe it won Best Original Screenplay, as was said when the award was received, you wouldn't think a silent film requires one, but logically it must do. I did predict that "The Artist" might win Best Director, but did not realise the amazing success it would be. I guessed right that Meryl would win best actress, and I'm sure she is incredibly deserving of it, from what I've see of her amazing Thatcher imitation, but I think everyone could have predicted that victory. "Shame" won nothing unfortunately, though Fassbender turned up, looking handsome as ever. The ONE candidate for the Orange Rising Star Award that I'm not really familiar with won, so obviously this was not my year for being in with the best films. I do genuinely believe that, despite having only seen "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" on the Best Film list, I have seen some amazing films this year, worthy of some significant recognition, such as "Shame", "Submarine", "Troll Hunter" and many more I'm sure.

I am very excited, however, to see Stephen Fry back behind the wheel, presenting the BAFTAs as he was born to do. He is the reason it surpasses all other award shows, with his wit and humour, making several hours of sitting still and watch other people win awards, a jolly good romp. He is quintessentially British and so the perfect candidate to present the biggest British film awards of the year.

I missed my weekend-ly visit to the cinema this week because of party arrangements for my flatmates birthday - it was a smashing do I can tell you. I was hoping to go and see "Chronicle" on Saturday, but there is still time and I have managed to catch up on an important one this Monday evening, that is "A Dangerous Method"...

We had a scary moment when going to see this at the Showcase, when we noticed that written outside the cinema with all the film titles was "Dangerous Minds", but NOT "A Dangerous Method". When we went inside the board said "Dangerous" and that was all. As you can guess, everyone thought I had read the title wrong on the website. But then I have never heard of "Dangerous Minds" and was hoping the cinema had got it wrong. I am still not sure if the latter is the case, but what we ended up seeing was definitely "A Dangerous Method" and we sighed with relief when this title came up at the beginning of the credits. 

This is the story of Freud (Mortensen) and Jung's (Fassbender) relationship and how it went from friendship to rivalry, and the sexual relationship between Jung and one of his patients (Knightley). I approve very much of the casting for this film. As you know I am a big Fassbender fan, but I also love Keira Knightley and, well, who doesn't love Aragorn? All three performed their parts very well. Knightley's was probably the most challenging, having to play a mentally disturbed young woman with all sorts of ticks and outbursts. Mortensen impressed me greatly, though it's harder to pin down why. His performance was very subtle, but I believe it is that he seems to have adopted a completely new person - this may largely be down to the new nose he seems to have been given for the part. The scenery is also perfectly chosen, swapping between two beautiful settings, Switzerland and Vienna. Cronenberg makes the most of the natural beauty as well as of the gorgeous architecture of early 20th century Europe.

It is very interesting subject matter and shows you into some of the most important foundations for modern psychology. Cronenberg gives us a good, detailed contrast between the theories of Freud and Jung, he does not sacrifice the science and psychology for sex, which actually is not as prominent or superfluous in the film as the hype might have you believe. Sex is merely used to show us the issues which surround Sabine's (Knightley) madness. The film, however, has to span over about 15 years I believe, so one can be transformed, just by a cut from scene to scene, several years forward, which can make the film feel a bit rushed, though at the same time, the lengthy period covered makes the film appear longer than it is. It is by no means dull, but perhaps the pacing is a bit off.

I also caught up on "Drive" this Monday afternoon, another in the category of Best Film for the BAFTAs. Again, I wasn't too anxious to see this in the cinema, but what a fantastic film, I must admit. At the end I was completely drawn in, hooked, and I don't know if it's the fantastic final scene or the music, but something clicked in me as the film reached the end.

This is the story of a professional stuntman, with a skill for driving, who earns money on the side as a get away driver and falls in love with a married mother, dragging himself into robbery, murder and mob revenge. First of all I have to rave about the music, because it was superb. It is subtle and understated, like much of the film, especially Gosling's performance, but it is powerful. Often there is just a continuous, simple beat, whose pace changes with the pace of the film. This beat caught me straight away, it is dull and thudding, intense and immediate like the film, and it seemed to me almost as if the film had a pulse. Perhaps the pulse of the Driver (Gosling).The pace of the beat sets the mood of the scene perfectly. The sound track, like much of the film, is very 80s. The pop songs used remind very much of that era, they are often quiet and beautiful, frequently juxtaposed against a heavily violent scene. This creates an eerie atmosphere and emphasises the subtlety in the Driver's actions and manner.

The lighting is also beautifully crafted. Most of the scene is set in relative darkness, often with dull, orange-y, fiery lighting, giving the impression that the sun is setting. It is very much an evening based film. The Driver's face, and those of other characters, especially Irene (Carey Mulligan), is therefore usually in relative shadow, and it casts a still feeling on the film, reflecting his still personality. It also reflects the shadows over the Driver's identity. Where did he come from? What is his name? What is he really feeling under that frequently emotionless facade? The dull lighting also allows for many moments of highlighting just the Driver's intense eyes as he speeds through the night. All of Gosling's acting is done through subtle changes in his eyes and mouth. He has beautifully expressive eyes I have noticed.

Ryan Gosling is of course one of the big names of 2011, starring in "Drive", but also "Crazy, Stupid Love" and "The Ides of March", he's one to watch it would seem. As I have said, the acting all comes from his eyes and mouth. His character is very quiet, he barely speaks unless it is absolutely necessary, preferring to use slight nods or head-shakes, barely noticeable, to respond when he can. Watching the BAFTAs, I heard Gosling describe his character as half man, half machine, and when he meets Irene, the machine half is drawn the more out of him, leading to some incredibly violent scenes in the second half. Mulligan also masters this subtlety, managing to show the great emotion and turmoil her character is going through, without making much noise.

The film is very stylised. The credits appear very 80s, like the music, in the odd, hand-written font, and the bright pink colouring, as if you're watching a Brat Pack film. Everything, the music, the settings, the lighting, to the font of the credits at the beginning and end, is chosen to exact detail.

It is an incredibly moving film, though I don't think you realise you are being moved straight away. The Driver's relationship with Irene and her son is incredibly complex. He appears to show no emotion, but is clearly very protective of the boy, he puts his life on the line to protect them, and he is incredibly loyal to his boss, Shannon, played by the wonderful and lovely Bryan Cranston, aka Hal from "Malcolm in the Middle". Despite the horrific acts of brutality which the Driver deals out, despite his apparent lack of emotion, there is something incredibly beautiful about this man. Though he barely ever gets excited or raises his voice during all of the terrifying events, when the ones he loves are hurt, he shows true anger. This film must be watched, if for no other reason than the terrifying penultimate scene on the beach at night.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Too Many Dicks on the Red Carpet: My evaluations and predictions for 2012's BAFTA nominees

The winner!
Well the poll on which of the"Avengers" prequels (well, not prequels, the films that led up to it) was the best has a clear winner: "Iron Man", with 80% of the vote. "Captain America" got 20% and "Thor" got 10%. Yeah, that doesn't add up, but it can only do it in 10s. I pretty much agree with the winner, though I believe "Thor" deserves more votes.  I'm very glad no one dared to vote for "The Incredible Hulk", you would have been shunned.

Ok, so this title isn't so much a film reference as the title of a song, but I think this can be overlooked as it perfectly demonstrates the topic of this post, aka, the complete absence of female nominees for the Orange Rising Star Award at the BAFTAs this year. They are showing this Sunday 11th February. Don't get me wrong, I love the BAFTAs, I adore the BAFTAs, I have been a devoted fan since my early years when I would sit and watch it with my mother and sister and laugh along to Stephen Fry's jokes, his quips, his witty comments on the films and the nominees. I have had less chance to watch it since coming to TV and living in houses that lack TVs, but this is not such a loss as Jonathan Ross can't hold a candle to Stephen Fry as host and as I always catch up on the winners online. This year however, I am going to try my darnedest to watch the awards live.

That said, this years nominees for the above mentioned award (Adam Deacon, Chris Hemmsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Chris O'Dowd and Eddie Redmayne), though I am a fan of all of them (except Adam Deacon, don't even really know who he is), I do resent the lack of female representation. There have been some fantastic female new comers in the past few years of film and I think they require acknowledgement, therefore I am going to do my own TFOO Rising Star Award and choose my own, female only short-list.

And the nominees are...

Emma Stone

Why she should have been nominated:
Easy A (2010)
Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

Three words to describe Emma: funny, natural, charm.

Felicity Jones

Why she should have been nominated:
Cemetery Junction (2010)
Like Crazy (2011)

Three words to describe Felicity: vulnerability, intuitive, graceful.


 Jennifer Lawrence 

Why she should have been nominated:
Winter's Bone (2010)

 X-Men: First Class (2011)
Like Crazy (2011)

Three words to describe Jennifer: strength, charisma, elegance.

Mia Wasikowska

Why she should have been nominated:
The Kids are Alright (2010)

Jane Eyre (2011)

Three words to describe Mia: adaptable, natural, intelligent. 

Rooney Mara 

Why she should have been nominated:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Three words to describe Rooney: brave, memorable, unique.

This lack of female nominees is not by any means a constant characteristic of the Rising Star Award. In 2007 Eva Green won and in 2010 Kristen Stewart (I will withhold negative comments) and, to be fair, Emma Stone was one of last year's nominees (though Tom Hardy won). But I think, considering the female talent that is "rising" right now, at least one of my nominees, or some other female actress, should have been included on this year's list.

I've discovered that in 2009 Michael Fassbender lost the award to Noel Clarke. What an atrocity!

This of course is not the only or by any means the most important award of the evening. Here are a list of the awards - and their nominees - which I am most eager to see the winners of:

"Leading Actor"
Brad Pitt (Billy Beane) – Moneyball
Gary Oldman (George Smiley) - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
George Clooney (Matt King) – The Descendants
Jean Dujardin (George Valentin) – The Artist
Michael Fassbender (Brandon) – Shame

Oh I do hope Fassbender wins, surprisingly enough. I'm not sure who I think will win, this is quite a heavy list. Everyone is saying this is the best performance of Clooney's career, and he certainly would be a more high-profile choice than Fassbender. They quite often give it to someone who's been nominated before, one of those "it's about time they got one" scenarios... I haven't seen "The Artist", but I doubt Dujardin will win. Gary Oldman will certainly give the others a run for their money and Brad Pitt can't be dismissed. To hazard a guess, I will say Clooney, but who knows, this is Fassbender's year...

"Leading Actress"
Bérénice Bejo (Peppy Miller) – The Artist
Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher) – The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe) – My Week with Marilyn
Tilda Swinton (Eva) – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Viola Davis (Aibileen Clark) – The Help

I don't think anyone expects this to go to anyone other than Meryl Streep, though critics do rave about Davis' performance in "The Help". You can quite often guarantee awards if you play convincingly a famous public figure, which gives Streep the edge, but also Williams. I am going to go for Meryl Streep! (That said, Tilda Swinton is constantly nominated and a strong contender also.)

"Outstanding British Film" (a category in which I am very interested) are:
My Week with Marilyn
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We Need to Talk About Kevin
I didn't see "We Need to Talk About Kevin" or "Senna", but the former has had a lot of positive response and has definitely been one of the most talked of British films this year. I think "Shame" was a much stronger film than "My Week With Marilyn" (I would happily see Michelle Williams get Best Actress, but I think Best British Film is pushing it) and a touch better than "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", though the latter was superb, with some amazing performances. I shall go for "Shame" out of hope, but I imagine "We Need to Talk About Kevin" may just beat it and both that and "TTSS" made it into the Best Film category, which "Shame" didn't, so logically it shouldn't be able to beat them.

"Best Director"
The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius
Drive - Nicolas Winding Refn
Hugo - Martin Scorsese
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Tomas Alfredson
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lynne Ramsay 

Hmm... This is tougher to judge than the previous categories. I have only seen "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", so really my opinion is moot, but purely from the talk I have heard about the other four, I would guess either "The Artist" - which has the advantage of being in black and white and the first silent feature film made in years - or "TTSS". I don't believe an American children's film like "Hugo", despite its fantastic reviews, will win, but I haven't seen it so your guess is as good as mine. 

Of course, the category everyone is talking about is "Best Film", for which are nominated:
The Artist
The Descendents
The Help
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I doubt "the Help" will win, I think this film was more about performance and I didn't see any 5 star reviews in proper film magazines or newspapers, the Guardian etc. "Drive" came 1st in Empire's best films of the year, but the BAFTAs are different. I haven't seen it, so I can't really judge what kind of film it is. It may well win. I don't know anyone who's seen "the Artist", it must have a very niche audience, that said it highly praised by all critics I've read. All I've heard of "The Descendents" is Clooney's brilliant performance, so I shall eliminate this film... I suppose that leaves me with "TTSS". I believe either this or "Drive" will win.

Film News: Our favourite Joseph Gordon-Levitt is set to direct his debut film, an as of yet untitled romantic comedy, which will star himself and Scarlett Johannson. A Guardian article on this subject described it as "reportedly the tale of a lothario and "his journey to become less of a selfish dick"." - There's a JGL quote within a Guardian quote for you. Gordon Levitt already runs a webiste "hitRECord" on which he encourages burgeoning artists of all forms, film makers, musicians, artists, photographers, to collaborate and make art together. He submitted a film they'd made at Sundance and has produced a book, filled with collected works, called "Recollection".

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The good, the bad and the downright rubbish!

I don't think I've yet mentioned, at least I may have in passing but not properly, my deep and most affectionate love for the actress Helena Bonham Carter, not only an incredibly talented actress but also one of the most beautiful, coolest women to ever grace our screens.

She has been on the top of my girl-crush list and one of my favourite actresses since I don't know when, possibly recently joined at the top by the wonderful Emma Stone.I'm trying to think where I first fell in love with Helena... It must be somewhere amongst all the period dramas, all of Merchant Ivory's E. M. Forster adaptations, and her deliciously gothic appearances in Tim Burton's films of the past 10 years or so. Many people complain that Burton keeps making the same film, the same dark, surreal settings, the same cast (Depp and Carter), etc. But, to be honest, until that style isn't cool and unique to Tim, I won't complain. And if you actually consider Helena's entire portfolio, she has portrayed a wide variety of characters, emotions and situations.

She started out playing young, beautiful innocents in Merchant Ivory films such as "A Room With A View" and "Howard's End" and basically starred in multiple other period dramas, "The Wings of the Dove", Twelfth Night etc. She played these parts superbly and convincingly, but one may argue that such parts offer little variation. Then, however, she branched out, playing the morbid - and definitely not old-fashioned - smoke-aholic Marla Singer in David Fincher's classic "Fight Club". Yes, she has been in basically every Tim Burton film since "The Planet of the Apes" in 2001, but is an ape woman really the same as the mother of an impoverished family or a widow who bakes human pie? And don't forget other fantastic, critically acclaimed turns such as the Queen Mother in "The King's Speech", which won her the BAFTA for best supporting actress or the fact that Bonham Carter was recently awarded a OBE at the end of last year.

Bellatrix LeStrange
What made me head-over-heels for Helena must have been her interpretation of Bellatrix LeStrange in the Harry Potter films. My least favourite character in the books, because she kills the oh-so-wonderful Sirius Black, she is one of my most beloved in the films because her style and clothing are so dark and  full of personality, because she is sex on legs and because her portrayal of a mad, Voldemort-obsessed death eater is so flawless! Bellatrix must be the reason why my admiration for a great actress turned to obsession.

Marc Jacobs
Also, Bonham Carter is just intrinsically cool. She wears fantastic outfits, with a style completely incomparable to any other actress. She is the mother of the children of my favourite director and has starred in many of his films and so, many of my favourites. She has modeled for Marc Jacobs, my favourite designer! Though his clothes are bright and vibrant,  they match her quirky, other-wordly nature perfectly. I don't know that it's so much I want to marry her as I want to be her and I think you can see why....

Speaking of women I love a little too much, there have been some new images released for "The Amazing Spider-Man", including this lovely one of Emma Stone...

AND!!! There is a new "Amazing Spider-Man" trailer. Go to the website to check it out. Now, now, now!!

And speaking of period dramas, I have discovered this brilliant idea for an article: handsome men in period dramas!
Stylist: Handsome men
It's everything you could want in life, aka... handsome men and period dramas! I vote either Firth-Darcy, Fassbender-Rochester or Hardy-Heathcliffe. What about you?

I'm always going on about films I like - naturally -, but I'm never very critical. I never warn you of the rubbish that's to be avoided, I never pick at the flaws of the films I enjoy, so today, I shall do the polar opposite! The Top 5 Worst Films I've Ever Seen:

 Scary Movie
This film is to blame for not only all the subsequent "Scary Movie" sequels, but also all the "- Movie"s which followed: "Date Movie", "Epic Movie", dare I mention "Meet the Spartans"? Luckily for myself, my brain and my stomach I have only sat through "Scary Movie" 1, because, as a rational person, I knew I was not likely to enjoy the sequels to such a dud. This film is dull, it is awfully written, awfully acted, and it resorts to incredibly crude jokes to hide the fact that it's not funny: "The more extreme we are, the more likely someone will laugh!" Are the Wayans brothers responsible for all that is wrong with contemporary cinema? Maybe...

Little Nicky/The Waterboy
Having said what I said about the Wayans brothers, I must give Adam Sandler some credit for the awful cinema inflicted upon us. These are the two worst Sandler films I have seen, but I am sure there are many I haven't seen or don't remember that are worthy of this list. Again, poorly written and poorly acted, these films are also slightly offensive. Sandler plays basically the same character twice. In "Little Nicky" he is the devil's son and must save his father's life - or some rubbish like that - and in "The Waterboy" he is, well, a waterboy, a true underdog who fights his way onto the team. Both films are horrifically bad and both these characters play on a slow voice and a dim intellect for laughs. They play to the lowest common denominator. Is it endearing Adam? No, it's not. If you've seen "Tropic Thunder" (love it!) and have watched Stiller's satiric advert for "Simple Jack", you will see exactly what Sandler is doing in these films:

The Cat in the Hat
I don't even remember exactly why this film was so bad (it came out in 2003), but I remember that it was one of the most tedious cinema trips of my life! To be honest, is Mike Myers really that great? Does he really add much to "Shrek" that any other actor couldn't do easily? Are the "Austin Powers" films (except 3, which I do enjoy) really that good? Myers, Sandler and Eddie Murphey all have careers I cannot explain! This film wasn't even a good children's film, it was dull and pointless, unlike "The Grinch", a brilliant, fun, sweet Zeuss adaptation definitely worth a watch around Christmas!

Van Wilder: Party Liaison 
This film works similarly to the "Scary Movie" franchise in that it goes as gross as possible and throws in some boobs to try to appeal to teenagers. I love Ryan Reynolds, I really do, and I do love American college films, but this did not entertain me and at times forced me to avert my eyes. Bestiality is not funny people!

Anything with Eddie Murphey
I couldn't think of another specific film worthy of being up here with these horrors, so I thought we should give a shout out to Eddie, who never fails to create some shockers. Anything in which he plays more than one character (I'm also looking at you, Martin Laurence, and you, Adam Sandler) is bound to be a less-than-one star film. 

None of these films deserve an accompanying image! I don't want to soil my blog.

I'm sorry if this bout of negativity has lowered the mood of my blog. I much prefer talking about films I love and most films you can definitely find something good in. I shall return to my favourites in the next post for sure!

Film News: There's a new "Hunger Games" trailer out, check it out, this film should be big! And check out my previous post on "The Hunger Games" for a look at the book and its story: "The Hunger Games - A Briefing". Plus, the Super Bowl is on at the moment which means lots of mini film trailers are being aired. Here's a Guardian article with some clips, including for "the Avengers". Plus here's a link to "The Avengers" extended super bowl ad.
Best quote from the advert: Loki "I have an army." Tony Stark: "We have a Hulk."
This shit gonna be good!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

That's What __ Said!

This weekend I finally got the chance to go to see the illusive "The Grey", seemingly not showing anywhere in Bristol, despite its fantastic reviews and its general appeal as a survival, action film. I didn't really know what to expect or if I would like it, because I was warned by Jim - film buddy - not to watch the trailer, as he'd read that it showed parts of the film best seen for the first time when watching the entire thing. So all I knew was Liam Neeson was some sort of wolf expert, whose plane crashed in a snowy, forest covered, mountainous region, and he and his fellow survivors had to battle against the elements and a pack of ravenous wolves to make it through to some sort of survival destination. Having watched the film, I can now tell you that Neeson plays "Ottoway", a man working with an oil drilling team in Alaska, hired to keep guard with a rifle for wolves that threaten the safety of his team. From Ottoway's voice over, which involves him reading out a letter he is writing to his wife who we learn has left him, we can see that he is incredibly unhappy. Ottoway and many of the oil drillers embark on a flight back home but the plane, of course, never reaches its destination.

This film is so many brilliant things. It was far better, far more complex, far more emotive and terrifying and 3-dimensional than anything I was expecting. I was basically expecting "Taken" 3 ("Taken" 2 of course being Neeson's "Unknown"). But this is no mere action film. What this film achieves, that which makes it such a brilliant piece of art, is to draw you in to what the men are experiencing. You are scared when they are, you are sad when they are, when they are exhausted, you feel it. You become part of their survivors' circle. At times, it is terrifying. There are so many fantastically suspense-filled and genuinely frightening scenes, the plane crash, the encounters with the wolves, I can't name too many because I would not wish to spoil the surprise, but many scenes in the wilderness which don't involve the wolves will have you on the edge of your seat (for the final scene I was literally sat on the edge of my seat and for much of it I had at least one tear in my eye).

At times it is heat-breaking, as the men tell their stories, talk of the ones they love at home, as you see the many who have died in the crash and realise that not all of them will make it to the end. But what really made my heart wrench were the scenes in which, remembering or dreaming, Ottoway looks back to his wife, and we see that the only reason he is holding it together and acting brave, is for the sake of the other men who have no chance without his expertise. I will not tell you when or why, but at one point I was silently sobbing (thank goodness for the darkness of a cinema in which you can totally pretend you're not even bothered).

There are some fantastic stunts in this film and the scenery and the cinematography are at times stunning. Of course, the film-makers have chosen a fantastically imposing setting - the snow capped mountains of North America, which can't hurt the job of the cinematographers. At one point, one of the survivor's points to the river and the mountains in the background and says "look at this, now all of this is mine," considering its great beauty, laid out before him. The music is clever because there is very little of it and the sound team have relied on the elements, the heavy snows, the blizzards, the winds, and the sounds of the forests and the wolves, the howls and the screams, as a backing track to the plot and it perfectly first the atmosphere. External music can often detach you from what is going on within the film, it reminds you that it isn't real.

This is by no means a perfect film. I will try to add some criticism. Certain aspects of the plot are slightly loose. I'm not sure I believe just how much knowledge and expertise Ottoway has on wolves. At one point the men hear howling and a fight and he explains that there's been a fight with the alpha male and he has won. I find it hard to believe he can know that by listening to howls. He seems to know exactly how to react to all emergency situations, who needs what care, where to best hide, etc. Though he does often say that it is merely a best guess, not a certainty, and I believe he is responding how he knows best, acknowledging that someone needs to take charge and act like they know what they're doing. There are other parts of the plot which also slightly bothered me on reflection, but nothing which will really nag at you throughout. I would definitely recommend this to people who like adventure, horror, action, suspense, but also to people who enjoy watching films about people. It is not, however, for everyone. A large group of chatty girls, who I only just believe were 15+, came in and sat at the back and then left about half way through, not to my surprise. I highly doubted when they arrived that this was the sort of film they would enjoy. That said, I give this film 4/5 at least! A very pleasant surprise!

I also watched the third and final of the "American Pie" trilogy this weekend (I don't include "Band Camp" or any of the other spin offs and loosely based ons...). I watched the 1st this summer and it wasn't as awful as I expected, but I have geuinely enjoyed 2 and 3. No, they're not particularly amazing film, but they have their moments, mainly Stiffler moments. Sean William Scott can usually brighten up a crappy film with a good comic performance. There's a good amount of heart and sweet characters too, to keep you going until the end, though I would say that most of Jason Bigg's friends are pretty pointless. If you enjoy films like "Road Trip", "Euro Trip", "Dude Where's My Car", etc., then I don't see any reason why you should hate these three. I am actually really looking forward to "American Pie: The Reunion", the sequel set 10 years on with all of the original cast. As the trailer says "It's seem like everyone's actually going". The trailer is pretty funny really: 

I have also been watching a lot of Arrested Development this week and wanted to note down some of the best quotes and best running gags from series 1 to get us all excited about the new series and film. There is actually a film called "That's What She Said" with Alia Shawkat, aka Maeby Fünke, so this title is particularly appropriate.

The Bluth family

Georg Sr.
"Daddy horny, Michael."

Michael: "I Haven't met anyone in a while who wasn't completely self-absorbed and impossible to have a conversation with."
Lucille: "If that was a veiled criticism about me I won't hear it and I won't respond to it."

Lucille: "Oh please, they didn't sneak into this country to be your friends."

Lucille (about Tobias): "A never nude? I thought he just liked cut-offs."

"I've made a huge mistake." - A recurring classic.

"Hey, if I can't find a horny immigrant in three days, I don't deserve to stay here."

Kitty: "GOB, I wish I'd known you were coming. I look a mess." GOB: "I don't know if a call from me would have changed that."

Lindsay: "It'd give dad one more excuse to think I have nothing to offer but my looks."
GOB: "Yeah, I've got some of that. Except he also didn't like my looks."

G.O.B.: "These are just strippers. Look how hot they are!"

Georg Michael
Michael: "GOB reckons he saw you down at the docks today. Was that you?"
GM: "No. Maybe it was the other Georg Michael, you know, the singer song-writer." 

Wayne Jarvis (in his typical, very serious tone): "Why should I be billing you for small talk when I'm enjoying it as much as you are?"

J. WalterWeatherman: "And that's why you don't teach your son a lesson."

Seriously, I can't begin to list all of the genius things they come up with, let alone the physical comedy and the intonations of what they say. If you haven't seen it yet, I envy you, because you still get to experience it for the first time, but seriously, get on it!!!

G.O.B. and Franklyn, my favourite pairing
Plus, you need to get all the way through to series 3 if you want to experience the hilarious, unique, newest member of the Bluth family, Franklyn Delano Bluth!!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Shame Fassbender!

My last poll on Heath Ledger vs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a 50/50 split! In conclusion: They're both AMAZING!

How many posts is this now which have Fassbender at the center? I know, I have a problem and many people are probably sick of it, but seriously, you have to check out the film I am about to mention...

I watched "Fish Tank" last night. What a film! I've been meaning to watch it for ages now. It won so many prizes, the Jury Prize at Cannes 2009, the Bafta for Best British Film, and people keep recommending it to me. Then again, you know, it's one of those films where you think about watching it and are like "I'm not in the mood to be depressed" or can find no one in such a mood to watch it with you. But it definitely paid off and I genuinely believe I can call it one of my favourite films now.

"Fish Tank" is about a teenage girl, Mia (Katie Jarvis), who lives in an East London council estate, whose father is absent for an unmentioned reason, whose mother (Kierston Wareing) is frequently drunk,who spends much of her time alone, drinking, seeming to have isolated herself from her only friends. She swears heavily and in one of the earliest scenes nuts a girl in the face! But Mia also is an aspiring, talented hip-hop dancer, who sneaks away to a deserted council flat to practice her moves, who (literally) tries to free a starving horse from its chains, who clearly just wants someone to say a few nice words to her. I believe this is the main message of the film. Mia's mother, Joanne, is clearly very unhappy, she pushes around her two daughters and is foul-mouthed in front of even her youngest (who must be about 10). In turn, the two girls are aggressive and adopt bad language naturally. Then Connor (Michael Fassbeder) appears, the mother's new boyfriend, he's handsome, charming, friendly and good with the girls. Joanne is happier and so kinder to her daughters and in turn the youngest, Tyler, begins to behave more like a happy teenage girl and even Mia at times is sociable. Unhappy people find it difficult to be affectionate or sympathetic, but they are often unhappy because they have no one treating them humanely.

Things are not so simple with Connor however, and this is another clever trick of the film. Though he is amiable and generous, especially towards Mia, there are clear signs throughout that his treatment of the 15-year-old is not as innocent as it should be. The director (and writer), Andrea Arnold, seems to want us to judge Connor's behaviour, but then never makes it easy for us to do so. Is he all bad? Are things really so black and white. People definitely aren't and Arnold understands this and this is what she wants to show us. We see a better side of Mia's mother and sister when they are treated with affection, we see that our initial judgements of the family are unfair. Maybe judging Connor is not so straightforward either.

The film is brilliantly shot. Camera angles frequently change to show you events from a new and interesting perspective. In one scene, Mia films Connor changing his shirt and dolling himself up: we go from a head-high shot of Mia with the camera to a shot from below, as Mia lies down, from between her arms, almost from the cameras perspective as we watch Connor. We are seeing what she sees and how SHE perceives this new man in her life. The lighting is also meticulously chosen. A friend I was watching it with pointed this out specifically in a scene in which Mia dances for Connor. It is dark outside, the lights are off in the house, all we have is the streetlight from outside creating a shadow in the room. We watch the silhouette of Mia, the dark, expressionless form, clearly depicting the tension and inappropriate sexuality of the scene.

All the performances are flawless. Kate Jarvis, who plays Mia, must have been about 18 when she filmed this, very young and depicting flawlessly someone even younger. At no point in the film do you doubt her authenticity as she conveys anger; frustration; hope; suffocation - in this fish tank she lives in - as she knows there's something bigger out there for her; desire for a much older man. This is not an easy task for a first time actress, spotted by a casting agent while arguing with her boyfriend at a train station, and no one can doubt the beauty of this performance. Fassbender has a challenging role, making himself likeable while also incredibly suspicious. You know really that his intentions are not pure, but he seems to bring happiness to an unhappy family. He plays perfectly in that field of grey which we cannot judge. Kierston Wareing is always brilliant, I first saw her in Martina Cole's "The Take", as the beautiful but disturbed and deeply depressed Jackie. Though not one of the two main roles in "Fish Tank", she conveys depression and despair, in some cases happiness and hope, more naturally than many other actresses with her looks. There is also a brilliant performance from the young Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths).

If I have not convinced you yet with this length appraisal, I don't know what will. OK, one more thing: I know I shouldn't be noticing this in this particular film, but 32 year old Michael Fassbender is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. His first appearance, in the kitchen wearing only jeans, shows off his... lets say impressive body. While watching it I invented a new - well, new is a strong word - to describe the effect this actor has on women: He leaves you "Fassbendered". That plus his star performance should get any Fassbender fan interested. By the way, do we fans have a name? Can we be Fanbenders? Or does that just sound wrong?

Film news:
Having created a Twitter account I'm getting all the good film news! And I read this little treat yesterday. Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska are to star in Richard Ayoade's next directorial venture, "The Double", based on Dostoyevsky's novella of the same name. It is the story of a man whose life is shaken greatly by the appearance of his doppleganger.A story of great loneliness. The film is to start shooting this summer and I already can't wait for its release.

On other news, for comic book and comic book film fans, there are to be prequel graphic novels written to Alan Moore's "Watchmen". A series of books focusing on individual characters, Ozymandius, the Comedian, Nite Owl, also one on the Minutemen and more. It is likely that Alan Moore will not agree with this, I'm not sure how I feel about someone else trying to take over from the genius himself, but I am intrigued to see the stories and I shall secretly hope that more films will be made!

I am going to try to keep up to date within this blog on what films are coming out in the next few weeks (that I think worth mentioning), so that you and I can both make sure we're on top of the important dates!

February 3rd
Martha Macy May Marlene 
(I have always, not so secretly, bee a massive Olsen twin fan, so I am curious to see this new, third Olsen acting, in a role which has been highly critically acclaimed!)

February 10th
A Dangerous Method
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (3D)
The Woman in Black
(Daniel Radcliffe in a period drama? Hell yeah!)