Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Good Cat Bad Cat



 As with most things, when you take a second look at something, you notice more about it. Of course, I’m talking about films more often than not, so when I re-watch a film I pick up on certain things that I missed the first, second, third, twelfth time I’ve seen it, especially if I only watch the film once a year. Getting through all my Christmas favourites, ‘Batman Returns’ was next on the list and as much as I love this film, watching it now, there were a few things that didn’t sit well with me and others that just baffled me.

‘Batman Returns’ is one of those rare ‘comic book’ films that doesn’t suffer from too many villains. Being a sequel to Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ (yes I am phrasing it like that), there was pressure to have a great new villain to follow the Joker, what better way than with the Penguin. And Catwoman. And Max Shrek. The latter is obviously not one of the ‘big’ villains of the comic but he is a perfect non costumed villain to add into the mix as they are all connected in some way with a similar goal(s). After the Joker and before The Riddler and Poison Ivy, Penguin and Catwoman are great choices and cast to perfection. They each have their own story, their own agenda and never over crowd a scene. As I said, this is rare to have such a villain heavy film actually be any good.

The Penguin and Max Shrek are the true evil do-ers in the story and each get the end they deserve but Catwoman is the ambiguous almost anti-hero who switches from revenge seeker to damaged damsel not in distress. Her story is very clear, she’s the underestimated downtrodden career woman who doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. But throw her out of a window and revive her with cats, she’s a whole new person, right? Catwoman is hinted at having 9 lives, like a cat supposedly does, but beyond that, all her skills she reveals when she’s in her costume. But from re-watching this film with a friend who kept saying ‘she’s crazy’ every time Catwoman did something, got me thinking.

Firstly, Selina Kyle was thrown out of a window of high building, luckily her fall was broken by a canvas shutter and so it didn’t kill her, so if she acts a little ‘crazy’ its understandable. The cats reviving her was just to add to the persona or to help her with a persona. Her somewhat manic behaviour when she keeps questioning herself throughout the rest of the film is because, she was always ‘Catwoman’ and it took a traumatic experience to reveal it. Those crazy skills she gets, back flips, whip moves, she always knew how to do all of this. Catwoman is who Selina really is but she’s not a malicious villain. She really only wants Batman out of the way because she wants to be her own hero. Selina only wants revenge on Shrek which again is understandable, he pushed her out of a window. Her constant mind games with herself aren’t really expanded to make room for Penguin on the campaign trail and driving Batman’s car around the city from his caravan. Its an amusing scene but more Catwoman would have been appreciated. Catwoman’s main crime was destroying Shrek’s store before she teamed up with Penguin to frame Batman. She didn’t want to hurt the Ice Princess and seems genuinely upset by her death, showing that she is not really a true villain.

Selina Kyle/Catwoman literally stands alone against all the male characters and is ‘killed’ by Batman, Penguin and Shrek. She even helps Batman in her way at the end. But her mysterious disappearing act at the end of the film isn’t just about her wanting to be left alone, she doesn’t want attention. I know she’s wearing a tight plastic onesie but that in no way means she wants attention. I think she just likes dressing up.

Michelle Pfeiffer is masterful in the role. She steals a scene by eating a bird and licking her costume and smudging her lipstick all over her chin and walks that line between dramatic and cartoonish, much like the other characters but she does it with a style you can’t take away from her. I do want to mention, at any opportunity, that having Christopher Walken in the film automatically makes this Batman film the best. He plays a terrible character but still makes me full of charisma and even upstages Micheal Keaton. I really want to find a gif of him saying ‘yawn’ at Bruce Wayne as its just brilliant. But this film really belongs to Catwoman and Pfeiffer, no matter how much Batman sits in the dark waiting for the signal to pop up.

Another thought I had was that now the world has seen ‘Joker’ and loved or hated it, I think Catwoman would be an excellent candidate for a character study. I also think Michelle Pfeiffer should play her again. I’d like to see what an older Catwoman is doing right now. Just a thought.


Thursday, 5 December 2019

Returning to the Afternoon Movies


 On the 16th December 2013 I posted about 'The Amazing Mr Blunden' a classic British film from 1972. With itsd  own charm and weirdness about it, it used to be a film that my sister and I used to watch when we were very young. In fact this was one of the films that we had on a list, a list of films we thought no one else had heard of, at least people our age. There are several on there which we discovered to be films that everyone had seen and there still a few that remain unheard of.

The only connection to this festive season is that the opening scenes take place Christmas Eve but from there we are in glorious Spring time. For a brief summary, its all about the ghosts, the mansion and of course the mysterious man himself, Mr Blunden. 

With the release of a very special edition from Second Sight Films who have recently brough us the delightful 'Flight of the Navigator' back into our homes through its own special release, I have reviewed the film, in full, over at Vulturehoud which you can read HERE.

I also wanted to revisit my post from 2013 as I was still in the very early stages of finding my way writing wise and how I had pictured the blog to be. Honestly, its not my best, but its always good to look back and see how far you've come. But also, just for fun, HERE is the post. And if you want a real throwback, HERE it is from before I changed my blog name.




Monday, 2 December 2019

Watch List: September/October/November


This Autumn has been a strange one, what with the job hunting, doing the whole of LFF and then dealing with the come down which happens every year. I see so many films crammed into a few weeks I need a break. However, there are still a few more reviews from that festival I want to post BUT these might have to wait until cinema release dates. Other than festival films, I haven't ventured out to the cinema much. Missed lots of films too. But these are the ones I've seen over the last 3 months outside of festivals.

SEPTEMBER

 After champion swimmer Matthias insults a reporter using a homophobic slur, he is suspended from competing again unless he apologies and coaches the male water polo team for the Gay Olympics. A highly unusual premise and with a host of great characters, this is more than just a feel-good sports film with an LGBTQA+ focus. This is a story about friendship and about supporting your team no matter what. A rather personal story from writer directors Maxime Govare and C├ędric Le Gallo, as the latter, who after he came out joined a water polo team just like in the film and felt a part of a community. Not sure if the team did or will get a wide release or whether it’ll get a DVD release at least. 4/5

Greta
Missed this one at the cinema and so glad I caught this on DVD release. I wrote about it in depth for Halloween which can be read HERE. 3/5

OCTOBER

Joker
I don't want to make you read any more than what I wrote HERE so there it is. 4/5

Shirkers
This was a documentary that had been in my Netflix queue since it was released. The mystery behind the disappearance of the feature film Sandi Tan and her friends made when they were teenagers and the man who had helped them but also disappeared was a mystery that had haunted director Tan. But as the story unfolds, home truths are told as well as how Georges Cardona had behaved with other people who he had ‘helped’. Comprising of a mixture of footage from the original film and interviews conducted decades later. The fact that everyone knows each other quite well, there is no holding back which gives the film and the story overall an extra added layer of truth despite the main mystery never being told, only speculation is left. 3/5

Brittany Runs a Marathon
 I wrote two posts for this, one from the Birds Eye View screening which can be read HERE and one review for Vulturehound. 4/5

The Laundromat
 I was surprised to see Steven Soderbergh ‘s latest suddenly arrive on Netflix and was eager to watch it BUT it comes across as less intellectual ‘The Big Short’ even with the natural charisma from Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas the film lacks a direction and instead feels like several different stories that don’t quite knit together and because of the subject just left me very angry and dissatisfied.  2/5

Apostle
As someone who tries to avoid horror films, I’m usually drawn in if it’s about cults, ghosts or is actually a psychological thriller. As ‘Apostle’ is a period piece set on an island and involves a cult that has kidnapped a wealthy woman and holding her to ransom, I’m going to be intrigued enough to watch it. Finding out that there is something far more disturbing in the barn and that there is a supernatural being, the guardian of the island, who is behind the cult like mannerisms, is horrifying and again, much better than I could have hoped for. A mixture of ‘hell is other people’ and ‘there’s something nasty in the woodshed’ vibe, I was surprised and honestly, scared. 3/5

I Do....Until I Don't
 I love Lake Bell. I loved her first feature BUT I couldn’t get into this story about an arrogant British filmmaker who wants to prove that marriage should be a 7-year contract which is open for renewal from both parties. She essentially wants to prove that marriage is dead. Then there are three couples, who have their own issues but overall love triumphs. The plot is all over the place and soon loses any connection, with everything being neatly tied up at the end and not really making much sense. I’m really hoping that her next film gets a proper release and is more like ‘In a World…’. 2/5

NOVEMBER

Doctor Sleep
 ‘The Shining’ is a film that rightly holds its status as one of the greatest horror films and a story I didn’t think needed a sequel but clearly creator Stephen King thought otherwise by writing about what grown up Danny would be like. Apart from being traumatised by events at The Overlook Hotel, he descends into drink and drugs and violence. His turn around and how he harnesses his ‘gift’ to help others feels genuine and it comes as no surprise that there are other kids just like him and that there is a beyond sinister group of people who hunt them. Rose the Hat is terrifying and is one of the best villains cinema has seen in a long time. Praying on children and torturing them, makes this a horror film but it also plays out like a thriller when Danny meets Abra, a young girl with great power. They work together to try and stop Rose the Hat as well as trying to find where they buried their last victim. With nods to Kubrick’s film, this is no nostalgia trip, but more like a last stand. 4/5

Support the Girls
 Set over one day, Lisa is the manager of one those sexist sports bars where they only hire girls and make them wear skimpy uniforms. I am not a fan of these kind of bars. However, this film not only humanises the staff, not to say that they aren’t but this is a flipside to how the staff work day to day along with all the bs they put up with. This is also another excellent example of Regina Hall just being brilliant. The more films I see with her in, the better. 4/5

Ideal Home
 This had been in my Netflix queue a long time. I had originally wanted to see this in the cinema BUT I don't think it got a proper cinema release which is criminal. Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan are a constantly bickering couple who work on a cooking show, Paul and Erasmus. Paul produces, Erasmus is the host. Their somewhat perfect life but by no means not perfect marriage is thrown a curve ball when Erasmus' grandson arrives and has to stay with them. The premise is not new but the characters and how they bond is brilliant. I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. Very funny and equally frustrating, mostly because of Coogan's character. 4/5

Let it Snow
 My thoughts on this particular Christmas film can be found HERE.  3/5

One for the Money
 In all honesty, this film did not have my attention. I was bored after 10 minutes and I really didn't care what was happening. I thought the voiceover was completely out of place until I found out the film is based a popular book series. There was no chance this film would spawn a franchise. It gets the bare minimum because Sherri Shepherd is great and deserves better. 1/5


Sunday, 24 November 2019

Obligatory Christmas Netflix Film


This was meant to start off as a quick round review of films from the past month but seeing as I haven't written a 'watch list' post since August, I'll save that for another time. I just wanted to write something new this week. My Star Wars writing flow hasn't begun yet.

This post also goes against my rule about 'no Christmas films until December 1st' but in my defence, for some reason, I didn't know the film was set on Christmas Eve. From the trailer it just looked like it took place over a few days during the Christmas break.

The Christmas (not holiday season, it’s the Christmas season) season usually kicks off late November BUT this year, all round everywhere was getting into the Christmas spirit or at least trying to force people into it in October. The blood, guts and ghosts had barely even been taken out for Halloween before everywhere had started with Christmas, it felt like Halloween was being shoved under the stairs this year, barely making a mark. My guess is that everyone is eager (like me) for this year to be over, so bring on Christmas. And that wouldn't be complete without the obligatory Christmas Netflix film, this year, its 'Let it Snow'.

Beginning and ending with a voiceover from Joan Cusack, as the supposed voice of reason (?) but really, she's a tow truck driver who wears tin foil and won't explain why, she only really interacts with one character so her role, even from the start, is odd. But I like Joan, so I'll let that one go. Its Christmas eve and various teenagers are going through various stages of angst. It’s snowing and the town looks like a wonderland BUT of course with snow there are snow storms so no many cars on the road, followed by a few accidents and reasons for Joan Cusack to pop and tow a vehicle. Rather than a blanket plot, the film is separated into vignettes, which is in some ways is good as it offers the chance of sweet moments but on the other hand, there is no momentum throughout the film. Having a teen film be this relaxed is unusual, there is no sense of 'this is the be all and end all' of nights, which makes this an easy going Christmas film you could have on in the background of a party, which is amusing to say seeing as there is a party at the end of the film.

The stories within the film are centred around couples and friendship but mainly about romance which is to be expected, this is a teen film, on the verge of being a different genre. We have the best friends who are obviously in love with each other, the girl who's super obsessed with finding out where her boyfriend is and her best friend who is trying to make her see she deserves better, then that friend's secret romance with 'I've got feelings for you' for a cheerleader, the guy who just wants to throw a party and the famous singer who happens to be in town alone who meets the girl who doesn't know whether to go to college or not. Out of all of these characters, DJ K*Pow$ is the most fun even though all he wants to do is impress another DJ by having a party.

With moments of sweetness, outweighing the blandness of the overall feeling of the film, the little tiny moments of comedy are welcome and actually start to make you enjoy the film despite the very obvious ‘messages’ it is sending and the very obvious ending for all the characters. As an incredibly easy watch, it doesn’t quite have the Hallmark touch like the previous Christmas Netflix films and wouldn’t fall into the terrible Netflix film category either where ‘The Kissing Booth’, ‘Sierra Burgess is a Loser’ and ‘Tall Girl’ live. It’s a safe Christmas feel-good film. Cannot stress that enough. But if it was going for a unique selling point, there’s no other film I know where Spiderman and (teenager) Dora the explorer make out, at Christmas or otherwise.


Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Adoration - BFI London Film Festival


Young lovers on the run takes a very different form in Fabrice Du Welz’s latest dark tale of obsession and loss of innocence. With two enigmatic leads pushing the boundaries of how far someone is willing to go to protect the one they think they love. 

Full review is over at Zavvi HERE.

 #LFF
@BFI

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Zombi Child - BFI London Film Festival


If you could get revenge on someone, would you? Even it meant crossing the barrier of life and death? Part family history, part horror, part coming of age (sort of) this story spans decades and goes beyond four friends and their secret society.

My full review can be read over at Zavvi HERE.

 #LFF
@BFI

Friday, 15 November 2019

Bombay Rose - BFI London Film Festival


Beyond beautifully animated, this tragic tale of love, loss and being stuck in the past. Weaving in fairytale, the magic of cinema and the reality that's hard to esacpe.

My full review is over at Zavvi HERE.

 #LFF