Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Around the World: Poland

I completely misunderstood what this film was about. I think....

It was compared to Donnie Darko and I bought a ticket. Having seen it, I can understand the comparison but my gad was I confused with what was happening. I think I may have got some answers at the Q&A but as I had another film to run to, I missed out. 

The Erlprince, inspired by Goethe's poem, Der Erlkonig, mixed in with science fiction, an uncomfortable family set up and the end of the world, this confusing piece of film is at times difficult to follow. Although the characters were fascinating, there was no connection, it felt as if the audience weren't meant to become involved but instead have their noses pressed against the glass and try and catch a glimpse of the action and purpose.

A 14 year old old science prodigy tries to solve the theory of parallel worlds while trying to deal with his own demons and his overbearing ambitious mother. He has an obsession with the Goethe poem repeating it at various times. He also meets his father and begins a shaky bond. Throughout all this a reminder that the world is going to end appears on screen.

Disorientating at times, the story shifts to a science fiction tone, to a dysfunctional family set up to fantasy, especially when the films switches to the pond scenes. A favourite place that all three family members frequent. Underneath the chaos there is a simple story about a extraordinarily gifted boy who is tormented by his thoughts and years of study that over throw him into turmoil. 

Having not seen many if any Polish films, this was an intro I won't forget in a hurry. 

Next up... check out all the films HERE.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Woods

The Village
Technically this set in a village in the middle of the woods. Hated by some but I really enjoyed this folktale like story. A blind girl as the heroine of the story who falls in love with the strong silent man in the village, who wants to go to the towns to find help and medicine, but is denied by the elders. The first twist (its Shyamalan, there is always going to be a twist) is no surprise. The second, you don't see coming and is really odd and out of place but hey it works after all.

The Edge
I remember that my family taped this and I think it had something to do with Alec Baldwin. Anthony Hopkins is a wealthy man married to a younger model, the then flavour of the month Elle Macpherson. They are on a photoshoot in the woods in a cabin or something then Baldwin, a photographer joins Hopkins and Harold Perrineau in a helicopter but end up going down in the middle of the forest. They are stalked and attacked by a bear and truths come out as well as some deaths. It was actually ok despite me not remembering much of it.

In a quiet Norwegian village, 19 year old Dag returns from military service and becomes part of the volunteer firebrigade. He starts setting fire inorder to create excitement and the need to help, but soon his fire get bigger and put lives in danger. There are some amazing shots, especially in the forests around the village. It's a strange character story but you never really get to know why Dag keeps setting fires, he isn't explored enough.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Just Another Day in LA

In the gear up (pun not intended) to the release of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, the director has curated a selection of films that inspired his latest. Edgar Wright presents Car Car Land is a series of films screened throughout June, all embodying the best car action from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

I was lucky to see The Driver starring Ryan O’Neal as the title character at BFI this week. The film had been used as a double bill at various cinemas with Drive. These two films are two peas in a pod. Both set in LA, both about an amazing driver who works bank jobs, both with no name. Made decades apart, but with similarities there is something grittier and darker about Ryan O’Neal calm and collected driver. 

On the mean streets of LA, The Driver waits outside a casino. It’s not long before he is tearing up the streets with a cool unchangeable expression throughout the epic car chase. Despite successfully out running the police, The Detective is onto the Driver, referring to him as the cowboy. In fact he is determined to catch the Driver, he sets up a bank robbery, making a deal with a low life criminal. But like most stories of this nature, things don’t go according to plan.

Known for its ‘no-frills style of filmmaking’ and amazing car chases, it is no surprise to me to find out director Walter Hill also made The Getaway, another intense ‘no frills’ style of film. The film is simple and despite the non stylized way of shooting the action, the quieter scenes seem as if they are orchestrated right done to a flinch. Each character is identifiable even though no one is given a name. Once the cars start revving, names don’t even matter, you’re too far into the chase.

After only seeing trailers for Baby Driver, I can see why this was an influence. The Driver is a criminal but you really want him to escape the arrogant clutches of The Detective, a perfect anti-hero.

For all the Londoners out there or those visting, why not come along to a screening at BFI Southbank over June and July: its Dustin Hoffman season!
As Dustin Hoffman, the ‘unlikely’ leading man, turns 80 this year we celebrate his  stellar career. Highlights range from The Graduate to Tootsie, from All The President’s Men  to Kramer v. Kramer. 
 “I grew up thinking a movie star had to be like Rock Hudson or Tab Hunter, certainly nobody in any way like me.” 
Want to see Hoffman’s best characters? BFI are offering 2 tickets for the price of 1! Simply quote HONEST241 when booking.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Around the World: Germany/Austria

I know this is breaking the rules but seeing as this challenge has been much harder than anticipated I figured that this was only fair. Plus as its Father’s Day, this was perfect to post up!

Labelled the 3 hour German comedy, heralded as one of the best films of the year, winner and nominee of many awards, who would have thought a story about an estranged father and daughter reunion over a weekend would spark such an interest and have this success? Well if you’ve seen it, I think you’ll know how. Maren Ade’s opus is a unique slice of cinema that will be talked about for years to come. 

Winfried, an aging divorced music teacher who loves bizarre pranks and dressing up, decides to reconnect with his estranged daughter Ines after his beloved dog dies. Ines is a rather uptight business consultant working and living in Romania. She is not pleased by the sudden appearance of her father especially as she is trying to close a major deal with an oil company. Over the weekend they try to connect by her unwillingness to take a break from work and his immature behaviour pushes a wedge further between them until Winfried returns as Toni Erdmann, life coach with a terrible wig and fake teeth. Switching between being a nuisance and being surprisingly helpful, the two start to find a way to get back to the way they were when Ines was young. 

This is summing it up lightly as I don’t want to spoil the film to much as there are moments of pure gold to be enjoyed, especially a spontaneous moment when Toni convinces Ines, or as he says, his secretary Ms Snook, to sing Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All. Winfried and Ines are both set in their ways, but all he really wants for his daughter is for her to be happy and remember to have fun. She learns this in the oddest of ways, an impromptu decision just before her guests arrive for a party.
Something else the film focuses on is how women are perceived in the work place. Her male colleagues constantly undermine Ines, where in order to be slightly included she tends to dress like them and talk like them. After a event at the American Embassy, Winfried unknowingly speaks out to German oil company CEO where as Ines tries to talk to him about business in a professional manner but she is only invited to drinks if her father accompanies them, despite him having no interest and any knowledge what they are talking about. There is also a line that stuck with me when Ines’ boss says ‘this is going to annoy the feminist in you’ and she replies, ‘If I was a feminist I wouldn’t put up with me like you’. 

It is such a unique film that created buzz but with great films that aren’t in the English language, US announced a remake. Why? Because they can’t be bothered to market a brilliant piece of cinema that’s not American. It hadn’t even hit UK cinemas before it was announced. It is wrongly being directed by Adam McKay and wrongly cast with Kristen Wiig and Jack Nicholson. I love Wiig but this is not right. There are a few scenes that I will be surprised makes it to US version and they will of course cut it to shreds until it is but a shadow of the glorious original. I mean, they could never recapture that beautiful odd moment when a daughter hugs her father dressed in that costume. 

Next up... check out all the films HERE.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Based on True Events

I have the honour of being the one who suggested this week's theme as I was going to use The Bling Ring. I was a little obsessed over this story for a short period of time as I was fascinated by the crimes and why the hell this bunch of kids did this. But I think I used the film for another theme so I'm going in with these...

Battleship Potemkin - Mutiny 1905 on the Russian Battleship Potemkin

Known for its amazing sequence on the Odessa Steps, this story about a crew of a battleship rebelling against the cruel officers is indeed based on real events. In Sergei Eisenstein's masterpiece, the crew are supported by the people on land who come to their aid who then gunned down on by the police. The crew of the battleship then aim their guns at the police but peace is restored when other ships refuse to fire on their comrades. A straightforward bloody picture with roots in a bloody battle. Although silent, it speaks volumes. I go into more depth HERE.

Pain & Gain - The Sun Gym gang

I never ever thought I would be picking a Michael Bay film but here we are. I saw this for free at a three day event where press got to see a whole bunch of films all day. It was a dream come true for me, even if this black comedy based on real events was screened. I also had to sit through The Wolverine.  Based on the Sun Gym gang, a group of bodybuilders who commited crimes including kidnapping, extortion, torture and murder, the film is changed slightly to become a story about the American Dream and how far a group of guys will go to get it. It is very funny in places but over all terrible, which is probably why I enjoyed it. I didn't delve too far in the real stories which is unsual for me but I had seen enough of this group of violent idiots.

Made in Dagenham - Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968

Seems like a run of the mill 'feel good' British drama set in the 60s - wrong! Musical adaptation aside, the story about the women of Ford who went on strike over the equal pay was a landmark labour-relations dispute that paved the way for progress. The story follows a group of women who protest sexual discrimination and demand equal pay, even going as far as protesting outside Parliament. It does make you feel good I'll admit but it also looks at the bigger picture and proves that we can do anything if we set our minds to it, especially if it is for the right cause.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Did She or Didn't She

For me, there are few films that are brave enough to offer no resolution to a main question at the end of the film. Most of the time an answer is needed in order for a satisfying ending and a happy audience. BUT in the case of films that pose a mystery an answer before the credits roll isn’t always needed if the story is played out right.

Hitchcock’s Suspicion comes to mind. The question is whether Joan Fontaine’s new mysterious husband Cary Grant is trying to kill her or not. For me, the film would have been superb if it had ended on the fantastic shot of Grant walking up the stairs into darkness carrying a glass of milk to his wife, which is the only lit object. You’re meant to wonder whether he has put poison in it or not. Unfortunately the studios intervened and not only wanted an answer but it was to be a happy one. 

However, despite the studio meddling with Roger Michell’s adaptation, which he penned himself as well as directed, he was given, what seems freedom to leave the question open. Did Rachel try and kill her cousin Philip or not? We’ll never know and it’s perfect that way.

More of a mystery drama than a romantic drama as it has been described, the film, based on Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, is about Philip Ashley, an orphan taken in by his older cousin Ambrose who is the owner of a large estate. But over the years, Ambrose’s health goes into decline so he moves to Italy where he meets the mysterious widow, Rachel. It is through letters that Philip receives word about his cousin’s health, his sudden marriage to Rachel and then his suspicions about her. After Ambrose’s death, Philip becomes the heir and wants revenge on Rachel for his beloved cousin’s death. But plans change when she arrives as Philip becomes infatuated with her to the point of obsession. She both feeds this and rejects it at various times, making Philip question her feelings especially when he starts to loose him mind. 

Originally set in Cornwall, Michell changed this, using various locations across South West of England (and Italy) wanting to avoid the ‘Poldark’ comparisons. This seems a shame, as Du Maurier is known for her Cornwall set stories. Despite this change, the locations used were still breathtakingly beautiful, especially as certain Cliffside path.

Watching Rachel wrap Philip round her little finger is both excruciating and fascinating. The story plays back and forth and you are purposely left to make up your own mind about whether Rachel did kills Ambrose and tries to kill Philip too which leaves the story open to discussion. Rachel Weisz is brilliant at the enigmatic cousin of the title and doesn’t given anything away. At the Q & A after the film’s screening, Roger Michell spoke about the 1952 adaptation of the novel and that the original director quit when Olivia de Havilland was casting saying she wasn’t right for the role because ‘she had no secrets’. Weisz on the other hand does and she is perfectly cast.

It may not be the greatest period drama you’ll see this year but it is a compelling story, keeping you guessing even after the end, with a great cast and amazing candle lit scenes may I add.

For all the Londoners out there or those visting, why not come along to a screening at BFI Southbank over June and July: its Dustin Hoffman season!
As Dustin Hoffman, the ‘unlikely’ leading man, turns 80 this year we celebrate his  stellar career. Highlights range from The Graduate to Tootsie, from All The President’s Men  to Kramer v. Kramer. 
 “I grew up thinking a movie star had to be like Rock Hudson or Tab Hunter, certainly nobody in any way like me.” 
Want to see Hoffman’s best characters? BFI are offering 2 tickets for the price of 1! Simply quote HONEST241 when booking.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Around the World: Australia

Taking a triip down under we enter the realm of teenage angst, colour coordinated mean girls, anxiety attacks, sentimental music boxes, weird creatures in the woods and an unwanted birthday party. It was compared to Wes Anderson's style of filming but mainly compared to his production design style, which is why I sought after this weird little gem.

Adapted from the stage play which was performed in Adelaide, Girl Asleep retains its theatre roots, especially in the fantastical elements of the story. Girl Asleep is about Greta, a shy awkward teenager on the cusp of her 15th birthday. She makes friends with a fellow outsider, is invited to hang out with the 'cool' girls and has to cope with her bickering parents as they force her to host a birthday party in order to make more friends. During the party she falls alseep and experiences a vivid dream that boarders reality.

 It is obvious why this worked so well on stage and translates perfectly to screen. As with most stage to screen stories, there are far less restrictions in terms of sets and locations but the fact that some characters in Greta's real life cross over into weird manifestations in her dream world, the imagination is slightly lost.

As mentioned before, the aesthetics of the film are superb. The 70s setting also gives the film a delightful quirk all ready to go. It was also stated that this community wouldn't look out of place next to Napoleon Dynamite's. Every little detail is taken into account with each characters having a clear identity and something to make them stand out, making the film wonderfully structured and colourful.

Described as 'an extroverted fantasy dreamscape of an introverted teenage girl' is probably most accurate. Greta needs to work out her anger and through her bizarre dream she is able to be on the way to finding herself, even if there are smaller parts to the story left unresolved. Its a charming harmless theatrical gem that I was more than happy to stumble upon.

Next up... check out all the films HERE.