Monday, 22 January 2018

From a Nebulous Dawn to The Witching Hour


Last week was the start of the London Shorts Film Festival, with various venues around London hosting screenings and special events. Everything kicked off at the opening party at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts), Movements of a Nebulous Dawn.

As a first timer at the ICA, I wasn't sure what to expect. Being greeted by a pleasing display of books, magazines and journals at the shop and enjoying a drink (token came the ticket) in what looked like the shallowest abandoned swimming pool, that was not it. The night became stranger still, with the party taking place in the theatre through very busy bar area (the cafe part up a flight of stairs was most intriguing). In a pitch black room, the only light came from 3 projectors, a large screen featuring visuals of art and film and the gigantic white balloon suspended in the middle of the room. The balloon became the centre point when experimental films were screened on to it, accompanied by improvised music. At first I felt like I was starring at the dark crystal, so absorbed in the light, but as time I snapped out of it and focused more on what was actually shown.

An unusual experience which surprised me as I usually dismiss experimental film and new types of art, but this was fascinating, especially how everyone in the room was drawn to the giant balloon.

Continuing on with the festival, I got to see a favourite collective of mine, The Final Girls, present The Witching Hour, which featured two documentaries about witchcraft from the 70s.

Another first time in a cinema, this time the very elegant Regent Street Cinema, complete with wonderfully old fashioned looking auditorium complete yellowy green coloured seats. The Final Girls are a film collective who explore the intersection between horror film and feminism. Having gone to previous screenings and events hosted by them, I was intrigied by their next project.

The two documentaries focusing on witchcraft and the image of the witch. Secret Rites features the sacred ceremonies of witchcraft and discusses how the image of the witch has been sensationalised, depicting covens taking part in over the top orgies and blood sacrifices. Alex Sanders, King of the Witches, talks in surreal detail about witchcraft as a religion and how new members to the coven are chosen very carefully. The film follows a new witch as she explains why she wants to join and later her initiation ceremony into the coven. A few other ceremonies are also played out in a very matter of fact manner. The second film, Power of the Witch, described as a time capsule of the 60s and 70s, the height of witchcraft intrigue, is exactly this as well as an attempt to deleve deeper into the mythology, black magic and interviewing those who are practicing witches.

Two very fascinating films, both with some natural humour (mostly as the choice of angles used and the dead pan manner everyone speaks in) and interesting theories behind the craft. The Final Girls mentioned that this was the beginning of further screenings along the theme of witchcraft.

The London Short Film Festival ran from 12th - 21st January, take a look HERE for what was in the programme.

@TheFinalGirlsUK

 

 


Thursday, 18 January 2018

Remember That Show... Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)


Remember that show about two private detectives where while on a case one is killed and resurfaces in the afterlife BUT he can still visit the world of the living and speak and been seen by his previous partner...

The show actually aired in the late 60s and then in 2000 a remake of the show was made with off the wall comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, as Hopkirk and Randall. Emilia Fox was Jeannie, fiance of Hopkirk and later partner and love interest to Randall. Tom Baker rounded the cast out as afterlife mentor, Wyvern, to Hopkirk, telling him the rules of Limbo. Apologies for the low quality pictures, there isn't much out there to choose from.


Looking back, it was a weird show all round. Casting comedians Reeves and Mortimer in slightly more serious roles than they were used to, as well as the The Fast Show veteran, Charlie Higson who produced the show and directed a few episodes. Each episode focused on a case which Randall and Jeannie would be hired to solve (or they stumble in to) and are aided by ghost Hopkirk who on occassion distracts and makes this difficult, especially when he discovers a new ability such as being able to inhabit and control Randall.


Each episode and each case seemed to get weirder and weirder, covering supernatural, media frenzies, mind control, plants that give you ever lasting life, a town that avoided the plague by making a deal with the devil and a few straight forward murder cases too. As well as being strange, the show featured quite a few famous and familiar 'before they hit the big time' faces, such as David Tennent as a crazed jealous artist in the pilot episode, Simon Pegg and the cast of The League of Gentlemen.

Even with all the comedic actors that passed through the series, the show had some comedy elements but it was mostly surreal and fascinating, with added homages to the original show, such as Jeannie's very 60s inspired wardrobe. The show had two series with rather an anti-climatic end which seems a shame as the characters deserved more.

If you're able to get a hold of a copy of the show or find it on the web somewhere, this definition of quirky show is worth your while.

(Deceased)

Monday, 15 January 2018

Christopher Walken Made Me Cry


I'll never forget my reaction to A Late Quartet. I remember becoming emotional during a scene where Christopher Walken sees his dead wife while listening to a piece of music. Its strange how a song or sound can take you back to a place, a feeling or a person. I did tear up a little towards the end but I literally burst into tears when the film ended and I had left the cinema. It was so bizarre. My parents who had met me after the film were surprised as well. I have never cried so much from a reaction to a film. But really it was Christopher Walken. If it had been anyone else, I don't think I would have reacted the same way.

From his smal roles, to scene stealers in Pulp Fiction and True Romance, to his front and centre stage, to him playing Puss in Boots to him playing his cello to his Batman villain to his award winnging performance in The Deer Hunter, Walken has done it all and at 74 years old, he's still going.  I love it when Walken shows up in a film you forget he was in, such as one of my guilty pleasures, Excess Baggage. He shows up as Alicia Silverstone's spoilt teen's wealthy father's fixer. That was a mouthful. He is probably the best thing in this midjudged 90s quirk of a film as he deadpans throughout, being sinister yet caring all in one.

Focusing on a few choice scenes where his vast filmography, Walken engages deep within his characters and makes you believe whatever comes out of his mouth, heartbreaking and terrifying in turn, depending on what character he is playing.


In Catch Me If You Can, playing Frank Abagnale, Sr to his con artist son, there isn't one particular scene that shows off Walken's talent, but the entire film. Most likely why he was nominated for this role for quite a few awards. His devotion to his son, no matter what he's done, his connection with him is heartbreaking, all the more on the last time he sees his son. A less talked about, maybe forgotten gem in both Walken and Leonardo DiCaprio's catalogue.


There are a few things I didn't take to in Seven Psychopaths, mainly the lack of female characters that were actually allowed to do anything, but from writer and director Martin McDonagh's previous work, he tends not to focus on female characters, that is, until his recent work of art, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Although Colin Farrell's Marty with writer's block is the central character and technically not one of the psychopaths and Sam Rockwell is superb, its Walken's Hans Kieslowski who really is the magnificent psychopath of the story. SPOILERS The scene in which Hans reveals to Marty that he is fact the Quaker, the man who stalked his daughter's killer, a story that Marty had been talking about as he made the story up, is artful. How Walken calmly explains the story and shows his scar is subtle and chillingly brilliant.


Of course my reaction to Walken in A Late Quartet was the reason for this post. A group of great actors giving great performances but Walken stand out as the one keeping the quartet together. When he stops the performance at the end, after all the fighting, tears and lies have come out, he decides to leave as he can't keep up. Signifying the end of an era and a new beginning. This is a moment, as well as the his memory of his wife, as one the moments that makes Walken a great actor.

I read once in an article that the reason why Christopher Walken is in so many films, even terrible ones, is that he loves working. One of my favourite works of art Walken has been in is most definitely the music video 'Weapon of Choice' by FatBoySlim. I'm sure we've all seen it, if not all of it, you've heard of it. Walken dances likes the pro he is around a stylish hotel, eventually flying through the lobby. If you need an actor who can emote such reactions as me, bursting into tears, he is the weapon of choice.

Now please join me watching the great man dancing, its even better than the reel of Cage screaming, for your viewing pleasure, the great Christopher Walken.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Once Was Enough



There are actually quite a few films that fit this description.  Some are because these films were utter trash, other because they were just so depressing and there are a few there I can appreciate for being brilliant but I will never see them again.
Silence
One from last year, Martin Scorsese's film, meant to be a big hit with awards instead it just became the talk of a few conversations. Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to Japan after they hear their mentor has renounced his faith after being tortured. Its a harrowing story and thats putting lightly. The torture the Japanese converts experience in the name of faith is appalling, again, understating it. Not to mention the emtional trauma as well as physical that everyone goes through. It is spectacularly shot, the atmosphere is captured and you feel as if you are there (not always a good thing) but ultimately it isn't a film I can watch again as it does anger me as well as disturb me.

The Eyes of My Mother
 Speaking of disturbing... this film. I can't even bring myself to talk about this film again. I did write about it last year, which you can read HERE if you are intrigued. My gad I can't think of this film again.

Happiness
This is always one on the list of films I never want to see again. I bought the DVD after reading so much about Todd Solondz thinking this film was going to be about a family and their problems. What I got was that but its also the film with Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a creep, Dylan Baker playing a horrifying pheodohile where you don't see what he does but you find out what happens to the kids and it is beyond disturbing, not to mention that conversation he has with this son. Then there are the three sisters are each messed up or despressed in their own way...... I really don't like this film. Apologies for not being eloquent enough.


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

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Remember That Show...

I'm starting something else new. Yey! As I've been getting rid of DVDs from my collection (making room for a whole load I got in the sales) I'm not looking to my TV boxsets of which I used to me so proud of, now as they literally gather dust, I'm getting rid of things. As there is so much TV to watch on Netflix, Amazon, BBCiplayer, 4OD, Now TV (tired now) I have less and less time to rewatch my TV DVDs. So, I'm writing posts about shows I haven't seen in years and will most likely be getting rid of. But there are some things that will remain (30 Rock and Battlestar Galactica are going no where, same goes for Sabrina the Teenage Witch).



Hey, do you remember that show where there were two US marshalls and they were best friends and they actually worked for WITSEC (witness protection) and each week they'd have to sort out a problem or relocate someone...

When talking about TV shows, most of my stories begin with 'back in Uni' or 'back in school when no one watched the same shows as me', well, this one is the former. Back in Uni I watched a hell of a lot of TV and there nothing wrong with that at all. I also watched a hell of a lot of films too, I was after all studying Film and TV production. I'd watch shows with friends, some recomendations and quite a few on my own. An old pal of mine still actually as my copy of a mini series that edged me into the horror genre, it became a running joke that she still has it. But its been nearly 10 years so I'll let that one go.

I was looking for something new to watch because inbetween waiting for 30 Rock to come out each week I needed something to be hooked on. These were the days believe it or not before Netflix and the best streaming service out there was BBC iplayer. I looked for cheap first seasons/series and decided if it was worth pursuing. In Plain Sight was a show I had seen the trailers of a few times so bought up season one cheap and got stuck in.


Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) is a US Marshall working for WITSEC, she is unapologetic, stubborn and damn fine agent. She has difficulty retaining romance relationships and wrangling her mother and sister who always seem to find themselves in trouble. Her best friend and partner, Marshall Mann (Fred Weller) is the guy that always has something to say and seems to know a little of everything. They are the perfect duo whether they are on a case, looking after a witness or just bantering over coffee. Each episode consists of Mary and Marshall taking in a new witness(es) and dealing with whatever trouble occurs as well as keeping the secret from her family that she is a WITSEC agent. The story that continiously runs in the background is about Mary's father who disappeared when she was young. She joined the marshalls originally to find her father. A few estranged half siblings show up looking for their father throughout the five seasons, hoping for answers too.

I was and am a huge Marshall Mann fan, his dry wit and stone cold look was at times hilarious, plus the chemistry between him and Mary was hugely entertaining. For me it was different from other 'cop' or 'detective' shows as it was about witness protection, which is why I love Line of Duty so much which is about the anti-corruption team, something different. As the show had five seasons, the show must have been doing something right. Ending on an explosive note then (in my opinion) an anti-climax with a short last season. Just in case anyone's interest is peaked I won't spoil anything.

I managed to find season two while at uni but after that the trail went cold. I saw a couple of episodes from season 3 through the help of the internet but I had to wait a few more years before I got to see season 4 and later 5. The DVDs weren't even available in the UK annoyingly, but I have seen the complete series available and it is very tempting BUT I think my Mary and Marshall fandom days are done....for now.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Character Name in Title


Tamara Drewe
Adapted from Posy Simmonds fantastic graphic novel of the same name, the story is a reworking modern retelling of Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd. The film differs slightly from the book, but its only to stop the film from being too sad. Tamara, with new nose, arrives back in the village she grew up in as a teenager. She captures the eye of an old flame, a creepy older famous novelist and meets a famous drummer from a band, all while being spied upon by two local girls who hate and adore her at the same time. Amusing and serious when it needs to be, the lesson learnt here is that all writers are damaged...something to think on there.

Irma La Dolce
A Billy Wilder film that reunites the wonderful Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Set in Paris, she is the Irma of the story, a prostitute and he is a honest policeman who ends up beinf framed for bribary and fired. He then ends up moving in with Irma after he defends her against her pimp and becomes her pimp instead. But he's in love with Irma so he ends up working the early hours at a marker and pretends to be a wealthy customer to stop her from working as a prostitute. It seems complicated by despite the seedy-ness its a really sweet romantic comedy.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day
Rare for me to pick all romantic comedies, but here it is. On top form as ever Frances McDormand is the Miss Pettigrew of the story. After being cruely fired as a nanny, she ends up on the soup line in 1930s London. By accident she takes a job as a social secretary to a naive young woman, who also is trying to be someone she isn't, American singer-actress Delysia Lafosse. She is in love with talented musican, (played by Lee Pace so wouldn't be!) under the thumb of nasty club owner Mark Strong and trying to seduce a young silly theatre producer into giving her a lead role. But Miss Pettigrew not only literally lives for a day, she also helps others out along the way, especially Delysia. Amy Adams and McDormand make a splendid duo and not to mention the beyound amazing costumes. Its a surprisingly delightful film. 


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

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A Second Dose of Misery


In anticipation for the second season of Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events, I wanted to express my excitment. I could say its a sneal peak or a look at what's to come but really this is just me getting really excited about an adaptation of books that mean a hella lot to me.

Everyone has a book or series or more than book even, that they get really excited about, especially when the adaptation looks so promising. I was like this with The Hobbit (although I still think 2 films would have been much better than 3) and I'm hoping I'm still excited when Mortal Engines comes out. But I never finished the series, just the one book. I'll probably go crazy if Fables ever becomes a TV series AND is done well, but until all that, let me focus back to the long awaited second season of A Series of Unfortunate Events.


For those who read and love the books would have picked up the little hints from the first season that ellude to the second. Some things so minor I lept with joy. The joy of easter eggs for the old time fans was a nice touch from the makers. Covering The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator (a favourite of mine), The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital (another one of my favourites) and The Carnivorous Carnival. The 8th book is where things take a turn for the Baudelaires and they become the ones who have to wear disguises. But before all that happens, there are some fantastic parts in the books preceding.


The Baudelaires find themselves left at Prufrock Preparatory School with the a headmaster so awful he forces his students to listen to him play violin even though he can't play. Here is where they also meet their future partners in crime, of sorts, and recent orphans themselves, two of the Quagmire triplets. This will set up the season with more questions and less answers but in true Lemony Snicket fashion it will only get better, but worse for the Baudelaires.

With the new season and more books, this means there are some fantastic characters coming up and after seeing who is playing who, I'm even more excited! One of the staple characters, Esme Squalor, a supposed distant relation is played by Lucy Punch and her husband Jeromes by Tony Hale. Excellent casting! They will both appear in the The Ersatz Elevator. In The Austere Academy Roger Bart will be Vice Principle Nero, another casting choice I can't wait to see. And the cherry on top of this delicious cake is Nathan Fillion will be playing Jacque Snicket! I won't say when he appears as the TV show might mix things up and I hope they do as they have introduced a characters that doesn't exactly appear in the books, but another Snicket does but not until Book 11/12.


With promo photos mostly from The Ersatz Elevator (its is a great book) and a snippet from 5th and 8th, the 7th book, The Vile Village features briefly in the trailer BUT there is nothing from the 9th book, The Carnivorous Carnival, which I find odd.

What to expect in the next season? Well going by the books, more drama, more misery for sure, more deaths, nasty deaths actually, some surprises and further clues about 'the secret organisation' and VFD will turn up more often than not. I can't wait!

If you haven't seen the trailer, you can watch it HERE.

Something unfortunate is coming, again March 30th

@Unfortunate