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.

Pyromaniac
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.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Double Features





I did use these two in a previous theme that was of course about reunions but as these two were actually part of a double feature I saw a few years ago, I could resist them again. Both amazing films with (I think I can say this) a bit of cult or just a following. Both from the 90s and both featuring high school reunions where the lead characters are trying to pretend they are something else and having to embarce who they are and what they want. Romy and Michele's brightly coloured world where they over come their past bullies and realise just how awesome they are through fashion and that beyond hilarious and amazing dance routine. Martin Blank is a hitman who is trying to get out of the game and win back his high school girlfriend who he can't forget. He is also trying finish 'that one last job' as well fend of rivals and FBI. Both films have great humour and complement each other in their uniqueness. 



These two films are obviously about the demanding world of ballet and how the work, stress and art of the dance world can mess you up psychologically.  The beautifully made film, The Red Shoes from Powell and Pressburger focuses on Vicky who is torn between ballet and her controlling instructor and the composer she has fallen in love with. Basically she is driven mad by the red shoes in the ballet story and by what happening in real life. With Black Swan, which may have been better with The Wrestler but I've not seen that, is Darren Aronofsky's crowning glory. A young ballerina is pushed to the brink of self destruction when she lands the role of the White and Black Swan in Swan Lake. She loses herself in the duel role and ultimately gives the best damn performance but its at a price. 



This one is obvious too, all about vampires. But what sets these two films apart is that they tell the vampire story from two very different angles as well as having a female character as the vampire. Both vampires befriend/become attached to a boy and try to help them in some way. They've both be around for decades and are tired. The stories follow a similar pattern of a few gruesome deaths and end with the journey to be continued.


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

Monday, 5 June 2017

Female Gaze



Last week I was lucky enough to go to a special screening of Jane Campion's In The Cut which was presented by Park Circus and the film collective Misc Films. Not only did I get see the under appreciated film on print BUT Campion herself was present for a Q & A. She was wonderfully honest, saying exactly what she thought. Sex came up quite a bit, as it was connected to the themes of the film, but Jane would find other ways to bring it up. She fan girled about the author Susanna Moore, who wrote the original novel, In the Cut and about Nicole Kidman and Meg Ryan. She was entertaining and laid back about everything and even challenged the audience members for their opinions when they asked jarring questions. She is definitely one of a kind.

Before the screening, I wrote a piece about Jane Campion's films and female characters which was featured on the Curzon blog which can be read HERE.

Misc Films are a London-based programming collective who screen films they love as well as unappreciated films. I well definitely be keeping eye out for future events. 


Friday, 2 June 2017

Long Live the Sensates

We've all felt that anger. You've been following a show for a series or season then it gets cancelled. Having one season/series of something and knowing how amazing it is and how much you enjoyed it AND knowing that there are tons of others who think the same BUT then its taken away? Its harsh. Especially if its left on a cliffhanger. This is the worst feeling.

The second worse feeling is when a show gets a secon season/series and its even better than the first. Its bigger, bolder, exciting, the characters are amazing, developed, storylines are brilliant too. Maybe the show is one of a kind in every sense of the world. Its global, diverse as hell without even trying and then... its cancelled. No reason. Just, its cancelled. Its a show thats never been more needed but no, its cancelled. It was even more successful than the first series/season, still, no, its cancelled.


Sense8 was in a few words, ground and boundry breaking. A story about "eight strangers around the globe find themselves connected -- first by a violent vision, then by their shared ability to connect with one another's thoughts and actions, and finally by the urgent need to find out what happened and why. Their need to know goes beyond simple curiosity -- as they pursue answers, a mysterious organization hunts them down, intent on destroying them, one by one, cluster by cluster."

For anyone who follows my twitter or tumblr (I'm modest I swear) you know how much I love this show.

A mix of sci-fi, thriller, romance, crime, drama and everything inbetween. It was like 8 different shows in one at times, which was not only entertaining but so darn creative it made my brain ache. From the minutes it began I was hooked and accepted everything that was said. I didn't question things unless it was logical (and emotional). I yelled at the screen (but I do that all the time) and rewatched it a few times. I can't get enough of Sense8. The best thing about this show, wasn't the beyond amazing cast or showcasing just how talented the Wachowski Sisters are but it was that it was loved by the fans. You can always tell well loved a show is by the amount of gifs you find after one episode. It is a waste to cancel it.


So far in the news, there hasn't been a proper reason for the cancellaton apart from Netflix's CEO saying "I'm always pusing the content team, we have to take more risk, you have to try more crazy things — because we should have a higher cancel rate overall." In other words 'lets make lots of cool shows to bring in viewers then reward them by cancelling everything they like' - idiot! Yes the show was expensive but the amount of people watching the show surely out weighed the audience numbers? If they needed money why not cancel Van Helsing?


Fans of one of the other popular and successful show 'Stranger Things' which I love to bits, better hold on tight to it, it may be next come October.

I hoping that somehow, someone will pick up the show so that it doesn't become one of those great shows that never got a proper ending and left with a cliffhanger. It's ok sensates, we've got each other and two awesome seasons to keep us company.





Go watch Sense8 season 1 & 2 on Netflix NOW!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Tall Buildings


When you think of tall buildings, I immediately thought of Die Hard. But these days Die Hard is my go to for most things. I just really love that movie. My second thought was Dredd. But as this is my rainy day/sick day film (this as and Rear Window) and I wanted to go for the theme within a theme this week. I went for a simple theme, keeping it British. All my picks are British made movies.

 
High-Rise
A big hit in recent years, Brit grit director Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's cult novel High-Rise split audiences in two. One side hated it (I blame poor advertising and the fact people were just seeing it because Tom Hiddleston was it in) and on the other side, it was adored. I love this film. It may be a grim and long winded way of saying society is a mess but it has moments or pure genius. And as someone who sees themselves as Nick Carraway, I see myself in Lang too. The constant observer. 

Attack the Block
Joe Cornish's Attack the Block was a big deal. Not only was it the writer's directorial debut but it was also John Boyega's (of Star Wars fame) big break. Set in a council estate tower block filmed in and around various estates in East London, a group of friends and nurse they mug earlier in the evening, have to defend their home from aliens. Its so good to see a fresher version of the 'alien invasion' scenario with a group of 'hoodies' and how they'd resolve things. Plus its hilarious. Cornish said that the story was inspired after he was mugged and added the alien element. When he was writing the story and during filming he asked the young cast how they would actually talk and what weapons they would use if there was an actual invasion.

Man on Wire
This was one of the first times I really became interested in documentaries. I was brought up on fiction films of all genres (except horror, my parents hate horror too) but documentaries became an important part of my film education later on while at college. I had read about the film and watched the trailers a few times intrigued by this true tale. My mum (usually against buying DVDs) agreed to getting if for me when we were in the supermarket together. We watched it together as soon as we were home and we were both hooked on the story. It was doc that was presented like a heist film, keeping in with the excitement and thrill with the re-enactments and interviews. The story of Philippe Petit's terrifying 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Centre is both amazing but with a air of sadness. Robert Zemeckis' The Walk that came out 2015 was no where near as exciting and it seemed odd to follow such a great documentary.

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