Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Driving You Blood Simple

Last month was the most excellent weekend in Bristol at The Watershed for Cinema Rediscovered and The State of Things. 

I have teased on Instagram my first attempt at zine making - obviously a hell of a lot more work to do on that, but now I can share where the article is, on Cinema Rediscovered Blog.

Along with my piece 'Blood Simple: The Coen Brothers’ Characters and Genre Twisting Storytelling' are other great pieces of writing from other participants on the course which can be read HERE

Just to get you hooked, here is a little sneak at the edited zine...

Monday, 28 August 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Stage

Better late than never right? Didn't want to miss out on last week's theme but film duty called last week so had to take a week off. Haven’t had chances to read through everyone's posts yet for a few week either - mega behind I know. Will catch up though.

Topsy Turvy

I used to hate this film. Mostly because my parents went on and on about it but when I finally had the chance to sit down and take it in, I LOVED IT!. We used to watch The Mikado all the time when I was young and my Dad was in a production of it too. Love the music, love the story and the oh the costumes. A film about how The Mikado came about and the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan was superb. It is a mixture of pure Mike Leigh and Victorian theatre to brought to life.

A Night at the Opera

One of my favourite films of all time is the Marx Brother's A Night at the Opera. It is a comedy like no other (apart from other Marx Bros films of course) with slapstick, witty lines, perfect timing, talented musicians, opera that you want to watch and a story that is bizarre and wonderful. Taking on roles that suit them down to the ground Harpo, Chico, Groucho along with amazing singer Allan Jones, a story about a washed up manager, talented singer, his best friend and dresser take on the New York Opera company, on land and sea, is a joy every time I watch it.

Cradle Will Rock

This is one of those films where you forget how good it was. Directed by Tim Robbins, the film is a slightly fictional version about the development of Marc Blitzstein's 1937 musical 'The Cradle Will Rock' and events surrounding it, including Diego Rivera's controversial mural in the Rockefeller centre, the great Depression and affect on jobs, the theatre company set to perform the musical and general unrest in the country. Fantastic cast, great stories. 

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

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Around the World: Hungary

Ever thought it was possible to see from a dog's point of view without animation or humans doing the voices in tacky live action films? Well it is possible and it is beautiful as well as bleak and heartbreaking. The curiously named White God is superb.

I remember seeing reviews about White God when it was first released, it was screened at Cannes in 2014 and was nominated as Hungary's choice for Best Foreign Language Film but wasn't shortlisted, sadly. It could easily been a film that was over looked as the story seems familiar but there is something special about this film.

Hagan is a mutt and loved by his own teenage owner Lili. When Lili is forced to stay with her father while her mother is out of the country, the estranged family don't see eye to eye. Her father doesn't like dogs and refuses to pay a harsh "mongrel" fine imposed by the Hungarian government. After he a Lili fight, he abandons Hagan on the side of the road. The story follows both Lili who searches the streets at night for her beloved dog while trying to mend her relationship with her father and keep up with the youth orchestra she is part of. Hagan has a very different journey. He lives on the streets, eating scraps of food where he can, avoiding the dog catchers and looking out for his owner. He passes through various people's hands eventually ending up being brutally trained for fighting. But instead of a happy reunion with Lili, Hagan, along with 250 other dogs who had been abandoned, takes to the streets, attacking, killing anyone in their way. They hold the streets hostage, but Lili is determined to find her Hagan again.

So many adorable dogs but terrifying when running in a pack. The ending scenes are truely marvelous, the dogs are as one, or as a characters describes, an army. The brutallity that Hagan and the other dogs suffer is heartbreaking, especially as they have been left aside by owners who didn't care enough about them. Their revenge is, in a way, justified but the violence against them is visited ten fold back on the people.

Although the film begins like a story we've heard before, you don't expect the outcome at all. The image of the quiet streets and just the sound of dogs in the distance is wonderfully constricted. But the last scene in the film, of the pack surrounding Lili is beautiful. Even though there is no real resolution, there is hope and that is sometimes better than a clear cut 'happy ending'.

Next up... check out all the films HERE

Friday, 18 August 2017

Around the World: Wales

After the last post from Around the World, I was hoping for a more upbeat story but having just rented Soloman & Gaenor, I should have guessed from the title (and synopsis) that things wouldn't end well. Nothing usually does with 'star crossed loves'.

Set in South Wales on 1911 in a small mining town. There are continous issues with the mines, with strikes and talks going on throughout. Solomon (Ioan Guffudd) is an Orthodox Jew who hides his ethnicity when he sells fabrics door to door. hi family own a shop in the small town and tend to keep to their own comminuty which is subject to abuse. Soloman meets and falls in love with Gaenor (Nia Roberts) who has a strict father and openly anti-Semitic brother. Soloman struggles to keep his love a secret from his family and his family a secret from Gaenor. When she discovers she is pregnant, she is publically disgraced in her church.

Released back in the late 90s, the BAFTA winning film was also nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category but it lost out to Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother. Tough year. The film was actually film in both English and Welsh. I think I saw the English version with a bit of Welsh and Hebrew too.

The story is familiar, two lovers who want to be together by their opposing families and beliefs keep them apart. But in this story, they keep secrets from each other. Solomon keeps his family a secret and in turn keeps Gaenor a secret from them. She later, thinking he doesn't love her, keeps her pregnancy a secret from him until it becomes too much to bear. As with all these stories, there is a feeling of tragedy in the air from the start but the gentle courtship and growing feelings between Solomon and Gaenor makes you desperately hope for a happier ending or at least a satisfying close. 

Next up... check out all the films HERE

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Rescue

So, all my picks this week are Disney. A happy accident.

The Rescuers
When it comes to rescue, the first thing that comes to find is that adorable song 'R-E-S-C-U-E/Rescue Aid Society...' you know it. A society of mice from around the globe meet up and help children. Its adorable. Really sad and rather gritty (a young child is thrown down in pot hole caves, almost drowned, threatened by pet alligators on a daily basis) but there is hope of course, in the form of American teaming up with Hungary...of course. Bernard and Bianca are fearless, the former less so but they do everything to help Penny who is kept captive by one of the great forgotten and rather hilarious villains, Madame Medusa who really wants the big jewel. This film is close to my heart as it was one of the old VHS Disneys we had when we were young.

In Search of the Castaways
Featured in my afternoon movie segment way back when, this Disney live action featuring 60s darling Hayley Mills is an adventure with the strangest group. Mary and Robert Grant convince Lord Glenarvan and his son to rescue their shipwrecked father, Captain John Grant. Along with their friend, French professor Paganel, who found an SOS in a bottle, they all venture round the globe. Well, South America then New Zealand. It's really fun and rather silly in places, complete with a couple of terrible songs and predictable romance, it is indeed a perfect afternoon movie.

Return to Oz
Continuing on the afternoon movie streak, Return to Oz is a classic (for me and my friends at least) and was someone I went to Uni with's favourite film ever. It is also terrifying as Dorothy is about to be given 'therepy' in the form of electric shocks (which has been proven to make things worse). At the start of the movie the farm house is still being built after the tornado and her aunt doesn't believe her stories. But after a power cut and a strange girl who she keeps seeing, leads her to the river where she floats in a crate to OZ, she knows its real. What's great is that characters from the real world double up again in OZ, also terrifying. More part of OZ are shown, the deadly desert, the big villain, Gnome King who has taken over the land and turned everyone in the Emerald City to stone. Dorothy, along with her band of misfits as that is exactly what they are, have to rescue the Scarecrow and the mysterious Ozma.

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

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Slumber Party Massacre

I talk about them about them all the time, I know, but they have such great screenings I just can't help it. They were great at The State of Things in Bristol. I'm super excited about what they'll do for Halloween. Of course its The Final Girls.

Back in July, before all the madness happened, Fox (I've mentioned her a few times) and me got tickets to see a slasher movie. Not the sort of thing I'd do on a Friday night but the I remembered reading about it somewhere else before (I'm pretty convinced it was Dell on Movies) and thinking this sounds awesome.

The Slumber Party Massacre isn’t your average 70s/80s slasher, it is known as the first feminist slasher movie. Slasher films usually feature women half naked most of the time, getting killed all the time and overall, a negative representation of women.

Rita Mae Brown, feminist writer and activist, originally wrote the screenplay for The Slumber Party Massacre as parody of the genre but as production moved on, some things were changed. When editor and aspiring director Amy Holden Jones ended up with the script for The Slumber Party Massacre, things looked like they’d change for the better. But Roger Corman, praised in the industry for his work, wanted more gore, more naked women, as the film has filled its quota. Regardless of these changes, the film stands out as being progressive (in my eyes anyway) in more ways than one.

The story goes, a group of ‘high school girls’ all on the basketball team, plan a slumber party at Trish’s house whose parents are away. They invite new girl Valerie, who lives next door but feels uncomfortable and doesn’t go. It also just so happens that mass murderer Russ Thorn has escaped and starts killing everyone he meets, but he seems fixated on this group of girls. The girls are in for a scary and bloody night.

The panel talk that followed the screening was brilliant. Discussing how the women are depicted as more capable as they actually fight back, arming themselves with knives when a pizza delivery guy drops dead in the living room after one of the nastiest off screen deaths. It was also noted that the women who dressed in short wear lived longer which was a intriguing observation. The objectification of women is seen but in a way it was more natural, if a little pointless but this was on purpose. A shower scene where women discuss athletes and later on in the house, undressing in the living room so the boys have an opportunity to watch them. The men’s deaths are actually more gruesome, as the men are screaming in pain (and understandably). Even the killer is shown to be weaker than then women when he corners one of the final girls with his weapon of choice, a phallic like object, an electric drill than is chopped down with a machete. He begins to loose at this stage, whining like a child and falling into the pool. Another fair point is that women are seen in jobs such as carpenter and phone line repairer, which is refreshing and more importantly, completely normal. The team’s coach, also a woman, is a fighter. She senses something is wrong and goes over to help, fighting back, almost cornering the killer. These genre tropes being challenged were strangely uplifting. Feels odd to say this about a slasher movie, but it’s true, a Friday night out that is hard to beat.



#BFI #TheFinalGirls #TheSlumberPartyMassacre #Horror #Feminism

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

All Quiet on the Blogger Front

Well hello there! No I've not disappeared, just took a break without meaning to. It is an understatement that I have been busy. I've literally keeled over from being so tired.

It all kicked off week before last when I went to Bristol (which you can read about HERE) and came back to the world of work. Launched into catching up on emails and invoices and the like, while at the same time trying to organise auditions for the short film I'm working on AND trying to finish off a piece about Blood Simple (which I can hopefully share with you all soon).

Obviously, getting into work and doing my job took precedence, as it is my day job after all. Getting into work mega early just so I can leave a tad early was also cutting into my sleep. Not that I don't nap every chance I get, I had to basically nap every chance I get. To the point I was falling asleep at my desk mid type. With no rest in sight, I just powered through and got to the other side, this week, where everythhing seems to be just the same. I'm shattered.

As well as various things happening, my short film I'm making with my friend Foxo, Late Nights at the Movies, has been taking up my time. Now that the cinema is secured, we were able to just get rolling. We've had a few production meetings, talking about equipment, costs and auditions. We organised auditions for the weekend just gone and we will be revealing good news very soon, but out of respect for the all the actors, I won't reveal anything on here. But just to say its been a very busy time. We also have another recce of the cinema this weekend, brief but vital and we have another meeting Monday.

I have also been panicking and painfully trying to put together a decent zine for my Blood Simple piece which was part of The State of Things course. Here's a sneaky preview..

On top of work I've been trying to catch up on writing here, which didn't work out... but I will make up for it with the following planned posts:

The Slumber Party Massacre
10th Film Anniversaries
20th Film Anniversaries
Blind Spot
Around the World: Wales
Watch List August
Against the Crowd Blogathon

I have also in turn been panicking and painfully trying to put together a decent zine for my Blood Simple piece which was part of The State of Things course. Here's a sneaky preview...

So, poor old blog has been neglected lately. But that will change in the next few weeks, got some big plans coming up!!