Saturday 27 April 2013

April: Hit, Miss or Maybe

It's been a good month for HITs. 

1. Soldiers of Fortune

From the trailer and the cast list I thought this film would be a dream come true. I was very wrong. The plot was paper thin so I assumed it would be a good bad film. The cast, Sean Bean AND Dominic Monghan in the same film!! Amazing luck. The story is slighting complicated, following a disgraced solider, Christain Slater, who is then hired to run a boot camp for 5 millionaires who are paying for the experience of being a solider in live combat but in no real danger. The money they have paid goes towards fighting a revolution on this island. It wasn't exactly clear what was going on there. The script is terrible, the millionaires were cast perfectly but very stereotypical so it was hard to enjoy even that part. Everything else about this film was awful. The film tries to be something bigger but it was obviously restricted in budget and talent (some cast members excluded). I can see why it was a straight to DVD film. MISS

2. Slumdog Millionaire

Finally saw this Oscar winner. I waited because the hype annoyed me. Petty, I know. The film was brilliant, I don't see why some people hate it but can't see why such fuss was made about it. Danny Boyle is a fantastic director and that should definitely be celebrated. For the ten other people who haven't seen it yet, the story is about Jamal and his journey from being an orphaned slumdog to winning Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The story spans years and is told in flashback. Jamal is arrested for allegedly cheating on the show after he wins one million rupees. He explains how he knows the answers and his life story and his long search for his love, Latika. It's a great story, based on the novel, 'Q&A' by Vikas Swarup and the direction is brilliant. It was great film but I don't understand the hype. HIT

3. A Late Quartet

Never has a film made me cry as much since Where The Wild Things Are. When I say cry, I mean well up and a tear falls. That's a lot for me. And all my tears belong to the master, Christopher Walken. That guy deserves an award dammit. The poster basically says it all. When I came out of the cinema my parents said they'd never seen me so moved. This is true. The story is about a quartet, The Fugue, a famous group of musicians who are approaching they're 25th anniversary and with the announcement that Peter (Christopher Walken) is suffering from illness and might be able to play anymore, the other three members unleash secrets, lies, betrayal which could break them up for good. There are basically 5 people in this film, the Quartet and then two of the members' daughter. Each cast member has their own story to tell and no one is ahead of the other, they are equal, and that is actually one of the themes in the film. The music is amazing, the cast are mesmerizing and I cannot recommend this film more. HIT

4. The Place Beyond the Pines

Spanning 15 years, the is split into three parts, three stories that intertwine. Set in Schenectady, New York. In the first part, Handsome Luke (Ryan Gosling) is motorcycle stuntman who travels around with a carnival. Its been a year since he was in town and sees his last fling (Eva Mendes). She had his child and now he wants to provide form them. He leaves the carnival and starts robbing banks. The second part follows Avery (Bradley Cooper) an ambitious cop who wants to move up in the ranks and tries to bring down corruption in the station. The third part is about AJ (Emory Cohen) and Jason (Dane DeHaan) meet at school and become unlikely friends no knowing the connection their fathers' have. The soundtrack sets this story of fathers and sons so well mixed with the long shots of a noraml average town while holding onto secrets of the past. The mirrored moments that a particular father and son share, 15 years apart is heart felt, even though the characters are questionable. The cast were brilliant and it was good to see Bradley Cooper playing against type, as well as seeing more of Dane DeHaan. The English meaning of Schenectady is loosely derived from the Mohawk word 'the place beyond the pines'. HIT

5. Pitch Perfect

Described as the grown up Glee, its not, its better! It all about the a capella! Set in a nondescript College, moody music obsessed Beca moves in to hall. Her father seeing she doesn't want to be there but wants her to have an education makes a deal, join a group and make friends and he will let her go to LA to pursue a music producer career. So she joins an all female a capella group, the Barden Belles. They compete in competitions against their rivals the Treblemakers and sing some awesome sings. We all know that Rebel Wilson steals the show as Fat Amy but its the group that make the film amazing. Its funny and everyone can sing which is an extra bonus, thank god. The added commentary from Elizabeth Banks and John Micheal Higgins is just the hilarious cherry on the a capella cake. I hear rumours of a follow up which is excellent news. Sequels are usually uncalled for but in this case, I want more!! HIT

6. Seven Psychopaths

I wish I had written this. I am a big fan of In Bruges and an even bigger fan of Martin McDonagh. I laughed until I couldn't breath at his play, The Lieutenant of Inishmore. The story is so twisted brilliantly delivered I was smiling for (most of) the entire film. Some scenes were laugh out loud but the characters (I really love character pieces) were so well written. Everything knitted together. What starts off as a film about a drunk Irish screenwriter trying to finish his script, Seven Psychopaths, turns into a dognapping gone wrong, turned revenge feud, turned desperate shootout. Marty (based loosely on Martin McDonagh himself when trying to finish In Bruges) is an alcoholic in denial trying to finish his latest screenplay. His friend Billy Bickle, actor and dognapper on the side, tries to help with ideas for psychopaths. Meanwhile, crime boss Charlie Costello is angry, his beloved dog has been kidnapped. Billy and Hans, his business partner, have kidnapped the dog, Bonny. From there, everything goes crazy and wrong, partly in a good way. The seven psychopaths of the story are not the characters on the poster, well not all of them, but they are the characters that Marty has included in his screenplay. Each character has a background and plot line, very detailed, very good. Like Marty when he meets one who answered an advert, he is on the edge of his seat, as was I when I watch this film. HIT

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Postcard Love

I have boxes, bags, draws, walls full of pretty postcards. I pick them up from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes I get carried away I don't realise they aren't free . . . .  but then I realise my mistake and buy them.

My point is, if I see a postcard I like, I have to have it.

The postcards below, have been driving me crazy. In Curzon cinemas' magazine, they said they would be available in the cinemas, but alas, I never found them. All winners for the 'Stoker' film competition and all a mystery.

By Ricardo Bessa
 by Dan Gray
 by Daniel Weatheritt
by Ainsley Knott

by Emma Saynor

If anyone sees these postcards ANYWHERE please let me know, its driving me crazy!

Tuesday 23 April 2013

That Darn Coat!

I think everyone in the UK can all shout out loud 'I CAN FINALLY TAKE MY DARN COAT OFF!' The sun was out today, can you believe it, a week day. The sun has only seemed to make an appearance on the weekends and scarcely at best.

It has been 6 long months of wearing our winter coats and bundling up in scarves, hats and what not. The Game of Thrones phrase could not have been more perfect, 'Winter is coming'. For a while I actually thought winter was going to last until Summer! Now I just hope that Spring stays and makes everything cheerful.

No more restrictive, uncomfortable, bulky, annoying coats. Everyone breeeeeath. But don't hold your breath, April showers could still happen. Fingers crossed.

Monday 15 April 2013

Edible Pink Delight

I don't usually say this but I made a pink cake on the weekend.

I haven't baked/cooked anything fancy since Christmas but after continuously seeing a picture of a pink lemonade cake on my computer (there as a reminder to make it) I finally broke down and decided that it was time I made a damn cake!

I found a very basic but delicious recipe courtesy of Paula Deen. It worked pretty well for my first try if I do say so myself. I cut out the middle to make it look like a doughnut . . . . not sure why now. Anyway, the cake went down a treat to all who tried it. I will definitely be making it again.

butter for coating pan
1white cake mix, plus any additional ingredients the package directions call for
3 tablespoon pink lemonade drink powder
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

8oz confectioners sugar
115g unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoon lemonade concentrate (Robinsons will do)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 170c. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper.

For the cake, in a large bowl, stir together the cake mix and lemonade powder. Prepare the cake batter according to the package directions, using any additional ingredients called for (eggs, milk, water, oil, etc…). Stir the lemon zest into the batter. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minuets. Carefully turn cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat together the confectioners’ sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in the remaining ingredients until combined. Using an offset spatula spread the top of the cake with a layer of frosting. Add some sprinkles or sweets and leave to settle.

Later, serve the cake with iced Pink Lemonade tea and enjoy.

Friday 12 April 2013

The Afternoon Movie: Castaways

Lazy weekend afternoon, what better time than movie time. Its another classic from Disney. I said the title to my mum and she just said, 'oh no, that film was terrible'. I strongly disagree.

Again, awful poster.

In Search of the Castaways was one of the childhood films you saw by accident and that you wanted to watch again and again. Similar to Swiss Family Robinson as they are both Disney, both adapted from novels and they are adventures.

Made in 1962 and adapted from Jules Verne's novel 'Captain Grant's Children, it stars Hayley Mills in her third of six Disney films. In a way she was one of the original Mickey Mouse child actors gang. Also she was in the original 'Parent Trap'. Look it up, its pretty bad. It also stars that awful french actor, Maurice Chevalier from that terrible film 'Gigi'. My mum keeps telling me he was a traitor during the war or something. One last film fact, the film was directed by Robert Stevenson who directed none other than 'Mary Poppins'.

Moving on to the story, Hayley Mills plays Mary Grant who, along with her brother Robert and their friend, Professor Paganel persuade Lord Glenarven and his son John to go in search of the Grant siblings' father, Captain Grant who went missing at sea in one of Glenarven's ships. They use a message they found in a bottle as a starting point for their adventures in the search for the castaways.

See how I worked the title into the story?

The adventures, in true Disney style of the time, not to mention Verne's style too, were actually quite dangerous, as well filled with acting in front of moving screens (which makes it that more delightful). They meet Indians in South America, get caught in an earthquake, are stranded in a giant tree during a flood and thunder storm, get caught up with gun runners in Austraila and eventually end up in New Zealand where they are captured by a Maori tribe. Don't worry there is a happy ending, it's Disney guys.

There is only one downer to whole thing and that is the annoying songs (there's only two, thank god) sung by the annoying Frenchman. Its a hilarious adventure ride with some odd geography exciting new stuff, New Zealand hadn't really featured much in Disney, not at all really, before this film.

One last thing before you all rush off to watch it, the actor Keith Hashmere who played Robert Grant, looked exactly how I thought Tintin would look, if a British film of Tintin had been made in the 60s and if he had been a bit older.

Now go and enjoy this odd gem.

Saturday 6 April 2013

An Supernatrual Interlude

It's been a pretty tough/awful week. The highlight was finally buying a camera to replace the lost one. I still have no idea where it is. Haven't seen it since Christmas.

I could say, 'would you mind excusing me from this week so I get my shiz together and write my blog post after the weekend' but I thought that was just lazy or rude, I'm not sure which. But to be honest the most interesting thing to happen this week, camera aside, was my small blue clock which I have had since I was 8, stopped, at 19:15. I thought it got messed up because of the time change, clocks went forward. I sorted it out but when I went to check the time, it was right back to 19:15, no joke.

Strange things happen in this house, its spooky at times. I'm sure I've told my friends at some point about the moving toilet paper rolls and the tissue boxes that moved by themselves. Or the time I heard something crash fall downstairs at night and when I went to see what had happened, nothing was wrong, everything was fine. That freaked me out. The worst one was when I saw the shadow of a small boy in my doorway. I should note that all these strange things happen when I'm alone in the house. It unnerves me.

Anyone who wonders why I jump at everything, well this is why. An overactive imagination and I live with a ghost. Or ghosts. That involves more investigation. Or I could just call Bill Murray and the crew.

Monday 1 April 2013

A Storm is Coming

It's been a year, Season 2 has come out already, it must mean that the now, annual event is happening.

Game of Thrones has returned!!!

For those in USA its today, for those in UK its tonight, if that makes sense.

This was just a little something to get myself geared up for A Storm of Swords.

And that is in fact my family's real motto.

A storm is coming and we're going to love it!

March Hit, Miss or Maybe

1. Premium Rush
I have never seen a thriller/action film centered around couriers in New York City, until now. I like Joseph Gorden-Levitt and I like Michael Shannon, but this film was only ok. First off I really disliked JGL's cocky not it all risk it all character and the story itself was weak. He is sent to pick up and then deliver a mysterious envelope which is revealed early on and means nothing to anyone but two people. Most of the film is just bikes chasing other bikes. The redeeming element to this film is the strangely hilarious Michael Shannon, the future Zod of the new Superman film. He plays 'the bad guy' corrupt gambling addicted cop who chases JGL's Wiley, yes like the coyote, through New York city. Any interactions he has are funny, not sure if its intentional or not. Basically, the cop wants the envelope but Wiley wants to deliver it. Saying all this, it was a great distraction and fun to watch, but if you were looking for something with more bite, I don't recommend. MAYBE

2. Stoker
I loved everything about this film. I am an admirer of Park Chan-Wook's film 'I am a Cyborg' and everyone keeps going on about 'Oldboy' so my interest was peaked. Written by Prison Break actor, Wentworth Miller, the script was voted into the top 10 best unmade screenplays in 2010. The story was influenced by Hitchcock's 'Shadow of a Doubt' and not Bram Stoker or vampires. It has been described as a horror film but not in the conventional sense, there is barely if any, gore and surprises, at least that's how I felt. When India's father dies in a car accident, under mysterious circumstances, she is left with her estranged mother. But at the funeral she is introduced to Uncle Charlie, her father's younger brother whom she didn't know exsisted. No sooner has Uncle Charlie moved into the family home, people in the town start to go missing. Amazing trailer, that and the beautiful poster (not pictured) got me hooked. This is a masterpiece. HIT

3. Jack Reacher

I still have no idea what was going on in this film. Is it an action film? Is it a drama? A mystery thriller? No idea. All I know is that you don't mess with Reacher, no not Reacher he's so intimidating, he's dangerous, you can't find Reacher unless he finds you. I can't really explain what happens apart from, five people are killed, the DA's daughter is defending the shooter as she believes hes innocent. And then Jack Reacher gets involved then guns happen, beatings, snarky comments, and that's about all I can understand. The plot kept getting weird and changing direction, it was all over the place and the ending was sudden, I think. MISS

4. OZ: The Great and Powerful

I had been dying to see this film for a while. I love The Wizard of Oz and all its spin offs. Like Alice in Wonderland, I love the magical worlds, but where Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland disappointed me so much, OZ was amazing. You can see everything fall into place, although it took a while to get there ( long film) it was magical. The influence from the Judy Garland musical is all over this film and in a good way. It begins in the 1930s where Oz an amateur magician performs at a carnival, he is carried away into a tornado in a ht air balloon while escaping an angry husband of some woman he seduced. He lands in OZ and meets three witches. They believe he is the Wizard of the prophecy that the now dead king predicted. But of course he isn't. It's a great story and definitely belongs on the big screen. HIT

5. For a Good Time Call . . .

I was quite surprised at how funny this film was. Surprised because I thought it was just going to be a run of the mill girls make a sex line comedy but it is actually about friendship and starting up your own business. Actress Lauren Miller, who stars in the film wrote it with Katie Anne Naylon and they based the script on their experiences together as college room mates. The part of 'Katie' in the film was specifically wrote for Ari Graynor who is brilliant and should be in more films! The story is about two girls who disliked each other in college but after Lauren breaks up with her boyfriend and is left homeless her and Katie's mutual friends sets them up as room mates. This is when Lauren finds out that Katie works as a sex line operator. After she loses her job the two work together and create a legitimate business. It isn't a gross out comedy, it is genuinely funny and honest. Definitely worth seeking this out. HIT

6. The Croods

Everyone loves family movies and this is the definition of that. About a family of cavemen who live in a cave. They survive by only coming out when the sun is up and hunting as a team, for little reward. When Epp, the teenage daughter, meets Guy, he tells her the world is ending and that he traveling to the distant mountain for higher ground. Of course the family decide, after their cave is destroyed, to join him on this quest. Lots of family bonding and learning how to give way to new ideas, which is hard for cavemen. This was a welcome break in constant TV shows that were mainly all serious. It did better at the box office than Dreamworks previous release 'Rise of the Guardians', I can see why, even though I did prefer 'Rise of the Guardians'. This is more about family the other about myth. Aagin, no point in 3D, 2D is beautiful. HIT

7. Trance

After months of waiting, Danny Boyle's new film arrived. As I tried to convince my Dad to see it, I got as far as saying 'It's Danny Boyle's new film about this guy who works at an auction house and then he steals this painting' and my Dad said, 'yeh that sounds good, we'll see it'. But I'll continue the synopsis for those who aren't so familiar. Simon, an art auctioneer becomes involved with a group of criminals when they plan to steal Goya's Witches in the Air painting. But during the robbery, Simon is knocked unconcious and can't remember where the painting is. They use a hypnotherapist to help recover the missing painting. Of course there are twists aplenty and intrigue galore. It's a brilliant cast and its always good to see Vincent Cassel play this particular role (don't want to spoil it). The soundtrack is also quite perfect. Go watch it, the film is out now for you viewing pleasure. HIT