Friday 31 May 2013

May: Hit, Miss or Maybe

All films this month have been HITs, its been that good a month at the movies. So instead I have rated them out 5, like old times, just to clarify which films were better than others.

1. The Paperboy

Based on the novel by Pete Dexter (which I tried to read before the film and then ended up only reading half before, half after), the story is about brothers Ward and Jack Jansen. Ward is a newspaper man, he writes, with his partner Yardley, for the Miami Times. After the fiance of convicted murderer Hilarly Van Wetter, offers evidence of his innocence, the newpaper men return to Ward's rural hometown to investigate. Ward hires his younger brother Jack to be their driver for the duration of their stay. Jack becomes of obsessed with Charlotte Bless, the 'fiance'. Things take a violent turn when Van Wetter becomes involved. In the book the narrator is Jack but in the film it is the Ward family's maid, Anita. After reading the book, that didn't make sense as she isn't present for most of the plot but apart from that, the film played out like a downbeat 60's/70's thriller and it was good. The gritty, sexual violent scenes are spread out so the audience doesn't feel disgusted the whole time. It is actually quite funny in places too, not sure if it was intentional either but the story, altered for the screen, touches on all the themes of the day such as racisim, homophobia and sexual experimentation as well as murder and how newspapers work. Worth seeing, but wait until DVD rental.

2. I'm So Excited

Just like the classic Pedro Almodovar films, this film is full of crazy characters, everyone is over dramatic, every line just flows off the tongue and is hilarious, with added campness this film is brilliant. If, like me, you're a fan of Almodovar, you will not be disappointed with this film. After a plane setting out to Mexico from Spain experiences problems making them unable to land, the three male flight attendents do their best to keep the passengers calm. First by drugging all the economy passengers and staff members and then by getting the business class passengers drunk, high and entertaining them cabaret acts. The central piece is scene where the three campest flight attendants Spain could muster perform the song 'I'm So Excited'. It's amazing. While to story focuses on the passengers in turn and the problems the staff are facing, the plot is all over the place but is doesn't matter. The characters are so entertaining you just want them to carry on with this flight for longer. More Pedro, more of this please!

3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

(the best poster was in french)
I don't really like John Wayne. But I do love James Stewart and I was so glad that his character wasn't weak in this film. My opinion of John Wayne has changed too. He's actually pretty good in this, except for his crazy scene near the end, it was a tad over the top. This is one of the all time classic westerns, dramas, classics in general, it always features on the 'best film' list of some sort. I can see why. With three of the best male actors (James Stewart, John Wayne, Lee Marvin) of that time the story becomes elevated to a film that had me on the edge of my seat. Beginning in flashback with an older Ransom Stoddard (Stewart) returning to a small town with his wife Hallie. It soon unfolds that they are there for the funeral of Tom (Wayne) an friend. The story then starts with Stoddard arriving at this same town years previous, he is a lawyer and has been sent out west to start a firm. He is beaten and robbed by the notorious criminal Liberty Valance (Marvin) and after being found by Tom, he is determined to fight back, but not with guns like Tom and the rest fight with, but with the law and justice. The question that anyone who has never seen this film is, who is the man who shoots Valance? I wouldn't tell for anything. Watch it and find out.

4. Iron Man 3

I love Iron Man, but its a 3 because of a few stupid things that's all. This was meant to mark the start of Marvel phase 2 but it feels more like the close to phase 1. I did not like the end to this film either. I have had so many arguments with people in the past about how superhero films are good, fun and have great characters and they are NOT 'boy films' but I'm fed up with it. Marvel movies are awesome, fanatsy/science fiction is fun. Iron Man, Tony Stark is suffering from anxiety attacks from the Avengers Assemble events, specifically flying into a wormhole then falling out of it. In this film his new nemisis, The Manderin is threatening the world by using exploding people. He is a new kind of terrorist that destroys Stark's home and almost, the Iron Man suit. With the second best twist of the Spring, the film was brilliant. And War Machine was barely involved, just the way it should be. Old faithfuls will love it, newcomers too, but those who don't like fantasy, comics or sci-fi, just don't watch it.

5. Star Trek: Into Darkness

This film had the best twist of the Spring, even if it was just a name. But oh, that name. Even though the marvelous Benedict Cumberbatch has joined the 'British villain in an American Movie' club I still think he's brilliant. Cumberbatch plays super terrorist villain, John Harrison (or does he?) who bombs innocent people and attacks Star Fleet's head quarters. Kirk and his crew are on the case to find out why and how he committed these crimes. Excellent follow up to the mind and time bending first film. The changes made in the first film made it possible to re boot the Star Trek franchise and making the sequel darker with twists and gasps was perfect. I don't anything about the original Star Treks apart from what I've learned from Futurama episodes and The Big Bang Theory, so I can safely say I'm a fan of the new. Apart from the main plot of the film, the side story and lack of connection on Spock's side where he is unable to show emotion is actually really sad and means more at the end. Great film.

6. The Great Gatsby
To be fair I have already written a post for this. But just to say again, its really good, I cannot stress that enough. Those critics out there are fussy. Its like the book and its my favourite novel. 4/5

7. Populaire

Firstly, the adverts are wrong, this is not a 'Mad Men meets The Artist' is better than that. It is nothing like The Artist (a great but silent and black and white film) and it only share costumes and 1959 setting with Mad Men, that is all. This film is amazing, I was smiling all through, it is a romantic comedy that is actually good! The romance side played more into the typewriter until later. Set in Normandy, France. Rose Pamphyle, a young modern woman or at least she likes to think so, from a small village wants to be a secretary but her only skill is her typewriting speed. Never the less, she gets a job as Louis Echard's secretary. It is clear that she is not very good at being a secretary but Echard is intrigued by her speedy typewriting and decides to train her for the Speed Typewriting Competition.  From there they grow closer not only as trainer and athlete because, yes speed typewriting is a sport too. It is a delightful film and both leads are entertaining as well as heart warming. This is the definition of a feel good film and it does make you want to get a typewriter. I can't say how much I adore this story, its so new and fresh even though under neath the costumes, setting, typewriting, it is a rom-com but with spirit and drama too.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Ain't Nothing Like an Old Movie

Today (20th May) is Old Movie Day!

Not only is it an annual tradition I started three years ago but today I is the day I also PASSED MY DRIVING TEST! It's been a battle but I've finally got there thanks to my instructor and family for putting up with my stress. Jump in the air, freeze frame of joy.

To celebrate today, I put on Rear Window, a classic and my favourite Hitchcock and it also happens to be Jimmy Stewart's birthday. He was born on this day in 1908.

'Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.'

I also watched 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' for the first time.  But more on that in a later post this month.

So just a short mention about Old Movie Day and the fact I'm ecstatic I finally passed my test!


Saturday 18 May 2013

Can You Repeat The Past?

You most certainly can't! When I say this I mean that the previous adaptations of the great novel, The Great Gatsby have been nothing like the book.

Baz Luhrmann's visionary, yes visionary, take on the classic novel is amazing. It reminded me of his previous films, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge then made me forget about the awful Australia.

After the film had finished I tried to listen to the not as bad as I thought soundtrack. But the three ignorant women sitting in front of me talked over it. They were discussing the film in a way that was clear that they had never read the book. They kept saying they didn't understand the music. I didn't understand why that was the only thing they could talk about. Fools.

The casting choices were perfect. Leonardo DiCaprio is Jay Gatsby. Better than Robert Redford, he played Gatsby like the modest gentlemen and his obsession with Daisy was weird or disturbing but delusional and hopeful. As for Tobey Maguire, he was excellent as Nick Carraway. In all the adaptaions, Nick has never been played to what he is, a watcher, he sees all. I see him as the giant billboard eyes of Doctor T.J. Ecklesburg, watching over the Valley of Ashes and all the characters in the story. In the film there is a connection that Nick is somewhat an image of F Scott Fitzgerald himself. If I had to pick a character to be, I'd be Nick Carraway.

Like Baz Luhrmann's previous films, the opening sequence to the film is amazing. Black and white film that changes to a bright shiny black and gold Art Deco crazy panels (the poster colours) that opens onto a isolated building complete with dock covered in ice and snow. The introduction is similar to book but in the film there is someone for Nick, the narrator to talk to, which I didn't like at first but in time it made sense and gave reason for the character to write.

I have read a review that said the film had no heart. This is a complete lie. At the 'heart' of the film is a great love story. On one side, a man who is so in love with Daisy that he created an extravagant lifestyle and made his money from crime, and then on the other side is Daisy, she is in love with Gatsby, that is true, but she craves money and security more. There is heart in the film and it isn't just from the romantic story but through the friendship between Nick and Gatsby which I don't think is focused on enough. In this film it touched upon it more, in narration though. We, the audience didn't necessarily see the days out spent together but the way Nick talks about his friend Gatsby, he admires this man and mentions several times that he's never met/seen a man like this before or since. Seen as admiration or friendship, I think that the great friendship was addressed more.

The coursework I did on the book was pretty bad. The drafts I wrote were far better, my teacher at college even said so. He said that I obviously understood book and the themes but my final peice was nothing like my work leading up to it. I think its because I wanted to write about another subject about the book but the question that was used was rubbish. Or maybe I just wanted to read the book frak the coursework.

The film, like the book, was beautiful. Again, the film was visionary with not only the choice of music but the way the film was shot and edited. It was fast and furious in the right places and then slow and sweet for the right places in the story. I loved it and if you loved the book, this film is loyal to it and has spark of orignality that is actually good!

Only problem with it, Myrtle is meant to be slightly chubby and she wasn't, she was a thin stick and therefore didn't quite seem like the character she was meant to be. It needed a fat Myrtle.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Won't You Join In Old Sport?

The Great Gatsby.

My favourite novel. I first read in, like may other people probably did, while studying my A levels. It was for course work for English Literature. I absolutely fell in love with it. I've always loved the 20's, F. Scott Fiyzgerald now has his own shelf in my bookcase, and the characters where so different, most of them delusional and selfish, and the narrator wasn't the main character. I usually read detective type or science fiction but there is something about this book that captures my interest.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published in 1925, at the height of the jazz age. Fitzgerald had hoped for it to sell 75, 000 copies but sold only 25,000 copies in his lifetime. Like most masterpieces, The Great Gatsby found fame after the author's death. Today, the book is described as ' a classic 20th century American fiction' and has sold 25 million copies worldwide.

For those who aren't familiar with the very famous novel, the story is set in the summer of 1922. It is told from the perspective of Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate and World War 1 veteran. He takes a job in New York and rents a small house on Long Island next door to the mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby. He also lives across the bay from his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom. As the summer continues, Nick eventually receives an invitation from Gatsby to attend one of his lavish parties. Along with Nick, is Jordan, a golfer who accompanies him to the party where they both meet Gatsby himself. It is through Jordan that Nick finds out Daisy knew Gatsby back in 1917, when they shared a romantic relationship and Gatsby is still in love with Daisy.

This diagram explains the characters and their relationships with each other but beware SPOILERS. Sorry if its a little on the small/blurry side.

There have been 5 film adaptations of the novel, the 1974 version starring Robert Redford as Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy, being the most famous. But now, Austrailian director Baz Luhrmann has created another, what looks to be , spectacular vision. The 1974 adaptation wasn't great. We watched in college after we had read the book. I thought it was very disappointing. Gatsby was well cast but that was about it. It lacked heart and soul and the other characters just wafted through the film. As soon as this new film was announced I was ecstatic!

Above is a link to an interactive book by Baz Luhrmann about the making of the film.

Everybody and everywhere has gone 'Gatsby' and Fitzgerald crazy. I thought it might be overload but i can't get enough of the 20's style appearing in shop windows and articles in magazines about where the best 20's style cocktails are served. The feel of 'Gatsby' is seeping through and I don't know about other places but London is embracing it more so than I imagined. Harrods has displays in their famous windows, which I'm hoping to go and stare at later this month. Oxford Circus tube station has been transformed (see below) and novel has been turned into a ballet and is currently on at the Sadler's Wells Theatre.

 Here is a link to some 'Gatsby' type places, some ideas of what to do at the weekend after you seen the film. 

Along with these goings ons, the magnificent posters are everywhere you go. I wished that the soundtrack could also be playing too, in the tube/train station. The soundtrack may be slightly modern but its so good. I sampled it, loved it, bought it. All the songs, I think, will fit well, apart from the songs by Jay Z, Fergie and Will.I.Am.

 I simply love these posters. Gotta collect them all (but in postcard form perhaps).

I have to mention Out of Print clothing, I am obsessed with them. They celebrate the world's greatest stories through fashion. They print book covers from classic novels and children's books on tshirts, jumpers, bags and stationary. They are also in partnership with Books for Africa and working towards donating books to those who don't have access to books at all. For each product sold, one book is donated to a community.

I can vouch for their products, my tote bag is as strong as an ox and my jumper is so darn cosey and warm.

They also have their own Gatsby HQ set up. With new t-shirt designs in many new colours (I have my eye on a purple on) and an amazingly addictive game on their website its worth having a look an soon you'll be swinging into the Gatsby spirit old sport!

I'm certainly obsessed!

Now if you'll excuse I'm going to start practicing my dance moves so I am ready for the film on Friday! Enjoy your Gatsby filled week and end!

Saturday 11 May 2013

Spectacular Spectacular!

Last night was one of the funnest (is that a word?) cinema experiences I've ever had!

Of course it was the Moulin Rouge sing-a-long at the Prince Charles Cinema. It was full to the brim of glitter, crazy costumes, plastic cups of booze and love for the amazing musical that brought musicals back to the big screen. The cinema was sold out, people with tickets were queuing to get in, it was almost chaos. It was beautiful.

I saw Moulin Rouge on my 12th birthday and fell in love with it. It is the movie (along with Lord of the Rings) that made me want to work in film. That is indeed a powerful film. I think everyone in the room had experienced some kind of special connection with it or like the Spanish sounding guys sat behind us in the cinema, just really loved Ewan McGregor.

When we were all herded into the cinema, we were all presented with a glittery hat, a glow stick, paper money, a party popper and a tissue. This was similar to the Labyrinth quote-a-long where we were all given goody bags with items to use throughout the film. All the item were used for different parts of the film. For those who haven't seen the film this may a tad confusing.

Glittery hat: used to wear throughout and to dance with during 'Rhythm of the Night sequence'
Glow Stick: to be used at the start when the conductor appears at the bottom of the screen
Paper money: to be waved when Satine sings 'Sparkling Diamonds'
Party Popper: to be popped at the end of act one
Tissue: Used to sob into when Satine dies (not a spoiler, you find out at the start)

Complete with intermission too, this mean that many people in the audience was smashed by the second act. But with a screening of a musical where literally everybody is singing at the top of their lungs and yelling out the lines anyway, it didn't actually matter. It was amazing. I too was singing along to all but one of the songs. I didn't sing 'One Day I'll Fly Away' it was my vocal break, I had to gear up to sing the best song ever, 'Elephant Love Medley', which is many songs in one. Of course everyone stood up for that one. Oh we did sort of jig along to 'Because We Can' cancan.

An epic night. I can't wait til it comes around again.

Taken at intermission, everyone went to the bar.
 Although I might have to rethink the hat. I was still covered in glitter in the morning.

Monday 6 May 2013

Being Creative Again

I had a whole May the 4th Be With You post but drastic times calls for me not posting it. As my working circumstances have changed, or will be changed by next month, I was a little distracted.

Unfortunately I can't talk about it on here, just in case 'they' have spies. All I can say is that its been a terrible week.

But it did spur me on to actually start writing something. Again its a short but at least its something. The story will be continued on the 'FICTION' page.

Late Nights

 I can feel his breath on my neck before he speaks. This used to make me nervous but now I know he’s there, I am almost at ease.

I would go to the late night screenings every Thursday night, just because I preferred to see the movies in an empty theatre. No talking, no noises, no disruption, no people full stop. Maybe one or two people would wonder in either drunk or bored but otherwise I had the place to myself, just the way I liked it. But then he showed up, looking for me.

I don’t like conducting business when I’m trying to relax, trying to escape from the day. But he had insisted. It made sense, he said. No one would suspect anything, especially if this was my normal routine. Even after I protested, he kept showing up. I was annoyed at first, but I then I just got used to it and eventually gave in.

‘How’ve been?’ He whispers in my ear. ‘I ain’t seen you in a while, you been keep yourself busy?’ He sit down behind me. ‘Or you just been avoiding me.’

I don’t speak. I stare at the screen. I put my hand up and make a stop sign. I hear him sigh and lean back in his chair. He knows me. He was late so I got interested in the movie. He won’t have my attention for a few minutes.

He starts to complain. ‘Ah man, whats this damn movie even about? What the hell is that?’

On screen, a young is soaking wet as she burst through the doors of a barn. She has been running through the rain. She is obviously upset. She falls to floor and breaks down in tears. A figure moves in the shadows but the girl doesn’t notice until the figure has fully immerged. She looks up and gasps. She gets up quickly and stands so close to the now closed barn doors as if she would slip right through them. The figure is young man, dressed all in black. He speaks to her. She looks at him again and recognises him.

Satisfied I know what will follow this scene, I turn my head slightly to the right. ‘I’ve been right here Jack.’

I hear him move forward. ‘Right here huh, well how else have you been?’

‘I’ve been just fine. Been taking it easy.’ I look back at the screen.

The young woman is crying again but now she is in the arms of the man in black.

‘How have you been Jack?’

‘I’m sure you‘ve heard the rumours going round.’

I pause. ‘I have.’ He sighs again and moves in his seat, uncomfortable about my knowledge. ‘Does it matter?’ I say.

‘No. I guess it doesn’t matter, not anymore.’
‘But the rumours are true, aren’t they Jack.’
‘I thought so.’ I turn back to the screen. The previous scene has ended. The young man in black walks along a deserted road, alone. ‘Doesn’t bother me. You gotta do what you gotta do.’ It’s a cliché I know, what it’s true, he had to do it, he had no choice. I’ve had to make those choices before so I wasn’t going to judge him for it.

‘Not everyone agrees with you.’ I hear him move in his seat, leaning back. ‘I got some people telling me to step aside. Step aside from what? Others are saying I should just leave. But then I get told, don’t do it again, like its no big deal. I’m not big leagues. I just get a telling off because I’m just the messenger.’ He tuts to himself and sits quietly for a few moments.

On screen the young man in black, still on that deserted road, stops and turns to see a grey car driving towards him. It pulls up in front of him. He talks to the driver and passenger, they seem to know each other. The passenger hands him a case through the window, gives him a warning then the car drives away, leaving the young man in black alone, again.

‘Have you got a message for me then Mr Messenger?’ I ask. I can feel him get closer, his breath touching my ear. ‘Go to Gardenside Park, Sunday at 3pm. It’s the south corner door. That’s all.’

‘Anything else I need to know?’
‘You’re on your own for this one. It’s basically just a follow up.’
‘That’s it? I need more information.’
‘There were three guys but there is only one at this address. He refused to pay his debt, even after Luther and the other had a talk with him. He’s left handed.’
‘Left handed. Ok. I can sort this out.’

There is pause while he moves even closer to me, he is practically inside my ear. When exhales I feel the hairs on my neck tingle. It’s an odd and unwelcome feeling.  He whispers to me. ‘Now can we talk?’

‘Sure Jack, we can talk.’

When Jack first insisted on having our meetings in the old cinema, I didn’t like it. I felt like he was invading my space.