Wednesday 28 May 2014

The Afternoon Movie: The Flight of Dragons

 Does anyone else remember The Flight of Dragons? My sister and I used to watch this film all the time when we were very young. It's one of the best dragon related films and also just a great story. The animation isn't so beautiful like Studio Ghibli and isn't quite traditional like Disney but I just love the dragons.

Made in 1982, and released by Warner Brothers, the film was released on VHS the film has never been released in the UK on DVD and the US DVD cover is just hideous. The other posters are just as peculiar. The film is based on two sources, The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson and The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson.

Back in 2012, there was talk of a life action version of the film, the project was cancelled the same team started work on something called, The Dragon Prince. No idea of this is still planned. I'm rather glad another version of the film wasn't made.

The story is set in medieval times, where magic is fading and science is beginning to take over. Carolinus, the green wizard, wants to create the last relam of magic before all his powers and his fellow wizard brothers' fade and to provide inspiration for mankind for all his inventions. But the evil red wizard, Ommadon (voiced by Vader himself, James Earl Jones) wants to destroy the world.

Carolinus is instructed by Antiquity to inspire a quest to journey to Ommadon's lands to capture his red crown, the source of all his power. Along with Gorebash and Smergol, Carolinus' dragons, a knight and later on an archer, a rebel dwarf and a resurrected wolf join the quest. But before the quest begins, a distant descendant of Peter, the dragon tamer is summoned from his time, our modern day, to join in the quest.

But after a tragedy and spell gone wrong, Peter (from modern day, also writer of the book, which is also a real book, I own it) end up inside Gorebash. Essentially Gorebash himself isn't in the film much as Peter takes over his body. So along the way the science of how dragons work is explained as Peter learns to live as a dragon. Science + Fantasy = a brilliant film from childhood.

I remember loving the dragons and actually being scared by the evil Ommadon and due the animation and how the characters are drawn, to a young audience I'm not surprised.

Filled with mythical, magical elements, the film plays out as a classic fantasy. There are duel, deaths and drama and a valuable lesson. Learn about science kids! I usually dislike movies with messages, but this is an exception, along with The Phantom Tollbooth, but that story is for another post.

Follow Follow

As well writing my blog I also like to read and follow others. Whether it is film, craft, creative writing or Arrested Development.

Recently my sister and I featured in The Only Place written created by Jo who writes about other bloggers and photographs them where they write their blogs. 

Merideth, crafter and baker extraordinaire, hales from Texas and write the blog, One Sheepish Girl. My sister and other fellow blogger met her when she visited London. We all enjoyed blog talk and tea at Drink Shop Do. 

Laura Lexx, comedienne and actress has a very entertaining blog, filled with a variety of humorous experiences and fictional stories. She also had the main role in my Uni film, Space Detective.

Illustrator Alice Tams, a favourite of mine when visiting the craft fairs, has a brilliant blog, Birds in Hats. I first saw her work in Oh Comely and then followed her to the Crafty Fox Market.

The Bluth Company, the best Arrested Development blog or tumblr, out there. Can't get enough of these moments from one the best TV shows ever created.

One Room With A View has various contributors, all film fans, writing regular features as well as up to date reviews of latest releases.

And of course, my sister's blog, Beard Today, Gone Tomorrow.  A lifestyle blog featuring her travels, her crafts and hers and her fiancĂ©'s hamster, Morriarty.

I also read big name blogs such as Little White Lies, Empire Magazine and Vertigo Comics.

Monday 26 May 2014

The Times, They Need A-Changin'

I've thought about this for a long while now, and I have been spurred on by my sister thinking the same thing about her blog. It's time for a change.

'I could dance with you until the cows comes home. But I'd rather dance with the cows until you come home' - Groucho Marx

This isn't me bragging but I watch many films. I also read quite a bit about films too. What I am trying to say is that the change will be more than just a blog face lift, it will focus more on films, still in my own voice and in my own way - hey maybe even get round to that podcast I dreamed about - but it will be film, with hint of fiction and what I do best, tell strange stories.

I'm using Groucho as a bit of a marker. And for those no so familiar with the Marx Brothers films, oh woe is yours for you are missing out on some of the greatest comedies ever made.

I've got lots of things to catch up on, an afternoon movie post is planned along with more thoughts on minor major characters and of course the May Watch List.

I could blame it all on work (I have been working an awful lot) but part of the blame is Fringe. I know it ended in 2008 but I only ever watched 3 episodes back in 2010? I've caught up rapidly and am already on season 4, thank you Netflix. It was a slow burner but it was worth it. Anyway, I have been consumed by it. This was the same with American Horror Story. I need to finish it and move on. Probably to another series long since dead.

I was also very invested in the book I recently finished, Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov.

Look out for more posts and news on 'the change'.

Sunday 18 May 2014

How To List Your Dragons

Lately I have been re-watching Dragons:Riders of Berk part1 alongside part 2 in anticipation of How to Train Your Dragon 2 which comes out in July. For those who know the film but not the TV series, its brilliant, the series bridges the gap between the two films perfectly, introducing new characters, villains but more importantly, new dragons!

I know before season 4, especially the lead up to season 3 of Game of Thrones, mention of dragons or that 'dragons were coming' was posted everywhere. Well I thought this was appropriate:

At work I had a brief discussion/argument over Toothless the dragon with a colleague. He said that Toothless was not a cool dragon and his example was a screenshot of Toothless looking sweet. I pointed out that he was a Night Fury, said to be born from lightening and death itself, that's pretty darn cool.

I was thinking of other dragons in film and came up with a list, quite short unfortunately, as most dragons appear in terrible films.

Smaug - The Hobbit

The legendary dragon from tales of Middle Earth, the one that destroyed the mighty dwarf kingdom under The Lonely Mountain and laid waste to the city of Dale. Smaug, claims himself to be the only king under the mountain, not Thorin Oakenhshield. Smaug is so powerful that I was compelled to have an illustration of him on my arm. Of course, first portrayed in the book, The Hobbit and first appearing in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. Estmated at 60m, he is a mighty beast, especially having only one weakness, a small black patch on his left side, pierced by a black arrow.

Mushu - Mulan

Although Mulan was a really historical person, Mushu was a creation Disney made up, voiced by Eddie Murphy. In the story as comic relief, he is a small red Chinese dragon, with little strength but is sent to aid Mulan in her quest and help to bring honour to her family. Complete opposite to Smaug.

Gorebash/Smergol - Flight of Dragons

Two of my favourite dragons in film, old Smergol and his nephew Gorebash who is actually taken over by Sir Peter for most the film after a spell went wrong but more on the story later in The Afternoon Movie. Both strong and powerful fire breathers, although as Sir Peter, Gorebash isn't the strongest flyer but both are awesome. Not only can they do all the things that dragons do, fly, brief fire, drink 10 gallons of beer but they can also converse with humans and wizards about science. Clever boys.

Toothless - How To Train Your Dragon

Couldn't miss out Toothless. Not a fearsome name but a deadly and (as long as Hiccup is riding him) an amazing flyer. Apart from being loyal, Toothless is firece and not only is the only one of his kind (so far) he has unique fire power. I sound like I'm trying to sell something but what I'm trying to say is that the dragons of Berk are all fascinating, which makes for excellent films AND TV series.

Here are some other dragons you can include in lists if you so wish.

This diagram shows the height of and scale (I joke) of dragons in literature and film.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

How Close Is Too Close?

Anyone who has taken public transport, during rush hour whether it is London, Berlin or New York, has had their personal space invaded. And its just the worst. Looking anyway that isn't the person right n front of you's face. You end up looking at shoes for the whole journey. But maybe you're like me, if you look down, you'll fall asleep but theres so many people in one carriage you can sleep standing up, the force of the group holding you up. Anyway, people standing too close, terrible.

I was standing in a queue at Starbucks today at lunch, I had to experience this most annoying everyday issue. The person behind me was just standing unnecessarily close.

I noticed this person standing too close when I turn slightly and nearly elbowed her in the face. I edged forward, so did she. I moved to the side and stuck out my foot to bar her off. But she still moved forward, it was so irritating. I felt like turning around, hitting her with my bag and saying 'oh I'm sorry, did I get you? It must because you are standing TOO DAMN CLOSE!' But I didn't, I took a deep breath and stuck my elbow to gain distance. She was standing so close the woman in Starbucks asked if we were paying together!

There are times when you know you shouldn't be that close to someone else you don't know. It's just awkward. Others think it is socially acceptable to sit right next to another person when the bus or train is empty. Several hundred times I have been standing on the platform, waiting for the train and there has literally been a handful of people but 2 of those people decide its a great idea to stand right next to me, so close that I can nudge shoulders with them.

This also happens in the cinema. I end up moving a few times just because people think its ok to disrupt people and their view. Last time this happened I grumbled out loud. A couple had sat right in front of me and my friends so we couldn't see. The cinema was practically empty. So we moved and sat in front of them. Ha! I heard them moaning about it.

Back to standing too close. This is what it feels like:

I thought of doing this to teach the people a lesson but thought again after imagining the consequences.

Everyone is unhappy now.

I think the best way is to trip them up if they try to stand too close, that's what I did when I had to commute to London.

Watch out for those personal space invaders, teach them not to stand so close.

Sunday 11 May 2014

It's Good To Be Bad

Before watching Frank at the cinema (more on that in the Watch List) the usual adverts started. But wait, hold up now, Jaguar have a new and brilliant campaign. Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston all feature, talking about why British actors make the best villains. The fact that they do indeed make the best villains infuriates me and makes me proud.

The advert starts off asking, 'have you ever noticed that all the villains in Hollywood films are British?'

If you watch films and have not noticed this, then I'm sorry but you must be insane.

Alan Rickman - Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves, Die Hard
 An actors who you know as 'the British villain', he had some of the best lines in Robin Hood and no one can for get Hans Gruber.

Mark Strong - Sherlock Holmes, Sunshine, Stardust, The Young Victoria
Mark strong has played 'good' characters too, as well as playing villains with American accents. He is also one those actors who is cast a Middle Eastern character despite being English. 

Tom Hiddleston - Thor, Thor: The Dark World
New to the British villains set, I'm sure we'll see Hiddleston appear as a villian or the likeable character in a period drama. I think the reason why his Loki is not only a fan favourite but the actor himself seems nothing like his character. The best lines he has said does include the insult 'mewling quim'.

Sir Ben Kingsley - Prince of Persia, Iron Man 3, Sexy Beast
I know Sexy Beast is not technically a Hollywood film but everyone says that Kingsley plays the best villain.

Jeremy Irons - Die Hard 3, The Lion King, The Borgias (TV)
For me, Irons is included in the classic villains set along with Rickman and Lee. An animated villain does count as Scar is truely evil, he would not have had the same effect on screen if it had been another voice.

Christopher Lee - Dracula, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Lord of the Rings
Now 91 years old, Lee will always be the original British villain, whether it is in horror, fantasy, action or Science Fiction, he's covered all genres.

Sean Bean - Golden Eye, Don't Say a Word, National Treasure, The Island, Patriot Games, The Hitcher
Bean has been the villain and died in almost all his films, mostly died actually. He has also been one of the best heroes on British TV. Playing the named character in the series, Sharpe. Oh of course Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. Still famous after death.

Benedict Cumberbatch - Star Trek: Into Darkness
A new addition to the British Villain set, this character didn't have to be British but Cumberbatch gave the edge of sophistication and intellectual status this character needed. 

Tilda Swinton - The Chronicles of Narnia, Constantine, Snowpiercer 
The only woman in the list but she's very good. The sharp, piercing voice and striking features, Swinton makes the perfect villain in any setting.

I should also mention Tom Wilkinson too as he has played plenty of villainous roles but mostly with an American accent or in an independent film. This goes the same with Gary Oldman, although he has recently started played 'good guy' roles now. I would like to see some British actresses take the villain role or in fact any role but if I start on that issue I won't stop. 

The reason why Brits are always cast as the villain goes back to the beginning of Hollywood. The actors were American whereas the character actors came from elsewhere. To be successful the Hollywood actors would avoid villain roles, whereas British actors were more willing and flexible. I think its also to do with the accent, a note of sophistication and intimating intelligence This is always associated with the typical 'posh' accent. Brits will continue playing villains though, that's just the way Hollywood works.

To watch the brilliant advert that started this post, click here for more.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Odd Moments with President Snow

I was watching Catching Fire after work, like you do, and I noticed more than ever the weird moments and expressions from President Snow played by Donald Sutherland.

I'm sure there are some Hunger Games fans out that agree. Sutherland, for me is a perfect choice for evil president of Panem, but the few scenes we see him in are, for me creepy yet amusing. For example when he is having breakfast with his granddaughter and asks about her hair, she innocently says everyone one is wearing it in one braid, like Katniss, but Snow pauses and her a dirty haughty look that stays on screen just second too long. Perfect.

The second snow moment is odd but sinister for no reason. He is watching the games with his granddaughter and she very sweetly says how much she would like love someone like Katniss and Peeta, Snow reacts saying 'and so you shall my darling' pause face becomes blank and sinister, 'and so you shall'. Full of intrigue, but why??

The favourite Snow moment just has to be this line:

Brilliantly executed by Sutherland, odd but sinister.

Sunday 4 May 2014

See The Sights in Black and White

I have had a role of black and white film in my camera for months! I started shooting in October when I went to Oxford for the day and after using the last of the role at Vauxhall City Farm the other week, I could get it developed.

Two days later, I picked up my CD (cheaper that way) with my prints on it from Snappy Snap who still develop B&W film. There aren't my best shots - mostly because of the contrast - but they aren't that bad.

Three Sheep - my first site of the farm, 2 black sheep and one white one

View from my Window - the view from the front door from where we stayed in Budapest

The Top - after taking a ride in the funicular up to the castle district, I was sacred of the height but I managed to get a little close to the edge

Silence - while walking around the Bodleian Library I took a couple of photos, mainly of the doors and walls

In the Shadows - walking around the streets of Oxford near to the Radcliffe Camera

Boats on the River - not far from the Botanical Garden 

Got my next role of film ready, watch this black and white space ....

Thursday 1 May 2014

Down On The Farm

Continuing to make use of my days off, before Easter I finally visited Vauxhall City Farm. My sister has been frequenting the farm for ages especially when she lived in Brixton. She told me tales of sheep, lambs and bunnies so I had to visit.

It was a sunny day, excellent weather to observe some cute farm animals. We wondered around, looking for the right turning, I suggested that we should just follow the smells, remembering past trips to rural farms. We were greeted by some sheep and goats AND baby ducklings. They were all huddled together in the 'Nursary' near the entrance. Little lambkins were lazying in the sunshine and the roosters and hens scratched the dirt together. One of the hens, which turned out to be a rooster looked suspiciously like someone my family used to know. I was most excited about the bunnies, all different shapes, sizes and fur colour. Our favourite one was dubbed the 'hairy one'. They were all so adorable, I wanted to take them all home.

We explored the farm a little more, finding a lonely white poney, some smaller animals in cages including an elusive ferret. Just outside from that room were some more sheep and rams being fed by some excited children. Right next to them were a couple a sleepy pigs wallowing in the mud. We had almost reached the edge of the animals' domain where the pond was. There was a majestic looking turkey casually hanging out by the pond along with some ducks. I do love ducks. One of the volunteers walked past, while we were admiring the unusual ducks and tenderly said 'aw, Trevor' in the turkey's direction. Trevor the turkey.

Before we left, my mum was dying to hold a duckling. Unfortunately we weren't allowed but one of the people who worked there held one up for us. He was so fluffy and excitable.

After wandering around staring at cute animals for the better part of the morning we had worked up an appetite. We took tea and home made goodness (food) at the The Tea House Theatre that was literally a minute walk from the farm. I had some amazing pumpkin and coriander soup and sampled some ceylon tea. A day off well spent.