Friday 29 August 2014

Welcome to Hill Valley

I've been to The Ink & Paint Club and The Grand Budapest Hotel and now, I've been to Hill Valley, thanks to the Future Cinema and Secret Cinema gang.

They truly have out done themselves this time. When the Back to the Future tickets went up for sale no would have guessed the trauma when the event was cancelled for the first few night (rumoured there were rights issues) and the amazement when people saw the pictures, they built an entire town, Hill Valley.

Everyone knew where it was, the clock tower could been seen from far around. Apart email from all the prospective stores in the town, all set in the 50s, just like the film. We all got dressed up in as 50s gear as we could and adopted our town identities.

The journey began when we were told to meet at a certain station, from there we were greeted and shown the way by several people with red sashes. Our first marker on route was a sign saying 'Hill Valley 2 miles'. This was the exact same distance that Marty McFly himself from the film had to walk when he had to first crashed landed in the time machine in the 1950s.

We could see the Clock Tower in the distance and the excitement mounted. We were greeted by other towns folk, police mixed with real security and the shown through the Peabody's Farm, complete with adorable sheep, goats and a folk band singing about guests who stood out. Luckily we decided not to bring our phones so we got to bypass the 'checking in phones and cameras' part. Although at the end of the event, there wasn't a huge queue to collect them.

We walked part way round the perimeter of the town with a 'Hill Valley 1 mile' sign to guide us. We were on Sycamore Street in no time, walking past the giant billboard for Lyons Estates and happy to acquire some beers for the walk around the houses. Each house was dressed up as one of the main characters homes, including the Tannens, McFlys, Baines' and the Doc's house. Past the latter house, we entered into the town, just like the film, complete with green grass in the square, high school, diner, many shops and of course the gigantic clock tower. I could hear 'Mr Sandman' play as we stepped in.

Although no phones or cameras were allowed to used, we were allowed to buy (from the friendly sellers in the town) a disposable camera which, I'm glad we bought as there was so much to see. Who knows if the photos will come out.

I was so excited. I know it sounds cheesy but it was like walking onto a film set. Every time one of the main characters were spotted it was great, mostly because we can interact with and not be told to go away. I really wanted to go to the funfair and eat candy floss, my brother in law wanted to eat the cheeseburger at the diner and my sister wanted to go the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. We did it all and more.

We saw the Texaco boys play games with some guests and later up in the main stage singing 'Goodnight Sweetheart'. We got told off for jaywalking and got talking to a very enthusiastic lady (part of the event). I convinced my sister to go on the ferris wheel first - before eating. It was an amazing view and even though I got a little freaked out when they were taking people off for the next ride, I still loved it.

We had a look in the school and watched one of the bands who were 'auditioning'. Looked in on the shops next door and bought some Tab, a clear version of Coca Cola. Not to my taste but it was all in the fun of the 80s. Throughout the evening 50s tunes were playing out on the 'radio' but not long before the film, the 80s burst out in the form of skateboarders and rollerblades high-fiving the crowds.

We ate out burgers in the diner and they weren't half bad but my sister was a tad disappointed with her milkshake. I was just excited t see Lou and Goldie Wilson, the mayor to be of the town, in the diner.

In fact whenever a character, from the 50s, appeared near by it was just exciting. All through the evening we were trying to spot the Doc and Marty. At first it was difficult as there were plenty of people dressed up at 80s Marty. But, once we found a spot on the green, were about to set off to look around more, we spotted him, acting just like Michael J Fox. It was Marty! Doc appeared later, wondering around the town followed by a huge group of followers.

We made it to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and my sister and my brother in law got to dance to Earth Angel, just like they did at their wedding a few weeks ago. It was very crowded though, we stayed for a couple of songs then moved on. In the cinema they were actually playing the film, The Cattle Queen of Montana and the radio was broadcasting to the whole town, they were even taking guest callers. I was going to say something but I missed my chance.

The post office was also fully functioning, with post men and women delivering messages to guests. Behind the 50s stores and hairdressers, we ventured into the 80s. A bar serving cocktails and a live band. There was even a small pool table and they were selling Marty McFly's signature red puffer jacket. We bought cocktails and enjoyed them on the green while we watched the Hill Valley parade.

The Mayor and the radio DJ introduced Marvin Berry and the Starlighters where they played some familiar tunes, including The Power of Love, with Marty on lead guitar. It was a fantastic intro to the film. The fun didn't stop there. Scenes from the film were played out in front of us live, including scenes featuring the time machine and the Doc, zip wiring from the Clock Tower. It was just brilliant. Loved every minute of it. And I got to eat candy floss.

Monday 25 August 2014

August Watch List

Not ashamed to say it, I absolutely love this film. I think its the best Marvel film so far and I even think it beats Avengers, its really that amazing. The lead up to this film from rumours to the first trailer, everyone was saying that this was going to be Marvel studios' big risk. Having smashed the US and UK box office, that risk paid off, ten times over. Unlike the other Marvel superhero films, GotG is different, not only is there only one human in the film (technically) but its the most sci-fi and set entirely (except the first scene) in space, meaning, not on Earth. It is also set apart from all the other films, which is refreshing, apart from the orb bit that sort of connects to the others, but I don't want to give anything to those who like surprises. Peter Quill (the always likeable Chris Pratt) is abducted as a child and raised an thief, basically. Apart stealing an orb on what he thinks is your average job, he meets and gets arrested with Gamorrah, an assassin daughter of Thanos (look him up, he's s big player in the Marvel universe), Groot a planet like alien and Rocket, the result of an illegal genetic experiment, thugs for hire. In prison they meet Drax the Destroyer, a maniac. That rounds up the gang. Outside of this, Ronan the Accuser wants to blow a planet. There reasons behind it but if I explain anymore of the plot, it might take the fun out of watching the film. The film is directed by James Gunn and he's made the most entertaining film I could have hoped for. I should mention the soundtrack as it is very different. Songs from 70's and 80's feature and they are perfectly out of place it works so well. The soundtrack also plays a part of Peter Quill's character as the tape he listens to was gift from his mother who died at the start of the film. To summarise, the film is better than anything I expected, its a true sci-fi movie that just happens to be part of the Marvel universe. 5/5

I discussed a theory with my brother in law as to why GotG has been so successful and why everyone loves it and agreed with this. The story is about a team, a group, all with back stories and they are all very different. The team are given equal screen and story time and they even all progress, with hope for the future. As a team they can play off each other and actual dialogue is exchanged. There is not a wasted moment in the film. This also explains why Avengers was so successful too, it wasn't just all your favourite superheroes hanging out, it was a team working together, playing off of each other with great results. More GotG please!

First thing to say about this film, the trailer, though delightful is misleading. The film is about weathly inventor of weird things, Colin who falls in love with equally weird and wonderful Chloe. But not too soon after love and marriage, Chloe is taken ill after a lilly starts to grow in her lung. Based on the novel, Froth on a Daydream by Boris Vian, Michel Gondry co-wrote the script and directed this. I expected the film to be similar to his previous whimsy, visually pleasing and slightly depressing with a small consolation at the end. All his films play out this way (except Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which has, I think, I slightly happier end). But Mood Indigo is a film of two halves. The first half plays out this way but the announcement of Chole's disease will result in death, the film takes a nosedive into utter despair. Its not just Colin who suffer, all the characters do and suddenly the whimsy animatronics that surround his home and the film become tacky and out of place in such a depressing storyline turn. I was really upset by this sorrowful end. What can I say? It just got worse. The first part being so fun and promising and even funny but then nothing. I really hope Gondry's next film is back to the old forumla. 2/5

Based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth, this film plays out pretty much how honest trailers says. Having read the book and finally seen the film, I can safely say that it feels like Roth read The Hunger Games and thought 'I can do that'. Then changed the setting and added confusing 'faction' names just to annoy her reader and got it published. The book read like she was looking for a movie deal. The film, is actually slightly better but if I hadn't read the book, I would have been very confused. Tris is a teenager who lives a in 'dystopian' society where the people are divided into 'factions'. Groups that are identified by one characteristic; Erudite the intelligent, Candor the honest, Amity the peaceful, Dauntless the brave and Abnegation the selfless. When teenagers are 16 years old, they have to choose which faction they want to be in. First they take a test which tells them which to pick but at the ceremony they can pick whatever they want. Tris discovers she is divergent, meaning she has more than one characteristic. She leaves Abnegation to join Dauntless where she finds out that there is sinister plot afoot. Same old same old. Its a pity the concept is kind of a rip off as the cast aren't terrible but Shailene Woodley who plays Tris is not a strong lead. But its great to see Kate Winslet play a villain. 3/5

Twins are always a fascinating, especially to those who aren't. I thought this film was going to be about sisters, one bitchy and outgoing, the other meek and sensitive. The film starts of stereotypical and after a very dramatic moment, the story becomes about loss and identity - a much better concept. Laurel is the meek twin who stayed at home, Aubrey is the twin that left and got her own life. After they celebrating their birthdays, Aubrey is killed in a car crash. Laurel survives but everything (even she does for a bit) thinks she's her sister after she got her hair cut. Hurt by the lack of impact she had on everyone (no one speaks at the funeral, not even her Dad who she cared for all these years), she leaves and starts living Aubrey's life but half as herself. Its difficult to explain but she goes through an identity crisis as well as mourning her sister. Its a surprisingly emotional film and its really well done. Zoe Kazan, who plays the twins is also brilliant and perfect in the dual roles. 4/5

I hate to admit this but this stereotypical film about three single guys or rather one guy whos marriage just ended and two really single guys isn't that bad. All the characters develop smoothly and gradually and don't just suddenly stop being a***holes because even though I agreed with them on some things, they are a***holes. The female characters in the film are also well done, they aren't needy, they don't even pursue the guys in a horrible awkward way, the guys come to them because, shock moment, they get along. In other films like this, the girls are always so bland and are only like because they are so pretty, the female characters have personalities and lives away from the scenes with the guys. Some plot elements are predictable and annoying but I suppose they are in there to fill out the film. These films are perfect. 3/5

As many other have been, I have been waiting months for this film. There has been so much controversy surrounding this film, that it was too long or too violent or just not good at all, the buzz has just made me want to see it more and more. A science fiction furturistic film that warns us about the environment and over crowding, the Snowpiercer is a train with 1001 carriages. After trying to battle global warming, there was back lash causing the entire planet to be covered in snow and ice. The last survivors live aboard the train, but as with things there is class system. The passengers in the front carriages live a life of luxury while the tail carriage live in literal squalor. The great but horrific speech from Chris Evans' character near the end sums it up. Based on the graphic novel by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, the film was co-production between US and South Korean directed by Bong Joon-ho. The film doesn't quite follow the novel but in a way its better. The film follows all the passengers in the tail as they revolt and make their way to the front to confront the mysterious inventor of the train, Wilford. The film is brutal and bleak but the characters (and cast) are great and even though I thought the ending was just plain awful, the film, the story, is brilliant. 3/5


Tuesday 19 August 2014

Over Cluttered

After admiring my friend's collections of book, films and bits and pieces, I tried to re-organise my collections.

Spread over 5 bookcases (not all films) and 6 metal racks screwed to the wall, I emptied it all. I made the wrong decision to pile everything on the floor and re-arrange it that way. I ended up walled into my room, literally. Piled up against at the door, the bed and the sofa and I even filled a gigantic box and still it was difficult to move let alone put things back.

Anytime I start to re-organise or even dust the shelves, it turns into a mammoth task. I moved everything twice before settling on what arrangement I wanted. I look at it all now and still need to make changes as I remembered some of the vast collection was missing. I had a leant a few DVDs out.

The de-cluttering wasn't just limited to films. I had gone through books too to see if i'd miss anything or if I could get rid of books I had read but didn't want anymore. Not many as it turns out but I was successful on Amazon. I recently sold a precious art book. It was worth quite a bit of money and I did make a profit but I'll be sad to see it on my shelf anymore.

Clothes and shoes were also tossed aside. I've gone back to ebay-ing a few things that have been hanging around for way too long. Selling a few more items too but all these things have barely made a dent in what has been left.

Suffering from 'oh gad I have too much STUFF' syndrome happens too often these days. I used to keep everything back in Uni, just in case I could use it for a party as part of a costume or for a film. The odd bits and pieces came in handy. But I need a realisation check, there is just not enough space for me, Scruff and my DVDs. If my plans go ahead (more on that later) I'm going to need space and money. Selling off my wares is the only way to go.

So far, things are going little by little and thats just what its going to be for now.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

We Ain't Never Had An Actor Like Him

I'm sure a million other blogs, newspapers, websites and zines are doing this right now but I wanted to add my appreciation to the gigantic pile. Robin Williams, one of the most hilarious actors out there died. What with PSH passing, Bob Hoskins and now Robin Williams. Too many great actors leaving us.

Here are my top 5 favourite characters Williams has played. Of course the Genie from Disney's Aladdin is amazing but I'd have a separate list for all his role in animation. He was the only funny part of Happy Feet (terrible film) and as I said, he will always be the Genie.

1. Mrs Doubtfire - 1993

Every child growing up in the 80s/90s would have seen this brilliant and actually sad film. Its about divorce, a man trying to find a job and a father who really wants to spend as much time with his children as possible. Its also about hating Pierce Brosnan from a young age and loving the moment Doubtfire throws fruit at him. Based on British writer Anne Fine's Madam Doubtfire, this really is implanted in everyone's mind when it comes to comedy and men dressing up in drag. And yes, the whole time? The whole time he was dressed as an elderly woman. Dude really did look like an old lady.

2. The Birdcage - 1996

Playing Armand, partner to Nathan Lane's Albert, this could not have been a better paring. These two together made a hilarious play, a brilliant film, to me its all about the two together and their relationship. A gay couple pretending to be a straight couple (Lane in drag) to make a 'good' impression on uptight married couple to their son's girlfriends parents. Screaming, singing, awkward conversations, people pretending to be something they aren't and drag numbers.

3. Good Morning Vietnam - 1987

I saw this film some years ago and this was only having seen Williams in purely comic roles. This was a great story based on truth about radio DJ Adrian Cronauer who broadcasts in wartime Vietnam. It's perfect balance of funny and tragic moments. Williams actually and its not hard to believe, improvised most of his radio broadcasts in the film. Even if you've not seen the film, you will know 'GOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM!'

4. Jumanji - 1995

This is a classic children's film which is faced with being remade at the moment. Williams is Alan Parrish all grown up after being trapped in the board game for 26 years. Its fantasy mixed with adventure and real terror - they are chased by a lion, gigantic mosquitos and harassed by monkeys and they survive an earthquake and monsoon, all in one day!

5. Death to Smoochy - 2002

Williams plays a washed up bitter children's entertainer and basically, not the nice guy in this story and its brilliant. He's naturally funny and usually plays nice or wise characters but Rainbow Randolph is mean, bitter and twisted. Throughout the film he is trying to frame Smoochy the Rhino, his rival played by Edward Norton. An underrated film, directed by Danny Devito no less. If you've not heard of this, go watch it now!

Another few mentions would be the sort lived sitcom, The Crazy Ones, Hook, World's Greatest Dad and One Hour Photo and I know everyone hates it but I loved it when I was younger. It was like seeing the cartoon jump of the page to make a tacky full functioning Sweet Haven. I loved Popeye and though Williams was brilliant, right down to the over stuffed forearms.

As a parting gift here's the musical trailer: Popeye (1980)

Monday 4 August 2014

90's Revival

Is it just me or are we all having a 90's revival?

I've noticed that 90s things (mainly fashion) is everywhere. It was sneaking up on us for the past year but this summer its here to stay (until another era makes a comeback).

We've seen the 80s, 70s (usually during music festival season), 60s, 50s, 20s and even 30s make a comeback. The 40s have yet to make a steady comeback, that era usually gets dragged in with 30s and 50s. These comebacks have also affected films with plenty of remakes of films from a particular era. And now with remakes of Point Break and a rumour about Jumanji coming out, the 90s are on my mind.

After re-watching most of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (seasons 5+6 were rubbish, so was 7 but the end was great), I started getting obsessed with all things 90s. I loved this US teen sitcom when i was at school and I know there are some fans out there who used to read the books too. I never went that far but I was and am a huge fan, nothing like light entertainment that also has a moral at the end of every episode to help you relax at the end of the day. I also noticed the fashion in the series. It was like looking at the sequence in Sex and the City (also 90s) where Carrie goes through her epic wardrobe of crap. Some outfits were good but remember, these were the days where Britney Spears first appeared. That was decades ago!

I have also been listening to typical 90s music, or bands that appeared on the soundtrack for tall those teen films. I was blasting out some No Doubt, Placebo and even some Shania Twain while I rummaged through my own collection to relive some of those classic 90s films. It now almost 20 years on from the heyday of 90s films so its safe to say classic.

Apart from all the Brit rom-coms, like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sliding Doors and the ghastly Notting Hill, I forgot for a moment that decent films like Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption came out in that decade. The 90s was definitely the years of film education. Toy Story, the first full length feature in 3D animation came out in 1995. Disney classics like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King came out. The latter was the first film I remember seeing at a cinema.

As I got older, it was the best two teen comedies, both based on classic literature that captured my attention. Clueless, 1995 and 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999 were as brilliant then as they are now. Empire Records should also be in this mention too but not exactly a teen film, more about teens who all happen to work in a independent record store. I appreciated this film much later.

Then, of course, the Coen Brothers. They won an Oscar for Fargo in 1996 and the Palme d'Or for Barton Fink in 1991. Not to mention cult hit The Big Lebowski, the dude abided in 1998.

While all this is reminiscing about the past, the 90s and its influential films are appearing now. What with all the 90s action films in the works and that have already appeared and not to mention the fashion too. All this plays a big part in what we will see next.

I see more remakes (most not needed) that will push people to see the better originals and most likely revisit old favourite TV shows. I know I'm doing that.

Recommendations for a 90s revival in your own home:

Watch some classics: Drop Dead Gorgeous - a mockumentary about a beauty pageant. A film crew follows the events in a small town in Minnesota. The cast is brilliant a features a bearable Kirsten Dunst before she was MJ

Pulp Fiction - Tarantino's big breakthrough and award winner - if you don't know the plot you are missing out.

101 Dalmatians - to feel like a child again, watch the actually rather good live action of the Disney classic based on a book of the same name. Glenn Close is perfect as Cruella deVil.

Titanic - 1997, the year all box office records were broken by the unsinkable ship that sank. Emotional and a really good film - ignore the people who hate successful films.

Rushmore - Wes Anderson's film about a crazy ambitious private school student. The story and characters are amazing, not s dull moment.

Whispher of the Heart - a lesser known Studio Ghibli film a young girl who wants to be a writer, not fantasy but makes you feel young again.

The Sixth Sense - just so you can remember how great M Night Shyamalan used to be.