Tuesday 30 December 2014

Film Watch List Of 2014


This film was far more than I expected it to be. It made me want to travel to Greenland and Iceland, the landscapes are amazing. Walter Mitty is a quiet guy who works at world famous (actually real) magazine called LIFE, that actually did shut down in 2000. He takes care of all the negatives, the photographs and has built up a friendship with famous photojournalist Sean O'Connell through his work that he sends to the magazine. Walter is shy and has a crush on temp worker Cheryl. After the magazines plans to turn to digital everyone is under threat of losing their jobs. The managers have decided to have the cover of the magazine be Sean O'Connell's photo but its missing. This spurs Mitty on to search for Sean and the missing negative. It is such an inspiring film, with mixture of daydreams and reality that doesn't come across as tacky or annoying and well thought out and feels right. I was surprised to see that Ben Stiller not only stars as Mitty but also directed, I think I can give Stiller a lot more credit than I had in the past. 4/5


A love story by Spike Jonze, an  winning story, is a beautiful thing. Known for adaptions or making Charlie Kaufman films, this is a beautifully crafted story, so simple and yet so deep and although you never see the other person in this love story, it does matter, you really feel the emotion. The power of voice. Spike Jonze was the director who made me cry in the cinema after years, not joking, years. But that was Where the Wild Things Are. Her made me smile and feel hope, plus I would stare intently at any screen where Joaquin Phoenix was. He is perfect as Theodore, the lonely writer of hand crafted letters he is the author of but writes on other people's behalf. A simple story, man falls in love with his computer operating system would sound like a comedy but after seeing this film, I can't think of anything more serious and in parts, romantic. And by the way I usually steer clear of romantic films. 5/5

It's a sensation. Wes Anderson's films have never been in the cinema this long with this much praise. Also I don't think I've known one of his films to have been seen by this many people, it's very exciting.

The film, as I expected, was perfect. The layered plot surrounding a suspicious death and the theft of an expensive painting was utterly brilliant, Wes Anderson has out done himself and if he caught people's attention with Moonrise Kingdom, this amazing film will surely bring him further recognition. It deserves all the praise its been getting and more. It was out loud funny, the characters were so well executed, the setting so unusual and you literally cannot tear your eyes away from the design.

Gustave H, is a marvellous invention, the legendary concierge of the hotel and the central character of the story. He starts off being a pompous ececntric but becomes a hero and true friend, especially to Zero, the other hero, slightly sidelined, of the story and is the one who tells his tale to 'The Author' who then in turn tells us the story. The various characters, no matter how small a role they played, all had a purpose in the story. The fact that war is looming over everyone but life still continues in the hotel, as well as the scandals, murders and mayhem, just makes this film perfect. 5/5


I loved this film so much when I saw it at the BFI Film Festival last year I had to see it on the big screen one more time. This time I couldn't get the soundtrack out of my head so of course I went and bought it. The Double is based on the novella of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and tells the story of a man who's doppelganger appears and slowly ruins his life.

Set in a unknown city that seems reminiscent of the landscapes or buildings found in Brazil. The dank, dark buildings, the yellowing office walls, the plain colourless clothes and there is barely, if any sunshine seen throughout the whole film. Described by one reviewer as a 'warped, alternative version of post-war America' although most of the supporting cast is British. That doesn't matter in the grand scheme of the slightly dystopian feel to the old damaged exteriors and interiors. 

Simon James (Eisenberg) is an ordinary guy who works for an organisation that doesn't really specify in any industry, all we as the audience know is that the Colonel (James Fox) is the face and all knowing leader. Simon is a person that most forget, talk over, push around and generally are rude to him, no matter where he is. Things start to change when James Simon, the exact double of Simon James appears. He is charismatic and at first exciting but things go wrong when he makes Simon's life a misery. He gets him in to trouble at work, he steals Hannah, (Mia Wasikowska) the girl that Simon is in love with and takes over his home. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Apart from the fact this is a brilliant story with an excellent cast, right down to Paddy Considine's amusing cameo, I was enthralled by the photography and the unusual but mesmerising design of the film.  I definitely fell in love with the design. The 50s and 60s style clothing blended with the 80s style technology mixed with a kitsch decorator, especially for the restaurant and ball scenes. Everything was fine tuned down to the creases in Simon/James obviously-too-big-for-him suit. A fantastic film that, in my opinion, didn't need to spend time explaining the strange occurrences that happened in the film, the mystery of the double makes it stand out from other mystery stories or any film, involving a double. 5/5


Mutants fighting human oppression. It's a theme used throughout all the X-Men films in some way. Mutants trying to kill all humans is also a familiar theme. Someone complained that this is all the film ever follow. I disagree. As well as the those main themes that feature, it's also about evolution and of course friendships between the mutants and how they cope with their own abilities. There is a wider picture that should be looked at. There was a big hype about the film and for me it paid off, even though it basically cancels out most the events in The Last Stand, thank god. People have moaned about this too. I think it's a good thing. People have also moaned that the mutants don't get a lot of screen time. Who cares!!! It's great to see them all there. My favourite mutant doesn't even feature in the film at all but I still loved the damn film. Now I have a new favourite, Quicksilver.

Anyone who is familiar with the various X-Men story lines you already know about sentinels that kill mutants. In the future, these sentinels are hunting mutants in Barron wastelands, the few X-Men that are left are travelling from place to place to avoid capture. They decide to send Wolverine back in time to the 70s to convince younger Charles and Erik to join together and stop Mystic from ruining everything basically. Not everyone from First Class makes it back in the film. Which is annoying but realistic. New mutants are introduced, even non speaking ones. It's great to see more mutants appearing, the variety is better. Can't say much more as it would be spoilers, apart from the Quicksilver scenes are the best. The word is he will be back for Age of Apocolyspe, which is excellent news.  4/5

Just like the trailer says, 'how would you describe Frank?' It's a part comedy, part serious drama about mental illness and musical adventure and coming to terms with loss. It's a beautifully amazingly made film. A group of oddball musicians, each with their own strange habits and characteristics who cling together to make an album that never gets made. The story is linear but in a way isn't. The cast is brilliant and are willing to go crazy and weird, especially Michael Fassbender who plays Frank covered up by a plastic head throughout the film. He is a brilliant actor as he conveys Frank's emotions without a face. The ending is really sad but works so well coming full circle. I highly recommend you listening to this awesome song featured at the end of the film: https://soundcloud.com/frankfilm 4/5


Looking over my film list for that month, there didn't seem to be any worthy, stand out films so I decided that, June, would not have a film. That's why there are double for a few other months.


How to train your Dragon snuck up on people when it was first released. My sister and I wanted to see it because it dragons in it and of course we liked the story. We fell in love with the film, as did many others. In fact HTTYD is Dreamworks animation's most successful films (rating wise mostly), this is even after all the Shrek rubbish that they've churned out and the Madagascar films too.

Based on the successful children's books series by Cressida Cowell, the second film the planned trilogy, takes place 5 years after the events after the first film, all the main teen characters are all grown up. Excellent sign that there is already character development. Berk has fully embraced dragons and all is well, except there is trouble on the horizon in the shape of Drogo who commands a dragon army (in chains) and has set his sights on conquering the dragon master (Hiccup) and all the dragons on Berk. Oh and if you've seen the trailer, Hiccup's mother makes a dramatic entrance. Its a beautiful film. I hate to say it but the sequences between mother and son flying are (sorry I said this) breath taking. Everything about this film ticks all the boxes, the characters are brilliant and as I've said, they actually developed. The dragons are amazing and all unique, each with their own quirks and secrets. The film even goes dark which is brilliant but I can't say more than that. Only down side, Cate Blanchet's accent is the worst I've ever heard. Hint, its meant to be Scottish. That aside its an amazing film. If Dreamworks keeps producing films like this, Pixar AND Disney better think of something decent quick, no darn Planes crap and run of the mill safe Frozens. 5/5


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! 5/5


At first, the trailers annoyed me. It felt and sounded like a predictable story. Funny woman, loses man, has a one night stand becomes pregnant now her life is ruined. I don't understand why most stories about women 'going through something' have to involve them either getting pregnant or their wedding being put off. Those seem to be the two choices, but saying this, Obvious Child is not so obvious. Yes, Donna (Jenny Slate) is a stand up comic where her gigs are at one place and she loses her job in a bookshop after it closes down and yes, he boyfriend has been cheating on her but after she has a one night stand with an adorable guy, she finds out that she is pregnant. She decides on the spot that she wants an abortion and its not a big deal. This is why I think this film. It gets on with life. It is a romantic comedy but its a clever and bearable one and feels more realistic. Not once did I say out loud, 'as if'. When I went to see it, the woman who severed me said 'oh, you do know what its about right, it's been difficult to explain it to people.' The film doesn't centre on what would sometimes be the plot of the whole film and its really about Donna trying to come with a new routine and telling the adorable guy she's having the abortion without the awkwardness. 4/5


Gone Girl

I had been waiting for ages to see this film. Yes, it was one of those. And I was not disappointed. From the best selling novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, is the story about a marriage. Nick and Amy's marriage begins like a fairytale only to end up like reality horror show. When Amy disappears, Nick is left to deal with the devastating consequences, resulting in him being accused of her murder. Questions are posed, if there is no body, how can this be a murder? Also, did he actually commit the crime? This film, story, plot is beyond brilliant. I am a big fan of David Fincher and he creates such a brilliant view of this marriage. Hi specialty seems to be crime related films, not always traditional, like his adaptation of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'. The approach in that film was by a victim and a journalists. In this film, its the husband and too an extent, his sister as well. The leads, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were perfectly cast. Affleck impressed even more. I'm worried now, with all this goodwill he's slowly created over the years will be destroyed by his Batman outing but you never know, Christian Bale is still respected. Back to Gone Girl. The film is a mix of a crime thriller and domestic tale and has a few horrific shots that are shocking at first glance but actually express the characters inner psycho. Those who have seen the film can probably guess the scene I mean. A brilliant film and it lives up to the hype. 4/5


When I was telling others about the film, they asked 'is it a true story?' its not, but it feels like it is which just makes it more terrifying. It is not a horror story, its about how cruel and detached humans can be and the lengths they will go to succeed and THAT is terrifying. Louis Bloom is both a hideous person and one of the most compelling characters in the film, this year at least. Jake Gyllenhaal has been receiving praise from all over and he does deserve it. I blinked twice when I saw him on screen, it really does dig deep into this character. The story is about Louis, a thief who buys camera equipment and a police scanner and stalks the streets of LA waiting for a possible accident or crime to film then sell to cable news shows. He does this after watching a van pull up alongside a car crash, Bill Paxton, a nightcrawler for years, jumps out and films the police save a woman trapped inside. Louis is inspired. He begins selling his 'moral questioning' footage to a low rated Cable news channel, building a reputation. He sons makes bigger demands and even blackmails a producer. But when a huge murder story breaks, things seem to get worse and I don't mean for Louis. Creepy, barely describes the film and the characters actions. But despite the horrible things happening, its not gory nor scary its human nature at its worst and its hard to look away. A brilliant and very chilling thriller. 4/5

'Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met at midnight

In the hanging tree'

Like others, I was very annoyed that the last book was being split in two. My favourite book in the trilogy is Catching Fire and Mockingjay least, but the film, was amazing. The film stays close to the book, obviously adding the much needed interludes from the Capitol and scenes of rebellion from some of the other districts. It's a cliche, but its an emotional rollarcoaster from start to finish, its not wonder Katniss goes s little crazy in the book, they show less of her breakdowns in the film though, this speeds things up and makes her a stronger character. The book is all told from Katniss' point of view and a lot is lost there, but the film is structured perfectly, introducing characters are story goes smoothly along, not bombarding the audience with them unnecessarily. Another welcome change is Effie Trinket. In the book Katniss' prep team have a larger role but Effie is substituted in, replacing them and another character which was understandably cut out. 

Changes aside. This film is a lead up to the fight in the Captitol, showing us how they rally the districts into rebellion and fighting. This idea makes far more sense then everyone just fighting. For a YA book, its very bloody and violent but that may be part of the appeal. This is also the film where Katniss and Peeta are separated. They are used against one another but they share a connection. Peeta, no spoiler here, is being tortured, obviously and still protecting Katniss, while Katniss is refusing to help District 13 in fear Peeta will be harmed. The two of them are most definitely the heart of the film, even though Peeta has far less screen time. The use of the book's song 'The Hanging Tree' is brought to life in the most beautiful yet tragic moments in the film. I may be making a bigger of this film, but it truly is a Hunger Games dream. Only problem, waiting for part 2. 5/5


My previous post and comments of the 'Defining Chapter' are here - 4/5

Friday 26 December 2014

December Watch List

When BFI announced their new season's programming, Fear and Wonder, I was really excited. They were finally dedicating a season to Science Fiction. There were many films I really wanted to see but I chose two, to start with. After spending hours looking through the sci-fi section at Waterstones, I came across 'The Midwich Cuckoos' by John Wyndham and few other books by him. I read the back and remembered the story. It clicked later that it was the book that 'Village of the Damned' was based on. The film is a brilliant piece of classic British sci-fi. No special effects apart from fire and explosions, sound effects are used but otherwise this is sci-fi at its best, strange and unusual but everything is normal. The actors are all superb and delightful, 'oh so terribly British'. 

One day in the country village of Midwich, the entire population pass out for several hours. The people all wake up, no one is harmed but after a while, many, nearly all the women in the village are pregnant. They all give birth to blonde children with black eyes and strange fingernails. The children grow up, at rapid rate, with their respective families until strange things happen. The children, cold, emotionless travel in a group, wearing the same outfits. They development mind control abilities causing deaths and panic throughout the village. They are obviously from another planet and eventually, after discovering the other 'colonies' around the world failed, they reveal themselves. The children are incredibly creepy and unnerving, aliens among story is brilliant, well done with the right amount of scares and science fictions elements. There are main characters to identify with, the professor who wishes to study them while teaching them, his wife who is also one of the mothers and her brother army officer who alerted the army to the incident right from the start. The conclusion is inevitable and just like most old films, ends suddenly. A brilliant sic-fi film, but I was disappointed to hear there was a remake, set in America. How boring. 3/5

My previous post and comments of the 'Defining Chapter' are here - 4/5

Apart from the gushing praise that the events manager gave this film, the audience was sworn to secrecy so I'm afraid that I will have to be brief. The release date for the film is in late January next year and as well as the preview, there was to be a Q & A with Alex Garland, the director and screenwriter of many films that you all will know (The Beach, Sunshine, Dredd, 28 Days Later). It's actually his first feature where he's directed, so being an admirer of his work I was excited. But, saying all this, the film was brilliant except for the last 15 minutes. I was so disappointed by the ending I actually got up and left during end credits. I didn't want to stay for the Q & A for fear that I would ask something mean. I came out of the screening thinking that the message from the film was that men are weak, women are bitches. I was very disappointed.

The story is about Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), an employee who works at BlueBook, the biggest search engine site created and owned by Nathan (Oscar Isaac) who is a genius. He has built a machine, A.I who can pass for human, or can it? The 'robot', Ava (Alicia Vikander, lives in a house or lab is what is it referred to and is allowed to talk to Caleb through glass walls. Caleb is under the impression he is there to test Ava but, as they say. 'the plot thickens'.

The film is a brilliant sic-fi thriller with a cast of basically 3 people. It felt as if it could have been even more but I was let down. 3/5

4. Penguins of Madagascar

Not my favourite Dreamworks animated franchise, My favourite involves dragons and quality story. Although Madagascar does the same old thing all the time, the creators knew they were on to a winner with the penguins; Skipper, Rico, Kowalski and Private. They are brilliant. They made a TV series and I've seen a few episodes, its great and actually funny. But the inevitable happened, they, Dreamworks, made a film with the penguins taking a starring role. Smart idea. They did this with Puss in Boots, although that that film wasn't so great, the penguins is brilliant!

Starting with who the penguins became a team or rather 'family' when they were young up then jumping to the end of Madagascar 3 where they literally shoot themselves out of the circus and that ridiculous song. The story about being a team, knowing each others strengths and appreciating one another. It's simple and great to watch. Of course theres an evil octopus called Dave who is the villain and wants revenge on all penguins and the North Wind (a husky, polar bear, owl and seal) who are a sort of rival team trying to capture the evil Dave. All these characters just make the film so crazy and ludicrous but it really doesn't matter, its a fun film and the penguins are the best characters since Hiccup and the village of Berk, plus the dragons. 4.5

                                                                    5. The Book of Life

I had wanted to see this at the cinema as it looks so beautiful in the trailers, but alas it wasn't meant to be. Month later I get to see the splendor of Mexico! The film is told like a fairytale, with truth and legend mixed in, the best kind of stories. A classic tale of love, adventure and the day of the dead.  Two boys, Joaquin and Manolo, both in love with Maria. As they grow up, Maria becomes feisty and ready to take on anyone. Joaquin becomes a solider, a hero of the town and Manolo is trained by his father to become a bull fighter, he has natural talent but he is also a gifted musician which his father is against. Aside from all this, the spirits La Muerte and Xibalba, rulers of the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten place a bet on who will marry Maria. The story is set, the players ready and the result, a beautiful film. It was great fun, with music too to sing along too or to just enjoy the amazing animation. 3/5

 To be honest, I had heard mixed reviews, mainly bad reviews about this film. I suppose after the award grabbing Juno and the 'everyone look at me' Up in the Air, Jason Reitman had a lot to live up to right? Wrong. I didn't even like Up in the Air and if he had a 'dud' film, it was definitely Young Adult, that film had no soul. Labour Day was good but everyone seems to have forgotten he directed that. That was his latest. MW&C had a lot to live to, I suppose, mainly because of the cast. Adam Sandler not being funny, Jennifer Garner being a prude psycho mum who checks her teenage daughters emails, phone and absolutely anything online. Various other indie actors playing very real, run of the mill characters that you would find in any town. I thought it was a really great film. It showed the known dangers of porn addiction at 15 years old. Exposing young girls photographs on the internet saying its for their acting career. The damage that is down to someone when you take away their outlet. The only element in the whole film that was dull was the couple who are cheating on each other. It was written well and I actually thought Adam Sandler was very good (he's not funny, so this worked) but the let down was Rosemary Dewitt who unbelievable uncharismatic I dozed off when she was on screen. I'm not sure if she was meant to be that way but she was. She was the weak link in a strong chain. A special mention to Judy Greer by the way, who was brilliant. And to Ansel (so hot right now) Elgort, he seems to be in everything and Kaitlyn Dever who were very quiet making a big impact as the heart of the film. 4/5

Written by Joss Weadon, I'm 98% sure I will like this film. Plus Zoe Kazan is always great. It's an alternative romance film and its beautiful. I tried explaining the set up to my sister and she didn't seem to like the idea, but I'm sure if she sees it she will understand and like it too. Two people, Rebecca and Dylan, who share a connection but live on opposite sides of the country. They each grow up thinking that they're crazy or that they're just dreams but in fact they can see what the other sees and hear each other as loudly as they hear themselves. She's the sheltered wife of a 'fancy' doctor and he's an ex-con who looking to change his life. That's just the basics, there is more than meets the eye, that's cliche but its accurate. Sounds crazy but its actually a very romantic film. 4/5

8. Smashed

I'm not really a fan or interested in films about alcoholics. But so much was said about Mary Elizabeth Winstead's performance and yes, it was brilliant and disturbing. She plays, Kate, a school teacher who likes to drink, all the time. When she's drunk, its actually terrifying, the character is a mess, an obvious mess. Things change though, when she decides to attend an AA meeting. She tries to pull herself together but she doesn't impose her new ideas on anyone, just tells them about it if they ask, which I felt was a good message, no one was beging 'preachy'.  But as her husband Charlie (Aaron Paul) who also like to drink, continue to do so making things difficult between the couple. In her ending AA speech, she thanks them all for her boring life. Even though shes smiling, she obviously sad and sober. Its a new view on alcoholism, not everyone is happy sober but they know its the best thing to do. I though the film was rather sad and didn't have much of a conclusion which was irritating especially as the film was only 1 hour 21 mins long. There could have been more. 3/5

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Christmas Baking & Making

Christmas would not be complete without the Christmas CD. I make one every year and some how lose it every year.

A few friends have said that it doesn't quite feel like Christmas. I can understand, having worked right up until Christmas whereas last year I was stuck in the office, it someone how felt more like a holiday. I feel a tad rushed this year but I don't know why.

I had an epic baking episode yesterday, on my feet for 5 hours making, baking and cleaning up. I'm usually quite a tidy person, even in the kitchen, but oh my, not this time. Every surface was taken up with something, a complete and utter mess. But it did result in many biscuits and snowballs. They disappeared within minutes at work, hoping they'll have the same effect at my aunt and uncle's.

I added a few new Moomin editions too, Moomin Mama to join Snorkmaiden. Couldn't resist making Little My too.

Apart from baking, the CD was the next priority. This time I had added a few old favourites, trying to stretch out the play time. It usually only last an hour but I've made it to 1 hour and 19 minutes. This is what we'll be eating to on the day.

I left out a particular amusing song from way back when I actually owed a Destiny's Child album. They released a Christmas song but it was on the CD. Great chorus otherwise its a mix between 12 Days of Christmas and Santa Baby. Early 2000's anyone?

Destiny's Child - 8 Days of Christmas

Hope you all have an amazing and Merry Christmas! I'd just like to say, 'I'm the Christmas Unicorn, You're the Christmas Unicorn'

Sunday 21 December 2014

Christmas Movie Playlist

Just like every year, I've been making my way through my Christmas movie list, this year with a few added titles.

I am actually currently watching Christmas movie number one, Muppets Christmas Carol. This is the perfect seasonal film, it has music, songs, a brilliant (human) cast, a hilarious and inspired adaptation of the ultimate classic Christmas story AND the film has muppets, it cannot be beat.

My list as follows:

Batman Returns 

- It takes place at Christmas and its a Superhero movie with Michael Keating. Plus Catwoman is one of the best villains, another winner!

The Nightmare Before Christmas

-This film can be a Halloween and Christmas, its a two in one. The animation is superb and the songs are very catchy, I find myself humming them from time to time.

Robbie the Reindeer

-Another brilliant animated short film, this time from Aardman. Originally a trilogy but its the first short that stands out, 'Hooves of Fire' where Robbie, son of Rudolph, has to compete in an Olympic type event in order to be part of the sleigh team.

Home Alone 2

-This is a new addition as I only bought this last year. Why not the first you ask? Well it was't on offer at the time and its usually always on TV at Christmas anyway. Watching Kevin run around New York and out smart the 'bad guys' is always a delight, plus there are some really amusing moment, mostly involving Tim Curry.

Die Hard

-Yes. Die Hard. John Maclane taking out the terrorists all in a dirty vest and no shoes and Hans Gruber saying 'Now I have a machine gun. Ho. Ho. Ho.'

The Snowman/Father Christmas

-More classic animation inspired by Raymond Briggs beautifully illustrated books. If you don't get emotional watching the Snowman, you must be a Grinch.

Trading Places

-Watching Dan Aykroyd dressed as a drunk Father Christmas eating salmon on the bus is pure genius. Hilarious film.


-This was a new entry this year as it was the first time I had seen this Bill Murry seasonal adaptation. Essentially a Bill Murry getting angry playing a jerk with feelings sort of film, but the added Christmas Carol storyline makes a great film. 

Monday 15 December 2014

Defining the Final Chapter

For anyone who hasn't read the book there will be SPOILERS, so read on if you are ok with this.

The film picks up exactly where the Desolation of Smaug ended. This first section sets the tone for the rest of the film and reveals Bard's heroic, yet modest nature and skills. He kills the dragon.  But I think that was obvious from the trailers. After Smaug is destroyed, crushing most of Lake Town along with him, there are mentions that others will look to the mountain and that is when the film's title appears.

There are far more characters involved now and each are given something to do (thank god, no one floundering around). The armies slowly come together, apart from the Orc hordes, they ready as soon the film starts. Orcs are disgusting but they are patient, they must have been waiting for the signal or call for months. The men of Lake Town take refugee in the ruins of Dale, reluctantly lead by Bard and Thranduil, King of the Woodland Elves bring aid not out of kindness but so he can swing by the mountain to get his white gems. Thorin, who is going mad, has made plans and called on his cousin Dain in the Ironhills to come and fight when he suspects that everyone will try and steal his treasure. Gandalf is stuck in a bird cage in Dol Guldur and Legolas and Tauriel decide to find out where the Orcs went. The film leads up to the 45 minute battle scene which is amazing and as the film is called 'battle of' it is fair to say that it is not too long.

I was surprised that Battle of the Five Armies isn't that long either. It was a little over 2 hours. Just an observation in case you were thinking of what snacks and provisions to take with you.

There were a few scenes missing from the second film, just a few things but they were included in the extended version, with the third instalment, nothing was missing, except maybe the end. So much fuss was made of the false ending in Return of the King, with this film, it ends. In fact it comes full circle ending on the first few lines Bilbo and Gandalf exchange in Fellowship of the Ring, which is links and ties up the story. But I felt that there needed to be more of an end after the battle. Favourite characters do die and it is incredibly sad. The people of Lake Town should tribute by blowing a large horn and standing in silence on the cities wall but that's it, then Bilbo leaves. There was little resolution there. I am praying that more is explained in the extended version. In the book, I'm sure, and the BBC radio drama version, things were wrapped up. Bard is made master of the town, funerals take place, the treasure is equally divided and there is more of an end, that's all I'm saying.

Aside from the enviable epic battle, there are a some touching scenes. A conversation between Dwalin and Thorin when the former is trying to convince him to follow the Dwarf army, their kin, into battle, is brilliant and also it was nice to see a reasonable dwarf in the company that wasn't Balin. It was an out of character scene for the violent fighter Dwalin and it was perfectly placed. Another touching moment was between Bard and his son, Bain. When Bard sees his bow is broken he fashions a sling shot to shoot the black arrow at Smaug, Bain has his back to the dragon being used to steady the arrow. Everything slows down and Bard, very calm tells his son to look at him. It's brief and it, in a way encapsulates Bard's reasoning. He's not looking to be a hero, he just wants to save his children. Another brief moment between a father and son, Thranduil and Legolas, is near the end. Thranduil, who usually shows little emotion other than anger or annoyance, looks for Legolas. He is worried for his son but as soon as he finds him, reverts back to his usual expression. Pity there isn't more about this family.

The Tauriel, Kili, Legolas triangle comes to a head. It's just as unnecessary as it was in DOS and even more confusing. Basically, it still doesn't work. In the movie guide (I bought them all!) John Howe says that Tauriel is out of love with everything else and has turned to Kili, who is going through the same thing, so it's not exactly love, its almost love. Which ever way you view it, its not clear what she is really thinking.

Thorin is going through his mad king phase suffering from 'dragon sickness', obsessing over his gold. I was please to see the signature scenes from the book were put in. Thorn threatens to throw Bilbo from the gates where the dwarves have barricaded themselves in. Bilbo was trying to help his friend by keeping the Arkenstone and then giving it Bard and Thranduil to bargain with. All to avoid battle. It's a great scene which actually starts the battle off. Thorin steady decline into madness is brilliantly done, expressed in his little talks with Bilbo when he heard Smaug's voice blend into Thorin's.

Apart from the last scene at the end, there are obvious links to LOTR. When Galadrial, Elrond and Sauruman come to Gandalf aid, they are attacked by the Nine Mortal Men who were given rings, yes, there are to become Ringwraiths then are attached by Sauron himself. Galadrial banishes him to the East (Mordor) and Elrond suggests they warn Gondor but Saruman casually says everything is fine, he hasn't got the ring and then says he'll deal with him. But we all know what happens there. Another hint to the future, Thranduil actually shows emotion after looking for Legolas, thinking he was dead, finds him heartbroken. Legolas just says 'I can't go back' so his father suggests to go see a ranger, 'his father Arathorn was a good man and he is set to be a great man'. Oh and this ranger's name is Strider. Massive hint there. The ends an epic trilogy to set up for an even bigger journey and adventure.

In fact after seeing it (twice) I had the urge to go home and watch all of LOTR. I stopped this urge by watching some sic-fi and catching up on Twin Peaks, just to take my mind off the film. I am that attached.

I am hoping to actually do the marathon before the end of the year, with all 5 films, as it would be difficult to factor in the current release. I would have to dash off to the cinema and dash back. This is when an in-house cinema would come in handy. One day.

I definitely recommend this for any film fan, Tolkien appreciation society and those who have been as touched as me by the films. Go see it OneLastTime


Farewell to Middle-Earth

After a year of waiting, a year of just watching that unbelievable cliffhanger and listening to 'I See Fire' by Ed Sheeran over and over, the wait was over. Battle of the Five Armies has begun.

I pestered my friends to book tickets for an IMAX screening of the film as soon as possible and I'm very glad we did, we had amazing seats, exactly in the middle.

It's been all over film magazines, TV spots, the trailers were released a few months ago, just so we all got revved up and ready to go. Instagram has been going crazy with posters, teasers, behind the scenes, cast videos and premiere photos. The build up has been immense but this morning felt anti climactic.

I had been at work until midnight the day before and the cab driver had taken the longest (and wrong) route to my home, plus there had been a crash/stabbing in on road, so even more traffic. All this mounted to me being very tired and slightly reluctant to roll out of bed the next day. I was also running late for the screening having left early but not factored in Sunday traffic. I am never taking that damn bus again! I made in time though, saw last few adverts but as soon as the New Line Cinema icon came up, I settled in. I was back and the film did not disappoint.

The question about the 276 page book being turned into not 2 but 3 films WAS ludicrous and in some ways, it still is but the result wasn't three terrible films, it was an amazing trilogy and brilliant achievement in cinema, again. The Middle Earth saga, as what is now known as was and is a phenomenon. No one ever thought the fantasy/adventure genre could ever be critically pleasing, award worthy and loved by millions. Apart from being excited about this OneLastTime  business I am really sad to see the end. There may be other Middle Earth films but not with familiar characters and adventures. If you're thinking The Silmarillion, good luck, its quite a serious book and actually takes places year and years before The Hobbit. This really is the end. After the film, I was very upset and I'm not ashamed to say it, I've already written about how much The Lord of the Rings films mean to me. I said it quite a few times. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was emotional about the characters, the end, nostalgia for LOTR and the whole experience really. It was satisfying ending, but I still wanted more.

I'm still writing my post about the film, keep your eyes peeled.