Thursday 30 April 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Father-Daughter Relationships

This week's theme for Thursday Movie Picks from Wandering through the Shelves is All in the Family Edition: Father-Daughter Relationships (Biologically Related).

Having recently seen a Scottish film centered around Father-Daughter relationship that I unfortunately found too uncomfortable, I found it difficult to find some happy/good ones. I think I might have done it ...

 The British film was one of my favourite picks fron the BFI London film festival in 2012. I picked it because the cast looked great and I was interested in the story about a 12 year old diabetic girl and the intertwining stories of her neighbours. At the heart of the film is strong relationship between father and daughter. Tim Roth plays Archie, single parent to teenage son Jed and daughter Skunk played by Eloise Laurence in her debut role. The casting for these characters was brilliant, Roth and Laurence have great rapport, feeling so at ease. A truly heartbreaking film with genuine moments of humour. The realistic depictions of families is what sold it for me.

Paper Moon
The Father - Daughter duo in this film was famously played by Ryan O'Neil and his real daughter, Tatum O'Neal. The story, set in the 30's in Kansas and Missouri, is about a con man and a 9 year old girl who may or may not be his daughter. They start off as opponants but soon become partners and throughout trust and affection develops. It's a beautifully made film shot in black and white with compelling leads who give deliver a rollercoaster of emotions within in, what I see as a, quiet film. The biggest event is near the end and in the grand scheme of things, isn't a huge deal but to these two it is.

     Little Miss Sunshine
Primarily about a family rather than a Father-Daughter relationship, there are a few scenes in the film where the relationship is highlighted, particularly when Richard (Greg Kinnear) tells Olive (Abigail Breslin) that apologising is for losers. It's obvious that he cares very much for his daughter but he forces his 'special programme' ideals on her. Out of everyone he is the most changed in my opinion, he is controlling but determined, and its the latter that spurs him into action. He is proud of his daughter no matter what, even if its performing a toned down version of strip routine at a children's pagent.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Adapt & Survive Part 2.

I'm not a fan of splitting the final book in a series into 2, I see no point in it but I have done it for my own blog posts. And I left a long gap in between.

The reason why I started this 'theme' in my post is mostly because I ma extremely looking forward to film that happen to be adaptations, mostly 'Far From the Madding Crowd'. I was also consumed with obsession over another film that was an adaptation. This doesn't happen often. Although writing that, I was and am really into The Hunger Games series and The Hobbit trilogy. When The Great Gatsby was announced and that Baz Luhrmann was directing, I was obsessed about this film too, mainly as it is an adaption of my favourite book. He was the right director to bring the book to life as the previous films had failed to grasp the spirit and emotion of the characters. The casting, in my eyes, was exactly right (apart from Myrtle).

Looking over my bookshelves, which I often do, its become more apparent to me that more than half of titles have been adapted into film and TV shows. This isn't a bad thing but it is slightly worrying. This means that less and less films are original ideas, note, not concepts. Some of the greatest characters are from books and some are used over and over again, taken out of their original stories and placed in entirely new ones. Having looked up the series 'Penny Dreadful' as I was rather intrigued by it, only to find old faithful characters reappear in the character list. Victor Frankenstein, Mina Harker, Caliban are all from different stories.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a prime example. The amazing series of graphic novels by Alan Moore and Keith O'Neill created a 'league' of characters taken or influenced by characters from classic literature. These characters are the heart of the story. The comic was then made into one of the most disappointing adaptations ever. My point is that even great source material, the comic, has an origin story, the characters from literature.  I'll move on before I annoy confuse anyone further.

The adaptations of the futuredo include a franchise, but then again, when don't they. I enjoyed The Maze Runner, the book and the film, it was the less 'showy' and 'desparate for attention' dystopian franchise to the Divergent series. With Scortch Trials set to be released next year, I wanted to get ahead of the game. The sequel is better in a way that the action is faster and the story moves along. The downside, I felt that too many questions were half answered and the lead character is basically beaten up, mentally. There were too many mini twists that set up false starts, but the characters are interesting and yes, people are left by the wayside, the author isn't afraid to let people go, as proved by the first book. The book and story is very cinematic so it was easy to visualise everything, even its success.

It was announced months, possibly years ago, that Gemma Arterton would be taking the lead role in the adaptation of Posey Simmonds 'Gemma Bovary'. Arterton was also Tamara Drewe in the film of the same name, which was also based on the graphic novel by Simmonds. So who better to portray another heroine. Of course, this, like the TLEG series, Gemma Bovary is a reworking of 'Madame Bovary'. Characters borrowed from the classic novel, to appear reworked in the book by Simmonds which is adapted to create the film. The book was brilliant and I read it without knowing anything about the original story. From the trailers too, Arterton is a great choice. The film was released last year, but only in France. A release date here and the US might be a while off yet.

As well as books that have already been adapted, there are those that have been barely published and have been snapped up and in production. 'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent, was one of these. Ok, it might not be in production right now but there have been talks about Jennifer Lawrence taking the lead. The story, set in Iceland, is about Agnes, who was charged with the murder of her former master. Due to the lack of prisons, she is sent to an isolated farm to wait for her execution. The execution itself was the last public one in Iceland, in 1829. The story is interesting and combine it with amazing views of Iceland, I'm sure it will be spectacular. I did hope to read it before the film materialises. Lately there has been less buzz about an adaptation but I'm sure it will all come up again soon.

As for other adaptaions, 3 out of the 5 above are set to be made into films. When? Who knows but its on the cards. I added the Fables book in there as there has been mighty rumblings about a possible film, then TV show then film again. The awarding winning sesries, Fables, has too great a universe to be crammed into one film and I'm not too sure if it will work as well on screen as it does in the page. A TV series could have done it justice but with film talk a few months ago, I fear for future of this comic. I put 'Death and the Penguin' in the mix as I hope that one day there will be a film version but I think it might have missed its window. 'Mortal Engines' looks like it has a similar fate, although this is a book I would really like to see make it to the big screen and with a British cast preferably as it is after all, set in London, even if London is a gigantic machine that roams the empty landscapes eating other cities. I read the book after finding at a school fate for 10p, it took me a day. I couldn't put it down except for eating. At the time I read it, it wasn't my type of genre. There were whispers that Peter Jackson was going to take a crack at it but all we can do it hope.

As for 'Flow My Tears, The Policemen Said', this is one of those Philip K Dick adaptations thats been waiting in the side lines for some time. The story, like his other work, is odd and at first difficult to grasp. But with Amazon finally commissioning a full series after the success of the pilot episode of 'The Man in the High Castle', there may yet be hope for Flow My Tears.

'The Other Typist' has a similar story to 'Burial Rites'. It was published then sometime after it was annouced that Keira Knightly would take the lead in the 1920's set story about a typist who works in a police precinct. When another typist arrives, she at first befriends her, falling under her spell. This friendship soon turns to obsession as she tries to find who this other typist really is. Great set up and I'm sure you can imagine the beatuful costumes, atmosphere of the 20's in New York. I've had the book sitting on my shelf waiting in line to be read but I also have a few credits on my Audible account waiting to be used. We'll see shall we.

Now that Part 2 has finally been complete. Anyone out there looking foward to film adaptations? Or tell me what you think about adaptations in general, happy to hear all thoughts.

April Watch List

1. Gattaca 
 The sort of science fiction that wasn't full of gadgets and robots but simply about DNA. If a child is born naturally it is the lower class but if a child has modified DNA, made in a lab, it is the first class citizen and able to do anything. It doesn't matter how hard someone works or how knowledgeable they, if they don't have the right DNA they are made to work menial jobs forever. Gattaca is a company that sends rockets into space, along with crews, of course all these people have the 'right' DNA. Vincent (Ethan Hawke), born naturally and with a heart defect, switches places with Jerome (Jude Law) who has the 'right' DNA and was swimming star until he was paralyzed after an accident. Vincent has a rigorous routine of scrubbing his body of all his own DNA traces and has to masquerade as Jerome. He gets a job at Gattaca Aerospace Corporation and impresses the suits and finally is assigned to be on the next launch to Saturn's moon. But with days until the launch, his eyelash is found near the office of a murdered manager. A search is made for the 'undesirable' making Vincent dodge the authorities until the launch date. It's an interesting subject and the story plays out well, but the involvement of Uma Thurman's character makes the second half of the film a tad messy. We care about Vincent and that he gets to go into space before his predicted death but his relationship with Irene (Thurman) seems a bit pointless next to the bigger picture. I enjoyed it because it wasn't obvious sci-fi and more about the science of the future and if we can change DNA will it change society and how we are surveyed. It is very slow paced too, but I think that only builds the tension for when and if Vincent is discovered. I'm glad I finally got to see it. 3/5

2. French Kiss
Keeping in the 90's, this time a typical rom-com. Despite have a terrible fear of flying, Kate (Meg Ryan), an uptight American teacher, jumps on a plane to Paris after her fiance breaks up with her over the phone. On the plane she meets Luc (Kevin Kline), a French thief. He starts an argument with her to distract her from the plane taking off. Once in the air, she is calmer. Luc hides a packages he has been hiding in Kate's bag with the intention of getting it back from once in Paris. Typical rom-com set up and story ensues. Kate has all her things stolen, including the package Luc hid, so Luc offers to help her find her finace and win him back in exchange for the things he stole. I may be under selling this film but I actually really enjoyed it. As rom-coms go, you cannot go wrong with Kevin Kline or Meg Ryan in the 90s anyway. I'm a huge fan of Kline's, ever since I saw him as the Pirate King. The shanagans that happen during the film didn't make me want to throw things at the screen but what I couldn't fathom was the time frame. Charlie (Timothy Hutton), the finace is in Paris 48 hours and he ends what seems like a steady relationship for a woman who doesn't have anything interesting about her. Even the the 2-3 days that Kate and Luc spend together doesn't seem plausible for the result at the end, even though they have great chemistry in my opinion. It was funny and yes it was romantic and I liked it. There were some great rom-coms in the 90s, wish we could bring some of that magic back for the films out now. 3/5

3. Excess Baggage
I mentioned this 90s film on The Matinee podcast recently, as I had just seen it. I first saw this film on TV one Saturday afternoon. At first I wondered what the hell was going on and thought it was terrible, but I watched the whole thing. Re-watching it on Netflix, I liked it. I know it was a flop when it came out and I can definitely see why. The plot is basic but weak, the script is rather repetitive, the characters seem like parodies from more serious films, BUT its so bad that its good. Rich brat Emily (Alicia Silverstone) just wants her father to care and notice her so she stages a kidnapping, set to hide herself tied up in her car's boot. But before the police can go collect her, car thief Vincent (Benicio del Toro) steals the car, oblivious to the cargo. Chaos literally ensues. Emily's father send his old friend Ray (Christopher Walken) to find his daughter. Vincent's boss sends his people to retrieve money owed after Emily accidentally burns down the garage with all the stolen cars. Throughout all this, a relationship forms between Vincent and Emily. Of course. I'm unsure if this is a comedy (I did laugh, a lot) or a family drama, gentle gangster film, simply crime caper, its hard to categorise this film, mostly because its all over the place. The crazy turns the film makes, it has an ace cast and its perfect for a lazy afternoon watch. 3/5

4. Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box
When this film was announced I thought it would be set to be a big British release. It wasn't. After the trailer was released and screenings, it disappeared until I found it in Tesco for £5 just before Christmas. The film boasts a well known cast as well as up and coming Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard, the reason I was interested in this film. I even tried to read the book it based on 'Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box' by G.P Taylor but I got annoyed with the story and the confusing plot. The film changed quite a bit but for the better to make sense of the whole thing. Mariah goes in search of his brother Felix after he is kidnapped. This is shortly after their parents (Keeley Hawes and Ioan Gruffudd), well known historians are presumed dead after being captured by the infamous Otto Luger (Sam Neil). Mariah is assisted by Captain Will Charity (Michael Sheen) who tells him that his parents work for a secret organisation or something and Luger is after the Midas Box, a powerful object that can turn things to gold or something. It is the first film in what was intended to be a franchise but after watching it, I doubt it. The plot is all over the place. The book had a better set up but the film makes sense of things and cuts out a lot of unnecessary plot lines and explanations. Five minutes into the film and realised that this would make an excellent drinking game just using the word 'box'. It is said a million times. Apart from that thought, I found the film too fast paced and not enough emotional attachment to the characters, things felt too far fetched and villains did not seem much of a threat and they didn't have much motives themselves. A few other floors to the film, particularly the ending, sets up for a sequel but all it does, is question the plot even more. My last through was, there were quite a few Welsh actors in it. 2/5

5. The English Teacher
This appeared in Netflix not long ago, but I can't recall it getting a cinema release here. Julianne Moore is the highschool English teacher, Linda, who leads a safe, predictable life until she meets one of her old students, Jason, who was a promising playwright. She reads his play and becomes obsessed with it. She convinces the school to put the production on at the school, have the drama group perform it. She looses her way when she becomes so involved with the show and wants Jason to be too. She believes that his father is unsupportive, from Jason says and from the contents of the play. This results her having sex with Jason in her classroom after a heated argument with his father. This is so out of character for her but it is an incident that is the start of her downfall. Julianne Moore is always great to watch but I wasn't sure what to make of this. It wasn't a standout character, much like the town where it is set, it's basic and the characters are all ones we have seen before, although I think Nathan Lane's over dramatic drama teacher is fantastic. I kept thinking there would be more but I ended up predicting all the events. Maybe I'm being too harsh. 3/5

6. While We're Young
So many discussions were sparked from watching this film. After my friend and I watched it, we came out annoyed but satisfied. I thought the film would be about a married couple in their 40s making friends with a married couple in their 20s, but it was more and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cordelia (Naomi Watts), both documentary filmmakers, in their 40s, no children are in a rut. Their close friends have just had a child and have focused their whole lives around it, or so it seems. Josh has been making a film for 10 years and Cordelia feels that this has held them back from enjoying life and being spontaneous, especially without the worry of children. They did try but that is in the past and seems too painful to go into detail. After a lecture he is giving, Josh is approached by Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), he is an aspiring documentary filmmaker and she makes ice cream. Josh is flattered by Jamie's comments about his work and a friendship blossoms. Soon the couples are hanging out together, making plans together, Jamie even asks Josh to help on a film idea he has come up with. But its a Noah Baumbach film, nothing is smooth sailing. Without giving anything more away, I'll stop with the plot. I actually discussed the film on The Matinee podcast recently and what was said on there pretty much sums up what I thought about the movie. The characters of Josh and Jamie are at the forefront and the women seem to be less taken care of, Darby even describes herself as 'the girl to Jamie's hitchhiker'. The film is about creativity and integrity in filming which I really enjoyed as its not addressed like in a typical Hollywood style, it feels realistic no matter how annoying you can believe it. Another aspect I admired was that the film was about married couples and they don't have affairs. It was so refreshing to watch relationships that weren't about fidelity. I really enjoyed this film and in some small way relate to struggle that Josh goes through as well having met people like Jamie and knowing they are not to be trusted. 4/5

7. Paddington 

I actually tried to get a job on this film but alas this wasn't meant to be. But I did get to watch one of my childhood characters come to life and not in the stop motions cardboard like animated series I used to love. First impression of Paddington was, I absolutely loved the set documentary film, it made perfect sense, had the director, Paul King's touch but keeping in true nature to the books. My second thought was, how adorable Paddington was. Emotional from start to finish. From the tragic moment in darkest Peru, to when he's evacuated to England, to meeting the Brown family to making an impression to the showdown in the Natural History Museum (great use of the place by the way, its an amazing building) to touching end. It's a beautiful film and I'm so glad I got to enjoy it at home instead surrounded by screaming kids who don't understand how important Paddington is to the older generations. 4/5

8. A Little Chaos
When I saw this in the BFI London Film Festival catalogue last year, I very nearly bought a ticket but at the that minute I decided not to, mostly because I had already spent enough money on other tickets and because I thought the general release would be sooner. Three things about this captured my attention. 1. Kate Winslett was in it and I like her most things, she is one of my favourite actresses. 2. Alan Rickman was directing it, this intrigued me. 3. Matthias Schoenaerts was in it and remembered him from Rust and Bone. When the trailer was released I was very excited. Since that release, I and most casting directors I'm sure have become obsessed with Schoenaerts. Set in France during the building of Versailles gardens. Sabine De Barra (Kate Winslett) is commissioned by famous landscape artist Andre le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to build the rock grove. She has to navigate life at court as well as successfully build the much anticipated garden. A relationship forms between De Barra and Le Notre attracting the attention of his scheming wife. From the first scene, I felt the film was oddly put together, meaning the edit. It doesn't run smoothly. I wasn't unsure if this was deliberate as the film is called 'a little chaos', this was meant to be reflected in the film structure. I had seen reviews and they either been unkind or average. I thought the film was beautifully shot, the costumes especially exquisite and the casting was perfect. Winslett is always amazing to watch and here she was in her element, proof that there are good roles for women in late 30s early 40s. In fact I quite sure that all the main speaking roles for women, they are not younger than 35, which is unusual and a revelation. Alan Rickman, taking a role in front of the camera as well as behind it, is in his element as King Louis XIV, giving rather pompous speeches as well as taking a quiet moment/day to grieve his dead Queen. Schoenaerts was calming character, showing restraint and order. He seemed wearied by his position, his annoying wife and is resigned to his situation, but there are precious few glimpses of emotion, mostly during scenes with Winslett. I would have liked to see and feel more from their relationship and not just expressed through the garden and plants. The film actually made me want to do more gardens and made me appreciate all the visits to Chelsea Flower Show when I was younger and my dad designed gardens for the newspaper he worked for. I am also now even more excited about (hopefully) visiting the real gardens of Versailles this year. I think this film has been treated harshly, there is beauty in it I cannot express enough how Winslett shines in this. Brilliant film. 4/5

9. Mortdecai
I enjoyed the book the film was based on 'Don't Point That Thing At Me' by Kyril Bonfiglioli as it was humerous, odd and for the most part, easy to read apart from the clunky start. However, this cannot be said for the film adaptation. First off, the story is fabricated. Mortdecai doesn't have a wife until much later on, which is probably why I was constantly irritated by the character's presence. She, Joannna (Gwyneth Paltrow), really wasn't needed apart from to be a reason for Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) and Martland (Ewan McGregor) to argue in a petty school way. It was rather tiresome. The most interesting scenes in the film were actually between Mortdecai and his man servant Jock, an actually well cast Paul Bettany. Mortdecai, dramatic aristocratic art dealer/art thief, has run out of money so when he hears that a missing Goya painting has resurfaced and been stolen AND that is a matter of national security, he sets out to find and bring it back or does he?

The story in the book came across interesting, don't know why by art theft always feel refreshing even though its nothing new, in the film is a muddled mess mixed in with Depp's Terry Thomas impressions. The plot had no urgency to it, nothing felt like 'national security' was in danger. There was too much focus on Mortdecai's new moustache  and his marriage. The casting wasn't great either. Depp, who used to be a great character actor has been reduced to Tim Burton puppet or 'man who appears in films that failed'. I thought he would be great but alas my hopes were dashed. He was funny, he and Bettany together even better. Whatever character he created was hilarious but it wasn't Mortdecai. I cannot even be bothered to go into detail why Joanna and Martland were miscast. In short, the book was better. 2/5

10. Frances Ha

So, it's about experiencing your own situation/problems/obstacles from bad to worse to good. Frances never gives up, she tries her hardest at the same time taking the 'easy' way out. I was worried at the start as everything seemed too good to be true vibes. Frances is following her dream of being a modern dancer, she goes out and has fun, she lives with her best friend 'we're the same person but with different hair' and she even has a boyfriend who wants to live with her. But the latter is where things take a turn making this film amazing and relatable to anyone who has tried, failed, tried again and made a little sacrifice to make progress. When she breaks up with her boyfriend because she would rather live with her best friend, who, at the same time is leaving her for a better apartment. The film is split into sections, all starting off with where she is living. The first part, is bliss. The second is still fun and unrealistic, especially when she looses her job and one her roommates continuously calls her 'undateable' whenever she says something a little off. She then stays with a sort of colleague who makes her feel inferior and childish. After that limited offer to stay expires, she ends up moving back into her old college dorms for the Summer while being paid to be an R.A. But it all turns around after a surprise visit from her best friend. She takes an admin job at her old dance company place while creating a new dance piece. It's her stepping stone and she finally gets her own place. To me, this is inspiring as I'm almost at this age where I will have to sacrifice the artist in me to get a move on and the determination and strange optimism Frances has is great. Also, what I liked about this was that no character at any point felt fake. It was all very real and we all knew it but it wasn't over dramatised. It was simple, like the final dance. 4/5

Avengers: Age of Ulron

I saw this film last week but I was mulling over how to approach this brief paragraph to express how much I enjoyed this film. It wasn't 'just another Marvel' film, it was an epic action film about a group of friends/colleagues who have to fight against a dellusional almighty robot. Unlike all the previous films (and TV shows, except Daredevil) there wasn't really any tie in with the previous films at the start, the film just starts, with a snowy bang. Things are explained throughout the sequence but not to the point it was all clear what was happening. At least not until I saw this week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That aside, I loved the film, Wheadon has really made this (part of the) franchise his own. Screen time and story time was spread out much more evenly between the characters. The main focus of Ultron as a delciously evil and civil sounding overlord robot, voiced to perfect by James Spader was not kicked  to the side. The Avengers even had time to develop their own personal issues away from the team. For me Hawkeye and Captain America were the stand outs, mainly because they had some of the best lines. 'We're on a flying city. We're fighting robots. I have a bow and arrows. None of this makes sense!' A pep talk from Hawkeye himself. CA had the saddest storyline of internal emotions still not yet laid to rest and I think he always will, he is the man out of his time. I don't want to spoil anything but I think that non X-Men versions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch made excellent additions and proved their worth in the fight. I admit I did roll my eye at the whole, Black Widow- Bruce Banner romance as it kind of came out of nowhere and was annoying, yes, they're both monsters, apparently. One of my favourite moments is just before it all kicks off. The gang are all relaxing and joking around trying to pick up Thor's hammer. The film/story balances the playful moments with the plot heavy, serious ones and it feels like that the films are only getting better.

Friday 24 April 2015

So Fetch Friday: Summertime

As I am such a nerd, when I think of Summer, the first thing I think of is, 'what films are out?' and 'I hope it's sunny'. Two things that don't really fit together.

 As I will be pretty broke this Summer, my big spends with be towards a short break with a few friends and buying a new laptop as the one I am using right now shut off randomly every 10 minutes. The Apple store are next to useless, but my brother in law has been really awesome and prolonged the laptop's life a little longer. But after so many issues, it's time to say goodbye. So I am looking forward to (fingers crossed) getting a new laptop, at some point.

This Summer, apart from movies, its going to be about the little things. Through my work, we sponsor a few charities and we get a day off to volunteer at a charity. Last my friend and I went to Vauxhall City Farm and had a great time, so, this year we're going back and I can't wait to see all the animals again.

In June, I also start my pottery classes. I felt like doing something new and that I know nothing about. Plus I know I'll be feeling the empty spot in my calender after my writing course finishes.

Other than these little things, I'm just hoping for a good Summer, some sunshine, not too sweltering hot and the chance to wear my new hat without the wind blowing it away.

Join in on SO FETCH FRIDAY started up by Girl Meets Cinema

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Thursday Movie Pick: Superheroes

 This is my first post joining on Thursday Movie Picks from Wandering Through The Shelves blog. I know the picks are for Superhero movies specifically otherwise Sin City would have made the list. Of course Guardians of the Galaxy should be on my list - saw it at the cinema not enough times but I thought these would be better picks.

The Mask
Technically The Mask does fall under the superhero category. He has super powers and does do some good. The 'he' of the story is Stanly Ipkiss (Jim Carey) regular guy, works at the bank which is eventually robbed by evil 'gangster' Dorian Tyrell. Stanly finds an old wooden mask after being rejected from Tyrell's club. While wearing the mask he becomes, essentially a cartoon that's more confident and wild. But when Stanly removes the mask he has to deal with the consequences left behind. There is more of a plot but with all the crazy antics from The Mask and Jim Carey having an excuse to be crazy, it doesn't seem as important. A great 90s film with the strangest superhero.

I know this wasn't received particularly well and everything is backwards when compared to the comic book source material BUT if you watch this film and imagine that it is completely separate from the comic, its actually a really great film. John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is trying to buy his way into heaven but sending demons back to hell. These creatures of darkness walk side by side with the humans on Earth as well as Angels from heaven. He can see them and has the power to banish them. Constantine committed suicide or tried to when he was younger and as it is a mortal sin he destined to go to hell when he dies. When a young woman jumps off her building, her police officer twin sister (Rachel Weisz) seeks his help for the truth. It's the kind of superhero movie that brings religion into the story but in an interesting way. Also, Tilda Swinton, ever the amazing actress plays Gabriel (gender is left ambiguous) and is definitely a scene stealer, so see it for her if anything.

This seemed like an obvious choice to me as it is adapted from one the greatest comics written. I read the book in a few days, digesting it and from there, I couldn't wait for the film. Again, this was met with controversy from the die hard Alan Moore fans. He of course hated it as he hates everything, but the artist, Dave Gibbons, endorsed it, good for him. The film is a sparlling masterpiece, telling a story across decades about two groups of masked vigilantes as they draw closer to the doomsday. The opening credits are particularly amazing, to those who know the book, will or should appreciate how the beginnings and feeling of the public can be explained with Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' and a montage. The casting for this film was particularly spot on with a special mention to Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. Beautifully created by Zack Snyder, every shot its perfect and for me it did feel like the comic coming to life.

Saturday 18 April 2015

So Fetch Friday: Memorable Songs

I have finally joined So Fetch Friday! Can't believe its taken me this long to join in the weekly post that Katy from Girl Meets Cinema started. Anyway on with the post!

This weeks topic is: Memorable song from University. There was so much happening during Uni and it all seems so long ago, 4 years nearly 5 years ago. The first songs that come to mind are ones I used for my films and songs that always used to play at the Forum, our student union bar. Whoa. I can't even remember what the first union bar was called.

I remember playing more songs in my room in halls, Telford Court, ah, fond memories of playing 'All Along the Watchtower' on repeat to annoy my downstairs neighbour. Good times.

 While in halls, I was in Room 1. My neighbour in room 2 changed twice and they both Americans from Oklahoma University. The first guy I remember telling me how much he liked The Flaming Lips and that they were from Oklahoma City. I told him I was in a production of the show, Oklahoma once and started singing (I had been drinking I might add). He then gave me all the albums from the band. This song stuck in my head as I had heard it before. I ended up using it as the basis of a script I wrote and used the song in the credits.

This song reminds me of 2nd & 3rd year when I lived in a house with my friends. My friend and I would always watch Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, even watched it back to back.

This song played all the time at Forum and The Font? (I that was it). Sometimes they even played it twice. That was annoying.

I became obsessed with this song after I saw the video. I played this on repeat until I was sick of it too. But since then, its had a revival. For me, I mean

I think I was obsessed with this song too as I remember this song coming out towards the end of my 1st year and my friend and I used to listen to this while in the edit suite.

We also listened this on a loop in the edit suite too while drinking 5 cups of a coffee an hour!

Thursday 16 April 2015

The Afternoon Movie - The Secret of NIMH

 Continuing very slowly my adaptation theme, I thought it had been quite a few months since the last 'Afternoon Movie' post and that it was high time for another. 

Perfect for those lazy weekends or indeed afternoons. The 1982 Don Bluth classic, 'The Secret of NIMH', based on the book 'Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH' was one of those film we had on VHS. My sister and I loved it. I always remember quoting and so did my family, 'Move your house, to the lean of the stone.' Seems random and out of context for those who haven't enjoyed it yet, I apologise for this.

The story is about a field mouse, Mrs Brisby (changed from Frisby) who's husband, Jonathan has recently died. She seeks help from a fellow mouse, Mr Ages, as her youngest son is sick and cannot move from bed. To make matters worse, 'moving day' is upon her family and all the other animals tha live in the fields of the farm. This means the farmer is going to plow the fields with a tractor and will wreck the inhabitants homes. Desperate for a solution, Mrs Brisby, braves a visit to the 'Great Owl' with the help from her friend, Jeremy the clumsy crow. The owl only offers advise after finding out she is Jonathan's widow. He tells her to seek help from the rats that live in the rose bush in the farmers garden. At first the rats do not want to help but eventually agree to move the Brisby home to safety, again, only because of Jonathan. Mrs Brisby finds out that Jonathan, along with the rats all came from NIMH, where they were experimented on. The treatment and torture resulted in them becoming intelligent, almost to the level of a human. The rats, lead by the wise old Nicodemus, have devised a plan to escape the farm and start a colony elsewhere, but Jenner, an angry violent rat, opposes this idea and plans to kill Nicodemus to push his own agenda. There is a showdown between rats during the moving of the Brisby home, putting the family in danger.

Trying not to spoil the ending, there is also a weird supernatural element to the story involving a magic red stone that can cause miracles, but I really want those who haven't seen it to enjoy an air of mystery.

The book was written by Robert C O'Brien in 1972 and was inspired by research about mice and rats dynamics at The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from the 40's to the 60's. I read the book while at secondary school and at first, I didn't like it, I was too used to the animated film. But as we, the class, got through it, I ultimately preferred the book. The change of names aside, the true story is still there. The horror of what happened to the mice and rats in lab is carried across in the film as well as the danger of the plow for all the animals. But the weird, some what uncomfortable super stone side element is not in the book, and the story has more focus because of it. But, it is such a small part of the whole plot, it might not bother others as it did me.

Apart from the Don Bluth classic touch to this film, the animation isn't too bad for the 80s (outside of Disney). The story has a strong female lead, Mrs Brisby, who is literally willing to do absolutely anything to not get her child out of bed to save her family, especially her sick son, Timothy. It was also a great background story that may seem like it overshadows the present story, but when Nicodemus relates how they escaped from NIMH is actually one of the best sequences in the film. It also highlight blatant animal cruelty and the effects of humans interfering with nature to help themselves. That might be a bit too deep.

While watching it recently, I began to take in the shock and absolute horror that the film presents. For the farmer, its just a small chore, plowing the back field but for all the animals, it means danger, having to evacuate and literally run for their lives, just as Aunty Shrew yells. The animals are terrified, these feeling were not as clear to me when I was younger, I just animals worried, running away, that's it. Mrs Brisby definitely goes through at least 5 traumas a day from flying on a crow, meeting an owl that might eat her to confronting violent rats who love electricity.

If you are a fan of the film, I would recommend the book, just to see the differences. I would suggest that you steer clear of the direct to video sequel, 'The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the rescue'. The disturbing poster is enough to put you off as well as the fact Don Bluth had nothing to do with it.

The film is out there to buy on DVD, watch on youtube and I think I've seen a VHS copy floating around some charity shop too. Delve into the small world of mice, rats and a secret that isn't really a secret, you won't regret it.