Friday 29 May 2015

Fandom Friday: Fictional Characters I Identify With

For a short while I thought it was just the cast of Girls, and I still sort of do but I couldn't identify with just one alone, its a mixture. But if I had to pick 5 characters, these would be them.

Liz Lemon
I use her quite frequently in my examples but its because she is just so darn right. I agree with her on so important matters, such as the imprtance of cheese and meat plates and will have similar reactions to stupidly named bars, sometimes they are 'hipster nonsence'. I like to think I share her optimisim on some world views, everybody does just want a good sandwich. And od course, we like to write and give advice on things that we don't entirely know or understand, that's a dealbreaker ladies.

Daisy Steiner
Again, another writer, this time from British sitcom, 'Spaced'. I did at one time dress like I the 90s was thrown on me, probably still do from time to time. She is lazy but she's a good friend and is always ready to do something crazy and dramatic like break into a research facility to save her dog, Collin. I also think her decorating skills are pretty damn good, tin foil on everything. And her speech about boyfriends and sandwich toasters was spot on:

Daisy: In the end, our relationship was just like a sandwich toaster. You know, you just forget you've got one. And it just sits there on the top of the cupboard collecting a layer of greasy fudge. And even if you do see it you just assume it's broken, you think if it's working I'd be using it all the time, but you don't and it just sits there. Then one day, you get an overwhelming desire for toasted sandwiches, you know? And you get it down and it works, and you can't believe it, you know? And then you make every kind of toasted sandwich there is, you have toasted sandwich parties. You make Marmite and cheese, chocolate and...
Tim: Pilchards.
Daisy: Banana and...
Bilbo Bagshot: Acorns.
Daisy: Acorns. And then as quickly as the desire comes, it just goes. And then you put the toaster sandwich maker away. And, you know what?
Tim: What?
Daisy: You don't miss it.
Bilbo Bagshot: So what you're saying is 'Don't hide the toasted sandwich maker away, use him regularly and you'll get the most out of him'.
Tim: No, she's saying 'Chuck your boyfriend, have a sandwich'.

Miranda Hart
From the sitcom 'Miranda'. I few friends have said that I'm like Miranda, not sure whether to take this as a compliment or not, I'm still on the fence. Although I love the show, I do see a bit of myself in the characters, especially some of her ideas and ways to have fun - not including fruit friends, that's a tad too far, I draw the line walking across the floor in oven gloves like a duck. And yes savoury muffins are a crime against baking.

The loveable weirdo from Community. I said he would be my best friend but I also think Abed and I have many things in common. I often catch myself saying 'this is the part in the film where we leave' etc to friends and family. It's really quite meta. I also think and dream in film or TV mode, its very entertaining. Plus I am always quoting TV and films, sometimes even when I know no one's watched what I'm quoting.

Heather Mooney
A class mate of Romy and Michelle's, I just love the character and her attitude is great. Heather and I wear black, all the time, but I don't smoke but I do like to make fun of bullying bimbos anyday. Heather is ace.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Mother-Son Relationships (Biologically Related)

Nice long title for this one, 'All in the Family Edition: Mother-Son Relationships (Biologically Related)' this week.

I know a friend of mine would jump straight to 'Savage Grace' but I'm going to side step any incesteuos picks. I have to admit that, after looking through my DVD collection, I don't favour films with mother-son centered relationships. But here goes:

How to Train Your Dragon 2
In the first film, its all about finding his own way, young Hiccup has strained relationship with his Dad and Chief and doesn't seem to have much in common until much later so it goes as follows that he would be like his Mum right? Correct! She is a great character and edition even though her reasons for staying away were actually ridiculous. She has the 'dragon charmer' gene from his Mum and the understanding of the creatures but the sense of adventure and what is right seems like Hiccup all on his own. Their reunion is odd but accepted quickly, giving time for them to bond with dragons.

Darjeeling Limited
The story is all about three brothers who handled their Father's death in different ways. It is also a story about three brothers coming together and just becoming brothers again, it usually takes a tragedy and or a quest to do this. It all happens in one story. Trying to find meaning in their Mother's swift disappearence and when finding her, she stays just a short while only to disappear from them again. Abandonment brings them together. But the moment that the three brothers grow up and realise that they don't need their Mother is near the end. Francis removes the bandages and says 'I guess I still have some healing to do'. His brothers are by his side.

Ed and His Dead Mother
Being a fan of Steve Buscemi I came across this little wonder when looking through his film history and realised I had never seen it. Buscemi plays Ed, run down hardware store clerk, is devastated when his beloved Mother dies. After a mysterious man offers the opportunity (money first of course) to revive his Mother he does. Chaos ensues and the lesson learned is; do not try to revive someone from the dead, they are never the same. But Ed throughout it still a real mamma's boy.

Don't forget to checkout Wandering Through the Shelves - the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

May Watch List

1. Les Combattants
 Called 'Love at First Fight' elsewhere or will be called this elsewhere. Although it is partly true, that title, dumbs down the story between Madeleine and Arnaud. She is aggressive and outspoken, while is calm and sweet natured. After being transfixed by her, he follows her into signing up for a military program. Where she is keen to do hard training but shot down for being too forward, he continues along doing well with the tasks asked of him. The tipping point is when she questions his authority during an orienteering exercise. This being the final straw for him, leaves but this time she follows. They escape and its their time in the woods alone things come to a head, in a symbolic and tension freeing way. I really enjoyed this film, especially as the leads had such great chemistry, switching up the character traits with her being the 'hot head' and him being 'calm and collected'. The film has won awards and so far talk about the film has been 'so-so' but I think the characters are refreshing and the comedic moments are well dispersed. 3/5
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
 How do I begin with this Mad Max film? Maybe by answering all those, let's face it, men, complaining that the film was dominated by Charlize Theron's Furiosa and not enough of Tom Hardy's Max. To them I say, please do shut up. The film is not a feminist riot. Women, yes do take centre stage and there are more women than men in the 'main' cast catagory but why does this matter? Doesn't it show that films have progressed and that stories, even big blockbuster films can be about women too? All the films are about Mad Max and how he survives in the wilderness, but all the films aren't solely about him, they're also about the people he encounters. If you really want to summerise the epic film that is Fury Road, you could say its about a strong woman who saves three women from being owned by a crazy dictator. They all go on a road trip to find a better place to live. Also Max is there.

The film is more than these sexist views about the film. It begins with Max's story, then intercuts with two others, Furiosa who drives a war tank and Nux (Nicholas Hoult) a 'war boy' in the crazy dictator Immortan Joe's army. Max is captured and used as blood bank for Nux. When Joe realise that his prize possessions, the last breeders, his 5 wives have been kidnapped/saved by Furiosa, so begins the epic road trip/war to bring them back. Max, is caught up in another war (as you remember this happens quite frequently). At first reluctant, nearly driving off leaving the women stranded, but soons he is part of the gang trying to escape the clutches of the actuallt really disgusting and truely terrible being, Immortan Joe. The film doesn't break away and reboot anything, its stays with the universise of the other three films but on a bigger playing field. Everything from the machines, vehicles, costumes, the language and the just the characters themselves are brilliantly executed in screen. I only have a few qualms but they are just my own views (one is a plot spoiler, so I won't do that). It was mainly Hardy's choice of accent, it was part Bane, part American, part Austrailian, let's just say it was odd. If you liked the classics, you will not be disappointed. If you like road movies with violence, you won't be disappointed. If you're sexist and only like films where men take the centre stage, grow up, Furiosa is coming for you. 4/5

 3. Moomins on the Riveria 
The scary images of The Congress aside, long live 2D animation in all its beautiful glory. This Finnish-French production of a new story based on the characters by beloved author Tove Jansson and the comic strips by Tove and her brother Lars, is simply long overdue. Not only is the storyline in keeping with the adventers of the Moomins but the designs are truely amazing, as of they were lifted straight from the books and comic strips. The use of colour is very strong, especially in the settings. Bright yellows and pinks for the Riveria and bright blues, greys and reds for Moomin Valley. As well as the main story, there are a few small story plots that develop to the side which just adds to the sheer delight of the whole film. I say this was long overdue but I'm glad that time was spent making it worthy of the original work. A film that all Moomin fans will enjoy and one that will convert new fans too. 4/5

4. Clouds of Sils Maria
Juliette Binoche is a great actress, Kristen Stewart in the past has not been but the two of them make a brilliant and compelling team. The film, about a middle aged actress who is goes to the Alps to prefer for a role she is not completely committed to. Having played the role of Sigrid at 18 years old in the acclaimed fictional play 'Maloja Snake', Maria Enders (Binoche) is asked to play the older character, Helena in the play who is madly in love with Sigrid and ultimately kills herself. That, is the basis of the plot, but there is so much underneath that is just under the surface of Maria. Valentine (Stewart) is the secondary character but she is forever expressing the opposite and sounded opinion needed to groud Maria. The film would make an excellent play on its own, even though that setting whould lose the amazing views of the Alps and eponymous cloud formation (Maloja Snake) of the play within a film. Comments about actresses, films and genres today are also brought up and are discussed intelligently, expressing interesting opinions from both characters. A great film and brilliantly acted, two great roles for women, wish there was more of these. 3/5

5. The Congress
After seeing the trailer I was intrigued by the story and I was mezmerised by Ari Foldman's Waltz with Bashir documentary, so I thought it was time I watched the film. Beyond the set up of Robin Wright playing a version of herself where she offered by the studio, one last contract, where they scan her image in everyway, including emotions, and she never acts again. She does this, ultimately to take care of her sick son. Then 20 years later, her contract is up for renewal, she is asked by the studio to appear at the Futurological Congress, in a strictly animated zone. She attends the congress which is in a bizarre world, but things take a turn when rebels attack the city. The film and story enters a whole other reality, literally and it becomes confusing to follow. Time passes but she looks the same and familiar characters pop up throughout, its hard to follow but looking past that, the 2D animantion gives the film and story something strange and unnerving to look at. For the first time the animation is unsettling but its meant to be. 3/5

6. Far From the Madding Crowd
I've written quite a post comparing the 1967 film directed by John Schlesinger and the newer 2015 version by Thomas Vinterberg. Here is a link to that post. 4/5

7. Tomorrowland 
I was sceptical about this film, another based on a theme park area/ride, but I thought, let's give it a chance, it is directed by Brad Bird after all. Like a few other reviews have said, it is hard to describe the story and I don't think I would want to. Casey, a teen who tries to stop a rocket launchpad from being destroyed, as this would cause her dad to lose his job, gets arrested. Upon being released she comes across a pin that allows her to see another dimension or the future as the case may be.  After trying to track down where it came from and how it allowed her do so, she ends up being chased by robots and a mysterious young girl Athena. This leads on to Casey meeting Frank, a grump middle aged man who knows about the pin and Athena. From there its best I stop as its gets complicated and I don't want to spoil anything. The first half the film is brilliant, it hooks you into the story, bar the annoying talking to the camera part which turns out is necessary, but I felt the second half leaned more to a mixture of 'family fun', gadgets galore and the old schmaltzy, 'need to save the world' plot line. The film had potential but in the end was a family film where 'be positive' is the message, I expected more. 3/5

Sunday 24 May 2015

Best Things Come In Threes

There is no escaping it, if a film is successful and is based on a series of books, or a continuation of an old popular trilogy, or the idea makes billions, you know there will be 3 films.

Things come in 3s.

There has been an influx of reboots, remakes and ridiculous attempts lately. Franchioses aside, everything from Sci-fi to romanic dramas have been given the trilogy treatment. There has also been quite a few old trilogies that have been blessed or cursed with a 4th enstallment. I'm taking about you, Indiana Jones and your crystal skull nonsense.

This year we're seeing sequels gallore or continuations. To name a few, Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Force Awkens, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mockingjay Part 2, Scortch Trials, Insurgent...

But I think, as much as I am excited about these films, we should take a leaf out of the classic film making handbook of big blockbuster movies, the best things come in threes. Or just stand alones.

Back to the Future is probably one of the last trilogies left untouched by the '4th film' enstallment and so it should be. Set up as a trilogy to begin with, each film was needed to follow up and interwine with each other, they all had a purpose. Much like the original Star Wars films and unfortunately, like the later trilogy too, no matter how awful it was, the films connected, weakly.

The Lord of the Rings is a perfect, beautiful example of a trilogy with purpose. Adapted from 3 novels that followed on from each and connected. It is, in my opinion the greatest trilogy, but I am huge Tolien and Middle Earth fan so I would say that. There was something so pure about these films, there weren't just an achievement in filmmaking but in storytelling too. Although, at first I didn't agree with The Hobbit being turned into 3 films, still don't, I love all three, thus another great trilogy created.

The Matrix trilogy, was not a great idea. The first film was beyond groundbreaking. Truely one of the greatest sci-fi movies but it has two heavy shadows hanging over it, Revolutions and Revelations. Sounds like a rejected chapter of the Bible but thats what the makers called it. I know the sequels were made side by side but didn't really sit well with the first film. The Wachowskis saw success and got carried away. This is a running trend with other trilogies.

 Not to leave out the Westerns and in all honesty I haven't seen the middle film, but The Man With No Name trilogy inspired so many parodies, as well as excellent films and TV. Clint Eastwood became a huge star and even starred in a musical without anyone batting an eyelind. Although the films are brilliantly made, you could watch them out of order and it wouldn't matter.

I thought this about the classic Mad Max trilogy, except that you would need to see the first film to understand him in the second two, but these were stand alone stories that were connected by the character and the setting, which is why the new installment fitted so well into the world of Mad Max.

As we all know films that find success these days set on auto pilot to get sequels and become a franchise. Pirates of the Caribbean had a great stand alone film, brought pirates films back on the film map and started the trend of creating stories from theme park rides. While also starting the downfall of Johnny Depp's career. Pirates suffered the same curse as the Matrix. The follow up films didn't gel well with the previous film's caliber. World's End was just terrible. When a fourth film was made, it was slightly better, as it was stand alone story and thus far more interesting. But the talk about yet another adventure on the high seas does sound the alarm bells.

With Young Adult series being adapted for the big screen, this has started a whole new trend. There are three books in the series so let's split the last book into two parts to make more money and loose quality of story and annoy fans. This annoys me like crazy. Having to wait a year for each film is bad enough but cutting the films into 4? That's just ridiculous and we have the makers of Twilight to thank for that. I know there were 4 books but it was turned into 5. Too much I say, too much. Now Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner series are all following suit. Actually it hasn't been confirmed for the latter but you know it will be the same.

Another trilogy that I actually quite relish is the unofficial kind. The films, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End are commonly known as 'The Cornetto Trilogy' as each film features a different colour of classic cornetto ice cream and sort of follows the colour scheme of that cornetto. None of the films are connected apart from a few 'in jokes' and that they were written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. The trilogy that all creative and no curse.

Have a look for any trilogies coming out soon, including 4th installents or the lauch of a second round of trilogies following on from the first. Then question whether any new and original ideas will appear.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies based on a Non-Superhero Graphic Novel/Comic

Long title but its important that these two are separate, superhero and non-superhero. I really wanted to include Scott Pilgrim as I absolutely love the series and the film was brilliantly done but I was on the fence whether Scott Pilgrim counted as a superhero as he doesn't technically have powers but crazy things happen and many of the characters can do poweful things so I thought it best to chose another in it's place.

1. Sin City
Of course I had to include this film, it's my favourite film. Some people have questioned this choice. My sister couldn't understand why I chose the film as its derogatory to women. Yes, the original series was created by Frank Miller who has a twisted mind but created some amazing artwork and this inspired the unique look of the film and yes all the women featured are either prostitutes and sluts but, there are strong powerful, sometimes violent women, who can defend themselves. Look beyound the basic characteristics and the costumes and the female characters are just as rich as the men. But I love this film and stories because at the time it was made and released, there was nothing like it and to be honest there have been other films trying to be like it but nothing compares the originality and design of the film. I read a few of the books too and the films stay true to the source material. It's just a shame about the sequel/prequel.

2. Tamara Drewe

Originally written and drawn by Posey Simmonds, the graphic novel was superb and entertaining. I particularly love the art work and the way the story unfolds. Based loosly on Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, the books is told from three characters' perspectives on events usually surrounding Tamara Drewe. The film, based on the graphic novel, captures the characters perfectly, especially the two teenagers who are the cause of so many problems, Casey and Jody. Although there is tragic end in the graphic novel in keeping with Hardy's work, the film ended more positive which worked cinematically. It was described as a soap like tale, its nothing like that, its drama with comedy and the country all in one.

3. Tintin 
I had mixed feeling about this film when it was first announced, especially when they said it would be 3D and done using motion capture. As more photos and news came in, I got excited. I've loved the comics since I was really young, even go on about the best exhibition that was on at The Maritime Museum, Tintin at Sea. I even specifically wanted to go Brussels to go to the Comic Strip Museum and for beer of course. Tintin is part of my childhood, left the same way about Paddington but Tintin more. When I first saw the finished photo of what the character looked like, my faith was restored and I was so excited. I love the film. Some 'fans' have been split about it but I couldnt love it more. The story is a combination of 3 books in one which actually work. I really hope another is made as there are still other great characters to discover.

Have a look here at the blog that started Thursday Picks; Wandering through the Shelves

Friday 15 May 2015

Fandom Friday: Watchable Shows

I have to admit, trying to narrow this list down to just 5 is really hard, I could probaby get the list down to a top 10, but even then, I've be struggling. So, instead of including all the shows that I love and rewatched like Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation (which I still need to finish) abs Sabrina the Teenage Witch as the show is awesome, I've gone for the shows that I watched rapidly and a couple of rookies, if that's even a thing ....

1. Community
Not only have I have some friends say I should watch the show, my sister and my brother in law said it but the internet also kept telling me. The internet and the TV powers that be wanted me to watch the show so much that they put it on Netflix, all 5 seasons. I had nothing to watch so, I was absorbed into Greendale Community College singing Pierce you're a bee, playing paintball shoot outs, real zombie attacks, getting Changnisa or whatever its called, thinking me and Abed are two halves of a whole, I absorbed it all. I watched all 5 seasons in less than a week. I couldn't stop. After I watched it, I waited a week or so, then watched it all over again. I wanted to fight for Blanketsburg, take part in any of the dances happening, watch Troy and Abed in the Morning. POP POP! I love the show. But what's weird is, I haven't seen Season 6, not sure how to be honest.

2.Agents of Shield
This is a show I could watch all the time. They had me at 'I'm engineering, she's biochem'. I loved that the only character that we knew was Coulson, I loved that the cast was a group of people I had never seen (apart from Fitz & Simmons - British TV) before. It worked. Of course the show did spawn my biggest obession since Starbuck and Apollo, that's right, FitzSimmons. My favourite characters and the heart of the show, or at least, they were. They were ruined, torn apart, only to finally find each other again and then (SPOILER) been taken apart YET again. Anyway, I love the show, cannot wait for season 3. I rewatched Seaon 1 just before Season 2 finale, over two days.

3. Battlestar Galactica
I thank my friend Alex for introducing me to Battlestar Galactica. I gave her 30 Rock and she gave me this amazing show. Apart from 30 Rock, its still one of the best shows EVER made. And the kick? It's a remake of an 80s series. How can I express how amazing this show is in a few sentances? It's a science fiction film which is actually a military show mixed with a survival story with added Cylons. Humanities last hope ina few ships searching the galaxy for a new home, Earth. With added astrology in the mix it was an instant hit. I didn't watch this show as fast as some of the others as only 4 seasons were out when I started, I loved it so much I carefully drip fed myself the episodes not wanting to run out of BSG. Each year, at some point, I rewatch the entire series, it just, needs to be done. I put myself on this emotional journey and get punched in the stomach season 5 and then say 'y'know, the finale, really isn't that bad'.

4. American Horror Story
I'm not a fan of horror. But I was drawn to this series like damn moth to the flame. I hate moths too. I think what possessed me to watch the show was that it was on Netflix. If you're running out of things to watch, Netflix has the answer. I was actually scared of the show but I couldn't take my eyes off it. I watched seasons 1-3 in a week and a few days. I really enjoyed the fact that each season was its own contained story, a new setting, new cast members, new characters and that there was a new theme in each story, infidelity, sanity, oppression and discrimination. I know many people, fans didn't enjoy Coven but I like it, Freak Show had a great concept but not much more. My favourite so far is still Murder House and I did enjoy Asylum but I found this the most terrifying but still massively disappointed by its terrible final 2 or 3 episodes, they actually ruined the season with those. I cannot wait for Season 5, Hotel, perfect setting.

5. GreenWing
I needed a British show in here, fly the flag and all. But this, this was the first TV show I was all fan freaky over. I went to meet the actors and get the DVD signed when each series came out. I have photos of the younger me with one of favourite British actors, Stephen Mangan. He's hilarious. The show is just pitch perfect with the characters and the bizarre stories. Through the crazy-ness that happens, real stories happen. The first couple in TV we (British public) got obsessed about, Caroline and Mac, Caromac. It's surprising how a comedy drama set in a hospital about the staff from various departments could be award winning. The script is pure genius and cast are perfect. I rewatch the precious 2 series and special whenever I want to be inspired about comedy as there is nothing better. Apart from 30 Rock. 

Special Mentions :

Fringe gets a mention as I watched seasons 1-4 in a couple of weeks, loved the show but wasn't keen on season 5, it dragged a bit, story wise.

Crimes of Passion is a Swedish murder mystery drama that's just brilliant. Rather dark in some episodes and isn't light and fluffy like some dramas (but I like those too).

Orphan Black was introduced to me by my friend Alex too and in return I advised her to watch Haven. I love that show, but Season 5 has been hit and miss for me. Anyway I love the clones, gotta collect them all. Can't wait for season 3.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: German Films

This one is kind of difficult for me as most of the German cinema I've seen was during college studying Film and it was mostly Silent Cinema. I thought of the films I enjoyed the most, so Caligari didn't make the cut, on second viewing I could appreciate it but the first time, not so much. I'll stop the urge to go into my college self who really enjoyed studying Silent Cinema.

Goodbye Lenin
This film introduced me to modern(ish) German cinema that wasn't about war as a subject and to Daniel Brühl. A comedic at times family drama about Alex (Brühl) who wants to protect his mother from another heart attack after the Berlin wall comes down. It's about the lengths someone will go for someone they love, even so far as creating fake broadcasts and changing labels on food. The story was so simple and well executed. I know this usually appears in film lists but for me it was an introduction to another country's film industry.

Not the first silent film I had seen as I had watched Charlie Chaplin films when I was younger, but this was the first silent science fiction film I had seen. This film was so influential on every front. For science in science fiction, women in film, design in film and most likely budget. When in Berlin, we went to the Film Museum and this film, along with the other flagship silent era films, had some amazing exhibition. I was in my element. The art of the film and the robot part had the biggest influence on me and I think, back in college I wrote an essay on Metropolis and Fritz Lang, who was a creative genius.

Mostly Martha
After I saw the terrible poster for 'No Reservations', the US remake of the film, I found out from a friend's mum that this German original existed. It's miles better. The pacing, the acting, even the story feels better. A story about an uptight chef in a expensive restaurant who becomes the legal guardian of her niece after her sister dies. She has to cope with grief, becoming a parent and a new chef brought in to help out. It's brilliant drama, with a few added rom-com elements that don't smoosh up the flow of the story. One of my favourite scenes is between Martha and Mario (the new chef) when they are just starting to fall for each other, he blind folds her to do a taste test, it's actually quite sweet. I also wrote a comparison of the film against its remake, which you can have a look at here for further reading.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

St Ives in Black & White

Simple post title explains it all. Now, I may have taken some pretty bright photos of St Ives and unlike like last time I visited Cornwall, I brought my 35 mm camera. I really regret not taking my camera on my last visit, there were some spectacular views from Land's End, Porthcurno and Mousehole, but there is always next time. I always put black and white film in my camera. This is not to be pretentious, I just like black and white photography, have done since college. I also like it because, I take colour photos all the time on my phone and on Instagram, its nice to have a change.


Top left: View of the Harbour from The Old Workshop, St Nicholas Chapel on The Island, Porthgwidden Beach, The Habour at High Tide, Rock Pools on The Island, View Out to Sea from Porthgwidden, The Coastal Path View of Porthmeor, The Coastal Path, Crashing Waves Around The Island.

I did start another roll, byt it was colour, so it won't be as pure as these photographs. Watch this space.