Sunday, 28 February 2016

February Watch List

This month I seem to going through old hollywood and it all started with Trumbo. I had read about the film and I had briefly studied the Black List in college but I didn't know the extent of it all. Dalton Trumbo was a force of nature in writing and in his politics. It was a fascinating look at the man, his family, his friends and mostly his work ethic. I was bold over with the amount of work he produced, he was like a machine. The Black Listing and the story of the Hollywood Ten is also covered, dealt with in a heartfelt way. It's disgusting to how everyone was treated, provoking the right reaction that I wanted to punch the so called House Committee on Un-American Activities in the face. It's a brilliant film that I don't believe was given enough credit. I don't believe its just because I like films about old Hollywood, especially notorious characters, but I think that a film about a screenwriter is rare and because its not about an actor or director or musician, the film isn't looked at with much favour. I was so inspired by Trumbo, I went out after the film and bought the book the film is based on so I could brush up on this man. Truely great film. 4/5

Started with Trumbo, on to The Palm Beach Story, The Odd Couple, The Last of Robin Hood and on to Hail, Caesar!

Band of Robbers
Intrigued by the trailer I thought this looked like an amuisng twist of some classic literature characters. Huck Fin, newly released from prison after taking the fall for his long time friend, Tom Sawyer, his friends welcome him back into the fold, where they are all just getting along with their lives. Tom, now a police officer, feels looked down upon and wants to make something of himself and be remembered. He convinces his friends to help him rob a pawn shop which he believes has a clue to some treasure that he and Huck have been looking for since they were small. Of course everything that could go wrong does. Things take a unexpected violent turn in this indie comedy and actually quite serious. Tom Swayer is a terrible person and most people see it except himself. Poor Huck could and would be so much better off having his own adventures, which he sort of does by the end. Great film if a bit odd with the pacing. 3/5

We all remember how Deadpool ended up in Wolverine: Origins or whatever it was called. Reading about Deadpool's journey to the screen with Ryan Reynolds was a great piece, I think I read it in Empire, and that was when I was geared up for the film. I hated that Wolverine film. My friend who loves Deadpool also got me geared up and filled me on how he operates, talking to the screen, lots of violence that sort of thing. I noticed that cinemas has put up signs saying that Deadpool was not a superhero movie for children. FINALLY - NO KIDS IN THE CINEMA! I loved the film, I couldn't stop laughing at most of it. But I knew I'd love it from the opening and truthful credits. The digs at Wolverine and the whole X-Men franchise in general was superb. Loud mouth Wade Wilson is basically a gun/muscle for hire who falls in love with his perfect partner, also a loud mouth, 'escort' Vanessa. But he's diagnosed with cancer and contacts a shady looking company as a last resort after they seek him out. He's transformed into Deadpool, with many abilities but completely scarred all over his body. Deadpool seeks revenge on who did this to him to get them to change his appearance back and along the way he meets a couple X-Men. Everything was pitch was pitch perfect, except for the fact that Colossus was CGI the entire time, that annoyed me as he didn't need to be. Absolutely loved the film, cannot say that enough. 4/5

The Palm Beach Story
I had planned to this Preston Sturges film at the BFI but I was ill and missed it. But luckily I found it to rent on itunes. It's a brilliant film, funny, ridiculous and all round entertaining too. The married couple with money problems are Tom and Gerry (Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert), who are perfect for each other but in order to get the money the Tom needs for his project, Gerry runs away on the search for a millionaire to marry. There's a scene with a trigger happy hunting party and an over the top good night serenade plus some wonderful outfits. The Coen brothers were influenced by Preston Sturges films and I can definitely see why and how. 4/5

The Scorch Trials
I was actually looking forward to watching this film. The Maze Runner had the potential to be the next big thing (Divergent is just too boring and complicated) since The Hunger Games but in its sequel the story lost its way. The second book (I'm reading them, yes) is over complicated but I could see an easy path a film could take but the filmmakers just scraped the book entirely, only using a few names here and there. The 'shady organisation' WICKED or whatever its called is brought into the light but then we are told there are still some more unanswered questions. The cliff hanger isn't that inspiring either. Really disappointed. I think where these new YA dystopian franchises are going wrong is the aliens factor (The 5th Wave) and the over bearing technology fcator along with the barren wasteland, mixed with the unknown outside controllers, which both Divergent and The Maze Runner series suffer from. Also, its silly the studio have named the film The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials. There is no maze anymore! 1/5

Triple 9
This was a film that crept up on me. I had seen a trailer months ago (at least it felt like it had) and suddenley the film was released among the Oscar films. Directed by John Hillcoat who directed Lawless, so I had a inkling that this crime thriller would be exactly what I wanted to see. Ex-military now criminals and a couple of corrupt cops take on jobs from the Russian mafia, headed by the boss' wife while he is in prison. But when the group is asked to rob a goverment building they are left with one choice for a distraction, to kill a cop, this way the entire police force is occupied. It's an intense thriller where everyone is awful, including the drunken major crimes detective who is putting together who the team is that keeps pulling these high profile robberies. There is one redeeming character, the cop the group intend to kill, he has almost no idea whats happening, almost. The cast are absolutely brilliant, such a great ensemble. I particularly enjoyed watching Kate Winslett as the Russian mob boss, it suited her.  4/5

Hitman Agent 47
I wasn't too sure why I even watched this film. It has the makings of a blockbuster but it felt like an action B movie. Its another stab at the video game to film 'possible' franchise after the luke warm reception to the 2007 film. This time, Agent 47's target is the creator of the Agent programe and his daughter who has a special set of skills of her own. Another shady organisation called, what for it, Syndicate International, are trying to find the creator to re-boot the programme as they want their own set of hitmen.The story is predictable and the cast do their best to walk through the motions and at times typical action thriller dialogue, but there are a few good fight scenes. Rupert Friend seems to fit the bald barcoded head better than Timothy Olyphant did. Can't see this reigniting much but it served its purpose. I felt like an action movie one evening, one that I hadn't seen before and this was it.  2/5

I remembered when these stories broke. After so many of these stories came out, I got fed up with hearing them and then the continued Catholic bashing. I was brought up Catholic but I stopped going to church when I didn't have to. My parents said that my sister and I didn't have to go after we had our Confirmations. We went back once or twice at Christmas, Midnight Mass, but it didn't feel right so we never went back again. Watching this film was eye opening in a terrible but intriguing way. The film starts from when the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe is asked to look into a case about a priest molesering a child and the case is swept under the carpet. From there they find out there are more priests doing this and the chuch knows. They meet victims, lawyers involved in the cases, a psychotherapist who worked at a 'treatment centre' for the priests and they even get to speak to one priest. The film is brilliant and hard to hear. What shocked me was the endless list of places where other priests and cases had been dug up all over the world.  4/5

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Thursday Movie Picks - Valentine's Edition: Love Triangles

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

Keeping the Faith
Straight off, I didn't enjoy this film, but this mostly due to the predictable-ness of it. Three best friends from childhood, Brian, Jake and Anna, now all grown up. Brian is a rabbi who keeps getting set up by people in his congregagtion, Brian is a Catholic priest and happy in his choices. When Anna arrives back in town, the three friends act like no time passes. But ultimately the men's faiths start to get in the way. Brian struggled with his vows as he starts to have feelings Anna. Anna and Brian secretly start sleeping together but because Anna is not Jewish Brian won't take the relationship seriously. Although directed by Edward Norton (and starring as Brian) I actually only watched the film for him, I was disappointed as Anna (Jenna Elfman) is a great character so I just can't understand why she chooses Jake (Ben Stiller). Brian is the far better charater and even says he will leave the priesthood. It just doesn't compute.

Summer in February
Based on a true story, this is rather a tragic one set in one the most beautiful places, Cornwall. Focusing around the artists called the Lamorna Group when Florence Carter-Wood joins and grabs the attention of both Alfred Munnings who asks her to pose for his painting and his best friend, Gilbert Evans. Although Florence seems more in love with Evans, she agrees to marry Munnings. A real life love triangle with a scandal and tragedy.

Some Kind of Wonderful
She loves him, he loves someone else and she is going out with another guy. Unrequited love all round. Keith is being pushed to go to college by his dad but all he wants to do is go on a date with Amanda. Watts, Keith's best friend is in love with him but still goes ahead to help him pull of an epic date to impress Amanda. Classic 80s teen romance film.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

If The Pen Is Willing

I wish I could write like Agatha Christie. I wish I could write like Tolkien. I wish I could write like M.C. Beaton. I wish I was a Coen brother. I wish I could create like Wes Anderson. I wish I could work like Hitchcock. I wish I was Tina Fey.

After seeing Trumbo this weekend, not only did it educate me more about the Black List but it inspired me. Dalton Trumbo was said to be a brilliant screenwriter, not only for the work he produced but the amount he did too. I'm always astounded by those who produce so much content and its always excellent quality. Prolific writers have always been an inspiration as I've been jealous of them and aspire to be them. But I just don't function like that.

I fear I'm heading towards the limited activity zone and I don't like it. I haven't written any fiction since Autumn which is depressing and disappointing. I have written a fair amount of blog posts and a few for The Film Magazine, but it doesn't seem enough. For me, there seems to a rule where I either concentrate on one or the other. Trying to complete a short story or finish my novel I have revisited too many times, means my blog posts suffer and I'm out of practice. In the words of Liz Lemon, 'I can have it all' but I just don't know if that's true anymore.

I thought maybe branching out and writing for something else and not just my blog would be a good idea. I'm not sure if anyone was aware but I had been contributing to another blog/site, not a big thing but they were working on getting followers/readers. I had sent them some of my work which was from my blog and I said that I could submit more, also from my site as well as original. I was honest from the start. But, after a few months of me writing and presenting ideas, they turned around and said no. They also put said, I just don't fit in with the other 'writers'. I was annoyed, of course, no one likes to be excluded but thinking about it now, it's good. I'm glad I don't fit in with them, it means I'm different and more importantly, original, which isn't what they are looking for. I don't believe in pretending to be something I'm not.

That's over and done with now and I hopefully concentrate more on my blog work and actually have a schedule sorted. I tend to become one of my fictional idols created by an idol, Daisy Steiner or Dizzy Steinway which she may be know as in some circles. She calls herself a writer but takes a whole series to write three articles. As much as I love Daisy, I can't be like her. I mean, yes I have been on job seekers in my time and I have written random articles (not paid for though) and made up some weird names, mainly for stories and for other reasons too. I use a laptop/computer to do my writing rather than a typewriter, despite the blog banner, but the main thing that Daisy and I have in common is that we are both terrible procrastinators oh and we both hate talking to members of the public, as demonstrated when she worked in a bookshop and I worked in Whittards.

When you have the urge to write, I find that I'm in the wrong place and without the means to write anything. I find I write the most late at night and its happens at 2am. It's a miracle. I'll write 3,000 words like crazy and then read it back and think it's amazing. I'll read it again 2 days later and it's pure trash. But I know every writer goes through this too. What I need is the opportunity and the space to just sit and write endlessly. This is where I envy Trumbo who can sit at his desk or in his bathtub and write for hours and hours. I need to find my bathtub.

Anyway, to bring this ramble to a close, I wish I had the writing ethic of my heroes but right now I'm just Daisy and I'm going to cope with that and write more, obviously.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Blind Spot Series: The Odd Couple

When I was selecting my films for this year's list, I realised that I was lacking comedy so to fill one of the last spots I added the 1968 film, based on Neil Simon's play of the same name, The Odd Couple. Starring frequent acting partners, Walter Matthau and one of my all time favourites, Jack Lemmon as the odd couple.
The story is about Felix (Lemmon) who has just split up from his wife, the decision was all her and he is left devastated. After failing to commit suicide, he warrives late to the weekly poker game with his friends. It's always held at Oscar's (Matthau) place seeing as he lives alone after divorcing his wife a few years ago. The place is disgusting, his fridge doesn't work and there are layers of grimes from years ago. When Felix's friends find out whats happened, they leave him in the care of Oscar who asks him to live at his place until he gets back on his feet. Three later Oscar asks his friend to leave as he is the most annoying person to live with. He neurotic, obsessed with cleaning and must have everything just so. The friends come to blows and part, but Felix finds a new place to live so his friendship with Oscar isn't entirely ruined.

I had read about The Odd Couple and I knew there was a sequel and a TV series and a remake of that TV series that starred Matthew Perry made recently. I knew about the classic dynamic, slob and uptight clean freak, as someone said, they are the types we know and recognise. We can all relate to either Felix or Oscar in some way, I know I can.

Strangley enough I can relate to some of Felix's annoyances. I'm a bit of tidy neat freak, I have to have things in their place, I get distressed when there is mess. At the moment there is a pile of things where my sofa used to be and it pains me to look at it as I don't have time to sort it. I know that is the sort of thing that would hurt Felix. Oscar, on the other hand is a complete slob. He can't clean, won't clean, doesn't wash anything, won't fix anything, isn't organised, can't keep up payments and offers guests out of date food. All these things aside, he's a good friend. He takes in Felix, gives him a place to live and encourages him to go out in the world, including meeting women. Felix in return cleans his whole apartment, helps him save money and gets him organised but he also irritates Oscar and the rest of his friends to the point they want him to jump out of the window.

The film is based on the play by Neil Simon and as with most films based on plays, it feels that way too. Most of the scenes take place in Oscar's apartment, all the action, long speeches, heartaches, suicide threats and reconcilliations take place there. There are a couple of scenes set outside or on the roof to break up the apartment scenes which after sometime feel stuffy, but other than that, space is confined to a few rooms. The confinement makes the struggle and irritations between characters amplified and you can feel tension mounting almost after the first intial scenes and at points it starts to feel uncomfortable.

The film is mean to be a comedy and I did find myself laughing along at points but this was due to the brilliant deliverance from Lemmon and Matthau. The dialogue between these too is animated and exciting, even though they are just arguing about there being food on the wall, which Oscar threw. They are a great duo and I can see why the worked together often, they are captivating. But not only with the humerous lines. The best scene I though was when Oscar finally breaks down and asks Felix to leave. He is moved to tears almost, its hard to tell with Matthau, and Felix is dumbstruck. These two are true friends and even they have breaking points and this is that point in their lives.

Although I enjoyed the film and the story, I can see why it was turned into a TV series, the format works much better this way, or as a play. I'm also rather curious by the sequal and why they made that but I will look into that another time. A great film with a brilliant duo, just makes me want to watch The Front Page again.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and have a look HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Shop Around the Corner vs You've Got Mail

In the spirit of Valentine's Day this weekend, this is as close as I get to talking about the day. I'm not a huge fan of the day as it's really aimed at couples and makes single people feel bad which isn't great. It's a day that likes to exclude people. But if people celebrate it then they celebrate it. At the very least, I thought that a post about a brilliant classic film and a rom-com from the 90's would be in keeping with the spirit of the day.

The two films I'm talking about are the 1940 film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, The Shop Around the Corner and Nora Ephron's 1998 version, You've Got Mail.

I used to despise You've Got Mail with a passion. But recently, I've found a new connection to 90s rom-coms. If you compare them to some of the drival that has been released this side of the millennium, you start to see the quality that was lost. After seeing You've Got Mail again after years, I can see its virtues as well as it's flaws. As for The Shop Around the Corner, I saw it for the first time just before Christmas. I took my friend (who also loves classic films) as part of a Christmas present. I loved the film and of course I noticed instant similarities to You've Got Mail but enjoyed them more, this may because I still love, what is now known as, the art of letter writing, rather than email. I actually ended up renting The Shop Around the Corner again off itunes just to relive the experience. But nothing quite compares to sitting in those comfy chairs at BFI.

The Shop Around the Corner, based in the Hungarian play, Parfumerie, by Miklos Laszlo, is about two shop assistants, Alfred and Klara (James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan), who despise each other at work but have unknowly fallen in love with each other through annoymous letters. It's a simple enough story that also includes a group of other sales assistants all weird and wonderful, as well as manager who tries to keep up with all his demanding wife's (off screen) requests that are mainly for money. He later finds out she is having an affair and suspects that it is with his longest serving and most loyal employee, Alfred. But this is just not true

As the film is adapted from a play, the shop plays a large part of the story as the central location. The potential lovers meet, argue, bond, declare their love in the shop, Matuschek and Company. They meet after Klara asks for a job, but Alfred who thinks she's looking to buy gets annoyed and tries to turn her away. After she lands an impossible sale, she is given a job and made to work under Alfred. This is the start of the love-hate relationship. It's a classic meet queue that many rom-com's use now. I've always loved stories that start off in this way, when characters hate each other so much there must be something else simmering just beneath the surface.

What sets The Shop Around the Corner apart from the 90's counterpart is the use of a few devices mixed together. Love/hate at first sight, love is blind and the art of letter writing. Before we had internet dating, social media and phones, letter writing was a very powerful thing, in terms of affection, emotion and truths. I know there are phones in the film but they weren't used to woo anyone. Through letters Klara and Alfred fell in love after only wishing to correspond with someone who was intelligent and cultured, they created a connection and in a way created a close proximity. Letter writing is also linked with romance, it isn't just a way to communicate. If you want to make a message personal, it seems more meaningful when handwritten.

 I'll always remember what a friend told me, her opinion of what love is, time and proximity. I thought this was spot on, especially concerning Klara and Alfred. Over the course of the story they start out just talking about intellectual subjects then move on to literature and eventually to their feelings for each other. While in the shop, they bicker and argue, mostly in the stock room. When Alfred finds out Klara is the woman in the letters, instead of confronting her he mocks her and pretends her 'date' hasn't shown up. All his feelings are hindered because he knows who she is. But, after they insult each other to a breaking point, he changes and starts to see what he's done and falls in love with her all over again. She, not knowing his identity seeks out his friendship and help, confiding in him about the letters. As they work together, now as friends, Klara starts to doubt her connection with her pen pal and grow closer to Alfred. Over time writing letters and working with one another in close proximity, their love grows and leads up to a declaration, and of course, it takes place on the shop floor.

The 90's rom-com doesn't credit The Shop Around the Corner, it credit's Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo. There is the obvious reference though as Kathleen's bookshop is named about the 1940 film. Despite this, both 40s and 90s films are rather similar. Changing the setting to New York and having the lovers become rivals, a independant children's bookshop owner and a mega chain bookstore owner.

Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) owns the children's bookstore which was owned by her mother before her. She and her group of kooky sales assistants are a part of the community. They hold events, signings and as well as having the knowledge of children's books, they also know all their loyal customers by name. Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is also part of family run business, except his is a gigantic chainstore, Fox Books (similar to Waterstones and Boarders before it shut down). He is in charge of a new store opening in Kathleen's neighbourhood and has the potential to force her to close down. While all this is happening, Joe and Kathleen have already met using screen names in an online chat room, unknown by their partners. They have been emailing back and fourth, nothing romantic, yet. Bit by bit they open up to each other. Things start to shift when they meet in person, still blissfully unaware of their online connection and blossoming romance. Even then they 'hit it off' as it were. But as soon as they know each others names, which they find out at a literature folk gathering, they hate each other instantly. They fight in person and online confide in each other again, bringing them closer together.

The film goes a similar way as its predecessor, they plan to meet but Joe finds out who she is and stands Kathleen up and attempts to interupt her meeting. They say things they regret and part ways. Kathleen is forced to close her store and retreats. But Joe misses her and continues to talk to her online, hoping in some way that she'll fall in love him as Joe Fox and not as NY152 (his screen name). He makes friends with her and then 'accidentally' bumps into her on a frequent basis. Eventually, she agrees to meet her online love and is delighted that its Joe.

There are two elements that are in this film that are not present in The Shop Around the Corner, they are books and email. The romance, I believe, in The Shop Around the Corner is stemmed from the closeness the characters share and from their letters. In You've Got Mail, all communication is done through email, which feels colder and less romantic. This was obviously applied to update the story and fit with the times. Back in 1998, the internet and email were still in the early stages, chat rooms were also quite new. I've heard people refer to this film as a rom-com for the AOL generation and I think this is true. So, in order to retain the romance, books play a huge part of the story. Books, again, I think, are just romantic in general and beautifully crafted. They are also seen as nostalgic, especially with Kathleen as she runs a children's bookstore which in turn holds memories of her mother and the past. Joe sees his bookstores as the future, the larger store where people can feel like they're at home. Of course, for this generation, we need to enjoy this while we can as too many bookstores are disappearing. Books are what brings Kathleen and Joe together in person and what creates the closeness. They already have a connection, having both been involved in family run businesses, even if they are at different levels. The time and proximity theory can also be applied to You've Got Mail in a similar way that it applies to The Shop Around the Corner. Kathleen and Joe work in the same business and are forced to see and interact with each other due to their rivalry and then via email they slowly fall in love. Joe then endears himself to Kathleen, first becoming her friend and then by seeing her so often, the connection they so obviously have online spills out to real life.

Overall, the running theme throughout both versions, as they are both adapted from Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, is that love is blind. Both couples are blinded by they're dislike of one another in person that they cannot open up until they believe they are talking to a perfect stranger and share their true feelings. The love/hate relationship in both films are structured and played out well but unlike Kathleen, Klara admits to being attracted to and a little bit in love from the very start in person. Kathleen only starts to fall in love with Joe in person near the end of the film. Joe, also only realises that he wants something more in his life when he's trapped in a lift with his annoying girlfriend, only then does he pursue Kathleen. Alfred doesn't do this. He changes his mind about Klara not long after the doomed date in the cafe. Later on he actively tries to deter Klara away from the writing companion in the hopes that she still feels the same way as she did when they first met. There is more hope and heart and charm in The Shop Around the Corner. The simplicity of the story and how Klara and Alfred's relationship plays out feels more romantic. Where as You've Got Mail has more of a comedic vibe that it tries to shake off too far into the film. There is something to be said for letter writing as here it wins the day and wins my heart. A more personal touch than clicking a button on a screen, so for me, The Shop Around the Corner would wins this round.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

For The Love Of Star Wars

It's another Star Wars post but this time its about The Force Awakens, sort of. Now that the buz has died down and there are barely fans out there that haven't seen the film, I feel it is safe to write about it. There are still major spoilers, or things I consider spoilers but I have given fair warnings with this epic sign:


Permission to speak freely? Granted. First off, I didn't really know the full extend of how much I love Star Wars. I've heard people say 'I prefer Star Trek' or 'I'm not really into Sci-fi', I've even heard someone say 'I'm more of a Lord of the Rings fan'. I've always thought of myself as a massive Lord of the Rings fan, which is surprising as I can't think of any other fantasy type film or TV show I love, comics aside - Fables, House of Mystery, they're full of fantasy - but I absolutely love Lord of the Rings. You can't actually compare the two, LOTR and Star Wars, two different genres to start with. My loyalties lie with both.

My love for Star Wars does have its limits, as with most things, the want and the 'can I actually afford this' are usually in question. I regret that I wasn't able to go/afford the Secret Cinema Star Wars event. I know other fans wanted to go but my gad the tickets were expensive. But my limit in seeing the film on the big screen, there is none. I know I know, people say why see it again if you've seen it once. But I say to them, what is the possibility that I will see the film again on the big screen? Especially the IMAX. I saw The Force Awakens 3 times and I'm happy with that. 

Watching the original trilogy to build up to the main event was a wise choice. It had been ages since I saw all three. Not long ago, The Empire Strikes Back was used for a film drinking game - most enjoyable. With those fresh in my mind, the viewing experience of The Force Awakens was that little bit better. 

The film did everything you wanted. Stabalising a new set of films as well as opening up the Star Wars universe to stand alone features as well continuing the main story arc. New characters were introduced, breathing new life into galaxy and bringing back old characters too meant that there was enough familiarity to feel at ease with the storytelling.

The film begins as if no time has passed, meaning, straight into the scrolling narration, setting the scene and expectations high and that we most likely will not see Luke Skywalker anytime soon.  

Domhnall Gleeson, Irish actor, cast as the villain, along with Gwendoline Christie, British actress, and a heavily disguised Andy Serkis, it seems the film is falling into the same trap about villains and the Brits. But wait, there is a new hope (see what I did there), Rey played by Daisy Ridley and Fin played by John Boyega are boths Brits and they're the good guys, even though the latter has an American accent for the film. This was puzzelling seeing as all the other soliders and followers of the First Order were British.... a deliberate approach that the filmmakers made perhaps.

There are familiar aspects taken from the originals, its deliberate and creates a sense of excitement as well as comfort. There are those out there who will just say that it's just history repeating itself, but that's being too basic. Leia, Han, Chewie, C3PO and R2D2 make appearences, some more stapled but we are also introduced to the 'new' important characters, Fin, Rey, BB8 and to some extent Poe. Poe is the first and we're told straight away, he's the best fighter pilot in the resistance. His buddy is BB8, a one of kind droid who he entrusts with a supposed map to Luke Skywalker. Poe is then captured and tortured by Kylo Ren, who has his own issues going on, mostly that he is looking to be the next villain. Poe is helped to escape when Strorm Trooper Fin wants out of the First Order. They escape successfully but crash on Jakku and are separated. We follow Finn has he treks across the desert until he meets Rey who has also taken in BB8. Now all the important players have met/been introduced.

I'm trying to stop myself from relating the whole story, so I'll stop there. What's interesting is that the fans who believe the new triology is just going the way of the first, are eager to pin point who is the new who. For me, it doesn't seem to work like that. Poe, played by the amazing Oscar Issacs, is the fighter pilot and has the droid, just like Luke. But Rey is the one who has the Force. Finn also gets a few chances to fight with Luke's lightsaber. So it seems, our would be trio have a little bit of the 'Luke' spirit in them. Rey also has shows signs of being a new 'Han' as she can fly, she's a pretty good mechanic and most importantly, she's gets on really well with Chewie. Finn could also have the potential to be 'Han' is he ups his game in the next film, he's a great character as he represents what it was like to be in the First Order and want to rebel against it. But he also felt a little bit like place holder in some scenes. The potential romance that was hinted at between Fin and Rey seemed forced and unnecessary, these characters shined without that.

In the next films, I'm hoping Poe is developed more as there just wasn't enough of him in the film. He served his purpose but wasn't established enough. I would say the same for Finn and Rey too, but they had more opportunities to show what they could do. The Force Awakens is an most excellent into, teasing us with what is and can come later. Two major things are definitely Rey being a jedi knight and Kylo Ren completing his Sith training.

Rey being the one with the Force was huge step of brilliance, I of course am now talking as the feminist inside me. It felt really good to see a woman take up the mantle. She had the struggle, she's a survivor and she's the jedi, not Finn, which is what was teased in early footage and posters. It's inspiring and hopefully will encourage more girls to enjoy the film as now they can see a sci-fi film where they can relate to the 'hero', sort of.

About Kylo Ren, now, I've read and heard people either praise Adam Driver for his role or complain he wasn't 'evil' enough. Let me point out that Kylo Ren or should I say Ben Solo, is not a Sith yet. If he was, he could have crushed Finn and Rey in the later fight scene. He's still struggling with light and dark, he's still seeking advise and guidance. The cryptic speech he gives to Darth Vader's head could also been seen as puzzling, what exactly does he mean by 'finish what you started'? Everyone automatically thinks, it's bad, but I'm hoping something else is up the filmmakers sleeves. I suppose the fact Ren kills his dad, Han Solo was going to happen and then was actually needed. Harrison Ford wanted out and Kylo Ren needed to get rid of him to complete his transition to the dark side. I was mortified when it happened and I saw it coming as soon as the bridge over the chasm came into shot.

Despite the killing his father and for a short time, Rey's mentor, Kylo Ren showed other emotions that seemed even more alien. Again, it's unclear about Rey's origin. Some say she's Luke's daughter, others say she's actually Kylo Ren's twin, which would be thoroughly disappointing as that would be dull. I'm hoping for something right out of nowhere to make it more interesting and it would help support my theory. Kylo Ren seemed somewhat infatuated by Rey. The first time he takes off his mask is to her, he is weakened in her presence as Rey has never used the Force before but managed to get through on her first try? Sorry, this means less credit to Rey but it's logic. Kylo Ren also offers to teach her how to use the Force, granted it's while they are fighting but still, there is something there. Whether it be a family bond or Kylo Ren's unsure emotions and connection towards to light side, the tension between Rey and Kylo Ren in the torture scene is brilliant. It's actually my favourite scene.

(Side note. I've just discovered #Reylo on Twitter. So, I'm not crazy after all)

Rather than a straightforward review, these are more my rambling thoughts about the film. I still talk about today, even after two months have passed. It had such an impact and everyone has their own theories, Star Wars is an excellent topic, with the right people. I'll end this with no conclusion as it's pretty obvious I loved the film, but I'll just say, may the Force be with and I can't wait for Rouge One this year.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Fandom Friday: OTPs

I'm actually new to this term, OTP. Since being involved in blogging communities, I've seen it more and more on Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter and of course on blogs. From what I understood, OTPs are pairings in films, TV, comics that fans get obsessed about and root for. I am included in this, as I have found out. The more scientific answer is 'OTP: it is the sole or primary pairing someone is interested in for a given fandom.' Naturally I wanted to pick the 8 sensates from Sense8, but its all about partnerships.

Slight problem with this post is that is has some similarities to a previous Fandom Friday post from last year. Favourite Fictional couples anyone? I've added one that won't be popular, but if I see chemistry, great team work and those who 'just fit', it's an OTP for me.

My number one OTP and maybe the only one that I obsess about. They had a joint name from the start, they are psychically linked, they've saved each other, they are each other's favourite thing. They are the ultimate true paring.

Starbuck & Apollo
This ship, as they say, was never really allowed to set sail. Everything got in the way and I don't just mean the cylons. Best friends who were much more but never really got to explore anything further. They married other people, both ill fated marriages. She died then reappeared and he was the only person who believed in her. They were not given the ending they deserved. 

Nathan & Audrey

A few episodes into season 1 I called it. But what was brilliant is that they became partners, best friends first. They had the room to have other relationships, short lived, but ultimately they ended up obsessed with each other, which was amusing at times and heartbreaking the next. I still haven't watched the last ever episode as the show was great but lost its way towards the end, I don't want the 'troubles' to ruin them.

Snow & Bigby 
For the Fables comic readers out there, you know what I mean. This was an epic romance spanning centuries. Bigby had been in love with Snow since the moment he met her. Snow, who still believed in princes and daring knights, took a while to see that Bigby was all that plus the perfect partner when they both lived in Fabletown. Warriors and lovers. Two very powerful Fable folk, they had their happy ever after and the amazing Wolf Manor to boot.

Peggy & Jarvis
I think I'm the only one who sees this. But there were a few things I picked up on in the first season and a few things in the second. Yes, I know he's married and she's only just got over Cap, but if not a romantic ship, this is definitely a true partnership of brilliance.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Valentine's Edition: Star-Crossed Lovers

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks. 

Save the Last Dance
Separated by social differences but brought together by dance. Everyone loved this film when I was in school, everyone seemed to own the video. I even think I had a copy on VHS at one point. It's not the greatest film but it a great example of star-crossed lovers in a more up to date setting. This is also around the time Julia Stiles was up and coming actress. When her mother dies suddenley, Sara, a ballet dancer, moves to Chicago with her father. There she meets Derek who helps her train for another important dance audition while incorporating hiphop moves to improve her skills.

The Notebook
 Separated by social status, Noah, a poor boy from a working class family and Abbey, the daughter of a wealthy family fall in love. Again, this was a HUGE film when I was at school, it was also the perfect film for both Ryan Reynolds and Rachel McAdams to breakout with. According to wiki, the film now has a cult following, I'm not surprised. It really is the story of Noah and Abbey falling in love in 1940s while their old selves read from about it in the present day.

Shakespeare in Love

Sometimes a film comes along and it just feels like the epitomy of British film. Shakespear in Love is one of those films. The beyond amazing British cast with a couples of American actors in order to sell to the US market. Oh I do love this film. Shakespeare, a rather poor playwright, falls in love with Viola de Lesseps, the daughter of a wealthy merchant after she disguises herself as an actor to audition for his new play, then after discovering her identity they have a love affair. The affair also opens up Shakspeare as he writes/performs 'Romeo and Juliet'.