Sunday 31 December 2017

Another Year Another Resolution

I'm a creature of habit so to bring in the new year, I wanted to do my resolutions post BUT instead this is more of a run down of what I hope to achieve. It sounds the same but isn't exactly the same. I just got a tad fed up with my usual resolution posts.

Each year I like to set myself a challenge, this year it was the but as I was actually enjoying these posts, I am continuing the posts. Any suggestions for countries I haven't picked yet are most welcome!

I am also hoping to continue joining in posts, even though this year I lapsed. I'll send out my list of films I hope to watch and cover.

I'm looking forward to hopefully continuing writing for VultureHound contributing where I can. I actually have a short peice in the latest issue which can be read HERE. As well as VultureHound I hope to work more with Park Circus, for anyone on the UK, they are currently showing A Matter of Life and Death into the New Year. Take a look at where you can see this masterpiece on the big screen HERE.

My new challenge is still in the planning stages but it will be connected to a recent post I put out about film collections. I will be attempting to add videos to my blog which will be a challenge in itself.

As well as my blog, my friend and I are still in post production for our short film, - due to my illness, work and my friend's work, production is taking a break but we are picking up the pace in the New Year. We have a deadline because of another exciting adventure, but more on that when the tickets are booked.

On a more personal note, I am looking forward to the New Year as I am hoping to travel more, visit another friend who is leaving, this time to Canada, plus my own destinations. I also have two weddings to attend, both lifelong friends so I am super excited and over the moon for all of them. A rare time for me to be optimistic, but I hope there will be some fun changes for the future for myself too. As always I aim to hit the bike, the pool and those weights, progress is slow in these parts.

I may be starting the New Year with various meds to keep these headaches at bay, but I think its going to be a great year. I wish you all a happy New Year and hope for all the best for you!

See you in 2018!!

Saturday 30 December 2017

Blind Spot Round Up

I've not kept up with my Blind Spot films, I lost track around April and it seems to conicide with when I started my new role at work. In fact, quite a few things lapsed around that time.

I've managed to catch up on 4 films and watching another later today, but two will be carried over to next year's list. Watching three films about horrible people and one which is visual poetry, was quite a lot to take in for one day. This will be the briefest of brief round ups.

I'm so glad I didn't realise that 'City of Angels' was a knock off version of Wim Wenders poetry in motion beautifully curated film. The moments shared between angels and humans is wonderful, even the heartbreaking ones. It was odd seeing Peter Falk pop up as himself no less, but was an interesting addition to the story. A fallen angel isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The speeches that I had heard so much and references in TV and Film for so long to my surprise is one small part of the story. Howard Beale begins and ends this tirade for and against TV. Faye Dunaway's hideous programmer was a delightful mess and I particularly enjoyed how she and her blindsided lover and failure Max spoke in TV as that is how I sometimes see life but in a film version. Of all the truely great speeches throughout at the film, Peter Finch giving it his all, drenched from the rain was the most stirring. By the end I wanted to shout out my window 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!'

After watching one of the best episodes of TV from Psychoville which was inspired by Hitchcock's Rope, I thought one day I should watch the film. I was impressed by the staging and planning rather than the story about two men who decide to murder an old school friend just for the 'art of murder' then give a dinner party while the body is in a trunk is really disturbing. Killing for killing sake is something I find hard to watch. Even more so when the two murderers swap theories and congratulate themselves on their success. The more exciting moments come near the end when their old teacher, trusty James Stewart finds out what they've done. Not a favourite Hitchcock of mine but for the technicallities I can see why its one to watch.

One of the lesser known to me Eailing Comedies set up North in the textile factories. Alec Guinness is down on his luck scientist, Sidney Stratton that is until he creates a fabric that lasts forever and repels dirt. At first his discovery is greeted with excitement but soon the mill owners decide it wouldn't help industry and the factory workers revolt as they'd be out of work. Soon everyone is literally hunting down this man who simply wants to share his discovery. But no one likes a genius do they? To me this felt link a hate for creation and innovation. Not what I expected.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee.

Watch List 2017

Everyone has already released their TOP TEN films of the year. I hadn't actually planned on waiting until the last minute but here we are with two days before New Year's Day.

There have been some amazing films this year, some of which I haven't included in the 'top ten' as they haven't been released in the UK yet. 'The Shape of Water' was a truely superb film that was a favourite at the festival but it will have to be included next year. When it is released in February, I'll write something up along with the beyond beautiful art work from James Jean. To have notable mentions could take all day so I will limit myself to two British films that were both honoured at the BIFAs, Lady Macbeth and I Am Not a Witch.

Other top ten films of the year do look similar to mine but I have noticed a trend in many magazine and website lists. They are male orientated films. My choosing of my top ten was not entirely conscious. The diversity in my choosing isn't exactly great either, but this is to do with what films I have seen this year. I have a split of 6 female led films to 4 male led films which I am actually proud of. This is a happy accident.

Unlike my favourite film of last, 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople', which I was going on about for 6 months, my favourite film of this year came to me by surprise and chance. I am delighted at its success and acclaim and really hope that Timothee Chalamet is recognised for his work in the film.

Based on the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman, it has been described as a romantic coming of age story but I think the later genre description doesn't do this film justice. It is a film filled with desire and heartbreaking truths. Both Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), perfectly paired, dancing around their feelings that does seem to shortly enjoyed, but their lasting feelings for one another is what gives hope to the last few exchanges and that magnificant last shot that has been talked about so often. Not to mention of the greatest speeches given by Elio's father, played to understated brilliance by Michael Stuhlbarg. Other moments of perfection is one of favourire dance scenes ever and a soundtrack I can't stop listening to. This is my favourite film of the year.

A favourite film early on in the year, with awards and festival buzz an acclaim around it. I only knew it as the 3 hour German comedy featuring a guy wearing false teeth. That was enough for me to go see this story about a father trying to connect to his daughter. This is a rare occassion where the simpler explaination is better than the longer one. A daughter who is so tightly wound and focused so hard on her career that she doesn't notice what's happening around her finds a way to connect to her father who is tries to make friends with people through pratical jokes is indeed funny but also heart warming, especially the scene where they embrace in the park, while he is dressed a traditional Bulgarian costume. Something to see in conext. I am also outraged at the idea of a remake. What is the point of a remake??

The Netflix film that challenged Cannes. The film that turned many to become vegetarians. I still eat meat but this film did affect me, I can't lie about that, but then again, so did On Body and Soul but I'll get to that film later. In an attempt to feed the growing population and to distract them, a huge corporation holds a competion giving farmers around the world a new breed of superpig which is all in all environmentally friendly and apparently easy to produce. The biggest pig wins as does the farmer. But when Okja from South Korea wins, her owner, young Mija sets out to find her and bring her home. With a great cast as an array of strange, disturbing and righteous characters this film touches upon how we consume and whether we really care.

 Edgar Wright will always have a special place in my cinematic heart, even though it breaks it to hear of a sequel to this choreographed peice of cinema genius. Set the film to music is something very few directors could 'pull off' and still have a story behind it. Baby is a driver, that's what he does. A good guy just trying to get by. Add in epic car chases, some almost stereotyped criminals and the now disgraced Kevin Spacey, with a light touch of hope with Lily James, you've got a winner. More dramatic action than comedy (unlike Wright's previous work) and its a film I could watch anytime. This also serves a beacon for the future of Wright's filmmaking, but I'm hoping he makes it back across the pond home as he made his best stuff over here.

I enjoyed two other superhero movies this year immensely BUT neither of them made me feel as proud as I did sitting in that cinema in Peckham with everyone else practically cheering. It's cliche but it was empowering seeing a female superhero take centre stage finally. The scenes on the paradise island the Amazon Warriors call home were exciting to watch, training in battle and learning what it takes to be the 'chosen one'. The arrival of Chris Pine was amusing and actually sparked more comedic moments that expected. The Captain America parralells can't be ignored but its not a bad thing, as the first Cap film was more about war than superhero business and also sparked another true hero in Peggy Carter. Wonder Woman was by the book but in a whole different library, if you get my meaning. It was about gaddamn time we had Diana on screen, we just need more like her.

An adaptation of Sara Water's novel, Fingersmith, transports to Japanese occupied Korea in the 1930s. A thief, disguised as a maid is brought in to influence the naive heiress to marry the fake Count, but the lady and the maid fall in love with each other which changes everyone's plans. It really is a seductive setting, the design and costumes coupled with the intertwining plot is fascinating to watch. With mysteries around corners and basements and even in books, this was nother surprise hit for me.

 Scetptyical at first but blown away by its visual beauty and sensitive at times storytelling, at art director Denis Villeneuve has managed so well with previous work. The legacy and future of this world is in capable hands. The issues that Blade Runner 2049 has which hard core feminists have with this and other science fiction stories is fair to point out but overall, it is also unfair to reduce this marvel to a few complaints. Cutting through the annoyances that this genre tends to suffer, the story and characters (apart from Jared Leto's Wallace who I didn't see the real point of) were twisted and turned to compliment what Villeneuve wanted to create, while doing fair justice to the first Blade Runner. The mantle is passed on, the story could continue, but this perfectly encapsulated film doesn't need more, does it?

A big winner at this year's BIFAs, the film's raw texture was felt by all who watched this story about  young farmer who befriends and falls in love with a Romanian migrant worker brought in to help with the farm. What sets this story apart is that isn't a coming out story, its is about an angry lost man who doesn't know how to express his affection and love. The wild Yorkshire moors and the harsh land is mirrored in the tender moments between Johnny and Gheorghe. The changes that both men go through is subtle but bold making their characters journeys more significant that any old 'end of movie' speech.

Dreams are more meaningful than we realise, they can be an escape, they can warn you of the future or they can even help you find your soulmate. One of the most understated films I have ever seen. It may set in a harsh environment, an abattoir, but two lonely gentle people find themselves connected through circumstances. Cut between their day to day lives are their dreams where they are deer walking through the snow covered forest, eating leaves and drinking water from the stream. There comes a moment in the film when I realised this was a truely amazing film but it may not come to everyone. 

Faced with haters of the film for many reasons, I will not go into detail why I think this is best Star Wars (only after Empire Strikes Back of course), I'll save that for the post I have planned for the new year. This film is something old, something new, something inbetween that really captures the essence of the balance.

Monday 25 December 2017

The Muppet Christmas Carol Tradition

We all have out Christmas traditions. Some of us celebrate on Christmas Eve, some of us have brussel sprouts at dinner, some of us like to open presents in the morning, some of us like to play games and all of us like to watch a Christmas film. Every year I have a list of films I like to watch leading up to Christmas and to me, it isn’t really Christmas until I’ve seen them. Top of the list (after Die Hard) is The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. 

Having seen comedian Brett Goldstein perform his medley of the songs at the hilariously wonderful Amusical at the Backyard Comedy Club this week, I truly am in the festive mood. The music, Muppets and classic story all brought together into one film is joyous event and one that you wouldn’t expect to work on paper or on screen. Which Muppets would play which characters for starters? But despite Muppets brought into Victorian England and playing out the Charles Dicken’s classic story, everything falls into place. 

Based on Dicken’s novel ‘A Christmas Carol’, the film follows the storyline, adding in necessary Muppet quirk and comedy. Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge to perfection (even the singing at the end is acceptable) with Kermit the Frog as downtrodden clerk, Bob Crachit and Miss Piggy for once in a less starry role as Emily Crachit. Gonzo, narrates as Charles Dickens with Rizzo the Rat providing sidekick duties, breaking the fourth wall, involving the audience from the start, and enticing them in with an amusing opening market scene. Songs are sporadically sung throughout adding to the charm of the story and of course, the Muppets. With each Muppet perfectly cast and not over blown, the film flows from scene to scene, ghost to ghost ending in an uplifting finale with the changed Scrooge and hopeful outlook.

As a Dicken’s novel they will always be a sense of gloom with The Muppets include through song, hitting the emotional button with the poor signing about living in old and drafty houses and Bean Bunny sleeping on the streets in the cold. Even one of the scarier scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Future, who is still terrifying with a no face and the longest arms you’ve ever seen, the sense of dread is felt. Director Brian Henson captures the light heartedness of the Muppets and blends it with the harsh source material in a way that might be lost if it were made today. The innocence of 1992 is felt, where everything was made in frame, either by puppeteers or animatronics. 

Before the film, the Muppets had been on the road, they’d been involved with a caper and they’d even been to space, the Muppets were on a role. They were even on a role until their new sitcom/mockumentary type show was cancelled last year, a 30 Rock like show but with Muppets. It was a shame it was cancelled. Despite the recent setbacks, the Muppets will always hold a special place in everyone’s hearts, especially at Christmas. As a film with not necessarily quotable lines, it has moments that you’ll share with others and songs that you start singing for no reason. The Muppets are everyone, no matter what age you are, you are bound to enjoy this Christmas classic.

Thank you to Park Circus for the splendid images used in this post. The Muppet Christmas Carol is beeing screened around the UK, take a look at the Park Circus to see where it is playing near you.




Thursday 21 December 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: 2018 Movies You're Looking Forward To

I decided to go down the easy route and provide visuals instead of writing. These are the films (that I thought about from a very long time ago) behold the list!

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Tuesday 19 December 2017

December Watch List

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
A fantastic script with two amazing performances. It would have made my top films of the year BUT its releasedc next year. You can read the full review over at VultureHound HERE. 4/5

I read an article last year, on The New Yorker website, The Voyeur's Motel and couldn't stop reading. It was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Stories about and from Gerald Foos' exploits as a motel owner who created a special sound proof annex so he could spy on his guests are strange. This man admitting that he did all this was bizarre enough but the fact that he got away with it, especially witnessing a murder by not reporting it is unsettling. The documentary is more of a visual version of the article, except for the big disappointing twist at the end which turns out to be less of a twist and more of a white lie. The story is brilliant but only while you think its all non fiction. 3/5 

The Odyssey 
The Real Life Aqautic, an account of part the life of famous explorer, Jacques Cousteau and his relationship with his younger son, Philippe. You can read my full article over at VultureHound HERE. 3/5

On Body and Soul
There are film that 'change your life' and those that just get through the day, then there are films that creep up on you and make you see something completely unique. Written and directed by Ildikó Enyedi, the film takes place in a slaughterhouse, where two workers discover they are sharing the same dreams. It is essentially a love story with a delicate touch of fantasy. These two souls find each other through unbelievabley strange circumstances. Endre is an older man, who seems to be cut off and as he puts it 'out of the game'. Maria is socially awkward and struggles to communicate with others as well as unable to have a physical connection, she teaches herself to cope with things so that she can be closer to Endre. Their development isn't subtle but it isn't loud booming declarations. They meet each night as deer in a forest, sharing leaves and walking through the snow covered land. There is a tragic peaceful feeling throughout, especially as it is set in death ridden place. Those who are distressed by animals being killed in salughterhouse, I would suggest you skip a long scene near the start, but this horror show moment is coupled with calm moments where pure joy is wonderfully conveyed through stares across a room and forest. It is a beautifully crafted story, colour drained shots make the characters emotions shine through making this film a strange one to watch a declare, this is one of the amazing films I've seen. 4/5

The Disaster Artist
I saw the infamous 'The Room' while at university for the first and only time. One of the guys on my course organised it. He printed out sheets about what to say when and brought in spoons for us to throw. It was hilarious and delivered on the worst bad movie, but this was back when the mysterious Tommy Wiseau still claimed the film was meant to be serious. Sometime ago he must realised the potential and ran with it, saying it was funny on purpose. The book by his friend and co-star, Greg Sestero, The Disaster Artist detailed how they met, what it was like to make the film and the aftermath of its failure then success. Turning this in a film is exactly what the fans wanted. James Franco goes full meta, acting as Tommy and also directing. His brother Dave plays Greg, is a dup made in bad movie heaven. The film is hilarious from the opening scene. With recreations from The Room along with how Tommy and Greg met and how they made the film is pure brilliance. As well as constant laughter, the emotional and strange happenings is felt by all. But I really think Josh Hutcherson who plays the actor who played Denny should get an award just for his hair, its stole every scene it was in. 4/5

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I want to avoid spoilers for as long as possible so I will write up a review on another post a little later. Just know that I loved how things were mostly handled and I sort of understand others' qualms. I'm very tempted to give a higher scoring but I'll think again after my second viewing. 4/5

Christmas Inheritance
I don't usually watch these types of 'christmas films' but Netflix were offering up a few to choose from. I like the actors in this one so lumped for a trip back to the stereotypically named Snow Falls, where an heiress goes back to her home town to learn from the people there so she is worthy of taking over the goft company her dad owns and runs. Rtaher silly and very basic but I need something like to distract me and it is full of Christmas cheer, small town weirdness, pleasingly preditable romance and snow storm drama but not drama. 3/5

El Camino Christmas
This was the other Netflix Christmas film I picked which seemed different to the others on offer. An out of town guy comes looking for his father but instead is accused of crimes he didn't commit by a corrupt cop and his naive colleague and accidentally becomes involved and blamed for a heist at a local liquor store. Begins like any other small town vs out of towner but dramatically twists into a strange hostage story then again into serious territory of the truth being revealed at the wrong time. something definitely different for Christmas but doesn't stand out. 2/5

Friday 15 December 2017

The Infamous Closet

I think my ultimate goal is to raid the Criterion Collection closet. My dream is that they are all UK releases. Or at least compatible with my Blu ray player.

I first came across this particular closet earlier this year when I saw director Barry Jenkins picking out films on the Criterion Collection Youtube channel. Usually a place for video essays, interviews and trailers for new releases, these videos of actors and directors picking out films and talking about them was strangely satisfying. I've always had a thing about shelves and filling them. Whether they are bookcases, or filled with movies or collectables, I like to stare and see what everyone has on display without really having things on display. Shelves are technically storage but they serve as open display cabinets for all to see. For me, they are very pleasing to the eye. For some reason, watching people pick out films from this amazing closet, filled to the brim with films, is also, very pleasing.

It's interesting to see what films directors and actors pick and why. The more modest closet pickers pick only a handful and give in depth (sometimes) reasons with a story behind it. Others empty the shelves getting excited about being able to take as many as they wish. Those in between usually have the best observations. They obviously love films and have a vast collection themselves (I can relate to this) but they also have reasons for their selections. The Criterion Collection Blu rays are coveted releases and no matter who you are, if you are able to take a bundle of ones for free, you're not going to say no.

Back in 2008 when my collection of films was housed on my desk, I used to boast that I remembered exactly how I had aquired each film. Over the years, things have changed slightly, I do forget how I ended up with the likes of 'Goon' and 'Iron Man 3' in my collection and wonder why I still don't own 'Thelma & Louise', but for the most part, I can still recall how my collection came to be.

Every few months I claim to be slowing down and I have big medium slight clear out and start selling a few things. Soon after, I go to Fopp (my weakness) and bring back a big DVD haul. In fact, between my frequent trips to Fopp and the internet, I've clocked in a fair amount. I even saved my pennies for the big guns, a special edition 4K edition of Blade Runner (not pictured). I said to myself, during the last haul and during the purchasing of various DVDs, I should stick to special editions instead. Its working out. I think.

 As I have been gathering films from around the world for my Around the World in 80 Films challenge (ongoing), I have also been growing my Criterion collection AND am always looking out for childhood memories, hence the Amazing Mr Blunden DVD stuck in there. Arrow Video has been a friend to me lately, as I have indulged myself with a very pretty pair of limited edition Blu rays; Four Film Noir Classics and a beautifully crafted Carrie. I think its obvious to say, I have a weakness for 'special' editions.

My obsession with the closet has got me thinking of doing my own version of the closet as some of friends have impressive collections of their own. Watch this space in the new year.

If, like me, you enjoy watching people pick up free movies and talk about them, take a look at the videos and the closet that inspired this post - The Criterion Collection.








Thursday 14 December 2017

Thursday Movie Pick - Small Towns

To be honest this theme would have worked for TV as there are so many great shows about small towns. Opportunity for great characters all together in a small space, Twin Peaks, Gilmore Girls, Agatha Raisin, Haven, Eureka...

A surprisingly though provoking and beautifully laid out, Pleasantville is a fictional show/town within in fiction. Two siblings (Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon) are trapped in a 50s set TV show where everything is just like the name, pleasant. At first trying to work within the system, they each begin to grow while helping change around them, affecting all the townsfolk at the same time. Having character change from black and white into colour showing they have become enlightened or experienced something new and exciting is a fantastic touch.

This well hidden gem from the 90s, an attempt to bring the cartoon sailor who experiences a surge of strength when he eats spinich to the big screen was odd. I used to love this film when I was younger, I had no idea it was despised at all. I still enjoy the songs and thought Robin Williams as Popeye himself was actually pretty darn good but Shelley Duvall steals the show as she is perfectly cast as Olive Oil. The design of Sweet Haven is amazing, with a great shot of the whole town right from the start, visting all the familiar characters while they sing a song about the town. One day maybe people will appreciate the jokes and strangeness of it all.

Hot Fuzz
 One of my all time favourite films, this Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg penned now modern classic, which had its 10th Anniversary this year is spoof comedy at its wittiest and best. Takes swipes at buddy cop movies, conspiracy stories and horror elements, the town of Sandford, Village of the Year winning town, has all the weird and wonderful characters to offer. It has some of the best shoot out scenes as well as iconic and bloody death scenes, with some of the best British talent delivering some hilarious lines. What more could you want??

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Wednesday 13 December 2017

BIFAS 2017

On Sunday evening myself and my colleague were very lucky to attend the BIFAs (British Independent Film Awards). It was an exciting more glitzy then expected affair. Wandering the vast room filled with famous faces, supporters of independent film, flashing lights and a hell of a lot of champagne. 

Seated at Table 66 for dinner and the awards portion of the evening, we got to witness some great speeches from Vanessa Redgrave and Gary Oldman who were each honoured and won special awards, as well as the 'stars of tomorrow' being honoured themselves. The big winners of the evening were Lady Macbeth, I Am Not a Witch and God's Own Country. As a fan of all three of these films, I am over the moon for the winners. 

Before I get played are the nominees and winners, followed by a few highlights.

Best British Independent Film
The Death of Stalin
God’s Own Country
I Am Not a Witch
Lady Macbeth
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director
Armando Iannucci - The Death of Stalin
Francis Lee - God’s Own Country
Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Rungano Nyoni - I Am Not a Witch
William Oldroyd - Lady Macbeth

Best Actress
Emily Beecham - Daphne
Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margaret Mulubwa - Am Not a Witch
Florence Pugh - Lady Macbeth
Ruth Wilson (“Dark River”)

Best Actor
Jamie Bell - Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Paddy Considine - Journeyman
Johnny Harris - Jawbone
Josh O’Connor - God’s Own Country
Alec Secareanu - God’s Own Country

Best Supporting Actress
Naomi Ackie - Lady Macbeth 
Patricia Clarkson - The Party
Kelly MacDonald - Goodbye Christopher Robin
Andrea Riseborough  - The Death of Stalin
Julie Walters - Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Best Supporting Actor
Simon Russell Beale  - The Death of Stalin
Steve Buscemi  - The Death of Stalin
Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Ian Hart - God’s Own Country
Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Screenplay 
Alice Birch - Lady Macbeth
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin - The Death of Stalin
Francis Lee - God’s Own Country
Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Rungano Nyoni - I Am Not a Witch

Best Casting
Shaheen Baig  - Lady Macbeth
Shaheen Baig, layla Merrick-Wolf - God’s Own Country 
Sarah Crowe - The Death of Stalin
Sarah Halley Finn - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Debbie McWilliams - Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Best Cinematography
Ben Davis - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
David Gallego - I Am Not a Witch
Tat Radcliffe - Jawbone
Thomas Riedelsheimer - Leaning Into the Wind
Ari Wegner (“Lady Macbeth”)

Best Costume Design
Dinah Collin  - My Cousin Rachel
Suzie Harman  - The Death of Stalin
Sandy Powell  - How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Holly Rebecca - I Am Not a Witch
Holly Waddington  - Lady Macbeth

Best Film Editing
Johnny Burke  - Williams
David Charap  - Jawbone 
Jon Gregory - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Peter Lambert - The Death of Stalin
Joe Martin - Us And Them

Best Make Up & Hair Design
Julene Paton - I Am Not a Witch
Jan Sewell - Breathe
Nadia Stacey - Journeyman
Nicole Stafford - The Death of Stalin
Sian Wilson (“Lady Macbeth”)

Best Original Score 
Carter Burwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Fred Frith - Leaning Into The Wind
Matt Kelly - I Am Not a Witch
Paul Weller - Jawbone
Christopher Willis - The Death of Stalin

Best Production Design
Jacqueline Abrahams - Lady Macbeth
Cristina Casali - The Death of Stalin
James Merifield - Final Portrait
Nathan Parker  - I Am Not a Witch
Eve Stewart - Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Best Sound 
Anna Bertmark - God’s Own Country
Maiken Hansen - I Am Not a Witch
Andy Shelley, Steve Griffiths - Jawbone
Joakim Sundström - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Sound team - Breathe

Best Visual Effects 
Nick Allder, Ben White - The Ritual
Luke Dodd - Journeyman
Effects team - The Death of Stalin
Dan Martin - Double Date
Chris Reynolds - Their Finest

Best Documentary 
Almost Heaven
Half Way
Kingdom Of Us
Uncle Howard

Best British Short Film
Fish Story
The Entertainer
Wren Boys

Most Promising Newcomer 
Naomi Ackie - Lady Macbeth
Harry Gilby - Just Charlie
Cosmo Jarvis - Lady Macbeth
Harry Michell - Chubby Funny
Lily Newmark - Pin Cushion

Best Debut Director
Deborah Haywood - Pin Cushion
Francis Lee  - God’s Own Country
Thomas Napper - Jawbone
Rungani Nyoni  - I Am Not a Witch
William Oldroyd - Lady Macbeth

Best Debut Screenwriter
Alice Birch  - Lady Macbeth
Gaby Chiappe - Their Finest
Johnny Harris  - Jawbone 
Francis Lee - God’s Own Country
Rungani Nyoni - I Am Not a Witch

Best Breakthrough Producer
Gavin Humphries  - Pin Cushion
Emily Morgan - I Am Not a Witch
Brendan Mullin, Katy Jackson - Bad Day For The Cut
Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly - Lady Macbeth
Jack Tarling, Manon Ardisson - God’s Own Country

The Discovery Award
Even When I Fall
In Another Life
Isolani R
My Pure Land

Best International Independent Film
The Florida Project
Get Out
I Am Not Your Negro
The Square

Saturday 9 December 2017

Its the Rumour, the Legend, the Mystery...

I'm hoping that everyone is continuing to sing the lyrics after reading the title.

Back in 1996 my Dad worked for a newspaper and used to get tickets to press screenings. This is how my family got to see the era defining Spice World: the Movie and the ever remember able, Home Alone 3 (which neither my Dad or me enjoyed). We also got to see a Don Bluth film called Anastasia.

Anastasia is of course the 1997 hit animated musical film about the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II who escapes from the Bolsheviks during the Revolution in 1917. But during her escape with her Grandmother she is separated and loses her memory. Years later rumours start to circulate that Anastasia is still alive and con artist Dimitri decides to take advantage of the reward The Dowager Empress (Anastasia's grandmother) is offering for the Princess' safe return. He meets Anya (Anastasia) by chance who remembers bits and pieces from her past thinking they are just dreams, and convinces her that she could be the missing Princess. Along with Dimitri's friend and former aristocrat Vlad the three travel to Paris. Along side their journey and really right from the start, Rasputin, a former confidant of the Tsar takes revenge on the royal family and it is hinted that he assisted in the revolution through dark arts. After falling through the ice he enters limbo until years later he is awoken to continue his evil plan, thwarting Anya's journey with nightmares and train issues (down playing it here) along the way. It all ends in Paris BUT if you haven't seen the film yet (if not why not!?!) I'll stop the synopsis there. With a cast including 90s darlings, Meg Ryan as Anya, John Cusack as Dimitri and Kelsey Grammer as Vlad and of course the one and only Christopher Lloyd as Rasputin, the film couldn’t put a foot wrong. But the poster was terrible, they are standing in rom-com stance.

The story is based on real life characters but the story is extremely fictional. Although there was a woman who claimed to be Anastasia until the day she died, there wasn’t much evidence to proof her claims were true. Although Rasputin was not necessarily a soul selling limbo dwelling murderer, he wasn’t a pleasant person. He became the Tsarina’s confidant and had too much power of her; he was cast out and murdered. With a dark story to start with, namely the Red Revolution, it does seem odd that an amazing somewhat happy film follows. 

The music was an important aspect of the film that I didn’t notice when I was younger as I just thought ‘yey music’ but looking it, the songs move the story along and paint a picture for what was happening at the time, ‘Paris Holds the Key’ in particular. All the songs are fabulously catchy and have a beat that you can’t stop listening to. I have the soundtrack (of course) and I used to listen to this on repeat when I first discovered them. Although I love all the songs, my favourite is the ‘Life is a Road’ which just plays in the credits, but its worth sitting through the credits for. Plus later 90s star Aaliyah sings her version of ‘Journey to the Past’ right at the end too, a hidden gem and easily forgotten about now. 

In my household, we all loved Don Bluth as we were fans and owners of the VHS of American Tail and The Secret of NIMH, so this was just another exciting free cinema trip to see an animation with Doc Brown doing one of the voices (my 8 year old self was thinking). I remember absolutely loving the film and becoming a little obsessed. I now wish I had been so obsessed that I had owned the Anastasia dolls/action figures but I wasn't like that. I was more the sticker book and stationary kind of child fan. Unfortunately apart from a couple of random stickers all of the treasure is now lost. What did have and collect were these little plastic hologram locket type things that you got free in cereals (remember those days?). Four to collect but I only had three, now only one in my current possession which I am holding onto for dear life. 

At school quite a few people used to say to that Anastasia was one of their favourite Disney films as this was back when everyone thought all animation was from Disney. I would have to correct and remind them that Anya is no Disney princess, she's her own character and in fact it is based on a story about a women who claimed to be the missing Russian princess, even to her death. But these corrections were met with mild interest or blank stares. It was tough back in primary school.

The film still has fans getting excited about it being on TV one day or in my case over joyed when the film appeared on Netflix for a while. Appreciation posts from Buzzfeed have also popped up reminding us how much we all love Dimitri and well as just saying how great the film was and still is. Dimitri is actually a really popular ‘prince’ role, he was the charming thief with a secret romantic side (remind you of a certain Flynn anyone?). Its amusing to think that the animators wanted to make Dimitri unappealing and unattractive and instead they made the opposite. Even the floppy hair works.
Looking to the legacy of Anastasia, I often used to say the film would make a great musical with just a few more songs and with the announcement last year (can’t remember when exactly, did I write a post?) I was buzzing with excitement. Tracking the progress of the show on Twitter, Instagram and preview show reviews on Youtube I finally got to see my wish come true, sort of. The show has ditched Rasputin (booooo) along with his song (boooooo) and replaced him with a more realistic villain and a billion more new songs. All the originals from the film are there otherwise, slightly altered and extended but alas not my favourite credits song. I’ve heard the music and songs (couldn’t resist on itunes) and I’m sad for the massive changes but I’m still so excited and just waiting for the day it comes to London town. Sooner rather than later please. 

Looking forward to the musical, looking back at when the film was first released, it was and always will be a classic. A great story and even better music, everyone wants to venture into the world of Anya and sing along with her ‘on this journey to the paaaaaast!’.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

For the Love of FitzSimmons


Yes. That's right, its another FitzSimmons appreciation post.

I didn't write a post like this during season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, there didn't seem to be a need. The scientist duo were cannon, a couple, whatever you want to call it, it was solid. Except they barely had any screen time together and next to no scenes showing that were even a couple! The fans were cheated out of this happy period and thrown straight into the fire of the Framework part of the show. The terrible soul sucking Framework that was actually great for the TV show itself but the worst that could happen to the pair, thus proving they really are cursed.

With a tiny slither of hope at the end of the season, there was hope FitzSimmons could build up what was nearly destroyed. BUT as the writers of the show literally have nothing better to do than to use the most unoriginal plot device in the world, break a couple up then have then try get back together, again, the beacon of hope that was once FitzSimmons is now hurtled into the unknown. With Fitz being the only character left behind (oh for f***'s sake!) the couple are once again separted by time and space and all that alien crud in between. Seriously, will our scientist geniuses ever catch a break? And I don't mean in fan fiction or the excellent tumblr blogs but within the show.

Having now seen the opening two episodes of season 5, I have to say, although I'm super excited to see everyone in space and SPOILER the post apocalyptic future no less, I'm still sad to see Fitz not amoung them. I'm not the only one disappointed that there is one team member left behind. Cries out across the fandom and Twitter in general, all wondering where Fitz is. Iain De Caestecker wouldn't let much slip in an interview teasing that Fitz would return after episode 2, whichw as in a double season opener, so Fitz could literally turn up at anyone moment. But seeing as the next two episode titles echo what has already been mentioned in the opener 'A Life Spent' and 'A Life Earned' I don't see Fitz turning up yet (annoyingly) but as the 5th episode is called 'Rewind' it might be a Fitz heavy episode back in present day Earth with Fitz tryin to find out what happened. Speculating even further, the show might be going the same way season 3 did with Jemma in her own episode having her own adventure/nightmare alone on a strange planet. Now it's Fitz's turn? Half of me hopes this is the case, half me hopes Fitz shows up sooner.

With even more speculation already taking over that new character, Deke, is a relation of FitzSimmons, there is hope that Fitz and Simmons reunite and actually stay together to have a family... Deke built his own framework (yep, that old nightmare chestnut isn't dead yet) and seemed to know quite a bit about the engineering behind it. Plus, a notebook with calculations was found in short lived character Virgil as well as a postcode saying 'Working on it - Fitz'. Ties might be closer than expected.

Either way, seeing Fitz in similar clothes to the rest of the team gives hope, but with way more questions that answers I really just want to see what happens next. But I do long for the days of season 3, can we bring back that excitement minus the silly 'Will' story? Why not a FitzSimmons solo mission? That would be amazing to see.

We'll have to see FitzSimmons fans - we can beat this curse yet!