Monday 27 February 2017

Around the World: Argentina

This film showed me how little I know about Argentina and the musical Evita.

I should point out that Eva Doesn't Sleep and Evita are only connected as their stories centre around Eva Perón. I should also point out that I didn'y make this connection until about 20 minutes into the film.

Split into three chapters; The Embalmer, The Transporters and The Dictator with Gael Garcia Bernal book ending the film as admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, narrating the story of how he had been searching for 25 years for 'that women', referring to Perón's body which went missing. The Embalmer cleans and preseves Eva's body so that it can be kept for years and shares the moment he completes to a shy girl who wishes to see Eva. The Transporters are two soliders charged with taking Eva to a secret location but end up in a vicious argument. The Dictator is the kidnapping of President Pedro Eugenio Aramburu by revolutionaries who demand to know where Eva's body is.

Despite being somewhat straight forward story and how Eva affected people, an idol, a mission, an inspiration, there is a mystical element to the story to. The constant presecence of this being that doesn't say a word, but embodies so much more to the people of Argentina is fascinating. I'm sure there are other films about Perón but this was a unique way of telling the story of how her body disappeared for decades. A interesting look at a part of history I didn't know about.

I have never seen Evita on stage or the film all I knew about Perón was the song 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina' which is now even more tragic than when I first heard it.

Keep an eye out for  upcoming films HERE and if you can suggest any films from any country, let me know!

Sunday 26 February 2017

Blind Spot Series: Top Hat

With a connection from my last Blind Spot, Purple Rose of Cairo, this month's pick was featured. I haven't seen that many Fred and Ginger films but my favourite is 'The Gay Divorcee' which actually has a similiar storyline. Hailed as 'the' Fred and Ginger film to watch, its even been turned into a West End hit (which I missed when it was on) its a film my whole family have seen but again, I managed to miss it.

About 5 minutes into Top Hat I realised I had seen bits of the film. In fact I've seen the opening song and Astaire's tap dance that wakes up Rogers quite a few times. I have also seen the ending a few times too. Luckily the middle was all new to me.

In the tradition of screwball musical romantic comedies, the story is all about confusion as well as one hell of laid back wife and a highly amusing valet. Astaire is talented dancer Jerry who is in London to star in a new show produced by his friend Horace Hardwick. Jerry awakens Dale (Rogers) while tap dancing during the night and when she storms in to confront him, he falls in love at first sight. He follows her around town and to Venice where she is visting her friend, Horace's wife, Madge. Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace is horrified at his behaviour but is also falling love with him. Throughout the silliness, there are some great songs including 'No Strings (I'm fancy free)' and the amazingly beautiful 'Cheek to Cheek'.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made 10 films together, which accumulated to 33 partnered dances. 'Cheek to Cheek' is one of the most famous dance sequences not just for Rogers' exquisite dress. The couple really are wonderfull together as they glide across the screen with ease. Performed at an important moment in the amsung plot, Jerry is in love with Dale and wants to propose, Dale still thinks he is Madge's husband but can't help herself letting go and enojing being with Jerry. Dancing around a large studio standing in place for an Italian hotel they literally have the space to themselves.

With the music and dancing already perfect, the comedy is taken care of thanks to misunderstandings and the rest of the gang. Madge Hardwick upon hearing that her husband has supposedly been flirting with Dale, meering acts slightly surprised and dry about it, but tortures and confuses her bumbling husband who really has no idea what's going on as he is more concerned about a petty argument he has ongoing with his strange valet who seems to end up in wrong place at the right time. The screwball is turned up to a fantastic amount when Beddini, an Italian fashion designer and friend of Dale gets involved and towards the end keeps branding his sword.

As the most successful of the Fred and Ginger musicals, you can see the appeal of the story that is excellent escapism, especially for those who would have seen it in 1935 during the depression. The film may be of a certain time but it is a classic and therefore timeless. I'm not very tempted to watch the other films I haven't seen of their, for a little escapism.

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

Wednesday 22 February 2017

TMP Television Edition: Superheroes/Super Powers

Superheros and super powers could technically be included in sci-fi shows...but just like the movies this theme has spawned its own genre in the land of TV. Only problem is is that I despise anything that comes out of CW channel as all that Green Arrow Smallville Supergirl Flash bs makes me ill.... Of course there is Heroes but that wasn't great after Season 1. And there is of course Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, but I'll save them for another day.

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

I've only seen the first episode but I'm intrigued. Looked a bit up about the mutant named Legion and oh my is he insane. He's a mutant with multiple powers which makes him an Omega and highly dangerous and powerful. He is also the son of Charles Xavier. I love the X-Men comics and movies (apart from X3) so this caught my eye.

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Back in the day (fans with get this reference) it was decided to bring back Agent Coulson and Whedon was the man to do it. BUT its still a shame that the show is ignored in the greater scheme of things. BUT its also awesome that the show does include everything, which made Season one right in the middle of the Hydra frak up. Coulson and his team start out by finding odd things and fixing them, not always space-y sometimes just plain old spy-y. The show evolved into an Inhumans story arc that never really went away even though lost of things have been going on. But I really only picked the show as it has my favourite characters, Agents Fitz and Simmons or FitzSimmons as they are known as. There is talk that the team will appear in Infinity Wars and if so this will be epic.

After a weird lightening storm five young offenders find that they have powers. The powers reflect their insecurites and flaws. It was a huge show when it first started but after series 3 when most of the original cast had (SPOILERS) been killed off, left or was arrested (yep this happened) the show fell apart ans just wasn't good anymore. The reason for the powers aren't really touched upon but instead they find others in the story that have powers for better or worse but soon the stories escalate into big storylines over life and death. Deep stuff bruv. Forgotten gem.

Tuesday 21 February 2017

January/February Watch List

Yes I did forget to do my watch list for January. So this will be a mega packed post with shorter thoughts and views on the films seen. I think I'm missing a few too...

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 
Based on the real life account of Kim Baker's time in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a war correspondant. Described as a biographical war comedy-drama, something I wouldn't watch usually but Tina Fey was in it so I was suckered in. Fey was perfect as the bored American, in dull relationship, needing something interesting character or as another lady says 'most American white lady story'. Predictable, which was odd considering the location, a bit of a mess but Fey was great but deserved better. 3/5

There is so much to say about this film that a few sentences will not convey. A brutal and horrific story where everything seems impossible. But a view from both sides is seen and both have a fair point to make. Brilliantly filmed and even though the subject matter is dark, there is some beauty. Two jesuit priests travel to dangerous Japan in search of their mentor after there are rumours that he denounced the faith. Their presence is known by the 'inquisitor' and are hunted. The priests split up and the story falls on Father Rodrigues and his journey. The silence is in reference to Rodrigues not being able to hear God. There is far I can say but it might turn into a rant. 4/5

 This documentary felt like it had more to offer than what happened. It starts off in jest with New Zealand journalist David Farrier finding a story about 'competitive endurance tickling' and wanting to do a piece on it for a morning TV show but it gets darker. As the response is a vile homophobic retort, Farrier delves deeper into a conspiracy that stretches across the US with many more 'tickling leagues' all connected to one person. It's disturbing but there isn't really a resolution just an open ending. 3/5

La La Land 
I admit I was looking forward to this for months. I lapped up all the trailers and photos and was happy to sit down in a big screen to lap it up evem more. The story about a struggling actress and a down on his luck jazz pianist seemed simple enough but add in the music and its a tecnicolour dreamscape. I liked it not loved but this is only because the ending straigh up sucks. It doesn't work in terms of story nor does it work with the time line, to be honest. I think it should have ended on a mystery but no, terrible ending in place. There are other qualms but I'll settle for saying that most of the songs are great except that one she sings in the audition, that was dull. 3/5

A perfect title which happens to the couple's name. Richard and Mildred Loving are historical characters but you wouldn't believe it. A simple love story that became reason for the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. They don't want fuss, they just want to live their lives in peace and happily married. The film is delicate and quiet, no huge speeches, no large crowds, just two people who changed history. 4/5

20th Century Women 
Does it take a man to raise a man? No, it doesn't. That what this film is about, and isn't about. On the surface its about Dorothea who wants to make sure she is raising her son, Jamie, right. She asks his friend Julie and her lodger Abbie to help. The film is really about these women, their past, their present and what their future holds. Using one of my favourite devices in film, voice over with predictions of what is to come. Mike Mills makes a movie about the women who influence a young man's life, seeing things from different angles and by women of different times. The film's story is actually quite short taking place in the summer of 1979 but the film spans a lifetime. I have so much admiration for this film and love how each woman is uniquely portrayed and not steretyped. 5/5

Kubo and the Two Strings 
One of the most beuatiful animated films and its no surprise its Laika. The story is perfectly portrayed in stop motion, about a young boy who can create stories through origami and music. But the stories he tells are not fiction, they tell of his father a brave warrior and his mother who fell in love but as she was from the Moon (stay with me) their love was forbidden. Its a little more complicated as Kubo has to gone on a journey and find some armour. He has help from a snow monkey and beetle man who might not be what they seem and then he must defeat the Moon King, his grandfather himself. The story is actually quite sad as Kubo is essentially an orphan near the start of the film and the end is satidfying but will have you in tears. Everything is fantastic about this film, a bit too complicated but apart from that its a beauty to behold. The fact that it is set in Japan make sit feel like a fairytale with deeper meaning as the two strings could be representations of his parents. Just a thought. 4/5

Intrigued by the cast and thinking it was futuristic (it isn't) I watched this Brit movie that premieres on Netflix. Straight forward, teenager is shot while trying to call for help after his friend/crush is raped. He ends up with superpowers and becomes a vigilante. It's slightly better than it sounds. It was just great to see that Netflix is working with the UK film industry (not just TV) and was a little more grittier than a period drama. 3/5

Money Monster 
Directed with ease and tension galore by Jodie Foster, with George Clooney as the big mouthed show off presenter of a financial show with Julia Roberts as the run down deserves better so gad damn good at her job produer. But after a gun man seeking revenge after an investment went wrong holds the crew and Clooney hostage, it turns into a money conspiracy and its not too bad. You feel sorry for gunman Kyle and you want justice for those who lost their money and the tension is kept up throughout BUT it is a tad long and slightly unbelieveable to the point where I kept rolling my eyes. 3/5
Toni Erdmann 
 I think this epic story of a father who likes to play jokes and pranks on people visits his uptight corportate daughter for a weekend needs its own post. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 
Finally got to see this peculiar film. I almost read the books but couldn't determine if they were YA or younger. The film is pretty darn good and a perfect Tim Burton vehicle. All the children with their peculiarities were fantastic and Eva Green was marvelous, BUT I really do not like Asa Butterfield. He's so wooden. And with an American accent too? It was jarring, the whole way through. 3/5

The Magnificent Seven 
After the mediocre reviews I feared the worst and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. Westerns aren't my favourite but every now and then, theres one that catches my eye and my eye was caught by 6 out of the 7 riders. A remake of a remake that actually wasn't too bad. After a poor town of farmers are bullied (some murdered) by a wealthy robber baron who wants to mine the town, they seeks help in the form of seven riders all with their own stories and skills. They defend the town and teach the people how to fight and it all goes down in a massive fight/shoot out. I was surprised by the end but I won't spoil it. 4/5

Thursday 16 February 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Shakespeare Adaptation

Ah Shakespeare. So many great stories and so many ways to tell them. My little claim to Shakespeare fame (as many other young wannabe actors) was playing Bottom in a big school production in secondary school. But it was set in the 60s and the mechanicals were The Beatles so we all had Liverpudlian accents. The drama teacher directing called the production 'A Midsummer Night's Magical Mystery Dream' and used music from that album in the show. A bit of a mess but we pulled it off. I took great pride in making people laugh on stage while performing the play within a play. Having gave up my dreams of the stage by 16 years old I feel that after all the pantomines and plays, performing Shakespeare was still an achievement. Especially with the amount of damn lines.
I'm guessing Romeo + Juliet will be popular this week as it is an amazing film but I picked it a few times so now for something a bit different.

Much Ado About Nothing 
Joss Weadon's adaptation came about shooting in between bigger projects. He simply gathered his friends at his house and made a film. I love this play and I loved the cast (Fran Kranz!) and the fact it was shot in such a short time and practically one loctaion is an amazing feet. There are several things going on here (as there always is with Shakespeare) but the main plot point is about Beatrice and Benedict, once lovers but now enemies. Their friends, fed up with their arguments, trick them into thinking that each other is in love with them and just watch how their feelings unfold. 

Forbidden Planet
A different kind of version of 'The Tempest' a strange story about a ship wrecked crew landing on a myterious island that belongs to a wizard and his daughter. But in this version, a very young Leslie Nielsen heads up the crew of a space ship with lands on planet where everyone myteriously died and the only ones left are a scientist and his daughter oh and Robby the Robot.

10 Things I Hate About You

Who'd have thought that Shakespeare could be adapted to a high school film? Well it was and its one of the best 'teen comedy dramas' ever. Featuring a cast of great actors, some young, some just hilarious (like Alison Janey). When Bianca Stratford, high school would be darling, can't date until her older shrew like sister does, new kid Cameron (in love with Bianca) enlists the help of Patrick to date/tame Kat. But it turns out that Patrick and Kat are great match but the course of true love never did run smooth especially in teen dramas.

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

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Around the World: Iceland

I think I now know that I'm not a 'Icelandic comedy person'. After The Homecoming last year and now the promising Rams, either the comedy goes over my head or the comedy is so well hidden I couldn't see it. 

Rams is about two brothers, both sheep farmers who live next door to each other. They haven't spoken in decades and barely interact with each other. After an annual competition, Gummi inspects his brother's winning ram to discover it has a disease. Turns out all the sheep in the valley are infected and the authorities have declared the sheep must be slaughtered. But neither Gummi or Kiddi are standing for it. Each in their own way they rebel against this decree. But sooner or later they will have to work together.

The story is wonderfully simple; two brothers who are rivals but live next door to one another react differently to the lose of their beloved sheep. Things do take a dramatic turn towards the end of the film where Kiddi, the aggressive drunk throughout the film changes and tries to take care of his brother, the more reasonable and smarter of the two. Gummi is at the centre of the film but he illustrates how the farmers in the valley live and lost they are without their sheep. Aside from the film being so wonderfully different to anything else, I still can't understand the comedy. I think I need to see more Icelandic films, not comedies, just other films from the country. The film had an odd pace which I enjoyed and even though what was happening was at times distressing, it was still serene and unlike typical British or American films. 

Keep an eye out for my next destination.

Sunday 12 February 2017

No One Expects The Cavalcade of Perversions

I have been trying to find a way to describe John Waters' Multiple Maniacs. It is true to its tagline 'a celluloid atrocity' but what I've struggled with is whether it is a good thing or not. I have only seen a few of Waters' films (Serial Mom, A Dirty Shame, bits of Hairspray) and I found them bizarre and some scenes unwatchable but I appreciated that Waters' cult status was because of his style, vision and writing, it just wasn't something I could watch repeatedly. But I went to see Multiple Maniacs with an open mind and oh my did I need an open mind for this one.

Shot on a micro budget and filmed in exotic locations such as Baltimore and Waters’ parents garden, the film has a down and dirt quality from the start. From the, what looked like, hand scrolled credits to the fantastically over the top, underplayed acting, the introduction to Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversions is enticing as well as disgusting. Offering such attractions as ‘the puke eater’ and ‘a heroin addict going cold turkey’ and two people licking someone else’s hairy armpits. But as Mr David (David Lochary), coaxes a small crowd into the free exhibition with an amusing list of what is to be found inside the tents, there is a feeling that something else is going to happen. Enter Lady Divine (Divine) lounging naked looking into a mirror (what a screen introduction) and barking orders at the troupe.  Things aren’t great between her and her boyfriend, Mr David hinting at unrest in the ‘family’. This is the real ‘story’ with the free show being a front for a robbery/murder. The plot shifts to Mr David having an affair with Bonnie (Mary Vivian Pearce) and plotting Lady Divine’s murder, while she is set on revenge for Mr David’s betrayal. 

In between in all the blood, drugs, mayhem, the film has an odd interlude where Divine seeks solace in a church after being attacked. She tried to pray but instead succumbs to the allure of a woman (Mink Stole) who sleeps in confessionals and gives people ‘Rosary Jobs’. She and Divine have a weird and bizarre sexual encounter in the church, which is intercut with each of them going through the Stations of the Cross in voiceover as well as the a scene with the rest of the cast re-enacting the story. It was strangely in-depth with detail of what happened at each stage. But, this isn’t the strangest thing to happen in the film that is saved for near the ending. This section of the film could be seen as an attempt from Lady Divine to find answers her behavior and her murderous glee but she is corrupted and seduced by the strange and depraved.  

Despite the scene in the church and brutal murders that happen, Divine’s rampage through the streets of the city is a terrifying thing to behold. Covered in blood and god knows what else in a one piece swimming costume and a fur coat. She embraces the maniac inside and just lets loose. It could be described as a revenge film or a crime story but for me I see it as film about being able to let your crazy side out.  

There are some fantastic moments in this film, the lobster especially as it is unexpected and literally for no reason, with comedic and horror elements too, its hybrid that once you start watching you can’t stop as sometimes, its hard to believe what you’re watching is happening, which could be great cinema. Overall, I think it’s a film you need to see for yourself as I am actually not doing it justice.

Friday 10 February 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Prodigy/Genius

I should have just picked The Royal Tenenbaums as all three of them are child prodigies but instead I went for a genius, an wanted prodigy and an unlikely prodigy.

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

The Imitation Game
Alan Turing was a genius. He was a cryptanalyst who cracked the German codes during World War two. The film is of two parts, his life during the war with his code cracking team at Bletchley Park and the second part in the 50s where he is arrested for having sex with another man. The film did try to hone in on Turing and his life but mainly focused on two aspects of his life, his intelligence and his sexuality.

A classic Roald Dahl book made into an awesome 90s classic. Danny Devito directs, narrates and acts in the (I'm sure) loved film about a girl, clever beyond her years, who finds that she has telekinetic powers. She teaches her terrible parents a lesson as well as the villainous headteacher of her school.

Billy Elliot 
A boy from a mining town, wants to be a ballet dancer and has the talent to be one. But he keeps the secret about his lessons from his father and brother. This film was brilliant, is brilliant. Great cast and actually quite a good soundtrack. Had Cosmic Dancer in my head for ages after. Such a simple story that speaks volumes. Its such a shame they turned it into a musical....

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Around the World: Japan

It's been a little while since I travelled to my next film destination and on a rainy Sunday afternoon I decied that a quirky comedy from Japan was the right choice.

Haname thinks she's curses.  Ever since her father left her and her mother and she everything he ever gave her into a swamp. The last image of a good luck cat waving goodbye haunts her. When her magazine she writes for closes and her mother ends up in a coma she finds a letter revealing her real father. She searches for him. Now calling himself Light Bulb he is an junk shop owner. She also meets punk rocker Gus and a lady seeking an unusual machine that predicts your future partner and mysterious family vault. Haname's mini adventures make her change and inspires her own shop and even her own instant swamp.

A strange tale about a woman over coming her curse and skeptical view on life. She goes through some difficult times but comes out covered in mud on the other which is a good thing for this story.

Haname's journey is really about self discovery but not told in a cliché way. She appreciates the odd things in life and finds beauty in a rusty nail but eventually opens her mind and heart and beats her own curse. A great film from Satoshi Miki, makes me want to seek more of his work.

Look out for the next destination!

Thursday 2 February 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Artists (Painters)

Little Ashes
This was an odd watch. I didn't know anything about Salvador Dali apart from some of his paintings and his work with Hitchcock, but this was more about his relationship with the poet Federico García Lorca and his friendship with Luis Buñuel. Focusing more on the artist and his artistic friends before they became famous. Nothing special to be honest.

Far better the second time I watched it. I think I've used this film before but I couldn't resist again. Salam Hayek was perfect as the unique artist Frida Kahlo. With an amazing life and art that is sometimes hard to look at, its a visual masterpiece.

Mr Turner
A more recent biopic about the one and only J.M.W. Turner for whom the Turner Prize is named after. Seems an insult now though as the award goes to terrible art that isn't really art. Anyway the film is about Turner's later life, including the death of his father and his relationship with a widow who lives by the sea. It's very long but it's mike Leigh at his best. 

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