Sunday 29 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: The Return of the Hero

I hadn’t realised just how rare a period costume comedy was until writer and  director Laurent Tirard introduced his film at EIFF last month. He said that you don’t see many films of this genre and I struggled to think of examples. Apart from the genre being surprisingly unusual, Tirard said he was influenced by Jane Austen’s work and that he wanted to adapt one of her novels but seeing as they have each been adapted countless times, he said he had to write his own. I booked a ticket for this film last minute and it turned out to be one of my favourites of the festival.

Feckless Captain Neuville declares his love for Pauline, who comes from a very wealthy family and asks her to marry him. He is then immediately called to war, but promises to write. Pauline’s older sister Elisabeth doesn’t believe him for a second. After months of no word from him, she decides to write as the Captain to ease her sister’s suffering. But the letters become far bigger than she anticipated, she creates a fantastical heroic tale of the Captain’s fictional adventures and eventual supposed death. Her sister happily marries someone else, has children and the town remembers their ‘hero’ and life moves on. Until one day, the Captain returns, but he has been stripped of his rank, penniless and living like vagrant. His sudden return causes problems for Elisabeth so strikes a deal with the coward who deserted the army. But instead, the ‘hero’ returns, playing the part that Elisabeth has created for him. 

Jean Dujardin is the Captain is so utterly perfect in the role as a charming con man. Melanie Laurent is equally brilliant as the stubborn and independent Elisabeth and the two actors have such great chemistry. The pure comedy in the film is pitch perfect, from ridiculous situations to romantic comedy territory that is actually delightful to follow. There is also something uniquely spectacular about the costumes and the locations, with a story about lies and cowardice being played on this grand looking scale. 

Another aspect of the film which I appreciate being a more than a device but an actual part of the character of Elisabeth was about her writing. Elisabeth is vexed by the Captain’s return because it would expose her lies but also because she is the true author to his stories which he takes delight in reenacting for his eager ignorant audience. Her desire to be discovered as the talented writer she is becomes more important to be revealed than the fact she lied. Her frustration that she cannot do everything she wants to do, even though she chooses not to marry, she can’t be the writer she wants to be because its not possible for a woman, is an important part of Elisabeth just as much as her sense of honour and the truth. 

I’m really hoping that the film gets a general release in the UK as I think as Austen is always a winning in formula, the story and essence of the film would be very much appreciated. Fingers crossed!

Friday 27 July 2018

The Dude Abides

The Dude has abided for 20 gutterballing, White Russian drinking, pot smoking years. The Coen Brothers' cult film celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year and I'm not the only one celebrating.

Tonight, there is a screening of The Big Lebowski, part of Cinema Rediscovered and I will be introducing the film. Very nervous but also super excited. I though to go along with the film, I'd bring a mini zine I'd made (also thanks to my Dad who trimmed the edges and stapled them together) for those who wanted something to take home with them. I added in a word search as I thought why not? Plus I was inspired by Hannah Woodhead's Laura Dern zine.

I'll have more to write about this weekend as I will also be catching some other films I haven't seen before which I'm very much looking forward to.

Here's a look at the zine:


Wednesday 25 July 2018

June/July Watch List

Slightly preempting this month but releasing the watch list early-ish, but I'm guessing the films I see later will ge included next month.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I completely forgot about this Star Wars story. In my head I thought I'd written about it. I think, in some ways, I didn't want to write about this film, just enjoy it. I'll say this first, this film, wasn't needed, but it was fun to watch. Seeing young Han, played perfectly by Alden Ehrenreich (love this guy), scrabble around for survival the escape to become a pilot for the Empire, then to meet his best friend for life Chewie was something I didn't know I wanted to see. Han and Chewie best buds scenes were the highlight, apart from Lando in all his caped glory. From the war, to the heist with those epic trains, to being caught up in a gang war, to the beyond creepy Crimson Dawn and the all the crazy bits inbetween (slave riot is another highlight), Solo was a great story that fits neatly into the saga, even though it doesn't actually answer anything, but brings more questions about the extended universe, the last few minutes for example. 4/5

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

What can I say about Jurassic World that hasn't been said already? As sequels go, its as expected. It isn't necessarily 'bigger' but it does try to be bolder. The dinosaurs are in peril, as the island they inhabit is about to explode as it is discovered that there is an active volcano beneath the island. Funny how this was wasn't checked out when the theme park was built on it. Actually, there are quite a few of these moments that happen so often, it doesn't matter. The film is ridiculous but I love it. Dinosaurs are awesome and as the plot just gets sillier, the more enjoyable it becomes. From terrible names for new dinosaurs to steretyped new characters to the number one thing to never do in a Jurassic Park/World film, bringing dinosaurs to the mainland, it never ends well. Anyhoo, the dinos are in danger of being killed off, our favourite couple (no longer a couple at this point) Claire and Raptor whisperer Owen try to save them when an obvious shady deal is struct with a shady company, owned by a guy who used to know Hammond and his shady assistant. Dr. Henry Wu is also back and gives a few 'I'm an artist' speeches before being knocked out and dragged into the next film. Blue is also back, in videos of her as a baby dino, which are adorable I have to say, and as an injured adult. The evolution of the Velociraptors from villain to friend over the entire franchise is something you wouldn't have expected. An added bonus was a scene with our favourite Chaos Theorist who insists that we should let the dinos die otherwise we'll end up in their world. Life finds a way. 3/5

Ocean's 8 
I've always said that Ocean's Eleven could have had an entire female cast and the dialogue would not have needed to change. Then last year it was announced that there would be an Ocean's film, featuring all women, well, I was half happy, half confused. On the one hand having a cast a really great women who are just effortlessly cool was fantastic news, but the fact that it was part of a 'franchise' and not a brand new story with no ties to the male orientated trio of films, was disappointing. Debbie Ocean is released from prison, similiar to how her brother Danny was in the remake, Ocean's Eleven. She and her partner in crime Lou put together a team of women, each bringing their own skills to the table, to execute a heist at the famed Met Gala. At first it was annoying they were stealing jewellery BUT the heist is actually quite thrilling and the plan is perfect. The only thing that bugged me in the end was that the film didn't up the stakes. There was no real peril for the ladies, plus James Cordon was no needed. I did enjoy the fact that none of the woman had to resort to seducing anyone and didn't use their sexuality to complete the heist as so many spy or crime thriller often do. It was clean cut and as I said earlier, effortlessly cool. 4/5

Four Film Noirs
A while ago, I bought a boxest of four films; The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil and The Big Combo. All reviewed on Vulturehound HERE.

Tokyo Tribe
Having missed this Hip Hop musical about gangs in Tokyo, based the mang series, at LFF a couple of years back, I saw it on sale, like I do, in my favourite Fopp. Watched it on a whim and within minutes I hated it. Some of the music introducing the gangs was good and set design of the entire film is actually amazing but the constant threat of rape of the all the women in the film (only one main character who is a woman too) was too much. Maybe it's my own fault for not reading more about the film to understand what it was about or maybe I should go the hint from Hip Hop (like a sexist Hip Hop video but feature length). Either way, I really did not like this film. If you're curious, by all means seek it out for yourselves, you may enjoy it. 1/5

Set It Up
 A surprise hit from Netflix original films, meaning, I thought this was better than expected. Two PAs in work themselves to the bone for little to no pay off for their highly strung and careless bosses decide to set them up to make their own lives easier. But over time, the question of sacrificing their own freedom (and happiness) at the cost of lying to someone comes into question, also the PAs themselves start to fall for each other. Even though I'm not a 'sports fan', I can appreciate that the two main female characters are sports writers. Lucy Liu is the successful owner of an online sports journalism empire and she's fantastic. For me, I think its just great to see Lui in a film again. Her relationship with her PA Harper is better than that of Charlie's with his venture capitalist boss Rick, who moans about his ex-wife and takes little to no interest in his kid's life. The guys are out for themselves but Harper, no matter how badly treated she is, still respects Kirsten and her work. Its slightly messed but in the end it all works out better as Harper is encouraged to write by Kirsten. I actually worked as a PA for two terrible months, it takes a patient and special kind of person to do that job. 3/5

Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
This was watched on a whim as I never watched the first Ninja Turtle film. I hate Michael Bay and I'm not a huge fan of Megan Fox, but after what she said about Bay and her treatment, I have more respect for her now. Those feelings aside, a live action version of Ninja Tutrles didn't sound great on paper or in trailers BUT the sequel was a fun silly frolic where 80% of the characters from the TV animated series were motion captured. With Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady appearing in this jam packed film, I couldn't resist. It was just like the cartoon I watched as a kid, except there was some emotional brother drama between the turtles which was just annoying to sit through. 3/5

The Search for John Gissing
Full review of this 'lost' Alan Rickman starring film from 2001 is over on Vulturehound. 2/5

The Miseducation of Cameron Post 
My thoughts on this film will be posted up on Vulturehound next month nearer the the UK release date. I'll link back here then. 4/5

Sunday 22 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: Dead in a Week

I've said before (I think) that I'm a sucker for a hitman story. So when I see Aneurin Barnard is in a new film AND it has Tom Wilkinson playing said hitman, I'm going to make sure I see it.

Suicidal writer William had tried to end his life numerous times but can't catch a break. He meets hitman Leslie on a bridge one night who offers to do the deed for him. As Leslie is trying to fill his quota and struggling to do so, he has taken to assisting suicides instead of 'proper' contracts, to the disapproval of his boss. William has a week window where Leslie will try to kill him in the cheapest possible way, bullet to the head. But in that same week, William has interest in his book about his falied suicide attempts from a publisher and asks to hold of the deal, but Leslie is a desparate man and a contract is a contract to him. 

A comedy about a hitman who is getting to old for his job he loves and suicidal writer who writes about his failed attempts is an odd sell, but for the better part, it works. The film has a very British feel about it and has jokes such as the Europeans are taking over the hitman market and the dellusional heroic death where everyone claps after William saves a child in a way seems like British humour to me.

The film has a simple story with complicated characters that flesh out the plot, not going over the top in any direction which, with a subject, let alone a comedy haevily featuring suicide, is needed. Heartfelt moments are well balanced with comedic ones. Wilkinson's very matter of fact and annoyance when he accidentally kills the wrong person going after William is perfect, as well as his wife Penny played by Marion Bailey, presenting with a scrap book of all his 'best hits', is nicely placed in the middle of the quiet chaos. 

With a great cast of characters and actors, a hitman comedy about suicide is an unexpected bright light amongst the gritty despressing British film landscape. 

One Size Does Not Fit All

 Ever wondered why there aren’t many (if any) films featuring a woman who is 'average' sized? Where the film isn’t about her weight or size in some way? Where her weight/size appearance isn’t commented on? You may be thinking of a few but for me, I’m struggling to name at least 5.

Weight, size, appearance, style; all things that a woman is judged on, especially in films. There are great characters out there, but if you want to see someone like yourself on screen, you’ll find it on the small screen. TV is where all women can be found. Films cover subjects, tell stories but even in realism; its difficult to come by a story featuring a character that is of average build and the way she looks is not part of the story or even an extension of the character. Comedy is maybe one of the few genres where there are characters that are an exception to the rule. BUT other issues with these characters surface whether in the film or because of the film and fan reaction.

I think 30 Rock summed this situation up when star of the fictional sketch show comedy Jenna Marony ends up putting on weight after she has to eat pizza every night when she starred in Mystic Pizza the Musical. Jack Donaghy says:

This may just be for television but this also seems the case for film too.

Films either have characters that slim, athletic and toned or large, sad and plain, or stick thin pretty girls or pretty large and ‘quirky’. This is thoroughly irritating. There needs to be more variety in casting and not just for social realism stories, I mean across the board.

With films like Netflix’s #Insatiable - this sets back any sort of progress or character innovation. The fact that just the trailer sparked such outrage was both insane and in some ways, empowering. The audience is becoming more aware of what is being shown to them. The audience doesn’t just want a pretty actress in a fat suit and suddenly (through an act of violence) she is able to loose weight miraculously. But she wants revenge. This character creates a monster and says that bullied kids/teens are the real monster as ‘Patty’ takes violent revenge on those who hurt her. Why did she need to ‘become hot’ in order to seek revenge? This just feeds into the only two categories for female characters, you’re either skinny pretty and twisted or you’re fat, depressed and bitter.

I’ve mulled over the thought about women and sizes and to add to this, not just because of my size and my appearance, I still haven’t seen a character I could full relate to. But the size, is a bigger component that I realized. I’m waiting for more than one film to prove me wrong so that it isn’t just a trend or phase of characters that ‘average’ sized and not thin/slim or large/fat. 

Thursday 19 July 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Bad Parents

 This week's theme was suggested by Wendell.

Mr & Mrs Wormwood are famously some the worse parents in film and children's literature. Roald Dahl knew how to write a villain. We all know that Miss Trunchbull is the 'big baddie' of the story but The Wormwood parents are not far behind. Just focusing on the film, they neglect their daughter literally from day one when they leave her in the car. Ignoring her intelligence, hindering her chances of an education just so someone is around to take stolen packages. They most likely know Trunchbull was hideous but really don't care. To top it off, they are willing to let a stranger (to them, they only met Miss Honey once) adopt their daughter when they go on the run. I'm sure Matilda will need some therapy when she's older.

Gone Baby Gone
Helene McCready is a terrible mother. There is proof of this the whole way through the story. She doesn't really care what happened to her daughter, but she wants her back because she's hers, thats it. The little girl is neglected and her aunt and uncle love her, they love her so much, they'd prefer to see he out of harms way and not see her again just so she is safe. The decision at the end is difficult, in some ways Patrick Kenzie makes the right decision in terms of the law BUT its not right for the little girl. Its a tough ending.

Take your pick of terrible parents! Child prodigy Stanley on the quiz show has the bleakest ending as its not resolved. His dad forces him to be on the show, making him study all the time, using the money he makes for himself. Stanley has a break down where he isn't even allowed to go to the bathroom and wets himself on air. His father doesn't care about him and ignores him when his son asks him to be nicer to him. Quiz show host Jimmy abused his daughter, Claudia is a now a drug addict. Former child quiz champion Donnie had all his money stolen by his parents. Disgusting motivational speaker Frank was abandoned by his father. Everyone is really messed up in the film, but for all but Stanley there is a glimmer of hope.

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

Saturday 14 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: Supa Modo

My favourite film of the festival. Hoping this will get a general release in the UK and when it does, I'll be right back there to watch it again.

Review of the film is over at Vulturehound HERE.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Blind Spot: One Sings, The Other Doesn't

Its been a while but I’ve finally been able to post a Blind Spot post!

I had never seen an Agnes Varda film until last month when the BFI had programmed an Agnes Varda season. The title had always caught my eye and I was finally able to see it.

When school girl Pauline, recognises a portait of her estranged neighbour and friend Suzanne in photographer's studio, the two reconnect under strained circumstances. Suzanne is pregnant with her third child with the photographer and can't afford another. Pauline helps raise money for her to get an abortion but things get worse. The photographer commits suicide, leaving Suzanne no choice but to leave to countryside back to her hostile parents. Meanwhile Pauline leaves home and school and becomes part of a singing troupe.

Ten years later the women are reunited, meeting by chance at a demonstratio in 1972. The two friends stay in touch through letters over the years apart. Pauline continues writing songs and moves to Iran with her boyfriend Darius, whom she later marries but having grown disenchanted with her life returns to France to give birth. Suzanne eventually saves enough money to leave her parents' farm and opens a family planning clinic where she meets and marries a local doctor. Even though the two friends are separeted, they meet together sharing their lives apart.

Both Valérie Mairesse (Pauline/Pomme) and Thérèse Liotard (Suzanne) portray their characters with such ease, even in the face of such despair, they seem so natural. The hippy lifestyle that Pauline sometimes lives is also seen as a natural choice. The songs her group sings are soft spoken protest songs about femminism and life. A favourite song of mine is the song Pomme sings about travelling to Holland to have an abortion along with all the other women. Collectively they take boat ride together, which where she sings about the abortionees. Its humourous but with a sting of truth as it is still painfully relevent for the women of Ireland, who only recently were given their freedom to choose.

The story about these two women is beautifully told through the lost art of letter writing. Their bond is so strong from the minute they meet, they are true friends. Sometimes friendship is portrayed as cliches and difficult to watch because it doesn't feel real. No matter where life takes them and what happens, their affection is genuine.

To find out how it all started, head over to The Matinee and to see what's happening now, check out Returning Videotapes who is the new host of the Blind Spot Series.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: The Heiresses (Las herederas)

An couple face their straining relationship after one is sent to prison for debt and the other finds a new lease of life by driving her neighbour to a card game and by meeting a younger, more adventurous woman. One of the more intricate films of the festival, with a great story about the Paraguayan film industry as it grows.

The full review can be found over at Vulturehound HERE.

The film will hopefully be released in the UK on 10th August.

Monday 9 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: In Darkness

Its always a pleasure to seek out new British films at any festival. This thriller/mystery took me by surprise as it wasn't quite what I expected and I ended up really enjoying it.

About a blind piano player who ends up embroiled in the suspicious death of her upstairs neighbour while also carrying our her own plans.

Full review is over at Vulturehound HERE.

The film, I believe, was/is in select cinemas 6 July, and out on DVD & Digital today.

Edinburgh Film Festival: Steel Country

An unlikely 'detective' becomes obsessed with find out aout what happened tp the little boy who waves at me.

My full review is ocer at Vutlturehound HERE.

And we lived beneath the waves, in our yellow submarine

There are some films that you watch when you're really young that stay with you into your adulthood. They are at the back of your mind where they rest throughout your teenage years and when you're in your early 20s you start to want those childhood days back and start to reminisce about when you first saw that film...

For me, the films I think back to are films like, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and of course, Disney. But the more obscure films, such as The Mikado, Pirates of Penznace, The Secret of NIMH, American Tail, Big Foot and the Hendersons, Some Like it Hot, Flight of the Navigator, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Hook, Brassed Off, The Lady Killers, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Guys and Dolls and the Marx brothers films, just to name a few films that shaped me. But the one I'm missing off my list is The Beatle's Yellow Submarine.

This year is the 50th anniversary of The Yellow Submarine, an anniversary that has prompted my parents and my aunt and uncle to reminisce about when they first saw it, at the cinema! Luckily the film is an important part of the animation and British film landscape so it was given the 'big screen' treatment, meaning that fans like me, could see it in all its glory for the first time at the cinema.

I can't remember exactly what age I saw it, but I was very young, maybe not even 8 years old yet. The Yellow Submarine was on TV and back in the day, we recorded everything on video tapes. We used to have a HUGE library of videos, having to take half of them out to see where everything was. I wore that video out I watched it so much. I eventually, in my early teens, was able to ask for the 'real' VHS for a birthday or Christmas present and I was ecstatic when I saw that shiny yellow box. I waited another decade to get the shiny new CD that had been released with all the music from the film and not long after that, I was able to purchase the restored version on DVD, special edition.  It's so beautiful to behold.

Directed by George Dunning, this classic animation will be forever the cult hit with fans of The Beatles and new fans of the animated marvel. Hoping that the coverage the film has been getting in the past few months that more people will go and see why it is such a beloved film. A story about a fictional fantastical land, Pepperland, who are invaded by the evil Blue Meanies who hate music and anything happy really. Their one hope, Captain Fred who escapes in the fabled Yellow Submarine travels to our world where the Fab Four go on an adventure to help out Fred and the rest of Pepperland fight, with music and song.

My family obviously knew of my Beatles obsession, so my dad painted the sub on my wall which was there until I moved rooms when I was 15. My obsession has quieted down but when I see all the awesome merchandise, I can't help but wish I had it all and it never 'all too much'.

I used to put on The Beatles vinyl that my parents owned and listen to their music and dance around the dinning room table. Seeing the film on the big screen made me think back to those days. The animation is still crazy and wild and I love it. With the use of what we'd call a gif, used throughout Eleanor Rigby and the hand drawn sketch effect in 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' all moments I adore. Just need a sing-along to happen and life would be complete.


@thebeatles ‏  



Friday 6 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: Dumped (Larguees)

One of my early morning films was this fun in the sun, with two sisters trying to cheer up their mum after she is left by her husband for a younger woman. Laughs, awkward meet cues, equally odd staff to match the crazy guests.

My full review is over at Vulturehound HERE.

Edinburgh Film Festival: Waru

The directors of 'Waru' will also hopefully feature in my post 'She Makes Movies'. A film of segments all connected by the suspicious death of a young boy. Stories varying depending on distance, love, friendhsip etc.

My review is up on Vulturehound HERE and my futre post will be up later this week.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches

In no way was this a favourite of mine at EdFilmFest but it was shot amazingly. Athe creepy gothic feel of the story, framed perfectly still. It's a grim story that I felt was disfficult to sit through.

My whole review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Edinburgh Film Festival: Loveling (Benzinho)

A great start to the festival with a familt drama that has drama happen all the time but its all take at ease.

My full review of the film can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Edinburgh Film Festival: Unicorn Store

Last film of the festival, left a lasting colourful effect. Brie Larson's directorial debut is fun, fragile with a touch of fantasy that isn't cliche or tiresome.

My whole review can be found over at Vulturehound HERE.