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Category Archives: Movies
OK, I know I’m in for a lot of grief here but I’ll admit up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never seen a Bond film all the way through. The only times I’ve seen them is if there’s been one on TV and The Boy Wonder decided to watch it despite it only having 30 minutes left. I suppose it’s a bit of a surprise considering I am a bit of a geek. I adore Batman but Bond has just never figured in my life.
However, after hearing about “the gritty reboot” and seeing trailers that looked pretty good, I thought I’d give ‘Skyfall’ a go.
I thought the cinematography was good. The action sequences were pretty impressive and the product placement was nowhere near as invasive as I was expecting.
Some might say that director Sam Mendes has “paid homage” to ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Woman in Black’ but as far as I’m concerned, he ripped them off.
The Baddie, Silva, played by Javier Bardem was a cross between Hannibal Lector and Heath Ledger’s Joker. His peroxide hair, his unhinged and inappropriate excitement at the thought of mischief along with his ability to anticipate what his nemeses will do seemed like a take-off of Heath Ledger’s far superior role. It seems like he’s watched ‘The Dark Knight’, seen the excitement Ledger’s performance produced and thought “That’s what I need to do to portray a ‘good villain’”. But his portrayal falls completely short.
One scene which shows Silva locked in a “high security” part of the London Underground which MI6 is using as its temporary home since Silva blew up their usual digs. It looked like an exact replica of the scene where Hannibal Lector is caged in the penthouse suite of a hotel, awaiting transfer. Surprise, surprise, they both managed to escape.
How did Silva escape? By engaging the only man guarding him in conversation and attacking him. Correct me if I’m wrong but The Joker also did that.
Oh, and after’s Silva’s escape, the “goodies” realise it was part of his plan to get caught all along. Just like The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Escaping from a secure place seems to be a common trope of villains in recent blockbusters.
One thing I did like about Silva, though, was the unlikely sexual tension between him and Bond and his undeniable Oedipus Complex regarding M although I still think that idea could have been developed further.
I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief: is this James Bond or Aquaman? Bond managed to survive drowning at least twice.
My main thought throughout this film was: I didn’t know they were bringing out another Batman film so soon.
A manor house set alight, a derailed train, a skyscraper with a set-to, a manic villain whose plan requires him to get caught then break-out. Plus, the villain disguising himself as a policeman. Even Thomas Newman’s soundtrack appeared to have taken “inspiration” from Hans Zimmer; Newman’s music was far more loud and booming than his previous soundtracks.
One issue that I had with both ‘Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Skyfall’ was the pointless exposition in the dialogue. Why don’t filmmakers believe the old adage “show, don’t tell”. Don’t condescend your audience – they don’t need your constant explanations.
The idea that the story would feature more on M was a great idea but I felt it didn’t go anywhere near deep enough. The characters generally seemed underdeveloped and I felt the actors featured didn’t have their opportunity to really shine. They did the best with the script they were given.
I liked Q although I think Chris Addison or Richard Ayode would have been better suited to the role. I did wonder whether any of the technology used in the film could be used in real life. I can’t even get a signal in open land, never mind on the Tube.
I thought Daniel Craig’s run was rather – unintentionally – funny. It was as though he thought he’d appear faster by lifting his knees to his chest and moving his arms a lot.
The final set piece, set in Scotland, was drawn-out and completely ridiculous. The misty, dark and creepy house had me half expecting to see some evil spirit knocking around a la ‘The Woman in Black’. While M, Bond and the caretaker set traps, I thought ‘Skyfall’ had entered ‘Home Alone’ territory. I thought Harry and Marv were going to pop up and stand on some shattered Christmas decorations.
Questions that popped into my head whilst watching the final set-to in ‘Skyfall’.
Why did he take all tracking devices off his car, refuse help from the MI-6 but lead Silva to his manor home anyway?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to throw Silva off the scent entirely?
Why didn’t Bond shut the door to the secret passage after setting up the bomb?
Why did he stand waiting in the tunnel until the flames approached him?
How did Bond escape any kind of burns?
Why did Silva’s goon look so cocky on the ice, despite knowing Bond had killed most of his co-workers?
Why didn’t the caretaker turn the bloody torch off when they were in the little church? How did Bond not drown again?!
Many Bond fans see this as a tour de force but I felt it could have been a lot better.
So, the sun has set on Whitley Bay Film Festival 2012 and I’m already excited for 2013! This post is about Whitley Bay Film Festival 2012 and why it was the highlight of the year for me.
After 14 days, 17 films, 12 indie shorts, 7 community shorts, 2 Arthouse evenings and 1 busker’s night, the festival has come to an end. So why do I think it is the greatest event of the year?
Whitley Bay Film Festival is run purely by volunteers and the wonderful spirit demonstrated by these volunteers during every event was impressive. The smiles on their faces, their genuine interest in whether everyone had enjoyed the film and the great deal of effort, thought and preparation that was taken is like none I’ve never witnessed before. Certain multiplexes (and other retail operations) would benefit greatly by having their staff train with Whitley Bay volunteers.
I’ve seen some classic films and some independent shorts that could be regarded as classics in a few years. Visitors to The Playhouse also got an exclusive peek at the trailer for ‘The Spies of Warsaw’ which is due to be screened on BBC later this year. The films that have screened at the film festival have been broad in range and there’s certainly been something for everyone. Not only did the film festival show films but they hosted animation classes, an art exhibition and music events, it was culture-filled.
Audience members were encouraged to get as involved as they like. Zombies shuffling out into the crowd during a film, glitter cannons exploding at the end of another movie and the costumes donned by the volunteers made the events truly memorable.
By planning surprises like the piano on Whitley Bay beach and arranging special guests like Dorothy & Toto at the beginning of ‘Wizard of Oz’ and an owl during ‘The Birds’, volunteers demonstrated their ability to add another dimension to film viewings.
Whitley Bay Film Festival helped me connect with like-minded people. Whether I attended screenings or alone, there was always someone to chat with who was equally as enthusiastic as I was. In Pantrini’s one evening, when a girl and her mum started enthusing about the film festival. They’d just been to see ‘Wizard of Oz’ and were treating themselves to a fish supper. I’ve chatted with people during the Arthouses exhibition and the Independent Shorts evening. The people I met at St Mary’s Lighthouse allowed me to geek out with total freedom and they made great film companions.
The choice in venues made me remember that Whitley Bay is not just a place for drunk stags and hens but a place of beauty and culture. I’ve learned about the regular busker’s and film nights at the Trojan Rooms which had previously gone unnoticed by me. Thanks to visits to St Mary’s Lighthouse and The Dome (among other places), I have fallen in love with Whitley all over again.
See you in 2013.
To read my Whitley Bay Film Festival blog posts, please visit http://whitleybayfilmfestival.co.uk/.
To watch WBFF’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ night, click http://vimeo.com/48272172
So, I’ve been Whitley Bay Film Festival’s official blogger for a week and I am having a great time.
So far, I’ve seen nine classic films, been to a film-themed busker’s night, met some great independent filmmakers and seen lots of indie movies.
To read my reviews so far, check out http://whitleybayfilmfestival.co.uk/2012/
The website will feature regular blog posts and pics from me so keep checking for updates.
As part of Whitley Bay’s Annual Film Festival, TBW and I chose to go to a midnight screening of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. Having never seen ‘The Picture Show’ before, I was certainly interested to see what the fuss was about.
Doors opened at 11.30 and, having read the pre-show information, we arrived with cushions and blankets to keep ourselves warm and comfy throughout the screening. Entering the dome, I was amazed to see the effort that had gone into the waiting area. There was a small bar, a few tables and chairs with umbrellas as parasols as well as a projection of stills from the film onto the pillar in the centre. The soundtrack was also piped through the sound system. There was an ice-cream stand from the local (and world-famous) Crescent Cafe in Seaton Delaval, a popcorn stall as well as pick ‘n’ mix. Once inside the dome, there were usherettes selling refreshments.
Also in the waiting area, there was a small film memorabilia stand which featured some an arrows from ‘Star Wars’, ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’, a jumper worn by Will Smith in ‘Hancock’, a mask from ‘Hollow Man’. The most impressive piece on show was a scary Dalek.
Although I knew ‘Rocky Horror’ had a cult following, I was astounded to see the amazing costumes that people turned up in. There were a few Frank-N-Furter costumes, Riff Raff, Columbia and even an Eddie (Meatloaf). Very impressive indeed. Due to the timing of the show, I did wonder whether some people had indulged in a few bevvies beforehand as many of the people gathered seemed highly excitable. Perhaps they needed Dutch courage, I wish I’d been so brave!
The cinema had deck chairs set up and I have to admit they are more comfortable than usual multiplex seats. The dome seats 100 people and, although it was a late showing, it was impressively busy although not completely full.
The film festival had also sold packs for patrons which contained items for interaction during the show. So, when Brad and Janet’s friends get married at the start of the film, the audience throw rice and when Brad and Janet get caught in a storm, there are water guns squirted and people put paper on their heads like Janet. When Frank-N-Furter proposes a toast, slices of toast are thrown. Other props include toilet roll, playing cards and party poppers. It was quite funny to return home to find rice in various places, and a toast crust stuck to our blanket!
Before the film started, there were old adverts for local businesses from the 1950s which were really interesting.
During the film, there was a lot of audience participation – from throwing props to dancing and shouting out lines.
The film itself was interesting to say the least but I really enjoyed myself. The atmosphere was great and the effort that the organisers had put into the production was really impressive. My only disappointment was the price of the tickets – £10 each – we would have definitely been to see more of the films available if it had cost less. But, the one we did see was totally worth the money.
Having been a fan of ‘The Inbetweeners’ since it first appeared in E4 in 2008, I had high hopes for this big screen adaptation. ‘Why?’, I hear you ask. After all, any TV to film swap tends to be disappointing to say the least. Well, the writers and producers of ‘The Inbetweeners’ so far appeared to have dodged the pitfalls associated with cult success and so I hoped their foray into movies would prove successful.
So before I talk about the film, let’s think about what makes ‘The Inbetweeners’ so popular:
- Jokes about Will’s Mum and all the others wanting to shag her.
- Mr Gilbert, Head of Sixth Form, and his undisguised hatred for his students.
- Jokes about Neil’s Dad’s sexuality.
- Jay’s lies about how much sexual experience he’s had.
- The gross-out humour. Remember that episode with the bollock hanging out of Simon’s pants?
- John, the paedophile teacher, who has to be led away from Neil on several occasions.
- The boys’ appalling attempts at pulling girls.
- Will’s sheer squareness: this is the boy who wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday with a sophisticated dinner party.
- Simon’s dad sharing too much, inappropriate information.
- Utterly embarrassing moments involving spewing on siblings, Will having an accident in an exam and Will abusing a group of special needs kids at a theme park.
- The honesty of the portrayal of teenage life. It’s not PC or pleasant but it sure is fair.
- Catchphrases like “Bus wankers” and “ooh, friends”.
So, all in all, what people seem to like about ‘The Inbetweeners’ is its vulgar humour as well as its accurate portrayal of teenage life, the sheer embarrassment of puberty and the utter desperation felt at times.
It was with high hopes that I visited the cinema and with a cloud of disappointment hanging over my head that I left 90 minutes later.
The film starts off promisingly with Will discovering that his father (Anthony Head) didn’t invite him to his second wedding to a girl that is only six years older than Will because he’s “awkward with people”. Simon is snogging girlfriend Carly until she tells him she wants to break up. Meanwhile Jay is busy trying out online porn when he gets some bad news.
The boys decide on their last day of school that what they need is a lad’s holiday and so book up to go to Malia. From there, the usual chaos ensues but throughout the film there were very few laugh-out-loud moments. Sure, there was gross-out humour and bad language but the characters were two-dimensional and the storyline was weak, with the ending being just like a bad rom-com. Fair enough, the first 30 minutes were promising but it declined from there.
DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.
After meeting four girls in a nightclub, they meet up with them at their hotel and seemingly every night on the strip. This seems fairly likely in a place like Malia but I think the cast could have been beefed up a bit more, with a few more bit-parts thrown in. Simon spends the whole time mooning over Carly despite being with a girl who is quite clearly interested in him. The boys’ attempts with the girls are quite pathetic but not in a funny way.
Will doesn’t even attempt anything cultural which I found quite unbelievable. Although he’s as desperate as the rest of the group, he still tries to maintain an air of intellect. This is, after all, the child whose own father would not invite to his wedding because he’s so square. It would have been funnier if Will had made the guys go on a bus trip and Mr Gilbert happened to be on the trip.
There were no jokes about Will’s mum or Neil’s dad which is a staple of the show and knowing lads on holidays, those jokes would continue. The small scene featuring Jay’s dad isn’t funny, it’s just depressing – he’s obviously a bully. The scenes with the parents would have been better if it came out that the parents had been watching them throughout the holiday a la BBC3′s ‘Sun, Sea and Suspicious Parents’.
Charlotte doesn’t feature at all although I thought it would have been interesting to see her as a cage dancer or PR girl in the resort.
I thought it would actually have been more funny if Jay’s usually untrue stories of how many girls he’s been with actually turned out to be true on this holiday but the lads refused to believe him.
The storyline didn’t explain why Simon didn’t have to go to live in Swansea, nor did it tell us how he and Carly got together. I would have liked a bit more info!
The ending, where each of the lads ends up with his female equivalent was so unrealistic. The woman playing Will’s “love interest” was way out of his league, not to mention several years older than him.
I felt this script was quite obviously rushed and therefore completely let everyone involved down. It was an easy way to spend 90 minutes but within an hour of leaving the cinema I’d had so many ideas about how it could have been made better, I was wondering how hard it could be.
I’ve woken up this morning to torrential rain and the prospect of a miserable weekend, meteorologically speaking. Let’s face it, even if we went out and about through the day, Saturday night TV is appalling now. So I’ve come up with a list of films to keep you entertained. Not all of these will appeal to everyone but hopefully you’ll find something to keep you busy during these miserable days.
- The Dark Knight: even without all of the hype surrounding Heath Ledger’s death, this film remains an amazing spectacle. Although I’m a total Batman nut, I reckon even non-fans would enjoy this cracking story. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/r32Au9
- My Name is Khan: a little-known Bollywood film about a wonderful man with autism who finds love but goes on a quest to prove his religion’s innocence after 9/11. So moving, one of the best film I’ve ever seen. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/oaBRcx
- Away We Go: a cracking indie comedy-drama about a couple trying to decide where to raise their unborn baby. A stellar cast and an unusual story. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nKtya3
- Kill Bill Vol. 1: the first Tarantino film I ever watched and what a film! It’s got a great soundtrack, in true Tarantino style and it’s really intelligent. It is full of violence and gore as well as profanities, stay away if you don’t like that stuff! The 2nd one is worth a watch to finish the story but I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/r84qhV
- Hairspray (2007): a great feel-good film with songs that will make you want to sing and dance along. It has got a very serious message at the heart of it too, it’s not all fluff. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qqnYeX
- A Lot Like Love: a chick flick but a little bit different from the usual narrative. Starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet about a couple whose relationship develops over the course of seven years. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/rqrruV
- Crash (2004): Oscar-winning drama about racial and social tensions in LA. The ensemble cast and their interlinking stories paint a realistic, but quite scary, picture. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qCHeUO
- Gremlins: one of my childhood favourites although I’m not quite sure why I was allowed to watch this during my formative years. A classic set at Christmas-time, featuring lots of black humour. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/mYs4U6
- One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: Based on the Ken Kesey novel about sane people in insane places and how certain behaviour in certain settings can be misinterpreted. It also is a study on mental illness and friendship. Winner of 5 Academy Awards. The book is also a really great read. Order your copy of the DVD here: http://amzn.to/o1xkN2
- In The Loop: based on the wonderful ‘The Thick of It’ by Armando Iannucci, this film follows behind-the-scenes advisers who are working to prevent or promote a war in the Middle East. A great cast and a hilarious script. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nrrmEj
- V For Vendetta: a Wachowski brothers thriller based on the Alan Moore and David Lloyd comic/graphic novel. Rather 1984-esque where the totalitarian government in London rule with an iron fist but revolution is coming. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nhSffw
- The History Boys: featuring the original stage cast – including Dominic Cooper and Jame Corden - about eight grammar school boys in Sheffield in 1983 hoping to get into Oxbridge. Funny and touching. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/p5wULQ
- The Hours: one to watch if you’re feeling depressed, or perhaps not. Based on the Michael Cunningham novel, it follows three women at various stages in time linked by Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’. An intricate study of mental illness. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/ocZq0X
- The Shining: a writer (Jack Nicholson) accepts a job as off-season caretaker of an isolated hotel. Soon after he moves his wife and son into the hotel, they’re cut off by a snow storm and very strange things start happening. A must-see, with the lights on. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/owEJb5
- Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory: another childhood favourite of mine. Gene Hackman embodies Willy Wonka as he invites golden ticket holders into his factory. It’s a sad, funny and ultimately uplifting story. The 2005 remake is not a patch on this. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/q66wNK
- Four Lions: a really original British comedy about a group of British Jihadists who decide to blow up the London marathon. This satire is directed by Brass Eye’s Chris Morris and stars the wonderful Kayvan Novak (Phone/Facejacker). It may not be for everyone due to its subject but if you take it in the way it is intended, it really is very silly and therefore very funny. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/pw1gVL
- Bobby: a fictionalised account of the hours before the assassination of Robert Kennedy at The Ambassador Hotel in LA. The film centres on a stellar ensemble cast going about their business in the hotel but is intercut with actual footage of Senator Kennedy. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qyupsN
- Donnie Darko: a mind-bending thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled teenager who looks for an answer to the troubling visions he’s been having. Do not bother with the sequel. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qUuzfX
- East is East: a cracking film about a mixed ethnicity family living in Lancashire in 1971. The father wants his children to behave according to traditional Pakistani rules but they’re increasingly rebellious. It’s not only funny but sad. Such an honest portrayal. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/ppi7ep
- Forrest Gump: one of my all-time favourite films. Funny, moving, intelligently done. Incorporating Forrest into a series of real events was a touch of genius. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/p8Rldr
- The Silence of the Lambs: based on the novel by Thomas Harris, the film focuses on Clarice Starling, a young FBI agent, who asks for Hannibal Lecter’s help in apprehending Buffalo Bill. Scary and gory, a classic. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nEutsI
- Carrie: another Stephen King adaptation. The story of a social reject who gets her revenge after being humiliated one too many times. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/qc97WU
- Halloween: The first appearance of Michael Myers, one of the creepiest serial killers in cinematic history. Although I have seen every one of the franchise, this remains a classic. Order your copy here: http://amzn.to/nXdOkB
Hope you find something that tickles your fancy…..
When I saw the critics calling this “the female Hangover” I thought it was just a buddy movie for girls. I didn’t realise it was literally going to be like ‘The Hangover’ with plenty of swearing, arguing and toilet humour. I should have known when I saw Judd Apatow’s name on the poster.
‘Bridesmaids’ focuses on Annie, a thirty-something singleton who is at a low point in her life since losing her dream bakery, her boyfriend and all of her savings. Annie shares an apartment with Matt Lucas and his crazy sister, resisting her mum’s advice to move home. Only her friendship with Lillian (played by Maya Rudolph) keeps her going. When Lillian gets engaged she asks Annie to be her maid of honour. Lilian also has her sister-in-law-to-be (the best character in the film), two other friends and her fiance’s boss’s wife - Rose Byrne plays Helen - as bridesmaids.
What follows is a silly but funny, and scarily accurate portrayal of female relationships. Helen and Annie are clearly jealous of each other’s friendship with Lillian but have to spend a lot of time together in the run-up to the wedding. Helen is rich and vain with connections Annie could only dream of. Helen gets the girls into a bridal shop without an appointment, books tickets for a hen do to Las Vegas and overrules Annie at every turn.
Throughout this, Annie is still trying to put her life together, doing a crappy job, seeing a bloke who doesn’t respect her, flirting with a guy who is so much nicer (The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd) and being evicted but Lillian isn’t around to talk to.
These set-ups provide some genuinely funny and sad moments. I personally enjoyed the jokes that involved less vulgarity but that’s personal choice. I was surrounded in the cinema by women crying with laughter. What I liked about ‘Bridesmaids’ was that it was so realistic in its portrayal of women and their relationships with each other. We’ve all known a Helen and have often felt like Annie. We do have bodily functions, swear and have sex. It’s silly and sentimental – so are we.
This film will not only apply to women but also men, no mean feat.