Brand new spanking blog is up and running in place of this old thing, so please visit, follow, comment and ENJOY!
Here’s the address: http://girlonfilm2011.blogspot.com
I write this still shuddering with tremors of anxiety following last night’s screening of 127 Hours. In all honesty, although I’m a huge fan of Danny Boyle, I had my reservations about the story of a climber stuck (quite literally) between a rock and a hard place. I had anticipated tedium, desperation and gore. Foolish Carlin, it’s SO much more than that.
Boyle delivers the story of overly-ambitious outdoorsman Aron Ralston with the trademark style, pace and originality seen in Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later. Using the same team from Slumdog clearly pays off; everything from the music to the split-screen action engages the audience from start to finish.
For those entering the cinema knowing the plot, the over-whelming sense of dread of what’s to come is constant, but is frequently reduced to more of a dull pang during scenes of humour and poignant flashback. Any film that keeps the audience urging on the protagonist even on the cusp of inevitable horror is, quite frankly, ruddy impressive.
James Franco gives an outstanding performance in what is fundamentally a one-man show; conveying a spectrum of emotions convincingly, with just the right amount of humour and charm to keep the audience captivated and rooting for him.
It’s impossible not to mention “the scene” – the one in which Ralston is forced to tear off his own arm with a blunt knife, in a state of dehydration and delirium following five days trapped in the canyon. I think it’s safe to say not one person in the full cinema sat comfortably through this scene. There were gasps, squeals and jackets at eye-level for the entirety. Upon exiting the cinema, everyone looked suitably exhausted.
Those of a nervous temperament/ with high blood pressure should perhaps give this one a miss – anxiety junkies will be in their element!
If there are 3 things I hate it’s people who are intolerant of other people’s cultures, the Dutch and being ill.
Having spent the last week feeling terrible (cheers swine flu jab, I look forward to seeing you again same time same place next year, ya bas) I’ve spent the majority of my time watching a smorgasbord of films. Not all bad then.
An ecclectic array of genres, my selection process basically consisted of watching whatever was in arms reach. So if you’re looking for any method to my madness – stop it.You won’t find one.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy a run down of my daily prescribed viewing.
Day One – The First Dull Pangs of Nausea Strike: La Vita e Bella
Roberto Benigni‘s unforgettable tale of a courage, love and selflessness is masterfully emotive. Simultaneously unsettling and uplifting, the story of a protective father who sacrifices all to protect his son from the horrific realities of a Jewish concentration camp following the German occupation of Italy is enough to turn anyones frown upside down. The audience can easily forgive the outlandish and implausible elements of this story (fairytale pauper winning princess, duping the Nazi system time and time again) in favour of the overwhelming sense of human spirit and optimism. Flu is crap but life is most definitely beautiful.
Day Two – Headaches, fever and longing: A Very Long Engagement
Nothing better on a miserable afternoon of wallowing than a good weepie, a classy French one of course. Audrey Tautou convincingly conveys the relentless turmoil of a young woman deseperately trying to locate her fiance who disappeared somewhere in the trenches of the Somme during World War One. Mathilde (Tautou) is no helpless, weeping damsel as she strives and conives her way through the murky depths of deceit and confusion to find her love. Jean-Pierre Jeunet stays true to stylish form artfully depicting love, mystery, bittersweet humour and betrayal.
Day Three – No Voice? No need: I Love You Phillip Morris
Slight change of pace here. The reason I say “no need for a voice” is that if you bare in mind throughout this film that the story is entirely NON-FICTION, you’re rendered speechless anyway. This comedy drama depicts the alarmingly far-fetched (yet true) actions of con artist/ prison escapee Steven Jay Russell and his mind-bending determination to be renunited with the love of his life. Jim Carrey pulls this off superbly, with the poignancy and humour he displays in Man On The Moon. Not at all what I expected but I’m reluctant to give anything away, so just watch and have a browser open on wikipedia as you watch…
Day Four – Woozy, snoozy and wishing to be boozy: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Like countless others I wasn’t best impressed with the trailors for Edgar Wright‘s comic book caper about an unlucky-in-love lad who finds himself battling the seven evil exs of his new beau. “Pahh, more comic book swill,” I sighed, mentally filing it under “ones-not-to-watch-unless-on-a-plane”. Well I’ll gladly eat those words, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wright’s original and unique visual wizardry takes the audience on an engaging cinematic journey unlike any other with the sharp, pacy dialogue keeping the smirks and laughter frequent. Michael Cera plays Pilgrim as…well Michael Cera (OK he’s a one trick pony but it’s a pretty good trick) and Kieran Culkin is a surprising treat, as Pilgrim’s razor-witted room-mate. Quirky.
Day Five – Feeling human once again: The Social Network
Well and truly worthy of it’s quadruple Golden Globe win on Sunday night, David Fincher‘s depiction of the rise of a social networking phenomenon exceeds all expectations. From the top-notch casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to the fast-paced and witty rhetoric between characters, this film ticks every box. Fincher depicts an undoubtedly fascinating story, without sensationalising a thing. Utterly engrossing, I again found myself trawling through wikipedia fact-checking as I watched. Worthy of the hype and accolades, in short – brilliant.
Films NOT To Watch When Ill
- The Exorcist (excess vomatron)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Augustus Gloop = guaranteed boke)
- Titanic (Warning: may cause seasickness – mostly as a result of Winslet’s horrific accent)
WITH the curtain drawn on 2010, it’s time to look forward to the cinematic offerings in store for 2011. From comic books to cartoon classics; they’re all getting the Hollywood treatment and being brought to the silver screen. But is this exciting or just plain lazy?
2010: a year that brought us A Prophet, Inception, The Social Network and Four Lions, in short – a year of original, ground-breaking cinema. So with the onslaught of adaptations and sequels 2011 has in store, the risk of audience disenchantment is high.
Billy Bob Thornton sent ripples of malaise through Hollywood last month when he told The Telegraph that, in his opinion, we are in the ‘worst era for Hollywood’ and that most motion pictures of late are solely ‘geared towards a video game generation’. Are these just the grumblings of a middle aged man bemused by the next generation or does he have a point?
Well, with the countless comic book capers and innumerable cartoon classics being brought to the silver screen this year, he’s certainly caught on to something…
Graphic fiction novels: an infinite treasure trove of blockbuster fodder, providing generation after generation of fanatics with excitement and escapism. Superman, Spiderman and The X Men are now regarded as film stars as much as they are comic book characters, and this trend looks set to continue.
2011 offers up more than a handful of comic book adaptations. The Green Lantern (June 17) and The Green Hornet (January 14) are among the many releases of this year, with the most hotly anticipated of the all expected set to be the summer smash – Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22). This certainly is one genre that need never fear a drought.
Similarly, cartoon classics such as Yogi Bear (January 2) and Winnie the Pooh (July 16) are being reinvigorated and introduced to a new generation of young movie-goers; evoking excited gasps from tots and woeful sighs from parents the world over.
Even popular 70s toy Stretch Armstrong has been given cinematic rights, with believe it or not (rather the latter) a feature film rumoured to come out in April. Almost ridiculous enough to work?
Word on the street is that ambitions are now set to film it in 3-D with Twighlight’s Taylor Lautner in the starring role (I couldn’t make this stuff up) therefore pushing back the release date until 2012.
Out of sheer curiosity (and childishness) I really hope this is not just an online rumour, I smell Oscar nominations…
Fans of these light and fluffy family capers should head for the cinema, armed with optimism and enough sugary E numbered snacks to slip into a diabetic coma.
Everyone else, I recommend the following:
Black Swan (Jan 21st)
The King’s Speech (Jan 7th)
127 Hours (Jan 7th)
You can only imagine my horror last Christmas upon unwrapping the ‘WILDCARD’ gift from my mum and finding True Blood. Trying desperately to stifly my disdain, I mustered a forced smile and said, “Cheers Irene, vampire porn? You know me so well.”
But alas, this did not deter the bold Renee! This year, as I cautiously unravelled what was blatantly a boxset, internally fighting the pangs of last years disappointment in attempts to convey a more appreciative demeanour, I was taken a-back by her choice. Two words: MAD MEN.
I’d been intrigued by the series for some time now, but like many, unless given the boxset in some entirety (ie. the first three seasons in one slick package) I just never found the time. That is until now. I’m currently in the throes of what can only be described as addiction.
The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning drama set in the 1960s New York advertising industry is witty, fast-paced and enthralling. Everything from the sexist, ego-driven businessmen and tragic Stepford-esque housewives to the decadent fashion invites me in.
Having inexplicably managed to watch the first 2 seasons in little over a week (during the festive party season no less) I look forward to stifling the unavoidable January blues with more of the same, whilst scanning the Sunday Times Style suppliment for advice on how to become a Joan or a Betty and starting my ‘Don Draper for president’ campaign.
5 Reasons to become a MADdict
- The wit – Hilariously dry, mocking and satirical of an era shrowded in pathos and sexism it’s hard to form a solid opinion on anyone as they all wrestle against changing ideologies in a drastically changing time. Ohhhh the inner turmoil. Love it.
- The tragedy - Adultery, alcoholism, racism, homophobia, sexism…the list is endless. Cannot.get.enough.
- The fashion – Winning gongs and acclaim in its own right, the fashion of Mad Men has become an empire unto itself. From vintage to bohemian, this era is brought colourfully and vividly to life through costume and it continues to inspire legions of fashionistas. Long live the Bettys!
- Don Draper – The man, the myth, the enigma. Jon Hamm depicts the shows protagonist with such suave charisma that the audience are forced to forgive his short-comings (infidelity, heavy drinking etc) in favour of his charm and mystique. The mystery of Draper is alluded to early on in season 1 when a colleague remarks, “Draper? Who knows anything about that guy? He could be Batman for all we know.” And you know what, he absolutely could.
- Joan Holloway - Christina Hendricks is the real-life Jessica Rabbit, a fiery femme-fatale that contradicts and complies to the stereotypes of her day. Fabulously fierce.
Oscar Wilde once said: ‘The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world’.
Mmmm disputable in everyday life but when it comes to bagging an Oscar, a few skelps from the ugly stick seems to be a sure-fire method for Oscar success.
Now I’m not simply referring to less attractive actresses in general (jog on Tilda Swinton) but there is a trend of beautiful actresses that have ugg-ed up and grossed out for roles. Roles which go on to win them a much coveted golden statuette and the respect of peers who thought them too “pretty” to carry a film.
Here are a few ladies that show they ain’t afraid to do fugly for fame and artistic acclaim:
Charlize Theron‘s performance in Patty Jenkins’ Monster turned heads for more reasons than one. This harrowing true-story of Daytona Beach prostitute turned serial-killer, Aileen Wuornos, horrified and engaged audiences. From a cruel and abusive childhood to prostitution and murder, the title really says it all, evoking various reactions ranging from sympathy to disgust. Undoubtedly, an excellent performance by Theron, the mannerisms and characteristics of Wuornos displayed, suggests a great deal of preparation and committment on Theron’s part, and with the wonders of make-up her likeness is hauntingly uncanny. BEST ACTRESS AWARD 2004
Now, I’ve banged on about this next one before but Marion Cotillard‘s performance as Edith Piaf in biographical masterpiece, La Vie En Rose, was well worthy of an Academy Award. Not just for the powerful and moving portrayal of the legendary French songstress, but for Cotillard’s ability to convincingly convey a spritely, mischievous young street singer through her tragic battle with alcoholism and loss, to the haggered, wizend shell of a person she is at the end of her life. Undoubtedly, a great deal of this is due to make-up wizardry and study of the singer herself, but Cotillard throws herself into the role entirely, until unrecognisable.
BEST ACTRESS AWARD 2008
Hilary Swank has never been one to use her beauty or femininity to land a decent role: Insomnia? SNORE! P.S. I Love You? P.S. I Hate You Swank for ever making this intolerable pile of festering human excrement.
However, change gender, beef up and take a few hits to that Hollywood-perfect mug and now we’re talking serious Oscar winning stuff.
Swank’s portrayal of hardened female boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby, demonstrates both her abilities as an actress and her dedication to realism in this physically demanding role. Gaining over 20 pounds of muscle, contracting a bacterial infection on her feet from hours of relentless training and being made up with a face bloodied and bashed enough to land her a role in Fight Club, Swank proves her worth and scoops up the Best Actress gong.
This was of course Swank’s second Best Actress win. Her first came following her role as transgender teen, Brandon Teena, in Kimberley Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry.
Swank powerfully conveys the tragedy and desperation of the new boy in town, who is actually a girl struggling to accept the reality of his/her sexual identity; struggling to establish an identity in general.
The most impressive things Swank achieves in this film is the ability to shift from feminine to masculine in the blink of an eye, again utterly committing to the role, earning the film it’s 42 industry awards and further 27 nominations.
BEST ACTRESS AWARD 2000 & 2008
Other examples of “From Hot-to-Trot to Not-but-Got-an-Oscar-or-nomination”
- Nicole Kidman – The Hours (2002) win
- Salma Hayek – Frida (2002) nom
- Felicity Huffman – Transamerica (2005) nom
So the real question is – does an actress need to tone her beauty to achieve an Oscar? The trend of late would suggest so, the question is why…
I’ll allow you to have a swatch of the past winners and let you mull that one over:
So here’s a cheeky wee hybrid of a blog.
Now I know this defies the rules of a film blog (in that it’s not a film that I am discussing – Quelle horreur!) HOWEVER the key element of the show I will be discussing in brief-bloggy-style is the frequent and impressive impressions Coogan and Brydon do from various films…see what I did there?
How gallus I am!
I remain conflicted about the six-part series; some episodes had me in stitches, some had me reaching for the razor blades. Therefore I can’t confirm the category I’d file The Trip under (FAIL or SCORE) but one thing I can say is that the impressions they hit out with at the dinner table are phenomenal.
You know, the kind you find yourself trying to do because they make it look so easy (we’ve all attempted the Michael Caine “only supposed to blow the bloody DOORS OFF!” and anyone that denies it better get dialing 999, coz their pants are on FIRE!)
I found myself completely forgiving the latter parts of the episodes for being so sodden with pathos that I wanted to just turn over or end it (my life i mean), purely because I was still experiencing the after-tremours of a really good LOL!
So my advice to anyone that wants a right gid laugh, watch the repeats on BBC Iplayer, or youtube,and stop each episode about 20 mins in, that way its all hilarious-killer, no depressing-filler!
Or better still watch the clips i’ve put below, don’t say i’m not good to you.
In no particular order, please find below a list of the best impressions that tickled me:
1. Michael Caine - episode 1 saw Coogan and Brydon doing a “Caine-Off”. Brilliance. HERE IT IS!
2. Various James Bonds – Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, villains. “Come, come Mr Bond.” HERE IT IS!
3. Ray Winstone - “drink it”. ROFL. HERE IT IS!
4. Woody Allen – “my mother and law wants to dance on my grave, i’ll get buried at sea” HERE IT IS!
5. Richard Gere – *distant look* *laugh* Respond. HERE IT IS!
6. Random costume drama soldier – “Gentlemen to bed!” HERE IT IS!
- What’s your favourite colour…
Ohhhhhhhhhhh the weather outside may be frightful but festive films are SO delightful!!!
Now that we are officially in the “acceptable” bracket for watching Christmas films (also known as December) I feel inclined to address the topic of warm and fuzzy festive viewing.
As the snow continues to blanket our lives and emotions at this time of year [I am in a glass case of emotion!!!] there ain’t nowt better for lifting the spirits than a good old Christmas film. No cold turkeys here, read on for the creme de la creme of christmassy goodness. Mmmmmmmmmm cosy!
“I’m such a cotton-headed-ninny-muggins” and “SANTA?!?!?!I KNOW HIM!” are just a couple of the many catchphrases to come from Will Ferrell‘s comic festive offering Elf. The plot follows the escapades of Buddy as he leaves the North Pole and ventures to NYC in search of his real father, the surly James Caan. Ludicrous, light and utterly watchable if this film were a festive beverage it’d be a triple shot gingerbread latte with extra syrup and LOLs.
Frank Capra’s 1946 classic is mandatory Christmas viewing in this house or you’re out of the Wallace clan – a rule that I think should be adopted by most families. Granted, you spend roughly 85%of the film wondering why life is so wonderful but by GOD does that other 15% make up for it!
For those who haven’t seen it I recommend the original black and white version as technicolour is just bizarre. With annual screenings on at the GFT throughout December, I highly recommend making a day of it: take in some mulled wine, laugh at the numpties falling on George Square’s ice rink and go snuggle up like they did in the olden days. Vintage.
“Right lads, we’ve got a wee boy that makes a cross-dressing snowman, who’s partial to a spot of breaking and entering, and abucts the boy taking him to a raucous party with his much older, multi-cultural snowman mates indulging in drinking and dancing and then disappears in the morning leaving the child feeling confused, slightly used and a bit mental.
Oh, and we’ll get Bowie to present it from his attic.”
I jest of course, this magical 26-minute animation tugs the heart-strings of everyone that remembers the sheer joy and excitement of the first snowfall of winter, before you had responsibilities; childhood naivety at it’s best.
This tale of a selfish and skeptical tv exec haunted by 3 ghosts of past. present and future is an updated take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
A witty and smirksome re-imagining of a classic, Murray is at his finest as the aptly named Frank Cross. Given the choice between him and Michael Caine in my other favourite adaptation of this timeless tale, The Muppet Christmas Carol, I’d be hard-pushed to come to a final decision.
On one hand you’ve got Murray’s drole humour and dry wit and on the other hand you’ve got Caine and MUPPETS!!!!
So instead, here’s a snippet from both, and I’ll let you decide:
Other Recommended Festive Stocking Fillers:
- Home Alone 1 & 2 (1990/1992)
- White Christmas (1954)
- Bad Santa (2003)
- Jingle All The Way (1996)
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947 – not the one with Wilma Rubble and irritating-child-with-lisp)
French film has always had a certain “je ne sais quoi”.
An unashamed cliche but i don’t even care – it’s true! The people, the places, the humour, the emotion – everything about it invites me in.
My love affair with french film began in my higher french classroom (not that i’m bragging) the day Madame Granger introduced us to Jean Pierre-Jeunet’s masterpiece Amelie. Something about Audrey Tautou’s wide-eyed optimistic, passionate and quirky view on existence instantly grabbed me and has never let go.
I also owe Madame Granger a wealth of gratitude for introducing me to another outstanding French film: Au Revoir Les Enfants.
Writer/director Louis Malle‘s account of childhood friendship in a Roman Catholic boarding school in Nazi occupied France is moving and unforgettable.
The understated and believable friendship conveyed by the young actors on screen is convincing and emotive, no more so than when you realise the events that unravelling are not fictional; this is a haunting true story.
Well worthy of the Golden Lion it picked up at the 1987 Venice Film Festival, along with the 2 Academy Awards nominations, I can’t recommend this highly enough.
Marion Cotillard blew everyone away with her depiction of Édith Piaf in 2007 biopic La Vie En Rose. Her portrayal of the talented and tragic “little sparrow” not only established Cotillard as ‘one to watch’ but also brought arguably the biggest French singer of all time to the world’s stage.
The climax of the film is undoubtedly the Piaf’s pained but powerful rendition of ,”Non, je ne regrette rien.” Heart-wrenching, engaging and exquisitely performed – you will not regret watching this.
The Beat That My Heart Skipped follows Thomas Seyr as he struggles against his pre-destined future in corrupt business to fulfill his dream of becoming a concert pianist and better human being.
On paper, this concept sounds alright, but Romain Duris‘ performance excelerates this film into the realms of excellence. Offfft quite the sweeping statement eh? But all true. He masters the art of simultaneously conveying turmoil, aggression, sensitivity and humour like few other actors I can think of.
Achieving all of this whilst convincingly playing the piano – nuff said.
Other Outstanding French Films (English titles):
- Leon (1994 – Luc Besson)
- A Prophet (2009 – Jacques Audiard )
- I’ve Loved You So Long (2008 – Philippe Claudel)
- In Paris (2006 – Christoph Honore)
- Paris (2008 – Cedric Klapisch)
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…” They just don’t write ‘em like that anymore, but apparently they can adapt ‘em into partially animated feature length films.
Rob Epstein and Jeffry Friedman’s potrayal of the 1957 obscenity trial held over Allen Ginsberg‘s celebrated poem, “Howl”, presents the audience with a combination of archive footage, animated illustrations of the poem and some reportedly sterling acting from James Franco.
Not released in the UK until February 2011 this is just one of many literary masterpieces that I am simultaneously anxious and terrified of seeing translated to film.
Trailer for “Howl”
Ok, maybe “terrified” is a tad strong, but if you haven’t already gathered from my slaughtering of Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” I really HATE it when an adaptation goes wrong. You know that feeling of intense disappointment like when you realise a celebrity is actually a total prat in real life and it totally taints everything else they ever do (yeah Christian Bale I’m talkin to you): you just want to ask why, jump through a portal in time back to a better, simpler place where ignorance reigned and everything was rosy. This is how I feel when I see an excellent book poorly adapted to film, so needless to say my anxiety levels are gradually rising with the impending release of various literary classics on the silver screen.
Now, when you entitle something as “arguably the best of a century” the bar has already been set inconceivably high, so it’s little wonder that many (4 in total) have attempted to bring this lavish and tragic tale of wealth and desire to the silver screen in the past. Most notably, Jack Clayton’s 1974 offering wound up being somewhat of a flop, atmospheric as it is. Even the radioactive Robert Redford and Mia Farrow couldn’t bring this back from the brink of mundane.
Seems bizarre that a text so rich in imagery, full of characters absolutely dripping in pathos, in an era of extreme decadence could be anything other than a visual feast.
I refuse to be disheartened though, and I’ll stand resilient in the hope that the upcoming film adaptation of the novel will do it some justice. With Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, SURELY I won’t be let down – famous last words…
Hunter S. Thompson‘s novel “The Rum Diary” follows the soul-searching adventure of journalist Paul Kemp, writing, drinking and fighting his way around the Carribean. Brilliant. So when I heard this was being made into a film starring Johnny Depp (of course) I was delighted. That was about 3 years ago, so the fact they’re finally in the post-production stages feels like like a long overdue treat. My only concern is that the hype has been building (in my head anyway) for so long now that it won’t live up to expectations, but with Depp’s dedication to Thompson’s work and if “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is anything to go by, I shouldn’t be let down. Roll on 2011…
I must admit I don’t have my hopes set high for this one, as I simply don’t know how the spontaneous narrative structure of the novel will translate to film. I don’t know if I want it to in fact. I am referring to the screen version of Jack Kerouac‘s defining novel “On The Road”. The largely biographical journey of Sal Paradise is now considered a crucial text of the Beat Generation, influencing generations of road-trippers on spiritual booze-fuelled journeys for years to come.
With Walter Salles (of “The Motorcycle Diaries” fame) at the directorial helm, Francis Ford Coppolla controlling production and a young and promising cast including Brit talent Sam Riley as Sal Paradise: in theory it should work.
I remain unconvinced.
Bob Dylan once said of the novel: “It changed my life like it changed everyone else’s.” Wonder what he’ll make of the film…
(On The Road is due for release in 2011)
Novels that translated well to film:
- LA Confidential by James Ellroy
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
- The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Lost in Translation:
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (awright Peter you like CGI, we get it! not always appropriate though eh?)
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (time and time again they’ve been more horrific than any monster)
- The Human Stain by Philip Roth (Anthony Hopkins as a black American…nuff said)