Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Lincoln. Also known as the man with the nice hat.

Slavery. It’s a topical one at the moment isn’t it? It seems like every actor, director and writer worth his salt is all of sudden is interested in depicting Western civilization's brutal massacre of nearly an entire continent.I wonder why that could be? It’s taboo,  controversial and entertaining. Hmm isn’t there a very prestigious award ceremony close to about now that hand out small gold men for such daring films? In the running for said prestigious award (also known as the Oscar’s) is Lincoln.Our story starts with the dear old Yanks doing what they do best. Fighting. The drawling Slave- driving southerners are battling the liberalist (ish) North over slavery. At the helm of the liberalist North and wearing  a very dapper hat, stands Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis), President and commander in chief! Being the fine fellow that he is, Lincoln wants to push through the thirteenth amendment, which basically means that it’s not a-ok to keep slaves any more. Opposing him are a lot of racist morons who basically think that black people aren’t equal to white people. Lincoln plots, duck, dive and swindles his way to a more fair and equal world whilst telling some pretty funny but also sort of pointless stories in his pyjamas.

Daniel Day’s Lewis’ portrayal of one of America’s tallest president’s is spot on. You can see the old method acting coming out in him: the stance, the mannerisms and an accent that strangely sounds like Owen Wilson. He’s also grown a lovely white beard too! One of the more dubious elements of the film however is that Lincoln seems a little too nice. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure he was a stand up guy but he’s portrayed as God incarnate who can do no wrong. The film also moves at the pace of a blind sloth that’s just broken it’s leg and seeing as you already know the ending of the film (slaves freed, Lincoln dead) there is no sense of anti-climax or suspense. All in all Lincoln is like a very entertaining and biased history lesson. Confusing at times due to it’s political jargon which may make you feel a little stupid but generally an all round winner. Now, I wonder where I could get my hands on one of those interesting hats

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Viva la Revolutione! Les Miserables

So there's some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that I stupidly thought that Les Miserables was set one of the France's zestier time periods. The French Revolution, where man turned on man,  Marie Anoittone threw cake from the balconies of Versaille before having all her pretty things taken away and then had her sweet little head all loped orf. As it turns out Les Mis is actually set 28 years after all the fun and excitement happened. Boo you Victor Hugo! (he's the guy who actually wrote the book) Boo you! The good news is that lots of other exciting things are happen to cheer us (mainly me) up.

 The story's a bit of a messy one as it stretches over a  twenty year period but I shall do my best. Our hero, Jean Valjean (the ever lovely and delectable Hugh Jackman) is doing time under the very beady eye of France's most self-righteous officer Javier! ( the grumpus Russell Crowe.) Jean is freed, gains a new identity thanks to a kindly old priest (religion you can't beat it) and  starts a new life. He somehow becomes mayor of a quaint little town  (two fingered round of appaulse) and is genuinely lovely, wonderful and very attractive.  However trouble is afoot in the form of Javier! The obsessive bastard has made it his life's mission to find and capture Jean and send him back to where he belongs. A metaphorical spanner is placed in the works in the form of Fantine (skinny bald Hathaway) factory girl turned prostitute who unfortunately dies whilst singing a lovely song about the world being a happier place leaving behind her daughter Cosette which I though was a piece of clothing but never mind. Anyway, following Fantines dying wish Jean snatches Cosette away from the clutches of the mischievous Monsieur and Madame Thenarider  (Boham Carter and  the amusing Baron Cohen)  with Javier! hot on their french leather made heels. 9 years elapse and we are caught in the midst on another revolution. Huzzah! Well, not really it's just a bunch of  french hippy  rich boys with nothing better to do. At the helm of this not so very great revolution stands Marius (pretty boy  Eddie Redmayne) and his feisty counterpart Enjolras (Aaron Tveit akaTripp from Gossip Girl) .The pair whip themselves a following declaring blood and revolution on France and so on and so forth. Marius catches sight of grown up Corsette, they instantly fall in love and become besotted. However revolution calls and Marius fights along side his 'brothers' wasting a lot of good furniture by  throwing it into the street and shouting a lot. Jean rescues Marius from the showdown, trampling through the french sewers whilst meeting Javier! at the end. Javier then decides to let it go and then kills himself but not before tap dancing on some of France's finest bridges. Marius and Cosette get married and Jean buggers off to a convent looking all sad and depressed, dies and then ascends to heaven with the aide of Fantine. Now I've never been to heaven myself but in my view it wouldn't be a lot of French  people on a ship waving French flags and singing things about France.

 Told you it was a bloody long story line.The film is spectacular and epic. And there's singing. Lots and lots of singing. In fact you should only really go and see this film if really really like singing. A lot. Whilst there's nothing wrong with a bunch of Hollywood actors warbling their heads off (for their all really good at it. ) The score itself isn't all that, the songs are all far too similar with everybody wallowing in self pity. It's also one of those film that won't just finish and die. Right all the revolutionaries are dead, Film over? No. Right. Javier has decided to top himself through the medium of dance. Film over? No  Corsette and Marius get married. Over?  No. Jean Va Jean dies. Wooohoo we have reached completion. At long bloody last.  Les Mis is entertaining, a bit sad with all the poverty and death and what not and full of ballads so depressing you wonder why your alive. A 7/10 with an extra point added as  I enjoyed Russell Crowe's tap dancing. Who knew he had it in him.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Top films of 2012 (better late than never)

 A little late in the new year to be doing this, but I like to think of this as being fashionably late. 5 most notable films of 2012 . Also I like countdown lists with numbers. 

1.     Moonrise Kingdom.

The poster for Moonrise Kingdom is misleading. From an outsiders point of view it looks like one of those kooky try-hard films where everybody and everything is weird for no apparent reason. Don’t get me wrong Moon rise Kingdom is all these things but for the right reasons. The rather complicated plot consists of a misunderstood boy scout named Sam (Jared Gilman) and his misunderstood Missus Lana del Ray Junior aka Suzy.  With Sam fed up with being the loser in the scouts and Suzy fed up with being ever bored with her middle class family the pair decide to elope together. However being 12 years old it doesn't quite work out the way that they planned and everyone from  the sweet old policeman (Bruce Willis) from stick up their arse social services (Tilda Swinton) sets about trying to look for them.  Everything from the costume to the murderous boy scouts to the slightly perverted relationship between Suzy and Sam  is weird,kooky and off the wall but at the same time loveable. By the time the film had ended I wanted to take Sam home, put him in a little cubbyhole and look at him whenever I feel sad. Moon Rise Kingdom is (in my very important opinion) the best film of   2012. It makes me feel glad inside that my mother forced me to go instead of the one my sister suggested ‘ that one where Kirsten Stewart runs around with all the little men’, which was bollocks. A topnotch film with a topnotch soundtrack and little people cute enough to eat (which is saying something as I hate small children).

2.     Batman- The Dark Night Rises 

He came back, he was still black (well his costume was) and angrier than ever before. In the Dark Knight Rises Christian Bale took up the mantle of Batman one last  time. After The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan was faced with a bit a challenge as let’s face it, Heath Ledger  was leg-end as the Joker. However he nearly managed to pull it off. Even though Batman acts like a spoilt child for half the film given his wealth and fortune, he’s still got it;  the brawn, the gadgets and a wonderful purpose to smash a lot of stuff up. Like any great superhero he must overcome his foibles, and in this installment Batman is thrown into ‘hell’ by Bain (evil bad guy with mask) and must escape to save his beloved Gotham. It was my personal view that ‘hell’ didn’t actually seem that bad. Everyone was actually really nice to him and helped him escape. Although the storyline does resemble that of a bad Tom Cruise movie ‘Oh My God There’s A Bomb’. The end twists and turns like a corkscrew on a rollercoaster.  The Dark Knight Rises is visually impressive and ties the trilogy together nicely like present with a bow on top .And Christian Bale is rather attractive. Completely forgot to mention that part.

Bit limited on the colour scheme there but there you go... 

3. Anna Karenina

 If you are of a shallow and aesthetically pleasing nature (such as myself) then Anna Karenina  was of the best films of 2012. Although Keira Knightley pouts and cries very well as the Russian Duchess, Aaron Johnson makes all the young ladies think ‘How delicious’, and Jude Law waltzes around stage feeling misunderstood with a receding hair line, it is the Jacqueline Durran, costume designer who is the real star of the show. The story line’s not too shabby either (Yes well done Tolstoy). It’s your classic, married rich woman (Knightley) falls for young attractive man (Johnson), she leaves her husband (Law) and they decided to bugger off together and live in shame.   However one of the more befuddling aspects about Anna is:  if you’ve got a wardrobe like that, what’s with all the crying. You look great and your son is really cute. I mean I know being humiliated in public for the sake of an affair isn’t all that fun but at least you look bloody brilliant doing it!  Like all great stories it end in a tragedy with Anna being hit by a train whilst looking very beautiful at the same time .Saying that I would of consider hitting her with that train just so I could steal her clothes. I am of course joking… well sort of.


4. The Hunger Games

 No, it’s not a film about a pie eating competition, although I probably don’t need to tell you that as Hunger Games is set to be as big as that Twilight nonsense. Set  in dystopia America where food is short, children are slaughtered and the rich and poor divide makes David Cameron and some rude boy from Peckham seem like brothers. In this seemingly unpleasant world one boy and one girl are  selected from each of the 12 poor districts as tributes and  must fight till the death in an arena until only one tribute remains alive for the pleasure of mean old President Snow and his fashionable bastard Capitol. In the midst of this xenophobic madness stands our beautiful  heroine and selected tribute Katinss (Jennifer Lawrence). Katniss is a refreshing bitch of a heroine, for in a world of Bella’s and Fifty Shades of Grey bimbo’s it’s nice to  see a young woman actually taking care of herself and beating the shit out of others to survive instead of getting a man to do it for her.  Katniss struggles through the arena, in this case a lovely old wood, saving her star-crossed lover Peta, also from district 12 from their murderous cohort. They are both made champions whilst giving President Snow the  proverbial finger in the process. Laced with sentimentality and emotional pitfalls that include Katiniss shrouding a murdered 12 year old in flowers, Hunger Games gives an ironic nod to the voyeuristic and materialistic society we live in today whilst also promoting and funding one of the largest cinema corporations today. Funny old world isn’t it….

5. The Hobbit

This is it. The Big One. The One we’ve all been waiting for. Yeah I know, I stole that from Harry Potter. The plot is pretty simple. Bilbo, a hobbit is summoned upon an adventure with Gandalf and load of short men also known as dwarves and their grumpy bastard of a leader Thorin Oakenshield. Bilbo goes on said adventure and they all get into lots of mischief together which in three installments is going to take nine sodding hours to watch. The CGI isn’t fantastic and the dwarves all rather seem like lads on a boys night out, congratulating each other on how fantastic they are and farting rather a lot.  However the film does have one saving grace. Gollum. He’s terrifying, hilarious and is possibly the only character in the film that makes you feel excited (except for Aiden Turner as Kili but that’s a completely different story). You should also be warned that after watching Gollum you will come out saying ‘ and if it loses Baggins we eats it whole!’  for a week. However this can be quite amusing if said to someone in their sleep. Unfortunately Gollum leaves us to lament the loss of his precious and we’re back with Mr. Sour face Oakenshield who seems to hate everyone and everything except his precious mountain. In conclusion, The Hobbit isn’t bad but it’s not great, it’s not the highly anticipated phenomena that we expected from the director of Lord of the Rings and if I were J.R.R. Tolkien I would make Peter Jackson sit in the corner by himself and think about what he did.

So there you have it. the most notable films of 2012 aka the films I saw and remembered well enough to write a decent review of them. I hope you all enjoyed it. I know Marcel did.... 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Completely Overruled

If you like  Noel Coward , you’ll  like this. Diamonds and elaborate dress at the ready. Prepare to be dazzled by clipped tones, the red lion (a small theatre above a pub) and some of the prettiest girls in north London. In Bernard Shaw’s three short plays Overruled, How he lied to Her Husband and Villagers Wooing  the best of the Britain at the turn of the century is encapsulated. How He lied to her Husband portrays the innocent wiles of the young  love sick puppy (Leo Wyndam) whining over his married sophisticated mistress  (Jasmine Hyde)  whilst irritating her possessive husband (Jim Creighton) who get on like a fog horn and a hangover.    Overruled, consists of Private Lives in a nutshell. Although Shaw is unable to capture the witticisms of Noel Coward, the comedic value of Mr. Lunn (Patrick Warner) and Mr. Juno (Leo Wyndam) and the attractiveness and charm of both young women manage to make for it. Indeed Lucy Hough and Alice St Clair are so unwittingly beautiful that dressed in my finest wet look leggings with a full face of mac make-up as I am I as may as well be a toad sitting at the bottom of a garden pond.  The most charming of the trilogy falls in Villagers a wooing. Lucy Hough as the character of  Z, though annoying her male counterpart (Jim Creighton) A on their cruise ship manages to pull off what could be considered a thoroughly irritating talkative character well. As we follow A and Z to a tiny village shop, Z’s emphatic marriage proposals to A seem to become slightly irritating and desperate. However this too manages to lend itself to the charm of the entire ensemble. Overruled, is a pleasurable and easy to watch . This is saying something when you’ve spent an entire day recovering from a trip to A&E  the previous evening.  The only criticism that can be made is when Z changes costume onstage, which when sitting next to your significant other it’s not so much that you feel like a toad at the bottom of a pond but an ameba at the bottom a pond that has just been trodden on.

Sleeping Beauty. Watching Audience. How perverted.

So it’s that time of year again ‘ Oh we’re off on a family outing to go to the theatre… I wonder what we’re going to see? Right, Sadlers Well’s, so far so good, very well known respectable theatre that one. Now, I wonder what we’re going to see… The ballet? The  ballet? The BALLET?????  You mean where nobody talks for three sodding hours and I have to pretend to be impressed because some lithe little ballerina can put her legs behind her head?’ This is the usual reaction when going to the ballet. Anorexic women and men in too tight tights (actually I don’t normally mind this bit) prancing around the stage pretending to tell a story when really they are just showing off. 

However Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is a complete juxtaposition to what you would normally expect when you attend the ballet. He transforms a well-known fairy tale into a modern and stylish adaptation. Well not in the sense that Aurora has an IPod, the tale is still set in the 19th century. However  not only are  the set and costumes magical but so is the dancing. Matthew Bourne’s dancers are not your usual prissy bunch in tutus, they can actually move, mixing classical ballet with contemporary dance and jazz. Chief fairy  Count Lilac, (despite his rather camp namesake) is truly spectacular; your eyes cannot help follow him when he moves across the stage. He’s masculine and yet effortless and by the end of the performance I have convinced myself that I too could probably be a ballerina (I can’t, I tried, I failed).  The Count Lilac’s rival Caradoc (the evil fairy’s son) also has a sinister charm in his movements. As the fairy tale shifts in the 100 year sleep (also known as the interval) we are transported to the 21st century. Whilst this is made almost frustratingly obvious by the modern day attire of hoodies and jeans, it lends to the style of the piece well. When Caradoc is about to sacrifice Aurora, (God knows why? Because he can?) I almost want him to succeed, as I want to keep on watching him dance. Plus I think it would make a much more interesting storyline . Matthew Bourne has revolutionized Sleeping Beauty.  Whilst Aurora is all very well and pretty and dances like an angel (and still has to depend on a man to save her, tuh) it is the purple fairy and his evil counterpart that really steal the show. I would go as so far to say that I didn’t even mind being surrounded by a bunch of snotty private school girls who looked as though Jack Wills and Topshop had thrown up on them. Bravo, Matthew Bourne , Bravo, if I was wearing a hat, I would take it off to you.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Pi anyone?

The opening shots of Life of Pi consist of the romanticized Indian landscape with exotic music overlapping. It makes you think  - here we go again, another well known, well loved book transformed into a film so that the Hollywood fat cats can line their wallets whilst pretending they have some feeling by throwing a bit of sentimental music and message in with. Plus I have to sit here with these ridiculous glasses on. But, and yes there is a but; though sentimentality and survival are the two main ingredients that the film thrives off, you cannot help bask in the magic of it. Although you're aware that this magic is created by a bunch of techy hotshots from 21st Century Fox you cannot help but marvel at the sheer complexity and absurdity of the story. Young Indian boy survives shipwreck on raft with tiger. When you remove the cynic inside you, you become attached to young pi and his feline friend, Richard Barker (the hotshots did a good job in making him look real if your wondering). In a spectacle of colour, light and animals you almost wish that Life of Pi wasn’t a book. At the end credits you are almost begging for those five words that normally piss you off ‘based on a true story…’ In short the Hollywood fat catshave cast their spell of sentimentality and wonder well and I have fallen for the enchantment hook line and sinker. Life of Pi is a feast for the eyes. It will uplift you, brighten your day and transport you to a world far far away from the Odeon cinema in Beckenham to India and beyond.