Sunday, 1 March 2015

Blind Spot Series - The Player

Firstly, I was surprised at how difficult it was to get this film, ended up buying second hand which was fine, but it wasn't as cheap as I thought a film made in 1992 would be. Secondly, I cannot resist films about films or making films, The Player fits perfectly.

Not an obvious classic but to me it is, as it is one those films talked about, infamous and made by Robert Altman, a great American director. As well as being a 'modern' classic, it also boasts a great typical 90's cast, which made me want to watch it more.

Tim Robbins, is Griffin Mill, studio executive who meets writers, hears their pitches and makes a deal. That's what his job appears to be. He's got it all. Great car, great job, girlfriend who also works at the studio and he knows everyone, even if they hate him. He also has power, but it's slipping. With the arrival of 'hot shot' Larry Levy (Peter Gallagher) set to take his place and the fact he keeps receiving mysterious threatening postcards from a writer he never called back, he's not in the best shape. Things get worse when he murders the writer he thinks is sending him messages. With the pressure of the police and being cornered by two screenwriters with a crazy idea, Griffin is drawn to the deceased writer's artist girlfriend, seen a bright light in all the Hollywood hell.

I really enjoyed Altman's style and they way he set up all the characters involved with the 7 minute opening shot. It not set up the story and the way thing are run at a studio but it also gave sense of what these Hollywood people are like and hints to the ultimate end. Not quite drawing a full circle but letting the audience know, just what it's like in the studios. Altman did actually fight with the studio system for years, working outside of it and finding success. The film is actually based on a book by Michael Tolkin who also wrote the screenplay, which I always find is much better for the film, the original writer still has input.

As captivating and enjoyable at the story was, it was still difficult to feel attached to Griffin, no matter how brilliant Robbins is, the film was full of people who unlikeable. I know they had the dead writer's girlfriend as the only decent person, but I found her incredibly bland and her only quirk was that she was a painter who never finished any of her pieces. The film felt like it was lacking a punch. Griffin isn't in any real danger, the studio has his back if he is found out by the police and as he's rich, he'll get away with it right? My favourite parts of the film were when writers were pitching and all the meetings at the studio. Tom Oakley (Richard E. Grant) and Andy Sivella (Dean Stockwell), had the best few scenes. They are the writers who pitch, spontaneously, Habeas Corpus, a legal drama featuring no major stars and with a depressing ending. As the story is being explained you get sucked in and want to see it (which we do, but not until the end). It features a great cameo and inside joke about stars.

But overall, the film felt like it was missing something. Possibly a better 'third act' or a better confrontation, for example, you never actually get to meet the real writer who was sending those postcards. I'm still an Altman fan though.

Have a read of The Matinee's Blind Spot Series, this month, All That Jazz.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Late to the Oscars

The day after the Oscars was the day I realised I missed it. No matter, I got to see all the 'best bits' posts which suits me fine as I was unable to watch the ceremony anyway due to having work at 6:30am on Monday.

I cheered and shouted when I saw the results but ultimately Patricia Arquette's speech was the highlight, like Cate Blanchett's speech last year, women sticking up for women. Which is what I like to see.

Firstly, I was appalled disgruntled seeing that Michael Keaton had been snubbed for the Best Actor award. Eddie Redmayne won. This doesn't sit right with me. I'm not a fan of the British actor and saying might seem like a betrayal but he's just not that great, whereas Keaton was superb. Keaton played a character, Redmayne immitated Hawking. Sorry.

Saying this, I was proud to see many Brits nominated and Vanity Fair honoured this with an amazing spread in the Hollywood edition. But again, it's a shame that the only British films that get noticed by Hollywood are costume dramas or biopics. There are amazing British dramas out there that are continuously left out, the UK has far more to offer than Downton 'I'm so bored of this' Abbey.

Ending on a high note, I was over the moon to see that Birdman took home the 'top award' for Best Motion Picture'. I've heard a few people say now that 'it was obvious Oscar bait'. I don't think this is true. A few years ago, a film like Birdman, would never have even been considered. It is a triumph not a sighing moment of acceptance that this amazing film won. True brilliance.

Here is the full list of winners and nominations:

Best Picture
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory Of Everything

Best Director
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory Of Everything

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman

Best Actress
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory Of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Supporting Actor
JK Simmons, Whiplash

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

Adapted Screenplay
The Imitation Game
American Sniper
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

Original Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Song Of The Sea
The Tale Of Princess Kaguya

Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Best Cinematography
Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Robert Yeoman
Ida, Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr. Turner, Dick Pope
Unbroken, Roger Deakins

Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Guardians Of The Galaxy
X:Men: Days Of Future Past

Film Editing
American Sniper
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into The Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner
Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory Of Everything

Best Original Song
"Glory", Selma
"Everything Is Awesome", The Lego Movie
"Grateful", Beyond the Lights
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You", Glen Campbell…I'll Be Me
"Lost Stars", Begin Again

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Documentary
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Best Documentary Short
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 
Our Curse
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth

Best Makeup And Hair
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Best Live-Action Short
The Phone Call
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)

Best Sound Editing
American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper

Monday, 23 February 2015

ABC Movie challenge

After reading Katy's brilliant film blog, Girl Meets Cinema and loving the ABC film challenge, I had to take part and create my list.

Anticipating Movie of 2015 -  Jurassic World 
 The Park is open. And Chris Pratt will be there, with dinosaurs. I'm excited.

Book Adaptation I'd Love To See - Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov

I have to admit, the title caught my eye and the blurb made me read this. A struggling writer agrees to take a job at a newspaper writing obituaries for famous and important people. These are only to be printed in the event of these deaths. Soon many people do start mysteriously dying. The writer becomes involved in a conspiracy that isn't fully clear as it always involves his pet penguin. It would make a great film.

Celebrity I'd Most Like To Meet - Tina Fey

She has been my idol since the very first article I read about her back in 2007. I read about 30 Rock being shown in channel 5 (in the UK its a terrible channel) and about the creator being the first female head writer for SNL. That same week I became obsessed with 30 Rock.  

Dream Director/Actor Pairing - Wes Anderson and Steve Buscemi

Not exactly clear choices but I love them both and I think it would interesting to see Buscemi in an Anderson film, not playing a villain, weirdo or side character. Buscemi is an amazing character actor, the pairing would be beautiful! 


Essential Classic Film - A Night at the Opera
This film is actually in my top 10 favourite films of all time. My parents love the Marx Brothers so my sister and I have been a fan of them for decades. More film fans should exposed to these geniuses. 

Favorite Film Franchise - The Hunger Games
 Gearing up to the DVD release of Mockingjay, I'm getting more and more excited about Part 2. Rereading the books and listening to the audiobooks.

Genre I Watch The Most - thriller 

I tend to watch more thrillers, comedies and dramas.
Hidden Gem - The Fall

Epic in scale but seen by few. It hasn't, as I had hoped, become a cult hit. Tarsem's epic small scale story about a stuntman, hospitalised after an accident/suicide attempt during a film ends up telling a story to a little Romanian girl to pass the time and enthrall her enough to help in his next suicide attempt. From the picture below, you were not excepting that. The stuntman uses people the girl sees day to day an incorporates them into the story which is seen on epic scale and every shot is beautiful. It is definitely worth seeing.

Important Moment in My Film Life - When I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring at the cinema for the first time

I actually wrote a blog post about this experience, you can read about it here.

Just Right for A Rainy Day - Rear Window

This is usually my 'feeling unwell' film to watch, this or 'Soapdish'. When I was at University, I always seemed to watch this when it was raining or to try an unwind.

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy -Return to Oz

For ages this was my go to film to watch while I was drunk. I come back at whatever time in the morning and put it on. I would usually end up falling asleep around the time Dorothy discovers Tik-Tok. But I can enjoy this classic children's film anytime.

Location I'd Most Like To Visit - Hobbiton, its the dream
One day I will make it to New Zealand and I will finally fulfill the dream I have had ever since 2001. 

Marathons I Watched - Lord of the Rings, X-MEM, Marvel Superheroes

I have had my own marathons at home. While trying to sort out my room I ended up watching all of the X-Men movies, including the X-3. I sat and watched all the Marvel Superhero movies I had (at the time).

I went to the Prince Charles Cinema in London with my friend to see the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was amazing. It felt like we were camping out, complete with food and my all important flask of coffee. I tried to do it again a year later, but I was by myself, it wasn't the same. The room was extra cold and whole group of children were behind me making noises throughout, I ended up leaving after two films. 
Last year though, I planned and watched all extended editions of The Hobbit AND The Lord of the Rings, it actually took me three days and this wasn't included 'The Battle of the Five Armies'. That was intense.

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched - She Devil

Hilarious gem I watched many times while it was on Netflix. I think its been removed though.

One Movie I Saw In Theaters More Than Once - The Hunger Games, saw it three times, totally worth it.
Preferred Place To Watch A Movie (Cinema or at home) - cinema

Home is comfort and you have everything around you, plus you can pause if needed, but nothing beats the big screen and if you have the right snacks if needed, its perfect.

Quote that Inspires Me - Cate Blanchett, at the Oscars when she won her award for Blue Jasmine. 

"... And thank you to Sony Classics, to Michael and Tom for their extraordinary support, for so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people."

Remakes (Friend or Foe?) Foe
Mostly foe. There are a few exceptions like 'The Girl with the Dragin Tattoo' but in that case both of the films are brilliant. 
Snack I Enjoy Most - coffee

  Technically not a snack but it's my cinematic choice. I always have a coffee in the cinema and sometimes at home, just for watching a film, unless its a drinking game film.

Thrilling Movie That Blows My Mind - Sin City

Sin City is actually my favourite film. I was blown away from it when I first saw it at the cinema. At the time, 2005, no one had seen the technology being used this way. The added comic book effect and the fact it was a series of graphic novels just made it even better.

Unapologetic Fanperson For - Tina Fey and the Coen Brothers

Loved Tina Fey since 2007 but oh, the brothers Coen I am a huge fanperson for. I have their whole collection, including Crimewave which they wrote the screenplay for and The Ladykillers reamke which I don't agree with. I even have Ethan's poetry, short stories, plays and audiobook.

Very Excited For Award Show Season? Yes, I am this year

Wish I Never Watched... Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland 
XXX Movie I First Watched At A Young Age (R or NC-17!) High Plains Drifter, rated 18 and I was 11. I was ill and had been for a few days. I was alone as everyone was at work or school and I had already watched all early morning TV, seen most of the videos we had already and needed something new. High Plains Drifter was right at the back of the cupboard in the 'forbidden' area along with some late night sketch shows that had been taped. I knew who Clint Eastwood was so thought it would be ok. T
o be honest, it wasn't that gruesome and as I recall, not that great either.

Your latest movie-related obsession - Inherent Vice

ZZZ-Catchers (name a movie that has put you to sleep) - Gremlins

Saw this film at University when loads of people came round our house. I think we ran out of seats so I was on the floor and I think we had all been drinking because I fell asleep pretty quickly. I preferred Gremlins 2 anyway.