But you all knew I wouldn't be able to resist verbiage in the end, didn't you? So here is the list of films, the pictures I chose, and why I chose them.
1, 12 Angry Men (1957)
This is actually a live broadcast television play-for-today type thing that was turned into a stage play, and then a film, rather than a film per se, and there's a bunch of versions of it that are worth seeing, but this is the canonical one for me. So tightly directed, so beautifully acted, especially by Jack Klugman (yes, Quincey). And because it's a teleplay adaptation you get that constraint in the number of sets and locations that just increases the claustrophobia.
I love the lighting, too. There's something about 50s black and white films, and the way they lit them... At the time colour was seen as garish and for fantastic movies; black and white was for realism and grit. So there are some beautiful noirish touches in the lighting on this which amplify the mood.
( there's another 19 under here, so I'm going to cut to save your scrolling fingers, oh my f-list )
To be honest, I could have gone on for a lot longer than 20 days. Although those films all definitely mean something to me, it's not a list of my favourite films by any stretch. Only one musical? Whither Singin' In the Rain'? No Gremlins II: the New Batch? No Wrath of Khan? No Rocky Horror? No Flash Gordon? No Galaxy Quest? No Alan Rickman or Sheila Keith or Karl Urban? No Kubrick? No Rope or Rear Window or Psycho or Rebecca - no Hitchcock at all? etc. etc. But I expect you're probably glad I stopped when I did.
It stars the stunningly gorgeous Calvin Lockhart with the kind of soul patch you just want to nibble, alongside British acting stalwarts like Michael Gambon and Peter Cushing and Charles Gray. Stylistically, it's a collision between 80s action movie (not bad for 1974), The Prisoner, and your classic Hammicus horror fillum. There's some hilarious day-for-night shooting and delicious 70s costumes. And there's a bunch of little gimmicky draw-the-audience-in ideas that are endearingly hokey to modern eyes. And for those who might be tempted to miss Christopher Lee in a film of this type and vintage... well, at least Anton Diffring is wearing his jacket.
I suspect you are not supposed to laugh at it as much as I did. But the laughter was affectionate and delighted. Cushing and Gray in particular show such exquisite comic timing, in so many bits of this film that it's difficult not to crack up. And sure, there's moments where it gets a little slow, and there's moments where it stretches credibility. But the dialogue is snappy and fun, and Charles Gray does the full gamut of facial expressions he is capable of: this is not just a laconically-raised-eyebrow Charles Gray, this is the full incredulity.
Also, the werewolf is played by the cutest doggie ❤
See this film if:
- You're a fan of Peter Cushing's "Grolsch advert" accent ("thisch horror film isch not ready yet!").
- You want to see Charles Gray doing a wide and deep variety of "Oh for fuck's sake" faces.
- You basically want to see a film that is And Then There Were None with werewolves.
- You can't cope with extended "action" sequences in your horror movies.
- You can't cope with a boom-chicka-wow-wow seventies porn film soundtrack in a horror movie.
- You have no patience for innovative story techniques - which now look a little gimmicky
As in the one I've spent most time in/on? Probably Dexter, given that I mainlined all 8 series, although I've never been so angry about ANYTHING as I was about the end of that show.
Your favorite film watched this year?
Wonder Woman. No, Moana. No, Wonder Woman. No, Moana. Argh.
Your favorite book read this year?
I've got a few I gave five stars to:
- The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
- Out Of Bounds by Val McDermid
- Windwitch by Susan Rennard
- several of the Doctor Who Mr Men books
- Alice by Christina Henry
- Dead Corpse by Nuzo Onoh
… out of those it's probably Alice? Alice is horrible and beautiful and amazing.
Your favorite album or song to listen to this year?
Here is my Spotify "most played tracks" playlist. I don't tend to listen to albums very much any more. As you can see, I went through a bit of a musicals phase after seeing Moana. Oh, and the Birdie Song is only on there because I've been trolling my daughter with it.
If I were to rec one song off there?
Thelma & Louise by The Horrorpops
Your favorite TV show of the year?
The Good Place. Or Santa Clarita Diet. One of those two.
Your favorite DW/LJ community of the year?
weekly_food_challenge has become a pleasure not a chore. And food is a fandom, right?
Your best new fandom discovery of the year?
Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?
Straight from Lizbee's post: I knew it was coming, and I see why it was important to the narrative, but ( Spoilers for Star Trek Disco )
Your fandom boyfriend of the year?
Hatcher from Alice.
Your fandom girlfriend of the year?
Your biggest squee moment of the year?
Jodie Whittaker's reveal (and Colin Baker's reaction to it ♡♡♡My Doctor♡♡♡)
The most missed of your old fandoms?
Probably HP. I made so many good friends through that fandom. But JKR being TERFy AND supportive of the casting of Johnny Depp? I just can't any more.
I might have said Top Gear here, but 1, I really liked series 2 of New Line-up TG on BBC2, and 2, the reasons it has soured for me are all on Amazon Prime now. Fucking homophobic misogynist twats Hammond and Clarkson. Trying really hard to not let May go down in my estimation with them… :/
The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?
I don't know, because if I want to try a thing I do it straight away.
Your biggest fan anticipations for the New Year?
Copying from Lizbee again, but I'm torn between the second half of Star Trek Discovery season 1 and Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor. It's SO GOOD that we have amazing Trek TV again, but a lady Doctor? A lady doctor with a Yorkshire accent? Oh hell yes, with bells on. pleaseChibbersdon'tfuckitup… pleaseChibbersdon'tfuckitup…
If you haven't the stomach to read something that long, though, here are a few reasons why I think you should watch the film*, today especially:
- It's the mother of all folk horror movies, and as The Grauniad told us yesterday, folk horror is trendy again. Go back to first principles and watch the type specimen.
- The magnificent moral ambiguity of it: is Edward Woodward the good guy? Is Christopher Lee? I've met people who firmly cleave to both beliefs, and neither. Right to the last frame of the film it's possible to view it either way.
- Partly because of the time it was made, and partly because of the enthusiasms and knowledge bases of the people involved (including Christopher Lee, who always has to put his expertise in on any film) the film is both more complex and far simpler than any of the people who made it think. It's both a complex, witty, and incredibly well-researched satire on modern paganism and how it's all really an invention of the Victorian aristocracy and it's a straight ahead police procedural whodunnit.
- It's a comedy and a musical as well as a mystery and a horror film, and the songs are actually really good, and the jokes are funny; that said, the final scene is one of the best and most horrifying five minutes ever committed to celluloid.
- Christopher Lee dressed as Cher. Snail Sex. And, of course, The Salmon of Knowledge.
- Once you've seen and digested the original, you will be fully equipped to understand every nuance of the magnificent Muppet Wicker Man.
Watch the longest cut you can get hold of; the longer cuts make way more sense storywise and timewise, and have lots more interesting little bits of modern paganism to digest. Or, you know, don't watch The Wicker Man at all; I'm a liberal, I'm happy with you making your own choices.
But whatever you do today (as we used to say on the flyers for the Beltane Beer Festival when I worked at The Barge And Barrel) have a belting Beltane :)
* in the name of all that is holy, do not watch the sexist, bee-obsessed, Nicholas Cage remake. Or, if you do, don't say you weren't warned
*flaily flaily excite*
Cate Blanchett and Karl Urban and Idris Elba and Tessa Thompson and Jeff Goldblum AND the receptionist from Ghostbusters AND a big bassy wallop of Led Zep? Oh YES! This definitely calls for the Cartlon Happy Dance
1, It's not perfect. People who are more important to listen to on racism than me have some issues with Patty as a character; I can see those issues, and think that they could have been solved better (& could be solved in sequels). I do think, though, that Patty was not treated anywhere NEAR as badly as Winston was in the original.
2, I actually liked the gross-out jokes; in a film starring four guys those wouldn't even be commented on.
3, Holtzmann getting to do the slow-mo BadAss Action Hero shooty bit actually made me fill up. How many times do women get to DO that? And it was SO perfect, and there were no Male Gaze "this girl's doing it for you boys" tits'n'arse close-ups while she did it; she got to be the power fantasy that's usually reserved for men, but for ladies. I can only think of two other characters in recent years who have done that: Furiosa and River Song. There are countless, COUNTLESS male versions of this.
4, I loved that the film took all the pre-release criticism it recieved, and incorporated it into the film, every time with a big finger in the face of dudebro sexist arseholes everywhere. From characters reading internet comments to Slimer and Lady Slimer getting a Thelma and Louise moment, each bit was pitched beautifully.
5, Like Andrew says, it was fabulous to have a movie about a group of people where none of them are on the arsehole-with-a-heart journey that Bill Murray always plays. In fact, none of the four leads are arseholes, and none of them is a sexy lamp either. They're PEOPLE. Yep, it is 2016 and the fact that a film with four female leads doesn't make any of them into a total cliche is worth commenting on (note: while elements of Patty's character can be argued to be cliched, she's bookish and a history nerd; those things do not fit the stereotype).
Genuinely, while it's not perfect, I think this is the best film I have seen in ages. It's fun, it's funny, it's got a heart the size of New York, and you should all go see it.
See this film if:
- You're alive.
Don't see this film if:
- You're a sexist dudebro, or a gamergater, or otherwise an example of a person who has no humanity.
Scores: Acting: 9/10, Script: 9/10; Technical 10/10, Feels 10/10. Overall 9.5/10
If you liked this you should watch: it again. I did. And I very, VERY rarely see a film more than once in the cinema on initial release.
Star Trek Beyond
1, I liked that the script gave all the characters something to do, and that none of them felt incompetently handled, or incompetent at their jobs, both of which accusations could occasionally be levelled at Original Trek. Also, Scotty actually using Scottish words (I nearly typed "sounding like a Scotsman" then, but Pegg's accent is... variable) was grand.
2, I loved how they handled the death of Leonard Nimoy. The fact that the one thing Spock Prime brought with him from the alternate universe was a
3, I loved Jayla, and hope she will appear in future films. Given that they have said they are not going to recast Chekhov, and that she is now in Starfleet Academy, this could be an organic way of helping the gender balance a bit - they still need to bring back Chapel and Rand as well, mind.
4, Spock calling McCoy "Leonard", and his heartfeltness when he thinks he's going to die. Just... Oh the feels. Karl Urban continues to excel as McCoy, and Zach Quinto's Spock is pretty effing awesome too. I loved McCoy in all his crotchety grumpy glory, and he got to be the wise old bird a lot here, which is a role he fits well.
5, Idris Elba is his usual stunning self both in and out of his face-obscuring make-up.
6, I was one of the many people in the cinema clapping with sheer delight at the Beastie Boys saving the day. And yes, it was a bit of a cheesy thing referring back to the first Abrams film like that, and calling it "classical music", but I don't care. And choreographing the explosions to the music was beautiful, and totally fits with the excuse the plot uses for the music being there.
See this film if:
- You're a fan of original Trek or Voyager or both, and you want to see Trek on screen actually be what it has always been in your head.
- You want to see what Spock and McCoy are like together without Kirk as a buffer zone (adorable!).
- You like the idea of Chekhov's gun being the Beastie Boys.
Don't see this film if:
- You don't like things going kaboom lots.
- You like your scifi incredibly cerebral.
- You can't handle Simon Pegg's "Scots" accent.
Scores: Acting: 8/10 (but 10/10 for Karl Urban), Script: 9/10; Technical 10/10, Feels 10/10. Overall 9/10
If you liked this you should watch: Star Trek II & III & IV as a set, or VI
1, I've gone nuts
2, Dr Liddle is/was/will be a time traveller
ETA: googling for my old English teacher's name turns up no English teacher, but a professor of theoretical astrophysics who looks sort of a bit like Doctor Liddle but many years younger. God DAMN him, he IS a time traveller!
As for the plot of the actual film, well it was a British comedy crime caper with lots of celebrity cameos. Denholm Eliot, Leo McKern and Peter Lorre were all excellent, although seeing Leo playing ( SPOILER ) was a little unsettling. Peter Lorre was ( SPOILER ) and had some lovely little comedy moments that reminded me of his turn in Comedy of Terrors as foil to Vincent Price. And Denholm Eliot was Denholm Eliot.
Lots of bits of it were clearly just there to showcase either Cinerama or Smell-o-vision or both - like the guy with the yoyo in House of Wax is only there for the 3D effects and serves no plotular purpose - but if you're seeing it in a Cinerama cinema with the smells then that's not annoying like it would be if you were watching it on TV, but endearing. There were some fabulous hats, a couple of really good beards, and the story was ( SPOILER ) It's the sort of film I would normally give 5/10 to and say "if it turns up on channel 4 in the afternoon movie slot, give it a whirl, you might enjoy it". You can certainly have a good game of Spot the Golden Age Of British Cinema Celebrity Cameo. However, in the full Cinerama plus Smell-o-vision experience, this gets upgraded to a Must See. The print is not perfect (we were told some of the reasons why in the talk at the start of the film) and the scent distribution system is not perfect either, but I would say these both add to the fun and charm of the experience.
See this film if:
- you can, simple as that. It's a unique experience, and the story of the film is only a part of that, so even if you detest comedy crime capers I'd say it's worth seeing. You'll need to live in or near a city with a cinerama screen, of which there are now only 4 in the world, and hope they put this show on. I promise you it's worth it.
Don't see this film if:
- strong odours bother you, or you have allergies that might be set off by them.
So, firstly, the actual cinema: is gorgeous. It has absolutely loads of legs room in all the seats, more than in any other cinema I have ever been in. Neither of my 6'5"+ partners would have the slightest trouble fitting into any seat they wanted to, which is incredibly unusual. Tickets are slightly more than at the Rex, and there's no organ at the front or snogging seats at the back, but it's clean and the decor is your traditional cinema decor, all red plush and gold frogging. The snacks and drinks are reasonably priced, and you can get a cup of tea in a proper cup as well as fizzy pop and stuff. The staff are friendly and helpful, and you get proper old style Pearl And Dean music and idents at the start of the adverts. Oh yeah, and the "turn your phone off" and "don't put your feet on the seats" messages are delivered in the form of twee poetry, which is so Hebden Bridge. I really liked this cinema, so much so that I signed up for the email list and will definitely be going again.
Secondly, the film. Wow. For starters, the visuals: it's absolutely stunningly beautifully shot. Lighting comparable to that in Night of the Demon (which those who know me will know is my favourite film for beautiful lighting ever). There's flavours of the German Expressionist school in there, too. The framing and timing of every shot is so spot on, both the editor and the director have done amazing jobs. The scenes where drugs have been taken by one or another character are as well done as the SloMo drugs scenes in Dredd. The close-ups on the pivotal cat are amazing, and the way the film plays with focus to show you different angles on the same shot is lovely.
Then there's the sound. Music plays a big part in this story, and the songs and music played by characters within the film blend seamlessly with the overarching soundtrack. It's incredibly well-done and immersive. Again, in the drug-taking scenes, the soundtrack works with the visuals, going muffled or muted or oddly loud in all the right places.
Other things... The pace of the thing is slow and lyrical for most of the time, such that when ther is a jolting shock, it's really jolting. The plot is... Well, for the second time today, I'm not going to go into the plot, but it's unusual and interesting and fun. It's a bit gory in places, and there's some sexual nastiness, but nothing that triggered me. It passes Bechdel. The acting is first class, from the elderly drug addict to the jaded prostitute to the terrified little boy; and through all this the titular Girl floats ethereally, like the otherworldly thing she is. Oh yes, and the male lead is so impossibly beautiful he looks like a sculpture. All in all, I would fully recommend this to anyone who is a film geek.
See this film if:
- You want to see something visually and aurally stunning that will NEVER come out of a major Hollywood studio
- You want to see some great acting from a range of actors
- You want to see what can be done with black and white in the modern era.
- You think black and white films are boring and you can't cope with foreign language movies
- You want breakneck pace and explosions on a regular schedule.
Scores: Acting: 9/10, Script: 8/10; Technical 10/10. Overall 9/10
If you liked this you should watch: The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), Night of the Demon (1957), Let the Right One In (2008)
Which is the most ridiculous hammer Dracula death?
Burnt by daylight after Peter Cushing leaps for the conveniently placed Curtains of Doom (Dracula - 1958)
Running Water in an icy moat (Dracula Prince of Darkness)
Being impaled on a massive pointy cross (Dracula Has Risen From The Grave)
Hallucinating a church service after seeing a couple of crucifixes (Taste the Blood of Dracula)
Being struck by extremely convenient lightning (Scars of Dracula)
Impaled on a cartwheel (Dracula AD1972)
Falling into a grave full of spikes and being whacked with a shovel (Dracula AD1972 again)
Trying to walk through a hawthorn bush, getting stuck, staked, and having his ring blown through by The Cush (Satanic Rites of Dracula)
Tripping up and falling onto the pointier end of The Cush's spear (The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires)
Myself, I'm going to find this one REALLY hard to answer, but I love them all. Except maybe Scars, which has too much Dennis Waterman & not enough not-Dennis-Waterman
So here's a PROPER Christmas movie poll.
Film one also has Alan Rickman in it, but unlike
Film two has cousin Di in it, and has Louis Armstrong on the soundtrack.
Film three has Joan Collins being killed by a murderous Santa and Peter Cushing's heartbreaking performance as Zombie Mr Grimsdyke (those of you who haven't seen the film are laughing; those of you who have are nodding sagely with a tear in your eye)
Vote, my pretties!
Which is the Best Christmas Movie?
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Tales From The Crypt
I have no soul and wish to choose something else
Die Hard 1
Martine Beswick, Caroline Munro, Barbara Steele, Hazel Court, Ingrid Pitt or Valerie Leon?
I'd like to know what films were shown in that season. I'm reasonably sure there's a website which tells one when particular films were shown on British tv, but I can't find it and my Google fu is failing me and I've had a really shit day and my brain won't work.
So I went to see the new British comedy/drama Song for Marion. It's not the most original script ever. You're never in any doubt about what is going to happen at any point, and the plot is somewhat thin. It's one of those films that rests upon the performances of the actors to make it worth watching.
Luckily, Song for Marion manages to pull it off, largely due to a devastating performance from Vanessa Redgrave and a stunning
Redgrave's Marion is dying of cancer. Her husband, Arthur (Stamp), has retreated into curmudgeonly grumpiness because he doesn't know how to deal with it, putting further strain on his already strained relationship with his son (Christopher Eccleston, with a somewhat hit-and-miss non-Northern accent). The thing that gives Marion joy is her weekly choir class, taught by Gemma Arterton and populated with such Brit acting luminaries as Anne Reid and Ram John "Porkpie" Holder. The choir is quirky and unconventional, naturally, and Arthur finds the songs they perform (Ace of Spades, Lets Talk About Sex), and the joy they find in subverting convention, very embarrassing.
I suspect from all of that you can all see how the plot is going to develop and what the ending will be. If you can't predict from that, watch the trailer, which is something of a Walkabout Trailer*. Like I said, not the most original script ever. That said, Redgrave and Stamp, and the way they play the relationship between them, are so good that it doesn't really matter. There are a number of scenes in the film where the camera simply lingers on Stamp's face as he reacts to something. In the hands (or rather facial muscles) of a lesser actor, this could have been disastrous. In this, it's astounding.
I cried. I cried lots. Especially when Redgrave does her solo song directly to Stamp. But I also laughed lots, and the supporting actors deserve some credit for this. Anne Reid rapping, and doing the dance moves for the various songs, is clearly having a great time. And the little girl who plays Stamp's granddaughter has that piercing honesty and comic timing that I'm sure many of us will recognise from our own children.
The direction is good, there's some nice shot-framing, and the set design is effective in evoking the type of lifestyle Marion and Arthur have. The song choices are interesting, and Stamp and Redgrave both perform reasonably well musically, although clearly neither is a natural singer.
See this film if:
- You need a damn good cry
- You want to see some great performances of ordinary human relationships
- You want to see Anne Reid rap
- You like to be surprised by plot twists
- You want car chases, or any kind of action
Scores: Acting: 10/10, Script: 5/10; Overall 7/10
Alternative Britcom dramas with older actors: Quartet (good, but not great) or Cockneys Vs Zombies (laugh-out-loud funny, but possibly slightly gory in places). I'd recommend the latter every time. Honor Blackman with a HUGE machine gun, people. Go watch it.
* A Walkabout Trailer is a trailer which shows most of the interesting bits of a film and thus makes it much less necessary to see the actual film. Named after the trailer for the Nick Roeg film Walkabout, which literally does spoil EVERY important point of the film. Yes, even THAT one.
And that got me thinking.
How would you market a stereotypically girly film to blokes? Or a stereotypically blokey film to girls?
Bonus points for the most pointless use of stereotype!
- The Sound of Music is an escape from the nazis thriller.
- The Dirty Dozen is a film about relationships.
- The Wicker Man is a picturesque musical about folk traditions.
The thing I want to blog about tonight, though, is VINDICATION. There was argument about whether or not LotR dwarves are like Discworld dwarves (i.e. indeterminate gender identity). I am firmly on the side of HELL YES THEY ARE, and furthermore Gimli is clearly a bisexual lady who has an elf fetish. There are others who are... less convinced of this than I am. HOWEVER, in The Hobbit, when Gandalf is describing Radagast to the company he uses THE EXACT WORDS used to describe Ridcully the Brown when he is first introduced in the Discworld books. Obviously the desciption give of Ridcully is meant to conjure up images of Radagast, so it's a nice nod. But it also means that the writers have explicitly considered Discworld, THEREFORE it is quite legitimate to play guess the gender identity with the company dwarves.
Amirite? I ARE RITE!
Of those in the film, I don't want to make definitive pronouncements about any but two. Oin is definitely a boy; that type of campness is something I have never seen in anyone who wasn't cis male. And Thorin is definiely a girl. That lustrous hair, that silky beard, that way with using improvised weapons; she's the only one who organises things, she's the most sensible, and she's by far the huggiest of the dwarves**.
I lean towards saying that Bombur, Biffur, Balin and Fili and Kili are ladies too***, but I wouldn't say for definite. Dwalin I would say is probably a bloke. The others are, in my head at least, genderqueer.
Anyhew, I am a happy bunny, I enjoyed the film very much, and I thought Thorin was an excellent heroine :)
* as in, the bits that are in there which aren't in The Hobbit are almost all from Tolkein's expansions.
** You might say that I am being somewhat stereotypical about gender roles here; possibly I am. But it beats saying that the only girls in the film were Galadriel (who admittedly has a far bigger part to play than she was given by JRR), a few hobbit extras, and an unnamed elf playing the flute...
*** Which makes the regular fatshaming of Bombur extra depressing...
Jack Dee, live at the Victoria theatre in Halifax. Was hilarious, although on a couple of occasions he skirted a bit too close to the "I'm not racist but" line. He was wearing amazing purple loafers, though. And he made fantastic attempts at inserting local colour into his set along the lines of Mark Steel's In Town. If I had paid for the tickets I would have considered them good value for money. 8/10
Gambit was silly, but a lot of fun, with the usual caveats about Hollywood movies' stupid approaches to gender politics. It has lots of naked Alan Rickman in it, which, IMHO, is recommendation enough. 7/10
Sightseers is the most original film I have seen in a long long time. If you imagine a feminist take on Natural Born Killers written with the dry and wistful humour of Alan Bennett you're somewhere close to beginning to grasp the feel of this heartwarming romcom about serial killers. I don't want to go too deeply into any of it, because I want you all to go see it. There's a bit of gore, and there's some strong language and really, really inappropriate concepts... but the way they are handled I guarantee you will laugh at all of them. Line of the film was
he's not a person, he's a Daily Mail reader, but literally every scene has at least one laugh out loud moment. It was an utter joy hearing peals of laughter in the cinema, and it was lovely hearing the other patrons enthusing about the film as they left. It's not a film that needs to be seen on a big screen by way of effects or big visual stuff, but it's a film that makes for a great shared experience. Go and see it. Please.
Also if, like me, you fall in love with the leading lady you might wish to see her other works, which include Horrible Histories and Garth Marenghi's DarkPlace. 10/10
Strictly Come Dancing has been a lot of fun this year, principally because of the adorable, modest, brilliant and talented Lisa Riley, who has absolutely bloomed and become an amazing dancer. She also SO clearly is having the time of her life and getting on like a house on fire with Robbie. I'm not going to give Strictly a mark though because it's the kind of thing you know whether you like it or not.
Elementary I love love love. I love Johnny Lee Miller's characterisation of Holmes (and have just about expunged his Frankenstein's Monster from my brain), and I love Lucy Liu's sharp yet caring Watson, who has EXACTLY the right balance of intelligence and compassion to be Watson as Watson should be - not the dullard Watson is so often portrayed as, and I REALLY love the way they interact with each other. This is not a brilliant Holmes leading a stupid Watson to enlightenment, it is two people learning different things from each other, exactly as it should be.
Part of the reason it's so good is because the Moffatt series has dibs on the original stories for TV adaptation the makers of Elementary have been forced to be creative, and they have come up with something genuinely great. Better than Sherlock? Hell yes. Sorry Gatiss. 9/10
American Horror Story: Asylum I am having very mixed feelings about. It took me a LONG time to get into series 1 - and I thought about giving up on it more than once - but once I did I really loved it. Jessica Lange is still awesome, and every episode passes Bechdel without a problem, partly due to the huge cast, but partly because there is actual proper gender balance... but there are some bits of it which seem to be going for titilation over plot (oh, I know, in a horror series, what a shock). I'm also not sure about having it setting just two time periods, and the vast majority of it in 1964, rather than jumping about through history, and slowly tying things together. However, I am willing to keep giving it a chance longer than I normally would because the first series did just go on getting better and better. 6/10
Grimm series 2 is still gender unbalanced and still has needlessly silly terminology, but other that is a lot of fun. I am DEEPLY in love with Monroe. The conceit is interesting, and it falls neatly into the slot for fantasy in my head. And a lot of the recurring characters are great too. I particularly love Nick's mum and Monroe's mad-as-a-bag-of-frogs biker ex-girlfriend Angelina. 8/10
Continuum on the other hand, I am starting to wonder if it was made to fit exactly into a slot in my head. It's like someone thought
Hey! Jennie loves sci-fi and she loves detective shows and she loves kickass female lead characters: I wonder what'd happen if we put all those things together?The result is a show that's by no means perfect, but still really, really good. I particularly like that the police department's geek is a girl, and am enjoying very much the mystery-of-the-week format. It's still overly male, but it's a step in the right direction, and passes Bechdel most weeks. 8/10
The Almighty Johnsons series 2 is being rather enjoyable too. Ingrid, Ty and Olaf are still my favourites. It's fun to see my predictions coming true, but also being twisted in unexpected ways. The episode A Damn Fine Woman is one of the finest episodes of television I have seen in a long time, and the rest of the series has been a lot of fun too. 8/10
The basic plot of the movie is that an Evil Multinational Corporation has bought a load of land in the East End, including the land on which stands the Bow Bells old folks home. One of the residents is a gentleman with grandchildren in their twenties, whom he brought up when their parents died. The boys are dimwitted but goodhearted, and want to pay their grandad back by saving the old folks home for him and his friends. Having attempted to save up and got nowhere, with two weeks to go before the home closes they decide to do a bank job. Just as the zombie apocalypse hits.
The rest of the film is a caper involving routemaster buses, Zoe Slater from Eastenders saving the day lots, Richard Briers on a zimmer frame trying to escape from a zombie who is shambling at exactly the same speed as him, and this lady:
87-year-old machine-gun-toting ex-Pussy-Galore-and-Cathy-Gale Honor Blackman totally steals this movie. You know when you watch American action movies, and you're sighing because all the supposed badass action heroes blink every time their gun fires? Not Honor (or Richard Briers, for that matter, who ends up with an uzi strapped to his zimmer frame). From delicately hammering a zombie's head in at the kitchen door, to mowing them down with a machine gun provided to her by the cackhanded bank robbing grandchildren of her old-folks-home-sweetheart, she has style, panache and a steely-eyed reserve throughout this film.
The cheeky chappie Cockney cliches are done, but not overdone, and there's a real sense of weary resignation as the zombies take over from the corporation and the government and everything else as something which is getting in the way of the cockneys just getting on with their lives of geezering and low level crime. There are some great roles for British acting elder statesfolk, too. Witness Tinker from Lovejoy totally failing to grasp Cockney Rhyming slang. Notice T-Bag from 80s kids TV as a lascivious old dear. See Sabalom Glitz from Doctor Who beat a zombie to death with his own false leg.
There are lots of hilarious small moments, and a big soppy theme of loving your home and your family, and even with the level of gore and language I ended the film smiling and feeling really good.
See this film if:
- You have an ounce of horror geekery in your body
- You have a soft spot for elderly British actors having a huge amount of fun
- You enjoyed Shaun of the Dead
- You're squeamish
- You can't cope with Honor Blackman dropping the f-bomb
For a more incisive review, please see the fluffy elephant (you may recognise the content of the first comment).
The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists is one of those rare films that's better than the book. A thoroughly enjoyable romp, despite some dodgy gender politics, most of which I have forgiven because of the stonkingly good singalongable soundtrack (yes, I'm shallow).
Madagascar 3 was surprisingly enjoyable, but the soundtrack was nowhere near as good so the gender politics bothered me more ;)
Hotel Transylvania was pretty good, despite some REALLY dodgy gender politics AND the only gay character being a serial sexual assaulter (which the film was at pains to normalise - which kind of takes away from the positive of having a gay character in a kids' film. Paranorman did this a LOT better). Holly loved it so much that she wanted to be a vampire for Halloween, though (see yesterday's post).
Red Dwarf the new series has been pretty good. Not "OMG AWESOME!!!" but pretty good. I'd be pleased if they make another series.
Question Time I haven't actually watched this series at all, and my stress level are markedly lower. Still addicted to Any Questions on radio four, though.
Drabblecast is a podcast I would have unreservedly recommended right up until the most recent episode, which had some problematic content hitherto unknown to this listener, and I've been listening for a good 12 or 13 episodes now. The content is very varied but always interesting (even the problematic episode was interesting) and the host has a voice which doesn't grate on my ears, which is almost unknown in a ficion podcast.
Clarkesworld podcast is even better, IMHO. The host has a LOVELY voice, and gives insightful comment on the stories as well as reading them very well (aside from her pronunciation of some English placenames in the superlative "England Under The White Witch" episode).
University Challenge I have been pretty addicted to this series, but that's possibly because of the game James and I have taken to playing while watching it. It's possibly quite a cruel game. We try to spot the serial killer, and what their method of killing is. For example, the most recent episode had a poisoner, a Lecter-esque cannibal, and a very worrying alien wearing human skin...
There will probably be more (lots more!) and more detailed on this film later, but for now GO SEE THIS FILM. OK, so there's lots of swearing and violence, and some of the violence has sexual connotations but the way it's framed is not disempowering. There's a technical bechdel pass, and the lead bad guy, the person in charge/chief judge, AND one of the two viewpoint characters are female. Stunning cinematography, fabulous performance from Urban, lots of geeky refs...
I'll geek about stuff that's geeky later (Ezquerra block! Tom Frame block! Meat wagons!) but right now it's time to watch tonight's Who.
Holy SHIT that was good.
The plot was convoluted but fun, the cinematography was stunning, the fight choreography was amazingly creative, and the sets and costumes were beautiful. If you go and see it (and I recommend that you do) watch out for the Indo-Irish dance routine, the slowmo closeup eyebrow action in the fights, and the hero getting shot in the arse at a crucial moment.
Doesn't pass Bechdel, but does have an arse-kicking, rooftop running, parkour champion of a female lead, who is DEFINITELY her own woman. The hero's neighbours are not all stunningly beautiful starlets, either. There's some old people and some fat people and... nobody comments on this. It's normal.
((I'd also at this point like to say something about the trailers we saw before the film. One was for a romcom starring two fat people in their forties. There was no fat shaming in the trailer, and the cast looked pretty gender balanced. One was for a film about a Bollywood starlet, written by a woman and directed by a woman, and passed Bechdel in the trailer. And one was for a drama about a deaf guy, which appeared to be entirely in sign language.
Why can't we have this level of diversity and interest in mainstream English language films?))
Anyway, Go see this film if:
- You're tired of conventional Hollywood fare and want to watch something that has bags of originality and creativity.
- You like a plot that twists and turns
- You like action movies. Seriously, you'll have to sit through bits of romance and a few dance routines, but it's totally worth it for the fight scenes, which are stunning.
Don't go see this film if:
- You can't cope with the rapid and random swinging between genres (and, indeed, languages) which comes with this film
- You haven't got the attention span for a lot of plot twists
- You're a joyless, soulless husk
- Chuck Norris is SO hard he can steal Clint Eastwood's theme tune and nobody tells him off.
- The Governator still can't act, and is looking pretty scrawny these days.
- a film can always be improved by the addition of MOAR ACTION HEROES.
- Jet Li does a great Jackie Chan impression if you make enough saucepans available to him
- Jean Claude Van Damme's party piece flying kick would lose him both bollocks and a kidney if he tried it in an ACTUAL fight, it's so slow.
- The best expendable in terms of all round fight skill, brains, and versatility... is the girl.
I enjoyed the Expendables 2 very much. Because, lets face it, if I'm GOING to watch a film that doesn't even try to pass the Bechdel test it might as well be one with enormous explosions and so much testosterone you practically grow bollocks just being in a room where it's showing. It was silly and cheesy and over the top and utterly, utterly hilarious, and I recommend it thoroughly.
All that said, though? I really loved it. And Holly loved it too. And there was humour and pathos and character growth and great relationships. The relationship between Merida and her mum and dad reminded me very much of my own family dynamic as a child. Julie Walters' scatty witch is awesome, and Billy Connolly is a fabulous warrior king.
Go see this film if:
- You are a parent with a child because it's a beautiful examination of parent-child relationships
- You appreciate beautiful animation and art - the depictions of the Scottish landscape, while clearly fantasy Scotland, are stunning
- You're sick of movies that think they can be grown up by putting in more sex and swearing, and want ACTUAL grown up examination of deep emotions
- You appreciate massive attention to detail - the archery scenes in particular are very well done
- You want to encourage Hollywood to make more films with female leads
- You can't cope without lots of explosions because there's only one
- You can't cope without boys being the centre of attention ALL THE TIME
- Guns are great. Really really great. Even if you accidentally shoot someone who you are torturing for information, the information will fall into your lap immediately anyway, so don't worry about it. Batman is a bit weird for not liking guns and killing random people he's never met before, but it's an acceptable weirdness because other people can do the shooting and killing for him.
- Anyone who talks about police and government corruption is in it for their own ends. And even if the police and or government DID lie to you, cheat you, and hurt you, they did it for your own good and you should be grateful and never question them. Anybody who does question them is evil and should be ignored.
- Anyone who cares about their community, or is poor, or both, is a credulous moron who can be made to agree to anything by a charismatic leader. Even if you're stretching the definition of charistmatic leader to a police commissioner who looks like Ned Flanders or a man whose speech is incomprehensible half the time.
- You can only ever be truly happy and free if you stop caring about anyone other than yourself. Your father (figure) will find this not only acceptable, but laudable. If you really care about other people, you'll end up dead or mad.
The film is very well acted, and shot, and it passes Bechdel, and Catwoman is very cool. But it left a very nasty taste in my mouth for the above reasons. I also find it inconsistent with the tone of the previous two films, in which the citizen's of Gotham were shown to be more than sheep who could be easily manipulated by a criminal mastermind.