Monday, 19 September 2011

Week 04 – A Film Starring the Last Celebrity I Saw in Real Life

The last celebrity I saw in real life.... well, yesterday I was taken to see the filming of a TV show; 'Argumental'. I hadn't liked the previous series, I find it pretty unfunny in general. But this series is presented by one of my favourite comedians, Sean Lock. Unfortunately, I don't think that Sean has done any films yet, but if his acting in '15 Storeys High' is anything to go by, we can only hope he's working on a film project.

One of the team captains there was Robert Webb, who has definitely been in a couple of films. Films I've seen. Films I never want to see again! 'Magicians' was dull. 'Confetti' even duller. I don't want to dwell on the films. It's too depressing. Too formulaic. Too easy.

So, the previous celebrity sighting was at this year's Beer Festival. After many, many ales, a couple of pies and the company of my lovely Turner lads, Adrian Edmondson, another of my favourite comedians, walked onto the stage. He was playing with his band; folk covers of punk songs. Perfect! But, again, I'm pretty strapped for films. He is, of course, in 'Guest House Paradiso'. A fantastic piece of cinema comedy. I love this film! I love the chaos and debauchery of this riotous piece of British cinema. BUT I wanted to use this film in a later question. So I'm skipping Ade! Because it's my pissing blog and I can do whatever I like!

Onto the next one!

We're in New York in February and it's damn cold. Eleanor and I have fought our way through the snow and the freezing winds and we've finally seen a little sunshine. We've seen the statue of Liberty, Times Square, Wall Street, the Chrysler and the Empire State Buildings. We've eaten weird rice puddings, Junior's, Cinnabon and Mcdonald's. I've ice-skated in Central Park (El watched), we've played on that huge piano from 'Big' and done the 'Sex and the City' tour of Manhattan. Today is our last day and whilst in the NBC gift shop we're given free tickets to see the rehearsal of 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'. This, weirdly, is just Jimmy Fallon in front of an audience of around twenty of us, testing his jokes for the evening. What a lovely way to end the week.

Jimmy Fallon...... erm...... he was in 'Whip it' (trite) and 'Factory Girl' (depressing) and (the only one I didn't have to check IMDB for) 'Almost Famous' and he doesn't star in any of them!

So, "back to ze business". Ugh!

Hayley and I are in a cocktail bar in Leicester Square. We're on the balcony at the premiere for 'Despicable Me' but we are just too late and everyone has gone in. But after peering over the railing for a good half an hour we catch a glimpse of Steve Carrell leaving the cinema. Steve Carrell! He's a long way down but the shouts of "Steve!!" from the crowd is a pretty good indication! Shortly after this sighting I spilt a tray of cocktails over myself and we had to leave. I smelt of vodka all the way home.

Huzzah! My hunt is at an end! Steve Carrell's in proper movies and everything. And do you know what, I don't think I need to tell you what I thought of any of his films. Suffice to say; if you don't find 'Anchorman' funny, you're basically dead inside.

"I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party"

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Week 3 - Worst Film Dialogue

I hate Quentin Tarantino's directing. Anyone who knows me already knows this apparently bizarre idiosyncrasy of mine. I hate his directing with a passion. That's right, even 'Pulp Fiction' and yes, I did understand it. I even watched it a second time because people loved it so much I thought I must be missing something. Apparently not.
My main problem is that he spends all of his time trying to be 'cool'. Desperately grasping at what 'cool' is or should be and missing the point entirely. QT will never be 'cool'. And the more he tries the more 'uncool' he becomes.
He reminds me of those kids at school who followed the 'cool' kids around, from a safe distance so that they could claim association but never within the 'cool' kids earshot! He probably couldn't smoke because of his asthma but tried anyway to fit in and ended up throwing up a lung all over the girl or guy he was trying to impress. He probably copied the 'cool' kid's style slicking his hair back with the wrong gel or wearing eyeliner that he hadn't noticed had a hint of glitter in it. Of course now the 'cool' kid he was aping probably sells used cars at his dad's dealership, or so we geeks tell ourselves when thinking about those wretchedly attractive, popular kids that snidely called us 'freaks' or 'goffs' or my personal favourite 'greebos'. The difference between us, deviant, misfit lot and QT is the malodorous stench of snivelling, greasy sponger that the man wreaks of. When we were smart enough to leave those 'cool' kids alone and bunk off to smoke weed in the park or find our own filthy metaller pub that would serve us pints of snakebite even though we were significantly underage, QT kept trying to be 'cool'. When we'd stopped giving a damn (thereby earning a certain amount of 'cool' by accident) QT was still a 'tryhard'.
I have never met Tarantino, I have no idea if this is an accurate representation of this man, but it is the impression that I get. He may be a soulful, considered, exceptional man who makes people feel awestruck when he speaks. He may enter the room with presence. He may quietly and respectfully discuss the importance of religion in society and politics at a dinner party. He may be a great man for all I know. But I doubt it.
The man is still following those 'cool' kids around and has made a career out of copying other people's work. He's famous for ripping off other directors. His fans would call it 'an homage'. I call it 'plagiarism'. His fans would say 'it's a tribute'. I say 'maybe he should have some of his own ideas instead of copying other peoples'. His fans would counter 'many artists do it, he does it because he is a film fan'. I reply 'a film fan should make better films'. Here we reach an impasse. Their cinematic joy is my upsettingly lazy rip off.
His writing, on the other hand, I tend to quite like. 'True Romance', 'Natural Born Killers' and 'From Dusk 'til Dawn' are fantastic films that have all, at one time or another, featured in my 'Top Five Favourite Films' list. And there are, as always, exceptions to the rule. 'Reservoir Dogs', which I believe to be his first full length feature, I enjoyed. I have also recently been swayed by an avid supporter of Tarantino (evidently you can pick your friends but not your friends tastes!) to watch 'Inglorious Bastards' which, yes, fine, was a brilliant film. Apart from Eli Roth. That was some serious miscasting. Brad Pitt was as bland as ever. But the film was saved by Christoph Waltz and I watched it to the end just to watch him.
My biggest problem with QT is that Robert Rodriguez seems to be under the delusion that QT's an asset to his film making. Now RR is one of my favourite directors. The films he spews out may be trash, but they are funny, gruesome, wonderful, character driven pieces of trash and I adore them. Of course the partnership worked well in 'From Dusk 'til Dawn' although I could've done without QT's ugly mug being in the movie (another gripe of mine that I'll return to another time, lucky you) but the rest of their collaborations; 'Four Rooms', 'Sin City' and 'Grindhouse' were almost ruined by QT's stilted and incongruous directing. I find that I fast forward or skip completely any sections directed by QT so that my favoured work of RR is unsullied.
Luckily for me, in the UK, 'Grindhouse' was separated into its two individual films; 'Planet Terror' by RR (which I loved) and 'Deathproof' by QT. This, my friends, this atrocity to my ears is my pick for Worst Film Dialogue. As I have previously outlined I usually enjoy QT's writing, but this crock of shit stank. It stank so badly I couldn't believe it! The film should be a no brainer. I mean there's Kurt Russell in a car that makes it easy for him to kill his passenger, but not for the driver to be killed. That's it in a nutshell. This could have been a brilliant film, loaded with 'Duel'-esque tension but with blood and gore and horrific deaths that would make me shout this noise "Haaawwwwooooohoho-oh-oh!!". Instead we are landed with one of the shittest films that I have ever seen.
Firstly, women do not talk like that. I have never heard women speak to eachother the way that they do in that film. It is some of the most bullshit female dialogue I have ever encountered.
Secondly, a small annoyance but one of the characters holds her crotch when she is desperate to pee. Again I have never done, nor seen any women do this. I have seen small boys do it. Not grown women, because WE DON'T HAVE PENISES TO SQUEEZE. Why would we squeeze our fannies? That just makes you want to pee more! Who are these women that QT is basing this script on? Drag Queens?
Oh man, maybe that's it. The dialogue does sound like a couple of Queens having a bitch off. Perhaps it's just another case of really bad casting!!
Thirdly, of course QT has a cameo. Of bloody course. Because it's not bad enough that this film is badly written and badly directed but it has to be badly acted too.
Fuck, I hate you Tarantino. I really hate you.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Week 2 - Best Film Dialogue

Wow, what a toughie. I mean it's such a massive title! The Best Film Dialogue.... what does one judge it on? (Yes, I just referred to myself as 'one'. What of it?)

I feel that there are several things to consider here;

Firstly - Damn Good Writers. Films such as 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' by Truman
Capote, 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' or 'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams, 'Bar Fly' by Charles Bukowski. Each of these films is beautifully written. The dialogue is thick with sub-plots and a quiet, but audible commentary on the socio-economic themes that are indicative of the times in which they were written. (Boom!)

Secondly - Quotability. Surely the film with The Best Film Dialogue should be highly quotable, so we have films like 'Clueless', 'The Blues Brothers', 'Anchorman', 'Mallrats', 'Gone With the Wind', 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'. Films that have been quoted to me and I have in turn quoted many times. I have more than once cited Marilyn Monroe's line 'Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty. You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?' However, I feel that one liners do not a movie make! There is also a tackiness to each of these films that, although I appreciate, stops me from naming them the BFD. Of course I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the most misquoted film of all time 'Casablanca'. One of my absolute favourites, however, the dialogue is not outstanding and it is overshadowed by the superb cinematography. So we continue to.....

Thirdly - Naturalistic Dialogue. These seem to be rarer and are films that genuinely surprised me because you hear people talk to eachother the way that people actually talk to eachother. 'Superbad' and 'Bridesmaids' would be perfect examples. I saw both of these at the cinema, the first with an ex-boyfriend and the second with my best gal-pal, and both times I found myself laughing twice as hard as I laugh with most comedies of their creed. The '....with hilarious consequences' stock of comedy, which I love. But these stood out. 'Superbad' was the first teenager film I've seen where the teenagers talk the way that teenagers talk. This wasn't the trite, over-indulgent, language creating of films like 'Clueless', 'Juno' or 'Mean Girls'. This was just really damn funny! And I had the same reaction watching 'Bridesmaids'. That was the first time I had seen a film about a group of women where they actually talked like a group of women. They fondly took the piss out of eachother and had actual conversations rather than one woman telling another her issues and the second woman agreeing. This was NOT 'Sex and the City' and thankfully this film was not ALL ABOUT CARRIE BRADSHAW BEING UNABLE TO KEEP A MAN! If I whinged to my friends as much as she does, I doubt they'd be so nice to me! Can't get a man? Maybe you should GET A REAL JOB AND STOP BEHAVING LIKE A LITTLE BITCH!

Phew! Anyway, after all of that deliberation, I have decided to go for *drumroll, fanfare, big bloody banner!!!*

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

"What? That wasn't a nomination! Where was that on the stupid big list I just read?"
Haha! You thought I was a logical normal person whose deductions made any sense? Don't you know me at all?
"I'm not reading your poxy blog any more Bobby. Piss off"

Well, for anyone who stuck around, my reasons are thus;
Eternal Sunshine is an incredible science fiction film, about memory and choice, that for me, personally, was groundbreaking. The film starts with an inner monologue from Joel, Jim Carrey's character, which lays all the foundations for this retrospective film to fill in. This also means that we already understand and identify with Joel when Clementine, played by Kate Winslet, is introduced. This means that we are as confused and overwhelmed by Clem as Joel is. And her mile-a-minute, neurotic, impulsive, conflicted and ever-changing behaviour and opinions are a little too close to home for me! I think that is what makes this film my personal choice. I've never felt as close to a character as I have to Clementine and her awful brashness, her temperament and her discontent with permanence. There is a point later in the film where she says "Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's looking for my own peace of mind; don't assign me yours", and I'll tell you what, I have never felt so pinned down and summed up than I did watching this scene. There's even a scene where she's wearing one of my wonderfully ugly cardigans!
The way that the film progresses through their past relationship in a non-linear narrative we are able to see very clearly why these people were together and why they broke up. I like that neither time is given more importance than the other. We see the relationship as a whole. As a series of moments, a series of feelings, skilfully portrayed through the way that the characters speak to eachother. We can tell where they are in their relationship through their dialogue.
We are also shown interesting side characters each with their own problems. I enjoy a film where incidental characters have as much of a story to tell as the main ones. Not only is there the love triangle between the doctor, the receptionist and the assistant, but also Joel's friends Carrie and Rob clearly have issues of their own that we don't even begin to explore. As an examination of relationships, I love this film.
Mallarme wrote "Meaning is not in things but in between them; in the iridescence, in the interplay; in the interconnections at the intersections, at the crossroads" which I think is what this film represents. The meaning between things and the choices that we make as a result.
It's the finale of this film that seemed a cinema first for me. I won't ruin it any more, and I think that it's a film that you should make your own conclusions for. So I will leave you with the title quote and I hope that if you haven't seen this film, you will, and if you have seen it, you won't judge me for my connection to that neurotic mess with brightly coloured hair. Hopefully you'll just know me a little better.

"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot? The world forgetting by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, each prayer accepted and each wish resigned." - Alexander Pope

Monday, 29 August 2011

Week 1 – The first film I remember seeing as a child

So, here's the deal. After doing the 50 day film challenge on facebook I had a few people telling me that they were following it (probably for cheap laughs but that's fine) and amazingly I managed to complete all 50 days (a record commitment for me). So I thought I'll resuscitate my blog and do the challenge on a weekly basis so I can have a proper natter about the movies I chose, or if I've changed my mind, now choose. I'll try my best to do this every week and we'll be done in just under a year..... oh my god..... that's rather a long time isn't it? Never mind. It'll be fine. I'm sure it'll be fine.

So, week number 1 - The First Film I Remember Seeing as a Child.

Originally for this question I put 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' which was the first film that I saw at the cinema. To be honest, I don't remember seeing it at the cinema. I do, however remember being petrified of Christopher Lloyd, you know that bit where the steam roller runs over him and then he curls himself off of the tarmac and makes that weird giggling noise? And then he inflates himself? AND HIS EYES DO THAT WEIRD POPPING THING??
Okay, just thinking about this is making me cringe so much that one side of my mouth is involuntarily stretching itself downwards in disgust. If anyone comes into my room at this precise moment they'd be forgiven for thinking I was having a stroke. But it's okay, it's not a stroke, it's just hideously scarring childhood memories. That's all. It's only memories of sleepless nights, huddled in the darkness, imagining that curly armed, giggling maniac wobbling towards my cabin bed. Yeesh!
So perhaps a more honest and less harrowing choice? The first film I REMEMBER seeing at the cinema was 'The Land Before Time'. That Don Bluth classic. Released in the UK in July of 1989. I was 4 years old. I think that we went to see it in August. I remember it was hot and I went with my sister, who was seven, and my Mum who must have been heavily pregnant at the time, although I was blissfully oblivious to this. I do not remember my Mum's belly swelling or preparations for my brother's arrival. I have only two memories of my Mum's pregnancy with James, the first, sitting on my parents bed with my sister and being told that we would have a new brother or sister, a great argument ensued between Emma and I as to which we would have. As usual, Emma won. And the second, being left in the George and Dragon Beefeater with my sister and our Grandparents when my Mum went into labour. My Dad finished his dinner before driving her to the hospital.
Anyone who hasn't seen the film; I pity you and you must go and watch it immediately. I mean it. I'll wait for you. Go on.
Done? Good. Isn't it fantastic? The adventures of Littlefoot, Ducky, Petrie, Cera and Spike, out in the wide world, separated from their families and trying to get to that Great Valley. Are you crying? That's my main memory of that cinema outing is crying all the way home from the ABC (then called the Canon cinema I think?) in Brentwood's Chapel High Centre. I remember walking along the railway bridge on Ingrave Road, balling my eyes out, my Mum shouting at me to "cut the waterworks". Sorry Mum. It was a sad movie.
I became quite obsessed with the film. I remember making my duvet into the shape of a dinosaur's footprint so that I could sleep in it like Littlefoot did, problem was I used to get cold on my exposed side and then get tangled up in the bloody duvet trying to get warm AND sleep in a footprint at the same time. I wouldn't recommend it. That Christmas I received the best Christmas present I have ever had in my life. It was a huge Littlefoot (it wasn't really that big but it was over half my height at the time). I dragged that thing around with me every where. There are photos of my family at weddings, all polished and hatted and proud, and that Littlefoot soft toy dangling from beneath my arm. Unfortunately, because I always held it in the same position, arm crooked around its neck just beneath the head, all the stuffing slowly ebbed from its long neck and if left unsupported the head would droop mournfully to one side. I loved that thing so much. Sadly my parent's dog, Loki, got ahold of it a year or so ago and ripped its eyes out.
I spent a fair amount of my time learning the proper names and what each dinosaur's 'skill' was. I collected those plastic, single-coloured models from the Natural History Museum and on my fifth birthday my Mum made me a dinosaur cake with coconut for grass, and we ate dinosaur footprint burgers (basically just burgers but between slices of bread that my Mum had painstakingly sliced into the shapes of dinosaur footprints. So cool).
Watching it now, I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to it. Perhaps the Great Valley is the after life, after all, as the audience, we know that the dinosaurs did eventually die out. Even as children we are aware of this. Perhaps the journey that the dinosaur children make is through purgatory and the film is an exercise in making children comfortable with the inevitable end. But then that may just be my obsession with the macabre. Who knows. Littlefoot's mother dying so early on in the film is not uncommon in children's stories. Sometimes it happens during the story and sometimes before the story's even begun; Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, Bambi. They just love killing off the Mums don't they?!
The themes of loss, abandonment and peril begin the story wonderfully. We are hooked from the beginning. We see the characters through earthquakes, tar pits, volcanic lava, starvation and besting Sharptooth who killed Littlefoot's mother. And as the film progresses we learn about dedication, survival and most importantly friendship. What a wonderful film. What a great animation. It's one of those films that has never left my mind and I still enjoy avoiding stepping on cracks, in case I should fall and break my back. Wise advice. *nods*