Thursday, May 31, 2012

May in Movies (and LAMMY news!)

This month has been good, but it has also been bad. More than anything, it's been extremely busy, though. Too much school work, no spare time. Which is why I haven't been watching that many movies. And unfortunately, writer's block came for another harsh visit.

However, the end of the month has been filled with so much joy you have no idea. Early yesterday morning, I had a few tweets at me congratulating me for some LAMMY nominations, but no-one stated what they were. So I had to rush around the house downloading the podcast and then listening to it. In amidst all of that, I jumped around every time I got a nomination, only just remembering that I had to actually get ready for school. Part way through straightening my fringe I heard that I got nominated for Best Blog. I mean, come on guys, Best Blog? Me? Part of that category? Wow, I'm humbled. I honestly can't believe you thought of little old me down in Dannevirke (which you haven't heard of), New Zealand (which you most likely haven't heard of). I was so excited that I told anyone who listened, and a few teachers spread the news to other people I don't even know. So thank you, guys, the town's abuzz (yeah, I know I take it too seriously). Anyway, catch the full lineup here, but here's what I'm nominated for:
-Best Rating System - Hehe, you like my The Room rating then? I totally think that Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob should take this, since poor old Nick can't get Best Blog Name any more. Also in contention is Go See Talk, French Toast Sunday and 3 Guys 1 Movie.
-Best Awards/Festival Coverage - I really appreciate that my little Annual Awards Nerdism was remembered here, but it's nothing compared with Never Too Early Movie Predictions, The Matinee, Bonjour Tristesse or Big Thoughts from a Small Mind.
-Best Running Feature - Again, I really appreciate that a few of you thought of A Conversation With... in this one (and sorry it's taking the week off). Duke & The Movies' Battle of the Directors, Fogs Movie Reviews' Movies that Everyone Should See, True Classics' Pioneers of Animation and my personal favourite Rachel Reel Reviews' Saturday Sims Screenshots all provide tough competition.
-Best Design - Wow, I'm really glad I spent one whole Friday at home to reinvent my blog, because not only am I really happy about it, a lot of other people are too. I really don't stand a chance against the widgety ones from The Matinee, French Toast Sunday and Man I Love Films. And I especially don't stand a chance against Sati's amazing Cinematic Corner. Seriously, vote for her.
-Best Blog - I don't care if I don't get any votes in this category, I'm just happy to be nominated. I mean, I realise that I'm the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close of the race, but I'm totally cool with that. Man I Love Films, The Matinee, Anomalous Material, Fogs' Movie Reviews, FlixChatter and The Droid You're Looking For are all great sites, and all very worthy of winning this award.

Anyway, things I've seen this month are...

Movies I hadn't seen until the month of May...

Tyrannosaur - Despite my pleading, my father wouldn't order this for Blockbuster. Which is a shame. Then again, we are the shop that is only getting one copy of The Artist. Someone send me funding so I can pay for an extra three copies? I can't seem to convince anyone that it won Best Picture.
We Bought a Zoo - This was kinda cute, but it was too long and the music wasn't so great. What the hell was up with Elle Fanning? She was nuts in that movie!
Dead Man Walking - I don't know why, but Sean Penn makes me uneasy.
Amelie - Yeah yeah yeah, I only just saw it. I liked it a lot. Such whimsy. Amelie has just about the same outlook on life as I do.
Children of Men - This movie was bloody brilliant. In fact, I just can't believe that there was a movie like this was made so recently.
Restless - This movie gave me such grief. I tried to watch it on my laptop before I watched War Horse, but it wouldn't work. So then we just watched War Horse, which ran on quite late. So I tried to watch it in my bedroom, but it wouldn't work. After all that, it worked in the lounge...but I didn't enjoy it very much.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Too much slow-mo. Too long. My dog was far more interesting.
Straw Dogs - I have the original one in my room. I'm going to watch it soon. I just feel like I've been a little too heavy on the rape movies lately. (by the way, this one wasn't so great.)
The Hunter - Surprisingly entertaining, for an Australian film. Willem Dafoe is another guy who makes me uneasy.
Cleo from 5 to 7 - Yeah, this is the kind of movie I watch on a Friday night while everyone's out partying. I loved it. Plan to review it next week.
Heathers - I will not let go of my campaign to get Winona Ryder a good comeback.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - People keep asking me about this movie, for some odd reason. And then I just go crazy about how complicated it is. Anyway, I really like the poster I have of it by my bed now.
Leon: The Professional - It was funny seeing Gary Oldman play a quiet good guy and then a weird bad guy in the same week. What an actor.
The Artist - Ha, it finally came to the local cinemas last week. It'll be out on DVD next week. Again...someone please send me funding so more people in Dannevirke can see it?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Yes, I saw this for the first time this month, too. Wow, Jack Nicholson is quite an actor.
Dolphin Tale - This reminded me of the really bad movies that were on at midday when I was a kid. Which dragged it down for me. While we're at it, why was this in 3D?
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - Ummmm, yeah. You know it was a bad month when I watched this.
Mr. Nice - Just to see my darling Christian McKay. He was in it for about 20 minutes. YES. It was quite a good movie, too. Rhys Ifans rocks.
Pina - I like dancing, but this was a strange movie. I guess it is quite interesting seeing 'experimental' movies.
Young Adult - The more I think about this film, the more I like it. Charlize Theron is awesome.

Movies I've seen before but felt like watching again because I'm cool like that...

Me and Orson Welles - I'm gonna keep beating the Christian McKay drum until we can make a band (hahaha).
War Horse - I LOVE THIS MOVIE. I need to get a T-shirt screaming that out to the world.
The Muppets - Going to watch this again tonight with my friends. So excited. I'm gonna sing along to all the songs.
Hugo - Can't say this held up too well on a rewatch, but Helen McCrory was awesome in this.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - After watching this again I can't stop listening to the soundtrack. Has everyone seen the packaging for this DVD? Isn't it the awesomest thing ever?!
The Descendants - I admit to liking it a little more this time round, but I don't understand why everyone loves it. Plus, Shailene Woodley and Judy Greer were a million times better than George Clooney. Just saying.

What about you? Seen anything good this month?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Not Everyone Grows Up.

Film: Young Adult
Year: 2011
Director: Jason Reitman
Written by: Diablo Cody
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe, Jill Eikenberry, Richard Bekins, Mary Beth Hurt.
Running time: 89 mins. 

It's a funny thing being at high school. People tend to focus more on the social sides of things, climbing up to the top of the ladder and laughing at everyone on the lower rungs. We people who are still climbing are taught that nothing like this will matter in the future. The people who pay attention at school will get the rewards, even if they're bullied. The ones that are right up the top of the social ladder may find themselves a fair way down when it comes to real life. At my high school, it's very different to what the American movies would have me believe - but I do realise that being popular now won't matter in the future. That's exactly what Young Adult is all about. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a 37 year old woman who used to be the most popular girl at her high school. She now works in the big city as a ghost writer for a once popular but now declining teen book series. After receiving an email from her old high school sweetheart Buddy Slade's (Patrick Wilson) wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) that they've just had a baby together, Mavis makes the big return to her small hometown of Mercury, Minnesota in order to get Buddy back. When she gets there we realise that Mavis hasn't ever really got out of the mentality that being at the top of the social ladder is the most important thing in the world. It may be at high school, but she continues that on to the real world, where things don't need to be such a popularity contest.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #25

What I'm watching tonight...

Finally, after what seems like forever, Young Adult is out on DVD. Being a HUGE Jason Reitman fan, I'm hoping for some big things. Also, I'm checking out The Descendants again. Just so I can check that my Melbourne judgement was right. I wasn't originally going to watch it again since The Darkest Hour was supposed to come out, but that got delayed. So The Descendants it is.

What's been happening on the site in the past week...
Sorry for taking lots of breaks. Let's just say, school sucks. So does writer's block. In order to not chicken out on a post, I shared some of my photos with you. Then I had a conversation with the awful Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Thanks to Cillian Murphy having a birthday on the perfect day, I wrote about my favourite performances by him. As part of the LAMB's Acting School 101, I did a really random post on Cate Blanchett's work in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This week's underrated showcase was all about the terrific Hard Candy. And finally, this week's Lame Trailer Cliché was the textbook sports movie trailer. I don't mean to be OCD but, no comments? Sadface. I did four hours of non-stop homework so I could post that post. Anyway, it has been an interesting week on the blog...

Video of the week...

I can't stop watching The Great Gatsby's trailer. Oh, I love Baz Luhrmann. I love that book. I love Leonardo DiCaprio. I love Jay Gatsby. I'm part of the 0.02% of film bloggers who thinks this will be awesome.

A little note...
I'll be absent from the blogging world this weekend. Since it is Queen's Birthday, me and seven of my friends are going to the beach. Then it'll be study leave for a week, so I'll have more time to blog! (but probably not any more inspiration).

Diana reviews the fantastic yet extremely painful to watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Tyler looks at the brilliant score for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Since seeing the movie again, it's been interesting to put the songs to the scenes and getting a totally different meaning to them...if that makes sense.

Rodney looks at film piracy in his midweek mumble over at Front Room Cinema.

One movie that I've always wanted to see is the star-studded 1933 classic Dinner at Eight. Anna gives it a favourable review.

Sati takes a look at rising star Rooney Mara - a.k.a one of the most beautiful women ever, in my opinion.

Anomalous Material has awesome new images from Django Unchained. Come on, Christmas!

The Void has ended his Cannes Marathon, and has summed everything up nicely here.

Andy looks at him favourite fleeting moments from David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This movie was so awesome.

Ruth has taken part in a blogathon all about horses in film. Because horses are awesome.

The LAMMY nominations have closed and we'll see who's lucky enough to be in the running this year in a couple of days. Meanwhile, here's a tournament for the best FYC posters!

Final word...
Favourite film score/soundtrack of all time?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lame Trailer Cliches: The Textbook Sports Movie Trailer

I'm under the impression that every sports movie trailer is the same. Seriously. I could have picked any two sports movies and compared the trailers, and they would have been extremely similar. However, the two trailers I've decided to compare are the ones for last year's surprisingly great Warrior (which I thought was the better of the two) and 2010's Oscar winning success The Fighter. Yes, these films have similar stories, in a way. If you were to go by the plot summaries on IMDb, you'd think they were exactly the same. However, they're extremely different, in their own ways. Except, you probably couldn't tell that by the trailers...

The frighteningly similar fonts.

The only thing that is different is the fact that Warrior's title goes out, and The Fighter's title goes in. Perhaps a symbol of the differing quality of each film?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Underrated Showcase Sunday: Hard Candy

I must be one of the most damaged children of my age. Someone asked me what I am going to watch tonight. I went through my options, coming to the original Straw Dogs, which I decided I wouldn't watch since I've already seen a rape movie this week. If I ever tell people about what happens in Requiem for a Dream, they just look at me strangely. One of my essays on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was basically all about rape (I'm doing the theme of 'revenge', so that's what it all came down to). But by far and beyond the most damaging film I've seen in my life is Hard Candy. Now, I vaguely remember this film during it's release back in 2005/06 or whatever. It was at the beginning of my movie obsession, and it was in the first issue of Empire (Australian movie magazine) I ever got, with a stellar 5 star review. I don't know how popular it was back in the day, but judging by the mixed critical response, I can't help but put it in the 'underrated' category.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Musings on Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

David Fincher has made many movies in his time. The majority of them are dark, serial killer themed films, like Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac. He's made a movie about Facebook. He's also made a romantic drama about a man who ages backwards. If there's anything out of the ordinary in Fincher's filmography, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is it. Many people tend to overlook this film which doesn't go as dark as the rest of what he has to offer, but this film, which was the first work of Fincher's that I ever saw, is one of my favourites of all-time.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a film that I'd like to think of as a 'future classic'. In it's day, many dismissed it as being too long (and at nearly three hours, it is a bit of a stretch for the attention deprived people of today), a piece of Oscar bait (it certainly gives off that impression) or just plain boring. The thing about Benjamin Button is that it isn't like many of the other films in recent memory. Barely anyone does 'life' movies like this anymore, mainly because of today's attention deprived market who don't make a lot of room to see someone live out their life in a movie. These glossy, 'warm' looking period pieces are also in short supply, as anything set around the 1930's/1940's tends to be focused on war or gangsters. The film just feels like it could have been from another time, but I can't quite put my finger on what time that might be. Yes, it could indeed be a film from the past, but it also feels groomed for the future. Which is what makes it such a strange, yet wonderful film.

Friday, May 25, 2012

10 Favourite Cillian Murphy Performances...

Today is the wonderful Cillian Murphy's 36th birthday. Back in the dark ages of this blog, I had a HUGE obsession with the man. Like, I'm talking more than Ralph Fiennes obsessed. During that obsession, I managed to see pretty much everything he's been in, apart from maybe 3 or 4 films (which are impossible to find in NZ). He's a pretty brilliant actor, who has shown more diversity than the average Joe in the movie. As shown in my 10 favourite performances from the most underrated actor of our time:

10. Neil in Watching the Detectives

I guess you could say that Watching the Detectives is Cillian's only real foray into an out-and-out comedy. Unfortunately, this rom-com starring Lucy Liu isn't overly great - mainly because it is so insane. But Cillian still manages to be completely awesome as the lovesick puppy Neil, with his performance venturing into such over-the-top outlandishness that only he could possibly pull off. Plus, he plays my dream guy (he owns a video store, he knows lots about movies...what's not to like?) Hopefully he can get a better comedy soon, because I'd like to see the funny side of Cilly again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Conversation with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

I was one of the few people who actually watched Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Not by choice. When I was in my last year of primary school, our reward for doing road wardens was going down to the then-running (and then-extremely cold and incredibly gross) cinemas to watch that movie. Anyway, you're probably wondering why I'd watch a sequel, which stars my least favourite actor Dwayne Johnson. Two reasons: 1) The only decent thing out this week was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I've already seen and rewatched on Monday. I had to have a Tuesday Movie Night, and they always have to be filled with new movies. And I like to be in 'the know'. It was either this or Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. 2) When I was in Melbourne they had the premiere for it there. And I found out the day after. Seriously, I wasn't that far away from someone relatively famous like Josh Hutcherson. Instead, I think I was actually watching The Descendants. Hmpfh.

It seems a little weird that they'd make this sequel, considering I can't recall the first one ever being that successful. However, this one if pretty much just like the original: crap. Therefore making it fun material for a conversation. So hear ye go...

CHRISTOPHER: Ah, the mystery is back. I have a feeling that I should have brought my old mate Sherlock Holmes along for the ride...

C: Why are you taking a pause between every single word and pretending like you just discovered water for the first time?
J2: Because that's what everyone does for dramatic effect. It doesn't matter if the scene isn't actually that dramatic.

C: Has anyone ever told you that doing that is soooooo 1980s? 
J2: It is the year for nostalgia, isn't it?

C: That was last year.
J2: Well, it's never too late when you're Dwayne Johnson, is it?

C: If you say so. Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, he took the reins from Brendan Fraser in this one. How do you think that worked out?
J2: Pretty well. Dwayne's just the go-to guy for everything. Want him to look angry? He can do that. Want him to have a creepy smile? He can do that. Want him to wear a tutu? He. Can. Do. That. Want him to be a tooth fairy? He can indeed do that. Want him to ride some gigantic fake bees? He can do that. What can Brendan Fraser do? Wear a bit of leopard print fabric around his privates and swing from trees?

C: Never underestimate how handy it is to have that skill.
J2: Never underestimate how handy it is to be able to be a full grown, rather muscly, extremely masculine man wearing a tutu.

C: Anyway, apart from the absence of Brendan Fraser, what can we expect from you?
J2: Well, we don't go to the centre of the earth. This time we go to the...mysterious...island.

C: You really need to stop saying things so dramatically.
J2: You know it's cool. The...mysterious...island is a place of...mystery. Like tiny elephants. And flying things. And various big creatures. And Michael Caine.

C: Wait...Michael Caine is in this?
J2: It would appear so. We had to get people to see me somehow. I mean, Dwayne Johnson can't wear a tutu in every movie.

C: People seem to like Josh Hutcherson after The Hunger Games. Surely that could have worked to your advantage?
J2: Maybe people only like Josh Hutcherson when he's throwing bread at people and killing them.

C: I see you have yet another sequel coming out in 2014. What could possibly be in store for that one?
J2: More...dramatic...talking. Dwayne Johnson possibly wearing a tutu. Josh Hutcherson's love interest being Jennifer Lawrence. The Hunger Games being set on the moon. Possibly an entire musical of Dwayne singing along with his ukelele. A whole range of opportunities.

C: Maybe less Luis Guizman being a stupid guy who tells stupid jokes?
J2: Maybe. We're going to shift that character along to Dwayne.

What I got:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sometimes I Take Photos...

This is the third attempt at a post I've had tonight (writer's block has got me bad). It is a little sad that I've had to resort to showing you all some photos that I've taken, but I really don't have anything left in my little noggin. Anyway, these photos aren't the most professional things ever. As part of my photography course at school I got given a really flash camera, which has a habit of making things look good. None of them have been retouched (when I open Photoshop I just stare blankly at the hell does that thing work?!), and I'm only new to this kind of thing so don't expect mind-blowing pictures. Some photos turned out really good, so I'll share them with you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lame Trailer Clichés: They Don't Talk in Foreign Films

Due to racism (or something), we don't get many foreign films at Blockbuster, but some trailers for them occasionally pop up on the trailer disc. It seems that the trailer Gods have the same view of subtitles as Dannevirke does: subtitles are death. To solve that problem, they just don't let anyone talk in the trailers...or they throw in a few words here and there. A few examples:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Silence in a Noisy World

Film: The Artist
Year: 2011
Written and directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, Uggie.
Running time: 95 min.

It is interesting to watch a movie that was big in awards season a long time after the season drew to a close. The dust has settled, the naysayers are silenced as they wait for the next awards season biggie to pick on, the fan and the buzz fades away. As I write this review, it has been just under three months since The Artist won Best Picture at the Oscars. I would have loved to have seen this in the theatre but the fact that no-one knows where NZ is I was deprived of this chance. Which is a great shame. This year we have films like The Avengers and The Hunger Games being labelled as 'event' films, which brings everyone together at the multiplex and break records and the like. The Artist, a silent, black-and-white film deserved to be an 'event' film, too. Oscar or no Oscar, The Artist is a special film that brings a thing of the past to the present effortlessly. There's nothing gimmicky about it: the film is a heartfelt tribute to an era which I adore. And if I'm being completely honest with you, The Artist is the best chance I have of introducing that era to the people I know.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It Takes Guts to Make a Movie Like The Muppets

When was the last time you saw a film and thought: "it takes guts to make a movie like that."

The most recent example I can think of is Shame. I still haven't seen the film, but there seems to be a never-ending chorus of people singing the praises of how gutsy this film is. How it chose to explore sex addiction. How Michael Fassbender had to put everything on the line. It's true, it would take guts to make a movie like that, especially with how it wore it's NC-17 badge out and proud.

We live in a cinematic world where we praise how brave movies can be if they show already extreme things in a more extreme way. We all seem to like the cold hard truth. If things don't appear to be realistic, we instantly start bashing it. If things are too happy, we think they aren't that realistic. Look at this way: the latest teen hyped movie is all about young people killing each other. When we see people getting killed on screen it isn't a big deal. Curse words can make it into a kids movie without a second thought. Hell, kids movies have to be laced with adult humour, violence, even killing of people just to be deemed 'entertaining'.

Apparently, that's what we call 'being gutsy'.

At the beginning of the week, I rewatched The Muppets. Here's a movie where everything is so out and proud. And by that, I don't mean that the puppets all kill each other and one comes out as the felt creation standing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nothing is What it Seems.

Film: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Year: 2011
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, based on the book 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' by John le Carré.
Starring: Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, David Dencik, Simon McBurney.
Running time: 127 min.

In my English class at the moment we're doing a film study on The Shawshank Redemption. As much as I love the movie, the analysing of all the shots, lighting, sound blah blah blah is driving me nuts (it is interesting, but seeing the opening scene seven times is not my idea of fun). As I sat down to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy around three hours after I left my English class, I still had the whispers about camera techniques and the like bouncing around my head. And while I was watching Tomas Alfredson's first English film, I couldn't help but notice that he turned everything that I had been told in my English class upside down. The thing with The Shawshank Redemption is that the symbolism is always right in your face, directing everyone's line of thought in the exact same direction. Tinker Tailor is nothing like that. This is the spy world, remember, so nothing is ever what it seems. Tomas Alfredson realises that, and makes it in the most subtle - yet detailed - way that he possibly could. This is a film that would be hard to teach at schools.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #24

What I'm watching tonight...

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, finally, and Hugo, again. The Muppets is also out this week, which I watched (and loved) The Muppets again last night with my niece. I'm quite worried about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy since I hear it is quite dense and I'm really unintelligent, but I hope I like it. I've been waiting for it for too long.

Video of the week...

Gangster Squad trailer. What do we all think? I'm on the fence about it. Such a strange trailer. Still, pretty cast (and by that I only mean Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone).

Alex reviews Sound of My Voice, a movie which I'm quite excited to see after seeing Another Earth and falling in love with Brit Marling.

After looking at all the failings of cinema going, Scott shares 20 things he loves about going to cinemas. It makes me wish that I could go there more.

The LAMMYs are going full speed ahead, so check out the latest on them!

This week's podcast which accompanied me during class was The Matineecast, where Ryan and Andy (in his podcast debut) chat about The Avengers.

Sati looks at the visual parallels between Black Swan and Shame. I've not seen Shame yet, but this post is bloody amazing.

Nikhat celebrates my idol/second favourite director, Sofia Coppola's birthday with the ultimate list of her work. Fantastic stuff.

It seems Lesya quite liked Dark Shadows, which was literally in the dark shadow of The Avengers this weekend.

Mette looks at the fashion in (500) Days of Summer. Zooey Deschanel always gets to wear the coolest things.

Jessica looks at the sheer ridiculousness of Battle Royale, and how it is a lot funnier than it is scary.

Final word...
Happiest movie you've ever seen?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lame Trailer Clichés: Sexy Time I have your attention.

One thing that annoys me more than anything about the trailers I see at work is the fact that most of them have to feature sexy time. Even if they're not really huge parts of the film (and to be honest, when are they?). I may be the only one who gets annoyed by this (innocent girl right here), but jeez, it happens more times then it needs to.

Colombiana - Don't get your hopes up...what you see in the trailer is pretty much all you get in the movie. In fact, the 'romantic' strain in this movie is so unbelievably stupid that there's no reason why it should have been there in the first place. Still, amongst shots of an extremely skinny Zoe Saldana running everywhere with a gun is the sexy time. Oh, Hollywood.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Underrated Showcase Sundays: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

A movie that I love dearly, and have seen at least 20/30 times by now is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Surprisingly, very few people have seen this 1930's set comedy starring Frances McDormand as a down on her luck governess and Amy Adams as a budding starlet who takes her under her wing. It is a fairly basic comedy set over the course of a day as Gunievere Pettigrew (McDormand) helps Delysia LaFosse (Adams) deal with her three boyfriends: the naive stage producer Phil (Tom Payne), who she's only with to ensure she gets a part in his next production; the smarmy nightclub owner Nick (the ever brilliant Mark Strong) who owns the apartment she resides in; and Michael (Lee Pace), her piano player, who has just come out of prison and wants her to go to New York with him. There are a few clichés here and there, but the film culminates in such a beautiful way that you can't help but fall in love with it. And it is only fitting to highlight this scene since we've been analysing (and jeez do I hate analysing things) The Shawshank Redemption in class and both that film and this film use the song 'If I Didn't Care' - a song which has been stuck in my head for days now. I know The Shawshank Redemption may be the best film ever made (and it is a fantastic film), but I think Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day uses the song better. Anyway, there are a few spoilers here (since this is one of the last scenes of the film), but I needed it on my blog. Go watch the film now, if you haven't!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Best Friends, Social Trends and Occasional Murder (LAMB MOTM)

Film: Heathers
Year: 1988
Director: Michael Lehmann
Written by: Daniel Waters
Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, Kim Walker, Penelope Milford, Glenn Shadix, Lance Fenton, Patrick Labyorteaux.
Running time: 103 min.

For some reason or another, I prefer watching teenage based movies from the 80s/90s rather than the ones from today. Though the fashions may be dated, the still manage to speak volumes somehow. The teen movies from today shove technology down your throats in order to be seen as "spirit of the times" movie, also focusing on the quirks of the characters instead of telling you anything about the actual characters (see: Restless). But a movie like Heathers, no matter how convoluted and slightly strange the plot is, has a definitive message after 24 years. One that is best understood by teenagers. Except for the ones with their iPhone's right in their eyes. Because they don't really watch movies. They just update their Facebook statuses and say they're watching a movie.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Conversation with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Robert Downey Jr. is the man of the moment right now with The Avengers hulk smashing box office records everywhere (don't you love it when we cinema-goers are brought together by one particularly awesome movie?). So what would be better than to look back at his box office hit from last year (earlier this year, if we're going by NZ time), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows? I mean, it ain't no Avengers, but RDJ is still cool no matter what, right guys?

CHRISTOPHER: It has been a while since I've talked to a manly movie. I don't know why I always get saddled with the girly movies. 
SHERLOCK HOLMES 2: Is it because you give off a girly impression?

C: Eh?
SH2: Well, I've been observing your other conversations, and let's just say, you didn't fit the bill as a Greek God, you lost a duel with a ginger cat who wears shoes, and you somehow convinced New Year's Eve that it's sequel should be based around Queen's Birthday. Does that not strike you as a little girly?

C: I guess your observations make you a super detective then, huh?
SH2: I'm knee-deep in the single most important case of my career.

C: What, investigating my suspected girly-ness?
SH2: Yes. The second is stopping the collapse of the Western civilisation. The third is being a movie worthy of Robert Downey Jr's awesomeness.

C: Ah, I imagine that is quite hard. 
SH2: I don't know how The Avengers did it. Something I should observe next, I suspect.

C: You mentioned preventing the collapse of the Western civilisation. What's that all about?
SH2: You see, Professor Moriarty is under the impression that he can just take down the Western civilisation and get away with it. But not without the help of a certain Sherlock Holmes, his long-suffering associate Dr. Watson, his brother Mycroft and a gypsy named Sim. 

C: From my observations (see, I have some of my own), Sim is played by Noomi Rapace. Wasn't she the original girl with the dragon tattoo? Couldn't she just have figured everything out herself?
SH2: No, you idiot. First of all, Noomi Rapace isn't going to be the girl with the dragon tattoo forever. Second of all, she doesn't have a dragon tattoo. I...checked. Finally, the girl with the dragon tattoo was good with computer hacking. The only hacking I know of is taking an axe to something. And I have a gun for that, so there you go.

C: Alright, then...
SH2: Plus, the girl with the dragon tattoo has nothing on a certain Sherlock Holmes!

C: Okay, I get it. So you are the sequel of a semi popular 2009 movie. How do you feel that you stack up compared to that one?
SH2: I appear to have a lot more slow motion.

C: What if people don't particularly take to slow motion?
SH2: Then they might not really appreciate me. But they'll probably appreciate Robert Downey Jr's awesomeness. Even in drag.

C: I'm sure not having Mark Strong as your villain is a great disservice.
SH2: We tried to get him back and just wear a prosthetic mask, but we realised that was just too Mission Impossible.

C: But Mission Impossible is actually okay.
SH2: There's no impossible missions for a certain Sherlock Holmes!

C: Apart from maybe being a movie worthy of Robert Downey Jr's awesomeness?
SH2: That is going to be the subject of the sequel. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Not Being Robert Downey Jr's Shadow. 

What I got:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

For Your Consideration: Cinematic Paradox for the 2012 Lammys

Okay...let me tell you a little story. Last year I half-heartedly put my name forward to get a LAMMY nomination. Let's just say, I wasn't expecting a nomination. Down the other side of the track, I got two nominations: Best New LAMB and Best Rating System. That was a pretty big deal for me. Then, one morning, while I was recuperating from getting my tonsils out, I saw that my blog had been voted as the Best New LAMB for 2011.

That. Was. Huge.

To most of you, these blog awards are just for fun, and that's fine. But come on, we all like to be recognised that way. When I won the award, I basically leaped out of bed and started screaming before I realised that the tonsillectomy didn't leave my throat in such a good condition. And you know what? It may sound stupid, but when people in little old Dannevirke found out about this win they went wild. I still get people to this day congratulating me on that win, even though it happened nearly a year ago.

Anyway, I don't like talking myself up, because most of what I'm about to say is probably untrue. But here are the categories that I'd like to be considered for and why:

Best Blog Okay, I know I probably won't get a nomination here but I would really like one. A little backstory on why I should get a nomination here: I'm 16, I come from a tiny town in NZ, I watch movies other people my age haven't heard of, I blog just about every night even though I'm exhausted from school (seriously, I'm working myself to exhaustion here). Oh, and I got a call from Paramount about something I wrote. Not meaning to gloat, but how many people - 16 year old girls from NZ, no less - does that happen to every day? Exactly. I know I haven't got anything on those super sites, but pleeeeeeeeeease consider me for this!

Best Design I designed it all myself. I think it looks cute. It looks good on an iPad (I checked).

Best Movie Reviewer I admit, I'm not your traditional reviewer - I like to get a bit more personal about my movies. Just see my review of War Horse.

Best Running Feature The 'Conversation' posts are always fun to write, and so are the Lame Trailer Clichés, if I ever get ideas for them.

Best Rating System Because it has a rating from The Room.

Best Festival/Awards Coverage It doesn't have anything on everyone else's coverage, but come on, who didn't enjoy spending time with Fassy, Loki and Owen when awards season was full speed ahead?

Funniest Writer I'm probably not even that funny. But it has been said to me that the Conversation posts are funny, so I'm putting my name forward for this anyway.

And yeah, as my poster says, you should vote for the 16 year old New Zealander! Pleeeeeeeeeeease?!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #23

What I'm watching tonight...

This is one of those weeks where I'm watching everything that is coming out. I love those weeks. Last night I saw the slightly bizarre Restless (which would have been better if I wasn't so sleepy) and my beloved War Horse. BTW, since our shop somehow didn't get War Horse posters shipped to us, if someone comes across one, pleeeeeeeeeease send me one! Like, the big posters. Please please please? Anyway, I'm watching Straw Dogs tonight, just because I love Alexander Skarsgard (I haven't seen the original, though, but I'll do that), and also Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, since it is the biggest release of this week. And yeah, I'll be all watched out by the end of tonight.

Video of the week...

Just because I'm in love with Tom Hiddleston at the moment. Between this and watching Midnight in Paris, The Avengers and War Horse within a week of each other, I've become more certain that Hiddles is the awesomest person on this earth. Plus, he had the exact same reaction to Warrior as me.

Navigation stuff...
As you may have noticed, the sidebar has been tinkered with a bit (but I'm pretty sure it looks horrible on any browser that isn't Google Chrome). You'll find buttons that lead you to each of the features, my obsessions, the blog of the month, and my most anticipated for 2012. The other new feature on the sidebar is '5 films to check out in May', which happen to be Me and Orson Welles, Red Riding trilogy, Strange Days, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans and Tyrannosaur. No, these movies have nothing in common. These are just random recommendations of films you probably haven't seen, and May is the time when you should give them a watch. You don't have to, but if you do, let me know. Also, let me know what you think of the revamped sidebar.

Speaking of May being a month to watch a certain of selection of movies, Tyler has announced that he'll be watching a whole lot of classic movies. It has been over a year since my classic movie marathon, I need to get some more in my life.

The Avengers finally made it to America...gosh, you guys are so behind! Anyway, here's a selection of reviews:
-Reel Insight (doubleheader review)
-Rambling Film
-Surrender to the Void
-And So it Begins...
-Eternity of Dream
-Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob

Alex wonders why there aren't any female cinematographers. Why is that?

Nikhat gives some love to the incredibly awesome In Bruges.

Mette embraces some filmic poetry. I hate poetry, but they're a fun way to write reviews of movies.

Accompanying my ICT period today was Reel Insight's podcast episode about Scarlett Johansson. They also plugged me at the beginning of the episode, so thanks a million for that!

Andy starts his female film director focus on Sofia Coppola's brilliant The Virgin Suicides.

Final word...
Favourite female director?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lame Trailer Clichés: From the People Who Did This...

Okay, this is more of a lame marketing cliché. We all know that name dropping gets you places. And I don't know about you, but whenever I see the words "From Christopher Nolan" or "A Film by Steven Spielberg" I'm instantly hooked. Mind you, 50% of people who watch trailers knows who Spielberg is. However, some people take name-dropping the entirely wrong way, and we have lazy things like "From the Producers of..." or "From the Makers of...", when they don't really add anything to the movie that they're trying to see. I mean, come on, who went to see Battleship because it was "From Hasbro the company that brought you Transformers"? Oh that's right, you Americans don't have it yet. And you suspectedly have good taste.

How about some examples, guys?

Battleship - Because only Hasbro would make an entire movie based on a board game.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Underrated Showcase Sundays - Me and Orson Welles

Time for a confession: I love movies set in the 30's/40's, and backstage dramas. That's exactly what Me and Orson Welles is. It is set behind the scenes of Orson Welles' (played by Christian McKay) 'ground-breaking' stage production of Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre in 1937. Where exactly does former High School Musical star Zac Efron fit into all of this? He plays Richard, a teenager who convinces Welles that he is good enough to be given a part in the play, and thanks to some ukulele playing skills he gets the role, despite the fact he's still in school. As with most backstage dramas, Richard is opened up to a world of colourful theatrical characters, which just so happens to include Joseph Cotten (James Tupper), and an older woman Sonja (Claire Danes), who he ends up falling in love with.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Film Like a Migraine, But One You Can Appreciate

Film: Tyrannosaur
Year: 2011
Written and directed by: Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell, Ned Dennehy, Samuel Bottomley, Sally Carman, Sian Breckin.
Running time: 92 min.
This film will be released on DVD by Madman Entertainment on June 14th in New Zealand.

Let me be straightforward from the get-go: Tyrannosaur is not a feel good movie. It is not the kind that one can easily crack the faintest of smiles at. I've heard it said many times before that the cheeriest scene in this movie is a funeral scene. Which is absolutely true. This film is exactly like a cracking migraine. It crushes your brain for the entire time, leaving you completely still and transfixed on the screen as if the slightest movement could make the migraine worse. Your eyes are forced to see things they don't want to see, and they want to shift out of focus so that things don't turn out so bad. While the film is heaving this mass amount of pressure onto your head that ensures the most uncomfortable viewing ever, it rips your heart out and holds it in this dark cube, where happiness is about ten planets away. Tyrannosaur may be capable of all of those different, horrible feelings, but I can promise that it is a very good film. It isn't the kind that you can easily sum up as being a "film that I enjoyed". It is a film that I "endured and appreciated".

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Child of 1995

Okay, I’m gonna go right ahead and say it: 1995 wasn’t a very exciting year for film. I mean, when a film like Braveheart wins Best Picture you know it wasn’t a good year. It is probably because I haven’t seen that many films from 1995 – this list of five is nearly everything I’ve seen. If we were talking 1994 or 1996, everything would have been much better. Jeez, Mum and Dad, why’d I have to be born in such a dull year? Here’s my top five, anyway:

5. Dead Man Walking
I watched this one a couple of nights ago and I really liked it. It is one of those interesting ‘good vs. evil’ movies that I like to see, but this one kind of melds the two together in a way that is always relevant and resonant, and particularly great to see on screen. Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn were great in their roles, too.
4. Before Sunrise
I prefer Before Sunset since it is a lot more mature and rhythmic, but it would be nothing without Before Sunrise. It is such a sweet and lovely film, leaving you wanting more but not needing it. Whoever said romantic movies suck obviously haven’t seen this or the sequel. Just the dialogue alone is enough reason to make you take back that statement, and then the lovely company of Jesse and Celine.
3. Strange Days
This was a movie I miraculously found at Blockbuster right in the midst of my Ralph Fiennes obsession, and I’m extremely happy to now have it in my DVD collection. Kathryn Bigelow’s cyberpunk sci-fi flick written by James Cameron is extremely awesome and kick-ass, plus, Fiennes is at his best (if we weren’t counting Schindler’s List, of course). Bigelow’s got mad talent, too. Most of the time I couldn’t believe I was watching a film directed by a woman. This is the kind of film I want to make.
2. Se7en
It has been a while since I saw this, but like most of David Fincher’s films, it was completely awesome. Can anybody make a serial killer thriller as good as him? I don’t think so. I loved the ingenious blend of obsession themes, the seven deadly sins and the violent and graphic content, which is done how only Fincher can do it. And every film is instantly better off if Morgan Freeman is in it.
1. Toy Story
After all of those adult themed movies about serial killers and rape (and of course the adult romance of Before Sunrise), I’ve chosen to top my list with the sweetest little kids movie ever: Toy Story. Okay, so it isn’t nearly as good as Toy Story 3, but it is one of those great movies for kids that doesn’t try and patronise them with singing chipmunks. I blame this movie for making me wish that my toys came alive while I was asleep. Who knows...maybe they did? As an older child, though, I feel gguilty for leaving all of my toys behind. Only a Pixar film could do that.

I can’t really add three cool people who were born in 1995, since there are so few of them thus far, so how about a list of five interesting film-related things that happened in 1995?

Nicolas Cage’s Oscar winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas was released
I couldn’t really say that he won an Oscar since that technically happened in 1996, but how amazing is it to think that 16 years ago he was capable of a good performance? I admit, I’m quite harsh on Nic. However, his performance in Leaving Las Vegas, as an alcoholic looking to drink himself to death in sin city, is nothing short of amazing. Now you’re most likely to find him in crap-fests like Season of the Witch and Trespass, being far crazier than he needs to be.
Mel Gibson’s Oscar winning Braveheart was released
I find it funny that two actors who have their careers down the gurgler now both managed to win Oscars for their efforts in 1995. Mel Gibson didn’t win for his piss-poor Scottish accent in Braveheart (a film which I had to watch in class and became the only one who didn’t like it all that much), but his directing skills. And now what does he do? It would seem that he just yells at people.
Those kids from Let the Right One In were born
Hardly anyone who has achieved fame by now was born in 1995. In fact, probably the most famous 1995 babies were the kids from the awesome Swedish vampire horror Let the Right One In: Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson. Hopefully these talented young ones have some more projects lined up!
The highest grossing NC-17 film was released
I for one really don’t get the NC-17 rating that America has (the rules they have around it are so stupid, you guys really need to calm down), especially after the rating was slapped on Shame. One film that did better than any NC-17 film, though, was 1995’s Showgirls, which is also often said to be one of the worst films of all-time. Mind you, it is the only NC-17 to be given a wide release in America, ever. So there you go.
Michael Bay had his debut with Bad Boys
The explosions guy every cinephile loves to hate first touched cinematic soil in 1995. Just a question: did everyone hate him back then? Or was it my fault for coming into this world and bringing him into your cinematic universe? I don’t know, even though I do loathe his idea of a ‘film’ I must say, I enjoy taking the piss out of them. Apart from Transformers. I thought that one was kind of awesome. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Woman in Power, A Film Out of Control

Film: The Iron Lady
Year: 2011
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Written by: Abi Morgan
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloyd, Richard E. Grant, Roger Allam, Julian Wadham.
Running time: 105 min.

The Avengers is receiving a lot of buzz lately, but what about all the films that came before it? Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Iron Man 2...I've seen them all. Somehow, after all this time, Meryl Streep's entry into the saga, The Iron Lady totally slipped my attention. After seeing it, I realise how it fit in: it is an interesting prequel to Iron Man, as Meryl Streep plays a woman who could very well be Iron Man's mother. It could also work as a sequel to Captain America, where we find out what really happened to Steve Rogers after he crashed, and his brain was taken over by Alzheimer's which is why he didn't know that he was asleep for so long. And it totally fits in with Thor, because it used as many crooked angle shots as Kenneth Branagh did with his tale of the Norse God. So I'm shocked to see that Meryl isn't on the poster for The Avengers. Oh...wait. She plays a real life person who was the opposite of a superhero. I never would have guessed from the film.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #22

What I'm watching tonight...

Just We Bought a Zoo, literally the only thing out this week. It is like a calm before the storm...there is SO MUCH coming out this month you have no idea. And I guess I'll be watching the last 45 minutes of Dead Man Walking tonight because I felt a little exhausted after seeing Tyrannosaur.

Video of the week...


Remember my post about The Cabin in the Woods going straight to DVD here? Well, there's a petition going. Please sign it. Even though it doesn't affect you, but still.

Tyler reviews one of the finest old film noirs, Sweet Smell of Success.

My Filmviews has started the Ten Best Actresses Relay Race, with a pretty brilliant list. It is going to be every inch as difficult as the actors one!

Kai looks at the top five great films that are too depressing to see again. Once Were Warriors, a.k.a. New Zealand's favourite film (I wish I was joking about that) is on that list. Wow.

Four reviews of The Avengers before the storm of all you Americans (now you know how I feel! you had to wait!) see it: Being Norma Jeane, Cinematic Corner, Aziza's Picks, and "...let's be splendid about this..."

Brittani reviews the coolest movie of the cool, The Adventures of Tintin.

The Kid in the Front Row is at it again, talking with Anna of Defiant Success. This is such a cool series.

Inspired Ground is holding a cool series where she talks to someone about their movie influences. Cherokee chose the amazing Blue Valentine as hers, which as you imagine, produces a very beautiful post.

And finally, there's a list of the ten best Robert Downey Jr. performances on Anomalous Material. Where would we be without him?

Final word...
Who is your favourite character featured in The Avengers? Mine is Agent Phil Coulson. No jokes. He's the best.


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