Thursday, May 26, 2011

6 ways to celebrate...the 45th year of Helena Bonham Carter.

  1. Fall in love in Florence. 
  2. Be an ape.
  3. Be a "Tourist".
  4. Dream of a life by the sea.
  5. Give the most memorable performance as a supporting character in a eight-film series.
  6. Shock Jennifer Ehle.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Essential cinema.

A stunning portrayal of a devastating moment in the recent history of London. Heart-wrenching.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Emotions via Amy Adams.

Blissfully happy! That is how I feel after watching the first trailer for The Muppets.

There is so much to get excited about...Amy Adams' reaction to Jason Segel's lack of anniversary plans, Miss Piggy as Anna Wintour/Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, the selection of musical numbers, the familiar faces of The Muppets. Even if the film ends up becoming the trite romantic-comedy the trailer parodies for the first 50 seconds, I will be very happy. (Obviously this has the potential to be much more!).

Monday, May 23, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 15

Day 15: A Film That Depicts Your Life...Cinema Paradiso
In truth I'm not sure I've ever seen a film that I've felt reflected my own but I have had many opportunities to share beliefs and characteristics with an array of characters and cinematic worlds. No film reflects this better than my film of choice: Cinema Paradiso.

I am fascinated by cinema. I celebrate cinema. I am committed to cinema. And I share all of these attributes with this film which so beautifully expresses its adoration for the form. I'm Young Toto with an enthusiastic interest in film. I'm Alfredo with the desire to share film. And I would like to be Old Toto who makes film.

I just wish I had the film's score as the soundtrack to my life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pause.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A moment to cherish.

"It's when I met Peter that everything changed for me. It was as if the heavens showered with gold. Finally somebody loved me like I loved them. And for the first time I felt accepted in my life. Completely."

The only moment where the film resonated with me without using the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. I was disappointed but one moment of bliss is better than none.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cannes Excitement Fury Redemption.

This is an image that will help heal my interest in the Cannes film festival. As this is a blog where Lars Von Trier is worshiped and Kirsten Dunst is considered desperately underrated, there was always going to be a celebration but the controversy surrounding the director and his film over the past few days has made this an even greater event.

The news that Von Trier has been banned from the festival roused a passionate frustration I rarely feel, and my disappointment/fury towards the festival's board was mighty (there is only one way to describe their reaction: idiotic). Thankfully this image suggests the festival's jury shared my reaction and celebrated the film despite its unwarranted controversy. More importantly, it has shifted the attention to the actual film and an incredibly talented actress. How could I not rejoice?

Hopefully I will agree with their decision when I see Melancholia in late September. And perhaps an Oscar nomination could follow? (Doubtful). 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gratuitous Actress Lusting.

I love when three talented female actors are given three juicy roles within the same film. Each will play a witch that will add conflict and spice to James Franco's Wizard of Oz in Sam Raimi's Oz, the Great and Powerful.  

Despite being produced by Disney (who brought us a similar remake/re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland), I can't help but be intrigued.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cannes Excitement.4

It is impossible for me not to be excited about a new Lars Von Trier project. He is one of the most fascinating filmmakers and - although I am most definitely not a fan - Antichrist showed an unexpected intention to stray from his Dogme 95 Manifesto, something that he will continue with with his science-fiction drama Melancholia. I'm still quite shocked that this is a genre he has taken a shine to.

The film has received a warm welcome and has been surprisingly less divisive than his previous work (thankfully his personality ensured there would be some controversy surrounding the project), which suggests fans of the director have a lot to be excited for!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cannes Excitement.3

I love the emergence of a new and talented starlet of film. And Cannes 2011 seems to be celebrating them more than the festival has done in recent years. I've already lusted over Emily Browning and her celebrated performance in the underwhelming Sleeping Beauty, now there are two more women joining her with similar celebration.

The response to The Tree of Life seems generally muted compared to the excitement the film has been building for months but Jessica Chastain is still being celebrated in many quarters and with a second film to be screened (Jeff Nichol's Take Shelter) alongside her breathtaking presence (she has a gorgeous smile) she would seem set to make her mark on the film world in the coming months...or she could easily disappear. 
Earlier this year I predicted that Elizabeth Olson would find herself Oscar nominated for her performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene and despite critics finding the film largely unimpressive, Olson's work remains  a celebrated force that will probably be a stepping stone in her career rather than her breakthrough.

I have my fingers crossed for all three women.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Working Boy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Who's that girl?

On the 1st of June I will be spending an evening with Kristin Scott Thomas in Betrayal. Yay!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cannes Excitement.2

Today two of my anticipated films from the festival were screened to those pesky journalists. (How I wish I was one right now!)

We Need to Talk About Kevin is the first critical darling of the Cannes festival 2011...and while this is unsurprising (they love Lynne Ramsay and everyone seems to love Tilda Swinton) it is incredibly exciting. Ramsay won me over with Morvern Callar, one of the most powerful pieces of film I have seen, while Swinton is mesmerising in every film I've seen her in. Their partnership was also going to be interesting but now that it is being universally praised as "superb" I feel confident in being very excited to see it...


...unlike Sleeping Beauty which did not entice the critics as I predicted. Although diminished, I can't help but be excited about this fairytale being played against the world of prostitution. Especially as everyone seems in agreement that Emily Browning gives a terrific central performance. I so want this film to be good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 14

Day 14: A Film No One Expected You To Like...TRON: Legacy

Apparently it was a spectacle film for young boys...yet I was mesmerised.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cannes Excitement.1

What more could the Cannes Film Festival ask for than having one of its most celebrated auteurs opening the festival with a film set in the capital of their home country? Even if this will be one of Woody Allen's poorer efforts (which does not seem to be the case), they have probably wet themselves with glee.

I know I'm about to. Along with Midnight In Paris there are many films I'm going to enjoy hearing about in the next few days...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 13

Day 13: A Guilty Pleasure...Overboard
I am not an admirer of the term 'guilty pleasure', a word that automatically degrades a film as unintelligible escapism. I feel more guilty for the pleasure derived from watching, say, Nicole Kidman execute a community at the end of Dogville than for a movie like Overboard, where the narrative is less sophisticated and every action of each character can be premeditated. As such I will continue this post with a celebration of the reigning king of the latter style of filmmaking, Garry Marshall.

This is the man who brought Julia Roberts (in Pretty Woman) and Anne Hathaway (in The Princess Diaries) to our attention, brought together many wonderfully romantic conclusions (and arguably too many in Valentine's Day) and gave Bette Midler this cinematic moment. I know my life would be a duller place without him. His most outlandish film - and undoubtedly my favourite - is Overboard; a far-fetched tale of one woman's amnesia becoming the catalyst for the change in her outlook on life. I can understand why many would disregard it as fluff (or worse), but I think it is a joy.

There is nothing highly original. This is a tale of a woman who is forced to learn the importance of family and home through the discovery of true love. But it is the combination of Marshall's fondness of the fairytale formula, the charisma of the leads (Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell) and a script that marries the screwball comedy with the modern romantic-comedy that make this film so blissful.

This may be escapism but it is definitely not stupid.

Runners-up: Letters to Juliet, Mamma Mia!, Under the Tuscan Sun, While You Were Sleeping

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Smile.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 12

Day 12: A Film by Your Least Favourite Director...Chicago
Instead of attacking Rob Marshall for the numerous qualities I dislike about his film directing, I thought it would be much better to highlight what I have liked about his work. And this has been the handful of show-stopping performances he has generated through his first three films...with Chicago being the obvious choice.

Each member of that cast soar in a project that is rare within Hollywood. These characters, especially through the presentations of the musical sequences, want to sell themselves and their story...they are desperate and adore attention. Marshall, being a musical theater director, obviously helped to put this aspect at the forefront of the film and, in doing so, created one of the most enjoyable films of the noughties.

It is still a shame that Bob Fosse never had the opportunity to turn this into a film himself and that each musical sequence within the mind of Roxie (Renee Zellweger), but if wasn't for Marshall and his idea for the latter then we may not have seen a film version at all.

Runner-up: American Beauty (Sam Mendes)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Gratuitous Actress Lusting.

Isabelle Huppert is not a failure and I would like to share everything with her (yes, everything!). Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Geoff Andrew, Head of Film Programme at the BFI Southbank, who had the task of interviewing the actress...he was frustratingly ill equipped to engage in a stimulating conversation with the extremely intelligent Huppert (her disregard of Andrew's clumsy interpretation of the editing process was met with a crude "whatever", he should have been shot on the spot).

Huppert was modest, witty and - most deliciously - celebratory of cinema. She is in love with what she does.

She is as spellbinding in person as she is on screen.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Who's that girl?

The BFI will be presenting this woman with a Fellowship and I will be there to celebrate the event.

I'm excited.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Top of the class. Characters of Star Wars.

10. Sy Snootles
Episode VI
Controversially, it is the 1997 version of The Return of the Jedi that sealed Sy Snootles' place here. The improvements with technology allowed George Lucas to realise his vision of the palace of Jabba the Hut, granting Snootles the opportunity to be the diva of the Star Wars universe. And her "Uh-oh" to the dismiss of Oola is comic perfection.

9. Wicket Wystri Warrick
Episode VI
The inquisitive, brave and incredibly cute Wicket is one of the most entertaining characters in the film series. And definitely one of the most adorable to watch.

8. Princess Leia Organa
Episode IV - VI
Strong female characters are always attractive to me, particularly when they are royalty. Still, Leia is a rather dull creation until the progression of her relationship Han Solo into that of an old-fashioned love/hate romance in The Empire Strikes Back. Blissful!

7. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin
Episode IV
Tarkin existed was the elderly British man with an evil sneer before Emperor Palpatine. I have always found the coldness in his interaction with Leia in A New Hope shocking, particularly when I was younger. How dare he make an agreement only to break it to suit himself. He may be the most evil of the Star Wars creations.

6. Mon Mothma
Episode VI
The emotional intensity of Mothma's speech in The Return of the Jedi deserves a movie all of its own. Someone please make that happen (and let that person not be George Lucas).

5. Han Solo
Episode IV - VI
Everyone loves a scoundrel, and Han is one of cinema's greatest. Unlike the much less interesting Luke Skywalker, Han's success can only be attributed to chance and luck...as can be his misfortune. We cannot help but root for such a man. He is also the roguish romantic lead and his attempts to charm Leia creates many moments for audiences to swoon.

4. Yoda
Episode I - III, V, VI
How could you not appreciate a character as wise, witty and weird as Yoda? He has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and his turmoil leading up to the destruction of the Jedi community is heartbreaking. I'm still not sure how I feel about his acrobatic tendencies in the prequels, but they cannot diminish this odd and wonderful creation.

3. R2D2
Episode I - VI
Beep beep.

2. Emperor Palpatine
Episode I - III, V, VI
I seem to be obsessed with villains, and Emperor Palpatine is a vicious example...but what I most value about this character is his ability (as played by Ian McDiarmid) to raise the standard of the prequels while too many other aspects seemed to be failing. I will be forever grateful.

1. C-3PO
Episode I - VI
In truth there was no competition for the top spot, C-3PO is a neurotic wimp and I will always respond to such personalities (take from that what you will). His constant stress is as endearing as it is effective for each of the narratives, it can be utilised as a source of humour, suspense or drama. He is the perfect supporting character. And the only choice for my favourite Star Wars character.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

6 ways to celebrate...the 82nd birthday of Audrey Hepburn


  1. Ditch William Holden for Humphrey Bogart. While wearing one of the greatest dresses in film history.
  2. Go to Tiffany's
  3. Follow in the footsteps of Marilyn Monroe and sing "Happy Birthday, Mr President" to John F. Kennedy.
  4. Go to Ascot and embarrass yourself. With a BIG hat.
  5. Be terrorized by Alan Arkin.
  6. Be sorely missed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Relationship advice from...Samantha Jones.

As far as I'm concerned, the test of a good relationship is...are you like this?
...or like this?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 11

Day 11: A Film By Your Favourite Director...Dogville
It is impossible to commit to one director as my favourite, but there is no denying my fascination with the films of Lars von Trier. I will always remember my reaction to the first film I saw of his (Dancer in the Dark). It was past midnight and I felt haunted by the abrupt conclusion to the final song of Selma (Bjork); I was appalled and exhilarated. This is a reaction I have had to all but one (Antichrist) of his films, most powerfully with Dogville. His strength, I feel, lies within his ability to entice an audience to naively step into a world that exaggerates the 'evils' that exist within our own society.

When Grace (Nicole Kidman) arrives at the town, we are given enough bait to believe that her presence could change the community...before the narrative instead explores the abuse of power the community hold over her (a typical von Trier theme). Poor Grace never stood a chance, and neither did the audience. We are engrossed by the innocent ambitions of the protagonist, as with Hollywood film, and are easy pry for the vicious events that we suffer along with Grace (and each of von Trier's leading ladies). Dogville, however, offers the audience a celebratory moment where Grace has her revenge on the community...but this may be a conclusion as disturbing as the hanging of Selma; do we really want to rejoice in the death of the antagonists (which include children and elders)? With the recent death of Osama Bin Laden this is quite a potent question. And one that demands many more to be asked.

Disturbing yet intoxicating, the work of von Trier is cinema at its most thrilling. And I am sure it will continue with Melancholia later this year.

Runners-up: Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar), Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 09-10

Day 09: A Film With Your Favourite Actor (Male)...A Streetcar Named Desire

There are few male actors that I am fascinated by as I have a huge preference for women on screen. One attribute that seems present in each of the male performers I respond to is unpredictability. This is, arguably, most true of Marlon Brando whose actions on and off screen always seem unpredictable.

As Stanley Kowalski, I am gripped by Brando's every action; he may be the loosest canon in film. Brando embeds each and every moment with Vivien Leigh's Blanch DuBois with unease...she is incredibly brave/naive/stupid to think she could manipulate him as she has done countless men in her past. It is incredible to watch. He is mesmerizing.

Runner-up: Plein Soleil (Alain Delon)

Day 10: A Film With Your Favourite Actor (Female)...I've Loved You So Long

I imagine there are many actors, both male and female, who would love to bottle Kristin Scott Thomas' ability to convey emotion through an incredibly subtle use of her body. In one word, it is breathtaking. As the grieving Juliette in I've Loved You So Long, Thomas uses this ability to perfection with a delicate performance of an incredibly complex character whose ambition to grieve eternally is disrupted by the reintroduction of her watchful sister.

No performance has remained so vividly in my memory.