Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Do you believe...?"

I do.

After three days of production, the shoot of my first short film has wrapped. This is a project that means a great deal to me and it was exhilarating to see it not only come to life but to have so many people engaged with the material: I hope we're onto a winner. Also, we stuck to our schedule and we are under budget. A success? So far...

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Now I know we're not in Kansas"

Tomorrow will be the first production day of my producing debut. I found the script for the short film back in April, nurtured the story with some very talented people, and have a cast / crew of enthusiastic bodies who are as smitten by the story as I am. I am exhilarated. This is the sort of event that I would have spent my childhood dreaming about.

I just hope the end result is as a good as we are all aiming for.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

10 thoughts on...Bridesmaids.

1. I think Bridesmaids may contain the cutest puppies in film history. I could be very wrong but they are so very adorable. I want nine.
2. The trailer hinted that this was going to have some crude moments...but I'm not sure I expected them to be as bad as they were. I did laugh but now I feel rather disgusted with myself. I'm never going to look at a sink in the same way again.
3. I want a simple wedding.
4. Rose Byrne is delicious. And the costume designer deserves an Oscar nomination for the outfits she wears. Perfection! Particularly that first dress: that got a huge gasp from the audience.
5. There are many, many moments of hilarity but these felt undermined by the determination to milk each sequence. I know I'm in the minority with this reaction but it slowed the film and damaged its flow.
6. As much as I enjoyed Melissa McCarthy's performance, she was the one obvious link between this and The Hangover. Zach Galifianakis is a too obvious inspiration for this character.
7. Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson are a fantastic duo. More please!
8. Chris O'Dowd is the most lovable romantic lead since Lee Pace in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. How Kristin Wiig didn't run off with him once their characters meet is beyond me. I am also very happy that this will be giving Irish men a very good reputation. (I hope).
9. I want to watch Away We Go again. Such a great film.
10. I hope there is no Bridesmaids 2. I enjoyed this very much but there is no material for a sequel here...despite the huge box-office it has conjured.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"How did you get over it?"

"One day about a month ago, I really hit bottom. Ya know I just felt that in a Godless universe I didn't wanna go on living. Now I happen to own this rifle which I loaded, believe it or not, and I pressed it to my forehead. And I remember thinking, 'I'm gonna kill myself'. Then I thought, 'What if I'm wrong, what if there is a God? I mean, after all nobody really knows that.' But then I thought, 'No, maybe is not good enough: I want certainty or nothing.' And I remember very clearly, the clock was ticking and I was sitting there frozen with the gun to my head, debating whether to shoot."


" All of a sudden the gun went off. I had been so tense my finger squeezed the trigger inadvertently. But I was perspiring so much the gun had slid off my forehead and missed me. Suddenly the neighbours were pounding on the door, and I dunno the whole scene was just pandemonium. I ran to the door. I didn't know what to say. I was embarrassed and confused and my mind was racing a mile a minute. And I just knew one thing: I had to get out of the house, I had to just get out in the fresh air and clear my head." 


"And I remember very clearly I walked the streets, I walked and walked. I didn't know what was going through my mind, it all seemed so violent and unreal to me. I wandered for a long time on the Upper West Side, it must have been hours. My feet hurt, my head was pounding, and I had to sit down. I went into a movie house. I didn't know what was playing or anything, I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts and be logical and put the world back into rational perspective. And I went upstairs to the balcony, and I sat down, and the movie was a film that I'd seen many times in my life since I was a kid. And I always loved it. I'm watching these people up on the screen and I started getting hooked on the film. I started to feel, how can you think of killing yourself, I mean isn't it so stupid? Look at all the people up there on the screen: they're real funny, and what if the worst is true? What if there is no God and you only go around once and that's it. Well, ya know, don't you wanna be part of the experience? You know, what the hell it's not all a drag. And I'm thinking to myself, 'Jeez, I should stop ruining my life searching for answers I'm never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts'. And after who knows, I mean maybe there is something, nobody really knows. I know maybe it is a very slim reed to hang your whole life on, but that's the best we have." 


"And then I started to sit back, and I actually began to enjoy myself."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

10 thoughts on...Potiche followed by a Q&A by Catherine Deneuve and Francois Ozon

1. Catherine Deneuve exercising as directed by Francois Ozon is one of the most entertaining opening sequences in film. The film also may have one of the most entertaining closing sequences also...
2. The score by Philippe Rombi is blissful! He had already secured a very special place in my memory for his work on Love Me If You Dare. I need to invest some more time into this composer.
3. I never want to have a daughter.
4. Every film should have a musical sequence. And they should be all as good as this.
5. Deneuve believes that there are gays everywhere. And she was definitely right about tonight's screening.
6. Deneuve does not like Potiche to be compared to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Dancer in the Dark or Margaret Thatcher.
7. I need to delve into Ozon's previous work. If they're as good as this and 8 Women then I'm in for many treats!
8. The woman who persisted with her questioning of Deneuve's opinion on extra marital affairs was unbearable...
9. ...but not as awful as another woman who claimed that Ozon was "inexperienced". She deserved a slap.
10. According to Deneuve, if Potiche was set in the UK the comedy would be replaced by struggle and unhappiness. She is completely right (as I'm sure is almost always the case). See this film as soon as you get a chance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 17

Day 17: Your Favourite Drama Film...Billy Elliot
"Drama is like a plate of meat and potatoes, comedy 
is rather the dessert, a bit like meringue." - Woody Allen

And such is how I will describe 'Drama' as a genre: it presents a direct confrontation that resonates within the social context of the audience. And there is one film that automatically springs to mind when I think of the genre in this way, Billy Elliot.

As a young boy facing similar obstacles to the titular protagonist, Billy Elliot was a treasured film of my adolescence. In particular, the relationship between Billy (Jamie Bell) and his father, Jackie (Gary Lewis - regrettably underrated here!!), is as beautifully judged as any child/parent relationship onscreen. Their disconnect is severely felt and Jackie's gradual acceptance of his son is an understandably complex journey. 

As corny as it may sound, this film presented a story that echoed obstacles I feared - e.g. aspirations being too high for my rural location, expectations of my family, etc. - and gave me an opportunity to think more openly about them. There aren't many films I can say that about, and this definitely felt like a film that offered substantial nourishment a la Allen's definition of the genre.

Runners-up: Magnolia, I've Loved You So Long, A Single Man

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who's that girl?

Tomorrow evening I will be seeing Imelda Staunton in A Delicate Balance. If that wasn't enough, she will be joined by Penelope Wilton! I'm excited.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Happy ending x4

1. Defeat the villain.

2. Please the parents.

3. Get the girl.

4. Celebrate! (preferably with a great musical number).

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Subtitled wisdom.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Senna.

Ambition and passion are two things that I cannot help but embrace in life. So seeing a man such as this projected on screen with Senna was unnerving. Especially after one of the toughest and most rewarding days in a job (a job I'd describe as a realisation of my dream).

Senna is a beautiful portrait of a man whose joy was his profession and his success was celebrated worldwide, particularly his troubled home country of Brazil. The fact that this joy was generated not by superficial goals but by the fulfillment of his ambition and passion is incredibly affecting: it is impossible not to applaud the man, and we must mourn his loss.

This is a screening I will treasure.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

My favourite shot of...the music-video for Will Young's Who Am I.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Confessions of a KST-aholic.

There is one sentence that I hate to hear uttered from the mouth of a filmmaker I adore: "I'm taking time off". This is exactly what Kristin Scott Thomas will be doing in the next few months...but to ease the pain there will be the release of Sarah's Key in August which will be followed by Bel Ami, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and a handful more (depending on distribution).

I'm particularly interested in Sarah's Key as it may be the vehicle to bring Thomas back into the Oscar frame. The film revolves around the Holocaust (tick), Thomas plays an American in a role that multilingual role (tick), and it is being handled by the Weinsteins (tick tick). Also the film is apparently very good. It has a July release in the US and this is wise if, as I presume, the Weinsteins are trying to build word-of-mouth. Perhaps I'm wrong and they will be unhelpful as they were with their last Thomas film, Nowhere Boy.

Check out the trailer. Even if Oscar doesn't bite this bait I am sure we will have another terrific performance from KST.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 16

Day 16: A Film I Used to Love Now Hate...Sex and the City 2
It is rare that my opinion of a film will change so dramatically from love to hate. In fact, I am not sure it has ever happened. The best example I can think of is Sex and the City 2. And the reason for my change in opinion is very specific to this film.

I adored the television series, I endured the first movie while others applauded it, and I expected the same standard and reaction to the sequel. What happened was a shocking attack from critics not just on the film but on the women themselves. This was attack on the women I adored for six television series, I had one choice: to defend them. I may have found as much (if not more) to dislike in the sequel than the first film, but I embraced the exuberant humour and elaborate story. In short, I approached the film with a view of making the best of the bad situation.

When the dust has settled and journalists have left the carcass of these characters, I revisited the film and found there was little to enjoy. Despite a handful of good moments (e.g. the scene where Charlotte confides in Miranda), the characters have become parodies of themselves and the story is nonsensical. It still is undeserving of the hatred it inspired but it is not a good film. And it should have been.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

10 thoughts on...X-Men: First Class

1. Bring back Bryan Singer.
2. My highlight was seeing Mystique as a little girl. It reminded me of Muppet Babies and I couldn't help but want to hug her. Shame this actress was replaced by...
3. ...Jennifer Lawrence. I have yet to see Winter's Bone but she is plain awful in this role. And frustratingly this is one of the few characters who are given the opportunity to be of interest to the audience, instead Lawrence presents a young woman who likes to moan and be incredibly schmaltzy ("Mutant and proud" - awful!). Neither are interesting, and my interest in Lawrence has diminished.
4. What happened to the terrific theme for the series?
5. Michael Fassbender's Irish accent takes hold in the final moments of the film yet is absent elsewhere. How did this happen?
6. This script seems incredibly lazy and clumsy: the situations of the individual characters may have changed but they are simply shifted to fit the narrative of the original X-Men film. E.g. (Fassbender) angst ridden Magneto replaces Wolverine, nerdy Professor X (James McAvoy) replaces Cyclops, confused teenage Mystique (Lawrence) replaces Rogue, and Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) replaces Magneto as the villain while Emma Frost (January Jones) replaces Mystique as his sidekick. This script should never have been made. USE SOME IMAGINATION!
7. I definitely owe Rose Bryne a post of her own. I first saw her in Troy (easily the best thing in that as the imprisoned object of affection for Brad Pitt) and have enjoyed her ever since. She deserves more recognition than she receives. And she deserves a better role than the one she is offered here. Hopefully this will be addressed with Bridesmaids.
8. Is it just me or is there was gay romantic subplot with Havoc and Darwin? I am sure Darwin stroked Havoc's chest before the arrival of the villains. And there were some lingering shots on the two when (SPOILER) Darwin is killed. But maybe I've read too much into the situation...
9. How is this film earning positive reviews? I struggle to find many positives to the film: too many of the characters act as mere props, the film is clumsily shifted to the USA in a storyline that would have been too OTT even for the worst James Bond films, and there is a shift from mutants represented the minorities in our society to mutants simply being action heroes.
10. I'm no longer attracted to James McAvoy.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Hand holding x4

Friday, June 03, 2011

My favourite shot of...Moulin Rouge!.

This is a tough decision. And most definitely one that I won't always agree with. Also I'm picking two. But here are my favourite two shots (of today) from my favourite film:
Satine (Nicole Kidman) is a character who has long been submerged in the world of shadows: she sacrificed her dreams in order to pursue a secure future, a future that is now possible with the patronage and interest of the Duke (Richard Roxburgh). But this progression would only worsen Satine's position...thankfully she has been shown a light in the form of the more naive Christian (Ewan McGregor) who unashamedly declared his love for her and who has inspired Satine to evaluate her situation, culminating in 'One Day I'll Fly Away' - a musical declaration of longing to escape.

This is the moment when the above shots occur: Satine is confronted by her the desire of her heart (Christian, writing) and her head (the Duke, whose arrival is celebrated at the party the floor above Christian). She asks, "When will my life begin?", and the response is starring (literally) back at her in the form of the lovestruck Christian: her dream of escape will become a reality through her love affair with him. She will be free from the shadows, as the end of 'One Day I'll Fly Away' suggests (below)...

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Confessions of a KST-aholic.

Yesterday evening I witnessed Kristin Scott Thomas act mere meters away from me. It was thrilling. As gorgeous - both physically and as a performer - as I could have hoped. Her subtle style of acting may not be suited to the stage but it most definitely lifted the otherwise lackluster production. Her two co-stars, Douglas Henshall and Ben Miles, seemed soaked in the theatricality that plagues most actors while Thomas creates her usual complicated and layered character. I'm disappointed to say that her good work does not save the show, which is bereft of emotion. Still spending time in the presence of KST will be one of the highlights of my year.