Thursday, October 19, 2006

Review: The History Boys

A cast made up almost entirely of intelligent teenage boys. An 80's soundtrack. University jokes. Frederick Neeshay. Rufus Wainwright on the end credits. STEPHEN CAMPBELL MOORE!!!! It was inevitable that I would love this film. The History Boys is the film version of the successful Alan Bennett play of the same name, and it's about a group of boys from a Sheffield grammar school in the 1980s who are trying to get into Oxford.

I love films about school/education (yes, I am ridiculously sad) and especially ones set in the '80s, and when you throw Stephen Campbell Moore, who I fell in love with in the acetastic Bright Young Things, into the mix you can't really lose. This one also happened to have many hilarious moments as well as very touching ones too, and a cast of great actors. In fact it's the exact same cast who played the parts in the stage version, which I now very much wish I'd seen.

The film wasn't entirely perfect - it was quite long and there were some scenes of discussion which needed either livening up or cutting. Still, I would completely recommend The History Boys and I really hope it does well. It's lovely to see a British film that is as fun and heart-warming as its European contemporaries, and I hope I will be able to say the same about my other eagerly-awaited British film, Starter For Ten, when it's released in a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Trailer: Starter For Ten

I absolutely loved the book of Starter For Ten when I first read it about two years ago, and it's one of the few books I can read multiple times and still enjoy as much as the first time, so I was excited yet concerned about the release of a film version. I'm sure it will never be exactly how I imagined everything in the book, but from the look of the trailer I'm relieved to say I think they've done a pretty good job and I will be going to see it as soon as its released.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Review: Innocence

As my university runs a film appreciation society where you pay £2 to see a film a week for a whole year, I didn't hesitate to sign up, but sadly so far it's been all Danish crime and films about gangsters and slavery, so when I heard there was a French film on with no mention of guns or politics, my friends and I decided to go along and give it a try. It turned out to be a very strange film, far from the jolliness of your Amelie or L'Auberge Espagnole, but interesting and worth seeing if you have spare time.

The setting is a boarding school of very young French girls, but it is obvious from the start of the film, when a girl arrives in a coffin, that this is no ordinary school. There are adults there (including teachers played by Marion Cotillard from Big Fish and the new movie A Good Year, with its enticingly Alizée-soundtracked trailer), but the girls seem to look after themselves and each other. The story switches between following different girls, and this can sometimes be confusing as they all dress the same and look very similar.

At times the film is sweet and endearing, and it's not as scary as the coffin arrival might suggest. In fact, any frightening moments (for example the drowning of one of the main characters) is treated so calmly you hardly feel any different to the rest of the film - never entirely at ease because you're always expecting something terrible around the corner, but never quivering on the egde of your seat either. The film continues at a very constant pace, with no major events or plot conventions, and at the end I only knew it was the end because a) I was starving so I knew I'd been sat there for ages, and b) there was bubbling water, just like the beginning of the film.

I would not warn you against seeing this film, but if you are not someone with a lot of patience or an obsession with European cinema, then I wouldn't call it a 'must see' or anything of the sort. I enjoyed the visual side of it much more than I did the pretty non-existent plot and it's an interesting way to pass a couple of hours, but it does seem like twice as long and if I had been watching in my living room I highly doubt I would have reached the end.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Review: The Devil Wears Prada

There are loads of great films coming out at the moment (Stick It, The Last Kiss, The History Boys and Starter For Ten are just a few of those I'm desperate to see) but it was this one that my ace new international student pals and myself chose to see today. It was a safe choice as all our friends who'd seen it loved it and we'd all heard several other positive reviews, and this was really reflected in the film. It was entirely inoffensive but not in a bland way, just jolly in a mainstream, non-quirky but nonetheless very enjoyable way.

One problem I did have with the film was the idea that Andie (played by Anne Hathaway) was actually that unfashionable in the first place - she dressed better than most people I know and this is England, where people have way better fashion sense than America (it's a fact and can't be denied, Americans just don't 'get' fashion). But I guess the film isn't supposed to be hugely realistic, and it is a bit more believable than Anne's last successful film, The Princess Diaries. She is certainly less annoying in it, and Meryl Streep is pretty good channeling Cruella DeVil as the fashion magazine editor.

Overall, I did like this film and there were some really jolly parts, but it was quite predictable and I didn't fall in love with any of the characters. Adrian Grenier is a buff hottie and I liked Andie's style when she had her makeover, but apart from that I wasn't bowled over. It's still a nice way to spend an afternoon seeing this film, and if you want something that will satisfy a group of girls or boys in touch with their feminine side, then this is the perfect answer.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Trailer: Accepted

I saw this film for free at the cinema on my university's campus, and I must say I wouldn't have gone if it hadn't been free, but I actually really enjoyed it and so did all of my fellow students. I even made 2 new ace pals during the show, so you should go and see it if only for the chance of that. It has a bit of slapstick to it but it's no American Pie, it has a conscience and is way more interesting and likeable than you might expect.

Review: Little Miss Sunshine

One of the first trailers I posted here was the one for Little Miss Sunshine, and I was very excited about seeing the film. Finally last weekend I arranged a trip with my wonderful French film student housemate to see it at the cinema. Having watched the trailer a silly amount of times, I wasn't very surprised by the content of the film, but there were still many great moments that were new to me, for example the hilarious ending (I won't spoil it for you, but if anyone leaves this movie not in fits of giggles there is something wrong with them) and the running joke of the family having to run and jump into their van each time they got it started.

Something you can't fail to notice in this film is the amount of yellow. Anything that could be yellow is yellow, from the family's van to the teenage son Dwayne's t-shirt - very fitting for a film called Little Miss Sunshine, and in fact there may never have been a better suited title for a film because this really is the most uplifting film I've seen in a long time. It is sunny and smiley and it's only a shame I emerged from the cinema to find the aftermath of a small tornado! If you ever need cheering up, then a viewing of Little Miss Sunshine should easily do the trick.

I wouldn't say that Little Miss Sunshine is my favourite film ever or anything of the sort, but it's the type of film I love (eccentrically jolly) made for a more mainstream audience and it's great to be able to share the pleasure this kind of movie gives with more people. Perhaps it will inspire them to go and see more of this kind of film and soon Hollywood blockbusters will be wiped out and replaced with this sort of heart-warming thought-provoking magnificence.