Saturday, January 27, 2007

Trailer: King Of California

This looks quite interesting. Evan Rachel Wood keeps popping up at the moment, and I'm trying not to hate her because I want to love Running With Scissors, in which she stars. She seems OK in this so perhaps she will be in RWS as well.

News - British Special

  • The film version of Brideshead Revisited is finally set to be made. It has been rumoured for years, with Jude Law linked to the role of Sebastian, but I think he is too old now so someone else will probably be cast. Filming starts this summer and other stars rumoured include the highly annoying Matthew Goode and Emily Blunt, and the lovely James McAvoy.
  • After the success of the film adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park, it is now Jane Austen's life which is to be made into a movie. It is called Becoming Jane Austen, and she will be played by an American, Anne Hathaway, with other stars including Maggie Smith, Julie Walters and James McAvoy. Filming is completed and it should be out in a few months.
  • Another novel soon to be released on the 'big screen' is Ian McEwan's Atonement. It stars Keira Knightley, Romola Garai (who I must say I can't stand) and, guess who, James McAvoy! Is there anything he's not going to be in this year? I think it's deserved, though - he's a good actor and rather attractive too. I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Review: Thirteen

Having enjoyed Show Me Love and My Summer of Love, the next logical step was a viewing of probably the best known of these films about rebellious teenage girls, Thirteen, and luckily it's all on YouTube! As with the other two films I mentioned, Thirteen is mainly about two teenage girls who become friends despite one being far more cool and popular than the other, and although in this case there is no romantic love between them (although of course there is a bit of girl-snogging, just to get the punters in), they have a kind of obsessive friendship, both getting something from the other that is lacking in their own lives.

In Thirteen, Evie (played by Nikki Reed - Sadie in The OC!) is the experienced, sassy, popular girl while Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is the tomboy who in fact is equally fierce and manipulates her way into the cool gang, dropping her nice normal pals (including Vanessa Hudgens, who is even more adorable than in High School Musical!) in an instant to join in with Evie's life of thievery, drugs and sex. There are so many films where teenagers get into these sorts of situations, but thirteen really is very young and the girls do look like children rather than young women - it is inescapable that they are children and that is pretty scary. Two years older and we'd think little of it, just another rebellious teen movie, but their skinny arms and cuddly toy-filled bedrooms make their antics quite disturbing.

The girls' acting is very impressive for their age (either that or Evan Rachel Wood is genuinely very very annoying) and the film does have a great realism to it, but neither of the two main characters are at all likeable, in great contrast to My Summer of Love, which has the supremely endearing Mona, and Show Me Love where both the main girls are pretty ace (although I may be biased cos they like Robyn). However, it is a very interesting and thought-provoking film, certainly more of a social statement than the other two, which seem to function more as works of art, but all three strike a chord with me, being a teenage girl myself, and I think they will with many others. It just seems that Thirteen is a film about girls, and not really for us, while the others both really mean something to me and personally I would recommend them first to anyone, teenage girl or otherwise.

Review: Babel

I wasn't exactly Miss Enthusiastic about seeing this film, but I did in fact enjoy it very much. The sound and visuals are fantastic and there are some scenes where you almost forget the story as you are just blown away by the viewing experience. My particular favourite was one in a Japanese club which really made me feel like I was actually there and more than ever I was desperate to visit Japan. The story is an interesting one, with a strange structure which isn't quite in chronological order but shows the same event from different perspectives. The film as a whole is connected by the running theme of understanding and communication between languages and cultures - sometimes achieved but more often not.

There are four simultaneous stories: the Moroccan kids who semi-accidentally shoot a bus, Brad Pitt and his wife (Cate Blanchett), who happens to be the one who gets shot, their kids who are having a drama of their own in Mexico (with the lovely Gael Garcia Bernal), and far off in Tokyo we meet a deaf teenage girl and wonder how she could be linked to the other stories - of course she is and all is revealed at the end of the film, although I warn you the link is quite tenuous.

Babel is a strange halfway point between blockbuster and foreign/arthouse. Each plotline could be a film in itself, ranging from the political drama in Morocco to the coming of age story in Japan, and cutting between them adds both some light relief for times when it gets a bit too heavy, and at other times extra suspense as we wait to return to the most dramatic storylines to find out what happens next. At many points a life hangs in the balance, but each story is compelling enough that I didn't find myself anxious to return to any particular one, although my favourite was that of Chieko in Japan.

Babel has already won a Golden Globe, and despite splitting opinion with some film critics, I'm sure it will continue to do very well in the other award shows of 2007. While it didn't make the impression on me that my favourite low-budget cutesy films do, I really enjoyed Babel and I would certainly watch it again, despite its immense length, if only because there was so much to take in, and of course to see that amazing Japanese club scene again, which was one of the best cinematic experiences I have ever had. Definitely recommended!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bafta Nominations

The best bits...

  • Little Miss Sunshine nominated for Best Film, Achievement in Direction, Original Screenplay, Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Arkin) and Actress in a Supporting Role (Abigail Breslin and Toni Collette).
  • Other deserved nominees include Pan's Labyrinth, Richard Griffiths & Frances de la Tour for The History Boys and Volver.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Review: John Tucker Must Die

I missed this at the cinema so when I found it online I didn't hesitate, and within moments of the film beginning I was hooked. There's nothing particularly original or clever in John Tucker Must Die, but it reminded me of some of the best teen films I've seen and I'd say it's just as good as them too. The storyline echoes Mean Girls (nice girl joins popular girls, bringing down the most popular person in school) and Bring It On (presence of cheerleaders and adorable geeky brother), and in style it harks back to 10 Things I Hate About You, Saved, She's All That, Get Over It - all the greats!

It's both fun and funny, generally having a nice feel-good vibe - even when things go wrong it's not at all depressing. The film is also accompanied by one of the best soundtracks I've heard in ages - Stefy, All American Rejects, Click 5 and the Caesars are among the ace acts popping up in the film and making it even more jolly. John Tucker Must Die is really just like an extended episode of One Tree Hill completely made up of the fun, silly bits, none of the evil dads or dying mums, and with pop music instead of indie/emo.

I'm sure John Tucker Must Die won't win any awards for quality film-making but for its target audience of young teenagers it's brilliant and since I have the taste and mentality of a 12 year old, it's great for me too. If you're looking for something light and silly, you could do much worse than find a copy of this.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Review: My Summer Of Love

I was always unsure about renting My Summer Of Love, as the trailer reminded me of the Australian film Somersault (starring Abbie Cornish, rumoured cause of the Witherspoon/Phillippe break-up), which I really didn't like, and it stars Emily Blunt who was rather annoying in The Devil Wears Prada. However, I regret that now, having seen My Summer Of Love, cos it's actually a very good film. The two young girls are so realistic, reminding me of many girls I've known, and they have great chemistry together.

The whole story is quite believable, never taking things too far, as other film-makers might do with Mona's brother's violence or the lesbian love scenes, the latter being treated with no desire to court controversy. Like A Home At The End Of The World, this is a love story like any other and it does not matter what gender the characters are. It's nice to see a film which is about a gay relationship, but isn't about homosexuality in general - it's just about two girls, their contrasting lives, and the summer they spend together.

From the trailer (particularly the music used, which does appear throughout the film too) I expected My Summer Of Love to be a bit depressing, but it isn't at all. The trailer makes it seem eerie and upsetting, but it's actually really funny, especially some of Mona's scenes, such as her devil impression and her plans for the future (at first she says she wants to be a lawyer, then decides she'll work at an abattoir). Being a Southerner myself, Tamsin is the kind of girl I meet every day, yet it was Mona who I felt drawn to, and I think that will be universal with viewers. Nathalie Press is compelling to watch and clearly a great actress, so I look forward to seeing more of her.

Trailer: Four Eyed Monsters

Click to view

This independent release looks insanely cute, I can't wait to see it. Note the soundtrack, my beloved Oh Mandy by the Spinto Band! See also their MySpace with loads of ace things to watch.

Trailer: Half Nelson

This film looks a bit slow, but Ryan Gosling has some serious magnetism on screen so perhaps he can carry it off? The film has received great critical acclaim, so there must be something special there somewhere.