Lady Bird (2017)

This film will not be for everybody, and that’s okay. If you enjoy this film, you will enjoy it passionately, you will identify with it in a way that you don’t identify with a lot of films. You will feel it is a personal look into your mind. You will feel like the memories contained within are yours. But if you don’t enjoy this film, you will despise every second of it, you will find the characters annoying and unlikeable, you will find the lack of a clear narrative annoying, and the fact it’s not very “film-like” will annoy the crap out of you. This film is not for everybody, and that’s okay. As you can tell by now, I loved it. I loved how it seemed like a modern John Hughes movie. This film has all the archetypes of a classic 80’s Hughes movie: the outcast best friend, the frustrated parent, the two potential love interests (one of whom is a complete prick), prom, the focus on class differences in American culture (which is a subject which rarely pops up in American cinema, which is odd as it’s pretty much the basis of British cinema), and the obvious focus on music which transcends just accompanying the film, and becomes intertwined with it. Also, Molly Ringwald (or to give her her full name: Molly F*cking Ringwald) totally would have nailed this role. The director/writer acknowledged the influence that Pretty In Pink had on this film, and it’s obvious for all to see, but there also seems to be influenced by other films too; Boyhood, Freaks And Geeks etc. And it’s all the better for it. It makes the film seem familiar, so watching it is like welcoming an old friend into your home.

I read an article on BBC news a few weeks ago asking whether this was the most overrated film up for an Academy Award. They came to this conclusion by comparing critical reviews, and audience reviews. It’s got an average critical response of 94 (based on Metacritic reviews), but only a 77 in audience reviews on IMDB (well, a 7.7, but it’s not difficult to translate the scores). I was worried about that, I liked the trailer for this film and didn’t want to be disappointed. After watching this film I can say this: I know why people dislike it. The narrative structure is all over the place, it’s not a particularly beautiful film from a visual standpoint, and nothing really happens. It’s also INCREDIBLE! Kind of reminded me of Ghost World (which if you haven’t seen I highly recommend) in that it’s not so much about the story, but about the characters. I personally loved the visual style too. It made the whole thing look like a Polaroid picture. That, combined with the narrative structure, and the tone of the whole thing, made it seem like it was just a series of recollections from somebody, jumping from one topic to the next, sections missing as they’re not relevant to what they’re talking about at that exact moment. I know to some people that sounds like hell, and considering how often I go on about the importance of story, you’d think I’d hate this too, but it’s just too damn good for me not to love it. I know it’s early in the year, but I know for a fact that come January 2019, this will be on my list of favourite films of 2018. Usually I appreciate films more than I personally love them, this was the opposite; I loved it more than I liked it, but I still liked it a lot.

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Pre-Casting: Spiderman (as an actual John Hughes movie)

So today’s the day. The UK release date of one of the most joyful and fun films of the summer; Spider-man Homecoming. As reviewed here you can tell we love it, so we needed to do something for this. So we decided on this; pre-casting. Much like (i.e. almost exactly the same as) our recasting series only taking place entirely in the past. In this case, it will be if it was made in the mid-to-late 80’s. Yes, we’re turning it into a literal John Hughes movie. Notes before we start; we’re ignoring hindsight for this, if someone was awful in the 80’s but suddenly gained magnificent acting ability in the 90’s, we can’t use them, it’s based entirely on them in the 80’s, future potential means nothing in this.

Peter Parker – Andrew McCarthy. 

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This is probably the hardest super-hero to cast, ever. Most superheroes you just need an actor who can do one of the following:

  1. Occasionally look dark and brooding.
  2. Be muscular and cool.

Spider-man is the opposite of that, darkness in that character is like a rabbit in the zoo, it just doesn’t belong and if you try to tell me otherwise I will beat you around the head with your “Welcome To The Rabbit Enclosure” sign. I don’t want to say he needs vulnerabilities as that makes it sound like you need him to be able to cry, but you need to cast someone who ideally you can never imagine being a superhero. That’s part of the character’s charm is that he’s truly leading a double life. Bruce Wayne still has an identity and a life worth living outside of Batman, you take away Spider-man from Peter Parker and he’d be destroyed as a person. You also need someone who not only CAN deliver a cheeky one-liner in middle of a fight scene but also make it seem like they’re the kind of person who would DEFINITELY do that if given the chance. Andrew McCarthy is one of the brat pack actors that people seem to have forgotten about for some reason, which is unfair as he was tremendously talented (still is, only has moved into directing with Orange Is The New Black). He’s someone who can play a wise-ass, but not an ultra-confident bullying one. As such I think he’d be perfect for this.

Mary Jane Watson – Molly Ringwald

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Some of these justifications will be longer than others. This one is simple; She’s Molly Fucking Ringwald and everybody is a little bit in love with her, if you’re not, you’re lying to yourself, and to me.

Anthony Michael Hall – Green Goblin

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I always thought he had a hidden darkness to him, like his characters are just one insult away from snapping and trying to destroy the world. So thought he’d be great as Green Goblin, thinking specifically of how the character was portrayed by James Franco in the movies. Somebody who feels underappreciated and overshadowed by his friend. Someone who would definitely describe himself as a “nice guy” whilst he plies women with alcohol so he can sleep with them. Someone who’s villainry is not only justified to himself, but he also sees it as the only logical thing to do.

Sandman – Emilio Estevez

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Cheating with the ages a bit here, but it’s an 80’s comic book movie, authenticity to the source material was never exactly top of the list. In this he’s a football player who got injured when he was a background character in a Spider-Man fight scene and so harbours a grudge against him. He follows him around to gather dirt on him and ends up in a freak accident where he becomes Sandman. Never really considers that Peter Parker is Spider-man as he’s so far different in terms of social status that he doesn’t acknowledge him. You need an arrogant dick with a ruthless stare for this, so Estevez.

Aunt May – Mai Zetterling

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Finally, someone who wasn’t in the breakfast club. The trouble with casting Aunt May in things like this is it can be easy to forget her toughness and determination. You need someone who seems like the kind of grandparent who treats their grandkids really well, but who is feared by her own children. Odd thing about this casting is it would have been her first film in over 20 years, and last time she was seen she looked a bit different, she was one of the original sex symbols in cinema, so to see her go from that to kindly Aunt May would be an odd transition, and would definitely help ticket sales even if only out of curiosity.

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Flash Thompson – Rob Lowe

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Obviously. Although this is dependent on one thing; Flash Thompson’s character being merged with Sandman is a definite possibility in this so would need to be differentiated enough. I think only way to do this would be in their interactions with the characters, Flash is the tormenter of Peter Parker, whilst Sandman is tormenter of Spider-man, play enough off the similarities between the two and it could end up being pretty intriguing.

 

So, that’s it for today. Where did we go right? Where did we go wrong? And why did we not cast John Cusack?

The 5 Most 90’s Movies Of 2017

Baywatch/Power Rangers

As I’ve said before, who exactly were these films aimed at? People who liked the originals won’t want to watch these as tonally they’re completely different, and it wasn’t as though there was a huge demand for them. Now if they did it in the 90’s, that’s a different story. Those two shows were both at their peaks and films released at cinema based on those would have made big money. But 90’s was a weird time for TV films, they tended to have terrible reputations (not entirely because of all the terrible films based on Saturday Night Live skits, but they certainly didn’t help). The only one that comes to mind that REALLY worked was South Park, which seemed to be the tipping point for the show and changed it from “this show will cause harm to children” to “cultural icon”.

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On the plus side, if this was made in the 90’s, it wouldn’t have attempted to be “dark” and “gritty”

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Ideal director: Roland Emmerich (again)

Again, why exactly was this made? This would have made A LOT more sense in the 90’s. Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and Dragonheart (google it) showed what could be done back then, and the capabilities of creating a realistic looking giant ape (which is trickier than other giant animals mainly due to the hair, seriously, hair is REALLY hard to animate without looking fake as hell) was possible on a fundamental level, as proven by that classic film, Mighty Joe Young. Come on, you know that film. Oh, you don’t? Nobody does? Oh, okay, maybe that’s why a Kong 90’s film wasn’t made.

Spiderman: Homecoming

Ideal director: John Hughes

Very specific time of the 90’s, early 90’s. John Hughes 90’s, that time when films aimed at children seemed to still be suffering from an 80’s hangover. The perfect time for this would have been around 1991. With Batman Returns about to be released, and with the success of the first live-action Batman still in minds, studios would have bought up more comic book properties and used them in unique ways. A Bush/Reagan-inspired ultra American Superman movie would have been made to try to make people try to forget about Quest For Peace, a Terry Gilliam Watchman would have been made, with David Bowie doing the soundtrack (and probably playing Dr. Manhatten), and to cater for teens a John Hughes Spiderman would have been made. Okay, it would have been better in the 80’s, and casting an 80’s Spiderman Homecoming is a whole different conversation altogether (that’s called foreshadowing).

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Happy Death Day

This would have killed in the late 90’s. Just after Scream landed but before horror got all serious and torture-porn-ey. Probably with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the lead, with a soundtrack consisting of The Offspring and Blink 182. The more I think about this the more I think that would have been fucking awesome. Basically like Idle Hands, which is one of the most 90’s horror films I’ve ever seen in my life (and is quite funny).

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Actually love this image

 

Geostorm. 

Ideal director: Roland Emmerich

Here we go, the film that inspired this entire list. I showed someone the synopsis to this and their response was “are we sure this wasn’t made in the 90’s?”. Kind of cheating as this film was delayed horrifically and wasn’t originally meant to be released this year, although not massively cheating as it was supposed to be released in 2016, which wasn’t a massive difference, although it does explain the obvious reshoot moments. It’s not just the story where this is 90’s, a lot of the story beats seem to come straight from a 90’s perspective; English villain, a moment where a dog nearly (but doesn’t) die, a small child, a needlessly happy ending that seems to come out of nowhere and completely ruins the notion of self-sacrifice.

 

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I guess this should have come earlier. Whoops

 

Why We Love….The Witches

1. The Story

Roald Dahl may have hated almost every film that was made of one of his books, but to me, they usually work pretty well. Willy Wonka will always have a special place in my heart (mainly because of Gene Wilder), and The BFG last year was so good it was described as

“fairy lights and sunshine on celluloid”

by someone incredibly important and intelligent (yeah, it was me). Am I missing any out?

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This film really speaks to me for some reason

Oh yeah, that one. So whilst Dahl hates them, films of his work are generally loved by people. That’s down to the worlds he creates, the fact he writes FANTASTIC child characters, and of course, the stories. With a lot of children’s books, you look at them as “books for children”, books which are fine if you’re young, but lose their magic as you get older. And the ones that don’t suffer from another problem; you can easily see their influences. You can read them and think “oh, the author obviously has read x before”. These don’t, they’re unique stories, wonderfully told, that’s why the films work.

2. It’s quite dark.

Well, I saw “quite”, it features a scene where the main villain changes a small child into a mouse. It’s not instantaneous, it’s like you can feel it happening to you, you can tell it’s not painless. It also features a scene where the villain tries to push a baby off a cliff. I love kids films like this, ones which you watch them as an adult and think “why did we let kids watch this?”. It’s kind of basically a kids horror movie (much like Goosebumps, which I still recommend everyone go see). I mean, the opening features a child being cursed so they disappear into a painting. That’s not a kids movie, that’s a fucking Twilight Zone episode.

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3. Ensemble Cast

Okay, the kids acting isn’t exactly good, but the adults are. Jane Horrocks is lovely and her silent disgust is evident throughout, Rowan Atkinson is good with the small amount he’s given. My favourite though is Mai Zetterling. This was one of her final films and she really shines, it makes me sad she wasn’t in more things. She’d have been perfect as Aunt May in a John Hughes made Spiderman movie in the 80’s (what a good idea for a blog that would be, that’s foreshadowing).

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4. Anjelica Huston

This film is hers. She doesn’t so much chew the scenery, as cut it into small manageable pieces and delicately nibble on it. She plays such an evil character with so much poise and sophistication (so much so that she doesn’t seem to walk, but glide) that she almost becomes likeable. I think she may be one of my favourite actresses, when she’s good she’s REALLY good. There’s this, The Addams Family, and 50/50, and I’m sure there are many others which I’ve yet to watch. She’s one of the few actresses I’d really love to be able to meet and just talk about her films with her.

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Side note, is it just me or did she have a resemblance to Anne Hathaway

5. Possible remake

Usually, I’d be set against this, but apparently, if it gets made it will be done by Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, with Jennifer Lopez as the main witch. I want that so much. And now I’ll end this the same way I end every day; with casual attempted infanticide.

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