How We Got Through…October 2017

A Monster Calls

Just as depressing as the film, actually slightly more so. This isn’t something you enjoy as such, but it is something you appreciate because of how brilliant and heartbreaking it is. Also, the book I got looked beautiful in terms of artwork, is like everything was drawn with charcoal, really suited it. Although the film had a unique look as well, but that was more “watercolours”, this is very different, childlike, but an advanced child.

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Ayoade On Ayoade

I got this, was a fun read, but I don’t need to read it again. I can’t imagine what it’s like to read this if you have no idea who he is.

Bachelor Number 2

I actually love Aimee Mann, first heard her on an Anti-Valentines Day radio show. That single show was probably the most influential radio show I’ve ever heard, I got into Aimee Mann, Regina Spektor, and a few other bands whose names don’t occur to me anymore (one was basically a woman leaving a series of increasingly angry voicemail messages set to a dance beat, loved it for some reason). I describe Aimee Mann’s music as basically “Acoustic Snark”. She’s best known for her work on the Magnolia soundtrack (almost said Memento there for no reason whatsoever, because they both begin with M? That’s stupid even for my mind, might as well have said Monty Python And The Holy Grail, that’s an M too) but her other stuff is great too (in particular The Forgotten Arm, and yes, I would understand it if you forgot that prior to this was a full sentence that you forgot how it began, what with the extended parenthesis).

Danny Collins

Kind of sweet. You can tell Pacino is having the time of his life here, it seems like the role was written for him. A very well-written and performed film, with a pretty cool soundtrack. When I first saw it I expected it to be just okay but it’s actually really good. The music is good, the performances are good, and the background characters are rich in terms of characterisation. The trouble with a lot of films is making everybody seem like they’re actual people, making them seem like they exist when the cameras aren’t pointed at them. This does that very well, even the minor characters feel fleshed out.

Detroit

This film suffers from the same problem as a lot of films about the subject do, the villains are so 2-dimensional that it’s hard to buy into the film. The trouble with doing films about race set in 1960’s etc US is that you can’t create a compelling villain. To me, a good villain is just a misguided hero, one where you can kind of see their point. You can’t have that with this, the bad guys are so obviously wrong they’re impossible to defend, they’re obviously pricks. Which is depressing as that’s what it was like back then, a lot of people in power were indefensible pricks who deserved to be punched in the kidneys. Also, the pacing is weird, you have an entire subplot about a band that doesn’t really add anything except 30 minutes to the runtime.

Fist Fight

Pointless. Not entirely sure why this exists. Slightly funny in parts but seems like one of those films that perpetually came out a few years ago and you missed it and forgot it exists.

Flatliners

Brave move killing off who they did. It’s weird as it’s not really sure what it wants to be, is it a remake, a sequel, or something entirely new? Nobody knows, least of all the film itself.

Geri’s Game

One of the very early Pixar films. Shows a lot of promise but lacks that certain Pixar magic. They got a lot better but you can see the early glimpses of what makes Pixar pixar.

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How To Be A Serial Killer

Really enjoyed this. A lot of fun, the kind of film I wish I wrote. Funny, original, and stylish.

The Inbetweeners

Funny, crude, but the second film is a massive disappointment. Weird how quickly this series has left the public consciousness.

IT

Wonderful soundtrack. Some films have had better songs, but few films I’ve seen this year have had songs which suit the film better.

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Also, fucking terrifying.

Keanu

The best use of George Michael in cinema. Ever. Has a great ending too.

Laid

Probably the only sitcom I’ver ever seen which features a scene where the main character tries to fashion a splint out of ice lolly sticks so that they can rape a guy who will stop everyone they’ve had sex with dying.

Solace Of The Road

Not too great a start, but a great closing stretch. The writing reminded me very much of someone I went to uni with, but less good.

The Mountain Between Us

When it was just “two people trapped on a mountain”, was a superb film. Once they added the romance bit I kind of tapped out, just didn’t work at all. And the “realisation shot” was straight out of a low-budget music video for a James Blunt soundalike.

The Ritual

This film did something I will forever love it for; it put most the bits from the trailer in the opening half. I liked this as it meant you weren’t thinking “ok, what from the trailer haven’t I seen yet?”. Chilling, well told and well performed. Book is now on my “to-read” list.

The Snowman

A lot more brutal than I expected. The reveal of the killer could have been done better, and it juggled too many characters at once so was a bit of a bloated mess. Not as terrible as I thought it would be though.

The Witches

Loved it!

The Young Offenders

Kind of charming, rather funny. Has a scene where a disabled drug dealer shoots someone with a nail gun. Seems like a tv show, which as of next year it will be, and I can’t wait.

You Can’t Kill Stephen King

Not a fan. I expected it to be funny and meta, but was just a bit nonsensical. Just wasn’t very fun. Not saying it was serious, far from it, it just seemed a bit “meh”, the film equivalent of dust in the wind.

 

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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My Five Favourite (Childrens) Book-To-Film Adaptations

More details were announced yesterday about the Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them film. Well, films now, five of them in particular. I’ll admit I’m nervous that this will be just like The Hobbifilms, where people will be excited for the first one, interested in the next one, and then just completely ignore the film series from then on (I remember being online when the third one was released, and if it wasn’t for me looking at the cineworld website I wouldn’t have even know it came out). Fingers crossed it turns out great, but to commemorate the release details here’s my favourite book-to-film adaptations. I will freely admit these aren’t the “best”, these are definitely my personal choice, choices which are likely to change depending on what day I’m asked.

5. The BFG (2016)

The most recent film on this list, and the one most likely to not be on it if I was writing this on a different day. This definitely isn’t likely to be on someone’s top five list for this topic, truth be told it’s not even mine, it’s only here because of the negative reception it received. It’s currently got a 66 on Metacritic, which is the numerical equivalent of “meh”. I went into this with relatively low expectations, I saw Pete’s Dragon the same week and it did absolutely nothing for me, I appreciated what it did well, but I don’t need to see it again and I won’t recommend it to anyone. Also their was a family in front of me that I could tell were going to be problematic, with a whole bag of popcorn thrown on the floor behind them (i.e. in front of me) before the film even started. Yet within five minutes of this film I had completely forgotten Pete’s Dragon, I had forgotten the popcorn, I had forgotten the general feeling of ennui that accompanies my general existence, I was completely lost in the world that this film created. I completely brought into the universe that was created, if I saw this film whilst I was a child my parents would hate it due to the fact they’d have had to watch it every single day. This film also means that my list of for the “best performace” for the end of year blog now has two child actors in it. Ruby Barnhill is superb in it, she spends a lot of time being the only real thing on screen, so it’s down to her to convince you that the rest is real, and she manages it. So to summarise; some films are funny, some films are heart-breaking, very few films can be described as magical, this is one of them.

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4. Coraline

Because it’s been too long since I’ve seen The Witches and I wanted a film that scares the hell out of everyone, children and adults alike. This adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book also has one of the best uses of 3D in cinema. There’s a scene where somebody stares down a long and narrow corridor, the 3D in this helps enhance the vertigo-like feeling. Most films just go with the “oooo something is poking out at you, woooooo” with 3D, very few use it to enhance the universe as much as they should. The film also has a unique look, a look that is NOT TIM BURTON! People seem to forget that it wasn’t Burton that directed Nightmare Before Christmas, it was Henry Selick, and he is perfect for this film. Heavily influenced by the work of Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesigi.

He gives the film a unique look that is perfect for Neil Gaiman’s work, and it’s a real shame that he got pulled off the film version of The Graveyard Book (been replaced by Ron Howard, which could work, but will be very different)

3. Harry Potter

I’ll admit this isn’t the greatest film series, for one thing it’s missing Rik Mayall as Peeves. But it also did one thing very well; it accentuated the Harry Potter brand remarkably. Before this you could be forgiven for thinking the world had reached peak Potter, that the brand had reached a plateau, but the films pushed it through so it was no longer a well known book franchise, it was a global phenomenon. Without the films the chances of there being a Harry Potter world are a lot lower, as would be a lot of merchandising opportunities. Plus, it also gave us Alan Rickman as Snape.

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And now I have a sad

2. Matilda

I know, another Roald Dahl book, but there is no way I could not put this film in this list. One of my favourite books as a child, and one of my favourite films as an adult. Mara Wilson is of course, superb, whilst Pam Ferris is terrifying as Trunchbull. Back when this was released there wasn’t as many book-to-film adaptations as there is now, so seeing the shots of Trunchbull in newspapers in the lead to the film was genuinely exciting. A book which everybody read as a child was finally coming to life, if it went badly I would have been so disappointed that I probably would have developed a crack cocaine habit, trust issues, and a slightly itchy foot. Luckily it’s very good, the music is superb, Send Me On My Way in particular never fails to raise a smile. Actually that’s true of the whole film, it’s the film equivalent of a sweet heartwarming smile. The most disappointing part about it is that it didn’t lead to Danny DeVito having a glorious directing career, which is a shame as he completely nails it here, getting the tone exactly right, and he casts himself as a terrible person. Very few people would do that, most people when they choose to be villains do it in a “cool” way, make the character dark and brooding and misunderstood, DeVito plays his character as one of the most repulsive characters in cinema, and does it in a way that makes your skin crawl, it’s truly brilliant.

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This film really speaks to me for some reason

1. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Yeah, a third Dahl book. Truth be told I could have made this entire list Dahl adaptations, he’s lucky enough to have had a lot of very good books made of his work, but to me this reigns supreme. Not just one of my favourite children’s books adaptations, not just one of my favourite children’s films, this is one of my favourite films. It’s a shame Mel Stuart didn’t have a larger career after this, as visually this film is superb. Most of the acting is also pretty great (with the exception of one of the parents who is awful, just awful), but let’s be honest one of them stands head and shoulders above all the others.

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Just kidding, it was this guy.

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This film belongs to Wilder, his performance is like a sociopathic clown (something which 2016 is very familiar with), that scene in the tunnel in particular is one of the greatest scenes in cinema history, more so when you realise that Wilder never told the other actors what he was going to do, they all thought he was genuinely losing his mind, it’s brilliant. Now despite me loving this film, I’ve never read the book, I have read the sequel though, and this film sets the characters up so well in your head that it makes the book sequel better as you can clearly envision it in her head. The music is pretty darn good as well, Pure Imagination in particular surely has to go down as one of the greatest original songs created for film, it stands up as being so good it transcends the original source material, one of the only songs I can think that does that would be Rainbow Connection.

 

So that’s our list, where did we go wrong? Which Roald Dahl book should we have taken out? Why didn’t we put The Iron Giant in? If you have any questions comment and let us know, or do that if you have any other things you want to see us do.