angelophile: (Groucho Surprised)

Welp, it looks like Twittinesis is dead and it may be permanent. Which means my Twitter has no longer been feeding to Livejournal.

Which, well, basically means I have no content here. I rarely do Livejournal any more. The large bulk of all my blogging activity has shifted over to Tumblr.

So, if you're not following me either on Tumblr or Twitter, things are going to be pretty quiet around here. As is the case, I suspect, for most people.

Those of you who do want to keep up with my activities can, of course, follow me on Twitter. However, my Tweets there are protected, so I'll have to approve you as a friend and, to be honest, are now mostly just fed from my Tumblr account anyway.

So, if you do want to continue following my public content here on Livejournal, it's pretty easy. Just add [ profile] angelophile_tum as a friend. That's the feed syndicated from my Tumblr so any and all posts I make there will turn up on your Friends page. Simple!

I will still be posting here, but most likely on a monthly basis, not a daily one.

angelophile: (Beast Wars Inferno - For the Royalty!)

Caught Thor tonight and it pleasingly exceeded my (admittedly not sky high) expectations. When Branagh talked about it being a character driven movie, he did put his money where his mouth was and even minor characters were given time to develop.

Relatively spoiler free review under the cut. )

angelophile: (Toy Story Aliens - OOoooooooh!)


Mrs Mole Illustration

"Cheerful Mrs Mole pottered happily around her idyllic home, stitching patchwork, making cakes, stirring pots, arranging flowers, at an absolutely gruesome time in the lives of the cartoonist Ronald Searle and his wife, Monica.The complete collection of Mrs Mole drawings, created by Searle and intended as private, bittersweet jokes never meant for publication, will go on display at the Cartoon Museum in London this week.

In 1969, Monica was diagnosed with breast cancer and given only a few months to live. She was offered a course of what in those days was seen as an experimental form of chemotherapy. Searle, regarded by his peers as the greatest living cartoonist, recalls his reaction: "I had only my talent for drawing ... so I drew."

He gave her the Mrs Mole drawings as she lay in her hospital bed in Paris, one for each of her treatments, showing Monica's alter ego cheerful and busy in a setting heavily based on their own home in a village in Provence.

The drawings were full of details from their domestic life: her grandmother also pottered about carrying a basket of keys, and in the renovation of their own house they had recently discovered a bundle of huge, ancient keys. Monica recalled: "I would lie in bed, living the life he created in the pictures."

She was pronounced clear of the cancer in 1975, and today they still live in Mrs Mole's beautiful house.

Searle, whose first published drawings recall the three and a half years he survived in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and who went on to create the hellish schoolgirls from St Trinians and the immortal Nigel Molesworth, has been awarded a CBE in Britain and the Legion d'Honneur in his adopted home in France. He is a trustee of the Cartoon Museum, which mounted a retrospective last year to mark his 90th birthday.

The museum is working with breast cancer charities on the exhibition, which runs until 20 March."


I really want to get to see this. Ronald Searle is most probably Britain's finest cartoonist and illustrators and has had so much influence over his career. Not least on me - my dad owned one of his book of cartoons "Back to the Slaughterhouse" and it was one of my favourite reads as a child. Beautifully twisted and the ideal thing to warp a young child for life in the best possible way.

angelophile: (Connery - Wedding Dress)

You've probably noticed from my Twitter/Tumblr feed I've had a bit of an obsession with cosplay lately and have been doing a regular feature over on my Tumblr. Well, if you were interested, but haven't been keeping track, I'm going to try and get into the habit of doing a roundup of each week's Cosplay features and have been doing a bit of catch up with those. So, here's a list of all the featured cosplay so far:

Cosplay Monday - Week 6

Wonder WomanRed SkullTank GirlRobinEmma FrostSupermanSister Grimm / Nico MinoruHuntress and Robin (Steph Brown)Black PantherAliceVenomPower GirlHerculesBatgirl (Barbara Gordon)CyclopsSupergirlX-23Guy Gardner and Friends

Cosplay Thursday - Week 5

Two-FaceRescue / Pepper PottsSuperman and SupergirlCatwomanSpeedy(s) (Roy Harper and Mia DeardenHarley Quinn

Cosplay Monday - Week 5 

HuntressPixieBlack LightningDeath of The EndlessHawkmanMarvel Girl / Rachel SummersPoison Ivy and BatmanMr. Fantastic / Reed RichardsHawkeyes - Clint Barton and Kate BishopSilk Spectre 2Namor and AquamanBatgirl (Cassandra Cain)Kingpin and DaredevilRogueSquirrel Girl

Cosplay Monday Week 4

PolarisIsaiah Bradley Captain AmericaStargirlWatchmenHarley Quinn and Poison IvyGreen GoblinLois Lane - SuperwomanBlack Widow and Nick FuryBatgirl (Cassandra Cain)Wiccan and HulklingCatwomanRogueFlash and Kid FlashNamoraSpoiler and Robin

Cosplay Monday Week 3

Robin (Steph Brown)Teen TitansSurgeHarley Quinn and The JokerStormThe RiddlerFirestarBatmanRamona FlowersGwen Stacy and Ben ReillyBlack CanaryPatsy Walker: HellcatProfessor X and Emma FrostDoctor Strange

Cosplay Monday Week 2 

Black WidowSiryn and DeadpoolSpeedy (Mia Dearden)BeastVixenLex LuthorShadowcatBlue BeetlePoison IvyThorBatgirl (Cassandra Cain)War MachineBlack CanaryStan Lee

Cosplay Monday Week 1

Squirrel GirlScarecrowSoranik NatuPhoenixThe RiddlerMockingbirdChamberChamber 2DazzlerJamie Madrox and Layla MillerKarolina Dean and XavinRed Hood, Nightwing and BatwomanStormThe Joker and BatmanWonder GirlHeroes for HirePower GirlX-23WolverineBatgirl and Spoiler

Pre Cosplay Monday Posts:

Batgirl and RobinSteph Brown RobinPower Man and Iron FistSteph Brown Robin 2Birds of PreyDonna TroyX-men Evolution RogueMia Dearden SpeedySupergirlRed Hood / Jason Todd, Spoiler, Male DazzlerBatgirl / Stephanie Brown, Gertrude Yorkes and Karolina DeanGertrude Yorkes and Karolina Dean 2Female Booster GoldFemale Booster Gold 2X-23 and PixieHarley Quinn and The JokerMiss MartianMedusa and Black BoltScarecrowCatwomanBatgirl and NightwingSupergirl, Poison Ivy and Harley QuinnThe QuestionIceThe RiddlerBooster Gold, Blue Beetle and Max LordMystiqueMagik / Illyana RasputinDark PhoenixBeast, Cyclops and Nick Fury, Sexy CyclopsCassandra Cain BatgirlCassandra Cain Batgirl 2VolstaggHipster Spider-manEmma FrostBig BardaRoxy RichterKim PineAstrid HoffersonAstrid Hofferson 2Huntress and The QuestionUltimate Shadowcat , Cassandra Cain Batgirl 3Cassandra Cain Batgirl 4PixieSuperman and HerculesPenance / Hollow

angelophile: (Doctor Who - Thumbs Up)

I’ve been dipping out of Nu Who recently, skipping randomly between Eccleston, Tennant and Smith. It’s quite interesting to pit them against one another and one thing that’s apparent is how much fonder I’ve grown of Matt Smith and Chris Eccleston’s depictions, at the expense of Tennant. In fact, the more I rewatch Nine, the more love I feel. Eccleston’s Doctor is endearing, but he’s got that intensity as an actor that’s missing from Tennant’s run. (Of course, John Barrowman complained that he was too intense, but, well, fuck you Barrowman. It’s an acting gig, not a social club.) When Tennant’s called on to be intense and angry, he does that whole “Oh nonononono,” head-shakey thing and then gets all SHOUTY, like a puffer fish. But when Nine goes that route I really believe he’s going to kick some bottom.

It’s not entirely Tennant’s performance though. Eccleston had some stronger material to work with, the first series of rebooted Who didn’t rely on SUPER-DOCTOR! so often, with the character pulling new abilities out of his bum every other week and he was paired with a likable version of Rose, as opposed to the rather smug and selfish character she later became.

But, yeah, Eccleston. He’s still not my favourite Doctor by some margin, but he’s definitely overtaken Tennant on rewatches, who’s slipping down into the Colin Baker and John Pertwee zone the more I rewatch his episodes. Nine, on the other hand, has been growing on me over time. He’s endearingly goofy a lot of the time - proving that Eccleston could do silly and fun, which is why he apparently took the role - but when he does get serious, he’s superb.

Also, I may never forgive Ten for what he did to Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North, Prime Minister and Former Prime Minister.

You know who she is.

angelophile: (Leon Oldman)

Just finished watching Winter's Bone, which I've been meaning to catch ever since I heard the glowing reviews coming out of last year's Sundance Film Festival. (Where it won the Grand Jury Prize for best Dramatic Film.)

The film was written and directed by Debra Granik, and stars Jennifer Lawrence as the 17 year old Ozark teenager responsible for raising her two younger siblings when their impoverished family is seemingly abandoned by their meth-dealing father when he skips out on bail. When she discovers that he put the family home up as his bail bond and if he doesn't return to face trail they'll lose the house, she determines to track him down. The story follows her as she perseveres to find out her father's fate, despite the obstacles put in her path by the local criminals, family and law alike.

Jennifer Lawrence is outstanding as Ree Dolly, the major protagonist of the film, who faces the hillybilly-gangster world unflinchingly, refusing to step aside despite the white-trash nightmare world she's entering. Everyone she encounters seems to be kin of some kind and each more determined than the last to place obstacles in her way to stop her from learning the truth. It's stark and unrelenting, but Ree Dolly's moral center, intelligence and her courage in the face of the violent world she's entering make her an understated feminist lead.

Likewise is essentially a crime thriller is played through the lens of downbeat Orzak scenery in place of the more familiar surroundings of urban sprawl, which makes the film that much more unique. The story itself is, perhaps, not fresh. But the presentation - all backwater grime in the Orzak woods, drained of life and color - presents the poverty, both moral and literal, of the world unflinchingly and without sentiment. It's Arkansas Noir.

Highly recommended.
angelophile: (Toy Story Aliens - OOoooooooh!)

Did finally watch this movie over the holidays. And while I wasn't as enamoured of it as the majority of critics seem to be (trending 98% on Rotten Tomatoes to Toy Story 3's 99%), I did find it an enjoyable ride and certainly a huge step above the standard Dreamwidth's animation studios have usually been attaining in general.

The story wasn't groundbreaking and certainly not on a par with Toy Story 3 for making you feel the whole gamut of human emotion (I still consider TS3 the best movie of last year and one of the best movies of all time, animated or not) but the movie was definitely entertaining and endearing. And the animation was also a step above Dreamwork's norm (although the backgrounds and landscapes were so lovingly rendered in exquisite realistic detail than the more stylized central characters occasionally looked at odds with them). It's just a little bit of a shame that the supporting characters weren't so defined and, as seems to be commonplace in Dreamworks flicks, I walked away not actually remembering the names of any of the characters outside of Astrid, Toothless and Hiccup, whereas even with minor characters like Slink or Rex in the Toy Story movies, their names are reiterated enough to stick in the mind. A little thing, I know, but the little things make the difference between a good movie and a great one.

Anyway, good fun and definitely a good choice as a Christmas present for my nephew who was hooked on the whole thing.

angelophile: (Dalek - Cup of tea?)

I finished (re)watching Elizabeth R last night. It's always a pleasure to watch older British TV adaptations and dramatizations. They genuinely don't make them like that any more. Will there ever be a better Claudius than Derek Jacobi? A better Miss Marple than Joan Hickson? A better Sherlock Holmes than Jeremy Brett? It's doubtful.

So, in my mind, Dame Glenda Jackson will always be the definitive Elizabeth. She's picked up a couple of Academy Awards in her time, been a forthright politician, and was such a good match for the role of Elizabeth I she played her on the small screen in Elizabeth R and also on the big screen in Mary, Queen of Scots. She is, in brief, utterly, seemingly effortlessly, spellbindingly magnificent.

Elizabeth R is, of course, the BBC dramatization of the life of Elizabeth I. Six feature length episodes depict significant events in her life. Her ascension to the throne; her love affair with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; her forays towards political marriage; the conspiracies and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; the Spanish Armada; and her relationship with the Earl of Essex and death. Unlike the movies starring Cate Blanchett, (who was, admittedly, fantastic in the role too),  Elizabeth R is rich in historical detail. The supporting cast equally bring other figures from Elizabeth's court to life - Robert Hardy's a playful, bullish Dudley, Ronald Hines and Stephen Murray impressive as Burghley and Walsingham. 

It's Michael Williams as the Duc d'Alencon who I love the most, though. He's only in one episode, but he's such a lovable rogue, he perfectly depicts Elizabeth's happy "frog".

The production quality's a bit dated and it's notable that all the big battle scenes take place off-screen, but the costuming and sets still look rich and sumptuous and sometimes the relatively low budget's a strength rather than a weakness, meaning the characters are the focus, not the big events. There's a lovely moment, for example, where Elizabeth's rousing speech at Tilbury in preparation for invasion by the Armada ("I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too") is seen from the perspective of two of the common soldiery, with their commentary and asides. 

If you've never seen it and are interested in the life and character of Elizabeth, I can't recommend it highly enough.

And it seems like the whole thing is up on Youtube. So, no excuses there.

angelophile: (Gorillaz - Kids)

Just wrapped up reading Volume 2 of Scott Pilgrim. More enjoyable than the first volume for me and it's nice seeing the characters start to develop and come into their own. Knives, Kim, Wallace and Stacey are still who I'm reading for, but I was pleased to find myself warming to Ramona after a rather underdeveloped role in the first volume. She's definitely growing on me and I even like her - something never clicked with the movie's take on the character. I guess she was meant to be deadpan, but it seemed more bland, whereas in this volume she's got a lot more personality to her and doesn't just exist in Scott's orbit.

Scott, however... Well, yeah, I get that he's not necessarily supposed to be a good person in the early volumes, but I spent most of my time reading his scenes and reactions and just shaking my head and thinking "what an asshole." I don't think he's a hipster or epitomizes jerk nerds, I just think he's a total jackass. And, much as I wish it didn't, it does dull my enjoyment of the book somewhat. While the supporting cast and quirkiness of the book, and the setting itself, are attractive, it just takes the edge off it when Scott's around. I'll actually give credit to Cera for making Scott whiny and self-absorbed but likable in the movie, whereas I spend most of the panel time with Scott in the comic gritting my teeth.

But it's a pleasurable read otherwise, with everything else about the book being attractive and I'm definitely hooked and looking forwards to seeing what happens to the characters next. Apparently they tried to deliver the next three volumes today, but as I'm currently snowbound, I doubt I'll be able to pick them up from the post office for a few days.

angelophile: (Katie Cook - Beast - Yay books!)

Started reading Scott Pilgrim last night, this time with a vengeance.

I've been sat on the first two volumes for some months now. I started reading them at the time and sorta drifted away half way through the first volume.

It took seeing the movie when it came out to make it click for me. Seeing the comics translated in that way has bridged the gap where I wasn't quite getting the books or their appeal. Reading the first volume initially I just didn't care for the central characters of their situations. I'd go as far as to say I actively disliked Scott. It was only when I saw the movie that it clicked that I wasn't necessarily supposed to like him or his "precious little life". And the first volume doesn’t really do much to develop Ramona beyond suggesting she was destined to fulfill the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype in the series, whereas she stands as a character in her own right in the movie (and presumably later volumes).

But, it's a stepping stone to what's to come and while I found the first volume a far easier read after having the background of the movie to set it against, I still can't say I liked/loved it, but I can see as the books and characters develop I will (which is a click I was missing before). The supporting cast still give the main pleasure while the more expanded universe of the book lacks the movie's frenetic energy. But it did draw me in better, to the point where I've just ordered the remaining volumes and intend to tackle Volume 2 this evening.

I may not love this series as much as some of my other friends yet, but I'm certainly set to like it.

angelophile: (Miss Marple - Hmmm)

I was very late coming to Harry Potter and only read the books and saw the movies last year, after much resistance. Nonetheless, I enjoyed them well enough, although I've never clicked with them in the same way as pretty much everyone else I seem to come across. Perhaps because I didn't grow up with the books in the same way as younger readers did. But anyway, I did sneak out and watch the movie this afternoon. I did a mass watch of all the movies last year and reviewed them at the time, so I thought I'd better include this one in the list. Although, I admit, I was curious to see it anyway. The Harry Potter movies attract dream casts, if nothing else.

So, thoughts under the cut, including some spoilers.

Read more... )
angelophile: (Depressed Angel)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon (1918)

angelophile: (Shaun - Nice cup of tea)

Let's get LJ and Tumblr talking, shall we?

Leave me a celebrity or fictional character in my askbox and I'll give you my honest opinion about them.


Suggest your celebs and characters on Tumblr and I'll crosspost the answers here. Cross-blog memage!

angelophile: (Galvatron - Victory is mine!)

It's been a while coming, but here's another bunch of covers that have caught my eye over the past few weeks.

For anyone that missed out on previous entries, parts 1, 2 and 3.

The usual mix of the sublime and the odd in this entry, including the traditional Lady Gaga cover, some Killers, Animals and Katy Perry. Sounds like a normal weekend in the Brand household.

First up:

Inactive MessiahBeat It (Michael Jackson cover)

Take one Greek death metal band. Throw in a full orchestra. And an epic classical choir. Sprinkle lightly atop a Michael Jackson song and you get this. I don't know what it is, but I like it.

Read more... )
angelophile: (Jack Nicholson lobotomy)

Here's something I've never seen. The original ending of Little Shop of Horrors has been dug up from the rare Special Edition (withdrawn after producer David Geffen protested this material's inclusion) and made its way onto Youtube. Sadly, the colour prints of the original ending were destroyed in a studio fire, so the black and white work print is all that remains.

It's easy to see why it wasn't popular with test audiences and was changed. Yes, I know that it's closer, if not identical, to the stage version of the musical, but the ending is by far and away my least favorite part of that.

The last part does include Don't Feed The Plants, with a fantastic B-movie styled visuals, though, which I do think was a shame to lose, so it's nice to see it finally. Apparently the sequence cost $5m to produce using various miniatures and paying tribute to movies like King Kong and War of the Worlds, amongst others. But, as Frank Oz commented after it was cut: "In a stage play, you kill the leads and they come out for a bow — in a movie, they don't come out for a bow, they're dead. And the audience loved those people, and they hated us for it."

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

angelophile: (Empowered BOO YAH!)

It's been a rather backwards-looking season at the movies and after a summer that's given us The Expendables, The A-Team and Predators, it's Bruce Willis' turn to step up to the plate and into his old shoes as the action hero of the day.

Okay, so Bruce did that a little while back with another Die Hard sequel, but RED is the action movie that's left to stand on its own two feet. Of course, it's not just Willis' show. He's the central character, but the plot, loosely based on the Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner comics and revolving around a group of retired CIA and secret service agents who suddenly find themselves on a hit list, gives a chance for other actors... of a certain age to join in the fun. The posters make much of Willis' co-stars being John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Dame Helen Mirren, but Richard Dreyfuss and Brian Cox are also along for the ride, the latter rather poorly served by the publicity as he's every bit as essential a character as Freeman, if not more so.

And what a joy to see Ernest Borgnine. In a supporting role, perhaps, as his screentime doesn't add up to much, but he's a genuine screen legend.

So, a world-beating cast, then, but how does the movie stand up against the other nostalgic flicks of the summer?

Read more... )

angelophile: (Leon Peekaboo)

An Education did well at this years' Oscars and it's easy to see why. A coming-of-age story set in the early 60s, the movie benefits from the glamour of that era, strong, charismatic performances, a simplistic, but appealing story and a sparkling screenplay, adapting Lynn Barber's memoirs, by author Nick Hornby. The end result is a movie that's charmingly old-fashioned, harping back to the kitchen sink dramas of 1960s British cinema, and which effortlessly draws you in.

The story is rather straightforward. Carey Mulligan plays Jenny, a seemingly worldly-wise and undoubtedly intelligent 16 year old girl who is studying hard to pass the entry examinations for Oxford, pushed on by her ambitious father (Alfred Molina). Then she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), nearly twice her age, charmingly seductive, who introduces her into a more exciting and glamorous world.

If you're a fan of Mad Men, there's a huge amount to enjoy here too. The period detailing, from the attitudes to the outfits, is fantastic. There's a real glamour throughout as Jenny is introduced to a more exciting world of jazz clubs and fine dining, of glamorous clothes and glamorous people, by David and his two friends, played by Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike. It'd spoil the movie to say too much, but the juxtaposition between this world and the more dowdy world of academia, represented by Jenny's teachers, in the shape of Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams, is pivotal.

Read more... )

angelophile: (Dalek - To Victory)

During a fairly dry patch for British film making, where every movie seems to want to be the Next Four Weddings or Full Monty, even after a decade or so of water treading, to has to be said that Made in Dagenham doesn't bring a whole lot new to the table.

What it does do, however, is take a nearly forgotten moment in British grass roots politics, which advanced equality for women globally, and dramatize it near impeccably with a startling good cast of polished British character actors (with the emphasis on actresses).

Calendar Girls director Nigel Cole brings together the cast, which tells of the 187 women machinists at the Ford plant in 1968 Dagenham who saw their pay scale reclassified to unskilled labour. They decided to make a stand, snowballing from the pay dispute to a much larger issue - legislation for equal pay for women nationwide, and, as the ripples of the strike action was felt in Whitehall and beyond, worldwide.

Sally Hawkins plays Rita O’Grady, the catalyst for the strike action, encouraged by sympathetic union representative Bob Hoskins and her fellow workers - at least the female ones, as sympathy drained when it became clear that the women's rights might come at the expense of male workers too. She's the impressive core of the movie, around which other established character actors revolve. There's not a duff performance to be seen from Geraldine James, Richard Schiff, Jamie Winstone, Daniel Mays, Roger Lloyd Pack, Rupert Graves, Andrea Riseborough, Rosamund Pike, Phil Cornwall and many others.

And, as the kitchen sink drama starts to spill onto a larger stage, Miranda Richardson is utterly magnificent as Barbara Castle, then Secretary of State for Employment, who was instrumental in forcing through the bill that made it illegal to have different pay rates for men and women. It's both a tribute to the firey politician and a masterful performance. And John Sessions pops up to give an uncanny and gently mocking impression of then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

A special shout out, too, to Kenneth Cranham, who's brilliant as a self-serving and unsympathetic Union leader.

But it's Sally Hawkins' performance that's at the heart of the movie and she's fantastic as the shy factor worker who finds her voice, empowerment and courage to stand by her convictions to lead the crusade that became synonymous with equal rights.

While the movie doesn't exactly delve deeply into the politics of it all beyond the basics and plays a few archetypes instead of fully rounded characters, the decidedly feminist script still sparkles, the performances are outstanding, the period detailing and soundtrack marvelous and the direction tight. While not mold breaking, like the original striking workers were, the movie is funny and affecting but also exceptionally uplifting, if veering a little close to being too sanitized as the real figures at the heart of the action are replaced by glamorized versions (which the trailer rather shamelessly plays up to). That said, it's not anything genuinely new or unexpected, but equally as effecting and enjoyable as Calendar Girls, The Queen, Brassed Off, Billy Elliot or The Full Monty managed to be and that, in itself, is to be applauded.

Highly recommended.

angelophile: (Angel in Blue Jeans)

I'm genuinely heartbroken to hear of the death of veteran comic Sir Norman Wisdom, star of film, Broadway, composer, singer, clown and a wonderfully silly, funny man. He was 95, but one of those people who, through sheer likeability and a seemingly endless, infectious energy for life you expected to live forever. He only announced his retirement from show business on his 90th birthday and, despite that, was performing right up until 2008, despite his the onset of dementia. He must have been well into his sixties when I saw him as a child and he was a bundle of energy then, still doing pratfalls and his own brand of physical comedy.

I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who'll say a bad word about him tonight - he appears to have been adored by everyone he worked with and friends he made, up to and including the royal family. Although he may not have made friends during his stint in the army during WWII when, after he was disciplined for calling Winston Churchill 'Winnie' on one of the occasions they met. He worked tirelessly for many charities throughout his life. The slapstick films he made in the 50s and 60s led to Charlie Chaplin calling him "my favourite clown".

He even wrote the lyrics to (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover, which, by itself would be an incredible contribution to British culture.

And not just Britain. Wisdom was a god in Albania, where he was the only Western actor whose movies were allowed into the country during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha and took his cult status with typical good humour.

So, not just a national treasure, then, but an international one.

Rest in peace, Sir Norman. You truly were one of a kind.

angelophile: (Doom Laughing)

Chris Morris' new comedy comes from a dark place. Four Lions tells the story of five unlikely British jihadists with abstract dreams of glory, bent on becoming suicide bombers and creating mayhem at the London Marathon. Not exactly the standard route for comedy you might think, and you'd be right.

Chris Morris is one of Britain's most savage satirists, if not the most savage. His expose and satire of the media's obsession with pedophiles in the Brass Eye pedophile special earned him notoriety – rightly so. His humor is both deeply funny and deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

So, when he turned his eye towards jihadists following the 7/7 London bombings, there was a definite discomfort. Chris Morris started to do meticulous research into modern jihadism. He apparently read the story of five jihadists planning to ram a US warship. They packed their launch with explosives and stepped in. It sank. This was apparently the real life inspiration behind Four Lions.

Morris said: "I had a press card and watched the Bluewater trial and got to hear a lot of MI5 surveillance tapes of the suspects, and you start to realise these people are klutzing around in a very average way - like men at stag parties or five-a-side football. Everyone reporting on it knew it was like The Keystone Cops. The police thought it was funny and would sometimes surreptitiously play the funniest bits of their material to the journalists. There were loads of surveillance tapes that cruelly exposed very average conversation."

The end result of this research is a movie that has been described as the War on Terror's Dr. Strangelove. To describe it as uncomfortable viewing is understating it. But with fear considered the jihadists' greatest weapon, the movie strips that away and make them figures of fun and even sympathy, in an intelligent way. Ridicule has often been the best response to terror and that's partly what is presented here, as well as humanizing the people who, perhaps inexplicably to many, decide to strap explosives to themselves and end lives.

Read more... )

angelophile: (Shaun - Nice cup of tea)


A lot has been said about Scott Pilgrim. At times over the past few weeks it's seemed like there are more opinions being tossed around than people who have actually seen the damn film, and that's probably not far from the truth. So I figured I'd go and decide for myself.

The truth is, it's not a movie I was particularly looking forward to seeing. The good word of mouth and the pedigree of the people behind the film persuaded me to give it a try, but the trailer suggested a horrible "Dude, Where's My Car?"-esque experience to come. Thankfully the trailer was deceptive, but I suspect it probably had plenty to do with turning off people who had no clue about the source material. If I hadn't had a bunch of friends raving about it, you wouldn't have caught me dead going to this one. A movie where a slacker dick has to fight a bunch of evil exes in a video game style to win the alternative princess? No thanks.

And I would have missed out. Scott Pilgrim's a fun, funny and engaging experience. Is it a nerd film? Well, certainly it's a video game nerd film. I wouldn't have classed it as a particularly geeky movie otherwise. Scott Pilgrim in the movie's a slacker, but not a geek. He plays in a grunge band, has a girlfriend who worships the ground he walks on. Of course, Edgar Wright, the movie's director, is a huge geek, as Spaced proved, but the movie seems more clearly focussed towards the video game nerd than the indiscriminate approach of that show, although other influences creep in.

Not having read the comic book series it's based on, (I have the first two volumes but have yet to pick them up), I'm not entirely sure what to make of the central characters. Presumably they're a little more fleshed out in the comics, but as the movie opened I found Scott (Michael Cera) to be a self-pitying, slacker jerk with a Asian schoolgirl fetish and a basic lack in interest and respect for others. That opinion didn't really change throughout the movie. (Although Cera was actually more appealing than I expected.) Likewise, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) never seemed to be a character at all, just a trophy for Scott to attain. Deadpan and mysterious translated as bland and uninteresting for me. So, if the two paper-thin, souless central characters and the chemistry-less core relationship of the movie held no interest for me, what did?

Really, the main reason to see the movie is the supporting performers. There's not really a weak character in the bunch and everyone seems to be having enormous fun at what they do. A lot of column time seems to be going to Kieran Culkin as Wallace, and deservedly so. He has some great lines, puts in a wonderfully arch performance and it's refreshing to see the "gay best friend" trope presented without dropping into offensive stereotype or cliche territory. But by no means does Culkin steal the movie. Each of the ex's brings something wonderful to the show. Satya Bhabha is hillarious as Matthew Patel. Chris Evans totally steals the movie... for the ten minutes he's in it as film star Lucas Lee, until  Brandon Routh skips in to play the evil vegan with special vegan powers. Jason Schwartzman is gloriously hammy and funny as all hell in his role as the final ex. Likewise, Alison Pill, Anna Kendrick, Mark Webber and others all pop up as well defined supporting characters you'll probably end up wanting to see more of. And special mention to Ellen Wong, who's kind of a revelation - brilliant and funny and touching as Knives Cho (Aged 17). 

The plot itself is pretty slight, mostly a hook for the great characters and amazing visuals to hang on. In terms of style and direction, the movie excels, capturing the frenetic video game visuals and comic book panelling with great aplomb. The movie totally commits to that energetic style, whirlwind visuals and the genius is in the detail. There's so much humor in the direction, editing and look of the movie, as well as the performances. It's probably the closest Hollywood cinema will come to the slapstick genius of Stephen Chow. And you quickly realize you just have to go with the flow of the bizarre plot and have fun with it. And you do.

I left the cinema with a smile on my face. At the end of the experience, whether Ramona and Scott are characters I cared about doesn't matter. Because it's the ride that's the fun part and the people you meet along the way, not who's in the carriage with you.

angelophile: (Pixie - Scared now)

So, The Expendables. What to say about this movie? Most of it people will already know. Sylvester Stallone stars, writes and directs and obviously called in a few favors from friends to join the cast.

Wesley Snipes, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Danny Trejo sadly didn't make the party as was originally intended, but the cast still includes the bulgingest muscularist cast assembled, bursting with testosterone and machismo - Stallone himself, along with Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, David Zayas, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels. And, of course, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in cameo roles.

The screen's too small to contain all the bulging biceps, tattoos, gold teeth, cowboy hats, motorbikes, guns and fuck off, great big shiny knives. Yes, once the movie starts rolling, the only way they could convey sheer manliness any more is by Stallone waving his hairy bollocks in front of the camera.

Read more... )

angelophile: (Weeping Angel)

Yeah, my experimentations with integrating Tumblr and Livejournal seamlessly together seem doomed to failure.

Mostly I've been trying to set up a dual system because I find I'm increasingly using Twitter and Tumblr for general updates. Since going Friends Only here, I've been internally re-designating this journal as more like my own personal space, where I talk about stuff that's been going on in my life, along with Twitter being for general commentary that I only want to share with specific people, rather than the whole world.

Tumblr's evolved into the space I use for other stuff - the non-personal stuff which is just link dumps, videos, pictures I like, etc etc, which I look to share with everyone. (Whether they want me to or not, probably.) But it'd be nice to integrate both personal and general bollocks under one roof.

I have discovered, which is a neat tool to crosspost blog entries across multiple platforms - so it will post content to Livejournal, Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress, Facebook etc with one click, which is extremely useful. It's not seamless, however, and embedding video and pictures isn't as intuitive as Tumblr's own posting styles. I've been experimenting a little with the last few entries, as you may have noticed.

But, I think I'll most likely just scrap the idea of an integrated Tumblr and Livejournal. Instead, if you do wish to follow my Tumblr updates, they'll continue to appear as plain text links in my Twitter updates and also as full entries on a separate syndicated account that you can just add as a friend in the usual way here: [ profile] angelophile_tum

Syndication appears to be a little spotty so far, with entries appearing out of order, but fingers crossed that'll clear up.

Of course, all this is probably something people have no interest in at all - I barely have any followers on Tumblr as it is. (But then, I don't follow that many people either - it's trier to keep up with than LJ, I find). But nonetheless, there's various ways of stalking following my activities, if you wish to do so.

angelophile: (That's Twisted)

Yes, contrary to the impression I usually convey, occasionally I do get annoyed.

angelophile: (Default)

Just testing this new bit of kit. Just ignore me.

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