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Monday, 20 June 2011

Butterflies and Hurricanes


Howdy ya’ll.
Normally I'd say that this week was pretty average for me but how can I say that when I had the pleasure of seeing Rose Byrne in the flesh on Thursday night!
I said I wouldn’t upload it but doesn’t matter - it’s not like you can see it that clearly anyway. Shitty cameraaaaaaa. :(Had pretty nice seats at least.
I had a pretty bad camera but whatever.
I went to see this week’s major release, “Bridesmaids” at Jam Factory on Thursday night, knowing that she would appear in person along with the film’s leading lady, Kristen Wiig and director Paul Feig. The ushers had to get everyone into the cinema before they could introduce the talent. The three of them came out to a lot of love and joked around for a bit before introducing the film and leaving. They weren’t there for all that long but it was just nice to see them in person. Ah, I’m still on a high over it. It was also the first time I had seen a movie on my own for quite some time (and boy was it quite a surreal experience! A cinema made up of at least 80% women and 20% men!) No one was available to share in my fandom. Oh well.
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You may notice that I’ve changed up the look of my blog a bit. I’d say it’s about time, wouldn’t you agree? It has more of a personal kinda touch with my handwriting being more prominent as well a nice "Game of Thrones" reference in the banner. It’s roughly drawn but I don’t care – I’d rather it look like that cause I prefer sketches.
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I would put something like this in the “What I’ve Been Watching” section but that’s mostly for films. Having said that, I do recommend people try to catch “The Killing”. It’s a show that’s right up my alley (police procedurals) and the pilot episode looks exactly how I imagined my police procedural script from last year! It’s a quality show – trust AMC (the same channel that brings us “Mad Men”, “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead”) to deliver the goods.

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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING
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Growing up a teenager can be tough, especially when everyone around you seems completely out of the loop. “An Education” is a coming-of-age tale about Jenny (Carey Mulligan) a teenage girl whose life changes when she meets an older gentleman, David (Peter Sarsgaard). The film was nominated for an Academy Award in Best Picture in 2010 and was also the film that broke out Carey Mulligan’s acting career which gave her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress that year as well. The characters of the film are all quite interesting, especially that of Jenny who Mulligan plays with a lot of honesty and naivety. Her Jenny tries as best she can to be an adult yet not knowing what that actually means. She wants to see the world but doesn’t know how she could get there. Naturally American, Sarsagaard’s English accent seems on point and doesn’t distract. The film is simple and paces itself quite well up until the final moments of the film. The final moments prove to be a bit of a cop out but it forces our dear Jenny to reconsider her options and change for the better. After all, she is a teenager – she doesn’t know what she wants, not yet anyway. The film tries to tie up all the loose knots in the end and admittedly it feels forced and too rushed. By no means is “An Education” an amazing film but perhaps just a decent one.
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Another coming-of-age story, “Fish Tank” tells the story of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a 15 year old girl whose life is interrupted when her mother brings home a new boyfriend. Not exactly breaking new ground here in terms of story (“Fish Tank” and “An Education” almost seem like perfect companions to one another) but what’s interesting about “Fish Tank” is how the film depicts the urban areas of Britain that we’re not used to seeing. As dirty and wretched as some of these places (and people) can be, there’s something refreshing about how these particular aspects of urban life are presented on film. Nonetheless, “Fish Tank” starts off strongly but like “An Education” it also begins to disintegrate by the end of the film. Newcomer, Katie Jarvis, pulls off the angst and turmoil her loner of a character Mia goes through and Michael Fassbender (an actor whose work I’m beginning to admire) does an excellent job as her mum’s new boyfriend who may have motives of his own. One major problem that the film has is the fact that they set these characters up to be likable but end up making them completely unlikable by the end of the film. Andrea Arnold, the film’s writer and director, have done herself a disservice in doing so but her efforts in displaying the troubled youths of low socio-economic backgrounds is largely commendable. Having said that, there are moments in the film that feel far too uncomfortable to watch – like seeing an eight year old smoke and drink beer. I can’t say whether or not this is realistic but seeing this particular scene reminded me if this could happen to a kid who lives in my neighbourhood. If I had to sum up the film, I’d say it’s “An Education” with poor people living in modern times.
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In the year 1997, five billion people died from an unknown virus – at least according to Terry Gilliam’s bizarre film, “12 Monkeys”. The film follows James Cole (Bruce Willis) a man who is sent back into the past to find out who caused the virus and how it could be stopped in order to save the future. A group known as The 12 Monkeys are assumed to be the culprits of this worldwide disaster and through a bizarre two hours, Cole goes through different years and encounters many characters who help him along the way. Of the many characters in the film, people will walk away talking about the craziness of Brad Pitt’s character Jeffrey, a mentally unstable man whose ideals seem suspicious but no one would ever question it because he’s crazy. The film goes back and forth between the future and the past and is largely enjoyable mostly due to its quirkiness. It’s a truly bizarre film, one that’s prime for a cult audience. It’s definitely not for everyone. The cast is great and the nods to the works of Alfred Hitchcock feel more than appropriate (especially the reference to “Vertigo” which has suddenly changed how I felt about that film). The film has a nice blend of humour, suspense, action and drama. Nice little time-travel movie that I’m sure would get much better with repeated viewings. You’ll leave your head scratching a few times but it’s more than worth it to watch this head-trip of a film (that is of course, if you’re into that sort of stuff).
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Another bit of a trippy film although not as much of a head-scratcher as “12 Monkeys”. Alex Proyas’ amazing “Dark City” takes place in a strange city where sunlight is absent and all is not what it appears to be. A man wakes up in a bathtub and without any recollection of who he is or his past and begins to investigate the strange inner workings of the city he’s in. The real star of the film is director Alex Proyas. His previous work on “The Crow” (Brandon Lee’s final film) permeates throughout “Dark City” as it carries a great gothic feel to it, all the while evoking a noir-ish environment for our protagonist, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) to delve into. Proyas, who wrote and directed the film, gives this film incredible depth and vision bringing to life these amazing characters and amazing settings. The film paces itself along quite nicely and never feels dull (despite the depressingly grim tone of the film) and mixes in elements of science-fiction, action and noir in a way that hasn’t been done since “Blade Runner”. There’s a lot to like here with “Dark City”, however, if I had one gripe it was the fact that the ending seemed all too convenient. Yes, it makes sense within the context of the world and its inhabitants but in context of narrative it kind of feels cheap. That isn’t to say that this flaw diminished the quality of this amazing film in any way, but perhaps it could’ve been written differently. “Dark City” is an ambitious film full of vision and wonder – required cult viewing, definitely.
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This might be an unpopular opinion but “Bridesmaids” is one of the funniest films to have come along in a while for me. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen a good laugh out loud comedy in some time but with its ensemble cast “Bridesmaids” not only delivers the goods but also changes the female perspective on comedy. The film may look like a “chick flick” and it still gets the female draw in that its equal parts romantic comedy and something the girls can watch together for a laugh and a cry but “Bridesmaids” does not need to be marginalised solely because the film is primarily driven by females. The film follows Annie (Kristen Wiig) whose childhood best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) picks Annie to be her maid of honour at the wedding and along the way she and the group of bridesmaids Lillian has picked for her wedding become embroiled in crazy mishaps that lead up to the big day. The success of this film rides heavily on the amazingly talented cast who all bring their best to this project. Wiig is fantastic as the lovelorn Annie, who worries about the direction her love life and professional life may be heading. Wiig’s brand of dry humour makes for some fantastic scenes and really makes her character all the more likable. On the opposite side of the spectrum though is Rose Byrne’s, Helen, a bitch of a character that tries to drive a wedge between the two childhood best friends and tries desperately to usurp Annie’s title of “Lillian’s best friend”. Following her success in “Get Him to the Greek”, Byrne again plays against type and also puts in a great comedic performance that makes audiences love to hate her. The other supporting roles from the rest of the film’s cast serve to add some great comedic insanity throughout the film, with Jon Hamm and Melissa McCarthy being standouts from the supporting pack. “Bridesmaids” however isn’t that perfect of a film – it does have its blemishes. Some scenes dragged on too long and the point of the joke may have been missed along the way because of it. As a result, the film meanders every now and again and often times it does feel quite long but at the same time, you’re willing to forgive these inconsistencies when you’re laughing all the way through to the credits. It's almost ingenious to concieve of a comedic film that uses the stages leading up to the actual wedding (bridal showers, dress fittings, bachelorette parties etc) as comedic set-pieces. Has it been done before? I'm not too sure, however, this is the first time I'm hearing about it. Much credit must be given to Wiig and her co-writer Annie Mumulo for doing so. For my money, “Bridesmaids” is one of the best films to come out this year, so far, and is a film that’s not just for the female crowd. It carries with it a lot of humour and a lot of heart – a film that many can relate to even. “Bridesmaids” comes highly recommended.

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And that's all this week. Two things before this finishes up.
1. I may become involved with a video shoot sometime soon. The reason being is because I've never really gone out of my own way to shoot a short just for the fun of it and wanted to just have fun playing around with a camera and editing the footage altogether afterwards. I've only started to realise how much I actaully enjoying the editing process. Anyways, mroe news on that sometime soon, hopefully. But with that said, I shall take my leave.
2. I'm gonna start my Gong Li week this week. Be sure to check back next week if you want to know my thoughts on "Shanghai Triad", "Farewell, My Concubine" and "Raise the Red Lantern" if you want to expand your film vocabulary.
Hope you're all being awesome. Ciao!

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