17 Jun 2012

Ladies choice

Rock of Ages

Love is many things. It is passion, and patience and devotion. It is finding yourself smiling for no reason, and it is being up until 5:30 in the morning caring for someone when they are desperately ill. It is sharing, and romance and clich├ęs and a million other things.

And love my readers is the only reason I watch musicals.

I have watched my share on film and on stage sufficiently to know that I will always dislike musicals. But my girl loves them. That doesn't mean I have to like them, but it does mean that if she asks me to go with her so she can enjoy them I will. She loves them and I love her so there you are. 

So if you don't like musicals stop reading now because this post is about a musical. If you like musicals you are probably thinking that I am going to slate this because I am biased. If you hate musicals you might keep reading in the hope that I am going to slate this purely due to it being a musical.

Well I am not. I think that if I am serious about this blog I have to review books and films that are not necessarily my preference, and also try and be as fair and objective as possible.  So here I go.

A brief synopsis:

It is 1987 and Sherrie (Juliane Hough) is leaving Oklahoma to seek her fortune in Hollywood as a singer. About five minutes after arriving in Hollywood she is mugged on the sunset strip. She is rescued by Drew (Diego Boneta)a barman who works at the famous Rock and Roll institution the Bourbon club.He also dreams of being a rock star. Drew gets a Sherrie a job at the Bourbon club which is run by ageing rocker Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin). The club is struggling financially and with the Mayors wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) who is determined to clean up LA starting with shutting down the Bourbon Club. The club and the fortunes of everyone inside it depends on one man, the rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise).

Ensue singing hyjinx

Yes you read correctly Tom Cruise. A singing and dancing Tom Cruise. And you have to see it to believe it. And I mean that in a good way. Toms performance as Stacee Jaxx is funny and highly enjoyable. His side kick, a leather clad gun toting baboon was a grand addition to the story.

The rest of the ensemble cast also provide good performances.  The cast includes; Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, James Martin Kelly, and Catherine Zeta Jones. All of them are great in the film and when they have to sing  they manage to succesffully pull it off. Each of them stand out in their respective scenes and give solid and enjoyable performances.
Alec and Russell were confused by whether Deigo was the male or female lead in the production

Less can be said for the young star Diego Boneta. He is meant to be this up and coming rock singer but he appeared to be wearing  more make up than Juliane Hough (who I thought gave a fine performance). I mean I know it's meant to be 1987, but dude you are wearing more foundation than Paul Stanley from KISS. I found that he was too pretty, too nice and an average performer.

I am not sure about the pacing of the film, but that could be due to the fact that I find the performers bursting into song a bit jarring at times.

The songs were classics from the 80's; Wated dead or alive, Paradise city, we're not go to take it, juke box hero, I love rock and roll, we built this city and many more.

It was nostalgic, cheesy and at times quite fun. I think that if you grew up in the 80's or you love 80's music you will find this a enjoyable watch. I don't think it will rate with the lovers of musicals as high as ........Chicago? or Mamma Mia? (I have no idea), but I think it is one of those movies where you get together with a pizza, and snacks and watch and sing along to.

So a fun afternoon and six monkeys (there was a Baboon with a gun AWESOME!)


14 Jun 2012

Prometheus



Despite my love of film, until some wonderful person decides that they want to pay me for the privilege watching movies I have to be highly selective on what films I watch at the cinema (I did have the opportunity for working for the film censor but that does not interest me at all). Many things can entice me into going to  see a film on the big screen; a director who has a great aesthetic style, good actors, a great story, and monsters. Individually all of those can tempt me to place my hard earned pacific pesos out of my Scottish like grip and into the hand of a vacuous teenager.. 


 Prometheus  had a great deal of temptation on offer; Director Ridley Scott, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idres Elba, the delicious CharlizeTheron (siiiiigh)  and the promise of a new movie in the Alien  franchise that wasn’t completely bollocks. On that note a friend of mine decided to re-watch  the Alien  movies before he saw  Prometheus last weekend and he said that he was glad they only made two movies.  I appreciate this sentiment.
Mmmmm Raspberry Slice...

But with anticipation bordering on the promise of a raspberry slice and a glass of Pepperjack I watched the promo trailers. And with a terrible dread reminiscent the trauma of A phantom Menace  I worried that this movie would be terrible. 

So was it?

Here is a brief Synopsis:

Doctors Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan-Marshall Green) have discovered the same constellation depicted in cave paintings and murals in several different and geographically removed cultures around the world. With evidence that they have proof of alien contact with early man, they convince a powerful corporation (Weyland Industries) to fund an expedition to this constellation where there is a moon capable of supporting life.  The scientists beleive that these aliens actually engineered life on earth. The corporation has their own agenda, but no one is prepared for the truth that lies on that distant moon.

Ensue science fiction hijinxs!
 
The acting is superb! Michael Fassbender steals every scene he appears in with his performance as David the android. Noomi Rapace gave a good performance that was only restrained by her script. I can see how many people could critic Charleze for her wooden acting, but then that was the nature of her character,  an aspect that was humorously referenced in the script.  Idris Elba, Rafe Spall and Guy Pearce (for his brief role) all gave great performances which I enjoyed. 


Scott's direction and style makes this film exquisite to watch.  The sets are reminiscent of the first film Alien as you can expect from a prequel, (you see a little 2001 A Space Odyssey as well) Scott went to great lengths to create an environment to be true to the first film.  Scott decided to steer away form a lot of CGI and green screens. he took the time and effort to create physical sets so the actors would have a tangible set to surround and interact with. And it pays off by accentuating the performance of these great actors.

Continuity wise the technology on the ship Prometheus will seem more advanced than what was on the Nostromo but I am not sure that can be helped. Modern audiences have expectations, and I think this is a dammed if you do dammed if you don’t position to be in as a director. I think Scott made the right decison  go with the shiny lights.  


And in regards to the genre? Is it a horror reminiscent of  Alien? Well there were a couple of scenes which made the audience physically flinch in horror and surprise. I haven’t seen that in a while, and  I think given the jaded nature of modern cinematic audiences that is an achievement in itself.  

So sets, acting, effects, music, direction all great shiny and new is this the best film ever made? Well no it’s not. I was sold  Prometheus as a prequel to  Alien  so I cannot not help but to judge it as such. And as a massive fan of the first two movies my standards were high, especially after the disappointments of the later films and the hype surrounding Prometheus.  There are several plot holes that you could drive a tractor through. Some apparent during the film some that I had overlooked at the time but then came back to haunt me like a mean ex-girlfriend at a BBQ.  Scott went to so much trouble trying to create a story and a setting that leads you to Alien  that you establish have some expectations. Elements of the film did disappointed me in regards to franchise continuity. 

But let me be clear it did not suck. It certianly was not an overwhelming disappointment that quickly led to rage and then wine and then ranting and more wine and so on.  As a standalone film I think Prometheus is  enjoyable on many levels.  I think it let itself down unnecessarily and as someone invested in watching  it as a prequel this detracted from my enjoyment overall.

Five 1/2 space monkeys and if you want to see it I recomend that you make the effort to see it on the big screen.


8 Jun 2012

Rest in peace Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is dead.
He died this week aged 91 and the news of his passing has made me sad.

22 August 1920 - 05 June 2012
Ray Bradbury was a fantastic author of short stories and novels, also he adapted his works for Television in for the Ray Bradbury theatre and wrote screen plays for  movies like Moby Dick,  starring the fantastic Gregory Peck. This film in my opinion is the best adaption of Herman Melville's book. 

Ray Bradburys  most famous books are Farhrenheit-451  and the Martian Chronicles. Although personally I always liked  Something wicked this way comes which is about evil evil carnies.

I hate evil carnies.

When I was looking for photos for this post I noticed something. Ray Bradbury is almost always smiling or laughing.  On his website I found this quote

"In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior."- Ray Bradbury.


 He was creative and he was happy because he loved what he did, and I cannot imagine a better life to live. 


He was a prolific writer and wrote every single day. He was also important for not just writing great science fiction, but like H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne he was a writer of great literature. He believed that all his great works are based on something personal.  He loved cats, comic books, fairy tales, collectables, films and life.

"Love is in the centre of your life. The things that you do should be the things that you love. And things that you love should be things that you do. And that is what you learn from books" - Ray Bradbury.

He believed that books were deeply personal, and that when you read writers like; Emily Dickinson, John Steinbeck, Edgar Rice Burrows and Edgar Allan Poe that you became the authors, and by reading their stories you live through their creations.

" You have to go to the library for a an education. The Library is the answer."- Ray Bradbury.

He loved books and believed that the act of reading a book was more than just stimulation for the mind, but for the senses. The pictures, the cover, the smell. He believed that the act of reading from a book was better than a computer. I can't imagine that he would appreciate a kindle very much.

If you are interested in Mr Bradburys works then I suggest you investigate his website in the link above. If you want a recommendation of what to read, well as I said I liked Something wicked this way comes. But maybe in a world full of  terrible things like; the Kardasians, The GC, Hekia Parata, the Twilight books, the Twilight movies, the book  A shore thing  by Snooki, and Snooki, if you like me find these things shallow and terrible then you might find Farhrenheit-451  a great book. 


 I think that sums that up.

Good night Mr Bradbury you were a poet, a creator of worlds, a lover and advocate of books and you seemed to love of life with every atom of your being.

 I want to end now this post on a fun note, because Ray Bradbury was a fun man who adored life. And his death and writing this post has made me terribly sad.

I deliberated about adding this link for longer than it took me to write the rest of this post. I was worried that  it would be disrespectful to his memory. But I found this picture so think he wouldn't mind. 

Rachel Bloom and her hero Ray Bradbury

Here is a tribute by the funny Rachel Bloom. The video makes me laugh and I think with due respect to his greatness, we should remember important people with laughter rather than tears.




Good night

3 Jun 2012

The adaptation of Svenska

I was going to post about the movie  The people vs. George Lucas and discuss whether artists have the right to change their creations post release just as George Lucas has done with  Star Wars, and THX-38 and Steven Speilberg did with ET.

But as I was looking at the news on Stuff it appears that Charlie Gates has posted an article on stuff about the release of ET on Blue ray. 

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/blogs/the-picture-palace/7026454/Is-it-OK-for-directors-to-change-their-films

I sort of feel that my thunder has been stolen a little bit, and while as I write this I realise I had intended to discuss other subjects, I decided to just leave it until tomorrow when I feel less "band wagony".  But if you are interested in the new blue ray release of ET then I think you should check out Mr Gates post on stuff.

What I am going to discuss briefly today is adaptations.

I recently watched   The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,  The American adaption of the Swedish film of the same name. The Swedish film being an adaption of the best selling novels by Stieg Larsson.  The novels are on a list of books I want to read but I haven't as of yet. I did watch the Swedish films with my partner and we both really liked them. We liked them so much that when we heard that Hollywood was making an English version we both cringed. But after hearing about the cast, and then watching the trailer we decided to give it a go.

It was actually very good. I am not going to review it here today, but I will say it was the best adaptation of a foreign film I have ever seen.

In general Hollywood remake foreign films so they capitalise on an already successful product. Much in the same way they produce sequels willy nilly or how I eat Turkish delight.

Here a few examples of Hollywood remakes of foreign films.

The Assassin - Le Femme Nikita (French)
Three fugitives - Les Fugitifs (French)
The Departed - Infernal affairs (Hong Kong)
Let me in - Let the right one in (Swedish)
The Magnificent seven - The Seven Samurai (Japanese)
3 men and a baby - 3 Hommes et un couffin (French)
Dinner for Schmucks - The Dinner game (French)


But the creation behind these adaptations can be less mercenary than I have suggested.  I think it was John Badham the director of Assassin who was the driving force behind the remake because he loved Le Femme Nikita so much. But as it was a French film he thought most Americans would never watch it. He decided to create a version that a main stream audience would watch so he could share a story he loved so much. I can appreciate that sentiment.

Niels Arden Oplev the director of the Swedish adaptation of The girl with the Dragon tattoo was very unhappy about the Hollywood adaptation. He did not se the pont of the english language verison, and thought that it would detract from the wonderful perforamces of the Swedish actors.

http://www.wordandfilm.com/2010/11/girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-director-niels-arden-oplev-knows-what-women-want-to-be-lisbeth-salander/


And while I have an  automatic cringe response to Hollywood remakes of foreign films Badham is right. So many people will not watch a foreign film. It is not just Americans either.

Oh yes I felt your lip curl in disdain and arrogance at those Americans. But is the New Zealand public any better? or the Australian, or the Canadian or Australian audiences? I don't think so. It might be a shame, but it is a reality that most people do not like subtitled movies. 


But I am not saying there are no terrible remakes. While I said I appreciated Mr Badhams sentiment,  I did not enjoy the execution however. I thought Assassin was rubbish, and certainly not on parr with the original.

After viewing both versions of  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I wonder if the American remake is more based on the book? But then the look of the American version mirrored the Swedish film in many ways. Any way both are good and if you like foreign films, or just great films give The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a go. I will do a proper review later.

But in the mean time, Bra gjort Noomi Rapace, bra gjort!