Sunday, 26 September 2010

A Beautiful Mind - 30 Days of Crazy

This post is part of the Blog Cabins 30 days of crazy blogathon.

I have a confession to make... I chose 'A Beautiful Mind' as my blog-a-thon film because I thought I hated it.  I'd popped the film into the little box in my head marked 'crappy' and left it there since I first watched it years ago.  For some reason though, I was looking forward to re-watching it for this post, and here is the conclusion I have come to... it's bad... really really bad.

'A Beautiful Mind' tells the story of John Forbes Nash Jr.  He looks like this.

The film is based on a biography of the same name, written by Sylvia Nasar. It tells of his struggles to achieve greatness in the field of mathematics and, more interestingly (apparently) with his struggle to overcome paranoid schizophrenia.  It's written by Akiva Goldsman and directed by Ron Howard.

The film opens with Nash studying at Princeton.  He is coarse and uncomfortable and Russell Crowe festoons the character with a remarkable array of ticks.  He doesn't make eye contact, rubs his forehead, stutters and is painted with 'crazy' from the start.  His eccentric English roommate Charles is a lovely contrast to John's awkwardness. John is obsessed with having an 'original idea'.  He doesn't go to his classes, doesn't eat and takes his work to the campus bars.  The pretense of the film is therefore, ruined from the start.  John Nash is so obviously crazy that the audience immediately begins to question the set up. Why do none of his other friends talk to Charles?  

By the time I got to the main event - John's obsession with the Russians and certainty that he is being followed, the rest of the film is completely obvious.  What follows is a patronizing rundown of 'crazy man' cliches.  He's laughed at and mocked by students at the university.  He leaves his baby in a bath of water.  He falls out of his wheelchair in the mental hospital.  He realises his imaginary friends aren't real. He asks for another chance at Princeton.  He wins a nobel prize! Victory!  All is well again.  And he does all of it with perhaps the most syrupy, overly sentimental soundtrack I've ever heard.

The film takes a number of liberties with its source material.  Firstly, Nash's hallucinations were only ever auditory.  He never actually saw things that weren't there.  This would obviously present the filmmakers with a huge challenge and so the characters of Charles and Parcher were included to show his breakdown in a much more dramatic way.  The film describes Nash as taking 'newer medications' later in life when in fact he took none after 1970.  This was changed by the screenwriter in order to avoid the suggestion that denying medication can work for all schizophrenics. The film also misses out that Nash fathered a child before meeting Alicia but abandoned the family before the baby was born and that he and Alicia divorced in 1963, remarrying in 2001.  Again, I understand the reasons for missing out these facts but I can't help but feel, had they been included, the film would feel more real and less cliched.

I realise that many people love this film so, to make this a little more well rounded, there were things I liked.  The film looks lovely.  The period details are spot on - I love the Nash's kitchen.

You can't deny that Crowe puts in an impressive performance, especially in the later part of the film.  When they begin to age him and he returns to Princeton, his performance feels much more authentic and calm.  

Paul Bettany is wonderful in most things and he doesn't disappoint here.  The character was originally American but, after seeing Bettany in A Knights Tale, Howard and Goldsman changed their mind.  And who can blame them? If he played a variation of that character in everything he'd do all right.  

I think the heart of film belongs to Jennifer Connelly.  She won an Oscar for her performance and I really think she deserved it.  She is strong, vibrant and a pleasure to watch.  

I've been trying to decide what this film adds to the debate about the portrayal of the mentally ill in Hollywood.  I think films which deal with subject in a realistic way can be powerful and interesting, as well as entertaining.  Unfortunately 'A Beautiful Mind' is the other kind.  It’s a film that exploits sentimentality and cliché in an attempt to win awards.  It's a shame that the story of an obviously brilliant and complex man can be reduced to this.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Titanic 2!

The Asylum are back!

If you thought that Mega Piranha was the pinnacle of this straight to DVD production house's achievements then you were mistaken.  

I've only recently become aware of this kind of film and I can't help but think they're great.  Yes, they are ripping off other stories but, as discussed in the last post, that's just what happens.  They're silly and nonsensical.  They have hammy acting and crappy special effects.  They are oddly endearing though.

The Asylum also made Paranormal Entity, Snakes on a Train and, who could forget, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. 

Behold!  Titanic 2 in all its trailery glory.


“I'd like to thank all of you for joining me on this day that'll go down in this nation's history.  A day where the lives lost on board this ship's predecessor were remembered with the creation of the greatest, fastest, most sophisticated ship ever created. The Titanic 2!”  Is it just me or is there an issue with tenses in this opening?

“Let’s make history.”  What?  By not sinking this time around? 

Bruce Davison has a “bad feeling”.  I’d have one too if I was on a boat called the TITANIC 2!

“It looks like history’s repeating itself.”  Maybe that’s because you’re on the TITANIC 2! On the same course as the first one?  I don’t know much about icebergs, and maybe the killer one from the first movie (or, you know, real life!) has moved or something, but surely this new ship has got like, radar… and navigation equipment?  No? Ok.

Maybe there’s no iceberg this time.  It could all be to do with the wave that’s mentioned at the end of the trailer.  Maybe it’s a political commentary on global warming.

It looks like good, crappy fun to me.  But if this isn’t your thing, and you prefer the creature features, never fear! Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus is coming soon!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sequels, Remakes and Reboots... The good, the bad & the ugly.

This post is part of Kid in the Front Row’s blogathon.  You can find the original post here.

Re-telling stories is nothing new.  Before stories could be recorded permanently, they had to be passed down from generation to generation, in order to survive.  This oral tradition still survives in many parts of the world and incorporates acting and song as well as speech.  It’s a really fascinating area to look into… but not much to do with Hollywood’s version!  The universal motivation here is, of course cold, hard cash.  And why not!  You see a good film or make a good film and of course you’d love to repeat that success.  You can almost hear the studio bosses shouting “AGAIN, AGAIN!” like deranged Teletubbies… So why does lightning hardly ever strike in the same place twice?

Some people buy into the theory that “there are no new ideas, only new ways of making them felt”.   I really hope this isn’t true… because if some of this lot are what comes out of that, then we might be screwed…


I have fewer problems with sequels than the other 2 categories so let’s start here.  If I watch a good film, with memorable characters and a good script then of course, I want to love it all over again.  You get all excited at the thought of it and some live up to your expectations.  But some don’t. 

The Good

Terminator 2

So much cooler than the original.  It has an engaging bad guy and, if you watch it when you’re 12, it makes a lasting impression.

Iron Man

I liked Iron Man 2.  It had enough of the stuff I liked about the first one, plus it had the volume turned up to 11.  What more do you want from a superhero sequel?

The Dark Knight

These 3 categories are so incestuous!  The sequel to the reboot… you keeping up?  This film is, of course, awesome. Bigger and better than the previous one and manages to stand alone as a completely engaging addition to the Batman story.

I’m not going to talk about Toy Story in this post because they deserve one all to themselves.  Needless to say, I love them all.

The Bad


It pains me to say this, it really does.  I have a soft spot for all the Jaws sequels.  I’m just weak that way.  They are terrible though.  The original is one of my favourite films.  In fact, it should be one of everybody’s favourite films.  As funny as they are, they can’t be mentioned in the same breath as the original.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde

I really enjoy the first Legally Blonde film.  It’s got a great central character that goes on one of those ‘journey’ things we hear so much about. (I hate that word so much!) The sequel comes along and Reese Witherspoon has signed up so we can all rest easy right?  Nope.  The first film never happened.  Elle is the same as she was at the start of the first film.  It’s just bad.

Oceans 12

Another sequel to a reboot!  I can’t even bring myself… you all know why it’s rubbish.

The Ugly

Sex and the City 2

The first was bad.  (Does it count as a reboot if it comes from TV?)  The second is just offensive.  My full review is here if you can be bothered. 


I might show myself up a little bit here.  I haven’t seen all of the original films that these remakes have come from but that’s ok right?  Right?!  I don’t really mind if they’re good compared to the source, as long as they’re good films in their own right.  And I think these are! 

The Good

The Departed

Remade from Infernal Affairs.  I watched this for the first time last week.  I really don’t know what took he so long.  It’s amazing.  The characters are complex and believable.  The film sucks you into its’ world, chews you up and spits you out.  It made me happy and sad and angry all at the same time.  And Jack Nicholson might actually be the devil.  And a little nugget for all you IMDb trivia fans, it is the Best Picture winner with the most uses of the word ‘fuck’ in all its’ forms… 237 don’tcha know.

Oceans 11

It’s fun, breezy, complicated enough to feel like a real film, and the cast are obviously having a great time. (Something that will come back to bite them in the ass in the sequel.)

Father of the Bride

A bit out of left field, I know, but I LOVE Father of the Bride.  I’m sure the 1950 original is great.  Spencer Tracy and Liz Taylor are a great reference but… Martin Short!

Brewster’s Millions

Yep, again, I know… I have a problem.  The original is from 1945.  I’m sure it’s great but…Richard Prior and John Candy!

The Bad


I’ve seen this one!  The Michael Caine version isn’t great.  I don’t love it anyway but it’s a damn sight better that Jude ‘smuggy’ Law’s effort.  Urgh, I feel mucky just thinking about it.


This is an interesting one for me.  Why doesn’t it work?  Answers on a postcard please.  It’s got to be the performances, or the set, or the lighting, or the colour right?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s the knowledge that it’s a cynical experiment that ruins it.  Something is just missing.  Creativity.

The Ugly


So terrible.  No excuse!


I know it's meant to be cancelled... please let it stay that way!  I can’t bear thinking about it.


It’s not going to be Wednesday much longer so I’m going to sum up reboots as quickly as possible. 
Sex and the City – BAD
Batman – GOOD
Karate Kid – BAD
Hulk – 1 BAD & 1 GOOD - The next one… fingers crossed!

To sum up… Good sequels, remakes and reboots are good. And bad ones?  Well, at least they’re fun to argue about!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A Challenge!

I have a challenge for you dearest readers...

Can you think of a more spectacular looking couple than newlyweds Javier Bardem & Penelope Cruz?

Leave me a comment with your suggestions!

Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson & RIP Harvey Pekar

Some nasty chaps on tonight... so let's start with someone nicer to lift our spirits.  
Oh.  He died.  Damn.

Harvey Pekar died yesterday.  For anyone who's not heard of him, Harvey was a comic book writer who wrote the autobiographical series 'American Splendor'.  He also worked as a filing clerk and a freelance writer, winning awards for some of his essays.  He also wrote the incredibly moving 'Our Cancer Year', a graphic novel about his struggle with cancer.  

I'll be watching American Splendor again this weekend.  You guys should check it out.  He was cool.

Straight on to Mel.  Again.  Oh dear Mel...  By now we've all heard the original tape.  It's clear that it's him (I think anyway, and still no denials from his 'people').  But now another transcript has been released.

Here are a few choice quotes...

“Threaten ya? I’ll put you in a f *ckin rose garden you c*nt! You understand that? Because I’m capable of it. You understand that?”

Oksana: What kind of a man is that? Hitting a woman when she’s holding a child in her hands? Breaking her teeth twice in the face! What kind of man is that?
Mel: Oh, you’re all angry now! You know what, you f* cking deserved it!

Okay, correct me if I'm wrong, but that's a death threat and an admission that he did assault her and knock her teeth out.  Right?  Surely?  No statement of innocence has been made and he's been dropped by William Morris.  Surely he can't come back from this?  Can he?  Who, in their right mind, would put him in a film?  Unless it's a documentary about his spectacular downfall.  He's been a director lately, but who would finance his film?  That's got to be it.  For a few years at least?

But it's ok Mel, because Whoopi Goldberg has leapt to your defence!  You can watch it here.  But here's what she said.

"You can say he’s being a bonehead but I can’t sit and say that he’s a racist having spent time with him in my house with my kids. I can’t say it and so I really just need to say that. I don’t like what he’s done. Make no mistake. …
Drunks say stupid stuff to people all the time because they’re drunk. They’re out of control. They are not thinking they are idiotic. That’s why I don’t like alcohol. I can’t say anything about that because I know what people are like when they’re drunk. This rant, I don’t think he’s drunk on this rant."

Erm, ok...  the good old, "some of his best friends are black" defence.  Interesting strategy...  Slightly undermined by the old, "drunks say stupid stuff all the time, but I don't actually think he's drunk" tactic.  Excellent work Whoopi.  You've made not one bit of difference to his situation, and you've made yourself look like an idiot. 

Funny video time!  By way of an apology for the rather depressing subject matter that's coming up....

Quiz time!  Who links despicable old men, with Whoopi Goldberg?  Aah yes, Roman Polanski!

I've got to cut the sarcasm here because I'm genuinely flabbergasted by this whole sorry mess.  Here's the history.

In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor.  The 13 year old girl testified that he had given her champagne and a sedative, then performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her.  Polanski pleaded not guilty to 5 of the charges and entered a plea bargain in order to get those 5 charges dropped.  It soon became clear that the judge may not accept his plea and so he would get a much harsher sentence than he had anticipated.  Instead of accepting his fate, he fled the country to France, where he knew he would not be sent back.  

In 2009 he was arrested as he arrived at Zurich airport and placed under house arrest.  Yesterday, the Swiss courts decided that they would not grant America's request for extradition, and set him free.  He just needs to avoid countries that are likely to grant their request and he will stay free.

There is a lot of talk about procedure and the legal system and it's loopholes.  Apparently it would be unfair to imprison him due to mistakes that have been made regarding his case.  Ok, that I can accept.  I don't understand it, the man admitted guilt, surely that's enough, but if that's how the system works then I've no choice but to accept it.  What I can't accept though are the excuses.  Let's go back to Whoopi.  She imparted her wisdom on 'The View' back in 2009.  

"I know it wasn't rape-rape. It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape. He went to jail and and when they let him out he was like "You know what this guy's going to give me a hundred years in jail I'm not staying, so that's why he left."

Aah, not "rape-rape".  Thanks, that clears everything up. (Oops, sarcasm creeping back. Can't help it!)  It can't be rape-rape, it was in Jack Nicholson's house!  It can't be 'rape-rape", the man directed Chinatown!  

132 prominent members of Hollywood signed a petition supporting him.  I will never understand that.  I understand that the victim herself has asked for the charges to be dropped due to the amount of time that has passed.  He still raped a 13 year old.  I get that he's made some good films.  He still raped a 13 year old.  

I believe that there are shades of grey in all situations.  I believe that rules should not exist simply to have rules.  I believe that every situation should be judged on it's individual circumstances and that morality sometimes must be fluid.  But the man said this in an interview with Martin Amis in 1979.

“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”

He doesn't deserve any of it.


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Lindsey Lohan and an incredibly lazy 'Killer Inside Me' review

So lazy I'm not going to write one...

The person I saw it with did it first and well, his review is ace, so go HERE and read it!

I enjoyed it.  It's a film that stays with you long after the credits roll.  One that requires actual thought.  The performances are excellent and the controversy that surrounded it on its release just serves to make the film more interesting.  All of the various readings, positive and negative, have a place at the table.  I can see why some people hated it and others loved it.  Let me know what you thought.

In other news...poor Lohan.  It's not a good week for drunk celebrities! (She's not been an actress for a while which is a shame cos she could be good... Celebrity is the only thing I can call her)

She's been sentenced for 90 days in prison for violating her probation.  Lindsay has given the world some laughs in the last few years with her 'antics' but it's just a little bit sad now.  She obviously has problems but her defence seemed to consist of "yeah but I couldn't help missing rehab cos I was in Cannes cos my life's really difficult like."  Is that really going to wash with this lady?

Nope.  She said "I couldn't have been more clear.  There are no excuses." Oops.

Obviously I don't know her or her family but I can't help but think that they might be part of the problem.  Her ex-alcoholic, been to jail for alleged involvement in insider trading, born again christian father can't be much help.  Here he is on Larry King on the day of the case...

Here he is a couple of hours later 'crying' outside the court..

And here he is a few hours later, smiling for the cameras in a bar...

Is the fact that I have access to all these photos part of the problem?  Why are we obsessed with watching people destroy themselves?  Her most substantial contributions to society are Mean Girls (which to be fair is pretty cool), and designing leggings with padded knees... erm, yeah, thanks Linds.

We should probably all look away now... maybe she'll be ok?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sunday Selection - Mel Gibson, Last Airbender & Movie Insults

What better way to start than with a bit of Mel Gibson.
Oh Mel.
Mel, Mel, Mel.

I wish I could remember you like this...

Instead I'm always going to think of you like this...

Oh dear.
In case you hadn't heard, Mel Gibson has offended everyone again.  Click here for the full story.  Just imagine I'm saying the word 'allegedly' a lot in this post.  I can't bothered typing it when it's all going to turn out to be true anyway.
I've been reading a lot of comments on different websites about this (bad idea by the way) and there are a few things leaping out at me that really don't sit well with me.

Firstly, his use of THAT word.  Opinion seems to be that it's just a word.  It's only offensive when put in the right (or wrong) context.... Have these people read the quote?!  I'm not sure I can think of a worse context for the word to appear in.  He wishes rape on the mother of his child by, we can only assume, people he thinks of as less than him.  Otherwise he'd be threatening to do it himself.

Next, the focus on racism.  Yes it's terrible and, given his comments about jews from the last time he opened his mouth, interesting to comment on.  Throw in the holocaust denying father and it's a great story but what about the rest?
Threatening to burn the house down followed by "but you will blow me first" just isn't cool Mel.  I've a feeling that line will become infamous.  This, along with the allegations that he knocked her teeth out adds up to some pretty disgusting behaviour.  

Mel explained away his last outburst as "the ramblings of a drunkard"  Will he try to do the same here?  I hope not.  It's much too serious for that.  People will lose patience.  How terrible do his actions have to be before he's forced to get help?

In the interest of balance, here's a question for you.  Does knowing these things about him, or any other celebrity, affect how you see them and their work?  This might be different for everyone.  I think it will with me.  My brain knows that it shouldn't matter.  A good performance is a good performance.  A good director a good director.  Actors are human and make mistakes.  Mel just doesn't seem to be doing a good job of being a human and that's something that sticks in my throat.

On to cheerier news.  You know when a film has just opened and fans are asked for their first reactions? Turns out they're not always good.  Poor Last Airbender... not the publicity they were hoping for.

Last but certainly not least, this amazing video of the 100 greatest movie insults.  It's 10 mins long and VERY sweary but brilliant.

A couple of faves...

"Hey laser lips, your mamma was a snowblower!"

"Look up 'idiot' in the dictionary, do you know what you'll find?"
"A picture of me?"
"No.  The definition of the word idiot, which you fucking are."

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

In & Out

I wanted to post something tonight but I don't have much time.  I know 'in & out' posts are really lazy but I always enjoy reading them so here goes...


The return of Mad Men

I love this programme so much.  The performances, the clothes, the period detail and the deceptively paced plot.  Some viewers find it slow; I find it mesmerising.

Helen Mirren!

Seriously, the woman's got balls.

New York Magazine features an interview with her about her latest film Love Ranch. There are 2 pretty sexy photos... One is above, to see the other you'll need to look at the article here and view the slideshow.  I really think it's brave for her to pose like that.  Of course, she seems to be able to do no wrong at the moment but there will inevitably come negative comments from a shoot like this.  I think she looks awesome.


I can't help it...I'm a geek when it comes to tennis.

I love it.  There's something about watching it that makes me think about summer and ice lollies and the end of school.  I know I'm 27, but I work in a school so I still get to enjoy that feeling.  I love the brilliant green courts and the rain delays.  I love spotting famous faces in the crowd.  I just love the 'Britishness' of the whole thing.  And I really don't mind that you're all judging me right now.

The cartoons on this site are fab.  They make me smile... here are a few of my favorites.  You should go & check out the site.


This NYPD dude.

I know the police do a really difficult job but holy crap this video is horrible...

The budget

Haven't got my head around all of the ways it could totally screw the country yet but i've got a bad feeling...

And finally

Toy Story 3 paranoia!

I don't think I can wait!

I'm proud to admit that the first 2 Toy Story films would appear in my top 10 favorite films ever.  They're just brilliant.  However, the fact it won't appear in UK cinema's for the a few more weeks is driving me potty.  I just can't wait.  I feel like I've got to exist with a bag over my head and my fingers in my ears until I've seen it.  I'm trying really hard to stay in the dark but it's SO hard.

Let me know what you think about any of this stuff in comments!