Classic Movie Quest: Some Like It Hot

Monday 22 April, 2013

This is really another film that I went into blindly, and that hasn’t worked out well for me so far, if I’m honest. And of all the people I mentioned this film to, only one person had both seen it and liked it.

Well, maybe that’s the key, because I can honestly say that of all the films I’ve watched so far for the Classic Movie Quest, I enjoyed watching this one the most! I actually properly laughed at the bits people are meant to laugh at. That hardly ever happens with me!

It’s very loosely based on a French “drag comedy” called La Cage aux Folles, a film which has a closer American remake in the form of a film called The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Hank Azaria. That’s another film which never fails to make me laugh every time, for the record.

And alright, it’s not the most politically correct of films in this day and age. If two men dressed up as women and successfully infiltrated a woman’s band in order to escape the mafia after accidentally witnessing a mass execution – talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time – in real life, it’d be, quite frankly, very weird and worrying, especially for the women involved.

But it would still have the air of so surreal, you have to laugh to it, if you disregard the seriousness of the Saint Valentines Day Massacre… And built on that, you have this comedy.

It stars Tony Curtis (Joe), Jack Lemmon (Jerry) and Marilyn Monroe (Sugar Kane). Like I said, it’s about two men, both talented musicians, who accidentally witness the Saint Valentines Day Massacre and have to go on the run to avoid being killed by said Mafia. They dress up in drag, join a women’s band, one catches the eye of a womanising millionaire with a yacht, and hilarity ensues.

Some parts do come off as skeezy, which is unavoidable. Both Jerry and Joe compete to gain the affections of talented ukulele player and solo singer, Sugar, and, Jerry more than Joe, struggle to remember that doing so would put their disguises at risk. Which is why Joe takes up yet another disguise as a millionaire with a yacht, taking advantage of the fact that a real millionaire with a yacht named Osgood Fielding III has not only docked at the beach, but is vying for Jerry-in-drag’s attention.

This film is nothing more than a farce, it is meant to be seen as nothing more than a comedy, but for the time it was done and set, it’s actually quite a “modern” story. I mean this in the most positive way, but it borders on Carry-On-Film territory for most of the film. And for a farce, it makes for a good example of the social conventions that are only being questioned today.

Of course, all good films have to go wrong before they end on a happy note. The Mafia make another appearance, there is a chase which is just as funny as it is life-threatening, and poor Sugar is left chasing their tails as they end up on Osgood’s boat, safe from the Mafia once again.

Luckily, she can jump really well, but unfortunately for the now less-than enthusiastic Jerry, Osgood still wants to marry him despite knowing he’s a man. Talk about modern!

I really did like this film. It is dated, but there’s no getting around that fact, considering it’s a black and white film from 1958 based in 1929. It is not for anyone a part of the Social Justice Warriors or take Political Correctness to the extreme, but I would recommend it to those who know a good laugh when they see it, and I definitely would watch it again.


Classic Movie Quest: All About Eve

Monday 25 March, 2013

I don’t know if this will surprise anyone or not, but I genuinely liked All About Eve. I really liked it!

Despite figuring out the twist of Eve lying about her life and how it lead to her latching on to Bette Davis’s Margo almost as soon as the character starting tell her story to the whole group, I still found the film interesting enough to keep watching through to the end. Just knowing that one piece of information didn’t give the rest of the film away (As apose to something like the 6th Sense, which I figured out half through the film and spend the other half hoping that it wouldn’t end in the cop out I was imagining it could be. Predictably, it did), especially as we’re already shown the ending at the beginning and the rest of the film is shown in flashback form.

I think what kept my attention despite my brain already spoiling the big shock for me, is the fact that by now, it’s a common plot twist found in many television series and films by now, regardless of genre, on top of the sheer fact that I like these sort of twists when executed well. A La Folie Pas Du Tout, for example, is one that is executed very well and a must see if you’re a fan of either All About Eve or Play Misty For Me.

And that’s because there’s a whole story to unravel besides the twist. I might have known Eve was lying, but I didn’t know why, I didn’t know what was the truth, I didn’t know how it lead to the end scene, which we saw first, and I certainly didn’t know how I’d feel about the characters as the story progressed.

It’s very easy to see Bette Davis’s character as a bitter old woman, resentful of a younger fresher face on the scene, paranoid to the highest degree over her friends finding a place in their group for this young up-and-comer who started out as a lowly fan. It’s very easy to see her as the rest of the group see her and the situation, that Margo is anticipating the fall of her career after reaching forty and can’t handle aging, and sees anyone younger as the enemy, and anyone helping anyone younger is also the enemy.

But the thing is, is that even if you know the twist or not, the audience sees the manipulation side of it too. Eve is an opportunist and she carries around a kicked puppy look wherever she goes. Margo’s friends have taken her under her wing, they give her opportunities because they feel like she deserves them, and she eats them up because she knows the worse she makes it for Margo, the easier it is for her to take her place. After all, she is a very good actress.

We see as she moves in on the characters, one by one, from Margo to her friend Karen, wife of the Lloyd Richards, who writes the plays that Margo stars in, to Lloyd himself. She orchestrates situations where she has to fill in for Margo, with a theatre critic watching.

It’s mesmorising. Watching it all unfold is honestly mesmerising.

And doesn’t it say something about the ignorance of the acting industry that a woman hitting forty is just as at risk of losing grip on her career in today’s society as she was over fifty years ago? Alright, so it’s got better over the last couple of years, we are seeing more genuinely older ladies on the screen and in theatre, I think that’s down to the way we percieve middle age these days. But older women actors are few, far between, and in the majority. The parts aren’t as varied as for other dynamics, that’s for sure.

But back to All About Eve. I can’t fault it at all. Bette Davis, Anne Baxtor, Celeste Holm and the rest were amazing. This film deserves it’s place on the list of Must See Classic Movies. I would watch it again and I would recommend it.


Classic Movie Quest: Casablanca

Sunday 17 March, 2013

Casablanca, the film that originally sparked the idea for the Classic Movie Challenge, due to everyone’s surprise, shock, horror and disgust of my never having seeing this film before.
“What? Never!?” They’d ask in disbelief.
“Nope, never” I’d reply, “It’s not really my kind of film.”

But they’d insist that there’s no such thing, that this is a film that has something for everone, and that I must absolutely watch this film some day in the near future.

Well, six months later since it was last suggested to me, that’s exactly what I did.

I’m afraid to go against the grain on this, but whilst this is a good film and the acting is excellent, I don’t get the fuss. In all honesty, I found this film to be caked in overhype.

The story is basically about an American man, Rick Blaine (Bogart), who is stranded in Casablanca, which is in the temporarily pro-German Vichy French “protectorate” of Morrocco and runs a secret illegal casino frequented by a large variety of people who otherwise wouldn’t normally share breathing space with each other. In lamens terms, Casablanca is a town in the middle of nowhere, Morocco, and has a population dynamic made up of Nazis, locals, and refugees of various Occupied Countries who are waiting for tickets out to safer places.

The tickets (called transport papers in this) aren’t just expensive for those in poverty, they’re impossible to get. The only way seems to either be to pass on information to the corrupt police or to steal them from someone who already did, which was the method of poor old Peter Lorre’s character Ugarte. Ugarte only lived long enough to pass them on to Rick for safe keeping, he was taken in by said corrupt police shortly after and later died in custody.

Poor old Peter Lorre.

Admittedly, this isn’t sounding too much of a bad story so far. Not the strongest of films to keep me entertained, but not bad. Unfortunately, all of that was established and took place within the first twenty minutes, and it all went downhill from there.

No matter what anyone says, this film is absolutely, 100%, a love story that just happens to be set in the specific equivalent of Occupied France. (See the whole Protectorate thing above.) Rick has held a candle for his long lost love Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman, for far too long. He has banned his piano man and possible best friend Sam (the famous Sam!) from playing “As Time Goes By” within his hearing for fear it’d remind him of the heart ache, and unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what Ilsa wants him to play the second she sees him. I don’t know if we’re meant to sympathise with Ilsa’s so called tragic love story or not at some point in the film, but I certainly didn’t. Mostly because it’s not really a tragic love story, it’s a love story set during what was a very oppressive, very stressful tragic time. Really, considering everything, I’d say she of all the characters had it the most easy. Unlike her husband who was a known fugitive needing a way of escape, and unlike Rick who’d already risked his life for the good cause and ended up in Casablanca.

I did like the battle of the the national anthems, though. Not just that the everyone in the bar sung along to a national anthem that might not have even been theirs to spite the Nazis, but it also showed that Rick wasn’t as neutral as he was making out to be. He nodded, he gave the orchestra permission, he didn’t stop them overpowering the voices of those singing Die Wacht am Rhein. For as bland as the rest of the film was, on a whole, that part wasn’t.

And for an extra bit of trivia, I looked it up to see whether Hornblower borrowed the idea of having the little boy singing La Marseille to the Marquis in the episode The Frogs and The Lobsters, which was set during the French Revolution, and apparently they did.

And my problems with this film doesn’t cloud my judgement – it is a very good film for those who like these sort of films. People can think deeply about it if they’d like to, or they can stick to the more shallower levels and just admire the supposed tragic love story. The acting is fantastic, the music is perfect. It might not be pitch-perfect to those perfectionists out there, but the singing and the instruments all have that natural sound for it that doesn’t need to be pitch-perfect.

But I can honestly say that my favourite part of the whole film was when it ended. The story tied up and Rick got away.

I’m aware that as a generalisation, I might be that one exception, but there really isn’t something for everyone in this film. There’s better love stories out there, there’s better films about war oppression. I’m only glad I watched this film to put an end to the recommendations that follow the shocked faces.


Classic Movie Quest: Apocalypse Now (Redux)

Tuesday 5 March, 2013

This is not a film for the faint-hearted. I am not faint-hearted, but I’m also not that keen on war films. My one exception so far is Full Metal Jacket, which is coincidentally another film about the Vietnam War. Both of them aren’t my usual cup of tea, but it’s like I’ve said before: I can recognise a good film when I see one.

I don’t know how much of a difference there is between the Redux version and the original release, other than the running time being 202 minutes against the original’s 153 minutes. I’m assuming that the film narrative, plot and ending stays the same. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong…

So, yeah, the topic of the film is rather grim. The main character played by Martin Sheen (Willard) goes on what can only be described as a suicide mission to kill a crazed, rogue Special Forces Officer who went AWOL (Kurtz) and set up his own renegade army in cambodia. But you can’t deny it catches the bleakness if war quite well, along with the extremes of relief you’ll find at war:

The Cabin Fever an action-hungry soldier feels when waiting for orders after sitting stagnate for too long, shown at the very beginning of the film, and the levels of insanity some soldiers go through to get some normality back in their life in the middle of a long, endless mission.

Obviously I’m referring to the Surfer Soldiers. To the normal person, accepting a mission based on the ability to surf might seem ludicrous, but to the Lueitennant Colonel in charge (Bill Kilgore), meeting with Willard to take him to the Veit Kong River, it’s a fantastic idea! And not just that, but when the proverbial hits the fan, he’s still expecting his men to surf through the waters even under enemy fire.

I don’t know if we’re meant to believe so many years of active service has made Kilgore crazy, or if he signed up and lasted so long because he was crazy from the very beginning, but either way, his name says it all…

The thing is, this being a war film, I expected it to be like the others I’ve seen. Bridge on th River Kwai, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Dirty Dozen, films like that, where, alright, the characters might not be perfect angels but there’s a very set Good vs Evil, Us vs Them feel to it. Our good side can do no wrong because they’re defeating the evil enemies. This is another film I went into blind, not knowing much about the film other than it being set during the Viet Nam war.

This film is not as clean cut. If there’s one thing that hits you throughout all the film it is that The Needs of the Many Outweigh The Needs of the Few, like many other war films. But the enemy in the other war films are very much portrayed as being in with the side of the enemy (All Germans Are Nazis, All Ally Traitors are Nazis, switch relevance to the relevant national enemy etc etc). With Apocolypse Now, the further along the movie got, the more desperate Willard got and it meant there was a wider definition of Enemy. He was to complete his mission using any means necessary, and if that meant he’d have to kill people getting in the way of his mission because they were, for all intents and purposes, enemies, so be it. But their deaths lead to him completing his mission sooner, which meant the death of the main enemy, which meant The Many could survive and live.

I think if he’d have been part of a group of soldiers, it would have been easier to see them as good actions, but for some part of the film, it felt like it was just one desperate man who’d lost all of his morals just to see an end. And that’s probably intended.

That’s probably how war really is.

Personally I… well, enjoyed seems the wrong word so I’ll go with “remained interested for the whole film”. I won’t go out of my way to watch it again, because it really isn’t my usual cup of tea, but this film was good. The acting was amazing, the camera work was fantastic and I found the plot, although difficult to stick with at times, was rolled out with perfect realism. It’s no wonder this film is critically acclaimed.

It is very much worth at least the one watch for those people like me who are missing out on the classics.


Classic Movie Quest: “Great Expectations (1946)” and “Bringing Up Baby (1938)”

Monday 25 February, 2013

Great Expectations (1946)

Great expectations. what can I say about the 1946 version of Great Expectations, starring John Mills and Alec Guinness?

Well, to reflect my real opinion, I’ll try to keep it brief.

I had Great Expectations for this film (I saw an opportunity and I seized it) and they all fell flat.

Admittedly, I didn’t know the full story before I watched the film, I’ve never read the book. I do like Dickens, though, so part of my expectations were based on that.

It’s hard to say whether it’s the film I had a problem with, or the story and the characters from the original novel, if the film is considered close enough for that.

The main problem I had was that I didn’t find any of the characters likeable, but I didn’t dislike them enough to care to know their back stories and they’re motivation anyway. In one way, they are real reflections and representations of flawed people you find in real life throughout history, in another, there’s nothing else to them and I found them too boring, and annoying, to watch.

I would go into a summary of the story, but it’s too complex to sum-up adequately  All I can really say is that I found it to be a story of loose ends tied up with the help of a contrived love story.

If the novel is better than this film depicts, maybe when I watch a later version I’ll end up feeling differently.

1 point for good acting, another point for brilliant casting.

Bringing Up Baby (1938):

I had to stop watching this film when Katherine Hepburn’s character stole Cary Grant’s character’s clothes to get them “pressed”.

If there’s one thing that gets my blood boiling, it’s manipulative people getting their way because they make out that something they’ve done that upsets, annoys or disturbs the person was just them trying to be helpful.

I didn’t see what happened next, but in real like the manipulative person tells the upset person that they were only trying to help, they’re being unappreciative and there’s no need to be like that. I wasn’t to watch another minute of it for fear that that was going to be used as some sort of RomCom plot device, considering her actions up until that point were lesser one’s of the same variety.

I can understand how that situation might have been funny and read differently back when the film was set, back when the film was made, but I’m surprised to find just how much people like this film in this day and age of political correctness and social awareness gone mad. This is the day and age where Tom Thumb is considered racist and ableist, and yet Katherine Hepburn’s Character’s actions are accepted as romantic comedy hi jinx.

…But then we’ve recently been given 50 Shades of Gray, which is also considered romantic for some unfathomable reason, instead of the abusive and unsafe relationship it really is, so I don’t know why I’m so surprised, really.


Classic Movie Quest: “Dr Strangelove” and “Bonnie & Clyde”

Sunday 17 February, 2013

Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying blah blah blah etc etc.

Starring Peter Sellers. I didn’t go into this completely blind, I knew 2 very important things:

1) It was a Peter Sellers movie, which meant it was guaranteed to be weird and a peculiar brand of funny.
2) It was satire based on the Cold War/Russian Spies/Nuclear Weapons fall out.

Unfortunately, that sums up all I can say about the plot (if there was one…) and in turn the characters. I couldn’t gel with it. Maybe it wasn’t my brand of humour, or maybe it was and it just fell flat for me. Either way, I didn’t find it funny enough to stick with it through the mind-boggling quick-cut narrative. I can’t say whether this is a good film despite my dislike of it, because it was just too bizarre for me to form an opinion on it either way beyond “dislike”. Maybe the point of the film is to power through the bizarre elements for the sake of experiencing the humouress parts? I don’t know. I really can’t say…

So, I gave up at the 40 minute mark. I might have given it more time, as I did like the board room scenes, but I felt like I already knew them and how those scenes would pan out thanks to watching Monsters Vs Aliens. Which I think says more about me than it does the film, unfortunately…


Bonnie & Clyde

Yet another film I went into blind (I have got to stop doing that). I knew nothing about the film beyond the fact that it was based on real-life events and people.

Unfortunately, not knowing much about the real people other than the basic fact that they were real people that were part of a criminal gang made it even more difficult to tell what was basic fact, what had been through the Hollywood Plot Device Machine, and what was somewhere between the two extremes. And I still haven’t really looked into them, so admittedly I’m still just as ignorant as I was before watching it.

Comparing it with Titanic, which was a very real event dramatised with (somewhat questionably-) plausible but fictional events, it’s hard to see these people really existing. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe they were so detached from society, that the film is more accurate than what I’d like to believe. The film, from what I saw, didn’t delve very far into the rest of the gang and that’s what baffled me further. Am I really meant to believe that two self-named “bank robbers” were able to just pick up willing strangers along the way to join their gang, with just a friendly conversation? Is that how it really happened? I wasn’t expecting an executive hiring process but it’s just so unbelievable to think they met these random people just completely by absolute random happenstance and that those people just willingly agreed to join them! Them, as in Bonnie & Clyde, known fugitives of the law!

And whilst I’m on it, at the point where Bonnie Parker is declaring to everyone within hearing distance that they’re “bank robbers”, not only is there no “they” about it, because Clyde had done all the robbing alone up to that point, but also when they did eventually attempt to rob a bank together for the first time robbing a bank together, Clyde went in with his gun, Bonnie was in the car… and the bank was empty. It had gone bust. So even then there was no “robbery”. Yet there she was, claiming plural bank robberies!

As a film in and of itself, from the 40 minutes I forced myself to watch, it was boring and overly romantic. I felt like the director behind the film was trying to make these people characters three dimensional people that I was meant to sympathise with, or at least Bonnie Parker; But from the moment she encouraged Clyde’s attention (And I feel awful saying it like that but that seems to the most accurate way to describe her actions towards him at the beginning), all sympathy points were dissolved and made null and void.

And if that’s the way it really happened, there’s not much I can say, is there? The film becomes even more frustrating to watch.


Tokyo Revelation – This isn’t a review.

Thursday 24 January, 2013

Exactly what it says on the tin. This is something about Tokyo Revelation, but i’m not sure it really qualifies as a review. It’s certainly not intended to be a review, not like Shackleton was or the LoveFilm challenge reviews will be.

Anyway, without further ado…

I first watched Tokyo Revelation when I was fourteen, and I watched it with my fellow anime-nut friend. She was the one who got me into anime, actually, and she’d heard good things about this film. This was when the Sci-Fi Channel was spelt properly, and had anime on anytime between 11:30pm and 4am, depending on their schedule. It was very unusual for any anime to be on as early as 11:30, actually, but it happened on two occasions that I know of.

Anyway, so, this wasn’t on at 11:30 at night, it was on during the more usual hour of 2am. Like I said, she’d heard good things about it, where as I I hadn’t heard anything about it at all, so it was going to be an experience to watch it, especially because I usually taped the shows and films on that late instead of watching them as they aired.

So we watched it… And, well, we were left quite baffled, actually. I thought I’d missed something really obvious, but my friend was confused too.

If I was to give you a summary of it, it would have been “A creepy guy is part computer virus. He used to be in love with his best friend, the time line wonked for a bit and then they both died. And then there was four solid minutes of floating characters amongst cherry blossom as a woman’s voice repeats the words ‘It dies and blossoms, dies and blossoms, dies and blossoms again, blossoms and dies, dies and blossoms, blossoms and dies again.’ over and over.”

And as the years went by, the only things about it that I could remember was, first being very confused, something about a Computer Virus, and the whole “Dies and Blossoms Again” thing. That’s all. Not even the name of the it. So when I thought to myself, “Oh what was that anime that ended with Dies and Blossoms again? Maybe I should watch it again, because rewatching things has worked out well so far!” I had to google the phrase “Dies and Blossoms again” to get the name so that I could order it on LoveFilm.

After a re-watch, I wondered why I’d bothered.

I thought that the ten years that had passed by between the viewings would help me to understand the story, that maybe there was some deeper meaning I’d missed by being a shallow teenager. It didn’t, there wasn’t.

However, it would have helped the first viewing if the movie hadn’t have been edited down to 45 minutes. I remember being a bit surprised at the length back on the first watch. That extra 15 minutes isn’t a saviour filled with the essential plot device or anything, but it did help the transition of character and plot development.

I was actually able to understand it all a bit better (notice the emphasis on the bit), unfortunately that just made the Computer Virus character, called Akito Kobayashi, a hell of a lot more creepy and demonic (and gay, but that’s not technically a character flaw. He just happens to be gay as well as creepy), and the rest of the characters all that much bizarre, probably because most of them are just background characters. One thing that wasn’t included in the first viewing was the character of a young girl who carries a doll with her, and gives the main character, Kojiro Soma, a protective knife because he’ll be needing it. Another thing missed out was the motivation behind Akito’s deal with the pack of demons and subsequent killing spree, which I now understand to be a revenge spree on bullies.

Add some Phlebotinum into the mix and that’s basically the whole movie.

It didn’t make the story any better, and the four minutes of “Dies and Blossoms, Dies and Blossoms again, Blossoms and Dies, Blossoms and Dies again, Dies and Blossoms” etc etc etc is still annoying. This time even more so, because this time I was watching with the false belief that there’d be a proper conclusion before the credits came up, but no. I was still left feeling like there was something missing.

Would I watch it again? No.
Would I recommend it to anyone? Well, I would, if they asked me “What’s a really strange anime featuring demons intertwined with computer viruses? Lack of Character development preferable.” or “Do you know of any anime that has a creepy gay character in it that could put BBC’s Moriarty to shame?”. Otherwise, no. I definitely wouldn’t

Do I want my hour and 45 minutes back that I spent watching this anime, twice?

Oh god, Yes.

A Failed Review – Shackleton

Thursday 17 January, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night. The winds were howling, the rain was peltering and reverberating against the windows, and the temperature was bitterly cold.

Luckily we have central heating, so it wasn’t too long until that last point no longer bothered us.

Anyway, so, I came to add Shackleton on to my LoveFilm list through my Paul McGann catalogue. It’s obviously not part of my Classic Movie Quest, so this excuse for a review won’t be all that comprehensive.

Here’s what I was expecting:

An early 20th century voyage told with accuracy and finesse fit for such a true story. A tightly executed narrative and quality acting the directors of Master and Commander would be envious of. And Paul McGann.

Here’s what I found:

An early 20th century voyage told with some accuracy and embellishments fit for a dramatic reading. A decently executed narrative that was somewhat spoiled by subplots, quality acting from very good but not very high billed actors. And no Paul McGann.

There’d been a mix up on the LoveFilm site. Paul McGann was listed in the credits instead of his brother Mark, who played Second Officer Tom Crean.

My biggest problem with this “film”, is that it’s actually split into two parts, in the same way the Hallmark miniseries version of The Titanic is. The acting is very good, a very high standard from all of them. The budget must have been a brilliant one because the camera work was excellent, the quality of the film was excellent, the scenic shots were amazing and I’m not actually sure the actors didn’t end up stranded in the south pole for real. I’ve seen a lot worse when it comes to mini series.

But the subplots and slow beginning almost made me give up before it really got started. I understand there must have been a back story to show how Shackleton got established again, what exactly drove him to go on a second expedition… but at the same time, I was hoping for something a bit more like Master and Commander (I don’t know why and I blame myself for the notion) where we’d get the backstory as the movie went on, rather than see half of the backstory on screen and build up from there. Because that took up about a good 50 minutes at the beginning, and the film overall is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, approximately.

And then there’s the affair. I didn’t know much beyond the basics of Shackleton before watching this film, but I didn’t know anything about an affair with an “up and coming” actress. A bit of a google later, and I can’t find anything about an affair outside of this production. If that was a way to show that his home life was in shambles, I feel like it’s a bit of a cheap shot. We saw glimpses of his home life, was that really needed to drive the point home? Or was it put in for a bit of a dramatic flair? To give it a bit more of a hollywood feel, maybe?

The last twenty minutes, though, that’s where I was sat on the metaphorical edge of my proverbial seat. The men were split up into three groups, their desperation was believable. All that they went through in the latter half of the film, especially those last 20 minutes, was what I imagine a failed expedition to be like. But they didn’t give up, as is historically accurate.

Shackleton didn’t give up, and the rest of the men had no choice but to survive one day at a time whilst they waited. And the film showed that brilliantly. The actors really did the real men justice.

Which is why I’d recommend this film/mini series. Because it is good, when it comes to the important parts.

It’s just got a few parts that are superfluous in the long run that people might want to fast forward through.

A Failed Journalist’s Review of Priest. (Or As I Like To Call it: The Tale of a Ninja Vampire Slayer And The Case Of The Frightfully Similar Scenes)

Saturday 18 February, 2012

Before I really start, I’d just like to say that I’m not the best reviewer out there. On this here blog, I quite happily reviewed Jon Richardson’s Book: It’s Not Me, It’s You, and shared it with the world. On a previous blog I used to have, I wrote really higgledy piggledy reviews about DVDs that I’d watched, through recommendation and courtesy of LoveFilm, and after only a few entries, I fell into a formulaic pit and struggled to get out of it.

So, don’t think of this is as a review. Think of it as an article filled with observations, delivered with a hint of sardonic opinions, all laced with a hint of fangirling.
So, I watched Priest the other day. I’ve mentioned before that I am a fan of Paul Bettany, and the shenanigans involving his name. I’ve also mentioned in the LoveFilm entries that I keep my lists floating in titles by Cataloguing certain actor’s works, and that’s how I ended up watching Priest.
The premise is this: Paul Bettany plays a Priest in a dystopian world run by The Church. He fought vampires and lost, and lived in wait to avenge his friend. He gets word of stray vampires and vicious attacks outside of The City and turns his back on to the The Church when his plea of help fall on deaf ears. The attack happened on either his brother’s or his sister’s farm, didn’t quite catch which one, and his niece was taken hostage.
He figures he can kill two undead birds with one steak-shaped stone by getting his niece, Lucy, back and killing the creatures that killed his friend.
BUT! It’s not that simple. And if you think the Characters are bound to have a hard job going all Buffy The Vampire Slayer on everyone’s arses, think again! It’s me, your average viewer, who has the most work to do.
First of all, Paul Bettany’s American Accent is flawless. It’s not the first time I’ve heard him pull it off. He plays a very scary creepy fellow in a film called Firewall, starring Harrison Ford. He hold’s Harrison Ford’s Character and the Character’s family hostage, for reasons I can’t quite remember but an educated guess based on the title of the film would be that it’s for some sort of code, Sneakers Style. When the Character is being himself, the scary creepy fellow, he’s in Paul Bettany’s English Accent. And when the Character is being his Alias, he has a smooth American Accent that helps him blend in and even manages to sound extra friendly.
I spent a good half an hour thinking him to be the good sort of Hostage taker, but then he gave the son food knowing full well the kid would go into anaphylactic shock and I realised I had to re-evaluate my character reading skills. But that’s derailing.
My point is, is that I’ve heard Paul Bettany’s American Accent before, and yet this time it was different. It was quiet and on the raspier side of things. There were a few times I had to pause, rewind and turn the subtitles on to catch what was being said.
Then, my brain kept going into Intertextuality Overdrive as I saw many references to and scenes that looked worryingly similar to scenes in other films. For example, The Priest has a motorbike. What other Vampire Slayer do we know that rides a super-speed Motorbike in the dark?
And on that point, the Vampires that The Priest and everybody else has come to know are nothing compared to the Super Vampire that’s now in charge. And worse, the average Vampires have bred to such degrees that they aren’t just straggled groups to be dismissed. They become an army, headed straight for The City.
There’s a scene where Lucy is sitting at a table, in her Church Clothes, that she didn’t really wear to Church, wink wink, talking to the Super Vampire. He’s giving her all of this delicious food to eat whilst telling her how Sinning Makes The World Go Around.
Not exactly the same Conversation Topic, but almost exactly the same as the scene in Pirates of the Carribbean where Barbossa has all sorts of food laid out before Elizabeth for her to eat, so that Barbossa can enjoy eating by proxy.
There’s also The Church, which if you change to The Government and throw in Stephen Fry and Natalie Portman, you’d have V for Vendetta.
And Saving the best for last! What comes to mind when I say that a Damsel in Distress In A Victorian-Styled Dress is clinging on to the edge of a steam-train that is going to explode/crash, is being held on to by One Of The Heroes so that she doesn’t fall off and get mangled under the wheels, meanwhile The Other Hero is using their mode of transportation like a Surf Board and Orchestrating The Rescue Attempt with Very Good Timing Abilities?
If You said Back to the Future 3, You’d be wrong. It’s the ending of Priest! But glad to see we agree, there.
I’ll give the film points for a very good cast, and I didn’t actually figure out the bigger twist until a split second before it was revealed. I would watch it again, and I’d buy it on DVD if it was in the bargain bin…
But overall, it’s lame! It is So, So, So, So Lame! I mean, have you seen Slither? I love Slither, but it’s a lame excuse for a horror film that’s made largely viewable by the humour, cast and script. Priest has Super Ninja Priests that can jump up to and land down safely from great heights. At some points, it seems as if it’s a film made from collage of scenes taken from other films, a half decent cast and one good line. Which I’m sure was the token line they’d have used in the trailor.
The scene is this: The Priest has returned to The Catacombs that we saw him in at the beginning of the film, where the war between people and vampires had taken place, where his friend had been taken by the Vampires. He is with a Gunslinger, who went to The Priest for help because he’s in love with Lucy, despite Lucy possbly being only 17 and the Gunslinger guy looking 27…
The Priest throws his flare down the vertical tunnel so that he can see the bottom, only it’s so far down that you can’t really see the flare anymore. He turns to the Gunslinger guy and says “If anything comes up the steps that isn’t me, shoot it.”

It’s such a slick line! It is like no other line in the film, it’s said clearly, and it’s not the kind of line I’d associate with Paul Bettany. Paul Bettany, who made up football chants and immitates boxing announcers in A Knight’s Tale. Paul Bettany, the smug-faced explosive fast talker of a Gangster in Gangster No1. Paul Bettany, the quiet-voiced seemingly gentle man of a doctor, particular friend to Jack Aubrey, in Master and Commander.

My Mind Does Not Compute.

If anything, it shows just how versatile an actor Paul Bettany is. Does nothing whatsoever for the film, though. Except guarantee’s a decent amount of footage to turn into an advert. It is a line that provokes Meta.

It might sound as if I was disappointed with this film. I wasn’t. I did genuinely like it. Paul Bettany plays a Ninja Priest, and there’s a super army of Vampires heading towards a big Dystopian City run by The New Church to get revenge. What’s not to like?!

It’s just not something that I’d associate with Paul Bettany if Paul Bettany hadn’t have starred in it. But that’s the kind of thing you find out when you watch an actor’s back catalogue. You find films you wouldn’t normally like, you find actor’s in films not like any other thing they’ve ever been in, and you find other actors playing a role you wouldn’t normally associate them with.

Final conclusion of Priest:

My next Paul Bettany film, for the record, will be Creation. ~Ooh~

It’s Not Me, It’s You – Jon Richardson

Thursday 23 June, 2011



As anyone who knows me should know, I have been a fan of Jon Richardson for quite some time now. Since December 2007, to be precise. A little late than some, but earlier than some others (She says, smugly). This was all down to finding out Mock The Week favourite Russell Howard had a radio show and the rest is history. If you don’t know who Russell Howard is, I suggest you google him, as this is about Jon Richardson and his highly anticipated book.

After an introduction, he is quite clear in stating that this book is not an Auto-biography. Well, it doesn’t need to be, because we still end up seeing deep into his inner monologue as he tells us of the events of Four specific days in his life.

Did these events really happen? Well, i’m sure they happened, but as much as I know from his radio show, snippets of stand up i’ve seen and his anecdotes on panel shows, it’s possible that they didn’t happen exactly in the order presented to us in this book. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book. Far be it for me to marr this book with rumours of falsehoods and fairytales.

Over the four days, the book presents us with how Jon deals with his daily life. Not the average day of his life, but what the most reoccurring features are of his daily life. There is a woman named Gemma that he keeps referring to, an experience in a hotel, much journeying, fits of rage and hatred, his coping methods and a very well executed knock down of a pompous loud mouth in a suit and a meeting.

We eventually find out that Gemma is a woman who has mutually shown an interest in Jon and that the flow of consciousness that is this book has all been sparked by Gemma’s suggestion they go out on a date.

Some people say that other people are the personification of objects and ideals. This book, “It’s Not Me, It’s You” is the book version of Jon, which makes sense as it’s Jon’s book. But what I mean is, is that if you’re a long-standing fan of the radio show and Jon Richardson, especially during the Russell days, then you already have had glimpses of the way his mind works and the way he thinks of the world and of himself. In the book, he says his stand up is like a 20 minute to an hour condensed version, except not as detailed or indepth and he’s right, but nothing in this book should shock or surprise anyone if they are a longstanding fan. He gets angry, he gets angry at himself, he gets angry at the world, and he back-and-forths on scenarios regarding the rest of the world, and before anyone knows it, he’s mapped out his future and is already picking it to pieces.

There is a lot of Meta going on in this book, by the way, just to let you know.

I think the most powerful thing he talked about in the book was when he says he picks up the glass and gets an overwhelming urge to just smash it against the wall. He goes to do it… and then stops himself, because a voice at the back of his mind says “Don’t do that” and backs up of why he Shouldn’t do that with a health and safety risk assessment. He then ends up in the bath, covered in a towel, calming himself down and doing something he calls the Zoom technique.

If this dude wasn’t a comedian, I really think he’d be a brilliant observational psychiatrist. He could even be both! This is why I adore this man. He has a moral compass that he questions and analyses but still sticks by, because he knows it’s right. He just doesn’t do what he is told is right, he questions and concludes that they ARE right. He has some issues, but he’s no different than the average man, but he still gets on stage and makes people laugh. He did it on the radio, he does it on panel shows and he does it on stage.

And now he does it in a book! This very book! I loved reading this book, from beginning to end. I genuinely didn’t want to put it down, and when I realised i’d nearly read it in a day, only then did I stop and put it down. It is too much of a good book to read in one day.

If you’re a fan of Jon Richardson, buy the book. If you’re on a fan of inner monologues by people who are riddled with perfectionist based habits, buy the book. If you feel like you have two people constantly arguing inside of your head, figuring out which version of yourself should be portrayed the most, buy the book!

He’s been so underrated for so many years. Thank who-ever’s out there that people are finally catching on to just how good he is. If you don’t believe me, watch a bunch of his stand up, watch him on comedy panel shows, listen to him when he’s on the radio, and most importantly…

Buy the book!