Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Last Summer Trilogy and NEDs

It has officially come to my attention that since starting university I have become a fair weather blogger. It is therefore my intention to be good and aim to post once a week. Now I am aware I have made this resolution before but at the moment I am becoming increasingly bored and lazy so I feel I should fill my free hours with something more productive whilst avoiding the ever multiplying pile of washing up at the same time! I also have been watching a huge amount of films recently (good and bad) and with award season upon us and the Oscars just around the corner I am for once by no means short of things to write about.

At the weekend, I re-watched the teen slasher classic I Know What You Did Last Summer. To say the least it wasn't quite as scary as I remember it but it was okay. It does what it says on the tin, so to speak. However, for some reason, blame what you will, tiredness from the early hours of the morning or maybe even just the obsessive compulsive in me needing to finish the story, I then went on to watch the whole trilogy. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer was to be perfectly honest not that bad, relatively speaking of course! Set in the Bahamas, co-starring Brandy and Mekhi Phifer and featuring a cameo from Jack Black as the stoner pool guy it was cheesy horror at its best. But the fun well and truly ended with the third and final film I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. The barrel had clearly been well and truly scraped not just for the story line, but for actors, special effects, just everything really. It was absolutely atrocious and that doesn't even begin to really describe how bad it was! Almost two hours of my life completely wasted which I will never be able to get back!

On a more positive not, although I'm not quite sure positive is the right word to describe this film, this week I also watched Peter Mullan's NEDs (Non Educated Delinquents) It follows the life of a young boy, John McGill growing up in 1970s Glasgow. At the start of the film John is full of academic promise and wants to escape the life he currently knows, with a drunk, abusive father (played by Peter Mullan himself) and a violent brother who is constantly in trouble with the police. But, as John moves up to secondary school his whole world changes and he soon finds himself falling into the exact life he was trying to escape. With an outstanding performance from Conor McCarron as John it was one of the most moving films I have seen in a long time.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Great Expectations and Treasure Island

With Christmas always come yet more TV adaptations of classic stories and this year there were two which stood out for one reason or another.

Firstly the BBC did Great Expectations. Now everyone loves a bit of Dickens at Christmas and I am definitely one of those people. However, having just studied this particular novel for my English A-Level I wasn't exactly thrilled by the prospect of reliving all those painful hours of revision, but nonetheless it was Christmas, it was Dickens and it starred Ray Winstone as Magwitch, what could possibly go wrong? Turns out actually not much.

Generally, I really liked it. Douglas Booth, formerly a model for Burberry and Boy George in the BBC Worried about the Boy, was an excellent Pip as was Vanessa Kirby's Estella and Winstone's performance really was incredible. There was, however, for me one weakness, Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham. For some reason I just didn't like her and I can't quite pinpoint why. Hopefully the upcoming film will have a much better Miss Havisham as she is to be played by Helena Bonham Carter, which some have described as the role she's been destined to play for all her life. Apart from her though, and the omission of Biddy, it was very enjoyable.

The second big adaptation of the holidays was Treasure Island on Sky 1. Now, everyone knows the story we've heard it hundreds of times seen countless versions and we all have our favourites, for me its a no brainer, The Muppets Treasure Island starring a young Kevin Bishop wins every time. But boasting perhaps a more high calibre cast was this latest edition. Once again for the most part I really liked it. The look of the two part series itself really was beautiful. The richness of the scenery and the cultural diversity of the pirates shown through their costumes really created a magical world in which the story fitted perfectly.

There was the introduction of new talent with Toby Regbo, also seen recently in One Day and as the young Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, playing the anti-stereotypical action hero Jim Hawkins. The good guys really were just that, even if only in their acting abilities, Rupert Penry-Jones as Squire Trelawney, Daniel Mays as Dr. Livesey and Philip Glenister as Captain Smollett all brought something very original to the roles. The pirates too all had their unique personalities within the crew and each one stood out. Elijah Wood was stunning as Ben Gunn and his mad man act was brilliant.

However, much like Great Expectations there was one flaw, and that flaw happened to come in the shape of Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver. Now don't get me wrong I am a huge Izzard fan and I love him but for me he wasn't right. It wasn't even that he was bad because he wasn't; he just wasn't Long John Silver. Despite this though it didn't by any stretch of the imagination ruin the programme which in general I really liked.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock

What with coursework, revision and the glorious Christmas holidays it has been almost two months since I last posted and for once I am spoilt for choice with topics to write about. So, as I did my only exam this morning I now have a whole week ahead of doing not very much at all and I intend to fill the week mostly with blogging and once again part of my New Year's resolution is to blog more regularly, we'll see how that goes. Now the question is which idea to start with? Naturally with it just being Christmas, I, like most people, spent a great deal of time in front of the TV so there is no lack of subject matter there. However, I want to start with my most recent cinema visit which was to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Many 'Holmes purists' would say that the Guy Richie adaptations of the legendary stories are nothing more than over the top action films which have been created to get bums on seats. And to some extent this could be true. There are big names, lots of action scenes, laughs and of course the obligatory glimpse of Robert Downey Junior's torso, all of which are naturally crowd pleasers and of course this is what they do. It is this the combination of factors, the whole package of the films which I think is the reason for their success.

The second film in the series, A Game of Shadows adds a new collection of names to the cast. Noomi Repace adds a more exotic element as the mysterious traveller Madame Simza but the two main new additions are the two Ms, Sherlock nemesis Professor James Moriarty played by Jared Harris and his brother Mycroft played by Stephen Fry. I loved both of them and although there has been much discussion as to whether Fry's performance as Mycroft added too much of a camp element to the film I thought that the nickname given to Sherlock, Shirley and the scene in which Stephen Fry appeared completely naked were amongst the funniest moments of the film.

Most of the humour of course came from the man himself, Robert Downey Junior. Not only with his constant wit, just as Holmes should be, but the scene in which he disguised himself as a woman was very funny, although not by far his best disguise! In my opinion Robert Downey Junior is a very could Sherlock and the relationship between him and his Watson, Jude Law does work well. Despite my fairly low opinion of Jude Law I can actually just about get through his performances as Watson without wanting to punch him in the face. (although his recent appearance on The Graham Norton show in a beanie hat soon rectified this!)

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch star in Sherlock
Now a very different Sherlock and one which seems to be receiving a lot more praise than the film is the BBC recreation and I too can say that I prefer it a great deal. I absolutely love Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock and also Martin Freeman's Watson. The latest episode, The Hounds of Baskerville was a very interesting take on the classic story. With Baskerville taking the shape of a highly secret animal testing centre hidden on the moor which created a drug, the 'Hound' which caused terrifying and life like hallucinations. It co-starred a confused and scared Russell Tovy and was as ever both witty and extremely entertaining.