Thursday, 31 January 2013

What I Watched in January '13

Here's the first of what I hope will be yet another regular post: my monthly film view tracker.

I've mentioned that I've been watching a lot of films recently, turns out there were 44 in total this month. That includes two viewings of Les Misérables, a Sarah Millican stand up show, an extended interview with Alfred Hitchcock and a documentary on Japanese cinema.

13 of these films were re-watches.
31 weren't.
3 were foreign language.
1 film gained a star to it's rating after a re-watch
4 received a 5-star rating.
1 of those got demoted to 4-star's after a re-watch.
4 received a 1-star rating.
None of those are likely to change.

Best Film of the month: Sunset Boulevard
Worst Film of the month: Dark Horse
Most Surprising: The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Most Disappointing: The Muppets 

Best part of a terrible film: Jeremy Renner singing (Love Comes to the Executioner)
Worst part of a great film: Sacha Baron Cohen & Helena Bonham Carter (Les Misérables)
Most likely to be watched again next month: Les Misérables

Let me know what the best and worst things are you've watched this month and be sure to leave me recommendations for February!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Micro Reviews

I promised I would return to reviewing films this week, and true to my word I've got a bundle for you. I've mentioned before that finding the time to write a lengthy review for each film that I want to is quite hard while juggling Uni work, so this is my solution: Micro Reviews.

Lately I've been watching more films than is healthy for any one person, and so whenever I watch one from now I will put together a paragraph summary of my opinions and rating to post up here in bundles every few weeks. I'll still be posting full reviews, just not as regularly as I would like, and so this is my happy medium between the ideal amount of posts I'd like to put up and the non-existent amount that I've been putting up lately.

So here are the first six. Let me know what you think of the films and if you agree or disagree with my reviews.

V For Vendetta 
James McTeigue // 2005 // 15 // 132 mins

Adorned in a cape and a Guy Fawkes mask Hugo Weaving's V uses theatrics, murder plots and an endless supply of fireworks to help empower the repressed people of a dystopian Britain. The lead performances are both incredible, as Weaving charms, entertains and intrigues the audience without ever showing his face and Natalie Portman fearlessly portrays the vulnerability and drive of V's young ingenue Evey. The action choreography is relatively simple, but always effective and exciting to watch while the narrative is consistently engaging. Visually the film honours it's graphic novel roots with often stunning uses of lighting, cinematography and editing, and contains one of the most incredible montage sequences on film, ...ever.

Nosferatu the Vampyre
Werner Herzog // 1979 // 15 // 107 mins

Herzog's update of Murnau's 1922 classic silent horror film is a nice addition to the Dracula film catalogue but lacks some of the atmosphere the original had in abundance. The pacing is extremely slow and for this the film is probably about 20 minutes longer than it should be. As the title character Klaus Kinski is the clear standout of this adaptation, somehow making Count Dracula even more terrifying, his physicality and overall performance making familiar scenes appear fresh. The sequences that take place at the Count's Transylvanian home are the most effective and engaging of this adaptation, but as a whole is an atmospheric and successful portrayal of a somewhat tired story with decent performances and solid direction.

Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino // 2012 // 18 // 165 mins

Tarantino's latest is as bloody, stylish and satirical as expected but suffers from a drawn-out runtime and an over-abundance of style over substance syndrome. Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave who teams up with the German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) that frees him to find his lost bride. Every one of the lead and supporting performances are solid, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson dominating the films latter half. The writing and comedy is particularly solid, containing countless one liners and laugh out loud moments, but the overall plot is far too stretched out and becomes tedious in it's length. Tarantino's cameo is the weakest link of the film, coming across as an unnecessary ego boost for the director which is far too long. The soundtrack is particularly successful and fitting, but unfortunately the tracks are made a spectacle of in their own individual scenes that serve no real purpose, rather than being used over actual narrative scenes. It's a fun ride that just drags itself out a bit too much and suffers from Tarantino repeatedly showing off.

Marie Antoinette
Sofia Coppola // 2006 // 12A // 123 mins

Kirsten Dunst adorns the oversized, powdered hair of the infamous French monarch in Sofia Coppola's stunning historical teen-movie. The film is a visual explosion, with costumes, sets and even food all becoming a treat for the eyes. While none of the performances are overly impressive they are all extremely entertaining. Dunst in particular is charming and endearing in the lead role, and Rose Byrne provides great comic relief at numerous points throughout the film. The narrative covers the majority of her reign as the Queen of France, humorously observing the behaviour and traditions of the time, but never dwells on the historical events surrounding the character that is being studied. While the film fails to explore such issues, it never shows any intention too and could be seen as intentionally focusing only on the frivolity and superficiality that the the monarch has come to be criticised for.

Premium Rush
David Koepp // 2012 // 12A // 91 mins           

Wiley (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a bike messenger in Manhattan. Making deliveries with tight deadlines he rides the busy streets of the city without brakes or gears, but when he collects an envelope from the roommate of his ex-girlfriend he attracts the attention of a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is as charming as ever but is restricted by a cookie-cutter character who is never really explored in any depth, while Shannon gives a cringe-worthy pantomime villain performance that does nothing to excel an extremely one-note character. The plot concept is fairly original and the non-linear timeline works well, but sequences that mirror the visuals of a sat-nav are ineffective and often (ironically) disorientating, while glimpses into Wiley's mind, showing the multiple outcomes of the routes he can take, become increasingly ridiculous and laughable. The emotional central story of the film does carry some weight towards the climax, but Jamie Chung's incredibly weak performance undermines any impact this story could have throughout the preceding 70 minutes.

The Grey
Joe Carnahan // 2011 // 15 // 117 mins

When a plane transporting a group of oil workers from Alaska crashes in the vast snow-coated landscape, Liam Neeson takes responsibility for keeping the group of surviving men alive whilst they are hunted by a pack of vicious wolves. With a slow burning plot and washed out cinematography the film excels in portraying the bleak situation the men have found themselves in as they repeatedly fall victim to both the wild animals and the extreme climate. Neeson is fantastic in the lead role and displays the vulnerability and survival instincts of the character with ease, with each of the supporting performances brilliantly complimenting his. The use of a minor intercut backstory for Neeson's character is well utilised and engages the viewer with an alternative interpretation of the characters actions throughout the narrative. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

A Golden Zebra and Blondie

While I'm writing this post the roads I have to drive tonight on my way back to Shropshire for the weekend are receiving a coating of snow. Although this was forecast I can't help but feel that my post  yesterday inflicted a jinx. Hopefully the roads manage to stay kind for my journey.

As is now (thankfully) a official weekly tradition, I bring you my Pinterest finds from the past few days. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, fingers crossed the snow has no negative effects them.
I have a lot of film related posts coming up next week for anyone wondering where that aspect of my blog had got too.

Til then,

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Snow and a Show

So all the snow that I wanted to cover Christmas finally arrived.

It scares me that I've now reached the age where as soon as snow begins to fall my first thought is that it's going to be a buggar to drive anywhere, I miss the days when me and my cousins would be sat with the radio on listening to see if our school was on the list of ones closing for the day. It very rarely was.

Fortunately this bout of snow only came with one arse-under-heels pratfall and a limited loss of control when driving over ice. By the time it came to drive back to uni on Monday the majority had melted away.

I officially started my second semester of year 3 and got some of last semesters work back with really pleasing results. I braved the icy streets of Ormskirk in my comfies for a pyjama and onsie party, complete with a pillow which also contained three bottles of alcohol. Then last night myself and Leigh-Anne of Violence & Fashion had ourselves a joint birthday party-of-two event watching the incredible Paloma Faith in Manchester.

Have you been enjoying the snow // got any ice related horror stories?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Waffle Bowls and Lego

On monday I start the last semester of my final year at uni. I've been trying to let that sink in but it's not a nice thought at all.
I've spent this past week enjoying some freedom by watching tons of films and catching up with some TV. Pretty soon I need to try and get back into a regular routine of reading for my course and dissertation work, which will be all kinds of fun :/

It scares me that January is already over half way through.
How's 2013 been treating you?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Starting Twenty-Thirteen

So here I am, trying to make my way back into a consistent blogging routine. 

A beastly burger and dessert in a plant pot.
Since my last proper blog back at Halloween, I have sat an exam, handed in a load of essays and finished the first semester of my final year at Uni. A scary situation which was seen off by some great visits to the cinema, and an amazing meal at a cocktail bar in town. 

Anyone who has seen my Letterboxd recently will know that I've also been watching a considerable number of films over the past few months, more than I imagine I ever have in such a short space of time. Although writing full reviews of these films is a laborious task I'm hoping I'll be able to get enough posted to keep this blog from slipping completely into place to just ramble about my life.

I've had a lovely Christmas at home with the family, and treated myself to loads of goodies that I'm sure will eventually be featured on here. I then turned 22, which seems a little surreal to be honest, I'm sure the old age will begin to kick in soon enough. New Years was a little more dramatic, after a quiet Eve with the family, I burnt my hand quite badly on a heated plate on New Years Day. I felt incredibly stupid and the blisters on my fingers made essay writing a complete terror, but they're now almost fully healed thankfully. It's typical of me to get my first serious injury of the year before the first day of it was over.

My most achievable resolution for the year is to keep this blog constantly updated and I intend to make it a priority. Here's to an exciting and hopefully fun-filled 2013. I survived the supposed end of the world, so I'm gonna make this next year great.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Hello, Pinterest

Happy 2013 Everyone!

I hope you all had a great Christmas season and New Years.
I've got a post filled with updates from the past two months in the works to make up for time I haven't been able to spend on here, but for now I want to introduce a post that will recur weekly on the blog as part of my New Years resolution to keep consistently posting here :)

I was introduced to the website Pinterest last summer by my friend Rosita, and have been addicted to the darn thing ever since. It is essentially an online pin-board where people post pictures onto various boards, link them back to their source websites and share them with their followers. 

I adore the website and use it daily as a break from work or any other stress inducing activities, and so every friday I will post on here with a selection of my favourite Pins from the week. I promise that if nothing else gets posted on here in the week, this will always be present on a friday evening.

You can find my Pinterest profile here. I highly recommend it, it's a great site.
Talk soon!