Saturday, 19 September 2009

Moses supposes.....

I'm not sure if i've mentioned this before, but in a film lecture at the beginning of the year the lecture asked us to think about what scene we would choose if we were to be locked in a jail cell for the rest of our lives. This scene would be projected on the wall all day, every day. I have spent a disproportionate amount of time thinking about this, and I think this is my ultimate choice.

I love the little looks they give each other. Gene Kelly's eyes are so expressive. He's the first person i ever had a crush on, and i still love him just as much. He's just so lovely.

The Sartorialist comes to London!

And I'm going to be there!

London Book Signing

Monday Sept 21st
6 to 8 pm
Liberty of London
Great Marlborough St.
Downstairs in the Men's Department

Look how cute he and Garance were at the New York signing.

Would it be uncool of me to wear her shirt? I bought one and it's beautiful and really limited edition, but it might be like wearing a band t-shirt to that band's gig, you know?
I'm gonna be so stressed choosing an outfit, you have no idea!
Wish me luck.

Friday, 18 September 2009


Neil Gaiman’s tale of a bored girl ignored by her parents who finds a door to a mirror world complete with “Other Mother” is one that definitely deserves its PG rating.

The other world appears ideal, with loving parents, good food, and visually stunning set pieces which had the whole audience ooh-ing and aah-ing like little kids, but even during this, there is a much darker undertone. The inhabitants of the other world have buttons for eyes, and though nothing outright threatening is said, there are subtle signs that all is not what it seems.

As a fan of sinister fairy tales, stop-motion animation and geeky glasses, Coraline was a film I’ve been looking forward to for some time. Directed by Henry Selick, of “Nightmare Before Christmas” fame, and animated in much the same way, there are bound to be parallels drawn between the two, but this film is darker and more finely tuned than the former. It doesn’t shy away from the horror which so many fairy tale adaptations avoid, and it is much the better for it.

The 3D aspect of the film was one I was sceptical about at first, but my doubts were banished before the film even started. Watching trailers in 3D, and even just the Universal logo, had me gasping. The reason I think it works so well is that they don’t overuse it, it isn’t a gimmick. Things don’t jump out at you, but rather the images have an added depth to them which makes them seem real even whilst being utterly fantastical. The pleasure of seeing a 3D jumping mouse circus has to be seen to be believed, and is almost worth the ticket price on its own.

Coraline is at once terrifying and beautiful, laugh out loud funny and hauntingly believable, and one of the best children’s films I’ve seen in years. This film will turn you into a kid again by reminding you just how magical the cinema can be.

500 Days of Summer

Before I start discussing this film, I must tell you that this is in no way an unbiased review. I begged to see this film before it came out. I have loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt since I was five and, also, I kind of want to be Zooey Daschanel. I went to this film expecting greatness. As a buffer to this optimism, I brought along my big brother, who thinks Zooey Daschanel is funny looking. Here’s what we both thought.

If you’ve seen the trailer then you know the premise, boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl doesn’t. It’s that simple, only it’s not. (500) Days of Summer is a breath of fresh air in a world over-run with run of the mill romantic comedies. There is no gross out humour, no boobs, and no overweight man children. What is there is a refreshingly real, intimate and surprisingly innocent film about the courage it takes to fall in love. And that’s not to say that it isn’t funny, it is, it’s hilarious, but the humour comes from a relatable, identifiable place rather than a squirrel attack in the woods or someone stepping in dog poo.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin) plays Tom, a boy who still believes in the notion of all or nothing, lightning-strikes-once love. He’s like John Cusack in Say Anything for the iPod generation. The writers, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, say the film is semi-autobiographical, that they are representing themselves through Tom. Although undoubtedly biased, this could be why he is probably one of the most ideal men ever written. I warn you ladies, you will fall in love with him, but you shouldn’t, because he’s mine.

Zooey Daschanel (Yes Man) plays Summer, the beautiful, super cool and quirky girl of Tom’s dreams. You can see why he loves her, she’s easy to love, but there’s also a darkness there which is revealed as the film goes on. She’s not as perfect as she seems at first, which is the problem with love at first sight, by the time you realize, it’s already too late.

The story is told in a fragmented, non-linear structure, winding back and forth through Tom and Summer’s on-again, off-again romance, or, as the writers call it, “a romantic comedy meets Memento.” You look through memories as Tom remembers them, sometimes seeing the same moment more than once, each time with an entirely different meaning. It doesn’t pretend to be an objective point of view, it is Tom’s memory, reflecting his experience of love. And yet, unlike so many male protagonist romantic comedies of late, the women are not seen as nagging, bitchy kill-joys who want to settle down and stop the men from having fun. These men love women, possibly more than they deserve to be loved.

Credit should be given to first time feature director Marc Webb, whose direction is sure and precise, whilst seamlessly allowing for split screens, dance sequences, omniscient narrators and a cartoon bird. He knows he’s got something special and isn’t afraid to let it loose. These stylized elements, rather than detracting from the realism, somehow accurately convey just what it feels like to be in love. It’s not ironic, it’s honest. Under the humour and whimsy of (500) Days of Summer, there’s a fundamental truth at play: Yes, love can be cruel, harsh and difficult but it’s also, by far, the best thing life has to offer.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Aliens in the Attic

Review i wrote for pure movies last month, in case you're curious.

A talented and mostly unknown young cast and equally talented if somewhat underused group of comedians elevate what could easily have been a generic children’s adventure into something for the whole family to enjoy.
Set around a family's 4th of July weekend getaway in Michigan, Aliens in the Attic is an adventure comedy where the children have to fight off an alien invasion whilst keeping their parents clueless as to what's really going on. The family and their cousins rent a house in the middle of nowhere, idyllic for the parents and deathly boring for the children, in order to achieve some good old fashioned togetherness. Little touches such as the twin cousins Art and Lee (Henry and Regan Young) not even looking up from their Nintendo DS when they realize they have arrived add a touch of humorous realism to what is essentially an overused plot device, and immediately endear the characters to the audience.
These are not the sugary brats of so many live action kids’ films. Even the little sister (Ashley Boettcher) doesn’t fall into the overly cute trap, instead utilizing a comic timing unusual in someone so young. The two older boys, especially Tom (relative newcomer Carter Jenkins), are both charming, but the attempt to add some teenage angst to the character, Tom is too smart and is failing school on purpose, prompting an argument with his father ending with the words “I don’t want to be like you, I want to be cool,” strikes a false and slightly unnecessary note. It does allow for a “maths is cool” revelation towards the end of the film, and a supposedly heart warming reconciliation with his father (Kevin Nealon) but both feel slightly like overkill, there are enough subtle allusions to the strain on their relationship without this overt description of it.
The idea of having to keep the parents out of the drama as much as possible is a clever one, with much capacity for humour. The Aliens have a mind control device which only works on adults, so for the safety of their parents and the rest of the world, the children have to keep them in the dark. The two adults who get in the way and are consequently turned into mind controlled zombies are older sister Bethany (Ashley Tisdale)’s uber-annoying boyfriend Ricky (Robert Hoffman, who plays the role of a complete jerk so well that it almost goes past funny and back to horrifically annoying, more than once I wanted to give him a slap, just in case) and sweet old Nana Rose (comedy veteran Doris Roberts). The children get control of the remotes for each of these characters and play them like the best computer game ever invented. Some very comic moments, such as having Ricky slap himself repeatedly in the face or run full pelt into his ridiculous car proved a hit with the audience, both young and old alike. The climax of this device is a full in Matrix style fight between Nana and Ricky, the action dictated by the games constantly played by the twins. This is Tekken with geriatrics.
The let down of the whole thing is the aliens. Numbering only four in total, all the characters are so obvious, and their individual roles so small that the vocal talents of J.K. Simmons and Thomas Hayden Church are almost entirely wasted. Apart from some moments obviously designed to entertain the adults, including a sly visual reference to Alien, there is nothing to grab the attention, they are simply not scary enough. If children’s films through the ages have taught us anything, it’s that a bit of danger goes a long way, kids like to be scared. The sooner filmmakers realize this, the easier their jobs will be.
A film with good comedic potential and a cast to remember and look out for, this film would be greatly improved by the inclusion of an actual threat, thus elevating it from the generic kid’s adventure stuff to something worth watching again.