Friday, 26 February 2010

A Single Man

The whole point of a film review is to evaluate and critique a certain film, highlighting where it has gone well and showing where it has not succeeded in its aims. The point of a film review is not to gush about a film, trying to think about synonyms for the words "stunning" and "amazing" because you've already overused them and you're only three lines in.

Therefore, this may not class as a film review. To be honest, I'm finding it hard to write anything about A Single Man because it was just so perfect, and it's awfully hard to write on perfection. Plus, it was a very visual and emotional film - more so than anything I've seen in a long time. How do you condense that sort of thing to only two or three sentences?

Point being however, first-time director Tom Ford has succeeded in creating one of the most beautiful and original films of many years. It's just stunning to look at, from the colour palette that changes according to the main character George's mood - from dull grey to bright saturated colour - to the fairly stunning costumes, which naturally were expected to be fabulous, and which met all expectations. In a film of so much style, it can be quite easy to lose substance, but Tom Ford also succeeded in writing a deeply emotional, thoughtful and subtle screenplay, which matches the tone of the whole picture perfectly, and which came almost as close to poetry as any screenplay does.

Colin Firth. Well, there's nothing much to say. Except, please just give him the Oscar? Feck it, give him two. He was just amazing, he was George. In a film stuffed to the brim with good performances (hi, Julianne Moore!), he managed to still give a stand-out breathtaking performance. Nicholas Hoult who, given the fact I don't watch Skins, I have only ever seen in About a Boy, was a wonderful supporting actor, and I am truly shocked he is not getting more accolades for his work in A Single Man. Ginnifer Goodwin, who, as we all know, I adore, was also good, except slightly underused, her character didn't play a particularly key role at all, which was a slight shame.

Oh and the music. I swear I haven't heard anything this beautiful since perhaps Atonement came out. How is it not nominated for best score? It's just so pretty. Indescribable. Just listen, please??

And to finish off, because I still don't think I've managed to convey the sheer beauty of this film, something that will perhaps give you a glimpse of it:

Oh and btw, Nicholas Hoult can wear a pair of white jeans. That is all :)

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Yes I'm late...yes I know, and yes, you all owe this post to my incredibly bored and this-essay-is-so-stupid-I-want-to-stab-it friend at uni who got me to get off my bum and write it.

So Baftas,

The Good:

- Colin Firth won :D Having just returned from watching a Single Man and having been completely blown away I have to say I'm so ridiculously chuffed. Before watching it I wanted him to win because I love him, and I thought he would win because it's the Baftas and we like awarding our Brits. Now I want him to win everything (literally...I think someone should award him the universe...) because he was amazing, and I know he should have won because he. Was. Amazing. Words do not describe. Sheer utter perfection.

- Carey Mulligan won. The Education was lovely and she truly carried the film. Plus she was just so sweet and young and adorable. I kind of was hoping Saoirse would win too, although I know that's not possible, because out of an OK film she gave atruly wonderful performance. But still, can't have everything, and I truly did want Carey to win.

- The Young Victoria getting Costume and Hair and Make-up. It deserves them :)

The Bad:

- OK, so a this isn't so much bad as "meh". I haven't seen the Hurt Locker, but it seems a bit blah. I don't like war films much. Sorry. I'm sure the award is deserved, but when you haven't seen the film (and aren't going to because you really don't like violence and are a wimp etc) it's kind of dull. Plus, The Hurt Locker seems like a good film, but I like mine to be slightly more original and unusual, rather than just plain gritty and ticking all the right boxes. And despite not having seen it, I'm willing to bet a lot that (500) Days of Summer had a better screenplay, and that Avatar/ A Single Man/ Inglorious Basterds had better cinematography. But there you go. And plus, the struggle between Avatar and The Hurt Locker is slightly annoying. Avatar was good, but it wasn't the best I've seen all year. The thing is, a lot of very very good films have come out this year, but not many of them are getting a lot of fuss for Big Picture.

The Ugly:

- Kristen Stewart won Rising Star. kdnbesolsnpdjfkosolnf!!! Carey Mulligan! Nicholas Hoult! COME ON!!!

All in all, not the best ever. Last year was far more exciting, because I was so psyched about Slumdog Millionaire. This year, all my favourite films are being overshadowed by the bitch-fight going on between The Hurt Locker and Avatar. Sigh.

But still, pretty clothes:


Friday, 19 February 2010

The Young Victoria

I am so so tired, this may well rank as one of the worst reviews ever written. Let's see how it goes...

So, The Young Victoria. I finally watched it today with two of my friends and am not entirely sure what to make of it. Certainly the concept is very interesting, a film attempting to show the oh-so-famous Queen Victoria, not as a stuffy mourning woman, but as a bright vivacious young girl suddenly taking on the huge responsibility and freedom of reigning over England. While I love period dramas, I don't really like ones about the monarchy, mostly because they tend to focus rather too much on matters of state and politics, whereas what I'm looking for in a period drama is - let's be honest here - romance, whether happy or not. The Young Victoria both fails and succeeds in this aspect. One of the main themes explored in the film is how this young queen manages the pressure of running the country at such a young age, especially given all sorts of pressure she is being put under by different people who wish to manipulate her and use her as a pawn in their own games. While this is interesting to some extent, and the conflict is beautifully portrayed by the gorgeous and incredibly talented Emily Blunt, it slows down the pace of the film and after a while becomes quite frankly dull.

Of course, there is a romance, but for the most part of the film the two lovers - Victoria and Albert for those of you who are really new - are kept apart and are only allowed to express their love through their letters. And given that the feel of the film at least is historically accurate, these aren't particularly passionate, at least from a modern perspective. However, once they do finally get together, the film does really pick up - the two leads, Blunt and Rupert Friend, play off each other beautifully and truly make us understand the love and devotion Victoria and Albert had for each other. Indeed, when they are on screen together, and particularly in the latter half where they actually act affectionately, it's simply lovely to watch. Emily Blunt is a wonderful actress, she plays Victoria with a mixture of subtlety, vivacity and sweetness, and Friend is just so damn adorable as the husband who loves his wife so much he is not afraid to stand up to her - something no other person in court will do.

Other aspects of the film are naturally lovely. As with The Duchess last year, the film is making most impact through it's costume and art design, and quite rightly too, as both were absolutely stunning. The soundtrack was pretty too, although not particularly memorable.

So, conclusion? Well, it was a very sweet gentle film, a well-made and solid period drama. But, personally, I would have liked more focus on the growing relationship between Victoria and Albert, as there was just so much potential there, both in the actors and in the story itself. But despite this, the film, particularly the latter half, was lovely and aw-inducing in several parts.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Genius of Annie Leibovitz

Vanity Fair is possibly one of my favourite magazines. Why? Because it combines fashion, culture, life and - particularly in the Hollywood issue - film in an immensely sophisticated and pretty way.

Oh, and Annie Leibovitz photographs for it frequently. And she. Rocks. My. Socks. I can't even begin to describe the way she captures each moment so perfectly, creating a deeply personal and beautiful shot. So instead I'll just show you her work for the Hollywood Portfolio this year, in which she for the second year running shows the deep connection between director and actor. Or in the case of James Cameron, his camera. Gotta love it.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

This is a completely intellectual and not at all shallow post.

OK, so I seriously do try and avoid the whole omgsofit!! thing. I do try. But sometimes it's just staring you in the face. In me and my friend's case, it's been staring us in the face all night as we watched Prince Caspian. Admittedly not as good as the first one, but, as her bemused boyfriend said when he stuck his head through the door, still a decent film. And Ben Barnes is just so...

Going home tomorrow for a couple of days, where I will try and regain some of my sanity and dignity. Hopefully.

so so pretty. The costume design. Obviously. And the, er, set design. And...yeah. *ahem* Bed, children. x

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Oscar Nominations

Haha, I am so beyond late for this. Ah well...get down to it now!

Full list of nominations here, ones I most care about below.

Best picture
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
The Blind Side

I really really do not like this 10 pictures nominated thing. It's just too much. Way too much. I don't think District 9, A Serious Man or The Blind Side would truly have been considered any other year. However, I do love that an animated film got in, and YES to An Education :)

Avatar (James Cameron)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)
Precious (Lee Daniels)

Strong category. Especially like that Tarantino got in - I haven't actually seen Inglorious Basterds (lol) but it's nice to see a cult director get an Oscar nod.

Actor in a leading role
Morgan Freeman in Invictus
Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
George Clooney in Up in the Air
Colin Firth in A Single Man
Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker

YES!!! to Morgan Freeman and Colin Firth :D :D George Clooney was good in Up in the Air too, although nothing completely outstanding.

Actress in a leading role
Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia
Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Helen Mirren in The Last Station
Gabourey Sidibe in Precious
Carey Mulligan in An Education

What is slightly nice is that none of these are big Oscar-y Hollywood films. What's less than nice is the obsession the Academy have with Streep - much as I love her, Julie and Julia? Really? But wooohoo for Carey Mulligan. She won't win but she so deserves to!

Actor in a supporting role
Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Christopher Plummer in The Last Station
Matt Damon in Invictus
Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones
Woody Harrelson in The Messenger

Nice. Surprised to see Chris Plummer there though.

Actress in a supporting role
Mo'Nique in Precious
Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air
Penélope Cruz in Nine
Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart

Marion Cotillard was better than Penelope Cruz. Way better.

Writing (adapted screenplay)
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell)
An Education (Nick Hornby)
Precious (Geoffrey Fletcher)
Up in the Air (Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner)
In the Loop (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roch

Aww, love that In the Loop got a nomination :) The script was a definite strong point.

Writing (original screenplay)
The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Up (Pete Docter and Bob Petersen)
The Messenger (Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman)

I wanted 500 Days of Summer. I really really did.

Animated feature film
Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson)
The Princess and the Frog (Ron Clements and John Musker)
Coraline (Henry Selick)
Fantastic Mr Fox (Wes Anderson)
The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore)

I secretly want Coraline to win. Don't tell anyone though - I know Up is kind of a big deal. Tbh, all of these would deserve to win.

Foreign language film
Ajami (Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, Israel)
A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, France)
The Secret of Her Eyes (Juan Jose Campanella, Argentina)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, Germany)
The Milk of Sorrow (Claudia Llosa, Peru)

France and Germany represented!! Nice :D Haven't seen either though, despite recommendations from friends, critics and teachers. Whooooooooops.

Art direction
Avatar (art direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; set decoration: Kim Sinclair)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (art direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; set decoration: Caroline Smith)
Nine (art direction: John Myhre; set decoration: Gordon Sim)
Sherlock Holmes (art direction: Sarah Greenwood; set decoration: Katie Spencer)
The Young Victoria (art direction: Patrice Vermette; set decoration: Maggie Gray)

Love that Imaginarium and Nine got a look in. Again, probably goes against popular opinion, but I think either of those is the strongest here.

Avatar (Mauro Fiore)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Bruno Delbonnel)
The Hurt Locker (Barry Ackroyd)
Inglourious Basterds (Robert Richardson)
The White Ribbon (Christian Berger)

OK, so I didn't really like HBP that much. And if asked to predict, I wouldn't have suggested they include it. But now they have, well, I actually agree quite a lot. In a fairly baddish film, it's nice to celebrate the good bits. And the cinematography was pretty good.

Costume design
Bright Star (Janet Patterson)
Coco Before Chanel (Catherine Leterrier)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Monique Prudhomme)
Nine (Colleen Atwood)
The Young Victoria (Sandy Powell)

I love period costumes. This selection is like a dream for me. Will probably do a fangirl picspam later on :D

Music (original score)
Avatar (James Horner)
Fantastic Mr Fox (Alexandre Desplat)
Up (Michael Giacchino)
The Hurt Locker (Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders)
Sherlock Holmes (Hans Zimmer)

Loved the music in Avatar, Sherlock Holmes too was good. And Up.

Music (original song)
Almost There, from The Princess and the Frog by Randy Newman
Down in New Orleans, from The Princess and the Frog by Randy Newman
Loin de Paname, from Paris 36 by Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas
Take it All, from Nine by Maury Yeston
The Weary Kind, from Crazy Heart by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

I really really loved I See You in Avatar - everytime I hear it I'm taken back into that world. But Take It All is amazing. Does this mean Cotillard will sing in the ceremony?? Squee!

Visual effects
Avatar (Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R Jones)
District 9 (Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken)
Star Trek (Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton)

Avatar. Avatar. Avatar. Avatar. Avatar. Geddit?

I realise I've said nothing original in this post. Am too tired. I want my bed. And, oh, it's quarter to nine in the evening. I'm such a loser :) peace and love x

Monday, 1 February 2010

41. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

In other news, a bit too much drama, or lack thereof, going on at uni for my liking. People have been incredibly stressed, grumpy, tired and antisocial - I myself have been part of this group on the odd occasion - and I'm really hoping everything cheers up this week.

And in other happier news: look! I'm on Total Film's 600 Movie Blogs You Might Have Missed!!

So yes OK, I do realise there are 600 there. And that it's celebrating blogs that people may have not seen. In the words of Gossip Girl:

Still. I'm ready to embrace any cheerfulness I can get :)

Alors, je dois dormir. Au revoir mes enfants!!