Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Prince of Persia

I watched this an awfully long time ago but haven't got round to reviewing it until now as I have nothing better to do (this is such a lie. I could be reading. I could be catching up on sleep). I first saw this back in May with a friend, when we were bored of thinking and pretending to be clever and just wanted some mindless fun.
And that's exactly what we got. Now, don't get me wrong, Prince of Persia is not a good film. The script is over the top and silly and so full of clich├ęs and stereotypes about the Middle East that, as an Iranian, I was just cringing a little bit inside. I mean, ostrich races? REALLY? The storyline itself is slightly convoluted - although as these type of films go, not too bad (hi POTC 3) - and just slightly random and far fetched. The characters also tend a little towards the 2D and typical, Ben Kingsley in particular being wasted in the cookie cutter role of "evil uncle".
However, despite all this, I genuinely enjoyed this. Partly - I'm not going to lie - because Jake Gyllenhaal is very good looking and just incredibly charming. Indeed, I think this is the key to the film's success - albeit commercial rather than critical - it's just a charming, fun film. The two leads, Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton make the most of their fairly unexciting characters by playing off each other perfectly and giving their characters lots of chemistry and magnetism. And the director, having perhaps realised that the script was veering into the ridiculous, chooses to play it all slightly tongue in cheek, making it enjoyable rather than simply awkward to watch. Plus, it's just pure entertainment. It's set in a mystical time (admittedly made all the more mystical because so much of the historical accuracy is bullshit, but still), features princes, princesses, betrayals, sorcery...everything required for two hours or so of no-brains fun.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

"You don't kiss boys. Boys kiss you."

This term (by the way, did I mention I'm back at Oxford? Well, I am), I somehow managed ot land myself the role of deputy fashion editor for the university newspaper - something that alternately thrills and terrifies me. One of the shoots we're planning on doing this term is a 50's Mad Men-inspired spread - so I duly gathered some screenshots for inspiration...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

34. Charade (1963)

It has Cary Grant, possibly at his most charming, Audrey Hedpburn at her sweetest, it's romantic and witty yet manages to be incredibly sharp and clever at the same time with about ten thousand unexpected twists and turns and a very thrilling denouement - so much so that until a couple of years ago, I wholeheartedly believed this to be a Hitchcock. Such a classic, absolutely adore it.

"Of course, you won't be able to lie on your back for a while, but then you can lie from any position, can't you?"

Friday, 24 September 2010

"But when a young lady is to be a heroine, something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way"

While in Paris, I was staying with a girl who admitted to never having read an Austen novel in her life - her mother, and indeed she herself, were massively feminist and considered Austen novels to be frivolous and encouraging girls to sit around idly and obsess over men. This is something that comes up with my mother quite frequently too - she absolutely adores the Brontes and thinks Austen is "chick-lit-y" and shallow. Well, I'm sorry but I could not possibly disagree more. In a world that was, after all, biased towards the male sex, Austen wrote some amazing female characters - strong, charming, witty and intelligent. My countdown of my favourites:

03. Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility

It can be said her character is deeply flawed - she has no patience or kindness for people whom she considers vulgar or cruel, shows her emotions too readily, is headstrong and gives herself completely over to her emotions and "sensibilities", ignoring propriety and good "sense". However, this is precisely why I love her - her lack of hypocrisy and her passionate nature are to me admirable, and her romantic idealism is naive yet beautiful.

"Can he love her? Can the soul really be satisfied with such polite affections? To love is to burn, to be on fire. Like Juliet or Guinevere or Eloise."

02. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

Of course. If we're talking about role models for women, here is a character who was way ahead of her time - who refused to let society dictate her choices in life, refused to marry simply for money, had great love for her family and most importantly, great self-respect. And she found true love at last. With Mr Darcy. How lovely :)

"Do not consider me now as an elegant female, intending to plague you, but as a rational creature, speaking the truth from her heart."

01. Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey

I had a very strange experience when I first read this book and watched the film. For possibly the very first time ever in my life, I totally and completely empathised with a character, and completely understood all of her feelings, actions and motivations. Her tendency to get caught up inside her own head, and her love of imagined worlds completely mirrors my own and her innocence and lack of experience with the world were completely familiar to me. Furthermore, her kindness, good nature, frankness and wit are completely charming, and her love for Henry Tilney is simply adorable. One of my favourite characters of all time.

"Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world."

Monday, 20 September 2010

Pont des Arts

Despite the fact Paris is well known as the city of love, I'm afraid I found romance slightly lacking - there was plentiful sleaziness, leering and generally irritating masculine behaviour, but not really any of the heart pounding amour I had been expecting - apart from two incidents. One was where, in a metro station at about eleven at night, a guy took leave of a girl by embracing her, dipping her towards the floor and kissing her. A lot. Admittedly it did make me want to be slightly sick, but it was also slightly cute. The second one, which I really loved, was the love padlocks on the Pont des Arts. A couple would attach a padlock to the bridge and throw the key into the water, signifying their eternal love and commitment to one another. Sweet :)

(pictures by me)

Sunday, 19 September 2010

35. National Treasure (2004)

I like this film. I know it's just silly family fun - but aren't those the films that we often like the most? True, Pixar makes some impressive films, but the reason we all love them is not because of the intricate screenplay or cinematography - it's because they're fun and because they hold fond memories. For me, this film is what my family and I watch when we just can't be arsed with anything else, and I still find it as entertaining as when I first saw it.

Friday, 17 September 2010

"So what, are you hiding from the law or is it just a bad nose job?"

In this modern-day world of insecurity, eating disorders and unrealistic body expectations the movie industry has retaliated by making films aimed particularly at young women, showing that it's "what's on the inside that counts". Normally, you'd expect these films to be fairly sappy, childish and ridiculous. Not so in the case of Penelope.

Penelope tells the tale of a little girl from a blueblood family (Christina Ricci), under an old family curse and born with a pig's snout instead of a nose. Realising an operation would kill her, her shallow yet well-meaning mother (Catherine O'Hara) fakes her death and keeps her locked up inside the family mansion, waiting until another bluebood comes along and marries her, thereby lifting the curse. Eventually, feeling trapped and unhappy, Penelope hides her face beneath a scarf and runs away, ready to experience the real world.

I'd never seen anything with Christina Ricci before, bar perhaps a few kiddie films, and was therefore pleasantly surprised by her. She plays Penelope with a carefully balanced mix of innocence and determination, and has brilliant chemistry with James McAvoy, who plays a young man who falls in love with her. McAvoy is utterly gorgeous a brilliant actor, who plays the at first mercenary Max with a great deal of charm and warmth. There are also great supporting turns from brilliant actors such as Richard E Grant, Reese Witherspoon and Simon Woods, and a cameo by Russell Brand that made me squeal (damn, pun totally not intended).

The film itself steers away from going into typical modern fairytale territory by keeping its own original charm. The script is unclich├ęd and witty, he art direction and costuming is brilliant, and what makes it particularly interesting is that, although we know the film is set in the modern world, we don't know exactly where - to me, it looked like London yet felt like New York, and was just a mysterious charming blur of everything. The soundtrack too was very pretty. All in all, a decent underrated romcom-y fairytale. Watch :)