Monday, 30 April 2012

Game of Thrones | Season 2, Episode 5: The Ghost of Harrenhal


Ok, so kind of a big deal this week, because someone who is not an orphan boy or a scheming courtier or a faceless knight with a weird-sounding name has bitten the dust. That's right; Renly Baratheon is no more. In the opening five minutes of The Ghost of Harrenhal, he is stabbed from behind while in his tent conversing with Cat. He appears to have been killed by whatever hellish smoke demon it was that Melisandre popped out at the end of episode four. Brienne is understandably distraught at the death of her king; as the only member of the Kingsgaurd who was present, she is likely to be blamed (and hanged) for Renly's murder. Therefore, she and Cat take off into the wilderness, before Brienne swears an oath of fealty to Cat (on the condition that Cat will allow her to exact revenge on Renly's murderer).

Speaking of Renly's murderer, after the death of their king most of Renly's followers immediately switch their loyalties over to Stannis. Loras and Margaery however, are plotting something with Littlefinger - who knows what the Tyrells will do now that their joint husband/boyfriend has croaked. In the Iron Islands, Theon is vexed when he is ordered off to harry some fishermen, while his sister Yara is sent to do the real fighting (does anyone actually like Theon? He annoys the hell out of me. Maybe this war will take him down a peg or two). At Winterfell, Bran is having ever more unsettling dreams, and a nearby village has been attacked (presumably by the Lannisters, but no-one is really sure), so Ser Rodrik takes a force out to investigate.

In King's Landing, Tyrion and Cersei are pleased at the news of Renly's demise - but, Tyrion is still scheming away against his sister. His new spy, his cousin Lancel Lannister (who, we discovered in last week's episode, is now sleeping with the Queen - she sure does like to keep it in the family) lets him know what Cersei is up to. Apparently, she has commissioned a whole load of Wildfire from the pyromancers - Wildfire is essentially napalm, and was developed by the Targaryens after all their dragons died so that they could continue to burn fear into the hearts of their enemies. Tyrion takes over the Wildfire operation, planning to the scorch the hell out of Stannis Baratheon and his ships when they finally do decide to attack King's Landing (can't wait to see some Wildfire in action).

Talking of fire, in Qarth Dany is teaching her dragons to flame their own meat - they're cute now, but in future seasons I'm sure they'll be a force to be reckoned with (who needs Wildfire when you have dragons? And something tells me fighting fire with fire doesn't work against giant flying lizards). She has also received an offer from her host in Qarth, Xaro - he will give her half his wealth to buy ships and armies for the conquering of Westeros, as long as she marries him. After talking to Ser Jorah (who, we all know by now, is in love with her) Dany decides to let him take charge of getting her to Westeros instead.

At Harrenhal, Arya is settling into her new role as cupbearer. She receives an offer from Jaqen, the man whose life she saved when the Lannisters attacked the Night's Watch - she can pick any three people she likes, and he will kill them for her. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. She uses her first kill on the Tickler, the freak who was torturing people to death last week. Beyond the Wall, the Night's Watch are marching further and further into a mountainous icy wasteland reminiscent of Middle Earth crossed with Frozen Planet. They are busy planning their first set-to with Mance Rayder and his Wildlings, but apart from that, they're mostly just freezing their asses off.

And that about wraps it up for episode five. We're half way through the second series now, and while it's exciting, it's still not quite as well orchestrated as the first season. They're doing well to hold all the different plot strands together, but if it gets any more complex, then I have a feeling it might start to get really confusing (but, that's epic fantasy for you, I suppose).

Episode 5 Best Moment: The cute baby dragon cooking its own dinner.

Episode 5 Best Line: "Even torturing you is boring." - Tyrion to Lancel (he gets all the best lines - seems a little unfair! I'll make an effort to pick someone else next week).

Game of Thrones | Episode 6: The Old Gods and the New

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Casting Announced for Pedro Almodovar's Latest

Interesting news for any fans of the Spanish director, here's my piece for Subtitled Online about the casting of Almodovar's new film, Amantes Pasajeros.

Casting for Pedro Almodovar's Amantes Pasajeros Announced

Also, just to let you know that I will not be posting or tweeting that much over the next four days because I will be attending the first ever UK Sundance Festival at the 02 in Greenwich - see, I don't just sit in my room watching movies, I do very occasionally go outside to do it. So, you probably won't be hearing from KINOLENS again until the obligatory Game of Thrones related post on Monday morning - plus, once the festival is over, I will certainly post a review and/or mini-essay about my shenanigans in Greenwich.

Have good weekends, film fans.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

10 Life Lessons from Margo Channing

Bette Davis plays Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950). We can all learn a few things from the wonderful Margo; aging stage actress, drunk, and acid-tongued she-devil.

1. Never sell yourself short.

"I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut."

2. Always give fair warning.

"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

3. Always respect the work of others.

"All playwrights should be dead for three hundred years!"

4. Call it like you see it.

"I'm a junkyard."

5. Take some time out to wallow in self pity.

"So many people know me. I wish I did. I wish someone would tell me about me."

6. Stick it to the man.

"Lloyd honey, be a playwright with guts. Write me one about a nice normal woman who just shoots her husband."

7. Always let your true feelings shine through

"Happy birthday, welcome home, and we who are about to die salute you."

8. Always be ready with a snappy comeback.

"Cut it! Print it! What happens in the next reel? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pits?"

9. A lady never reveals her age (except when drunk)

"Three months ago I was forty years old. Forty. Four-oh. That slipped out. I hadn't quite made up my mind to admit it. Now I suddenly feel as if I'd taken all my clothes off."

10. Feel free to contradict yourself.

"Everybody has a heart - except some people."

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Women in Film: The Bechdel Test

The origins of the test in Alison Bechdel's comic strip

I’m getting bored. I’m getting bored of going to the cinema and watching film after film about male identity. The solitude, the honour, the silent strength of the male psyche.
I don’t much care about the male identity anymore. In the world of film, men seem to have collectively morphed into that really annoying person at parties who can’t shut up about themselves, their work, their problems, their opinions on everything. It makes me want to reach my hand through the screen and pinch their lips closed; “Shut up, sweetheart. Just shut up. Even for five minutes. Please? For all of us? Nobody gives a fuck about your mid-life crisis, your sex life, or your thoughts on the Middle East. Just pipe the fuck down.”

Edward Norton in classic male bonding flick Fight Club

Movies about women, or ‘women’s issues’ are called ‘chick flicks’. If a woman dares to presume to become an active participant in the narrative, rather than just passively submitting to the penetrative male gaze, then she, and the film she is in, must be denigrated with a cute little term; pigeon-holed back into place so that the men, who make up most of the movie-going audience, don’t feel threatened. Then they can watch the movie, safe in the knowledge that none of this horseshit matters anyway, because it’s only a chick flick.
That’s right. Films made by, for or about women are considered a niche area. A pocket, if you will. A side-track for us all to flounce down when the boys are in the next screen over watching Transformers, or whatever Michael Bay has boiled up in some fevered region of his frontal lobe this month (of course, that’s not to say that women can’t enjoy action movies. I love action movies. What I don’t love are abominable reels of liquid shit, like Transformers).

Transformers - an abominable reel of liquid shit

Women in film are just fine – as long as we’re there just to be gawked at like an exhibit. We’re not allowed to speak too much, take too much charge of a situation, or even interact with other women – unless of course, we’re getting off with each other (apparently that’s totally dandy).  
We may have clawed back some semblance of equality in our daily lives, but in film? In film, we are still the Other; a great squalling writhing mass of terrifying maniacal female energy which ideally needs to be herded into the attic with a broomstick and left to cackle and scratch its fingernails down the walls forevermore.
I kinda want one of these badges...

Anyone ever heard of the Bechdel Test? Yeah, me neither. I’m a feminist with a Film degree, so really I should have heard of the Bechdel Test long ago. In fact, I didn’t hear of it until one of my friends mentioned it in conversation last year; I thought it was very interesting, but then promptly forgot about it.
The Bechdel Test is simply this. Think of a film, or a book, or a play, or some other narrative-based thingamabob, and answer these three questions.
1.       Are there two or more female characters with names?
2.       Do they talk to each other?
3.       If they talk to each other, do they talk about something other than a man?
This, my friends, is the Bechdel Test. If you can answer yes to all three of the above questions, then the thingamabob in question has passed the test. If not, it’s a big fat fail (although of course, there are varying degrees of failing).

Franka Potente saves her boyfriend's ass in Run Lola Run

Obviously, the Bechdel Test has massive flaws and can’t really be used as an accurate measurement of how ‘feminist’ a film is – for example, Run Lola Run would fail the Bechdel Test, even though Lola is a strong independent female character who spends the whole film trying to save her feckless boyfriend – she’s pretty much the only woman in it, and she never talks to another woman, so technically, it fails.
Other fails include Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs, Blade Runner, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Muppets, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Godfather, and many more.
More than you’d believe, actually, considering the bar is so low. Surprisingly, Transformers just about manages to pass. But even Sigourney-centric Alien only scrapes a pass due to Ripley and Lambert taking a few seconds out of their busy day to discuss the fact that they are about to be ripped to shit by a slavering monster (something that would certainly take precedence over girlish gossip about Captain Dallas).

"Whaddaya reckon Ripley, hot or not?"

The test is not really meant as an accurate indication of anything, nor is it intending to condemn any film that fails it – if the story isn’t about women, then it isn’t about women, and that’s that.
What it does is make you think a little bit about just how skewed towards the male our culture is. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with a few films failing the Bechdel Test (Reservoir Dogs would make no sense if Tarantino had stuck a random woman in for no reason, likewise Fight Club). There IS something wrong when almost every film is failing it. When the majority of films are disregarding women, the fact that women talk to each other, and that women have personalities which do not exclusively revolve around men, it is clear that we have a problem.
Can you imagine if the situation were suddenly reversed? If almost every film contained only women interacting with each other about, oh, I don’t know, politics? Or war? Or drugs? Do you think men would let this go by unchecked? There’d be blood running river-like in the streets.

"MS Pink?! Oh HELL no..."

Minorities have always been marginalised within mainstream film; that’s nothing new. The token character is a trope we are all very well acquainted with; the token black character, the token gay character, the token woman. But now I am going to tell you something which may well blow your mind, so hold onto your hats, kids.
In the paragraph above (the one you just finished reading), I referred to women as a MINORITY. Did you even bat an eyelid? Did you hell.
I’m sure that gay people and anybody who isn’t white are also sick to the back teeth of being referred to as minorities, but no matter what race or orientation they are, there’s still no getting away from the fact that women currently make up about 50% of the planet’s population. That’s approximately three and a half billion vaginas. That’s a pretty big minority, my friend.
And yet, it is somehow still deemed acceptable to throw us up onscreen as comic relief or disposable eye-candy, and damn any films we might create ourselves with the faintest of praise. Film is an artistic industry first and foremost; it is not the responsibility of art to remake the world into some kind of equal opportunities utopia. I’m not saying that this is what film should be trying to do. What I am saying is that not only is the film industry (like most other industries) still denying career opportunities to women, it is also still perpetrating the idea that women are not equal to men on screens all over the world.
It’s 2012 now, people. I’m getting bored.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Game of Thrones | Season 2, Episode 4: Garden of Bones


In this week's Game of Thrones, Joffrey reveals himself to be more than just an evil inbred munchkin - he is also a slavering psychopath. Who knew? In other news, Dany finally crawls her way out of the Red Waste, Robb may be falling for Florence Nightingale, and Arya ends up in the service of, would you believe it, Tywin Lannister. Garden of Bones may be the most exciting episode of Season 2 yet.

We begin with a bloody battle between the armies of the North and South - in other words, between Stark and Lannister. After the carnage, Robb spies a battlefield nurse attempting to cut off a man's foot (for his own good, of course) and heads over to lend a hand. He then deems it necessary to spend a good few minutes explaining to this lowly nurse why it is imperative that he carries on fighting, killing, and maiming for the good of the realm, while she counters him with witty-but-not-overly-defiant comments. One gets the feeling that if the nurse had been a toothless old crone, he wouldn't have bothered his head quite so much about her opinion.

Rather than just letting the power go to his head a little, Joffrey now seems to be giving full reign to his psychopathic tendencies (take a lesson kids; this is what happens when brothers and sisters breed). He delights in torturing Sansa in front of the court, ordering Ser Meryn to rip her dress open and whack her with the flat of his sword. Tyrion steps in, but Sansa carries on claiming that she is loyal to her beloved Joffrey - and I'm sure she'll carry on being loyal, right up until the day she slips the Tears of Lys into his goblet. In an effort to relieve some of his nephew's stress, Tyrion sends a couple of prostitutes to Joffrey's room, but the plan backfires when Joffrey decides to have one of them beat the other to a pulp at the point of a crossbow, before delivering them right back to his uncle. Things are getting just a little too American Psycho for comfort in King's Landing right now.

Meanwhile, across the narrow sea, it looks like Dany's wandering in the desert phase is finally over. One of her bloodriders returns with news of a city called Qarth that is willing to receive her and her dragons. So, the Khalassar heads over to the gates of Qarth, only to be met by a delegation called the Thirteen; thirteen Lords/rich merchants who have the run of the city. After some heated conversation about bones, dragons, and laying waste to the countryside, the thirteen grudgingly agree to let her in, upon which the gates of Qarth swing open revealing what looks like a tropical paradise - which is good, because I was getting pretty bored of Desert Dany; she needs a good bath, someone to do her hair, some new clothes, and some bigger dragons. Then we can talk about laying waste and suchlike.

On the political side of things; Littlefinger heads to see Renly, but he's really there to see Cat. He makes a vague offer of rekindling their childhood romance, before dumping a box apparently full of her dead husband's bones at her feet. Renly pops over to see his brother Stannis, with whom he has a brief but direct chat - essentially, Stannis offers to make Renly his heir if he will acknowledge him as king. Renly, of course, does not agree.

Arya, who was captured by the Lannisters at the end of last week's episode, is imprisoned at Harrenhal, a half-melted old castle where the prisoners are taken out one by one and tortured to death in one of the most horrible ways imaginable (it involves rats). Luckily, just as Gendry is about to have his turn, Tywin Lannister turns up and puts a stop to the whole show, before recognising that Arya is a girl (although not that she is a Stark) and appointing her his new cupbearer. Conisdering that Arya has spent her nights in prison memorising a list of people she is planning to kill when she gets the chance, choosing her as cupbearer may turn out to be a mistake on Tywin's part (I hope she doesn't croak him too soon though - Charles Dance is deliciously badass as Tywin).

That weird fire priestess Melisandre finishes off the episode by giving birth to what we suppose is Stannis Baratheon's child - it looks like some sort of monster made out of black smoke, so it may be pretty hard to tell who the real father is. Still, hopefully we'll find out what the hell's going on there next week.

Episode 4 Best Moment: The opening of the gates of Qarth

Episode 4 Best Line: "There's no cure for being a cunt." - Bronn

Game of Thrones | Episode 5: The Ghost of Harrenhal

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hunt for Catching Fire Director Goes On...

Hunger Games Director Gary Ross, who has been receiving almost universal praise for his work on the film, has pulled out of directing the sequel Catching Fire. You can read my article on this here.

This week, it was revealed that the search for a new director for the second film has been narrowed down to either Francis Lawrence (Water For Elephants, I Am Legend) or Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Capote). Others considered for the job included Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Tony Scott (Unstoppable) and Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).

As the more observant among you will have already noticed, the choices for the next Hunger Games director look a little like the Cannes 2012 Line-up in that there is nary a woman to be seen, not even out of the corner of your eye. For more info on this subject, I suggest reading Melissa Silverstein's post on her blog Women and Hollywood: Hey Nina Jacobson - How About Picking a Woman for Catching Fire? Or even Scott Mendelson's 9 Female Directors Who Should Direct a Hunger Games Sequel. Kathryn Bigelow, anyone?

Friday, 20 April 2012

Cannes Line-up Announced

For the full list of Cannes entrants this year, head over to Movie Farm...

While it looks as though there are plenty of brilliant directors and intriguing films being exhibited at Cannes this year, it has already been noted by many that there is not one female director in competition. This was also the case in 2010, and the festival found itself subjected to accusations of sexism.

In 2011, a handful of female filmmakers (including Lynne Ramsay for We Need to Talk About Kevin) were included, but this year it seems Cannes is turning back into a boy's club. Still, what can you expect from a world in which the first and only woman ever to win a Best Director Oscar did so only in 2010 (Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker).

The fact that female filmmakers don't get nearly as much recognition as male ones is one of my pet hates, so you may well be subjected to a blog post on the subject in the near future.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock

So, we've been given a sneak-peek of Anthony Hopkins all puttied-up to look like Alfred Hitchcock. This is for the film Hitchcock, a biopic directed by Sacha Gervasi, also starring Helen Mirren as Alma Reville and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, which will be released in 2013.

In my opinion, the above picture doesn't look much like Alfred Hitchcock. It contains all the important reference points; an overweight, jowly, grey-haired, balding man in a suit standing in profile with a snooty look on his face. But still, not really a great match for the famous director (see below).  

Of course, we can't expect Hopkins to look exactly like Hitchcock, because he isn't Hitchcock - nobody is. But, the problem remains; is Hopkins really a good enough actor to sustain wandering around onscreen for a good length of time with half a ton of flesh-toned goo pasted onto his face? Is anybody?

Remember this?

Leonardo DiCaprio was clearly being hampered by his old man face in J. Edgar - and while this press shot of Hopkins certainly looks as though a much higher level of skill has been utilised in creating the classic Hitchcock jowls, I am doubtful as to whether he'll be able to pull it off, so to speak.

Of course, Hopkins is a pretty brilliant actor (as long as you discount a few blips like Hannibal), but so is DiCaprio, and he hammed it up so much under his mask in J. Edgar that I couldn't even look at a slice of bacon for a week afterwards. Alright, maybe he wasn't quite that bad - but the make-up still made him look like he'd been in some sort of horrible industrial accident, and it certainly put a dampener on things.

Done well, prosthetic make-up can greatly enhance the look and range of an actor. Done badly, it can mess up great chunks of the film (if not the whole thing). Still, let's hope my fears are unfounded, and Hopkins blows us all away in a year's time with his astonishing portrayal of the quirky old director.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

New Prometheus Viral Video

I don't really like the word 'viral' - particularly when it's used to describe internet teaser campaigns for films. I have to admit, it's far easier to just say 'viral' campaign, and it does give a pretty accurate description of the technique that this method of advertising makes use of. But, it also conjures up images of tiny germs squirming around together in Petri dishes, people coughing on each other on buses, and red-eyed zombies chasing after Cillian Murphy.

However, the teaser campaign for Ridley Scott's Prometheus has been so good that I'm willing to call it plague-inducing if that's what the people want. Just take a look at these two videos; above is the recently released advert for 'David', the token android (played by the great Michael Fassbender). I particularly like the bit that has him 'wake up' covered in styrofoam, and the tiny Weyland Industries symbol incorporated into his fingerprint.

Below is the fictional TEDTalk that was created for the movie; this was the first of its kind - a collaboration between the creators of the TEDTalk and the filmmakers (in fact, it was directed by Ridley Scott's son). It features Guy Pearce in his role as Peter Weyland, head of the corrupt Weyland Corporation (presumably before it merged with Yutani) which, it appears, has been involved in the Alien saga from the very beginning. He outlines his vision for the future to a stadium of listeners - it all sounds very inspiring, but somehow you just know it's not going to wash in the end...

Even without these extras, the ad campaign for Prometheus was already exceptional - the trailer (which you can watch below) is so nail-bitingly frightening that it makes shivers run down your spine - if the advertising alone is this brilliant, what's the film itself going to be like? It'll either have people running screaming out of the theatre, or glued to their seats in a catatonic state of pure and absolute terror. Either one is box office gold.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Game of Thrones | Season 2, Episode 3: What is Dead May Never Die

There are even more new characters in this week's episode of Game of Thrones - so many in fact, that even I am starting to forget their names. Still, for those of us who are having a little trouble keeping up (which, I admit, includes me) let's try to untangle at least some of the web, which is becoming ever more complex as Winter draws nearer.


After following Craster into the icy woods, witnessing the fate of the baby and getting a nasty crack on the head for his trouble, Jon Snow is given yet another royal telling-off by the Lord Commander for poking his nose in where he shouldn't. Jon surmises that the Lord Commander is aware of what Craster, the Wildling man who marries his daughters and delivers his sons to the White Walkers (or whatever that thing was) is up to - but lets him get away with it so that Craster will help out the Night's Watch in times of dire need. Angry with Jon, Craster throws the Night's Watch out of his Keep.

Bran is still stuck at Winterfell, and still having prophetic dreams in which he sees through the eyes of his Direwolf, Summer - what that portends, we're eager to discover. No Dany this week unfortunately, so we can presume she is still wandering the Red Waste with three dragons to feed and a rapidly diminishing Khalasar. In King's Landing, Sansa is still under the considerable thumb of Cersei Lannister, but a surprise shows up in the form of Shae, who has been appointed her new handmaiden (Tyrion's attempt to keep his girlfriend out of trouble).

Cat shows up at 'King' Renly's stronghold to try to secure his loyalty to Robb in the coming fight. Renly, now married to Margaery Tyrell (his boyfriend Ser Loras' sister, interestingly) promises her Joffrey's head. Margaery seems like she knows what she's doing - she takes marrying her brother's boyfriend completely in her stride, and clearly has no qualms about furthering her own rise to power. Also introduced at Renly's camp is Brienne, yet another strong female character - in fact, she's ridiculously strong; she bests the Knight of the Flowers in a swordfight, and promptly asks to be made a member of Renly's Kingsguard as a reward (Renly agrees).

The Iron is really in the fire now over at the Islands; Theon's father questions his loyalty to the House of Greyjoy (We Do Not Sow - not the snappiest of words, but they make sense when you think about it). Theon himself doesn't really know where his true loyalty lies, but after being sidelined by his father, who gives Yara control of thirty ships and Theon only one, he makes his decision to pledge to the Drowned God in order to prove that he really is a Greyjoy, and not a pseudo-Stark.

Tyrion is also showing his true colours in King's Landing - or, more precisely, he is not allowing anybody to know what he is really thinking. He has private meetings with Pycelle, Varys and Littlefinger, telling each of them that he plans to marry the Princess Myrcella off - to different people. To Pycelle, he mentions House Dorne, to Varys, House Greyjoy, and to Littlefinger, House Arryn. He makes sure to tell each of the men that CERSEI MUSTN'T KNOW. This is all part of a brilliant, Cluedo-style bluff to find out who he can trust - or, more precisely, what the men's motivations/loyalties are. When Cersei comes to him screaming with anger at the news that Myrcella is to be sold off to Dorne, Tyrion has Pycelle thrown straight into one of those Black Cells that Ned Stark came to know so well. What a manipulative so-and-so.

Lastly, the Kingsguard show up, with Lannister men in tow, to take Gendry off the hands of the Night's Watch and, presumably, cut off his head. After a short battle, during which Yoren is unfortunately killed (shame, I liked Yoren), Arya, in her disguise as Arry the orphan boy, and the other survivors are taken captive. Thinking on her feet, Arya points out one of the dead boys and identifies him as Gendry to the guards - thereby saving the life of Robert Baratheon's bastard for just a little bit longer.

Episode 3 Best Moment: Tyrion's clever manipulation game.

Episode 3 Best Line:

Tyrion: "Cut off his manhood and feed it to the goats."
Shagga: "There are no goats, half-man."
Tyrion: "Well, make do."

Game of Thrones | Episode 4: Garden of Bones

P.S. KINOLENS is one year old today! Huzzah.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Films From Beyond the Grave: Guy Maddin Conducts Cine-Seances

In February 2012, something very strange was going on in the basement of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Canadian director Guy Maddin was performing a supernatural cinematic experiment the like of which the world had never seen. The Séances Project, otherwise known as ‘Spiritismes’, was an effort to bring films that are forgotten, lost, or that never got made, back into the land of the living by literally ‘channelling’ their ghosts. 

Spiritismes was part of the Nouveau Festival, an arts event which takes place at the Pompidou every year. Visitors to the event could observe the ghostly goings-on from a gallery as Maddin, accompanied by a troupe of actors and filmmakers, invoked the spirits of films, and shot seventeen of them (one a day) in a paranormal re-imagining of the lost or forgotten movies. Every day the group would meet for a séance, involving the traditional ‘hands around the table’ technique, as well as gauzy scarves representing ectoplasm (a mist-like substance said to emit from the mouths of mediums). Having called up the spirit of the film, the group would then spend the rest of the day shooting their own version...

For the rest of the article, head over to Subtitled Online

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Review: This Must Be the Place

This Must Be the Place is Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s first English language film and it certainly does not disappoint. A little slow-moving but never dull, this comedy drama is a highly amusing and watchable film, featuring another spot-on performance from method actor Sean Penn.

Penn plays Cheyenne, a washed-up Goth rocker living in his Dublin mansion with Jane, his cheerful and understanding wife of thirty-five years (Frances McDormand). Having given up music twenty years previously due to the suicide of two young fans inspired by his songs, Cheyenne now spends his days shuffling around Dublin, doing the odd bit of shopping, hanging out with teenage fan Mary (played by a gothed-up Eve Hewson, daughter of U2 singer Bono), and avoiding the overtures of local bands who vie for his attention.

Despite his happy marriage and lazy life, Cheyenne is still deeply troubled and is in the throes of a possible mid-life crisis. Everything suddenly changes when his father dies. Cheyenne heads back to New York for the funeral of a man he hasn’t spoken to in thirty years, only to discover that his father had become obsessed with hunting down Aloise Lange, a Nazi war criminal who persecuted him in Auschwitz. Cheyenne takes up the hunt for Lange, embarking on a road trip with a difference to try to discover the last hiding place of the man his father hated so much...

Head over to Movie Farm for the rest of the review...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Dario Argento's Suspiria to be Remade

So, it looks like we're soon going to be treated to a remake of Dario Argento's Suspiria. At the risk of falling into the old 'this film really doesn't need remaking' trap - this film really doesn't need remaking.

I mean, it really doesn't. Suspiria, with its bright colours and strawberry jam blood and crazy death scenes and dubbed English and rooms full of barbed wire - it was perfect the way it was. We don't need to see it again in a new and worse light. This is precisely the sort of film that should never, ever be remade. It's directed by Dario Argento. You want to try to remake a Dario Argento? The whole point of a Dario Argento is that it is directed by Dario Argento. Who the hell else could have come up with this:

Or this:

Or this:

Also, is there ever anything more pointless than remaking a horror film? Especially a horror film which has such a great storyline/cinematography anyway that anything you do to it is undoubtedly going to make it worse? It would be like remaking The Wicker M-. No, it would be like remaking Psyc-. Straw D-. The Texas Chai-. The Ome-. Jesus.

OK, it would be like remaking Jaws with a big CGI shark. Even Hollywood is not dumb enough to have tried pulling that shit yet. But they will, won't they? Even as I type there's some besuited executive somewhere trying to think of how he can make the most possible money doing the least possible work. Let's face it, if they can remake Psycho, nothing is safe. Jaws is already on a list somewhere, I guarantee it: 'Films Whose Graves We Plan to Tapdance on in the Next Ten Years Or So'.

I suppose there's no point in even getting angry about it anymore. I'm sure that David Gordon Green's verison of Suspiria won't be all bad. After all, speaking to Den of Geek last year, Green said:

"I've written it with the sound designer, so we've really written it from a unique perspective. We've come at it not from the traditional narrative way, but from the perspective of sound. It's a fun experiment for me, to see how it works out."

Interestingly, given that this version is going to be sound-based, Green has managed to secure the rights to the soundtrack of the original: the surreal, creepy (really creepy) instrumentals written especially for Argento by Italian prog-rock band Goblin.

Wait, hang on a minute here. He's going to remake the film "from the perspective of sound", but the first thing he does is nick the soundtrack (an integral part of the identity and atmosphere) from the original? Yes. Yes, that makes a whole lot of sense to me. That sounds like it's going to be "a unique persepective" alright.

Je renonce.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Top Ten: Pedro Almodovar Characters Part 2

Here's part two of my Top Ten list of Pedro Almodovar characters for Subtitled Online...

In part one, we met some of the most colourful characters that director Pedro Almodóvar has to offer, including Spain’s friendliest taxi driver and a psychotic plastic surgeon played by our old friend Antonio Banderas.  In part two, we have five exceptional women (one of whom used to be a man) who are all shining examples of how to survive when all the odds are against you…

To read the rest of the Top Ten, head over to Subtitled Online

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Fashionable Film: Hitchcock's Vertigo

Just come across this great article: Costume and Identity in Hitchcock's Vertigo by Iris Veysey. It breaks down all the various costumes and disguises worn by Kim Novak as Madeleine/Judy, and the hidden, or not so hidden, meanings that the clothes have in the context of the film.

Film and Fashion can sometimes fit together to great advantage, as Hitchcock certainly knew - it was his and his costume designer Edith Head's work on Vertigo that inspired me to write Bloody Footprints , a short look at the role of the blonde in film.

All of Novak's wardrobe from the black dress to the white coat to the iconic grey suit, is simple, even plain, but undoubtedly spectacular when combined with the icy blonde ghostliness of Madeleine (who, as Veysey points out, does not really exist, not even in the fictional world of Vertigo).

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Iron Sky: The First Four Minutes

Hotly anticipated sci-fi comedy Iron Sky, which has already divided critics at this year’s Berlinale Film Festival, will soon be coming to UK cinema screens. To whet the appetites of potential viewers, the first four minutes of the film were posted online. On YouTube, the opening has currently received almost 500,000 views.

Asked to recommend a favourite but little known horror movie, comedian and film buff Mark Gatiss amused an audience at a Q&A session by plugging a film he called ‘Nazis On Ice’. He was talking about The Frozen Dead, a British sci-fi horror from 1966, in which a mad scientist freezes the decapitated heads of Nazi war criminals until he can find bodies to attach them to, thereby reviving the Third Reich.

The return of the killer Nazi has been a recurring theme in novels, films and television shows for quite some time. However, it has perhaps never been attempted on such a grand scale as in Timo Vuorensola’s Iron Sky, otherwise known as ‘Nazis In Space’...

Read the rest of the article at Subtitled Online...

Monday, 9 April 2012

Game of Thrones | Season 2, Episode 2: The Night Lands

Again, this review contains SPOILERS

Ironically, with Winter trudging ever nearer, the second season of Game of Thrones is just starting to heat up. This second episode is similar to the first in that it spends most of its time building tension for the coming snowstorm, and instroducing a few new characters, but it ends on quite a bang - one that makes us wish we didn't have to wait another week for episode three.

While episode one gave us only a glimpse of Arya, this week she gets more than her fair share of screen time. Ned Stark's tomboyish daughter seems to be in her element as she pretends to be Arry the orphan boy on his way to the Wall with the other Night's Watch recruits. Her friendship with Gendry the armourer (also bastard son of Robert Baratheon) is going from strength to strength, but when soldiers from Kings Landing turn up to dispatch him as part of the biblical bastard-culling ordered by Joffrey, Arya assumes they are looking for her, and subsequently gives her identity away to Gendry. Luckily, he seems to be one of the good guys, and promises to keep her secret - unfortunately for Gendry, when playing the game of thrones, it's the good guys who tend to find themselves without their heads sooner or later.


Dany is still toiling away in the desert, and gets more than a little pissed off when the head of one her bloodriders is returned to her in a bag (presumably by one of the other Khals, who don't seem to like the idea of a female leader). Stannis and his cohort Mellisandre are still plotting away, and babbling on about some mysterious 'fire god'.

Tyrion is diving head first into the swamp of intrigue that is King's Landing; when Varys the Eunuch shows up uninvited to drink tea with Shae (whom no-one is supposed to know about) Tyrion makes it very clear that, unlike Ned Stark, he understands how the game is played and will not put up with passive aggressive threats. Tyrion also boots out the head of the guard following the baby massacre, and slots his man Bron into the job, much to the chagrin of Cersei Lannister. Cersei herself seems to be having trouble adjusting to her new role as Queen Regent; she is losing control of her inbred son, King Joffrey.

The most intriguing new character to be introduced this week hails from the Iron Islands. Yara, the younger sister of Theon Greyjoy, took over the responsibilities of soldiering when Theon was fostered out to the Starks. When he shows up with Robb's message to his father, Theon is astonished to discover (after a bit of misplaced groping) that his sister has certainly not been idle in his absence. It looks as though the Greyjoys are unlikely to come quietly.

Beyond the wall, Jon, Sam and co. are still partaking of the hospitality of a Wildling man who marries his own daughters (all of them) so that he can then father more daughters (and marry them). This week, Jon and Sam discover the fate of any male babies; after spying a baby being carried out into the snowy night, Jon follows. Creepily, the baby has been left as some sort of offering for a creature Jon only manages to catch a glimpse of before the Wildling smacks him over the head - a tall, spindly-looking thing in a hooded cloak. Did someone say...White Walkers?

Episode 2 Best Moment: When Theon Greyjoy finally recognises his sister.

Episode 2 Best Line: The whole 'fish' conversation between Varys, Shae and Tyrion.

Game of Thrones | Episode 3: What is Dead May Never Die

Sunday, 8 April 2012

10 Life Lessons from The Princess Bride

Princesses, farm boys, pirates, torture, swordfighting, the fire swamp, rodents of unusual size, and Grandpa - there must be some important words of wisdom in there somewhere. Here are ten life lessons you can learn from watching the Princess Bride.

1. Try to keep old traditions alive.

"When I was your age, television was called books."

2. Don't be afraid to correct your boss.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

3. Names mean everything.

"No-one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley."

4. Always have something to fall back on.

"I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge."

5. Always make the best of things.

"It's not that bad. Well  I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely."

6. Always give fair warning.

"Goodnight Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."

7. It's OK to skip over the boring bits.

"They're kissing again. Do we have to read the kissing parts?"

8. Learn to accept the harsh truth.

"Life is pain highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

9. Always have an answer for everything.

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

10. Sometimes, when people say one thing, they actually mean another.

"As you wish."

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Top Ten: Trains in Film

Everybody loves trains - well, not these days perhaps. These days, they're mostly just great metal tubes full of sweaty kindle-readers, crumpled Metros and the odd pool of fresh (or not so fresh) vomit. But, in the good old days, they were truly the transport of kings. Here are ten of the best. Or at least, ten of the best films that have trains in them.

10. The Great Train Robbery (1903)

From the famous Edison Manufacturing Company, The Great Train Robbery is one of the earliest surviving examples of American cinema (the original camera negative is held by the Library of Congress, and new prints can still be made from it). It's just over ten minutes long, and tells the story of a group of cowboy gangsters who hold up a train and rob the passengers. Some scenes include colour; the tints were painted onto the film by hand.

9. Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1896)

Lumiere's Arrival is so famous that even people with no interest in film history whatsoever are likely to have seen it, or at least have heard about it. The film runs for just under a minute, and shows the arrival of a train at a station where a line of people wait to greet it. The famous story about the first screenings of this film (that some audience members ran out of the theatre for fear they would be crushed by the oncoming locomotive) is certainly exaggerated. However, a quotation from July 14th 1896 in the French newspaper Le Courier du Centre reads "...spectators draw back instinctively fearing they'd be run over by the steel monster."

8. In the Heat of the Night (1967)

They call him Mr Tibbs. While waiting to train it out of Sparta, Mississippi, police detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) falls afoul of the local police force. Once they realise who he is, the racist cops reluctantly ask for his help in solving a local murder. The tension boils over in this brilliant and racially explosive film

7. The Third Man (1949)

Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives in Vienna on a train as the nameless narrator (who never shows up again) babbles on about Vienna:

I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm. Constantinople suited me better. I really got to know it in the classic period of the black market. We'd run anything if people wanted it enough and had the money to pay. Of course, a situation like that does tempt amateurs. But, well, you know, thay can't stay the course like a professional. Now the city is divided into four zones, you know, each occupied by a power: the American, the British, the Russian and the French. But the centre of the city, that's international, policed by an international patrol. One member of each of the four powers. Wonderful! What a hope they had. All strangers to the place and none of them could speak the same language. Except a sort of smattering of German. Good fellows on the whole, did their best you know. Vienna doesn't look a whole lot worse than a lot of other European cities; bombed about a bit. Oh, I was going to tell you, wait, I was going to tell you about Holly Martins, an American. Came all the way here to visit a friend of his. The name was Lime, Harry Lime. Now Martins was broke and Lime had offered him some sort, I don't know, some sort of job. Anyway, there he was poor chap, happy as a lark and without a cent.

6. Strangers on a Train (1951)

In Hitchcock's suspenseful tale, two men meet on a train and make a pact; they will each murder the other's wife, figuring that since motive can't be proved, they will both be able to get off scott free. In the opening of the film, the camera follows only the feet of the two men as they get onto a train, cutting to a tracking shot of the track (ha) until the two pairs of feet finally collide.

5. Brief Encounter (1945)

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard are tempted to cheat on their spouses when they run into each other at a train station. They continue to meet each other every thursday at the station cafe, even though they know their romance is doomed. Trains and stations feature heavily in this tense and tragic film, places filled with guilt and separation.

4. Cabaret (1972)

Brian (Michael York) arrives in Berlin on a train, he and Sally (Liza Minnelli) like to spend their free time standing underneath a railway bridge and screaming at the top of their lungs every time a train goes by, and Brian later leaves Berlin by train - but, other than that, trains don't feature too heavily in this lively musical, made in 1972 but set in Weimar Germany. If you like Otto Dix, turquoise nail varnish, prairie oysters, intra-war malaise, a good portion of campy singing and dancing, and the odd sprinkling of Nazis, then this is the film for you.

3. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Come on, we all remember Once Upon a Time in the West and its incredible opening sequence. If you don't, I'd suggest watching the above video - there's no proper way to explain it in words.

2. Double Indemnity (1944)

Walter Neff (Fred McMurray) is an insurance salesman who becomes entangled with the married, blonde and dangerous femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). The two plot to murder Phyllis' husband and then make it look like an accident by throwing him off the back of a train. Needless to say, their plan begins to go wrong, and Walter's boss Barton Keyes (Edward G Robinson) starts to smell a rat...
1. The Railway Children

 Oh yes I did. Number one, it has to be: The Railway Children. The Waterbury family are forced to move to a small cottage in Oakworth after their father is arrested and falsely imprisoned for treason. Needless to say, at the end of the film the whole mess is sorted out, and Roberta meets her father at the station following his release. If you can watch the above scene and not well up, you have no place on this planet.