BEYOND THE HILLS: Discover Tuesday 14/5/2013

mywac:

Something what I wrote.

Originally posted on Picturehouse Blog:

Picturehouse Blog Beyond The Hills Discover Tuesday cannes

Martin Langley, Duty Manager at the Regal Picturehouse, Henley-on-Thames writes about BEYOND THE HILLS. 

From the moment Alina turns to stare back towards the Moldavian town, we can tell her reunion with childhood friend and lover Voichita will not be a smooth ride. Returning from work in Germany in an effort to entice Voichita to join her, Alina discovers her lover has left their orphanage home to join a strict orthodox monastery ‘beyond the hills’.

Alina’s elation and emotional outpouring at the station rapidly dissipate, and we immediately sense Voichita’s apprehensions that her past will encroach on her newly found faith and devotion to the church. Her concerns are vindicated as Alina’s arrival unsettles the familial relationships at the monastery, in particular with the slightly sinister Father or ‘Papa’.

Beyond The Hills What follows is a brilliantly poised tale of love to the point of obsession that makes BEYOND THE HILLS worthy…

View original 224 more words

The tale of the incredible shrinking and growing man

The graph below is astonishing. It would appear that today, after my circuits class, taking my regular monthly weigh in the following 2 things have happened.

1) I Have put on 6.5kg or 15lb in weight

I must admit, on visual inspection and considering no change in diet or exercise, despite the festive period, this seems unlikely.

2) I have shrunk by 6cm or 2.4″

This is quite alarming – and false.

Though I have never taken much notice of weight as a measure of fitness, often quipping ‘it is just a number’ and that ‘it is how you feel’ and in many cases ‘how you look’ that might seem more pertinent, the figures I was presented with today stunned me.

I weigh myself in the same way on the same machine at the same time of each month in the interests of fairness. Rather than panic, I have elected to stop using this machine as it is clearly rubbish. I have not put on a stone and lost 3″ in the last 31 days!

The graphs below though (including today’s preposterous figures) do show how my exercise regime is taking effect. In reference to my earlier comments, I also look and feel an awful lot better. The rest is just an update on the exercise portion of MYWAC – hopefully a habit-for-life changing development.

MYWAC exercise progress

 

As my weekly timetable has become more full in the past few months, I have attempted to maintain the exercise regime I planned out the outset of MYWAC, namely 3-4 sessions per week.

Whilst I have never been terribly unfit (on examination of the figures you may disagree) I have always longed for a more toned body and so used MYWAC as an opportunity to engender habits that might eliminate some softer areas.

I joined the local gym and now regularly enrol in a variety of classes. Each week (depending on other commitments) I attempt 3 or 4 from the following list: Spinning, Swimming, Circuit Training, Body Pump, Running and a gym session.

Spinning or studio cycling is an hour of group cycling to music. The focus of each 2-9 minute track might be on warm up/down, calorie burning, strength or endurance. It is probably the activity I find most satisfying as it feels (judging by the enormous pool of sweat) like a good work out, never seems to drag and is quite fun and motivating in a group environment. Some sessions are accompanied by video footage of an actual cycle ride to create a more immersive and pleasurable ‘ride’.

I attend lane swimming, which can be quite congested at times. My local pool offers 5 lanes for a period of 1-2 hours each lunchtime, with each lane having a designated speed (slow, medium or fast). I swim in the medium lane and just about hold my own there. I swim 60 x 25m lengths in a session (maths geeks that is 1.5km, just short of a mile). As I consider a triathlon later in the year I am attempting to increase the number of front crawl lengths I swim. At present I swim 4 sets of 9 breast stroke then 6 crawl lengths. I am sure my technique is inefficient as it often feels like I am fighting my way through the water (at least when crawling) and so must attend some lessons to rectify this.

Circuit training is my least favourite of all the sessions I attend. It is an excellent workout and I often leave a pool of sweat (much to the disgust of my classmates) at each station. The problem I have is my instructor’s choice of warm-down which all too often consists of Zumba. This 10 minute segment is often a surprise inclusion part-way through the main session, leaving me powerless to plan ahead and avoid it. Many of my classmates attend the separate Zumba class and so all appear far more co-ordinated than me. I feel good when I go, though am amazed by the amount of mouth/jaw/tongue exercise my classmates get through with their incessant gossip.

Body Pump is a prescriptive free weights and cardio group session that promises quick results. I used to attend (many years ago) a couple of times a week and the results are apparent in just a few weeks. One session a week perhaps does not achieve the same effect, though in tandem with my other classes, constitutes a  broad range of exercise. Most of my soft areas tend to be above the waist so this kind of session keeps those muscles in check.

Outdoor running is a fair weather pass-time for me. It is a good way to enjoy a podcast or two (certain music makes me want to run too fast, so people talking is an opportunity to learn and less heart attack inducing) and is strangely harder than running on a treadmill. Once the weather lifts I shall head out again. It is, after all, free and easy to arrange.

I have never been a fan of the traditional gym or weights room, but as they develop I am becoming more accustomed to the environment. My fairly rigid session begins with a 5km run on the treadmill and I record my time each week. From here I move onto some weights machines, focusing on upper body work: chest, shoulders, pectorals and back. I record the weight I use and have steadily increased it as the weeks go by. Most recently I have upped the number of repetitions to 3×13 from 3×10. I finish my session with a 3×20 leg press which supposedly works the largest muscle group.

MYWAC 5k run times

 

Ritzy Picture House has the WOW factor, but Django comes up short.

Cinemaritzy-jpg_093402

Ritzy Picture House, Brixton

Wednesday

23/12/12

1.30 pm

 

Profile

5 screens

 

Film

Django Unchained (18)

35mm film projection

 

Tickets

£7.00 (very reasonable!) for a weekday matinee. £11.00 (ouch!) at peak times.

Membership discounts available.

 

Foyer

From the moment you first see The Ritzy, you know to expect a wonderful cinema experience – a feeling that can only be overshadowed by an over-hyped mediocre film (see below).

From the outside, The Ritzy has a classic early 20th Century style having been originally built in 1911 (then known as the Electric Pavilion). Whilst the original frontage is still intact, the main entrance to the box office is now next door allowing cafe style seating out front (though there were few takers in the snow). The queuing system for the box office/kiosk is a little congested and therefore manic and the foyer a little small for a busy 5 screen cinema. Wednesdays can be busier days thanks to mobile phone 2-for-1 promotions – I dread to think of how it might be on a busy weekend evening. The systems in place are designed to deal with ticket buyers (so many of us now come with our own pre-printed tickets) as quickly as possible and we were soon ready to go to our seats.

 

Refreshments

Popcorn, packet sweets and drinks are available as well as Picturehouse’s signature range of snacks. The Ritzy has its own bar and live music venue upstairs (imaginatively titled ‘Upstairs at The Ritzy’) which is marketed to movie customers and non-cinema goers alike. Beers, spirits and wines are available to take in to the auditorium.

 

Auditorium

Screen 1

352 seats

Free seating. (This is usual practice at Picture Houses for pre-5pm screenings)

180 viewers

Tickets are issued at the busy front desk and checked by a surly usher at the screen door.

Here though a little word on Screen 1 itself.

 

Wow!

WOW!

WOW!

 

That’s quite a little word. Only 3 letters….but it says a lot….and so does the magnificent layout and decor of The Ritzy’s principal screen. The decorative arched ceiling looms over the plush red seats that slope gently towards the screen. Behind the huge stretched fabric screen, you can still make out the stage area and curtains which used to house the cinema’s organ.

Arrive in your seats early and soak up the nostalgia. The fact that the forthcoming film was actually ‘film’ added to my anticipation as the lights dimmed and the audience settled in.

 

Review

Quentin Tarantino has done his Kung-Fu movie, he’s done his War film (I have no desire to see Death Proof, so have not categorized it here) and now he has done his Western. Or not.

Never shy of sharing his thoughts and ideas, when creating Django, Tarantino referenced the works of Tonino Valerii, Giolio Petroni, Duccio Tessari and the two Sergios;  Leone and Corbucci. References to the films of these men and others continue throughout the film and undoubtedly, Tarantino knows his stuff. Despite his love and knowledge of the genre however, I attest this is not a Western. Rather it is the movie of the first black super-hero. The eponymous Django.

One could argue that all Westerns are essentially super-hero films. Often a single character, almost indestructible, with skills and powers beyond that of a mere mortal. Throw in a bad guy and a mysterious back story and the formula fits for Superman, Batman or Spidey.

Jamie Foxx (excellent) in the form of Django is the chosen one in this instance. With little need for explanation, we accept he is a cut above the average slave. His marksmanship is second-to-none and despite numerous scrapes and escapes he is seemingly indestructible. The opening titles make for a convincing Western feel (added to by the slightly wobbly 35mm projection) and the scenery and costumes are certainly in keeping with the genre.

But this is not a Western – at least not the kind I am familiar with. It’s too noisy and too bloody and (in places) too silly. Like it’s director, Django Unchained cannot keep its mouth shut. Where ‘Once Upon a Time in West’ thrills the audience with suspenseful silence and lingering looks, Tarantino fills almost every conceivable gap with dialogue and violence. The only real tense point in the film comes at the dinner table of Calvin Candie, some 90 minutes into the film.

Tarantino fans, of which I am/was one might crave his brilliant writing, but I’m afraid the numerous memorable lines of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are too few and far between in this outing. Instead, Tarantino seems on downhill trajectory, making formulaic films to a genre/fan-boy recipe.

 

1)      Pick a genre

2)      Cast a big name (Leo DiCaprio in this case) along with a retro has-been (Don Johnson) and the ubiquitous Samuel L Jackson

3)      Write some punchy dialogue (but not as much as you used to) with lots of swearing

4)      Add blood and guns and lots of death

5)      ‘Cool’ soundtrack

6)      A sprinkling of controversy and then talk about it A LOT!

7)      Hey Presto! There’s your movie.

 

As you will have heard elsewhere, the movie is too long – but my problems with it began well before this became evident. And it does become evident…right about the time [spoiler alert] the director himself turns up with a ridiculous accent (is that South African….no, no, it’s Aussie….everyone starts saying ‘mate’ a lot) and then gets himself blown up.

 

[If you’ve not seen the film yet, you can start reading again from here]

 

In summary, the formula of Tarantino’s later works has become a little ‘formulaic’! Having loved his early works and found more recent efforts averagely entertaining, I had fallen for the hype again and had high expectations. I found the film average. Mark Cousins refers to Pulp Fiction as the catalyst for a slew of 90’s movies in a similar style. Tarantino influencing others. His later works are Tarantino influenced by others and they seem a little indulgent and lacking freshness. There are several nods to his own movies in certain scenes which I found a little self-aggrandising. Other scenes such as the comedic ‘hoods’ episode, though funny, seem a little clumsy (here is a bit of Blazing Saddles). The ‘cool’ soundtrack is hampered by the mis-placed hip hop track used extensively in the trailer, but awkward in the film. Leonardo DiCaprio is good but not great and certainly not menacing enough, Samuel L Jackson seems like a comedic parody of all his other Tarantino roles and Christoph Waltz has a great deal of success and fun with a part that is just an extension of Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. The first half of the film drags a little and the ending is a little cheesy and 30 minutes too late.

On re-reading this, I seem to have found my reviewing style – and that is to point out my many issues with a film and then claim it was alright actually.

Django was alright actually – but nothing more. My apparent disappointment comes once again from raised expectations. If there are 3 more movies in Tarantino’s catalogue of ‘perfect 10’ (perhaps) sci-fi, horror and a children’s movie?) I dread to think what will happen. Perhaps it is time to free himself from the burden of his movie homage formula.

 

Code of Conduct: Transgressions

Mobile Phone Use

Late Arrival

 

COC Score 8/10

And the winner is….What have the Golden Globes ever done for us – other than give us some clues for the BAFTAs & Oscars. Correlations & Comments as awards season looms.

On January 13th, the 70th Golden Globe Awards ceremony in conjunction with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association took place. The Globes are one of the first internationally recognised ceremonies in award season, which reaches its peak with the Academy Awards or Oscars on the 24th February. The Globes’ winners* have often given some indication of things to come on that Sunday in February, with a little help from the British based BAFTA film awards 2 weeks before.

Sticking to the main acting, writing & directing categories, here I reflect on the Golden Globe winners and my tips & picks for the BAFTAs and Oscar; as well as commenting on any correlations or omissions between the nominees.

I can’t claim to have seen all the films nominated (some, like The Paperboy aren’t released in the UK until March). As the categories across the three organisations are not entirely congruent, I’ve aimed to amalgamate one or two before commenting on them. Have a browse – rubbish my picks or ignorance if you wish – or just simply let me know what you think.

Up for grabs

Up for grabs

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Film Best Motion Picture – DramaArgo*

Django Unchained

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Les Miserables*

Moonrise Kingdom

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Silver Linings Playbook

ArgoLes Miserables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

AmourArgo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

In naming 10 films, the Oscars takes the lion’s share of the best film category with the Globes splitting their nominees amongst two sub-categories. A note on this first – surely there are more than three film types (Drama, Comedy and Musical) and I am not sure ‘Salmon Fishing’ really fits into the latter category at all!Big hitters like Lincoln, ZDT, Les Mis and Pi are recognised by all three organisations as well as Argo. Argo was my film of 2012 so I was pleased, though surprised; it won at the Globes, though I feel it will struggle to replicate this performance at the BAFTAs where I would tip the suitably luvvy Les Mis and the Oscars where I feel the Americans will reward a home-grown history with morals by handing the statue to Lincoln.

lesmisLincoln

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Actress Best Actress – Motion Picture DramaJessica Chastain*

(Zero Dark Thirty)

Marion Cotillard

(Rust and Bone)

Helen Mirren

(Hitchcock)

Naomi Watts

(The Impossible)

Rachel Weisz

(The Deep Blue Sea)

Best Actress – Comedy or Musical

Emily Blunt

(Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)

Judi Dench

(The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

Jennifer Lawrence*

(Silver Linings Playbook

)

Maggie Smith

(Quartet)

Meryl Streep

(Hope Springs)

Jessica Chastain(Zero Dark Thirty)

Jennifer Lawrence

(Silver Linings Playbook

)

Emmanuelle Riva

(Amour)

Helen Mirren

(Hitchcock)

Marion Cotillard

(Rust and Bone)

Jessica Chastain(Zero Dark Thirty)

Jennifer Lawrence

(Silver Linings Playbook

)

Emmanuelle Riva

(Amour)

Quvenzhane Wallis

(Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Naomi Watts

(The Impossible)

Once again, the Globes double up their number of nominees (as they will also do for best actor) and there are some big hitters amongst this group of actresses , particularly the over 60s – Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep and Emmanuelle Riva – with a combined age of 371!I have made no secret of my respect for Naomi Watt’s performance in The Impossible and it is actually one of the few films in this list I have seen. I think the BAFTA is a two horse (filly?) race between Riva and Chastain (who won at the Globes), but think the latter may be out of the Academy award running because of the US opposition to some of the content of ZDT. Quvenzhane Wallis is wonderful in BOTSW, but I think an Academy Award might be more of a token gesture in this case to one so young. Therefore I  appear to have talked myself into backing Naomi Watts for the Oscar. I hope I’m right – the BAFTA nominations came out just a few days after I saw the film (which was still resonating with me) so I was most upset she did not even make the shortlist. Go Naomi!
Go Naomi!

Go Naomi!

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Actor Best Actor – Motion Picture DramaDaniel Day-Lewis*

(Lincoln)

Joaquin Phoenix

(The Master)

Denzel Washington

(Flight)

Richard Gere

(Arbitrage)

John Hawkes

(The Sessions)

Best Actor – Comedy or Musical

Bradley Cooper

(Silver Linings Playbook

)

Hugh Jackman*

(Les Miserables)

Jack Black

(Bernie)

Ewan McGregor

(Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)

Bill Murray

Hyde Park on Hudson

Bradley Cooper(Silver Linings Playbook

)

Daniel Day-Lewis

(Lincoln)

Hugh Jackman

(Les Miserables)

Joaquin Phoenix

(The Master)

Ben Affleck

(Argo)

Bradley Cooper(Silver Linings Playbook

)

Daniel Day-Lewis

(Lincoln)

Hugh Jackman

(Les Miserables)

Joaquin Phoenix

(The Master)

Denzel Washington

(Flight)

Ben Affleck and Denzel Washington are the only differences between BAFTA and Oscar nods and I am not sure Affleck’s acting performance was what Argo should be credited for. Despite 10 nominations, he does not even feature in the Globes list. I have yet to see ‘Flight’ though I am really looking forward to it. It’s good to see Bill Murray’s name almost anywhere, though he, McGregor, Jack Black and Richard Gere were certainly rank outsiders for an award. Hugh Jackman and Daniel Day-Lewis (eventual Globe winners) carry more gravitas than Bradley Cooper and so will edge him out in the BAFTAs and Oscars, but I would not rule out Joaquin Phoenix at either ceremony. The Master was all about acting with both Phoenix and Hoffman putting in top-class performances. I’d like to see him win, though in reality think the Brits will go for the Aussie and the yanks will go for the Englishman.
Jackman vs Day-LewisNot quite cricket

Jackman vs Day-Lewis
Not quite cricket

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Animated Feature Brave*Frankenweenie

Wreck-It Ralph

Hotel Transylvania

Rise of the Guardians

BraveFrankenweenie

ParaNorman

 

BraveFrankenweenie

ParaNorman

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Wreck-It Ralph

I have not seen any of these films. I blame my age – however, Wreck-It-Ralph is definitely on my radar. I’m thoroughly looking forward to seeing Dr Robotnik, Zangief and Bowser laughing it up in a video games version of Shrek. I blame my age.I’m surprised Pirates got an Oscar nod and did not feature at the BAFTAs who I feel may favour Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Brave will follow up its globe with an Oscar.

Wreck-It-Ralph-post3

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Foreign Language Rust and BoneUntouchable

Amour*

Kon-Tiki

A Royal Affair

AmourHeadhunters

The Hunt

Rust and Bone

Untouchable

AmourKon-Tiki

No

A Royal Affair

War Witch

I have been lead to believe that in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, the Academy are duty-bound to nominate only one film from any given country. This would preclude them from nominating both Rust & Bone and Untouchable, but to nominate neither seems like an oversight. If I am honest, I had never heard of the Canadian film War Witch, but cannot see past Amour winning at all three ceremonies such are its accolades.

MV5BMTk1NTc3NDc4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjYwNDk0OA@@._V1._SY317_

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Supporting Actress Amy Adams(The Master)

Sally Field

(Lincoln)

Anne Hathaway*

(Les Miserables)

Helen Hunt

(The Sessions)

Nicole Kidman

(The Paperboy)

Amy Adams(The Master)

Sally Field

(Lincoln)

Anne Hathaway

(Les Miserables)

Helen Hunt

(The Sessions)

Judi Dench

(Skyfall)

Amy Adams(The Master)

Sally Field

(Lincoln)

Anne Hathaway

(Les Miserables)

Helen Hunt

(The Sessions)

Jacki Weaver

(Silver Linings Playbook

)

As is clear, the top 4 from each organisation are identical and I am sure the winners will come from these quartets in each case – but that is not to say Judi Dench might nick it at the BAFTAs. The Oscars have planned a celebration montage of 50 years of Bond without nominating Skyfall in any major category (sorry Adele) so perhaps at the BAFTAs Dame Judi (who is excellent in her Bond swansong) will take away something for the mantelpiece. It is Globe winner Anne Hathaway who I think will dominate though. Despite being on screen for a fraction of the movie’s running time, her performance is generating a lot of buzz. As I am due to project this film for 3 consecutive weeks I have yet to see it, so can’t comment any further – the songs from the trailer are stuck in my head already.

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Supporting Actor Alan Arkin(Argo)

Leonardo DiCaprio

(Django Unchained)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

(The Master)

Tommy Lee Jones

(Lincoln)

Christoph Waltz*

(Django Unchained)

Alan Arkin(Argo)

Javier Bardem

(Skyfall)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

(The Master)

Tommy Lee Jones

(Lincoln)

Christoph Waltz

(Django Unchained)

Alan Arkin(Argo)

Robert De Niro

(Silver Linings Playbook

)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

(The Master)

Tommy Lee Jones

(Lincoln)

Christoph Waltz

(Django Unchained)

There are undoubtedly some fine performances amongst this fine set of actors. I am due to see a 35mm print of Django this Wednesday, so cannot comment on Christoph Waltz’ win at the Globes. I really liked Javier Bardem in Bond and am a little surprised his best supporting performance was not recognised beyond British shores – maybe he will get the BAFTA. My tip would be for PSH though. I love him in almost everything he is in and for me ‘supporting actor’ almost belittles the magnitude of his performance in The Master. Perhaps the film is a little too dry to gain the accolades it deserves and Waltz will sweep the board…but I can picture it now. Bardem for a BAFTA and PSH for an Oscar. Both well deserved.
Want to swap?

Want to swap?

Maybe not

Maybe not

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Director Ang Lee(Life of Pi)

Ben Affleck*

(Argo)

Quentin Tarantino

(Django Unchained

)

Kathryn Bigelow

(Zero Dark Thirty)

Steven Spielberg

(Lincoln)

Michael Haneke(Amour)

Ang Lee

(Life of Pi)

Ben Affleck

(Argo)

Quentin Tarantino

(Django Unchained

)

Kathryn Bigelow

(Zero Dark Thirty)

 

Michael Haneke(Amour)

Benh Zeitlin

(Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Ang Lee

(Life of Pi)

Steven Spielberg

(Lincoln)

David O.Russell

(Silver Linings Playbook

)

I mentioned earlier that ZDT may suffer from the American opposition to some of its content. The fact that the Academy has put forward an all male shortlist for Best Director perhaps supports this view. Bigelow’s only chance is at the BAFTAs then, who I think will pass on Tarantino. Ben Affleck picked up the Globe for Best Director (not even nominated in that category by the Academy) which came as something of a surprise to me. I don’t think he will follow this up with a BAFTA. Once again I think the Academy will plump for Lincoln, whilst I think the race for the BAFTA will be won by Haneke.

Category

Globe

BAFTA

OSCAR

Best Screenplay ArgoLincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Django Unchained*

Zero Dark Thirty

Best adaptedArgo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Original

Amour

Django Unchained

The Master

Moonrise Kingdom

Zero Dark Thirty

Best AdaptedArgo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Original

Amour

Django Unchained

Flight

Moonrise Kingdom

Zero Dark Thirty

This time, it is the BAFTAs and the Oscars that sub-categorise, doubling their number of nominees but there is still an obvious correlation between them. Argo, Lincoln, SLP, Django and ZDT are nominated by all three organisations with the numbers being made up by BOTSW, Pi, Amour, The Master, Flight and Moonrise Kingdom. The last of these was one of my favourite films of 2012, though I am fairly certain it will not win an award (The Master and Flight beating it). The award for best adapted will also differ between these two. I am tipping Argo for the BAFTAs and SLP (which despite its many nominations will miss out in all but this category) for the Oscars.

01_argo_ipad

slp

In this final section, I’m just commenting on a few categories that appear in only one of the ceremonies. The BAFTAs.

Category

BAFTA

Rising Star

Elizabeth Olsen

Andrea Risborough

Suraj Sharma

Juno Temple

Alicia Vikander

I really enjoyed Martha, Marcy, Marlene (Elizabeth Olsen) but think in this case, young debutant Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi will get the nod. The romanticism behind the tale that originally he was simply accompanying his brother to the audition only add to his stock.

Category

BAFTA

Outstanding Debut

Bart Layton, Dimitri Doganis

(The Imposter)

David Morris, Jacqui Morris

(McCullin)

Dexter Fletcher, Danny King

(Wild Bill)

James Bobin

(The Muppets)

Tina Gharavi

(I Am Nasrine)

I’ve only seen the top one here – so I’m going to back it. The Imposter was a great film/documentary produced (amongst others) by Film 4 and distributed (amongst others) by Picture House cinemas. The British element may have the deciding factor here. A great film that grew in stature as word of mouth spread.

The-Imposter-Poster

And finally…

Category

BAFTA

Outstanding British Film

Anna Karenina

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Les Miserables

Seven Psychopaths

It is difficult to categorise films by nation these days. Is it the director, the subject matter, the setting, the acting talent or the money that qualifies a particular film its passport? I was therefore surprised to see some of these names on this list. I was also surprised to see the omission of Sightseers which has a British director, is about serial-killing caravaners set in Britain, stars British actors and was funded with British money. Outstanding might be a little strong, but it is certainly very good and if not quite everyone’s diamond jubilee cup of blood spattered tea – is a very good (and memorable) British film. Les Mis will pick up awards elsewhere and it is difficult to see how it will lose out to the other contenders in this group.

lff2012-sightseers

Originally posted on mywac:

Cinema

'Swish' Cottage ODEON

‘Swish’ Cottage ODEON

 

IMAX ODEON, Swiss Cottage

Tuesday

1/1/13

12.15 pm

 

Profile

5 screens (one IMAX)

 

Film

The Hobbit ‘An Unexpected Journey’ (12a) in HFR (48 fps) 3D IMAX

 

Tickets

Adults from £8.50 (regular films off peak) +£4.50 for IMAX 3D

25% Discount for Tuesday screening

 

Foyer

ODEON Swiss Cottage has a broad open foyer area and is brightly coloured and well lit. Tickets can be purchased from the counter immediately opposite you and a bank of automated machines at the side of the foyer offer the same facility. Many ODEON cinemas incorporate a Costa coffee shop and the Swiss Cottage outlet is located just next door. It also has its own (convenient) ticket collection machine. Front of house was very clean and inviting, as were toilets and corridors as this is clearly a flagship site for the group.

 

Refreshments

As…

View original 1,311 more words

Naomi Watts is Outstanding in The Impossible @ ODEON George St Oxford

Cinema

The compact ODEON on George Street

The compact ODEON on George Street

 

ODEON, George Street, Oxford

Monday

7/1/13

5.30 pm

 

Profile

6 screens

 

Film

The Impossible (12a)

 

Tickets

Adults from £9.95 (peak time)

 

Foyer

The first obstacle on entering the cinema is to hurdle/limbo the roped-off queue towards the box office which you have inevitably walked into. The cinema foyer is quite compact for a 6 screen facility, perhaps a victim of its location in central Oxford. Besides the box office there is a refreshments counter and separate ice-cream stand. Other than these standard ODEON features, the building is quite unremarkable.

 

Refreshments

The usual soft drinks, sweets and snacks are on offer, though I don’t recall the sale of any alcohol (which was certainly required following the film). A Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream stand will always raise my spirits and this one was manned by a very pleasant young employee. She was a little slow on the till and obviously new to the position (thus her pace was perfectly reasonable – I know how complicated these things are at first) which perhaps also explains her pleasant demeanour, not commensurate with many other employees.

 

Auditorium

Screen 4

129 seats

Allocated seats

An audience of about 40

Though seats were allocated, you are left to fend for yourself once entering the main auditorium corridor. This makes a mockery of ODEON’s premiere seating option which you could easily choose to sit in should you be a rebellious law-breaker type. As it happens I am not – though finding a couple sat in my allocated seat did tempt me. I sat nearby, not minding…that is until the gentlemen (who was old enough to know better) revealed himself to be a complete imbecile making banal comments throughout the film, stating the obvious and making light of some fairly serious subject matter. Idiot. But I digress….

 

Review

The Impossible is a good film. Very good in fact. But I did not enjoy it (nothing to do with the aforementioned idiot). I endured it.

I will be honest in saying that I went to see this film quite unprepared for what was to come – a darkly humorous irony perhaps. A night at the cinema had been suggested to me by my fiancée and I was of course powerless to resist. I am often the instigator of such nights out, and thus (the excellent) Berberian Sound Studio robbed her of 2 hours of her life. This film was certainly going to be no ‘Twilight’ so I happily agreed to go.

I was well aware of the subject matter of the film, remembering the tsunami of 2004 quite well. Still I remained unprepared. I had read little about the film except that the portrayal of the family’s story was perhaps on the slightly Hollywood/saccharine side. Ultimately I did not find this to be the case, but the opening 6 minutes detailing a privileged family’s festive holiday in Thailand did little to dispel my pre-impression. I had begun analysing the performances of the child actors who were bound to feature more heavily as the story developed and was not especially impressed. Perhaps this was not helped by some of the dialogue or exposition which I felt clumsily set up a few character facts and details that would no doubt become significant as the drama unfolded. I had almost written my review. As I say, this lasted for 6 minutes.

108 minutes later I sat quite stunned as the credits began to roll. I was physically (yes) and emotionally drained. Rather than head off for a pleasant dinner, I chose a small nearby pub for a stiff drink. Amidst (required) pregnant pauses, questions began to arise. Is it too soon to make films about the 2004 disaster? Is it right? Was it representative? How on earth did they do it? Other than the last of these questions (a large water tank in Spain was used along with 1/3 scale models and minimal CG effects), I am still unsure of the answers.

I have not felt so enormously pummelled by the emotion of a film since Schindler’s List twenty years ago. Perhaps I was more affected by this because it happened during my lifetime and (though indirectly) I know of several people affected by it. Naomi Watts is absolutely amazing in her role as Maria. Much of her on-screen time is spent with 14 year old Tom Holland playing her son. Another huge performance. The physical and emotional trauma the two suffer – all played out with a gritty realism I consider too strong for the 12a certificate – is relentless, upsetting and brutal. Before we have any time to take stock or recover from the horror the mother and daughter pair have suffered we are emotionally mangled by the anguish of Ewan McGregor playing the father, Henry. Though he has his fair share of cuts and bruises, it is his seemingly impossible quest to reunite his family that tears our hearts out.

Amazing performances from Naomi Watts & Tom Holland

Amazing performances from Naomi Watts & Tom Holland

Perhaps, like me, you are not totally familiar with the ending of this true story – a word emphasized in the opening titles – just in case you weren’t sure. I will not put any spoilers in here. I am amazed Naomi Watts name is not on the BAFTA ‘Best Actress’ list released today – or that Tom Holland was not recognised as a ‘rising star’. Perhaps the Academy will think differently tomorrow.

Would I recommend The Impossible. Yes I would. It is a very good film. The inevitable caveat is that you might want to emotionally prepare yourself for a very, very rough ride. Sobs from the audience were audible throughout the film. The images are graphic and the suffering almost unbearable. Those with a closer connection than me to the 2004 disaster may have even stronger views about the merits and even the existence of the film. I was unprepared. I saw it. I have no need to see it again. I feel very sorry for those that really had to suffer on that Boxing Day.

 

Code of Conduct: Transgressions

Talking (idiot!)

Lateness

 

COC Score 8/10

The worst film of the year. The Hobbit and 48FPS. An Unexpected disappointment @ Swiss Cottage ODEON.

Cinema

'Swish' Cottage ODEON

‘Swish’ Cottage ODEON

 

IMAX ODEON, Swiss Cottage

Tuesday

1/1/13

12.15 pm

 

Profile

5 screens (one IMAX)

 

Film

The Hobbit ‘An Unexpected Journey’ (12a) in HFR (48 fps) 3D IMAX

 

Tickets

Adults from £8.50 (regular films off peak) +£4.50 for IMAX 3D

25% Discount for Tuesday screening

 

Foyer

ODEON Swiss Cottage has a broad open foyer area and is brightly coloured and well lit. Tickets can be purchased from the counter immediately opposite you and a bank of automated machines at the side of the foyer offer the same facility. Many ODEON cinemas incorporate a Costa coffee shop and the Swiss Cottage outlet is located just next door. It also has its own (convenient) ticket collection machine. Front of house was very clean and inviting, as were toilets and corridors as this is clearly a flagship site for the group.

 

Refreshments

As with most multiplexes, a great deal of over-priced snacks and drinks are on offer and a selection of alcohol is available. In addition to the basic popcorn and sweets options, I noticed ODEON have now begun to stock a limited range of ‘deluxe’ snacks in small plastic pots such as chocolate raspberries – very similar to ranges found at Picture House Cinemas.

 

Auditorium

Screen 1

307 seats

IMAX

Allocated seats

A New Year’s Day crowd of around 150

Ushers direct you to your (large and comfortable) seats. I chose this cinema as according to my research it was the only cinema within 100 miles to be showing this film in the HFR (48fps) 3D IMAX version.

 

Review

Having suffered the horror that was ‘Tinkerbell and the Secret of the Wings’ just before Christmas, I was desperate to get my movie viewing back on track by kicking off 2013 with a good watch. All I can say is thank goodness I saw ‘Life of Pi’ prior to this to round off 2012 otherwise tiny Tink might just have edged out Peter Jackson’s diminutive hobbits and dwarves as the best film I had seen in the cinema in the last month (oh – except Sightseers, which was also excellent!)

Even Tinkerbell's magic cannot save this HFR disaster

Even Tinkerbell’s magic cannot save this HFR disaster

I am of course being enormously harsh on The Hobbit Part 1 which is nowhere near as awful as the abysmal and shamefully commercial Tinkerbell, but it is the level of disappointment one experiences on seeing a big release when your expectations are so high. I expected very little of TATSOTW and it delivered exactly that. Whilst I was certainly sceptical Jackson’s idea to turn a short children’s novel into 3 films (which seemed adequate for the much more epic ‘Lord of The Rings’ trilogy) I certainly expected much better than it delivered and there is certainly one major culprit that was the catalyst for all this (Mount) doom and gloom.

48 Frames per second is rubbish! From my central England location, I was given the choice of only London or Manchester as my closest opportunity to see the first instalment of Jackson’s new franchise in IMAX 3D projected in HFR (48 fps) – the big kahuna – surely the true form the director intended. I am no fan of 3D, but have always enjoyed my previous IMAX experiences – but it was HFR that really piqued my interest here – and whilst it is foolish to judge the merits of the format on the basis of one showing of one film – I am going to do that anyway. First impressions count!

Though I had read a few articles about HFR and listened to Peter Jackson talk about the ‘look’ of it on screen, I still couldn’t quite picture it. It seemed to me that this was something other than High Definition. I remember seeing my first HD TV and my first Blu-Ray and almost finding the image too sharp at first. It was the difference between cassette and CD (or MP3) and is now the accepted standard. Following the ads, trailers and opening credits we are once more transported to Hobbiton, Middle Earth to experience another Hobbit adventure.

YUK! It looked awful. It looked real…but not real in a good way…real like you were almost there…but not immersive…like you were actually there on set…because that is what it looked like. A set. You could see it was a set. And costumes. And make-up. In his documentary ‘The Story of Film: An Odyssey’, Mark Cousins comments that in filming the amazing opening scene to ‘Saving Private Ryan’, Stephen Spielberg has created “a lie to tell the truth.” 48 Frames per second seems to have exposed that lie. This is not the ‘true’ story of a hobbit and a wizard and a dozen dwarves. It is actors in costumes on a set pretending to be those things. HFR has taken away the sheen of cinema that allows us to believe what we are seeing is real. Now we can clearly see it is not. Let me elaborate so you can visualise for yourself.

Pick one of your favourite films of the last 10 years – one you inevitably own the DVD or Blu Ray of; ‘Lord of the Rings’ perhaps. In the ‘extras’ section, watch some of the behind the scenes footage, the making of; where you can see camera operators and the edges of sets and lighting rigs. Perhaps you will see an actual scene being filmed as the main characters rush down an alleyway or through a door to a building. That is what HFR looked like to me. It looks like the behind the scenes footage. HFR has destroyed the production value of the film. It now looks like TV – and cheap TV at that. Hobbiton’s rolling green hills resembles Telly Tubby land. Christopher Lee’s beard looks like something he picked up at Party Mania on the way to the shoot. It is as if Elijah Wood (as Frodo) is appearing in a low budget BBC children’s drama on a Sunday afternoon, not a $250 million blockbuster. Go back to your DVD extras. After the scene of the actors running down the alleyway, they may now show the actual scene from the film – looks better doesn’t it? Not in 48 frames per second it doesn’t. It looks the same. It looks like sets and props and costumes. It looks rubbish.

As HFR was one of my main motivations for seeing the film at Swiss Cottage and it was so overt in the opening scenes of the film – it has somewhat marred by review. As you can probably tell – it made me quite cross. It has been claimed that HFR will solve some of the problems with motion blur in 3D films and to some extent, this appeared to be true. Additionally, wide angle shots from distance showing the beautiful New Zealand landscape did not suffer from the noticeable flaws in the close-up scenes. The heavy use of CGI during some set-pieces did not help however, as when the real bits look ‘too real’ the boundaries between sound stage and green screen become all the more obvious. On that note, the CG ‘White Orc’ seems to have been lifted directly from the opening sequence of a computer game. The prosthetic make-up used for orcs in TLOTR trilogy made them appear grotesque and menacing – conversely, the white orc would have been better placed in the forthcoming Wreck it Ralph as nemesis to Mario or Sonic.

What of the rest of the film? It is a good story – but isn’t that a given as it is based on a book? True fans may have problems with the extra sections imported from the Lord of The Rings appendices and Tolkien’s Silmarillion, but they at least begin to justify the running time. Personally, I did not find the film too long and the opening act in Hobbiton at least went some way to familiarising the audience with a host of new characters. I found the same problem with the book on first reading with too many homogenous dwarf characters. Jackson manages to give about half of them recognisable traits and characters.

Martin Freeman is exceptionally well cast and the eventual appearance of Gollum precedes a wonderful exchange of riddles between the two (three?) of them.

How 48 fps might look

How 48 fps might look

Unfortunately for me, the film was blighted from the off and I shall ensure that this time next year I endeavour to see a 24 fps 2D performance instead. It is likely I will enjoy it a whole lot more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Code of Conduct: Transgressions

Talking

Rustling

Mobile Phone Use

Irresponsible Parenting

 

COC Score 6/10

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