I am a girl who likes to rock out and can seen on a regular basis sporting the sign of the horns down my local sleaze pit. I was brought up in the 80's on a musical diet of hair metal and leather clad rock stars and always fancied myself as a bit of a Joan Jett. What I am saying that finding out Broadway musical Rock Of Ages was being adapted for the big screen was music to my ears.
As the opening credits played out to 'Nothin' But a Good Time' by Poison I was in my element and for moments, I felt like I could've been watching the stage show. It was loud, bright and more than a little bit camp and I got totally carried away with it all. It was complete escapism, that's what it was and further in I was no longer watching a show I was trapped inside an 1980's rock music video instead. I have to put this down to the directorial talent of Adam Shankman. His long career as a dancer and choreographer was ever present through dramatic face to the front shots, scenes filled with smoke and frantic camera work. It didn't look out of place though, instead it fitted the mood of the film brilliantly and sometimes even adding to elements of the film that were otherwise lacking. The biggest example I found of this involves the classic music vid elements of split screening and fading which were used to showcase parts of a somewhat barely there plot amongst 123 minutes crammed full of musical numbers.
Split into two parts the music gets the bigger slice of the pie but this is a musical film of course so I guess you have to ask how important a concrete plot line is as far as enjoyment is concerned. I'm still in two minds with the answer to that question, if I'm truly honest.
Rock Of Ages is the story of small town girl Sherri who moves to L.A and meets city boy Drew. He dreams of being a rock star while she just wants more from her life. They fall in love and work on finding themselves and realising their dreams. Julianne Hough and Diego Bonetta are great as Sherri and Drew and if you let yourself be carried away, the chemistry is completely believable. I found myself rooting for the pair of young lovers as the opening scenes progressed and overall, Bonetta is the stand out of the film vocally; no surprise considering he's professional but still.
The problem with the plot is the tangent it seems to go off on as Tom Cruise's character Stacee Jaxx is introduced. Now don't misunderstand me, it's not Cruises fault. He puts everything into his role of a flabouyant yet washed up, deluded rocker. His timing is spot on and when he says he's a slave to rock n roll, he means it. It's just that this sub-plot seems to forget that it is just that and as a result the love story from the beginning gets forgotten by the spotlight. Of course, it's brought back towards the end in order to wrap up the film but it feels lazy and isn't enough to save the thread bare story.
On a better note and one that's important is the entertainment factor. Rock Of Ages is a film that doesn't take it self too seriously so plot aside it's best not too either. Laugh out loud moments came from Russell Brand, as Lonny Barnett, who for anyone who as seen him live may as well being playing himself. He is hilarious though and teamed up with the dubious choice of Alec Baldwin for Dennis Dupree makes for surprising fun - watch out their rendition of REO Speedwagon's 'Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore', I literally cried tears!
Catherine Zeta Jones is there too. She plays Patricia Whitmore, who according to Brand is 'a woman who looks like she's been hibernating in margaret thatchers bum hole'. Her character doesn't really get developed though which is a shame because seeing her sing 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' by Pat Benata with a technical dance routine to boot is my favourite scene of the film.
The singing and dancing is what really makes this film. You get used to some of the musical numbers feeling like backing tracks to montages and even accepting this as plot but I really don't want to hang on that subject any more. Rock Of Ages is fun and lively and should be seen like that. The choreography (also done by Shankman) is outstanding and each song that starts slides effortlessly into the film. If you don't dig musicals then you may be tempted to stay home but I would say, give it a go.. embrace the leather and rock on! I walked away humming with a massive smile on my face.
I will leave you with this picture, I saw it and it made me smile. Good advice I think.
With the release of Pixar's new film Brave making it's UK release in just over a month, I've been checking out trailers. I have already fallen it's main girl Merida with her Scottish accent and shocking red hair so cannot wait until I finally get a seat and watch the film in it's glory.
I have watched a lot of animation over the years and as a result have seen the female represented in so many different ways. I thought I would take a look at some of my favourite heroines in animated form and share them with you guys. I didn't put them in order because that would be too hard, I really do adore each of these in equal measure for their own merits and reasons..
A Gyspy girl who befriends the deformed Quasimodo. As an outcast herself she wants nothing more than acceptance in society for all and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in. I love her because she's quick witted, a little exotic and passionate. She thinks fast, managing to get herself out of imminent danger but helps others too. She also shows she's no push over when she attracts the attention of men, I so wanted her to marry the hunchback but we can't have it all can we?
Coraline reminds me so of myself when I was a young girl. She's a curious little mite who feels completely misunderstood by the crazy adults around her. I love her stubborn streak but ultimately the best thing about her is that she knows where her loyalties lie. She's a bit like a darker Alice when she finds her own little world of wonder and gets a little of the 'grass is greener' attitude but ultimately this girl knows the difference between right and wrong even if she is a little madam.
How could I make a list like this and not include the fieriest fairy of them all? Okay so she doesn't speak but with body language and facial expressions like she has she doesn't need to. She's like a little fire rocket with her bad temper and mischievous nature but she's also kind and super cute. Oh, and she leaves a trail of fairy dust behind her.. what more do you want in a girl?
Dory is a fish, a blue tang fish to be precise, but she is female.I have included her in this list because I remember the first time I ever watched Finding Nemo and thinking I wish I was more like her. She is the driving force behind Marlin finding his missing son despite making mistakes. She is a funny thing, she can't remember the simplest facts but she never gives up. There's something really special about Dory and it's completely down to her 'glass half full' attitude. She is like an advert for optimism and proves that anyone can succeed if they 'just keep swimming'.
This is a strange choice for me because the feminist inside of me hates the fact that this girl needs to be constantly saved. She gains kudos though based on the fact that all she wants to do is follow in her daddy's footsteps and be a Knight. She does show some bravery and strength so all isn't lost with her and isn't there something to be said about always learning something new? Kayley is open to new teachings without losing her focus her goal - I guess she's not all that helpless afterall, hmmmm.
Everyone knows Alice. She's the girl who falls down the rabbit hole and finds herself in a land of bizarre wonderment. I loved her sense of imagination and curious nature and the fact she was perceived as a child rather than a young woman. Her reactions to things around her were typically young such as her crying and her tantrums but she was polite and well spoken too. She grew up in front of my eyes despite the madness she had found her self in and I've always had a soft spot for Alice because of this.
Ariel is one from my childhood and I thought she was amazing back then and still do to this day. She is breathtakingly beautiful, has a crab for a best friend and got to swim underwater all day. Ok, so maybe they're not the best reasons to love Ariel but they were my reasons as a youngster and I'm sticking to them.We'll try to forget that she gave up everything for a man, that kinda taints her a bit but the anyone prepared to give up her family and take the word of an evil octopus witch in order to get it must have some oomph about her.
I know that Astrid isn't the main character in her film but she is Hiccup's love interest so features a fair bit. I had to put her in this list because quite simply she's too cool for school. She has this stand offishness about her and really knows her own mind making her really hard to impress. She's not typically girly or sweet and would much rather fight with the boys than kiss them. She does have a softer side but it only comes through a little bit and only when it's earned.
I'm all for a girl who isn't afraid to go and get what she wants and Rapunzel does just that. After being locked in a tower for years and years by her 'Mother' Gothel, she gets curious as to what is out there and makes a break for it. Of course, she can't do it without the help of a man but no-one is perfect huh? All those years of being locked up have made her educated and smart though. She shows elements of bravery too and well, is pretty handy with a frying pan.
Gloria is a hippopotamus who lives in a zoo and is friends with Marty, Melman and Alex (a lion, a giraffe and a zebra). Throughout three films so far, the trio go on adventures. Being the only girl of group, Gloria is kind and motherly. She's doesn't like problems or confrontation and is the voice of reason for her friends. In fact, she's kinda stereotype girly, even more so in the second film on her quest for love. I still think she's super and really, really funny!
Ahhhh, Princess Fiona - teaching all girl's that looks don't mean diddly squat since the early 2001. Of course she has to go on a journey to get there, in fact she starts of as the typical fairy tale princess and then completely turns that on it's head. She is independent and true to her inner self, eventually. Her good heart proves it is what on the inside that counts while her ogerish ways are hilarious to watch.
Look at her, isn't she beautiful? The thing about Jessica though is the class she oozes and her underlying want to be treated for what she is and not just what she looks like. She loves her husband Roger dearly and would do anything to protect him. She shows she has brains and a mean slap too, making her strong and pretty powerful in her relationships. Although, lots of characters in the film say she is lucky to have Roger, I think it's Roger who is lucky to have her.
What about you guys? Do you have a favourite animated lady? Is there someone that simply must be on the above list who I have missed out? Please, Let me know!
This was recommended to me. 'Watch it', I was told, 'It's about magicians'. I rolled my eyes, but then last night after a quick look up on the internet I decided to give it a go. I was glad that I did. With the release of The Dark Knight Rises round the corner I was looking forward to seeing some more of Christopher Nolan's work and with my new found love for Christian Bale still fluttering in my heart The Prestige was set up for success. As well as Bale, it has a stellar cast including Hugh Jackman (X-Men), Michael Caine (Batman Begins, Dark Knight) and Scarlett Johansson (Avengers). Oh, and in case you miss it (which I did somehow) there's David Bowie too!
It is indeed about magicians, more specifically a rivalry between two of them. Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) used to be friends and assistants to another magician along with engineer Cutter (Caine). When a trick goes wrong one day and Angier's wife is killed, Borden is blamed. The pair go their separate ways and both magicians compete to be the best. What starts off as petty sabotage and a case of one upmanship turns deadly though as the stakes change when Borden pulls of a trick that defies explanation. Enraged that Borden seems to have everything he wants Angier is determined to find out his rival's secrets but ends up pulling them both (and everyone around them) into a pit of obsession, deceit and illusion.
The film start is a little messy. For ages I was sat there thinking to myself that nothing made any sense but then I remembered this was Nolan directing. I got the same feeling with Memento but that turned out marvellous, I decided to stick it out. So I watched as the story darted back and forth, as people had conversations about things I couldn't understand and I became frustrated. It was weird.It wasn't angry frustration, instead it was this intense suspense building up inside of me until bit by bit I realised I was focusing and the many, many elements started merging together.
The film is layered to perfection and is only helped along by the cast. Nolan and Jackman make great enemies. The ruthlessness between them is as dark as the Victorian backdrop making the idea of a face to face confrontation achingly tense and the actuality of it explosive. Caine is coarse and although I saw little differentiation between his take on Cutter and that of Alfred in Batman, it doesn't matter because he plays fractious mentor with ease. Johansson who looks stunning in this film adds an effortless lightness that is sometimes so needed and Bowie does't even look like Bowie, seriously.
What you need to remember with The Prestige is that the subject is magic and anything can happen. Nothing is concrete at all and when I thought I'd worked one thing out, someone or something was there to steer me in a new direction. Fantasy and reality become perfectly crossed wires as the magic of showmanship takes on a level with an intricate plot that twists, surprises and baffles. Nolan truly is a master of his art.
If I struggled with my favourite film, coming up with a least favourite was ten times harder. I immediately came up with many a film that I dislike for various reasons but when I really thought about it, the reasoning always seemed flaky or a little stupid. I hate film bashing. I am always fully aware that my opinions are just that and not always agreeable with everyone elses. What I decided then is that it would be a pretty boring world if we all liked (and disliked) the same things. Therefore, the film I eventually decided on was based entirely personal reasons and has a little story behind it.. I shall explain...
The Boy With The Strpied Pajamas (2008)
The Boy With The Striped Pajamas is based on a novel written by John Boyne. A novel that found it's way on to my reading list during my first year at University. Simplified, the story follows a friendship between Bruno, an 8 year old German boy, and Shmeul, a Jewish boy of the same age. Set during World War II, Bruno (whose father is commander in the Nazi army) lives in a three storey Polish town house while his friend resides behind the fence of a concentration camp. Bruno visits his friend every day and the two sit either side of the fence without anyone knowing. One day, Shmeul is upset because his father is missing and Bruno vows to help his friend find out where he is.
Now the story of me and that novel, it is relevant to all this I promise.
Truth is, I never finished it. It actually ended up in a heap after literally being thrown against my bedroom wall one night. I didn't throw it because I hated the book though, quite the opposite in fact. I became totally engulfed in those little boys lives that I clasped on to the naivety of their friendship. I loved the subtlety and freshness of the book and I loved the way it tip toed through an awful subject matter. I ended up not finishing because I became a heart broken silly girl during a scene where Bruno got head lice and had all his hair shaved off. I put two and two together right there, came to the devastating conclusion in my head and couldn't continue.
Ironically, I was made to watch the film during a lecture just a few weeks later and I was absolutely horrified. It started off with promise. Asa Butterfield (Hugo) made Bruno likeable from the offset, which is differs from the book and isn't so much of a bad thing. For such a young actor, Butterfield is enigmatic and engaging. He manages the opposites of Bruno's relationships perfectly and the scenes that draw on how torn he is between his friendship with Shmeul, played by Jack Scanlon and his miltitant father, played by David Thewlis (Harry Potter) are worth a watch.
The problems with this film began when I started to think about it and look back at what I had read. I'm no purist. I don't have a problem with book to screen adaptations nor do I with artistic licence but I honestly felt that all the subtlety that helped build Bruno's character was lost. It was almost as if he just became who he was, knew what he knew and the audience just had to accept it. There's a childish naivety towards the concentration camp that plays out beautifully on page that just isn't there in the film and I missed it.
Mark Herman wrote the screen play and directed. With films like Little Voice and Brassed Off under his belt I wasn't surprised that The Boy With Striped Pyjamas had all the glossiness of a Miramax picture but this isn't a rags to riches story, it's about the holocaust; something the film makers seem to forget a little too often. As a result the film is clunky and watered down. The attempt to take such a subject matter and make it suitable for children fails, I mean when does something so harrowing become suitable for a child to understand? I saw Schindlers List when I was 14 and didn't completely get it but it at least affected me making me want to know more.
There was so much in The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas that I just didn't get and yet I always seemed one step ahead of any of the characters making the film predictable. This was more down to the lack of development and each character's knowledge of the situation than the fact that I had read the novel first. Most of the scenes were sweeping and stylistic without much context or incite and the incessant music score (that was absolutely everywhere) only helped to take away any tension or depth that could've been present.
So what about that fateful ending? The bit that I didn't read but knew was coming? Ironically, it was by far the best bit of the film. It wasn't nearly as atmospheric or terrifying as it should of been if put against what happened in reality but it made the point that the whole film was leading up to. That's why it shone out from the rest of the film in fact, all the energy and creativity must have gone on this 15 minute sequence. I watched it, I cried (big girl remember) and then thought that that rest of the film was pretty pointless.
I know it sounds like I'm against book adaptations but I really am not and will aim to prove so with some that I've loved in the near future. As always though, I'd love to hear your opinions.
I realised today that there wasn't a place on my blog to keep all you lovelies up to date with stuff, so I'm creating one! Every so often, I'm going to publish these posts entitled 'blog stuff' that will be about things specific to my little piece of interweb space but I also want showcase some of the great stuff I've been reading by others (my bookmarks are heaving!!!).
I also thought it may be nice to finally show my face and extend a warm hug to those of you who take the time to read.. so, here I am...
Now, if that didn't scare you away I'll get on to the reason I am posting today. I have set up a facebook page and pinterest one too, I already had twitter. The links to these various things are below if you fancy coming over to say hey!