Friday, 28 February 2014

Masjävlar (2004)

In Masjävlar (also known as DalecarliansSofia Helin, star of - for my money - the finest Nordic Noir series The Bridge, stars as Mia, a Stockholm based professional who returns to the rural backwater town in Northern Sweden that she grew up in to celebrate her father's 70th birthday.

This is a quirky little tale about families,  secrets, repressed emotion and the unspoken bitter resentments and tension that are harboured in close knit communities. Uniquely Swedish in tone it may be, but one thing is for sure, it's a film that tells us that families are the same the world over and that times of celebration and of bringing people together often just show how far apart we all are.

At the heart of the film is the relationship between the three sisters played by Helin, Anne Petren and Kasja Ernst. Petren is a somewhat silly (on first appearances) newly divorced woman discovering what the single life has to offer her, whilst Ernst is the disapproving sibling who has taken it upon herself to always be there for her parents and the family, and never letting anyone forget it. Add to the mix Helin's more cosmopolitan and independent Mia and you've three uniquely different characters.

Maria Blom's film perfectly captures the small locale atmosphere and the light and shade inherent in the Swedish character. There's some funny moments as well as moments of great sadness all played brilliantly by the cast; Helin is as watchable as ever, whilst Ernst greatly impressed me in her role. Nice acoustic folky soundtrack too.

Smoking Hot

Catherine Deneuve

The Reckless Club

I don't know who is responsible for this wonderful mock up/art work so apologies that I haven't credited. But rest assured, it's superb!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Mental (2012)

Vibrantly shot and shot through with vulgarity, Mental reunites PJ Hogan with his Muriel's Wedding leading lady, Toni Collette for a subversive and downright hilarious look at mental health, suburban conformity and what lies beneath the supposed norms. Surprisingly, the film is based on Hogan's own childhood - in that when he was 12 his mother had a breakdown which is politician father kept secret so as not to ruin his chances at the local election. His father picked up a hitcher and subsequently placed this ballsy unconventional woman in charge of looking after his children, one of whom - Hogan's sister - had schizophrenia.

At the film's heart is a fabulously fierce and uncompromising character performance from Collette that veers from laugh out loud funny to deeply emotionally affecting. She's ably assisted by some superb performances from the child actresses who make the coming of age strands of the story a believable delight, whilst there's essentially cameos from the likes of Liev Schreiber, Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Fox and Rebecca Gibney. 

I've read some pretty poor reviews of this and frankly I just don't see it. I don't find it offensive towards mental illness as some have suggested; being a sufferer myself and someone who has worked in the counselling profession I found its look on the issue wonderfully refreshing. Yes it's blackly comic, but maybe that's why I like it - after all, anyone who has worked in mental health has a sense of humour that's blacker than Newgate's knocker - but it's also a feelgood movie. I also appreciate Hogan raising some important and often ignored issues (not just mental health but also Australia's race relations) and his encouraging discussion, without feeling like a sermon, as a result. 

If there's any fault it's perhaps the fact that the film seems to uncomfortably straddle quirky indie feature and multiplex offering. It firmly belongs in the former rather than the latter camp and Hogan could have firmly entrenched it in that field more, as witnessed by its wry, irreverent take on the tropes featured in The Sound of Music.

Overall, Mental is a great watch but maybe not for everyone. It has at its core the same sentiment I have towards mental illness; as I have always said 'one man's normal, is another man's insane'

Great Scot

John Logie Baird


Inventor of television, 'the idiot's lantern'

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Girls With Guns

Stop The Law That Could Close Hospitals!

Please please please sign this petition HERE to force Cameron and Clegg to consider dropping the hospital closure clause from the care bill.

If this goes through it could affect your local hospital!

No government should have the power to close a hospital without listening to local people. It's important that these decisions are not made without listening to local people.

Hospitals are there when we need them. This government seems dangerously close to taking many away from us.

Out On Blue Six : Aerosmith

Continuing the Liv-love in, here's another blast from the past, starring in her daddy's music video alongside Alicia Silverstone. God the times I watched this video on MTV or The Box when it was first released. Great tune

End Transmission

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Who Needs Boris Bikes?

This girl showed London where it was at cycle wise long before the Honey Monster Mayor!

Spotted on the retrogirly site

Out On Blue Six : Kate Bush

Star studded video for The Blessed Kate's Experiment IV; look out for Richard Vernon, Peter Vaughan, Dawn French and Hugh Laurie...

End Transmission

Empire Records (1995)

"This music is the glue of the world, Mark. It's what holds it all together. Without this, life would be meaningless."

Whoa, that was a blast from the past.

Been many years since I last watched this prime slice of 90s hipster nonsense. And I still have THE biggest crush on Liv Tyler, wearing the sexiest outfit on film ever. 

And I still hate Lucas and, to a certain extent, Mark.

Watching it back, the stereotypes haven't aged very well and they're really creaky, but then you know what? I think they were creaky in 1995. Let's face it for all its hip swagger, scratch the veneer of Empire Records and you're essentially looking at one of those cringe making 'hey, let's do the show right here daddy-o' films of the 1950s. On close examination, there's little difference between this and Cliff Richards' The Young Ones, say. But that's fine, because every generation needs a generational pop culture film and for the 1990s it was films like this. The DNA is largely untouched and this now joins the rose tinted 'days of my youth' films like John Hughes movies of the 1980s.

When Empire Records is at its best it's a knowing, feelgood series of sketches that can't help but raise a smile, all played out to a genuinely eclectic soundtrack. What its less good at is being anything other than superficial; scenes that attempt to go a little deeper into the characters lives and try to introduce some emotional trauma (aborted suicide attempts, speed addiction etc) are so weak they largely fall flat on their face and become a little insultingly pat. It would have been far better to have not approached such themes really. It didn't need to be deep, hell it's not even deep about the music!

All that makes it sound like I dislike the film, I really don't, because Empire Records is a really fun movie. If you're not tapping a toe and smiling by the time The The's This Is The Day plays out to signify the end credits then there's probably no hope for you.

It's also the film that gives that prime piece of British forestry Maxwell Caulfield (an actor so wooden it's a wonder he wasn't cast in The Plank) his one good role - that of the faded pop sex symbol for the teenyboppers,  Rex Manning. Altogether now 'Say No More, Mon Amour....'

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some serious daydreaming over Liv Tyler to do *sighs*

Monday, 24 February 2014

RIP Harold Ramis

Another sad loss, actor/writer/director Harold Ramis has passed away aged 69. RIP

Sex with Jordan

No, the other Jordan - the real Jordan aka Punk Goddess Pamela Rooke and Sex; Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's Kings Rd boutique 

Northanger Abbey (Bad) & Persuasion (Good)

I've recently been catching up on some of the more recent TV adaptations of Jane Austen's classic novels. In 2007 ITV produced three new adaptations as part of their Jane Austen Season; Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I've reviewed all bar the first one - because I can't bring myself to watch Billie Piper try and play Austen's heroine Fanny Price!

The season was on the whole largely underwhelming as I didn't like Northanger Abbey either, but it's worth it all in the end with a wonderful adaptation of Persuasion, which I highly recommend.

I'm not a big fan of Northanger Abbey, one of Austen's lesser works; a parody on the Gothic novel and a moral tale warning those who enjoy such fiction and have vivid imaginations to not go looking for mystery where none is to be found, it's just too frivolous and pat even by her wonderfully escapist standards. As such I therefore cannot be too enamoured by adaptations of the novel either, and that sadly includes this 2007 effort from ITV and the pen of Andrew Davies, who had previously adapted Pride and Prejudice and Emma.

The plus points to this adaptation are the impeccable turns from the gorgeous Felicity Jones (marry me already) as our heroine Catherine and, as the self serving Isabella, the then star in the making Carey Mulligan, whose corset alone was worthy of a best supporting actress award so eye popping is her cleavage in several scenes. There is also a fine comedic turn from Sylvestra Le Touzel - who had previously played Austen's heroine Fanny Price in the superior 1983 BBC adaptation of Mansfield Park (let us not mention ITV's 2007 version with a miscast Billie Piper!) - cast here as Mrs Allen, Catherine's aunt who takes her to Bath.

The downside is JJ Field, an actor whom I normally admire, but feel is somewhat miscast here as Henry Tilney and, as his father, the normally equally fine Liam Cunnigham who is saddled with a ridiculous wig. Neither am I keen on the inclusion of Catherine's fantasies into the bodice ripping Gothic realm. I know Davies often comes in for some unfair flak because of his attempts at 'sexing up' the classics he adapts but, whilst I think the allusions to sex and adventure seen here through her daydreams are perhaps more appropriate than some may consider, I can't help but feel the overall effect smacks of 'Carry On Northanger Abbey'

Overall, a middling effort.

Yes it's not as faithful as some adaptations (specifically the very good 1995 BBC version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds) but even when it deviates I feel it's heart remains in the right place. This is an utterly beautiful and superbly played adaptation and as such is a joy to watch.

I must admit I had reservations as I intensely dislike Ruper Penry-Ponce, sorry I mean Penry-Jones. I know, I'm not a girl, so obviously I don't get the appeal, but I've only ever liked him in two things; Cambridge Spies (in which his Donald Maclean was the weakest of the quartet) and Silk (a drama whose third series starts on BBC1 tonight and in which RPJ plays a posh prat, which makes him perfect for the role, and constantly in the shade of the divine Maxine Peake) I must admit however his Wentworth is perfectly acceptable and I would hazard a guess is sufficiently smouldering enough to get the female viewers weak at the knees.

Far better is the wonderful Sally Hawkins. I've yet to see her give a poor performance and her central one here as Anne Elliot is no exception. She is, to me, Anne to a tee and I really bought her sense of solitude and regret depicted almost candidly with those confessional looks direct to camera and in turn, us the audience. 

The supporting cast are quite a treasure with comedian Julia Davis being given a run for her money by the comic playing of more 'straight' actors such as Anthony Head, Sam Hazeldine and Amanda Hale. There is also Joseph Mawle, Alice Krige and  Tobias Menzies, as well as Peter Wight and Marion Bailey (who alongside Hawkins makes for three Mike Leigh alumni in the cast) though it's a bit of a shame that, via abridging and focus on key aspects of the story, some characterisation gets lost.  

Beautifully directed by Adrian Shergold and photographed by David Odd, this is a sumptuous and satisfying Austen tale which I would happily place alongside the 1995 version and is thankfully far superior to the previous ITV adaptations in this season, namely Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey.

Overall, a fab effort.

(Images found on Fanpop, with thanks)


Today, I bring you the gift of bum gifs!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Out On Blue Six : Patsy Cline

End Transmission

Theme Time : Massive Attack - House, MD

House MD (or just plain House as it was known here in the UK) was a US medical drama series that ran from 2004 to 2012 and gave British comic Hugh Laurie a turn in his career that no one - certainly not on these shores - ever expected. 

The series theme tune is a bit of a strange one, in that it all depends on which country you watch it!

In America the theme is Massive Attack's 1998 hit Teardrop. But in Europe and in Singapore the theme is a vague approximation of that song and a distinctive soundtrack in its own right.

To prove it, here are the opening credits from each territory

And here are the full length versions of each theme; US, Europe and Singapore (though, oddly in the UK I think we eventually saw the programme with all three themes as the show was subsequently bought and broadcast by various different channels, starting with Hallmark, then Channel 5, then Sky and then various cable channels!)

Smoking Hot

Anna Nicole Smith,

When she was gorgeous and glam and not 'car crash' viewing...

Y'see what I mean?

Out On Blue Six : Beverley Craven

End Transmission