Sunday, 30 January 2011

An Ode to Colin...

The King's Speech is a weird one,
It's funny and it's dry.
But why so many Oscar noms?
I can't quite work out why.

It's true, Colin Firth is jolly good,
In the role of the stammering heir,
And after A Single Man last year,
An Oscar's only fair.

The direction is quite subtle,
Clever, smooth and humble,
Perhaps it's not quite Fincher,
But still, you cannot grumble.

The supporting cast does it's job,
Like a good supporting thing.
A bra made out of Helena and Geoff,
To compliment the King.

On second thoughts... I must admit,
There's not much that doesn't appeal,
About this film about a King,
Who suffers with his spiel.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

127 Hours in 127 words

It's pretty grim.

Don't watch this film if you're squeamish or eating a chicken leg.

The anxiety that this film provokes in its audiences is made worse by the fact that you spend the first two thirds of it waiting for 'that bit'.

Danny Boyle's slick direction which treads a fine line of style over substance, ultimately suits the adrenalin packed, hallucinogenic and downright unbelievable true story of a man who basically rips off his own arm with a rusty multi-tool.

James Franco is excellent in the lead, transforming the character from a bit of a douche into someone you end up really rooting for.

If you decide to watch this film at the cinema, take a drink in with you. I guarantee you'll get thirsty.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

A post about nothing in particular and everything peculiar.

A lot of my time nowadays is sat thinking at the very desk I am writing to you from now. If thinking were a sport I'm pretty sure I'd qualify for the Commonwealth Games (I was going to say Olympics but let's not get ahead of ourselves.)

That is not to say that I think of myself as some great philosopher akin to the likes of Plato, Aristotle and Stephen Fry. No, my thought processes usually begin by me trying to think of a plausible script idea and end up with me thinking about what I should cook for tea or how many tabs I think I'll be able to open on my computer before it crashes.

One of the main questions I have begun to ponder lately is in relation to my silent writing partner, Max. Now Max is not your average person in the sense that he is in fact a dog. But sometimes it's helpful talking to a dog about some of your ideas especially as he is quite adept at constructive criticism.

One look from those big brown eyes and I can tell whether it's - as some old bloke with a quill and a dodgy haircut once wrote - 'to be or not to be'.

"Are you joking?"
And so recently, because I have begun to sense that there is more to Max than meets the eye, I have started testing him. Asking him every now and again to blink twice if he understands what I'm saying to him. He doesn't usually cooperate but then why would he?

For now, he has an excuse:

'Oh sorry I slept on your bed after getting all muddy on my walk, but hey I'm a dog. How was I supposed to know?'

He'll crack one day and when he does then maybe my 'co-writer' can finally start pulling his weight.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Keeping company with the likes of Emma Thompson, Billy Wilder and Callie Khouri since 2011.

Guess what--

I've got my first ever writing credit on IMDB for the short film Speechless that I co-wrote with Rick Maughan. HERE.

Pretty exciting, non?

Well I think it is.

Hopefully it'll be the first of many.

But probably not if I keep writing double spaced like this so it looks like I've written more.

Anyway, if you didn't already know (where have you been??) Speechless is a gentle but quirky comedy short about a guy who longs to be a stand-up comedian. Only one teensy, tiny problem... his speech impediment. That and his fear of talking on the phone, never mind speaking in front of an audience.

Some people have said it's a bit like The King's Speech (which it's not), only better (which it is).

Speechless is set to do the rounds on the festival circuit in the coming year.

Look out for it!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Tangled: A film review... Why? Because she's worth it.

Blessed and Burdened with the title of Disney’s 50th animation feature and the second most expensive film of all time (costing $260 million), Tangled is the "House of Mouse's" retelling of Grimm’s classic fairy tale, Rapunzel.

For American audiences Tangled is old news having been released prior to the Christmas period and competing well with Harry Potter and The Don’t Bother Watching if You’re a Fan of the Books. Nevertheless, British audiences will be able to ‘let their hair down’ (Ugh, I hate myself for that one) by the end of the month. January 29th to be precise...

The last in a long line of Disney princesses (well at least for now according to recent reports in the LA Times) Rapunzel is everything a Disney princess should be. And as indicated by the very first song ‘When will my life begin’ She’s an all American, singing, cleaning, baking, sewing machine. Well she’s not a sewing machine but you know what I mean. It is this opening, along with Mandy Moore’s sickly sweet middle American accent, the odd adding of ‘like’ to sentences where it’s really not necessary and the accompanying cheery chord strumming of the guitar that had me cringing in my cinema seat. Fortunately for me and the child side glancing daggers at me every time I ‘tutted’ at another lyric about doing the washing up, it didn’t last long. The song is used to sort of lull you into a false sense of security making it appear that everything is just dandy. Until, the pace finally slows out of the infuriating jig-a-jing rhythm and into the melancholy strums that indicate Rapunzel is far from fulfilled, painting, cooking and generally keeping the place looking presentable. I believe in the 'Bizz' this is known as her 'I want' song and so just as Ariel 'wanted' to be part of their world, all Rapunzel wants to do is nip out to the local offy every now and again for a packet of fags. Or something like that anyway.

There’s no getting away from the fact that rather than entertain herself by trying to discover the secret of alchemy or philosophizing over a good book (if it’s good enough for Belle... ) she resorts to filling her time baking a pie or fashioning a pair of ear muffs out of a couple of dead rodents (this is an exaggeration of course, but one I hope to see recreated in animated form someday). The film at this point completely plays into the Disney disposition of feminine representation which was the centre of some gentle ridiculing in Enchanted. And as it happens, early drafts of the screenplay originally set Tangled up as a sort of sequel to the hybrid animation and live action movie Enchanted, which stars Amy Adams as the Disney Princess lost in New York. This is perhaps why this early sequence in Tangled comes across as a little confused not knowing whether to pastiche or stick to tradition. From this point however, the film picks up with Rapunzel eventually setting out armed with a frying pan and a disregard for her own safety or that of her eventual prince Flynn Rider (voiced by Chuck’s Zachery Levi).

Swansong or not, Tangled acts as a pretty good homage to the look and feel of some of the older Disney ‘Princess’ films. You simply can’t imagine Rapunzel’s tower, for example, without thinking of the opening scenery in Beauty and the Beast. The love song ‘I see the light’ is visually and audibly reminiscent of the ‘A whole new world’ sequence in Aladdin as Rapunzel and Flynn sit watching the lantern’s float in the sky just as Jasmine and Aladdin watched fireworks from a rooftop during their romantic encounter. The success of Rapunzel is the trickery of the animation which fools the audience into associating it with such hand-drawn Disney Classics whilst presenting a staggeringly crisp and phenomenally detailed image thanks to CGI technology used throughout the film. The mix of old and new works in what I have to admit is the first 3D film, animated or otherwise which I have seen and did not wish I had instead watched in uncomplicated and comfortable 2D. I am firmly of the opinion that 3D is a gimmick, no matter how popular or ‘normal’ it becomes. It also does not excuse a bad story (I’m looking at you Clash of the Titans, Gulliver’s Travels and yes you too, Avatar). Yet here it provides a spectacle so grand that it cannot help but allow its viewers to buy into the spectacle, the characters and world that Tangled presents.

Speaking of characters, it is once again the job of the animal sidekicks to steal the show, offering up the majority of laughs. These are Pascal; Rapunzel’s over protective chameleon armed with a dry sense of humour conveyed merely through his silent actions and Maximus; the Palace Guards’ head horse whose characteristics are inexplicably akin to a dog.

It is clear that Tangled strives unmercifully to live up to a back catalogue of animation films which reached their peak in the 1990s with such unforgettable classics as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Coincidentally, these films are the subject of the highly recommended documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty. It is only after watching this documentary that you concede that Disney will perhaps never realise what it did in that decade. It becomes clear that, what was achieved then was consequential to a meeting of minds and talent and cannot be replicated. This does not take away from the fact that Tangled is another good solid Disney movie, a fun and extremely well made adventure film that kids and adults alike will enjoy. The effort and execution by the filmmakers of Tangled to create a piece that sits well inside the ‘Disney Vault’ is truly commendable, as is the admission from the studios that perhaps it is time for something new.