Viewed – 08 March 2014 pay-per-view
The type of movie that sells itself from the trailer alone. Seeing Sandra Bullock being flung around space as a space station shatters around her was both exhilarating and exciting … what was this? It felt fresh and new, a whole new cinematic ‘experience’ that finally warranted the dawn of 3D.
I can’t watch 3D, something to do with the fact I am only partially sited in one eye. Shame I know, but for the most part I’m not bothered. This however was the first movie I have seen where I really wish I could have seen it in all it’s multi-dimensional glory. Sandra Bullock is an astronaut working at a space station orbiting earth along with seasoned astronaut George Clooney. However when disaster strikes they are left stranded and floating in the ominous void of space with limited oxygen and limited hope, with no communication with back home. Will they survive?
I thought immediately this was a stunning looking movie, with the special effects, sound-design and camera work all state-of-the-art, transporting this viewer right there and believe me, that’s a unnerving place to be. Director Alfonso Cuarón (Children Of Men) cements his growing reputation as a visual auteur, delivering moments that truly challenge what is possible on film. How some of these shots were achieved baffles me, but that’s the magic of cinema. Bullock is very good in the central role, even if I’d have liked a bit more desperate emotion out of her (but still looks great in and erm, out of her suit), and Clooney is basically Clooney, charismatic but nothing we haven’t seen from him a dozen times. Also that moment Bullock starts barking to a radio transmission … bit odd that.
Yet this is a movie that is all about experience, about being there, about feeling disorientated and about hoping everything turns out ok. In which respect, it excels.
Verdict: 4 /5
Inspired once again from a post over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger, thought I’d post what female characters / actresses I’ve crushed on in television… Not quite as easy as my movies list (click!) I’ll admit, but interesting to compile none the less … in no particular order. Warning… slight spoilers may appear.
Rachel Green in Friends
A fan favourite but the ‘every guy’s ideal girlfriend’ appeal of Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Rachel’ in the hit sitcom is the basis of why Aniston continues to be one of the most likeable actresses around today. Her on/off love story with on-screen boyfriend ‘Ross’ was also one of the highlights of the show.
Daphne Millbrook in Heroes
Arrogant but spunky, an expert thief who has the ability to run like The Flash but hides the fact she was actually a paraplegic before her ‘powers’ kicked in … so a vulnerable side too. Played wonderfully by Brea Grant.
Maggie in The Walking Dead
Tough, very attractive and her often troubled love affair with on-screen husband ‘Glenn’ really makes this show increasingly watchable. Helps that Lauren Cohen’s a fine actress too, and can handle a machete like a ruthless killer.
Joan Holloway in Mad Men
When I first saw this red haired bombshell, I thought … wow, who is this actress? Yes her character may be a bitch, but as seasons continued, we did get to see a gentler side, and damn, that face, those lips…I could go on. Christina Hendricks is what they were talking about when they coined the phrase ‘…and God Created Woman’.
Kate Austin in Lost
Evangeline Lilly’s vulnerable, feisty and sexy performance as the duel love interest of both ‘Jack’ and ‘Sawyer’ really held this complex, often infuriating but non the less enjoyable show together. Great to also see Lilly now appearing in The Hobbit movies…makes for a wonderfully alluring elf.
Jane in Breaking Bad
Jessie’s ill-fated girlfriend, the manipulative and sexy Jane as played by the beautiful Kristen Ritter may only have a small appearance in the acclaimed show, but her legacy lingers on throughout. Also those dangerously seductive lips and eyes…ahem.
Sam in E.R.
Played by Linda Cardellini, this tough talking, single mother may have the ex husband from hell and a troubled son, yet her beauty and vulnerability make her one of this long-running shows best characters.
Buffy in Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Ok the fan boy in me was tempted to go for Willow, but really this is crushes and Sarah Michelle Geller’s tough, quirky and sexy Buffy summers is the reason this show was such a massive success.
Taylor Townsend in The O.C.
Played by the gorgeous Autumn Reeser, this character appeared air-headed bimbo but was actually very funny and adorable … helped she was stunning too! Must be all that Californian sun.
Dr Jennifer Melfi in The Sopranos
From the acclaimed mob drama, how could I forget the smouldering sexiness of Dr Melfi, as played by the lovely Lorraine Bracco? Made for a big part of the TV show, and the on/off sexual chemistry between her and the late James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano was almost unbearable … even if it never went ‘there’ between them…
Have you any favourite TV characters that got you all hot under the collar? Feel free to post a link if you have a list of your own.
So the Academy Awards has been and gone and did I take much interest? Not really. Awards ceremonies over the years have returned increasingly diminishing results, I mean isn’t it all just about what movie has the best PR?? Many movies, many very good movies have often not even got a nomination, let alone had a chance at winning – and the ones that do? Not always very deserving. Looking at the results below, I would say it’s been a fairly predictable year. 12 Years A Slave getting best picture? Considering the subject matter it was a simple choice, probably hitting home more than Captain Phillips. Cate Blanchet was very good in Blue Jasmine, even if it seemed a very academy-friendly performance. Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and The Wolf Of Wall Street never stood a chance – too much tits & coke. Oh and who didn’t see the technical and directing nods going to Gravity? That movie’s marketing campaign was all about the experience, the visuals etc.
Yet I mainly haven’t taken an interest in this year’s awards (or awards season) as simply put, I haven’t seen a great majority of the movies nominated, so difficult to really give an opinion. I hope to see Dallas Buyers Club at some stage, because of being a growing fan of Matthew McConaughey and Gravity is on my list for the near future (look out for a review sometime this weekend). So I will leave you with this year’s main winners, a few of the smaller categories omitted, because really, who concerns themselves with those?
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Best Animated Feature
Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)
Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
Best Foreign Language Film
The Great Beauty (Italy)
Viewed – 01 March 2014 online rental
There is something immediately comforting about siting down to a Woody Allen movie. As a long time fan of this celebrated, iconic director what was presented to me was very familiar … minimalist opening credits, a collection of characters discussing relationships, art, interior design with enthusiasm and intelligence … that gentle jazz background music. Classic Allen harking back to Manhattan. Then of course we get Cate Blanchet as a stuck up New York socialite brought crashing down to earth after her wealthy husband (Alec Baldwin) is found out to be a crook, and she has to slum it with her ghetto sister Ginger and Ginger’s Italian boyfriends…
Blanchet, one of the finest actors of her generation shines as the neurotic, troubled, egocentric forced to start again, but seemingly unable to accept that her life is very different now. A character study of a woman with seemingly everything handed to her on a plate, who reluctantly has to actually work to make something of herself. Good support comes from Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale as one of Ginger’s boyfriends, and Sally Hawkins as Ginger is suitably likable and the polar opposite to Blanchet. Allen’s direction can not be sniffed at either, with his camera work really casting a beautiful glow on Blanchet, arguably one of the most uniquely attractive actresses around. Swapping his usual New York setting for San Francisco gives the movie plenty of character, even if this isn’t as with other movie’s in the director’s back catalogue … a love letter to the city.
Perhaps Allen at his lightest, it lacks the genuine wit and charm of something like Annie Hall or even the more recent Midnight In Paris, but with a strong, complex central performance I still came away with a smile.
Verdict: 3 /5
I’ve waited until now to post about what has arguably become one of the most talked about and celebrated TV shows in history. Yes Vince Gilligan’s award winning Breaking Bad. Last night I finished watching the final season, and came away so shaken, impressed and wowed at the shows excellence that I really felt I had been witness to a major landmark in television entertainment.
I will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible as I think this is a show that really needs to be enjoyed to the max, without knowing what lies ahead, and is another reason I have waited this long to talk about it. Brian Cranston, previously best known as the dad in Malcolm In The Middle, plays a chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer. Fearing for his family’s financial future, including a disabled son and a pregnant wife, he plots a scheme to get involved in the crystal-meth cooking business with a helping hand from former student Jessie (Aaron Paul). For me I considered this a strange concept for a show and not one I could have foreseen being so popular – I mean really, the main character is a drug dealer (of sorts). Yet in the hands of Brain Cranston he makes a morally dubious and sometimes downright awful person likable … and you are there every step of the way as he faces up against rival drug barons, his own brother-in-law DEA agent (the wonderful Dean Norris) as well as his own family woes.
First and foremost despite an unusual premise, what holds this all together are a wealth of first class performances, especially from Cranston and Paul who excel in their roles and believe me go through the full gamut of emotions and obstacles throughout the series … these guys really earn their pay cheques. Cranston especially breaking out of his sitcom routes to become one of the most iconic and memorable characters, nicknamed Heisenberg and with a bald head and goatee that will truly go down in history. I really can’t praise this show enough. Gilligan’s direction (and the various other names who step in, including Cranston himself) all deliver a show full of style, quirks, often clever camera work, great music choices and plenty of tension – with a fair bit of comic-relief too. This is a black comedy at times, but also hard-hitting, violent and disturbing – in a good way that hits home and lingers in one’s mind. The kind of show you just have to talk about afterwards.
Another feather to its cap are some of the supporting characters, the lovable but deadly hit man Mike (everyone’s favourite eighties villain Jonathan Banks – Beverly Hills Cop anyone?) and most notably Giancalo Esposito’s Gustavo Fring – who really stamps his evil presence from the show’s 3rd season onwards.
My American readers may have already seen this show and moved on, some may wonder what all the fuss is about – as did I … but after reading many (often celebrity) recommendations, I got curious and thanks to Netflix have been able to enjoy this show in it’s entirety. It hasn’t been treated the best by British TV networks, being a complete no show on terrestrial television or even satellite service Sky – something that totally baffles me to this day … maybe that will change some time soon, even now the show is done … because it really deserves the widest audience possible.
TV programmes come along like this very rarely … so don’t let it slip you by.