Archive for the ‘Film/TV reviews’ Category

On ‘Mr Turner’

November 8, 2014

I am a big fan of Turner’s work. Every time I am in the National Gallery I rush to see his paintings because of the profound impact they have on me. His colours, his storms make me feel like no other, I would say that he is an equal to Ivazovskiy (a huge compliment for a Russian). I wanted to see this movie because I wanted to find out more about the artist, how and why he painted, what drove him, what inspired him. I hoped to see his work again and understand it better. I fear that this movie did not offer me such a privilege.

I do have to say good things about it first. It is visually stunning. A movie about masterpieces has to be a masterpiece itself and Mike Leigh absolutely delivered on that. Some scenes feel like stepping in Turner’s paintings and my God, it is beautiful.

Secondly, acting. Timothy Spall’s acting was superb. The ability to express a vast range of emotions with just growling is very impressive. However, I assume this is not the first review you read, so you already know all that.

My impressions of the movie are rather conflicted. I did not want to see how Turner was living a life of luxury with aristocracy, being admired and celebrated. I did not want to know that he was a part of the establishment to such a great degree. While I do not imagine my favourite artists to be lovely people, seeing him portrayed like, frankly, a bastard was upsetting. Yes, there was drama, the death of his adoring father, obviously failed marriage, him disowning his children but somehow it was not at all obvious how any of it influenced his work. He came across like a commercial artist, with little regard for other people, not a person who lives to paint, has to express some point of view or has an extraordinary life. He watches fellow artists being treated appallingly because they don’t conform with the mainstream and just stands there, it does not appear to upset him. It is a story of his life; his art is just a beautiful background. The movie touched on some potentially interesting parts of his life that could aid the understanding of his work but did not really explore them. It is a good quality relationship drama and if I judged it purely on this basis I would write a better review.

I do not, however, want to put anyone off from seeing this movie. It is beautiful, interesting and thought-provoking. The only reason why I am not jumping with excitement and giving it 5 stars is my personal pre-conceived idea of a man that was somewhat shattered. Perhaps that what makes the movie wonderful, in a painful way. They say, you should never meet your heroes but I say that one should always watch movies about your heroes, however confusing the outcome might be. I will give it 4 stars and recommend as an interesting movie to get on DVD.

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On the digitally remastered ‘Gone with the wind’

December 14, 2013

Recently I went to see ‘Gone with the wind’ in my local art cinema. I’ve seen this movie many times before but watching on a big screen was a real treat.

It is amazing to think that the movie first came out in 1939 is still as relevant and appealing now.
It is not only the one of the most incredible love stories of all times, it shows social history that we perhaps don’t know so well. Last year I saw Lincoln, showing the movement to end slavery from the Northern perspective. This is based in the same time but from the perspective of the South.

Ultimately, though, it’s a story of a woman. A woman, who despite being spoiled and naive in her youth, found strength and courage to overcome all life’s challenges. More strength and courage than most men around her had. She hasn’t achieved things conventional way, she ruined her reputation, she hasn’t made any friends. What was expected of females then was to sit quietly and sigh. She organised her land, made friends with ‘the Yankees’, started her own business and made sure that none of her family starved. She said:
‘As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me! I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again! No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill! As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!’

And she wasn’t. While others sat quietly complaining and worrying about their reputation and purity of their soul, she went out and saved them all. She despised people who were weak and self-pitying. Scarlett always inspired me and shaped my beliefs and in times of hardship, thinking of her gave me strength and perseverance to succeed.

Vivien Leigh has done the most stunning job playing Scarlett, no one could have done it better. Famously filming started without her as the director, Victor Flemming, wouldn’t cast any of hundreds of actresses that auditioned despite the time pressing on. So the scenes of Atlanta burning were already done and only then Vivien appeared, she became an iconic, most loved character. I think it was worth the wait!

Clark Gable, playing Rhett Butler, is basically my first love. He is fantastic, witty and unlike most can pull off the moustache.

Overall, for those who haven’t seen it I would strongly recommend it – it is one of those movies that can change your life. For those who have seen it, see it again in the digitally remastered version – it ever so slightly enhances the visual experience.

Be warned, though, it lasts for over 4 hours. It even has an intermission. There really aren’t enough movies with intermissions anymore!

The very last words of the movie bring hope to me every time I hear them: ‘After all, tomorrow is another day!’ Use it to watch Gone with the Wind, you won’t regret it.

On the Hobbit: The desolation of Smaug.

December 13, 2013

The very first point absolutely must be about Smaug. This dragon was made to be mighty, scary, glorious, amazing: all at once and more. Mr Cumberbatch gives him a voice that makes one shiver, the entire team who worked on the dragon deserve all the Oscars and medals the film industry has to give.

Having said that, I admit, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the whole movie.

I love the book (who doesn’t!?) because of its adventurous spirit, good pace and interesting characters. I believe that the second movie was made to be an action movie, not an adventure, like the first one and I don’t understand why. I read some reviewers liked it for that very reason! Obviously tastes are different, etc, but I did not like the addition of unnecessary violence – it is a children’s book, which is good and at times scary enough without extra orc on elf knife action.

Gandalf said that all good stores deserve embellishment. I very much agree. That’s why I didn’t mind Peter Jackson making 3 movies, not 2. It is the last chance to tell the story, so I don’t mind them using bits from appendices and adding extra characters. But why did we need a love story in there? Are we as audience so stupid that we can’t watch 3 movies without some romance? I think not.

Despite some unnecessary violence and romance and less adventurous feel, the movie was still beautifully made. Martin Freeman, as Bilbo, is fantastic yet again. They really could not have casted a better Bilbo – he is superb on every level. The iconic scene with the barrels was perfect, the one with spiders terrifying and of course I am going to see it again. Perhaps not as many times as the one last year but I will go to the cinema again next week and enjoy it. And so should you. Don’t even wait till next week, it’s mostly very good, honest!

Happy Birthday Doctor Who!

November 23, 2013

We should be the ones giving presents and yet Doctor Who just doesn’t stop showering us in awesomeness. Is there a better way to thank the fans for their loyalty than showing the best episode ever? Don’t worry, though I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet.

I love Doctor Who. I love it. I love it because of its philosophy of peace, friendship, hope and goodness in all creatures (even Daleks in some episodes get emotions.) Those principles pretty much form that scary liberal agenda of mine. Doctor Who teaches us that you can get out of problems using your brain, not your muscles or weapons. Travelling through time and space he has never met anyone who was not special, he is easily excited despite having seen a lot of bad things in the universe, he gives us the desire to also be clever, adventurous and good.

With all of that, he is not a flawless hero, we can relate to him, who hasn’t felt the loneliest in the universe, and we can cry with him, who hasn’t had the broken heart? Just because it’s on television and has monsters in it, doesn’t mean that it’s not more profound than many operas. In fact, being able to express its underlying message of education and peace via such a popular medium is its genius. Media keep asking: why, why is Doctor Who so famous still? My answer is that despite originally being a show for children, Doctor Who doesn’t belittle its viewers, asks grand important questions and respects loyal fans.

Yesterday I was at the official 50th anniversary celebrations at the Excel, London, where I dressed up like the TARDIS (see picture) and hung out with fellow Whovians. Some of them came from as far as Australia and America; it was delightful to meet so many people all sharing one passion. Apart from awful, awful organisation of the event (argh, I am not even going to start so as not to spoil the mood), most of the content was fantastic. I was particularly happy to see Stephen Moffat as I am a huge fan of his writing and he is just as witty and funny live. The unexpected bonuses were that Bernard Cribbins sang us 2 of his songs and Matt Smith wore the same jumper I have.

The celebrations will continue all weekend. Happy 50th, Doctor Who, many happy returns!

Happy Birthday Doctor Who!

On the first episode of the Tennant’s ‘Escape Artist’

October 29, 2013

‘The Escape Artist’ is a new legal drama but surprisingly it is more horror than soap-like. Good, psychological kind of horror. We see some blood but the frightening bit is in anticipation, you just know something awful is going to happen when Ashley Jensen puts her head down in a bath. Events unfold in such a quick intense pace in the second half of the episode, you really don’t want to blink. Some good old horror tricks were used, for example where you see Tennant petrified by the photograph we can’t see (so what we imagine is inevitably worse), scary psycho-murder’s face in the window, references to necrophilia, torture, mutilation..

I have to say that I get frightened quite easily so I try not to watch anything scary, therefore my threshold for ‘horror’ may be different from normal people!

David Tennant, who plays a very successful barrister Will Burton, indubitably, makes it all worth it. His acting is, as always, fantastic. When he says ‘The world is broken’, while his kid is asleep, you instantly get incredibly attached to the character.

However I don’t approach this drama simply as a fan girl. One would hope that after the insane amount of money I spent on my law degree, I can at least appreciate the legal nature of this drama a little more than lay people. The writers made this quite pleasant for my lawyery ears – apart from only a couple of exceptions, it is very well-researched. The speeches are beautifully written and with Mr Tennant’s acting, anyone would deeply care for the principle of innocent until proven guilty. If you liked Silk, you are going to love this!

Overall, I would recommend watching this drama but be aware that it might make you jump and if you are a bit pathetic like me, you will need a couple of episodes of Rugrats before you can go to sleep.

*an update* Woke up at 6 am with Liam Foyle-induced nightmares. Now lights on everywhere! Locks and lights 4ever 😀

On the first episode of the Tennant’s ‘Escape Artist’

If you needed another proof that Doctor Who is great to its fans, here it is..

October 29, 2013

By few simple clicks, you can now put yourself in the Doctor Who opening titles!

You can then send them to all your friends to remind them to #savetheday
Not only is it enormous fun (if you are as obsessed as me, or familiar at all with the show), this is the perfect , most efficient example of marketing via a fanbase I’ve ever seen.

Click on this photo to view my invite, afterwards you will be able to create your own.

If you needed another proof that Doctor Who is great to its fans, here it is..