Midnight in Paris….sigh..

Do you have a favourite decade? Ever thought that you should have been born in another time and era?

Big Band Theory 

I always thought the 40’s in America would have been fun. Frank Sinatra, the Big Band Sound, Duke Ellington, Casablanca, those great clothes. Clubs, immortalized on the silver screen, as always having somewhere to sit, always terrific music, backing a great female singer in a glamorous dress that looked like Rita Hayworth, AND… they didn’t have to shout over the speakers to make themselves heard. Now that’s a club. So much more civilized.

Americans In Paris

Right off the bat, I saw the hotel I stayed in during the opening sequence!  First sigh.. and good start to the movie. Many sighs later (and a little drooling I fear), the  main characters are established and reasons explained why they are in Paris. Rachel McAdams dizzily breezes in and out playing Inez, who seems happier doing anything but relax and enjoy the view magnifique. Owen Wilson as Gil, is smitten with Paris,  particularly the 20’s era.  As a struggling writer, he senses the opportunity for inspiration. She, on the other hand, has no time for the supposed romanticism of the city. McAdams  brings a sharp, clipped performance as she takes on the testy fiancé. Owen, bless him,  plays like a younger version of the director as he dithers and fumbles over his words, but brings his doe eyed wonder to the fore and I loved it. As Inez swans off dancing with friends one night after dinner, Gil wanders the streets of Paris alone, and as midnight approaches,  begins to see Paris in a whole new light.

If you’re like Gil, you will love this fun little romantic movie, and appreciate the great little take-away at the end. If your’e  like Inez, the movie,  and maybe even Paris, will be lost on you.

Watch for Michael Sheen and Adrien Brody particularly. Loved ’em.


Picky About Paul

Well, I’m doing it again. I’m commenting on a movie I have not seen and have decided I am not going to.

Hello Jason Isaacs

I love to catch up on podcasts when I go walking  in the mornings. None more so, than the good doctor himself,  Mark Kermode, movie critique extraordinaire. I agree with  his reviews most of the time, I mean, his favourite movie  Local Hero, is one of mine too.  Together with radio veteran extraordinaire, Simon Mayo, they make a fun pair to listen to. I would encourage you to check out their Wittertainment. You will find the link on this site. Go, listen. Find out why people from all over the world are tuning in and why they say hello to Jason Isaacs every week!

An Alien Called….Paul ?

Right, plug for the show over. I was catching up with the witterers podcast the other day and their guests were Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the brains behind off beat cult comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. They are now the brains behind a new movie called Paul.  Paul is the duo’s foray into mainstream cinema. Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) are a couple of British nerds who, after attending Comic-Con in California, decide to head into the land of  extraterrestrial legend. They come across… an extraterrestrial ..named Paul. I have no idea why or how Paul talks perfect stoner english… maybe he saw Pineapple Express. I do, however,  know why Pegg and Frost decided on the name Paul.

It appears their particular brand of humor has remained intact, but going mainstream has its drawbacks. While crude, lewd and foul language  have remained, Pegg and Frost decided to chuck out a thread in the movie that Universal thought would not have  “settled” well with the American audience. Agreeing the thread wasn’t really “pushing the story along” anyway, Pegg and Frost decided to abandon it. The thread? Creation v evolution.

The Picky Part

Ground work done, back to the podcast.  You can hear the full interview here.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/kermode#playepisode7  

This is a Cliff Note version of what they said in the interview.

(Pegg)  The theological element, between creation and evolution was better developed in the original script, or rather we dwelt on it a little longer. There were long moments of just talking, we liked the idea of an alien waxing philosophically about religion with a creationist girl and, em, it was slightly more edgy….. She changes her mind (about her religion) when confronted with the alien. What we were interested in, was that someones very rigid belief could be shattered in a single moment.  Any film that has aliens in it negates that extreme Christian faith in which God created in a certain amount of days… We just kind of talk about it a little now (in the movie).  We just loved the idea of a girl being born again and that the idea of Paul’s existence validates Graemes and  Clives  belief system and negates Ruth’s which is in this very rigid, Chr.. intelligent design thing.

(Frost) It’s a film about an alien, if your faith is going to be rocked by it, well then..

(Kermode)..but  peoples ability to get cross about anything is irrational isn’t it. Particularly in that area….

(Frost) It’s not like you can sit down with ’em and say hey you know it’s only a film…. don’t get angry.. I was thinking about doing a special edition where Christ lands in a big cross shaped space ship, maybe that would appease both sides. 

(Mayo) A question about the title…. (Pegg)  Paul. We tried to make it,  wanted to make it simplistic and enigmatic and also, there is a biblical element in there, it is multilayered, multifaceted. 

Martyr or Alien?

There’s an insidious and dangerous  trend on the move in the underbelly of British culture.  As people are becoming increasingly the brunt of  attacks because of their Christian faith, this is coming out in various forms. A nurse is  fired for praying with a dying man. A teacher is reprimanded for wearing a cross.  A loving couple with a solid reputation for caring for foster children, are now denied, because of their Christian beliefs. Through subtle (and not so subtle ) mockery, whether that be in music, tv shows (Glee anyone?) and film. Paul, is one of those movies that has been used to mock. Oh, and the name of the movie and character?  The “biblical element” though it is never mentioned,  is the Apostle Paul. Funny hey?

Now it might sound like sour grapes over a silly movie, but as more Christians are dying for what they believe in in countries around the world and pressure mounts in the West through mockery and taunting, there is a “cool factor”  in making these kind of attacks acceptable.

So, that’s why I am picky about Paul.  I do have a very real problem with the movie.  My faith will not be rocked. I am not irrational. I am disturbed by the trend. They are free to make their movies. I don’t  believe in pickets or boycotts.  What power I do have as an individual though, is at the box office.  At least we still have the freedom to choose that which we will give our time and money too, and thank God, so do you.

The Adjustment Bureau

Can you imagine being told to never pursue a person you are in love with?  The Bureau, on orders from the “Chairman” have plans for your life and some things cannot and should not get in the way.

I took a chance seeing a movie in the afternoon. This always makes me a little nervous because you never know quite what your viewing experience is going to be like.  My usual experiences are not very good. The last time I did that, the old darling next to me could not hear his phone ringing. I had to tell him.  How he heard the movie I don’t know.  There was the time I went to see  “Death at A Funeral”. (British version) Oh dear. The old girl at the back of the theater had a breathing machine thingy. It sounded like Darth Vader was behind me.  Bless them.

I decided on a whim, while my cinnamon roll dough was rising… to go and see The Adjustment Bureau. Mmmm, well, it was ok. The trailers and movie poster do emphasise Matt Damon running… I guess to keep you thinking of him as Bourne. You have to wait for that bit, but what comes before will keep you entertained and guessing.  The movie is basically a love story of a couple that is being kept apart  by the “bureau”, even though fate keeps lending a hand in getting them together. Matt Damon is his usual solid self and I never tire of watching him. Nice love story with a little science fiction. Sort of like “Inception” without the brain ache 🙂

How strong is love? Is it worth giving up your hopes and dreams for? What role does fate or choice have in our lives?  Is there something to the coincidences of life?  These are the questions I left the cinema with. On the whole, a great date night movie, a lot of fun and I am glad I went to see it. 

Check it out.

Finished the cinnamon rolls by the way.

Friday Night Flick Pick

the social network

Now I am not a techie person, so the last thing I wanted to do was to sit in a theater and try to figure out what was going on in a movie about computers and programming.  BUT, as a user of Facebook, and a darn good one, I felt it somewhat qualified me to at least check it out and see.

If you’re worried about being the slightest bit confused by it, I vouch you will understand it… not the techie bits.. but you will understand it. Pop out to your local Blockbuster, or wherever you get your movies from (Redbox is only a $1 🙂 ) and get a hold of  The Social Network. The celebrated movie is up for a several Oscars, so now is the time to see it. A remarkable turn by Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, and a riveting story about the founding of Facebook.

Actually… I’m going to change that. It IS about the founding of Facebook, but I think the riveting part was more about the friendships… and I use that term loosely.

The title of the movie is as equally proper for Facebook as it is for Zuckerberg’s ‘network” of relationship’s and his obvious social limitations. Starting with the girl who got away, with friend and partner Eduardo Savarin, the Winklevoss brothers, whom have an idea that they can’t execute and hire Zuckerberg to deliver, and Sean Parker the founder of Napster. As we follow our arrogant genius, one doesn’t know whether to slap him or hug him, call him a jerk or call him aside with a gentle arm around his shoulder for a schooling in social manners. One thing is for sure, he didn’t make it easy for himself and became prime fodder for a big screen version of what may, or may not… have happened.

I heard Aaron Sorkin, executive producer and writer of the screenplay, recently insist that the movie is most certainly not fiction. In Zuckerberg’s defense (at least, that’s what I thought it was), he acknowledged that most 19 year old’s would not like their life up on a big screen for all to see, and I nodded. Actually I shuddered. I mean really, would you?

As the founder of a site that connects people electronically, I hope there are people in Zuckeberg’s life who will help him connect personally.  See it.

The Kid’s Are All Right .. but what about the movie?

Well, here is a movie I HAVEN”T seen.  What about that then? A movie blog, with a post about a movie that has not even been seen by the blogger, that quite frankly does not fancy seeing it. Is this a first?

If  you’ve seen it, you might want to let me in on the secret. Just why and what  is it about  this movie that is garnering all the award buzz? I have a couple of  ideas on that, both cynical I’m afraid, but are they true none the less?

It looks like a decent enough film. Great actors doing their usual best. Interesting story and characters. Lightly comedic touches entwined with the drama of life issues. Decisions that are made for better or worse.  Oh wait, that’s  Up In the Air. Remember that one from last year?  It looked like a decent enough film. Great actors doing their best, blah blah. Yes, I couldn’t quite figure out why that one garnered so much attention either. Best actor? Best supporting actress? really?

I have seen better on any given night on the BBC and/or Channel Four.

Maybe it is just down to a short fall of  the great, and having to settle for the good being nominated for Best in its respective category? Maybe it’s because of the subject matter? Maybe it’s a reward for being edgy, pushing the envelope, or because they took ALL their clothes off? 

So, there you have it. Not seen the film. Not going to see the film. Did you? Can you tell me why the film is all right?

Made In Dagenham

…0r Made In England, as the lady in front of me said as she was trying to buy her ticket. My 15 year old American son asked me, “Did you like Made in Day-gen-ham”?

You say tomato and I say tomahto…

If you’re struggling with the pronunciation as well, it goes like this: “Dag-‘n-‘m”. Well, that’s what I would say but I’m from the north of England. Maybe those from the south would say Daag-en-um. Anyway, struggling or not, wherever your from, pluck up the courage and buy your ticket because you really must see this film. You may have to drive to a independent cinema because shamefully, the multi’s might not show it, but I can promise you that your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.  And besides, this will give you plenty of time to practice your pronunciation  in the car.

Brits At Their Best

Wonderfully bright-eyed Sally Hawkins, always solid Bob Hoskins and a plethora of other great British actors bring to life a true tale from 60’s England.  It is tagged as historical, drama, comedy.  Although there was nothing funny about the subject matter, the comedy comes from the wonderful working class characters. Don’t be put off if you are getting fed up of the old British charming wit thing. It is as much a part of the fabric of the culture as the London Underground is.

Miranda Richardson, another national treasure, does a grand turn as the legendary Barbara Castle. Mrs Castle was a force to be reckoned with and was never far from controversy. A woman with a clear sense of purpose who didn’t mince her words and broke the glass ceiling to become Secretary of State for Employment in 1968. Richardson does her proud. Rosamund Pike, as a educated wife of a Ford executive,  makes a great impact of her brief but supportive role  which reminds us the norms of the day was no respector of social standing or education.

Once in Trafford Park, Stretford (near Manchester), the Ford auto plant moved to Dagenham, a large town of east London.  In 1968 a workforce of  just over  150 women make the decision to strike because their pay grade is classified as unskilled yet their male counterparts got 15% more pay for “skilled” work.

Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins) is shepherded into representing the women, culminating in her unlikely leadership of the strike. A little unsure of herself and her ability, she is definitely sure about the pay imbalance which gives her the confidence to keep going. At first, the union doesn’t take these group of women seriously, until Rita finds a voice for all the women and shakes the pillars of not only the male dominated union, but the male dominated Ford executives.

It’s More Than You Think

Some people have shrugged off this movie because of it’s feminist and socialist overtones. The reality is, this film is more about being treated as a human being, rather than a rally call for feminism. It’s more about being accepted as equal, rather than plugging the socialist agenda. Not even the all-male union leadership thought the cause was worthy. The film captures these truths wonderfully.


This is a fun, entertaining, thoughtful and moving film. You’ll be glad you saw it… even if you can’t say DAG-‘N-‘M.

The King’s Speech

I am seriously hoping that after the Christmas rush to luke warm movie offerings is over,  the superb The King’s Speech will be the one that gains momentum, buzz and  box office bucks.

I remember when I was little, my gran telling me about the abdication of  Edward (David, as he was called). How stunning a decision and fall from grace that was. She told of how Bertie was not groomed to be King and how his wife Elizabeth never forgave Edward or Mrs Simpson.

What was never talked about too much, was Bertie’s stammer. Probably too painful to listen to and dreaded every time he spoke in public. 

The King’s Speech has given a back seat to the sensational story of the man who should have been king, and has given us a glimpse of  the man who did.

 Grounded with as much information from writings, letters etc as possible, it tells the story of  Bertie and his struggle with stammering compounded especially in the advent of the new fangled “radio” and  the relationship that he bonds with his speech therapist Lionel Logue. An Australian with unconventional methods,  Lionel begins to break down more than the barrier of speech and Bertie begins to find a voice. 

Great performances by Colin Firth, Helena Bonham-Carter and Geoffrey Rush.  Together with the writing and direction, a sensitive, bold, brave and compelling tale is told that would match Bertie’s character.

Oh yes, another comment my grandma made later in her life; the right man did become King. During WWII and throughout his short life he, and Elizabeth, will never be forgotten for the selflessness and support they gave to the British. A great man indeed.

A footnote:

  1. Watch out for Colin Firth’s leading lady from Pride and Prejudice in a supporting role.
  2. A reminder that this movie is rated “R”. This is because of one scene where the air turns blue! Don’t let it put you off.
  3. The original King’s speech to the nation at the start of the war can be heard in the recording below. A bit grainy, but if you listen after you have seen the movie, it brings Bertie’s ability to overcome his struggle to life.