Tag Archives: film

Top 10 Musicals

21 Jun

The marmite of films, people either love or hate musicals. I belong in the former of the two groups, as there’s nothing more enjoyable than a big camp sing-along. And what better musicals to sing along to than these:

Rocky-Horror-Picture-Show-Lips

image from here

Rocky Horror Picture Show. With some truly fantastic songs, bad continuity and Tim Curry in heels, Rocky is a whole lot of shenanigan fuelled fun! It’s especially good in a double feature with…

Shock Treatment! A little ahead of it’s time in regards to reality TV and not as universally adored as Rocky [maybe it’s the lack of visible underwear] but still thoroughly enjoyable.

Little Shop of Horrors. A blood eating plant in a flower shop – what could possibly go wrong?! Audrey II is the flower that just keeps on giving but at a price. Domestic abuse, secret crushes and deadly secrets are the order of the day – and who says musicals are frivolous?

Cabaret. A dark tale of sex, alcohol and the search for fame set against the Weimar Republic. Cabaret deals with heavy issues both of the time [the rise of the Nazi Party] and that are still relevant today [unwanted pregnancy]. Though the National Socialist Party takes a back seat, as time progresses we see it intervene more and more with the goings on at the Kit Kat Club and with our protagonists. We all know what happened next and are left wondering about our girl Sally.

Spring Awakening. A tragic coming of age story set in turn of the century Germany featuring suicide, masturbation, sex, child abuse and abortion. As bleak as it sounds, the musical version of the play is a treat with the anthemic Totally Fucked and relatable characters dealing with the same issues we all did as teenagers. Though it didn’t have a long enough run at the West End, there are talks of a film version.

Wicked. If you like underdog stories, you might want to pass on this one – there’s no happy ending here. An alternative story for the Wicked Witch of the West aka Elphaba, it tells her story from birth to death; the friends she makes, the lives she saved and the hypocrisy she faced. We learn why Elphie was the way she was and the sacrifice Galinda the Good made by changing her name to simply, Glinda.

The Producers. Armed with an absurd plan that would never work in the real world, 2 producers set out to make money with lots of in jokes, a Swedish secretary and a whole lot of singing. Fun fact: the 2005 remake of the film would have had a scene that reunited Timone, Pumba and Simba, only it was cut from the final edit.

Singin’ In The Rain.  A classic. Make ‘Em Laugh alone is a good enough reason to watch this. Interesting to note that Debbie Reynolds was dubbed for her songs. If that isn’t irony…

Rent. Set in New York, Rent is a re-telling of La Boheme for the MTV Generation. Over the course of a year we see the trials and tribulations of 8 people dealing with love, loss, AIDS, addiction and eviction.

Spamalot. Loving ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail; Spamalot is a tap dancing, coconut clapping, heavily armed Christian filled adventure with equally funny songs poking fun at the musical genre.

 

About the writer: Daisy is an irregular photographer, wannabe writer and full time female. In between tea and toast breaks she spends far too much time on the internet blogging, tumbling and tweeting. She is unapologetic in her love of the Spice Girls.

Niche films to check out!

12 Jun

While I prepare for my article for next issue, here are some fab not very well-known films that I think you should check out!

Repo! The Genetic Opera

With a superb headline cast, including Antony Steward Head, Alexa Vega, Sarah Brightman and cameo by Joan Jett, this film is not to be missed. As the trailer says it is a ‘cult classic’ and while the songs aren’t the best the first time around, they will grow on you and you’ll soon be belting them out with your ipod! However the film was made by the same producers of Saw so the gore won’t be swept under the carpet!

Annie 2

To be honest this is a terrible movie but should be watched just for the terribleness of it all. It’s entertaining because its hilariously bad but that’s what makes it all the fun! With none of the original cast, and a terrifying Daddy Warbucks, this is definitely a must-see for any other crazy nut!

Battle Royale

An adult version of The Hunger Games, in my opinion. In other’s opinions, a bad version of the Hunger Games. With a lot of gore, it does seem very realistic with the storyline, a lot more so than The Hunger Games. Subtitles may put you off, as I have been told, ‘I’m there to watch a film, not read it’. But I think everyone should definitely check it out, to see similar things that are going on in the world rather than burying heads in the sand. We should all witness and stop what is happening in our world.

Imaginareum

Not only because it is made by one of my favourite bands, Nightwish, this film is actually really intelligent. I did have to be accompanied downstairs by my other half because I was terrified of the snowman but apart from that it was incredible to hear some of my favourite songs really fit with the dramatic situations on screen. Great acting along with an incredible storyline, not to be missed!

About the Writer: Becky has just finished a degree in English and Creative Writing and is very happy with her 2:1. She is friendly, bubbly and just so happens to be the co-creator of Yellow Bunting. She hopes you enjoy it and that you get involved!

4 (Sort of) Biopics you should watch

10 Jun

The Notorious Bettie Page

Directed by the Mary Harron who also directed American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page uses the hearing at which Page was called to testify as a framing device. Switching between black and white and glorious Technicolor it follows the life of the Queen of Pin Up and Bondage from small town girl with a rough upbringing to the icon she is remembered as. The film mixes raunch with quieter moments of reflection showing Page as a multi faceted character with vulnerability and naivety rather than just a body to be gawped at.

Howl

An arty film with a mosaic like structure. Firstly we have a New York publisher on trial for publishing a collection of poems by Beat Generation icon Allen Ginsberg, then there is Ginsberg being interviewed and reflecting on his life and writing career and this supplemented by flash backs which is interspersed with gorgeous animation and James Franco as Ginsberg reading the eponymous poem. It is visually engaging with a dreamlike feel to it and doesn’t alienate those (like myself) who were unfamiliar with Ginsberg’s work before.

 

All That Jazz

Not strictly a biopic but the life of the main character mirror that of writer/director Bob Fosse to a tee. Fosse juggled editing a biopic about comedian Lenny Bruce with trying to stage the Broadway musical Chicago, hence the title. Similarly, Joe Gideon (played my Roy Schieder) uses a cocktail of drugs and sex to plough through his own fanatic attempts to stage a Broadway Musical and edit a Hollywood film. He isolates everyone around him as he flirts with death (literally. She keeps appearing in dream sequences) and experiences heart complications. It isn’t a musical itself though it does show the performers sings and dancing. However it does have one of the best final scenes of any film I have ever watched.

Adaptation

Again not strictly a biopic by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman makes himself a character in the film and gives himself a fictional twin brother. It follows him struggling to turn the book The Orchid Thief into a film and Kaufman penned the script while struggling to turn The Orchid Thief into a film… Add to that the fact that the real life author of the book is a character in the film (played by Meryl Streep) and some of the book is dramatized and you get a mind bending, oddball film that is worth watching for Nicholas Cage’s portrayal as the goofy Kaufman bothers alone.

About the Writer: Sarah is a filmmaker and writer with an obsession for luscious visuals and a distain for tomatoes (they are a sneaky and untrustworthy foodstuff). If she’s not blogging or tweeting, she’ll be watching films or running around with her video camera

Inspiration: The FlipSide

7 Apr

Armed with YouTube’s finest, SoulPancake have created a wonderful series of short films that screw with our brains and make us question pretty much everything. [But all in a good way.]

flipside

The FlipSide videos although short are thought provoking, heartfelt and brilliantly done. Simple everyday tasks are focused on for the impressive running time of 3-6 minutes and are an interesting approach to grappling life’s big questions.

If you have a spare 5/10 minutes, they couldn’t be better spent watching these films.

 

 

Why the Veronica Mars Kickstarter may just change the film industry and the universe, as we know it

5 Apr

That may be a slight exaggeration but hear me out.

I wanted to be Veronica Mars. I wanted to be the cool, sassy outcast who everyone secretly wants to be, who solves crimes that the incompetent police cannot, who wears improbably expensive clothes for someone from the poor side of town, who has a high number of guys chat her up and smoulder at her, who has witty remark for every occasion and a cool Phillip Marlowe-esque internal monologue describing her every action. I really loved that show.

Created by Rob Thomas, who originally envisioned it as a novel, Veronica Mars follows the titular heroine (Kristen Bell) in her hometown of Neptune, California. The story starts when her best friend Lily (a pre-fame Amanda Seyfried) is brutally murdered and her Sherriff father wrongly arrests Lily’s Dad as the culprit. He loses his job and Veronica is quickly dropped by her ultra rich friends and ex-boyfriend (who is also Lily’s brother) and becomes the subject of ridicule. While her father becomes a PI (and sometimes enlists Veronica to help) she begins an investigation of her own which spans the entire first series, with many of the plot points becoming important in the second series.

Reasons why I love Veronica Mars: the title character, the supporting characters, the ace opening theme, the way class is dealt with in the show, the neo-noir vibe and the way it deals with tough issues e.g. date rape, racism and multiculturalism, domestic abuse etc. I could go on and on in extreme detail but that would just bore you. Rent the DVD and find out for yourself. In the meantime get a taste with the (extremely spoilery) fan made video below:

The show was cancelled after its (disappointing, pretend I didn’t say that!) third series though a fourth was planned with Bell as the only remaining cast member and followed Veronica’s work i tried to protest to keep the show on air until Thomas informed them that there was no chance.

But wait…

Internet Fandom to the rescue! On 13th March 2013, Thomas created a Kickstarter for the long wished for Veronica Mars movie. Funnily Kickstarter has its origins in another cancelled show beloved by fans, Arrested Development. However it would be three years before the sight was up and running and AD is getting its own (non crowd funded) movie. The basic premise for Kickstarter is you use it to crowd fund an arts or tech project (video games make up most of the top ten projects), you pick an amount to raise and a time period and if enough people back you within the time limit you keep the money and deliver the project to your fan base. Prizes and incentive including DVDs, signed scripts, producer credits etc. are often offered as incentives to back a project. Song writer Amanda Palmer is a huge advocate of Kickstarter  (and social media in general as a tool to connect artists with their audiences) using the project to fund her independently produced album and proclaims the benefits of this radical way of making art.

With the Veronica Mars project Thomas had one month to make the $2million (pennies in TV land) to fund the movie.

They reached their goal in under 12 hours. A Kickstarter record. Warner Brothers agreed to back the project the next day.  At the time of writing the project has amassed over $3million and the counter is still going.

So why is this so important. TV is driven by money, which comes from advertisers who are interested in the viewing figures. The success of this project means that the ultimate power rests not with the network executives or even the advertising companies but with the viewer, and not just the casual viewers but particularly the fans.  They have become an active part of the process of creative TV rather than just a passive recipient of what the networks make. The logical conclusion to this is that the audience has the power to choose what shows get made in the first place.

This has lead some fans to speculate that other shows, namely Joss Whedon’s space western Firefly and Bryan Fuller’s Pushing Daisies might receive “The Kickstarter Treatment”. However, while Veronica Mars was relatively cheap (in TV terms) to make both Pushing Daisies and Firefly relied on intricate sets and lots of special effects to convincingly portray their narrative worlds.

Alongside this is the issue of who owns the rights. Rob Thomas was lucky enough to get Warner Brothers on board but how do we know the same can be said for Fox or other networks? Add to that the fact that at the end of the day show business is just that – a business and the fact is the powers that be felt that Veronica Mars’ (and other cancelled shows) viewing figures weren’t high enough for it to be a viable product so why pour more money into it?

As Alan Sepinwall writes in his article on Hit Flix:

…Simply by going first, the “Veronica Mars” movie gets to benefit not only from the love of fans of the show, but from the interest of people who like the idea of crowd funding, and of people who want to see this one succeed so that their favorite might have a shot down the road…

Things are tentative at the moment. The success of the Veronica Mars movie doesn’t guarantee that similar projects will work but the genie has been let out of the bottle. Whereas before crowd funding was the domain of the Indie scene it has been demonstrated to have some mainstream appeal and anything that gives fans a measure of control over shows and series they love can’t be a bad thing right?

Whatever happens next, whether this kick starts (excuse the pun) the new era of content making or it is merely an interesting and unique footnote in TV history, crowd funding will at least always have a place among the smaller artists and writers who are struggling for recognition and funding and at least we’re getting a Veronica Mars movie.

Sarah is a filmmaker and writer with an obsession for luscious visuals and a distain for tomatoes (they are a sneaky and untrustworthy foodstuff). If she’s not blogging or tweeting, she’ll be watching films or running around with her video camera.

Wish You Were Here?

22 Mar

Cross posted to Sarah’s blog

Sometimes, living in England makes me feel like a minor character in Game of Thrones, minus the horrific violence, gratuitous sex and dangerous inter-family politics. Less “Winter is Coming” and more “Winter’s the default season” it nonetheless feels like the cold will last forever with no hope of even the slightest ray of sunshine.

With that in mind and acknowledging that not everyone can afford to leave the country, I have provided a cinematic alternative:

The Adventure Holiday

For those who enjoy getting their heart rate up, settle down with the Indian Jones Trilogy as it takes you to far flung, exotic places and provides totally accurate, 100% researched and certified History™ for those who like that kind of thing and lots of Nazi-fighting, pesky cult-bashing and artefacts that will make your face melt with excitement. You might even be tempted set out to find the mystical fourth movie but rest assured, such a nightmare relic cannot possible exist…

See also: Most cheap films late on the SyFy channel that try to emulate Indiana Jones but don’t, The Mummy trilogy

The Romantic Weekend

Walk the streets of 1920s Paris in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris where most of the city has been overrun by Americans. Indulge you misplaced nostalgia for times gone by and hook up with a crazy bunch of artists, writers and misfits who see the genius in your work that is unappreciated by your contemporaries.

See also: Paris Je T’aime, New York I Love You, Amelie.

The Solo Getaway

Being social is overrated. Sometimes you just want to get back to nature with only yourself for company.

…Only you should be prepared for when you do get into trouble and since you took off without telling anyone what you were doing you may have to get yourself out of any sticky situations…hopefully not with a blunt pen knife…

See also: The last scene The Grey for a winter holiday, not so much the rest of the film. That’s more of a lads’ break. Good for a stag weekend.

The Tropical Paradise

Gorgeous beaches, lush forests and interesting wildlife make for a unique experience on this unusual island that is never in the same place twice! Not recommended for nervous fliers or anyone with a fear of polar bears or giant smoke monsters, nevertheless there are many interesting experiences to be had such as finding out one (or five) of your fellow travellers is a long lost relative, time travel, resurrection, SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS, submarine rides and yet more time travel.

And like any good holiday it will end in disappointment when you realise that the past few years have be heading towards nothing and they really were making it up as they went along.

See also: The Beach, Battle Royale

No refunds!

About the writer: Sarah is a filmmaker and writer with an obsession for luscious visuals and a distain for tomatoes (they are a sneaky and untrustworthy foodstuff). If she’s not blogging, she’ll be watching films or running around with her video camera.

Inspiration: The Artists

10 Mar

I do admit to stealing this from Sarah’s blog but who can blame me? It’s so sweet! Kinda. To me, this feels ever so slightly like an Aesop’s fable where at the end we learn that the moral of the story is that size isn’t everything.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” –Eleanor Roosevelt.