Category Archives: Film

The Amateur-ville Horror

IMG_3048It may not be to the level at, say, Universal Studios with their Halloween shenanigans but my brother certainly does take time and scare over his Halloween spook-tacular.

The front of his house and garden (the rockery horror picture show?) was transformed into a mysterious mist heavy graveyard complete with listing headstones and accompanying ghouls and fiends…all of which stands between would-be trick or treaters and their candy…if they dare!

IMG_3044Fittingly it all took place in the last house on the left (before the school) and this year visitors had to dodge the likes of uber scary clowns (are there any other type?).

There was also a dapperly-suited Jigsaw (yours truly) that kept children and adults guessing if it was real or not.

Well, of course I wanted them to play a game of real or not real as I hid among the tombstones Baron Samedi-style.

Then there was an illuminated cloaked devil figure (my brother’s guise for this year) that was one part Ghostface and one part Darth Maul.

IMG_3038And then there was Iz, otherwise known as spooky speedy pumpkin (I have no idea, that’s the name Iz gave herself), a black and pink striped cat (must be a pedigree with that name) as played with much relish by Isabelle.

She gave the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and Michelle Pfeiffer a run for their milk money with her zeal, which started out as domesticated friendliness  before ending the evening as feral claws and hisses.

Iz was a whisker above Claudia Winkleman, who’d chosen a frightfully feline outfit for this week’s Strictly Come Dancing as well.

IMG_3516Not to fear though if any of the intrepid visitors needed medical attention though as there was a member of medical personnel on hand, feet and torsos in the form of a sinister psycho surgeon complete with death-oscope,

Sarah here channeling her inner Incredible Hulk with those eyes! Is it me or do they follow you round the room?

IMG_3549With such a menagerie of monsters on display you’d have thought that perhaps the neighbours might have stared, not to matter as Shona would stared right back at them and right through them.

Beyond the front door a world of the macabre awaited Halloween party guests in the form of Ringu figures on the stairs, a river of dry ice emanating from a cauldron across the food (of the gods) that put Top of the Pops to shame and curtains of cobwebs aplenty.

Isabelle loved it, merrily swishing the hubbling and bubbling mist, although I think Isabelle must have thought that the food was on fire judging by her reaction.

IMG_3563It was also the night of the living dad and mum as my parents showed they weren’t too cool for ghoul arriving in full costume and make-up, here caught it the kitchen which was full of its own devilish delights.

There was also no sanctuary to be found the other side of the house either as those escaping through the back door were met by a baby complete with spinning head and and creepy lullaby.

IMG_3559Reeling in horror from that you are then faced with a body bag and shovel amidst more graves to make your (Burke and) hairs stand on end, before being chased from the property by a cackling head hidden in the wall.

It certainly was an evening of high spirits where a good fright was had by all and nobody could deny that it was a real scream.

Perhaps most frightening of all though was when I removed my mask (steady) and wore it on my head as I became less Jigsaw puppet from Saw and more Max Wall!

Beauty and the NeverBeast

Film, it’s a powerful medium. Early in my blogsproration  I noted that exposure to your first film is important and will help shape everything from conversations to friendships.

There also comes a pivotal time when the emotion of film will overwhelm you, sure, you’ll laugh long and hard but make no mistake you will cry, long and hard as well, and that moment shall forever be part of your filmic DNA.

It will come as you start being able to process and have empathy with stories and characters, as you start to  understand the story sense of films and tv. And when it happens it will hit you like an emotional bolt out of the blue.

For Isabelle this came whilst watching Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast when the lovable but misunderstood beast of the title has fulfilled its mission and most go back to sleep for nearly a thousand years before he is next needed.

Iz instantly knew that this meant that Fawn and the other fairies would never see him again, in Isabelle’s eyes he may as well have been laying down to die rather than going to sleep for a long period of time.

But then that’s what happens to pets isn’t it? They go to sleep, so quickly going to sleep in animal terms, at least  in the eyes of children, is associated with death.

And Iz has already been touched by that with Grandma and Grandad’s beloved German shepherd, Max. It isn’t that Iz doesn’t know Max isn’t dead or that she just thinks he went to sleep, she understands he was very poorly but still misses him. She says she does regularly and still talks about him constantly with an air of sadness. And it was exactly that same emotional peril she was in with the NeverBeast having to say goodbye.

She’s hidden behind her hands prior to now, most recently with Bing Bong in Inside Out and only the day previously to the NeverBeast, watching The Iron Giant for the very first time.

But her reaction to the end of Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast was on a whole new level. This was full on sobbing, sobbing that she nor the fairies will ever get to see the NeverBeast ever again as he won’t be back for 1,000 years. Iz wanted to go into his cave with him, she is such a sweet and sensitive soul.

We all have that moment occur to us though, it’s like a cinematic rites of passage. Mine, it was probably one of two films, King Kong (1976) – even if it was Rick Baker in a suit – or Anthony Hopkins TV movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982).

Both heroes who fell to their deaths from buildings, I may not remember which film triggered the emotion first but I vividly remember crying lots and lots outside in the back garden.

At the cinema it was the horse drowning in The NeverEnding Story, scarred for life I tells yer, having not seen it for years I think I’d even convinced myself that it had been saved…I was wrong.

For many it will of course have been E.T., unless you couldn’t make it out properly on a terrible pirate copy. And that’s the thing, you don’t know what it will be that will trigger it, whether it’s the lonely alien, the man in the ape mask or furry faced NeverBeast.

Whatever film it is a pivotal moment, as it’s about or innocence but also the beginning of the loss of our innocence. We are never the same again.

What film do you remember having the first real emotional impact on you when growing up?

Supergirl takes flight…every night at my house

Is it a bird? Yes, Supergirl to be precise.

New footage has been released of the new TV series Supergirl, from the same makers as The Flash and Arrow, and it looks goofy fun in a The Devil Wears Prada/My Super Ex Girlfriend via Gossip Girl type-way with Melissa Benoist (Glee season 4 and 5) donning the cape or glasses (in Linda Danvers mode).

The footage, which went on for a good six minutes, certainly gave us a great insight into where she came from, the usual costume choices montage and some Supergirl action where she saves a plane, something of a Superman staple, but it was done well and had a few neat twists. It certainly is lighter in tone than Arrow and is probably more inkeeping with The Flash.

SupergirlSupergirl may well be flying onto a TV screen near you soon but I’m actually Supergirl’s Dad, sort of. Isabelle loved her Supergirl costume when she wore it and loved the running, the fake flying and the potential for superpowers.

Whenever I take her out of the bath I always have to wrap her in her towel to the strains of the original Superman theme and ‘fly’ her into the living room (less easy these days I must admit, she must have switched my powers like in Superman 2).

christopher-reeves-superman-main[1] DSC_0433And it’s hard to not talk of the Supergirl/Superman universe and not mention the late Christopher Reeve. Like Reeve the Super costume really brought Iz’s blue eyes out as she attended a superhero themed birthday party that saw the likes of Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man and a rival Supergirl (echoes of the Superman 3 junkyard brawl there) take to the bouncy castle with their super powers. Guess you could call her Supernewman or Newman of Steel?

red like the sun of Krypton green like kryptoniteThe Man from Krypton coincidences continued throughout the party. The floor was littered with balloons but the only one that Iz was remotely interested in was the singular red balloon, clearly it reminded her of the red sun of Krypton! Iz took more caution as she went for a drink, steering clear of the bright green drink that had more than a passing resemblance of kryptonite about it.

Iz even managed to pull off a couple of his stances, from the hands on the hips to his meaningful stare.

photoWe have a British Superman in the guise of Henry Cavill, so why not a British Supergirl? Iz could quite easily pull off teh mild-mannered Linda Danvers office-based role as well if they ever wanted to do Supergirl: The Early Years.

To paraphrase the marketing campaign for the original big screen Superman back in 1978, you’ll believe a a girl can fly!

Star Wars Day: A Newman Hope

Iz had her first glimpse of Star Wars today in the shape of the first fight between Jango Fett and Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones which was being shown as part of the Star Wars Marathon on Sky Movies.

“He can fly!” Iz exclaimed with a sense of wonder, as she saw Fett blast off with his jet pack.

She gasped as she saw Kenobi’s lightsaber crackle into life fighting off volley after volley of laser blaster.

dusterShe may have only stopped for that scene but she’ll be back for the rest of the series, hopefully just in time for The Force Awakens. They’ve been on a loop for much of the day on Sky and although we’ve been packing boxes and spring cleaning that didn’t stop us getting involved, I even had a purple feather duster er just like Mace Windu. Note C3P0 and R2 in the background.

photoPerhaps inspired by her travels to a galaxy far, far away Iz could be found drawing her own set of aliens that wouldn’t look out of place in the Cantina Bar, the force is strong with this one.

The Amazing Spider-Dog

download (1)So, Spidey is getting a(nother) reboot and is crossing over into the Marvel universe with Captain America and Iron Man in Civil War.

That certainly gets the spider-sense tingling and it also looks like it’s goodnight Andrew Garfield. So who next?

Well Garfield may have played Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, but this time it could be less of a cat-namesake (tenuous lasagna loving cat reference) and more of a canine one vieing for the role, sort of.

You can forget Spider-Pig, bid farewell Krypto the superdog and utter goodbyes to Underdog (loved the poster though)…there is a new super mutt in town!

Turns out Missy has taken a liking to my Spider-Man dressing gown (alas it comes minus web slingers), so I guess if she’s Spider-Dog then her alter ego must be Peter Barker?

img_1608Not sure there is much need for a superhero dog that can sleep all day (she’s like a cat dog so perhaps she is more mutant superhero) and sense cheese being opened miles away though!

Like Superman she has her Achilles heel in the form of a bark button – touch a certain part of her back and watch her go – and chocolate. She once searched and destroyed two regular Lindt chocolate bunnies (they were only identifiable  from their remaining bells) which saw her turn the shade of the Green Goblin.

photoStill, she’ll always be a superdog to Isabelle, especially with Iz in her head essentially being Penny and Missy as Bolt,  from the film of the same name.

You can hear her now asking Missy to Bolt bark (back to that bark button again) or giving her the command to zoom zoom when she is on her scooter. But most of all, just like Penny and Bolt, they are best of friends and always have been.

iz-and-miss

Booked to the Future

2015, okay so the self-lacing trainers aren’t with us yet, nor is Jaws 19 or those shocking pink hoverboards, but this year doesn’t just mark the year that Back to the Future Part 2 ‘happens’ it also marks the 30th anniversary of the original. Talk about heavy!

bttf_einstein_019It doesn’t seem five minutes, never mind five years since we were celebrating 25 years of the original Robert Zemeckis classic, yet here we are. What was great then was that I was able to complete my original quad cinema movie poster collection with the re-release poster joining the original release Parts 2 and 3 posters which, like the films themselves, neatly riffed on the iconic original.

The 25th anniversary also saw the film head back into cinemas for a limited time, all cleaned up and looking amazing on the big screen, I’d missed it during its original run and caught it for the first time when it premiered on TV at Christmas and from the wall of ticking clocks was hooked.

marty-mcfly-johnny-b-goodeSeeing it on the big screen after so many years of it on the small screen was a complete revelation and you really haven’t seen films like Back to the Future until you’ve seen them on the big screen, read my original 25th anniversary Back to the Future review here, but for the 30th anniversary we are going back…back to an even bigger experience.

This time we are heading to the Royal Albert Hall for a screening with a live orchestra playing the fantastically rousing Alan Silvestri score as the film unfolds, merging performance and cinema, and for me, delivering a far more vivid experience than the likes of the secret cinema offerings last year.

The Royal Albert Hall experience is part of a wider cinematic music bill, which also sees the venue play host to live performances and screenings of The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Titanic, the latter conducted by composer James Horner.

20130306-005558It will be our first time to the Royal Albert Hall, which will be amazing in itself but the real treat will be when on that screen we see the vastness of space give way to the rotating Universal globe as Steven Spielberg presents a Robert Zemeckis film…and the ticking clocks begin as we await the conductor’s  baton to be raised.

The Radio Times IS Christmas

You can forget your John Lewis adverts, your X Factor and Strictly closing stages, even the Boots catalogue with its multitude of 3 for 2s, the sign that Christmas is almost upon us is simple – the double issue of the  Radio Times.

TV Quick and the free pullout in The Daily Mail are merely pretenders to the TV listings throne.

It’s the one issue of the year that I’m certain to buy, even in this scrolling, series linked day and age there is nothing quite like sitting down with the weighty issue, a cuppa and a highlighter.

When I was at Uni it always caused a bit I an issue as the regional variations – which always seemed to be far more significant than they are these days – were o no use whatsoever when I got back to my mum and dads. It never diminished the joy of circling or putting a line or question mark against programming though.

You know that you won’t end up recording or even watching most of the items that you strike off, but that almost isn’t the point, it’s just fun going through spotting old favourites and seeing what film big guns the channels are unleashing on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

We’ve probably all seen them umpteen times, or even own them, but  for some reason it matters not, seeing them introduced preceded by a spinning globe etc with those words “and now on BBC One…” just adds something special.

Of course ‘back in the day’ it used to mean buying both the Radio Times and TV Times and cross referencing everything, not to mention whether it was going to be recorded on the front or back of a video tape and did I have enough space on tapes before getting a new pack of E240s on Christmas morning?

Unwrapping new VHS tapes was also a joy, not only did they have an almost impenetrable outer layer but then each tape was also individually wrapped – it was one extreme to another though so was either that or you’d try taping on a tape that had its tab removed (shock horror, quick somebody find some Sellotape!)

If you’ve still got any old VHS knocking about then invariably you’ll have the tail end of the previous programme, listings for the rest if the evening/following day (“and with Jim Davidson’s Big Break at 615, that’s your Saturday night entertainment on BBC One”) or John Ketley giving you a late weather update.

Back to the Radio Times, it hasn’t changed that much and there’s still the traditional how many pages of holidays are there remark annoyingly smack bang in the middle of the listings for Christmas Day.

Like any good and regularly leafed through edition its cover will perish and become detached well before the fortnight is out from being thrown across the room, shoved down the side of the sofa and having numerous drink tested and splashed over it…but most of all it will be loved as much this year as it was the last.

Last Action Heroine

Isabelle’s always loved her films and going to the cinema so I decided to do a ‘Last Action Hero’ and put her in the movie, sort of, with these short videos.

Jurassic Peppa Pig World

With the launch of the hotly anticipated Jurassic World trailer I decided to mash things up a bit and meld the worlds of Peppa Pig and dinosaurs – no not George’s – in this play on the Jurassic World teaser.

Iz View To A Kill

I’ve always loved A View To A Kill (you can close your mouths now), which served as Roger Moore’s swansong in his tenure as James Bond. On holiday Iz took to a firetruck ride and immediately she reminded me of Tanya Roberts taking the wheel of the truck whilst the future Sir Rog swung about San Francisco on the back of a fire ladder. Here’s that scene unwittingly homaged by Isabelle.

Slide Hard

Apart from the title and Ode to Joy this doesn’t really have anything to do with John McClane or Die Hard, although Iz could have been very well wearing a white vest under her t-shirt. Still, I thought it rounded out the piece rather nicely and if I’m being tenuous, which I am, the slide was high up and so was Nakatomi Plaza.

Gutted, mourning Robin Williams

What Dreams May Come
What Dreams May Come

Sure, Robin Williams, who has been found dead at his home aged 63, had his demons with drugs, drink – and like so many comedians – depression.

But that certainly doesn’t mean his death is any less shattering or was generally met with disbelief when it was the first thing that met my eyes and ears as I awoke to the news. Famously, he cites the death of fellow comedian John Belushi as a wake up call to his drug consumption and he freely admitted that if The Blues Brother hadn’t died then it probably would have been Williams next.

Like many, I grew up with him, first on my TV screen on Mork and Mindy, then on several of his live shows and of course his big screen antics way before he hit it big in Good Morning Vietnam in 1987, which seems like a lifetime ago, but seemed to capture the persona of Williams perfectly – the zany comic against the establishment and the thoughtful man that cared for others. Williams was both of these and pretty much the rest of his output moved between the two with great success in the likes of Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire and even Dead Poets Society.

He’ll, of course, always be remembered for his manic style – an interviewers dream and nightmare no doubt – and his amazingly fast comedic processor that saw improv with hilarious results in such classics as Aladdin, Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire, that just shows his sheer diversity there.

But these were tempered with more thoughtful performances in Dead Poets Society, Moscow on the Hudson, and in one of my own personal favourite films, Awakenings. Not to forget his best supporting actor Oscar nod for Good Will Hunting of course, Williams also received nominations for the afore-mentioned Vietnam, Society and The Fisher King.

There was often sadness in this clown’s eyes during his performances, whether that be the desperate father to see his children, the doctor who couldn’t help in Awakenings or the ‘little boy lost’ or ‘boy who never grew up’ figure in the likes of Jack, Jumanji and of course Hook as Peter Pan himself. And in the latter, for me, it was the grown up Peter in the real world that bookended the film that was the most interesting element of that film.

And his performances in darker material such as Insomnia, this time acting against Pacino, and One Hour Photo just showed the man’s range and ability to act, he was no one trick pony. And that range was matched by the diverse range of films and genres that he found himself leading audiences, of course there were always the comedies but I’ll remember him as much for his dramatic roles, roles such as that in What Dreams May Come where he finds himself looking for his wife in the afterlife – which has never looked so vivid and rich – after she has committed suicide. It’s poignancy elevated beyond belief now of course, it is a beautiful film to look at and certainly won’t be easy viewing when it is next watched.

One of his last films to be released will be Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, scheduled for a Christmas release, again its release will be cloaked in sadness at the talent we have lost. Ironically I was watching the first film the night before his death and he is brilliant as Teddy Roosevelt (essentially in that he is the elder statesman of comedy) and he fills his supporting performance – always making it feel bigger than it actually is – with what makes a Williams performance great, full of warmth, humility and fun. He of course played another President,  Eisenhower, in the recent The Butler (2013).

It’s pleasing (if that is the right word) to see that Sky, the BBC and Channel 4 are all remembering the talent of Williams with a selection of his most beloved films. All, for one reason or another, will be difficult to watch because of the man and the talent that we have lost and many of his performances will now resonate more loudly and deeper than they ever did before.

The ‘zany character’ of Robin Williams that we saw on the big screen, on stage or on the chat show was just that, a character and he played it well and brought so much joy to others of all ages. My favourite ever story though is that when Steven Spielberg was making the harrowing Schindler’s List he’d come back from an emotionally draining day of filming and speak to Williams via video link up who would just cheer him and other crew up, bringing some sunshine back into the darkness. I’m sure all of us who have been made to laugh or been moved by one of his performances just wished that we could have done the same for him.

His light might have dimmed but his power to make us laugh and cry, or even cry with laughter, has just been forever heightened.