Sunday, 29 March 2015

Brainstorm

I'm not sure if this is true or not, but during school or possibly college, the word 'brainstorm' was going to be banned because it was potentially offensive. I thought this was absolutely ridiculous. But, as I can't remember where I heard this, and having not heard of anything since, apart from that it was to be called 'mind mapping' instead, this crazy idea might be changed.

Anyway, I've had to do quite a bit of 'brainstorming' lately as I'm trying to complete a project but I'm having some difficulty. I was told that there is not such thing as 'writer's block' and it was just something writer's used as an excuse. I'll agree to that but this time, its not excuse. I literally have too many ideas that I want to use and they are mostly conflicting. I know that the simplest of ideas are the best and lead to great ideas, story, characters and so on, but the desire to create something from scratch and not have any previous ideas get in the way is causing 'writer's block', leading me to 'brainstorm' everything.

It doesn't help that I have had next to no sleep this entire week, but I won't harp on about that. Usually I do my best work in the early hours of the morning, a 2am miracle. That's how I came up with two of best stories (in my opinion). The rest all happened when I was no where near my desk or even London. But being able to write only by the coast or in the forest gets a little expensive.

My compromise was to find the perfect place to write in a cafe or coffee shop but so far I haven't found that dream combo close to home.

I think the key to completing a project is:

LOCATION + IDEA x TIME = Completed Project

At least this is what I'm hoping is the winning formula and nothing more complicated.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

March Watch List

1. Chappie

I've seen mixed reviewed for this film about A.I and child development and I'm surprised. I thought this film was brilliantly executed. On the surface, its about a creator and his creation and how people can corrupt an innocent for their own gains. Then there is a deeper message, is a child corrupted by its family and the people it associates with or is it just circumstantial, the environment. To bring down crime in Johannesburg, the police are made up of human offices and robotic humanoids. The success of the robot offices brings success to Tetravaal, a weapons manufacturer and the creator, Deon. Deon then creates artificial intelligence giving a robot emotions and he ability to form opinions but after he is kidnapped by a street gang who forces him to 'wake the robot up' so they can use it to assist in their crimes. Chappie is born. Sharlto Copely plays Chappie, voice and motion capture too, and he is brilliant as well as being the director Neil Blomkamp's favourite having appeared in his last two features.  There is heart in his film as well the enjoyment of seeing corruption of innocence seen through the eyes of a child/robot. There have been talk of a sequel which would be a shame as this film and story stands well alone. I should also mention that Hugh Jackman, as the ex-solider turned weapon designer is quite good as the weird villain who wants man operated machines on the streets instead. He is so far removed from the typical muscle crazed hero its delightfully refreshing. With a mixture of non actors and professionals, the characters gel surprisingly well together, on screen at least. 4/5

2. Fifty Shades of Grey
Let's be clear, I've not read the book, nor will I ever read the book but I saw the film because I thought, if I'm going to make fun of this film or criticize it in any way, I should at least watch it. My opinion at the end, it is neither great nor bad. I can understand fans of the books would be annoyed by a few things, namely the fact that the book is explicit (so I'm told) and the film barely breaks the 15 certificate. The filmmakers had the opportunity to go all out and they didn't. The hype around the book has been tamed down that it becomes more about the relationship that the s&m scenes. The relationship is also annoying but that is a character fault not the actors. Ana and Christian are the main focus of the film, the supporting characters who appear every now and then are used with small effect, they do not move the story along, all the work is left on the leads shoulders and their up and down relationship, will be sorted out in the sequels. This film very much felt like a long intro. But saying all this, the two leads had chemistry at least. 2/5


Seals, folktales and beautiful 2D animation, of course this film was aimed at someone like me. The story is about Ben and his sister Saoirse and their father, the lighthouse keeper. After the death of his mother, who died presumbly during childbirth, Ben has always been hostile towards his younger sister who at age 6 has still never spoken a word. But when Saoirse discovers a white coat and lead to the sea by mystical fairy lights, there she discovers, after wearing the coat, she is a Selkie. After being discovered on the sea shore the next morning, the children's visiting grandmother insists the children live with her in the city. The defiant Ben decides to escape and make his way back home with Saoirse in tow. They journey home and discover and meet fairies of the myth and legend as well Saoirse's destiny and importance between worlds. Its beautifully animated and the story, so simple yet brings out all emotions. The seal and folklore aspects just the film all that more enjoyable to watch. 4/5


4.  Suite Fran├žaise 

My friend and I went to see it like it was like any other war drama, but after the first viewing we were hooked. The film's end felt like we were left in suspension and for me disbelief that it ended. Again, I've read mixed reviews about this film, centered around the German occupation of France in 1940. A regiment is sent to a town outside Paris and how the residents and he soldiers live along side each other. We became obsessed with this film and story, as we both read the book the film is based on by Irene Nemirovsky, who was writing the novel just before she was taken to a labor camp for being Jewish. The film is heartbreaking above all but it was also interesting to see a different aspect to the war. Set just when Germany defeats France and takes over, the Germans are the enemy but are seen to be civil until one of their own is murdered. Along side the main story of occupation, there is a romantic element. A German officer, Bruno is billeted with Lucille and her stern mother in law, Madam Angellier. Her son is a POW and she treats her tenants with contempt. Bruno and Lucille share a bond through their love of music but it is, as always, an ill fated romance. Played with such subtly by Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts, the relationship is not sweet but delicate and works so well on screen, just wish they had longer scenes. The story's outcome and the outcome for several of the characters featured in the film is changed and ultimately damned by one selfish person. From this point on the story descends into the usual, way a war film does, its frustrating but not disappointing. By my friend and I reading the book, we searched for answers to see if we missed something. We both felt that the romance needed further attention and I personally felt the sting of the ending. I don't wish this often or ever, but I hoped for a change of ending from the book. And no matter how many times I watch, love, despair at the film, it will never change. Directed by Saul Dibb with the elegant touch that he previously had in The Duchess, I should have know I would have been depressed with the end. If you're wondering about the title, it is the name of the music that Bruno is composing throughout the film. 4/5

5. Seventh Son

I'm sorry but I gave this the lowest possible score as it didn't even hold my attention. The myth behind the story is far more interesting than the actual film. It's not a surprise that this film is based on series of books. I think the studio who made it was hoping for a franchise to bloom but I really can't see it. It will most likely go the way of Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, The Dark is Rising, Vampire Academy and Eragon, all based on book series aimed at young readers and tweens. None of them got a sequel. Dystopian adventures seem to hold the winning formula but those are also running short. The Seventh Son was bland and not even Jeff Bridges playing Jeff Bridges could save this film. Plot, young man destined to save the world from darkness and a powerful witch becomes to the apprentice to a Jeff Bridges who is a 'Spook' someone who can vanquish evil things. That's the premise and I'm sure you can all predict the end. Oh, and they make sure to leave room, just in case a sequel is made. 1/5

6. Zero Motivation

After seeing the trailer on Apple trailer, this was during festival season, I was hooked. A comedy about women during military service, perfect. But where the trailer made the fill look purely like a black comedy, the film was more about friendship and the comedy was slightly thin on the ground. The film is split into 3 chapters, 'The Replacement, The Virgin and The Commander'. Each section follow the day to day life at the military base of the women, mainly, who non-combatants, working the admin office. Zoar, is on the surface lazy and refuses to make an effort and Daffi just really wants to leave the base for another in a better location. I did laugh at some of the mishaps and the scene where the entire office is stuffed full of shredded paper but otherwise there are some quite disturbing stories within the base, one involving a suicide and one of the women being possessed by a ghost. I would reccomend the film but be aware its not an outright comedy. 3/5

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Seals, Sea and Sanctuary


Last year I finally fulfilled a dream. I visited the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek. I tried to take as many photos as possible, these are just a precious few that came out ok. I think I was just too excited to be there.


There were also sea lions, humboldt penguins and otters. No photos of sea lions. But I spent quite a bit of time staring at these little guys.


While in Cornwall we also visited St Agnes, an amazing beautiful beach. There are also a few photos of one of favourite places, Milford-on-sea.





While at the sanctuary, we spotted this adorable seal sleeping in the bottom of the pool and he's smiling.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Fandom Friday - Comfort Films

Absolutely love this Fandom Friday topic! These are 5 films that I watch when I'm down, not well, feeling lazy or just want to be comforted. We all have films like this.



1. Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion
My friend and I, while at University, would watch this film whenever we were stuck about which film to watch. Once we had just finished watching it and said 'what should we do now?' We both looked at each other, 'Let's watch it again', so we watched it back to back. The film is great 'pick me up' and just so fun!

2. Rear Window
This was always one of my go to films to watch when I was ill. While staying in halls I used to pretend I was L.B Jefferies as I had a great view of the court and could see what was happening. Don't worry, nothing sinister was going on.

3. Soapdish
I tend to watch Soapdish when I really can't think what to watch while having dinner. I also watch this film when I come home late and I'm slightly tipsy.

4. Grosse Pointe Blank
I love this film and will never tire of it. It's always there if I need to be comforted, plus it makes a great double bill with Romy and Michelle.

5. Dredd
This film is now what I usually watch if I'm not feeling well. No idea why. I think  just really enjoy the film and distracts from whatever illness I'm suffering from.


Bonus: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

This is a bonus because now, I can't watch just one, I HAVE to watch them all. I recently watched the first two Hobbit films and the extended LOTR trilogy, I saved two to do this and it was worth it. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mothers, Monsters and Mayhem

It has forever been a bother for me when stories are trying to find something or someone for the audience to 'connect' to and they end up going for the same old boring thing, single mother with a sick child. It's incredibly disappointing.

I appreciate stories between mothers and sons/daughters but when its part of the story not as a lame add on. There are films that have the 'mother figure' or the 'mother presence' that is usually needed as part of the main character surrounding supporting characters, especially if its a family drama or someone who is returning home.


 But, more often, the 'Mother' character is one of two beings. Someone who is domineering, maybe even violent, she causes misery, sometimes for comic effect. The other role the 'Mother' plays is the absent parent, events in the story are in her name or her absence is the cause for the events and certain characters behaviour.

A few films are based around a very generic relationship between a mother and a child, for example in 'Anywhere But Here'. Adele (Susan Sarandon) up roots her daughter, Ann (Natalie Portman), to LA in order to better themselves.  Ann can't stand her Mother and says this all the way through even though at times she won't go anywhere without her.

In a twisted way, the relationship in Watchmen between Sally and Laurie is similar. Even though, Sally forced her daughter to become Silk Spectre 2, dressing her up in provocative clothes, forcing her to take up the mantle and refusing to tell her about her real father, Laurie still visits her mother all the time, even going through the transporting which makes her ill. Her mother stole her childhood but she still feels like she needs her mother and Sally definitely still needs her.

There are plenty of horror stories that play on the 'violent, evil' Mother character. One that comes to mind is Carrie. I haven't actually seen the film but because it's an adaptation of Stephen King's novel, there has been so much coverage of it especially with the less successful remake. Carrie's mother is a religious fanatic who tortures her daughter mentally and physically to the point where Carrie breaks. That's just putting it gently. 


 Sometimes its the bond between mother and usually son that is too close and strong that causes the most damage. The prime example here is 'Psycho', Norman Bates (SPOILER) has a disturbingly close relationship with his mother to the point he dressed up in her clothes and murdered people, he even spoke in her voice. For me, that last scene where he is sitting in the cell, is the most disturbing. The TV series, Bates Motel, has run with this relationship, but set in modern day. It shows the lead up to the events that will eventually be 'Psycho', Norman's breaking point.


The horror and the shame the way mothers behave can have a terrible outcome and mothers who have been thought to be caring and loving are actually selfish and delusional. 'Flowers in the Attic' demonstrates the reverse nurturing effect when mothers become consumed with themselves and try to ignore their children as they are 'getting in the way of their happiness'.  Heather Graham played Corrine, seen at first as a loving mother until her husband dies and shes forced to move back home. But in order to stay in her father's good side, she hides her 4 children in the attic, where they remain for years. She barely visits them after a few months, intent on starting a new life. This entire ordeal completely damages the children in different ways mentally and physically, scaring them for life. There is also another mother daughter story between Corrine and her own mother, Olivia. Olivia had always been jealous of the relationship between her daughter and husband and she takes it out on her grandchildren.

The jealous mother character is usually for step mothers but like 'Flowers in the Attic', in 'Stoker', Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) is very jealous of her daughter, the slightly strange, quiet, India (Mia Wasikowska). At first it seems she was jealous of the father daughter relationship, she mentions to the uncle, Charlie (Matthew Goode), that they used to do everything together and exclude her. She is bitter about this, especially after the mysterious death of her husband. Charlie, the brother, is also fascinated by India and in turn India seems to have a connection to Charlie. Evelyn then tries to take Charlie's attention away, the only way a woman can, supposedly. But Charlie has other issues which is why he is connected to India, so for Evelyn, this attempt at making her own daughter jealous will ultimately fail.

The mean mother character can be comedic or incredibly serious, but sometimes a serious problem of bullying can create a comedy classic. 'Throw Mamma From The Train' is more about writers and a strange remake of 'Strangers on the Train', but the fact that a mother character comes into the story is important and shows just how strong a hold 'bad' mothers have on their suffering children. Owen (Danny DeVito) wants to be a writer but his overbearing beast of a mother is stopping him progress is every way. He convinces his teacher, Larry (Billy Crystal) to 'criss-cross' their murders, as Larry wants rid of his evil thieving ex-wife. As I said its not really about the relationship but its interesting to see a serious issue played out in a comedic way. The ending is hilarious by the way.

Mothers have a great influence over us and in films, as I said so many films are done in 'name of' our Mothers, particularly revenge films, like 'Four Brothers' that was actually pretty darn good. Its based on the The Sons of Katie Elder'. The four brothers seek justice when they're mother is murdered. This the 'absent' mother character, like a ghost who comes back to haunt the characters we see, sometimes never mentioned but we can all feel the presence.

This feeling can be applied to those mother characters that are no longer mothers. 'All About My Mother' is about Manuela who after her teenage son is killed, is left alone and decides to go back to Barcelona to look for the father. Its an heartbreaking start, but even though her son is gone, he still echos throughout the film, so she never actually stops being a mother.

The 'over protective' mother type is often seen is quiet dramas, where the mothers don't want their children to fall off the rails but this usually has back lashes, particularly in 'The Virgin Suicides'. Kathleen Turner's character is positive she is doing the right thing when it is completely wrong, and her behaviour and rules may have contributed to her daughters desperate needs to 'get out'. Over protective 'action' mums can also 'get it wrong'. In 'Terminator: Judgement Day', Sarah Connor is locked up in a mental hospital while her son is looked after by foster parents. When she escapes, she is very 'motherly' but she has the instinct to protect. The need and want to protect the child can be a double edged sword, trying to do good may lead to downfall, but doing nothing can lead to resentment, its difficult to determine, in each film if its the mother or the child.

To wrap up on a happier note, the 'mum' character type in teen comedies is always fun to watch. They are usually uptight, rule making generics, a waste of space or hardworking and never at home. The ones that stand out and break these molds are Mrs George (Amy Poehler) and Rosemary Penderghast (Patricia Clarkson) from 'Mean Girls' and 'Easy A'. To be honest these two films break the teen movie mold anyway. Mrse George is riduculous, she is always taking photos of the back of her daughter's head and she doesn't really monitor what her younger daughter watches BUT she also encourages her daughter, be in a weird way. She comes to see her show, she brings drinks and snack for daughters frriends and she doesn't really approve of the teens drinking. She's crazy but sometimes responsible and seems utterly oblivious to the fact her daughter is a bitch as she seems to love her no matter what.

Rosemary Penderghast seems easy going and like Dill, her husband, get along with their children, having very easy conversations about anything, even their sexual history. Rosemary, again, like Mrs George, seems oblivious to the rumours about her daughter. She trusts her daughter and doesn't pry into her life and is able to make funny jokes about 'gentlemen callers'. It's a very easy going relationship with her daughter, Olive and its not often that you see this on screen AND it feels completely believable this happens.


My last mention on mothers has to be about the ultimate mother-daughter relationship, Gilmore Girls. I could write a whole essay on this example alone. Lorelai Gilmore is a best friend to her daughter and mother. She knows when to draw the line and teach her daughter what she needs to know while giving her space and time to make up her own descisions. She is supportive in (nearly) everything Rory does. The circumstances that created this close bond come from another mother-daughter relationship. Lorelai and her mother Emily didn't get along because she was the opposite to what Lorelai is for Rory. She forced her into things she didn't want, she didn't support her in the way she needed, resulting in Lorelai literally running away to be free. I know some people are Gilmore fans, I know my sister hates it, but it is one the best examples for the mother character to be explored, there are 7 brilliant seasons to discover what I mean, and this isn't even 1% of what I'm trying to convey here. To press this further, both Lorelai and Emily could be examples of most of the 'mother' types at some point during the TV show. But, that will have to do as I have rambled on for a very long while.







And I didn't get started on these two.


I know there are a dozen more 'mother' types out there but the ones mentioned here are the ones that came to mind. If you have any more to contribute, please do leave a comment below, I'm always happy to read.

Happy Mother's Day!

Films mentioned; Anywhere But Here (1999), Watchmen (comic/film), Carrie (1976), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Four Brothers (2005), Psycho (1960), Flowers in the Attic (2014), Stoker (2013), Throw Momma From The Train (1987), All About My Mother (1999), The Virgin Suicides (1999), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Mean Girls (2004), Easy A (2010), Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

Fandom Friday - My Fictional BFF's

I think I'd use all 5 stops on Peter Quill, Rocket, Groot, Gamora and Drax as these guys are all great, they all bring something to best friend table but if I chose more carefully my list would look something like this:

1. Liz Lemon

Some say she's a buzzkil, all she cares about is work and she sometimes wears a swimming costume as underwear on laundry days but she also misquotes Jay-Z lyrics, writes comedy sketches for a bizarre demographic, loves food, she completely nails the fake phone call to pizza and never actually goes to the gym despite always saying she will. We'd have such great times together as there no party like a Liz Lemon party as Liz Lemon parties are mandatory.  We could eat night cheese together, talk about Star Wars and agree on Hipster nonsense.


2. Agent Peggy Carter

She's a strong female lead in a franchise dominated by men but I think she'd make a great best friend because she has your back in any type of situation, plus has some great outfits that I wish I could borrow.


3. Abed 

 This one is so easy, he quotes films and TV shows all the time and he acts like he lives in a TV series, seriously, what's not to like. He can also be serious, give good advice and he may lack some social skills but he understands more than we'll know.


4. Daphne 

I think this is mainly because I love Jack Lemmon and he plays characters that you immediately want to be friends with. Daphne or should I say Jerry, is up for anything, including escaping the mob dressed as a woman.

5. Tintin

 I've always wanted a best friend who was reporter/detective/traveller. He may find himself in difficult situations but he knows just how to get out of them, plus he he has adorable dog, Snowy, who I could always look after should Tintin need a day off. Best part though, I could join him on his crazy adventures.


If I could choose an animal best friend, Toothless, a dragon, would be him. Firstly, he's a dragon, who doesn't like dragons. Secondly, he's loyal and will do anything for his friends. Lastly, he is so much fun!


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

One For The Canines

With Crufts just gone this weekend and being a dog lover but sadly not owner, I thought I'd dedicate a post to mutts at the movies or those daring dogs of the silver screen. But first a nod to the winner of Best in Show, Knopa, a Scottie dog from Russia.



I've tried to be fair, four animated dogs and three real dogs, but I admit, most are terriers.

Jock
Starting with Jock, the Scottish Terrier from Disney's 'The Lady and the Tramp'. A classic tale of class divide oh and love I suppose. Jock is adorable and I've started with him because this year's Best in Show at Crufts was a Scottish Terrier, which hasn't won since 1929. I love Jock not only because I particularly love terriers but he is complete with Scottish accent as well.

Uggie
Of course I had to include the four legged star of the Oscar winning film, 'The Artist'. Simply called, the Dog in 'the Artist, Uggie is a Jack Russell Terrier and even has his own biography. He is a brilliant performer and audiences loved him. Uggie was awarded the Palm Dog at Cannes the year the film was released.

Snowy
Comic, animated, major film star, Snowy is the companion of Herge's Tintin. I wanted to show the classic image of Snowy, who is a Wire Fox Terrier, from the original comic books. Snowy is also a film character if we count the animated TV series and feature films. He is loyal, adventurous and actually likes to drink too.

Milo
 Yes, its another Jack Russell Terrier, this time it's Milo from 'The Mask'. Apparently it was the first film that Max the dog had been in and led to a few ad-libbed scenes. I suppose everyone who loves that film remembers him with the mask on and the horrible cartoon green head, but my favourite scene is when Milo is jumping up the wall to his owner in a jail cell.


Sparky
 The story of Sparky and his owner Victor made me almost cry. All Victor wanted to do was keep his pet dog alive. Sparky, the Bull Terrier from 'Frankenweenie' is brilliantly animated. It's a great story and love that it is child friendly version of all the classic horror films and gothic tales. Tim Burton had a winner here.

Hooch
 Hooch, from 'Turner and Hooch', the classic film where Tom Hanks has to look after the dog of a murder victim as he is the only witness, is hilarious and sad. Hooch, played by Beasley the dog, is a French Mastiff or if you want to be fancy, a Dogue de Bordeaux. Finally stepping away from terriers. I like to think if this film being about man's best friend who slobbers over everything but you still love him despite of it.

Gromit

 Man's true best friend, or more precisely, Wallace's best friend, Gromit, the dog more intelligent than his owner. He has to endure a villainous penguin, being framed for murder, being chased by a were-rabbit and coping with Wallace's breakfast routines. Gromit, who is actually a Beagle, is a true marvel in the canine and animated world.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Fandom Friday: Blogging Snacks

Now that I'm back to working more days, I'm going to start missing fandom Fridays. So, apologies for the lateness.

I could actually consume various snacks, from ones I've created, to ones straight from the box.

1. Coffee


Coffee will always be number one, can't live without out it, although too much actually stops production.

2. Twinnings Fruit Teas


These teas are perfect for late night writing, keeps me warm and no caffine to destroy my hands.

3. Cake

 It's anytime of cake. Shop bought, home made, made by me, its just nice to have something to go with my coffee


4. Cheese

 Preferably on top of a crumpet with avocado, tastes amazing and fills you up.

5. Udi's Gluten Free Bagel Chips

 These are a new favourite snack. They are in box form, they can sit on my desk and wait for me to start writing, plus now that I'm trying to be stricter with my wheat & gluten free-ness, they are perfect.