Film: Pride

Sep. 9th, 2014 12:20 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: I saw a poster for it at the cinema and I was really interested in the concept of a gay rights group supporting the miners' strike. And then IJ was enthusiastic about the film at a party, so I had some hope that not only is it a cool premise, it's a cool premise done well.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] jack and I got to the point where there's nothing else further we can do to get things ready for moving, other than tasks that need to be done at the last minute. So we went out to the cinema in the shopping complex behind the station; I'm still not used to the idea that there's actually stuff in that bit of town one might want to go to!

Verdict: Pride is a very strong film, both funny and emotionally affecting.

some review, mostly feels )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reason for watching it: I was already kind of intrigued by the idea of a thriller set in more or less the real world space programme, and although I've seen some people nitpicking the science, I've also seen very positive reviews of it. Plus, it's Hugo-nominated and I am still hoping to vote in the long-form Dramatic Presentation category.

Circumstances of watching it: Was home with [personal profile] jack this weekend and we wanted to spend an evening watching a film.

Verdict: Gravity is an exciting and visually impressive blockbuster, without much depth beyond that.

detailed review )

As for the Hugos, I think I'm going to vote for Pacific Rim, which has any number flaws but is also definitely not run-of-the-mill. Gravity second and then Frozen, which are both good examples of what they are, and I rank Gravity slightly higher because what it is, a real world science based thriller with a female lead, is more interesting than what Frozen is, a Disney movie that plays to Disney's strengths and says something intelligent about love. Assuming I probably won't get round to watching Catching Fire before the end of this month, and I am not at the point where I'm going to get into the whole comic-book superheroes thing in order to appreciate Iron man.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reason for watching it: It's nominated for the long-form dramatic presentation Hugo, and I'm hoping to see most of the slate before Worldcon, (though probably not the random bits of superhero comic franchise). Also I've read some really interesting reviews and discussions of the film. [personal profile] staranise discusses how: even if you're avoiding someone because of how much they matter to you, all they see is your absence. [personal profile] jimhines points to it as a rare example of a realistic portrayal of an abusive relationship where: the charming fellow you just met — the man who flatters you, says all the right things, and makes you feel so amazing — turns out to be flat-out evil. [personal profile] elialshadowpine wrote something really interesting under lock. Although I have seen plenty of reviews that point out what's problematic about the film, it sounded like it might well be interesting as well as being a generic Disney property primarily marketed at young girls.

Circumstances of watching it: I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got to the end of term and the bank holiday weekend, so I spent most of the three days curled up with [personal profile] jack recuperating. It seemed like watching a film would be a relaxing thing to do, given we had a few hours spare for once. We hadn't previously tried streaming contemporary commercial films, as we usually either wait for something to come out on DVD or watch it at the cinema. We tried buying Frozen from Amazon's streaming service, but having taken our money they presented a film which played for 3-10 seconds before stopping for half a minute to load the next few frames. A bit of buffering I would accept but that was completely unwatchable. So I won't be giving Amazon any money for streamed films in the future. So we ended up paying again to buy it from Virgin's on-demand service, which was slightly more expensive but gave us a film which played smoothly throughout.

Verdict: Frozen is a fairly average kids' movie with some sublime moments, and makes a reasonable stab at subverting compulsory heterosexuality.

detailed review, with spoilers ) I would not at all say that the film is groundbreakingly feminist, but it's a lot less actively sexist than it might have been.

After we watched the film we went and looked up the plot of the original Snow Queen. Since the Wikipedia summary is very nearly as long as the story itself, I ended up reading the Hans Christian Andersen original aloud to [personal profile] jack. I understand why fairytale purists are disappointed, but wow, I am really quite glad that Disney didn't in fact make any kind of faithful (or even really connected) version of The Snow Queen, because that story is seriously incoherent. Though it's kind of impressive to see just how much influence it has on CS Lewis; there are really strong parallels between the Snow Queen and Kay, and the White Witch and Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and I'm pretty sure the relationship between Kay and Gerda influenced Polly and Digory in The magician's nephew.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reason for watching it: When I first became aware of Pacific Rim it sounded completely uninteresting to me, I assumed it was just going to be showy designed-for-3D special effects and pointless fight scenes. But then I started reading comments and reviews about it which suggested it had more depth to it, in particular this one, which sites the film at the intersection of Japanese and Western cinematic history. Also [ profile] rysmiel, whose taste I trust, said positive things about it, and reassured me that I would be perfectly allowed, indeed encouraged, to sympathize with the giant robots.

Circumstances of watching it: With a bit of wrangling, I was able to achieve an actual date with my husband. I had to convince him that Pacific Rim would be worth seeing; like me, he'd assumed it was a trashy summer blockbuster. We're both somewhat stressed and busy at the moment, and maybe going to the cinema wasn't the most productive thing we could've done with a very sparse couple of hours of free time, but I think we kind of needed a break.

Verdict: Pacific Rim is very good at what it does, and about the most successfully thrilling film I've ever seen.

detailed review )

Anyway, that was a lot of fun. I came out feeling as if I'd just spent the afternoon at a theme park sampling all the thrill rides. So glad I saw this; many thanks [ profile] rysmiel for helping to persuade me.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: There really wasn't anything else of any interest at the cinema. I thought, if I'm going to watch a dumb action movie, at least let it be one with high calibre actors and decent production values.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] jack managed to arrange to come and stay with me for a week. We wanted to spend an evening together out of the house, so we did the obvious thing of going out for a meal and a film. I almost never make it to the cinema, because a lot of the time I resent committing myself to nearly £10 and nearly four hours of my life. On my own, I'd rather stay in and read the internet, and with friends I'd rather a social event that encourages chatting. But with the luxury of a week-long visit, I didn't feel the need to spend every possible minute in conversation, so the cinema seemed attractive for once.

So we went to Peaches, the lovely Chinese restaurant where they do an all-you-can-eat menu, but not a buffet, dishes freshly prepared to order. Which is really a lot more fun when you're not on your own. And we'd booked the late screening because the mid-evening one would have meant being too rushed to enjoy dinner, so we filled the awkward 25 minute gap with cocktails at Hector Garcia's. They had a special which was basically like an upmarket White Russian: vodka, Tia Maria, amaretto and milk. It was a very happy-making drink!

This all meant that I was in a very mellow sort of mood by the time we got into the cinema. I was perfectly happy to take the film as it came and not nitpick too much. Then there were lots of adverts, pretty much all for tie-in stuff, which made me slightly feel as if the whole film was about to be a three-hour-long advert for stuff marketed at young men with too much money and not enough self-esteem. Also cinemas are very LOUD; in some ways I almost needed the half hour of pre-film guff in order to acclimatize myself to the bombardment of sound.

Verdict:Skyfall is emotionally gripping, and visually pretty, but makes little sense if you start to think about it.

detailed (somewhat spoilery) review )

Anyway, I'm glad I saw the film, it made for a good evening's entertainment, and it's great to be able to join in the discussions that are going on around it. Oh, and thanks to [personal profile] antisoppist and [personal profile] vatine for tracking down why my Swedish friends keep sniggering about the title...
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
Reasons for watching it: [ profile] bugshaw gave us the DVD for a wedding present.

Circumstances of watching it: We were recuperating from intense Passover stuff and travelling, and it seemed like a good plan to curl up with a film. I don't actually own any DVDs that [personal profile] jack hasn't already seen, but this was one he was happy to rewatch.

Verdict: The Prestige is thought-provoking, dramatic and well acted.

detailed review )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: I liked the premise of a comedy about a Muslim man who discovers that he was adopted as a baby and his genetic parents were Jewish. Also, most of the other options available were Holocaust-themed, which is somewhat of an anti-preference for me.

Circumstances of watching it: We had a J-soc film and pizza night, which was a great success. It was a good illustration of my theory that the best way to build community is to have events that allow plenty of time for socializing but have some specific purpose beyond "just" socializing.

Verdict: The Infidel is an unexceptional comedy which is also touching and handles a sensitive issue thoughtfully.

detailed review )

I enjoyed The Infidel a great deal (in spite of needing to shout "nooooo!" at the characters quite a lot!), but then I'm already a fan of Baddiel and a sucker for culture-clash storylines.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: Harry Potter has become a huge cultural touchstone, so I sort of want to know how the story goes. But when it came to the books I got bored somewhere in the middle of Goblet of fire and couldn't quite bring myself to plough through the remaining increasingly bloated tomes. And I didn't really want to get a pedantic plot summary from Wikipedia, because that wouldn't give me a clear enough impression of the series. So I said to myself that I'd watch the final episode when it came out on film. Obviously with it being such a huge thing, it was going to be a big-budget film with good actors and good special effects, and since I don't love the books I wouldn't be offended by changes or abridgements.

Circumstances of watching it: My colleague SL suggested a trip to the cinema to see it, so I was happy to go along. It's the kind of thing that likely benefits from the big screen, and for once I get to keep up with the cultural zeitgeist rather than waiting a few years until it comes out on DVD and I get round to watching it.

Verdict: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is generally a romp and I'm glad I managed to catch it.

detailed review )

So all in all it's a great piece of storytelling which really uses the capabilities of the medium. The story it's based on undoubtedly has flaws, but I think the film managed to capture the part of the series that really touches something primal.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
Reasons for watching it: I watched Blade Runner years and years ago (when I first met [ profile] lethargic_man in 1998, in fact), and I wanted to see it again to see if it matched up to my memory. The thing that made me get round to it finally was reading Philip K Dick's Do androids dream of electric sheep, which has a very, very different atmosphere, but I wanted to compare the two when both were fresh in my mind.

Circumstances of watching it: I wanted to spend an evening watching a DVD with [personal profile] jack, and there wasn't anything else in my (rather paltry) DVD collection that appealed to both of us and we hadn't already seen, so Jack was willing to go along with my Blade Runner rewatch scheme.

Verdict: Blade Runner is a seriously mind-blowing film (and nothing at all like the book).

detailed review )

All in all I completely see why this is a classic film! When I saw it for the first time it was about the fifth feature film I'd seen in my life, so I had nothing to compare it with, and although I'm by no means a sophisticated viewer now I have a lot better idea what the fuss is about. If for some strange reason you haven't seen it, you definitely should. It certainly prompted a lot of discussion and speculation after we saw it!

Do androids dream of electric sheep? is impressive in an entirely different direction. It's a grim dystopian future much in the mould of 1984. Deckard is a second-rate cop rather than a ultra-brilliant one, and the whole theme of the book seems to be that whether or not he succeeds in his mission, the only development is that it becomes increasingly obvious to both him and the reader that absolutely everything is fake, as symbolized by the electric sheep in the title. The stuff with the empathy machines is really weird and I'm not sure I quite get it, but adds to the generally depressing atmosphere. Although it's a very down-beat book, as with the Orwell dystopia there are some really powerful images, particularly the recurring theme where "kibble" is gradually taking over the world. I also liked the character of JR Isidore, and I think it's a shame that the film made him into an eccentric genius instead of a person with intellectual disabilities; there aren't enough of those portrayed positively in films. In some ways it seems like the kind of book that would appeal to readers of lit-fic as much as SF; you could easily see all the world-building as metaphorical, and the tone of the writing is very literary.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
Reasons for watching it: Lots of the reviews I'd seen made it sound as if it would be a film that would appeal to me. I particularly enjoyed [ profile] siderea's write-up, which has psychological insight as well as film crit. Also, I saw a mention that there was a lot of Piaf music in the soundtrack, which attracted me; this turned out not to be true, it's just that Je ne regrette rien is a big thematic thing. But never mind.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] jack was visiting and we felt like going out to a film, and Inception was without any hesitation the best of what was available at the local chain cinema. Actually it took us two attempts to get in; we didn't expect that the film would be completely booked out on a random mid-week night (and in fact the first several places we tried to get a meal instead were completely full too; we ended up in La Favorita, an Italian place which does big portions of hearty but fairly unremarkable food; no idea what was going on that Newcastle was so packed early on Wednesday evening). So the second time we booked a ticket in advance.

Verdict: Inception is an original and absorbing film. It doesn't hold together once you start to think about it, but it does a great job of drawing you into the story.

detailed review )

I absolutely adored the ending. I think it makes the whole film; I'd spent the last ten minutes feeling faintly annoyed at the drawing out of the happy / shmaltzy ending, which is both sentimental and anticlimactic. And then there's the final few frames, which make the whole film ten times more awesome. I was sort of hoping for something about as cool as The Matrix, and Inception pretty much hits that spot. I've tried to avoid spoilers in the main body of the review, but there might well be some in comments, and I think this is a worthwhile film to see unspoiled if you can.

([personal profile] jack's review, for comparison.)
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
Reason for watching it: I was starting to feel embarrassed by not having seen it, and missing pop culture references.

Circumstances of watching it: After two weeks together, [personal profile] jack and I had more or less run through our urgent stack of conversations we wanted to have right that minute, so we felt ok about spending a couple of hours watching a DVD instead of chatting.

Verdict: The Matrix is watchable and original.

detailed review )
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
Reasons for watching it: I was never exactly a Trekkie (or a Trek fan, in modern parlance), but I did watch TOS and especially TNG fairly regularly when they were on TV. On top of that, it seems like absolutely everybody is talking about this film, so I was quite keen to see it and be able to join in the discussions.

Circumstances of watching it: Delta showed it on the flight back from New York. Since it was an overnight flight I probably should have used the time for sleeping, but hey. It seemed to sit in the absolute sweet spot for watching on a plane. It's a film I had some interest in seeing, but not one I was passionate about and would be disappointed to watch on a tiny screen with cheapo headphones and a lot of background noise and interruption. Also, exciting but not too scary, entertaining but not intellectually demanding.

Verdict: Star Trek is everything I was hoping for from this film.

detailed review )

And I've been going back over all the intelligent analysis of the film around various blogs. [ profile] rawles' IBARW post has some really excellent thinky stuff on racism and sexism and how they interact, for example.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Reasons for watching it: Everybody's been talking about it, and it seemed cool to see a much-hyped film shortly after its release, so that I could read all the other reviews without worrying about spoilers, and hopefully join in the conversation.

Circumstances of watching it: [ profile] cartesiandaemon's friends T&R invited us to join them to watch the film. We saw it the Grafton Centre Vue, which is a fairly generic commercial cinema. They had a pick-n-mix counter but nearly all the sweets were full of gelatine so I ate honeycomb flavour icecream instead, which was nicer but not as good for nibbling at while the film was going on. If I'd been on my own I'd have chosen an earlier screening; for me, a three hour film starting at 8:30 is a bit much to take.

Verdict: Watchmen is cinematically impressive even if it's not really my thing.

detailed review (minor spoilers) )
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Reasons for watching it: [ profile] cartesiandaemon recommended it to me, and was curious to know what I would think of the controversies raised by it.

Circumstances of watching it: While [ profile] cartesiandaemon was here, we'd planned to spend some time just curled up together watching Firefly. But he'd lent out his Firefly DVDs and not been able to get them back, so we watched this instead. I actually really like watching a film with a friend like that, when they've already seen it so don't mind if I make occasional comments during the action, and we can discuss it straightaway afterwards. And it's something I don't always think of doing when I have a visitor because I assume I ought to be paying more direct attention to them; I should consider it for future, at least when I have someone staying for a few days.

Verdict: The incredibles is good fun but doesn't quite live up to its potential.

detailed review )
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Reasons for watching it: [ profile] cartesiandaemon lent me the dvd, so I assumed it's worth seeing. It turns out to be something of a classic too, but I'm a film philistine so I didn't know that.

Circumstances of watching it: I was cold and lacking in energy of a shabbat afternoon, so I wrapped myself in blankets and sat down to watch a film.

Verdict: The Sting is engaging and twisty.

detailed review )

Anyway, I'm very glad I watched it, it was fun, and I'm one degree less hopelessly uncultured for having seen it.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Reasons for watching it: I really liked the sound of it when everyone was raving about it. I've liked other Pixar stuff, and it just seemed like my kind of film.

Circumstances of watching it: Joanna spontaneously invited me to join her at the cinema, and since for once I was actually free this evening, I jumped at the chance. So we went up to the big cinema at Hötorget, and sat through some seriously inappropriate trailers (mostly involving people shooting eachother and having on-screen sex), and a very cute little Pixar short about a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, with the gag that the hat is actually magic.

Verdict: Wall·e is very watchable, but doesn't make entire sense.

detailed review )
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Verdict: The Princess Bride is really one of a kind.

Reasons for watching it: People close to me have been quoting it at me my whole life, and for a long time I was so annoyed with the whole thing that I was reluctant to see it. And then [ profile] darcydodo and [ profile] cartesiandaemon ganged up on me and so I had to succumb.

Circumstances of watching it: [ profile] cartesiandaemon helpfully lent me the DVD. Since I am home sick today, too ill to do anything that requires brainpower, but not ill enough to spend the whole day in bed, I thought I'd give it a try, and it's an appropriate film to pick in the circumstances.

detailed review )

Flim: Once

Mar. 26th, 2008 06:03 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Reasons for watching it: No very obvious reason; it just happened to be an English-language film that was on at the cinema.

Circumstances of watching it: I'd just got back home from seeing [ profile] ewtikins and [ profile] hairyears off, and was settling down with tea and my flist when Joanna called me and asked if I wanted to go to the cinema with her and her mother. I was a bit tired, and it was exceptionally cold outside, but I thought, why not be sociable. And indeed it was a lovely evening; Joanna won a lottery for an Easter egg, and we had a nice chat over tea afterwards, so I'm glad I braved the cold night.

Verdict: Once is a bit slow-moving but quite charming.

detailed review )
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Reasons for watching it: It seems to be a big part of the memetic landscape these days, and I care about the subject matter.

Circumstances of watching it: It was being shown at a meeting of the Jewish - Christian dialogue group, which I do want to get into, so it seemed like a good opportunity. The group was so recognizable as an interfaith group; the late middle-aged Christians radiating respectability, the rather older Jews of a particular generation plus a smattering of younger idealists (it's heartening that there are at least some of those). I felt right at home.

It wasn't very useful as an interfaith event; the film plus the faffing about getting the equipment set up took so long that there was only 10 minutes left for discussion. And the discussion consisted of a Catholic environmentalist telling us how several German churches have raised money to fit solar panels to their buildings, and our emeritus rabbi telling us about the principles of not destroying and not hurting living creatures. Oh, and a question from the floor which wasn't really a question, but a Survivor rambling on about how he was unable to forgive a certain Nazi officer who killed several of his friends in front of him. This stuff is important, sure, but it was absolutely off topic and there wasn't anything useful anyone could say.

I wish we could have discussed the film, or at least had a more in depth discussion of environmental issues in Judaism and Christianity. So I'm hoping you guys will have something to say about the review anyway.

Verdict: An inconvenient truth is almost too rhetorically polished.

detailed review )
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Reasons for watching it: I wanted to watch a Jewish film with my bar mitzvah class, and this was the only vaguely appropriate one available. One of the class had recommended it, and I think she was right to do so.

Circumstances of watching it: There were various logistical problems with organizing this film showing. In the end, I managed to join the synagogue library, which turned out to have a much poorer selection than I'd remembered. In fact, almost everything falls into the two categories I was trying to avoid, either Holocaust stuff or faky Yiddish nostalgia crap. The Producers and The Believer I suspect are too old for 12-year-olds, especially as they don't have that good a grasp of modern Jewish history. Very few of your recommendations were available, sadly. I considered Annie Hall but decided that Woody Allen annoys me too much, and the theme sounded like it would not be very interesting to pre-teens.

In the end I picked up The summer of Aviya, which is Holocaust-related but set in the 50s and dealing with a Survivor getting on with her life. I have a vague memory of seeing it at about the age my pupils are now, and it's based on a YA book so it seemed likely to be well pitched.

Then there was trouble about where we were going to watch the film. We'd hoped to watch in one of the pupils' homes, but didn't manage to organize that. Luckily, the Jewish Centre has a youth room, with comfy sofas, a computer, a Playstation, a small handful of books and board games and a huge wide-screen TV, and we were allowed to borrow this room for the evening. But when we settled down to watch The summer of Aviya, it started jamming and skipping about ten minutes in. One of the youth workers who was floating around lent us Livet i 8 bitar instead.

Verdict: Livet i 8 bitar is rather high-grade fluff.

detailed review )

The copy we had had no subtitles available, so I'm quite proud of my ability to follow the dialogue in variously accented Swedish! It wasn't quite the positive rounding off of the term that I had hoped for; the film came to and end and everyone just drifted off. But never mind. One of the pupils gave me a bunch of flowers, which made me feel like a real teacher. And on the way home I visited the Stockholm food fair which is going on at the moment, and ate a nice snack meal at the booth belonging to the Ethiopian restaurant. Mm, injera.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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