Monday, 11 February 2013

Award Season

We are in the thick of Awards season at the moment.  We have had the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, we had the BAFTA ceremony here yesterday, none more or less important than the other but somehow all feel like they are building up to the almighty Oscars.

I used to enjoy the fact that the BAFTAs focused on the British film industry.  But in recent years it seems that the same names seem to get the attention and the awards at all ceremonies regardless of the organisers or the country.  Sometimes I wonder whether it may not be easier to just have one international award ceremony for the English speaking world and be done with it.

Whatever criticisms I may have of it, the MTV Movie Awards and whatever anybody else may have to say about their awards categories which include Best Kiss, Best Onscreen Dirtbag and Best Frightened Performance, at least they are doing something different and putting their own unique branding on the Awards season.

One good thing about this globalisation of movies is that we in the UK do not seem to have to wait weeks or months for films to be released in this country.  For one of the first time, I feel that I have been able to see most if not all of the main contenders.  I remember a time not too long ago when I used to watch the Oscars through the night wondering when the nominated movies would be getting release dates on this side of the pond.

I have missed 2 of the big players; Silver Linings Playbook because it did not strike me as a 'necessary to watch at the cinema' film and Django Unchained because I can't remember the last Quentin Tarantino film I truly enjoyed.  I will watch it - I just was not ready to spend money to do so.  Of the ones I have seen, they all have elements of the impressive, in varying degrees.

Lincoln was a good movie, a little too long and a bit preachy in places but there was no doubting the standard of the cast. Sally Fields was okay, Joseph Gordon Levitt did well as the son of the great leader but the two performances that stood out for me were Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, the outspoken leader of the Radical Republican faction and of course, Daniel Day Lewis who I believe is a strong contender for the most versatile actor of all time.  There are not many actors that make you forget who they are - you see only the character that they are portraying on screen.  A very well deserved Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA so far, a very safe bet for the Oscars.

Les Miserables was a faithful adaptation of the stage musical, which made it longer than the movie version needed to be.  The sets were impressive, the costumes and make up very good and the cast strong.  It just didn't hold my interest. I prefer the stage show.  Anne Hathaway worked hard in her role as Fantine and her awards so far have been well deserved; I expect an Oscar is on it's way to her display cabinet.  If you have not see the brilliant send up of her role: you really should check it out here:

Whilst I understand the need for big names to get opening weekend returns and allow established actors to flex their acting or singing muscles, I did not think Russell Crowe was the right choice for Javert, he played the part well enough but his singing was sometimes painful to witness.  Hugh Jackman did the part of Jean Valjean justice and was in tune most of the time at least.  The younger actors played their parts well, Samantha Barks standing out as Eponine.

I was very excited to see Zero Dark Thirty, partly because I really wanted to see how the incredibly talented Kathryn Bigelow was going to follow up the Hurt Locker and partly because the news told us so little of how Osama Bin Laden was actually captured and killed.  The film was much like the real life story, the build up was fascinating, the investigation interesting, the finale a bit of an anticlimax.  The cast were impressive, Jessica Chastain especially stood out as Maya, following her lead with sheer bloody-mindedness but Jason Clark as Dan and Mark Strong did very well too.

It was just a little too long, some parts dragged and the finale which should have been the most exciting part of the movie nearly put me to sleep - well it was dark and I had been concentrating for a while..... It was a little disappointing especially after such a big build up.

This brings me to Argo.  One of the best films I saw last year, to say that it kept my attention from beginning to end would be an understatement.  I was on the edge of my seat, biting my fingernails into oblivion with my eyes as big as saucers.  The actors were fantastic, this was not a showreel for Ben Affleck or any of the other performers, they worked as a team, understated and portraying their tension beautifully.  The film worked - the pace was perfect, the location fantastic, the build up excruciating - in a good way, building up to a crescendo of a climax.

I do not expect Argo to win individual actor awards, although it would have been good to see Ben Affleck get one for Best Actor and Alan Arkin as Best Supporting Actor.   I am so pleased to see it win Best Picture  and Ben Affleck getting Best Director so far.  It is shocking that Ben Affleck has not been nominated for an Oscar for Best Director.  And it is very unusual for a film to win best Picture if it has not been nominated for Best Director.  But here's hoping Argo breaks the trend and gets the Oscar for Best Picture - well deservedly.

Ar - Go get yourself an Oscar!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

An Evening with Neil Gaiman

Thanks to a very busy day at work and not being able to check my twitter-feed at all, I had no idea that Philip Pullman had fallen ill until I arrived at the Cambridge Theatre and saw the note on the door.  I cannot say that I was not disappointed to learn that Mr Pullman would not be there to be in conversation with the great Neil Gaiman but I'm guessing not half as disappointed as he was.  I really hope he's feeling better. 

They were joking on stage about how the 2 writers have been trying to get together for over 10 years - they have never met.

But - the show must go on..................................

The stage was perfect. The Cambridge Theatre is currently showing Matilda so the stage was decorated with lots and lots of books.

Meg Rosoff played the part of Philip Pullman for the evening. I have not read anything by her but I am definitely going to look her up. If her books are even half as witty and ascerbic as she was, I can see myself really enjoying her writing. I was interested to learn that she was not published until she was in her forties and is now one of the most celebrated children's authors around.

There was a surprise appearance by Audrey Niffeneger who wrote 'The Time Travellers Wife' which was an unexpected treat. She read out a story called The Three Snake Leaves from Philip Pullman's new book - Grimm Tales - it was a proper fairytale - fantastic and really quite dark. I did get a copy of Grimm Tales from the Theatre - it's a beautiful book and I can't wait to read all the short stories / fairytales. I'm saving that pleasure for my Christmas break.

It was wonderful to hear Neil Gaiman discussing books, fairytales, the differences between England and America. One of my favourite moments was when he talked about promoting Coraline on this and that side of the pond. Of course, his UK audience loved the fact that 'here is a children's book which is not just scary but trying to scare the bejeebers out of you. In the States, this was something they just could not understand - why would you want to scare children?

Neil blamed / gave credit to the culture of 'scaring children' over here to Doctor Who saying that if you were not watching it from behind the sofa then it was just not good enough. I think he's right but then my parents let me watch the 'Hammer House of Horrors' when I was growing up, which is probably why nothing scares me now but that's a whole other blog.

Meg and Neil discussed the 'dark roots' of fairytales - how originally, a lot of them were about parents being horrible to their children.  The story of Hansel and Gretel was discussed, 2 kids sent out into the woods due to not being able to feed them for them to be taken in by a witch and basically fattened up for the stew-pot.  They also talked about the effect that Disney has had, softening up the stories and making them more 'palatable' to the masses.  The evil mother became the evil stepmother.   I'm happy to say that both writers were against the 'sanitisation' of children's literature. 

Neil ended the evening by reading our Click Clack Rattlebag, a dark short story that you can download for free here:

It's a fantastic story and hearing Neil Gaiman tell it in person was an absolute treat.

I hung around for the book signing afterwards which was very rushed but a nice touch none the less.  There were a lot of people waiting to get their books signed but we were waiting for about half an hour before anything happened and it's a shame the signing was not personalised but this was a bonus to the evening and I now have a signed copy of American Gods.

All in all a fantastic evening with Neil and his friends.  My first audience with an author.  I really appreciate Twitter for letting me know about these events and giving me any kind of link to the people I admire.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Goodbye Summer - Hello TV

People are calling the Summer of 2012 Soggy Summer and I guess for most of us in the UK, that is pretty accurate.

But my memories of this Summer will be dominated by great music at Hard Rock Calling and Reading, finally owning my inner geek at Comic Con, Sport (who would have thunk it) at the Olympics and Paralympics and hanging out with good friends in and around London.

And apart from even Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun not being able to wash away the rain at Hyde Park, my memories of this Summer are filled with sunshine.  This may be my natural tendency to view the past, even the immediate past, with rose tinted glasses or because I was super lucky with the weather being good when I was out and about doing stuff.

It has been an amazing Summer. And now it's over ........

I am not going to deny the fact that I am a Summer person, I like the sun, I like the heat, I am not a big fan of rain, I like the snow as long as I don't need to go out in it and when it gets dark by 4pm and the temperature is in single digits, there's only one thing to do - get into your jogging bottoms and your favourite band / college sweatshirt, get under a blanket on your comfy sofa with a hot beverage of your choice and see what's on the box.

So here's my pick of the Autumn TV which means that 'staying in' is the new 'going out'.

True Blood (Season 5)

Let's pretend for a moment that the US have not been able to watch Season 5 of True Blood since June and rejoice in the fact that we are finally able to see it on this side of the pond.  We are one episode in and I think I would be justified in saying I think this series is going to be corker.

The power of the Authority (Yep - Authority Sucks!!) set against the cunning and tenuous trust between Bill and Eric, more focus on the next gen vampires including a very unexpected new addition to the fang gang.

You can watch the new series of True Blood on FX on Monday nights at 10pm

Merlin (Season 5)

Merlin has been getting darker with every series and I expect this is going to follow the trend with the characters becoming older and more complex - even Arthur maybe. 

Having said that, with all the graphic sex and violence of programmes like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and True Blood, and yes - I know they are all on my list - I love the fact that Merlin is family friendly viewing, with comedy and lightness in amongst the drama and action.  And I hope they keep it that way.

Merlin starts on Saturday 6th October on BBC 1

The Walking Dead (Season 3)

Admittedly, I was close to losing interest about three quarters of the way through Season 2 of TWD.  Not much seemed to be happening, character deveopment was at a standstill and they seemed to be getting bored of each other and their predicament. Understandable but not great television.

A friend of mine told me that this was loyal to the comic book which would have pages of 'not much' followed by zombie-blowing action.  They did redeem themselves by picking up the pace and one hell of a series finale.

For anyone who has seen the extended Comic Con trailer, you know exactly what to expect.  For those who have not - don't do it. It leaves very few surprises. Having said that, I am looking forward to some new faces to mix it up a bit.

The Walking Dead starts on Friday 19th October at 10pm on FX

Homeland (Season 2)

The trailer for the new season of Homeland left me on the edge of my seat with my heart racing. A dark haired Carrie, a conflicted Brody and all the politics and intrigue look set to make this an electric season.

I don't want to give anything away in case you have not seen the first season - in which case , where have you been.  And hurry up and watch it.

The new season of Homeland starts Sunday 7 October 2012 at 9pm on Channel 4

Greys Anatomy (Season 9)

Rumour has it that the new season of Greys Anatomy is starting in October on Sky Living but I cannot find confirmation of the date.

It will be interesting to see where they take this season after the shocker of the finale in season 8 but I for one am very excited about where the new season is going to go. 

Greys is my guilty pleasure, my favourite medical drama and not just due to the very good looking doctors and impossible medical cases that are successful.

So here I am home off sick, my remote desktop not working, watching daytime TV and a re-run of Ugly Betty is on.  Betty has just started a blog to which Mark reaction is "Welcome to 6 years ago!"  As the episode is now pretty dated, I guess my Mark would say "Welcome to 15 years ago!"
I am a little behind the times but here it is .........


A little about me

Single 30 something female living in South West London

Working in a very responsible legal role which luckily does not impose on my personal time which consists of :

  • Watching new releases at the cinema
  • Trying out new restaurants
  • Trying out new cities and countries
  • Reading - mainly Fantasy and Contemporary fiction as well as the Classics.
  • Watching TV - Autumn means the return of some favourite shows even if it does mean the end of Summer.
  • Meeting up with friends and catching up over coffee or a good meal.
  • Wandering around Art Galleries and Museums - and loving the fact they are free in London.
In short, I try to live life as a 'yes person', you never know what you are going to like unless you try it at least once. 

I do tend to have an opinion about everything so my blogs will reflect that so feel free to comment, disagree, enthusiatically agree or just roll your eyes and carry on reading.

You can also follow me on twitter for more frequent bite sized chunks of fun reading.

This image represents 2 of my favourite things -
Battlestar Galactica
and Tamara De Lempika
Who says you can't mix geek and chic?