Tag Archives: films

The Foxscars 2013

Never mind the Oscars. This year I’m launching my personal alternative to the Academy Awards – the FOXSCARS.

BEST UNSEEN JOURNEY: Doctor Who Magazine‘s The Watcher recently enthused about the great unseen journeys in Who but Bond and M’s desperate drive from Westminster to Scotland in Skyfall takes the biscuit. “It’s not very comfortable, is it?” says M, settling into the Aston Martin. “Are you going to complain the whole way?” counters Bond. And then the most extraordinary elision.

M Judi Dench Skyfall lodge scotland

Google Maps suggests just over 8 hours for a trip from London to Glencoe. That’s a long trip even if you knock off an hour or two for Bond’s reckless speeding, and M’s a septuagenarian who’s just spent hours cooped up in an inquiry. So this grim, relentless flight for their lives must have had at least one comfort break along the way. I picture M rushing into the service station toilets, cashmere coat tails all a-flap, calling out to James who’s in the queue at the shop “Get me a Twirl, Bond! Or if they haven’t got a Twirl, a Topic!”

BEST IRONIC SURNAME-BASED CASTING: Liz White IS The Woman In Black.

BEST GUYLINER: Lenny Kravitz’s gold lids in The Hunger Games. You would, wouldn’t you.

Kravitz as hot as anything

BEST MOUTH: If you make a film expecting your audience to spend almost the entire running time staring at your heroine’s half-lit face as she stumbles through horrors in the dark, it had better be a good one. And Silent House is a beautiful, beautiful film where extraordinary technical challenges behind the scenes [it is contrived to appear as a single 90-minute shot] are matched by Elizabeth Olsen’s brilliant expressive face. I spent ages scouring the disc to get the best screenshot of her mouth opening up in atavistic terror, and realised afterwards I’d landed on the same still as is used on all the promo materials. Well there you go.

Silent House

BEST LEGO: The telekinetic teenagers in Chronicle hone their skills with some truly awesome Lego action.

BEST BREATHING:  Kristen Stewart is already famous for acting out emotion purely through the medium of languid sighs and gasps, so it was a treat that in her first scene in Snow White And The Huntsman she immediately got to blow a candle out.

BEST MONSTER IN AN OTHERWISE TERRIBLE FILM: The spider-thing made out of mannequin parts in Silent Hill: Revelation

spider mannequin

BEST IMAGINARY MUSICAL VERSION: There’s a moment in the excellent My Brother The Devil when Fady Elsayed says to James Floyd “I’d rather have a brother that’s a bomber than a homo!” Every time I’ve seen it I’ve been willing him to say “bummer” instead of “homo”. Because then it would be the perfect opening lyric to the lead song of the musical version that’s in my head.

My Brother the Devil

BEST 3D: I didn’t think I liked 3D, but Life of Pi changed my mind, so well done everybody.

BEST OPTIMISM IN A POSTER PULL-QUOTE: Quartet

Quartet poster

BEST PUNCTUATION: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

BEST FINGERS: Not to get all spoilery, but there’s a point in Prometheus where Noomi Rapace has just gone through some of the most intense physical and mental trauma that you can imagine. And how do the ship’s crew wake her up? Five sharp raps to the face with the back of the fingers. In marigolds. Makes me laugh every time.

Prometheus fingers

BEST GRATUITOUS NUDITY: Nick Sagar suddenly being forced to strip naked in the street in Ill Manors had absolutely no plot justification or character relevance at all. Plan B, we salute you.

Nick Sagar, as fit as a butcher's dog

BEST INTER-SPECIES NECROPHILIAC FRENCH KISS: Always a hotly-contested category, but this year Cabin in the Woods just edged it.

kissing in the cabin in the woods

Is The Hunger Games a shot-for-shot remake of a 1979 episode of Grange Hill?

A lot of people are quick to claim that The Hunger Games is some sort of rip-off of Battle Royale. But Suzanne Collins claims she’d never heard of the Japanese book and film before her own became a success, and who are we to argue? Especially when, somewhere between Connecticut and Shikoku – here in South East England in fact – there’s another source so close as to be uncanny. Could a Grange Hill school trip to Beaconsfield really have inspired the adventures of the Panem tributes? Let’s take a look…

Once a year, selected children are taken out of their ordinary lives by a woman in a remarkable hat and suit

Once a year, selected children are taken out of their ordinary lives by a woman in a remarkable hat and suit

On the way there they must learn to respect their mentor

On the way there they must learn to respect their mentor

alliances

Alliances are soon formed in the wilderness

But the gang are in pursuit, and our heroines must flee!

But the gang are in hot pursuit!

Lost in the woods, will the odds be in the girls' favour?

Lost in the woods, will the girls find the odds are in their favour?

The man who could save them waits in a rose garden, but how will the story end?

In a rose garden waits a man who could save them, but will he?

5 things I learned from The Power of Three

1. The Power of Ninety (miles a second, so it’s reckoned)

The Doctor’s heartfelt speech to Amy offering perspective on ‘one corner of one country in one continent on one planet that’s a corner of the galaxy that’s a corner of the universe that is forever growing… ‘ as they sat looking at the stars reminded me very much of Eric Idle’s lovely song in Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life.

2. The Power of Pertwee

I really liked this story and the way it balanced a vibe reaching back through various Torchwood scenarios to the feel of the global invasions in Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who all the way back to the nostalgic glow of the Pertwee era. Mind you I mean the good Pertwee era of my childhood imagination – the one based on the Target novelisations and what we were told by the guidebooks and magazines, where everything was cosy and action-packed at the same time and it felt like a family – before the videos started coming out and it turned out the Third Doctor was really just a horrible thankless old bully.

3. The Power of other mobile networks are available apart from Three

4. The Power of KIRSty

Implacable cubes make great enemies, from Dungeons & Dragons‘ Gelatinous Cubes to the Borg, the world of the film Cube and those remorseless advancing blocks in the old PlayStation game Kurushi. There’s something about geometric perfection that inspires unease, even when they’re not blaring out The Birdie Song. And I wouldn’t go so far as to ask Is Doctor Who’s The Power of Three a Shot-For-Shot Remake of Hellraiser?, but you know –

There’s this girl who can make the cubes work

And the wall in the hospital turns into a dimensional portal

And the cube reconfigures itself on its own

And who the FUCK’s this?

– and this is all very welcome to me.

5. The Power of Poultry

Could they be alien eggs? asks Brian. Oh Brian. If only they were.

Is Mulholland Drive a shot-for-shot remake of a 1981 episode of Prisoner: Cell Block H?

Go on some film-geek forums to see who people cite as David Lynch’s major influences and you’ll see names like Herzog, Buñuel and Bergman being bandied about. But watch his Mulholland Drive followed by episode 199 of Prisoner – the 80s women’s prison soap from Australia – and you’ll see some startling similarities. Was this his biggest inspiration of all? See if YOU can spot the difference between Mulholland and Melbourne in my exclusive side-by-side gallery.

Two vehicles career around the corner of a lonely road – this can’t end well 

Our heroine stumbles from the wreckage, but who is she?

And where is she?

She makes her way up towards a familiar-looking apartment

Is this an old friend or a new friend?

Our heroine has amnesia – and the truths of the world come as quite a shock

Oh it’s all very well my saying it’s a shot-for-shot remake and then only looking at the main characters and their coincidental car crash/amnesia plot isn’t it. It’s obvious I’m cheating. If you took random samples from any other scenes they wouldn’t match up at all.

No, I’m getting nothing

Definitely not

RUN FOR THE HILLS

If you enjoy humorously-captioned screengrabs from Prisoner: Cell Block H then please visit the Wentworth Detention Centre tumblr – very much the original and best.

The Olympics opening ceremony vs Richard & Judy

Four billion people are expected to tune into the opening ceremony of the London Olympics this Friday. Massive numbers like that are hard to process so let’s compare it with some other globally important TV moments and their reported viewing figures.

(click it for full size)

There you go. It’s on the large side. It’ll influence how the rest of the world sees the UK for many years to come. But maybe you still don’t want to watch. So how are the other channels competing? Well BBC2 have got Hermione Norris narrating a documentary about isolation in Snowdonia, which seems like quite a pointed attack on anyone not interested in the Isles Of Wonder show.

ITV1 has pretty much rolled over and surrendered, with a repeat of the first episode of Vera, while Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky 1 are going for business as usual/heads in the sand with The Million Pound Drop, Big Brother eviction night and Stella respectively.

Well done to those channels offering something genuinely different on the night then. BBC3 are turning their backs on Britain with dog frolic pic Beverley Hills Chihuahua (in which Drew Barrymore voices a spoilt lapdog who runs off with a gruff, sexy German Shepherd). BBC4 are celebrating Irish rock with a profile of Thin Lizzy. And best of all, the gold medal goes to ITV2 who have an episode of The Only Way Is Essex prepared – it’s a genuine alternative to national pride.

Wenlock and Mandeville – MONSTERS at large

The official mascots of this year’s Games are, to be blunt, creatures of nightmare. I’ve done this post as a public service. Monsters belong in monster movies, not out and about scaring small children in our streets and stadia. Sleep well everyone.

5 things I learned from Mariah Carey’s Glitter

1. Never be afraid to let your audience know how to feel

Glitter‘s not a particularly subtle film or one that’s hard to follow, but you can never be too careful. So at selected low points in the plot, Mariah crashes in on the soundtrack with a song that opens with the line “Dear God, it’s all so tragic”. It first happens when child-Mariah is abandoned at an orphanage which, you know, is sad. And then later the same song illuminates an odd moment when Mariah stares at a drunk woman in the street. Helpful.

2. DRESS FOR THE OCCASION

To attend a glittering reception, Mariah’s Boyfriend Max Beesley decides to wear an unbuttoned shirt that shows off alarming amounts of chest. Even if you fancy him, it’s a bit much for a formal do. This wardrobe dissonance is only equalled later on when Mariah goes for a drive into the country in search of her long-lost mother, wearing an evening gown and heels.

3. Nobody smoked in the eighties

Glitter is set in the 80s. You know this not just because the background music is peppered with the likes of Blondie and Frankie Goes To Hollywood but because at one point someone actually says “This is the 80s!” for no very good reason. So why aren’t all the bars and clubs wreathed in a smoky fug, with people accidentally jabbing lit ends at each other on the dancefloor? It’s because the Hollywood rule of smoking applies, and so only the morally suspect character gets to smoke. And even he excuses himself from a room to do it. Honestly, in the 80s everyone smoked at their desks, on buses and at all times and places in between.

4. ADD PATHOS WITH AN ANIMAL

The cat that Mariah scoops up when storming out of her relationship with Her Boyfriend Max Beesley comes as a bit of a surprise. We’ve not glimpsed it before and it seems to be there solely to lend the scene a whole ‘You’d better believe I’m really leaving!’ vibe. And we never see it again after she’s arrived at her sassy friends’ apartment with Tiddles in one arm and not so much as a bag of kitty litter in the other. They probably strangled it.

5. Music transcends location

In one extraordinary scene towards the end, Mariah sits composing a melody (with her MOUTH) while across town her now Ex-Boyfriend Max Beesley starts bashing out a new song on the piano. They’re both in the same key, which is already a less than 5% chance fluke, but incredibly they also seem to come up with exactly the same tune. Later, Mariah lets herself in to Max’s pad, and has a look at his handwritten sheet music on the piano. It must be an incredible discovery. To find that a level of quantum entanglement so precise and unlikely as to border on magic has occurred is a scientific leap that changes everything for humanity. Mariah’s response is pictured.

Monsters at Home: The Cenobites

They’re explorers in the further regions of experience!  Demons to some, but angels to others! Or, as Wikipedia puts it a little less poetically, they’re ‘extradimensional sadomasochists’. But how do Hellraiser‘s scourges pass the time when they’re not reaping souls and refashioning flesh?

Not shown: Choc ices

WHAT DO THEY EAT When the Cenobites first appear in the novella The Hellbound Heart, we’re told that they smell of vanilla. So I tend to imagine they’ve just been scoffing a box of Asda choc ices. At 8 for £1 (at time of writing) they’re not exactly a luxury treat, so it’s the perfect conflicted experience for beings who like to blur the line between pain and pleasure. Butterball, the fat Cenobite, probably gets taunted and comes off worst. Like most fat characters in films he’s portrayed as always hungry, as we can see from his gaping stomach wound and constant lip-licking. I bet the others just give him the stick to sniff once they’ve eaten.

HOW DO THEY SOCIALISE With those costumes that evoke the S&M scene AND the priesthood AND butchers’ leather aprons, we can say with some confidence that the Cenobites spend quite a lot of time shopping for clothing and grooming products. So Saturdays find them ambling through the retail district of Hell’s labyrinth, stopping in at their own versions of Debenhams for some underwear (“We Have Such Tights To Show You!”) and Timpson’s to get their boots repaired (“We’ll Tear Your Sole Apart!”).

WHAT DO THEY DRINK The Female Cenobite (yes I know, sorry, that’s how she’s credited) unfortunately has the front of her throat held open by wires so it’s unlikely she gets to enjoy any drinks very much at all past an initial taste. And with Chatterer’s teeth clattering away constantly he doesn’t get much down his gullet either. Still it means there’s always someone to get Pinhead and Butterball home safely after they’ve got slaughtered on cocktails with Leviathan.

WHAT DO THEY WATCH ON TELLY As two of the Cenobites seem to be effectively both blind and deaf, this is probably something of a sore point. But still, the others have found themselves drawn to ITV1 on Saturday nights where hapless humans attempt to solve the challenges of a mysterious Cube which acts as a gateway to pain or pleasure. “Tears are a waste of good suffering!” barks Pinhead at the screen as a hapless estate agent from Billericay slumps defeated amidst a pile of brightly coloured ping-pong balls.

WHAT DO THEY DO FOR FUN We know that they can only reach our world through the solving of puzzles (and not just the Lament Configuration box – we learn from the book that origami can be used to summon them) and so they keep a close eye on new mental and physical challenges. The Sudoku fad left them unimpressed but they’ve had a great time recently sketching hooked chains and bloody foetuses on Draw Something.

HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE Well the dull answer is that they convert other people into Cenobites. It seems they retain some memory of their human pasts though, enough for a confused recollection that intimate fun can involve the insertion of appendages into orifices. But as we can see in this picture of Chatterer and Kirsty, this leads to all sorts of hilarious misunderstandings. Better luck next time!

YouTube Watch: Lookalike make-up tutorials

There are scores of tutorials on YouTube showing you how to ‘get the look’ of your favourite celebrity or fictional character. Everyone from Fern Britton to Ed Sheeran is there! Actually, no, I couldn’t find either of those. But here are the best of the rest:

How to look like Drake ?! A Make-up Transformation Very relaxing to watch, and very efficiently done. There’s nothing not to love about a drawn-on hairline and the issue of Drake’s ENORMOUS ARTHROPOD EYEBROWS is discreetly glossed over while they’re drawn on in MASSIVE STROKES. “Add a silver necklace if you wish, and the look is complete.” Lovely. 4/5

human centipede makeup tutorial First thing: lighting. Open the bloody curtains! Even the most crazed of Nazi doctors wouldn’t work in these conditions. Still, stitches are drawn on cheeks and she does her best to express the longueurs of a hard day tied up and eating shit: “You’re going to have to make your eyes all dark and scary, cos they’re really tired… make sure you put a lot of brown around your mouth.” Crying is simulated with drops of water on the face, and a LOT of make-up is used with results that to be honest aren’t that great. You could save money by literally smearing shit on your face, and then perhaps you’d cry for real. 2/5

Jessie J inspired lips – Do It Like a Dude Brevity’s to be applauded, right? Not on this occasion, no. In quick succession we see the finished result, a tube of lipstick and some rhinestones, and no consideration’s given to guiding us through the application process. The end titles crash in before the afterthoughtish drawling voiceover’s finished. And the lipstick’s not even black. 1/10

Angry birds makeup tutorial Less is more with this accomplished tutorial. Barely a word is spoken as we’re shown how to transform ourselves to take sides in the endless war between bird and pig. It’s tightly edited and all the steps are shown in a very clear visual way. But the best is yet to come. 3/5

Black Swan Makeup Tutorial I really like this girl. She starts in a lovely warm, softly spoken way, talking about being inspired by Natalie Portman. Then after applying foundation she suddenly announces “First I’m going to take some ecstasy so I can imagine Mila Kunis giving me head.” The best way to enjoy the rest of the surprises in this vid, as glowpinkstah gets further and further into character(s) is to watch the whole thing. Absolutely sensational. 5/5

Rat Swan

Black Swan was far and away my favourite film of 2011. And all the major critics agree: the only way it could possibly have been improved would have been to recast the lead roles with rats.

To finish off my review of 2011, I’ve made that dream a reality.