Saturday, 28 February 2015

A Laugh and a Good Look at Johnny Depp - It's time for Mortdecai

My latest review up on EVE is about heart-throb Johnny Depp's shady moustache-owning character Charles Mortdecai.

http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/02/23/mortdecai-a-film-review/

Monday, 23 February 2015

When the Villain makes it worth while

Over the weekend I continued watching Till We Meet Again, that lovely mini-series I spoke about in a previous post http://vintagehew.blogspot.com/2015/02/my-week-in-film-and-book-titles.html and which is based on a book which is now on my 'to read' list.
 
This time it was the second part. IMDB for some reason lists only two episodes for this title, even specifying that the actors take part in 2 parts. However this second instalment is on the first of the 2 DVDs that came in the box and the story very clearly announces 'to be continued' at the end of the session I am talking about. Clearly, there are one or two more episodes in the second disc (am guessing one given the total time given on the back of the DVD.)
 
So what is so special about this narrative? To start with, anything that manages to get me interested in world history must be a well-presented script given how uninterested I am in history as a rule. Somehow, setting believable people in 'time' intrigued me enough. This was not about the Jews being taken away from their family but about a particular one the viewer is interested in for him being a part of Delphine's (one of the main characters) life. This was not about a Frenchman who befriends the Nazis but about the Frenchman you've come to know (and would like to see changed) that stoops low enough even to SPOILER ALERT eventually kill off an innocent for getting in his way and assaulting his half-sister when she proves not to go along with his cruel plans.
 
What starts out as the story of a defiant young woman in the first part of this drama turns into the tale of the turmoil surrounding all that has become her world, diverging into the separate lives of her children and her step-son, who has a background all his own to excuse and account for just how much of a bastard he turns out to be.
 
Which brings me to the title subject. There is more than one villain in this piece, true. The Nazis contribute greatly to the story as seen through the eyes of the French and main character Eve's first lover is truly an unworthy choice. However, it is Hugh Grant that seems to me to make the best of the villains.
 
In his role as Bruno de Lancel, the Frenchman-turned-Nazi, he appears to pull off the atrocious part so well I was actually shocked. Don't get me wrong. I am more than a big fan of the man and I am on the side of those who think he can act but I don't believe any of his other villain roles I've seen were ever so over-all cruel and devoid of compassion. For even in An Awfully Big Adventure (http://vintagehew.blogspot.com/2014/09/an-awfully-big-adventure-1995.html) in which he plays the homosexual who exploits young men whilst appearing to scorn all those around him, there is a side to the character that pities the young newbie Stella and despite his dark intents also manages to befriend her uncle. There is no place for such pity in Bruno's part.
 
I concede that the first part of this story had been captivating as well as leaving enough questions unanswered to warrant viewing the following part. I must say though it had not given me the chill that this week's viewing did and I am more curious than ever to return to the third (and maybe final?) part for many reasons: Does Freddy (a woman, played by Courteney Cox) love her partner enough to make the right choice, or was her friend right in saying she'd married the wrong man for her? Will Delphine ever be reunited with the love-of-her-life who was also unfortunately for the time, a Jew? And more importantly, will Bruno change for the better? Because truly, his story is from the very first the best-developed plot of all and with the viewer having followed the man's life since he was a baby, I am sure not to be the only one who still blames his past and grandparents for his becoming what he is and hoping for his redemption as he could really make a man out of himself.
 
 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

My Week In Film and Book Titles

It's been a bit of a collage this week when it comes to what I've been watching, whilst the book I am currently reading is one that I have read twice already before but still never loses its allure.

Let's start with the book: I am going through The Blue Hour by Kate Thompson. It deals with a young woman, Madeleine, who is at the start seemingly bored out of her wits by her tiring and predictable life. Then one event changes that, forever. I will not be giving any more of it away except for maybe saying that it is a bad turn of events that lead her first into a pit of hurt and confusion and later give her the push she needs to start life anew, with added vigour and as the person who she's really wanted to be.

My viewing for this week includes some Big Bang Theory episodes which I slept through, if I must be honest! Also the choice film for this week was About Time, a Curtis creation starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams. You can find two articles that I've written about it here:



Meanwhile I watched the Season 3 Special episode of Downton Abbey, called 'A Journey to the Highlands'. I was so so disappointed at the end of it and not because the episode did not deliver its share of surprises. Rather, because SPOILER ALERT FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH: Downton Abbey's heir Matthew Crawley dies at the end. Whilst I never expected them to kill off Matthew, most especially not in this particular episode, I must admit that my trained mind noticed the signs leading to his accident in his repetitive tender moments with Mary where he kept repeating how much he loved her as well as the fact that, in an ecstasy of joy from the birth of his son, he goes to his car and drives along in too happy a state to last, given this is filming we're talking about. The pace of the car as it moves through the scene, together with a certain eerie music, gave it away to me. Then even more so the fact that the scene kept changing to the Abbey's drawing room or library it was, where Robert was saying just how happy he is he has followed Matthew's plan for the estate. All in all, something was bound to give.

This brings me to the last of my reviews for the day. A few months ago I bought the DVDs for Till We Meet Again, a mini series from 1989 based on a novel by Judith Krantz. I started watching it this week and the first episode quickly grabs the attention and hurls you straight into history... starting with 1913 France, on to the war and the trenches, later back in France and skimming the years as the main characters age and the life stories unfold. This series stars a very young Courteney Cox as well as Hugh Grant, who is obviously the reason why I bought this in the first place. I have yet to continue watching the rest of the story but I have to say it is intriguing enough to leave you thinking and wanting to watch more. Interesting to see Hugh Grant as a snobbish misinformed and embittered young man here, who even admires Hitler.

I must now leave you to attend to my very restless son, hoping I might have enticed you to watch or read the above-mentioned. I would also love to read your comments, most especially about the Downton Abbey special if you have seen it already.

Monday, 9 February 2015

My Take on 'Our Sons' (1991)

I am starting this post knowing I will be finishing another day. "Why?" you may ask.

I intend tonight to watch a Julie Andrews/Hugh Grant film called 'Our Sons' (1991), which I'd never seen before and only recently noticed in his very long filmography, whereupon I just had to buy it for my collection.

So anyways, I am here now to say what I think I expect out of the film, and returning on another day to state what actually was the outcome of my viewing.

Since the film stars Julie Andrews, one very big star in my opinion, I am hoping it is a good interpretation. I am already dreading the topic, however, since the story apparently deals with two gay young men who are in love (one of which is played by Hugh) and who are, if I got it right, both dying of AIDS. Which reminds me of Simon Callow, in an interview about 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' that happened ten years after the film had come out, in which he says how lovely it was of the film to feature a gay person who dies of something other than AIDS and commenting that most films seem to always attribute AIDS and death to gay characters in scripts. Well, it seems like this is one of them. Let's hope that Hugh's usually soft persona turns out credible in the role as I am afraid I might be in for a stereotypical script here. Am off now as otherwise can't be back with the verdict and to continue this post.
 
I am now back having seen the film. So first off, the plot. I seem to have been mistaken about the fact that both the 'boys' in the story are AIDS victims. One of them - Donald (Zeliko Ivanek) - is on his death bed suffering from lung cancer brought about, I understand, by his vulnerable health due to AIDS. His partner James (Hugh Grant), however, whilst caring for him to the end with a tender care that is quite touching, has no idea whether he too is HIV positive, simply because he's too terrified to get tested. The story revolves around how the two very different mothers of the sons take not only this difficult news but also come to terms with accepting their children, just as they are, and not loving them less for it. As I said earlier this was filmed right at the turn into the nineties and hopefully nowadays this kind of scenario might be less frequent though I am sure that many parents still find it difficult to accept reality when it veers off the course they expect it to take.
 
After having viewed the film, I am now in a better position to comment on Simon Callow's viewpoint on the matter of associating gays with AIDS in most films of the time. Callow is right in thinking it can't be the only thing to attribute to homosexual people, who in my opinion despite being in a minority should still have lives as full and full of love as other people regardless. However I understand also where the film is coming from. If I understood right, the story is inspired by a documentary called 'Too Little, Too Late' and is a project in awareness (I don't mean of HIV contraction but rather of people's perception and time lost in tiffs and squabbles between parents and children about the subject).

Considering we are talking about a film shot twenty-five years ago I would consider it very well-made (and the acting is very good - to be honest given Hugh's self-deprecation at his more serious acting I was amazed at his flawless performance here and I am not talking from a fan point of view as much as an analytical one).
 
This one was a film shot for TV and never made it to the cinemas, so that might partly explain why there is so little info about it, even on Wikipedia. However for those that want a more formal synopsis than the one I provided, here's the IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102613/
 
I concede this is not something to watch over and over (though personally I might just do that for the sake of Grant's spot-on acting) but unless you're the kind to shy away from anything that is too true to life's hardships I do suggest grabbing this one from your rental shop. If like me, you are a mother, you're going to be a better mum for the watching.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

What I Want, What I Love and What I'm Good At

It will have to be another short one today as I have been too swamped to watch any film to review on here (well unless I count the pre-release screenings I've been attending at my country's sole film releasing agent but those are work-related and www.eve.com.mt will get an exclusive from me for them so won't be revealing anything on here). Don't worry, each article will be linked on here once it is published but not before. Meanwhile what I can say is that my reviews for EVE are usually commercially oriented and I do have to stick to a word limit so eventually when I put together an appreciation of the film it will be a totally different thing, more analytical and more to this blog's usual style. But do click on the links, my works on EVE still reflect my personal opinions about filming and are an indication of whether you should/should not see something (well obviously it is then always up to you to decide at the end of it but my job is to present the good and the bad, at least what is imo the good and the bad.)

I said this was going to be short and then went off on a tangent instead! Back to today's topic. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. This has been brought about by the fact that I have never been as swamped in my life with work (I mean work work, not housework, mothering etc). As a result I had to take some decisions, some of import and some less so. The point is, I for example had to give up my 'business' selling unique hand decorated votive candles that I was designing myself (I also used to do unique Christmas tree decorations). I used to love doing them before, and looking online for new embellishments and seeing to always having stock on hand. It was lovely to see a creation being born in my hands and they were truly beautiful, if I may say so myself. Only the bumpy business side to it meant I was spending long hours doing something for practically nothing and I wasn't even enjoying it any more as sticking to deadlines always takes that away from you. In between that and the fact that shops have been either not making the effort to sell them else cheating me out of money or even in one case removing my brand tags and stickers from the items (without advising me) to avoid that anyone should refer to me directly instead of through the shop for further purchases, it's been one ugly experience trying to deal with shop keepers though I did have response from customers and they were selling (as long as they were keeping them on view that is!)

Anyways, back to today's title. My 'Creating Beauty' venture is therefore now closed and it is because a) I do not want the hassle any more or the long hours working on items that were yielding nothing back apart from the satisfaction b) I am now doing what I love best i.e. writing for a job (albeit only freelancing whilst still keeping my office job and this directly affecting any time I previously would have allocated to Creating Beauty) and c) I am good at both the writing and the decorating but for example despite thinking how much I'd love to be able to bake nice edible things I don't find myself attracted to baking as such though I have done the odd cake or batch of cupcakes with good results.

What am I trying to say? There are only twenty-four hours in a day and despite how many things we might dream of trying to like, it is useless to spend time on something (obviously other than chores and work that are a necessity) unless it's what you really want to be doing. I am the happiest when I am writing and so, I will write :-)