Movie: The Hunger Games


 

I’d vaguely heard about the books, just vaguely. In that I heard there were books.

So I’ve not been eagerly awaiting this film like much of the world seems to have. By the way, does the author get paid more if the film does super-well?

I only go as there’s nothing else I particularly want to watch and what started grimly actually has some humour so I’m pleasantly surprised after about 20 minutes. At first it felt like I was watching in monochrome and then someone remembered to switch on the colour. The story is of a future America, led by the president (Donald Sutherland) although it is not explained how the country got into a state in that the rich were rich and the poor were given jobs to do depending on what ‘district’ they lived in and they still had to hunt for food, starving. There’s clearly been some sort of unexplained war and/or rebellion/uprising.

We the audience are rooting for the two people, male and female, who are randomly selected from District 12 to fight in the Hunger Games, the annual national contest where everyone kills each other and there is only one victor. Thank heavens for Woody Harrelson who plays the good time mentor to District 12; having been a victor himself, he is now one of the privileged rich. The star of the show is a very camped up Stanley Tucci, playing the Hunger Games TV host, now on my very short list of actors that make any film watchable.

It’s better than I thought and had me gripped for about 70% of the film but I’m not in a rush to a. read the books or b. see the next one

7/10

Smile factor 5/10 – Just Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrellson

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Movie – The Fairy (La Fee)

Another film I may never have seen if it wasn’t for Flatpack Festival and it provided another excuse to visit the always quaint Electric cinema.

An excuse because, my Regular Reader will know, I’m a fully paid up member of Cineworld Unlimited card so it’s pointless paying £7 for a ticket at the Electric when I already pay for unlimited films but a film like this rarely shown at the mainstream cinema. And somehow more befitting in the oldest working cinema in the country.

In this film from Belgium/France, the fairy in question, Fiona turns up at a hotel to grant Dom, the hapless employee three wishes. Before he realises he’s falling for her, she’s in a mental institution and the hunt is on to find her and break her free.

Hence they are always on the run from the authorities, with their hearts in the right places and the humour continues.

There isn’t much dialogue, which saves me reading the sub titles, but this is a delightful, modern slap-stick comedy. Not one of my favourite genres and indeed they did go very over the top during a baby left on the car bonnet scene towards the end but nonetheless, a lovely watch.

7½/10 

Smile factor 7½/10

The Electric Cinema

Movie – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

This is another film that if you blink, you’ll miss it at your friendly, local, picture house.

One would think any film with Judi Dench in it is a) good and b) a hot ticket (although her being in it will not get me to see a Bond film, wild horses wouldn’t drag me, etc etc).

The film has a full array of Brit actors in their prime, all of which I feel the next generation or two can learn from.

The run-down ironically named Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is in desperate need of guests and advertises itself as a place for the ’retired and the beautiful.’ A group of disillusioned British strangers head over hoping to find meaning in what’s left of their life and partake in new adventures and inevitably make friends – or enemies. So far, the person with the funniest lines is Muriel (Maggie Smith), who is only going over in the short term to jump the NHS queue for a hip replacement and is gloriously an ignorant racist. It doesn’t take many marbles to work out she will be won over by India before the end of the film.

All the characters are in search of something but it’s only the judge, Graham (Tom Wilkinson) who knows what; his lost love of some 40 years ago, his first boyfriend.

The young – and possibly the most enthusiastic hotelier in the world – has his own woes with a domineering mother putting him under pressure to sell the loss-making, hotel left to the family by the father.

I love how the stories gently unfold and how the group started bonding and unlike some comments from Indian people I have seen, I think India is portrayed pretty well – remembering this is fiction! Of course a real hotel where even the phones didn’t work and there was layer of dust on unused furniture will not present itself open for business in a country known for its warm hospitality!

7½/10

Smile factor 9½/10

 

Movie – The Iron Lady

The hype is guaranteed to be huge when you take into account the subject matter, the star and the many gags about it being the follow up to The Iron Man.

It’s time to get up! It’s time go to work! It’s time to put the great, back into Great Britain!

I’m not sure why people haven’t enjoyed this film – I loved it. It’s everything I would hope and more. The subject matter is Margaret Thatcher but this isn’t a political film as such, although of course if you’re featuring one of Britain’s most successful Prime Minister’s, politics is going to feature.

I for one was not a fan of Mrs T in her day but having watched this, I realise this was probably peer pressure as I was too immature to form my own opinion during her early years. Now, politics aside, I see what a phenomenal woman she is.

Meryl Streep turned on the Oscar-worthy performance as the film depicts the story through Lady T’s matured eyes looking back on memories. As such, her thoughts dart about and I believe this has been the films’ biggest criticism. As always, I have no need to read reviews so this is just what I have heard via Twitter and indeed the people I saw the film with.

The pearls are absolutely non-negotiable

The most impact is felt when scenes of how Lady T broke the mould in what was – as much as I detest this phrase – a man’s world; her first time walking into parliament, the above quote when her advisors ask her to lose the hats and basically tone down her femininity, the young Margaret being mesmerised by her grocer father giving a speech, first fighting to be elected and then there are some gorgeous scenes of her talking to her dead husband, Dennis, played exactly as you would expect by Jim Broadbent, although the film probably draws on that a little too much.

I dislike too much ‘positive discrimination’ in the job market but it really does help if the country is being run by an equal amount of men and women and although we are far away from that, I’m pretty sure Maggie opened the doors.

The supporting cast are, in equal parts, excellent and amusing (Richard E Grant as Michael Heseltine). The film isn’t in chronological order and nor does it cover all of the many news worthy moments in her reign, but it sure depicts the woman behind the politician. I cringed at Phyllida Lloyd’s directorial attempt of Mama Mia, where she manages to make one of my all time favourite bands/theatrical moments, Mama Mia, dismal but here I have my money’s worth.

8½/10

Smile factor 9/10 In the minority

Movie – The Artist

The most amusing quote I’ve heard about this film, ‘they don’t make them like that anymore. Well no, we’ve had sound on films for some years now. This is, as many have commentated, a delightful film, full of humour whilst dealing with the more serious issue of redundant actors making way for the new breed once talkies came along.

It portrays the silent movie era exactly as I imagine; a bustling film industry full of wannabees, the small minority of which will move over from and ‘extra’ to ‘star.’ It’s on glamour overload but then I wasn’t expecting anyone to be wearing jeans & trainers (heavens!) and although I fell asleep for a few minutes in the opening sequences, it’s just because there is no talking and the music is so relaxing! After that, I’m gripped right up to the fairly obvious but still great ending.

It has lashings of charm, a helping of romance, a touch of drama and even a song a dance routine for our pleasure; what’s not to like?

I would have liked to see a new silent film set in more modern times rather than in the 1930s and I’m not sure if the makers can sustain another one but I’d give it watch if they do.

7½/10

Smile factor 9/10

 

Movie – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

I’ve never seen any of the three MI movies, or James Bond or the Bourne series for that matter – although I’ve caught bits of the latter on TV. I’m not a huge fan of the Cruise and yet the Last Samurai is one of my favourite films, so here goes.

It’s a standard albeit enjoyable flick with the usual spy-gadgets, impossibly glamorous spies in fast cars but with a few ridiculously dangerous stunts. The typical storyline is something like (I forget already) Ethan Hunt and his team are after a terrorist who has the codes for Russian (don’t they get fed up of always having to be the terrorists?) nuclear bombs but their first attempt ends in the Kremlin being blown up. Now the department that our hero worked for has closed so any missions ‘should he choose to accept’ are now dark, i.e. Ghost Protocol.

Cruise is supported by Jeremy Renner (who even I have heard of via the Hurt Locker) and Simon ‘boy done good’ Pegg. The stunts lived up to the hype and there are plenty of sequences to keep my brain from wondering although why anyone would choose to jump of the world’s tallest building is beyond me.

In all, an enjoyable but forgettable boys-with-their-toys film. Bring on 24; the Movie.

7½/10

Smile factor 8/10

Movie – Shame

I’m pleased I’m actually free to see this bloggers preview as generally there’s little notice and I’m already booked up. However, seeing as it’s a preview for bloggers to review, with less than a dozen people in the room, I wasn’t able to take occasional notes either using my phone or the torch pen I have especially for these events because another ‘reviewer’ objected and asked me to leave. I guess I’m the only reviewer that doesn’t have a photographic memory but here goes.

According to the brief, the main character is addicted to sex and his life is turned upside down when his sister arrives to stay.

I took that to mean that at least 50% of the film will be about his sister helping his recovery; what actually happens is his sister is no help whatsoever, a night club singer with her own low self esteem demons to deal with. So 95% of the film is as dull as dishwater with intimate close up coverage of the addict’s daily (or more) conquests. I have no idea why every women he looked point blank at immediately rose from their seat, be it on a train or any other public place and then stripped off to have sex with him, wherever.

I’ve wondered if you could be addicted to sex – I feel it’s just a matter of willpower as it is with other addictions. As a child, we want everything as we don’t control when we may get it again, i.e. sweets and chocolate. As an adult, we realise we mustn’t behave like that as we will hurt others and ourselves.

In almost every scene at home he’s naked and we are (mis-) treated to close ups of his dangly private parts which let’s face it, are not that attractive but especially not on a large screen.

I didn’t feel the film dealt with his issues at all, rather just focussed on his desperate longing for sex and indeed pleasuring himself several times a day. After all, there is no damage to him as he appears to enjoy a lucrative career despite being away from his desk many times due to the above mentioned activities. This character made me feel uncomfortable as I wondered how far he may do – other than turn to prostitutes occasionally – to feed his addiction.

If it dealt with his addiction at all, the film may have been saved. Avoid unless you are a hormonal young boy – or girl for that matter. Just don’t get addicted.

0.5/10 – there were some nice home interiors to look at

Smile factor 0/10