Sunday, 27 February 2011

Oscar Fever

So, after months of 'lesser' award ceremonies the big gun is finally here: the Academy Awards take place tonight in America, and Natalie could be about to win one of those sought after golden statues.

I'm pretty nervous, as a typical fangirl everything that happens to Natalie also happens to me. And this would be like coming first in a race, the actors' equivalent of winning the world championship if she picks up the Best Actress award tonight. Materially, publicly, it's the best thing that could happen to her in her career - what every other actor out there dreams of achieving. I would be ridiculously embarrassingly proud, and may even cry. I do tend to cry a lot when my favourite people show everyone else just how amazing I know them to be.

Even though she's red hot favourite to win, this culturemouse will not be counting any chickens. She was favourite to win back in 2004 after picking up the Golden Globe her for role in Closer but the Oscar went instead to Cate Blanchett (The Aviator). It's definitely the older actresses in the category she has to watch out for - no disrespect to Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams, I'm sure their time will come - but Annette Bening and Nicole Kidman are both strong contenders and Academy darlings, although Kidman has picked up the statue before so Bening is the bigger threat. It keeps getting whispered about "perhaps her time has come".

This is Natalie's best ever chance to win. It's extremely unlikely a role like Black Swan will ever come around again - strong scripts and everlasting characters will no doubt surface, but she has poured so much of herself into this role that just cannot be repeated. A lot of people believe she deserves it too, and there is so much going in her favour: her age, the role, her reputation, her campaign, the fact she's about to become a mother (yes, they probably do take this into consideration). But nothing comes easily in this business and my nails are already bitten down to the quick.

I'll be blogging as the awards go out live, so please join me if you're up - it's 1am over here on a Sunday night so it positively sucks. But of course, not if there's something to grin about at the end of the show :-)

00:20:  Armed with a cup of tea and ready to go. Apparently Natalie is wearing Rodarte - looking forward to seeing her dress!

00:26  Amy Adams looking gorge but pale pink/red is the colour of choice it seems. Jesse Eissenberg looks like he needs a hairwash!

0030:  HA - AP's Red Carpet harpy totally had to be told who Christian Bale was. "who's that bearded man?"

00:42  God damn it, where is she?!

00:44  Loving Helena Bonham Carter's cheeky garter

00:50:  Christian Bale and Robert Downey Jnr chinwagging on the Red Carpet and causing a blockage

00:53:  Oh balls, I thought this was going to finish around 3am - now it's looking more like 4.30am. I'm going to have a long day today...

00:55:  NATALIE HAS ARRIVED! She is looking beautiful in purple. Photo stat.

01:13:  Here she is:

01:17:  She's hardly looking pregnant at all! So lovely. She has amazing earrings on as well, I'll see if I can get a pic later.

01:21:  10 minutes before the show starts - off to get more tea.

01:30:  Aaaaaaand we're off!

01:36:  This Anne Hathaway/James Franco Inception skit is cracking me up. She just danced the "brown duck"!

01:42:  Oh James Franco's face

01:45:  Tom Hanks presenting the first award: Best Art Direction

01:46:  And Alice In Wonderland wins the first Oscar!

01:48:  And now Best Cinematography.

01:49: goes to Inception.

01:54:  BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS! (That was quick!) I'm rooting for miss Hailee Steinfeld, how amazing if she won! But all signs point to Melissa Leo...

01:59:  Jeez, Kirk Douglas is a hoot isn't he? Talk about suspense! Best Supporting Actress goes to Melissa Leo.

02:02:  ugh what an awful speech! I think Kirk Douglas should have kept going!

02:04:  Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake (Banksy, apparently) are presenting Best Toy Story 3, I mean, er, Animated Film.

02:20:  argh, lost my stream! Think we're back now. Hope I haven't missed anything...

02:25:  Oh my, James Franco as Marilyn's far too late.

02:27:  Best Foreign Language Film. COME ON DOGTOOTH!!

02:28:  Oh sad, it went to Susanne Bier's new film In A Better World

02:31: Reese Witherspoon is here, and it's time to find out who's Best Supporting Actor. Geoffrey Rush, fingers crossed!

02:34:  Nope, it's beardy Christian Bale

02:42:  Best Musical Score goes to The Social Network (pft, should have been Black Swan)

02:47:  Still not getting James Franco's face at all.

02:48:  Now she's presenting an award (Best Sound Mixing - Inception) I am reminded of how beautiful Miss Scarlett is looking tonight:

02:51:  Best Sound Editing also went to Inception. That's 3 awards now.

02:57:  Now Make Up and Costume Design. They go to: The Wolfman (insert your own jokes here) and Alice In Wonderland respectively.

03:03:  (0300?! - eek). And now Best Song. WAIT WHAT? They're going to perform every single nomination? uhhhhhhhhh. Don't these people know I have work in the morning?

03:09:  Oh, they performed two and then got bored. Best Documentary next!

03:16:  Oh no, some short film awards first.

03:22:  Gah, streaming issues again. But Inside Job has just won Best Documentary Feature.

03:32:  Still having major issues. Inception has just won Best Visual Effects. It's not much fun watching at the mo...

03:35:  Best Film Editing goes The Social Network. 

03:47:  Sigh. Still not fun. Best Song has been awarded to Toy Story 3.

04:02:  Best Director goes to Tom Hooper for The Kings Speech! First big surprise of the night.



04:21:  Aww bless her, she just thanked literally everyone who worked with her on Black Swan. I'm very proud. And my stream came back just in time, too! 

04:25:  And now Best Actor...

04:27:  ...goes to Colin Firth for his absolutely brilliant performance in The King's Speech and a thoroughly well deserved win, too.

04:31:  And now what we've all been waiting for... oh no wait, that's been. Go on, let's see who wins Best Picture. The Social Network vs. The King's Speech, surely?

04:37:  The King's Speech has won Best Film at the Academy Awards - along with Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor. Congratulations! The night definitely belongs to them.

04:40:  Right, I really need to get a few zzz's now folks, but I shall leave you with Natalie's acceptance speech for Best Actress and follow up more coherently later today. OH MY GOD SHE WON, HUZZAH!!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


You can never go wrong with the Coen Brothers. I think everybody has their favourite (culturemouse's is No Country For Old Men), but whatever you secretly favour you can't dispute the sheer class and quality of such a film. They truly are a modern tour de force of cinema - a style of filmmaking (and humour) so unique it can't pass by anyone unnoticed. They sell tickets. What a shame then that by its enjoyment and impressiveness alone True Grit doesn't feel so obviously part of the Coens showcase catalogue.

It's a proper Western, no doubt about that - a genre I never really knew I liked until sitting through The Assassination of Jesse James and the aforementioned No Country For Old Men in succession a few years ago. The Western symbolised an infuriating drone on a Sunday afternoon, in the cocoon of a room with the lingering dread of Monday morning school just around the corner (I hated Sundays until I discovered fast cars). It's also a genre I associate only with dads, because that's just how it is, a stereotypical truth. And True Grit is actually a re-make of one of those such Westerns - the 1969 version with star cowboy at the time, John Wayne which in turn was an adaptation of the Charles Portis novel about a young girl who sets out to avenge her father's death by seeking out his murderer in the wild and killing him - with the help of a couple of ego-clashing marshalls.

It's powered by this great story - and aided by so many great touches which elevate the action sequences: the strangely charged relationship between LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) and Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld); the petty squabbling and chidlike behaviour of the adults, the way the man villain Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) is actually pretty incompetent, and a whiny pitiful character. These things actually work in favour of the Coens, who never take anything as predictable and straightforward - they like their little quirks, and make sure to include those mentioned in the books whilst flying free with some of their own. But the action is just as good - nail biting stand offs, double crossing, fighting the environment around them - the whole thing just zooms by while you're sat immersed in the drama unfolding.

It's also heavily character driven - and each one is a joy. Jeff Bridges, back with the Coens after The Big Lebowski goes from the Dude to the Duke, and is brilliant to watch in his drunken stupors, his rambling arguments, and his wry sense of humour - one of the best scenes of the film has to be him proving himself a decent shot while drunk to LaBoeuf as he throws food clumsily up in the air and swings his gun haphazardly yet still managing to blindly hit the mark with remarkable precision. Josh Brolin and Matt Damon are also good in their respective roles - Damon particularly boyish in his Texas Ranger boasting. Hailee Steinfeld is the star of the show however, astonishingly good for her age and acting the part with so much charisma, strength and an authentic vulnerability. Her bond with the Duke is particularly enjoyable to watch, and the pay-off and emotional climax at the end is very satisfying.

But just as things as going so nicely it ends on rather a nothing note. The epilogue takes away all of that satisfaction and leaves you feeling slightly unmoved by the whole experience. There's something I can't put my finger on - because it's very funny and easy on the eye - that is distinctly un-Coen-esque about the film which means it falls more into the traditional Western genre than standing out as something a bit different. It doesn't have that special something that No Country For Old Men carried establishing it as a classic of its time. Perhaps its because they are stuck within the parameters of a novel and can't fully stretch their legs.

Thoroughly entertaining, and Hailee Steinfeld is quite a find - she'll be making a big name for herself in the future (and already as an Academy Award nomination under her belt). But True Grit is not the Coens' best, and the high expectations are stilted somewhat. Still, a must-see at the cinema, and actually, a great way into the offbeat world of the Brothers if you've yet to meet them in a dark auditorium before.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


As if you couldn't tell from my fairy tale piece earlier, I love Disney. And as much as I value Pixar and all the delights it has given me over the years (Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Up) I was thrilled when John Lasseter moved back over to the  magical castle and announced Disney was going back to its roots. The first baby of this was last year's The Princess and The Frog, which though very new in some ways felt like a classic Disney picture. I liked it a great deal, but have not felt the urge to revisit it. The next arrival is Tangled, Disney's first outing in 3D, and whilst this is a trendy and forgettable feature, the film is absolutely not.

Once named 'Rapunzel' but re-branded as Tangled to attract the boys (I don't know why, it's full on cute) the story has been eked out from the original Brothers Grimm tale into a tight, well constructed plot that balances the action with the romance. Rapunzel is born a princess to a King and Queen, and blessed with magical golden hair thanks to a flower remedy which helped to cure her mother when she was sick. But the flower had been the possession of a wicked old lady called Mother Gothel (I feel I need to write the blurb in the style of a children's bedtime story...), who used the powers to keep her immortally young. Now with no source for her vanity she steals the child and imprisons her in a heavily veiled tower in the middle of a forest and brings her up as her own child, Rapunzel's long flowing locks able to restore her youth once more. The King and Queen are distraught at their loss, and every year on their daughter's birthday the whole kingdom releases lanterns into the sky as a reminder of their missing princess. Rapunzel grows up in the tower, her 'mother' refusing to let her visit the outside world. She is a slave to her hobbies, talks only to a frog and is becoming increasingly drawn to the lanterns outside her window and what they mean. Then one day a chance encounter with runaway thief Flynn Rider offers her the chance of a dream come true: to escape the tower and see the lanterns for herself.

Tangled feels like the last 20 years of Disney's catalogue has been erased, and this follows on from the genius of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin (yes, argue The Lion King all you want, but it WASN'T a fairy tale and it was about ANIMALS). Part of that is down to the returning presence of studio musical legend Alan Menken, who composed the songs for the golden three above. Whilst The Princess and the Frog was all about the smooth jazzy grooves of New Orleans, Tangled is very much back in fantasy land with songs to match - hilarious ensemble pieces such as 'I've Got A Dream', soaring individual numbers like Rapunzel's 'When Will My Life Begin', and jaunty menacing tunes - 'Mother Knows Best'. They're not show stealers, but then again, were the likes of Belle, Part of Your World and Prince Ali when we first heard them? Probably not.

The film also reminded me countless times of those 'golden three': Beauty and The Beast in the Snuggly Duckling, Aladdin when Flynn is escaping the palace guards, The Little Mermaid cannot fail to appear in people's minds when Flynn and Rapunzel are on the boat leaning in for a first kiss as the lanterns swoop around them.

But better than the music is the script which is just flat out terrific. It captures all the charm and schmaltz of a Disney love story, with the whip smart dialogue of Pixar - and amazingly it comes from the team behind Bolt! Who knew they had this sort of potential in them? (Granted writer Dan Fogelman also wrote Cars, but the directing team - definitely Bolt) So funny - the kind of funny that appeals to kids and adults alike. And not just visual gags: Rapunzel's ups and downs as she excels in freedom and then feels horribly nasty to have left her mother was just priceless! Maximus - part horse part dog - was absolutely hilarious too in his bickering with Flynn - so gruffly obnoxious!

Flynn (Zachary Levi) and Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) were just the perfect couple as well - though at times I thought Flynn came across as a little effeminate and annoying, he actually reminded me of Aladdin in quite a lot of ways - a puffed up version of himself hiding the genuine heart underneath. But Rapunzel was sweet and spirited and an utter treat all the way through (the girl always seems to outshine the guy in a Disney film). But the best character? Mother Gothel. For once a truly, truly evil and scary villain which takes us back to the black magic of Maleficent and the cruel stepmother in Snow White (though she reminded me of Ursula from The Little Mermaid the most). There were some scenes where she was even on the verge of making me jump, I can't imagine how a poor little tyke might feel! And watching it as an adult also allowed me to tap into the much darker tones of the film: child abduction, imprisonment, blackmail - of course it will all work out fine in the end, but as it's going on it still makes you squirm in your seat a little bit. What a glorious baddie.

There were parts which were a little eye-rolling: the secret suns in all of her paintings! When Flynn cuts off her magical hair so she can be free and it falls into a perfect choppy bob! (I did love that though) But all in all it was nothing you couldn't expect from Disney, and the "you're my dream now" - sob, sob, sob. It was also very upsetting when the King and Queen shed tears before they release the lanterns, and I had to hold it together when they're reunited at the end. There's something about the way the studio can tap into your most base, childhood insecurities and fears and open up the floodgates. Tangled does this perfectly, yet still manages to end on a giggle: "and after many many years of asking, I finally said yes," quips Flynn Rider.

Already I want to go and see it again. The 3D element - apart from the lanterns scene - once more failed to live up to the price, but on DVD this is going to remain a fantastic, family film. If you're a bit of an overgrown child like myself you've probably already watched and loved Tangled, but for all the cynics out there who think this is just another run of the mill animation - THINK AGAIN.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

MUSIC REVIEW: a1 'Waiting For Daylight'

I thought I'd start a new tradition for the blog this year and review an album or two! I'm not one of these people who are really into their music - I used to be, but to be honest (and boring) I quite like the silence these days. But occasionally something will come along that I will have to sit up and pay attention to - usually when one of 'my people' release a new record (see Imogen Heap, Darren Hayes, Tori Amos, Band of Horses). But this is a bit of a turn up for the books. This is the new album from a1, who made up 'my people' back when I was a teenager. I should probably review this as my a1 alter ego, "Norwegian Waffles"...

Mark, Christian, Paul, and Ben
It's difficult to comprehend how much a1 took up my time back when I was around 15. Not only was it the music and the boys themselves, but it was the community that went with it: a1-online, the Smash Hits forums, fanfiction (actually a1 fanfiction was my life for about three years). I've met some of my closest friends through a1, and the actual irony is I never got to see them live as a foursome. I saw Ben, Christian and Mark play a small gig in a Norwegian Church in London in the days before their demise (sob) but I never got to see Paul, which makes me really sad as in hindsight he was the best one. By a mile.

Now - with the reuniting of so many bands lately - a1 have decided to get back together (still without Paul) and 'Waiting For Daylight' is their new, and fourth, album. This piece of news should have had me squeeing down the streets, but too much time has passed now for me to get overwhelmingly giddy about having them back again. In fact it was my sister who got hold of this album (it's currently only available in Norway), so she's a far better fan than I will ever be! But of course I had to have a listen. And after initial grumblings - I will get onto these - half of it is actually very good, by ex-boy band standards. A couple of the songs are excellent. It makes me smile, and I half wonder, if they do make a go of things over here in the UK, if the fangirl deep within will surface again...

Emerging from the ocean like mermen!

Here's my track by track review:

It Happens Every Day: this is one of my favourite songs on the album, and is a strong opener. I spend a lot of my time these days working on a TV show inside my head (don't ask), although I have always been deeply interested in fic songs used in the media (I'll come onto the term 'fic' in a later blog entry). This has a very 'fic' feeling to it, and I think that's mostly down to the gospel choir and dramatic keyboard. It's very catchy and even though I haaaaate the Queen-esque guitar riffs that cheapen the song (these would have to be removed if ever used in my TV show) it's a song I can easily listen to, as a part of the album or on a general playlist.

Don't Wanna Lose You Again: one of the more boring 'ballads' on the album, it's surprising their challenge to represent Norway in the Eurovision song contest last year was propelled by this song's success on the radio. It's mind-numbing, and with very cheesy lyrics - "like a star, it's so hard to reach you..." It has a distinct whiff of the Ingebrigtsen about it but is worsened by Ben's whiny voice.

In Love And I Hate It: it's this song and I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! It just doesn't make any bloody sense: 'I wanna be with you but I'm love and I hate it!" - well, go become a monk then. This is one of the songs they have actually 'released' as a single, and you can watch some of the performances of it - if you were so inclined - on YouTube. Ben pumping his hand in the air makes me want to kill things. The edit is all very 90s as well, with the song fading out to silence and then BOOM! starting back up again on a long drawn out chorus. "Sometimes I feel spineless, I can't stand up straight" - are they for real with this utter balls?

Bad Enough: another one of my favourites! It's very poppy, and it contains the phrase "crying out loud" which is amazing! But the best thing about this song by far is the way it makes me want to change all of the lyrics so I'm singing about coats. I have no idea how this happened, but I blame it on listening to it in the freezing cold weather. I'm doing quite well with my re-write, look (but don't sing): "but freezing away isn't the way, so if you want warming up, get yourself a brand new coat. Ohhh, freezing away isn't the way, if you want warming up, get yourself a brand new coat... if you want to button up. If you wanna but, if you wanna but, if you wanna button up!" Oh and, "Freezing to death...? We can find a solution!" I'm working on something to do with the line about it "going with your shoes" at the moment. Any more ideas, send them on a postcard! I bloody love this song and the way it cheers me and makes me dance with buttons.

Nothing In Common: MY FAVOURITE SONG OF THE YEAR EVAH"photographs in a cardboard BOX remind me I can't turn back the CLOCKS, so far now from the starting BLOCKS, I still don't know what this key UNLOCKS" - it's quite fun trying to guess what the next line's going to be. Probably not great from an artistic point of view, but who CARES when this could be the greatest pop song they've ever recorded. There must be CCTV cameras full of me singing and dancing like a loon at half 7 in the morning on the empty Leeds Uni campus as I walk to work. My only quibble is the ending is poor - it stops in a very measly way, compared to the fun ride that goes before it. I'm perfecting my dance for the tour, and it may involve plastic boat props. "We dance, we fall, we lose it all."

Take You Home: this is a very, very funny one because initially I hated it: out of the whole album it's probably the most dated, and the lyrics are incredibly cheesy: who sings about a radio anymore? Lolly? It also weirdly makes me think of a zombie apocalypse, with the line "and it's safe to go, I heard it on the radio"(oh!-oh!-oh-oh! - gotta love the Mark Read). I really did hate this at first but it's grown on me, alarmingly. It has the ability to cheer me up no end on a dreary morning. The music is great, and it's so upbeat, so very a1. In fact this is how I feel about most of the album: the lyrics are stuck in the 90s, but the music manages to be very catchy and often drives the song. Take You Home is a prime example of that.

Six Feet Under: wooooooo another favourite, it's the toothbrush song! It's an amazing electronic extravaganza - I actually love Ben's high pitched squeal on this, even the echoey 'ohs' of the instrumental middle. The potential for dancing with a toothbrush with choreographed moves in this song is enormous. It kind of feels like a1, and then it feels like nothing else they've ever done before. I love it, and hate only that it's criminally short. And needs a punchier ending.

Good Things Bad People: we don't talk about this song. It's hideous. Every part of it. Worst thing they've ever done, and the most pointless bag of nonsense I've ever heard. How they can follow up a delicious slice of pop with this drivel is beyond me. NEXT!

Perfect Disaster: for me this is the 'forgotten' song on the album, but not necessarily bad. When I was first listening to the album and assessing every song for its good and bad merits, this is the one song where I physically missed Paul. There's one part of the song which would have been perfect for his voice, and sounds wrong hearing Ben. There are other parts where it has the potential to be amazing but then the lyrics and rigid rhyming structure let it down. Better off as a Christian solo single.

The Life That Could Have Been: not classically a ballad but this falls into the 'love song' category. It's a proper story song, and with its lovely music and shifts in tone and vocals it's one of my absolute favourites on the album (even though I don't want to imagine what the child I had with Ben Adams would look like *shudder*) I love the run into the section where the female voice comes in (even though it's Ben girlf, ugh) - she has a very light, pretty voice. There's so much that could be done with the dramatic staging of this song, and the storyline for the video. I wouldn't go so far to say it's a fic song, but it's definitely my soft spot on the album.

Out There: some of the lyrics on this album are very dated, but some of the ones featured here are old fashioned to the point of archaic findings: "cut the cord and shoot the breeze*" - WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! Despite all the wordy nonsense it's actually a lovely little song, even with the unflattering doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-do-do-do-doo-doo bits that make you want to dance like it's the 60s. It's the pick yourself up, plenty more fish in the sea song that has a place on every 90s boyband portfolio.

*after reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld I now know what this means. "What were you guys talking about?" "Oh nothing much, just shooting the breeze." et, voila. Cut the cord I'm just at a loss with, though. Babies?

Waiting For Daylight: the big ballad and namesake of the album. I just don't buy into this - I can't honestly believe this is a real emotion/experience that one of them have gone through, therefore it lacks conviction and emotional vulnerability. And it's that bloody rhyming again - "there's no use in crying, there's no point denying..." ugh. And just when you think the blandness has finished they stick a two minute instrumental onto the end of it like it's a bloody epic. NO. An epic is a story, an epic is a Darren Hayes song about loving someone and then travelling on a plane to go and see them and they've gone. This is just mush. Although the instrumental is beautiful and it's the best that birds at the end when daylight comes? Get them a Grammy!

You can buy Waiting For Daylight here, and I think the price conversion from euros is pretty favourable. For a1, anyway. And you can see them live at a Norwegian city near you on the listings here. Expect to see them in the UK soon, and that person waving a toothbrush around near the stage? That'd be me.

FILM REVIEW: How Do You Know

I rarely use the term "well there's two hours of my life I'll never get back", but then again I've never had the chance to wonder what the ceiling of the Vue cinema in The Light looks like before - it's sort of a lit-up grid pattern that would fit nicely into a Tron film. All of this from going to see How Do You Know last week - an experience that shouldn't take me too long to recount here.

It's a bitty, rambling film; figuring out what it wants to say as it goes, and then not coming to much of a conclusion. To describe what happens during the film would take me half a day. Quickly: the story focuses on Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) who at the age of 31 has just been cut from her athletics team, and George (Paul Rudd) a businessman who is about to be investigated for fraud and put on trial by the US Government. Both are unlucky in love: Lisa's career has meant she meets and dates very few guys, and is currently trying to make a go of things with millionaire baseball star Matty (Owen Wilson). George meanwhile is about to get dumped by the girl he really likes due to the troubles at his firm, which may or may not have something to do with his father (Jack Nicholson). Randomly - this film is big on the nonsensical - the two of them go on a date, which goes horrifically badly, but then keep running into each other and become friends. Then friends with feelings. And then there's a big emotional climax at the end (if this is running similar to my Morning Glory recap, then trust me, it's nowhere near as good).

I think I'll approach this review with some scissors and some glue:
  • Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING with Jack Nicholson/the fraud investigation/the meetings with business partners and lawyers, all needed to be cut out. Tedium has reached new heights. It flitted back and forth between George's life, and then Lisa's, I couldn't wait for Reese Witherspoon to come back on the screen. The only purpose to it seemed to be the moral dilemma offered up towards the end of the film as to who should go to jail for the crime, who's life would end up most in the gutter? But it's not as if you ultimately cared: it wasn't a touching, relatable father-son connection that would be difficult to break. Who cares which one went to jail? Who cares if there's a way to fix it? Yawwwwwwn. Paul Rudd was likable enough in the role but desperately needed a better story/situation. 
  • Reese Witherspoon was adorable, but her character was just a mess. When she discovers what kind of person Matty is after having slept with him the night before, she storms out of the flat, then storms back in again and apologises for being so rude and judgemental. It's fresh, I'll give you that. I also hated the scene where she gets cut from the team, and all of her friends and teammates come round to rally round her - 30 people sat in her flat cheering and applauding as she finds the courage to move on with her life. Bleurgh. I may have mentioned this before in a review, but I really dislike characters where you're forced to admire them rather than realising it for yourself by watching their actions. Bad, bad writing.
  • Morally repellent as he was Owen Wilson was probably the most lovable character. He was an absolute twat, but he had the funniest lines and was the most consistent in his behaviour and personality. Of course he wasn't going to end up with Lisa at the end, and didn't deserve to, but his misguided patheticness meant he wasn't the cookie-cut bad guy.
  • The dialogue was awful to the point where it didn't seem to flow at all, and you felt so frustrated from not being able to quite grasp the conversation or its point that you wanted to throw something at the screen.
  • It was soooooooo lonnnnnnnnnnnnng. I had to keep checking the time on my phone several times (something else I never do) and couldn't believe it was still going with no sign of let up. Aren't these throwaway romances supposed to be an hour and a half long? 121 minutes this dragged on for. So many scenes could have been left on the editing room floor. 
  • It was cynical and it was contrived. When George's assistant has her baby and he goes to visit her in hospital with Lisa and is witness to her marriage proposal, coming after Lisa has blurted out that she doesn't want kids or to be a wife, watching her face change as she realises the 'beauty' of being part of a family and being loved by another person so completely makes you want to throw up everywhere. With extra gagging.
  • "How do you know when you're in love?" was its point, but there is nothing to be said about love here. Everything that happens, and everything within the film is on some hyperreal universe: you could never relate to these characters, as nothing they do is ordinary or typical to life. It has potential - they could have pushed the 30 year old woman who doesn't want to follow life's normal path story a lot further, but instead they passed it off a mid-crisis whim. Of course she wants to get married and have kids - who doesn't right? Nothing feels genuine or authentic, although the play-doh scene was nice. Didn't make me cry, though.
All in all this film is my fault. I saw the trailer and thought it looked good, and Reese Witherspoon has never let me down before. She's one of cinema's best leading ladies at this type of role, nothing she does can fail as she is so warm, funny and spirited. But the film has been a major flop both here and over in America, and I haven't seen it receive more than two stars. I wanted to buck the trend and point out what they were missing, but within the first 20 minutes I knew things were decidedly ropey. I contemplated walking out, but I'm not the type: even though I don't care, it still bugs me not knowing how it turns out.

How Do You Know is long gone from cinemas now, and there's too much wrong with it to re-discover it on DVD or television in a few years and really enjoy it. So don't bother seeking it out. As the two girls who walked out of the screen before me so bluntly put it, "that was shit!" I'll learn my lesson next time.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Through The Grater 11.2


One of my picks, Like Crazy, has won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Congratu-ma-lations! It's not too surprising as the reviews have been overwhelmingly fawning. Its main female star Felicity Jones picked up the Jury Prize too (I thought Elizabeth Olsen had secured that after the praise she's been getting for Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene but that film did pick up Best Director). Another Earth (culturemouse pick), Circumstance, Kinyarwanda and Happy Happy were also recognised in the Dramatic categories. The full list of award winners can be found here. Very happily for me, to.get.her won the Best of NEXT Audience award, meaning it rated the best with cinema goers in its fledgling category, so that's great news. The reviews were fairly mixed I have to say (The Hollywood Reporter tore it apart), but many have also seen the potential in it. It's yet to secure a distributor, but the award win should really help its cause. You can see views on this year's festival hits and misses over here, and over here. Get pencillin'.

Another bit of film festival news - Woody Allen's new romance Midnight in Paris will open this year's Cannes Film Festival. The film, which has actually dodged my radar, stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates, and er, Carla Bruni. He's really doing the travelogue rounds with his films, isn't he?

Rose Byrne's new film is Bridesmaids, out in June. It looks painful.

There'll be a better trailer later on, don't worry.

There's been a revolving door amongst my favourite TV shows lately:

  • A couple of regulars are leaving 90210, although I'm intrigued about this as it means they are doing a full-on college season next year...assuming it gets picked up again. College is always better than high school - let's just hope they actually show the characters there as opposed to the beach, people's houses, cafes, the beach club, etc, etc.
  • Chris Messina will be joining Damages next season, playing an old school friend of Ellen's. He's not an actor I've seen a lot of, but he'll add a bit of eye-candy to the cast at least.
  • CHARLIE COX IS GOING TO BE IN BOARDWALK EMPIRE! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Every time I watch Stardust (and is fairly frequently) I fall a little bit more in love with Charlie Cox. Problem is he doesn't do very much, not on television anyway, so the fact that he's signed up as a recurring character in Season 2 means I better get caught up on this new HBO immediately! At times like this I wish I had Sky...
  • And two old faces are back on Supernatural. They're both pretty big characters, so it's bound to have an influence on the upcoming 'souls' arc (*stifles a yawn*). One of them I'm intrigued to see how they bring them back at all, as the last time we saw them they were pretty much finito. Although I should know well by now that nobody stays dead on Supernatural.

Carrying on with Supernatural (which starts up again tomorrow after it was shifted back another week by the CW) producer Sera Gamble has given an interview, dropping hints on a couple of the new episodes we can expect to see in the second half of season 6. One of them involves the wild, wild West and another involves Misters Jared and Jensen themselves... literally themselves. Are they old hand enough to try this yet?

And a bit of music news to end on - the UK's act for Eurovision has been confirmed: and it's ancient annoying boyband Blue. I may not have mentioned on culturemouse before but I LOVE Eurovision - I'm one of those people who actually print out the scorecards from the BBC website and mark each performance and then draw up my top 5 to cheer on when the results are being announced... yes, one of those. So I'm a little pissed off that the act I'm automatically supposed to root for is this unappealing. At least let it be someone I've never heard of before - shite or not - to be apathetic about, not a group whom I have history of hating very much (it's the a1 in me). So, another country from the off this year. Come on, Slovenia!

Now to close with a perverted, murderous tyre called Robert.