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It’s that time of the month again.  Having only posted twice in August, September is here already and it’s time to look back at the films I watched last month.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: Tom Cruise is back for the fifth instalment of the franchise.  Whilst each of the other films had its own identify, or to be more precise the identity of their directors  this film draws its identity from within, from the earlier films.  The franchise has found it character the way Bond did with Goldfinder.  Any flimsiness in the plot is forgotten as it is so much fun.  The standout is relative newcomer Rebecca Ferguson.Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Fantastic Four: After a fantastic debut with Chronicle Josh Trank was the obvious choice to reboot the Fantastic Four.  Or was it too obvious, is the origin story too close to his first feature?  With the director disowning the film before its release, it was never going to be good, but it isn’t as bad as the critical pounding suggests.  The cast is good and give good performances but the story is just dull.Fantastic Four

The Gift: A confident début as feature director by actor Joel Edgerton.  What starts out looking like an 80’s/90’s yuppies in peril thriller becomes something far more interesting. Edgerton co stars with Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, all three are excellent. The end has divided opinion, but I think it is perfect for the film.The Gift

Precinct Seven Five: Documentary about the man dubbed the dirtiest cop in NYPD history.  Told with a mixture of talking heads and archive footage. With more than a hint of Goodfellas the unrepentant subject makes for an interesting and enthralling documentary.Precinct Seven Five

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Guy Ritchie’s movie based on the 60’s TV show.  Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer have great chemistry with each other and co-star Alicia Vikander.  The 60’s setting is perfectly evoked in style and look.  The action won’t satisfy those expecting Bond or Bourne but that isn’t the point.the-man-from-uncle

Trainwreck: A rom-com that subverts many of the ideas of the genera often to great comic effect.  Written by Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow.  Schumer is very funny in the lead but the direction is sloppy and flabby.  Scenes are too long and the story looses direction in the middle.Trainwreck

Paper Towns: Based on a novel by John Green most likely to Cash in on the success of The Fault In Our Stars.  Coming of age drama that although not totally original actually has some interesting to say about the genre.Paper Towns

Hitman: Agent 47: A reboot of a movie based on a video game that has most of the same problems as the original movie.  The action scenes are good but the thin plot is stretched too far, the rest of the film is filled with dull exposition.Hitman Agent 47

No Escape: An American arrives in an unnamed southeast Asian country (it borders Vietnam so that leaves China, Laos and Cambodia or a fictional country) just as coup is getting underway.  A tense tail of people trying to survive out of their comfort zone.  Has some good scenes, Owen Wilson does a reasonable job playing against type in straight role but Lake Bell is totally wasted.No Escape

Mission: Impossible was such fun it came close but the movie of the month is:the gift movie poster

The Gift marks actor Joel Edgerton’s feature directing début. The confident first outing that Edgerton also wrote can loosely be described as a mystery thriller. What starts out looking like an 80’s/90’s yuppies in peril thriller becomes something far more interesting. Edgerton co stars with Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. Hall is brilliant as ever and Bateman gives his best performance since Juno, in what is probably his most interesting part. By the second act it is clear that Rebecca Hall is the focus of the film and Edgerton the catalyst. Giving an understated performance, Edgerton really inhabited the character of Gordo and was always believable in the part. His look and performance was so much different to the most recent films I have seen him in, Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) as Ramses and The Great Gatsby (2013) as Tom Buchanan, and what is probably his most famous role, Brendan Conlon in Warrior (2011).

This got me thinking, has he being in other films that I have forgotten? By the time he played Owen Lars in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) he had already been appearing in Australian movie and TV shows for nearly a decade. His first starring role came in Kinky Boots (2005), his performance was strong and his English accent faultless but he was somewhat overshadowed by more flamboyant co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor. These two are a good place to start to look at the changing faces of Joel Edgerton:

Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones: Owen Lars

Ned Kelly:  Aaron Sherritt

Ned Kelly: Aaron Sherritt

King Arthur Gawain

King Arthur: Gawain

KINKY BOOTS, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joel Edgerton, 2005, ©Buena Vista Pictures

Kinky Boots: Charlie

Animal Kingdom Barry 'Baz' Brown

Animal Kingdom: Barry ‘Baz’ Brown

Warrior Brendan Conlon

Warrior Brendan: Conlon

The Thing Sam Carter

The Thing: Sam Carter

Zero Dark Thirty Patrick  Squadron Team Leader

Zero Dark: Thirty Patrick – Squadron Team Leader

JOEL EDGERTON as Tom Buchanan in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “THE GREAT GATSBY,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The Great Gatsby: Tom Buchanan

Exodus Gods and Kings Ramses

Exodus: Gods and Kings: Ramses

The Gift Gordo

The Gift Gordo

 

 

If you haven’t already, check out The Girt, you may be pleasantly surprised.

A slow start with not many appealing movies opening, but a strong end with three really  good ones in the final week, but which is my movie of the month?  The contenders are:

Terminator Genisys: Part remake, part reboot , part parody of the classic The Terminator. Some of it works, lots of it doesn’t. Try not to think about the plot, as it really doesn’t hold up. Not Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movie this month.Terminator Genisys

Love & Mercy: Bio-pic of Beach Boys’ singer/songwriter Brian Wilson at two key stages in his life, in the 60’s and 80’s. A well told and intriguing story that treats mental illness in a grown up way that we wouldn’t have seen a few years ago. John Cusack and Paul Dano are both excellent.Love & Mercy

Ant-Man: The smallest and funniest Marvel film to date and the first one to come up with an original ending. A lot of the plot feels like a rehash of the first Iron Man but this is soon forgotten. Paul Rudd makes a likeable leading man, Michael Peña provides great comic relief.Ant-Man

Self/Less: Thriller about a dying man who has his body transferred into a younger body. It doesn’t know if it wants to be an action adventure or a thoughtful movie on the morels of the situation. It suffers for its lack of focus.Self Less

Southpaw: Family drama about the fall and redemption of a boxer. Jake Gyllenhaal grunts and mumbles his way to a great performance at polar opposites to Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler. Predictable but enjoyable none the less, the boxing scenes are also well executed.Southpaw

Inside Out: Pixar’s latest and possibly greatest achievement to date. Set inside the head of an eleven year old girl in crisis, the characters are embodiments of her emotions. A fun adventure film the very young, and more sophisticated story for the rest of us.Inside Out

Maggie: Family drama about a young girls last few weeks before she is consumed by a zombie virus. A low key film set in world that looks somewhere between the early scenes of Interstellar and The Walking Dead. It looks fantastic with dull muted colours. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson are all great.Maggie - Copy

The first animated to win Movie of the Month:Inside Out poster

Blue Moon

If you look up at the sky tonight and see the moon, it will be a blue moon, not blue in colour, but the second full moon of a calender month.  Tonight’s moon will also be what is known as a ‘supermoon’, the time when the moon is at its perigee, its closest approach to the Earth, making it appear particularly big and bright.  Below is an article I first published on 31 August 2012, the last time we had a Blue Moon, we will next see one in January 2018.

* * * * * * *

You have probably heard the expression once in a blue moon referring to a rare event, but what is a blue moon? There are actually multiple meanings. The moon occasionally appears to take on a bluish tinge, this is caused by smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere. The particles have to be a very particular size and are only caused by erupting volcanoes and forest fires. There are also two astronomical definitions: the third full moon in a season (or quarter of the year) with four full moons: or the second full moon in a month. Under this definition, we have a blue moon tonight. What better time list my top five werewolf movies:

ONE – An American Werewolf in London (1981): The advances in CGI mean that modern horror movies are better and more realistic than old ones that look cheep and outdated; well actually NO! An American Werewolf in London is more than thirty years old and still has the best man to werewolf transformation. The movie has moments that are scary, funny and sexy, it really is the ultimate comedy horror, the word classic is an overused but when talking about this movie, it just seems insignificant.

TWO – Ginger Snaps (2000): With all the wolf effects you need a big budget to make a good werewolf movie, again NO! With budgetary constraints comes artistic invention, $4million would barely pay the coffee budget on the Lord of the Rings movies but that’s what Ginger Snaps cost to make. Fantastically developed characters full of teen angst, the film is more gritty, earthy and visceral than the pithy ironic style of most horror movies of the time. With themes of alienation, despair and transformation the entire film is a metaphor for teenage in particular puberty.

THREE – The Company of Wolves (1984): With Red Riding Hood, two Snow White movies and the TV show Once Upon a Time there is a real desire to update fairytales, it has never been done better than the Little Red Riding Hood inspired The Company of Wolves. It was also a bit of a game changer for werewolf movies, until this time, werewolves were portrayed as viscous beasts whilst vampires were symbols of sex and sexuality, but this sumptuous horror fantasy movie oozes sexual metaphors. Loosely based on Angela Carter short story of the same name, the meaning of the film is left perfectly ambiguous and open to interpretation but is filled with themes of fear and desire and has an undercurrent of sexuality and loss of innocence.

FOUR – Dog Soldiers (2002): Soldiers on a training mission gone wrong in the Scottish highlands sounds like a rip-off of Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort, in a way it is but writer/director Neil Marshall (who went on to make The Descent) isn’t afraid to borrow from the best, later scenes are equal parts Night of the Living Dead and The Evil Dead with the end being pure The Howling with a British spin. As is often the case film makers are at there most inventive whist constrained by a limited budget, this film is no exception making great use of their none CGI monsters. Again for budgetary reasons the werewolves spend a lot of time where they traditionally belong, in the shadows. The final victory of the film is the perfect blend of horror and comedy, something that is hard to get right.

FIVE – The Howling (1981): Made by Gremlins director Joe Dante The Howling is a great early 80’s horror that dispenses with many of the conventions of the genre. The film plays out like a conspiracy thriller and in the sprit of All the President’s Men and The Parallax View the main character is a journalist. A film of the same era as An American Werewolf in London, The Howling is less comical and more satirical but also in the conspiracy thriller style it is actually a little subversive, the wolf effects aren’t as good and look a little dated but aren’t bad.

Honourable mentions:

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001): Not an honourable mention because it isn’t as good as others on the list, but because it ultimately isn’t really a werewolf movie. loosely based on a real-life Beast of Gévaudan. A series of killings in France in the 18th century that caught the attention King Louis XV who sent professional wolf-hunters to solve kill the wolves responsible.

Underworld (2003): Not a great movie, but the first of this werewolf V vampire franchise is a real guilty pleasure for me. Making the most of its relatively small budget underworld is a hugely stylish movie. The sets are amazing

After Daniel Craig wore a midnight blue dinner jacket in Skyfall it immediately became the must have item in gentlemen’s eveningwear.  It wasn’t the first time Bond had worn blue.  Ian Fleming described Bond as wearing a midnight blue dinner jacket.  Most actors to play Bond in the official Bond films have worn a blue dinner suit including Sean Connery in the opening scene of Dr.james bond blue evening suit

But one of the most iconic images of Connery as Bond came in Goldfinger where he wears a white dinner jacket.  The trailer for Spectre later this year shows Daniel Craig reprising the look.  Will it have the same effect as when he wore blue, will all the high street stores be stocking white this Christmas?James Bond white dinner jacket

Since 1 April 2010 the annual licence fee has been £145.50 (less than 40p per day ) for colour and £49.00 for black and white (around five years ago the TV licence agency website reported that “28,000 homes across the UK are still enjoying their programmes in black and white”). The licence fee is reported to generate around£3.7 billion a year of which about 608 million (or 16.3%) was provided by the Government subsidies/concessions for those over the age of 75. The licence fee is reported to generate around 75% of the BBC’s income.   This is about to change, the BBC is going to have to cover the cost of over 75 year old viewers itself by 2020.  In return the fee will rise in line with inflation (measured by the consumer prices index).  It is also expected that legislation next year will close the loophole allowing those who only watch catch-up television to avoid the licence fee.

To put the cost of the licence fee in context here it is in comparison to a few other things:

  • 9 peak time trips to the cinema for 2 (based on average UK price found online)
  • 322 pints of milk (based on price I paid in my local supermarket this week)
  • 3 Premier League football matches for 1 (based on a rough calculation of average prices)
  • 125 litres  of diesel (based on the price I have just paid) (enough to drive about 1,500mile based on the 58mpg my car averages)
  • 46 pints of beer (based on an average price found online)
  • 6 meals for two at Nando’s (1/2 chicken with sides and a drink each)

More important than where the money comes from is where it goes.  Below if a graph (borrowed from The Telegraph) showing how they spend their money.chart

Most of the graph is self explanatory.  One unexplained thing is “other services & production” this, I imagine will include BBC Films; BBC Films is the film-making division of arm of the BBC, they co-produces and distributes British FIlms.  Notable examples are: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, My Week with Marilyn, In the Loop, An Education, Iris, Notes on a Scandal and Billy Elliot. Nut more notable are the fantastic smaller films that may not have been made if not for BBC Films: Fish Tank, X+Y, Shadow Dancer, Perfect Sense, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Made in Dagenham.  Given the state of the British film industry, we can’t afford to lose BBC films.fish tank poster

I could live without most of the television production.  There are many programs I watch but there are only a few  unmissable ones: Doctor Who, Top Gear and Match of the Day.  But there are two elements of the BBC that they do better than anyone else.  Radio and Online.  For as long as I can remember I have looked towards America, my favourite TV shows growing up were American, most films I watch are American, I love the two truly great American art forms; Rock and Roll and Jazz, but there is one thing no-one in the world, including America can do as well as the BBC Radio.  I grew up listening to Radio 1 then graduated to Radio 2 in my late 20’s.  Radio 4 provides great comedy and drama.  Then came the home of news, sport (and Wittertainment) 5 Live.  BBC 6 Music provides a good balance between Radio 1 and 2.  Then there is BBC local radio, my local station BBC WM is great for local sport.  The BBC website is the only place I look online for news, weather and sport. Also online, the BBC I-Player is the best TV and radio streaming service, providing a mixture of older archive programs , and recent catch-up,  and best of all,  it’s free.match of the day

The main point of the big debate is what should happen to the licence fee and what programs should the BBC make?  As for the programming,  you will never please everyone, but on the whole, I think they are getting it right. The lighter programming is the most contentious, but has been part of the BBC for as long as anyone can remember.  Free to air sport is not for everyone, but really is an essential part of the service they provide.  I can not imaging a time time when the FA cup final, Wimbledon, and F1 (ITV coverage wasn’t great when they had it) isn’t on BBC.  The fee is more complicated; the licence is only required to watch TV, all the other services including Radio and online are free for all.  At the moment around  96% of UK homes currently pay the licence fee or receive the over 75’s subsidy.   Is the any millage in funding the BBC directly from the exchequer?  Would this impact on the BBC’s independence?  One thing is certain, The BBC should never become commercial.  Whatever the outcome, my plea is simple, don’t ruin The BBC!

“God, a person can go crazy thinking about all this…”

In the Terminator Films, Judgment Day is the day the machines took over,  Skynet becomes self-aware and starts a nuclear war killing three billion people.  It is mentioned in the original film but a date is not referred to until the second film; Terminator 2: Judgment Day when it is said to be August 29, 1997 02:14 am Eastern Time.  Sarah and John destroy all the remains of the original 1984 Terminator, these remains formed the basis for Miles Dyson’s research that resulted in the development of Skynet.  This results in a change in the future, by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines it had been pushed back to  July 25, 2004 6:18 pm Eastern Time.  However in the original film Skynet already existed before a Terminator travelled back to influence the future.  So is as is stated in Terminator 3, is Judgment Day is inevitable?  In the TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles we are originally told Judgment Day is now set to occur on April 21, 2011. The character Derek Reese (Kyle Reese’s older brother) travels back in time to help Sarah and John.  When he meets people from the future who have travelled back, he asks them when Judgment Day happened for them.   This date is constantly changing as both Skynet and the resistance are constantly trying to influence the future.terminator 3

To expand on the quote at the top “Should I tell you about your father? Boy, that’s a tough one. Will it affect your decision to send him here, knowing that he is you father? If you don’t send Kyle, you can never be. God, a person can go crazy thinking about all this..”  Sarah’s words are spoken into a tape recorder for her son to hear in the future,  this also serves as a closing monologue for the film.  It is never explained who Johns farther was prior to the events of The Terminator, was it someone other Kyle Reese or was it a Predestination Paradox (also known as a Casual Loop or ontological paradox) – an event that occurs when a future event is the cause of an past event, due to time travel, with the past event then causing the future event, that in turned caused/causes the past event.  The events have no independent origin thanks to the loop, no conclusion.  (check out the movie Predestination (2014)) Terminator Genisys (2015)  sees Sarah and Kyle travel forward in time to 2017, there is never a mention of the possibility of them travelling back to 1984.  Therefore if John’s conception must have moved forward by at least 23 years.  If indeed he is ever conceived.  Where will that leave John?  Is as he suggests their presence in 2017 locked in time and a change in the past/future will not affect them?  There is no suggestion in the constantly changing future that this could be the case.   This move forward in time could break the loop thus preventing the birth of John and negating the events of all the films, including the first one.  If there is no John Connor, there is no need to send a terminator back to prevent his birth.The terminator

Then we have the possibility that the film universe exists in a multiverse (or meta-universe where there are infinite possible universes, therefore all the time travel will make no difference to those in the future.  By sending people or machines back to change the past they are simply creating new alternate universes, or are they?  In one interpretation of the Multiverse Theory, all possible alternate universes already exist.  There is no suggestion of this as we see a constantly changing future and people / machines are only ever sent back from the single changeable future.  But this takes us back to the original paradox of the first movie.  Not  the often quoted that if John hadn’t sent Kyle back to save his mother that he would never have been conceived, but what if the terminator had succeeded?   Had the Terminator killed Sarah in 1984, John would have never existed therefore, there would be no need to send the Terminator back.  Therefore, Sarah would survive.  “God, a person can go crazy thinking about all this…”The terminator

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