Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Films that film stars liked.

I watched Films of the Year 2007 last night, and I think this is the first year that they haven’t had viewers phone/text/e-mail in with their own choices. Is this because of the whole BBC-Blue Peter fixed winner thing?

Anyway, to compensate, they asked loads of film stars what their favourites of 2007 were, and here’s what I was able to get down:

Imelda Staunton – Michael Clayton.
Tom Hollander – The Lives of Others. He also said he found Keira sexy for the first time in Atonement, which surprised me, as I thought she looked far pretty (and healthier) in Pride & Prejudice, which he was in.

Jude Law and Eva Green loved Into the Wild, and Eva admitted to having a crush on Emile Hirsch as a result of watching it.

Michael Caine really liked Tell No One, hailing it as possibly the best film he’d ever seen.

Emmy Blunt loved Atonement.

Daniel Craig – The Kite Runner.
Geoffrey Rush – Across the Universe.
Casey Affleck, Quentin Tarantino – Ratatouille

Amy Adams and Daniel Radcliffe both picked The Bourne Ultimatum as their film of 2007, the latter then going on to pick Zodiac as well.

Charlie Cox – Knocked Up, Blades of Glory

Natalie Portman – Superbad.
Jason Bateman – Michael Clayton.
Nicole Kidman – Control.
Jake, Heath, Patrick Dempsey – Once.

And Cate Blanchett, Renee Zellweger and Charlize Theron all loved Marion Cotillard in La vie en rose.

Oh, and Jonathon Ross also picked Ratatouille.

My thoughts
Well, I don’t care for Daniel Craig, but my excitement for The Kite Runner has been piqued. I’m downloading Michael Clayton right as we speak (17.6%! Damnit!), for the performances more than anything. I’m a bit annoyed that Daniel Radcliffe liked Zodiac, because I did too and I don’t want any affinity with him. That said, The Bourne Ultimatum does seem terrific. And I don’t “get” this huge fan base of Ratatouille, don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a solid film (8/10), very entertaining and fun whilst it lasted as well as gorgeously drawn (that’s where most of my admiration for it comes from, to be honest), but it just didn’t make me feel as much as Monster’s inc or Finding Nemo did, and whilst it was funny in small bursts, didn’t make me guffaw with laughter once. For that, I’m baffled by all the critics bunging it in at #1 in their films of the year, and Empire gave it a *****/***** rating when poor old The Simpsons Movie only got a **/*****.

So, I’ve got to see a lot of films from 2007, chiefly:
- Juno
- The Kite Runner
- Michael Clayton
- No Country for Old Men
- Enchanted
- The Assassination of Jesse James
- I’m not There
- There Will Be Blood
- Lust, Caution
- Sweeney Todd
- The Bourne Ultimatum

- Into the Wild

And loads others. I intend on setting that right today, hopefully with Michael Clayton and The Assassination of Jesse James, which I really want to see for Casey Affleck’s performance, so I can be Team Affleck come Oscar time. I get the feeling that I'm going to go for Team McAvoy/Page/Affleck/Ronan. (I'll need to see two of those performances first, but whatever.)

23. A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951).


Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, guys.

As for presents...
Something for the...
Jamie Bell fan // Marilyn Monroe fan // London fan // Atonement fan // football slasher // Rupert fan // Cloud gazer // Flower collector // 10 Things I Hate About You fan // Simpsons fan // gossip girl fan // Weasleys // pianist // mathematician // funny mathematician // Regina Spektor fan // flower collector (again)

The Christmas Song (The Ravonettes) // You Really Got a Hold on Me (M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel) // Hell Around the Corner (Tricky) // I Can Hear the Bells (Nikki Blonksy) // Mama I'm a Big Girl Now (the ladies of Hairspray) // Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Diana Ross) // Max Steals Briefcase (from Collateral) // Dead Already (from American Beauty) // Don't Stop Me Now (Queen) // I Walk the Line (Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash) // In the Bleak Mid-Winter (Sarah McLachlan) // Death is the Road to Awe (Clint Mansell, The Fountain score) // Senorita (Justin Timberlake) // Talk Show Host (Radiohead, from Romeo + Juliet) // Bones (The Killers) // The Method Works! (from Perfume)

Yes, alright, I just bunged in loadsa things that I like. And flashed what was in my photobucket account before I clear all the crap out next week to make space for important images.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

25. The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder, 1955).


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Naughty teenagers, flying nurses and desperate housewives...

It can only be my 2007 TV Review!

Shows I loved this year:
Desperate Housewives
Season three of Desperate Housewives was just what we all needed to beat those Lost-recession blues. For, as J.J Abrams’ island mystery got more and more out of its depth, adding more characters, more flashbacks, more layers, to a point where the audience were past caring, Desperate Housewives succeeded in what it did best: show the lives of 5 sassy women. The main mystery of season three revolves around Bree's new husband, Orson Hodge (played with a swarmy quality by Kyle McLachlan that quite a few of my friends found a turn on), and whether or not he murdered his ex-wife. Meanwhile, Mike Delfino is still comatose after being hit by Orson, and Susan, in tending to him, meets the handsome Ian Hainsworth (Dougray Scott, the British accent is gorgeous), and the two begin dating, just as Mike begins to awake from his coma. Gabrielle, meanwhile, having divorced Carlos, embarks on a some (hilariously) dreadful dating choices, ending with her marriage to Victor Lang, a politician who only married her to secure the minority vote. Edie uses her son to get Carlos, and Lynette has her marriage tested to the limits as her husband opens a pizzeria and a long-lost love child of his enters the scene.

The acting in season three is top notch, the plot, though ridiculous, is wildly entertaining and nothing makes a show more watchable than the combined eye candy of Dougray Scott, Jamie Denton, and various other hotties. Bring on season four!

The adverts for this 9-part drama following a group of Bristolian teens featured clips of rampant and illicit drug-taking, boozing, partying, shagging and basically, anything but studying for their AS levels. Nicholas Hoult, once so adorable in About a Boy, takes centre stage here as the hugely unlovable Tony, the gangleader, who bullies his best friend Sid about being a virgin and cheats on his delusional girlfriend Michelle with an array of girls (and boys). Other characters include Maxxie, a boy struggling with his sexuality, Chris, who’s struggling with his crush on his psychology teacher, and best of all, Cassie, an anorexic ditz.

Despite the amoral advertisements and insufferably smug pilot episode, I grew to really enjoy Skins. Jamie Brittain and Brian Elsey cleverly weaved the fundamental human element into the show, so that no matter how annoying we find the teenagers, it’s hard to loathe them completely, as we remember that they are, after all, just teenagers. And the finale, showing how Sid and Cassie do eventually find true love, is particularly endearing. Nice guys don’t always finish last.

Ugly Betty
Here’s a show that I’ve only started getting back into recently. I saw the first few episodes of season 1, and now I’m just bunging in into season 2. What I love about this show is its insightfully scathing look into the fashion world, America Ferrera’s natural charm, and that camp man. I’m still playing catch-up with the plot, but as far as I can tell… Alexis used to be a guy, right?

Without a doubt, one of the best shows ever to grace BBC 2, Tim Kring’s creation is a superb amalgam of all the superheroes and superhero powers an overzealous kid could imagine, bunged into a melting pot, and with the age-old good/bad divide. Unlike with Lost, every single character in Heores has something interesting about them, whether it be superpowerless-but-inquisitive Mohinder, Hiro Nakamura, a computer programmer who can stop time, Peter Petrelli, an idealistic nurse who can fly, Claire Bennet, a cheerleader who can never die, or, most terrifyingly, Gabriel “Sylar”, one of the baddies who goes round killing all the other heroes and then accumulating their powers. As the season goes along, the heroes of the show discover that they can use their powers to good, and in doing so, often have to take part in thrilling, life-threatening showdowns with other heroes. The interweaved plots give the story a lot of cohesion and the performances from the entire cast are so convincing that we as the audience grow to care about them as more than just people with superhuman strength. It’s edge of your seat stuff with important messages of the importance of friendship, family, and how being different is never a bad thing. (gah, I sounded like I was quoting High School Music there.)

Not the classiest of choices, but Hollyoaks is compulsive shadenfreude TV. Gilly and John-Paul aside, there isn’t a single person on this show that I don’t hate, and that’s what makes it so fun to watch. Take Amy Barnes, for example. Obtuse to the point of farce, she’d gotten knocked up at 14, had the baby in the middle of a car crash, given the child to her parents because she was so ashamed, then, in the middle of the summer holidays, her maternal instinct kicks in and she walks out on her parents to live in a council estate with the lad that abandoned her in the car crash, a revolting boy by the name of “Ste”. Other storylines include Nancy and Jake, a college student and her brother in law, whom she’s recently gotten engaged to; Craig, a boy who was engaged to a Sarah whilst carrying on behind her back with a John Paul; Warren, a bartender with a gambling addiction; Steph, an awful actress who thinks she’s star quality…

I mean, honestly. You can see why if I’m in a bad mood at school, half an hour of Hollyoaks can cheer me up.

Mock the Week
Simply put, it’s the most entertaining way to catch up on current affairs. Russell Howard is a comedy legend.

Without a Trace
It’s all about Anthony LaPaglia’s brooding coolness, the slick execution and the human element to finding missing people.

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Pure trash-TV, it’s a rags-to-riches story of two Evertonian twin sisters, one of which is an outgoing and chatty, the other mild and self-deprecating. The latter gets selected to become a model, and jealousy, bitchiness and scheming follow. The performances by the two playing the sisters are convincing, and there’s something rewardingly domestic about the show.

Fanny Hill
Based on the bawdy novel by John Cleland, this drama tells the story of a girl who was almost going into prostitution before meeting her true love Charlie. He’s then cruelly taken from her, and she’s forced to sell herself to make ends meet, but unusually, Fanny enjoys her sexual escapades, and the fact that she’s resourceful, witty, yet not self-pitying, makes her a very likeable protagonist. The ending of this drama was a little hurried but overall, it was very funny, pretty sexy and hugely entertaining.

Would I Lie to You?
This is basically a game show where celebrities claim to have done something, and the opposing teams have to work out whether or not they are lying. A pretty simple concept, but David Mitchell’s rants are hilarious, and hey, you get to learn some unexpected facts about C-list celebs.

Gossip Girl
Ugh. I'm running out of time so I'll just give you this.

And of course I've been catching up with all the repeats Channel4 shows of my favourite TV programme, but I don't have Sky so I haven't seen any new material from The Simpsons. Except, of course, the movie, which I really enjoyed.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Roger Ebert’s Top 10 of year and my fave magazines.

1. Juno
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
4. Atonement
5. The Kite Runner
6. Away From Her
7. Across the Universe
8. La Vie en Rose
9. The Great Debaters
10. Into the Wild

Alright, even though we didn’t think much of his top 10, nor do we think much of him at all, (he is obsessed with Lost in Translation and Crash, after all), his list is one of the few to contain films that I’ve actually heard of (I’m talking to you, Slant), so I’ll pay it a leeetle attention…

Now my anticipation for Juno, NcfOM and The Kite Runner has simply increased. The latter could very well be frontrunner for the Best Foreign Language Film come Oscar time, and the child performances in it are apparently heartbreaking. I’m surprised to see La Vie en Rose on there, though I enjoyed it and thought Cotillard was excellent, I’ve definitely seen better musical biopics. However, it’s good to see Away from Her, a sensitive little indie that establishes Sarah Polley as a talented director as well as actress. Loving the love for Atonement too, and Across the Universe was a wildly imaginative romance which had the best soundtrack of the year.

I haven’t really seen that many good films this year, and though my official “Best of the year” will come towards the very end of the year once I’ve gone down to the cinema a few more times (or, failing that, downloads), here’s my top 10 so far:
01. Atonement
02. Once
03. Control
04. Zodiac
05. The Simpsons Movie
06. Sunshine
07. Across the Universe
08. Hot Fuzz
09. Away from Her
10. Harry Potter V

I haven’t seen a lot of good films this year.

Oh, and my favourite magazines!

Firstly, I just have to have my whine about inflation. Empire went up from £3.50 to £3.90 (or something), and all the fashion mags are well into the £3 price bracket. It’s not worth it for 100 adverts and the odd bit of writing, especially as most of it’s published online nowadays. Because of that, I only brought 8 of the 12 issues of Empire this year, the most inconsistent I’ve been since I started reading it in 2003. But it really was just getting too expensive, so blah.

Anyway, the list!
01. Marie Claire
Marie Claire is just going up higher and higher in my books. The free gifts they give (a canvas bag, a chicklit book, etc) make great feel-good presents and their style, articles and interviews are all terrific. Plus, in an era where we’re talking global warming, Marie Claire is the first magazine to preach of fashion with a heart. Read some of their stuff here, here and here.

02. Empire
Although their readers embarrassed them with that godawful sexy 100 that still haunts me, Empire is by far my favourite movie magazine around. Approachable, funny, intelligent, and with an array of new features this year, it is the definitive movie mag.

03. Vogue
04. TeenVogue
05. Elle

27. William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrmann, 1996).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

28. Turtles can Fly (Bahman Ghobadi, 2004).

Screen Actor Guild Nominees announced today.

And I'm ruddy thankful about that too, I need a bit of Awards season buzz to cheer me up. School's ended today and it's just really hit me that this is the last Christmas I'll be spending with my school before I go to Uni next year. Also, although Chelsea beat Liverpool last night, which pleased me, guess who got sent off? Yup, it can only be Crouchie. Bah. Leave Pool, Crouchie, please! They're no good for you.

Anyway, my predictions:
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
James McAvoy, Atonement
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girls

(Denzel Washington for American Gangster was really close to making it, but in the end I just guessed that the performance may be too generic, the film to mainstream, for the SAGs.)

Amy Adams, Enchanted
Julie Christie, Away from Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

(I know predicting Amy for Enchanted is a slightly long shot, but I really will just feel even more depressed if Keira gets nominated for Atonement. An Amy Adams nod would be just what I need to banish those post-Carol service blues.)

Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

(I'm quite sure about this category. I expect it to look like this come Oscar nomination day too.)

Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Catherine Keener, Into the Wild
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

(Saoirse is now by far the clearest of the Ronan/Garai/Redgrave trio to get a nomination, if any. The rest, I'm quite sure about too.)

Charlie Wilson's War
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

(A bit of random guesswork here.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Favourite Songs of 2007.

01. Umbrella (Rihanna)
For me, this is the ultimate Summer 2007 song, despite the fact that it’s all about rain. Spending 10 weeks at number one, it made umbrella a 4-syllabled word and rehashed the time-old “I’ll always be there for you” theme into the catchiest sleeper hit of the year. Umbrella as a metaphor? Yes!

Um… yeah. I know it can be construed as quite an annoying song (Jay-Z namedropping the movies Rain Man and little Miss Sunshine in the intro is one of the most hilarious things ever), but forgive me, I love it. Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh.

02. Sad Song (Au Revoir Simone)
03. Grace Kelly (Mika)
04. The Moneymaker (Rilo Kiley)
05. My Moon, My Man (Feist)
06. Heimdelsgate Like a Promethean Curse (Of Montreal)
07. The Way I Am (Timbaland)
08. With Every Heartbeart (Robyn)
09. 1234 (Feist)
10. Stronger (Kanye West)
11. Jimmy (M.I.A.)
12. House of Cards (Radiohead)
13. Golden Skans (Klaxons)
14. Keep the Car Running (Arcade Fire)
15. Roc Boys (Jay-Z ft Kanye West)
16. Naïve (The Kooks)
17. Apologize (OneRepublic ft. Timbaland)
18. Wake Me Up (Norah Jones)
19. Dough is What I Got (Lil’ Wayne)
20. House by the Sea (Iron & Wine)
21. When Under Ether (PJ Harvey)
22. I Feel It All (Feist)
23. Lovestoned (Justin Timberlake)
24. How to Save a Life (The Fray)
25. You Don’t Love Me (The Kooks)
26. Catch You (Sophie Ellis-Bextor)
27. I get around (Dragonette)
28. Someone Great (LCD Soundsystem)
29. Intervention (Arcade Fire)
30. Same Jeans (The View)
31. Give it to Me (Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado)
32. Bouncing off the Clouds (Tori Amos)
33. What Goes Around Comes Around (Justin Timberlake)
34. Song for Mutya (Groove Armada ft Mutya Buena)
35. Good to Sea (Pinback)
36. Beautiful Girls (Sean Kingston)
37. All the Old Showstoppers (The New Pornographers)
38. Say it Right (Nelly Furtado)
39. Hljómalind (Sigur Ros)
40. Take Pills (Panda Bear)
42. Devil You Know (Pinback)
43. If Silence Means That Much to You (Emma Pollock)
44. Valerie (Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse)
45. Back In Your Head (Tegan and Sara)
46. The New Flesh (The Wildhearts)
47. Breakin’ Up (Rilo Kiley)
48. Starz in their Eyes (Just Jack)
49. A Little Lie (Dave Gahan)
50. Saturate (The Chemical Brothers)

Which songs did you love (and recommend?)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just a week left 'til Christmas!

Something from the Lost in Translation soundtrack today. Yes, Lost in Translation. It had a good soundtrack! (the only good thing about the snoreathon.)

Alone in Kyoto by Air.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kyle’s new album is brilliant!

I thought I’d treat myself to some CDs today, and brought:
- X (Kylie)
- R n B Collaborations
- Radio 1’s Live Lounge, Volume 2.

I haven’t gotten around to listening to the other two in full yet, but Kyle’s album is an absolute delight. It’s been 4 years since her last album Body Language, since which she has had a ferocious battle against cancer to deal with, but Kylie’s pop princess crown stays firm on her head with this delicious offering. Interestingly enough, only No More Rain touches upon her experiences in that department, with its overriding message about getting a second chance in life. The rest of the album is a sassy and savvy collection of pop and dance treats with touches from all over, from Nu-Di-Ty’s Sexyback-ness to sampling Gainsbourg’s strings in Sensitized.

Some were confused and surprised with X and its lack of darkness. One may have expected Kylie to build on her experiences of her gruelling fight against cancer and public breakup with Olivier Martinez and write a few wistful, melancholy numbers, but instead she embraces life in each song, and is irresistible with it.

Though the lyrics of the songs aren’t the best, Kylie does inject her life and soul into each song, branding it with her mark (and it’s slightly saucier than her previous albums too), even if it’s not 100% original. 2 Hearts is terrifically camp and her breathy vocals almost make her Monroesque (especially in the slightly smutty "I'm coming up for air" line). She even does a bit of Robbie in Heart Beat Rock. Elsewhere, Róisín Murphy, Madonna, Britney and Girls Aloud echoes all sound. But at the end of the day, she ain’t trying to emulate these people, and critics who think she’s trying to be the next Goldfrapp are missing the point. In X, Kylie is neither singing her heart out nor trying to set the world alight, but simply producing more of the fun pop hits that we know and love her for.

Kylie’s announced plans for a tour, a 2008 Brit Awards appearance and even an appearance in Dr Who. The princess of pop is back in town, baby.

BBC World Cinema Final Five announced.
BBC4's taste in foreign cinema is a little too obscure for me (of the nominees I've only seen two), but I'm rooting for a Pan's Labyrinth win over its Oscar-stealer The Lives of Others. Knowing the slightly pretentious panel, however, I see them going for the most obscure film as the "best". Watch this space.

And the Advent Calender...
Something really quite special today, Scissor Sisters' cover of "Take Me Out" (originally by Franz Ferdinand.) It's very different from the original, but still brilliant.

Don't say I don't treat you!

30. Ladri di biciclette (Vittorio De Sica, 1948).

Just 29 to go!

Friday, December 14, 2007

31. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927).

I adore Now Voyager too, but couldn't fit it into the hundred, so...

Two Poems I like.

Quite different in tone, I hasten to add.

01. The Look (Sara Teasdale)
Stephon kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.

Stephon's kiss was lost in jest,
Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
Haunts me night and day.

02. Medusa (Sylvia Plath)
Off that landspit of stony mouth-plugs,
Eyes rolled by white sticks,
Ears cupping the sea's incoherences,
You house your unnerving head--God-ball,
Lens of mercies,
Your stooges
Plying their wild cells in my keel's shadow,
Pushing by like hearts,
Red stigmata at the very center,
Riding the rip tide to the nearest point of

Dragging their Jesus hair.
Did I escape, I wonder?
My mind winds to you
Old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic cable,
Keeping itself, it seems, in a state of miraculous

In any case, you are always there,
Tremulous breath at the end of my line,
Curve of water upleaping
To my water rod, dazzling and grateful,
Touching and sucking.
I didn't call you.
I didn't call you at all.
Nevertheless, nevertheless
You steamed to me over the sea,
Fat and red, a placenta

Paralyzing the kicking lovers.
Cobra light
Squeezing the breath from the blood bells
Of the fuchsia. I could draw no breath,
Dead and moneyless,

Overexposed, like an X-ray.
Who do you think you are?
A Communion wafer? Blubbery Mary?
I shall take no bite of your body,
Bottle in which I live,

Ghastly Vatican.
I am sick to death of hot salt.
Green as eunuchs, your wishes
Hiss at my sins.
Off, off, eely tentacle!
There is nothing between us.

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

Hey, what's the big idea?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

“You need somebody and I need somebody too. Could it be – you and me, Blanche?”

Write an evaluation of scene 6, exploring the ways Tennessee Williams presents and uses the relationship between Blanche and Mitch.

When Blanche and Mitch first meet, she notes to her sister that he seems “superior to the others.” Indeed, most likely because of living with his dying mother, Mitch, whose place on the “spare parts” department reflects his position in life well, is more sensitive than Stanley and his poker-playing friends. When it is revealed that his mother wants to see him married before she passes away, it seems that Blanche, who is single and in need of sanctuary, may make a good match for him. Their relationship is looked upon more closely in Scene 6, the only scene in the play which consists of just them, alone together.

From the beginning of Scene 6, it is apparent that neither Mitch, who is “stolid but depressed” nor Blanche, who feels “the utter exhaustion which only a neurasthenic can know” enjoyed their date. The “exhaustion” felt by Blanche, because she “did try” shows that their relationship is one which requires a lot of “work” and is not natural to either of them. The emphasis on the “hard work” of this relationship is accentuated when we see that neither of them had fun, despite, paradoxically, having been at a funfair. Also, the awkwardness of their pairing is present in the stage directions, “laughs uneasily” as well as dialogue which is full of pauses uncomfortable gaps, “Well…” This suggests that Blanche and Mitch are not right for each other.

One of the reasons their relationship comes across as so tepid is because of the obvious missing ingredient: passion. The passion which is so present in Stanley and Stella’s relationship is missing here, as Mitch even asks Blanche for her permission to kiss her, which emphases the awkwardness and “unease” felt between the two characters. Also, where Stella and Stanley are natural around each other, the interaction between Blanche and Mitch is “hard work.” There are also some basic differences between Mitch and Blanche. Where Blanche is a cultured woman (this is accentuated when she speaks French which he doesn’t understand) Mitch lacks formal manners and culture, especially in his choice in hobby – muscle building, which Blanche even mocks, “Samson!”, again suggesting that the pair are incompatible.

Mitch is ill at ease throughout the scene, asking questions that are unintentionally funny, “What’s your weight?” suggesting that he has not had much experience with women. This contrasts with Blanche’s many and varied history with men. She has great desire, as shown in just the previous scene where she had blatantly tried to seduce a young boy, yet here continues with her façade of having “old fashioned ideals”. Only when she introduces fantasy into her relationship with Mitch, “Je suis la Dame de Camillias!” can she find him acceptable. When she does this, she is also mocking him, as she considers herself the superior. This insincerity contrasts with that of Mitch, who takes everything seriously, even his weight, “I work out there with weights and I swim”, and gets frustrated at her, which is shown in his “heavy” breathing and speech. This echoes their first meeting in Scene 3, when Blanche had been insincere and playful, and Mitch hung on to her every word.

It also poses the question of whether Blanche can sustain the fantasy, especially when she herself finds it so hard to believe, as shown when she “rolls her eyes”, as she is aware of manipulating him, and that she is lying to herself as well. Blanche drinks in this scene as well, because in doing so her inhibitions are released and emotions are stronger. She is also perhaps drinking to “drown her sorrows” at having Mitch for company. This does not set up a very romantic atmosphere.

However, when the revelation of Blanche’s failed marriage comes, it is clear that both these characters have more in common, “I loved someone too, and the person I loved I lost.” When Blanche tells Mitch of her experience, she speaks with more of her emotions, and is “performing” less, showing that this event did have a huge impact on her. Mitch, who listens intently, finally says “You need somebody, and I need somebody too.” This shows that were they to get married, it would be one of needs rather than out of passion.

Blanche’s sob of “Sometimes – there’s a God – so quickly!” is perhaps her most genuine comment in the scene. She is clearly in distress thinking about her past, and Mitch’s attempts to sooth her are in much more relaxed, natural movements, “He kisses her forehead and her eyes and finally her lips” in contrast to before, “he fumblingly embraces her”, showing that he is capable of intimate acts. What Tennessee Williams could be suggesting is that, despite their many differences, Mitch could be redemption for Blanche and there is the possibility that they’d make a good couple.

One of the main uses for this scene for Williams is character development. Mitch is presented as the forth protagonist. He is funny, but embarrassingly so – “My weight is not a very interesting topic to talk about. What’s yours?” and does not appear a very sexually enticing object, “My shirt is sticking to me.” Where in previous scenes it has been shown that he doesn’t fit in with the other men, “You are all married. I’ll be alone” he doesn’t seem to fit in with women either here, from his uncomfortable topics of conversation to his clumsy actions. Nonetheless, he is a good, kind character, and it would seem that Williams writes for the audience to sympathise and like him. At the same time, however, he is not entirely on Blanche’s side and against Stanley. “We was together in two-forty-first” shows that they have history, and a strong bond. When he and Blanche talk about Stanley’s rudeness to her, he speaks diplomatically, as he has vested interest to protect his friend. This foreshadows the final scene, where he was choose Stanley over Blanche.

Scene 6 also highlights some of the key themes of the play. One of them is of sexual attraction, which is highlighted in this scene because it is so plainly missing. There is no sexual spark between Mitch and Blanche, and their relationship stands out against Stella and Stanley’s, which is built solely on sexual attraction. When Mitch does make advances, Blanche rejects them, “I said unhand me, sir.” This could be seen as a good thing as the lack of sexual attraction makes way for a deeper, more spiritual love, or, more likely, a marriage of strong needs. Mitch seems genuinely to like Blanche, and Blanche needs a marriage and a place to live. However, it can also be seen as bad, as we have seen from past scenes that Blanche is a highly desirous character, with a passion that would be considered wrong for a woman in her society, and this passion cannot be left unfulfilled. However, it is suggested by Williams throughout the play that sex/desire will lead to Blanche’s downfall. This is highlighted when we consider that Blanche says she rode a streetcar named Desire to her destination.

Another theme presented in this scene is that of fantasy’s inability to overcome reality. Blanche obviously despises her current lifestyle, "I don't want realism. I want - magic!" so creates a fantasy world, “We are going to pretend we are sitting in a little Artist’s café!” to make her world more acceptable. Lying to herself and to others allows her to make life appear as it should be rather than as it is. However, whilst this manages to fool Mitch, it cannot fool Stanley, a pragmatist, who seeks to break Blanche’s fancies. Nonetheless, Williams suggests that fantasy is an important and useful tool because at the end of the play, Blanche’s retreat into her own private fantasies enables her to partially shield herself from the harshness of reality.

This scene also examines what drives relationships. Whilst passion is the key factor for Stanley and Stella, Mitch is seeing Blanche for the companionship. He had previous expressed fears of being “lonely.” Blanche is also seeking companionship, but she also sees marriage to Mitch as a way of escaping destitution. Previous men’s exploitation of her sexuality has left her with a poor reputation, and now she just has a desire for “rest.” She is likely to find this with Mitch.

Another way in which Williams uses this play is to present Blanche DuBois as a tragic character. Her past is a sad one and has obviously shaped her, “We are a product of our past”. The audience feel sympathy for her having suffered such a loss so young, and this alleviates some of the annoyances we felt at Blanche for her actions and comments in previous scenes. Her delivery of the event also reveals some things about Blanche’s fear of the “light.” Light imagery is rife, from the “blinding light” at which she encountered love, to the sad admittance that “there’s never been any light stronger than this kitchen candle.” This shows that through all of Blanche’s inconsequential sexual affairs with other men, she has experienced only dim light. Bright light, therefore, represents Blanche’s youthful sexual innocence, while poor light represents her sexual maturity and disillusionment. She was “deluded”, and now she creates “illusions.” Thought Williams is not entirely justifying Blanche’s lies, here, he shows her reason for them, and suggests that she might still have some innocence in her, “I never lied in my heart.”

Just as the polka plays, Blanche talks about the Varsouviana, a musical piece that reminds her of her dead husband. This is significant because in upcoming scenes the piece will be played, but Blanche will be the only one who can hear it, perhaps suggesting that she is imagining her upcoming death or downfall. The playing of the polka in the background is symbolic, as it signals that Blanche is remembering her greatest regret and escaping into her fantasy world. Blanche’s husband’s suicide was the critical moment in her life, the moment she lost her innocence.

By telling the story of Blanche’s sad past, Williams is also setting up further tragedy for Blanche and Mitch in the future. The development of their relationship will add tension in future scenes, as it has been made clear from the poker game in Act 3 that Stanley disapproved of Blanche and Mitch getting together. The closeness which they have at the end of this scene will no doubt anger Stanley further as he will take it as a challenge to his authority and will want to avenge Blanche. Perhaps he will even use Mitch to avenge Blanche.

By the end of Scene 6, a ray of hope is created for the chance of Blanche and Mitch getting together, and successfully. Blanche reduces her “act” because she has “won” Mitch over and has to pretend less. He obviously means a lot to her, as she describes him as a gift from God, and if they do not love each other yet, there is the possibility of love in their relationship. Mitch has a capacity for loving, and Blanche needs to be loved. However, the relationship between these two is not the key focus of the play, and the audience will be quickly reminded of this in the next 7. Stanley, who, like Blanche, follows his desires, is the focus of the play, and he is not going to like this relationship and will do all that is in his power to break it apart, leading to Mitch’s condemnation, “You’re not clean enough for my mother,” and Blanche’s downfall.

32.The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983).

The only Scorsese flick in my top 100.

Advent Calendar: Day 11.

From the Perfume OST. Also, guess the quote.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Special Ones.

Hover your mouse over the pictures of some of my favourite people/characters currently for my commentary on why I love 'em so.

Cassie from Skins, a hyper little anorexic, but the kindest person ever. I adore her, and was sooooo pleased when she and Sid got together.Blake Lively, she's got style.Lizzie Bennet, she's extremely sharp and witty, and really cares about those around her. Can be a bit stubborn, but will find Mr. Perfect eventually. Lovely!Holly Golightly, Audrey rocks.Saoirse Ronan, her performance in Atonement was terrific and I can't wait for her performance in The Lovely Bones..Fernando Torres, his freckles tease me endlessly. Muy caliente!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Are you havin’ a laff?

Alright, here is Empire’s Top 100 Sexiest in all its glory. Or see the joke for yourself.

100. Mary Elizabeth Winstead
099. Chris Evans
098. Brigitte Bardot
097. Thandie Newton
096. Lucy Liu
095. James Dean
094. Isla Fisher
093. Zac Efron
092. Catherine Deneuve
091. Jamie Foxx
090. Elizabeth Taylor
089. Clint Eastwood
088. Sienna Miller
087. Warren Beatty
086. Jane Fonda
085. Al Pacino
084. Katherine Heigl
083. Alan Rickman
082. Susan Sarandon
081. Tom Cruise
080. Sarah Michelle Gellar
079. Heath Ledger
078. Sofia Loren
077. Richard Gere
076. Uma Thurman
075. Ryan Gosling
074. Sigourney Weaver
073. Javier Bardem
072. Gary Oldman
071. Lauren Bacall
070. John Cusack
069. Viggo Mortensen
068. Rachel McAdams
067. Ryan Reynolds
066. Sandra Bullock
065. Gael Garcia Bernal
064. Eva Mendes
063. Reese Witherspoon
062. Audrey Tautou
061. Eric Bana
060. Liv Tyler
059. Rita Hayworth
058. Will Smith
057. Julia Roberts
056. Megan Fox
055. Jason Statham
054. Jennifer Connelly
053. Robert Redford
052. Jennifer Aniston
051. Clark Gable
050. Penelope Cruz
049. Sean Connery
048. Cary Grant
047. Cameron Diaz
046. Harrison Ford
045. Catherine Zeta-Jones
044. Bruce Willis
043. Rosario Dawson
042. Steve McQueen
041. Nicole Kidman
040. Ewan McGregor
039. Grace Kelly
038. Denzel Washington
037. Rachel Weisz
036. Leonardo DiCaprio
035. Monica Belluccci
034. Russell Crowe
033. Michelle Pfeiffer
032. Jake Gyllenhaal
031. Cate Blanchett
030. Marlon Brando
029. Charlize Theron
028. Keanu Reeves
027. James McAvoy
026. Emma Watson
025. Clive Owen
024. Salma Hayek
023. Daniel Radcliffe
022. Kate Beckinsale
021. Orlando Bloom
020. Kate Winslet
019. Paul Newman
018. Anne Hathaway
017. Matt Damon
016. Jessica Biel
015. Hugh Jackman
014. Marilyn Monroe
013. Christian Bale
012. Halle Berry
011. George Clooney
010. Gerard Butler
009. Keira Knightley
008. Scarlett Johansson
007. Brad Pitt
006. Eva Green
005. Johnny Depp
004. Jessica Alba
003. Daniel Craig
002. Natalie Portman
001. Angelina Jolie

Kayleigh said it first, this joke is utter crap.

We'll start with the goods first:
- Keira Knightley sliding down. Though number 9 is still far too high, it's helluva lot better than seeing her as number 1.
- James McAvoy entered!
[Atonement link here!]
- Nice to see Leo in there, albeit a little low for my liking.
- Nice to see Tom Cruise get some love, he's been treated rather badly of late.

The bads?
- Marlon Brando not in the top 5 like he should be.
- Ditto Marilyn Monroe for the top 10.
- Audrey Hepburn's not even in there at all!
- Who is Mary Elizabeth Winstead anyway?
- Despite being all for Chinese rep, Lucy Liu is not the sexiest Chinese star. Um, Gong Li, Ziyi Zhang, Andy Lau? Hello? As for her freckles, well, she certainly ain't no Nando Torres or Evangeline Lilly (WHERE WAS SHE?!?!?!?!), and it just looks weird on an oriental person. I know for a fact that I'd hate to have freckles.
- Scarlett Johansson is in the top 10. Ugh.

And the ugly...
- Emma Watson & Daniel Radcliffe. Eeeeep!!! If you were going to place any Harry Potter star in there it should obviously be Tom Felton or Rupert Grint, thank you v. much. Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe are about as sexy as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo!
- No Emmanuel Beart or Emily Blunt. They're gorgeous, they should be on any sexy list, yet they're not.
- Again, my boy Marlon's wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too low. His Stanley Kowalski is the sexiest thing in film, in Media, and the sexiest thing I've ever, ever seen. As Stanley, he attained levels of hotness that cannot even be reached by Peter Crouch, and thus his position at 30, below that of EMMA WATSON AND DANIEL RADCLIFFE, makes me extremely, extremely angry.

Advent Calendar: Day 6.

I am completely spazzing out about interview next week!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Listen to the Girls, as They Take on Half the World.

Whenever I express my disdain for Emma Watson or Scarlett Johansson, the fanboys’ intrinsic rebuttal seems to always be “Just because you’re jealous of their fame, talent and beauty.” Um? If I wanted to envy an actress for possessing beauty and talent, I could have lots to choose from, and neither of those two are in there! For examples of actresses who I would pick, I thought I’d do a tribute to three actresses who are gonna be big come awards time (I hope, at least), Ellen Page, Saoirse Ronan and Amy Adams.

Canadian actress Ellen Page can balance big-screen blockbusters (her Click on the image for the full-size wallpaper, she's lovely isn't she?most mainstream film is 2006’s X-Men III, and upcoming arty puberty pic The Tracey Fragments, but she is perhaps best known for her head-turning performance as 14-year-old Hayley in Hard Candy, a shocking morality tale about a 14-year-old girl who sets about uncovering a man who she is certain is a paedophile. Not a particularly pleasant film to sit through (and I imagine it was a LOT worse for guys, the infamous castration scene in particular), but Ellen Page is terrific in it! She played Hayley with such intensity that she is utterly terrifying and at times the audience was left wondering who was the bigger sicko, her or Patrick Wilson’s character, yet I still rooted for her for her strength, thirst for revenge and girl power. Had it been a film with a less controversial subject matter, and Page would have been in contention for an Oscar.

But it doesn’t look like she’s gonna be skimped on an Oscar nomination this year. A movie that’s already generating quite a bit of Oscar buzz, it tells the story of Juno MacGuff, a sarcastic teen who gets knocked up by her best friend Paulie (played by Michael Cera, he's fit), and decides to put her unborn child up for adoption to childless couple Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. From the trailer, it looks like an utter delight, with a decent cast (Alison Janney also features), and apparently it’s quite the poignant, moving little indie. So, I can’t wait to see it, and I’m sure Ellen will be brilliant as usual!

Another actress who I see big things for is Saoirse Ronan, who played the young Briony in Atonement. Not content with being completely gorgeous and possessing a unique name, she also just is a really good actor, and an actress that delivers her role as it is, no frills & pretension added (I’m looking at you, Emma Watson.) Before I’d watched Atonement, one of the key things I’d been looking forward about it was seeing what Romola Garai did with the character of Briony, but, good as she was, Saoirse ran circles around her performance. And, with the huge amount of buzz Atonement is generating, an Oscar nomination (and maybe even win!!!) isn’t out of the question at all. She’s also set to play Susie Salmon in next year’s adaptation of the bestseller The Lovely Bones, which, although I didn’t care for, I think Saoirse is inspired casting because there’s a haunted look in her eyes that could really suit the character. I love you, Saoirse!

Finally, an actress whose age equals the combined age of Ellen and Saoirse, Amy Adams. I still harp on about her turn as Ashley in Junebug, just because she was so sweet, and this year I’ll be seeing her twice, as Bonnie in the contentious, Charlie Wilson’s War, and also in family movie Enchanted. Perversely, it’s her performance in the latter that’s actually generating more award buzz for her, as her character of Giselle is apparently quite wonderful and will become a Disney princess to rival the Belles and the Ariels. It’s a bit of an obscure one, but Amy’s just that charming, she should have won in 2006 for Junebug (Damn Rachel Weisz), and if anyone could get a nod for playing a Disney princess, it’s her!

Speaking of Disney princesses, here's some pretty avatars:

Anyway, I thought I would take a break from Physics homework by paying tribute to three very lovely ladies, and I’m very glad I did. I would have also put Emily Blunt in there, but you lot all about my slight obsession with her, and I thought I would blog about some new people today. :-] But, seeing as we’re on the topic of Emily Blunt, did you know that that bastard Michael Buble cheated on her? Who does he think he is?!! She’s utterly gorgeous, and way to good for him! Anyway, Emily, like my Crouchie, has been cheated out by their spouse. I really think Emily Blunt should marry Peter Crouch. They’re both attractive, talented, rich, famous, British and wonderful. And are dating twats who aren’t good enough for them. You know I’m right.

Friday, November 30, 2007

36. Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)


Crappy monologue I wrote two years ago.

Hi. My name is John. I have to tell you about my friends.

They are like, so weird. I just don’t get it. Basically, this thing started a couple of months ago, when James met this group of weird kids. They went down to the park where they showed him their massive supplies. He found out later that they were doing it. Pretty soon they had him doing it, which doesn’t surprise me, as he doesn’t like saying no.

We all laughed at James at first. Some of us got a bit worried, asked him if there was anything that made him turn to it. He ignored our derision. Even had the cheek to ask us to join in. We just laughed. We all laughed. At first.

But then the rest of my mates got involved. James brought all the equipment into school and at lunch Cary tried it. He said it was “alright” but two days later I saw him doing it again. Then Alec did it, and he was hooked on it immediately. The three of them, in the field, getting excited about the colours of the grass and the flowers… under the influence of everything. I didn’t join in. I stayed out. I’d seen my parents do it enough to know that it wasn’t my thing. It was a nightmare.

Pretty soon they started growing their own stuff, and tried to sell it. Selling stuff on school grounds… illegal. Using school grounds to grow stuff… illegal. All illegal.

They had to keep borrowing money from me. For equipment and stuff, so they could keep it up. They got dehydrated because they had to use up all their water in doing it. I told them to stop. I told them loads of times, but they just wouldn’t listen. None of the school would. I was getting really worried.

They were giving lessons on it. Our whole school was being taken over, by one of the most dangerous activities in living history. I seriously wanted to tell the teachers, or even the police, but for obvious reasons I knew they wouldn’t take me seriously.

It got in their way of life. They’d spend less time on work, football and even girls to buy, sell, grow and try it out. I was getting really worried about them. What was the big deal with such a sad hobby? So, naturally, I had to try it out.

I realise that makes me a hypocrite, but I just did it. And I felt really sad at first, but then it was actually quite rewarding. Okay, so I may have exaggerated a little on just how dangerous or illegal gardening is. It’s quite fun, actually. I definitely look forward to see what all their efforts have gone into in the flower show next month.

Crap, I know. I don't know what I was thinking!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm gonna start the Advent Calendar thing again this year.

Last December, I started this Online Advent Calendar thingy, where I basically posted a picture and you clicked on it and it gave you a song (usually a movie song, but I ran out towards the end and used any old thing.) I think I'll do it again this year as well because it was quite fun, so I'm wondering if there are any requests anyone has for the music they'd like to have when they "open" the advent calendar? I don't own every film soundtrack there is but I do have my fair share of bits and bobs in movie music, so anything I do have I'll be more than happy to share with you this festive season. So yeah, talk to me!