Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Film review: HOUSEBOAT (Melville Shavelson, 1958)

This review is my entry to Phyllis Loves Classic Movies’s fabulous Cary Grant blogathon, where every entry is a celebration of the man’s varied and illustrious CV. Head on over there to read about all the films he’s been in!


Tom Winston (Grant), a recently widowed father of three young kids, and Cinzia Zaccardi (Sophia Loren), the aristocratic daughter of an Italian count who plays childminder to the kids, find unlikely love (and a whole lot of miscommunication) in Melville Shavelson’s gentle 50s comedy.

What I go to school for.

I went on an R course recently just so I could produce this rather fabulous graph, of the certificates of films I've seen, and at which cinemas, since procuring my Odeon Limitless card in July.

Statistics can be fun sometimes!


Level 4 of my BBFC game, by the way, is purposely very very tricky. Match the film to the film which has the identical rating and short insight as it.

(Note: the short insight of the pairs don't have to be in identical order, for example, one might say 'strong language, violence, sex' and the other 'strong language, sex, violence'. That would still count as a match. Also, because the BBFC are inconsistent with 'ands', some might have an 'and' linking the reasons and others won't).

Monday, November 28, 2016

My BBFC game (level 2).

Simon won the first level, congrats geezer!

Now I've made it a bit more taxing. As with the previous round, don't cheat and go on the BBFC website, that sucks the fun out of it. :P But by all means google the plot synopsis as that could help (altho some search engines show you the rating when you do that, hmmm).


Brief thoughts on two impulse food buys from Sainsbury’s yesterday! With photos just to prove I'm not making it up ;)

Taste the Difference Breaded Chunky Cod

The contrast between the crispy bread crumbs on the outside and the moist, meaty cod inside worked a treat. The white fish on the inside was more moist and succulent than I’m used to, but definitely tasted better quality for it. The fish flakes are incredible tasted better than most stuff restaurants serve. 

One fish, served with chips, (slightly more than the amount photographed above; I'd left the rest in the pan as the plate is small), nourishes me plenty. Due to it being Taste the Difference, the fish has higher protein content than the usual, so in addition to tasting delicious, it’s also good for you. A

(Cooking recommendation: the fish takes 20 minutes to cook in a fan-heated oven. I would recommend turning it half-way through, else the bottom gets a bit soggy, as the first one I cooked, did).


Lime Cordial

Pretty standard cordial, really. I bought this because whenever I was trying to go a month dry at University, lime cordial would be my alcohol substitute of choice, and I had a random bout of nostalgia for the drink in question. 

If you pour this and dilute it four parts water for the cordial, the end product tastes the same as what you get in pubs. Nice-tasting, doesn’t do anything wrong, but at the same time, didn’t jump out at me. B+/A-

More product reviews here!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My BBFC game (level 1).

Below are five films, one of each BBFC certificate: U, PG, 12A, 15 and 18. All that the player has to do is match which one's which.

I gave this game a test run on two people, both of who were equally unenthused. Sigh. Still, should I ever meet someone IRL who's as obsessed with film classifications as I am, I can share this game (and Levels 2 and 3, to be posted!) with them!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Predictions: 2017 OSCAR NOMINATIONS (three months before the ceremony).

The aim is to also post predictions in a month's time, and before when they get announced, on January 24th 2017, as well, so I can see how my guesses change. Here goes!

Disclaimer: as I haven't seen a lot of these films, a lot of what I'm saying is just guesswork. I could end up despising a bunch of these movies once I view them, and completely alter my predictions! For  predictions more grounded in research and opinion, check out Nathaniel's impressive compendium. He's a professional film writer so he's seen most of the films discussed, and thus, his word carries a lot more clout!

Any number between 5 and 10 could get nominated, so I'm going...
01. La La Land
02. Fences
03. Moonlight
04. Silence
05. Manchester by the Sea
06. Jackie
07. Arrival
08. Lion

Of these titles, I've so far only seen Arrival, which I was very impressed with, particularly given my innate aversion to sci-fi. It was a smart movie, but more importantly, it was a humane movie, and that, coupled with the tight, unostentatious visuals, means it deserves to get nominated.

Of the other seven, Jackie interests me the least, but then again we all know my thoughts about Natalie 'earnest' Portman, haha.  La La Land, Fences and Moonlight look absolutely captivating in their own ways, and I can't wait to watch them. 

Despite the fact that Scorsese is my favourite director, Silence's trailer left me a bit cold. I'm not sure what's up with Adam Driver and Andy Garfield's accents, and it just seems to lack the energy of a Wolf of Wall Street or The Depahted. But, we'll see.

01. Damien Chazelle, La La Land
02. Pablo Larraín, Jackie
03. Martin Scorsese, Silence
04. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
05. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Pablo Larraín has two films that are in serious contention at the 2017 Oscars, the other being Chile's entrant in to the Foreign Language Film category, Neruda, starring Mexican hottie Gael García Bernal (I totally just said his name out loud with an affected Latinamerican accent whilst typing this, haha). Chazelle's Whiplash was my favourite film of 2014, and his direction on it (particularly the scenes where JK Simmons yells at Miles Teller) were superb. Apparently La La Land is even more assured than Whiplash so that, the strong critical response the film has garnered, surely render him the frontrunner.

01. Denzel Washington, Fences
02. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
03. Ryan Gosling, La La Land
04. Tom Hanks, Sully
05. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Andy Garfield is a bit of a left-of-field shout, but I just think that he can't appear in two prestige pictures and get totally ignored, and Silence's trailer didn't really seem like it had a 'proper' lead, so I've plumped for this. Plus, he was HELLA snubbed for The Social Network (fourth favourite performance of 2010, just saying).

Tom Hanks impressed audiences in both Bridge of Spies and Captain Philips and most people were surprised he didn't get nominated for at least one of them, particularly given the Academy are fond of him (he's the only actor to have won Best Actor back-to-back, for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, respectively. Although Eddie Redcarpet sure tried hard to achieve that feat by stealing roles from transgender actresses, just saying). So many feel Hanks is due a nomination this year.

I currently have Denzel listed as frontrunner just because I don't want creepy Casey Affleck to be frontrunner, given his past history of groping a sleeping woman. Hopefully that holds him back from achieving the gold and leads Denzel to receive his third Oscar.

01. Natalie Portman, Jackie
02. Emma Stone, La La Land
03. Annette Bening, 20th Century Woman
04. Amy Adams, Arrival
05. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane

Sigh. I am so gutted that Viola Davis is campaigning as Supporting Actress for Fences rather than Leading. From reports of people who have seen the film, it's one of those borderline cases (so not as brazen as, say, Felicia Vikander in The Danish Girl and my girl Rooney Mara in Carol last year), and Viola just submitted herself in Support to give herself more of a fighting chance of getting the gold. Which I get, #YouDoYou, but even from her clips in the trailer, she was immense, and I feel that, even with less screen time than Portman, she would have run her and Stone close. Viola is a leading lady and deserves no less than to be acknowledged as one!!!!!

Anyway, yeah, looks like Natalie Portman's heading towards her second Oscar.

Jessica Chastain for Miss Sloane is a bold pick, given most predictions have listed Isabelle Huppert, an icon of French cinema, for Elle in her place. It is indeed a travesty that Huppert doesn't even have one Oscar nomination. But as we know, talent only comes to play about 15% of the time at the Oscars. Emily Blunt doesn't have an Oscar nomination, either. 😒

I feel Miss Sloane, about a gun lobbyist, has a strongly political slant that could play well into Hollywood's hands given the recent US elections. I follow Chastain on Facebook and she's already been pointing out the parallels between the movie and life, so...

Finally, Amy Adams is very well-liked by the Academy, and is due an Oscar statuette at some point. Her performance in Arrival won't win, as it was too muted and unflashy, but the overall quality of the film, her popularity, and the fact that she was also in Nocturnal Animals makes me feel it would be churlish of them to deprive her of her sixth nomination.

Supporting Actor
01. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
02. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie
03. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
04. Liam Neeson, Silence
05. Stephen Henderson, Fences

Ali has been picking up raves everywhere for his performance in Moonlight, so much so that I highly doubt his limited screen time (the film is told in three parts so every actor bar Naomie Harris is only in, at most, a third of it) will be to his detriment. Plus a really solid piece of acting lingers with your regardless of how short the running time was (think: Anne Hathaway in Les Mis).

From the trailers, Lucas Hedges looks like he's doing great work in Manchester by the Sea. Oscars can be a bit sexist in that in the Supporting Actress category, they're more than happy to nominate/award young girls (eg Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, Saoirse Ronan in Atonement, Anna Paquin in The Piano), whereas they're stingier with dishing out slots for boys of comparable ages. But with their egregious omission of Jacob Tremblay last year for Room, they've got some atonement of their own to do. Hopefully Hedges reaps the dividends. 

Supporting Actress
01. Viola Davis, Fences
02. Naomie Harris, Moonlight
03. Nicole Kidman, Lion
04. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
05. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miss Sloane

I'll admit that the prevalence of women of colour in this category is influenced by some heavy wishful thinking on my part! But seriously, no-one needs to make reparations more than the Oscars for last year's complete whitewash. By all means nominate a white actor if they were good, but 'talent' argument doesn't really work given they nominated Eddie Redcarpet for The Danish Girl, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight and Christian Bale for The Big Shortperformances that compare very unfavourably to Oscar nominated-performances in the past. To say those selections were mediocre would be an insult to mediocrity.

So yeah, I don't give a sh_t if the Oscars go too far the other way in terms of affirmative action this year; performers of colour are owed some kudos. 

Naomie Harris is apparently amazing in a de-glam role as the junkie mum of the protagonist in Moonlight. She was always charming as flirty Moneypenny in the James Bond movies, so looking forward to seeing her in this role. Hidden Figures sounds great: uncredited women of colour who did all the grunt work for NASA and didn't get the credit for it. Apropos, and pretty similar to the Oscars, actually.

And Britain's very own Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a luminous screen presence (Mark Kermode, in his review of Free State of Jones, described a scene where she smiled, saying 'the whole screen lit up'), and should have been given the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast instead of Emma Watson. Gugu is strikingly beautiful, has musical and dramatic training (unlike Emma), has previously played someone called Belle (in Amma Asante's Belle), and, most importantly, can actually act. 

But ofc Emma Watson got the part.

As I said, Hollywood has some serious reparations to make.

Original Screenplay

01. Jackie
02. 20th Century Woman
03. Manchester by the Sea
04. Moonlight
05. Zootopia

Adapted Screenplay
01. Fences
02. Lion
03. Arrival
04. Silence
05. Hidden Figures

I'm not going to bother predicting the technicals, foreign film and short films until closer to the time when I've seen more.

I shall check back after the actual nominations come out and compare how I did! =)

Learning French via film posters.

The French don't seem to be a fan of American movies' original titles. They've sexed up Mel Gibson's film, Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield in what should be part of an Andy Garfield one-two-punch, along with Silence also being released. 

Google translate tells me that the title here is French for You Will Not Kill. That definitely entices me more than the rather pedestrian American title. Still better than The Accountant, mind.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Product review: Office Depot Pop-up Flags

As a research student, I read a lot of journal articles on my topic of interest, articles of which I then file away in ring-binders before staring another one. The problem of getting through so many is that, when, in a Eureka moment, I want to go through an old paper, I waste a lot of time sifting through ring binders not just looking the article in question, but looking for the exact sentence that contained the interesting philosophy I wish to revisit.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I DO want to go to Chelsea.

...when their Christmas lights look this gorgeous.

Restaurant review: BRASSERIE MAX (Covent Garden)

About two or three times a year, I deviate from my questionable practice of dining at mediocre restaurants using Groupon deals (and then absolutely destroying the dumps on my blog, and give patronage to restaurants which don't need deals in order to get custom. Although such an act (of paying full price for a meal) doesn't strike most as out of the ordinary, when I do, I always feel like Charli XCX, in that 'I'm so fancy', and it means I've gotten to eat at some pretty awesome places.

I had the Thanksgiving dish, which, given the time of year, I felt was apropos:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Review: PRIME BURGER (Kings Cross)

My best friend Anna and I were absolutely famished after drinking some wine today, so unfortunately we weren't in a strong bargaining position in terms of discerning for decent places to eat. As we'd met at St Pancras train station and didn't want to travel too far, we settled for Prime Burger, thinking you couldn't go too wrong with a burger. I was wrong; this place runs Tommi's Burger Joint close for one of the worst of its kind in London.

I had the Classic chicken burger, which, just like the one I'd had at TBJ, was horrendously undercooked; the meat was a suspicious shade of pinkish white. Oh dear. The menu promised 'onions', but I don't count one infinitesimal sliver of onion, clearly stuck in as an afterthought 'onions', and the lettuce was haphazardly applied and an inspiring addition.

Small mercies came in the form of the chips, which I wolfed down, because at the front of the counter (where you collect your order), there was malt vinegar, which I doused on my chips like a pyromaniac ought to douse kerosene on  Wolf of Fleet Street certain Guardian football writers' Audis. I absolutely adore malt vinegar with my chips, and don't understand why there wasn't a container of them on every table, rather than just one at the front.

Then again, I don't know how they could have charged £11.05 for that ensemble above, when the burger was paltry, unedifying and poorly presented.

For five pounds less, you can have an actual chicken burger from KFC (you know, one with flavour). Do it. Your stomach - and bank balance - will thank you.

Grade: D-

compendium of my restaurant reviews can be found here. If you would like me to review your restaurant, drop me an email at and I'll see what I can do.


As mentioned in the introduction, I had an ace meet up with my girl Annabung today. Here we are (quick OOTD!): -

Earrings: Accessorize
T-shirt: Hollister
Cardigan: H&M

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Restaurant review: PIZZA PILGRIMS (Soho)

The servings at this much (over)-hyped pizza parlour didn’t taste anything out of the ordinary compared to a bog-standard oven pizza you can buy at Sainsbury’s, and compared to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, the meals completely paled in every department. 

Portion-wise, they left a lot to be desired; the cooks scrimped on the components of the meal that actually cost money (aka, the meat and veg, as demonstrated by the photo below), choosing to swamp you with dough instead. Big mistake: I prefer thin bases. And, ironically, they couldn’t even get the dough right; look how charred that is!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: Rocket Dog Dundee Black Buckle Ankle boots

Winter has arrived, which means I now require sturdier footwear than my fabric Adidas trainers. Step forward, these rather fashionable, yet also practical boots that I got from TK Maxx. I found the original boots on the Rocket Dog website, if you wish to buy them!

The heel is comfortably wide, meaning I avoid my usual faux pas when I walk in heels, which is losing balance and stumbling. The two buckles on the side give the otherwise quite plain design a bit of sass and the height of the boot means it doesn't cover just your feet but also your ankles, keeping them protected against the bitter winter cold.

The only small foible I had (which is common to many shoes when you first break them in) is that the first few times I wore it, I wore trainer socks, which proved unwise, because the inside lining of the boots caused friction against the uncovered part of my foot, causing it to bleed. Thus, if you're wearing these boots for the first time, by all means wear tights (even if you're wearing trousers), to make sure your feet are suitably covered.

Otherwise, excellent product, which I will be wearing a lot of in December!

Grade: A-

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Advert vs the Real Thing: KFC Stacker burger.

I gotta say, the advert looked a lot different from the reality: the chicken strips were pouring out of the burger and cheese was dripping temptingly onto the meat, as opposed to the pitiful small slice of cheese pictured above. Finally, the bap in the advert was pert and full of volume. The top bap of my burger looked like it'd given up and died.

False advertising mark out of 10: 6. It did look very different, but still tasted delicious (I had two last week!), so at least it delivered on that front.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cooking a Japanese Curry with Yutaka products.

Following a few unimaginative forays into the world of cookery, I thought I'd venture out of my comfort zone and try to make a Japanese curry, with the help of some fabulous Yutaka ingredients, and their helpful website, which features several recipes.

I pretty much followed the recipe linked above, although as usual when I cook, I do like to put my own little spin on things, so this is how I did things: 

The chicken
Get yourself some chicken breast. The one I had was nicely packaged in this handy silver tray, and slightly breaded, although I wanted my chicken to be completely covered in breadcrumbs, which was where the Panko came in!


Then I put it in the oven for half an hour at 200C, and left it there for half an hour. Note: the instructions that come with your chicken might tell you to heat it at something like 170C, but this isn't factoring the many layers of breadcrumbs you've marinated it in. In order to properly cook the centre of the chicken, you have to give it an extra boost!

The rice
I used about 100g of the sushi rice pictured at the top and about 133ml (roughly) of water. After washing the rice, I put it and the water in a saucepan, bringing the water to boil, then letting it simmer.

The sauce

My favourite part! I cut a large onion (a vital component of all my meals), and fried it with oil (and a cheeky bit of balsamic vinegar) until it was almost completely cooked. Then, I added water and Katsu curry stock:

Due to the fact that I did all this rather quickly and haphazardly (I was hungry at the end of a long day and eager to fill my stomach with this awesome curry!), the final product was, true to my cooking-level:

But taste-wise, it was everything. I'd had a biryani at Dishoom the previous week, and whilst it was very nice, I'd felt it was a tad overpriced for what it was. This was very cheap indeed (the Yutaka items are competitive high street prices), and, being the one who made it, I was able to customise my meal to my own preferences, which of course, I know better than any chef. 

The Katsu sauce was lovely and a great alternative from the usual flavour of curry I have, and the Originario rice incredibly filling. The mixture of the textures, in terms of the hardness of the breadcrumbs, the softness of the chicken, the sticky rice, all synthesised with the delicious curry sauce, made for one delectable meal.

I'm definitely going to be cooking more Japanese flavours in the future! If you're that way inclined, I'd definitely recommend the Yutaka website, which has plenty of recipes if you need inspiration 👏👌

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fantastic Oscar-beggers and Where to Find Them.

Glaring mistake is glaring. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, starring professional awards-chaser Eddie Redcarpet, is a 12A, not a PG. Frankly, a PG certificate wouldn't be enough to contain all of Eddie's Oscar thirst and all of JK Rowling's virtue-signalling hypocrisy.


The BBFC replied to my email on Someone to Talk to, by the way. It's a lot more satisfactory a response than the one they sent me about So Young 2 Never Gone:

Dear Emma
Thank you for your email.
BBFC classification decisions are made in line with available research and our Classification Guidelines which are a product of an extensive public consultation process. This process is repeated every 4-5 years and over 10,000 people contributed to the creation of the Classification Guidelines 2014, which are available here. 
They state that: 'Portrayals of potentially dangerous behaviour (especially relating to hanging, suicide and self-harm) which children and young people may potentially copy, will be cut if a higher classification is not appropriate. '
The level of detail depicted in both films with regards to the suicide attempts is permissible at 12A. However the suicide attempt in Two Days, One Night is shown to have little in the way of consequences. The lead character is shown to gag but otherwise does not seem to suffer any ill effects. She looks serene and healthy in her hospital bed and the doctors seem unconcerned about any possible long term damage. The scene is therefore better placed at 15.
In contrast, the character in Someone To Talk To is shown weak but recovering in hospital. Suicide is not presented as an attractive option and so this content is permissible at 12A.
The references to suicide in Someone To Talk To start early in the film and occur throughout, becoming part of the theme of the work. They were not considered to be a 'spoiler' in that it's not an issue that suddenly and unexpectedly comes up later in the film. Also, given the prevalence of the references - which are not simply an isolated moment or element in the work - it was necessary to warn people about them, even more so because this is a 12A film on which parents may want clear advice.
We have an FAQ about spoilers on the black card on our website which explains our policy You may also be interested in Podcast Episode 20 which covers how the BBFC approaches classifying self-harm and suicide 
Yours sincerely
 BBFC Feedback Team
From this much better, detailed email, I've inferred that the BBFC spend more time on a query if you complain that the film should have been higher than it was, as opposed to lower. The speed at which they respond to you is almost halved, too - my So Young 2 Never Gone email took exactly 2 weeks to reply, the maximum time they stipulated, whereas this took just 8 days.


Finally, look who blocked me on Twitter:

(admittedly, a lot of my festering anger at this whole affair isn't just the fact that Vardy racially abused a Japanese man. It's the fact that he racially abused a Japanese man and esteemed football writers who purport to care about racism, like Henry Winter and Daniel Taylor, wrote sod-all about it).


Womancrush Wednesday: Kate McKinnon.

Kate's moving, passionate performance of Hallelujah moved me to tears; the lyrics and choice of song carried extra poignancy given the tragic passing of Leonard Cohen last week.

I was super-impressed at not just how well Kate sung, but how naturally she played the piano. A quick perusal of her Wikipedia page tells me that she also plays the cello and the guitar; what a talented woman! Plus, she read Drama at Columbia university. So not only is she a supremely talented comedienne (her Hillary impression is on point, as is this sensational Carol parody), but lady is musical, and boasts and Ivy League education! Goddess!

Loving on Kate (her show-stealing turn as kooky Dr. Holtzmann in Ghostbusters is currently top of my list of Best Supporting Actress 2016) and the fact that me watching Arrival means I've now seen 50 releases, segues me nicely into listing my current top 10s of 2016.

01. A United Kingdom
02. I, Daniel Blake
03. Zootropolis
04. Café Society
05. Arrival
06. Kubo and the 2 Strings
07. Someone to Talk to
08. Hell or High Water
09. Nerve
10. Captain America: Civil War

Actor, Leading Role
01. David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom 
02. Chris Pine, Hell or High Water 
03. Jesse Eisenberg, Café Society
04. Jonah Hill, War Dogs 
05. Hai Mao, Someone to Talk To 
06. Miles Teller, War Dogs 
07. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals 
08. Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake 
09. Michael Fassbender, The Light Between Oceans 
10. Yoo Hae-jin, Luck-Key

Actress, Leading Role
01. Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train
02. Amy Adams, Arrival
03. Adriana Ugarte, Julieta
04. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane
05. Rosamund Pike, A United Kingdom
06. Emma Suárez, Julieta
07. Kate Beckinsale, Love and Friendship
08. Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals
09. Blake Lively, The Shallows
10. Alicia Vikander, The Light Between Oceans 

Supporting actor 
01. Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar! 
02. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals (massive improvement from his wooden performance in Anna Karenina!)
03. Ben Foster, Hell or High Water 
04. John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane 
05. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water 
06. Tom Bennett, David Brent: Life on the Road 
07. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals 
08. Tom Bennett, Love and Friendship 
09. Tom Holland, Captain America: Civil War 
10. Tom Felton, A United Kingdom

Supporting actress 
01. Kate McKinnon, Ghostbusters
02. Jena Malone, The Neon Demon
03. Hayley Squires, I, Daniel Blake 
04. Viola Davis, Suicide Squad 
05. Haley Bennett, Magnificent Seven 
06. Rooney Mara, Kubo and the Two Strings 
07. Rachel Weisz, The Light Between Oceans 
08. Terry Pheto, A United Kingdom 
09. Kristen Stewart, Café Society 
10. Kristen Bell, Bad Moms

Actors with multiple entries (for now): Amy Adams, Tom Bennett

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Film review: LE FANTÔME DE LA LIBERTÉ (Luis Buñuel, 1974)

The third and final film of Luis Buñuel's triptych of movies which feature little plot and a lot of visual sight gags, Le Fantôme de la Liberté neatly ties off what La Voie lactée and Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie started. Like the other two films, Le Fantôme de la Liberté consists of short, surreal sketches that follows a series of peripherally connected characters are their lives are peppered with all manner of curio, and in the name of decorum, the characters are completely blasé these bizarre occurrences, which just makes them weirder.

A creepy man distributes photographs to young girls. We assume these to be seedy, as he tells them to show friends but not parents, and indeed, when the parents discover them, they are disgusted. But the pictures actually turn out to be nothing more than photos of historical landmarks. Later, another little girl, declared missing, is actually present and well, and at the police station to aid an officer as he fills in her missing person report.

A chap who kills passers-by is hailed as some kind of celebrity at his court-hearing, with adoring fans begging for his autograph. A group of monks are invited to dine with a couple, who all of a sudden strip into latex and embark on some whipping in front of them. And perhaps most startlingly, a group of bourgeois families sit together at a dinner table to go to the toilet in each other's presence, occasionally excusing themselves to go into a private room, to eat.

There’s cinematic badinage of Le Fantôme de la Liberté boasts far greater variety than the other two films in the trio. Buñuel’s ability to synthesise them all into a collective unit illustrates his adroit ability to deliver narrative, even in an oeuvre that largely lacks one. The sight gags are wittier, and the film revels in its bizarreness, which means the audience doesn’t feel any obligation to invest themselves in the plot or the characters, which I have done in previous films, only to have the rug pulled from under me, and thus, felt frustrated by the director.

Possibly an artefact of 1972’s Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie picking up the Foreign Language film Oscar, Buñuel’s follow-up is far less accessible and crowd-pleasing. But I preferred Le Fantôme de la Liberté precisely because it lacks a slightly grandstanding element that its predecessors have. Le Fantôme de la Liberté definitely feels like one of his most personal works, despite (or because?) of all the degenerates you meet in it. 

The fact that there isn’t a specific target of satire as La Voie lactée and Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie had (Christianity and the middle class, respectively), per se, rather that free will, a much more abstract idea is the object of this film, means the director has far more scope to unbridle his anarchic vision upon. The episodes he confects span humour that ranges from the bizarre to the sublime.

While the plot sprawls, there is nothing ad-hoc about Buñuel’s tight direction, with each unsettling vignette modulating into the next with such fluidity that before the audience have time to dwell too deeply on the previous story arc, they’re immersed into a new one.

The main thesis of these chaotic scenes, that humans are predominantly irrational agents, and personal autonomy is purely a hoax, is intriguing; a theory given more resonance in the wake of ongoing current affairs. 



I've now reviewed all eight DVDs in my Buñuel box set. Read the others here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hi Tealicia.

Brief thoughts on two new teas I’ve sampled recently.

Your Misname.

Another one of these 'times the Irish rated a film lower than the BBFC did' posts (on average when the two awards bodies disagree, the IFCO tend to rate higher).

Your Name, which has a cracking trailer and almost universal acclaim from everyone who's seen it, is bizarrely getting a very limited release in the UK. I have my ticket to see it on the 24th November, but had to settle for a slightly out-of-my-way Odeon venue, as all the central London ones were all booked up. Hopefully it will be worth it tho; I bloody love me some Anime.

Needless to say, I read the BBFC long insight as preparation for the film. That's a bit of a gamble as the long insights are laden with spoilers, but there you go. It's rated 12A over here for 'moderate language, sex references', in a classic case of a BBFC misnomer

The plot revolves around a small town girl living in a lonely world and a city boy exchanging bodies, Freaky Friday-style. From the report, it sounds like the main reason the film's a 12A is because the boy, in discovering he's in the body of a woman, touches his boobs.

Bit harsh to rate a film a 12A for that, given that would be a pretty natural response! I also don't think lingering on a girls' chest counts as a 'moderate sex reference', either, so major inaccuracy in its short insight, there. 

Glad to see that the Irish saw sense, and gave the film the PG it (sounds like it) deserves. Note how they also accurately classed the focus on a girls' chest as 'suggestive scenes'. That is pretty much all it is, not a sex reference. No need to make it sound seedier than it is.

Why are the BBFC so affronted by a bit of cleavage???


I'm somewhat of a BBFC obsessive. All my other BBFC pieces are listed here.