Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Film 2017 - 3 of 10 - The Jungle Book 2016

So worried are Disney that you may mix them up, the official title for this film includes the date. They needn't have bothered.

A friend recommended the film and I certainly had misgivings. Even if this second version was from Disney it couldn't live up to the original cartoon version could it?

I started watching and within 15 minutes I had to turn it off. It didn't compare with the original and so I had to take a decision and alter my state of mind.

Second time round I started watching a film called The Jungle Book made last year. And from then it improved once I disassociated the two films.

Jungle Book has a special place for me as I grew up going through the Scout Movement from Cub to Venture. One of my best friends at the time's family was immersed in our local pack. His mother was Akela, his Dad - Hathi, Sister - Bagheera, Uncle - Kaa. his brother, on becoming of age, was Mowgli.

But back to the film. As one would expect, the CGIs are very good and to have a real life Mowgli, Neil Sethi, didn't seem out of place with the background. The story follows the original, and by that, I mean the original book, well enough. And as it is CGI'd characters other than Mowgli it is not really viable to comment on their acting ability. By the end of the film I had got used to seeing the characters as depicted in this film although I wasn't that enamoured with Kaa the Snake, perhaps I wanted to be mesmerised by the kaleidoscopic eyes of the original animation. The character I found completely out of place though was King Louis. There was nothing regal about him, just his enormous size. Too enormous in my book.

The soundtrack contained the original songs Bare Necessities, Trust in Me and I Wanna Be Like You. To my ear, not one of these matched the versions of the animated film.

I think this film would be best enjoyed having never seen or heard the original film and soundtrack. It would then stand on it's own merits, but you cannot remake such a classic film and hope to score a similar success, although they are now trying it with Beauty & The Beast. Just because technology moves on and you have more bells and whistles doesn't mean you can automatically improve things no matter how you market it and hype it up. Just don't try to fool me man-cub!

New to the Jungle Book franchise? - 3 vines out of 5.
Seen the original? - 1 Prickly Pear out of 5

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Film 17 - 2 of 12 - PS I Love You

This is a Chick Flick. Possibly the most chickiest one you can get. It would be a rom com as there is plenty of rom but the subject matter precludes a com really. And so intense is it's appeal to certain members of the female sex that I shall divulge the effect it had on two of M's daughters at the end.

So, the premise is this. Hilary Swank (no tittering at the back!), plays Holly, a young American lady who visits Ireland on holiday. She meets Gerry, played by Gerard Butler, whom I am reliably informed should only have his name mentioned if you are going to follow it up with the words "witness the fitness", and they get married. It is not a spoiler but the main pivotal point of the movie, is that he dies. And Holly is devastated. As she might well be. And she thinks her life is over. And then a message turns up for her on her birthday from Gerry. Not in a "blimey, is he really still alive" sort of a way, but in as much as he has planned this before his death. In fact there are a number of messages and letters which make their way to her, over a period of time, from various different characters whom he has tipped off and provided with the necessary.

There are some interesting co-stars. Lisa Kudrow, of Friends fame, plays one of Hollys friends. James Masters who was Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer plays somebody or other but to be honest he was forgettable. Kathy Bates is Hollys mother and doesn't break anybodys legs. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan turns up as one of Gerry's best friends, probably best known for his role as a patient in Greys Anatomy who stole the heart of the blonde doctor whose name escapes me. And finally, Harry Connick Junior plays her best male friend. Badly.

It is a pleasant enough film and it doesn't require much brain power.

Many tissues will be required.

I must now warn my male readers that there are two possible outcomes from watching this film wth your beloved. As the final credits roll she may be overcome with a wave of romantic sentiment and lie trembling in your arms ready for you to prove you are her man. On the other hand you could be hit by a tirade of abuse based on the fact that you don't have a romantic bone in your body and you wouldn't possibly do anything like that would you, you cold-hearted unromantic bastard, I don't know what I ever saw in you. I should have listened to my mother... etc. etc. Good luck!

Anyway, back to my original comment about M's daughters. So much did they fall under the spell of Gerard Butler and all the gorgeous "Oirish" people, that they booked a series of weekends away in Dublin to go find Irish boyfriends, just like Gerry. They failed. One of them did get an Irish boyfriend who lived nearby in London, but it turned out he was a twat.

Actually, I enjoyed it for what it was and whenever it is on tv, which is reasonably regularly, and there is nothing else on, we dip in again.

4 out of 5 shamrocks.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Film 17 - 1 of 12 - La La Land.

Dum dum dum, dum dum dum, d'dl um, da dum dum dum, da da dum dum dum. (Come along, we are all old enough to know that tune!).

So here we are, ready for the first of my film reviews. But where to start? Then it came to me......watch a film!

One of the films that has made much of the talk of the last 12 months or more is La La Land. Heralded as a return to the glorious days of The Musical, a genre which sees me both as audience and player, though on stage rather than on film, I was ready to be wowed!

The first thing to hit was the colour. The sky too blue, the grass too green, either the colour saturation or the contrast has been notched up in the cinematography department. I suspect the idea was for you to be hit by a blaze of colour. You are, but not for me in a nice way. And this is the first indication of how the film is going to be.

It is basically the story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and I won't give the end away.

The film appears to lack any real continuity. You can see the thought process of how it came to screen, 1) Let's make a musical, that hasn't been done for a bit. 2) Here's 5 bits of storyline I want to use and we'll make something up to link them even if it isn't very good. 3) Ooh my friend has some songs, we can use those somewhere. And so it continues.

So overpowering is this sense of mechanics that I never became attached to the characters. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone put the work in but didn't seem to have that much chemistry. The only time I felt their characters connect and sizzle on screen was near the very end. If you watch it you will guess to what bit I am referring but would be a spoiler to mention it here.

The story ambles along from point to point and the other characters make their entrances and exits without being memorable. The music is ok. The big number as far as popularity goes is City of Stars. You've probably heard it I doubt you can hum it let alone sing it. Some of the jazz in it is good, obviously the incidental bits played by such luminaries as Thelonius Monk, but the new numbers as performed by what the credits call The La La Land Jazz Ensemble. I can't credit the pianist who plays Ryan Gosling's pieces and I am assuming it is not him, though for me, if it is, I prefer him as a musician than actor.

Everything you need for the film is there on paper but not on celluloid, or whatever medium they use these days. And it is no match for those musicals it so desperately wishes to emulate. Having said that, I do think it has a bright future, just not in this form. Eventually someone will write "the book" which will allow it to be performed on stage and I think there it might find it's forte as a stalwart of the am-dram musical scene for years to come.

It will come as no surprise that, despite it's 6 Oscars and gor knows how many other awards and nominations, I'm afraid for me it is a 2* rating. Not so much La La Land as La La Lacking.