Monday, 9 May 2011

Top 5 Blue People in Movies




There just aren't enough lists about the best blue people in movies, and I thought I would do my very best to change this. Of course, there will be lots and lots and lots of blue people I have missed out. 'Green' has always been the skin colour of aliens and otherly things - and blue is very much the new green.

In fact, looking at the list, it is interesting to see how many blue characters in the movies are (a) marginalised and (b) excellent jazz musicians. One can't helping feeling that 'blue' might be used to represent 'black' in sci-fi movies. Same stereotypes, different colour.

1. The blue monster in MONSTERS INC

He's not really a person, he's a monster. But they spent ages on the CGI of his fur and his fur is really lovely and fluffy and blue.

2. The blue meanies in YELLOW SUBMARINE

Remember them? They were an army of music-hating creatures who were terribly, terribly mean. Who could hate music? But they're beaten by the Beatles and the ones that don't run away and up staying to be lovely happy music-loving blue people in Pepperland.

3. The blue singer in 5TH ELEMENT

No-one could forget this lovely blue lady, she of the tentacled head and powerful pipes. After a nice alien classic rendition of something alien she goes into a manic musical episode which blows you away the first time you hear it. Some people hate this movie - I love it as an example of Luc Besson's stronger excesses. Also, this alien singer has blue blood, which takes it to another level.

4. The blue people in AVATAR


Oh. My. God. Never mind the whole 'Pocahontas in Space' debate, valid though it is. These people are SO BLUE.

5. Max Rebo - blue musician in STAR WARS


Max Rebo, whose real name was Siiruulian Phantele, was a popular musician and head member of the Max Rebo Band. He was there before AVATAR. He is the best and the bluest of all.

The band in the Cantina, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, were probably the best musicians in STAR WARS. But they were not blue.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Conan 2011 - Feeling pillaged as we speak.




Sometimes pictures speak a thousand words. After the CGI teaser trailer for Conan 2011 (just him and a bit of smoke, really) we finally have the official trailer, like.

The best/worst thing I can think of to say about Conan 2011 so far is that Conan appears to hit a HORSE. In the FACE. With a CHAIN.

I guess he needed to hear the lamentation of its mares...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Celebrate the last Harry Potter film with the spells that Harry never got to learn...



I woke up this morning with (a) a hangover and (b) an urge to celebrate the imminent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with some brand new spells. With the aid of a handy online english to latin translator, I found some of the spells that Harry Potter never got round to using.

Ostendo sum verum!

The spell's purpose is to 'Reveal intentions'. Ooh, a very nasty spell, this, and not to be used lightly. Best not used at all, to be honest. Definitely one of the 'unforgivable spells' like Imperius and Cruciatus. Harry Potter would never be caught dead throwing out an Ostendo sum verum, and neither (I hope) would Ron Weasley's brother in the Ministry of Magic (although I hear there is a chamber in the Ministry's lowest depths where evil robed Slytherin types do use it on those destined for Azkaban...)

Expecto phasmatis!

Yay! If you ever really, really wanted to, you could call up your own ghost. Hurrah! You need to learn a gajillion other spells to figure out what you should do with it.

Verto laganum!

This is probably the best spell in the history of all mankind. Ever. Make sure you're careful about where you're pointing your wand when you say it. It... ta-da... transforms an object into cake.

You could turn everything... anything... into cake.

This spell is irreversible. Be pretty sure you're in need of cake before you give it a try.

And no, you can't decide what sort of cake. Here's hoping you're pretty fond of Victoria Sponge.

Gingiber!

Translates as... 'ginger'! I'm very pro-ginger, as is most of the non-muggle kingdom, which is why this spell is not listed as one of the unforgiveable spells. The Weasley family were the subject of a misfired 'Gingiber!' a few generations back, and it hasn't done them any harm.

What other spells do you reckon Harry Potter used? Simply say the word, and with the aid of my huge knowledge of near-extinct languages and the Dark Arts (okay, online translator) I shall be happy to locate the spell of your choice.

Yay!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Hollywood Haikus - Wake Wood




Wake Wood

Pet Sematary
and The Wicker Man. Seen em?
Then you've seen Wake Wood.


This is an entry for the Best For Film Hollywood Haikus blogging competition. Enter now.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

B-movie silliness: DINOSHARK vs. NORWEGIAN NINJA



The party line is that I love B-Movies. The unofficial truth is that I love them... with reservation. It's getting harder to relate to them in the post-Buffy world of knowing meta-movie content.

Yes, it's great to be aware of your genre's heritage as a director. But B-movies were - as far as I can tell - three fifths enthusiasm, one fifth 'good lord, we've managed to secure ourselves a camera and a parking lot / quarry location' and one fifth script/cinematography/talent. That last fifth being the smallest, not all things being equal.

Now, B-movies can be a bit too knowing for their own good. Watching a modern, knowing B-movie can make you feel a little compromised, as all the elements are there except for the most important three fifths: genuinely artless enthusiasm.

I've recently watched two movies that you could probably affix a 'B' to: DINOSHARK and NORWEGIAN NINJA. Let battle commence...

DINOSHARK is one of those daft films that throws two unlikely creatures together and builds a monster movie out of it. That's it. That's the whole concept. Two words, several prosthetics, one joke.

It's worth noting that the guy who did DINOSHARK also did DINOCROC. He's found a vein of dino-related inspiration and he's going to mine it for all it's worth. Dino...Dog? Dino...Clerk? The possibilities are limitless.

Full of random attacks, the movie only builds pace and interest as it sets up the final scene (an impeding attack on beach volleyball contest, natch). I watched it with one eye on the clock but still derived secret pleasure from the prospect of a shark with a raptor's head leaping 100ft in the air to eat a parasailer.



Watch 'Norwegian Ninja' trailer

If you want an OUTSTANDING B-movie that's aware of itself and smart enough to work that to its advantage, I recommend NORWEGIAN NINJA. The link points to my review of it, and it's considerably better than its mozarella-laden name implies.

Is it referential? Oh, definitely. Just look at that painted - PAINTED - movie poster! NORWEGIAN NINJA has references aplenty, but is more than the sum of its pilfered parts.

Oddly, it covers the true story of the defection of a Norwegian diplomat during the Cold War era, as seen through the eyes of a guy who was a child at the time and grew up on a diet of ninja films and computer games. Filmed in seventiesvision with a plethora of dry, perfectly pitched jokes and that wonderfully slow and irreverent scandinavian approach to humour and timing, the film has somehow convinced me that the world of scandinavian politics is endearing. And has special ninja moves.

Lots of lovely DVD competitions - including Studio Ghibli


Every time I mention Japan I can't help but think of their terrible plight. Friends in Tokyo say that the country is decimated - even in cities like Tokyo which weren't officially affected.

Focusing on the positives, I'm a sucker for Japanese culture. From creative cosplay and the warm stickiness of sushi to the extraordinary anime industry (and Japanese horror, which I'm a big fan of), Japanese culture has massively enriched Western consumption. In a good way. A wonderful way.

Although Bestforfilm.com does DVD competitions pretty much every day (sadly, usually only region 2 and therefore of not much use to US film bloggers) there are currently two nice Europe-only Studio Ghibli comps going that I thought were worth a mention:


WIN: LAPUTA – CASTLE IN THE SKY on Double Play x 3!


Director Miyazaki creates truly amazing worlds that make you see with a child's eyes again. Addictively beautiful and beautifully addictive.

WIN: MY NEIGHBOURS THE YAMADAS on Double Play x 3!

It's not by Miyazaki (Spirited Away) who is the most famous Ghibli director, but it's a charming look at a very quirky family. Pretty, family-friendly and uplifting.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Frank Capra - You can't take it with you

I always shied away from watching IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE because everyone said it was too schmaltzy. So the first Frank Capra film I've ever watched, therefore, is YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU - a warm, fun version of Romeo and Juliet where a non-materialist eccentric family is conjoined with a banking dynasty through the love of their children.

I must say - it's brilliant. I now have a major crush on the sleepy-voiced young James Stewart. The eccentricities of the family are adorable, genuinely subversive and stand the test of time.

The wit and farce in this movie are sublime - maybe not entirely modern, but well-crafted and had me in stitches more times than when I watched DUE DATE - which, to be fair, I also enjoyed.

This movie dragged its heels a bit when Capra felt he needed to say something about the collapse of Wall Street and the Great Depression. The social comment was already there in the comedy premise, and leaving out the bankers' collapse could have knocked at least 15 minutes off a two hour movie that didn't need the padding.

Having said that, at the time of release the bits that felt slow and messy to me would have felt cathartic to the audience. So get hot, Mister Capra - you're a good egg!
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