Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Easter Film Fest!

Gosh, have I really not posted since Friday? Hasn't time flown! Unlike most of England I'm not back at work today (hooray for working for a University!) and am enjoying my last day of freedom by doing not very much at all. And it's wonderful! That's not to say I haven't got tons to do - I have. I decided to redecorate my bedroom on Monday and, as a result, my tiny hall way is FULL of bedroom stuff and I need step through it carefully, Crystal Maze style, to avoid something falling over and trapping me forever midway between the living room and the kitchen.

Unfortunately I still need to do a second coat in the bedroom but I can't be bothered so the hallway will remain cluttered until this weekend when I'll brave the paint pots and roller again. Am I the only person in the world to get completely spattered with paint when I use a roller? When I finished the first coat yesterday it was in my hair, on my face, all over my black top and down my jeans. Even my toenail varnish turned from blood red to polka dot style.

And don't get me started on the dinner plate sized splodge of paint on the bedroom carpet. I backed into the bookcase and knocked the roller tray onto the floor. Gah! I scrubbed and scrubbed the carpet with warm water and washing up liquid and there's still a big magnolia-coloured stain. Looks like I'm going to have to add 'replace bedroom carpet' to my list of things to do. What a pain!

Anyway, enough moaning. Other than my decorating hell yesterday I had a great Easter. I polished off my Thornton's Easter egg on Friday and spent the weekend either shopping or watching DVDs. Great!

First off...

Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this film. Some films try and capture the essence of magic and fail miserably (too twee, too stoopid or too sickly sweet) but not this film. Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is about a magical toyshop run by 243 year old Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) and managed by struggling composer Mahoney (Natalie Portman) and frequented by a friendless, hat-obsessed little boy (Zach Mills). The film's theme (about believing in magic and the value of play) isn't a subtle one but this is a children's film.

What really touched me was a parallel I couldn't help making between Mahoney's lack of confidence in her musical ability and my lack of confidence in my writing ability and how grey the world can (literally) become when you stop believing in yourself. It sounds cheesy but the end of the film (I won't spoil it) made me well up. If you're struggling with self confidence you could do worse than watch this film. If nothing else it'll transport you back to your childhood when you believed in magic and miracles (unless your heart is made of stone). It's also a film that will, I'm sure, delight children.

It's not a perfect film by any means. I found Dustin Hoffman's Mr Magorium a teeny bit annoying for a start but it's the best film of this type I've seen for a long time.

Score: 9/10

Two Days in Paris

I just looked at the reviews of this film on Amazon and was surprised to see that opinion is very much split. It seems you either love this film or you hate it. I loved it. Written, directed and starring the very talented Julie Delphy (Marion) and co-starring Adam Goldberg (Jack) the film explores 2 days in a couple's 2 year relationship. On holiday in Europe the couple travel to Paris to explore the city and visit Marion's parents. So far so uninspiring right but I was hugely amused by the interaction between the French family and American, neurotic, germ-obsessed Jack who doesn't speak French. Delphy's keen eye for family dynamics and excellent use of dialogue made me laugh out loud several times.

What she does even better, if that's possible, is the relationship between Marion and Jack. She's so spot on she made me cringe several times as the couple goes from light hearted banter to full blown argument. This is a couple so insecure and jealous they constantly second guess each other and push each other's buttons. During the course of the film several of Marion's exes appear out of the woodwork causing Jack to become more and more possessive and more and more obsessed with her past. Your sympathy switches from Marion to Jack and back as you try and work out who's in the right (if either of them are). You might laugh, you might cringe but you will feel like a voyeur, watching someone else's relationship play out.

If you've even had an argument with a partner about your exes or your past you'll be able to relate to this film. Probably one to watch to with the girls rather than your partner though!

Score: 8/10

Away From Her

Julie Christie was nominated for an Oscar for this film and I was really looking forward to seeing it...BUT...I couldn't help but compare it with Iris [2002] (starring Judy Dench and Jim Broadbent) which is one of my favourite films ever...and this film really suffered in comparison.

I never really believed in the relationship between Fiona and Grant in the same way I did between Iris and her husband. As a result I didn't feel as distraught as I thought I might when Fiona goes off to a care home and, while Christie's portrayal of an Alzheimer sufferer was certainly subtle it didn't make me ache in the same way Dench did. With Dench I felt her confusion and fear with Christie it all felt so wishy washy and just...I don't know...fine (like having Alzheimers wasn't the worst thing in the world). There were some touching moments in this film but it was too slow, too gentle, too meandering to pull me in. In Iris the two main characters constantly interact, they bounce off each other, they argue with each other, they cry, they scream, they're human...in Away From Here they're constantly at arm's length, two stranger in effect and, as a result, there's no dramatic tension.

Maybe if I hadn't seen (and loved) Iris I might have liked Away From Her more. Shame.

Score: 6/10

Oh! I did do one thing writing-related. I edited a short story to send off to a woman's magazine. That makes two subs this month. Better than nothing I suppose!


Maddie Moon said...

You're decorating antics made me smile. My heroine is in the middle of a paint-rollering fest and has been getting in a similar paint splattered state.

Interesting to hear about those films, I haven't seen any of them, but think I will have to get the Dustin Hoffman one out for the kids to see. I can't believe it's out on DVD already, only seems the other day we were in the cinema saying, 'oh yes we must come and see that one, too!'

Cal said...

Maddie - I forgot to add the hand splats on my best black, leather chair where I forgot I had paint on my hands and moved my chair from one side of the room to another!

Oh, should add that you can't rent Mr Magorium on Region 2 over here yet (I watched an American Region 1 version). Region 2 is out in May.

L-Plate Author said...

You're back! I've missed you. You sound like you had a great time anyway. Me was decorating too...xx

A. Writer said...

Busy busy busy! Do you ever sit still? I can imagine you doing stuff even while you are watching all the movies... and if you're not doing anything then you're thinking about doing something.

Are you going to the NR Meet?

Cal said...

L-Plate: Aw, it's always nice to know you're missed :o) Hope your decorating was less messy than mine!

AWriter: Tis true, I find it very hard just to chill and do nothing. I normally watch TV and surf the net or knit at the same time. I've got a poor attention span! And yep, am defo coming to the NR meet :o)

A. Writer said...

Ah, multi-tasking. Aren't women great for that!

Goodie! Looking forward to meeting you in person! So excited!

Yvonne said...

Thanks for the film reviews! You're all go, hope the rest of the decorating goes to plan!

Debs said...

Decorating always seems like a good idea until you're half way through (or so I find).

I loved the Mr Magorium film (caught it on Sky not having heard of it before) far more than I would have thought.

I should think you need to go back to work for a rest after all that painting.

L-Plate Author said...

Yes, it was but we do have a Staffie with a white leg and side now xx

HelenMH said...

I love the sound of the polka dot toe nail polish! You could market that! Good film reviews too - I've decided I don't watch enough DVDs!

Maddie Moon said...

Ouch, for the leather chair! I hope it wiped clean. Ah, so it was only the other day that I saw that trailer in the cinema. May seems more like it!
Have just noticed my howler of a typo in my earlier comment. You're/Your tch! You knew what I meant, didn't you!!!

JJ said...

Cal, just seen your answer to A writer that you're def coming. I will invite you to the 'other' blog, okay?

KAREN said...

You're still being a busy bee!
I haven't seen any of those films yet - especially as I'd heard not have to give it a whirl. Watched Michael Clayton at the weekend...so looking forward to seeing George Cloooney, but it was so boring I fell asleep :(

Quillers said...

I always end up covered in paint if I use a roller (or a paint brush or just carry a sealed can of paint from one room to another...)

Interesting sounding films there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on them!

Rosie said...

Before you give up on the bedroom carpet, Cally, try deep cleaning it with a Vax or similar. Success probably depends on the carpet's composition, but it worked for me so you never know. Good luck!

Cal said...

A.Writer - I'm looking forward to meeting everyone too (and a teeny bit nervous!)

Yvonne - me too! Let's face it I can't make much more of a mess. Can I?!

Debs - Absolutely! It's always about halfway through isn't it? Although I have to admit that when I started lugging furniture around and filling up my hallway I started to wonder what I was doing and I hadn't even dipped a brush in the paint at that point!

Lplate - Awww, poor dog. But your comment did make me laugh!

Helenmh - the polka dot nailvarnish does look strangely good actually. Not sure how you'd make it though (a bit like tartan paint!) Yes, watch more DVDs. I call it writing research (it's all fiction isn't it ;o))

Maddie - I got MOST of the paint off the leather chair but it could do with a second scrub. Later... ;o)

JJ - cool. See you soon :o)

Karen - Oooh I really wanted to see Michael Clayton. Might not be in such a hurry now I know it's snooze-worthy!

Quillers - Glad to hear it's not just me!

Rosie - thanks for the tip. The carpet's a bit (lot) worn anyway. I think a Vaxing might totally destroy it. I really should replace it for the potential tenant(probably just as well I poured paint all over it!)