Monday, September 19, 2011

Films I've Seen of Late -

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Seeing this after watching the recent BBC drama based on the same Baker Street-sleuth meant I inevitably drew comparisons. The style, pace and approach to the character of Sherlock is virtually identical - save for being set in different time periods - meaning this blockbuster interpretation didn't feel particularly fresh or new. Of course, Guy Ritchie got there first, so I shouldn't be criticizing him for his efforts. Both versions should can at least be applauded for returning to the guts and heart of the character rather than rely on victorian stereotypes. (8/10)

UP! (2009)
Yet another Pixar film to add to the list of films I've seen of late (thanks, JKY!). This is an oddity - very unlike Pixar films in my opinion. It's quite grown up in some ways, but also very silly in others. JKY didn't really like it the way he enjoyed Cars, and I myself came away not quite sure what to think of it. Having said that, I think it's a very imaginative and poignant film with some clever ideas and funny dialogue. I just don't think it's the masterpiece that everyone thinks it is (perhaps I need to give a few years to mature).

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Oh. Dear. Indy - what have you done? I know exactly what you've done - you've let George Lucas and Steven Spielberg gang rape a much-loved franchise that should have been left alone. Okay, maybe that's a little bit strong, but it's really obvious that Lucas & Co. were more interested in making money than making a good movie. Now I know that all three Indy films have numerous flaws (and Temple of Doom is choc-a-block full of 'em), but they were of a time when blockbusters couldn't reply on CGI to blind the audience, and things were just a little bit more innocent. If Crystal Skull had been released in 1991 or something it probably would have fitted nicely with the other films - but waiting 17 years was just too damn late. Please, Harrison, don't do any more.

Cars 2 (2011)
Initially, I thought this was quite good fun, but on reflection came to realise that Pixar finally dropped the ball. I guess they had to, eventually. Having said that, they only did it a little bit (Cars 2 has easily made its money back and is doing quite nicely on the merchandising front). Michael Caine steals the show as the British secret agent Finn MacMissile, but the film has too much violence (albeit in a car-based form) and espionage-speak to be a proper, quality kids animation. The story is muddled and contrived, failing to equal its predecessor which, admittedly, was a tough act to follow. Let's hope the team at Pixar learn their lessons before they finish Monsters Inc. 2.

Source Code (2011)
Jake Gyllenhaal tries to prevent a terrorist attack on Chicago by doing some quantum-mechanics timey-wimey stuff that doesn't make much sense. With a window of only eight minutes in a Groundhog Day-style time replay scenario, he has to suss out the nasty terrorist while trying to get it on with a girl who thinks he's someone else. Did you get all that?? It's complicated, but actually very watchable. Surprisingly short - only 89 mins long - it's a tight and lean piece that leaves you wondering at the end how it all fitted together. Some great performances from Gyllenhaal and the luvverly Vera Farmiga.

Kill Bill Vol 2 (2004)
Another oldie this one, but one I'd been meaning to see for ages having seen Vol 1 a couple of years ago. I think it's fair to say that the two films are very different animals. Vol 1 is very much an Anime appreciation flick, while Vol 2 nods towards Kung Fu with elements reminiscent of Pulp Ficiton. Even though it's slower, I prefer Vol 2 because it seems to focus more on the characters rather than rely heavily on gore and violence. Tarantino is firing on all cylinders in these films - I just find the swearing and violence a bit too much sometimes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Woman's War - something I've been involved with at work

My company, Candy Jar Books, launched a new book, called 'One Woman's War' back in July. Written by a World War Two veteran callend Eileen Younghusband, it is a collection of her memories from the war and how she took part in the top secret Filter Room, part of Fighter Command's Radar Defence system.

Eileen is an incredible woman - having just turned 90, she still has all her faculties and is passionate about telling people about the Filter Room. Her role was pivotal in assisting Radar Command during key moments during the war, and she feels it has been largely ignored by historians and the general public alike.

Amazingly, we managed to get her onto BBC Breakfast last week. She did really well and we're really proud of her. See her in action here...