Ghost World vs Ghost World


I recently discovered the Ghost World Anniversary Collection at my local library and could not resist. I remember when the film came out in 2001 and thinking it was not bad, but not amazing. I liked the characters, but didn’t really get who they were, why we were following them and what was going to happen. But nonetheless, I wanted to revisit it.

I loved the graphic novel. I loved the characters of Enid and Rebecca with all of their disillusioned, self-centred, misfit teenage angst. Each strip was about five or six pages long and told a self-contained story whilst sticking with a broader overall narrative. Reading the original graphic novel, I felt like I was entering into a special world.

The Anniversary Collection consists of the original along with other artwork (posters, advertisements, magazine covers and the like), interviews with Daniel Clowe and others involved in the motion picture and the full script of the film. I liked the script because it reflected a lot of what had occurred in the strip, but modified to be a dramatically interesting film.

Ghost World-01

Of course, I then had to watch the film. I was so disappointed, and I cannot explain why. Only a few scenes from the script in the book deviated from the book, and the portrayal of the characters was very close to how I had imagined them. The actors were great, in particular Thora Birch as Enid, Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca and Steve Buscemi as Seymour Somehow, though, the film lacked heart. Suddenly, Enid was as much of an annoying, angsty teenager as Caulfield Holden in Catcher in the Rye, and I could not bear her self-centred actions and disregard for anyone but herself. It was as though what came across in the book as silly mistakes that had unfortunate consequences seemed, in the film, to be heartless and cold. For me, I’m going to stick with the comic strip in the future.

The film of Ghost World was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.

He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) Film Review


Surely it is hardly surprising that a film based on a self-help book is not that great. That much didn’t surprise me. I didn’t really expect it to be quite as misogynistic as it was. The women are awful to each other. The men are awful to the women. The women are awful to the men. Actually, maybe it’s not misogyny as such. Maybe it is just a bunch of horrible, horrible people.

Gigi (Ginnie Goodwin) is single and desperate, but keeps getting let down by men. She ends up adopting bartender Alex (Justin Long) as her go-to man for revealing the secrets of men – what they really mean when they say and do various things. Meantime, her colleague Beth (Jennifer Aniston) breaks up with her long-term partner Neil (Ben Affleck) because he will not marry her. Then wannabe singer Anna (Scarlett Johansson) is pursuing married man Ben (Bradley Cooper) at the advice of her best friend, Mary (Drew Barrymoore).

Some of the advice is good. But the film is not.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Film Review


Barcelona is beautiful, and I find it hard to believe that anything film there could not appear beautiful. Add in some romance, lust and some very attractive people and you have a film that is pleasant to look at.

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina Scarlett Johansson) are friends who have gone to Barcelona for the summer. Vicky is engaged to a conservative, button-down man back in the states, and Cristina is wild and restless, looking for new and interesting experiences. They meet Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a passionate artist who proposes weekend away where he hopes they will have a lot of fun and hopefully end up in bed together. Vicky is repulsed, but Cristina is intrigued, so they go. Over the summer, Vicky’s notion of her life as a wife and lover is challenged, whilst Cristina finds the new experiences she is hoping for, yet continues to search.

I enjoyed the film, but felt totally let down at the end. It was as though both had had experiences that changed their lives and minds, yet they barely appear changed. Although I suspect this is the pretty much the point of the film. I guess I just wanted more.

For me, the film is worth seeing just for Penelope Cruz as the overly dramatic and passionate ex-wife of Juan Antonio – marvelous, wild and exciting.

Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

Hitchcock (2012) Film Review


Surely, everyone has seen Psycho. If you study Media at high school, you’ve probably studied it. It’s a great film, well structured, and has given the world the shower scene, one of the most well-known attack scenes ever. I’d never thought about the process of getting it made in 1960. The film has adultery, robbery, murder, cross-dressing and whatever it is called with the dead mother’s corpse. Really, it is a surprise that it was made.

Hitchcock tells the story of Alfred (Antony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), their love and her role in his career. It’s a good film. It’s better than good, but a long way from great. The performances are strong, and I wasn’t at all bothered by the extreme make-up used on Hopkins to make him look like Alfred Hitchcock. The story is complete and concise, and tell the story well. But it didn’t blow me away. Interesting, but not overly exciting.

Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel have been nominated for an Oscar for Makeup and Hairstyling

Helen Mirren was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and was nominated for a BAFTA for Leading Actress

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) Film Review


What’s happened to Eric Bana? In my youth, he was a stand-up comedian who was huge on a sketch comedy show, then he started making films and ended up in a few fabulous Hollywood films. And now? Come back, Eric. Looking at IMDB, there are a few projects in the wings for him for 2013. Good.

But back to the film. If you know anything about your Henry VIII history, you’ll know that he wasn’t the best guy to be married to. Especially if you were Anne Boleyn. She got her head chopped off. This film follows the relationships between Anne, Henry and her sister, the other Boleyn girl, Mary.

I am always concerned to take history from films; of course, things are dramatised to make a good story and to keep the audience interested. Apparently, she was the lover of Henry VIII and had considerable influence.

Regardless of the exact truths of the film, it’s a good story. The film is not just about the relationships that the king had with these two women, but is about the politics of the time, with various fathers and relatives maneuvering the women into the favour of the king. It’s worth a watch. For sure.

The Avengers (2012) Film Review


So much of what I want in a good action film can be found right here – lots of superheroes, fights, ego clashes, and a city being destroyed by aliens. Marvelous. (of course it’s Marvelous. It’s from Marvel)

Loki and the ice gods from the film Thor have come to Earth to take over (If you haven’t seen Thor, there is some background to The Avengers in it which is good, but not totally necessary). Secret government agency Shield is stepping in to deal with it, and assemble their crack team; Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Dr Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Captain America (Chris Evans). All those egos, all those different approaches, and of course, it almost brings the team apart. But, they learn to work together, and that’s what’s important in life.

It’s possibly not important to have seen the various films leading up to this one before, although I’m still not sure who Hawkeye is and how he fits into the whole Shield picture. Natasha Romanov had a part in Iron Man 2, and seeing that again after seeing The Avengers gives her character some background, but not too much.

The thing I loved the most about this flick was the quick-witted dialogue, and it was not surprised to see Joss Whedon credited as director and co-writer in the closing credits. That and seeing Robert Downey Jnr and Mark Ruffalo onscreen bantering, which was pretty awesome.

As with all of these Marvel films, watch to the end of the credits – there’s a teaser for a future adventure. Hopefully, The Avengers 2 – let’s get these guys back together. Oooh, just checked IMDB… The Avengers 2 – 2015!

The Avengers was nominated for an Oscar for Visual Effects and a BAFTA for Special Visual Effects.

The Prestige (2006) – Film Review


I don’t like magic. It’s not that I need to know what happens, I just don’t really like it. I quite like little close-up magic tricks, like having a coin appear from behind my ear, but the whole stage-show, big effects with the man strutting around and a woman in sequins flashing about… not my scene. The only time I’ve ever liked watching anything magic related was Jonathon Creek, and that’s more for the mystery bits and pieces.

The Prestige follows two magicians – Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) as they compete to be the best in London. It’s a long film and I got frustrated, but I think it was not so much the length, but the fact that I didn’t really believe the rivalry between these two men. Despite events which clearly set up the rivalry, I just didn’t feel it. And Christian Bale’s accent drove me nuts. But, as always, I persevered, and I’m so glad I did. This is one of those films which sets a lot of stuff up without you even realising it, and then suddenly it all pays off. I want to see it again to find all the hints and to see how much is foreshadowed.

The Prestige was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Art Direction and Best Achievement in Cinematography.