Saturday, 31 January 2015

Film Review: Wild (2014)


© 20th Century Fox  |  Source: fandango

USA; 115 min.; drama, adventure, biography
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writing: Nick Hornby; based on the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Cinematography: Yves Bélanger
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Michiel Huisman, Mo McRae

“What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn't have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”  -- Cheryl Strayed

Wild is based on true events. When Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) loses her beloved mother Bobbi (Laura Dern) to cancer, her life begins to spin out of control. In order to escape drugs and promiscuity, she decides to travel at least 1,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own. The hiking route winding from California through Oregon and Washington up to British Columbia leads her through humid forests, snowy mountains, heated deserts, and, eventually, to self-discovery.

I was compelled by the trailer for Wild because it features breathtaking sceneries, an air of adventure and freedom, and, on top of these things, an intriguing story of affection between a woman and her mother. It hints at a tale of deep human relations, about pain and grief, about life and its hardships, and yet it conveys a zest for life that is truly captivating.

I can’t say that the actual film is any different. There are, indeed, spectacular views of nature’s beauty, and Cheryl’s solitary quest to finally cope with the tragedies in her life is a memorable adventure. It brings her in contact with all kinds of different people, from friendly and helpful to unpleasant and threatening. Her quest, however, is not only about the characters she meets, but much more about the obstacles she has to face all alone in the middle of nowhere. A heavy backpack, too-tight walking boots, rattle snakes, minimum food and water supply, no cell phone or internet connection to divert her – the film makes us aware of how used we have become to modern-day comforts and technologies, and how, in contrast to this, quiet contemplation can enrich our lives profoundly.

One of the things I enjoy most about Wild is the non-linear storytelling. Director Jean-Marc Vallée cleverly intertwines Cheryl’s hike with flashbacks from her self-destructive past as well as her childhood and teenage years. The impressions perfectly connect past and present stages of Cheryl’s life, help to gain a better understanding of her motivations and keep the narrative exciting. In addition to this, they bring across my favourite feature of the film: Cheryl’s relationship with her mother.

Although Reese Witherspoon is meant to carry the movie, it is Dern’s small yet heartfelt portrayal of Bobbi that is the true centrepiece of the movie. For my taste, Witherspoon, while being likeable enough to arouse my interest in her journey, lacks charisma and fearlessness to truly leave a vigorous impression. I find her portrayal too bland, too smooth and sweet, to reach me emotionally and fully allow me to believe her turmoil. I’m actually at a loss as to why her performance has generated so much awards buzz over the past few months when, for me, it really is the backdrop of Dern’s portrayal which gives Cheryl’s despair gravitas and the necessary amount of depth. However, I do applaud Witherspoon, who also functions as one of the producers of the film, for her efforts to bring Strayed’s autobiography to the big screen, especially since, sadly, intriguing stories with female leads are a rarity in the film business.

All in all, Wild is an intriguing, visually captivating portrayal of a woman’s grief and her brave way out of an emotional tragedy. It spreads an uplifting message about love and life, and makes us question how comfortable we really are in our state of material abundance. Unfortunately, the film cannot rely as much on its leading actress as it can on its unconventional way of storytelling and the engaging performance by a strong supporting actress.
 

Rating: 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Features: Manic Monday - Footloose (1984) Final Dance Scene


© Paramount Pictures | Source: BasementRejects

We all know they suck, those Mondays. Getting back to work, school, university or whatever terrible thing it is that you have to get back to at the dreaded beginning of the week, it is downright horrible.

For this very reason, we over here at BSP have decided to introduce a new category which is meant to chase off the blues we feel every time the clock strikes midnight after Sunday. Please welcome our Manic Monday!

From now on, every Monday we will post a tiny item meant to cheer you up and bring you safely through this friggin' mess of a day. Enjoy!

So, today, to start the week with a bang, let's get an 80s party started with Kevin Bacon, Kenny Loggins and the final dance of Footloose (1984)



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Award Shows: 2015 Golden Globes - Rina's Top 5 Fashion Favourites


Public Domain  |  Source: pixabay

It's been ten days since the ceremony, and I guess I already miss the 2015 Golden Globes. So, this might actually be the perfect time to get all girly and look back at my personal fashion favourites of this year's event. Buckle up, bring out your lipstick and join me in marvelling at my Top 5 of the 72nd Golden Globe Awards.



© Getty Images  |  Source: MTV



Number 5
Into the Woods actress Anna Kendrick in a lovely Monique Lhuillier gown with subtle matching jewellery. The colours look fresh and perfectly bring out her light complexion and dark hair colour. I love the neckline and how the dress flows lightly around her legs, giving her an air of youthful easiness paired with elegance.



© Getty Images  |  Source: US Magazine






Number 4
Best Supporting actress nominee Jessica Chastain in Atelier Versace. The bronze colour is spectacular, complimenting her fair complexion and beautiful red hair. Completed by expressive eye make-up, this look harbours glamour and classic grace.



© Getty Images |  Source: People' s Choice





Number 3
Model and actress Diane Kruger in a silver gown by Emilia Wickstead. Skintight at the top and finished with a small train at the bottom, this look is simple and yet bound to outshine all the others. Love the handbag, jewellery and nail polish.




© WireImage  |  Source: US Magazine





Number 2
Best Actress winner Amy Adams in a baby-blue Atelier Versace, which makes her stunning red hair and lovely blue eyes shine. The classy one-shoulder cut fits her perfectly and brings out her ability to channel classic Hollywood  beauty and glamour. Besides, it's hard to go wrong with Tiffany jewellery.



© WireImage  |  Source: US Magazine




Number 1
Best Actress nominee Felicity Jones is new to the big red carpet events of the world, and yet she already knows how to stun in a graceful teal Dior gown. The wide-cut dress makes her look perfectly royal. Love the hair style and the decent, yet fitting jewellery. I'm still gushing.










Who were your fashion favourites of the evening? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Film Review: The Conjuring (2013)




©New Line Cinema | Source: pixgood.com

 USA; 112 min.;horror, based on true story, supernatural
Director: James Wan
Writing: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Cinematography: John R. Leonetti
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton, Sterling Jerins

"The devil exists. God existst. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges on which we decide to follow."  -- Ed Warren

With the days being shorter and the cold nights longer, what better way is there to celebrate the dark season than by watching a really good horror movie? And by really good I mean a movie that presupposes a none too small degree of masochism on part of its viewers; a kind of movie you watch for the thrills, only to realise that you are still creeped out of your wits at the creak of a floorboard or the bubbling of the radiator even long after the movie has come to an end. A movie that would haunt you even into the depths of your sleep is what I was looking for, and The Conjuring (2013) was strongly recommended to me.

Let's check the general setup first: we have an idyllic, though slightly dilapidated Victorian house that could be a dream home to any family with children, but unfortunately it happens to be haunted. Then we have Annabelle, a creepy doll that gives you chills just looking at, so you can’t really imagine how any little girl, no matter how far back in the past could actually have had the guts to play with it. Next up would be our very clichéd small town family with five (!) daughters, a team of ghost hunters, an exorcism and demons. And to raise the level of creepiness even higher, the movie is based on a true story: the story of the ghost hunters Loraine and Ed Warren.

The movie starts with two women telling the Warrens about the doll Annabelle. In a fit of utter naiveté they have given the doll the permission to haunt them, because they pitied the poor ghost that possessed it. Those first five minutes about Annabelle, which have less to do with the actual story than with its sequel or rather prequel, already have the potential to have the body of a timid person go into adrenaline-filled survival mode – racing heart, teary eyes and sweaty hands included.

After that first part we move on to the Perron family, who have bought a new house, only to realise it is haunted by something evil. In the very first night it kills their dog and then proceeds to terrorise the family. Nothing really creative here; doors and walls are pounded, pictures thrown from the walls, cupboards opened and closed and the girls are pulled at their legs (haha), but the strong point of the movie is how mood and tension are created. There are moments in which you don’t expect a thing and *BAM* a pair of legs from a hung woman come dangling into the screen. However, then you have other scenes when the camera work and the music already set the stage for something big to happen, keeping you at the edge of your seat with anticipation and then – nothing. Like the family, the viewer is kept in a state of ignorance, never really sure what to expect and when to expect it, which creates quite a lot of heart attack moments throughout the movie.

Anyhow, to protect her family, the mother, Carolyn Perron, approaches the Warrens, after they gave a lecture on paranormal investigations. Despite having some second thoughts about it, they take up the case and soon discover that the house is not only haunted by a single but multiple ghosts.

Now to the question if “The Conjuring” really is all that blood-curdling scary as is widely proclaimed – I’m not really able to make up my mind about that. It is without a doubt one of the scariest movies I’ve seen these past years and especially the first half kept my heart in a constant race against any semblance of calm. The latter part ceases to maintain that same level. As I said the strongest point of the movie is how mood is created and how it plays with the viewers’ imagination – unmistakably the place where the most frightening of all scenarios find their origin. Once it becomes too overt and starts to show rather than imply, there isn’t all that much left to the imagination anymore. But since this change happens towards the end of the movie, it doesn’t diminish its quality too gravely. 

So, did The Conjuring result in a sleepless night for me? Nope. Would I have dared to peek under my bed in the middle of the night? I’d like to say yes, but that’s always easy to say afterwards and I can’t really imagine doing any such thing, since I’m not really one to push my luck. All in all The Conjuring is a must-have for every horror movie collection and perfect for a spooky night!



Rating: 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Award Shows: 2015 Golden Globe Nominations & Winners


Source: Indiewire


Here are the nominees and winners of the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. The ceremony was held on 11 January 2015.

Who were you rooting for? Which of your favourite movies or TV shows didn't make the list? Whose performance did you like best? Whose was the worst? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section of this post.

* Winner



Best Motion Picture - Drama
* Boyhood

Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything


Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler

David Oyelowo for Selma  
* Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything


Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Jennifer Aniston for Cake
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
* Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon for Wild



Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Birdman
* The Grand Budapest Hotel

Into the Woods
Pride
St. Vincent

 

Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel

* Michael Keaton for Birdman
Bill Murray for St. Vincent

Joaquin Phoenix for Inherent Vice
Christoph Waltz for Big Eyes


Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
* Amy Adams for Big Eyes
Emily Blunt for Into the Woods
Helen Mirren for The Hundred Foot Journey
Julianne Moore for Maps to the Stars
Quvenzhané Wallis for Annie
 


Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Robert Duvall for The Judge
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood

Edward Norton for Birdman
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher 

* J.K. Simmons for Whiplash


Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
* Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Jessica Chastain for A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
Emma Stone for Birdman

Meryl Streep for Into the Woods


Best Director - Motion Picture
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ava DuVernay for Selma
David Fincher for Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman
* Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl
* A. González Iñárritu, N. Giacobone, A. Dinelaris, A. Bo for Birdman
Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Graham Moore for The Imitation Game

 

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
Lana Del Rey, "Big Eyes" for Big Eyes
* John Legend, Common, "Glory" for Selma

Lorde, "Yellow Flicker Beat" for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Sia, "Opportunity" for Annie
Patty Smith, Lenny Kaye, "Mercy Is" for Noah


Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game

* Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything
Trent Reznor for Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez for Birdman
Hans Zimmer for Interstellar



Best Animated Film
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
* How to Train Your Dragon 2

The Lego Movie


Best Foreign Language Film
Force Majeure Turist (Sweden)
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem Gett (Israel)
Ida (Poland/Denmark)
* Leviathan (Russia)
Tangerines Mandariinid (Estonia)
 


Best Television Series - Drama
* The Affair

Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
House of Cards



Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama
Clive Owen for The Knick
Liev Schreiber for Ray Donovan
* Kevin Spacey for House of Cards
James Spader for The Blacklist
Dominic West for The Affair


Best Actress in a Television Series - Drama
Claire Danes for Homeland
Viola Davis for How to Get Away with Murder
Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife
* Ruth Wilson for The Affair
Robin Wright for House of Cards


Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Girls

Jane the Virgin

Orange Is the New Black 
Silicon Valley 
* Transparent


Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Don Cheadle for House of Lies
Louis C.K. for Louie
Ricky Gervais for Derek
William H. Macy for Shameless
* Jeffrey Tambor for Transparent

Best Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Lena Dunham for Girls
Edie Falco for Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep
* Gina Rodriguez for Jane the Virgin
Taylor Schilling for Orange Is the New Black



Best Mini-Series or TV Movie
* Fargo
The Missing

The Normal Heart
Olive Kitteridge
True Detective



Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie
Martin Freeman for Fargo
Woody Harrelson for True Detective

Matthew McConaughey for True Detective
Mark Ruffalo for The Normal Heart
* Billy Bob Thornton for Fargo


Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie
* Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Honourable Woman
Jessica Lange for American Horror Story

Frances McDormand for Olive Kitteridge
Frances O'Connor for The Missing
Allison Tolman for Fargo



Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie 
* Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart
Alan Cumming for The Good Wife
 
Colin Hanks for Fargo
Bill Murray for Olive Kitteridge
Jon Voight for Ray Donovan
 


Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie 
Uzo Aduba for Orange Is the New Black
Kathy Bates for American Horror Story
* Joanne Froggatt for Downton Abbey
Allison Janney for Mom
Michelle Monaghan for True Detective

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Data Base: Skins UK



© E4 | Source: Facebook


Series Premiere 25 January, 2007
Series Finale 5 August, 2013
Genre Teenie-drama, Comedy
Country of Origin United Kingdom
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 61
Running Time 44-48 minutes
ChannelE4
Website http://www.channel4.com/programmes/skins
Developed by Bryan Elsley
Jamie Brittain
Starring Lisa Backwell, Ollie Barbieri, Joe Dempsey, Mitch Hewer , Nicholas Hoult, Lily Loveless, Merveille Lukeba, Hannah Murray, Jack O’Connel, Luke Pasqualino, Dev Patel, April Pearson, Kathryn Prescott, Megan Prescott, Kaya Scodelario, Larissa Wilson
Guest Stars Worth Mentioning


Synopsis

Skins UK casts a look into the lives of a group of British teenagers as they learn about love, friendship and what it means to be growing up. The storyline covers dysfunctional families, drug abuse, homosexuality, mental illnesses and death, but never loses its humour, despite all these grave topics.



Yay or nay?

Definitely a yay. The show is witty, humorous, tragic and silly all at the same time. There is really no comparison to the abysmal US version of it. Especially the first two seasons are really captivating and make you feel and care for the fate of the characters. But to all those people who are interested in building up long term commitments to fictional characters, be aware that there is a change in cast every two seasons, so you might not want to get too attached (like that is even possible.) Also, at least in my opinion, the first generation is the benchmark against which all other generations are measured, but sadly can’t keep up with – which doesn’t mean that they are not fun to watch. Just go ahead and see for yourself.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Film Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)


© 20th Century Fox | Source: moviepilot.com 

UK, USA, Spain; 150 min.; Bible adaptation, adventure, drama, action
Director: Ridley Scott
Writing: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian
Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski
Cast: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, María Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Hiam Abbass, Ewen Bremner, Indira Varma

"You sleep well because you know that you're loved. I've never slept that well."  -- Ramses

After watching Exodus: Gods and Kings I had the song “Let My People Go” stuck in my head, and the urge to read up on Moses and his fantastical adventures. No matter whether you’re and atheist or belong to any kind of denomination, the Bible can be enjoyed as a work of literature containing lots of entertaining stories around supernatural events, moral themes and intriguing interpersonal relations – basically the stuff good movies are made of.

Yes, director Ridley Scott has all the right ingredients to turn the tale of the escape of the Israelites from the oppressive Pharaoh of Egypt’s land into a worthwhile blockbuster. I like how, in this film, he establishes Moses (Christian Bale) as a rationalist, a skilled warrior and a vital part of the royal household. Well-regarded by Pharaoh Seti I (John Turturro) and considered a brother by the heir apparent, Ramses (Joel Edgerton), Moses is shocked to find out about his Hebrew origins and forced into exile. There, after a head injury, he is haunted by visions of a young boy who claims to be a representation of God. The child imposes on him the task to free the Hebrew community in Egypt from the yoke of hard labour and unacceptable living conditions. Moses obeys promptly and embarks on a years-long mission.

The initial situation of the film is very promising. As a sucker for family drama, I was interested to see how the discord between Moses and Ramses might alter their brotherly friendship. As a fan of psychological storytelling, I was keen on finding out how Scott would explore the shift from Moses’ prudent and no-bullshit personality to a God-fearing and spiritual character. As a lover of epic visuals, I was expecting captivating scenes with a resonating power.

When it comes to the latter, I’m far from being disappointed. The movie shines when depicting battle scenes, the part when Moses guides the Hebrew community through the Red Sea or, my favourite sequence, when the ten plagues befall the Egyptian society. There is something magical about these moments, something supernatural, and yet Scott refrains from visual hyperbole. By clothing these scenes in a more realistic look than in an exaggerated expression of wizardly force, and by trying to root them in rational explanation, I find them to be even more thrilling. Additionally, the more realistic approach lends a more intriguing aspect to Moses’ character. I’m left to wonder whether he’s really a God-chosen messenger or rather an activist with severe brain damage and a bunch of good luck.

When it comes to an exciting plot structure or compelling character development, however, the film falls flat. Really flat. After the promising start, Exodus: Gods and Kings soon turns into a mere sequence of ‘then-this-happened-and-then-that-happened’. There is no satisfying explanation why Moses abandons his firm rationality for religious obedience, why he gives in to febrile visions. The dispute between him and Ramses stays on a superficial level.

It is a shame, really, because both Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton deliver good performances, but are severely restrained by a lacklustre script. Bale harbours the physicality and authority necessary to fill such a role. However, he doesn’t get the opportunity to dig deeper into the psychological mechanisms behind Moses’ actions. Edgerton brings a beautiful ambivalence to his character. Spoilt, cruel and vain, yet kind and caring to the people he loves. His performance bursts with undisclosed potential. Furthermore, talented actors and actresses in supporting roles, such as Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Aaron Paul, are left with hardly anything to do.

The film definitely has its moments. It’s visually appealing and features an intriguing premise. However, I can’t help thinking how much potential has been wasted. Oh, if only Ridley Scott had spent some more effort on character development and balance, then maybe the story would not have felt so rushed, then maybe it would’ve had a more vigorous effect. Then maybe the underlying commentary on tyranny, religious activism and God’s supposed kindness would not have felt so lost.


Rating: