Saturday, June 30, 2007

A little experiment.

I'm going to review a film using solely avatars as visual aids. Tell me what you think.

The film I'm reviewing is The Seven Year Itch, by the way.

Whereas the female sex symbols of today include the likes (eww) of Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Abi Titmuss, none of these shall ever reach the level of allure attained by Miss Marilyn Monroe as The Girl in Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch. With platinum blonde curls, bright blue eyes, babydoll voice and perfectly attained figure featuring more curves than a slinky, no man then could refuse her, as no man could today. And certainly not Tom Ewell, who has been married seven years and, when his wife and son go away on holiday, he vows not to smoke, drink, and especially not to have fun with other women. But this is all before he sees Monroe and the eponymous 'seven year itch' refers to the urge to be cheat after seven years of matrimony, with a desire to satisfy one's sexual urges (the itch in question.)

Of course, with the heavy censorship of the 50s, The Seven Year Itch was considered pretty risqué for its time, and now, with societies unflinching gaze and knowledge of all things sexual, the movie seems extremely tame. Furthermore, many lines and scenes from the play had to be cut because they were deemed to be unsuitable by the Hays Office. But The Seven Year Itch, in its original, comedic look at infidelity and lust, is a perfect example of when all the naughty stuff goes on offstage, for the audience’s imagination, which heightens the boiling tension as well as naughty frivolity.

My second favourite director Billy Wilder did a fantastic job creating a film so full of life and vitality. The innocence and flirting are very casual and light, like the Summer in which the story was filmed in. Ewell's bumbling portrayal of Richard Sherman is delightful as his facial expressions and comedy timing are not to be faulted, and conveys his characters neuroses perfectly. That is not to say however, that his character doesn’t get hugely annoying at times.

But of course, the movie is best remembered for the definitive performance of the glowing Marilyn Monroe, portraying herself as a dumb-but-sweet blonde bombshell, and known simply as The Girl. The film's adverts all packaged her as the sexually-endowed girl next door, and the scene where she stands over a subway grate and a breeze blows up her white dress has become one of the most iconic of all time. Giving one of her finest turns, which is, like her characters says, "just elegant," she displays a talent for comedy as well as beauty, which should not be overlooked.



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Monday, June 25, 2007

Mr. Brando has a message for you all.

Read.

"Don't miss Emma's blogathon coming in 12 days time, the Performance that Changed My Life blogathon. Because she really wants you to take part.

If you intend on doing so, just reply here, or, if you wish, send her an e-mail at plectrumperfect@hotmail.co.uk, telling her your plans.

Happy blogging. Now I'm off to continue looking smokin'."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Catherine Tate is a Goddess.

"Am I bovvered?"









My 20 favourite pieces of music composed for a film, ever.

In conjunction with Damian's excellent Film Music Blogathon at Windmills of My Mind.

One Zummer once said, “Film is a predominantly visual medium, which means the general purpose of a music score is to capture and reinforce the essence of a film, generally without drawing attention to itself.” Well, I’m sorry, but I disagree. Being a musician myself, I feel that music is one of the principal, if not the principal element to telling a story, and if the score ends up being so beautiful it outdoes the film itself, then so be it. Today, I’ve chosen my 20 favourite pieces of music ever composed for film, and invite you to listen to their mastery. (Some you can enjoy in the form of YouTube vids, others through downloads.) And note - quite a lot of Newman on here, because, he's kind of my favourite composer. Ever. Ever. Ever!!!!!!

01. The Heart Asks Pleasure First (Michael Nyman, The Piano)

Take from the words of poet Emily Dickinson, this is my choice for favourite, most haunting, and best piece of music ever composed for film. This piano piece enhances the ethereal, raw emotions felt by Ada in the movie, and also just happens to be a case of darn good music, Nyman's execution of this score is nothing less than perfect, and the playing blew me away.

02. First Day (Thomas Newman, Finding Nemo)


I thought I may have quite a lot of Newman (my favourite film composer) on this list, et voila, I was right! Finding Nemo is my favourite film score, and it was so hard to pick a favourite from the list, but finally, I settled for First Day, which is played early on in the film over the shot of Marlin taking Nemo to his first day at school. With pizzicati and orchestra, Newman captures the vast nature of the ocean, and hints at the playfulness and peril to follow. It’s just exquisite.

03. Comptine d'un autre été: L'après midi (Yann Tiersen, Amélie)
So good, that Tiersen ripped himself off and re-used it in Goodbye Lenin, this gorgeously sad piece that encompasses both the beauty of Paris and the joie de vivre of the film. A true example of how music can lift one’s soul into Heaven.

04. Prologue (Alexandre Desplat, Birth)
Along with Newman, Desplat is the most talented working composer of today, and his work on Birth epitomizes this fact. Although difficult to choose a favourite of his, I went for Prologue from Birth, simply for the eerily scary way it suited the images, and set the tone for the rest of the movie.

05. Love Theme (Ennio Morricone, Cinema Paradiso)

06. The Wings (Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain)

It's brief, but it's also undersated, heartbreaking, and utterly brilliant. Santaolalla deservedly won the Oscar for his work here.

07. Dead Already (Thomas Newman, American Beauty)




08. Theme from Schindler’s List (John Williams, Schindler’s List)
To be honest, there's nothing to say here that I haven't covered in my review of the score, but I'll just say it again - I had the pleasure of learning this stunning track for my grade 7 violin, and unlike most of my violin pieces that I learn, studying this simply enhanced my adoration for the piece. It meanders through octaves, with elegance and grace, with heartbreakingly simple harmonic progressions that truly touch the soul. Possibly one of the most recognisable pieces of music composed, and rightly so.
09. First Snow (Clint Mansell, The Fountain)
Sadly, I don't have my iPod with me (I left it at school, I'm an idiot, I know) , so I can't upload this genius of composition, but another track on the Fountain score that I loved to pieces was Death is the Road to Awe, which, despite its quasi-emo title, is utterly beautiful.

10. Drive Away (Thomas Newman, Lemony Snicket)
Showing that there is no end to his talent, this idiosyncratic electric-guitar led piece somewhat recalls Newman's work on the Erin Brockovich score, but here, it is jazzy and snazzy piece, and much more unforgettable than that of anything on the Brockovich score. As I said in my review of the soundtrack, it is a true eargasm.

11. Balcony Scene (Craig Armstrong, Romeo + Juliet)
12. Road to Chicago (Thomas Newman, Road to Perdition)
13. Your Hands are Cold (Dario Marianelli, Pride & Prejudice)
14. The Necklace and the Return and Finale (Bernard Herrmann, Vertigo)
15. Soy Marco (Alberto Iglesias, Hable con Ella)
16. And that Right Soon (Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption)
17. Hedwig’s Theme (John Williams, Harry Potter)
18. Gabriel’s Oboe (Ennio Morricone, The Mission)
19. Camera Obscura (Alexandre Desplat, Girl with a Pearl Earring)
20. Filter Attempt (Thomas Newman, Finding Nemo)



Thank you for reading, now...

'Ello.
If you liked that...

Bear with the blog, and here are a few of my older posts that I recommend:

My review of Brokeback Mountain - my 6th favourite film of all time, and the best review that I've ever written. Enjoy.

My favourite screenplay of all time - a nice lil' look at my favourite script, to my favourite movie.

The day I met Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

FYC: Atonement for Best Costumes.

Pictures thanks to the fantastic Keira Knightley fansite.









Now, let me play you a song that I've been obsessed with this week:



Nobody does it better, you see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Different Sorta Action Heroine.

(I’m writing in a state of extreme depression due to how lol-inducingly my past couple of AS exams have gone, so, apologies about how crap this is. Just read.)

This post is in conjunction with the Action Heroine blogathon going over @ film experience.
Head on over there!

Check the blogathon out!

The Action Heroine I’ve picked is Pan’s Labyrinth’s Ofelia, not your archetypal action heroine, but, seeing as she does do her fair share of crawling, carrying out dangerous tasks that I would never have the guts to do in the movie, she does qualify as an action heroine of sorts. Played to perfection by newcomer Ivana Baquero, the character of Ofelia is one of the key factors that made Pan’s Labyrinth my favourite film of 2006.

Ofelia is actually probably my favourite female movie character, along with the other “true” action heroine, The Bride in Kill Bill. What initially grasps the audience is Ofelia’s penchant for reading. A bookish lead may not make for a brave one, but Ofelia’s passion for reading lies in her love of fairytales, and when a faun asks her to carry out three deeds, whilst most of us sane humans would run a mile, she actually does them.

Her first involves putting stones in the stomach of a giant toad in the Fig Tree. It’s gross, and the scene is shot and set against such an ominous backdrop that I felt genuine fear for Ofelia. Yet, bravely, she manages it, at the opportunity cost of ruining her dress, showing that this is a girl that has no time to mess with the minutiae.

She's not scared. I would be.

The second challenge probably makes my choice for best film scene of 2006; the Pale Man. Ofelia is given the seemingly simple task of going down to the chamber where the Pale Man (a disgusting thing with eyeballs that he sticks into his hands) and retrieving a knife. One catch: there is plenty of sumptuous food in the chamber, and she isn’t allowed any of it.

Yet she eats a grape, and in doing so, the Pale Man is awakened, and so sets up one of the scariest 90 seconds I’ve ever witnessed on film.

Terrifying.

Having broken the rules by eating the grape, the movie seems to reach a dead end for Ofelia, as also, at the same point, the harsh pangs of reality strike as her mother dies in childbirth. But then her final challenge arises – to give her newborn half-brother to the Labyrinth, and eventually choose to sacrifice him.

Ofelia is a Goddess.

It is this challenge that proves Ofelia to be more than an action heroine, much more than just a silly little girl with disregard for her own safety, but a kind, beautiful, human being.


The finale of the film brought tears to my eyes, not just because it was so utterly heartbreaking, but also, because in it’s own way, it was so happy. For those who like their glasses half empty, what we see was her fantasy; for those who like their glasses half full, it really happened.

All I know is that Ofelia is a Goddess.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Studio Ghibli, I Heart You.

So I wrote some haikus for you, along with screen captures. All in conjuction with the Ghiblogathon at Joe's Movie Corner. Head over there and join in!

Yup.

Yup.

Yup.

Yup.

Yeah, I know Miyazaki's wonderful. But we musn't forget the non-Miyazaki, heartbreaking masterpiece...

Yup.

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