Friday, 30 December 2011

Films We Want To See Christian Bale Do

Kathryn and I had a long phone call a couple of weeks ago where we discussed our favourite actor and insane person, Christian Bale. We decided to help him with his future career since Batman is soon finishing (sob), and came up with some options for films using genres he hasn't yet tackled.

This just made me laugh
Note: you may only find this amusing if you know Christian Bale. If not you will just think we are a bit messed up. Meant for amusement only! (Though obviously it would be amazing if he did actually star in any films like these).

Kathryn wrote up some of of our favourite picks:

1. Rom-com starring Bale, with Jennfier Aniston as the love interest.

2. Teen body swap comedy. Bale and his daughter, or just some random girl he knows, swap bodies Freaky Friday style. Hilarious consequences. Suggested actress to play girl – Miley Cyrus, who can then also do a musical number.

3. Modern day remake of the classic musical Brigadoon, directed by Christopher Nolan. Also starring Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine of course, as is always the case in a Nolan film. Suggested female lead - Marion Cotillard (depending on how good her Scottish accent is).

4. Mannequin 3. Again, produced by Nolan. Bale is the mannequin. Suggested co-stars - Eddie Murphy or Jim Carrey as an updated version of Hollywood.

5. Buddy movie comedy starring Bale and Will Ferrell. Bale is released from a psychiatric institute and taken on a road trip by his best friend (Ferrell). Along the way Bale snaps and thinks he's Batman (basically he seems to be playing himself).

6. Sequel to Elf as Bale plays a baby raised by elves in the same way as Buddy in the first film but is evil. OR when he finally clicks that he's not an elf he attempts to a) kill parents or b) ruin Christmas.

7. Bale as Dr Doolittle but with a sinister edge. Perhaps as a taxidermist who only speaks to the animals he stuffs.

8. As a serious suggestion, any film with Jeff Bridges. We honestly don't know why this pairing hasn't happened yet in this industry.

Come on now, who wouldn't want to see at least half of these films?!

A Look at Upcoming Films: Jan-Jun 2012

Earlier this year, I published my list of upcoming films of 2011 to look out for. Admittedly, some errors were made (the fact that Green Lantern and The Three Musketeers were awful and that On The Road now won't be released this year), but some, I think, were pretty accurate. I also promised a list of films to watch out for in 2012. Kathryn and I both agree it's going to be pretty amazing in terms of the epic films that are going to be released, but we also say (at this point) that there aren't going to be the same number of amazing films that there have been this year. We shall see. I shall be brief with each one because I have a lot to get through. On with the list!

Firstly, there's The Avengers. If you've seen Thor/Iron Man/Iron Man 2/Captain America and enjoyed them, or are a fan of superhero movies in general, you need to see this. It's going to be incredible (Hulk. Excuse the pun). There is a great cast, one of the best ensembles I've seen for a while, and it has one of my favourite ever film villains in it, because Loki is back! (See Thor if you don't know what I'm talking about.) It's constantly a toss-up between this and Dark Knight Rises (see future blog posts for more information) for my most-anticipated film of next year, and I think it's going to be a really difficult choice as to what my favourite is going to be.

ETA: April 27

Another film I'm incredibly excited for is Snow White and the Huntsman. The trailer alone for this film is one of the most impressive I've seen in a very long time, and I've watched it over and over again just absorbing the brilliance of it. Charlize Theron looks like she's going to be amazing as the Evil Queen (and does a British accent very well!), and the special effects look incredible. Again, the supporting cast are amazing on paper, with the likes of Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Eddie Izzard and Nick Frost as some of the eight dwarves (Disney apparently own the rights to Seven Dwarves!), and of course Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth (looking very much like a brunette Thor who has replaced his hammer with an axe) as Snow White and the huntsman respectively. Let's put it this way: at the very least, this film looks miles better than the appalling Mirror Mirror. I already hope the rumours of a trilogy are true.

ETA: June 1

In a completely different direction, I'm very much looking forward to The Woman in Black. I absolutely love the play, and if it's faithful to that then the film will be very good. Though saying that, I'm unsure as to how some aspects of the play are going to translate into films and still be as effective. But the trailer looks like the film will still deliver all of the terrifying moments well, and I'm interested to see what Daniel Radcliffe is going to do in his first post-Hogwarts role. And Total Film have already dubbed it as 'The Year's Creepiest Film' so that sounds promising!

ETA: Feb 3

Coming quite soon is J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood's biopic of controversial FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio). The screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, also wrote the screenplay for Milk, a film I watched relatively recently and was impressed by, so I have high hopes for this based on the cast (also including Dame Judi Dench and Naomi Watts) and crew. Admittedly, I don't know much about the subject, but Hollywood do love a good biopic and it's already been nominated for a couple of awards, including Golden Globes. It's had mixed reviews so far, so I'll have to see for myself, but it's one I definitely want to catch at some point.

ETA: January 20

One film which I'm told I should be excited about, and based on the trailer alone, I am a little, is The Hunger Games. I haven't read the books yet, but I've heard they are addictive and very good, so I shall get round to it hopefully some point before the film comes out. I'm not particularly excited about the cast, especially Jennifer Lawrence, who most people know I'm not a fan of, but the actual plot, from what I can tell from the trailer, looks quite gripping and I'm looking forward to something quite new and fresh from Hollywood.

ETA: March 23

In May comes what has been described as "possibly the most Tim Burtonish Tim Burton film ever", Dark Shadows. Containing the usual cast members of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, this sounds right up my street. It's got vampires. It's got Johnny (my birthday sharer!). It's a Tim Burton film. Just the look of the pictures makes me giggle with how weird and wonderful it is. I don't know what it will be like in terms of quality, of course, but stylistically it's hard to beat Burton, and this looks very much like his signature style.

ETA: May 11

One film which I think will hoard a lot of awards, and has already started actually, is Shame. It sounds very dark, very characterised (which is usually the type of film that the Acadamies love), and from what I've heard has already had high critical praise. Michael Fassbender is definitely an actor on the rise and someone to watch, as is director Steve McQueen, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing this. I think Fassbender sounds like the perfect actor to portray a troubled young man, and we know he does good characters from his previous work. Oscar nomination, anyone?

ETA: January 13

Continuing on the line of sex- and character-orientated films starring Michael Fassbender is A Dangerous Method, one of two David Cronenberg films this year (the other being Cosmopolis, see upcoming blog post for more details). This one tells the story of the relationship between psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (played by Viggo Mortensen and Fassbender respectively) and the young woman (Keira Knightley) who comes between them. I have every confidence that this film will be interesting and engaging at the very least.

ETA: February 10

I shall end this post on a light note with This Means War. Any reader of this blog and/or person that knows me to any degree will know that I am in love with Reese Witherspoon, and to see her in a film with Tom Hardy and Chris Pine pretty much blows my mind. Three of my favourite actors in one film! Yes, it looks ridiculous, but it also looks very fun and entertaining, and sometimes, once in a while, that's what you want for a film. Although Reese clearly hasn't been listening to my advice (Career advice for Reese), this does look better than the recent films she's been doing (with the exception of Water for Elephants), and I'm looking forward to this offering of light entertainment from Hollywood. Also, 2012 has been dubbed as Tom Hardy's year, with other films including The Dark Knight Rises on the horizon, so let's enjoy him as many times as we can.

ETA: February 17

Other films I haven't mentioned are The Descendants, Bel Ami, The Iron Lady, Martha Macy Mae Marlene, Like Crazy, The Muppets, The Raven, Young Adult, and countless others I've no doubt forgotten and will kick myself later for.

Look out for part 2, July-December, at some point in the future!

(P.S. Can we please please please have some information on On The Road? Please? It's been in post-production for a year and a half now. What are they doing to it?!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Twilight: A Defence

With the release of the latest Twilight film, Breaking Dawn Part 1, came the usual mess of needless abuse, pompous criticism and general hate. People have slated this film franchise so much over the years (it's only been around for just over 3) that I feel like I need to defend it from all the people who hate the series just for the sake of it, without properly thinking about it.

Firstly, as some of you are aware, I am a proud Twilight fan. Note I didn't say "Twihard", because I feel that a lot of stigma comes associated with that word. People hear "Twilight" and assume that everyone is a teenage girl who spends their time hyperventilating, screaming, or crying over the films and everything to do with it. In actual fact, we're not. I read somewhere that over 50% of people who went to see Breaking Dawn in its opening weekend were over 25. It's just because the idiotic teenage girls are the most publically vocal part of the community that they are the only ones anyone ever pays attention to, when actually those hysterical little girls only represent a small portion of the fanbase. I do understand a lot of people's hatred for these people, it irritates me beyond belief too. It's these fans that make me really pity the stars who have to stand there and endure having people scream in their faces... who would want to go through that? I don't envy them in the slightest. But I do disagree with the fact that non-fans seem to group all fans together with these hideous people. We aren't all like that. The day I turn into one of those fans, I want someone to shoot me in the head.

Yes, this represents how most people see Twilight fans. It's untrue (for the most part).
 As much as it has a huge number of people who dislike the books and films, I think people can't ignore the massive cultural impact it's had on the world. As someone who was quite into vampires before the Twilight series even came to my attention, I have seen, as I'm sure everyone else in Western civilisation has, the recent insurgance of fascination with vampires and the supernatural in fiction. The novels of The Southern Vampire Mysteries and The Vampire Diaries may have come out before the Twilight books, but have grown massively in popularity since the success of Twilight, with shows being made out of both of them following this success (True Blood from The Southern Vampire Mysteries in 2008 and The Vampire Diaries from... well, The Vampire Diaries in 2009). There are also now sections in bookshops called "Supernatural Romance" and "Teenage Fantasy" etc. that were not there before, but because there is such a huge demand now for books such as these that it's become necessary to have them.

It cannot be denied, therefore, that these books and films have power. They have caused massive levels of obsession which has lead to it being one of the most popular franchises of recent times, with merchandise everywhere, t-shirts on the chests of fans who wave their posters and scarves and the like. Their premieres are beaten only by Harry Potter in terms of turnout, and new films are often one of the most anticipated of the year. Celebrities are very vocal in their support of the series. Journalists would sell their mothers if it meant a decent interview with one of the stars. They are influential and powerful, and critics aren't going to put a stop to that any time soon, whether they like it or not.

I'd also like to point out the records that these films have broken. It has the second biggest midnight release and opening day ever (Eclipse, broken only by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, which I think is something it can be very proud of), the third and fourth highest opening weekends in history (New Moon and Eclipse respectively), as well as winning many other awards. These awards may not be the most prestigious or even credible, but they really prove the success of the franchise. They may be mostly voted for by fans, but that just proves the dedication and commitment they have, that I think even outshines Harry Potter fans at times. These fans have ensured that, at the time of writing, the films have made over $2.4 million. Not too shabby, really.

Now we come to the acting, which has suffered more than its fair share of abuse. No, it's not the best, hence they haven't won any major awards, but I really think it's been blown out of proportion. If you go in and watch one of the films with a clear head and without any preconceptions (ok, maybe not the first one), you can see there are some moments that are actually quite good, especially in the latest instalment, Breaking Dawn. I've always said, the leads do the best with what they are given, considering the storylines and script they have to work with. It's unsurprising they get labelled as "wooden" or "limited" when they have very little wiggle room to show what they are actually capable of. Watch some of their other work (Water For Elephants, Panic Room, Adventureland, Bel Ami) and you will see that they are not limited actors at all, they are just limited in terms of what they can do in the constraints of these films at times.

Plus, just think about how much money they have now. Robert Pattinson is the third-richest Brit in the industry, and he was recently named as third in Forbes' "Hollywood's Best Actors for the Buck", meaning for every dollar he makes, his films make a lot back. Kristen Stewart was first on this list; this says a lot. These films propelled them from relative unknowns to superstardom, and they now have international recognition and are well-respected by other people in the industry, including high-profile actors and directors. David Cronenberg cast Rob in one of his new films (Cosmopolis) and has publically praised him many times on his performence, and basically every actor and director Kristen has ever worked with, from Jodie Foster to Garrett Hedlund to Melissa Leo to David Fincher, has had only glowing things to say about her. You cannot deny that they are two of the hardest working people in the industry and the effort they put into making these films and promoting them needs to be admired. It must be absolutely draining for them to do, and they deserve more than the casual panning they get in return.

I fully admit that the books and films are not amazing - far from it, in fact - but when they aren't taken too seriously, they are fun. And I think that's another big problem, that people are just too serious about them. Yes, it can be argued that they take themselves too seriously sometimes, but we all now know the sort of thing we're going to get when we watch them, and therefore we know what to expect and have a vague idea of how we're going to react generally. They are always going to be attacked by prissy pretentious critics who prefer works submitted to Cannes or Sundance, but these are big-budget Hollywood movies who aren't out to impress the critics, but rather the fans. Cast and crew have said repeatedly that they make the films for the fans, and to be honest, do we really think they take the criticism to heart? They know the films will be successful in the box office and in the eyes of their fans, and that's what matters to them the most. They wouldn't have continued to make them otherwise.

On a positive note, it needs to be said that no matter what you say about the films, they always have amazing soundtracks and that cannot be denied by anyone. Hundreds of very well respected artists submit songs to be considered for inclusion on them, including Florence and the Machine (best song on any of the soundtracks I think), Beck, Paramore (the less said about that the better really, in my opinion, but I hate them for different reasons), Bon Iver, Bruno Mars, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, UNKLE, and of course, Muse, to name a few. The soundtracks have all been in the top 5 on the Billboard 100, and have basically provided a platform for artists both well-known and rising to showcase their work. Bon Iver were on the first soundtrack before they were really big, and have provided what is probably the ultimate song of the series. So really, the films not only help to propel actors into the public eye, but also musicians, which should not be scoffed at, to be honest. It's ended up being a prestigious thing to end up on a Twilight soundtrack.

I don't understand really why people have singled out these films to consistently debunk and criticise. Ok professional critics, I get that it's your job to give your opinion on the film, but then just leave it there. There is no need to constantly go on and on about how bad you think it is, and give it worse reviews than you ordinarily would have because you have previous misconceptions and views on it. Other films don't get this type of abuse. There have been much worse films released this year that haven't had this much attention drawn to their flaws (*coughGreenLanterncough*), yet people repeat themselves over again when it comes to this series. Why? You're entitled to your opinions, of course, but stop banging people over the head with them. It's at the stage where everyone now has their opinions on the films and nothing is going to change it, so stop harping on.

What I'm trying to get at, really, is that you don't have to like the series. Just accept that it's popular and there is a big fanbase out there and leave it be. There is no need to constantly debase and ridicule it, it just ends up irritating people (and also riling up the crazies even more, so don't encourage them!). It's just a waste of your own time and energy. We all know it's flawed, but it has such a massive following that clearly a lot of people don't care. So you shouldn't either.