Friday, 25 May 2012

Fast Girls Review
By Leah Quinn

Let’s take a trip back to a nicer time in movie history shall we? A time when sports movies such as Rocky, Cool Runnings, and even a League of Their Own inspired some sort of magic in their audiences that nearly made us want to hit the ring/pitch/ or bobsleighing tunnel in pursuit of our own sporting dreams.

Flash forward to 2012 and our latest sports movie, Fast Girls, makes us want to hit the bar, toilets or vending machine – in pursuit of anything but having to actually sit in front of the screen.

It was with an open- mind and a hopeful disposition that I went to see this movie. Granted the name conjures images of bikini-clad girls in cars, but I decided I would not be prejudice and give this low-budget British sports movie a fair chance.

On hearing the premise of the movie – misunderstood girl from the ghetto comes up against blond privileged posh girl in their mutual pursuit of the same athletic dream – it all sounded very familiar.

Twenty minutes into this movie it was far too familiar as it really seemed like nothing more than Bend it Like Beckham in running shoes.

The London Olympics of 2012 was bound to gather a few fellow travellers on its giant band wagon ride and this movie definitely seems to have its bags firmly packed in hope of gaining money from a soon-to-be Olympics obsessed nation. This is understandable. It is perfectly apt and well overdue to release a good sports movie, but it is the lackadaisical efforts on the director, producer, and writers’part that make it a little offensive.

Did producer and co-writer Damian Jones really think we had all suffered some sort of amnesia and had utterly forgotten about the last British feel good sports movie that was Bend it like Beckham? On watching this film, it seems perhaps Jones might have sat down one Sunday evening, switched on the telly to find it on air and remembered the Olympics was coming up, subsequently putting two and two together and coming up with what he hoped would be millions in box-office profits. It seems Mr. Jones needs to check those figures again and give his audience a little more credit.

The story centres around Shania Andrews (Leonora Crichlow) who is competing for the World Athletic Championships – the name Olympics had already been taken and is heavily protected by copyright laws. Leonora, who has lost all her family except for her brain dead sister and slightly fed-up aunt, comes from the lesser of posh areas in London and is trained by a local newsagent and his Toto like dog – cut to various scenes of her running through public parks while her trainer and his dog cycle behind.

We are then shown Lisa Temple (Lily James) a well-to-do rich girl with posters of fluffy things and shiny medals adorning her bedroom. Although Lisa’s dad has her well connected in the athletic world he also proves to put his daughter under huge pressure- ultimately turning her into Shania’s worst nightmare on the tracks, if a worst nightmare means bitchy looks and vicious flicks of a blond ponytail.

The rest of the movie tells of their growing friendship and road to World Athletic Championship success despite a mutual love interest in their physiotherapist.

Along the way we are thrown a few less then awe-inspiring motivational speeches from unconvincing actors, standard scenes showing a harsh life in a London ghetto where people don’t run but sit on their couches (Oh the horror), and finally presented with a local running track and made to believe it is the World Athletic Championship Stadium, please Mr. Jones, we have had enough.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this movie is the potential it had to begin with. The Olympic Games surely allow for all matters of sports adventures and stories that many of us would revel in on the big screen, but rather then put the effort into providing us with a much needed newly thought of sports movie that packs a punch, we are delivered with a regurgitated version of a movie that, let’s face it, in its time really wasn’t all that good.

Titanic 3D By Leah Quinn

There aren’t many on this planet that didn’t see or hear of James Cameron’s movie, Titanic, back in 1997 on its initial release. Therefore re-releasing it in 3D meant that its 3D effects were going to be under thorough scrutiny from any kind of movie fanatic. This year sees the Titanic’s sinking centenary and so it couldn’t be more apt that it returns to our screens with an even bigger and more effective performance through the recent flash in the pan craze that is 3D.
Having seen a few 3D movies and not having been overly wowed by the supposed magic that is having that actors hand emerge slightly more outwardly from the screen than normal, but while also having a history of (I have to admit) sheer Titanic and Leo obsession back in 1997 – I reckoned I was nicely poised on the fence in regards to scepticism on viewing this latest 3D instalment. I’m sorry to say that that fence is far in the distance now and there is nothing 3D about it.
Other than the uncomfortable feeling of wearing plastic 3D glasses for over three hours, I would have completed forgotten the movie was 3D at all. In fact our first taste of anything remotely three-dimensional is when Brock Lovett is exploring the wreck with his robotic camera and the fragments floating around seem to float slightly out from the screen – making you feel like you might need to clean your glasses rather than that you are sitting 12,000 feet below sea level on the wreck. After that only the odd faceless character’s head seemed to appear a little closer than usual as they walked past poor two dimensional Kate and Leo on the sinking deck.
You can’t blame James Cameron for potentially cashing in on the money-making machine that is the Titanic’s centenary, after all nowadays it is not often the ship itself is mentioned without a reference to his movie. But Mr. Cameron may not have heard of the phrase “if you are not going to do it right then please don’t do it at all”- as just because you dress a movie up as 3D doesn’t change the fact that it was made 14 years ago with no intention of being anything but two dimensional.
You can paint black and white stripes on a horse and call it a zebra but everyone is really just thinking “doesn’t that stripy horse look silly.” These days to shoot a movie with the intention from the outset that it will be 3D, you need to use specialised cameras, the appropriate software, and a 3D photographer, none of which was used for this movie back in 1997.
If my words are tinged with any sort of bitterness I apologise, as I did hope to fall back in love with a more awe-inspiring version of this movie. Instead I came away thinking it was nice to see that again in the cinema but I knew every line and that it would sink in the end, so the only unexpected surprise really was that I felt extremely old watching a baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio.
I recommend you go to see this movie for the sheer reason that it is still a classic and does remain more impressive on the big screen rather then on its annual television screening at Christmas with your granny nattering over the best bits. But go for only this reason, because if you are looking to feel like you are on the ship or in the arms of Kate or Leo, then your disappointment will be deeper than the poor old Titanic itself.

Movie Reviews

The Raid
By Leah Quinn
These days most action movies that Hollywood tends to throw our way contain some sort of pubescent Twilight heartthrob with the main aim of the movie being to fit his scantily clad chest into almost every scene. 
Having impressed audiences at Toronto, Sundance, and South by Southwest, this action-drenched fast-paced thriller goes back to the old rules of action movies and doesn’t rely on doe-eyed faces to provide its entertainment. 
On first glance many may be put off by a sub-titled Indonesian action movie with no familiar faces, but this becomes irrelevant as the infectious tension The Raid creates for an audience can only be enjoyed. 
On viewing this movie I came to the realisation that perhaps the best way to describe it is the love child of both Kill Bill and Speed. This unpredictable offspring offers us the quick witted martial arts skilled heroes and villains of Kill Bill and the edge of your seat excitement of Speed (without the extra layer of Hollywood cheddar). 
But in hindsight it seems a little disrespectful to compare it with others as many of its cast have been national martial arts champions in Indonesian from a very young age, which surely kicks Keanu Reeves’ insufferable surfer-esque diction any day? 
This movie begins as most action movies do by laying out quite clearly who the good and bad guys are for the audience. They also provide us with the premise for the movie within the first five minutes – that being a huge foreboding apartment block which has been acting as a hub for the city’s main crime lords and ran by the most dangerous gangster of all needs to be brought down- and ten minutes in, they are rising to this task. 
Accompanied by a score composed by Linkin Park musician, Mike Shinoda, Jaka, played by Joe Taslim, leads his troops into this derelict high rise hoping to clean it out floor by floor. 
This plan all seems to be running smoothly until they reach floor five when the head honcho uses his series of CCTV cameras and intercoms to rally together his bloody-thirsty tenants. It is then that the movie starts to take more twists and turns than a Scottish highland road trip.
In fact just when you have got used to who indeed is on the side of good and evil, the tables are turned as a labyrinth game of bloody survival erupts, the bullets run out, it’s machetes at dawn, and the audience, along with the actors, are left wondering who can truly be trusted. 
The movies main character is Rama, a headstrong member of the SWAT team with the obligatory pregnant wife waiting at home for his safe return. Lucky for us, and perhaps quite unlucky for the bad guys, Rama is played by Iko Uwais, an actor who has trained in Indonesian martial arts, Silat, from the age of ten. 
This rare cast of highly talented actors provides for some seriously jaw-dropping fight scenes with moves that make Jackie Chan look more like a ballroom dancer. 
One particular fight scene lasts close to 15 minutes which resulted not only in possible heart- failure for all watching but also applause on its eventual end. It can only be assumed that this along with the odd witty joke incorporated into what is for the most part a serious script was intended to give us that often much needed moment of relief in an action-packed movie such as this. 
Gareth Evans manages to create a fast-paced adrenaline rush throughout which can be tasted by all and is provided mainly by his cleverly chosen premise, his unpredictable villains and his fearless hero. 
If like me, you have seen enough action movies which resemble more of a wet t-shirt competition than a thriller then you need to make it your purpose to see The Raid. It does exactly what it says on the tin- and even though what it says on the tin is in Indonesian- this breathlessly-paced action movie translates to sheer entertainment in any language.
Van Gogh sampled some of the good life in London in his day. Brixton was his choice of location and this is my story about the auction of his former premises.

Van Gogh’s former Brixton lodgings were yesterday sold for £565,000 to a buyer who had not yet walked inside the premises.

James Wang bought the grade II listed property at 87 Hackford Road, as a huge fan of Vincent Van Goghs’s work and as a father to three daughters studying art in university.

The property which is now in a derelict condition has many of the original features including a fireplace, wooden floors, and even an outside toilet all of which would have been used in 1874 when the artist lived there with his sister.

Mr. Wang explained his plans for the property saying: “I think I would like to make the project like a private museum. It is all because of my children, my three daughters are all artists, so they and my wife will support me. “

The house was bought by the seller, Mark Morley-Smith’s parents in the 1950’s and it was not until the 1970’s that it was discovered to be the former home of The Sunflowers painter. A discovery that was an exciting revelation for Mr. Morley-Smith as he had often slept in Van Gogh’s old bedroom.

From the 1970’s onwards it became a huge tourist attraction when a blue plaque was erected by English Heritage to declare the Van Gogh connection. Mr. Morley-Smith’s mother would often let visitors and film crew enter the house to take pictures.

Before the auction Mr. Morley-Smith’s wife told of their hope for the future of the property: “ It’s a bit sad in a way, I hope whoever buys it will restore it and that they don’t convert it into a modern style house, it’s got such lovely features.”

This has been the first time in 65 years that this property has been on the market and since its arrival Savills Auctioneers said they had interest from all sides of the globe hearing from potential buyers as far and wide as Russia and Van Gogh’s own country of Holland.

The auctioneers who started the bidding at £400,000 said: “We expected it to go somewhere between 525 ad 550 so it’s a bit more then we expected so we are really pleased with that.” 

The house which will need restoring due to its derelict state, was home to the Dutch artist between 1873 and 1874 while he worked for the art dealer Goupil and Cie in Covent garden.

While living there, Van Gogh often wrote to his brother and once said; “I’m getting on well here.” “I’ve got a lovely home…”

It is also believed while there, he fell in love with his landlady’s 19 year old daughter, Eugenie Loyer, but his love was unrequited. 

A sketching of the property’s terrace by Van Gogh can now be seen in a museum in Amsterdam, however it remains to be seen if his former home will feature the rich yellows, oranges, and reds that made his work so famous and unique.