Action Adventure and such

Olympus has Fallen…an Evening with the Stars

lincoln banner copyAs part of the Hail to the Chief Blogathon, I’ve decided to write about a movie that I don’t really like at all. Whaaaaat? Yes…but, there is method to my madness (sort of). You see, I had a lapse in concentration one day…those type where for a moment you forget that you’re an adult and become a teen girl…just briefly…and therefore do things you wouldn’t a short while later, when once again thinking rationally.

It all unfolded like this: I was absentmindedly surfing the cinema site to see what I could go see with a friend. For some reason (the stars were aligned…or misaligned?), I found myself on a “Ladies Night Out” promotion which had just opened for booking that morning. So, just for the fun I bought two tickets for a pre-screening of Olympus Has Fallen (2003) purely because it was bundled with the opportunity to see Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in person (even though I’m not a huge fan and I promise I’m actually not one who is interested in meeting stars. I’ll put it down to “why not?” because where I’m living these promotional events are unheard of (or I’m just not “clued up” enough due to my lack of interest in these things)).

I don’t mind action movies, which Olympus has Fallen definitely is. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is former (disgraced, naturally) Secret Service agent who just happens to be inside the White House when terrorists attack. Predictably, this offers him an opportunity to save the day and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and redeem himself. So, why don’t I like this movie? I’m okay with action movies and I’m also okay with violence where it is relevant to the story. However, relentless, gruesome violence just for the sake of it is what I’m not okay with (I almost got the feeling that the make-up, stunt and special effects teams just wanted to have fun). But, I sat through it, because, the question/answer session would only be AFTER the movie thus preventing 90% of the cinema being empty by the time the opening credits rolled (due to the viewer demographic being pretty much only female and there for one reason…).

What made my evening (I secretly admit) is the chat with the stars. While Aaron Eckhart is fairy quiet and composed, Gerard Butler is quite a character. Very witty, cheeky and just a little naughty. I’m not a person who follows the activities and lives of Stars, quite frankly their lives don’t interest me, but it was fun for just one night to feel like a teenager and walk the red carpet that had been rolled out for us, pseudo-paparazzi taking our photos and all.

So, while the movie isn’t one I’d watch again, it has stuck with me purely because of the experience associated with it. A good night out to the movies with a little of something different. A memorable evening I’d say.

Olympus Has Fallen is directed by Antoine Fuqua and also stars, amongst others, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett, Radha Mitchell and Cole Hauser.

PS: I found Whitehouse Down almost the same in terms of story-line as Olympus Has Fallen, however I found myself enjoying it much more. While it was action through and through, it felt like there was more of a point to it all with toned down gore.

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It’s a timely thing with Lola…

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What better a film to write about in the Timely Blogathon than Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) which is theoretically a 20 minute or so story? (The runtime on IMDB states 81 minutes but my DVD states and runs for 77)

Lola (Franka Potente) receives a desperate phone call from small-time crook boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) who is no longer in pocession of 100,000 Deutschmark he owes a guy and now fears for his life. Given only 20 minutes to meet up with him to find a solution, Lola heads off running (hence the appropriate title). The film presents those 20 minutes 3 times but each with a different outcome due to a change in one event at the start. But 3 x 20 minutes doesn’t add up to 81 (or 77) minutes? Agreed…but they’re interspersed with all sorts of odds and ends. Odds and ends that make you think.

Right from the onset Lola rennt (1998) portrays a sense of urgency. There is no easing into this one and before any visuals appear (bar two quotes*) we hear the rapid tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick which evolves into similarly pushing, rushing, hurrying music. Then…a grotesque pendulum bob slowly pushing the opening credits away and eventually we see the actual face, equally grotesque but with spinning hands. The pace is set. Time is critical. The viewer already edgy. And we’re kept that way throughout the film. Flashbacks, time-lapse effects, flash forwards, clocks, even Lola’s tortoise all add to that feeling. Relentlessly. Brilliantly.

We’re told it is all just a game. In fact, the whole film gives us a game-mode feeling where you can just start over. Lola is represented in two ways – briefly as a character in a game and then the actual person living the story, or is it the game? And in typical game style, she gets a second, even third attempt at reaching her goal in the stipulated time. The start of each of the 20 minutes is so wonderfully done: the real Lola runs out of her apartment, down the stairwell and in doing so passes her neighbour’s open door where the animated Lola is running down the same stairs on the television. On one of the landings she encounters a boy and his dog who’s actions change each time thus triggering a different chain of events. Once the events are triggered, we’re back to the real Lola.

Lola Rennt 3Lola rennt is one of the great films that has you pondering how, in your own life, the smallest event or decision can change everything. Not only for you but everyone. Just think…if you do something slightly differently there will be a different outcome (noticeable or not) which in turn impacts someone else which impacts someone else and so on. The film highlights this throughout the 3 lots of 20 minutes. Oh the magnitude of a decision!

Directed by Tom Tykwer, this German film is perfectly paced and superbly made. It brings across the urgency of the situation so convincingly that you’ll be wanting to run with Lola. As always, watch it because I don’t want to spoil it for you. It is well worth it.

PS: I believe that the route Lola takes is cut together from various parts of Berlin to form a “fictional” one.

*Quotes (Sourced from viewing the film):

T. S. Eliot: “Wir lassen nie vom Suchen ab, und doch, am Ende allen unseren Suchens, sind wir am Ausgangspunkt zurück und werden diesen Ort zum ersten Mal erfassen.”

S. Herberger: “Nach dem Spiel Ist vor dem Spiel.”

A Timely Blogathon team – thanks for hosting this wonderful idea of a Blogathon!

A whole lot of Swords and Sandals in 300

Oh, so you want swords huh? And sandals too? Fine…I’ll give them to you. You know what? I’ll give you 300 of them! Yes, 300 swords accompanying 300 pairs of sandals. Worn by 300 buff and tough warriors. For “we are Sparta!”. Ok, so there may not have been exclusively 300 swords but I’m not getting technical here, just like I’m not getting into the debate around the historical accuracy of this film. Nor am I even mentioning any sequel (I don’t do sequels of movies I enjoy). This is 300 (2006) as it stands.

Based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynne Varley, you’ll be rewarded with lots and lots of sandals. And trust me, plenty of swords together with a far larger body count as it tells a fictional version of the Battle of Thermopylae. Depending on how you look at it, you’ll also be rewarded with many a six pack and scantily clad (hmmm, actually cape-and-Speedo-clad) warriors as Gerard Butler, David Wenham and Michael Fassbender among others go into battle against the mighty Persian army appearing as if “all the world’s warriors gathered against us”. You may also appreciate the sandals (no sword I’m afraid, but I wouldn’t put it past her) of Queen Gorgo played by Lena Headey. She’s the perfect match for Gerard Butler‘s Spartan King Leonidas.

This is a great movie that, for me, was best seen on the big screen as nothing quite compares to the visual impact of the Persian messengers coming to Sparta on horse-back and riding, no, almost flying over the ridge in one smooth swoop. And with a dynamic leader like King Leonidas you definitely need enough space that only the big screen can offer. What do you expect from someone who spurs his warriors on with “Spartans. Ready your breakfast and eat hearty for tonight we dine in hell!”. Xerxes played by Rodrigo Santoro likewise needs enough space (you may barely recognise him here just like you may miss him in his role in Jane Got a Gun).

What works really well in this case and probably makes the movie what it is are the effects used. Everything appears sepia with the exception of the Spartan warrior capes and graphically drawn splattering blood which come across in a contrasting red. This, together with the slowed down action sequences make for great viewing. In general, the various battle scenes are wonderfully choreographed (for in their slow motion they really are almost dance-like) and other scenes have a superb cinematographic detail. It really is something.

Make no mistake, this film is violent and gruesome but has ever so slight a comic relief from some great lines. One of my favourites is when a Persian messenger tries to intimidate the Spartans with “A thousand nations of the Persian empire will descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!” to which Stelios, a Spartan warrior replies “Then we will fight in the shade.”

Directed by Zack Snyder, 300 was filmed almost entirely using a green screen and stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey as well as Dominic West, David Wenham (he’s great in Pope Joan), Michael Fassbender, Vincent Regan, Tom Wisdom (you should watch him in the fabulous Pirate Radio) and the list goes on.

As I always say, watch it for yourself and enjoy! Just one tip though – the bigger the screen the better. Happy watching.

PS: Out of interest, there’s a website that compares History vs Hollwood of different movies, 300 one of them, including a comparison of the characters. It makes for some interesting reading.

* Quotes taken from watching the movie.

 

Crushing on Will Scarlett and Lucky Luciano

Before I begin, a disclaimer: I hold no responsibility whatsoever for my mush-brain and resulting behaviour as a teenager. Ok…now that we’ve cleared that I hopefully won’t freak you or the actor in question out…

Will Scarlett was my first crush! And I mean B.I.G Crush. Although, technically I may have been two-timing with Lucky Luciano. These men seduced me…unconditionally. But it was more than that. As happens so often with crushes they too influenced this innocent teenager. But in a good way. They got me onto more modern movies. And so, 25 years later I still have an eeny teeny tiny little crush left for these two men…because its not so much the actor but the character being portrayed who you really fall in love with and also because first loves are special. These characters were played by a 22 year old Christian Slater (oh no! I hear the current teenagers say, he’s soooooo old!).

As a young girl we didn’t have a television out of choice and rather experienced the joy of Super 8 movies that had been thrown out by rental stores when Videos came out. Up to that point I looked up to (both literally and figuratively) the likes of Andrew Craig (Paul Newman of The Prize) and Lewt McCanles (Gregory Peck in Duel in the Sun) gracing our white-painted lounge wall on Friday nights. But not really in a crush sort of way. That was all about to change. That fateful day I met Will Scarlett was my father’s doing. He’d had enough of the “old” movies and took us out to the cinema as he was in the mood for a Kevin Costner movie he’d heard about. And so it was that Will changed my world (yes, yes, my father did so but swoon, this is a crush blog after all). You see, by watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) I was introduced to the world of “current” movies and young modern actors whom, quite frankly, given my age I should have been drooling over anyway.

How did I meet him? Quite unexpectedly (always the case, right?) at the movies. Popcorn and cooldrink in hand I settled in with Mom and Dad on either side (how often do you get to meet a hot guy with your parents there?). Then, I was caught off-guard and barely managed to keep up – a trailer with some smooth, sexy man came and went. Hmmm, not bad (casual tone). Huh? Not bad??? Wow…hang on, he was hot! And what do you know…the same man appears in the main feature. A clear case of totally besotted at first sight. Swoon. Blush (I swear my parents could feel the heat pulsing off my cheeks). ChristianSlaterRobinHoodAs is often still the case today, I fell in love with the bad boy supporting character (Only these days I don’t fall in love, I just enjoy those roles more. Ok, ok, so I still like looking but it’s different now). Like a bumbling teenager (which I guess I was) I gazed at the screen waiting for any opportunity to see Will Scarlett, hoping for him to become the hero, yet knowing it could never be. But that’s fine. Less need to share him then. Finally, the credits…ah Christian Slater. I think. You know that typical scenario where you’re trying to find out who that good looking actor is but you’re not really sure what his character’s name was because true as Bob, it was a) never mentioned b) you missed it or c) your eyes can’t keep up with the speed of the credits? I just had to get his number, agh, I meant his name. I was a goner. My Super 8 men just didn’t cut it anymore so I cold-heartedly dumped them. It’s not you, it’s me I told them. And it was me. I so needed to get with the times. The next day was a blur…that head-in-the-clouds-totally-infatuated-dreamy-blur. As tentatively as if he were a real guy at school I asked my friends about Christian Slater not quite managing to say his name though (I am holding my head in my hands, shaking it in shame at this point – teenagers – what is it with the way their brains are wired?). I just wanted to talk about the new man in my (movie) life. Problem was, all my friends were into the guys of Beverly Hills 90210, Brad, Keanu and Richard (remember Richard Grieco?) and weren’t interested in watching Robin Hood and Co. Yet I couldn’t take my mind of Will Scarlett as I kept re-playing his scenes in my head. I mean, who needs to concentrate on math? In hindsight I’m so glad those were the days before easy access to internet for a visual fix of said hunk. I had to wait for the monthly teenage magazine to be released and hope like hell it had a picture of him in it because like my friends, the teenage magazines weren’t into the same guys I was into. Oh, but that was half the fun! Rare things tend to have a more valuable status don’t they?

But…it’s complicated. It always is, isn’t it? Will was a nice guy yet I’d also met Lucky Luciano. I’d caught a glimpse of him during the trailers at the Robin Hood screening remember? I now couldn’t wait for Mobsters to be released (Why is it that movies you wait for have so many release delays? For torture purposes? Or purely to antagonise teenage girls?). Mobsters4_bOooh, he’s the leading man this time round. I was suffering from a double-crush right from the second I laid eyes on Lucky Luciano. While Mobsters wasn’t, and still isn’t, rated as one of the best movies, it had, and still has a special spot for me (I wonder why???). Back then, I even managed to get a huge movie poster from the video store up the road (I went past there every day waiting for them to take it down. Not that anyone wanted it anyway. But they might have thrown it out). Having Lucky Luciano look over me while I slept and did homework was something and I didn’t even notice the other three characters in the poster. I would have cut them out but these poster people didn’t think of me when they took the shot. How inconsiderate. What am I supposed to do with a partial poster? Couldn’t they just have had the important guy on the front and printed the other three on the back?

I’ve now had another look at Will and Lucky pictures and I’m not sure why they were my crush then but they were and served their purpose. It was fun and part of being a teenager. And great to look back on those days with a smile on my face. (Ok, I admit, even today Christian Slater still looks good in said roles – he’s just way too young for me these days)

 

Sombre and Cold: Das Finstere Tal

Das Finstere Tal“Shhwwoooooow” I exhale a breath. I’ve been holding it for two hours now. Make that 1 hour 54 minutes – the approximate duration of Das Finstere Tal (The Dark Valley) (2014). Gee….I’m going to need some time to process this one.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Other than an Alpine Western which I don’t know what it is anyway. All I know is that I have a weakness for Westerns and another for those set in small European towns, where the sets and dialects are authentic, making these movies so special. Something set far away from the mainstream big city lights is so refreshing.

The story, without me spoiling it, is about a stranger finding his way to a small alpine village tucked away in a valley. Predictably, his appearance has something to do with the happenings in the town. You’re in the dark, literally and figuratively, as to the disturbing secret that drives the story. It is very clear though, that something is about to give. I must admit I did have a suspicion as to the reasons for his appearance but on the other hand some scenes caught me by surprise. I also found myself questioning his motives and morals, especially in the last 15 minutes or so. That’s what’s important though – to make me think. To make me question.

From the very first frame (or lack of) it is dark and dreary and you just know it’s going to be heavy. Suspenseful music is heard before you see anything on the screen thus setting the tone for what is to come. Beginning to end. And perfectly enhances just the right scenes throughout.Das Finstere Tal 2

The arrival of the stranger Greider (Sam Riley) is interesting. You first get this Western feeling but with snow-capped mountains which doesn’t seem quite right but you’re still thinking that it may well be somewhere in America or Canada. And then…a typical Austrian alpine village? What? (Ok, fine, I knew it was set in Austria but for a moment I forgot about that) It all makes for a very unusual feel. Add the dialect without which it would have fallen flat (just give yourself time to tune into it). German or even English just wouldn’t have worked. Before seeing the movie I kept wondering what role Sam Riley would have in such a movie*. But that’s the whole point! That’s his role. The American stranger speaking German. It all adds to the mystery.

But oh, the cinematography. It is a work of art. There are amazing shots throughout. From snow-covered mountains, thick fog, fires, white wedding dresses juxtaposed with lots of shadows to generally brilliant capturing of the sombre, cold environment (although, the fact that I was freezing on my couch watching this probably added to the whole feel). Two images, however, are still crisp and clear in my mind: a wonderful close-up of spurs…yes, spurs! and another of smoke “whisping” up from the rifle that Greider has just fired. Despite the horrid theme, it is so beautifully shot.

The acting is something else. Sam Riley is perfectly cast as the mysterious stranger. I’ve seen him in quite a few roles and he never disappoints. I’m not familiar with any of the other cast members but they all came across like they belonged in the village and the acting never felt forced. Some of the leads are Tobias Moretti, Paula Beer (she’s wonderful) and Thomas Schubert. Andreas Prochaska directs.

In closing, this official foreign language film entry by Austria into the Academy Awards is well worth a watch but not if you’re looking for something light and happy.

*Sam Riley is actually an English actor living in Berlin.

Das Finstere Tal is based on the book of the same name by Thomas Willmann.

 

Villain, villain on the wall…

Villains…ah, so many awesome bad ones. A tough decision…but, I’ve eventually settled on Ravenna from Snow White and the Hunstman (2012), not because of the movie (which I thought was only so/so) but because of her being so memorable, undoubtedly overshadowing the protagonist. In fact, she’s all I really remembered of the movie before re-watching last night. Oh, and then there’s the fact that she is pure evil. And the well-known villain of the timeless Snow White story, in whichever form it is presented.

Mirror Mirror on the wallIf you click the link of Ravenna (the actual character and not Charlize‘s name) on IMDB you’ll be taken to a long list of “a.k.a” entries relating to films, series, video games and other footage – isn’t she just something? Notice, however, the title entry: Evil Queen. Now that’s what it comes down to. The Evil Queen. The one that comes to mind when I think of fairy tales. For me, the epitome of an Evil Queen, just like Cinderella‘s step-mother is The evil stepmother (let’s overlook the technicality that both are step mothers).

Ravenna as played by Charlize Theron (or possibly, Charlize Theron playing Ravenna) takes the character to a new level. As we all know, the Evil Queen wants to be the fairest of them all…that’s what drives this particular story. But, to be so utterly consumed by this need, that is Ravenna. Her obsession drives her beyond all morals, beyond all regard for anyone and anything (yes, anything: “So poisonous was the reign of Ravenna that nature turned on itself and people turned on each other. The land died and with it, hope.”*). What villain has such an influence? Such absolute power? She’s a nasty piece of work, isn’t she?

She’s also a beautiful piece of work though. On the outside. Inside she’s totally revolting. But, we may just need to understand her (no, it is no excuse for her actions and I don’t support her at all) as she does justify her actions and need for beauty. Ironically her outer beauty caused her inner vileness. On her wedding night she tells Snow White’s father that “I was ruined by a king like you once”. She continues that “Men use women. They ruin us when they are finished with us. When a woman stays young and beautiful forever, the world is hers”. And thus she does everything in her power to keep achieving that state. Her painful experiences clearly don’t just occur with kings but men of all classes as she tells the son of one of her prisoners that “There was a time I would have lost my heart to a face like yours and you no doubt would have broken it”. But, as it is the nature of greed, she takes it too far with the Mirror/Mirror Man himself asking “Is there no end to your power and beauty?”. Hmmm…isn’t he a villain too? In some way? Unintentionally? We don’t know if he is compelled to tell the truth (I suspect so), but he urges Ravenna on with his revelations as to the fairest of them all.

To digress, Charlize is the perfect beauty for this role. And what I like is that she’s one of the few blonde renditions of this character. Admittedly, in my mind, my version has always been black haired. I thoroughly enjoy her temper tantrums and power kicks while keeping her elegant pose. Ooh, she’s just great (rubbing hands in a villainous glee here).

Ravenna

Ravenna‘s quest to remain beautiful knows no limits. From bathing in milk**, eating animals’ hearts to literally sucking almost all life/youth out of young girls. Yet this is not enough. She constantly needs the reassurance of both her brother and the Mirror which, it turns out, only she can see. Most villains seem to need this support from someone or something. Would she really be able to stand on her own? As it is, her sanity seems to be borderline. And then again, is this her mother’s doing? She’s the one who told her that her beauty is the only thing that can protect her. Ravenna is in some serious need of therapy.

I enjoyed watching her costumes subtly reflect her approach to the climactic showdown in that they become darker and darker as the movie progresses. And that disgustingly beautiful scene where she has just returned from giving Snow White the poison apple. She has traveled in the form of ravens and they literally “splotsh” through the roof onto the floor in a pile of black-goo of what looks like oil and feathers. Out oozes Ravenna. What villain could look better in a slick of sludge than Charlize? Ah, on to the ravens…

While the name Ravenna can be either an extension/rendition of Raven or from the city of Ravenna in Italy, naturally in this sense it is the former being referenced. She is surrounded by them. Her throne, her jewellery, her clothes, her animal form. They appear in so many different cultures and because they tend to feed on carrion, are mostly associated with death, war and such i.e. the scavengers of the battlefield (although note that not all myths and legends have a negative connotation of these clever birds) and also associated with Odin, god of war and death (and wisdom) among other things. Let’s face it, when you see a Raven or Crow, especially in movies, you tend to think along the dark lines. We’ve been conditioned that way so what more fitting name for a villain? One who brings war, death and destruction across everything she rules?

As with most villains, even she shows a brief moment of humanity every now and then. At her wedding I’m not sure if she has a moment of remorse as to what she is about to do? She also sheds a tear when she thinks of her mother.

Ultimately, she’s plain evil and one of the opening comments sums this up perfectly: “What devil spawned this army?”. I exhaled a huge breath of relief when she  finally met her end.***

 

* Quotes from watching the movie

** Apparently bathing in milk had great beauty benefits. Various queens were known to believe in this.

*** Let’s ignore the fact that there is a sequel about to be released which I haven’t seen. I’m going purely on Snow White and the Huntsman for this blog.

 

A Kiss is just a Kiss – not with Jeff Bridges or Gregory Peck

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A Kiss is just a Kiss…absolutely not! Well not those that move me. I have a few favourites, but two in the pre-80s really make me giddy. You know, that fluttering, squeezing feeling when you realise the characters have fallen in love? And then, you wait for the kiss. That kiss. One that draws you in, engages your own emotions, that’s a Kiss. The ones that catch me unawares they’re the ones that hit the spot. So, without further ramblings, let me present two stirring kisses (in no order of passion and naturally, there are spoilers here):

The first from a largely unknown movie Lolly Madonna XXX (1973) aka The Lolly Madonna War and no, it is not an x-rated film. In a fairly violent story around mistaken identity, Zack Feather (a very young Jeff Bridges) has been charged with keeping a kidnapped Rooney Gil (Season Hubley) from escaping. LollyMadonnaKissSpending quite a bit of time in the hayloft (what is it about those haylofts?) Zack reaches out to gently mess her hair and then leans in to kiss her…tenderly, sensitively, gentlemanly. In fact, three kisses with the first on her mouth, the second her cheek and the last somewhere along the side of her neck. “Nobody’s ever kissed me like that before” to which he replies “I know that”. It is just so moving how, despite the terrible circumstances, he remains kind and caring and learns to love again (or so I tell myself). Her amazement from that special moment is beautiful. A second group of kisses follows, moments later, just as lovely but cut short by reality. The entire hayloft scene is simply my kind of romance.

Then, the western Yelllow Sky (1948). Ah, one of my favourites (movies and kisses) where Stretch (Gregory Peck), a bank-robbing gang leader and Mike (Anne Baxter), a tom-boy, cross paths when the gang hides out in the ghost town of Yellow Sky. We are treated to that special kiss one evening when she can’t sleep (I wonder why???), leaves her house and waits in a barn watching the gang camping at the spring a little way over. The moment is tenderly built up as she is waiting, anticipating, Yellow Sky Kisshoping and then…he appears. That ensuing kiss is just something. Being a black-and-white movie, the shadows and lighting are perfect as Stretch takes Mike into his arms in that classic-movie-stylised type of way (you know what I mean?) and she collapses backwards into his arms (also, classic-movie-stylised type of way). Finally! I was waiting for that as much as she was. And in that classic cliché (but I like it) she runs off, he grabs her arm and ends up saying “Listen here Lady. This ain’t something you argue about”. I have a weakness for these old movies. Oooh and how he looks at her in previous and subsequent scenes….swoon.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Movie Gift to You Blogathon

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The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and my daughter (albeit only in a couple of years), without a moment of doubt the two things that immediately came to mind when I stumbled across this Blogathon. Why this combination? Well…because she’s a girl, but not a “girly-girl” who’s into dainty characters and, because I just want to share my all-time favourite with her. The passion, the adventure, the music. I want her to experience the anticipation, the intrigue, the relationships, the time spent falling in love that special first time watching a movie. I think she deserves to be moved by this story like I was and still am (Yes, there is also the brutality of humans on show but it is never what comes to mind first). And, who wouldn’t want to give their daughter what they think is the best? Well, not necessarily the best but the best for that person.

Briefly, the story is around two sisters (Cora and Alice) who make their way to their father who is stationed at Fort William Henry. At the same time, three frontiersmen (Chingachgook, Uncas and Hawkeye) make their way west and circumstances bring them all together. Thus they navigate through the dangers of the French and Indian war. Not romantic? Well, you’d be surprised.

The Last of the Mohicans is decorated with the most beautiful musical ribbon. Winding its way through the movie, sometimes gently, sometimes a little firmer but never overbearing, never harsh, it is that special touch that gives the perfect finishing. One that evokes so much more than the picture alone could. In fact, when immersing myself in only the soundtrack, I relive the film wishing I was there.

Then, midst the beautiful scenery, come the individual adventures of such different characters, woven together to form a single sheet of wrapping paper. Each contributing to the whole where none would make sense without the other. I like a strong yet gentle woman who is able to make her own decisions while taking the advice of those important to her yet never being needy. Such is Cora Munro. Hawkeye (Nathaniel Poe) is always the way a person should be: true to themselves and not changing their behaviour when they are with the woman they fall for to what they are like when she isn’t there. I love the scene where he is helping the colonial militia prepare to escape Fort William Henry. Here he stays true to his cause yet also to Cora. The light exchange of “I’ve got a reason to stay.”, “That reason wear a striped skirt and work in the surgery?” and “It does. No offense, but it’s a better looking reason than you…” always makes me smile. I think they are the perfect fit and equals to each other. Uncas, the last Mohican, lives his life and never puts himself in a safe place because he is the last of a People, falling in love with Alice. His father, Chingachgook, is such a great man and amazing parent who supports his two sons (Uncas and Hawkeye) equally despite Hawkeye not being of his blood. So their lives and wonderful characters all converge to form this adventure.

But, the core of this beautifully wrapped gift is this: the romance and the loyalty. Of Hawkeye and Cora, but also Uncas and Alice. Never soppy, always passionate and powerful. To me, the most romantic notion ever comes from the scene where Hawkeye tells Cora “You be strong, you survive… You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you”. And then, just as romantic is when Cora says “You’ve done everything you can do. Save yourself! If the worst happens, and only one of us survives, something of the other does, too.” Wow – the “selfishlessness” of love, where you let someone go in order to save them instead of yourself so that love can endure. Every girl deserves this kind of romance, if not in the real world, then in the movies which subsequently transcends into the imagination.Last of the Mohicans

I could go on and on and on with the romantic aspects such as Duncan‘s unrequited love for Cora which is so true that he gives himself to be burnt at the stake for her sake. He could have saved himself. As brutal as it is, it is such a romantic notion. As is the scene where Alice, who sometimes annoys me a bit with her “clinginess”, throws herself off the cliff to be with the love of her life. In fact, this is to me one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of any story which I always struggle to watch and repeatedly wish that somehow things have magically changed since the last time I watched. But then, it just wouldn’t be the same. Something special would just be gone.

Lastly, what girl doesn’t love a good “rescue” scene and The Last of the Mohicans delivers just that. I refer to the battle scene where Uncas and Hawkeye spot their ladies about to go under Magua’s knife and race to save them. Ah…nothing else to say here…

I know a film speaks to me when I get this squeezing feeling in my stomach (I can’t really describe it, but it is there when a couple really connect romantically and convincingly for me). And I get this every single time I watch The Last of the Mohicans. This is why I’d like to gift it to my daughter – something so special for my most special. And, I don’t care what anyone says around lack of realism, political correctness or archaic notions – it is my gift after all. And we need to dream a little.

 

Absolutely wacky and weird and warped and wonderful…

…have you seen it? Mad Max: Fury Road? Oh my! What an experience. It has been absolutely ages since I’ve finished a movie with my jaw hanging open and “wow” on repeat in my mind. I can’t stop raving about the sheer brilliance and total wackiness! I’ve never seen any of the Mel Gibson versions but I don’t intend to. I’m going to enjoy this one for what it is – awesome. I don’t want anything to compare it to, I don’t want anything to make me start doubting it, I don’t want anything to change how I feel.

So, where do I begin? Maybe with the fact this this “type” of movie isn’t normally my genre? But then, what is anyone’s “type” in the first place? So, scratch that. OK then, let me start with saying that I didn’t really plan on watching this film (because everyone went on about how rubbish the previous Mad Max movies were and how violent this one is) but intrigue and a natural curiosity around all the “hype” made me give it a shot anyway. And am I glad I did. Yes, I first had to get my mind around the whole style that “is Mad Max” but once that was done I couldn’t get enough. I spent the next day in a trance-like state just savouring and processing what I’d watched the previous night.

I mean, what?…..the “mother’s milk dispensary” (for lack of another description)…huh??? And the guitarist playing them into battle (yes, the drummers too but they weren’t quite the same)…man, I had a good time! Oh…and the “Blood Bag” – totally warped, totally wacked! You might say it is all sick (and yes, it probably is) but let’s just understand something: this is a movie after all and you go into this one knowing it is going to be violent and weird, so, par for the course I’d say. In fact, as violent as it is, I think there are far more gruesome movies out there these days. In general, the little (and big) oddities, wacky characters, events and props presented were just so well done!

Charlize Theron as Furiosa is excellent as usual. Hard as nails yet still a woman with compassion and feeling. Tom Hardy, in the role of Max, is starting to creep onto my “great actors” list as I’ve now watched the third brilliant piece of work he has done (Warrior and Peaky Blinders are the other two) – I never believed a friend of mine who kept saying how great he is until now that I’ve seen it for myself. But, I never, ever expected “that little boy” from About a Boy to have grown up (of course he would have, but I think sometimes we keep these actors in our minds as we saw them in their last movie) and deliver such an amazing performance. Nicholas Hoult has totally blown me away as Nux. The entire acting ensemble, together with all the additional crew required to pull off a production like this can be proud of themselves. Look at all the vehicles, make-up, props, and the list goes on…that is some impressive planning and creativity.

So, for all of you who haven’t watched this work of art, do so! No excuses. No comparison to the old ones (as I’ve heard many of you do). No “it just isn’t my type of movie”. Just watch it. It is an experience of note.