Sunday, 31 January 2016

PHENOMENA (1985)

While searching for something to watch on Amazon Prime I came across this film, it came out a year before “Labyrinth” and was Jennifer Connelly's first starring role. Directed by Dario Argento and co starring Donald Pleasence this all sounded very intriguing and I had never seen or heard of this film so I pressed play.

What I found was a classic Argento film.

I have written this blog 5 times over the past 3 days and each time I have tried to complete it the blog vanishes from the internet even though the site says it has saved it. It has lied to me. However, enough with my frustration, I will continue and hopefully complete this review once and for all.

The film starts with a young girl missing the bus in the middle of the Swiss alps, (by the way she is an area known as the Swiss Transylvania.) Nothing bad ever happens in a place called Transylvania and no one is ever killed in horrific ways in a beautiful Dario Argento film. Wait what am I saying? Of course they do.

The young girl wanders around a bit and finds a house, like Goldilocks she walks in, she thinks it is empty. Meanwhile, we can see someone pulling their chains out of the wall in the same way that Sloth does in “The Goonies” The girl is chased out of the house and to a waterfall and killed, the way this was shot reminded me of Sam Raimi's camera work in “The Evil Dead” films when the evil chases someone through the woods.

We are introduced to Jennifer's character who is called Jennifer (that keeps this simple then) she is stroking a bee in the back of a car with her thumb. The driver and a fierce lady in the car start to panic and attack the bee and Jennifer tells them to stop, she saves the bee.

Jennifer is the daughter of a film star that all girls fancy, but strangely we never see him. She has been sent to Switzerland to a boarding school picked out by her fathers agent. The school is in Wagner's large house from when he was exiled to Switzerland.

When the car pulls up the Principal is waiting. She is not happy that Jennifer is late, even though Jennifer explains that the plane was delayed. This isn't good enough for Madam Principal.

Jennifer goes to her room and introduces herself to her roommate, a French girl. Jennifer's roommate tells her of the serial killer that is on the loose and killing school girls.

You know, just what you want to hear about on your first night in a creepy place like this boarding school and just before falling asleep.

Jennifer gets up and starts to sleep walk around the school and ends up outside. While another girl is chased around inside the school and is screaming. (Wagner's house has amazing soundproofing.)
Jennifer is still sleep walking and is on a ledge outside a first floor window when the other girl is killed right in front of her causing Jennifer to fall into a bush.

Jennifer who is still asleep and unhurt, continues to walk. She ends up in the middle of a road and is hit by a car with 2 guys in. They stop and put her in the convertible.

I assume they are going to take her to a hospital but Jennifer is still asleep, she struggles against the guys and they nearly have another car accident, Jennifer is thrown from the car and down the hill. The guys are clearly relieved to be rid of her.

It is only now that she starts to wake up. Okay, falling from a building and getting hit by a car do nothing to her sleep but falling down a hill that wakes her up. (That is some serious sleep or jet lag.)

When Jennifer comes round she is greeted by a chimp who leads her to Donald Pleasence. he plays Professor John McGregor who is a forensic entomologist who is helping the police try to find the serial killer through his knowledge of bugs and their life cycles.

Jennifer and the professor become friends due to their love of bugs and it turns out bugs are in love with Jenifer and will do anything for her. (This is the second film I have seen where bugs love a human girl the less said about “The Bee Movie” the better.)

Jennifer goes back to school and the principal and the other lady from the car take her to the doctors to have tests done because they believe that sleep walking is the first signs of schizophrenia. This is a pointless scene that does nothing for the storyline but to make us hate the principal and Frau Br├╝ckner (the fierce lady from the car) even more then we do already.

All the girls at the school find it hilarious that Jennifer sleepwalks, meanwhile she contacts her dad's agent asking to leave the school.

She stays the night at the school and asks her roommate to keep an eye on her should she sleepwalk again. The French girl doesn't care and is more interested in sneaking out to see her boyfriend to make out in the middle of the night.

Surprise surprise they are both killed and Jennifer sleepwalks out of the school and finds a glove that belonged to her roommate which it is full of maggots.

Rather then go back to the school she goes to the Professor and shows him the glove, we get more exposition and an explanation of Jennifer's power to control bugs.

Jennifer goes back to the school again and the principal and the other students all start attacking Jennifer because of a letter she had started writing to her father.

Jennifer stands up and says “I love you, I love you all.” The girls are slightly disturbed by that, however, it wasn't directed at them, but at all the bugs out side which are now covering the school.

The next day the principal has got Jennifer sedated in bed and is going to ship her off the a mental hospital. Jennifer wakes up, she removes the intravenous line in her arm and escapes the school she goes to the professor for help and they decide to use Jennifer's power over bugs to track down the killer.

It is starting to feel like we are getting somewhere with the story, but rather then describe the whole film and spoil the best part of the movie, let me give you my thoughts on the film as a whole.

It is a beautiful film well shout, with great imagery, I would expect nothing less from Argento. The story of an unseen killer killing girls is nothing new, however the story of a strange girl who likes bugs and can control them and is definitely different.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film, people have been telling me for years that Jennifer couldn't act in “Labyrinth” and I always disagreed with them.

I believe I'm right to disagree as Jennifer shows in this film that she can act and be a great lead for a film. Though the film is beautiful, Dario Argento knows how to do creepy and sinister while also grossing out his audiences, this film is no different.

I would recommend that people watch this film, however you should be aware of the type of film this is. If you don't like horror with a psychological and twisted edge then this may not be for you.



Sunday, 24 January 2016

David Bowie In the Movies

Hi I'm Sarah or Movie and TV Mistress.  I like to write reviews of movies and TV shows, in this article I will be looking a couple of movies from the past 40 years of David Bowie's career on the silver screen.

40 years ago this year David stared in the classic Sci Fi drama "The Man Who Fell To Earth" I watched this for the first time a year ago and it is a strange and interesting film with so many ideas that you're not quite sure if he is an alien or just crazy, but one thing can be said about David is that as well as being a brilliant musician and artist he was a great actor.

This film is a hard watch at times as it is nothing like the sci-fi blockbusters which just wash over you. This requires you to pay attention and to use your imagination to fill in the blanks in the story yourself.

When I watched it I had to sit and contemplate what I had seen and the story of this poor man who had lost his family and was alone in the world.  The story is a tragic one, but there are so many funny parts of the story and David plays it all straight.  He was perfect for that role.

Another role that he was perfect for was Jerath the Goblin King from "Labyrinth".  This film celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.  It nearly went to Michael Jackson, I don't think it would be the same film, there wouldn't have been the same sexual chemistry that David and Jennifer had during this film.

I know it seems wrong to say that there is sexual chemistry in a family film, where the heroine is 16 and the Goblin King is a mature man.  This film is all about the girls sexual awaking and becoming a woman, not physically sexual but metaphorically, as she works her way through a labyrinth in search of her baby brother, to eventually stand up to the Goblin King and realise she is stronger than any man. 

It is possible to read much more into the relationship and I'm sure many film theorists have, I could discuss the meaning of the relationships of the characters David Bowie played in each film at length.   For now I will give you my short version; what I see is a coming of age film and a teenager realising her selfish nature is hurting others, when she is shown how selfish she is and obsessed with material things, she gains the wisdom to fight against her selfish nature which shows it's self in the form of Jareth the Goblin King.

The thing about films is that you can always read different things into them, I always say each person should make their own mind up about what the films and journeys mean to them.  Sometimes you may just see an interesting or fun film, no matter what try to experience different films, you never know what you'll find.


Sunday, 17 January 2016

THE ROOM


Last night Conal and I sat down to watch this film, though I had watched it years ago and knew all the memes, watching it with someone who has never experienced it was brilliant. 


I had shown Conal the Nostalgia critic review of the film and he still wanted to watch the movie because as he said it was a movie he needed to see to believe.

As I said I had seen this film a few years ago, I told to Conal I will need a drink to watch it again and I have to say it seemed to make the movie a funnier experience for both of us.  We both laughed and hurled abuse at the movie.

The one thing we both agreed about the film was that it was well filmed, good shots if you ignore the sex scenes, which were so uncomfortable as clearly Tommy has no idea how to have sex as he was closer to her belly button then her do-dah.

What else can I say about this film that has not already been said by others?  It doesn't make any sense it starts off weird and just gets weirder.  I feel that Tommy Wiseau was actually intending to make a porn film but then tried to add an actual storyline to it to make some sort of point about relationships between men and women.

There are things mentioned by characters that are never mentioned or referred to again, like Lisa's mum having breast cancer, it's mentioned and ignored by Lisa and we never see her sick or going through any treatment.  There is the random character of a drug dealer how turns up and attacks Denny, yet again once the scene is over this is never mentioned or resolved.

I could go on about all the random characters who turn up once or even twice but are never seen again and the guy who comes to Lisa and Johnny's place with his girl friend to do their "home work" which means have sex and all the strange and hilarious faces he pulls.  He comes back to tell Johnny what happened in the one other scene he was in for no apparent reason.

But I know so many people have talked or blogged about this film, it has become a cult classic like Troll 3 that people watch it because it's so bad it is just hysterical.

Would I recommend people watch it, yes, because you cannot believe how awful the acting and story are until you watch it yourself.  this is a great film to put on and get drunk to and even have drinking games with, and don't worry you still won't understand what is going on but you will have so much fun wallowing in the absurdity of it all.


In Memoriam

This has been a shocking week with the death of three men that have been part of many peoples childhoods, I'm of course talking about David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Brian Bedford.

Brian Bedford was the voice of Robin Hood in the Disney film of the same name and he provided a voice in the short film “The Mouse Returns”. I know this was not as shocking as the other two as he had a long life and varied career both on stage and screen. The sad part of is it that though he had been with his partner Tim MacDonald since 1986 he had only been married to him for 3 years.

The week started of with a shock, on my way to work the news came over the radio and I just couldn't help but say “What the fuck” It seemed like a sick joke, but as soon as I got to work it was all over the news and it was official.

As many shows and people have stated David Bowie was an artist that had made his mark on music, films and fashion. He had also been a part of so many generations that have grown up with his music and films. I grew up watching “The Snowman” which he introduces every year at Christmas on Channel 4 and one of my Favorite films of my childhood “Labyrinth”

I know that many will talk about his brilliant staring roll in the film “The Man Who Fell To Earth” but I will always remember him for “Labyrinth” and his Music. I like many girls that grew up in the 80's had a crush on David's Bad boy character Jereth the Goblin King, plus as my name is Sarah this was so my movie, of course. I know I could go on and on like many people have about the loss of David but I won't.

While I was at work on Wednesday I heard the news that Alan Rickman had also passed away form cancer at the age of 69, like David.  Once again because no one knew either of them were sick it seemed like a bad joke or one of those death hoaxes, sadly it wasn't.

Alan Rickman was a great actor that could do anything from comedies, dramas and romantic movies I remember watching “Truly Madly Deeply” and laughing and crying just as much as Juliet Stevenson did. I grew up watching him in “Die Hard”, “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves”, “Galaxy Quest”, “Dogma” and many more. I know that to the current generation he is known for playing Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films, but he has done so much more then that.

I would love to be able to talk about these men and the impact they have had on my life and others but I just don't think I can do them justice. I may choose to do something more about them and my thoughts, but for now I wish to share my sadness for the loss of these great actors and artists.

My condolences go out to their families.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1990)


OK, so here I am, I know it's been a while and I haven't posted the blogs like I intended. Life gets on top of you sometimes, but enough about my life lets get on with this film post.

I watched all the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies and the cartoon series when I was a kid, (hey I was 10 when this film came out so it was made for my demographic.) It has been a long time since I watched these films but I know I like them, and with the new Michael Bay film that came out and the new sequel on the way, I felt it time to look back at these films and see if they are as good as I remember.

The movie opens with your classic late 80's New York montage and April O'Neil reporting the news about the teenage crime wave happening all over the city. We get a quick glimpse of the foot soldiers while the teenagers pack up the stolen goods into boxes and April makes a Ghostbusters reference by saying “who are you going to call?”

We see April leave in her trade mark yellow jacket.  She is freaked out by a rat. (it's New York, there are rats everywhere!!!)

She catches some kids stealing and is rescued by the turtles, but Raphael loses a Sai. We get the opening credits while the Turtles say cheesy lines they are famous for. The Turtles report to Splinter, a large talking rat.  (Now that is a rodent of unusual size.)  They are so happy to have done well at their first fight but Raphael is very upset to have lost his Sai and Michaelangelo orders a pizza and while Splinter recommends that they meditate the other Turtles dance but Raphael decides to leave in a disguise that makes him look like a flasher lol.

Well so far still the funny and silly film I remember, you can clearly see the handy work of Henson creature workshop, this must have been around the same time as the sitcom Dinosaurs which was a Disney show. At least the Turtles and rat are really on screen and not the CGI muscled bound monsters, like the current group.

As I sit here watching this film Conal is rolling his eyes and I'm smiling at the hilarity of the turtles. Raphael went to the cinema to see Critters (another film that deserves another view.) Casey Jones and Raphael fight and and we get a whole load of sporting references from hockey to baseball to cricket. Raphael is not having a good night, so Splinter talks to him in the classic style of  Master Po from Kung Fu or Yoda.

The police chief talks like a politician and even April says can you tell us what you are going to do in English. We get our first glimpse of Shredder and he is a Darth Vader wannabee, while the turtles are all in love with April. Yet another film from my childhood where there is some weird type of love between animal and human. April gets attacked by foot soldiers and gets knocked out and Raphael rescues her again and he gets his Sai back.

So we already know April hates rats and now she is facing 4 giant talking turtles and a giant talking rat. no wonder she thinks she is having a nightmare this would be a nightmare for anyone but Freddy would need to be there too.

Now time for the history of Splinter and the Turtles. Baby Turtles first words are pizza and radical yes we are in a 90's "dude movies" that were so popular then. The Turtles have pizza with April and show her their impressions of Rocky and James Cagney. Meanwhile Splinter has been attacked and kidnapped.

The teenagers stealing are hanging out doing what ever they want including smoking cigars and there is a very young Sam Rockwell showing a couple of new kids around and offering them cigarettes. This is a kids film huh. (really!) This kids hide out is reminiscent of the island in Pinocchio. I just dropped the remote when I realised it was Sam Rockwell cause I think he is brilliant.

Shredder is making a speech which screams Star Wars with him explaining the lure of the dark side he even tells all the kids he is there Father.  Seriously he wishes he was Darth Vader.

The Turtles state that April is a babe, in my opinion she is very plain and not as babe like as Megan Fox, but she is more believable as a journalist, but they are turtles maybe they are in to plain girls.

The turtles tease Raphael and he storms off like a typical teenager to blow off some steam and is attacked and beaten nearly to death by a large group of foot soldiers, and the 3 remaining turtles take them on in a very comical fight which they are loosing and then Casey Jones arrives to help and April gets the Turtles and herself out of the building by a secret passage and April is fired from her job as her house and fathers antique store burn down. (Not sure if that is irony.)

I still see what made me laugh as a kid but it is not as exciting as I remember, actually this is a very dark film, both lighting wise and the story with Raphael and the foot soldiers.
April takes the Turtles and Casey Jones to an old big house which looks like the house from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. More movie references and even a reference to a great TV show Moonlighting because of the sexual tension between Casey and April.

April writes her diary as they wait for Raphael to recover and narrates it, which reminds me of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2.

Leonardo decides to meditate and hears Splinter, who knew being a ninja gives you the power of the force, with the other 3 Turtles meditating they can all communicate with Splinter who appears as a hologram in the fire.

The final act has arrived as the Turtles are now ready to return and face the foot solders and Shredder. Danny, the kid of April's boss, is hiding in the Turtles sewer and is struggling to be either good or bad so he leaves and heads back to the foot soldier hang out, we get more history from Splinter as he explains his story to Danny, while Casey has followed him. Casey and Danny try to rescue Splinter, while the Turtles fight more foot soldiers in the sewers.

Casey defeats the head of the foot soliders with a golf club, Splinter and Casey try to persuade Sam Rockwell and the rest of the kids that Shredder and the foot soldiers are not their family.

Finally Shredder turns up and we have the final boss battle of the movie, which is reminiscent of the goza scene at the end of ghostbusters. Splinter turns up and Shredder tries to kill him but Shredder falls from the roof into the garbage truck and Casey turns on the crusher and we are to believe that Shredder is dead.

The kids help the cops find all the stolen goods and April gets her job back then she and Casey make out.

Well that is the first film.  It is an origin story and follows the typical 3 acts of a action film, it is a kids film with some good martial arts.  You have to give the guys in the Turtle suits credit for fighting with those massive and probably heavy costumes.

I know it is not every ones cup of tea and that the film has some issues but it is pure entertainment and still just full of funny lines that kids will find hilarious. My memory of the 3 turtles films is that I really enjoy the second one more then the first and third which seems to happen with some trilogies.

I might wait to review the other 2 films as Conal might get really bored and frustrated cause he has already told me how much he hated the second film when it came out.

But watch this space for my next blog.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Whats happened so far since 2013.

I know It has been a while since I wrote something, it has been a busy and strange couple of years.

I got engaged in the 1st of march 2013, my lovely husband got down on one knee in front of me with a beautiful engagement ring behind the Disney castle at Disney World Florida. I never thought I would have a boyfriend let alone be proposed to, so it took me a while to speak because of the shock and emotions I was feeling, there was no doubt in my mind that I loved Conal and would say Yes I just couldn't believe what was happening.

A lovely girl at the park came over after I said Yes and offered to email me the pictures she had taken of the event which I am so grateful for they are beautiful and are pride of place on our wall. Also right after I said yes, a husband and wife came over and the man told us he is a pastor and he would like to congratulate us both and wish us all the luck in the world. What popped through my head was I have only just said yes, I don't want to marry him right at this moment. We were then invited into Cinderella's castle to be given just engaged badges and have pixie dust sprinkled on our heads.

We were engaged for 2 year and were married on August 9th 2015 at the Clandeboye Lodge in Bangor Northern Ireland. It was a beautiful day and neither Conal or I were nervous about getting married, I was emotional because it felt like I was leaving my family but I wasn't and I know that now, our families are both so welcoming to each other.

During the 2 years prior to the wedding I lived and worked in northern Ireland and Conal lived in Blackpool, We went on Holiday to Toronto and went to comic cons in London and Toronto we saw each other as much as we could and we were and still are very much in love and there is no doubt that we make each other very happy.

That said in 2014 I suffered from a breakdown and severe depression and if it was not for my family, Conal and his family, my friends and the doctors I don't want to think about what could have happened, I know what nearly happened and I hate the fact I put everyone through this, but I have learned depression is a dark beast in your head that tries to control you and you have to fight it everyday and it is a beast I am still fighting and some days are better then others.

I left my Job in Northern Ireland as that was the main cause of my depression and I was having trouble working there even when I tried to go back when my therapist told me not to. Thankfully I had been given a job with the civil Service in the UK and was able to move over to live with Conal in Blackpool prior to the wedding and work in Southport. The commute is actually quite relaxing and I have got used to the shifts, I'm so much happier but I still fight the beast in my head.

Because I moved over to the UK in May 2015 we were unable to have a proper Honeymoon We had a couple of days in Belfast after the wedding before I had to go back to work. So we have planned a 2 week trip to Florida in 2016 which was not our original intention but it is actually a perfect way to celebrate or relationship as it was in Florida that Conal proposed and we both love the movies and rides at Disney and Universal.

2016 is going to be a great Year and we will be just as happy as we have been in the 4 years we have been together so far.

I will write more film reviews and work on my story ideas too. I'm not just saying this because of the New Year, I now feel strong enough to go back to this as it is something that makes me happy and I love doing, but over the past year I have found it hard to get motivation to write which is another side effect of depression, you don't have the motivation to do anything all you want is to be on your own and do nothing or not to be part of this world at all.

I think that if people were educated on Depression and not embarrassed about it perhaps people would get the help they need sooner and not let the Beast win.

But on a lighter note lets all make 2016 a brilliant year and besides we are now in the future beyond Back to the Future 2.