Friday, 14 June 2013

The Fabulous Bus.

This blog covers a lot of topics. We have seen films from every end of the spectrum of movie-making. But today we touch on something new: lip-syncing drag queens. Naturally, the film won an Oscar for costume design but will it avoid being like its characters and not be a drag? Let us see. This is The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Two drag-queens, Anthony/Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) and Adam/Felicia (Guy Pearce), and a transsexual, Bernadette (Terence Stamp), get invited to perform their lip-sync act at a holiday resort in a remote location in the middle of the Australian desert. In order to get there, Adam buys a large bus and dubs it Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. They kit it out with dresses and cushions and a giant shoe and away they go. Sounds like an easy ride right? Wrong. The bus, of course, breaks down in the middle of nowhere leaving the guys - er - girls struggling with boredom and each other. How do they fill their time? They sing, they dance, they meet Bob (Bill Hunter) who gets them up and running, and they discover a shocking secret or two about one another.

Nothing fabulous about road trips, they said.

Now, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp are no strangers to acting challenges. Stamp has even been nominated for an Oscar in the past. But there is nothing quite like Priscilla in their resumes. All of them are fantastic, as one would no doubt assume, and they are not only hilarious, they are touching too. All three protagonists have stories, pasts, and back drops that have led them to this point in their lives and all three actors do an incredible job of showing that. They masterfully portray everything and sometimes it is as simple as a glance or the delivery of a line. All three have wonderful comic timing as well. Pearce is gifted with throwing dramatic hissy fits and being his own queen of the desert, Weaving's talent lies in his unbelievable ability to lip-sync and a true mastering of the bitchface, and nobody can deliver a insult quite like Stamp. Some of the best lines in the film come from Bernadette in her constant conflict with idiotic and excitable people along her travels.

An example of the more touching side of the film.

Of course, without wonderful writing, there would no witty dialogue for the actors. The writing contains some absolute gems that will stick in your memory for years to come. The entire plot is hilarious and the characters are so well written and developed that the whole things just works despite seeming on the surface like an overly glorified road trip. And on top of everything, it is all very pretty. The costume are beautiful, the dances are bright, and the colours are eye-popping. The films flaws only lie in the ending. A strangely bitter sweet finish that leaves you feeling somewhat dissatisfied, almost like a film of build up to no end. Definitely not enough to dampen the film, in fact, in some ways it makes you want to watch it all again, After all, the art of a good story is not what happens, but how it happens; who does not enjoy a good journey?

A really, really enjoyable film. It is like taking the road trip of your life and there's something extremely therapeutic about watching world respected actors running around high heels and colourful dresses.

Best Bit? A brilliant dance in the desert with the Aboriginals. A classic scene in film.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Daq HurghtaHghach

Sequel to an extremely popular reboot, today's film looks back to where it originated. Bringing back famous characters, nerdy languages, and adding a sprinkle of dashing British acting talent. It makes sci-fi sexy (or upholds sci-fi's sexy reputation) and throws in plenty of action, jokes, and lasers. It is Star Trek Into Darkness. (Yes, the title of this blog is in Klingon.)

After a bad decision on a mission, even though the choices he made saved Spock (Zachary Quinto), Captain J. Kirk (Chris Pine) is removed from his position of captain of the Enterprise. But, after an attack from within Starfleet, he takes his ship back and, with his crew, he goes on a manhunt to track down the man responsible. In risking everything by heading to the Klingon homeworld, a chase throughout the whole of space begins.  The attacker (Benedict Cumberbatch) raises Kirk's interests in the secrets of Starfleet leaving the crew of the Enterprise in the middle of an inner conflict: do they stick with their commands or trust a killer in order to uncover the truth?

Baddie in a glass prison. A great, unique idea.
Into Darkness, like its predecessor, is truly an ensemble piece of film making. Where is Kirk without Spock? Where is Chekov without Scotty? In the same way the characters work together, the cast work together, making it impossible to draw any of the Enterprise's crew out above the others. Whether you look at Spock's honest moment on descent Qo'noS, Sulu's aggression in the captain chair, or Kirk's bravery and selflessness in order to save his crew, they all have aspects that make them great. Cumberbatch as the big baddie is fantastic. To say he is the star of the show might be a bit of an exaggeration over the wondrous crew of the Enterprise, but he certainly brings a whole new level to the film. Bouncing brilliantly between being likeable and detestable, he is epitome of a charismatic killer. A very internet-generation friendly antagonist - a little bit sexy, evil, but completely likeable. See also: Loki.

Ship's a wee bit small, isn't it Cap'in

The issues with the film are small on the surface but comparatively huge. Some forced emotion here and there can always be a problem, but not enough to influence the entire film. However, there are some writing issues that need to be pointed out. The main problem comes from a single scene. When Kirk realises that everyone in a room is in danger, he decides he is to shy, awkward, or embarrassed to mention it. When the authorities finally get it out of him, they twiddle their thumbs for a little bit longer despite knowing the imminent danger. It is the scene that spurs forward the entire film but could all be avoided if anyone acted like a normal human. This is not the only issue in terms of writing. The second major issue, but tiny in terms of the overall film, is a moment of pointless sexism. It is like the creators sat down and said, 'hey, we should have a smart independent female character. But let's cast her as a really hot girl and get her naked for no reason.' More annoying than bad writing; the film tips its hat to a lot of the old series but the liberal world we live in now has no place for gratuitous nudity. Female's like Sci-Fi too, let us not target it only to lonely teenagers.

Apart from some needless or stupid moments in the writing, Into Darkness is a thoroughly enjoyable thrill ride. No thinking is required, a true summer blockbuster. Wonderfully exciting, lots of tributes to the original series to keep old fans entertained, and great acting throughout.

Best Bit? Sulu's speech to the now cornered attacker of the Starfleet bases followed by Bone's wonderful, 'Mister Sulu, remind me to never piss you off.' Brilliant.