Film Review: Inherent Vice

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It’s been a long time since I misjudged a film as badly as I did with Inherent Vice. I was expecting almost screwball comedy, a parody of the private investigator and instead I got a complete mess. A film which made so little sense whilst watching that the longer it went on the more confused I became, and even now, reminiscing, I still have no idea about how it all adds together.

The worse part though is the fact that Inherent Vice lost me in the opening few minutes. It starts how it ends, refusing to be concise and clear. The dialogue in this films destroys everything around it in such a way that it constantly felt like I was being pummelled around the head. Being forced to dictate three words when one would do and in a language designed for no other purpose than being obtusely difficult. Read more

Film Review: Les Combattants

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I like foreign language films. There is something wonderfully independent about the nature and style of films produced without the demands of Hollywood number crunchers. Films made primarily to tell a story, rather than sell a franchise. Les Combattants, or Love at First Fight as it’s been translated to in places, has been niggling away at the back of my mind for a while, something about the trailer just provoking enough intrigue to warm me towards it.

While Hollywood productions have a very obvious fingerprint, so do works from elsewhere. Indian films tend to be romantic, uplifting and colourful (The Lunchbox is a good example) while French films are very character driven, looking at life through the reactions of those on screen. Two Days, One Night and Rust and Bone both good examples of the way France makes movies and it was that very character driven story that I expected to find again with Les Combattants. Read more

Film Review: Focus

Posted on by 5WC in Film

When Focus was released into the cinema I was torn as to whether to see it or not. The trailer suggested it’d be another style over substance film sold on a big name – Will Smith – yet there was something about that superficial glamour that drew me towards it. Even if, as the reviews suggested, it wouldn’t ultimately satisfy. I had another problem though, one which needs a confession before I explain. One of my few guilty pleasures in life is Neighbours. It’s the only “soap” I watch, in fact it’s the only regular TV I watch, but it meant that Will Smith’s co-star Margot Robbie, will to me, always be “Donna”. And I wasn’t sure I could handle watching her for 100 minutes attempting to be someone else.

So I let it go, I watched other films, using the reviews and my casting myopia to justify not seeing it. Yet all the time I was tinged with a slight sadness. When I caught a glimpse of the poster, or another review, I would get the passing pang in my mind that maybe, somehow, it wasn’t as bad as they were saying and that I was actually missing out. Read more

Book Review: Around The World In 80 Days by Jules Verne

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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Having been left so disappointed by Falling Sideways by Tom Holt I was suddenly gripped by wanderlust. Mentally I just wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted to let my imagination travel, dream and walk upon foreign lands. I didn’t want reality. I didn’t want comedy. I just wanted to be transported from the confines of my life and shown the world. And so I turned, naively, to Jules Verne.

The reason that I say “naively” is because in my mind Verne has this loose connection to hot air ballooning that means I feel some sort of affinity towards him. I think if I’m honest, I decided to read Around The World In 80 Days because I’m so use to seeing images of both hot air and gas balloons associated with it that I was expecting a tale of globe-trotting by balloon. So it came as a bit of a shock when one neve appeared within its pages. Read more

Goodbye Film, Hello TV Box Set

Posted on by 5WC in Television
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You may have noticed that for a blog which was fast becoming nothing more than an apparent daily film critique things have slowed down a little, and also, become a bit more varied. The reason is simple: I haven’t been watching as many movies. In fact, it’s been nearly two months since I last watched a film at home, and in that time I’ve also only averaged a trip to the cinema once a week.

The reason is I was watching too many films and therefore, writing so many follow up reviews that my enjoyment in them completely waned. I would watch them but concentrate on my thoughts, emotions and responses rather than the narrative and the plot. I would focus on what I was planning to write rather the story on offer. I truly reached a point where it felt like a job and when you’re not being paid you have to ask yourself “what’s the point?”. Read more

Film Review: Inside Out

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I am fascinated by the brain and why we perceive the world the way we do. How our emotions can be shaped by our environment and social interactions and how mental health has such a dramatic impact on all aspects of life. It’s a fascination that I have always had, always looking to answer the question “why?” rather than the question “how?” but it’s my own recent issues with mental health that has truly ignited my passion and which have lead me to be on the verge of starting a psychology degree at University.

So when Pixar returned from a “year off”, that I must admit I hadn’t noticed, with a trailer selling a film that personified of the emotions within our heads I instantly took noticed. The problem was I felt the trailer looked immature and childish, that rather than being emotional it would be comic and that put me off it slightly. Then reviews started appearing claiming this to be an absolute marvel and a cinematic risk of storytelling that Pixar get spot on. I even heard a review from a clinic psychologist explaining how moved she was by the film that she’d use it as a basis for working with children professionally! Read more

Book Review: Falling Sideways by Tom Holt

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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I just needed an escape. I just needed to read something that wasn’t based on psychology. That didn’t grab you and demand your full attention, that wasn’t heavy, melancholic or dark. I just wanted a story that was light and comedic and throwaway. I wanted the literary version of cinematic popcorn fodder.

Matthew Thomas only wrote two stories: Terror Firma and Before & After but that was the style I was after, a humorous and almost silly look at life and a quick Google search for “Authors like Matthew Thomas” turned up Tom Holt, the first book at the top of his metaphorical pile being Falling Sideways and that was enough to get me reading. Although the brief synopsis describing a story mixing frogs, humans and evolution answered my brief for a preposterously fun story that I had initially searched for. Read more

Film Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I truly believe that I am the tipping point when it comes to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. That my generation – the thirty-something’s – are the point where this movie loses its audience. I have never seen an episode of the original TV series, in fact, I can’t outline it’s plot, name any characters or even when it was set (I would have been a decade out, assuming it was in 1970’s) but I have heard of it. It’s a name that means something to me even if, as said, I know no details, but I’m not sure you can say that for those younger than me.

And I think that’s going to be a huge problem for Guy Ritchie’s latest film. I caught the trailer before Southpaw and while I thought it looked fairly interesting, didn’t really give it a second glance until it announced, at the end, its title and then the brand gave it provenance. Forgiving all previous thoughts and generating the interest needed to draw me in. But that created the problem, the trailer doesn’t give you enough, it doesn’t tell you what to expect. Read more

Streatley Nightglow 2015

Posted on by 5WC in Choc Dips, Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton
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For over 20 years on the second Monday in August, or the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday depending on the weather, hot air balloons have gathered on Streatley Recreation Ground and put on a tethered display. Initially this was started purely as a thank you to the local residents for allowing balloons to fly from the site, but slowly, it has grown into a well known local event, drawing visitors from across the region and with the aid of some local beer and barbecued meat, raised much needed funds to help purchase, maintain and develop the Recreation Ground into a much enjoyed and used facility.

This year’s glow was all about the forecast. Originally slated for the Monday, the “Met Men” were saying it’d be too windy, that the trees would thrash around and the conditions just too unsafe for tethering. And they were right, however, give it a few hours and you’d get the polar opposite. Push it back one day and it’d be slightly overcast but light winds. In fact, it’d be virtually stationary. So, without a moment’s thought the glow moved. Tuesday arrived just as predicted with a still greyness that justified the decision and preparations were made. Read more

Book Review: Unravel by Calia Read

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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Part of me wants to write that it is strange, macabre almost, that suffering from my own mental health issues that I should seek out books that relate to mental health. Aside from my natural fascination with psychology and the longing to answer the question “why?”, part of me wonders whether, subconsciously, it is an attempt to seek reassurance that my own life will get better. That recovery is possible.

The problem is though, I’m just picking books by their titles. Refining lists: Books -> Psychology -> Thrillers and seeing what titles jump out, what star ratings suggest that a novel is worth reading. I’m not looking for anything in particular, and that is how and why I ended up reading Unravel by Calia Read. It simply fitted the filter. Read more