My Favourite Films (Part 1)

I have seen hundreds of films in my life, some I have hated, many I have loved but there are a few that have always stuck in my mind. So here is part 1 that covers 2 films that have influenced or inspired me. There is no order – or best film overall. All the films are equal,

220px-Badlands_movie_posterBadlands (1973) – This is the film that changed my life. A big statement. After watching Terrence Malik’s The Thin Red Line (1998) that I loved, I wanted to watch more films he had made. I chose Badlands to start and I was in Awe.

The film was wonderfully shot and explores an intriguing relationship between the young are loved up Holly (Sissy Spacek) and the brooding delinquent, Kit played by Martin Sheen. The love story is  juxtaposed to the growing violence and anger in Kit, lashing out to the world around him. Martin Sheen’s performance as Kit is mesmerizing and it is worth watching just for that alone.

I also loved the ending of the film, as there is a role reversal; Kit – whom is confident and sure of himself from the start – seems child like and naive to the fate that awaits him. Whilst Holly is less innocent having witnessed and participated in some of Kit’s crimes – as well as betraying Kit for her own sake.

After I watched the film I knew what I wanted to do with my life, although I am not there yet, I always think back to when I first watched this film to remind me of my dream. I only hope I ever make at least one film that is only a fraction as good.

Blade_Runner_posterBlade Runner (1982) – Arguably one of the best science fiction film ever made. The film still resonates today and has relevance for the future – probably one of the reasons why it still so popular – as it deals with the implications of technology on the environment and society. But it is also an examination of humanity and what it means to be ‘human’.

For me another major success of the film is the world it created – LA in 2019 – it felt tangible and was full vivid of details that dragged the audience in. When watching the film, you wanted to reach out and touch it as it looked ‘real’ and ‘dirty’. The bright neon signs, the rain hammering down – that help creates the paranoia that haunts the film – adds to the atmosphere of this futuristic metropolis.

I would love to make a film like this one day – I love the world and potential of a tech noir. But more importantly I want to make films that can work on many levels and make an audience think and question their own lives or world.

I think the question of whether Deckard is a replicant or not, should not have been answered (in various interviews since it release). I think it would have better to leave the audience to make their own minds up rather than giving commentary. I don’t know how this will impact the sequel, but we will leave that to when Blade Runner 2049 (2017) is released in a couple of months time.

 

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Locarno 70 – A few films to note

Out of all the films I watched the festival, I have picked out 3 that I think are worth mentioning and that I recommend everyone watch. A few other films of note are, Chien 2017) with Vanessa Paradis and Severina (2017).

There were also many films I did not get chance to watch and I will be trying to watch these in the near future – any way I can.

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Iceman (2017)
– Germany / Italy / Austria – On a glacier in Alps, the remains of a neolithic man from over 5000 years ago were discovered. No one knows how he got there, but this is his story! The film proves that cinema can transcend boundaries as you do not need spoken words to tell a story – the film is actually has dialogue in an early form of the Rhateic language. The film is driven forward by the amazing performance of the ‘Iceman’. There are also well crafted actions scenes that do not detract but rather enhance the drama. I won’t divulge any details of the plot but I highly recommend this film.

cocote-official-pictureCocote (2017) – Dominican Republic / Argentina / Germany – Alberto returns home to attend the funeral of his murdered father. With different beliefs to the rest of his family, Alberto struggles to reconcile his feelings with the rituals performed to honour his father that are not part of his own faith. The film shows how the even in parts of the world where ‘civilisation’ has arrived that old traditions and beliefs continue and there is an uneasy relationship between the ‘old’ and ‘new’. The film has some unique visuals and the sound recording is amazing and very atmospheric.

The-Big-SickThe Big Sick (2017) – USA – The winner, the Prix du Public UBS, this films embodies why the Grande Piazza is so special. The film connected with everyone in the audience so well that everyone was laughing at the jokes from this romantic comedy. It created the most uplifting and amazing atmosphere – that cannot be reproduced from watching a film online (the film was actually made with Amazon Studios) or probably in most cinemas. The best way to describe this film is as the American East is East (1999). The film tells the story of a Pakistani-American immigrant, Kumali, who want to be a comedian who falls in love with an American girl. His family, want him to marry a muslim. There are lots of jokes (such as the mother arrange potential brides to “drop by” to meet Kumali, moments that are really touching. This is also an important film as it’s probably the first main stream American film that does not feature a Muslim as an ‘enemy’ of America, reflecting more the realties of life in America for muslims.

 

Well…its been a while…

Well its been a few months! Sorry, work and has life has been crazy but things are returning to normal slowly. Anyway, apart from being crazy busy at work I have been on holiday in Switzerland for the Locarno Festival – the 70 anniversary of the Locarno Film Festival (Locarno70). I had a fantastic time. I was able to relax properly and enjoyed watching lots of great films…

20841966_10154845946212688_4122086112163730134_nThis year I stayed in Ascona rather than Lugano. This meant I did not have a 1 hour train commute to and from the festival each day and meant I could see more – at my own pace. But what was also a motivation was the hotel I booked and the view I had from my room – overlooking Lake Maggiore. It was a breathtaking view to wake up to each morning!

Ascona is a beautiful town, it is like small Mediterranean coastal town with cobbled steers, gelato, tiny bars and cafe’s – in the mountains. It reminds me of Tossa De Mar and Cadaqués.

 

20770441_10154845946222688_2747503763437009173_nIt was only a 30 minute walk from Locarno – or a 10 minute bus ride. It was very peaceful and relaxing and this helped me think about a few things and has allowed me to identify some things that I need and want to do in the near future. The weather was not perfect this year (unlike like last year) and there were a number of days where it rained or there were some heavy thunder storms. This was an experience – but also a lot of fun!

20799255_10154845951987688_5289653511893006791_nThe film festival was great. I mostly watch the international program, as I like to see as many different films from around the world as possible and there were some great films. I also love watching films in the Piazza Grande, as the atmosphere is phenomenal – especially when a film is well received by the whole audience. For me, the Piazza Grande is the ultimate litmus test for a film, 9000 people – the majority from the general public – all with different background (nationality, faith, ideology). When a film is good, language does not matter; as the story transcends all these differences and boundaries to make the audience laugh, cry or think.

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Among the starts to attend were the talented Adrien Brody (actor, The Pianist (2002), José Luis Alcaine (cinematographer, Jamón Jamón (1992). Producer Michel Merkt (Toni Erdmann (2016), Jean-Marie Straub (french filmmaker), probably the biggest start in Bollywood Irrfan Khan (actor, to many to list!), the amazing Golshifteh Farahani (actress, Rosewater (2014) and the stunning (and secret crush of mine) Vanessa Paradis (french actress and singer, Heartbreaker (2010) were just a few of the stars to and big names to make an appearance at the festival this year. Those guests and starts who received an award or whom spoke, all gave inspiring message of hope – for a world that currently feels dark and cruel. I will speak about some of the films I watched and liked in another post.

 

20953052_10154845947472688_583494900671217153_nAs this was also a holiday I took a day trip by train up into the mountains to the town of Engelberg went up by cable car to Mount Titlis (3020m up anyway). I love the view from the top of a mountain especially when the ground below is covered in clouds. On the way back I stopped off in the city of Luzern again and spent a couple of hours exploring the back streets of this beautiful city – and the chocolate and cake shops!

To end my holiday, I took a short coach trip to the amazing Valle Verzasca (photo below), a small alpine valley carved by 1000’s of years of glacier action, where at the village of  Lavertezzo lying on the River Verzasca has pools of  icy cool emerald-green water for swimming and rocks for soaking in the sun rays. It truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and probably as close to anything that could be described as a Garden of Eden in Europe.20841757_10154845952412688_4512175671973038365_n

I definitely plan on going back next summer but probably will only go for a long weekend to enjoy the film festival and few days relaxation. I cannot recommend enough to anyone who loves cinema, to at least experience Locarno once in your life. It is a truly amazing festival that will open your eyes to new ways of telling stories, new stars and new thinking.

A cold winter…

As I thought, it is a bitterly cold winter and I cannot wait for spring to arrive – hopefully with some warm sun!  We have had a tiny sprinkling of snow, but it was hardly anything to get excited about. I don’t mind the cold if there is a lot of snow about – as it can be fun.

The first few weeks of the year have been very busy at work and there is no sign of this ending. I usually get home from work and after dinner I usually I am too tired to do anything. As the nights draw out though and things at work start getting calmer, that will change hopefully.

I am going to the BSC Expo 2017 on February 4th to start looking at filmmaking equipment. I am mainly looking at a camera to buy later in the year. I will be using the camera for my film and for other projects that I may get involved with to fund my film. I will also try to do some networking and see what contacts I can make.

This will be a good distraction from work and will allow me start thinking about what I can achieve this year. I am also hoping to get to the cinema in the next couple of weeks to watch La La Land (2016) and Silence (2016). I need to get to the cinema much more…

I am looking forward to many other films later in the year – so will definitely be at the cinema much more…I can’t wait to The Lego Batman Movie (2017) is released. The trailer looks great, it will be very funny and we all know that Lego Bruce Wayne/Batman is better than Ben Affleck! Logan (2017) looks like it is going to be fantastic and will be different to all the recent superhero films – refreshing! I hope they don’t decide to re-boot X-Men (again). Hugh Jackman has been amazing as Wolverine/Logan and who else can play Professor X other than Patrick Stewart?

There is Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017) mid year that I am sure will be another great film to add to his impressive CV. Then towards the end of the year there is Blade Runner 2049 (20017). The trailer looks great but I am still nervous as the film has to live up to the cinematically astounding Blade Runner (1982). Then, we end the year with another Star Wars Christmas with, Star Wars Episode VIII (2017).

I also can’t wait to see what new wondrous films I will discover at Locarno…What a year!

2016: Review

This year has been very busy and emotional. Work has been very hectic and stressful and this will continue for the first part of the year at least. I was hoping to get round to doing some filmmaking this year but due to unforeseen circumstances, I was just never able to get round to organise something.

IMG_1650In May I went on holiday to Spain as normal. I spent a few days in Barcelona and then went up the coast to Lloret to visit friends. When I got to Spain the weather was not the best (it was than back here!). It was raining and there were a couple of storms. However, I still had a great time and the weather did eventually clear. Whilst I was there, I did something new and Girona (a filming location for Game of Thrones) during the Temp De Flors, a flower festival where the city is decorated with flowers in various exhibits and settings. This was amazing and the impact Game of Thrones can clearly be seen [Sic].

It’s no secret that I love Barcelona and want to live there but people find it hard to understand why I love it so much. The only way I can explain it is that Barcelona feels like home. I am more relaxed there. I know my way round (I know lots of good places to eat and drink) and I have friends just up the coast who are like family. That is why I have the goal of living there, I don’t feel like this at home or anywhere else in the UK. I feel awkward, I never seem to get comfortable – always on edge. It’s hard to explain. It’s just how I feel.

When I got back from Spain, a curveball was thrown at me – work asked me got to Boston for 5 weeks to work at a suppliers office for the Project I am working on. The opportunity to go to America and work was something I could not say no to. The experience was very helpful and the work I did with my coimg_0283lleagues has been very beneficial to the project. Boston is a great city (we stayed in a nearby town called Burlington). It was about a 30 minute train journey into Boston and I managed to get a few day trips in over the 5 weeks we were there. I loved the area of Cambridge (where Harvard is) and the fact that I can honestly tell people now that I went to Harvard! [sic] I particularly looked forward to attending a baseball game – as I have become a big fan of the game over the last few years. I have also been following the Boston Red Sox  and I was not going to miss a chance to go to Fenway Park. The game was great and I although I did not see a home run; I was able to see David Ortiz (aka Big Papi) hit an amazing shot in his farewell season. I also made a couple of visits to The Cheesecake Factory times and had a some great steak.

14051834_10153822705112688_5434941402416404245_nWithin 2 weeks of returning from Boston I was off on holiday again. But before that, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of 2 close friends, Rich and Anne-Marie. The wedding was amazing and held in the stunning St Audries Park. I wish them both many years of happiness together.

The first part of my holiday was in Milan, where I would spend a few days before heading on to Switzerland where I was staying in Lugano to attend the Locarno Film Festival and then a weekend on Zurich. I had a great time and really enjoyed each part of the trip, although I was a little disappointed by Milan. The Duomo in Milan is amazing on the outside but I did not get the same feeling of “Wow!” as I do with Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or I had with the Cathedral in Seville. The food was good though, and it was not as expensive as I thought it would be.

image1Switzerland was amazing! Lugano is a lovely city and really did feel like the “Monaco of the  Mountains”. The weather was great my entire time there and I had chance to explore some of the nearby towns. I also took a few long excursions by train. First, I went up into the mountains to First in Grindelwald. That was amazing and I got some amazing photos of the mountains views from the top. I would love to go back. I also loved my short stop over in Lucerne (Luzern) and will be going back there again. When in Zurich I took a short train journey to Bern and spent a few hours walking around the old town which was really enjoyable and I got some great photos.

The Locarno Film Festival has always been on my bucket list and I was not disappointed. I was amazed at the films I saw and it really has inspired me to follow my ambitions and get back into doing film stuff. Watching films in the Piazza Grande was a fantastic experience and I would urge you all to attend and experience what I think is the most amazing communal cinema experience in the world – 8000+ people watching a film on the worlds larger screen, outside – under the Swiss night sky!

When I got back from Switzerland, work was really became busy but I still managed to attuned my 10 year university Reunion that I had organised in London and managed to catch up with some of my great friends. In November, my Granddad passed away and this really was a shock. Although he had been  ill for sometime and we knew that he could pass away. The shock, is still so overpowering. My mum has done amazingly well to manage and cope with everything and day by day we are getting by. However, it still feels strange. He is missed by all of us and we will never forget him.

Next year, I am going back to the Locarno Film Festival, where I will be staying in Ascona (in what should be a Lake front room of the stunning Lake Maggiore!). I will be heading to Spain for my usual holiday in September to see friends in Lloret and for a few days in Barcelona. I hope I get chance to go to another Barcelona game (if the dates work out!)  I am not sure what else will happen but I am sure there will be some more surprises.

I am very excited about what 2017 will bring for me but I need to start focusing on my goals and what I want in life.

I wish you all a happy new year and I hope 2017 brings you good fortune!

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

rogueone_onesheetaThe opening titles of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977/1997) is a major handicap for Rogue One – they let slip ending of the film – so there is no escaping the films ending but as the old saying goes (“it’s not where you are going but how you get there”) Rogue One has opportunity to throw up a few surprises.

In short, Rogue One tells the story of how the Rebellion recover the Death Star plans. We have never been given details of this happened before. The setting of the film has given writers a great opportunity to introduce new characters and also to provide more background to some more familiar faces. There are subtle references to “what is to come” in the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Moments where you honestly think to yourself “Isn’t that [Insert Character]?”. This is fun, but what is interesting is the differences to the other films.

The special effects are exceptional as you would expect for a Star Wars film. All the sets are densely layered full with lots of details – the transformation of Canary Wharf underground station is unbelievable.

For a Disney film, this is quite a departure. Rogue One is darker and more violent than you may expect – it is a war film. You may be shocked by some of the actions and motivations of the characters of the Rebellion. This I feel is refreshing and reflects reality and ugly truth we must face about humanity.

In the original trilogy, the Rebellion are full of Heroes, fighting the good fight against the evil Galactic Empire. But in reality – as we have seen through TV during the civil war in Syria – a rebellion is dirty business and although it is hard to understand at the end of the day and when you appear to have no hope, you may begin to believe that the ends justify the means. Now on to the new characters…

Felicity Jones, who plays Jyn Erso, is a little underwhelming at times in my opinion. In a film universe, where the heroes are force wielding Jedi, a princess and a dashing rouge, she is an ordinary girl and understandably she has a lot to live up to. I think this expectation may have hindered her performance.

I would love to have seen more of a back story for Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). There are moments where we begin to scratch the surface of a tired soldier but we don’t get chance to go any further, as we are rushed off to a new star system. I feel is a he had a darker past to explore, and believe this was a missed opportunity.

Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen – who play Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus respectively – are fantastic and its again disappointing that we don’t see more of them on screen. Disney, if you read this you should do a TV series about them – The Adventures of Baze and Chirrut!

My only criticism of the film is that the pace of the story is simply to fast. All Star Wars film have a fast pace (ignoring parts of Episode’s I-III) bur Rogue One did not need to have a fast pace and I cannot think of a reason why it has to be fast paced. This may have impacted Felicity Jones performance and contributed to the lack of screen time and character development mentioned above.

The pace of the film is likely the product of the re-shoots. I am also left wondering what was left on the cutting room floor and what did the re-shoots change about the film? We may never fully know the real reasons for the re-shoots but I hope those scenes make it onto the deleted scenes for the Blu-Ray/DVD release.

What Rogue One does really well is to show the potentail of the Star Wars Universe to tell a differnet story and I am excited about the possibity for new films and TV series.

Gareth Edwards has gone a long a way since making Monsters (2010). Monsters was an amazing accomplishment for an independent film. He has done a good job with Rogue One but I get the feeling that he is would be a more confident and comfortable director without a bunch studio executives looking over his shoulder.

3.8 / 5 – A good film. However, the pace of the film is just a little to quick and this makes the film feel more like Episode 3.5 rather than a stand alone film.

November 2016

It has been a rough few weeks as you all know my granddad was ill and had been diagnosed with cancer for the 3rd time but I am sad to say he passed away peacefully in his sleep, in the early hours of Friday on 4th November.

The last few weeks have been a mix of sadness, anger, frustration and trying to get on with our lives as best we can. My mum has done extremely well over the last fe weeks. She has been on autopilot for the last few months visiting him at hospital and doing her usual chores. But I am not sure if it has really sunk in yet.

I will miss my granddad a lot as I had a close relationship with him. From talking about football to just having a laugh. I still remember when he surprised me by joining us of a family holiday shortly after he won the lottery (it was only £24K but it was a big deal). We will cherish and hold on to the memories of the good times. I would like to thank everyone for their love and support.

This year was meant to be a year where I focused on my goals and ambitions and due to factors outside my control I have had to put things on hold. I am not sure what 2017 will bring (hopefully better fortunes than 2016) but I am more determined than ever to focus on me and what I want to achieve in life.

Despite the sadness of the last few weeks, I have had some highs in 2016. The best of which would be finally attending the Locarno Film Festival. It was an amazing experience and re-engergized my passion for film. I have booked a hotel to go back again next year and I cannot wait. It was also great to catch up with my friends from university for our 10 years reunion. It was such a success that we are going to try and do another next year.

I am not sure what else I will do in 2017. Work is pretty crazy as normal but I have no idea about anything else yet. Over the next few weeks I really need to work out what I need to do to achiev my goals. For me – considering everything than has happened – 2016  has not been the year I had hoped for. To many unknowns impacted my plans and I still feel I need to find the right work-life balance.

When you all look back the year, I hope for you all find that 2016 was filled with more joy than sadness and I wish that 2017 brings joy for everyone. I am going to be positive about 2017 as I have hope. It is also important to remember that adversity teaches us face our fears, fight our weaknesses and to break barriers to help us to be stronger and wiser.

 

 

 

 

Spot the GoT referance!

The last few weeks have been hectic…

My granddad has not been well the last week or so. He has cancer (again) but we don’t have a clear diagnosis. the last few weeks he has been really tired and complaining about not getting a good night sleep. Last Monday, he was rushed into hospital last week compiling of pain and spent a few days in hospital. The doctors are not sure what it is but he is home now. Fingers crossed things stay the same and he doesn’t have to go back in.

Work has been very busy as well and the end result is no progress with my film. Not sure what I am going to do to catch up as I am so far behind now…just going have wait and see…(sad face)

Anyway, it is the end of summer. Hard to believe that this time last year I was in San Francisco. It seems like yesterday I was strolling across the Golden Gate Bridge and having a hot dog while watching the Giants. I wish I was there now…it was a great holiday and I am sure I would be inspired to write…

Anyway, Autumn is on the here and the winds of winter are building on the horizon…Winter is Coming [sic]

Back from Locarno/Switzerland

14051834_10153822705112688_5434941402416404245_nWell I arrived back on Monday from Zurich and have caught up in work. I had a great time in Switzerland and at the Film Festival. I was also able to relax and enjoy myself.

The first part of my holiday was in Milan. I was only there a couple of days but to be honest I was underwhelmed. The Duomo and Sforza castle were impressive but the rest of the city and especially the San Siro did not live up to the expectations I had. Navigli was a really good area full of bars and restaurants. I only had 1 pizza in Milan (honest) but it was quite good…

For the next part of my journey and for the film festival I was staying in Lugano in southern Switzerland. It is a 14054215_10153822708907688_2827719544685494036_nbeautiful place and I will be going back there again. I managed to visit a few places locally and really enjoyed the food. The weather was also very good (hot!) and the food was good, although very expensive. As I had a travel pass, I used the rail network a lot to see as much of Switzerland as I could in my time there. I did day trips to Interlaken (and Grindelwald) to see the mountains and Bern (from Zurich). The Swiss Travel Pass is a great value and I recommend anyone who goes on holiday to Switzerland to consider it.

After the film festival I headed up to Zurich where I spent a few days relaxing exploring the city. Overall Switzerland is an amazing place and I enjoyed every part of the trip there. I just wish I had taken more money as I had to budget a lot due to the costs of food and drink. I already know of a few things I want to do next time I go!

13938175_10153822706227688_795095372382476441_oThe film festival was amazing I managed to see lots go great films and have come back refreshed and full of ideas. Watching films in Locarno’s Grande Piazza is amazing. The atmosphere is really electric. The screen (one of the biggest in the world) fills one end of the Piazza where 8,000 people sit. The sound is also really impressive for being out doors. I can’t wait to go back again and I hope to have a film screen in the Grande Piazza!

The night I arrived at the festival I was able to watch Jason Bourne (2016). Great film by the way and it was packed so the atmosphere was amazing. No Matt Damon, but he did send a video message. While I was there several big names were at the festival (Gemma Arterton, Bill Pullman, Harvey Keitel, Roger Corman and Ken Loach).

 

Now I am back in the UK I have to start work on my film and see what I can do before the end of the year. I have decided that I am not going to rush anything, as I want to focus on quality. I want to make a film and tell a story that I can use for entry into Locarno in 2018 (its seems the most realistic date). In the meantime, work will keep me busy and I have to work towards my ultimate goal of moving to Spain…

 

 

Back from Boston!

Well, I am back from Boston!

Working in Boston was an experience. We all worked long hours and but hopefully the 13719483_10153749393892688_751864468164720865_owork we have done has helped and things should improve, going forward. I definitely had cabin fever though…being in a hotel for an extended period is not for me!

Apart from work, Boston is a great city with lots to see (I like Cambridge – where Harvard is) and there are some great places for food. I also managed to catch a Red Sox baseball game when I was there and that was awesome. Over the last few years I have realised grown to like baseball.

I have 2 weeks in work and the I am off to Milan, Lugano/Locarno and Zurich. I can’t wait for the film festival now. Very excited about sitting in the Piazza Grande for Locarno69 – will be watching Jason Bourne (2016) on the 5th August and the possibility of meeting Bill Pullman. I wish could I spend more time in Milan. A day and a half is not enough time really – especially as I will not be able to see The Last Supper.

I need to start thinking about my film and what I am going to do, Work has been very busy and has taken over my life-it always has when I plan to do anything. I have to write the script something very soon if I am going to do anything in the near future. But I don’t want to rush it though as I want to have a script I am completely happy with.  There is not enough time to do start filming this year but I can make a start in the new year hopefully.

Well, I will be posting more regularly and I will be working on my film going forward…that a guarantee!