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Film Review: The Muppets (Bobin, 2011)

es, I know this has been out for a long time in America, but in Britain it was only just released out here mid-February so as to avoid the battle of the Christmas movies.

Reviewing a movie such as The Muppets is rather difficult.

The Muppets were a global phenomenon in the 1970s and 1980s, and most children of the nineties can remember their movies such as Treasure Island and A Christmas Carol. Therefore, it is only the younger generations of the populace who in general haven’t had a chance to experience the Muppets first hand. So in essence, this movie isn’t just a ‘new’ Muppet movie, but also a revamp of the Muppets. Like so many films nowadays which try to revamp an old series, they try to make it cool for today’s cinema-going generation, and sometimes they fall down flat because they lose the essence of the original source, or it works.

The Muppets is a movie that works. Jason Segall, one of the joint writers on the project, seems to know his Muppets inside and out, as it feels as if the Muppets and their humour hasn’t aged a day, so how is it that the Muppets could bring back their former glory in this new, revamped movie?

And this, is where the genius in the script and story lies.

The entire film is essentially a pastiche of the old muppet movies such as The Muppet Movie (Frawley, 1979) and It’s a very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (Thatcher, 2002). The plot revolves around the usual aspect of all these films, yet in reverse, there are even jokes that are reused, and scenes that could almost be directly lifted from the old films. It is really quite surreal; to see something so utterly familiar that hasn’t been comparatively touched upon for years. It has to be said, there is nothing that quite compares to a Muppets film. They are all so completely different from anything out there, and are their own original piece of work. In that sense, the fact that this movie is a throwback, a pastiche of the old films we are so used to, it is in no way original at all. It is bringing nothing original to the table. But then it must be stated, that surely, this is nostalgia at its greatest point. Something that feels as fresh as something made just yesterday, yet harking back to the good times of old.

Still, there were a few points that took my notice in the film. It must be noted that there is a strange jarring aspect to the film – nothing significant, but enough to make it seem somewhat strange to observe. After some discussion with the person I saw the movie with, we discovered what it was that seemed so bizarre. It was the distinct lack of sticks. For those who are not so aware of how Muppets work the physical movement for a Muppet, specifically arm and hand gestures are done with a series of movements attached to sticks. A simple move which made the actions of the older Muppet movies and shows endearing – especially when the audience could see the sticks in question. It was this, along with the strange shots of seeing full-length body shots of the Muppets. (A distinct one of Miss Piggy in all her fashionable glory was particularly disconcerting).

This is not necessarily a problem, but an interesting thought on the development of film and how puppeteering has changed in the new film age. It is quite noticeable for that fact, to see just how much the film has had digital editing put onto it to delete the puppeteers out of the shot. In the original Muppet movies and television shows it can be noted how props, staging and camera work is used to hide the puppeteers from being seen (most notably the fact that the trademark shot is a Muppet mid-shot, where you can’t see their legs). Yet in this movie, those familiar shots are still there, but varied between full-length body shots and various poses and positions with no props or staging around.

That being said, the camerawork is by no means exceptional, traditional of a Hollywood blockbuster movie. But really, the technical aspects really aren’t what is supposed to be noticed by the audience. Things are edited and otherwise kept simple to keep the world of the film intact. Of course, in true Muppet style, the forth wall is broken plenty of times to keep the audience well-informed and interact with them. Just to be certain the audience understand the not-so-difficult plot, there are even phrases pointing out that what was just said could well be an important plot point. The Muppets aren’t just interacting with the film world, but also the audience, because you, as an audience member, are their audience member too.

Sadly Rizzo the rat has no speaking part at all, which admittedly is rather disappointing for those who are his fans. Though there are plenty of jokes and cameos of other characters to make up for the rat’s lack of a part.

The musical numbers are quite wonderful – with one particularly adult-theme mentioned in one song (lets see if you can spot it) – and even the song ‘Man or Muppet’ has received an Oscar nomination for good reason. There are still plenty of jokes in all of the numbers, and unlike some films that aren’t necessarily musicals, but have musical numbers; the songs and dance sequences aren’t at all awkward in any way. One of the really enjoyable things about the film is the fact that is completely obvious that everyone involved seemed to have a very enjoyable time with it, and sometimes things like that really help with the final selling point of the film. When leaving the cinema, it was more than me who was saying that we needed to break out the VHS player and put on all the old muppet films.

I would like to do a discussion on the marketing for this film at a later date, as it was really done very well, the various fake trailers that were produced has to be commended with the level they reached towards the film’s release.

Whether a fan of the muppets, or never really having heard of them, I would recommend giving this film a watch. It is a bright, fancy, feel-good film for all ages, there is humour for everyone, the songs leave you in a good mood, and the characters as usual are heart-warming and charming. It isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is, a Muppet Movie. Although this film isn’t likely to win any Oscars (well, maybe the one for best song) with a simple enough plot (though really, the plot isn’t what the movie is about, its all about the characters and the jokes) I would still recommend people to go and watch this film. If you’re in a good mood or a bad one, I am certain it is likely to brighten most anyone’s day. 

Closing Statement:
I stated at the beginning of this review, that reviewing a film such as The Muppets is very difficult. There is no way you can ignore the fact that this film is based entirely on the nostalgia of the Muppets. It is not trying to be a technological masterpiece, a piece of cinematic history or the film to win out at the Oscars this year. It is trying to be nothing more than another Muppet Movie. In that respect I am going to give this film a 2 out of 5, though I would say in this sense, the rating doesn’t really matter, as I have yet to speak to someone who has not enjoyed The Muppets yet.

I am going to admit straight off the bat that I have not read any of the Millennium series of books by Steig Larsson. I’m never quite sure what my opinion is when it comes to book adaptations to films. There is a fine line between being faithful, or making a good movie, and sometimes, books may sound like a great movie on paper, but then when you get to the final product, it sometimes just doesn’t work. Anyway, I did go and see it with two people who had read the novel, so they could fill me in on its accuracy to its source material.

However, I have seen the Swedish Millennium trilogy, and the few comparisons I make will be between the Swedish and American versions of these films. 

I always find remakes of anything rather awkward. There is absolutely no way you can officially be counted as an ‘original’ since there is always something people can compare it to. Books, movies, stage shows (coughWarHorsecough), etc. Remakes of movies are especially awkward, as the boundaries are so blurred as to what you can do for it. There was the remake of the Omen (Moore, 2006) that people complained at being a shot-for-shot remake (which it was) all except things were slightly modernised, which made the whole making of the film seem completely pointless.  Then you get other films that are so far removed from the original film-version that the audience is left wondering why bother calling it a ‘remake’ at all. However, things always get more uncertain when it comes to American remakes of films. Perhaps the most well-known ones are the Japanese horror films such as The Ring (Verbinski, 2002). There is always the initial unease that floats around the internet at mention of an ‘American remake’.

The strange part is, about Fincher’s version of this film, is that it is trying to be distinctly ‘un-American’, which I’m still not completely convinced it works or not. Unlike most American remakes, which replaces all the actors with American/English-speaking actors and places it in an American setting, Girl with the Dragon Tattoodoesn’t do that. Well, it has the English-speaking actors, however, they are not intended to be American or English. Instead the setting is the original film and book’s setting of Sweden, which both does and doesn’t work for the movie as a whole. For a start, unlike the other actors, Daniel Craig makes no attempt to do a Swedish accent like the other characters. Instead, he’s just speaking in his normal accent, which for me, seemed a little out of place considering everyone else was either doing one or attempting to do one. (For me, those who attempted, including Rooney Mara, did very well). I would rather everyone in a film attempt an accent or no one at all. Especially if the character himself if supposed to be Swedish. This is where the slight unease with the Swedish setting comes in I’m not entirely sure as to whether it works well or not. Similarly, there are instances where all the writing in newspapers, in books, on shops, or the television will be in Swedish, unless, it is an important piece of information that the audience is supposed to understand and gather a clue from. In instances like this, the writing is in English. I don’t know if other people noticed this or not, but each time it occurred, it kept throwing me off. It was as if they wanted to fully immerse you in the setting of Sweden, but remembered they couldn’t do that because of language barriers.

I did really like the attempt at making the film feel very ‘Swedish’ rather than going out to make it more recognisable for an American market. In some ways, this worked very well, as it made the whole setting – especially scenes set on the island – as being rather uncanny and unfamiliar, and probably moreso to a non-European-based audience. The elements of English-speaking in the overly Swedish setting doesn’t necessarily ‘click’ as making the film believable but I can certainly see Fincher’s reasoning behind this, and it may have indeed made the film more coherent than it could have been.

Fincher’s directing is as sound as always, with his certain tell-tale auteur (authourship) elements to it. The shots were coherent and nicely directed, he made particular use of the Swedish landscape and making everything seem uncanny. I think this version was fantastic in making a very modern, futuristic home with lots of glass seem very creepy, and all the more unsettling. (It is nice to see something different from the norm being used for locations and presented in a way, which is unusual for such a location). Fincher’s directing style really works here, as he is very good at his thriller and suspense elements in film, and he works very hard in making the audience feel as uncomfortable as possible. There are parts that are certainly reminiscent of his previous films, Fight Club (Fincher, 1999) and an entire scene which holds a good few elements of suspense that are lifted from the “What’s in the box?” scene of Se7en (1995).

Of course, one of the crucial things in a movie like this is the representation of violence, and most specifically, violence against women. I have to say first off, it is not easy watching, however, I was quite surprised actually as it was not filmed in any sort of way to make me think much about the scene that was occurring. The acting was brilliant, of course, however, the Swedish version was certainly a lot more violent, and the American one was shot in a very ‘safe’ way.  By this I mean, you never see anything, it is all done as in most typical Hollywood films where they are showing violence – the initial build up is made, then the camera cuts off the worse parts, or cuts away to focus on something different, so you as an audienceknow what is happening, you just don’t have to witness it directly. In the case of Fincher’s version, we focus mostly on the two actors – specifically Rooney Mara’s face. Please don’t take this to mean I necessarily want to see such violence directly in front of my eyes, I was just expecting something different from Fincher, than the typical Hollywood style of filmmaking for such a disturbing scene.

In a film called Irreversible (Noé, 2002) where a similar scene happens, the camera is completely still and unmoving so you see the entire scene in its entirety and are unable to look away. (We watched this in our second year of university, and even university film students were walking out of the film). There were particular directorial reasons for doing this, and although Noé has been condemned for presenting such violence against women in such a way, it does single it out as being more than just another scene of ‘violence’. It is something more disturbing than that. I remember seeing Inglorious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009) several times in the cinema, and the scene where a German soldier gets his head beaten in with a baseball bat. The audience, as always was expecting the camera to cut away just at the initial landing of the bat and instead, you see the bat land, the soldier’s head cave in,  and the audience, jumped and screamed and gasped – this reaction happened in the various screenings I went to). Sometimes, violence in film needs to be presented in a more visual, and shocking way, to establish just how horrific the actual event that is happening is. By playing it ‘safe’ with the very Hollywood-style filming of violence in Girl with a Dragon Tattoo for me, it almost seemed to dumb it down. Which of course, is the worst thing that could happen when presenting such a scene.

I can’t say I was disappointed about the fact that this scene in Girl with a Dragon Tattoo was shot in a rather uninspiring 'safe' way – considering it could be interpreted that I condone portrayals of violence against women (I DON’T AT ALL) – I do feel, with Fincher’s prowess as a director, there was something he could have done to film it in a different way. However, I think such a thing is still a very sensitive subject that needs to be dealt with in a careful manner, and perhaps that is why, Fincher decided to film such a scene in a very ‘safe’ way.

Finally, there were definitely a few pieces that were changed from the original version of the film and book – most notably the ending – which surprised me, as of course I was expecting the ending to remain intact but instead it was changed somewhat. I won’t spoil it but, I can’t say the new ending was necessarily bad. On first watching of the original Swedish version of the end, it took me a bit of time to fully understand all the complexities of the end of the case, in the English version, it was a lot easier to swallow, and made quite a bit of sense. I would assume it was made easier to understand for a more global audience, again, it is not necessarily a ‘bad’ ending. Just different. And if you have seen the Swedish version, do perhaps watch the American one, to learn a different outcome of the case.

On to the acting, I have to admit, I preferred Daniel Craig’s version of Mikael Blomkvist than that of Michael Nygvist’s version. Nygvist’s Blomkvist played up the ‘old man’ aspect of the character, which, in a couple of the scenes with Lisbeth bordered on the slight unease. Also, the character is not particularly likeable, he is flawed, and there are few instances where you really feel like you want the character to be safe, apart from it feeling like it is the ‘moral’ thing to do. In comparison, Craig’s Blomkvist is a lot more (for lack of a better word) ‘derpy’. He wears his glasses around his chin in a very silly manner (which I kept giggling over), says the wrong things at the wrong time, falls over a lot, whines when he gets hurt even a little bit and generally is a bit fail. These failings and flaws actually make him a lot more likeable. As an audience member, you can’t help but laugh and giggle at his antics. That is not to say he doesn’t have his serious, and smart moments, because that is in fact who his character is, it is just these little moments of silliness that make you want to root for Blomkvist and worry about him as a character. When the third act of the film rolls round, as an audience, you’re really worried for his safety, and you want him to be able to reach the end of the film intact.

As most people should know, Rooney Mara has an Oscar Nomination for her part as Lisbeth Salander, which is certainly well deserved as she plays the part fantastically. That said, I do have to say I still think Noomi Rapase plays the better Lisbeth in the Swedish version. The two characters do differ somewhat, and I think it is simply down to the interpretation of the character which makes it difficult to decide as to which Lisbeth you like more. As said previously, the Swedish version is a lot more violent as a whole and this, in a sense does actually work in Lisbeth’s favour at the end of Act 1 of the film when you are able to see just how clever and violent she can be. Rapase’s Lisbeth is quiet, cold and detached, making her not unsympathetic, but making her difficult to connect with – I rather like this version of Lisbeth, as part of her character is that she goes so far against the stereotypical view of the ‘norm’ that it makes her hard as a character for the audience to understand her. Which in a sense is good, the other characters don’t understand, or don’t care to connect with her. In doing this, during the scenes where she and Blomkvist begin to connect, it seems all the more strong and powerful that they are both able to understand each other. She is detached to the world, and her only friend is Blomkvist, not even the audience fully understands her, but Blokvist tries, and she actually opens up to him somewhat – which seems like far more of a breakthrough in the Swedish one, than the American one.

Rooney Mara’s version of Lisbeth seems a lot more like a difficult, misunderstood character. She does show elements of compassion, of humanity – specifically for her carer, who rarely gets a look-in in the Swedish one, in Fincher’s version, Lisbeth is genuinely concerned and worried about him and this makes her all the more human. This does however make her violent tendencies almost seem a little out-of-place. Her violence is calculated – which makes sense for a cold and seemingly-detached character like the Swedish Lisbeth – but Mara’s version by showing these hints of humanity ends up making it feel like her violence would be less calculated and more passionate. There are elements of this, specifically in her most significant violent outburst – but for the most part, it is calculated, and that (personally for me) does not necessarily work for the character. Overall though, Rooney Mara’s version is excellent, and she is very much deserving of her Oscar nomination.

One slight complaint, which got me progressively more and more annoyed throughout the film. Product placement. SO MUCH PRODUCT PLACEMENT. I usually don’t mind it, or tend to ignore it for the most part, but there was just so much in this movie, it got to the point where it was rather hard to ignore. Off the top of my head, I remember seeing Coca-cola, Mc Donald’s, Mercades, BMW, Vaio computer, Apple Mac, Marlboro and a host of others. I think the Coke, and Mc Donald’s ones were the most downright obvious. A few shots that where completely unneeded with more attention and focus on the product, rather than the character and what they’re doing in question. Please America, tone down the product placement. Similarly, I couldn’t help but laugh at all the IKEA furniature and props that was absolutely everywhere in the movie. I’ve never been to Sweden, and I know it is the home of IKEA, but really, the Swedes surely don’t buy everything from IKEA. (I think the worst/funniest part was when Blomkvist was making coffees and I recognised the coffee mugs as being ones I own myself).

I’m not going to say the film was awful, because I rather enjoyed it. However, it didn’t seem as amazing as everyone made it out to be. If anything, I was more enthralled by the opening title sequence than that of the actual movie itself. (I would like to do a review of this at some point on its own, since it is such an interesting piece of cinema).

Please check out the opening title sequence if anything, it is absolutely breathtaking: 

Closing statement:
I do not think this film is any better or worse than its Swedish counterpart. They both have their good merits, and they both have their bad. If there was some way to meld the good elements from both films together, I think you would end up with a fantastic version of this film. It is good, but by all means, not excellent, and it was missing a certain kind of ‘spark’ that would have made it perfect. I think I will give this film a 3 out of 5. It didn’t leave me feeling overwhelmed with opinions and thoughts on the matter, and while it was good, I think if having to choose I would still think the Swedish version is a little bit better than this one. Though I do recommend it for people to watch if they like a good crime/thriller film.

Film Review: W.E. (Madonna, 2011)

The first piece of advertising I saw of this film was a poster at the cinema when I went to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. It was this poster in fact:

At first glance it seemed to be just another schmaltz-y love story (possibly with a vintage/retro-edge) since it was being released just in time for Oscar season, and at first I didn’t think much of it. At second glance (waiting for Jibsy to come out of the bathroom, I think) I caught a glimpse of the tagline, which made me a bit surprised. Oh, so it was a film about Wallis Simpson and King Edward  VIII. The tagline did nothing for my opinion of it being a schmaltz-y love story with a vintage edge:

“One of the greatest love stories of all time… The King who gave up his throne for the woman he loved.”

Frankly, I think the tagline did not do the film justice at all.

Due to this fact, one cannot judge movies on posters alone – that is what trailers are for – but I admit, I never caught a glimpse of a trailer on television or bothered much on line. Frankly, the whole thing didn’t seem to be advertised very much at all. I wondered if this was because the director, Madonna, had something to do with it. Was she trying to make this an art-piece with a historical edge? Or was there just something lacking in the advertising of it to make it seem more ‘underground’. Unlike other ‘Oscar Bait’ films such as J.Edgar and The Iron Lady this one seemed to be playing to a specific crowd of people.

The people, I described to my mum while sitting myself down in the cinema as being ‘The Downton Abbey Crowd’. I was the youngest person in the audience, and although the cinema in the end did seem to be full, we had been shoved into one of the premier cinemas – which, although is fantastic for legroom and comfortable seats, does make me a little wary of just how popular the film is going to be.

For the film did not seem to be succeeding in the popularity side of things according to some reviews I had gotten a glimpse of. Most describe it as glamourising and romanticising the relationship between the king and the divorcee, and generally tear it to shreds. The Guardian gave it one star (however, they were gripping at straws by the end, insinuating that costume designers were involved with script writing because they couldn’t think of a better insult).  It is at this point that thinking back on the film I have just seen, I do sit here and wonder whether or not most of the reviewers got past the first twenty-to-thirty minutes of the film, because it certainly doesn’t seem to be the case.

 The beginning of the film admittedly, is perhaps the part where the movie is at its weakest. Where it very nearly falls down, flat on its face at the first hurdle. It starts, by trying to introduce two characters, a young Wallis Simpson – obviously – in 1924, with her first husband, and the semi-sub-plot of the strange Wally Winthrop. (I say semi-sub-plot for reasons explained in a moment). I am guessing Madonna was trying to introduce the striking similarities between the two characters – which becomes evident later in the plot anyway – from the get-go. I think this is actually one of its problems. There was such a flickering back and forth between Wallis and Wally, with the two women looking similar (this again, being a device used later in the film) that it certainly took me a good ten minutes or so to realise that there were actually two different women we were comparing in similar situations. There is a very long introduction period with Wally in the modern day – but it is introduced in quite high society in New York, that it took me a few minutes to realise we were actually in the modern day, and not 1950s New York, with a surprisingly young-looking-for-her-age Wallis Simpson.

After the initial confusion, the plot decides to focus on the semi-sub-plot. Wally gains an interest in Wallis and her love affair with Edward by visiting the auction house in New York which has an exhibition of both their things during the time they were together. For a film that is supposed to be about Wallis and Edward, it takes a surprisingly long time to focus in on them. Instead, we have a lot of Wally looking serious, going home, going for IVF, telling her husband she knows he’s having an affair, etc.etc. She is quite a weak-willed character, and too be honest, it took me a very long time to start to like her – and I still think she is possibly one of the least likeable characters in the film. However, this doesn’t mean she isn’t likable, and in fact, when the character of Evengi turns up (Wallis/Edward, Wally/Evengi – W.E? See what they did there?) you start to really enjoy Wally’s side of the story as well.

Looking back, I think the reason the disjointed parts of the story exist at the beginning, as said, are to compare the two characters, but to also represent the disjointed knowledge Wally has of Wallis Simpson. Certainly, the more she begins to learn and research about Wallis Simpson, the more she begins to understand the other woman’s way of thinking, her way of being, and suddenly, Wallis’ story is essentially what Wally uses to escape and evolve out of her miserable existence. Wally spends more and more time in the auction house, looking over items and keepsakes, and suddenly is having extended daydreams about what Wallis the woman must have been like to have ended up in this strange ‘fairytale’.

This is when the flashbacks start. With Wallis with her current husband, visiting and meeting the Prince for the first time. There are many other meetings, however, it is when Wallis gets to spend some time with Edward, when her ‘friend’ Velma (who is flirting with Edward before Wallis gets his attention) goes away for three months to America. Suddenly, Wallis has all the attention of Edward, and the audience. These scenes are very much typical of a generic historical film. Or at least they would, without the occasional flash-forwards to Wally in the modern day, along with clever camera shots, and superb use of music. There is a wonderful scene when Edward asks Wallis to dance, when the entire scene erupts in laughter and music and the sex pistols.  There are many interruptions to the general flow of things. Fantastic use of real historical news reels – and re-creations of them – real vintage newspapers, and the use of real quotes from the letters they wrote to each other. Plus the lovely bit of naughty humour thrown in:

Edward: *gives Wallis yet another priceless Cartier piece of jewellery*

Wallis: My, you do know the way to a girl’s heart.

Edward: I wasn’t aiming that high.

Things like this, is what really made me sit up and pay attention. It isn’t trying to be The King’s Speech. It is trying to be something different.

I think the main point that quite a few reviewers have seemed to have missed, is that, unlike traditional Oscar Bait films such as The King’s Speech, The Iron Lady, etc. is that they’re trying to retell a story of a historical person. They are picking out bits of history which they think are interesting and turning it into an entertaining film that more often than not shows one character coming over adversity. (I think it is all fair to say that the morale of the British People didn’t entirely rely on whether or not the King of England could read a speech without stammering – but then where would all the tension be?)

In W.E. however,  I very much got the opinion that Madonna wasn’t trying to tell a story about what happened to Wallis and Edward, but more about how they – especially she felt and gave up.

In my humble opinion, it is not a film about ‘the greatest love story of all time’ (bad tagline). It is a film about the romance between the King and Wallis which gets out of their control. They are indeed romantic together, but it is not the romance that is the focus. Instead, it is more about Wallis herself. It is about her realisation of just what kind of situation she had gotten herself into – for better or worse, she was stuck with it. It was very interesting, actually, to see this from the woman’s point of view, as a point that is made repeatedly in the film, that Wallis Simpson’s interpretation and view of events rarely gets a mention, as it is always what the King gave up. It is certainly a very character-driven piece, and it is this depth of character that is most interesting. She isn’t a card-board cut out. Or someone who’s personality is written down to one fault, or has a generic personality. She is deep and complicated, and most of her actions aren’t ever explained. We are still left questioning as to who she is which, often is considered a bad thing in film. However, I think that in this case, it is actually a very good thing. She is played as a complicated and truthful character. One cannot ever understand the true depth of any other person, so who are we, to fully understand this woman who we have watched for only two hours. We enjoy her presence, but are not entirely sure why. She is not necessarily ever ‘nice’. But that doesn’t matter. She comes across as contagious and lights up every scene she’s in, so much that we want her on screen all the time. Surely a character like that, who we don’t fully understand, is much better than a character we understand from top to bottom?

I mentioned to my mum when the film ended, that it was very obviously directed by a woman – I don’t think this works in Madonna’s favour as female directors rarely get a mention in the male-dominated world of Hollywood. However, this does not mean it is a bad film, it is in fact a very clever, intellectual film, intended to make you think, not about your opinion of Wallis Simpson, or of the King, or of the institution as a whole. Instead it just requires you to think about the kind of things one is willing to do or give up in life, to get something they may, or may not want. There is a little mention in the film about ‘changing one’s destiny’ but frankly, this just seems to underlay the simple point of the world is the world. You do what you have to do to get what you want. The outcome might not be perfect. But you do what you feel you have to.

Closing words:
I would recommend this film to anyone who likes historical dramas, but is willing to look for something a little bit more. Of course, the costumes are gorgeous so anyone who is willing to sit and watch through a film with pretty clothes I would also recommend. Film enthusiasts – even if it is not your cup of tea – I would really recommend it, as it is a beautifully shot and very well directed film, plus the acting is absolutely superb.

I would give this film 3.8 out of 5. (It would have a 4, but the confusion at the beginning is where it fell down the most, which is a shame. Maybe a re-edited edition could be released on DVD at a later date?

Tinkerbell Movie

WHY has this been pushed back to Autumn next year? D:

Japan Holiday

Right! Finally going to get around to uploading everything about this! It has been a month since I returned from Japan and I have been so busy I haven't had time to do a proper write up! Well I'm trying to change that now, I hope you guys don't mind!

We left for Japan on September 28th, with Finnair Airlines. The flight was 13 hours (so long!) with a 40 minute stop-over at Helsinki airport.

Here we discovered Moomin Juice! I think it was meant to taste of cherries, or strawberry, but it was so sugary, and tasted a bit like watery syrup that it was quite hard to drink a lot of it at once! Ellie and I shared a bottle together, and it was still quite hard to finish it!

Everything in the Finnish Airport was related to Moomins. I knew it was a big thing for Finland, but I never realised how big! Moomin plushies and keyrings and sweets and juice. Seriously. Also their sweets were so sugary - and kind of disgusting. I don't recommend Finnish sweets if you can help it. Then again maybe we just had a packet of particularly gross ones?

DAY 1:
When we finally landed in Japan, we landed at 8am on the morning of September 29th, it took us a little while to find the hotel, we wandered to this little one called the Shiba Park Hotel, but when we got there they told us our hotel was for the Park Hotel Shiba! So the hotel staff were very kind and got us a taxi to our proper hotel. The hotel we actually were staying in was HUGE! It was a proper skyscraper. The actual hotel lobby was on the 25th floor, and our room was on the 32nd. We had such a wonderful view of Tokyo, we even got to overlook Zozoji Temple and Tokyo Tower!.

We decided that after having a shower and freshening up we were not going to waste the day! So we thought it would be fun to go and explore Zozoji Temple and Tokyo Tower as we didn't want to go and do anything too exhausting, but still wanted to do some sightseeing! So Zozoji Temple it was!

It is right by Tokyo Tower, and is a very strange place to go to. Tokyo is so modern, with loads of beautiful skyscrapers, it is strange to go to this traditional looking Temple that was so amazingly quiet! Really, the only noise we had was some monks chanting in one of the rooms we couldn't go into. It was lovely!

Japan is very strange, or perhaps it is just Tokyo, but it has this bizzare mix between the modern and high tech, and then crossed with the amazingly tacky. Tokyo tower was no different. We decided to go up it and we got a beautiful view of all of Tokyo - literally you can see everything, and going at the time we did (by the time we got there it was about 5pm) the sun was slowly beginning to set and the light was goooorgeous.

Then we went down the Tower, where they had an arcade, a weird wax work museum with knock-off Madame Tussards' models (no joke, the were actually advertised as this) and a fun house and a terrible horror house that wasn't scary at all. It was most amusing and I admit I can kind of see where the anime get their ideas for characters to go on their cute Slice of Life dates and stuff! If I had a boyfriend I would like to go there for a romantic evening and a fun laugh! (There were lots of cute Japanese couples doing just that!)

After exploring Tokyo Tower it had gotten dark, and we were still jet-lagged and hungry, and so decided we were going to get dinner, then head off back to the hotel for bed! We found this teeny tiny little diner that was literally just a bar with some bar stools. It had a vending machine with loads of pictures of what food they made on it. You put your money in and a ticket printed out, which you gave to the chef behind the bar who made it right in front of you. We both have pork ramen and it was delicious~.

What I wore:
Considering it was the end of September, Japan was surprisingly warm and humid, so all the jumpers and thick tights we packed were pretty redundant. 

Hat: Primark
Cardigan, dress and shoes: New Look.
DAY 2:
Here we decided that today was going to be 'Cultural Day' we figured we should do a day of Culture to offset the days of shopping we would do following. So we decided to go to Ueno Park, which seems to be the cultural hub of Tokyo, full of Museums, Temples, Art Galleries, a Zoo and everything. Its all good! We didn't have enough time to do everything at the park unfortunately, but we did a lot!

(Can anyone notice the Triforce in this photo?)

Ueno Park Zoo's main attraction is the panda it has, so the park was covered in everything panda related, from bins, posters, lampposts and even food! The panda on my plate is a meat bun! It was so yummy! I particularly enjoyed panda food. After exploring the temples and such, we decided to visit the Tokyo National Museum - think of it like the British Museum in terms of the stuff they had. It was full of so many beautiful things, and we had a lovely time - especially in the room specifically on Kimono!

And we bought some funny souvenirs!

It was a hot, sticky day, so after parading about museums for hours we departed for the hotel and dinner before bed!

DAY 3:
We went to Shinjuku this day, I took no photos alas, because I was too busy exploring shops! Japanese shopping is so interesting, there are full blown department stores of just clothes the size of Shopping Malls. I was so happy when I found one store that was full of Lolita shops. The clothes were so expensive but so cute! I didn't buy anything but a nice little hat! We popped into a bakery where all the girls serving were dressed like Victorian maids! It was adorable! Everyone was particularly sweet and friendly and one of the store girls said they thought what I was wearing was very cute.

What I wore:

Hat: FanplusFriend
Cardigan: H&M
Dress: Criminal Damage
Socks and Shoes: New Look

DAY 4:
This was Harajuku and Shibuya day, it was a Sunday, and we stopped at Harajuku station. It was amazing! It was like the Camden of Tokyo, so many beautiful shops with gorgeous clothes and accessories. I bought lots of lovely clothes, the shop girls were adorable, and very friendly and kind. I bought some cheap Lolita brand clothes in a second-hand clothing store (a new winter brand coat for £18!) When we got to Shibuya we decided to visit everywhere and photograph everything from The World Ends with You DS game that is set in Shibuya and both Ellie and I adore!

Tower Records! (The giant tv screen kept advertising Pocky which had the Japanese version of 'Hammertime' playing as the theme - it was most amusing!)

Scramble crossing! it really was so busy, we couldn't quite believe just how many people crossed it, it was quite amazing.

And we found the Hachiko statue! This was quite a popular tourist spot, so it was a very hasty photo taken before another tourist jumped in shot haha. While we were here, this Japanese girl and a photographer popped up to us and asked us whether Ellie and I were both models! It made us laugh and we had a nice chat in broken English and was a most amusing end to the day!

What I wore:
This was my 'brandwhore' day lol, I figured if I was going to Harajuku and all the Lolita shops I wanted to wear a bunch of my Lolita clothes!

Hat: Laforet (bought the day before)
Cardigan: Bodyline
Dress: Innocent World
Socks: SaiSai
Shoes: New Look

After that day we headed back home to England, it was a long flight, but we did enjoy Japan. It was so interesting to see such a modern, high-tech city in comparison to Kyoto which is very simple and traditional. I would love to go again sometime, and I'd like to thank HyperJapan for giving us the opportunity to visit Tokyo!

Oct. 31st, 2011

Sorry to keep the misery post up far longer than intended. I was hoping to upload details about Japan soon enough, but then life got in the way and I had forgotten my LJ log in details. Though since I'm working tonight (boo, working on Halloween night!) when I return home I shall probably entertain myself by doing everything I said I would. So watch this space! :)

Semi-Post-Japan and Life in General

Hello everyone! I have returned from Japan! I had a lovely time in Tokyo and exploring general districts of it! Much stuff was bought, sadly not as many pictures as I liked were taken. But it was good, and it gave me a chance to setp away from all the stuff that was stressing me out back home!

I shall be uploading pictures onto here, but that will probably be in the next post, as I haven't really had time to go over them, and write up a proper long-length talk about it yet, so I shall make sure as soon as I get some proper free time I shall sit down and do a proper run over it! (Including photos, outfit posts, etc.etc.)

Life so far has been okay, I've been working at the co-op in Sussex. Its okay, pretty depressing since everyone is either college age or 35+ so I have no one my age to talk to, and it seems no one is really geeky at all or into the same kinds of things as I am. (One of the guys did mention his girlfriend went to expo - he went once and didn't like it - and how they always found it funny people dressed up in 'weird' outfits and stuff. Of course, I did mention that I was one of those people, and that made the whole conversation very awkward very quickly). But its not bad. All in all the people are nice. Its just sad because I keep coming home depressed because it is a job I am having no fun in, not feeling challenged by, and am not learning anything new, frankly the only reason I'm there is for money, though I wish it wasn't.

I am job hunting, but of course media jobsites are not the easiest things to navigate, and most demand a £20+ payment every month to keep you on 'premium' membership so you can actually apply to the jobs they're advertising, which sucks because I will never spend money like that. I just really want a job doing something interesting, I don't even care if its something I don't want to do, just something more interesting than serving customers would be good.

Apart from jobs, something weird has been happening lately, and I really don't know how to approach it.

One of the guys I mentioned in the last journal - the one I do D&D with. Has been asking me out to lunch lately before our RP sessions. I've politely obliged on all occasions and we've had a laugh and stuff, then he's asked if we want to go and wander and sit and chat, which we do and generally have a pleasent time until we go to Steve's house for D&D in the evenings. Though, he always asks me if I'm ok at times and stuff, and I admit, to me its kind of obvious he is giving the impression that he likes me, and I never know how to respond. I always say I'm okay, but whenever anything gets mentioned where he says he thinks I'm really nice or he hints towards maybe wanting to ask me out or something I get all awkward.

I can't help it, I instantly feel uncomfortable in a situation like that, and always have to change it to being a laugh or a joke to feel better about it. Normally this isn't a problem, though when I was driving him home today, he said that he's quite good at reading people, and apologised for asking me if I'm okay all the time and stuff. Basically he explained that he was worried I felt uncomfortable in situations that I am not used to, that I'm a bit eccentric, but also very unnerved by things that I don't know how to deal with. I genuinely didn't know how to reply to that, and just had to laugh and say that maybe it was true, but I didn't know.

Even so, he's asked me if I would like to go out to dinner with him one night to a proper restaurant (when we've been having lunch we just go to Yo!Sushi). I agreed, but I really don't know what to do. 

I admit, I'm not a very confident person, I try and pretend to be, but really I'm not. I'm always concerned that I'm not attractive and there's no way guys will want to go out with me - it doesn't help that a couple of guys who have claimed they're interested in me, suddenly drop me a week later or so for someone who is far more attractive and confident. I admit, hanging out with all my friends, who are all very attractive ladies makes me feel just as uncomfortable when it comes to guys, as I know they're looking at my friends and not me -or rather, they're chatting up my friends and not me - which gets me a little upset sometimes, but I've always just tried to brush it off and not let it ruin my time.

I've also joined tumblr, which, although fun, and lets me chat to a bunch of my cosplay friends I don't really have any other contacts for, kind of upsets me on occasion as well. Quite a few of them have loads of fans on there, who are constantly sending them messages such as 'you're so pretty' and 'your eyes are gorgeous' and stuff. Its probably just fans talking, but I still always feel really unattractive to see people receiving comments like that when I don't. 

So when guys take a sudden interest in me, I really don't know how to react, I'm so used to guys overlooking me that it just feels strange to suddenly have their attention on me instead of someone else. The worst part is, because I always feel so uncomfortable when I'm the focus of a guy's attention, I end up feeling really awkward, and wishing the attention would go away, which is just plain counterproductive. I keep saying I want a boyfriend, or something, but if I feel awkward and unhappy about the attention I get from a guy who might have an interest in me, what's the point?

I'm not asking for tonnes of compliments or anything. Just some feedback or suggestions on how I can get over feeling like this. Its kind of upsetting and frustrating and I wish it would all just go away entirely. But I know brushing it under the carpet won't help.

Blagh, sorry for the uber rant of depressing-ness. I promise the next post will be more fun as I'll have lots of pictures and talk about Japan where I had a great time. Love you all. <3

Men are like Buses...


So the other week I went to an audition for the latest Barefoot Players Production, when halfway through, the nice guy I met the other night (the one I chatted to in the club while playing my PSP and Kingdom Hearts) turned up. He knew a surprising handful of the group, and apparently decided just to pop up and watch. It was a little embarrassing (I tend to get all awkward if I feel people are 'watching' me when I audition - which is stupid, considering that's what an audition is!) but I pretended he wasn't there for the most part until we had a break and I could pop over to say hello.

We had already had a go at a couple of scenes, and he said hello and how he enjoyed watching Ellie and I performing together, saying things like "I can see how you won a trip to Japan with it!" and stuff like that. He was very nice as before, and we had a little chat about video games, such as Zelda and Pokemon. 

As always with our BFP auditions (and some rehearsals) the evening ends with a trip to the pub, so we all made our way to the pub and sat down over two tables and chatted. I admit, myself and the nice guy ended up getting really deep into conversation about Japan, what to do there, what I plan to do, video games (again), what we want to do with our lives, etc. Moving eventually onto the topic of movies. Of which we both expressed our joy for The Muppet Movie and all subsequent Muppet-related films thereafter, to the point of how we wanted to see The Muppets but had no one to go and see it with.

To which he replied he'd like to go and see it with me.

Now this is where I always get confused with guys, I never know if they mean it in a 'friend' way, or in a 'more than friend' way - mostly because generally I'm a pretty oblivious person when it comes to these sorts of things, so I always say yes anyway. 

Now, pausing on this nice guy, we go to gentleman 2.

This guy is someone I've been hanging out with for a while, he's part of my Southampton Legend of the Five Rings (a Samurai-themed D&D game) group. We were also in the same group for about 8 months previously on our last tabletop game, Dark Heresy (based off the Warhammer 40k verse). He's a really nice guy, fun, friendly, we tend to share the same jokes and have invisible gun battles across the room when the GM has someone out of the room to discuss 'private roleplay'.

He teases me a lot, but not in a nasty way, and yeah he's an altogether nice fun guy to be around. He's always complimenting me for my cosplay work, always saying "I don't know what it is, but I think this one is cool and that one is too" and saying how he likes how I can make myself look like a guy, but also a really girly girl as well. Anyway, last session (Friday night just gone) he asked in a casual way 'which team I batted for'.

Since he phrased it in such a casual way I didn't think anything of it when I replied saying I was straight. At the end of the night I offered him a lift home, since i was dropping our GM off on the way anyway, I didn't mind giving him a lift so he didn't have to do a 40min walk at 3am in Southampton. On the drive over, we had a friendly chat as usual, and then when we got to his house he said that he'd like to talk more about the stuff I'm into, that he'd love to get involved with something like cosplay, since he thinks its really cool, and even is curious about attending Expo. He said maybe we should chat about it over drinks or go to the cinema if I wanted.

This is when I was not so oblivious and thought maybe he was suggesting a 'date' but hadn't officially called it a 'date'. But I admit, he's a nice guy and I like chatting to him, so I said drinks would be nice, and there's a load of good films coming out in November that I'd love to go and see anyway, and we would discuss it on Facebook.

Since then he's sent me the occasional little text saying how he liked the little chat we had, and that we should meet up for drinks sometime, and then said how he thought my cosplay stuff was cool and how he likes how I look 'serious' in some photos and 'stunning' in others.

I didn't have time to reply to the last text since I've been at work all day and he's only just now (literally as I'm typing this) written another apologising saying he hoped he didn't say anything wrong in his last text.

All in all, I really don't know what to do in either of these two cases! I'm so unused to male attention that on the off chance it does happen I end up being all 'durr' and not knowing what to do. Personally I feel it can't hurt to hang out with either at the moment, mostly because no one has officially called it a 'date' or actually gone and asked me out. But then again another part of me is still wondering if it counts as cheating or not, or stringing along two guys. Which is something I don't want to do because they're both lovely. 

I'm just a bit stuck of what to do. :( Maybe I'm thinking too much into this. Guys make everything difficult!

Faustus and Jane Eyre

Even though I have not been at uni, it doesn't feel as if my life has gotten any slower, I am still awfully busy doing things and going to things that today is my first day off and it still has involved me sewing and making a dress for someone who isn't me lol!

What I have been up to lately:

Last week a couple of events happened, that I went and did. First thing was that I went and saw a production of Dr Faustus at the Globe in London. Faustus is a play I have never seen nor read, but have known plenty about from references/quotes/the plot, etc. It has always been one I have wanted to see but have never had the oppertunity to. So I was very excited when Ellie offered to buy tickets for her, myself, Ed and Jibsy to go and see! She and Jibsy had already seen it before, as well as another production by the same company only a week earlier called The God of Soho. Ed and I had to keep telling Ellie and Jibsy to shut up everytime they remotely hinted something about the production, and I admit it got a little annoying having to tell them that the thing they found really funny wasn't funny for us because we hadn't seen the other production. I think they realised eventually that they couldn't say much until after Ed and I had seen Faustus. XD

The play itself was really very good. They had some weird thing with books at the beginning, which I admit i didn't like, as it reminded me too much of GCSE and A-Level drama-type things, which I thought was a little shoddy for the stage of The Globe. However, as the play progressed and the whole thing about magic and demons got involved, then I didn't mind the book-dances quite so much. The costumes were very good, I loved how they did the two angels (the good and bad) and the good angel's wings were beaaaautiful. I admit, everytime they were both on stage I was trying to work out what their breastplates were made of, as it looked vaguely like craft foam, but I think it may have been some kind of leather thing.

Good Angel, Bad Angel, Faustus.

Faustus was very good, he played the part exceptionally well, and I especially enjoyed his interaction with Mephistopheles. (Seriously, my new OTP, a man and his demon had such a bromance, from the little patting on the head, to Mephistopheles' GETOFFMYMAN faces to the people Faustus was sleeping with and so on). The magic tricks were cool, fire leaping out of books (a very simple magic trick, but effective nonetheless), Giant bone dragons appearing on stage for people to fly on. I liked how the 'spirits' Mephistopheles summoned were from the future in 18th century dresses and frock coats all in white, very beautiful. And how they made Helen of Troy was very clever too, I liked how they made her a giant woman with just a fake head like a Greek play mask, and lots of white fabric - I mean how can you possibly make the woman who is supposedly the most beautiful woman in the world real on stage? It was very beautiful.

Mephistopheles, Denizens of Hell and Faustus

I also enjoyed the little bits such as the disappearing and reappearing lute that kept being picked up through trap doors on various parts of the stage (however since we were standing in the courtyard people's heads were in the way, so it literally looked like the lute was appearing out of nowhere since we couldn't see the trapdoors). Also, I found Mephistopheles very attactive for a demon *gush* he was really handsome. It was only afterwards that I realised the guy playing Mephistopheles was also the guy who played Rory in Dr Who. I'm not a massive Dr Who fan, so I didn't recognise him right away with facial hair. I don't normally go for facial hair, but I thought Mephistopheles looked far less 'weedy-looking' than Rory does. 

Mephistopheles and other demons 
Rory from Dr WhoMephistopheles and Faustus

Saturday night, Jibsy, Ellie, Kit and I went and saw the new Jane Eyre film in the cinema. I mostly wanted to see it just because Michael Fassbender was in it, but I was also curious just to see the film as a whole, as its nice to see a good period drama on the screen now and again.

I was actually very impressed with the film, the cinematography was very good, the acting was superb, Ellie and I spent plenty of time gushing at how well they had done the costumes for such a tricky time period (that weird period midway between the Regency and Victorian eras where ankles and boobs were generally still shown, but shapes, fabrics and accessories were distinctly Victorian) - we noted a few particular bonnets we loved.

There was a particularly delicious scene which showed off just WHY men should wear those high-trousers again. When there was a backshot of Fassbender leaning out of the window to yell "Jane?!" I think every member of the audience's gaze (including the men) all instantly went to his very well-tailored butt.

Sadly, there was one fashion disaster in the film which I don't think any of us have quite gotten over yet, which is Fassbender's straw top-hat. Which, admittedly was a thing and a fashion item at the time. But it was still gross, unfortunate and I hope it was burned quickly after filming that scene (thankfully it appeared in no more) though it was rather upsetting all the same. The distressing item of clothing can be seen in this picture below, with the absolutely gorgeous wedding dress which I want in my life right now!

There was also the running joke of the fact that Jibsy had come not to see Michael Fassbender, but instead Harry Lloyd, whom we all kept insisting would only be in it for about five minutes. He was. He was unceremoniously shoved in a carriage, and as he usually does in every film he's in, his character ruined everything - I think it is in his contract. Either way, it was most amusing nonetheless.

So yes, a good film if you like period dramas, well filmed, well acted, great costumes (all except the awful hat) I highly recommend it to anyone who likes this sort of thing! :D

What I wore:

Only one outfit which I wore on Sunday to have lunch at Ellie's house. (I was in a hurry the other days so didn't get any outfit posts I'm afraid :( )

Hair band: Primark...? (I've had it so long I can't remember!)
Cardigan: Bodyline (bought at Aya Bring-and-buy)
Dress: H&M
Leggings: Primark
Shoes: New Look [sale]


I had a really surreal experience today. 

I was walking the dog over the showground as usual, but something seemed a bit different today. I have lived in the same village all my life. I have moved three times but all within the village (essentially working our way up the high street. I have never not lived in the village, until I went to university for four years where I lived in Southampton. I really enjoyed living in Southampton, it was so different from what I was used to in my tiny village, you could walk everywhere to the shops, to buy milk, to the train station, there was more than one bus in terms of transport and all my friends were in one place and within walking distance, and didn't require any extra travel costs. I have been coming back home at weekends, but that's mostly to see family and friends, and rarely did I have any time that could be spared not doing much.

But of course I moved back home, and have been living here near enough 2-3 weeks. But today is the first day I've suddenly been hit by a wave of nostalgia. Its very strange. Where I walk the dog is right past the village primary school, where I went myself when I was very little. Usually at the time I go the kids are all in lessons, but this time, I found it was break time, and so all the kids were running around and shouting and playing.

I actually got a little choked up. I remember my time at primary school far better than secondary school, I had such fun, and some lovely friends. I remember playing bulldog in the playground until the teachers told us it was unsafe, I remember collecting conkers and sticking them in bowls of vinegar so they would be harder to break. The gate at the playground would be where my dad picked me up on Fridays (he finished work early on Fridays, and always picked me up from primary school because he could). Fridays would be 'Treat Day' and we would go down to the local sweet shop and I would spend my pocket money on sweeties. (The building is still there, but it has been converted into a house now, which is a little sad).

When you go past the primary school, the village playground is a little down the path. It has changed three times since I have lived there. When I was little, it had a huge metal slide, and a metal climbing frame, an old cranky metal roundabout and three huge tire swings with two painted yellow, and one red. It wasn't much, but it was our playground at the time. I remember that the slide didn't really work as it burnt your bum on your way down, and in the summer it would get so hot you couldn't go on it. The climbing frame was lots of fun, as we played games where it would be several people's forts and the others would try and take it over with water pistols and sticks.

I never liked what they changed it to after we had it, they made it too baby-ish. The new climbing frame was rubbish, and they only had two swings put in, and a rubbish roundabout. Maybe it was because my friends and I were all a bit bitter about them wrecking 'our' playground for babies, but we never liked it. The new playground however looks quite nice. There's a few things I wouldn't mind having a play on myself. Not on my own though, as that might seem a bit weird. But it looks very nice.

When you walk down the path there is a split in the road. The path goes straight on past the public toilets and tiny cricket club car park to the main high street. Or you can go down this tiny little path on either side are these huge bushes that run down its entire length, and entre onto a Cul-de-sac type area. In my first house, this would be where I would go to get home. I remember cycling bikes up there on summer evenings, or roller blades, I had a pink jumper covered in sweets which I would always wear down the little path. It was sort of a 'halfway point' I suppose.

I don't know why I felt so nostalgic about it, it had me a little upset really. I am a person who dislikes change. I can't stand it as I am terrified of the thought of forgetting important things, and to me, to have something to connect to memories helps you remember it. I don't know if I'm glad to be home or not, I've always said I never want to officially move from the village, but I never know if I can really move on if I stay and get so upset about things I miss so much.

Sorry about the misery post. I just had to get it out there. Hope everyone had a nice day :)