April Fools 2014: Where the Wild Things Are

Abbi:

Check out my latest guest blog over at Silver Screen Serenade where I talk about my top 5 lovable idiots with the fabulous Cara.

Originally posted on Silver Screen Serenade:

where the wild things are

How about a brand-spankin’ new list of lovable idiots for your Saturday enjoyment? The lovely Abbi from Where the Wild Things Are is here to share just such a list with us! Abbi has a wonderful blog that dabbles in all kinds of things–movie reviews, throwback pictures, recipes, fashion, top ten lists…it’s all great fun, so follow her! Anywho, here’s her list of April Fools!

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Film Friday #176

Party Monster (2003)

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, Party Monster tells the story of New York party scene casualty Michael Alig (Macauley Culkin) through the eyes of his best friend James St James (Seth Green). Naive but determined Michael arrives in New York from Indiana desperate to become a party promoter. He thrusts his unwanted friendship onto James, who is the toast of the town and slowly but surely his parties with their crazy themes become the place to be. Initially Michael avoids drugs but as he falls for gorgeous Keoki (Wilmer Valderama), he starts to indulge to fit in, developing a habit that overwhelms everything else in his life. Soon Michael finds it hard to keep hold of what is real in amongst the colourful chaos of traveling from one party to the next while trying to satiate his unstoppable hunger for the next fix, leading to an incident that will not only change the course of Michael’s life but also rock the whole scene. Party Monster is brash, trashy, bright and terribly shallow with a total focus on style over substance, which could come across as criticism but it from my perspective it seemed like a conscious decision to mirror Alig and St James’ lives. Apparently Culkin went mad while playing Alig and I can’t say I am terribly surprised. Overall Culkin’s performance is uneven, sometimes seemingly capturing the spirit of the scene and Alig’s flamboyance but other times coming off as over the top and amateurish. It is Green who often steals the show, completely disappearing into St James, playing against his normal goofy type. It’s not difficult to buy his genuine concern for Alig. This is a film that definitely won’t be for everyone. Some might find the characters annoying and the surrealness of their lives hard to identify with. I found it dark, disturbing and quite fascinating and apparently I’m not the only one, as it’s become something of a cult classic. 3/5

What do you mean this isn't regulation hospital uniform?

What do you mean this isn’t regulation hospital uniform?

The Graduate (1967)

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) returns home after graduating from college, listless and not sure what he wants to do with his life. Feeling alienated from his parents he falls into an affair with Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the much older wife of his father’s business partner. Mrs Robinson only has two rules for Benjamin, she doesn’t want to talk about their feelings and she doesn’t want him to go anywhere near her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross). Of course Benjamin can’t stick to either of these rules and after taking Elaine on a date, realises he’s fallen in love with her. Now he will have to break off his affair with Mrs Robinson without his new love realising that he’s been having it off with her mom or his parents or Mr Robinson finding out. Unfortunately, inexperienced Benjamin has not counted on the wrath of a woman scorned. I wanted to enjoy The Graduate but I had some issues with it. First of all I just couldn’t buy Hoffman as a romantic lead. He’s such a very tiny little man and so all his posturing and performing kind of made me want to giggle. I know that’s really shallow of me but I just couldn’t take him seriously. I also found the bit where he basically turned up at Elaine’s college and stalked her to be really weird. All of that said, the soundtrack is awesome and Bancroft is fabulous as a woman desperate not to disappear as she gets older. I guess it’s one of those classics where I just don’t really get the hype. 2.5/5

Is there something on my head?

Is there something on my head?

This is the End (2013)

This is the End is a pretty unique comedy… since every one of the characters is playing themselves. Neurotic Jay Baruchel travels to LA to visit his friend, Seth Rogen to basically hang out and smoke a whole bunch of weed. But Seth has made a new Hollywood friends who he wants Jay to get to know better so he drags him to a party at James Franco’s house. Jay is none too pleased since he thinks Seth’s new friends are a bunch of pretentious dicks… but when an apocalyptic event occurs during the party the group, including Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson are trapped in Franco’s house fighting to survive. Will they work together or will their egos end up being more dangerous that whatever the hell it is that killed Michael Cera? All the actors involved are having a great time playing parodies of themselves, particularly Franco who embraces the idea that he is a self absorbed, hipster douche bag and absolutely throws himself into it. The arrival of Danny McBride half way through adds a whole other dimension of hilarious insanity, even if you kind of already hate the guy, and Jonah Hill’s weird obsession with Jay is brilliantly creepy. Although the best part is probably Channing Tatum’s five minutes of screen time. All in all, this is just 107 minutes of craziness mixed with a bit of horror that is bound to make you laugh. 3.5/5

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Danny McBride’s back hair was more than anyone could take

Speed (1994)

After terrorist Howard Payne’s (Dennis Hopper) plan to blow up an elevator goes wrong the two cops that managed to stop him are hailed as heroes and he is presumed dead. Months later one of these original officers, Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), discovers that a bomb has been placed on a bus and immediately suspects Payne, who has two stipulations – the bus cannot travel below 50 mph and no one can get off. Traven makes his way onto the bus but not before the driver is shot, leaving unlicensed driver, Annie (Sandra Bullock) behind the wheel. Now he must manage traffic jams, unfinished highways and petrified passengers, all while trying to diffuse the bomb and keep Payne at bay. Speed is not without problems – the premise is kind of ridiculous, the script is a bit crap and Keanu, is as plankish as always… but it does have some classic lines (“Shoot the hostage!”), there is a fair bit of chemistry between Bullock and Reeves and, well, it’s pretty action-packed and exciting. It was one of my absolute favourites when it came out and I was thirteen and although it isn’t quite as exciting twenty years later (Jesus Christ, is that how old I am?), it’s still really watchable as long as you can suspend your disbelief. As 90′s action movies go, it doesn’t get much better than this! 3.5/5

What do you mean am I going for pine or mahogany?

What do you mean am I going for pine or mahogany?

Throwback Thursday #25: where’s me trousers?

Apparently it was International Sibling Day last week but somehow I missed it. Anyway, here’s a picture of me and my brother, Pete playing in our garden in Edenvale in 1985. I am about 4 and he must be around 1. I’m not sure why he has a doll’s trousers on his head but I am clearly puzzled. Also I appear to have lost my bottoms?

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Things I have been cooking lately #71: Enchilada Casserole

I really love Mexican flavours and this super tasty easy recipe makes a great mid-week meal. Unfortunately once again my food photography has been a disaster but I promise it tastes absolutely delicious even if it looks a bit weird in this picture. Oh… and it’s vegetarian too!

Enchilada casserole

1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper (or any combination of the above)
1/2 a red onion
2 cups of frozen or tinned sweetcorn
Hot chili powder
Smoked paprika
Ground cumin
Salt
1 tin or refried beans
2 cups cheese
1 enchilada kit – Old El Paso or similar – I used Sainsbury’s own brand
OR1 cup of enchilada sauce
8 corn wraps

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Chop the peppers and onion into 1 inch chunks.. Spread out across a baking sheet. Sprinkle with chilli, paprika, cumin and salt. I didn’t measure… I just gave it a hearty sprinkle of each. Obviously if you want it hot, put more chilli or if not, put less. Spread the corn across another baking sheet, also sprinkle with the chilli, paprika, cumin and salt. Put both baking trays in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, turning half way.

While the veggies are roasting, cut the wraps from your kit into 1cm wide strips. Spread a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of a medium sized oven safe baking dish and spread out a layer of the wrap strips. Put the refried beans in a bowl and mix with a little water to get a spreadable consistency.

When the veggies are done mix them together and then add half of them to the baking dish. Cover with half the remaining enchilada sauce and then another layer of wrap strips. Spread across the refried beans and half the cheese. Then another layer of wrap strips, another layer of veg and another layer of enchilada sauce. Finish with a layer of wrap strips and then the rest of the cheese and a final sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Serves 4

enchiladacasserole

Outfit of the week #44: In between days

London is in that weird in between weather stage where the temperature variation during the day is vast and you’re never quite sure if it’s suddenly going to turn really cold, pour with rain or even produce a sudden blast of sunshine.  This time of year always leads to some bonkers outfits and it’s not uncommon to spot hotch potch half winter/half summer looks on the tube. Sandals with a winter coat, anyone?

I’d like to hope I’ve done a good job of managing the in between days with today’s casual look. I am wearing a blue and white long sleeved stretch t-shirt from Primark with stone washed skinny blue jeans from New Look, a bird patterned navy scarf from Oliver Bonas,  an oversize tan cardigan from River Island, a vintage beaded heart necklace from Beyond Retro and my leopard print Superga trainers via Office. No idea what is up with my crazy fringe.

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My top 10 Nicolas Cage roles

Recently as part of coverage of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, Josh from JJames Reviews and Ruth from Flixchatter shared their top 10 Nicolas Cage roles and I couldn’t resist joining in. After all dear old Nic is one of those bizarre Hollywood institutions that is capable of a brilliant performance given the right opportunity but instead mostly squanders his “talent” on terrible, terrible action movies. Although in recent years he’s ended up being more of a figure of fun than a serious thesp, I have picked out some of the roles that I remember loving him in… some for all the wrong reasons. Here’s my top 10.

 NICOLAS CAGE as Yuri Orlov in LORD OF WAR directed by ANDREW NICCOL
The role: Yuri Orlov, an arms dealer with conflicted morals
The film: Lord of War (2005)
Crazy eyes rating: Two spinning gun barrels out of ten.
Respectability rating: 7/10
“Yuri Orlov: Of all the weapons in the vast soviet arsenal, nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947. More commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It’s the world’s most popular assault rifle. A weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn’t break, jam, or overheat. It’ll shoot whether it’s covered in mud or filled with sand. It’s so easy, even a child can use it; and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin. Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people’s greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure, no one was lining up to buy their cars.

Terence McDonagh
The role: Terence McDonagh, a cop with a penchant for drugs, loose women and gambling
The Film:  The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (2009)
Crazy eyes rating: Eight buzzing quaaludes out of ten
Respectability rating: 5/10
“Terence McDonagh: Everything I take is prescription – except for the heroin.”

seth
The role: Seth, an angel who chooses to leave heaven after he falls in love with a doctor
The Film: City of Angels (1998)
Crazy eyes rating: One pearly pear out of ten
Respectability rating: 5/10
“Seth: I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss of her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. One.”

sailor ripley
The role: Sailor Ripley, a jailbird in love
The film: Wild at Heart (1990)
Crazy eyes rating: Eight glowing fag ends out of ten
Respectability rating: 6/10… depending on how you feel about David Lymch
“Sailor: Man, I had a boner with a capital “O”.

Ronny Cammareri
The role: Ronny Cammareri, a rough but passionate bakery oven attendant with a missing hand
The film: Moonstruck (1987)
Crazy eyes rating: Five glazed rolls out of ten
Respectability rating: 8/10
“Ronny Cammareri: Everything seems like nothing to me now, ’cause I want you in my bed. I don’t care if I burn in hell. I don’t care if you burn in hell. The past and the future is a joke to me now. I see that they’re nothing. I see they ain’t here. The only thing that’s here is you – and me.”

hi
The role: H.I. McDunnough, an ex-con who desperately wants to be a dad
The film: Raising Arizona (1987)
Crazy eyes rating: Seven fizzing pineapples out of 10
Respectability rating: 9/10
“H.I.: That night, I had a dream. I drifted off thinking about happiness, birth and new life, But now I was haunted by a vision of… He was horrible. The lone biker of apocalypse. A man with all the powers of Hell at his command. He could turn turn the day into night and lay to waste everything in his path. He was especially hard on little things-the helpless and the gentle creatures. He left a scorched earth in his wake befouling even the sweet desert breeze that whipped across his brow. I didn’t know where he came from or why. I didn’t know if he was dream or vision. But I feared that I myself had unleashed him. For he was the fury that would be as soon as Florence Arizona found her little Nathan gone.

family man
The role: Jack Campbell, a selfish businessman who finds out what his life would have been like if he married the one that got away
The film: The Family Man (2000)
Crazy eyes rating: One baby sock out of ten
Respectability rating: 1/10 – I really should not like this movie
“Jack: We have a house in Jersey. We have two kids, Annie and Josh. Annie’s not much of a violin player, but she tries real hard. She’s a little precocious, but that’s only because she says what’s on her mind. And when she smiles… And Josh, he has your eyes. He doesn’t say much, but we know he’s smart. He’s always got his eyes open, he’s always watching us. Sometimes you can look at him and you just know he’s learning something new. It’s like witnessing a miracle. The house is a mess but it’s ours. After 122 more payments, it’s going to be ours. And you, you’re a non-profit lawyer. That’s right, you’re completely non-profit, but that doesn’t seem to bother you. And we’re in love. After 13 years of marriage we’re still unbelievably in love. You won’t even let me touch you until I’ve said it. I sing to you. Not all the time, but definitely on special occasions. We’ve dealt with our share of surprises and made a lot of sacrifices but we’ve stayed together. You see, you’re a better person than I am. And it made me a better person to be around you. I don’t know, maybe it was just all a dream. Maybe I went to bed one lonely night in December and I imagined it all. But I swear, nothing has ever felt more real. And if you get on that plane right now, it’ll disappear forever. I know we could both go on with our lives and we’d both be fine, but I’ve seen what we could be like together. And I choose us.

faceoff
The role: Castor Troy / Sean Archer, a cop who switches identities with a master criminal
The film: Face/Off (1997)
Crazy eyes rating: Nine spinning peaches out of ten
Respectability rating: 4/10
“Castor Troy: I AM Castor Troy!”

Big daddy
The role: Damon Macready/Big Daddy, father/super hero
The film: Kick-Ass (2010)
Crazy eyes rating: Ten 44 caliber bullets out of ten
Respectability rating: 9/10
“Damon Macready: So… Have you thought a little more about what you might want for your birthday?
Mindy Macready: Can I get a puppy?
Damon Macready: [surprised] You wanna get a dog?
Mindy Macready: Yeah, a cuddly fluffy one, and a Bratz movie-star make over Sasha!
[Damon is stunned]
Mindy Macready: [laughs] I’m just fucking with you Daddy! Look, I’d love a Benchmade model 42 butterfly knife.
Damon Macready: [relieved] Oh, child… You always knock me for a loop!”

ben sanderson
The role: Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic screenwriter who arrives in Vegas with the intention of drinking himself to death
The film: Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Crazy eyes rating: Three swiveling gimlets out of ten
Respectability rating: 10/10
“Ben Sanderson: We both know that I’m a drunk. And I know you are a hooker. I hope you understand that I am a person who is totally at ease with that. Which is not to say that I’m indifferent or I don’t care, I do. It simple means that I trust and accept your judgment.”

Film Friday #175

Divergent (2014)

In a dystopian future Chicago, society is divided into five factions according to its citizens virtues and values. Abnegation, who also run the overall government, believe in selflessness and service, Candor believe in truth and transparency, Amity believe in peace and kindness, Erudite in the power of knowledge and Dauntless are a wild, fearless warrior faction responsible for protecting the city from whatever it is that lurks beyond its walls. As each member of the society comes of age, they must undertake a test which will tell them conclusively which one faction they belong in. So when Abnegation teen, Tris (Shailene Woodley) receives a mixed result and discovers she is “divergent” she must hide her true identity to avoid being hunted down by Erudite purists who believe divergence threatens societal harmony. She decides to join Dauntless, enticed by the apparent freedom of their lives but finds herself subjected to a brutal and ruthless training programme at the hands of instructors, Eric (Jai Courtney) and Four (Theo James). Those who do not make it will face a fate worse than death – becoming factionless, alone and forced to beg and scrape to survive. At the same time someone is spreading rumours that Abnegation are corrupt and the Erudite are becoming progressively more aggressive in their hunt for divergents. Will Tris survive the Dauntless training programme? Will she and Four become more than just friends? What will she do if her secret comes out? And what exactly is Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), the Erudite leader up to? I went into this one with very low expectations having read several less than glowing reviews so I was quite pleasantly surprised. I have read the books and although I didn’t love some of the changes, I thought for the the most part the interpretation stayed true to the essence of the story and I really enjoyed Shailene Woodley as Tris. On the downside, the character development of all the secondary characters was almost non-existent, which made it hard to care about them, the chemistry between Woodley and James was completely flat, it dragged a bit in the middle and Tris’ transformation from zero to fighting machine seemed a little too sudden. Worth a watch but no match for Hunger Games. 3/5

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I know I was much hotter in the book, but just go with it

Monster-in-law (2005)

Hippie artist, Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) thinks her dating woes have come to an end when she meets Kevin (Michael Vartan), who has looks, money, charm and a big heart. Ah bless! Unfortunately Kevin’s mother, Viola (Jane Fonda) is a psycho hose beast who doesn’t believe anyone, least of all unsophisticated Charlie, is good enough for her perfect son and sets about systematically trying to ruin their relationship. There are lots of things wrong with this film. It’s utterly predictable and J-Lo plays her character as an annoying, passive and somewhat pathetic little girl. However, Fonda is actually really funny playing a devil in a designer suit and the diabolical plans her character comes up with to discredit Charlie are kind of brilliant. In the end Monster-in-Law is nothing special but it is watchable and mercifully only 101 minutes long. 2.5/5

What do you mean a tea cosy isn't appropriate wear for lunch at a country club?

What do you mean a tea cosy isn’t appropriate wear for lunch at a country club?

Ender’s Game (2013)

Years after Earth was invaded by a race of voracious, water seeking aliens called the Formics, young Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) is recruited into a military programme where children and young teenagers are training for a future invasion through games and simulations. Under the watchful gaze of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender shows remarkable leadership potential but struggles to integrate with his teammates until he takes over his own team of “misfits” and he not only makes friends but also proves himself to be a force to be reckoned with. Now he will lead the attack force against the Formics but will he be able to control his aggression and are the Formics really as evil as he’s been lead to believe? Ender’s Game looks really good and the young actors do a great job but I ended up with way too many questions. If the Formics were completely unable to communicate, how did they know they were called the Formics… or did they just randomly name them that? Also the explanation that children were being used for complex military missions involving extreme violence and killing because they “played a lot of video games” wasn’t enough for me. I mean, seriously? What kind of a society is this? And then they ending was summed up in about five minutes. I know there is a YA novel behind this so I am assuming this is yet another ham fisted screen interpretation. Disappointing. 2/5

Yes, fine, you look like a giant wasp… now get on with it!

World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

Lance (Robin Williams) is a lonely widowed high school teacher who has trouble connecting with his rude, obnoxious, sex obsessed teenage son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara). When Kyle dies in an autoerotic asphyxiation accident, Lance can’t bear the shame so he decides to make Kyle’s death look like a suicide, complete with heartfelt note. Unsurprisingly Lance is deluged in sympathy and he can’t help but enjoy the attention, which only becomes more intense when Kyle’s touching “suicide note” is leaked. Soon a cult of personality is built up around the late Kyle, who becomes posthumously popular when Lance releases his diaries… which he has of course written. As the obsession with Kyle increases so does the perception of Lance as a wonderful bereaved father, leading to the fame and fortune he has craved as a frustrated writer but how far is he willing to go? This is comedy of the absolute blackest order and Williams does a great job of portraying a character that is both very sympathetic and loathsome at the same time. It doesn’t seem like World’s Greatest Dad got much publicity at the time that it came out, which is unfortunate because it’s kind of great in all it’s twisted glory. Recommended for anyone who prefers their laughs on the macabre side. 3.5/5

"All these perfect fake boobies... it's enough to bring tears to your eyes."

“All these perfect fake boobies… it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes.”