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Hazel

What films have you seen recently?

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I went to see Hot Fuzz last night, which was great. It has the same sense of humour and sensibilities as Shaun of the Dead, so if you liked that chances are you'll enjoy their latest effort.

 

It has bit parts from nearly every British comedic actor and they all make their seconds on screen count. Simon Pegg plays the straight man to Nick Frosts funny antics. It just works well. Watch out for a bit of gore and a particularly pesky swan. You'll never see the neighbourhood watch in the same light again!

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I went to see Hot Fuzz last night, which was great. It has the same sense of humour and sensibilities as Shaun of the Dead, so if you liked that chances are you'll enjoy their latest effort.

 

 

Oh, I am dying to see that, but I will have to wait for it on DVD. 2 kids, no babysitters makes for zero trips to the cinema! It looks fantastic though.

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I went to see Hot Fuzz last night, which was great.
Oooh, I've seen a trailer of that movie. Looked very interesting and funny.

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I watched Tristan & Isolde last night. Now I know nothing about this medieval myth/legend/couple so don't jump on me if I get any of the story wrong - I'll go by the film plot.

 

The English tribes, after the departure of the Romans, are in disarray. They are under threat from the Irish king. One night the Irish attack and Tristan (aged 8)

is saved from death by Marke (Rufus Sewell). Everyone else dies including Tristan's parents. Tristan (now an adult James Franco) is raised by Marke and turns out to be a terrific fighter. One day he 'dies' in battle and is cast adrift on a burning boat - the funeral of Kings. But he isn't dead merely poisoned and his boat reaches Ireland. He is secretly cared for by Isolde and they fall in love. Tristan returns to England rather than be discovered and killed by the King of Ireland.

 

Later the King of Ireland, in an attempt to trick the English, offers his daughter to the winner of a tournament. Tristan fights on behalf of Marke and wins the daughter for Marke. But is turns out that the daughter is Isolde and Tristan is caught between remaining loyal to his beloved King Marke, or being with the woman he loves. Much romance and medieval cunning ensues.

 

I believe this didn't do to well at the flicks. To be honest I can see why, but it is a good film and definitely a good watch on DVD if you like that kind of thing. It's got a really strong cast; Franco is beautiful and does a decent English accent, David O'Hara plays the Irish King, Spphia Myles is Isolde, Mark Strong is the betrayer, and Sewell makes a compassionate and strong leader. It's actually the Franco/Sewell relationship you believe in more so than the Franco/Myles one.

 

Recommended when you want some medieval lovers torn asunder. Romeo and Juliet without the glamour.

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Romeo and Juliet without the glamour.

Mmmm, when they were showing the trails last year I noticed that's pretty much how they were trying to sell it - R&J in armour (and after their phone-in scandal, who could blame them...?! Boom, boom.)

 

I'm afraid once it was clear they didn't think it could prosper under its own steam but had to be shackled to other successful films (and yes, they were thinking films, not Shakespeare) I lost interest. I love the Arthurian cycles and didn't fancy seeing this story gutted.

 

I suppose when it comes on the box of its own accord I might give it a go.

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I love the Arthurian cycles and didn't fancy seeing this story gutted.

 

Is that where it is taken from? I know nothing about the Arthurian legends. Short of the names Camelot, Knights of the Round Table, Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot and Guinvere (sp?). I suppose it helped watching the film that I knew nothing about them.

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Is that where it is taken from?

Well, originally originally it came from a French poem, but Thomas Malory in his definitive Arthurian legends wove it into the fabric of that story. He did a lot of that - the whole Grail quest (beloved of the Pythons, of course) was originally devised in France. "The Book of Sir Tristram De Lyones' became the biggest section of his cycle, although it includes many other stories along the way. Lancelot's a Frenchie, too!

 

The story has loads of variants: Tristram and Isolde, Tristan and Iseult, Tristan and Yseult, etc.! The most famous is Wagner's opera, Tristan und Isolde, the entirety of which I did sit through once at the ENO. It was an experience!

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Thanks for that David. Had a look at the Malory book on Amazon and have added it to wishlist. Maybe I'll be the next big Arthurian fan!

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Had a look at the Malory book on Amazon and have added it to wishlist.

Careful which one you get - it depends what you want. The original uses spellings and dialect that can be a bit tricky (I had to be able to 'translate' sections for my degree!), although once you get in the swing I think it's very readable. Also, the full version is her-uge! So, you either want it straight or modernised and abridged! Up to you, but check which version you've opted for!

Maybe I'll be the next big Arthurian fan!

Hope so! I think they're fantastic, and all the more resonant when you consider Malory wrote them while imprisoned during the Wars of the Roses - Arthur serving as a trope for the perfect united kingdom that England certainly wasn't at the time.

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I have gone for this edition -

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0192824201/ref=wl_it_dp/026-6742235-9543618?ie=UTF8&coliid=I14SC17P5N0GUN&colid=2BMY93J7SURXL

 

Looks abridged and fairly modern translation. Plus I like to collect Oxford World Classics! It looks really interesting. Up here in Scotland, King Arthur was never really a priority at school or in any moments of cultural recreation. But I am fully intrigued now.

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Looks abridged and fairly modern translation.

The sample page looks good - modernised without losing the 'feel' and with some user-friendly notes on the text at the bottom. The Oxford World Classics are certainly pretty reliable!

Up here in Scotland, King Arthur was never really a priority at school or in any moments of cultural recreation.

You know I'd never really thought about it but I suppose that's going to be true! As I said, reassure yourself that the stories are as much French as English and have a mythic resonance that extends well beyond national concerns.

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I did a version of this when I studied German: Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg. (I had to get that off the shelf to be sure!) It was meant to be in Middle High German, which is like Old English but, well, German. Not a great bedtime read. But there wasn't a version in print, so they let us read it in English - ie a translation of the one we were meant to read, not another version.

It was this one:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tristan-Penguin-Classics-Gottfried-Strassburg/dp/0140440984/ref=sr_1_1/203-7183838-0398312?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173465507&sr=1-1

I actually enjoyed it, and found it very funny in places. I remember a very drily comic part involving a bath. I even read it again for fun after my degree. I couldn't say that for some of the stuff I did. I've dug it out again and may even re-re-read it!

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Watched 'Crash' and thought it very average. I'm surprised it got an Oscar for best film in 2006. There were a lot of stereotypes: bad cops becoming good cops, and vice versa: typical Hollywood tidying up at the end. And that Sandra Bullock role (rich, white and disgruntled) called for no acting ability whatsoever.

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This week just gone I went to the cinema to see Hot Fuzz. It was quite amusing but not hilarious - the general idea that action films are nothing like real life went out the window at the end and it became a parody. Also, like many action films it should have stopped at what you thought was the ending rather than adding on the extra bit..

 

Also watched Lemming on DVD. This is a bonkers French film by Dominik Moll, who also did Harry, He's here to help. It included lemmings, flying webcams, suicide and possession... but I found it really sinister and gripping.

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The question, of course, is where New Zealand cinema could go after the triumph of Lord of the Rings. Tough act to follow, obviously. Here's a trailer for the answer - the Kiwis playing to their strengths.

 

Black Sheep

 

Classic!

 

(Sorry, Adrian!)

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On a rare night out to the flicks, me and hubby saw 300 last night. Despite all the dodgy reviews of it, I have to say that it was fantastic. Like Sin City, it is taken from the graphic novel by Frank Miller, covering the battle of Thermopolyae (probably spelled wrongly) and the 300 Spartans that went up against millions of Persians. The film is shot very much in the style of Sin City sticking very close to the graphic novel artwork. It makes for a sort of hybrid comic book/film. But it works so well.

 

Most of the actors are relatively unknown. Zack Snyder the director, said on Five News yesterday that this was because he didnt want to recreate another Gladiator or Troy, with such and such a famous actor playing a role - he wanted to recreate the novel and only the novel. And thank heaven for that because the viewers can immerse themselves fully in the film without considering the people as actors. Although Leonides has a broad Scots accent which does seem to transmit his ferocity and power surprisingly well.

 

The battle scenes are just immense and such an assault on your eyes. I could have watched them alone for the 2 hours. Xerxes, the leader of the Persians, at first appears a little too surreal - like Grace Jones really. But you soon get used to this narcissistic, vain, God-assuming monster and the sum of his parts suddenly seem to fit rather than appear to odd and over the top.

 

Oonly one point in the film was I cringing and thankfully that's at the beginning so didn't intrude too much. Leonides goes to ask the Oracle fr permission to fight the Perisans and the Oracle when summoned turn out to be a teenage nymphette who writhes about for a while showing her extremely unnatural nipples. But this is from a comic, and the majority of the readership of comic books are youngish males who need a bit of nipple in a book. Once that passed it was a fantastic ride into battle with the courageous, if a little bloodthirsty Spartans.

 

And for the girls, (should 'normal' girls like this film) - the sprayed on six-packs and granite thighs more than make up for the nippled nymphette.

 

A resounding 10/10. I will be racing to Borders today to grab the book.

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This certainly looked interesting to me. I loved Sin City - a quite extraordinary film that truly deserves to be called unique. The visuals were astounding and from what I've seen 300 promises to be equally arresting. You can check out some links provided by SFX online to clips from the film here (don't worry: nipple-free zone).**

 

I assume this is the sort of film that really is a great deal better on the big screen, so I probably ought to get along to the cinema rather than wait for the DVD.

 

**Youngish Male Version - (Apologies: nipple-free zone)

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I assume this is the sort of film that really is a great deal better on the big screen, so I probably ought to get along to the cinema rather than wait for the DVD.

 

 

Definitely David - that's why we chose 300 over Hot Fuzz. And ignore all the bad reviews - there is a little film snobbery going on I suspect. It's a brilliant transfer from comic to screen. If you liked Sin City the you will love this just as much.

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Being an impatient sort, I watched the final episode in season 3 for Battlestar Galactica last night, courtesy bit torrent. I wont mention anything that happens other than to say those of you following it on Sky are in for a treat when they catch up! The second half of s3 loses its way a bit I feel but the penultimate episode gets it firmly back on track and the series finale almost makes me want to say WOW! Jaw dropping stuff.

 

Roll on 2008 and s4!

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Roll on 2008 and s4!

You might be interested in this then, Mark.

 

I'm having to wait for Sky repeats, not having jumped on board in time for the latest season, so roll on that... (and repeats of Lost!)

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I'm afraid I have to disagree with Hazel here ( :sorry: ) but went to see 300 yesterday - it is awful! If you like films that are so bad its funny then go for it! Some of the bad points are so bad they're worth mentioning... basically, a bunch of oiled up muscly men run around in leather speedos slaughtering each other to a soundtrack of cheesy rock. It wasn't historically accurate but at the same time it didn't really 'get' the mythical angle, a bit like Troy so its just a load of people killing each other for 2 hours... Extremely camp. Lots of giggles in the cinema. Some very cheesy and bizarre lines - my favourites were(borrowing from IMDB):

[Dilios is putting a patch over his eye]

Spartan King Leonidas: Dilios, I trust that "scratch" hasn't made you useless.

Dilios: Hardly, my lord, it's just an eye. The gods saw fit to grace me with a spare.

Stelios: They look thirsty!

Spartan King Leonidas: Well let's give them something to drink! To the cliffs!

We rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny

Those pesky mystics?!?

 

I've seen Hot Fuzz too, it is probably one of those films you can appreciate pretty well on the small screen. I found it very funny, laugh out loud funny, but not as all-round satisfying as Shaun of the Dead.

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Went to see 'The Cherry Orchard' at the Crucible yesterday, a bit apprehensive having had comatose experiences with Chekhov in the past and with Jonathan Miller directing. Glad to report that my eyelids didn't droop once, and that the production brought out some of the comedy in this comedy of manners!! Hallelujah! (Joanna Lumley in the lead.)

 

(Please excuse the exclamation marks!)

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Don't worry Cathy - more of the Spartan men for me!

 

I have seen two foreign language films recently, with subtitles of course.

 

The first was the Dutch film, The Vanishing, an adaptation of Tim Krabbe's wonderful novella of the same name. Rex and Saskia start out on a driving holiday and pull over at a petrol station. Saskia goes off to buy drinks etc. and promptly disappears. In the film, Rex spends the next 3 years being haunted by her disappearance and actively seeks knowledge of her whereabouts. At this time, the man who abducted her sends notes to Rex. Each of the men become fascinated by the other - the abductor of Rex's devotion and determination, and Rex of the abductor's playing with him and knowledge of Saskia's fate.

 

Eventually the men meet and Rex's obsession to find out the fate of his beloved Saskia leads him to a horrible conclusion.

 

The film is pretty good - not stylish or showy in anyway. The actors are all very competent and especially the abductor who really is quite creepy. The music over the film is awful but ignorable. Doesn't live up to the book but then films rarely ever do.

 

The second film is the French film Satan (or Sheitan). Vincent Cassel brilliantly plays the character that we are meant to think of as Satan. I love Cassel - he truly lights up a screen like no other.

 

The film follows a group of teenagers who looking for a good time, meet a girl in a club and are invted back to her country pile to party. On route they meet the housekeeper Joseph (Cassel) who is bizarre in the extreme. Over dinner he tells the story of a man who sold his soul to the devil and was promptly compelled to sleep with his sister and pro-create.

 

Around the country pile is a isolated village which is inhabited by some very odd looking people - people that look a little like Joseph and slighty (often more than slightly) the result of inbreeding. Anyway, by this point the audience gets the picture and the teenagers don't. Strangeness, creepiness, violence, and perversion ensues till the denouement when one of the teenagers, to whom Joseph took a shine to, meets with an icky conclusion.

 

That all said, it is a pretty good, contained horror film. Cassel is just brilliant and pulls off a demented but a little stupid version of Satan, rather than an all powerful mastery. I felt just as bemused as the teenagers by the events. A truly bizarre film.

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They both sound interesting, Hazel. The last foreign film I rented was Lukas Moodysson's Together a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, though, something went awry in the framing of the film and the second line of subtitles was sheared in half. No matter what I did with my telly's aspect ratio I couldn't put it right and although you could just about work out what the top-half letters read it was a bit of an effort and ultimately too annoying to continue with the film, so after about twenty minutes I gave up. Shame because it was quite unusual and distinctive, about a Swedish commune of middle-class hippies where a woman and her two children come to stay (her brother lives there) after leaving her abusive husband. It was turning into an enjoyable satire just as I decided it wasn't very enjoyable trying to decode the cryptographic subtitles!

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I went to see 300 yesterday. Thought it was really good. I wasn't bothered that it wasn't completely historically accurate. I think the essence was there. The look was fabulous, giving the appearance of a moving graphic novel at times. I'm normally a bit squeamish, but all the blood letting was so CGI it didn't seem real - more balletic. The only negative feeling I came away with was the anti-muslim sentiment. I know it's supposed to be historical, but it doesn't miss the opportunity to push the war on terror message with the western values triumphing over mysticism. Even though the Spartans were the most brutal and ruthless race in Greece.

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