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This weekend I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and, despite really wanting to enjoy it, I’m afraid I found it less than legendary. In fact, I didn’t even make it through the second part.

I don’t want to upset any big Legends fans, so I’m at pains to point out that this is only my opinion, and I’d advise anyone to watch the show for themselves before they make their mind up about it one way or another.

I’m a big fan of Marvel movies, but for some reason I’m generally altogether more lukewarm on DC’s cinematic offerings, I find them all a little bit too sincere and serious, especially when you compare them to Marvel movies, which I find to be smarter, wittier and more fun. Having said that, I am intrigued by the new Suicide Squad movie, and I may check that one out. Batman v Superman is not on my radar at all – practically nobody cares about Superman and, let’s face it, Batman is a bit of a douche.

But even with my love for Marvel movies, I’ve found the TV shows way more hit and miss. I desperately wanted to like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, but only struggled through four episodes before giving up on it, because I found it about as easy and enjoyable as trying to run through a swimming pool full of treacle while carrying a lead weight. On the other hand, as far as I’m concerned, Agent Carter can do no wrong. It’s a great, fun, stylish show, and Peggy Carter is a goddess.

When it comes to DC’s TV roster, from the clips I saw I never fancied The Flash or Arrow, but I gave Supergirl a go, and really enjoyed it. I gave Gotham a try, but really didn’t like that. It was an odd mix of gritty and serious, versus really campy comic book, which didn’t work for me.

I’ll be perfectly honest, my main, very shallow motivation for giving Legends of Tomorrow a go, is this right here.

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I was a big fan of Arthur Darvill in Doctor Who, especially after the break between series 6 and 7 when he suddenly got really, blisteringly hot. I also liked him in Broadchurch, where I think the character he played was called The Very Handsome Vicar. You get the picture, I think Arthur Darvill is an attractive man.

I’m not 100% shallow, the trailer for Legends did also look good, and I went into it quite hopeful that it was going to be a fun, action-packed time travel romp, but it seems like Arthur Darvill is the only thing in this show that is worth watching, and even he is not enough to keep me struggling through it.

The thing that struck me as very strange to start with was the scene where Rip Hunter, in his long flappy coat which has a distinct whiff of David Tennant about it, went before the Time Master Council to ask their permission to pursue Vandal Savage. Everything about this scene was so reminiscent of the Time Lord High Council in Doctor Who that it made my head spin. As much as I like Arthur Darvill, it seems like such a weird decision to me to make something so thematically similar to Doctor Who, then to compound the issue by casting someone in it who is arguably most well-known for being in Doctor Who.

I’m afraid I found almost all the characters really flat and two-dimensional. I was not a huge fan of Hawkman and Hawkgirl right from the start. Their costumes look quite good, but I found their acting a bit clunky, and there is zero chemistry between them. White Canary and Firestorm also left me a bit cold, I struggled to care about anything they were doing.

By far my main complaint with the pilot episode though, was Wentworth Miller.

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DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — “Pilot, Part 1” — Image LGN101d_0158b — Pictured (L-R): Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heat Wave — Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

What. Is. He. Doing.

Please, someone explain to me what it is that he’s going for in this show.

All the other actors are playing it pretty straight, so the overall effect is quite realistic in terms of characters and their interaction. There’s no Joker or Penguin-style mugging with the rest of the cast, even the villain is not particularly over the top. But then Wentworth Miller comes out and starts chewing the scenery with such a ferocity that you wonder how there’s any set left. It’s embarrassing to watch, it was genuinely making my toes curl every time he was on the screen. He cannot act. At all. Not even a little bit. Who told him to ham it up to that extent? He certainly seems to come from the Andrew Scott school of “acting”, and I use the term very loosely (don’t get me started on Andrew Scott’s apparent decision to take Graham Norton as the inspiration for his portrayal of Moriarty. Just don’t.). Watching Wentworth Miller over-enunciate his way through his lines was like watching some awful amateur dramatic production in a village hall somewhere. In the end, most of my decision to turn the second part of the pilot off was because of Wentworth Miller. I’d never seen him in anything before, and I’d quite happily never watch him in anything ever again. He is not allowed on my TV any more.

I really, really wanted to like Legends of Tomorrow, but it fell so far short of what I was expecting. I think I’ll stick with Agent Carter and Supergirl, the ladies seem to have got the TV gig under way more control than the guys do.

 

 

 

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As I wrote in my last post, I saw 105 new movies this year. Even though they weren’t all new releases, it seems like a fitting way to end my movie mission by looking back at the movies which were released this year.

Let’s get the negativity out of the way first by discussing some of my least favourites. I saw Into the Woods because I love a bit of Chris Pine, plus my movie buddy, Ellie, wanted to see it. Musicals leave me cold at the best of times anyway, so I wasn’t really expecting much. The song Agony is pure cinematic gold, but I could honestly have done without the rest of it, especially the dreaded James Corden. Victor Frankenstein was silly and entertaining enough, but not exactly a hard-hitter. It also contained the spittiest performance by an actor in cinematic history, thanks to James McAvoy and his saliva, and its only saving grace was the fact that I suspect this movie spawned more slash fiction than I could possibly imagine. The biggest disappointment, however, would have to be Fantastic 4. I love Marvel movies, and I love Miles Teller, I’d watch him in anything, but this movie was more terrible than even the worst reviews could describe.

Now on to happier thoughts: my top 15, in reverse order. The order might possibly shuffle slightly depending on my mood, but it’s roughly right. I’ll try to be as spoiler-free as possible, but read on carefully if you’ve yet to see these movies. Also, I apologise in advance for my shallow fan-girling.

15. The Theory of Everything

A little bit sentimental, but it was lifted by Eddie Redmayne’s stunning Oscar-winning performance. I predictably cried at this one.

14. Jurassic World

This wasn’t ground-breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it was exactly what I was expecting. It was a dumb action movie about dinosaurs, and a lot of people got eaten. Props to Bryce Dallas Howard for running around in those heels, even if her character was a bit of a pathetic damsel in distress at times. Chris Pratt looked glorious.

13. Everest

I enjoyed this movie way more than I expected to, despite coming out of the cinema with a major case of what me and Ellie call ‘stressface’. It’s just a catalogue of people making terrible decision after terrible decision, but it’s set against a stunning visual backdrop and it’s a compelling watch. The inspiration for the movie makes an interesting read too. Bonus points awarded for Jake Gyllenhaal’s face.

12. Steve Jobs

This movie was another one which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I loved the way it was filmed in three distinct parts, and the cast was excellent, including Seth Rogen, who I usually detest. Michael Fassbender is a gift to the human race.

11. Star Wars: the Force Awakens

Some people will be aghast that this is so far down my list. I suffered greatly from seeing this movie about five days after it came out, and after having listened to everyone who saw it before me raving about how mind-blowing it was…and it just wasn’t. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but I was expecting much more than great after hearing people wax so lyrical about it. I feel like I need to watch it again now my expectations have been reset to a more realistic level. Having said that, there’s so much to love about this movie – Poe Dameron, awesome female characters, Poe Dameron, a multi-cultural cast, Harrison Ford (who is still a total babe), and Poe Dameron. Wait, did I mention Poe Dameron already? I’ve been a fan of Oscar Isaac since I saw him in Inside Llewyn Davies and I’ve sought out as many of his movies as I could since then, but I was not physically ready to see him swashbuckling all over the big screen in a pilot’s suit. He’s ruined my life and my expectations of men forever.

10. S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

I love Bond, so I was very excited to see the latest installment. I loved the helicopter stunt from the beginning of the movie, and aside from a slightly disappointing final climax with a pretty weak dastardly plot from Christoph Waltz’s villain, plus a rather improbable romance with the Bond girl, Lea Seydoux (it felt like she fell in love with him after approximately 13 seconds), this was exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Daniel Craig Bonds. They’re darker and more serious than previous Bond eras used to be, but that’s no bad thing.

9. Ex Machina

It’s Oscar Isaac again. Seriously, I would watch this guy paint a wall for two hours. He’s spellbinding as a sociopathic genius in this uber disturbing movie about AI, which contains the creepiest dancing scene I have ever seen in my life. I watched it on a plane and I really hope the other passengers clocked my uncomfortable/horrified face when it got to that scene. But still, Oscar Isaac’s got some pretty sweet moves.

8. Birdman

I loved this movie, despite it being a little bit pretentious at times. It was smart, funny and it felt really fresh and different. It also feels like an awfully long time ago, so I’m sketchy on the details.

7. Whiplash

Miles Teller is awesome as budding jazz drummer being terrorised by JK Simmons, who is absolutely terrifying. This one’s particularly memorable for me as there is a sequence in the middle of the movie which is almost identical to the recurring anxiety dream I have, so that was fun.

6. Legend

Two Tom Hardys cannot ever be a bad thing in my book, even though at first I was slightly worried at the prospect of him playing twins. It had a certain daytime soap cheesiness to it, which made me a little wary. I needn’t have worried, as I quickly forgot that Ronnie and Reggie Kray were being played by the same person. It was a lot funnier than I was expecting, and I cannot big up Tom Hardy enough.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

More Tom Hardy! This movie was utterly bonkers and inexplicable and ridiculous, and I loved it. The choice to use physical stunts over CGI made it extremely fun to watch, and the fact that the strong female characters upset a few meninists made it even better.

4. Big Hero 6

I unashamedly loved this, and I thought it was far superior to Inside Out, which I think was another film which suffered from being hyped up way too much. It’s adorable, funny and cute, and I desperately want a Baymax of my own. Another one which made me cry.

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron

I love Marvel movies, and I love the Avengers more than any other franchise. Captain America is one of my many fictional husbands, and the scene where Chris Evans pulls a log apart with his bare hands is one of the most masculine things I have ever witnessed, and was worth the admission fee on its own. While this movie wasn’t as good as the first Avengers movie for a number of reasons (no Tom Hiddleston, for one thing), it was still a fun, action-packed super hero romp, and I was fully on board from start to finish, despite seeing it at a triple bill midnight screening and being so tired by the end of it that I was possibly hallucinating. It’s set the scene well for the next batch of Marvel movies, which I am tragically excited about.

2. Ant-Man

I wasn’t all that bothered about the prospect of an Ant-Man movie before I actually saw this, but I loved it, and I definitely think it was better than Age of Ultron. Michael Pena almost stole the show from Paul Rudd, who was funny and likeable; the script was smart and witty, and the post-credit scene caused much excited arm flapping from me and Ellie.

1. The Martian

When it comes to recent space movies, people seem to either love Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian. I found Gravity quite dull, and I’ve never seen Interstellar because every time I go to watch it I catch sight of the running time and then chicken out. I fall squarely into The Martian camp, I loved it. Matt Damon is plucky and hilarious as Mark Watney, Michael Pena is adorable yet again, and Sebastian Stan is just so attractive I would be happy for him and his excellent face to be in every film ever made. Predictably, I cried.

So, that’s my top 15. If you’re still reading my inane ramblings, thank you very much!  You’ve got reading stamina. Now go and do something more useful with your time.

I’ll see you in our usual seats at Shrewsbury Cineworld in 2016…

 

 


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At the beginning of the year, I set myself a mission to watch 46 classic movies which I’d never seen. I rapidly abandoned it, realising that I was going to find it way too tedious. It seems that just because a movie is seen as a classic is no guarantee I’m going to enjoy it.

Instead, I ended up with a new mission. I spend quite a lot of money on movies, having both an Amazon subscription, plus an Unlimited Cineworld card, which, by the way, is one of the best decisions I ever made. I wanted to make sure I was getting the most out of what I was spending, so I started to keep an online diary of all the new movies I watched on letterboxd. This turned from a monitoring exercise into a genuine pleasure, allowing me to look back on the movies I’d watched in a way which I found nerdily pleasing. I even went back and added the movies I’d seen last year, but I decided I didn’t have the stamina to go back any further than that.

By about October, it became apparent that hitting a century was beginning to look possible, so it became a bit of a challenge. I was determined to hit 100 new (to me) movies before the end of the year, so I set myself a pretty punishing schedule of around three new movies a week, which at times I found quite difficult to fit in, considering that I barely seem to be in the house these days.

But, I did it, plus a few extra. As it stands on the 30th December, I saw 105 movies for the first time this year, which seems like a tidy enough number to end the year on.

I’ve loved seeing all these new movies this year – meeting new characters, visiting new worlds, reading endles IMDB trivia pages, and of course strengthening my tragic crushes, plus developing a few new ones, on various actors and fictional characters. A cinema trip has become an almost weekly occurrence with my fellow movie nerd friend from the office (thanks, Ellie!) and I’m looking forward to getting on board the Oscar bandwagon in January as we try to tick off as many of the nominees as possible, we already have our first outing planned to see The Danish Girl on Monday. I can’t think of a better way to distract myself from my New Year diet than by escaping to the movies as often as possible.

So, the only question that remains is how many movies do I aim for in 2016?

A few thoughts on my favourite and not-so-favourite movies will follow…

 

 


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Despite being a grown-ass woman with a mortgage, I still love spending my money on pointless, nerdy things. I go around to my friends’ houses, and their homes look like they just picked them right out of the Dulux catalogue – they look like places where grown-ups live. My house is full of tat and action figures. But hey, it makes me happy to be surrounded by my treasures.

The current craze going around my office is Funko Pops. I’ve liked these cute little figures for ages and I always like to look at the Funko Pops for sale at conventions. I’d bought some as presents for people before, but I didn’t buy my first one until I watched Guardians of the Galaxy last summer and decided I had to own a Groot in some form or other. Then I happened to win one in a game of pass the parcel at a New Year’s Eve party (yes, that’s how I like to party), so that brought my collection up to two. I still wasn’t all that bothered about taking up collecting them though, as I don’t really collect any specific item, I just buy stuff I’m interested in as I find it. But I happened to find a tiny Marvel keychain Pop on holiday in Florida (little baby Thor), so I bought that too, bringing my collection up to three.

Last week, one of the girls in the office started looking into Pops and their value as collectibles, then she bought a couple, and it kicked off some sort of Pop fever in the office. I don’t know what it is about them that gives me the compulsion to own more. They’re all super cute, they’re nerdy, and you can buy Pops of almost every movie and TV character you can think of. One of the other girls in the office bought a Mary Poppins one, and I bought another two to add to my collection. This is my current line-up:

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They’re a little bit of a mishmash of all the different Funko Pops which are available. I love the Marvel movies, so Groot, Loki and Thor were must-haves. I won the He-Man one (and now must get She-Ra to go with him) and then I had to have Snow White because I’ve recently become obsessed with her, and I am dying to dress up as her for a convention at some point. I will be adding to my collection very soon, but I don’t know who I’ll be getting next.

Me and three of my colleagues have all signed up to popinabox.co.uk. It’s a subscription service that sends out Pops every month to its subscribers, even sending out some of the rarer and more expensive ones. You can choose how many you get, from one to six a month. I just went for one, as a nice little monthly treat for myself. I’ve had a totally rubbish couple of weeks, so this was exactly the sort of pick-up I felt like I needed. I don’t think I’m going to go too crazy over avidly collecting each series like some people do, I think I will just get the ones I like. Some people have gone crazy for these little suckers, the leaderboards on popinabox show the top collectors as owning over 1000 of them. Some of them re-sell for over £100 each, which blows my mind a little bit.

You ‘thumbs up’ all the Pops you would like to own, and ‘thumbs down’ the ones you are not interested in, then once a month they send you a cute little surprise in the post. I am a sucker for blind packaged things where you don’t know what you’re going to get until you open it, so this is the best of both worlds – I get a surprise, but I know it will be one of the ones I definitely want. And, who doesn’t love getting post? We are all SO EXCITED to receive our first Pops, the reaction yesterday when we all saw that our bank accounts had been debited was ridiculous, I don’t think anyone’s ever been so excited to see money leave their accounts before. My mum will not stop making fun of me for getting so excited over what is essentially a little dolly.

Now I have a couple of weeks to wait before my next little desk buddy arrives in the post. Please let it be Captain America, please let it be Captain America, please let it be Captain America…….

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This year I decided to try to fill a gap in my movie-watching by making a list of classic movies that I hadn’t seen and trying to work my way through them. I settled on the list by combining a Film 4 list, with the movies I hadn’t seen from IMDB’s top 50 at the time:

The Apartment
Citizen Kane
North by Northwest
Chinatown
All About Eve
Casablanca
2001: A Space Odyssey
Apocolypse Now
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Fanny and Alexander
Double Indemnity
The Usual Suspects
Touch of Evil
Three Colours Blue
The Ladykillers
The Ipcress File
Secrets and Lies
Scarface
This Sporting Life
Sexy Beast
The King of Comedy
Princess Mononoke
Pan’s Labryinth
Fight Club
Dr Strangelove
Dawn of the Dead
Cabaret
Brazil
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
A Night at the Opera
Mulholland Drive
Heavenly Creatures
Pink Flamingoes
Raising Arizona
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Angry Men
Interstellar
Seven Samurai
Once Upon a Time in the West
Life is Beautiful
American History X
Psycho
City Lights
Spirited Away
Rear Window
Modern Times
Sunset Blvd

So far, I’ve only managed to cross off two movies from this list. I watched Mulholland Drive last month, and I didn’t like it at all,  then last weekend I saw Raising Arizona. It was alright. There were some funny parts, and it was refreshing to see Nicolas Cage adopting a persona other than the strange generic action hero type character that he seems to favour these days, but if I was going to call any Cohen brothers movie a classic it would be The Big Lebowski.

I’m actually finding working through this list quite hard. Netflix UK (which I think is rubbish anyway) had the grand total of one of these movies available. Amazon Prime has about four, but none of them are very appealing to me, like Fanny and Alexander, which sounds incredibly depressing and very, very long. Every time I think about watching one of these movies I load up my watchlist then end up playing something else. Last weekend I set out to tick another one off and ended up watching, of all things, The Bling Ring instead, which is the movie equivalent of making a cup of tea and checking Facebook when you’re supposed to be doing the housework.

The trouble with these kinds of lists is that the same things just do not apply to all people. It’s like those Bucket Lists, or 40 Things to do Before You’re 40 – if you look at them, there are always things on there that just don’t interest you. Skydiving? No, thank you. Swimming with dolphins? Meh. I’d rather swim with manatees (which I did two years ago), or sleep in a windmill (still to be ticked off!).

So, I’m left thinking to myself, how many of these movies do I actually want to see, and how many of them do I just feel that I should see, solely because other people say they’re good? Sure, recommendations from other film fans do count towards how much I want to see a movie, but a lot of these just flat-out do not appeal to me. Am I any less of a movie fan because I’ve never seen Citizen Kane or Apocalypse Now? I’m starting to think the answer to that is no. I like movies, but I don’t like all movies. I’m not a big fan of rom coms, for example. Lord of the Rings appeals to me about as much as watching paint dry, and I don’t have a high tolerance for horror, but I still like movies. I really do detest that kind of snobbery that exists amongst certain fans, that says unless you’ve been exposed to X, Y and Z, you’re not really a “true” fan – yet here I am enforcing that kind of logic on myself.

There are some on the list that I definitely want to see, and there are probably other movies not on the list that I’ve been meaning to get around to watching for years. So I’m starting to think I need to make a new list. One that only features movies I actively want to see.

Anything to avoid having to sit through Fanny and Alexander…


Whenever I see one of those lists of ‘classic’ movies that everyone should see, I realise there’s quite a sizeable hole in my movie-watching, but even I was shocked by how few of Film 4’s 50 Films to See Before You Die I’d actually seen. Out of the 50, there were only 16 I’d seen. As a person who sees a lot of movies, this seemed like something I should rectify.

It’s mainly, but not exclusively, the older films I haven’t seen on these various must-see lists. I’m pretty good at crossing off recent releases, but going back and watching classics is something I don’t often have time to do. There are plenty of other movies that are considered classics that I haven’t seen either, so I decided to combine Film 4’s list with the movies I hadn’t seen from IMDB’s Top 50, leaving me with the grand total of 46 movies to try to watch. I doubt I’ll get to see them all – I suspect some of the Film 4 ones might be hard to find on TV or on Amazon streaming. I’m not going to put any sort of time limit on myself for this either, it might be a long-term mission.

So this is my list:

The Apartment
Citizen Kane
North by Northwest
Chinatown
All About Eve
Casablanca
2001: A Space Odyssey
Apocolypse Now
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Fanny and Alexander
Double Indemnity
The Usual Suspects
Touch of Evil
Three Colours Blue
The Ladykillers
The Ipcress File
Secrets and Lies
Scarface
This Sporting Life
Sexy Beast
The King of Comedy
Princess Mononoke
Pan’s Labryinth
Fight Club
Dr Strangelove
Dawn of the Dead
Cabaret
Brazil
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
A Night at the Opera
Mullholland Drive
Heavenly Creatures
Pink Flamingoes
Raising Arizona
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Angry Men
Interstellar
Seven Samurai
Once Upon a Time in the West
Life is Beautiful
American History X
Psycho
City Lights
Spirited Away
Rear Window
Modern Times
Sunset Blvd

I find it quite incredible that I haven’t seen Apocolypse Now, Psycho, The Usual Suspects (I started to watch it once, but got bored), or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It makes me feel quite ignorant as a keen movie fan!

I decided to start off by watching Mulholland Drive, as it was on my Amazon Prime for free. I love Twin Peaks, so I went into it with high hopes. It was quite watchable for the first half, but when it got to the part with Betty and the blue box (I don’t think that’s a spoiler), it ceased to make any kind of sense. I even rewound it because I thought I’d missed a bit, but no, it had just descended into utter nonsense. For a film that people rave about so much, it was very disappointing. In fact, I’m struggling to think of anything I liked about this movie, aside from maybe Rita’s costumes.

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Feeling a little bit dim, I googled Mulholland Drive, and one of the top links was “Mulholland Drive plot explanation”. I read a Guardian article about it where they asked six film critics to make sense of the plot. None of them came up with the same explanation, and all of them pretty much admitted that they didn’t really understand it. So I felt a little better about not really getting it. I’m not sure what the point is of a film where the plot is so impenetrable that six film critics couldn’t even make sense of it.

This is a problem I’ve found quite often with ‘classic’ or ‘must-see’ movies – they rarely live up to the hype. I’m going to persevere though, and try to cross off a few more from my list. Hopefully the next one I see will be a bit easier to understand than Mulholland Drive…