A Pint With Tolkien & Lewis!

Jack and John

 

A meeting of minds in eagle and child,

These giants of myth through smoke beer beguiled.

The stage by a hearth of fire and stone,

Unsteady of foot to journey unknown.

 

A poetic tongue and booming cries,

Jack’s tale of young heroes’ courage defies.

In a land of magic, danger and fear,

Faith unites kin to victory and cheer.

 

This voyage of words and intrigue reflect,

A man of great stature no critics reject.

Returning to earth, peers drunk on a treat,

John’s hand on his knees, pipe down, to his feet.

 

A lowered brow, a soft word spoke,

Through mountains great and ancient oak.

A fellowship born of heart, of soul,

An evil destroyed through fire and coal.

 

This triumph of will and hope placed on man,

A tale to inspire, transcending Rohan.

The guide retreats back, revered in this crowd,

A pint to behold, a critical shroud.

 

Warmed by the fire and warmed by the beer,

Jack turns to John for council and ear.

“Be content with your pen, the folk here are taken,

The words you present must not be forsaken”.

 

John looks to his friend, his rival in prose,

His thoughts turned to lions and witches – he rose!

“A critical eye is needed in myth,

Though, you, seem content with creaky and stiff”.

 

A pause between Inklings so prolifically great,

A relationship founded in literary fate.

The silence was broken with mirth and great joy,

As these legends of story embraced the ‘old boy’!

© CShaw

Nation d’animation!

I’ve just watched a beautiful French animated film A Cat in Paris (Une Vie De Chat). This 60 minute kid’s film follows the adventures of a charismatic moggy as he leads a very intriguing double life! By day he is the loyal cat of a young girl who has been traumatised into muted silence by the murder of her father & by night he is the partner in crime of a slippery gallic thief!

The animation, tone & style is similar in vain to the recent animated movies being produced in contemporary French studios - think The Illusionist, Eleanor’s Secret, The Secret of Kells - & although it may lack in substance when compared to the universally lauded Michel Ocelot films, I still feel A Cat in Paris will do very well on the festival circuit! In fact it has just been picked up for distribution in the US so don’t be surprised to see it in more territories in the near future!

A little gem!

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Review

It’s time to wipe a tear away from the eye as the doors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry close on the most successful film franchise in cinema history! No more jaunts through Diagon Alley or trips to the Leaky Cauldron for a refreshing tankard of butterbeer! No more exhilarating broomstick rides through London’s dominating skyline and how we will miss cheering on our heroes from towering stadia during a brutal game of Quidditch! But as the credits role & thousands of broken hearted Potter fans leave the theatres, it may well be the executives at Warner Brothers who are the prime candidates to be crying into their popcorn!

The final instalment sees us rejoin Harry & co as they search for the remaining horcruxes (the ubiquitous objects containing elements of Voldemort’s soul). The quest sees us return to the confines of Hogwarts via pit stops at Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Hogsmeade. We are introduced to a number of new characters along the way, most notable of all Aberforth Dumbledore, before we settle down to witness the final act – The Battle of Hogwarts!

The spectacular visual effects, the epic score & the stunning design will probably yield bags of gongs come awards season. The most impressive set piece sees a shackled dragon break his confines & climb the rocky walls of his prison before crashing through a glass ceiling - stunning stuff! The chemistry between the young principles is charming & genuine; though you can almost sense the awkward tension between Rupert Grint & Emma Watson before their long awaited snog! However the real triumph of the entire series has been the virtual who’s who of British character actors who have added a real gravitas to proceedings. Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Ralph Fiennes, John Hurt, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Ciaran Hinds – the list is endless. It’s the deliciously eccentric performances from these thespians that lingers in the mind long after the credits role!

This is what the UK film industry does best. This is what British storytellers do best. In the spirit of Charles Dickens & Roald Dahl the Potter films celebrate tradition, history, myth, legend, fable and glories in all the wonderful human idiosyncrasies. It’s a way of storytelling that Hollywood simply can’t match and is why Warner Brothers were prepared to let David Heyman produce the films without too much interference!

Potter fanatics may be disappointed that the final instalment does leave out a number of exciting episodes from the book and some characters are woefully under developed. The script at times is clunky and messy but you can argue that this laboured dialogue is essential! The first 15 minutes acts as a series recap as Harry, Ron & Hermione inexplicably begin to tell each other what they have just been doing & why they have been doing it. However irksome this is; the information is vital to any cinemagoer that has missed a previous instalment or is unfamiliar with the Potter universe.

The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a fitting end to Harry Potter’s ‘on screen’ story! It provides all the thrills and excitement you have come to expect from JK Rowling, and with David Yates (directing his fourth Potter) you have a director who is having fantastic fun with the source material.

The Harry Potter series has conjured up $6.4 billion over the last 10 years. It’s an understatement of monumental proportions to point out that this will leave returns at Warner Brothers a little lighter over the next few years! Although extra energies will be focused on upcoming projects such as The Dark Knight Rises; Dark Shadows; Clash of the Titans 2; Superman: Man of Steel and Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films – the loss of Potter will still be severe.  Not that Warner’s are quite ready to let go of Harry’s cloak tails! The marketing team will already be putting plans together for the DVD launch; the launch of the DVD series compilation, all the computer/video games and of course the many theme park ride spin offs! However I imagine it will probably not be enough to persuade executives to stop praying for Miss Rowling to dust off her quill in order to cast her spell over future generations of young muggles!

It’s Alive!

Today I had another boring conversation with someone who was complaining about the exhibition quality of archived 35mm film prints– saying they should all be discontinued & destroyed!

It amazes me how anyone can have such an obtuse outlook when it comes to cinema heritage!

OK some of the old, vintage prints are in bad shape! Many prints are discoloured, have numerous scratches and sound levels can drop in & out. However these films are working historical artefacts.

Cinemagoers when they buy tickets to a retrospective screening know what they are going to get! They understand that the visual quality (in comparison to DCP/Blu-Ray/Digibeta) will be inferior to current releases and in many circumstances they welcome it as it adds to the authenticity of the classic cinema experience (the audio crackles, visual jumps and scratches are applauded!).

35mm film is organic & alive! It deteriorates with age & we should be obliged to look after the rare prints before they are lost forever.

Sure it costs more to transport print and takes a little more time to make-up for projection. It’s awkward and can be temperamental and today’s young directors may dismiss it as outdated & regressive! But we should champion & celebrate celluloid while we can!

The digital revolution has arrived, it’s here to stay & it’s very much the future! As a result we have even more responsibility to look after the old format as it enters its latter years. Let’s give it the dignity it deserves & revel in the glorious exhibition of 24 frames per second!

3D or not 3D that is the question?

As someone who is forced to wear glasses to the cinema - this due to deteriorating eyesight – I’m still struggling with the 3D phenomenon!

Over the last number of years I’m still to experience a truly unique moment in any 3D movie – Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story 3, A Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland even the all conquering  (& vastly overrated) Avatar left me scratching my head! 

Maybe it’s because I have to wear glasses over my glasses, the fact that I’m constantly looking to see how ridiculous my fellow cinema-goers look, the dark filter that seems to gloss all films in this format or the game I play with myself to work out what bits of the film are in 3D and what sections are not (this tends to annoy anyone sitting next to me as I’m constantly taking the glasses on & off – think Eric Morecombe on steroids!).

Not that I’m completely against the concept! If a film is released that blows my socks off with 3D effects then fantastic, but I haven’t seen anything to convince as of yet.

The next big film to come under the 3D spell is the final instalment of Harry Potter! As a fellow bespectacled chap I wonder how Harry would manage wearing 3D glasses over his own circular trademarks! I personally think it would severely hinder him in his quest for horcruxes & ultimately in his final battle with ‘you know who’! An unthinkable scenario!

This cinema-goer is sticking with 2D for this one!

Hello & Welcome…

It was the JVC video recorder that really did it!

Before that it was all TV. Usually re-runs of American shows like Gentle Ben, Flipper, Lassie, The Beverly Hill Billies, Tarzan and The Munsters. But this latest ‘machine’ (as it was to become known in my house) was a shinny, space-aged phenomenon. It truly was a beautiful thing!

Within a few days everything had changed! My uncle had left us three cassettes to play (or test) on our new video recorder! Soon ‘Calamity Jane ‘, ‘Some Like it Hot’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ became the most watched films in the neighbourhood! It may seem strange that a 5-year-old boy and his friends could sit around a television set and watch Doris Day, Marylyn Monroe and Julie Andrews over and over again (all day long) but that’s exactly what we did! I have great memories of huddling round the TV to be hypnotised by the colourful, vivid sights of thigh slapping cowgirls, cross-dressing musicians and singing nuns!!!

My environment had changed too! On a Saturday afternoon we would now go to ‘Sounds Fantastic’! As someone who could always take or leave confectionary & all things sugary I can only describe going into this video establishment as like the proverbial ‘fatty’ going into a sweetie shop! Rows upon rows of shinny cassettes in strong, proud cases lined the walls. Comedy, Thriller, Drama, Horror all the movies collated into genre - it was organised perfection! Of course the most popular corner of the shop was the ‘Just In’ section where you could get all the latest titles. On the walls all my heroes towered over me – posters of secret agents, intrepid archaeologists, space explorers, villainous gangsters and busty heroines! The sweet smell coming from the limping popcorn machine mixed with the musty stench of the film nerd created a truly unique sensory experience – one that strangely doesn’t conjure feelings of revulsion but instead brings a very wide smile to my face & genuine warmth to my heart!

It’s funny the memories you retain from childhood! Often it’s the things that define you in later life! A footballer may remember the first time kicking a ball, a musician the first time hearing a specific piece of music or an actor’s first visit to the theatre. For me everything I remember revolves around movies! My first pilgrimage to Coleraine Playhouse to see ‘The Fox & The Hound’; or hiding under the cinema seats when first seeing E.T.’s long, knobbly fingers. Then there’s the joy when my brother rushed into the house with ‘Back To The Future’ minutes after plucking it from the shelves of the ‘just in’ section; the time when my dad fell asleep simultaneously as my eyes nearly popped out of my head when Charles Dance turned into a demon in ‘The Golden Child’ and of course the joy upon joy when I first read the immortal words ‘Along Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away’!

But the over-riding memory is the JVC video player! At times, to my parents, it was more like Pandora’s box as it often got in the way of homework, led to war amongst siblings and often dictated the evenings viewing schedule! However it also brought the family together; it made us laugh, cry and most importantly it generated discussion, debate & led to those precious moments that stay with you forever!

Cannonballs & Lucky Stars – is a blog about movies & stuff!