Don't be put off by my title: there is nothing sinister here chaps!! Indeed, with my general 'bloggings' I shall attempt to delight and astound you out of the mundaneness of a middle class suburban life, into the magical world of the Sophster!! Mystical...

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Sophie's Film Choice #16: WONDER WOMAN

To set the scene for this post: I'm currently on an East Midlands train, with a Caffe Nero iced coffee, rinsing the free Wi Fi by streaming Spotify and tapping away on my macbook air. I'm practically the millennial version of J K Rowling.

Now I've got that out of my system: to business. Last night I saw Wonder Woman. And now I want to BE her. So to stop myself from crying inside, I'll just have to write about the film instead.

Having been officially bummed out by most films in the DC universe that I have seen (the Batman franchise mainly), I had heard much happier things about Wonder Woman - including a lovely, candid interview with Gal Gadot on the Kermode and Mayo film review - and took a stab in the dark that this would sufficiently fulfil my 'Friyay' vibe. Me and my lovely work colleague hotfooted down to Leicester Square (from our conveniently placed Covent Garden office), grabbed a cheeky Burger King and took our seats for two and half hours of escapist, super hero fun. 
"Don't. Stop. Me. NOW!"

Having purposely steered away from the trailers (because of course all the best parts are in them, amirite?!) I found Wonder Woman totally refreshing. I've seen a lot of coverage on the feminist strengths/weaknesses of the film, so I'm just going to take it as I found it with some things that left an impression on me: 

Gal Gadot gives such a lovely, powerful yet vulnerable portrayal of Diana (aka Wonder Woman, although no one calls her this yet) that she immediately wins you over. As an origin story, we witness Diana as she is brought up by the Amazons (inc. Claire Underwood with a... Greek? Turkish? accent) to hold the only the highest ideals and become a stunningly fierce warrior. When catapulted into the human world during the First World War by Steve Trevors (Chris Pine), she puts the rest of the characters to shame in her genuine belief that humans are wholly good. Plus her hair in the slo mo scenes is so swishy. 

The culture shocks work in many ways: from a Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones style opening which reveals the golden and luscious Themyscira, to the grey, polluted scenes of London, to the eeriness of the Western Front, there is ample opportunity for both comedy and reflection. Diana's reactions to early 20th century human customs, including trying on wartime ladies' fashion ('How can a woman possibly fight in this?') are contagiously charming, helped along by Lucy Davis' comically matter-of-fact performance as Steve Trevor's receptionist. When Diana doesn't understand why the men won't risk going over the top into No Man's Land to save innocent lives, the results are uplifting and quite beautiful. 

"The pool did NOT look like that on the Thomson website"

It doesn't go over board on super hero references. There are deliberate nods to Batman to frame the film, as well as a cheeky ribbing of Clark Kent's 'undercover glasses' look in the clothing shop, but the film concentrates on the story at hand. In fact, I would describe it as more of a war film with a super hero protagonist than vice versa. (There is a battle scene towards the end that is very reminiscent of X Men, but we'll forgive that as we are in a WHOLE other universe). 

The chemistry between Diana and Steve definitely works (even if laid on a little thick at times due to some obvious one liners, overly lingering close ups and one perfectly timed snowfall). Both characters are driven by the need to protect others, yet self assured and confident of their own abilities - i.e. actually likeable. People have criticised the relationship as profoundly un-feminist: Diana is too naive or innocent and Steve acts as a teacher figure, but to me this is completely misread. The humour and joy in their chemistry grows from the very difference between this assumption and reality.

Eg: 

Assumption: Diana is from a land of no men. She clearly doesn't know what sex is. 

Reality: She is more well read about reproduction and the 'pleasures of flesh' that probably any man alive. 

Assumption: Diana is a woman and therefore needs protecting. 

Reality: Let's all hide behind her because we will literally die immediately in this war unless she's fighting like a demon.

"Moaning... Myrtle?"
I could go on and on but I'll wrap up with some final thoughts/highlights: 

1) The 'Golden Lasso of Truth' is epic and I want one.
2) Could Chris Pine be the next generation of Leo Di Caprio? Will keep track.
3) Little girls have some great new role models this last year (there were some definite echoes of Disney's Moana in the film's themes).
4) Could have done with a little less CGI / electric guitars. Let's not get into Twilight territory now.
5) If Indiana Jones tells us anything, chuck in a few evil Germans and you're on to a winner. 

All in all, great Friday fun which makes you want to run through the streets in an armoured dress, baring your wrists at things and feeling like a boss. Big thumbs up! 

Til next time gang,
 Super Soph™

PS. Now stopping as it turns out I get travel sick when writing on trains. This is clearly why I don't have a multi-million dollar book series. 


Monday, 17 April 2017

Sophie's Choice: Reborn (again): inc. LOGAN review!

Oh HELLO strangers!!

"Where the bloody hell have you been?" you may ask. Alright, no need to get antsy. Jeez. OK BACK OFF, PUT DOWN THE PEPPER SPRAY. 

Ok, now you've calmed down - I am indeed BACK. With a vengeance. I'm basically the Terminator of film bloggers. Except I drink tea instead of killing people, obvs.

If there is indeed anyone there, be prepared for some witty - if slightly rusty at first - film analysis entering its way back into your life! 

Previously, on Sophie's Choice... 

I had left you with a review of Spider-man 2 (back in 2014!!), having just been to the world premiere - where I also spotted Eddie Redmayne. Because - fun fact alert - he's bezzies with Andrew Garfield:

First day of dinner lady pirate school... knackered. 
Flash forward to 2017, and things just got a whole lot classier.

I am no longer an 'everyman.' A cinema that doesn't boast sofas, tables with little tea lights on them, a fully stocked bar and 1920s architecture is DEAD to me. (Unless I'm desperate, in which case an Odeon will suffice *grits teeth*). That's right - I'm in my MID 20s now.

This would make a great spinning teacups ride!
The only sacrifice to living this high life is that you have to wait just a teeny weeny bit longer to see new releases (so best to wear ear plugs constantly lest spoilers are revealed). Anyway, without further ado, here is the first of my much classier, more refined reviews - this time it's...

LOGAN (warning: don't eat jam doughnuts while you watch this)

This is a difficult film to start with after a long break - because I actually loved it. My favourite pastime of picking out and ridiculing every flaw is somewhat limited.

As we walked into our local swanky cinema,  Johnny Cash's 'God's Gonna Cut You Down' was playing as we found our seats, setting the tone for the film perfectly. 'Logan' picks up the character of... well, Logan (a.k.a. Wolverine), in the not-too-distant future (2029). He's even more grumpy. He's drinking a LOT of whiskey. He's suddenly allowed to swear all the time because it's a 15 certificate film. And he's one cab driver you DON'T want to get on the wrong side of.

'I told you not to eat my Creme Egg'
This isn't what I'd call a superhero film (which is great, because I don't have a lot of time for most of them). It's much closer to a modern Western: Logan is the lone ranger trying to keep his head down in a society that no longer tolerates or even acknowledges that mutants exist. Seen as an extinct race, only he, Professor Xavier and Caliban (a vampiric looking Stephen Merchant) seem to still be hanging on, if weakly.

In a dry, desolate landscape, it looks like we're just going to watch our favourite characters slowly fade away. Until a crazy Latino lady shows up and a highly dangerous, highly emotional journey begins (funny when that happens). When our central wolfy friend is charged with getting a mini mutant outlaw across the border to Canada (I won't explain why), the Western tradition develops into the classic trope of the hunter and the hunted.

The Hangover 3: spanning generations
Without taking too long (as I wasted valuable reading time in my over-indulgent introduction) this film is extremely well paced, tense in all the right places, emotionally charged and strangely moving. I was transfixed for the entire running time - which is more than can be said for Thor 2, in which I fell asleep about 30 minutes in. Awks.

Some of my favourite parts:

1) Charles Xavier's ground shuddering mental seizure in the Oklahoma City Hotel
2) The first time you see Laura getting all 'Stranger Things' on the bad guys
3) The double Wolverine face-off. EPIC.

I wasn't the only one with my hand over my mouth in pretty much every other scene (there were a LOT of metal claws going through people's heads... in a very realistic way) but this also highlighted something about the X-men characters which makes them much more vulnerable than heroes in other Marvel films: to quote Lady Gaga: they were just BORN that way. Mutant genes are a natural deformity as much as a super power, which makes the characters feel much more the victim than your average, run-of-the-mill Spider-man (sorry Andrew. And Eddie).

All in all, I thoroughly recommend Logan if you haven't already seen it - but be prepared for much more blood and cursory than the previous films in the franchise.

Now to reward myself for the first blog back with a tea and a Malteaster Bunny. Winning at life.