The absolute classic. See you tonight.
The absolute classic. See you tonight.
To build up for our rescheduled screening of Bohemian Rhapsody on July 3rd (and the Pot Luck Party beforehand !), here's a few samples of Queen songs used in movies. Strange how most of the best examples are either comedies, or have some humourous element. Today, Shaun Of the Dead. As the crew gather in The Winchester pub, sheltering from the zombie invasion, they are trying to stay as silent as possible, when...
We've watched multiple weather radars, hoping for good news BUT there is still a significant chance of rain between 9 and 10pm. Rather than inconveniencing you all we have decided to postpone. The good news is we have decided to reschedule for this Wednesday night, July 3rd, as you will hopefully all have the next day off!! Sorry to disappoint you all, we just want to keep you safe and dry! PLEASE LET US KNOW YOU HAVE ALL SEEN THIS!!
After the great turn-out for Green Book two weeks ago, we are expecting another big crowd on Saturday for the much-lauded Queen bio-pic. In the cinema, this movie was very successful and, of course, Rami Malek gained many accolades for his portrayal of the singularly exceptional Freddie Mercury. I still think that the bar is not set very high for real-life impersonations, and a distinctive set of prosthetic teeth will take you a long way there…
However having said that, the movie delivers on its promise of feel-goodness, perhaps the story is a little familiar but all the more enjoyable for that, and the performance scenes are very good.
Remember, the show must go on. Please join us for a bit of a sing-song on Saturday. We guarantee we will rock you !
Parents Guide at IMdB
Parent Reviews at Commonsensemedia.org
I will start by saying that of the four films we saw during my annual birthday ritual, I declared at the time that this was the best of the bunch. So despite the hype and fuss around Bohemian Rhapsody and Rami Malek’s impersonation of Freddie Mercury (which will be in my sights in later posts !), it was no surprise when Green Book took the Oscar for Best Movie.
When you look at the synopsis - gifted black musician takes white hoodlum as minder for tour of racist American South in the 50’s - it is very tempting to assume a very simple narrative is coming. Initial frostiness, growing respect, ultimate bonding, white guy physically defends black guy, etc. All very predictable. And whilst most of the boxes are indeed ticked in that template, this movie has SO much more than that, to the extent that it could be used as a primer in schools to discuss what exactly is the nature of racism, or even what constitutes ethnicity ?
And while Mahershala Ali scooped up most of the awards, Viggo Mortensen’s performance is also very strong (although I believe that his role should have been the supporting one, since the character of Don Shirley portrayed by Ali is, in my mind, no doubt the most important in the movie). And in our house we also love Linda Cardellini, who was excellent in this and in the recent Netflix series ‘Dead To Me’ which we binge-watched in two nights. Recommended too !
So join us for a thought-provoking exploration of the nature of race and prejudice on Saturday, and don’t forget your bucket of chicken wings !
As Saturday approaches, I actually have other pressing things on my mind (COME ON YOU SPURS !!) so luckily I prepared this little effort a week or so ago.
A word about the song, which you may not have heard before. Linda doesn't like the music at all - the word she used was 'hate' - but this has always been one of my favourites, and it's worth knowing a little about Robert Wyatt, if you didn't already.
Robert Wyatt was the original drummer and vocalist of the highly regarded English psychedelic rock band Soft Machine, and he 'enjoyed' the rock star life - too much as it happens, as in 1973 at a party he had a drunken fall from a fourth floor window and became paralysed from the waist down. His subsequent solo career has been characterised by jazz influences, esoteric song choices (he argued - and won - to appear on UK TV show 'Top of the Pops' in his wheelchair to perform his cover version of The Monkees 'I'm a Believer') and a leaning towards political and campaigning material. His version of Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding, a poignant anti-Falklands War elegy, is a perfect fit for his plaintive voice, and was a big hit in the UK.
There is, apparently, even a practice called 'Wyatting' described by Wikipedia as "...the practice of playing unusual tracks, in particular songs from Wyatt's album Dondestan, on a pub jukebox to annoy the other pub goers." - something which clearly delights the man himself.
Anyway, judge for yourself. Enjoy this, and hopefully we'll see you Saturday, or some other evening this summer.
It was too. Day Three, and we had both been very busy. I had replaced all the bent poles on the screen frame, got everything straight and level, and had spray painted all the tubes a rather fetching matt black. Linda had a great idea for a new projector platform for our revised screening arrangement (you will be pleased !), and she had found a free wooden stepladder as the basis, which we had picked up that morning. I had designed a new structure for the black framing around the screen itself, and had just built the first element with which I was rather pleased. In my head I was even planning this blog post, which would be about the rejuvenation of our cinematic set-up, and Linda was taking pictures for me.
I do want to say a bit of a general thank you to everyone who has ever dropped a dollar or two in our contribution jar on a Saturday night. It may not be obvious during the season, but we use this money and the little bit of profit we make from the cinema candy we sell to fund our new season upgrades. This year I did not anticipate replacing the screen, but a combination of inadequate winterizing and clumsy lawn service dudes necessitated it. So consider yourself thanked - we’re always grateful.
I was just fitting this brand new screen, using my brand new bungee cords when - TWANG ! No it wasn’t one of the cords, it was my back. Like a guitar string snapping with a demonic off-key jangle, my back threw me into a realm of jarring pain and frustrating immobility. I have had back issues before, but mostly before we moved to America. This was (still is) almost the worst I’ve suffered, and I have so much to get done this week. We’ll plough on through, and we will have a show on Saturday, but it might not be as polished as we had hoped it would be.
I beg forgiveness in advance if I appear a little distracted during our first movie of the year. Since our planning began, and we put the schedule together, a combination of celestial alignments, extremely dogged and often sublime football skills, a concept called VAR, and perhaps the karmic recompense of persistent near-misses has landed my english soccer team, Tottenham Hotspur in the final of the UEFA Champions League. This is, literally, the biggest, most important 90 minutes of football in the history of the club I have followed for over 50 years, and takes place at 3pm ET on Saturday 1st June.
I have every intention of following through with the launch of our excellent 2019 summer season, but I have no idea what frame of my mind I will be in - probably at one extreme or the other from broken-hearted dejection to a manic euphoria in which very little I say will make sense ("What's new ?" I hear Linda yelling...). Be prepared.
But enough of distractions…
A Star Is Born has a long history. It has been made 4 times, and the screenplay for the first 1937 version was co-written by Dorothy Parker. Originally, the characters were both actors, in 1954 Esther Blodgett (this time played famously by Judy Garland) becomes a singer in movie musicals, but in the two most recent versions, both star-crossed lovers are musicians.
If your love story depends on the tensions between an established but fading music superstar, and a genuinely talented unknown and her meteoric rise to fame, then you better have some good tunes in your pocket. In 1954, most of the songs were old standards, but Garland did make The Man That Got Away famous. In 1974, the soundtrack album was hugely successful. It was the Billboard Number 1 for 6 weeks, received 4 Platinum disks AND contained the Oscar-winning song, Evergreen. From my birthday viewing, I can vouch for the music, and we all know Gaga took the statuette home this year for the excellent Shallow.
As for the acting, I remember being pleasantly surprised how well Gaga did in her first movie role (she previously did well on TV in American Horror Story) but disappointed how Bradley Cooper missed out on the kudos he should have received for a bravura performance - acting, directing and indeed singing and performing the music.
The 1974 movie is still on my list of favourites, and has a big emotional hit for me. This one also packs a heavy punch, so make sure you bring tissues !
Join us on Sat 1st June for the opening night of Folly Avenue Film Club 2019 - A Little Night Music !!
…oh, and COME ON, YOU SPURS !
Here we go again ! Our eleventh summer season of backyard movies, and we have unashamedly settled into a routine which makes a nonsense of the great annual debate - "What is the theme for this summer's movies ?" Linda and I literally just picked 8 movies which we thought would make a good season, and then shoe-horned a tag line on top of them. Quite coincidentally, seven of this years movies have either a direct or loose musical connection, and as the eighth is both literally and symbolically very dark, we came up with - "A Little Night Music". Here is the list for your edification.
|A STAR IS BORN – A straight forward musical offering to open our season. I believe the critical reaction to this movie suffered because of the big name/Lady Gaga/commercial hype circus that surrounded it. It is a very powerful remake of a familiar story, with great songs, and two intensely good central performances. Bradley Cooper should feel hard done by for his paltry return in awards season.|
|GREEN BOOK – On my birthday film marathon, this took the prize as best film of the day, so I was not sorry to see it get the Best Film Oscar. It would be very easy to assume this is a familiar or predictable story about overcoming racial prejudice, but the threads are much more complicated and go so much deeper than that simplistic narrative.|
|BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – I was a little underwhelmed by this, particularly the slightly comic-book style of the biographic detail. And I have written previously about how biopic performances of idiosyncratic characters attract disproportionate praise. However, Rami Malek does a great (if not Oscar worthy) job of portraying Freddie and the concert numbers are terrific.|
|MARY POPPINS RETURNS – Family Film night in July brings us the familiar story of Mary Poppins, but with Emily Blunt and - as I gather from the trailers - a rather strangulated 'posh' english accent. It will have to go a long way to live up to the original and the simply vast array of excellent, familiar Sherman Brothers songs.|
|THE FAVOURITE – Linda's favorite film from last year, featuring our own National Treasure, the irrepressible Olivia Coleman. Having seen several of Yorgos Lanthimos' surreal and somewhat difficult movies (The Lobster, Killing Of A Sacred Deer), it was a relief that this was relatively 'normal' and very engaging. The three female leads are all excellent, and Olivia's Best Actress Oscar was well-deserved.|
|BLACKKKLANSMAN – This movie was picked because we really should have seen it, but we haven't yet. So I don't have too many comments, except to say that the premise is one of the weirdest real-life stories I could imagine (Black policeman goes undercover to infiltrate the KKK !) and I can't wait to see how that works in practice.|
|MAMMA MIA ! HERE WE GO AGAIN – So...there is a significant backstory to this. In our very first season, we tried to show the original Mamma Mia on several occasions, only to be thwarted time and time again by the weather. Ironic for a movie set on an idyllic greek island in the Mediterranean... Do not be surprised if the gods prevent us from redeeming ourselves, by bringing in a sudden downpour. After all, I hear the sequel is pretty much the same story as the first one !|
|ROCKETMAN – Nothing to say about this, except that we are crossing our fingers, hoping that this is out on DVD in time for our presentation... It's not in the cinemas yet, and at the time of writing, it is not even rated. However, the trailers suggest that Taron Egerton does an excellent job performing Elton's songs, making Rami Malik look a bit feeble by comparison.|
So there you have it. Starting on 1st June, the best season ever - again ! Keep watching the page for more updates, and I will also be trying to write more often about other movie subjects as we go through the summer (a promise I have made before and been hopelessly unsuccessful in keeping...).