Tag Archives: cinema

Why 3D films make me angry

In which the Wartime Housewife  rants on and on about how her cinematic experience is constantly blighted by 3D films, and also gives her opinion on ‘Pirates of the Caribbean – on Stranger Tides’.

Is it just me or are 3D films a complete bloody con?  This afternoon I took The Boys and Yippee I.A. to the cinema to see the new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film.  I checked out the times on the cinema’s website and we dutifully arrived at 1.45 for the 2.00pm showing.  Boy the Elder and I are both on Orange mobile tariffs solely so that we can get free tickets for the cinema on Orange Wednesdays and it’s a bloody good thing we are.

When we went to buy our tickets, it turned out that three out of the six showings were 3D but this was advertised neither on the website nor on the showings board in the cinema.  The next 2D showing wasn’t until 4.30 which was too late, so we had to go in.  Luckily we have started keeping our 3D glasses in the car for just such an eventuality but I had to buy a pair for Yippee.

Two cinema tickets plus one pair of glasses came to £18.70. EIGHTEEN POUNDS SEVENTY FOR TWO TICKETS!!!  I was furious and gave the cowering youth behind the counter a really bad time about it.  We went in and sat through what seemed like four and a half hours of adverts, then the film began.

Before I go any further I want to make it clear that ‘Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides’ is a humdinger of a film.  It has everything you could possibly want in a film about pirates.  It’s funny, full of thrilling fights, chases and action.  It has Johnny Depp in a pirate outfit (I could stop here actually), Penelope Cruz looking equally gorgeous in a pirate outfit, Geoffrey Rush is an evil turncoat with a wooden leg and Ian McShane gives a cracking performance as Blackbeard.  There are Mermaids with no vests on and a three-pronged race to find the Fountain of Youth.  It’s wonderful, rollicking good fun.

But it gained absolutely nothing from being in 3D.  Every so often I took my glasses off to see how it looked and, most of the time, the 3D effects were entirely superfluous.  It changes the colour of the screen and makes everything look dingy and, some of the time, the depth of vision was actually quite distracting.  I have seen three films now in 3D  and I utterly resent having been charged extra money for a format that demonstrates no tangible benefit to the film.

3D feels like a cheap trick that ends up being very expensive indeed for the poor, beguiled  cinema goer.
I wouldn’t give you 3d for it.

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Black Swan – A Review

Natalie Portman as the Black Swan

As it is half term, we threw caution to the winds and went to the pictures on a Monday night.  We normally go on Wednesdays to Kettering because a) we can get a free ticket through Orange Wednesdays and b) parking is free at Kettering.  However, I couldn’t face the idea of sitting through any of the films the boys wanted to see, so we agreed that they would watch ‘Big Moma’s Fathers and Sons’ (which they enjoyed enormously) and I would finally go to see ‘Black Swan’ as they were showing at practically the same time at the Leicester Cinema de Lux.

I don’t think I’ve ever come out of a cinema feeling so emotionally exhausted and generally troubled.

Now I must explain what it’s like going to the pictures with me.  I take it very personally.  When I watch a film, I am with them in every scene; I cry pitifully when I am sad, happy, emotional, empathising or sympathising.  I jump out of my skin when I’m startled and I offer audible advice if I think the characters are about to make a terrible mistake.  I hide behind my hands to avoid unpleasantness and I have been known to complain out loud if a film doesn’t end as I think it should.

So.  First of all, the lead character, Nina (Natalie Portman) is thoroughly unlikeable and is undoubtedly the sort of woman I would never tire of slapping.  Her bedroom is pink, full of soft toys and screams of her emotional and sexual stunting.  She is constantly on the verge of tears, uptight, unable to express herself, repressed and neurotic.  Of course, she is a ballet dancer in search of perfection, and is consequently distastefully thin and obsessive. 

However, no-one else seems to like her either.  Her mother is a failed ballet dancer who lives vicariously through her daughter and is, herself, a frightening, pantomime witch of a woman.  She wants her daughter’s success but hates her for it with the same breath.

The crux of the film is that Nina is chosen to play the Swan Queen in Swan Lake which requires her to play both the White Swan who is sweet and lovely and the Black Swan who is dark, visceral and treacherous.  Nina cannot find the Black Swan within herself and the bullying, sexually predatory habits of the company’s director do not help.

She hallucinates all the way through the film and we are left wondering whether this is because she’s psychotic, anorexic or simply stressed out of her brains trying to draw from within herself a character that simply isn’t there.  But we never really know what’s real or imagined and she’s treated so manipulatively by everyone round her that even when something potentially nice happens, you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for it to turn nasty.  And it frequently does.

The sound engineer on this film should have won many awards.  Whenever she pulls a muscle, strains a ligament, splits a toenail or obsessively scratches her back, we are treated to an auditory manifestation of the fragmentation of her body and consequently her mind.  It’s like people who see numbers as colours – we are made to hear corruption as sound, and very unpleasant it is too.

Skin is also used as a metaphor for protection, safety and a covering to keep the nastiness inside.  Nina scratches her back as others might bite their nails.  I was put in mind of Eustace in ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ in which Aslan makes him tear off his dragon skin to reveal the pure, re-born person within.  At any moment I expected black feathers to erupt, bleeding from her shoulder blades as she struggled for her inner darkness.  But enough about that.

As for the lesbian sex scene (which I know has lured many into the film), we are not allowed to enjoy the potential eroticism of it because, by this time, we know how the film is working and there is the terrible fear that something horrific and disgusting is going to happen. Again, the sound effects lead us down a very uncomfortable path and, when it didn’t end horribly, I felt dirty, as though I was colluding in an abusive pornography of my own invention.

The ending is a terrible, horrific and tragic fragmentation of mind and body and yet… and yet…. it felt like the only humane and satisfactory outcome.

See the film by all means (if you think you’re hard enough), but give yourself time to think about kittens and snowdrops and rainbows  for a while before you go to bed.

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Breakfast in bed and The Voyage of The Dawn Treader

Last night, I was just about to have an early night (11pm) when the ‘phone rang.  It was Irish Alice and she was on for 2 hours and 44 minutes.  I checked.  Consequently, I had a very long lie in this morning and I’m lucky that I have instilled a sufficient amount of fear in Boy the Younger that he knows not to wake me until at least ten o’clock at the weekend.

Breakfast in Bed

This morning was slightly different.  At just before 11 o’clock, my bedroom door crashed open and Boy the Younger came bouncing in, carrying a tray almost as big as him.  On it was a plate with two slices of toast, a mug of tea, a pack of butter and a jar of apricot jam. And a penguin.  “I couldn’t find any flowers, Mummy” he said, “so I decorated your tray with a penguin.”

He was so proud of himself, I thought he might burst.  The butter was so hard that his attempts to spread it had made the toast look like buttery icebergs floating on a murky sea, he had failed to spot the marmalade so had used the apricot jam I keep for cake decorating and the very sight of strong tea first thing in the morning makes my stomach turn (I need starting up with coffee in the same way that a lawnmower needs priming).

He cuddled up next to me in bed and watched me take every mouthful with wide, shining eyes and an encouraging expression.  When the last crumb had gone and I had forced down the last gulp of tea, which was so strong it could have carried me downstairs in a fireman’s lift, he took the tray away, calling “Right, you can get up now, Mum!” over his shoulder. Little chap he just made my heart melt with love for him.

We all got dressed and decided to go to the pictures. We bought a couple of drinks for the boys because I refuse to pay nearly £4 for a fizzy drink and I thought I’d get a coffee when I got there.  We chose to see ‘the Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ because there was only one showing at 12.45 and it’ll be coming off soon.  I hadn’t realised that it was a 3D showing so we had to buy glasses, and I was somewhat startled to find that three tickets plus three pairs of glasses came to £28.  This meant I had no money left for coffee.  I gulped audibly, swore quietly but vilely to the charming man at the kiosk, who agreed that it was a bit steep, and we trooped into our seats.

The film was absolutely brilliant.  With one major exception, they had kept nicely to the book, although I don’t worry too much about that as I think one has to see any film as an interpretation of a book and not hrumph your way through it like a mardy geek.  The actors are superb and Eustace Scrubb was just brilliant.  The colours in this film are so luscious and bold and the plot and characters are really engaging.  And on top of that, one gets the pleasure of Liam Neeson doing the voice of Aslan –  something for the ladies there …. 

Even better it looks like they’re going to make ‘The Silver Chair’ which is one of my favourite Narnia stories.  But why oh why has no-one ever made ‘The Magician’s Nephew’?  It tells the story  of how Narnia came into being in the first place and always strikes me as being a pretty vital part of the Chronicle.   

However, I don’t think that a 3D projection enhanced the film in any way and I kept taking my glasses off to see, roughly, what it would look like in 2D.  Although it was quite fun, particularly the sea scenes when I actually ducked to avoid a torrent of water, it felt like sensory overload.  I find films engrossing enough without physically feeling obliged to duck water and dodge swords; I embarrassed Boy the Elder enough this afternoon when I inadvertently encouraged Eustace to lay the last sword out loud and then sobbed pitifully at the end.

As usual, we stayed to the end to watch the credits and, as we were leaving, to our pauperous delight, found that the person in front of us had abandoned ¾ of a box of popcorn and the family behind us had casually left ½ a bag of Aero Bubbles on their seats.  No coffee though.

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Prang!!!!!

Well, it never rains but it bloody pours.

Tonight, Irish Alice (I.A) and her daughter, Yippee I.A., joined us for a trip to the pictures.  Boy the Elder and Yippee have been friends since they were four and we often join forces for cinema trips.  We went to Pizza Hut for a feed and then the three children went to see ‘Despicable Me’ in 3D while I.A. and I slipped into the pub next door for a glass of something white and chilled. Everybody happy.

As we left, I decided to pop into Tesco for some petrol to save time in the morning.  I was just driving off the forecourt when, completely unbidden, a black Vauxhall Astra ploughed, with some force, into my front wing.  I jumped out to inspect the damage and speak sternly to the other driver just in time to see my front bumper crash to the ground, lightly frosted with the remains of my headlight.

The other driver was a young girl who was sobbing hysterically at the wheel and it was her boyfriend who got out and talked to me.  They both admitted it was her fault, but he explained that her hysteria was entirely justified as she had hit another car only two weeks previously. 

The staff at the Tesco garage were absolutely brilliant.  They immediately came out, cleared up, coned off the area, took the girl inside while her boyfriend parked the car, gave my children a drink and kept everyone calm while we exchanged details.  I was actually completely calm as there is no point in being anything else; these things happen and will undoubtedly happen again.  I told the girl this would make her a better driver as she would be a lot more careful in future.  I’m sure that was a great comfort.

I called the AA, confident of a rescue; after all, I had upgraded at huge expense when my car broke down in Norfolk in the Spring.  But no.  Apparently the small print in my contact says they won’t rescue me if I’m in a car accident, but if I paid another £114 there and then, they would rescue me with pleasure.  When I’d stopped shouting at him in Anglo Saxon, I told him he could shove his policy up his useless arse.  There seems to be no end to the list of reasons why the AA don’t want to rescue me.

Now this is the amazing bit.  Tesco have an arrangement with the RAC that if anyone breaks down on their premises, an RAC vehicle will come out free of charge and sort you out, including taking you home within a 10 mile radius.  A rescue vehicle arrived within 15 minutes.  He assessed my car, which was driveable, taped it up to make it safe and recommended that I should take it, slowly,  to my garage immediately.  He was confident that my insurance company (broker?  The AA – hurrah) would consider it a write off.

I love my car.  It is an X-reg Ford Escort – the last of its kind before they switched to making the Focus instead and it has a wicked sound system.  My mechanic (in whom I am well pleased) also loves my car because it’s mechanical with real machinery that whirrs and chugs and, more importantly, he can mend it with ease.  More importantly still, I have no means with which to buy another car.  Mr RAC was quite reassuring though, because he assessed that the damage was all bodywork and that my insurance company is likely to give me the money and my car back which will mean that I can afford to repair it.  Fingers crossed.

Yet again, The Father of My Children came to my rescue and brought us home from the garage.  We now have a day off as I can’t take the children to school or do any of my own activities. Boy the Elder is delighted.

I will also have to cancel taking Jeremiah to the vet to be spayed.  As it happens, I suspect that she is already pregnant, as she started the day by wee-ing on my bed at seven o’clock this morning and she appears to be eating for ten cats. 

One day at a time…..

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The Casualties of Life

Thursday was an interesting and varied day.  As you know, we all went to the pictures on Wednesday night (Orange Wednesday – 2 tickets for the price of 1 – excellent).  However, because the earlier showings were all full, we had to see ‘Karate Kid’at 8.15pm.  It was only 6.15pm so we went over to Frankie and Benny’s for a feed, which was earth shatteringly expensive – I’d been planning to take them to MacDonald’s on the way home.  Consequently, we didn’t get home until quarter to twelve, which is very late for young chaps and chappesses.

I had agreed to help Lady Marjorie with some spring cleaning first thing on Thursday morning but I had to take my car to the garage at 8.30am.  Luckily they lent me a car for the day as after Lady M, I had to pick up The Boys and leg it over to Mrs Cromarty as I have been helping her partner to make something for his disco rig.  We have had to design it almost as we go along and there is a lot of sewing involved.  A lot of sewing.  We were still working on it late into the night, with only a break to pick up my car (now purring along happily) and get some fish and chips.    At one point, there was a crash and a lot of yelling and Boy the Elder came hobbling downstairs in great pain.  He had tripped over a cable and a large television had fallen onto his foot. Ow.

I inspected it closely, put a cold pack followed by a stabilising bandage on it and made him lie on the sofa with his foot up.  By 11pm his foot had turned many different and exciting colours and it was decided that Thursday night in A&E would conceivably be quicker than Friday.  Mrs Cromarty is much nearer to The Leicester Royal Infirmary, where they also have a dedicated Children’s A&E, but I’ve never been there, so she opted to come too.  We left Boy the Younger at her house.

It could have been much worse.  We were given a wheelchair so that we could avoid Boy the Elder’s inevitable RADA audition, as he hopped, grimacing and groaning along the corridor like a low rent Long John Silver.  After only half an hour, we were ushered into Triage or ‘See and Treat’ as it was helpfully labelled, where the nurse started giggling as Boy the Elder described what had happened.  “I’m so sorry”, she said, “It’s just that we have another boy in the waiting room who had a really large clock fall on his head at about the same time. Strikes me as quite funny”.  We agreed in principle that it was quite funny.

There was then the usual A&E Foxtrot between X-Ray (BTE: “Why have you put that heavy sheet on my privates?” Nurse: “In case you want to have children when you’re older”), The Adolescents’ Waiting Room and the Treatment Cubicle.  The Adolescents’ Waiting Room was fun.  There were posters everywhere about AIDS, drugs (all types), STDs (and how to catch one), chlamydia, female circumcision and forced marriage.  These stimulated some interesting conversations, I can tell you. 

We were delighted to discover that we were waiting with Clock Boy who had a hole in his head.  I told him all about trepanning to cheer him up.  His lovely parents were with him and we chatted happily until both boys were called in to the treatment room.  Boy the Elder was feeling quite cheerful by now and regaled the nurse with his tale in articulate and gruesome detail.  “I bet it hurts like buggery” she said, which got The Boy firmly on her side.

There appeared to be no bones broken and, having dropped Mrs Cromarty at her house, we finally arrived back home at 2.45am, tired, cold and hungry.  After a brief pause to shovel down some cheese on toast and Ovaltine down us, we retired to bed at 3am.  I had an appointment at 9am.  Not happy.

I collected Boy the Younger and we gave ourselves the afternoon off.  I made up some of my special Bruised Bone Liniment (Top Secret formula, incredibly efficacious), applied some to the offending foot, after which we retired to the sofa in a big heap with cake, tea and ‘Blazing Saddles’ on the DVD.

It could have been worse.

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Nativity – A Review

I shan’t beat about the bush.  This film was absolutely brilliant.  It is about an aspiring, but unsuccessful actor (Martin Freeman) who packs it all in to become a primary school teacher.  He is given the task of producing the nativity play at a failing Catholic Primary School with the help of the Headteacher’s (Pam Ferris) nephew who is a grown up child cum idiot savant (Marc Wootton).  I won’t tell you any more because half of the joy of this film is the unexpected. 

Our party consisted of two adults, two 12 year olds and a six year old and we all loved it, although possibly on different levels.  We laughed out loud, I sobbed copiously throughout most of it, it has romantic moments, though never soppy and plenty of ‘Oh No!’ moments.  The children in it are remarkable and the actors are perfectly cast.  Ashley Jensen as the love interest is delightful, as is Freeman’s nemesis and former friend (Jason Watkins).

This is a proper, British, family film that will leave you feeling great.  It’s not intellectual and it’s not deep but there are a few ‘truths’ slipped in under the net that we would all do well to remember.  Go and see it and have a really nice time.

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Being Awfully Busy

I’ve kept meaning to put another post on this week, but somehow it just hasn’t happened.  I have two children at different schools and every day there seems to be something else that I either have to do, attend, contribute or pay for; Class Hamper, Secret Santa, Christingle, Carol Service, Own Clothes Day, Decorations Day, Nativity Play, Create A New Organised Religion Day (Key Stage 1), Release a Turkey into The Wild Morning and my personal favourite, Camel Care for the Under Fives.   I also now have choir practices and carol services to go to and I have to make the house habitable in order to be hospitable over the Christmas Season.  Can’t wait for the end of term!

This weekend, I am going to marzipan my Christmas Cakes, so look out for a piece on that, which will be closely followed by instruction on how to do a simple but effective Poinsettia design for the icing.

Tonight, it is Alice’s daughter’s birthday and we are all going to see ‘Nativity’ at the pictures.  Alice and I usually go to the pub while the children are watching some hideous, badly executed, poorly plotted cartoon, and we had found that cinema attendance had become a very expensive sleep – Alice actually snored during ‘Monsters v. Aliens’.  But tonight we are going to ‘sit in’.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow, having been lent a set of brushes, I am going to clean my chimney.  I’ve been awfully good this year…

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