Doctor Who – Leave your misogyny at the (Tardis) door

The world of Doctor Who is a place I haven’t visited since the beginning of Matt Smith’s portrayal of the character – around the same time the storylines started to become repetitive and trite. Even Peter Capaldi’s casting (who I’ve been a fan of since The Thick of It) couldn’t entice me back to a show that continued to be increasingly tired, despite a select number of later episodes that seemed to be getting things back on track. Yet now, with the announcement of the casting of the 13th Doctor, a monumental change is on the horizon which is well worth celebrating, whether everyone wants it or not.

The portrayal of gender roles onscreen is something that has always been at the back of my mind, ever since my time at University. It was there that three very happy years of Film Studies opened up my eyes to all sorts of representation issues, both on film and TV. However the results that I was presented with in relation to women onscreen were shocking and, as a woman myself, almost depressing. Continuously objectified, often portrayed via damaging, badly written stereotypes, rarely forwarding the narrative in any significant way (other than when they die, which even now is used as a common plot point), and regularly featured as secondary, nearly mute characters, or not at all. Even when films and TV shows do try and break this mould, it’s disheartening how these are almost always attacked by criticism that male-led productions are rarely faced with (specifically Bridesmaids and the first season of Girls, which were both unfairly targeted for their portrayal of men. Because keeping male characters out of the picture is paramount to a crime).

Jodie Whittaker will be playing the 13th Doctor

It is for all these reasons that I really do applaud the decision to hire a female actor to play one of the most iconic characters on British TV. No longer will a woman simply be the Doctor’s companion, they’ll now be calling the shots and saving the world, one time travel trip at a time. It is something that not only opens up the show to a whole realm of hitherto unexplored possibilities, it also opens up the discussion of positive female representation onscreen itself. Yes, we’ve had plenty of leading female characters in Sci-fi and Fantasy shows before (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Orphan Black, Jessica Jones and many more). But there are no such long-running TV productions (to my knowledge) with a lead consistently portrayed by a male actor, and for that ‘norm’ to then suddenly be challenged. That change itself is evidence of the BBC and new showrunner Chris Chibnall actively deciding to make a positive step towards the future and address the gender imbalance onscreen, one which if successful, could well mean other productions following its lead, both original and otherwise.

With all this in mind though, I do recognise and understand those with worries about the future of Doctor Who. I should add here: those with legitimate worries. Those making unfair, misogynistic comments can (and will) happily be left behind by the show – it will flourish a lot better without ‘fans’ such as that (and judging by some of the harsher, sickening responses, this is a change that needed to happen, and one that should even have taken place sooner). No, the fans I understand are those who wanted a man to be chosen again for the role – those ones looking forward to seeing who would be picked next, and hoping for the series to stay as it was. Indeed, my wish list actually had three male names (Tim Roth, David Thewlis and Paddy Considine) and only two female actors (Zawe Ashton and Natalia Tena) on it. A man would have been a perfectly valid choice for the 13th Doctor, albeit a frustrating one for those celebrating last week’s news of Jodie Whittaker’s casting. However I believe these fans will be more that won over by the interesting road the series will now be taking – one which will certainly shake up a show that was rapidly running out of steam.

Similarly, I also understand and sympathise with those annoyed that a WOC hasn’t been chosen to play the Doctor. A decision such as this would have been immensely positive for representation of race onscreen (another current sorry state of affairs), as well as gender. The companion’s race has been challenged before, and recently their sexuality too, so why not the Doctor’s? While it can only be speculated as to why the BBC didn’t push the envelope even further, I believe they may have feared being labelled as ‘politically correct’, a description that has been unfairly attached to them even after Whittaker’s casting. The only minor positive that could potentially come from all this in relation to race, is that the success of an unconventional choice for the 13th Doctor will hopefully open up many more doors of diversity further down the line.

Doctor Who

There are plenty of others happy with the decision though, recognising this as a great time for the series and for female roles. However even some looking forward to what the show now holds are concerned as to whether it may simply be used as a gimmick to draw back viewers long since bored with it. That the writing and plots will remain as dreary as they previously have been. It is true that many of the naysayers will certainly be watching and waiting for them to slip up – a justification of the gender ‘issue’ that they are against already. Obviously whether it is a triumph is something that will only come to light next year, when we see exactly what Chibnall and the team of writers, directors, etc. have created for our eager eyes. Yet with a refreshing vision and a fantastic force in Whittaker at the helm (if you’ve not seen her in Rachel Tunnard’s excellent film Adult Life Skills, I highly recommend you do) I really am hopeful for the future of the Doctor and excited to see what comes next.

The one positive thing that few can (or shouldn’t) argue against, is what this casting means for young viewers everywhere. After all, although there is a huge adult audience for the show (myself included), at its heart Doctor Who’s core viewers are those younger few – those it has the most influence on. The Doctor has always been about treating everyone with kindness and helping others different to you. That although the world isn’t a fair place, you should always respect it as such. And now, young girls and boys can see how a strong female presence can promote this too. That they are just as capable of saving the Universe. I didn’t watch Doctor Who back in the 90s when I was young, but if I was a child now I can guarantee that I would have been obsessed with it. And my little self, who was so in love with Ghostbusters and X-Men back in the day, would have been over the moon at having someone just like me finally be the front and centre of such a big TV show. So forgive me if I actually shed a tear at the casting news – because THIS is what it is all about.

The Hateful Eight – The official teaser trailer for Tarantino’s latest film

After a long, LONG wait we finally get to see footage from Mr Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, The Hateful Eight (2015); a badass Western about a group of eight strangers who find themselves all sheltering from a blizzard in the same cabin. However there might be more to one of those strangers than it first seems. As Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) puts it in the trailer: “Looks like Minnie’s Haberdashery is about to get cozy for the next few days”…

Tarantino’s strengths have always been his great characterisation, stellar dialogue, and OTT violence, and as such the concept behind The Hateful Eight seems like the best of all those world’s put together. Looking like a cross between Django Unchained (2012) and Reservoir Dogs (1992) – incidentally my favourite film of all time – The Hateful Eight certainly doesn’t seem to disappoint, even in this short trailer.

It also contains two of my favourite actors: Tim Roth and Michael Madsen (did I mention I love Reservoir Dogs?). The rest of that cast list is also looking pretty great though. In particular I’m looking forward to seeing the brilliant Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix, Demián Bichir as the mysterious Bob, Jennifer Jason Leigh as prisoner Daisy Domergue, and (of course) Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren.

With an amazing, star-studded cast, a perfect Western setting, and an even more perfect story, The Hateful Eight is already shaping up to be one of Tarantino’s best films. Time will only tell if everyone will get to see this on 70mm as Tarantino intends people to see it though. Select cinemas will be showing it in this specific format from Christmas Day 2015, before finally coming to other digital screens in January 2016 (or possibly later if you’re in the UK like me). But I would certainly travel as many miles as I had to in order to see this, or any other Tarantino film, in its intended format.

Either way, I can’t wait to see this. And if this is a preview trailer, here’s hoping we get another one with even more footage in the next few months…

The 2015 Academy Awards – Another year, another Oscars

Last night saw the 87th Academy Awards take place, hosted by the ever-charming Neil Patrick Harris. Square-eyed-geek stayed up to watch the whole thing. Sleep might have been a better choice though…

Oscars 2015

To be perfectly honest, for me the shine has gone out of the Oscars in recent years. Partly because I live in the UK so I have to stay up mega late to watch it, something that clashed this year with my new found love of going to bed early. Yet mainly it is due to the fact that (as a lot of people have pointed out this year) there isn’t a whole lot of diversity to the thing, something which certain blinding omissions made particularly obvious this time. No nomination for David Oyelowo for his lead role as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma (2014), or even for the director Ava DuVernay (who if she’d been up for an award would have been the first African-American female director to be nominated). I know that it’s never going to be perfect and people are always going to be disappointed at films they love being left out and films being nominated when they really shouldn’t (like War Horse (2011) being nominated for Best Picture – really Academy?). But still, it feels like the Oscars (as well as a few other award ceremonies) aren’t doing enough to show a broader picture of the filmmaking talent that’s truly out there. Something needs to change, and soon.

Anyway, onto the winners. As everyone expected and had been betting on since the nominations were announced, Julianne Moore won the award for Best Actress, something that has been long overdue for her and which she more than deserved for her emotional performance as a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice (2014). And it wasn’t much of a surprise when Eddie Redmayne won for his portrayal as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (2014). Again, well-deserved for such a difficult performance, yet I was still hoping that Michael Keaton would take home the award for his perfect, funny yet sensitive turn in Birdman (2014).

Julianne Moore takes home the Oscar for Best Actress for her emotional turn in Still Alice (2014)

It also seemed that the Supporting Actor and Actress categories had been decided for a while. J.K. Simmons won for his terrifying performance in Whiplash (2014), and Patricia Arquette received the award for her heartfelt turn in Boyhood (2014). For me Arquette also won the NIGHT for her brilliant speech, in which she called for equal rights and pay for women (which earned a huge reaction from the crowd, specifically Meryl Streep who practically leapt out of her seat). In fact it was a night of many inspirational speeches all around, specifically from Graham Moore who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game (2014) and who discussed his own suicide attempt when he was a teen. He ended his passionate speech by promising others who might also feel as alienated as he did that they do matter and to “stay weird, stay different”. Amazing man (and I’m actually filling up again thinking about it).

Less certain on the night were the awards for Best Director and Best Picture. Boyhood and Birdman have been competing throughout all the award shows of recent months, with one or the other coming out on top at each event. And while all signs seemed to be pointing to Richard Linklater and Boyhood, in the end it was Alejandro González Iñárritu who took home the Best Director award for Birdman, which also received the Oscar for Best Picture (as well as the award for Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki’s stunning work). I haven’t yet seen Boyhood, so I can’t judge if it was an unfair loss or not. Either way both films were technical marvels for very different reasons and both equally deserving. I was always secretly rooting for Birdman though – a riotous, dramatic and hilarious film with a superb central cast.

Birdman (2014) wins the award for Best Picture, and director Alejandro González Iñárritu also takes home the award for Best Director

Elsewhere, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) took a fair share of awards home in a variety of categories, including Production Design, Makeup, Costume and Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat. Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida (2013) won for Best Foreign Language film, ‘Glory’ from Selma won for Best Original song (with an emotional performance of the song from John Legend and Common on the night which reduced a few people in the audience to tears), and Big Hero 6 (2014) won for Best Animation, which is always going to be known as the film that won when The Lego Movie (2014) should have…which it would have done if it had been flipping nominated in the first place.

Overall the night itself was its usual trundling, dragged out affair. Many people bemoaned host Neil Patrick Harris, as well as a lack of jokes. In my opinion though I think he was the funniest and most entertaining host the ceremony has had since Seth MacFarlane (although I’m not too sure what that says about my sense of humour?). And Harris’ brilliant opening number, complete with Anna Kendrick and Jack Black cameos, was one of the more dazzling moments of the show in recent years. Plus Harris used every opportunity he could to poke fun at the Oscars themselves, as well as a few of those glaring omissions. Good for you sir.

Neil Patrick Harris performs with Anna Kendrick during the dazzling opening number

So there we have it: another year of predictable wins, with a couple of surprises, a few tears, a few jokes, and some truly bizarre moments (John Travolta getting all weirdly touchy-feely during a skit with Idina Menzel about Adele Dazeem-gate last year, and a performance of The Lego Movie song ‘Everything Is Awesome’ which was both equal parts horrifying and amazing. Let’s just say that watching that after 2am, I feared someone had slipped something into my drink). It was all fun while it lasted though. But maybe next year I’ll heed my own advice and get an early night’s sleep instead…

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Extended Trailer

Last week we FINALLY got to see a teaser for the most hotly anticipated film of 2015 – Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Mere days later and Marvel released an extended clip to go with that trailer, and it’s as funny and awesome as you’d expect it to be. Yep, turns out there ain’t no party like an Avenger’s party – except their parties tend to come with unexpected visits from ultimate baddies:

While this trailer has the usual – destruction, mayhem and action galore – it also promises something else: a grittier, much darker side to it. Could we be seeing a continuation of the similar dark realism used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), which turned out to be more political thriller than comic book movie? That glimpse of menacing new villain Ultron (James Spader) would certainly seem to suggest so, as would the ominous sight of Captain America’s (Chris Evans) broken shield…

We also get a glimpse of two other important additions: Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her brother Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). It’s unsure yet exactly what they’ll be adding to the storyline, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see how writer-director Joss Whedon has envisioned them (having already briefly seen differing versions of the characters in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)). The trailer also promises more action involving Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the fabulous Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who was highly underused in The Avengers (2012). It’ll be exciting to see where both these characters go, especially Bruce Banner as Ruffalo did such an incredible job in the first film, taking a character already played by two other actors in major standalone films and portraying him as a more sensitive, mixed-up soul than we’ve seen before.

Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Many have also speculated that the very brief glimpse of ballerinas dancing in a studio might be part of the backstory for Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson). Whether that is the case or not, going from the trailer it seems like she has a big part to play in this sequel, again another welcome element as she is fast becoming one of the most interesting characters in the Marvel series. Mostly this is thanks to Scarlett Johansson’s brilliant performance, but it is also down to Joss Whedon’s superb writing and his confidence in letting a female character take the helm for most of the first Avengers film (something that very few other superhero films do). His writing and Johansson’s portrayal have in turn made Natasha a fully-formed character, rather than the usual token, sexy female superhero, something that is hopefully going to continue in Age of Ultron if we are indeed going to delve into her murky past.

It was Joss Whedon’s expert writing and his bold direction for the first Avengers that also brought an extra layer of geeky brilliance to the film, his talent at creating something with a mixture of action, comedy and heart meaning he created a winning formula and an amazing and entertaining film. Therefore going on that knowledge and the above trailer, two things are certain – Joss Whedon’s film is going to dominate the box office when it’s released and it’ll be the film highlight of 2015. April can’t come around quick enough.

square-eyed-geek at the 2014 BFI London Film Festival

Although I’ve spent years on here discussing and reviewing films, I have a confession: square-eyed-geek has never been to a film festival. Well this year I thought I’d rectify that and not just with any old film festival, but with the 58th BFI London Film Festival. And I loved every minute of it.

The 58th BFI London Film Festival

The first thing I noticed was the atmosphere. Exciting and almost electric, it was great to be in the same place as so many other film lovers similar to myself. Of course the main plus of the festival was the chance to see films that wouldn’t be released for months down the line, or that might never be released if they are unlucky enough to not get picked up for distribution. I would very much doubt that would be the case for any of the superb films I saw at the festival though.

Carol Morley’s The Falling (2014) was the first screening I went to, and what a film to start my trip down there. Morley’s second fiction feature (after her last film, the fabulous documentary Dreams of a Life (2011)) is set in an all-girls school that is suddenly hit by a mysterious fainting illness. Strange, ethereal and gripping it features perfect lead performances from Maisie Williams and the fabulous Florence Pugh in her first ever role.

One of the surprises of the festival for me was that a lot of the filmmakers were there to talk about their films after the screenings. Indeed, the LFF screening of The Falling was the world premiere of the film, so writer-director Carol Morley and the cast were all there for a Q and A after it was shown. It was great to hear Morley talk enthusiastically about the film and her writing process, as well as the film’s overarching idea and its potential meanings.

Maisie Williams and Florence Pugh in Carol Morley’s The Falling (2014)

Another female filmmaker in attendance was the brilliant director Susanne Bier who was at LFF to promote her two new films, A Second Chance (En chance til, 2014) and Serena (2014). I chose to see A Second Chance, a heartbreaking drama written by Bier’s regular film partner Anders Thomas Jensen, that packs many a devastating punch throughout and also has an ending that divided many viewers in the audience (not me though – I loved it).

Also continually hard-hitting was The Turning (2013), an Australian portmanteau film. Some of the shorts were more standout than others and some didn’t really work (‘Immunity’, ‘Reunion’ and ‘On Her Knees’ were all beautifully shot and superbly acted, but being so different in tone they interrupted the flow of the other stories). Highlights for me though were the shorts by David Wenham, Claire McCarthy, Anthony Lucas and Mia Wasikowska. The only downside of the film is that at 3 hours it is incredibly long and does tend to drag towards the end. Still that’s usually the case with portmanteau films.

As a big lover of all sorts of film genres though, I decided to mix it up and see as many different ones as I possibly could during my time at LFF. Horror came in the form of David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows (2014) – a terrifying and tense film filled with jump scares (the man sitting next to me could barely stay in his seat) and with a central idea as old as the genre itself, yet played out in a refreshingly different way. It also has a great lead performance from Maika Monroe – one to definitely look out for after this and her stellar turn in The Guest (2014).

Angus Sampson in dark Australian comedy The Mule (2014)

My 3 festival highlights were also widely different from each other and spanned various genres. One was Eskil Vogt’s Blind (2014) – a daring look at one woman (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) who has suddenly lost her eyesight, and a twisted tale in which we are never sure what is reality and what is her own fantasy. Also a favourite for me was The Mule (2014), a dark Aussie comedy about one man who is coerced into becoming a drug mule and who inevitably ends up in big trouble. However the central concept of the story is disgustingly hilarious – far too hilarious to reveal in fact. Writer, director and all-round funny guy Angus Sampson (the human equivalent of a grizzly bear – but a cuddly one) was also in attendance to answer questions about the production and about his first major lead role in the film.

But my overall favourite film of the festival was definitely 10.000 Km (2014), a funny yet devastatingly sad drama about a couple’s long distance relationship that’s played out through the use of technology (Skype, Facebook, etc.). It also has two great and very realistic lead performances from David Verdaguer and the amazing Natalia Tena who was alongside director Carlos Marques-Marcet to discuss the film after the screening. 10.000 Km was also the film that hit me the hardest after seeing it and, along with The Mule, has stayed with me since watching it…both for very different reasons though.

Carlos Marques-Marcet’s 10.000 Km (2014)

Getting the chance to attend The London Film Festival is definitely one of my highlights of 2014. The only downside to it was that I didn’t get to stay longer and devour any more of the 248 films showing over the 12 days of the festival. Still, there’s always next year!…

Note: Full reviews of all the films mentioned still to come!

Boardwalk Empire, Season 5 – A final farewell to Nucky and Co.

I usually post trailers and news for films on here, but I thought I’d make an exception for the recent trailer for the new season of Boardwalk Empire (2010 – 2014). Partly because I am a massive fan of the show, partly because it is easily one of the best things on TV at the moment. Which is a shame when season 5 is to be its last (and its shortest at only 8 episodes).

This time the action has moved forward to 1931, meaning a big change of pace: this was when the Great Depression had hit and hit hard, and there was also an end in sight for Prohibition. This means previous big players being pushed off their pedestals and even bigger, more opportunistic ones, stepping up, mainly Charlie ‘Lucky’ Luciano (Vincent Piazza), as you can see from the trailer. It also means that this season is likely to be even more explosive than the ones before…which is saying something when each previous season has been fraught with increasing amounts of tension, excitement and more and more main character deaths.

Boardwalk Empire, Season 5 – the final curtain call for Nucky and Co.

It’ll be interesting to see how writer and creator Terence Winter and the programme’s usual writers and directors handle this new era and just where they are going to be taking these brilliant characters, as well as how they will be drawing it to a close (the tagline “No one goes quietly” certainly does add an ominous tone to this final season). So while it’ll be sad to see this excellent show go, I’m still looking forward to the final curtain call with Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and other fabulous characters such as Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller (Michael Shannon), Eli Thompson (Shea Whigham), Chalky White (Michael K. Williams), Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol), Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef) – who will probably have the biggest part to play out of them all (I’m actually hoping there might be a chance of a spin-off or mini-series about Luciano and Lansky, seeing as how they’ve only just begun to forge their Empire…fingers crossed).

Catch Boardwalk Empire while you still can with the new season starting in the US on September 7th 2014 and in the UK on September 13th 2014. If you’ve never seen it before though, catch up on the previous 4 seasons and see just why it is one of the best shows on TV.

Oscars 2014 – Well, it was fun while it lasted…

Last night, as I’m sure the entire universe is aware, the 86th Annual Academy Awards took place. This year the show was hosted by the amazing Ellen DeGeneres, and as usual I decided to watch the whole thing in full. Was it worth it? Hmm. I think this year was the first time I was really doubtful about whether it was.

While Ellen DeGeneres was a good host and she gave a funny opening speech, the rest of the show was pretty joke free. There was one great joke about a giant selfie she took (which apparently temporarily broke Twitter as that many people retweeted it). However then there was the gag about ordering pizza for the whole audience and sharing it out when it came, a gag which was a little bit chucklesome at the start but then became ridiculous. Especially when it was repeated about three times. In my opinion Seth MacFarlane did a much better job last year – it felt like more of a show then, with more performances throughout the night, and (more importantly) more jokes that were actually laugh-out-loud. Yes, he can be stupidly offensive for no reason sometimes, but maybe that’s what the Oscars needs, rather than this year when it just felt like they were playing it safe.

But on to who won the awards themselves… 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture and director Steve McQueen gave a beautiful, heartbreaking acceptance speech. Although it wasn’t great that McQueen didn’t win for Best Director as well, I think Alfonso Cuarón’s win was the Academy’s way of giving out awards to both films so one or the other wasn’t missed out completely. And at least Gravity didn’t win for Best Picture. Imagine the uproar if that had happened. As good a film as it is, as well as a technical marvel and a stunning watch, imagine the controversy if it had won over a film dealing with slavery. Was never going to happen. Plus Alfonso Cuarón does deserve an award for his direction for Gravity – to spend that many years developing something like that is a real feat. And he’s been snubbed for the Best Director Oscar before – the Academy do love to make amends for a mistake. There’s hope for you yet Steve McQueen.

The biggest controversy of the night was probably Leonardo DiCaprio not winning the award for Best Actor. AGAIN. Seriously what does this guy have to do to get an award from you Academy? Matthew McConaughey more than deserved it for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club though (however I really think that film is lacking in other areas, such as having a strong plot for the whole of its running time). And although both Leo and Matthew play characters based on real people, who was really going to win? – the guy playing a real-life hero who had AIDS? Or the guy playing a real-life arsehole? Maybe another year Leo…

The least shocking award of the night though went to Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, which pretty much everyone has been predicting since it came out. And why not? – Blanchett more than earned it with that stunning performance. Lupita Nyong’o also won for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave and pretty much cemented herself in everyones’ hearts as the sweetest person on the planet. And Jared Leto also gave a beautiful speech with his win for Dallas Buyers Club – again, well-deserved as he was one of the only things that kept me watching that film (along with Matthew McConaughey of course).

However the two shockers of the night for me were the awards for screenwriting. Best Adapted Screenplay went to John Ridley for his adaptation of 12 Years a Slave, which is great and well-earned, but I would have thought Terence Winter was a shoe-in for his adaptation of the amazing The Wolf of Wall Street. So in the end Wolf won FLIP ALL. Guess the Academy weren’t so fond of a film about money, drugs and sex as I was hoping (I’m being sarcastic by the way, it was never going to win). Also a surprise was the award for Best Original Screenplay which I predicted would go to Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine…but which went to Spike Jonze for Her!!! I adore that film and it was quite a shock to see the Academy go for something quite so original and strange as Her. But I’m very thankful that they did.

All in all last nights Oscars was a weirdly subdued ordeal with few surprises. It was also a night of Pharrell Williams dancing with Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, John Travolta getting Idina Menzel’s name wrong (“Adele Dazim” indeed – HOW DARE YOU SIR) and expert photobombing on the red carpet from many celebs including Jared Leto and the overall winner Benedict Cumberbatch for spectacularly photobombing U2 (seriously check out the pic if you’ve not seen it yet, it’s like he’s a professional or something…). And that’s it for another year. Roll on 2015 when there will be someone else getting snubbed, no surprises and even fewer jokes (from me or next year’s host – you decide…). Yay!!!

square-eyed-geek’s Blog Stats for 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

To Look and Not See – my very own Film Futures…

Usually on here I’m reviewing the latest film or sharing new trailers for future releases. But for a change I would like to post something else…along with a side of shameless self-promotion.

From May of this year through to September, I was part of a filmmaking course run by First Take in Liverpool, called Film Futures. The course was for all-female filmmakers wanting to further their production skills – directing, producing, camera work, editing and so on. We made four short films in total. The first was a practice film – a horror short called Highly Strung. The other three were all made from scripts written by women on a scriptwriting course that ran alongside our course (set up through SHAP Liverpool and First Take). We were only supposed to choose one script to make a film from, but the quality of the writing was that high that we had difficulty deciding! In the end we decided to make three of the scripts into films.

The first was called Unveiled, a psychological horror/drama about a young woman called Angela who has a deep, dark secret. I carried out some of the sound recording for Unveiled and was even an extra for one scene! The other was Tax This, a political drama about one woman’s fight against the bedroom tax, for which I was camera operator and sound recordist again.

And finally was To Look and Not See, about two friends called Cassidy and April whose friendship is threatened by another girl and by a secret Cassidy holds. This was the film that I co-directed, as well as produced, shot and edited. I was very happy to be chosen to direct it too because I thought the story was so clever and well-written, as well as very touching…with a great bit of comedy on the side! Here is the link to the finished film – have a look and let me know what you think!:

All of the other films are available to watch on the Film Futures website (click the link below), along with a Behind the Scenes video about the production of the films and with a few interviews with us to hear our thoughts on the course. Again, please take a look!:

Film Futures – First Take

I feel incredibly lucky to have been part of this course and to have been given an opportunity to direct such a brilliant story. I enjoyed the course and the entire filmmaking process immensely and the support from everyone at First Take was wonderful. Hopefully this course will mark my next step into the world of filmmaking. Watch this space!

square-eyed-geek has been nominated for a Liebster Award!

Bit different from the usual posts I write, but here’s some other great news – I was recently nominated for a Liebster Award by fellow blogger Kelsey at reviewsbyagirl! The Liebster Award is for blogs that have less than 200 followers and people award it to others in order to promote their work. So thank you to Kelsey for recognising my blog!

Now that I have been nominated for this award I need to follow the below steps:

  1. Link back and recognise the blogger who nominated me.
  2. Answer the 10 questions that have been given to me by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award – they must have less than 200 followers!
  4. Create 10 questions for my nominees to answer.
  5. Let my nominees know they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

So…here goes!:

  • Link back and recognise the blogger who nominated me:

reviewsbyagirl. Big thanks again to you!

  • Answer the 10 questions given to me by the nominator:

1. If you could meet a famous person, who would it be and why?

Quentin Tarantino. I sort of did meet him at a signing once, but I was so overwhelmed I gave him some sort of stuttered comment and then left. To be given the chance to meet him again and properly speak to him and just to tell him that he is the entire reason I want to make films…yeah that would be pretty amazing.

2. What would you want to win a lifetime supply of?

Probably DVDs and Blu-rays of every film ever made (failing that jelly beans).

3. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

New Zealand – been obsessed with that place ever since The Lord of the Rings. My lifelong dream is to move there. And it looks like such a beautiful, magical place to live in (and yes, I know hobbits aren’t real).

4. What is your most favourite song ever?

Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance. Catchiest song ever.

5. What do you prefer: a sit-in meal or a take-away?

Sit-in meal. Much more classy.

6. Which quiz show would you go on and why?

Catchphrase, just coz I think that would be the one I would have the most chance at winning on.

7. Early bird or night owl?

Night owl – all the time. A normal night’s sleep (when I have nothing to do the next day) is 2 or 3 in the morning. Sleep is dull.

8. What is your favourite type of food?

Pizza. Especially with any sort of seafood topping on it.

9. If you could change your name what would you change it to?

Well, when I was younger I actually DID want to change my name, legally and everything…to Tanya. Glad I didn’t now.

10. If you could invite 10 people to dinner, dead or alive, who would you invite?

Joss Whedon – coz I LOVE the man. And I could ask him many geeky questions about Buffy, Firefly and the new Avengers film.

Lena Dunham – she is one of my favourite writers at the moment, the same age as me and she just oozes cool.

Tim Roth – one of my favourite ever actors and still ridiculously underrated.

Tilda Swinton – again one of my other favourite actors. She is also ridiculously classy and just ethereally beautiful.

Robert Downey Jr. – who would have to come as Tony Stark. Although that probably wouldn’t be difficult as I’m pretty sure Tony Stark is RDJ (or other way around).

James Franco – again the cool thing and that smile could light up any dull conversation.

Tom Hardy – another of my favourite ever actors and again a fellow Brit. Also his voice is amazing (his normal voice, not the Bane voice).

Kat Dennings – she is hilarious and again ridiculously cool.

Paddy Considine – again one of my favourite other Brit actors. Plus he genuinely looks like one of the funniest and nicest people ever.

Kathryn Bigelow – a brilliant director and I could ask her what it was like to be the first female director to win an Oscar (and tell her I cried when she won).

  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award that have less than 200 followers:

Filly on Film – http://filmicfilly.wordpress.com/

Jackanory Reviews – http://jackanoryreviews.wordpress.com/

MOVIE ARCADIA – http://moviearcadia.wordpress.com/

theladypop – http://theladypop.wordpress.com/

Movie Metropolis – http://moviemetropolis.wordpress.com/

tomgeorgearts – http://tomgeorgearts.wordpress.com/

The Frame Loop – http://theframeloop.com/

Uncultured Critic – http://www.unculturedcritic.com/

psychcine – http://psychcine.wordpress.com/

Unpaid Film Critic – http://unpaidfilmcritic.wordpress.com/

  • Create 10 questions for my nominees to answer:

Question 1 = What is your favourite film and why?

Question 2 = What would be your absolute dream job?

Question 3 = Who is your hero?

Question 4 = What would be your dream holiday destination?

Question 5 = What’s your favourite book?

Question 6 = What is your favourite past-time when you’re not writing your blog?

Question 7 = What sort of music do you prefer?

Question 8 = Do you have a favourite food?

Question 9 = If you were going to be stranded on an island (and already had unlimited food and water), which one item would take with you?

Question 10 = Which 10 people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?

  • Let my nominees know they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

I’ll be posting on to the above blogs informing them they’ve been nominated as soon as this is posted.

Again, massive thanks to Kelsey at reviewsbyagirl for my nomination!

And now back to the usual for square-eyed-geek. More reviews to come in the next few weeks (including Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and Elysium)…