Cinematic Advent Calendar #04 – Star Trek VI

“Guess who’s coming to dinner…”

Cinematic Advent Calendar #04 - Star Trek VI

There have been a fair few Star Trek films, out of all of them the one I like best is number six. It tells the story of the thawing of relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. With overtones of the Cold War, this story about an old starship crew (making no apologies for the ageing cast) been put into a situation that isn’t what they are use to or expect is gripping and humourous at the same time.

I do think it was the best of the “old cast” films, I did like IV with the whales and time travel, but at the end of the day, of all of them VI wins out. I do like how Sulu now has his own ship. There is a great supporting cast too with Christopher Plummer and David Warner playing the Klingons with great effect.

It’s hard to believe, but the film is over twenty years old now. So is this one of your favourites, or is it one of other films?

Download Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country from iTunes.

Get Star Trek VI at Amazon.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #03 – Star Wars, A New Hope

As a young kid I didn’t go to the cinema very often, but one film I did go and see, and had to queue all around the market square in Cambridge for, was Star Wars.

I didn’t go to the cinema very often when i was young, but I never remember really long queues for films, the queue for Star Wars was unprecedented, it was huge. I have never seen anything like this again.

Star Wars was, and still is, an amazing piece of cinema. When you read the back story you realise that when they were making the film, they had no idea how big it was going to be, many of the cast and crew thought it might be a flop. There were disasters on set, including massively destructive sand storms in Tunisia.

The story was simple in many respects, but this is a true cinematic film. That opening sequence with the never ending huge Star Destroyer set the tone for the rest of the movie. I really loved the retro feel of the technology and this slightly worn, aged tech look was used again many times by other films and television series. Battlestar Galactica is an example of copying the feel and style of Star Wars tech, so much so, there was a court case about it.

 Star Wars, A New Hope

There were spaceships, battles in space, jedi mysticism, sword fights (well light sabre fights), monsters, aliens and a authoritarian empire bent on destruction.

The one thing that you can say about Star Wars was the impact it had on science fiction films and television, it made them mainstream. It was only a couple of years later and we had Star Trek films, there was also a range of science fiction mainstream television series too, as well as the aforementioned Battlestar Galactica, there was Buck Rogers. Some were good and some were downright awful.

Of course Star Wars became so much more than the one film from 1977, three years later there was the Empire Strikes Back (which I didn’t see at the cinema, but many say is a better film than the original) and then in 1982 we saw Return of the Jedi. I did see that at the cinema, but there wasn’t the queues there was in 1977 and in many ways was nowhere near as good as the original film. I remember going to see the “enhanced” versions in the 1990s before the release of the prequels and I did enjoy watching those films again in the cinema. There is something very different about the cinema experience over watching something on the telly or an iPad. I remember really enjoy Empire Strikes Back at the cinema.

I’ll be honest I was not that impressed with the prequels, they didn’t have the magic that we saw in the original three films and the use of CGI did not improve the movies, many of the effects shots were too “clever” and didn’t progress the story, whilst I thought many of the CGI sets looked rather fake. For me they weren’t Star Wars, they were another science fiction film.

Get Star Wars at Amazon.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #02 – When Harry met Sally…

Last year I did a musical advent calendar that I posted to Google+ and a final summary on this blog. This year on a similar theme I will be posting a cinematic advent calendar of twenty four films. It is in no particular order and I make no apologies for the films that I am posting. These are films that I really like and have enjoyed at the cinema. Some have been sheer enjoyment and others have had more of an impact.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #02 - When Harry met Sally...

My second choice for the calendar is When Harry met Sally… Can men ever be friends with women? This very funny film explores that very question with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Set over a fair few years from when they first met on a road trip to New York through chance encounters, this take of two friends is both amusing and sentimental. It is also quite funny. It is one of the few films I probably watch every year and enjoy it every time. There are also strong performances from Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby as friends of Harry and Sally.

I have considered going to New York based on this film alone, but of course the New York now is very different to that one back in 1989. The film certainly doesn’t show the hustle and bustle of the New York that you see in many films, there is a calmer and more hip version of New York. Reminds me of Clifton in Bristol when I watch.

If you like romantic comedies then you probably have seen this, made in an era of similar films, this was a little sharper and tougher than the types we have seen in the last ten years.

I nearly put City Slickers into this list of films, but recalled it was When Harry met Sally which introduced me to Billy Crystal, so if you do watch When Harry met Sally and enjoy it, take a look at City Slickers too.

Download When Harry met Sally… from iTunes.

Get When Harry met Sally… at Amazon.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #01 – Full Metal Jacket

Last year I did a musical advent calendar that I posted to Google+ and a final summary on this blog. This year on a similar theme I will be posting a cinematic advent calendar of twenty four films. It is in no particular order and I make no apologies for the films that I am posting. These are films that I really like and have enjoyed at the cinema. Some have been sheer enjoyment and others have had more of an impact.

Back in the 1980s there was a plethora of films about the Vietnam War, from the intriguing Apocalypse Now, the brutal Platoon and the lightweight Good Morning Vietnam, the one Vietnam War film I remember more than the others was Full Metal Jacket.

Full Metal Jacket

From the brutality of the Marine training camp to the pointlessness of the horror of Vietnam, this film for me covers the awfulness of war and the impact it has on the men and women who take part and the unfortunate civilians who get caught up in it all. The harshness of basic training reminds us that it is the very young that get sent to fight the wars, often they have no idea of what they are doing or why they are doing it. Joker’s helmet with the CND peace symbol and “born to kill” is a dichotomy that is often explored in the film. The futility of the fighting is demonstrated again and again with the subsequent waste of life on both sides. A film that shows off many of the horrors of modern warfare and the violence that one would see, there is within the film a lot of dark humour and you can feel guilty smiling or even laughing at the humour.

Beautifully filmed and very cinematic, from a technical perspective when you realise that most of the movie was filmed in the UK you can really appreciate the film makers art. The Norfolk Broads was where the paddy fields of Vietnam were filmed, whilst the ruined building scenes with the sniper were made in the London docklands!

Full Metal Jacket

As war films go this one is probably one of the best, it is a powerful, unsentimental assault on the senses and leaves one reeling. I don’t think I had the same feelings until I saw the opening sequences of Saving Private Ryan. Though it is nearly fifty years since the Vietnam War, it is still for many people one of the turning points in history, where popular opinion turned against the government policy of the day and ended an unpopular war. The films of the Vietnam war in the 1980s reminded a new generation of the horror of that war, sometimes we need reminding.

Download Full Metal Jacket from iTunes.

Get Full Metal Jacket at Amazon.