Paperman

A lovely short film, reminds me a lot of Pixar shorts and also reminds me that Disney can be more than just Disney when they want to.

Introducing a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, first-time director John Kahrs takes the art of animation in a bold new direction with the Oscar®-nominated short, “Paperman.” Using a minimalist black-and-white style, the short follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him.

Changes on the High Street

Changes on the High Street

In the last few weeks we have seen a fair few high street names go into administration, Jessops, Comet, Blockbuster and HMV to name but four. The high street as we know it is changing, across society (including social media) people have been expressing their sadness in regard to these changes.

These are a few thoughts, not necessarily coherent or logical, but just a few thoughts.

We (as a society) are responsible for these changes on the high street. If we make the choice to shop at Tesco or online at Amazon, we shouldn’t be surprised that the high street changes.

If we (as a society) only go to 99pLand, Poundstretcher, Wilkinsons and similar cheap shops can we be surprised when the up-market retailers (as well as the independents) go to the wall and close down.

We (as a society) can make things change if we want to, look at places like Totnes where local stores thrive and chains are virtually non-existent. If you want your local stores to survive then shop there, actions speak louder than words. However as has been pointed out to me, local and independent usually means more expensive. This is fine if you earn enough to make that financial choice, alas much of society has become accustomed to low prices and as a result find it difficult and challenging to adjust to higher prices. There are also a fair few elements of society who are unable to pay the higher prices too.

We seem to now have a society where we are more concerned about prices and ignore the value of good service, local provision and the quality of what we are actually buying.

I am just as guilty as everyone else.

Then again, all this change may be normal.

Where are all the blacksmiths?

Why do we not worry about the lack of haberdasheries?

Who cares about the coal merchants?

Maybe we’ve forgotten in recent years that big chains are a recent phenomena. We use to be surrounded by independent retailers, but they were driven from the high street by the big chains. Big chains don’t always have the flexibility and dynamism that small places can have.

Or was it something else?

HMV, Jessops, Woolworths all failed to respond to changes in society, they failed to see the impact that the internet would have on our buying habits? Or did they realise that even if they wanted to respond, they couldn’t because of the high costs of leases on the high street. Locked into paying for leases that meant margins needed to be high. They had no choice, they couldn’t compete on price, we didn’t care about service, they were doomed to fail. Over recent years they managed to survive, but finally they couldn’t get the credit they needed, they had to close. I wonder if the landlords were only thinking about short term gains, as empty shops pay no rent over the long term.

Of course we mustn’t just blame the internet, the other big change in our society is the supermarket, no longer a place to buy groceries, it sells clothes, DVDs, CDs, phones, furniture and electrical goods. Why go anywhere else when we can just visit our local supermarket. They also seem to be getting more and more local too. No, I am not talking about the metro, the local and express variants, but the sheer number of supermarkets everywhere. New ones are been built all the time, and local objections seem to be ignored, once open they become very popular.

Nor are the supermarkets and the internet the only cause here, the big out of town shopping malls have their part to play too.

Our high streets are changing, expensive coffee shops, charity shops, pound shops, pawn brokers, bookies, pasty shops. This is our high street, the one we made, the one we got when we decided that the mall, the supermarket and the internet was the place to shop.

So do we care? Should we care?

Live Action Toy Story

This was certainly a project that took some time, it’s a remake of Toy Story, but using actual toys, real people, string and stop-motion animation.

Very clever.

Via Wired.

Sorry, 1959?

So there I was shopping in Bristol and popped into BHS and I saw this T-shirt.

I’m sorry, but 1959?

Am I living in a parallel universe or what, as I am pretty sure that the moon landing was in 1969!

Oh and is that a space shuttle too?

Cinematic Advent Calendar #24 – Back to the Future

Well here we are, the final entry in the Advent Calendar. The films in this series have been in no particular order or placed where they are because they are artistic or have merit. These are films I like, some have personal memories, other have had a profound impact. Many are just great films, good stories or are just plain fun.

“Great Scott!”

Back to the Future is a fun film. I love this story of time travel, paradoxes and all those things that should be in a time travel film. Oh and there’s a DeLorean too!

Back to the Future DeLorean

It has been copied many times since, but nothing has come close to what is a great fun film. Michael J Fox plays the role of the nerdy kid brilliantly. I think one of the reasons I like this film is that I am roughly the same age as Marty McFly and that resonates. I do like the two sequels, but they never come close to the original.

Get Back to the Future at Amazon.

Get Back to the Future at iTunes

Back to the Future

Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part III

So there we go, that’s twenty-four films that I like what do you like? There were a number of films outside those presented over the last twenty four days that I also like. Well Pan’s Labyrinth was a contender, however I have only watched it once and not at the cinema. It’s a beautiful film with a disturbing fantasy feel to it. I would have probably put It’s a Wonderful Life in the list and I would like to have seen that at the cinema too. So what have I missed that would have been in your list?

Cinematic Advent Calendar #23 – Dances with Wolves

Cinematic Advent Calendar #23 - Dances with Wolves

To be honest even I was surprised to find two Kevin Costner films in my list of films. I know when you mention Kevin Costner people think of The Postman and Waterworld, but before those two post-apocalyptic movies there was The Untouchables, Field of Dreams and Dances with Wolves.

I really do like this film, though to really appreciate it you really need to see it at the cinema. This is a cinematic film, from the Buffalo herds to the vast openness of the plains, it certainly doesn’t look as good when viewed on your standard TV.

This is a story of a soldier discovering the beauty of the American west and the native people who live there. I actually do like the length of what many consider to be an overlong film, I think it adds that depth that makes this film an epic masterpiece. I do like the story about discovery, understanding, friendship and devotion.

Alongside is the soundtrack, which everytime I hear it reminds me of the vast epic views in the film.

Get Dances with Wolves on iTunes.

Get Dances with Wolves at Amazon.

By the way, in case you were wondering, my indian name is Dances with Badgers, now that’s another story.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #22 – Brazil

I initially had this down as 1984, even thought about V for Vendetta, but when I thought about it, from a cinematic perspective I like Brazil best out of those three films. 1984 is a great film, but is an incredible book, especially when you consider it was written in 1948. A powerful vision of a dystopian future where Big Brother knows all and there is not just no freedom, but no freedom of thought. However though I think the book is superb, I am less enamoured by the film.

Brazil, which has a similar dystopian future to 1984, is much more surreal, but also contains more humour. In many ways it is just as bleak as 1984.

Brazil

Brazil certainly has an interesting cast, and I certainly would not have made the casting choices. Having said that I do think it works. Robert De Niro does an excellent job as the air conditioning engineer, Tuttle.

The fantasy scenes are intriguing, but for me do work well and contrast with the greyness and drabness of the “real” world. I also love the ending, which is really clever and I remember been genuinely surprised.

If you enjoyed V for Vendetta, or have seen 1984, then do check out Brazil.

Get Brazil at Amazon.

Download Brazil at iTunes.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #21 – A Few Good Men

Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessup

“You can’t handle the truth!”

Though featuring Marines and Navy officers, this film is a legal drama, it’s about a courtroom battle not a military battle. Of course this is Hollywood, so it probably bears no resemblance to reality, but does that matter? It’s a film not a documentary. For example most courts martial take place in plain simple rooms, not ornate courtrooms, and those dramatic lawyer moments just don’t happen. Despite that, this is a great film.

Of course part of the reason is that the screenplay (and the play the film was based on) was written by Aaron Sorkin, who in my opinion has written some fantastic screenplays and television. I really liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and the West Wing. I was disappointed when Studio 60 was cancelled, as I thought it had a lot of potential. The West Wing was also excellent television and extremely well written. A Few Good Men was of course written well before these televisual delights.

This for me is Jack Nicholson’s best film, likewise Tom Cruise and Demi Moore are really good, and though they could dominate the film, they don’t. They share the screen with their co-stars and as a result this isn’t a star driven picture, this is a story driven one.

Get A Few Good Men at Amazon.

Download A Few Good Men at iTunes.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #20 – Blade Runner

Cinematic Advent Calendar #20 - Blade Runner

I know some out there will be saying, okay which version? I’ve no idea, I can never remember which is the theatrical version, the authentic version, the Director’s version, the version that some guy from the backlot of Paramount did in his spare time… I didn’t know (checking Wikipedia) that there are seven versions of the film.

Regardless of the version, I do like this dark vision of the future, the bleakness and the fact it is always raining.

I was going to talk about the “plot twist” but I am afraid I might annoy people who’ve not seen the film. Let’s just say I didn’t even suspect that “plot twist” for at least ten years, until someone spelt it out for me. I am not sure if it ruined it for me, or opened my eyes.

Looking at the film now, you suddenly realise how young Harrison Ford looks in it, it’s also an interesting move for him from a career perspective. He really came to the fore as Han Solo in Star Wars, then he was the 1930s adventurer Indiana Jones. I personally think that the role of Deckard was the role that opened doors for Harrison enabling him to take on a whole series of straight dramatic roles.

This is a cinematic advent calendar, and alas this is one of the few films I didn’t see at the cinema and I wish I had. I must look out for it if it is shown in the future.

Download Blade Runner at iTunes.

Get the Blade Runner Ultimate Collection at Amazon.