The Thing (1982)

I bought a wonderful version of John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing for my mum for Christmas this year.  It came in a gift box, exclusive to HMV, that looks like a VHS when you pull it out the sleeve.  I completely fooled her.  She’s a lover of the good old VHS casettes and she said “Thank goodness I’ve still got my VHR.”  Then she realised that it wasn’t a real VHS but 2 DVDs, one blu ray and one Ultra HD DVD (to future proof the ‘VHS’ even further).  I’m terribly saddened that HMV has gone into administration again, I’ll go and buy a load more VHS gifts from the Staines store before it closes because these gifts are diamonds.

Anyway, onto the film.  It was our Christmas day film.  We put it on once my dad had gone to bed, we’d completed our puzzle and settled down on the sofa for our evening chill; full of food and port.  I’ve never seen The Thing so I was keen to watch it and David and my mum were excited to see it again and share it with me.

The film is based in an Antarctic research station, which hosts Kurt Russell’s character and his crew of scientists.  It starts off with a helicoptor trying to shoot a husky running through the snow, which I must admit which upset me slightly, (I’m glad they missed!) before I started to realise there was something a bit weird with the dog.  Without giving away all the details, but it’s hard not to, it’s a film about aliens and the fight for survival when the aliens try to take over using humans (and any creature they can find!) to disguse themselves.  It reveals an unnerving way that aliens could potentially trick people into thinking they weren’t there when they were really taking over the world!

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Looking down on the newly discovered space ship in the Antarctic

It’s quite a gory film and I do love a bit of gore.  However, I do not recommend it when effectively in a food coma and feeling slightly nausious already after too much Christmas food & drinks.  For his time, The Thing‘s director, John Carpenter, was incredibly inventive in his use of special effects and filming techniques to get superb effects.  They get some fantastic shots of aliens attacking living beings and getting inside people and copious amounts of blood, guts and gore without using the usual boring CGI that we see all the time now.  I’d recommend the film on these grounds, it’s a wonderful specimine of fine film making.

Another thing (lol), apart from the special effects, that makes this film scary/thrilling is that it’s set in the Antarctic, so far far away from the rest of the world that there is literally no hope for rescue or survival.  This group of men, who don’t normally work together, need to work together, putting their egos aside, to figure out who could be disgused as an alien and who isn’t, in an attemp to save the world and stop the aliens from reaching civilisation.

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Kurt Russell as Macready in The Thing

 

It is very clear throughout, to us and the characters, what their fate is, yet they never give up, try to put their emotions aside, work together (eventually!) and is a real test of their strength and humanity.  It was a hugely enjoyable film.

As mentioned above, this was a special addition DVD set from HMV (hugely recommend this collectors addition, but go and buy it asap!).  It is also available if you have a free trial or subscription of Studio Universal Classics (via Amazon Prime) otherwise you can rent it for £3.49.  It’s available currently for free included in Sky Cinema or if you have Now TV.

All my love & films
Jen xxx

 

It’s a Wonderful Life

Image result for it's a wonderful lifeHAPPY NEW YEAR, FILM LOVERS! I wanted to bring in the new year with a Christmas film which I watched for the first time last year and kick off 2019 with a review of a story which holds a lovely message.

It’s a Wonderful life is a truly wonderful film made by Frank Capra and is beautifully written and beautifully made.  It is the Christmas movie which will survive all Christmas films and should be watched year on year.  It is an ageless black and white Hollywood classic which will be passed down through generations to remind everyone of the true spirit of Christmas and how each and every one of us should try to live our lives.  It has become the annual festive film for many families and will remain to be for many years to come.

It starts off with a slightly cringey, outdated image of some stars talking about what’s going on down on earth and whether an angel needs to be sent to help out in order for the angel to earn his wings.  Even with this cringey image to start off, the film outdoes itself and makes up for it in so many other ways.

The story revolves around the life of George Bailey, played by James Stewart, who is a lovely young boy with many life plans, dreams and wishes as he grows up.  He wants to travel the world and go to college and life a wonderful and fulfilling life.  However, he ultimately ends up sacrificing everything for others as curveballs keep coming his way and he has to keep putting off the life he wants to live.  He has responsibilities at home which he can’t leave at his father’s building society, marrying his child hood sweetheart, played by Donna Reid, and keeping the town happy following an unfortunate misplacing of a large sum of money.

It’s a Wonderful Life is sentimental, touching, joyous and incredibly romantic; everything we look for in a Christmas film.  In a way, the film is like a modern day A Christmas Carol, only in reverse.  The “ghost” shows him what life for everyone would be like without him and his wonderful and happy ways, if he was not born.  Instead of a horrible old man being shown to buck up his ideas, it tells the story of a hero who needs picking up again from despair .

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Not only is it a Christmas film, I truly believe we should watch this any time of the year when needing a pick-me-up (I watched it back in July!!).  Or if we need a little reminder of what people could be like when we find humanity hauls us into despair.  Frank Capra didn’t ever intend it to be a Christmas film so we should watch it as we will.  It was his first film after returning back from the war and wanted to make a film which celebrated ordinary people who did amazing things for others. 

It’s such a gem and I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to see it.  If you’ve not seen it, make it a priority, don’t wait for next Christmas!

It’s a Wonderful Life fell out of copyright many years ago so should be easy to find as most platforms will have it free to view.  I watched it on Sky Movies.

All my love & films
Jen xxx

The Apartment

Image result for the apartment filmThe Apartment is another Billy Wilder classic featuring the marvellous Jack Lemmon as a C.C. Baxter, a bachelor working as an underwriter in an insurance company in New York.  He allows his senior colleagues to  ‘borrow’ his apartment in the evenings whilst entertaining other ladies that they want to keep on the down low from their wives.

I went into this film having no knowledge of the plot or having read anything about it, seen any trailers or reviews.  I enjoyed it much more before because of it.  I became very invested in the main character and in trying to figure him out.  The Apartment is supposed to be a comedy but in a way it’s actually quite tragic and I ended up feeling very sorry for Baxter the majority of the film.  He struggles with a lack of pride and allows himself to be downtrodden by those at work who are more senior and feel they can walk all over him as they have ultimate power over him and his job.  It demonstrates just how brutal the goings ons behind office doors in the city are.  Fred MacMurray stars as C.C. Baxter’s cheating boss.  Baxter also doesn’t care if his neighbours think badly of him and he doesn’t care to correct them when they get the wrong end of the stick.  He is unassertive and just does what he needs to do to get by.  Jack Lemmon plays this gentleman so sublimely that he is an unlikely hero.  You can do nothing but fall in love with his character, especially when he’s full of cold.

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The Apartment swings drastically from ‘rom-‘ to ‘com-‘ exploring a huge range of audience emotions and reactions.  As the film develops, the focus becomes less on the funny Apartment antics and more on the relationship that Jacks character develops with elevator opperator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) and he gradually starts to fall in love with her unwittingly facing complications down the line.  A glimmer of fun still remains there throughout.

Billy Wilder plays wonderfully with the idea of affairs and sexual antics in how the script is crafted and the film is shot.  Something that was considered a risk back in the 50s.  There are no obvious comments or remarks about the immorality of it all and it leaves speculation to the viewer.

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It’s such a pleasure to watch as Baxer starts to stand up for himself and claw back the control that others have over him and his apartment.  The Apartment is where the majority of the film is set and really is a beautiful film which is still so relevant and entertaining still today.  The film takes the long nights of winter and you start to think a lot about the people who are alone in the cold, dark evenings around the Christmas period, like C.C. Baxter.  I’m honestly not sure why this isn’t considered a Christmas film!

The film claimed FIVE Oscars at the Academy Awards, including for best picture.  It also scores top marks from me and I grow ever more enamoured with Billy Wilder’s films and Jack Lemmon.

We watched The Apartment on Sky Cinema as we couldn’t find it free of charge anywhere else, the DVD is available on Amazon.

All my love and films,
Jen xxx