TIME FOR A BREAK


Time for a short break folks. Stretch your legs, help yourselves to some sweets from the concession stand and chat among yourselves for a bit.

Fear not, The Fast Picture Show will return soon.





The Festive Film Quiz: Volume 5

Yes, The Festive Film Quiz, now a permanent fixture in the Christmas season, is back again! The format is starting to look tired and out-of-date now, but hey! It never stopped the Pirates of the Caribbean or Transformers franchises so if you can’t beat ‘em……

In time-honoured fashion, there are 80 points at stake. Also in time-honoured fashion there are zero prizes. Except of course the chance to stand proudly, if a little drunkenly, atop your kitchen table and do a victory dance! That's fun even if you're on your own!
"Maybe if I pretend to be asleep, this guy will go away"
Disclaimer: The Fast Picture Show accepts no responsibility for any quiz-related arguments that result in name-calling, finger-pointing, hair-pulling, food-fights, fist-fights, sobbing in the toilets, dredging up of old family feuds, revelations of true parentage, or any incidents which result in injury, coma or death.


QUESTIONS

Round 1: The Christmas Round
It’s all about A Christmas Carol, ye humbugs! Dickens’ classic story has been adapted many times for the screen. All you have to do is tell me who played the Scrooge character in the following adaptations? 
  1. The classic 1951 version A Christmas Carol
  2. The Muppet Christmas Carol
  3. Scrooged
  4. The 1970 musical version Scrooge 
  5. A Sesame Street Christmas Carol (obvious when you think about it…)
  6. Robert Zemeckis’ computer-animated 2009 version A Christmas Carol 
  7. Mickey’s Christmas Carol
  8. Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (there’s a clue in the title…)
Round 2: In Recent Memory
All answers relate to films released in the UK in the last 12 months. Stop pickling your short term memory with that cheap lager and answer these.

"I have no memory of this last year"


  1. What film, eventually, won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2017?
  2. “The Mole”, “The Sea”, “The Air”. The film?
  3. What was the biggest worldwide box-office hit in 2017?
  4. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman shared the screen in two films this year. Name them both.
  5. The latest instalment in the Alien franchise burst meekly onto our screens. It was called…?
  6. The Disaster Artist was a good film about the making of an absolutely terrible one. Which one?
  7. It (ie the film It) surprised everyone by being quite good. But who took over from Tim Curry in the role of Pennywise?
  8. Which John Denver song popped up in Okja, Free Fire and Kingsman: The Golden Circle this year?
Round 3: Fight! Fight! Fight!
To celebrate family feuding at Christmas time, complete the film titles below by providing the missing opponent.
  1. Kramer Vs…
  2. Scott Pilgrim Vs…
  3. Alien Vs…
  4. Monsters Vs…
  5. King Kong Vs…
  6. Dinocroc Vs…
  7. The People Vs…
  8. Tucker and Dale Vs…
Round 4: First Name Terms
Some well-known film characters below. But do you know the character’s first names?
  1. Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  2. Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket
  3. Lt Ripley in the Alien movies
  4. Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films
  5. Dr Zhivago in Dr Zhivago
  6. Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now
  7. Goldfinger in Goldfinger
  8. Fr Karras in The Exorcist
Round 5: Who’s Da Man?
Many men have played men in films about men. But who was the man who played the titular man in these films about men? You’re no man if you don’t get these.
  1. The Man with the Golden Gun
  2. The Man From Laramie
  3. The Man Who Wasn’t There
  4. The Man Without a Face
  5. The Man With Two Brains
  6. The Man Who Would Be King
  7. The Man Who Fell to Earth
  8. The Man With The Golden Arm
Round 6: Musical round
For each of the following films an artist or group were asked to provide the soundtrack and/or score. In each case name the musical act. Award bonus points for any impromptu karaoke.
  1. Flash Gordon
  2. The Graduate
  3. Tron Legacy
  4. Saturday Night Fever
  5. About a Boy
  6. The Princess Bride
  7. Attack the Block
  8. The Last Temptation of Christ
Round 7: The Connections Round
The fiendish horned viper once again casts his beady Eye of Horus upon you. Better try these before he strikes...
  1. Why would Guns ‘n’ Roses not be happy with these films? 50 50, Face Off, Self Less, Frost Nixon.
  2. What is the masculine directorial connection between Marty, Manhunter and The Naked Spur?
  3. What’s the watery connection between these films?
  4. What have these films got in common? (that oversized letter is a clue...)
  5. What connects the following films? You Only Live Twice, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Terminator: Genisys
  6. Why would Murder, Roller, Thunder and Money make you think of Bobby?
  7. Why would the following characters be comfortable in Steve Buscemi’s directorial debut?
  8. What comes next in this sequence: Moonlight; 3, Spotlight; 2, Birdman; 4, ……
Round 8: Twins
In which film did the following actors play twins? In which film did the following actors play twins? See what I did there? See what I did there?
  1. Jeremy Irons
  2. Mike Myers
  3. Jean-Claude van Damme
  4. Christian Bale
  5. Bette Midler
  6. Tom Hardy
  7. Lee Marvin
  8. Olivia de Havilland
Round 9: The Fake News Round
The following are titles of fictional films referenced or seen in real films. In each case name the real film that the fake one appears in.
  1. Chubby Rain
  2. Habeas Corpus
  3. Stab
  4. The Equestrian Vortex
  5. The Orchid Thief
  6. Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season
  7. The Dancing Cavalier
  8. Coming Home in a Body Bag
Round 10 : The Final Bastard Hard Either-you-know-it-or-you-don’t Round
  1. Which Champions League-winning football manager has a brief cameo in Star Trek Beyond?
  2. At the time of writing, who is the only person to date to win an Oscar for Screenwriting and for Acting
  3. Dirty Dancing is so well known and popular, so you must know who directed it, yes?
  4. In 2017, which indie film broke Rotten Tomatoes record (previously held by Toy Story 2) for the most positive reviews without a single negative one?
  5. The film The Fall of a Nation (1916) is widely considered to be the first…what?
  6. What was the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (in 2001)?
  7. Many readers will fondly remember their VHS recorders which chewed and whirred their way through many classic videotapes in the 80s and early 90s. But what does VHS stand for?
  8. What film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2017?



ANSWERS

Have you got your excuses ready? Okay, all will now be revealed 

Round 1: The Christmas Round
  1. Alastair Sim
  2. Michael Caine
  3. Bill Murray
  4. Albert Finney
  5. Oscar the Grouch
  6. Jim Carrey
  7. Scrooge McDuck
  8. Daffy Duck
Round 2: In Recent Memory
  1. Moonlight
  2. Dunkirk
  3. Beauty & the Beast
  4. The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  5. Alien: Covenant
  6. The Room
  7. Bill Skarsgard
  8. Annie’s Song
Round 3: Fight! Fight! Fight!
  1. Kramer Vs…Kramer
  2. Scott Pilgrim Vs…the World
  3. Alien Vs…Predator
  4. Monsters Vs…Aliens
  5. King Kong Vs…Godzilla (Note: while Godzilla took first billing in many stompy monster smackdown movies, this is the only film title with King Kong Vs [opponent].
  6. Dinocroc Vs…Supergator (yes, this is a Syfy classic)
  7. The People Vs…Larry Flynt
  8. Tucker and Dale Vs…Evil
Round 4: First Name Terms
  1. Mildred Ratched
  2. Leonard Pyle
  3. Ellen Ripley
  4. Jacques Clouseau
  5. Yuri Zhivago
  6. Walter E. Kurtz
  7. Auric Goldfinger
  8. Damian Karras
Round 5: Who’s Da Man?
  1. Christopher Lee
  2. James Stewart
  3. Billy Bob Thornton
  4. Mel Gibson
  5. Steve Martin
  6. Sean Connery
  7. David Bowie
  8. Frank Sinatra
Round 6: Musical round
  1. Queen
  2. Simon & Garfunkel
  3. Daft Punk
  4. The Bee Gees
  5. Badly Drawn Boy
  6. Mark Knopfler
  7. Basement Jaxx
  8. Peter Gabriel
Round 7: The Connections Round
  1. The titles are each missing a slash. 50/50, Face/Off, Self/Less, Frost/Nixon. (Guns 'n' Roses guitarist is Slash, in case you didn't get that convoluted clue)  
  2. All directed by a Mann; Delbert Mann, Michael Mann, Anthony Mann respectively 
  3. Swordfish, Ray, The Squid & the Whale, The Lobster are all marine creatures.
  4. They all share titles with songs by the big O, Roy Orbison
  5. Each is the fifth entry in their respective movie franchises.
  6. Ball. Murderball, Rollerball, Thunderball, Moneyball. Bobby Ball. Rock on Tommy!
  7. Willow, Ash, Hazel, Laurel are all trees, so they could relax in Buscemi's Trees Lounge.
  8. 12 Years a Slave; 3. Best Picture Oscars winners in reverse order from 2017 and number of total Oscars won.
Round 8: Twins
  1. Dead Ringers
  2. The Austin Powers films (although we only learn in Goldmember that Austin Powers and Dr Evil are twins)
  3. Double Impact (and also Maximum Risk, award yourself an extra victory sip if you got that. Replicant does not count as he has a clone in that, not a true twin)
  4. The Prestige
  5. Big Business (with Lily Tomlin , who also played twins)
  6. Legend
  7. Cat Ballou
  8. The Dark Mirror
Round 9: The Fake News Round
  1. Bowfinger
  2. The Player
  3. Scream 2 (no points for Scream)
  4. Berberian Sound Studio
  5. Adaptation
  6. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
  7. Singin’ in the Rain
  8. True Romance
Round 10 : The Final Bastard Hard Either-you-know-it-or-you-don’t Round
  1. Carlo Ancelotti
  2. Emma Thompson (Best Actress for Howard’s End and Best Screenplay for Sense & Sensibility)
  3. Emile Ardolino
  4. Lady Bird
  5. The first movie sequel (to The Birth of a Nation, released a year earlier)
  6. Shrek
  7. Video Home System
  8. Swedish film The Square.


HOW DID YOU DO?



Well I hope that passed a few moments happily. Or passed a few moments at least.
In the unlikely event you would want to put your brain through more torture, you can view previous instalments of the Festive Film Quiz here.

Meanwhile, I'm off to put on my Santa disguise and steal booze from the Christmas party next door

A Merry Christmas to one and all! 


Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)

What's it about? After the events of The Force Awakens, Rey is hoping to be TRAINED in the ways of the Force by Luke Skywalker, the First Order is chasing the Rebellion ACROSS the galaxy and EVERYONE is hoping this will TURN out to be as good as The Empire Strikes Back.


Is it any good? *Turns blog's security setting to maximum force-field power* 
At the risk of being hunted down across the galaxy by alien bounty hunters, I wasn't too enthused about The Last Jedi. In fact, the more I think about it the more disappointed I am. I've decided the main problem is bad storytelling. The basic ingredients are there for a better story but, like Yoda's speech patterns, they're put together awkwardly, resulting in a film that's less than a sum of its parts and actually a bit dull at times.  That's despite the fact that lots of things do happen, but few of them stir the emotions sufficiently to get that excited about it.

It's unfortunate for the cast, who did such good work to inject freshness into the franchise last time round. For example, the charismatic John Boyega is underused here and poorly served by his allocation to the weakest piece of the film - a superfluous subplot about finding a code-breaker in an intergalactic casino. Likewise Oscar Isaac gets little chance to develop Poe Dameron into a worthy cocksure successor to Han Solo. Conversely, Princess Leia gets far too much screen-time in this part of the story, which one can only assume is as extended tribute to Carrie Fisher who died shortly after filming. Unfortunately, what might have been a fitting send-off is ruined in one of the silliest moments of the film. Elsewhere, the master-student relationship between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Luke (Mark Hamill) is all a bit ho-hum and the potential of the conflicted Kylo Ren storyline is not satisfyingly delivered upon, despite good work by Adam Driver. The common denominator in the underwhelming nature of these elements is the clumsiness of writing, which delivers unmemorable dialogue, unconvincing plot and little character development.
It's a pity, because there's still plenty of spectacle, particularly in the visually impressive climactic battle and in the splendid Irish scenery which will have the Irish Tourist Board wetting themselves with excitement. But's it a hollow spectacle when you don't really care what happens. All that said, my Jedi-like senses were alerted by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) - I'll be keeping my eye on him in Episode IX for a Big Twist. You heard it here first.

While The Force Awakens was basically a retread of the original Star Wars, it is clear The Last Jedi wanted to cleverly subvert the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Laudable ambitions, but if you're going to play around with the best film in the whole saga you had better make sure to deliver something clever and subversive enough. There are just too many misjudged moments in a tonally confused film to meet those ambitions. As Yoda might conclude 'The Empire Strikes Back this film is not'.


I don't trust you, you Rebel scum. What do others think? There's nowt as strange as Star Wars fans. While critics have mainly praised the film (>90% on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences have been much more divided (around 56% on the same site). Many have the same reservations I have shared above, although my brain hasn't exploded with the sheer unfairness of it all. For a film so concerned with Light and Dark, there's a helluva lot of grey area up for discussion.

What does the Fonz think? The Fonz has unfortunately been frozen in carbonite by Jabba the Hutt, so we have asked special guest reviewer Admiral Ackbar for his opinion

What does Admiral Ackbar think?


2017 TV round-up

Film-viewing took a bit of a battering this year, losing out to some quality TV drama. The Fast Picture Show dips its toe in TV waters with a round-up of 10 quality TV shows from 2017. In brackets are where I watched them, but they are presumably available through various outlets, including (whsiper) illegal streaming sources.

The Handmaid's Tale (Channel 4)


By a country mile, the best drama of the year. A brilliantly realised and superbly acted adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel, which, scarily, is really not that futuristic or dystopian at all. Intelligent, chilling and all-too-relevant to the world around us today. So good I even let my wife watch it.

The Vietnam War (BBC4)



A brilliant documentary series, tackling a complex subject with clarity, balance, scope and integrity. Talking heads from both sides of the conflict provide individual perspective, whilst archive footage catalogs the tragic and often distressing events on the battlefield, and the politics surrounding the whole thing before, during and afterwards. Outstanding.

The Deuce (Sky Atlantic)



From the creators of The Wire and Treme comes another excellent ensemble piece, this time focused on the rise of the sex industry in 70s New York. Centred around 42nd Street (the Deuce of the title), this recreates the setting brilliantly in all its sleazy, grimy glory. As you'd expect, there's some frank sexual content, but for the most part this is presented in a non-titillating, matter-of-fact manner. With great performances and intelligent scripting, this is TV for adults, in every sense of the word. Fantastic soundtrack too, not least Curtis Mayfield's theme tune

Mindhunter (Netflix)



Producer David Fincher returns to the world of serial killers for this based-on-fact dramatization of how the FBI established their behavioural science unit. The characters and writing are strong, but the  real fascination here is in the recreation of the interviews the FBI investigators carried out with real-killers like Ed Kemper (brilliantly played by Cameron Britton), Jerry Brudos and Richard Speck in order to understand the mind of a killer. You'll end up googling them to find out more - better not eat dinner before you do that.

Ozark (Netflix)



Jason Bateman plays serious as a money launderer for a drug cartel forced to relocate with his family to the Ozarks. There he must pretend to be an upstanding member of the community whilst he continues his shady operations. Great setting and a nicely amoral anti-hero could make this the next Breaking Bad.

Twin Peaks Season 3 (Sky Atlantic)


David Lynch clearly wrote down all the things that fans of the show wanted to see in the long-awaited return.....and then delivered none of that at all. Over 18 often bewildering hours, it was admittedly too meandering for its own good, but when it was good, it was terrific. Episode 8 is one of the most baffling and brilliant hours of TV that you're ever likely to see. Mad as a box of mutant frogs, for sure, but like nothing else on telly. It won't be for everyone, but pretty much essential viewing for Twin Peaks fans.

Stranger (Netflix)



A terrific Korean murder-mystery which sees a dispassionate prosecutor and empathetic police detective team up to uncover a complex plot. Brilliant acting, good characterization, and twists and turns throughout make this one to check out if you're not scared of subtitles.

Game of Thrones Season 7


Now that the TV series has overtaken the source novels, there's less depth and breadth to the continuing saga, but the makers are too good at this now to bollix it up completely. Some dodgy moments of plot development aside, this is still terrifically entertaining stuff.

Mr Mercedes (RTE)



Adapted from Stephen King's novel this is a serviceable cat-and-mouse thriller about a retired detective taunted by the killer from a case he never solved. What elevates it to greater heights is a magnificently gruff performance from Brendan Gleeson as the flawed cop who sees his chance at redemption. Expect another series.

The Sinner (Netflix)



Gets a bit silly, and very dependent on that staple plot device of amnesia to drive things along, but still an entertaining 'whydunnit'. From the outset we know that a young mother (Jessica Biel) has violently killed an apparent stranger, but she has no idea why she did. A seasoned detective (Bill Pullman) helps her unravel her past in satisfying enough fashion.


AND ONE TO AVOID....


The OA (Netflix) is shockingly bad stuff. After an initially promising hook this degenerates into a tedious, confusing supernatural-ish pish, culminating in a scene where people prevent a school massacre through the power of interpretive dance. It actually reminded me of the excellent John Irving novel A Prayer for Owen Meany. Imagine a TV adaptation of that, only really, really crap.

Okay, that's enough telly, back to some films.


Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi, 2017)

What's it about? Lord....er, sorry....God of Thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must again save Asgard from destruction, this time at the hands of his war-mongering sister Hela (Cate Blanchett). Along the way Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) all turn up for the ride.


Is it any good? Enormous fun, thanks mainly to the comic sensibilities of director Waititi. Clearly aware of the absurdity of the story he's telling, he revels in the inherent silliness, eschewing anything as po-faced as depth or politics in favour of slapstick and jokes. All of which is very funny, as fans of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows might expect, but crucially never derisory or cynical about the characters. Taking their lead from him, the cast are all on good comic form, with Hemsworth in particular relishing the chance to display his funny bone as well as his physique. It's Waititi himself who steals the show, though, voicing the benevolent revolutionary rock-monster Korg who gets the best lines and the biggest laughs.
"It's me! Taika! The director?"
Of course, it's stopped short of being an out-and-out comedy by the somewhat inflexible Marvel movie template, which demands regular beats of crash-bang-wallop action, crossover franchise cameos and no small amount of CGI. In these moments, competent though they are, Thor:Ragnarok does little to differentiate itself from its MCU counterparts, even with the smart use of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song as accompaniment. Neither is Blanchett given much to do except look pretty fabulous in her black villain head-dress. Nonetheless, Waititi's achievements in blending his own inimitable style with the all-conquering Marvel brand is perhaps only matched in the MCU by Shane Black with the similarly comic Iron Man 3. It's an impressive balancing act, although no doubt Waititi would want to end it with a funny pratfall.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Last time I looked, this had an impressive 95% at Rotten Tomatoes, the highest score for any Marvel movie to date, demonstrating that it's a big hit with critics as well as audiences. Comic-book nerds...er...fans are pleased that the well-regarded Planet Hulk storyline has been spliced into the plot, but Waititi himself has indicated that camp 80s classics Flash Gordon and Big Trouble in Little China were big influences, which should tell you something about the tone the film adopts. All it's missing is Brian Blessed bellowing in a valkyrie outfit!

What does the Fonz think? Stop Laughing! It's Hammertime!