2nd-4th September 2016 For the last few years, as a student and then a graduate from the University of Hull, I have seen firsthand how underrated the city of Hull is and how people’s perceptions are still influenced by old criticism, such as being top of the list in the 2003 book Crap Towns. This is an identity […]
I’m not a film bluff, so I don’t tend to watch many films or think that deep about Oscars. I prefer films under 2hours. Unexpectedly I have watched two films (La La Land and Manchester by the sea) in the last two weeks with Oscar nominations and both were over 2 hours!
I preferred La La Land, it was a pleasant 2 hours and 8minutes. Both feature some of the grit of life, but La La Land, is about two people following their dreams and their romantic relationship. Whereas Manchester by sea flashes back and forth between two tragedies in the same family and is therefore a more somber film. At 2 hours 17 Manchester by the sea did feel like a long film. To be fair , I did watch Manchester by the Sea after a busy day at 8.25pm whereas, I watched La La Land earlier at 1745 so this may have contributed. I think Manchester by the Sea felt long to me because although it features, two major tragedies the actual tragicevents themselves, features minimally with the focus being the aftermath. The film is quite subtle in it action, mixing the practicalities of dealing with a death such as dealing with funeral and legal arrangements whilst also showing life going on for the teenage son of the deceased. This meant there was no natural end point to climax to, therefore at various points near the end I wondered if the film was going to fade out. But slightly disppoitingly failed to and continued.
Neither film arrives at a happy Hollywood ending, making both poignant. Manchester by the Sea ends with little being resolved, which is authentic in terms of the aftermath of a death, it would have not been in the spirit of the film to have a more dramatic ending. Not too much of a spoiler there but, please stop reading if you want to watch La La Land and be surprised by the ending. Unfortunately before watching, I accidently read a brief comment by Rachal Johnson which stated that the couple did not get together at the end. So when near the end of the film, it fasts forwards 5 years and you see them, not together that was not a surprise to me unlike for the lady next to me who I heard let out a cry signaling sadness that the couple had not ended up together. But, then the alternative film sequence started with the couple kissing upon first meeting. The kiss was a less realistic than the actual start, with him walking out on her and then several false starts before they finally got together. The alternative sequence after believing ,was being denied a happy ending felt magical and you wanted it to be true. The alternative version would not have made such a good film as it would have been less believable without the grit and perhaps annoyingly saccharine. Therefore, when she opens her eyes and you realize she had just been fantasising and they are not together it is a fantastic twist which, I got to enjoy because it would not have totally contradicted what I had read about the ending. I also enjoy the thought of how one moment, can change everything like in Sliding Doors.
It will come as no surprise, that overall I agree with La Land receiving more Oscars nominations than Manchester by the Sea (14 to 6) and also that in the categories of Best Picture and Original Screen play which both are nominated in; thst between just the two (not having seen the other nominees) then I would go for La La Land.
Manchester by the Sea’s main characters are male therefore, there was no chance of a nomination for best actress. Emma Stone for her portrayal of Mia in La La Land is nominated for Best Actress.
Both leading men (Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck) are nominated as best actor. Goslings role in La Land playing Sebastian, involved the challenges of singing and dancing. Whilst Casey Affleck role as Lee Chapman in Manchester on the Sea, on the surface appears more straight forward, he appears to be not expressing much. However, actually to create the socially in-edept character that he has without ruining it by overplaying it takes skill. Therefore in best male actor category I would go for Casey Affleck.
Both films are nominated for best director: Damien Chazelle for La La Land and Kenneth Lanerghan for Manchester by the Sea. I do not know enough about the impact of directors to judge who was most effective.
As La Land is so focused just on Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling there was no one else who played a big enough part to be worth of supporting actor / actress. Whereas Manchester by the sea although it is centered around Lee (Affleck) it more complex and a variety of characters play, their part in the film including Affleck’s boss in Boston giving him a hard time, to the ladies in Boston and Manchester who flirt with him, to Patrick (Lee’s nephew and his two girlfriends, Patrick’s Mum and Lee’s ex wife.
In the flashback scenes, I would have liked to have seen more of Lee’s brother who dies in the film, triggering Lee’s journey from Boston to Manchester. Initially his journey was aimed at one last goodbye then morphing into caring for Patrick on a temporary basis to shockingly for Lee, later being told he had been picked to be Patrick’s legal guardian. It would have been good for him to feature more to understand Lee and Patrick’s grief better. As it was it was left to Patrick’s character to throw in comments about his Dad. Alas when he says that ‘is or not what Dad would have wanted’ is it a true reflection of his Dad or is he just using the statements to try and influence his Uncle Lee? Lucas Hedges who plays Patrick, certainly has to display a range of emotions to deal with the death of his Father, the arrival of his Uncle as carer, aggressive side at hockey, his side with his two girlfriends including displaying sexual frustration and handling his estranged Mum and her new partner. He has been nominated for best supporting male which seems fairly justifiable and especial his portrayal of experiencing a panic attack.
Michelle Williams who plays Lee Chapman’s ex wife, has a nomination for best supporting actress. I may not disagree with this is, had it not been for the scene below where the attempt at crying was very weak. As Lee walked away her attempt at crying was merely holding her hand over her face. Until that point I had not had an issue with her acting.
I feel perhaps that the above scene, could have been more powerful with different dialogue. It may have been Lee who left the fire unattended however, it was mentioned in one scene about it being cold because of her health they used the fire rather than central heating; therefore this scene could have conveyed her guilt more.
Another one of the categories that La La Land has been nominated in, is costume design. Whilst watching La La Land my friends and I noticed Emma Stone’s fabulous dresses, not sure they quite count as costumes. Although when Emma goes to auditions she always has a different outfit and they do count as costumes! Similar to Carrie is Sex and the city, I’m not sure how at the start when she was a barista , going to auditions she could afford her wardrobe; so fabulous dresses but not authentic!
It may seem like, I have been more critical of Manchester by the sea than La La Land however I do, like Manchester by the sea. Manchester by sea is more complex in a good way, with more storylines, characters etc and hence more to comment on. Sometimes part of the fun with viewing is the thought and discussion afterwards of the good and the bad points!
One of Hull’s heros is Amy Johnson. I have not seen them, but there is statues of her on Prospect Street and near one of her homes in Hawthorn avenue. Untill March 2017 there are 30+ moths in Hull in her honour. Possibly after, the auction of them in April some will be bought and put back on display.
In 2010 there was a similar project to honour Hull poet Philip Larkin; Larkin with toads. I have seen two toads that remain in Hull; there may be more!
In the train station there is also a statue of Phillip Larkin.
Hull along with Beverley has white phone boxes instead of the usual red of the rest of the UK. It seems they also have one gold phone box; there is no explanation around it as to why it is gold.
The Land of Green Ginger is a street in the centre of Hull. It’s name possibly coming from the twising of the name, of a Dutch family that lived in Hull in the early 19th centruy. The family name was Lindegreen Jonger which means green lime street. Or perhapas, it references the spices that came into the nearby docks. A range of goods and people travelled to and through the docks. A sculpture along the Humber shows a faimly who have arrived at the docks from North Europe who then proceeded by train to Liverpool and from there by boat to America.
The family sculture is between the Humber and Hull’s marina which forward of Princess Quay shopping city.Walking away from the marina, towards the Deep in front of the pub, come to tables and benches with typical Hull phrases recorded.
Hull has many scultpures. the newest being the Blade in Queen Victoria Square which was positioned in January 2017 as part of city of culture. Before I went I had heard it was part of a theme of looking up, looking up from the ubiquitous phone and noticing what is going an around. The Blade is certainly big and therefore, causes people to gather, around it. It is not that high up; you can see it without lifiting your head. The highest part is the tip that, protrudes acrooss above the road. At least one of the emotions experincec by crowds in Queen Victoria Square , will be puzzlement. It is impressive in size but, other than that is rather stark with no adornment and a very simple shape some may consider it rather phalic like. It is for all to judge.
I was familiar with the opening lyrics of Iggy Pops chose life; I had probably first heard it about 20years ago so, I have had that long to hear it. But in 2017, this was my first time watching Trainspotting. At the time of release it would have gone over my head; aside from anything else I would not have know what a suppository was or I probably had not heard of or read Cosmopolition.
I can not remember hearing Perfect Day untill a year after Trainspotting. The context in the film was, so different from the charity single in 1997 that I was not sure whether it was about being out of it on heroin. I had to google it. Apparently Lou Read did have an addiction to heroin. But,reassuringly not ruining my image of the song it was written in 1972 after Read spent a day with Bettye Kronstad his then fiancée who later became his wife in Centeral Park. I also learnt Lou Read’s version was produced by Davie Bowie and Mick Robson (no relation to Mark) and that Susan Boyle covered in 2010.
Even though it was 20 years old, it could have been produced now about the 90s, albeit a 90s I did not know. I was a losing interest at about 80 minutes, but luckily it is only 90minutes long. I appreciated getting an alternative view of the world at the time of my teenage years and I’m prepared to see the sequels hoping it features 90s music!
A good story that makes you want to know more; part of it being a good story ,is that it is based on the true story of Alan Turing and him cracking the Enigma code at Bletchley Park, which was the headquarters for code breakers during the 2nd world war. His efforts allowed English military to intercept German military messages which is thought to have shortened the war.
The start in 1953 is rather slow before rewinding to Turing’s interview at Bletchley Park, which in my mind would have been a more powerful opening scene. The interview at Bletchley park establishes Turing’s character and introduces the seemingly undeafeatable Enigma machine with it’s complex codes that changes daily. In addition to flashing forward to the 50s, the film also flashes back as far as Turing’s school days where he falls in love for the first time with Christopher. In the intolerant times of the 50s this preference for men established in childhood, led to arrest and trail in 1952 for indecency and later his death by cyanide in 1954. The flash back and forwards brings in this sub plot to the breaking of the enigma code.
The film does impart that Turing had a dramatic life, however I do not feel it does it in a poignant way. Rather than the film saying a thousand words, it is left to captions at the end to make the points about the impact of cracking Enigma and the brain lost with his suicide. Although I thought the story, could have been told better, it was enjoyable viewing. Keira Knightly brought her role to life, for me Cumberbatch brought Turing to life less so.
A musical about not just one, but two people chasing their dreams. One a jazz musician the other an actress who sings. They fall in love with each other but, this is not a cliched love story. They find balancing anti social careers and maintaining a relationship challenging.
Most of the music in the film fits in naturally, because there is the background of the jazz music and she sings. There is just a few set pieces, where a scene segways into song; sometimes distracting from the plot line. However, overall the musical inserts did not spoil the flow of the drama being played out or extend the film unessecarily. I prefer films to be condensed to goodness of less than 2hours. This was 2hours and 8minutes and I was concerned it may have been padded with irrelevant song / dance numbers , but it was not and the film was the right length for the story and crucially for me there was a strong plot not just a few loose segways between a sequence of songs.
I had heard about the opening scene being a big dance number on a highway that had to be closed for two days for filming; as I had heard about it in advance it was not quite the spectacular I had thought it might be. Following the opening there was drama, heartbreak, feel good moments, twists and turns which provided a powerful conclusion making the film impressive rather than just watchable.
Points for Sheffield
- Bigger scale and more 3D than moths so more area for design.
- As 3D and at ground level could engage with them more; stroke them, or give them a pat on the way past or children could crawl between their legs, of course it was strictly forbidden to sit on them but think there is a few people with pictures of themselves or their children sitting on them. Could even look through the bely of the Steel Elephant.
- Better app because recognized in locations without having to scan QR code.
- Better signs next to elephants which gave information about design and designers unlike minimal signs next to the moths (apart from the moth at Sheffield university that had a full board next to it).
- Moths had little variation on theme yes, more constrained brief but surprised not to see more about insect moths for example how a caterpillar turns into a moth.
- Bigger variety of locations. All moths were hung on walls insdie or outside buildings. Whereas elephants were in a walled garden, in a winter garden and in farms and more.
- There was a mini herd of elephants whereas no mini moths.
- Elephants signed by snooker players and members of Arctic Monkeys.
Points for Hull
- They had a glow in the dark moth; Fly me to the moon.
- They had a moth covered in swavorski crystals.
- The moths went national extending as far away as London and Kent.
Completely unbiased Sheffield win 8-3.