Infrequently Asked Questions 2013

Michael Fassbender Pianist

Following the success of last year’s Infrequently Asked Questions I have decided to repeat the exercise in the hopes of satisfying lost Googlers. The concept is simple, I trawl through all the search terms from 2013 that lead to this site and answer any questions people had that they would not have found the answer to on Mild Concern. The only questions I will ignore are people looking for various actors in a state of undress; there is a limit to what I will do for hits.

As with last year the most popular search query was people searching for nude pictures of Michael Fassbender, pictures that sound very similar to how you might describe the above picture… For the full stats on that particular search term see the pie chart at the end of this post.

Did the actors play their instruments in A Late Quartet? The cast studied their instruments to at least look like they were playing them but no, it is not their playing that you hear in the film.

Anyone know the sunglasses Giovanni Ribisi wore in Gangster Squad? Not entirely sure but he is the face of Barton Perreira eyewear. Apparently.

Are there snakes in The Hunger Games? Look carefully in the credits and you’ll find Jonwilder Lee Bartlett credited as “snake wrangler”. But can I remember any snakes? No.

Does After Porn Ends show nudity? Yes. You all asked this last year. IT IS A FILM ABOUT PORN STARS!!!

Does Claire wear a wig in Lost? Not at first but in flashbacks she certainly does and from memory she wears one on the island in later years. Sometimes an actress cuts her hair. Things happen.

How much swearing is in Philomena? Let’s ask the BBFC: “There are two uses of strong language (‘f**k’). Milder language includes the terms ‘bloody’, ‘crap’; ‘fecking’, ‘shit’, ‘shite’ and ‘tits’.”

How much of Philomena is based on fact? Most of it. Philomena is a real woman who was forced to give up her son and did not mention it for fifty years. She was also helped by Martin Sixsmith and they did indeed discover the thing that they discovered in the film. (No spoilers here.) The only thing that was fabricated was that in real life Philomena did not make the trip to America with Martin but followed his progress through phone calls.

Do you need to see Avengers Assemble before seeing Thor: The Dark World? Not really no. So long as you know that Thor is from another world, has an evil brother, and pines for Natalie Portman who is living on Earth then you’re all set.

Natalie Portman Thor wellies? Not so much a question but an oddly frequent request. Here you go perverts:

Portman Wellies

Do you like Doctor Who? Yes thanks, as does Kat, but we didn’t care much for the latest Christmas special. Stephen loathes it though if you’d prefer a balanced view.

Why do people like Doctor Who so much? It is scary, funny, and has a lot of heart. Also, Jenna Coleman is hot.

I don’t get Doctor Who He’s a centuries old alien who travels through time in a spaceship the shape of a police telephone box. The box is massive on the inside and he only has a limited number of lives which was recently reset due to receiving new regeneration energy via a rift in space from his home plant. He likes to travel with an assistant who is normally young, female, attractive and human. What’s not to get?

What is premise of How I Met Your Mother? I’ll take this slow for you. A man. Is telling his kids. How he met their mother. Admittedly he takes his sweet time but it’s not that hard to understand. Maybe they confused you by writing the title in the second person?

Is Lily in How I Met Your Mother bisexual? From the HIMYM wiki: “Lily could be bisexual, this could be proven as she said in one episode that she wants to have a lesbian experience, and that she told Robin she had a great ass. She also admitted to having some romantic dreams about Robin. It stated that whenever she drink martinis she wants to make out with Robin and she has dreams about her when she’s pregnant.”

What are Tim Burton’s Batman movies? Batman and Batman Returns. Now let me introduce you to IMDb, it will save us both some time.

Was The Strangers movie connected to The Cabin in the Woods? Not any more than every other horror film ever made. In many ways The Cabin in the Woods provides an alternative way to watch The Strangers in a non-canon way and those masks are awfully similar…

The Cabin in the Woods The Strangers

What team does Nicholas Hoult support? You asked this last year and I still don’t know. I have tweeted him to ask so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Where does Nicholas Hoult stay at in California? How would I know and why do you care? Stop trying to stalk Nicholas Hoult and get yourself a nice boyfriend instead.

What’s new pussycat? Not much thanks.

What’s the film called that was released on boxing day in 2012? How specific! Grabbers, Jack Reacher, Midnight’s Children, Parental Guidance, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Zaytoun.

What has happened to Cameron Crowe? Since you asked last year he has written and directed a film starring Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, and Rachel McAdams. I’m hoping for another Almost Famous and not another We Bought a Zoo.

What certificate is Pulp Fiction? 18 for strong violence, sex references and hard drug use.

Who did Jon Cryer play in Clarissa Explains it AllHe was never in it but a lot of people seem to think he looks like a grown up Ferguson.

Who are Matt Smith’s parents? There’s a Doctor Who pun to be had but I will ignore it. You can find his mum on Twitter, she likes “all things Fabulous”.

Who is Edgar Wright dating? Not Anna Kendrick. That’s as deep as my knowledge goes.

Social concern about Jurassic Park? Well the first thing to worry about is the misuse of science. The second is OH MY GOD THE DINOSAURS ARE ALIVE AND TRYING TO EAT MY FACE!!!

Rupert Grint’s acting ability? On average about 6.32 out of 10. Source

rupert grint chart

Why is David Cameron such a prick? His upbringing perhaps? Or something to do with having to live with that face 24/7.

Why does Mama DVD have no extras? They’ve put them all on the Blu-Ray to try to make you buy that instead. That aside the film is AWFUL so why are you even buying it?

He loves me he loves me not He loves you!

Is there an alpha gibbon? Yes.

Dancing as a metaphore for freedom in 1984 Footloose First of all that is not how you spell metaphor. Second of all… yes. Footloose is clearly a subtle adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984.

Is Simon Bird in Plebs? No. The lead actor is Tom Rosenthal who stars in Friday Night Dinner with Simon Bird so you were close.

Lead female in Philomena? Seriously?! Who is the lead in Philomena?! Dame Judi Dench you ignorant fool!

Movie with yellow Volkswagen Well Little Miss Sunshine and Footloose both feature a prominent yellow VW. Were either of those what you were thinking?

When is Me Myself and Mum in general release in the UK? Still no idea which is a shame as it was the best film I saw last year. You can get it on DVD though.

Who was Andy Dick’s character in Laputa: Castle in the Sky? He voiced Henri. For future reference let me introduce you to the Internet Movie Database. You’ll love it.

I thought I’d finish by answering a question nobody asked; just what proportion of search terms related to Michael Fassbender’s appendage? The answer is below:

Top Ten Films of 2013

Top Ten Films 2013

2013 has been an above average year for films. 2013 is an excellent vintage for a film to have. In the future you can pull a DVD off the shelf, note that it was made in 2013 and be assured that there is a good chance you are buying a top quality film. Film works like wine, right?

I have agonised over the list below; there were so many films I wanted to mention but had to leave out in favour of films that either tried something a little different or spoke to me personally. I’ve tried to have a good mix of genres and styles and yet the majority seem to feature an in-depth look at human emotions, three have pivotal scenes involving a piano, and two were shot in black & white. On with the list:

10 – The Comedian

10 - The Comedian

Funnily enough this was the hardest position on the list to decide on as whatever film doesn’t make this slot doesn’t make the list at all. In the end I settled on Tom Shkolnik’s debut film about a young man living in London. Protagonist Ed is unsatisfied in his job and his love life and finds himself a little lost in his life in London. The film has no strict plot but instead features authentic feeling improvised scenes and simply offers a glimpse into a short period in the life of a character. I related to the film on a very personal level which earned it a place in my top 10 but which also makes me a little nervous to recommend it. Like another film much higher on this list The Comedian gives us a little peek at human relationships and does it in such a realistic way I couldn’t help but love it. More gushing in my review.

9 – A Field in England

9 - A Field in England

And now for something completely different… Over the past four years Ben Wheatley has made four films and cemented himself in the world of British film as a man who can produce low budget films filled with unbearable tension, extreme violence, and surprisingly real characters. His fourth film took a strange turn as he produced a black & white piece set during the civil war in which all manner of horrors occur in a field in England. The film was released in cinemas and on TV, DVD, Blu-Ray, and VOD all on the same day but that is far from the most remarkable thing about it. I couldn’t begin to explain the plot of A Field in England or the relatively tame but somehow harrowing visuals it contains. This is bold, brave British film-making; something we could do with a lot more of.

8 – Breathe In

8 - Breathe In

Two years ago Drake Doremus’ debut film Like Crazy was released and despite it being an impressive first film there was something about it I couldn’t quite get behind. In his follow-up, a story of infidelity and temptation starring Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce, Doremus has utilised his improvisational style to produce a fantastic feature. This is a film of lust and longing, and not being satisfied with the cards life has dealt you. What is most impressive is that Doremus manages to create scenes of incredible sexual tension and sensuality without ever needed to show anything more than a longing look or a gentle touch. Worth an entry on this list for its ability to replace sex scenes with piano duets without losing any of the sexiness.

7 – Philomena

7 - Philomena

2013 has definitely been a great year for films and specifically a great year for Steve Coogan. Four of his films were fighting for a position in my top ten but ultimately I could only allow myself one on the list. Philomena gets this most coveted position for being the only film of the four to bring me to tears. The story of an old woman searching for the son she was forced to give up 50 years ago is a heartbreaking one but the script, co-authored by Coogan, manages to be hilarious too. As we watch the unlikely pairing of Coogan’s uptight journalist and Judi Dench’s kind-hearted and deeply religious pensioner the film explores faith, family, and forgiveness in and even handed and enjoyable way. Ultimately the story of Philomena, deeply based in fact rather than fiction, is not a happy one but she isn’t going to let it get the best of her so neither should you. Full review here.

6 – Stoker

6 - Stoker

Stoker completely passed me by when it had a cinematic release in March of this year but in an effort to fill in some of the gaps in my film watching I caught up with the film over the Christmas break, and I am glad that I did. Stoker is written by Prison Break star Wentworth Miller and directed by Korean legend Chan-wook Park and is a stunningly shot gothic thriller. Mia Wasikowska plays a young girl coming of age who has just lost her father and is getting to know her previously unheard of young uncle, Matthew Goode, who comes to stay with her and her mother. The film has strangely vibrant yet artificial looking visuals and some brilliantly arch performances from its leads which allows the film to have its characters behave in a way that is slightly otherworldly. Stoker manages to maintain a strange tension throughout which created a sense that sex or violence could erupt at any moment. This film also features a second sensual scene focusing on a piano duet but things get slightly more extreme, as is so often the case with Stoker. A totally unique modern thriller that Hitchcock wouldn’t be ashamed to have directed.

5 – Saving Mr. Banks

5 - Saving Mr. Banks

At number 5 we have a very personal choice for myself. I really can’t tell if Saving Mr. Banks is actually a good film or just a load of sentimental nonsense as I am so blinded by all the baggage I am bringing to the film. Saving Mr. Banks is the story of the battle between Walt Disney and the author of Mary Poppins P.L. Travers as he tries to obtain film rights for the books from a woman who hates cartoons, musicals, and Dick van Dyke. As someone who grew up on a heavy dose of Julie Andrews singing there is something bizarrely nostalgic about this film set twenty years before I was born. Combine this with another fine performance from Emma Thompson and the result is me in repeated floods of tears at a press screening. If you love Mary Poppins then no doubt you will love Saving Mr. Banks, otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother. Full review here.

4 – Nebraska

4 - Nebraska

Have you ever received a letter telling you that you might have won millions and that you just need to phone a number or go to an address with your prize code to find out? Nebraska is the story of one man (Bruce Dern) who takes the letter seriously. Worrying that his father will try to take the journey to claim his prize alone his son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him there just to make sure he doesn’t die in the process. Along the way they stop off at the old man’s hometown and old family feuds resurface as people are mocking and jealous of the possible windfall in equal measure. Shot in gorgeous black & white Alexander Payne has made another beautiful film, one that shows the quirks of family and how important and frail dignity can be even as you get older. Funny and touching Nebraska is never inauthentic or cloying. Perfect. Full review here.

3 – Behind the Candelabra

3 - Behind the Candelabra

Having declared his retirement from directing films for the cinema Steven Soderbergh went on to direct this biopic of Liberace (Michael Douglas) and the story of his love affair with the initially young Scott (Matt Damon). In the UK we scuppered his plan for retirement by deciding that the film was too good for TV and gave it a cinematic release instead. In Behind the Candelabra Soderbergh has created a gloriously camp retelling of the life of one gloriously camp performer, and the life of an ego so big that he gives his boyfriend plastic surgery so that he can share more of Liberace’s features. Douglas and Damon are both playing completely against type and doing a fabulous job of it but neither are so brilliant as Rob Lowe who plays the taut faced plastic surgeon who can’t so much as close his eyes any more. The whole film is turned up to eleven and is a real joy to watch. Just don’t go expecting any subtle sexy scenes at the piano as Liberace eschews subtlety in favour of glitter, candelabras, and an on-stage limo.

2 – Before Midnight

2 - Before Midnight

We return to the theme of relationships that runs through this list as we reunite with one of cinema’s best couples and the most enduring onscreen romance. Richard Linklater first introduced us to Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) back in 1995 when the two lovers met, spent a night together, and went their separate ways. 9 years later the pair were reunited in Paris and shared one long real-time conversation before leaving us with a cliff hanger. Since 2004 audiences have been left wondering whether Jesse stayed to spend another night with Celine or went back to America to his wife and child. Their love story is continued in Before Midnight as we drop back into their lives as a proper couple with their own children on holiday in Greece. Through a series of conversations we see that Jesse and Celine are still very much in love but that the years have taken their toll on the young romantics and every conversation has an undertone harking back to an argument years in the making. The Before trilogy is always pretentious, funny, and touching and as theatrical as the lengthy conversations might be the performances never stray far from my favourite adjective; authentic. Here we are watching characters we love struggle in their relationship and it is all painfully real.

1 – Blue is the Warmest Colour

1 - Blue is the Warmest Colour

The only thing that can possibly top a brief trip into the relationship of Jesse and Celine is a film that encompasses an entire relationship. Across the three hours we follow French teenager Adèle as she slowly becomes an adult and discovers her own sexuality through initial fumbles with boys and then her life changing romance with the enigmatic Emma. Director Abdellatif Kechiche has come under a lot of criticism for the film since he and the young stars (Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux) won the Palme d’Or at Cannes but none of that can do anything to stop the resulting film from being so incredible. As the relationship between Adèle and Emma waxes and wanes we see all facets of their relationship. Yes we see their sex life but we see their snotty, blotchy faced arguments too. We see their initial flirtation in a bar and their tragic post-relationship reunion in a cafe. We see their conflicting family dynamics as Adèle is introduced to Emma’s foodie family as her girlfriend and Emma is invited round to Adèle’s as a friend to enjoy some bland spaghetti. The performances at the center of the film are fantastically raw and, all together now, authentic. At the end of my screening Kechiche and Exarchopoulo came out for a Q&A but I couldn’t stay to watch it for fear of ruining the illusion that the Adèle I had been watching was a living, breathing human being and someone whose most intimate moments I had seen laid bare. This marks the third year in a row that a French film has taken my top film title; they must be doing something right. Full review here.

Top 20 Films of 2011
Top 10 Films of 2012

Out Now – 1st November 2013

Short Term 12

Short Term 12
Set in a children’s home in America and dealing with the daily dramas and small victories this involves Short Term 12 features is “funnier than you might expect with a whole lot of heart” and features a “career defining performance from Brie Larson”. Or so I say anyway. Leave your cynicism at home and go see this.

Philomena
Dench and Coogan team up to find the son that Dench was forced to give up as a child. “I laughed, I cried, I texted my mum and sister to ensure they go and see it.” And then I wrote a review. If you don’t cry at this one I worry for your soul.

Thor: The Dark World
Blah, blah, blah, Thor. Gush, gush, gush, Loki! Swoon, swoon, swoon, Portman. Surprisingly fun installment in the ever-growing Avengers juggernaut. OMG, I reviewed this one too! At this rate we’re in danger of looking professional. HA!

Krrish 3
Third installment in a Bollywood superhero franchise that had completely passed me by. Expect lots of action and drama… but will they sing?

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
Hang on. HANG ON! Connecticut and Georgia are US states separated by over 800 miles! I refuse to watch any film so ambiguous about its setting.

Drinking Buddies
I’ve not seen a lot of writer/director Joe Swanberg’s work but what I have seen I moderately enjoyed. Drinking Buddies looks to be one of his more accessible films and has a cast of people you’ve heard of! I won’t tell you their names. That would be too easy.

Gloria
“A story set in Santiago and centered on Gloria, a free-spirited older woman, and the realities of her whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer whom she meets out in the clubs.” Well that sounds adorable.

Nosferatu the Vampyre
Re-release (from the BFI obviously) of Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake of the most classic of all vampire films. I hear it’s amazing. Or I read that it is amazing… Probably on the BFI website so who knows if I am to be trusted.

Cutie and the Boxer
Documentary exploring the marriage of acclaimed boxer painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko, as she strive to claim an identity of her own. For the record a boxer painter punches the canvas with paint covered gloves. No joke.

Philomena – LFF Film Review

Philomena

Ah, Judi Dench. Does it get any better than seeing her take the lead role in a film? I have a great love for the Dame and was very excited to get to see her take the title role in Philomena. The film is based upon the true story of an Irish Catholic woman’s search for the son she was forced to give up as an unmarried mother. Despite trying to find him for years she has had no success due to lack of co-operation from the nuns who took her child away. On her son’s fiftieth birthday she finally tells her daughter about the missing member of their family and together they approach Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) who is looking for a human interest story to gain a foothold back in journalism.

Thanks to the efforts of Sixsmith, largely driven by a need for a success rather than any emotional attachment to the story, Philomena and Martin trace her son from Ireland to America and go on a transatlantic journey in pursuit of the truth. Along the way Martin softens towards Philomena’s plight and they connect over the voyage of discovery despite often coming to clashes due to differing backgrounds and impatience with one another’s religious beliefs. Martin becomes increasingly sympathetic as you see just how distressed he becomes at the way Philomena has been treated and the fact that he ends up taking greater offence even than she does at the crimes of the Church.

Director Stephen Frears has had a mixed bag of films in recent years with the likes of The Queen and Tamara Drewe but with Philomena he is back on top form. Despite a slightly shaky start during which not all the jokes were landing the film gradually warmed up the audience with the laughs coming much more easily as the film went on. Co-writer Steve Coogan was for a change more of the straight man as it was Judi Dench who got the lion’s share of the killer lines. Admittedly sometimes this was as simple as hearing Dench swear, because seeing older characters use curse words is always good for an easy laugh, but often it was more through her excellent portrayal of a woman who can wax lyrical about the salad cart at a Harvester or recall in detail the plot of the romance novel she has been reading. Philomena is a vibrant character and not merely a deperate victim of curcumstance.

Philomena is not an out-and-out comedy however as the story being told is a complicated one involving the forced separation of a mother and child. Some of the discoveries made in America were heartwarming and others heartbreaking. I am not ashamed to admit that this film brought about my first tears of the festival. It must have been the lack of sleep…

Not quite perfect but a funny and emotional film that give Judi Dench’s acting chops a too infrequent showcase. Steve Coogan co-stars in his fourth excellent film of the year showing he is far more than just Alan Partridge. I laughed, I cried, I text my mum and sister to ensure they go and see it.

Philomena screens at the festival on the 16th, 17th and 19th October and is in UK cinemas on 1st November 2013.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

BFI London Film Festival 2013 Line-up

BFI London Film Festival 2013

It’s that time again! Yesterday the line-up for the 57th BFI London Film Festival was announced to a lot of press that didn’t include ourselves. Last year’s festival was a lot of fun and I successfully saw more films than I could handle but there was no one film that got me properly excited like there had been in previous years. 2013 looks to be different.

A quick perusal of the festival brochure reveals a long list of films that I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of from a number of writers, directors, and actors who are at the height of their game or at the beginning of what appear to be very promising careers. The line up for this year’s festival, running from 9th – 20th October, has got me properly excited and it looks like it will be easy for me to find enough films for me to finally break the 30 films in a festival barrier.

Below I have picked out ten films from the extensive list that the BFI are screening. What follows is far from an exhaustive list but rather is made up of films I have been waiting to see for a while or anything that caught my eye as I frantically scrolled through the festival brochure. My advise to you is to download the full brochure and give it a thorough read through so that you are ready when member’s booking opens on 12th September. Tickets go fast and some BFI members (ahem) are very quick with their keyboards.

Philomena

Philomena
Judi Dench stars as a Irish Catholic woman on the hunt for the son she gave up against her will more than fifty years ago. Steve Coogan is the jaded journalist who accompanies her on the journey in this film he co-wrote. Dench and Coogan are a double act I refuse to miss out on.

Gravity

Gravity
Alfonso Cuarón directs George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in a drama about a pair of astronauts whose space shuttle becomes damaged leaving the pair stranded and unable to contact earth. Lots of good buzz surrounding this film and it could well be only the second film after Life of Pi to use 3D properly.

The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman
Ralph Fiennes returns to the London Film Festival with his second feature as director in which he also takes a starring role. The focus of the film is on Charles Dickens and his secret love affair with a young actress played by Felicity Jones as she looks back on the affair later on in life. I think we all know why this film interests me.

Blue is the Warmest Colour

Blue Is the Warmest Colour
This year’s Palme d’Or winner is coming to London. A film about a love shared by two teenage girls that stirred up a lot of controversy in Cannes thanks to extended graphic sex scenes. Those scenes aside this film promises to be a tender look at young love that captures all its messiness and turbulence.

Don Jon

Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on the triple role of writer, director, and actor in his first foray behind the camera. He plays the title role of Jon, a porn obsessed young man who falls for a woman equally obsessed with romantic comedies. The woman in question is Scarlett Johansson who seems to be channelling the cast of Jersey Shore. A confident debut from a strong young talent, I’m there.

The Double

The Double

Early this week I was Googling The Double in the hopes that it was coming to UK cinema’s soon. I adored Richard Ayoade’s debut film Submarine and have been eagerly awaiting his follow-up ever since. Now we have it in the form of a film about a man who goes unnoticed at work until his exact double joins the company. Witty and romantic as only Ayoade can be.

Under the Skin

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson’s performance as an alien hunting for men in Glasgow has drawn a lot of praise and excitement in the past week. The film is described as “a brilliant amalgam of fantasy and reality” and from the sounds of it not all the men in the film who fall for the alien’s charms were aware they were in a film at the time. I’m baffled enough to be intrigued.

Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings

Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way since Harry Potter and has showcased his ability to act on TV and on stage. Now it’s time for his to prove himself on the big screen. Here he plays Allen Ginsberg in his first year at University as he meets fellow future heavyweights of the Beat Generation and embarks on a tumultuous affair.

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon Delight

Any film with Juno Temple in is worth a second look which is why this film finds its way into this list. Temple co-stars as a stripper who is taken into the home of a bored housewife played but the too often ignored Kathryn Hahn. Darkly funny and the debut film from a female writer/director this should not be a cheap or sleazy affair.

Short Term 12

Short Term 12

Much like Juno Temple, Felicity Jones, Judi Dench, Richard Ayoade, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt there is another artist whose work I find myself absolutely needing to see and that is Brie Larson. Too often resigned to the role of love interest or comic relief Larson is finally getting a proper meaty role as a supervisor at a foster-care home who finds herself having to deal with her own past as she helps a new resident with theirs.