My Lord of the Rings Fan-Girly Mission.

I got into a bad habit a few years back, watching the same films, TV series etc. over and over again. It was mainly to try to ease my insomnia and to give me a sense of comfort when the world was falling apart around me. I guess that’s why fantasy films grabbed me so thoroughly. I’ve probably watched Lord of the Rings about 30 times per film. At about the same time I pretty much stopped reading, stopped listening to music and got stuck in a bit of a World of Warcraft related rut. I want to do something to change that. I want to have interesting things to do. I love films, books and music, so I came up with a plan!

So by putting it on the internet, I’m going to make it official, so here is my plan. I plan to watch a different film each month, but in order to make it easier, I’m going to choose films according to the spectacular cast of Lord of the Rings. (Basically stalking in film form?) I’ve already got this month’s done entirely by accident. It was the J.J. Abrams Star Trek (not the new one, that’s not out yet, the one from last year!).

The reason I think this will work is that the cast of LotR is firstly HUGE, there’s a lot of actors that have been working a long time (bear in mind they were made ten years ago, and most of the actors in it were reasonably established) and on top of that, if you follow their careers you get to some incredibly amazing films, and hopefully the plan is to get to some films I’d not normally watch. (Particularly when following Viggo Mortensen doing things like Eastern Promises, or Christopher Lee in Star Wars…)

Yes, I know I’ve never seen Star Wars. I’ve seen the Clone one. I’ve tried to watch the rest, but it’s just kinda… not me. Yes, you can lynch me later.

But anyway, that’s my plan. I’m going to watch at least one film a month (or significant chunks of a TV series.. *points at Lost and Game of Thrones*) in an attempt to broaden my “cultural horizons” and not just watch things with hobbits or Hugh Jackman in it.

I’ve made a list of the Films/TV I’ve already seen before starting this “challenge”: (Focussing mainly on the fellowship itself.

  • Elijah Wood – Back to the Future II, Flipper, Deep Impact, The Faculty, Happy Feet
  • Sean Astin – Toy Soldiers,
  • Sean Bean – GoldenEye, Equilibrium, Troy, National Treasure, The Island, Accused (BBC TV),
  • Orlando Bloom – Midsomer Murders (killed with a pitchfork), 3 of 4 of the Pirates films, Troy, Extras (he’s flipping hilarious),
  • Billy Boyd – Does listening to a lot of Beecake count? He also did a great documentary thing broadcast recently on BBC Radio 4 extra where he charted the adaptations of Lord of the Rings over time.
  • Ian McKellen – The 3 X-men films, The Da Vinci Code, Stardust, The Golden Compass, Doctor Who (The snowmen episode)
  • Dominic Monaghan – I Sell the Dead, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Lost (only seen Season 1 though)
  • Viggo Mortensen – *hangs head in shame* Haven’t watched anything. I read some of his poetry and love his photography and art though.
  • John Rhys-Davies – I think I’ve probably seen some of the Indiana Jones ones, and probably the Lost World, I’ve definitely seen him as Leonardo Da Vinci in Star Trek: Voyager, Princess Diaries 2 (don’t look at me like that, I had PMS and was back spasms!) and he narrated Pinky and the Brain (that might be stretching the cultural relevance a bit?)
  • Christopher Lee not in the fellowship, but Hammer films amuse me – many Hammer Horror films, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Diagnosis: Murder, Return from Witch Mountain, At least one of the Musketeers films, Sleepy Hollow, Gormenghast <3, The Clone-based crap-Star Wars, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Golden Compass, Christopher Lee’s Fireside Tales (BBC Radio 4)
  • Karl Urban – not technically in the fellowship, but very handsome – I’m sure I must have seen him as Cupid in Hercules, and probably Xena too, The Bourne Supremacy, and now… Star Wars as well!

In fact, in the last two days, I’ve watched two films for this! Yesterday I watched Star Trek (Karl Urban – Bones) and Happy Feet today (Elijah Wood – the voice of Mumble).

The Star Trek film was good. It was better than I thought it would be. I do like Star Trek, with my favourite series being Enterprise, followed by Voyager, the original series, then Next Generation probably. I prefer the people to be believable, and to actually struggle occasionally. That and I hate the empath who works with Cpt Picard. I struggle when the female characters are whimsical I think. Anyway, back to the film, the storyline was alright, a bit twisted and strange, but ok. I found the characters of Kirk and Spock hard to believe, because of the lack of doubt. Maybe it’s just me, but the lack of fear/panic in Kirk and the lack of “logic” in some of Kirk’s actions seemed strange, and all the more strange now I come to think about it after watching the film. Karl Urban is hardly in the film, truth be told, but I did like his portrayal of Bones. He captured the lack of deference for authority well, and I love the sarcasm. Especially the bit with the incessant vaccines.

So, onto Happy Feet. I’m always a bit over-cautious when it comes to American kids’ films. They tend to have an overly-soppy sentimental message or teaching buried in there somewhere, and of course this is no different. “Clean up the planet or the penguins will be sad” isn’t a bad message I suppose, but I hate the permanent teaching of kids. Sometimes films don’t need a “message” sometimes it’s OK for there to just be a story! Having said that, I did like the film, I’d probably not watch it again, and I’d think it’s definitely got nothing on Monsters Inc. or Finding Nemo.

Like Minds (film)

Like Minds ( film)

I watched this because I’d slipped into a deep puddle of lack of motivation and was surfing through the iPlayer site for something I’d not seen before. I was immediately grabbed by Toni Collette, because I loved her in Velvet Goldmine (It’s one of my favourite films EVER!!!) and then I saw Eddie Redmayne, and was totally sold. Loved him in Les Mis.

Sometimes when I watch a film for the actors/actresses I’m a bit disappointed by the content of the film. Here, I’d use Troy as an example – Great cast, great idea, great costumes, and all of it makes a film where the only reason to watch it is to see sexy men with their kit off. I’m in the process of stalking the LotR cast members back through their careers. Not made much progress though, got a bit hung up on Dominic Monaghan’s latest buggy pursuit. Spiders and an enthusiastic Hobbit – what’s not to love?!

Anyway, back to Like Minds – I watched it in the middle of the day, while sorting through work and socks and stuff that’s got stuck down the side of my desk. All that got quickly abandoned in favour of watching two teenage boys fight it out over who could be the oddest. I don’t know much about psychology (sung to the tune of Sam Cooke) so I have no idea how realistic or pseudo-sciencey it is, but the characterisation of the boys is brilliant. You don’t get to know much about Sally, but that’s kinda a good thing. I love the way that the “interview/investigation” cuts back and forth across filmed flashbacks and current events. It reminds me a little of the Prestige, where if you don’t concentrate – you forget who’s alive and when! 

This is a really nicely put together film for a Friday afternoon – not an epic by far, and it didn’t surprise me, but sometimes having good characters is enough.