Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Otherworld and Casablanca

Just finished watching a pretty loveless animated rendition of Welsh myths called Otherworld. The premise was pretty weird - three Welsh teens get turned into legendary characters, which helps them to make informed choices about how they want to live their lives when they get back. The modern day stuff had all the charm of one of those made-for-schools educational videos. "Growing up Gay" is one I recall particularly well, and just a few weeks ago we had to watch one on teen pregancy starring a whole load of untalented Irish schoolkids. You'll see why it reminded me of those...

The animation was by turns horrible and wonderful. It bore all the hallmarks of rotoscope - effectively tracing, for those of you confused by the term. The CGI was painful and I wish they hadn't bothered. But some of the backgrounds were pretty, and the shading on the costumes lovely.

But goodness knows who they were aiming at! I know the BBFC allow nudity from U upwards, so perhaps that can be overlooked, but the violence certainly can't! A tad graphic for the kiddies. And the plots were complicated too - they chop someone's head off and it stays alive, people turn into owls and all and I never felt the weirdness was satisfactorily...explained. Pardoned, maybe, would be a better word. And the real-life bits that framed the stories were most certainly aimed at teens.

All in all a bit of a mess. So here's how I would have improved it. Remove the CGI monster because it was painful. Make the characters more recognisable. And make the faces nicer to look at, and either chopped the animation or the real life sequences. The first few minutes of the film were really nice (i.e. the colours were pretty), but to be frank the morality tales in the real world were painfully scripted and undermined by the typically loose morals in the mythical world.

It also throws up several unpleasant philisophical questions about, for example, how long they seemed to be there and what emotional scarring the poor people would go through. Don't try to think about it in too much detail, fast forward the beginning and skip the end. Unless you want to have a good giggle that is.

Here's the site:

What of Casablanca then? Well I really had no need to worry - it was wonderful! Rick was incredibly sweet, in a cynical way. When Ugarte asks him to hide him from the police, and he says no - well, he had my undivided attention from then onwards. You absolutely feel his pain. And hers. But not quite so much...though perhaps its just because I'm female.

I can't say I didn't know where it was headed. It would be like being surprised when Vader reveals his little secret, or when Marion Crane doesn't come back out of the shower (I'm sure you all know that one, but I've a friend who insists she has no idea what I mean by "shower scene" so I'm gonna black it out anyway). But I had no idea how it was going to get there. There was a little map in my mind, like with The Godfather, of all the famous lines I already knew, joining the dots as we went along - but it wasn't intrusive, and actually when I look back I really knew very little about it. I made a joke a few months back about Ilsa being a spy for the French Resistance. Doh!

The shot of the film? Undoubtedly the letter in the rain, the words running but it doesn't matter, as we all know what it says.

I really liked the scenario - no one in the film is perfect. They lie, they're bribable, selfish, murderous or just a tad unpleasant. Everyone is out for themselves. A wonderfully morally ambiguous place. The script is razor sharp, and the whole final sequence was entirely compelling. The background music is overblown and melodramatic (see my plan for rescoring old movies halfway down that page) but not as intrusive as it could have been.

And of course, it's black and white - the colour scheme is perfect, and unlike other old classics, not ruined by garish glorious technicolour (I'm not talking about Vertigo. Honest. Whatever gave you that impression?). Though I'm not going to be returning my Casablanca layout anytime soon, I did like it a lot and it thoroughly deserves its classic status.

It's sacrelidge to discuss them on the same page, really...

PS - today I discovered Go, laugh yourselves silly. If you've seen it, then I recommend the abridged script for Underworld. I quote: "I am a vampire, one of many involved in an underground war. When not killing werewolves, I go to raves that play industrial rock, buy new trenchcoats, rip holes in my mesh stockings, and post to my livejournal." *massive snigger*


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