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

I'm just back from Florida, to share some movie-related thoughts with you.

Universal Studios
a.k.a. the non-event theme park of the century. It's amazing how a studio with that many films could make such a dull park. Without a pair of ears as a unifying theme, there was something ever so slightly off about this place. Nevertheless, I had a hoot - we did the Mummy Returns ride (naff), the E.T. experience (also a bit rubbishy) and the Men In Black shoot'em up. We also did the Jaws boat ride - by far the best ride in the park. It scared the hell out of me when I was a nipper, and I was satisfied to discover it is still pretty nerve wracking. Plastic sharks coming out of the water should not be that creepily effective - mind you, the same could be said about the film...

It was also oddly moving, passing a mock up of Sgt Brody's house, with the news of Roy Scheider's death being barely five hours cold. I hate star deaths - you feel you know them, you feel a bit sad, and then you feel awful for their nearest and dearest for daring to intrude on their grief. Or at least, that's what I feel like. At least no one else I know seems to care too vocally about this - Heath Ledger was another matter. I spend 2/3 of my day in the Sixth Form Common Room, a hotbed of female students. That was a hard day. Because I was a little upset, and again feeling quite bad for his family, and the people who really knew and cared for him; but spending it with a room of people who felt quite as sad as me. And then the guilt factor set in - human tragedy vs. cinematic tragedy - because he was playing the lead in The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, TG's new film. Terry Gilliam's new films inevitably suffer irreperable setbacks. Floods, set-loss, actors get ill (Man who Killed Don Quixote), going badly over budget (what, most of them?). Is it morally wrong to feel sorry for someone's death because it impinges on their art? Keats died young, hence we never got any more Keats poems. After all, without their art, we wouldn't care for these strangers at all. In any case, it looks like the project has been salvaged - Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp are all stepping in to replace him - a very exciting idea - so with that brief hiccup of fear salved, I can return to sincere and acceptable grief.

Not that Hollywood has any idea what that is. There's no rest for the greedy. The scum have rereleased Knights Tale special edition, with an extrapretty Heath picture on the cover. Do not pander to this tastless cash-in!

We also tried getting onto Twister, but it broke down when we were fourty minutes into the queue. We'd already done the real things a few days earlier (we got trapped in one of the Kennedy Space Center outbuildings by a tornado warning. Perhaps I should have been more worried? In any case, a) We were in the same room as the multi-billion dollar International Space Station. That building must have been terroristproof, weatherproof, bearproof, childproof and everything. At least, I didn't see any bears. Probably the safest place in the state. Though all those space models dangling from the roof didn't make me too happy; b) we'd just done an epic run across an exterior metal gantry in the pre-tornado rain - I call it rain, but the sky was just filled with water, and I was far too busy being soggy to worry about a little thing like breeze ; c) The toilets were outside and d) the prospect of trapped tourists created an irresistable disaster movie cast. We befrended a pair of mature Florida ladies, who were surefire gonners. Being in a family of four, it was also highly unlikely that we all made it out alive - quite possibly, me. We got out about 20 minutes later; it destroyed a few condos in Cocoa Beach, about 5-10 miles away from us, thankfully no one was injured as far as I know.)

The surrounding Universal buildings are mocked up like a film set - one building decorated with the logo for "Genco Imports". Trivia nerds may recognise this as Vito's company from the Godfather, and true enough, closer inspection showed "Proprietor: M. Corleone" pasted on the window. I overreacted and got a photo, but it made me wonder: were all the surrounding buildings in jokes and obscure film references? Certainly Genco was the only one I recognised.

The most fun to be had in the park was their live shows - particularly the Blues Brothers show, which was just perfect. We also saw Rocky's hotpants from the RHPS.

Oh, and if you live in America, check out the Universal cinema - you don't have to pay to get into that bit, it's just a shopping street with restaurants. They were showing bouth Kill Bills and Casablanca, which was an almost irresistable temptation.

Disney Hollywood Studio's Sci Fi Diner

The Theme Park formerly known as MGM has the greatest restaurant in the world, period. In fact, it's the restaurant I wanted to run. It's the drive-in experience, only in a large dome painted to look like late night outside, with the tables all made up as car-booths a la Pulp Fiction. Well I got myself a burger and a five dollar shake (well, it was nearer $4.87, but plus tax...) and had the best half hour of the trip. The screen played a constant loop of sci-fi themed 50s clips - trailers for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Plan Nine from Outer Space, Attack of the Giant Gila Monster; extracts from "modern science" programs, cartoons with space themes as well as intermission food adverts. My sister tells me one of the ads we watched was the one used in Grease. Brilliant in every single way - I'm a sucker for all things kitch, tacky and downright bad.

I later found out they have a similar caf called the TV bar, where you eat in a booth decorated like a kitchen from a 50s sitcom. Pity we couldn't visit that as well...

As for the park, well we saw the live High School Musical 2 dance - and I'm happy to report that live-show Gabriella is just as irritating as her on-screen counterpart - as well as a "how-we-film-car-chases" experience in a massive arena.

Pirates of the Carribbean

The inevitable question here was: how much have they changed the ride since the movie. The answer be, not much - the structure's still the same, just with a few Jack Sparrow references thrown in. And an insanely lifelike Johnny Depp anamatronic hiding in a barrel. It rolls its eyes and tosses its head just like the real deal.

And at the theatre...
We actually saw two famous people - the most exciting of which (for you at least) was Mick Jagger, spotted at the airport. The less famous, but more exciting for me, was a certain ex-Doctor currently appearing in a certain musical. I was terrible. You always imagine you'll behave with some decorum when coming into contact with stars and idols - say in the context of a musical, actually watching anything else on stage. But apparently not. I enjoyed the evening, though I couldn't possibly comment on the show as a whole. I'm fangirl scum, I admit it. I feel unclean. But I did have an absolutely wonderful time, drool or no drool.

And as a coda to yesterday's post:

Apparently, one of the guys in our year is going to a Hollywood acting school in L.A. instead of university. He's not a bad actor, but it is a bad idea. He made a pretty good (at least, loud) Othello, and is definitely confident enough to go for it. But its just one of those things which no one is really ready for, y'know? Friend 2's harsh assessment "what, to do porn films?" isn't exactly what I had in mind, but I'm not optimistic. All the luck in the world to him.

At least he's trying. I appear to have already given up on my directoral dreams through overapplication of logic, so maybe he's right and I'm wrong. I have lowered my expectations to "film critic". A suitable replacement - because all critics secretly want to be in the industry. They certainly think they know the business better.


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