Tag Archives: film

All hail Oliver Tate, antihero of Joe Dunthorne’s Submarine

13 Nov

You know what sucks? When one of your favourite books is made into a film and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. By logical thought processes you can therefore probably deduce what does not suck – an amazing film adaptation that almost matches the wonderment that was conjured up in your head when you first read the book. That’s the feeling I get when I watch Richard Ayoade’s adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s Submarine.

Joe Dunthorne Submarine Richard Ayoade

If you’ve yet to read it (WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOURSELF!!), it’s the story of anti-hero Oliver Tate, a 15-year-old lad you will sometimes want to applaud and other times smack across the face. Like most boys his age, he’s desperate to lose his V plates. But he’s also determined to keep his family together, help his Dad get over depression and keep his mother out of the arms of an over-friendly old flame.

“Well, you know, I thought it would be nice to get some mutual interests… now that we’ve had sex… other than spitting and setting things on fire…” – Oliver Tate

The film adaptation doesn’t stick religiously to the book’s plot  (if, like me, you were gutted that Zoe’s revenge and other big storyline moments didn’t make it into the film, click here to read what Dunthorne has to say about it). But this time I’ll turn a blind eye, since everything else about the film is just awesome. The way it depicts Oliver’s coming-of-age story set in rainy Wales, through a semi-surreal instagram-esque series of dreamlike sequences, is just genius. And uber stylish (is it wrong to want Jordana’s heart sunglasses?!). It’s also bloody funny in that weirdy British way we do best (even with Ben Stiller as the film’s exec producer, amazingly enough). OH and did I mention that Arctic Monkey Alex Turner did the gloomy, odd-beat romantic soundtrack?! Yeaaaah.

So yes. In a mini-celebration of Submarine (and due to the fact it was on Film4 last night), here’s one of my favourite quotes from the most irritating and endlessly endearing character to cross my path since Holden Caulfield. If you haven’t read the book, do it now.

Oliver Tate, you charming nut-job. I salute you.

Dear Jordana,
Thank you for letting me explore your perfect body. I could drink your blood. You’re the only person I’ve allowed to be shrunk down to a microscopic size and swim inside me in a tiny submersible machine. We’ve lost our virginity but it wasn’t like losing anything. You’re too good for me. You’re too good for anyone. 
Sincerely, Oliver

Have you seen any credible film adaptations recently? Or are there any coming up soon that you’re looking forward to? Let me know.

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One Day hits the big screen…but is the film any good?

26 Aug

Books are always better than their film adaptations. Let’s just get that sentence out of the way before I go any further. Never have I seen a ‘major motion picture’ version of a novel and wondered why I wasted 5 or so hours of my life trawling through 300 pages of text when a 90 minute visual extravaganza did it better. The reason people get so emotionally attached to novels isn’t just because they’re a great story, it’s also because our experiences of the story are filtered through our own imaginations. Thus we read about David Nicholls’ loveable rogue Dexter, and we’ve instantly got a picture of him in our heads. He’s like that guy we sort of got with once. We know exactly what he looks like, how he makes us feel, probably even how he smells (…just me?!). And whilst films can bring books to life in a way that is more creative (and definitely more expensive) than our own imaginations, it’s never quite the same experience. As my cousin said, “I don’t want to see the film. I prefer the version in my head.”

That said, the film adaptation of One Day is really pretty good. For the few who have yet to tear through a bright orange edition of David Nicholls’ humongous bestseller, let me do a whizz through of the plot. A couple of students get together on their graduation day, 15th July 1988 – he’s rich, charming and a bit of a smooth-talking lothario, she’s a smart but insecure northerner with big plans to change the world. They remain friends and we catch up with them on the 15th of July for the next twenty years. It’s a brilliant story because everyone can relate to it: it shows how lives evolve and how people change, via characters who are flawed but realistic. It’s fantastically romantic in that quirky sort of way that Brits do so well. I haven’t known a book to have such a passionate following of adult readers since The Time Traveller’s Wife.

Ah, but what about the film, you ask? Well, it keeps the episodic structure of the book and with the exception of a couple of events it doesn’t stray far from the plot at all. My fellow cinema-goers hadn’t read the book (heathens!) and they felt that the year-jumping structure moved a little too fast at the beginning, and I had to admit I felt the same. Without the book’s narrative giving a little more background to the first four years, the plot and characters felt a little hollow. That said, the treatment of each chapter seemed to improve as the years progress.

But what about the accents, I hear you cry. Doesn’t that American woman ruin everything?! Yes, Anne Hathway’s accent is terrible. It slides from straight up American to slightly southern British to an Emmerdale extra. A columnist in the Evening Standard slated the press for giving Hathway a hard time, adding that the notion of using a lesser-known British star “takes no account of the need to have a truly bankable star to attract investment and entice an international audience.” I understand his argument, but if it was ok to go for a relatively little known actor as Dexter (Jim Sturgess), why couldn’t they have followed suit with Emma? Would it really have been so wrong to cast a Brit actress who could do Emma justice? I think Hathaway is a great actress and her performance is otherwise strong. Her portrayal would be pretty faithful to my idea of Emma if it wasn’t for the constant vocal yo-yoing. The girls next to me in the cinema kept collapsing into giggles every time she attempted a sentence that sounded like it originated from anywhere vaguely north of the M25. The schizophrenic accent shifts detract you from the character, and as a result I didn’t get the closeness to Emma that I felt in the book.

That said, Jim Sturgess was perfect as Dexter. Sexy in a foppish, dandy kind of way, I can kind of understand how French ELLE dubbed him ‘le nouveau Hugh Grant’. But don’t let that put you off – Sturgess can do charming, vile, vacuous, and intense at the drop of a hat. His take on Dexter’s drug-addled TV years and his relationship with his parents was particularly impressive. You will love him and hate him and love him again, I guarantee it. Chemistry-wise, it’s pretty believable, even if a few of the lingering glances in the early years are a little comedic and there’s a slightly cringy sex scene that wouldn’t be missed.

Nicholls has spoke about the difficult of casting actors that could be students and middle-aged, but I think it was done pretty well. No extravagant wrinkles, just a touch of salt and pepper for Dex and a couple of laughter lines (and a way better wardrobe) for Emma. A special mention also has to go to Emma’s boyfriend Ian, played by suitably awkward comedian Rafe Spall. Cringy, endearing and slightly repulsive simultaneously, he nailed it.

Final verdict? Loved it. Just the right balance of gut-wrenching emotion and swoon-inducing romance. Go see it, bitch about the accent, get over it, and cry….

WIN A FLIPBACK COPY OF ONE DAY: Fancy getting your hands on one of these amazing teeny copies of One Day? They’re smaller than an iPhone, perfect for popping in your handbag. Leave a comment and tell me why you should win, and I’ll pick a winner soon! (UK only)

January Quick Fire Reviews

18 Jan

BOOK: Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
Out now, Atlantic Books, £12.99
When Nicholas moves to Moscow for work, he suffers from an extreme culture shock, struggling to get used to the bitter cold, the debauched nightlife and his colleagues’ distinct lack of morals. But when he falls for the mysterious Masha, he’s also seduced by a hedonistic lifestyle of clubbing, vodka and sex. When Masha asks him to help her family, he quickly finds himself involved in a complicated web of deceit.

Narrated by Nicholas as a confession to his fiancée, this psychological drama is a dark, sparkling tale of corruption that compels you to read on.

CD: Stand Still by Emma’s Imagination
Out now, £7.93, Amazon.co.uk

She’s hailed as the Next Big Thing after winning Must Be The Music and getting snapped up by Gary Barlow’s record label, but Glasgow girl Emma Gillespie isn’t one of your headline-grabbing show-stoppers. Instead, the focus is on her pure, folk-style voice, and her ability to write beautiful acoustic pop songs. This Day and Brighter Greener lift the spirits while the spine-tingling Focus and quiet longing of Falling Slowly add depth, although songs about daisies, fairy lights and butterflies can become a little saccharine at times.

A nice collection of easy-listening pop with a few gems, but we’re not sure if there’s enough ‘wow’ factor for Emma to be able to compete with the strong female singers around right now.

BOOK: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
Out now, Atlantic Books, £8.99

When her husband leaves her for a man and she’s the victim of a bone-crushing car accident in the same week, Janzen decides she has little choice but to move back home with her parents – and back to the Christian sect she grew up in. A New York Times bestseller, this frank and funny memoir will have you chuckling and cringing at the same time.

A survival story for anyone who’s found themselves back at square one.

The Switch, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, movie, film, promo

The Switch poster

DVD: The Switch
Out now, £10.99, Amazon.co.uk

Jennifer Aniston stars as single girl Kassie in this offbeat rom-com about a last-minute sperm donor switch. It’s not much of a departure for Jen, but an endearing performance from Jason Bateman and the comic irony of Jeff Goldblum make this modern love story sharper than your average. That said, it’s six-year-old Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) and his pessimistic one-liners that end up stealing the show.

Pssst… We reviewed this in more detail a few months ago – click here to see what we said.

Film Review: The Switch

1 Sep

Last night I had tickets to a special preview of latest rom-com The Switch, starring Jennifer ‘I’m no longer Rachel but I will insist on playing characters like her for the REST OF MY LIFE’ Aniston at Leicester Square’s Empire Cinema.

So, what’s it all about, and is it any good?

Kassie, a 40-year-old singleton, is being deafened by the tick-tocking of her biological clock. Worried that her time is up and tired of waiting for the ideal man to come sweep her off her feet, she sticks a finger up at convention and goes on the hunt for a sperm donor.

It’s all a bit much for ex-boyfriend turned best friend Wally (Jason Bateman), who decides on a drunken whim to switch the donated sperm for his own.

You’ve already guessed the ending…I’d love to tell you you’re wrong and it’s as ‘offbeat’ as the producers would have us think, but considering The Switch is the latest endeavour from the people who brought us Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, it’s a disappointingly obvious rom-com.

It’s not a complete waste of popcorn however. Jason Bateman is a charming enough protagonist and there’s a nice, if fluffy, performance from Jeff Goldblum as Wally’s best friend. Jennifer Aniston meanwhile plays a single mum that Rachel Green would be proud of.

But the undoubted star of the show has to be Kassie’s little boy, Sebastian. Played by newcomer Thomas Robinson, the weirdly gloomy little kid with saucer eyes has the best lines in the script. With some genuinely touching moments, I defy your heartstrings to not be tugged at least a few times.

With a quirkier script maybe it would have seemed smarter, or maybe I’m just a moody old grump who expects too much from a rom-com. But where Juno and Little Miss Sunshine probe into the darker emotions within the comedy, The Switch just teeters around the edge.

The Switch isn’t a bad film. It’s just a shame it’s not a good one either.