A Year in Film: June 2020

I can’t believe that David and I have watched 16 films in June! That’s a record in this A Year in Film series! Perhaps not having Final Fantasy VII Remake to play has impacted on the number of films watched? I have completed the game platinum style and now eagerly awaiting when the next installment will be, (I won’t hold my breath). I have to say when I finished the game I was a little sad as it was only a fraction of the original story. Though David has been playing his GTA5, we’ve still had many evenings free, hence the high film count, however some films were better than others.

What films have you seen this month?

Alien ✩✩✩

The crew of a spacecraft, Nostromo, intercept a distress signal from a planet and set out to investigate it. However, to their horror, they are attacked by an alien which later invades their ship.

As a creature of horror, the alien is my all time favourite design, facehuggers included. Though made in 1979 the claustrophobic tension on the Nostromo, of its crew awaiting the appearance of a certain alien, makes this film just as watchable today as it was when it was released. Somehow I had only seen clips of this movie. There are many parallels with this film and the more recent offering of Prometheus which is a prequel to the Alien films.

Aliens ✩✩✩

Ellen Ripley is sent back to the planet LV-426 to establish contact with a terraforming colony. Once there, she encounters the Alien Queen and her offspring and has to fight them to survive.

A much more shoot ’em up, action film in relation to its predecessor, Alien. However at two and a half hours long, it felt never ending. A decent venture into the realm of the alien though.

Dawn of the Dead ✩✩✩

Survivors of an epidemic which causes the infected to turn into flesh-eating zombies take refuge in a shopping mall. In addition to battling the undead, they also have to tackle problems from within.

One of the better zombie films made, and one that can be watched time and time again. I’d recommend a watch if you like gore.

Birdman ✩✩✩

Riggan Thomson, a fading cinema superhero, plans to resurrect his career with a passionate Broadway production. However, during rehearsals, his co-star is injured forcing him to hire a new actor.

I’d heard this film being talked about during awards season but hadn’t got round to watching it until now. The film is presented in a continuous shot and is done relatively well. The cast, starring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton are the best things about the movie!

Fences ✩✩

Troy, an African-American man who once longed to be a baseball player, misses the opportunity due to racism. A dejected man, he takes out his frustration on his loved ones and ruins his son’s future.

I had an adverse reaction to Denzel Washington’s character in this film. Yes, the man was disillusioned with life but I found it heinous that he scuppered the future of his son and then expected his wife to clean up after his misdemeanors. Wasn’t my favourite film of Washington.

Train to Busan ✩✩✩✩

Seok-woo and his daughter are on a train to Busan on the latter’s birthday to see his wife. However, the journey turns into a nightmare when they are trapped amidst a zombie outbreak in South Korea.

I love this film! It’s one of the best zombie, apocalypse films I’ve seen. Even seeing it a few times, it never gets tired. What is your favourite zombie film?

Hereditary ✩✩

When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter and grandchildren begin to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry, trying to outrun the sinister fate they have inherited.

I’d had this film recommended to me by a few people. So one afternoon when David was working from home and I was at a loss at what to do I decided to settle down and watch it. I was slightly disappointed with the film. Though there was tension laced throughout the two hours, I wasn’t freaked out or surprised by the ending.

Have you been disappointed in a film you hoped had been better?

White Noise ✩✩

An architect’s desire to speak with his wife from beyond the grave becomes an obsession with supernatural repercussions.

This 2005 supernatural film tries to be scary but has very few scares. Not one of the better scary movies made.

What’s your favouite scary movie?

In Time ✩✩✩

In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself accused of murder and on the run with a hostage – a connection that becomes an important part of the war against the system.

I remember watching this film when it came out in 2011. It shows a rather bleak world of the haves and have nots, with peoples’ time being currency and Timberlake’s character trying to upturn the establishment.

The Men Who Stare at Goats ✩✩✩

After his wife leaves him, Bob, a newspaper reporter, sets off to Kuwait to cover the ongoing war. He gets more than he bargains for when he meets Lyn Cassady, an ex-U.S. Army Special Forces operator.

A rather strange satire with Ewan McGreggor and George Clooney about the US military’s branching out into psychic abilities and the paranormal. I rather hoped it was a better film than it was.

RV ✩✩

Bob Munro and his dysfunctional family set out on a road trip to the Colorado Rockies. He decides to rent an RV for the vacation but things do not go as planned.

Stuck for something to watch, David clicked on this Robin Williams film from 2006. It was watchable but not of the usual calibre from Williams.

The Interview ✩✩

Dave Skylark and his producer Aaron Rapaport run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight”. When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.

David follows an airline pilot on YouTube and this was a recommendation from him, thanks Kelsey!! The film stars Seth Rogan and James Franco and follows their OTT satire on US and North Korean politics.

The Contract ✩✩

A father and his son attempt to bring in an assassin to the authorities, but his dangerous associates have other plans.

Something different from Morgan Freeman who is a baddie in this film, however his onscreen presence doesn’t help with it’s rather pedestrian pace.

Creepshow 2 ✩

Based on the EC comics of the 1950s, George A.Romero and Stephen King bring 3 tales of terror to the screen.

Oh dear! David just can’t get past the 1980’s when it comes to films. It may have been good for the day but in 2020 it was piss poor!

Radioactive ✩✩✩

A story of the scientific and romantic passions of Marie Sklodowska-Curie (Polish scientist) and Pierre Curie, and the reverberation of their discoveries throughout the 20th century.

I really enjoyed this film on Marie and Pierre Curie’s discovery of radioactive elements Radium and Polonium and of their impact for good or bad on human history.

Hot Air ✩✩✩

The life of the conservative radio host Lionel Macomb is completely turned upside down when his 16-year-old niece Tess suddenly shows up. The teenager questions everything he stands for and what he believes in.

Steve Coogan is an American radio chat show host with strong beliefs but when his niece shows up unexpectedly, it makes him question his life. It wasn’t a bad watch.

Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?

Thanks for reading and stay safe!

Christine x

My Father’s Daughter.

I didn’t enter the water gracefully. It was a precarious balance on slippery rocks, before I lost my footing, gasped as my whole body plunged under the waves. Though it was September and there was still warmth to the sun, the body of water that lay before me was chilling beneath the wind that whipped the surface into tiny white peaks. ‘Keep swimming,’ was the motto, and swim I did, even if the cold of the water numbed my fingers, made my skin tingle. 2 km didn’t sound like much, but previously I hadn’t had much practice. I was rusty and my muscles let me know it!

As a child, my family would have weekly swimming evenings at the local pool, followed by a chippie tea and Doctor Who on the TV. I was lucky to be born when the old Victorian school buildings still stood, before modernisation bulldozed them for clinical, soulless buildings. My school, red bricked and full of ghost stories had a wonderful heated swimming pool alongside it. Even before entering the building, with towel rolled under an arm, the smell of chlorine always tickled the nose, cleared the senses.

The noise at poolside was often deafening! Children shrieked with nervous excitement, trying to stay afloat with giant orange inflatables around their arms. I would emerge from a blue curtained cubicle like a butterfly from its chrysalis, proudly wearing my red swimsuit. Always, my father would be in the pool first, beckoning me into the cradling waters, challenging me. In his youth he had been a finalist in the inter-city championships, had numerous certificates and badges. He still enthused about the sport and would encourage me to swim further than I could ever think possible. 100 metres was a long way for a young girl.

Where I swam now was very different to a pool and I was no longer ‘Daddy’s little champion.’ I was a woman of 40. An infinite expanse of sky, pregnant with clouds arched overhead. Shingle beaches lined the shores and jagged mountains crowded around, like they were bringing me into their confidence. Crows shrieked their good morning. Day would soon arrive and with it the chance of rain. As I pushed my body through the water, soft like silk, Nathan sat alongside me, paddling silently.

I met Nathan at a turning point in both our lives. I was chopping vegetables in the kitchen of a hostel, where I was holidaying in Scotland. Onions sizzled in a pan while tears tore down my face. ‘Something smells good!’ I started and the knife I held clattered to the floor.

‘It’ll be a chilli once it’s cooked.’ I turned to face a larger than life man. He was still wearing his hiking gear and had trodden mud through into the kitchen. ‘Hungry?’

‘Famished!’ He grinned.

The evening sun dipped beyond the horizon, turning the clouds into a kind of pink blancmange. The air was still, sweetly scented. Spring in Scotland has its own beauty. Trees slowly unfurled their tender leaves and rivers raged with melt-water from the mountains. Nathan, freshly showered, and I sat on a bench eating our bowls of chilli in the hostel’s garden. A bottle of wine shared between us. ‘What brings you to Scotland?’ I asked.

‘Adventure,’ he shrugged, then looking up at me he said shyly. ‘A broken heart. You?’

‘I recently lost my father.’ I took a mouthful of bitter wine. ‘We had been estranged the last couple of years, so the news was pretty hard to take.’ I paused. Nathan sat silently, listening. ‘I just had to get away, escape. You know how it is?’ He nodded. ‘I just packed the car and headed up here.’

‘Planning on staying long?’

‘A day or two. Depends if there’s anything to stay for.’ It was then that we shared one of those looks and the world suddenly shifts. Two people, lonely and broken, found comfort in each other’s arms.

Two years later, I found myself immersed in nature, practicing for a charity swim. The northern shore of the lake loomed ahead, trees, tall and prickly stood sentinel. From the water’s surface I suddenly noticed a familiar figure standing motionless by the lakeside, his arm raised in a wave. I stopped kicking, felt my body suspended by the water, while minnows gently swam between my fingers. ‘Sarah!’ Nathan called. ‘Don’t stop!’

‘Do you see..?’ I shouted, treading water.

‘What?’ I looked back towards the shore, to where only trees huddled around a burnt shell of a building. ‘It was probably a dog walker.’ Nathan encouraged. ‘You’re almost there! Don’t give up!’ I stretched my tired arms forward and pressed on for the last 50 metres or so. Soon my legs hit rocks as I crawled out of the water. My muscles ached, my skin purple with bruises. ‘You made it!’ Nathan cried jumping out of the kayak, ‘and in under an hour!’ His feet splashed in the shallows before he draped a towel around my shivering body.

‘Maybe I am my father’s daughter after all,’ I panted.

‘And more,’ Nathan cupped my face in his hands. ‘He would have been amazed at what you can achieve.’ Wells of tears unexpectedly flooded my eyes.

‘Really?’

‘Yes. Sure, he would have been jealous. Swimming in a lake! That has to beat swimming in a pool any day!’

‘I suppose,’ I smiled through chattering teeth.

‘You’ve swam further than you’ve ever done before. He would have been so proud of you!’ I felt Nathan’s lips, hot on mine as he wrapped his arms around me. I leant into his warm body.

‘I know it sounds silly but I could have sworn I saw him standing by the boathouse.’ Nathan looked to where the wooden structure stood derelict. There was no other living soul, save them at the lake.

‘Perhaps he was, cheering you on as he used to.’

‘It’s a nice thought.’

‘Come, let’s get you warm. A strong, celebratory coffee is in order. Perhaps I’ll buy us cake!’ We turned our backs to the lake laughing as we went, and the rain that was promised began to fall.

© 2016 Christine Lucas


I haven’t written anything of note in a while. The above story was written in response to an advert for submissions for an anthology on wild swimming. Needless to say I was not successfully chosen, so I’ve posted the piece for you, my lovely readers. It was written with a word count restriction, so forgive the fractured feel to the narrative.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Christine x

Hans Zimmer – Live on Tour

03_HANS-ZIMMER_live-on-tour-2016_Foto_Steve-GilletI first realised the music of Hans Zimmer in The Lion King (1994), the soundtrack earned him his Oscar! I didn’t care much for the songs of Elton John but the orchestrated pieces were breathtaking. He managed to convey all the emotions in the film; love, terror, heartbreak and joy. Listening to Stampede, if you close your eyes you can imagine the buffaloes bearing down on Simba.

Over the years, I have accumulated many of his soundtracks. Fan based videos on YouTube are a great source to go to, as well as Wikipedia and Amazon. I could list all of his soundtracks, but I won’t. You can read more here.

Biography search results suggest that during his early career, as well as writing themes for BBC TV shows, (Going for Gold being one of them), he produced and featured briefly in the video of The Buggles’s number one hit single, Video Killed the Radio Star (1979) which was a theme from my early childhood. So even though I was not aware of Hans Zimmer as a composer, his music contributed to the soundtrack of my 80’s.

In 2001 he received great acclaim for his soundtrack to Gladiator. I was a little slow on the uptake but since then most of my free time has been filled with the music of Hans Zimmer. For me, he seems to be the go to composer whether you want to be energised as in the rollicking tracks of Inception or to have a good cry, the music from The Dark Knight Rises seems to hit a particular cord with me.

No other living composers music has had such a profound effect on me as does Hans Zimmer’s. So imagine my excitement when his Live on Tour was advertised last year! For many years, it has been a dream of mine to see the music of Hans Zimmer being performed by a live orchestra, but for the man himself to be performing on stage also is something I never comprehended.

hans 17

In London two years ago Hans Zimmer did ‘trial’ arena shows because he didn’t believe ‘anybody would actually show up’. I was tempted to go but the cost, not just of the tickets but of travelling and accommodation put me off. So last year on the day tickets were released I eagerly snapped up a couple for the Birmingham date. It may have cost a small fortune but to have a dream come true, it was worth it! A month later I was reeling as they released a new date in Manchester, but that is by the by. Birmingham it would be!

April 12th 2016: Being my nosy, inquisitive self I already knew what to expect come the day of the concert. I was looking forward to One Day from Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight medley.

The Barclaycard Arena was relatively easy to get to by car but due to certain roads being closed in major roadworks we left with plenty of time. Inside we were subjected to bags being searched and the boys being frisked! Once finally past security, I bought my programme which was £10, in London it had been £15! Then went in search for our uncomfy seats.

We sat in eager suspense for 40 minutes, then the lights in the arena dimmed and an excited hush murmured from the crowd. Hans Zimmer, his guests and a 70 piece orchestra took to the stage just after 8pm, even though there were still a lot of empty spaces in the audience. People were still being shown to their seats while the choir sang 160BPM from Angels and Demons, which irked me somewhat. I took some pictures but they weren’t very good. I wish I had taken my camcorder but didn’t know whether photography was allowed.

hans 3

What I like about Hans Zimmer is that he collaborates with (and mentors) people from diverse musical backgrounds and this concert was no different. It felt more like an ensemble production rather than a one man show.

The first set went too fast! I almost blinked and missed it! It was wonderful to hear so many favourite themes. We were entertained by Gladiator, Czarina Russell sung it so beautifully. The Lion King performed by Lebo M made everyone teary and Tina Guo flicked her hair as much as she did the bow across her cello for the Pirates of the Caribbean medley. The sound was impeccable, not ear tingling as in some concerts, and the lighting was inventful, in the second half of the show it became more akin to a rock concert!

There was a 20 minute interval. We went to stretch our legs before the darker second set began, which was filled with superheroes, inhuman guitar riffs and drums that reverberated through your body.

Even though at times there was a lot of bombast, the quieter moments where Hans Zimmer talked anecdotally about his career were more intimate, even in a big arena space.

hans 2

The Dark Knight medley did not disappoint. I sat through it tapping my feet and grinning, much like the Joker. I felt bereft when Interstellar pipped up. I knew that the show was drawing to a close. As the final triumphant bars of Stay vibrated around the arena, Hans Zimmer stood conducting from the front. The note faded and he took a bow as everyone in the audience stood to their feet. Some of us stayed standing knowing that he would come back onto the stage for an encore. I was surprised that quite a few people left before he came back to perform the medley from Inception. ‘Fools,’ I thought as Mombasa lit up the stage like a rave. The night ended with Time. If there was a piece of music that was written to describe the human condition, then Time would be it! Heart-achingly painful and yet so brief. The night ended on the wave of Hans Zimmer’s hand and the audience standing to its feet once again.

There are moments in life when I wish I could push the rewind button and relive the experience again and again. This concert was exactly like that, if I had a fairy godmother I would suggest Manchester! :p However I will just have to make do with watching the videos I took and others like them on YouTube. I hope you enjoy the concert compilation I have mixed below and any feedback is appreciated.

In the future, I look forward to Hans Zimmer’s next installment for the Ron Howard film, Dan Brown’s Inferno. I wonder if it will be just as good as his Da Vinci Code soundtrack?

I will end the post with Hans Zimmer’s own words taken from the concert programme. I found them very profound.

‘Concerts are in real time…I get to be…part of you; and you be a part of me. Only in this very moment does this exist. We’re lucky, in these tumultuous and violent times, to have art and music to lean upon and unite us. At this very moment it is at its most essential. It breaks through the boundaries…and just allows us to be people united in common enjoyment and pleasure for a few precious hours. My hope is that tonight my music speaks to you personally, wherever you are in your unique story.’

© 2016 Christine Lucas.