Film Quiz 2018 – Answers

ROUND ONE – BLOCKBUSTERS

1. What plot device was the excuse for Ant-Man not being involved in the story for Avengers: Infinity War?
– He was under house arrest.

2. Prior to the release of Mary Poppins Returns in December, which three musicals were the three highest-grossing of the year in the UK?
– Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born

3. In 2018, the Marvel Cinematic Universe became the first film franchise to release six $1 billion dollar films in the same series. Name all six.
– The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War

4. How many years were there between the release of the Incredibles and the release of its sequel?
– 14 (2004 to 2018)

5. Which May sci-fi blockbuster was described by A. O. Scott as “a curiously low-stakes blockbuster, in effect a filmed Wikipedia page”?
– Solo: A Star Wars Story

6. In which fictional US town is the original Halloween set, along with the 2018 sequel?
– Haddonfield

7. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released in IMAX 3D alongside which Jack Black film released in September?
– The House With A Clocks In Its Walls

8. How did Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively’s characters meet in A Simple Favor?
– Their children were schoolfriends (and Anna’s character Stephanie babysat for Blake’s character Emily)

9. Who voiced Peter Rabbit in the big-screen adaptation, released in February?
– James Corden

10. Which Spielberg film featured references to Jurassic Park, Big Trouble In Little China, Back to the Future, Robocop and umpteen million other pop culture touchpoint?
– Ready Player One

ROUND TWO – AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND CRITICS’ CHOICE

1. In which US state was the Sundance Film Festival held in January 2018?
– Utah

2. Which film won this year’s Oscar for Best Film?
– The Shape of Water

3. And who won Best Director?
– Guillermo Del Toro (for The Shape of Water)

4. Name the event, sponsored by The National Lottery, that took place in independent cinemas across the UK on 30th September 2018.
– Free Cinema Day (or any variation on that name).

5. Which musical act connects the films Phantom Thread and Suspiria?
– Radiohead (Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke did the scores for the respective films).

6. In which country was Pixar’s Coco set?
– Mexico

7. Which directors were responsible for the film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which was released on Netflix in November 2018?
– The Coen Brothers

8. Which comedian has pulled out of presenting the Oscars in 2019 after some controversies over Tweets posted several years ago?
– Kevin Hart

9. Which actor links Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird?
– Timotheé Chalamet

10. What was the name of the black police officer who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the film BlacKkKlansmann?
– Ron Stallworth

ROUND THREE – MUSIC ROUND

1. I learned to be ashamed of all my scars. “Run away,” they say, “No-one will love you as you are.”
– The Greatest Showman (This Is Me)

2. Now is the time, here is the place, this Slaughterrace!
– Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet (This Place Called Slaughterrace)

3. Cos you’re bringing me back to life, I was looking for something that I couldn’t find.
– Bumblebee (Back To Life)

4. I sing this secret song to you each night we are apart.
– Coco (Remember Me)

5. Surly Joe, Surly Joe, where the heck his face has got to we don’t know.
– The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Surly Joe)

6. Love of my life you’ve hurt me. You’ve broken my heart and now you leave me.
– Bohemian Rhapsody (Love Of My Life)

7. I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in, I’ll never meet the ground.
– A Star Is Born (Shallow)

8. You can stamp and scream out loud or you can trip a little light fantastic with me.
– Mary Poppins Returns (Trip A Little Light Fantastic)

9. This is a waltz, thinking about our bodies, what they mean for our salvation.
– Suspiria (Suspirium)

10. Your heart is what it is. You stood in the hallway staring back.
– Hearts Beat Loud (Hearts Beat Loud Pt. 1)

ROUND FOUR – NETFLIX OR NOTFLIX

1. A Christmas Moose Miracle – NETFLIX
2. We Wish You A Metal Christmas – NETFLIX
3. Driving Gnome For Christmas – NOTFLIX
4. A Christmas Prince  – NETFLIX
5. The Christmas Chronicles – NETFLIX
6. The Mayor of Christmas – NOTFLIX
7. Christmas Inheritance – NETFLIX
8. The Christmas Woodpecker – NOTFLIX
9. The Holiday Calendar – NETFLIX
10. Christmas Wedding Planner – NETFLIX

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2018 Film Quiz – free and just for fun

Here’s a quick film quiz to play with your office, friends or family over the festive period. No prizes – it’s free just for fun!

Answers will be revealed in a separate post.

ROUND ONE – BLOCKBUSTERS

1. What plot device was the excuse for Ant-Man not being involved in the story for Avengers: Infinity War?

2. Prior to the release of Mary Poppins Returns in December, which three musicals were the three highest-grossing of the year in the UK?

3. In 2018, the Marvel Cinematic Universe became the first film franchise to release six $1 billion dollar films in the same series. Name all six.

4. How many years were there between the release of the Incredibles and the release of its sequel?

5. Which May sci-fi blockbuster was described by A. O. Scott as “a curiously low-stakes blockbuster, in effect a filmed Wikipedia page”?

6. In which fictional US town is the original Halloween set, along with the 2018 sequel?

7. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released in IMAX 3D alongside which Jack Black film released in September?

8. How did Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively’s characters meet in A Simple Favor?

9. Who voiced Peter Rabbit in the big-screen adaptation, released in February?

10. Which Spielberg film featured references to Jurassic Park, Big Trouble In Little China, Back to the Future, Robocop and umpteen million other pop culture touchpoint?

ROUND TWO – AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND CRITICS’ CHOICE

1. In which US state was the Sundance Film Festival held in January 2018?

2. Which film won this year’s Oscar for Best Film?

3. And who won Best Director?

4. Name the event, sponsored by The National Lottery, that took place in independent cinemas across the UK on 30th September 2018.

5. Which musical act connects the films Phantom Thread and Suspiria?

6. In which country was Pixar’s Coco set?

7. Which directors were responsible for the film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which was released on Netflix in November 2018?

8. Which comedian has pulled out of presenting the Oscars in 2019 after some controversies over Tweets posted several years ago?

9. Which actor links Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird?

10. What was the name of the black police officer who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the film BlacKkKlansmann?

ROUND THREE – MUSIC ROUND

Name the film based on the song lyrics. The films may have been released in late 2017 in some regions.

1. I learned to be ashamed of all my scars. “Run away,” they say, “No-one will love you as you are.”

2. Now is the time, here is the place, this Slaughterrace!

3. Cos you’re bringing me back to life, I was looking for something that I couldn’t find.

4. I sing this secret song to you each night we are apart.

5. Surly Joe, Surly Joe, where the heck his face has got to we don’t know.

6. Love of my life you’ve hurt me. You’ve broken my heart and now you leave me.

7. I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in, I’ll never meet the ground.

8. You can stamp and scream out loud or you can trip a little light fantastic with me

9. This is a waltz, thinking about our bodies, what they mean for our salvation.

10. Your heart is what it is. You stood in the hallway staring back.

ROUND FOUR – NETFLIX OR NOTFLIX

Can you identify which of the following Christmas films are real Netflix releases and which ones are made up?

1. A Christmas Moose Miracle
2. We Wish You A Metal Christmas
3. Driving Gnome For Christmas
4. A Christmas Prince
5. The Christmas Chronicles
6. The Mayor of Christmas
7. Christmas Inheritance
8. The Christmas Woodpecker
9. The Holiday Calendar
10. Christmas Wedding Planner

Shortlists Announced for 91st Academy Awards in Nine Categories

The shortlists for nine categories have been announced for the 91st Academy Awards. These lists will be further cut down when the final nominations are announced on Tuesday 22nd January 2019.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“Charm City”
“Communion”
“Crime + Punishment”
“Dark Money”
“The Distant Barking of Dogs”
“Free Solo”
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
“Minding the Gap”
“Of Fathers and Sons”
“On Her Shoulders”
“RBG”
“Shirkers”
“The Silence of Others”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

“Black Sheep”
“End Game”
“Lifeboat”
“Los Comandos”
“My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes”
“A Night at the Garden”
“Period. End of Sentence.”
“’63 Boycott”
“Women of the Gulag”
“Zion”

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Colombia, “Birds of Passage”
Denmark, “The Guilty”
Germany, “Never Look Away”
Japan, “Shoplifters”
Kazakhstan, “Ayka”
Lebanon, “Capernaum”
Mexico, “Roma”
Poland, “Cold War”
South Korea, “Burning”

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Border”
“Mary Queen of Scots”
“Stan & Ollie”
“Suspiria”
“Vice”

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

“Annihilation”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Death of Stalin”
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
“First Man”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“A Quiet Place”
“Ready Player One”
“Vice”

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“Treasure” from “Beautiful Boy”
“All The Stars” from “Black Panther”
“Revelation” from “Boy Erased”
“Girl In The Movies” from “Dumplin’”
“We Won’t Move” from “The Hate U Give”
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
“Trip A Little Light Fantastic” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
“Keep Reachin’” from “Quincy”
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG”
“A Place Called Slaughter Race” from “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“OYAHYTT” from “Sorry to Bother You”
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born”
“Suspirium” from “Suspiria”
“The Big Unknown” from “Widows”

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Age of Sail”
“Animal Behaviour”
“Bao”
“Bilby”
“Bird Karma”
“Late Afternoon”
“Lost & Found”
“One Small Step”
“Pépé le Morse”
“Weekends”

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“Caroline”
“Chuchotage”
“Detainment”
“Fauve”
“Icare”
“Marguerite”
“May Day”
“Mother”
“Skin”
“Wale”

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Ant-Man and the Wasp”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Black Panther”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
“Welcome to Marwen”

Film review – Shirkers (Sandi Tan, 2017)

‘Shirkers’ is a quite remarkable documentary film. Written and directed by Sandi Tan, it tells the story of a potentially groundbreaking film created in 1992 by a group of three teenage girls in Singapore, the reels of which went missing shortly after filming wrapped, disappearing along with the enigmatic director.

Tan was one of the three young aspiring filmmakers behind the film. Her interviews with fellow creators Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique, both interviewed here and clearly heartbroken over their loss, reveal a truly enthralling mystery surrounding the film.

The director, Georges Cardona, is a name unfamiliar to most. It is unlikely that he was the man that inspired James Spader’s character in ‘Sex, Lies and Videotapes’, but Cardona wouldn’t let that get in the way of a good story. The picture painted of him here is one of a man full of lies. It’s a man desperate to succeed himself and not let anyone else around him get anywhere without him. There’s also a hint of inappropriate behaviour here – why was a married 40-something-year-old man going on a road trip across the USA with an 18-year-old girl?

As it all unfolds, it’s obvious how frustrating it is for all those involved. This was an exciting passion project that was already picking up a bit of buzz around the industry, which never saw the light of day. Had it been released, it could have had a huge impact on the Singapore film industry and the lives of those behind it.

Sadly, all we can see is the soundless footage and a remorseful memory of three young friends that lost a part of their youth, along with their friendship itself (in a recent interview with Vulture, Tan stated that the Sundance premiere was the first time her, Jasmine and Sophie were all in the same room together in over twenty years).

‘Shirkers’ is a must-see for any young aspiring filmmakers. Actually, it’s a must-see for everyone at all interested in films.

Why Netflix’s new Mowgli film is a waste of time and money

Andy Serkis’s take on ‘The Jungle Book’ is a waste of time and money. There, I’ve said it. It’s not awful. It’s not offensive. It’s just not brilliant. And as such, it’s not necessary.

This is a much darker take than more familiar adaptations, in keeping to the original Rudyard Kipling stories. This leaves it in no-man’s-land, not suitable enough for children but too boring to be enjoyable for adults.

We’re treading familiar ground here. It’s the tale of Mowgli (the impressive Rohan Chand), who is taken on by a pack of wolves after becoming orphaned in a horrific opening scene involving Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch). There’s some character development as he learns how to live in the jungle with his animal friends, including black panther Bagheera (Christian Bale) and sloth bear Baloo (Andy Serkis, sounding like he’s about to offer you the latest Bet 365 betting odds). Cate Blanchett features sporadically and inconsequentially as Kaa, the Indian rock python.

What really doesn’t work is the facial motion capture. It makes the animals look odd and is a distraction from the story. I’m not an expert. All I know is that it doesn’t work.

The interesting part of the film comes when Mowgli arrives in the local village and starts to learn to become more human, which is something explored much less in other adaptations. It’s not amazing, but it does at least do something fresh with the material, and it results in a fresh climax to the story (particularly when Mowgli discovers a distastefully familiar menagerie).

It’s just a film that doesn’t make any sense in terms of why it was released. If the budget was anything like Disney’s live action adaptation, it was $175m. It’s a big loss to take for any studio, even one of the size of Warner Bros.

Watching this on Netflix is watching something designed for a big cinematic experience in a manner that feels like a compromise. If no previous film adaptation existed, it would maybe feel effective. As it stands, it’s just a poor business decision to plough on to complete this project in the knowledge you’ll finish second – both in speed of release and final quality.

The only singing vultures present here will be the critics.

A failure in almost every sense.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs v The Future of Independent Cinema in the UK

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ is the latest feature film from the frequently-brilliant Coen Brothers, continuing their display of love towards the American Western genre. It is also their first for streaming platform Netflix, in a move that is becoming more and more common in the modern age of cinema.

The move to streaming platforms may feel progressive, but it isn’t great news for independent cinemas in the UK.

The film – more hit than miss

Watching ‘Buster Scruggs’, it’s easy to feel like you’re watching a Netflix series that has been mashed into a single film, perhaps to allow it to be considered as an Oscar contender. If this is the case, it’s a shame, though it is understandable.

It is, as is often the case with vignette films, a little hit and miss. The opening titular short is a high point, with a hilariously-positive character singing his way through a killing spree. Tim Blake Nelson is a joy to watch and his interactions with the locals is shot to perfection (pun not initially intended). Both ‘Near Algodones’ and ‘The Gal That Got Rattled’ are memorable and very much work in their own right, making me long for more of an expanded narrative.

‘Meal Ticket’ has really stuck with me and I kept thinking about it many days after I saw it, with Harry Melling starring as a limbless performing artist working alongside Liam Neeson. It unravels at a depressingly effective rate, with the final scene leaving me on the edge of my seat for all the wrong reasons. A perfect example of short film-making.

Whilst the ‘All Gold Canyon’ short is largely forgettable, it isn’t bad. It’s really a shame that the final vignette, ‘The Mortal Remains’, is such a disappointing way to finish the feature. It is neither emotionally effective nor steeped in humour, and it doesn’t really have much to say. It’s a missed opportunity to perhaps tie the previous five shorts together, at least with a thematic link. Instead it confirms the suspicions that these were six independently-realised pieces of art that function in their own right.

The Coen Brothers may deny it but it doesn’t run like a movie. The overarching theme is ‘American Western as a genre’ rather than there being a connecting emotional theme or associated character. Thankfully, it is a genre that the film-makers know how to handle and the results are more hit than miss.

The shift from ‘cinema as art’ to ‘cinema as disposable commodity’

Having recently become a father, Netflix is very convenient for me, but I’d never opt to experience a film at home if there’s an option to see it at the cinema. You can’t quite appreciate the magic of the cinema when watching on a small screen at home.

My main criticism, therefore, is that it was released in an exclusive deal with Curzon cinemas in the UK. As it happens, my location means I have close access to three brilliant independent cinemas: QUAD in Derby, Phoenix in Leicester and Broadway in Nottingham. Sadly, not one of these is part of the Curzon group; my nearest Curzon is 64 miles away in Sheffield. This led to Jake Harvey (Phoenix, Leicester), Caroline Hennigan (Broadway Cinema, Nottingham), Adam J Marsh (Quad Cinema, Derby) and the owners of twelve other independent cinemas to write an open letter to Netflix to reconsider their policy.

I sit on a film discussion group panel and I know that a good number of the members do not subscribe to any online streaming service. My mother, who previously attended a Coen Brothers discussion course with me, has no means of watching ‘Buster Scruggs’ unless it’s on at a cinema. By making this exclusive to Curzon, they have excluded a large demographic of their potential audience.

‘Buster Scruggs’ follows excellent Netflix exclusives like Annihilation, Okja and Roma, all critically acclaimed and well-received by cinephiles. They even funded the completion of a posthumous release from director Orson Welles. The quality is undeniable. The problem isn’t in the quality. It’s in the lack of support to  the truly independent cinemas that have supported non-mainstream releases for so long.

As it turns out, ‘Buster Scruggs’ is the first Coen Brothers film in over a decade I haven’t watched at the cinema. For me, this is a great shame and it’s saddening to think this is where some great directors are taking their latest pictures.

Overall, this is a mostly great film that some fans of the Coen Brothers will enjoy on the big screen, depending on a combination of a geographical lottery and your willingness to drive. For the rest of us, we’ll have to settle for the small screen and an increasing temptation to skip the bad segments, facilitating the shift from ‘cinema as art’ to ‘cinema as disposable commodity’.