Pop-Up Dreams

So last night I had great trouble sleeping; one of those nights where I seemed to be constantly waking up from a light sleep to keep checking my watch in complete bewilderment that it still wasn’t the morning yet and it didn’t feel like I’d slept at all. But insomnia aside I did also have a rather vivid and quite spectacular dream of an amazing pop-up cinema experience…

My dream had me sat one night on the lawn in Deans Park in York, Deans Park is the small and rather lovely park at the side of York Minster. I remember being sat there on the lawn seemingly completely alone and at first feeling overwhelming melancholy, but then something fantastical occurred! On the side of the minster a screen suddenly unravelled and behind me from some building or another came a bright white light that shone onto it and out of no where I was sudden sat with warm grass between my toes watching what appeared to be The Name of the Rose on the side of York Minster! A very aptly religious themed film for one of England’s most iconic religious monuments.

That dream stuck with me this afternoon and it got me thinking if money were no option what would be my fantasy pop-up cinema experience?

For those of you who have never come across the term, the concept of ‘pop-up cinema’ is pretty self explanatory. It’s a group of film fanatics or events organisers who take the film projector away from it’s natural habit of the theatre and out into the big, wild world outside of the picture house. Pop up cinemas can occur anywhere from somewhere as humble as a pub or a friend’s garden to much larger scale ‘theatres’ in abandoned train stations, old WWII air raid shelters or aircraft hangers!

My personal favourite pop-up experience was at the Abandon Normal Devices art and film festival in Manchester during August 2012.

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Mad Max 2 at the AMD Festival

The Empire Drive-In team from the US built up a cinema made out of old broken down cars and huge shipping containers. I watched Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior whilst sat on an old abandoned car. It was such a fantastic film to suit the rusty aesthetic of the cinema, as well as a brilliant homage to old style American Drive-Ins.

Speaking of idealistic themes from popup cinema I always come think back to this fantastic image of some cinema goers floating along in rubber rings watching Jaws!

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We’re gonna need a bigger, erm, rubber dinghy flotilla?

This is exactly what I love about good pop up cinema, it’s a special kind of experience where the cinema and environment its self plays a part in the atmosphere of the film. I bet there weren’t many feet dangling in the water after the halfway point of this film!

Whilst pop-up is growing in popularity it is still quite an underground niche.  Smaller scale events are becoming more frequent but the more ambitious and grandiose pop-ups usually only follow suit alongside arts festivals and special occasion events. The problem being the cost involved to put on such large scale events, not to mention the willingness to get local Council’s or property owners on board plus numerous health and safety concerns. Indeed a large pop up event as part of the International Festival 2013 at the ‘ghost station’ Mayfield Depot in Manchester had to be cancelled over increasing concerns over the security and condition of the old building.

What then would be my dream pop-up experience?

After thinking long and hard about this I decided on a screening of La Haine. Those of you who have seen this exceptional French film will know it is a hard hitting drama about social tensions, crime and inequality in Paris and portrays a lot of contrasts between the idealistic lights of the historic city centre to the dark, dangerous streets of the city’s ghettos; a location you won’t see on any postcards. Indeed there is a brilliant and powerful scene where the protagonists turn their backs on the city skyline and the Eiffel Tower and the lights blink out. So that’s what I’d do, perhaps it’s my inner rebellious Sociology graduate inside me but I love the idea of making a social statement with this film, screen it on the Eiffel Tower, switch off the lights at the end of the film.
Perhaps I’m dreaming, but watch this space if I ever become super-villain rich…

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“The World is Ours” a great motto for pop-up cinema enthusiasts
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Leonardo DiCaprio vs The Oscars: A Wrong Finally Righted or Just a Matter of Timing?

Much to the distress of tabloid journalists and the many, many “dank meme” reposters of Reddit, Leonardo DiCaprio finally got his hands on a statue of a golden bald bloke for his gritty portrayal of the gruelling and bloody freezing exploits of Hugh Glass in Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant.

For many critiques it was a long over due righting of an unjust wrong after 4 failed nominations in the past and even the BBC News website is headlining how DiCaprio has ‘finally got his Oscar’ but is this actually the case? Has Leo been wronged this whole time, or is simply more a case of timing and even luck?

Let’s have a look at the nominations…

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)Gilbert-Grape-whats-eating-gilbert-grape-33321122-960-540
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor 
Lost to Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

Way before Titanic exploded DiCaprio onto the screens and teenage girls hearts, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape gave DiCaprio his first major breakthrough as the mentally handicapped younger brother of Johnny Depp is this brilliant and powerful drama about one families hardships. DiCaprio is simply sensational in this role taking on Arnie and his many complexities with amazing electricity sensitivity and subtlety. In my opinion this is one of Leo’s most Oscar worthy performances and, as much as I like Lee-Jones in The Fugitive, I do believe it was very harsh of the Academy to overlook him here.

The Aviator (2004)The-Aviator-Stills-leonardo-dicaprio-4453485-400-258
Nominated for Best Actor
Lost to Jamie Fox, Ray

Leo’s first collaboration with Martin Scorcese brought with it the first of his Best Actor nominations. A well deserved nomination for his excellent portrayal of the rise to glory and fall into madness of the fascinating Howard Hughes. Deserved yes, but in my opinion not close to Jamie Foxx’s soulful performance in the brilliant Ray and indeed the real story of these nominations for me was also Don Cheadle’s nomination for the brilliant Hotel Rwanda, hard to pull these two magnificent performances a part both deserved the award.

Blood Diamond (2006)maxresdefault
Nominated for Best Actor
Lost to Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

A good film and a good performance by DiCaprio but Blood Diamond never really grabbed me when I saw it, which certainly did surprise me given the setting and tale of the film. The Last King of Scotland and Whitaker’s performance in particular picked me up and blew me away; in my opinion this was one of the most deserved Best Actor wins of the decade.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2014) Leonardo-DiCaprio-and-Margot-Robbie-in-black-dress-with-dog-in-The-Wolf-of-Wall-Street
Nominated for Best Actor
Lost to Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Another very memorable performance by our Leo in a very fun film, but at the same time I’ve never really felt like this film or DiCaprio’s energetic performance had that special something that sets it apart and truly reaches out and grabs you especially not when compared to the outstanding bitter-sweet performance of McConaughey which certain leaves it’s mark.


So is it fair to say that Leo has been unfairly shunted by the Academy up until last night?

Well, with the big exception of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,  I certainly don’t think so and to think otherwise would be incredibly harsh on the excellent performances that beat him. You could argue that the lack of nomination for his great performances in other greats such as the sublime The Departed or the excellent Django Unchained was also a travesty but in both of these films I still feel like there was that magic touch missing that truly stood him a part from other performances.

Leo is undoubtedly a hugely talented actor and I hope the above critiques don’t give the wrong impression as he is one of my favourite actors and I always enjoy watching films he stars in. He will deservedly be remembered as one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors from this new Century. He is incredibly adaptable, undeniably reliable, brings with him great screen presence and is excellent at being the lead that ties a film together. But I still feel like he hasn’t quite acted out his own masterpiece yet, I can’t think of one performance where he has truly stolen the show in the same manner as other contemporaries like Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, Philip Seymour-Hoffman in Capote or, as mentioned earlier, Forest Whittaker in The Last King of Scotland; I know he has that sort of performance in his locker but it hasn’t happened yet for me.

All of that being said I do believe he deserved the award last night. Another great performance in a brilliant film. I think perhaps timing was on Leo’s side a little as the competition did feel a little light in the Best Actor category , but still Leo made the most memorable and powerful portrayal from any lead actor last year. Well done Leo! I don’t think it will be last time he takes this accolade either.

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As a little aside I think the biggest travesty last night was actually Tom Hardy not getting the nod for Best Supporting Actor, the biggest performance in The Revenant by far… and don’t get me started on why Idris Elba wasn’t even on that list!

 

“Balloon, mein herr?”

I suppose one thing to mention is that I am not German, nor can I speak it; although I can sing a mean version of ’99 Luftballons’ when prompted!

So why did I call this blog Balloon, Mein Herr?

The title is a very simple line taken from one of my all-time favourite film scenes straight out of Carol Reed’s 1949 film noir masterpiece The Third Man. It comes from this scene (warning: spoilers).

For me this scene epitomizes the art and wonder of film making. The use of shadow and lighting is sublime, and is a fine example of the trickery that film makers can play on their audience. In a film full of enduring suspense and tension this is a cheeky way for Reed to have some fun with our anticipation and expectations. As an artform this is cinematography at it’s finest in my humble opinion.

Sometimes there are large menacing shadows around the corner in life, but let’s not forget that sometimes life has a wonderful way of providing us with humorous absurdity and unexpected pleasantries too.

I couldn’t think of a better line that symbolizes what I love about cinema. Carol Reed I salute you!

"Balloon, mein herr?"
“Balloon, mein herr?”

Welcome!

Good evening! Welcome to Balloon, Mein Herr!

This is a new blog designed for me to unleash my passion for films on the unsuspecting folk of the internet world. There is nothing I love more than talking about films, both new and old, so I hope to share my thoughts with like-minded individuals.

I hope you enjoy my blog.

Richard