SALT

Oh dear. I wanted to avoid the obvious Tomb Raider versus Bourne, but alas, that's exactly what this is. But not as good. At all.

SALT is like some retro love letter to late 80s actions films. Russia are the enemy, the cold war is still a red hot issue, and the lead character's a one-dimensional muscle fest...except this time, with a low cut vest and a 34DD chest.

If this had been made in the late 80s it would have been revolutionary - a female bond-style action hero would have been something a bit different. Luckily Demi Moore came along 5 years later with GI Jane to show everyone why that idea is a bit pants. Unfortunately, and I'm all for bigging up the ladies, Angelina is no different.

What would have made this interesting is to see how a leading lady would go about being the big bad Bond - surely with all those men in power an attractive spy would have no problem getting to the heart of an organisation and bringing it down using nothing more than a seductive wink and a bit of subtle feminine charm? No, apparently not. Ms Salt is just like Arnie, she likes to talk a little and tote guns a lot to get the job done. Sigh. It was an interesting idea which was shot in the face by director Philip Noyce.

The poster states clearly, 'who is Salt' like it's some deep mystery. Well, I'll be frank, I'm not the brightest crayon in the box when it comes to spotting plot twists but even I had managed to work this one out about half way through.

Big boo. However, one mildly interesting thing was the documentary on the Blu-ray which showed how they managed to successfully digitally recreate quite a lot of the action sequences and the 'elevator' scene (Mission Impossible 1 style). I had no idea I was watching a computer game, so I guess that's one progressive element to the movie.

Over all 2 out 5 - watch out for Angelina's unique running style.

Alice in wonderland - Disney (1951)

"Twas brillig, and the slithey toathes, did gire and gymble in the wabe..."

The sound of Sterling Holloway's voice singing this iconic poem as the Cheshire Cat is as nostalgic to me as warm rice pudding on a cold winters night. So, what better way to relieve the tension of work than through the mad language of Louis Carol and the vibrant colours and songs of Walt Disney.

This is by far the best adaptation of the book I’ve ever seen (sorry Tim Burton, but yours was not up to par), and is all the better for avoiding the grotesque Duchess and the pig story which haunted me from the radio edit.

As my favourite Disney - yes, I know there are many excellent others - this is particularly special to me, and so it seems, to Walt Disney himself.

Disney had tried to make this movie since 1923, when he made a live-action-animation hybrid film called the Alice Comedies (a technique which is both terrifying and impressive - it preceded Who Framed Roger Rabit by about 60 years) which proves Walt was somewhat obsessed with this story.

In the 1930s silent film legend Mary Pickford heard a rumour Disney were going to animate this treasured tales and put herself forward to play the lead character. All through 1937,1938 and 1939 Walt was working on the final look of the film story boarding with British artist David Hall. Hall's illustrations were brilliant, surreal, whimsical and macabre all at once, which frankly sums up Louis Carol’s original book.

After the war, Aldous Huxley wrote a screen play and Ginger Rogers recorded an album of songs, showing just how much this novel struck a chord with society at the time. However, it wasn’t until Mary Blair came along that the film took off.

Mary's tour of South America during the late 1940s was the catalyst to get the project moving again. Bold, bright and surreal the art of colonial areas influenced the final style and look of Alice. It was a change of pace for Mary who went on to design the look and feel of Cinderella and Peter Pan. But this distorted perspective and jolly colours have remained dominate in Disney's output even in recent times with Up and MONSTERS Inc.

But the most exciting part of the production story is about the Mad Hatter's tea party.

During the animation process, it’s not uncommon for the studio to film sections with actors to inspire the artists. The famous ‘tea party’ scene featured celebrated 'vaudeville' actor Ed Wynn as the Hatter. His talent for improv was so good, that from that scene they directly used his audio track, never needing to recorded his voice again. Moreover, his impulsive, spontaneous live performance was duplicated scene for scene by the animator’s pencils.

After watching this I thought of how much influence its had on cinema since. Forgive me if this is tenuous, but even with David Lynch. In particular, the moment Alice starts to explain what her mad world is, there’s a flickering moment in the river when we’re transported to Wonderland, yet it looks exactly like the real world. If anyone’s seen Mulholland Drive, then you might know what I mean. There's a seamless switch between real/ unreal which is not dissimilar to Alice...

Bridesmaids

So after much anticipation I finally got to watch SNL stalwart, Kristen Wiig's new film, Bridesmaids. Now, the risk with any film which manages to secure that much column space before it's release date, is that I feel I've already seen it before I get through the screen door. Sadly, this film fell into that category.

Now, I agree with all the reviewers and commentators (there was a LOT of talk about how women can be funny and how gender is not comedy specific). Yeah. Absolutely right. There were definitely jokes in there only the women in the audience would have appreciated (the 'adult sleepovers', the married 'hands off but get in' approach to romance) and some that I'm pretty sure only appealed to male sensibilities (the now notorious dress shopping scene).

Okay, I didn't wet myself, (mainly because I don't love gross out comedies), but I most definitely did LOL. The scenes at the engagement party were good ("you don't have a husband") as was the first class performance by sleaze ball John Hamm ("you're no longer my number three!").

However, having just been a bridesmaid, and judging this solely on the film poster, I thought there'd be a lot more about the whole wedding build up between the women and the absurd rituals of pre-marriage in America (rehearsal dinners anyone? it's not hard to eat a meal correctly). The bitchy cat fighting, dress shopping, present buying and getting in front of the camera hoo-har was saved for the two rival BFFs which was a shame, as the other female characters were pretty dyanmic.

I did like the nice twist on the 'traditional' romcom format, with the three female central characters fulfilling the role of love triangle. Namely, the old couple have been together for years, one finds a new interest and changes personality, they break up, but the damsel in distress is saved by the original and best.

But, that meant the sub-plot with the Irish copper from the IT crowd didn't necessarily seem that neccessary. I did like that he was a really 'normal' guy. If Jake Gyllenhaal turned up that would have taken the biscuit (not that I would have blamed Kirstin Wiig adding him to the script).

Over all a pretty good romcom, enjoyable and filled with sniggers if not belly laughs.
3.5 out of 5