Category Archives: Film

Sneaky Experience: 80’s edition

I’ve been following Sneaky Experience on Twitter for ages now and knew it was something I wanted to try. They screen secret films at secret locations with extra touches that add to the fun and make it more than just a pop up movie theatre. Their latest project, featuring cocktails, a roller disco and non-optional 80’s fancy dress, seemed like too much fun to miss out on so a group of us booked tickets and went along at the weekend.

Before any of their events, Sneaky will post a whole host of clues and instructions online, so you’ll want to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook. We had to choose one of three groups (opportunity, dreams or wellbeing), and were instructed to wear sunglasses and an ID badge ‘to easily identify fellow recruits.’ This, along with the fact we were greeted by military types in flight suits, tipped us off that the film would probably be Top Gun, and we were right!

The group we chose was opportunity, and it was definitely a good call. After being put through our paces outside, with salutes and marches, we were the first group allowed to get inside the venue, a TV studio on Kirkstall Road. This meant we were also the first ones to hit the bar! As everyone had had to make their way to the venue in broad daylight in various extremes of 80’s attire (I salute you, girl dressed as a Rubix Cube), there was an audible sigh of relief as we started sipping the cocktails expertly mixed by Twist Mixology.

Once I’d polished off my first Cosmo, I was ready to hit the roller disco! This was an absolute riot: I thought that despite having not touched a pair of skates in almost 20 years I would probably pick it up alright, but actually I was INCREDIBLY WRONG. Think Bambi times ten and you’re almost there! To add insult to injury, there were some blatant professionals whizzing around making me look even worse! I still had a great time though, despite my damaged pride, and I did avoid falling, which I’m chalking up as a personal victory.

Outside there was even more to do, with the Diamond Dogs hot dog van serving up great hot dogs (including one topped with pulled pork and one slathered in hot sauce and jalapeños), and The Marvellous Tea Dance Company selling retro sweets (Wham bars! Pink shrimps! Refreshers! Oh happy days) and cupcakes topped with flying saucers and the like. There was also a graffiti artist at work, a sale of retro video games and board games, and a volleyball court, as well as at various stages, actors in costume acting out scenes from Top Gun.

The film at this point seemed almost like a distraction from the fun, but nevertheless we settled in for the screening. I’d never seen it before, so wasn’t sure what to expect, but now I’ve watched it I appreciate what Sneaky do so much more! Top Gun is over the top and cheesy and the evening was matched with it perfectly. They always create an evening that’s perfectly in tune with the film, such as their screening of Nosferatu with live orchestra at Left Bank, or Indiana Jones at Temple Works. Every detail was chosen to complement the experience and make it a great night well worth the £12 or so ticket price. In that spirit, once the film finished the chairs were pushed aside and we danced the night away to 80’s classics.

I also loved the local slant put on the event. Enjoyed the roller disco? Hang on to the Leeds Roller Dolls leaflet on your chair. The food? From Yorkshire suppliers. The actors? Local volunteers. Crafts and art? From Leeds based artists. It was a triumph! We had a fantastic time and I’ve been telling everyone about it ever since. If you get chance to attend one of their events then don’t hesitate: they’re tons of fun. The night wasn’t perfect – I’d have loved shorter queues at the bar, for example, though the generous measures were right up my street – and there were a couple of technological hitches, but I say this purely in the spirit of honest feedback. Overall it’s a wonderful, unique experience and one that I’m sure will continue to get even better as it grows.
(Added bonus: I never got the Tom Cruise thing until watching Top Gun. The character’s a tool, but back in the day Tom really had it!)

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Gatsby: rebooted


Great Gatsby Baz Luhrmann

Apparently I’m living proof that advertising works. As someone who’s completely apathetic about both The Great Gatsby and Baz Luhrmann, and actually most films, I shouldn’t care less about the new Gatsby film, but since I saw the trailer and realised how well cast and visual it looked, I’ve been hankering to go see it.

Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed! Visually this film is absolutely stunning: the party scenes are as wild and debauched as anyone could wish for, the houses are grand to the point of obscenity and the costumes are fabulously lush. Leo is absolutely fantastic as Gatsby, giving a nuanced, elusive performance that got me much more on side with him as a character than I am with the literary verson. It’s a shame we don’t see more of Isla Fisher, but Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker was a pleasant surprise for me. Carey Mulligan delivers as always with an indecisive, rather weak Daisy, and Tobey Maguire is just perfect as the gauche Nick Carraway, the narrator who is never really part of the events around him.

The narrative is largely faithful, leaving very little out. The story is told well and there are moments of humour and intensity that thrill and surprise. The chemistry between Daisy and Gatsby is electric, and in the scenes when they first met again, there was a passion and fire that I always felt was missing in the novel. On the other hand, though, the directing and the script lack any subtlety at all, and the things that Fitzgerald hints at or guides the reader towards are spoon fed to the audience, often multiple times. If you must baldly state these delicate nuances, at least respect your audience enough to only say it the once, right? I did find myself rolling my eyes a bit at this, but not to the point that it spoiled my enjoyment.

There’s also a queer device used whereby Nick is telling the story of Gatsby from the refuge of a rehab centre in 1929, as therapy. I didn’t feel it added anything to the story and would rather have seen that screen time spent with some of the more interesting characters since these scenes were less than compelling.

I’m being picky, though. I loved the film, really. The first half was like going to one of Gatsby’s huge parties, a fascinating trip through the twenties with great music and illegal booze and everyone who’s everyone, and the second half was like the hungover breakfast the next day, sharing the gossip, cleaning up messes and dealing with the fallout. Fascinating.

We went to see this at the new Everyman cinema in Trinity Leeds, so expect a blog post on that soon! (Spoiler: loved it.)

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