Check out the TV spot for Star Trek from the Super Bowl, this will be great. It gives me high hopes for the next Star Wars trilogy too.
Check out the TV spot for Star Trek from the Super Bowl, this will be great. It gives me high hopes for the next Star Wars trilogy too.
When presented with a Dogme 95 certificate at the beginning of a film, you know you are in store for an epileptic journey, both visually and narratively. And Julien Donkey-Boy does not fail to deliver. An alarming story that delves into the darkness of a disordered family, living in a nameless neighbourhood, schizophrenic Julien happily glides along, naively accepting his father’s brutality and his siblings underlying mental illnesses.
The visual style for the film (mostly following the rules of the Dogme 95 movement) is essential in the aid of telling the story. The frantic camera manoeuvres and and the use of natural lighting throw you into the berserk mind of Julien. In his house, the camera moves sharply to reflect the families broken state, whilst the scenes with Julien and his blind friends resemble its calming and benign nature, the camera adopts a less agitated disposition.
The proximity in which the camera can reach the characters during ferocious scenes supports in intensifying them, such as the scene where Julien is being told by his father to ‘slap his own face, then maybe he’ll wake up’. The handheld camera technique moves like the point of view of another character, and throwing the audience into the brutal situation.
The character performance’s are just as essential and tantalising. The film brings together Werner Herzog, Ewen Bremmer and Chlöe Sevigny, who’s realistic performances push the characters to their limits. Herzog, who plays the families father, is a man who craves an almost fascist sense of order. It is this order that you could blame is the families misfortune. Even though Julien (Bremmer) has a mental illness, his sister and brother are both equally as corrupt. She (Sevigny) is having a baby by her brother Julien. She seems sound of mind, despite the fact that she is having a child by incest; it is more of an absolute attack against the father’s dictatorial sense of control.
In a strange sense, Julien is the most free. His disability gives him the ability to socialise and to act outside the bounds of his father’s control. His friends are blind, and all of them live relatively free and happy lives (even, for example, when they talk about death), compared to that of Julien’s family.
If you are a fan of Dogme 95, then you should definitely check out Julien Donkey-boy. This is dittoed if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned actors, as their performances are fascinating.
When you’re at the bottom, things can only get better, right? Wrong, at least if we follow the pessimistic view of Gary Oldman’s directing debut, Nil By Mouth.
Centered around an unstable South London family, Nil By Mouth is swarming with disjointed characters, shots and mise-en-scene, and grotesque dialogue, which ultimately confines the viewer into a violent and filthy world. It is in this world that we see the disastrous lives of Ray (Ray Winstone), Valerie (Kathy Burke), Billy (Charlie Creed-Miles) and the people around them.
From the first shot we are bombarded with packed visuals, zigzagging lines, people move negatively across space and often blocking of our point of view. This is the method that is followed throughout the film. The claustrophobic, smokey scenes filled with juxtaposed, non-linear objects not only promotes a sense of disorder but also an unsettling nausea. This can be reflected not only by the films audience, but its characters alike. Each character is deprived of control; control over themselves, their loved ones, and even the environment around them. This is where the conflict in the film derives from, each character needing to gain control for whatever reason it may be. For Ray, it is control over his wife. For Valerie it is control over herself. Both are unobtainable.
Oldman has taken a negative approach not only to father figures in Nil By Mouth, but also to men. The abundance of negative male characters outweighs the positive female characters, and as the film procedes a clear divide is found. Valerie leaves Ray after he brutally attacks her whilst she is pregnant and kills her unborn baby. Alone, and totally out of control (including himself), Ray destroys his and Valerie’s home in a drunken rage. He reminisces about his abusive, alcoholic father, as he slowly starts to realise he has become him. Valerie moves in with her mother, Janet (Laila Morse) and grandmother, Kath (Edna Doré), where she is taken care of. The film reaffirms the importance of maternal strength, and the safety and comfort that is joined to that. Oldman mentions this in a short interview available by the following link – http://tinyurl.com/a9bbjno
The film is a masterpiece of acting and cinematography, and what I would regard as British gem.
So Christmas has passed and one of my many kindly received gifts was a small book called ‘The 101 Horror Movies You Must Watch Before You Die’. It’s basically exactly as it sounds, a long list of horror films recommended to audiences based on their popularity and influence on the genre. What’s great about it is that it gives you all the films in chronological order from 1919’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to 2007’s The Orphanage and separates them into decades. Naturally; I jumped straight to the 80’s. Something about 80’s horror always appealed to me, American Werewolf in London and John Carpenter’s The Thing being my two favourite horrors of all time. I think it was the way they experimented with special effects during this era that had me fixated with it as a child.
Anyway, the first film in the 80’s section was Italian film maker Ruggero Deodato’s controversial film Cannibal Holocaust. I had heard about this film. I knew that it had been banned on its original release. I presumed it was probably going to pretty fucked up. Yet; I immediately got a hold of a copy and started to watch it. It would be an understatement to say that it shocked me.
At first I thought the film was just mindless violence and sexual violence because, well, it was. But I still didn’t turn it off. My book had recommended it so I was going to sit through it. Scene after scene passed by with people being killed and eaten and women being sexually assaulted, it was truly disturbing t watch. Then there was a scene where a man cuts open a musk rat. This scene was different. It looked different, felt different. The special effects seemed to be a step ahead of what I had seen in the film so far. Still I carried on watching. More people were eaten. More heads stuck on spikes. More bones made into necklaces.
Then there was another scene with an animal being killed. This time a large turtle/tortoise, I don’t know the difference. Again this was different; these scenes did not look fake. I couldn’t shake the thought of it so I grabbed my book. Having not read anything but the title of the film to avoid reading spoilers I began to read. It turns out the reason for the film being banned was not just for its disturbing subject matter. The animals killed in the film were all real live animals. This shocked me more than watching the film. The film suddenly became real. It pleased me to find out the director was put in prison for four years for the cruelty he showed towards the animals in the film.
Weeks on I still couldn’t shake the thought of Cannibal Holocaust from my head, the reason for this blog; I started to think whether or not, the film had succeeded in some way. Yes killing the animals in this film was brutal and wrong. But Deodato’s goal, like most film makers goal, was for his film to be noticed. It has certainly stuck with me. It made me think about the lengths people would go to in order to be successful and it kind of creeped me out a little.
Despite all this the film did have some redeeming qualities. Most of the second half of the film was in the style of the found footage movie. Very popular today and thought to have been pioneered by The Blair Witch Project in 1999, it again made me think. Maybe if Deodato hadn’t killed those animals and got his film banned, perhaps the film would have made it into the headlines for an entirely different reason to why it did and his career might not have gone down the shitter.
If you haven’t seen Cannibal Holocaust I’m not recommending it. Yet it is rather interesting in a slightly fucked up way. So for those of you who like stuff like that, you should definitely watch this.
‘Django Unchained’ is quintessential Quentin Tarantino. In his typical fashion he bursts open chests and spews out guts, whilst maintaing a conventional and (what I would describe as) an overly simplistic narrative. This may sound like the key ingredients for a classic B-Movie, and, it is, but as Tarantino has shown time and time again, he can pull it off.
‘Django Unchained’ accompanied by its Academy Award winning director, has a fantastic array of actors, Christopher Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio, just to name the leads. Most notable in this beautifully explicit film is Waltz, playing a German bounty hunter by the name of ‘Dr. King Schultz’ (which has lead to him to be nominated for an Oscar). Schultz, quick witted and eloquent, captures the audiences attention from the start with his mysterious and humorous persona; he is immediately ‘likeable’.
Django (the D is silent), played by Foxx, does not have the most complex character to play in the film, yet is able to show his versatility as an actor. Django moves from being a broken and crippled slave, to a free man engulfed by the determination to free his wife from the ironically named ‘Candie Land’. It is not until Schultz’s death and Django is on his way to the ‘LeQuint Dicky Mining Co.’ that we really see him personify the myth that Schultz recites earlier in the film.
The introduction of DiCaprio welcomes the beginning of the final chapter in the movie. His character, Calvin Candie (owner of ‘Candie Land), is despicable, even though he holds the same talent for romantic language as Schultz. They are both parallel and contrasted at the same time. This element causes the upmost friction between the two; they put on an act when they first meet and at the dinner table, both of them pulling facades to get what they want (Candie wants money and Schultz wants Django’s wife’s freedom). Their relationship is interesting from start to finish. Even after Candie forces Schultz to pay $12,000 for Django’s wife and her freedom, it seems as though the trio are free. It is only when Schultz’s and Candie’s personalities colide together that Django and his wife are really thrown in the deep end.
To top the film off, the introduction of Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s head servant, Stephen, encapsulates all the comedic and yet highly serious points that the film makes. He is a black man, yet constantly pokes fun at the other black people at Candie land and it adds a fantastic level of comedy to the film through a serious issue.
The film can be seen as a critique of many issues, but mostly of America’s prehistoric views on race and equality. By introducing a German as deuteragonist is a clear showing of the advancement of European thinking; Schultz not only hates the slave trade, but who is (until he trains Django) the only one who can bring American criminals to justice. For example, the whole town of Daughtery do not even know that their own elected man of law, the town sheriff, is a fugitive. It is Schultz, a German, who is aware of the sheriff’s identity. The point is reiterated again as a clan raid is humiliated by not being able to see through their hoods. They are rendered ‘blind’, and their blindness gets them killed. Who by? The European and the black man.
Away from any allegories, the film is fantastic and highly recommended to any Tarantino fan, and anyone who enjoys comedy, action, blood and guts and fantastic acting all in one film.
We’ve had a pretty awesome year with Juggernaut and are diving head first into our second year. I just wanted to thank a few people for helping us out and taking part in some of our best productions. Brett Amer and Val Hutchinson for their amazing portrayals in our short film Office Worker. Blackjack for working with us to produce a fantastic music video, they are very talented lads. Louis and Heather from Inkmash for, well everything. Carl Lister – Designer for providing us with everything we need in graphic design and especially Laura Foster and Angela Anderson from Creativitiworks for helping us out with so many things as we’ve been getting on our feet. We all appreciate everything!
Gangster Squad….. OR, The Untouchables for an Idiot Generation
Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad has an all star cast of old and new talent. Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone to name a few. All of which are a pleasure to watch on the big screen. This film has the potential to be astounding. For me though, it seems to fall short of what it could have been. I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong but throughout the film I found myself constantly waiting. Waiting for more. Waiting to see something original. Something new. I was left waiting even when the credits rolled.
At this point I thought why didn’t I just watch The Untouchables? The narrative is almost exactly the same. The premise at least. It was a dumbed down version of The Untouchables. The story follows Sgt John O’Mara as he puts together a team of odd ball police officers to take down crime lord Micky Cohen’s operations in the city of Los Angeles by destroying every aspect of his syndicate from the ground up. Very similar to The Untouchables. The team O’Mara assembles is made up of people with different specialities, the brains, the brawn etc. It’s all in all, very obvious. From the moment you meet characters in this team you know which ones will kick the bucket. Writers seem to use the same conventions over and over again to ‘humanise’ characters so that it means more to audiences when they are sent on “a vacation in a pine box”. It’s frustrating.
The film was very obvious from start to finish, it felt like they had taken the basic core premise from The Untouchables, added comic book like caricatures instead of characters and simplified the narrative, not to mention ploughing in as many slow motion shots and cheesy one liners as humanly possible into there such as “here comes santa clause!”. It’s almost as if Fleischer has remade The Untouchables twenty odd years down the line and dumbed it down for todays ‘all I want is explosions, boobs and swear words’ generation. My generation in fact, unfortunately. 2D characters and a predictable storyline with impressive special effects and fight scenes, for me doesn’t match up to a gripping narrative with complex characters. I suppose the difference is The Untouchables is a realistic thriller and Gangster Squad is an, at times, ultra violent action movie.
BUT as much as it was missing the same level of gripping narrative as its predecessor it seems to be very proud of its ultra ‘cool’ cinematography. With a concentration on slow motion in many action scenes it feels a lot like a Zach Snyder film, which I did enjoy in a sense that it felt like pure geek porn. The film looks great. The sets and costumes are amazing, truly capturing the era depicted and Sean Penn’s makeup had me mesmerised. It transformed his face and often made me forget I was watching Penn.
It’s an easy watch, easy to follow, exciting at times and makes that lifestyle look very desirable. But in terms of story…… It was obvious. So, I’m going to watch The Untouchables.