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.

Dave

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Julien Donkey-Boy

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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.

Ben

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.

Dave. @DavidSAdamson

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

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 WorkerBlackjack 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!

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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.

Dave

This film looks great. Dave Grohl is a true legend of rock. He has directed his first documentary film and judging it completely from my love for Mr Grohl and this trailer I’d say it’s going to be tremendous.

Stories like this one are inspirational. The influence from technology on the arts is in many ways beneficial but like Dave says in this trailer, we are losing that human element to creativity. For me when I listen to music, watch a film or even (in some cases) look at a piece of art. It’s the fact that I know that someone, somewhere has created this using, whether it be natural or gained talent, their own imagination and creative flare that draws me in and interests me. This issue is huge in the music industry. I’m not into dance, dubstep or anything that sounds like it was made on a computer. I like people playing instruments; I like to hear the physicality of it. A drumstick crashing against a drum or a plectrum against guitar strings. Knowing that those sounds came from a human element and were not perfected afterwards using technology makes the music I’m listening to so much more impressive for me.

I think the same way when it comes to film making. I like directors who create there scenes in front of them. Utilising great production designers and costume designers to make their scenes have a real authentic feel to them. Adding things in later using CGI just doesn’t cut it for me. I feel we get better performances from actors this way too; they can truly immerse themselves in the world around them and become the character in the scene, rather than acting to a green screen. Film makers have been making films without CGI for decades and have created masterpieces like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (which I watched AGAIN the other day and realised once more how much I love it). CGI is over used these days; it is used in hundreds of films where it is not needed. It doesn’t look real and it always takes me out of the story. Maybe one day it will look realistic but until then, for me, CGI is just not ready. Directors should recognise this. It is lazy film making to simply say “we’ll add it in later”.

I like to look at it this way.

Christopher Nolan is a film maker who creates his scenes using sets and costume.

Michael Bay is a ‘film maker’ who uses CGI.

I’ll let you decide which you prefer.

Dave

End of Watch

Hand held camera films seem to be the ‘in thing’ these days. The horror genre over uses it (Paranormal Activity, Rec, Day of the Dead, etc) and even the Monster movie has started to dabble with it (Cloverfield, District 9, Monsters). Now we are seeing it in drama, with David Ayer’s End of Watch. And it works brilliantly. The films LAPD setting is its McGuffin; the real story lies with the relationship between the two main characters, Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Peña). Not only is it aided by the hand held camera work, but the sensational acting of the two pulls the audience in to their brotherly bond.

However, the film’s mature understanding of the use of the camera means that they sometimes strive away from the ‘Cinema Verité’ effect and turn more conventional. This helps as nearly all the key points in the film have quick, violent and gritty scenes, meaning the audience does not miss a thing.

What I enjoy about Ayer films (most of all during End of Watch) is how he controls the narrative so tightly that we never get bored, we never get lost, and we always relate to the characters. The film focuses on the day to day lives of these two officers, but also shows the stories of some Hispanic and African-American gangsters. Three different stories, all inter-related, yet it never seems to get tangled up in its own narrative web.

Ayer doesn’t hold back in showing the audience the brutal side of the streets of Los Angeles. He grew up in South Central, LA, a notoriously rough neighbourhood, and his knowledge of the dark and monstrous criminal world has led his films to reflect that knowledge. End of Watch forces the audience to see some horrifying images; knives sticking out of people’s eyes, cut up bits of bodies, children tied up and gagged by their parents. But we watch, and we stare at these gruesome scenes because we are (at least for the duration of the film) living what Taylor and Zavala are living.

Ayer has written and directed a master piece here, Gyllenhaal and Peña have given unforgettable performances, and together with the narrative twists and turns, its unconventional camera style and plot structure, there is surely a contender, somewhere, for an Oscar nomination.

5/5

(Ben Iland)