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Monthly Archives: February 2015

“That’s Marriage”: Gone Girl and Relationships

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So, Gone Girl, huh? Pretty intense film.

I’ve wanted to watch it for some time now. In fact, I organized a trip with my friends to go see it when it was freshly out in cinemas. Unfortunately, another engagement came up, and I had to drop out.

My friends saw it anyway, and continually told me how great it was. Thanks guys. Anyway, SPOILERS to follow.

Anyway, some months later, I’m into my ‘2014 Film Catch-Up’ sesh, and todays film was Gone Girl. I’ve watched some pretty good films recently, but Gone Girl was definitely one of the best. I’m not sure if I prefer it to The Imitation Game or not, but they’re definitely close. Where The Imitation Game was moving and heartfelt, Gone Girl was tense and exciting.

Despite the fact that I’ve heard some claims that Rosamund Pike fell a little short as the titular Gone Girl, I think she and Affleck gave stellar performances. His inner darkness and desperation make me confident he’s going to be the perfect Batman, whilst her cunning and mystery was consistently enticing. When she sharply responds “That’s marriage” to his queries of how they can go on, my heart skipped a beat. Her acting was sharp and menacing, and she made the perfect antagonist to Affleck’s flawed hero. Her deception is such that for the first half of the film, it is honestly believable that he is the murderer.

Which, I suppose, also says something about the direction of the film. Fincher does a fantastic job in coordinating this piece. The camerawork and transitions between shots is excellent, and the tone never misses a mark. The cast has been chosen superbly; my only concern was perhaps Neil Patrick Harris, who I love, but at times just seemed a bit off. However, as the film progressed, that seemed more in line with the film, as he he became a suitable foil for Pike’s character. Even the brief appearance by Scoot McNairy was a powerful and moving scene, drawing sympathy and highlighting Pike’s performance to even greater levels.

But perhaps the best part of the film beyond Pike’s villainous persona was Affleck’s troubled anti-hero. When it is revealed he is having an affair with a younger character, the audience becomes disgusted, yet more drawn in than ever. I was no longer sure I knew what the outcome would be, or even what I wanted it to be, but I was invested to such an extent that I didn’t care. I just wanted to see what happened.

In my screenwriting class, we’ve been taught that character is key, and even if a character isn’t likeable, he must be someone you can understand and empathise with. The characters of Gone Girl are a perfect example of that, and is definitely one to rewatch as I move towards my assessments at the end of the term.

I think this film especially interested me because earlier today I also watched the film Adaptations in class. Adaptations also interested me, as the Nicholas Cage character of Charlie Kaufman reminded me of many of the insecurities I used to have about myself. Not that I’m fat or balding or anything, but more the missed chances I always used to think about with girls.

The problems of a teenager, eh?

And now the problems are more the ones I like turn out not to be how I thought they were, and the girls who show interest in me never seem to be what I’m looking for. Figure I’m just fussy. But at least I’m not with a girl whose liable to frame me for rape, blackmail me or slit my throat. God, Gone Girl was pretty dark.

But that’s just the thing, when it comes to these sorts of relationships, I’m awful at reading the signs unless it’s fairly obvious, or I’m drunk. Which is a fine line to dance in itself.

Take for instance this situation, wherein as I am writing this, I’ve just got a Tinder message. If you’re a keen follower of my blog (which let’s be honest, is probably a reference to no-one other than my mother; oh, depression) then you might remember I typed out a similar sentence some weeks ago.

It’s the same girl, which would indicate that she’s interested, but if you were to read our conversation, it’s pretty much devoid of any significant chemistry. It’s like we’re both just letting the conversation limp on because neither of us want to be mean and drop the other. It’s ridiculous. Or it’s a classic case of me being and oblivious idiot. But honestly, I feel like this one I’m not too far off the mark.

Urgh, girls eh? What’re you going to do.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Film & TV, Life

 

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Film Reviews – Lucy and The Imitation Game

Dire straights. I actually watched my next ‘to be reviewed films’ several days ago. But as usual, life has got in the way. Meeting with friends, juggling assignments and trying to figure out my future. Internal breakdowns are commonplace. It’s not pleasant.

Anyway, the next two films on the list are Lucy and The Imitation Game, which were both pretty good, but for very different reasons.

A Weinstein Company Film, Directed by Morten Tyldum

Released: 25th December 2014

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, James Northcote and Mark Strong

Have you ever been so certain of something that you won’t accept anyone’s opinion to the contrary, no matter how practical they may be? The same can be said for Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, where he plays the infamous scientist Alan Turing.

From the moment the film starts, Cumberbatch’s deep knowledgeable tones enforce a certain gravitas upon the screening. His narration is informative and the lack of true emotion in his voice is reminiscent of Sherlock and his sociopathic tendencies. It also helps set the tone of this bleak mid-20th century drama, and makes the switching between the twenties, forties and fifties much more sleeker.

To some, it may seem as if Cumberbatch is just repeating a performance, but in the Imitation Game, we see the actor portray a greater ignorance, awkwardness and innocence that makes it clear that the two characters are not just rehashes of one another. Here, Cumberbatch portrays a far softer genius; despite seeing that he is capable both physically and mentally, we feel protective of him throughout the film, even when he does things that other characters think to be unjustifiable. Likewise, Keira Knightley is similarly enthralling as the naive young Joan Clarke. She acts as a good mediator to Cumberbatch’s Turing; lifting him up in moments of obliviousness and granting him a true friend in the midst of both his personal and external struggles. The pair remain consistently captivating, and like Clarke, even when Turing has to make horrid decisions that toy with the lives of thousands, we still feel strongly for the protagonist.

The production was clearly aware of the raw star power they were throwing at this film, as the colour palette remain rather bland throughout; there is no visual spectacle to distract from the focus of the film which is very much character and social interaction.

What is even more impressive is the way that the film continuously twists advanced and complicated mathematics into something more akin to a game, as it allows the audience to be enthralled by a complex and diverse system by studying it in terms they understand. Which, frankly, is a stroke of genius in making this a true underdog story; it is essentially a tale of love’s lost and loneliness, and is surprisingly in keeping with the times, what with the debate on artificial intelligence and its dangerous new levels of capability.

With a bold plot, fantastic acting and some especially poignant underlying themes, The Imitation Game could perhaps be one of the finest films to grace our screens this past year. It’s definitely one of my new favourites.

A Universal Pictures Film, Directed by Luc Besson

Released: 25th July 2014

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Choi Min-sik, Arm Waked and Morgan Freeman

Review: Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Lucy.

Again supporting a fantastic cast and interesting premise, the film falls short on delivering a memorable story.

From the moment it hits our screens, Lucy is a beautiful thing to behold. The Asian city-scape paired with Johansson’s funky student wardrobe are both easy on the eyes, and Johansson’s laid back acting makes for a very empathetic protagonist. She is far more convincing here as a spunky student as opposed to the Russian super-spy guise through which she usually graces our scenes in the Marvel movies.

Unfortunately, even with the dulcet tones of the perfectly cast Morgan Freeman as a professor talking us through the possibilities of man, after the iniciting incident, it become incredible hard to find anything to connect with. Freeman essentially takes a back seat, only emerging to theorize what he believes is happening to the increasingly godlike Johansson, whilst the titular protagonist loses any humanity almost as soon as the powers kick in. There is no transition as she discovers her powers; she simply becomes a robotic super-powered being, and the effect is quite a jarring thing to watch. It takes half of what was good about the film, and ejects it a bit too fast for the audiences liking. Her coldness is portrayed admirably, but it doesn’t save the flick one bit.

Fortunately, as previously stated, the visual spectacle is really something. The colours are rich and vibrant, and the way Lucy interacts with her surroundings make the film a must-watch for that alone.

Like Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, Lucy is a sub-par story dressed up in some of the best eye-candy you’ve ever seen.

I’ll be honest though, compared to The Imitation Game, there isn’t really much else to say about Lucy.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Film & TV

 

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Film Review – The Interview

So as I mentioned yesterday in my Spider-Man geek-out, I have finally got round to my plan of going on a film reviewing binge. I’ve selected twenty to thirty films from the past year, and have begun watching and noting everything about them, in the hopes that I can get something published in the student paper (whose culture editor I recently unknowingly befriended, and then was subsequently invited to a meeting by) and have something substantial to e-mail to the admissions people at Falmouth University for my potential postgraduate degree.

The first on this list is The Interview.

A Columbia Pictures Film, Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Released: 24th December 2014

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park and Diana Bang

Review: In a time where Sony’s blunders are common knowledge, the viewing experience derived from watching The Interview is not all that surprising. A somewhat basic and mostly predictable flick, Rogen and Franco’s latest outing dances between moments of genuine hilarity and a somewhat miserable attempt at humor for which plot is sacrificed.

The Interview stars James Franco as Dave Skylark, a media personality who is known for his hugely popular show Skylark Tonight. So popular in fact, that it is revealed to be the favorite show of the Supreme Leader of North Korea. In a bid to help out his friend and producer, played by Roger, Skylark prepares to interview Kim Jong-Un, only to be confronted by the C.I.A., who want Skylark to use his unique opportunity to ‘take him out’.

‘To dinner?’, ‘for drinks?’, Rogen and Franco ask, in a scene that, although shorter than the clip that debuted online, still seemed to go on for far too long. And therein lies the problem. There are a huge array of moments within the film where the story could have benefited from a bit of bulking up, but that was forgone for some cheap laughs about ‘stink dick’, gay margarita’s and Kim Jong-un’s secret love of Katy Perry.

These mostly disappointing scenes are shot in the most basic format imaginable, with the most exciting camerawork being used as part of a joke that although amusing, doesn’t really warrant its return later on in the film. The camera is right to focus head-on on Rogen and Franco however, as they, along with it’s other two leads, Randall Park and Diana Bang, are some of the only redeeming features of the movie. The chemistry between the four of them is palpable, and although their characters are somewhat worn, the bromance between Franco and Rogen still tugs at our heartstrings. But unfortunately, this can only work for so long, as scene’s where they are separated see the pair’s characterization become a bit too extreme. Franco, although the source of the most laughs, seems a bit too unbelievably stupid at times, whilst Rogen, on the other hand, seems so determined with his characters want to move up in the production industry that he doesn’t even seem to want to be in this film.

Saying that, this is a film that I would definitely not trust to anyone else, as although they may have missed the mark on this occasion, it is clear that if this film were done by anyone other than the Rogen/Franco bromance, this film probably would have fallen even flatter. They had an interesting, if risky idea, a good cast and a budget that was obviously more than enough for what they wanted; perhaps next time a closer focus on story over a flurry of jokes might be better appreciated.

Good for some cheap laughs, some always-needed Franco and Rogen screen-time and perhaps the most adorable puppy you’ve ever laid your eyes on (it will kill you with its cuteness), The Interview is an okay film. ‘Okay’ being the optimum word.

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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Film & TV

 

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The Marvelous Spider-Man

I had originally planned to write a post about my writing future and a series of reviews that I had planned to do, starting with a review of The Interview.

But then I did my regular morning internet rounds and discovered something beautiful.

Marvel got Spider-Man back.

For those of you who don’t waste as much of their time on these trivial little details as I do, although Marvel obviously has always owned Spider-Man, in a bid to start up their film franchises, they dished the cinematic rights of each character to various studios. Characters like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Blade, Daredevil, Ghost Rider and others now had a shot of having movies made.

Unfortunately for Marvel, they eventually realized they were better at making these films than anyone else, but by this point they couldn’t technically make films of any of their major characters. Hence the sudden spiking popularity of the Avengers. Now some might argue the Avengers have always been big names at Marvel. But really, unless you read the comics and  watch the cartoons, you probably didn’t have much of a clue pre-2008. I remember making a status about the death of Captain America in 2007, and all I got in response were queries of ‘Who’s Captain America?’. That response would obviously be met with some ridicule now.

Anyway, another brief bit of back-story. Sony’s been in the shitter. You may have noticed.

Not only that, but their Spider-Man franchise has not been doing nearly as well as they had hoped. We were almost forced into a Spider-Man cinematic universe, which I honestly believe may have tipped the scales towards the death of comic book movies. The characters of the Spider-Man lore are rich and varied. But lets be honest. No one gives a shit. There are tons of more interesting Marvel characters who would make better movie stars.

So they made a deal, and although they still ‘own’ Spider-Man, they’re willing to share. Fantastic.

So here are some of the places I suspect/would like to see the wall-crawler show up:

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The first and perhaps most likely place is the upcoming Civil War. It was originally announced that the Black Panther would emulate Spider-Man’s role in the next Captain America flick, but seeing as he’s getting his own movie in the not too distance future and [possible spoilers] is suspected to have an appearance in Age of Ultron, I very much doubt Chadwick Boseman would scootch aside a little to give the web-slinger some space. And what with Spider-Man’s next installment having already taken the place of Black Panther, I’d say that situation is not unlikely.

This would be perhaps the best place because it would affirm Spider-Man’s position in the new Marvel Movieverse, post-Civil War, and make it believable that he could have perhaps been around but out of sight since the start of the first Avengers.

Plus, objectifying a young teen superhero to make their point would make Iron Man and Captain America’s struggle much more poignant and morally grey.

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One of the best original team-ups from Marvel has got to be Spider-Man and Daredevil. Street-savvy heroes who operate in completely different ways. One is mostly dark and brooding, the other quipping and aloof. Both love the thrill of superhero-ing. Now, Daredevil is soon to be getting his own show, that looks pretty interesting, if I do say so myself. But for the time being, he’s probably going to remain Netflix only.

Now imagine if Marvel and Netflix made another deal? A Spider-Man/Daredevil team-up movie. It would be a way of Netflix transferring their characters from big to small screen, and for Marvel to perhaps avoid the Spider-Man/Superhero over-saturation of the market.

They team-up, the fight, they reunite to battle someone like Mysterio, whilst Daredevil teaches Spider-Man how to make the streets his own, and Spidey teaches Daredevil to have a little fun. The perfect Superhero buddy cop film.

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Everyone wants to see Spider-Man join the Avengers. But if we’re honest, the Avengers have a good thing going. They’re bringing in new and interesting heroes, and they’ve already got Robert Downey Jr. hogging the limelight. They don’t need whoever is next cast as Spider-Man to do the same.

So a spin-off, much in the same vain as the aforementioned Netflix/Marvel idea. Let’s say the Avengers get taken out of the picture for a movie, but the world still needs saving. Who do you call? Looking at the above cover, you could already make a basic roster straight off the bat. Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Doctor Strange are all set to join the movie-verse in the near future. Perhaps just sub Ronin and Spider-Woman for Hawkeye and Black Widow as a means linking it to the main film and you’re golden. Just a shame Marvel can’t bag Wolverine as well, but then that could allow for someone like Black Panther to take his place. Give and interesting contrast between the street-wise thug that is Luke Cage and the majestic prince known as Black Panther. Talk about diversity.

Punisher 

 

As I’ve said, Wolverine can’t be used. Unfortunately, after Daredevil, he’d be my next choice alongside the Fantastic Four or the X-Men. But alas, it is not to be. So instead, why not throw in someone like Wolverine, who has had a similar relationship with the wall-crawler.

Picture this: Spider-Man returns for his next big screen outing, where he is plagued by the menace of the Chameleon. Framed for murder or theft, Spider-Man attracts the attention of The Punisher, who has made it his mission to end crime on the streets of New York City. The two fight, the Punisher proves admirably adept, and Spider-Man struggles with the morality of the Punisher’s methods as the pair bring the villain to justice.

3173470-thunderbolts+#115+-+page+1But then again, who says Spider-Man has to feature at all? Say Spider-Man shows up in one of the aforementioned franchises, then Marvel could use it to springboard another property of theirs; The Thunderbolts. Yes, at this stage, it would look just like they were copying Suicide Squad, but the Thunderbolts would already be mostly established villains and have super-powers. Bring in someone new as Norman Osborn, his identity still in-tact, as the Thunderbolts new Director. Perhaps start the film with flashbacks to Spider-Man’s conflict with the Venom suit, introducing him as well. Follow through with Baron Zemo from Civil War in the place of Swordsman. Whack in Bullseye from his inevitable appearance in Daredevil. Then maybe finish off with assorted villains from Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man or heck, even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

To be honest, Marvel could just throw any random villains in, and I doubt people would complain. Not everyone can have their own solo film to start them off.

Anyway, can you tell I’m excited? I’ll be back tomorrow with a couple of reviews for you. Squee.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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Life After Leicester

c-plus-school-letter-grade

Yesterday I felt like I was in a bit of a rut. I had been thinking about my time in university, and it had left me wanting.

I realized, as I have a couple of times before, that I’ve really not been making the most of my experience, as I remembered a speech we were given some years previous back in Sixth Form about the outcome of University. The guest speaker told us the definitions of the grades. He said:

“A first is for those who put in the time and dedication to get the best they can get. A 2.1 is for those who have done well, and had some fun; they’ve made the most of their time. A 2.2 is for those who have partied perhaps a bit too much. A 3rd..”, yadda yadda, something about how a 3rd is worse than a 2nd.

Now the reason this came to mind is because I had just recieved an essay that I had written about Doctor Who back from my tutor. She had asked me if I was okay with the mark awarded to me; a 2.1. But this made me think, although I have had 2.1’s before, if you were to analyse the sum total of my grades, the majority would be 2.2’s, bar this TV module and I think a module on the American west.

And frankly, that’s not very good; not because it’s a bad mark, but because I was happy with a low 2.1 and I don’t actually ‘party’ all that much, especially compared to other students I know who have better grades. I’ve got no excuse, and as the day went on, I thought more and more about the fact that I was destined for a grade that basically translates as ‘meh’ (it’s sort of like a C grade, I suppose; it’s fine, but it’s nothing special, and something I’m all too familiar with…).

So I started reviewing my options.

I thought once more about the possibility of becoming a firefighter. I’ve bought weights and a utility bench, and exercise far more now than when I had a gym membership. All I would have to do is retake my driving tests, and then that would be a very plausible solution.

I thought about travelling, and moving from job to job as I quested to see the world. But the frank reality is that I am shit at saving money. I have faith in my ability to get out of my overdraft once I graduate, but beyond that, I highly doubt I would have anything to get me across Scandinavia, Russia, Asia and back to the United States. It’s a dream that is perhaps a bit too big.

Then I thought about my dream of writing. As of late, my confidence had been shaken somewhat, as I joined a class on Screenwriting, which was filled with English and Film students. The pretentious kind as well. Don’t get me wrong; they’re nice people, but the majority of them couldn’t seem to answer the question of ‘What’s your favourite film?’ without some grand detour into the meanings of life and other existential thoughts, whereas me and my friend Jack, American Studiers both, said things like ‘because I like Jeff Bridges’ or ‘Because I wanna be a gangster’ (the latter was Jack, obviously, for a ‘gangsta’, I am not). We told the truth, and didn’t look to sound incredibly intelligent when answering such a simple question. Maybe their reasons were true, but they really didn’t sound it.

And I thought back to a talk my mother had with a former journalist. She indirectly advised me on the best routes into journalism. So I had a look at those, and I began to think once more about postgraduate study. I mean, my friends are all still going to be in university for another year, so it wouldn’t hurt to go back, kill the time that they’ll be away and come out with a degree that is actually worth something.

Having done a bit of research, I even know what Universities I would try and get into; to do Magazine Journalism, I would go to the University of Cardiff; keep things welsh, and study at one of the best institutes for journalism in the country. Alternatively, I could do Creative or ‘Professional’ Writing, in which case I would head down to Falmouth University. I have friends in Falmouth, so I would have people to hang out with, and potentially a place to live.

The icing on top of these respective cakes? I finally got round to purchasing a pair of climbing shoes. I figured if I didn’t do it soon, I would continue to lose motivation to go climbing, as the club continuously goes to a small rock climbing centre, as opposed to the bouldering facilities that I have realised are what I really prefer.

The excitement of climbing in potentially the most outdoorsy style there is speaks to me. I would love to be unburdened with harnesses and ropes, and free to scale cliffs in my free time.

But I’m not stupid; I know that if I did that, I would most certainly die.

So then I found out about ‘Deep Water Soloing’. What is that, you ask?

Well, it is exactly what I previously described wanting to do, but at the coast, where any mistake would instead land you safely in the ocean, within eyesight of similarly minded climbers, who would have boats at hand to fish you out. It’s arguably the safest way to go climbing without a harness, and frankly, I think it sounds awesome.

And you know where the best places for Deep Water Soloing apparently are in the United Kingdom? The coasts of South Wales and the areas around Falmouth! What are the chances.

The longer I thought about this, the more plausible postgraduate study seemed to me. I’ve done three years of university; I would honestly be okay with going somewhere secluded to study, if I knew that I was a drive away was some cool outdoorsy pursuit that I could do with my spare time.

Unfortunately, I don’t have nine thousand pounds to spare, so really all any of this has done is through my future into flux once more.

I had gone from having no idea what to do with myself to having a clearly defined plan for next year. And now I’m back to stage one.

Fortunately, I’ve realised I can still salvage a 2.1 if my dissertation gets a first…

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2015 in Life

 

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