Halloween Is Nigh – Time For The Best Horror Films

Seeing as though Halloween is nearly upon us and I am unable to post this on the actual night of Halloween, I felt it appropriate to talk about my favourite horror films. I should mention from the start as well that I mean horror films with substance, not trashy Hollywood slashers with a star studded cast, excessive budget and as much substance as a meringue. It’s interesting because I barely ever talk about horror films , mainly due to the fact people have different ways of splitting films into genres and it all becomes very confusing when opinions clash. So what I have compiled is a list of my favourite films that are widely accepted as being part of the horror genre.

First to kick us off I have to talk about Danny Boyle’s 2002 film ’28 Days Later’, one of the best zombie based films of the modern age. It’s very easy in the climate of modern mainstream cinema to make a loud and trashy zombie film that is in all honesty just plain awful and yet people will still throw money at it. What Boyle did in this case was make a film based around a zombie apocalypse and make it more human. By this I mean it had characters you cared about, ones that you follow on the journey, to the point where you genuinely care about what happens to them. Not only this but it explores the social impacts that are caused by such an event, not just the obvious flesh eating issues but the issues linked to how people respond and what happens to human behaviour. I will never forget one of the opening shots from the film in which you see this vast landscape of the streets of London completely empty. It was a huge achievement of cinema and a shot that shook me right to my bones and made me feel cold. Genius. 

Before starting this post I discussed it with some of my friends and followers on WordPress and they requested that I didn’t mention Ridley Scott’s sci fi horror classic ‘Alien’ because I have talked enough about it before in the past. I’m sorry to say that I have let those people down because I’m going to quickly reference it here. It is very near perfection, to put it bluntly. Intelligent, gritty, and beautifully designed. 

Next on the list, and one that arguably should be on anyone’s list for horrors and that’s Stanley Kubrick’s classic ‘The Shining’ which is a perfect display of how to make a true chiller that will scare the living daylights out of you. Some people would say it’s a cliche to like this film because it’s one that’s famous. My response to this is simple, in the words of David Mitchell “no people shouldn’t believe that, it’s b*****s”. Based on the novel by Stephen King the film is a very good adaption, with Diane Johnson and Kubrick himself doing a terrific job with the screenplay. The cast is famously knock out, with Jack Nicholson at the helm giving the performance of a life time, it was clear to see what everyone involved in the making of the film cared about the project and wanted it to be good. With stunning directing and vivid imagery you’ll never forget, I think we can all agree they succeeded?

With this next one I feel as though I should make myself completely clear; when I say I like ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ I am referring to the 1984 masterpiece by Wes Craven. Not Michael Bay’s insult to the film from three years ago. The original is one of the best horror films you will ever watch. Cleverly mastering the use of plastic in cinema, the film moves away from horrors being slashy and gory and turns it more towards being scary and absurd which works perfectly. Wes Craven spoke about the film before and even he himself referred to it as “surrealist cinema” because he wanted it to be an experience that the audience had not had before and one that would stand out. He wanted it to look so realistic that it would be obscure of the audience to witness, for example the scene with the telephone. Those who have seen the film will get the reference.

For me it’s special as a horror because it has a strong story with depths and meanings to it. The idea of Freddy Kreuger is crucial because essentially he is a representation of the sins of the parents coming back to haunt the children, it’s this whole idea of an eye for an eye wrapped in this underlying theme of parents having to accept they can’t protect their children forever. That is why I love the original so much. That is why the original is a piece of artistic genius. That is why the remake by Michael Bay is appalling because he couldn’t manage to see past the glove. He thought the main idea of Freddy was the spiky claw like glove and that he was violent which is so far from the truth, and I know I will sound like a grumpy old man for saying this but I would like a written apology from Michael Bay for making the film and ruining one of the greatest pieces of horror ever to be made.  

The final film I feel I should mention, and for me this the single greatest horror movie of all time is the 1960 masterpiece from Alfred Hitchcock himself ‘Psycho’. Now I know already that some would class it more as a horror-thriller, but essentially it is a horror film. If you were to look up the word ‘horror’ in a dictionary, and let’s assume for the sake of the argument you were stupid enough to need a dictionary that has pictures in it, the defining image you would see is a black and white still of a knife going into a shower. The film is as and I dare say it: perfection. The story is incredibly strong, along with the cast who all give amazing performances, but the essential element to the film is the Hitchcock touch. The tension, the attention to detail, the camera angles, the pace, it all works superbly to build one of the single greatest pieces of cinema you will ever see.

Again, some people will say it’s cliched to have this film on my list of favourites, and again these people show that their IQ can be found on the face of a dice. The trouble with people of my age is their impatience. Because we’re all still young and used to mainstream rubbish like ‘Saw’ people under the age of eighteen don’t have the patience to watch a black and white film. And that just makes me feel slightly ashamed of the generation I am from, because they are restricting their own cultural interests and preventing themselves from experiencing a piece of artistic genius from one of the greatest minds ever to have lived. Luckily I can appreciate what a huge achievement of cinema it is, with Hitchcock breaking the mold in the 60s and presenting a film that had nudity and blood in it, along with killing off his leading lady quite early in to the film. It was a huge movement for film and one that Hitchcock was daring enough to make. 

Apologies if you were expecting a list of modern slashers that are repeated every other friday on channel 5, but those are films I try to avoid like the plague. The reasons I don’t talk about horror very often is because I come from an age group that has grown up with such rubbish, and it’s made our understanding of what real horror is become somewhat warped. We see blood and guts splattered across the screen and think “that’s horror!” which isn’t what horror is about. It’s not about loud bangs, blood and gore and screaming american teenagers being decapitated during coitus in a shower. Horror is about having an experience that makes you uncomfortable, one that scares you, one that tests what you really know about the human condition and one that presents a story with substance and strong characters. It’s a diverse art form that can be done really but then can be ruined just as easily. It is about looking in to the abyss, and the abyss looking back at you. A good horror not only makes you feel sick, it makes you feel as though you have crawled through a sewer to reach the end of the film, but in a good way. 

So modern film makers can carry on creating mainstream rubbish that is about as complex as a game of Tetris, but quite frankly I will not be a part of. If Rob Zombie wants to ruin the classic ‘Halloween’ and turn it into a piece of loud nonsense that teenagers think is “awesome” then be my guest. I’ll be sat at the back of the cinema screening making notes and trying not to stab my own eyes out with a biro. 

 

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Poetic Response To James Arthur

This post is inspired by a number of different factors that have influenced my thought patterns this evening. Firstly is the suggestion by a very good friend of mine who suggested that I try posting poetry on to my blog once in a while, which I believe to be a risk worth taking. Second is my own thoughts about poetry; I often write poetry because it’s an incredibly useful means of releasing emotions and feelings but then I never do anything with it, so I might as well give it a go. Thirdly is, as the title suggests, a song that I’ve heard circulating recently entitled ‘You’re nobody til somebody loves you” which is a song that annoys me in so many ways I felt compelled to do something creative with my anger. It is with that I present you with a poem I wrote in response to the song and main idea behind it.

 

“It’s a cold heart when nobody holds you”?

Sounds a little over dramatic doesn’t it James?

You might not mean to sound so reliant on others

But finding company is clearly one of your aims.

 

I urge you to listen to Sawmill Joe singing his famous song

‘I aint nobody’s problem but my own’

It’s a better approach to thinking of how others view you,

Particularly when compared to listening to you moan.

 

You remind me somewhat of my cat who passed away this summer,

Where ever you were she’d what you to be together

Be it outside, inside, in bed or in the bathroom,

Although her closest encounter was with the car that killed her.

 

Now I’ve been single for nearly four years,

Do I feel content in my life? Of course I am

I was taught by Dr Seuss the idea of liking and disliking,

Single is a bit dreary, but it beats green eggs and ham.

 

We always seek comfort in others because it’s natural,

You get lonely sometimes when someone isn’t there

But just because you’re not constantly feeling this comfort

It doesn’t mean people don’t care.

 

I’m single but I would like to think I am somebody,

I make an impact on the people I interact with on a daily basis

If they’re content, neutral or upset

I like to keep a smile across their faces.

 

That’s the sort of person I want to be,

And I know it’s not emotionally rich or exciting

But I like to think that I make an impact on people

Through my actions and my writing.

 

I want to enjoy life and the different experiences

Not sit down at parties and talk about how I’m feeling,

Listen to the music, take off your coat, put your shoes on

And raise your hands to the ceiling.

 

Don’t get offended James but I don’t like the song,

It’s negative and dreary and a honey trap for my generation,

We already get sucked in to the cheesy American ideal of love

Do you really think we need any more persuasion?

 

I would like to think I’m loved by my family and friends,

To be honest I annoy them fifty percent of the time,

But I still feel as though I am someone in this world

Despite not having someone to call ‘mine’

 

Why should I feel that because I’m single I’m a nobody?

I’ve got lungs and I’m still breathing,

And as the White Stripes point out

“I must be fine because my heart’s still beating”

 

James, take life advice from the 84 year old widower

I saw on the tv leaving a hospital

Who says “I’m not happy,

I’m just fed up of being bloody miserable”

 

If you don’t have someone to hold you,

Don’t just sit around and mope,

It’s incredibly boring and unfulfilling

To live a life without hope.

 

There is someone I ultimately like in a romantic way

And it always seems tough from the moment these feelings begin

But it’s your approach to a problem that determine the severity;

The waves seems stronger depending on the boat you’re in.

 

Sad feelings in life don’t have to become common,

Ultimately a problem is only a problem if you let it be one.

 

This is the first poem I’ve posted on here and I can admit it’s not brilliant. I had a fourty five minute gap to write something and this is what I came up with so I know that in terms of rhythm and rhyme it is probably atrocious. Please feel free to leave any comments, be it positive or negative. I’d be interested to see what people think of it.

Rapid Reviews: Hugo [with slight spoilers]

Firstly I will say that I am utterly ashamed of myself for not having watched this film sooner. It is quite simply brilliant.

The story has quite a nice balance of fiction and non fiction, adding adventure around the edges of the career of Georges Méliès, who it a genius of cinema and one that I have the up most respect for. The film is centered around a young boy who lives within the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris who is searching for the mystery surrounding his dead father whilst questioning his own position in the world. Whilst being largely based around this adventure the story ties in nicely with the history of cinema and Méliès himself. It is an exciting adventure to witness but also an insightful one if like me you take an active interest in films.

The film has a brilliant cast, which it may of course be star studded with a lot of small roles for big names but I rather liked it. It helped to present one of the most important messages behind the film; the value of films and entertainment. Young Asa Butterfield is very good as the title role, showing the spark of an individual who is rather small in a large world. Ben Kingsley manages to be both quiet and magical at the same time to give a real sense that he is a genuine genius in human form. One of the most surprising roles for me personally was Sacha Baron Cohen who played the station inspector who is constantly try to find Hugo and stop his troublesome behaviour. His character reminded me somewhat of the child catcher in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ but then had a hint of the theatricality that his character in ‘Sweeney Todd’ displayed, but overall he was very good and proved to be both a creepy and witty screen presence. In addition I must say it was quite emotional to see the film because it was one of the three last films Richard Griffiths appeared in before passing away earlier this year. A truly inspirational actor who was fantastic in every role, and the delicacy he displayed in this film in particular showed his ability once again.

In the past I have already talked of how much I admire Scorsese’s work and I do not feel that ‘Hugo’ was a let down, his directing was very good indeed. It was slightly different for Scorsese because it had a U certificate from the BBFC and is clearly aimed at a younger audience but I think it shows just how talented he is as a director to be able to make a film that is different from his other projects. It is less gritty and hard hitting and more adventurous and smooth edged which is by no means a bad thing.  I will admit that visually the film is stunning, the sequences Scorsese has shot are very impressive but I dislike the fact he shot the film in 3D. I know it’s meant to be an adventure film that is visually pleasing and exciting but I feel that this was accomplished perfectly in 2D without needing the extra element added. He is someone who understands film and has crafted himself perfectly to the industry so I feel that the sudden move towards 3D was unneeded and somewhat undermined the key message of the value of entertainment. The film tries to present the idea that film is something we can all enjoy because of how creative and imaginative it is regardless of how technically advanced it is, so shooting the film in 3D was a bit of a u-turn. Nonetheless it was fantastically directed, with the attention to detail being balanced perfectly when it comes to the shots of clockwork machinery and toys. It was artistic I really liked how Scorsese focused on certain elements.

The themes of the film also meant quite a lot to me throughout, with the main character questioning a lot about himself. His motivation to find the secrets behind his dead father were very interesting because it shows the true value of family and those we love around us. He also questions a lot about himself and how he fits in to the world, with one of his best lines showing an optimistic attitude that a young lad should have towards life. However for me the important themes were those linked to cinema and how much it means to people. The characters showed their true passion for film and how it is a source of inspiration for them, which is exactly how I feel when I watch a brilliant piece of cinema. The links to Méliès’ 1902 masterpiece ‘A Trip To The Moon’ show the value of cinema and the appreciation we have for such a complex art form. I talked in my last blog post of how much I like films that are about film, and ‘Hugo’ fits very high on the list in terms of reaching my expectations. It was brilliant to see a film that shows the true value of cinema and gives credit to one of the most influential humans to ever have lived; Georges Méliès.

Overall I would give the film a solid four stars out of five, it was a genuine pleasure to watch because of the sense of adventure and the value of cinema that is solid throughout the film. It’s not quite perfect but remains one of the best films I have seen recently, impressing me for a number of different reasons. I would recommend this film to anybody, but particularly those interested in film, you may very well learn something new from it. I’m glad I have finally watched this film but I am equally disappointed at how long it took me to do so. To end this review I feel it only fitting to leave you with my favourite line from the film (mentioned above) in which Hugo himself explains his thoughts on who he is:

“I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figure, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason”

Films About Film

As someone who takes an active interest in a broad range of films I still find it bizarre how I am often over loaded with questions as to what my favourite genre of film is. Now I know that mentioning how interested in film I am suggests that I can make my mind up and I am direct about my opinions, but honestly I think narrowing down one specific type of film I enjoy sounds awfully boring. If I’m going to take an interest in an industry that is so vast and is teeming with such diversity in the pieces of art being produced, why would I want to limit myself to just one specific corner? That would be incredibly stupid of me and actually quite narrow minded. However that being said I do take pleasure in talking in depth about a film type that not many people take in to consideration, well at least people I come in contact with on a regular basis, and that is films that are about films. Literally films that are set within the film industry and focus their story around a film being made is both entertaining and educationally rich for someone like me.

In my previous post I briefly mentioned ‘The Artist’ a film which I consider to be near perfect. When I last talked of the film it was about the dance scene at the end, which is a fantastic piece of film, but when talking of the film in general the whole premise is very interesting. Set amongst the film industry in the 1920s the film shows the movement from silent film to films that use sound, it’s interesting to see the effects that the movement had on people involved in the industry and society as a whole. Showing a true insight in to how films were shot, with the use of cameras and then additional recording equipment shed a new light on the technical advancements that have taken place and the benefits (or hindrances) they have on the film making process. The gender politics linked quite nicely to the film industry depicted in the film, with women being selected for acting roles based on their physical appearance and dancing but then becoming more important as sound was added to the equation. The film manages to show a world that is similar to ours, in the sense that the value of entertainment is very strong, and yet differs from ours because of the attitudes towards film and the people involved in film. Seeing how the audience of the screening would applaud a female actor compared to the thunderous applause for the male actor is quite shocking and really makes you think about how far gender equality has come. The film is an artistic masterpiece that I know some people didn’t enjoy, but personally I feel that it is an entertaining experience that has deeper meanings to it if you go looking for them.

It’s not just films that are based entirely on film however, I find myself interested when the film industry is a smaller element to a film as well. Quite recently ‘Argo’ was a film I found particularly interesting because of the depictions of 70s cinema. It contrasts quite nicely to that of the cinema in ‘The Artist’ because we see this radical shift from love stories and thrillers to lavish science fiction films with low budgets and reliance on make up and props. One of the best elements to the depiction of the film industry in ‘Argo’ is the constant mocking of the people in it and the idea that it was easy to make a film and a become a big shot. There were lines in the film that had me in stitches because of how relaxed they were towards film, lines like “it’s got horses in it, it’s a western” literally made me laugh out loud. It amusing to see how people with little knowledge of film were considered experts and given the responsibility of making big decisions for cinema productions. And one of my favourite lines from the film by far comes from the character of John Chambers played by John Goodman which was “so you want to come to Hollywood, act like a big shot without actually doing anything? You’ll fit right in” which is brilliant because it links quite nicely to film makers of today who appear to do a lot of work and yet actually do very little. It was also of interest to see how easy they people in ‘Argo’ made the process of making a film look, saying that they needed a producer, a script and someone to do the makeup, along with a big push in the press with famous people involved. Sounds a little bit similar to some film makers of today doesn’t it really?

When talking of films that are centered around the film industry it it’s all too easy to talk about the mainstream films that scoop up awards as if they were sheets of paper, but I take joy in watching smaller films that are set in the same world but in a darker corner. One of the best films of 2012 was the Peter Strickland film ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ starring the incredibly talented Toby Jones who gives an absolutely stunning performance in the film. While the other films mentioned show all of the glitz and glamour present in the film industry, what this film manages to achieve was to show the grittier side to cinema that we don’t think about. Set in Italy in the 70s, Jones plays a nervous sound engineer who moves from England to Italy to help with an Italian horror film. Instead of showing a gleaming studio with an extensive soundboard and high tech equipment we would expect to see today, the film actually shows a cramped and darkened studio with young women trapped in sound booths and the sound team hacking at vegetables to record the sounds for bodies being dismembered. As the film delves deeper and deeper in to this dark corner of the art form Jones’ character becomes more and more immersed in to his job and the nature of the cinema starts to effect his thoughts. The film does owe a lot of credit to Giallo horror from the 70s and does somewhat play homage to it, allowing it to be a film that is based around cinema but then also explores territory such as the importance of a career in our lives, and what it means to be a human. It is honestly a very impressive piece of cinema that isn’t really for the faint hearted but I would recommend it to those who take an interest in film.

I realise that by this point it appears that I may have made it look like I am explaining what my favourite genre of film is, on the contrary I am merely showing respect towards films I hold close to me and ones that have made an impact on the way I feel about cinema. One of the best things about the film industry is that it is a business that can be used in an all manner of genres, such as comedy, action, drama and even horror, meaning you’re not restricting in what you watch. All of the films I have mentioned above are incredible and I recommend every one of them, just approach them with an open mind and you will get out of them what you bring to them.

For me showing the different sides to cinema in films is very important because it provides the audience with more information about an art form that is important in all our lives. Films that are based around the motion picture industry remind us of the importance of cinema and how much we value entertainment. Showing the film industry in a time period that is different from our own is of particular significance because it reminds us of what we enjoy about films in the first place; the sense of adventure and the journey outside of our own lives. Films like ‘The Artist’ show how you can make a big and bold film that is entertaining on a number of levels without needing lavish special effects or the use of 3D to be entertaining. The imagination of a human being, and the hard efforts of a team are what it takes to make a film successful and entertaining, not financial gestures or silly technological nonsense.

 

The Talent Behind Dance Sequences In Film

Recently I posted a review of David O.Russell’s recent film ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ which still remains the highest scoring film I’ve reviewed, it is a genuine treasure. In a section of the review I found myself hating my own creation of ‘rapid reviews’ because I wanted to talk a lot more about certain elements but had to be concise. One of the elements I feel I didn’t give enough credit to was the dance sequences that were involved in the film, which for me were some of the best scenes. If you haven’t read my review then I would suggest you do so if you want to see what I made of the film.

Personally I feel as though the dance sequences in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ display an incredible amount of talent, not just on the director’s part but from the actors as well. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn a dance routine and to time it perfectly so I have a lot of respect for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who more than clearly deserved her academy award for her performance. The physical challenge of learning a dance when you’re not used to it is something to look back on with pride after you have mastered it like Cooper and Lawrence did in the film. I was impressed to see how well David O. Russell had handled the dancing element, it shows true talent for a film director to pull off a dance scene well. He managed to create a sense that the two characters were similar in the sense that they shared the dance floor, but then also showed how they contrasted as dancers. They were clearly two separate entities when they danced and O. Russell managed to show this through close up shots of their movements whilst dancing. The end dance scene is fantastic, managing to be both fun and charming when they dance to Stevie Wonder and the White Stripes, but then also quite serious when it came to the characters dancing to the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Different dancing styles were covered in the sequence, making it even more impressive to see how well they were transferred to the screen through wider shots and close ups to contrast their different levels of energy at certain times.

It’s not just ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ that had impressed me for dancing though, I find it impressive on a general level when a director forms brilliant dance sequences in a film. Take Stephen Daldry’s British hit ‘Billy Elliot’, it’s one of the best dance films ever made and in my opinion one of the best British films to be made. Making a film that is based on a young boy becoming passionate about dancing during a darker time of hegemonic masculinity and the miner’s strikes shows a definite contrast between different types of people. It’s not just important to see how the character of Billie Elliot dances to break the social expectations of a young boy, it’s important to see that his dancing is a form of expressing his emotions. All of his anger over the situation with his dad, all of his happiness when with his teacher, all of the sadness over the loss of his mother is shown through his dancing. The significance of the character’s approach to dance was also crucial because added a deeper level to what dance meant to him. He jumps from dancing to instrumental and classical pieces of music to dancing along to T. Rex with a football. The different dancing styles were shown clearly and it displays how people have different approaches to dance. The camera shots were very precise and moves along with Billy as he danced, capturing the emotion that was in his face and his movements as a dancer which shows just how much care was taken shooting the film. The film was very simplistic and showed an immense amount of talent, from both Jamie Bell as a strong leading actor and Stephen Daldry as a talented director.

Even the slightest bit of dancing in a film can impress me, all it takes is two or three minutes of dancing that were made very well. An example that leaps out instantly is the closing minutes of ‘The Artist’ which gave me goosebumps if I’m perfectly honest. The film was very impressive, showing a huge movement in the history of film and how people coped with advancements in to the future. It was a light hearted film that was a lot of fun and a pleasure to watch, but the sequence at the end in which Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo dance together to the piece of music ‘Peppy And George’ composed by Ludovic Bource, was fantastic. It was filmed and timed so that the two actors danced perfectly in time with each other, showing one of the most important themes behind the film; the unity of people regardless of gender. Both actors were clearly dedicated to their roles and showed a lot of commitment to pull the scene off , with Jean Dujardin showing how worthy he was of his academy award. Michale Hazanavicius also displayed how worthy he was of his academy award for directing, not just for this end scene but for the film in general. To make a big and bold silent film in the crowd of mainstream cinema and make it successful is commendable on a number of levels. The dancing sequence at the end was a brilliant display of how film should be made, it was shot perfectly to show the extent of how energetic the characters were and to show the unity of two characters who once opposed each other. Truly marvelous film that deserved every award it received.

There is still stigma attached to people appreciating films that contain elements of dance, with people labeling such films as ‘feminine’ or indeed ‘girly’, but the remarks of the shallow minded mean nothing to someone like me who is passionate about film and embraces the different forms it comes in. Only seeing one element to a film not only shows impatience, but also incompetence when watching films because they clearly have depths and different layers that some viewers can’t be bothered to look for. It’s like I always say; ignorance is bliss, particularly if it’s your mother tongue.

It takes a lot of courage to attempt a film that has dance sequences in it, but if they are done well then it pays of greatly. I feel that adding a dance element to films can show an enormous amount of talent and is the sign of a director who is clearly capable of handling different types of film. Dance is something that appears to be overlooked in films, especially by the mainstream audiences who are easily won over by expensive CGI and 3D cinema with lots of explosions and guns. If that is what the modern audience wants then it’s not for me to try and change their minds, but I do think they are missing out greatly on some of the best pieces of films you will experience.

New To The Film, Late To The Party

As someone who takes an active interest in films I try to watch as many as I can in a week. Watching films I’ve seen before is all well and good because I’ll know how good or bad it is. The real fun however comes from watching films for the first time. Now I realised that there were certain films I should have seen by this age and it was high time that I got around to watching them. It was only recently that I started to do so and have realised I should have done a lot sooner. What with being older and having more distractions it does make it more difficult to find time to watch films, but after a short period of having little work I had time to make up for my sins so to speak. I was very pleasantly surprised.

‘Blade Runner’ was the first on my list, knowing that it was known for being one of the greatest sci fi films to have been made. Watching it with an open mind definitely paid off; in short I found it to be brilliant. The story and the characters were strong, with the actors giving performances that were very well suited to the subject matter. The special effects were impressive as well, looking both artistic and realistic throughout and never feeling like they were badly designed. It was good to see a big bold science fiction film that was dark and gritty but then also had layers to it. The underlying theme of wanting to meet your maker was really quite special and had a big impact on how I viewed the film. It added a level of thought that other films fail to capture, giving it an edge on other science fiction films. It was definitely worth watching and strengthened by respect for Ridley Scott.

The second film, which I must admit I really should have watched sooner and I’m disappointed that I didn’t, is Spielberg’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ from 2002. It made it better for me in a sense to know that the story behind the film was true, because it made the sequences even more impressive. I was hooked for start to finish, impressed deeply by the intelligence of young Frank Abagnale jr and his actions over the years. The casting was absolutely spot on, Amy Adams was brilliant as the young doctor that fell in love with Abagnale and Tom Hanks was fantastic as the police detective pursuing the leading character. But the star performance for me was undoubtedly Leonardo DiCaprio who masterfully played a young conman who was confident and intelligent, and had the charm of a man twice his age. I really like the use of soundtrack, it suited the sequences that Spielberg shot to make the film visually appealing with a straight edged soundtrack to back it up. A cat and mouse story had never been so enjoyable and so intriguing, becoming more interesting as the story developed. It may be simple but I think Spielberg did a terrific job and it’s a film he deserves a lot more credit for.

For regular readers of my blog it won’t come as a surprise to hear that I’m a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson, I’ve written many times about his work and how much I admire it. However it wasn’t until recently I finally around to watching some of his older working, starting of with his 2002 film ‘Punch-Drunk Love’. It’s safe to say that after watching it my respect for PTA went through the roof, it is an incredible piece of film. It’s a small, delicate art house film that manages to be straight edged and tight at the same time. Telling an obscure story based around a rather odd main character, it was a film that was so simple which added to the genius. PTA’s writing for the film was superb, with an oddly brilliant story and excellent screenplay that was witty and intelligent and added more layers to the characters. He is clearly a writer that is talented and understands his audience well, allowing him to write films that are artistic genius. I have to commend PTA also because he managed to make a film with Adam Sandler in that was brilliant. Sander’s acting isn’t something I’ve been a fan of in the past, but this film is his best work by far. His acting is very good indeed, presenting someone who is clearly emotionally unstable and yet hopelessly in love. PTA’s artistic directing style made the film visually outstanding and one of the best films I have ever had the pleasure to watch; a near flawless work of art.

Following the interest I have in PTA I moved swiftly on to his 1997 drama ‘Boogie Nights’ which was a completely different kettle of fish. It was a film that I can only describe as being gritty and dirty but in a good way. Making a film that is centered around the porn industry was always going to be a risky move, but with the brilliant writing and artistic directing style of PTA it was never going to be bad. Detailing the rise and fall of a young actor in the adult film industry ‘Boogie Nights’ manages to be both engaging and hilarious as it jumps straight into the disco era of the seventies and then moves on to the hard hitting eighties. The cast is brilliant, with everyone giving top notch performances, featuring older faces as well as big stars in their younger years. It was a gritty look in to an industry full of controversy and arrogance, and watching some of the scenes you do feel quite dirty but you realise that it’s not in a bad way. I was completely immersed into the world of sex, drugs and violence whilst being intrigued by the themes based around fame and greed. In no way is this film a one sided film, there are artistic elements and deeper underlying themes that require a second viewing to be appreciated fully, which for me shows the true extent of PTA’s genius as a film maker.

I consider it an act of stupidity having not seen these films before, but I would like to think it was an act of redemption by seeking these films out as soon as I could. I urge anyone who has an active interest in films to watch any and all of the films mentioned in this post. They are all brilliant and whatever I have said about them doesn’t give them nearly enough credit. They all impressed me greatly and exceeded by high expectations. Even if you are not massively interested in films I would recommend them any way, you might find something in them that you didn’t expect.

There’s a commonly used expression that says “it’s things you don’t do in life you regret” and I think the same can be said for films. I’ll never regret watching a film, but I will regret the rather idiotic decision of not watching a film.

Career Paths From Films – None Of Them Would Work Out

I might be the only one who has moments like this, but I had random thoughts the other day about characters from films and the jobs they have. After glancing through my film collection and reminiscing about the lead characters I started to think about how good their jobs are. I started to consider what film character I would want to be based on their career alone. They all seemed like quite interesting options, but then I thought about the job titles they have and realised just how unsuited I am for them. Quite depressing when you think about it, realising that you’re so unsuited you can’t get a job that doesn’t exist. It may seem like I’m being a complete pessimist, which in a sense I am, but I couldn’t help but think about how badly suited I am for certain job roles from films. Still, it was an interesting thought process about non existent jobs and the results did seem quite entertaining to me, so here’s a list of just some of the careers paths from films that I’ve ruined for myself:

1. Blade Runner – I like to think I’m good at running which would work in my favour quite well. I’ve been on a shooting range before which didn’t go that badly, but I question my skills of finding the right people. I’d end up shooting the wrong person, or letting the right person escape because I didn’t suspect them. It could get very confusing, and despite any future advancements in technology there would still be a lot of paper work to fill in.

2. The Lone Ranger – firstly I don’t particularly like horses. Which is a problem when you consider the fact that they’re the main mode of transport I would have available to me. Working in an area that is largely desert based is an issue also because I don’t really like hot weather so I’d be very grumpy on the hob. And if I’m honest I don’t think the whole ‘secret identity’ thing would work out for me. I’d probably leave my mask in the wash because it got a slight bit of dust on it. It’s all well and good being a masked vigilante who fights for justice, but I’ll only do so if my uniform is washed frequently and ironed.

3. Space Ranger – by this point I realised that any kind of ranger wouldn’t really suit me. I’m not that great with heights so flying (or falling with style) wouldn’t really be an option to me.

4. Captain of The Enterprise – I would like the comfy chair, but already that would a hindrance. The ship would be getting attacked by Klingons and I’d be sat there adjusting the height of the chair and position of the arm rests so that I’m comfortable. Having an arch enemy seems to be a key element to, but that sounds like quite a lot of effort. Plus the technical side would go right over my head, and I would mix the shirts up in the wash by mistake. So basically The Enterprise would have a redesigned uniform consisting of orange, green and purple shirts within a week.

5. Alfred the Butler (from Batman) – I have quite a steady hand so carrying a tray full of food/ drink would be alright, but I don’t think I would be able to assist much more than that. He offers moral advice where necessary, whereas I would get quite bored of Wayne’s moaning and tell him that he picked the career path so really it’s his fault he’s suffering. Keeping Batman’s identity safe wouldn’t last long either.

6. The Godfather – I would be so concerned about the budgeting and cost/benefit analysis of criminal activities.

7. Head of Q Branch for MI5 – I got an A in GCSE Graphic Products but that’s the only skill I could bring to the job. My ideas would be quite abstract and wouldn’t be particularly useless for a spy to own. I think now that the spork has been invented there’s not really much point in trying to invent something new, nothing is going to top that.

8. Wizard – I’m more suited to essay based subjects, anything practical involved and my skills are very limited. Ideally I would want to be on the same level as Gandalf, but I’d me of the ‘sales advisor’ equivalent of the wizarding world.

9. Time Traveler – I’m one of those annoying people that always turns up to an event annoying early.

10. Men in Black Agent – I have the clothing sorted, that isn’t an issue for me. But what would hold me back is that my name begins with the letter ‘a’ meaning I would have to be ‘agent a’. I am more than certain that would have been taken already so I would have to wait until a vacancy arises before making my move. Communicating with aliens is an issue too because of the language barrier. Not sure my B in GCSE German would really be of any use to me.

After thinking about the topic for a longer period of time than I should have done, the thought of ‘I need to find a proper hobby’ springs to mind more prominently, but in this instance it’s accompanied by the thought of ‘I need to find a proper job’ quite nicely.

Instagram and Tumblr – I’m glad The Who didn’t t-t-t-talk about our generation.

Taking a break from the usual discussion of film for once, although I do have some work coming down the line that should be up very soon.

If I remember correctly it can only have been a couple of months since I wrote an entry that was a little bit different from my usual jumble of film talk. I wrote an entry that was outlining the reasons why I dislike the social networking site Instagram, and I wish I could say that post had all of the reasons but I was holding back quite a bit. It’s only recently after reading through that particular post again that I realised just how much I dislike social networking sites that rely on photos.

Instagram was just the beginning for me, I’ve already talked of how annoying it is. You get constant updates of small details of someone’s life that honestly you could live without. If you like receiving updates on what someone is drinking, what colour underwear they’re wearing, what page of a book they’re up to, and what their legs look like when they’re in a bath tub then by all means sign up. But if you can take a step back and realise that it’s all just nonsense then I would stay well away. Trust me, having been a part of it for nearly a year you come close to drowning in the sea of hashtags. People will pile hashtags on to a picture if they think it will get them more likes, even if some of the things they tag aren’t even in the picture. You’ll see a picture of someone’s coffee from Costa and it will be swiftly followed by an army of meaningless hashtags; #coffee #costa #drink #liquid #hot #girl #browneyes #blonde #young #breathing #oxygen #blinking #human #skin #drinkingonacoldday #england #earth. It’s just rubbish. We depend so much on how many likes we get on a picture it takes our attention away from things that matter, you know, things that genuinely exist, not just a picture of a love heart with a number next to it. And I know just how ridiculous it is because I used to be part of it. Luckily those days are behind me now.

But the stupidity doesn’t stop there I’m afraid.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “are you on Tumblr?” which I can safely say I am not. Why would I be? I’ve had a glance at tumblr when friends have shown me the site and there was nothing appealing from my point of view. From what I saw it’s a site that has fallen victim to an increasing problem, which is essentially a computer virus consisting of teenage hormones. It’s a technicolour splattering of meaningless statements, pictures and videos that should really be quarantined in a corner of the internet that is difficult to reach. Scrolling down the news feed or whatever it’s called, all you see is pictures of kittens, porn and idiotic quotes that were clearly written by the same overly emotional fifteen year old. And that last one is the main problem for me; the quotations.

I’m all for quotations as most people will know, I think they’re a brilliant source of motivation and inspiration, but they have to mean something. The sort of quotes I like are ones said by truly inspirational figures like Abraham Lincoln or Muhammad Ali. I don’t take inspiration from a fourteen year old from West Berkshire who got dumped after two weeks of awkward hand holding in the playground. The sort of quote I’m talking about are things like “you can separate two lovers by distance but you can never break the bridge that connects their hearts no matter where they are in the world” Now I’m not sure about anyone else but after reading a quote like that I can’t help but feel on edge. Ever stroked a dog’s fur the wrong way? That’s how every inch of my skin feels. Firstly I would just like to point out that their choice of words is very annoying. Lovers?! It’s a social networking site, not a Jane Austin novel! I also think the whole basis of the quote is stupid because it’s suggesting that someone that young has found someone they are genuinely in love with. I hate to be pessimistic but you haven’t, you’ve just managed to find someone you can stand seeing for longer periods of time before moving to University. I know what some people are already thinking by this point; if I don’t want to see this sort of quote then don’t go on the website. The sad thing is I don’t go on the site, the quotes are somehow being leaked on to Facebook. Honestly they are the sort of posts that make me re assess the situation and consider the possibility that updates about Farmville weren’t actually that annoying.

It’s worse when a quote from someone famous circulates the site and leaks out on to Facebook. The amount of times I’ve seen the same Paul McCartney quote “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian” which annoys me to a certain extent. Firstly I don’t think it’s true, mainly because we’re well aware of the horrible affairs that go on in the world but we still consume such products because we choose to. We’re not being force fed meat after being horrified by how it’s prepared, we’re choosing to eat it because it’s become part of our balanced diet. Secondly it relies entirely on the assumption that everyone lives within a certain radius of a slaughterhouse, which is a contextual factor needed for the exercise to work efficiently. Most of all for me however is that I don’t think the quote means as much as people think it does. This is mainly because the situation that the quote suggests sounds rather pointless. If you genuinely need somewhere that is called a “SLAUGHTERhouse” to have glass walls, then you’re not doing the best of jobs at reading. The word “slaughter” is suggestive enough and implies the nature of activities that occur within the building so why bother suggesting that we need visual evidence in order to allay our doubts. Let’s not go wasting money on an exercise that could be eliminated by simply showing people a dictionary definition of certain words. I understand that people interpret the quote differently, but there’s a difference between quotes that mean something and those that are over used until we think they mean more than they do.

The dependence that our generation has on social networking scares me. Likes on a picture of our new socks mean so much to us, and we seek advice from quotations that are about as poetic as instruction for cup o soup. I’m sure that Tumblr has more than that to it, but after going on it  couple of times and being bombarded by so called philosophical quotes and animations of porn it opens a lot of questions as to what has happened to our generation. They call it a blog which is fair enough, but if you’re interests don’t span much further than cats, porn and sentences that have as much use a swimming lessons for fish, then I don’t think a blog is really for you because it requires a certain level of creativity and imagination.

Safe to say I’m sticking to this site, Facebook and Twitter firmly for the foreseeable future. That way I can stay how I am for as long as possible without having to re create myself so that my identity suits the trashy new format of social websites. I shall end this post on a positive note, with a quote from Abraham Lincoln that sums up my views about online identities quite nicely:

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”