Blunt Reviews Presents: 21 Jump Street (2012)

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I like the film, I think it is half funny, but it is largely overrated. I’ve grown to dislike it more because of how much people talk about it and quote it. On a comedic level the film is shaky but it works, I just can’t say there is really much to make it stand out amongst so many bad modern comedies. I really like Jonah Hill but I’m afraid I can’t stand Channing Tatum, however together the bromance is bearable.

The anger Ice Cube shows on screen towards the duo must have been real.

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Blunt Reviews Presents: Maleficent (2014)

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Take the story of Sleeping Beauty, turn it inside out then kick it through the film Avatar. That’s Maleficent. A dull, unimaginative film that lacks substance, answers questions no one ever asked and presents a lead character that needs to make their mind up. The plot is structurally incoherent and tedious, which added with the splattering of cliched fantasy visuals makes for a very boring experience. There are a couple of scenes that are important because they address some serious topics with utmost sincerity, which is the only redeeming feature for me. However, not enough to salvage a sunken ship.

 

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Film Translation

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Cinema screens worldwide are soon to be poisoned with this unwanted and unjustified big screen transferral, and it’s safe to say Mr Grey will not see me now, or my money for that matter.

I was hoping I was going to wake up from this nightmare world where bad books were somehow granted access to cinema screens, but it seems as though that nightmare was in fact reality. I had doubts when I was sat in a cinema screening for a genuine adaptation of The Fault in our Stars which apparently happened, and now that I realise how real all of this is it would appear that the next of these pieces of rubbish is rapidly approaching on the horizon. So lock up your daughters and other family members, head for the underground bunkers and wait for Armageddon because Fifty Shades of Grey‘s big screen adaption is coming soon! I hope the radiation seeps in and sucks my eye balls out of skull so I don’t have to watch the film.

I still maintain that the film does not need to be made. Because it doesn’t. It’s based on a book that is appallingly written and completely lacks substance or any real interest, so how on earth can you make a film of that? It’s going to be a grotesque and completely unartistic piece of film that is already making me lose faith in people because they actually want to see it. They want to give money to this disgusting enterprise.

It’s going to cause all sorts of controversy, much like the book did, just because in terms of what statement it is making with its gender politics is a complete backwards step. And then a couple more. In fact a whole marathon backwards. We’re living in a world that is quite rightfully striving for gender equality, with more and more books and films showing female characters as independent and really breaking free from the shackles of how they were previously portrayed. And now we have this film. A film showing an arrogant self obsessed man who is animalistic and boulder headed, with a woman who is wracked with self doubt, weak willed to the point of being submissive at the first signs of challenging characteristics, and basically showing how a man can take complete control of her. That is not welcome. Male supremacy is an ugly undertone to the books so one can only assume the film is going to be of the same nature. It isn’t sexy, it’s infuriating and completely counterproductive. But still it’s being sold to us a romantic movie? I’m sorry but I am not convinced for one moment that this film is going to be romantic in any sense of the word.

As of yet we’ve only had a couple of trailers for the film and the odd poster thrown at us but already people are labelling the film “exciting” and even “sexy”, which I think is a bit too kind. See I think what the trailers have done is tricked people in to thinking it’s going to be this sexy film that’s romantic or good in any sense of the word. It’s got loads of lines of dialogue that are written to make people think it’s romantic, much like the song Blurred Lines did last year, until you stepped back and listened to it more carefully and realised that actually it has some sinister undertones. I analysed that song on this very blog and basically gave a translation for some of the lines that needed a little bit of clarification. So what I’ve decided to do this time is to break down some of the lines from the trailers that have been released for this film so far and clear the air as to what they really mean and what they are really telling us about the characters. I think there is more of an air of truth to my translations but obviously people will interpret them in different ways. Make of them what you will:

“Mr Grey will see you now” –  Let’s get this ball rolling with a line that makes him sound more mysterious than he actually is. Really it’s more of a warning has to how arrogant he is and it’s the perfect time to turn around and ditch the interview. No? Don’t worry, you’ll learn the hard way”

“He was polite, intense, smart, really intimidating” – “He’s a successful man and I’m just a woman. Also he was wearing a suit. I’m one of those people who finds anyone in a suit attractive. Like literally anyone. Successful business man? Check. Groom at a wedding? Check. The manager of a department store? Check. The people that carry the coffin on their shoulders at a funeral? Check. Serial killer appearing in court? mmmmm sexy”

“There’s really not much to know about me, I mean look at me” – “Open invite for him to make a cliched line that shows how a big successful man can somehow find something attractive in a wilting flower of a lady. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m unimportant because I’m doing that for myself, I mean why be self confident? Urgh, so unattractive!”

“I exercise control in all things Miss Steele” – “blah blah blah hegemonic masculinity blah blah blah successful blah blah better than you blah blah blah I’m complex blah blah blah sociopath blah blah blah pontification”

*response to the previous line* “it must be really boring” – “it’s funny because I’m going to find out later that actually he’s not boring because he’s going to take control of me. Love the irony there, classic”

“I’m incapable of leaving you alone” – “the courts have not stopped me yet so make hay while the sun shines!”

“I had a rough start in life, you should stay clear of me” – “this is cliched and ambiguous enough to make it sound like there is some level of depth to my character right? I mean we have established I am a fully one dimensional character with absolutely no substance at all but this slightly mysterious line makes it sound like there could be more to me right? Let’s just go with that, who gives a shit about writing anyway? BORING! Let’s get to some whipping scenes man! Bring on the chains and handcuffs!”

“I don’t do romance” – “as long as my sexual needs are met then this is a functioning relationship. That’s the way this thing works right? She is finding all of this sexy? Alright then! All I have to do is wait until the next time she’s menstruating and we are good to go!”

“My tastes are very singular” – “Blurred lines! I know you want it! I know you want it, you’re a good gi- oh…. yeah I should have mentioned this before. You know how some guys aren’t in to sharing? Like when you go out for a meal they’ll want to order separate meals and pay for separate meals and leave it at that? That’s what we’re talking here. I promise it doesn’t get any worse than that. What was that? What’s the blindfold and riding crop for? Nothing….”

“Enlighten me then” – “Let me in to your world where I can be reduced to a dog toy within this relationship! It’ll still be sexy because the man in the suit is in charge and the anxious woman is serving her purpose”

“I have a natural instinct for what makes a person tick” – “mainly myself. I understand myself quite well”

“You do realise he hasn’t stopped looking at you?” – “I think Hannibal likes you. I mean Dorian Gray. Shit I mean Christian Grey. Fuck sake creeps are all the same”

I mean obviously the translations aren’t word for word and there are a few other words thrown in to the mix so the lines are slightly longer, but it’s near enough a direct translation. Maybe with a dose of sarcasm too, but it’s hardly noticeable.

As said before, other people will interpret these lines in different ways and so will get different things from them. All I got from them was a feeling of discomfort and a suspicion that there is some fucking awful writing afoot. I wonder why.

Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of romance films, I will admit that. When romance films are written well then they can make it as some of the best films you will ever see in your life. Films like Casablanca and Annie Hall are utterly fantastic and kick start a whole cocktail of emotions because they are fantastically written are just so engaging on a raw level. This is nothing like that. This is a film that it is the complete opposite of romantic. It is toxic to its very core, and I hope that some of the petitions to get this film banned from local multiplexes are taken seriously. It is a film that is going to suck more money out of the idiots who already bought the book, and then the people who made it can claim that it’s a good film because the box office stats were booming. Just because it takes money it doesn’t mean it is a good film. Titanic, Transformers 1,2,3 &4, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, Grown Ups 2 and the Hangover Trilogy is living proof that the box office stats mean bugger all.

Everyone involved in this film should feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves. And that is including, and I am sorry to say this because previously she was admirable, but Beyonce. When she was involved in campaigns that encouraged young girls to be confident and stand up for themselves, I was happy. Now that she’s taken a back step and is recording alternative versions of her songs to help advertise a movie as degrading as this, I will admit my opinion has been altered. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed because I expected better from her.

But as I have said before when I wrote about this film, I want to be proven wrong. I want this film to come out and kick all of my opinions out of the window and show me that I was wrong and that actually it is a good film. There’s nothing better for a film fanatic than when you expect a film to be bad but it proves you wrong and shows itself to be brilliant. I want it to happen of course I do. Do I think it’s going to happen? No. Looking at the source material, I’d say there is a very slim chance this film will be good.

To summarise, I merely have to quote the poem Storm by Tim Minchin:

“You show me that it works and how it works, and after I have recovered from the shock, I will take a compass and carve “fancy that” on the side of my cock!”

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What Exactly is Wrong with “Love Actually”?

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Christmas is rapidly approaching, so it’s time to talk about what is arguably one of the most popular christmas films of the modern age. 

December is now racing by, my advent calendar is moving in to that stage now when it looks like it’s had a break in, so I thought it the best time to talk about Christmas films. I sat down and watched It’s a Wonderful Life yesterday which has already made me want to run out in to the streets in a Jimmy Stewart fashion and shout joyous greetings at strangers. But alas until I am prime minister or supreme overlord I shall have to restrict my happiness to the borders of my bedroom.

Another film I’ve already managed to watch is one that it is essentially one of the best modern christmas films, and that’s Richard Curtis’ much loved comedy Love Actually starring just about every big British actor you can think of. And Hugh Grant.

Now there’s a common misconception that men do not like this film. It’s an assumption that women of all ages make when the topic of this film comes up, and they believe that men generally hate this film, which I’m afraid just isn’t true. I have a lot of friends that are guys and they all talk about this film and talk about how funny it is. I myself have even said on numerous occasions that I really like romantic comedies if they are written well, which I believe this film is. I think it’s a film that has a lot of heart at this time of year and is an uplifting experience every time I watch it.

It’s not a film that is meant to be taken too seriously, so it’s not meant to be over analysed and it’s not necessarily one that people will go in to depth with over the cinematography. It’s just a bit of fun that is written to make the audience laugh and to make them smile at the end. It is very reminiscent of ancient Greek theatre in which the comedic plays weren’t meant to be anywhere near as complex or deep as the dramatic pieces, they were purely meant to be absurd pieces of surreal theatre that had a happy ending. That is exactly what you have with Love Actually, it’s a bit of fun that’s meant to make us laugh at a time of the year that is commonly associated with being happy. If you really want to go in to detail over it and over analyse it then the film isn’t for you. I know some people want to analyse every bit of detail for every film, which is fine if you’re watching something like 12 Years A Slave but it just plain stupidity with something like this. If you didn’t like it because you took it too seriously then you need to lighten up a bit a stop being so bloody boring.

It’s great to see a film talk about love as a broad topic. The problem with most modern rom coms is that they focus on just on couple, or one type of person, which is exactly what this film avoids. What Curtis shows with this film is that love is something that can happen to absolutely anybody in absolutely any possible way. So instead of just having a young american couple like a lot of films do, you’ve got an all manner of different scenarios in which people are falling in love, from Andrew Lincoln falling in love with his friend’s new wife, to Joanna Page and Martin Freeman falling in love whilst filming as nude doubles for other actors. It is such a broad look at love that even covers age which is quite interesting to see, in particular the character played fantastically by a young Thomas Brodie-Sangster which is that of a child going through their first experience of love, but who speaks like a jaded heartbroken writer.

The narrative structure is quite clever also, with several threads that all come together, be it straight away or right at the last minute, but it’s good to see a film at christmas that promotes this idea of community. I understand this time of year means different things to different people but one of the key things I think you’ll find among most is that it is a time to spend with the people that mean the most to you. That is exactly what this film promotes, showing couples (obviously), friends, siblings, extended family, reconstituted families and a whole other bunch of relationships so it gives the film a warm feeling. It makes you think about how much people mean to you and just how lucky you are to have people around you at Christmas time so in that respect it is a film with a lot of heart.

I have always admired Richard Curtis as a writer because not only is he a very clever man, but also he is extremely talented at forming such fantastic characters. He is good at observing things that happen in real life and then putting them to screen in a comical style. For example one of my favourite characters in the film is that of Rowan Atkinson as the sales advisor, which although it is a small role it is one that shows some of the best observational comedy you will ever see. It’s not only subversively mocking shop attendants but also it is quite clearly mocking the high end jewelry stores that have such a focus on being pompous and excessive. And the of course who can forget his depiction of the British Prime Minister? He takes a figure we all see as being boring and rigid and very much work based, and then shows them dancing around number ten to Jump by the Pointer Sisters. It is one of those moments in film that never ceases to make me laugh every time I watch it, just because of the absurdity of the whole situation.

The subversive comedy doesn’t just stop there though, it seems as though Curtis uses a lot of different topics to provide a satirical approach to the modern age. As discussed before there is obviously the jokes based on both British and American politics, then there’s the mocking of how British people act to Christmas shopping but one of my favourite characters is Bill Nighy as the jaded pop star who makes a bloody awful christmas single. He is an over the top wanker who is incredibly unlikable but he is one of the finer comical points of the film. He represents just how stupid the music industry gets around christmas time, with people selling themselves out just to be number one, the same song being played over and over so it is nice to see Curtis and Nighy openly mocking this. Also the side of his character that openly talks about sex and drugs is a perfect mockery of several famous musicians which adds to the comical value.

I think as a nation we do like this film quite a lot because of how unashamedly British it is. It is a film that celebrates Britain as a nation by parading some of our finest actors throughout and by celebrating humour that we all love. And it’s not just the scene where the Prime Minister verbally destroys the President that make you feel proud to be British, it’s all of the moments that show just what British people are like. One of the best scenes for this is when Joanna Page and Martin Freeman are the nude doubles, so they are completely naked in front of each other and in an all manner of sexual positions, and yet they’re talking about how bad the traffic was. It’s awkward and stale humour but it’s the sort of thing a British person would do and so I think the film for us as a nation is relatable.

My only problem with the film is that I’m a fan of more realistic romance films where there isn’t necessarily a happy ending. Films like Submarine and Annie Hall where the unhappy ending is shown to be the result of the main character fucking up so many times seem more realistic to me and more relatable. Particularly in this film it is the scenes of upset that I think are more human because they how love can be used as a weapon as well as a medicine for healing. In particular the thread of the narrative that hits me the most is that of Emma Thompson’s and her troubles with her husband. As upsetting as it is to see her go through that and be stuck with such a nasty prick is is the sequence that seems more realistic than all of the happiness at the end. But I understand at this time of year we need happy endings to keep spirits up, and I’m not sure the film would have the same impact if it ended with masses of heartbreak, divorce and death so I am willing to let the glossy Hollywood ending win on this occasion.

So I probably will watch the film again over the christmas period, it is a bit of fun for this time of year and allows my inner film nerd to kick back and relax for a bit without over thinking so much. It’s also a time to watch some classic films that tv channels like to play at this time, most notably Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang so this can be a good time of year for films.

But enough about my opinions, I want to hear what you think of the film and whether you think it is an important christmas film or not. Also I’m interested to hear what christmas films people love, so feel free to leave a comment at the bottom.

Until the next time I shall leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the film:

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Blunt Reviews Presents: Her (2014)

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A beautifully written delicate masterpiece from Spike Jonze, a harsh but realistic look at the power of love. It is an emotional journey we are taken on, through new found love, the challenges of love and previous heartbreak but it is all wrapped in this script that is perfectly constructed. It is funny in places which is good but the way it addresses love as something that isn’t just about physical factors is admirable. I think it is inspiring to show how two characters fall in love simply by talking, whilst also showing how love changes and inevitably breaks individuals.

Blunt Reviews Presents: Philomena (2013)

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Simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, Philomena showed the world the true story of a mother’s pain and desperation against what can only be described a pure evil. Co-writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope formed a fantastic script that carried real comic value but also emotional weight which was superb. Judy Dench’s performance brings a tear to the eye as she plays the lead role so brilliantly. And to be honest I admire the film for openly challenging religion and exposing what a force of evil it can be. Hats off to the newly Oscar nominated Mr Coogan. Loved it.

Blunt Reviews Presents: 12 Years A Slave (2014)

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If there is a piece of modern cinema perfection it is this film. Telling one of the most important stories ever to be shared, with an outstanding cast, beautiful cinematography and helmed by an artistic director who understands film, this was utterly flawless. Hard hitting and brutal, this was a film that didn’t shy away from the raw monstrosity that is human behaviour. It is not only a fantastic film but it is an important film. It’s a story everyone should hear so that we all know Solomon Northup as the inspiring person he was and to keep his spirit alive.

Blunt Reviews Presents: Dallas Buyers Club (2014)

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The McConaissance exists and this is hard evidence. An outstanding lead performance from the man that previously brought us Sahara to play such a powerful role in a really interesting and moving film. Telling a true story of one determined man who wanted to battle against illness, inevitable death and the higher authorities to make a difference, it is not only brilliant but uplifting too. Jared Leto is nothing special and didn’t deserve the award but the cast as a whole help to hold this well written film very tightly together. Inspirational, funny and heartbreaking, I loved every minute.

Blunt Reviews Presents: American Hustle (2014)

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For a film with as many talented names in the credits I expected more. I think it is well written in terms of screenplay, balancing comedy and drama quite nicely. The story is interesting, adapted partially from real events and supposedly real people. It is a visual delight with heavy focus on outfits and hair styles but this isn’t enough. It makes it a film meringue; it looks nice on the outside but has very little substance. The cast is utterly superb but the structure doesn’t hold, which is a real shame from a writer I admired in the past.

Blunt Reviews Presents: Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

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An outstanding piece of cinema with Emma Thompson giving the performance of a career. The film knows exactly where its heart is, which is firmly in the right place. It’s a superb piece of story telling with a moving true story and fantastically written screenplay to accompany it. The original score composed by Thomas Newman is mixed with soundtrack inputs from cast members to make it sound perfect to accompany being aesthetically pleasing. Every element is completely polished and pristine and the dual narrative structure works perfectly. Both heartwarming and touching, it’s undoubtedly a modern masterpiece.