‘Foxcatcher’ has an interesting opportunity for Channing Tatum

foxcatcher-1 One of the films that is tipped to be very awards heavy, Foxcatcher, may very well make it on to the list of films that prove me wrong.

As the awards season is getting in to full swing there is one film that is nominated throughout the different ceremonies that has grasped my interest in particular. That’s not to say that the others haven’t, it’s just for one specific reason the film Foxcatcher has me intrigued because of the opportunity it has. The film has the opportunity to prove me wrong. For years now I have been saying that Channing Tatum is not a good actor, so has the time finally come for me to be proven wrong?

I don’t mean to be rude about Tatum because I know that a lot of people like him, it’s just for me he has starred in too many bad films that haven’t allowed him to show us all what we can really do. I think every actor is given their chance to shine but Tatum is one of the rare examples of someone that repeatedly disappoints. I think if there is a film that can show that he’s a good actor then it has to be Foxcatcher because sportsmen always make fascinating characters. It’s not just about the physical side (which as any fifteen year old will remind us, Tatum has got covered) but it’s about the psychological side of the same coin. If you watch some of the classic sporting films from the past say thirty years, Ali, The Fighter, Raging Bull, every single one of them has a lead character that we explore on a deep psychological level. We see how they have confidence coursing through every inch of their body and how they know they will be the best. That’s the sort of role I want to see Tatum in; I want him to stop being a wooden door stop and prove me wrong.

Up until this point I haven’t seen him in a film and been impressed by his acting in the slightest. Films like Dear John and The Vow were just sloppy and unengaging rubbish that couldn’t possibly be taken seriously by anyone over the age of fourteen. His action flicks like G.I. Joe Retaliation and White House Down just show that he is good at frowning, and do not get me started on his comedic acting ability. I know people love 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street but I’ve never really been drawn in by them, and I’m sorry but any film that is asking me to take Tatum seriously as a comedic actor becomes instantly annoying. I think it is high time that he breaks out of this habit of being hired for his looks *cough* Magic Mike, The Vow, Dear John *cough* and shows that he should be taken seriously as an actor.

He wouldn’t be the first actor to prove me wrong if he is good in this film, over the past few years my opinion on other actors has been changed based on one film. In fact Tatum’s co star Steve Carell managed it not too long ago. Up until a certain point he was, for me, an actor who was willing to do anything to get laughs. He would do his distinctive shouting/ screaming in films like Evan Almighty and didn’t necessarily strike me as someone who could be taken seriously as an actor. But then all you have to do is see him in Little Miss Sunshine playing a character who is still in a comedic film but who is three dimensional. We see him as someone who is dealing with depressive illness based on the idea that he loves someone who does not love him back and we see all of the pain and frustration that went into his actions. I believe it still stands as Carell’s best performance.

But it’s not just cast members of the same film that have proven me wrong in recent years by showing themselves to be good actors. If you were lucky enough to have seen David Fincher’s hit film The Social Network, not only have you seen one of the best films of this generation but you have also witnessed the acting performance that placed Jesse Eisenberg well inside the radar for award ceremonies. Up until that point he had done very hit and miss films like Zombieland that everyone but me seems to find funny, Adventureland which again was one that was popular but I found it a bit too quirky for its own good, and it just looked like he was going to be another young actor who goes from bad film to bad film and somehow makes it big without really having any talent. Like Justin Long. But then seeing him play Mark Zuckerberg showed just how much talent he has. He managed to capture the arrogance and the unlinkability of someone who was sly but a genius in their own right. The role was based heavily upon detail which Eisenberg had nailed, even down to the speed at which he articulated each sentence. It was a very strong performance in an incredible film and it completely changed my mind about the young actor.

I suppose it wouldn’t be right for me to talk about actors who have changed my mind without mentioning the big name that falls under this category which of course is Matthew McConaughey. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the McConaissance is upon us and it is fantastic. It’s like he woke up one morning and suddenly decided he was going to stop doing awful films like Sahara and Magic Mike and star in something like Mud. Most people will say that Dallas Buyers Club was his first good role but actually it happened just before that with William Friedkin’s big screen adaptation of Killer Joe. It’s safe to say that McConaughey is terrifying in that film, absolutely terrifying. He managed to play this strange character who is calm and collected throughout most events but then when he is crossed by the wrong person his inner demons come out to completely take control and consume his entire being. I approached the film not expecting a lot but I was pleasantly surprised to find that actually McConaughey was fantastic.

However on the other hand this could be a one trick pony for Mr Tatum. When I was thinking back to actors who have been bad but then had a good film the main examples I could think of were actually bad actors who take a break for one film but then sink back into bad habits. Most notably Adam Sandler sprang to mind for his brilliant performance in Punch-Drunk Love, as did Seth Rogen in 50/50, Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas and Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. There have been actors to have a really good acting role and fill the audience with hope, only to disappoint and fall back down. That’s why I have to admire McConaughey because he’s kept it up now, right up to Interstellar at the end of last year, which is better than a lot of other actors. I would prefer it if Tatum could do well in this film and keep it up but that may be asking too much.

In summary I am looking forward to seeing Foxcatcher and I’m hoping it proves me wrong because I want every actor to be on point for this one. It makes true stories more engaging if the actors put in the effort and bring the story to life, not drag it out of bed and throw it at a screen. I want Tatum to prove me wrong and make me feel like a complete idiot for ever doubting him, but as with most things in life only time will tell. And with the idea of 23 Jump Street being a real possibility you’ll forgive me if positivity doesn’t remain constant.

If you have any comments on the situation or any questions you want answering then you’re welcome to leave a comment (good or bad) and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Why is it a problem that Kevin Spacey dropped the f-bomb at the Globes?

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After a night that was intended to be spent celebrating some of the biggest talents of the modern age, we already have cynical vultures circling to find fresh meat to peck at.

As the Golden Globes are passing us by and the awards season is building up momentum it’s safe to say the night was a relative success. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were fantastic hosts bringing an incredible sense of humour to the occasion, some of the key talents in film and television were celebrated, not just standing alone as winners but standing together as nominees, and as ever it provided an interesting guessing game among friends who frequently talk film. It’s just a shame a cloud of negativity has to pass over the event in some form or another.

A couple of years ago the aftermath would consist of people in uproar about whatever jokes Ricky Gervais selected to liven up the festivities. This year it was the use of one word from the actor Kevin Spacey that caused people to take to their laptops and begin sprawling about how a grown man in a room full of other adults who have all appeared in productions to feature adult content cannot say the word “fuck”. It’s not got me annoyed per say but I am disappointed. I’m disappointed because in this day and age we still can’t accept the word being used by adults.

Being someone who is passionate about both films and English Language the topic of the word being used is one that I feel very strongly about because it is demonised without good cause. I know it’s a word that many will find rude or even offensive but when it is used appropriately then there really shouldn’t be a need for people to be so bitter about it. In this case Spacey, one of the most talented actors to ever walk this planet, has been nominated eight times before he finally won this award. Do you not think that he deserves to show a mixture of anger, happiness and disbelief? It was one word. A word that wasn’t used in an offensive manner in the slightest. It is a word without connotations linked to gender or ethnicity or sexuality or any other factors. It was used merely for comic effect by expressing Spacey’s disbelief in a hyperbolic manner, and furthermore showing the doubt he had that he would win the award. Just imagine what DiCaprio is going to say when he finally gets an Oscar. It’s a nice dream I know, but if it does happen do you really think it’s going to be easy for him to take to the microphone in a reserved and humble manner?

It’s a topic I have talked about before on this blog because I still admire screenplay writers who use the word “fuck” in a film that has a 12 certificate. I think it shows that they are brave, they are capable of behaving like an adult and treating the audience as adults, but also if it is used with good cause then it shows and incredible amount of talent. Think about it, a writer as one use of that word, two maximum, so they have to use it like a secret weapon. If you go in all guns blazing and blow that chance like the idiot James Cameron did with the screenplay for Titanic then it gives people just cause to be annoyed. But if you use it in a way that is clever and actually has purpose, then it shows an incredible talent and the shock the audience feels as a result of this is not turned in to negativity. There’s been a lot of examples in recent years, most notably with Woody Allen’s screenplay for Blue Jasmine containing the word once, Steve Coogan using it twice for Philomena, and Richard Curtis using it multiple times in About Time. Each of those examples contains the word but uses it to show anger or general heightened emotions but also for comical effect. In each case the use of the word makes the audience laugh because it was unexpected. It’s not exactly the same but Spacey did something similar. Whether he used the word because he genuinely meant it or if it used as hyperbole, it made the audience and laugh and sparked a well deserved round of applause.

He is an adult in a room full of other adults, the majority of which have heard the word before and probably had to use it for a character at some point, so why it is a problem? The Globes is one of the more relaxed award ceremonies, with everyone sat at tables, drinking alcohol, it is very much a ceremony where people go to have a good time. After all we saw Ricky Gervais do while he was the host for three years you’d have thought we can handle one use of profanity from an actor who has waited a long time to be up on that stage. It’s not like we haven’t seen worse. Most of the people in that room will have seen American Beauty, a film in which the opening minutes of the film see Spacey masterbating in the shower, which leads on to multiple sequences throughout the film of Spacey fantasising about a young girl. To quote Richard Curtis’ film The Boat That Rocked“My aim is not to offend, it is to entertain. But also, perhaps, to educate a little. ‘Cause if you shoot a bullet, someone dies. When you drop a bomb, many die. You hit a woman, love dies. But… if you say the f-word, nothing actually happens”.

Honestly, ask yourself this, in a world where political figures and people who abuse their power use language in such a destructive manner, why is it suddenly a problem for an adult to swear? We saw it a couple of years ago at the Oscars when Melissa Leo used the same word when she won for her performance in The Fighter. After the initial split second moment of shock fades we realise how funny it is that an adult has used that word, either by mistake like Melissa Leo managed or if it was on purpose like Spacey did. There are far more harmful ways to use the word, or a lot of other words for that matter, so there was really no need for the big fuss. It baffles me that we live in a world where politicians, leaders, and members of religious institutions can blurt out absurd opinions that are offensive on different levels, and yet an adult who has built a career around entertaining people can’t say one word in order to make people laugh by making a joke that many in the industry and indeed outside of the industry understand.

It is a real shame that people are focusing on the swear word used because the rest of Spacey’s speech was very moving, touching on the idea that we are only on Earth for a certain amount of time so while we’re here it’s important to leave our mark. And that’s why I think it’s admirable that he decided to use that word. He’s waited years to receive that award and he finally gets those two crucial minutes to say what he wanted to and to thank everyone he wanted to. So adding in a bit of humour by using a risky word wasn’t the worst thing he could have done, and it certainly shouldn’t be something that we see as ruining what was otherwise a great opportunity to celebrate two important parts of our culture.

2014 Review – Films, Music and Everything in Between

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As the year comes to an end I’ve picked out my favourite moments from across twelve months, covering a number of different areas both good and bad. 

It only feels like yesterday I was writing up my review of 2013 and looking forward to another year. And now, in what can only be described as a time period that feels like half an hour, it would appear I am writing my end of term review for another year. Whether or not it is because I have enjoyed myself or simply because I feel older I’m not sure, but it’s safe to say a lot has happened across twelve months and through good times and bad we’re all still standing.

In a similar fashion to last year I have decided to produce a review for the year, with different awards for areas such as film, music, television etc. to provide a comprehensive overview of how the year was, to remember the bad points but also to celebrate the good points. And just to clarify when it comes to the film categories I am including films that were in the awards season, but I live in the UK so I am going based on their public release in the UK, thus for obvious reasons this does not cater for other countries or early showings at film festivals. So without any further delays, I present to you my end of term review for 2014.

Award for Best Film goes to… The Grand Budapest Hotel – It’s been a favourite of mine all year and it did look like it was going to be threatened by other films during the second half of the year, but nothing has stolen the title. It’s an all round fantastic film that is so tightly wound but runs like intricate clockwork. Fantastically written, laugh out loud funny, with a superb cast that is headed by Ralph Fiennes in his funniest role yet as Gustave H. In my opinion it is Wes Anderson’s finest work, with precise direction as always and excellent screenplay, all visually accompanied by another colour scheme and new fictional locations that I wish existed.

Award for Best Animated Film goes to… The Wind Rises – There were a couple of films that could have taken this award, until I watched this film about three weeks ago. It is utterly fantastic. The animation is beautiful, the historical context is important and it has a lot of heart. It is sad to know this could very well be Miyazaki’s last film but he has left us with his most beautiful film yet. I cried during the film and indeed afterwards however it is a film I would recommend to anybody and everybody.

Award for Best Acting Performance in a Film goes to… Joaquin Phoenix in Her – I’m counting this film because it wasn’t released in the UK until February, which is lucky because the lead performance is utterly fantastic. Phoenix manages to capture every angle of Theodore’s character, from the highs of being in love to the lows of being completely heartbroken and alone. It was a character that was just so human through their gentility and how events do not necessarily have a happy ending, and Phoenix captured this perfectly. It was a chilling performance on some levels also because it shows just how lonely someone can get in a world where technology removes a lot of human interaction.

“The Film I know I shouldn’t like but I do” Award goes to… The Double – I know a lot of people didn’t like it, they thought it was very much a classic case of style over substance, which it may very well be but I have to admit I liked it. I really admire Ayoade as a writer and so I think he did a good job with what can only be described as challenging source material in the form of the classic Dostoyevsky novella The Double. It was very much a dark turn for Ayoade after Submarine but I think he adapted his writing style quite nicely to create a film that was different from what we have previously seen.

Award for the Best Film Surprise goes to… The Lego Movie – I can’t actually think of a person that doesn’t like this film. I loved it. I sat down to watch it thinking it probably won’t be that good or funny, but it is genuinely fantastic. Impressive animation, intriguing plot and laugh out loud gags continuously. If you haven’t watched it then do it as soon as you can. It’s awesome. *snigger*

Award for the Film Let Down of the Year goes to… Maleficent – honestly I wanted this film to be good. I sat down to watch it having bought it the week it came out on DVD. Suffice to say this is the only time I genuinely considered returning a film and getting my money back for it. I like that it has some important messages in there and that is addresses some very serious topics, but honestly the film as a whole is bloody awful. A total lack of imagination and the non existent plot leaves the film feeling like a deflated balloon with an elephant stood on it.

Award for The Misunderstood Film of the Year goes to… Interstellar – Some people really hated it, critics were very mixed about the whole thing, but personally I really liked it. I’m not going to go on and on about it because obviously each to their own, but I think people got so bogged down in the complex nature of the plot that they were completely missing out on just how visually impressive the film is. I admire the film for being a big and bold science fiction film that was let loose on mainstream audiences so Chris Nolan is still very much in my good books for treating cinema audiences as intelligent beings. However, after a second viewing I think I’ll be able to say more about the film so watch this space.

Award for Best Score goes to… Interstellar by Hans Zimmer – I have to admit I have fallen out of touch with Hans Zimmer a bit but this film was different. In the past Zimmer has made such brilliant soundtracks that are loud, which this film has its fair share of, but for me it’s about the delicate parts of this score. It’s for the tracks that are slower and rack up the tension to leave you left in your seat feeling like absolutely anything could happen. It’s a score that very much reminded me of the score from Alien which was very quiet and unnerving. In particular for me the moments that stood out were when the musical accompaniment just suddenly cuts, leaving you with this shot of a tiny spacecraft in the vastness of space. It was chilling and unsettling but it’s undeniable that the score was utilised fantastically.

Award for Best Soundtrack goes to… Guardians of the Galaxy – this is a prime example of a time that I watched a film and bought the soundtrack immediately afterwards, it is just fantastic. Full of popular music from the seventies and eighties it’s the sort of soundtrack that reminded me of the soundtrack to Boogie Nights in which you just feel like putting on your dancing shoes and dancing as badly as that one friend you have who drinks too much and suddenly thinks they’re John Travolta. Fantastically uplifting but also well timed in terms of being used for comic purposes, well worth a listen.

Award for Best Song written for a film goes to… both The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd (written for The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies) and Hikouki Gumo by Yumi Arai (written for The Wind Rises) – I could not decide between the two of these because they both for me symbolise the ending of a journey. The Last Goodbye obviously symbolises the end of this incredible tale through Middle Earth that Tolkien fans have been on for years now and it was really emotional to have a previous cast member return to write the song. And Hikouki Gumo signifies the end (supposedly) of Hayao Miyazaki’s career as a filmmaker. Both are beautifully written and moving so for me there is no way one can be picked as a winner.

Award for Best Television Programme goes to… Fargo – If ever there has been a show to completely grip me and make me want to keep watching in recent years, it’s Fargo. Breaking Bad did it to an extent, as did Sherlock originally but Fargo was an all round fantastic programme. The plot was perfectly on point, as was the screenplay and the cast were utilised fantastically to play such a diverse gang of misfits who you grow to love and hate over ten episodes. It was nice to see the Coen Brothers make the leap from film to television in such a stylish way, and I hope we see more of the show in the future. *fingers crosses the rumours of a second season are true*

Award for Best Television Moment goes to… The Mountain vs Viper fight scene in Game of Thrones – I cheered. Then I gasped. Then I cursed. Then I screamed. The scene is terrifying and the tension goes completely through the roof, but the whole thing is just fantastic. It is so brilliantly directed and the pace of it is pinpointed to perfection. I still watch this scene and think back to how scared I was when I first watched it.

Award for Television let down of the Year goes to… Doctor Who – I was looking forward to seeing what Moffat would do with such a talented actor as Capaldi and don’t get me wrong I think Capaldi is doing a fantastic job, but honestly, nothing excuses bad writing. Moffat claims to be a massive fan of the show so it’s high time he proved that by stopping his most consistent hobby of shitting on the show from a great height.

Award for Best Acting Performance in a Television Programme goes to… Natalie Dormer in Game of Thrones – I don’t know what it is about her. I know her character is crafty and slimey one moment but then all smiles and loyalty five minutes later, but she does it so well. I can’t tell if Natalie Dormer is a nice person in real life or not because she confuses the fuck out of me in GoT. She’s got the smile of someone who knows you’ve got a really big surprise coming on Christmas day and that they can break you just with the power of suggestion. Margery is a complex character but I think Dormer has consistently played her to such a high standard, incredible talent.

Television Event of the Year goes to… Black Mirror: White Christmas – It’s a late entry I know but honestly I have not been as excited for any element of television this year as I was for the one off special of Charlie Brooker’s phenomenal Black Mirror. It was the show I was most excited for and was the show that disappointed me the least. Well worth the wait and one that definitely had to be mentioned as a highlight of 2014’s television offerings.

Award for Best Song goes to… Moving on by James – There’s a lot of older acts still trying to recapture former glory. AC/DC are still clinging on, G’n’R are somehow still going, for some unknown reason KISS still exist, and it’s all becoming very tiresome. So it’s a nice surprise when an older band keeps it together and manages to still make such brilliant music. In the waves of music that doesn’t mean anything (I draw your attention to songs such as All about that Bass) James are still writing fantastic songs about love that have both heart and substance. The whole album was brilliant, but this song in particular stood out.

Award for Best Album goes to… Antemasque by Antemasque – this is the sort of album that you don’t really pick favourites from, because the whole thing is fantastic. It’s great to see Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar Rodriguez Lopez working together again doing what they do best: writing amazing songs and going fucking nuts whenever they feel like it. It had a rough time due to early release and then being withdrawn for re-release and it seemed like for a while we wouldn’t see this album again. But then with the worldwide release in November meant anybody could listen to what is one of the best albums to have been released in recent years.

Award for Worst Song goes to… Shake it Out by Taylor Swift – it’s funny how some people talk without saying thing, and then people like Taylor Swift sing without saying anything. It’s a song that consists of the polystyrene shapes that come in a box when you first get a new washing machine. It lacks any form of substance and basically has a message that’s as strong as Russell Brand’s political opinions. It’s hard to say what the song is about really as it is so badly written that there isn’t a hope in hell of analysing it because it would be as a futile as trying to teach a fish how to climb a tree. The lyrics remind of the moment that happens every so often when a child spontaneously makes up a song and proceeds to dance to it. I have cousins under the age of eight, and right now they’re showing more of a talent than Miss Swift is managing. I feel less at risk to Ebola than I do to internal hemorrhaging after being bored to death by this trashy attempt at song writing. If only the people who have heard the song could shake it off and erase any trace of the stupid song ever being near them.

Award for Best Internet Moment of the Year goes to… the rumours surrounding Glastonbury – It was just fantastic to see all of the people on Twitter getting excited about rumoured acts like Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, Oasis (somehow), Foo Fighters, and then the big day came and Metallica were announced. The look on the faces of those I know that had tickets was that of a child who has their balloon popped right in front of them by some bastard with a pin. Priceless.

Favourite blog post of the year goes to… https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/leonardo-dicaprio-doesnt-need-an-oscar-no-one-does/ a short blog post I wrote earlier this year about how the Oscars don’t matter. It’s not just my favourite because it was well received, it’s because it meant the most to me. I listed some of the greatest film talents of all time who have never won Oscars just to show how films should not be made competitive in such a silly subjective fashion. If you haven’t read it then please give it a quick look, it would mean so much to me if more people read it and shared it.

Award for Best Film News of the Year goes to… Star Wars Episode VII being filmed literally ten minutes away from my house – yep. This happened.

All in all it was a busy year with a lot of ups and downs but overall it was an interesting experience. I hope it was a good year for everyone, but more importantly I hope this next year is even better. On a personal note I would just like to add that this blog is now two years old. After nearly stopping it altogether a couple of months ago I have to admit I’m glad I stuck with it and kept on writing. So really I just want to thank everyone who has ever read it, be it a loyal fan or a close friend or even a random viewing from another country, thank you for taking the time out of your day to sit and witness a young man pontificate. Thank you to those who have stayed loyal and thank you to those who have recently followed. 2015 should be a big year so I can’t wait to post more, including some bigger projects so keep your eyes peeled. ‘Blunt Reviews Presents’ was just the beginning.

I am aware there are things I have missed in this post so if there is anything you would like a judgement on then please feel free to leave a comment and I shall address it as soon as I can.

Happy new year to all, and a much awaited goodbye to 2014.

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