The intriguing prospect of Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Alien’ project


After the recent news of the next planned installment to the Alien franchise it is safe to say there is a lot to be excited about

If you are interested in the latest news surrounding cinema you’ll know that we’re poised quite nicely in a strong time for science fiction. Last year we had films such as Under the Skin showing how small scale sci fi works perfectly, as well as big blockbusters such as Interstellar showing how mainstream audiences are still interested in the genre. This year we’ve got films such as Chappie and Ex Machina already leading the way for a good year, as well as Terminator making a much unwanted come back later this year. If you take a look towards future releases there have been some interesting announcements. Just recently we had the announcement that Blade Runner will be getting a sequel after years of the idea being discussed. However the news that has me most excited is that Neill Blomkamp, famed director of District 9 and Elysium, will be making the next installment in the Alien franchise.

It’s interesting, I think Blomkamp being named as director is the best part of this news, because we already know that he is a very talented filmmaker of the science fiction genre. If it was announced that this film was being made but without a director’s name being attached to it at this point then I would roll my eyes, sigh, and this blog post would be of an entirely different nature. I wouldn’t want to see another sequel made unless it was with a good director at the helm because I care about the original so much. Alien still stands as one of my favourite films of all time, I think it is one of the most important pieces of cinema to have ever been made, however for me the sequels have ruined it. Obviously Aliens is still a very good film but when you move into the region of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection the story loses itself completely and it becomes void of any substance. It seems to have detracted too far away from the original Alien but I think Blomkamp could be the person to bring it back to where it once was.

Much like JJ Abrams was able to salvage the Star Trek franchise by recrafting it for a modern audience I think Blomkamp could be the person to do this for Alien. It just makes me happy to know that this project is being placed in the hands of a director who cares about it. What seems to have happened is that the original Alien idea has been stretched out in order to make money, hence we have somehow found ourselves presented with Alien vs Predator and worse still Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. All of the substance that was once held in Ridley Scott’s original 1979 masterpiece has been squeezed out so that the hollow shell can be used as a money maker. That’s not what Blomkamp will do, as we have found recently when his intentions became clear.

If you’ve read around the topic enough you’ll know that Alien 3 was a very conflicted project. The story was changed multiple times, it was reworked so that the film they were originally intending to make was dropped to make way for the god awful film we know today. What Blomkamp himself said when he first started talking about the film was:

“there’s Alien, then Aliens, and then this film”

and so what he has suggested is that his film would take place directly after Aliens, meaning that in the timeline of events Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection would essentially become null and void. Blomkamp would be taking events down a different path, and I like the sound of that. Alien 3 has always been considered a bad film. Famously David Fincher who directed the film didn’t like it and when they offered him to work on it again to create a director’s cut he turned it down and said he wanted nothing to do with the film, and we can see why. Story wise there is a very little development and the whole thing seems excessive. It’s like when you watch a film, get to a certain point and think “there, that is where the film should end” but then have to sit through thirty minutes more screen time and lose patience with it. That’s what Alien 3 is, it’s the thirty minutes of excess stretched out in to a feature film. Then after that we had Alien: Resurrection which was again excessive and just felt rather unnecessary, so I’m not bothered about Blomkamp wanting to make his film and pretend those films never happened, I think he would be doing the right thing.

There was a fiasco before whereby the story was changed for Alien 3 several times and now it’s unclear as to whether some people should be included in the credits for writing or if some people opted out of it to distance themselves from the project, so hopefully Blomkamp will steer us back in the right direction. I think no matter happens this is going to be an interesting experience because Blomkamp will obviously have a lot of ideas of his own. He has said on multiple occasions that he loves the first two films and so trusting him to make a sequel that comes directly after them is not only a wise decision but the right decision. In order to now screw this up the director/ writer has to care for the source material.

As well as the news of this film being made Blomkamp has released concept art for the film, originally releasing it and informing us that the project had been cancelled, before taking it back up again. The concept art is very intriguing, with some interesting work based around Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, but one of the most interesting pieces in the collection of artwork features someone else. In what is quite possibly the most intriguing piece of concept art we have seen so far we can quite clearly see the character of Ripley stood with the character of Hicks. I quite like the way that’s heading. Alien 3 in a way went off on a complete tangent, it felt like a film from a completely different series. What Blomkamp is intending to do it make a sequel that stays where we want it to and so we can only hope that the character of Hicks has a larger part somehow and it should be interesting to see exactly how that works.

Now I think Blomkamp is the right person to direct this film. He is a modern director with fresh ideas and experience in making science fiction. I haven’t seen Chappie yet and it’s been some time since I first saw Elysium but District 9 still stands as one of my favourite films from recent years. It was a big and unabashedly bold science fiction film and it had large success with audiences worldwide. It wasn’t just down to the incredible special effects or the interesting story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, it stood out because it has a running thread throughout of interviews with various people, and so what you have is almost this sociological commentary that follows the events as they develop and it did make for a very interesting experience. It was nice to see a film whereby humans aren’t depicted as just going in all guns blazing when the aliens arrive, instead we look more towards studying them and keeping the peace. Obviously one of the key features that stands out is the fact the aliens actually become residents and so parts of human life coincide with theirs. So we have sequences whereby the main character is giving out eviction notices to some aliens, and fact that the alien species comes to Earth and is very fond of cat food. It’s just the little details such as this that proved Blomkamp to be a talented writer who understands the genre well enough to add their own twist to it.

What is most important about him though, for me personally, is the fact that he appreciates the original film. It seems like directors that have made films based in the same universe as Alien had quite a pick’n’mix approach when considering the original. They looked at the film and picked out the violence and the blood and the creepiness that comes with the creature, and the chest bursting and so left out all of the elements that made the original as good as it was. Blomkamp has already said that Alien and Aliens were his favourite films of the franchise, so we know he has good intentions and and he isn’t about the run the risk of ruining the story. I think he understands the originals enough to know how to make a film based on them but whilst adding his own visual influence.

When considering how the Alien films have advanced I would still argue that the first one is the best and is one of the greatest films of all time. Aliens was still a good film and I can appreciate that but for me it borders into a slightly less impressive territory with the addition of marines firing off rounds in a James Cameron styled manner. Alien for me is the undisputed masterpiece. Every element is pitched perfectly, from the screenplay that develops the characters so that we actually care about them, right through to the pacing. And what was obviously one of the main factors that made the first film as good as it is was the work from artist H R Giger who designed the set and the creatures themselves. He brought a simplistic chill to the interior design of the Nostromo and obviously was responsible for creating one of the most terrifying creatures ever seen on screen. He was an extremely talented man and it is a shame that he won’t be here to help with the next film, however Blomkamp does seem like he has some pretty impressive ideas and I’m looking forward to seeing what a talented modern director with a good eye for cinema does with the Alien universe.

So in summary I think they have made the right decision in letting Blomkamp go ahead with this idea, I think he is full of good ideas and he respects the original film enough do it justice. It will be nice to see Aliens finally get the sequel it deserves and to see the franchise move back on track after recent disasters. I am hoping that this going to be similar to the Star Trek films of recent years whereby we see a franchise we all love coming back to the big screen, with a good director at the helm and in a modernised way but whilst still respecting what the original set out to do.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any thoughts on the matter then please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. In particular I’d like to know your choices for directors who could make this sequel if Blomkamp was out of the question and why you would pick them.

A Modern Horror Masterpiece?


After years of tedium spawned from years of uninteresting horror attempts, we have the pleasure of finally seeing a good horror film

I have found over the last two years or so that when deciding what films to watch with friends that I have in fact been born in the wrong time period. I have friends that want to watch horror films on a frequent basis, but there is a small problem with this. See the problem is, I am hard pressed to find a modern horror film that I can actually tolerate let alone enjoy. 28 Days Later was a fantastic horror film for the modern age, what happened after that?

The generation I’m in seems to have this fascination with films like Paranormal Activity and The Woman in Black which for me are films that are trying too hard and just end up being annoying. It just means I am surrounded by people trying to tell me that Sweeney Todd is a good film, much to my distaste, and people who try to tell me that the Saw franchise is the most complex film series of all time. Worse still I used to have a friend that was convinced, to the point of speaking dogmatically, that The Number 23 is one of the best films ever made. Which it isn’t It’s a film that was pitched to us as a psychological horror, but then didn’t amount to anything. In fact you can guess the ending from very early on. The only way in which you could find that film “clever” as it was so often referred to, is if you watched the entirety of the film until you were approaching the end, suffered a brain haemorrhage, and then questioned what was on screen. And even then you’d probably still get it right.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the genre. Au contraire, I have rather a strong passion for the genre, it’s just I prefer older horror films that actually have substance. Films like The Birds, a fantastic piece of cinema that was expertly made and still remains scary to this day, with a brutal look in to the fear caused by the unknown. Nowadays what most horror films consist of is a group of people we don’t care about being picked off one by one in as graphic a manner as possible. Or it’s a family being “haunted” by a supernatural being. The same formulae is being churned out, recrafted, reworked, and it has just become so boring. It’s the reason so many horror films get sequels; people somehow like the same boring structure just adjusted slightly to a setting almost as identical as the last.

The main problem we need to address of course is that the films are not actually scary. What most horror films rely on to scare the modern audience is jump scares. If an image suddenly appears on screen or the volume increases tenfold in an instant then of course the audience is going to jump in their seats, but they haven’t actually been scared. It’s not that the image on screen has scared them or the sound has, it’s just that an element in the surrounding area has changed suddenly and so the central nervous system in the body responds accordingly.

It’s not how horror used to be done. Nowadays it’s somewhat dependent on SFX so it doesn’t have as big an impact because we can tell it is fake. Going back thirty, forty years ago there were what I suppose you could call progressive filmmakers and artists trying to find new ways to terrify the audience. People such as Wes Craven who was experimenting with plastic moulds and god knows what else to give us horrifying images that still look incredible today, such as the figure of Freddy Krueger being pressed through the wall above the bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Then of course there were like William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, the makeup for which still terrifies people today. And of course one of my favourites, the Oscar winning artist H R Giger working in collaboration with Ridley Scott to give us the beautifully twisted beings in Alien. It was just a completely different world, a masterclass in making horror films. It’s a shame to see that descend in to what we have today.

However, and this honestly one of the most exciting counter arguments I have ever had to put across, I can safely say without a shadow of doubt that there is now a modern horror film that I not only thoroughly enjoyed, but was also terrified of. At the moment the name Jennifer Kent will not be recognised by many, but it is a name that will go down in cinematic history. She is the first time writer/ director that brought us one of the best horror films I have seen for some time now and essentially one of the best films of last year: The Babadook. 

Interestingly I’m in the position whereby I have witnessed what various opinions have been formed on the film. Film critics whose work I listen to and read frequently such as Mark Kermode loved it, however people I know and have more direct communication with through social networking didn’t like it at all. The people I know on Facebook usually come back from seeing Paranormal Activity 13 or whichever number that franchise has somehow made it to, and they’ll post an obligatory status along the lines of “best film ever!!” and yet they came back from seeing The Babadook claiming it was rubbish and boring.

What we must consider is that The Babadook wasn’t necessarily made for the mainstream audience. They have completely different expectations of horror based on what films are popularly being shown. They’re used to jump scare flicks or slasher films. The Babadook turns that on its head and takes it back to what horror used to be. See modern horror films are like clunky machines that haven’t been looked after properly. The gears grind together and screech, sounding and looking like an utter catastrophe but still somehow holding together. What you have with The Babadook is well maintained machinery. It is polished and pristine and runs like intricate clockwork.

I’m trying not to say too much in terms of spoilers because it is best to approach this film the way I did, knowing very little about the plot. It is just a completely different experience among current cinema, moving back to a better paced film. I like how the film really takes its time and develops the characters so we can see they are three dimensional and are torn as to whether we like them or not. The pace of the film is based quite heavily around the power of suggestion. The language choices, tiny sounds, little flickers of light, and shots where there’s something in the background you see in the corner of your eye, it all stacks up to make you feel completely on edge, and it works perfectly. It’s not so much the modern approach of the bad guy jumping out and everyone screaming, it’s focused more on the little details that crawl under your skin and fill your body with shivers.

Honestly I am trying not to say too much about the film because I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen it. I just can’t stop praising it because it is finally a horror film with an intelligent brain and a beating heart. It takes time, it uses physical elements just like older horror films did, it asks questions, it explores important themes like mother and son relationships and the natural fear all humans have of the unknown. And on top of this is annoyed the people who consistently pontificate about the boring and unimaginative horror films that plague cinema screens most of the time.

I’m pleased to see Jennifer Kent receiving the praise she deserves for this film, including quite impressively a comment from William Friedkin, acclaimed director of The Exorcist, saying “I’ve never seen a more terrifying film” and “it will scare the hell out of you as it did me” Praise indeed from one of the masters of horror himself. Kent has shown that she is incredibly talented as a writer and as an artistic director who creates visually fantastic pieces. I thoroughly enjoyed The Babadook and I look forward to seeing more work from Jennifer Kent in the future.

Happy Endings – Realistic or Idealistic?

casablancaIt would appear that a happy ending has become the default setting for romantic films, but is really the best kind of ending?

*Spoiler warning! This post discusses endings from films across the years and so contains important plot points for numerous films*

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” the famous line delivered from Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine. One of the most emotionally weighted characters Hollywood has ever given us, but strangely one of the most realistic too. He appears initially to be cynical a man who is only interested in himself and his actions are based entirely upon his own interests, but as we learn he actually cares more for the one he loves, to the point of realising he must let her go. It presents us with one of the most heartbreaking endings in cinematic history, but it gives us one of the most realistic.

I should make it very clear at this point that I’m not a complete cynic as the title may suggest. I believe it was Blur that once sang the lyric “I’m a professional cynic but my heart’s not in it” which is precisely the point. I don’t think every film should have a bitter, spriting crushing ending like The Mist or The Exorcist. I’m still a child at heart and so I much prefer it when certain types of film do have a happy ending. It’s not like I sit down to watch a Winnie the Pooh film, enjoy the various adventures and mishaps that occur but then remain unsatisfied unless the film ends with Tigger and Piglet being shot at dawn having been convicted of war crimes. I just think happy endings are not always realistic. They are the glossy ideal conclusion but not always the most believable.

What we must consider is that a happy ending as an element of narrative has become common in the romantic film genre. It has become something of the standard. If a romantic film does not feature a happy ending, particularly if it’s a romantic comedy, then it is often deemed as negative or miserable. And is this really warranted? When I think back to some of the romantic films I have seen in recent years that do feature a happy ending can I honestly say that they all deserve one? Of course not. I am a firm believer that if certain characters existed in real life they would not get their happy ending. For example the main character in 500 Days of Summer, yes admittedly we see him get his heart broken by Summer and him having to move on with life, but then in walks a pretty young lady named Autumn. And with a sly look at the camera we know he is has been given his second chance at love. What a load of nonsense. After all of his whining and behaving like a school boy having a tantrum I don’t think he deserves a second chance so soon. I think he needs to move away from the city, take some thinking time, grow up a bit, start eating olives even if he doesn’t like them, possibly consider becoming a monk or a priest, and then attempt love again.

I think the main perpetrator in this annoying movement of making happy endings that shouldn’t exists is films like Sex & the City where we see these awful portrayals of human beings behaving in a way that is utterly repellent and yet they are still happy. We’re meant to believe that these people are real, and yet they are written to be such shallow and painfully consumerist arseholes that talk about nothing other than sex, shoes and themselves. I honestly don’t think people like this exist in real life and if they do they then they cannot be happy. If they go through life thinking they are above everyone else and consistently obsessing over their appearance then they cannot possibly live a happy life. If you want to see a realistic take on the self obsessed, consumerist caricatures that feature in S&C  then I would draw your attention to Blue Jasmine in which we see how people actually look at these cretinous monsters and what would actually happen to them in real life should they behave the way they do on screen.

Sex & the City for many, including myself, can’t even be classed as a romantic comedy. It is not funny in the slightest, due to the fact it draws humour from gruesome stereotypes, and when the main characters measure love based on how much money men spend on them I hardly think you can call it romantic. This is a prime example of a film that does not deserve a happy ending. If we have to believe these self centred cretins who essentially set back feminism several years actually exist then we need to see a conclusion for them that is just.

I’m not being bitter and I’m certainly not suggesting that happy endings should not exist, but I think films should show a more realistic outcome for characters. If the films are to be believable then they need to have some glimmer of truth in them. It seems that films don’t like showing the truth that not everything lasts forever, instead they decide to show almost every relationship being successful and everyone being happy no matter how much they fuck up. In reality love is certainly not an easy experience, it is tempestuous at the best of times, and more often than we like to admit it does not end well. Sometimes relationships have a nice clean break that leaves the two parties in tact and then other times it goes up in flames completely and burns either side in the process. Having been in a long term relationship that ended a couple of months back I understand now that love can be a rather troublesome experience that does not always end in an easy way, and I think it’s something that should be seen more often in films.

Already I have mentioned Casablanca at the start of this post, which I believe to be one of the best endings a film has ever given to the audience. The wartime context makes it all the more emotional as we see Blaine risking everything to get the woman he loves to safety with the man she loves. It’s not just a well written ending but it’s also an important ending because of the statement it is making. It is an ending that chooses to ignore how naturally selfish humans can be and instead chooses to show what a human would do if they love someone enough. If this was an ending written by a modern film maker we would see Blaine shooting Isla’s new man in order to get on the plane with her and keep her to himself. And if Michael Bay got his hands on it I’m sure there would be an explosion or two thrown in.

Thankfully it is not just older filmmakers who have a firmer grasp on reality, there are fortunately modern films that choose to show a more realistic ending in their work. About two years ago cinema goers had the pleasure of seeing Spike Jonze’s latest triumph Her starring Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. For the most part this film is very upbeat as we see the main character, Theodore, developing a relationship with his operating system, Samantha. Although it is meant to be set in the future it is written in a way that makes it relatable in some senses. We see the main character falling in love just purely through speech. All visual aesthetics becomes unimportant because the OS doesn’t have a physical form, their connection is built purely through speaking. This leads to the relationship’s eventual end as we see the OS attempt unsuccessfully to add a physical element through the use of a surrogate lover, and Theodore seeing how there are complications that come with an artificial girlfriend. It is not the most positive of endings but I think it is realistic because it shows how as humans it is our actions that build the path we follow, and all consequences are a result of what we do. Theodore invested a lot in to the relationship and withdrew himself from many people so when it ends there is still some positivity in seeing him strengthening his connection with this friend, played by Amy Adams.

It’s going to be a controversial point but I’d argue that one of the finest romantic comedy writers is still Woody Allen. He’s not a person many people like; I think too many people have been brainwashed in to thinking they don’t like his films because they don’t like the Woody Allen they read about in the Daily Mail. Personally I think he is a complex man and I do not condone any of the actions he has been accused of by any means, but I haven’t let this prevent me from enjoying his contributions to cinema. Particularly for this topic I believe Allen’s contributions are most admirable. As a comedic writer his back catalogue is unparalleled and he has given us some of the most impressive romantic comedies, the majority of which have realistic endings.

Firstly consider Annie Hall, arguably Allen’s most well known film. It tells the story of comedian Alvy Singer’s relationship with the titular character, from the initial stage of young romantics through to the inevitable breakup. I don’t think that’s a bad way to end a film, two grown ups accepting that their relationship is no longer working (I draw your attention to Alvy’s dead shark analogy) and that’s the mature thing to do. It is admirable of a writer to approach love with at least a shred of maturity and accepting that not everything lasts forever. It’s more realistic to show Alvy and Annie parting ways as friends than try to convince us they could stay together for a happy ending. In fact I’d say that’s one of my favourite moments of film, seeing the montage of Annie and Alvy together before Alvy speaks of how grateful he is to had had Annie in his life and how he still sees her as a fantastic person.

Furthermore I think it’s clear from Allen’s body of work that he is capable of mastering the obscure comedic elements that we all love but then balances them with absolute sincerity when approaching love as a topic. Films like like Midnight in Paris which again ends with a break up of sorts but again it is one that the audience has to see as logical. It is a grown man accepting that the woman he is with is no longer a nice person and so he cannot stay with her. It is an ending that leaves us full of uncertainty because we don’t fully known what is going to happen to Gil after leaving Inez and deciding to move to Paris, but we know that he has done the right thing. The image of a man sitting alone in Paris staring blankly without knowing what his future will hold is a sad image, but it would have been so much sadder if he had stayed with Inez.

To summarise I suppose what I want from the ending of a romance film, because it is a genre I care greatly about, is for it to be realistic. If the characters have behaved like idiots but still get the person they want, that’s inappropriate. It is their own behaviour that brings them to their conclusions, so for a writer to suggest (much like we see constantly throughout the series Friends) that a character can act like an absolute arsehole and just generally annoy everyone but then still end up with the person they want for a happy ending, doesn’t quite sit well with me.

It makes me happy to see writers such as Woody Allen and Spike Jonze writing for intelligent, sentient beings who can accept that not everything is perfect in the world, and you can’t deal with that unless you acknowledge it. I’ve had the misfortune of seeing films that butcher the romantic genre on screen *cough* The Fault in our Stars *cough* but I have also had the pleasure of seeing some of the best pieces of romantic cinema, written by both admirable and talented writers who keep the genre alive.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, whether you’re a regular viewer or if this is your first time on this blog I’m grateful for you choosing to spend ten minutes of your day reading my work. If there is anything you’d like to discuss, any films you would like to address, or any comments (good or bad) then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and I will send a response within twenty four hours.

midnight in paris

Thoughts on ‘The Theory of Everything’

theory of everything Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones take to the big screen as Professor Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane in this awards heavy triumph.

I find myself in quite a good place at the moment as I am making regular trips to the cinema before the big awards ceremonies take place. Having been through a period where the cinema became something of a rarity for me I am pleased to say that I am back in full swing and visiting on a near weekly basis. The latest film I managed to see was the critically acclaimed Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, directed by James Marsh. It is safe to say that I did thoroughly enjoy the film and it was because most elements are finely polished.

In terms of narrative structure I don’t necessarily have a problem. I think the film has the difficult task of covering a lot of events that span across years but it manages this very well. I have been informed that some events have been changed on the big screen because there were certain things that weren’t allowed in the film and obviously as we can expect certain things had to be changed in order to help the pace, certificate rating and various other elements as we see in most films based on true events. I was worried when I was approaching the film because I went in wanting it to focus on Hawking’s work to a certain extent. I feared that this may have been jeopardised by the fact it was said to focus on the relationship between the young couple. I found myself pleasantly surprised because my cynicism was without cause. It was not over indulgent or watered down Hollywood romantic nonsense. There was a very nice balance of the relationship and his work as well so I think it worked perfectly in that sense.

The screenplay was also quite impressive, managing to present this young couple who are falling in love and then progressing them through to married life but it does so in a manner that doesn’t make you want to be sick in to your popcorn. It shows that yes Stephen Hawking was a nervous sort, and yes he was unconfident around women, but this didn’t fall into the region of trying to show him as some quirky character you often find in romantic films. The screenplay was actually rather impressive, showing how the two of them fell in love by talking. There’s a wonderful scene when the two of them first meet and the young Stephen Hawking is trying to explain his subject field to Jane and finds it difficult because she’s quite religious and his subject is the complete opposite. I think it was scenes such as this that made the film stand out for me because it showed how the love between the two of them was not something instant like a firework going off, but rather it was like a wall being built brick by brick or a puzzle fitting together piece by piece and it was very romantic. Also on the flipside of this it manages to show the failures of the relationship rather well, much like seeing that once the wall has been built it can easily be taken apart again brick by brick, which in this instance was done so in a heartbreaking fashion that did squeeze a few tears out of me.

I have to say I thought visually the film was very good. The cinematography was rather impressive because this is a story in which the little details matter. I thought it was very good how the camera focuses on little things like the positioning and direction of Hawking’s feet as he walked, or the movements of his mouth because it all shows how his health is slowly deteriorating so it helps to show not only the smaller changes that take place gradually but also the quite large ones that happen at a greater speed.

If you haven’t heard about the acting then one can only assume you live in a hole in the ground and spend your days whitewashing your walls because the cast is superb. The supporting cast is very strong, in particular actors such as David Thewlis stood out for me. However, it is the two leading roles that are the most impressive. Eddie Redmayne is of course fantastic as Professor Hawking, mastering the speech and physical movements to give a performance that is quite rightfully nominated for the Academy Award. I would love to see him get it but the chances of the Academy favouring him are very low. I am overjoyed that he has taken home the BAFTA as I really like the awards, so I guess him missing out on an Oscar wouldn’t be such a big deal because they don’t mean an awful lot to me anyway. But in all of quick fire reviews or posters and tv spots there is never really a mention of how wonderful Felicity Jones is as Hawking’s wife. She manages to capture all of the excitement of being young romantics, but then also the jaded look of the woman who tried as hard as she could to keep the love alive but knew her efforts were in vain. There was a scene in particular featuring Jones and a letter board that I defy anyone to watch without it tugging on their heart strings. It was an outstanding performance and again one I would love to see awarded by the Academy but I have doubts.

The thing I didn’t expect from the film that I think I found most interesting was the philosophical side. There’s quite a lot of talk of God and whether or not this universe was created by a God and it adds an extra dimension to the film. Hawking was complex in his views about God and you do see him shift backwards and forwards on the belief scale, but the scenes in which the characters openly debate are the ones that I found most interesting. In particular there is a scene in which the conductor of the church choir, who later goes on to fall in love with Jane, is sat at the dinner table with Professor Hawking and they end up in quite a heated debate on the matter. I thought this scene was fantastic and actually quite comical on a number of levels. However, what I liked most about the film’s approach to this debate was how it leaves it very open. It would have been easy to sit on one side and say that yes a god does exist or sit on the other and say no gods exists at all, but what the film does is just remain open. It doesn’t make it’s mind up. It even shows how Hawking had an open mind and was merely seeking the answers. What the film does not do is attempt to provide an answer, and that is nothing short of admirable.

I’m glad to have seen this film have success at the BAFTAs, not only for Redmayne’s rightful win but also the win for the best British film. I just feel like this film is important. Not only is it a big and bold British film that clearly secures our seat at all of the awards ceremonies, but also because the story is so important. It’s a film that celebrates one of the most important minds that this world has ever seen. It celebrates the work of a man who constantly questioned things around him, he constantly pursued answers to some of the largest questions humanity can form. He is even a man who questioned himself. He would finish his work and then immediately challenge it. He is a truly remarkable human and he shows what determination really is. The doctors gave him a time scale in which they thought he would pass away, and he has consistently defied that and still lives today. It was an utterly fascinating film about a fascinating man and the person whom he loved, and I just admire it as a whole for being a bold and unashamedly British film that can give any of the other motion picture nominees a run for their money.

Now there is a small matter I need to address. Exactly one week before I saw this film I went to see the film Whiplash which is another film that is tipped very heavily at the awards. And when I came home from seeing the film I posted a picture on Instagram of myself and my good friend Holly who I saw both films with, and the picture’s caption was “go and see this film now” because we both really enjoyed it. And underneath this a good friend of mine, Mr Tom Allison, posted a comment saying “let me ask you this… is it better than the theory of everything because I think that movie is simply the best movie I’ve ever seen?”. At the time I couldn’t answer the question because I hadn’t seen The Theory of Everything, however now that I have seen it I can answer that question. In my opinion, they’re not really comparable. I think Whiplash managed to grasp my attention more and intrigued me because I barely knew anything about it, but on an emotional level and in terms of scale and cinematic mastery I think The Theory of Everything was above Whiplash. I do need to see both films again and I think I will have to write a more detailed comparison of the two, just so Tom’s question gets the answer it deserves, but for the time being it is difficult for me to say which is better.

Overall I felt that the film was fantastic, a really impressive piece of storytelling that is brilliantly made and executed. For the most part it did not feel as though I was watching Eddie Redmayne because his performance was so incredible. It reminded me very much of Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot, and I honestly feel it would be an act of injustice if he does not take away the Oscar this year. It was not perfect and it is not the best film I have ever seen (apologies Tom) but it was still hugely impressive and it had me crying at different points. It may have been more emotionally draining for me as I’ve recently been through a break up so it was crushing to see this relationship blossom on screen and then slowly decay right before my eyes, but then again I would challenge anyone with a beating heart to see this and not get emotional.

As always thank you very much for taking the time to read this. If you’re a regular reader then this is your fault if you didn’t enjoy this. If you’re new to this blog then please feel free to leave through the door you entered, however I cannot guarantee a refund of the minutes spent reading this. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share or any questions you would like answering then please feel free to leave a comment below and I shall respond hopefully within twenty four hours.

‘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.

2014 Review – Films, Music and Everything in Between


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… 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.


Blunt Reviews Presents: 21 Jump Street (2012)



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.

Blunt Reviews Presents: Maleficent (2014)


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


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!”


What Exactly is Wrong with “Love Actually”?


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: