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.

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:


Blunt Reviews Presents: Her (2014)


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

Blunt Reviews Presents: Philomena (2013)


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

Blunt Reviews Presents: 12 Years A Slave (2014)



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