Monday, 25 October 2010
Sunday, 24 October 2010
Friday, 22 October 2010
Director: Tod Williams
Writer: Oren Peli
Stars: Katie Featherston
Handheld camera? Check. Creepy soundtrack? Check. Spirits more haunting than before? Check. And it's a sequel, well, prequel. Yes, we are now ready to experience the next chapter in the Paranormal Activity story. This time being set before the antics that took place on our screens last year, this film will more than likely bring you to tears, make you leave the cinema or just leave you an utterly paranoid.
There's something about this film that brings with it a real sense of fear. The technique it uses has been done before and the story is a familiar one to us. But there is no doubt in my mind this is the scariest film I have possibly seen- And I love horrors. Without an inch of exaggeration, I was trembling when the film finished and find it hard now to sit by myself in room without thinking something strange is going on. And this is why the film is so successful, because it plays on your fear of the unknown.
The story is simple - A house is haunted by an unknown presence that causes a whole lot of fuss. The filming is what intensifies the action slightly. Having static security cameras filming in real time mixed with a hand held home video camera heightens the reality. The special effects and deep focus of the picture means something could be happening anywhere with a truly horrifying effect. Plus, with this we have the less than appealing soundtrack. No music, just a low humming when something paranormal is about to happen. It prepares you for what may happen next, but you don't know what effect it will have on you. It could just be a mobile spinning around a crib... Or it could be a woman being dragged down the stairs. The inconsistency of action makes it that much on edge.
The acting, just like the first, is perfect for the story. We're with real looking people that could be your neighbours and they play up to the cameras in a "Ooh, you're filming me, hi camera!" way. We watch their actions happen just like you would watch anyone on the street. It's very voyeuristic which creates the intrigue. But when those titles appear saying "Night 8" you just about begin to panic. With this sense of intrigue comes the dilemma of watching the screen or not, because you want to see what happens, but it is utterly terrifying at how long it drags out and how mysterious the activity may be.
As the first was so low budget with such an impact on the audience, you probably think this won't match up. But the reality in my eyes is that it's better. The only difference really is that the picture is in slightly higher definition, due to the rise in budget, and the events take place a lot more. The same effect of drawn out tension and vulnerability runs through. Paranormal Activity climaxed at the very end of the film with an almighty thud (excuse the pun) but the 2nd takes you right up there on the fear level, brings you down and rises again. You're drained emotionally afterwards and leave uneasily as the ending is very unsettling. It slightly cops out by using a similar finish to the first (don't worry, that's not a spoiler). But with the added events to the film, as a whole this just takes the story to another level - You're not even safe in the day time!
Every word of the hype doesn't leave this film disappointing. In fact, you're probably not even nearly prepared enough to see a very original and exciting, horrifying tale. Good luck!
Here's some reactions if you didn't believe me:
Sunday, 17 October 2010
Friday, 15 October 2010
All the characters in this film are based on real people, because this is a film about a real case that started in 1983. Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) and Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) are the closest a brother and sister can be through their childhood of deviant behaviour to when they have children and get married. After the arrest of Kenny for the accusation of murdering a young woman, the dynamics of their relationship don't get hindered, but gain much more value as Betty Anne does anything to prove her brother is innocent. The story tells of how she puts herself through law school, whilst being a mother and working I might add, to represent her older brother in court right until the very end.
It's entertaining in terms of the emotion that's central to this drama. The highs and lows are placed in a perfect amount which keeps you wondering what's going to be the next action in their life. And the flow of the story is steady throughout the film which makes it an easy watch. There are just a few things that hold you back from completely falling in love with this representation of a true story.
The exaggeration of love means that after a while the affection becomes funny. You start noticing that this film really pushes family connections and the bond this brother and sister have for each other. When you watch it, not only are you trying to follow the story of a courageous woman, but you're also picking out the single lines which just become a bit ridiculous. It's just a typical example of how a Hollywood film spells things out to the audience. Obviously, from the storyline alone you gain a sense of companionship between the two, but to have every single scene thrown in your face with love and affection means you're kind of distanced. You start noticing the narration and realise it's not actually that great...
Another thing which isn't necessarily bad is that the supporting actors often shine over Swank and Rockwell. There's no doubt about it that these two really put a lot of effort in their roles to gain as much reality out of the true life characters as possible. But when we look at Minnie Driver (Abra Rice) and Juliette Lewis (Roseanna Perry) in particular, they're much more natural and likeable. Maybe because they're added features to the story to give a little bit of humour and the everyday character, but I found I enjoyed watching their roles as it was an escape from the quite dramatic tale being told from the rest of the film.
Going back to Rockwell and Swank, their acting is very... in character. I know that seems a ridiculous statement, but they adopted these roles with a real sense of passion. They both spent a lot of time with the real family and picked up on traits to create this emotive performance. The chemistry between the two is exceedingly good too. It's just a shame that the script was so dyer to work with.
That being said, I did find myself wondering whether there would be a huge twist - Whether he had killed the girl, whether she was going to actually finish Law School etc. So, the story keeps you engaged throughout and has a very satisfying ending which is obvious for a mainstream film. This makes it a perfect watch on DVD, but not so much on the big screen. It's all very typical and by the end predictable. And the fact that there weren't that many turns in the narrative almost made it less satisfying for me. You just want something with a little more of a kick, but all in all it's a pretty standard watch that's pleasurable enough.
How could you accuse this man of a murder?
Thursday, 14 October 2010
If you've seen Let The Right One In (a 2008 Swedish adaptation of the novel written in 2004) you'll know how beautiful this story is. Being told predominantly from the eyes of two 12 year olds, we see how one boy, Owen (Kodi Smith McPhee) who's bullied constantly throughout his life, witnesses divorce and alcoholism from his parents and is constantly lonely finds a friend within a mysterious girl, Abby (Chloe Moretz) who moves into his neighbourhood. But what's intriguing about this girl is the horrifying truth that she's a vampire. It's a completely unique tale from the book, and the Swedish version is incredibly innocent and honest. The English version doesn't seem to touch the sentimental value and creates more of a bloodbath than anything else.
Directed by Matt Reeves, he seems to favour these monster driven narratives. But this focus on the evil has left the idea of companionship minimal in the film. It's about the difficulties in life, not the horror behind the actions. The book is very dark and you do feel this. The setting is secluded, the characters live hard lives in a run down area and we see the struggle of growing up within these children. But watching the attacks on people becomes almost horrible to witness. The film's meant to represent a way of living, but all we see are built up scenes of tension every time an attack comes to make us scared. We don't sympathise with the characters, we're distanced from them. And when we see the bullying, it's so brutal that rather a feeling of sadness, it's a feeling of disgust.
Another factor that makes this a disappointing watch in terms of the cinematography is the special effects. Living in a world where everything should be flawlessly real now in editing, when we watch Abby attack it just doesn't live up to expectations. It turns her into something more like an animal than a vampire, losing her youth and creating a poor represented criminal. The movements are so over the top that you find it unrealistic - Yes, I know it's a vampire story, but being surrounded by so many of these creatures in film and TV now, you would expect it to have a much more believable feel than it does.
The redeeming factors are the two main actors. Chloe Moretz, like most of her performances, plays this character who's witnessed the world. Yeah, she's 12 but she's been 12 "for a very long time". Somehow she's an adult in a child's body which is perfect for the role. Kodi Smith-McPhee plays such a timid haunted boy that you really can gain a sense of emotion from his torment he goes through. Although the story lacks in the punch, his performance brings it back up to mark with his moving and painful experiences.
If Let The Right One In hadn't of been made, I'm sure this film would have had a much bigger impact. It's got the potential to create a compassionate story with a real individual look at life. But it's been done previously in such a elegant way that this becomes painful rather than filled with tenderness. The music is out of place in so many parts leading to mixed interpretations of a scene. At one point we have light strings playing in the background as Owen tells Abby he has a knife, for example. This misrepresentation of emotion makes it so much more difficult to watch, and it's a common theme running throughout the film.
I do have to stress, this isn't an awful film. It's just been created previously in a much better way. You still are entertained and find the tale as a whole very interesting to watch. But the way it's carried out is much more of a horror than a thriller now. If I were you, I'd deal with the subtitles and buy the Swedish version, it's a lot more satisfying.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
This film has the ability to have as little impact as possible - It's an ambitious and unique storyline adapted from a book, stars children as some of the main focus and uses British boarding schools and countrysides as it's main setting. But the fact of the matter is, this film is absolutely astonishing. Coming out of the cinema heartbroken yet amazed at the quality of acting and character this film brings, it was a real surprise to the senses.
Starting off with the storyline, it could quite easily have become a sci-fi enhanced, super technical thriller. But this modest tale about young children growing up in a "special" secluded school, discovering their fate is already set out (that being they were created as clones to keep the human race alive past 100) just provides the originality of the tale. You grow with each and every person on screen and connect with their every emotion. The film is set in the 70s, 80s and then 90s, so at no point are we surrounded by stainless steel wear or electronic touch screens. We're watching doctors operate on people as their organs provide lives for people who gain deadly illnesses. But the people we're watching are clones. The idea that they're not original is strikingly shocking, as is the tale when the film goes on.
The acting is incredible. We have Keira Knightley (Ruth) starring as the almost evil character on screen. She's perfect for this posh private school girl. We have Andrew Garfield (Tommy) who plays the timid romantic lead who is entirely enchanting. And then we have the superb Carey Mulligan (Cathy). Her vulnerability is almost hard to handle by the end because you're just so caught up in her world. Adding to this, you do have to pay credit to the children playing the younger versions of these characters. Izzy Meikle-Small plays a spitting image of Carey in the film. Charlie Rowe (Younger Tommy) and Ella Purnell (Younger Ruth) all add to the realism these kids bring and you believe they are younger versions. They pick up on each other's habits and bring such a fluid performance.
The cinematography is beautiful. Scenic views of beaches, fields and remote areas bring a true a English vibe to the film. The world becomes yours and that's what makes it so crushing. It really is a testament to how much pain you can handle in a story. You come out of the cinema silently and sombre, but with such a sense of pride after what you've just witnessed. Kazuo Ishiguro (who wrote the original novel in 2005) stated he wanted to take 100 pages out of the book because the film is so good. Although many people have said it doesn't touch the book's detail, the film on its own is just beautifully curious.
I've really never seen a film quite like this. The reaction you gain from this is such a bizarre one it's hard to describe. Ranging from admiration to complete and utter sadness, this story will take you through the motions gradually, impacting each time something new to the narrative hits you. Mark Romanek (Director) has created a masterpiece waiting to gain as much credit as it deserves. Considering he's come from a background of music videos, this must have been pretty far-fetched for him. But he's totally created a captivating and soul-filled film.
Just to show how good Mark Romanek's direction is, take a look at this scene from One Hour Photo (2002):
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Back to the Future is one of the more successful Science Fiction movies to come out of the 80s. It has charm, charisma and an exciting plot all combined into one eccentric tale. But why is this film so well respected among film fans, critics and lovers of the genre? Well, it's all to do with the narrative. It is Hollywood storytelling at the point of perfection, and here's why:
Ever wondered why the boy band McFly chose that as their name? Were you slightly confused as to why Total Film caused a whole lot of talk when they published a fake picture with dates taken from a film? Back to the Future is why. This classic 80s story about a mad scientist who discovers a time travelling machine has been brought back to cinemas for a short time to coincide with the release of all 3 films on Blu-Ray on 25th October. To make things even better, the film has a totally new look, being digitally remastered to give every detail of the picture even more definition.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and produced by Steven Spilberg, this movie is still as exciting, funny and clever as it was when it came to cinemas in 1985. Having the chance to see it on the big screen is something special. Not only are you surrounded by lovers of the film when it was first released, the film is now capturing a whole new audience. As soon as the titles began the audience started clapping and cheering, just proving how well loved this tale still is. And there are plenty of reasons why this classic was and is so successful.
To start off with, you have a brilliant cast. Marty McFly played by Michael J. Fox epitomises the rebel teen with a comic edge to keep him just the right amount of cheeky before he becomes obnoxious. Crispin Glover plays George McFly, Marty's Dad, who is just so adorably weak, when the hero tale comes forward all you want to do is cheer for happiness. Thomas F. Wilson plays Biff, the typical jock who's a huge bully and really easy to dislike. And of course we have the adored Christopher Lloyd playing Dr. Emmett Brown. His eccentricity, excitement for life and loveable personality is the perfect combination to keep him entertaining and a mad scientist. And they all play their parts perfectly. No one is out of place, even when they're taken back in time to the 50s, the personalities there are just how you would imagine them to be.
Another reason is the special effects. For the time, this kind of idea was so hard to put across because the computer graphics were just not up to scratch. But from when we see the car first leave our screens to when we see it fly, the images are brilliant. We watch this time travelling sports car become something of an icon in cinema, and now with the remastered work, the picture is perfect; It looks like a brand new film. Obviously we still have 80s-tastic hair and fashion, but that's always going to be in our hearts fondly. You're going to want to get out and buy some Nike trainers, for sure.
The most important reason this film has become what it is today is because of the story. It is technically perfect in terms of a classic Hollywood way of telling a tale. Every little inch of the plot has been cleverly thought out, with key props being placed on the screen, ingenious dialogue references and a perfect beginning, middle and end. It's cathartic and heart-warming, fast paced and original with all the characters you need. There's nothing placed in this movie that isn't needed. It's all there to make the experience of watching the film as believable as it can possibly be.
It really is a one of the most fun experiences watching this film. Buy your tickets this week to go, because it's not often you get to watch a unique, true Hollywood blockbuster on the big screen with a crisp picture once it's been past the first release date. Taken straight from the 80s and brought into the 21st Century, it's amazing how this film hasn't aged... Almost as if it time travelled.
Here's a fun little video from Biff doing a song about Back to the Future:
Friday, 1 October 2010
Yes I have covered the ID photo with the lanyard. It's not the most attractive picture of me, so for now you can read the information and deal with my vainness.