Looper: A Review

Rian Johnson creates one of the best sci fi films in recent memory. But also one of the most flawed.

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Johnson creates an ambitious and original film, something not seen often in this blockbuster, franchise and sequel loving film culture we live in.  Although not the film I was expecting the film truly blew me away technically everything is spot on, and the acting is great, Joseph Gordon-Levitt manges to create a interesting and intriguing performance while essentially doing his best Bruce Willis impression however its Emily Blunt who really stands out.

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Unfortunately Looper may however be too ambitious, and while everything looks great on the surface its plagued with problems. All time travel films have to deal with paradoxes. In the world of time travel films, there are two ways you can treat time travel, one is basic reaction theory, for every action they’re is a reaction therefore by going back in time you effect the future therefore creating a new time line. This theory seems to be the basic story line of Looper Bruce comes back to kill the rain maker as a kid. However the other theory is a loop theory where you going back is just a continuous loop where you effect the future but you keep doing this, there is no changing it. Looper also uses this theory.

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Slight Spoilers,

The truth is you cant use both theories as they contradict each other, I.E how did Joe create the rain-maker when the rain-maker existed in a separate timeline, or is hurting young version of characters effects the old ones time line, why didn’t old Paul Dano disappear when his legs are chopped off as his life wouldn’t of been the same and he wouldn’t of be able to ended up in modern time line, the truth is it doesn’t matter.

The film isn’t just about time travel but its about characters and the changing morals of the same person, if you take the film at face value and watch it you will enjoy it however if like me you start to inspect every detail of the time travel paradoxes it will start to ruin the film for you so my advice to you is just enjoy the fact this is a original film being made.

The Worlds End: A Review

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It’s the end of the world, the end of the trilogy and the end of a cultural milestone in British film and comedy.

The Worlds End is Edgar Wright’s third and final part in the Cornetto trilogy, a film series linked by themes, running jokes and the trio of Wright himself, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz before it, The Worlds End is a film drenched in homage to all things film, this time the genre is Science Fiction, however The Worlds End has the task of closing the series so is as much about the previous films then cinematic history or genre.

The film follows Simon Pegg as Gary King, a middle aged man in a serious mid life crisis after realising the best moment of his life was a failed pub crawl known as the golden mile, he recruits his long since estranged friends played by some of Britain’s best actors, Nick Frost Paddy Considine Martin Freeman and scene stealer Eddie Marsan, in to recreating that faithful night but this time finishing that mile. All somewhat reluctant and with a sympathetic heart agree to do it, unfortunately their home is less welcoming then they expect.

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The film works on a few levels first is the narrative level, where the story is just that a story about a middle aged man attempting to recapture his lost youth, and realising the older you get the more things change and nothing is what it used to be.

Next is the social comment level, in which the film is still about the narrative but also about the social impact that has happened to British towns in the 23 years in between pub crawls, the identikit culture of the high street, or as Paddy Considine’s character Steven puts it Star-Bucking and the effect of the ‘Global Village’ we now live in thanks to the development of technology in particular the internet.  It’s a comment on capitalism and communism and gives of something of a liberal message.

The Third is the thematic level, the themes of the past, age, technology and change all seem to merge from time to time to tell the story. The alien planet in this Sci Fi is the present, the hometown you once left and returned to, and the aliens are the people you left behind, everything looks the same but also different. However the overarching theme is recapturing pervious glory something that the film itself needs to do which leads to the fourth level.

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The referential level, any fan of Edgar’s will know all his work from Spaced to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is referential but none more so then the worlds end. Its referential in the usual Edgar Wright way it homage’s great and cult cinema, British and American pop culture but unlike before it references the previous Cornetto films in story, jokes and style as-well as the metaphysical reference of the ‘real-world’.

The film is about trying to recreate past glory, the film itself undoubtedly would be compared to its successful predecessors so it takes that idea head on and runs with it, but it goes past that. Simon Pegg’s character Gary King is the one trying to get ‘the boys back together’ for one last adventure, and in real life its Pegg who would often be in the public eye talking about getting the spaced guys back together for the last Cornetto film. The film takes place primarily in pubs, something the fans would know has a presence in all Cornetto films and the TV show spaced. The end of the film even deals with the future, it ends in a future that seems like a high concept blockbuster, the eventual future for many of the men involved.

Because of all this, it may be one of the best third parts in movie history, it is essential watching for anyone who has ever seen Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz as it fits in and wraps everything up perfectly, yet manages to be different to the other films tonally, its more mature and very possibly better because of it, the films have grown more mature with the cast and crew and the story helps reflect that. Edgar Wright delivers a film for the audience that has the same feeling that the characters have for their home town, it’s what we expect, but not quite what we expect it has the prophetic lines and running jokes we know, but it’s also serious and touching. Its laugh out loud funny but it’s also sad to see an end of an era. It’s a Cornetto film, but it’s not drenched in the green we’ d except instead we have a highlighted blue colour this time, not referencing the Cornetto but the film Attack the Block and its director Joe Cornish who owes a lot to Edgar Wright.

This film is the evolution of Edgar Wright and while it’s hard to say bye to the spaced crew for a second time,  we know it’s right, Wright Pegg and Frost will be known as our generations Monty Python, and it may be a while before we treated to another great comedy group, or great mainstream British director who can transcended the Atlantic but we have to be happy and now look for Edgar Wright to fulfil the potential he showed us with Scott Pilgrim and become Britain’s best export in Hollywood.

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The Cabin in the Woods: A Review

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The Horror film that takes the rule book has fun with it, amends it and then just rips parts of it out. A Truly surprising film that is as much about the horror genre as it is based in it. Part Evil Dead, Part Scream, Part Blade II, Part House on the Haunted Hill and a large dash of Whedon!

The film is an examination of the horror genre by homaging the greats and highlighting the bad via satire. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford play two middle aged job-worths that glue the whole movie together in whedonesque banter but its the main cast of Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchinson and Jesse Williams that craft the film into something above all other Horrors.Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz especially, Connolly gives us the strong female lead a Jamie Curtis for a whole new generation while Kranz gives us something slightly different, a somewhat scruffy Fox Mulder (X-files) that is used as the audiences voice throughout the film. All the actors are given something most Horror casts aren’t, a  script that gives them fun things to say and time on screen that suggests they could be more then the stereotypes they are there to play.

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Whedon and director Drew Goddard have described it as a way to revitalize the slasher genre and a critical satire on ‘torture porn’.It would be easy to say Whedon and Goddard are using they’re experience on TV shows Buffy and Angel to create this experience, but it wouldn’t be fair. They’re seems to be a lot of influences on this film from the obvious ones Evil Dead and Halloween to stranger ones like Stanley Kubricks Dr Strangelove and little known 2002 British film My Little Eye but its this combination that makes this Horror film to become much more, its a black comedy, fantasy, satire, science fiction Horror that quite literally points the finger at other so called Horror films for the poor output in recent years.

I would argue the ‘whole of the Horror genre’ is under the microscope and Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon are spot on with the message they’re trying to send.The Horror genre needed this self examining and hopefully more Horror films will have learnt you can be truly scary, funny and interesting with out spilling brains all over the floor but by challenging your characters and audiences to use them.

The Butler or not The Butler

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On august 16th 2013 The Weinstein Company will release a film titled The Butler or maybe it won’t. The film is based upon a story the true story of Eugene Allen who served as a butler in the white house for eight presidents. During his time there he worked his way up the ranks where he went from pantry man to head butler, we every change of position and President he saw many changes to the country he lived in. It has an all-star cast of Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey Terrance Howard, Cuban Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, James Marsden, Vanessa Redgrave, John Cusack, Alex Pettyfer, Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda. It is also what some would call Oscar bait; the film will touch very hard-hitting issues like social politics, and racial class as well as portray eight us presidents what gives it that Oscar feel.

It may never be known as The Butler although the title seems to point out the most important part of the story Warner Bros. have taken offensive and got the title of the Weinstein movie blocked by MPAA but why? Because they’re sacred it may cause confusion with their 1916 silent short ‘The Butler’ that’s their official reason and they have the right to do so, when any company signs up to the MPAA they register all they’re titles protecting them against other companies using them. However in a world where we’ve seen two different films named Child’s Play three soon to be four named Heat, five named Unstoppable and different popular films use old titles like Twilight, Gladiator and Bad Boys why now do Warner Bros activate this one hundred year old rule.

I Wonder If Marvel Had This Problem?

I Wonder If Marvel Had This Problem?

Well according to Harvey Weinstein it’s a play for rights to The Hobbit. The Weinstein Company own 2.5% of the lucrative Hobbit franchise why not a lot its 2.5% Warner Bros want to have, so it seems they’re using the weight of the MPAA and this law to achieve just that. It would have worked too, if it was anyone other the Harvey Weinstein. Harvey is known to be a real hard person to break, and doesn’t like being bullied. He has his heels firmly planted and won’t be moved on this he’d rather release the film untitled then have to give in to someone. Also he knows how to get free advertisement and knows that nothing sells like controversy so if not changing the name of the film appealing the law turning up on TV show after TV show will advertise the film just as well as running ads, he will take advantage of that and do just that, so ultimately he may have to change the title and while it may cost him loads in advertising costs he will make sure his made that back in free advertising and making sure everyone knows how bad Warner Bros are treating his film, a film about racial class and social politics so even if Warner Bros. win the battle and The Butler changes name, the Weinstein’s will win the war, their film will be talked about, their keep the 2.5% share of The Hobbit and they will come of looking like the good guys.

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Flight of the Navigator: A Review

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Disney’s hidden gem,

In the 1980’s there were a string of E.T clones while on paper the 1986 Flight of the Navigator would seem just another Spielberg inspired cash grab it is much more.

David Freeman (Joey Creamer) has been missing for eight years when he re-appears he hasn’t aged a day and has no memory of where he has been or what has happened to him, in real Spielbergian style he is taken by NASA to be examined. After doctors discover his mind holds blue prints of a spaceship they just found David finds his way on to the ship where he befriends its system MAX who explains he is the reason David has been missing for the last eight years, their adventure begins there and the movie really starts to come in to its own as a kid this movie is the sort of adventure you wish and dream of, and even now this is the section that speaks to me most.

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In typical Disney fashion the dark and disturbing facts, having a child return home after eight years, are kept in the background and David’s adventure takes foreground. But what an adventure it is.  MAX voiced by Paul Rubens in full-blown Pee Wee Herman mode takes David around the globe all while teaching him and the audience alike about time, space and relativity but rest assured the rest of the trip is all about the fun. Surprisingly Joey Creamers performance is something of  a gem itself, most child actors aren’t capable of the performance witnessed here Joey somehow manges to create a grounded performance in what could easily be a corny role.We see David go from young, naive and confused child to wise strong and well-rounded human being. It begs the question what happened to Joey Creamer?

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While at times dated this film is as great as it is under-appreciated and while it might not reach the heights of its Spielberg led cousin E.T it comes pretty close and probably holds the title of the only film in which Sarah Jessica Parker looks beautiful.

Buffy Season One Retrospect

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Over the last few months I’ve been re-watching Buffy for the first time in a long time, so I’ve decided to start a season retrospect for the blog as an ongoing feature where I will review the a whole season Buffy the Vampire Slayer  just after complete watching them . I am already part way into season 3 so today I will just review season one and a later point ill write up season two then from there on these will be written just as I finish the season.  As these are retrospective reviews there may be minor spoilers.

There are a few things you need to know about season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while it’s in no means bad it isn’t the great show it goes on to become, mainly down to the lack of character development and the cheese fest that is created by its monster of the week formula. Right from the start of the season, the main characters are well written formed and superbly acted something of a staple for the season regulars as time goes on, however unlike other seasons very little changes for such characters (Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Angel and Cordelia).

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The main reason for this being the standalone episodes offer little to no room for the characters to grow, something latter seasons achieve outstandingly. The thing with season one is for every good well told, well crafted and rewarding episode like Witch (S01E03) we have a episode like The Puppet Show (S01E09) which has no real message and doesn’t have the trademark Buffy metaphor monster, it seems to exist just as another strange thing to happen at Sunnydale high school this truly is ‘filler’ episode material.  The real problem lays within the ‘big bad’ the Master, he has all the potential to be a great villain but his story doesn’t go anywhere and his followers’ lacks in the depth later Buffy villains have.  It’s pretty obvious the show is just trying to find its feet and all the mistakes in this season helps the show transform and evolve in to something extraordinary this can be evidently seen as the show never quite hits the lows of The Pack (S01E06) and I Robot, You Jane (S01E08) again its not to say these episodes don’t have their charm though they certainly do, even if its just as a strange peephole in to nineties pop culture.

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The great thing about season one is it still has bucket loads of great Buffy moments. The strange thing about re watching season one is noticing how innocent the characters are, they’re seems to be something about knowing what evil and tragic events lay in front of them make you feel for these characters much more. Perhaps it’s their total innocence in these early seasons that make the upcoming events much more heartbreaking. Within the juvenile Scooby Gang you can already hear and feel the Whedon wit. The dialogue is as sharp, witty and quick as ever, it truly is the most memorable aspect of the show and it allows the viewer to experience something that is still rarely seen in film or TV. This combined with the general likeability of all the characters, yes I even like Cordi in season one, makes great enjoyable television.

Season one of Buffy wants to show in typical Buffy metaphor fashion ‘High school is HELL’ it achieves these through many standalone episodes and at the expense of character development of many of its season regular only Buffy and Angel seem to grow in any way, but it’s still highly enjoyable and by the time we reach the final three episodes Nightmares, Out of Mind Out of Sight and Prophecy Girl we have entered a whole new Buffy,the potential in these episodes are high but are just flashes of what’s to come in season two.

Some Things I’ve Done

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Over the last few days I have written about films and the film industry as a whole but today I’m going to upload a couple of films I made myself.

My Friend Michael 

A short fiction film I directed at university, it’s a story of two adolescent boys and how their friendship becomes strained after one boy starts to take a personal joke too seriously.  The film is drama, dark in parts and was shot on location in Torbay Devon.

Blue Days

Is a short documentary I directed about the troubles of my hometown football club Portsmouth FC and how the community that has supported them for many years now has become the last hope to keep the club together, it’s a personal story and one that’s highlights the important link between football and a community. The cinematography was shot be Matt Gillan, the creator of the popular blog  Film Resolution.