The official trailer for my new short film The Lodger is now up on vimeo. The Lodger is my 6th short film; I have 4 more short films planned before tackling the feature, though it is yet to be written! Keep tuned for more exciting film updates!
Highly opinionated and strung on antics, Mark Kermode is my favourite UK film critic.
His arguments on cinema are embracing and highly insightful for any film fan. I am saying this now to share with you his latest blog post: Kermode’s worst five films of the year so far. It is a prime example of how passionate this man is about what gets put on our screens.
Also worth checking out by Mark Kermode are his great books on cinema (“essential reading for movie fanatics”):
– It’s Only a Movie
– The Good the Bad and the Multiplex
– Hatchet Job: Love Movies, Hate Critics (released October 2013)
And of course be sure to check out his energetic BBC Radio 5 live podcasts with Simon Mayo each week.
Who else is a Mark Kermode fan?
A perfect review for the perfect film.
So here is my relatively long list of favourite quotations, though I’m sure there are many great quotes I am yet to discover. I find all these quotes stimulating, thought provoking and most of all inspiring. Many of these are from famous film directors or those involved in the industry. Enjoy the wisdom and please comment below as I’d love to hear your favourites.
“Anybody who comes to the cinema is bringing their whole sexual history, their literary history, their movie literacy, their culture, their language, their religion, whatever they’ve got. I can’t possibly manipulate all of that, nor do I want to.” – David Cronenberg
“Every great film should seem new every time you see it” – Roger Ebert
“All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl” – Jean Luc Goddard
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out” – Alfred Hitchcock
“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” – Walt Disney
“People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end anymore. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” – Steven Spielberg
“A Hunch is Creativity Trying to Tell You Something.” – Frank Capra
“Photography is Truth. The Cinema is Truth Twenty-four Times Per Second.” – Jean-Luc Godard
“I Am Certain There is Too Much Certainty in the World.” – Michael Crichton
“The Only Safe Thing is to Take a Chance.” – Mike Nichols
“Why Pay a Dollar for a Bookmark? Why Not Use the Dollar for a Bookmark?” – Steven Spielberg
“We tend to do period stuff because it helps make it one step removed from boring everyday reality.” – Ethan Coen
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Picasso
“I have always preferred the reflection of the life to life itself.” – Francois Truffaut
“Surrealism had taught me that reason comes after creation, and creation is a true deflagration when confronted, not with a solution, but an obstacle.” – Georges Franju
“For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.” – Alfred Hitchcock
“People say I pay too much attention to the look of a movie but for God’s sake, I’m not producing a Radio 4 Play for Today, I’m making a movie that people are going to look at.” – Ridley Scott
“I cannot just make a film and walk away from it. I need that creative intimacy, and quite frankly, the control to execute my visions, on all my projects.” – Michael Mann
“I’ll rebel against powers and principalities, all the time. Always, I will.” – Paul Thomas Anderson
“I think that the Internet is going to effect the most profound change on the entertainment industries combined. And we’re all gonna be tuning into the most popular Internet show in the world, which will be coming from some place in Des Moines. We’re all gonna lose our jobs. We’re all gonna be on the Internet trying to find an audience.” – Steven Spielberg
“To me, watching a movie is like going to an amusement park. My worst fear is making a film that people don’t think is a good ride.” – Darren Aronofsky
“There’s a certain truth that you do end up making the same film again and again so if you vary the genre you have a chance of breaking that cycle.” – Danny Boyle
“I think audiences get too comfortable and familiar in today’s movies. They believe everything they’re hearing and seeing. I like to shake that up.” – Christopher Nolan
“The audience seems hazy to me, shrouded in a veil through which I can’t see.” – Park Chan-Wook
“I don’t know how much movies should entertain. To me I’m always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about JAWS is that I’ve never gone swimming in the ocean again.” – David Fincher
“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” – Martin Scorsese
“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” – Stanley Kubrick
“I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.” – Quentin Tarantino
“I don’t think about technique. The ideas dictate everything. You have to be true to that or you’re dead.” – David Lynch
Directed by Justin Zackham
Written by Justin Zackham
Produced by Anthony Katagas, Justin Zackham, Clay Pecorin and more.
Production companies: Millenium Films, Two Ton Films.
UK release date: 29th May 2013.
Review may contain spoilers.
Written and directed by Justin Zackham, whose previous works include the platitude Going Greek, my hopes where not frivolous and I knew the likely monotonous treatment I was in for. But the film does embellish pristine production value, costume and set design, and takes advantage of a wondrous location making the film atmospherically pleasing to a contemporary extent. The film relies on sheer entertainment value, which in most parts is fulfilled for the naïve, but not so for the seasoned viewer.
The Big Wedding is not an original film by any means and one can expect a great deal of predictable content to be acted out seamlessly in the mannerisms of a sexual, crude yet simplistic nature. The storyline is endlessly interrupted by crude comedy and awkward moments that it becomes harder and harder to depict an eye on what is exactly happening. The story would therefore seem stronger without Robert de Niro making sexually seductive remarks for over half of his screentime and Ana Ayora looking perpetually like a blazing sex symbol throughout, but rather focusing on the intrinsic relationships of the family and working towards developing a sense of gratitude within the audience. Unfortunately, I spent most of my cinematic experience (or not) gaping at the screen, particularly as de Niro hoists his wife onto a kitchen table top to perform oral sex inadvertently in front of his ex-wife; a highlight of my day nonetheless. Admitted, the film does have its few amiably endearing family moments; the only valid poise I suppose.
If it weren’t for the somewhat stellar cast this film would almost have no attraction to the seasoned viewer whatsoever. Amanda Seyfried may be a great actress with a visually striking presence though she never seems to be cast in noble, ‘worthwhile’ films; perhaps it’s time she looked to a new agent; the recent Gone and Red Riding Hood notably stand by this and The Big Wedding is indeed no exception. Granted her performance in Les Miserables was spectacular; it was a spectacular picture. Here Seyfried plays the timid, irrepressibly in love girl who is about to be wed at the so-called ‘Big Wedding’ but her fiancé’s native Spanish mother casts a problem over the family due to her apparent traditional values which ends up causing greater disputes and apprehensions than at first evident. Yes, that is practically the entire plot.
The wonderful Diane Keaton and eccentric Susan Sarandon play the two mature roles of Ellie and Bebe who are adamant to de Niro’s character Don. This film is a long shot off their best performances but then again it was surely destined to be that way the minute they were handed the script. It rather saddens me to see noted actresses like Keaton and Sarandon being indulged by this contemporary Hollywood ‘refuse’ to star in these ‘garbage’ films after having contributed to the highly respectable and well received films from their era such as The Godfather, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Thelma & Louise and Dead Man Walking to name a few. Where is modern mainstream cinema heading? And why does Hollywood commonly feel as though they need to specifically write roles for the mature in order to establish a notorious cast? In my opinion, it’s because the now elderly actors from the revolutionized Hollywood in the ‘70s and ‘80s were the best Hollywood has ever had, most notably Robert de Niro. Actors like de Niro should either stop acting or go independent to assure they don’t ruin the value of the previous work they are so loved for; I’d undoubtedly rather remember de Niro for Taxi Driver or Raging Bulls than Meet the Fockers! Of course this will never happen.
Ironically the tagline for this film proposes, “It’s never too late to start acting like a family.” This advocates that the audience will perhaps receive marvelous content in which we watch a family embark on a great positively formed relation together, not the case. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the acts in this film don’t fit quite the facets of family ‘norm’. So please don’t take your family to see this film and expect to be pleasantly heartfelt. Instead, cover your children’s eyes two-fold and sigh in chronic dismay. (The Big Wedding is regulated as a 15 certificate, sorry kids!)
Directed by Woody Allen.
Written by Woody Allen.
Produced by Faruk Alatan, Letty Aronson, Giampaolo Letta.
Production companies: Medusa Film, Gravier Productions, Perdido Productions.
UK release date: 14th September 2012.
Review may contain spoilers.
Weird and wonderful; a definitive taste of the inordinate relationship affiliated stories Woody Allen has to offer.
Despite To Rome With Love receiving a majority of negative reviews from the critics, I found that the film has a lot more to offer than may first appear. A conjoint interpretation is that audiences should expect a so-called ‘pay-off’ to the film with a climatic scene, but this just isn’t necessary and quite frankly wouldn’t do the script justice. The audience has already delved into four alternate stories, each quirky and highly fulfilling to tell the least: a working man wakes up to find himself a celebrity, an architect who revisits Rome superficially encounters a relationship comparative to his past, a youthful couple vacate to Rome on their honeymoon and an aggravated opera director uncovers a new talent.
Interpreting Allen’s other work, these stories may seem stale in comparison (Match Point, Midnight In Paris) but they are nonetheless still cunningly plotted and full of surprises. This work is no less intrinsic than the critically acclaimed which came out of notable nouvelle vague (new wave) directors over 40 years ago (Jean-Luc Goddard, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol etc.). In fact, Allen arguably bestows his buoyancy to match the likes of Luis Bunuel and Alain Resnais – key contributors to the movement. For example, in one of the scenes, the Italian father (played by opera singer Fabio Armiliato) shares his undiscovered voice at the opera house after being confronted by Woody Allen’s character Jerry, but comes onto stage in a portable shower as to abide by his convention of only truly being able to do justice whilst singing in the shower. Here, the audience is presented with and rather shocked by a scene of surrealistic entirety, comparable to that of when Bunuel’s characters are eating dinner at the table in The Discreet Charm de Bourgeois and suddenly the curtains open to reveal that they are in fact on stage where a boundless theatrical audience eagerly awaits there non-existent performance. Again, similar themes come to mind in The Phantom of Liberty where Bunuel shows residences of a dinner party sat around the table on lavatories.
Moreover, in To Rome With Love, a character is established wishing to be a more prodigious individual and consequently be glamorous enough to ‘go to bed’ with his work colleague. Instead, he ends up becoming ludicrously famous for no apparent reason; subsequently he’s now able to sleep with this beautiful woman alongside many others! Scenes of a surrealist nature include the man being escorted away to a TV studio and interviewed about his morning procedures. There is no rational explanation for this other than the fact that Allen is displaying his aptitude for avant-gardism, and considering his status as an established auteur of cinema, this is deemed acceptable. It’s my personal opinion, but I love to see this trait in a filmmaker; push the boundaries. Okay, it’s been done before to great extent in the ‘60’s and ‘70s, but cinema repeats itself so why not repeat the latent areas that so often get left behind.
Rome is categorically the city of love and To Rome with Love obtains this concept and enriches it with exquisite elements of story-telling, undeniably not everyone’s understanding, yet the film is entertaining and more importantly, at least for some, culturally embellished.
Directed by Martin McDonagh
Written by Martin McDonagh
Produced by Graham Broadbent, Julia Blackman, Jeff Abberley, Peter Czernin.
Production Companies: Blueprint Pictures, Focus Features, Scion Films.
UK Release Date: 18th April 2008
Review may contain spoilers.
After a countless dosage of the Irish accent, forging comedy and sidesplitting action, Martin McDonagh sheds prosperous delight in his striking debut feature.
After a strand of success writing for theatre (The Pillowman, The Lieutenant of Inishmore), McDonagh forces his revitalizing narratives onto the big screen. Plucking up conundrums similar to the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Guy Richie and Paul Thomas Anderson (to name a few), McDonagh fits perfectly into the aesthetic genre features of playful violence, imprudent yet flawless characterization and somewhat unrewarding narratives. Like Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs, In Bruges electrifies, shocks and disturbs the viewer all at the same time. The dialogue is witty; it’s enthralled with references to society and popular culture giving the characters an essence of purism, and what’s more… everyone simply dies.
Admitted, there are scenes so frivolous that one would question a character’s ability to remain so fruitful in such a situation (the scene between Ray (Colin Farrell) and Harry (Ralph Fiennes) discussing their shootout terms on the stairs of the hotel). But McDonagh endeavors this bridge by keeping his characterization strong and nurtured throughout so that the audience won’t for one minute doubt their capabilities of realism; a Tarantino quality indeed.
Writing from a time when McDonagh’s second feature Seven Psychopaths has already hit the big screens and been received well on most accounts, it is evident that his style is evermore present; taking dives into narrative experimentation and the gangster genre as a whole is not beyond the exuberant boundaries of McDonagh. Similarly his earlier short film, Six Shooter, is enlightening to anyone looking for a tremor but at the same time a somewhat cynical laugh aloud.
I certainly gained a lot photographic knowledge of In Bruges watching this film. The emblematic sightseeing European town is largely symbolic to the film as an entirety. It represents the primary meaning of the plot taking place and stages a great location for cinematographic luxury (indeed taken advantage of by cinematographer Eigil Bryld) as well as being figurative to the solitude of the characters and an abundant subject matter for much of their controversy.
All in all, McDonagh grounds himself as a salient new screenwriter/director – an auteur at that – who will be admired for his originality and palpable flare. Let’s hope he can keep up the good work and gain the contemporary fame in modern cinema he so rightly deserves.
Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Produced by David Hoberman, Ryan Kavanaugh, Todd Lieberman & more.
Production companies: Mandeville Films, Relativity Media, Skyland Entertainment, Virgin Produced.
UK release date: 3rd May 2013
Review may contain spoilers.
But… I actually did enjoy this movie…
It may be full of all the coarse puns as seen across common films like The Hangover and the American Pie films (and hundreds of others we need not mention), yet the arduous fabrication of situations the characters entwine themselves in touch upon elements of cinematic surrealism, or are these just acts of plumb ignorance favoured by writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore – it wouldn’t be surprising considering there previous work: The Change-Up, Four Christmases and The Hangover trilogy). Nevertheless a great directorial debut by the two writers.
I am talking about moments like when Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skyler Astin) – the two main protagonists who spend the night obtusely searching for their privily disconsolate friend Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) – end up being kidnapped by a group of campus Latin girls who, conforming to their masquerade creed, implement an erratic embodiment of sexually filtrated acts on Miller and Casey. It’s not merely the content of this act that sparks oddity but the startling way in which Jerry Fleming and Linda Lee Sutton (production and set design) supposedly conformed to by Jon and Scott or Terry Stacey (DoP), set this scene. It inaugurates a sudden theme of horror, even abhorrence, dependent on the viewer. A dark mood casts over the scene as though an exorcism or tribunal hanging is about to take place. The audience is cast away from a comedic land into what appears to be an absurd underground asylum.
For once, it appears that this film may not be entirely as predictable as once was seemed. The sarcastic ‘I wonder what could happen next?’ category, an all too common feature of American comedy’s and of course the Romantic Comedy genre. I felt my, now clammy, toes tie up to the sole of my foot as I pondered upon what could be the greatest breaking of genre convention in the history of contemporary cinema – even more so than the presence of religious extremists in Kevin Smith’s Red State. But it didn’t happen. The characters weren’t callously confined to death; the state of greatly bestowed horror was immediately dissembled. Instead, they (Miller and Casey) ‘made-out’ as declared and the film moved onto the next scene of uncouth drollery; though satisfying the inane worldwide audience I’m sure. Hollywood’s confinement versus the speculative Independents evident once more – at least 21 & Over exclaims in part to bring back the spec script. The future appears somewhat bright for today’s screenwriters; just don’t write the scene I was hoping for!
But, as I mentioned earlier, my viewing experience was kept alive by this temptation to dwell into the unimaginative. Jon and Scott definitely pushed some boundaries with this production, inevitably shaking the bones of Hollywood execs. You will laugh out loud or at least make some form of verbal communication, perhaps along the lines of ‘what?’, ‘so predictable’, ‘oh dear’, ‘really?’, ‘such an asshole’ etc.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt
Produced by Gerard Butler, Alan Seigel, Mark Gill, Antoine Fuqua & others.
Production Companies: Millenium Films, Nu Image Films, Gerard Butler Alan Seigel Entertainment, West Coast Film Partners.
UK Release Date: 17th April 2013
Review may contain spoilers.
Epic in a purely cinematic sense, treacherous in any other. Packed with headshots and preposterous puns, Olympus has Fallen gives the audience a virus of predictability and ingenuity stardom.
You guessed correct: The Whitehouse is taken over by a group of terrorists, hence the title Olympus has Fallen. Due to this customary act of The Whitehouse ‘falling’ happening within the first half hour of the movie, the audience is left with ninety minutes of unadulterated guns blazing and unadorned acts of terrorism.
I’m not saying there are no good films that fall into this ‘action raging, hostage, thriller genre’, there are. Take, for example, Heat, Leon, Con Air, The Dark Knight, Red State, these are all films I’d happily watch over and over. But there’s far more plot entwined into the above listed films. Subconsciously they have a far greater impact on our emotions and senses, yet more importantly they have great casts or at least a great director behind the picture. Moreover, there should be something consequential to take away from the cinema – a message, a lesson, a thought, some stimuli, a perception– but with Olympus has Fallen there’s nothing to take away from the cinema except maybe an arrogance or self-regard for taste. Arguably, the only experience gained is directly to do with what takes place in the auditorium, and it’s not a valuable one at that. In my mind, a good film, a film worth watching, should only just begin to play on your mind as you leave the cinema.
It’s hard to imagine what more there would have been to the spec screenplay other than “White house gets overthrown by Korean terrorists. President’s previous head of security (arguably responsible for the death of the president’s wife) comes back on duty to infiltrate the Koreans. He succeeds and all seems once more at peace (yet overlooked is a significant death toll and destruction of half of Washington).” Can this writing credit even be counted for writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. This plot could be conjured up by Grandfather thrice removed. However, realising the script certainly will have taken some doing, no doubt a successful collaboration between Antoine Fuqua (director) and Conrad W. Hall (DoP) was in place. Hall has to be credited for his efficient and generally impressive cinematographic work. Great sweeping wide shots and extensive fast-paced tracking shots are in place; though one has to wonder how much of this camerawork is now done through the digital construction of a set in post. It’s a shame Fuqua couldn’t have come back stronger from his exhilarating and Oscar winning work on Training Day. I presume Fuqua will be desperately looking for another collaboration with the screenwriter David Ayer in the future; give him that prodigious spec script he must be searching for, although David Ayer has now established a successful career in directing himself: Harsh Times, Street Kings, End of Watch.
Talent aside, I can’t begin to exclaim how prejudicial this film is to the American ideology. The White House is taken over, its ludicrous, absolute mayhem, America appears doomed. But then, a single man steps up to the challenge (notice a similarity in plot to Die Hard yet?), kills numerous Koreans on his undercover excursion, and saves the nation. The audience is captivated by this heroin figure, put into his shoes i.e. turned into an American hero. They leave the cinema having never felt stronger, feeling powerful enough to conquer the world, or at least enough to feel in control of their own lives. Is this response from the audience a good thing? In the simplest sense, it gives us a boost; it’s idolisation in its purest sense. Yet, it is a supremely false ideology, one that is played upon time and time again by action movies coming straight out of Hollywood and dominating screens worldwide. This film brought in over a million dollars box office in each country as foreign to a Western audience as Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea. American movies account for over 90% of their annual box office. Just imagine how inflamed Asian minds must be with the dogma of our industry. This is no new feat however and has been blithely happening for arguably a whole century. Furthermore, following my punitive notion, the caption on the movie poster reads: “We are never stronger than when we are tested”. Are the Americans trying to summon a terrorist attack?
Despite this blockbuster conundrum, Olympus has Fallen is actually categorised as an independent film; at least Millennium films themselves seem to think so; “Millennium films is one of the longest-running independent film companies in the history of Hollywood.” Yet with a $70 million budget for Olympus has Fallen (yes by no means blockbuster but certainly not independent) and a track record of recent films such as The Expendables 2, The Iceman, Homefront and The Big Wedding (a cumbersome pile of rubbish I have already critiqued) it is hard not to believe that significant amounts of studio funding were involved. Though I am not having a go at Millennium Films, I’m simply saying that they don’t do the ‘real’ independent filmmakers out there much justice with releases like Olympus has Fallen.
All this said, if you love action and headshots then you certainly won’t be let down by this film. If you go to the cinema simply for the two hour-long destruction of sight and sound then this film is precisely for you. I have had enough talking about this film, there is nothing valuable to note, not that this film is even worth anyone’s analysis or interpretation, as there clearly is not a meaningful one to be given – other than rants peripheral to the picture itself!