Spy – Figeish

spyDirector: Paul Feig
Title: Spy
Production: Chernin Entertainment, Feigco Entertainment (US)

Paul Feig certainly deserves respect for his inflated and witty methods of giving the audience plenty of punch, but so much is attempted that I felt I was hardly watching a movie and something more like an explosive stand up routine. It is undeniably funny and it will be received with great pleasure from a wild flock of summer entertainment enthusiasts. The laughs collect in different measures, occasionally the self-aware slapstick will get in the way of the more developed commentaries in pursuit of social puns, and the popular culture in particular is rewarded with heavy dosage. Fits of laughter spewed out across the auditorium make oneself hard of hearing for the actual rebound, but the wicked gasps in response to such images as kitchen knifes cleanly splicing there way through flesh were sufficient enough to boost my audience predilections.

Susan Cooper is everything that a CIA agent shouldn’t be: I don’t need to spell out the long list of adjectives. Therefore, you quickly sense that the film’s objective will be to turn this around and make her kick some serious butt out in the field, instead of being cooped up behind her staunched desk with Miranda Hart. I say Miranda Hart because she sticks out like a snapping branch in the wind, though unfortunately the only miscast in what is a very attributable supporting cast. Jason Statham is uproarious as the trouper agent Rick who is an unconditional fool to believe in his dexterities, but has the warm heart underneath it all to compensate; the soul of a child even. I must note that Carlos Ponce’s character treats Italians so unfavourably and with such misunderstanding that I found it painful to watch: yes, men can lust woman, but seriously?

Thankfully, there are a few surprises along the way, but this is largely due in part to the revelations not making a whole lot of sense. When you whittle it down, the infiltrated domain of this arms dealer has no reason to exist other than to serve the surface proceedings. There is no explanation or commentary here on the severity of such dealings, but no harm done as the film is well to not be interested in such matters. Just try and imagine a logical way to reach a storyline where you become the guardian to your very own rogue. No spoilers here.

There is obvious reason why espionage outings are often given the thriller bonus rather than comedy: I doubt a member of the international intelligence goes about their jobs making a fool of themselves. Of course, this is thoroughly naïve of me, a comedy can come and go as it pleases, particularly one constructed in a spoof factory. Jonny English was novel and every attempt since has been misguided, for starters, why are these films made? An individual being totally inept at their jobs does not enrich comedy; rather it is in the working of normality where we can find the most enriching moments of hilarity. I cannot help in taking a critical standpoint to these films. Comedy is by nature a particular activity that is found in unique sensibilities (it is the delivery of a comedian that lures us), but films like Spy seek to codify conventions and displace the charm that should be associated with comedy.

spy_weaponsTo fully suspend any disbelief with this breed of film requires your inner gremlin to go through some form of cathartic release. It means embracing the consistent malfunction of life on the screen and converting it into hollow hedonisms. In other words, aim to let the thought “this is just ridiculous” rest in the back of your mind and bury it there for the duration of a spectacle that successfully completes a full-scale turnaround of glees. The film does have intelligence and it could easily be ten times worse, but can’t anything be so?

Now that the honest niggles are out of the way, I can say that Spy was a good film. 3/5


Sex Tape – Laughable Crap!

1138130 - SEX TAPESex Tape (US/2014)

UK Release by Columbia Pictures – 3rd September 2014

Directed by Jake Kasdan 

Whilst you may be having a fit about how bad this movie is, I ask you to look beyond how it appears and laugh at the satire it presents of the age we live in. Indeed, the plain fact that a film has been made about a couple that looses their sex tape in the cloud is laughable, but oddly peculiar and admirable. It is a simple concept that screams bad movie, but the film is relevant, somewhat bizarre and an awakening of how online (or should I say Apple driven) our society is; yes, beware it is a cosmic scale ad for Apple.

Each character is foolishly pleasant. Annie couldn’t be played by anyone other than Cameron Diaz (or the film would make zilch) and Jason Segel who is squeamishly admirable plays her husband, Jay. Annie’s boss Hank (Rob Lowe) is entertaining as a middle-aged CEO desperate for a line of cocaine once the family are out and with an ego great enough to forge his appearance onto iconic works of art hanging up in the home. Annie and Jay’s best friends, Robby and his wife Tess (Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper) are simply just desperate to get hold of the sex tape and indulge in the fantasy themselves. This is cringe warfare, but if you let your hair down it can at times be raucous laughs, especially when things turn bonkers at Hank’s house in search for the tape. However, there are moments that could have been more intriguing and it is arguably a weak effort from a strong writing team of Kate Angelo, Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller.

It is clear that Jay is a character that is still tongue-in-cheek about the fact that he ever scored with Annie and, consequently, it is amusing watching him lust over her and become frustrated at managing the relationship. In fact, the chemistry between Annie and Jay is the best thing this movie has going for it, they are actually relatable in their playful manner, even when they act like children. I am assuming that we have all acted childish with our partner once in a while? Anyway, if you want to watch what is essentially laughable crap with your partner, this is it!

Side note: if you are wondering what nudity is on show here, the movie shouldn’t disappoint!

2.5/5 stars



A Discussion of Film Technique


The early filmmakers and film theorists (many of whom were both) discovered the fundamental techniques of film and hence called for the appreciation of the medium as an art form. Soviet filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin discovered the turbulent effects of montage, commonly referred to today as simply the process of editing: the stitching together of a series of shots to form a linear (or non-linear) narrative. [i] With montage, the filmmaker is able to transcend the space and time of a narrative; something that had never been done before cinema and that is taken for granted today. However, montage means far more than merely putting the constructs of a film together and as the masters of cinema have discovered, it is fundamental to their unique expression and intrinsic to ensuing direct control over audience reactions and behaviours.[ii]

The filmmakers in Hollywood began utilising tools of the camera and montage to a classical effect (angles, movements, continuity editing etc.) that reached pitch perfect by the 1940s (or more specifically, 1939, the year commonly referred to as the golden year for film). They used several camera angles to create compositions of varying meaning and perception that allowed greater control over the process and the editor to become the key manipulator of the unfolding story. For example, an editor chooses the exact frame on which to cut the characters action with a reaction (the cause-effect approach); whether dialogue or an action sequence. This formula of Hollywood film technique was flawless; it is the framework for approaching a classical narrative and classical cinema would know no different.


However, a couple of years later emerged further pioneering filmmakers introducing techniques to Hollywood that laid bare the current rhythmic montage and presented alternate methods. For example, the deep focus shots of panoramic views that allowed for far more effective shot sequences, like introducing a close-up parallel to a master-shot. Orson Welles and William Wyler are forerunners of such movements and throughout the 1940s and 1950s the auteur in film developed as the director implemented a greater and more vigorous understanding and control of their style. For example, in Citizen Kane, Welles uses single shots with a deep focus to cover entire scenes and, thus, carefully lets the audience pick out specific points of detail. Welles had full control to use a close-up or alternating shot to devastating effect simply because he savoured such tools at his disposal (of course, before sound, long takes were common, but scenes remained primitive and classical technique was only in its prospective development).

From the 1960s, film technique (or rather exploration of) explodes and is sewn together by innovative filmmakers from across the globe with an eye to pitch their new wave of style.[iii] It is clear, however, that the foundations of film technique and even experimental forms, were all manifest and in practice from the classical era of filmmaking. Exploitation films and progressive/subversive genres simply got buried beneath the mount of classical cinema until the disintegration of the studio system in 1948 (Paramount Case[iv]). B-movies started getting more attention and filmmakers plunged into the deep waters of making films on shoestring-budgets. However, really one needn’t look no further at the vast world of cinema, which today rehashes and replicates all that has come before (albeit with particular visions), than the pioneers and masters of early and classical cinema, if one wishes to gain a fully comprehensive understanding of film and technique.


I want to briefly discuss the film technique of Alfred Hitchcock (he is always a good place to start), a filmmaker who utilised just about every technique the cinema has to offer within his tales of deceit and murder. From revealing pans in trembling close-ups to harsh low-angles of towering objects and from suspenseful montage (and direction) to layers of allegoric meaning, he has carved a succinct and colossal discourse of film techniques.[v]

How is suspense created? We have all heard of Hitchcock’s label “The Master of Suspense” and whilst he did continually make thrillers, they didn’t necessarily have to have the same degree of suspense – this is the touch of Hitchcock, if you like. The basic indicator of suspense is revealing the horror before the subject (or in terms of dramatic construction – dramatic irony). For example, in Psycho the audience sees the shadow of the killer as he raises the knife behind the shower curtain before our heroine, who witnesses the latters brutal attack. Yet, Hitchcock has a certain aura (or added layer) of creating such suspense and this is accomplished by his specific use of film technique. Suspense is a narrative technique, like mystery (the reversal of suspense) or surprise (the coinciding revealing of an event), and whilst narrative technique and film technique are inextricable (one can’t exist without the other; just as to film something you have to apply a film technique – the cameras viewpoint), Hitchcock enriches, upholds and resolves the former technique with the latter.


The camera lingers in the shower with our heroine, immediately shadowing the heroine’s narrow field of vision. Amidst this field, Hitchcock moves his camera above the subject (she is nothing but an ant about to be stamped on) and across the axis (the 180 line: a relatively strict rule cinematographers abide by in order to keep the audience in line) to reveal all sides of our victim; she is weak and so are we. Hitchcock has offset the audience by his sequence and it is then that the killer is revealed in the shadows. Hitchcock has built up the suspense, in effect, before he has applied it. Whilst, you could rightly label narrative techniques under the heading of film techniques, in my analysis I am aiming to refer specifically to technical devices; the camera and the editing; the two vital and expedient processes of cinema.

Film technique is arguably more powerful than any story and plot structure, as it gives you infinite control over what the audience sees and how and when they see it. You cannot scatter a narrative and execute it to the same effect (Tarantino explores with the limitations of this effect notably in Pulp Fiction); scenes must retain a reasonably substantial order; each must punch into the next. However, a choice of film technique is immeasurable and impossible to avoid; it is what nurtures a filmmaker’s vision. The filmmaker can represent the subject however they please within the wondrous three-dimensional space that is offered to them. Beginning a scene in a close-up or a wide shot is the filmmakers choice, the narrative, or rather the plot, remains fundamentally the same, but the filmmaker can alter the audience’s reception to the narrative with film technique. Such is the power and the language of the cinema. It is not just shot composition, but the sequence of editing the shot compositions together that the filmmaker should adore. A close-up may be repeated, or only used for one second instead of four, as intended; all processes change the expression of the filmmaker and his judgement of the narrative. Indeed, a daunting process for the filmmaker is working out how to cover a scene, by cover I mean what shots they will use, and how they will stage and block the scene. Of course, there is nothing more exciting than this exposition, it is discovering the inner fibres of your film and it is also discovering the fibres of yourself, the filmmaker.

You will hear, “script is king”. Well, the filmmaker (film director) is “king” and queen. He is the sense and sensibility of the script and the pioneer of its land. Of course, you must have a great script, and a great filmmaker can make a great script great, but a great script on the shelf is not a great film, it is nobody. A great filmmaker would be silly to direct a script that wasn’t great (or at least that he/she thought wasn’t great) and therefore this discussion of script (or screenwriting) is vain to an analysis of film technique; we can assume the material that a filmmaker has chosen to work with is good.


I don’t wish to dismiss contemporary pioneers of film technique. Wes Anderson is a prime suspect of innovation and flair in filmmaking. Metaphorically, he creates a symmetrical box in which to frame his action that can move up, down, left, right, or in and out. Occasionally, the camera jumps to the far side of the box or sits on the roof, but it never breaks this manner of primitive and proportioned framing. Whist this is innovative, it is no more than a fresh refurbishment of film techniques; the director has utilised the techniques of the camera and staging to create his own style within his canvas, as should any great film director (or artist, in relation to their canvas). I will further define how I am using the term film technique (it often gets used as common excuse for anything film production), the technique is the central grouping of film compositions (shots), montage (edits) and sequences (scenes); techniques that have phenomenal undergrowth of exploration and which belong exclusively to the cinema.

These cannot be changed, the close-up shot will always be the close-up shot, but it is how the filmmaker uses it that I am concerned with. This draws on a fundamental principle of the cinematic language, it shows and then it tells; and film directors have often stressed the importance on how you show it that matters (this is characteristic to the subsequent telling). No contemporary filmmaker is able to pioneer, for example, the close-up shot (I believe first used by Georges Melies of the moon in Le Voyage dans la lune (1902)), but they can structure it effectively within a sequence that makes it innovative and appear utterly fresh and convincing, but it will be innovative only to that filmmaker’s style. In other words, technique, at its innermost core, is never new, but if it is utilised by a master, it can appear as such.

A reductive approach could argue that all film technique is drawn from the other arts, at the core of its invention, the seventh art is photographic, steals a generous palette from painting and it pinches the actor from the theatre. Of course, this can be ridiculed by modernistic approaches to film; the illusion of the moving image itself as a new phenomenon provides generous possibilities for techniques to evolve. The surrealists had an art form that is able to uncannily blend fantastical elements with the real; painting could never achieve the same impact. The close-up first appeared in painting, but the close-up in film will have an entirely different effect. Distinguishable meanings and implications are, of course, the beauty of each individual art form; and meaning in the cinema continues to blossom at the cutting-edge.


Lets not forget that film has been praised and simultaneously impugned for its tendency to merge multiple arts under one umbrella, but this is why the medium is home to some of the greatest artistic geniuses. Why did Woody Allen start making films? He could express his artistic values: his favourite music (Jazz), comedy (his own stand up and Mel Brooks), art, sculpture, photography (The Museum of Modern Art) literature (The Catcher in The Rye), theatre (Broadway), architecture (New York) and films (from Bergman to Bunuel) under one canvas. Indeed, as a true auteur of his craft, it also allowed him to express layers of meaning from his own life and concurrent philosophical insights – death, religion, moral relativity etc. – and appropriately (and with great talent) digest those interests via the language and technique of film.

I want to end this discussion by saying that if film technique is used correctly, if it connects with the concurrent meaning and implication of the subject, then it will create good and stimulating cinema. If it is masterfully constructed, if it connects with every sequence, act, and the entire story while adding an ambiguous but concise layer of allegory, then it almost becomes magic and is certainly categorised as great cinema. If you witness a masterpiece, it is because the magic of the film technique (there are other factors of course, you need a great story, but as mentioned earlier, a bad film director – a filmmaker who hasn’t mastered the language and his technique – won’t make a good film) used by the filmmaker seamlessly catches your tongue and sews you to the story, layer by layer, so you can only succumb to praise of what is an impeccable execution of the form. A separate discussion is raised, an audience’s varying interpretation of film technique (though this should be at the unconscious level – a filmmakers technique should pass the spectators eye integrally, or, in fact, unnoticed – at least this is the case for typical audiences). Let’s conclude that if the filmmaker has executed his technique how he wished (and he is closest to the material) then it will be so purely inscribed that even if you (as a viewer) don’t connect with the filmmakers intentions it will otherwise have an equivalent effect (possibly at the unconscious level) in an equal and opposite direction.


To be continued…



[i]For a discussion on the three pioneering techniques of Soviet montage and related topics see Eisenstein Film Form and/or The Film Sense.

[ii]For a great book on film editing, see Walter Murch’s In The Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing.

[iii]See Peter Cowie Revolution!: Explosion of World Cinema in the Sixties for an insightful introduction to world cinema and disparate styles of filmmaking.

[iv]For a discussion surrounding the studio systems collapse and the battle between the competing world industries (specifically Europe and America) see David Puttnam’s The Undeclared War: Struggle for Control of the World’s Film Industry.

[v] If you are interested in Hitchcock then there are plenty of great books to discover more about his technique and style. Here are a couple of my favourites: Hitchcock: Centenary Essays edited by Richard Allen S. Ishii Gonzales and Hitchcock: A Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut.


The Death of the Audience


We are all succumbed to advertisements and various images on a daily basis: on the bus, on the walk to town, on our computers and even in our mail. It has become so commonplace that we now fail to see it. Images are for the best part, totally ignored. I don’t blame us. But, what does this mean for cinema? My primary focus here is audience attention spans getting lost and the proliferation of online media becoming so vast that we can’t watch anything anymore.

Lets begin with a theory that if there is so much content to choose from and it is so readily available then how does one manage it? It becomes less valuable, less important and ultimately loses meaning. This is the nature of human interaction. We become accustomed to things, we need more or we need a higher dosage, but when this becomes to high it causes all sorts of problems and we don’t know where to begin. Is this happening to the film audience?

I am certainly spoiled for choice when I go online and search for a movie. Yet, I will still pick whatever grabs my attention first. There will be thousands of other films, independent and foreign, that exists online, but they may never make it to the limelight. If this film doesn’t grab my attention, I may begin another, and another, this brings a whole new dimension to the experience of film watching. The audience can actively engage with the films they seek, they can slice them up and choose exactly what they want. There is no need to fully engage with one piece of material when thousands attempt to surround it and move in front of it. Online media gives the audience a reason to loose attention; we have other options.

One used to sit down to watch a film and be entirely devoted to that picture for the next 2 hours or so. There is no way out, there is only the way in, into the movie. I speak for the mass audience here, people who are intrinsic about film and the filmmakers will of course still shut themselves out and focus on the picture. But even cinephiles attention spans will have been numbed by the invasion of our digital world. It is inescapable, unless you lock yourself in a basement without a mobile.

Obviously, exhibition plays a big part in this. Thank goodness the cinema is still there. It is the one place that we can become totally immersed, or is it? Have a read of Mark Kermode’s The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex. It will highlight how cinemas are still places of distraction; the popcorn munchers and whisperers will certainly get your blood boiling. Home cinema systems attempt to offer a similar experience, perhaps an even more immersive one, in the light of your own home. That is until the landline goes off or your wife gets up to have another glass of wine. Or, on the verge of abiding boredom, you may have an earnest painting hanging on your wall that becomes far more appealing than the slew of images on your TV set.

I can certainly speak of personal experience over audience disruption. I love to watch films with my girlfriend and share our journey, but this journey is inhibited by mobile phones and iPads. If she loses attention for less than five minutes, she will be on her iPad checking emails or playing with her various apps. The patience of modern audiences is a contributing factor to the decline in attention spans. Modern audiences simply aren’t patient enough to realize the full potential of a film; most of us need guns and explosives to keep us going (the lady needs kisses and clichés). Our lives are active with images, media, work, family and whatever else, and to sit down in front of a screen for two hours can, at times, be extremely agitating.

The instant connectivity of our networked world has undoubtedly caused humans to be less patient. I will curse if I can’t connect to the Internet or if a web page won’t load in under five seconds. We expect instant connectivity, and the result is a higher expectance of entertainment, entertainment that needs to instantly grab our attention. I love to see a filmmaker use a shot over a minute long, it is there for a virtuous reason, though I can be sure that the eye of a modern audience would start to waver until being reawakened by a fresh cut. The movies, over the years and in most cases, have become faster and faster (narratively and technically), it is no wonder then that when a modern audience watches an old film they begin to coil at the edges.

Earlier, I made the anomalous comment that we can’t watch anything more. Focus on the watching aspect; are we really watching, or are we simply receiving images? We are faced with pictures moving at 24 frames per second, a common occurrence, but when do we really watch the image, scan it from right to left, top to bottom? Arguably, there isn’t the chance (and this is the filmmakers magic), but our mind can reflect on the entirety of moving images if we really focus it. For most people, the story remains at the centre of the frame, their eyes are followed by the technique of the filmmaker, yet what if they ruled against convention, and looked beyond the image. The filmmaker is confined to a rectangular frame in which to show his world of reality, but the audience isn’t confined to believe merely within this boundary.  This would truly be seeing, there has to be an element of imagination to fulfill our sight.

This way of watching is to be wholly engagement, interactive and imaginative by way of sight. The filmmaker is inviting you to explore their world, don’t be limited by the lens. Different filmmakers, of course, have different demands for their audience, but the best directors always lure you in and invite you beyond. This is my argument for film watching in our age, it is inextricably linked with the distractions of constant connectivity, expectancy, patience and proliferation of imagery.


Get to know Mark Travis


Mark Travis is a consultant and expert on the art and craft of film directing. He is also a very friendly guy who one can easily get in touch with to ask for advice etc. After reading his internationally acclaimed book Directing Feature Films, I felt obliged to get in touch with Mark and express my enthusiasm for his work. Mark got back to me 10 minutes later with his thanks and a mark of confidence and good luck.

So, if you are starting out – like myself – or a crafted expert, then either way you should head over to Michael Wiese Productions and check out his brilliant book. In this blog post I want to note a few effective and basic methods that Mark mentions in his book and shed some light.

Firstly, Mark talks in great depth about character and how one needs to dig deep below the surface in order to reveal the truth. It comes down to genuine human emotions and behavior when looking for that believable performance, or “magical” performance as Mark likes to say. In the book, Mark suggests a few fundamental ways to achieve this as well as some new and alternative approaches. I found the emotional graphs and obstacle charts that Mark draws particularly insightful.


Above, I have included the emotional graphs of two characters in a short film I am directing at the moment. The emotional graph allows me to see where the characters reactions/shifts in emotion are taking place from good to bad. I have labeled the graph by the chronology of scenes in which they appear. From this I can get a true representation of the characters arc and how they should respond by changes in their behavior. Of course, these graphs are highly susceptible to the interpretation of a character and the various other obstacles they may be facing through staging and their environment etc. But, from a director’s point of view, it appears invaluable to guiding the actor through various obstacles and hidden anxieties. Once you understand this, you can break the ‘rules’ and shift the characters obstacles slightly to get a different emotion and performance that works best.

Another area that draws similar results is recognizing the characters ‘Gap’ – the difference between their expectations versus the reality. How a character responds to this can determine their true nature – it could be aggressively, progressively, confidently, arrogantly, wisely, sadly etc. etc. Mark explains this in greater depth in his book and also provides examples of graphs you can draw to configure your characters ‘Gap’.

Moving on from character analysis, Mark takes the reader from assembling the creative team to the final mix in postproduction. He always evaluates the areas from an approach of the director and gives valuable examples of all the hidden tasks he and his fellow filmmakers have undergone in the past. It is hard to find an angle that Mark doesn’t cover. Though, I am sure this opinion of mine will change when/if I get the opportunity to direct a feature a film. I will end up writing to Mark saying, “You didn’t warn me of this, or that, or this! Etc.” Though he does say something along the lines of “be ready for the unexpected!”

One of my favourite things in the book about production (I hope I don’t get in trouble for attempting to quote the book too much!) is that one should think of the camera as a character and the director should play that character. This character will eventually become the audience. Having a reason behind every angle or move you make this character (the camera) do is essential; the reason should link nicely back into the arc of your story. A cinematographer knows all this and depending on your specific collaboration he may push your reasoning or he may have a stack of his own. I think a great cinematographer should bring his or her own ideas and challenge yours respectively, but inevitably encourage whatever you – the director – decide to do.

(You – the reader – probably already realise this, but the idea of this blog post – and the rest – is not for me to teach you, rather I just to want share my opinions (small or tall, fresh or naive) and hopefully you will put a comment in the box below!)

On the other front, is working with actors and Mark has plenty of answers (Also, I promise this post isn’t a Michael Weise ad). I will let you discover these notes for yourself, but it goes without saying that ‘result direction’ is also frowned upon here. However, I must say, Mark does provide a noteworthy reason for times when it can be necessary and valuable to throw commands at your actors.  One thing that he does hammer home is the priority of character intention and function over anything else, including the written word. This intention and function is established via character objectives (intention) and behaviors (function). So, by looking at this, to change the outcome of a character-driven scene, simply change their objectives and behaviors – it is pretty simple really.

So, there were a few things that stood out to me from the book; there are 395 pages more of it!

Find Mark on his website here.

I won’t attach a link to buy the book because as I mentioned  – this is writing from the heart, not the bank!


Oldboy Reboot – Booted off the tracks



Oldboy (2003)
40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, OB Prod, Vertigo Ent, US
104 Mins
UK Release: 6th December, 2013

DIR Spike Lee
EXEC Nathan Kahane, Kim Dong-joo, John Powers Middleton, Peter Schlessel
PROD Doug Davison, Roy Lee, Spike Lee
SCR Mark Protosevich, Garon Tsuchiya, Nobuaki Minegishi
DP Sean Bobbitt
CAST Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson

Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy is a cult classic that navigated the globe after it was picked up by Tartans home video distribution label, Asia Extreme. It created a surge of other South Korean and Asian titles to be sought out and appreciated by Western audiences. It indulged ‘fanboys’ to traverse the Asian market and become further engrossed in the movies abilities to shock audiences. Why was Oldboy so enthralling? Because it’s a badass movie (as Quentin Tarantino would say), and because it is a masterpiece that is interminable. I think you can see where my approach to this review is heading; I’m just building up some steam. A masterpiece of great fixation shouldn’t and can’t be remade. I will try and approach this review as if it weren’t a remake, a grave challenge indeed. However, otherwise my review would simply read: an utter waste of everyone’s time, go and watch the original or get some sleep. 1 star.

Some critics have taken mixed approaches to the film however, though most say “it’s got no kick to it” (Peter Travers), “it’s just drab” (Michael Phillips), which is the common consensus that I can very much agree to, if we compare it with the original. However, critics like Bruce Ingram for the Sun-Times call the film a “vengeful, respectable homage to a cult favourite.” Ingram then talks through the story in a step-by-step review for people who have most likely never seen the film before; he makes no reference to the original in doing so. So, are we sure it’s respectful Bruce? Lying somewhere in between but just under the surface, I can appreciate the effort: the impressively groomed performance by Josh Brolin in the lead and Lee’s creative homage to various scenes, such as the hallway fight scene, the cctv operator torture scene and the passionate love-making scene (though, the fight choreography and suspense was laughable in comparison).

The overall twist of Oldboy is there; in fact it is made slightly more complex than it should be thanks to screenwriter Mark Protosevich trying to be too clever. It doesn’t hit you as hard as it does with Chan-wook’s. The timing of events is all off and some of it superfluous, which offsets the entire themes of misfortune and revenge at play, which are so essential to the film. If I hadn’t seen the original, my mind would be all over the place, the new script crams a fresh backstory and key plot signifiers into one solo act. Then it’s all over. This reminds me, the film felt extended (never a good sign), as if I was sat there for over three hours. Yet, to my surprise, the film was only 100 minutes long. It’s a mystery as to how Lee crammed all that rustle and hustle into under two hours (the length of the original). I didn’t realize I was that disconnected, what a drag.

The film will have some appeals for mainstream audiences however, with Samuel L. Jackson putting in a “mother-fucker” line here and there and the newly acclaimed young actress Elizabeth Olson looking delightful. Of course, the crime, the violence, the action, the muscle man and the emotional pain will always satisfy ‘fan-boy’ audiences and those seeking a bit more from their cinema outing. Lets not forget, that despite its baloney, this film is a big achievement for Hollywood. They are letting loose and firing an ostentatious canon cross the world, at least it is opening more eyes to national cinema cultures. Two of my friends are now seeking out the original because they liked the movie, bravo.

Spike Lee is an artist of variation, a stylistic dicer, a respectable director. But, this film needs Park Chan-wook at the helm. Park’s demanding, rigorous and intensely prim visual style simply can’t be matched.

2 stars.

Watch the trailer below:


The Limelight Index: Michael Knowles – Actor/Writer/Director/Producer


Above is filmmaker Michael Knowles best known for his film The Trouble with Bliss starring Michael C. Hall, Brie Larson and Peter Fonda. I got the chance to talk to Michael about how he got started with filmmaking, his vision as a filmmaker and ultimately why he loves making movies! It was an absolute pleasure and he gave lots of noteworthy expertise about the film industry and even some thought on life in general.

Hi Michael, when did you get into filmmaking and where does the passion stem from?

It started out for me as an actor. I did the senior play in my high school, Our Town, and absolutely loved it. I think it was the fact that everybody paid attention to me, when it was my turn to say my lines, everybody had to listen. It was an awesome feeling. From there, my passion gradually morphed into realizing I had the ability to express what was going on inside of me through characters; the character I was playing. I found this to be incredibly freeing and liberating, which, in turn, led to me writing. I enjoyed writing about what I was feeling and trying to get that out through the characters and story. This then led on to directing, it just all made sense.

So, it’s really about falling in love with telling stories?

Exactly, that is what ultimately came clear to me. However, it did take a while to realize what I was doing and why the hell I was doing it, but I finally realized that I just love sharing stories. It allowed me to express how I feel about things.


Your films are very much about human relationships, are they personal to you?

Yes, my scripts are very personal and ultimately a lot about relationships. A lot about the relationship we have with ourselves. This is evident in my new film Old Friends/New Beginnings. It’s also about your relationship to a significant other, and then the relationship between you and society. So, my filmmaking is a lot about relationships and communication.

Could you tell me some more about your new film Old Friends/New Beginnings?

Yeah, so it’s coming along really well. I couldn’t be happier. We made this movie for very little money; it was shot on a micro-budget. I wrote the first draft of the script back in 2005 when I was studying screenwriting. My writing teacher always encouraged us to write about what we were afraid of and one of my biggest fears was about being lazy. So, I wrote about what it would be like if I become lazy, and this is the character I play in the movie: David. Because of his financial situation, David has lost his ambition and passion to create, which ends up affecting his marriage. His wife Julie, feeling undesired, invites an old friend and his new girlfriend to spend the weekend with her and David to hopefully stir things up but she never could have expected what happens over one long weekend.

catherine&david - jpeg

You worked with a small crew on this project. Do you feel that working in a small crew allows everyone to more clearly express the same vision?

Definitely. I really enjoy working with a small crew, which I did on my first movie, Room 314. The second movie, One Night, got a little bigger and the third, The Trouble With Bliss, even more so. But, with this movie I’ve gone back to the stripped down model, and I love it. You know where you are with everybody, there isn’t a chain of command where you have to wait five minutes to hear back from the person you need to actually get something done from. I love that intimate feeling on a small set, it’s cozy and warm and you feel as though everyone is really in it together. We’re all there for the same reason.

How do you manage all your roles; you work as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editor?

It’s hard work but I love having the knowledge in everything. It informs me on all the other aspects I do. So, editing has helped me to become a better writer, a more efficient writer, and directing has helped me to become a better actor and visa versa. It all feeds into one another and informs the storytelling process. It helps me to understand, just keep it simple.

Producing for me was something that was necessary to get things done – it just made sense. If I needed something done I could do it myself or try and convince somebody else to do it for me, it was easier to do it myself.


Which filmmakers and films influence your work?

There are so many films out there, but I ultimately just love all movies and actors. Just watching great performances mostly inspires me; for example, Daniel Day Lewis I could watch all day and this motivates me as a storyteller. He makes me want to write better just so I could work with him one day. Woody Allen’s stuff is great and he is obviously a big influence. I find his work hilarious as well as dramatic.

As directors, I also love Sydney Pollack, Robert Altman. Their the kind of directors who work with ensemble type casts, who work on character driven pieces, I love those type of directors. For example, I love the fact that Steven Soderbergh can do so many different things.

Do you feel a director who tries out different genres is more masterful than a director who just hones in on one genre?

I don’t think about this too much, I don’t really care who is a master. I feel like Ang Lee is amazing that he can do so many different styles, but if you look at his stories there is still a similar theme. I love that he can tell the stories he is telling in all these different ways. I would find it to be a little bit boring if a director continued to do the same genre over and over. I don’t know how anyone would want to do that.


Does anything inspire you outside of filmmaking; you’re also a martial artist?

Oh yeah this inspires me big time. It’s a huge influence. Martial arts is everything to me. First off, martial arts introduced me to meditation, which helps me tremendously to get focused and grounded, which ultimately helps me to see things clearly. Another important thing I learnt is about the exchange of energy that happens between people. Just like with characters in a movie. For example, the way that two characters wrestle, I apply this the same as when martial artists freestyle, it’s the same as signing a contract, it is ultimately about dominance and submission. We see this in real life all the time. Martial arts have helped me to see this clearly and have no doubt been a big influence on how I see the world.

What marital art is it you practice?

It’s called Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, it’s a traditional Korean karate.

Is it similar to Hapkido and Taekwondo?

There are things in those martial arts that have similar moves to Soo Bahk Do. But, just to be clear, why I do martial arts is to find inner peace. This is why I want to tell stores, I want to help more people find inner peace.

And this is your vision as a director?

Absolutely one hundred percent. I want people to feel something and know that there are other people who feel the same thing, which gives a bit of peace knowing they are not alone. If you watch my movies, you will see that I try to remove all judgment, I don’t try and say what is right or wrong, or who is good or bad. I’m trying to tell stories and trying to help people understand that we are all doing what were doing because it is ultimately what we thinks best. I don’t judge any of my characters.

 julie - jpeg

Do you have any advice for young filmmakers starting out in the industry?

The things that I’m reminded of all the time, is to keep trusting myself. So, I would say to anyone who is up and coming to just keep trusting that gut feeling you have. No matter what anyone says to you, if your gut is telling you to go left, then go left. Even if at that time it seems wrong, just go with your gut feeling and see where it takes you. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned.

Also, for the most part, no one is going to do it for you, you’ll have to do everything for yourself. You are your biggest cheerleader, don’t wait for other people. However, if someone comes along and helps you, fantastic, thank them and thank them again. But, you will eventually have to keep pushing in and doing a lot of stuff that other people don’t want to do until your famous, and then everyone will be your best friend!

So, ultimately it’s a case of just getting out there and doing it?

Yeah, just start making movies. Don’t wait.

It’s been great talking to you, thanks Michael.

My pleasure!

Support the Kickstarter campaign here.

Find the film on Facebook.

Michael’s Website.


The Limelight Index: Jim Ojala – Writer/Director/FX Artist


After searching around for interesting projects on Kickstarter, I recently came across Jim Ojala who is making his debut feature film, Strange Nature, behind the director’s wheel. However, he has vast credits of work in the industry and it was an absolute pleasure to catch up with him about his filmmaking career, special effects, the industry and the state of crowdfunding.

When did you first get interested in filmmaking?

I’ve been a fan of movies since I was a child. I was kind of a loner kid, so film acted as an outlet for me. After graduating from high school, I started experimenting with cameras and took a course at the local public access station. Once I realized that you could put whatever you create uncensored on the air, my friends and I start developing a show. That show was called My Three Scums, a horror/comedy about a family of misfits and monsters that try to get by in (and get back at) society. Sort of Munsters on crack!  Seeing the reaction (both very good and very bad) from the public told me that this is what I need to do. Episodes played in a couple different festivals also. When a film of yours plays for an audience of strangers and they love it… there’s no better feeling in the world. That show got me a crack at working with Troma, which launched my career.

Who are your influences in the industry?

Taxi Driver is my all time favorite film, so early Scorsese is a pretty big influence. Kubrick of course. Some of the lesser known influences are directors like Lloyd Kaufman, which is why working with him on Citizen Toxie was such a mind blowing deal for me at the time. Buddy Giovinazzo is another one. His gritty film, Combat Shock still blows my mind and somehow that guy still has not received his due. Someone who I just discovered over the last few years is Alejandro Jodorowsky. His films are so unique, beautiful and disturbing all at the same time. I really love how his films can be shocking without being mean spirited… in fact they are uplifting. I’m also a really big fan of Romero’s earlier films. Martin is such an honest, scary and heart breaking film, it’s such a shame more people haven’t seen it.


What attracted you about specializing in FX make-up?

I had already done some experimenting with makeup FX as a kid and on My Three Scums. Every horror movie kid in the 80’s/90’s had either a book or VHS of Tom Savini’s horror FX makeup. On my second day interning for Troma on Citizen Toxie they said there was an opening in the Makeup FX dept. I jumped at the chance! Tim Considine of Direct FX took me under his wing and taught me the basics and I eagerly picked it up quickly and worked my ass off, many times averaging 20 hour work days. By the end of the film, Tim offered me a full time assisting position. I loved working on practical makeup/creature FX, so I thought that would be a great niche to be in while I pursued my filmmaking career.

You got to work with experimental film director Mike Kuchar. Did this open you up to new ways of thinking about the medium?

Mike was awesome. He was teaching at Millennium Film Workshop in Manhattan where I took a course. Mike actually taught me how to shoot on 16mm film. Mike didn’t seem to have any interest in the business side of it… he and his brother are pure filmmakers making films simply because they love to. He reminded me that it’s okay to film something simply because you find it interesting.

What made you finally decide on the move to Hollywood in 2001?

I had a really good run in New York getting to work on Saturday Night Live, Broadway shows and even with horror film auteur Larry Fessenden on his film Wendigo. However, after 9/11, everything stopped. I couldn’t even get a temporary job. It was a really bad scene. I had run out of money and was getting desperate. My girlfriend and I decided to visit friends in Los Angeles for a week and see what it was like. Lloyd Kaufman referred me to Rob Hall at Almost Human FX. I visited them while in LA and Rob had just got the TV show, Angel, he hired me on the spot. I stayed and worked whilst my girlfriend went back to New York to pack up our life there and move out to LA.

You set up your film production company Ojala films in 2005, what is your direction for the business?

My direction is to keep it half film production and half makeup/creature FX with a digital FX person as well.  I’ve directed several shorts and music videos and now it’s time for my first feature, Strange Nature. The film will hopefully lead to more features, which we will create all the FX for in-house.


Your debut feature film Strange Nature is currently in production. Tell us more about this project.

In 1995 news of deformed frog outbreaks started being reported in my home state of Minnesota. The deformities were hideous; extra misshapen limbs, missing limbs, misplaced eyes, etc. It was something in the water but no definite cause was found.

When it came time to make my first feature film I looked into those cases again as it is a great catalyst for a story. I was shocked to find that to this day the deformities are still being found with no definite cause yet. In fact the deformities have spread across the country. This year a research team found a population of frogs in Oregon 100% deformed… a first.

When I discovered no one has made a film about this phenomenon I knew I needed to. Strange Nature is an Eco Thriller that shows the dangerous places this may lead. All of this is seen through the eyes of a single mother and her 11-year-old son. I also knew I needed to bring my FX talents to the table to help the project stand out. That way I’m not just another guy with a script.


The film is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, was this always the intended route for funding?

No, but a bigger film studio won’t touch a project like this. In fact if you aren’t making a film that is a sequel, remake or based on some type of existing franchise you are probably not going to be financed anywhere. It’s pretty sad really, filmmakers are actually discouraged today from original material. I’ve had interest from independent producers to shoot the film in Louisiana and even Bulgaria for the tax breaks/cheap labor, but I’m sticking to my gun that the film is a Minnesota story and that’s where it needs to be shot. Crowdfunding is a way that will allow me to keep complete creative control of the project.

What is your opinion on the recent surge of celebrities using the independent crowdfunding platform?

Honestly, I think it will be part of the downfall of crowdfunding. Little guys like me kill ourselves to get any kind of media attention while celebrities can simply announce their project and they instantly get the front page of every entertainment site and are pretty much guaranteed to make their goal regardless of how big it is. Indie filmmakers simply cannot compete with that, so we have to take to social networking to get our word out and it’s becoming saturated.

The unfortunate fact is that most people are just not interested in your project unless there’s an A-list celebrity attached. I believe within 2 years tops, crowdfunding will change dramatically. My prediction is that film studios will start using crowdfunding to get their films made. Why risk their money if they can just charge the fans to pay for it? That way they win twice.

You recently got a chance to do special effects on Pacific Rim, what exactly did your role entail?

I was working for Legacy FX Studio. I mainly worked on molding the robot suits and running their parts. I also worked on Thor and The Watch at Legacy.

Any big dates planned for Strange Nature, or any other projects we should know about?

The Strange Nature Kickstarter campaign ends on October 10th, 2013. We have 30 hours to go and we are 74% funded! Please take a look at the campaign here and consider pledging. Rewards range from your name in the credits to actually getting one of the deformed animal puppets from the film.

There’s also a very cool horror/comedy themed TV show that I’m directing a pilot for and will be shopping around in January. Unfortunately, I can’t talk more about that, but when I can you’ll be the first to know.


Any parting advice for young filmmakers out there?

Independent film investors have dried up. Don’t wait. If you have a good unique project and you have a solid social network then try getting your film crowdfunded. However, if you don’t have any big celebrities you should try to keep your goal as close to $10,000 as possible. Very few ever make it above that. If you’re just starting out wanting to get in the film industry I highly suggest interning on a film. You’ll make valuable contacts and if you work hard and learn fast then those contacts will come in handy very soon.

Thanks Jim and good luck with the campaign! 

Link to Jim’s Kickstarter campaign here.

Find Strange Nature on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit for even more info.
I think it’s really interesting what Jim mentioned about the Kuchar brothers telling him that it’s okay to film something just because you find it interesting. I think, this is the notion that you should make art to be happy with it yourself, don’t worry if others don’t buy into it. Also, shoot lots of stuff, don’t limit yourself to specific shooting schedules. This is the documentary approach I guess, but can nevertheless always be entwined into narratives.

Also, the opinion that studios will dominate the crowdfunding platforms is becoming more widely acknowledged. It’s a scary thought what Jim picks up on, but I have hope that it may swing the other way and bring more people to the limelight of independent filmmakers. Surely, more traffic can be good traffic? Lets hope so.

Jim has obviously worked hard to get to where he’s got, so give him a couple of dollars towards this invigorating project. It’s only a bit of pocket change!


Looking Ahead to Summer Movies coming in 2014


It’s largely been a summer season of atrocious movies and I think most of us are glad that autumn has set in and winter is rapidly approaching. However, with remakes and sequels dominating the marketplace in 2014, things aren’t looking any brighter, in fact, their looking as bleak as an ancient conduit.

The ‘tent-pole’ flop of the summer award goes to The Lone Ranger, which only grossed a domestic of $88 million and cost Disney $200 million plus to make. Jerry Bruckheimer has now split from Disney, it’s a sad affair and no doubt The Lone Ranger contributed to his final parting. They made 22 films together! However, trifling domestic victories were claimed by Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and Fast & Furious 6 – not that these successors were actually any good. 2012 was, domestically, the biggest box-office year in movie history, and in all fairness, 2013 somehow wasn’t far from it. As always with the movie industry, it appears to be the best of times and the worst of times.

Plans appeared well laid out for 2013, it was looking well balanced, but by July and August the wreckage had piled too high. This includes the White House blowing up yet again in White House Down, which unsurprisingly grossed $30 million less than Olympus Has Fallen with $100 million. The White House mirrors the destruction of San Francisco (Star Trek), New York (Man of Steel) and World War Z and Pacific Rim; chaos is everywhere. How many times can one watch CGI festering movies before they all just blend together in a heap of decaying junk?

Unfortunately, this explosive recurrence of ample CGI isn’t going away anytime soon. IMDB’s managing editor, Keith Simanton, sums the problem up effectively: “once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world.”

So, is 2014 looking any better in terms of less CGI destruction, sequels, space trips, superheroes and foolishness? Absolutely not, but there are a couple of tasty looking biopics and spec scripts in the mix – though they will probably get drowned out and suffocate in the pile-up.

To be honest, “Nobody knows anything,” wrote screenwriter William Goldman in what could just be the truest thing ever written about Hollywood. So, take my following scrutiny lightly and get rid of any sentiment – stuffs always changing.

Here are my personal prospects for the main studio’s summer movies (with May to August release dates):



The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Marc Webb is persistent in bringing us this sequel from the rebooted sequel The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s not only getting confusing, but Peter Parker must be getting tired. I am.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return ­– Is it trying to be a remake of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or just another deficient sequel? I’m not sure, but Oz the Great and Powerful was terribly cloudy, though I did appreciate the affirmative allusions to the master Georges Melies. With no-one singular behind the film for me to get excited, I’m just not getting excited at all.

22 Jump Street – The first one was extremely funny and with the same crew behind the sequel, I’m confident I’ll come out having had a good laugh.

How to Train your Dragon 2 – Other than a collection of nice voices, I’m not certain what this one has in store for me. I might go, but I probably won’t (there’s nearly always something better you can watch these days).

Think Like a Man Too – How clever, a sequel to Think Like a Man, but with ‘too’ instead of ‘two’. Either way, I can’t imagine this film will be worth anyone’s time.


Transformers: Age of Extinction – Stop torturing society Michael Bay!  

X-Men: Days of Future Past – It’s a fight for survival across two time periods, the characters must change the past to change their future. It sounds fanatical for Marvel geeks. Bryan Singer will direct again, and credit to him for doing a really good job with these movies. I’m just not taken.


Fast & Furious 7 – James Wan will never stop. I am a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise however, and will no doubt be racing to see this one.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Will undoubtedly be packed with more CGI destruction and risk of the Earth at stake than in Rupert Wyatt’s prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which actually had a moderately touching storyline.  Lets hope director Matt Reeves doesn’t try his Cloverfield tricks on this one.

Planes: Fire and Rescue – A DisneyToon sequel to Planes. I’m sure it will be fun for the kids – that’s all.

The Expendables 3 – I enjoyed the first, the second was a shame – the third can only be dreadful. However, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes will all be making appearances – Stallone really does love to dumb the status of our ancestor heroes. I will be dragged to the big screen once more no doubt, intrigued by the notion of what last stand the ‘big boys’ have in store.


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – A sequel to Sin City, based on the graphic novels. Robert Rodruguez and Frank Miller co-direct. I simply can’t wait! Sin City was incredible – yes it will be hard to top aesthetically, but who cares? In this case, I’d happily have more of the same. I’m a fan.


Maleficent – A fantasy thriller with Angelina Jolie will either make me gawp or snicker the whole way through. It’s interesting to see Robert Stromberg take his hand at directing after being craftsmen of the century (production designer) on films such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. I’m hoping for something fresh and prosperous, but I can’t help get the feeling it’s another route down The Lone Ranger road for Disney.  



Godzilla – It’s a reboot of the Japanese film franchise and a further remake of the 1998 film of the same name. We know what to expect, a heightened experience from the first: more destruction, more at stake, a more spectacular monster etc. I can’t help myself wanting to go see it though.

The Loft – It’s the remake where Hollywood ruins European cinema once more. However, Erik Van Looy, the original Belgian director of the Belgian horror film, will be directing it. But, there are numerous disastrous remakes of European and Asian movies by Hollywood; not to mention Michael Hanake regurgitating Funny Games shot by shot back in 2007. Just embrace the subtitles Western audiences!



Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise stars in another 3D sci-fi film, as if the debris of Oblivion wasn’t enough. It’s an adaptation from the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – it could be unique but more likely it will be an extravagance of messy proportions. However, with Doug Liman behind it my hopes are higher than they should be for a 3D sci-fi blockbuster.

Hercules: The Thracian Wars – Of course Dwayne Johnson is playing Hercules in Brett Ratner’s adaptation of the graphic novel with the same name. It will be interesting to see how the visual effects and production design is pulled off in what could be a really enthralling film, or one of disastrous magnitudes.

50 Shades of Grey ­– The one everyone’s been talking about – how much sex will they show? I have to say, I loathed the book, but I am intrigued to see how they handle the film. There has been lots of controversy about Charlie Hunnam playing Mr. Grey. I think all the girls are gabbling that he’s not handsome enough to play Grey – poor Charlie.


Guardians of the Galaxy – yet another Marvel comic superhero film produced by Marvel Studios. It is the tenth installment in the Marvel cinematic franchise and I can’t say that I’ve seen many – The Incredible Hulk was enough Marvel prescription for me.

The Hundred-Foot Journey – The novel by Richard C. Morais tells the story of two restaurant rivals based in France. It sounds interesting and with Lasse Hallstrom and Steven Spielberg behind the wheel, I’m certainly expecting something noble.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – a reboot of the film series that most of us remember watching as a kid. However, I don’t remember particularly enjoying it. My confidence is also diminished by the fact that Michael Bay is producing the film under his production company Platinum Dunes – the company that was to initially specialize in horror films!


Million Dollar Arm – A biopic of the two famous Indian baseball players, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who were discovered by the New York sports agent J.B Bernstein after winning a reality sports show. Moneyball, in 2011, was the last great inspiring sports (baseball) biopic I remember seeing – it will be tough to top!

Belle – A British period piece based upon the historical character Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed race daughter of the African slave and British naval officer. Dido meets the young lawyer John Davinier and catapults into a path of self-discovery and love. Set in 18th century Bristol Docks and shot entirely on location around Oxford, London and the Isle of Man, this may just be the British gem of the year. The film was also shot using Sony’s F65 SinyAlta camera in 4K!

Spec scripts (i.e. fresh, potentially original movies):


A Million Ways to Die in the West Ted was brilliant so expectations are incredibly high for Seth MacFarlane’s new Western comedy. He is starring alongside Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson – waaa! It could be epic, it could be trash. Nevertheless this film is peaking on my shattered excitement chart for summer 2014.

Chef – Jon Favreau is starring, writing, directing and producing this comedy about a chef who loses his job and starts up a food truck. Blimey! However, he has got an interesting cast aboard with Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johanssen and Robert Downey, Jr. also starring. Appears like another hit or miss film.

Single Moms Club – A family movie or a movie for depressed single ‘moms’? The story follows a group of mums who bond and create a support group after an incident at their children’s school. Gossip alert!


Neighbors – It’s the adolescent comedy with an engaging cast. A couple with a newly born child moves into a new neighborhood, but next door they soon discover the establishment of a fraternity house. I don’t think they’ll be happy about this somehow. The film stars the persistent Seth Rogen, the complimentary Zac Effron, the gorgeous Rose Byrne and the young James Franco (Dave Franco). It will be funny if I can manage not to grind my teeth to tatters.

The Familymoon – Another collaboration between Frank Coraci, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The romcom involves kids, blind dates, family resorts and a burgeoning relationship. I am hopeful, but you know my underlying attitude to romcoms…

Tammy – Ben Falcone’s debut film as director. It appears awfully unadorned. It is a comedy about a woman who loses her job and then learns her husband has been unfaithful – because we haven’t seen that one before.

Sex Tape – Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel have had enough of teaching in Bad Teacher and decide to get married and make a sex tape in Jake Kasdan’s new movie. Jack Black will also make an appearance – it’s about time! I’m hopeful this will be an amusing movie, but after 90 minutes of a couple simply searching for a tape, lets face it, things could get dull. I presume Cameron Diaz will lose an item of clothing here or there to keep viewers fully engaged – she didn’t exactly hold back in We’re the Millers.


Jupiter Ascending – Another mind-boggling sci-fi film from The Wachowskis. Mila Kunis, our lead heroine, discovers that her DNA could mark her as the universe’s next leader. We can certainly expect oodles of fantastical adventure, which will no doubt receive a disproportionate bag of mixed reviews.

Jessabelle – Editor turned director, Kevin Greutert, teams up with comedy writer Ben Garant (known for Night at the Museum and Balls of Fury) to make a horror film for Lionsgate. The team has all had involvement in the Saw films, so perhaps we can expect common themes of bloodshed. However, in studying the plotline Jessabelle it just appears to be another rundown horror film were a widow goes on retreat and becomes possessed by an evil spirit. How corrosive.

Phew, that was a feat. To sum it all up, it seems the big studios are bringing us 13 sequels (it makes my blood boil), only 2 remakes, 6 adaptations, 2 biopics (they have to be interesting or I will scream) and apparently 9 polished specs (there is hope).

So, it is shaping up to be a pretty overcast summer of rotten sequels, but thankfully not too many remakes and a nice dosage of novel adaptations and specs, which should be refreshing. I’m keeping optimistic; not forgetting there will be plenty of independent gems buried six feet under and a few last minute revitalizations on the studio circuit. After all, we love cinema, right? So, let us embrace the trash.

What are you looking forward to next summer?