The Cornetto Trilogy – Mint Flavour – The Worlds End (2013)

Witten by Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright

Directed by Edgar Wright

My most anticipated release of 2013 provided appearances, within the first 60 seconds, from Peirce Brosnan, Michael Smiley and Bloody Mary from Shaun of the Dead. My first thought: how am I going to afford all the repeated viewings I’m going to need to fully appreciate the brilliance of this film?

Determined to finish the ‘Golden Mile’ in his home town of Newton Haven, Gary King (Simon Pegg) rounds up his gang of friends, now family/ business men, to finish what their 18 year old selves could not. To reach The Worlds End. When they arrive, their town is not what it used to be, and the name of the final pub takes on a whole new meaning. Appearances from previous Wright/ Pegg/ Frost collaborations will not leave cult fans disappointed, and the mixture of Bromance, Rom-Com and Dystopian end-of-the-world sci-fi genres are guaranteed to reel in the imaginations of new fans.

I was lucky enough for my local cinema to be showing the full Cornetto trilogy along with the midnight release of The Worlds End and so my mind was refreshed and ready for the newest instalment of my favourite trio. I was happy to notice that the classic Edgar Wright montages are again present along with incredible performances from classic British actors, such as Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike, and inside jokes that I know I will be sharing with my friends for a long time to come.

What sets this apart from the other two films in the trilogy is the much deeper back story to the main character, which some fans may find shocking as it is emotionally a lot darker than the other films. Also the much stronger willed character of Nick Frost, who plays T- total wingman turned business man Andrew Knightley as opposed to the unemployed Ed of Shaun of the Dead or inept police officer Danny of Hot Fuzz. As those of you who have seen interviews with Wright Pegg or Frost will know, the film also contains less direct references to other films which I have become accustomed to when watching a film by this trio, but it does not take anything away from the film, it was just a decision by Wright to pay a more subtle homage  to Sci Fi literature. Never the less,  The Worlds End has the funniest most unpredictable ending I have seen in years, relatable to everyone in the cinema, you will love this film.

As I have been waiting for this final instalment of the trilogy for so long it may come as a surprise that it actually met and exceeded my expectations! Although my favourite will always be Hot Fuzz, this is an incredible ending to my favourite zom-rom-com-police-parody-dystopian trilogy. I woke up with my ribs hurting from laughing so much from the screening last night, that’s the best way I can describe how much I adored the film. Literal rib cracking laughter. Words cannot describe how much I love this trilogy, but I have tried. For anyone who is yet to go and see The Worlds End, be prepared to wake up as I did, sides hurting from the continuous laughter, and for those who already have … Lets Boo Boo.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

 

Written & Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Anthony Burgess’ novel, A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick, was the centre of much controversy when it was released in 1971. This meant that it was withdrawn from distribution and was released in the UK over 20 years later. Stanley Kubrick’s approach to directing is described as a “self-conscious approach to filmic story telling … [which] demanded an equally self-conscious spectator” this is obvious in this film which is, in itself, conscious of being an art form shown in such scenes as the opening scene.

The mixture of electronic and orchestral music played in the background of the opening scene establishes the film as almost futuristic but with Kubrick’s view on contemporary Britain. The establishing shot introduces the protagonist, Alex, staring straight at the audience, fearless, the leader of his “droogs”. Crime and Beethoven is his world, which is soon turned upside down with his droogs turning on him resulting in him spending time in jail and leading to an experimental rehabilitation treatment in which, it seems, Beethoven turns on him too. Kubrick’s view of the youth of that time is shown, although Alex is seen as immoral, the film will be from his point of view, and so Kubrick can be seen as sympathetic towards these youths as he is encouraging the audience to see their view of the world by making Alex the narrator of the story. Not forgetting Kubrick’s famous bathroom scene, later on in the film, which links both back to one of the first crimes we see Alex commit and directly to the ending of the film.

There seems to be no clear genre for A Clockwork Orange as it has been described as an “ultra- violent” film which is a term taken from the film suggesting it is a completely new genre of film. The term suggests a cross between a film about the nightlife culture of the time, due to the play on the words “ultra violet”, and a crime film. Another attempt at naming the genre of this film is “dystopian” which suggests an element of a zeitgeist of distrusting both the government and the youths of that time. The most commonly used genre that this film is put into is “art-house” which isn’t as much of a description of the film as the kind of audience it has, due to the fact that art house films generally have niche audiences.

One of my favourite films of all times and one of the most controversial, A Clockwork Orange is a must see for any film lover. Whether you love it as much as me or you are appalled by the graphic violence, you are bound to have an opinion.

Now You See Me (2013)

4-Horsemen-Now-You-See-Me

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt

So for anyone who has already watched the film, did you guess the right card at the beginning? I did. I was hooked from that. I felt like I was part of the audience in the film, it made me feel like the magic was being performed and revealed to me personally. Maybe that’s why I have such a high opinion of the film when other fellow filmeys don’t? I just love the magic of film and when the film literally is magic … well … I’m sold.

Think Hustle meets Dynamo: Magician Impossible. Similar group dynamics and close up involvement. A group of seemingly random magicians are chosen by an unknown sponsor and quickly become 4 of the most famous magicians in the US. As can be seen from the trailer, they perform a magic trick turned heist but in order for the FBI to catch the ‘Four Horsemen’ as they have branded themselves, the FBI must admit to believing in magic. So many questions are brought up by the film, who is this unknown sponsor? Are they capable of real magic? What’s the reason and power behind their sudden rise to fame? Most questions are answered but some answers remain elusive. For me this adds to the magic of the film, the uncertain and unpredictable, bordering on slightly cheesy, ending.

But watch out, each section of the film leads to the reveal at the end, there are little clues throughout which, if you were watching, all make sense at the end of the film. The resolve, for some was anti-climactic but for me, as I had picked up on all these little hints, it was one of the “ohhhhhhh” moments that you wait for and crave at the end of a film like this. We are also given a few characters that we are allowed to love to hate. Morgan Freeman is a whistle blower who gets his comeuppance in the end and Michael Cane is a money hungry millionaire who also gets duped by these Four Horsemen, we as an audience feel a bit of smug when this happens, as we haven’t been duped, we therefore feel smarter than he is which, let’s face it, is always a good feeling. This mix of personalities introduced in the film, who aren’t even lead roles, is what makes the film feel so intricate with its story lines. There are no loose ends, each character has a purpose, each line/ action has been thought through. This, to me, is what makes truly good film making. If I do have any criticisms it would be that the ending is a bit rushed, the bit reveal was a bit underplayed so it didn’t feel like a big reveal, in fact I almost missed the conversation, there could have been a way to explain it more fully. For me, I feel the ending needs a second viewing as I’m sure that I missed a few key words which would have made it all the more clearer. I wouldn’t exactly call the ending abrupt, just had a slightly early emphasis.

What really struck me though was the rapport the actors had with one another, the feeling of people being thrust together as a group and being forced to get on and sometimes playing on the tension in order to create illusions and get information. It’s difficult to explain without giving too much away, so, as I hate spoilers, I’m going to leave it there and just encourage you all to go and see it for yourself. See if you get as hooked on the magic as I did.

Suspiria (1977)

suspiria header

Directed byDario Argento

Written by Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi

A film set in a German Ballet academy, directed by an Italian film maker and spoken in the English language is bound to have a mixture of influences, but what struck me about Suspiria is the cinematic influence it has had on many of my personal favourite films. Never has a film reminded me so much of so many others. The story, although long and a bit slow, is clearly a classic tale of good and evil, with an American student travelling halfway around the world to study her passion at a dance academy when some strange occurrences start happening . After a gruesome death reminiscent of the slasher genre, the story follows Suzy as she struggles to fit into the academy, whilst trying to ignore the signs of things not being quite right in her new residence. Inspired by such gothic stories as those of the Grimm Brothers, this film uses many horror conventions to send shivers down your spine.

Suspiria reminded me of some of its contemporary films such as Carrie (1976) with the significance of blood to the story as well as later films such as The Shining (1980) through the use of a red setting, like the blood red of The Shining’s Bathroom scene, and the red exterior of the academy in Suspiria, giving a bloody first impression of the place. This visual choice by Argento gives the ominous effect of the supernatural, making it seem as if the walls are dripping with blood, clinging to the setting as the centre of the haunting atmosphere. The cinematography and tinkling music in an interesting non dialogue scene where the blind piano player walks through the town is also reminiscent of the famous Tubular Bells walk near the start of The Exorcist (1973). The similarities extend to the foreboding elements that the two scenes suggest and the suspense, the waiting for something to happen, the tense atmosphere just waiting to be released through a scare or shock. This era of American cinema has to be one of my favourites, and this film fits so well into that category, amongst some of the best horror films of all time, it seems it’s only a matter of time until its remade by some Hollywood studio, as is happening to all truly great horror films, no doubt with Chloe Moretz playing a lead role.

To me it also seems to have influenced more modern films such as the quick editing style of Edgar Wright, the suspense caused by it, the almost waiting to be scared through contrasting this with long takes of the country side, again, waiting for something to happen. It also has such images as this …

… devil’s snare anyone?

Although not the most imaginative of narratives or endings (without giving too much away), the cinematography, editing and just composition of everything are amazing, I have never seen anything like it, never watched a film and been in complete awe of the visual aspects of it. The way everything is placed on the screen, how one shot suggestively slides into another, the narrative, which I always focus on, comes second in my eyes to this astounding artistic piece of cinema. There’s one particular shot in which a glass of wine is being drunk, the deep red matches the almost black background of the door, in deep focus, it’s like the wine is pouring into or away from it. There are so many shots like this; I’ll be amazed if you can’t find just one shot that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

There isn’t much focus on the dancing aspect of this film as it is a horror not a musical, but one of my favourite scenes is that of Suzy, dancing on point (dancing term for standing on the tips of your toes), feeling faint and staggering, still on point and then her falling from such a height. Seeing this from a high angle, the helplessness of her is presented. After which a close up on her face reveals pinky-red blood dripping from her nose. One of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing. The utter helplessness of our protagonist fighting against the music to dance, a stark contrast with how the other girls are dancing, shows the significance of her to the story, her inability to fit in, to keep up could possibly save her.

It’s so difficult to explain just how enchanting the composition of this film is without watching it. So that’s my advice to you. Watch this film, guaranteed you will be as lost for words as I was when I first saw it, which Is why I took so long to write this review. It’s difficult to put into words just how chilling and mesmerising and tense this film is. Not necessarily scary but you will get a few jumps out of this, but mainly the effect of the film is the fear of the jumps that you Argento takes his time setting up. You will not be disappointed.

The Purge (2013)

the-purge

Directed and Written  by  James DeMonaco

The year is 2022 and the American Dream is in full view, the crass colours stand out on the screen in an imitation of the Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s. James DeMonaco seems to adopt the falseness of that era in his introduction of the perfect Sandins and their neighbourhood. The claustrophobic nosey neighbours and deliberate magnification of everything from faces to movements imploring us to notice their imperfections sets the uneasy atmosphere. The effect given is that of the unrealistic expectations of America, the larger than life lifestyle is represented and this can only be experienced, in my view, whilst watching it on the big screen.

During the Purge, the Sandins, the wealthiest family in the neighbourhood are locked down in their house, their choice is to hide rather than seek but the night has other ideas, when the youngest of the Sandins acts on his conscience, the family are thrown into a situation where they must decide; kill or be killed.

The Purge can be seen as a strictly American film, with it only being fully understood by those who live in the USA. The importance of the constant reference to the ‘new founding fathers’ can only be understood by those whose everyday life is already effected by the original founding fathers. American audiences may see this as a comment on society, a political stance or just a ‘what if?’ film, but those who do not have a considerable understanding of American life and politics may find it difficult to gain the full message of the film.

I’m still not sure about whether this is an amazing idea/comment on where American society is heading of just another Battle Royale type film. I can’t fault the acting, Ethan Hawke plays the competitive all American father, Lena Headey, the Game of Thrones beauty, plays the concerned, not quite fitting in housewife who would do anything for her children. I guess it comes down to the fact that yes I did enjoy it but no I would not buy it on DVD. I’d recommend it as a rental on LoveFilm or Sky Box Office when it comes out or trying to catch it at the cinema now, but it loses its effect after the first time viewing. The shocks can’t happen twice and, as there has already been a sequel rumoured I’d wait for that for my next fix of The Purge.

First Post ..

stanley-kubrick-great-director

Hi Guys!

So I’ve decided to start my own film review blog, seeing as I have about a million opinions and don’t know what to do with them

I’m going to have to tweak a few things before I post anything else but I thought I’d try and get it started.

So I’ll be reviewing/ analysing anything from a personal favourite Kubrick film to a film I’ve just seen at the cinema.

If you have any recommendations or anything feel free to let me know and I’ll try my best to watch and write a post about it.

To be honest this is mainly a way to voice my opinion on a film without annoying my friends and family =) (I talk about films a lot)

So my first post should be up in a few days and I’ll try to post a few a week from now on.