Frank & Lola || Trailer Review

Michael Shannon is terrifying in this trailer. He’s one of those actors, like Christian Slater, that have this edge they can pull out at the drop of a hat. From the first second of this trailer, alarms were going off in my head.

Male obsession is a thoroughly mined genre – possibly because it’s the kind of horror story that is all too relatable – but this doesn’t fit in with the current mold.

In those sort of films the man is clearly the villain but whilst Shannon’s character isn’t somebody I’d like to sit with for afternoon tea; I don’t see him as inherently evil. This looks to be a more complex take on the over-told story with a more nuanced and balanced perspective.

Imogen Poots plays the mysterious, young ingenue whilst Shannon is the tense, and I’m guessing, possessive chef. Tension is the key word with this movie. Every shot and every line had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation for some unknown event.

Most of all, this seems like a character story and I cannot wait to see the journey that these characters embark on.

What did you think of the trailer? Are you a Michael Shannon fan? Let me know in the comments.

The Best Of This Week’s TV

Did anybody else find that this week just generally had good television or have I just been riding that Doctor Strange high since Tuesday night? Either way, you know how this goes. Before we get to this week’s champion: The Show of the Week, we have to acknowledge some others.

Honourable Mentions

  • Image result for pitch tommy miller tv showBlack-ish – for making “The Purge” fun.
  • Gotham – for finally clarifying that character dynamic.
  • Legends of Tomorrow – for ninjas.
  • Once Upon A Time – for bringing my favourite Disney prince to life and only kind of ruining him.
  • The Flash – for all of the awesome awkwardness.
  • Pitch – for making me care about baseball transfers.
  • Westworld – for… well: they know.

Show of the Week: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Image result for crazy ex girlfriend

This week saw the second episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s second season and it is already better than its first. As an upbeat, satirical, black-comedy musical television series it is certainly unique but it also has massive potential for being a trainwreck. Somehow they haven’t only avoided that but they’ve created a fantastic show.

The original songs are funny and enjoyable whilst being insightful and intelligent but most importantly: well-integrated.

If this show had been a rom-com movie then it would have ended at the season one finale. Season two is the rarely seen story of what happens after the credits roll. The characters still have fundamental problems and we get to see how they navigate their way through these issues.

If you’re not already watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend then I would strongly recommend it. It is the only thing of its kind currently on television.

This Week’s Worst: Modern Family

Image result for modern family halloween

It physically pains to say a negative word about Modern Family. The show has endured for seven seasons and in its eighth season it looked like it was only going to get better. This week’s episode wasn’t bad: I laughed a few times and it was a good story but it wasn’t great.

Modern Family has placed itself in the terrible position of having to constantly top themselves. This week just didn’t reach the standard that I’m used to from them but I’m fairly certain that this dip isn’t going to become a permanent thing.

What did you watch this week? Are you loving any shows that I think that I should check out? Let me know in the comments.

Doctor Strange || Review

9/10

As far as MCU films go, Doctor Strange has been the one that I was least excited for. Maybe that was because of a lack of advertising; the fact that I didn’t have much prior knowledge of the character; or because it had the incredibly daunting task of following on from Captain America: Civil War. Regardless, I didn’t have that same sense of anticipation that normally accompanies a new Marvel release. Unsurprisingly I now realise that I should have more faith in Marvel.

My biggest worry with this movie was the director, Scott Derrickson – whose previous body of work is almost entirely of the horror genre. Knowing that he fought for the chance to direct this film (completing 8 separate interviews with Marvel) I was sure that he was passionate about the project but passion doesn’t always translate to a good piece of work.

In this case Derrickson produced one of the most cinematically beautiful films in the Marvel catalogue. An obscenely large budget and beautiful sets helped but that doesn’t take away from how perfectly crafted each shot of this film came across.

The cast was fantastic but with actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swinton, that was always a given. The real star of this movie was the visual effects which were astounding. There were moments where I jumped in my seat because the dimension-bending visual was so realistic.

I struggle to find any fault in this film: it is a truly immersive piece of work (although its musical score’s similarity to the new Star Trek theme was slightly unnerving). However, I will say that it left a lot unexplored and there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered. Fortunately, this was just an origin story and we can look forward to seeing plenty more of Doctor Stephen Strange in the future.

Have you seen Doctor Strange yet? How would rank it compared to its Marvel predecessors? Let me know in the comments.

Are “True Story” Films Exploitative?

When you see “based on a true story” appear on a cinema screen before a film, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. You’re familiar with the type of story: a terrible disaster strikes giving one ordinary man the chance to step forward and be a hero. You probably already know most of the major plot points from the news but you still sit on the edge of your seat as you watch the drama unfold on the big screen.

It’s a genre that has a pretty good success rate so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing more and more of them nowadays. With Deepwater Horizon (based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion) still in cinemas, Mark Wahlberg’s next movie – which will be released in December – is Patriots Day (based on the 2013 Boston marathon bombing).

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Did you notice how the events that those movies are based on get more recent?

Information and education are never a bad thing: documenting these events in film are a genuine and acceptable way to preserve a part of our history but when is it okay to start writing scripts?

There’s something uncomfortable about imagining that when a terrible event strikes in some part of the world and people are trying to piece their lives back together, Hollywood execs are sitting down and discussing the best way to make money out of it. You can say that it’s art but that’s the same as stating that war profiteers are providing a service – it may be valid but it doesn’t erase the sleazy element of it all.

The sooner that a movie about an event is made, the better it does. People remember it more clearly, it’s closer to their hearts, and it has the added bonus of people actually knowing what the film is about. All of these reasons help to make sure that as many people as possible see the movie but to what end?

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I think that from a creative standpoint you want people to see your film so that people see your film: the hope is that they enjoy it or they learn something or they come out with a new perspective on the world. However, movies that reach the scale of these biopic disasters can’t be made without big studios bankrolling them which means that another key motivator is money.

Separating the financial aspect from the artistic aspect seems impossible and that’s upsetting because suddenly these films become very exploitative. They use people’s pain and suffering to sell cinema tickets.

Films about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. are the only reason that I know so much about the American Civil Rights Movement as I currently do. Film is one of my favourite mediums and I recognise it’s power and its educational value but is there a waiting period before its okay to make a film about something terrible? Should there be?

Do you think that these types of movies are exploitative? How long do you think that studios should wait before beginning production on films about real life events? Let me know in the comments.

Wait, What Happened? || Geek News

From castings to trailers to director departures, there has been a lot going on this week and it’s a little bit tricky to keep up with it all. In fact, you might find yourself asking: wait, what happened? If that’s the case, then I’ve got you covered.

Tim Miller Leaves Deadpool 2

February’s Deadpool was amazing and even more amazing was the announcement of a sequel with the entire creative team returning. Unfortunately the director of the original movie, Tim Miller, has now left the production citing ‘creative differences’. Despite this irritatingly vague term, insiders have given us some insight as to the real reason he left.

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Essentially Miller was at odds with Ryan Reynolds and the writers, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who all wanted to keep the sequel similar to the first film (small budget, rooted in good humour) whilst Miller’s vision was a more “stylised” and expensive version. Unsurprisingly, the studios backed the cheaper version based on the model that had already seen make them lots of money.

It’s definitely upsetting that Miller has left the film and to be honest, I’m not convinced that his idea would have been a bad thing. Obviously I enjoyed the first movie and I don’t want it to fall into the trap of making a sequel that values style over substance but it also can’t be the same thing as the first one. If a movie is making a sequel, then that sequel has to be something new and hopefully better.

Netflix Plunges Into Debt – On Purpose

This week Netflix announced a plan to raise $800 million of debt with the intention of creating more original content. This is not entirely unexpected as the company recently announced that their long-term goal is to have 50% of the content on their website be original. The strangest part of this story is how little anybody actually seems to care.

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Whilst Netflix never reveal their figures in terms of views, they are more than happy to let the public know about their subscriber growth which just happens to be booming. The original content on their site is one of the biggest draws for consumers with shows like House of Cards and Luke Cage grabbing as much (and maybe even more) attention than their network and cable television counterparts.

This new debt offering means that the company is technically upwards of $3 billion in debt – I really just need you to stop and take a moment to appreciate the size of that number. $3 billion. That’s $3,000,000,000. Regardless, they’re doing well and we get to see more original content. I do not understand finance.

New X-Men 2 Trailer

You read that right, there is a new trailer for 2003’s X2. It comes in the wake of the release of the trailer for Logan and does its best to imitate that style. The result is amazing: it’s unnerving and intense but amazing. Check it out below:

Do you think that Tim Miller’s departure will negatively affect the Deadpool sequel? Are you a fan of Netflix originals? What did you think of the X2 trailer? Let me know in the comments.

A Beginner’s Guide To Doctor Strange

Everything you need to know before Doctor Strange hits cinemas tomorrow.

What is it?
Doctor Strange is the fourteenth movie in the MCU and the second one in Phase 3 of the MCU.

Wait. I have to watch thirteen other films before this one?
What? No, of course not. I mean, I would whole-heartedly recommend that you do watch all thirteen other films in the MCU if you haven’t already but you don’t need to. You should be able to understand this movie with no prior knowledge.

What’s it about?
Well, this is a bit wild so stay with me. The movie Doctor Strange is about the character Doctor Strange from the comic book Doctor Strange.

I hate you.
I know. Anyway, serious answer:

The character, Doctor Strange (a.k.a. Dr. Stephen Strange) first appeared in Marvel’s Strange Tales #110 in July 1963 and was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.

Dr. Stephen Strange was an amazing surgeon until a car accident destroyed his hands, taking away his ability to perform surgery. He then travels the world looking for a way to repair them and finds the Ancient One who starts him on and guides him in his study of mystic arts. Also, there’s bad guys and stuff.

Who’s in it?
It’s another typically amazing MCU movie line-up: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, and Benjamin Bratt amongst others. Fingers crossed there are also a couple of wider MCU cameos. Oh, and Stan Lee will pop up somewhere.

What about the creative team?
That’s very interesting: Scott Derrickson is the director and co-writer of this film and if you are familiar with his work then you’ll know that this is a departure. His films include Sinister, Devil’s Knot and Deliver Us From Evil. I don’t think that Marvel are venturing into the horror genre but I have no idea what to expect of this film with Derrickson at the helm.

Are the reviews out?
Indeed and overall they are very positive. Reviewers are going crazy for the special effects and it sounds like it may be worth watching in 3D.

The Boss Baby || Trailer Review

This week it was a toss-up between this trailer and the trailer that just dropped for LoganThe Boss Baby only won because I feel like everybody has already seen the Logan trailer and introducing you to this movie – that may have slipped under your radar – is nothing short of a public service. However if you somehow missed the amazing trailer for Logan you can catch that here.

Where to start with The Boss Baby? I’ve watched the trailer three times and I still don’t know what it’s about. There’s an advanced baby voiced by Alec Baldwin that is both creepy and adorable; Tobey Maguire’s voice in the mix; and it’s by Dreamworks.

Based on that wealth of information I’m excited. Animated films are much better at teasing plots than their live-action counterparts. For the longest time I had no clue what Zootopia was about but from the very first teaser I was hooked. This has had much the same effect.

The animation is of the high standard that I would expect from Dreamworks and as well as Tobey Maguire and Alec Baldwin, the cast includes Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow. Essentially I know nothing about this movie but I’m obsessed with this trailer.

What did you think of the trailer? Are you excited for this movie? Do you have any clue what it is about? Let me know in the comments.

The Best Of This Week’s TV

Flaky American television scheduling meant that there was no Black-ish, Empire, Modern Family, or Pitch this week but there was still plenty to watch. Obviously I am going to get to what the best thing that aired this week was but before that, let’s look at the honourable mentions.

Honourable Mentions

  • Image result for penguin riddler gothamGotham – for the most homoerotic episode in their history that still has me questioning whether it was intentional or not.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – for really taking advantage of the later time slot and creating some epic fight sequences with Ghostrider.
  • Legends of Tomorrow – for trying with the CGI. It didn’t work but you tried.
  • Arrow – for bringing Diggle back: the show needs him.
  • How To Get Away With Murder – for a drunk Annalise and a Southern Michaela because who says murder can’t be funny?
  • Westworld – for making me appreciate the fact that I never experienced the Wild West.

Show Of The Week: Atlanta

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Atlanta is a part of a new school of comedy that doesn’t try too hard to be funny. It deals with serious issues and can be intense at times but this was one of their lighter episodes.

As somebody who hates night clubs this episode spoke to me on a spiritual level and was full of plenty of laughs. I missed Donald Glover over the last few episodes and it was nice to have his character back in the mix but the way that this show floats around the different characters means that they have all been given the chance to develop and they can all hold their own story lines.

In this episode alone they dealt with prejudice, money, gender dynamics and violence. It was hilarious.

This Week’s Worst: No Tomorrow

Image result for no tomorrow

As this is a brand new show, I have given it three weeks to pick up but unfortunately it hasn’t done that.

The CW is usually very good at new content: shows like Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have unusual subjects and very strange structures but they work really well. I thought that this might be another one of those instances but it is not.

The premise of the show is that one man has discovered that the end of the world is coming soon and he decides to live like there’s “no tomorrow”. A woman with a crush on him learns about his idea and joins him in it although she doesn’t believe that the world is ending. Together they go through their bucket lists and check off things that they want to do before the world ends.

It’s an interesting premise but the actual show has zero direction. It is literally just these (typically attractive) people doing random things and making out a lot. There are some subplots but they aren’t nearly compelling enough to make the show worthwhile.

I can’t imagine that there’s any season arc past the world not actually ending but maybe they’ll surprise us all and their world will end. Because the show gets cancelled…

What did you watch this week? Have you started any new shows? Are you a No Tomorrow fan? Let me know in the comments.

Some On-Screen Heroes (That Don’t Wear Tights)

When I talk about heroes on-screen I’m usually talking about people like Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman but as great as they all are – and I think that they’re pretty awesome – they are just a small category of what constitutes a hero.

To me a hero is somebody that inspires greatness. They’re the sort of person that’s brave, not just because they are willing to complete death-defying feats, but because they will stand up for somebody that nobody else will defend. They’ll have the scary conversations and even if they make mistakes, their ultimate goal is to do the right thing. With that said, I have chosen a few characters that are heroes to me.

Rocky Balboa

Image result for rocky balboa posterThe Rocky movies have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’m a sucker for an underdog story but whilst I supported Rocky in the first six movies, I never saw him as a hero until he was taken out of the ring in Creed and you see the man, not just the fighter.

Rocky’s kind and generous enough to train a near stranger and move him into his house. His heart is so big that he loves this kid after only a few weeks knowing him. People provoke him but he only ever responds with kindness. Rocky chooses to be nice the same way that he chooses to always fight. Rocky’s choices are what make him one of my heroes.

Judy Hopps

Image result for judy hoppsIs it possible to watch Zootopia and not fall in love with Judy Hopps? Usually, the relentless optimist gets on my nerves very quickly but there was something so pure and real about Judy’s morality. Judy stood up for people despite not being able to protect herself and when people said she couldn’t do something, she didn’t become angry or bitter, she tried harder. Most of all, I love that Judy was a flawed character: she had deeply rooted prejudice but when she realised that, she apologised and made an effort to address it. It’s such a simple thing but not a lot of people can so readily admit when they’re wrong.

The Breakfast Club

Image result for the breakfast clubA brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

This movie made me realise something that I should have already known: everybody is the centre of their own story and everybody has a story. The Breakfast Club didn’t do anything particularly heroic except to be honest with each other about their lives. They were each able to open up to a group of strangers and that never fails to inspire me.

Also, random 80s dance numbers are the best thing in cinema and I wish that they still existed today.

Olivia Pope

Image result for olivia popeI fell in love with Olivia Pope before I ever watched Scandal. I was watching TV when an advert for the show came on and a clip played where I saw this fierce woman standing in the Oval Office and shouting “If you want me, earn me!” at POTUS.

Olivia Pope is fearless – she knows her value in the world and she is not willing to compromise it for anybody (not even the President). Clearly, I respect her power and her drive but I also admire her compassion and her constant willingness to stand up for people that it would be easier to throw under the bus.

Tadashi Hamada

Image result for tadashi hamadaHiro is probably the obvious hero in Big Hero 6 but to me, Tadashi is the clear hero of the story. He may only feature for the first twenty minutes but he is the catalyst behind all of the good things that happen going forwards.

With his huge intellect, he chooses to create something whose only purpose is to help other people. He does everything that he can to help his little brother and even after his death, he manages to help society.

Who are your on-screen heroes? What inspires you in characters? Let me know in the comments.

Are Reviews Relevant?

I post reviews on here a lot less often than I used to for a number of reasons:

  1. Going to the cinema is seriously expensive.
  2. Of all of the things that I write, I least enjoy reviewing.
  3. I’m not sure that anybody really cares.
  4. I’m worried that my opinion could rob somebody of a great experience of their own.

Cinema is an art form. Nobody is debating whether or not that is true. Film is art and like all art it is subjective which means that one person’s opinion of it is going to be completely different to another person’s opinion. Yet, art is what we choose to write reviews on.

Admittedly we review pretty much everything nowadays: computer software, Uber drivers, restaurant service, but nothing is quite so in your face as movie reviews. I have written about how I feel about television reviews before and today I really just want to focus on films.

Image result for empire magazineEvery month I buy Empire magazine – a magazine that is primarily film reviews – not to read their reviews but to read the features and interviews… and then I also read the reviews because that’s the only way that publications can communicate which films are worth watching.

I don’t have an issue with the act of reviewing. I strongly believe that art should illicit reactions and if people want to put those reactions out in the world then by all means, go for it.

The first review that I wrote this year wasn’t actually a review so much as a response. I saw Creed one night in the cinema and I came back feeling inspired and electrified – a feeling that I wanted to document and express with no sort of motive except that I wanted to do something.

When I was younger, I loved films without knowing any of the nerdy stuff that I do today, I just enjoyed them. The system behind my choosing to watch a movie was very simple: watch a trailer in the cinema, decide to watch a film, watch it. Or maybe: turn on the TV, watch a film.

My point is, I didn’t know anything about a film before going into it and I grew up loving movies. Now, I feel like I’ve become this bitter, jaded figure that passes judgement on movies that I haven’t even seen nor possess the skills and abilities to make. In regards to myself, I think that I can only really write a review if I feel as though I have something to say on the topic that hasn’t already been repeated a hundred times by different people.

I don’t actively seek out reviews but they come my way all the time. Even if I don’t know exactly what’s good or bad about a film, I will have been given a general consensus by the world and that will inform my decision about whether I spend my money watching it.

I wish that I could say that they didn’t affect me but they do. I went to see Snow White & The Huntsman: Winter’s War and it was exactly the kind of action-adventure-romance thing that I enjoy (thanks to my mum’s taste which I have unwittingly inherited). Unfortunately, it’s not “artistically” up to scratch and seeing all of the negative reviews beforehand had me scrutinising every moment of the action when I finally saw it.

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On the other side of that, when media celebrates a movie it raises my expectations to a place that few movies are able to live up to. It’s great in the build up: before I saw Jungle Book this year I was excited like everyday was Christmas Eve but in the end it was just a movie – it was really good but it wasn’t Captain America: Civil War (the bar by which all movies are now judged).

Film reviews are important within the film industry – they are how one part of the industry give kudos to another but what about the wider world? I don’t know many people that check reviews before going to see a movie and I have to wonder: are reviews still relevant?

So much of cinema now is predetermined: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find ThemDoctor Strange and Rogue One are all coming out in coming months and they are all going to make lots of money. Will they have good or bad reviews? Probably a mixture but they are still going to be hugely successful, just look at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Reviews are only really helpful for the smaller movies that can’t afford a massive advertising campaign or huge-name actors to star in their films.

Do you read reviews before you see a film? How do reviews affect your film-going experience? Let me know in the comments.