Archives for the month of: March, 2014

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‘There is no record of an orca doing any harm to a human in the wild.’

A compelling documentary which pushes the boundaries of captivity through astonishing filmmaking. Much like previous documentaries such as ‘The Impostor’, ‘Blackfish’ is constructed very much like a psychological thriller which had me at the edge of my seat whilst also mesmerised at how stunning the Orca truly is. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite captures Orcas in their purest form in the ocean, connoting how they aren’t just average mammals but very intelligent and beautiful who shouldn’t be captured for the sake of entertainment at places such as SeaWorld.

Experts are shown through the talking head interview style presenting that although the Orca is a magnificent creature in the wild, whilst in captivity the Orca is sadly a threat to the trainers of SeaWorld. Throughout the film, I was very disturbed by what was shown to me such as the number of dangerous incidents involving Orcas being emphasised. Archive footage is shown over the years at SeaWorld showing what an Orca is capable of doing such as dragging a trainer to the bottom of the tank in an attempt to drown them. I was once again shocked at how this can happen even though SeaWorld is presented as a company which doesn’t seem bothered at the problem which frustrated me. Former trainers at SeaWorld try and deduce why this would happen and it’s obvious that the Orcas are clearly frustrated with the very enclosing spaces they now have to live in. It seems that Cowperthwaite makes it feel very much like a prison with no hope of escape. 

SeaWorld isn’t exactly given a positive presentation in this film. I was appalled at the archive footage which presents some of the disrespectful things they state such as blaming trainers for their own deaths/injuries instead of the Orcas who are actually responsible. There were also ridiculous inaccuracies that were said by some of the workers who state to the general public that orcas can live up to 35 years when actually, the experts show they can live up to 100 years old. The film is very well directed and edited by Cowperthwaite and Eli Despres respectively that it really puts you in the mindset of an Orca, asking is it worth exploiting their amazing character for mere entertainment? The answer is clearly no as this results in crushing their positives spirits into something deadly and very upsetting. The music by Jeff Beal I also felt fitted in well, with frequent harmonies presenting both the good and bad sides of the Orca and how people felt witnessing this.

It isn’t just the trainers who are presented to be at risk of injury or death from an Orca but even the Orcas themselves. There are very unsettling scenes presenting some Orcas attacking others brutally out of, once again, frustration and suffering is implied from both Orcas involved which made me feel angered at SeaWorld yet again. The trainers interviewed for the film I felt had interesting stories to tell, they do indeed feel angered by SeaWorld but have fond memories with killer whales such as Tilikum, a 12,000 pound Orca who was involved in the deaths of two trainers. I was moved by what they had to say whilst the archive footage presents them at work bonding with the Orcas that it felt like Cowperthwaite was implying a deep kindred spirit.

I was shocked but very moved by ‘Blackfish’. It shocks me that this truth presented something that actually happened and impacted a lot of people. For me, this is a very important film about our morality and if capturing animals is an acceptable thing to do in this day and age. ‘Blackfish’ clearly states no and has profound evidence from footage, trainers and Orca experts that it really tries to persuade that we have to help killer whales be set free. I certainly agree, how can’t you after being moved by such amazing creatures? There’s so much charm to them and they deserve compassion, love and most importantly, the freedom to roam the ocean without suffering and without loss.

5/5

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“Groovy.”

In the sort of sequel to Evil Dead, Sam Raimi creates a more interesting cult horror than the previous incarnation which is super violent, fun and most of all, silly! Raimi originally intended for previous Evil Dead to also be a horror comedy and as much as I find the hyperbolic gore and dialogue in the first film to be kind of hilarious, it is nowhere near as good as this beautiful masterpiece of horror! The film sort of picks up where the first film left of (I will warn there’s lots of continuity errors in this beautiful franchise) following the hero of the trilogy, Ash (the man, the myth, the legend – Bruce Campbell) who discovers the ‘Necronomicon Ex-Mortis’ (The Book of the Dead) and accidentally releases an evil demonic force. Now Ash must use his courage to battle against evil, with very funny results!

The brilliance in this film is the pacing. The first film took a good, but understandable while in developing the discovery of the book. This film however, only takes a few minutes. The iconic POV sped up shot of the evil kicks in, removing a plot build up but still keeping the suspense and excitement in what Ash will face. It’s just so simple, removing a little bits of horror development for the love of cheesy dialogue, alright acting (sorry Bruce, you’re an awesome dude because of your acting don’t worry!) and of course…GORE! The violence is what you’d expect if you’ve seen the first film, but it’s all the more funny because of clumsy Ash as he faces flying limbs, blood fountains and even his sanity! The special effects such as stop motion are also top notch and definitely beat all the over the top CGI you’d see from a current spoon feeding “horror”. Raimi use of makeup once again is also amazing, the detail on the demons faces for a modern audience looks old but it really works a lot better than nowadays such as CGI being used for Freddy Kruger for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). 

It’s understandable why this film is a cult classic, it’s Sam Raimi and Bruce ‘Chin’ Campbell at their finest hour (how were they involved in Spider-Man?). It’s a perfect film for any horror fan who wants a scare and a righteous laugh out loud. Evil Dead II is a low budget B movie classic that captures so much entertainment in 90 minutes that it deserves to be the best out of all the trilogy with its comical acting, amazing effects, camp script and all round sense of entertainment. It’s quite simply…*intense Ash voice* groovy.

5/5

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“Hi doggy!”

Where shall I begin with The Room? Maybe the fact it’s dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” by Entertainment Weekly? Maybe the fact that 10 years on it still sells out theatres across the globe? Maybe the fact it is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life? No kidding, considering the poor acting, TERRIBLE editing, meme generating script and such. But wait, The Room is also one of my all-time favourite films, I’d go as far as to put it in my top 50 films list! The film department’s probably in tears hearing this, but they have to understand that The Room is just something else: Once you enter The Room, you can’t quit The Room! Tommy Wiseau as the director, star, writer and producer predicted over 10 years ago that this film would conquer the world and look at how right this mystery man is. Basically, this film is terrible beyond belief.

Wiseau stars as Johnny, a successful banker in San Francisco whose life begins to crumble as his friends betray him one by one. A very simple plot, but the main narrative isn’t the major problem with this film, I won’t go into massive detail but I’ll ever so slightly hint. Firstly, the editing doesn’t make sense as a whole and the acting is beyond poor, Wiseau’s performance as an example is just so odd for various reasons. He has a very unusual accent which is so humorous and hard to understand at times but you really can’t help but love his ever so dramatic (sarcasm intended) portrayal of a sweet guy. Because of his mysterious persona, he refuses to reveal where he’s from. Many believe France, some Eastern Europe and some even go as far to state he is in fact…an alien! Because of the poor acting, a lot of the dialogue had to be dubbed but it is so out of sync with the film itself due to editing. That’s it! I will say no more, just watch The Room and forget everything you know about film!

In December 2013, I did my usual routine of searching through what the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square was screening and discovered that TOMMY WISEAU AND co-star Greg Sestero would be there in person for a Q&A screening in February 2014. I immediately booked my ticket and learned that they sold over 1000 across one single weekend.

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So there I was, first in line queuing an hour and half early before the Q&A begins, when suddenly, half an hour before…there they were, Greg in all his glory bearing a Drive Scorpion jacket who walks straight into the cinema after giving me a quick smile. Tommy runs along the line of the queue wearing nighttime glasses and two belts whilst people cheer his name. He then comes up to me with a simple “Hi. How you doin’?” offering his hand which I gladly accept. The PCC lay down the ground rules: No metal spoons, no American footballs, no booze. Simple. I entered, dropped my coat off at the front and ran to get a signed DVD and a pic. I was to a certain degree starstruck, just at the fact these guys are involved in a cult phenomenon…and of the fact Tommy is one of the weirdest people I’ve ever met. Greg passes the DVD to Tommy who insists on shaking my hand again two more times. Then after the picture (see below) I walk away offering my thanks when suddenly Tommy grabs onto my shoulder and once again, insists on shaking my hand for the forth time!

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Still can’t get over that’s actually me with Greg Sestero (left) and the man, the myth, the legend, Tommy Wiseau (right).

The Q&A experience was fantastic and downright hilarious! Questions ranged from “Favourite film?” to which Tommy would answer what everyone expected: “Citizen KAAAANE!!!!”. Tommy also offered blessings and dog-tags on stage to whoever bought Tommy Wiseau brand pants, and of course the blessing was beautiful “*name* In the name of the Father, the Son and the Goly Dhost hope you have a happy 2014 MOVE ON!!”. The film was screened and without a doubt it was one of the best cinema experiences of my life. The crowd was so enthusiastic about the whole thing, just constant cheers and screams of the film’s flaws along with devout participation; such as the repetitive tracking shots of San Francisco, to which the audience is meant to scream: “MEANWHILE IN SAN FRANCISCO!”. There was also the throwing of plastic spoons, but I’ll let you as the reader find out the purpose of it (however, if you do know, then in that case: SPOONS!!). The whole thing was an hour and a half of me just laughing away at a screen which I’ll never forget. Seriously though, please watch The Room.

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Tommy was kind enough to write “Love is blind” along with his signature!

5/5 (I’m serious!)

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When you go won’t you send back // A letter from America?

In this lovely adaption of Stephen Greenhorn’s jukebox musical, Dexter Fletcher directs a positive yet slightly weak film on family, love and courage featuring the great Proclaimers. The film stars George MacKay and Kevin Guthrie as Davy and Ally, two discharged soldiers who return to their families in Edinburgh whilst re-adapting to civilian life and finding love. Ally returns to his girlfriend Liz (Freya Mavor) who is Davy’s sister and introduces him to her English friend Yvonne (Antonia Thomas). Davy and Liz’s parents, Rab and Jean (Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks) are preparing to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, however, Rab’s past catches up with him which causes tension between the two and their family.

 As a musical, Sunshine on Leith is what you’d except from most musicals really. The singing from the cast is spot on and really capture the feelings they express at that particular moment like Antonia Thomas emphasising her character’s struggle for love and respect from Davy and vice versa. And of course there’s spontaneous dancing from the cast and extras which adds to the feel good and soppy element. Musically, The Proclaimers’ music works very well with the film as a whole, for example, Sky Takes the Soul as the opening song with its dark lyricism suits with the eerie Afghan setting and heavily contrasts bright and pretty Edinburgh. All the cast deliver very strong performances, Peter Mullan despite having a very Tom Waits-esque singing voice which I love doesn’t really suit this musical even though I thought he had the strongest acting performance which connoted obvious pride for his family. Freya Mavor and Antonia Thomas had overall the best singing voices and delivered also good performances. My criticism of the film is that I feel there wasn’t really much with the narrative, as much as I enjoyed the music due to being a Proclaimers fan, the narrative I felt should have developed more along with the character development. There isn’t anything much to this film, but maybe that’s the point, simplicity is the key. Despite having a weak narrative and being predictable, this is a good film with excellent music and a fantastic cast.

 3/5