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All posts for the month December, 2012

Dead Man’s Shoes: Review

Published 28/12/2012 by crimsonghad

dead man's shoes

Put simply Dead Man’s Shoes is a revenge movie in the tradition of Straw Dogs, Mad Max, Death Wish and Once Upon A Time In The West but set in the rather less glamorous location of Matlock, Derbyshire. One man avenges the poor treatment his handicapped brother suffered at the hands of a drugs gang by exacting a concerted, bloody revenge. In these times of heightened feelings towards gun crime in America, following the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, films like this are all the more likely to be studied and castigated for their portrayal of a romanticised violence and yet those who condemn it are missing the point.

 
The director Shane Meadows is a particular favourite of mine. His localised Midlands stories have a charm to them that is very unique, very personal, very British. He tends to cast original actors for their raw energy and character rather than actual ability. Sometimes it works (Paddy Considine, Vicky McClure, Joe Gilgun) sometimes it doesn’t (most of the others) but in this particular case the lead character of Richard (Considine) is perfectly cast as a disturbed ex-soldier who shows no fear or remorse. He becomes consumed by this need for revenge and nothing or no one will stop him as he is accompanied by his brother on this journey.

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Considine himself also wrote the script with Meadows and long-time Meadows co-contributor, Paul Fraser and this is shown in the performance as Considine’s own personal influence seems to shine through. The thoughtful musings and conversations between Richard and his brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) were a chance to show the character as loving and relatable when the fact that he was murdering people should have disconnected the audience with Richard. The mob mentality often displayed by young groups of males is to the fore as these men tormented a young disabled boy and yet when confronted by their own mortality seem to be scared, remorseful and almost affable. It is up to the viewer how they wish to react.

 
This is a film about vengeance but it is also a love story because of two strands: Richard and Anthony as well as Mark and his family towards the end. These bookend the film as the viewer has travelled from violence at the beginning through copious bloodshed to the end. Dead Man’s Shoes does not preach or glamorise violence. It just shows all actions have consequences and that revenge is not always what you wished.

 

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Tyrannosaur: Review

Published 27/12/2012 by crimsonghad

tyrannosaur

Bit behind the times with this review of Tyrannosaur but deaths, domestic violence, animal killing, sadism, child maiming and women on a hen do. On the surface this seems like an X-rated version of The Hangover – I’ve never seen that or the sequel(s) so I’m presuming – but watch it. It is sensational. As with all the best films it is a love story that is so much more than that simple premise.

And there are no dinosaurs. Sorry.

The acting is uniformly superb. Eddie Marsan is at his best as disturbingly tranquil psycho, James. Peter Mullan’s Joseph is the heart of the film with his detachment from life and his gravelly voice could send women to climax in seconds – I’ve never seen that so I’m presuming.

Last but not least, Olivia Colman. Wow. Just wow. I’ve heard how good she was in this film but Christ on a bike she is brilliant. And Christian. And not a generic lovely, insulting Christian but an in-depth character with so many levels it would make Tetris blush. Tragic, loveable and beautiful in equal measure I can’t think of a better female lead performance in movies in recent memory. Only perhaps Vicky McClure in This Is England 86 and 88 along with Emily Watson in Appropriate Adult on TV. She deserved all the awards she obtained and more on top.

Tyrannosaur-Film-Review

To the writing. Paddy Considine was already a superb actor and writer. Add director to that now. The understated why in which he treated such delicate, horrific subject matter is masterful. I won’t give away the plot because doing that would be a disservice to a film that demands you watch and pay attention to it. Suffice to say it is hard to watch but it will reward you so well.

If you like serious, well-written, superlative acted drama then please watch Tyrannosaur.

Inspire A Generation: The Artist

Published 23/12/2012 by crimsonghad

the artist

A picture is worth a thousand words. So how many words is a silent film worth? The Artist is not a movie you would instantly recognise as a writing masterpiece given that there are probably less than 15 words spoken in the entire script. And yet it is superbly written and the screenplay was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars and won at the BAFTAs. The writer and director Michel Hazanavicius How? Why?

First and foremost is the story. It is a conflicted love story. A love between a man and woman, a man and his job, an audience and a dog. In being so simple to understand there is almost no need to have speech to accompany it. We can empathise with the characters and their experiences purely through the emotive expressions on their faces in the script. That allied to the musical accompaniment, perfectly complimenting and framing the scenes, is the screenplay.

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The film itself is based around George Valentin, a superstar of Hollywood in 1927. This is the year that in reality, ‘The Jazz Singer’ became the first movie with synchronised dialogue sequences. Valentin, though, is the star of the silent movie era. He is revered by all and at the screening of his latest hit, ‘A Russian Affair’ he meets a glamorously attractive eager young fan. The headline, ‘Who’s that girl?’ is splashed all over the next morning’s papers much to the chagrin of Valentin’s wife. That girl turns out to be Peppy Miller, an aspiring actress, who turns up the following day at Kinograph Studios to audition for Valentin’s next film, ‘A German Affair’.

The first 30 minutes build the story of Valentin as the star and show a relationship building between a clearly enamoured Miller and a wistful Valentin, unable or unwilling to act upon any feelings due to loyalty to his wife. One particularly poignant moment is where Valentin draws a small mole on to Miller’s cheek to make her stand out as different from all other actresses. His faithful chauffeur/servant Clifton enters as a reminder of the past and his wife.

However, the promise of the future is where the film begins to unravel for Valentin. His boss, the Hollywood film producer, Al Zimmer, shows Valentin a ‘talkie’ and his unwillingness or fear to adapt proves to be the beginning of his downfall.  Valentin immediately responds by saying in words, ‘If that’s the future, you can have it’.

The first sound effects (other than music) are significant as his world begins to fall apart. We hear laughter from a group of young female extras seemingly mocking Valentin as he begins to become gripped by paranoia. This is a fantastic use of writing as no words were uttered but merely the addition of laughter is enough to start Valentin’s descent and it also foreshadows the effect of Peppy Miller on his life.

peppy miller

Miller had gradually increased her profile to the point where she was the new star of Kinograph Studios and their ‘talkies’. Coincidentally Valentin and Miller’s new films both open on the same night in theatres next to each other. Miller’s film, ‘Beauty Spot’ is queuing around the block as everyone is eager to see this fresh, new star and medium but Valentin’s film, ‘Tears of Love’ is scarcely attended and all of his own money is invested in to this flop.

‘Why do you refuse to talk?’ says Valentin’s wife, Doris. This is one of many double meaning allegories throughout the film. She wants to leave him. He wants to leave her but won’t. He is also refusing to talk during the films. He refuses to acknowledge his feelings towards Miller. He refuses to accept any help or take any advice. Even Miller herself says in an interview, overheard by an angry Valentin, ‘Out with the old, in with the new. Make way for the young’, which is an allegory for her succeeding Valentin as the star, also out with silent films being replaced with ‘talkies’ and also her being romantically involved with young men. At this time the 1929 Wall Street Crash occurs and Valentin loses all of his money. The crash is his life, personally, professionally, and creatively. His wife leaves recommending he goes to see Miller’s film. He refuses to speak to his wife. Meanwhile, Miller had seen his own film and loved it juxtaposing his unbending character to her flexible approach to life. The writing on screen as Valentin dies in quicksand, ‘Farewell Norma, I never loved you’, signifies this life change superbly.

george valentin

From this point on the film has a different, almost psychotropic appeal as Valentin is trapped. He is finally single but Miller is not. He begins to have drunken hallucinations about ‘Tears of Love’ as he is chased by some characters foreshadowing a sense of death. Here his companions save him. Ever faithful Clinton saves him from his stupor and he goes to see Miller’s film and realises he was wrong all along. However, this does more harm than good as he comes to the conclusion that his life is worthless. The hallucinations get worse and he destroys his house and his film reels and inadvertently tries to kill himself. This leads to his dog saving him in a comically scene with a police officer. Both Clinton and his dog serve the same purpose in different ways.

The sense of being trapped remains though. Miller, still in love with him, takes him in to her house and looks after him after Valentin is found clutching one remaining film reel, ‘A German Affair’, where they first interacted on set. However, her success traps him. She buys all of his belongings out of love as he is bankrupt but he sees this as a slight on the once powerful George Valentin plus the fact that this is still a hugely patriarchal society in 1930s America. He cannot deal with his past life being gone. His suit is gone and he is no longer himself. A policeman talks to him (we can’t hear it) and thus he realises that the world is audible and suddenly he can hear everything everyone says. His silent life is over and he cannot accept the future. He is trapped in the past and decides to commit suicide in his old house. It is this act that proves he can have a future.

The-Artist

Love is the key. Firstly, his dog prevents him from killing himself by trying to stop him. The delay allows Miller, who feels something is wrong, to risk her life by driving to save him as Clinton (who she has also employed) cannot be found to drive her car and she has never driven before. This act of love saves him as we see him about the pull the trigger as ‘BANG!’ appear on screen. Miller crashes the car outside his house. The trapped world collides with the world of love. Comically the dog pretends to die to lighten the mood but the gesture finally proves that love conquers all, ‘If only you would let me help you George Valentin’ appears on screen. And he does. Finally we hear real music and tap dance live as breathing can be heard. And then suddenly, ACTUAL DIALOGUE. ‘Cut. Perfect’, shouts Zimmer, ‘Can you give me just one more?’ Valentin speaks with a heavy French accent, ‘With pleasure’. Hollywood as we know it is born. Valentin’s reservations about ‘talkies’ are unfounded as the mixture of dance and music allows him to be part of this new genre of film-making.

The Artist has only a few words of actual dialogue and I have quoted them all. And yet it is so well-written. Love is the key throughout and it proves that with a story as strong as this you do not need words to describe it. Music, facial expression and mime are all capable of doing this and arguably much, much more.

SPOILERS

3 great clips from The Artist

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJaHuc0u11U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrcr9QOnqB4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4EnNBQEVXQ

Arsene Wenger: In His Own Words

Published 12/12/2012 by crimsonghad

30 September 1996 – Arsene Wenger is appointed Arsenal manager

1 October 1996- 10 December 2012 – some stuff happened

11 December 2012 – Arsene Wenger’s full strength Arsenal team loses on penalties to Bradford City of League Two in the League Cup quarter final

arsene 

Arsene Wenger has been through trials and tribulations. He will probably go down in history as Arsenal’s greatest ever manager. His stock with Arsenal fans is at an all time low today and while I understand their frustration it is at times like these you need to look back at the past.

Here are some great quotes from over the years underlining his philosophy, personality and beliefs:

“I started at 33 as a manager and sometimes I felt I wouldn’t survive. Physically I was sick.”

“At some clubs success is accidental. At Arsenal it is compulsory.”

“We try to go a different way that, for me, is respectable. Briefly, these are the basics. I thought:  We are building a stadium, so I will get young players in early so I do not find myself exposed on the transfer market without the money to compete with the others. I build a team, and we compensate by creating a style of play, by creating a culture at the club because the boy comes in at 16 or 17 and when they go out they have a supplement of soul, of love for the club, because they have been educated together. The people you meet at college from 16 to 20, often those are the relationships in life that keep going. That, I think, will give us strength that other clubs will not have.”

“We do not buy superstars. We make them.”

“Gerard [Houllier] is an open-minded and passionate man. I am the opposite: stubborn and stupid. But sometimes stupid behaviour makes you win.”

“I do not like to make a fuss, it’ll just be another day. I want to stay 59.”

[During the unbeaten Invincibles run in 2003-04] “It’s not impossible. I know it will be difficult for us to go through the season unbeaten. But if we keep the right attitude it’s possible we can do it.”

“Politically, I am for efficiency. Economically first. Until the 1980s the world was divided into two, people were either communist or capitalist. The communist model does not work economically, we all realised that, but the capitalist model in the modern world also looks to be unsustainable. You cannot ignore individual interests, but I believe the world evolves slowly. The last 30 years have brought a minimum amount of money for everybody in the west, the next step, politically, would be a maximum amount of money earned by everybody.”

“A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.”

“[Sir Alex] Ferguson’s out of order. He has lost all sense of reality. He is going out looking for a confrontation, then asking the person he is confronting to apologise. He’s pushed the cork in a bit far this time.”

[On Jose Mourinho after the then Chelsea boss accused him of being a voyeur] “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”

“If I asked you who was the best team in the world you would say Brazil. And do they play good football? Yes. Which club won everything last year? Barcelona. Good football. I am not against being pragmatic, because it is pragmatic to make a good pass, not a bad one. If I have the ball, what do I do with it? Could anybody argue that a bad solution like just kicking it away is pragmatic just because, sometimes, it works by accident?”

“I am in a job where you always look in front of you. Unfortunately, the older you get, the less distance there is in front of you.”

And perhaps the most pertinent given the current situation…

“If I go into a season and I say, ‘For fu*k’s sake, if we don’t win anything, they will all leave,’ I have already lost. The problem of the media is always to imagine the worst. The problem of the manager is always to imagine the best.”

Quotes courtesy of http://www.football365.co.uk/news/8750/5643990

I feel that Wenger has failed to evolve his philosophy over the years but, even so, considering the resources he has to work with he has had unbelievable success. He should be given a task of integrating new ways of thinking and trying new methods as Sir Alex Ferguson has done over the years with great success.

However, HE deserves to choose when he should leave. He has earned it.

Arsene-Wenger-Old-Trafford-sent-off

TOWIE Live – 4 December 2012 – Review. End of the world?

Published 04/12/2012 by crimsonghad

“Worst. Show. Ever.” Comic Book Guy – The Simpsons

The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) is the original British version of Jersey Shore and The Hills. It has spawned other popular shows like Geordie Shore and Made In Chelsea. I have never before watched TOWIE. I will never watch TOWIE again. However, after reading some newspapers say this was the worst TV show ever I was compelled to watch. Wow. Just wow. Which incidentally is a more coherent sentence than at any time on TOWIE last night.

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The one positive I can give that it was all in aide of Breast Cancer Care charity. However, my grandmother died of breast cancer and she was in less pain than I was watching this drivel. It started with a paparazzi driven intro including all the main characters in the show, a (really shit) Colin Farrell look-a-like and Pat fucking Sharp. I must admit that I love Pat Sharp due to Fun House being one of my favourite shows from childhood. Indeed, my sixth form 6-a-side champion football team was called ‘Fans of Pat Sharp’ – no more Pat. No more.

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I’m not going in to great depth mainly because there was no depth in this entire programme. However, the basic format was switched between on stage performances and backstage character interactions mainly focusing on relationships and especially the ‘will they, won’t they’ marriage of Joey and Sam.

It began with Trousers Man (I had to watch it back to find out his name was James or ‘Arg’) who had no trousers on wandering around backstage shouting, ‘I’ve lost me trowsers’, over and over while also managing to talk over everyone else and looking at the camera – impressive. Once he found them and made it to the stage to introduce the show he was CUT off mid sentence (a recurring theme).

It CUT to Chloe and Joey who very loudly and menacingly shouted, ‘Tonight is gonna be creepy SICK…it’s gonna be sick’. And he was not wrong. Some guff about him proposing ensued with sub-Hollyoaks acting. Seriously. And they all look like Hollyoaks rejects too.

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The CUTS were ridiculous and I won’t mention every single one because it will take up too much space. Suffice to say they were almost always mid sentence and it ruined any continuity that may have built – there was none anyway. At one point they CUT from Cara on stage (miming) to Sam and Kirk. Audibly you could hear them being told, ‘you’re on!’ after a five second silence.

Debbie was on stage performing some magic, possibly, while Gemma and Bobby were in the audience talking. Neither could be heard as they all talked simultaneously and the sound editing was horrific.

A dull exchange with Lauren, Chloe and Billie (all looking like the Three Little Pigs dressed as Barbie) occurred before Diags (terrible name) said possibly the most insightful line of the night to Joey, ‘Um, what’s going on?’ EXACTLY . EX-FUCKING-ACTLY. WHAT AM I DOING WATCHING THIS SHITE?!?!

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Sam and Kirk were talking about Kirk going on a date with Jasmin, the highlight of which was Kirk saying, ‘It’s, it’s like, like, you know yeah’. Despite this memorable Oscar Wilde quote it was actually the BEST exchange on the programme – I’m not kidding. It was like a conversation with a friend so I can understand the relatability factor which makes this show popular.

The highlight of the stage show was possibly Arg’s rendition of Singin’ In The Rain which was average but in this company made him look like Gene Kelly’s better, fatter and more tanned brother. It may have also been the end when Cara proved she could sing Wham’s Last Christmas (Arg and Gemma proved they could not).

The lowlight of the stage show was the Three Little Pigs, inevitably, singing Barbie Girl. I have repeatedly written, ‘KILL ME NOW’ on my notepad during this rendition.

After this, though, was a potentially good segment. Some genuine (probably not genuine) animosity between Charlie and Jasmin over her relationship with Kirk bubbled over. That fact that he got her name wrong was excusable so her castigating him for it merely took me out of the (only good) moment. Worse still, another female cast member in a blue dress (don’t know her name, sorry) wandered in to shot by mistake seconds later before reversing quickly out of shot. They then CUT to a commercial break and suddenly this mystery woman appeared on stage bouncing around to One Direction’s That What Makes You Beautiful, sung (mimed) by Mario, Diags and Joey. Good job.

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The show was meant to be on a roll by now but it CUT straight to a 10 second silence while Arg, Debbie and Lydia were on screen inaudible. Then we could hear Nanny Pat shouting, ‘lose a bit of weight…go, go, go…everybody has done really well’, and various other comments while a tiny, scrambled part of the conversation between the 3 on screen could be heard. This nonsense continued for 2 MINUTES until we saw Kirk MURDER Frank Sinatra’s song, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.

Finally, we reached the ‘thrilling’ conclusion of Sam and Joey. Will they, won’t they? Except Joey’s acting was so bad it makes a giant redwood look fast moving. He repeatedly moaned, ‘I’m stressed out’, for what seemed like 30 minutes but was more like 4 minutes. He showed this also by shaking his head and rubbing his arms continuously in a trance like state, possibly not helped by his beau Sam telling him not to worry over and over while desperately failing to avoid looking at the camera like a gormless idiot. So the ‘thrilling’ conclusion was so poor they had to CUT back to the stage where the cast sang Last Christmas to rapturous applause from the clearly traumatised/lobotomised audience.

I try to be positive but really, come on. I can’t write a proper review of something that has had SEVEN series of such bullshit. I may never watch it EVER again but it averages 1,500,000 viewers. Was it the worst show ever? Impossible to say. It was not so bad that it was good. It was so bad that I was incredulous. I could not hate something which looked like a play I put on as a 15 year old. I just cannot believe ITV2 have broadcast this. Watch it yourself. The end of the world on 21 December 2012 cannot come soon enough.

http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=328496