Saturday, 29 December 2012

I Love That Blog Post #16

Gosh it's been a while since I have got round to one of these so some of these posts are quite old but nevertheless they are still absolutely worth sharing! So go on, be free, fly to all these posts asap!


Being Norma Jeane has top 10 male and female performances

Friday, 28 December 2012

Top 20 of 2012 PART 2: The Final Countdown

Yesterday I posted the first 10 films on my top 20 of 2012 list here. Today I bring you my favourite 10 films of 2012. It's all change since I made a similar list half way through the year.

  1. King of Devil’s Island
I reviewed this at Filmoria when it came out on home release. The story of a boys prison on an unforgiving island, King of Devil’s Island makes for stirring viewing. The performances are sovereign, lead by a sinister Stellan Skarsgård and the cinematography and score are supreme.

  1. Michael
The second of two films about child abuse in my top 10 which is a bit depressing but they do have a tendency to make very powerful viewing. It’s a haunting, horrible film with a breathtaking open ending. It’s not going to be a film for everyone, but you will find it hard to forget after you have seen it, mostly due to the ending which will leave you thinking about it for days and possibly even months or years.

  1. Untouchable
Powered by a wonderful performance from Omar Sy, I reviewed this one for Filmoria and also got to interview the directors. Telling the true story of a young black ex-con from the projects going to work as a carer for a wealthy quadriplegic, Untouchable flies beyond expectations right from the start. See it for Sy’s joyful performance and to witness an inspiring tale of a cross-cultural friendship.

  1. Skyfall
I'm not a huge Bond fan but this is possibly my favourite of the franchise.  I thought the opening scene was filled with spectacular action, the cinematography and production design was some of the finest of the year and the mixing of the old with the new made it a Bond for all audiences.  I can't see how it would fail to satisfy any Bond fan or anyone who just loves a good action film. 

  1. Life of Pi
Reviewed this for Static Mass Emporium finding it an enchanting, inspiring and surprisingly emotional film filled with wonder, awe-inspiring visuals and a character to root for in the stranded, bereaved but determined Pi. Despite taking eleven years to get from page to screen, it is absolutely worth the wait. Ang Lee has created an unbelievably cinematic treatment of the novel. Though the film itself takes its time getting to the heart of the story, the cinematography is spellbinding, the score is stirring and newcomer Suraj Sharma gives a heartfelt and compelling performance as hero Pi.

  1. Argo
A tense thriller directed by and starring Ben Affleck, this delivered on the promise of its unbelievable true story. Smuggling American officials out of Tehran at the height of the Iranian Embassy crisis in 1979 by creating a fake science-fiction film sounds too silly to believe but not only is this a true story, it is a bloody tense and hilarious one at that. Affleck makes the early scenes at the embassy the best and goes for a seriously Hollywood ending but this is consistently exciting and funny with a smidgen of politics thrown in for good measure.

  1. The Cabin in the Woods
Turning genre conventions on their head in a hilarious and smart puzzle of a film for horror fans, Cabin in the Woods is fast-paced, fresh, frightening and ridiculously funny!  If you haven't seen it yet, be careful what you read/see before you go in.  Blessed is s/he that knows next to nothing about what is in store. Destined to be studied by film studies students for some time.

  1. End of Watch
Reviewed for Static Mass Emporium, it provides a sensationally exciting climax with, director/writer David Ayer getting beneath the bravado, the bravery and the brashness of the boys in blue. Fuelled by superb performances, realistic dialogue and a fantastic soundtrack, End Of Watch is a cop thriller with everything you expect from the genre and more. By the end of your watch, the film will have made you laugh and cry and all from the precarious position of the edge of your seat.

  1. The Hunt
Reviewed for Static Mass Emporium, it’s a film about the precarious position teachers are in, at the mercy of imaginative children and pitch fork carrying adults. Mads Mikkelsen brings a virtuous integrity to the role, his popular and fun teacher giving way to a reserved and wounded man losing trust in those around him. His character’s arc is compelling and flawlessly written creating a compassionate, caring individual that is forced to show his cracks.

  1. The Dark Knight Rises
Saw this the day before my wedding so I was in a very good mood despite just getting over being ill. I’ve since reviewed the Blu-ray release for Filmoria. This is a thrilling, perfectly fitting conclusion to one of the greatest trilogies of all time. With a beautifully haunting and stirring score from Hans Zimmer, it achieves the impossible of making the outcome for Batman, Bruce Wayne and Gotham itself never certain and stands as the pinnacle of comic book movies.

Top 20 of 2012 PART 1

It's that time when everyone has to write their best of the year lists. I'm no different. Though I waited a year to write my best of 2011 list, I've decided that I can confidently write my best of 2012 list today! That is in no small part due to all the films I've been reviewing for Filmoria and Static Mass Emporium. So a massive thanks to those sites because I'm actually ending the year having seen quite a lot of 2012 releases.

In fact by my count I've seen 68 films released in 2012 in the UK. That's out of a total of 193 films I watched for the first time this year. I'm sure with all the films I re-watched this year, that would comfortably take me over the 200 mark for films I have watched in 2012. Respectable but I hope to do better in 2013!

And now on to the list:

Films I didn’t get to see that may well have made an appearance: The Master, The Raid, Rust and Bone, Headhunters, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Hobbit

Honourable mentions (if only this were a top 25): Avengers Assemble, The Grey, The Descendants, Safety Not Guaranteed, Coriolanus

  1. Looper

My own silly expectations are to blame for this being outside the top 10. I suspect if I watch Looper again, I'll enjoy it a lot more. Great, intelligent science fiction but not as good as the time travel films I grew up with despite a fantastic performance from JGL.

  1. Prometheus
Another victim of my ludicrous expectations, though I think a lot of other people felt let down by this too. Still a great film though and one I'm looking forward to re-watching. It certainly had the most exciting marketing of the year.

  1. The Hunger Games

I got the trilogy of books for Christmas last year and while the first film didn't live up to the promise of the first book, it was still a hell of good film for young adults (and the rest of us!) Infinitely better than Twilight, it's a shame that the second and third books didn't live up to the original either. I'm hoping the film sequels will improve on the books. This is why I loved the first book so much.

  1. Chronicle
It’s a superhero spin on the tired ‘found footage’ formula.  Climaxing with a creatively shot smack down that flies, explodes and rips through a city on a meager budget, Chronicle is a very impressive directorial debut.

  1. Margin Call
I reviewed this for Filmoria when it was released on DVD and loved it. I also got to interview actress Susan Blackwell who appears at the start of the film. Compelling, sad and refreshingly free from boo-hiss villainy in favour of surprising humanity.

  1. 21 Jump Street
Laughed my ass off while watching this. Literally nearly fell of my chair clutching my stomach it was hurting so much during the drug taking scene. One of the best surprises of the year. Funny, silly, dumb AND occasionally smart!

  1. Carnage
One of my favourite casts of the year all stuck in a room for the entire length of the film. It has middle class couples at war over brawling boys and despite being stagey is absolutely hilarious especially once the alcohol starts to flow.

  1. My Brother the Devil
Another one I reviewed for Filmoria, It is filled with gripping performances and it has a script that raises a wealth of important and relevant issues that combine to make this a must-see British drama from an outstanding new voice.

  1. Sightseers
This one I reviewed at Static Mass Emporium, Alice Lowe delivers a brilliant performance and her character Tina steals the film from all around her. Sightseers is an excellent serial killer comedy that has lots of laughs, vicious violence and heaps of heart, and all with a killer soundtrack. My review also won a competition and appeared here at the Picturehouse Cinema blog.

  1. Lawless
I loved the period setting, all the performances from a fantastic cast and thoroughly enjoyed the prohibition and early gangster story. Guy Pearce makes a superb villain and Tom Hardy shined in his bad-ass in a cardigan role. Better than the Hillcoat/Cave collaboration The Proposition.

And here is the top 10 0f 2012! What do you think so far?

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Splice Cinema Journal: Will Ferrell article

I have just received my copy of the Winter 2012 issue of Splice: Studying Contemporary Cinema journal. Volume 6, issue 2 is all about sports films and I was commissioned to write an article about the four sports movies Of Will Ferrell. I titled it Mockery, Masculinity and Misogyny: The Sports Movies of Will Ferrell. It deals with representations of gender in Kicking and Screaming, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro.

This is the second article I have had published in Splice after my previous article on the recent trend of star documentary directors such as Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock. Below you can see the covers of the two issues that I have been published in and the title pages of the articles I have contributed. I am now off to write my third article for the next issue on two very different prison films from the 90s.

Here is a snippet from the Will Ferrell article:

'Will Ferrell frequently plays characters that are either parodying traditional representations of masculinity and border on misogynist and homophobic or he plays more progressive, sensitive and gentle characters that provide a much more modern representation of men and their role in contemporary society.  Whether his characters are traditional or progressive, the films are comedies and therefore there is a great deal of parody and irony involved in the representation of men.  It is also interesting to examine the role of women and homosexuals and references to these social groups in the films as this can lead to further justification of the films as either misogynist or more progressive texts.

Splice is published by Auteur so if you want to subscribe, you can find their website here. For at least the next six months I will be in the process of writing my first book for Auteur to be published as part of the Devil's Advocate series. For Christmas, I received Benjamin Poole's book on Saw which I am looking forward to reading.

Safety Not Guaranteed, Grabbers and More!

Time travel and bloodsucking aliens are going up against Jack Reacher in cinemas from Boxing Day. Thanks to the folks at Den of Geek, I got to see both of these films in a double bill on Tuesday 18th December. They are both getting limited releases from Boxing Day and are up against the little big man himself Tom Cruise. So if you don't fancy seeing everyone's favourite stuntman/Scientologist doing his thing in cinemas, then I can highly recommend giving either Safety Not Guaranteed or Grabbers a go.

Safety Not Guaranteed is directed by newcomer Colin Trevorrow and stars Mark Duplass as a guy who thinks he can time travel.  I have written my review of Safety Not Guaranteed for Static Mass Emporium and you can read it here. 'It may not be a film that breaks new ground for the future but it certainly has enough new to make it sufficiently different to anything you have seen in the past.'

Grabbers is a great bit of Irish fun with the locals on a secluded island finding they have to get drunk to survive an alien invasion. It's really funny, has a great cast and very impressive special effects. I wrote my review of Grabbers for Static Mass Emporium and you can read it here. 'Balancing action, horror and comedy and even squeezing in a sweet romance and love triangle, this is a low budget blockbuster with something for everyone and a real crowd pleasing vibe.'

So don't be disheartened if you don't want to see The Hobbit or the other short guy (perhaps with hairy feet... I don't know ask Katie Holmes), there are other options this festive season. It's probably a bit late but if you aren't ready to let go of the Christmas spirit, you could always read my review of It's a Wonderful Life at Filmoria which I had never seen before this Christmas Eve.

Berberian Sound Studio is also out on DVD from Monday and I reviewed it for Filmoria here. And finally if you haven't seen Life of Pi, it's still in cinemas and I reviewed it for Static Mass Emporium here calling it 'heartfelt and compelling'.

Have you seen any of these? What did you think?

Monday, 24 December 2012

Batman Listens to Mortal Kombat

I hope that by now many of you will have seen this already but just in case anyone missed it, I felt it my duty to share the news with you that Batman listens to 90s techno when flying around Gotham City. The video below also reveals that Bane is obsessed with diet- hardly surprising considering the epic man boobs.

If you grow weary of Bane banging on about the dietary requirements of his henchman then skip forward to 2.25 through the video to see how Batman rolls when flying through the night sky. Even Bane can't believe it. It's also interesting to see that Bane is a big Mortal Kombat fan himself. Check out the fight scene where he declares Batman to be 'Toastie'!

I don't know who these Auralnauts are that made this parody video but I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!

Did this make you LOL? Or even ROTFL?

Sunday, 23 December 2012

It's a Wonderful Film

Just watched It's a Wonderful Life for the first time and would like to report to anyone who has not yet had the fortune to see it, that it truly is a wonderful classic. James Stewart is an absolute delight from start to finish and if you're not yet feeling the Christmas spirit, then I highly recommend you give this a watch. I can see why this is so many people's favourite Christmas movie now. Bedford Falls is a better place with George Bailey and Christmas is a better time with this film.

 You can watch the whole film online below. So if you've put it off evey year or you just haven't got round to watching it for the umpteenth time again this year, then now is the time to put your feet up, gather your family round and enjoy the film!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Most anticipated 2013 Movies (Jan-March)

2013 is looking like it will get off to a sound start judging by what I've been reading about upcoming releases in the first quarter of the year. John McClane returns in the fifth of the Die Hard franchise, a guy called John Dies at the End of his movie, Danny Boyle gets back to making films after fussing over Frankenstein and the Olympics, Leatherface saws up screens in 3D and the fourth deadliest natural disaster of the last century gets a cinematic rendering.

I originally intended to do a post on the films of 2013 that I'm most looking forward to but found so many to excite me just in the first three months that I thought it best to stop there. No doubt the summer will have its blockbusters including Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z and Man of Steel and December will bring another round of hobbit adventures but for now here's my top 10 films to look out for in the first three months of 2013.

10. Side by Side

A documentary that will finally help me to get the differences and the pros and cons of shooting on film or digital. Produced by Keanu Reeves, it takes an in-depth look at the digital revolution in filmmaking. 'Through interviews with directors, cinematographers, film students, producers, technologists, editors, and exhibitors, SIDE BY SIDE examines all aspects of filmmaking — from capture to edit, visual effects to color correction, distribution to archive.'

9. Texas Chainsaw 3D

I shouldn't get too excited. It's not going to be better than the original. While I enjoyed the remake, I don't remember a thing about the prequel that followed it. The trailer looks trashy as hell with sexy looking model-types getting semi-undressed and all that crap but I can't help hoping that the return of Leatherface and his trusty tool will get me buzzing with excitement once again. Yikes that sounds dirty.

8. Trance

Danny Boyle directs a fantastic cast including I Love That Film favourite Vincent Cassel. Say no more.

7. Compliance

Sounds disturbing and intriguing: 'When a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no-one is left unharmed. Based on true events.'

6. John Dies at the End

It's got Paul Giamatti and it sounds mental. 'A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human.'

5. The Bay

Found footage gets a kick in the ass by Barry Levinson in this sick looking shocker. 'Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs.'

4. Gangster Squad

I'm currently reading the book and it promises to be a great gangster flick. Love the look of the cast and director Ruben Fleischer showed real promise with Zombieland. 'A chronicle of the LAPD's fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.'

3. Django Unchained

I thought this was going to be released in 2012 and with an even better cast than it has now. Unfortunately lots of great cast members dropped out and the film is now set for a January release but early reviews have been great and I'm still very excited to see what could be one of Tarantino's last films if his retirement goes ahead as planned.

2. The Impossible

I'm a sucker for a real life tragedy, as sick as that sounds. Titanic and United 93 reduce me to a tearful wreck every time and I know The Impossible will do the same. While I'm gutted the filmmakers have decided to focus on just one family and then change them from Spanish to English for some reason, it still looks epic, tragic, and ultimately uplifting. However there were over 200,000 lives lost in the Boxing Day tsunami and a film about the local people affected must be made in the future and I hope the producers of this film give a lot of money to the people who are still struggling with the consequences of the disaster.

1.  A Good Day to Die Hard

I love John McClane. The original Die Hard trilogy are some of my favourite all time action films, particularly the first one. I thought Die Hard 4 was a major misstep but I can't help but hope that this will see McClane back on form cracking wise and cracking skulls.

There's my list of January to March UK releases. What are you most looking forward to in 2013?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Life of Pi Review @ Static Mass

My review for Ang Lee's magical Life of Pi has been published over at Static Mass Emporium and you can read it here.

I have to say I didn't expect to like this that much but, like its protagonist, I was swept away. The book sounded a little too weird for me. I had somehow got it into my head that Pi was trapped on a boat with a talking tiger. Fortunately though Pi is indeed stuck with only a Bengal tiger for company, said tiger does not actually speak. Instead he is a completely believable composite of a range of special effects that you cannot (and if you were in Pi's shoes, would not dare) take your eyes off.

A boy lost at sea for over 200 days could potentially be boring but thanks to a magnificent performance from a newcomer, some incredible effects work and some of the most stunning cinematography of the year, Life of Pi is an absolute must see on the big screen. Those who haven't been won over by 3D may want to give this a try, though until I see a 2D version, I'm not sure how essential it is.

I should stop my rambling and encourage you to head over to my review at Static Mass Emporium. The film is in UK cinemas December 20th 2012 and is set to make jaws hit floors I can promise you. But don't think it's all about stunning visuals as there is plenty of heart too. It left me with a rather uncomfortable lump in my throat by the end.

Here's a snippet from my review:

'Life Of Pi has taken eleven years to get from page to screen but is absolutely worth the wait. Ang Lee has created an unbelievably cinematic treatment of the novel. Though the film itself takes its time getting to the heart of the story, the cinematography is spellbinding, the score is stirring and newcomer Suraj Sharma gives a heartfelt and compelling performance as hero Pi.'

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Analysing La Haine

La Haine is a powerful and unforgettable French drama about three youths, one gun and living on the outskirts of a society that hates you. I write about it a lot here at I Love That Film and elsewhere, having contributed an article to Media Magazine comparing it to City of God and most recently writing for Static Mass Emporium analysing the brilliant open ending.

If you have seen the film, please head over to Static Mass Emporium to find out why I find this to be one of the best film endings of all time. It might frustrate some but for others it will ensure that you can never forget this film and its cast of wonderfully conflicted characters. I start the article by arguing 'Open endings are a divisive tool that can leave an audience enraged, frustrated, gasping for breath, shocked, disappointed or yearning for more.' Hopefully La Haine's final scene will leave you feeling a little bit of all these emotions.

Check out my deconstruction of the final scene of La Haine at Static Mass Emporium here.

I also found the recent British film My Brother the Devil had many similarities with La Haine and I compared the two films in my review of My Brother The Devil at Filmoria here.

I teach about La Haine on A level Film Studies for the section on world cinema and we compare it to City of God and Tsotsi, two other powerful dramas dealing with issues of exclusion, poverty and violence.

Here is an exam answer on the visual style of La Haine, City of God and to a lesser extent, Tsotsi.

Here is an exam answer on the social and political context of La Haine, City of God and Tsotsi.

I wondered what would have become of the characters after the closing minutes of the film and in their futures in this post about making belated sequels.

I considered why La Haine is a must see film over at Filmoria.

Finally I named it as my second favourite film of the 90s and you can see my top 30 of that decade here.

In the future, once I get finished on my first book, I would love to one day write a book about La Haine but for now I will make do with writing about it as much as I can and for anyone who is willing to publish something on it. If you're a fan, let me know why in the comments below. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to. Forget the subtitles, the black and white and the lack of stars. This is cinema at it its best.

A2 Film Studies exam answers:

Is Fight Club a film about power and control rather than liberation?

Analysing La Haine

World Cinema: Distinctive Visual Features

World Cinema: Social and Political Context

WJEC A2 Film Studies Exam Practice Section B

A2 Film Studies Exam Practice Section B

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Students' Stop Motion Animation Adverts

One of the many perks of being a film and media lecturer is that I get to help my students to make moving image products from music videos to stop motion animations to documentaries. Though it can be very difficult, pretty stressful and frustrating, it is also often extremely satisfying to see the end results.

Stop motion animation is a particularly tricky unit as we do it in the first semester of their first year so for many of the students, this will be their very first attempt at making anything. Others have made things at home before or on previous courses but most are new and stop motion is one of their first chances to get creative. As anyone who has attempted to make a stop motion animation will know, it can be very tricky, time consuming, fiddly and infuriating. But the results can often be absolutely wonderful so hopefully all the hard work is worth it in the end.

The brief I give the students is to make an advert for a product of their choice or to make a TV channel ident. Here are some of the best from this year:

PSVita Stopmotion Advert 


Centurion Energy Drink Advert


 And here is an older one I always had a soft spot for. I'm going to keep adding to these as I find where my students have uploaded them to so please watch this space!


 Feel free to leave any feedback as the students may be able to use any constructive criticism in their evaluations. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Better Late Than Never: Best Films of 2011

It’s taken me a long time to catch up with all the 2011 films that I wanted to see before I could make my top 20 of the year. There is still a whole bunch of films I need to see that might have made the list including The Skin I Live In, Midnight in Paris, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Project Nim and The King’s Speech. But it’s getting ridiculous now as I’m about to post my top 20 of 2012 so without further ado, here are my top 20 favourite films of 2011. Expect my top 20 of this year coming very soon.

    20.  A Separation

  1. True Grit
  1. 50/50
  1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  1. Bridesmaids
  1. Tyrannosaur
  1. Snowtown
  1. Tomboy
  1. The Artist
  1. Warrior
  1. Animal Kingdom
Australian crime drama that digs beneath the sunny exterior to the seedy underbelly. Brilliant performances all round and a fascinating insight into a criminal family.

  1. Senna
Best documentary of the year and the only one to make the top 20. The story of F1 racer Senna is riveting and emotionally resonant even though I barely remember the guy.

  1. Drive
Best soundtrack of the year, a riveting performance from Ryan Gosling and another film to make you weep with the gorgeous stylishness of it all.

  1. Attack the Block
Confident debut from Joe Cornish taking genre conventions like a good old fashioned alien invasion and throwing in some British council estate stereotypes before peeling away the outer skin and revealing the heart beneath the hoodies. Sick bruv.

6. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Best action film of the year and infinitely better than any of the previous films in the franchise. Tom Cruise is insane and the stunts aren’t bad either. Achieved the impossible and made me hope for a sequel.

  1. Submarine
Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut is funny, warm and beautiful. Quirky characters including a hilarious cameo from Paddy Considine make this a must-see.

  1. Rubber
Demented tale of a rubber tyre on a killing spree. The less said about it, the better. Surreal, bonkers and absolutely hilarious.

  1. In a Better World
This is a fascinating study about bullying, moral dilemmas and violence. Packed with great performances and enough tension to keep you gripped until the end, Susanne Bier delivers a brilliant drama thriller.

  1. 127 Hours
The true story of survival featuring a man forced to desperate measures under extreme circumstances. Danny Boyle directs with abundant style and James Franco holds attention despite being trapped under a rock almost throughout. Inspirational.

  1. We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lynne Ramsay dazzles with this grim look at the absolute evil present in a child and the mother who has to deal with the consequences of his terrible actions. Frightening, beautiful and unforgettable.


So there you have it: hope, despair and everything in between. It was a great year for movies but 2012 has been even better so watch out for my top 10 of 2012 coming soon!

Any thoughts on this list? Drop them in the comments below!