Monday, 23 July 2012

Don't Lose That Lovin' Feelin

Hello there to anybody who reads this!  I intended to do a last post all about how absolutely gobsmacked I was with The Dark Knight Rises but my wedding yesterday kind of became a slightly bigger priority! Though luckily I did get to see the film on Saturday!

As a result, I have absolutely no time to write this before going on honeymoon to Costa Rica!  All I can say is I will be staying away from the internet for the next couple of weeks so don't forget about me and sorry for going all quiet on you!  I will return a couple of weeks!

And by the way, if you haven't seen TDKR yet, I'd say you're in for an absolute treat!  Peace out homies!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Face It - 'The Dark Knight' is Actually Shit


After hearing David M. Jackson dissing The Dark Knight recently, I could not resist asking him to share his thoughts on the film in the week leading up to the end of Nolan's trilogy.  So if you're a big fan, prepare to grit your teeth and read on.  You may not agree but I hope you will be entertained!  I can't wait to hear what you all have to say in response to this one!  And stay tuned, as before the end of the week, David will be back with why the only return of Batman he's interested in is Batman Returns.  (-Pete)

You should all feel sorry for me. I have just put myself through something terrible for you – in order to write this review, I had to sit through 2008’s Guinness-turd enema The Dark Shite Knight.

I say sit through, it was more like whipping myself with razorwire and then rolling in elephant dung being bored to tears, preached and having my intelligence insulted until I died.

But, like the cinephile Jesus I am, I have rolled back the rock of popular opinion and returned to life with the ultimate word of God upon my lips.

The Dark Knight  is shit.

Let that sink in for a while. Let the rage and denial flow through you. Enter the bargaining stage of grief. And finally ... accept.

This movie needles me in many ways – the terrible pacing, the recycled philosophy and thought experiments that any A – Level Sociology student knows, the bland action scenes and the insistence on realism when the subject matter is inherently unrealistic. It’s almost as if Nolan actively hates the very idea of Batman and wants to deconstruct it on every level. It seems fitting that Bane’s mission in the forthcoming Dark Knight Rises is pretty much that.

Let’s start with a topic of massive contention for me – Nolan’s constant dumbing down of Batman, his reduction to military / industrial practicality in terms of his appearance and equipment. I guess when you have to face the fact that Batman has always been an unhinged playboy who constantly fails in his relationships with women, thus seeking outlet by running around at night in fetish gear beating up victims of economic inequality ... well, there’s a lot of suspension of disbelief involved there.

So Nolan does not trust his audience to do that anymore. He does not keep faith with us. In Batman Begins – a competent, somewhat enjoyable film – he hit a happy medium. He’d ditched the archly implied sexual deviance that Burton had put into Batman Returns but kept a relatively organic, shady and fluid batsuit to complement the way Batsy goes about his biz. The Batman Begins Batman is still a creature of dramatic intensity, using the theatre of ninja smoke-bombs alongside disorienting swarms of bats. Maybe they were impractical, but they gave atmosphere. They went along with along the symbolism and bizarre-o terror tactics that have always made Batman interesting.

Not so the Dark Knight Batman. They’re scarcely the same character. It’s like Nolan just declared ‘fuck this shit, it’s too silly’ and threw his hands up in the air, scattering all the huge wads of money he’d built a throne out of due to the first film. The new Batman doesn’t bother with things like shadows, his suit is angular and looks like it is made out of cheap, shiny, mass-produced components rather than being bespoke. It makes me laugh that in the first film, it is explicitly shown that the suit starts out that way and he goes to all kinds of lengths including airbrushing to hide it! His modus operandi in this follow-up becomes straightforward soldiery, making him more man than bat and missing the point. As a cop flatly points out in the following clip, which really should have been re-done in ADR:


God, so awful. A multi-million dollar production and they couldn’t afford to re-record this dope’s line? Anyway, part of the problem with characterisation also comes from Bale himself. His Bruce Wayne is as bad as his bat. Y’know, I’ve heard people deify Bale as ‘the greatest actor of our generation’ but I’ve really seen no proof. Granted, he’s good in American Psycho but that’s just because he’s playing himself if on-set outbursts are anything to go by – if you missed that bit of news, here’s the catch-up:


Bale fools you into thinking he’s a great actor. He’s not. He’s a walking Kuleshov effect. What is that, you say? Wikipedia to the rescue! 

“The Kuleshov Effect is a film editing (montage) effect demonstrated by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1910s and 1920s.Kuleshov edited together a short film in which a shot of the expressionless face of Tsarist matinee idol Ivan Mosjoukine was alternated with various other shots (a plate of soup, a girl, a little girl's coffin). The film was shown to an audience who believed that the expression on Mosjoukine's face was different each time he appeared, depending on whether he was "looking at" the plate of soup, the girl, or the coffin, showing an expression of hunger, desire or grief respectively. Actually the footage of Mosjoukine was the same shot repeated over and over again. Vsevolod Pudovkin (who later claimed to have been the co-creator of the experiment) described in 1929 how the audience "raved about the acting... the heavy pensiveness of his mood over the forgotten soup, were touched and moved by the deep sorrow with which he looked on the dead child, and noted the lust with which he observed the woman. But we knew that in all three cases the face was exactly the same."

Bale is the modern equivalent of Mosjoukine. He has maybe three expressions – a slight frown:


A queer little half-smile with the lips curled up at the edges (note that he sometimes combines these two expressions as a trade-off for ‘bemusement’):


And this little pout which he routinely uses to express annoyance:


The man is as believable and emotive as a vinegar-soaked, oven-baked and varnished prize conker. The merit? He has a very symmetrical, conventionally attractive face that serves as a wonderful blank canvas for suckers to project whatever emotion they want onto.

Keaton’s Batman and Bruce Wayne both had all kinds of little gestures and nuances to give you cues, Bale’s do not. Which leads me onto the abysmally tedious, head-thumping and expository screen-writing that this lack of acting ability necessitates.

I watched the movie again in the attempt to isolate finer points of contention but the stiff academic discussions the characters have about themselves just rolled over me and made me feel tired. The problem isn’t that it’s too clever, it’s that I’d read it all before in Neitsche, Juvenal and Durkheim.

The philosophy cut ‘n’ paste starts at the beginning – Wayne comes in with some totty, interrupting Dent and Rachel Dawes at dinner. They proceed to discuss the relative merits of vigilantes versus legal prosecutors, citing Batsy’s presumed insanity and likeness in methodology to terrorists. Fine as a set-up. But then, the film proceeds to repeat this conversation in different words over and over – Batwayne has the discussion again with Dawes, and the reason she prefers Dent to Wayne is also pretty much why a prosecutor is preferable to a vigilante, he discusses it again with Gordon, it’s outlined by the Joker ... it’s just the same thing over and over again. I’m quite bright, I get it – OK?

Please, I came to watch a movie. Show me, don’t tell me. Obey the basic principle of cinema, especially when I already know the academic background. Don’t discuss the hypothesis with me, show me the testing process in action.

As for the issue of conflicted identity that is so key to Batman, Alfred harps on about the Wayne family legacy and Bruce’s duty to at least appear normal as interminably as he did in the first one. Keaton’s Batwayne simply makes a fumbled remark: “I’m sorry, I mistook me for somebody else,” in Batman Returns.  Same thing, less patronising, takes five less minutes of valuable screen time.

This all leads me to another thing – the dreadful pacing. There’s a lot of filler and unnecessary conversations. It’s actually making my head hurt now. It feels like I’ve been writing this forever but the film itself is only just reaching the end where the Joker says “I took Gotham’s white knight, and brought him down to our level,” and we say, ‘yes, we just fucking watched it happen – did you think we missed it? Jesus titty-fucking-christ!’. Seriously, when I watched this in the cinema I thought (and hoped) it would end just after the face-palm inducing bat-pod flip and the endless shots of it cutting through traffic and driving through a shopping mall. Guess what? My brother took me cutting through oncoming traffic at about 40mph on a CBR when I was fifteen. It wasn’t a big thing to me then, and it’s certainly not a big thing for Batman now. Just dull. The whole set-up is a dismally failed attempt to recreate the exhilarating rooftop-to-rooftop boosting Batmobile in Begins. But it’s mainly just a shit-looking bike made out of bits of old meccano going in straight lines. The mentally retarded text-crawl on this fan video says everything about why I hate the flip, too:


Anyway -  philosophy and screenwriting - also known as ‘write your screenplay with frequent use of cut and paste from a philosophy wiki’ to Nolan and Goyer. One of the film’s central conceits is the Joker’s attempt to demonstrate that the ‘good people’ are just as wicked as any criminal if pushed, only in a fortunate position where they are not always pushed. There are two boats, each loaded with explosives and a detonator. The question is, who will blow the other boat first and would they be right? Nice try if this wasn’t just Flood and Dresher’s 1950 thought-experiment ‘The Prisoner’s Dilemma’ with slightly higher stakes. Replace ‘confess’ with ‘push button’.


I would have been less annoyed if the Joker had signposted that he was recycling this famous idea on purpose. But it’s made out to be wholly original.

The same problem comes with Dent’s ‘clever revelation’ that the mob bosses can’t be busted for violent crime but for something as mundane as tax evasion. It’s not clever or new. All American lawyers should know it. IT’S HOW AL CAPONE WAS BUSTED FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE.

Lastly the score. Listless, low-pitched and bland. Just repeated strokes of the cello and farting brass on a loop. No personality, utterly forgettable, barely comment-worthy. It just fades into the background. The following video is from Batman Begins, but that was lumbered with tedious post-Gladiator Hans Zimmer sausage-factory tripe as well. Someone has put Danny Elfman’s music from the Burton 1989 Batman over it. Notice how Elfman’s score is actually interesting, and that you can even remember it when the video is over? Could you even hum a bar of Zimmer’s score to me? No? I rest my case.


That’s it. I’m tired. I’m really fed up with this. I’m sure there’s more I could say, but I’ve got a headache after diving head-first into this cinematic treacle. I’m gonna kill Pete for asking me to do this.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David M. Jackson is a teacher, blogger and author who’s sure he’d make more money doing the latter for a living, but teaches because they let him use gasoline and explosives to make his points about the futility of human endeavour.

His incredible immaturity makes him the ideal film critic.

If you liked this or any of the other articles by David M. Jackson, you can stalk him like a freak in a cum-stained parka on Twitter @DavidMJackson or maybe buy his book about the morality of law enforcement and vigilantism. It does a far better job than The Dark Shite, and didn’t require fifteen pints of high-iron beverage and a hosepipe to produce.

It’s called ‘Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity’ and sees cybernetically enhanced super-cop Jennifer Carter uncover a terrible plot to overthrow the British government while on the run from the very institution she is trying to save.

It’s very violent, which he knows you’ll love because you’re a sadist. It’s mainly racists that get hurt, so it’s OK.

Other articles by David M. Jackson on I Love That Film:

Are James Cameron’s Movies Misandrist, and What Would he Hope to Gain if They Were?

Why I Love Aliens

Sunday, 15 July 2012

I Love That Blog Post #10


Get your reading glasses at the ready everybody because  here's another list of excellent blog posts I have read recently.  Please enjoy!


The Droid You’re Looking For has a very cool infographic of Nolan and his collaborators http://tdylf.com/2012/07/03/infographic-the-collaborators-of-christopher-nolan/


Forget spending time with your loved ones, if you had three weeks left of existence, what would be the last films you would wish to watch?  Go tell Kristin at All Eyes on Screen right now!  http://alleyesonscreen.com/2012/07/03/three-final-weeks-of-movies/


Ahead of The Dark Knight Rises, The Movie Blog has all you need to know about Bane http://them0vieblog.com/2012/07/04/the-dark-knight-rises-101-or-tell-me-about-bane/

 
Tyler at Southern Vision has some of Mark Kermode’s very best review rants.  The one on Transformers 3 is absolutely hilarious!  http://magnoliaforever.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/the-very-best-of-the-good-doctor/


Dan at Public Transportation Snob has an interesting top 5 of Tom Hanks performances http://www.ptsnob.com/2012/07/top-5-tom-hanks-performances.html


There must be something in the water.  After I bemoaned modern marketing over at Filmoria the other day, I found this excellent essay from The Movie Blog http://them0vieblog.com/2012/07/13/do-we-see-too-much-of-film-before-its-released-these-days/


HAPPY READING EVERYBODY!!!!  This time next week, I'll be preparing for my wedding so if I go a bit quiet this week and then for another couple of weeks, please don't shun me!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Film Song of the Day: “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

Love him or hate him, Michael Moore knows how to get people talking.  The director of controversy-baiting documentaries from Roger and Me to Capitalism: A Love Story is never afraid to mix the darkly comic with the shocking, powerful and disturbing.

In his Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine, he uses Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World not for comic effect and certainly not to show how wonderful the world is....

READ MORE of this article over at Filmoria.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Is Modern Marketing Ruining the Movie Experience?

Here's a taster of my new article for Filmoria.  Head here to check it out!

'This isn’t about the thrill of seeing a new trailer in a darkened theatre. This isn’t even about viral marketing or crappy merchandise. This is about the studios bloated marketing departments and their endless deluge of trailers, TV spots, clips, featurettes and posters that recycle much of the same material but also show us half of the bleeding film before we’ve even paid for a ticket!'

Please head on over to Filmoria to read the rest!  And don't even get me started on this fucking poster!


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Finding the Fun in Found Footage

Please go and take a moment to check out my first article for Boolean Flix all about why you shouldn't hate on the found footage fad in modern horror!  Let me know what you think either here or over at Boolean Flix.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Are James Cameron’s Movies Misandrist, and What Would he Hope to Gain if They Were?


Before I begin, there are two things I’m going to need to tackle. The first thing is that I actually really enjoy most of director James Macaron Cameron’s output (apart from Titanic, but that doesn’t mean it will escape comment!). You may have read my outright praise for Aliens in the past. His plotlines and dialogue are elegant and functional, and the action scenes which drive his movies are hyperkinetic without being incomprehensible. There’s a lot going on, but he can hold a camera still for a few seconds rather than chucking it across the room a la Transformers.

The other thing is what misandry is. I’m sure you’re all familiar with its counterpart, misogyny – the hatred of women – and all the notions that go with it, such as objectification (treating women as objects primarily for the pleasure of the so-called ‘male gaze’). Misandry, it follows, is the hatred of men. What could its possible equivalent to objectification be? Some people would say that hyper-masculine, hyper-muscular male figures are there for women to look at, but a Feminist would be partially correct in dismissing that as a male-manufactured power fantasy. But did you ever wonder why it’s a power fantasy? Because power gets you laid and, statistically speaking and apart from socially important lotharios, bigger and more aggressive men get more girls. Ask yourself, whether you be a man or a woman, how many women have you met who claim to actively prefer puny or fat guys? Are you such a woman yourself? Don’t lie, because I’ll know. And I will find you.

The masculine equivalent of objectification of women – if the argument for it being a problem for women acts as a kind of denial that it could ever happen to men, which is an utter lie – is something I’m going to have to semi-invent a term for. That term is ‘agentification’. An agent is someone or something who actively influences the world around them. How is this bad? It becomes bad when I offer you the following definition – ‘the treatment of men as agents who act primarily for the benefit and gain of women’. As with the objectified female, the thoughts, feelings and personality of the agentified male are considered irrelevant.

Our culture has even had a platitude which reflects this for hundreds, if not thousands of years – ‘man is defined by his actions’. It is an attitude so deeply entrenched in our culture that we take it for granted and it has ceased to be a problem. Think about it – surnames in most cultures are subject to patrilineal transmission, from father to son. Type that into spellcheck. Patrilineal doesn’t exist. But matrilineal does. Why is this? Hmm. I digress. Surnames are patrilineal in most cultures and what do you notice? Potter. Smith. Farrier. Wright. Turner. And so on. All names derived from jobs. A man is what he does – not how he thinks or feels. You don’t get Mr. Sympathetic or Mr. Likesicecream. Of course, if Bruce Wayne had a son, according to occupation-derivation he would be Mr. Batman, which would give the game away just a tad. If a man’s surname doesn’t come from his job (i.e it sounds posh) it is generally an aristocratic derivation referring to some place his family owned i.e De Montford.

Back to the problem. It is the problem that makes young men enlist in militaries and die for countries that don’t care about them. It is the problem that makes men aged 16-24 the absolute statistically-proven prime victims of violent crime, even though culturally we harp on about how at risk women are. It is the problem that means that the human race today is descended from half as many men as women, which means that throughout our evolution males have consistently been killed off twice as fast as females. But this is all okay, of course. This is because it is their choice (although, if they don’t make such choice, they lose their masculine agency and are less likely to be considered for breeding rights. Evolution, baby). The notion that this is okay is firmly supported in many of James Cameron’s films – but in what ways, and why?

I will start with Avatar as the most obvious culprit, and attempt to do it in summary. At its heart, this movie presents a male-driven military industrial complex (the baddies) against a female Gaia-type earth-spirit, Eywa (the goody). The milindust complex is led by the snarky (and physically slight) corporate bigot Parker Selfridge and the scenery chewing Lt. Col. Miles Quaritch. The irony is that although Quaritch is nominally the villain, he is decisive, self-sacrificing and lives up to his word which the ‘hero’ Sully is largely unable to do. Sully’s main motivations for turning against the military that employed him? His new blue body lets him walk, and helped him get a hot blue girlfriend. The hot blue girlfriend part is critical to this discussion.

So how is the above so critical? Sully is portrayed as stupid, bland and selfish – he betrays pretty much everyone. Despite constant verbal abuse and disdain from his soon-to-be-girlfriend Netyri, (“She calls me ‘skown’ which means moron”) he still falls in love with her. He starts off on the wrong side, and betrays his new blue buddies. What redeems him? Two things – that he acts upon the instructions of a female (Netyri) for the benefit of a female earth-spirit, and that (as a masculine agent) he tames ‘Last Shadow’ which is essentially a huge and deadly pterosaur. The fact that he is accepted back as a saviour under these circumstances amuses me – suddenly, all the Na’vi trust him. It is very much like me leaving in shame driving a Fiat Fiesta and becoming a hero just because I drive back in a Mercedes Benz. His feelings do not matter, the fact that he is stupid does not matter, the fact that his motivations are skewed does not matter. He is the hero because he did something cool to impress a girl.

Don't laugh mate - you die in 45 minutes' time.
Let’s examine the other male figures now. Sully’s main competitor is an arrogant blue dude called Tsu-tey who basically dares to expect a woman who had already pledged herself to him to be faithful! What a goddamn crime! How does the movie absolve him of this terrible crime? Twofold – by having him become subordinate to the ‘hero’ (who is in turn subordinate to Netyri’s genitals), and die heroically assaulting the bomb shuttle. The good old disposable male strikes again – Cameron leaves no trope behind.

Killed by your own tree, FFS!
The two tribal leaders can be compared, too. The patriarchal leader – who wants to kill Sully – is ignobly disposed of via a spare of wood when hometree is blown to bits, while the matriarchal figure, who saves Sully (stereotypically nurturing - how ironic) is spared. Ho hum.

How do men and women in the milindust complex compare? Little better. All the background female figures who remain loyal to the army have close-cropped hair like their male colleagues, while the heroic female pilot (Trudy) who turns against her employers has lovely long hair. As a strong, assertive man, Quaritch is put in a position where the audience is not meant to sympathise with him despite the fact that he’s the only consistent and trustworthy character with any power in the whole damn film. His female adversary and equivalent, the scientist Grace Augustine, whose name is just a face-palm worthy pathetic fallacy, is a total bitch to everyone. But the film tells us to like and respect her – so a behaviour changes from wicked to respectable depending on whether a man or a woman does it. In a meritocratic, equal society, we should judge people’s behaviour, not their sex. Cameron’s hypocrisy here clearly sees him judging sex. Shouldn’t a (pseudo) Feminist avoid employing the supposed tactics of the patriarchal enemy?

Anyway, Doctor Elegant Majestic wilfully pounds down on her subordinates Norm Spelman and Dr Stereotype Patel. These are the two token consistently loyal and pleasant men in the film, but they are both portrayed as nervy, nerdy, back-seat taking somewhat asexual blobs. Norm is even a drooler, apparently as Grace tells his Avatar, “Norm, you’re getting your saliva in the samples” in response to his lisping dialogue. So, Jim, you’re saying that we should be confirming the stereotype that nice guys are chumps, but bad guys can be redeemed if they subject themselves to the will of a woman while retaining their ability to act and take risks. That’s just fucking great man – game over man, game over.

"Not if I kill you first, Jim!"
Now, on to a summary of how this works in his other movies. In both Terminator films, male (or masculine-bodied protagonists such as the T-800 in Terminator 2) exist to protect the female and her offspring and then die. Kyle Reese gives her offspring, protects her, then dies. The T-800 gives the thumbs up as he commits suicide or ‘self-terminates’. As the T-800 is referred to as the ultimate father figure at several points throughout the movie, the implications are sinister. Mother-of-the future Sarah Connor says, “watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. The Terminator would never stop. It would never leave him. It would never hurt him. It would never shout at him or get drunk and hit him. Or say it was too busy to spend time with him. And it would die to protect him. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice”. Ideally, men are just self-sacrificing machines that exist only to help females and their young. What they make of it is meaningless. What they feel is moot. But we are not permitted to see them as victims of agentification.

He's just DYING to help out!
The creator of Skynet, Miles Dyson, is on the other hand a male who neglects his family in favour of his work and needs to be shown the error of his ways by a woman. He dies redeeming himself in staying behind at Cyberdyne to detonate the bomb intended to wipe out Skynet’s future. Can you see a pattern developing here? 




In The Abyss, proto-Augustine superbitch Lindsey Brigman appears and makes a fool of her ex-husband, Virgil. He makes his transition from immature layabout to hero only once he accepts that his ex-wife is right about the aliens being benevolent. The villain of the piece is unsurprisingly a male soldier -but he’s played by Michael Biehn, so I’m automatically on his side. Corporal Hicks and Kyle Reese are good-guys!

 In Aliens, Ellen is a mother-figure who essentially adopts the little girl Newt / Rebecca. Carter Burke, the primary villain, is the proto-Selfridgian corporate stooge. The nice guys, Corporal Hicks and android Bishop are both horrifically injured in the service of a woman. They accept this humbly, despite the fact they got hurt as the result of said woman taking a massive risk (trying to save someone from alien impregnation) which she had previously disapproved of herself (“You can’t help them! You can’t! Right now, they’re being cocooned just like the others”). Yet the risky hypocrisy displayed by Sully is shown to be just fine when Ripley does it. No-one needs to redeem her – her actions redeem themselves in the narrative. Granted, it is the only grave error in her otherwise sterling leadership.

So Jack and Rose get married and - nah just messin wit ya.  HE'S FUCKING DEAD!
In Titanic, Jack dies to save Rose. Oh yeah, ‘Women and children first’. I forgot. 
 
All of his men are put-up, shut-up, define-yourselves-by-your-actions types who become defined as heroes in their services to women. Self-serving men are villains, self-serving women are frequently sympathetic protagonists. His films are frequently hypocritical and misandrist on this level. True Lies is the only one I can’t figure out.

Do as I say!  Not as I do!
 But why does James Cameron keep doing this in his films? I don’t think he really believes any of this stuff. It’s all sinister marketing. Knowing that just making a kick-ass action movie won’t be enough to bring in the big dollars considering that some – though not all – of the female audience will be hesitant about seeing it, Cameron essentially enshrines women in order to put bums in seats. Does he believe in this ‘natural order’ in real-life? He is on his fifth marriage. Former wife Linda Hamilton, who ironically played the heroine Sarah Connor in both Terminator movies, is on-record as describing being married to him as “terrible on every level, he was terribly insecure that I was going to ruin it for him somehow,”(The Week Uk, March 3rd 2010) and that  - in another blazing irony -implied he was much like Miles Dyson in that he was single-mindedly focused on his work to the detriment of his family relations. It is also suspected that he cheated on Hamilton with current wife Suzy Amis. None of this is secret, libellous or revelatory – just have a look on Google. You can make your own judgments as to whether he has anywhere near the respect for women he pretends to have in his films.

What does this all mean? Look at it all from this angle, and his movies are pick-up artists. These movies are the sleazy guy in a nightclub who sidles up to a woman and says ‘all these other guys are horrible. You should sleep with me. I’m nice. I understand. I’ll look after your interests. Come with me if you want to live’. Well, to paraphrase the awesome and now sadly perished female-fronted alt-rockers Lush: You say that women are superior to men? Well, I know the score – and I’ve heard it all before.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David M. Jackson is a lecturer in English Language and Literature as well as Sociology, so he’s seen your retorts to this article coming from a mile away and frankly they’re bloody feeble. Don’t even start – you don’t want to see him get out of this chair.

When not teaching or beaming smugly from this hallowed webpage, he works on making his ‘about the author’ blurbs shorter.

By the way, he wrote a novel about a cybernetically augmented police officer struggling to maintain her humanity while seeking revenge for her father’s death against the backdrop of civil war in happy ol’ Britain. It’s called ‘Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity’ - which you may find a bit ironic. It’s out on Sunday 1st  July 2012 via Amazon, priced at £3. Keep your wallet handy – there’s more to come.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Dark Knight Rises Epic Featurette

No words of mine will do this justice.  This is 13 minutes of the cast and crew talking about why The Dark Knight Rises may very well be the greatest blockbuster of all time.  Nolan compares it to a silent film where the images are key to telling the story.  And after seeing some of the images here, you're not going to argue.

Bale, Hardy, Hathaway, Oldman, Caine, Freeman, both Nolan brothers and Christopher Nolan's producer partner wife Emma Thomas all get their time to talk and there's plenty of footage to feast your eyes on so tuck in!

If you've seen the trailers and TV spots and been reading about the film, there are no spoilers here.  If you want to go in cold, don't watch it but you're a stronger person than I if you can resist clicking play below.



What the hell do you think of THAT?

Friday, 6 July 2012

2012 Releases Ranked: Top 10

Yesterday I listed the nine less good films of 2012 here.  Because I'm a useless critic and enjoy most films I see and would hate to give any competently made, mildly entertaining movie anything less than 5/10, there have been no real stinkers for me yet!  I have about a hundred others I still need to see but will be waiting for the rental.  Without further ado, this is my top 10 of 2012 so far.  Please click the titles for more of my drivel:





















What do you think?  Am I stuck in the 90s putting Titanic as the best film of 2012?  Have I got a fetish for woods with Hunger Games and Cabin so high up the list?   Or maybe I've got a thing for the Hemsworth brothers?  Is Chronicle really better than Avengers?  Is anything better than The Avengers?  Is this whole list pointless with the impending rise of the Dark Knight?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

2012 Releases Ranked: Part 1

We are half way through 2012 and so far, the planet is still here, the human race still exists and the cinema has been glorious!  Time to celebrate in the first of a two part post.  I have seen only 19 films that have been released in UK cinemas in 2012 so far.  Unfortunately the cinema continues to be too expensive and the lure of the Lovefilm rental service keeps me firmly planted on my sofa for most of my film watching.

So please pop back tomorrow for the top ten 2012 releases I have seen so far this year.  Here are the bottom nine and please bear in mind, even the worst is a 5 out of 10 in my opinion!  If you want to read anything I said about any of these, please click the title.



















What ten films could possibly be better than Avengers I hear you scream through gritted teeth?  Unless you think I'm completely insane, please swing by tomorrow to find out!  And feel free to let me know why any of these actually deserves a place in the hallowed grounds of my top 10 or on the other hand how right I am for casting these foul urchins out into the cold wasteland of the bottom 9.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

June's Little Gems


Great month for films!  Even the worst on this list was bearable and at least useful for my PhD.  I don’t think I’d give any of these (except number 11) under 6/10.  So without further ado, here’s the countdown of what I watched this month:


11. The Tapes (Lee Alliston and Scott Bates, 2011)
British found footage horror.  Three annoying friends with a video camera try to make a Big Brother audition tape.  When they discover a barn that is the setting for swinging parties, they decide to secretly film the participants in action.  But they soon discover they are about to witness a lot more than old and fat wrinkly folk swapping partners.  It’s vaguely interesting and amusing for the Big Brother audition tape angle but the characters are damn annoying and this adds nothing new of note to the genre.


10. OSS-117: Lost in Rio (Michael Hazanavicius, 2009)
Bond-style secret agent spoofing from the director and star of The Artist.  Not as good as the Austin Powers films but has some very funny moments.  Jean Dujardin’s square secret agent getting jiggy in an orgy with a group of dirty hippies on a beach is the hilarious highlight.


9. Mr Nice (Bernard Rose, 2010)
Howard Marx is played by Rhys Ifans and the film distils the frankly occasionally boring book down to the highlights of Marx’s time as a dope smuggler.  Could have been a lot more fun if directed with a bit more flair but still, this is a pretty effective and almost quite emotional tale of one man’s fight to give people the right to smoke weed (and make himself a fortune).


8. Another Earth (Mike Cahill, 2011)
The first of two Indie science-fiction films I watched this month from writer-star Brit Marling.  This one deals with the discovery of a new planet exactly the same as our own but more specifically focuses on one young lady’s relationship with a very troubled man.  How the two are connected and why leads the film to be dramatic and suspenseful but it’s all a bit too understated and slow for my liking.  Infinitely more interesting if less beautiful than Melancholia though.


7. Take Me Home Tonight (Michael Dowse, 2011)
Topher Grace and Anna Faris star in this really sweet, pretty damn funny 80s coming-of-age-over-one-night story of a boy going after the girl of his dreams.  The 80s music is a joy, the script is sharp and occasionally hilarious but as with any rom-com, just too predictable to be a great movie.  Still, this deserves to be seen by more people.  Worth watching for the coke head best friend character’s antics alone.


6. Friends with Kids (Jennifer Westfeldt, 2012)
Impressive directorial debut from writer/producer/star Jennifer Westfeldt that does a deft job of balancing depressing autopsy of married with kids life and finding the funny side of two friends going into the baby-making business together.  As with most rom-coms it’s painfully predictable but there are enough cringingly honest scenes and decent laughs to make me want to see more from Westfeldt.


5. One Day (Lone Scherfig, 2011)
This is actually a surprisingly good adaptation of the book.  The leads are great despite Hathaway’s dodgy accent and the ending had more of an impact than it did when reading the book.  It’s all so quick that I wonder how much sense it would make to people who haven’t read the book.  Such well written characters and a touching love story told over twenty years, it’s hard not to be swept up in the emotions of it all.


4. Sound of My Voice (Zal Batmanglij, 2012)
See review here.


3. Michael (Markus Schleinzer, 2012)
Horrible tale of a distinctly average Austrian man who has a small boy locked in a room in his basement.  This is paedophile drama with a total lack of sensationalism.  Fortunately it’s not one of those indie films that tries to make us understand and care for the monster behind the headlines.  It just does an excellent job of showing the banality of evil and thankfully has quite a strong ending that gives cathartic pleasure in the fate of one character while leaving the fate of another painfully ambiguous.  If you can stomach a film about a paedophile, this is gripping, disturbing stuff.


2. The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983)
How come people don’t tout this as De Niro’s best performance?  Hilarious and a little heart breaking, this is a real departure from what I’m used to seeing De Niro doing.  The tale of a man desperate to be a comedian is surprising, funny and just a tad sad.  One of my new favourite Scorsese films.


1. Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi sort of Alien prequel is visually stunning, exciting, mildly scary and a hell of a ride.  A great cast get decent characters and the story spills over with interesting ideas.  The last half is less intellectually stimulating but more pulse-pounding thrilling.  The suspense of the first half gives way to all-out action with a host of creatures, gore, self-surgery and sacrifice as Rapace delivers a great Ripley inspired kick-ass action heroine with just the right mix of fragility and strength.  Fassbender nails the eerie android David and fortunately it’s all left tantalisingly open for a welcome sequel.  

How was your month?  Best and worst?  Got an opinion on any of these little gems?