Monday, 29 April 2013

THE LOOK OF LOVE Review



The subject of The Look of Love, Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), became the richest man in Britain because he recognised the demand for entertainment featuring naked women. Constantly pushing at the boundaries of taste with his striptease stage shows and magazine Men Only, he built an empire of sleaze with a diminishing veneer of respectability, all the while deflecting accusations of degrading women with a smile and a joke.

Steve Coogan successfully pulls off the trick of making Raymond occasionally likeable but more often than not, a cold and callous businessman. That anyone would want to sit through this man’s story could be down to a couple of reasons. Firstly Raymond’s relationship with his wayward and spiraling into tragedy daughter and secondly the gratuitous flesh liberally put on display.
 
Like the recent Spring Breakers, The Look of Love has more female nudity than your average men’s magazine. Unsurprisingly given the nature of Raymond’s business, breasts are jiggling everywhere. Full frontal nudity is on stage, in beds and splashed across the pages of Raymond’s increasingly daring magazines. It’s all part of the allure of the entrepreneur’s lifestyle that he is constantly surrounded by half or completely naked women, many of which end up in his luxurious penthouse bed under the stars, often more than one at a time.


But the appeal of the casual, coked up and boozy swinging sixties and seventies sex is always tempered by the flash forwards to Raymond’s later life as he sits in front of the television, watching his daughter give a revealing television interview before tragedy struck.

The Look of Love is above all a cautionary tale, much more so than the similarly debauched and loaded with excess Spring Breakers. Raymond is a tragic figure, though it is hard to fully sympathise with him. A man who clearly had or could have had anything he wanted, spoiled his daughter, treated his wives and lovers like disposable goods and ended up sad and alone, his wealth and empire meaning little after the loss of his daughter. The women in his life, most notably daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) and wife Jean (Anna Friel) are excellent in roles that could have easily been one note and unsympathetic.

The names and faces of British comedy pop up thick and fast, some in blink and you’ll miss them cameos, others for longer stretches. Chris Addison is excellent as coked up associate and bad influence on Raymond’s daughter Tony Power. David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Simon Bird and Stephen Fry are completely underused in small and often utterly trivial roles but add to the star power of this Brit glitz and grime caper.


The seedy underground clubs, lavish shows and all night party living all clearly take their toll on Raymond but Winterbottom captures the decades of decadence with an excellent eye for production design. The sets, locations, costumes, hair and make-up all make for a wonderful whirling kaleidoscope of colour and kitsch. At some points the montages feel like seedy Austin Powers outtakes with their funky editing, music and scantily clad women in various states of seductive posing.

The Look of Love is fascinating in its study of a man with plenty of desire for the opposite sex but little regard for their emotional well being. Paul Raymond is an enigma; keen to exploit the flesh of young women but also protective of his own daughter. He is both caring and doting and father and also completely and utterly useless at protecting Debbie from the wrongs of the world in which he introduces and launches her. Raymond is a man with little respect for women, a complete disinterest in his own son and who literally spoiled his daughter to her demise but Coogan makes him eminently watchable and bordering on sympathetic as he sits alone in his old age.

After Winterbottom and Coogan’s previous collaborations on 24 Hour Party People, A Cock and Bull Story and The Trip, The Look of Love appears both tremendously ambitious and extremely conventional. It might not push the boundaries quite as much as 9 Songs in terms of on screen sex but it does have plenty for pervs in the way of the female form.

The Look of Love is the rise and fall of an exploitative entrepreneur. Raymond may not be overly likeable but his relationship with his daughter can be touching and provides evidence of a misguided heart beneath the brash exterior perfectly played by Coogan.

Here's the trailer:

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Ethical Obligations in the TV and Film Industries



Ethical obligations are less likely to be required by law than contractual and employment legislation though they can be equally important as if a TV or film company does not behave ethically, there could be financial and legal repercussions. In my media classes, we have already looked at:


Codes of practice
A code of practice sets out how employees of a company may act. Though it is not legally binding, the purpose is to stop employees behaving in unethical ways, ensuring the creator of a piece of content behaves according to ethical standards. For example the BBC has a commissioning code of practice that sets out the principles by which they should abide when commissioning work from independent production companies. ‘The intention of the Code is to ensure that relations between the BBC and independent producers are conducted on a fair and transparent basis.’ The code includes guidelines for dealing with independent production companies and covers issues such as payment, editorial control and rights over the programmes. This ensures that the BBC has a good working relationship and behaves in an ethical manner with producers.

 Policies and procedures

TV and film companies will also have a number of policies and procedures in place to maintain and encourage ethical practice. These can relate to business conduct, recruitment, employment and records management. They are often informed by legislation such as health and safety and equal opportunities laws. One of the most interesting policies is the BBC’s on advertising. It states that advertising is not allowed in order to keep the channel free from commercial pressures. This means they can truly serve the public without having to make profits or have their schedules and programming dictated by external pressure. They also have a policy on the safeguarding of children that they work with in their programmes and also a watershed policy that ensures certain subjects, matters, issues and images are not on the channel before 9pm. These ethical policies make the BBC avoid legal action and give them a good reputation and standing in the country.

Emerging social concerns

A company’s ethical policies might extend to dealing with emerging social concerns such as the treatment of people with disabilities, the sexual exploitation of children and empowering youth. Channel 4 for example is committed to highlighting issues around those with disabilities. They broadcast the Paralympics and have commissioned a range of programmes dealing with disabled people and their lives. They also have documentaries under the Dispatches series that tackle and highlight a huge range of very serious issues including Britain’s sex gangs. These investigative shows fulfil ethical obligations to help the country improve.

Representation

Finally broadcasters will always consider the representation of social groups in their programmes. Channel 4 has come under fire for its representation of gypsy culture in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and also for its titling of a show about disabled people dating called The Undateables. These shows can damage the reputation of Channel 4 and lead to accusations of racism and making people’s perceptions of certain social groups worse or they can be praised for highlighting parts of culture that are not often represented on the television.



Similarly Hollywood blockbusters are also often criticised for characters that could be considered racist stereotypes. Paramount, Dreamworks and director Michael Bay were all criticised for Transformers 2’s racist caricature robots that sounded ‘black’ and could not read. Avatar and Fox also came under fire for casting African and Native Americans as aliens. However these huge blockbusters and their financial backers seem less concerned with ethical obligations as they still make huge profits even if a minority of people complain.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/6968020/Avatar-hit-by-claims-of-racism.html

Epic Trailer and The Art of Epic Book Review

Some tunes are just made for trailers. They sound epic enough to market any grandiose piece of blockbusting entertainment. Guardian at the Gates is one of those tunes and features very briefly at the start of the trailer for the new animated film from Blue Sky Studios, Epic. This is the studio that brought us Ice Age and Rio but don't hold any of that against them, Epic looks like their most ambitious and... yes... epic films to date.

Starring a wonderful voice cast including Christoph Waltz on villain duties and Colin Farrell and Josh Hutcherson as the heroes but also the likes of Steve Tyler and Beyonce on supporting vocals, it could be an animated adventure that will appeal to all ages.


It's all about a bunch of tree dwelling little people. No not dwarves but really really little people that live in the leaves and talk to slugs and ride hummingbirds and stuff. It could be a tree hugging epic on the scale of Avatar and no doubt that was a little bit of the reason for using the epic sounding Guardian at the Gates which I last heard used in the Avater trailer. As soon as I heard it, it certainly brought back memories of my agonising wait to see that film and the countless times I watched the trailer in preparation.

Anyway the main reason I'm talking about Epic is that as part of my continuing writing for Starburst magazine, I managed to pick up a copy of The Art of Epic, one of those gorgeous, big coffee table books that features loads of pictures including stills from the film, storyboards and rough sketches. Here is my review of The Art of Epic. Check out the trailer for Epic below:



What do you think? Epic or epic fail?

Friday, 26 April 2013

21 & Over: Certainly not the target audience

21 & Over is like a college version of The Hangover. I never quite understood all the love for The Hangover but similarly I don't really understand all the very negative reviews of this. 21 & Over follows in a long tradition of movies where college kids behave badly, having countless misadventures that usually entail drinking, parties, sex and just a little bit of growing up. They are often funny, occasionally fluffy, frequently mildly offensive and terribly sexist.


Like Porky's, American Pie, Road Trip, The Hangover and legions of others before it, 21 & Over focuses on a group of male characters and the camaraderie and banter that ensues when they set out on a silly quest. In this case that mission is for friends Casey and Miller to get their old best buddy Jeff Chang blind drunk on his 21st birthday that unfortunately happens to fall on the eve of his big med-school interview.

21 & Over is a typical tale of boys being boys. Silly, sexist and occasionally vile, Miller is a gobshite like Steve Stifler but with a sweeter, slightly less sick side. Miles Teller is pretty funny despite the constant stream of casually racist comments that pour from his mouth. He's like a live action Cartman with all his banter, put-downs and snarky remarks having a racial edge but this is more a reflection on the dumb white guy stereotype he plays than the other character's ethnicities.


However this supposedly harmless racial banter is more troublesome when the film starts to claim that Miller is a actually secretly smart and also with the crass stereotypes that it contains. Jeff Chang's father is the worst culprit; a bullying figure whose pressure ignores the desires of his own son and the toll this is taking on young Jeff.

However despite the continuous references to race, 21 & Over can be funny, sweet and for a change from the norm in this kind of movie, the girls are not completely dopey, airhead stereotypes. Nicole is the object of Casey's affections and comes across as far more interesting character than many of the girls in this kind of teen comedy.


21 & Over relies heavily on immature and unoriginal humour but the three main characters are likeable despite the frequently dubious banter and the story has bundles of fun complications stopping the heroes from simply getting home. It's not brilliant but its funnier and more entertaining than The Hangover or its sequel.

Watch the trailer:


Thursday, 25 April 2013

On Amazing Radio and Marlow FM Talking Movies

Tomorrow (26th April) I'll be on digital station Amazing Radio with Ruth Barnes and local radio Marlow FM talking about the big releases of this weekend. You can listen to me discussing Iron Man 3, Bernie, The Look of Love and The Lords of Salem on Amazing Radio from soon after 12pm by going to the Amazing Radio website here. Then soon after 5pm I will be appearing on Marlow FM to talk about the same films and even if you don't live anywhere near Marlow, you can listen to Marlow FM here.


I now have a weekly slot on Marlow FM talking about new releases and have to pre-record about five minutes of just me all by myself talking about films which they then play during rush hour when hopefully lots of people from Marlow are listening and thinking about what they might like to see at the cinema over the weekend.

I'm also on Amazing Radio fairly frequently with about one or two appearances per month. This one does not need pre-recording and I actually get to chat with presenter Ruth Barnes who always knows her stuff about film, helping to keep me on my toes!

I've reviewed three or the four films out this weekend so far and my review of The Look of Love is also coming soon. I hope you might listen to my short radio chats tomorrow if you're near a computer or digital radio!

I have reviewed Iron Man 3 for Filmoria and you can read the review here and watch the trailer below:



I have reviewed Bernie here and this is the trailer:



I'm still in the process of writing my The Look of Love review but it will be up soon. Here is the trailer:



My The Lords of Salem review is at Filmoria here and the trailer is below:



I hope you will tune in and have a listen to me on the radio tomorrow

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Everybody Has a Plan Trailer

Tonight I'm off to a screening of Everybody Has a Plan which I will be reviewing for Static Mass Emporium. It stars Viggo Mortensen in a dual role as identical twin brothers (unless they cloned him) and not only does he have the challenge of playing two people, but he is also speaking Spanish!

It says in the trailer that Everybody Has a Plan is from the producers of The Secrets in Their Eyes so I hope it can be as utterly gripping and unexpected as that film was. Only time will tell. For now check out the trailer below and look for my review at Static Mass some time before the film opens on 24th May.



What do you think? Intrigued?

What can fans expect from Marvel’s The Mandarin in Iron Man 3? (NO SPOILERS!)



The Mandarin appears in Iron Man 3 as the main villain opposite Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark. A familiar face from the comics, The Mandarin has often been called the archenemy of Iron Man but what will Oscar winner Ben Kingsley bring to the character?


The Mandarin has traditionally been of Chinese descent and primarily uses ten power rings on his fingers to blast and beam his foes into oblivion. These magic rings were forged from alien technology of a crashed spaceship. However new Iron Man 3 director Shane Black has confirmed that though Ben Kingsley’s incarnation of the villain does indeed have fingers full of jewellery; they will not be magic, from space or capable of shooting flames or ice and any other substances. For that matter he is no longer Chinese either so fan boys expecting a very literal interpretation of the character of the comic should think again.


Martial arts skills

Despite this, The Mandarin should be a force to be reckoned with. In the comics he is a genius scientist and has martial arts skills of superhuman levels. Whether the approaching 70 year old Kingsley will be able to handle complex and incredible fight scenes without the need for a great deal of computer generated trickery is open to debate. However Marvel superhero films are full of spectacular effects and a showdown between The Mandarin and Iron Man could be created through immense amounts of digital rendering. Expect at least one fight


Genius scientist

The Mandarin is also known for being an intellectual genius in the field of science. With the addition of Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian, there could be the potential for a team up to take down Iron Man. Killian is the man behind Extremis, a super soldier serum that could unleash of an army of superhuman villains against Stark and his alter ego. The Mandarin is likely to be involved with such a nefarious plan and two scientists would make a perfect fit for each other and a credible threat to our hero.


Anti-American Iconography

Both Kingsley and writer/director Shane Black have hastened to appease those expecting magic fire shooting rings by promising an altogether more sinister and crucially more real version of The Mandarin. An assortment of anti-American iconography, The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 uses media manipulation to cause terror. He hacks phones, broadcasting networks, has an Bin Laden style beard and sends anti American videos out with jihad style logos on them. He has the appearance of an American nightmare come to reality and works hard to promote this image to the world.

With the crew of Iron Man 3 reportedly applauding Kingsley on his last day on the set of shooting the film, what we can certainly look forward to is an outstanding performance from Sir Kingsley.  Just because The Mandarin is not everything you had expected from the comics, does not mean he cannot be iconic and memorable villain for the Iron Man franchise.

What do you think about Ben Kingsley’s appearance as Iron Man’s latest nemesis?

More Star Wars Sequels and Spin Offs Every Summer



Disney has announced that every summer for the foreseeable future will now see a new Star Wars film unleashed on audiences. Starting in 2015 with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII, every summer will now be dominated by a sequel or spin off from George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.

The news comes as little surprise to any fan keeping their eye on the internet for updates on the new Star Wars films since Lucas decided to sell the rights. What is slightly disconcerting is the sheer regularity of product that Disney intends to dish out for fans of Star Wars.

Following hot on the heels of Abrams’ hotly anticipated trek into a new science fiction franchise, what can fans expect from future Star Wars films?

Created by Josh Lange

With the announcement that Abrams’ is responsible for the seventh entry in the main timeline of films, following on from the prequels and the original trilogy, it is safe to say that once every two or three years, we will be getting a Star Wars: Episode VIII and Episode IX. With those potentially taking up the summers of 2017 and 2019, the next question is will there be an extension in the future? Could the summers of 2020 and beyond feature a fourth trilogy of Episodes X, XII and XII? Will Abram’s stick around long enough to shepherd the franchise boldly forwards?

In the meantime, my thoughts have turned to what will be the Star Wars films filling multiplexes between the main episodes of the franchise and who will be taking the reigns for Disney?

Spin offs have already been rumoured for a young Han Solo, Boba Fett, Yoda and Lando Calrissian. The prequels already gave us the back-story on Anakin, Leia and Obi Wan but there is still plenty of room for further expansion with a huge range of characters from the universe.

The spin offs have an impossibly huge universe as set up by Lucas but also by the endless amounts of fan fiction that have already been written around the characters and even the most minor and insignificant ones at that.

Created by Josh Lange

The trick for Disney will be to keep the franchise fresh and approachable to newcomers without alienating the long term fans. Too much introducing of new cute and fluffy characters will lead to accusations of trying to sell toys as with the introduction of the Ewoks back in Return of the Jedi. Too much focus on existing characters might take away some of the mystery and allure surrounding particular characters.

With J.J. Abram at the helm of the first in the new summer Star Wars films, Disney has made a smart move and will likely get off to a good start. His Star Trek managed to appease long term fans while attracting a whole new audience to that science fiction franchise. The question is will he be able to do the same with Star Wars and what will his involvement be in the further sequels and spin offs?

More to the point, will this Disney cash cow continue to deliver the goods for may summers to come or will the Star Wars udders dry up pretty quick?

Iron Man 3 Review at Filmoria

Today is the day the embargo was lifted on Iron Man 3 reviews so even though I got to go to a special screening a whole week ago, I wasn't able to share my review until today.

Iron Man 3 Review at Filmoria

Not only did I get to see the film a week early, but writer and director Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce also showed up to introduce the screening. They both seemed very eager for us all to like the film and kept reminding everyone that it takes a lot of time and effort to make these films.

Patrick Samuel from Static Mass took this photo

Being cynical old me, I expected it to be a bomb due to their desperate pleas. If you want to know how I felt about the film after seeing it, you'll just have to head on over to Filmoria to read the review. Check out the trailer below if you haven't already seen it a hundred times!


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

BERNIE: A real life Robin Hood



Bernie is first of all the story of a murderer but also it is the story of a man who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. In Richard Linklater’s film, Bernie is played by a cuddly, effeminate Jack Black in a role that requires him to do some rare emoting rather than just singing, dancing and acting the fool.

Bernie is based on a true story and Linklater structures it with talking heads from the Texan townsfolk, some real, and some actors and spins a yarn of a soft man bitten once too many times by a hardened old crone (Shirley MacLaine) and eventually driven to killing her.


Marge Nugent and Bernie are inseparable after the pair meet at the funeral of Marge’s extremely wealthy husband. As the local mortician, Bernie is loved by all the townspeople and particularly the little old ladies who he dotes on, especially after their partners pass on. Bernie could be a sinister character but not in the hands of Linklater and Black. Instead he is a simple man; a good Christian, loving friend, caring community member and harmless helper to Marge. And possibly gay the film also suggests for good measure.

Marge on the other hand is a miserable old miser; wealthy but estranged from her family and the townspeople and with only Bernie for company, she finds him an easy target for manipulation. The pair go on fancy first class holidays together and Bernie becomes her slave as the domineering old woman becomes too much for even this soft-hearted big old teddy bear of a man to take.


So eventually Bernie does the unthinkable and if Linklater’s film was not a true story, it would be beyond belief. Bernie hides his dastardly act from those around him through a number of nefarious means and the true story takes a turn for the even more surreal as Bernie goes to court but the ordinary townsfolk rally around him.

The real life Bernie is a far more interesting enigma than what is presented here. Linklater makes him a saint, spending Marge’s money on making the community better and helping the church, the children and the local businesses. He takes little for himself, in effect robbing the rich Marge and sharing the wealth amongst the poorer struggling townsfolk.


Bernie is portrayed almost as a modern day Robin Hood, Jack Black giving a wonderful performance as the sweetheart at the centre of a scandal, miles away from anything he has done before. If the real Bernie did distribute the wealth so selflessly from the greedy old hag to the people of the town, then the world really does need more Bernies right now. He may be a murderer but the greed of some of the richest people in this world could be seen as far more destructive then killing one selfish old bag for her cash.

However Linklater’s film could have done with exploring the darker side of the character a little more. There had to be more ambiguity to investigate rather than painting MacLaine’s Marge and Matthew McConaughey’s DA Danny Buck as the straightforward villains and Bernie as such a simple, smooth and saintly sinner.

Bernie is pretty light on laughs and takes its time getting going but is worth catching for an interesting Jack Black performance and a tantalisingly twisted true life story.

Check out the trailer below and read this article by the real Marge's nephew if you want to know how truthful the film is:

Employment legislation in the TV and Film Industries



Employment legislation covers laws and standards that ensure that employees do not suffer from dangerous or unhealthy working environments or practices. Employment legislation has a number of different parts.

Health and safety ensure a safe and healthy working environment. The BBC for example has strict policies regarding accident and incident reporting, guidelines for health and safety, a risk assessment procedure and a security policy. Employees will be expected to abide by these rules and know the policies in order to help the BBC make sure the working environment is safe. On the BBC website, all these policies can be found and there is even a separate section for freelancers who are unlikely to be a familiar with the policies as full time employees.

Most media industry employers (if not all) will have a policy that ensures equal opportunities for all by not allowing any discrimination in terms of gender, race, disability, sexuality, religion or age. There is a law against this type of discrimination but some employers will be better at providing equal opportunities than others. Channel 4 even goes as far as to regularly monitor figures, stating on their website that ‘the representation of ethnic minorities amongst permanent staff in 2010 was 13% (2009: 12%). Women continue to form the majority of staff at 57% (2009: 55%)’.


Employers must get insurance in order to cover themselves, should they be liable to pay compensation to an employee who has injured or become sick due to their job. The BBC recommends this insurance to all filmmakers in order to ‘provide indemnity in respect of your legal liability to pay compensation for death, disease or bodily injury to employees arising out of and during the course of their employment’. This means the filmmaker will be covered by their insurance should they have to pay compensation to someone.

Employees will have many rights in their contracts regarding payments, sickness, holidays and the right to not be harassed, bullied or discriminated against. They will also have the right to belong to a trade union, such as BECTU. Trade unions such as this can provide many benefits to members such as negotiating pay, conditions and contracts with employers and helping individual members with support, advice and representation if they find themselves having trouble with employers.

Employees must also be aware of intellectual property issues such as copyright and trademarks. Workers in the media industry will often be in creative roles and will need to understand whether they as the author of the work will own the rights to it or if the company that they are producing the work for owns the rights. Scriptwriters will likely sell all the rights to their original work in order for the screenplay to be turned into a film by a production company. This means once the company own the copyright over the script, they can do with whatever they please and the original author has no rights over it. An employee in a TV company may also need to obtain copyright information if they wish to use a clip from another show in their own media product.

Trademarks are signs in the forms of a logo or word that distinguishes one company’s brand from its competitors. These trademarks must be registered with the Intellectual Property Office and as they stand for a recognisable brand in the consciousness of the public, have to be protected from misrepresentation. Disney has many major trademarks including the world famous Disneyland logo and it is important to protect this family friendly brand from anything that could ruin its reputation. For example Disney refused to release the controversial film Kids through their subsidiary Miramax due to the content and potential damage to Disney’s brand.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Contractual obligations when working in the media industry



There are many different types of employment contract that employees in the media industry should be aware of. Each contract type comes with different obligations and benefits.  A full time permanent contract means a person is employed as a regular member of staff, usually for 38-40 hours a week, often office hours. These jobs will often be salaried and there are many benefits that come with this type of contract such as a regular income, sick pay, holiday entitlement and maternity or paternity leave. Part time contracts are similar but the employee only works a fraction of what a full time employee will work.

Freelance and fixed term contracts are far more common in the media industry, especially for technical and creative roles such as camera operators and sound technicians. These contracts are temporary and unlikely to come with the same benefits as full time contracts. Another common type of payment in the media industry is called on completion. This is when a contract states that a person only gets paid when the piece of work they have been employed to work on is completed.  

In the media industry, contracts may also have confidentiality and exclusivity terms written into them. A confidentiality agreement will insist by law that the employee is not allowed to explain or disseminate any information about the production of the television show or film until a certain date or further notice. This means that names, plot or the employee’s involvement cannot legally be mentioned in writing or other recorded means. This is vital in maintaining secrecy on media productions.

Exclusivity on the other hand is a term used in contracts to ensure by law that an employee only works with one company to the exclusion of all others, particularly competitors. Payment can be suspended and employment terminated if someone breaks their exclusivity agreement by working with a competitor or other company during the period of employment covered by the contract.

For example any workers on a big Hollywood production that demands high secrecy would have to sign a confidentiality agreement in their contract so they could not reveal plot details to the press. Similarly if they are involved in for example visual effects work, their work would have to be exclusive to that production and they could not use their skills on a production that will be competing with the film they are working on if there is an exclusivity clause in their contract.

The Lords of Salem, The Gatekeepers and Bait Reviews

Recently for Filmoria I've been watching and reviewing a very odd selection of films; Rob Zombie's latest horror The Lords of Salem, documentary The Gatekeepers and Aussie horror Bait featuring a shark in flooded supermarket. Yes you heard that right.

The Lords of Salem Review


The Gatekeepers Review

Bait Review


I just want to take this opportunity to have a quick bitch about something that is really starting to piss me off in critic screenings. It might just be my own sense of inadequacy but I still want to say something about it.

Have you ever been in a screening of a film that is probably not the greatest film ever and people start laughing uproariously at the plot points and bits of dialogue they find silly?

I don't mind people laughing if they think a film is silly but I get a sense sometimes that these people are laughing extra loud because they want everyone to know just how silly they find the film.

It happened to me twice recently in The Lords of Salem and A Good Day to Die Hard. I know neither of these are brilliant films and both have plenty of silly, laughable moments. I wouldn't mind but the laughing seems to be infectious and one person starts laughing loudly at the silly moments and then it seems to spread to others until by the end of the film, the whole screening room is full of people cracking up every time something silly happens.

I don't know if it's just me but I'm unlikely to laugh out loud at how preposterous a film gets. I might snigger and smirk a bit but I don't feel the need to make a scene. Even though I may not be enjoying the film, I still don't want people laughing all through it. It feels like they are trying to affect my view on the film and even if I was trying to take it seriously I wouldn't be able to because they are laughing all through it.

I was quite enjoying Die Hard 5 but was quickly getting annoyed with what seemed like critics trying to out-do each other at how hard they could laugh at the silly lines and plot points. I usually think a film deserves a full watch before I decide on what to think about it. I try to keep my judgement till the end and certainly no affect other people's enjoyment by dismissing it during the screening. Am I being unfair?

Anyway rant over. Please check out my reviews of the above films, some of which people didn't laugh all the way through.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Homage music videos



Another style of music videos is similar to parody in that the music video imitating something but in the case of homage, the mimicking is designed to pay tribute or show respect. Whereas parody is used to mock a media product or star, homage is used to show respect.

An excellent example of a music video that uses homage is The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars. This video uses locations, themes and iconography from the popular classic horror film The Shining. The band perform in a hotel very similar to The Overlook hotel featured in The Shining and the lead singer sits at a typewriter just as Jack Nicholson’s character who is a writer does in the film.


Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins is another example of a music video that pays homage to another piece of media. In this case, the music video pays respect to the Georges Melies early silent film The Voyage to the Moon. This is widely credited as being one of the first ever science fiction films and the beginning of movie special effects. Tonight, Tonight features a similar narrative to the film with the iconic moon with a face imitated and aliens that blow up into puffs of smoke when they are hot by the characters.


A final example that also pays homage in its style is the X Factor Finalists music video for Heroes. This was a charity single that pays respect to the soldiers who have been fighting in recent wars. There are many photos of soldiers and videos of the finalists meeting some of them. It is a tribute to the heroes of war which perfectly complements the lyrics of the song and ties in with the charitable intentions of the single.


What are your favourite homage music videos?


Check out my other posts:

Parody Music Videos



Another common style of music video is to parody existing pieces of media or stars that are well known to the target audience. Parody is where something is imitated in order to mock it, often by exaggerating features. Eminem uses lots of parody in his music videos, often by dressing up as well known celebrities and stars and making a mockery of them.

In the video for Just Lose It, Eminem dresses up like Michael Jackson in order to mimic and mock him. His nose falls off (a reference to Jackson’s plastic surgery) and he has children jumping up and down on his bed (a reference to his alleged child abuse). Eminem also dresses up like MC Hammer in the iconic trousers he wears and he even parodies his own film 8 Mile and the music video for Lose Yourself which accompanied it. Eminem’s lyrics are often offensive to other pop stars and therefore this style of video suits his persona, image and songs perfectly. His fans will find the parody funny and hopefully spread the word about the video and the silliness within it.


Blink 182 also parody boy band music videos, specifically the Backstreet Boys in their video for All the Small Things. They dress in the same clothes; dance and lip synch in the same locations but also undermine the sexiness of the boy band stars by messing with their appearance and sitting on the toilet while singing.

Another example of a parody music video is Pink’s Stupid Girls in which she dresses up as Beyonce and Jessica Simpson and imitates their music videos in order to put across her message that many female stars are silly for exploiting their sexuality in their videos. This parody has a clear message and is designed to make young women see the silliness of trying to be like certain women in the media.


A final example is the sensation Gangnam Style. This video went viral and became the most watched video on YouTube ever due to its iconic dance moves and tongue in cheek humour. Psy copies many music video conventions such as having wind and fake snow blown in his face to make him look cool and attractive but then the fake snow fills his mouth and eyes and makes it comical. The whole video is in essence mocking people who think they are Gangnam Style (wealthy, upper class) but actually are not.


Weird Al Yankovic is also known for creating parody songs and his videos also often parody the original music video of the song he is mocking. A good example of this is I’m Fat that parodies the Bad video.

What are your favourite parody music videos?

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Thursday, 18 April 2013

News stories for Starburst: Byzantium, Star Trek Into Darkness

I've just had my first and second news stories for Starburst Magazine published on the new Byzantium poster and trailer and the new Star Trek Into Darkness character posters. I'm looking forward to contributing more to the site and keeping readers up to date with horror and science fiction news. I hope you will go and check out the Byzantium news story, especially if you are a vampire, horror or Gemma Arterton fan! You can also watch the new trailer there. It all looks pretty vamp-tastic is you ask me!


And here is my second news story on the Star Trek Into Darkness character posters.

And third on Michael Bay and the TMNT reboot and Transformers 4