Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Fight Club and the Doors of Perception




These are the all singing, all dancing SPOILERS of the world
 


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch Fight Club once every six months for the next five years. Each time, keep a written record of how you felt about it – where your sympathies lay with the characters, what you felt their real motivations were, what the message of the film was. Do not read your previous entries until you’ve finished the last one. Do not read criticism or watch documentaries regarding it. Do not do anything that could fix your opinion of it moreso than it is already fixed. Do not talk about Fight Club.

I can’t think of any other film that I have interpreted so differently each time I’ve watched it. I will of course admit that how I watch it is always affected by what’s going on in my life at the time. In my opinion that’s a major part of its brilliance – and on one occasion, its downfall.


Of course, there are some themes, plot-points and nuances of characterisation that are central to the film and sometimes made quite obvious for us. Sometimes it annoys me that the third act of the film goes to such lengths to explain that Pitt’s Durden is one and the same as Norton’s unnamed character -  who I will refer to as ‘Jack’ after the subject of the first-person bodily organ narratives he finds. We could figure that for ourselves- but it leaves the question of whether or not test audiences could. I guess not, if it was necessary to include such explication.

Casting my mind back, I remember seeing a very different film for the first time when I was sixteen or seventeen. Yes, it was on VHS so it looked like crap, but that’s not what I mean. As I prejudicially believe teenagers are wont to do, I found it to be a very ‘cool’ film. It had a stylish protagonist in Durden, a twist and an intellectual, establishment-defying message to it. Naturally, I really enjoyed the anti-Capitalist idea. Now I realise of course that Durden is a cult of personality and simply cannot tolerate anything as being perceived as more important than him.


The biggest difference between my perception of the film then as opposed to now is Marla Singer. Casting my mind back, I am certain that my younger self despised Marla as a moody, fickle attention-seeker. The film does an excellent job of aligning us with Jack though his narration and his placement in the foreground of scenes involving himself, Durden and Marla. It seems that Jack constantly takes the flak from Marla for her relationship problems with Durden. His politeness is stretched to its limit and the only indication of suppressed rage is the frantic scrubbing of his toothbrush on a shirt-stain. Her flirtation and groping seem to mock him, giving a glimpse of what she has with Durden, rubbing in her prior sexual rejection of him. When she speaks of the bridesmaid’s dress she is wearing and how special it was to someone, she seems to be building a self-absorbed adolescent tragedy around herself …

… until you realise that she is of course talking to Durden and alluding to the way he actually treats her – throwing himself into other tasks to avoid any kind of post-coitus bonding and eventually ejecting her from his home as if she no longer means anything. While it is true that Marla does nothing to help herself whatever way the film is watched, on second viewing she becomes an intensely sad, sympathetic figure.


Knowing that Durden and Jack are one and the same throws many other points into sharp relief. Suddenly Durden’s revelations about being “a generation of men raised by women,” and wondering “if another woman is really what we need” become elaborate rationalisations for ignoring Marla when he isn’t boning her. An enlightened visionary becomes a selfish asshole long before the third act.

It’s not to say that Fight Club is without failings. There is some painful exposition, but at least it is brief. Where the film fails, some of the blame can be laid on the audience. Watch Fight Club disengaged after the first viewing, suffering under the assumption that all its mysteries are unravelled, and you might find it tedious. The journalist knows this, because the viewer knows this. Time and space can vastly improve this film – after being bored by it once, I left it almost two years, and then found it revelatory when I came back to it.

There is so much to discuss, but I don’t see much reason for any more glib assertions about my interpretations.

What are your experiences of Fight Club?

-          David ‘Piler Turden’ Jackson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
You can feed his despicable lust for gold buying his first novel by clicking here. 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. He recommends waiting a while for the improved second edition, because the formatting didn’t transfer properly to all devices, goddammit!
More from David M. Jackson at I Love That Film:
 
Second-Hand Stories, Second-Hand Opinions

Face It - 'The Dark Knight' is Actually Shit

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

Why I Love That Film: Aliens 

More on Fight Club:

Lots more Fight Club links
Using Critical Approaches to Study Fight Club

The Internship Review: Computer Crashers

It's hard to believe that The Internship is written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern, neither of whom work for, or have ever been employed by Google, the company that features so prominently in the film. The Internship is two hours of product placement of the most brazen kind, padded out with a story of two guys getting an internship at the mega corporation. It is completely lacking in scepticism about the company, cynically and unabashedly sharing the joys of working for Google and the power of the search engine giant to change lives.


What is even more incredible about The Internship is that Google isn't listed anywhere on the list of production companies. It apparently paid no money to feature in the movie and the idea originated with Vince Vaughn, not the Google marketing department. However being so pivotal to the plot, Google would no doubt have ensured their representation was nothing but favourable and that is where the big problems in The Internship stem from.


The final surprise of The Internship is that shock horror, I actually quite enjoyed it. Telling the story of Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) and reuniting the stars for the first time since the wonderful Wedding Crashers, The Internship follows the two salesmen as they lose their jobs and decide to give internships at Google a go. Never mind the preposterous idea that Google would give these technophobe dinosaurs the time of day, once the pair get out of the unemployment doldrums, the rest of the film takes place at Google headquarters as they join with other interns and take part in a competition to win a coveted job at the company.


The product placement is crass, monotonous and occasionally makes you cringe. They mention Search, Translate, Android, Google+ and the entire story is plotted around working at Google (and the benefits and quirky fun of it all) and the development of their (wonderful) products, even their quest for (beneficial) advertising revenue and their (helpful) help lines. While it feels integral to this story and it makes for a sweet and good natured look at working at the technological giant, it also feels like toothless propagandha and anyone with their doubts about Google and their intentions will have to grit their teeth to stop themselves from shouting at the screen.


On the other hand Vaughn and Wilson are as likeable as ever, with Vaughn in particular playing a much more sensitive and less abrasive character than usual. The comedic talents of Rose Byrne are almost completely wasted but the supporting cast of interns all get to shine in their own ways, even if the central bonding experience of the film takes place in a sleazy strip joint and the aftermath of a drunken night of debauchery.

While many comedies feel stretched at two hours, The Internship packs plenty in and won't make you keep checking your watch (or phone if that's how you tell the time, as this film suggests). There is a decent Will Ferrell cameo near the start and the end credits (even after all the rampant product placement that came before) manage to be engaging and inventive enough to sit through, even after the two hour run time.

I expected to hate The Internship despite my love of Wedding Crashers. While it does not hold a candle to that slice of comedy gold, Vaughn and Wilson pull it through with their easy charm and a fun supporting cast of Googly intern oddballs. It's just a shame that the makers had to be so in thrall to Google as there should have been a much sharper scathing satire of corporate culture lurking somewhere within and far more worth searching for.

Here is the trailer:



Recent reviews at I Love That Film:

Monsters University Review

Man of Steel Review

This is the End Review 

Fast and Furious 6 Review

21 & Over Review

Iron Man 3 Review

Olympus Has Fallen Review

Spring Breakers Review

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Monday, 24 June 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

In my mind, what J.J Abrams has done with the Star Trek franchise is nothing short of a miracle. The Star Trek of 2009 and its sequel have made space, the final frontier exciting, sexy and a bold step forward/backward. Whereas the last film was pretty much Enterprise Assemble and had to deal with bringing the crew together, Into Darkness wastes not a moment, plunging us straight into the action at warp speed and rarely slowing down.


I'm one of those people who never saw a single Star Trek film before Abrams came on board and I never really had an interest. Speaking from this perspective, Star Trek Into Darkness makes perfect sense to me. It all comes down to the central relationship between Kirk and Spock, brilliantly played by Chris Pine and particularly Zachary Quinto. Right from the opening set piece, their contradicting personalities and priorities are to the fore and the bromance sizzles with bust ups but also a deep mutual understanding.


The supporting cast are also fun though they get little to do compared to Benedict Cumberbatch's villain. Spurting monologues like a true thespian, Cumberbatch goes for grand, strutting around with steely eyes, and excels as the terrorist threatening the crew and more. John Harrison is a fearful creation with a worthy cause and he raises the dramatic stakes incredibly going from foe to (sort-of) friend to foe again.


The action and special effects are spectacular but never overwhelm in the same way as some of the more CG assisted scenes in other summer blockbusters (namely Man of Steel). All in all Abrams has nailed the reinvention and whether he chooses to return for a third Star Trek film or not, he has set the franchise up beautifully for further adventures. Let's all cross our fingers and hope that he can he can do the same for the galaxy far far away...

Recent reviews at I Love That Film:

Monsters University Review

Man of Steel Review

This is the End Review 

Fast and Furious 6 Review

21 & Over Review

Iron Man 3 Review

Olympus Has Fallen Review

Spring Breakers Review

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Monsters University Review

I'll start this by admitting I'm not a huge fan of Monsters Inc. There I said it. Toy Story, The Incredibles and Wall-E are the three pinnacles of Pixar to me. So Monsters University was not particularly appealing to me from the start. It's not that I dislike Monsters Inc, I just thought it was a wonderful film for children but lacked much for the adults in the audience.


Mike and Sulley are funny and the set pieces were fun but a sequel or a prequel would not be welcomed by me personally. Monsters University sees Mike and Sulley enrolling at the college for monsters in training, preparing to becomes Scarers and make their way out into the big bad world of terrifying little children in their sleep at night.

It is When Mikey Met Sulley if you like, the beginning of a bromance that we all know pretty much how it will end. There are references and characters from the original (beyond the central pair) who pop up playfully and the back to school coming of age vibe works quite well. The supporting cast at the frat house that Mike and Sulley join add some much needed fun after the set up focuses almost solely on Mike and provides a lack of laughs.


The story is completely predictable until a last minute shift into the real world plays brilliantly with slasher conventions in a secluded bunkhouse at a camp for little girls. The stuff that comes before it on campus is so bright and colourful, the monster design so seen-it-all-before and harmless (except Dean Hardscrabble) that when it finally gets to the really creepy stuff with Mike and Sulley becoming the hunted, it is an incredibly welcome detour.

Monsters University is heavily reliant on slapstick and the mildest of peril. It will endlessly amuse children but adults are likely to hope for more witty banter and will welcome the addition of the Oozma Kappa frat house team who steal laughs and heart from the central pair. The relationship between Mike and Sulley never feels too truly stretched but their overcoming of their personal problems provides a satisfying conclusion and ties things up nicely.
My main problem with Monsters University is the same as it was with Monsters Inc. These monsters are just too damn fluffy, cuddly and colourful for my liking. That may be the point; to show kids that monsters have hearts too and are really nothing to be scared of, but I just wish there were more monsters like the Helen Mirren voiced hideous Dean Hardscrabble out there.

Watch the trailer:



Recent reviews at I Love That Film:

Man of Steel Review

This is the End Review 

Fast and Furious 6 Review

Ruby Sparks Review

The Look of Love Review 

21 & Over Review

Iron Man 3 Review

Olympus Has Fallen Review

Spring Breakers Review

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Les Miserables at the Open Air Cinema at Hedsor House

Thanks to Marlow FM, I got to go along to see Les Miserables at an open air cinema at Hedsor House on Thursday evening. It was the first time I've ever watched a film outside in my life. 31 and I've never watched a film outdoors... can you believe it? I'm well and truly hooked now though and on the look out for more opportunities to watch films under the stars. It was an amazing evening. It certainly didn't hurt that the screening was held in the grounds of Hedsor House, a beautiful location that has been used for such films as Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut Quartet and The Golden Compass.







It took a long time for the sun to set and the weather was amazing so the film started a little behind schedule at around 9.45pm (on a school night)! Fortunately there was no rain and it stayed warm enough to be outside even as the film ended at just after midnight. There was a slight mist by the end which you could see in front of the screen and the light from the projector was gorgeous.

We got to have a little walk around the grounds before the film started and watched the sunset over the valley. Then I thought watching Les Miserables for the second time this year might be a little boring but actually I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. I was blown away by the two best songs in the film and the performances of Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne, so much so that it got me wondering about the performance and script enough to write this post.

Anyway I'd like to thank the organisers and Marlow FM for the ticket. It was a magical evening and a superb film. I hope they do it again next year and I'm now going to keep an eye out for more films being shot at Hedsor House in the future.

More from I Love That Film:

Les Misérables Review

Starburst Cover Story: The Wolverine Preview

I've been writing news stories and short stories for the Starbust Magazine website recently but this month, I also have two feature articles in the July edition of the print magazine. Not only that, but I guess you could call my The Wolverine preview the cover story seeing as it's old Wolvie that adorns the cover this month! I hope you might all consider going out and buying a copy. I've seen it on the shelves of WHSmiths this morning (and had to take a photo!)

























I have written a preview on The Wolverine and another on Pacific Rim, detailing both of their histories and journeys to the big screen. I'm hoping to write more articles for future issues. You can subscribe to Starburst Magazine and get every issue delivered to your door by clicking the link.


If you look very closely, you can just see my name in the bottom left corner of the Wolverine article above! Please, please, please go pick up a copy and enjoy the articles!

How much of a great performance comes from a great script?

Watching Les Miserables the other day for a second time, I was reminded of how truly breathtaking Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway's performances are, particularly in the Empty Chairs and I Dreamed a Dream songs. But I was also thinking that Hugh Jackman is also fantastic in his main role but none of the songs he sings are as powerful as the last two mentioned.

It got me thinking how much of a great performance comes from a great script. It seems strange to choose Les Miserables as the film to discuss but the songs are the script so why not? Do I think the best performances are during Empty Chairs and I Dreamed a Dream because those two songs are the most powerful in my opinion? Are Redmayne and Hathaway at an advantage over everyone else because those two songs capture the emotions of the whole story the best?

Is it the lyrics or the music? This is why I think so much of the performances are down to the script because those two songs have great lyrics and come at highly emotive moments of the narrative. Hathaway's Fontaine has endured all manner of awfulness and is at her absolute lowest, as is Redmayne's Marius. She has lost her job, her pride, her hair, teeth and freedom and he has lost all his friends. And then Marius belts out these lyrics:

There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.

Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow'
And tomorrow never came.



And Fontaine gets the immortal lines:

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving



It's all too much. Just reading them makes me sad! Do actors get a head start with a script/lyrics like these?  Of course they do! I'm not dismissing Hathaway or Redmayne's work because I'm sure two less talented actors could have done far worse at conveying the emotions of the songs but still, I wonder if the reason I don't come away from Les Miserable banging on about Hugh Jackman (who carries most of the film) is because he doesn't get two songs as good as those above.

I a quick Google search of great movie performances shows up:









These are mostly very modern but it does make me wonder about the strength of the scripts that gave birth to the magnificent performances. I don't wish to take anything away from these actors but would they have created such brilliant performances without such great scripts?

On the other hand can a great actor turn a crappy script into something that sounds like Shakespeare? What do you think?

More questions at I Love That Film:

What makes a Movie Icon?

What is the best of Ingmar Bergman?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

First year at Filmoria

On June 10th 2012 I wrote my first piece for Filmoria. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that has afforded me no end of brilliant opportunities. I started out by contributing to the Film Song of the Day series by writing about The Pixies' Where is My Mind? in Fight Club. I've since moved on to loads of news stories, reviews, features and interviews. Here are some of my highlights of writing for Filmoria:

I've written loads of features and contributed sections to many more but here are my personal favourites:


Danny Boyle Retrospective
Roger Ebert Tribute

I've written 33 news stories over the past year covering new posters, new pictures, casting announcements, new trailers and plenty of rumours. Here are some of my favourites:


I've written 51 reviews for Filmoria to date... that's an average of 1 a week pretty much! Some of the best are:

My Brother the Devil
The Dark Knight Rises

A Good Day to Die Hard

The most exciting part of writing for Filmoria has probably been the interviews and red carpet reports I have been given the opportunity to do. As much as just getting to see a film early is exciting, it's even better if I get to chat to a star or director as well. These are the biggest and best interviews I've conducted for Filmoria so far:

The Last Exorcism 2 director Ed Gass-Donelly

Expect much, much more in the future! And Filmoria are currently looking for more news writers to join the team, so if you are interested, get in contact!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Best Battle Speeches in the Movies

The day has finally come. After ages of trying to get something on to The Guardian website, they have published my top 5 battle speeches as part of their Clip Joint series.

Here is the article on movie battle speeches. I hope you like my choices and don't forget to leave a comment on your favourite eve of battle speeches. There was so many to choose from, I found it hard to stick to just five!

I'm not sure any of these speeches would motivate me to go to war but they are very motivational and epic nonetheless. I hope you will all look out for my next clip joint article which will hopefully be published in late July.

200,000 page views

Another landmark, 200,000 page views! Thanks to everyone who stops by, re-tweets, contributes and helps spread the word about I Love That Film.


It was only three months ago I was announcing the second year birthday of this blog and the massive amount of 150,000 page views. So it took me 2 years to get to 150,000 and only three months to get another 50,000 more. That's got to be a good sign that things are going well despite the increasingly rare comments I get on the blog.

To be fair, I'm sure the decline in comments is down to my own lack of commenting around the blogosphere. I used to be here, there and everywhere but I've made a very conscious decision to cut down on reading in order to spend more time writing. It's sad and I know I'm losing out on the community aspect of blogging but I still have regular readers and many blogs I love to visit but I'm also writing more than ever which is really why I'm here.

I'm so incredibly desperate to turn this into a career but as I have no experience in journalism, am not very good at the finding work and finding out who editors are and finding out who pays and all that sort of stuff.... but I'm working on it and things are happening... slowly.

At least the blog looks a little better than it did in the early days. I'm still no technical or design genius but at least I'm getting the hang of a few things and the blog looks ok and it's now a bit easier to search for and find things (I hope).

Anyway thanks so much to anyone who reads this! I assume you are a regular or semi-regular and thanks so much for helping me out by reading, sharing, contributing, commenting or even just communicating with me through Twitter. Your support is essential so thank you!

The LEGO Movie Trailer

Superman and Batman together in one movie at last! It's the LEGO movie. It's got Will Arnett as Batman and all sorts of other superheroes, ninja turtles and popular culture characters popping up in little yellow brick form. Will Ferrel, Morgan Freeman, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson are also on voice duties in what promises to be an epic or very small proportions.

It is directed by the guys who gave us Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street so although the trailer is unlikely to make you laugh out loud, there is at least some potential for plenty of silliness to please the kids and witty banter for the adults.


What I'm really sad about is the decision to go with digital animation over stop motion animation. The internet is filled with brilliant (and many not so brilliant) stop motion animations lovingly crafted by people in their bedrooms using the little Lego blocks and figures. However the makers have gone for what must be an easier (correct me if I'm wrong) option of digitally creating the world and characters. I'm sure it will lose of the charm of many amateur efforts in the internet.

I guess they are going for the full Brickbuster effect to maximise the appeal but it's a shame that stop motion isn't the format of choice for The LEGO Movie makers. Either way, let's hope that the film can be as imaginative and fun as the product itself has been for generations of kids since the interlocking blocks first emerged over 60 years ago. Here is the trailer:



More trailers at I Love That Film:


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues



The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolverine

Pacific Rim

Man of Steel and The Desolation of Smaug

Second-Hand Stories, Second-Hand Opinions



CAUTION: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS, ELEMENTS OF SATIRE AND VILLAINS IN SWIVELLY CHAIRS


A young hero, uncertain of his abilities, is one day convinced that he is serving the wrong masters and beliefs. His saviour from servitude is a woman of high status, perhaps even a princess, who leads him into the tutelage or protection of a wise figure, often male, who leads from the front. On the way, they acquire sidekicks who provide comedy through their selfish actions. They will also meet someone who competes for the princess’ attentions. There will also be an oracular figure, retired from the Great Fight , who does not believe that the hero is spiritually ready for his journey. At some point, the older male wisdom figure will sacrifice himself to protect the hero. This gives the young hero the impetus needed to face the Big Bad. But it turns out that the Big Bad is not so different from the hero, and is really just in the service of a Bigger Bad in a Big (Often Swivelly) Chair.



What movie am I talking about? Is it Star Wars? Is it The Matrix? Am I maybe talking about the Legend of King Arthur? Hell, even Austin Powers fulfils many of these criteria quite knowingly.

Actually, I’m talking about all and none of them. What I’m really doing is gearing up to troll people’s glib opinions about the film Avatar, a perfectly well-executed movie that it’s just oh-so-fashionable to hate because – drumroll please … “It’s just Pocahontas / Dances with Wolves / Ferngully in Space, and that makes it awful!”
 
… and then of course I ask the utterer specific questions about those three films and they blush because they’ve never even bloody seen a single one of them. Yes, the story of Avatar is recycled – but so is the story of any of your favourite big event movies. 

What’s genuinely criminal is that the above opinion is recycled. You heard some beard-stroking, pretentious pseudo-intellectual say it and now you parrot it to bask in the reflected cleverness.

But you are not clever. It took the fact that they are both set in a jungle / primitive wilderness for you to recognise it was the same story, and you utterly failed to notice that all these other ‘wildly original and creative films’ are the same story wearing a selection of different suits.

Is a Ferrari rubbish because it has four wheels and so does a Lada? No. It has its own specific set of merits and faults; so does Avatar. Over at Indiewire you will see how we pre-judged Avatar by its faintest resemblance to other movies and began deriding it before we even saw it. So… if a film is rubbish because it resembles another in some way, doesn’t it mean that those ten films all resemble eachother too and are thus utter garbage? Including Return of The King and District 9? If you must judge a film, judge it by its own strengths and weakness. Glib comparisons are a poor shortcut to actual thinking, and it’s an embarrassment to everyone with their own individual taste and judgment –which are easily perverted by popular opinion as I will cover in the section Cultural Edifice Complex later.

Of course you are likely to be scratching your head and saying, “hang on – how the hell is The Matrix the same as Star Wars? And how does Austin Powers fit in here?” The more astute and well-versed movie-nerds among you may even be guffawing at my omission of Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress – the movie which George Lucas openly admits he stole the entire basic plotline of Star Wars from. Neither of those films is particularly dreadful, by the way.

There are so many comparisons and parallels that this article could take forever, so I’ll tackle the basic ones.

Let’s look at the heroes first. In Avatar, Jake Sully has lost his legs and also bought into the belief that he is as dumb as a sack of bricks. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is crippled by his Aunt and Uncle’s insistence that he stay behind and help with the harvest.

What are they both doing? Well, Sully serves an evil military industrial complex and soon learns that a bunch of fiercely independent tribes-people of a different race have a ‘better world-view’. Luke whines that he wants to join the fleet academy, an organisation run by the evil Galactic Empire. But, of course, he ends up with the Rebel Alliance – a collection of fiercely independent different races.

Austin Powers doubts his mojo (the Force, but for sex?) and, considering how values have changed, doubts he is serving the rights organisation . Anderson / Neo in The Matrix leads an equally dreary existence serving a mean-spirited software firm.

All of them, eventually, are contacted by a woman of high status (Leaia, Netyri, Yuki, Trinity)who leads them away. Of course, all the Big Bads in Swivelly Chairs play on these insecurities during the denouement of each story.


Sully meets Dr Grace Augustine – a wise, older woman with a confrontational streak who tries to teach him the ‘right way’. Morpheus is the wise older man with a confrontational streak who frees Neo’s mind. Obi-Wan Kenobi, General Makabe, Merlin … you get the picture, right? Oh, yeah, they all either come under threat or die to help the hero mature. Kenobi lets Vader destroy his mortal body. Morpheus throws himself into Agent Smith’s path to save Neo. Pocahontas’ father is shot at by Ratcliffe. It’s all the same junk.

Figures senior to the martial wise man, such as Yoda or the Oracle from The Matrix, dismiss the hero’s ability and becomes a boundary.

Neo becomes more machine-like, and Smith becomes more human. Vader is Luke’s dad, and still has good within him, whereas Luke brushes with the Dark Side in their final duel. Colonel Quaritch has strong loyalty and duty motives to mankind, much like Sully’s acquired motives toward the Na’vi. As Dr Evil says to Austin Powers, “we’re not so different you and I.” Having struggled against Number Two, Powers faces Dr Evil, at which point Number Two refuses to kill Powers. Vader refuses to kill Luke. Smith cannot kill Neo but must instead become one with him. The Ultimate Swivel Chair Baddies – The Architect, Emperor Palpatine, Parker Selfridge, Governor Ratcliffe, Jaffar from Aladdin for heaven’s sake … all of them rule primarily through sinister intellect and social authority rather than naked force. It’s all eerily similar.

 








 The more I think about it, the more films look the same. In Robocop, an ordinary man undergoes a transformation that gives him superhuman powers, breaks from the directives of his makers when reminded of who he really is by a woman, and faces off against a Big Bad who is backed by a Bigger Bad in a Swivelly Chair. A few years later, Verhoeven made Total Recall, a film in which –wait for it – an ordinary man undergoes a transformation to a superhuman agent, runs into a woman called Melina who shows him the truth way and introduces him to Quatto, your all-in-one wiseman and oracle figure. Along the way he fights a Big Bad who is backed by a Bigger Bad in a Swivelly Chair. In both films, the swivel chaired mastermind is played by Ronnie Cox! To make things even better, both the Big Bads are balding and … holy shit! In Return of the Jedi, when Vader’s mask is removed … HE’S BALD AS WELL! In Hook, it turns out Captain Hook is bald under the curly wig! Oh my god these films are all such derivative garbage! WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE JUST STOP THE BALDNESS!



If you’re going to be critical of Avatar because of what it shares with Dances With Wolves or more usually Pocahontas, you may as well attack it for being similar in terms of its basic plot movements and character tropes to The Matrix, that in turn for being a rip off of Star Wars, that in turn for being a rip-off of The Hidden Fortress. Django Unchained has a very similar formula. That formula is known as ‘monomyth’ and it’s been observed for decades. Just Google it. Then go to tvtropes.org to learn more about how everything is exactly the same.


…Or you can attack Avatar for its numerous actual faults. For example, Cameron fails in making us sympathise with the Na'vi because they themselves are a bunch of hypocritical, racist, discriminatory, fickle and deceitful assholes who are also dumb enough to think that just because Sully comes back with a bigger dinosaur that he can be trusted. I mean really - if the backstabber at work drives in tomorrow with a Mercedes and not the clapped out Ford they are riding in today, do you trust them more? Nope. The Direct Agency Villain, Quaritch, is the only character in the movie who is honest about his intentions, consistently risks his own life for his loyalties, and keeps his promises. Avatar should be renamed The Assassination of Miles Quaritch by the Coward Jake Sully. It’s really a tragedy about how a noble man is laid low by a traitor who just wants to get laid. A most misunderstood film.

The question still remains – why is it that people will routinely launch such a shallow, second-hand attack on Avatar yet often aggrandise stories that are – apart from the most superficial trappings – exactly the same as it? We are all suffering under a …

Cultural Edifice Complex

To an extent we all want to be seen as clever due to where our tastes lie. This makes us very easily swayed to conform to the views of culturally recognised Beard Strokers, and immensely hypocritical to boot.
 
For example, James Cameron made it very clear before the release of Avatar that he was deliberately referencing Golden Age sci-fi from the 60s and 70s, right down to the ludicrous ‘unobtainium’. He clearly set out to create a visually engaging piece of pulp sci-fi, with gorgeous design and bold characters. Smartness wasn’t part of the remit. He succeeded. Yet we attack him for his intentions, still deride the naming conventions, and whinge about how derivative his work is.

Quentin Tarantino does EXACTLY THE SAME DAMNED THING and we hail him as a ‘genius’ for being referential about old exploitation cinema. Perhaps Cameron’s only mistake was not to lay it on thick enough? Speaking of laying it on thick, what the hell was going on with the last ten minutes of Django Unchained? As soon as Waltz stops playing an active role, switch off your TV. You’ll save yourself a sudden agonising switch to stagey, pantomime acting, random silly dressage stunts that don’t fit in with anything that happened before, and what I’m hoping is simply heavy handed irony in which Django loses his Nietzschean battle and basically becomes the white man.

The reason for this disparity in our tastes is simply reputation. Critics give a film-maker or individual film a reputation for something and (so long as they stick to the famed feature) they can do no wrong. Despite being a turgid, slow, listless, preachy, Sociology-textbook bothering mess, The Dark Knight goes unchallenged as an ‘awesome film’ by many. Their reason? “Dunno. Just an awesome film.” You give them reasons why it isn’t and you are shouted down as a tasteless philistine who just didn’t understand the movie. The Joker’s famous question, “why so serious?” has been answered. It’s because people will buy any tripe if it’s packaged correctly.

The truth is these people are just upset that you blew the game. You proved them wrong, you showed that they are sheep following a trendy opinion. That made them angry because they wanted to look clever for liking that film, and so they attack you rather than explain reasons why the film or director is actually any good.

We make statues of directors and palaces of films; the effect becomes like being an English person saying something against the Monarchy or soldiers serving in the Middle East. A knee-jerking tide of tribal buffoons descends upon you with cries of “How dare you! These are fundamental institutions without which our society would crumble!”

No, they aren’t. Many republics, such as America, do just fine. Japan copes on the world stage without an extra-national army. They all have their faults and merits, which other examples of the type can easily fill in for. A film not directed by Tarantino or Nolan can do just fine without. Just make sure you’re examining the real faults and merits.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR


David M. Jackson sat in a big swivelly chair cackling maniacally as he wrote this article. When he isn’t sending his balding minions to confront youthful, insecure heroes he teaches and sometimes writes in exchange for Unobtanium (which money might as well be in Britain’s current economy).

You can feed his despicable lust for gold buying his first novel by clicking here.

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.
 He recommends waiting a while for the improved second edition, because the formatting didn’t transfer properly to all devices, goddammit!

More from David M. Jackson at I Love That Film:

Why I Love Aliens

Face It - 'The Dark Knight' is Actually Shit

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Brand New Full Trailer

Brick, Champ, Brian and Ron are back, back, back in the Anchorman 2 trailer. Their legend became but a whisper told by the trees apparently and now nine years after the original, they return in a new decade to face the challenges of the 80s. When Ron and the gang start working on a 24 hour news channel, who knows what will happen? Check out the brand new poster and trailer below:


What we do know is Brick finds a kindred spirit in Kristen Wiig's not very bright lady friend and though the trailer doesn't show them; expect cameos from the likes of Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson and Sacha Baron Cohen.


Moving on from the rampant sexism of the seventies, Ron looks like he's found another social group to target. His dim-witted attempts to break down racial barriers at the end of this trailer look set to lose him a few fans in the African American community but will they see beyond the insults to the noble heart beneath that salon quality hair? Only time will tell...



What do you think? Will this match the original for laughs?

Here's the teasers from a while back if you missed them:





More trailers at I Love That Film:



The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolverine

Pacific Rim

Man of Steel and The Desolation of Smaug

Monday, 17 June 2013

More news on This is England 90: The Story, the Themes, the Musical, the End?

Those lucky buggers over at Digital Spy have been chatting to Shane Meadows, no doubt doing the rounds in order to promote his Stone Roses documentary Made of Stone. But the wonderfully naughty folks at Digital Spy managed to sneak in plenty of questions and got some juicy bits of info about This is England 90, the follow up to the This is England and the two TV series TIE 86 and 88.


Meadows confirmed in the interview that TIE 90 will likely be the end for the troubled youths on screens with no more plans to continue their stories. Meadows wisely says "I don't want to end up ruining it, but I love the cast." Hopefully he is joking when he added "This Is England the musical? Who knows!"

However if that makes you feel ever so slightly sad or suicidal, do not despair just yet as Meadows is clearly going to have a hard time letting these characters go (as I'm sure all us fans are) "It's really hard to put down when you have so much fun doing something, so I hope I don't push it too far and I hope '90 is maybe a full stop, but I daren't say forever."




Digital Spy also asked Meadows about the themes and he gave a great little insight into what the characters will be up to when we see them again in 1990. "The younger members of the crew, it becomes their time. In This Is England '90 it becomes about Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) and Kelly (Chanel Cresswell) and Trev (Danielle Watson) and Gadget (Andrew Ellis) actually getting into the Roses and getting into that scene and going clubbing and going raving and all of that. They sort of go off on that journey. Combo comes out of prison, he's served his time for manslaughter, and actually starts working in the community and the rehabilitation of his character begins. Woody and Milky set up a scooter shop. Woody finally gets out of that awful Mr Squire's factory that he's been working at, and him and Milky become really strong again. Everyone starts to do slightly separate things, but it's still got that beautiful unity that the others have all had. So, I've got the stories all lined up in my head, but I just need to get them down on paper."

 
Anyone else notice the glaring exception here? What about Lol? Meadows either didn't mention her or Digital Spy are holding something back from us (I doubt it's the latter). Vicky McClure has become something of the star of TIE 86 and 88 with a heartbreaking, BAFTA winning and brilliant performance as Lol. Hopefully two years on from TIE 88, Lol and Woody have managed to stay together or is that too much to hope?


If the younger characters are going raving, will it be all smiles, pills and happiness or do any of the characters go too far and get deep into addiction and misery? Combo's arc continues to be the most potentially interesting. Going from racist, messed up thug to saviour of Lol and sympathetic prisoner, will he now become a real hero to the youth and maintain that bond with Shaun? It's certainly going to be a fantastic watch with astounding performances but will it really be the end?
 
All I know is I can't wait. Are you excited for TIE 90?
 
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