Thursday, 27 November 2014

This is not the Star Wars The Force Awakens Trailer

As that title suggests quite forcefully (geddit?), this is most definitely not the trailer that will be emerging tomorrow for Star Wars Ep VII The Force Awakens. Excuse the crass bit of racial stereotyping at the end. Other than that, this little video is a real eye opener. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Horrible Bosses 2 Review

Everything you need to know about Horrible Bosses 2 is in the hysterical opening scene. Nick, Kurt and Dale have overcome the difficulties they had with their former horrible bosses and are setting up their own business together with their patented product the Shower Buddy. Appearing on a daytime TV show, Charlie Day is sweaty, high pitched and nervy. Sudeikis is confident, idiotic and mouthy, while Bateman is the usual straight guy trying to keep his two friends under some semblance of control.

The opening scene sets the tone for the onslaught of jokes to come, mostly based around sexuality, race and gender. First they make themselves look gay, then they make themselves look racist and finally they make every hot female look like a target for a sexual conquest. The only thing that saves Horrible Bosses from being hideously offensive to everyone who isn't a straight white man is that the three straight white men at the centre of all this are the most moronic bunch of man-children you will ever meet.

So when they meet with Christoph Waltz's oily businessman Bert Hanson and his slick son Rex (Chris Pine) to set up a distribution deal for their Shower Buddy enterprise, it is highly unsurprising when it all goes wrong. Horrible Bosses 2 might be saying something critical about the ruthless capitalist mindset but more than anything, it is demonstrating just how unrelentingly stupid a trio of ordinary guys can be. There are pops at the NSA and the American Dream being Made in China, but really the funnies are brought by the boys' banter, and more often than not, the sight of the three men all talking, yelling or screaming over the top of each other.

Deciding to kidnap Chris Pine in order to extort money from Waltz's bigwig, the script just about manages to justify cramming in cameos from former bosses Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston, giving little for the former to do but considerably beefing up Aniston's presence and amping up her wild side. Chris Pine unleashes his charisma to teeth whitening effect, bravely attempting to hold his own when up against the unstoppable silliness of Sudeikis, Day and Bateman.

Horrible Bosses 2 is like its central characters; loud, obnoxious, incredibly dimwitted, but strangely loveable. There are many big laughs, even if some of the jokes get repetitive and almost every scene seems to end with the trio bellowing over each other. Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are effortlessly funny guys and the script zips along aided by some creative directing from Sean Anders. If you're not on board by the outtakes (which unless you've lost your funny bone, you probably will be), stick around in the credits to see just how much fun the cast were having while making the movie. They had a lot of laughs even if you didn't.

What did you think of the film?

More from I Love That Film:

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London Film Festival 2014

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

Videos from I Love That Film

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Jurassic World Trailer Breakdown

Here's my breakdown of the Jurassic World Trailer. 

There's going to be kids and they are going to be back in jeopardy. The funny Mummy dishes out some sage advice to teen Zach and that kid from Iron Man 3 who is playing what I assume is Zach's  younger brother Gray.

It seems that tourists are now heading to Isla Nublar by the boatload and the tour now includes driving, canoeing and strange bubble vehicle looking things to get right up close and personal with a range of dinosaurs.

There is also the nice nod to executive producer Steven Spielberg's past form with predators of the sea as one of the big attractions on the island seems to be feeding time of the huge underwater creatures lurking in the depths and chomping on sharks. That's quite a splash!

Bryce Dallas Howard is doing the silly scientist bit by playing God and genetically modifying dinosaurs. She's not just making them all female or anything like that. This time, they are really messing with nature and making all new hybrid dinosaurs.

Chris Pratt is the down to Earth voice of reason suggesting that cooking up dinosaurs probably wasn't the best idea in the world. He's quickly proved right as the markings on the wall suggest something has broken free. It's a bit of a shame really as I could quite happily spend two hours watching this functioning futuristic theme park at work and not need everybody to start getting ripped up by rampaging dinos.

Everything from helmets to those bubble vehicles suddenly seems to be getting smashed and then there's a lot of talk about how 'she' will kill anything that moves. I guess they aren't talking about Bryce Dallas Howard. Chris Pratt is running from big dino feet and calling for the island to be evacuated but hopefully it's all too late and mayhem ensues as those kids from the start of the trailer (and everyone else) start running for their lives and Pratt rides a motorbike through a herd of what look like they could be nasty velociraptors. Game on!

Annoyingly, there is still no sign of Jake Johnson. He is still in the film isn't he?

What do you think of the trailer? Notice anything beyond my obvious breakdown here?

Trailers at I Love That Film

Reviews at I Love That Film

London Film Festival 2014

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

Videos from I Love That Film

Monday, 24 November 2014

How long until The Inbetweeners reunite for a third film

So the The Inbetweeners have apparently officially called it a day after seeing their TV series and two films soar to surprising heights. The Channel 4 show about four British teens in their final years of school was a hit but I doubt anyone could have imagined how well the films would do both in the UK and to a lesser extent overseas. Film4 Productions will undoubtedly be gutted that the profitable gross out comedy can't keep being squeezed for a few more films worth but though the cast might be adamant, I bet there will come a time when they return to their old roles.

The Monty Python guys admitted needing the money, Indiana Jones had a crystal skull to find and Bill and Ted will soon be back as old timers in a third film. Nothing stays dead anymore. Rage Against The Machine, McBusted, Take That. Everything comes back whether we like it or not. So even if it takes 20 years, I bet The Inbetweeners will be back. Start placing your bets on how long it will take.

The cast will likely be in their 40s and struggling with parenthood so there will still be plenty of room for poop jokes. Or maybe (depending on the success of the next Ghostbusters film) they will all be even older and the guys will now have teen daughters. That way, the film will spin off into another TV series as The Inbetweeners gets rebooted with an all female cast. However they make it happen, I guarantee it WILL happen. Surely actors Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and Joe Thomas will run out of money sooner or later and the whopping great pay cheque dangling in front of their face will look more appealing than it does currently.

Let's just hope that when it does come, The Inbetweeners 3 does better than the US version of the TV series.

What do you think? Have you had enough of The Inbetweeeners?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Jurassic World Teaser Trailer

 Jurassic World has a tiny little teaser! UPDATE: AND NOW HERE IS THE REAL TEASER!

The teaser for the teaser was the first bit of footage to come from the brand new futuristic dinosaur theme park. Love 'em or hate 'em, the studios think these silly little teaser sting things are here to stay. Trailers for trailers, teasers for teasers; it's all becoming the norm for mega blockbusters with money to throw around and franchise fans chomping at the bit for their first real taste of the films.

As we enter the new Jurassic World gates, it is clear visitors are on tracks, almost like the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios. The park is up and running, the dinosaurs are roaming and the guests are floating around in futuristic bubble vehicles. Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt are clearly in love with each other but also looking a bit moody. She's in front of computers in a white coat and he's in park ranger type clothes. Shame there is no sign of Jake Johnson yet to cheer them both up a bit.

Even the teensy weensy bit of the piano theme is a giant tease. So until Friday here it is...

What do you think? Excited?

Trailers at I Love That Film

Reviews at I Love That Film

London Film Festival 2014

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

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Why I Love Jack O'Connell: Top 5 Films

When an actor has been picked by director Shane Meadows to feature in a film like This is England, you know they are bound to be special. Strangely though, the15 year old Jack O'Connell only had a very minor role in that British classic before getting to really show his skills in later films like Eden Lake and many more. So even though This is England is possibly the best film on O'Connell's CV, you will not find it on this list of his five finest performances.

With Angelina Jolie's Unbroken on the verge of release and likely to see O'Connell's star go stratopheric, here is a look back at what I consider to be his best five performances so far. Expect Unbroken (in which he plays Olympian and POW survivor Louis Zamperini) to be the film to send this guy straight to super stardom.

5. Eden Lake

The first of O'Connell's properly nasty little shits. He seemed to savour the nastiness with every line spat and every smirk and sneer coming naturally to this swaggering young actor. Tormenting Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender to death, Brett is a hooded terror; the Daily Mail's worst nightmare. 

4. Tower Block

O'Connell delivers a towering performance in a pretty decent low budget British sniper thriller. He's an awesomely unlikeable anti-hero who steals the limelight from the cast around him.

3. The Liability

O’Connell might have been in danger of being typecast, with his wide-boy posturing becoming a little familiar here but he manages to keep Adam very sympathetic, aided hugely by a strong script and some great banter with Tim Roth. It is another of his sure to be star making turns with Adam being a laugh out loud presence in the film.

2. '71

O’Connell has far less of his usual swagger here; more of a limp actually. It’s arguably his best performance, turning that usual confidence into a cowering, wounded and terrified boy out of his depth. Gone is the hard lad, replaced with something more sincere and though the camera is often pinned to his face, he rarely speaks and gives little away. In fact, by the end of ‘71, we still know little of Gary Hook, but enough to care that he gets home.

1. Starred Up

Jack O’Connell is frequently a Jack-the-Lad type character and this is never more true than in Starred Up. He even has 'Jack the Lad' tattooed on his arm and his sneer, swagger and savagery all attest to the boy’s unflinching desire to do damage. After being brought in to an adult prison, he is stripped and processed. Silent for the first ten minutes of the film, he might appear an unproblematic prisoner. But alone in his cell, he goes about setting himself up with makeshift (and terrifying) weapons and ensuring that when he is attacked, he will be ready. He is a caged animal; cornered, grunted at by the guards, dismissed or threatened by other prisoners but totally unafraid to fight his way out of any corner by any means necessary. O'Connell is riveting and it is one of the best performances of 2014. It will be interesting to see if he can top it with Unbroken.

What is your favourite Jack O'Connell performance?

More from I Love That Film:

 Why I Love Jake Gyllenhaal: Top 5 Films

 Why I Love Cloverfield 

 Why I Love The Hunger Games 

 Why I love Sundance Film Festival

 Why I Love Titanic: Part 1

 Why I Love Aliens

Why I love Sacha Baron Cohen

The Rise and Rise of Jack O'Connell: From This is England to Unbroken

In case you hadn’t noticed, Jack O’Connell is about to go mega-star massive. His next film appearance will be in Angelina Jolie’s second film as director, Unbroken. This is the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete turned military man and plane crash survivor who then survived years of torture as a prisoner of war. Zamperini is an incredible man with an unbelievable life story and Jolie has plucked the relatively unknown (at least in the US) O’Connell to bring Zamperini to life in a film that is sure to gobble Oscar nominations in 2015.

Angelina Jolie Unbroken

Angelina Jolie

I’ve had my eye on Jack O’Connell for a while now, even if his career to date had been filled with an alarming amount of tough guy thugs. I can’t say I noticed him or paid any particular attention to him way back in one of my favourite films This is England but he is there and the performance is notable as O’Connell’s Pukey isn’t his usual brand of wideboy. O’Connell’s character has a particularly terrifying encounter with Stephen Graham’s menacing racist Combo when O’Connell dares to challenge his beliefs.

this is england jack o connell

O’Connell had many roles in British TV from The Bill through Waterloo Road, Wire in the Blood and Skins but it was the double whammy of Eden Lake and Harry Brown that cemented his status as a go-to-geezer for low-budget British filmmakers. In both these films, but particularly Eden Lake he got to play terrifyingly horrible little bastards; becoming incredibly memorable as the kind of hooded monster that the media was always banging on about as the use of the word ‘chav’ became acceptable in the tabloid press. Banging heads with Michael Fassbender and Michael Caine, Jack O’Connell managed to easily hold his own with these older and more experienced acting greats.

Eden Lake clip

O’Connell was then given bigger parts in the likes of little known films such as Tower Block and The Liability. They may be small films but O’Connell’s swaggering performances were bigger and better than the films he was in. Playing the hoodlum was a speciality and O’Connell could have easily been stuck by typecasting positioning him as a loudmouth loutish lad for life but then he was delivered a couple of really interesting roles to start flexing his acting muscles with.

Tower Block Trailer

The Liability Trailer

While a small but notable role in 300: Rise of an Empire allowed him to show off a six pack and likely take a tidy paycheque, it was his performances in the excellent Starred Up  and '71 that should really have seen him become a massive star in 2014. As young convict Eric Love in Starred Up , O’Connell got to face off with Ben Mendelsohn as his jailbird father but also show a fascinating vulnerability beneath the bravado. Similarly, in '71 his usual swagger was replaced by a limp as O’Connell’s soldier spends most of the film injured, scared and running for his life from the IRA in Belfast.

Starred Up Trailer

I’d recommend any of these films, particularly just to watch O’Connell at work. His rise to the top has been filled with great performances but Unbroken looks set to be the one that really puts him on the international map. 2014 has already been an exceptional year for the star but it will be crowned by the true life story of horror and hope that Jolie has in bringing to big screens on Boxing Day. Don’t be surprised if O’Connell is up for Best Actor in 2015 awards season. He’s already earned it.

Unbroken Trailer

Still here? What is your favourite performance from Jack O'Connell?

Trailers at I Love That Film

Reviews at I Love That Film

London Film Festival 2014

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

Videos from I Love That Film

Thursday, 20 November 2014

New Releases of the Week: Mockingjay, Homesman, What We Do in the Shadows

There is a bit of something for everyone in cinemas this week. Big blockbuster fans have smart and bleak YA adaptation The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, those looking for somehting far more serious but equally interesting should try The Homesman and anyone after silliness in spades should give What We Do in the Shadows a chance.

Vampires, westerns, science fiction and mockumentary all in one week! 

If none of those tickle your fancy, then there is always the James Brown biopic Get On Up.

Here are links to my reviews of this week's releases in cinemas:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 at Starburst Magazine

The Homesman at Tastic Film which I got to see at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

What We Do in the Shadows 

I'd love to recommend one of the smaller two films here that don't have the marketing budget of  the Hunger Games franchise but if I could only see one of these in the cinema, I'm afraid it would definitely be Mockingjay Part 1. The Homesman is a depressing watch and What We Do in the Shadows is bit hit and miss but all three of these films this week are really worth watching.

You can also catch me talking more about these films on Amazing Radio on Friday afternoon with Dani Charlton soon after midday.

Will you be seeing any of these in the cinema?

What We Do in the Shadows Review

Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are three vampires living together in a flat share with their 8000 year old housemate Petyr. Attempting to cope with modern life in New Zealand is a bit of a struggle for these out of touch and lost in time bloodsuckers. When a documentary crew decides to take the unenviable task of capturing the vampires’ preparations for the annual undead get together known as The Unholy Masquerade, things start to unravel.

These vampires are hilariously having to deal with the ordinary trials of sharing a flat; paying the rent, doing the bloody dishes and trying to socialise in the local nightclubs. However, they also have to catch their prey, drink their blood and avoid too many run-ins with the gang of werewolves that also roam around their town.

Don’t worry though; even with vampires facing off against werewolves, this is a million miles away from Twilight. When the 8000 year old mute Petyr who lives in the basement turns ordinary 20-something year old guy Nick into a vampire, the more experienced vamps must help Nick to adjust to his new life as an immortal fanged creature of the night. In turn, Nick invites his very much not-dead-mate Stu to hang out with the vampires so that he can help them to learn more about the ways of the modern world.

What We Do in the Shadows is a little hit and miss. The mock-documentary format has been done to death from This is Spinal Tap to The Office but it still manages to throw up plenty of laughs here. The extraordinary elements of the vampires is constantly undercut by their talking to camera and worrying about trivial things. There are plenty of awkward moments as the vampires are revealed to be little more than bickering manchildren, completely trapped in their old ways but always facing a world moving on without them. Though the central trio range from 183 to 862 years old, they are still just silly, selfish and narcissistic little boys.  

When the young Nick and his mate Stu come into their life, it shakes things up, particularly as Nick runs around telling people he is a vampire (attracting the attentions of a vampire hunter) and Stu remains very much undead. That’s it as far as plot goes. What We Do in the Shadows is much more about characters and giving the conventions associated with vampires as much of a ripping as possible. 

These vampires hilariously fight with werewolves, have troubles getting ready for nights out without being able to see their reflections and even fight amongst themselves by turning into bats and batting heads. Their frequent references to vampire films of the past such as The Lost Boys, Blade and Twilight will undoubtedly delight fans of the genre. 

When it’s funny, it is really funny. However, not all the jokes puncture the jugular, meaning What We Do in the Shadows is likely to remain in the shadows and unseen by a wide audience. Still, with this, Only Lovers Left Alive and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night all being released this year, anyone worried that Twilight and Dracula Untold had driven stakes through the heart of decent vampires film should breathe a little sigh of relief.

More from I Love That Film:

What We Do in the Shadows Trailer

More reviews from I Love That Film

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Why I Love Cloverfield

There is a lot of nonsense in Cloverfield. Beyond the fact that a giant alien monster creature lands in Manhattan and trashes the entire city, there are also a great deal of puzzling narrative missteps. The story might have its flaws and the characters are not much to write home about but this is a film where style is king and wow is it a breathless ride.

Director Matt Reeves created something truly visceral, immediate and immersive. If a monster did land in Manhattan and someone was there to film it, this is what it would be like. It clearly borrows (some would argue highly insensitively) from the horrific amateur videos of 9/11 that were broadcast on the news, in documentaries and have now found their homes on YouTube. The destruction of buildings and iconic landmarks, dust covered streets and people, and the emergency services seeming completely out of their depth are all recognisable elements from the handheld home videos of people who grabbed their cameras on September 11th 2001.

Found footage films often have a problem with believability despite their aesthetics being designed to convince you of their veracity. The main problem is that no one believes that a character would keep filming when faced with imminent danger and especially the very real prospect of their own demise. However, this is another area where Cloverfield excels. In giving the duty of camera operating to funny guy Hud, the audience can totally buy in to the idea that this guy just wants to keep filming. First he is reluctant when offered the job of documenting the leaving party of Rob. Then he quickly finds it fun and assumes the responsibility that has been handed to him. Even after the party is rudely interrupted by a giant monster tearing off the head of the Statue of Liberty and throwing it down a street, Hud decides it is still his duty to document the events in which he finds himself a participant.

His continued filming is completely believable. In light of all the videos from 9/11, we know that people desire to film and share this kind of extraordinary footage. Like Hud says, people WILL want to see how it all went down. His reactions from behind the camera feel real. He screams, repeats his cries to God over and over again, and his confusion and fear are constantly palpable. His filming is not the work of a calm professional but instead the haphazard flailing of a terrified individual.

Like Heather from The Blair Witch Project who was determined to keep making that goddam documentary even when she was losing her mind, (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER!!!) Hud keeps filming right until his death. His last surviving friends realise the importance of the camera in capturing their legacy and record their last messages to the world before being blown to smithereens. It's a wonderfully bleak ending that leaves the audience to decide if the bombing actually managed to kill the monster. In a final bit of bitter irony, the previously recorded Coney Island day trip of lovers Rob and Beth flashes up on the screen as Beth says to camera 'I had a good day'. If you look carefully, you will see something crash into the ocean in the distance. It's a perfect bit of non-linear storytelling that ends the film on a deeply sad note (even if you don't care much for the hipster characters) by taking us back to the beginning of the story just as all is lost.

For all its flaws, I love Cloverfield nearly as much as I love The Blair Witch Project. Forget any versions of Godzilla, Cloverfield is the definitive monster movie of our generation.

More from I Love That Film:

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

Deconstructing Cinema: Cloverfield

Characters With Cameras 

Results for the Best Found Footage Film 

New York at The Movies

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 Poster

Just in case you aren't suffering from superhero fatigue syndrome, here is a lovely little poster from the folks at Marvel to show just exactly what your diary will be looking like from May 6, 2016 to May 3, 2019. This is phase 3 which will kick off after we've had Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man in 2015. The poster features a whole bunch of new characters, some of which I've never even heard of but hey, if you can make a success out of the barmy Guardians of the Galaxy, I guess you can afford to take a few risks.

Captain America will be facing off against Iron Man in Civil War, the Guardians will be back as well as the Avengers in a pair of films titled Infinity War and also Thor returns for round 3. I can't imagine the pay cheques these guys are getting. Fair play to you Chris' Evans and Hemsworth. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Added to the Marvel roster are Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange and the Inhumans who sound like fun. So we have a black guy but still no women. Do Marvel even have any women superheroes?

As a very moderate fan of superhero films, this poster kind of makes me want to hide under a blanket until the superhero storm is over. I suspect that until 2019, cinemas are just going to be filled with a revolving door full of Marvel, DC and Disney's Star Wars films; all of which will be disposable fun but are hardly likely to change your life.

And just imagine how big the Marvel Cinematic Universe boxset is going to be one day when this is all over (if it ever is and if we even have boxsets anymore).

So who doesn't give a shit and who is on the edge of their seat?

Something else you might like to read while you're here:

The Summer of 2050 at the Cinema

My first academic paper: Cine-Excess Conference 2014

On Friday I gave my first academic paper at the Cine-Excess conference at the University of Brighton. My paper was titled Shooting Backwoods: Footage Found in Rural Locations and was a part of the first panel of the weekend, titled Borders, Backwoods and Spatial States of Terror. I was joined by David Lerner, Sara Reininghaus and Stephen Curtis on this panel.

The theme of the whole conference this year was Are You Ready for the Country: Cult Cinema and Rural Excess. Seeing as I'm nearly four years through my part time PhD, I thought it about time I bit the bullet and tried to get myself talking at one of these conferences and as I'd been to Cine-Excess back in 2011 to meet Ruggero Deodato, I thought I'd give in an abstract and see if I got a response.

And I did! So here is the abstract. I'm doubt I'm supposed to publish the whole paper here but if Cine-Excess decide not to use it in their journal, then I will at a later date.

Shooting Backwoods: Footage Found in Rural Locations

What happens when Western filmmakers head off with their modern technology, into the woods and jungles of the world to record something more primitive and vicious than they could ever imagine? Films from Cannibal Holocaust (Deodato, 1980) to Willow Creek (Goldthwait, 2013) explore how supposedly civilised characters set out to film the unknown in rural spaces. Too late do the characters discover that they have become the subjects of their own audio visual documents as they are terrorised and finally disappear. The primal forces that attack them range from supernatural beings such as witches to savage tribal cannibals but all share an archaic relationship with the rural settings that they inhabit.

Found footage films have flooded the horror genre in recent years and despite the popularity of the suburban home settings of the Paranormal Activity (2007- date) franchise, many investigate ideas of culture clashes between the urban filmmakers and their rural subjects. Leading on from theoretical work surrounding Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project (Myrick and Sanchez, 1999), I will analyse how the diegetic-camera-wielding characters and the foes they face in Welcome to the Jungle (Hensleigh, 2007), Trollhunter (Ovredal, 2010), Evidence (Howie Askins, 2011), and Willow Creek are dramatising contemporary anxieties over the failure of modern technologies (and Western youth) in tackling ‘primitive’ enemies. 

My findings will demonstrate that found footage films often take place in rural settings due to their central themes of control, dominance and superiority. The characters’ mastery of their technology is of little help to them when they are faced with the rural threats of the woods and jungles that they venture into. Exploring the aesthetic properties as well as the representation of youth, gender and race in these films will make this paper critical in furthering discourse on both the horror genre and more specifically the contemporary contextual relevance of found footage films.
More academic stuff from I Love That Film:

Referenced in a book on Found Footage Horror

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

My Blair Witch book just got a cover

Becoming a Found Footage Horror Expert: Media Interview

Alone With Her and Behind the Mask: Interesting Found Footage

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The Making of The Blair Witch Project

Evidence of Good Found Footage

The Femme Castratrice in Horror