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Author: Josh Greally

Writer and filmmaker from Chesterfield. I have a masters in directing film and television and have written film reviews for several smaller sites in the past. Films are my life, but I also enjoy writing, reading, listening to music and debating.
Editorials

#FilmTwitter Gives Their #UnpopularOpinion On Movies – Do You Agree?

November 17, 2020
Simpsons mob against unpopular opinions [Source GQ]

Over the years certain opinions have become dominant in the film community, such as Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made, the Star Wars prequels are bad; Hollywood is out of ideas and it becomes unpopular to disagree. But, today we are going to look at some unpopular film opinions on Twitter, and analyse what makes them unpopular.

1. Star Wars: The Rise of Positivity

The only thing Star Wars fans agree on is that Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back are great. However, from there opinions vary wildly. Some find Return of the Jedi either a fitting end to the original trilogy or a dumbed-down entry for kids. Most people initially didn’t like the Prequels and Disney’s handling of the property has produced mixed critical and fan reactions, to say the least. So perhaps the most controversial thing a Star Wars fan can do currently is resist the pull of the dark side and say, “there are zero bad Star Wars movies”. Well, MoviePreviewShow managed it.

2. My Not so Fair Lady

My Fair Lady was a real winner in its time. It won 8 Oscars including Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Picture. Although, viewed all these years later people like Martin Something-or-other find that My Fair Lady leaves a lot to be desired.

3. Defending Daredevil (2003)

The exact opposite of our last entry. The Ben Affleck Daredevil movie was derided upon its release. However, since then it has gained a cult following. It was also given a director’s cut release which many say makes the film into something special. Because superhero movies are currently taking a break maybe it’s time to revisit Daredevil (2003)? You may find yourself like Retro Gamer.

4. Battle of the Directors

Martin Scorsese is considered one of the best directors of all time. Creating great films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, and Wolf of Wall Street to name only a few. But can he compete with Brian De Palma the director of classics like Carrie (1976), Scarface (1983), The Untouchables, and underappreciated gems like Phantom of the Paradise and Dressed to Kill? Not according to RVD the Dudar.

5. Excellent Adventure Vs Bogus Journey

When most people speak about the Bill and Ted films, they talk about the first entry, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Which is understandable, because it is the highest-rated and highest-grossing film in the franchise. But Direct Questions thinks the claim that it’s the series’ best film is bogus. He believes Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is the superior film.

6. Streaming Wars

With a lot of production companies moving into the streaming market, many are beginning to make their content exclusive to their own services. Which definitely doesn’t sit well with Jonathan Boyd.

7. The Horror of Children

The opinion that children in movies are more annoying than they are effective is nothing new. Though kids in horror films not being scary when movies like The Innocents (1961), The Exorcist, The Omen (1976), and The Shining (1980) exist? Eric S. Kim’s opinion is definitely controversial.

8. Trashing Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino is one of modern cinema’s most acclaimed filmmakers. With several of his films being considered among the best ever made. However, as with anyone who is well acclaimed there are always those who believe them to be overrated. But which camp do you fall into? Are you a true Tarantino aficionado or are you like Global Affairs?

9. Stay Mysterious

Many agree that trailers and reviews sometimes give too much away. But how much should you know about a movie to become interested? To Rigmarole Film a movie is improved vastly when you know as little as possible going in. And therefore, have more of an open mind.

10. Henry Cavill’s Superman

Henry Cavill’s Superman films generally divided opinion among both audiences and critics. However, some people, like (thereal)Chris Grant Jr., consider him to be their favourite Superman portrayal.

So ends our brief look at unpopular film opinions circulating social media. What do you think about some of these controversial opinions? What are some of your film hot takes? Please let us know.

Also Read: The Film Fan’s Guide To Time Travel

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Editorials

Research Shows How Cinema Therapy Helps Reduce Anxiety

November 6, 2020
Cinema Group of Friends

Right now I imagine everyone is looking for ways to help them des-tress and reduce anxiety in this stressful year. Well according to Sorina Daniela Dumtrache’s article “The Effects of a Cinema-therapy Group on Diminishing Anxiety in Young People, cinema is just what we need. Today we are going to be looking over the details of Dumtrache’s Science Direct article. We will look at what methods the study used to explore its hypothesis and the conclusions the study came to. But first, let’s briefly summarise the study’s aims.

Aims

This study’s purpose was to identify how cinematic-therapy (use of cinema and/or movies to help with mental health issues) affected the personal development (namely the anxiety levels) of young participants. The study’s other purpose was building, enacting, and adapting a personal development cinema-therapy program to help its participants. But how did they plan on doing this and measuring the results?

Methods

This study used 60 subjects selected using cluster sampling. 30 participants were used in an experimental sample (focusing on using cinema therapy). 30 were used in a control sample (separate from the influence of the cinema therapy study). The participants were all between 19 and 22 years old.

The experimental sample divided into 3 groups of 10. They then met for 10 4 hour sessions across 3 months. The participants helped select the study’s movies based on how they generated reflection, identification, differentiation, and self-awareness in them. The films were further sorted into categories based on the issues they dealt with. Including childhood and family universes, couple relationships, social relationships, and relationships with yourself. And they used the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale Questionnaires, to rate how severe their anxiety was. The Hamilton questionnaire asks participants to rate the severity of certain feelings e.g. tension or depression on a 0 (none present) to 4 (very severe) scale.

Dumtrache then began the study, at the initial meeting before the cinema sessions, the experimental groups discussed the types of films they wanted to see as well as games they could use to test each other’s inter-knowledge and find out their problems and needs. There were then 10 cinema group sessions. These sessions began with the therapists instructing the participants to focus attention on one’s own inner moods and experiences. Then they watched the movies and afterwards looked at personal analysis and group awareness. The final session focused on feedback and used the Hamilton Anxiety Questionnaires to attain the group’s final anxiety levels.

Results

After the researchers collected the data from the control and experimental groups, they used the “t-test statistical procedure” to test for the differences between the samples. And they found there was a more significant drop in anxiety levels with the experimental group than the Control group. Thus, showing that the use of films in therapy helped to reduce the participants’ anxiety.

Conclusion

The study’s research and methodology are somewhat hard to follow. But further research supports its findings. For example, Lee Powell said that group cinematherapy intervention is statistically and clinically effective at improving hope and optimism. Even individuals like our own Laura Huckle can attest to the healing power that cinema can have on our mental health.

Whether you’re watching films with a cinema audience or your friends and family at home, movies are a powerful force that can restructure and transform our lives. And especially with everything the world is going through, we need movies to help us relax. Now more than ever.

Also Read: Films That Have Supported My Mental Health


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Editorials

Disney Shifts Its Focus Away From Cinemas To Its Streaming Platform

October 28, 2020
Disney Hulu ESPN [Source: Whats on Disney Plus]

Recently Disney announced its future plans regarding its content and distribution. And today we’ll analyse how Disney’s decisions could affect the cinema industry as it still tries to weather the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

Disney’s Restructuring

Last week Disney announced a huge restructure with its Content creation and distribution being separated. Content creation will now focus on creating big franchise content for theatrical and streaming distribution, as well as general entertainment and sports content for Disney’s streaming platforms and TV networks. Meanwhile the “Media and Entertainment Distribution group” will handle monetisation and distribution of all the company’s projects. And with Disney reporting over 60 million Disney+ subscribers worldwide their efforts have shifted towards creating content for and distributing content on their streaming platforms.

How Will This Affect Cinemas?

Disney movies attract incredibly large cinema audiences. And with Cineworld’s recent closure due to the lack of big releases needed to sustain themselves during the pandemic, this move could be rather damaging. Especially since studios like WarnerMedia and Comcast are seemingly following Disney’s lead. Recently they reorganised to focus on streaming service’s HBO Max and Peacock.

However, despite Disney shifting focus to streaming, analyst Rich Greenfield said, “nothing can achieve the per picture economics that Disney…generate through a global theatrical release”. Showing that Disney still needs cinema distribution to ensure their projects make their money back. This move may be meant to recoup losses further down the line. With projects aimed at attracting new customers to Disney’s subscription services and keeping people subscribed; paying for content, as they proved they could do with Mulan (2020). And as Disney has access to a huge amount of resources, and bankable studios, it’s hard to see this becoming an industry trend. Not every studio has the resources needed to shift towards streaming over cinema. Cinemas still matter but can they remain open without the support of many big tentpole releases?

How Can Cinemas Survive?

There are no concrete answers, but cinemas currently have a lot of avenues available. For example, the largest audience for UK cinema releases is consistently 15-24-year-olds. Other statistics show that BAME and LGBTQ filmgoers, as well as adults with children under 18, make up a high percentage of cinema audiences. Cinemas could target these audiences by providing discounts or exclusive screenings to encourage certain demographics to keep returning (similar to how The Light and Odeon cinemas currently offer discounts for former Cineworld customers). Rewards can also be offered to make customers feel valued. And classic and recent content could be offered to draw in BAME and LGBTQ audiences.

Also, recently smaller movies like After we collided and Unhinged have done relatively well at the UK box office. Showing that smaller films can do well with a bigger platform. And with many smaller releases still on the horizon, cinemas have an opportunity to encourage audiences to try something new. They can do this by increasing social media awareness. Offering discounts/rewards. Or perhaps even organising local cinema clubs, as many of the previously mentioned groups are more likely to respond to the idea of a film club. Plus the localised nature of film clubs could be a great comfort to regions in higher lockdown tiers.

Of course, if cases spike cinemas will have to close. But other options are available. For example, during the lockdown, Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema partnered with various streaming and VoD sites. Offering free trials for their members, and virtual screenings that split the money evenly with the Showroom if you used their site. These options allowed people to watch films safely from home. And helped keep the Showroom on its feet.

Conclusion

Despite Disney’s shift to focus more on streaming, many studios don’t have Disney’s money and resources. So it’s hard to see this becoming an industry trend. Cinema distribution will still be needed to cover big-budget production costs.

But cinemas must adapt to survive without huge tentpole releases. There are many independent productions out there to entice audiences. And offers and rewards, targeted marketing, film clubs, virtual screenings; profit-sharing with VoD, and streaming services are certainly options that can help cinemas to make money. But will they succeed? Only time will tell.

Also Read: What’s Next For Disney?

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Reviews

Retro Review: Frankenstein (1931)

October 19, 2020
frankenstein 1931 [Soruce: Letterboxd]

This Halloween season we are looking at James Whale’s Frankenstein. A movie so recognisable that many may think of this film adaptation before Mary Shelley’s original novel. But after almost 90 years does it still hold up?

Synopsis

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has lately been walled up in his laboratory. So, his fiancé Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), her friend Victor (John Boles), and Henry’s former mentor Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan) decide to investigate. Upon confronting him they find that Frankenstein aims to give life to a monster. Made by stitching together dead body parts and inserting an abnormal brain stolen from Dr. Waldman’s classroom. Ultimately Frankenstein succeeds. But can “The Monster” (Boris Karloff) be controlled?

What did I like?

Frankenstein works well for many reasons. First being its tight and well-paced script. In a short time-space, the script intrigues us with the mystery of Frankenstein. And then emotionally invests us through exploring Frankenstein’s motivations and how his various relationships affect him, and consequently the Monster. And because the film is full of interesting, now iconic, scenarios like the grave robbery, the monster’s introduction, the windmill finale, and more, it’s never boring.

Secondly, the cast is almost uniformly excellent. Mae Clarke, Edward Van Sloan, Frederick Kerr, and Dwight Frye particularly stand out, investing heart, humour, and discomfort where needed.

But the film also features two truly legendary performances. First being Colin Clive’s Henry Frankenstein. Clive really sells us on Frankenstein’s drive and ambition through his stern; occasionally frantic manner, without making him unlikable. But when The Monster enters the picture, Clive makes us empathise with his emotional vulnerability. As he takes responsibility for The Monster. And Boris Karloff’s portrayal of The Monster is unforgettable. Not only is he immediately frightening and imposing thanks to his tall frame and Jack Pierce’s iconic makeup design. But Karloff’s performance engenders a lot of sympathy. He feels like a vulnerable animal. Causing pain because he’s unfairly victimised or doesn’t know better. This makes us want to see him nurtured not persecuted. Because otherwise, the consequences could be deadly.

Frankenstein-Source-Movie-Monster-Wiki-Fandom
Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster [Source: Movie Monster Wiki – Fandom]

And there’s some brilliant technical work on display. The set and production design are fantastic. The classic romantic feeling of the period costumes and picturesque Victorian decorated sets and backlots greatly contrast with sets like Frankenstein’s gothic laboratory and the expressionistic graveyard. Which when combined with the inventive direction that has cameras gliding through rooms, interesting camera angles, and a lack of music creates a uniquely horrific and disquieting atmosphere.

What did I not like?

There are some flaws that prevent Frankenstein from being perfect. For one Henry’s emotional recovery and wedding seemingly happen only a few days after he decides to kill the monster. As it’s hard to believe that Dr. Waldman’s disappearance and discovery would take more than a few days to happen. And this short time frame does somewhat lessen the emotional impact of Frankenstein’s decision to destroy the creation he cared about.

The character of Victor also doesn’t contribute much to the story. His use as emotional support could easily have been filled by a more prominent character and the film would remain the same. Which isn’t helped by John Boles’ wooden performance. A shame as everyone else does such great work.

And the film has a fair amount of editing choices that can pull one out of the movie. As this is an older film before modern film language was perfected this is expected. But the breaking of the 180-degree rule in some sections as well as some imperfect matches between cuts and a sped-up crucial moment are unintentionally jarring.

Verdict

The script’s limited timeframe undersells some moments. Victor doesn’t add much to the story. And the bizarre editing choices can be nit-picked. But they pale in comparison to Frankenstein’s strengths. With stellar performances from most of the cast including iconic turns from Clive and Karloff, brilliant atmosphere thanks to inventive direction; beautiful set and production design and a well-structured script packed with iconic moments that keep you riveted till the end, love for Frankenstein will remain alive for years to come.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Also Read: Horrors On Horror Sets

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Editorials

Romeo and Juliet Over the Years

October 9, 2020
Romeo and Juliet [Source: Microsoft]

The story of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet is perhaps William Shakespeare’s most well-known and influential work.

Today we will look at how the classic love story has been interpreted over the years. And what has made this story such fertile ground for reinterpretation. But before that, lets quickly summarise the play.

Story

In Verona, Italy, the Montagues and Capulets are locked in a violent feud. To the chagrin of Verona’s Prince. However, when Romeo Montague infiltrates a Capulet party, he meets Juliet Capulet. Over the night Romeo and Juliet fall in love, eventually marrying in secret.

Juliet’s cousin Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel for attending the party but he refuses. Romeo’s friend Mercutio duels instead and Tybalt fatally wounds him after Romeo tries stopping the fight. Romeo kills Tybalt in retaliation and is banished by Verona’s Prince. Romeo and Juliet manage to spend one night together before he leaves.

Juliet’s parents then blackmail her into marrying a man named Paris. Her friend Friar Laurence gives her a drug that will make her appear dead for 42 hours to allow her to escape and be with Romeo. Upon hearing of Juliet’s “death” Romeo races to her tomb.

After seeing Juliet’s body and killing Paris in a fight Romeo poisons himself, dying as Juliet awakens. Distraught Juliet takes her life with Romeo’s dagger. With Romeo and Juliet dead the Montagues and Capulets finally stop fighting.

Romeo and Juliet as portrayed by artist Frank Dicksee [Source: Ancient Origins]

Adaptations

Narrative adaptations of the play date back to the early 1900s and since then there have been many film versions of the story.

There are direct adaptations that set the action within the play’s time period. Examples include the 1968 version starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. The Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer 1936 version, and recently the 2013 Hailee Steinfeld version. And aside from them Romeo and Juliet has been the basis for musicals (West Side Story), modern-day gang films (Romeo + Juliet), several animated films (Gnomeo and Juliet and Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride), horror-comedies (Warm Bodies), LGBTQ reinterpretations (Private Romeo), political satire (Romanoff and Juliet), exploitation (Tromeo and Juliet); even metafiction about Shakespeare himself (Shakespeare in Love). Just to name a few.

Evidently the play is a popular inspiration for filmmakers. And many adaptations have had decent critical or box office acclaim. But, what makes this story so attractive to filmmakers and audiences? It can be attributed to three major points.

Actors

Firstly, Shakespeare adaptations are great ways to show off actor’s talents. Many adaptations keep Shakespeare’s language intact which requires great skill to sound natural to modern ears. And because the characters in Romeo and Juliet are emotionally complex, they allow actors to show a great range in their performance. As a result, adaptations of the play have attracted many talented actors and actresses, young and old, new and established. Which appeals to filmmakers from a career perspective and audiences for entertainment value.

Romeo and Juliet
Young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet [Source: Hollywood reporter]

Themes

Secondly, the story’s themes are universally appealing and malleable. Allowing constant reinterpretation. The themes of love, the folly of youth, the power of individuals against larger systems of power, etc. speak to a great number of people. It also allows the story to be told in many different ways as writers and directors interpret these themes differently. And as our perceptions of these issues change over time so to can our interpretation of this story. Allowing infinite storytelling possibilities.

Young and Old

Finally, the story offers something for both younger and older audiences. The heightened emotions of the characters and rebelling against systems of authority are very relatable to younger people. Easily allowing young audiences to identify with the characters. And older audiences can appreciate the story’s subtext (the sins of the past ruining the future) and the different spins each new adaptation puts on the text. Whether that be American racial tensions in West Side Story, LGBTQ representation in Private Romeo, or the irreverent parody of Tromeo and Juliet. Which only improves its popularity.

West Side Story, for many the best Romeo and Juliet adaptation [Source: CinemaBlend]

This tale may be over four centuries-old but as this article proves so, there is a version of this story out there for every Juliet and every Romeo.

Also Read: Films That Have Supported My Mental Health

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Editorials

Must-See Films at London Film Festival 2020

September 24, 2020
London Film Festival - Big Picture Film Club

The London Film Festival has announced its program for October 2020. And will be offering the opportunity for many new people to view their program. Because many of the festival selections will be available not only on BFI Player during the festivals run but also in cinema events across the UK.

But which films should you check out? Today I am going to suggest seven films on the festival roster to look forward to. And tell you why they should be on your watchlist. Let’s begin.

Another Round (Druk) (Drama)

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg has reteamed with The Hunt‘s Mads Mikkelsen for this drama about four high school teachers. Their aim – to see if life is improved by maintaining a consistent alcohol blood level. With a killer premise, helmed by a great director and one of today’s best actors, Another Round should be an interesting ride. And if it’s half as good as The Hunt, audiences will definitely be pleased.

Mads Mikkelsen getting drunk in Another Round [Source: IMDb]

The Cheaters (Classic Crime)

The festival also includes some restored and recovered films for classic film lovers. One of the more interesting ones being the oldest film at the festival. Made by filmmaking pioneers the McDonagh’s sisters and restored by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia; it follows the story of an embezzler’s daughter falling for the son of her father’s worst enemy. 1929s The Cheaters is one of Australia’s major surviving silent films. And audiences can now see it as originally intended.

The Cheaters restored at the London Film Festival [Source BFI]
Romance and crime in Australian classic The Cheaters [Source: BFI]

Friendship’s Death (Classic Sci-Fi)

Another older entry in the London Film Festival’s program is this science fiction film about an alien android named Friendship (Tilda Swinton). Who lands on earth in the midst of the Jordanian Black September War. And begins debating with a journalist about if humanity is worth saving. Swinton is one of the all-time greatest actresses. So the opportunity to see an early performance from her in even more detail, thanks to a restored print, is too great to refuse.

Friendship's death at the London Film Festival [Source: Mubi]
An early performance from Tilda Swinton in Friendship’s Death [Source: Mubi]

Mangrove (TV)

The latest project from Steve McQueen, the Oscar-winning director behind great films like 12 Years a Slave. Mangrove is part of McQueen’s Small Axe series. Which is based on the real experiences of the London West Indian community. It focuses on the trial of nine activists falsely accused of inciting a riot at Notting Hill’s Mangrove restaurant. With McQueen’s involvement and the current political climate regarding race and the police, this looks to be a hard-hitting; important watch.

Mangrove at the London Film Festival [Source Empire]
On trial in Steve McQueen’s Mangrove [Source: Empire]

Relic (Horror)

There has been a lot of buzz around Relic since its Sundance debut earlier this year. The film centres on a mother and daughter as they try to look after their grandmother. However, the grandmother’s house slowly begins to be infiltrated by supernatural forces that seemingly parallel the onset of the grandmother’s dementia. It has already been compared to Hereditary and The Babadook. So, if you’re looking for an atmospheric, symbolic horror film, Relic will be right up your alley.

Relic at the London Film Festival [Source Signature Entertainment]
The poster for Relic [Source: Signature Entertainment]

Ultraviolence (Documentary)

This documentary explores various deaths that have occurred at the hands of the UK police force. As well as the heart-break many families have suffered because of it. This doc may be too much for some. With a warning given on the festival website, due to footage of real violence. But in a year that has seen worldwide condemnation of police violence, Ultraviolence looks to shine a light on the dark side of UK law and order.

Ultraviolence [Source YouTube]
The movie that according to the trailer, “the police and politicians will not want you to see”. [Source: YouTube]

Wolfwalkers (Animation)

The latest offering from Cartoon Saloon, who previously made Oscar Nominee’s Song of the Sea and The Breadwinner; Wolfwalkers is the beautiful animated story of Robyn, who journeys with her father from England to Ireland to destroy the wolf population. But Robyn’s resolve is soon tested when she befriends Mebh, an Irish wolfwalker (someone who becomes a wolf when they sleep). With gorgeous designs, an intriguing story, and an acclaimed studio backing it, Wolfwalkers could be another awards contender in the making.

Wolfwalkers [Source Hollywood Reporter]
Robyn and Mebh in Wolfwalkers [Source: Hollywood Reporter]

So ends our list of London Film Festival films to look forward to. You can find more information about these and other festival film screenings on their online program. And lastly please share your thoughts on these films if you get the opportunity to see them.

Also Read: BAFTA: Steering Towards Greater Inclusion

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Editorials

The Best Performances of Matthew McConaughey

September 21, 2020
Matthew McConaughey [Source: Vanity Fair]

Matthew McConaughey has had an incredibly varied career. Initially making an impression due to his likeable personality in Dazed and Confused, he quickly shot to leading man status with performances in films like A Time to Kill and Contact. But he soon found himself the go-to leading man for ill-received romantic comedies. Then in the early 2010s, McConaughey made a resurgence in popularity, dubbed the “McConaissance”, by taking on much more daring roles.

Today I am going to look over his career by running down five of his best performances. Each of these roles shows off something great about McConaughey as an actor and I will be analyzing why he makes each of these parts work. Alright, alright, alright, let’s begin.

David Wooderson – Dazed and Confused

His first big-screen role shows McConaughey’s penchant for completely stealing the show. Despite only having a handful of scenes Wooderson is Dazed and Confused’s most memorable character. With his laidback attitude, smooth voice, and commanding screen presence McConaughey and director Richard Linklater created the cinematic embodiment of the cool counter-culture man child. And it remains not only his best small part but perhaps his most iconic role.

An iconic big screen debut in Dazed and Confused [Source: grantland.com]

Benjamin Barry – How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

This one role is here to represent McConaughey’s best qualities as a romantic lead. Benjamin, an advertising executive, must convince Andie (Kate Hudson) to fall for him to score his latest contract. But Andie keeps trying desperately to break up the relationship because she is currently writing an article about how to lose a guy in 10 days. The set-up and payoff are obvious, but McConaughey makes it work. He’s incredibly charming in the part. With his slick self-confidence, infectious energy, his great comedic timing (being the source of most of the film’s laughs), and his fantastic chemistry with Kate Hudson, McConaughey turns something insufferable into something bearable and occasionally enjoyable. Sometimes great performances are more valuable in bad movies.

Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are a winning couple in a losing film [Source: Town and Country Magazine]

Killer Joe Cooper – Killer Joe

Killer Joe Cooper is a world away from McConaughey’s romantic leads. Hired to kill a family’s estranged mother so they can claim her insurance Joe Cooper is a vile, disgusting, and intimidating presence. He coldly commits murder and holds people to ransom when his fees aren’t paid. McConaughey’s performance pulls no punches. He leers over young girls and forces people to commit horrendously debasing acts to establish dominance. But he has an honesty about himself and how he views the world that makes him strangely watchable. This is perhaps McConaughey’s best villainous role.

Matthew McConaughey's disturbing law/hit man in Killer Joe [Source: Pinterest]
Matthew McConaughey’s disturbing law/hit man in Killer Joe [Source: Pinterest]

Ron Woodroof – Dallas Buyers Club

The role that won McConaughey his Oscar. Ron, a red-blooded homophobic Texan, is diagnosed with HIV during the height of the AIDS crisis and begins smuggling unapproved drugs that help alleviate the effects of the virus into the US to sell to AIDS patients. Initially, because of his attitude towards the gay community, Ron is very unlikable. But after having to walk in their shoes he slowly comes to their side and McConaughey keeps you thoroughly engaged. His dramatic weight loss adds authenticity and vulnerability to his performance. He’s also quite darkly funny and charming in the role. And McConaughey’s charisma keeps Ron watchable even when you don’t like him.

Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club [Source: BBC]

Detective Rust Cohle – True Detective (Season 1)

Rust Cohle is an extremely pessimistic (at times nihilistic) person. His only strength is investigation and aside from that, he believes humanity is a lost cause. As the series continues we find the reasons behind his feelings are very justified. However, the subtle sparks of humanity we see in Rust make us route for him to recover his long-lost optimism. Ultimately McConaughey’s the reason Rust works so well. In other hands Rust would sound whiny and annoying. But McConaughey’s slow and soft vocals, his world-weary stares and relaxed demeanor make him feel like someone who truly knows what the abyss is. And whenever he speaks, you can’t take your eyes off him. For my money, this is Matthew McConaughey’s best role.

Matthew McConaughey as pessimistic detective Rust Cohle in the first season of True Detective [Source: Hollywood Reporter]

Thus ends my list of Matthew McConaughey’s best performances. Did I miss any out or do you disagree with any of my picks? Please let me know.

Also Read: The Anatomy of a Christopher Nolan

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Editorials

How The Grinch Was Made To Steal Christmas?

August 28, 2020
Making The Grinch [Source: adventuresofkap.wordpress.com]

How was Dr. Seuss’ cartoony Christmas classic translated into a realistic world? Today we’ll look at how the world of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) was created. Focusing on the realisation of Whoville’s snowflake world; the costumes/makeup of the Whos and the Grinch. But first, let’s look at the film’s inspiration.

The Original Designs

Dr. Seuss’ book drawings are very much aimed at children. Much of his scenery and objects are warped and lack straight lines. The people have weirdly long bodies, round chests, and stomachs; their faces being more prominent above their top lip. And the Grinch looks oddest. With fur covering his body. A figure-eight shaped head, large around his mouth and smaller near his eyes. And animalistic facial features such as whisker holes and an upper lip parting. How can you make something so cartoony work in live-action?

See Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations in this video [Source: Brightly Storytime YouTube]

Creating the Snowflake World

Director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer wanted the film to feel true to Seuss’ world, so the crew set to work accomplishing this goal.

Production designer Michael Corenblith and his team broke down some of Seuss’ reference points and worked them into the sets. Whoville was structured like a medieval village, the Christmas tree being the central hub. The town hall was modeled on Greek architecture, Farfingles department store on Parisian art nouveau and Moroccan and Islamic architecture elements were also included. Resulting in a world that looks timeless and very Seussian.

Props also needed to be considered. Prop master Emily Ferry and her team sourced items from antique shops and retrofitted them into new designs reminiscent of Seuss’ wavey retro style.

Then the film was given some finishing visual effects touches. This included filling out shots with computer-generated Whos and adding digital backgrounds and skies to fill in the world. But arguably the most important creation is the opening. Inspired by Horton Hears a Who the opening places the story within a single snowflake. We track through the snowflake until we see a full view of Mount Crumpit and Whoville. All of this was created digitally. This effort makes the Grinch’s world feel truly fantastical.

A Whoville shot with all of the special effects put in [Source: annotatedgilmoregirls.com]

Every Who down in Whoville

Producer Brian Grazer wanted the Whos to look otherworldly but predominantly human and “cute” to contrast the Grinch’s monstrosity. According to special makeup effects designer Rick Baker, the designs were difficult to perfect as some Seussian elements, particularly the focus on the nose, looked frightening. Eventually, they found the right design. Then they had to work on outfitting all the actors to look like Whos.

The production team made foam rubber pieces to apply to the actors which gave them prominent noses and a big gap between their lips and noses, with a faint edge that blended into their skin. Several Whos also received fake ears and brows to complete the otherworldly effect. Costume designer Rita Ryack also made creative costumes that allowed each Who to stand out. Lastly, the Whos were given dentures and inventive wig/hair designs that suited Seuss’ illustrations.

Applying the Who makeup [Source: Universal]

Giving the Grinch Life

For Rick Baker, the biggest challenges when creating the Grinch were finding a design that looked recognisably Grinchian and wouldn’t limit Jim Carrey’s facial expressions. To achieve the design, he made the makeup as thin as possible in certain areas to allow Carrey to move his face. The makeup took approximately two and a half hours to apply and one hour to remove.

Carrey also wore a spandex suit covered in green-dyed yak hair (the green colouring was inspired by the 1966 Chuck Jones cartoon) to give him that iconic look. Which must have been boiling under all those set lights. According to Carrey, Brian Grazer hired someone responsible for training CIA operatives on how to endure torture to get Jim to stay, the process was that taxing.

Jim Carrey having his Grinch makeup applied [Source: Universal]

Conclusion

Fortunately, the work paid off.  The film was the sixth highest-grossing movie of 2000. It won Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan an Oscar for Best Makeup and received nominations for Best Costume Design and Art Direction-Set Decoration. The film also made Jim Carrey’s Grinch and the live-action Whos iconic pop culture figures and has captured many imaginations for the past two decades.

Also Read: Who Did It Better?: How The Grinch Stole Christmas

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Editorials

Underrated Actors: Malcolm McDowell

August 18, 2020
Malcolm McDowell, one of the worlds most underrated actors [Source: ITV]

Today I want to spotlight one of the world’s most underappreciated actors, Malcolm McDowell. In this article, I’ll give a brief biography of McDowell before stating why I feel he is underrated. Lastly, I will recommend five great performances of his for you to watch.

Who Is Malcolm McDowell?

Born Malcolm John Taylor in Leeds, England in 1943, McDowell caught the acting bug in his school years. Later he joined a touring repertory theatre company before moving to London. There he landed work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, several television bit parts, and was meant to make his big-screen debut in Ken Loach’s Poor Cow but his scenes were deleted. Regardless, he received an impressive debut as the lead in Lindsay Anderson’s If…. a year later. Across his career, he has worked with many notable creatives in many different genres; over film, TV, videogames and theatre.

Why Is He Underrated?

McDowell is underrated because despite having a career spanning over five decades, with a vast catalogue of credits, most people only mention A Clockwork Orange when talking about him. And McDowell deserves appreciation for the great work he’s done outside of Kubrick’s masterpiece.

McDowell belongs to the old crowd of British screen actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, who kept working even if the projects weren’t the best quality. And, like Cushing and Lee, McDowell never sleepwalks through a performance. Often being the lone bright spot in many films he appears in.

McDowell said he doesn’t think of himself as an artist, he just loves acting. In the age of prima donna actors, actors concerned about image over craft and method acting to a fault, it’s refreshing to see someone simply acting because he likes it. And the fact that someone so talented is willing to do so many different types of projects is honestly exciting. You never know what film you’ll get with McDowell, but you know he’ll be great.

Five Great Malcolm McDowell Performances

1. Alex DeLarge – A Clockwork Orange

The story of a psychotic teenage thug who loses his free will after a government experiment, A Clockwork Orange works so well because of McDowell’s performance. Not only does he make the Burgessian dialogue sound natural, but McDowell allows us to alternately feel frightened of and sympathetic for a truly despicable character, thanks to his charm and superb physical performance. There’s a reason this is considered McDowell’s best role.

Alex enjoying a nice cold glass in the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange [Source: Looper]

2. Mick Travis – If…, O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital:

The only constant in Lindsay Anderson’s thematic trilogy was everyman Mick Travis. Travis helped audiences navigate Anderson’s surreal worlds. Whether he was a revolutionary, being chewed up, and spat out by arms dealers only to become a film star or being transformed into a Frankenstein’s monster, McDowell made you feel for him every step of the way.

Mick Travis looking ready to start a revolution in If…. [Source: Pinterest]

3. Caligula – Caligula

As Caligula, McDowell looks right at home, committing horrendous acts and losing himself in hedonistic abandon with childlike glee. But beneath the tyranny is an affection for those close to him that gives him a layer of depth rather than simply being a madman. McDowell is brilliant at giving even his most monstrous characters in humanity.

Malcolm McDowell as the third Roman Emperor Caligula [Source: Los Angeles Times]

4. Dr Samuel Loomis – Rob Zombie’s Halloween Duology:

Love or hate Rob Zombie’s Halloween films, McDowell is the perfect replacement for Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. Through both films, McDowell makes the role his own. Bringing class and gravitas while offering a more emotional and flawed interpretation of the character. Even if the scripts don’t work, McDowell gives the role dignity and dimension.

McDowell would have made Donald Pleasence proud in Halloween (2007) [Source: Bloody Disgusting]

5. Thomas Pembridge – Mozart in the Jungle

In this series, McDowell plays the New York Symphony Orchestra’s stuffy ex-conductor. Initially antagonistic towards those around him, we soon realise his attitude comes from not accomplishing everything he wanted to in the spotlight. So, he tries to amend himself. McDowell’s perfect comedic timing, curmudgeonly attitude, and ability to weave between comedic and heartfelt make him an enjoyable presence in the Jungle.

Thomas may be cruel sometimes but he is one hell of a maestro in Mozart in the Jungle [Source: IMDb]

Even this barely scratches the surface of McDowell’s great roles. But hopefully, this article has encouraged you to check out and appreciate more of McDowell’s work. Be sure to tell me your favourite Malcolm McDowell roles below.

Also Read: The Anatomy of a Christopher Nolan Film

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Editorials

Five Upcoming 2020 Horror Releases

August 4, 2020
Upcoming 2020 Horror Films [Source: Empire]

At the start of the year, we had many upcoming horror releases to look forward to. But global events forced many cinematic releases to be delayed. However, with many cinemas making plans to reopen soon we’re seeing plans for a few upcoming horror films to have a cinematic release. In today’s article, we’ll be going through five horror movies that will be coming out before the end of 2020 (at the time of writing). We will be looking at the information we currently have about them and why you should be excited about them.

Antebellum (21st August)

With a cast headlined by Janelle Monáe, Antebellum looks at a modern author, Veronica, who becomes trapped in a reality-based around slavery. Will she be able to figure out what has happened to her and escape before it’s too late? Many modern horror films have dealt with issues of race (see Get Out & Us) and Antebellum looks to specifically address issues regarding past and present treatment of people of colour in potentially really interesting ways by having a plot based around a modern woman forced to feel the hardship of slavery. If handled right Antebellum could not only be scary but prove again that horror is fertile ground for thought-provoking examinations of real social issues.

Antebellum’s Final Trailer [Source: YouTube]

The New Mutants (28th August)

The New Mutants is a spinoff of the X-men series. Focusing on five teenagers with mutant powers imprisoned in a facility against their will. The new mutants must come to terms with their dark pasts and fight their way out of captivity. Initially set to release in early 2018, New Mutants’ release date has changed many times since then. With reshoots also taking place to make the film scarier. With it finally set to release in August many are curious to see the result of the long-delayed film. And while the film may not justify the wait, the idea of a superhero horror film with a talented cast that includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton; Alice Braga and directed by The Fault in our Stars‘ Josh Boone is just too intriguing to resist. Hopefully, the upcoming film will at least be an entertaining attempt to do something different.

The New Mutants’ 2020 Teaser Trailer [Source: YouTube]

Relic (5th October)

This Australian film is about a family that begins to have their home haunted in a way that feels like a manifestation of their grandmother’s dementia. Relic has received many good notices since its premiere at Sundance. Many reviews praised the performances of leads Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin and the film’s slow-burning suspenseful nature. Reviews also compared the film to both Hereditary and The Babadook meaning that it could have a very divisive reception. But if the scares are built-up right, with suspense rather than shock in mind, and the characters are written and performed well, we could have another modern Aussie horror hit on our hands.

Relic’s Official Trailer [Source: YouTube]

Cordelia (23rd October)

Coming to us from TV and film director Adrian Shergold (director of Pierrepoint: The Last Hang Man); written by and starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes. Cordelia is a British horror film about the titular character who lives in a flat with her twin Caroline. Cordelia was once an up and coming actress but suffered a traumatic experience that changed her. She now seems to have recovered but when her sister and her boyfriend leave her, the trauma threatens to resurface. Boasting a cast that includes Michael Gambon and Johnny Flynn and a trailer rife with quietly unsettling imagery. Cordelia bears the hallmarks of being a potential spooky surprise.

The Official Trailer for Cordelia [Source: YouTube]

Saint Maud (23rd October)

The feature debut from Rose Glass follows Maud, a very religious nurse who becomes obsessed with saving her patient from damnation. With solid critical reviews, some disturbing trailers, and A24, which has produced some of the most disturbing horror films of the last decade, backing it, Saint Maud looks set to be another creepy home run for A24.

Saint Maud’s Official Trailer [Source: YouTube]

So while we may not be seeing the release of every big horror film we wanted in 2020, horror fans still have plenty of upcoming releases to look forward to. Let me know what horror films you’re looking forward to down below.

Also Read: The Best of Blumhouse

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Editorials

The Best of Blumhouse

July 21, 2020
Blumhouse Productions

Blumhouse has an incredibly varied history. Having produced three of the top twenty highest-grossing horror films of all time (Split, Halloween (2018) and Get Out), some well-regarded Oscar contenders and it’s responsible for giving several great modern directors their first directorial credit.

Today we’re going to look at what makes Blumhouse special by finding out more about their company ethos and history. And listing off the five best films that Blumhouse has produced.

About Blumhouse

Blumhouse Productions was founded in 2000 by Jason Blum. The studio’s goal is to produce high-quality micro-budget films. These projects can then be sold to wide audiences through big studio distribution. Its first big success was 2009s Paranormal Activity, which Paramount distributed. On a $15,000 budget, it made over $193 million worldwide, putting Blumhouse on the map. Blumhouse has since had many big studios distribute their movies. Such as Netflix, Warner Bros., and in 2014, they signed a 10 year deal with Universal. Which has helped many of their productions to gain more attention through Universal’s marketing.

Blumhouse is also a haven for creatives. As it allows the filmmakers creative freedom to make the projects they want to make, even if many aren’t well received. Consequently, they have attracted a wide range of established directors to work with them. Such as M. Night Shyamalan, James Wan, Spike Lee, and more. And as previously mentioned Blumhouse has been a starting platform for several acclaimed modern filmmakers. Like Jordan Peele, Leigh Whannell, and Joel Edgerton. But what are the best projects Blumhouse has had a hand in?

Blumhouse’s Top 5 Films

1. Whiplash

Andrew wants to be a well-respected drummer, but his teacher Fletcher believes that to achieve greatness you must be truly ruthless. With the borderline abuse Fletcher heaps on him, can Andrew achieve his dream and keep his sanity? Blumhouse not only helped Damien Chazelle to produce Whiplash but also produced the original Whiplash short film to attract investors. Allowing us to get my personal favorite Blumhouse film.

Whiplash [Source: Evening Standard]
Fletcher pushing Andrew to the limit in Whiplash [Source: Evening Standard]

2. Get Out

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut about a white woman, Rose, taking her black boyfriend, Chris, to meet her outwardly progressive, but secretly shady family was an immediate smash hit with critics and audiences. It also became one of the few horror films to be nominated for best picture and became the highest-grossing feature debut by a black director in history. Get Out is probably Blumhouse’s most significant contribution to modern horror.

Get Out [Source: Vox]
Chris can’t move in Get Out [Source: Vox]

3. BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman follows black police officer Ron Stallworth, who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan over the phone. With the help of white Jewish officer, Flip Zimmerman, he aims to prevent violence from the KKK. While a coproduction the film embodies the Blumhouse spirit of low budget passion projects with a message similar to other Blumhouse projects like The Purge. BlacKkKlansman is both incredibly entertaining and incendiary regarding its message. The fact that Blumhouse was willing to commit to something so outrageous shows why it has gained a lot of good faith from filmmakers.

Blackkklansman produced by Blumhouse [Source: The Economist]
Ron Stallworth and Patrice Dumas in BlacKkKlansman [Source: The Economist]

4. Split

Three girls are kidnapped by a man named Kevin. They discover that Kevin has twenty-three different personalities. And another personality, “The Beast”, will soon be manifesting itself, aiming to kill the girls. Can the girls make it out of their prison before it’s too late? Of M. Night Shyamalan’s Blumhouse films (the others being The Visit and Glass) this is undoubtedly the best. With two incredible performances from James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy, a story that keeps you hooked with fascinating characters; a good level of suspense, Split is a rewarding ride.

Split from Blumhouse [Source: The Jakarta Post]
One of Kevin’s other personalities, Patricia, looking intimidating in Split [Source: The Jakarta Post]

5. The Invisible Man (2020)

With Elisabeth Moss’ bravura performance, an intriguing story about a woman fleeing from her abusive scientist boyfriend only for him to use his scientific knowledge to wreak havoc on her life and sanity and beautiful direction that builds tension to almost unbearable levels simply by using negative space within a shot, The Invisible Man (2020) is a great showcase for what low budget horror is capable of.

Blumhouse's The Invisible Man [Source: Variety]
Elisabeth Moss giving an incredible performance in The Invisible Man (2020) [Source: Variety]

And so ends our foray into the best that Blumhouse has to offer. Have I missed any of your favourites? Be sure to tell me your Blumhouse recommendations in the comments.

Also Read: What Happens To Your Brain When You Watch A Horror Film

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Editorials

UK Drive-In Cinemas: Boom or Bust?

July 9, 2020
Drive-In Cinema [Source: Harpers Bazaar]

Drive-in cinemas. The American phenomenon where you can enjoy watching films on a big screen from the comfort of your car. It’s something that brings all the benefits of the communal experience without the annoyances of viewing films in a crowd of people. Well with the current pandemic worries drive-ins are seeing a resurgence in popularity. And the UK is looking to get in on the action.

So, today we’re going to look at the history of drive-ins, as well as some of the drive-in cinema events coming to the UK. And asking if UK drive-ins will take off as they have in the US?

History

Drive-In Theatre history began when Richard Hollingshead came up with an idea to accommodate his mother, who couldn’t fit into normal cinema seats. He had the idea of allowing people to view movies from the comfort of their cars. He set up a screen between some trees to project movies onto, with a radio behind the screen. And in 1933 he opened the first official drive-in cinema in Camden, New Jersey advertising it as affordable family entertainment.

Subsequently, drive-ins sprang up across the US in the 1950s and 60s. Culminating in 1958 when over 4000 drive-ins operated across the US. The numbers slowly declined in the 70s and 80s due to high land values and competition from television forcing many theatres to close. But since the 90s the number of theatres still open has remained steady. Recently new theatres have even begun to open. During this time drive-ins also gained access to new Hollywood releases. And with evolving technology drive-ins have received a great boost in projection and sound quality. A far cry from the grubby exploitation roadshows of old.

Similarly, Australia also enjoyed a history of drive-in success, with several big drive-in screens still operating today. The UK however never cracked the drive-in market. There were several attempts. In 2012 Route 66 opened, hoping to be a permanent fixture of the UK cinema scene, though it has since closed. And there are around 20 drive-in theatres currently operating in the UK. But compared to the US and Australia, UK drive-ins don’t have the same affection needed to keep business going. However, in the age of social-distancing, UK drive-ins may finally have their time to shine.

Enjoying a drive-in together [Source: Deseret News]

Coming Soon To A Destination Near You

Several pop-up drive-in events are coming to the UK over the next few weeks. Among them, The Luna Cinema and At the Drive-in, which will be screening films across several different UK areas (Including London, Oxford, the Midlands, Leeds, Manchester, and more) throughout the coming months.

Both are showing a wide variety of films. From modern Oscar contenders like Joker, and A Star is Born, to perennial favourites like Back to the Future, Grease and much more. Both allow you to order food and drink directly to your car. And both offer state of the art sound (broadcast to your car radio or a speaker which will be provided) and visual technology to ensure viewers get the best experience possible. But does this mean Drive-Ins will become a British mainstay?

Drive-Ins – Here To Stay?

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, many have wondered how the cinema industry will survive. With many movies now being released directly to on-demand, some argue that cinemas are a thing of the past. On top of that, according to some commentators, because the UK isn’t a car-based society like the US and Australia, the drive-in experience may not hold as much appeal for us. And in a time of economic uncertainty, many may not want to pay to see old films in a big car park.

But equally, there are many who crave the cinema experience, and the last few months have seen a renewed interest in supporting the arts and creative industries. And with 31.7 million cars in the UK, Drive-Ins are a good way for many to watch films in a way that is communal, supportive, and safe. Will it succeed? Only time will tell.

Are drive-in cinemas the future? [Source: Time Out]

What do you think? Are drive-ins the way forward? Will streaming ultimately win? Or are you waiting for regular cinemas to reopen? Let us know your thoughts.

Also Read: Amazon to Own Odeon Cinemas?

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