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Author: Laura Huckle

Freelance writer living in Essex. I'm an English and Creative Writing graduate and a lover of all things film. Current retirement plan is to live out my days as the Hobbit I was always meant to be.
Editorials

American Psycho: 19 Years On

June 13, 2019
American Psycho Screenshot

It’s been nineteen years since Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho was released. A violent(ish) film filled with debauchery and materialism, it helped create and shape the careers of its actors. Here’s what they’ve been up to since.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman (Lionsgate Films)

Before American Psycho, the films on Christian Bale’s résumé were relatively squeaky clean, starring in such films such as Pocahontas, Little Women and the musical The News Boys. Stepping into the role of the titular psycho, Patrick Bateman was a far cry from his other roles, but since then he has gone from strength to strength, displaying a wide range of diversity and going to extreme lengths in order to fully delve into whatever character he is playing. From the rapid weight loss to show the effects of insomnia and paranoia in The Machinist to working out enough to suit the physique of the Dark Knight, Bale has shown his dedication towards any role.

Perhaps his most well-known role is now Batman, however, there is so much more to Bale’s repertoire than the Caped Crusader. Since American Psycho premiered, Bale has been nominated for four Oscars, one of which he won for Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter. It seems he’ll only be starring in one film this year, Ford vs Ferrari (or Le Mans ’66 depending on where you are in the world), however, I’m sure we’ll see him again very soon.

Jared Leto

Jared Leto - American Psycho
Jared Leto as Paul Allen (Lionsgate Films)

Perhaps most well known for his music rather than his acting for a while, Jared Leto didn’t really have a starring role in many films. It seems for a while he was most well known for his roles as Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life, Angel Face in Fight Club and Tobias Jacobs in Girl, Interrupted before he was hired to be Paul Allen in American Psycho, a colleague of Bateman’s, unaware that he is also his nemesis. Though his most memorable scene belongs to Bale more than it does to him (you know the one, where Huey Lewis and the News is playing just before Allen gets struck in the head with an axe), Leto has since become a lead actor in his own right, starring in films such as Requiem for a Dream and Mr Nobody.

Leto has also been nominated for and won an Oscar, for his role as Rayon, a transsexual diagnosed with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club. Though Leto doesn’t act as often, he has starred in the Blade Runner sequel, has an upcoming Marvel film where he’s starring as a living vampire in Morbius and, of course, who can (or rather, who will) ever forget his Joker. According to Leto’s IMDB, there are two upcoming Joker films he is attached to so… we all have those to look forward to.

Willem Dafoe

Willem Defoe - American Psycho
Willem Defoe as Donald Kimball (Lionsgate Films)

Willem Dafoe is one of those actors where every time he pops up in a film, I always find myself saying to anyone I’m with (or even if I’m alone), “Hey look, it’s Willem Dafoe!” With over 129 credits to his name, Dafoe is one of those actors that I think surprises people with his range and the depth that he can bring to a role. Before becoming Donald Kimball, an NYPD detective that is suspicious of Bateman as starts to really get into his violent spree, Dafoe starred in Clear and Present Danger, Born of the Fourth of July and the incredible The Boondock Saints.

Though Dafoe has been in a wide range of films since, such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Antichrist and even Mr Bean’s Holiday, it is hard to deny his take on the Green Goblin. Though Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy didn’t always have its best moments, I think its fair to say that Dafoe’s performance was one of the better things about the films. Since his performance as Norman Osborne, Dafoe became Vulko in Aquaman, a friend and mentor to Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry. Dafoe has five films coming out this year and at least two coming out next year, which shows there is clearly no slowing this man down.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon as Evelyn Williams (Lionsgate Films)

Reese Witherspoon already had three big films under her belt before American Psycho came around. She was a teenage runaway getting revenge in Freeway, a naïve and sweet girl in Cruel Intentions and as a manipulative, over-achieving girl in high school in Election. So although her role as Evelyn, Bateman’s as equally narcissistic, materialistic, cheating fianceé, was diverging from her usual ‘teenager’ role, it was worth it in the long run. Though like Leto, her best scene belongs to Bale (their inevitable break up scene), it still showcased her comedic timings as she over-dramatically cries in the restaurant.

From there, Witherspoon embraced and twisted the dumb blonde image at the same time in Legally Blonde, a film that cemented Witherspoon as a star. She went on to a win an Oscar for Best Leading Actress for her part as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line and was nominated again for Wild. Witherspoon has since delved in producing, her biggest producing credit thus far being the hit show Big Little Lies in which she also stars. Though it seems she’ll only be in Big Little Lies and The Morning Show this year, she’ll also be stepping into her iconic Elle Woods character once more, as Legally Blonde 3 will be heading our way in 2020.

Also Read: Women In Horror: An Ode to Laurie Strode

Editorials

The Music Behind Great Films

May 12, 2019
JAWS

There is something magical about the music that accompanies a film. A film’s score can lift it to new heights, distinguish its villains from its heroes, give you goosebumps during otherwise forgettable moments. It’s impossible to imagine Darth Vader without the Imperial March song or to picture the opening sequence to The Lion King without its powerful opening number. Here are a list of six other films and the scores that made them.

Jaws: The opening scene – John Williams

A name that holds weight in the film scoring world, there are plenty of pieces by John Williams that could have been chosen. However, with a risk of this list simply becoming ‘Seven Great John Williams Scores’ it had to be narrowed down to one. One definitive score. It’s different for everyone. For me, that one is the opening scene of Jaws.

Tasked with making an invisible monster terrifying, this could have easily gone wrong for John. But with two notes, Williams created the ultimate scare. It’s simple, subtle and for lack of a better word, iconic. Those two notes created nightmares and sent shivers down the audience’s spine as if they were in the freezing cold ocean with poor Chrissie. Though the reveal of the shark might have been terrifying to audiences at the time, no one looks at that rubbery machine now and feels fear. That scene remains in minds for two reasons: the unknown killer and the music that accompanies it.

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – The Bridge of Khazad-dûm- Howard Shore

For anyone that knows me well enough, they know I have a love, passion, affinity (some may call it an obsession) for the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have adored it from a young age and one scene that always sticks out in my head is in the first film, where Gandalf battles the Balrog.

It’s the scene where you feel the Fellowship is truly in peril. Trapped in the Mines of Moria, surrounded by orcs, trolls and Balrog alike, there seems to be no way out for the nine companions. Howard Shore’s accompanying score reflects the fight the group puts up, the panic as they try to flee and of course, Gandalf the Greys sacrifice. The painful grief the Hobbits feel as they lie in the snowy mountains, mourning their friend, is made all the more powerful with the final minute of Shore’s score. It’s a piece that pushes you through the same emotional roller-coaster the characters are going through themselves.

Batman 1989: Batman Theme – Danny Elfman

DC hasn’t always had the best run with their films. For every Wonder Woman, there’s a Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice waiting to happen. However, before the threatening shadow of the formidable MCU loomed over them, DC had started to reboot their legendary heroes. In 1989, from the camp ashes of Adam West’s Batman rose Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight – following him, Danny Elfman’s theme.

It was probably a hard image to shake when Tim Burton’s reboot was first announced. Though the comics had started to portray a ruthless, complicated hero, the on-screen version was the antitheses of this (although a lot more fun). In order for the new Batman to shake its predecessors’ goofy image, it needed a few things – a revamped theme being one of them. Elfman’s song understands the weight on Batman’s shoulders and creates a triumphant, heroic song with it. A score that has defined Batman now for at least thirty years, Elfman’s dark, brooding theme set the tone for the many reincarnations that followed (except George Clooney).

Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman Theme – Junkie XL & Hans Zimmer

Speaking of Wonder Woman, the hero reboot was amazing for many reasons, but none more so than the theme that came with her. That electrifying energy that flowed through it almost rippled through the audience, creating a feeling of power even in the ordinary man. The moment that created that emotion, was when she first arrived in the DCEU.

Superman and Batman are struggling in their fight against Doomsday. At one point, Doomsday has Batman cornered. Who should come to save him? The Amazonian herself. As Diana lands in front of the Dark Knight, defending him from the stream of fire Doomsday is spewing at him, her absolutely incredible theme plays, and you almost feel as powerful as the warrior. Listening to it can make you feel invincible like you can finish that ten-minute run or that book you’ve been putting off. Maybe even defeat the God of War. An epic entrance with an epic theme.

Up: Married Life – Michael Giacchio

The beginning of Disney Pixar’s Up is a joyous sequence purely because of how it was played out. Rather than delve into the lives of Carl and Ellie, we were given a glimpse into their marriage. Ellie, an extroverted explorer and Carl, the introvert with the inquisitive spirit, build a house and a life together. We see it all, from the beginning as kids to the very end of Ellie’s. It’s an emotional sequence and the score is no different.

There are no words in this montage, all we have to understand what’s happening on the screen is the body language and actions of the characters as well as the music. The challenge to get the audience to feel connected to the lives of the married couple enough that we also mourn the loss of Ellie was no doubt a difficult one. However, with such gorgeous visuals to guide him, Giacchio created a beautiful score that summed up their unique relationship in the four minutes we have to see it.

Psycho: The Shower Scene – Bernard Hermann

If there is a film that defines Alfred Hitchcock’s career, it would be hard not to argue in favour of Psycho. The 1960 thriller lifted the auteur to new heights – it was, for a time, one of the most frightening movies on the big screen. So what made it so for terrifying for that audience and what makes it so memorable for us? The iconic shower scene, of course, paired with the impeccable score supplied by Bernard Hermann.

The silence in the scene, to begin with, is deafening. Marion Crane is getting ready to shower, after meeting the sweet but undoubtedly creepy, Norman Bates. As soon as the mysterious figure that enters the bathroom opens the shower curtain on poor, vulnerable Crane, you know it’s already too late, due to the fantastic music provided by Hermann that slices through you as easily as the knife. Wild and savage, the string instruments grab hold of that moment in such a way that is unforgettable. That whole scene could have been easily glanced over if it wasn’t for that fantastic piece by Hermann that captured the death of Marion Crane in the violent, desperate act it was.

Also Read: Women In Horror: An Ode To Laurie Strode

Editorials

Women In Horror: An Ode to Laurie Strode

February 20, 2019
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode (etonline.com)

Horror is a strange genre of film. For all of its freedom to create a frightening piece of work, it also seems to be the most restricted, the threat of it being ‘too scary’ looming over its head. It’s a fine line to walk between ‘creepy’ and ‘cliché’ – with every one person that finds The Nun horrifying, there are nine more who find it laughable.

Yet, for all of its rules, the genre also seems to understand that it needs to evolve in order to stay relevant. No longer is it just the masked man wielding a chainsaw out to get you, it’s also the chavs you stumbled across on your romantic getaway. No longer is it just malevolent forces whose home you have just moved in to wanting to rip you apart, it’s also someone who just wanted to kill you for the sheer thrill of it. The characters themselves have evolved over time – men are no longer void of emotions aside from sexual desires; they’re remorseful, protective, impassioned.

Women have evolved too and are no longer the pure virgin, the damsel in distress waiting to be saved, lungs sore from screaming the whole film – they’re mothers protecting their children, they’re stronger, finding ways to defend themselves so the fight against evil isn’t so one-sided. Laurie Strode defines that evolution.

Happy Halloween

Halloween (1978) Opening Sequence

Halloween was released in 1978 and became an instant horror classic. From the opening shot of Michael’s first murder to the music that travels around Michael to that William Shatner mask, John Carpenter created (perhaps unwittingly) a horror legacy. The film follows Michael Myers, an escaped convict, as he returns home on Halloween night, fifteen years after killing his sister in order to kill again. His new obsession? Laurie Strode.

Laurie in the 1970s was a fair-haired, intelligent teenager. Naive but sweet. She had the aura of a girl who would roll her eyes if you asked her for the homework answers but would still hand you the completed worksheet. In fact, one of her friends asks her to look after the girl she’s babysitting in order to go and see her boyfriend – after much back and forth, eventually Laurie agrees to. A typical character of the time, a lovely girl who no one expects bad things to happen to.

From the moment Myers first stabs Laurie’s shoulder, there is a hint of what Laurie could be, the strength she has inside. She smashes a window open in order to escape, she makes sure the children are safe by keeping them upstairs away from the chaos and she stabs Myers in the neck with a knitting needle, with the aim of killing him. However, with knowing that Myers’ doctor, Dr Loomis, is out there looking for him there is a sense of waiting. Waiting for the heroine to be rescued from the big bad wolf.

After the infamous closet scene, where Laurie stabs Myers in the eye and then promptly stabs his chest with his own dropped knife, she begins to slip back into her exhaustion. Myers rises behind her and strangles her, taking advantage of her state of near unconsciousness. Though she puts up a good fight, it’s not until Loomis appears and shoots Myers that he stops. After falling from the balcony and after being shot and stabbed multiple times, Myers still finds the energy to get up and slip away. Laurie sobs, knowing the fight isn’t over, knowing that he’s still alive – and that is the final shot of Laurie Strode in 1978.

Though Myers kills others in this film, there’s a disturbed intent on killing Laurie. Even after she believes she’s killed him (twice), instead of disappearing as he does after he’s been shot, Myers immediately attempts to kill her again. It’s as if he can’t rest until he’s finally killed her, which he attempts to do again, forty years later.

Laurie’s Return

Halloween (Official Trailer) – (Universal Pictures)

Laurie Strode in 2018 is a stranger to Laurie Strode in 1978. Her hair is still wild, but white, her smile is gone and she is hardened by the events that have happened to her in the past. She has weapons in her house and she’s been training forty years for Myers’ reappearance. Gone is the naivety, her underlining strength becoming the forefront of her very self. Though she has mental health issues, having a panic attack at her daughter’s house, it doesn’t deter Laurie for she has more than just herself to fight for – she’s fighting for her estranged daughter Karen and for her granddaughter Allyson.

Though Laurie is hell bent on destroying Myers once and for all, she also understands the importance of keeping her family safe, just as she understood the importance of keeping those children safe all those years ago.

In the final scene of the more recent Halloween film, Laurie (with the help of her family) traps Myers in a safe room as it fills with gas. She lights a flare and tosses it into the room, setting it and the rest of the house aflame. It’s redemptive – she doesn’t sob with fear, nor is there a hint that Michael is still alive. She works together with her family, her courage coming from them as well as from herself. The three women embrace as they’re taken to safety, relieved that a forty-year nightmare is finally over – and that is the final shot of the film and of Laurie Strode.

Though the 2018 film may have had more of an impact on Halloween’s progression had there not been many more films in the franchise, it is hard to deny to the impact the films have had on horror lore as a whole. Laurie Strode defines those films just as much as Michael Myers. Her evolution from sweetheart to conqueror is just as vital and iconic as the William Shatner mask.

Editorials

Five Movies To Watch Right Now On BBC iPlayer

January 30, 2019
I, Daniel Blake

In the age of streaming, where two heavyweight services in the form of Netflix and Amazon Prime seem to dominate the platform, it’s easy to forget about the other services that can be used to watch and enjoy films on, such as BBC iPlayer. Though there is a limited time to watch these films, iPlayer provides a wide variety of films to suit all tastes, from documentaries, to biopics, to horror. Below is a taste of films iPlayer has to offer, at the time of writing.

Man on the Moon (1999) – Available for five months

Jim Carrey (Man on the Moon)

A biopic of Andy Kaufman, the Saturday Night Live star, possibly shouldn’t have a history as interesting as the film itself. Starring Jim Carrey, Man on the Moon depicts the life of the Taxi star, from his struggle to “make it” as it were, to his sitcom hating days, to his wrestling career, to the end of his remarkable but short life. In perhaps a bitter twist, after playing tricks on his audience throughout the film, Andy realises in a desperate attempt to save his life, that he too has had the wool pulled over his eyes; and in that moment, he just laughs. It’s a hauntingly tragic performance by Carrey, who threw his all into the role (which is explored in a documentary entitled “Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond”) and it’s one that brings a tear to the eye.

The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018) – Available for thirteen days

Orson Welles (The Eyes of Orson Welles)

Often regarded as one of the most important, or even the best, director of all time, Orson Welles left behind a mysterious legacy and this documentary aims to give you further insight into how Welles’ mind worked. Mark Cousins takes the viewer on a visual journey, showcasing the sketches and artwork Welles’ drew during his time – sketches of the people and places he found vividly intriguing. It’s an entirely new way to view his films and Cousins seems to have nothing but admiration for him. Though it seems to add more to the secrecy of Welles, it also begs to question of where his inspiration came from and of how he viewed his own conscience. Cousins documentary reads like a love-letter to the director creating an awe-inspiring film, for any fan.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Available for over a year

Night of the living Dead
Zombies (Night of the Living Dead)

In what is often seen as a pivotal film for horror and zombie culture alike, George A. Romero’s classic film follows an unlikely group of allies as they attempt to survive the undead uprising together. It’s an iconic horror, one that has since gone on to inspire many other zombie films, including Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. Though filmed in 1968, it has remained as gruesome as ever; one scene depicts a failed escape attempt by the group, resulting in two charred bodies being eaten by the undead. The ending of hope for one lucky survivor is also snatched away at the last minute, leaving the audience feeling as hopeless as those trying to survive. It’s a must watch for horror, zombie and classic film fans alike.

I, Daniel Blake (2016) – Available for five days.

I, Daniel Blake

A gritty tale of how politics can affect the ‘little guy’, I, Daniel Blake follows its protagonist as he tries to appeal the decision that he is fit for work, after being told by medical specialists he is not. He forms an unlikely friendship with a single mother, helping her to survive on the bare minimum, and attempts to save her from a certain path of desperation, even though she sees no other way to feed her children. The Ken Loach film looks deep into how certain decisions from those in charge, can change us and turn protestors into us all. In one particular scene, after being told he must look harder for work or risk being sanctioned, Blake spray paints “I, Daniel Blake, demand my appeal date before I starve”. It’s a poignant film and one of Loach’s best.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) – Available for twelve days

Manchester by the sea
Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck gives his best performance to date in Manchester by the Sea, as he plays a troubled handyman by the name of Lee who, after losing his brother, has to try to navigate his way through his grief and the subsequent responsibility of looking after his nephew, Patrick.  The film is often fraught with despair; no matter the choices Lee makes, it never seems to be the right one, and though he wants to be there for his nephew, he also seems to realise that the best thing he can possibly do for Patrick is to not be in his life at all. However, despite all this, the film manages to maintain an air of possibilities – the possibility that Lee and Patrick can keep their new found relationship positive, the possibility that Lee can face his demons and, more importantly, the possibility that Lee can defeat his demons. A tragically beautiful film that will stay with you.

Watch all these films & more on BBC iPlayer.