Category: Editorials

Read the latest editorials and opinion pieces from Big Picture Film Club.


5 Feel-Good Movies on Netflix

March 29, 2020
5 Feel-Good Movies on Netflix

With everything currently going on in the world regarding Coronavirus, many of us just want a way to distract ourselves from this depressing situation. Thankfully streaming giant Netflix is happy to provide us with hours of escapist fun. And today I want to take the opportunity to recommend five titles that are currently streaming on Netflix to help put a smile back on your face.

Classic: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

This is the film equivalent of a warm, loving hug. There is nothing I can say about The Wizard of Oz that hasn’t been said a million times. The story of young Dorothy Gale’s (Judy Garland) journey of self-discovery as she is swept away to the land of Oz has inspired many people and continues to inspire many more as years go by. And while it may have its scary parts (The Wicked Witch of the West; her armies of flying monkeys and Winkies continue to scare children to this day) the loveable heroes, beautiful set design, iconic music, and the heart-warming story will ensure that a smile is never far away. If you don’t feel happy inside by the end of the Wizard of Oz, there is something wrong with you.

Wizard of Oz, currently streaming on Netflix
Dorothy skipping down the yellow brick road with Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (1939) [Source: AVS Forum]

Documentary: Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

If you need to restore your faith in humanity, this is the film to see. This documentary goes in-depth into the life of children’s TV host Fred Rogers and gives us insight into his world view. How he believed in teaching children about important issues without talking down to them to help them grow and develop into good people. He dealt with topics like the assassination of Robert Kennedy, racism, depression and many other heavy subjects on his show. And the doc even delves into his personal fear that he hadn’t done enough to reach people. It’s a very human portrait of a man who believed in the best of us, which will leave you inspired and much more positive about the world.

Won't You Be My Neighbour, currently streaming on Netflix
Fred Rogers putting on his iconic cardigan. Won’t You Be My Neighbour [Source: Empire]

Comedy/Drama: Fighting with my Family

The story of Saraya Knight alias Paige (Florence Pugh) and her journey from humble beginnings, wrestling and teaching the sport with her family in Norwich, to WWE Diva’s Champion. Fighting with my Family is a treat for one simple reason, it feels entirely genuine. Everyone can relate to the hardships of trying to chase your dreams and even the hardship of having to give up your dreams for something else, like Paige’s brother Zak (Jack Lowden). And because of that, we route even more for our heroine to succeed. The family dynamic is also tender and affectionate with Nick Frost and Lena Headey providing fantastic turns as Paige’s parents. And a funny bit part for Dwayne Johnson ensures you will come out of the film with a spring in your step.

Fighthing With My Family, currently streaming on Netflix
Florence Pugh as Paige dreaming of becoming a wrestling superstar in Fighting With My Family [Source: Entertainment Weekly]

Animation: My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro is the definition of adorable. Two young girls and their father move to a new house in the countryside while their mother is in hospital. Through a series of chance sightings and some investigating the girls then encounter several woodland spirits. Which includes the eponymous Totoro with whom they proceed to have many adventures. Totoro is a film that is impossible to not love. Showing the world through the eyes of a child, where there is no argument that can’t be solved with kindness and compassion, nothing is ever hopeless, and the world truly is a magical place (coupled with some of the cutest creature designs ever) the film is guaranteed to get you in a good mood.

My Neighbour Totoro
Satsuki and Mei fishing with Totoro and the woodland spirits in My Neighbour Totoro [Source: Empire]

Netflix Original: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Lara Jean (Lana Condor) has long existed in the margins. Her crush is dating her sister, her former friend is now her worst enemy and her little sister won’t stop criticizing her driving. Her one solace is her letters to all the boys she has had a crush on. Which allows her to get all her feelings out. However, when her letters are sent to her crushes she has to try and fix the problem. And the answer to her problems may lie in her former friend’s ex-boyfriend Peter (Noah Centineo). If you’re looking for a rom-com, full of charming characters, a good sense of humour, a central couple with great chemistry and even a few surprises along the way then do yourself a favour and check out To All the Boys for a reminder of the beauty of young love.

Netflix Original, To All The Boys I Have Loved Before
Lara Jean, her younger sister Kitty and Peter watching a movie in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before [Source: NME.com]

Thus, ends our recommendations list of feel-good film on Netflix. We hope you all enjoy our choices and that they help to add a little joy during this tough time. If you want to recommend any films on Netflix then let us know in the comments.

Also Read: 5 Documentaries To Watch On Netflix

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Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

March 25, 2020
Cinema screen

Right now it seems that Covid-19 has affected just about every aspect of our lives. With more extreme measures being introduced every day, every industry is taking big hits. Many are temporarily shutting down completely during the pandemic. The film industry especially has seen major disruption. While a lot of the effects may not truly be revealed until after the pandemic, here are some of the more immediate results.

Releases Delayed

James Bond
Bond has some extra time to die on his hands now (MGM, 2020)

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, people were advised against attending large gatherings, such as concerts and weddings, with many being cancelled or postponed until a later date.

The 007 Franchise is one of the biggest, with the latest instalment carrying lots of positive behind the scenes buzz. In addition, it will also be the swansong for Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond. Originally scheduled to release on April 2nd, and at the height of marketing, with the title theme released and press tour about to begin. It will now release in November, a whole eight months later, in light of the Coronavirus situation.

Bond was arguably the biggest release of the summer, but it was shortly followed by several others, including Mulan, Peter Rabbit 2, A Quiet Place 2, Black Widow and ironically Fast 9, as well as some smaller releases.

Perhaps one of the biggest casualties is The New Mutants, which has now been delayed four times, from its original date of April 13th, 2018. Currently, there is no release date, like most of the delayed films, although it could still happen this year.

Productions Stopped

Skydance 2020 Movie
A deadly virus that will affect millions on a global scale seems like something Ethan Hunt and the IMF should have dealt with (Skydance, 2020)

In addition to completed films having their releases delayed, films and many tv shows, are halting production, films like Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”, “Mission Impossible 7” “Jurassic World: Dominion” “The Matrix 4” and the third instalment in the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts” series have all suspended production..This is all done for the health of cast and crew as well as an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

While these delays are understandable, they will likely have knock-on effects. While many of these films are not due for release until next year at the earliest, depending on how long this situation goes on for, this could result in some of, if not all, these films being delayed due to the new timetable.

Film release windows are a delicate science, with studios needing to consider potential competition, as well as the target audience and other factors when releasing a film, so some of these films could have severe delays, such as Fast 9 being delayed by a full year.

Festivals Cancelled

Cannes Film Festival
Could Cannes be Canneclled? (THR,2020)

As part of cancelling large gatherings, many film festivals have been cancelled, including SXSW. This is a major blow to countless independent and smaller budget films that count on the exposure gained from these festivals to get distribution. Cannes is working on a backup plan, a “virtual marketplace” where films can be screened, and presentations from filmmakers. It would also allow for video meetings, for deals to be hashed out and more.

New Releases Streaming

The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is just one of several new releases that are available on demand during their theatrical run (Universal, 2020)

With most cinemas closed, the few films that are releasing aren’t bringing in big numbers at the box office. As a result, several studios, like Universal, have released their films online, with some on the same day as they are released in theatres. Frozen 2 and (soon) Onward can also be found on Disney+. While this is a simple and effective solution to the current isolation measures put in place, it does bring into question the future of cinemas and new releases. Traditionally there is a gap of several months between a theatrical release and a film being available on demand. With these extenuating circumstances, this “rule” no longer applies. Christopher Nolan recently wrote a letter in defence of cinemas.

It remains to be seen what kind of effect this will have on digital releases in the future. Jason Blum predicts that there will be a change after the pandemic has subsided, with fewer films being given theatrical releases or having shorter runs in theatres. Netflix has encountered this problem, giving The Irishman a short stint in cinemas upon its release in order to qualify for Oscar nominations. This could give streaming another leg up over cinema, if people can watch a new release at home or go to the cinema, which would they choose?

Hopefully, cinemas will still be around for a long time yet after this crisis is over, even if we might have to wait a little longer for some of this year’s big releases.

Also Read: The Simpsons’ Obsession With Films

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The Simpsons’ Obsession With Films

March 23, 2020
The Simpsons - A Clockwork Orange

This is a film website but this is not an article about The Simpsons Movie, rather an article about how The Simpsons is the ultimate television show for a lover of film. The legendary animation is arguably the greatest television show ever made and is completely and utterly obsessed with film, with hundreds, if not thousands, of references crammed into the show.

Watching That Hollywood Hogwash

The Simpsons is not the only show to reference films a lot. British sitcom Spaced was equally obsessed and perhaps even more subtle but not as prolific or as famous. Then there is Family Guy, which I would argue is very clumsy with their references, forcing them into any situation, whereas The Simpsons seamlessly weave them into the show, to give just one example in “Dog of Death” The family dog runs away and is taken in by Mr Burns and trained to be an attack dog, part of his training is being restrained and forced to watch violence against dogs, the scene referencing A Clockwork Orange but makes sense on its own. You don’t need to have seen the film but it’s adds something to it. This is a show with layers and I still watch episodes from twenty years and find new jokes and hidden references in it.

Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children!

The Simpsons - A Clockwork Orange reference

I watched The Simpsons from an early age and so the references I got as a child were mainly around Star Wars or Indiana Jones but, thankfully, I never watched Stanley Kubrick films as a young child. The Simpsons is littered with references to Kubrick and some are frankly unsuitable for what was, in the beginning, a children’s television show. So we have Homer riding a vibrating chair that goes into the trippy ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Homer imitating Major Kong, riding an A-Bomb as in Dr. Strangelove, and after decorating Todd Flanders talking about the “red room, red room, over there” an impression of Danny from The Shining. At least six Simpsons characters have been portrayed as droogs, the vicious gang from A Clockwork Orange. Homer has been seen as both as a monkey from the beginning of 2001 and the galactic space baby from the end of 2001. There have been two Treehouse of Terror instalments solely focused on Kubrick, first the stupendously good “The Shinning” and then a replay of most of Kubrick’s career in “A Clockwork Yellow”.

You May Remember Me From…

Troy McClure in The Planet Of The Apes Musical (youtube.com)

The Simpsons isn’t just obsessed with watching films, they very like the world behind films. Springfield has at least two film stars – Rainier Wolfcastle, an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type action hero and Troy McClure, one of the greatest characters in television comedy. McClure is usually portrayed as a washed-up actor, with a bizarre personal life, who has appeared in a long list of ridiculous films with such brilliant titles as The Greatest Story Ever Hulu’d, Dial M for Murderousness and The President’s Neck Is Missing. Whilst incredibly funny in his own right, McClure is a way poking fun at Hollywood and the movie-making industry, such as his unscrupulous agent MacArthur Parker who suggests getting fake married to make him seem less weird.

Thank God We’re Back In Hollywood Where People Treat Each Other Right

The episodes “A Star Is Burns” and “Radioactive Man” both depict a less than flattering portrayal of the movie business. The first deals with the Springfield Film Festival in which Homer is chosen as a judge over Martin Scorsese and the latter with when the superhero film Radioactive Man is filmed in Springfield, the joke being it is the small-town Springfieldianites who swindle the Hollywood big-shots.

Stop Him! He’s Supposed To Die!

The Simpsons referencing James Bond
The Simpsons referencing James Bond

There are a number of standout episodes that basically steal their plots from films. There is “Rosebud”, the episode about Mr. Burns’ missing childhood teddy bear which is as blatant a Citizen Kane homage as you’re going to get from the title of the episode to the design of the gates of Mr Burns’ mansion. The episode “Cape Feare” is not surprisingly a riff on Cape Fear but also contained references to many other films including Edward Scissorhands and Night of the Hunter. And then there is “You Only Move Twice”, often cited as the best episode of the show, in which Homer goes to work for Hank Scorpio, an amalgamation of numerous James Bond villains.

The Simpsons made these references because Star Wars, James Bond, Spielberg are cultural touchstones. Just about everyone, even those who haven’t seen the film, will get a joke about E.T or Jurassic Park. So it’s very fitting that The Simpsons has become as big a cultural touchstone as any of these films. I would say that in the future it will be The Simpsons that will be referenced but that’s already happened.

Also Read: 7 Great Films About Bad Weather

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7 Great Films about Bad Weather

March 22, 2020
Into the Storm

There are few things better than watching a film on a rainy day. Some films are even about rainy days. In fact, there’s an entire genre about adverse weather conditions. Director Roland Emmerich rose to fame because of them.

If you find yourself stuck inside on a rainy day, here are several appropriate films to help you pass the time away. While there are many disaster films about earthquakes and the end of the world, these films are about the weather. No matter how bad the weather is, at least it isn’t as bad as in any of these films.

The Impossible (2012)

The Impossible Movie
Yes, Tsunami’s aren’t “bad weather” but they aren’t exactly beach weather either (Warner Brothers/Summit Entertainment, 2012)

Based on a true story of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, The Impossible follows the (fictional) Bennet family as they attempt to find each other and survive in the aftermath of the tsunami. Featuring a young Tom Holland in his feature film debut, as well as an Oscar-nominated performance from Naomi Watts and an excellent turn from Ewan McGregor. The tsunami itself was achieved with a mixture of practical and digital effects, including miniatures. Holland and Watts spent several weeks in a giant water tank during filming.

Frozen (2013)

Frozen Disney
It’s very hard to resist singing “Do you want to build a snowman?” whenever it’s snowing (Disney, 2013)

Even for those who haven’t seen this one, it’s hard not to know about it. It seemed like the whole world had Frozen fever when it was released. The story of two sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Indina Menzel) and their bond, as they try to save their kingdom from an eternal winter. A more modern fairytale than some other Disney classics, it won Oscar’s for Best Animated Feature and Original Song for “Let it Go“.

Sharknado (2013)

Sharknado Movie
The worst thing about a sharknado is nowhere is safe (The Asylum, 2013)

A tornado scoops up sharks and heads towards land. That’s it, that’s a Sharknado. The series starts off with this simple premise, but later progresses to include a space battle and time travel! The hero, Fin (yes really) fights to protect his family and the world from the sharks flying through the air. It’s got plenty of cameos, from David Hasselhoff to George R.R Martin and even Jedward. Perhaps the weirdest part though, is that a sharknado is actually possible

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

The Day After Tomorrow
Although climate change flooding is an issue, it’s unlikely we’ll have to deal with this (20th Century Fox, 2004)

Roland Emmerich directs this cautionary tale about climate change, following a scientist and his son as they try to reunite against the dawning of a new ice age. The film was a box office success, and though several scientists have issues with its science, they have applauded its awareness on the issue of climate change.

The Fog (1980)

Anyone who’s ever driven in the fog knows how difficult it is, boats must be even trickier (AVCO Embassy Pictures, 1980)

While John Carpenter may be more well known for his slasher and sci-fi films, he also took a stab at a weather-based horror. A hundred years after a ship mysteriously sank nearby, a small town is covered in a mysterious fog. Although it has since gained a bit of a cult following, Carpenter himself is rather dismissive of the film, due to the troubled production.

Twister (1996)

Twister Movie
“Just popping out for some milk dear” (Warner Bros/Universal, 1996)

Written by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton and produced by Steven Speilberg, Twister follows Helen Hunt and her estranged husband Bill Paxton as storm chasers, driving right into twisters in the name of science. Its special effects were nominated for an Oscar, and it gave us this cow scene. The shoot was full of injuries, like a crewmember being hit by a camera. Paxton and Hunt were actually temporarily blinded during the shoot, and someone was stook inside a collapsing house!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs Movie
How most of us would react if it started raining food (Sony Pictures Animation, 2009)

Probably the least likely weather occurrence on this list (although you never know), water molecules in the air are turned into food. The result is a sleepy fishing town has rainy days of burgers and a snow day with ice cream. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller intentionally parodied disaster movies and explain the weather with lots of pseudo-sciences.

Also Read: The Greatest Horror Villains of Each Decade

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‘And Then We Danced’, Robyn, and Music in Queer Cinema

March 21, 2020

No, you’re not going to get what you need. Baby, I have what you want. Merab stands, cigarette in hand, topless, a crucifix on a chain around his neck. Come get your honey. Orange light floods the conservatory. Irakli’s dark eyes watch him as he puts on a white hat, adorned with feathers. I got your honey, baby. Then the beat kicks in. Every colour and every taste. Every breath that whispers your name. It’s like emeralds on the pavement. Merab dances, his body in perfect sync to the bass of the track. Irakli laughs, taken in by the jovial smirk on Merab’s face. The dance is part seduction, part game. It’s sexy and fun all at once. Then the music cuts. 

And Then We Danced, a film by Levan Akin, is a tender story of first love between two men in the world of Georgian folk dancing. Upon its release in Georgia, it was protested and considered a ‘moral threat’ by conservatives in the country. With this in mind, Robyn’s 2018 dance hit ‘Honey’ accompanying this tantalising seduction feels even more potent. The link between queerness and music has long been noted, from the adoration of icons like Cher, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, and Diana Ross, to the likes of Beyoncé, Carley Rae Jepsen, and, of course, Robyn, whose music regularly reverberates of the walls in queer night clubs today. Music, in fact, is one of the first-time’s queer people felt they had some semblance of power, of having a say in something. In the 1970s, to get a disco track to be a hit, the song had to be playing in gay bars. This connection, to the upbeat sound and lyrics about oppression and loss, scared white heterosexual executives so much they that formulated a consigned effort to invalidate its success, and thus entered the ‘disco sucks’ crowd.

Music and cinema have also always been intrinsically linked. From silent movies accompanied by live pianists to the use of the ‘Unchained Melody’ in Ghost to Mr Blonde’s mischievous dance to ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’, many of the most famous scenes in film have been set to now equally renowned music. In queer cinema, however, the relationship between the music and the characters feels more tangible, something that works on multiple levels. In 1970, Kenneth Nelson performed a truncated version of gay icon Judy Garland’s ‘Get Happy’ in The Boys in the Band. Garland’s popularity amongst the gay community is practically unparalleled, the phrase ‘a friend of Dorothy’ was historically used to discreetly describe gay men in reference to Garland’s most famous starring role. In 1989, Longtime Companion, the first studio movie to discuss AIDS, has a character lip-sync to the Dreamgirls cast album while unpacking boxes. The Broadway musical, a roman-à-clef based on the story of The Supremes, was a bit hit in 1981 and was recently described as having a ‘piercing message of self-empowerment and self-love’ that appeals to queer folk, both then and now. 1994’s The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert features a whole host of disco and camp classics on its soundtrack as three drag queens travel across the Australian outback in a supped-up bus. In essence, the music acts as the sound of liberation, freedom, and unabashed queerness. 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
The Miseducation of Cameron Post / PHOTO: Vertigo Releasing

Often, music in queer cinema works not only as a soundtrack for the experience of the LGBTQ+ characters on-screen, but acts as a signpost to the queerness that exists beyond the edge of the frame. Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood features a pivotal moment set to ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna, a current icon for the gay community, idolised for her no-bullshit attitude and pop music prevalence. Or Xavier Dolan’s use of Lana Del Rey, famous for her musings on deadbeat men and ethereal ‘sad girl’ energy, in his Palme d’Or, winning Mommy. Luca Guadagnino not only featured new songs by queer-friendly Sufjan Stevens in his coming-of-age story Call Me By Your Name but also included ‘Love My Way’ by The Psychedelic Furs, a song that was written for those who were struggling with their sexuality in the eighties. While Desiree Akhavan’s tale of youths in conversion therapy, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, sees a moment of jubilance and freedom to the 4 Non Blondes song ‘What’s Up?’, whose lead singer, Linda Perry, famously performed with the word ‘Dyke’ scribbled on her guitar at the 1994 Billboard Music Awards. 

That brings us back to Robyn, the Swedish queen of Europop and recent RuPaul guest judge, who has risen to be a substantial icon for the queer community. She was recently described, by Tom Rasmussen for Another Man, as a woman who ‘gets it’, ‘it’ being the queer experience. Her lyrics cater to the ‘outcast’ and capitalise on ‘the exact tension between the agony, and the ecstasy inside the agony.’ Her music understands the unrequited, the existential, the messy, the dramatic, the murky areas between the lines, and as such appeals to a lot of what makes queer desire so specific. 

Levan Gelbakhiani & Bachi Valishvili, stars of And Then We Danced / PHOTO: CAROLINA BYRMO

‘Honey’, which has been described by Robyn herself as being about a sweet and gloopy ‘state of mind instead of the actual substance’, features lyrics of delicate and sensual longing, a desire to provide and open up for a lover. In Merab’s case, he’s been taken in by the dark and brooding Irakli, his passion is seeping from his skin, his longing visible in each pained stare. In this moment, as the only two people awake late at night, they share an intimate moment so palpable, so crammed with sexual tension, that heart rates will pound along to the electronic beat. 

And Then We Danced is the latest in a long line of queer films that utilise that relationship between LGBTQ+ people and music, specifically their connection to the content and power that music historically brings. So often cinema, like music, is an act of translation. Queer people find a way to relate to the stories on screen that rarely represent them, but in those that do, it feels exciting and even liberating. For a soundtrack to acknowledge that musical connection is like acknowledging the whole notion of queer struggle and how music has been central to queer lives for years. 

And Then We Dances (Official Trailer)

And Then We Danced is available to rent / download now

Also Read: “Birds of Prey” and the Curse of Being Casually Queer

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The Greatest Horror Villain of Each Decade

March 18, 2020
horror-movie-villains-collage [Source: shnakebite91 Wordpress]

Horror cinema has many iconic villains and today we’ll be counting down 10 of the greatest merchants of menace. I will choose a single villain from each decade, look at a bit of the villain’s background and how they managed to traumatize audiences who watched their films. So, let’s get spooky.

1920s: Count Orlok – Nosferatu (1922)

Originally made as a Dracula stand-in, Count Orlok has become a great villain in his own right. With actor Max Schreck’s towering frame, creeping shadow, sharp teeth, and keen unblinking eyes Orlok has become an instantly recognizable cinematic predator that has lasted almost a century. Not even Stoker’s estate could prevent him from becoming a cinematic nightmare.

Count Orlok one of Cinema's greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]
Count Orlok one of Cinema’s greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]

1930s: Frankenstein’s Monster – Frankenstein (1931)

The archetypal mad scientist creation. The monster isn’t necessarily evil but because of continual abuse and a lack of moral guidance, he begins violently lashing out at the world. Frankenstein’s Monster has a legendary look courtesy of makeup artist Jack Pierce. And thanks to Boris Karloff’s animalistic performance, which makes the character threatening and sympathetic, Frankenstein’s Monster has been cemented as one of horror’s most tragic monsters.

Frankenstein's Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki - Fandom]
Frankenstein’s Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki – Fandom]

1940s: The Wolf Man – The Wolf Man (1941)

Like Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man garners great sympathy because of host Larry Talbot’s (Lon Chaney Jr’s) inability to control the monster within him. But unlike Frankenstein the Wolf Man is vicious. Murdering innocent people and leaving Larry to deal with the consequences. With Jack Pierce’s brilliant makeup making the monster the midpoint between man and beast, the Wolf Man is an iconic example of the darkness in all men.

One of cinema's most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]
One of cinema’s most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]

1950s: Godzilla – Godzilla Series

Cinema’s biggest monster. Starring in 35 films since 1954 Godzilla is a Japanese icon. He’s a prehistoric monster awakened by hydrogen bomb testing and was created as a symbol for the destructive powers of the atomic age, though lately, he has become a metaphor for nature striking back at humanity. He’s the embodiment of destruction and for 66 years he’s shown that for all our advances annihilation is never far away.

Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954)
Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954) [Source: USA Today]

1960s: Norman Bates – Psycho (1960)

The grandfather of all slasher villains. While seemingly normal, Norman hides another personality that forces him to kill anyone who threatens the illusion that his mother is still alive. Thanks to Anthony Perkins’ understated performance and Alfred Hitchcock’s direction Norman Bates (based on murderer Ed Gein) terrified audiences by showing that even the quiet good-looking boy next door could turn out to be a murderer.

Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960)
Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960) [Source: Bloody Disgusting]

1970s: The Caller – Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas‘ sorority house killer remains perhaps horror’s most terrifying villain. Because nothing about him is explained. His victims are random. The only insights we get into him are his disjointed, threatening ramblings. And his appearance, voice; name remain a mystery. Inspired by the urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairsthe Caller embodies the fear that you’re never safe. Even in your own home.

The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974)
The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974) [Source: The Dead Meat Wiki Fandom]

1980s: Freddy Krueger – The Nightmare on Elm Street Series

The burnt, razor glove wielding, Christmas sweater and fedora sporting dream killer has been scaring viewers since his 1984 debut. Inspired by stories about young people suddenly dying in their sleep and brought to life in skin-crawling fashion by Robert Englund, Krueger takes sadistic pleasure in twisting his victim’s dreams into nightmares. And the sheer glee he takes in his cruelty is what makes him cinema’s most iconic bogeyman.

The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) [Source: NME.com]

1990s: Candyman – Candyman Series

Originally, Daniel Robitaille, Candyman became a vengeful spirit after he was killed over a 19th-century interracial love affair. His hand was mutilated, his body smothered in honey and he was stung to death by bees. Now he kills anyone who dares say his name five times in a mirror. With his imposing figure, hooked hand and Tony Todd’s intimidating voice, Candyman is a true terror titan.

The urban legend Candyman (1992)
The urban legend Candyman (1992) [Source: The Clive Barker Podcast]

2000s: Jigsaw – Saw Series

Jigsaw is the horror villain of the 2000s. Embodying post 9/11 anxieties about the morality of torture Jigsaw, aka John Cramer managed to carve out a gruesome legacy for himself. His use of ironic traps to reform/eradicate those who he believes don’t appreciate life, Tobin Bell’s commanding voice and his animatronic mascot made him the face of torture horror. And his legacy has continued through multiple accomplices and successors.

Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask
Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask [Source: Screen Rant]

2010s: It/Pennywise – It (2017)

Stephen King’s iconic horror creation made a huge impact with Its 2017 reimagining. The creature that haunts Derry, Maine can change into many forms that will give anyone nightmares. His most recognizable form is Pennywise The Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) whose smile hides a desire to devour children. It exploits our fear of the unknown and attacks the sanctity of childhood innocence all at once. Making It the perfect modern horror villain.

Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017)
Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017) [Source: Entertainment Weekly]

So ends my list of horrors 10 best villains. Which horror villains did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Also Read: 7 Reasons Characters Die In Horror Films

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Making A Coen Brothers Film

March 13, 2020
Coen Brothers

One of the trailers for recent Coen Brothers’ release Hail Caesar! was only around thirty seconds long and most of that was simply listing some of the Coen Brothers’ previous films. You didn’t need to know what Hail Caesar! was about, the fact that it was a Coen Brothers film told you all you needed to know. And really – that’s right, they have a body of work any director would be proud of.

The Typical Coen Brothers Film…

To be blunt there is no typical Coen Brothers film, they move from knockabout comedy to incredibly tense thrillers – genre seems to mean nothing to them and is certainly no predictor of quality – they’re as comfortable making stoner comedies as gangster films. It is genuinely astounding that it is the same people who made O’ Brother Where Art Thou? as No Country For Old Men. Other directors also play with genre – Quentin Tarantino for example – but whether it’s a revenge thriller or western they are still distinctly a Tarantino film. The Coen Brothers go beyond that and I would argue that without any prior knowledge no one would suspect Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing were made by the same people. Looking at their work I split their films into three categories.

The Violent

No Country For Old Men
No Country For Old Men (Empire.com)

These films are tense. No Country For Old Men is a lesson in tension, what should have been an idle bit of chit chat in a petrol station became perhaps the standout scene of this Oscar-winning film. And what was causing the tension? The outcome of a coin toss. No violence, no guns, and only the barest suggestion of threat and you can’t take your eyes off the screen. That said, they are a dab hand with actual violence as well with deftly choreographed scenes of fighting in No Country For Old Men, True Grit and Miller’s Crossing.

The Funny

The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski (brandontalksmovies.com)

Not only are the Coen Brothers very funny they can do different types of humour. One of the funniest scenes of recent years is the now legendary back and forth in Hail Caesar! of a director trying to coach an actor into saying a line the right way – so much is put into just the two characters repeating that line at each other. They also create fictional porn films where the Dude goes bowling with a Valkyrie in what might be best the dream sequence ever filmed. It is safe to say they have comedic range.

The Tragic

Inside Lleywn Davis
Inside Lleywn Davis (latimes.com)

When they want to the Coen Brothers can make you sad. A Serious Man is one of the most tragic films I have ever seen as you watch everything good in a man’s life being drained away and how he struggles to still do the right thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to bring myself to watch Inside Llewyn Davis again as you see an extremely talented person just knocked around by life, his fortunes so low he has no winter coat for the freezing cold New York.

The Perfect Coen Brothers Film

They have at least one film that brings these three things together perfectly and that is Fargo. The film that won Frances McDormand her first Oscar, cemented a stereotype of North Dakota and inexorably linked Steve Buscemi to the idea of being ground up in a wood chipper. The film is funny, tragic and violent and does it all in less than 100 minutes. The story of Jerry Lundegaard hiring perhaps not the best criminals to fake kidnap his wife so he get the ransom from her extremely wealthy father is riveting from the first scene.

The tension that the viewer has for Marge Gunderson, the heavily pregnant cop who is drawn into the crime is immense and grows over time, what will happen in the inevitable showdown between cop and criminal? The criminals are perhaps more violent and conspicuous than Jerry hoped for, leaving a trail of bodies behind them, ending of course with one of them killing his partner in a famously gruesome way. As for tragedy – Jerry Lundegaard may be the most pathetic figure in cinema history with failure and idiocy dogging his every move and his inaction and incompetence only growing as his plan spirals out of control. Then there is the bizarre meeting between Marge and an old school acquaintance, of no relevance whatsoever to the plot, but with brilliant performances from both actors.

As for comedy…well it’s certainly very dark comedy, a lot coming from the very pleasant and smalltown people who find themselves as everyday characters surrounded by murder and violence. That said, Marge, who is as pleasant and smalltown as any of them is also shown to be extremely determined and capable so maybe don’t underestimate them.

The Coen Brothers – what’s next?

Of course, their real genius is that usually their films contain all three of things in varying amounts. According to IMDb their next film is Macbeth and really I don’t know what to expect – a bloodsoaked rampage, a comedy of errors or the saddest portrayal of the Scottish Play ever made.

Also Read: The Anatomy of a Christopher Nolan Film

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1994: The Year of Jim Carrey

March 7, 2020
Jim Carrey as Dr Robotnik

1994 was a great year. Seal released “Kiss From A Rose“. The original Playstation made it’s way to homes everywhere as well as Friends airing its first season. Alongside this, we had some classic films released. The Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King, Pulp Fiction. It was an especially great year for Jim Carrey.

Carrey had his breakout year in ’94, with arguably his best-known work all being released during the year: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask. These films propelled him into a household name and some of his best performances. 1994 was the year of Carrey.

“Pleasure To Meet You, Mr. Camp, And Congratulations On All Your Success. You Smell Terrific.”

Carrey's breakout role as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Carrey’s breakout role as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

After a few years in stand-up, and a failed audition for Saturday Night Live, Carrey got a start on In Living Colour. In the February of 94, Ace Ventura Pet Detective was released. Although the film wasn’t a hit with critics, it was with audiences, grossing over $107 million on a very modest budget, and gaining a cult following. Carrey’s over the top performance helped make it very quotable, including the iconic “Alrighty then!

Originally, Rick Moranis was approached for the role, but after he and several others turned it down (including Alan Rickman), Carrey was cast for his sketch comedy work. He was allowed to rewrite the script and improvise a lot. The inspiration came from several places, like a desire to be “unstoppably ridiculous” and a bird.

“I’m Smoking!”

The Mask - Jim Carrey
The Mask, is the perfect role for Jim Carrey (1994)

Before Ace Ventura became such a big hit, Carrey had signed on for an adaptation of The Mask. A much lighter version of the comic book. Carrey was attracted by the cartoon-esque nature of the project, and was so animated himself he saved on some VFX budget. Being released after Ace Ventura, gave it some added, and unexpected, star power. It also launched the career of Cameron Diaz.

Jim Carrey is the closest thing the world has to a living cartoon, and The Mask is a perfect example of that. The premise allows him to be as wacky as he can be in a way no other film has allowed. The Mask is also the most successful film, critically and commercially, of Carrey’s 94 films. Until recently, it was also the most profitable comic book film ever, before being overtaken by Joker. Carrey was nominated for a golden globe for his performance.

“The most annoying sound in the world”

Carrey as one half of the iconic Dumb and Dumber leads (1994)
Carrey as one half of the iconic Dumb and Dumber leads (1994)

After two successful films in the year, Jim Carrey was certainly a star to watch. However, he wasn’t quite done yet, as December would see the release of Dumb and Dumber. This time Carrey was sharing the spotlight with Jeff Daniels, who was more known for his dramatic roles. Despite some mixed reviews overall, Carrey and Daniel’s performances won lots of praise.

The film owes a lot of it’s success to it’s two main characters, and has become a cult favourite. Like Carrey’s other 94 ventures, it spawned a sequel and an animated series, although this sequel took much longer, arriving in 2014, a whole 20 years later.

“Good Morning! And in case I don’t see ya, Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Good Night!”

arrey's most recent big-screen role, Dr Ivo Robotnik or "Eggman" in Sonic the Hedgehog   (Sega 2020)
Carrey’s most recent big-screen role, Dr Ivo Robotnik or “Eggman” in Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega 2020)

Of course, Carrey’s career didn’t stop there, he would go on to fight Batman as the Riddler, explore dramatic roles in The Truman Show, and most recently, chase a blue blur in the Sonic the Hedgehog film. He is currently back in TV, working on the sitcom “Kidding”. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before he graces our screens with his unique brand of quirky comedy.

Also Read: The Unique Style of Wes Anderson

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Road Trip to Joker: The Success of Todd Phillips

March 5, 2020
Todd Phillips Films

Love him or hate him, director Todd Phillips has certainly made a very successful niche for himself. Today I’ll be looking over the controversial director’s career. Beginning with an overview of his work before looking into his most acclaimed films, The Hangover and Joker and how they succeeded at the box office, with critics, and for the director himself.


Phillips broke into narrative features with 2000’s Road Trip. A sex comedy that made over $119 million dollars at the box office against a $16 million budget. He followed that up with other successes like 2003s gross-out comedy Old School. 2004s movie adaptation of Starsky & Hutch. 2010s buddy road trip film Due Date. 2016s biographical black comedy War Dogs. And The Hangover sequels, which while never earning the acclaim of the original, were still financially successful.

Comparatively, Phillips’ only unsuccessful movie is School of Scoundrels which earned $24 million against a $35 million budget. However inarguably his most successful ventures are The Hangover and Joker.

The leads of The Hangover (2009)
The leads of The Hangover (2009) [Source: Standard.co.uk]

Success and Acclaim: The Hangover & Joker

The Hangover became the highest-grossing R rated comedy of all time during its release (not adjusted for inflation). While this record was later surpassed The Hangover was also celebrated by audiences and critics (Rated 7.7 on IMDb and 78% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Meanwhile, Joker has become the highest-grossing R rated movie of all time, making over $1 billion worldwide. Despite mixed critical reception (68% on Rotten Tomatoes) Joker still received great acclaim. Winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and being nominated for many Best Film and Best Director awards. Audiences also roundly embraced the film (it’s currently rated 8.6 on IMDb and is ranked 46th in the IMDb Top 250).

Both films are examples of popular film trends from their time. The Hangover owes some of its success to the popular raunchy comedies of Judd Apatow. And Joker owes a lot to the domination of comic book movies at the box office.

But both films also have something unique, ambiguity. While The Hangover was a raunchy comedy it also had a grimy presentation. This allowed people to view the film as a condemnation of the activities the characters get involved with. Thus even people unsympathetic to the characters could enjoy laughing at them. Meanwhile, Joker presented its villain as somewhat sympathetic by showcasing how many facets of American culture helped to turn him evil but also presented his actions as shocking. Meaning the film functioned as both a disturbing look inside a killer’s mind but also an exploration of the factors that turned him into one. This ambiguous presentation allows for audiences to engage with these films in different ways. And gives critics a lot to analyze. Which is likely something else that lead to their success.

Frightening killer or victim of society? Joker (2019)
Frightening killer or victim of society? Joker (2019) [Source: Variety]

Todd Phillips’ Risks

Surprisingly Warner Brothers were initially unsupportive of both films. They didn’t want to give The Hangover a $35 million budget, because of its R rating (often not as successful as PG-13 movies) and because the leads were relatively unknown at the time. And even though Joker was a sure-fire hit due to the main characters’ comic popularity, Warner Brothers still attempted to prevent the project being made by giving Phillips a relatively small budget of $55 million.

But this ended up paying off well for Phillips. Because of Warner’s reluctance to finance The Hangover Phillips gave up his directing salary to help make the film and asked for 16% of the films gross. Meaning his pay went from $6.5 million to $75 million. And Phillips took a smaller salary on Joker, again asking for a percentage of the gross. Many publications estimate he will make $100 million from it.

Controversial director Todd Phillip
Controversial director Todd Phillips [Source: NME.com]


In the end, Todd Phillips knows how to get moviegoers talking and how to make a success of it. By using successful formulas his films have struck a note with audiences. And the well-constructed morally ambiguous presentation of Hangover and Joker managed to appeal to many different audiences and critics alike. And thanks to their success and the risks Phillips took to make his two best films he’s now laughing all the way to the bank. What a Joker.   

Also Read: The Unique Style of Wes Anderson

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The Unique Style of Wes Anderson

March 3, 2020
Wes Anderson

It would be fair to say that Wes Anderson has a style. He is an auteur and his particular filmmaking choices have been celebrated and mocked in equal measure, for the many that love his work, there are perhaps as many who hate it.

A Fantastic Acting Troupe

The truly astounding cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel
The truly astounding cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel (castittalent.com)

Anderson has established an impressive list of actors who repeatedly appear in his films. Most prominent would be Bill Murray – appeared in all except Bottle Rocket – but frequent collaborators include Jason Schwartzman, Owen and Luke Wilson, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton…I could go on. This collection of brilliant actors aside I put forth that Anderson gets amazing things from his actors. The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson’s third film, contains the best performance of most of the cast – Ben Stiller, Gwenyth Paltrow, Owen and Luke Wilson have never been better in anything else. Paltrow, an actor I do not usually like, is sensational in this film, Stiller brings a sense of sadness to this role I’ve never seen him duplicate. For me, it even ranks highly among screen legend Gene Hackman’s performances. Ralph Fiennes was robbed of an Oscar when he didn’t win for Monsieur Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel (and yes I know he wasn’t even nominated) bringing both tragedy and comedy to the performance.

Rich People

The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Limited (offscreen.com)

Most of Anderon’s characters seem to be quite well-off. The Tenenbaums’ “jobs” all seem like things they only do because they enjoy them rather than need the cash, despite complaining about money Steve Zissou has a submarine and an island, in The Darjeeling Limited the family have some unspecified wealth that allows them to enjoy neverending holidays. Even in Rushmore, a film about Max Fischer from a family of reduced means is surrounded by privileged people and attends a school that seems to have it’s own light aircraft.

Beautiful and Distinctive Design

The pleasingly symmetrical world of Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel (thefilmexperience.net)
The pleasingly symmetrical world of Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel (thefilmexperience.net)

I could simply spend all of this article writing about the pleasingly symmetrical world of Anderson’s films but I can’t really justify that, suffice to say, there is a lot of it. Aside from symmetry Anderson films are immaculately designed, costumes are amazing (characters are often like cartoon characters in that they wear the same outfit constantly), indeed the three Tenenbaum children seem very much trapped in their costumes. The Grand Budapest Hotel is probably the greatest example of this, every costume is brilliant, every set stunning, everything down to the smallest detail is carefully chosen. Fantastic Mr. Fox deviates a lot from the book but a lot of Mr. Fox’s den is based on things from Roald Dahl’s house, that is how far Anderson is willing to go.

The Perfect Song

The Royal Tenenbaums (youtube.com)

I honestly don’t think there’s anyone better at using music in films. He has this uncanny knack of perfectly pairing scene and music, for example -Margot getting off a bus to meet Richie while These Days by Nico plays, then there is Richie’s suicide attempt set to Needle In The Hay, the wild montage of Margot’s romantic life set to Judy is a Punk or the truly heart-breaking scene of Margot and Richie listening to The Rolling Stones as they discuss love and suicide. And yes, those examples are all from one film – The Royal Tennenbaums, this does not include the countless musical gems contained in the rest of his work.

A Bit Pretentious

If nothing else that hat is pretentious - Rushmore (dvdbeaver.com)
If nothing else that hat is pretentious – Rushmore (dvdbeaver.com)

A lot of what I’ve written about in Anderson’s films could be said to be style, it looks good, it sounds good, but to me his films are so much more. One thing Anderson and I have in common is that people have said we’re “a bit pretentious”. I think whenever you try to make a meaningful statement about life, art, love, friendship and a million other things you run the risk of being called pretentious and I think it’s a shame that so few directors are willing to risk this. Anderson’s films are emotional and try to make the viewer feel things. Few films have resonated with me as much as The Royal Tenenbaums, the relationship between Monsieur Gustave and Zero in The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of the most endearing in all of cinema and the lengths to which Max in Rushmore is prepared to go for love are astonishing. But all of the things I love in these films could be written off as pretentious. Themes that appear again and again are difficult family situations, unusual friendships, love between misfits, these are things everyone can relate to, even if the world they’re found in is not quite like our own.

What To Watch

Not everyone is going to like Wes Anderson, for me, he has made some of my favourite films, If you’re unfamiliar with his work I’d suggest starting with one of his latest films – The Grand Budapest Hotel, everything from the characters to the furniture is beautiful and it has more of a plot than a lot of his films.

Also Read: The Anatomy of a Christopher Nolan Film

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The Problem with the role of ‘The Wife’ in movies like ‘Dark Waters’

March 1, 2020
Anne Hathaway - Dark Waters

‘Don’t talk to me like I’m the wife,’ Sarah Billot (Anne Hathaway) says towards the end of Todd Hayne’s latest film Dark Waters. Until now, she’s had a few scenes complaining that her husband, Rob (Mark Ruffalo), hasn’t picked up granite samples on his way home from work, telling Rob’s boss that she used to be a lawyer before she had kids, and complaining that Rob’s workload has overtaken his ability to pay attention to his family. She’s been hovering around the home, chastising their three kids for their behaviour, and acting as a voiceless, sounding board for Rob’s theories about the corporate juggernaut, DuPont. She has existed to support Rob, to show what he is sacrificing in his crusade against the establishment. Now, teary and with her voice cracking, she defends him.

There is a problem with ‘The Wife’. No, not the film Glenn Close film from 2017 but the age-old, underappreciated, and undervalued role that somehow perseveres. It goes like this: A woman, often a well-respected and acclaimed actress, plays ‘the wife’ in a movie about how a man (or a group of men) do great things. She’s often stood in the kitchen when the man returns from work or waits by the cordless phone for bad news. She asks questions like ‘When are you coming home?’ and makes curt statements such as ‘I hope you know what you’re doing.’ More often than not she’ll ask the man not to do the dangerous, political, or selfless thing he’s planning on doing because of the kids, or the risk, or the ramifications. She’ll eventually come round and support him on his journey, standing up for him when someone else doubts his conviction or progress. In the final act, she might have an emotional speech, something she’ll say with tears in her eyes, something that’s just long enough for the Academy to consider her for Best Supporting Actress. Recent examples, alongside Hathaway, would be Claire Foy in First Man, Catherine Keener in Captain PhillipsGugu Mbatha-Raw in Concussion, Laura Linney in Sully, Sienna Miller in American Sniper, Maura Tierney in Beautiful Boy, Tatiana Maslany in Stronger, and the list could go on.

First man Film
‘First Man’ / Universal Pictures

In 2019, The Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that only 40% of women seen in film were seen in work-related roles, compared to 60% of men, and 52% of female characters were predominantly identified by their personal life, such as a wife or a mother. We see women in their relation to men, how they respond and exist within a man’s world. Overall, only 61% of women on film had a discernible job and were substantially less likely to be seen at work than their male counterparts. Hathaway’s Sarah, for example, has a profession but doesn’t practice anymore and, despite seemingly having been to law school, has very little to contribute when it comes to Rob’s burgeoning legal case. In fact, the only contribution she makes is by accident, stumbling upon a leaflet in the glove compartment.

Some films try to subvert this, to consider the domestic trappings of marriage with consideration and gravitas. For example, Glenn Close almost won an Oscar for playing Joan Castleman, a wife who wanted and deserved recognition after years in the background. Ironically, Close told The Hollywood Reporter, ‘It was actually hard to find actors who wanted to be in a movie called The Wife’. 

So, there is a chasm at the centre of moviemaking; wives are essential to cinema, as displayed by the array of women standing by their man, but wives themselves are not interesting. Once a woman has disposed of her maiden name, she herself is disposable. 

The Wife Movie
‘The Wife’ / Sony Picture Classics

The broader implication, of course, is that Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with women outside of placing them next to a man. Whether she, like Claire Foy, has had great success on television or, despite critical acclaim and awards, she’s approaching her forties and as such is ‘harder’ to sell to men as a ‘sex symbol’, like Hathaway, they’re at a loss. So along come the offers to play wives, girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers, or Aunts to a teenage superhero as a way of offsetting the problem. It also has to be noted that ‘The Wife’ role typically appears in films by male directors (who still direct around 96% of major films released) and that work by directors such as Greta Gerwig, Nicole Holofcener, and Lulu Wang, or producers like Reese Witherspoon, consider the female viewpoint with great importance they just don’t get the same recognition, culturally.

The fact is, these ‘wife’ roles don’t bring the awards attention they used to, with so many of them being ignored come Oscar season. Is that a sign of the times? Recently, in The Guardian, Steve Rose wrote about how ‘issues movies’, like Dark Waters, were once the pinnacle of Hollywood and awards season but now they’re ‘drying up’. It is time to say the same for ‘The Wife’? Absolutely! Routinely, women in film end playing second fiddle to developed male characters, they exist to pressure them or provide comfort. Even their deaths are used as character development, to give a man drive and depth. They exist to make sure the audience can see a rounded portrait of the man at the centre, and, as such, the women are painted with broad strokes and the various wives of cinema are often interchangeable from one and other. Changing this might require a more significant cultural shift, one in which society views women as more than wives and girlfriends and then cinema can follow. Or, perhaps, it’s the other way round. After all, what comes first, the chicken or the egg?  

Dark Waters (Official Trailer)

Dark Waters is in cinemas nationwide from 28th February

Also Read: ‘Birds of Prey’ & the Curse of Being Casually Queer

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Parasite and Foreign Language Films in the UK

February 26, 2020
Parasite Movie

Since Parasite became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture (at the Oscars), many have asked if this marks the beginning of more prominence for international films in English-speaking territories?

Well, today we’re going to look at the performance of international films in the UK. Looking at the number of non-English language films that get released in the UK, their box office takings, the factors that affect this and how Parasite’s recent triumph could impact the industry in the future.

2018 Foreign Language Release Numbers

Recent BFI statistics show that 331 films released in 2018 were entirely in a foreign language. This marked a decrease from the 349 entirely foreign language releases in 2017. But international releases still accounted for 43% of UK releases overall. And the number of different languages represented in UK cinemas increased. From 38 languages other than English in 2017 to 44 in 2018.

The Box Office Numbers

Foreign-language releases in 2018 made £30 million at the box office. The joint highest taking (2016 taking the same amount) since 2010.

Many high grossing international films have a dedicated audience in the UK. E.g. The UK has a big Bollywood audience with the highest-grossing foreign-language film of 2018 was Padmaava. A Hindi film which, according to the BFI, grossed £2.2 million (across 137 cinemas). The UK also has a big Polish community (it is the most common non-native language in England and Wales). So films like Clergy made £1.3 million (shown at 237 cinemas), and Cold War made £1.1 million (shown in 79 cinemas).

However, many of the other best-performing films had a great amount of exposure from film festivals and awards ceremonies. Which helped gain more interest from broader English speaking audiences. For example, Shoplifters won the Palme d’Or and earned £0.7 million across 43 cinemas. Making it the second-highest-grossing foreign-language film not in Polish or Hindi. And A Fantastic Woman won Best Foreign-Language Film at the 2018 Oscars helping it to earn £0.4 million across 38 cinemas.

The Success of Parasite

Parasite received several accolades prior to its UK release. These included the Palme d’Or, the BAFTA for best screenplay and best foreign-language film and many more. But since its Oscar win Parasite has become the third highest-grossing non-English language film at the UK box office. Earning a total of £5.1 million. Only beaten out by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (£9.4 million) and Passion of the Christ (£11.1 million). And it increased its cinema presence, from 137 screens to 428. Showing that the prestige of the award helped to further advertise the film to English speaking audiences. And convinced more theatres to show it.

This historic victory also coincides with a recent growing demand for international content. According to Curzon CEO Philip Knatchbull, the rise of non-English content on TV and streaming services like Netflix has helped to change attitudes towards foreign language products. Showing that there are audiences craving foreign language content and that there is a possibility for a new generation of English speakers to emerge who become accustomed to and more appreciative of world cinema.

What does this mean?

Parasite has proven that something has changed in the zeitgeist. Foreign language films usually struggle at the UK box office. Largely due to a perceived lack of interest from larger audiences. However, Parasite‘s Oscar win proves that foreign-language films are more accessible than ever. And are capable of captivating and performing well with English speaking cinema audiences when given the chance and the marketing.

Hopefully, Parasite‘s success coupled with the emergence of modern audiences more appreciative of foreign content, and the big awards ceremonies providing publicity for non-English language films means that bigger British audiences will soon be watching the wide variety of international films available at the cinema. And that more marketing; showcasing opportunities will be available for these films to reach larger audiences. Which is important.

More box office earnings mean more languages and cultures will be represented at the cinema. And exposure to foreign cinema helps us to discover great stories, new methods of storytelling and it allows us to learn more about and empathize with other cultures, traditions and ways of life. And that’s always a good thing.

Also Read: Parasite Director Once Described The Oscars As “Very Local” – Does He Have a Point?

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