Sometimes I feel I could have whole conversations and never be required to actually think of something to say and instead I can draw on the thousands of movie quotes running around my head. After seeing #BestMovieLineEver trending on Twitter let’s see what some of the best lines are:
Delivered by Melvin (Jack Nicholson) to Carol (Helen Hunt), Melvin has insulted her and she demanded a compliment and after a short speech about working on his OCD he delivered this line, suggested by @Speechyspeeches.
“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here this is the War Room.”
Tombstone, delivered by Doc Holliday, as @brenenshur pointed out any line by Doc Holliday deserves to be on this list but I chose the witty retort to being asked if he is retiring – it’s important to bear in mind he’s clearly dying of tuberculosis at this point (this is what I say whenever questioned about my health).
Delivered by the Joker (Heath Ledger) to a room full of mobsters, even scarier when you realise he’s talking about killing people. Scarier still when he burns all the money he got paid – suggested by @shubham_hadole
There are many ways to tell a story -films, plays, books or something I’m involved with – podcasts, to be exact audiofiction podcasts. They run the gamut from shows disguised as genuine broadcasts (like Alexandria Archives) or radio plays (Steal The Stars). My own podcast, At The End Of The Line is the former, supposedly a travelogue podcast of someone journeying through post-apocalyptic England.
But aside from my own podcast here are five great audiofiction podcasts:
1. My Neighbors Are Dead
This is a weekly improvised podcast where the host, Adam Peacock, interviews a character from the periphery of a horror film, usually this character is not even in the film. So there has been the episode about Scream, where they interview the other guy who wanted to kill Sidney Prescott, or the estate agents who sold the Freelings the house in Poltergeist. In the episode the universe of that film is real, these things are meant to have really happened, as such in the episode on The Road the host and guest are living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
The show is very funny and very cine-literate and has some very talented comedians and actors playing these characters. The show is always good but occasionally it does hit sublime moments of comedy.
If You Listen To One Episode Make It – Episode 16 – Psycho. This is one of those sublime episodes as one man talks about the local amateur taxidermy contest he entered.
Perhaps the best example of world-building I’ve come across in audiofiction, an alternate-history of Victorian England where Even Greater London covers half of the country, the Tower of London provides energy and Queen Victoria is an unholy mess of human and machine. The show of full of brilliant ideas and concepts and does an amazing job of conveying these to the listener. The show follows Archibald Fleet and Clara Entwhistle as they struggle to solve crimes of great ingenuity and importance.
While the plot of both seasons revolves around grisly murders the show is a comedy full of jokes and wonderful turns of phrase.
If You Listen To One Episode Make It – Victoriocity won’t make much sense if you don’t listen to it in order but Season 2 Episode 4 The Circus is a great example of their world-building.
The horror and supernatural genres are fertile grounds in the audiofiction world and one of the best examples of that is The Magnus Archives. Each episode is a recording of a statement of a member of the public about a supernatural encounter. Most episodes are simply one person, the head archivist, reading someone’s statement. At the end of each episode is a little summing up by the archivist as he explains the research they have done to verify the story (while they certainly believe in the supernatural The Magnus Institute seems to believe most reports are unlikely to be genuine). What starts off as simple episodic tales begins to take shape, very slowly, of a bigger plot. This is not a humorous show and can be very grim and there are vivid descriptions of some rather nasty stuff, so bear that in mind.
If You Only Listen To One Episode Make It – Episode 9 A Father’s Love, a particularly grim episode where the daughter of a notorious serial killer explains the possible supernatural nature behind her father’s crimes.
A glorious sci-fi adventure in the mould of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, following the adventures of two “employees” of the distinctly evil Automnicon (whose motto is “We Own You”) as they are sent on various missions across the galaxy. The main characters Kilner and Samantha are joined by a whole host of interesting and original characters – particularly Marilyn but I won’t spoil her origins story.
If You Listen To One Episode Make It – Season 2 Episode 5 A Cure For Bindweed – brilliant sci-fi and surprisingly emotional
This show is probably the most famous audiofiction podcast in existence and my favourite. It purports to be a local radio show for the town of Night Vale where host Cecil Palmer brings news and updates to his listeners. The idea behind WTNV was that it’s a town where every conspiracy theory is real – there are vague, yet menacing government agencies, UFOs, and any number of monsters. Nothing is quite right in Night Vale – librarians are vicious creatures but who also promote summer reading programmes, the mysterious dog park is banned to both humans and dogs, and the editor of the local newspaper constantly attacks people with hatchets. The show easily goes from creepy to funny to emotional easily and you soon become deeply involved in the lives of the residents of the town.
If You Listen To One Episode Make It – Episode 26 – Faceless Old Woman – an early example of how creepy WTNV can get as we learn about The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home and her name pretty much sums her up (she is played by Mara Wilson, probably best known for playing Matilda in the 90s film).
Despite receiving excellent reviews upon its release “The Lego Batman Movie” has largely been forgotten about when it comes to Batman films. With most of the recent discussions being about the upcoming “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson, “Justice League” and the fabled “Snyder Cut” or even some of the excellent fan films. Lego Batman has vanished from pop culture quicker than the Dark Knight himself can.
Meanwhile “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” is regarded as one of the best in the genre, not only winning an Oscar, but also acknowledging that the character of Spider-Man can have many different interpretations, but that all are equally Spider-Man (or Spider-Woman/Ham etc) something that most Batman media tends to shy away from. Except for Lego Batman.
A Hero Can Be Anyone
Batman has been around for 80 years (and aged phenomenally) and has been adapted countless times, with each version of the character having some differences but still being Batman, despite the film versions often having no reservations about killing (which is a whole other debate). Many of these are reactions to the previous version. For example, the Adam West ’66 show and Clooney’s “Batman & Robin” are infamously campy takes, while the ’89s Micheal Keaton and Bale’s “Batman Begins” are much darker and serious in tone. “Batman Begins” did this with such success that nearly every other film had to be “dark and gritty” as well.
The same is true of Spider-Man, and “Into the Spider-Verse” celebrates these different versions of the character by bringing them all together. It has a few laughs at their expense, but it doesn’t shy away from those aspects of the character, it celebrates them. Just like Lego Batman does. It acknowledges that the dark and gritty Batman and the goofy camp Batman is all still Batman.
Why Do We Fall?
There are some other surface similarities between the two films as well. Both are animated and feature a veteran hero (Batman/Peter B. Parker) begrudgingly mentoring a younger character (Robin/Miles) along with a female version (Batgirl/Spider-Gwen). As well as someone back at base to offer advice and gadgets (Alfred/ Aunt May). Both feature arcs where the younger character must prove themselves to their peers and both feature creative twists on classic villains.
On a thematic level, they both deal with the idea of loneliness and pushing people away. Batman pushes people away due to the loss of his parents, while Peter initially pushes Miles away and volunteers to sacrifice himself due to his fear of having children. Despite their wacky premise, they both tell very relatable, human stories, like some of the best comic books.
A Watchful Protector
While both films take artistic liberties with their setting (Gotham City being made out of LEGO) the city our heroes protect is as much a character as the actual characters themselves. Lego Gotham City is a mash-up of the gothic Tim Burton designs and the modern Nolan city, while each Spider-Person comes from their own distinct version of New York City.
There are tons of easter eggs and references for the hardcore fans to appreciate in these films, such as the various selections of costumes, to vehicles and callbacks to previous films, like the Shark Repellant Bat Spray. These films work as standalone and someone with a passing knowledge of the character can enjoy them, but the more a viewer knows of the history and adventures of the hero, the more there is to pick up on and enjoy.
Despite some people considering animation as “just for kids”, Into the Spider-Verse and Lego Batman are for the fans, regardless of age, while the older viewers will likely get more out of the experience, as they will appreciate the little details. There is often a debate about which Batman is the best, and while Lego Batman is rarely at the top of favourites lists, it’s underrated and understands Batman in a way that many live-action interpretations don’t. Even if Lego Batman hasn’t had the influence of “The Dark Knight”, Batman doesn’t kill, which is more than most films can say, and for some Bat-fans, that’s the most important factor.
It’s not been a bad year for the UK box office. With the total takings of 2019s top 10 highest grosser’s (at time of writing) being approximately £388,967,274 (according to Box Office Mojo and google money converter).
So today we are going to look at how the top 10 currently stands. Which movies have earned the most in the UK so far? And what have critics and audiences had to say about them?
10. The Secret Life of Pets 2
The latest offering from
Illumination managed to rake in the box office, despite a rather lukewarm
The latest Disney remake has, in
only 2 weeks, already proven to be Disney’s most successful solo developed
project in the UK. It also managed to capture the love of the general public.
But critics have been less kind to this effort:
So ends the UK box office top 10 of the year so far. And with big releases like IT: Chapter 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker coming up, this year’s top 10 may even beat last year’s top 10 gross (approximately £523,006,040). We’ll just have to wait and see.
What do Hereditary, The Witch, Locke, Green Room and Free Fire all have in common? I’ve seen them all. But perhaps more importantly is the film distribution and production company A24. For a company who has only been around since 2013 they have a staggering success rate – they were involved in Room, Moonlight, Lady Bird, The Disaster Artist, Amy (the Amy Winehouse documentary), Ex Machina and more. Their shelves are already struggling with the weight of awards and their films are considered essential viewing for those interested in cinema.
The Odd Beginning
The first film the company produced was A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III back in 2013 and seems to be as odd as the title suggests. It’s not a film I’ve seen but it starred Charlie Sheen, who to put it mildly, is not the most reliable of actors. The film has an IMDb rating of 4.8 and an appallingly low score of 16% on Rotten Tomatoes and had a near-universal drubbing by film critics. The film did not lack for talent, directed and written by Roman Coppola, and aside from Sheen featured Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Patricia Arquette but seems to have not been a good film. I can’t help but feel it was a mistake to cast Sheen, who according to distribution executive, Nicolette Aizenberg, didn’t show up to the premiere. Sheen landed this role after his very public firing from Two and a Half Men. So an inauspicious beginning but it didn’t hold them back for long.
Co-founder Daniel Katz already had a lot of experiences in the film industry, being the head of the film-finance division of Guggenheim Partners (they have lots of money and invest in stuff). Katz was involved in Zombieland, The Social Network and the Twilight franchise, showing a grasp of everything from cult hits, critical smashes and hugely successful franchises.
David Fenkel’s background is a little odd, before A24 he was a co-founder of Oscilloscope Laboratories, a film production and distribution company. The other co-founder was Adam Yauch best known as a member of The Beastie Boys and as can be imagined it was an odd company. If you google Oscilloscope the little blurb beneath the website says that only work in the film industry to raise money for their time machine. Similarly interested in independent film, Oscilloscope Laboratories has not shared the runaway success of A24.
Three Important Films
I am going to look at three key films in A24’s story, Spring Breakers, Hereditary and Moonlight. Spring Breakers is often seen as the start of their success, a very unusual film that tested very badly with audiences and that no one thought would succeed. Not only was the film a huge success it helped make their name. A24 were the distributors of this film, rather than the production company, making the notorious “Consider This Sh*t” Oscar campaign for James Franco.
Second, we have Hereditary. a film considered one of the best horror movies of recent years and said by at least one critic to be this generation’s The Exorcist. It is A24’s second most financially successful film. And it is one of the most unnerving films I have ever seen and in the era of horror film franchises and endless jump scares it felt new and original.
Finally, Moonlight. This is not A24’s only Oscar success but winning the 2017 Best Picture award was incredible. For a company that makes – relatively – small films winning that Oscar is probably the clear sign that they’ve made it. Moonlight was adored by critics and because of its subject matter of huge cultural importance. It also won two other Oscars that year, for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali and was nominated for five more. You could say Moonlight won the Oscars that year.
The Secret Of Their Success
An article in GQ interviewed many of the directors, writers and actors A24 had worked with and the founders received nothing but praise. Again and again, the message seems to be – these guys are not in it for the money. Now I personally don’t believe anyone who runs a company can completely shut out financial concerns, but it does seem like they think the best way to be successful is to let talented filmmakers do what they want to do. Their most financially successful film is the still the very niche Lady Bird which made around $50,000,000 and with IMDb estimating the budget at $10,000,000 that is a very successful film. While to many pretentious indie film fans – i.e. me – the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig was something very special it was hardly a sure-thing success. Another success story was The Witch (estimated budget of 3,500,000 box office of $25,000,000) and while it is a great film it must have been a hard film to pitch. It’s the story of one family, living alone in the 1630s while odd things, possibly magical/satanic things, happen around them but maybe nothing happened at all.
This strategy is by no means always going to be successful. A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swann III was directed by Roman Coppola, a long-time collaborator of Wes Anderson and clearly someone with a lot of talent but the film was a failure. And we can all think of pet projects of extremely talented people that go completely off the rails.
I think the surest sign of their success is that I would go to see a film purely based on it was made by them and I can think of no other studio where that is true. A24 is becoming synonymous with brilliant and original films.
Lack of diversity in TV and film is a hot topic, and it wasn’t until I saw the selection of stories at the British Brown Girls screening did I realise the true lack of representation of brown women in today’s media.
The roles for brown women we are used to seeing have become stereotypes and cliches; we are more than the submissive housewives, the strict mothers, the shy/naive/nerdy sisters. It was so refreshing to see a variety of brown women in real-life everyday scenarios that were real, touching, funny and warm.
UNDR LNDN teamed with gal-dem to celebrate a new era British Brown girls on TV and film with a special screening and Q&A with writer/director Nida Manzoor and writer/director Myra Appannah. Both shared their experiences as brown women in the world of film: how hard the creative process can become when you consider multiple POVs in your work, the responsibility of telling the truth and avoiding selling your trauma and perpetuating stereotypes, being true to your story and your voice, and the importance of representation: you can’t be what you can’t see.
Opening and closing with music videos from Joy Crookes: Don’t Let Me Down and Since I Left You were both beautifully shot with the singer/songwriter’s Bangladeshi and Irish heritage being highlighted in her music both lyrically and visually.
Director: Niki Simone
Starring: Ambreen Razia
Ambreen Razia stars as local hero Maya Clark who is blackmailed for having an affair. With an abusive husband at home and scared for her life, she takes control as Ilford Lane explores the hidden mystery behind her disappearance.
How refreshing to see three brown girls being girls, having fun, dreaming big and living life?
Ambreen Razia, Mandeep Dhillon and Robyn Cara as three friends going through everyday trials and tribulations and having fun at the same time is must-watch TV. We need an entire series.
The casting for this took 8 months. Getting the right people for the roles was so pivotal to this short drama and it shows in the chemistry between Krishna (Mandeep Dhillon) and Garfield (Matthew Trivannion). Waking up after a wild night out there are no awkward moments of ‘shame’ between the two. Wanting to enjoy the moment you’re in, feeling something genuine whilst battling the angst of the expectations of a ‘good Indian daughter’ hit close to home. The feeling of freedom can be quite rare, to know that the choices in your life are your own. For a short while, we get to see a glimpse of what could have been in this cute, touching and brilliantly edited short drama.
A part of Channel 4’s programme for fresh comedy talent, Lady Parts follows engineering PHD student Amina (Anjana Vasan) as she juggles finding a husband and settling down with her dream of shredding a mean guitar for an all-female punk band fronted by Saira (Ritu Arya). A brilliant ensemble cast showcasing diverse Muslim women with humour and strength.
Owen (Jack Brett Anderson) struggles with the loss of his mum after her funeral so he heads to the cemetery where he meets Maura (Naomi Scott). A sweet and emotional story about loss, love and life, they try to find a way to connect with the loved ones they’ve lost.
Since 2010, Disney has released (mostly) live-action remakes of some of their classic films, originally these started off with them being sold as a reimagining, such as Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s point of view, which was the premise of “Maleficent”, however as time goes on and more have been made, they have become more remake than reimagining, with the latest being “The Lion King”.
But with live-action versions of “Mulan”, and “The Little Mermaid” on the way, are they running out of classics? Most of their current remakes are from their “renaissance” period, and only a few films from this time remain without remakes. Is Disney still capable of their classic magic? Or are they forced to rely on nostalgia?
Once Upon A Time
Disney has been around since the 1920’s when they produced cartoons featuring Oswald the lucky rabbit. When they lost the character rights to their distributor, they had to create a new character, Mickey Mouse.
After the Mickey Mouse cartoons became popular, merchandise featuring the character also became popular. This led to the company’s first feature film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. Several classic animated features followed, as well as a theme park, with Disney quickly becoming a household name.
This was followed by Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” another faithful adaptation, with artistic license used on the animals to make them seem more intimidating, whilst also capturing an actor’s performance, it was another big hit for Disney. The technology and techniques used would lead to Favreau remaking Lion King.
A Tale As Old As Time
Disney’s next remake was “Beauty and the Beast”, this received similar reactions to the Cinderella remake which may be something to do with the director having similar intentions. This was followed by “Christopher Robin” which acted more like a continuation of the “Winnie the Pooh” franchise, rather than a remake.
2019 saw three different remakes: “Dumbo”, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King”, which opened to varied reviews from critics and audiences alike. “Dumbo” stretched the original’s length by almost an hour, which generally bored most viewers, and is actually the worst-reviewed of the remakes (not including the “Alice in Wonderland” sequel).
One possible attitude is that Disney is seeking to “modernise” it’s classics, by bringing them up to modern day standards and attitudes. Both the “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” remakes especially give their lead princess more agency in an attempt to move away from the criticisms of the traditional versions. Pixar’s (which is owned by Disney) “Ralph Breaks the Internet” features several scenes poking fun at the princesses, which some argue is an attempt to breakdown the stereotypes the films have produced.
The live-action remakes will continue while Disney still has films left (although don’t rule out another set of remakes in another 20-30 years), but it would be unfair to say that they have run out of original stories quite yet. Time will tell whether any of them will become as iconic enough to deserve their own live-action remakes.
When scrolling through streaming services or wandering around Blockbuster Video if you’re from the past, what are your go-to genres? Science-fiction is usually my first choice but there’s something good in every genre. But why do we have these genres, and why do they exist in the form that they do? Danish film and media professor Torben Grodal might have the answer.
Professor Grodal makes a case for evolutionary psychology as to why we have the genres we do and why they have persisted. While The Iliad (an ancient Greek Poem) is thousands of years old and written in a culture drastically different to our own we can see that it has many elements that would overlap with modern storytelling – action, fighting, love, revenge etc. Grodal argues this is because evolution has made us susceptible to these sorts of stories and essentially we’re the same people we were when The Iliad was created – a few thousand years is nothing when compared to evolution.
For Grodal there are three basic emotional structures that help make-up, and then react to genres
The Reptilian Brain – fear, anger, lust, seeking
Caregiving – love, pair-bonding, family
Separation/Grief – dealing with death and loss
These three systems are not mutually exclusive and often overlap, this is particularly true of Caregiving and Separation/Grief but you can find films that hit all three systems.
Humans Are Weird Animals
Unlike many animals, humans care for their young for years as human infants are essentially helpless and utterly dependent on caregivers. If we want our DNA to continue in future generates, which the Theory of Evolution says we do, then we must protect our children. Evolution has hammered into humans that caring for their offspring is of paramount importance, so many films also have this message. Films are full of parents making sacrifices, up to and including dying, to protect children. Sophie’s Choice is considered so heart-wrenching because the choice will lead to the death of a child.
For most animals it is only the female that bears the burden of caring for children, humans are different in that males continue to provide for them, they will protect them and hunt or gather food. Due to the huge cost of raising children in terms of resources this makes evolutionary sense. This lead to a very strong pair-bond between parents and a successful pair bond is very important. So we have romances, where finding true love is amongst the most important things in all of life. There are few films that lack any romantic component, with “love interest” being a familiar description of a character. Hot Fuzz is one of the few films I can think of that has no romantic component and with this film, there was a lot of focus on the “bromance” between the two lead characters.
Saving Private Nemo
What is the defining moment of the film Bambi? I’m sure most people will think of the moment when Bambi’s mother dies. Finding Nemo is entirely about reuniting a parent and child. The film Aliens add a whole layer of emotion and drama by introducing a child for Ripley to bond with and then protect. Separation and loss in films can be emotionally devastating because these are terrible evolutionary outcomes. How will Nemo survive without his father? How will Marlin survive without his son? This is already after the genuinely horrific deaths of Nemo’s mother and siblings. When the two are reunited there is absolute joy. Sometimes the sacrifice of parents for children can be widened to a whole tribe, and today that could mean your country, and again, nobly sacrificing yourself for others who are part of your “tribe” is a staple of films and is the entire premise of Saving Private Ryan.
The Reptilian Brain
Then there is the influence of the “reptilian” brain, the part of the brain that developed first, that we share with reptiles. The four emotional systems we share with reptiles are anger, fear, lust and seeking – as in looking for food, for a mate, for a predator etc.. At least three of these factors are integral parts of action films – and often lust gets thrown in as well. Seeking, basically looking for what you want/need is present in action as well as crime and mysteries.
Action, crime and mysteries are also important in what Grodal calls HTTOFF Scenarios – Hiding, Tracking, to Trap, being Trapped, Observing, Fighting and Fleeing. In these scenarios, the protagonist is constantly working out the interactions between themselves and the world and other agents within it. Grodal points out that while few people watching films in the modern world will have to regularly fight, flee etc., those mental processes are still within us. A lot of children’s games involve HTTOFF scenarios, so Hide and Seek or play-fighting, it is enjoyable to recreate these situations in a safe way.
Films can act as shared, ritualistic experiences, so that seeing death, grief etc on screen prepares us for when they happen in real-life. This can also be true of comedy, a lot of comedy consists of bad or embarrassing things happening but in a film that’s okay, we know it’s not real, and in a sense is a form of playing and pretending.
An Alternative View…
A little while ago on this site was published an article “The Formula of a Successful Film“, which looked at a different study which analysed thousands of films and found that they tend to fall into distinct categories like Rags to Riches, Cinderella and Icarus, describing how they handle emotion and the protagonist’s journey. So an Icarus film builds to high positive emotion and then drops down with a sad, or sort of sad ending. The most successful financially was found to be Man In A Hole. This is where a person falls at the beginning, leading to success/triumph at the end, the classic example being The Godfather. Michael starts happy, faces disaster and ends up winning. This research suggests something different going on to Grodal’s, here it is the journey of the character(s) that is crucial and evidently seeing someone triumph over adversity is very satisfying.
Looking at all of this research I think potentially the film that should have been the most successful and critically acclaimed was Liam Neeson’s Taken. For Grodal it satisfies all three emotional systems – action, caregiving and separation and matches The Man In A Hole dynamic. While successful enough to spawn two sequels and a whole genre of older action hero films I don’t think Taken managed those heights.
Batman. This single word has inspired so much over the years. Beginning as a simple vigilante hero in the pages of Detective Comics, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s iconic creation has spawned some of the most well-loved movies, TV shows, video games and comic runs of the past century. Everyone knows who Batman is and his world has become a permanent fixture of popular culture. And like Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, many fans have been inspired by the caped crusader to pick up a camera and make their own batman stories.
So, put on your capes and cowls and come with me as I countdown
five Batman fan films that are worth your time.
The Dark Knight Returns – An Epic Fan Film
In 2016 director and star Wyatt Weed decided to translate the first part of Frank Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns comic into a short film. And it truly is a testament to his enthusiasm for the material.
The story is of a future where Batman retired after Jason Todd’s (The second Robin) death and crime has overrun Gotham’s streets. Now Bruce must put back on the cowl to save Gotham from destroying itself.
On a budget of $2500, Weed admirably captures the story’s wide scope. He makes Gotham City feel like its own character. With news reports and detailed interiors doing a lot to illustrate the kind of world Batman is returning to. Weed also gives an interesting performance as Bruce Wayne/ Batman. Showing him as aloof and disinterested with life, even having a potential death wish. He portrays Batman as a habit that Bruce can’t seem to shake, which gives the short some great dramatic weight.
Some aspects do let the film down. Many of the performances alternate between too theatrical or too restrained, never finding that magical sweet spot in between. And the presentation looks a bit bland. But nevertheless, an enjoyable watch for fans of the comic and a lesson in how to make a limited budget go far.
The Dark Knight Legacy
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has had a major impact on how many people see Batman and his world. And Nolan’s influence can be seen in every frame of The Dark Knight Legacy.
Taking place after The Dark Knight Rises, the disappearance of Batman has allowed not only criminals but also copycats wanting to carry on the dark knight’s mission, to flourish. Though in the case of new vigilante Red Hood he has much more flexible ethics than Batman when it comes to killing.
Although it has a limited setting and somewhat flat visuals, this film does a great job at carrying forward the dark aesthetic of Nolan’s trilogy while also being unique unto itself. Introducing the Red Hood in a way that is sure to leave an impact, with some fantastic performances and a very impressive action centrepiece, Batman may not be in this short but it deals with his world and characters in a way that will leave you hungry for more.
A refreshingly heartfelt take on the Batman mythos, this
recent short sees DC universe stalwart Amanda Waller recruiting Batman to track
down and kill a powerful psychic before Deathstroke can find her and sell her
to the highest bidder.
While the story is a little obtuse and confusing, the short really shines when it comes to everything else. The cinematography is very moody and engaging, the choreography during the fight scene with Deathstroke is amazing and the acting is truly outstanding, with each player managing to inhabit their roles perfectly. Special mention goes to John Crawford III and Jaci Jones, who gave Batman and Ace a great sense of relatability and Kyle Klein plays a very menacing Deathstroke.
An entertaining and well-produced effort, with some fine performances and worth seeing, if only for the surreal sight of Batman, Superman and Wonder woman standing side by side with Spider-man and Captain America.
Now we leave behind the serious entries to celebrate the fun side of Batman. Many people nowadays are only familiar with Batman as the dark and brooding defender of Gotham. But there was a time when Bats was a dispenser of joy as well as justice. And Batman Evolution acts as a fitting tribute to that.
Set in the Adam West Batman universe, the relatively light-hearted fare that batman is used to is upended when Black Mask kidnaps Robin. Batman goes to find him, doling out “Biff’s”, “Bam’s” and “Kapow’s” on Black Mask’s henchmen. When he has an experimental compound dumped on him, transforming him into the Dark Knight trilogy Batman. Will Batman be able to rescue Robin and keep his humanity intact?
While essentially just an extended action scene, Evolution is able to deliver some great moments. The fight scenes are well-staged, the music is cool and the dialogue and acting are incredibly fun. Everyone plays their roles with just the right level of self-awareness so it never becomes irritating and the level of humour derided from both the camp and dark side of Batman makes this the perfect treat for any hardcore Bat-fan.
Batman: Dead End
We finish with the oldest short on our list and without a
doubt the most fun.
Dead End begins as a straightforward story about the batman trying to catch the joker but quickly turns insane when a second and third antagonist enters the fight (No spoilers here. Watch it and experience it for yourself. It’s worth it).
Like Batman Evolution the film could be considered just one long fight scene, but this short does so much to set itself apart. The visuals are positively cinematic, with great use of atmospheric lighting and well-composed shots. The performances are fantastic with Clark Bartram and Andrew Koenig giving, for my money, one of the best live-action performances of the Batman/Joker dynamic. The action is very well-choreographed, with great editing to help everything flow naturally. And, it is worth a watch because this film exemplifies what is best about fan films.
There is a clear passion for the story being told and the art of filmmaking, but it also gives you something that you can’t get anywhere else. The filmmakers made the film they wanted to see and poured their heart and soul into making it as entertaining as possible.
Whatever your feelings on Brexit it is bound to have a big impact on many aspects of the UK, but what will the impact be on British film? I’ll be upfront from the beginning and say I voted Remain in the referendum and think leaving the EU will have a negative impact on the country. Will we cease to get any funding from the EU and will that hamper creators? Will a Britain freer to trade with foreign countries provide more opportunity? Is this a golden opportunity or a terrible disaster for British film? The unfortunate answer is it’s complicated. There are numerous different scenarios depending on what deal, if any, the UK government reaches.
The Current State of Affairs
For the time being Britain remains a member of the European Union, the European Economic Area and various other treaties and organisations. These agreements have reciprocal benefits and obligations and while the UK pays a substantial sum of money to be in the EU proponents would argue the benefits to the economy and country make it worthwhile. Some of this money goes into a central pot from which citizens or organisations from that area can make applications, for example, the film Paddington received over £300,000 in funding from the EU.
One of the founding principles of the EU is the free movement of people, goods, money and services across participating countries, this basically means it is as easy as possible for people to work, goods to be bought and sold, access and provide services and invest money. Whilst in the EU a UK citizen could easily work in Spain, Italy or any EU country and their citizens do the same. This is based on the belief that these freedoms will lead to increased trade, a stronger economy, more opportunities and more for those involved and will benefit the member countries and EU as a whole.
To be blunt, we don’t know what the situation will be. We could leave the EU but continue to be in the EEA. We could still be involved in funding cultural programmes. We could still give access to EU citizens to work in the UK and vice versa – although admittedly ending free movement of people seemed to be one of the cornerstones of Brexit. There was no clear definition of what Brexit meant and this has been one of the central difficulties of negotiating with the EU.
Depreciation of currency – since the referendum the value of the UK currency has dropped and, in a nutshell, has made it cheaper for places like America to do business in and with the UK. However, there are negative consequences of having a lower value currency that a government may want to avoid.
Opening new markets outside the EU – one of the features of the EU was many trade agreements were made with the EU as a whole rather than by individual countries and there were a lot of criteria that had to be met. After Brexit, the UK would be free to negotiate any free trade agreement they wanted with non-EU countries. This could create new markets or mean expanding existing ones.
Outside of the EU, the government could offer more tax incentives for film production in the UK.
The report also states that as the UK would not automatically be subject to new EU rules that might make the EU a less attractive place to do business with.
It is hard to imagine a Brexit where it will not be harder for EU citizens to work in UK. Some have suggested that EU citizens will have to meet certain criteria around skills and be sponsored by their employer. A big drop in non-UK citizens being allowed to work could be a significant blow to British film-making, an article in Forbes stated that “In terms of post-production, visual effects and animations sectors, up to 40% of personnel are non-U.K. citizens”. Whilst some of those jobs will be taken by qualified UK citizens I doubt there are enough to make up that shortfall, the Forbes article goes onto say, the UK simply does not have enough people who possess these skills. And that is just looking at one area of filmmaking.
Films need money and the EU has put a lot of money into the film industry across Europe, for example, there is the Creative Europe programme which, essentially, could give you funding to make a film or help fund a cinema. Now regardless of what deal is reached, or no deal, the UK government has signalled it wants to remain part of some of these programmes. There is also the possibility that any EU funding that is lost could be matched by the British government, which is what has been promised in the case of Creative Europe in the event of no deal.
Co-productions are when companies from more than one country work together to make a film. Sometimes this could be because the film takes place and is filmed, in two countries or it could be that there is a cultural message of the film the brings together relevant countries. The main reason, especially in recent years, is financial, as it allows more money to be raised from more people. Sometimes minority co-producers may have some creative control and sometimes they don’t. In recent years co-productions have become a smaller part of the UK film industry with the major exception being Ken Loach. Since 1990 Loach has released nineteen films of which fourteen had European co-productions, it is not a stretch to say co-production has been essential to his film-making.
Loach’s relationship with co-productions goes back decades, and creative control of his co-producers have waxed and waned. Sometimes a cultural input from a co-producer is extremely useful, Loach’s film Land and Freedom which was about the Spanish Civil must have benefited enormously from co-producer Tornasol, a Spanish company. Recently Loach has had to sacrifice very little, if any, creative control to co-producers, having many small backers dilutes their potential power.
Looking at the numbers Loach’s more international feel seems to be good for him, 87% of ticket admissions for Loach’s films come from outside the UK, a significant increase on 55% for most British films. What seems the most important factor in Loach’s success with co-production is that this method allows him to raise significant sums of money whilst sacrificing little, if any, creative control.
There is one definite thing that will be true after Brexit, making films in Europe will be a lot harder and a lot of barriers will go up. Filming in Spain, Poland, France – any EU country will get a lot more complicated. Something as basic as moving filming equipment through countries could become far more difficult.
Essentially there is very little we will know for certain, possibly there will be good and bad aspects to it. I think the best thing for British film-makers, and everyone really is to get a clear picture of what will happen and make decisions on solid information.
Sometimes horror films can become all too real for the people on set. Over the years several horror movies sets have been the sites of unfortunate, weird and in some cases fatal accidents and incidents that make you question the luck and safety standards of the production. Today we will look at seven famous incidents where a film set turned into a real-life horror film.
Warning, there is upsetting content ahead.
The Bunny Game
A shock-horror film about a prostitute being kidnapped and tortured by a truck driver, the BBFC rejected The Bunny Game, fearing that its portrayal of violent and dangerous acts may harm audiences. This wasn’t helped by the presence of extreme unsimulated acts within the film.
Through trying to create an authentic atmosphere, the
filmmakers created one of the most disturbing movies of the past decade, from a
health and safety perspective.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Like the Bunny Game, 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s production is a tale of a horrific working environment. Because of the films low budget, the effects were minimal, and often employed workarounds to accomplish them. But when coupled with hundred-degree weather, rank working conditions (dead animals were used as set dressing) and a stressed crew, something was bound to happen.
The Omen’s filming was also plagued with problems.
When the filmmakers charted a plane to get some aerial shots of London, they allowed another party to use the plane first. Shortly after the plane took off it crashed killing 6 people. The filming also had several serious incidents with animals. A rottweiler injured a stunt double when it bit through his protective padding. In the zoo scene, the baboons used by production attacked the car that actors Lee Remick and Harvey Stephens were in. Remick reportedly feared for her life. And a zoo handler who had been working with the production was killed by a tiger after zoo shooting wrapped. And those are just the incidents that happened during production.
When people think of Stephen King, they think of some of the most terrifying novels of the last century, but cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi probably thinks of King very differently.
Finally, we come to the film that started modern Hollywood’s move for better safety regulations. Twilight Zone: The Movie was an anthology movie based on the classic tv series.
In John Landis’ segment, Time Out, we follow a racist man (Vic Morrow) forced to witness the consequences that such attitudes have had throughout history.
However, while filming the segment’s climax where the main character saves two Vietnamese children (Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Che) from a warzone the helicopter they were using flew too close to a pyrotechnic, causing it to crash on top of the three actors, killing them instantly.
Thank you for reading and always remember, stay safe.
Batman and Robin, Doc and Marty, Bonnie and Clyde, Han Solo and Chewbacca. There are many iconic duos on screen, but there are just as many iconic partnerships between some actor and director duos that are behind some iconic films.
Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio
This duo first appeared in 2002 with “Gangs of New York” and have produced four feature films together since, with two more in development as well as a promotional short. While this partnership has not produced as many films as Scorsese’s other famous partnership with Robert DeNiro, it is arguably more varied, with their collaborations including genres like crime, comedy (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)and biopic (“The Aviator”), with Leo helping the director win his first Oscar with his role in “The Departed”
Interestingly it was actually DeNiro who introduced the pair, after having worked with DiCaprio previously, DeNiro sang the young actors praises and that Scorsese needed to work with him, with the director referred to as “extraordinary fortune” and that they wanted to make movies the same way
Michael Caine is a prolific actor who has been in the business for over sixty years, so it’s fair to say he recognises talent when he sees it, and that’s exactly why he keeps partnering up with Nolan. Since “Batman Begins” in 2005, Nolan has included him in every one of his films, with a small voice cameo in “Dunkirk” being the only time he hasn’t appeared in person.
Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell
Raimi and Campbell have been friends since high school, making short films in their spare time. They eventually convinced some dentists to invest in their first feature “Evil Dead” and both of them became cult horror icons.
Bruce Campbell has gone on to have roles in various fan favourite projects, but aside from his role as Ash Williams, he is also known for his memorable cameos in various Raimi movies, especially his Spider-Man trilogy, appearing in various roles through the series. If Spider-Man 4 had ever gone into production, Campbell would once again appear, this time as the villain Mysterio.
Guillermo Del Toro / Doug Jones
Possibly the least recognisable duo on this list, not due to the body of work, but because Doug Jones’ face is often hidden behind hours worth of prosthetics, with his first big break actually being a McDonald’s ad. He first met Del Toro on the director’s English language debut “Mimic“. Despite the films’ troubled production, the two became friends, bonding over their love of monsters and movies.
Jones has appeared in all of Del Toro’s films since the original “Hellboy”, except for “Pacific Rim”, with his biggest arguably being the creature in Del Toro’s “Shape of Water” which won an Oscar for Best Picture.
Matthew Vaughn / Mark Strong
Some partnerships happen because of a pre-existing friendship or a recommendation. Some just happen because the pair find each other easy to work with, as is the case with Director Matthew Vaughn and actor Mark Strong.
The pair have worked together four times since their first collaboration in 2007’s “Stardust” with Strong only being absent for X-Men First Class. Having previously played villainous characters in “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass” he plays Merlin in the “Kingsman” films, in which he is a member of the super-secret spy organisation.
Wes Anderson / Bill Murray
Murray has worked with Anderson since his second feature “Rushmore”. Anderson sent him the script with no expectations, then had an executive leave their own office while Murray talked to him about the role. His role in “The Royal Tenenbaums” happened simply because Murray lived close to the shoot, the two talked about “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”.
Murray and Anderson have such a good rapport, that he instantly says yes when the director calls, no matter the project. He must get the call a lot as Murray has appeared in all of Anderson’s film since, totalling eight, with some being important parts, and others just wordless cameos.
Quentin Tarantino / Samuel L Jackson
Tarantino has several actors that he frequently collaborates with, which he refers to as his “Tarantino superstars“. However. he clearly has a favourite, Samuel L Jackson, whom he frequently writes roles in mind for. The admiration goes both ways, as Jackson cites some of his roles in Tarantino’s films as his favourites.
Jackson has appeared in 6 of Tarantino’s 9 films (Tarantino considers “Kill Bill” one film, and Jackson does not feature in “Once upon a time in Hollywood”). He actually auditioned for “Reservoir Dogs” but didn’t get the part, when he saw Tarantino again later at the premiere, the director told him he was writing something for him, which would turn out to be his Oscar-nominated role in “Pulp Fiction”.