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Tag: Wonder Woman

Editorials, How Film Changed Me

How Film Changed Me: On The Cultural Void

January 3, 2021

As 2020 drew to a close, writers and critics began to assess the year in terms of how film and television had managed (or struggled) as a result of the global pandemic. It was at this point that one writer’s assessment caught Twitter’s attention.

Julia Alexander’s article for The Verge proclaimed that a year without Marvel movies “left a pop culture void”. Admittedly, her central reference point was one that I, too, found somewhat moving; a packed movie theatre screaming in wild excitement during a screening of Avengers: Endgame in 2019. It wasn’t that I found that particular movie scene as rousingly exhilarating as those fans did on opening night, but I did sympathise with the desire to be seated in a full cinema again. 

Where Alexander lost me – and quite a few others, it seems – was in her conclusion that 2020, the first year since 2009 which lacked the release of a Marvel movie, had created an“absence of a very specific kind of excitement”. While she admits that other films can generate discussion, memes and discourse, none can do so quite like a Marvel film can. In some ways this is true, but this phenomenon doesn’t just extend to Marvel movies; any type of superhero tent-pole designed as a marketing ad first and a film second will create this kind of buzz.

Wonder Woman: 1984 / Credit: Warner Bros.

Over the Christmas period, Wonder Woman: 1984 found itself at the centre of this familiar blockbuster storm. Released simultaneously in theatres worldwide and on HBO Max in the US, it garnered both harsh criticism and intense defence. The group against the film (of which I, admittedly, am a member) thought it to be bland, nonsensical, and oddly racist. Those for the film thought its critics were paid off as part of some wider conspiracy against DC or floated theories that, due to most Americans watching it at home, they disliked WW84 because they were easily distracted by their phones.

This is a familiar story: the internet whipping itself into a frenzy over the latest comic book movie. Last year, it was Joker. In previous years it’s been Man of SteelAquamanX-Men, or some other such champion ‘man’. As Jia Tolentino wrote in Trick Mirror, the internet thrives on its ability to maximise our “sense of opposition”. As such, we are divided into two cultural camps: the childish-unintelligent-bro who adores these movies, and the snobby-elitist who considers the existence of such franchise films to be the very death of cinema itself.

Joker / Credit: Warner Bros.

This divide might seem overly simplistic and, in a way, it is, but its existence provides what the internet needs in order to thrive: clicks.

Think back to when Martin Scorsese decried superhero movies as not being cinema, or when Stephen Spielberg blasted Netflix. How many think pieces, hot takes and Tweets did that generate? A lot. One person’s opinion requires a near-immediate response, and that rebuttal requires one too until the original point is so cannibalised it is almost unrecognisable (hell, I’m even contributing to the phenomenon now with this column!).

This discourse seems to be shifting and distracting from the real issue: that audiences have simply become lax in what they will accept as good. This might be as a result of spending a decade arguing that the thing they enjoy is worth enjoying. It may also be that those aforementioned snobby-elites have forgotten that maybe there is some joy to be had or fun to be shared in the specific cultural experience of the superhero movie. Who’s to say?

Well, Fran Lebowitz is to say. In a recent clip that surfaced on Twitter from the documentary Public Speaking, Lebowitz discusses an audience’s role in maintaining the quality of the culture it consumes. She explains plainly that as a particular audience – one that paid attention and valued quality – died out due to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, it gave way to a different, more accepting, one; a group that were happy to get what they were given and were content to simply like it. She also attributes the decline in culture to the fact that many great artists and filmmakers were also lost during this time.

I would say that, in 2020, we do a have a pop culture void – but it isn’t what Alexander reckons it to be. At the centre of our culture we have these five-hundred million dollar movies that, because they’re primarily considered a product, have to be bankable and provide profit. How do studios plan to recoup their investment? By presenting something that will appeal to as many people as possible while simultaneously saying nothing that might offend (in either direction) or indeed say anything at all beyond a basic, agreeable message like “girl power” or “good triumphs evil”.

Instead of focusing on this, putting our money where our mouth is and demanding better, we simply feed into the model of opposition and say: ‘it’s me, and not you, who is right about this’. We seem to just accept that DC plans to release six movies a year from here on out, or that Disney recently vomited up plans for over fifty-two new Star Wars, Marvel, and other franchise entries over the coming years. 

So yes, there is a cultural void. One into which we just keep throwing money and time, until nothing matters at all.

Also Read: How Film Changed Me: On 2020 in Film

More On This Topic: Stand Off: Superheroes Vs Art

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Editorials

A love letter to Cinemas, Film Companies & Movie Fans

December 6, 2020
Picturehouse Central

Last Friday, Warner Bros. announced that Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in the US on the 15th of December on HBO Max and on the 25th of December in cinema. At the beginning of this week, we found out that the UK cinematic release will happen on the 16th of December and the other countries will follow. While I was happy that we would get a new big release this year, after Tenet, it was news that I welcomed in two ways. With happiness but also with sadness for the cinema. While the HBO Max release won’t be affected by COVID-19, the cinematic one will undoubtedly be.

While it’s understandable that the cast and crew wanted to release this movie ASAP after its many postponements, the Christmas date seems to be the wrong decision. If we get the chance to go out during Christmas, we probably spend that time with family and not at the movies. That’s why it felt that the company behind Wonder Woman 1984 focussed only on HBO Max. Even more so because another release postponement would have been understandable if that would have meant that more cinemas would be able to show the movie.

This is absolutely no criticism to anyone working on Wonder Woman 1984, because many companies would have made the same decision. Still, it feels like it’s another slap in the face of the cinemas and fans who want to watch this movie in a safe cinema. That’s why I want to send a love letter to every party affected by a decision like that: film companies, cinemas and fans.

Wonder Woman 1984 (Credit: Warner Bros)

…to the film companies

Just as any industry, the film industry needed to adapt, and so I salute you for making the difficult decisions about postponements and skipping the cinema release and going straight to streaming platforms. I also want to applaud the many companies who decided to grace the few cinemas with great new releases (think of Saint Maud, Babyteeth, Saint Frances) and who are planning to do the same for the rest of 2020.

While your goal isn’t only to please the audience, it’s obviously also to make money and try to tip over the scale to the profit side instead of the loss one. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using different media (streaming platforms, cinema, television, etc.) to distribute your movie. However, just remember that there are movie fans out there who are willing to wait for a major release on the big screen, no matter when that will happen. We did it before 2020 and pretty sure we will do it after this year as well.

Babyteeth (Credit: Picturehouse)

… the cinemas

Sorry to hear that you had to close your doors again during the last few weeks and that a completely re-opening won’t happen for a very long time. Based on the experience I had before lockdown, cinemas is an extremely safe place—social distancing, hand sanitizers, air-filters, etc. You made sure that it was all there. While there weren’t any new big releases after Tenet, you did bring light into the cinema files lives by programming smaller releases and re-screening movies that need the big screen.

Many of the screenings were sold out. While that was probably because of the limited seats, it was also because film lovers want to go to the cinema to escape from 2020. Understandably, not everyone wants to return to the movies (I respect everyone’s decision), but for the ones who went to a film screening, you as the cinema provided the much-needed escapism, so we thank you for that. Let’s hope that must of you can re-open again soon.

County Lines (Credit: BFI)

… to the fans

Saying that 2020 was a year that changed the way we watch films would be a massive understatement. While Netflix and Amazon Prime already had many subscribers before this year, they gained even more, and we also saw the rise of Disney+. With every postponement, our heart sank to the floor because we would have to wait much longer to be able to do what we want: watching new movies in the cinemas. It’s the same as game lovers having to wait longer for the release of a new console or game.

If you’ve been to the movies during this pandemic, you know that, while it doesn’t feel, as usual, the big screen makes you forget the world we live in for a moment. If you haven’t been, then I’m glad that you can still enjoy some great releases from the comfort of your home. Fingers crossed that we will meet up in a cinema in the near future.

Body of Water (Credit: Verve Pictures)

Also Read: Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

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Editorials

DC FanDome Shows Us many Exciting Films We Can Look Forward To!

August 30, 2020
DC FanDome

Sadly, there are no Comic Cons these days but there are still many ways in which comic fans can connect with each other and with directors, actors, and film crews. One of those was DC FanDome, a 24-hour event during we’ve got a glimpse of what the future will bring when it comes to the DC Superheroes. Now that we’ve all woken up from our comic coma, it’s time for us to share some new teasers and exciting releases.

Batman is more alive than ever

Due to the ongoing situation, the filming of The Batman had to come to a halt but that didn’t stop director Matthew Reeves from sharing the first look of his upcoming movie. We didn’t only get to see the first official poster but also a glimpse of Robert Pattinson in the Batsuit. While there was only 25% of the movie filmed before lockdown, the team also already provided us with a trailer. After looking at this action-packed, black-red, and compelling footage, we can hardly wait to see what’s up next! The filming of The Batman is expected to be resumed very soon and the movie itself is set to be released in the UK on the 1st of October 2021.

Ok, yes technically this news was announced right before the start of the online event but hey, it’s Batman news that no one saw coming. After portraying Bruce Wayne in movies such as Justice League and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck is putting on the Batsuit again. No, it’s not about his performance in Justice League: The Snyder Cut. No, we’re talking about Affleck’s appearance in The Flash from director Andy Muschietti. Apart from Affleck, only two other members of the cast are confirmed so far. One of them is Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash and Michael Keaton as… Batman/Bruce Wayne. Yes, both Affleck and Keaton are starring as Batman in one movie. Pretty sure that George Clooney and Christian Bale are eagerly waiting by their phone. There’s no confirmed release date yet, apart from 2022.

Wonder Woman is ready to light up our screens again!

It was in June 2017 that we say Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Patty Jenkins’ same-named movie and now the wait is (normally) almost over as we can expect the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, on the 2nd of October. We’ve already seen thrilling footage, don’t get us started on that trailer feature the OMD remix, and during the DC FanDome, another trailer was released.

One in which we see Kristen Wiig’s villain Cheetah for the very first time. After starting as Barbara Minerva, Wiggs appears to transform into a human-cheetah hybrid when battling it out against Gadot’s character. Their battle dominates the new trailer which also suggests that the Wonder Woman: Year One graphic novel was the inspiration for this movie. Just as in the previous trailers, we see Steve Trevor having to deal with the ’80s fashion and technology. Check it out for yourself!

Justice League: The Snyder Cut is living up to its expectations

We’ve already mentioned the Justice League: The Snyder Cut and saying that people are expecting a lot of this movie is a massive understatement. Director Zack Snyder confirmed in May that his version of Justice League will see the light of day (Hallelujah!) and later on it was announced that the 4-hour long film will be released on HBO Max next year. Apart from making sure that every character gets more screen time, Snyder will probably also go for a score by Tom Holkenborg, who was replaced by Danny Elfman for the theatrical cut. There will also be some changes in the colours that are used and the aspect ratio as they will use the “1.66:1 aspect ratio”, known as the European Widescreen.

Welcome to the Squad!

We also got a first look of James Gunn his The Suicide Squad and based on the extended behind-the-scenes look that Gunn revealed himself, we’re up for a star-studded superhero movie! Many of the 2016 Suicide Squad film castmembers will return such as Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flag), and Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang) but there is also a bunch load of new names added to the impressive bill. Those include the likes of Idris Elba (Bloodsport), Alice Braga (Sul Soria), Nathan Fillion (T.D.K.), John Cena (Peacemaker), and Peter Capaldi (Thinker). Gunn’s brother Sean will also appear as Weasel. If everything goes according to plan, the movie will be released on the 6th of August 2021.

What’s next for DC FanDome?

When announcing the DC FanDome, it was nail-biting time for everyone involved because it was and is still a one-of-a-kind event. It seems that the gamble paid off for Warnes Bros. According to Variety, the DC FanDome event generated 22 million views across 220 countries, and because of that organisers are thinking about creating similar online events, alongside physical ones of course. It seems that filmmakers, comic books, and movie lovers will be united in more ways than before!

Also Read: Marvel VS DC: The Bitter Divide

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Editorials

The Music Behind Great Films

May 12, 2019
JAWS

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

Jaws: The opening scene – John Williams

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

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

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

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

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

Batman 1989: Batman Theme – Danny Elfman

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

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

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

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

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

Up: Married Life – Michael Giacchio

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

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

Psycho: The Shower Scene – Bernard Hermann

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

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

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