Film, Opinion

THE BECHDEL TEST:

What is it?

The Bechdel Test was first developed as a tongue in cheek look at female representation in cinema by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For. Since it first emerged in 1985, the test has become hugely influential. Whilst some deride the test as overly simplistic, there is no doubt that it does raise some interesting questions about how women are represented in cinema.

To pass the test, a film must have at least two named female characters, who speak to one another about something, ANYTHING, that isn’t a man.

Films which fail:

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source: Pop Inquirer 

Creed – an example of how the test isn’t exactly extensive, Creed fails the Bechdel Test in spite of having an arguably very progressive female character in the form of Bianca (Tessa Thompson) . Bianca’s character rises far above the “girlfriend” stereotype so often found in sports films and is a great example of how Ryan Coogler has updated the Rocky franchise, with her character being fully formed and having her own life and dreams outside of her relationship with Creed (Michael B Jordan). So why does such a great film fail the test? Because Bianca is one of the few female characters, and she never has a conversation with any other females, meaning the film cannot fulfil the second requirement.

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source: Wet Paint

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 – Even kids films aren’t safe! There is a real case for arguing that achieving equality in children’s films is actually the most important of all – they are what children are growing up consuming, and go a long way in forming opinions and perceptions. It may come as a surprise, but both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 fail the Bechdel Test. Whilst there are female characters in both films, they are massively outweighed by the male centric cast and they do not have any conversations with one another. Again, this doesn’t mean the films aren’t great – Jessie is a fantastic female character who debuts in the second film – but it is interesting that across two movies there aren’t any interactions between named female characters. However, it could be argued that Pixar took it on board, because they closed the trilogy in 2010 with Toy Story 3, which does technically pass the test.

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source: Youtube

The Big Short – Adam McKay’s Oscar nominated film depicts the real life circumstances of a group of men in the run up to the 2008 housing mortgage crisis in the US. There are few female characters outwith some celebrity cameos from Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez, so it comes as little surprise that the film fails the test. Films based on true events are always interesting to talk about in relation to the test, as it highlights how gender inequality is an issue which impacts our society as a whole.

Why is it important?

The above films are just a very small slice of the hundreds and thousands of films which fail the test, giving a sense of how the representation of female characters is an issue which is widespread across almost all aspects of film, from animated children’s films to adult orientated content.

The Bechdel Test does have a place, even in just creating a dialogue about how women are represented in films.It should not be used as the only way of measuring gender issues in cinema, and a film failing the test clearly does not automatically make it a sexist film, but it does raise interesting questions about the ratio of men to women in cinema.

For instance, take the situation and apply it to male character – there aren’t many films which would fail the test. We live in a society where women make up 50% of the population, so why aren’t we seeing those proportions translated onscreen? The Bechdel Test provides a way to highlight this, and whilst a lot of the details may slip through the cracks in the process, it has merit in being able to do so.

What do you think of the Bechdel Test? Share your views in the comments section! 

 

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Music, Role Model

ROLE MODEL #1 – PATTI SMITH:

Every Friday A Peerie Yarn will look at a different female role model. They may be a role model for any reason at all, from a music legend to a fantastic author, and the piece will explore what it is that makes them someone to look up to. 

Background & Music:

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source: Villaminin

Patti Smith is an artist who defies convention. A punk-rock singer, a poet, an artist, a writer, a mother, a wife – Smith, like any woman, cannot be neatly placed into a box.

Born in Chicago in 1946, Smith first rose to prominence as part of the New York City punk rock movement in the 1970’s, with her debut Horses becoming one of the most important to emerge from the period.

Infusing rock’n’roll with poetry-infused lyrics, the freestyle Beat influence was clear in her early work. As detailed in her memoir, Just Kids, Smith’s foray into music was almost accidental. 

Moving to New York in the late 1960’s, Smith met photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and embarked on the period of her life that she would go on to document in Just Kids.

Lovers and best friends, the pair lived in a creative bubble which saw them associate with some of the greats of the time, from Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg.

Smith has been continually active as a musician since Horses, with a total of 11 studio albums to date. The most recent, 2012’s Banga, was met with critical acclaim. She was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

In 2011 Smith was awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize:

“By devoting her life to art in all its forms, Patti Smith has demonstrated how much rock’n’roll there is in poetry and how much poetry there is in rock’n’roll.”

– Polar Music Prize

Poetry & Writing:

Whilst best known for her musical endeavors, Smith actually started out as a poet/artist and has published numerous poetry collections since the 1970’s.

She was a part of the St Mark’s Poetry Project in New York whilst living with Mapplethorpe and has continued to write poems ever since.

Smith has also forayed into writing books, releasing Just Kids in 2010. The book is a memoir which tells the story of her relationship and friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and she wrote it to fulfill a promise to him that she would document their endeavors.

Just Kids was a huge success and Smith released a second memoir, M Train, in 2015, focusing on her late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith.

“”What will happen to us?” I asked. “There will always be us” He answered.

– Just Kids (2010)

Art:

Smith has been active in the creation of art her entire life. Her work, from paintings to photographs to installations, has been featured in various locations including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Center in Paris.

She has been represented by the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978. In 2002 a 300-work retrospective, Strange Messenger: The Work of Patti Smith, was held at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The exhibition was then released as a book the following year.

In 2005 Smith was awarded the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, an esteemed French honour.

“It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labour of creation.” 

– Just Kids (2010)

Fashion:

Another term often associated with Smith is ‘style icon’. Her androgynous look, which she has channeled throughout her career, was well ahead of it’s time in 1970’s New York.

Smith went against the grain from the beginning – little make-up, tousled hair and crisp white shirts were not what women were wearing. She put together outfits that, whether intentional or not, became an extension of her art.

Even now, in her late 60’s, Smith refuses to adhere to traditional expectations. With her long grey hair and bohemian style she proves that through it all she has always remained steadfastly true to herself.

“My Keith Richards haircut was a real discourse magnet. I miraculously turned androgynous overnight.”

– Just Kids (2010)

Activism:

Smith has been involved in activism for much of her adult life, particularly in AIDS research following the death of Robert Mapplethorpe from the disease.

She contributed to AIDS benefit album No Alternative, produced by the Red Hot Organisation.

She has also released protest songs and sung at various rallies and events for a variety of causes, such as protesting against the Iraq War and calling from impeachment of George W Bush.

Smith has been affiliated with the Green Party and supported Democratic candidates in some elections.

“The power to dream, to rule, to wrestle the world from fools, it’s decreed the people rule.”

– People Have the Power (1988)

Family:

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source: Pinterest

As well as a long and varied career, Smith has also raised a family. In 1980 she married Fred “Sonic” Smith, a guitarist for MC5. They had two children – Jackson, born 1982, and Jesse, born 1987.

Throughout the 1980’s Smith lived in Michigan with her family and was in a state of semi-retirement from music. Frank died in 1994 at the age of 45.

This, along with the sudden death of her brother Todd, led Smith to return to NYC in the 1990’s.

Role Model:

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source: ABC

Patti Smith is a true female role model – a living embodiment of the fact that a woman can do anything and everything she wishes to. Her entire life has been dedicated to artistic pursuit and raising a family.

From her bold fashion statements to her music, Smith has the attitude of a true punk – she doesn’t care what people about her, and she is just happy to be pursuing her craft.

She has survived through a time where a lot of her creative counterparts saw their lives cut short by addiction or tragedy. She has endured these losses alongside the loss of her husband, her best friend and family members, and still she continues to work.

Patti Smith is a woman who, in many ways, was ahead of her time, and she has been a trailblazer in the creative world. A true inspiration, it is little wonder that thousands of people around the world look up to her.

“All I ever wanted, since I was a child, was to do something wonderful.”

– Patti Smith

What do you think of Patti Smith? Who is your female role model? Share your thoughts in the comments section! 

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Film, News, Opinion, Trailers

MOVIE TRAILER: I SAW THE LIGHT (2016)

Directed: Mark Abraham

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olson

With all the hype about the big summer blockbusters it can be easy to forget that there are countless other exciting projects coming out this year, with I Saw The Light being the one that I am most excited about.

The film is a biopic of country legend Hank Williams, one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century and a legend in country music.

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source: Independent 

I am a huge Hank Williams fan and a cinematic adaption of his story has huge potential. There’s a good chance it will be pretty typical ‘tortured artist’ fare, considering Williams fit the archetype pretty well, but with Tom Hiddleston in the starring role I am confident this could be something special.

Elizabeth Olson also stars as Williams’ first wife Audrey, only adding to the star power and striking reminiscent of the brilliant pairing that was Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line (2005).

A film of this nature will of course sink or swim based on the music – it was Pheonix and Witherspoon’s incredible singing voices as Johnny Cash and June Carter that really made Walk the Line, after all – and so far Hiddleston appears to be more than up to the challenge of conveying Williams’ distinctive twang.

This clip shows Hiddleston perform Williams’ song Move It On Over:

Williams’ grandson Hank Williams III has criticised the video, saying that Hiddleston lacks soul and that the role of his grandfather should not be played by a non-American.

Whilst it must be strange to see your family being played by an actor who is bound to take some creative license, I don’t think the fact that Hiddleston is British will have any real impact on his performance.

Acting is a transformative business, and Hiddleston doesn’t need to be from the South to encapsulate the essence of Williams or his music.

I Saw The Light will be released in cinemas on the 25th of March.

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#52FilmsByWomen, Film, Reviews

#52FILMSBYWOMEN – OBVIOUS CHILD

Directed: Gillian Roberspierre

Starring: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann

For my next #52FilmsByWomen viewing I decided to go for something recent and fell upon 2014’s Obvious Child, a female-centric comedy drama that I was drawn to because of Gaby Hoffmann’s involvement. I am a huge Hoffmann fan after seeing her in Girls and Transparent, so when I saw she was in Obvious Child and that it was directed by a woman it became essential viewing. 

Obvious Child began life as a short film and tells the story of twenty-something Donna (Jenny Slate) who finds out she is pregnant after a one night stand with Max (Jake Lacy) and decides to have an abortion. The premise alone is brave considering abortion continues to be a near-untouchable taboo in cinema. Even the more daring films such as Juno sort of skirt past the issue, making Obvious Child a breath of fresh air in its frank tackling of the subject.

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source: Youtube

In spite of the taboo subject matter, Obvious Child is surprisingly and refreshingly unpolitical. Sure, there is most likely a political message tucked in there somewhere, but it’s a subtle one and it is clear from the beginning that the film isn’t so much about peddling a pro-choice argument than telling the story of one woman’s experience with an unplanned pregnancy.

The first act isn’t great and the set-up is done to death – woman gets dumped, gets wasted, loses her job etc. – but once the plot has been established the film really hits its stride. Jenny Slate plays Donna with comic vulnerability and in a way that is sure to strike a chord with any woman who has found herself in a less than ideal situation. Jake Lacy is equally charming as Max, whilst Gaby Hoffman appears in a brilliant supporting turn as Donna’s best friend and room-mate Nellie.

The supporting cast are excellent, with David Cross even showing up for a hilarious extended cameo, but the film rests entirely on Slate’s shoulders. The humour is crude in a way that probably won’t sit well with every viewer – vagina jokes are commonplace – but there is a lot of heart beneath the vulgarity and the film finds more success in it’s dramatic moments than it’s funny ones.

In her review for The Nation, Michelle Goldberg argues that the film’s narrative is actually quite conventional in spite of its tackling of a sensitive subject matter, and this is true to an extent. The abortion route is different and little explored in film, but the rest of the story we are presented with is pretty standard indie rom-com fare. This is not a bad thing as such, but it can be easy to overstate how inventive Obvious Child is due to it’s brave tackling of abortion.

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source:In Bed

That said, there is enough going on here to make it feel refreshing and the film is a great example of how you don’t need overt political messages to communicate ideas. Obvious Child is a fun and charming film about a subject that is anything but fun and charming, so it’s certainly doing something right.

Obvious Child is available to stream on Netflix UK.

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Film, Reviews

FILM REVIEW: ZOOLANDER 2

Directed: Ben Stiller

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell

When Ben Stiller’s Zoolander hit cinemas back in 2001 the world was still in shock over 9/11, but over time the film has become a comedy favourite due to the biting satire of the world of high fashion and the hilarious performances from Stiller, Owen Wilson and the ever-hilarious Will Ferrell.

Cut to 15 years later and the world is a very different place, and Zoolander 2 at least has the sense to acknowledge this, making it one of the main themes. In order for the sequel to move forward, the opening montage informs us that the happy ending we saw at the end of the original didn’t last and that Zoolander has become a “hermit crab” after his Centre For Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Want to Learn to do Other Stuff Good Too collapses, killing his wife and scarring Hansel (Owen Wilson), as well as losing his son.

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source: Telegraph

Comedy sequels are notoriously hard to pull off – they usually either end up being a retread of the original, or they go way over the top. Zoolander 2 falls into the latter category, which isn’t great considering the original was already pretty out there. With 15 years between the films it really begs the question – was this film necessary? Sure the fans might have wanted it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea (hence why there should never be a Friends reboot). It feels much like the same situation that arose with the Anchorman sequel – the original is so beloved that unattainable expectations were never going to be met.

Another reason I don’t understand why this sequel has come about is the character of Zoolander himself. The guy literally has no personality beyond being dumb beyond belief, and it’s funny to an extent, but it’s lucky that he managed to carry one film, so why bring him back for another? Why couldn’t the guy just have that happy ending that we all saw at the end of the first movie? It’s not like there’s any character development on display here.

But, anyway, as unnecessary as it may be the film does exist, and unfortunately it can’t claim to be much more than mediocre. Sure, it raises a few laughs, but the extremely talented cast are wasted on average material – Kristen Wiig in particular, who’s weird accent is meant to be funny but never quite lands.

The whole point of Zoolander was to lampoon the fashion industry, but it feels here like the script is going for anything but the fashion industry. Hipsters? They get it pretty bad. Celebrities? The film opens with Justin Bieber being riddled with bullets. But the fashion industry? Not so much. The original film was so biting in its satire – think the bulimia jokes – and everything we see here is just a pale imitation.

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source: Youtube

When you have so many cameos from members of the fashion industry you’ve probably lost your bite, and that’s what has happened here. Speaking of the cameos, they deserve a whole section dedicated to them alone. Anyone who finds the plot insufferable could make a game out of celebrity spotting – they don’t all work, but some of them do raise a laugh, such as Willie Nelson (!?) and Keifer Sutherland.

Zoolander 2 feels like a frantic attempt to emulate everything that made the original so funny, but ultimately it doesn’t have the bite and, whilst far from being unwatchable, these are characters that were probably best left in 2001.

 

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Uncategorized

FILM INQUIRY:

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Woody Allen. source: Indiewire

I’ve recently started contributing to Film Inquiry, a great website which publishes in-depth analysis and discussion about all things film. My first article was published last night and it looks at Woody Allen’s lesser known films – check it out here.

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Film, List

SUPERBOWL 50 MOVIE TRAILERS:

Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle looks set to be the modern day Cool Runnings, and that can’t really be a bad thing. Telling the true story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, who in 1988 became the first competitor for Great Britain in Olympic Ski Jumping. The film stars Taron Egerton in the title role, with Hugh Jackson co-starring as trainer Bronson Peary.

This spot doesn’t really add much, especially for many UK viewers, instead showing American football players Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Kurt Warner discuss their reaction to the film after an advanced screening. Unsurprisingly their response is overwhelmingly positive and there is a lot of talk about having the courage to follow your dreams, making it all very inspirational.

It’s not that the spot isn’t good, or that the story isn’t inspirational, but the trailers for the film suggest that it is going to have its tongue firmly in cheek and not take itself too seriously. Director Dexter Fletcher is known for his acting work, whilst it is being produced by the people behind Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), which also starred Egerton.

Eddie the Eagle will be released in the UK on April 1st.

Gods of Egypt

Things are not looking good for Gods of Egypt, which is a shame because it comes from the director behind The Crow (1994). Gerard Butler stars as a dark god seeking to overthrow the Egyptian empire in this pre-historical fantasy that frankly looks like a trainwreck waiting to happen.

Butler looks like he still thinks he is on the set to 300 (2006), Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shows up briefly and looks like he’d rather be somewhere else, and the CGI looks overblown and unconvincing.

Seriously, does anyone care that this film is coming out? If you do happen to, it’s due for release on the 26th of February.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Given the fact that Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland, released back in 2010, broke the $1 billion barrier, it should probably be no surprise that a sequel is due out. Despite the return of much of the original cast, James Bobin – known for directing The Muppet movies – has taken over directorial duties.

There isn’t much to suggest that the film will be any better than the forgettable original. Johnny Depp is back into full-scale kook mode after attempting to go straight with last years Black Mass, and whilst the source material is strong it just looks like more overblown nonsense. The use of Alan Rickman, who voices the caterpillar, also feels a bit like a cheap cash in given the actors death last month – not cool, Disney.

Captain America: Civil War

Obviously the 30 second spot for Civil War was going to be one of the highlights of the night, and it delivered on its promise and then some. The quickfire editing packed a lot into the short runtime, giving fans plenty to ponder over ahead of the films release in May.

Probably the highlight was the iron glove – seeing the latest Iron Man technology is always fun, and the fact that he has to use it to stop Bucky from shooting him in the head suggest that the stakes are higher than ever.

We also got an awesome shot of the two teams, and whilst Iron Man’s side definitley have the brawn with War Machine and Black Panther, Captain America’s side could have the cunning with Ant Man and Scarlett Witch. Don’t forget that they also have loose cannon Bucky so anything could happen, but at least we know it won’t be boring.

Deadpool

I already talked about how great Deadpool’s marketing campaign has been in my review, which you can find here, and this Superbowl spot was another highlight. The merc with a mouth casually lampoons football players whilst encouraging audiences to get out and see the movie in an inspired last push of the film.

If you haven’t seen it yet – why are you reading this? Get going!

10 Cloverfield Lane

Cloverfield Lane isn’t something I know much about, other than that producer J.J Abrams has said that it is a “blood relative” to 2008 film Cloverfield, which he also produced. The marketing department in charge of this spot make the most of Abrams insane popularity since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the end of last year, and it is his name that features prominently rather than director Dan Trachtenberg’s.

10 Cloverfield Lane is set for a US release in March.

The Jungle Book

This new full length trailer for the live action adaption of The Jungle Book, which looks set to be the best adaption of a classic Disney animation to come from the studio (that seems to be their new thing at the moment).

If the first trailer was good, this is sensational. The CGI looks top rate and the cast that director Jon Favreau has assembled to voice the animals might be one of the best ensembles of the year – Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, anyone?

We get a proper look at Christopher Walken’s King Louie and it is something to behold. Whilst it could have been easy for Walken’s iconic voice to be a distraction, it actually suits the character perfectly and looks set to be one of the highlights of the film (no small feat with this cast).

The Jungle Book is released worldwide on April 15th 2016.

Jason Bourne

Bourne is back! It’s clear that Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon are keen to make it clear that JASON BOURNE is back, even slapping the name into the title just so we can’t miss it. After Damon departed following the conclusion of the original trilogy in 2007 Jeremy Renner took up the reigns in 2012 with The Bourne Legacy.

The reviews were mixed, a far cry from the love that the original trilogy met, so it’s little wonder the marketing wants to slap us in the face with the fact that this is a return to the glory days. That’s pretty much all it does, with this spot giving little away and instead just trying (and succeeding) to get us all excited about Damon’s return.

Jason Bourne is out in cinemas on July 29th.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

I really wish people would stop paying to watch stuff that Michael Bay has a hand in. Granted Armageddon is a guilty pleasure, but that was released almost 20 years ago and things are past the joking point now.

The Michael Bay produced 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is currently sitting on a stellar 21% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it made over $500 million at the Box Office so a sequel was inevitable (see what I mean – stop paying to see his stuff people).

This spot looks like more of the same, so chances are it will rake in the cash and we will be subjected to many more of these movies. I was never really into TMNT as a child, but it can’t be fun for fans to see what’s come of them now.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will be out in the US in June.

Independence Day: Resurgence

I didn’t get as excited about the new Independence Day spot because I am yet to see the 1996 original, but there is no doubt that the long-awaited sequel looks pretty epic.

The spot doesn’t give much away, but Jeff Goldblum get’s a cool line (“what goes up, must come down”) and there is almost no chance that people aren’t going to go see this one.

Independence Day: Resurgence is being released in the UK in June, with no set UK release date yet.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Not to be outdone by the juggernaut that is Marvel, Fox also unleashed a teaser for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. The film is set to close the trilogy that brought the series back from the brink (the brink being The Last Stand and the awful Wolverine Origins movie).

Bryan Singer is back in the directors chair once more and Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence are all back in their roles as the younger versions of Magneto, Professor X and Mystique respectively.

The teaser does precisely that, giving an enticing look into the plot which appears to see Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse unleash the end of the world on us humans. It looks set to be everything that the final part of a trilogy should be, with higher stakes, a bigger threat and a whole lot of action.

If anyone can do it, it’s Singer – it’s hilarious how he managed to wrangle the series out of seemingly endless plot holes with Days of Future Past, and if he can do that, he can do anything.

The Secret Life of Pets

Universal have long played second fiddle to Pixar, the daddy of modern animation, but there’s a good chance they don’t really mind since they made over a $1 billion last summer with Minions. But the things is, The Secret Life of Pets has a lot of promise.

Much like Toy Story, it’s a simple concept – what do our pets do when we’re not home? Pair the intriguing premise with a hilarious voice cast that includes the comedic talents of Louis C.K and Kevin Hart and they could really be onto something special.

The marketing material, this spot included, has focused on a series of skits and a coherent plot isn’t yet obvious and the film will probably sink or swim on this – as funny as the sketch like material is, it probably won’t carry an entire film.

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Film, Reviews

FILM REVIEW: DEADPOOL

The ‘merc with a mouth’ finally gets the film he deserves. 

Directed: Tim Miller

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J Miller

To say expectations for Deadpool were high would be an understatement. Back in 2009 cult-favourite character Deadpool appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine with his mouth inexplicably sewn up, much to the horror of fans the world over. Seven years later and here we are – Deadpool is finally here in all his glory.

A passion project from star Ryan Reynold’s, the film has had one of the best marketing campaigns of recent times, which only served to intensify the hype. It was going to take something good to live up to expectations, but don’t worry, Deadpool delivers.

Deadpool-X-Men

Deadpool in X-Men: Origins. source: Comic Book Movie

Known in the comics for breaking the fourth wall, Deadpool was never going to be a conventional superhero movie. After that test footage was released and Reynolds and director Tim Miller secured that sought after R rating (a big deal in the US, here in the UK it’s a 15) fans were more than convinced that the beloved character was in safe hands.

With fourth wall breaking, cartoonish violence and vulgarity galore, Deadpool delivers on it’s potential in spades. In terms of narrative structure, it veers into surprisingly tired territory with the typical origin story – probably at the insistence of the studio (aka “the guys who sewed his fucking mouth up the first time”). Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an ex-military mercenary who finds out he has multi-organ cancer and allows some shady people to do some suspicious experiments on him in order to live for his girlfriend Vanessa (Monica Baccarin).

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In spite of the origin story narrative, Deadpool is no superhero, and the film is a revenge flick at heart. In fact, the guy is certifiably insane, and the film is all the better for it. Wise-cracking his way through a rising body count, it’s almost a stretch to call the guy an anti-hero. Reynolds is perfectly cast, delivering too many one liners to count. That’s not to say that the rest of the cast don’t keep up – Baccarin is fantastic as hard-as-nails Vanessa, who takes the typical girlfriend trope and inverts it brilliantly. Sure, the film plays with the damsel-in-distress stereotype, but it arguably gets off with it by being so hilariously self-aware.

T. J Miller provides the comic relief as Weasel, Wade’s best friend who stops short at being a sidekick. Miller’s deadpan delivery of some of the films best lines perfectly suit the tone and again offsets the film as a lot more than typical superhero fare. The only true weak link is, probably unsurprisingly, Ed Skrein’s Ajax. The ‘villain’ of the piece who is responsible for making Wilson both immortal and, in his own words, “unfuckable.”

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Ajax. source: The Guardian

Skrein is the typical ‘British villain’ – though the film pokes fun at itself by pointing this out to us in the opening credits – but in this sort of movie, it doesn’t really matter that the big bad is two-dimensional. It is yet another example of the film’s self-aware nature being it’s saving grace.

Set in the X-Men universe, it was a given that some of Professor X’s proteges (“James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart?”) were going to show up, and they do in the form of Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrande). Kapicic replaces Daniel Cudmore and portrays a version of Colossus that is much more in line with the comic books, whilst Hildebrande is hilarious as a moody teenage mutant.

deadpool-movie-negasonic-teenage-warhead-and-collossus

Just because the film comes from the same studio as X-Men doesn’t mean they were safe from Deadpool’s lampooning, and there are some truly hilarious exchanges as he berates them for their ‘hero’ status. In a market inundated with clear-cut ‘heroes’, it is refreshing to see a frankly psychotic anti-hero who’s only real agenda is revenge.

The film is the directorial debut for Tim Miller, and his background in visual effects is clear from the beginning with an inspired opening sequence. The direction is assured for a debut and he indulges in extreme violence, with heads literally rolling. It could easily have come off as cheap, but Miller ensures that the violence is actually executed much more artistically than one would expect.

Sure, the visuals are great, but of course it was always going to be all about the dialogue. Reynolds played a heavy role in the writing, and the script from Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese is a laugh a minute.

The film only came out in the UK two days ago, but Fox have already confidently announced a sequel and appear keen to keep the creative team together, which seems fair considering what they have managed to pull off here. Reynolds has made it clear that he would ultimately like the character to be part of an X-Force movie, so it looks like this is only the beginning for the ‘merc with a mouth.’

Here are my top five quotes from Deadpool, which is probably the most quotable superhero film of all time…

DEADPOOL

Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Deadpool. source: The Wrap

“Oh, I so pity the dude who pressures her into prom sex.” 

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Deadpool. source: Screen Rant

“And a convivial Tuesday in April to you, Mr.Pool” 

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Deapool and Colossus. source: Twitter

“That guy was up there before we got there.” 

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Deadool. source: The Verge

“The T-Rex was always the dinosaurs’ fiercest enemy!”

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Deadpool.

“Tell Beast to stop shitting on my lawn.” 

What did you think of Deadpool? Let me know in the comments section! 

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Film, Reviews

FILM REVIEW: THE REVENANT

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass. source: 20th Century Fox

Directed: Akejandro G. Inarritu

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Fancy a nice Friday night popcorn flick? Do not go and see The Revenant. Seriously, it’s not for the fainthearted. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed watching it – I spent most of the 156 minute run-time squirming in my seat – but it is without a doubt an experience (which is probably what a trip to the cinema should be).

Telling the story of fur-trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), the films title tells you all you need to know – a revenant is someone who has come back from the dead. Life is not kind to this man. He’s lost his wife before the film even starts, and then we see him get mauled by a bear and watch his son get murdered before he is placed in a shallow grave. Puts your problems into perspective, right?

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That bear attack. source: Sunday Morning Herald

DiCaprio is at the top of his game here, delivering the performance that could finally bag him that Oscar. To be able to communicate meaning into long sequences that are free of dialogue (bar wailing and grunting) is a credit to the guy, and whilst the other Best Actor nominees all delivered great performances I think he is truly the best of them.

Whilst it would be easy to say that the acting is all down to DiCaprio’s central performance, that would be unfair to the equally strong supporting cast. Tom Hardy almost steals the show as John Fitzgerald, a character who would have come across as purely villainous in the hands of a lesser talent, yet Hardy manages to communicate glimpses of humanity through fear.

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Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald. source: 20th Century Fox

Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson round out the supporting cast providing the most emotional turns, which keeps the film grounded amidst the near animalistic characters played by DiCaprio and Hardy. One thing that is clear across the board is that the authenticity – filmed on location in Canada and Argentina, these guys were actually out in the sub-zero temperatures and it shows in the final product.

Speaking of on location, it’s no secret that most of the cast and crew appear to have been to hell and back in the process of making this movie. Hopefully they will all deem it worth it now that they know how incredible it looks on screen – there is no way you could mistake the stunning locations for a green screen.

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The Revenant. source: 20th Century Fox 

The small touches of CGI blend in seamlessly – particularly that uncomfortably authentic bear attack. There were mistaken reports early on that the bear rapes poor Hugh, but it’s more of an intense mauling, which is by far bad enough. You feel every excruciating blow.

The sound work is also incredible – you feel like you are out there in the cold with them (hence the squirming I was talking about earlier). The score from Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto is used sparingly to great effect. The painstaking effort that has gone into making this film is clear in every aspect, from the cinematography to the editing, and it is almost a given that it will win big this month at the Oscars.

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The Revenant. source: 20th Century Fox

It could be argued that the film is perhaps a little heavy on the graphic brutality and less on the philosophical lessons, but this is a film about surviving against the odds (and nature), and in that sense it delivers and then some. The stories about shooting have been well documented, but did you ever take a minute to think what eating a raw bison’s liver and sleeping in an animal carcass would look like on screen? Spoiler alert: It’s not pretty.

In terms of the brutality, it is unflinching from the get go but never for the sake of it – these were the conditions that fur trappers really had to deal with, after all. The Revenant is a visceral experience in every sense of the word, a technical triumph in film-making that demands to be experienced.

What do you think of The Revenant? Let me know in the comments section!

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#52FilmsByWomen, Film, Reviews

#52FILMSBYWOMEN – CLUELESS

clueless

source: Plugged In

As part of #52FilmsByWomen I decided to revisit 90’s teen classic Clueless. Written and directed by Amy Heckerling, who is also behind 80’s hit Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) and Look Who’s Talking (1989), Clueless is based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma.

Released at the same time as Disney’s Pocahontas and Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, the film became a sleeper hit and is now regarded a cult classic. Clueless tells the story of Beverly Hills high-schooler Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) as she navigates her privileged life, taking new student Tia (Brittany Murphy) under her wing.

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source: Cinapse

Clueless is best remembered for its hilariously quotable dialogue, with the constant pop culture references being just as funny today as they were two decades ago. Heckerling’s script is full of soft satire, which pokes fun at the west coast and high school lifestyle in the way that a loving friend would.

The cast is full of familiar faces who were at the time relative unknowns – perhaps the most prolific being the even more baby-faced than usual Paul Rudd – and there is a real sense of comradery that runs throughout the film.

The untimely death of Brittany Murphy in 2009 tinges the film with sadness, with her adorable turn as Tia being one of the main highlights. Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash are brilliant as Cher and best friend Dionne,  and it is in their friendship that Clueless’ greatest strength lies.

In any other teen movie, Cher and Dionne would be the stereotypical ‘mean girls’. Heckerling actively inverts this expectation by making them likable. The characters are realistic within the hyper-realistic and slightly satirical world due to the fact that the dynamics between them reflect how teenagers really interact with each other – there aren’t heroes and villains like there are the movies.

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source: ET Online

Heckerling acknowledges this and there aren’t really any straight out ‘villains’ in Clueless. Sure, Amber (Elisa Donovan) and Elton (Jeremy Sisto) act negatively at points, but they are not straight out bad guys. It’s rare to see this in a teen movie, even today, and it one of the reasons Clueless has such an enduring legacies.

Another beloved aspect of Clueless is the fashion, with costume designer Mona May firmly shaking off the muted grunge style of the early 90’s to embrace something much brighter and adventurous. It is a credit to May that the costumes don’t look anywhere near as dated as they should – in fact, some of them look positively modern.

Clueless is timeless for many reasons, but the biggest is its huge heart. A perfect example of how female-centric comedies can be funny without making them all about men and bitchiness, it was also, in many ways, way ahead of its time.

Here are my top five quotes from Clueless… 

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source: Buzzfeed

“Dionne and I were both named after famous singers of the past, who now do infomercials.” 

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source: AustenBlog

“That’s Ren and Stimpy. They’re way existential.”

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source: Celeb Buzz

“You’re a virgin who can’t drive.”

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source: Pintrest

“Is Josh giving you shit because he’s going through his post-adolescent idealistic phase?”

“If I’m too good for him, then how come I’m not with him?”

What are your favourite lines from Clueless? Let me know in the comments section!

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