Podcast: Disney Matters

This week, EN4News reporters Paul Sinclair, Dave Paul and Olivia Hill discuss the upcoming Disney remakes, scheduled for release in 2019.

Podcast: Festive movie favourites

xmas poscast 2

Get Christmas ready!

December is finally here so it’s time to start binging your favourite festive movies. Join Olivia Hill, Michaella Wheatley, Linnéa Lind and Paul Sinclair as they chat about their top picks and compete in a seasonal movie quiz!

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Times at the El Royale review

An all-star cast tells a tale of love, murder and money in this late 60’s thriller 

It’s easy to watch the trailer for Bad Times at the El Royale and not really know what the heck is going on, as the latest film from director Drew Goddard (The Martian, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) brings a priest, a singer, a salesman and a fleeing cult member together in a seedy hotel on the California/Nevada borderline. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it makes for a great movie.

Set in 1968, the film brings this group of mismatches together and introduces a backstory for each character in a Tarantino-esque way. We learn of gunfights, murder, drug abuse and violence as each character’s true identity and agenda is revealed one by one.

The volume of death in this film is such that the murders of key characters don’t feel as important as they should

One of the many positive attributes this film carries is the star power, with several established Hollywood names taking a key role, including Mad Men star Jon Hamm and Thor actor Chris HemsworthThe real breakaway performance in this film, however, is reserved for Jeff Bridges. Bridges’ character, who starts out as an ageing priest seeking refuge from an inbound storm, unveiled as a bank robber, recently released from a lengthy prison stretch in which a botched robbery left his brother (portrayed in an almost cameo-like role by Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman) dead and himself behind bars. Returning to the same hotel where his brother met his demise to retrieve the buried money, Bridges’ character Doc O’Kelly is in the preliminary stages of dementia and fails to remember which room the money is hidden in.

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Theatrical Poster – Credits to FOX FILMS

At times leaning a little too heavily on a Pulp Fiction/Tarantino style of cinematography, the story jumps from one character to another, from past to present to present to past. On more than one occasion, the viewer may find himself viewing the same scene again, perhaps from another perspective or simply as the conclusion of a character’s backstory, a factor that may be off-putting to a casual cinema goer.

The film drew a disappointing $2.7 million in its opening weekend, a fraction of its $30 million budget, but fans of this type of retro, art noir type of film should not let this affect their decision to go and watch this wonderfully weird film. The complex past of each character, the unexpected twists and turns and the dark comedic aspects of the release more than make up for the over the top violence and at times predictable storytelling. Bad Times at the El Royale will leave audiences mentally exhausted but overall satisfied, and maybe just a little confused.

Watch the Trailer for Bad Times at the El Royale here

 

Podcast: Advances in cinema

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Picture of Edinburgh Filmhouse. Photo credit to Edinburgh Filmhouse.

Recently, the mobile network EE launched a competition for a community to win a “Cinema in the Sky” experience.

With popcorn delivered by drones, and the screen 100 feet in the air, is this an experience cinema-goers would like?

For EN4News Podcast, Joanna Hampson, Michaella Wheatley, and Calum Wilson discuss the advances cinema has made in past years and will make in the future.

Film review: Venom

Credit to copyright SONY

Similar to the character of Deadpool, Venom’s initial debut on the big screen was far from smooth. Both characters were poorly represented in X-men Origins: Wolverine and Spider-Man 3 respectfully.

However, Ryan Reynolds got his shot of redemption as the Marvel hero was awarded a standalone flick which boomed in the box office, subsequently launching a sequel released earlier this year.

Now Venom has his second chance, but the end result is far from perfect.

Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist whose reporting on an unethical science organisation lands himself in hot water when he becomes possessed by a ‘parasite’, granting Hardy the ‘symbiote’ suit and subsequently transforming him into the anti-hero that is Venom.

Right off the bat I want to praise Hardy for his performance. The segments between Brock and Venom are by far where the film finds its most enjoyment. However, you can tell that the writers have forced in a backstory reluctantly in the opening act. Explaining why the film’s set in San Fransico and not in New York like the comics, Brock’s love life with Anne Weying (played by Michelle Williams) which really lacks chemistry between the pair and why Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), leader of the science organisation is the bad guy. It almost felt like a grind to get through these opening stages so when Brock and Venom finally combine, it’s almost a sigh of relief.

Credit copyright to SONY

But it pains me to say, a lot of the great moments I saw in the film were already showcased in the trailer, even some of the final scenes. Yes, I wish I was joking too.

The reason I opened with the comparison of Venom to Deadpool was not only due to their poor representation in films previously, but the pair are but a handful of comic book movies that have been granted the luxury of a 15-rated viewing. This worked perfectly for Deadpool as it allowed the writers to give Reynolds the creative freedom he so dearly wanted for the character.

The film acts as an origin story but never seems to find its identity as it bounces between multiple genres.

However, Venom is placed in an awkward situation as theatres across the pond have granted the film a ‘PG-13’ rating. So, you’ve got a film that wants to be a serious and gore filled with the action but is constrained to a cut away in the edit anytime Venom goes to eat someone’s head and not a single splash of blood in sight. Therefore, it’s stuck in this awkward limbo with finding balance in its action and when those scenes do eventually roll round the payoff is never worth it.

There is enjoyment to be had with Venom. It’s only until the third and final act where the film finally settles with its identity as an action adventure, having started the film as much more of a drama.

The success in the box office, earning $205 million (£157m) globally in its opening weekend is leading me to believe we’ll be seeing Tom Hardy back in the symbiote suit in the near future. But I really hope this time a 15-rated film doesn’t feel like a watered down one.

Rating: 2.5/5

Film Review: A simply weird film

A Simple Favour

Theatrical poster from Feigco Entertainment

 

With all the potential of a great film, A Simple Favor could have been a great watch with strong casting and great cinematography, but it fell just short of that. Yes, it did well on the casting and cinematography fronts, but the plot’s indecisiveness is what served the killing blow.

 

The trailer promised more than it could deliver, showing a secretive thriller with little divulged about lead ladies Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively it seemed slick and professional with all the key traits of an action-packed thriller.

 

The movie was action-packed, but it just didn’t seem to be able to decide on what kind of action it was going to run with.

 

It started out similar to many other classic thrillers, but slowly spiralled out of control as it meandered into comedy and abstract drama, taking you on a rollercoaster ride that progressively got weirder and weirder. The wheels started falling off at this point and the plot lost its believability and understanding, forcing the viewer to surrender to the unknown because just about anything could happen. So much so, that incest, multiple murders, cheating, swearing children and car accidents did occur but by the time the film got to these twists, it felt cheap and almost like a 13-year-old’s fanfiction.

 

Unfortunately, the characters aren’t likeable either. The two main personas are Anna Kendrick’s perfect mother and Blake Lively’s terrible mother. Kendrick’s perfect mother is suffocating and obnoxious, and although her character moves forward and is built on more than others, it doesn’t feel like it ends well.

 

At the close of the film, she doesn’t seem to be able to move away from the person she was at the beginning of the film, which makes her progression feel fake. Lively’s terrible mother, however, tries so hard to be cool to the point that she loses all believability too. She seems to prefer drinking her time away more than raising her only child, but then declares her love for her son and says that the only reason the entire film happened in the first place was because of her son.

 

The side characters are more bearable, and Andrew Rannells’ character even steals the show at the last minute – the best part of the entire film, but too little too late.

 

The acting was brilliant, but you can’t improve a poor script and unlikeable characters, and A Simple Favor is a great example of this. It is a rollercoaster of a film, which will keep you on the edge of your seat, but after half an hour you start to lose your investment. You want to know what happens purely because the ending is so bizarre, the average viewer will not be able to come up with the last five minutes on their own.

 

It’s not the worst film you’ll ever watch, but it’s hard to rave about when it feels so cheap and fake, even though it is set in such a wealthy environment with several opportunities for well-shot scenes. You’ll be left trying to figure out if you got more than you bargained for, or if you’ve been slightly cheated.

BlacKkKlansman Review

Director Spike Lee’s new flick highlights racism in the present using a story from the not-so-distant past – but he still manages to provide some laughs along the way.

BlacKkKlansman is the story of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington), who becomes Colorado Springs’ first black police officer, and then more or less immediately takes on the job of infiltrating the local KKK chapter. Working his way into the most racist organisation ever proves difficult for a man of his skin colour, so he enlists the aid of fellow (white) officer Phillip “Flip” Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to act as his surrogate at Klan events.

Incredibly, it’s all a true story. Ron Stallworth was a real cop, and really was black, and really did infiltrate the KKK over the phone. Some dates and places have been slightly altered but the idea and the ridiculousness is all fairly true.

There’s some incredible acting, especially from Washington and Driver in their scenes together – the real Ron Stallworth wanted Denzel Washington to play him in the movie, but was ecstatic to have Denzel’s son portray him instead. Psychotic klansman Felix is also played with disturbing realism by Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen.

The only bit of the movie I disliked was the ending, in which the fiction ends and we are bombarded with newsreel from recent right-wing events in America. It’s depressing, and then I realised  that’s probably the point. Throughout the movie the language of the klansmen mirrors that of the current american administration: Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke refers to “making America remember its greatness”, which sounds not unlike something I’ve seen on a hat recently.

Since October 1st was also the start of UK Black History Month, I wondered if the real life parallels of the film were also a major issue in Britain. I asked a friend of mine, Ore Malaolu, what his opinion was. Ore’s Nigerian, and has lived in the US for some time before moving to Scotland:

“[UK Black History Month] is almost nonexistent” he told me. “I know about it, but it’s not as brought to the forefront as it is in the US. Black history just isn’t really talked about.”

He also spoke about how his peers aren’t overly aware of the Month as well,

“My university have pictures up [about Black History Month] but I still find myself telling people ‘did you not know that’s a thing?'”

Hopefully, with movies like BlacKkKlansman become more popular worldwide (as opposed to just seeing success in the US) awareness of black history will become more prevalent in the UK. We seem to have a spotlight on black culture, but as a society looking back just isn’t our strong suit.

By Bryce Arthur

Cold War Review – Love, life and music in post-war Europe

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Cold War film poster

A politically charged Polish love story directed by Pawel Pawlikowsi unfolding in the monochromatic shadows of the the soviet union.

As I sat down in one of the comfy red chairs at Filmhouse cinema, I was unaware of the impact the film I was about to watch would have on me. Seated on the second row from the screen, I was physically close to what was happening in front of me – but I also began to feel attached on an emotional level.

Poland, 1949. Dancers and musicians are auditioning for the Mazurek ensemble to put on shows of traditional polish music and dance. One of them being the young Zula (Joanna Kulig). With great confidence, she enters the audition room together with another woman, performing a duet in front of Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Irena (Agata Kulesza). Wiktor is enraptured by Zula’s charismatic performance. Soon she begins to bloom and perform alongside him, her jazz tunes warm and lively in contrast to the Cold War setting.

The character that Joanna Kulig so brilliantly plays is confident and colourful, even though the film is shot in black and white. Her chemistry with the male lead Wiktor, is easy to notice. It starts as a subtle connection when they first meet, and then continues to grow throughout the film, as they are separated by the power of the Cold War and then reunited by their hearts’ desires.

As the film is set in several locations– Poland, Paris, Yugoslavia and Berlin – and offers a wide range of scenery, it never gets boring. Despite its melancholic theme and time period, there is a lot of humour woven delicately throughout.  So much so that it always seems to somehow stay there in the background – almost fighting back against the dark of the world the couple lives in.

This beautifully created film, directed by the talented Pawel Pawlikowski, really moved me. It also made me laugh at loud numerous times. I would be very happy to watch it again. And perhaps again after that. And perhaps once more.

By Linnea Lind

Jessica Jones – A mixing pot of neo-noir mystery and female empowerment

Kirsten Ritter as Jessica Jones Image Credit: Netflix

Arguably the best of Netflix Marvel’s TV returns for a second season- providing a perfect cultural avatar that reflects the outrage and unity of the Post #MeToo world.

The second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was released last week to coincide with National Woman’s day. This happened for a very important reason. IT is a show created for and about woman.

Each of the 13 episodes in the second season was directed by woman and, while Marvel do often have strong female characters in their films and tv shows. This is their first creation with a female lead.

It is no secret that the world of comic books and their mainstream superhero’s has been a male dominated market. All the recent Marvel success’ – Avengers Assemble, Spiderman: Homecoming, Captain America, Thor – all feature men as the main hero, idols of super strength and unatural power.

Scarlett Johansson as Marvel’s Natalia Romanoff ( The Black Widow) Image Credit: Marvel Studios

However the woman in the Marvel universe usually fall within one of two categories.There is the ‘love interest’, or to put it more accurately, the damsel in distress. The classic narrative trope of man saves woman, who seems to get into trouble at every turn. Then there is the ‘flawless’ heroine. With their flawless fight sequences where their hair and make-up are always precise, clad in skin-tight spandex, and always equipped with a sarcastic line or funny quip as a comeback.

It was then that Jessica Jones broke the mold. Jones lives by herself, runs her own private investigator business, and is the very definition of anti-social. A woman dealing with the horrors of her past and is angry being labeled and told what to do by others. Oh and just so happens to have super strength as the result of being experimented on.

Jones is angry at the world. She and those closest to her where victim to many horrendous crimes and injustices. Repeatedly and often brutally committed by mostly men. Jones has been orphaned, raped, exploited, and generally abused by those in positrons of power. Both human and Superhuman in nature.

And it’s the ways she copes, or doesn’t, with her anger, superhuman alcoholism and tendency to rely on her fist to solve her problems that made her an icon. An embodiment of all the emotions in this post #MeToo age.

Kirsten Ritter, the actor who plays Jones, has had many people come up to her with praise for the character.

Real women on the street came up to me in tears because this was the first time they felt represented by the lead; it made them feel so much better about their own traumas,” Ritter says. “Even hearing women saying they were excited to see a badass female character was great: people responded to her in such a huge way.”

The series broaches some serious issues, such as abortion, rape, domestic abuse, and addiction. But it does so with a deft hand. Offering a new perspective on trauma, that even those with power can be rendered defenseless. That these issues can be subject to anyone. It re-writes the victim narrative so that the viewer can begin to understand a fraction of how abuse can affect someone.

Overall the show offers a message of hope and inspiration. Showing the difficulties that survivors face, that opening up can help even though its hard and that most of all , Jones wasn’t to blame. This is all the while fighting her demons, both metaphorically and literal.

Watch the season 2 trailer here:

Films to catch this week in Edinburgh

FILMHOUSE FOYER

The Filmhouse foyer (Photo Credit: Patrick Dalziel)

At EN4 News we like to keep a close eye on everything going on culturally around Edinburgh, and as the winter weather drags on the cinema seems like the perfect place to escape the cold. So, we’ve compiled this short list of the best films screening around the city in the coming week.

Wednesday 14th March:
The Lives of Others (Dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)

This tense drama is the debut from German film-maker Donnersmarck, and went on to win best Foreign Language Film in 2006’s Academy Awards. Set in 1984 Berlin as tensions either side of the wall rose, The Lives of Others tells a fascinating story of state surveillance, paranoia, and unconventional romance. Centred around a state informant and his moral dilemmas after he is ordered to spy on a playwright and his actress girlfriend. The film is screening as part of the 40 years of Filmhouse programme, which plays a different film from each of the forty years the cinema has been open.

More details here

Sunday 18th March:
Kiki’s Delivery Service (Dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

Since Spirited Away was released in 2001, Studio Ghibli have become a massive name in animation outside of Asia. Hayao Miyazaki directing the strongest projects (Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro…) so it comes as no surprise at the Cameo’s annual Studio Ghibli Forever strand, his works feature prominently. Kiki’s Delivery Service is an early work and one of his more obscure. Following a young girl training to be a witch who starts a courier business. It contains all of his usual charm, and some incredible world design, meaning it’s relativity unknown status is a real shame. Be sure to catch it at the Cameo this Sunday.


From Thursday 15th March
The Square (Ruben Östlund)

Ruben Östlund’s latest satirical drama is seriously ambitious. Attempting to create comedy out of the pretensions of the modern art world and the PR company hired to improve one museum’s image. A topic which could easily have not found its mark. Thankfully though, this isn’t the case and The Square turns out to be an anarchic comedy with very little boundaries. It revels in its dark comedy, one scene involving a live exhibition where Terry Notary (motion capture for the recent planet of the apes films) disrupts a dinner party is going to be discussed for years. It also boasts a fantastic cast with Claes Bang playing sleazy museum curator Christian, and Elisabeth Moss as reporter Anne.  The Square is playing across Edinburgh.

Monday 19th March
Moonrise Kingdom (Dir. Wes Anderson)

Ahead of the release of Wes Anderson’s latest film Isle of Dogs, why not catch a classic from the pastel colour auteur? Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two runaway kids who fall in love and the adults desperate to find them. It’s unbelievably charming, even by Wes Anderson’s standards and boasts a ridiculously good cast. Starring huge names such as Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton & Frances McDormand this is one that you definitely shouldn’t miss. Moonrise Kingdom is showing at The Cameo this Monday, and will definitely sell out soon.

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