Film Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

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Bohemian Rhapsody’s popularity has kept it in cinemas since October.

Actor Rami Malek brings the confident and charismatic Freddie Mercury back to life.

A solitary man moves confidently towards the stage at Wembley Stadium in London, wearing a white tank top and tight dark jeans. The viewer can only see the back of the singer, and once he’s up on the stage it almost feels like you are there with him. It is the 13th of July, 1985, and about 72,000 people have gathered at the Live Aid concert to be a part of Queen’s performance.

Viewers of this film are transported into the most fascinating and defining parts of Mercury’s life,  and get a look at the heart of timeless British rock band Queen. Despite the film having lots of music (well, duh?) and humorous bits, there is a palpable sadness and melancholy all the way through it. The director, Bryan Singer, has managed quite well to demonstrate the low points of Freddy’s life as well as the highs. Mercury often struggled with loneliness, love and identity as he entered the world of fame and it is noticeable.

Malek, the 37-year-old lead, looks very much like the real Freddie Mercury, but it’s his deft imitations of Mercury’s personality traits and characteristic movements that really elevate the performance. The other band members are portrayed impressively as well: Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon.

When I was young, I went to music school for six years and we used to sing Queen songs in the choir. So for me, the movie was strangely personal. I feel like many other viewers will share this feeling.

One of these song was the iconic six minute long anthem that the film was named after, written by Mercury for their album “A Night at the Opera”. As I sang their tunes at an early age, I made an emotional connection to the band – and I must say that the Queen cinema experience was a pleasant nostalgic journey.

Click here to see the trailer.

Film Review: Ralph Breaks The Internet

While not an instant classic, this sequel to Wreck It Ralph defies expectations simply by being “surprisingly not terrible”.

Ralph Breaks The Internet

Ralph Breaks The Internet

It’s a strange thing, being a grown man and going to watch a kid’s movie on your own. Still, I’ve managed to apply a critical eye and not simply lurk around the theatre, looking creepy.

The plot of Ralph Breaks The Internet follows essentially what the title says. Our hero Ralph, a lovable 80s arcade game villain, journeys to the internet with his feisty young accomplice Vanellope to save the latter’s arcade cabinet (which is in need of spare parts). They find what they need on eBay, there’s some shenanigans, they get the thing, there’s yet more shenanigans, and then some minor peril ensues as Ralph’s best intentions go awry. However, everything ends well and leaves you with a nice fuzzy feeling inside. If that’s a spoiler for you, there’s a few Disney classics you’ll need a peek at before you read the rest of this.

The film mostly takes place inside a fictionalised version of the internet, so the humour centres around internet culture, memes and social media. This is an incredibly difficult kind of joke, as it needs to be incredibly up-to-date. More so than any movie that has spent two years in production has any right to be. Yet, they actually manage it. There’s still a few bits of banter that really would’ve been funnier six years ago when the first one came out, but for the most part the in-jokes and references are pretty on the ball. One particularly notable scene from the trailers involving all the various Disney princesses is actually a great laugh.

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Promotional movie poster

I think the way they manage to not entirely miss the punchline with all the internet humour is by not delving too deep into online culture. They do cover a lot of interesting points – the viciousness of comment sections, viral videos, even the highly illegal “Dark Web” – but there’s always more references you can make when you’re talking about the internet. Doing that, however, would just create some horrifying remake of The Emoji Movie. Instead, the writers have shone the light back onto the characters themselves for most of the jokes, and made a lot of self-referential jabs about Disney movies. Looking back is a good theme, I suppose, for what is Walt Disney Studios’ first theatrical sequel since 2011 – the one you’re thinking of when you see that fact and go “Really?” is either a Pixar movie or was straight-to-DVD.

While I seem positive here, I am being very generous with the term “entertaining”. It’s a great movie to watch with gullible, easily distracted children, or to put on for a couple hours while you play with your phone. You can (and should!) tilt your head up every so often to enjoy the odd sequence but the film doesn’t overly grab you. It’s also pretty long: nearly two hours, and this is supposed to be a kids movie. My attention span isn’t even that long, let alone that of the standard pre-pubescent cinema goer. There’s laughs, but it seems like it mostly just appeals to the hard-core Wreck It Ralph fan –  if that’s even a thing.

See movie times for Ralph Breaks The Internet here. 

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

 

Forty years of Filmhouse

Since the first electronic television was created in 1927, people have gradually become used to enjoying the entertainment of motion picture at home. Good for some, but has also forced many cinemas to be in a continuous battle to remain up and running.

In the following 90 years, the introduction of VHS, cable channels, digital TV online streaming devices such as Netflix and Now TV have added pressure to the already crowded industry.

A look at Edinburgh’s cinema history alone is a demonstration of this struggle: a city which has seen over 70 cinemas open their doors, has also seen dozens of them shut up shop, and now hosts just nine public picture houses.

Filmhouse is a success story amongst the tales of failure and closures. On October 9th, the cinema will celebrate its 40-year anniversary, and this at a time when it remains as busy as it ever was.

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Scorsese on stage

Credits to Filmhouse

Four decades ago, on the same day in 1978, the entity called Filmhouse was first launched. Starting from its very first screening, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, the 1972 German film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the cinema has made strong curatorial decisions and has since then has become a household name for film lovers in search of alternative and foreign films.

Housed at 88 Lothian Road, it is the only cinema in Edinburgh which is registered as a charity, which means none of the money spent within the cinema goes to film distributors or big production companies.

Michael Hunter, marketing officer at Filmhouse, explains how this sets the institution aside from others: “All the money spent here, be it at the bar or at the cinema, goes back into the charity as a donation, for programming great films and organising learning opportunities in Edinburgh.”

However, this doesn’t mean Filmhouse has slackened in its creativity or relies solely on its position as a charity. It has instead become a prime example of how cinemas can stand out and attract new audiences in an age where many people don’t see the point of exiting their cosy living rooms just to see a film.

The cinema is best known in the city as the official home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), which takes place for two weeks in June every year. The world’s longest continually-running film festival screens hundreds of films ranging in genres and length and was attended by an audience of over 50,000 people in 2018.

Yet it may be the dedication to proving film can be more than just entertainment and its more specialist festivals (Filmhouse currently hosts 13) which include versatile and eclectic programmes, that make Filmhouse stand out from all other cinemas in Edinburgh.

Unlike the limited selection of films on online streaming platforms and the Hollywood-centric films shown on TV time and time again, Filmhouse digs deep into motion picture archives and screens films which are relevant and relate to current topics.

It houses the Take One Action festival over the course of two weeks in September, showcasing the stories of (small) people making big changes in the world, from female right-wing activists in Greece to victims of the Franco dictatorship seeking justice, to encourage its audience to be the change it wants to see.

For 13 years, the Africa in Motion festival screens films highlighting creative stories from across the African continent which would otherwise not be accessible to most audiences as home and offers a look into worlds very different from our own.

Head of Filmhouse, Rod White, explains how the organisation of such festivals contribute to the continued success of the cinema: “All the festivals we work with exist within their own communities and connect us with audiences we might struggle to attract. We could not be as international and as diverse as we are without them.”

By hosting these festivals, the cinema is also able to challenge viewers to consider the power of film as a media more than any other cinema in the city, or even in the country.

To mark its 40th anniversary, Filmhouse put together a line-up of classics and notable films taken from the programmes of every year since its doors opened, with prices reflecting the prices at the time. Starting in 2016 and finishing up with the film showed at the first public viewing at the cinema in 1978 today with Gertrude, for just £1.

Looking forward to the next 40 years, Michael hopes Filmhouse can continue doing what it has been since 1978: “Filmhouse is great because we offer things you can’t find elsewhere. As long as we can, we want to keep doing what we are doing, and we just want to keep showing films that we believe in.”

 

 

 

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.

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

Avengers premiere could take place in Edinburgh

Scottish Avengers fans may get the chance to assemble at the premiere of Avengers Infinity War as rumors speculate that it may showcase in Edinburgh.

It comes after the backing of eager fan Mae Trumata’s petition to get the film in the capital by star Karen Gillan, who plays Nebula in the latest installment. Since the majority of the scenes were filmed in Edinburgh, fans believe that it is only fair the film premieres here.

Directors, Anthony and Joseph V. Russo seemingly also agree. In a tweet by the Russo brothers, it looks likely that they will be pushing for it to come to Scotland. If successful, this would be the first Marvel film to premier in the country.

As exciting as this prospect is for Scottish fans, the potential benefits it has on Scotland are even more thrilling.

SNP Economic Councillor at Edinburgh City Council, Gavin Barrie, spoke to EN4News about this exciting development and what it means for the country.

“For Scotland and Edinburgh it would be a fantastic event. I can think of no better backdrop for the future of Edinburgh itself. I’m sure many people will travel wide to get a glimpse of the stars on the evening.”

As of the 9th of March, Marvel’s latest film Black Panther has made over $1bn in international cinemas so far and joins the first Avengers film in the top seven biggest film ever for territory. With the amount of hype Infinity War has received it will no doubt earn more. This attraction could possibly increase the level of tourism in the city and benefit the Scottish economy.

“There’s no better advertisement for a city then a film being made here. We generally know that people come here because of Highlander and various other movies. Trainspotting attracts people to come and see what Edinburgh looks like off the screen rather than on the screen.

“If people are visiting to stay somewhere, be it a B&B or a top class hotel, they’re coming and spending money. It’ll keep people in employment in bars, restaurants and all the things any person does when they visit a city. It makes great economic sense and benefits for the city.”

Despite no date or confirmation yet to be announced, Barrie has hopes for announcements in the near future.

“We have no set dates but the sooner the better so that people can save up and spend lots of money when they come. That would be my wish. I’d love to see an announcement quite soon so we could make a big thing of it for the whole city.”


Keep up to date with all the latest news and features from EN4NEWS


Films to catch this week in Edinburgh

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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.

On Screen 07/02/18

In this edition of the EN4 News film podcast On Screen, Patrick Dalziel and Alex Heron discuss The Cloverfield Paradox’s unique release tactics, the impact of Netflix upon mainstream releases and studio interference in modern cinema.

Oscar nominations 2018: snubs and surprises

This year’s Oscar nominations saw many surprises, let’s have a look.

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