Creepy Songs For Creepy People

 

New York, New York – Polly Scattergood

The original of this song is almost the exact opposite; bombastic and large. This is just downright creepy. I used it in my showreel and it fit perfectly, timed blood dropping with the beats.

Polly – Amanda Palmer

Yet another cover. I swear this list won’t all mostly covers. I hope. I listened to this song 10 times in a row whilst I was writing Poppy Blooms; which probably explains a lot about that film.

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Ke$ha

Yeah, another cover, and this time it’s by a pop artist. But trust me; this is hauntingly beautiful and is the entire reason why I think Ke$ha gets a lot more stick than she deserves. But you might already know this because if I have a conversation about music with anybody for more than 5 minutes I will bring up this song. And nine times out of ten I have to follow it with “no, seriously, trust me on this”. No music, just her voice gasping the words in your ear.

Where The Wild Roses Grow – Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue

From Ke$ha to Kylie, not the worlds greatest transition, but meh. There’s also a version of this somewhere done by a band who sing it in German. If you listen to that whilst walking through a graveyard at 4am, it will fuck you up. A really good murder ballad which must have taken incredible balls on the part of both performers, who both risked alienating their current fan bases.

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave

I know, two Nick Cave songs, that’s possibly cheating, but who cares? Kind of an unofficial theme song for the Scream film series, being remade/remixed for every entry, but none are as haunting, beautiful, and as “sound of being followed down a dark alleyway by someone with a knife” like as this.

Creep – Scala & Kolacny Brothers

Best known as “that song from that trailer, no, not I Feel Good, or Walking On Sunshine, the unhappy bleak one”. The original was quite creepy yet this makes it more so. They also did a cover of Muscle Museum which just takes on all kinds of an emotional journey.

Cities In Dust – Siouxsie And The Banshees

Oddly danceable, kind of like dark disco. Made an appearance this year in Atomic Blonde, which if you haven’t seen, you need to remedy that and see it immediately, a wonderfully made film with one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. And it means I won’t have wasted my time making sure I spelt Siouxsie correctly.

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4 (Wrong) Thoughts I Had About Wonder Woman

It Will Look Dull

Why

Most action films lately have a certain colour to them; all various shades of blue and grey, with the occasional flash of orange. Plus it’s only the director’s third film, and their first film of this genre, so there’s a good chance they’re going to stick to the typical conventions of the genre and not take any risks, resulting in something which will just end up looking like every other film out there.

But

This looked amazing. The shots of Themyscira in particular looked like they came straight out of an advert for a travel agent. Even when the film moves to the front line of the war (a place which is usually depicted in lots of different browns) it remains visually interesting. And the action scenes…oh my god. Even Marvel struggle with action scenes. Not including the airport scene, a lot of the fight scenes in Civil War were an incoherent mess. It suffered from the same problem that plagues most film fight scenes lately: directors cutting before every single hit. I HATE when films do this, it never makes it look good as the audience has to refocus their attention constantly so they can’t concentrate properly as they have no idea where to focus. It also makes it very obvious you’re watching a film, you can almost hear the director yelling “okay don’t actually hit each other, we’ll make it look like you are in post”. It’s why I liked Deadpool so much, Ed Skrein was being interviewed about it and he said for the fight scenes the director told him “it’s not your job to miss him, it’s his job to get out of the way”. I don’t know how Patty Jenkins did the fight scenes in this but they are superb. Everything is well choreographed and makes sense, you can see it all clearly (seriously, why is this, such a basic requirement, so hard for people to do nowadays?), and it flows beautifully. The action scenes in this are superb, the sequence in No Mans Land in particular is breathtaking in how it’s shown.

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No, it’s not that.

It Should Be R-Rated

Why

This thought is the one that took the longest to go away, and is actually the last thought that entered my head, entering it whilst I was watching the beach invasion scene (which is superb by the way). As the battle went on I noticed how bloodless a lot of it was. I sat there thinking “hmm, maybe this needs to be harsher, like Logan was”. If you haven’t seen Logan I’ll explain, the action scenes in that were filled with gore, as such you winced when people got hurt, you knew they were in a lot of pain, and it made it feel more real as you could see actions have consequences, you could see the physical damage which even just a single punch could do, the scenes could have been improved if it was allowed to be aimed towards a more adult audience.

But

As soon as I thought about this for a second I realised that was very very wrong. Logan could get away with being R-Rated as (let’s be honest) not much was depending on it. X-Men Origins: Wolverine had already proven the character could survive a film not doing well. Wonder Woman had A LOT riding on it, if it failed (actually, forget failing, it not only had to be a success, it had to be a MASSIVE success), then it wouldn’t just be “super hero films don’t make money anymore”, it wouldn’t be”DC films don’t make money”, it wouldn’t even be “This character doesn’t make money”, it would be “female leads in movies don’t make money”. It would sour people on a Black Widow film, or a Catwoman solo film. So yeah this needed to do well, and for that to happen it needed mass appeal, so an R Rating would have killed it. It also would have meant little girls wouldn’t have been able to see it and be inspired to grow up and kick ass, and I don’t want to live in a world where that couldn’t happen. 

The Romance Will Ruin It

Why

“Oh, so just because it’s a female character they need her focus to be a man? Typical”

But

I dislike tacked-on unnecessary romance as much as the next person, but this wasn’t tacked on, and her character didn’t revolve entirely around him. If anything it was like those action films where Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone etc are fighting an evil Russian/Brit and they can’t manage to defeat them, but then the twirly-moustached villain kills the persons wife, and that motivates them to rise up and defeat them (and possibly adopt a dog along the way). Wonder Woman saves the male lead in this film, he depends on her throughout. As such I kind of liked the romance in this, it helped that it felt genuine and was really well written.

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Won’t Be Able To Take It Seriously

Why

Because most super hero films are about someone finding something, or having something happen to them that causes them to become a hero. Different methods but either way it’s usually grounded in realism. This film is about someone who is essentially a God, how would it be possible to do a mature, gritty film about Gods? You may argue “but they managed it with Thor”, and to that I say “Thor was bad and you should feel bad”

But

The best superhero films aren’t just superhero films, they double as another genre. Winter Soldier is a cold war spy movie, Guardians Of The Galaxy is an ensemble space comedy, and this is a war movie. It’s not just a film about Wonder Woman, it’s a film about human nature, about humanity at it’s darkest. It’s a film about beauty, and a film about dark truths. It’s wonderful and mesmerising, a beautiful mix of glory that leads to this being, without a doubt, one of the best films of the year.

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So in summary; Wonder Woman, it’s fucking fantastic and if anyone thinks Gal Gadot isn’t right for the part then you can no longer trust their opinion on anything. Strong in spirit and body yet naive when it comes to dealing with humanity, Gadot has been one of the most inspired castings in a superhero movie yet.

5 Amazing Comic Book Movies Still To Come In 2017

5. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Okay, not technically based on a comic book, but is the sequel to a film that is. The trailer for this will be released later today, two teasers already been made (one of which is the entire trailer sped up to fit into 10 second, very cool and innovative way of doing it, already led to people slowing it down and discussing it). No idea how they’re going to bring back Colin Firth’s character, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure they wouldn’t bring him back for no reason, not as though they’re short of credible actors in this film; they’ve got Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore etc. Not released until September but already really looking forward to it.

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4. Wonder Woman

Saw the trailer, loved it. Gal Gadot was one of the best things about Batman Vs. Superman, so the fact her character has FINALLY got a full length feature is very exciting. Basically seems like an origin story, which I’m okay with as her origin hasn’t permeated popular culture that much so for new people they would need to know that. Of course, it would have been a better idea if they did this film BEFORE Batman Vs. Superman as at the moment I can’t see their being any tension in it all. Not for her character anyway, you know she’s going to survive so you won’t worry if she’s safe, which means that unless the film kills somebody she’s close to it won’t be able to land emotionally enough to be effective. Really hope this does well, mainly because if it doesn’t, internet assholes (and studio executives) will blame the fact it’s a female character for the failure, and be more reluctant to do female-led movies in the future.

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3. Justice League

Mainly curious about this one. Personally (and I’m happy to be proven wrong), I think the DC Extended Universe scheduling has been a complete mess so far. BvS should not have been the second film in the series, you need to build up tension between the characters first in other films so that it feels like it means something, as it was it just felt like “hey, this is happening” “and? Who cares?”. They’ve done that fight so early on in the series that there’s not that much left for them to do, there’s not many “big events” they have to call back on (especially since they’ve also already done The Death Of Superman). Related to this, Justice League should not be released this year. It’s too big a film to come out so soon after Wonder Woman, they’ve already released the trailers for this before Wonder Woman is out. They’re really rushing this through and it could end up harming the product in the long run. Although I am still kind of excited about it, so what do I know?

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2. Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2

Released very soon, really looking forward to it. Had a kind of average marketing campaign, I’d hoped the marketing campaign of Deadpool would lead to more innovative and unique marketing for “quirky” comic book films, but seems like it’s just standard “trailer tease, trailer, second trailer, release” kind of thing. Trailer looks good though, slight risk that they’re intentionally trying to create memes with it, which hasn’t been too annoying in the trailers but if the rest of the film is like that it could be off-putting. Guardians is in a weird place this time, the first one was so good that expectations are high, which is almost the complete opposite of what the situation was last time, where everybody expected this to be the iceberg that sinks the MCU Titanic. Have to wonder whether this will be the film where they explicitly acknowledge the link between it and the rest of the MCU. Also, I really hope it’s not just going to be a rehash of the first one. I want to be amazed during this, but I trust Marvel, so I think I will be.

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1. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was one of the (many many) highlights of Captain America: Civil War, so much so that it almost made audiences completely forget that this is the third reboot of the franchise in a short period of time. Confession time: He’s one of the characters I’ve never really liked in films, he’s always supposed to be a teenager but is never played as one. At least, not an actual teenager, he’s played like the leading man in a teen drama where “anxiety” and “shy geek” just means “is friends with the most popular girl in school but hasn’t dated her yet” and the only sign of their geekdom is that people with letters on their jacket (I now know it’s their school letters, but I will never stop having a small part of me think it’s their initials so they don’t forget their names) shove them into lockers. This Spider-Man however is a teenager, he geeks out over superheroes, he messes up, he gets overexcited (which then leads to more mistakes). More importantly: he’s fun. He’s a funny, engaging character whom is inherently likeable, and should do well in his full length debut, which is thankfully, not an origin story.

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Note to directors: EVERYBODY knows this scene, it’s NEVER been needed in a film

 

Films That Should’ve Been Made In A Different Medium

Now I’m not saying these films shouldn’t have been made. Just it would be nice if they got made in different mediums.

1. The Boat That Rocked

What It Should Have Been: A TV Series.

The two main complaints people had about this film were that it was too long and had a disjointed plot. Both of these problems would’ve been solved if it was a TV series instead of a film. Would it have got the same cast though? I like to think it would’ve done. It’s a mostly British cast and the British attitude seems to be “you’re never too big for TV”. And plus imagine the end; after weeks and weeks with these characters when the boat is sinking at the end it would bring a tear to your eye. The many plots could have an episode each but the underlying plots would be A) Carl trying to find his father. B) The closing of the station. And probably would be a good idea to lose the slightly rapey scene in it, that was majorly uncomfortable to watch and had no place in it.

2. Zombieland

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What It Should Have Been: A Comic

This film was basically a comic anyway; and it would’ve been nice to see what would’ve become of it if budget wasn’t a factor. Then maybe have a film based on the comic so Jesse Eisenberg can be in a comic book adaptation that doesn’t suck.

3. Unbreakable.

What It Should Have Been: A book.

Some things are more acceptable in books such as films. Many of which are present in this film. It has a great plot and terrific build up but it’s just not suited to cinema. As a book however it would have been fantastic. The trouble is is that it is a really average film if you take away the twist, you have to finish watching it to like it, there’s nothing in it that keeps you watching whilst you are watching it. As such if you get interrupted halfway through it, you’re not likely to come back to it. Alternatively you take this film and condense it into an hour-long TV show, make it the pilot episode of a new series.

4. The Final Destination.

What It Should Have Been: Video Game

The film was, well it was just silly. And not in a good way. I think it would’ve been silly in a good way if the first few films in the series weren’t so serious. After the those this seemed practically childish by comparison. By this point I it would have been smarter to franchise this into other mediums. I mean; picture this film as a video game, not a top-level full price one, but a small downloadable one on xbox live or something: you control death and have to set needlessly complex traps to kill people. The more complex, violent and deadly, the more points. Once you get a certain amount of points you can get upgrades to kill people more efficiently (explosions etc). Actually I want that game now. Or, just have Telltale make it; you play as one of the characters avoiding death. The advantage of that is that it would be REALLY easy to market and gain interest: you release a quick demo online with a random title; you control a teenager investigating the death of his/her friend. Standard Tell-Tale stuff, but at the end of the level; you die via a series of convoluted accidents, and the game reveals it’s a Final Destination one.

 

I also was going to have: Fant4stic should have been; a muffin basket, because anything would have been better than that film. But then I realised if that film was a muffin basket, it would probably poison people.

The Best Single-Location Films

Free-Fire was released to UK cinemas this week, seemingly two-hundred millennia after the preview screenings (ok it was actually like a month, but still). Been excited for it since I first saw the trailer, and more so since I heard that it is like the trailer suggests, and is all in one location. I like when films do that, it’s a sign of good writing and acting if it holds your attention like that. Oddly enough I don’t think I’ve seen one that didn’t work, probably because it’s such a hard thing to pull off that studios will only risk it if they’re absolutely certain it would work, these films have to be better than average as if they’re anything less people will be highly critical. So with that in mind, here’s a list of my favourites. Let’s start some ground rules

  1. Has to mainly (at least 95%) take place in one location.
  2. Location has to be relatively confined (otherwise some smart-ass will be like: “what about this film? It all takes place in one location; earth”)
  3. I have to have seen it (like most of these blogs, this is the biggest hurdle as it counts out Rope and Rear Window, which I was tempted to put in purely on the basis they’re Hitchcock so I’m sure are brilliant)

So, let’s do this.

5. Locke

Yeah, I’m surprised this is the first one I’m mentioning too. I’d have guessed it would be top three, but then I saw what else is on this list, and as much as I do love Locke (and I do) this has to come 5th. I know quite a few people don’t like this, and it’s easy to see why, the “one person cast” kind of films are not for everyone, and that’s okay. Actually I feel that point needs to be made more often; it’s not essential to like a film. It is possible to recognise a film is very well crafted, and still not like it. The whole “if you don’t like x then you’re obviously not smart enough, or you don’t get it, or (and this is the worst) I’m going to explain to you why you’re wrong, using spreadsheets and citations from people” It’s that kind of attitude which puts people off film discussion. The film that made me realise exactly how good Tom Hardy is. This film is unique on this list as the entire film takes place in a car, driving down the motorway. As such you don’t even really get the sense of claustrophobia that these type of films provide. However the fact Hardy’s character is in a moving location does provide a unique feeling to it, despite him being the driver of the car he very much is a passenger of his own film, being driven by fate to a conclusion he’s desperately trying to avoid.

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Tom Hardy with his beard of gloom (not pictured; Welsh accent of sadness)

4. Tape

Merging two film gimmicks in one; not only is it all in one location, it also takes place in real time. Unpopular opinion; is probably my favourite Linklater film. I like what it says about people, and the dynamics that occur in certain friendship groups. Very minimalist cast; the entire film is Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard in a room discussing awkward things, then being joined by Uma Thurman for the home stretch. Was originally written as a play by Stephen Belber, only found that out whilst writing this but it’s fairly obvious that was the case whilst watching it. Is the kind of writing that’s perfect for drama students to use for auditions. Unlike most Linklater films this one is often mentioned as something amazing, which is a shame as it is truly something unique and I’d recommend everybody watch it.

3. Moon

Is this a one location film? Apparently so, I don’t remember it being so but apparently it is, and I do love this film so it earns its place. The debut film by Duncan Jones, who has since moved onto direct Source Code and Warcraft, but to me this will always be his best (at least until Mute comes out this year; a sci-fi mystery film starring Alexander Skarsgard as a mute bartender alongside Paul Rudd and Sam Rockwell? I’m sold). This film is one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen, visually stunning (especially on a relatively low budget). Sam Rockwell is mindblowingly good in this, playing not only the main character, but also his clone. Yeah it’s a weird film, but well worth checking out. And it features the voice of Kevin Spacey, what more do you want from this film?

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It’s also much much better than this, which is a good concept poorly written

2. Breakfast Club

Truth be told, I didn’t even realise this was a single location film until doing research for this. That’s how good this film is. Although let’s face it, part of that might be because has such a large cast compared to the others. Possibly one of the most 80’s films that exists, this defined the genre. Yes, Sixteen Candles was the first of these films, the one that paved the path, but it was Breakfast Club that lit the way so others could follow in their footsteps. Anybody wanting to break into filmmaking should watch this, this is the closest cinema gets to the attitude of punk. One of the main things about punk music was that anybody could do it, you didn’t need to have elaborate sets on stage, you didn’t need the knowledge to play 10 minute guitar solos, you could just pick up instruments and play. This is the film equivalent; there’s absolutely nothing here you can’t do yourself, the locations are all within reach, there’s nothing unachievable here. This would actually be perfect way to showcase skills on a film course; you hand someone the script for this and say “make a scene from this”, and see how they do it.

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1. Buried

This had to be number one really, and not only because of how much I love Ryan Reynolds (that’s only part of it). I hate to say that I didn’t watch this film because I found the concept interesting, or I read the reviews; I watched this film for one reason and one reason only: Ryan Reynolds. Now if you like Ryan Reynolds, you will love this film, as he is the only person in it. The entire film is him trapped in a box. When I first heard about it i thought that that couldn’t possibly work. Surely they have flashback scenes? Or he gets out about half hour into the film and suddenly it turns into an action film? But no, it’s just one guy, in a box for the entire film. And it is a remarkably effective piece of filmmaking. The singular location means the audience feels just as trapped and claustrophobic as the character. If the film had any cutaway scenes it would only serve to break up the tension. So I’ve established it makes you feel trapped, but is it a good film? The answer; yes it’s fucking good, hence why it’s my number one. I recommend that everybody see this film at least once. But only once, any more like that and you do risk suicide.

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It’s this, for an hour and a half. And it’s glorious

Special Mentions (a.k.a; films I’ve heard are good but haven’t watched yet)

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Reservoir Dogs

12 Angry Men

Das Boot

Symbol

My Dinner With Andre

 

Yes, I apologise for never having seen some of those, I’m a terrible person.

 

The Five Best Sitcom Romances

Valentine’s Day is this week, which means we’re only a few days away from the best day of the year; 15th February, otherwise known as “Reduced Chocolate Day”. So with that in mind here’s my five favourite romances from sitcoms (you probably could have guessed that from the title).

5. Titus and Erin – Titus

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Holy hell some of this was hard to watch, not in a “this is awkward”, or “this is terrible” way, but in a “this is so brutal and honest”. It’s a relationship on screen where one of the first defining moments is them cheating on each other, the two of them realised that they are both so screwed up, so full of neurosis and anger, that they are perfect for each other. Based on the relationship of the lead writer/actor Christopher Titus, he’s not ashamed to put everything out there, to say that during relationships you’re going to hate each other at times, but it will all work out in the end.

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Except that’s not the case. I mean, it is in the show, but not in real life. In real life his wife cheated on him, lied to the courts and said that he beat her and their children in an attempt to get custody of their children, then divorced him, leaving him more messed up than he already was. That knowledge makes it REALLY hard to watch this show at times, you know that every time the character (and by extension, the writer) is gushing about how fantastic she is, and how much he loves her, you now how it ends. It’s heartbreaking and emotionally devastating,

4.Darryl and White Josh – Crazy Ex Girlfriend

This  blog originally ended with “finally did something I never thought possible. I went an entire sitcom-based blog without once mentioning Crazy Ex Girlfriend.” then I would put a picture of a quote from it, then “damn”. But whilst looking for a quote I found this:

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How could I forget this? It’s not the main relationship of the show, but it’s definitely the best in terms of how happy it makes the characters. The way this started was a masterclass in how to set up a relationship in sitcom. There was one or two small moments between the two characters, and the moments were very very small, like “could easily be ignored or never referenced again as it was a one-off joke” thing. There was then nothing for a few episodes. In that time the audience started writing fan fiction about the two characters, and making comments on youtube videos saying how cute a couple they’d make. Then eventually Darryl admitted to himself that he was bisexual, and they’ve been together ever since, and because of the way it was built up the fandom rejoiced as it seemed like they had made it happen. They’re supportive of each other, different enough so that they retain their own personalities/provide balance, and it’s not one sided at all, you can see why both of them are into each other. They’re just so adorable together, it’s perfect.

3. Gavin And Stacey – Gavin And Stacey

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A sitcom that admitted from the outset that it was about a romance, which was kind of risky as if the central relationship didn’t work, then the entire sitcom would fail. Luckily the couple worked, and we got to chart the entire course of the relationship through the show. One of the best things about this show is also kind of annoying; it’s only three series. I do wish there was more, but I realise that new series would be a bit pointless, the story has been told. It’s like they had a definite end point and the entire series was building towards that, so adding any extra would feel less essential, unless they had a story they were desperate to tell.

2. Marshall and Lily – How I Met Your Mother

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A very very honest relationship. Despite being one of the most perfect couples in television from the last few years, these two do argue, a lot, and not just silly arguments. They are angry, hate-filled and deeply personal arguments. Yet apart from a few moments, you never feel they’re going to split. You somehow know deep down that no matter what they do, they’ll stay strong and will stay together.

1. Pam and Jim – The Office

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So adorable and perfect for each other. Even a bitter cynic such as myself can’t help but feel slightly warm inside at the way these two interact. The key to this relationship; John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer. The actors behind the characters do so much to make it work. There’s subtle nuances to the things they do, little looks they give each other etc mean that they don’t look like two actors playing a couple, they look like a genuine couple, the two share an innate warmness that radiates from them and is a testament to sitcom romances. There are some people who believe that once they got together their relationship suffered and they became insufferable, these people are wrong. Jim and Pam for life!

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So there’s that done. And happy chocolate day everyone.

 

The 5 Best Kids Films Of 2016

5 Goosebumps

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Are you surprised to see this here? Well to be honest, so am I. I had quite low expectations here, if expectations were a high jump, then this was set 2cms off the ground, and easily cleared it, not in a way to set a new world record, but one that still performs admirably. The great thing about this film is that it exists in a genre of one; it’s a kids horror film, and one that made back double it’s budget, so expect a few poor imitations in the next few years. I do feel guilty about putting this film here though, because it means I can’t put Finding Dory on this list. That’s not a knock against Finding Dory, it’s just an indicator of exactly how strong kids films have been this year, been a phenomenal time for them, and whilst Dory hit me harder emotionally, I think part of its target audience was adults, whereas Goosebumps was focused almost entirely on the kids. So whilst kids will grow up and watch Finding Dory when they’re older, I feel that while they’re younger, Goosebumps will have more appeal, and it’s odd that that could be seen as a bad thing in todays society, for kids films to be aimed at children. We almost expect them to have adult jokes in them now and consider films failures if they don’t, maybe because all film critics are adults so it can be hard for them to judge kids films on their own merits (probably not though, as they are professional).

4. The BFG

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As already mentioned, I LOVED this movie. It was magical, as I said earlier this year:

“some films are funny, some films are heart-breaking, very few films can be described as magical, this is one of them”

It also had one of my favourite performances of the year, and is a film I’ve already considered buying on blu ray, despite being so poor at the moment I’m panicking about money about two days after receiving any. I know this film wasn’t rated that highly by critics, I just don’t get why. Normally when I disagree with critics it’s on comedies, films which I can see are definitely cult films, I don’t normally disagree based on “f*ck you this film was fairy lights and sunshine on celluloid”.

3. Kubo And The Two Strings

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A film so strong and confident I just automatically assumed it was based on something. The fact that a new property can set up a world this full and real says a lot about the talent of both the writers and the directors. Surprisingly it’s the directors first film as a director, and I would not be surprised if he won an Academy Award for it (it’s not likely, but it would be very deserved). This was one of the few films this year I was actively following from the moment I saw the first trailer, it just looked so good, the music choice (While My  Guitar Gently Weeps) was inspired, and visually it was very different from everything else. This HAD to be fantastic for me to like it, anything else would be a bigger disappointment than the first time I tried Hershey’s Chocolate.

2. Zootropolis

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A film that reminded me of an important lesson; you can have too many jokes in a comedy. I know that sounds weird but even in a comedy the characters need to treat the situation seriously, otherwise the audience don’t feel the jeopardy. If the characters don’t fear the situation, then why will the audience? It’s hard to believe but in the closing stretch of Airplane there’s barely any jokes, it’s all plot. This film does that too, there’s not many jokes in the final third, the characters are genuinely scared and determined and focused on plot, so that makes the stakes seem high to the audience, so they’re more emotionally invested. Now if I was doing a “favourite animated films of the year” then this would probably be top, but as I’m judging this by it’s standard as a kids film, this sadly has to be second. It’s definitely a better film than the one I’ve chosen to go in top spot, but not a better kids film for one simple reason; there’s no magic. There’s no moment where you sit watching this film and are overcome by a feeling of wonder and joy, there’s no “ooooooooo” moment. If it did that then it would definitely be top, and in most years it would, but this year it’s just beaten to the top spot by another film.

1. Moana

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A film so good it almost seems like Pixar made it, if it wasn’t for the songs. But oddly enough it’s the songs that push this to the top spot. I hate songs in kids films usually as they’re just distracting, but here it served a real purpose, characters seemed to have their own musical motifs attached to them, and the songs are REALLY good. There’s a crab singing a David Bowie-esque song, The Rock singing a song about how awesome he is, and they’re still not the best songs in this film. If “How Far I’ll Go” doesn’t get nominated for awards I will genuinely be surprised, it’s touching, empowering, and even from a technical standpoint just a superb piece of music. On the downside there’s one or two jokes that take you out of the movie (there’s a twitter joke in here which is quite funny but completely unnatural), but then they’re followed with moments of brilliance (the psychedelic crab scene for instance features animation so colourful and beautiful, the likes of which haven’t been seen in a long time). It also features what is without a doubt the best pee-joke of the year. So there’s that. Oh, it also features adorable/terrifying coconuts, which is always the sign of a great movie (be honest, how much better would every film be if you added anthropomorphic coconuts?)

 

So, that’s that. We’re starting work on our end of film lists as we speak so if there’s any films you think we’re likely to have not seen this year, let us know and we’ll try to watch them before the years out.

World War 1 As Seen By Popular Culture

Today is Friday 11th November, known throughout this country as Armistice Day, a day where we remember those who gave their lives in defence of King and Country. It’s been a British tradition since 1919, and like most British traditions, it originates from a non-Brit, South African Sir James Percy FitzPatrick to be specific, who suggested a two minute silence as he had witnessed occurring daily in Cape Town since April 1918. It’s always weird talking about popular culture in regards to war, it feels almost disrespectful to use war as art, yet it’s also the best way to teach people about it, it’s easier to engage people on a subject if you wrap it in a manner which people can find entertaining, it’s why the Horrible History books sell so well, and it’s why teachers in schools play films in lessons (well, that and they’re hungover). So with that in mind, here’s the best media to consume to get a feel about World War 1. Important note; it’s not chosen by quality of the media, but by how respectful it is towards the subject.

Video Games

Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Nobody is more frustrated than me that despite us being halfway through the centennial of the war, this is the best game about the subject released lately. Some would argue Battlefield 1, but that featured a moment where someone runs across the top of a blimp and in tone seems no different than any other modern shooter, albeit with surprisingly accurate weaponry. This is different from most wartime games as it’s not about battles and weaponry, it’s about people. The game is focused around different people; you have the French POW, the American, the Belgian nurse, the English pilot and the German soldier. The animation style may make you think it’s a lot more childish than it actually is, it’s remarkably heartfelt, even more so when you realise parts of it were heavily influenced by letters written by the great-grandfather of one of the creators during the war.

Music

Green Fields Of France – Dropkick Murphys (Eric Bogle cover)

This was originally going to be Paschendale by Iron Maiden, with lyrics like

Whistles, shouts and more gun fire
Lifeless bodies hang on barbed wire
Battlefield nothing but a bloody tomb
Be reunited with my dead friends soon

it would take something spectacular to unseat it. Green Fields Of France is without a doubt good enough. It’s hauntingly beautiful and respectful, especially this version. It was covered by Joss Stone a short while ago and it cut out so many lines it almost destroyed the anti-war message of it, this version doesn’t do that, this one is full of sorrow and mourning, and is almost made to be played over a montage of battlefields and poppy’s and elderly soldiers mourning their long lost brothers in arm. That’s very surprising considering Dropkick Murphys usual repertoire are songs that should be sung whilst downing pints and celebrating, if they’re usually the party, this song is the funeral that precedes it. Telling the tale of Willie McBride, a soldier who we’re told died in the opening verse, the song pontificates on his sacrifice before culminating in this verse

Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying it was all done in vain

Television

Blackadder Goes Forth

Obviously. Even if the entire series was just the final scene from this episode on a continuous loop it would still count, that scene is just so impactful, so powerful, so utterly perfect in every way that nothing can beat it.

Film

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The film that inspired Chaplin to make The Great Dictator (a.k.a, one of the greatest films ever made). If this article was about the best film, then Lawrence Of Arabia would have won this easily, but as I said earlier, it’s not about the quality, it’s about the reaction and the feeling of it. This was released in 1918, whilst the war was still going on so it was a very brave move, but one that paid off. As Chaplin said

“the thought came to me: why not a comedy about the war? I told several friends of my intention, but they shook their heads. Said [Cecil B.] De Mille: ‘It’s dangerous at this time to make fun of the war.’ Dangerous or not, the idea excited me.”

Chaplin’s shortest feature, at just 46 minutes long, so it never overstays it’s welcome, walking the line between funny and meaningful, showing Chaplin at his very best and playing with techniques he would later perfect.

Poetry

Perhaps – Vera Brittain

I know, I didn’t pick Wilfred Owen, I’m a terrible person. But to me this is more powerful and personal. Inspired by her fiancee, who was killed by a sniper at the age of 20, just four months after she had accepted his marriage proposal.

Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

My Five Favourite (Childrens) Book-To-Film Adaptations

More details were announced yesterday about the Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them film. Well, films now, five of them in particular. I’ll admit I’m nervous that this will be just like The Hobbifilms, where people will be excited for the first one, interested in the next one, and then just completely ignore the film series from then on (I remember being online when the third one was released, and if it wasn’t for me looking at the cineworld website I wouldn’t have even know it came out). Fingers crossed it turns out great, but to commemorate the release details here’s my favourite book-to-film adaptations. I will freely admit these aren’t the “best”, these are definitely my personal choice, choices which are likely to change depending on what day I’m asked.

5. The BFG (2016)

The most recent film on this list, and the one most likely to not be on it if I was writing this on a different day. This definitely isn’t likely to be on someone’s top five list for this topic, truth be told it’s not even mine, it’s only here because of the negative reception it received. It’s currently got a 66 on Metacritic, which is the numerical equivalent of “meh”. I went into this with relatively low expectations, I saw Pete’s Dragon the same week and it did absolutely nothing for me, I appreciated what it did well, but I don’t need to see it again and I won’t recommend it to anyone. Also their was a family in front of me that I could tell were going to be problematic, with a whole bag of popcorn thrown on the floor behind them (i.e. in front of me) before the film even started. Yet within five minutes of this film I had completely forgotten Pete’s Dragon, I had forgotten the popcorn, I had forgotten the general feeling of ennui that accompanies my general existence, I was completely lost in the world that this film created. I completely brought into the universe that was created, if I saw this film whilst I was a child my parents would hate it due to the fact they’d have had to watch it every single day. This film also means that my list of for the “best performace” for the end of year blog now has two child actors in it. Ruby Barnhill is superb in it, she spends a lot of time being the only real thing on screen, so it’s down to her to convince you that the rest is real, and she manages it. So to summarise; some films are funny, some films are heart-breaking, very few films can be described as magical, this is one of them.

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4. Coraline

Because it’s been too long since I’ve seen The Witches and I wanted a film that scares the hell out of everyone, children and adults alike. This adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book also has one of the best uses of 3D in cinema. There’s a scene where somebody stares down a long and narrow corridor, the 3D in this helps enhance the vertigo-like feeling. Most films just go with the “oooo something is poking out at you, woooooo” with 3D, very few use it to enhance the universe as much as they should. The film also has a unique look, a look that is NOT TIM BURTON! People seem to forget that it wasn’t Burton that directed Nightmare Before Christmas, it was Henry Selick, and he is perfect for this film. Heavily influenced by the work of Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesigi.

He gives the film a unique look that is perfect for Neil Gaiman’s work, and it’s a real shame that he got pulled off the film version of The Graveyard Book (been replaced by Ron Howard, which could work, but will be very different)

3. Harry Potter

I’ll admit this isn’t the greatest film series, for one thing it’s missing Rik Mayall as Peeves. But it also did one thing very well; it accentuated the Harry Potter brand remarkably. Before this you could be forgiven for thinking the world had reached peak Potter, that the brand had reached a plateau, but the films pushed it through so it was no longer a well known book franchise, it was a global phenomenon. Without the films the chances of there being a Harry Potter world are a lot lower, as would be a lot of merchandising opportunities. Plus, it also gave us Alan Rickman as Snape.

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And now I have a sad

2. Matilda

I know, another Roald Dahl book, but there is no way I could not put this film in this list. One of my favourite books as a child, and one of my favourite films as an adult. Mara Wilson is of course, superb, whilst Pam Ferris is terrifying as Trunchbull. Back when this was released there wasn’t as many book-to-film adaptations as there is now, so seeing the shots of Trunchbull in newspapers in the lead to the film was genuinely exciting. A book which everybody read as a child was finally coming to life, if it went badly I would have been so disappointed that I probably would have developed a crack cocaine habit, trust issues, and a slightly itchy foot. Luckily it’s very good, the music is superb, Send Me On My Way in particular never fails to raise a smile. Actually that’s true of the whole film, it’s the film equivalent of a sweet heartwarming smile. The most disappointing part about it is that it didn’t lead to Danny DeVito having a glorious directing career, which is a shame as he completely nails it here, getting the tone exactly right, and he casts himself as a terrible person. Very few people would do that, most people when they choose to be villains do it in a “cool” way, make the character dark and brooding and misunderstood, DeVito plays his character as one of the most repulsive characters in cinema, and does it in a way that makes your skin crawl, it’s truly brilliant.

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This film really speaks to me for some reason

1. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Yeah, a third Dahl book. Truth be told I could have made this entire list Dahl adaptations, he’s lucky enough to have had a lot of very good books made of his work, but to me this reigns supreme. Not just one of my favourite children’s books adaptations, not just one of my favourite children’s films, this is one of my favourite films. It’s a shame Mel Stuart didn’t have a larger career after this, as visually this film is superb. Most of the acting is also pretty great (with the exception of one of the parents who is awful, just awful), but let’s be honest one of them stands head and shoulders above all the others.

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Just kidding, it was this guy.

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This film belongs to Wilder, his performance is like a sociopathic clown (something which 2016 is very familiar with), that scene in the tunnel in particular is one of the greatest scenes in cinema history, more so when you realise that Wilder never told the other actors what he was going to do, they all thought he was genuinely losing his mind, it’s brilliant. Now despite me loving this film, I’ve never read the book, I have read the sequel though, and this film sets the characters up so well in your head that it makes the book sequel better as you can clearly envision it in her head. The music is pretty darn good as well, Pure Imagination in particular surely has to go down as one of the greatest original songs created for film, it stands up as being so good it transcends the original source material, one of the only songs I can think that does that would be Rainbow Connection.

 

So that’s our list, where did we go wrong? Which Roald Dahl book should we have taken out? Why didn’t we put The Iron Giant in? If you have any questions comment and let us know, or do that if you have any other things you want to see us do.

The Best Post-Show Role From Each Friends Cast Member

This is being written on 19th August 2016, as such it’s the 47th birthday of Matthew Perry. He’s actually a lot more versatile than his reputation would make you think, as his stint in The Ron Clark Story shows. That’s the trouble with being in a long running successful sitcom, you get so heavily associated with the character that it can be hard for people to not see you as that and it can be hard to break out into something new. It took two successful shows (The New Adventures Of Old Christine and Veep) for Julia Louis Dreyfus to no longer be seen as Elaine Benes.

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Although this guy constantly has fans of the show calling him by his character’s name

It’s quite sad as these actors often have fantastic roles outside of the sitcom. So for this reason, this week I’ll be discussing the best film from each of the six main cast members from Friends. So, let’s go.

Matthew Perry – The Whole Nine Yards

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Just looking at this you can tell what decade it was made

Made in a different era, when Bruce Willis was still bankable. It could be argued that Matthew Perry’s performance in this is basically his character from Friends, but the fact  it still worked over a feature is great news. Some characters work best in short easily digestible chunks, over a movie they tend to lose something or become annoying (this is less prevalent now of course as the majority of TV shows have at least one eye on the binge-watchers). Sadly this film was tainted by the release of a sub-par sequel, as is often the case. But for now, we’ll just watch this and laugh. Although I should point out, I consider this Amanda Peet’s film, she was amazing in it and easily overshadowed her more experienced cast.

Jennifer Aniston – Cake

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No contest, like most things in life, the answer to this is Cake. Even reviews which dislike the film point out how great her performance is. It’s heartbreakingly good, it’s so good you don’t even notice how good it is, because you don’t see it as acting, you see it as watching a real person. There’s no massive “this is the scene for the Oscar so I’m going to dramatically cry, dramatically, whilst acting, dramatically” scene, there’s just a complete performance from beginning to end that means you stop thinking of her as Jennifer Aniston, which for someone as well known as her, takes some doing.

Courteney Cox – Scream

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This was the easiest choice, not because of how bad her other roles are, but because of how good these are. It’s not hyperbole to say that these films completely changed how people perceived horror films in the 90’s, and a big part of that was obviously because of how many people watched them. I don’t think it’s too far fetched that at least a few people watched it because they were fans of Friends (it was still in it’s infancy but had a reasonably sized fanbase by that point). Cox relishes her role in this, the trouble with being in a sitcom is the characters usually have to be somewhat likeable to make the audience want to sit down and watch them every Friday night (there are some exceptions of course, the main one being It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but that’s more cult than a mainstream success), whereas in a film you can play a terrible character, and she does so in this. Her character’s arc throughout the four films is one of redemption, one of acknowledging your role in disasters and attempting to improve yourself but always falling short. It says more about humanity than Friends ever did.

Lisa Kudrow – Bojack Horseman

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The first of two choices here which are basically glorified guest performances. But I had to put it in, her performance in this was heartbreaking. She delivered her lines with pure emotion and helped this show become more than just an animated show, she made it more human. There’s not much else that can be said about this that I didn’t already say in my Bojack blog. The show has actually been killing it with guest stars, it even got Mara “Matilda” Wilson in the third series, and she’s all kinds of awesome.

Matt LeBlanc – Episodes

This was also easy, but unlike the Cox situation, it’s because, truth be told, he hasn’t done that well since the show. He’s picked bad films which didn’t really help him at all, and then there’s Joey.

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Fun fact: it took longer for you to read this than it did for this show to get cancelled

Episodes, however, is fantastic. It’s beautifully meta about the entire industry, as such it’s never going to be a huge mainstream success, but people who watch it tend to love it. It has to be said that a lot of people watched this because of LeBlanc, they wanted to see how he was in it. Ok, they had to wait about 4 episodes to see him in a move which was either brilliant (as it allowed viewers to get to know the other characters) or stupid (as it annoyed people and made them leave). It was a huge gamble for the show to do it but it paid off, the show’s still running strong and has been nominated for Golden Globes, Emmy’s and BAFTA’s. LeBlanc is actually fantastic in it, playing himself with knowledge of what the audience thinks he’s actually like. This show is probably one of my favourite new sitcoms of the last 5 years, and unless it all goes Scrubs Season 9 on us, I can’t see that ending.

David Schwimmer – American Crime Story

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I was going to put his stint in Curb Your Enthusiasm in here, but realised then I’d have two sitcom appearances, and two of them playing themselves. The truth is, Schwimmer has moved more into directing since the show ended, and has done a good job, not quite Afleck levels, but he has an eye for what’s important. As such I was going to have to settle for sitcom guest appearances, but then American Crime Story happened. Holy hell is he good in this, who’d have thought Ross from Friends would put in one of the television performances of the year? As one review said:

“Schwimmer stole every reaction shot, no more so than in the finale.”

His casting was a masterstroke that paid off, not quite in “casting Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad” levels, but certainly high up there. His performance was rewarded with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie, an award so prestigious that Ed Harris, Patrick Stewart and Michael Gambon have all been nominated, and lost! His next step is the crime drama, Feed The Beast, and no doubt his performance in American Crime Story has made it a lot more eagerly anticipated.

So, that’s our choices, where did we go surprisingly right? Where did we go horrifically wrong?