Humanity and Iconicity in the Captain America Trilogy Mar16

Humanity and Iconicity in the Captain America Tril...

Iconicity is the relationship of similarity between the two sides of a symbol—its form and its meaning. The closer the form and meaning are to one another, the more memorable the symbol is likely to be. An iconic symbol is one whose form resembles its meaning in some way; the opposite of this iconicity is arbitrariness. The red and white stripes, star, and ‘A’ of Captain America’s costume is pretty clear as to what it represents, but the man is less clear. Part of the difficulty of communication and judgement through language is the physical world’s resistance to being reduced to the same rules. The costume can be...

T2 Trainspotting Comes Close To Greatness Feb07

T2 Trainspotting Comes Close To Greatness

Overview: Twenty years after abandoning his friends, Mark (Ewan McGregor) returns home to Edinburgh to make amends. Meanwhile, Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) plot their revenge on him for the money he stole. TriStar Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 117 minutes. Choose Your Future: The question of how to make a great sequel, especially over two decades later, is one that is often asked but rarely answered satisfactorily. With legacy sequels, you have a wide range of uses of nostalgia. There’s Harrison Ford’s, “Chewie, we’re home,” that made people cry simply watching a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and on the other...

“If I fight, you fight”: Rocky Balboa ...

When I was growing up, I knew about Rocky. That’s to say – I knew of Rocky. I’d seen the poster, I knew that Sylvester Stallone was a movie star, I knew that at some point he shouted “Adrian!” Like most that haven’t sat down and watched any of the Rocky series, I felt like I already knew the story – and in a way, I did. It is a fairly straightforward underdog story in a lot of ways, which makes it hard to convince non-believers of its worth. The language that Rocky himself uses is simplistic, but the melodrama of the series’ middle casts a shadow over what is otherwise a nuanced, delicate character study. Before Creed was released,...

Marie Antoinette 10 Years Later

If you ask anyone what they know about Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, most will quote “Let them eat cake”. As a response to the starving poor of the country she reigns over, it’s the clearest expression of either privileged ignorance or a facetious disregard of the lower classes. It’s worth noting then, that her most famous quote wasn’t said by her at all. The phrase originally appeared in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Les Confessions, where he speaks of a “great princess” who made the remark. Whether or not it really happened, the writing date precedes Marie Antoinette’s arrival in France. In fact, she was nine years old in a...

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger’s Best Kills Oct11

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger’s ...

The A Nightmare on Elm Street series has had its highs and lows. The original movie had five sequels, an out of canon revisitation – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is a hard one to define – and a remake. All seven films range from the brilliant to the frustrating to the downright awful. But even the worst films were still successful, and still had interesting ideas and imaginative death scenes – except for the 2010 remake, which isn’t even worth talking about. The breakout star wasn’t Heather Langenkamp, or even Johnny Depp, but Freddy Krueger himself. Robert Englund’s performance was a perfect mix of the scary and the ridiculous,...

New Trailer for Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire Sep09

New Trailer for Ben ...

A quiet domestic drama about gangsters, a horror film about assassins and cults, a comedy about serial killers, a hallucinogenic fever dream set in the English Civil War, and High-Rise. Ben Wheatley’s directorial output is as diverse as they come, and it seems like he’ll be...

Bojack Horseman: The Anti-Sitcom Sep06

Bojack Horseman: The Anti-Sitcom

There’s been a lot of talk over the last several years of television being in a golden age. As with most artistic periods, there isn’t a clear consensus on where it began nor what kicked it all off. While The Sopranos gave us long-form storytelling that managed to be episodic while gradually deepening our understanding of its characters and what they tell us about ourselves and the world we live in, it’s hard to say that all television was purely escapist beforehand when The Twilight Zone was taking audiences to strange new places in 1959 and Star Trek looked forward to a progressive future in ‘66. But one thing that has by its very essence...

Manhunter 30 Years Later

One of the biggest injustices of pop culture is that Michael Mann’s Manhunter has been lost in the shadow of the (admittedly brilliant) Silence of the Lambs, as well as the film’s 2002 remake Red Dragon. While I can understand people choosing Silence as their favourite of the series, for me Manhunter stands tall as the best these adaptations have to offer. It was the late ’80s when the VHS became the dominant videotape format and prices fell to a point where they were affordable. We begin with this home video aesthetic, something that was low quality to see in a movie theatre in 1986, and feels even more dated with...

5 Less Discussed Hitchcock Films That Need to Be Discussed Aug13

5 Less Discussed Hitchcock Films That Need to Be D...

If there’s a shorthand term in film journalism and conversation more useful than “Hitchcockian” I am yet to hear it. While terms like “Lynchian” are often misused, “Hitchcockian” is usually appropriate as a point of comparison because, well, whatever is being described, he probably did do it first. As far as I’m concerned there is no single director more influential to cinema, whose intellectual engagement with how an audience thinks and feels was more beneficial to the medium. Because of this, films like Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds and Vertigo have become essential viewing for the aspiring...

Jason Bourne Is Proficient But Inessential Jul29

Jason Bourne Is Proficient But Inessential

Overview: When Nikki Parsons (Julia Stiles) steals black ops files from the CIA, she brings Jason Bourne out of hiding to help uncover the truth. Along the way Bourne comes up against Head of the CIA’s Cyber Division Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), as well as an assassin (Vincent Cassel) with a personal score to settle. Universal Pictures; 2016; Rated PG-13; 123 minutes. Old Hat: An interrogation takes place while evading government agents in a crowded place; a CIA agent suspects that her target may be innocent; an assassin builds a personal rivalry with the hero; an old white man deceives and manipulates in the name of national...

Evolution Is Elegantly Disturbing Jul19

Evolution Is Elegant...

Overview: The only residents of an isolated coastal town are women and young boys. After Nicholas sees a dead body on the seabed one day, he begins to question his surroundings and the legitimacy of the women looking after them. Alchemy; 2016; Not Rated; 81 minutes. Growing Pains: A rural...

Why The Last of Us Movie Needs to Happen

Video game movies are almost universally poorly-received. The critics don’t like them, they don’t resonate with general audiences, and they frequently have too little confidence in the source material to satisfy the fans. This was a similar place the superhero movie was in at the turn of the century. While films like Warcraft have their defenders, a lot of studios and moviegoers aren’t sold on the concept of a video game movie in the same way they are with superheroes -a genre that only grew to its current status after its success was proven in a number of different ways. Superman and Batman were successfully brought to the screen in...

The State of Comic Book Movie Continuity May12

The State of Comic Book Movie Continuity

There’s been much of talk of “superhero fatigue” recently. As far as I see it, the superhero film is the popular idea of the moment, and while some people are bored of it, most seem to be okay with it. Either way, it’s undeniable that we see more superheroes on the big screen with every passing year. The success of Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe has boosted the confidence studios have in their properties, and we’re getting films based on comic books that didn’t even sell that well in the first place. But as these franchises live on past their sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and shared-universe outings, they are finding themselves in...

Book To Box Office: Ben Wheatley/Amy Jump’s ...

J.G. Ballard’s novel High Rise has struggled to find its way to the big screen since its release in 1975. Producer Jeremy Thomas tried to get an adaptation going for years, with Nicolas Roeg set to direct at one point. David Cronenberg may have been a good choice, seeing as he adapted Ballard’s Crash in 1996 and has shown in his films similar themes and ideas to the author. It may have been too familiar, as Cronenberg’s Shivers also explored an outbreak of violence and hedonism in an apartment building, a film that oddly enough was released the same year as Ballard’s book. Jeremy Thomas saw Ben Wheatley’s 2013 film Sightseers, another film...

Twin Peaks Revival Unveils An Insane Cast List Apr25

Twin Peaks Revival Unveils An Insane Cast List

The full cast list for Twin Peaks’ return in 2017 is here, and it’s ridiculous. Here are all 217 of them: Wow. There are so many interesting names on there, from unexpected returning cast members (Ray Wise! David Duchovony!) to other Lynch favourites (Laura Dern! Rebekah Del Rio!), but it’s the new additions that are really surprising. First off we have confirmations of rumoured stars in Naomi Watts, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Amanda Seyfried, and Robert Knepper. Then – Michael Cera. Michael Cera? This actor keeps turning up in new forms and getting away with it, so I’m very interested to see how this plays out....

“I’ll See You Again In 25 Years”...

At 10:30 AM on 26th March, I entered Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Britain’s oldest cinema in continuous use. At 19:30 PM on 27th March, I left.  I’d just spent 33 hours drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, and watching Twin Peaks. I wouldn’t commit myself to a marathon screening of any other show – in fact, up until this point the longest I’d spent in the cinema was to see Nymphomaniac parts 1 & 2 back-to-back. But Twin Peaks is different. While it may have stiff competition for favourite TV show, I feel confident in saying it has been the most electrifying and influential – from my tastes in art to my own writing. It also...

Daredevil Season 2 Is A Huge Improvement

Overview: Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), blind lawyer-by-day and vigilante-by-night, crosses paths with Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), better known as The Punisher. While Daredevil tries to operate within the boundaries of the law, his opponent puts criminals down for good. His world is further complicated by the arrival of Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), an old flame with dubious morals and a dark secret. 2016; ABC Studios/Marvel Television; TV-MA; 13 Episodes. A Change of Pace: Season one of Daredevil was brutal and occasionally brilliant, setting up the world of Matt Murdock, lawyer-by-day and vigilante-by-night, and a darker side to the...

The Look of Silence’s Adi Rukun Makes His First Public Statement Feb18

The Look of Silence’s Adi Rukun Makes His Fi...

In 2013, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing stunned audiences, exploring the modern relevance of the 1965 Indonesian genocide by talking directly to the perpetrators – men who are still in positions of power. The Look of Silence followed up on the subject by turning to a more local setting – and to Adi Rukun. Before he was born, Rukun’s brother was horrifically murdered during the Communist Purge of 1965. Fifty years later, he confronted the men responsible to find some kind of understanding, and maybe even forgiveness, for their actions. He was not only the centre of the documentary, but its driving force,...

Taxi Driver On Its 40th Anniversary

When we talk about films that have reached “classic” status, it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always a sure thing. Taxi Driver was a product of a particular time in U.S. history, and it was Paul Schrader’s script with Martin Scorsese at the helm that tapped into the cultural climate and brought it to the screen. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an outsider, a loner, disgusted with the world he sees around him. He is also a veteran of the Vietnam War, and has returned from his experiences of combat with a disturbed mind and an incomplete journey. There was a kind of national trauma felt after the unpopular war crawled to its close, an...

New Green Room Teaser Drops Jan14

New Green Room Teaser Drops

Some of us were lucky enough to see Green Room in 2015 (you can read Ryan’s review here), but in a world where this film exists, we’re all lucky. This teaser trailer is perfect – it shows very little, but you know what you’re getting into. Blue Ruin proved that director Jeremy Saulnier is extraordinary at exploring the physical and emotional toll of violence, and that same ruthless detail is one of the many things that elevates Green Room above its simple premise. The other key element, as you can hear from the teaser, is Patrick Stewart. He is one of the most patient, quiet, and terrifying villains of the last few...

New Twin Peaks Teaser Reveals Everything and Nothing Dec18

New Twin Peaks Tease...

We get our first glimpse at the revival of Twin Peaks in the latest footage from Showtime, and it…doesn’t tell us much. For the uninitiated, I’m sure it looks like a pretty empty way to keep the hype machine running as the long-awaited third season of the series gets delayed...

High-Rise Trailer Asks You To Move In Dec14

High-Rise Trailer Asks You To Move In

Now this is how you craft a great trailer. The first look at Ben Wheatley’s upcoming film sets the scene and general tone, while letting in glimpses of the madness that is to come. Having recently had the opportunity to see the film, I can safely say that there are no spoilers in this teaser. High-Rise is based on the 1975 novel by J.G. Ballard, and stars Tom Hiddleston as a new tenant in a luxury high-rise that has been segregated according to class. The ensuing tension between the poor, the middle class and the rich leads to absolute chaos. It has played a few film festivals over the last few months, and the reception has been...

High-Rise Defies All Expectations Dec09

High-Rise Defies All...

Overview: Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves in to the luxury high-rise tower block, an isolated community cut off from the rest of society. Laing finds himself torn between the upper-class world of the building’s architect (Jeremy Irons) and the revolt of documentary filmmaker Richard...

Tangerine Is A Christmas Miracle Dec02

Tangerine Is A Chris...

Overview: After twenty-eight days in prison, prostitute Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) blazes through Los Angeles after her cheating boyfriend Chester (James Ransome). Magnolia Pictures; 2015; Rated R; 88 Minutes. “Merry Christmas Eve, Bitch”: This is the first line spoken in...

A Defence of Rocky V

Rocky V was not, to put it mildly, well-received. I came to this series late, and after hearing so many bad things about this movie in advance, I was expecting the worst. What I found is that I actually really enjoy this installment. It is definitely one of the weaker entries to the series, but for all its flaws it is still a good film. In fact, with the exception of Rocky Balboa, Rocky V is the most faithful and ambitious of the sequels. Everyone loves an underdog story, but it’s difficult to keep a character on that side of things after winning the fight at the end of four consecutive movies. Rocky V makes the sensible decision to return...