The first time I saw Revenge for Jolly I thought it was terrible. The second time, I decided it was quite good. After watching it a third time: I think this movie is a satire of gun violence. Maybe?

The thing about this film is: It’s not a cool action movie. It’s not a vengeance thriller. It’s maybe not even a black comedy.

You have to go into this movie understanding both these guys are completely crazy. Harry, in particular, is one of the strangest film characters of all time. 

His relationship with the dog was not cute; it was disturbing. I still can’t work out if the dog was his pet or, eh, his girlfriend.

It’s sad more people haven’t seen this film, because it is genuinely strange. The viewer has to read between the lines a whole lot.  

Oh, and I could be wrong here. But Oscar was legitimately smoking pot in that scene, wasn’t he? It wasn’t even that difficult to spot. 

Loving Vincent (2017)

Plot: A year after the death of Vincent Van Gogh, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) sets out to deliver a lost letter to his brother. However he gets drawn into a web of intrigue as conflicting tales of the artists death come to light.

Review: The fruit of seven years of labour, Loving Vincent is the worlds first movie depicted entirely in oil paintings, all created by a legion of artists paying tribute to the iconic Vincent Van Gogh.

It’s an incredible achievement as around one hundred and twenty-five artists sat and painted the scenes, with tributes to some of his most famous works on display along the way. But they didn’t just paint from scratch with the actors doing the voiceover work later; instead they shot the movie in full, before the hand-picked artists turned that into a series of oil paintings which move to tell the story of Vincent’s death. However the film also manages to educate about his life, and the impact of his work on the art world at the time. And it’s all done in a manner that is actually rather accessible.

The plot of the film is actually in keeping with noir detective stories, as Roulin (Booth) happens upon some conflicting information by chance, and decides to push on to see what happened to the great man. This is tinged with guilt too, as he wasn’t especially nice to the man when he was alive; he feels that he owes Van Gogh for that. The emotion comes through the paintings incredibly well, and the change in styles for the flashbacks works. The bright colours can be a little harsh on the eyes, and the style takes some getting used to, but it works very well.

It really is a unique movie, and if you get the chance you should definitely watch. It will reward the ardent fan and the novice alike.

Baby Driver (2017)

What do you get when you rely on a daily diet of pop music, television, and Hollywood? Baby Driver

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a thoroughly entertaining homage to pop culture. Borderline Tarantino-esque without being tiresome, it grabs the audience from bold, brazen opening all the way to its bombastic, bubblegum end. Interestingly enough, what makes this film original is that it’s intentionally formulaic. It draws from pop culture tropes to tell a tale as old as time: a man of few words doing one last, dangerous job, falls in love with a breathless waitress only to imperil her as his unsavory contacts come after them both and threaten his dream of a quiet, painfully normal life. 

It’s a movie you’ve seen a thousand times before, and yet there’s nothing quite like it.  

Baby Driver was non-stop pure fun, powered by a raucous soundtrack and a talented cast. Ansel Elgort is Baby, an amalgam of Ferris Bueller and Ryan Gosling’s character from Drive, and prolific getaway driver to a seriously bad batch of criminal elements that included Jon Hamm and Eliza González’s Bonnie and Clyde duo Buddy and Darling, Jamie Foxx’s perpetually paranoid Bats, and Jon Bernthal’s agro alpha male Griff. Kevin Spacey rounds out this ragtag group with his mild-mannered yet menacing Doc. 

We learn that Baby was roped into this seedy underbelly because he once swiped a car that belonged to Doc. Big mistake, as Doc is some kind of criminal mastermind who, like the Lannisters, is all about those debts. Baby is at the mercy of Doc’s every beck and call, playing getaway driver to all sorts of crazy heists, from bank robberies to post office holdups. Baby doesn’t care much for this life of crime, but he trudges through it so he can get square with Doc and get out for good. But as we savvy consumers of Hollywood films know all too well, there’s no such thing as getting out for good.

Kudos to the stunt choreography in this film, because that opening intro was such a joy to watch. Special mention must be made for Jamie Foxx, who seemed to play the role of Bats with relish. His intensity leapt off the screen, and he made a fantastic antagonist to our young hero. Kevin Spacey, as per usual, brought his signature sneer and style to the film. Overall, Baby Driver boasted a solid cast of characters.

Music is a character of its own in Baby Driver, fueling Baby’s auto antics as he swerves and drifts through the streets in a series of adrenaline-pumping stunts. Elgort looks like he’s having a blast as he channels his best Ferris Bueller, flitting from scene to scene with an easy charisma far from expected from the Fault in our Stars actor. He infused Baby with a swagger that made him endlessly likable…almost too likable. But when you think about the story being deliberately referential, you suspend your disbelief and watch this smooth talking wheelman charm the pants off of Lily James’ blonde ingénue.

…which brings me to the subject of female tropes. On the surface, it’s easy to take umbrage at the clichés of women in the film. You’ve got James’ demure damsel who giggles at everything Baby says and González’s Darling, the fighting fucktoy who spends most of the film scantily clad and wrapped around Jon Hamm. So you’ve got the classic madonna/whore dichotomy, and a leading lady who solely exists to be the fulcrum for Baby’s man pain. But wait! Before you go and fetch your pitchforks, these stock characters of cinema are there for a reason. The whole film relies on your instant recognition of these tropes. Once the audience realizes this, the movie becomes a whole new experience. 

It’s a risky concept, but one that Wright tackles with gusto. He imbues Baby Driver with humor, action, sweetness, and danger; it’s an odd mix of styles to throw into a single movie, to be sure, but as Tarantino’s True Romance demonstrates, it can be done. In keeping with its musical spirit, Baby Driver crescendoes through some predictable moments before saving the totally batshit for last: a grand finale that is so outlandish and over-the-top, it could have been straight out of a comic book.

And that’s the reason why Baby Driver is so good. It commits. It takes a leap of faith that the audience will trust that a movie can be based on Hollywood formulas yet still be told in a refreshing and exciting way. It’s almost too meta, pointing out that while we decry movie tropes and roll our eyes at cinema stereotypes, they can still be enjoyable if you’ve got a good story. 

Oh, and let’s not forget that badass soundtrack, of course.

Kids

Starring Chloë Sevigny, Leo Fitzpatrick, and Rosario Dawson

Directed by Larry Clark

Kids follows a group of teenagers in New York City over the course of one day. Telly (Fitzpatrick) and Casper are typical street kids, constantly drinking and sleeping around. Telly has a particular fixation with deflowering virgins, opening the film with an encounter between him and a twelve-year-old. Jennie (Sevigny), one of Telly’s victims, accompanies her friend Ruby (Dawson) on an STD test. Although Jennie only goes to support her friend, she is shockingly diagnosed with HIV. Jennie seeks out Telly, the only boy she’s ever slept with, knowing that he’s likely to spread the virus. However, Telly is too busy drinking, smoking, and chasing after thirteen-year-old Darcy to even notice Jennie.

The irony of the title Kids is that this film is a disturbing perversion of childhood. One way this is communicated is through the frequent mention of teen pregnancy, the ultimate corruption of youth. The twelve-year-old girl Telly deflowers in the opening scene is afraid of having a child. As the boys head inside, we see toddler outside of Paul’s house carrying a babydoll as though it were real, an allusion to teen motherhood. Darcy also tells Telly she’s not allowed to date because her older sister had a baby at age fifteen. Clark (dir) also puts a perverted twist on icons of youth. Casper huff nitrous oxide from balloons, a quintessential element to any childhood. When the group all goes swimming, the image is a bit less wholesome than that of children spending their summer together by the pool. They go skinny dipping, turning a childlike past time into a medium for sexual debauchery. Casper also grows aroused at the sight of Telly’s mom breastfeeding, a natural start to any childhood. Even the name Casper takes a classic, pure image of childhood and adulterates it. The involvement of prepubescent boys in the gang’s exploits also illustrates the perversion of innocence. At Paul’s house, a young boy joins in on the drug usage. At the party, a group of younger kids smoke a joint they took from an older sibling. Disturbingly, following the older brother’s example means going down a path of deviance, highlighting the cyclical nature of corrupted youth.

I see Telly and Jennie as foils. Telly is selfish, caring little for his family. He begs his mother for money, and after he is denied, he steals from her bedroom. Jennie, on the other hand, cries at thought of no longer being able to help her little brother get ready for school after the disease gets the best of her. Telly has no respect for the women he sleeps with, viewing them only as sexual objects. Not only is this visible in the way Telly describes his experiences to Casper, but also masterfully illustrated when Clark overpowers Telly’s sexual partner’s screams of pain with background music, demonstrating how Telly is ignoring them. Whereas Telly is pressuring young girls into sex, Jennie is sexually oblivious. While she has had sex with one person before, she seems completely out of her element when Ruby and her other friends are describing various experiences. Also, the shot of Telly spitting on a man in the park whom he may have just killed cuts directly to a shot of Jennie sitting peacefully in a cab, highlighting the differences in their temperaments. This stark contrast between the two draws attention to Jennie’s sweetness and innocence, exaggerating how unfair it is that she contracted HIV.

On the way to find Telly, a cab driver tells Jennie that “if you want to be happy, don’t think.” While Jennie dismisses the driver, his statement proves true throughout the film. Telly and his friends are living proof of “ignorance is bliss.” They drink and get high to distance themselves from their harrowing reality. Telly also finds his life’s joy in his sexual escapades, completely unaware of how they’re killing him (and how he’s killing others). He shares in his final soliloquy that sexual intercourse gives his life a sense of purpose. If Telly finds out he’s HIV positive, his world will come crashing down. Jennie, on the other hand, is troubled by how grounded in reality she is. Her diagnosis moves her immediately to tears as she accepts the painful road ahead. As she seeks out Telly and eventually realizes he will offer no consolation, Jennie breaks down once again. Jennie is the most emotionally distraught character because she doesn’t distance herself from or ignore her problems. Casper interestingly seems to crossover on this matter at the end of the film. Initially, his self-awareness is on par with his friends’, indulging in even more drugs than Telly. However in the last line of the film he asks himself after raping Jennie, unknowingly exposing himself to HIV, “Jesus Christ, what happened?” Now conscious of the implications of his actions, Casper is no longer the same carefree kid.

This film was met with a lot of criticism. Some even likened it to child pornography in its depiction of teenage debauchery. While I respect this film and its artistic integrity, I see where these critics are coming from and advise discretion. This is not a film for everybody; some may find its disturbing elements overpower its art and message.

15/20

IT Review

   This week, at least in the eyes of horror and Stephen King fanatics, must seem a tad surreal. Not only is a modern horror “remake” going to pull $70 – $80 million in its opening weekend, but IT will most likely be a box office savior, after the worst summer in a decade. Hell, it could even shatter the highest domestic gross of a horror film, currently held by The Exorcist with $232 million. I am sure many horror fans will agree with me when I say, I never thought this would happen. People are going to see IT that never see horror movies, theaters are selling out, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria! And with good reason: IT is one of those rare horror films that perfectly blends saying something, scaring the daylights out of you, and having a grand ol’ time.

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“Grief is an ever-present shape-shifter. Days, years, and decades may pass, but grief is never too distant, hovering around us, unseen and unheard, arranging itself into forms not immediately defined by sorrow.” — Matthew Eng

Brother’s Keeper: Yance Ford’s Strong Island is an Essential Cinematic Portrait of Grief

(Source: TribecaFilm.com)

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Awkward Anime Episode 8.1: Kimi No Na Wa - The Red Thread of Fate

Director Makoto Shinkai was asked on numerous occasions when promoting his 2016 phenomenon Kimi No Na Wa about the inspiration behind the unusual connection of Mistuha and Taki, answering each time with the inclusion of a phrase that peaked my interest: The Red Thread of Fate.

“In Japan, there is always this talk about the red thread of fate that links two people together and that is where the idea came from.” 

The Red Thread of Fate is an East Asian belief originating from China which says that the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. We see a red thread or cord as a massive symbol of the connection between the two timeline-crossed lovers throughout the entire film, yet there is never a need to explain the meaning behind this.

There was no need in delving into this as the people of Japan are aware of this belief in which the myth says that everyone’s pinky finger is tied to an invisible red thread or string that will lead him/her to another person with whom they will make history. Unlike the Chinese, the belief among the Japanese people is that this red thread is not limited to couples and that the two people will have an important story regardless of the time, place or circumstances.

Makoto Shinkai made sure that this connection was indeed the main plot as he has stated on many occasions about how “The main theme here is these two people have met and then meet again at the end”. Yet the additions of the comedic body-swapping and the “once every 100 year” comet was just as important as the main theme. These three elements make this into truly a remarkable film.

The flawlessly animated skies with the comet seemingly running across the horizon was a perfect way for Shinkai to tell of the connection between Mitsuha and Taki. As the animated feature rolls on, we see skies lit up with stars to emphasise the effect of this natural phenomenon, but we know that it was indeed a method for showing the braided ties which links our two main characters.

According to the Chinese Legend of the red thread of fate, the deity in charge of the red thread is believed to be Yue Xia Laoren(Yue Lao), the old lunar matchmaker God, who is in charge of marriages.

Strings are resembled from the shooting stars, a deliberate method by the Writer turned Director to symbolise the linked teenagers. The main focus from the start of writing in 2014 was the connection between the protagonist and romantic interest and every element that was put forward in this animated feature were cleverly used plot devices, from the body-swapping to the natural disaster.

Makoto Shinkai did confirm that the 2011 Earthquake in Japan was where the idea of using the comet as a blockbuster element originated from. While doing research in early 2014, he discovered that the specific Earthquake to hit Japan in 2011 is said to come approximately every 100 years. The story teller wanted that something to really enhance the plot and keep the audience on the edges of their seats.

“I thought that that a regular natural phenomenon could be the narrative tool I needed to tell the story”

All of these elements produce to me not a romance, but that of a story where one desires a certain life, that feeling of being in a normal town with normal friends and a normal family. Though what is normal? By saying “normal” I do not mean at all a “perfected” lifestyle where everything you dream of is your reality. We humans wander through life working and striving for something. That something, is familiarity. The feeling of yeah, this is my simple life and it’s natural.

Mitsuha throwing her red thread to Taki on the train clearly shows the dedication Director Makoto Shinkai put into researching to create a masterpiece. The circumstances of the main characters challenge the strength of that bond fate created. Time passes, personalities change and grow, but the one and indeed only one constant, is that Red Thread of Fate. The labyrinth of encounters and shared stories the two go through to only always be a thread away from each other.

“This is a story centred around the romance of Taki and Mitsuha, I wanted a symbol that connected the two of them.”


Please share if you enjoyed this analysis and remember to eat those tiny trees!

Check out previous Eps:

Ep 7 - The Boy and the Beast

Ep 6.2 - Fading innocence of Ame

Ep 6.1 - Wolf Children Poster

Ep 5 - My Neighbor Totoro

Ep 4 - Summer Wars

Ep 3 - Spirited Away

Ep 2 - Koe no Katachi

Tickled (2016)

Holy shit. So no, this is not a horror film exactly, it is an odd documentary about the strange world of tickle videos on the internet. But believe me when I say, that this documentary from David Farrier and Dylan Reeve might well be the most riveting thriller you see this year. I came out of the theater feeling like I had just seen compelling evidence that evil really does exist and was genuinely creeped out that this type of thing can and does happen. 

Now if you haven’t heard of this film yet, please don’t think that my horror and disgust is some moralistic diatribe against a harmless fetish. If tickling is your thing, that’s totally cool. But this film is not actually about tickling fetishes. This is a film about manipulation, power, money, and control. I could go into much more detail than that, but I really don’t feel like I should. This is a film that you just have to sit down and let unfold and the less you actually know about it the better. 

Now the one thing I will say here, this is not a triumph of filmmaking. This is really two guys with cameras telling a story. I wasn’t blown away by the skill of the filmmakers and this isn’t reinventing documentaries. There are actually some scenes that are shot so poorly (DIY hidden camera style) that you have to question why they didn’t just do some kind of animated recreation of the conversation and just use the audio. But it honestly doesn’t matter. This film could have been shot exclusively on an iPhone and it wouldn’t have mattered. The story is just so fucking great that nothing but sheer incompetence could ruin it. While the filmmakers may not have the budget or chops to make a super slick film, they more than have the storytelling chops to provide an engrossing narrative the hooks you from the opener and never lets you go. See this film. 

4.75 out of 5 cats. 

IT (2017) WAS GREAT!!

Okay, let me start by saying that I read the book a couple of times and I’m familiar with the miniseries so I am familiar with the verse. I am also a fan of the horror genre in general so for the most part horror films aren’t really “scary” to me. I was also never afraid of clowns which seems to be the major driving force of fear towards this series. Also, everyone’s idea of “scary” is going to be different and I did not find this to be scary. There were some jump scares here and there that got me and my theater so that was fun. I also think that children being murdered and having hallucinations about their worst fear is horrific enough for me so…

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Dunkirk: A Film Review.

Dunkirk. It’s 1940. World War Two.

You’re surrounded by German soldiers, your only hope of escape is to sea. But there aren’t enough boats. Your comrades have been gunned down, killed or captured. Everyone is an enemy. Even the men that are supposed to be on your side, are suspicious. War has warped your mind. You’ve become distrustful, you’re terrified the next moment your eyes open will be the last time you see the sky.

You’re 18. Maybe younger, maybe older. You’ve barely lived and you’ve seen the worst of humanity. If you run, the world will see you as a coward. If you stay you’re brave. You don’t feel like either. You’re battered and bruised, hungry and thirsty. Dirt and blood cover your body. When you return home, if you return home, the operation will be called a “military disaster”.

Who comes to save you?

HOME.

The film isn’t about winning. It isn’t about us vs them. It’s not about patriotic soldiers. No. It showcases, without having to show the bodies, the brutality of war. In comparison to other war epics, like Saving Private Ryan which is very close to the vein in its telling of war, we are not protected from the ghastly horrors of war, Dunkirk may not show the deaths in such graphic sequences, but the impact is just as powerful. Bodies drop. People are blown up. People disappear.

War is brutal. Death does not discriminate. It’s quick. The men standing next to you may be the last you ever see. You may never see the sun again. You may never eat again. Your best friend is shot or worse within seconds. The fast-paced nature of characters dropping and disappearing from the screen shows just how awful war is, without needing to see the bodies.

One minute they’re there and the next they’re not.

They don’t have time to mourn. They don’t have time to stop. As much as their hearts scream, their minds beg to help, they have to keep moving.

English soldiers turn on French soldiers. Survival is brutal. For Harry Styles’ character, Alex, who shows anger, fear, remorse, desperation, gratitude, survival is not fair. It’s not fair to sacrifice the few for the many to live. But that is what happens in the film. Many are lost, many are swept away in fire, water or gunfire. Some commit suicide. Some runaway.

For Fionn Wihtehead’s character, Tommy, survival is not about sacrificing those who help him. He was willing to side with a soldier who wouldn’t speak, revealed later to be French, Gibson, Aneurin Barnard’s character.

Each soldier has a different outlook, for Tom Hardy’s character, his main purpose was to take out enemy planes that attacked the soldiers on the ground, while his comrade, Officer Collins, played by Jack Lowden, has more of an emotional storyline, rescued by a father and son who take their civilian boat out, along with many others to rescue the soldiers at Dunkirk.

And for George, who dies at sea, is a young man, stuck in a place that he shouldn’t be in. Like many of these soldiers, for example Cillian Murphy’s character, war has shaken them to the bone. It is not what has been droned into their minds through propaganda. It’s horrible.

Then, home comes for them. When all other attempts failed, the people rallied and pushed themselves into a dangerous situation.

The Philadelphia Story

Librarian: What is thee wish?
Macaulay Connor: I’m looking for some local b - what’d you say?
Librarian: What is thee wish?
Macaulay Connor: Um, local biography or history.
Librarian: If thee will consult with my colleague in there.
Macaulay Connor: Mm-hm. Dost thou have a washroom?
[the librarian points]
Macaulay Connor: Thank thee.

Pairing together Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart, in a romantic comedy under the direction of George Cukor, The Philadelphia Story was always destined to become a certified classic. Light, witty, and filled with old school screwball zip, The Philadelphia Story tells the story of a rich and greatly pampered woman named Tracy (Katharine Hepburn) and her impending marriage to commoner George (John Howard). Having left the equally rich C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) two years prior, Tracy is going for the exact opposite man when Dexter walks backs into her life with two reporters. One, Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart), is a published author who has to work for a gossip magazine to pay the bills. Alongside him is photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey), who must similarly work for pay to fund her love of painting. What ensues is a series of events before Tracy’s wedding that will open their eyes to the world around them and make them learn about themselves and others.

No matter the lessons the film tries to portray, one undeniable element of this film is just how funny it all is, even in 2017. Often times, comedy ages like milk. Fortunately, this one is a fine wine that only gets better with age. In all honestly, cracking it open now may be a crime because give it a few more years and it could be a perfect score. Grant, Hepburn, and Stewart, are still superstars due to their various leading roles in the Golden Age of Hollywood that have endeared them to the masses. This adoration is not without reason as all three are easy, silky charmers who know their way around a good drama or comedy. The Philadelphia Story, in blending comedy and drama together, allows the trio to show their range in both areas. Playing the dramatic scenes with the requisite power and the comedic scenes with excellent timing, delivery, and natural wit, the trio really make this film. Alongside them, Ruth Hussey and Roland Young’s Uncle Willie stand as real highlights with both taking the lines given to them and making the most out of them comedically. Young especially does this, often stealing scenes with excellent lines that are excellently written, but made all the more funny due to Young’s delivery of them.

Thematically, The Philadelphia Story is quite varied, but most often uses its premise as a way to teach humility and understanding. Tracy is shown as a tough-nosed and proud woman who accepts nothing less than perfection from anybody or anything. In planning her wedding, a comment about whether or not it will rain is met with her little sister Dinah (Virginia Weidler) stating that, “Tracy would not allow that.” She is in control of her environment and expects everybody else to live up to the standards she holds herself to. As a result, she divorced Dexter and cut off her father. However, through encounters with Mike and Liz - who she wrote off as typical sleazy gossip writers, only to find out they are serious artists - Tracy learns to not judge a book by its cover. Everybody has a story behind them that one could never expect. So, if they slip or do something you would not do in their shoes, it is not cause to cut them off. Instead, one must strive to accept them in spite of their faults. Mike must learn this as well in regard to Tracy, who he writes off as a typical rich and spoiled girl. Whereas she learns he is a brilliantly smart and funny guy, he learns that she is a similarly fun and exciting person to be around when she lets loose. Together, they both embody accepting faults and looking past the rugged exterior of those around them.

In conjunction with this, the two must also learn humility. Caught up with themselves being greater than they really are, the two look past people who love them and whom they love as well in order to satisfy their own egos. While she rebukes George for wanting to worship her as a goddess, Tracy undoubtedly views herself as a Queen or a goddess. Dexter does not treat her this way, instead loving her unconditionally in spite of their divorce. Through the course of the film and recognition of her own fallibility, Tracy must discover that she is not some supreme being. Instead, she is a typical woman born into privilege who is no greater than anybody else, no matter their financial status. Only then will she be able to find the true love offered to her by Dexter. Likewise, Mike believes himself to be above everybody else because he is a “serious writer”. Even when Tracy says his work is like poetry, he conceitedly retorts that it is poetic. While his work preaches understanding and not judging people by their cover, he does exactly that as he writes Tracy off without even meeting her. He similarly doubts Dexter and looks past Liz because she is not flashy, even if he knows he loves her deeply. Fortunately for him, Liz is always there waiting for him to get his head out of his ass and see the world the way it really is, instead of through rose-colored glasses. Yes, he is a talented writer, but everybody must make ends meet. While he has dreams of grandeur, he does not need to reach it by marrying somebody just because he believes her to be equal footing in the world as a superior person. Instead, marrying the person he is truly meant for is the right option and is the one staring him in the face. However, in order for Tracy to re-discover Dexter and for Mike to finally open his eyes about Liz, the two must learn humility and it is not an easy journey for either.

A witty and thematically sound comedy classic, The Philadelphia Story’s trio of revered stars and a strong supporting cast make the film a true joy to watch unfold. Whether they all offer up jokes about being hung over, being drunk, or over everyday occurrences, the film has a natural zip about it that only 1940s comedies truly possess. Fast-paced, witty, and always quick with comebacks and jokes, The Philadelphia Story balances out its comedy with great acting across the board and a strong romantic element that is incredibly realistic in how it is portrayed. In love, we can sometimes ignore what is right in front of us in favor of something exciting or short-lived. The Philadelphia Story recognizes this with its commentary on affairs and how men sometimes seek to reclaim their youth with a younger woman. No bearing any mark on the wife, the move is a selfish one and one done out of fear of becoming older, according to the film. This really translates to the nature of the romances with neither Tracy nor Mike’s digression from their proper romantic course being because of their partners. Rather, it is due to both seeking something that in somebody that was already in front of him, but they did not know it: true love. Unconditional and tender to a fault, true love wins in the end if its partakers are able to remain focused upon upholding it against all of the odds. Charming, uproariously funny, and an absolute classic, The Philadelphia Story is an excellent romantic comedy that showcases the talent of its entire cast.

What I loved about The Imitation Game:
  • the a-chronological structure of the plot
  • Joan and Allan’s epic bromance
  • the large amounts of situational comedy largely due to Alan
  • the cinematography, for example the combination of black and white archive footage with diegetic footage
  • how Alan spied a small boy immersed in a puzzle on the train in the very first sequence - great way to highlight character traits
  • that they didn’t bury the audience in technobabble and kept it all pretty basic 
  • how Alan’s backstory was woven into the narration, highlighting certain aspects 
  • also, the Christopher story arc is heart-wrenching 
  • really, I must have gone “awwww” about fifty times
  • how Christopher taking Alan under his wing is contrasted with Alan looked after Joan
  • Keira Knightly’s performance and how she actually managed to impress me and not annoy me despite my inclination to the contrary
  • Benedict’s performance as Alan, respectively Alan’s character in general - I found that the viewer undergoes the same change that Hugh and the others undergo, from laughing at Alan’s peculiar nature to actually caring about him and, if not understanding him, at least accepting him
  • how the film did not shape Alan Turing to be a particularly likable character - in fact they made no secret about how unlikable he could be
  • how after the audience witnessed all that Alan Turing did during the war, the filmmakers emphasized how little his country cared for him afterwards and how insanely daft homophobic laws are and how angry it left me 
  • also, all the actors were amazing, from Benedict and Keira to Mark Strong and Matthew Goode and Charles Dance and …
  • He’s from MI6 - But there are only 5 divisions of Military Intelligence! - Exactly. *chuckles*

And, maybe most of all, how many themes permeated the film from start to finish: 

  • How far should we go for the Greater Good aka ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.’ *hugs-Peter-Hilton*
  • Information is power - as John Cairncross has shown so expertly by blackmailing Alan into keeping quiet
  • Normal does not mean good or better: “It is the people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine.” - Joan Clarke
  • Being different means you have to adapt, act differently, because the world is unfair: “I’m a woman on a man’s job and I don’t have the luxury of being an arse.” - Joan Clarke

I’m sure there’s a lot more that I could name but I’m still emotionally compromised by this cinematic experience…

Queen of the Damned (2002)

Queen of the Damned might find itself an audience in 13-year-old wannabe Goths that think vampires are the coolest thing ever. For everyone else, it’s a mostly incomprehensible mess. The film begins with the vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) awakening from a hundred years of sleep. Falling in love with Heavy Metal Music, he becomes a world-famous musician. Part of their success is due to Lestat declaring himself a vampire to the world, something the other blood suckers are none too keen about. When Lestat’s music awakens Queen Akasha (Aaliyah), the mother of all vampires, her bloody reign of terror begins again. Meanwhile, paranormal researcher Jesse Reeves (Marguerite Moreau) has deciphered Lestat’s lyrics and discovered that he is indeed a real vampire. A love triangle between the two women and Lestat ensues.

Did you ever see that other film based on Anne Rice’s work, Interview with the Vampire? This may have led you to seek out this picture and that path only leads to disappointment. The back of the DVD cover reads “Stuart Townsend portrays Lestat, the undead antihero previously seen in the movie version of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire”. It’s true that Stuart Townsend plays a character with the same name as Tom Cruise did in Interview with the Vampire but the characters couldn’t be more different. To start off, Lestat is shown waking up after a hundred years’ worth of sleep, which is inconsistent with the previous film. Here, Lestat is seen as a rebellious bad boy who loves music and openly defies vampire culture. It couldn’t be more different from the cruel, narcissistic nosferatu we saw in the previous film. Wasn’t he able to read minds in that other story too?


Queen of the Damned is wrought with problematic characters. Jesse Reeves, the paranormal researcher, is essentially a fan of Anne Rice’s book tossed into the story. She just walks into a vampire bar unarmed, without informing anyone of where she is going and with only a name to defend herself. Lucky for her, Lestat just happens to be inside so she doesn’t get eaten. Then what happens? Do we get a discussion between the two about how killing people in order to sustain your immortality is wrong? No. She informs Lestat that she wants to become a vampire too. And, of course, Lestat’s been around for hundreds of years, killing young women and draining them of their blood mercilessly but this one lady comes along and all of a sudden, she’s special. Give me a break.

As for Queen Akasha, she’s a weak villain with vaguely established powers and absolutely no personality. She can fly, resist sunlight, make people burst into flames and has the amazing power of being able to teleport where it would be most dramatically convenient for her to appear.

This movie has got some serious double standards. Queen Akasha is said to be so terrible that she “drained the land dry” while ruling alongside her vampire husband. She’s bad because she has no inhibitions and is using her evil powers to mind control Lestat. But Lestat and the other vampires are not evil because you never see the people they kill, it’s only implied that the groupies Lestat’s manager brings to his room are drained of all life then disposed of in the desert like a mob hit.

Queen of the Damned is often laughably bad. Mostly it just feels like a silly fan-fiction of the vampire mythos. This may be where it finds its fanbase. Think about this, single moms and 13-year-old girls: it’s about a famous, rich music star with tons of money that kills women left and right until the one special girl comes along. When he falls in love with the richer, more powerful female vampire, our plain protagonist is the only one that can help him break the spell and ultimately, save not only her crush but all of humanity. No amount of shirtless Stuart Townsend can save Queen of the Damned. (On DVD, January 31, 2014)