Archive | January, 2013

The Tree Of Life.

26 Jan

The concept of film as art has been argued about for many years now. Is film art? Or is it many techniques being collaborated to create something that falls short of this merit? What is art? Isn’t art defined by the individual, with the meaning or opinion of that individual being what determines its ‘art’ label? In my opinion I believe the latter. Who is to say what is art and what is not? Much like political agenda or religious belief, it is down to the individual to chose what they do or don’t believe in. One person could believe that this is art:

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László Moholy-Nagy. K VII 1922. Oil on canvas

They might believe that as its own meaning is not obvious, it gives you the chance to analyse and participate with the art, to personalise its meaning and bring your own interpretation to its concept. With art in terms of paintings, graffiti, sculpture etc, I would have to disagree with this sentiment, as I much prefer an obvious meaning. I may not agree with that meaning or its connotations but it will still create the same response, a thought process full of interpretation and argument, as well as giving you an insight into the artist themselves. Take this piece for instance by the world renowned graffiti artist Banksy:

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The concept is so simple and its meaning so astronomical, but only from my own perspective. Like the piece before it, the meaning is all relative.

Where this ties in with our feature film, The Tree of Life, is that what Terrence Malick has created some would consider art.

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The film centres around Jack (young Jack played by Hunter McCracken and old played by Sean Penn) and his family in Waco Texas in 1956. We follow Jack as he struggles to deal with his parents conflicting philosophies, particularly his father Mr. O’Brien’s (Brad Pitt) authoraterian approach to love, and the loss of his brother in the Vietnam war. This plot sounds reasonably average but what Malick has brought to the big screen is so far beyond that.

It is made up of continuous edits, each frame/scene lasting no longer than 20 seconds allowing no time to digest what is happening in front of you. The film is also split into around four parts. Part One sees the basic plot foundations laid before us, the loss of one of the sons and Jacks struggle to come to terms with it even well into the future as Penn. Part Two is what can only be described as an episode of Planet Earth, a visual reincarnation of the beginning of time and life (including dinosaurs)…

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If I haven’t just lost you…Part Three is where we get into the nitty-gritty of family life and what it means to be suppressed by Pitts way of rule. Part Four brings more wildlife-documentary footage and a dream-like sequence in Old-Jacks world. Part Three is the only bit I wish I had watched. It is not to say that the others were bad – Part Two was visually stunning and incredibly unique, and when tied in with the films conflicting idea of Nature vs Grace it is very relevant – but ultimately the film is so disjointed and fragile that it is hard to become attached to any part of it. If it hadn’t have been for about four scenes in Part Three where by the relationship between Jack and his brother is delicately and beautifully represented I would write this film off completely.

The Tree of Life demands so much from its audience. Much like many art forms it asks you to test the limits of your own imagination and not to simply look at the piece but to absorb it and decipher its meaning, to interpret and engage with every element. However it begs the question that if we have to search and search for meaning ourselves is there even one to begin with? And if not why don’t artists simply hang a blank canvas and filmmakers simply film darkness?

I believe that film is art, that its ability to divide opinion and allow for interpretation is what makes it so interesting and each piece so unique. What I struggle with is that a film like The Tree of Life promises so much but any meaning becomes completely lost through its ability to lose and frustrate its audience by over-complicating its intentions.

But then that is only my opinion. I implore you to look at this piece and make up your own mind.

Selling Point – Part Three and the astounding performance of Hunter McCracken.

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High Five!

23 Jan

2013 is set to be a big year for films. It might not have the overload of Blockbusters that 2012 had, what with the first Avengers ensemble film being released and the last of The Dark Knight trilogy punching its way into the cinemas, but there are some truly promising treats heading our way. Just to give you a taste, I have compiled a list of my Top 5 upcoming films, all complete with their very own trailer.

*for trailers simply click on the title of the film and it will link you through to the official trailer on IMDB.

Red2 – This slick new comedy is the follow up to the 2010 film Red about the best-of-the-best ex-CIA agents and stars Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mary-Louise Parker. The first installment seems to have completely slipped under my radar, and judging by the trailer I would say that I am not so disappointed by this fact. The second film from the same writers Jon and Erich Hoeber and the director of the sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest, looks far superior in all aspects; styling, humour and plot.

Selling point – Helen Mirren pouring acid onto a body whilst proclaiming in a motherly tone that, ‘It’s important to enjoy life while you still can’.

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Mud – Thankfully McConaughey seems to have escaped the rom-com illness that had plagued him for so long and is now showing the world what he is made of. Mud sees him playing a fugitive who seeks the help of two young boys to escape the bounty hunters who are after him and reunite him with his true love. The trailer manages to promise so much – astounding performances, beautiful cinematography and an intriguing story-line – whilst still remaining secretive in its approach. This will no doubt propel director Jeff Nichols into super-stardom.

Selling point – Child actor Tye Sheridan is set to astound audiences with his performance and although we only catch a glimpse of it here, I am willing to bet he will steal the show.

The Iceman – Michael Shannon is finally being recognized as a credible actor. After years of bit-parts, the highly acclaimed television series Boardwalk Empire seems to have given him a platform in which to excel. Based on a true story The Iceman sees Shannon playing Richard Kuklinski, the notorious contract killer and family man. From 1964 he killed 100 people and when finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters had any clue about his real profession. With a supporting cast that includes Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, an unrecognizable Chris Evans and James Franco this film looks to set to thrill and chill.

Selling Point – The trailer speaks for itself but an added extra is definitely the huge amount of handle-bar moustaches.

Dead Man Down – I really detest Colin Farrell, he just has a face that doesn’t agree with me and so generally I avoid his films. This one I will not avoid. Noomi Rapace plays Beatrice, a woman left scarred by the local crime-lord and so seeks help for retribution from his right-hand man (Farrell). I hope that the tone of the trailer is an accurate portrayal of the film in its entirety, as it certainly packs a punch and as far as revenge and seduction plots go this one seems well structured and easily-related.

Selling point – The cool, calm and collected acting styling’s of Terence Howard who plays said crime-lord. I have adored him since ‘Crash’ (2004) and I will continue to do so after this film I am sure.

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Star Trek Into Darkness – See my original article for more information but I had to bring it up again because, well, just look at the trailer.

Selling Point – Everything.

I hope you have enjoyed these trailers as much as I have and agree that 2013 is set to be one giant film-lovers dream.

New Purchases.

22 Jan

In light of the well established retailers HMV getting into a spot of bother, I felt I should rush down to my local store and spend my money. Or rather the voucher that I got from my Mum for Christmas. But spend it I did.

And for my voucher I got six films. That’s right, none of this downloading rubbish, I purchased six of the finest hard-back DVD’s I could find (and that I didn’t already have) for my own personal enjoyment. Here they are:

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I hope to be up and running with the reviews that I promised a few posts ago by the end of the week, and I will be sure to add some of these to the pile. I am terribly excited to watch all of these.

Day 29.

18 Jan

This is a simple one.

Today, eat wrong. Modern health experts keep issuing contradictory advice. One week, wine is good for you. The next, vitamins are out. Today, eat the opposite of whatever you’re told to. You’ll enjoy yourself more and you may well be proved right in the long-run anyway.

bad or good food

As we have already established, I pretty much eat no vegetables and by reading Day 23 you will clearly see that my taste in food is plain, simple and by no means healthy. I promise that I only eat this way to, as Benrik say, ‘…be proved right in the long-run’. Nah I just love salt, fat and all things bad.

Day 28.

18 Jan

junk mail

Junk mail clogs up your letter box and forces you to spend hours every month disposing of it. But hey, if you send it back, it has the same effect on the companies who dish it out. Just write return to sender and change the name to B. Smith, Resources and Personnel Dept, and they will spend valuable time trying to work out who or what should be on the receiving end of your correspondence.

My house doesn’t get a lot of junk mail (I class Domino’s Pizza vouchers as pure gold) but we do receive post for around three or four ex-residents who have obviously forgotten to send certain companies their new address. Therefore I will do my duty and write ‘Not at this address’ on them and send them packing!

Day 27.

18 Jan

Todays task is to write the opening sentence to your debut novel.

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Since my first year of college I have been writing, incredibly slowly I might add, a book. I got the idea when I had to write an essay for English and I have written various chapters sporadically over the years adding to its length and complexity. Soon I will have to reign it all in and edit, edit, edit. Rather than revealing the first line from my book which is only two words long, I will share with you the first part of Chapter One.

I am terribly nervous about this as I am quite private when it comes to this book so hope this goes down well.

*

The light. It’s so bright. I’ve got to go now. I have to. I will never get another chance. He told me…he told me he was going to kill me. If I don’t go now I’m gonna be dead. I will die. He told me that. I have to run into that light. That bright light. It’s never been that bright before. He told me I will die. Just like the others, he said. I need to run into the light. My friends always joke about that…running into the light. Or am I just delusional? The seconds feel like days here. Is there even a light? Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing? But it’s never been that bright before…Should I go for it? It’s been bright for a long time now. I need to do it now. I need to stand up. And run. Run. Run. Run. Run like he said two others did. Or I will die. Run or die. That’s my choice.

But what’s in the light? Freedom? Death? Him…? Can I risk it? That light. It’s so bright, even through this hood. God it itches. I need to run. Now. I can’t leave it any longer. It needs to be now.

Stand up. Just do it. I can do it. Oh my god my legs are so weak. Will they even hold me? What if I can’t run? Stop it! I can run. I can. He said I will die like the others. The others. How many have there been? No time for that. That’s all I’ve thought about, the others. It’s about me now. I have to get out. Stand up. My legs hurt so much. I’m so weak. No, no I’m not. I’m strong. I can do this, just stand up straight. Can I get my hands free? No. The ropes are so tight. I have to try to get my hands free. Bring them to the front of my body, under my legs. I’ve seen that before. Yes, that will work. Sit down and try. Yes. Yes. It’s working. Yes. My arms haven’t bent this way for god knows how long. Now stand up. Jesus Christ my legs. Now the hood, take it off. Shit! That light. It’s so bright. But it’s right there. I can see it now. Go. Go now. Run into it now.

Where the fuck am I? What the hell is this place? Don’t do this now. Don’t look around. Just run. Just find a door, any door. I have to get out. Shit, my legs. How long is this fucking corridor!? My eyes, this light is so bright. Maybe I should have kept the hood on! Run. Keep running. I have to keep running. Don’t look behind me, just run. A door. A big door. This has got to be it. Turn the handle. Yes it’s turning. Push it. It won’t budge. Come on. Just suck it up and fucking push it. Shit. My arms. My legs. My eyes. My stomach. FUCK. Just push it. Push or die. Push or die. That’s my choice now. Yes. Yes. Yes. Come on. Yes. I’m out. I’m outside. I’m…I’m free. NO! NO! Shit! What was that? Shit!

What happened? I’m on the floor again. Am I in the dark again? Am I free or am I in the dark? Open my eyes. Yes. Light. Yes. Thank god. Bright light! Don’t worry you’ve just fallen. Get up. Damn my legs. What did I fall on? Look around quickly. Steps. Concrete steps. No wait. I’ve got to run again. Run as far away as possible. I did it before, I can do it again.

Shit my legs hurt even more now. Where am I going? Where am I? Shut up. Don’t think just run. The lights so bright, but it’s better than the dark. What do I do now? Look for help. Someone must be around. Someone who can help me. Anyone. I just need someone. Anyone. Keep running. It hurts but I have to keep running. He could be behind me. NO! Don’t look back. Run forward, never look back. Shit! Not again. Stop fucking falling over. Get up and run. It’s not over yet. You know it’s not over. Run.

Where is everyone? What is this place? Am I going round in circles? I have to stop thinking. I have to just run. Run around the corner. FUCK. I’m on the floor again. Who’s that? Who’s that man? Shit! Who is he? Light. No. No. Stay away. Darkness…

*

Feedback on this would be amazing. I, myself, am quite proud of this little extract.

Day 26.

18 Jan

Today help destroy an ugly building.

As it is snowing in my beautiful city I decided that instead of destroying an ugly building, I would destroy an ice-white snowman. To do this I would have to build a snowman, my first. Having lived in a semi-tropical part of Great Britain, Cornwall, for 23 years of my life snow is not something I have come across very often. When it does snow there it becomes ice almost instantaneously. So off I ventured into my garden.

Quickly I realised that my woollen gloves were effectively useless in keeping out the cold but I soldiered on and built myself a tidy mound to call my own. After finding some small stones I made a face for my mound and gave it some wonderful stick arms. The result is below: Scrappy the Snowman.

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However since Scrappy was my first ever snowman I just couldn’t bare the thought of destroying him. Instead me and my partner went for a wonderful winter walk (for about ten minutes when we decided to turn back as it was super cold) where we found an abandoned snowman in the park. It had probably been built by some sprightly child as they stopped to re-cooperate from their recent ride on a sledge. Too bad, because I was ready for carnage.

Here I am holding its detached pearly-white head.

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I’m not as rebellious as I make out though as I very quickly put the head back on the snowman. My partner shortly after that kicked the hell out of it. How we all love snow days.

Day 25.

18 Jan

People in Ticket Line

Today jump a queue.

Tips for jumping a queue as written by Benrik:

Don’t – Jump in front of the elderly. They have high moral standards (not sure about this part as they always push in front of me…) and they will enjoy rebuking a young hooligan in public.

Do – Jump in front of tourists. They don’t know the rules, the won’t speak well enough to protest and in their country it’s often the done thing anyway.

Don’t – Avoid jumping into the middle of the queue. People here have queued a long time already and are stressed about whether they’ll get in.

Do – Jump in at the front of the queue. It has been scientifically proven to be the best place to muscle in. People are relaxed as they can see they’ll get in, and it’s so cheeky they can’t believe you’re queue jumping anyway.

queue jumping

Taking all of this on board (and bravely ignoring the consequences portrayed in the cartoon above) I decided to jump the queue on two occasions yesterday. First I turned up late for my bus to work, saw it coming so flagged it down and jumped on first. No-one protested as I think there is an un-written rule in this country that if you take the effort to flag the big hump of metal down then you have earned your place at the front of the queue. Success. Secondly I decided to grab myself a bacon-roll for breakfast from a well know coffee-house above my workplace. There were a few people in the queue and I needed to get to work asap so naturally (or not in this case, as usually I would politely wait) I grabbed my delightful treat from the stand and jumped to the front asking if I could have it heated up quickly as I need to get to work. I got a couple of frowns but no-one said anything. Success.

Now I have tried and tested this theory for myself I think I will do it more often. Sorry.

Day 24.

16 Jan

Smile inappropriately.

I’d be willing to say that I do this almost every day anyway. I smile if people fall up/down the stairs on the bus, I smile if I am nervous or scared and I smile if someone is asking me something personal.

I also smile about you behind your back. Yeah, you, you right there.

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Day 23.

16 Jan

My final meal on death row would be:

Starter – Tomato Soup with Miniature Garlic Bread

Main Course – Bacon, Potato Waffles and Mushrooms

Dessert – Chocolate Ice Cream with Fudge bits

It’s not anything fancy but good lord it will be tasty.

*note no green food.

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Also regarding death row/the death penalty I highly recommend these two wonderful films: The Green Mile and Into The Abyss.