29 December 2011

Rise Of The Monkey Planet

Contains spoilers

When I was a baby, I was breast fed. This is a thought that sends a shiver of horror down my spine and is something that my Mum tends to remind me of - at inappropriate times. By inappropriate times I simply mean that she reminds me of it. Unfortunately though, all of us as youngsters at one point liked things that we now know to be fucking weird and horrible. Other than breastfeeding, there was shitting inside of our clothes, eating insects, and watching sentimental shite like Free Willy.

I say like Free Willy because there was a few of them about that followed the basic E.T. formula. A youngster makes an odd friend, be it animal, alien, or robot. They go on a few adventures, pull a prank on the school bully and then run away from the Police, F.B.I., Hunters, etc... Basically, I'm talking about crap like Short Circuit, Andre, Jack Frost and all the turdish sequels that they spawned.

I particularly hate them because of how mawkish and manipulative they are, but I also hate how people nostalgically remember them as being good. They're not good not in the slightest. In my opinion those films could only be considered moderately entertaining if somebody drove a car powered by the oils from 'Willy's brain into a crowd of the people who enjoy them. Or if at the end of Short Circuit the director walks on screen, smashes him up and then slits his own throat with a razor sharp edge from the remains of the shitty, retarded robot. It would be the only apology that I would accept for inflicting that drivel onto the world.

It therefore surprises me to discover that one of my favourite films of 2011 followed this formula too. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a phenomenally good film and like Free Willy is the story of a man and his animal buddy. They meet, bond and grow together until eventually the authorities step in and try to tear them apart.

I love animals which is why Free Willy annoys me. It simply relies on you caring for the whale because he's a whale. George Lucas once said something like; it's easy to get an audience to care. You simply get a kitten and start to strangle it. Well that is those shitty films in a nutshell. Apes, however, doesn't just rely on 'Caesar' being a monkey for us to give a shit. Instead he is played to perfection by the genius that is Andy Serkis. Not only does he believably mimic the body language of a chimp but he also projects more emotions in that one film than someone like Stallone has managed in his entire career. Serkis is effectively playing in a silent movie and yet creates one of the most relatable characters in a long time.

In fact regarding Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a lot of focus has been put on the character of 'Caesar' which is a shame as it also has so much more to offer. One day we'll look back at this date in cinema and marvel at quite how good sci-fi was. Gone are films like The Matrix Sequels or The Chronicles of Riddick that are up their own arse, pretentious and turgid. Instead we've got actual soon-to-be-cult-classics like Monsters, District 9, Moon, Source Code, and now Apes.

Like the new Star Trek, what this manages to do is reinvent itself for a modern audience whilst remaining intelligent and respectful to the original franchise. Personally, I feel I had the exact level of fan-ness for this film. I have a kind of basic knowledge of previous Apes movies, but not enough to really care. I recognised and enjoyed all the references to the original, such as the failed Mars mission, and quotes like, “It's a mad house” but I didn't know it well enough to be fucked if they changed any of the details.

In fact watching it for the first time, there was only one thing that I was curious about and that was if the monkeys would speak. When I originally saw the trailer, I went on a geek marathon of showing it to as many people as possible. I was like a new parent parading around my ugly baby to everybody I knew just to hear them say that it looks alright. Eventually though, I found one person who instantly dismissed the film as though it was going to be shite, “because that's not what happened in the original; in the original it was said that one ape stood up and said 'No' to the humans”. I argued that maybe this was meant to be metaphorical rather than literal, but the stubborn fuck that I was chatting to was having none of it. I was therefore quite smug when this is exactly what happened in the film. Not only does 'Caesar' indulge in the exact incident that my smart arse of a chum was talking about, but it's the highlight of the entire film and the primary idea that the entire fucking story was worked around.

The moment that 'Caesar' says “No” is absolutely perfect and was the first time I'd heard an entire cinema gasp in shock. I've been going the pictures for a long time and that has got to be one of my favourite experiences. I can only imagine it being like hearing that Vader is Luke's dad for the first time, or discovering that 'Rocky' was an actual human all along and not just a retarded boxing gorilla. This is also the part in the film when we lose the Free Willy feel and the film turns into a Monkey Kingdom of Heaven.

I love apocalyptic movies and that's exactly what this becomes. It's basically The Birds but only if the birds had arms, legs, couldn't fly and no beaks. Okay- it's nothing like The Birds but you get the point. We're shitty to nature, so nature turns around and kicks us in the balls. In the first half, 'Caesar' is a fun little scamp who likes to swing around the house and probably pick his arse. After he's learnt to say 'no' he decides to fuck some of our shit up. First he accidentally kills Malfoy, then he sets about smartening up all the other apes and then he starts the fucking banana revolution.

Speaking of smartening up- is it just me or was that orang-utan not pretty brainy to begin with? The one in Brian Cox's monkey prison seemed to be on the same level of 'Caesar' before he'd even had the intelligence gas. I don't want to sound panicked or anything but either the film has exaggerated their intelligence or maybe we should start to keep a closer eye on those sinister fucking ginger chimps. Whenever I've seen one in the zoo they're always just sitting their like a saggy old Scotsman with a sack over their heads. The one in this movie was doing more than that. I mean, this one was telling fucking jokes for God's sake! He was half way to a stand up act when he said that the other “monkeys were stupid”. Not much of a joke I guess, but not bad for a start and certainly much better than anything Patrick Kielty's ever managed.

At the time the news broke, it seemed like Rupert Wyatt was an odd choice to direct this movie. The only thing he was really known for was the Brian Cox prison thriller The Escapist which was brilliant but not exactly Apes like. Then Tim Burton sounded like a great choice and we all saw how his version turned out. Poor old Helena Bonham Carter spent hours in makeup and ended up looking completely normal but with a tail. I do have a bit of a soft spot for that version but there's no denying that it's crap. This new Apes is not only a brilliant film but also perfectly timed. In a year with student riots and all these Occupy protests a popcorn movie about an uprising is exactly what we need. If art is the means for a society to express itself then this is one of the best examples of a blockbuster holding a mirror up to our shitty way of living.

There are still a few films that I haven't seen from 2011 which I'm particularly excited to catch up with. But so far this is tying for the top spot with Black Swan as film of the year for me. This has a Gorilla versus a horse; Black Swan has Natalie Portman fingering herself. Who could choose between them? By the time Free Willy reaches its conclusion the Whale has escaped into the sea and I can't wait to see its shitty, heart tugging face harpooned. By the time Rise of the Planet of the Apes reaches its conclusion the monkeys are free, the human race is screwed and I'm on the verge of tears. 'Caesar' is home and thankfully so is a classic franchise which is finally now given the intelligence it deserves.

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4 December 2011

A Sign Of Ignorance

Once upon a time, we honkies couldn't be bothered to work- we therefore had the ingenious idea of making non-whities do it instead. For us, things were perfect until eventually that bloody Lincoln came along and told us to get off our arses and do it our bloody selves. Since then we've figured out that actually we're all equal, and us crackers have got some apologising to do. We look back on that time and admit that maybe we were a little bit racist. Well, the way that we regret that is the same way our children will one day regret our treatment of Ray Winstone.

I know it's a slightly different situation. I'm not suggesting that we make poor old Ray plough our fields or that we shipped him from the plaines of his native London in order to trade him for money and bags of sugar at the docks. Unlike the slaves, we don't judge his worth on the quality of his teeth. However what we actually do is discriminate against him based simply on his appearance.

No matter who or what he plays, Winstone is described as being a hard man, but this isn't always the case. In fact, Ray generally plays quite sympathetic decidedly un-hard characters. Every film he's in he plays somebody completely different but somehow the world is blind to this. Instead they judge his performance simply on the assumption that most of us would die if he punched us.

I mean no offence to Ray, but he's not a thin man. I think he's one of the greatest actors of our time and in fact, one of my favourites, but I wouldn't believe it if he was playing roles such as a lifeguard, a long term holocaust victim, a school boy or a Chinese woman. He's a man forced to choose characters who fit his build, but just because they could kill with their bare-hands, doesn't mean they will.

I think it doesn't help that I perceive the term 'tough guy' or 'hard man' as being derogatory. To describe his performances in that way, to me, sounds dismissive and conjures up comparisons to someone like Vinnie Jones who- lets face it, is not an actor. He's a shaved gorilla that sometimes manages to say some words in an almost cohesive way. Throughout his career, Winstone has played a variety of different characters displaying a variety of personalities and emotions. Throughout Vinnie Jones career he's played a variety of the same character that very occasionally doesn't sound like a retarded, foreigner learning to speak English for the first time.

One example of Winstone playing a non-hard man would be the character 'Gal' in Sexy Beast. Okay, yes, he's playing a criminal, but he's not exactly tough is he? He spends the entire movie completely petrified of everybody else, walking on egg shells and doing his best to not be a thief. He's individually bullied by both Gandhi and fucking Lovejoy for gods sake! You don't spend the entire film wondering when 'Gal' is going to freak out and hit someone; you empathise and feel sorry for him. By the time Sir Ben screams, “No”, at him a hundred times on the spanish patio, 'Gal' is a broken man. The kindly old man from Schindlers List is pissing on his bathroom floor and kicking the shit out of his kitchen fittings and all Gal can do is push his decision as hard as he dares.

Compare his performance in this to say, the character of 'Ray' in Nil by Mouth and Winstone's range might become apparent. 'Gal' is a likeable bloke who, when not being forced to commit crime, makes jokes, loves his wife and just comes across as the kind of guy you'd like as a mate. 'Ray' however, is a different kettle of cunts. He's not a tough guy, he's a coke snorting, evil fucker who, in a Joe Pesci “funny how” moment kicks the living shit out of his pregnant wife. I've seen Two Girls, One Cup but Nil by Mouth is by far the hardest film I've ever endured watching. Like a cockney Ringu, the fear of 'Ray' smashing his way out of the television and killing me seemed to be becoming more and more possible. It got to a point when I wondered if I'd actually be able to get through the last thirty minutes without needing trauma therapy.

I read in De Niro's biography that his particular talent is in acting angry. Well, in his entire career, his anger is no more than a hissy fit when compared to the pure rage that Winstone channels. 'Ray' likes to say 'fuck' and 'cunt' even when he's happy so when he gets mad, he has no way of vocally venting his frustration. You can physically see the hatred and venom as he shouts and screams in a way that just doesn't look like acting. The genius, however, is that despite the abhorrent things that he does, he thinks that he is the victim. After beating his wife into having a miscarriage, 'Ray' has a breakdown. He smashes up the house and then tells his scummy friend about how his Dad never showed him love. You can see as he talks that he genuinely feels sorry for himself, without acknowledging any responsibility for the horror that he has just inflicted on his wife. This evil prick is quite a distance from Sexy Beasts 'Gal', with both of them being quite different to 'Captain Stanley' in The Proposition.

'Captain Stanley' is a noble man in a desperate situation. Set in the 1880's he is determined to civilise the Hell-hole of Australia, regardless of what it might cost him personally. Unfortunately though, his slightly unorthodox methods of brother-love top-trumps cause the whole town and his wife to turn against him. Quickly, he finds himself shouldering the burden of trying to tame that country against the wishes of those that live there. Considering Australia is now most famous for Crocodile Dundee, psychotically dangerous animals and the goddess-of-gay Kylie Minogue, maybe the fucking stupid locals should have tried it his way.

In a way, 'Captain Stanley' shares the burden of stubbornness in the same way that 'Gal' does. However both men are completely different particularly in their treatment of their wives. In 'Gal's case, his wife is his confidant and the one looking after him. When Sir Ben is causing shit, it's her that supports him and in the end it's her that stands up to Gandhi to save 'Gal's' life. 'Captain Stanley' however, is doing his best to keep his wife the fuck out of his business and where 'Gal' is only truly himself when alone with his partner, poor old 'Captain Stanley' has to remain partly on duty at all times.

I mentioned these three performances as they just happen to be three of my all time favourite films. On top of these, Winstone has also impressed with his range as a young six foot viking warrior, a Borstal inmate, a cancer ridden special-agent and Mr Beaver (from Narnia, not the porno). I suppose the point of this is to just highlight how unappreciated one of our greatest actors really is. I'd like people to pay more attention to the nuances of the performance and less to the fact that he's a stocky, middle-aged Landaner. In a way, I just wish that the world was a little less Ray-cist*

*Awful... What a terrible pun. I actually made myself a little angry with it... cunt.

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27 November 2011

Fucking Cult

When you get obsessed with a famous person, the traditional thing to do is to follow them around for a bit, tell them you love them and then shoot them in the face. When you get obsessed with a movie, you dress up as the characters, tattoo their faces onto your body and then if you're truly dedicated, stalk and then kill the cast. It's just the done thing. However, if you're not from America, the mental capital of the West, then you'll probably just spend a shit load of money on merchandise and watch the films a lot.

Of course people can get obsessed over any film but for the most part, it seems that cult films are the ones that obtain the more dedicated following. If Crazy Bob's favourite film is The Rocky Horror Picture Show then chances are he's probably wearing a pair of knickers and thinking of putting some vagina-pink lipstick on. If he likes Star Wars then I'd suspect he dreams of changing his name to Obi Wan Kenob-head and spends his days wondering why his home-made lightsaber doesn't work and if he'll be lucky enough to get off with his sister. My favourite film is Trainspotting and so to show my appreciation, my hobbies include shagging underage girls, heroin addiction, child neglect and of course, sifting through my own shit to get that one last high.

I'm sure there are plenty of definitions of what a cult movie is, but I guess to me it would simply be a film loved by a small few and mostly forgotten or ignored by the dopey masses. Withnail and I is a cult movie as it's relatively unheard of and a favourite of those who've seen it. The same goes for others such as Rushmore, Brick, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and more or less anything by Lynch or Cronenberg.

Recently I believe there should be a new film to put in that cult film category and that is Scott Pilgrim Versus the World. On the surface, this seems like something that should have reached the mainstream. From the director of Shaun of the Dead and the star of Superbad, it is an action-comedy with great music and great jokes. Unfortunately though, when it was released into cinemas, it only made about £12.80 back. For some reason nobody went to see it, or at least not enough did.

In all honesty, I don't know why that was the case. The reviews were great, the trailers were exciting and who doesn't love Michael Cera? Therefore, I can only assume the lack of audience was due to human error. The kind of human error that allowed the planet to be populated by a bunch of tasteless retards who'd rather pay huge sums of money to see crap like Transformers 3 than anything else with even an ounce of originality and quality.

As a slight side note, I slag off Transformers 3 quite a lot. It's sort of become my shorthand for a shit film that makes a lot of money and because I was getting a little bored of referencing it, I thought I'd find myself a new example and so googled, “worlds highest grossing movies”. I checked out the list and to my horror discovered that Transformer 3 is in fact the forth most profitable film of all time. What the fuck! How is that piece of shit so high? I knew it had made a lot of money but I didn't realise our species was in that bad a state. So far it has made well over $1,000,000,000 which is so depressing that I just want to go and stick my head in the oven. It is literally one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and for so many reasons.

Seeing that figure really puts Scott Pilgrim's financial failure into perspective- if Scott Pilgrim was a singer, it would be the equivalent of watching David Bowie busking on the streets as people walk past and flick the occasional penny of pity at him. If Transformers 3 was a singer, it would be the equivalent of watching an arrogant and ugly tramp fart and shit his way through a recurring chorus of Barbie Girl to a sell out crowd at Wembley Stadium. Meanwhile, a series of trucks dump money onto the stage so he can pay for all the prostitutes and rentboys in the world to suck his warty, diseased cock. Our species is fucked, and this is the proof.

I was talking to a friend shortly after the release of Scott Pilgrim and he asked me if I'd seen it. I said I had and that I loved it. He then described it as, “one of the weirdest films of all time”. It hadn't even occurred to me that this film could be considered weird to a none-film fan. It's just a musical but with the songs replaced with fighting- what's odd about that? Beyond the funk-fu, it's a fairly straightforward story. I asked him why he thought it was so weird and he replied, “I dunno it was just weird”. With that as the greatest example of elaboration, I recommended that he watch Inland Empire, Videodrome and Ichi the Killer to see what an odd film actually was. I then promptly stopped talking to him and deleted him from my life. What a tit!

Scott Pilgrim Versus the World is a great example of a couple of things; for a start it's a romantic comedy that not only doesn't conform to any cliché, but is so original that you'd assume it was made in an alternate dimension where The Notebook didn't exist... what a wonderful world that would be. There's a line in Scott Pilgrim where Scott's new girlfriend states vulnerably that she's, “never kissed a boy before”. Scott looks at her for a second to which we assume he's going to kiss her. We think this because we've been conditioned by other (shitter) films to expect it; we've seen it all before. However that's not what he does. She say's that she's, “never kissed a boy before”, to which Scott simply replies, “me neither” and then walks off.

It's also the best videogame adaptation that I think I've ever seen. For some reason, any video game that gets turned into a film, gets turned into a shit film. Hitman, Tomb Raider and Resident Evil are all undeniable turds. However- Edgar Wright has managed to avoid this curse by sneakily adapting his videogame movie from a videogame that doesn't actually exist.

In fact, this videogame feel is possibly what turned off so much of what should have been its audience. I know I angrily compared the profits of Scott Pilgrim to that of Transformer 3, but in a way I'm glad it did shit. The best cult movies are those that feel like they were made just for you, and that's exactly how I feel about this film. I don't want other people thinking that too because it was made for me. I play too many videogames and despite a recent bumpy ride, my heart firmly belongs to Nintendo.

When I was nine years old I got my first console; the Nintendo 64. It became my childhood. When I watch Scott Pilgrim, I understand all the videogame references and languages because I've lived them. I recognise things like 'getting a life', 'K.O.' and '1UP'. I know that the band 'Sex Bob-Omb' is a Super Mario reference and to hear the Universal Studios logo theme music performed in glorious 8bit is a nostalgia trip more powerful than shoving me headfirst back into the womb.

...And that's not even mentioning Zelda. The way Mark Chapman felt about John Lennon is how I feel about that franchise. Zelda is my favourite game franchise of all time and when I say I love it more than most of my family, that's not just because I don't particularly like most of my family, which I don't. Scott Pilgrim is full of references to these games from the opening music, the soundtrack whilst he pisses, Gideon's logo looking like the Triforce and of course, the dark Scott Pilgrim at the end. It's hard for me not to like something that clearly loves and respects the very same things that I do. I spent more time in Hyrule growing up than I did in school and the only thing that I regret is allowing school to stand in the way of me spending even more time there.

It's funny as well, that on the surface, this shouldn't be a cult movie. Like I mentioned, it's two selling points are that it is from the director of Shaun of the Dead and the star of Superbad. However, look a little deeper and you'll see that those two men both have their roots in cult TV. Michael Cera starred in the little seen and prematurely cancelled Arrested Development and Edgar Wright directed the underground hit Spaced. It's obvious now as well, how this is the film to finally allow Wright to display the style that he showed in his TV show all those years ago. Many people would assume that Shaun is closest to Spaced because of it's cast and humour, however, here Wright was relatively restrained. It's only now, with Scott Pilgrim, that we see Spaced on crack- both feature plenty of split-screen, whip-pans, pop culture references and revolve around a jobless man in his early twenties with girl troubles. Scott Pilgrim is basically what happens when you give potentially one of our generations greatest directors the money to do what he wants.

I'm not saying that Scott Pilgrim Versus the World is the greatest film of all time, but it is one of my favourites, and if you play enough videogames it'll easily become one of yours too. Keep it to yourself though please, I don't want this film to get too popular. It likes what I like; it's funny, sweet, action packed and I love the characters. All that and I haven't even mentioned Ramona Flowers. All Scott has to do is fight seven people to be with her. Have you seen her? She's amazing! I'd slaughter several children and burn down a school just to kiss her on the lips... and I'd even let her choose which lips...

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21 November 2011

Solaris: A Film That Snobs Think We Should Like

2001: A Space Odyssey is overly long, pretentious, up its own arse, and just plain boring. Look- I've said it, it's out there and I refuse to take it back. It's nothing against Kubrick particularly as I love all of his other films from Dr. Strangelove to A Clockwork Orange, it's just 2001 bores the hell out of me. I want to like it (I really do!), but I've just never clicked with it. I know I'm wrong and it's a masterpiece, but I just can't get into it. However, I do think I have just discovered a new-found appreciation for it as the other day I sat through the original Solaris.

I say 'sat through' because I certainly didn't enjoy it. It was more of an endurance test than anything else. Everything about 2001: A Space Odyssey that I didn't like was here- and worse. At least 2001 has a good soundtrack and I can see effects and shots in it that I admire. Every second of Solaris made me long to be watching 2001 and I can't wait to re-watch it now, so that perhaps finally I can see what all the fuss is about.

As for Solaris; well, fuck me, it was long and dull. If I thought 2001 was up its own arse well then this one is so much further up that you can't tell what's arse and what's not. I don't mind long films but it would be nice if, in a three hour running time, something fucking happened. It's sort of like an anti-transformers movie. Transformers is crap (or at least the sequels are), the reason they're crap is that there is nothing 'to' them except explosions and loud noises. Michael Bay has spent so long trying to hold your attention by blowing shit up that he forgot to include any subtext, meaning or story. What Solaris seems to have done is cram in so much meaning, self-importance and subtext that it forgot that it also needs to be able to hold your attention with a story... or not even a story, just something happening would be nice.

The story, for what it is, is about a man who goes to a space base and meets his wife who's been dead for almost a decade... and that's about it. For the remaining time we just watch him mope about in his undercrackers trying to figure out what's going on, wondering what it is that makes us human and thinking about maybe staying on the base forever... literally nothing else happens. It's just a man with his balls out having a good hard think about things.

Inland Empire is one of my favourite of David Lynch's films. It's about the same length as Solaris and makes even less sense, however with that film I find the events enjoyably baffling, engrossing and nightmarish. Inland Empire is complete waffle but it still has subtext, interesting characters and unlike Solaris, things happen. I don't entirely know what is happening but the fact that something is happening means my attention is being held.

There is a sequence in Solaris in which we see a man driving down a road and appear shots of lots of traffic - I'm not sure how long this lasted for but it felt like fucking hours. I read afterwards that one of the reasons that this is the length that it is, is because the director had to travel from Russia to Japan to obtain the shots. As this kind of thing was quite difficult to do back in the early 70's, they made the sequence last to justify the effort that had gone into acquiring it. I appreciate the dedication involved but surely I'm not the only one who thinks a man driving his car is boring to watch. And when I say 'boring', I of course mean the 'so-mind-numbing-that-you'd-consider-finding-some-actual-traffic-just-to-throw-yourself-in-front-of' kind of boring. Couldn't he have just shortened the sequence and justified it on the grounds that getting those shots was simply necessary. To me that is just the same as Michael Bay lingering on a car chase because he's been given the money to do it; surely it's best to get the shots that are needed for a film as opposed to altering a film to accommodate the shots.

Don't get me wrong however, I would rather watch Solaris on a continual loop with my eyes pegged open like eggy-weggy Alex than sit through Transformers 3 again. There was plenty to admire about it from its use of colour, set design and even its themes and ideas, I just wish it had been a little more watchable. To me, it was a thirty minute story stretched out to three hours- it was like an overly long, pretentious episode of the Twilight Zone written by the worst dullard at the peak of his raging alcoholism.

I can see, as well, how it has influenced so many films that have come afterwards. In fact some of my favourite films such as Sunshine, Moon and The Fountain can all clearly be seen to have taken ideas from it. Moon deals with two characters secluded on a moon base; one of which can't be real. Sunshine too deals with the nature of our humanity, with Danny Boyle repeatedly claiming to have been influenced by Solaris. The Fountain, beyond anything else, seems to have borrowed the visuals- particularly those of a more surreal but organic nature. It also proposes space as a more spiritual place and even has its lead character haunted by the memory of his selfishly dead wife.

However just because something can inspire things I like doesn't mean I like it. The difference between those three films and Solaris is that they are ninety minutes long with more happening in ten minutes than the entire running time of their Russian inspiration. In just ten minutes of Sunshine, we go from the discovery of an old space craft, the decision to locate it, the attempt to locate it, a fault in their own ship and the death of a crew member. In ten minutes of Solaris we go from a man standing in the rain staring out ponderously to a man deciding to stop standing in the rain, staring out ponderously.

In fact the only exciting bit of Solaris was the three seconds in which a semi-naked dwarf appears and is promptly thrown back through a door. I've no idea what the fuck that was about, and at no point does anybody mention it. It's one-hundred-and-eighty minutes of being lectured about 'what we are' with a quick cameo from a midget with his arse out. It's like the director Tarkovskiy just threw that bit in to see if everybody was still awake.

Having said all that, part of me would still like to see it again. Like 2001, I know it must be me that's wrong; it's supposed to be a classic and I could see things I would have liked to like, it just annoys me when a film seems completely up itself. If there's one good thing I can say about this, its that it does make me want to re-watch Kubrik's supposed sci-fi classic. Then if I can acquire the taste for that, maybe I'll come back to this one too. They're both quite long so next time I have a spare week I'll give them a chance. They're like an abusive partner in that I want to like them but they're making it difficult... and they always think they know better.

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14 November 2011

It's The End Of The World!

There are lots of different types of films out there; fantasy, war, western, porn, but for some reason there is one more than any other that I enjoy the most. When sitting back to relax for a couple of hours with a movie, there is nothing I like better than watching the end of the world. I don't know what it is about seeing our species fuck everything up but I really get a kick out of it. This apocalyptic sub-genre crossbreed between sci-fi and horror fascinates me.

I don't like people, really. I like the people I know, but those I don't have simply been put on this Earth to wind me up. An example of this would be the lollipop lady at the end of my road. She crossed me over once and I said thank you. So shocked by my politeness she took it upon herself to chat to me everyday afterwards, during which she'd ask me odd questions like, “Have you ever been to Constantinople?” This went on for a few months until it came to Christmas when she had apparently bought me a card. Some people might find that a bit odd but that wasn't what bothered me. What bothered me was that it wasn't in an envelope and she pulled it straight out of her knickers. She said, "I've got you a card", put her hands down her pants, had a quick root around and then pulled it out. After receiving my festive card of fanny juice, I started to go the long way 'round to get past her. I also started having nightmares about her, watching me through my window- just staring at me with her cold dead eyes and in her bright yellow jacket. All of that trauma just because I said, “Thank you” to a stranger.

So sitting down to watch a film in which most people are dead seems like good fun to me. Films like Children of Men, The Road, 28 Days Later and Mad Max all depict a realistic living hell and it makes for great cinema. Turn the sound off whilst watching any of those films and they'll still be amazing simply due to the scenery and visuals. Shots of long deserted highways or an empty London highstreet are simply jaw dropping to me.

However, keep the sound on and you'll be exposed to the high levels of intelligence that these films contain. With Children of Men we are thrown into a story which touches upon immigration, apathy, government conspiracies and other small questions such as the meaning of life and the purpose of our existence. Compare that to something like American Pie in which the main question is 'who's jizzed up who' and you'll appreciate it even more.

The other thing I admire with these films is just how in-your-fucking-face they are. If movies were dogs then for the most part, the studios are the vets. They cut the balls off and remove the bite. The studios worry about films that might cause a little controversy and so remove any sign of trouble before some skin wasting, fucktard can get offended. The Road starts with Viggo Mortensen teaching his young son how to kill himself properly and he's a good parent for doing that. Any film that has the bollocks to contain a scene in which a lesson in suicide preparation is evidence of parental love and responsibility is going to go down well with me.

And in all honesty, lets face it, the future doesn't look bright for us. We aren't heading for some hippy-like, fuck-a-tree planet. We're heading towards a world run by corporations in which decisions are made not because of what's best for our humanity but what's best for those shit floaters at the top. It's therefore nice to watch these end of the world movies and wonder, “What would I do if I was born then?” It's basically a fun little game of seeing the horror that your grandchildren will be put through if you're stupid and selfish enough to shoot a baby out of your genitals into the world.

Despite being set in the grimmest of conditions, these movies are, at the end of the day, all about wish fulfilment. Everybody wishes that they could be invisible or see through walls to allow for maximum pervage. Well, in the same way that we dream about having superpowers we also dream about surviving the apocalypse. Lets face it, I have no idea what I'd do if there was a rapist in my house- if Zombies were to attack though I would simply initiate step one of my fifteen part survival plan. It involves hiding in the attic, shitting down the hatch and if necessary: a daring roof-top escape to the Spar.

It's always occurred to me as well, that these days we really do seem to rely quite a lot on technology. I'm not snobby about it and I think the more things that can be invented to make my life easier the better. If they could make some sort of handsfree blow-job machine that wasn't quite as strong as a hoover I would certainly consider buying it- which is why perhaps the apocalypse seems to involve too much or too little technology. Films like The Road show us what life would be like without the iPhone; films like The Terminator and The Matrix show us what will happen if our inventions decide 'enough is enough' and turn against us. It turns out that because we've made them so well, if they do attack, we're more or less fucked.

To me, these 'survival movies' are more uplifting then any “feel-good” film out there, such as The Full Monty. The grimmer the situation, the more uplifted I end up feeling. Any sign of hope or act of kindness is so very relieving that even despite my hatred of people, I can't help but be forced to appreciate them. Children of Men is pretty high on the worlds-gone-to-shitometer but the ending is so uplifting, you can't help but feel good about life- and that's despite the ending not even being completely positive. After seeing most of the cast die and society destroy itself, it simply hints that things might stop being quite as wrist-cutty as they are now. If I was to compare it again to The Full Monty then knowing our species has a chance of surviving Hell on Earth makes me feel a lot happier than seeing Robert Carlyle flash his scottish cock to a room full of working class tarts. But thats just me I guess ...

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31 October 2011

Movies Made From Arse Juice

I hate romantic films.
They literally make me so angry I want to puke venom. Whenever I watch one of those sloppy pieces of shit I can feel my stomach screwing itself up and a spiteful little ulcer starts to grow. Films like P.S I Love You, Dirty Dancing, Love Actually and worst of all The Notebook are love propaganda for those with a vagina and an unhinged brain.

Each of those films and more convince its audience that love is a schloppy, schmaltzy almost supernatural force. For every single person in this world there is “the one”. FUCK OFF WITH THAT SHIT! There is not just one person for everybody. That is pure unadulterated, fantasy crap. There are seven billion people on this planet- are we seriously expected to think that there is such a thing as a 'soul mate'? Not only is that absolute shite but due to our high population you can pretty much guarantee that there are about a million more perfect people for you scattered around the globe. They're even more perfect for you than your current partner but you'll never meet them... Ever!

Now that is not being cynical, that's being logical. However that doesn't stop a lot of people believing all the turd in those romance films. One of the worst that I have seen was a 1995 Chris Columbus movie called Nine Months. I'm not a huge fan of Hugh Grant movies but I do quite like Hugh Grant. I love his performance in About A Boy and I look forward to the day he does another film as good as that one. However Nine Months is one of the most evil films I have ever seen.

The plot of this piece of filth seems to be that Hugh Grant has accidentally gotten Julianne Moore up the duff and so spends the entire film getting used to the idea of reluctantly becoming a Dad, whilst at the same time falling in love with Julianne. Err- what? If that is not a film whose message seems to imply that trapping your partner with a baby is a good and effective idea, I don't what is.

The most annoying scene came when Hugh was psyching himself up to tell Julianne that he doesn't want the kid. He meets up with her and to his surprise she starts to talk about all the reasons she doesn't want to be a Mum. Hugh can't believe his luck! Maybe they can get rid of the child before it's too late. Excited, Hugh agrees with everything she says only for her to conclude by saying something along the lines of, “but despite all that I still want the baby”. If I was Hugh I'd have thrown her down the fucking stairs for that. For knowingly getting my hopes up only to reveal that she wants the child after all is sick. People said The Exorcist was evil but it's actually quite an uplifting film in a way. Watching Nine Months makes me wish for a meteoroid to hit the Earth and destroy our pathetic, weasely species.

Having said all that I'd hate to suggest that I don't like love stories. My issue is with the schmaltzy, formulaic, sentimental ones- not genuine and subtle films such as The Graduate, 500 Days of Summer, Brokeback Mountain or Monsters.

All of those above films (and more) depict a couple of people getting to know each other and at least one of them falling in love. They're all original and show the heartache, pain, stress and joy that can accompany a relationship. Out of all of them, my current favourite is probably Monsters. This tells the story of two people being required to walk through a zone of Southern America which is quarantined due to the presence of aliens. It's a love story set against the back drop of a monster movie but where the creatures have a total screen time of about thirty seconds.

Unlike something like Independence day the aliens are not in the film to smash things up- they are there to provide a common threat which will allow our two heroes to bond over. The creatures appear violent and scary but they are simply not the focus of the film, the characters' developing relationship is. Without giving anything away, the movie is tense, scary, atmospheric and sweet. The last scene is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in cinema and more genuinely affecting than anything in any of that previously mentioned soppy shit.

Another of my favourites is the 2002 film Punch Drunk Love. In a way, it follows the formula of something like Pretty Woman, but instead features a man who has outbursts of anger and acts in a retarded manchild like manner. You know you're watching a decent love story when the most romantic line in the film is,I'm lookin' at your face and I just wanna smash it. I just wanna fuckin' smash it with a sledgehammer and squeeze it. You're so pretty”. To which the response is, “I want to chew your face, and I want to scoop out your eyes and I want to eat them and chew them and suck on them”.

Lets face it- when I watch bullshit films like P.S. I Love You, I would love to see someone pull out their eyes and take a sledgehammer to their fucking faces.

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24 October 2011

Who Watches The Watchmen?

Contains spoilers

So the other night I watched Watchmen for the second time. I saw it at the cinema when it was first out and wanted to buy it on DVD. Obviously though, being the geek that I am, I wanted the two-disc edition. Well in all honesty I wanted the directors cut but it seems as that's only available on Blu-Ray and I suffer from an allergy to buying shit machines that I don't need, I guess I'd have to make do.

However, for some unknown reason the two-disc edition of this film was stupidly expensive. The one disc is around £3 but for the two disc I would have to pay around £20. Now, unless those bonus features included a blow job and the promise not to spit, the chances are they weren't worth that much.

In this situation most people, I'm sure, would just go for the one disc, but not me. When it comes to movies I'm pretty high on the autism-ometer and so there is no way I could buy a film without extras, when I know there are extras out there. I mean can you imagine that? Just lying awake at night wondering about what you've missed out on? Never knowing the mysteries of the second disc. Things like that could drive you mad. It would be like being Madeleine McCann's parents never knowing where there daughter is, but worse. (I say worse because in reality, I'm sure they remember quite clearly where they buried her.*)

Shocked at just how much Watchmen was, I decided to wait. It wouldn't stay that expensive for ever and so I would bide my time. Fill my life with other things such as socialising, light drugs and masturbation until that single day when the price would fall to a reasonable cost. Months and years rolled by but I never gave up hope- until the other day when finally and almost by accident I found it. Play.com, £5, add to cart, my life is now complete. Well, almost complete... for some reason the special edition of Total Recall and Iron Man 2 are also £20 but at least I've got Watchmen. For now those other two will have to wait...

Eager to watch this film again, I popped it into the machine and sat back for the next two and a half hours. Since its release the film has been met with some degree of criticism, which, to a point, I can understand. Although I haven't read it, the graphic novel seems to be considered one of the best of all time. Now under no circumstances is this one of the best films of all time- therefore, fans of the greatest graphic novel will feel nothing but disappointment when they sit down to watch a pretty good film that has to compete with their stupidly high expectations.

As someone who watched without the burden of already being a fan, I feel that all-in-all, the film Watchmen is really rather good. When compared to other comic book movies it feels a lot more epic and clearly stands out as being particularly original in a genre that, in its shortish lifespan, has already developed quite a few cliches.

The comic book formula states that in the first instalment the hero gains their power and learns to deal with it. As the first film in these franchises are setting up all the rules and establishing the new world, the second is generally a lot better. The second film throws us right into the action and lets us have fun watching our hero accomplish their potential. The third film in a superhero trilogy is, generally, pretty shit. At this point they have either become bogged down by plot strands from the previous two films or they simply try to out do themselves by throwing in too many characters and explosions.

Watchmen however avoids this by simply being true to the book, and so a stand alone film. Zack Snyder's movie avoids the above trilogy cliché by not following the pattern of the superhero film and instead seeking inspiration elsewhere. Like The Dark Knight drew heavily from Heat, Watchmen follows a path that is much more in line with something like Magnolia. Both have phenomenal soundtracks and running lengths that require you to really not be that busy a person. Both are also huge ensemble dramas with a perfect cast and several character storylines that weave majestically in and out of each other.

When it comes to the characters in Watchmen, their unique selling point is that they deconstruct the more famous equivalents. In this film, Batman is a fat, likeable loser who can't get it up. Superman is a giant dicked, blue genius who has lost touch with humanity and so builds his fortress of solitude as far away as he can- on Mars. Nick Fury is an ageing, sociopathic rapist who dies within the first ten minutes, and then finally we get to Rorschach. Rorschach is basically an angry Travis Bickle or The Punisher without perspective. Rorschach has learnt in his time not to let people get away with anything. To him, the world is black and white. Rorschach, like everybody else in this film, basically has a few issues.

Like I said- I understand why people who have read "the greatest graphic novel of all time" would be a little disappointed but in all honesty just get the fuck over it. To say that Watchmen the film isn't very good is just fucking wrong. Compare it to something like Transformers 3 and then maybe you'll appreciate exactly what this film is bringing to the table. Compare it as well to other comic book adaptations such as The Fantastic Four or Elektra and be grateful that fucking Watchmen was made by someone wanting to create something original for cinemas. If Snyder wanted to make your average comic book film thats focus was to make a lot of money, it wouldn't be almost three hours long, 18 rated, feature a giant blue cock and very little action.

Where Snyder himself is concerned, I'm fairly indifferent towards him. I love the original Dawn of the Dead more than I love most of my family, but I also like his remake. The only similarity between Romeros and Snyders is that people are hiding in a shopping mall from a group of Zombies. Everything else is different. They are different people, doing different things against a different breed of zombie. In fact it's hardly even a remake- more just a film thats basic plot setup is along the same lines. I haven't seen Sucker Punch but I have seen 300 which is okay. I like the fighting in 300 but I think its politics are a little bit forced. It's as though they didn't want to admit to just making a film about men who hit each other with swords and so forced it in for the sake of it. I think the politics is as out of place here as a naked wrestler would be in Frost/Nixon. 300 with its slow-motion, gore and stylisation is basically just eye porn. Not that that's a bad thing.

It might however be the reason that Watchmen has been accused of being 'style over substance'. In my opinion, this is just simply not true. Don't get me wrong- the visuals are very impressive, but they had to be didn't they. When you've got a big blue man in a glass dome on Mars, well... that's always going to look nice. However the things that impress most are the characters, the acting, the story and the way it deconstructs its own genre. Basically, everything that I hear that is good about the book is in the film. So get over it nerds- this film could be a lot worse.

*The views expressed in this joke in no way represent my own... Unless they're right.

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12 August 2011

I Can't Be Bothered With My Brain Today

Everybody has a guilty pleasure when it comes to the films they watch.
Until recently however, and with the exception of hardcore pornography, I was without one. I suppose I have a particular passion for comic book movies, but they're generally considered to be good and well reviewed. Adam Sandler seems to be someone that certain people like, despite his films clearly being shit. I read somewhere once that Paul Thomas Anderson considers Adam Sandler films to be his guilty pleasure which is what inspired him to make the amazing Punch Drunk Love. If only all Adam Sandler movies were as good as that one then I'd be happy but unfortunately, they're not, so, I'm not.

For me, his man-child ways aren't endearing or cute, but creepy. When he smiles. he looks like a severely rapey Bob Dylan with retard issues. I hate how he always starts off angry before falling in love with someone and then mellowing out. When that happens, it seems as though the film has backtracked on its own convictions. They're pandering to an audience who couldn't live with themselves for enjoying the company of a pure, miserable bastard. It's the equivalent of having Basil Fawlty cheer up at the end of each episode of Fawlty Towers just because someone has been nice to him. Have some balls Sandler, stay angry.

So Big Daddy and Shitty Gilmore weren't quite to my taste- thankfully though, something is. I've finally found my guilty pleasure! A series of films that I know, for the most part, are kind of shit but that's not the point. The point is that they are fun, funny and in each case, knowingly ridiculous. They are the movies of action star and Earth's cockney representative Jason Statham.

The more I watch Statham in movies, the more I think he's our generations Arnie. Both of them can carry an action film by their name alone, they both essentially always play the same character, they deliver shitty puns after robbing people of their lives, and the action in their films is hardly gritty and realistic. An example of a gritty and realistic action scene might be the one at the beginning of Casino Royale in which Bond smashes the fuck out of some guy by cracking his head on a bathroom sink and then shooting him. An example of an action scene in a Jason Statham movie would be something like in The Transporter were he greases himself up and uses bicycle peddles for shoes, sliding around a garage with people unable to get a decent grip on the slippery little sod.

I suppose another similarity between Arnie and Statham would be their accents. Whereas one speaks completely with his iconic Austrian voice, the other too struggles with the spoken word when not speaking like a proper facking Landaner. But who cares as both have such great and distinctive voices that I'm happy for them to use them all of the time. Even when, for example in The Transporter, Statham starts off American and then forgets and carries on the film just speaking like himself. Lets face it- as much I love them both, neither of them are Gary Oldman. I don't go to see Crank because of the transformative acting that leaves its main star unrecognisable. I go because I hear that the Stath spends half the film running around punching doctors with his arse out and a stonking big bone on. Name me one other film where you could see that? Originality is what cinema should be constantly searching for and things like that and the image of a bald Londoner falling from the sky whilst chatting to his girlfriends answering machine sound pretty original to me.

Different films are made for different purposes. If I wanted to watch a well judged, masterfully crafted classic, I'd put The Godfather on. However if I've got some friends around and we've just been smacking the shit out of each other on Super Smash Brothers Brawl, it might lower the mood a bit if I suddenly announced that it was time for us to shut up, show some respect and put Schindler's List on. Something like Crank however, is perfect. That's not to say, by the way, that Statham has only done action films. Oh no - the man is an acting genius; not only can he play himself in things like The Transporter but he can also play himself in the cheeky, Brit gangster films of Guy Ritchie such as Lock, Stock and Snatch. I know he was also in Revolver, which is supposed to be really shit, but fuck it, I haven't seen that one - as far as my life is concerned, it doesn't exist.

John Hurt said that when picking a film to act in, he doesn't particularly have any prejudice regarding its genre. He says that as long as he believes that the film will achieve the level of success that it is attempting, then he will consider it. Statham's films aren't the best films of all time, but nor do they try to be - they just try to be 90 minutes of fun entertainment, and that is exactly what they are. Personally I think that they are funnier than most of Adam Sandlers movies with their biggest joke being that everybody making them is probably taking them seriously, with the exception of the Stath. The action is cool, the humour makes me laugh, the running time is do-able. What's not to like?

There is a film coming out soon apparently called The Killer Elite, and it stars both Jason Statham and Clive Owen. Now this is literally the making of a guilty pleasure classic; we've got our Jason facing off against the star of Sin City and the Crank-alike, subtley titled Shoot Em' Up. I don't know what the plot is, but I don't care as I already know I'm going to love it, and if those two weren't enough, by the way, it also somehow stars fucking Robert De Niro. Now, obviously by appearing in this, De Niro is once again degrading himself, but fuck it, he's been doing that for about 15 years now - at least this film might actually be fun. Imagine that, a new Jason Statham film comes out and it might even be the best De Niro movie in over a decade and a half. Bollocks to the reviews, I'm pre-ordering that shitty masterpiece straight away.

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31 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Franchise That Made A Lot Of Money

When I first watched Harry Potter I was eleven years old. That means that I've been watching Harry Potter movies for a longer period of time than I've been driving, ejaculating, and drinking for (not always at the same time, either. And that’s drinking alcohol, for the crude reader). For the last decade, I have grown up watching the moaning specky twonk and now finally it's all over. Since the fourth film, they seemed to stop being self contained movies and started to become more and more episodic. Going to see the latest Harry Potter film was more like going to watch the next episode of a really expensive television show than anything else. Sort of like Grange Hill on crack. If you haven't seen The Order of The Phoenix, then don't bother going to see The Half Blood Prince because it won't mean a bloody thing to you.

With this in mind, there is therefore a lot of pressure on the final instalment; The Deathly Hallows Part 2, or to give it its full title; Harry Potter and the Last Chance To Get Some Money Out Of You: Part 2. We've been waiting since 2001 to see this conclusion, and sat through what may as well be an 18 hour or so movie. If this ending is shite, then I think we might have riots on our hands. I'm not investing that much of my life into something only to find out that it was all a dream or that Voldemort is actually Harry's gay lover and this has all been about a particularly magical hissy fit.

Thankfully though, we don't need to get our shoulder pads and pitchforks out just yet as it just so happens that this last film is fucking good- and in a British kind of way.

Starting at the beginning, the first two Harry Potter films were shit. They're basically the same movie, the kids can't act and they're well too long. The first two stuck too closely to the books and so dragged on much longer than they should have. They kind of feel like The Goonies set in a castle and they have absolutely no sense of style. The direction is pretty lazy with a kind of “just point the camera at what’s going on” feel to it and John Williams’ score sounds like it has been jizzed straight out of a big ball sack of his musical clichés. Watching them, it can only be concluded that Chris Columbus either has no identifiable directorial style or he has failed to imprint it onto either of these films.

Having said that though, the first two did do several things right which laid the ground work for future films to improve upon. The sets and locations are iconic with everything from Hagrids hut to the Gryffindor common room being as recognisable now as Frankenstein’s castle or the Death Star... but it's the cast that really stand out. Whoever decided to fill out every adult role with an iconic British actor was a genius. When every great actor shows up, I like to think of it as a big fuck you to America. It's as though we're showing them that we have people like Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter and all they get is Adam Sandler and a washed up De Niro.

When it comes to Harry, Ron and Hermione, what I think happened was something I call ‘Ken Barlow Syndrome’. Ken has been playing that character for almost 400 years, which means that the actor has been ‘Ken’ for about as long as he has been whoever he is in real life. He's at a point now where being Ken is not a job but a depressing state of life. The three Potter actors weren't great when they started but seems as they've spent entirely half their lives being them, they've kind of grown into them quite well. By the end of the last film they aren't playing those characters well, they're living them beautifully.

Thankfully, by film three, Columbus saw sense and fucked off leaving a director’s fold-out-chair to fill. Instead of hiring somebody similar to him though, the producers replaced him with a man who is in every way the exact opposite. Alfonso Curran who has style, imagination, credibility and respect, was a perfect choice to take over the reigns of that style-less dullard. Having at this point seen all Potter films, it can now be officially confirmed that Curran can claim to have directed the best Harry Potter film in the series with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban.

Beyond the better story with a much tighter narrative, this film really changed the direction of the franchise by grounding itself in our world. Unlike the first two, this movie was not set within a movie land but rather ours giving it a much more gritty, recognisable and impressive setting. By feeling a little more documentary-like, the magic simply felt more magical as it now had our mundane world of businesses, busses and cafes to contrast with. It also made the whole thing more relatable by emphasising that perhaps where we live too might be in danger, and that these children fighting actual evil genuinely were putting themselves into mortal jeopardy.

This film is also where the Harry Potter style really came into effect… If you were to get rid of all of the humans and just focus on the sets and character designs, you’d not think this was a kid’s film. It would look like the most expensive, coolest, gothic Hammer horror movie ever made. In my humble opinion, the moment that the Dementors left the Hogwarts Express until the introduction of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore is not only the greatest sequence in the Harry Potter franchise but also one of the greatest in film history. A bold claim this may be, but if you compare it to shite like the montage in Rocky where missing link, human/ape Stallone manages to run up some stairs and then pisses his pants with joy, then I'm sure you'll agree.

Unfortunately though, Curran couldn't stay long and so left straight away to selfishly make another masterpiece with his next film Children of Men. For the fourth film, he was replaced with Mike Newall who'd made his name with the overrated vomit inducing classic Four weddings and Funeral and the forgotten mafia classic Donnie Brasco. To his entry in the franchise, he brought a more boarding school like feel to the mood around Hogwarts. We heard the kids, for some reason, listening to the very real but very shit Ordinary Boys and we saw them dicking about in their rooms making animal noises. Basically rather than worrying about dying, we saw them being normal, fun-loving school kids.

The Goblet of Fire is a big book- probably the second most common cause of upper body strength in young boys, after chronic masturbation. It was therefore a necessary but great decision by the writer, to chop most of the non-Harry focused chapters out and leave them on the floor. By focusing only on Potter, we got a tight, North by North West like conspiracy thriller which concludes with the appearance of the big bad wolf we've heard so much about.

Kid’s movie or not, when Voldemort turns up, things get quite scary. What we see is not two equals doing battle, but rather a fully grown man tormenting and abusing a young boy. This is less like Luke versus Vader and more like Charles Manson versus Anne Frank. It also concludes with one of the more heartbreaking scenes in which Cedric “Sparkles In Sunlight” Diggory is murdered and then mourned by his less than chuffed father. Twishite aside, I have no issue with Robert Pattinson, and actually really like the arc that Cedric Diggory goes on. He starts off as a smug looking twat who thinks he's better looking than he is. He heavily implies he wants to fuck Harry in the sixth form bathroom and then finally turns out to be a fairly decent kind of guy- then he dies.

Again though, like Curran, Newall for whatever reason only stuck about for one movie. It was therefore at this point that David Yates took the reigns. At the time, this seemed like such a strange but genius move because back then, Yates was best known to the world as a television man who was probably most famous for directing the Paul Abbot scripted mini-series State of Play. And when I say famous, I mean that maybe his parents, neighbours and wife had heard of him. Maybe.

At this point, the Harry Potter films were becoming all the more interesting due to the succession of directors they were managing to get through. Each of them managed to do something new with their film whilst still playing within the continuity of what had gone before. Something happened with Yates however, and despite only being up to the fifth film, they decided to keep him. From The Order of the Pheonix until Deathly Hallows Part 2, Yates was the man with the plan, tasked with keeping each film fresh and original despite only being controlled by his one imagination. Thankfully though, it seems his imagination is quite extensive.

With each director focusing in on a different aspect, it seems that what Yates chose to concentrate on was character. Relationships, emotions and performances were what impressed in the last few films. Amazingly though, this wasn't at the expense of spectacle. Bank heists, ogres, and the attack of Hogwarts all take place, but the most memorable scenes are the quiet ones such as Harry and Hermione dancing alone in the woods together to Nick Cave, the flash back revelations of Snape's real motivations and Ginny being a ginger little prick-tease by pretending as though she's going to give Harry a blow-job and then only tying up his shoe laces.

By the time we get to the last film however, a few criticisms start to sneak up. There aren't too many and it is, to a small degree, nit picking, however the plot does tend to get a little complicated in terms of bullshit words that mean nothing except to confuse people. You could call them ‘horcruxes’, or you could just call them ‘macguffins’ and just get on with finding them. Personally, this didn't cause too much of a problem for me seems as I'd read the books which have more time to explain things, but I'd be interested to know if any non-readers struggled to keep up.

Also particularly in Deathly Hallows Part 2, the death count is pretty high. With so many characters and so much threat, it would be slightly stupid not to murder a few people to add a little sense of peril or loss. However it seems that a lot of these deaths are just skimmed over. One of the twins, Lupin, and Tonks are all revealed to be dead simply by us seeing them lying on the floor with their eyes closed. It's such a brief shot for what should be a pretty emotional moment that part of your brain goes into denial and just assumes that the useless bastards must have just developed narcolepsy and decided to have a quick snooze mid battle.

It was the same as well, when Gary Oldman died if you ask me. He stood in some smoke and we never saw him properly again. Snape’s moment was vaguely touching, I suppose, but not compared to Dobby’s. Dobby is basically what the child would look like if Yoda fucked a rat and it farted out some squalid form of life. Despite this though, he manages to be oddly quite cute. I think it's his Forrest Gump like simple-ness, and the fact that despite his Big Brother contestant level of intelligence, he has a good heart. So what happens to him? He gets a fucking knife thrown into him and has a nice old slow death on the beach in Harry’s arms. I mean, fucking Hell that's horrible. The Elephant Man wasn't even that sad, and that was a true story about some poor bastard who was so happy that people had finally been nice to him that he just lay down where he was and died. Never got up again…

Within eight movies though, it really is impressive, that the biggest criticisms are the ones aforementioned, and a series which is destined to go into the books as one of the most impressive, and important in film history. It was a series in which heart and imagination was clearly prioritised over special effects and a desire for money. At the beginning of all this, I mentioned that this was fucking good and in a British kind of way and I think, that is one of its greatest features.

The end of the franchise had a lot resting on it and so it was up to Yates not to fuck it up. It is in this end that its British-ness is once again revealed in just how quiet and underplayed the last five minutes are. It doesn't go out on an explosion or punch line but a brief look into the future. We see that all is well, and that like Harry before them, a new batch of Potter kids are about to embark on a journey to Hogwarts. It is sweet, reflective and in a way… perfect.

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