Classic Bit Review: The General (1926)

Six years after The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, came The General. Whilst we are still in the era of silent cinema as the talkies were just a few years away, we have a change in film. Many American film companies had move to Hollywood due to various weather types that meant filming on location was no longer a huge concern, cheap real estate as the location was mainly for growing oranges and there wasn’t a union for labour workers until the 1930s.

 

The General, co-written by the star of the film Buster Keaton, in comparison to The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is seen as more of a film with techniques used as it moves away from the mise-en scene been staged like a play. The camera is a technique of storytelling in The General opposed to just being a device used to record a story. The scene in which Keaton’s character is rejected by his love and sits on the train wheel which moves him like a rag doll is evidence of Keaton’s character techniques as the juxtaposition of the huge machine and this tiny body is comedy genius. The General features close ups, a note-worthy example is the scene in which Keaton’s character is under the table whilst trying to rescue his love, we first see a long shot of the table surrounded by the soldiers with the audience seeing Keaton’s feet, then cuts to a close up of Keaton’s face. The General also uses editing techniques, such as a match-on-action cut from a close up of Keaton’s face looking at a hole, to a point of view shot of the hole to see what he is looking at.

 

Could it be Keaton himself that had led critics to the emphasis on his talent? Whilst the techniques he uses in contrast to German films such as Faust (directed by F.W Murnau) are clearly more relatable to the majority modern films of today. The Scarlett Letter (directed by Victor Sjöström) was also released in 1926 and uses similar techniques to The General, suggesting that the praise of the film isn’t due simply to the techniques used but Keaton himself. The entire package of Keaton is mastery itself. The ongoing debate of who is better, Chaplin or Keaton, has been ongoing for decades and whilst Chaplin had the initial popularity and trademark character; Keaton also rivalled with his famous ‘Great Stone Face’. Both these performers were also directors and whilst the debate of the two is interesting, Chaplin and Keaton were both huge influences on film. Chaplin may have had the lead up until the revivals of Keaton’s films, upon the discovery; Keaton was given the praise he initially deserved. It’s clear that his techniques were great and helped set the standard for Hollywood, but Keaton’s persona of his characters and his imagery for his movies helps in defining him as a master of cinema.

 

buster-keaton-the-general-3.jpg

Advertisements

Bit Review: Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic Blonde (2017) directed by David Leitch, one of the uncredited directors of John Wick (2014), stars Charlize Theron and James McAvoy. Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by author Antony Johnston and artist Sam Hart. This is the first solo venture for Leitch, and follows Theron as an undercover MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to recover a list that features a double agent. The main agent that the MI6, and CIA, want to know the identity of the double agent named Satchel and assassinate them.

 

Atomic Blonde is sexy, cool and fun. It’s stylish and an excellent debut for Leitch. The story isn’t too hard to follow but it is a bit too complicated. The film is a great spy film, the action is slow at a few moments but the choreography fits the mood of the film. The character of Lorraine Broughton is badass, and hopefully will be put on the same pedestal as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (2003), and Gina Carano in Haywire (2011). I know I’d love to dress up as her for Halloween. The camera work helps to show how badass Theron is during the action scenes. As David Edelstein from Vulture, says “It’s an audience member and a participant”, as it observes the drama but gets involved during intense fight scenes. What makes Lorraine Broughton such a brilliant character is that she isn’t sexualized, and the cinematography doesn’t focus on her in a creep voyeuristic way but shows her if she was Keanu Reeves in John Wick. Broughton’s sexuality is never mocked, and she is never treated less because she was a woman, showing that gender doesn’t mean a thing if you’re tough like Theron.

 

The cast are amazing. Sofia Boutella, Charlize Theron and James McAvoy are outstanding. Sofia Boutella is definite one of my favourites, I loved her in Star Trek: Beyond (2016), Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) and she was one of the only good things about The Mummy (2017). She is both beautiful and incredibly talented, and I cannot wait to see what she does in the future. I couldn’t talk about Atomic Blonde without discussing the soundtrack, which fits the film perfectly. From the sombre rendition of 99 Luftballoons to Under Pressure post fight sequences. The soundtrack uses a combination of 1980s songs and covers to add a contemporized feeling of the eighties.

 

Reasons to watch this film; the stylish cinematography, the soundtrack and the cool characters. To see Berlin during the Cold War is an amazing reason alone to watch this film. Don’t expect an enigmatic story, but expect a stylish and cool film that’ll stick in your head for days.

Bit Composer Analysis: Joe Hisaishi

Joe Hisaishi, whose birth name is Mamoru Fujisawa, is a Japanese film composer who is acclaimed worldwide for his scores. He was a frequent collaborator with Hayao Miyazaki and Takeshi Kitano, in which he is most popularly known for. Hisaishi has a deep appreciation for music, and like many composers he is influenced by classical music and French romanticism. A key composer which seems to influence Hisaishi is French composer Claude Debussy. Hisaishi’s style and arrangement is similar to Debussy, as Debussy’s Clair De Lune features similar melodies to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away main theme regarding arrangement and tone. Hisaishi takes his position as a film composer as absolute. Hisaishi believes that music isn’t something to fill the silence in film, and in turn it is an element on its own which drives the story and can manipulate an audience’s response. In this essay, I will look at Hisaishi as a composer and see if he has any distinct trademarks in his style specifically by looking at his work for Kitano and Miyazaki.

 

One director whose primary genre is crime and the other who focuses on fantasy worlds, Kitano and Miyazaki couldn’t be more different in their genres and types of filmmaking. However, they have one big thing in common, their use of composer Hisaishi. Both were frequent collaborators with Hisaishi, until Miyazaki retired and Kitano parted ways with him. Despite the two different directors, Hisaishi has a sort of signature that he uses in his music. His arrangement of melody repetition is something that is replicated in a variety of his scores. Most often in the scores themselves, the melody is repeated in the song. An example would be his track “Summer” from Kitano’s Kikijuro, the track begins with a violin leading in the music with a four-note piece that has an adagio tempo. Then, the violin is followed by a seven-note melody played on the piano that is the melody for the track. The piano piece is played in minor to give a bittersweet and melancholy emotion which follows the emotive space onscreen. The song begins with the title credits, an animated sequence which at first follows the violins pace on an eye zooming in the see the vision in the eye. The piano plays as we see guardian angels over one child in bed, then cutting to an angel figure stood over a bed of flowers. The title of the film appears, followed by stereotypically oriental sounds and the melody played earlier on piano is now played on a synthesiser to change the sound of the melody. The oriental sounds are distinct as the bells and woodwind instruments convey an East-Asian sound, and this is something Hisaishi does quite often and it helps him stand out from other composers and is part of his signature. The seven-note melody from earlier on is now repeated but now it sounds almost different with the other assortments but instead of giving a sad emotion, it gives us context into the world we are about to be brought into.

 

As we see the young boy running onscreen in slow motion, the piano tune returns still in minor to convey a bittersweet emotion. He is alone and the angels on his back suggest he is the boy in the opening credit cartoon, but it’s the music that manipulates the audience to feel sympathetic for the boy as the notes are arranged so that they sound sorrowful. The violin continues steadily until the music picks up as we hear another seven-note melody on the piano followed by the violin which becomes allegro and matches the piano melody. The music begins to crescendo and suggests a prominent danger which is matched onscreen as the boys are running away from suspected bullies. An added cello to the sound makes the danger seem even more closer as the deep notes suggest something is lurking behind them. The piano melody turns into a five-note melody making it more faster in sound and highlighting the urgency even more as they run. As the music hits its heaviest moment, the music slows down and returns to the simple original seven-note melody and violin in the background with a harp as well. The notes sound isolated and far apart, they reflect the two main characters in the film and their emotions. This piece overall reflects the characters and their feeling of isolation and alienation due to their situations, Kikijuro (Beat Takeshi) acts with anger and Masao (Yusuke Sekiguchi) feels sad. The track “Summer” is one of Hisaishi’s most notable songs as it features many of his signatures, such as his melodies and style, and the way he manipulates the audience by using music to show the emotion of the characters in the films he scores. Many composers, such as Hans Zimmer, repeat melodies but it’s the distinct signature of Hisaishi using those seven-notes on the piano and violin that show us it’s his piece.

 

Hisaishi also uses the same melodies, or highly similar, in other tracks and not just in the same songs. The chord progressions are often almost the same, apart from one or two chords. The song entitled “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky” from Laputa: Castle in the Sky starts off with a few chords played in an adagio speed and are articulated very legato. Almost identical is the “One Summer’s Day” track from Spirited Away, which starts off with the similar chord progression except this track has two less chords at the end of the melody, as the song from Laputa has two extra chords at the end of the opening melody. The arrangement of the chords that open the track are almost similar and this repetition is something that Hisaishi uses often but with a great strategic skill that makes the track into something completely different. The chord progression often descends and then uses a melody to complete the track. The same formula is seen for many his tracks, such as “Ashitaka and San” from Princess Mononoke and “Summer” from Kikijuro. Despite the similar traits and formula, his compositions are each unique and are effective in what they try to convey. Hisaishi’s compositions can stand alone and are visual in song, as the notes themselves provide an image alone. The visual accompaniments of the films provide a literal meaning but the music itself conveys its own meaning, “Ashitaka and San” is a piece on its own which is beautiful and moving. The track conveys both romance, adventure and a sense of conflict without the visual imagery showing that Hisaishi’s work adds to the films rather than simply providing a backing track or to fill the silence.

 

Another prominent similarity between many of Hisaishi’s pieces is his use of instruments, primarily strings and piano. Many of his traditional scores often begin with a piano melody, then are accompanied by a violin. In such compositions, “A Miraculous Recovery” from As The Sun Also Rises (directed by Jiang Wen), “Princess Mononoke” from the film of the same title (Miyazaki) and “Meet Again” from Kids Return (directed by Kitano) to name a few. To look in close detail, Spirited Away is an excellent example. The track “One Summers Day” begins with slow keys on the piano which are echoed, then a synthesizer is heard in the background with a steady note filling the silence. In a nutshell, the track begins slow and simple but soon it is then followed by the melody played on the piano and stringed instruments to add more to the song. The violin plays as an underlying part of the track, a background noise for the melody to play on top. These instruments are often played in together, as Hisaishi often goes for the distinct sound of the two together to successfully manipulate the audience’s emotion.

 

Hisaishi often uses the synthesiser too, and manipulates the sound to fit the film. Two of many examples are A Scene at the Sea’s “Silent Love” theme and My Neighbour Totoro’s “The Huge Tree in the Tsukamori Forest” both use the synthesiser in different ways. In My Neighbour Totoro, he uses the synthesiser to convey a mystical edge to give a magical feeling to the score as it follows two girls who find supernatural creatures hidden in the forest. The track “Silent Love” uses higher chords mixed with low ones to create a romantic feeling, the beat sounds sensual and emphasises a romantic theme. The guitar and the vocals hidden in the background, mixed with a drum beat adds drama to the sound. The story itself follows a deaf man who learns to surf for the girl that he loves, and the theme perfectly captures that alone. The synthesiser is an excellent tool that Hisaishi frequently uses to convey emotion in the films he scores, and the use of it is one of his signatures that highlight it’s his work.

 

Hisaishi has been known for his signature, and sometimes this can hinder his work. Kitano commented that “Mister Hisaishi as a composer is not very flexible, so I decided to use someone else”, after the two parted ways after Dolls and Kitano found another composer for his next feature Zatōichi. However, I disagree with Kitano’s comments as Hisaishi seems to adapt to whatever film he is assigned too. The way that he can jump from a magical score for Studio Ghibli to a yakuza gangster film. For Kitano’s Brother, Hisaishi used a saxophone amongst many other jazz instruments to convey an American sound and the loneliness by using a saxophone with a violin and a clarinet. Of course, the piano chords mixed with the violin give it the Hisaishi signature. In the title track in Brother, Hisaishi uses drums and saxophones to emphasise the American sound and in Kiki’s Delivery Service many of the melodies are played by accordions to give a European feel. Hisaishi’s music has a distinct signature at times, such of the use of chords and instruments, but none of his pieces of work are ever the same. Hisaishi plays with techniques for certain sounds, an example would be like pizzicato and staccato strings in major key to create effects like tiptoeing in films like My Neighbour Totoro, he uses the same instruments most of the time but orchestrates them differently. Hisaishi plays concerts by himself and can fill stadiums with just his music that he orchestrates. He is one of Japan’s most distinguished and respected composers who has worked with many great film directors from Kitano, Miyazaki to Yoji Yamada, a vast difference in styles but are connected by Hisaishi and his creative scores.

 

Bit TV Review: Misfits (2009 – 2013)

I had heard many people comment on Misfits, and especially how good it is. I had never seen it prior as it never seemed interesting to me. I decided to give it a go and watch the first ever episode on Demand 4, and ended up binging the first series. The show began with a group of young offenders doing community service, and I thought that it would be a show in which these young offenders realise their mistakes and become a part of society, and everyone lives happily ever after. However, the show was nothing like I expected. Basically, through a mysterious event our characters find themselves with superhuman powers, although they are not the only ones.

The show features around five young offenders: Nathan, Simon, Kelly, Curtis and Aisha. Each of these characters have different backgrounds and fit into different cliques but they don’t all come together because they work out their differences and become best friends. They witness something and cover it ultimately forming a secret pact. The first series is about how they cover up the incident and keeping it a secret. Whilst the plot sounds serious, the show itself is funny and full of emotional and heartfelt moments. I didn’t even plan on watching the first episode but ended up getting hooked and binge watching the first season.

The cast are excellent, all show both comedic and dramatic qualities. It is shot to an incredible standard, the editing and the music are both brilliant as well. It’s a show that is hard to explain why, but it is addictive. I binged the entire boxset, and found myself asking ‘Why is it being rebooted?’. The original is brilliant and doesn’t need a needless reboot, so watch the original whilst you can.

Bit Review: Drawn Together (2004 – 2007)

Today, animated comedies are limited to family sitcom formats meshed with random cutaways. Shows such as Family Guy and The Simpsons have adapted this type of format. However, Drawn Together is a show that attempts to subvert this typical format in every way. Years ago, I remember seeing the show Drawn Together on MTV but had only seen it once on late night TV. Lucky for me, it had come up on my Amazon Prime feed and I of course binged the first and second series.

The show itself is about eight different cartoon characters placed in a house, similar to a Big Brother format, and the show follows them and their tasks. The eight characters are all different parodies on cartoon characters in media, beginning with Captain Hero, a sociopathic, perverted, pansexual spoof of Superman. Toot Braunstein, a counterpart of Betty Boop who is seen as overweight and bipolar. Foxxy Love, a counterpart of Valerie Brown from Josie and The Pussycats, ghetto and more like a caricature of a black woman in the 70s. Princess Clara is a counterpart of any Disney princess, she’s extremely religious, racist and homophobic. Wooldoor Sackbar is a parody of both Spongebob and Stimpy, being an annoying cartoon who chameleon’s different jobs and types. Xandir, who starts off as the muscly, lack of clothes hero who wanted to save his girlfriend, similar to Zelda and Link, or Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. As the series progresses he realises he is gay and most of the jokes centre of jokes referencing this such as his lack of gag reflex due to bulimia. Ling-Ling’s counterpart is Pikachu from Pokemon, but a more psychopathic and aggressive version. His comedy is more based on Japanese stereotypes being mocked. The final cast member is Spanky Ham, an original character with no counterpart, but is a crass internet download.

The show is full of pop culture references and parodies, such as the constant appearance of cartoon characters such as Daphne from Scooby Doo and Speedy Gonzales from Looney Tunes. Donald Trump, and The Apprentice (US Version) is mocked as he is portrayed as a boy child. In the first episode, “Black Chick’s Tongue” is a musical parody of Disney Aladdin’s “A Whole New World”. It’s honestly not like any other animated comedy on TV, extremely adult even compared next to South Park, or Family Guy. It covers extremely sensitive topics and uses extreme stereotypes to highlight and satirise topics in society. The show isn’t afraid to openly mock topics that are considered taboo, such as racism and homophobia. Of course, now we have shows like Rick and Morty, but Drawn Together was outstanding. I believe the show is clever and funny, but can be crass at times which makes the show seem less intelligent that it is. The show only ended up being three seasons, as it was cancelled, but they did release a movie afterwards. It’s definitely an animated comedy that has a unique perspective, and an original take on the genre.

 

DrawnTogether_SeriesHeader_1920x540

Classic Bit Review: Peeping Tom (1960)

Who would’ve thought that Peeping Tom (directed by Michael Powell) would be certified as Fresh by film site Rotten Tomatoes and is summarised as “a chilling, methodical look at the psychology of a killer, and a classic work of voyeuristic cinema”. Certainly not audiences in Britain during the time of its release. With such comments as “it turns out to be the sickest and filthiest film I remember seeing…we have had glossy horrors before but never such insinuating, under the skin horrors”   highlighting that British audiences weren’t ready for such an intense voyeuristic experience commentating on issues that hadn’t ever been explored in detail before.

Peeping Tom features a lot of techniques which have arguably pioneered not just horror in general but more specifically the slasher genre which Hollywood easily re-used in the late 80s/early 70s from such films from John Carpenter’s Halloween to Amy Holden Jones’ The Slumber Party Massacre, both of which spawned sequels and numerous spin offs. Despite many believing Hitchcock’s Psycho to be the film that truly defined the genre; Peeping Tom is clearly the film that originally did so. Peeping Tom was released on the 16th of May 1960 and Psycho not released until the 15th of September of that year. Many saw, and still see Psycho as the start of the slasher and psychological thriller. However, all of these could’ve easily been said about Peeping Tom as we are drawn sympathy toward evil as we are given strong hints of the abuse that leading character Michael endured. Powell also creates violence with a lack of imagery as the audience are never shown the victim and the violence is minimal especially compared to Psycho.  So why did Psycho elevate Hitchcock’s career whilst Peeping Tom destroyed Powell’s career as a standing British director?

Both film incorporate the intense voyeurism, the abuse of parents and a killer who isn’t necessarily portrayed as the stereotypical Hollywood villain. Yet, Powell was criticised whilst Hitchcock was praised. Many believe that the fault of Powell’s was letting the British press critique his film instead of letting the public decide. This worked in Hitchcock’s favour as many critics did hate the film but audiences were enthralled and loved it. Peeping Tom is now a cult favourite, as audiences have made up their own minds and now critics have followed. Hitchcock learned a valuable lesson from Powell, suggesting that perhaps if Psycho was released before and with a press screening in Britain that perhaps the roles would be reversed.

Bit TV Review: Cheers (1982 – 1993)

The genre of US Sitcom is a common television program that airs now. E4 is a platform for such Sitcoms as The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and many other constant re-runs of these programs. The most recognised Sitcom by much of today, is of course Friends. Almost every person has heard of the program, and perhaps seen at least one episode when E4 used to show its re-runs. Now it has moved to Comedy Central in the UK but is still as popular as ever on the channel. One of the shows prominent directors James Burrows, was recently honoured which brought the gang, almost, back together. At this event, Burrows was also honoured for another Sitcom; Cheers. Cheers was co-created by Burrows, Glen and Les Charles, and the show became one of the most popular and longest running sitcoms of all times airing from 1982 to 1993. Cheers itself spawned two spin-off Sitcoms, one of which, Frasier, was incredibly successful and received acclaim of its own.

So where can you find the bar where everyone knows your name? The show airs in the UK but on UK GOLD and CBS Drama occasionally, so if you only have access to Freeview channels then you will miss out. Cheers is set in a bar in Boston, USA, and revolves around the workers and regulars of the bar. The characters involve Sam ‘Mayday’ Malone (Ted Danson) who is an ex-athlete, owner and bartender of Cheers, Carla (Ria Perlman) who is a feisty, short, witty waitress with way too many children, Norm (George Wendt) who is the regular who comes across as a passive and uncaring but shows at moments he is a genuine guy. A primary cast member from season one to five was Diane (Shelley Long) who is an outsider to Cheers, but begins as a waitress after being dumped. Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) rounds up the primary cast of the first season as a former coach who acts as a parental figure to everyone despite being ditsy. Of course, Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) is a huge part of the gang and despite being in almost every episode of the first season, he wasn’t bumped up to main cast member until season two. Throughout the eleven seasons, there were many main cast changes but Norm, Carla, Sam and Cliff remained characters in the show until the finale and even made special appearances in Frasier.

I found Cheers by pure coincidence, switching through many channels and leaving one on through default. The episode I first watched was luckily from the first season, and called “The Boys in the Bar” and revolves around Sam’s former colleague who comes out as gay. The episode focuses on Sam finally being understanding and supportive, as the rest of the bar are. Most of the critique of the episode from the time argued that it was too ‘liberal’ but it won “The Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Artists in the Entertainment Industry” (AGLA) and has been praised for its real depiction of homosexuals. The episode aired in 1983 and took a huge risk, as the ratings of the first season hadn’t been great, so bad to the point where it almost got cancelled. After this episode, the show began to improve ratings and eventually went on to become very popular.

It has soon become one of my favourite Sitcoms as they weren’t afraid to take risks and even throughout eleven seasons, managed to stay on top. It’s a show that has been parodied and homaged to by many different shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy. Some of the humour can seem dated and too cheesy at moments, but once that theme song plays and you know it; I challenge you not to sing along.

Classic Bit Review: Ikiru (1952)

Kurosawa’s first post-Occupation film, Ikiru (1952), was released in October of that year and was a huge hit in Japan both critically and commercially and in the West too. The film follows Takeshi Shimura’s character as he finds out he has a terminal illness and how he deals with it. Ikiru is also called To Live, which highlights the overall theme of the film as it is Shimura learning how to live. The film deals with the problems of bureaucracy and inefficiency of help within a community, the decay of family life and loss of respect for elders.

The film was different to his previous films, as the lead character dies half way through the film and depicts a more contemporary reading of present Japan showing families concerned with wealth and status rather than caring for their elder relatives and giving them respect. Confucianism is a way of life that China embraced, and eventually was embodied by some in Japan. The notion of the central feature of Confucianism, which revolves almost entirely around issues related to the family, morals, and the role of the good ruler. Therefore, respect for elders and family are important within Japan, as Confucianism is very strong in Japan because it affects and was affected by Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan. Kurosawa emphasises this in Ikiru, as Shimura’s character is the head of his division and yet is mocked and gossiped about as he disappears from work. The disregard for family life is shown in Ikiru, as his son and daughter in law don’t respect him and constantly refer to his retirement money. The film was a success in Japan as it touched upon present day Japanese issues such as Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953). These past ideologies that influenced Japan would have not been able to be depicted in the Occupation, as the past was discouraged and Shintoism and East Asian religions were dissuaded.

The music and the cinematography are outstanding. and the film itself is just beautiful. Shimura stars in his best role I’ve ever seen him in, he has so much dimension as a character varying from the remorseful father to a charitable member of the community. He begins as a bureaucrat whose son, and daughter in law, only want him to retire just to give them money, not respecting or caring about him. His doctors even refuse to tell him the truth, but he soon realises that he is dying. Ironically, it’s only after his diagnosis that he actually begins to enjoy and live his life as he parties with a poet and befriends a young woman. Ikiru both lifts the human spirit whilst crushing it with heartbreaking moments, such as Takashi Shimura singing the song ‘Gondola No Uta’ which makes both the audience and the people around him suddenly sympathetic.

It is my third favourite Kurosawa film, after Drunken Angel being my first and Rashomon being my second, but it’s a film that you cannot live without. There’s not much to say but it is a masterpiece that will start with a sour taste in your mouth and end with restored faith in humanity. All I can say is Shimura is timeless, and underrated as an actor, but this film lifts him up into the lead and shows of his talents as oppose to being overshadowed by Toshiro Mifune in most of his roles. Shimura both lifts the spirits of the audience, whilst simultaneously bringing it down in perfect harmony.

Bit Review: The Resident (2011)

Have you ever felt like you were being watched in your own home? Antti Jokinen’s The Resident takes this paranoia to the next level. Part produced by the renowned Hammer Films, in an attempt at reviving the once popular company. The Resident stars Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, with a special cameo from Hammer Alumni and all round people’s favourite Christopher Lee. The film follows Juliet Devereau (Swank) as she searches for a new apartment after breaking up from her boyfriend, Lee Pace, who cheated on her, in her own bed, none the less. Soon, she meets Max (Morgan) who is renovating an apartment and she loves it immediately.

However, this film isn’t the sequel to P.S. I Love You, also starring Morgan and Swank, as it is a thriller which has clear influences from Hitchcock. Almost half way through, we soon find out that Morgan’s character isn’t all he seems and that he is a strong manipulator who is obsessed with Swank. The film should’ve been called P.S. I Stalk You, as it is clear that Swank has her own personal stalker but the main question should be of the identity of Swank’s stalker.

It is tense and you definitely feel paranoid yourself during the film. Don’t watch it by yourself in the dark, as you will start hearing noises and asking yourself if your neighbour is capable of having voyeuristic tendencies. Whilst there are moments of cringe, and just uncomfortable scenes in general, the film itself is enjoyable. It’s a fun, discount version of Rear Window combined with Psycho. It has gore, suspense, sex and everything you’d expect to enjoy a film. It may not be this decade’s best thriller, but it’s an entertaining movie. You needn’t ask for more.

 

Bit Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

There are so many different versions of Spider-Man, so many that I was almost put off by the possibility of watching another. I love Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War (2016), but I was unsure if he could pull off a solo movie. The conclusion, that he can indeed do so. Not only did he pull it off but Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) actually re-awoke my love for Marvel films.

I grew up with Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in the original trilogy (2002 – 2007) which ended ultimately when he did that horrendous dance. No matter how bad the third film was, he was still my Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) starring Andrew Garfield was admirable enough but it isn’t a film I’d want to watch again. Despite the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films not being Amazing, they are still recent enough to question why we need another Spider-Man film? I of course thought, in my cynical ways, that it’s all just for Marvel Universe to rake up more money on an unnecessary film. That of course true, the film is an excellent example of how to do a smart solo superhero movie in 2017.

Tom Holland showcased a little bit of Spider-Man in the latest Captain America film and showed only a brief part of his character. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, he shows Peter Parker, the dorky genius struggling as a young man as he grapples everyday problems with his extraordinary ones. The film shows his journey from meeting Tony Stark and the Avengers, to him becoming his own identity and learning about his true strength within. It sounds cheesy and cliche but it actually fits within the film. Michael Keaton plays the villain, who is like a Tony Stark but a more self-made street version. Robert Downey Jr makes a large appearance as Iron Man, who plays his mentor and helps him throughout the film. Of course, Downey Jr is brilliant because he is Tony Stark. Happy, played by Jon Favreau, plays a big chunk in this film as he is Parker’s link to Stark and whilst he initially acts as he always in his usual defensive manner, later on in the film we see Happy with more heart and more of an actual human and not a cardboard character. The guy who steals it for me, is Parker’s best friend, Jacob Batalon who plays Ned. He was the comic relief but he also was a great partner to helping Parker. The rest of the cast were great but nothing spectacular. I loved the cameo from Captain America himself in training videos for schools and the cameo from Pepper Potts really made the film feel like a proper Marvel movie. Spider-Man: Homecoming felt more like Iron Man (2008) rather than Iron Man 2 (2010) and 3 (2013), as it felt like a solid solo movie and not just a franchise grabber.

The initial writers of the film, were of course the writers behind Horrible Bosses (2011), therefore neither of them are generic overpaid Hollywood writers. This meant that the film began with more of an underdog beginning, but meant that the magnificence of the film is a welcome surprise. The director of the film, Jon Watts, is a fresh director who only began his career a few years ago and this is his first big film. The film feels more like a James Gunn superhero film rather than like the Russo brothers or Joss Whedon. Spider-man: Homecoming reminds me more of Super (2010) mixed with the wit of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). The soundtrack added to the almost indie superhero feeling, with punk rock and the original Spider-man theme played in a nostalgic way.

The end credits nod to the Sinister Six makes the film feel more like a Spider-Man universe rather than just a Marvel one. The end credits made me excited for another Spider-Man film, not another Avengers movie. I’m not excited for the next Avengers movie for many reasons, but seeing more of Tom Holland as Spider-Man makes the chaos of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) exciting. Reasons to see this film; infinite.