Tuesday, 26 February 2013

You Should be Watching: House of Cards

In a world where cards are held against chests, it’s all about deceiving others. Bluffing, lying, cheating are all a part of the game in politics. Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is the man who will do anything to get his way after not being unexpectedly passed over for secretary of state. In the series’ first scene Kevin Spacey commits a horrific act whilst looking straight at the camera, proposing that he’s a man who will do anything necessary; all the while doing this divisive act he soliloquises the moment, seeing suffering as pointless and the weak let it happen. His character is an instantly gripping anti-hero weaved into a plot to get to the top of Capitol Hill; deceiving everyone, playing to everyone’s personality traits wickedly, manipulating his way to the top.


Sunday, 24 February 2013

My Predictions for the 2013 Oscars and the Introduction of the Nozzers

Obviously everyone's chiming in with their own article on the Oscars but I feel like sharing mine as well. I've seen the 9 Best Picture nominations but, unfortunately, haven't seen all of the documentaries, animated films, shorts nor the foreign films yet. For now, I'll glaze over those with a fairly bandwagon approach to them but to the others I'll be putting what I think I will win and my personal preferences on who should win out of all the categories and what I'm calling: The Nozzers. Here's to the 85th Academy Awards and hopefully Seth MacFarlane rips shit up. For the record, there are some better contenders out there but that's another story for another time.

Regardless, they're nominated, it's happening, people will win, people will lose. David O Russell has now been practicing his graceful look after his face of shock at Lawrence's loss. At least it wasn't another I Heart Huckabees moment. Let's hope there are none like that and it's a good programme. My alternate award will be called the Nozzer because my surname is Norris and it sounds hideously hilarious. Welcome to the Nozzers!

Visual Effects
It's a difficult one to call, I think Life of Pi will win but when it's up against Marvel's The Avengers and Prometheus it's whether it's deserving enough or not. I can only really see Life of Pi win it as it has more than just the technical nominations to back it up. The other two I've named are definitely worthy of it. I think The Avengers pips them all but I will always stand by Prometheus's visuals because I found them outstanding. The moment Michael Fassbender's David walks into the middle of the holograms is fantastic. Life of Pi has taken these awards in the run up too meaning the Academy will be pretty easy to predict here.
The Oscar goes to... Life of Pi
The Nozzer goes to... Marvel's The Avengers

Best Adapted Screenplay
A strong category with a few good ideas. Personally I see Silver Linings Playbook clinching this one. It's taken the BAFTA for it and I feel it'll take it here tonight. It's - to use a cliché - a dark horse in this year considering it's had some good back up nominations. It's what I'd like to see winning it too as I'm a fan of the film. The Independent Big Spirit has not boosted their chances but shown its recognition. Life of Pi was called the "unadapatable" book which could push the Academy towards thinking it was a brilliant achievement.
The Oscar goes to... Silver Linings Playbook
The Nozzer goes to... Silver Linings Playbook

Best Original Screenplay
Everyone seems to have something against Mark Boal's screenplay being called original. I don't understand that at all, it's his own work so it is original, the complete passover of it is a bit of a shock. Unfortunately, I think the Academy might ignore it. Instead there's only one screenplay that can take it because it deserves it and has won most of the awards: Django Unchained. I can't wait for the song to play while Tarantino walks up for it. An eccentric character himself, his breathy acceptance speech will hopefully be a bit funny and not too much about his divine powers and gift from God. Amour and Moonrise Kingdom are good screenplays too so I wouldn't be too displeased if either of those won. Also, where the hell is Sound of my Voice?
The Oscar goes to... Django Unchained
The Nozzer goes to... Django Unchained

Music - Original Song
Skyfall. Suddenly being nominated is a bit stupid. Ted being nominated is legendary. It can now do the whole PR advertising of "Oscar nominated" to the masses.
The Oscar goes to... Skyfall
The Nozzer goes to... Ted

Music - Original Score
There have been a few great scores that have been nominated and some great which were unnominated. Argo's music brilliantly amped up the suspense to make it painfully tense. All of the music seemed to fit the film making you sit back until you heard a note that lifted you to the edge. Life of Pi's big score was nicely resonant but it won't steamroll everything. It'll already have all the technical awards. Lincoln's score was one that had perfect emotional cues and the one that most people will notice. I can't look past it.
The Oscar goes to... Lincoln
The Nozzer goes to... Lincoln

Animated Feature Film
They love Pixar. That's it really. Brave has got it with a slight chance for Wreck-It Ralph.
The Oscar goes to... Brave
The Nozzer goes to... Wreck-It Ralph

Don't think any of the other contenders have won in the run up. Then again the best don't always win either. The Tree of Life had the best cinematography of that year but wasn't even nominated. No point crying over it though but the Academy aren't going to look past a slice of Pi for this one. Roger Deakins is all I have to say.
The Oscar goes to... Life of Pi
The Nozzer goes to... Skyfall

Actress in a Supporting Role
May as well even skip the whole fake tension as the envelope is opened by stamping it with Hathaway. She's got it. Jacki Weaver's nomination is still baffling to me. I even liked the film but it wasn't that notable of a performance, plenty of others out there that should've had it like Brit Marling.
The Oscar goes to... Anne Hathaway
The Nozzer goes to... Anne Hathaway

Actor in a Supporting Role
Such a strong category. Alan Arkin is an honorary nomination, again, he is great in Argo but the category's too strong for him. Everyone expected Lincoln to lap them up but I don't see it happening. Tommy Lee Jones was great in Lincoln but not as great as Hoffman. In fact, was anyone as good as Hoffman? Maybe only Christoph Waltz. It's a tough decision to call the Academy and a tougher for me to decide. Both superb, both deserving. Hopefully it'll end in a fight to the death on stage where the winner is handed the Oscar to put the opponent of his misery. I call Waltz to win that fight.
The Oscar goes to... Christoph Waltz
The Nozzer goes to... Christoph Waltz

Actress in a Lead Role
It's her birthday! You have to go give it to her! She's the oldest actress to be nominated and deserves the past three decades worth of Oscars for her role in Amour. It'd be unfair for her to lose really but she just might. The boost at the BAFTA baffled me and I'm glad she won it but unfortunately it seems Jennifer Lawrence has it in the bag. Riva will unfairly miss out on it which is a shame. Again, another strong category. This makes me feel all fuzzy.
The Oscar goes to... Jennifer Lawrence
The Nozzer goes to... Emmanuelle Riva

Actor in a Leading Role
Unrecognisable in this role. Impossible to sometimes tell if it's the same person. We need a DNA sample because Daniel Day-Lewis somehow changes in all of his films. He's won most on the way to the Oscars, his portrayal is magnificent , he's got it already. Joaquin Phoenix in The Master was terrifying in The Master and if it somehow skips DDL (HA!) then it'd have to go to him. That's not how it goes but D-Day has got it.
The whole R-Pattz, K-Stew, J-Law etc. thing doesn't really work with Daniel Day-Lewis...
The Oscar goes to... Daniel Day-Lewis
The Nozzer goes to... Daniel Day-Lewis

The big thing here is that Ben Affleck was left out - snubbed seems too malicious of a word. That was until Argo started winning everything and everyone turned cynical about the film. Now everyone is supporting the underdogs for some reason. Everyone expected a Lincoln steamroll all the way but Argo has taken most of the awards away from it surprising everyone. Affleck, though, not in this category it's split between three people for me. Benh Zeitlin was an honorary nomination - a deserved one at that. Michael Haneke was there because I've not seen anyone say anything negative about Amour but - again, like Zeitlin - he's not going to win the award. It's between Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg and David O Russell and I, against the grain sort of, don't expect Spielberg to be up there again. It's between Russell and Lee for this, Lee had the vision to adapt that book but Russell is lingering on the outside waiting to grip this award and the Best Picture one. Silver Linings Playbook and Beasts of the Southern Wild are splitting this category for me because they are both wonderfully directed films.  David O Russell gets mine because of his back catalogue of films. He deserves recognition because The Fighter was fantastic and saw barely anything too. David O Russell is a marvellous director.
The Oscar goes to... Ang Lee
The Nozzer goes to... David O Russell

Best Picture
Eight worthy contenders and Les Misérables. Les Mis only deserves Hathaway's nomination and maybe Jackman's. It shouldn't be in this list. There are many better, many more deserving than Les Mis to add to this list. Win some, lose some. The Master wasn't nominated but Les Mis being nominated is a travesty. I don't understand how they could not nominate The Master but nominate such an overhyped piece. Regardless, any of the others winning and I'd be pretty happy. My top 4 is Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Argo and Django Unchained. Judging which way the Academy go is proving problematic. They nominated Argo for Best Picture but not Affleck for Best Director. Out of 84 Best Picture winners, 62 of them have won Best Director (like Hooper and The King's Speech for some reason) so Argo is at a massive disadvantage in the usual Oscar statistics. If there's any film to win Best Picture without the director then it's going to be Argo but I think Silver Linings Playbook could steal it. Lincoln is everyone's front-runner but as I've chosen Ang Lee to win for Life of Pi then, by statistics, he should win this category as well. It's a divisive category. It's difficult to choose and one that I'll probably end up kicking myself for.
The Oscar goes to... Argo
The Nozzer goes to... Silver Linings Playbook

We've reached the final! Now in BAFTA fashion, it's time to cover the technical awards like an after-thought - for the record, I don't believe that, they deserve as much recognition as the other categories but I'm running this a bit long so I apologise for doing it like this.

The Oscars will go to...

Sound Editing: Life of Pi
Sound Mixing: Life of Pi
Production Design: Les Misérables
Makeup and Hairstyling: Les Misérables
Foreign Language Film: Amour - I haven't seen enough of them to give a Nozzer.
Film Editing: Argo
Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man - The Invisible War needs a bigger audience, important.
Costume Design: Les Misérables

Thank you for reading this and getting this far and here's to a good Oscars filled with brilliant jokes by Seth MacFarlane. I don't want to have to erase this from the Internet for getting it horribly wrong so please be gentle with me. Hopefully I'm correct in my choices, hopefully the Nozzer winners come to my house to make their acceptance speech while the kettle boils. Hopefully, we all enjoy the programme, realise the awards doesn't demean our favourite films, take them in good spirit. Also, we get to have another good year in film with many deserving nominations. Monday is going to be hell for all of us who stay up to watch but hopefully this'll make you feel better about your Monday: I'm going to be running around a woods because I've got to act in a short film for my course this week. Yay Mondays!

Follow me on Twitter @ashleyrhys for my live tweets and general annoyance if you want to join in.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Silent Hill: Revelation Blu-ray Review

Suffering from problems with the running time, trite dialogue and scenes of little consequence stuck together by incoherence and ambiguity Silent Hill was far from a masterpiece. It did, however, have a number of good ideas and the potential to build on them with this sequel.
Silent Hill: Revelation fixes the running time by making it half an hour shorter, there is less pointless running about, and thankfully there is less ambiguity in the narrative. The ending is still vague and smug but there are bigger problems ahead. The dialogue is far worse in this film than its predecessor and this leads to moments that are downright confusing and unnecessarily complicated. Responding to overwhelming terror the dialogue becomes idiotic, overly expositional and completely unnatural. It’s horrendous, like a bad translation.

Monday, 18 February 2013


Filmmaking is something that's always interested me but never been something I've really wanted to do. I love films, I love watching films, I love analysing films, I love criticising films. I thought that was the main part of films that I'd love but as my course goes on and on, I find myself loving making films more and more. A rare thing to love something so much that's so creative and that I watch through my fingers while it's on the screen. It's an odd thrill of excitement, pride and embarrassment. Amateur productions rarely go the way you want them to and one of mine last semester had to have some major changes which ended up making it not as great as I hoped - as well as a bad song and a couple of bad shots. Either way, it got a high 2.1 which is obviously good.

Now this semester, instead of just making one short film, I have to make seven. In fact, I have to make seven in seven weeks. In a group of six, we're briefed on the Friday to shoot a film on the Monday edit within the week so it's ready for a screening session on the Friday. Now, the problem with this is there's no preparation as we're given it on the Friday and we have to wing it meaning we don't get to properly prepare. Although, I have to say, I've been quite lucky. I've moved to a group that works well together and we've made some films that, in my opinion, haven't been terrible - especially considering the short amount of time we have. Some have had really good parts but obviously there are negatives.

It's teaching me a lot about filmmaking, things I didn't even know. It's made me analyse in a different way when I'm in the editing suite. You have to try to make it flowing and not have shots jump or to have bad continuity and so on. Little things need the most attention. I'm, oddly, loving it though. I clench, I tense, I blush, I burn red with embarrassment at times but at others I look back and feel quite proud of what was accomplished and love doing the work. It's something that's spurring me on to want to do more. It's spurring me on to make something of myself. Or make something myself. It's making me want to become a part of the filmmaking side of things as well as the criticism side of it. I never expected that. Now I have a decision.

This is a check-in and a ramble. Tomorrow I'll be acting for the first time in the group's video as we have to switch around roles and what not. I had to act in my project last semester too and although I wouldn't say I'm an horrific actor - I can lie pretty well which is what it is - I was in that when I hadn't slept that night because I'm an idiot. But that went well. I did some Fincher angles cinematography wise which my marker said had cinematic moments. Now that made me feel good. The only thing left to learn is to edit. Avid you are on my list. All in all, all is well and good. I'm averaging a mid-to-high 2.1 for last semester and I'm determined to win an award at the end of semester and make a short film that I can look at it without nitpicking too many problems. Films are the fucking best.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Detachment Blu-ray Review

It’s weird seeing a follow-up from a director who has made such a classic film yet nothing since. It’s even more weird that the film, American History X, isn’t something he’s proud of and tried to change his name to Humpty Dumpty on it. Odd, still, that Detachment, the new film from Tony Kaye, went pretty much unnoticed after festivals and went, instead, released to On Demand services and disappointing considering the talent within the film alone and the fact that it is, quite frankly, pretty brilliant. A film so packed with acting talent, melodramatic story, great music and hit-and-miss direction means that you have something of a separation with the audiences.


Monday, 4 February 2013

The Fall of the Essex Boys Review

The Fall of the Essex Boys takes us back to Rettendon for another take on the triple murder of drug dealers. It may sound very familiar but, for once, it isn’t. It isn’t a standard British gangster flick that glamorises the murderers, the drug lords, the psychopaths, but instead shows them in the light they truly deserve, showing you the dark, dirty-handed ways that they didn’t even think was wrong nor care about. They were dirty psychopaths that would injure, hurt or kill anyone to get what they wanted without even a hesitation. A generation so disturbing that one of them stabs a man for flirting with his girlfriend. A truly scary look into the thoughts of some of the most messed up people that could roam around freely, causing as much havoc as possible.


Nick Neveren Interview

 Soon up there’s a Brit gangster flick that revisits Rettendon’s infamous triple murder of drug dealers. Don’t be concerned that this tale is too old as, for once, this takes it away from the just the gangsters and adds the police and shows the true nature of bullying thugs. We luckily had the chance to talk to actor, director and writer Nick Nevern (The Sweeney, Terry) who plays Danny Nicholls, the police’s grass. Almost a common face of the British indie. We talk to him about The Fall of the Essex Boys, the Rettendon murders and the rich hunting the poor.