Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Look at My 2013 in Film

A Look at My 2013 in Film

Warning: this will be a personal blog post so expect a lot of Is, mes and whatnot.

Now, I'm not one to get overly sentimental or soppy - especially in a public space - but I feel that I have to acknowledge some of the moments from the past year. Tomorrow will be another day and not much will change but it is the end of a year which is cause enough to look over it, see the positives, the negatives and even work out goals or targets for the next year. Not New Year resolutions which are cheap and cheerful gimmicks that aren't followed through with, like going to the gym more, quitting smoking or starting volunteering. Those typical things are usually never reached but I have film related goals that I'd like to achieve because I feel this was my biggest year for writing so far.
That's mainly thanks to Howard Gorman of Cinema Chords and Comedy Chords. He and I worked incredibly hard together this year but him definitely more so than me. The man was a machine, arranging interviews, screenings and DVDs so that we had content for the site which he often didn't take - even people he would have loved to have interviewed. Howard is probably the main reason that my writing has grown so much this year and the reason that I got to do a lot of my personal highlights of the year. He's also the reason that I've moved a lot more into the horror genre because he's quite frankly seen them all. Pointing towards some incredible indie stuff that most people have never heard of that is fantastic to watch. Regardless, I owe him a lot and forever will because he has helped make this year incredibly special and productive. I would have otherwise wasted it on nothing.  

There's of course thanks to Christopher Misch from Next Projection who has done amazing stuff with the site and I'm happy to be involved with them, especially the talent that they have on board. Thanks to him I've seen many films that I would not have seen or even heard of especially Spring in a Small Town which was the most surprising of all the ones shown. I even got to write about home invasions and have received many films that are still in desperate need of review - a January target to complete!

Another thank you to Jon and Dave of HeyUGuys fame for allowing me to put my work on their outlet which gives me much needed exposure. Here's to hoping I continually add in 2014 and the site grows even more than it already has. 

My year in numbers
Let's get down to the numbers, the statistics of my year which have been greater than any previous year thanks to my productivity and focus.

In terms of writing, this year I wrote 111 published articles (112 if you include this one) which is incredible! That's 9.416 (reoccurring 6) articles per month and that's with a few unpublished saved in drafts, a few interviews I have yet to transcribe (which is my fault) and a massive foot off the pedal which happened to me since getting back to university. That is something that I am disappointed in but I made myself more social at the expense of my bank. I'm hoping to learn to balance it more in the coming year. If we assume the average article is 1000 words (reviews were usually 600-1000 and interviews varied from 2000 to 8000) then that's 112,000 words written simply outside of university. It's quite possible that it's upwards of 150,000 because the average is probably higher than 1000.

Personal Highlights
There are many highlights to take from this year. The majority of articles I've written I've gotten a great response, much more so than usual and my Twitter following has grown so that my work now gets much more exposure. I've branched out into Yahoo! Movies too but I will hopefully be looking for more publications soon - especially in print as that's somewhere I'm lacking. Below though are some highlights of the year and my favourite articles of the year.

My 2013 Oscar Prediction and The Nozzers - 17/21 correct, all the big four correct
Paul Hyett Interview - Part 1 and Part 2 - Important to me as we've remained friends
Nicolas Winding Refn Interview - although it may not be the conversation I hoped for, it was still a chance to speak to a director I admire and the director of my second favourite film of all time.
James Wan: A Retrospective - a piece that allowed me to look at all the work of a promising director who is becoming one of my favourites.
Aaron Guzikowski Interview - which ended up being my favourite film of the year.
Gareth Evans Interview - one of my favourite films of 2012 and an inspiration as he's Welsh and from around where I lived yet still made it.
Films watched: 321 (will be 323 or 324 as I'm off to the cinema after posting this)
2013 films: 91 (will be 93/94)
Films seen in the cinema: 52 (54) - I saw Die Hard, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

If we take the average as 2 hours in length that's 641 hours of films this year. 182 of which was in the cinema without trailers, adverts and Kevin Bacon. That's right, I've seen the Kevin Bacon advert 50 times this year (I know this because once it didn't show on one of my matinee days and I was overjoyed). That's 2 and half minutes 50 times that I won't ever get back, 125 minutes! 2 hours of the same advert. Ouch! There's say 10 minutes of trailers in those films so that's 500 minutes of trailers in the cinema alone, that is 8.3 hours. I don't want to calculate the adverts outside of that or it will make me very, very upset.

TV series watched:
CSI                                                         9 seasons
The Office                                           7 seasons (x5) = 35 seasons
                                                                season 8 and 9 = 37 seasons
Breaking Bad                                     2 seasons
Parks and Recreation                     5 seasons
Futurama                                            3 seasons
Family Guy                                         3 seasons
It's Always Sunny...                        3 seasons
House of Cards                                 1 season
The Big Bang Theory                      2 seasons
Friends                                                 10 seasons
Orange is the New Black              1 season
The Walking Dead                          1 season
Louie                                                     1 season
Hannibal                                             1 season
Arrested Development                  4 seasons
American Dad!                                                 4 seasons
How I Met Your Mother                8 seasons
Freaks and Geeks                            1 season
Peep Show                                          2 seasons
The IT Crowd                                      3 seasons
Phoenix Nights                                 2 seasons (x4) = 8 seasons
Top Gear                                             1 season

Overall:                                                110 seasons

If we average it to 14 episodes (since they range from 26 episode series to 6 episode ones) then that's 1540 episodes of television watched this year. If we average them to 30 minute episodes - since they vary from 20 to 60 - then that's 46,200 minutes which is 770 hours. That's pretty impressive... or excessive. Regardless, it's great to put on to watch all the way through as it's something you can leave, there's less dedication than to a film. Also I work around it if I'm rewatching something.

I also made 7 short films, two of which I wrote and I wrote an extra short I wanted to film in my spare time and shall be doing in the January period as I have no exams. I started on a few features, written an entire outline of a story  that could either be a screenplay or a novel (but I won't be doing that for a while, not until I've travelled enough) and wanted to attend several film festivals that finances stopped me from doing so.

2014 Targets

  • To write a full length screenplay - at least one.
  • To film a few short films.
  • Learn how to edit properly, not shabbily. 
  • Write consistently the same amount - if not more.
  • Watch even more films.
  • Work my way through the IMDb 250 and Empire 500. 
  • Attend a film festival. 
  • Save up money for after university. 
  • Try to get more paid work. 
  • Read a lot more than I have. 
I'm sure I'll add to these but that's all I have for now as I have to leave for the year. That joke will never get old! I just wanted to make a post thanking everyone, summing up my year and maybe make it a bit interesting to the few that will read it. I hope that it's an interesting read and you feel incredibly sorry for me for the amount of times I've seen Kevin Bacon plug EE.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Porco Rosso Review

My Porco Rosso review which was originally for Next Projection.

Studio Ghibli is renowned for its crazy yet captivating stories that spin everything on its head, creating entire playful, intricate universes for each of their stories, only linked by their visual style and thematic attachment to innocence. Porco Rosso is much the same in the canon but where the others promote strong female characters that aren't traditional, this is lead by a anthropomorphic pig pilot who fights air pirates that threaten the sea and air, and is sometimes a bit uncomfortable to the women of the story. Many moments revolve around Fio's "bum" which is "bigger-than-it-looks", feeling uncomfortably sexualised, as Porco says that them alone on an island isn't safe because he's a man which hints towards rape and also by her being ashamed of her gender and youth. Whether it's all purposeful because of its 1930 period setting is another thing but it may be ignorance or just downright offensive, causing the audience to waver; it's uncomfortable, unexpected. 

Usually the Disney dubs of Studio Ghibli's work are excellent and provided by an array of great actors but unfortunately Porco Rosso isn't one of them. Michael Keaton steps into the shoes of Porco but sounds monotonous and bored for the entirety of the script, reading the dialogue lethargically. Susan Egan is great as usual but it seems like she's the only one trying in the dubbed but the subtitled version is definitely more recommended here. There also seems to be messing with dialogue which changes characters' intentions and their back stories which is unusual for dubbing, it makes the film come across much worse so definitely check out the subtitled version instead. 

Porco is a bounty hunter pilot who is trying to make a living alone to keep himself in the air as much as possible. He's also a cursed man who's doomed to look like a pig but a lot of the time refuses to ever sink to his animal's looks. Around the Adriatic sea, he defends ships from pirates while earning himself a fee - sometimes keeping a bit too much of what he recovers. There are many beautiful moments in it, it oddly plays out much more lucidly than some of Miyazaki's other work - even though it's about a pig-man. Thematically it seems a bit more bare than Miyazaki's other work, perhaps because its narrative is more of a concrete construction; there are moments of thematic beauty that come from questions of death alongside the typical innocence of children but it feels fewer than his other work. 

Beyond Ghibli's impressive catalogue of work, this falls more into the average side of their output because of its odd disapproval of women in it. Intentional or not, it feels more uncomfortable, rarely proving that is an actual statement on views on women rather than their views on women. It seems to think it makes it acceptable for the comments to be made by making the woman not that bad at engineering actually, impressing the misogynistic pirates with her engineering work. The other female character, Gina, is as well passed off as a woman who could have any man and thus requires one, whether it Curtiss or Porco. Fio is rarely a woman of herself either by admitting that her gender is a problem, especially for her career aspirations, being proposed to straight away by Curtiss like some sort of arrangement. Miyazaki can make any visual beautiful, creating depths in the air and the sea, providing some detailed, beautiful visuals alongside a bizarrely entertaining yet more blunt narrative. Its potential sexism and views on women - good intentions or not - sours the entire experience of a film stunningly drawn and with some interesting takes on religion, life, death and innocence. 


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Almost the End of the Year

Hello there, I realise that I'm apologising for the lack of posts for the third time but currently I've been doing essays and getting merry most nights rather than doing writing. It's quite nice not to have to do some writing for a while but that'll be back soon when I write a Porco Russo review for Next Projection and plenty of end of the year features to be done too! I'll be trying to round out my top 10 for the year as well as posting my year in numbers which will be oddly fun and interesting... for me. Then I'll be on the awards season hype as will everyone else and trying to break my record of 17 of 21 Oscar predictions and maybe even putting money on it. I may recommend you do the same but I'll probably be sued if I suggested such a thing! Especially with such a competitive year.

I got my first essay mark back for classical Hollywood cinema in which I only got a 68 (a 2:1), it's painfully close to a first! It's also annoying because I can see the errors in it now, I can see the problems and the reason I didn't get a first. Had I ditched a paragraph I feel it would've shot up to a 74 but that's all my fault. Regardless, 68 isn't too bad, I will do better for the two 3000 word essays due early January by ferociously reading everything in the university library. Maybe I'll get my first. Probably not but there you go.

Regardless, I just wanted to post a tiny update before I post some more. Adios.