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Exit Through the Gift Shop Released 2010

The master of conjuring up public discussion and debate, Banksy doesn’t disappoint. Exit Through the Gift Shop is an account of the life of Thierry Guetta, a French filmmaker who becomes entranced by the world of street art. His obsession leads him to working with some of the big names in the industry such as Invader and Shepard Fairey, following them around at night when they are creating their work, documenting every moment on film. Rapidly his tape collection grows, as does his desire to meet the top name in the business, Banksy. Finally his dream comes true as by chance he is hooked up with him and continues to work with the anonymous artist. Guetta later becomes involved in the 6

business himself under the name of ‘Mr Brainwash’ and much to the others annoyance becomes highly successful selling his work for thousands. It is filmed in a documentary style with the artists involved, including the disguised Banksy, giving their recollection of the events that took place. Not only is Exit Through the Gift Shop filled with hilarious one-liners from Banksy but it also introduces the audience to the culture of street art and the skill involved, although this is questioned throughout by the analogy of Mr Brainwash. Despite the masked face and altered voice, after


years of being completely personalityless, Banksy is finally shown as an individual, ‘real’ person, with his sense of humour being not only displayed through his voiceovers but also through the plot and direction of the film itself. Brilliant publicity for not only Banksy himself, with him coming across a likeable character, who is easily warmed to with his humble attitude about the work he produces, but for street art itself. Packed with real footage of what art goes on at night in worldwide cities, the documentary manages to accurately put across why people get involved with street art and crushes any skeptics without turning it into an hour long lecture, the images speak for themselves. Of course no Banksy piece comes without room for debate 8

and this is no exception. The questions surrounding the authenticity of Mr Brainwash came through fast. Some described it as a ‘mockumentary’, it all being a grand hoax used in order to mock the money making business of the art industry and lack of originality within modern art. Thierry Guetta symbolizing the ordinary man who too believes they can crack the art world just by copying the work of others. Whether it was all a hoax or if Guetta and Mr Brainwash really do exist, it doesn’t matter because Banksy achieved what he wanted, to once again spark debate and controversy whilst presenting his message at the same time. It is a cleverly crafted piece of film, with the audience being drawn into this somewhat unreported world of

street art from the very beginning, watching everything spiral out of control. Whether you are a fan of this modern art form or not quite understanding the hype behind it, Exit Through the Gift Shop is well worth the watch. Not only do you feel as if you’ve personally tapped into a world that is so far away from the 9-5 job lifestyle, but is an interesting story about ambition and greed. If you choose to watch it as a documentary or a mockumentary it doesn’t matter, Banksy has managed to produced a thought-provoking entertaining film for the masses.

4 out of 5 9

Director: Banksy Starring: Banksy, Space Invader and Mr. Brainwash Trivia:

The New York Times movie reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis coined a new term for this kind of film: prankumentary.

Die Hard 1-4

Witty, action packed and plain cool. With a 5th installment planned for 2013, we look back at the franchise so far. 10


Die Hard Released 1998 Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) leaves New York to spend Christmas with his family in LA. However, soon after arriving at his wife’s work, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) takes over the building with a group of terrorists and seals off all contact with the outside world. Holding the workers hostage, he plans to steal $640 million stored in the buildings vault. McClane manages to get into maintenance areas of the building and tries to alert the police about the situation. The police, apart from Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), are useless. This is Bruce Willis at his very best. 12

5 out of 5

He is the epitome of cool. He has the pout, the never ending ammo and the ability to talk coherently with a cigarette perched between his teeth. Action-wise, this movie is outstanding. It is the perfect genre film. If you were introducing someone to action, start here. Something I’ll refer to a lot is Die Hard Science. It is essentially the science that exists in the world of Die Hard, but not in reality. For example, one man may be shot in the head and just crumple, another’s head may explode. Rickman was also superb. He’s such a perfect antagonist. He’s

Director: John McTiernan Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and Bonnie Bedelia Trivia:

Richard Gere was considered for the role of John McClane

creepy but isn’t aggressive unless he really needs to be. He’s menacing and powerful without being loud or violent. One thing that is particularly great about this movie is the location. Despite the film only taking place in one building, this is a forty story building; there’s more room in a forty story building than in a wood. This allows for the sense of claustrophobia, but still has the ability to create grand scale action. Bombs, tanks and abseiling with a hose pipe — this movie had it all. 13

Die Hard 2 Released 1998 John McClane, once again wishing to spend Christmas with his wife, is waiting for her plane at the airport when he notices some suspicious behavior. Upon investigating, he gets shot at, destroys a mans head, and almost gets arrested. The complete lack of help from airport security leads him to turn to his old pal Al Powell (via a new creation called ‘a fax machine’) who informs him that one of the men that shot at him, was dead according to records. Somethings afoot. Cue evil plan to keep plane’s circling until the demands of the terrorists’ have been met, despite all aircraft being low on 14

3 out of 5

fuel. Oh, they also take over all the planes’ computers and communication so that they can crash them at their will. McClane steps into save the day. Once again, Willis proves that he is the coolest man alive. More pouting whilst shooting, more talking with a cigarette, and more throwing metal painting towers over. He even plays chicken with a plane! Once again, he’s helped out by a friendly black guy, Leslie Barnes (Art Evans), who is great fun. Exactly what John McClane needs, a wise cracking, good willed, black guy that stands

Director: Renny Harlin Starring: Bruce Willis, William Atherton and Bonnie Bedelia Trivia: This is Bruce Willis’s least favorite film of the “Die Hard” series.

up to his superiors in order to help McClane. And the antagonists of this film are brilliant. I don’t just mean the outstanding Col. Stuart (William Sadler), I also mean the not-quitebaddies-but-you-really-want-topunch-them baddies. This includes Capt. Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz), in charge of airport security who tries to over power McClane at every turn and, reprising his roll as the selfish and ignorant journalist, William Atherton is brilliant as Richard Thornburg. This is a typical sequel. It’s bigger and more ridiculous. That Die Hard Science we mentioned earlier plays a huge part 15

in this film. Plane’s crash, with no fuel, and yet explode into an unbelievable fireball. The brilliant aiming of the bad guys suddenly disappears when they shoot at McClane. Several planes can fit onto a very small runway despite it being covered completely in snow. This film does require complete suspension of disbelief. That being said, it’s still great fun and 100% worth watching, especially with a good crowd of friends. It’s a bit sillier, a lot bigger, and twice as action packed, with twice as many plot twists.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance Released 1995 Five years after the second Die Hard was released, a third installment came out. Then it’d be another 12 years before we’d see anything Die Hard related in the cinemas. How did they keep a franchise going despite the massive gap in time? How did they adjust? Lets have a look, starting with Die Hard: With A Vengeance. John McClane, (Willis) now almost a full-blown alcoholic, is on suspension from the NYPD. However, when a bomb goes off in a department store and the police are stuck for answers, a mysterious man named Simon 16

4 out of 5

(Jeremy Irons/ Graham Greene) phones and asks for McClane. He states that if the police want answers, McClane has to complete the tasks Simon tells him to. Task one: Wearing a rather offensive sign in the rough part of town. Fortunately for McClane, Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) steps in to protect him from a group of thugs. Not so fortunately for Zeus, this means he is now involved in Simon’s games. Simon gets McClane and Zeus to run around town trying to stop bombs that he has rigged. However, Simon is planning a little more than he’s letting on. By adopting a slightly

Director: John McTiernan Starring: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons and Samuel L. Jackson Trivia:

Although Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson had both appeared in Loaded Weapon 1 and Pulp Fiction, this is the first movie where the two appear on-screen together.

more I-don’t-care attitude, Willis provides a better performance than his second outing as the character. He brings the same wit that he’s brought for the first two movies but this time they it comes with a fresh dowsing of pessimism. However, the stand out performance of the movie comes from Jackson as Zeus. The antagonists, Jeremy Irons and Graham Greene are superbly dark and smart. Their plots provide more twists than either of the first two movies and they create such a tense atmosphere which makes the film extremely exciting. The Die Hard science begins to get a little bit 17

out of control in this movie. There’s ridiculously high and yet survivable falls, surfing on giant dump trucks, and goons with even worse aim than ever before. But all of this only helps to make the movie all the more fun to watch. My least favourite aspect of the movie is not the slowly sinking realism but the incredibly annoying choice of music. Throughout dramatic moments of the movie, we are treated to an instrumental version of ‘The animals went in two by two hurrah hurrah’. (Technically known as When Johnny Comes Marching Home). Something about it doesn’t fit.

Die Hard 4.0 Released 2007 So the plot of the last movie is slightly more nerdy than the others. This time, the terrorists are hackers and they’re developing a system that can systematically shut down the entirety of the United States, one bit at a time. McClane (Willis) gets involved after he is sent to bring internet hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to Washington. Soon after he arrives at Matt’s apartment though, unknown assailents begin shooting at Matt and McClane. After getting him out safely, McClane turns to Matt to gain some insight from his hacking knowledge and together they plan to bring down 18

3 out of 5

mastermind Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his assistant Mai Linh (Maggie Q). Unfortunately for McClane (and in some ways, fortunate for Farrell), Lucy Gennaro McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), John’s daughter, gets caught up the whole ordeal and despite her disliking of her father and his attitudes to things, she relies and trusts in him to stop the terrorists. In the twelve years that John was absent from our cinema screens, a lot changed in his life. He lost all his hair, stopped talking to his ex wife and daughters, became a much angrier

Director: John McTiernan Starring: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons and Samuel L. Jackson Trivia: This is Bruce Willis’s least favorite film of the “Die Hard” series.

and older man. Willis continues to develop and adapt the character we’ve grown to love but still sticks to his roots. The years have aged him, and he shows us that. Also a brilliant performance from Justin Long. Admittedly it’s a role that he plays more than any other, the awkward nerdy teenager. But the contrast between Willis and Long is so perfect it makes the movie great fun to watch.

super strength. Cars are driven into helicopters, people are run over but able to continue fighting and fighter jets will destroy half a city on a very vague order.

However, being a more modern movie, the special effects, camera work, and general appearance of the entire film is a league above the other three movies. Probably the most silly out of all four movies but also one of the Die Hard science goes to a whole new easiest to watch. There’s lots of action level in this movie. Death seems to and lots of explosions to keep your become a thing of the past, or at least eyes busy. all of the characters have developed 19

In-depth Film reviews

Twitter reviews by Simon Harrison


Tron Legacy

Sunset Blvd.

Like eating a coconut flavoured jelly bean when you were expecting toasted marshmallow. (I don’t like coconut)

Sublime yet disturbing.


The Avengers

Taken - Liam Neeson + Nicolas Cage = Stolen

An abundance of superheroes and one liners. Lacking in plot.


Seeking a friend for the end of the world

Good. Worth watching again.

Really long title. Average movie.


Tron Legacy

Sunset Blvd.

Like eating a coconut flavoured jelly bean when you were expecting toasted marshmallow. (I don’t like coconut)

Sublime yet disturbing.


The Avengers

Taken - Liam Neeson + Nicolas Cage = Stolen

An abundance of superheroes and one liners. Lacking in plot.


Seeking a friend for the end of the world

Good. Worth watching again.

Really long title. Average movie.




It’s 1927 in Hollywoodland. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a star actor of the silent movies. The camera loves him and the ladies love him. Along with his dog, Jack, he makes hit films and is always greeted by the press and a swarm of screaming ladies. One woman ends up being pushed past a policeman and into George Valentin just outside the theatre. He laughs it off and poses for the camera with his fan. The next day, the papers are covered with the question ‘Who is this girl?’ That girl is Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), aspiring actress. She auditions as a dancer soon after her encounter with Valentin and ends up on set with the man himself. A spark develops between the two but they end up going separate ways. Then the ‘talkies’ are introduced. Peppy Miller works her way up the silent trail and into talking movies. Valentin, however, claims that it’s a gimmick and fights to preserve his silent films. But what do the audience want?


The acting in this movie is some of the best I’ve seen for a long time. Both main characters are up for Oscar nominations and both are very worthy. While it could be argued that Bérénice Bejo deserves a Best Actress nomination rather than a Best Supporting Actress nomination, she has a far higher chance of winning in that category and she truly deserves high recognition. But Jean Dujardin really steals the show. Without any form of vocal expression, he shows every emotion and thought going through Valentin’s mind. his use of facial expression borders perfectly on exaggerated and realistic; it makes everything stand out more without seeming odd. He definitely has a very realistic chance of winning the Oscar. I can’t remember the last time I was so absorbed by a performance. Certainly


one of the most likeable characters in recent cinema with a brilliant character progression. Also, the dogs, Uggie, Dash, and Dude (mainly Uggie) were better performers than any of the cast of a Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movie. In fact, they were the best animal performers I’ve ever seen.


This movie should seem completely alien to contemporary cinema. Black and white, no sound, these sort of things evolved and became the cinema today. However, here we are with one of the most captivating films of recent years. Some part of this is due to the incredible score that acts adds character to the entire movie. It tells you

how to feel. It tells you how to respond. It touches your soul... (Too much?) Whether it uses cues from Vertigo’s soundtrack or not, it literally makes the movie, as, I suppose, all silent movies’ scores should. The delicate silence in certain moments when there is no tinkering piano are made all the more effective. Strangely enough, the rare use of sound in the movie, seem like the largest and most empty silences. It’s almost deafening. The camera work, at points, is absolutely incredible. From grand shots of theatres or stairways, to close, intimate shots of one the protagonists. It is also edited together wonderfully and includes some of the most surreal moments of film around.

A completely absorbing piece of cinema. From hilarious to heartbreaking, this film has it all. Some of the most talented actors, one of the most compelling scores, and one of the most well structured plots of recent years.

5 out of 5 27

Director: Michel Hazanavicius Starring: Jean Dujardin, BĂŠrĂŠnice Bejo and John Goodman Trivia:

Jean Dujardin said in an interview that the movie was shot in just 35 days.

Garden State Released 2004

The movie is a wonderful representation of life. A particular life, but a real one. Not all of us have millionaire friends who invented silent Velcro or go to parties where a lot of drugs are involved but we can appreciate what it be like if we did; this film is that life. The emotions are really felt and that can be put down to both the writing (we’ll talk about that in a bit) and the brilliant performances.When I first saw this movie, I had what I like to call a JD alarm on. Whenever Zach Braff acted like JD from Scrubs I would say, ‘beepbeepbeep.’ It happened once. This is a completely new direction (no pun intended) from the comedy TV star. Large is a completely different character from JD. He’s awkward, shy and afraid of the world. Until he meets 28

Sam. Like many movies, Portman’s performance is the backbone of the movie. Her characterisation of the hyper, enthusiastic and outgoing Sam is mesmerising to watch and almost inspiring. Her unique attitude to life is a joy to watch. Peter Sarsgaard also throws in a great performance as Mark, Large’s friend, who helps him to experience life more despite his friend, Tim (Jim Parsons) sleeping with his mother. Parsons, despite being on screen for less than ten minutes, helps to create one of the most amusing scenes in the movie as the Klingon speaking, fixed jousting champion and plain out right nerd ‘mummy’s boy’ as it were. This also leads to one of my


favourite lines in the movie: “Mark: The time as Large walks past, a totally motherfucker..” Large: “Pun intended?” white bedroom or even screaming into an infinite abyss. The range of different genres and styles of music The directorial debut from Braff and on the soundtrack is excellent and also written by the protagonist... includes such artists as Colin Hay and Based on his own experiences.... He Imogen Heap. Each song, hand picked appears in every scene. It should feel by Braff, is perfect for the situation a bit self involved but it doesn’t. It feels humble. The writing is incredible. they are placed in. And the occasional camera shot glimmers with brilliance The dialogue changes from terribly but unfortunately it doesn’t carry on awkward to exciting and uplifting all the time. without any difficulty or lack of confidence. One scene in particular While the majority of the plot is stands out as an example of this. The wonderfully written and, at times, first confrontation between Large brilliantly unique, the ending is and his father is so well written that, littered with cliches. While touching, when combined with Braff’s brilliant sweet and with occasionally original timing, the viewer feels awkward just watching it. Some wonderful touches dialogue, the concepts of the last scene are overplayed and over worn. make even the little things stand out Never set a romantic scene in an in Braff’s directorial style. Things like airport! Not unless you’re Up In The automatic taps turning on one at a 30

Air. I promise, we’ll have seen it before. My only other criticism is the acting of Ian Holm who plays Large’s father. His performance just seems a little hollow. Confrontations between Large and him are held up by Braff. It just seems like we should expect more from Bilbo Baggins, ya know? (But then again, Frodo was in Spy Kids 3-D so who am I to judge?) The film is hilarious, sad, touching, inspirational and moving. With laugh out loud moments and times to make you cry, there’s something for everyone. Some moments, in my mind, have become almost iconic.

4 out of 5 31

Director: Zach Braff Starring: Zach Braff, Natailie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard Trivia:

This was Zach Braff’s directorial debut.


Why aren’t funny movies considered great movies?

Comedy is one of the biggest genres in the world of film and has spawned almost every sub-genre possible. With more comedies than you can shake a stick at hitting the big screen every year for the last two or three decades, why do so few find spots on lists of the greatest movies? Is there really a difference between comedy and quality? 33

With Empire’s Top 50 Funniest, we began asking ourselves ‘Are these really considered the funniest movies ever?’ Despite the list being voted for by the readers, the comments section was full of negative statements. No Chaplin? No Keaton? Are the classics not as funny in today’s society as they once were? The point was raised that a great movie may not necessarily be the funniest. Take In Bruges as an example. It is recognised by critics worldwide as a masterpiece of modern cinema and black comedy. However, as the movie progresses, its tone becomes darker and more intense. Whilst not completely lacking in laughs, it is understandable that this would force it lower down the list than a movie that focuses entirely


on making its audience laugh such as There’s Something About Mary or Superbad. Surely this then raises a question: can a full scale comedy also be one of the greatest movies or does trying for laughs take some of the quality away? On IMDb, the first comedy in the top rated 250 is Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb and that falls in at 34. Like The Apartment, which is at 12 on Empire’s top 500, these comedies are considered some of the best movies ever made, and surely that makes them the best comedies? Yet, according to Empire’s list, there are still 16 funnier films than Strangelove and The Apartment is not even in the top 50. So maybe they are just the best received.

And then, on the other side of the spectrum, what about Airplane!? A film that constantly tops ‘Funniest Films’ lists and yet is nowhere to be seen on IMDb’s top 250 and is all the way at 368 on Empire’s top 500. Can a film really be thought to be the funniest and top of its genre, but not be considered alongside the greatest movies of all time? If you handed me the Empire’s top 50 Funniest Films list and asked me to pick my favourite film, I would have no difficulty selecting In Bruges. However, if you asked for my favourite comedy, I would probably read the list several times before throwing it across the room and complaining over the lack of Burn After Reading, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Guard, Submarine, and 35

Little Miss Sunshine, despite none of those being my favourite comedy. Whether or not it is possible to create a comedy that is worthy to be considered alongside the likes of The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption and Fight Club, there is one certain fact. It is not hard to make something that will make your audience laugh more than those films. Whether you go for a gag-a-minute type film like Airplane! or something a bit more sophisticated like The Big Lebowski, the truth of comedy is as long as it makes you laugh, it has done its job and it doesn’t matter how highly it is rated on other merits. A comedy is only truly a failure when it fails to make you laugh.

Oldeuboi (Oldboy) Released 2003

Oldboy has been hailed as one of the greatest international films ever made. Does it match the hype? This movie has been hailed as one of the greatest international movies ever made and it stands at number 92 on IMDb’s Top 250 films and isconsidered the best film in the loosely connected ‘Vengeance Trilogy’. The movie opens with a mysterious man dangling another man over the edge of a building by his tie. When asked what his name is we cut away to Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) in a police station, very drunk and out of control. He is picked up by No Joo-hwan (Daehan Ji) but soon lost at a phone booth. Dae-su Oh wakes up in a room. He has no idea who has trapped him here and he has no idea why. He spends the 36

next fifteen years trapped in his little room with only a tv for company. He begins to train, build up his strength, and find a way to escape. He swears vengeance on whoever trapped him and when he is finally out of the room he goes on a journey to find the truth. With help from Joo-hwan and Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang) he begins to unravel the mystery surrounding his capture. All performances in the movie are outstanding. Min-sik Choi is outstanding as Dae-su. His emotions are gritty and raw. It’s absolutely captivating to watch him from start to finish. Not only is his tantrum in the police station one of the funnier


scenes I’ve seen for a long time, his brutality which verges on insanity is horrible to watch yet impossible to look away from. At some points you’ll like him, some points you won’t, and some you’ll just be shocked by him. It’s brilliant.

The fight scenes, particularly the long corridor fight, are spectacularly shot.

The corridor fight scene involves a huge number of guards against one man. The first camera shot shows us how small the corridor actually is. The next one is a an extremely long single As an antagonist, Ji-tae Yu is fantastic shot that follows the fight down the side of the corridor. It’s incredible to as Woo-jin Lee. He has a perfect balance between psychotic and plain watch. evil. He’s got enough of a human side The use of sound in the film is also to develop a tiny bit of sympathy for brilliant. Often music (or more him but mainly he’s crazy and cruel. often silence) will juxtapose what’s happening on screen. It creates a What really stood out for me in this movie was the technical side of things. really eerie atmosphere that works wonderfully with the explicit nature of Chan-wook Park really knows what the film. he’s doing as a director. Everything is perfectly timed. Everything looks perfect. Everything is perfect as far as Overall, this film is definitely not for the faint hearted. While it has the technical aspects are concerned. 38

funny moments, they are completely outweighed. There’s even a toothpulling scene, something that really makes me wince. However, it is a great movie and well worth a watch... if you can stand it. And pay attention. It twists more than a roller coaster.

4 out of 5 39

Director: Chan-wook Park Starring: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu and Hye-jeong Kang Trivia:

This is the second of director Chan-wook Park’s “Revenge Trilogy”. The first is Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. The third is Lady Vengeance.

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