Contents Cast & Crew 4 Editor’s Note 5 Feature Review: Oz the Great and Powerful 6 Reviews 8 Overrated/Underrated 12 Review of the Oscars 16 In Defence of the Summer Blockbuster 18 “Dude, Why You Talk So Fast?” – Why Aaron Sorkin is the first writer-auteur 20 A Look Back 22 TFR Believes that Awards are Detrimental to Cinema 24 What to Look Out for This Summer 26 5 Word Reviews 27
Cast & Crew Editor P.J. Moloney Creative Director Killian Oâ€™Dwyer Business Manager David Cullinan Web Editor Robyn Hamilton Contributors Aimee Jay Aisling Kelly Amy Chappelhow Brian Wade Eoin McCague Eva Short Glenn C. Whelan Jack Oâ€™Kennedy Kieran McNulty Louise Lamb Michael Lanigan Niall McLoughlin Printed by Grehan Printers Ltd. Trinity Film Review is a Trinity Publication. It is funded by a grant from the DU Publications Committee. This Publication claims no special rights or privileges, serious complaints should be addressed to: The Editor, Trinity Film Review, 6 Trinity College, Dublin 2. Appeals may be directed to the Press Council of Ireland
Editor’s Note I’m not really a big fan of the Oscars, I must say. That’s not to say that I’m for or against them, but watching rich people celebrate their richness just doesn’t really appeal to me, you know? Though I do enjoy blockbusters and I’d honestly take Jaws over Rome, Open City any day of the year – but with that said I’d probably personally prefer to discuss Rome, Open City. And I think that really is what TFR is about: honesty. Other film magazines seem to cater for a particular type of person. Sight and Sound is for those who call themselves ‘cineastes’ while Total Film is for the ‘film-buffs’, and I think we’re quite snugly placed somewhere completely different. Our mission goes beyond critiquing cinema from any ideological, political or theoretical point of view but instead tries to discuss cinema from where each individual film stands in relation to the public. Why argue about the lack of artistic merit in Avatar when that’s a given and we could instead be discussing its real world implications for Science fiction as entertainment and CGI? Similarly, why discuss the merits of Metropolis and hide the fact that it would flop in the box office if it were released today? I’m not trying to argue that we’re an objective magazine when it comes to film; on the contrary, we’re highly subjective. Film, after all, is film and it’s pretty damn hard to write something which is objectively right on anything that goes into the making or viewing of a film. So why try to build a magazine on any false foundation which seems to suggest an objective truth about film such as ‘film is art’ or ‘film is entertainment’? Instead, TFR is about the subjective experience of cinema which in turn becomes a highly social one. It’s about individuals embracing their individuality and in turn embracing the individuality of others so that they might begin to understand one another. In the same vein as this it’s important to be able to embrace what others can do and what I cannot. I feel successful in having organised an excellent team that brought TFR a bit more to the forefront of campus life, but TFR will always be able to do even better and while it’s been a fun year, it’s with a heavy heart that I leave TFR as its editor (I’ll still be writing for it next year though so have no fear). We’ve seen a massive burst in the interest of writing about film over the course of the year and a huge thanks must be given to our past editors who made this magazine possible. A special thank you must be given to Ciara Barrett who helped get me into TFR in the first place and without whom TFR would definitely not be what it is today. Of course the head honchos of the TFR team: D.C., Killian and Robyn are also to be especially thanked as without their help I can tell you that there’d probably not have been a single issue this year. Of course our contributors have been as excellent as always as well. But the person who I really want to thank is you, the reader, without whose constant thirst for film we might not see the growing film centred community in Trinity. So thank you! I hope you enjoy this final issue for the year, it’s full of some of our best pieces and I hope you send us on your thoughts on some of the topics we discuss via Facebook and Twitter, but until then remember “First the priests arrive. Then the conquistadores.” - James Clavell Love & Films, Peej.
Written by Eoin McCague Have I missed him already? Don’t tell me I’ve missed him? Have I? Who was he? Dear God, please tell me he’ll arrive and save this shambolic mess of a movie? These were the questions running through my head for the vast majority of Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful. Although widely known for his frequent collaborations with his brother Ted and his beloved 1973 yellow ‘Oldsmobile’ (and yes, the Delta 88 does appear somewhere along the yellow brick road), no one could be fooled into thinking Raimi doesn’t owe a bulk of his success to the undisputed King of Twitter, the B-Movie legend that is Bruce Campbell. I went into Oz looking forward to another sure-fire iconic Campbell cameo. I didn’t go in expecting it to be the only thing capable of keeping me in my seat.
with 3D? Count me in. James Franco, of course he’s pretentious but also talented, surely he’s not that conceited to headline a blockbuster out of irony, perhaps the script does have a sense of character? Count me in. The perennially innocent Michelle Williams as the good witch? Count me in. Mila Kunis as Mila Kunis just walking around being Mila Kunis? Count my hormones in. Sadly, like 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the aforementioned Alice, Oz, in trying to reinterpret a classic, fails to find anything original to do with its characters. It starts well enough. An engaging opening credits sequence showcases the potential of Raimi 3D. Kansas in 1905 has never looked better, gloriously presented in black and white and a 4:3 aspect ratio. It is clear early on that Raimi hasn’t lost his knack for physical humour and an opening tracking shot through the Baum Brother’s Travelling Circus that showcases all the freaks and geeks is a visual feast. Sadly we are all too soon introduced to the Wizard himself, Franco’s Oscar Diggs. ‘Kansas is full of good men, I want to be a great one’ he intoned in the trailer. After ten minutes of screen time it should become clear to the audience that Franco only wants a good performance, not a ‘great one’
A wholly unnecessary prequel to The Wizard of Oz, one suspects that the accountants at Disney were so surprised 2010’s Alice in Wonderland was capable of crossing the one billion dollar mark at the box office that they leapt at the chance to ‘reimagine’ another ‘classic’ without paying heed to the many cinematic crimes Alice committed. Like Alice, Oz does sound like it could be a good bit of fun on paper. Sam Raimi, enfant terrible of Evil Dead and Spiderman fame, king of the dolly zoom, master of the montage playing
His Oz is supposed to be a con artist/playboy and I salivate at the thought of what Robert Downey Jr (the original choice) could have done with the role. Franco sadly shows about much interest and charm as he did with the 83rd Academy Awards.
‘good way to lose $200 million’; well Mark, here is an example of $200 million dollars wasted on frankly, quite shoddy CGI. I found myself doubting whether actors were even in the same rooms together when sharing scenes they seemed so disconnected from each other against the blue-screen. One quarter of the exterior shots could have been lifted from Avatar or Alice in Wonderland; they are truly that generic. The Emerald City seemingly alternates between being a cardboard cut-out and a Tim Burton acid dream.
Before you can click your ruby slippers together, Oz has made his escape and is headed straight for a tornado in a hot air balloon. Sadly, this doesn’t lead to his untimely death and instead he wakes up in the completely blue-screen rendered Land of Oz. From here you really should know where the plot goes. A king has just died. A wicked witch roams the land. A prophecy has been foretold and needs to be fulfilled. Is this mysterious man who fell from the sky the chosen one who can bring balance to the force and destroy the one ring? A trio of witches (the ‘virgin’ like Michelle Williams, the ‘virgin’ like Mila Kunis and the ‘seeing as she is not virgin like she must be the bad guy’ like Rachel Weisz) certainly think so.
But enough about the disappointing visuals, the shocking dialogue and the uninterested Franco. This is Sam Raimi; surely there must be an element of fun, a flash of style here and there? Well, yes and no. Yes, unlike Alice, an air of fun permeates the ordeal (and thank God for that, the last thing we need is a gritty reimagining complete with a heroin selling Scarecrow). And no, aside from one outstanding use of make up and a few crash zooms, Oz is not the unrestrained 3D Raimi we dreamed of.
Before you can hypothesise on the approximate running time of Campbell’s cameo, Oz finds himself embroiled in a power struggle between the witches and thrust with the task of liberating the people (and munchkins) of Oz to claim the throne. Aided only by a poorly-rendered flying monkey and a poorly-rendered China girl (voiced by Zach Braff and Joey King respectively) will Franco be able to defeat the wicked witch, learn some valuable lessons about what it means to be ‘great’ and kindly step aside to make room for Bruce Campbell? And with this entire convoluted plot to be resolved in less than two hours? You bet your share of the yellow brick road he will.
I suppose it’s not all bad. The angelic Michelle Williams, concerned that her children may one day discover Blue Valentine and seek counselling, pours heart and soul into her role as the Good Witch. Raimi still remains the undisputed king of the montage. And if this makes Alice/ Avatar bucks we all know his track record with sequels. I was ready to pass Oz off as just another piece of forgettable post-Avatar fluff, and a completely dull entry on Raimi’s filmography until I realised that I still hadn’t seen Campbell by the time the credits rolled. Staying behind I found his name in the cast list. How could this be? THAT was his cameo? The one guy that could have saved this movie, even just for a scene, was given THAT? Not ‘groovy’.
I didn’t go into Oz expecting to be challenged. However, I did expect to go in to see visual effects that may have challenged those who rendered them. Mark Miller recently described the prospect of a Justice League movie as a
Caesar Must Die Written by Niall McLoughlin Prison movies to their own extent have long been associated with acerbic tales of repent, selfactualization and redemption. What we know of prison is generally an extension of whatever images we’ve picked up from gruesome statistics in the news reports and history books or from the fine people in film business (and occasionally Louis Theroux or Ross Kent, as soon as one goes in another comes out it seems). The fact of the matter is the vast majority of us do not have a real grasp of the nature of prison life itself nor the psychosis one attributes to being ‘institutionalized,’ to quote Red. So when sitting down to watch Caesar Must Die and the richly intense,opening piece of what is in fact the dramatic final scene in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, one is acutely curious: who are these men, what do they have to hide?
sentimentality relates the story of a young friend of his being bumped off on the streets of Rome. It’s all we’re given from the film, a pertinent moment as everyone submits in the face of a tough guy breaking character completely to deal with a memory too real not keep quiet. But instead of walking away he persists in his task and his performance says the rest. From this point on, no further mention of crime is made and instead, the rigorous rehearsal between quiet empty rooms and cramped cells throughout the prison allows it to become the stage and quite a clever ploy it is. At times it is near impossible to tell if the tensions between Cassius and Brutus, Brutus and Caesar, not to mention his subjects is the art of dramatism or the bitter resentment held between prisoners acquired over years of sharing cells together. In fact the directors take a great liberty in capturing this tension, extending the script to the prisoner’s own personal dilemmas far from the words of Shakespeare. In this way the scene set-up is poignantly cinematic and one can’t help but wonder if we are not instead watching actors play prisoners play actors?
That is a question that doesn’t fail to linger throughout Vittorio and Paolo Taviani’s 76-minute black and white docudrama filmed within the grounds of Rebibbia High Security Prison on the outskirts of Rome. Cutting away from the murder of Brutus and the prisoner’s onstage triumph we are brought back to first auditions for the play 6 months previously as we are met with an array of large brutish men beckoning crocodile tears and getting all too angry much too quickly when given the prompt. Entertaining stuff up to the point of the final cast announcement, the point where each man steps forward as they are allocated roles and we read from the titles below; their crimes and sentences. The majority of the cast are Mafia members, murderers and drug traffickers, in some cases all three.
To find flaw with the piece is difficult as the directors’ ambition and originality of composition favours our lasting impression greatly. If I would say anything it would be this: we are not given anything to take home that we haven’t already heard before: liberation through artistry can make the guilty man feel free.
As the film progresses the tale of politicians justifying the murder to end the tyranny of a powerful, popular ruler, seems to strike a chord with our Brutus who, in a rare touch of hard
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Written by Glenn C. Whelan I wish to begin by stating that I have a profound love for all things Grimm. Because of this, I desperately wanted Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) to work. Taking Grimm fairy tales back to their horrific origins, what could be better? Upon hearing that Dead Snow’s (2009) Tommy Wirkola was the film’s writer-director I readied myself for a hilarious blood-spattered take on the age-old tale. After watching the film I could not be more disappointed. Not because the film was bad, which in many ways it is, but rather because there is so much potential here to make a great film.
forgettable character. Renner, on the other hand, seems to have fun with much of the film’s farcical action. In spite of this he too is weighed down by the two-dimensional nature of his role. I cannot stand badly written characters, but to waste such excellent acting talent on them is something I find very difficult to forgive. With all of this in mind I will say that the film does possess some redeeming features. In particular, I would draw attention to Wirkola’s love of the source material. Through his portrayal of the witches as feral, animalistic creatures, Wirkola harkens back to the grittier origins of the Grimm fairy tales. Also, Wirkola’s use of practical effects and prosthetics gives the film an 80’s Labyrinth (1986) vibe.
Suffering from the same fate as The Wolfman (2010), Hansel & Gretel’s release was delayed for 10 months to supposedly accommodate Jeremy Renner’s busy schedule and shoot a post-credit scene. I believe that this delay had more to do with studio fears over the film’s gratuitous violence. This is most clearly evident in the film’s hack-job of an editing process. Many scenes are left feeling disjointed, as if shots were tossed aside for no particular reason. This, I will say, is no fault of the film’s writer-director Tommy Wirkola, and he deserves none of the blame for it.
After the making of Dead Snow many likened Wirkola’s work to the early films of Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi. If Dead Snow is his Bad Taste (1987), is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Wirkola’s The Frighteners (1996) (Peter Jackson’s first Hollywood film)? The answer simply is no. This is not because of Wirkola’s lack of talent as a director. I think he is capable of being a great director. The problem is Wirkola’s writing. While Peter Jackson has always had the guiding hand of his wife and co-writer Fran Walsh, Wirkola had no such help on this film. The results speak for themselves. Making the leap to Hollywood in only his fourth feature, I believe that being on the fast track has proven too much for the young Norwegian. I hope that in his next feature Wirkola succeeds in reaching the potential that is glimpsed here.
He should, however, be blamed for the poor script which suffers from clunky dialogue, underdeveloped characters and a severe lack of tension. The chemistry between Jeremy Renner (Hansel) and Gemma Arterton (Gretel) is quite good but this is done away with early on as the two are separated for much of the film’s short eighty-eight minute running time.
Although Hansel & Gretel is plagued by flaws that could, and should, have been avoided, I can think of worse ways to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon.
The acting, for the most part, is pretty sub-par. Arterton, as in both Clash of the Titans (2010) and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010), is given the thankless task of fleshing out yet another
Stoker Written by Michael Lanigan It is a truth universally acknowledged that an actor’s portrayal of a role deemed cold, inhuman, or psychopathically emotionless in manner is an unpopular performance. Typical audiences hope to ogle at relatable characters, with which you can empathise. This neediness meets its match in Stoker. The English directorial debut of Korean Park Chan-wook, the man behind the hardboiled exploration of cruelty and retribution in 2003’s Oldboy, Stoker envisages a chilling deviation from Western cinematic norms. This is his startlingly beautiful, slow-burning psychological thriller, plummeting into the gritty depths of depravity. Favouring alienating personalities, the outcome is an abstruse insight into another ghostly realm of existence entirely, a limbo physically manifested. Its curious tone requires the audience to adapt to the juxtaposing elegance and animated, albeit sullen energy. The opening splices anachronistic scenarios, alongside a monologue by Mia Wasikowska’s character, India Stoker, interrupted by her father Charlie Stoker’s fatal accident on India’s 18th Birthday. Although a contemporary setting, the people appear to be outside any definite period, as if spirits transcending time. This compliments the airy ambiguity of the events, but is understandably frustrating esotericism that challenges the viewer’s patience, the sparse dialogue divulging little of the core message until its harrowing, yet somewhat euphoric climax. The puzzlingly perverse Pinteresque central figures contest any sympathy the viewer might attempt to attain. India Stoker echoes Hamlet, morbid and resentful towards her family. As an enigma whose cynicism evolves into a destructive path of shocking self-realisation, hers is an anti-coming of age story. Her despicable mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), is a pathetically narcissistic widow akin to Gertrude, determined to court her late-husband’s brother. Evelyn’s contribution initially seems worthlessly two-dimensional and hopelessly passed off as a key plot device. This paper-thin persona eventually proves to be a
vital factor; deliberately intended as a shallow, malleable, puppet, consumed by the captivating Richard Stoker (Matthew Goode). Richard is the seductive uncle whose existence prior to the mysterious demise of his brother, eluded from the family’s knowledge. Sparking intense desire amongst women, his assuredly blasé personality has the capacity to manipulate their behaviour. His sudden appearance sets off a chain of mysterious occurrences causing the family to spiral out of control from within. The grieving Stokers’ disdain for one another exposes their festering relationship, yet by inserting the theme of ‘family first’, outside the household, each has an eye on the others’ well-being. If a Stoker is to meet a gruesome end, then it must be from a blood relative. Although the starting point is neither incredibly original, nor are the twists and turns stark revelations as scriptwriter Wentworth Miller intended, from a directorial stance this is a feat of modern art. Since the script blossoms when diving into its subtext, the spaciousness of its ambience allowed Chan-wook wholeheartedly to embrace a universe of artistic freedom. The cinematographers possess an inimitable eye towards capturing mundane details mixed with magnificent dreamlike imagery, layered wide-shots and extended takes of different scenarios in different rooms unfolding simultaneously on-screen. If Hollywood allows Chan-wook to exit anytime soon, they will lose a bona fide visionary. In essence, this gothic fairytale unfolds at a rate that may feel in transient as vague pretentiousness, broken with occasional acts of brutality and spectacular long shots compensating for a deficit of substance. The true prestige of Stoker arrives in its final scene and by reviewing the piece as whole in hindsight. Whether one has the patience to indulge Stoker with speculation and repeated viewing will play significantly in one’s own enjoyment of the movie, but on reflection the understanding obtained is worth that effort.
Lore Written by Brian Wade Holocausts are difficult to deal with; more so for Jews than filmmakers. Although, having said that, representing the greatest crime of the 20th century on screen has never proved straightforward. Roberto Benigni’s Oscar-lauded Life is Beautiful does so by means of comedy and fantasy, whereas John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and its filmic adaptation choose to stream those events through the eyes of an innocent, unknowing child. Both features have received their fair share of criticism for a misrepresentation of sorts, for sugarcoating (such a word seems ill-fitting in context), for softening the historical blow of such a horrifically bleak period, one that, even today, we are still unable to fully comprehend.
From its very opening, Lore presents us with a different kind of cinematic experience. As we watch our protagonist in a frame comprised of cold, harsh colours rip viciously through her damp hair with a comb, we realise that this is never going to be a comfortable watch. And I say that in the most respectable manner. Here, Shortland’s is the cinema of anxiety, filled with disconcerting close-ups and intensified silences. This is matched, strikingly, with radiant and wondrous images of the bloom of spring, almost Malickian insertions of nature reborn, vivified, though much less preachy. And tied in with all this wonder and disgust is the growing sexuality of our title character, her unmatted hair and subtly red dress, who is confronted by perverse emotions when followed by an attractive Jewish youth. Against the grand narrative of the Second World War we have this incredibly understated story of a girl thrown into womanhood at a time when she least expects it.
Interestingly, the point in time that directly follows ‘The Holocaust’ is another one so often neglected in cinema, the kind of temporal ‘No Man’s Land’ wedged between the end of the war and the period where all its repercussive guilt begins to smother what’s left of German society; the interlude is one of intermittent angst and utter confusion. Yet this is precisely the timeframe Cate Shortland addresses in Lore, her return to the directorial chair after an absence of 8 years. Her latest work is visceral, cutting, unapologetic and largely discomforting, a story chronicling the journey of five newly-orphaned German siblings as they make their way to the assumed safe haven of a family relative. As a film which sets itself at such a pivotal point in history, it is remarkably absent of historical context. We, like Lore (the stunningly beautiful Saskia Rosendahl) and the rest of her family, lose ourselves in the all-encompassing woods of the Black Forest and the vast expanse of rural Deutschland. All we know is: “Der Führer ist tot / The Fuhrer is dead” and Germany, an abandoned child, must struggle through the grime and dirt to pick itself up.
And let that sound in no way reductive, for this is a film much more complex than it appears at face value, played out in a place where hereto repressed emotions of violence have been subsequently released. This certainly comes through stylistically, where Lore shifts between eerie horror, minimalist drama and raw romance. Rosendahl, one of ten Shooting Stars at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, offers a performance to match, at times displaying a thorough intimacy that draws us to her, while at others a detached cruelty that distances. She is a single enigmatic force inside an indefinable feature. Metaphorically, it may seem too potent for some, too pessimistic for others. But, if given a chance, Shortland’s picture will drive into the very soul, one brimming with supreme beauty and anticathartic substance that doesn’t undermine its audience. It might not be something we want to see, but it’s one we certainly need to.
Upon its release last summer, Christoper Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was instantly successful at box offices (any film hyped as much would be, really), and still holds an uncommonly high rating on IMDb from over five hundred thousand users, so it might seem a bit unfounded to call it overrated. While I readily admit that many aspects of the film were unquestionably very good (Anne Hathaway was particularly impressive as Selina Kyle and I could write a lot more praising her performance), overall I found the film to be somewhat lacking, and a disappointing way to end what was an otherwise great trilogy. One of the main problems the film had was how formulaic everything seemed. The same scenes from the previous films, more or less, kept cropping up: Fox delivers a new variety on the Batmobile which gets a big reveal; Alfred gives a speech on what it means to be a Wayne, and/or Batman; Commissioner Gordon talks about a city that needs the truth/a hero/Batman; Alfred explains the villain’s motives; Batman appears out of the darkness for the first time, and so on. The same things play out in this film that we’ve seen before, and even when slightly varied they just don’t have any freshness in them. Many of the monologues (take, for instance, anything Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Blake says about Batman or morality) are hollow. They have nothing new in them, and the underscoring music just feels like an last-ditch attempt to create emotional resonance. The characters themselves are somewhat stale in this film. Blake
Written by Killian O'Dwyer
just seems like a character type, the good-guy cop who stands by what he believes in despite pressure from superiors, and the fact that he knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman is almost completely inexplicable. Even though Blake is a new character, he’s disappointingly unoriginal and adds much less to the film than he should. Tom Hardy’s Bane is a breath of fresh air as a villain whose threat lives in his sheer physical strength and warlord’s charisma. It’s a shame that between his mask and his accent, so much what he says is left incomprehensible. Lines that ought to be badass end up sounding just a little ridiculous. The film was also replete with logical flaws in the narrative – it makes sense, provided you never really think about what is happening. The business subplot, as always, is left underdeveloped and has to just be taken at face value; we don’t quite know how Bane managed to effectively download the stock exchange and make irreversible changes to it, ruining Wayne Enterprises, but we have to accept it. This is by no means the only logical loophole that the film hopes you don’t notice. Bruce later leaves a prison in Somewhere-ForeignThat-Is-Not-Gotham without a penny to his name and shortly afterwards arrives back in the city, which was cut off from the outside world, with no indication of how he did so. While in this prison, he received vital plot details from his own hallucination. Even more comes through in the editing: the bike chase scene features an inexplicable instant night-time, for example. Also, the way it was presented, it’s impossible to believe that several months
pass between the disconnected scenes in the second half of the film. The only way that time was indicated was in the occasional character mentioning how long remained until the bomb was due to detonate, but there was a never a sense of time actually passing. One final critique of the film is in its overt patriotism, odd considering the British director. Nonetheless, there was a shot of two tattered American flags blowing listlessly in the wind several months into Bane’s occupation, and the earlier scene in which we are treated to of the American national anthem in full. So beautiful was this that it made Bane, a terrorist about to blow up the pitch, take a moment to comment on the singer’s voice. By presenting even the terrorist warlord as sympathetic to America, the film seriously undermines Bane’s aim to exterminate Gotham. Also, the negativity with which the anarchy of Bane’s occupation gave the film an uncomfortable message: just look at the chaos a change in the social order leads to. Don’t do it! On the surface, The Dark Knight Rises is a decent film and it checks all of the boxes expected of a Nolan Batman. However, a little critical thought tears the film apart far too easily. While many parts were enjoyable (the ending was quite well-managed), I still just cannot convince myself, no matter how hard I try, that detonating an atomic bomb a few miles away from a city will never have any, say, devastating nuclear fallout. But it’s cool, Batman totally saved Gotham, and that’s all that we need to know.
Whenever Battleship comes up in conversation, everyone always goes on about how “It’s just another Transformers film, it has no plot, it’s unoriginal, it’s stupid, wah wah wah” – SHUT UP! I mean seriously, ok, it’s not a great piece of art by any measure but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any value. Battleship is a prime example of great entertainment. So in a bid to win you over let’s break this film down into it’s three main components: Visual effects, plot and Rihanna. So I always hear people saying it looks like Transformers. To them I just have to ask, so what? Forgive me if I’m wrong but isn’t the quality of the image sort of, kind of important to cinema? Yes, Transformers has a stupid plot but its visuals, man… have you seen those visuals? They’re damn pretty! The editing is incredibly tight while the special effects, which might I remind you were what got you into the cinema in the first place, are nothing to turn your nose up at. Who doesn’t want to see Giant Robots fighting? But what’s my point? Flms like Transformers and Battleship and others such as the Bourne series have brought a new technical mastery over the visual aspect of cinema in recent years which is oft forgotten. Perhaps the visuals of Battleship do not match up to the depth of those in any Ozu film but they do strike us on a level of pure excitement and anticipation. This is particularly evident in the speed of some of the cuts and shots during the action scenes which are literally so quick that
Written by P.J. Moloney
you have no time to register them and yet they all seem to flow into one cohesive cinematic moment. I propose an experiment here. Go back to older thrillers from the 80s and 90s such as Lethal Weapon and I think you’ll find that while they’re good films, they are extremely dated. Ultimately their speed leaves somewhat to be desired and they simply cannot live up to the violent technique of modern cinematic visuals. That brings me onto the plot. I think people are in general not making a distinction between puzzle films and intelligent plots. Puzzle films give the audience seemingly contradictory information to drive the plot along, whereas intelligent plots are shrouded in mystery but run along the lines of something which grabs your attention then gets you to question a particular aspect of your life. So where does Battleship lie? Well it’s no Puzzle film but that doesn’t stop it being somewhat intelligent. It’s plot is simple. It tells the story of how the humans fight off the seemingly evil alien invaders and save the day, hooray. Not much to really discuss, is there? Well that’s not exactly true. It’s how Battleship tells this story that we’re interested in. It does so through it’s characters. For example, our main hero starts off as an all-American hero and wants to live his life via his own rules. He’s quirky, quick-witted and we’re instantly invested in him. But he’s a loser. He messes up and gets nowhere by himself. Through the film he comes to see the value of those around him and learns the value of being
a team player. This is no film about amazing super-humans. Rather it’s a film about ordinary people coming together to overcome the overwhelming odds stacked against them. While this doesn’t seem to far from what we’re used to watching it’s important that our hero quite literally cannot do anything by himself. He ultimately acts much more like a manager than a hero. And he’s managing quite a diverse team of people: men, women, old, young, white, black, Japanese, American, handicapped and so on. Instead of walking away from the cinema thinking ‘great people can do great things’ as we normally would, we instead consider that ‘ordinary people working together can do great things’. A simple but effective message. Also, they turned a board game into a film, credit where credit is due. Finally, there’s Rihanna. I’m no fan I must admit but she wasn’t that bad. I know she’s not an actress but they kept some of the most badass lines for her and when you put her beside the likes of Jennifer Lopez’s entrance onto the silver screen, it’s really quite a decent performance. I could go on for ages but I’m running out of space here. My final word is to go back and rewatch Battleship. Stop thinking it’s not Bergman and appreciate it for the entertainment it wanted to and succeeded in being. I remember when I went to see it, the atmosphere of fun was tangible and I’m sure you’ll feel it too.
The Oscars Written by Jack O’Kennedy Whether you think of the Oscars as an annual ego massage for the inhabitants of Tinseltown or an opportunity to showcase and award the best motion pictures of the year, if you’re a film fan, they’re nigh on impossible to avoid. This year’s ceremony, dubbed ‘The Oscars’ as opposed to the ‘85th Academy Awards’ in a lame attempt at rebranding was preceded by the usual lengthy red carpet walk, now used primarily to fill the best and worst dressed lists of countless fashion blogs. After what seemed like the millionth ‘and who are you wearing tonight?’ the last of the attendees filed into the legendary Dolby Theatre and Hollywood’s biggest night began.
An online survey of approximately 100 Trinity students was conducted prior to the awards ceremony. Shown here are the results.
In the writing categories Argo scribe Chris Terrio took home the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay with an emotional speech encouraging people to follow the example of Tony Mendez and use creativity and intelligence to resolve conflict. Quentin Tarantino won Best Original Screenplay for the scintillating Django Unchained and in typical QT fashion managed to thank himself on stage. Amour was an inevitable but deserving winner of Best Foreign Language Film. The acting awards brought us the first surprise of the night when Octavia Spencer announced Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dr. King Schultz. Tommy Lee Jones had long been the favourite in this category and Waltz seemed genuinely surprised and humbled by his win. Best Supporting Actress on the other hand, was a forgone conclusion with Anne Hathaway seemingly destined to win from the moment the trailer for Les Misérables debuted. Actress in a leading role was less of a sure thing bit it was Jennifer Lawrence’s night. The twenty-two year old stumbled on her way up to the stage but recovered well with an endearing and breathless speech. As expected, Daniel Day-Lewis was declared Best Actor for his peerless portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. The only actor to have won
First things first, let’s talk about the winners. Normally, in a short review like this I’d gloss over the technical awards but Bill Westenhofer and his colleagues (winners of the Best Visual Effects award for their work on Life of Pi) warrant mention. This year’s technique of playing winners off with the Jaws theme when their speeches overran, whilst humorous at first, resulted in a truly agonising moment when Westenhofer was cut off whilst trying to draw attention to the bankruptcy of Rhythm and Hues (the effects house behind Life of Pi) and the undervalued work of VFX artists in general. Nicole Kidman’s embarrassed reaction shot said it all.
Zero Dark Thirty
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Overall, dodgy sexism aside, the ceremony was a success and I for one am glad the awards season is finally over.
Which film will take home the Oscar for Best Picture?
As for the show itself? Well, like every Oscars it was a mixed bag. Like him or loathe him, Seth MacFarlane took on his hosting duties with brio. His opening gambit, featuring a bizarre extended cameo from William Shatner and an ill-judged musical number about actresses whose breasts we’ve seen on screen, was a misstep, setting Twitter ablaze with cries of ‘rampant misogyny’ and ‘WORST HOST EVER’. As the show progressed however, MacFarlane grew into his role, ultimately walking a fine line between old school showman and controversial comedian. The much touted ‘50 Years of Bond’ celebration was ultimately reduced to a dull ‘best of’montage that was saved by a fantastic Shirley Bassey who’s rendition of ‘Goldfinger’ brought the house down.
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the award three times, Lewis made the speech of the ceremony, with a wry gag about originally signing on to play Margaret Thatcher, before he and Meryl Streep “swapped”. The final prize, Best Picture, went to Ben Affleck’s Argo and only the hardest of hearts could begrudge his babbling excitement after he was unfairly overlooked in the Best Director category, won on the night by Ang Lee.
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In Defence of
The Summer Blockbuster Written by Aimee Jay Ah now, let’s be fair to the Summer Blockbuster – it’s not all about loud noises, shiny celebrities with questionable acting ability and pointless explosions. Summer Blockbusters, live for them or loathe them, have a foothold in the film industry too important to flutter away in a few snobby comments. While recent years have cherished the rise of the small scale ‘Indie’ productions making their way on to the big screen (Like Crazy, Silver Linings Playbook, (500) Days of Summer), it’s still the big budget and aggressively publicised films that keep cinema alive for the masses. Enthusing and exciting enormous crowds into their cinema seats is by no means a small feat – and if that means putting up with numerous big hits starring Kirsten Stewart, then so be it. The birth of the ‘Summer Blockbuster’ genre came in 1975 with Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Universal Studios pumped $1.8 million into what was then considered a ‘highly innovative’ marketing scheme. Money of this amount had never before been allocated to advertising alone. Advertisements for the film were appearing on prime time national television, the producers and cast members were making television and radio appearances and generally instigating film promotion as we know it today. The method was saturation and it highlighted the stark departure the blockbuster genre would have from the preceding king of cinema, the ‘New Hollywood’ form. The nature of the Jaws release revolutionised the way
that Hollywood and film were to be perceived. While tears may have been shed for the ‘artful’ or ‘thoughtful’ era in cinema the summer blockbuster was able to immerse itself in popular culture unknown to film before. One only has to hum the Jaws shark attack music to conjure up the image of the toothy terrifying shark that was its original poster. (You know the one I mean, “du du, du du, du du du du du du du du”) It would be all too easy to cynically equate the big blockbuster productions purely as profit turning ventures, without considering their contribution to cinema itself. This new method of advertising became synonymous with big and ‘serious’ productions and rekindled a frenzied fan base for film missing since the prime of musical films in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The nature of film was becoming exclusive, limiting the appreciation for the art form. A survey in the mid-1970s indicated that 70% of cinema goers were under 30 and 64% of them had been to college. While these few could discuss or critique a film in their own circles, meaning a New Hollywood film would slowly build its way to success, the Summer Blockbuster offered a unified platform for film enthusiasts, establishing the cinema as ‘social’. George Lucas’ Star Wars cemented the blockbuster genre in 1977 and redefined audience interaction. With the opening release weekend attracting huge numbers, a cult classic was instantly born – learning to speak Klingon or wishing that the Force be with someone are the most popular
examples of this. Most importantly, the blockbuster has meant a fan can grow up with film. The latest Star Wars instalment is due for release in 2015, meaning the blockbuster productions at that point will span five decades and will no doubt attract the same loyal followers who saw the release of the 1977 blockbuster. With this in mind one should not be so quick to attack the Summer Blockbuster in favour of the unique or artsy, as while they may be appreciated and important to a lesser amount of people, the blockbuster is all-encompassing. When the global recession hit in 2007 the future for many independent artists looked bleak. As Dewey Largo emphatically reinforced the idea (this is an obscure reference to The Simpsons: he’s the music teacher, for those with inferior Simpson knowledge), “The arts are always the first to go.” And this is exactly what the ‘indie’ small-budget film makers feared. Just one year later Twilight New Moon grossed almost $393 million internationally. The ultimate blockbuster franchise, one can understand why Twilight has gathered such a negative critique from all angles. Hawked off a popular book series, exhaustingly lengthy action scenes and an annoying off screen R-Patz/KStew relationship, in many ways it does not do itself any favours if wanting to be considered as a ‘serious’ artistic film. In reality, however, the Twilight success was actually hugely important to a host of independent indie films, the true effect and
appreciation of which was felt in the Cannes film festival 2012. The big blockbuster to the rescue definitely argues that the big blockbuster is a necessity for a prosperous alternative artist to exist. While other industries were too afraid to take risks on the little guy during the worst years of the recession, Twilight under Lionsgate and Summit flourished a healthier environment for the film industry itself. A study by Thompson and Bordwell notes how the success of Twilight helped “ease the pain of the global recession for many indie distributors worldwide” and further suggests that half the liquidity felt in Cannes 2012 was generated by the film giant. Excitement towards new indie film company Speranz13 Media in Cannes last year demonstrates a realized example of the benefits in Twilights prosperity. In this way the prosperity of the blockbuster is its own greatest defence. Rarely in life do we hear of the top dog looking out for the little guy, but love
or loathe Twilight, enthralled or insulted by the blockbuster genre, its benefits to the industry on a whole are too important to attack. Finally, I’ll admit that there are times when the Summer Blockbuster makes a mistake. Or five. As one critic harshly but accurately argued, some big budget producers have been guilty of no longer making films people want but films they think people will put up with. To exemplify this I point to the recent release of A Good Day to Die Hard, part of the Die Hard series. At this stage I doubt whether a huge amount of people are anxiously anticipating a fifth instalment of Bruce Willis in a wife beater but there are an awful lot of people who will endure it. And if individual interpretation means anything, it should be endured. Like all stereotypes the good often gets lost among the bad. Unfortunately it is in the case of the summer blockbuster
that we often forget about the cherished classics quickly labelled as ‘mindless’. Some of today’s most valued, timeless pieces were originally released as summer blockbusters and refuse to go hand in hand with the ‘low brow’ tag often and unfairly associated with the genre. For example, we are too quick to forget that without the summer blockbuster we would not have Grease, Back to the Future, The Sixth Sense or even Finding Nemo. Would you insult little Nemo? No, you wouldn’t, you lovely person you. To rest my case with the most basic defence of the summer blockbuster, sometimes it’s just nice to switch off. Film is undoubtedly an art and those who honour it in its careful study will never be satisfied with the blockbuster. But while there are those of us who are prepared to treat cinema as a respected art form as well as a favoured leisure activity the summer blockbuster will be here to stay.
“Dude, why you talk so fast?” Why Aaron Sorkin is the first writer-auteur Written by David Cullinan Over the last five years, this man’s name has become better known than some writers ever were and most writers ever will be. Aaron Sorkin, the New York born scribe of theatrical, televisual and cinematic literature has a style of writing many have copied but none have topped. The defining trait of a work by Sorkin is unquestionably the dialogue, his dialogue. In an age where image is increasingly becoming the currency of communication, Aaron Sorkin remains a guardian of language. Grammar, spelling and syntax hold just as much value as colour, light and camera angle. The West Wing, Sports Night, The Social Network, The Newsroom and Charlie Wilson’s War are just some of the works that make up this man’s body of work.
Gary: He’s gone to MSNBC Will: Harry de Witt? Gary: CNN Will: Mohammed al Mohammed el Mohammed Bin Bazir? Gary: Fox Will: Fox hired someone with three Mohammeds in their name?! Dialogue has always been seen as a last resort in the fundamental teaching of film. Film is an inherently visual medium and thus, it is always more satisfying to the audience to show rather than tell. The same cannot be said for theatre, where dialogue is the mediator between an actor and their audience. This is where Mr Sorkin’s career began. Sorkin’s style has become so noteworthy precisely because it breaks the norms of filmmaking, telling you rather than showing you but nevertheless telling you in a way that is just as colourful as what would have been on screen in place of that actor and those lines. The intricate mechanics of Sorkin’s dialogue is what allows it to exist. As The West Wing demonstrated, dialogue here is of paramount importance
Having graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A. in musical theatre, Sorkin originally pursued a career of stardom. Alas, it was not to be and the writing world welcomed its newest recruit. With an upbringing that included many theatre outings, often a little beyond suitability for his age, Sorkin developed an affinity for the sound of vocal chords. The rhythm, pitch and timber all formed an acute taste in this little boy’s mind, a taste he continues to pursue in the formation of perfect dialogue. He has stated many times before that plot is his problem. He can write people talking all day long but actually getting them to do stuff is what he claims is the difficult part.
The West Wing President’s Secretary: ‘The Cardiologists’ Group is in the Roosevelt Room, Mr President.’ Mr President (to his staff): ‘You wouldn’t think you could find a more arrogant, self-obsessed group of people than us… but there they are, sitting in the Roosevelt Room.’
“Is it really? Yes, quite. But it’s still lovely. I don’t disagree.” You get the idea.
Actor Edward Norton cites the fidelity to certain specific themes and ideas as a defining trait of the auteur within cinema. In Film Studies, an auteur is generally taken to have a degree of technical competence as well as an artistic flourish that can be regarded as unique, both of which are required to merit the highly regarded title. In the case of Mr Speedtalk, this can definitely be said. Looking at his work in television, one can
The Newsroom Will: I do know everybody’s name. I was up half the night learning them all. Gary: Well they’re all gone now. Will: Thomas Barnes?
see a style in the settings of his series. He uses the settings as umbrellas to explore stories and themes that would otherwise branch out from any one particular genre since he first burst onto the scene with the short lived Sports Night (19979). In The West Wing (1999-2006), Sorkin can deftly weave shootouts, tribunals, love stories, road journeys and extra-terrestrial happenings into the narratives of White House staffers with ease, as none of these are completely beyond the realm of plausibility in the epicenter of a country’s decision making process. Similarly in The Newsroom (2012-present), the ACN Newsroom can explore almost any story, ranging in tone and scope, allowing for whatever current affair or flight of imagination takes hold of Sorkin at his time of writing, to be explored by these characters as well. Sorkin’s television shows often deal with personalities stuck in reality, aspiring to be more, to attain that which their idolized predecessors possessed; Nobility, Chivalry, Principle in the face of Conformity although these are oft criticized for their irrelevance in the modern day reality.
I don’t like him, he’s too repetitive.’ What was that you said, Ed? In the one hundred and eighty seven screenplays, teleplays and stageplays this man has written, is it not permissible that there would be some degree of crossover? Who hasn’t ever retold a good joke or reused a great zinger? When we think of auteurs, there are certain names which come to mind; Hitchcock, Tarantino, Godard, Anderson, among numerous others – but can you name one that isn’t a director? Aaron Sorkin has developed such a style that it permeates any visual peculiarities and much of his scripts become the stylistic focal point of the whole film. Today, iconic directors in their own right, like Mike Nichols and David Fincher, orientate the film they make to revolve around Sorkin’s style. Whether you agree with the sentiments of his ramblings or not, all the greats were greats because they did what they did really well and didn’t pander to popular opinion. Sorkin is no different. In this medium, where the director is god and no heretics are allowed, this man’s work has elevated the role of writer for the better.
Sorkin’s linguistic mechanics are also worthy of a mention. It is his musical use of adjectives, adverbs and past participle pronouns (if such things exist) which allows his dialogue to take centre stage and clasp your attention so tightly throughout entire durations, weaving plot, character development and humour into each utterance. Within the film industry itself, the name Sorkin evokes certain ideas. His name is now just as big a selling point as any director’s on a film. During the promotion of The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin did just as much publicity work as director David Fincher and Sorkin’s name also received equal billing on the DVD cover (pictured). Such recognition for a writer is nigh unheard of, especially when partnered with figure like David Fincher, arguably an auteur in his own right.
The West Wing Bruno: When did you write that last part? Sam: In the car. Bruno: ...Freak.
The West Wing Josh: ‘Yes, long story short, Mr. President, a little later today you’ll be reading about your new secret plan to fight inflation.’ Last July, a video surfaced on YouTube entitled ‘Sorkinisms: A Supercut’. In the last year, a number of similarly styled videos have appeared online, compiling commonly used phrases across films into one brief montage, usually to comic effect. Sorkin’s work was the subject of this instalment of the series, and generated quite a stir. The two main arguments that emerged, in direct opposition to each other, were ‘Give him a break, I’m surprised you can’t find more in common with all that he’s written’ and ‘This is exactly why
A Look Back...
Wings Written by Louise Lamb In 1927 Paramount Studios was looking to make a film to put all the other studios to shame: they made Wings, a film that arguably marks the pinnacle of the silent film era. Directed by “Wild Bill” Wellman, a World War One veteran airman, the film follows two all-American pilots and a small-town sweetheart as they battle through World War One. It was immensely popular upon release and won the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture (making it the first of only two silent films to have ever received such an honor).
a military airbase, tanks, and 5000 infantry men to simulate the battle of St. Mihiel. The action sequences were filmed in the sky by cameras mounted on the wings and undercarriages of aircraft, and two-cockpit planes were modified to get close-ups of the lead actors apparently piloting single-cockpit planes mid-flight. This kind of authenticity in action sequences, dangerous for pilot and actor alike, is so far from modern day filmmaking practice that, when one stops to think, it is astounding.
What is perhaps most remarkable about the film is the way in which it has stood the test of time. Clearly the historical aspect of the film adds some interest in and of itself – with its autobiographical elements, its riotous patriotism and its dedication “to those young warriors of the sky, whose wings are folded about them forever” Wings, in many ways, embodies the post-WWI American zeitgeist. Yet that alone is not enough to sustain a film for eighty-six years. Wings has the kind of universal narrative that outlasts generations – the combination of romance, fraternal camaraderie and airplane-action film is not far from 1986’s Top Gun. Although the girl-next-door sweetheart and the comradesin-arms narratives have since become cliché they still draw audiences to blockbuster films. There is strength in these stories that cannot be understated.
The fact that the film is silent also adds to it – there is an emphasis on spectacle that would fade out as sound cinema gained popularity in the late 1920s. Even basic elements of the film are improved by this – Wings cannot, and of course does not, fall into Top Gun’s trap of littering action sequences with dialogue that was apparently intended to be pithy and amusing but in reality distracts from the action. For those that would argue that a silent film cannot stand up to a modern “talkie”, I would ask you to look no further than the second silent film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture: 2012’s The Artist. The change from dialogue-centric films toward a more performance based and visually engaging medium is refreshing and effective. Wings may be silent and black-and-white, but that doesn’t stop it from being a spectacledriven, beautiful, and action packed film. No flight scene will ever again achieve what Wellman achieves, because what director would strap a camera to a biplane and send it up above the Texas desert for the sake of the perfect shot? There is value in what may initially seem ‘outdated’, and that value is not entirely historical. Wings remains a genuinely engaging and entertaining film eighty-six years after its release.
However, Wings by no means relies upon plot. Arguably the most captivating element of the film is the flight scenes, which are only made better by the knowledge that they are authentic – something rare in a modern film. Wellman, driven by his own experience of flying, insisted that filming only take place when the clouds were at a certain density in order to show the sheer speed of the planes, and the U.S Army provided
A Look Back...
West Side Story Written by Aisling Kelly The other day a friend of mine told me how she was appalled to be confronted with a message whilst listening to a musicals playlist on a popular music website which read, ‘If you don’t want people to know about your Broadway showtunes, there’s a private option.’ Appalled she rightly was. I use the term ‘a friend’ in sincerity, this is not one of those things where I mean myself but am too embarrassed to admit it; I would happily admit to it being me if it were, and I will happily admit to enjoying Broadway showtunes myself. However, the credibility of musicals splits audiences in two and so too does the opening sequence of West Side Story, in which streetgangs the Jets and the Sharks parade through New York city clicking their fingers, gradually working up to complex dance routines and finally breaking into song. The non-musical lover will watch this and cringe, they may pronounce it ridiculous and find it impossible to take it seriously. But I think I speak for many when I say that the Sharks and the Jets are ridiculously and seriously cool.
If anything in the film could make me cringe it would probably be the actual love story. Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) see each other and immediately fall into a trancelike state of love and it’s mere hours later that they are professing their love for one another on the fire escape outside her bedroom window. However, this impulsive development of passion is an inescapable requirement of the Romeo and Juliet story, and who am I to question Shakespeare? I think, however, the love story is not what is truly of merit in this film but the world which surrounds it. Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn as Anita and Riff steal the show and both earned welldeserved Oscars for their parts. Songs like America and Gee, Officer Krupke where the two ethnic groups playfully describe their own social problems entertain more than the big romantic duets. Furthermore, unity between the gangs is not only idolised by the star-crossed lovers but also represented when they co-operate in their disrespect for the law. Authority is their real enemy as proven by the sudden camaraderie that is struck between them every time the police are present. Doc says to the Jets when they complain of their woes, ‘for you trouble is a relief’ suggesting that the gangs are looking for something – anything – to fight against and they choose each other to take as the cause to their rebellion. The collaboration of urban-drama director Robert Wise and musical director Jerome Robbins results in a seamless convergence of social drama and musical tradition. It is this portrayal of an all-singing, all-dancing yet dark, brooding and violent youth culture that I feel gives West Side Story its right to be known as one of the greatest film musicals of all time.
The gang members all dress like James Dean and take on a Marlon Brando stare as they loiter in their streets. English subtitles for the opening scene where the Jets snap their fingers whilst overseeing the city read ‘[tough guy clicking]’, and tough guys they are. Disrespectful, disaffected youths were nothing new in this 1961 film and they are not a thing of the past to us. Violence among young people was not a recent phenomenon when the film came out – indeed this violence was taken directly from the film’s Shakespearean source – nor is it anything less than rampant today. But in this film loitering means singing on the streets and fighting is an elegant dance. How much more entertaining would 4am outside Coppers be if drunken fights involved twirling, prancing and leapfrogging?!
The Debate: TFR Believes that Aw Proposition
Written by: Eva Short It seems like an awards system is an inherently good idea– it incentivises excellence and gives an accolade to the most innovative and talented in a given field. This is, at least, what one could be lead to think. In the wake of the Oscars, we must realise that the awards system is far from perfect. In fact, one could say that the system only impacts the film industry negatively. There are a myriad of different award panels and organisations in cinema. In light of this, I have decided to focus on what is indisputably the most high-profile and respected awarding body in cinema, ‘The Academy’.
history never received an award, the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Empire Strikes Back and even Singin’ in the Rain. Neither Humphrey Bogart nor Alfred Hitchcock was ever honoured by the Academy. So what does it take to win the coveted prize? However talented an individual, there is a formula for success that these people must follow to get that golden statuette. While it cannot be definitively proved, it’s apparent that actors will choose projects based on the potential for Oscar success. Past cases have included Charlize Theron “uglying up” for her Oscar winning role in Monster (a true act of martyrdom for the attractive young actress) and Sean Penn taking the titular role in 2008’s Milk amid rumours of him being deeply homophobic. These roles are in themselves varied but all share one thing – they are all ones popular with the wider public. Equally, around ‘Awards Season’ many films will crop up containing certain themes or motifs that have proved popular with the Academy in the past. It seems here the Oscars are shaping cinema, “the tail is wagging the dog”, as opposed to the other way round.
The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (AMPAS) is an organisation comprised of around 6000 individuals working in the motion picture industry. An LA Times survey conducted in February 2012 indicated that 94% of the members are Caucasian, 77% are male, a mere 14% are under the age of fifty and the median age of a member is 62 years old. The figures speak for themselves – AMPAS is a veritable old boys’ club with a body of members more akin to that of an upper class country club than a group that could accurately represent the industry of cinema today. Membership is strictly invite-only and the majority of the members are based in the United States. Needless to say, AMPAS would never extend an invite to anyone who wasn’t like-minded. And yet despite all of this, an Academy Award is seen as the most prestigious honour that can be bestowed upon an actor, director, writer, etc. I suggest that receiving an Oscar isn’t evidence of greatness, but merely evidence of currying favour with a finite group of people. The awarded productions and people are those which are agreeable to this group and any outliers are left in the cold. This explains why every year there are a myriad of egregious Oscar snubs – some of the most influential films in
This wouldn’t be as problematic were it not for how embedded the Oscars are in the public consciousness – Academy Award has connotations with excellence, and getting one can be the making of a person’s career. The event itself is so heavily publicised that the Oscars have become of incredible importance to the motion picture community. Cinema cannot evolve under these conditions – creative expression is being stymied and trends cannot develop in the industry as they naturally should. It only distracts because the industry is too consumed with satisfying a white male patriarchy, who are in turn only concerned with making decisions that will validate their beliefs and promote their public image.
wards are Detrimental to Cinema Opposition
Written by: Amy Chappelhow To say that awards are detrimental to cinema is to treat the subject with blackand-white reasoning. Okay, in some cases it can be argued that no one cares who won the Oscar for best supporting actress in 2009 by the time 2014 rolls around, but I’m sure Penelope Cruz still cares… a lot. For any one who wins a cinema award, that statuette symbolises recognition of their talent. For the writer who has nurtured a script for ten years it proves his worth and for Daniel Day Lewis it proves that that year preparing for Lincoln wasn’t a total waste. It must be noted as well that hundreds of people are involved in making a film. We might not know the names of all the Costume Designers nominated in the awards seasons this year as we do the actors, but by supporting their hard work awards note their achievements in a way that an individual simply enjoying a film cannot. Whatever some may say about voting being political, or even (shock horror) rigged, if your film wins a major award your career has changed direction. It is human nature to want to experience something that has been publically lauded, so I can say with some certainty that Beasts of the Southern Wild will have many more fans now it has been nominated for four awards, including best film, at the Oscars as well as best screenplay at the Baftas – despite originally only playing in the most art-house of art-house cinemas. Behn Zeitlin can look forward to his next project being a lot easier to make in term of funding and distribution now that Beasts has risen from obscurity. Just look at Tom Hooper – from Eastenders to The King’s Speech to Les Misérables, the recognition he gained through awards for The King’s Speech truly changed his life.
For a film to be considered in major awards there are two paths it can take: to rely on its ‘special quality’ which will make people stand up and take notice, as seen in the indie shockers that do inevitably turn up in every awards season; or have a team behind the film that will push it to its limits in terms of marketing. This is exemplified in the Weinstein Brothers film campaigns, which are famed for their expense and strategy. To have such promotion launched behind your film is invaluable, and it is not likely that distributers would make such effort if there were no awards on the table. Turn on the television and it is clear that we are living in a World of Celebrity – X Factor, Teen Mom, Jersey Shore to say nothing of Keeping up with the Kardashians… If the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Baftas and all the independent awards at festivals like Sundance or Dublin’s own Jameson Film Festival do nothing else, they prove that people are still capable of creativity. By this I don’t just mean drama – in the film festival awards especially, one can see awards’ importance in promoting less mainstream mediums of cinema like documentaries. A film like The Imposter experienced good box office statistics, largely because of the hype it created during the film festivals-winning Grand Jury Prize at the Miami Film Festival, and other important awards in festivals around the world, including Sundance. How can something that recognises the greatness of cinema be detrimental to it? If the glitz of the Oscars will make people care about cinema, for whatever reasons, then I hope we can continue to debate who really should have won Best Actor for years to come.
What to Look Out for This Summer Written by Kieran McNulty Once Oscar time – and bloated award ceremonies – are over, we enter the cash-cow period for Hollywood that is blockbuster season. This year is, at least on the surface, not entirely dissimilar to previous years: superhero fatigue has still not sunk in for Hollywood, lazy comedies abound and there are several movies with a numeral beside it (congrats to Fast & Furious 6 for persistence). It’s easy to be cynical about summer movie silliness, especially when watching a lazily written all-star movie time and time again. However, this summer may contain a few stellar flicks that may attract even the most CGI-hating moviegoer.
Current frontrunner for best movie this summer is Star Trek: Into Darkness, the sequel to the 2009 reboot. The plot’s been kept nearly as secret as the ending to Lost, but the gist is that Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the villain, with an identity as yet unknown. But the trailers do seem to promise a pitch-black tale of revenge, set in a universe brilliantly realised by JJ Abrams. There are also two brand new sci-fi films coming out this summer to make sequel-weary moviegoers happy. Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise (hear me out) and Morgan Freeman, features an explorer who ventures into a long since ruinedEarth. But more exciting is Elysium, the follow-up to District 9. Like District 9, it looks set to appeal to our brains as well as our love of watching people kill each other. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in a story that I won’t spoil any details of; save to say that it’s looking promising.
Man of Steel is the latest ‘reboot’ to hit our screens. While 2006’s Superman Returns had its charms, it was met with a muted reception and thus Warner Bros. enlisted the genius team behind the Dark Knight trilogy to ‘reshape’ Superman. Zach Snyder, he of Watchmen and slow motion fame, was chosen to direct. Judging by the trailers, they’ve concocted a brooding and epic affair, with a great cast and a Batman Beginsstyle approach to proceedings that claims to deal with the question of how the real world would react to the existence of a superhuman among their midst. Iron Man 3 looks to take up The Dark Knight Rises mantle of being a story of a hero’s greatest test. However, the less than stellar plot of Iron Man 2 is sure to make many cautious. Meanwhile Pacific Rim offers up monsters vs. robots, which should please everyone, provided it ignores the obvious trap of being completely stupid.
If all these films don’t appeal, the film nearly every student must be anticipating is the prequel to Pixar’s 2003 gem Monsters Inc., Monsters University. Apart from looking fantastic, it should offer a return to form for Pixar after the so-so Brave and Cars 2. That’s the best of what’s going to be a very bloated summer. However it’s pleasing to see that really, Hollywood hasn’t quite given up on excellent films quite yet.
5 Word Reviews 1. Pirates of the Caribbean: X marks the shitty movie. 2. Silver Linings Playbook: Quirky waltzing while on lithium. 3. Argo: Ah here, Ben’s no Mexican! 4. The Hobbit: We’re not using the eagles?! 5. Prometheus: Like LOST but in space. 6. Skyfall: Guns, cars, nudity, Judi Dench. 7. Django Unchained: CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED Christoph Waltz. 8. Les Misérables: More like Sing Sing Revolution. 9. Paperman: Doesn’t work in real life. 10. Cloud Atlas: Behold! Lots of bad prosthetics. 11. Beasts of the Southern Wild: Little girl yells at stuff. 12. Lincoln: Is Daniel really that tall? 13: Zero Dark Thirty: Women never let things go. 14. Amour: Stroke kills mood in rom-com. 15. Snow White and the Huntsman: Who cheated on whom now? 16. The Woman in Black: Harry definitely still can’t act 17. Life of Pi: Castaway, but with a tiger. 18. The Bourne Legacy: Wasn’t as good as Identity. 19. The Bourne Legacy: Wasn’t as good as Supremacy. 20. The Bourne Legacy: Just really s*** in fact.