Friday, 18 May 2018

Filibuster podcast - Cinema Etiquette


When a filmgoer live tweeted Greta Gerwig's alleged reaction to I Feel Pretty, it sparked debate about who was in the wrong and how people should behave when watching a movie.

Dallas and Lee discuss their frustrations with the modern cinema experience and how they believe it can improved. They also share their favourite cinema stories and what makes it such a special place for them.

Also, just what do cinemas do with all those spoons from screenings of The Room?

What are your best and worst movie-going experiences? Where is your favourite place to watch a film?

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Deadpool 2 - review


Sorry Ant-Man and the Wasp. Your delayed August release in the U.K. means that you have been pipped to the post of "small scale comic relief superhero movie designed to lift your spirits following the tragic events of Infinity War" by the Unicorn-riding, Frozen singing, Merc with the Motormouth Deadpool 2.

(Woah I know what those of you reading this are thinking. What's that about? Calling out an unreleased Marvel Studios movie to praise the efforts of another Marvel movie within a review? That is SO Deadpool. Hang on, did I just mention that this was a review within the review. Breaking the fourth wall? Again, that is SO Deadpool!)

It can be a challenging prospect to write a review about Deadpool 2. Why? There is always a chance that the marketing team at 20th Century Fox (or is it Disney now? I can't keep up. It's as confusing as the X-Men timelines) could use what you say to work for one of their self-deprecating campaigns;

"Deadpool 2 is like an overstuffed chimichanga. Yes, it is tasty, satisfying and value for money at the time and you wolf down every morsel but you could wake up the morning after looking like Josh Brolin in an Instagram video wondering why you did it to yourself"

Or even worse, Ryan Reynolds himself might see it and print out a copy to call you out on your review right in the middle of (the inevitable) Deadpool 3: Dirty Harry.

So is it best to just stick to delivering something in the standard review format? Perhaps using WikiHow's guide to writing a film review?

1. Start with a compelling fact or opinion about the film
This film is the first Deadpool film to feature the number 2 in the title.

2. Give a clear well, established opinion early on
"Deadpool 2 is like an overstuffed chimichanga. Yes, it is tasty, satisfying and value for money at the time and you wolf down every morsel but you could wake up the morning after looking like Josh Brolin in an Instagram video wondering why you did it to yourself" (Oh dammit, see why did you write that? I told you not to earlier on. See above for details!)

3. Write your review
See above and below this line of text.

4. Move beyond obvious plot analysis
In Deadpool 2, our hero must save a kid from Josh Brolin's Thanos Cable, who has travelled back in time to kill the younger version of an evil mutant who is responsible for killing the people that he loves.
If I was Rian Johnson, the writer-director of Looper, a film about a man who must stop the older version of himself who has travelled back in time to kill a kid responsible for murdering the person he loves, I would be calling my intellectual property lawyers about now.

5. Bring your review full circle in the ending
See end of review where Deadpool picks up the young mutant and shows him off like the young lion in the musical number The Circle of Life in The Lion King... say what you want about the rest of the film, turns out Wade Wilson is spot on about Frozen ripping off Yentl for Do You Wanna Build A Snowman? But I digress!

6. Gather basic facts about your movie
Ryan Reynolds is the only actor to appear in all 65 episodes of Canadian TV show Hillside (1990)

7. Take notes while you watch it
"Remember to take the rubbish out when you get home. Recycling collection is tomorrow."
"Need more almond milk because I am a vegan millennial now apparently. When did this happen?"
"This reminds me. I must rewatch Green Lantern at some point"

8. Analyse the mechanics of the movie
There were no mechanics featured in the film. Sadly Jason Statham's The Mechanic also did not appear.

9. Watch it one more time.
Ryan Reynolds and Fox will be happy about that. Good thing I have an Unlimited card!

Okay, let's get serious for a minute. Something that this film cannot do. I mean people complain about the MCU undercutting emotional scenes with humour. This film has a bigger undercut than Brolin's hairstyle as Cable.

Deadpool was a huge success and it worked because of Ryan Reynolds' commitment to the project and the character. He is Wade Wilson in the way that Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark. A perfect marriage of character and actor. Something that I'm sure Wilson and Reynolds would do if they were allowed.

The sequel makes no apologies from the outset in dialling everything that worked about the first one all the way up to 11 (just like Cable's gun) including pops at Hugh Jackman and Logan for upstaging them, a brief spot of fridging and a Bond-esque opening credit sequence.

Just like Instagram, this film has #NoFilter and absolutely everyone is a target including Marvel Studios, D.C. Comics, Stranger Things, The Goonies et all.

It's not that the film or schtick is tired yet, it's just exhausting. There are SO many jokes that is difficult to remember them all once you have left the theatre which kind of indicates that there wasn't a stand out (or balls out) joke beyond a basic Basic Instinct reference.

That being said is is still a wild, enjoyable ride for even if not all the jokes land, it doesn't matter because there is another right behind it. In fact, it is probably up there with Airplane for its joke-per-minute ratio.

The only major disappointment (beyond the Fridging of a major character which initially could have been a parody of that writing trope but sadly wasn't) was the over-reliance on CGI in the fight scenes (to the point where Deadpool cues one up with "Big CGI fight time") which meant that "one of the guys who killed John Wick's dog" is unable to truly show off what he can do with an action sequence. I guess we have to wait for the Fast & Furious spin-off with The Rock and The Stath. Speaking of which, wasn't it odd that with all the mention of "family" in the film that there were no references to those movies?
So bringing it full circle jerk. Like a superhero landing on the knees, Deadpool sticks to what he knows and delivers a hilarious, enjoyable, diverting comic book movie. Even if it is not one that will subvert the genre like the original.
Like Deadpool himself, as long as there are other superhero movies to take the piss out of, this is going to be one franchise that won't die and is likely to run and run and run just like Wade's mouth.

3 stars

Friday, 11 May 2018

I Feel Pretty - review


Hmmm, just like the main character Renee (Amy Schumer) and her body, I have very conflicted views on I Feel Pretty and am not entirely sure what I am meant to be looking at.
On one hand it is supposedly an inspiring tale for all women who have insecurities about their bodies and that the self-esteem and confidence to make your dreams come true is within you the whole time.
On the other hand, the woman in the film telling the audience this is someone who is incredibly successful in her own life and only in the fashion world (in which the film is set) could she ever be considered "unattractive".
Yes, women everywhere are constantly bombarded with magazines, adverts, TV programmes and movies showing them how "society" believes we should all look and it sucks. It is a huge issue and one that the film tries to tackle by having Schumer's character join the front of house of a fashion company and it makes some valid points but also some terrible ones. For example, Renee gets the job of the receptionist because she wants to be "seen" but admits it is actually a step down for her in terms of pay.
But the film is not just about changing the fashion company's views towards everyday women. It is about Renee changing her view of herself.
It should get some credit for doing a body swap comedy in which the body is never swapped.
Schumer is Schumer the entire time and at no point is there any Shallow Hal-style fat suits or she suddenly wakes up in the body of Jennifer Lawrence.
If this concept sounds like Big then you would be right and it even features a scene of Renee watching the film and wishing she could be beautiful. Cue an accident during a spin cycle class and a knock on the head which makes her believe she is beautiful.
This is where the issues start to slowly creep in. It is never really established whether Renee is seeing someone else in the mirror or whether she truly believes that her actual body is beautiful.
Obviously everyone else sees the real Renee, albeit one now exuding an overabundance of confidence that makes her (initially) more attractive and appealing to everyone she meets.
The film then follows the body swap movie/Big/13 Going On 30/17 Again template to the letter.
Her big change allows her to gain everything that she ever wanted. Her dream job, success, a boyfriend, etc. etc. but the further she goes down the rabbit hole, the more she starts to believe the hype and alienates those who loved her for who she was such as her friends and new love Ethan (played by the non-typical leading man Rory Scovel).
What is interesting about the film is that looking back on it, Renee is always treated the same way by the men in her life. They are attracted to her beauty and confidence, even when stood against supermodels types as exhibited in the bikini contest sequence. The real body shaming issues actually come from fellow women, particularly those who work within the Lily LeClaire fashion house.
Despite all the talk recently of women should be supporting other women, this movie reinforces the idea that women are in competition with each other for work, men, success, etc.
The only person that sees Renee as a friend and ally is Michelle Williams' Avery LeClaire. She sees her as someone different, not afraid to say what she thinks and the perfect person to help deliver a new make up line aimed at the everyday woman on the street (not that kind of woman!).
Unlike The Devil Wears Prada, Avery is a boss who is honest and likeable in her treatment of Renee and is played with this Betty Boop-esque high-pitched squeak by Williams which is an inspired decision and leads to some of the film's best moments and makes her relatable as she struggles with confidence and not being taken seriously due to her voice.
It will be no surprise to anyone who has ever seen this type of film before that she suddenly loses her "looks" and crashes hard, believing her life is now over that she has lost everything (looks, job, friends, love interest) all through her own undoing.
Despite its best intentions for a last minute course redirect to stay on point on the film's message in the final act once our lead character realises that "it was inside me all along", the delivery falls kind of flat.
The moment that it lost its audience is probably when Schumer chastises Emily Ratajkowski for worrying about her looks and love life when she looks like that and the women in the cinema auditorium are screaming the same thing back at her.
For an example of this, check out this Twitter moment of someone live tweeting Greta Gerwig's reactions to the film while watching it.
So when it comes down to it, I Feel Pretty confident in saying that the end result is one that feels not pretty but pretty confused, not that witty or bright.

2 stars

Friday, 4 May 2018

Tully - Review


Tully is the final part of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman's Womanhood trilogy. They began with Juno, about a young woman facing an unexpected pregnancy. Young Adult saw a woman unable to accept growing up and Tully sees a grown woman overwhelmed by the pressures of being a mother.
Charlize Theron, who was dynamite in the trio's previous collaboration Young Adult, is Marlo, a woman nearing the end of her rope. She is a mother of three, including a newborn and a young son with behavioural problems and possibly on the spectrum. She is barely keeping her head afloat yet alone treading water.
Jason Reitman helps to establish this with a wonderful jump cut montage that brings to mind the work of his directorial doppelganger Edgar Wright.
Her faithful but distant husband is too busy working to help so her rich brother hires her a night nanny to help ease her heavy load. Despite her initial misgivings that is. She even says what the audience is thinking, "That's like a Lifetime movie where the nanny tries to kill the family and the mom survives and she has to walk with a cane at the end".
Yes, you think that the movie has potential to go down the Hand That Rocks The Cradle route or the tired "nanny becoming involved with the husband" routine but this is not that film.
This is a warts-and-all, honest, raw portrayal of motherhood featuring an astounding central performance from Theron who will have every single mother in the world nodding along in agreement at the film. This is a woman, like George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, in need of saving and her angel is just around the corner.
When the eponymous Tully makes her entrance, she seems to good to be true. Similar to another infamous nanny, she is practically perfect in every way. Young, attractive, full of life yet full of wisdom and instantly connects with newborn Mia and Marlo.
Mackenzie Davis (Black Mirror, Blade Runner 2049) pitches it perfectly, cleverly avoiding becoming a pixie girl stereotype and instead embodying everything that Marlo misses about herself and wishes she could be.
Her appearance gives Marlo a second lease at life. Allowing her to connect with her children and husband again but also making time for herself. This leads to a hilarious road trip for a spontaneous night out in "the city" where they head to Brooklyn listening Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun but goes through the entire album before they reach their destination.
But Tully's being there was only meant to be a temporary fix. A balm. A band aid that Marlo will eventually have to rip off and get back to normality and the third acts developments have proved divisive for some but for this reviewer they worked perfectly given the set up and are executed beautifully.

4 stars

Beast - review


Beast is an unusual, well, beast. The story of woman who becomes increasingly suspicious that the man she is involved with is responsible for a series of murders on the island of Jersey could be the plot of a regional crime drama like Midsomer Murders. Yet here, writer-director Michael Pearce presents it here as a dark adult fairy tale, like a modern take on the Brothers Grimm.
Jessie Buckley (Taboo) is Moll, a young woman who is forced to stay at home to look after her ailing father by her wicked, domineering mother (Geraldine James).
After escaping her birthday party, she meets the mysterious woodsman Pascale (Johnny Flynn) and begins a torrid love affair that will have serious repurcussions for the both of them.
For there is a killer on the remote island, stalking young women. Is Pascale Moll's prince/knight in shining armour or is he the big, bad wolf?
Pearce tells the whole story from Moll's point of view, keeping the audience with her as she is faced with a choice whether or not to trust the man she loves. But is she trustworthy herself? For Moll may have her own secrets buried deep.
Buckley is superb as a woman who was kept under the thumb of a controlling woman, finally breaking free and embracing womanhood and her burgeoning sexuality (as all good fairy tales are about).
Johnny Flynn is perfectly ambiguous as the stranger Pascale. Walking that tightrope between charming and dangerous with effortless ease.
The film is shot with a ethereal beauty, particularly the nighttime scenes which turn a seemingly tranquil, safe island into a world filled with mystery, intrigue and horror.
It takes some dramatic leaps in the third act that may be too out of left field for some audiences but this is a film that from the outset never guarantees this will be a case of "happily ever after".
This is one Beast burdened with glorious purpose.

4 stars

Want to know more about this Fantastic Beast and Where To Find It? Then click here - https://www.rottentomatoes.com/showtimes/?movies=%5B771484193%5D

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Custody - review


At the moment, given the box office headlines, you might be forgiven for thinking that Avengers Infinity War is the only film out in cinemas at the moment.
However there are a few smaller films out there that are fighting for the audiences' attention and love... similar to the battle at the heart of the Glasgow Film Festival award winner Custody.
Written and directed by Xavier Legrand, this character study of a custody battle between two bitter exes is mainly viewed through the eyes of the youngest son. Who at times, is nothing more than a weapon wielded by one party to inflict pain on the other.
The film begins with with a very mundane, matter of fact arbitration hearing with both parties blaming the other for the breakdown of the marriage. She claims he is violent and he claims she is a liar and manipulative.
Throughout the course of the story, the truth slowly begins to emerge. Even if things are never truly black and white until the final act.
Actor Denis Minochet is superb as the father who is a whirlwind of emotions. Effortlessly moving from rage to heartbreak in a single scene,
He will be familiar to some as the French farmer who is visited by Christoph Waltz's Hans Landa in the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, which was another masterpiece of tension.
Legrand deliberately plays the long game here to spectacular effect.
Audiences watching Custody will be like the frog that is placed in a pan of water. Rather than dropping us straight into a visceral and direct formulaic thriller and potentially losing us, Legrand instead perfectly executes the slow build. Pulling you further and further in to the family dynamic before it all comes crashing down in spectacular fashion.
It is only when it is too late that we realise that Legrand has slowly been turning up the temperature throughout the film and we find ourselves boiling alive and in a situation that is so tense that your fingers will need surgically removed from the armrests at the end of the film.

4 stars

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Avengers Infinity War - On Location in Edinburgh


Avengers Infinity War is the culmination of ten years and eighteen films of the Marvel Studios and you can read my full 5 star review here that is more glowing than a fistful of infinity stones.
The film's release this weekend is a cinematic event of monumental scale and looks set to have box office records falling before it faster than War Machine out of the sky after being blasted by Vision.
Wind the clock back a year to a cold, dark night in Edinburgh in early April, where hundreds of Marvel fans were patiently camped out on the Royal Mile for a glimpse of some action.


Yes, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had come to Scotland.
Edinburgh was chosen by directors the Russo Brothers as the only location outside of their Atlanta base for filming Infinity War and Marvel Studios spent six weeks in the Capital doing night shoots for a major sequence involving Scarlet Witch and Vision.
Not only was there a night shoot taking place on the Royal Mile and inside Waverley Station but the team took over a hanger at Leith harbour and turned it into a makeshift sound studio for filming.
Reports estimate that the shoot brought in around £10 million to the local economy and furthers the argument for Scotland to have its own proper film studio.
During April, Twitter was alive with rumoured sightings around town of Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany and Chris Evans. Anthony Mackie's Falcon had flown the coop to St. Andrews for a round of golf and Team Thor (Hemsworth, Ruffalo and Tessa Thompson) were spotted at the Waldorf Astoria.
So enamoured with the city was co-director Joe Russo, he returned during the world press tour to screen 20 minutes of footage to a hugely appreciative crowd of fans. Full report here.
With the plot kept a complete secret until the film was released, fans were left to wildly theorise and speculate as to the plot of the sequence shot in Edinburgh.
Based on what was seen, it appeared as though Scarlet Witch and Vision were hiding out in Edinburgh following the events of Captain America: Civil War. They seek to fan the flames of their burgeoning  relationship when they are attacked by Thanos's Black Order, looking to reclaim the Mind Stone.

*Mild spoiler warning - the plot of Avengers: Infinity War will be briefly discussed from this point but nothing that is not already featured in the trailers*

Upon seeing the film, this is pretty much how this storyline plays out but with the addition of Steve Rogers, Black Widow and Falcon arriving to save the day.

What is immediately noticeable to anyone from Edinburgh, is how geographically accurate the sequence is. The action flows from Cockburn Street up to the Royal Mile before heading back down the road to Waverley Station. This level of accuracy is something that T2 Trainspotting could not even achieve!

So if you want to visit the "set" of Avengers Infinity War, here are the spots to go:

Miss Katie Cupcake, 52 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh


Don’t worry if you don’t immediately recognise the location because Miss Katie Cupcake, a vintage inspired store, was transformed into Hüsnü Kebab House for the purposes of filming.


This is where Vision and Scarlet Witch stop to discuss their relationship. Probably before sampling some of that Avengers-favourite schwarma or the Scottish twist on the delicacy - the deep fried kebab - pay attention for the sign in the window.


Laila's Bistro, 63 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh



Scarlet Witch is sent flying through the window of this Mediterranean bistro by Proxima Midnight before returning to save Vision as Glaive attempts to remove the Mind Stone rather forcibly.


St. Giles' Cathedral, High Street, Edinburgh



Located on the High Street on the Royal Mile, St. Giles' is the historic city church of Edinburgh. Some of the fight scene between Vision, Corvus Glaive and Scarlet Witch takes place upon the top of the Cathedral.

City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh



Down on the street below the Cathedral, Proxima Midnight and Scarlet Witch go one on one outside the City Chambers, resulting in the spectacular explosion that featured in the above video.

Waverley Rail Station, Edinburgh








The site of the biggest night shoot for filming, the attempt to retrieve the Mind Stone from Vision's head climaxes inside Edinburgh's main railway station and sees the appearance of Captain America's beard (no, not Sharon Carter!), Black Widow and Falcon to turn the tide and save the day.


An area towards the rear of the station next to Platform 20 was cordoned off for the duration of filming. A green screen was installed along with a fake coffee shop that could and would be destroyed in the fight.

 

For those wanting to recreate the moment Steve Rogers emerges from the shadows, you will need to hop over to Platform 1 and look for the third alcove which has some graffiti and a mark on a brick that makes it easier to identify.


The station has installed a couple of standing screens displaying photographs from the filming plus video and still images from the final film to allow fans to check out exactly where the shots were taken. That way you can recreate the scenes from the movie using cosplay, LEGO figures or just yourself.

So there you have it. complete guide to the Edinburgh locations featured in Avengers Infinity War. We'll just all have to wait and see if there is a deleted post-credit scene where Thanos goes for a deep fried kebab to celebrate a job well done!