The Onion | Short Film

Hello all! I’ve been away for a while. But believe me, there have been some incredible films coming out lately, that I am hoping to write about!

But for now. I would like to share with you all a short film that I was director and cinematographer for! It’s a dark comedy about a man who falls in love with an onion, but alas…everyone has their layers. I would love to hear feedback from you all. This was a really enjoyable process from start to finish. I really enjoyed doing the cinematography for this, with the simple camera movements that just give a little bit of tension to the scene.

Soon, there is going to be a director’s cut, and a possible re-score for the short. Unfortunately, there were some clashes in opinions in the process, which is the reasoning for this re-cut, but I’m still so proud of the process and everyone involved. So please. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

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The Onion | Short Film

American Beauty | Personal Work

For a very long time, I have been wanting to write a post about the masterpiece that is American Beauty. Alas, this post is still not that. But, I did want to share with you all my latest work that I have done as a part of my university course. It is an adaptation of the closing monologue, originally portrayed by my hero, Kevin Spacey, where the character of Lester Burnham looks back on his life.

LISTEN WITH HEADPHONES IF YOU HAVE ANY – THERE IS SOME NICE BASS IN THIS AND IT WOULD BE A SHAME FOR IT TO BE WASTED ON CRAPPY SPEAKERS

The brief of this project was to adapt a poem or a part of a movie, in order to test you post-production skills. I was really eager to start this term as the first two terms of my course were pretty gruelling. I study Digital Film Production at Ravensbourne, which I realise now is actually a very good place to go, and very respected in the industry, which is lucky I guess. At first, I didn’t realise how important it was that I got into this particular uni, but as time passes by, I realise just how many inspirational people I come face to face with every day. One of my main tutors was actually nominated for a BAFTA this year, for the short film category, which is absolutely incredible. Like I said, I am incredibly lucky.

This project has been particularly important to me, for the fact that the film is just so inspirational to me. American Beauty truly is a masterpiece, and is so deep on so many levels, and deepened my love for Kevin Spacey further. It seemed only natural for me to adapt this, as I would be able to pour my heart into it. If you watch, it is perhaps obvious that I am no Guru at After Effects, or even Premiere, but it is an incredible step up from my previous word, and I am extremely proud of myself and the work that I have put into it.

I think another reason that this video is so important to me is that in itself, it features a huge amount of my life in it. Like I said, the closing monologue in American Beauty is that of a man who is reflecting on is life as he slips away, and so to create this, I had to dig into the archives of my hard-drives and fish out some old footage of mine that I have taken the past years. Though I wasn’t able to put any cringe-y baby videos of myself in, I was able to create the illusion that these videos were from an entire life-time. Everyone that you see in this video is either a great friend or a relative. The characters of Janie and Carolyn are in fact my sister and mother, who are the light of my life. All of this, plus the incident portrayed in the video and in American Beauty and the soundtrack, oh my god, all successfully work together to create quite a powerful little video – at least to myself and my family.

And can we take a moment just to appreciate the hell out of this soundtrack? It is absolutely beautiful, the whole thing is. But especially this classic song. It is so beautiful, and power, and awesome, in the literal sense, that I am almost moved to tears every time I had to listen to it all the way through for the edit. If you have never taken the time to sit and listen to the soundtrack properly, then I strongly suggest that you do. It’s an incredibly famous soundtrack that I’m sure that everyone would be able to recognise at least one score from it. Try Mental Boy or Arose, both by Thomas Newman. Absolute masterpieces.

So yes. I would love to hear feedback all who see this, and I hope that you enjoy the adaptation. And go watch American Beauty if you haven’t already – I’m sure that you won’t regret it!

A screenshot of myself in the adaptation
A screenshot of myself in the adaptation
American Beauty | Personal Work

Locke

More often than not, you see huge posters plastered over every building and billboard in your area of the next big budget film with great effects, amazing marketing, yet a poor story line. Locke, I would safely say is on the other side of the spectrum. In my opinion, for my personal travels, which maintains mostly just the 486 bus  route and perhaps the jubilee line here and there, I really haven’t seen that many posters for Locke. The only reason that I heard anything about it in the first place was because of last months Empire magazine. I have enjoyed all the work of Tom Hardy’s that I have seen previously, and the idea of just this one man in his car for the entirety of the film interested me incredibly.

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Locke

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

When I heard that there was going to be a re-boot of the Spider-Man films so close after the Tobey Maguire ones, I was just a tiny bit outraged. Then I heard that it would star Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man and I instantly perked up. Generally re-boots and remakes aren’t as good as the first ones, but every now and then, one breaks out of the mould and succeeds its predecessor. In my opinion, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spiderman 1have done just that. For this review however, I will be focusing solely on the latter.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Transcendence

I was asked the other day if I ever do any negative reviews on my blog. As of yet, I have only have one or two. And, today, unfortunately, I care to make it three or four. When I first saw the trailer for Transcendence, I remember just thinking to myself ‘…what is that even about?’. Though it shows, somewhat, a lot of promise, I have to say that I personally strongly disagree after having seen the whole 2 hours of it.

The problem with this film for me is that it felt like they were trying to shove too many morals and messages down my throat the entire time. The concept of the film is actually an incredibly intelligent one – incorporating the human conscious and a full range of human emotions into AI. That’s what it is basically about. That and the tragedy of a woman’s undying love for her husband as he passes away from radiation poisoning after being shot. Oh, and the fact that all this technology will ruin mankind, represented by a group of radicals that perform a series of attacks in labs over the country. And how can I forget that eventually, the movie is about how nature is the way forward and not technology perhaps. Do you understand where I’m getting at here? Though all of these ideas do, in theory, go hand in hand with one another, I felt like put into practice, it is far too busy to comprehend in one movie, and comes off a little preachy.

Though the shoving of messages down one’s throats can be somewhat excused, poor acting and an illogical plot can be less excused.

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I haven’t seen Rebecca Hall in anything else other than The Town and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, both so forgettable that I had failed to remember that I watched them, so I can’t say that I went into the cinema with any kinda of expectation. But, boy, did I come out with some opinions on her acting. I can’t decide if it was just how her character was supposed to be portrayed, but everything about Evelyn Caster was so unconvincing. I actually laughed out loud in the cinema at a line where she is supposed to have felt violated by her now completely computerised and pixelised husband, who now has the ability to read her emotions and hormones, in which she just ‘exclaims’ ‘you can’t do that – you’re not allowed!’ and proceeds to walk off. ‘You’re not allowed!’? Either this is unimaginative script writing or she is supposed to sound vulnerable but I just found that particular line absolutely hilarious. In general, she is either completely emotionless and boring, or she over-reacts in the wrong situations.

I really am starting to loose faith in Johnny Depp. The past films that he has chosen to star in have mostly been a small portion of awful, and Transcendence just adds to that. It’s sad, because I don’t want to see Johnny Depp become another Robert De Niro, where everyone just kinda sighs when they see him in a new movie. To me, Depp just seemed to be an actor to carry the film through an economic success – with his face plastered on every surface where ever I go, it’s clear to see the choice the film makers made when they decided to cast Depp. It’s at this point that I realise that as a movie distributed by Warner Bros. there was perhaps more attention paid to getting this thing in people’s minds (funny, considering its subject matter), that they will just have to see it, as opposed to actually focusing on refining the story and making this the success it could have so easily have been.

In fact, it was perhaps the cast that did manage to let this film down. With an incredibly rich cast, including Morgan freaking Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Paul Bettany (who I had completely forgotten excisted since Wimbledon) and Kate Mara, you’d think that they had all made incredibly informed decisions as to why they decided to star in this film. But in the end, it just all kinda amounts to really not that much.

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In terms of the story, there are just parts in with it seems illogical. I admit that this might just my personal reaction, as I find it quite hard to suspend my belief for these kinds of movies where its set in the future so that I can’t properly fathom it. It gets to the point where the AI that Will Caster’s mind combined with and breakthrough research in nano-science are able to create human body parts in a matter of minutes. Also, these un-explained electronic particles are able to float in the air and repair shit wherever it goes and ‘infect’ rain water. I dunno, its complex, but not in a way that seems intelligent. An aspect of the story that particularly bothered me is that Evelyn is somehow able to build a super lab/computer underground a nearly deserted town in two years with a guy who only has six workers. Though I will shamefully admit that I found myself dosing off at this part so it’s incredibly likely that I missed a vital piece of information.

I realise that this particular entry sounds a little ranty but I kinda wanted this film to prove me wrong in terms of my initial reaction to the trailer, but it just confirmed all my thoughts, whole-heartedly.

I would perhaps recommend this film to a broad mainstream audience as it is quite a cool concept and different to a lot of films out there, but I think that if you are  a cinephile of any kind, you may want to avoid this film. There are many other sci-fi fantasy films that will feed your brain better then this pile of codswollop.

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If you have a film that you would like me to review, then feel free to leave a comment and I will try to get to it! All opinions and discussions welcomed.

Transcendence

The Double

Ever since I heard that Richard Ayoade was releasing another film, I was immensely excited. Then I saw that it had TWO Jesse Eisenberg’s in it, and I was even more excited. Then I saw the trailer and I was practically overcome with excitement! And then the day came – where I journeyed to the cinema, with a particularly favourite human, sat in my seat, and finally experienced this glorious movie.

This film is a cinephile’s dream…perhaps. I at least would say so. If you appreciate the technique of film making then you will appreciate the heck out of this movie, just as I did. When I say this, I mean that aspects like the grade, the colours and lighting used through out, (and the lack of it) and the sound makes up a huge majority of what makes this film so enjoyable. It’s a proper treat to the eye. You can tell that a huge amount of thought has gone into the look of the film to create a particular atmosphere. Though it may not be as beautiful as, say, Baz Lurhmann or Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s work, it doesn’t mean it is not impressive. It all works hand in hand to create a dark, dank, grimey, claustrophic atmosphere set in a timeless world, or perhaps just in the 60s/70s (I’m bad with my eras but everything looked a little worse for wear) which was all very surreal. Perhaps because it wasn’t presented as a period film, it meant that such old clunky technology aided the surreal atmosphere the Ayoade was aiming for. It’s very peculiar. Many of the machines seen in the film absolutely fascinated me, because I simply had no clue what they were for – I’m not entirely sure even the characters knew! But it served to present a very other-worldy parallel universe to support such a peculiar story.

Beautiful and interesting visuals
Beautiful and interesting visuals

An aspect I mentioned that I want to expand on really quickly is the use of the sound in this film. The soundtrack is so interesting, and confusing – a lot of the songs use real life sound effects, like buttons pressing, or footsteps on the group, that its very jilting when you realise that the sound is non-diegetic (sound or music that doesn’t exist in the world of the film). As well as this, the music at points builds up to a point where it will simply cut off where another will interrupt and take its place. Its oddly comedic, and awkward – exactly like Richard Ayoade’s style.

Though the character of Simon James is strikingly similar to other characters that Eisenberg is used to playing, the difference in him and his doppleganger James Simon (a clever take on those bastards that have two first names – I will here on accuse them of being the reverse’s evil doppleganger) is a great performance. The difference purely in the body language shows the vast difference in the two’s approach to the world, even though they look exactly the same. It’s really cool to watch. I felt very much at two completely ends of the spectrum when it came to how I felt about the character’s as well – on one hand, with Simon James, I felt very sorry for him – a social reject who is cripplingly awkward when it comes to everything – then we have James Simon who is ironically supposed to be more the likeable and socially apt of the two, yet I absolutely despised him. He is just a complete tool. At first when he is introduced and you know nothing about him, you are kinda rooting for him to be able to change Simon’s life around, but as the story develops, you just end up liking him less and less. Though like I said, Eisenberg’s character(s) are similar to those he has played before but it is an impressing performance none the less. The film has a mixture of recognisable faces, including Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige who played the characters of Oliver and Jordana in Ayoade’s previous feature, Submarine, which I thought was maybe Ayoade paying a homage to his previous work as these characters are fairly minor. I adore pretty much anything that Mia Wasikowska appears in even if the first thing I saw her in was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which was, in my opinion, god awful, but this movie just serves as another that will gradually push her even further into a respectable stardom.

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Simon James and James Simon by Jesse Eisenberg and Eisenberg Jesse

The story is very particular, very interesting and hurts your brain in a wonderful way, though I know that others would disagree. Whilst it would be near impossible to say that this is a bad film, I don’t think that it is a film for a majority of the mainstream audience. I would recommend this more to people who enjoy alternate cinema, who enjoy films that have a narrative that aren’t crystal clear or simple, and have a complex way of telling a story that inspires discussion once the movie is over. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of watching this film, and figuring out what the reality of the situation is, and I think that once I am aware of more people who have watched it, I would love to have discussion about it (if you have any thoughts, feel free to comment below! I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this film). As such a household name in Britain, I feel almost proud when Richard Ayoade releases a film. He is carving himself a very nice little Auteur signature and I can’t wait to see what this wonderful human brings to the table next time round.

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The Double

Apologies Part II

Argh. Part II because I’ve been a terrible blogger in the past couple of months. 
To be honest, various things have happened, one massive thing called UNIVERSITY, which I’ve kinda had to concentrate on, for obvious reasons.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been feeling super stressed and pressured that I kind of just shut down for a while. I lost all motivation to film or write or edit any of the film that I’ve taken from the holidays that I took in the summer. It’s like everything that was creative in me just kinda vanished for the past couple of months and to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure why. But now that I’m getting back into the swing of things and have gotten over the first couple of weeks of uni and have made some new friends, I can feel myself starting to settle down again and begin thinking about actually doing some more writing. I’m hoping that I can use this blog as a medium of getting my work out there and to try and think about my work constructively. We’re having to make a film basically every other week at the minute, with the first one done already, so I’m hoping that I will have lots of work to show you all in the very near future.

In the mean time, I will start to really discipline myself and get backing into thinking constructively about film and start by actually going to the cinema for the first time in months. It doesn’t help that there hasn’t really been anything inspiring out the entire summer apart from The World’s End and maybe Kick Ass 2, but I didn’t see that. Oh, and of course Monsters University, which I did consider writing a review on, but I didn’t think that it would be necessarily appropriate as its just obviously amazing. Luv u Pixar x. But seriously, there are some great movies out currently, Blue Jasmine, The Fifth Estate, Captain Phillips, Filth, I really don’t have a good enough excuse to be going to the cinema and writing about them. It became apparent to me the other day that I would probably have to start going to the cinema on my own, and I really don’t care about that to be honest. In fact, I’m almost excited about the concept!

My last excuse is the fact that I’m practically living in London now, with my dad and step-mum. It’s pretty easy going, but it’s going to take a while to settle down properly, so I’ve just been trying to really focus on settling down and feeling comfortable and trying to get more familiar with London.

So yes. Excuses, excuses, I apologise profusely, but these things happen! Look forward to some more reviews in the up coming weeks and some of my own work that I will be putting on here! To have a look at any work that I have previously worked on, click right here! Enjoy, and I’ll be posting within the next week…I promise….

Apologies Part II