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alexjames96
Jun 16, 2018
In Film Reviews
Although A Quiet Place was not one of the more recent films I have seen this year, it remains embedded within my memory, purely due to its unusual but simultaneously genius craftsmanship. A Quiet Place is basically what it says on the tin, however this sci-fi/horror cleverly highlights how basic aspects within cinema, such as sound, have the power to influence the way in which the viewer absorbs the film. To remove the sound entirely, heightens our senses and creates for an intense viewing experience, the perfect setup for an exhilarating, cinematic journey. Director and actor John Krasinski situates the family in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by monsters who become triggered by sound due to their ultra-sensitive hearing, forcing the family to live in silence. If it isn’t obvious at this point, the film is silent for a majority of the viewing time. This is a difficult scenario for those that enjoy chowing down on crisps and popcorn (such as me) when setting up to watch a film. I did, unfortunately for me, have to give the food a miss throughout the film, as so kindly highlighted by my dear friend, I tend to sound like I’m chewing on a bag of rusty nails rather than a bag of popcorn. Nevertheless… I was impressed with Krasinski’s work, and even more delighted with both him and his wife’s performance. Emily Blunt plays Evelyn Abbott, wife of Lee Abbott (Krasinski), perhaps being a couple on and off the screen aided the narrative and enabled both audience and characters to witness the strong connection between the two. I thought it was a brilliant move to cast Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actress who played the daughter of Lee and Evelyn Abbott. This I felt encouraged the audience to look beyond their own lives and empathise, for a moment, with those who live a life without sound and the difficulties which can arise from this. The lack of sound throughout, places more emphasis on the character's reactions and gestures. Although speaking through sign language, it is interesting to see the persona of each character through mere gestures. For example, John Kransinski’s fatherly role lead him towards the overly protective stance and therefore, his signing is cutting and direct. Whereas Evelyn as the mother meant that her gestures were of a more calm and gentle manner, representing her loving and caring side. I am a BIG horror fan and thoroughly enjoy the adrenaline and excitement which comes from watching them. I believe what makes for a successful scare fest is the mystery that resides within. This, in my opinion, creates for the more frightening of horrors. A Quiet Place does reveal the monsters explicitly, which I feel can prohibit a strong and fearful reaction from the audience. The family remain in silence through fear of these monsters, therefore, I feel the film should have kept with its central theme of sound and the audience should only hear the monsters and not become fully exposed to them. This would strengthen the overall narrative as well as fuel the genre and make for a thrilling experience. Furthermore, I felt that the overall storyline avoided bombarding the audience with copious amounts of information as to the reasoning behind the monsters presence. The plot is simple, and the audience are thrown into the midst of the action without the need to know any background information. Instead, the audience are able to focus on the characters, their relationships and how they have adapted to the situation at hand. The film, as well as the characters, are ultimately driven by fear and paranoia which evokes similar heavy emotions from the audience. I encourage everyone to take a gamble and can safely say that silence has never been so deafening.
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alexjames96
Feb 17, 2018
In Film Reviews
On Sunday night, my friend and I came to the decision that it was finally time we crawled out of the pits we students call beds, and head to our nearest Curzon to watchThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (McDonagh, 2017). We staggered in from the cold, with smuggled bags of popcorn, sweets and other junk we could manage to remotely hide as we flopped into our seats. Despite being told multiple times by a variety of people that the discovery of a 50p bag of popcorn stuffed under my jumper, will not lead to my dismissal from the cinema with my head buried in shame. Nevertheless, the myth haunts me to this very day and I choose to walk in with the same sweat on my brow, as if I were walking through customs with a bag of heroine strapped to my stomach, instead of a bag of Nik-Naks from the corner shop. Finally settled, I allowed my excitement to take over. I have been eagerly waiting for a film that dares to delve down the tricky path that is dark comedy. Three Billboard executes the genre flawlessly and managed to send both my friend and I on a rollercoaster of emotions, discussing uncomfortable topics, exposing us to brutal violence and even accomplishing laughter here and there amongst the upsetting drama. We follow Mildred Hayes, played by Frances Mcdormand, a stern, seemingly emotionless woman who demands justice over the painful loss of her daughter. Sadly, her daughter was brutally raped and murdered with not a peep to be heard from the police over catching the monster that inflicted such agony. Mildred begins to take matters into her own hands and sticks up three billboards to mock and encourage Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) to come out of hiding and find the culprit. Of course Mildred’s act of vengeance brought attention from the media which only helped bring the case to light. However, the billboards also attracted negative attention and much backlash, especially from Deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an emotionally unstable and abusive character with mummy issues coming out the ying yang! Sam Rockwell’s performance has to be the most challenging and simultaneously, the most captivating throughout the entirety of the film. Without giving too much away, Rockwell manages to make the transition from a notoriously hated, senseless being to an empathetic and caring character seeking redemption. However, it seems that the film did not hold a real ‘hero’ so to speak. McDonagh has produced multiple characters who are flawed and enduring the suffering that life, unfortunately, has to deal out in one form or another. I think that’s what I enjoyed the most, the fact that you were able to connect with a majority of the characters because of the realism they portrayed and how they all dealt with pain and grief in their own individual way. I think it’s safe to say that Mildred can be regarded as the epitome of girl power throughout the film. Her straight faced, determined, ambitious, don’t f**k with me attitude truly places her above all the men that attempt to stand in her way. She chooses to ignore and challenge those that argue her approach is too cruel, such as her abusive ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes), Chief Willoughby and Deputy Dixon. Mildred’s drive and spirit fuels the story to the point where the audience almost feels the need to jump on the bandwagon of the fiery rage that burns within her and demand justice. Mildred pulls out a massive two fingers towards the naysayers and sticks to her gut, despite those closest to her attempting to sway her decision at any given opportunity. Although sad at times, McDonagh has carefully balanced the melancholy with wittiness so hopefully you will not be put off and think the story is nothing more than bleak and depressing. Nonetheless, there is a light at the end of tunnel and I hope that light leads to an Oscar!
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alexjames96
Feb 07, 2018
In Film Reviews
Jaws I thought it best that my first film review should at least give some insight into the cinema I love watching that has inspired as well as encouraged me to study film at university level. One film in particular which my dad first showed me, in which I consider to be my first 'grown up' film would be the nail biting thriller that is Jaws (Spielberg, 1975). My dad made the ever so wise decision to show me this film at the age of 6. Hopefully, these good judgements are bestowed upon me when I have children. Nevertheless, now that I am older, I can appreciate Spielberg's masterpiece and look at the picture in a whole new light. Based on a novel by Peter Benchley, Jaws takes place in the quaint, white picket fenced town of Amity Island, New England. A heavily tourist based beach getaway for city dwellers, run by the ‘people pleasing’ Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), heavily focused on bringing in those big bucks at any cost. Throw in a ferocious, cold-blooded predator into the mix and Spielberg had a summer block buster on his hands. Although the film adopts a very simple pitch: man eating shark terrorising local bathers. The truly defining aspect of the story is the relationship between actors Schneider, Dreyfus and Shaw. It is their flawless performance which invites the audience in and creates an exciting premise for all thrill seekers. The town was in need of a dedicated, fearless hero ready to take on the merciless shark that stalks the town’s beloved beaches. Unfortunately, the only man available at the time who was only somewhat willing to protect the people was hydrophobic chief officer Brody (Roy Schneider). Brody pleaded with the Mayor to shut down the beach, but was instead forced to sail into the open ocean with shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) and Oceanographer, Hooper (Robert Dreyfus) in order to catch and kill the monster. In my eyes, the impact of the film came from the unknown rather than the shark itself. The audience are left in the dark for a large majority of the film as no one knows what the shark looks like. Instead, Spielberg leaves us in a state of suspense for pretty much the entire first half of the film, by allowing us to see body parts washed up on shore and boats with huge chunks ripped out the side. This allows us to build an image of the shark into a vicious monster without even seeing the beast in its true form. However, we are very much aware of its presence by use of John Williams’ genius soundtrack which sets an ominous and foreboding mood throughout the entire cinema. Williams describes the music as a sound which is almost "grinding away at you, just as a shark would do, instinctual, relentless, unstoppable" (Friedman, 2006, pg. 174). Spielberg cleverly delays the shark’s appearance, without this, I believe the film would not be as popular as it is. If Spielberg were to over expose the audience to gruesome gore and fully reveal the killer too early on, then I feel the audience’s reaction would become stunted. The delayed appearance allows us to over think and use our imagination to build the shark into this ruthless monster. The fear of the unknown is what truly creates the perfect thriller, as the imagination is far more fearsome than the monster itself. One particular actor whose performance should never be forgotten is that of Robert Shaw. Shaw creates Quint into a fascinating character by combining elements of fear, mystery and even humour to his persona, forming a unique and endearing individual. Quint rapidly takes on role of the leader (much to Brody and Hooper’s dismay) as they board his vessel and take to the ferocious waves which holds the dreaded beast. The moment where I became truly mesmerised by Shaw’s performance would be his USS Indianapolis monologue. The scene is completely stolen by Robert Shaw (and for good reason!), as both Hooper and Brody sit and listen to Quint’s haunting memories of the journey back from delivering the Hiroshima bomb June 1945. It is at this moment the audience realise Quint’s motivation and hatred against sharks, as well as the reasoning behind his dark and angry façade. I believe that his bloodcurdling speech not only enthrals us, but allows the audience to connect with Quint and evoke a sense of sympathy from both characters and spectators. If you haven’t already picked up on the subtle hints thus far, then I shall state more clearly that this is a must see film and I highly recommend. Although, those that haven’t already seen this masterpiece should keep that information tightly to their chest. Jaws exhibits all you could ever want in one film: fear, action, murder, passion and even comedy at times. Everything all wrapped up in one big fish, an offer impossible to pass up. References Friedman, L. (2006). Citizen Spielberg. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, p.174. Filmography Jaws. (1975). [film] Directed by S. Spielberg. United States: Universal Pictures.
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alexjames96
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