Sunday, 31 March 2013

What I Watched in March '13

42 films in total.
13 of these films were re-watches.
29 weren't.
4 were foreign language.
film gained a star to it's rating after a re-watch
received a 5-star rating.
3 received a 1-star rating.

Best (New) Film of the month: Battle Royale
Worst Film of the month: [REC]3 Genesis
Most Surprising: Carriers
Most Disappointing: [REC]3 Genesis

Best part of a terrible film: Gambit (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
Worst part of a great film: When it finished (Easy A)
Most likely to be watched again next month: Easy A

Let me know what the best and worst things are you've watched this month and be sure to leave me recommendations for April!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Hauntings and Infections

No trailer post this week as Monday was a lot more hectic than I originally thought it would be, so to make up for it here is a super-sized review post.

As I was selecting films to put together for this micro-reveiw post I was aware that I could make a single post dedicated to a single genre. I am aware that a high percentage of the films I've reviewed on here so far have been either a part of, or closely related to the horror genre, but I felt that it would possibly benefit you readers if these posts were a little more organised into themes or genres than they have been so far. I can't promise that every post will contain films that are completely related or compatible but I will try my best to make them a little more cohesive in the future.    

I also just happen to have watched a pretty high number of horror films recently, so there's that too!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Scissorhands and Tin Men

I realised as I was putting together my Pinterest Collage for this week that my last two posts have been quite overcrowded, with upwards of 16 pictures in each of them. Whether as some form of self enforced restraint or just because I haven't actually been pinning that much this week I've found myself back at the target number of pins I originally set for each week, 12. We'll see how long I manage to keep it at this number over the coming weeks.

I've spent a lot of this week trying to stay calm amongst a flood of panic regarding my dissertation. In just under an hour I will be attending my last seminar before I break up for three weeks and have to actually get my head in the books, and keep it there. On Tuesday a big group of us went, once again, to our local cocktail bar Lime Tyger, for a meal and some amazing drinks. The best part about the bar is that you can essentially name a list of ingredients or flavours you'd like and they'll come up with something for you, which we took particular advantage of. Then on Wednesday myself and Rosie enjoyed a lazy day film marathon where we watched The Devil Wears Prada, The September Issue, Grey Gardens, Vengeance is Mine and [REC]3 Genesis, which was a lot of fun and helped me catch up with my film diary which has been at an all time low this month. 

I'm really hopeful for the next three weeks, and will be desperately slaving away over all of my assignments. It's extremely scary to think how close we are to finishing Uni for good, and as much as I usually try not to think about it, entering the Easter break means that it's really not that long at all. Here's to an eventful and productive holiday!

You can find my Pinterest page here

Monday, 18 March 2013

Monday Trailer: The Conjuring

I had a trailer post for today planned out and ready to write up when, about an hour ago, one of my housemates asked me if I had seen the trailer for a new film called The Conjuring. As soon as I began loading it I realised that I'd heard of it before, as the follow up film from the makers of Insidious.

The Conjuring

The film focuses on a family of seven who, after suspecting they are not alone in their home, call in renowned ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to seek out and destroy the evil that is terrorising them. Unlike both of the trailers that I have posted about so far this one is entirely focused on narrative, to the point that it plays out almost as a stand-alone sequence taken from the film. With Insidious and his earlier film Dead Silence, director James Wan displayed a great prowess within the horror genre and, in particular, an adeptness at crafting clever and suspenseful scares, and that is brought in full force within this trailer. 

The premise of the trailer focuses on two sequences which feature the mother of the family (Lili Taylor) playing hide and seek with her children and investigating a noise from the basement. Both feature slow pacing and a reliance on extremely creepy jump scares that, rather than being predictable, build up and surprise. The trailer also features two brilliant uses of contrapuntal music, the first being the jovial song that opens the trailer and evokes a more family-friendly film, and the second being the old familiar eery music box tune that has become a stable of the genre. 

I find it interesting that the trailer has avoided divulging any of the ghost hunter storyline and also fails to acknowledge it's two biggest stars in Wilson and Farmiga. I'm sure that this trailer is being used to preview the style of the film and to set a tone for what is to come in the finished product. I think that its extremely effective and it has definitely gained my immediate interest in this film. The Conjuring is released on July 19th.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Teddy Lamps and Gnome Bread

I got to meet my cousins baby today! He was absolutely adorable and seeing him has made my week. I also got paid today so I'll definitely be off getting him some goodies next week.

Besides that I've spent most of the week taking some time to relax after handing in my last essay for a little while. Now I can work on my upcoming assignments at a less frantic pace and make the most of my last few weeks of University life. This break also means I've been dedicating more time to watching films and working on film posts for this blog which will hopefully be up very soon.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Tuesday Trailer: Evil Dead

Yesterday was rather hectic with an assignment due, a lack of sleep and a Tomb Raider marathon to complete the story mode. So this weeks trailer post got delayed till today. I know it's not a great start to what will hopefully become a recurring post, but it did result in a nice bit of alliteration for the posts title.

*Warning: Red Band Trailer contains extreme gore and violence*

The reason I chose the newest Red Band trailer for Evil Dead for this week is simply that it got me so insanely hyped up for this film that I felt I needed to acknowledge and praise it in some manner. I saw the original in several parts when I was younger, and had what I later realised was a re-watch of the sequel quite recently. Neither of them gave me as much satisfaction as the immense fan-base these films have seems to suggest they should have, but I can see exactly what is so appealing about Sam Raimi's films. My first exposure to this reboot//remake//re-imagining//re-whatever was through the first poster to be released (pictured above, left), which I absolutely loved. Trailers soon followed and the more footage I see from this film the more interest it generates within me. 

Firstly I think the fact that this film is clearly benefitting from high production values helps, especially as I'm sure the badly aged effects of the originals factored into my lack enamour with them. I'm also extremely impressed that the film is made up completely of practical effects, something that is extremely encouraging as we live in an age where the overuse of CGI seems integral to most horror films (Mama, I'm looking at you). Most surprisingly, although the cast is nothing too spectacular, what I've seen in these trailers from Jane Levy has really impressed me. This gore-heavy sub-genre of the horror film isn't exactly known for standout performances but she really does seem to be giving her all in this role and I'm excited to see how she carries the full film. 

My favourite aspect of the trailer by far is the fact that rather than using any form of music, the soundtrack is entirely made up of sound effects. The way this is used is brilliant and I love the rhythm that they've created using these effects in conjunction with sounds from the film, like screaming, chainsaw buzzing and Levy's extremely creepy 'Cut" sound bite. Like last week's trailer, Stoker, this one doesn't really divulge a lot of plot and instead focuses on the striking and terrifying visuals, the extreme gore and Levy's central performance. That it seems this trailer is being used to display the gore of the film shows that the studio knows who it's targeting and that this film will draw people in just by promising to be the most f*cked up thing you'll see all year.

 It seems that if theres any kind of body horror that gets under your skin this film is going to feature it. Mine would be the sequence in which someone seems to be pulling something from out of their eyelid, but this trailer is clearly being used to display the vast range of sickening scenarios they've  manage to pack into the film. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this trailer is that it is showing just how well made this film seems to be. This kind of horror film rarely features any form of impressive cinematic techniques, while the Saw and Hostel franchises toyed with interesting cinematography as soon as the gore became the focus the scenes got too messy for anything truly creative. However just within this trailer there seems to be an abundance of incredibly well composed shots which makes me hopeful that there will be some visual substance to the film outside of it's impressive effects.

I'm really hopeful for this film and cannot wait to see if it'll meet my expectations. It's the directorial feature debut of Fede Alvarez and opens in the UK on April 19th, and I'll be sure to review it on here as soon as I've seen it. 

Are you looking forward to Evil Dead? Let me know your opinions on the trailer and if you have any suggestions for others I could look at. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

A Polar Bear and Bubblegum

I've been noticing some recurring trends in my pins this week, so I ask you to excuse the shameless colour coordinated-ness of this Pinterest post. I promise it won't be a regular thing, I just couldn't resist.

I've had quite a bizarre week, which started with finding out that my cousin and her boyfriend had finally had their baby, a little boy called Frankie-Jay who is gorgeous and I will hopefully get to meet very soon. When I got back to my uni house I found out that I'd forgotten my phone charger and being a snobby iPhone 5 owner there was no one that I could borrow a charger from and so had to buy a spare, which luckily didn't set me back too much. Then on Tuesday I went with Rosie and our housemate Megan to see a production of The Phantom of the Opera and the Liverpool Empire for Megan's birthday, which was amazing in spite of a lacklustre chandelier. The rest of the week consisted of lunch with my old housemates, an all-nighter to finish an assignment, the resultant droopy eyed-ness in the following 9am lecture and a 5 hour session on the new Tomb Raider game as a reward for getting it done.

Today I had the realisation that after handing in my next assignment on Monday, I have no more due until after my Easter holiday, so I can pace myself for the next few weeks after the mad panic that has been this week. That also means that I should hopefully have quite a bit more time to dedicate to this blog, and I have lots of good stuff planned.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Monday Trailer: Stoker

In my first year of Film Studies at University, one of our pieces of coursework was to create a presentation analysing any film trailer of our choice. We had to look at the use of sound, image, editing etc., and how these were presented and for what purpose. I was recently thinking back to this project and felt that doing something similar for you guys on a weekly basis would be a really good way for me to once again create a blog post that is regular and film related, and also encourage me to keep on top of recently released trailers. Obviously these post will be a lot more causal than that presentation, and with so many great trailers being released all the time, I'm sure this will be something I'll enjoy doing every Monday.

So here is my first:


Throughout it's marketing campaign I've seen three different trailers for Stoker. The other two (also great, here and here) are probably more useful in regards to giving an insight into the plot of the film, but my mind works on a far more aesthetic level and this trailer sent me into sensory overload. Firstly, the trailer seems to have been put together with the sole incentive of putting images into the viewer's head that are going to stick. By using rapid jump-cut editing we get the multiple shots from the same sequence disjointedly cut together which, by either slowing down or speeding up the scenes, draw's your attention entirely to the imagery. It's no accident that this trailer is made up predominantly of striking images and features minimal amounts of dialogue, the focus here is entirely on the look of the film and how these disturbing events have been captured through beautiful cinematography.

The sound editing is equally as effective. I'm not sure if this is a sample from Clint Mansell's soundtrack for the film (fingers crossed) or just an appropriate track the editors dug out, but it works wonders for the trailer. Matching the cuts in the visuals to the music only emphasises the impact that has already been created visually. The way the audio track slows down towards the end of the trailer is also fantastic, easing us out of the sinister world we are being presented with. What little dialogue that has been chosen clarifies the sinister nature of the plot and the importance of family within it and by not delving into any dialogue heavy scenes the trailer keeps our attention with quick bursts of information. It also manages to display all of Matthew Goode's creepiness in one single three-word line, 'to be friends'.

I've been repeatedly impressed by the marketing for this film, and everything I've seen has only made me want to see the film more. I recently saw this trailer in the cinema with a friend, her immediate response was 'I don't have a clue what that is about, but I want to see it', so I guess it's working. If you would like to know what it's about, Stoker follows India (Mia Wasikowska) and her infatuation with her charming, but mysterious, Uncle Charlie (Goode) after he comes to live with she and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) after the death of her father. It is the American feature debut of Oldboy director Chan-wook Park and I think it looks incredible! I'm extremely excited to see this one.

I'd also like to just acknowledge the posters for the film, which have all been fantastic. I love that they've implemented green as the focal colour as it is so underused in film posters (unless you're a hero with green in your name, a wicked witch or grew out of a garden rather then being born). The use of it and particular shade for this series of posters is great. While I was in London last week I saw the left-hand poster all over the tube stations and every time I was completely captivated by it. Gorgeous work!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Marshmallows and Grace

In order to get my February Film Recap out before we were any further into March I pushed my weekly Pinterest post back a day.

Getting a week away from classes for Reading week allowed me a much needed break from my usual surroundings, and I ventured down to London with Rosita for a three day escape. Firstly I did get some reading done, so the point of my week off wasn't completely wasted on me, but I also got to see some good friends, eat great food, view exhibitions and much more (which will all appear in a post this coming week). 

Before the trip we had our Oscars party which was great fun. I actually won our competition to guess the most winners and got myself some money from it. I was extremely surprised, but happy, to win and thoroughly enjoyed watching the event with some great friends. The only bad point of the party was the social media lockdown we all had to endure in order to not have the winners spoiled for us, but it was well worth the mind-numbing torture that apparently comes with not checking Twitter every five minutes. 

This is probably as good a time as any to welcome in March, and hope for an equally eventful third month of 2013. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

What I Watched in February '13

So here is (pretty much) everything I watched film-wise this month. Not at much as January but still a pretty decent number, 38 altogether, considering I've used February to visit London for three days, finally watch the entire last season of Gossip Girl and try and get some serious Uni work sorted. This bunch includes mostly Oscar nominees that I had to get watched before the event, as well as a documentary for class and the bunch of Ann Arbor short films I mentioned in a previous post.

2 of these films were re-watches.
36 weren't.
7 were foreign language.
film gained a star to it's rating after a re-watch
3 received a 5-star rating.
4 received a 1-star rating.

Best Film of the month: Amour
Worst Film of the month: Bel Ami
Most Surprising: Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father
Most Disappointing: Hitchcock

Best part of a terrible film: The Double-Taking Pidgeon (Moonraker)
Worst part of a great film: Ben Affleck's Acting (Argo)
Most likely to be watched again next month: Argo

Let me know what the best and worst things are you've watched this month and be sure to leave me recommendations for March!