We’re all guilty of using “Americanisms”. My friend from Aberdeen is the spokeswoman for DUDE, I revel in the AWESOMENESS of everything and even my dad is partial to throwing in a BUDDY every now and then. The biggest explanation as to why we’ve adopted so much American slang is surely the influence of US film and television. For example, the main character in The Big Lebowski is The Dude- everyone wants to be The Dude, he made milk cool again, for God’s sake. Thanks to Mean Girls we were both reacquainted with “skank” and introduced to “skeez”, and programmes like Friends, a show that plays several times every day in syndication and has done so for nearly twenty years, are responsible for the “Oh my God” and “like” pandemics that spread across the English speaking world. Diablo Cody, the writer of Juno, has been praised for the way in which she managed to engage with and portray the way American teenagers actually speak, and because of the movie’s worldwide success, we have picked up some Juno-isms like “food baby” and wanted to be as smart, witty and irreverent as she can be. While we might not all go around repeating every new word we hear on this week’s episode of Girls or chronicling the way Jersey Shore cast members speak, the language and phrases British audiences are exposed to by the US media definitely have the ability to shape the way we talk.
Much like Inglorious Basterds before it, Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained, is a loosely historical, gleefully cartoonish revenge fantasy.
Set in a hellish approximation of the pre-Civil War American South, it tells the story of Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave liberated by roaming bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz, who gets to be the good guy here, after playing a right bad bastard in Basterds). Along with Schultz’ moral antipathy towards slavery, Django’s near-supernatural talent for gunslinging ensures that the pair become fast friends, and before long they embark on a quest to rescue Django’s wife from the claws of villainous plantation master Calvin Candie.
Well, maybe saying ‘before long’ there is a little inaccurate. ‘After a protracted series of lengthy monologues, extended dialogue exchanges, and the occasional gunfight’ might be more suitable. This unnecessarily long film is Tarantino in overdrive, and not always for the better. His script contains several wonderful one-liners (it’s hard not to grin when Django shouts ‘I like the way you die, boy!’ as he blasts away his former master), and much of the lengthy dialogue is eloquent and enthralling to watch. A particularly gripping, if insane, scene comes later on, as Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, in pantomime mode) fervently lectures his dinner guests on the concept of phrenology (look it up) whilst bearing a slave’s skull in his blood-soaked left hand and a hammer in his right.
At other moments, however, Tarantino over-indulges himself and loses track of narrative pacing completely. The film takes an extremely long time to introduce its central conflict, as Candie does not appear until the halfway point. Meanwhile, without wanting to spoil anything, the astonishingly bloody climactic gunfight is followed by an unnecessary, tacked-on final 15 minutes of literal overkill.
Despite this prominent flaw, however, the film is undeniably entertaining. The self-consciously naff crash zooms, anachronistic soundtrack (featuring Rick Ross!?) and generous amounts of cartoonish bloodsplatter are all hallmarks of a film that knows it’s having fun, and it’s hard not to be swept along by its gleeful mood. If you have 3 hours to spare, it’s definitely worth a watch.
With December finally upon us, it would appear that filmmakers are continuing to exhaust the Dickens/Austen franchises at a time of year when apparently ‘tis the season to be jolly’. Hmm. This time round, it’s a ‘retelling’ of Great Expectations, although many will be quick to recall the BBC miniseries which aired -yup, you’ve guessed it- just last Christmas. Awkward.
We all know the story. Pip, played by a baby-faced Jeremy Irvine, is given the chance to become a gentleman and woo the beautifully sour-faced Estella when he comes into a large fortune provided by a mysterious benefactor. Cue scheming, plot twists and heartbreak.
As a fan of the book and its countless screen adaptions, I was both eager and anxious for Newell and the star-studded cast (which basically reads as a Harry Potter reunion) to breathe new life into the story- even if its resuscitation was unnecessary.
Perhaps my expectations were too high. Don’t get me wrong, the film certainly has its merits. The romance between Pip and Estella, which is usually underplayed, is allowed to flourish and develop. Helena Bonham Carter provides a refreshingly subdued performance as Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch proves, once again, that he is more than capable of intimidating an orphan in a graveyard and making Robbie Coltrane freak the fuck out at the sound of his name. Ten points for Slytherin.
However, the choice to opt for gloss over grit is ultimately the film’s greatest downfall. What can be argued as collectively tame performances from the actors, not to mention the clean-cut visuals, merely highlights the film’s diluted interpretation of the text. Viewers will no doubt leave the film feeling warm and fuzzy, at least until bracing the weather outside. In fact, it’s a wonder that Tiny Tim didn’t feel the need to make an appearance. Oh well, maybe next Christmas.
I’m always sceptical when Hugh Laurie puts on an American accent, but in The Oranges, it is his total lack of chemistry with his co-stars, central to the plot, that is more concerning. Laurie plays David, a middle-aged husband and father in suburban New Jersey, who begins an affair with the daughter of his best friend (who’s also his neighbour).
I’m going to be completely honest with you here. The first time I was told about Donnie Darko, I wasn’t entirely convinced it was a real film. Even after Googling it and finding a complete IMDB page and a selection of clips on YouTube, I was still largely under the belief that it was some kind of overly-elaborate and not particularly effective prank that someone was playing on me. It’s a really weird film, guys. It’s weird. It is, more than almost any other film I’ve never seen, clearly written by a group of lonely people on every single kind of drug, sitting in a dark room shouting a list of random words that had just come into their heads, and compiling them into one horrifying fever-dream of a film.
The main aspect of Donnie Darko, of course, is that terrifying seven-foot rabbit. You know, the one that looks like someone half-chewed Thumper and then vomited him back up onto a canvas of teenage angst and depression. Despite having never having seen the film, I am oh-so aware of that demon-bunny, because it’s following me. Not in the way that it followed Maggie Gyllenhaal’s wee brother around in the film, but in the way that, every Halloween, at least nine people are dressed as it. It’s the indie equivalent of the Scream mask, and it creeps the fuck out of me. Someone needs to have a serious words with the guys who wrote that film to let them know that bringing a monstrosity like that into the world is not okay. It’s not okay at all.
Satanic bunny aside, the main gist of the film’s plot seems to revolve around your stereotypical emo kid, except that he lives in a world where the entire universe is on extremely powerful hallucinogens, while all the time ‘Mad World’ is playing in the background. I’m told there’s something about invisible worms coming out of people’s stomachs, which I can only assume is something to do with wormholes, and only Donnie can see them because he’s a special little snowflake. Time travel is also prominently featured, something which I’m slightly weary of, as, with a few notable exceptions, time travel has a tendency to make everything shit.
For the majority of the film, Donnie seems to just be wreaking havoc left right and centre at the command of his internal bunny rabbit. He floods his school and burns down Patrick Swayze’s house and is generally an awful little brat. It’s okay, though, because he’s damaged or misunderstood or something.
My main question regarding Donnie Darko is, where is social services in all of this? When a teenage boy suddenly takes to starting fires and floods and hallucinating the most nightmare-inducing rabbit-monster, and his mother decides to wander off and leave him to be mental by himself for a few days, someone should step in and question her parenting skills. He had some kind of therapist at least, right? Please tell me the boy had a therapist. I don’t care how “misunderstood” or “special” he is, Donnie Darko is unstable and needs medical help.
From all my intensive research and listening into teenagers’ conversations, the only concrete conclusion I can draw about Donnie Darko is that it is a film that creates sociopaths. No confused teenager is going to watch a film that is this level of insane and creepy, and then just go and drink a cup of tea and do their homework. No, they’re going to watch this and start setting fire to the pets of neighbours and loved ones. People have spent years blaming violent films and Call of Duty for the increase in teenage violence, when all the time they should have been blaming something much more surreal and infinitely more terrifying. We need, as a society, to stop wasting our time trying to ban violence in video games, and turn our attention to a far greater danger to our children, and to civilisation as we know it. We need to destroy that awful fucking rabbit.
Following the release of The Muppets in February, I’ve had a soft spot for Jason Segel, and I saw a poster for The Five Year Engagement a while ago, so it’s been on my mind for some months. With its release a week ago, it moved swiftly to the top of my must-see list.
Segel plays Tom Solomon, a skilled sous chef in San Francisco, who met his girlfriend (and soon to be fiancée), Violet Barnes, at a New Year’s Eve party. Emily Blunt fills the role of Violet, and acts as an interesting pairing to Segel’s eccentricities.
After a proposal of sorts, the two settle into engaged life together, and begin to plan their wedding. There are a few formalities first, such as the engagement party, where we meet family and friends of the stars. Community‘s Alison Brie crops up as Violet’s little sister, and for the rest of the film demonstrates the life you expect Tom and Violet to live together.
Violet’s ambition to work in academia leads the film towards its name, as the couple put off their wedding for the sake of their careers… or at least the career of one of them. The pair move to accommodate Violet’s new job, and Tom’s life descends into chaos as he meets local househusbands and tries to find his feet in a new town. Tom’s misery and mishaps provide some decent laughs, but the oddities are interspersed with some weak scenes of Violet at work.
The film seemed to take longer than necessary to progress, as only halfway through I found myself shifting in my seat, bored as the jokes dried up and the story seemed to slip away.
It did come back for the finale, as the cast pull together for a whirlwind finish. The standout scene of the film was Blunt and Brie arguing about family and marriage, but in the voices of Cookie Monster and Elmo respectively. It seems Segel, a co-writer of the film, just can’t clear his head of those cuddly fiends.
Overall, with a number of good laughs, I would consider re-watching this film on DVD, if not at the cinema. The scenes with Segel were the most fun, and when joined by Blunt, the film delivered a much needed alternative to big summer blockbusters.
We here at qmunicate were so excited to hear about Wes Anderson’s 9th film that we decided to give you two reviews. There’s Paddy on the left and Kerr on the right (Their positions don’t reflect their politics). Continue reading
So, Ridley Scott, you’ve finally decided to come crawling back to the Alien franchise have you? Prequel, you say? Well, goodbye Sigourney Weaver; Hello, Noomi Rapace, whose face I must say is very distracting. Why does it look like it’s caked in make up to look natural? Does make up not get better in the future?
Anyway, Prometheus is what I’m here to review, and if you don’t want to read a full review, the best way to describe this movie is: It’s alright. It’s a prequel to one of the finest examples of both sci-fi and horror – Alien – and tries its best to do it all over again. The over-complexity of the storyline does however ruin any chances of this. Alien was simple- alien comes on ship, alien kills everyone on ship; easy. Prometheus adds a whole level of philosophy when trying to scare you, something about our creators being aliens and such. Either way it proposes more questions than it answers.
The real saving grace in this film is the acting talent, with Elba and Theron acting their asses off. Michael Fassbender steals the show though, and as a robot nonetheless. When will people just accept he is the perfect actor for every role? I would watch this film again purely for his performance. The movie has accepted the change of the times, so rather than have people scared from tense and anxious moments, it is just overly gory. It gets disgusting in places. In all honesty, there is very little I can say about this movie, because I myself don’t know how I feel. It has great acting and the scenes are beautiful, but it leaves too many unanswered questions and is just not entertaining enough.
Now that I consider it, there was also some terrible acting; that stupid Scottish woman needs to shut up. She has nothing worthwhile to say, and sounds like she has the worst dubbing since The Room. There was also possibly the worst scriptwriting I have heard in a long time. The biggest cliché was pulled right of the bag. All I could think was ‘Charlize, I thought you deserved that Oscar but not anymore’. If a horror sci-fi film is want you are in the mood for, just buy Alien. If you must see this film, just don’t get your hopes up. It’s technically a really great film, but you need to really not care about being entertained. I guess it’s like watching a Wes Anderson film.
Next time, Moonrise Kingdom.
I’m starting to think that critically acclaimed director Stephen Daldry is as about as brilliant as flat Irn-Bru (from a plastic bottle). In Billy Elliot, a ten year old solved the miners’ strike and stopped Thatcher’s rape of the North by dancing provocatively in front of a bunch of angry geordies. And, in his new film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a ten year old boy called Oskar effectively deals with Jihadism by embarking on the most stylized piece of generic porridge since ‘Stylish Porridge – The Generic Musical’.
Oskar’s dad (a sadly balding Tom Hanks) is unlucky enough to be at the World Trade Center on the 11th of September 2001. After he dies, his annoying son (who’s so quirky you’d like to punch him in the corduroys until he goes down and passers-by drag you off his bloodied, hipster, ten year old corpse) discovers a key and decides that he must find the lock for it. Because this is what his father would want. Obviously. Apparently. And so begins the most pointless, boring quest since…I don’t even know what since, since it was so brilliantly, fantastically, pointlessly pointless and boring and shit.
Parts of the film are good: Max von Sydow, as The Renter, deserved an Oscar for dressing all in black with his big sad face that I want to feed and cuddle and make a nest for in my kitchen. Its main flaw, however, apart from a plot that makes me want to buy some sort of hunting rifle, is its main character, and the arrogantmonkeyboy-child who plays him.
Looking back through my notes, I’m aware that I’ve scribbled ‘Somebody needs to strangle Oskar’ six times. And he’s on the screen for two whole hours. Quite frankly, he needs a beating. And since his mum, Sandra Bullock, is too busy grieving, I’m quite happy to volunteer. I’ll even do the jail-time for it.
If you have an infuriating rage building up inside you, which is sure to manifest itself against quirky, overly-emotional American children, then please, for the love of god, steer clear of this horribly horrible, inane, horrible film.