Tuesday, 29 March 2011

We few, we happy few.

Just a quick post because essays have taken over my life and I'm doing absolutely no socializing for the next month or so. Here are some people i would love to go for a night out with. Honestly, just contemplate the coolness of these guys together in a room.

David Bowie, Iggie Pop and Lou Reed.

Ed Norton, David Fincher ad Brad Pitt, whilst shooting Fight Club

Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix. (This might be my favourite celebrity photograph of all time, I have no idea when or where it was taken, but I LOVE it.)

Hunter S. Thompson, John Cusack and Johnny Depp. (You'd have to be high to fully appreciate the awesomeness though...)

Robert Downey Jr., Hugh Jackman and Sting. In tuxedos. Laughing at a joke you just told. Let's all just appreciate that for a moment.

If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything

I've written a review, for the first time in absolute ages. I hope you like it. Take my advice and don't watch the movie, it's beyond stupid.

The premise for Sucker Punch is strong enough. Abused orphan Babydoll (Emily Browning) is locked up in an asylum for the criminally insane and has to find a means of escape, aided by four other inmates. The execution of this premise, however, is so convoluted and overplayed as to render the film almost as redundant at the moral it strives to desperately to put across.
Spread across three levels of reality, the Evanescence-music-video real world, the trying-to-be-Chicago-so-much-it-hurts mental ward/dance hall world, and the every-bad-video-game-ever-made world of Babydoll’s quest. Each reality is less engaging than the last. The film’s opening and ending sequences, which take place in reality (or as close to it as the film ever comes) are definitely the most successful, establishing a level of darkness and brutality which would have greatly improved the film had it been continued throughout. All too quickly the film moves into the mental asylum, and the rest of the narrative takes place in a kind of Moulin Rouge meets One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest sub-reality, where the incarcerated girls must dance in their underwear in order to be cured of their mental illness. Babydoll has five days before she is sold to the High Roller (Jon Hamm) (in reality the doctor coming to lobotomize her), and must find five objects to help her and the other girls escape. You see more of the asylum’s sinister head orderly, Blue (Oscar Isaac), and therapist Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino), in this world transformed into a club owner/pimp, and dance teacher/madam respectively. While Madam Gorski seemingly serves no purpose whatsoever apart from to provide another pair of breasts for teenage boys to ogle, Blue provides the film with a credible and genuinely creepy bad guy, thus becoming the only vaguely interesting character in the exercise. When Babydoll is forced to dance she enters the third and most ridiculous world. The setting changes each time she and the other girls enter, moving from snowy ancient Japan, to the First World War, to cheap Lord of the Rings fantasy. Each of these interludes seem somehow both overdone and under-finished, pairing over-long action sequences with sub-par computer game graphics and hokey moralizing from the Wise Man (Scott Glenn). All these scenes include robots. While the first two levels of reality provide at least a little insight into character or narrative, this third level seems created exclusively for a mindless pubescent audience interested only in guns and tits. The film spends most of its time in this state.

It is a shame that Zac Snyder should fall so far from his previous cinematic exploits. While 300 certainly wasn’t the most intellectual of films, it was beautifully rendered and engaging for audiences whether they were familiar with the comic or not. Similarly with Watchmen; regardless of how you feel about the changed ending, the care Snyder took with the source material was clear. Here he is working from his own story, and seems perfectly content to abandon characterisation or plot development in favour of yet another shot of his young cast in their pants. It took over an hour for me to grasp the names of the central characters, but I doubt I’ll ever fully gather why they were involved in the film at all.

Emily Browning is good enough as Babydoll, looking as she does like an anime character come to life. She’s given enough to do but spends most of the film looking miserable and big-eyed while dressed as a schoolgirl with a samurai sword. Jena Malone and Abbie Cornish turn in solid performances as sisters Rocket and Sweet Pea, leaving the audience wondering what two such credible indie actresses are doing in this brainless mess; ditto for Jon Hamm, the two minutes he’s on screen are genuinely intriguing, but you’re left wondering what such a classy guy is doing in such a piece of crap. Jamie Chung and Vanessa Hudgens look good in lingerie, but serve no purpose to the story, and thus are given practically no dialogue and even less character development.

All in all the film takes a decent premise and a handful of good actors, and places them in a horny emo music video. Too earnest to be funny, not smart enough to be good, what we are left with is a mess of poorly executed action sequences and an ill-defined and almost comically inappropriate message about empowerment. Snyder has proved himself as the man to go to for solid comic book adaptations, but when working from his own material he is sadly lacking in both focus and flare.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

I just finished my last ever class at university. The last 3 years have gone by so quickly i can hardly believe it.

I just came across this hilarious website called Girls Are Pretty, which has a different short, surreal, vaguely romantic story every day (more or less). Each day is something to celebrate. Today, for instance, is Get Away From The Window Sarah Day!

Get away from the window Sarah. You’re not in love you’re just unemployed and that boy down there on the sidewalk in the rain he’s never going to go back home if you keep giving him a face to moon up at.
Get away from the window Sarah. Girls are human like everybody else. Girls get those dark times, the ones that last two years and eight months, when they’re pretty sure that nothing better’s ever going to happen again. Boys like the one on the sidewalk, they prey on those moments. It’s all they have. They pout like puppies and try to convince you that love is supposed to happen between a pretty girl up in a window and whichever boy is willing to embarrass himself the most for her.
Get away from the window Sarah. You only have sixteen months left of this terrible week. Sink into alcohol or a cult or a job at a non-profit. Just don’t sink into a boy. Not until you find the boy who belongs up in the window, with you on the sidewalk, wondering what in God’s name you’re going to have to do, how cold that rain is going to get, before he finally decides he can’t do better and so condescends to buzz you in.
Just get away from the window Sarah. I promise there’s a boy out there who’s better, better than you.
Happy Get Away From The Window Sarah Day!

All these pictures, and many more i have used over the past few months, and will use for a long time to come, come from an amazing website called This Is Not Porn. It is full of rare and never before seen photos of celebrities. I could waste whole days on there, and i suggest you check it out.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

With a little help from my friends

So for a while i seem to have been collecting images of The Beatles. I have no real reason behind it apart from that there are a million great ones out there and they make me smile.

Rather than storing them up, i thought i'd share some of my favourites with you.

What a charming buch of lads they were.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

We must do extraordinary things. It would be absurd not to.

After a beautiful week of skiing with my wonderful mother, and with Antigone dead and buried in her cave, I'm feeling so much better than i did at the time of my last post. Sorry about that, it all got a bit dark, didn't it?

Anyway, I'm back and happy and ready for new stuff. I'm working on a dissertation chapter at the moment, which means i'm spending all my time reading Dave Eggers books and trying to find critisism of his work that i can reference in my essay. It's harder than you might expect. Outside of book reviews there is hardly any critical analysis. It's interesting though, and i can happly spend 8 hours at a stretch reading about it, so work doesn't feel so much like work.

Tomorrow I'm proposing the play i want to direct next term, After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber. It's a wonderful play. The Crucible and Antigone are both great, but from directing them both i've come to realize that i don't enjoy directing big, wordy, idea based plays. I much prefer small stories about people, where you can really get involved in the motivations behind actions without having to worry about philosophical arguments. I really hope people vote for it because it would be so fun to direct, and much as i loved Antigone, I don't want that to be the last play i direct at university.

Still no idea what i'm doing with the next year of my life, but i'm trying to stay positive about that as much as possible.