Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Tensicles - A Short Film


I present to you Tensicles: a short that came about by the pure want to use my friggin' video camera. With no sort of planning or pre-production whatsoever, this little horror piece was made up as we went along; every angle, every movement, every improvised bit of dialogue (4 words...). I then decided to edit it all and add a dash of music, which I can tell you now is a very not easy job. Could be a mess, could be a masterpiece; you'll have to find out by watching yourself (preferably in HD!).

Be warned: so tense that it'll hit you right in the... "Tensicles".



Tensicles
A DudeMeisterFilms Production.
Starring Charlie Burton and Nick Townsend.
Music, Direction and Editing by Arnold Thornton-Rice.


If you want to be really awesome, you'll give it a Like, maybe a Favourite, and even Subscribe to the DudeMeisterFilms Channel! Feel free to comment any feedback! Alternatively, if YouTube's not your style (for some ridiculous reason), you can also enjoy the film on Dailymotion!

Anyone stay for the post-credits tag? Spot any mysterious hands lurking? The odd reflection or background strangeness? Continuity errors or rather strategically placed Easter Eggs? Perhaps a re-watch will help...

ATR

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Trailer Tuesday: Liberal Arts


This week sees the trailer for Liberal Arts, a film written, directed and starring Josh Radnor (perhaps better known as Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother). This indie-drama-romance has a unique take on the difference in perception of life between a 35 year old and a university student, and how love brings them together.  Radnor's firm optimism and drive to make feel-good things is blatantly present, with a charming style and sense of humour to match, making this a front runner on the indie circuit. Here's what it's all about:
"When 30-something Jesse returns to his alma mater for a professor's retirement party, he falls for Zibby, a college student, and is faced with a powerful attraction that springs up between them." - IMDb




  • Performances look great from the two leads, Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen, which is good considering that most of the screen time will likely be solely them. 
  • Radnor seems to be tackling the issues/joys of Uni life and the scary world that comes after it, with a head on approach -- something which has earned it the right to be called "The best movie about college since I don't know when.".
  • Although absent from this trailer, Zac Efron also stars, albeit in a small, student role (I presume). 
  • Desperately holding back the How I Met Your Mother references here (Break-up beard, Classic Schmosby, etc)...
  • Not quite sure of the specifics of the distribution, but here's hoping for a wide release range. I believe Radnor's a true up-and-coming talent that needs some more recognition to be put beside the likes of Zach Braff.
You can catch Liberal Arts out now in the US or October 5th in the UK. 

That's all for today's rather brief post, see ya next time.  

ATR

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Trailer Tuesday: Looper

One film that's been making waves at the Toronto International Film Festival this past week is Looper: the ambitious time-hopping sci-fi, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. From visionary writer/director, Rian Johnson, Looper looks set to thrill with its no-holds-barred high concepts and wiz-bang action set pieces, all the while walking the very thin tight rope that is making time travel work. Here's the surprisingly detailed synopsis, from Wikipedia:
"In a futuristic gangland in the year 2044, a 25-year-old assassin named Joseph Simmons (Gordon-Levitt) works for a mafia company in Kansas City as a "Looper." Loopers kill and dispose of agents sent by their employers from corporate headquarters in Shanghai from the year 2074. Loopers are foot soldiers, paid on the condition that all targets must never escape. When Simmons recognizes his target as a future version of himself (Willis), his older self escapes after incapacitating him. The failure of his job causes his employers to come after him, forcing him to fight for his life as he hunts his older self" - Wikipedia
And now the pretty darn impressive trailer: 



Breakdown:

  • 0:19 - "I don't want to talk about time travel" -- are we getting a tongue-in-cheek, direct reference to how difficult time travel is to explain and how Looper's going to potentially side step that? Meta nod + cut the crap = awesome.
  • 0:24 - Yes, it is hard to believe that this is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, what with all the digital refiguring of his face to look like a younger Willis. Ah, Technology, will your limits ever be reached?
  • 1:01 - English actress Emily Blunt co-stars as Sara, Simmon's love interest it seems.
  • 1:04 - The tone of the city is said to be a mix of futuristic and retro themes, particularly focusing on a 1940s and 50s vibe with architecture, clothing and even the "gangster lifestyle".
  • 1:21 - Hell yeah; The Newsroom star, Jeff Daniels portrays what looks like the Looper leader.
  • 1:35 - Spin shots, motion runs -- Johnson's directional style will certainly be present.
  • 2:09 - Perhaps time travel isn't the only Sci-Fi trope we'll be seeing as telekinesis and other physics-bending abilities come into play.
  • 2:12 - Oh and Burlesque. Very physics-bendy. Well, bendy at least.
  • 2:24 - The flashy title card is a refreshing break from the looming, solid metal fonts of the big-budget blockbusters of late, presenting a slight indie feel to this one (hence its place at opening TIIF).
And you don't even have to wait long for what is already being described as "this generation's Matrix", as it releases 28th of September. Originality, talent and a hell of a lot of potential; definitely one not to be missed. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

RE:View: Things To Do In a Retirement Home Trailer Park When You're 29 and Unemployed


A frustratingly frequent piece of advice given to young writers is "Write what you know"; something that newcomer Aneurin Wright has taken to the next level with his debut graphic novel/memoir, as Things To Do tells the moving story of what happened to himself when he was 29 and Unemployed, looking after his father Neil in a Retirement Home Trailer Park.

Neil is sick. Emphysema ails him after a lifetime of cigarettes and stress. Nye (that's Wright himself) is his son, struggling to find work after graduating from art school and finds himself in a predicament -- to care for his imperfect father through his illness as per the rest of his family's wishes. So off he sets to spend the next number of months beside Neil in a trailer. Oh yeah, and Nye's a blue minotaur and Neil a blue rhino...

Whilst the majority of the other characters around them are human, this bizarre animal imagery is never addressed full on; we just sit there and take it. But the reasoning behind it is plentiful, with ideas as obvious as giving the book a more fantastical look in art direction and colouring (the blue, red, white and grey dominate the well drawn pages), to subtler narrative cores that pay off astronomically in the long run. As such a personal journey for this writer/artist, the cartoonish feel is essential so that it's visually more engaging and displays the distance set out between writer and experience. And thanks to the sharpness of the storytelling, it blends into the book with ease and style.

With this in mind, the 300 page book comes alive through three distinct acts, each with a good 12 or 13 chapters (varying in length) that bring Wright's comedic, dramatic, emotional or just plain imaginative chops to light. There are scenes so varied that one may consist of nothing else than Neil getting a sponge bath, while another shows Nye's frustration through a dream-like, crime fighting situation. Family, epiphanies, forgiveness, regret, anger and realisation: all major themes. When I say this book has everything, I mean it -- through the humanity of the story (it is true, after all) these things are so present and come from a very real, very first hand "I felt what you're feeling times 10" place, and that carries true in dialogue, imagery, pacing; EVERYTHING. 

Now things aren't all about the present, mind, as Wright consistently throws around the framing of time -- glimpses of childhood, patches of the recent past, even flashes of the imagination and the unruly subconscious of a man coming to terms with his Father's impending death. Admittedly jarring at first, but as the jumbled story progresses things shape out and we're given more fleshed out characters and relationships as a result, which is unimaginably important for the conclusion.

As if the book wasn't brilliant enough on all these other merits, Wright completely knocks obliterates it out of the (trailer) park within the last 80 pages with the most moving moments I've ever seen in the comic book/graphic novel medium. At this point, through the snivelling, heaving, sobs and streaming tears (seriously), you realise all this stuff -- the humourous touches, the flashbacks, the animal charactertures, every last minor detail -- has been plotted excruciatingly for the inevitable finale.

Jaw droppingly powerful.

At the heart of Things To Do lies almost what you'd call an everyday story of life, death and family. But through Nye's emotionally driven scope it transcends into something indescribably huge, human and heart wrenching and warming at the same time. It's in this way that Wright has captured the essence of how moving real life can be for everyone and everything in this world once put in the right story structure and imagery.

Now this is one of the best things I've read, medium regardless, in my life. And it's only his debut. I think that warrants a slogan...
Nye Wright: Future Talent, No Doubt.

ATR

Friday, 7 September 2012

Facehook: A Short Film

Finally, after over a year of waiting, I am happy to present Facehook: a short film from myself and three cohorts -- Ben Wilton, Joe Beesley and Max Newall. It wasn't easy, but after a long process Facehook was marked 50/50 from the exam board leader in Media Studies (GCSE Level) and won a Best Editing award at the school ceremony.

That don't make it a masterpiece, of course. It is instead a patchy first attempt that gives a somewhat visionary experience of what's inside the web, doing what it can with the limitations of iMovie (ours had probably the most fancy effects/editing in the school's mix). Also, very liberal with award-winning movie scores... See for yourself:


Feel free to Like, Comment and Subscribe
Clunky yet charming, right? Yeah kinda dark too. And congrats if you managed to keep up with those horrendous subtitles; you're a fast reader!

I will note that all my work was specifically behind camera (writing, directing, editing), although not exclusively down to me. Collaborative efforts and all that. However, the upload of this video marks the first project of DudeMeisterFilms, which will endeavour to bring more original content over the time (this time mostly down to me).

So stay sharp, and keep an eye out for any devious Stranger 116s out there...

ATR
Follow Me: @The_DudeMeister
Arnold Thornton-Rice

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Thinky Thursday: My Ethed Up Work Ethic/Mind Slightly Ajar

My Ethed Up Work Ethic
It was one year and two days ago today that I posted this little 'Sunday Supdate' (a tradition sadly dying out), which outlined my Summer failures of motivation and writing (and also doubled as a love letter to Felicia Day, looking back at it). So of course, Summer comes round again and obviously I'm not going to let this happen again. No sir-ee; I am going to sit my butt down, write at least 25 posts, develop some creative ideas, write a play, a short film, a few songs... And I can do it all because of all that wonderful spare time, tralalala.

12 weeks later (extended Summer, just makes it worse): Here I am , sitting my butt down, writing at least 1 post, mulling over undeveloped ideas, kicking myself for not trying harder on writing, composing, filming -- hell, I didn't even read as many books as I'd planned. And I can do it all because of all that wonderfully depressing hindsight. Trala-freaking-lala.

Two years in a row. It's time to work this thing out.

"Learn from your mistakes", the oldest saying in some sort of book, but you don't mess with the classics. So Introspection, Reflection and Self-Awareness have lead me to a conclusion; I SUCK at working when I don't have to. Consider this now, because I know plenty other people have the same issues, that when no pressure or expectation is applied, nothing gets done. It's simple to the point of being stupid. But when one hundred and eleven things are going on that I'm supposed to be doing, I manage to do another one hundred and eleven on top of it. Sense makey?

As people, we naturally thrive for things to do. Whether the gain be short term or long term, for better or worse. So we do. We do much. The thing is, it's through all the doing that you gain 'extra dos': caught up in a sweep of progress usually brings out more progress. There's no room for pushing back or doing later, because later might be a ton more stuff to do. I need a drive to keep driving, otherwise I'm just lolling about in a limbo of "plenty of time", "couldn't hurt to do that later" and my personal favourite, "*looks at blank page* Blurgh. *closes blank page*". Now whether this theory remains true will be seen next week when I start sixth-form college, which means a large work increase, so potentially a large drive increase. Or a big time decrease... So check back to measure the success/redundancy this post has come then.

But enough about me, let's talk about the upside of my Summer. The part two of the inaugural Thinky Thursday:

Mind Slightly Ajar
That's it, I'm done with secondary school. As of June 2012, my studies were complete and I received some fairly decent grades, especially in the things I'm excited to take forward to the next level. But what I left behind on those exam papers of subjects that weren't of that much interest to me were perhaps more impactful than I give credit for. Maths and Science, specifically; things that I didn't particularly love (hated in some cases) but on the whole I was quite good at. However, I'm never going to do them again -- leaving all that information in a static state in my brain (if not deteriating out of boringness). Sure they've given me a good grounding in their ways, which on the most part I understood and will continue to, but it's not what I've learned in them that I'm getting at, it's what's happened since I've stopped learning them...

It is believed that the way the human brain works is like in this image:

Now I for one hate it when people define you as one or the other in terms of which side you'd use. I've always seen myself as a middle ground mixer of the two hemispheres, and still am. I've got varying extents from each side, as I'm sure you wouldn't argue, but look at that Science and Math sitting humbly on the left side. What if we were to reduce the portion of thinking belonging to that? Say, if I were to stop actively learning them and not have to again...

Enter "The Free Brain Space".

(Please remember that what I am saying here is in noway proven, only what I'm currently perceiving)

So I've now got room for other areas of thought to grow out into, expanding at greater rates to compensate. Thought in particular is where this is headed. No, I didn't read all the books I had hoped to over the break, but there was one in particular that I most certainly did: Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea, an apparent seminal work of philosophical fiction that gives a frank and realised examination of the power of existing. Existentialism.

It's a deep book.

The thought of existing and how physically frightening that actually is (he words it a lot better...) gave me a clarity of persona, so to pretentiously speak. I honestly believe that this book will be one of the most important I'll read in my life and that I read it first at just the right time for it to have the powerful effect that it's had. Why? Because my thought process was ready for it; with all that worked out and calculated straight thinking of maths and science reduced, it left the mind slightly ajar for Nausea's dizzying concepts to speak to me. Thus reaching the free-thinking, perceptive anti logic part so it made some god-damn sense (also, very much the "Pompous Windbag-iness" part).

Hey, it's called Thinky Thursday for a reason.

ATR
Follow Me: @The_DudeMeister

Note: Not all Thinky Thursday's are going to be as self-involved as this narcissistic piece of nonsense, just a one off to get things started. You can always count on self-deprecating though!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Trailer Tuesday: The Master


Auteur filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, previously responsible for the likes of Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, is back after a five year absence with The Master; a controversial drama inspired by the origins of 'religion'/cult, Scientology. No, it's not a biopic of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and no, it's not even a "based on a true story" deal either. Anderson describes it really as a "narrative driven by these two guys, and their love for each other", that happens to use the "beginning of the movement" as an inspiration for the backdrop of these characters.

Here's the IMDb synopsis for you:
"A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader." 
That 'Naval Veteran' being Joaquin Phoenix and the 'Charismatic Leader', Philip Seymour Hoffman. Expect some deep underlying themes of the search for meaning, especially since this all comes from the mind of Anderson, who can doubt hit those home to powerful effect. Intellectual. Artful. Most likely Award Winning.

Here's the Trailer:



Some points:

  • It. Looks. BEAUTIFUL. 
  • Amy Adams co-stars as Mary Sue Dodd, wife of Hoffman's cult-founder, Lancaster Dodd.
  • This Lancaster fellow describes himself as "a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher, but above all, I am a Man." -- all things that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard claimed to be (which critics to this day work to debunk).  
  • The cult in question, known simply as "The Cause", also draws many similarities to the ideas and the foundations behind Scientology: both begin to evolve after an eventful boat cruise, both involve an auditing scheme, both seem to be heavily scrutinized and both come from the ashes of one of the darkest times in Human history and an era of spiritual discovery of individualism (specifically the point of Phoenix's character).
  • Despite this, Anderson has no intention to praise nor criticise the religion, but merely use its incredible story to fuel what is essentially a character study.    
  • Not just heavy philosophy and character psych-pieces, it seems, as the motor-bike scene gives a glimpse of some fun in these men's tales.
  • Think Joaquin Phoenix is standing weird at all? All part of his method acting, says Anderson, with a specific stance to give another layer to this character's physicality of a man lost in a post-war world. His approach was said to be of a Daniel Day-Lewis level of commitment. Yeah, that's pretty high.
  •  It's obvious tension grows between the two leads, which could potentially be an electrifying conclusion when it reaches its head, especially if paired so masterfully with era-specific tunes of eeriness of the like seen here. 
                                                                                                     

A smart, original and compelling drama -- excited for sure. Actually a lot more than I thought I would be, down to this trailer's brilliance in conveying the wrought out connection of characters and stunning cinematography and direction. November 9th (UK) can't come quick enough for this -- yeah, I'm calling it -- Oscar Contender. 

ATR


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Dude Meister Blogs 2.0

In the words of clich├ęd dialogue, "that went well"...


Approximately 11 weeks ago my summer began, and I made a promise to you (the world), and me, myself (or 'I' as he has also been called), that I would write and that I would be truthful and generous and varied in said writings. I have not. Written. Anything.

So tonight, I apologise for my misgivings; my failure in motivation, inspiration and productivity. I apologise for my laziness, my boringness and my absence. But most of all, and by default most importantly, I apologise if you do not care about any of this. For surely, an apathetical audience is an unsatisfied one, with which blame lies solely with me. Myself. Or, 'I'.

Like the end of a second act, things are looking bad. The protagonist is losing, everything's going wrong, the antagonist has the upper hand. Feel free to slot me into any role you like in that scenario, but the truth of the matter is this; I am down, but not out. The darkest times supply the strongest rises (just ask Batman), and that is every bit what I intend to do. (Rise, not Batman).

This is Dude Meister Blogs 2.0. A little bigger. A little better. A little more badass.

From here on out (or until I hit another lapse), this is how it's going to be. Clearer, Copiouser, Cleverer. And all brought to you by the beauty of scheduling, regularity and alliteration:

  • Tuesdays are for Trailers, as they've always been, with the ever time-consuming popular, Trailer Tuesday.
  • In Web Weaver, I'll be bringing you a menagerie of original web-content I've found along my travels into the WWW. Ideally this would be for a Wednesday, but that'll be a bit tough to guarantee, so these will just come along as they will, any day.
  • Thursday will be a deep, unrelenting journey into philosophical and psychological lands, usually focusing on some aspect of pop-culture, no doubt. But something so intellectual needs a genius name, nay, it deserves one. Thinky Thursday it is!
  • And finally, the accursed day of Rebecca Black. Fridays - not all of them, just occasionally - will be reserved for Film Content, in some way of another, from yours falsely truly.
  • In between that, I'll try and churn out at least one review of something each week. Most likely there'll be some light, list-type filler posts here and there too, 'cause they're always fun and easy. God help my social life. Or failing his existence, friends. Please? Anyone?

It'll all kick off this coming week, and with a stretch of effort, most weeks after that. Because it's time I upped my game, and became the moral centre of the show, to be the integrity! Welcome to 2.0 people.

See you back here next September for the inevitable 3.0!

ATR

Kudos to anyone who picked up on what I was kind of riffing off with this; you have good taste in Sorkin-created HBO shows!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

So You Want To Know My GCSE Results...

With the GCSEs all over, and that monstrously eventful (*cough* five posts *cough*) Summer drawing to a close, the grades have finally been given. Yes I was predicted all A*'s and no, I obviously didn't get all that; who do you think I am, Hugh Freaking Turnbull?! But what I did get were a number of capital letters to be somewhat proud of. So for all you nosey pokes out there, here is what I got along with some unwanted commentary which I'm inevitably going to give:

First up, the 4 A*s:
Maths - I got that last year.
Media - Thank god; it'd be little embarrassing if I didn't. Thanks to a certain little film I made, the course work score was at a tidy 117/120 -- look out for that film premiering on here soon!
English Language - Again, mostly coursework, this time a full marks on that. Let's just not mention that *shudder* Of Mice and Men exam...
History - Whoop, worked hard for that one: full marks coursework, full marks paper one, 6 marks off full on paper two.

The 5 A's:
Geography - A pleasant semi-surprise, wasn't too confident on the papers.
English Literature - Respectable, though an A* would've been nice, but that was those darn Of Mice and Men/Animal Farm markers from last year, because the most recent paper (Poetry) was maxed out at 60/60 which I was very happy about.
Music - Another one I worked for, and came out trumps. Looks like I was right to be confident about that exam, and my very own musical composition was a high scorer. "Writer's Block" will be online in some form soon!
RE - I think they might want to check that because as I remember it, I wrote the biggest pile of theological nonsense ever thought up. Seriously, how does "the sanctity of life" used at least 17 times constitute this grade? But whatever, I'll happily take it.
Biology - The only science worth a damn, glad for that.

The 4 B's:
Statistics - Meh.
Latin - All things considering, this is pretty good. A very difficult subject, split into 4 papers, so I'm happy. Oh and the paper I happened to get an A on, also happens to be the paper I put a Mad Men reference in. Connect the dots, people!
Chemistry - Thank everything that I'll never have to take this again.
Physics - As above. I've always said I'm a fan of science fiction, not of science fact.

On top of these there was a Merit in ICT (just scraped in the coursework before the deadline, phew) and a lovely U in Additional Maths. I knew that was coming though; an AS-equivalent exam, with 3 months to learn and all this other stuff to revise? I think not-trying was the best option.

And that's it; 5 years of Secondary School amount to 15 letters, thankfully most coming from the first 2 in the alphabet (plus some asterisks). Happy with all. Until next time, grades!

ATR

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Trailer Tuesday: Cloud Atlas


For this week's trailer I've got a bit of a mind blower for you: Cloud Atlas, based on the novel of the same name, is a high-concept, sci-fi, drama, action, comedy, fantasy, romance -- let's just call it ambitious, okay? -- from the Matrix messiahs themselves, the Wachowsci siblings and German film-maker, Tom Tykwer. With names like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent starring in multiple roles (such is the nature of this huge, universe-spanning film), it's hard not to get excited. And then you see this 5 minute long trailer. Jaw. Dropping.

This synopsis from YouTube commenter, eroilormafia gives a round-about idea of the complexity of how the story works:
"Cloud Atlas is based on the 2004 multi-award winning novel by David Mitchell. It consists of 6 loosely interconnected stories: an 1850 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future."
With any luck, that should do something to lessen the madness about to invade your mind. Now prepare for 342 seconds of mind-bending, no-holds-barred, incredible film making. THIS is why we go to the movies:

 

And if that wasn't enough to quell your appetite for this fresh foray of film, why not hear what the directors/writers themselves have to say:



_________________________________________________________________

No breakdown I'm afraid, (although seriously, do you really think I have anything more to say about THAT?) but my intrigue/excitement levels are at a high.  With such big talents behind it on almost every angle you look at it from, and a sincere "blessing" from the novel's author, David Mitchell, expectations are going to go through the roof; this ain't no Sucker Punch, that's for sure. To me, this seems like it comes from such an honest, human place; to talk about connection through reality and fantasy, covering every emotion along the way on its quest to unveil our condition. And just look at this -- it's a film from people that love films, a culmination of the tradition of film itself, engulfing us all in its rejuvenation of that old school spirit. Now to just grab a copy of that book and get a'reading before we set sail for Cloud Atlas on October 26, 2012.

ATR

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Trailer Tuesday: Man of Steel


Hot on the heels of the huge release of The Dark Knight Rises comes next year's Superman Reboot, Man of Steel, which now has two separate trailers to tease the hell out of you. Starring newish Brit actor Henry Cavill (Immortals) as the legendary hero/bumbling reporter, Clark Kent, and Amy Adams (The Muppets, The Fighter) as the legendary love/kick-ass reporter, Lois Lane, this incarnation of the Superman story is rumoured to be taking the gritty Batman Begins route. With Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch) at the helm as director and The Dark Knight trilogy's very own Christopher Nolan on producing duties, Man of Steel is shaping up to be next Summer's most anticipated superhero blockbuster.

And for those unfamiliar with the origin story of DC's iconic character, here's the Wikipedia synopsis for the film (boy, do I know how to treat my readers!):
"Clark Kent is a journalist in his twenties who was adopted as a child by Martha and Jonathan Kent after he was transported to Earth from the dying planet Krypton. Raised with the values of his adoptive parents, he feels alienated because of his unique super abilities and struggles to find his place in life. When the world is attacked, he becomes the hero Superman to protect its people."
 Now down to the trailers. While both contain identical footage, each have a different voice over; the first from Clark's real Kryptonian father, Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe and the second featuring Clark's adopted Human father, Jonathan Kent, played by Kevin Costner. They're both bundled together in this video (720p!):



Dialogue Breakdown:
1) Jor-El:
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the Sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
2) Jonathan Kent:
"You're not just anyone. One day you're going to have to make a choice. You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be; whoever that man is, good character or bad, he's going to change the world."

Both speak of the impact little Kal-El's presence will have on the human race, both highlight his extraordinary existence and both sound pretty moving. But in terms of differences, there are many. For one, Jor-El sounds like the pushy Dad forcing him to be good, whereas Jonathan with all his home-grown human sensibilities lends Clark the choice of who he wants to be. It seems this whole Father-Son relationship of how he is the product of both worlds will play a major part in his character development toward the hero the world needs him to be. Jor-El's piece even has some subtext of how Superman as an icon has been seen throughout the decades: "an ideal to strive towards". Mega kudos to David S Goyer, writer of the film and subsequently these snippets; they really hit home emotively on how truly epic and important Clark's journey is going to be -- but what else do you expect from the guy who brought us the stories for all three of Nolan Bat films?

Footage Breakdown:

  • 0:09 - Lot of jeans. Lot of blue - a significant colour, perhaps? 
  • 0:10 - And we pull back to see that the washing line belongs to a coastal house; could the origin story have been changed from Kent Farm, Midwest Smallville to Clark growing up instead on the Kent Farm, By The Ocean?
  • 0:16 - And kick in with the score, pinched in fact from Lord of The Rings. This piece, The Bridge of Khazad-Dum, was used when Gandalf is supposedly killed by the Balrog. But before you write this one off as a "cheap re-use because they couldn't be bothered to make their own music", bear in mind that composer Hans Zimmer (also from Nolan's Bat) has only just come onto the project to score, hence the re-use. It happens. But rest assured, with Zimmer on board, the score is likely to just transcend into greatness. 
  • 0:18-0:28 - Aha, boats and docks and a fisherman Clark, lending itself more and more to the "Coastal Kents" theory. Working the sea as opposed to working the land. OR maybe just a stepping stone in Clark's journey, who knows?
  • 0:33 - Memories of Clark's, winning the science fair with his Dad. Let's not forget (as people often frustratingly do) that Superman is also a highly intellectual being with smarts aplenty, which from this suggests that the film will make a point of. And of course, the Father-Son stuff again.
  • 0:35 - A young Clark, foreshadowing the future with the red cape, which comes off astoundingly bright in the greyish tone of the trailer. If there's one thing that Snyder can nail 100%, it's the visuals on a unique and unprecedented scale.
  • 0:39 - Alien Hitchiker -- Clark's on the road, but rejected by a passer-by. This poses a lot of stuff; why is he trying to hitch-hike when he's got super speed? Does he lose his powers? Is he still learning his powers? Is he trying to fit in with humanity to better protect them? And the rejection promotes another part in Clark's journey: not all humans are good, but he must strive to see the best in them as to remain a constant beacon of hope for everyone. A challenge as good as any foe...
  • 0:48 - Ah the Yellow Sun, the source of all of Superman's power. Could the Sun play a pivotal part in the plot outside of this mere concept though? And what's this misty land below? I see houses, perhaps Kent lands again? 
  • 0:56 - Young Clark once more, but this time with a dog. Fingers crossed for Krypto the Superdog nods (ONLY nods, mind, in this decidedly realistic universe).
  • 0:59 - Capes and reds again. Like I said, Snyder knows how to put on a show using colour and lighting and imagery to really make his films stand out, something that will give Man of Steel the visage it needs to distance itself from the previous Superman movies.
  • 1:08-1:14 - And finally, just to give a single glimpse of Supes in action comes this shaky-cam style shot of a super-speed, costumed up, flight into the skies. The wobble and zoom and "slow miss" screams the realism and angle that Snyder and Co are coming from. It's akin to a rocket taking off, but gives no close-ups on Clark's face as he does this, as seen in Superman Returns etc.  Plus, imagine THIS in IMAX.
  • 1:20 - Blocky, broody, metallic, beat-up, gritty, moody, darker title image with the iconic 'S', and a 2013 release date is all they're going to leave us hanging on. It'll be June 14th 2013, to be precise.
                                                                                                                       



Final Thoughts? Wow. Now that is how you do a teaser trailer. Snips, just tiny minuscule details that reveal near-to-nothing story-wise but pose hundreds of questions to speculate on in the coming months. I've usually got a string of comic-book stories that I can use to shed light on some influences the narrative may take, but I'm happy to see the team keep as tight lipped as possible through this to the point where I've no solid clue where they may draw from. I'm blown away with how much more I want to see now that this edgy, new approach has finally been seen. There's some Nolan elements in there, especially in the earthy presentation of it all -- you may not even think it was Superman until that last shot -- which is risky but potentially great. Imagine, in a world where everything is not-camped up and realised as a cynical, 'closer to reality' place, then the fantastical elements will just be made all the more awesome and incredible. Hell, I'm just gonna go ahead and say it; as of now THIS is my most anticipated movie of 2013. Faith in Nolan. Faith in Snyder. Faith in Goyer.

ATR


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

RE:Commened: My Music Show


So here's a little web-series I found floating around YouTube, created by those devishly clever fellows, The Fine Bros. On face value, MyMusic seems like a quirky new mocumetary-type show taking a tongue-in-cheek look at today's music genres and trends. These are personified by the larger than life cast, named simply after the genre they represent; there's the boss, Indie (Adam Busch), sticking out like a sore thumb with his odd fashions and even odder sayings ("that's culkin!"), mainstream girly-girl Idol, the hot-headed Metal, electro-hyped buddies Techno and Dubstep (and yes, he does talk in bass drops), typical gangsta Hip-Hop and of course the two interns, extremely excitable Scene and the dullness that is Intern 2.

Now throw that group together, all working at the MyMusic office and getting up to a bunch of hijinks and you've got a funny show. A very funny show, at times, even when you don't think it could work there's always some sort of random happening that un-jams the ludicrously zany plots. But as I've said, this is just on face value; this web-sitcom is but one portion of the MyMusicEmpire... 


While you can catch up with their wacky exploits every Sunday with a new 8(ish) minute episode, there's also 3 other shows they run through the week; all using the same characters to host and present them. On Wednesday it's all the latest Music News hosted by Scene, on Friday an array of the cast take fan questions in The Mosh, and on Monday you've got a Live-Streamed variety show with proper artists and comedians coming on to chat and play.


So now you don't just have a web-show, you've got a living, breathing product that is set up to engage us in its presence, going beyond the scripts to actually physically include us and the real world. The character's jobs that are comedically documented in the sitcom actually happen and are available for us to experience too. Which brings us to the heart of the MyMusic ideal; it's an experience. An experience that works in and out of itself as a transmedia, converging beast of a production, proving just what's capable with the revolution of using the internet for original content. 


MyMusic is not just a YouTube channel -- it's the first step into the future of entertainment. 


Here's the first 6 episodes bundled for your viewing pleasure, and keep your eyes peeled for some special guests:


And subscribe to the MyMusic YouTube Channel, or at the very least, check it out.

ATR

Sunday, 1 July 2012

TV's Best of Prom Episodes






















I can neither confirm nor deny my presence in this picture...
Having just come off of my own prom, and having an unexpected blast, I thought I'd take a look at some of TV's famous attempts to capture that most anticipated of teen events. So here's some of my favourite prom episodes from recent memory that stand out in the slow dance of televised pop-culture; full of drama, angst, laughs and of course, glamour:

(In no particular order)

Smallville
"Tempest"/"Spirit"
One was the pivotal, high stakes season 1 finale, the other marking the end of an era and featuring an axe-wielding, psycho-ghost murderer, but both have major parts to play in the Smallville lore. The draw here wasn't the big catastrophes looming (the tempest itself and the aforementioned psycho prom queen possessor) but instead the small, personal dramas of Clark and Chloe. In "Tempest", Clark finally asked Chloe for a slow dance (to the series theme tune, "Save Me" no less) which was romantic and all, but it was of course interrupted by the storm blowing into town and Clark's responsibility to stop it, especially as his real love interest, Lana, was at risk. He never did return to the dance with Chloe and we could all feel her pain at being so close to what she wanted, but then being harshly reminded that it was never going to happen.

Skip ahead to season 4 and it was time for the senior prom, where amongst all the supernatural peril, "Spirit" saw the gang's high school years drawing to a close. Again, Clark gets his slow dance on, but this time with Lana despite his fears of rejection. Chloe looks on, admitting how the events of the last prom (in "Tempest") still hurt, although reminded by the glowing Lois that Chloe's future may be even greater than Clark's himself. Neatly tied into each other, both looking fabulously Prom-like, a great music selection and the dramatic, emotion driven beats made these two super promisodes gleam brightly amongst the sci-fi and action elements surrounding the show's mythos. 



How I Met Your Mother
"Best Prom Ever"
Still in its first season, it was important for HIMYM to find its feet by taking classic trope episodes like the Prom in a different direction, as to drift away from the Friends clone that many would label it as. So instead of going flashback style (Lily's moments notwithstanding), we saw the gang, at their current adult ages, crash a senior prom. There was everything in this one; Lily's character is developed through the realisation of her failed dreams, Barney sneaks into the prom via Turtle outfit and Ted and Marshall fight a kid with Nunchucks. Seriously, what else would you need to prove that How I Met Your Mother was a fresh, original sitcom that stood on its own two hilarious legs? 


Glee
"Prom Queen"/"Prom-asaurus"
Say what you will about those folks down at McKinley High, but they sure can throw a prom. Multiple, it would seem, and manage to keep both different enough from one another to justify its inclusion in the series. Whilst neither of these were ground-breaking in their prom portrayals, both certainly had their highlights, whether it was the surprise performance of Rebecca Black's "Friday" and the turmoil Kurt went through in "Prom Queen" or the bizarre Brittany "Dinosaur" number, the cute Becky/Puck stuff and that ever-hilarious Jar-Jar binks line in "Prom-asaurus". Cheesy, yes, but there was also a lot of the emotional high notes being struck throughout reminding all us Gleeks why Glee still rules the teen-drama scene.

Friends
"The One with the Prom Video"
'Twas a simpler time
Often hailed as one of Friends' greatest episodes, "The One with the Prom Video" is one of those moments in a sitcom's run where you watch it and just think "I friggin' love this show". And how could you possibly say otherwise? Because it was at that point when the critics began to say that this could well be the comedy that defines a generation and will run for years and years (at the time it was only on season 2). We don't even see them at the prom, yet the heart and soul of the prom atmosphere is captured perfectly in the few parts of the prom-prep we do see. I don't think I really need to run down the events of this cultural masterpiece, because if you haven't witnessed frumpy Monica, bitchy Rachel and horrifically Geeky Ross (we're talking 80s geeky), then honestly, what are you doing here?

The Suite Life of Zach and Cody
Less than ideal...
"A Prom Story"
You can't beat some classic Disney Channel, especially when it was a pre-pubescent Zack and Cody. In all honesty, this was probably the closest the show got to resembling some kind of sincerity between Maddie (Ashley Tisdale) and Zach. In hindsight with that particular relationship, even though it was just a kids' show, there were some poignant themes of tragedy and inevitability of heartbreak involved. So when the two dance, you know that for the significantly younger Zach this is his only realistic shot with the crush of his life. Bet you never thought Zach and Cody could be rich in humanised subtext, eh? Plus the Cody-Mime subplot here was a genuine funny highlight of the series.

Community
Yep, that's Community for ya. 
"Pascal's Triangle Revisited"
While not strictly speaking a prom, out of all the dances Greendale holds (some for the most obscurest of reasons), the "Transfer Dance" in this episode was pretty much the show's homage to the classic Prom episode. In true Community (and Greendale) style, it's not prom queen they're running for, but "Tranny Queen", while a love triangle then becomes a line, back to a triangle, and then a quad, and there is some very impromptu and inappropriate rapping going on courtesy of Professor Duncan. Add to that with Dean Pelton's developing Dalmatian fetish and Abed toying with the TV tropes themselves to deliver some genuine heart-warming stuff that rounds off the terrific first season, and you've got a sort-of-prom episode that won't be forgotten in a hurry.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"The Prom"
As a show having always been a very close portrayal of teen life (despite the whole demons and vampires thing), Buffy's Prom episode was damn near perfect, encompassing everything you could want from it. The hype and build-up, the preparation, the fun, the raw emotion, the hell hounds of doom -- oh right, that too. Yet even with its trademark slayage of creatures from the nether, each part of this episode somehow sprung from the prom ideal. These dogs were being set upon people in tuxedos and dresses, which seems daft on face value, but is given meaning from the lonely, prom-hater kid who trained them. Xander and Cordelia's friendship is restored through his generosity of buying her dress in her struggling financial times, and even Buffy gets recognition from her peers as being "Class Protector", in a truly eye-watering moment that culminated the past 3 years.

"Soul" Mates
   However, with all the joys and highs, there also came the huge, crushing lows. Angel came to the heart-breaking conclusion that to be with Buffy wasn't fair on her because of all the things he just couldn't give. So there it was, laid bare, the end of the Buffy/Angel romance as it came to a sad but necessary and realistic end. For one final time, the two shared an intimate moment in what would become the slow dance of the century when Angel turned up unannounced to the prom. "Wild Horses" played them out as we witnessed  those touching moments of doomed love at its peak of both tragedy and beauty; possibly the most powerful of all prom scenes going.


                                                                                                                                               


By no means a comprehensive list, of course, so sorry if I missed one of your own favourites. However, one thing that does remain clear throughout all of these is the theme of endings and beginnings, all resting on one night of living in the moment; and if these beloved characters can do it, then you bet that the rest of us (past, present and future) can too.

ATR

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Trailer Tuesday: Dredd


Alright, to kick off my now free Summer, we're going back to the classic Dude Meister Blogs fashion of getting all Trailerly on a Tuesday. This week it was a toss up between the bad-ass looking 2000AD, Judge Dredd adaptation, Dredd or the flesh-fuelled abs-athon of Channing Tatum in Magic Mike. Despite how much we probably would all love to breakdown and dissect every single HD frame of that trailer, I've got to stick to what I know with this one. So without further ado, the synopsis (Of DREDD, just so we're sure):

"The story of Dredd takes place on an Earth ravaged by the Atomic Wars. Survivors of this world live within megacities, gargantuan urban sprawls which protect its citizens from the Cursed Earth, a radioactive desert environment populated by mutants. The main story takes place in Mega-City One, where its police force, known as judges have the power of judge, jury and executioner to thwart crime. One man, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), a senior Judge, teams up with cadet Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to stop drug dealer Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her traffic of the reality-altering drug Slo-Mo." - Wikipedia (Hence the mega-linkage)
 And the trailer itself (brace for grittiness):




  • 0:10-0:18 -  Dystopian future, rioting people, District 9 etc, etc.
  • 0:21 - Aha, the SloMo drug. Sounds pretty intriguing, especially with the vivid visual style applied, and of course, the La Roux track
  • 0:38 - Why yes, that evil looking lady there does look particularly evil, perhaps because she (Lena Headey) also plays the cold Cersei Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones. Expect this crime-queen to be a little more hands-on in her approach to opposition.  
  • 0:52 - The Judge himself, Karl Urban (Star Trek) as Dredd.
  • 0:55-1:01 - Gritty definitely seems to be on the menu, steering away from the big sci-fi feel of the 2000AD Comics (upon which this comes from) and sticking with a realism mode, as is the trend these days. 
  • 1:03 - The Dark Knight seems to spring to mind...
  • 1:26-1:35 - A lot of online comments have said this is too similar to recent action flick, The Raid, and whilst I can see where they're coming from, let's keep in mind that this was written sometime before that, just bad timing is all.
  • 1:40 - Now this is the only thing that bothers me about this trailer, and it may be because it's all taken out of context, but the dialogue just seems bland. Predictable, action-cliche lines that you wouldn't expect from writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go). Although some of these are obviously justified ("I am the law", "Negotiation's over") as they're kind of embedded in the 2000AD lore. So we'll see...
  • 2:07-2:16 - One of the most exciting things here for sure, demonstrated perfectly in these clips is the visual/directional take on the action and cinematography. The vibrant colours juxtaposed to Dredd's leather, Black 'n' Red, visor toting uniform works harmoniously in showing the two sides of this battle; the law is in the right, but it's certainly a darker task to undertake: grimmer, lonelier and harder than the lives of those colourful criminals. Add on top that strikingly high-res visor reflection image, the gracefulness of the violent Slow-Mo shots and then the sudden visceral onslaught of a dust-covered shoot-up, and you've got yourself some skilful technique. Hats off to director Pete Travis, it seems. 
  • 2:20 - Simple title, simple font. 3D - maybe a decent use of it for once? 
  • 2:24 - I sure do hope this clip didn't just spoil the ending; Dredd throwing what looks like the evil Ma Ma out a high window, which they may have just spent the rest of the film trying to get to by ascending and assaulting this tower block? 
  • 2:26 - Guess we're just going to have to find out September 7th. 
                                                                                                                                              


Final Thoughts? Intriguing, but it could still go either way despite the aesthetic and directional attributes on display. It's a tricky balance to keep: being grittily bare-bones for the sake of having a punctual setting and theme or just looking plain cheap. Let's hope it leans toward the former. 
Story? Within the hands of Garland, I have some faith in that at least, even if the dialogue is sub par. From the varied locations of shots here, it seems like the pacing could be tight and the set-pieces a splendid feast. Only qualm with that would be whether the characters will be able to keep up and develop. 
Performances? The actors aren't exactly shown greatly here, so that's still up in the air, although their action abilities seem to be stretched well and Urban's gruff voice in full grunty mode. 
Music? The trailer featured an array, from some trippy future pop that worked okay, to standard bassy-action tropes and surprisingly some emotional melodies heard now and again which gives extra hope for perhaps not an entire action-fest. Perhaps even some of the social commentary that 2000AD often dips into?


Anyway, however this turns out, I think we can guarantee it'll be an improvement on the 1995 Stallone Judge Dredd. Or so help us all. 


ATR

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Hiatus... Explained


So you may have realised something of late. Ever since the 16th of April, there has been virtually no activity on here. Some have been worried, some have been overjoyed and a few have been heartbroken. Or, most likely, you've shrugged it off and merely moved on. Well, there's a few reasons for the distinct lack of stuff to be read/skimmed/mocked for the previous 6 weeks, of which may contain at least some justification for my sheer absence.

Reason 1: Exams
It's exam season, pretty straight forward. Me + Revision = Good Exam Grades. Me + Blog (-Revision) = Bad Exam Grades. Whether or not the exam grades will in fact be good is yet to be seen, but if so, I'll be sure to process the correlation of no blogging and lots of A's.

Huh, well I guess there really was only one reason. How 'bout that? So this leaves the whole part of next. In approximately 3 weeks' time, I'll be faced with an arduous 11 week Summer, whereby the sun shallt shine and the waft of the great outdoors will be wholly resistible as I sit at my desk thrashing away at the keyboard for some hopefully quality articles (and other projects too...). It'll play out kinda like this, but you know, lonelier and probably with more singing/dancing:


Yep, that sure was a fearless High School Musical reference and drop-in.
If you stick around long enough you may even hear a song or two of my own, catch a 4-minute short film or perhaps simply enjoy the delights of some stories I've written. None of which happen to involve Zac Efron (yet!).

Now if you don't mind, I need to get back to doing everything under the sun to delay revision.

Ciao amigos. (What? I don't speak European!)

ATR

Monday, 16 April 2012

RE:View: The Cabin in The Woods


*SPOILER FREE* (Which is essential for this!)

The funny thing about current horror movies - or torture porn, as they're often referred to - is the sheer emptiness of them. You pay, you sit down, you watch 90 minutes of kids getting murdered as gruesomely as possible and then you leave. There's no meaning or investment needed, and when truly thought about is a very nihilistic view of morals. Which is where The Cabin in The Woods comes in, to set the records straight and turn the horror flick on its head; but not in the ways you might think...

  Naturally, a bunch of teenagers visit a cabin and realise that all may not be what it seems, but in a sense far detached from your simple supernatural occurrences. Because in this Cabin in The Woods, lies something perhaps even darker than your average slasher tale, as these five are going to find out, at quite a cost.
The affectionate nods and references to
 the classics are a welcome sight.
 For us, anyway...
Why yes, even with that undertone, what I have just described may still sound generic, but believe me when I say this: IT IS NOT. There's this unique counter-perspective to the proceedings that remarkably puts the entire genre in a new light; a spin that melds sweetly and should certainly be kept secret until you've seen the film. Half the enjoyment of Cabin comes with the surprise of this one-of-a-kind story, which isn't even held over you up to the end: just straight up, first scene twist to get the ball rolling (albeit rolling upwards).

The deliberateness of this never feels forced, thanks to the handy work of Drew Goddard (Director/Co-Writer) and Joss Whedon (Writer), who instead throw the loop at a steady, well kept pace. Both sides of the narrative are balanced, allowing enough investment into each set of characters and worlds, despite one half of these being the morbidly optimistic villains and the other a group of familiar yet updated archetypes of teenagers.

And by updated, I mean believable. Because seriously, do you really think teenagers are that dumb to always split up? No, see these guys are smart, forward thinking kids who don't lack the common sense that apparently every other cabin-bound teen does (unless that becomes induced on them, of course...). Such maturity is then reflected with their relatively newbie cast, with Chris Hemsworth as probably the most recognisable due to his whole Thor gig. However, the true standout of these is Fran Kranz as the magnetically charming "Fool", Marty. From this side of the ride, Kranz steals the show with his stoner-yet-wisdom strewn persona, nailing all the damn-right delicious one-liners thrown his way (courtesy of Whedon, I've no doubt). This could well be his star-maker...

On the super-secret flip side, you've got an abundance of unexpected laughs. Again, the undeclared shape of The Cabin in The Woods still surprises with its multi-genre bending ingenuity. While the genuine scares remain ever scarce (sorry fear-fans, this isn't quite the scream fest you're looking for), you can expect plenty of humourous gags and set-ups that may as well have been in a straight-up comedy. Which in fact works better throughout to help detail the subtext lurking underneath the 95 minutes of pure entertainment.

The thing is with Cabin, you don't just walk out with a smile on your face; you're imparted with something overwhelming to ponder upon - How is watching people die fun? How did the genre get to the point where its main selling point was to watch human mutilation? So it takes these ideas and throws them back at the audience. Sure there are some gruesome deaths in here, but they've got weight to them: you've warmed to the character, you don't want to see them die, you feel their loss. In this sense, it isn't so much poking fun at those immoral conventions as it is ripping its stale heart out and presenting it for all to see, via a string of self-aware, mind-screwing metaness.

It may not be to everyone's taste, to be thrust upon with the truth that what you might have wanted from this film (torture porn) is ultimately not right. Though that's what makes it so good, the bluntness of this point, yet the subtlety of its delivery. Some may not even notice it, but still thoroughly love the film, whilst those who totally get it will totally get it AND thoroughly love the film.

So when The Cabin in The Woods reaches its converging third act of bizarre havoc and satisfying plot turn-arounds, and you've come to terms with the fact that this was not necessarily the film you paid for, I'd say you'll be pretty damn glad you were mislead into this soon-to-be classic genre-buster.

Change is good. But an entire overhaul of expectation? Now that's amazing.
5 Stars

ATR