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.

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.


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.


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.


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)

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? 

"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.

"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.

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.