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, 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!