Thursday, 19 February 2009

Surfing the World Wide Web....

Everyone knows that there are those moments when we should be doing something relatively important, but to no apparent reason, procrastination kicks in. We open the laptop or turn on the computer and spend hours just clicking on anything and everything. To girls, I'm sure the run of the gossip mills such as are one of the first stops on this mindless journey, but I assure you, there are some better gems out there but are begging to be part of your search engine extravaganza. 

In no apparaent order:

1) - I was introduced to the post secret world whilst in my
foundation course last year and have since become a fan of this cult. It was started by artist 
Frank Warren back in Novemeber 2004 as a community art project. He hid postcards amongst public places asking strangers to jot down their deepest secrets anonymouly and to then mail them to Warren. The feedback was huge, with powerful, meaningful and highly 
amusing responses. Even when Warren stopped handing out postcards, he still recievesthousands every month. He has published books with the postcards, but for those on the run.... allows you to get your daily fix of this awesome movement that will leave you moved and relating to strangers in a way you never thought possible.  

2) - I've written a piece on the Spanish artist Sixeart for my blog, and for those that also find the art cool and exctiting, his official website 
is one that should definitely be checked out. Keep in mind the site is in Spanish, but I speak like 3 words of the language and managed to navigate my way round it relatively easily. There are tons of examples of his work and i'm sure you will not be disapoointed by the array of bold colours that are a sure treat for the eyes.

3) - This website is like the Youtube of comedy. It has videos that have been uploaded and are packed with spoofs such as Contestants for Miss.March, a Snack Commercial, and my favourite... a video called 'Love Game' which looks at a woman trying to find her lover, through a series of Mario-Nintendo like events. It's an easy site to pass the time, and anything that adds in a couple of laughs can't be too bad either.

4) - Empire Magazine has to be one of my favourite magazines, and it's just as good online. For all the kids that are just as obsessed with Movies and Movie news alike, will find this site the Willy Wonka's of chocolate land. There's news, blogs, reviews, features, interviews, competitions and forums on all the movie buzz you could ever want. If you want to know anything on upcoming movies and their actors, this is the place to find it.

5) - This is the site that contains the funniest and most clever animation that I think I may have seen. It shows an animator battling against his own created animation. It's based on the computer screen and watches the animator (who poses as the computers cursor) and the little stickman interacting with the well known computer links such as file... and much
 more. It's a really unique animation and truly original. It's definitely worth at least seeing once... but once you do see it, you'll be showing it to everyone else you know.

6) - This site was recommend by my friend when I was really  bored one day. It's so silly and pointless... but hey at least it's aware of that, hence it's domain name. It contains links that reveal the most pointless sites you'll ever come across. Some are funny, some you may consider a waste of time, but despite how ridiculous they may be... you'll be amazed at how much time on their hands some people have, and you may even join their club, as you waste your time on this comical site. 

7) - If I hadn't pursued Animation, I would have loved to study Astronomy. I think there is nothing as interesting as learning about outer space, the stars, and the neighbouring galaxies. Maybe it's my weird geeky thing, but give me a telescope... and a Starbucks, and I'm sold. This site features a new photo
everyday that a professional Astronomer has captured, along with a brief explanation of what it is. It's really very interesting and the images are unbelievable and so cool. It's amazing to think how much there is outside our own planet and how beautiful it is too. It's also quite remarkable how far modern technology has come, so that we can obtain these pictures and marvel at how lucky we are to see these creations that humans had never thought possible before. 

8) - For anyone that doesn't know, I'm completely obsessed with comic books. I like a few of the DC, but my favourite collection has to be from Marvel. It's the home of my best hero, Spiderman and many others that now due to it's movie phenomena, has become well known to any fellow movie goer. The site is a real treat, as not only does it have all the news and information that you could ever possibly want from each superhero, it also has character biographies to give you all the down lows, blogs from other comic fans, an array of digital comics and much more. It's fun to just poke around while you're surfing the net and catch up on your daily comic buzz.

9) I love taking photos of nature and scenic surroundings, and love to go on this site whenever I can to look at some really good photography. It's also interesting to see what other people like to capture because it shows how we all focus on different things and how we all see the world differently too. Some photos are incredibly touching, as there is one taken of a monkey trapped inside a cage, whilst others are breathtakingly beautiful with places you may never travel to in your lifetime. There's also photography tips and Q+A's offering you the best advice it can for all your photography queries.

10) - I think poetry can be a really cool thing. Sometimes by reading one you find something in it that no-one else will, something that you can relate personally too. Other times you'll read something and not know what on earth it's referring too, in which case it makes you think about what the poem is trying to express... maybe something that you're ignorant to or something that you've never thought about. Either way, this site features so many wonderful poems by poets that you may or may not recognize. There's a really beautiful one by E.E.Cummings, called ' I carry your heart with me', which I recommend for reading, but with so many different poem,s, you're sure to find your own favourite.  

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Sixeart...'Mutante con hijo en brazos

'....(Mutant with son in arms) (2007)

For my second Art Review, I chose the piece by Spanish artist Sixeart. Inspired by comic book graphics he takes childlike images and shapes that collaborates with psychedelic abstraction to create colourful, loud, intense works of art. Sixeart originally made a name for himself through his graffiti art but has since moved onto canvases, sculptures and screen prints.

I chose this piece because I absolutely adore colour. To me that is what always makes the piece. I prefer bright colours as they seem more appealing, open and friendly. Obviously I can appreciate that certain paintings require the use of darker hues to portray possibly deep or morbid visions but what catches my eye is always the brighter, adventurous paintings that scream from the other side of the room.
This piece specifically ticks all the boxes. I think the composition works really well as I like how it's all quite symmetrical. Abstract art is my favourite, but I also like order and structure in the pieces otherwise it can get too carried away. In this piece, the symmetrical side of it allows for the colourful shapes and lines to click together, almost like a puzzle. It makes the explosion of colour seem in control without ruining the crazy personality of it. I think that by adding the straight, thin, lines in the middle of the painting and in the green creatures face, allows there to be an added dimension. It feels like it brings the art together as it helps to keep your eyes focused and guides your attention to the middle of the painting. 
   Maybe I've been too brainwashed by Picasso, (yes he's my favourite artist, and we share the same birthday!).... but I really like colourful shapes to be outlined in black. It projects the colour more and signifies where each shape ends so the next can begin. I think if this piece wasn't outlined, then the colours would all mesh into one another and I don't think it would therefore have the same effect. 

  In my opinion, the most important thing about art is how it makes you feel and what you take from it. That's why it's so subjective. When I look at 'Mutante con hijo en brazos' it just makes me feel really calm and happy. I know it may seem odd that something with so much going on can make someone feel really at peace, but I'm just one of those people that doesn't get phased by so much eye activity. My sister often wonders how I don't get a headache from my room... yes it's as colourful as the painting above. Regardless, like I mentioned with all the colour formed into structured content, it allows for the mind not to be distracted. Instead, you can enjoy it for what it is and how it can just brighten your mind and make you feel good. 
  I think Sixearts work is truly beautiful and fun. It's definitely worth checking out his other stuff as every piece is so different yet so asthetically pleasing all the same.

Literature Review Four - ''Animation Now!' Anima Mundi

Animation Now! was one of the first animation books I bought for myself. It provides a great collection of shorts and previews from animations all over the world and even comes with a DVD that features some of the animations in full, so that you can really interact with the book.
Inside, you will find chapters on well known animation productions such as Aardman, Dreamworks, National Film Board of Canada, Walt Disney and 
Disney/Pixar. Plus lots on those that you may never have heard of. It focuses on not only animation shorts, but includes tv commercials and trailers which as you flip through will prove very interesting to see the well known products and programmes that these companies have produced work for.
The Aardman pages features all the animations that they have ever produced, specifically picking out a few and going in-depth into the production and animation process. Examples are that of 'Angry Kid', 'Wallace and Gromit' and 'Rex the Runt'. Photos illustrate the process involved of making the characters and the brief history behind Aardman that prove fascinating to all. 

Russian animator Alexandor Petrov, creates animation that looks like moving paintings. His artwork is so beautiful and the examples of storyboards further magnify his creative ability
 and helps those studying animation to see how professional animators use storyboards to help themselves project their ideas properly.
 Speaking from experience, I know that I usually try to make my storyboards seem neat and spend hours going over them in outlines and shading. Petrov's boards are so rough 
but the content is so detailed that it just shows that you don't have to spend such a long time on them, as long as you get the images that you need
 in order to create your film correctly. It's useful to see how Petrov works whilst preparing his work, as for any young
 animator it is always a good help to see their process of techniques as tips for the future. 

Another example featured in this book is that of
the group, Buzzco and Associates. They create really fun and jazzy animations that are colourful and combine interesting techniques and materials. 
Their animation, 'The ballad of Archie Foley' features outlines in a diverse array of bold colours. It's different to anything I've ever seen and is a really effective way to do something new.  I think in a way it appears more effective to colour the background in black and use coloured lines to initiate life as it stands out more then it would against a white backdrop.
With their other short, '(It was...) nothing at all' it appears that they have cut out parts of fabrics and drawn on top of them to create a collage using a blend of different materials.  It makes the animation seem really textured and a real pleasure for the eyes. It's an interesting option to consider as opposed to the normal sketches or CGI that we've become so used to.

Animation Now! continues to look at so many more productions, illustrating their best works. Not only does this allow us to look at the variety of techniques but it educates you on the different companies out there, which as I have then looked into them, have noticed that they are keen to offer internships which is always helpful for future job prospects. The book is really interesting and the layout makes it easy and appealing to flip through and enjoy. All the artwork is laid out well with information avaliable as not only is it vital to see animation pictures but to understand the motive behind the visions too. It's a really inviting read and the DVD will also be an included bonus.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Literature Review Three - ''DC COMICS COVERGIRLS' Louise Simonson

This book is one of my absolute cherished ones that I own, and like the question, ' what came first the chicken or the egg?'... comes my own struggle, ' what came first, my love for comics or my love for comic art?'
For anyone that loves the dramatic graphics, bold colours and intense artwork will find this book as pleasing as I do. It's laid out in chapters, looking at all the various DC comics and the women whose presence made it what it is. For example one chapter is labelled as, 'Gotham Girls' and shows graphic cover
work featuring the likes of  'Cat Woman', Harley-quinn', 'Posion Ivy', 'Batgirl' and a special of 'Robin the girl wonder'. One cover especially has it's own Duchamp Surrealist feel which too pokes fun at the famous 'Mona Lisa'..
Another chapter features comics that may not have proved as popular as the 'Wonder Woman' generation or that of 'Supergirl' who starred alongside 'Superman'...but show Gothic and sinister graphics that appeal more to the dark side of comic books and their maturity which were known as, 'Vertigo'.  Such marvels are that of, 'Black Orchid' whom was  a hybrid-plant woman linked to 'Poison Ivy', that was brutally murdered, leaving her siblings to carry on her work. Another collection seen is that of 'Lucifer' which sees an ego-centric fallen angel that is bored with ruling hell and so retires to the piano bar 'Lux' in Los Angeles in which he deals with whims by mortals and immortals alike.
One cover from this series I find remarkably beautiful with a slight disturbing presence that portrays the mystical beauty of the dead underworld which can be seen on the left. It was created by Michael J.Kaluta who was known for creating 'moody' art. It shows the comics character Lilith, who sacrifices her own children in her search for vengeance. On the cover you're able to see this portrayed through Lucifer being dangled from her right earlobe.
Even if you aren't aware of all the DC comics that have ever been created, the art-work is so incredible that you don't need to be familiar with all the stories to really appreciate it. Along with the art is some text explaining the comics and the reasons for the women and their cause behind it, which could probe you to become interested in those that you have never heard about. 

In most comic stories it is usually always the men that hold the shining light, with women being used as a love-interest to further probe the hero's own Psyche or the females are used as villains or mindless distractions. For all the feminists out there, this time women are given their chance to signify what they're capable of. Obviously the well known 'Wonder Woman' had her time in the spotlight but considering how many male counterparts are out there it is surprising how only one leading lady has ever had her own role. 'DC COMICS COVERGIRLS' goes further into the complex personalities of the trivial women that have graced their pages throughout the decades. The sinister Cat Woman, the mentally powerful Lois Lane, the cheeky villian-esses  and the growing adolescence of the 'Teen Titans'. 
  Even if some of these characters haven't been the leading role in their place in comic history, we see their reasoning explained in great depth which makes you feel that without their presence, the comics wouldn't have been as popular as they were.

'Preacher' is another gem that features art by Glenn Fabry, and shows a size able female face that when seen as actual cover art is breathtaking at how realistic it seems to be.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone that loves the art work that comics have delivered year after year. From vintage covers, to the slightly less famous, to the highly recognizable hero's.. this book has them all. Created by dozens of different artists, each one is loud and hardcore..delivering the true intensity that comic followers have come to appreciate and love.

Literature Review Two - ''Dada, Surrealism, and their heritage' by.. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Dada movement and Surrealism, I find are like the teenage rebels of art history. For those that aren't familiar, Dada sprung in the early 20th Century at a time when 'sticking it to the man' was the way to go. Most artists such as Marcelle Duchamp and Andre Bretton, liked to engage in this protest art against the upper Bourgeois by taking already existing art, destroying it and then piecing it back together to portray an abstract and bizarre twist to the original. By the early 1920's, Dadism had begun to vanish out and in place a new movement took its role, that of Surrealism.I found this book to be quite insightful into the history of the movements and how they shaped and influenced future art and their creators. 

 What I found most interesting is how modern Surrealism seemed to be, in my opinion way before its time. I believe this because such a concept is just so weird and passionate, something that at a time when most things that went agaisnt the norm were to be percieved as a taboo and not something to bring up over dinner conversation, the art that the Surrealist movement created was just that. It didn't make sense and that was the sole purpose of it. It created a situation that enabled the unquestionable to be left unquestioned and to take classical art and throw it out the window, guiding art to become more subjective and extreme.  With Duchamps example of 'L.H.O.O.Q', in which he painted a moustache and beard onto a copy of the infamous 'Mona Lisa' we see how naughty and at times cheeky this movement enabled people to be. For once art was about not confining to any rules or to any norms that society had prevoiusly commanded for us all.'Dada, Surrealism, and their heritage', gives great examples of the types of art created, with pages after pages of out there creations and educates the stories behind them. It goes into great depth to not only explain the theory itself but the reasoning behind it. 

Why this movement in particular speaks volumes to me is the immense passion and fire behind creating these werid wonders. Such 'political' artists as George Grosz were so antibourgeois that his artworks proved to become satires in provoking the city streets and framing the corruption of society. Since he had experinced first hand the great expectations that society threw on young men at that time since he was a soldier, he felt it necessary to show through his art how disgusted he was by the experinces he had been forced into. 
There are more examples of artists such as Rene Margritte who produced works 
that left people wondereing and trying to make sense of it all. The piece to the right, 'Pleasure' shows a young child eating a bird alive. To suggest such cannibalism from such a young child leaves one to question the artists intentions and the shock they were trying to provoke.

Salvador Dalis' works are also a bizarre delight. The work to the left, 'In Volupate Mors' features what seems like a skull... but is made up of naked woman, carefully positioned to create the resembelance a skeleta
l feature.
Dali was also adamant to turn something so common and well known, such as an everyday object as a clock and pick it from the normality of everyday life and turn it into something strange to make it become fascinating and unknown again, as can be seen in the painting on the right, 'Montre Molle au Moment'.

I found that the information produced wasn't too tiresome or overdone as can be the case with most historical books. It's articulated well and provides some very fascinating insights throughout the movements development. It can all be absorbed at a reasonable pace and explains the artists motives and techniques very well. The only vice with this book that I can suggest is that the pictures are all in black and white.. and whilst I realize that's not a huge deal-breaker... I think it would have just been more visually appealing to see the Surrealists art in the very way they were meant to be presented, as their use of colour expresses their moods just as much as the content does.

Literature Review One - 'Animation Art' by.. Jerry Beck

I've decided to look at the difference between Animation as an art form and Animation as a technique. Some may argue that both can be seen as the same as the technique requires a string of artwork to portray the picture, but despite the graphic side to most animations.. it is the combination of technique and the form of art that brings the animation forward.

 'Animation Art' by Jerry Beck is a really good find. It's incredibly inviting and interesting. With lots of graphics to keep the eyes pleased, whilst informing your brain with enough information through the worded type. It looks at the large spectrum of Animation, starting from the very first creators right through influential movements, techniques, media influences and the importance of competition. 
 Certain aspects that caught my eye were the  electrifying techniques that the caricaturist Emile Cohl created in his first animated film, 'Fantasmagorie' which featured movements on white paper that were produced into thin lines and then the results were printed onto negative film in the positive form. This book looks at many artists like Cohl, such as Chuck Jones who was made infamous by his artwork for the ever popular series, 'Looney Toons', which boasted highly stylized backgrounds and overly-expressive characters. There's also a look at Osamu Tezuka, whom was honoured as the 'G-d of comics' and 'The Disney of Japan' due to his involvement in Manga which he revolutionized with new dramatic camera shots involving close ups and different perspectives.

 Animation art also takes a close look at the diverse impact that cultures have on the animation industry. Hans Fischerkoesen took his influence for creating animations that seemed to illustrate his opposition to the fascist Nazi regime. The Soviets too used their animation to promote propaganda, using cinemas to engage the audience in films that celebrated the victory over the capitalists by the new soviet republic. Hungarian native George Pal, who was known as revolutionizing animation by using models known as, 'Puppetoons' created a piece that fired back at the Gestapo after driving him out of Berlin with his feature, 'Tulips shall grow' which looks at a peaceful Holland being destroyed by robots. The book even looks at the creation of animation after the impact of World War Two with the introduction of the series 'Superman', this indestructible hero that was featured fighting the Nazis in one episode. 

There's also a look at the first time animation came onto the silver screens and then the progression into cinemas through feature films. Even how animation was given the 'Saturday Morning Blues' by being perceived in the 1970's as a childish medium due to the increasing size of over-seas production which in turn led to an economic demise of cheap productions and poor animations that were deemed only watchable by non-judgemental children. 
 Animation Art however, also looks at how animation has shaped adult culture with the likes of 'Beavis and Butthead', 'The Simpsons', 'Ren and Stimpy', and 'South Park' that became a cult sensation with its hard hitting views on sex and violence.

  This book is honestly a real catch not just for animators, but to anyone interested in how animation has developed, how it's used by not only animators but by artists, how its techniques have been processed from chalk boards, to colour, to puppets and then onto CGI, and how through political, social, and graphic imagery, animation altered the way films were made and viewed.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

'This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone'

The Twilight Zone
Director: Ron Winston
Written by: Rod Serling

Episode: 'The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
                    Season One. Episode 22. 1960

I have always had a bizarre fascination with the unknown and paranormal. My first encounter with The Twilight Zone was at the Disney theme park in Orlando, Fla when I was younger... and I must admit.. it completely freaked me out. More the ride then the story, but even to this day the programme still holds that off-balance feel that kinda freaks you out though you're not sure why. Every episode features a different story that looks at happenings that can not be accounted for. Nothing childish like, more like sending shivers down your spine. Without giving the wrong impression.. they aren't scary, not unless you're completely paranoid but like I previously mentioned, they just leave you a little off-balanced and weirded out. What also adds nicely to the creep factor, is that every episode is narrated.. and the voice actor who also happens to be the writer, Serling, has the exact right mystery to his tone with an extra devilish charm that intrigues you into the story from the very beginning.
 'The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street' looks at a quaint and friendly American suburban street. Suddenly a loud noise is heard flying over, and with that all the electricity and power is cut off. Everyone becomes inquisitive and a small neighbourhood boy tells of a story he read in a comic of when aliens invaded and sent spies to suss out where to invade. Typically, the residents start to believe it and soon enough they all become suspicious of one another, questioning who among them are the monsters. With a murder and more drama the road starts to tear itself apart. By the very end of the episode, the camera pulls back onto a towering hill and we see a couple of aliens watching the frantic riots. They state that when humans are faced with any sort of dilemma, they all turn crazy and don't know how to deal with it.. which makes them perfect victims for the invasion of the extra-terrestrial. 

Every episode is in black and white, even up to the very last one which aired in 1964. Television didn't come out into colour until the late 50's, which since the first episode of the Twilight Zone was in 1959, could suggest that at that time maybe colour wasn't available everywhere or that it may have been seen as a high risk when promoting a new series as no-one could tell how audiences would respond to the change. I personally though feel that this series wouldn't have worked so well if it had been in colour and I believe that's why it always stayed true to the mono-tone fashion. First of all, despite that the Twilight Zone became produced in a time of revolutionary change, the 50's and early 60's were still very traditional so the feel of the programme reflects that. With 'The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street' as an example, we see that the road is very neat and orderly. All the houses are well kept, all the families are nuclear with a stay at home mom and a working dad, and everyone knows their neighbours and each other. With that in mind, this show projects the story better in black and white as it then seems more old-fashioned and traditional. Another perspective is how the idea of black and white keeps the pretense of mystery and keeps the tension high. Since most programmes were experimenting with colour now, to have this one black and white, makes you kind of feel like it's not a real world and that despite how involved you will become whilst watching, it's a place you'll never be able to enter. Hence the idea of a Twilight Zone. The fact that the audience always then feels that there's a boundary between them and this world enables to keep off-balance tension of each episode. If you look at 'Midsomer Murders', the popular British Television series which tackles a new mystery every episode... I realize that unlike the Twilight Zone, they solve their mysterious but in comparison with it in colour, I always feel like it's more realistic and could very well happen in my town if there was a crazy guy on the loose. By keeping the Twilight Zone therefore in monochrome allows us to wonder whether these incidents really are silly or whether they could very well happen. After all so many people to this day question the after world and I can admit to taking Halloween a little too seriously every year.

The theme song is notorious, with just two notes played one after the other, and other music featured in the episodes captures the same eerie, slow, creepy feel. One reason why this programme worked so well is that not only did the creators keep in mind that the stories themselves were bizarre and weird but they knew how to capture the feeling of that as well. With it staying true in black and white, the music, and the narrative tales...The Twilight Zone is everything you would want from another world and more. Serling himself had a talent for creating out-there stories and intense dramas. He wrote the screen play for 'Planet of the Apes' in 1968 which considering it's a planet ruled by apes highlights how crazy and and wild his imagination was.. which I think after watching all 5 seasons you will come to agree with. 

Monday, 2 February 2009

"Oh guys.....don't stay in here all day. I had to take the batteries out of the carbon monoxide detector, it was bleeping all night"

Garden State
Director: Zach Braff
Written by: Zach Braff

Garden State is a depressing yet heart-warming film that makes you look at the problems in your life and to question whether they are really problems or more of a problematic situation that can easily be solved with the right attitude and motive. I love Zach Braffs and Natalie Portmans' characters as they are so polar opposite that they work. There are parts of both personalities that I feel can relate specifically to anyone that feels kinda lost and on 'auto pilot'.... just cruising through their life, not really sure of what's happening to them or around them. Braffs' persona delivers the meaning of the story at an intense full blast, as he is so self-obsessive, lost and troubled that his self-destructive path highlights to the viewers how when we're going through the same stuff, we can be so oblivious to how everyone else sees us. On the other hand, Portmans' character is so naive and kooky, but refreshingly so in tune with the world around her. This helps guide the story as she does enable Braff to open up and just feel free without being pushy, but from just being in her presence, he is able to push himself out of this blah world he has created and take life by the hand. Watching their innocent relationship blossom shows us how the most unlikely people are the ones who can save us from ourselves. 
  Garden State is a film that conveys the message that you should seize every moment and be aware that by closing yourself off and having no faith in anyone is really going to get you nowhere. I think it's a really powerful message to convey, but this movie does it so well, without it sitting heavy on our minds or causing us to feel like we've sat through an appointment with a shrink. It does always leave me thinking by the end, but in a good way as I think if more people thought about life and the good that can come from it, then maybe more people could stop attaching so much pressure to themselves.

 Braff is notoriously well known for staring in the comedy 'Scrubs' and despite his involvement in directing a few of the episodes, Garden State is so different from anything else he has ever worked on that it makes you aware that people have sides to them that you may never have known of. To be so funny and comical but then to make such a moving film is really very impressive and shows he has pocketfuls of talent. The music too compliments the mood of the film as they choose to involve, 'The Shins', 'Colin Hay', 'Nick Drake' and some 'Art and Garfunkel' which is a compilation of mellow tunes that mesh well with the intense story.  I feel that if they had some loud rock music or something very obvious then it would distract too much from the film. Fittingly, the end credit by Essex band 'Frou Frou' pieces this masterpiece together by telling us to just....'Let Go'.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it"

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Director: John Hughes
Written by: John Hughes 

I vividly remember watching this movie when I must have been around eleven and I have loved it ever since. It must have been love at first sight because if this movie were a relationship, Valentines Day would come more then once a year.
 Ferris is such an awesome character. You love him just as much as everyone else does in the movie, but at the same time you can understand why his sister resents him so much because if absolutely everyone kissed his cute little behind, then there would be no conflict and thus no movie. He is playfully arrogant and obnoxious, but he also has such a charm that throughout the movie you keep your fingers crossed and pray that he gets away with ditching school. You can't help but admire his courage and flare to plan the wicked day for his girlfriend and best friend, a day that includes no annoying teachers, no lessons and more importantly no responsibilities. What really works in this film as opposed to so many lead teen roles is that Matthew Broderick is in my opinion a decent looking chap, but he's no Robert Pattison (last mention I swear) nor a Zac Efron. If Broderick was drop dead gorgeous then it would really be way too much. He would be like the perfect guy, which firstly doesn't exist and secondly would just make you think that this film is just too preppy and ridiculous. I'm not saying he is ugly in the slightest but with a more geeky-cuteness, his character is much more believable.
   I think that even though the story is told through a rebellious teen heart-throb, the punch line can appeal to all ages. It shouldn't take us to bunk off work to enjoy the world we live in and just to have fun and live a little. We don't have to go to the extremes that this character aspires to, but why shouldn't we push the limits and go a little crazier then we would think possible?
 Whenever I tried to bunk boring lessons I would always manage to end up hiding in the locker rooms.. and getting caught, let alone getting up to half the things they do in this movie. It's fun, imaginative and witty from start to finish and will certainly be a bad influence on the easily swayed.
 With such a strong character as Ferris's, the supporting actors roles are prominent without taking the shine away from the hero. His sister, who doesn't share in sisterly love is the playful villain, trying to do everything in her power to get her brother caught out. His best friend is so anal and controlled that he's happy to sit in the background and let Ferris whip him into shape. But don't be fooled because he has the ability to amuse just as much and to some may even be the heart-throb of the show. Lastly, this film wouldn't be complete without some love interest.. and thus enter the hot, cool and collected girlfriend. It's sweet to show how much Ferris loves her and how he'll go out of his way just to get her to smile.

  Hughes delivered some fantastic, and I mean fan-tas-tic, teen aged 80's movies. Most recognizable were those among the 'Brat Pat' alum as, 'Pretty in Pink', 'Weird Science', 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Sixteen Candles', and so with all that experience you can be sure the man knew what he was doing in scoring a hit. It's cheesy at the best of times but think of it more as a Camembert rather then the processed cheese you get with your cinema nachos. Oh and there's a cameo by a very young Charlie Sheen....with eyeliner. Mmm, I know what you're all thinking.

"A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal"

Big Fish
Director: Tim Burton
Written by: Daniel Wallace and John August

Big Fish has to be one the most beautiful films that I have ever seen.
Firstly, it is visually a pleasure for the eyes... more so then Robert Pattison even. 
Each different set, each costume, makes you feel like you've escaped head first into a fantasy world. Burtons visionary manages to make you feel like you're in the movie, smelling the flowers, diving into the water and sitting first hand at the Fathers bedside. In most of his films no matter if you're a fan or not, one thing he never skips on is the attention to detail. Unlike his notorious love for all things gothic and eerie, his art for Big Fish is unlike any other Burton film he's created. The colours aren't scoring a 10 on the richter scale and are peaceful, quaint with hints of bold but subtle tints. The construction of the sets are so wonderful that it is almost like it's a pop-up-book come to life. The special effects are so delicately done that it gives the the fantasy and edge of reality. Their not over done that you start to doubt that a man could really be so tall, which would then ruin the ethos of the movie straight away. 
  Secondly, not only is it a visual stunning, but it is also one of the most beautiful story lines to match. It is such a heart wrenching tale that I would bet my life pleasures of Starbucks on that you will be very close to, if not pouring your eyes out by the end.  The relationship between the Father and Son is so moving, especially as it has been directed to allow you to see though both their eyes without siding with one more then the other. It teaches you to be empathetic to other peoples views and to have a little more faith in things you're too quick to doubt. 
  Including Ewan McGregor as the leading actor was right on the money. He is the perfect gentlemen to portray a very gracious yet slightly over-ambitious character, that you believe every story and word that comes out of his mouth. No matter how obscene his stories may seem, you can't help but to believe that perhaps such instances can occur. His characters relationship with all the vast people he comes across throughout his life has been so wonderfully meshed that you fall for him even more as the hero, as he is so versatile and romantic that he gets on with everyone he meets. No matter how rude, weird, strange, scary or simple they may be.
   You would get so lost in the magic were it not for the storyline constructed on the sons lack of faith in his fathers 'exaggerated' stories. I think that works so well for the film because the minute you're about to lose yourself, you get snatched back to reality which keeps the moral of the story alive.

 You know it's sure to be a winner for the reason that John August has worked with Burton on so many of his films already.. 'Charlie and the Chocolate factory', 'Corpse Bride' and the widely anticipated 'Frankenweenie'. If a writer can understand the visions of the Director then you know their working collaboration will just work in bringing out the best of each other. Not only that but Big Fish was also a novel by Wallace, and I believe that sometimes the best ideas for movies come originally from books as you can picture the story in your imagination all the more.

This is a film that everyone has to watch. It's like a life lecture served with popcorn but unlike most lessons, this is one you are sure not to forget.

"Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

High Fidelity
Director: Stephen Frears
Written by: Nick Hornby and D.V.DeVincentis

High Fidelity is one of those films that should be in every one's top 10, and if it's not then stop reading. It's a modern love tale, focusing on what's important now..rather then to keep dwelling on past failed relationships. If you keep trying to figure out where everything went wrong then you might miss out on the big picture headed your way.
 I love this film because to simply put it, I love John Cusack. I think without his presence, then this film wouldn't have the same mellow yet quirky feel. He delivers the right amount of sarcasm with every memorable line yet is able to also bring enough sweetness to show that his whole witty persona is just his barrier to protect his heart. You may want to slap him at times or pour hot java on his head, but you instantly fall for his geeky-coolness and can't help to consider him your hero and root for him all the way through the film. His band of followers, the two guys who he works with, compliments his persona so well which I think catapults this film further. In most movies when you have the 'circle of Best Friends for Ever', you feel like it's so intense or Girly, but in this case you'll see that he finds them at the best of times to be so irritating and annoying that he would rather pull his eye lashes out one by one. The bonds between them are not cute but you wouldn't want them to be. They contrast just nicely, with the right amount of appreciation and eye rolling rolled into one. I think this adds to the movies meaning all the more, as it tries to highlight that while you may not want to deliver your love in bucket loads you can't not love at all. 
  The story itself is a fun indie comedy that keeps you amused for every second. You can relate to it no matter who you are because it looks at one of those topics that everyone will have gone through... only those with enough self-discipline and lack of heart will perhaps not agree. We all look back at failed relationships and wonder if it should have failed, was it me that made it failed.. should I Facebook message them and ask to meet up to see if we can correct this fail? To put it bluntly, we keep going back to certain people over and over again because we find ourselves locked too much in the past without focusing on the present and future.

  As this movies was originally a book by Hornby, the storyline just flows and you never feel like it's a stuck record on repeat. When the main character looks back at his top 10 failed loves, the shots and screen play is quick, direct and straight to the point..delivering a funny moment again and again. The editing allows you to tap into his complexity as a character because when faced with his reasoning for his actions you are able to be drawn into that specific emotion long enough to capture it. The Director, Frears, is also well known for creating some classic British movies such as 'The Queen' and 'Mrs. Henderson Presents', and as we know that the Brits are less prone to trashy American flicks, you can be sure that this is more British then HP Sauce as it has none of the calories that the American indie-rom coms can have. 

Since the movie is based in a record store as that is where our hero works, you can bet on some good mellow indie/alternative tunes to crop up every now and then... and you should probably expect some over-the-top, cringe worthy pop tunes once and again too. With the inclusion of Jack Black and a killer end credit song, you have a winner of a movie.

'"Open 'til Midnight"

Empire Records
Director: Allan Moyle
Written by: Carol Heikkinen

Empire Records, in my opinion is a truly awesome and epic movie, and one of the best films to come out of Moyle and Hikkinen combined.
It focuses on a group of teenagers who go about their personal lives whilst working in a record store. I think that it tries to tackle with the teenage movie market as it looks at that pivotal part in their lives when they are about to make that change into adulthood. However it's aura completely differs from movies such as 'American Pie' as it creates a more realistic surrounding.

When I'm bored which is rare but hey it happens, this film is perfect because although there is depth to the meaning, it isn't emotionally draining yet isn't lifeless generic garbage either. I find certain films that are just pointless and stupid to be a laugh but they can occasionally become rather irritating. On the other hand, serious dramas can leave you tired. Empire Records allows you to laugh and wish you could jet set back to the 90's but allows you to use your brain cells too. Each characters story can touch certain parts of ourselves. No matter how past High School you may be, you can still understand their aspirations and fears because their tales are not theatrical and full of un-necessary drama. It genuinely feels real like you could walk into that store and expect them to ring up your purchases and bid you a good day. 
  Another perk is that you're not only able to relate to the story lines, but also to the development of the characters. None of the personalities are exaggerated and purposely stereotyping a specific topic. The story combines problems such as teenage anxieties, suicide, drugs, sex, friendships, our own perception of stereotypes and the prospect of the future... but without jamming it down your throat. The editing allows it to flow even more as it keeps it at a good pace without jumping around too much. When you're in the store itself, the shots are quick and direct which enables you to feel the craziness and quirkiness all the more. However when you're faced with the slower more meaningful moments, the camera takes a long sigh and put's the car into neutral so you can take in everything around you.

This move itself is a wicked high-energy cult film that I could turn on at any time, any day, no matter what. It features a great 90's Punk soundtrack and really knows how to set the mood instantly. It doesn't take a while to get into or understand and doesn't involve any overly ambitious twists and plots. Just be sure to rock a pair of Doc Martens and a plaid shirt whilst watching.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

'Untitled' 1992. Zoe Leonard

I have to confess, I'm not a huge gallery fan. I love art and can really appreciate it, but since it is so subjective I find I'm only ever drawn to works that I can relate to and understand. 
   Whilst at the Tate Modern on Monday a few pieces stood out, but one in particular was that of Zoe Leonard. 

Leonard was born in New York City in 1961 and focuses on Photography, choosing to specifically take an interest into how society, the economy and cultures are ever drastically changing.

" I am interested in making a record of an urban landscape as a way of looking at who we are as a people, who we are a culture, understanding the city as a social space, an economic space"
"Untitled" captures a lonely and deserted woodland situated just in front of a promising yet intimidating hill. I find this photo interesting because I often find myself taking scenic pictures as there is something very calming and serene about Nature. The bare, leafless barks can speak to parts of us that we close off or keep to ourselves. They are parts of us that we rarely like to speak about but yet when you see something that has captured that emotion and emphasised it through a medium that is peaceful, you can find yourself possibly more at ease and more open then you would have thought. 
  I find that Leonard also successfully captured the feeling of being alone as there is no suggestion of any human interaction, yet if you were to place yourself inside the photo I believe you may not feel lost and instead might marvel at being so intimate with nature and its beauty. This is because the composition has been positioned to ensure that the Woodland is the main subject but you can still see the sky above and the hill so you don't feel so closed off and segregated from outside the trees. Perhaps with her inclusion of what seems like a Bee's nest, the metaphor of life is captured within a dead looking surrounding promising that the trees will blossom once Winter is over, filling the woodland with life once again.

The colours are a mixture of mono-tones, Black, White and Grey. The only predominant colour is that of the bleached white sky. I would have thought that perhaps the trees would have a slightly darker tint than its surroundings but perhaps that's where our main focus would lie on which may not be the intention of the artist.
I believe photography is a great way to get an insight into the artists thoughts and not only that, but to make you question your own ones too.