Throwback Review: “Her” & The Mechanics of Human Condition

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Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly in Her.

The emotional climax and the breaking point of Spike Jonze’s 2013 romantic science-fiction drama film Her, is a rather silent, smaller one: there are no fights, no raised voices, no unexpected car accidents. Its visual and audial qualities provide two very different realities: the former is muted in its similar world of addiction and isolation — maybe not even that different from our society, while the latter literally explodes in itself with emotional connection and sensuality. In what can only be described as the portrayal of the weirdest, yet still purest for some, form of human connection; the male protagonist Theodore Twombly, who is played by Joaquin Phoenix in a remarkable performance, sits on the stairs of the subway of the futuristic Los Angeles that the movie is set in, asking simple, yes-or-no type questions to the voice planted in his ears. On the other side of the picture is Samantha, a talking operating system with artificial intelligence voiced by Scarlett Johansson, answering slowly. Johansson’s signature tone is soothing, an invisible yet undeniable veil between what is designed and what is felt within the code-based existence of her character. Continue reading “Throwback Review: “Her” & The Mechanics of Human Condition”

Valentine’s Day Suggestions from the Much Ado Team!

Love it or hate it, the best thing about Valentine’s Day is always the movies. From arthouse drama to cheesy rom-coms to depressing tear-jerkers, we all have our favourite kinds of romance film. There’s a wide variety of faves even amongst the Much Ado team, so hopefully our recommendation list will give you a new idea or two this February 14th!

(500) Days of Summer

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Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer (2009). © Fox Searchlight Pictures

Why conform to watching a traditional romantic comedy this Valentine’s Day? Why submit to Hollywood’s saccharine nature and settle down with a formulaic feature when you could instead confront the heartache that comes with unrequited love and the realisation that no person is ever really what you imagine them to be? If you’re looking for a bit of realism in your romance, then 500 Days of Summer is the film for you. Its central theme can be summed up in one line delivered by a young Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, the younger sister of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s hopeless protagonist Tom, as she tells him that ‘just because some girl is into the same bizzaro crap as you, that doesn’t mean she’s your soulmate.’ Truer words were never spoken, indeed. There is no doubt that every one of us is at least somewhat guilty of convincing ourselves that someone is the one for us simply because they share a few of our interests. What 500 Days of Summer does is show just how problematic this kind of thinking is and how disastrous it can be for us in the long run, by having Tom break his own heart in attempting to believe that the titular Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the person he has made her out to be in his head. Summer may like the same music as Tom, she may enjoy the same kind of cinema as he does, but that doesn’t mean that the two are made for each other, or that they are even remotely compatible. Reality can never truly match our expectations, 500 Days of Summer reminds us, and people are not ours to mould into whatever we want them to be. It is the perfect antidote to the onslaught of Nicholas Spark’s adaptations that infiltrate cinemas around this time of year and shows us that love is, often, not what we believe it to be.

– Hannah Ryan

 

Continue reading “Valentine’s Day Suggestions from the Much Ado Team!”

The 15:17 to Paris: A Train-wreck of Epic Proportions (Some Pun Intended)

09fifteenseventeen2-master768Clint Eastwood is a filmmaker I greatly admired for a large part of my life. The fact that he could be so masterful both in front of and behind the camera was astounding to me. He cemented his legendary status as an actor in Sergio Leone’s ‘Man With No Name’ Trilogy of the 1960s, and did the same for his reputation behind the camera with films like Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Gran Torino under his belt. He was someone I greatly looked up to in my youth, mostly because of his incredibly intense and charismatic presence in all of his films.However, times have changed. Just like Eastwood himself, I’ve gotten a lot older, and the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been able to notice the crumbling foundation behind Clint Eastwood’s fast paced and slapdash methods of putting together films. This has resulted in everything he’s made after Gran Torino being either uninspired or just flat out bad.  Even though films like Hereafter, Jersey Boys and American Sniper were all very disappointing, they are nowhere as horrendously incompetent as The 15:17 to Paris.

Where do I even begin with this one? If you showed me this film with no prior knowledge of its existence, and then you told me that it was directed by Clint Eastwood, then I probably would’ve laughed in your face. This movie is an absolute mess from the start. The entire first thirty or so minutes of the movie take place when our main heroes are children, and this is without a doubt the worst directing Clint Eastwood has ever done. The camerawork is shoddy, the dialogue is horrendous and cliched, and the acting is on a whole other level of bad. Everything about this film is wrong, but if you were paying attention to the production details of it, you’d have seen this coming from a mile away.

Continue reading “The 15:17 to Paris: A Train-wreck of Epic Proportions (Some Pun Intended)”

Loveless Review: Andrey Zvyagintsev is the modern master of making Russia look depressing as hell

As much as we bicker with our parents, it’s safe to say that no child ever wants to feel like they’re not wanted. Unfortunately, poor little Alexey is the biggest loser of the parental lottery. His parents are going through a divorce so brutal, it makes you question why they even got married in the first place; they have both found new partners and it’s clear from observing their separate lives that their son doesn’t fit into the equation. One night they argue over who should take custody — neither of them wanting to carry what they consider a burden. A shot tracks the mother, Zhenya, as she leaves the bathroom and slams the living room door to reveal a devastated Alexey hiding behind it — his face projecting horror and overwhelming sadness. It is perhaps the most powerful shot in a film full of them. Any cliched metaphor can be applied — a stab in the heart, a punch in the gut — from there, I understood that this was going to be a rough ride, though I was never expecting it to be easy.

Continue reading “Loveless Review: Andrey Zvyagintsev is the modern master of making Russia look depressing as hell”

Much Ado About Cinema is looking for new writers!

As many of you will know, Much Ado has grown exponentially over the past couple of months, and we’re now seeking to make our output even greater and more diverse than ever before! To do this, we need more people on board – and that’s where you guys come in.

We are now opening applications to join our team of regular writers. Ultimately, we’re looking for people who are dedicated to the same goals as we are, people who truly adore all types of cinema, and people who will thrive in a close-knit, supportive group. You do not need to have a wealth of experience – though it’s great if you do – nor do you need a million qualifications. To join us, we only ask for dedication, raw talent, and a fairly stable internet connection.

In return, we can offer the chance to get your work out there to a rapidly expanding audience. We can also provide feedback from a group of experienced writers, and the opportunity to work within a team that cares about nurturing your skills as a journalist. The Much Ado team doesn’t really have a hierarchy – at the end of the day, we’re just a group of film nerds that help each other out. I’m proud to say that we’re a friendly bunch, and I hope that our future new team members will agree with this judgement!

We especially encourage people of colour, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, working class people, disabled people, ethnic minorities, and any other such oppressed group to apply. Though all applications will be considered on their own merit, we are particularly invested in providing a space for those voices that may be overlooked due to industry prejudice.

The application form can be found here. If you have any issues filling out the form, please contact muchadoaboutcinema@gmail.com. Applications will close on the 23rd February. Please note that this is an unpaid role – though we would love to pay our writers, the site is not monetised.

Good luck, and thank you so much for reading Much Ado!

 

 

The Dark, Wild, Feminist Liberation of “The Witch”

This essay is by our guest writer Cassidy Olsen. 

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© A24

The phrase “Satanic feminist art film” will get you laughed out most rooms that aren’t a liberal arts classroom or the Hot Topic in your hometown mall, so it should come as no surprise that A24 struggled to brand The Witch for audiences upon its wide release in 2016. Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Robert Eggers, The Witch is a horror movie by almost any standard, riddled with the genre’s usual tropes of supernatural possession, exorcism and things that go bump in the night, but it has little regard for audience expectations. By relying on period-appropriate language (“Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”) and opting for meditation in place of jump scares, The Witch left hardcore horror fans wanting and others asking, “What did I just watch?”

The answer? Well, a Satanic feminist art film.

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“Bright”, “Cloverfield Paradox” & The Changing Landscape of Movies

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A scene from the movie Bright. | Courtesy of Netflix.

On December 13, 2013, American singer Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth body of work, along with visuals dedicated to each song, was released in the early hours of the morning without any prior announcement or promotion, exclusively on the iTunes Store — in a move following the footsteps of David Bowie, who himself had launched his comeback single, Where Are We Now, without any prior warning during the January of the same year. “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” she commented on her unexpected business technique. “I am bored with that.” The album went on the sale 617,000 copies in the United States in its first three days of availability, becoming the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store up to that point.

More than four years later, popular American film director Ava DuVernay tweeted that, quote, “#FilmTwitter is going to explode tonight. Something is coming that I can hardly believe. Lawd. History in the making.” Just hours later, Netflix announced during the Super Bowl LII that it would be dropping the latest entry to the J. J. Abrams’ science-fiction horror series Cloverfield, titled “Cloverfield Paradox” immediately after the game.

DuVernay commented on that “something”, now revealed to be the movie, again after the announcement on her Twitter account: “No advance press, ads, trailer. Straight to the people. Gamechanger.”

Continue reading ““Bright”, “Cloverfield Paradox” & The Changing Landscape of Movies”