About jennylouise4

Freelance film journalist and currently working as a copywriter in Edinburgh.

Why ‘Big Little Lies’ Is The Most Incisive Television You’ll See All Year

Nobody’s lives are perfect. In a time of Instagram gloss and social media announcements, we feel more inferior than ever, but we’re missing the true reality. Big Little Lies, a seven-part HBO drama based on a Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel, presents us with that glossy contentment and breaks it down to unveil the secret traumas and hidden conflict below.

However, persuading people to see past that facade long enough to try the first episode is a little tricky. Prompted to give a rough summary, I’ve found it hard to go beyond the basic set-up of ‘wealthy mothers in central California’ before people are tempted to write it off as shallow fiction. This very setting seemed to lead to a lot of sniffy reviews of episode one from male critics, dismissing it as pulpy fiction, although the same can’t be said for female critics and viewers.

Produced by and starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in the roles of their careers (not a statement said lightly), it brings together a primarily female cast in a story that really gives light to female friendship and rivalries, as well as the complexities that prompt them to share, or to conceal, personal struggles.

Witherspoon plays Madeline Martha Mackenzie, whose character suits her perfect alliteration with a determined need to get the world the way she wants it. She’s a fearless opponent, sweet friend and often interfering confidant. As her husband Ed (Adam Scott) puts it, she has a tendency to adopt ‘broken people’ a3D7051CF00000578-4241068-Behind_the_smiles_Big_Little_Lies_debuted_on_Sunday_night_Nicole-a-38_1487578767469s friends, one of which is Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman).

Celeste is a mysterious character to the other mothers – almost impossibly beautiful, she’s married to the handsome Perry (Alexander Skarsgard). In public they raise eyebrows for their displays of affection, showing an outward blissfulness that frenemies find downright offensive. It’s all a mask – Perry is a severely abusive husband, and Celeste’s journey to facing that fact becomes the heart of the series.

Finally, the new addition to Madeline’s friends is Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley), a young single mother who has come to Monteray to escape her past. When her young son gets accused of hurting the daughter of Renata, a high-flying Silicon Valley executive (Laura Dern), soon Jane has to contend with a hostile neighbourhood and the re-emergence of a trauma she’s trying to forget.

It’s all artfully directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who recently made Dallas Buyers Club and the wonderful Wild, another book adaptation starring Witherspoon as the lead. He’s always had a skill for truly beautiful shots, as well as an excellent knowledge of music to make the soundtrack another character in whatever film he’s making. That he’s been brought into television is only a blessing, allowing us more time with his masterful direction. As the drama has escalated, recent episodes have become a near-constant source of tension, with shots speeding up and sharp edits leaving viewers on edge.

Above the artistic value, Big Little Lies has been exceptional for how it tackles issues in a way that isn’t glamourised or glossed over. Jane’s traumatic incident rightly shows the long term fears that it can instill, whilst the characters are constantly troubled by their ability to ‘mother well’. There’s no clear answer – Renata envies the stay-at-home mums for their freedom, whilst ex-employees such as Celeste long for the days when they had autonomy and power. All are terrified that like Jane, their child will be accused of something and suffer social exclusion.

In a pivotal scene this past week, Madeline came clean to her teenage daughter about mistakes in her past, recognising with a bare honesty that nobody is flawless. These woman live in the kind of houses most of us can only dream of, but that doesn’t change the human nature of the occupants, who are just as imperfect as the rest of us.

Of all the different character studies that Big Little Lies gives us, the most important is Celeste. Faced with a dangerous husband whose fits of rage escalate into moments of sexual passion, Celeste does what she can to appease him. As Emily Naussbaum of the New Yorker pointed out in a review,  ‘it’s hard not to suspect that Celeste is consenting, in part, so that she doesn’t have to admit that if she didn’t agree he wouldn’t stop.’

Despite some horribly judgemental reviews decrying Celeste, stating that someone should ‘shake her silly’ so she sees sense, Celeste’s response is real among those suffering from abuse. Peopl03-big-little-lies-therapy.w710.h473e who can’t empathise will find her frustrating, but the show and Kidman do an excellent job of showing the way that abuse survivors get used to adapting themselves, reminding themselves of all the good days and worrying over all the difficult ties they’d have to cut to leave. It’s not foolishness – it’s fear of judgement as seen in reality through that TV Fanatic review, and of being without a clear answer to turn to.

The scenes with the therapist are heartbreaking. In just a few scenes, we see Celeste without anywhere to turn, protecting her current home life in the fear that it’s all she has. The therapist sees through this, and tries to bring the reality home that without change, Celeste could lose her life. The violence is so unrestrained, so difficult to watch, that to viewers it feels like the escalation won’t ever stop. When the possibility of an escape is brought home to Celeste, it’s a difficult but tiny light in what had felt like a hopeless situation.

This is the portrayal of domestic abuse that needs to be seen on television. Newspapers may try to trivialise the scenes, but there’s nothing glamorous about the moments between Perry and Celeste. The genuine love that they still have for each other exists but it’s turned completely toxic by the way Perry deals with an uneven balance of power and insecurity.

Celeste’s response – of carrying on and hiding the evidence – shouldn’t be decried but recognised. Abuse survivors need people like the therapist in Big Little Lies to help them gain perspective of the situation and to find a way out, not to be judged for staying with someone. There is no clear answer for the multitude of complex abusive situations, but there can (and should) be advice and support.

Big Little Lies isn’t the ‘chick lit’ fiction that cynical critics attempted to reduce it to. Instead, it reminds us that even the lives that seem glossiest on the surface can share the difficulties, traumas and secrets that we see in our friends, relatives and acquaintances, whether that’s through worries around motherhood or an abusive relationship. It’s also a reminder that the response to pain can’t always be out of the pages of a blunt advice column – that no one’s response to their own situation is the same, and it never comes without a lot of inner conflict.

Big Little Lies should teach us about empathy, in a time period where we’re all too tempted to simply judge by exteriors. When it ends, viewers can expect more of the trademark honesty we’ve seen so far, as we say goodbye to some of the most intelligent, insightful and complex television in recent years.

My First Year As a Fully-Fledged Graduate (and the lessons I’ve learned)

This time last year, I was balancing freelance writing for multiple publications, a full-time post-graduate course, a couple of internships and the dreaded job search. Terrified of months without work, where my type-A personality could easily lose confidence in finding something, I ploughed through job applications, long train journeys to interviews and every devastating rejection call.

Then, in the middle of April, I clinched a copywriter role at a performance marketing agency in the centre of Edinburgh. In just two weeks, I uprooted my Glasgow life of 6 years and took up a room in a flatshare, glad of the new feeling of financial security but anxious about my now long-distance relationship and the potential loneliness of a new city.

Nearly 12 months has passed, and so much has changed. I flew through my last few weeks at university and then passed on my Masters dissertation to focus on my new job. Completely new to agency life and the foreign concept of SEO, I’m now far more knowledgeable and have taken on more responsibilities than I ever expected from the first career job. Mercifully too, my relationship survived the long-distance period and we now live together.

It’s not been easy though. After those crazy job search months last year, I somehow thought that once I got a role the stress would melt away. Instead, it continued, occasionally becoming so intense that I’d forget to breathe. My personal life has been fractious at times, and I’m constantly down on myself for not managing to keep up with my passion of film reviewing and writing as much as I’d like. A day away from my new website feels ridiculously like a badge of shame.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. I’m proud of my passionate nature, which still means that I really take things to heart and can make me excitable about silly things (Canadian dramas about horse ranches, for example). As I often try to tell my partner (but frequently fail to do so myself), it’s also important to recognise the big changes that can come in just a year, and to feel proud of them.

To combat those harder points in the coming year and to avoid old mistakes, I’ve created my own self care list. I must admit to feeling sceptical about some ‘self care’ instructions, but it’s still important to recognise where there are lessons to be learned and what you can try and fit into your daily routine. Mine runs as follows –

1. Learn to let the small things slide

I find far too much of my day is spent obsessing over minutiae, taking a toll on my perception of the situation and pushing me to make rash decisions that I later regret. What I’ve found inspirational this year is talking to or reading the writing of people who have learned to just take things as they come. This particular expletive-filled post reminded me that it’s important to spend your energies on the issues that really matter (not an easy feat).

2. Reduce extra-curricular work to 3 set days per week

This is a huge thing for me. After multi-tasking so much during my post-graduate university course, I was sure I could just continue once I got a job. That’s not been the case, and understandably the job is often demanding and takes precedence over other work, which means I feel guilty for not writing reviews or working on my website. To combat that, I’m setting aside 3 days a week where I’m allowed to work on those extra demands. The rest are for relaxing after long work days.

3. Take better care of my health

Since working in an office, I’ve become far less active. With recent stresses as well, I’m probably drinking more than I should, which never helps things. My task for the months ahead is to walk more, particularly in good weather, and to reduce drinking to nights out at the pub, avoiding those bottles of beer at home. I’m also going to book regular horse riding lessons, which should get me out in the open air a bit more.

4. Reach out to people for advice

Definitely not good enough at this one. Stupidly, my anxiety tells me that no one wants to hear my problems, which leads to me bottling them up and them getting worse. However, it’s good to get a perspective of a situation that isn’t directly involved, and I’ve learned in the last few weeks just how invaluable that can be.

5. Say ‘no’ a little bit more

Many of us would benefit from being a bit firmer with our time and commitments. Rather than saying ‘yes’ to everything, spreading myself too thinly and adding more stress to my days, I’m going to be stronger in moderating what I sign up to.

With this going out publicly, I’m planning to hold myself accountable to these tasks for the year ahead. Last year has been full of intense changes and trying new things, but it’s time to pare back on the snowball of stress and anxiety for the months ahead, if only to learn to enjoy the little moments.

 

 

 

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast (or ‘The monetary value of millenial nostalgia’)

It was with a lot of trepidation that this writer settled down to watch the recently Disney live action adaptation of yet another animated classic. In the end, the 2016 Beauty and the Beast was a tricky tale, displaying small flashes of strength whilst asking the question – is the trend for exploiting millennial nostalgia actually creating anything fantastic?

Many seem to think so. From Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella to the upcoming Power Rangers and Jumanji movies, nostalgia is relied on to be a big draw to the younger generation. Desperate to escape, us twenty-somethings are keen to relive our best childhood days and in the current climate, who can blame us? The problem is that this trend risks a death of creativity, since studios have very little reason to craft something genuinely original in the face of box office bucks (see also: superhero movies).

This Beauty and the Beast certainly deserves some flack for its inability to stretch. The majority of the dialogue is word-for-word, to the point where I found myself actually mouthing some in advance. In a ham-fisted attempt to pull it off, the writers change out the odd word, but it doesn’t convince, instead sounding odd to trained ears. My favourite appears in the song ‘Belle’, where Le Fou points out that the heroine is so ‘well-read’, instead of the original Gaston interruptions. It’s just unnatural dialogue for the character.

In that same vein, there are large scenes that are shot-for-shot from the original. Most striking in this adaptation was the addition of modern animation that creates a huge amount of the movie, including the surrounding scenery. It’s incredibly detailed but has been filmed in a frenetic fashion, giving the visuals an artificial look that will date badly in just a few years.

Compare that to the 1991 version, which 26 years on still looks as stunning, delicate and revolutionary in its hand-drawn visuals and iconic three-dimensional ballroom scene. It’s not even entirely new designs in this latest iteration either – director Bill Condon appears to have brought in identical wolf designs from his two Twilight movies (don’t think I didn’t spot that, Condon).

The issue of singing is a problem too, as we knew it would be. Emma Watson has been auto-tuned to a shrill neatness, whilst, as promised in press tours, Ewan McGregor does indeed have a very shaky French accent that completely eclipses his wonderful voice.

However, there are a few strengths. Dan Stevens has a surprisingly rich voice, makes an great impression through heavy CGI and finally becomes a very handsome prince. There’s slight bias from this writer though – the human Beast was a Disney hero crush growing up and Stevens looks pretty identical. The Beast has a new song written for him by Alan Menken too, which is surprisingly heartfelt and memorable, definitely in part to Stevens’ performance.

With a longer running time, there’s also a careful choice to give a larger voice to the plight of the characters trapped as household objects. It’s an interesting take, particularly towards the end, although it’s purely a luxurious option due to the spare minutes and A-list ensemble cast – after all, no one was really asking for it.

As is to be expected, Menken’s music is the top highlight. Having composed the music for the 1991 version, his iconic songs still resonate through diminished performances.  That said, is it not a bad sign that the biggest strength of the movie was music that’s already been performed to perfection nearly two decades ago? I’m also sad that the catchiest/most annoying deleted Disney song, ‘Human Again’, didn’t get a chance to haunt audiences’ brains in this one either.

I prefer to stick to my current line of thought – that equally keen to find a youthful escape, I would rather watch something original like the wonderful Moana for lighthearted joy, than I would see a classic rehashed. Having said that, built with our capacity for happy nostalgia, it’s easy to understand why people enjoy these live action remakes. Stubbornly, I’d personally just rather watch the originals for the millionth time to get that nostalgic feeling.

My Top 10 Films of 2016

It’s been quite a year in film, with blockbusters competing for space with terrifying ferocity. There’s still quite a few films to come in the last month of the year as the Oscar race heats up (and beyond- can’t wait for La La Land!), so whilst some may have made it here, for now here’s what I’ve enjoyed most over the last year. It’s highly unlikely you’ll agree with all/any of my choices, but this is a very personal list – I make no apologies.

It’s worth stating before the list that in the rush of completing a degree, moving cities and starting a new job, there were a few films that I regret missing and still need to see. In particular, those titles are: I, Daniel Blake, American Honey, Love & Friendship, Eddie The Eagle and Genius. Promise I’ll get to them. Anyway…

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Click on the movie screencaps to watch the trailers!

10. Kung Fu Panda 3

Yep, it’s a controversial choice for the first one, but like my undying belief in Shia LaBeouf as an actor and my complete adoration for the Mission Impossible movies, the Kung Fu Panda series charms my socks off. Although the characters stay the same, the lessons it teaches kids (and adults), the new plot ideas influenced by classic stories and the breathtaking animation all combine to make a treat. This sequel lost none of that. Sure, when the next one comes out, you’ll be surrounded by families, but otherwise what you’ll miss is some true movie magic.

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9. 10 Cloverfield Lane

This was definitely a surprising one for me. I went along to see the film on the back of some unexpected positive reviews – after all, the original Cloverfield hadn’t really been anything special. However, what I got was a great mix of horror and psychological thriller, that only slightly dropped the ball at the end. I’m not sure I even caught my breath for 90 minutes. Can you blame me? My first experience of John Goodman was as Fred Flintstone in that terrible live action movie. Now I no longer see him as cuddly.

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8. Swiss Army Man

With my eternal obsession with geniunely-nicest-actor-on-earth Daniel Radcliffe and my more recent obsession with the adorable Paul Dano, I knew I wanted to see this one when it first hit the film festival scene. Combine that with the fact that one of the main actors plays a flatulent corpse and I didn’t know what to think. What I got was a strangely sweet, bizarre and reflective film on life and loneliness, with a great acapella score created almost entirely by Dano and Radcliffe. And you know, a few fart jokes. Also, in one of my favourite trivia finds of the year, Dano said that he took on the film instantly after one of the directors described the plot as ‘the first fart makes you laugh and the last fart makes you cry.’ That’s about right.

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7. Arrival

You’ll notice as the list goes on that I tend to focus on films from the last three months or so. That’s because the summer really sucked unless you wanted to watch mediocre superhero blockbusters, and so when the autumn rolled around, almost everything felt like a breath of fresh air. Arrival was one of those, a fantastic science fiction that deserved the hype. I also loved that instead of the formulas and calculations that often take centre stage in sci-fi, this film focused instead on the beauty of language and communication.

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6. Nocturnal Animals

Whenever someone mentions this film to me, or asks what I thought of it, my answer is always the same – ‘Well, I wept at this film more than I have at a film in two years, and it shook me to the point of an emotional meltdown. I’ll be traumatised for a long time… It was amazing though!’ Funnily enough they never seem very convinced by my last assertion. Yet it was a stunning film, reaching emotional pains and creating something that is both stylish and hideously brutal. I can’t really say much more, you just have to watch it.

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5. The Light Between Oceans – full review

Period dramas are taking over my life currently so this became essential viewing. It was stunningly beautiful though, presenting a painful dilemma with empathy for both sides. Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender really did excel themselves in portraying the central couple and everything was sufficiently epic in visuals. Also, Alexandre Desplat did the score, which is an instant benefit.

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4. Bridget Jones’ Baby

I fully expected this film to be terrible, having read all the books and loved the previous movies for years and years. In fact, the original Bridget Jones’ Diary had an appearance in my undergrad dissertation and it has been a sad day cheer-up essential. Shockingly however, Bridget Jones’ Baby was amazing, a definite treat for established fans of the series and side-splittingly funny. Renee Zellweger was as adorable as she’s always been and Colin was Colin (which is to say, perfect).

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3. A Bigger Splash – full review

It’s all indie films from hereon, and A Bigger Splash is a tense one, capable of wrapping you up into a beautiful world that is poisoned from the inside. Masterfully shot, it has a top set of actors who are perfectly cast for each of their roles. Tilda Swinton once again proves just how good she can be, even if you remove 99% of her lines, by playing a mute rockstar whilst Ralph Fiennes taps into his more comedic side with a man who still bristles with seething rage under a mask of bravado. Matthias Schoenaerts also utilises his power as an actor where understatement becomes a strength, and they all set each other off in a way that captivating to witness.

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2. Captain Fantastic

The only good movie this year to start with the title of ‘Captain’, I loved this one, not least because it handled a complex central situation in a way that was fair to all involved. Viggo Mortenson plays a father who has brought up his children in an unconventional fashion and when faced with the outside world, the extent of that upbringing causes questions and conflict. However, it’s all handled carefully and in the end, I left feeling moved. I also cried twice but I am a crier sometimes.

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1. Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Empire got to this one first in naming it as number one, but this was always going to be my choice. It’s my perfect film – touching and inventive with a dry sense of Kiwi humour. Taiki Waititi has been on my watch list since he made my favourite of 2014, What We Do In The Shadows, and he’s continuing a fantastic streak. This one is much more along the lines of Boy, a heartfelt earlier film that retains that imaginative approach, and if you like Wilderpeople, go watch that immediately.

In this movie though, Julian Dennison and Sam Neill trade great lines and Dennison is a complete star. Everything is timed to perfection and I honestly loved every second, although particular highlights include an early hunting scene with the adorable Bella and a strange vicar. Cinemas showed the movie for barely any time, which was criminal, but I intend to start fixing that by buying this movie for everyone on my Christmas list. I’m doing it an injustice really – just know that it’s the best. Go watch it.

When did we forget the purpose of film criticism?

There’s been a distinct change in recent years in the attitude towards film reviews throughout the internet. It’s something approaching toxic, stifling the idea that reviews can hold a unique opinion and instead holding them to an invisible choice between ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

Take for example, Empire magazine’s recent reviews. On of their staff writers, Dan Jolin, gave the recent Independence Day sequel a controversial 4 stars. I say controversial – it really shouldn’t have been- but it’s indignantly mentioned in the comments as a comparison on almost every review since.

The idea that Empire could praise what was commonly regarded across Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and the majority of critics as a bad film was instantly named as wrong. Some stated that they wouldn’t take any reviews by the magazine seriously, whilst others named potential financial motives as being the reason behind the positive rating.

What these people are forgetting is that a film review is an individual opinion. The conspiracy that Empire magazine is run as a single entity that breathes one opinion is entirely untrue- instead, it gives voice to great writers who can offer their own perspective on the latest screen releases. These reviews don’t have to echo the general opinion that the internet feels entitled to hold.

Lets look at the situation from a different angle. Everyone has their guilty pleasures – I for one, will defend a multitude of bad movies to the death, including Princess Diaries 2. Many hold the opinion that it’s a poor film, and perhaps objectively from a screenwriter’s perspective, it is. That doesn’t make me a bad critic.

So while it’s easy to laugh sarcastically and instantly dismiss the movie, if I were to review the film, my job would be to show you why I enjoy it. It would touch upon my favourite aspects, from the tiny, multi-faceted background characters that Garry Marshall peppers his films with, to the scene of screen legend Julie Andrews singing for the first time since the surgery that almost took away her voice.

That is the main goal of film criticism, to listen to a different perspective explain the quirks and features of a film. It doesn’t necessarily have to agree with the ‘common consensus’, it just needs to convince you why the writer feels the way they do, whether they enjoyed it or didn’t, and ideally in an entertaining way.

This very fact is the reason why the best film reviewers of the last few decades have had their own distinctive voice and character, from Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael to Mark Kermode. Every film reviewer needs to be proud in their opinion, know where it came from and occasionally be willing to revisit it as their own personal outlooks change. After all, film reviewing is so personal- often the watching experience will be affected by the person’s own life experiences and views.

It’s a pity then, to see people on the internet vociferously criticise magazines and reviewers for holding a view that they don’t think matches public opinion. Empire isn’t just a single entity but gives voices a place, and this applies to single film critics with their own site too. Their opinion should always be an honest one, since they shouldn’t be catering to the views of readers.

Where has this attitude come from then? My theory is the prevalence of film reviews on social media, where the ratings and opinions that shout the loudest come to be seen as the unwritten judgement on which all other reviews should be judged. There are so many opinions out there but instead of promoting a host of differing views and well written perspectives, people band together to find like-minded shouters. The worst of this is that it’s not even promoting open-minded discussions that reviews should, just back-slapping affirmation.

If I sounds grouchy, then I am. I’m tired of seeing unique opinions being shut down by the mob. If this continues, it’s going to kill film reviews and risk turning the entire industry into a crowd of parroting voices. That’s not what it’s about. Film critics, embrace your opinions. They’re not controversial and there needn’t be such a thing as a ‘general consensus’. Find your voice and be proud in your writing – we need your untarnished views.

Why I’m boycotting superhero movies

Let me first start by saying this- I have nothing against those who enjoy the lengthy offerings by those current titans of cinema, Marvel and DC. A devoted geek of a fair few fandoms, I understand the passion that can come with complex backgrounds, memorable characters and an extensive mythology, particularly if you have a love of the original texts.

As someone with limited experience of the comics that inspire them however, I’ve become tired of the wafer thin offerings that take up a formidable 165 minutes at the cinema, accompanied by advertising that screams and the lazy performances of Hollywood elite getting the money for their latest holiday home.

It sounds harsh, I know. I’m not a complete movie snob. Some of my favourite blockbusters have included the Mission Impossible movies- unpretentious as they are, they know they’re ridiculous and they’re a snappy, fun experience. Not only that, but no one can accuse Tom Cruise of ever phoning it in, no matter how odd the guy seems outside of his work.

I think I cracked at the second Avengers movie. The film finished after what felt like hours and five minutes later I couldn’t have told you the plot. It didn’t seem to matter. Complex or not, it followed the same pattern of fight scenes intermingled with a growing cast whose names had started to escape me. What powers they had didn’t even really matter as they all became lost in increasingly ridiculous set pieces which lacked any tension.

Avengers Premiere.jpgIt’s not like the main guys were in any danger from a screen death either- Hollywood Reporter had already broken the news that Iron Man was signed on for four more years. Chris Evans looked good enough in spandex to survive at least three more movies. Jeremy Renner didn’t have much else to do really but apparently his character was fascinating enough to warrant an extended contract. Marvel had rolled out the titles of upcoming movies, spoilers in themselves, instantly ruining every kind of Game of Thrones-esque surprise (RIP Ned) that you could expect.

Without going to far into it, the issue of women also bothered me. Black Widow is still to get her own movie, despite hints in the Avengers films about an interesting background, and until Scarlet Witch came along (two women out of about ten, what luxury!), Widow had been largely on her own apart from the ones used as set-dressing for pretty kiss scenes. DC isn’t exempt either. Wonder Woman has taken an embarrassingly long time whilst the studios have lobbed money in Zach Snyder’s general direction for more critically-panned, male-centric adaptations.

We’re signed up for years more of this too. Justice League, Suicide Squad, two more Avengers films and god knows how many more films attributed to individual characters. Don’t forget though, you’ll probably still get a significant chunk of the overall cast turning up anyway- anything to persuade people there’s complex team dynamics and not just a bunch of overpaid actors paying for spousal support.

avengers 2 destructionKnowing that every film is to finish with a big set piece of increasing size doesn’t fill me with excitement, but with resignation. I see the budget spent on those set pieces and I wish that money had been spent on original projects that offer a new perspective. In the age of endless sequels, something new has never been more precious.

The issue of ‘choosing the greater good’ has been explored now by these films too, many times over. It’s a superhero cliche and it’s been forever relevant. That doesn’t mean you should rely on it as a plot device though. The decade we live in throws up new issues every day, big, small and Trump-sized, so there’s no excuse for not being inventive.

One other real problem with these studios is just how manufactured they are. I once had a director from a European country complain to me that making an American movie was a hellish experience, every idea and vision of his film stampeded over by the producers wielding the cash.  That wasn’t for a superhero film but from what I’ve managed to glean, Marvel and DC are among the worst. No wonder Edgar Wright bailed. A director using their own distinctive touch seems to be a struggle for these movies, ironically enough for adaptations of comics which exemplify creativity.

jessica jonesMy superhero boycott is movie-only, however. I really loved Jessica Jones- not only did it have some imperfect, realistic female characters in a fair ratio but it didn’t rely on dramatic fight pieces. The episodic structure of the TV show meant a break from the traditional formula whilst the fight was against Jessica’s own traumatic memories, and the terrifying presence of a man who had violated her physically, emotionally and mentally. It was dark, it handled issues more prescient than the classic ‘greater good’ dilemma and it made me think more than any of the Marvel movies had managed. I can’t wait for the next series.

For movies however, I’m done. I refuse to contribute money so Robert Downey Jnr can fill his coffers by playing himself and I’m sick of seeing distinctive directors hired only to create something that reeks of a producer’s cut. My choice at the cinema may be more limited now but at least I’m guaranteed variety. I might even read the comics with all this extra time.

Just don’t make me watch more films with spandex.

New content upcoming…

I have several ideas for actually not-terrible blog posts so I’m back here. Again.

 

It won’t be instant- in the almost 4 months (oh dear) since I updated this, I’ve finished university and started a full time job in Edinburgh. I’m enjoying the new challenges the role is giving me and outside of work, can’t wait to see what opportunities I’ll have in film journalism in a new city.

First up- Edinburgh Film Festival next month where I’m hoping to cover the opening and closing premieres and maybe catch some screenings. I’ve also started writing for a new site (The People’s Movies) so film reviews should stay nice and constant in the next wee while. Not to mention the aforementioned posts for this poor, neglected blog.

Part of the problem is that I have too many ideas and too little time. This blog stands as pretty good evidence of that! My June resolution- January is a bit far to wait- is that I’ll actually keep track of every little idea so that it doesn’t become a distant memory for a few months. We’ll see how that goes.

So…

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I really will.

 

So….

The end of an incredibly busy month and another neglected blog!

I had good intentions, I really did. Things have been crazy – I’ve been keeping up with my online internship, doing work experience at The Times, volunteering, writing for The Fan Carpet and Wonderlust and getting into another intensive term of my Masters.

My course has now moved onto its production segment, which involves the class setting up its own online publication. I’ve been appointed Culture Editor for the magazine and with our launch approaching next week, all hands are on deck.

I’ve also been working through job applications and assessments to varying results. We’ll have to see what happens with them.

As for this blog, I’m not sure where to go. Sitting in class the other day, I suddenly thought how much of a laugh it would be (for me) to re-watch Sex and the City episodes and blog along with them. It would be fun considering how old-fashioned it is now with the modern introduction of dating via technology.

I doubt anyone would be interested but it’d be a fun little exercise to do on the side. Unfortunately time is incredibly stretched for me at the moment, but I’ll keep the idea in mind.

Until then…

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It’s Christmas now!!!

Internship work, volunteer work, freelance work and university work are all done for the next few days. I can finally relax and enjoy the holidays and I’m very excited and confused by my new found freedom.

To celebrate, I’m settling down with the period adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, although without the preferred Quality Street chocolates. Tesco had been completely cleaned out, which I probably should have expected on Christmas Eve Eve.

Note to self: do NOT leave chocolate tin buying until late next time.

Anyway, in regards to this evening (it’s not exactly correct but it’s pretty close to my perfect situation right now)-