Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ripper Street Finale Review: “What Use Our Work”

The outstanding first series of BBC’s new crime drama Ripper Street sadly had to come to an end last Sunday. In this season’s send off H Division did not just have one task placed on the table in front of them: ruling Jackson out as a Ripper suspect, making an investigation into another and finding out whether or not that man held Reid’s missing daughter captive were the obstacles placed in front of our Victorian crime fights this week. Did “What Use Our Work” top the sterling series off or did it add to the disappointment of last week’s showing?

Spoilers Throughout

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Writers Richard Warlow & Toby Finlay clearly set aside droves of time to type up “What Use Our Work’s” screenplay; the plot had a plethora of enthralling action and riveting twists that kept me guessing and in awe right until the last. The pinnacle of the finale’s story was Inspector Reid’s unrelenting determination to find and reclaim the daughter he tragically lost on the sinking ship incident; that same sub-plot brought with it the most disquieting moment in the entire series. The sinking expression on Reid’s face when he recognized the small girl held captive was not his daughter caused misery beyond measure. Miraculously Matthew MacFadyen managed to remain 100% convincing in the act of portraying such an extreme sadness; MacFadyen is undoubtedly destined for a greater career having performed so brilliantly in both Ripper Street and “Anna Karenina.”

Sergent Drake’s prominent parts in the more recent episodes continued in “What Use Our Work” and rightfully so, Drake’s average-man’s background makes his strength and depths of intriguing characteristics worlds broader than most of the series other characters – I’m not saying their bad by any means, Drake’s character is just exceptionally fantastic.  Drake’s character ultimately gained a sense of progress in the finale as his affections for the mistress Rose were returned tenfold following his second rescue of her from the hands of a victim drugging psycho-maniac, a rescue which unfortunately felt a tad stale because it heavily mimicked the ingenuity seen in the first episode.  “What Use Our Work” wisely left some big questions unanswered that have me aching for the second series: Will anything come of Reid’s disloyalty to his wife? Is Jackson’s place at H Division secure? and most importantly what will our protagonists come up against in series 2 ? Personally I’m hoping for the Ripper case to have more time in the limelight in season 2 despite some viewers saying they lost interest in the case.

No huge progression came from the technical crew from what can be seen in the series final installment but such progression honestly isn’t desperately needed. Both the editing and sound teams are performing well creating tension or sadness where necessary, however there is one particular track that I’ve noticed being repeatedly played at almost every hugely significant dramatic moment in the series, whether due to a lack of resources or sheer laziness I can’t determine. Lead cinematographer P.J.Dillon is making some very noticeable improvements in his work, in last nights episode there were a few cracking shots in there that captured the moods of any given scene with spot on precision (the best of which can be seen below.)

Rstreet-cinematography

Final Thoughts: Ripper Street came almost out of nowhere and took me by complete surprise early this year, after a magnificent finale it is safe to say Ripper Street is now a contender with the best. Granted it is no Sherlock, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad but nevertheless Ripper Street is an embodiment for many of British televisions greatest assets that immaculately depicts no-forensics Victorian crime stopping. Here’s hoping next season will bring much of the same when it airs around the same time next year. Feel free to leave any thoughts in the comment section below!

Series Grade: B+

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85th Academy Awards: Argo wins “Best Picture”, Ang Lee Upsets Spielberg

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Last night marked the 85th anniversary of the legendary awards ceremony, the Academy Awards. Seth Macfarlane played host of the prestigious event and delivered on his promise of making the event fun for us viewers. Singer Adele also made an astonishing premier live performance of her master piece “Skyfall” which won in the “Best Original Song” category as we all expected. Life of Pi had a brilliant night winning a total of 4 of the 23 up for grabs including “Best Director won” by Ang Lee upsetting expected winner Spielberg. Meanwhile Argo rightfully won the award for “Best Picture” and Brave pipped Wreck-it Ralph winning the “Best Animated Feature” prize.  The full list of tonight’s winners can be found below:

85TH ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS

BEST PICTURE

Argo

BEST DIRECTOR

Ang Lee – “Life of Pi”

BEST ACTOR

Daniel Day Lewis – “Lincoln”

BEST ACTRESS

Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christoph Waltz – “Django Unchained”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway – “Les Misérables”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Quentin Tarantino – “Django Unchained”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Chris Terrio – “Argo”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Brave

BEST FOREIGN FEATURE

Amour

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Claudio Miranda – “Life of Pi”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Jacqueline Durran – “Anna Karenina”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Searching For Sugar Man

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Inocente

BEST FILM EDITING

William Goldenberg – “Argo”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Mychael Danna – “Life of Pi”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Adele – “Skyfall”

BEST MAKE-UP

Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell – “Les Misérables”

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Paperman

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM

Curfew

BEST SOUND EDITING

Paul Hallberg, Karen Baker Landers & Paul Ottoson“Skyfall” & “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST SOUND MIXING

Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson & Sam Hayes – “Les Misérables”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boe & Donald R. Elliott – “Life of Pi”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Rick Carter & Jim Erickson – “Lincoln”

Ang Lee’s victory over Spielberg and joint winners in the sound editing category were two of the biggest surprises to come from this years Oscars for me; I’m also ecstatic about “Paperman” winning in the animated short category and J Law picking up the “Best Actress” award. If you have any thoughts to give on winners and the overall ceremony, please leave them in comment section below!

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Review: Academy Nominated Animated Short “Paperman”

Wreck-it Ralph saw its belated release over here in the United Kingdom just a few weeks back, yesterday I found the time to go check it out and in my opinion calling it over hyped would be a severe understatement. In spite of this I almost felt the eight pounds spent to see Wreck-it was nearly worth it when the Disney animated short “Paperman” was showcased in the prescreening. Although many of the more confused members of the audience around me greeted the short with a ‘what the fuck, did I just spend eight quid to go see that?’ Paperman was honestly the highlight of my evening.

Paperman

Paperman followed a day in the life of your average young officer worker (seen above) where-in before boarding a train he knocks into a young a lady with of a seemingly similar age to him. This introductory scene of the shorts two protagonists had quite an uncanny sort of charm to it, and the very satisfying Disney esque variety of humor that brings a smile to your face rather than having you roaring with laughter. The male protagonists major scene in the filing office was another quite hilarious scene that added a bit of mild drama into the mix; the boss and employees unsympathetic and disdainful hostilities toward the protagonist who was merely trying to catch the women’s attention ended up pushing him to just bolt out of the door after her, an action which I thought carried with it a hidden moral to the story.

The crisp black and white effect and meticulously refined details in the character animation made for some utterly fantastic visuals, I’m anticipating and hopeful Disney will try their hand at more black and white animations in the future due to Paperman’s current acclaim. The intricacies that went into all the characters facial detailing and expressions granted the characters a way of speaking that wasn’t verbal yet still had the same level of impact that verbal communication does, an essential element of any silent film that Disney nailed flawlessly. The backing track, Christophe Beck – “Paperman” fitted the mood of the short film wonderfully and contributed the most emotion to the action on screen without a shadow of a doubt.

Final Thoughts: Paperman was a incandescent showcase of Disney animators at the absolute top of their game with a charming story woven into those stunning visuals, unfortunately the short film is hard to access for free but a digital download copy can be purchased for two pounds from the Disney site. I recommend giving it a go even if you’re skeptical of animated shorts. Seen Paperman? leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Grade: C+

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Best Picture Nominee Review: Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell’s RomCom/Dramedy  “Silver Linings Playbook” (based on the novel by Matthew Quick) starring both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in leading roles will be the first of this years ‘Best Picture’ nominees to be put under the microscope before the grand ceremony in five days time. I went into Silver Linings Playbook skeptical of it perhaps being way over hyped , but nevertheless I resolved to go in open minded and I was entirely  rewarded for it.

Warning: Spoilers Throughout

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Silver Linings Playbook is one of those novel adapted movies that has a plot so meticulously pieced together that at the end you have a hankering to read the book. Pat’s character for one was fantastic – a perfectly combined blend of an effortlessly loveable yet at times frustrating person with a hilariously temperamental attitude towards books – in fact the funniest moment in the film had to be Pat throwing a copy of A Farewell to Arms out his parents window after his frustration with the depressing ending. Tiffanie’s character was much the same, aside from her disregard for books, which worked as an interesting contrast amidst plenty of their similarities. The outcome of Pat and Tiffanie’s relationship remarkably never looked crystal clear for a good ninety percent of the film; predictability is a common curse of the RomCom genre so managing to avoid it showed a masterful ability of storytelling from screenwriters David O. Russell and Matthew Quick.  Additionally Silver Linings uncommon representations were a breath of fresh air into a genre crammed with stale ideas and cliches. It isn’t often a RomCom will brave having major representations of mental health in fear of offending people, but Silver Linings is not shy to delve into the issue while also doing so respectfully and accurately, tactfully using it for great laughs when necessary.

What both surprised and impressed me the most about Silver Linings Playbook’s story is that at times it made me feel genuinely quite angry, but in a good way. For instance when the bus of Indian Philadelphia Eagles supporters arrives at the ground only for them to be set upon by white supremacists who support the same team they do I got really riled up about it much like Pat does, which in a sense is a true testament to how easily Silver Linings can provoke your feelings and empathy for its story and characters.

From a technical stand point Silver Linings doesn’t offer up anything completely startling but the job is still done well. I never expected Silver Linings too have ballsy special effects because they would have been entirely unnecessary, critiquing the movie on those merits would be redundant; the cinematography on the other hand did have room for improvement. That doesn’t mean to say there weren’t any decent shots, there were definitely some almost spectacular shots in the fray (some of which can be seen in the trailer below) its just that there wasn’t enough. I do appreciate mind that too many inventive shots would have been distracting, at least that issue was avoided. Complaints aside angles, lightning and shots were always appropriate for the action and settings on screen which stopped any breaking of immersion. Silver Linings editing was much the improvent, so much so that the movie has already picked up an award for its editing efforts at the Satellite Awards ceremony. Jay Cassidy and the rest of the editing team managed the shot pacing, cutting and continuity seamlessly while simultaneously tapping into their creativity and making it come alive on screen perfectly.

Final thoughts: Silver Linings Playbook brings oh so much to the table, including a revitalizing plot compared to most films in its genre with well developed and vivid characters played by incredibly strong actors who bring the movie into a league of its own. Silver Linings Playbook is a must see film , in my opinion anyone and everyone no matter who they are could take some sort of enjoyment from the flick. If you have any thoughts on Silver Linings Playbook you want to share feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Grade: A-

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Ripper Street: A Man of My Company

“A Man of My Company” marked the penultimate chapter of Ripper Street’s first season which has so far been nothing short of sublime. In this weeks installment H Division were tasked with discovering the culprit behind the murder of an engineer working on new technologies for a famed shipping company having more than a little trouble with the competition. Corruption, intrigue and Pinkerton’s take center stage whilst Jackson and Susan’s past becomes all the less foggy.  How did “A Man of My Company” stand up to its predecessors?

Warning: Spoilers Throughout

Rstreet-Selmy

“A Man of My Company” was a pretty decent installment, but unfortunately at only one point it struck me as being particularly special; the plot was seemingly aimed at setting the stage for the season finale coming next week with honestly little in the way of grand moments in its own right. Judging by the teaser for next weeks episode Jackson and Susan’s story is far from over, but from the glimpse I had of the couples tale last night I’m left with a bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth. The whole ‘lover steals powerful figures daughter’ back story was a cliche anti-climax to say the least, but having said that I am quite optimistic to watch how the Jackson being framed as the infamous Jack the Ripper subplot will unfold next week. All remains silent on Reid’s affections for Deborah this week with only a brief, awkward exchange between the two at the shelter. It shall be interesting to see how their relationship develops although I’m not totally convinced this will happen before season two unless their is tragedy is a foot.

“A Man of My Company’s” plot highlight was the startling and cold blooded killing of young constable Hobbs that manage to rile me up just as much as it did the H division. Near death escapes for protagonists in previous episodes had me seriously doubting that writers Richard Farlow and Toby Finlay had the strength in them to kill off characters to better the intensity of the viewing experience. It is safe to say those doubts are now well behind me leaving me incredibly anxious as to whether Reid, Drake or Jackson may kick the bucket next week.

Performances overall were on par with the high quality we’ve seen in previous episodes. Jerome Flynn made Drake’s adamant want to rid himself of Rose who had become a burden to him both convincing and more importantly a heartfelt experience. Much less convincing and impressive on the other hand was the acting from Edoardo Ballerini who played Jackson’s rival Frank Goodnight, the American Pinkerton. Edoardo could nail facial expressions perfectly fine there is no doubt about it but his seemingly forced American accent had me cringing uncontrollably to the point where it seriously detracted the immersion from his scenes, I only wish he spent more time on it.

Final Thoughts: “A Man of My Company” wasn’t a complete disappointment, in fact some elements of it were superb, but it wasn’t exactly to the standards I now expect from the series so I’m not wholly content. In spite of this I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation for the season finale next sunday that was given ample build up in “A Man of My Company”. Have any thoughts on this weeks episode or predictions for the finale “What Use Our Work” ? Leave them in the comment section below!

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Silver Linings Playbook: 30 Minute Featurette

BCooperJLaw

The ‘Making of’ featurette for David O. Russell’s Box office hit “Silver Linings Playbook”, based on the novel by Matthew Quick, has been released with just under thirty minutes of insightful and absorbing footage that is without a question a must watch for any of you aspiring film makers or Silver Linings Fans out there. Personally I am a massive fan of Silver Linings Playbook and I’m holding out for the flick to win at least four of the 8 Academy Awards it has been nominated for including the prestigious Best Picture award. Lead actor Bradley Cooper and actress Jennifer Lawrence are also up for nominations in their respective categories whilst  Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver are up for Supporting actor/actress awards. Having literally just seen the film I have to say that if you haven’t already watched it you need to drop whatever shit you’re doing to do so because, without going into too much detail, Silver Linings is easily the greatest RomCom drama released in the last 5 years. The featurette is embedded below and for anyone interested here is the imdb plot summary , as always leave any thoughts in the comments below!

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Oscars Hype: Four Categories That Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

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Only eleven days remain before the biggest award ceremony of the year and the most important marketing/career opportunity for the films and creators lucky enough to have been nominated for some of this years academy awards.  I don’t doubt that this years Oscars will be entertaining but, at least on paper, a lot of the categories seem to have very little contention between the nominees, such as the award for Best Actor which I for one refuse to believe will go to anyone but Daniel Day-Lewis. Despite this I would still argue there are at least four categories that will provide the competition needed to make this years Oscars well worth a watch. Here are the categories I feel have outcomes that are truly up in the air.

Actress In a Leading Role

This one is a three horse race and it is going to be a mighty close one to say the least. The big contenders in my mind are: Jessica Chastain for her outstanding performance in Zero Dark Thirty which has already helped her pick up a Golden Globe award, Jennifer Lawrence is another fierce rival for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook which has so far brought her fortune at the Golden Globes where she won the award for best actress in a comedy/musical and at the Screen Actors Guild awards where she won the Outstanding Female Performance award. Then there’s the French underdog Emmanuelle Riva; just a few days ago Riva picked up the prestigious BAFTA award in the same category, which startled me to be frankly honest considering that the aforementioned actresses were part of her competition. Will she shock us for a second time at the academy awards?

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Costume Design Award

Period drama and fantasy’s almost exclusive award category will definitely have presented a challenge for the academies voters this year with all five films in the category featuring striking, authentic and elaborate costumes for almost everyone on screen. Late 19th century Russian nobility flick “Anna Karenina” is the leading favourite for most with designer Jacqueline Durran having already received two awards, including a BAFTA, for her efforts at the drawing board. I’m also placing my bets on Anna Karenina but that doesn’t mean to say Les Mis, Lincoln and particularly Snow White and The Huntsman don’t stand a decent chance of taking the prize. The sheer detail that went into the armor of combatants in Snow White was astounding even if it has gone unnoticed so far at the award ceremonies; Lincoln and Les Mis both demonstrate how to use costume to effectively immerse an audience, even if they don’t have the same degree of frivolity that Snow White and Anna Karenina produced. There is a good chance voters will have picked up on this and may reward one of the two films for their cunning practicality.

Akarenina costume shot

Music – Original Score

In the Original Song category there is absolutely no doubt that Adele’s “Skyfall” is going to win, however the category for best original score leaves far more options open to explore. Skyfall is of course one of the five contenders and although the “Skyfall” song by Adele is flawless (to the point where I ignored my usual distaste for Adele’s work) I don’t feel Skyfalls’  overall soundtrack carries its weight in comparison. On the other hand Anna Karenina and Life of Pi both have well rounded and equally as euphoric soundtracks, their overall consistency is giving me the impression that they have slightly better chances of winning the award with Life of Pi having already picked up the Original Score award at the Golden Globes. Lincoln and Argo both have ample soundtracks yet they don’t fare as well in comparison and will be written off by me for this award.

Adapted Screenplay

Every award winning picture spawns from a marvelous script, which we have seen in abundance during the past year. Unsurprisingly Tarantino is dominating the Original Screenplay awards with Django Unchained but there is no such domination at the Adapted Screenplay playing field. Screenwriters of Argo, Lincoln, Life of Pi and Silver Linings have all managed to get their paws around some gold, whether it be at a major or minor ceremony. Four of the five screenplays already show award winning potential meaning an open debate is left behind on which will take home the top prize. Sadly this sort of leaves Beasts of the Southern Wild way out of the competition, it is hard to be 100% about that though and the Oscars can be full of surprises.

There’s my two cents on what to bite your nails for at the coming Oscars on the 24th February, if you have any disagreements or feel I left anything out and want your say feel free to comment below!

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