Do Superhero movies need saving? DC vs Marvel 2: Dawn of The Age of The Leotard Extended Universe

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years that has been a big trend in superhero movies. We are now at a stage where 3 or more come out every year, the question is do we need them? How will they keep us entertained? How can they differentiate themselves from the crowd?

Please enjoy this discussion and leave your thoughts below:

To get started here are all the Superhero films being released in the near future (starting this year)! Deep breath everyone!

2016

  • Deadpool (Fox/Marvel) aka Mr Pansexual Sweary Fourth Wall
  • Batman vs Superman (DC) aka Discount Civil War
  • Captain America: Civil War (Marvel)
  • Suicide Squad (DC) aka Harlequin and ”Not Heath Ledger”
  • X-Men Apocalypse (F) aka The Other Jennifer Lawrence Franchise
  • Dr Strange (M) aka Magic Sherlock

2017

  • Wolverine 3 (F)  aka The last movie before Hugh Jackman collapses under the weight of his own pecs and biceps
  • Guardians of The Galaxy 2 (M)
  • Not Black Widow Part 1 (DC) aka Wonder Woman
  • Spiderman (who knows?) – no not Tobey Maguire, no not him either… It’s Tom Holland
  • Thor Ragnarok (M)
  • Justice League Part 1 (DC) aka Team Up Timewonder-woman-amazons1

2018

  • Black Panther (M) aka slowly dragging superhero diversity into the 21st century
  • The Flash (DC)
  • Avengers Infinity War Part 1 (M)- I HATE HARRY POTTER FOR STARTING THIS 2 PART FILM NONSENSE
  • Antman and The Wasp (M) aka Tiny Tim and his gang of criminal stereotypes
  • Untitled Fox/Marvel film (read X-men/X-Force/Gambit/Deadpool 2/ god knows what?)
  • Aquaman (DC) aka not Seaman and Swallow
  • Animated Spiderman film

2019

  • NOT BLACK WIDOW Part 2 (M) aka Captain Marvel
  • Shazam (DC) copywright infringement as he was formerly known as Captai Mar-vel
  • Avengers Infinity War Part 2 (M)
  • Justice League Part 2 (DC) YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
  • Inhumans (M)

2020

  • Cyborg (DC) aka not Robocop or Ultron
  • Untitled Marvel Film
  • Green Lantern (DC) aka Deadpool’s worst nightmare
  • Plus 2 more untitled Marvel films

Which at my count makes 29 SUPER-HERO FILMS! AND THIS DOESN’T INCLUDE ALL THE SUPERHERO TV SERIES:

  • Daredevil
  • Jessica Jones
  • Luke Cage
  • Iron Fist
  • The Defenders
  • Arrow
  • Flash
  • Agents Of Shield
  • Legends Of Tomorow
  • Agent Carter

This is a lot of films, now you could argue that there would be twice as many action or horror films in the same length of time. But super-hero films are a much more specific type of film; they stand on and represent a set of principles and ideals and are meant to inspire and amaze audience. And as such with 6 films/ year they will need to do something to differentiate themselves from the crowd. The question is DO WE NEED THIS MANY?

Now to prefix this, I love superhero films; they are exciting, full of heart and a brilliant spectacle. And while they do not all hit the mark in terms of a cinematic masterpiece they are all a lot of fun!

Superhero films overcame their first obstacle right out of the gate with Nolan’s Batman Begins and Iron Man for the MCU. They got well respected and talented actors to play the leads roles, lending a certain weight to the projects which made people to sit up, pay attention and give the films a chance. This trend has continued with even the small bit parts being played by A-list actors. At last count there are 23  OSCAR WINNING  and  28 OSCAR NOMINATED actors involved with comic book projects alone (this excludes any production/writing/directing nominees). Unsurprisingly with this great depth of acting talent, and well rounded supporting casts, the performances are never an issue. The performances bring the heart, emotion and often the fun to these films.

Now a good cast can only work with what they’re given and if not given the best screenplay, there is only so much they can do. There is a wealth of source-material to pull from, up to 60 years of material in fact. There are so many arcs and characters that we could have a never ending stream of comic book movies until 2100! Although I think once we reach Squirrel Girl (M), Arm Fall Off Boy (DC) and Matter Eater Lad (DC)  maybe we should call time of death!

The name says it all!

The first major problem with super-hero movies is related to this. All of the studios have a huge roll-out plan for their extended universe’s with over arching themes and arcs to span years. Which means they want to have tie-ins, links, easter eggs, foreshadowing , cameos, and Stan Lee (DC gets a free pass here) splattered all over each movie. And while these can be harmless, like Howard The Duck at the end of Guardians, they can also cause serious problems. Take Avengers: Age Of Ultron, a solid film. Not Marvels finest and not Marvels worst. One of the many reasons it suffered were the ways it was trying to play lip service to set up future films: visions for Thor 3 and Infinity War, Wakanda and Klaus for Black Panther, Hulk disappearing into space for whatever reason. This takes time away from real character development resulting in 2 hours of continuous action spectacle…which is exhausting. *SPOILER ALERT*Especially since it meant we had no real incite into the Maximoff Twins but were then expected to cry when of them died? By the way the Maximoff twins are DEFINITELY..I REPEAT…DEFINITELY NOT MUTANTS.

Then you get things at the opposite end of the spectrum; poor/curve ball writing choices like Black Widow and Hulk falling in love in Ultron, the entire X-men Last Stand film and Thor films outside of Loki. Which the best actors in the world can’t do anything about

The result of this is that each film tries to up the stakes, the spectacle and the CGI in an attempt to feel new, interesting and relevant. When in fact, creating a smaller, human story would be a much more captivating and thrilling film. Is it any wonder that that best comic book films tend to be more at home in other genres: Captain America: Winter Solider is a thriller, while the Dark Knight is an out an out crime film, even Ant-Man is a heist film. Granted, Avengers 1 and the better X-men films are very much super-hero films but they thrive on a human heart and witty humour (especially Avengers) and not on Michael Bay Explosions and super-hero landings.

These tropes are so familiar and hard to avoid that even Deadpool, the most self-aware comic movie around, managed to fall into the same tropes whilst taking the piss out of them!

Granted there are often some great action sequences, (like the gem below) but with 6 films a year potentially relying on this back-up plan, how long until it gets tedious?

 

The other perhaps more troubling problem with these movies? Directing. It is inconsistent, now I realise it is unrealistic for the same director to do all the movies in one universe. But for every true hit movie there are usually a couple of misses! Consistency in the quality of director is crucial, poor direction makes a poor movie no matter what the rest of the film production is like. This then effects the appearance and quality of the whole universe, due to the studious insistence on interconnection. Here are some examples:

  • Incredible Hulk – Lous Letterier – Critically poor background
  • Iron Man 3 -Shane Black – Inexperienced
  • Thor: Dark World – Alan Taylor – who?
  • Captain America: The First Avenger – Joe Johnstone – acclaimed director of JURASSIC PARK 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Point made?

Brian Singer has made great X-men films, James Gunn and The Russo Brothers produced some of the best Marvel films (both of which were surprising efforts). Although it remains to be seen how the latter two will fair on their second outings. As both Jon Favreau and Joss Whedon (both acclaimed directors) created amazing first entries to the cannon. Yet studio intervention, pressure and scale resulted in the 2nd films which were good but unable to reproduce the magic a 2nd time around. Especially in Whedon’s case (1min 15 onwards).

I believe that to avoid superhero burnout we need to focus on smaller, grounded, personal stories within the grand scale AND directors must be held to a higher standard. Choosing experienced and quality directors who will make the smart choices. GRANTED even this does not guarantee success, take the first Thor and its director Kenneth Brannagh, an acclaimed Shakespearan director and actor; but an average film at best. But with all these movies vying for the limelight it is an issue which has to be addressed.

This brings me to Batman vs Superman. FULL DISCLOSURE I HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET. I am excited to see the film and will go in open-minded but I am not surprised by the luke-warm critical reception it has received:

  1. They are trying to set up a super-hero team up in one movie, something that took Marvel 5 films. This probably means screen time will be spread too thin between all the plot lines and tie-ins leading to forced cameos and exposition and probably poorly explained motives.
  2. The cast is strong and the acting will be great (especially excited for Batfleck) but this can’t save a movie if it’s already flawed.
  3. Zack Snyder. If we are all honest has he ever made a really good movie? 300, is solid. Watchmen is okay but far too long. Suckerpunch is a bizarre fever dream. All 3 are style over substance. His debut Dawn of the Dead remake is probably his best bet but still isn’t great. So why are people surprised when he doesn’t suddenly pull a cinematic masterpiece out of his backside?

Like I said I will go in open-minded and will probably enjoy the film, even find lots of praise for it. But will I love it the way I love other super-hero movies or even other movies in general? Probably not!

Now the future for super-hero movies does look promising, the casts continue to grow in talent. There are some exciting releases to come this year with Civil War (YAY SPIDERMAN), Suicide Squad and the emergence of magic in the MCU with Doctor Strange. After which, the super-hero genre is finally beginning to embrace diversity with the first African-Amercan and female lead movies being released in the near future. There are also some great directors attached to new exciting projects: David Ayer (Training Day) for Suicide Squad, Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station and Creed) for Black Panther and the Russo‘s have several films in the works.

But only time will tell if this film movement is a flash in the pan or whether it will last. But as long as audiences keep bringing in the huge profits you can be sure to see a lot more leotards over the next few years. Lets just hope the experience can always feel as new and exciting as it still does now!

Let me know your thoughts below!

Daniel Day-Lewis: The Cinematic Cobbler

Actors basically  pretend to be other people for a living. Usually they research their character to best understand them so that they can produce the most realistic and intimate imitation of them. At worst, this research involves turning up and reading loud and stumbling over the tough words. At best these performances transition from impersonation to personification and embodiment. This can involve substantial physical changes be it prostetics, drastic weight and physique changes or CGI. Some actors produce this sort of performance once in a career like Natalie Portman in Black Swan or J.K. Simmons in Whiplash or even Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas (although some attribute this to supernatural phenomena). Some can do this repeatedly like Meryl Street, Jack Nicholson or Robert De Niro.

BUT… there are few who can produce these performances as consistently and brilliantly as Daniel Day-Lewis.

Here he is in ”There Will Be Blood” in the brilliant and intense ”milkshake” scene:

Suffice to say his milkshake brings all the boys to the yard!

Daniel is the only man to win 3 Oscars for Best Actor, for his work in ”My Left Foot”, ”There Will Be Blood” and ”Lincoln”. He received 2 further Best Actor nods for ”In The Name Of The Father” and ”Gangs Of New York”. NB/ Walter Brennan and Jack Nicholson have also won 3 Oscars but over the Best Actor and Supporting Actor categories.

”You’re telling me it’s going to take 1 hour to put all this make up on?…The sodding Gettysberg address was only 2 minutes long!” Lincoln (2012)

Now while Oscar success is not an accurate singular measure of an actor’s ability, due to the Academy’s somewhat questionable record with race and snubbing movies, amongst other things. It is a testament to his skill.

Now some could argue that the reason for his ability to commit and perfect each role is his selectivity. And you’d be right. Since he won the Oscar for ”My Left Foot”, in 1989, he has only been in 10 films, often with years between each. To you I say, does that matter? These days film stars appear in multiple films a year and make millions for each one. But it you look at these extensive filmography’s, how many of the films are truly great? And more importantly how many of the performances are memorable or worthy of recognition? If we looked at the same time period I would bet the number would be less than Mr Lewis’s. This is especially important when you look at the constant barrage of terrible films which violate the eyes of the general public on a daily basis.

Furthermore, when money is not an issue, who wouldn’t want to bide their time and find the right project and vehicle to produce your best work, using your spare-time to fulfil other passions and hobbies. Daniel’s dissociation from the Hollywoodland bubble only serves to benefit his acting work by allowing him to relax and truly consider each role. In fact between films he has dedicated time to his passion for woodwork and spent time being a cobbler. These periods remain very illusive and mysterious as he has said, ”…a period of my life that I had a right to, without any intervention of that kind”. He has taken a hiatus since filming 2012’s Lincoln as he believes he will not be able to surpass this work for some time. Remember, QUANTITY IS NOT THE SAME AS QUALITY…for example Michael Bay sticking 200 explosions in a film does not make it good! Or even tolerable.

However, what I believe sets Daniel Day-Lewis apart is his absolute, unshakeable dedication to each role. He takes method acting to a new, almost comically insane, stratosphere. He caught pneumonia and refused to wear a warmer coat during the filming of ”Gangs Of New York”. He spent the entirety of filming ”My Left Foot” in character as paraplegic writer, Christy Brown, being carried around or pushed in a wheelchair and being spoonfed; he even broke two ribs from being constantly slumped over. He only ate food he killed for ”The Last Of The Mohicans”. Lost 30lbs and underwent intense interrogations for ”In The Name Of The Father”. And he didnt bathe for the entire filming of ”The Crucible” to experience the life of a 17th Century man.

While he is not the only method actor: Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Christian Bale, even Leto and McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club, and Danny Dyer (just kidding). These actors go through rigorous and chameleon-like physical changes, alter and distort their personalities and deliver incredible performances, rivalling those of Day-Lewis. But… Daniel’s level of diligence, intensity and commitment to his research and performance puts him a step above in terms of (method) acting and, consequently, consistency of performance. If you don’t believe me, take look at, and cringe through, some of the crappy films the above actors have made: The Family, Chapter 27, all McConaughey rom-coms, Little Fockers, Meet The Fockers, Terminator Salvation, Exodus and Grudge Match.

An example of Day-Lewis’ preparation is here in Lincoln, a role he prepared for by over a year by reading 100s of books on Lincoln and perfecting the make-up!

His groundwork allows him to produce some of the most memorable and most accomplished performances in recent cinema. They are diverse, restrained, anarchic, troubled and inspiring. His characters are complex, interesting and unique. Everything a person is. Except he achieved this for characters completely foreign and distant from himself, a middle-class English son of a Poet Laurete. In the hands of lesser actors, the intensity or vigour of these performances could be cartoonish and silly. But instead they are engrossing and more importantly, real!

For example, Lewis as Christy Brown in ”My Left Foot”.

Anyway, this is my take on Daniel Day-Lewis, I hope you enjoyed it. Here are some of his films you should definitely see: My Left Foot, Last Of The Mohicans, In The Name Of The Father, The Crucible, The Boxer,Gangs Of New York, There Will Be Blood and Lincoln! Do yourself a favour and take a look!

Only Lovers Left Alive…forever… and ever…(A blood red romance with bite)

Only Lovers Left Alive is a vampire film with a twist, directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. It came out in 2013 and although well received by critics and film festivals it did not get a huge release. Upon watching it you can see why, it is the polar opposite of a blockbuster.  If Twilight’s glistening, despicable, farcical, twinkling shovel-faced excuses for vampires were day then these would be night; intelligent, sophisticated and dark.

This is one of the most original and intelligent films made in recent years, is fantastically made and I would definitely recommend watching!

So without further ado, here is the trailer:

This film creates an entire backstory and history surrounding the culture of vampires whilst centering around Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Swinton), who have been married for centuries but live in different worlds. Adam is an underground musician in Detroit whilst Eve reads voraciously in Tangiers, Morocco. Throughout the ages the have influenced and been inspired by great artists, scientists and musicians. A one stage Adam rattles of a list of friends including Gallileo, Newton and Tesla. Possibly the most intellectual and world changing name-drop in history. Eve’s dearest friend goes by the alias Kit (John Hurt) although it quickly becomes apparent he is actually Christopher Marlowe, the man rumoured to have faked his death to become Shakespeare. He also happens to be Eve’s contact to get ”the good stuff”, ie uncontaminated and healthy human blood.

These vampires sleep all day and wake all night. They drink blood. They have fangs. They are immortal. But they are not mindless monsters intent on world domination (see Van Helsing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Daybreakers for reference). Nor are they those driveling, mindless, bland, vacuous empty shells of pitiful nothingness found in the Twilight movies!…God it just makes me so angry! These vampires are people with range, intelligence and emotion. They are characters, which is a novelty in of itself in what is essentially a vampire movie. They show the true potential of immortality; near limitless wisdom, a connection with the world, a sense of perspective. This was a brilliant piece of screen-writing to construct these characters. Eve is content to read and enjoy the world whereas Adam creates beautiful music but hides it from the world; spiteful of the humans and the banality and destructiveness. He calls them zombies with contempt and pity for wandering through life so aimlessly, this has left him depressed and insular…a typical tortured artist if you will. This prompts Eve to travel to Detroit and reinvigorate her lover.

Half-way through Eve’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska) enters, a vampire who appears to have been ”turned” in her early 20’s. She is impulsive, reckless, full of limitless energy and always on the move. She is the flip side of the coin. An eternally wasted youth, forever stuck in the abyss between adolescence and adulthood and this immaturity causes problems. Particularly clashing with Adams insular and pensive attitude.

At this point it is only fair to stop and say that all the performances in this film are brilliant, especially Swinton and Hiddleston’s.

Living in today’s civilized society vampires try to avoid killing humans for blood and instead must find and bribe local doctors for excess “O Neg” blood supplies, for which they pay handsomely… in Adam’s case anyway. Adam’s contact is Dr.Watson, who played brilliantly in a small role by Jeffrey Wright provides some light relief. The blood drinking was a delight to watch. Small, delicate glasses filled with viscous red-liquid providing instant ecstasy and satisfaction. For the more impulsive vampires such as Ava, you could see how this may be problematic.

”I’ll have what she’s having!”

The film takes place entirely at night, but the shots are still full of vibrant colour and tone. Each of Adam and Eve’s interactions with this nocturnal world is a brief glimpse into their life experiences; reciting each plant they touch by its latin name, bewilderment at mushrooms growing out of season, the state of modern humanity. All is placed in order and perspective. Add to this a haunting soundtrack that ranges from ethereal soft sounds to hard rock and to Arabic moods. It really is a pleasure to watch. ALTHOUGH my one complaint would be that the speaking volume is low, especially in the 1st 30 mins, and I watched with subtitles to compensate.

Vampire lore and mythology is referenced and adhered to in creative ways. Bad luck to pass a threshold uninvited, but garlic is laughed off as an old superstition. Adam acquires a bullet made of dense wood when contemplating suicide. They sleep through the day, cant go out in sunlight and as such only travel on overnight flights, by first class I might add. Coffins and wooden stakes are playfully mention. Yet when called upon and given no alternative they will turn to their darker, revered and frightening ways, all in the name of self preservation… either that or thirst.

It is all there. These characters are Vampires but they feel fresh and original, a miraculous achievement.

One thing I didn’t understand was why they were always wearing gloves? If anyone has any ideas about Vampires and gloves let me know!

Now for two more comical observations:

1) Where did they get all this money from? I mean they are seriously loaded. Adam is paying out thousands of dollars a week for instruments, recording equipment and not to mention the blood. Then they fly first class everywhere…from Detroit to Madrid and then to Tangiers…that shit ain’t cheap!

Okay over the centuries they probably have a pretty large accumulation of rare and valuable stuff they can sell. Maybe they put some money in the bank in the 1500s and they’re just raking in the interest. Who knows? Either way for a couple without jobs they are playing with some serious cheddar.

2) By calling them Adam and Eve where they implying they have been around since the first signs of humanity? If so why aren’t all people related to/types of vampire? Is this biblical? Were these two the ones who pissed God off, pulled a fast one and got God to punish the humans for original sin?

Anyway this got me thinking. (SPOILER AHEAD)…..

If they are Adam and Eve, maybe the older Christopher Monroe is a God like/Jesus sort of figure. And if so that means that a dodgy doctor in Tangiers killed Jesus by giving him some dirty blood. He is not going to be popular in church on Sunday!

This is a fantastic film and I truly recommend giving it a watch. This film may star Vampires but it is not a horror movie. It is really a story about love and the appreciation of life that is delivered with charm, some interesting philosophy and a dash of historical artistic license!

VERDICT: ”You must excuse me, for I have already dined. And I never drink wine.”

PS: ”To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. Then you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing.”

Kickstarter: Ageing actor’s retirement fund

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Today’s world is rife with complex and at times horrifying problems: Ebola, ISIS, nuclear weapons, gender equality, marriage equality, wage equality, racism, world hunger, clean water, dictatorships, economic crises… the list goes on.

So right here and right now I am here to talk about…. none of these…instead I’ll talk about a problem that threatens the very foundation and future of cinema…a problem I am much more qualified to talk about…

AGEING ACTORS MAKING TERRIBLE MOVIES TO MAKE AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF MONEY!

NB/ This is apparently endemic to actors rather than actresses. Keep up the good work Meryl.

We’ve all seen it. A once revered, esteemed and magnificent actor making a movie so bad that it could only be intentional. Their eyes have glazed over. Their spark is gone. All the while they are just mentally counting the money banked with each line…$1,000,000…$2,000,000…..$3,000,000…..”Oh is it my line again? Sorry.”

The culprits are many and varied Samuel L Jackson, John Cusack, Mickey Rourke, Christopher Walken, even Neeson, Caine and Freeman are guilty to an extent.

Also I see you Al Pacino! You’ve done nothing of note since the late 90’s which is a travesty when you look at your early filmography!  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Pacino_filmography

I mean at least Sean Connery and Jack Nicholson had the common decency to just stop rather than parade a festival float of broken dreams and lost ambition through the streets!

But they are not the biggest offenders. They are not even close. There are two criminal masterminds here.

1) NICHOLAS CAGE – I’ve never really understood Cage’s appeal but he has made and will continue to makes some horrific career decisions. Which long ago erased any of the goodwill built during his early career.

The Holy Trinity: Eyes wide, Nasal Flare and Dislocated jaw

I believe the TV show, Community, summed him up better than I ever could!

”I don’t know? If I was in 70 films over 30 years and spent each one talking at random volumes, I might accidentally win an oscar.”

2) ROBERT DE NIRO

Let’s take a look at some highlights from his back catalogue:

Godfather Part 2, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Once Upon A Time In America, Brazil, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Cape Fear.

These are some incredible films. This man is an exceptional actor who has made terrific films for decades. He was renowned for his commitment to each and every role; living in Sicily for Godfather, driving a taxi for weeks for Taxi Driver, gaining 60lbs for Raging Bull. The list goes on.

Now, depressingly, we must take a look at his more recent films, excluding the two exceptions – Silver Linings Playbook and his minor role in American Hustle.

The Intern, Grudge Match, Last Vegas, The Family, New Year’s Eve, The Big Wedding, The Little Fockers, Machete, Righteous Kill… I can’t go on. I just feel empty inside. Its like the feeling you get watching Old Yeller and knowing that in reality Old Yeller and his pup Young Yeller have both been pushing up the daisies for a very long time.

The worst one here, for me, is Grudge Match. A Rocky rip-off except the boxers are both in their 60’s and incompetent. I mean we all know Stallone can’t act… he can barely speak English! Why did De Niro do this?

I get that people need to make a living. I know that actors wages in the 60’s/70’s were nowhere as extravagant as today but even so movie stars have never been brushing against the poverty line. I know these awful films are an easy way to bring in the money. But movie stars are not short of it in the first place. You are an artist, have some self-respect… I know this sounds pretentious… but come on. Look at the brilliant things you’ve done, you know that you are just phoning it in these days.

So now to my solution!

I am going to set up a charity.

”The Ageing Actor’s Retirement Fund”.

Here are the requirements:

  • Over 60
  • Have delivered in quality performances on film over 10 years ago
  • Have given up trying in the last 10 years

Once receiving income from this fund actors can make a maximum of 2 films per year which MUST receive prior approval from our film standards board. This will ensure that these actors continue to produce and achieve like we know they can. This doesn’t just benefit our film viewing experience but will also benefit their own self-esteem, allowing them to regain the decision making confidence they lost so long ago.

With your help and just a small monthly donation we can help supplement the income these elder statesman so that they can retire comfortably, rested, at peace and with dignity! With your help we can help stop the declining career standards these once great professionals had. We can help rid theatres of Rocky remakes and reboots. Of stupid ensemble cast holiday comedies. Of all these terrible films perpetrated by ageing actors!

Together we can do this. .

 THE AGING ACTOR’S RETIREMENT FUND

DONATE NOW FOR A BETTER FUTURE.

PS/ Here are some actual charities who would do wonderful work and will gratefully receive donations! This is obviously not an exhaustive list so donate where you feel you should.

http://www.actionaid.org.uk/

http://www.wateraid.org/uk

http://www.pointfoundation.org/   ”Empowers promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential – despite the obstacles often put before them – to make a significant impact on society.”

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate

Al Pacino Al Day Al Night: Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico

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TODAY IT IS TWO REVIEWS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!

It was too my shame that until recently I had not seen Al Pacino in anything other than his phenomenal performances as Michael Corleone in the Godfather series. So I decided to rectify this the only way I know how… By ignoring my actual work and just watching movies.

Blue Steel

Blue Steel

First up “Dog Day Afternoon”. Here is the trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CF1rtd8_pxA

This film tells the true story of Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale) who attempt to rob a bank. This turns out to have been a bad idea… I know shocking! The situation rapidly descends into chaos and a national news frenzy. Although trapped and surrounded by police, FBI and news crews the atmosphere inside the bank is surprisingly relaxed with Sonny treating his captives with dignity and respect. Even allowing them relative freedom. The real palpable tension here comes from Sal, who is tightly strung, fervently religious and desperate to not end up back in prison. The question here is whether Sonny can keep him from snapping and shooting the next bank teller who lights a cigarette (which is not very Christian in his eyes).

Sal and Sonny shooting the breeze.

Sal and Sonny shooting the breeze.

Outside the bank is where the real drama happens with Sonny attempting to negotiate an escape.  His fervent battle cries of “Attica! Attica!”, in reference to the prison riot, gain the support of the general public. He further endears himself by throwing wads of money into the crowd like he’s in a Lil Wayne music video.

No comment.

No comment.

However this people’s champion doesn’t have it all his own way. As negotiations intensify and trust wanes, Sonny becomes increasingly aggressive, paranoid and unhinged. This is exacerbated by the involvement of his legal wife, Angela, and his “real” wife, Leon, a pre-op transgender woman. Both of whom reveal the extent to which Sonny has been coming apart as well as his confrontational tendencies. As soon as the public hear of Leon the atmosphere changes into one of hate, oppression and ignorance. Whether it is the crowds wolf whistling at Sonny frisking someone or just plain booing him to the police sniggering and laughing at Leon and her struggles to express who she is. A problem still prevalent today. Where this film succeeds is in highlighting the deep and genuine connection between Sonny and Leon, as well as there struggles and difficulties. In a sense it becomes about how far you are willing to go for someone you love.

The climax of the film is tense and thrilling, giving the film an abrupt but satisfying ending. The performances of Pacino and John Cazale are brilliant and the directing is great.

FUN FACT: John Cazale appeared in 6 films (1 released posthumously) before his death in 1978 : The Godfather Trilogy, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter. All of which were nominated for Best Picture of which 3 won (Godfather 1/2 and Deer Hunter). Coincidence? I think not!

Next up “Serpico” here’s is the trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwundUvdqMc

For those that don’t know, Serpico is based on the life of Frank Serpico from 1960-72. A truly honest and exceptional NYPD cop who would not bend to the corruption surrounding him within the force. His actions lead to the exposure of this corruption and the formation of the Knapp commission to investigate it. Here Frank became the first police officer to step forward to testify.

Here we see Pacino on the otherside of the law as the titular Serpico, a beat patrol-man and plain clothes officer. Serpico is disliked and mistrusted by other officers not just due to his exceptional skill on the job but his complete refusal to and disapproval of taking bribes. Serpico finds an ally in officer Durk who also wishes to remove the corruption from the force. With each passing year and attempt to find a superior officer, politician or even friend to take the allegations seriously Serpico grow increasingly fraught, distressed and anxious. Pacino is brilliant as Serpico. Giving a real masterclass in acting when the hidden pressures built at work explode in his home life.  Destroying multiple relationships, friendships and family ties. Serpico is truly alone in an ever more toxic and dangerous environment. Alone except for his wonderfully shaggy old English sheepdog, Alfie, who with only a single barked line of dialogue steals every scene he’s in. Serpico also sports some rather fantastic facial hair. And a great disguise as a Rabi.

Im not sure which of the two has more luscious hair, Serpico or the dog? If you can't tell Serpico is in the middle and Alfie is on the right.

Im not sure which of the two has more luscious hair, Serpico or the dog? If you can’t tell Serpico is in the middle and Alfie is on the right.

Am I blending in?

Am I blending in?

Both of these films are classics and demonstrate exactly how to build tension. Even more impressive given the minimal levels of violence compared to today’s films. Especially since Hollywood has misconstrued violence, blood and gore as the simple formula for tension and fear. …. It’s just lazy and gross. If you make me want to throw up I’m not scared, just nauseous. Or sick from eating my own cooking. The acting and writing is brilliant and deal with issues still relevant today. Police brutality, corruption and LGTBQ rights. I cannot recommend these movies enough.

VERDICT: AL PACINO IS AL RIGHT BY ME. WATCH NOW OR ILL MAKE YOU AN OFFER YOU CAN’T REFUSE

Is it a bird?…Is it a plane?…No! It’s Batman!…Batman?! What the hell is he doing here?

If you are have any modicum of affection for superheroes and/or comics – whether you are a Marvel die hard or a DC devotee still clinging onto the fading glow of the Dark Knight trilogy – you will have seen the trailer for Batman vs Superman: The Dawn Of Justice.

But here it is again for your perusal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwfUnkBfdZ4

This trailer doesn’t show all that much but we do get a decent glimpse at the new Batman ( read: Batfleck). Other than that most of you what we get is a blaring horn soundtrack ripped straight from Nolan’s Inception. However we do get a brand spanking logo integrating the Bat signal with Superman’s S. This was clearly intended to complete fanboy meltdown. IT DID LOOK COOL THOUGH.

Now that we’ve seen Batfleck I think it is about time we compare our favourite caped crusader throughout the ages:

THE ORiGINAL BATMAN. THE INVINCIBLE, THE IRREPLACEABLE…. wait there were two before him? Shit!

ADAM WEST/ LEWIS G. WILSON/ ROBERT LOWERY

batman
Well at least they all look the same!

COSTUME: 4/10  Making the leap to colour and losing the high wasted Y fronts was a great call. The fetish leather mask is a little off-putting though. Not many men look great in tights, Robin Hood aside, and unfortunately neither do these Batfolk. Adam West (top) seems to have missed the memo to crotch-stuff on all occasions.

CAPE: YES     Not really much else to say!

BATVOICE: AUDIBLE CHOCOLATE

BATMOVIES: 1 plus TV/ 1943AD / 1 

RATING: ”BECAUSE I’M BATMAN!”

MICHAEL KEATON

COSTUME: 6/10 Black is the new black. The Main changes here are a much bigger and all black costume.  This helped Keaton look like a caped crusader rather than a zumba-class devotee.

CAPE: STILL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR 

BATVOICE: MICHAEL KEATON’S VOICE He could have at least tried

BATMOVIES: 2

OVERALL: ”NICE OUTFIT”

DISCOUNT MICHAEL KEATON 

COSTUME: 5/10  MUSCLES EVERYWHERE   Everything is bigger. The abs. The arms. The ears. The chin. The bulge. We even see the beginnings of those godforsaken ‘Bat Nipples’.

CAPE: BIGGER THAN EVER

BATVOICE: VOICES ARE DIFFICULT   Kilmer gave it his best shot. And it is a good effort. At least he didn’t go full bronchitis like Christian Bale.

BATMOVIES: 1

OVERALL: ”YOU SUMMONED ME HERE FOR THIS. THE BATSIGNAL IS NOT A BEEPER.”

And the Lifetime Achievement award for worst costume decision ever. The nominees are:

TOBEY MAGUIRE IN SPIDER-MAN 3 THE BAT PENIS IN GONE GIRL

DENNIS NEDRY IN JURASSIC PARK AND THE SUNBURN PINK HAWAIIAN SHIRT

RUBY RHOD AND THE FIFTH ELEMENT’S PHALLIC WIG

AND THE WINNER IS GEORGE CLOONEY AND THE BAT NIPPLES

COSTUME: 1/10 THE BATMAN AND THE AREOLA’S OF DOOM
These shiny, pearlescent, glowing spots of failure may seem tiny and insignificant but once you see them… they are all you can see. Batman fights someone! All you see are the Bat-nipples. Batman says something witty! All you see are the Bat-nipples. This is the single worst costume choice ever. For the love of the sweet baby Jesus, WHY DID SCHUMACHER OKAY THIS. AND THEN on top of this decide to add a supersize cod-piece to boot!

CAPE: ATTACHED AT THE FINGERS?  Okay…They would get points for realism here if it wasn’t for the fact that Batman isn’t actually a Bat. NEXT!

BATVOICE: AN EVER GROWING CLOUD OF SMUG

BATMOVIES: 1 (TOO MANY)

Rating: ”I think we might have killed the franchise” George Clooney

NOT-SO-CHRISTIAN ‘COMPLETE ON SET MELTDOWN’ BALE

COSTUME: 8/10 NO NIPPLES, NO CODPIECE, NO WORRIES.
In my opinion this is the best form of the caped crusader. Sleek, streamlined, intimidating and adaptable. Great crime fighting attire unless Bane is around.

CAPE: MORE POWERFUL THAN BATMAN HIMSELF This cape actually became a very useful gadget in the Nolan trilogy. Whether it was falling from the roof of a building, falling from a plane to break into a building in Hong Kong or just falling down a few stories to pick up a mob boss you just dropped. The Bat-cape will save you!

BATVOICE: BARRY WHITE  I get it Bruce. You need to conceal your identity but you need a throat lozenge!

BATMOVIES: THE TRIFECTA

OVERALL: ”WHY DO WE FALL? SO WE CAN LEARN TO PICK OURSELVES UP AGAIN” Batman’s Dad

 BATFLECK

COSTUME: 7/10 Hulk…smash! Batlfeck has hit the juice. I just hope he didn’t skip led day or we’re going to have to find some kryptonite. I also think he has a borrowed Selina Kyle’s cat mask  but never mind, this is a SUPERMAN movie.

CAPE: POTENTIAL UNKNOWN

BATVOICE: The Dark Knight: Age Of Ultron  As stated in my review of Age Of Ultron, combining Bale’s Batman and Spader’s Ultron will get you to Batfleck.

BATMOVIES: WHO KNOWS!?

OVERALL: ”IF IT BLEEDS… WE CAN KILL IT”  Wait.. was that what he said in the trailer? No? Close enough!.

MY FAVOURITE WOULD BE THE VOICE OF KILMER COMBINED WITH CHRISTIAN BALE. WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Invariably whenever someone new is cast as a comic book character 6 million fan-boys unleash their  unimaginable rage and bile as a hateful torrent spewed across the internet.

I WILL RESERVE VERDICT UNTIL I SEE BATFLECK in action, Ultron voice and all!

Until next time!

”He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.” Jim Gordon

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