Monday, 14 September 2015

[Film Review] - Brick (2006)

Brick (2006)

Every now and then a film comes along that makes you wonder exactly what the makers were thinking when they produced it. What possessed them to do something this way, when that way would do. Brick is one such film.

It is written and directed Rian Johnson whom I found because I read an article that he had been given one of the upcoming Star Wars films to direct and after looking at his IMDB profile I got interested in "Brick" becasue it was his first outing in feature film. There is a trend in Hollywood at the moment, one of which I approve, for the most part, of major studios hiring young talented indie directors to cover their super-mega projects. Monsters -> Godzilla... Super / Slither -> Guardians of the Galaxy... Chronicle -> Fantastic 4... that kind of thing.

It is hard to talk about Brick because at it's heart it's a mystery film, a well written and convoluted one though not exactly a baffling one. So there is very little you can really discuss without ruining the mystery. Though the interesting part is that the mystery isn't the point. This is more of a ride, it's main purpose is the experience delivered through the films style, this is what is important. So while the mystery and the discovery about it drives the story, the mystery is almost irrelevant to the films real focus. Nostalgia.

This entire film is throw back to the film noir. In some ways it is even more of a recreation of the classic black and whites that form the Golden Age of Cinema than China Town, before it. All the familiar cliches form the fem fatal, to rebellious tough guy shamus, the underbelly of crime stretching from fancy parties to criminal masterminds and the language.

The entire film is written as if it came directly from an Edward Robinson or Humphry Bogart film. "You set that poor kid up! You held Dode like a card 'till you could play him.".. this is an actual line from the film. Now, you could be mistaken in thinking that sounds really corny, because it kinda dose. Yet the film's director, who is also the writer fully commits to this. It is 100% deadpan, no mocking, no cynicism. It is presented as the reality of the world and as the reality is held true through out, it just works. So like when watching a Shakespeare play the use of unusual language in this film fades into normalcy going undetected, even become... well, just cool.

Still the most audacious thing is this is not a film set in the mean streets of Chicago but set on the campus of a high school staring high school children. This is the baffling part.  Imagine if White Heat was set in a highschool and it was the exact same film just that setting change. This is what Brick is trying to be.

Is it a calculated move to get a film done at a much reduced cost? Is their a metaphor about school kids and their melodramatic problems, as the Golden Age films seam almost naive and silly to many now? Is it a commentary on how ideas recycle, and only the very young can truly believe that love is forever and that an idea is ever original? Is it because the setting takes some of the edge off the realism allowing the viewer to accept this strange fantasy version of how people behave more readily?

I'm not really sure, behind the reasoning of why this setting is chosen, this is why the film is so odd. Though I am absolutely sure this film could have been done with adults, even set in 40s Chicago and it would work, with nothing more than changing some of the names in the script. Like VP (Vice Principle) to PC (Police Chief) and the like.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. What it shows is that even with young adult actors not quite being able to pull off the requirements of the script, that a story purely character and plot driven can still be very enjoyable. This is more than a nostalgic look at scripting and characters. It is a comment on films. On what we have lost and what kids may never know.

Highly Recommend

Friday, 11 September 2015

[Comic Review] Star Wars (Marvel 01 - 05) Comic Review

WARNING: I have not bothered with spoilers in this.. I mean this is Star Wars for fuck sake!

Star Wars (Marvel 01 - 05)

Star Wars is Star Wars is Star Wars. We all know it, we all lived and breathed it as children and for those of us in our middle ages it was more than a film. This movie changed things, not only in popular culture but in us as children. Would I be such a scifi fanboy if these movies didn't warp my mind as a kid? I dunno... all I do know is that I loved these movies and still do, though I have a fatigue about Star Wars now. The modern films and TV Shows and all that.. I couldn't give two shits about.. but the Original Trilogy? That is a different story.

If this is a counsellor ship.. then where is the ambassador?!

What intrigues me about this particular story is the history behind it. This was released months before the actual film as part of the advertising push for the feature. So the artist Howard Chaykin (legend) and the "editor" (firmly placing the writing credits with Lucas)  Roy Thomas didn't have a film to base this comic on. This was the 70s, there was no easily transportable and playable media to share dailies or anything. All they had was 3 different scripts, none of which is the script that ended up in the film and some photos of the cast as well as some concept art.

So what we get here is a very unique entry into the Star Wars lore.. one that has officially been removed form the "cannon" but shows a version of the movie that is less of a copy and more of a creative "version" of the film.

Biggs! The unsung legend of the Alliance!

When I was a younger I always wondered how the cut sequences were so well know. It turns out that what I didn't know was that this comic, which was a massive MASSIVE hit had permeated the consciousness of the fandom so deeply to the point that we all knew about these extra scenes, but people like me never knew why. Kinda cool, eh?

Also, as they were working off a script and not the film, this comic has all the missing scenes, some of which are yet to be "returned" in modern cuts of the film. Famous scenes like Luke and his mates on Tatooine and Han and Jabba chatting outside the Falcon, but also some more obscure ones you may have heard whispered on the wind over the decades by fans you have met.

Integration Droid "Dr. Ball"

So lets talk about the comic itself. This is an old comic a book from the late 70s.

So there is an third person omniscient narrator. A device that is well out of style and morphed into the more common first person internal thoughts of a the main protagonist and this makes the book read like a script, complete with character direction. This was common for the time but I found this to be a slightly jarring and kinda ruined the reading experience. Now it is well know that comics often need exposition from some style of narration, but I feel there is a reason that this style is almost unheard of nowadays.

Jedi got a lot wrong, but Jabba sure as fuck wasn't one of them

Apart from that, this is a exercise in nostalgia. There are no surprises here, even with the additional scenes in this comic that would have been mind blowing only a few years ago, are now not only known to all, but most have been seen actually in versions of the film. We all know the story, we all know what the general look of things are and even with the artist and "editor" not having the true source to base things off there are few real surprises.

Still I found it very refreshing to read this. It is so easy to get jaded and cynical about all the new stuff but reading this was a real throw back to the time when it was all new and more importantly, all of it was actually really good and bursting with potential.

Then once you are done with the story of "A New Hope" (this comic was before that title existed) you are in "fantasy" comic world. Starting at 07 the book is now in pure imagination land, not even having a 2nd film or even a script to work off. This reminded me of when I was a kid, imaging all sorts of crazy stuff into this awesome universe which ended up being destroyed though the clarification of the latter movies

Not exactly a peck on the cheek!

This series continues for 107 volumes with Empire Strikes Back stretching across 39 - 44 and dose not even reach Jedi before the run ends. This is why this entire run is not considered cannon, as unlike the modern Star Wars comics it is really its own thing and I am not just talking about all the comic books (not just this one) basically having Luke and Leia fucking and then the editors doing some serious back peddling once Jedi came out!

There is a freedom to the storytelling here that I find feels very different to the modern Star Wars Universe comics I have read. No restrictions, no worrying about cannon and self-referential histories, just making shit up be cool and it is cool.

Can not be Recommend enough... A Must Read!

Oh yeah.... Only working of scripts.. never seeing the film.. Han shoots first... suck on that revisionist cunts!