Thursday, 21 June 2012

Scene 25: Back from The Second Light Lab

I've just had a busy, but wonderful four days at the Second Light Producer's Lab in Nottingham. It's a workshop available to young people who want to go into the media so they can learn more about certain roles and gain skills - I think, check out the website for their official explanation of what they do. 

The workshop was also organised by the Producer's Forum, a sort of networking and information site for UK producers. 

Anyway, I have learnt a lot about producing this week and I feel much more knowledgeable about producing, as well as marketing and distributing from one of the speakers, Jon Reiss. I suggest indie filmmaker's check out his book Thinking Outisde the Box Office, which I believe was the basis for his talk to us. It's a really useful overview of making, marketing and distributing films in the newer, non-traditional ways. Includingcrowdsourcing and crowdfunding to make films,  putting films up on the internet and the benefits of organising film events. 

I also met some really friendly and interesting people on the workshop too - so in short, a great four days!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Scene 24: Kenneth Branagh, Knight

So, congratulations to Kenneth Branagh, who has been knighted for his services to drama and the community of Northern Ireland, in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Kenneth Branagh is most famous for adapting, directing and acting in several films of Shakespeare plays, and starring in Wallander. He also directed the big Marvel movie Thor (2011). 

It must be noted that Kate Winslet, who received a CBE in Queen's Birthday Honours, actually starred in Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet (1996). 

To find out what Kenneth Branagh thought of receiving the honour, check out the BBC interview

I suppose this will mean I'll have to do a review of Kenneth Branagh's films now...!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Scene 23: The 100 Years Paramount Poster

Browsing the web today I came across the news on Yahoo! that Paramount is celebrating its a hundredth birthday with a new poster covered in hundred minimalist icons of some of its most famous movies.

I think its a fantastic poster, and a great tribute to all the great films the studio has created. 

So far I think I've spotted - Breakfast at Tiffany's, Footloose, School of Rock, The Italian Job, Tomb Raider, Planet of the Apes, Titanic, The Godfather Trilogy, Top Gun and The Addams Family to name a few. 

How many can you spot? If you get stuck and want the answers, then this website has apparently compiled them all: ANSWERS

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Scene 22: 10 Musical Favourites from Film and TV

Today I thought I'd do a run down of some of my favourite pieces of film and television music. Music is, of course, extremely important both film and television - think of the stirring scores in Lord of the Rings, or the familiar theme tune of Eastenders.

It can tell us what the mood is in a scene, giving us cues to tell us what we should be feeling - some composers can use this to their advantage. Or it can be a memorable theme that, once heard, we always associate with that particular film or television show. 

Below I've listed ten of my favourite instrumental pieces of music, five from films and five from television shows:

Music: Back to the Future Theme  By: Alan Silvestri  From: Back to the Future (1985)
Why: If it isn't obviously...not only did I grow up with the Back to the Future films, but this piece of music sounds so exciting! It's like a musical adventure. This is just an extract from the the full overture. 

Music: Monday  By: Jon Brion  From: I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Why: It's just so unusual, much like the surreal film it is the theme too. Cheerful and yet quirky. I especially love the notes at the end. 

Music: Unstoppable By:  E.S. Posthumus  From: Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (2011) 
Why: Okay, so its from the trailer, not technically the film - but the music is still a brilliantly chosen piece for the action filled trailer. E.S. Posthumus' cinematic style music has become rather popular with people in the media for use as soundtracks, and their music can be heard in many other films and TV shows too. 

Music: No Man's Land  By: John Williams  From: War Horse (2011)
Why: The music is from one of the most spectacular and sad scenes in the film - Joey running through the trenches. Admittedly, in this case, I find the music is better with the incredible visuals - but the fact the music and visuals made such an impact on me is perhaps tribute to how good they are. 

Music: He's a Pirate  By: Hans Zimmer  From: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Why: There is lots of good music in Pirates of the Caribbean, but this piece has a particular feel-good rip-roaring quality that calls you to adventure on the high seas. 

Music: I am The Doctor  By: Murray Gold From: Doctor Who Series 5  
Why: Well, as well as being a big fan of Doctor Who, I am also a big fan of the new music Murray Gold has composed for all the new series. This piece is one of my favourites. A combination of string instruments and drums, with a wonderful, almost ticking riff towards the end. 

Music: Name Unknown/Action Theme  By: Murray Gold  From: The Sarah Jane Adventures
Why:  This is another good action theme, composed by the same man who created music for Doctor Who. This theme has a particularly fast pace, which seems to step up and up with each drum beat. 

Music: The Chase Theme Tune  By: Paul Ferrer  From: The Chase
Why: You may be surprised to see this theme in here, as usually lists of film and TV music don't include gameshows. However I've included it and the reason its here, strangely, is because it reminds me of the action theme from The Sarah Jane Adventures. The theme is also rather big and exciting, to say its for  an afternoon gameshow, and though not quite film or TV drama standard, I think its great. 

Music: Jeeves and Wooster theme  By: Anne Dudley  From: Jeeves and Wooster
Why: A charming jazzy piece that goes very well with the 30's style and comedy of the show. With some nice little bits of humming vocals. 

Music: Dirk Gently Theme  By: Daniel Pemberton  From: Dirk Gently 
Why:  With a quick pace, it is excellent mixture of action and quirkiness, with twangy piano-like notes and a conventional drum beat underneath. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Scene 21: Two Sleuths and One Jude Law

I'm afraid I didn't manage to post yesterday, despite my effort to post every day from now on, but unfortunately my computer froze on me and it was so late, I gave up and went to bed.

Anyway, I've watched a lot of TV and films over the last two days, but I think I want to talk about the film Sleuth - at this point, a good film buff would ask, which one? Because there are two Sleuths, both starring Michael Caine, and both based on the play of the same name by Anthony Shaffer. 

I saw the newer Sleuth (2007) last night which stars Jude Law and was direct Kenneth Branagh - who has directed a few Shakespere screen adaptions, so another play to screen adaption should not come as a surprise. Whilst the play was adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter - who also appears in a little cameo in the TV show Michael Caine's character watches. 

Meanwhile the old Sleuth (1972), which I have also seen years ago, starred Laurence Olivier, was directed by Joesph L. Mankiewicz and the play was adapted for screen by the playwright himself, Anthony Shaffer.

Because both films are based on the same play, they both have the same plot - two men, an old crime author called Andrew Wyke agrees to meet the young man who has run off with his wife, Milo Tindle, at his mansion. Milo wants Andrew to divorce his wife so he can marry her, however it is not that simple - and instead the two men descend into a deadly game of wits. 

However, despite this, as is pointed out in the Wikipedia entry for new Sleuth film, the two films are very different, and I agree with said Wikipedia entry that the new Sleuth is not a remake of the old one.

The new Sleuth changes tack and plot about halfway through, and the mind games take quite a different turn. In the old Sleuth the games were all about murder, but in the new Sleuth the last game revolves around Milo flirting with Andrew - and  I found Jude Law flirting with Michael Caine quite creepy indeed. 

The old Sleuth was very much about murder and theatre, whilst the new one is more brutal, in language and even set design. Though the use of light, effects and angles in the new one is rather good - I particularly like a mirror effect that is used at one point. 

Another thing I must mention is how good, and how scary, Jude Law can be when he plays crazy. I once assumed that, for that some reason, he went in for pretty boy roles. But that was before I'd seen him in a proper film. In recent years I have changed my opinion, after seeing him in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009), I Heart Huckabees (2004), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and now in Sleuth I have to say, he's a pretty damn good character actor, who doesn't seem to be afraid to go for the more unusual roles. 

Anyway, to summarise - I thought the new Sleuth was alright, but I found it harsher than the old one. It had much more swearing, darker tones, cold, clinical sets and I found some of the scenes hard to watch. Personally I find the sinister but quaint 70's Sleuth film more to my tastes. 

Nonetheless, those are just my opinions and I'd urge you to see both films and decide for yourselves, with only one piece of advice. That you view the films as two different takes on the same play as, I think, believing the new Sleuth to be a remake of the old one made me have certain expectations. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Scene 20: Examples of Documentary

It's very late, so I am not going to write a full proper post tonight. However, I have seen a lot of interesting  TV today that I shall review tomorrow. For the moment though, may direct you to two excellent documentaries I've just seen on BBC4:

Pandemic: A Horizon Guide - which uses the conventional documentary style of voice-over, cutaway clips and talking heads with captioned names below.

Surviving Progress - which uses more artistic and stylistic approach in the way it shows its clips, and does not use the traditional captioning of someones name on-screen when they're first shown.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Scene 19: Traveller's Wives and Lost Empires

Today I saw most of The Time Travellers Wife (2009) and Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). When I say most I mean large chunks, or rather came in halfway through, but I did see the complete films from beginning to end - my sister was watching them you see and I flitted in and out of the living-room, watching bits and then going. 

Both films were good, but not great. I thought the animation style in Atlantis generally looked nice, I liked the use of blue light and the design of the writing and symbols. But the main characters sometimes looked to angular and awkward for my tastes, whilst the whole thing sometimes felt too Saturday-morning cartoony. The plot was rather simple too, and there was at least one plot hole in there - for example, if the crystal feels in danger why take a host? How does that help the crystal protect itself? 

The main attraction of Atlantis though was the voice cast. It had Michael J. Fox voicing the main character, Leonard Nimoy as the king of Atlantis and John Mahoney, who played Martin Crane in Fraiser, as the old rich man funding the expedition. However it doesn't quite match the Disney classics like The Lion King, and now I think of it, Atlantis didn't contain any songs. 

The Time Traveller's Wife, starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, was better, though it would have helped if I'd seen it from the beginning. It had believable performances in it, good affects and was generally a good weepy film that tugged on your heart-strings. However, there were one or two plot holes in it.  

Anyway, those are just my opinions. Check out the trailers, and perhaps even check out the films, and tell me what you think!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Scenes 18: The Artist Returns

I saw something rather exciting in a shop this afternoon -  The Artist (2011) is finally out on DVD and for sale! 

For those who may have forgotten, The Artist was the black and white tribute to silent films of the 20's and 30's that won loads of awards at the beginning of the year - including five Oscars, one for Best Picture, one Best Director and one for Best Actor, according to  this BBC article.

I saw the film when it came out in The Kinema in the Woods, which is an old kinema that has been around since the 20's - the perfect setting for a silent black and white film!

The film is directed by Michel Hazanavicius and stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo; and tells film the story of how a silent film actor is affected when the film industry moves into sound, whilst a young girl he accidentally bumps into gets into the movies and rises in fame. 

Michel Hazanavicius has worked with Jean Dujardin before on a couple of films about a French secret agent called OSS 117 - France's answer to James Bond, but without much of a clue, according to the trailer - which rather funny. Check out the trailers below. 

Just one more thing before I finish this post though. I am afraid I was wrong about Doctor Who series 7 being broadcast late this summer. I have just found out the next series starts on the 12th of September! I have no idea why its starting so late, they are filming the Christmas episode now after all, so the 7th series should be in the can. Oh well, just have to wait a bit longer than expected. My brother is counting down - 100 days to go! 

Friday, 1 June 2012

Scene 17: Doctor, Who's that Girl?

Just a quick post to say that photos are now out of Jenna-Louise Coleman playing the Doctor's companion in the Mail Online

Jenna-Louise Coleman is going to be taking over the role as companion to Matt Smith's Doctor during the Christmas episode, and this article hints that her character may be called Clara, though most of the information is being kept a secret. 

Meanwhile of course, we are still waiting for the seventh series of Doctor Who to appear (I almost said materialise there...) later this summer. Normally the series is broadcast in late spring, early summer. 

I am also looking forward to next year, which will be the Fiftieth Anniversary of Doctor Who, which should hopefully mean something big! Though so far the BBC has done a very good job of keeping a tight lid on what they'll be doing, though there are rumours abound of course - the latest one to be panned was whether Benedict Cumberbatch would be the next Master - have surfaced. Meanwhile some people have been wondering if they'll do a multi-Doctor episode like they did for the Five Doctors. 

I guess we'll have to wait and see...