“It’s called a hustle, sweetheart.” The resolutely difficult advice to follow.

To celebrate getting a PhD scholarship, I did what any normal adult would do. I went straight to the movies (one of my favourite things to do) and went to see Zootopia (or Zootropolis as it’s called in the UK).  YOLO.

During the movie, it became clear why I had been patiently awaiting the release of this movie.

The film takes place in the vibrant, diverse world of Zootopia, a place where predators and prey live together in harmony, and are free to be whoever and whatever they want to be. These reasons are precisely why the land attracts Judy Hopps, a small bunny with dreams of being a police officer. Living on a farm, her parents fear this because, not only has a bunny never become a police officer, but they feel Judy should confine her aspirations to selling carrots on the family farm because that’s what is expected of her by society, something Judy has no interest in doing.

After successfully – but through hardship – completing police training, Judy is thrust into the force alongside other, more muscled animals such as rhinoceroses, rams, bulls, and elephants. Oh my.

Judy’s boss, Chief Bogo , a buffalo, forces her to be a “metermaid” while the other animals take on the bigger crimes, specifically a case involving fourteen missing predators. Judy tries to show herself by issuing over two-hundred citations in just a couple of hours, but to no avail, as Chief Bogo wants to make sure she knows her place on the Zootopia police force. When Judy winds up catching a weasel after robbing a store, she is just about to be fired when Chief Bogo tasks her with finding a local otter who has been missing for over a week. If she can find the otter in forty-eight hours or less, she can keep her job, but if she doesn’t, she’ll be forced to resign. Judy enlists in the help of Nick Wilde, a fox, one of the most looked-down-upon predators in Zootopia, who has been doing number of odd jobs since he was young, after blackmailing him in order to get him to cooperate. Together, the two work to find the otter, but in turn, discover something bigger. Oh my.

As you can probably tell, this is a film about both racism and sexism and underlying that – social-class (my favourite chip-on-my shoulder)  & how fear creates hate. Screenwriters Jared Bush and Paul Johnston carefully construct a world, predicated upon a particular dream, and within that world, populate it with a variety of characters, some labeled as normative, others quietly labeled as the enemy that many are waiting to step out of line. Bush and Johnston pen Zootopia carefully, but bluntly, to the point where you can’t ignore its profound, but simple message of inclusion and acceptance of peers. Oh my.

But on top of this, is the message about not giving up on your dreams, pushing boundaries and always attempting – no matter how hard it seems – to make the world a better place, no matter how small that thing is. Don’t let society dictate to you what they think you should be doing, if that’s what you really want. Always fight against the status quo.

I love movies with messages like this. Like Eddie The Eagle, who constantly shows us – it’s not about the triumph in life, it’s about the struggle. It’s about doing what you love, and not giving up in the face of immense adversity. Eddie The Eagle is another movie that shows the  working class character (based on truth this time) stick 2 fingers up (metaphorically, through determination) at the elitism of Great Britain Olympics Committee and whilst doesn’t win any medals, he wins a place in our hearts because he amplifies what it means to keep going.

Part of me sees my life narrative reflected in these hollywood-poetic license stories.  I think sometimes people think I’m exaggerating what I’ve been through in my life. From homelessness, domestic violence, i’ve had to be a carer, i’ve done some amazing travel, endured crazy poverty, the amount of jobs i’ve had to work to make ends meet or to do what others just naturally have the opportunity to do, life-altering (chronic) illness, terrible accidents (mostly on bike), fires, ect, ect. It’s all true. The good shadows the bad, but the bad has been pretty horrific – and I know many people from my background are enduring much worse. And society allows for this to happen, or to continue the unfairness that propels it further, or makes it difficult to get out of.

It gives me this weird -bittersweet – perspective of the world. I have my weight in empathy and in understanding how exploited and unfair and socially unjust our society is & how all the structures are generated to helping middle class and beyond people success, whilst discriminate those with less and working-class & below..  I think this kind of understanding probably only becomes so cemented when you experience life from the other side. Or see how your friends on the other side live.

I’m grateful to be alive,  I’m blessed to have all my friends, I’m just so lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had and to follow what I love (art) & people pay me to do it for them & for the support I’ve had along the way & currently on this journey. I’ve visited many countries now because my university education allowed me a passport to see the world and work in different cultures.

 And literally, 17 year old smizz, or even current Smizz,  would never ever, ever, ever really  would believe i’d be here.

I’ve always felt a bit kind of behind everyone else, you know – in everything – art, radiotherapy, academia, life. Like a bit of an outsider, and a bit stupid. I’ve always had this chip-on my shoulder about the background I’ve come from & everything I’ve had to do to get where I am compared to a lot of my friends and peers. That i’m not as articulate, as likeable & as quick as others,  and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to compete. The world loves talent – but pays in character. And I kind of have neither.

And so it felt fitting, to celebrate my next chapter watching Zootopia. And Eddie the Eagle.  It reminds me that to “succeed”, we have to take risks.

We have to take bold leaps and move forward, brave and scared shitless at the same time. We will undoubtedly fall flat on our face. It happens. But we learn, make adjustments and not fall as hard or as far the next time.

But when we fail to trust ourselves to take that leap in the first place—that’s the real problem. It becomes an excuse to indulge our fear: to believe that we are not in fact talented or worthy enough— to believe that our crappy yet comfortable circumstances should win. This particular lack of momentum is called “Business As Usual” and it can continually crush our plans for greatness.

We don’t fail by falling. We only fail when we stop taking the leap. The idea is from Rumi’s observation, “Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it?
They fall and falling, they’re given wings.”

Keep going. Keep jumping, keep falling. Don’t let others, or society imply, what you should be doing and how to do it.

I’ll try and remember this too.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 01.55.34

Advertisements

Smizz’s top movies from 2015

So each year I do my top 10 movies. 2015 has been a great year for females. So many strong female-led movies. And it’s about time!

I love going to the movies, i love the anticipation of waiting to see a movie. However, this year I didn’t get much opportunity to see as many arthouse flicks as I would have liked, and this top 10 list reflects that. Now, each movie in my top 10 has a place – for it’s individual reason. So it might not be the *GREATEST* movie of the year, but it certainly achieved something for me in an area such as character development, or dialogue, or cinematography. ect. Sooo wasting no more time.

 

furyroad2

10.) Mad Max: Fury Road.  Unhinged, high-octane vehicular mayhem. A tough-as-nails postapocalyptic feminist heroine bitingly portrayed by Charlize Theron. (And hey, Tom Hardy was pretty good too as the titular hero.) A crazed ride into a monumental, lightning-etched storm with the pedal all the way to the metal while a war boy howls “Oh, what a day … what a lovely day!” Unforgettable movie moments are made of this. And to think the picture was made by a director in his late 60s. George Miller, you are the (aged) man for the ages.

 

rooney-mara-therese-carol-movie

9.) Carol. A breath-takingly beautiful cinematic journey of a forbidden love. Filmed as if an Edward Hopper painting had sprung to life, its mood washes over you in an evocative mix of opulence and despair as it dizzyingly dances with the forbidden. Some of the best scenes are filmed from the perspective of a person looking through a car window. 2015’s best romance.

 

 

01-05-2015-12-39-38

8.) Tangerine. This movie feels the most 2015. Shot entirely on iPhones and with a budget that wouldn’t cover cab fares on a blockbuster, Sean S. Baker’s indie dramedy makes virtue of necessity. Compelling filmmaking, too, in this Sundance sensation about transgendered sex workers, a pimp, cabbie and angry mother-in-law in lowdown L.A. Doing whatever it takes to make the invisible, visible.

 

jlaw-joy-slice

7.) JOY: Joy can be viewed as a modern day rags-to-riches fairytale. It’s Cinderella without the prince. In a way, that’s part of the film’s charm. Sure, there’s preposterous dialogue, but there are also so many electric sequences that made me lean in, smile, & care about a mop. It does give hope showing that no matter how one does struggle in life miracles of success are possible, so don’t read all the bad reviews and assume otherwise.

 

steve-jobs-biopic-780x555

6.) Steve Jobs. Side-stepping arguements about the accuracy of the biopic, the real achievement here is making cinema out of material that isn’t even a stage play as much as very expensive radio: a battery of dialogue, unbroken by reflective pauses or even, on occasion, the actors drawing breath. The staginess of the movie is its greatest benefit, allowing the characters and the dialogue to shine. Boyle, however, is not a director to be contained in dry rooms, and he allows this theatrical drama to move, via music and editing, into the realm of real cinema. It may be stagey, but make no mistake, it crackles and moves like a motherfucker.

 

spy

5.) Spy. Now i love a good comedy, but great comedies are hard to come by these days – and I feel like there’s less and less comedies being made due to their hard task. Spy makes making seemless comedies look super easy to make. Feig keeps his Spy machinery cranking so smoothly that nothing said or done feels as outrageous as, in fact, it is. McCarthy is the star of the film, but her willingness to let her fellow actors shine when an opportunity knocks to give the audience a belly-laugh is clear, and it’s the undeniable strength of the supporting cast that makes Spy a strong a film.

 

one-use-amy-film-2

4.) AMY. I was taken aback by how well an thoughtful this documentary was made. Watching Kapadia’s film, it is possible to see how badly she was let down by the male figures closest to her. it’s the music that suddenly feels monumental because somewhere in that dark stream of rolling notes and rumbling minors, we can hear the eternal soul of human sadness turned, for a brief moment, into something undeniably beautiful.

 

6-25-2

3.) Inside Out. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s one of pixar’s finest. It takes a long walk down an infinite pier of personal identity in,  an animated tour of developmental psychology that captures the pain of growing up using primary colours and Amy Poehler’s voice.  As for visual style, it’s dazzling, flouting CGI’s tendency to photorealism in favour of overt cartoonishness in a 1950s retro vein, together with a refined exploration of light: the emotions are composed of fibrous bundles of luminescence.

 

45_years_ausschnitt2-en

2.) 45 Years. An inner drama, taking place inside the characters. There are no heroes or villains in this film. Shot with loving attention to the silent vistas of the English countryside, 45 Years conveys a sense of isolation, of two people being together yet growing apart, a dream that has been shattered, and a lifetime of security undermined by a moment of doubt. It is a thorny subject but beautifully told with gentleness and love. Plus 2 outstounding performances.

 

 

martian-gallery13-0

1.) The Martian. I actually can’t stop thinking about this movie. A fan of the book, I wasn’t sure how the motion picture would compare, and indeed make the main character-likeable. But yeah, there’s flaws. But there was something about The Martian that captured the 12 year old in me. Damon makes the most of this “me time”, engaging our interest, winning our sympathy and teasing our anxieties about his perilous predicament. Whilst the most surprisingly element about this movie was the screenplay.  What makes the movie unique to me was Watney’s optimistic point of view. He believes that he isn’t going to die on Mars, and this transforms this rather depressing situation into something comical instead, engaging us with many self-help survivalist discoveries. But when you really think about it, this is a very personal film about some people coming together to save somebody. That’s it. And in today’s world, it’s nice to hear an story about people coming together to save one of their own. It might take all the romance out of Mars, but substitutes in its place science, cooperation, and human perseverance. PS: You should read the book too – and check out the author’s videos on how everything is correct including the astrophysics!

Godzilla : A case study in the practice of safe ionising radiation protection

So, for my friends birthday he wanted to see Godzilla. I was skeptical. The only Godzilla I’ve liked previously was the one on the Chewits advert. Naturally, I wasn’t expecting much, but it turned out to be surprisingly watchable, and dare I say it, enjoyable. Some core character developed moments almost make you emotional. Although some felt rushed, and too many good characters killed off too soon.  I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil it for you – but this WILL contain SPOILERZ.

 

But as I watched it, I found myself easily suspending my belief in  prehistoric dinosaur-like-characters hidden underground and oceans near radioactive earth materials, but couldn’t believe at all that people would be ok and survive mass total body irradiation exposures.  That’s what studying radiobiological physics does to you, clearly.  

 

Before studying radiation oncology, I knew some radiation was bad, such as ionising radiation. But I didn’t know why it was bad, and the limits of it and just how much is really bad.  Using Godzilla as an example, I am now going to briefly (and super basically) try and use it as a case study on what effects a person may have if exposed to this radiation in real life, using key-research data from Medline, Scienceproxy, PubMed, ect, and from government bodies and legislation based from evidenced based practice & research.  

 

Radiation, like whaaaat?

Firstly, we are surrounded by radiation. Of all sorts. Such as light, radiowaves, mircowaves and so forth. This is non-ionizing radiation. It’s relatively safe and rarely causes damage to tissue. However ionizing radiation is different. We’re exposed to low-dose ionizing radiation coming from lots of places, such as cosmic rays, soil radioactivity, environmental contaminations, and medical interventions such as having an x-ray. Ionizing radiation comes as photons, x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, ect. Radiation with sufficient energy can ionize an atom by knocking out an electron from the shell of an atom, creating a positive charge. This ionization causes damage by breaking chemical bonds. Since a cells main component is water, when ionizing radiation strikes, it breaks the H20 chemical bond creating an oxide-free radical, which causes indirect damage to the cells DNA. (Fun fact: This makes Oxygen a radiosensitizer!) 

Image

 

 

But here’s the tricky part. We have no idea if there’s a minimum safe ionizing radiation dose. The chances are, there isn’t a safe exposure because any interaction with ionizing radiation *could* cause cancer in the future. The probability of occurrence depends on the absorbed dose and the severity is independent of the absorbed dose too. A threshold doesn’t exist. That’s the point. It doesn’t matter whether  you just had a CT scan or was a character in Erin Brokovich. This is called stochastic effects. The effects of any exposure, no matter how small, and the consequences of this small exposure are random. As a result, a lot of radiation protection is designed around investigating and protecting us from unnecessary exposure which could cause genetic damage. YOLO. 

 

However, we do know that there are deterministic effects which WILL happen at tissue tolerance dose exposures. Severity of deterministic effects depends on dose. And unlike with stochastic effects, with deterministic there’s a threshold. And this is where Godzilla comes in. 

 

The biological effects of radiation can be divided into two categories:

a) acute effects

and b) latent  (chronic) effects.

 

Acute effects

There are three types of acute effects of radiation:

1. Haematopoietic syndrome
2. Gastrointestinal syndrome
3. Central Nervous syndrome

 

The relationship between acute effects and absorbed dose are listed below:

Symptoms

Absorbed dose (Gy)

No Apparent symptoms 0.5 – 1.5
Light degree of radiation sickness, nausea and vomiting, temporary reduction in white blood cells, light degree of haematopoietic syndrome 1.5 – 4
Severe radiation sickness, serious damage of the blood forming organs and damage in gastrointestinal system at high dosage 4 – 6
Acute radiation sicknesses become apparent. Major clinical syndromes are damage of the gastrointestinal system (death) 6 – 20
Damage of the central nervous system with severe pathological developments (death) Tens of gray

 

(source from: http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/understand/health_effects.html )

Image

 

 

CHRONIC EFFECTS

Chronic effects are seen at 6 months + from the exposure. It consists of two categories: somatic effects and genetic effects. The former refers to the effects occur on the exposed individuals (e.g. cataracts, radiation sickness, cancers, etc.) while the latter occurs in their future generations because of mutations of the genetic cells.

 

Taking all this information, we now look at Godzilla (2014 version).

 

Radiation Protection at all times, yo!

Opening scene, we see Breaking Bad dude fixating over some crazy readings (tremors) at the nuclear power-plant that he works at. He’s worried people won’t take him seriously. My first reaction is like whaaaaaattttttt? Any incident needs to be reported. The other nuclear power plants in the area aren’t reporting it either. 

Image

Then he sends his wife down to check it out. (bad move, dude). And then something happens, and he wants the guy to put the doors safety on override. The guy’s like, “I can’t do that!” But does it anyways. It’s fine man, let the radiation out. 

Image

 

Then, you know some pipes burst. And there’s some sort of nuclear explosion happening which is chasing them up the corridor. At one point the pipe bursts on them, i’m assuming this would be radioactive or REALLY hot. But the people seem to be relatively unfazed, not burnt, just  a bit shocked. 

 Image

 

 

So the Breaking Bad dude stands there, hoping his wife is going to make it before this radiation, cermet, probably REALLY hot cloud of hot mess radiation gets to him. At this distance if it is full of radioactive substances, the guy will be exposed to it. We’re assuming this cloud is full of high-intense ionizing radiation, as in air it can produce a visible blue-purple glow from ionizations. Just as it looks in this screenshot. 

 Image

 

At this stage, the dude has really exposed himself. There is no doubt about it. I would argue that this would be enough exposure for vomiting in hours. Maybe hair loss in weeks to come. At the very least. His blood levels would have dipped and normal haememoposis would have been badly disturbed/disrupted. Get this guy some medical attention as he may have had acute radiation poisoning (he doesn’t in the movie though). Not to mention the radiation exposure he has leaked into the rest of building.

Interestingly, take note of all safety procedures in place. These doors are built to with stand neutrons and other crazy high level particles. He still has control at the door for emergency shut/stop.  Would we argue that this long corridor should have been a maze? 

Image

 

Then if that’s not hard enough, all the people and his wife are there.  Behind the door. He knows he can’t open it, plus the safety manual over-rides aren’t allowed, probably, and he can’t just press open during an emergency. Here all these people are very energetic, they look ok. I would argue that even though they’re wearing protective clothing, it wouldn’t be enough to with stand this amount of exposure. I would expect radiation burns, fatigue, and nausea if not vomiting.  She then takes off her mask?! I mean, like whoa girl. These people will probably die within hours without medical attention. 😦

Image

 

Then the poor kid has to watch the power plant collapse. All these residents are going to get some sort of radiation exposure. Studies in radiation biology show that “a single radiation track (resulting in the lowest exposure possible) traversing the nucleus of an appropriate target cell has a low but finite probability of damaging the cell’s DNA.” (cox, 1995) Subsets of this damage, such as ionization “spurs” that can cause multiple damage in a short length of DNA, may be difficult for the cell to repair or may be repaired incorrectly, creating potential for a future cancer. 

Image

 

and his teacher has just left him, unaccounted for, in the class room. Is this really real safety evacuation procedure? She should have made sure that all the children left the classroom together.  If we take evidence from Chonobyl, then these kids could increase their chances of developing thyroid cancers since the exposure can cause an intake of radioactive iodine fallout. 

Two radionuclides, the short-lived iodine-131 and the long-lived caesium-137, are particularly significant for the radiation dose they can deliver to members of the public after an explosion/irruption of a nuclear power plant like the one in Godzilla. 

Image

And this is just the first 15-20 minutes of the movie! I won’t go through the whole movie as I don’t want to spoil it for you. But basically throughout the whole movie, we consistently see people being exposed to & handling high levels of radiation toxic materials and continue for days without seeking any medical attention and are absolutely fine. 

 

What can we learn from this?

 

Things are in place to make sure that we are exposed to the very least of ionizing radiation. IRMER (2000) has set rules and regulations that we all follow in Medicine and IRR for radiation exposure in industry and in general. The most important thing we can take from Godzilla in regards to radiation protection is that any abnormality, any question regarding the integrity of safety and quality needs to be reported and assessed and operations should seize to be investigated until everything has been OK’d. 

Also, don’t like, try and tempt monsters with nuclear weapons just 20 miles off the coast of a major city (San Fran). Like, are you guys foh serious? That’s some bad-ass-decision making. 

 

Image

 

 

References:

Dynamics of Cellular Responses to Radiation – 2014-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983039/#!po=6.00000

 

US Environmental Health Agency – http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/understand/health_effects.html 

 

Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2 ( 2006 ) 

 

 Cox, R., C.R. Muirhead, J.W. Stather, A.A. Edwards, and M.P. Little. 1995. Risk of radiation-induced cancer at low doses and low dose rates for radiation protection purposes. Documents of the National Radiological Protection Board, Vol. 6, No. 1, p. 74.

 

Effects of radiation –  http://www.radiationanswers.org/radiation-and-me/effects-of-radiation.html

 

Chernobyl disaster facts & figures – http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/chernobyl-accident/

 

IRMER 2000 -http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/1059/contents/made

Smizz’s Top 10 Movies of 2013

This year has been hard, like REALLY hard to pick out good top 10 worthy movies. I’m not sure what’s happening out there – but this year has seen a whole-lot of a bunch of  films that were just kind of “Meh”- They were enjoyable, but did it give me any food for thought, or awe inspiring writing or cinematic technique or emotion to deal with afterwards, did they play with genre  or make you think about how far we’ve come or where to go as a human race? Nope. Not many did. Maybe I just didn’t see the ‘right’ movies, but I’m hoping that 2014 will bring some great ones! However, here’s some that did stick with me.

 

1.) Stories We Tell

A documentary that I’ve only just seen, to sneak in high at number 1, this subtle, heartbreaking documentary masquerades as a straightforward family memoir about Polley’s long-dead mother. However, “Stories We Tell” gradually becomes something else, an inquiry into the nature of memory and reality, a love letter to Polley’s English-born dad (who narrates the film), a puzzle box with unanswerable questions about how we become who we are at its center. Polley’s touching documentary wallows in greatness both in cinema and emotion.

 

2.) 12 Years A Slave

Steve McQueen has created another masterpiece. Unsettling and formally rigorous, Steve McQueen’s fact-based tale of a free black man sold into slavery in the 1850s puts America’s darkest secrets on screen for the first time. 12 Years A Slave is so good it makes “The Butler” look extremely poorly made. It’s dark and raw, it exposes everything, without sugarcoating it. Beautifully shot and edited, the film features moments of tension, heartbreak.

It’s noteworthy that a British director has become one of the few filmmakers to delve deeply into this subject, and the combination of John Ridley’s powerful script and McQueen’s directorial skills has inspired exceptional performances from the entire cast. Their dramatization of Northup’s experiences is both riveting and uncomfortable to watch, as the film depicts the perverse nature of a society that permitted such a barbaric system. Hopefully it will reach a large US audience, who will learn how a privileged Southern elite cruelly exploited their fellow humans in order to acquire greater wealth for themselves. Masterful.

 

3.) Philomena 

As someone whose heritage lies in Ireland, and whose grandparent was raised by nuns and spent years and year working as an advocate for the rights of adopted people and survivors of Irish Magdalene Laundries, I’m always prepared to be either underwhelmed or angry at the film industry’s ineptitude with subjects like this (and lots of other subjects to be honest!). Steve Coogan deserves utmost respect for producing and writing this film (and let’s face it, needed this from his poor movie based on Alan Partridge earlier this year). His script is excellent, consistently witty and engaging on the surface whilst spinning many more layers beneath the surface which became unconsciously stirring. Faultless acting, always engaging. A gentle, funny, heartbreaking and unforgettable film – no matter how far from its “true story” it might be.

 

4.) HER

Theodore Twombly  is letter writer #612 for the company “Beautifulhandwrittenletters.com.” He essentially spends his days crafting poetic, poignant, and personalized communications for other people’s relationships. You can’t find a more dynamic and compelling story about the human connection and where we’re headed as a society. Johansson’s Samantha is sexy, open-hearted, sympathetic, witty and loving – — and guess what,  she’s also the operating system on Theo’s computer, in Spike Jonze alternately wistful and whimsical near-future rom-com, a lovely and slightly troubling vision of utopia. This is probably the best of Jonze’s career so far, and maybe deserves higher praise and wider distribution that it’s currently getting. (Also, whoa, that moustache).

 

5.) The Place Beyond The Pines

This is a strange movie. A movie of a story of trashy criminals and dirty cops evolving into one about fathers and sons and life.   A life is not just about your life but those you affect and those you leave behind for years to come. he film went for editing and filming styles to echo the characters’ situations and actions. You can guess what that would look like when Gosling is racing through the forest on his motorcycle. But as we approach the more expansive ending, there are some beautiful shots of the trees lining Schenectady’s countryside roads. That works particularly well with Cooper giving a remarkable performance of Avery constantly coming to grips with his life.

It could have been tightened up a bit, but “The Place Beyond the Pines” isn’t telling a quick story. It’s telling the story of multiple lives, of death, family, love, honour and obedience. Employing overall themes of revenge, ambition, and what it means to be a father, and a son.

 

6.) Short Term 12

20-something supervising staff member of a foster care facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend. Contrary to its title, the effects that Short Term 12 leaves you with are anything but short term. In what has become one of the most personal films of 2013, it’s extremely hard to write a review for them.  Destin Daniel Cretton creates a film which the characters render the deepest and darkest corners of your heart, while never being melodramatic. It’s  a real gem, that totally caught me off guard.

 

7.) Before Midnight

Years ago, before doing education through #hashtags was a thing on Twitter, in my 3rd year of Art School we used to host E-Crits. Each week one of us in class would host a crit on MSN (yes, MSN and this was even after MSN was a thing) – this was an E-Crit. Like an online reading/seminar group. Extra credit of course. I did something on space, architecture and skateboarding and revolutionary potential based on an essay by Henri Lefebrve.  My friend Jamie made us watch Before Sunrise which was in 10 minute clips on YouTube at the time and we was to discuss that. I’m not sure what we really discussed. However if it has been Before Midnight, I’m sure the e-crit would have been lively full of studious observations of amazing character development and dialogue.

Before Midnight is the 3rd sequel part to Before Sunrise, and Before Sunset, and comes in 9 years later! This film is easily the best film of the franchise so far. Packing an emotional and euphoric punch like third-installments like Toy Story 3 do , films that have a close-nit relation to their predecessors but saving all the masterful speeches and epiphanies for the viewer to indulge in their finales. The film doesn’t take any cheap shots with every scene constructed from real emotion and feeling incredibly authentic and genuine. There are long takes for the viewer to be present whether it’s in an airport conversation between Jesse and Hank or at a lunch with in the beautiful valleys of Greece or even in a hotel room where a man and a woman share intimacy like older lovers typically do.

The film is breathtakingly accurate and precise in capturing the love and relationship of couples, it will and should be studied by film schools and writers for years to come.  Everything’s better with maturity.

 

8.) Spectacular Now

From the writers of 500 Days of Summer (one of my favourite movies!), which we all know wasn’t just your average love story, comes a seemingly average love story in The Spectacular Now. But it isn’t very average, and that’s the beauty of it.  It’s a heartfelt story that distills all of the beauty, tenderness, and apocalyptic bleakness of youth into a 95 minute love story that portrays teenagers in the most honest way since the films of John Hughes.

Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber make this a surprising tone piece, one that is more concerned with the loquacious behaviour of teens rather than the raunchy behaviour. The film showed how one’s addiction to the bottle can compromise their life.  Much of the film operates on deep, character emotion, so attaching an ending that neatly packages things up would’ve been a complete contradiction to the film’s focus.

This is an important movie for teenagers, and a well deserved kudos to actually making something that is full of substance and never trivialises real life.

 

9.) We’re The Millers

I know what you’re thinking, how on earth did this get into ANY top 10 list of the year? Are you serious Smizz? Well, perhaps it was how off guard this movie caught me with how good I thought it was! I went to the movies expecting some shit, but I wanted to see some empty-leave you feeling a bit better-shit anyways. But what I got was not only the feel good factor I was hoping for but much more!

It’s not a gold mine of comedy by any means, but it did the job it told us it would do: Make us laugh and give us a fun ride. They really brought together a dysfunctional family and did it in a way that allowed for some suspension of disbelief. A lot of comedies nowadays have those hit or miss scenes where you either laugh, or you just can’t suspend your disbelief. We’re The Millers is pretty much a compilation of those kinds of scenes that hit just the right tone to pull it off as funny, clever and it just kinda grows on you.  Ultimately, a solid comedy and that’s worth noting!

 

10.) This Is The End

Although ‘This is the end’ does not have the greatest storyline in the history of film, it is a very inventive movie in its own way. It was at times self-indulgent, absolutely bizare, and even lazy. There’s still something about this movie if it appeals to your sense of humor. I wouldn’t say the plot is non-existent, but it certainly isn’t developed enough to pay much attention to it. The movie is rather a collection of gags with typical American humor, which is exactly what you would expect from anything created by the duo Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg. This is the End’ contains a fair amount of satire on the posh world of show-business and it’s enjoyable seeing all the actors and actresses not taking themselves too seriously and playing themselves as sometime extremely unlikable characters.

 

Smizz’s Top 10 movies of 2012

It’s that time again where I try and judge what’s the best movies that came out and why. However, I apologise in advance that there are some of my guilty pleasures in here which probably would never make an official top 20 list, never mind a whole top 10!  And there is no mention of the Hobbit, or Skyfall  or Dark Knight – blah, blah, blah. You can catch those reviews else where. But never the less. I hope you enjoy & treat yourself to some of these movies, if you haven’t seen then!

 

10) PREMIUM RUSH

In pure style, I’ll start of with a biased Smizz guilty pleasure choice. Premium Rush, featuring the ever sexy Joseph Gordon-Levitt (probably why it fits in to my top 10) who is a sexy, fixed gear bike riding courier in NYC. EVERYTHING smizz LOVES. Bikes, Joe & NYC!

An action movie about biking through the streets of Manhattan is certainly an interesting idea, and may seem a bit silly, but writer and director David Koepp manages to create a fun and exhilarating film around this premise. Premium Rush is the type of movie that gets better as it goes on, expanding on its characters and creating riveting and never tiresome chase scenes. Premium Rush never takes itself too seriously, and neither should you. It’s fun, adrenaline pushed, basic at times – but it’s nostalgic directing style seems to hit it, amazing research and detail about bikes and most of all representational of riding life in the bike-lane. No breaks!

 

9) LOOPER

Uh-oh, another Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie. Stick with me, guys. Looper’s director Rian Johnson has removed  doubts and given me hope that sci-fi in Hollywood can be more than just empty spectacle. Looper is all about dealing with the implications of time-travel, although it is very much a film about the past. The film is all about the past, how it affects the present and the future and how it drives people with the majority of the film building characters and establishing plot.

Looper is a film that goes to extraordinary lengths to leave every base covered in its quest to avoid plot holes and inconsistencies and in my mind it deals with the problems associated with time travel very well. The writing and direction are superb but another strength are the acting performances. Details from  the future cities contiuing to be expanded upwards and outwards but they themselves are filled with tent cities in which a large vagrant class live are current, and believable.  Life is cheap and hard in this world in which the have’s and have not’s are much more separated than today.

There is enough in the film to make to world feel as though it is our near future and the technology on display feels as though it is a few logical steps along the road. It is well designed and acted and features a wonderfully multifaceted and intelligent story which rewards patience and concentration with a fantastic ending.

 

8) FRANKENWEENIE

There was a time when Tim Burton was systematically churning out great, original, quirky movies that endeared him to the general public and earned him a large amount of die-hard followers who hung on to every last idiosyncratic trademark. But recently, we all sigh at the same crap-kola Burton has been bringing out recently – which are adaptions of books and so forth – not his original ideas.

However, I was relieved to see Frankenweenie and thought YEAH Tim’s back on form! While the movie does not really develop its characters deeply and sometimes drops certain plot lines we would have liked to see more of, it makes up for it tenfold with the thing that Tim Burton has more of than anybody else: imagination. So many moments in this movie are truly original, clever and, best of all, funny. “Frankenweenie” is a giant tribute to old horror flicks, set against a sweet story of a kid and his dog.

 

7) ARGO

We already know that Ben Affleck is better as a director than an actor. He tells a story uniquely with his own cinematic art and style. In Argo, this is a new challenge for him. Making a large and historical drama thriller. Argo is based on a declassified true story about Tony Mendez rescuing six US diplomats from Iran.

After speaking to his son while watching a movie one night, Mendez had a creative yet genius idea. He and the escaped hostages would pretend to be the film crew of a new sci-fi movie called “Argo”. With the help of Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Arkin), this fake crew made their story quite credible.

What’s impressive is it can balance its various tones decently without being a mess. Outside the storytelling is a solid craft. The film looks credibly retro. They obviously wanted to make everything look the same to the real life story. Argo is simply a classic. No matter how ridiculous the premise sounds, it’s still undeniably smart and spectacular.

 

 

6.) PITCH-PERFECT

2012 has seen a lack of great, funny movies. Sure there’s been 21 Jump Street (which was a surprise hit with me) but a serious lack of decent comedies. Take Bring It On, Glee (not in the icky cheesy way, but because there’s singing involved, the good kind), Mean Girls, and add some quick-witted, sharp-tongued dialogue and commentary, and you have the funniest of movies.

At first I was leery: a movie about A Cappella singing groups; I thought at best, it would be a teen flick. But, I was unbelievably surprised. Every kind of humour is covered here, and done to absolute perfection. You will be adopting many, many of the lines into your daily lexicon. If you liked Bridesmaids, i think you’ll dig this!

 

 

5) DETACHMENT

Detachment technically is a movie from 2011, but didn’t get a release in the UK until 2012. Its one of those films that leave you sitting in silence for a while when the credits roll much like excellent Dramas like “Requiem for a dream” or “Downloading Nancy”.

On the surface “Detachment” deals with the crumbling American education system through the eyes of substitute teacher Henry Barthes (played by Adrian Brody) who starts a new assignment in a new school with new teachers, in a new class with new pupils like he is obviously used to.

The beginning shows him trying to get into this new class around the bullies threatening him and other pupils, making it hard to teach anything. At first it looks like all those “good teacher turns around a bad class” movies but its not. It’s grim stuff, made more grave by the undeniable ring of truth.

The ancient Greeks tell us “we suffer our way to wisdom.” By the end of the film, you’ll hope that is true for most of these characters. Somewhere on screen, between a silent hug and the opening lines to Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher,” you will find a glimmer of hope. But you have to work for it. A powerful and disturbing (but necessary) film.

 

 

4.) BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

You probably have never seen anything quite like “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. It is a film that will have you thinking about the love between a father and a daughter, about appreciating what you have in life and our ability to adapt to whatever comes at us. Quvenzhané Wallis is certain to beat Anna Paquin and Tatum O’Neal out as the youngest best actress nominee in history.

This movie is an unique vision that sweeps viewers away with energy, attitude and a full, vibrant, sense of life. Containing outstanding performances, great cinematography, and a fantastic score, the film is just so engrossing. Do yourself a favor and check it out. “When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me flying around in invisible pieces.”

 

 

3.) SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN

Thank you, Malik Bendjelloul, for giving me the opportunity to hear this amazing story. Thank you, Camilla Skagerstrom, for showing how much stunning cinematography can add to a story about a poverty stricken man from Detroit.

I was super lucky enough to see this at Sheff Doc/Fest this year. Would I have seen it otherwisE? not so sure! Which would have been a travesty  If like me, and you didn’t know the story, I’ll give you just a little background. Rodriguez, a song writer/singer in the 70s was ‘discovered’ by a couple of white guys, in a smoke filled Detroit dive bar. (His music reminds me somewhat of Bob Dylan’s) A couple of albums were produced in the U.S.….the albums didn’t make it big….in fact, not many sold. Rodriguez went back to working his day job and that was the end of that. However, in the very isolated South Africa, Rodriguez’s music became a phenomenon compared to Elvis or the Beatles. His music was a solace for so many Africans fighting the war on Apartheid. Rodriguez didn’t know anything about the South Africa portion of his story. “Searching for Sugar Man” is a documentary made about two South Africans searching for information about a mysterious American songwriter, who had a huge impact on their lives, but no one seemed to know anything about.

This IS a real fairy tale. One you have to see to believe. One that can restore your faith in humanity, and possibly change the way you see fame and fortune. One that will remind you that you never know how far reaching your daily actions may be. Fingers crossed for an Oscar nomination for this!

 

2.) UNTOUCHABLE

Intouchables, directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, starring Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy is possibly the best French movie of the year. This is not because of a lack of worthy contenders, but truly because Intouchables is that profound. It touches on themes of presumptions, social class difference, health, and as naïve as it may sound, the universality of humanity.

Sy is a failed robber, going through the motions and playing the stereotypical jobless émigré. Cluzet is a romantic and melancholy mind trapped in a useless body. The circumstances that bring them together are too funny to spoil here, but meet they do, and an awkward relationship quickly blossoms as they bring out the best in each other.

The film’s simplicity is delightfully misleading: the script is a masterpiece of comedy writing, and however good the rest of the cast is, the central duo is magical. This is one of the most unique, beautiful and honest friendships ever committed to film. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry… a delightful celebration of everything in life that makes it worthwhile.

 

1.) PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

I was so taken aback by this movie, EVERYTHING about it, that I saw it 3 times at the movies.

The story is very simple yet complicated because of how much goes on. But the way it unfolds is beautiful and sad, sometimes all at once. While it has its funny moments, it also manages to go through dark topics as well such as homosexuality, drugs and death. Stephen Chbosky handles his story very well, never feeling like it’s being forced but rather it flowed nicely and carefully.

Directing wise, it was shot very well. The cinematography is gorgeous, especially the scenes where the camera overlooks the skyline of Pittsburgh and during intimate scenes between the characters. You could not get anyone better to direct it other than the author himself because this is his book. This is his vision so he knows exactly how it goes in his head and we can see throughout the film, just how much his vision has truly come alive. The result is both engaging and satisfying.

The musical score is done by Michael Brook who’s also responsible for Into The Wild, another favorite of mine, and he did a very good job. The soundtrack is awesome. Along with Mr. Chbosky, Alexandra Patsavas, who’s also the music supervisor for The OC, did a great job of picking out the songs and treated it as if it were a mix tape.  What makes the cast so special is the chemistry. Everyone got along so well and you can tell that they’re very comfortable with each other and you feel convinced that these people are really friends thus you actually care about the characters and what happens. It was absolutely perfect.

Just like a darker John Hughes (compliment), it is infinite in it’s awesomeness.

“I don’t know if I will have the time to write anymore letters because I might be too busy trying to participate. So if this does end up being the last letter I just want you to know that I was in a bad place before I started high school and you helped me. Even if you didn’t know what I was talking about or know someone who has gone through it, you made me not feel alone. Because I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen. And there are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening, I am here and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite.”

Best of the Week

 

I’m still feeling ‘under the weather’. (A saying that I sort of don’t get – think about it). Had my first ever ct scan on Friday. It was kind of cool, in a technological & expensive but this is still free on the NHS wonderfulness kinda thing! Mane, I love the NHS!

It’s been 2 months and a half since I started having bone ache, feeling really tired, night-sweats & since we found out 3/4 weeks ago – an enlarged spleen. And i still have all of this! Not going to lie, I’m so pissed off with my body that whatever it is, isn’t shifting or revealing itself in an obvious way so we can treat it. It’s really affecting my quality of life (tiny violin, please).

Regardless, I’m really busy at the moment (exactly why the fatigue is annoying me & my productivity). I’ve under taken a new project. More details soon. Gravity is becoming a big thing. I might even be promoted next academic year to researcher as apposed to research assistant. Yeah! Not going to jinx this though. I’m doing this video thing in 2 weeks for SOAR. I need to put the finishing bits on to some of the drawings for them before that. I have my ongoing collaboration with PhD awesome Harriet Davis, and my other collaboration with Abi Goodman from the Site Gallery Residency is starting to come together – we just got invited to present our practice at this conference thing. (Details in previous post). In addition to this, I have just got my new contract for sheff doc/fest – AMAZING. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity again. So I’m working on the drawings for the awards – and the Live illustrative mapping is gonna be DOPE this year at the festival. watch this space. I’m gonna work so hard for them, like even harder, because I’m so thankful for this experience again

Also, I send off for my USA work visa this week so I’m ready for when my Temporary contract is up! Boom. Who said i wasn’t organized?

Speaking of being organized. I’ve given myself a strict work schedule so I can get all my freelance work done & to a high standard whilst working my day job  under my mystery illness. If this goes like I hope it will, dude, my art-practice is gonna be like worrrrdddd! WORK!

Best of smizz:

CURRENTLY:

Listening:

The Very Best of Dina Carrol

Hoodie Allen

Reading: 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce

How To Be A Woman (still) – Catlin Moran

Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Postdemocracy – Hito Steyerl

Blogs:

http://thiscitycalledearth.tumblr.com/

http://bromo-aj.tumblr.com/

http://tinywrld.com/

http://threeguysheadingwest.tumblr.com/

http://nationalgeographicmagazine.tumblr.com/

http://readvertise.wordpress.com/

http://roadtripsmizz.tumblr.com/

Watching: 

Existential cat is existential

Modern Family

Have I Got News For You? New Series

Movies:

Like Crazy

Motherhood

Be Kind Rewind

Other movies that didn’t make the top 10 list

Other movie’s that didn’t quite make my list but are just as good, and that you should check out if you get the chance!

The King’s Speech

Midnight in Paris
The Fighter

Attack the block

Contagion
Never Let Me Go

True Grit

Hugo

 

Take Shelter

Super 8

One Day

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Friends With Benefits (seriously, surprisingly well written)

Moneyball

The Shame

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Tryanasourus 

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

We Are Poets

MELANCHOLIA

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

Blue Valentine

Limitless

Source Code

Drive

Leap Year

 

Sorry I missed some.

 

 

Smizz’s top 10 movies from 2011

You know it’s that time of the year, where I share with you my contradictory taste in movies: Some are high-brow, whilst others have amazing elements but with bland under-tones and some are well – just classic-cheese-fests!

Wasting no more time with over-baring introductions:

Number 10:

Submarine

If you’re an Arctic Monkey’s Fan, then you most certainly would love the soundtrack. A not-as-enjoyable-dark-british-remenaistant version of 500 Days of Summer. Loosey based on Joe Dunthorne’s novel, Submarine tells the story of Oliver Tate who is caught at the junction between childhood and adulthood as he struggles with his first feelings of love, desire, heartbreak and must choose what path he wishes to take that’ll define who he is for the rest of his life.

but what makes Submarine so special is Richard Ayoade’s ability to capture the essence of growing up; the joy, the optimism and the tenderness alongside all the angst, confusion and depression too. The ups and downs of this British comedy are mainly due to Ayoade’s wonderful screenplay and direction that are touching yet never slip into sentimentality – he often playfully pokes fun at it in many cases – but what also deserves credit are the poignant score by Arctic Monkey’s singer Alex Turner, the cinematography that effortlessly shifts between comic framing and beautiful imagery and the note-perfect performances by the entire cast.

Rock-on-for independent indie brit movies!  You’ll like it if you like Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze directed movies.

Number 9:

Win Win

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a sucker for a movie where a kid with no direction who comes from a horrible upbringing, gets sort of ‘saved’ by a stranger.  The difference with this movie compared to the whole archive of Hollywood ‘diamond in the rough’ stories is the plot and characters themselves.

It’s a tragic comedy that comes out on top: like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. We love those movies because they’re about eccentric, witty people whose foibles are made less than tragic, their dialogue hypnotizes, and their personas seduce. Then comes Win Win, not as ingenious or innovative as those films but a winner in its own right because it embellishes little while it stays real and lovingly humane.

Mike (Paul Giamatti) is approaching a mid-life crisis; the monotony of daily life and money troubles colliding. But this is a well written film and it doesn’t look or feel like a mid-life crisis. Mike starts acting like a sleazy lawyer just to make some easy money, even though he’s anything but a sleazy lawyer. Because he’s a good guy, realities quickly catch up, and he starts taking responsibility for a troubled kid. Mostly trying to assuage his guilt of wrong-doing, but this kid happens to be a wrestling phenom and Mike is a struggling high school wrestling coach. But like i said, the movie is well-written. Producing less of a Underdog Sports kid story, but more  of a movie that reminds us that family goes well beyond blood relatives; family is the constantly evolving circle of people that we love and care about-in a less-cliche way.

Win Win is one of those few comedy’s that actually make sense and has a barbaric touch of honesty, but leaves you feeling better and happier at the end of the movie than when you first started watching!

Number 8:

Page One: Inside the New York Times

Extra, Extra! Tweet all about it!  Was that just a cruel joke i just made? Sure was. As a person who loves journalism of the high-est calibre, real – raw – important in all aspects, thought-provoking and new and old, I was immediately impressed to see that this was showing at Sheffield Doc/Fest this early summer.

Let me start by saying that you need not be a newspaper expert, reporter or reader to appreciate the points discussed in this documentary from Andrew Rossi. These key points include the battle of print vs social media, the need for true reporting, and the sustainability of the venerable institution that is The New York Times.

There is some argument given towards what constitutes journalism, but for me the real guts of the matter boils down to our absolute NEED for investigative reporting. I have always given value to bulldog reporting as a checks and balances for our system. Maybe, just maybe, our public officials and corporate leaders will toe the line if they are being watched. Sure, we can all rattle off a long list of when that hasn’t been the case, but I truly believe, having reporters following and snooping does make a difference in the actions of those in charge … and even if it doesn’t, it certainly makes a difference in the accuracy and depth with which their actions are written about.

The filmmaker has been given substantial access to the media desk inside the newsroom. We even get to sit on a portion of the morning meeting where the senior editors decide what the lead stories will be. Personally, I would have loved a couple more hours of just that! But just as fascinating is how Bruce Headlam manages the media news, and in particular, star reporter David Carr. Mr. Carr is a hardened reporter with the spectacular ability to cut directly through to the important point and focus on the details, verify those details, and then summarize in a concise, understandable manner. We see this in full beauty with his handling of the crisis and scandal at the Chicago Tribune under Sam Zell’s banner.

The bankruptcy trail of so many newspapers is discussed, along with the possibility of this happening at The Times. Personally I wish more detail had been provided on the survival strategy of this institution. Since the release of the film, there has been a change in the Executive Editor position. Bill Keller, who is featured prominently in the morning meetings, has stepped down and been replaced by Jill Abramson.

Gritty, indepth, emotional, relevant and exciting: everything you need from a cool documentary about one of the most iconic newspapers in the world.  It’s not often that one will actively seek out and pay to see a documentary TWICE within one month.  A must see, and documents the feel of 2011 very well. It will make you champion your local/national/international journalists (but not the ones who work for murdock – obvz)!

Number 7:

Bridesmaids

Number 7?! Really? Yeah! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Judd Apatow Fan, quite the contrary. I know that this movie was a love-hate thing with critics and audiences, but I think a part of it is that people are just stuck up their own ass.

Bridesmaids proves that women can be as raunchy as men releasing the ridiculous upon audiences in original fashion backed by heart. Kristen Wiig has finally proved that she is much more than the goof seen on Saturday Night Live jumping to the top of the comedy genre brining the buddy comedy to the feminine arena.

Bridesmaids differentiates itself from the rom-com stereotype with the clever cliché-free scriptwriting of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. No matter how outrageous the jokes become, they are smart, fun and unbelievably believable. Consequently, the film controls the outrage allowing the humor to improve the story and support the almost perfect Apatow cast. For example, Melissa McCarthy acts like a complete idiot racking up the laughs giving male raunch a run for its money. However, the stand out performance and the best performance of an actress this year so far comes from Kristen Wiig’s multidimensional melding of comedy and drama.

How do you complain about a movie as unique as Bridesmaids? Well first audiences expecting to see a chick flick have no idea what they are getting themselves into and if they cannot take the raunch it is going to be a painful two hours. Also, while the film is titled Bridesmaids, viewers may expect a story based around more than one woman, when in actuality it is not. Even so, the only real problem with the film is its song and dance happy ending, undermining what could have been a great finale. But you know. Whatever. Give yourself a  real laugh!

Number 6:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two

Is it too obvious? Yes. Does it deserve a place on ANYONE’s top 10 movies? Probably not, except perhaps a kids? Despite this, we can not allow this moment to pass: An incredible journey that began a decade ago (boy do I feel old!) finally arrives at its close with David Yates’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II”, as ‘The Boy Who Lived’ comes face to face with ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named’ in an epic showdown between good and evil. And what a showdown it is- tense, thrilling, breathtaking, and fitting of just about any superlative you can think of.

It’s by far the best in the series (with the exception of Chamber of Secrets), the art-direction superbly done and Daniel Radcliffe has finally sort of learnt how to act so that he is finally likeable! (too late daniel! too late!).

Whereas the first instalment of the ‘Deathly Hallows’ emphasised the profound sense of loss and isolation among Harry, Ron and Hermoine, screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Yates leaves behind the moody atmosphere of the previous movie for newfound immediacy and urgency. This is all about that final battle where only one can live, and from start to finish- for once in a Harry Potter movie- the action is swift and relentless.

Unbelievably there are some scenes that work better than the book (really!) One of course is the horrendous but poetically done angle of Snape’s death. It almost feels like all the good ideas from the series were reserved for  the most emotional moment in the film for Severus Snape’s (Alan Rickman) vindication, long thought to be the Judas Iscariot-equivalent in the Order and the one who pushed Dumbledore to his death. Yates delivers a truly poignant and deeply heartfelt revelation of Snape’s true colours, and it is a farewell that even those who have read the book and can expect what is to come will be overwhelmed by its sheer emotional muscle. While Part II was always meant to be an action-packed spectacle, it is to Yates’ credit that there is still as much heart as before in the storytelling.

We all know how the story ends, and lets face it, we all love that in the last scene – 10 – or however many years later – the way they have made the characters look old is bad stubble, and comb-overs. LOLz!  If Harry Potter – a book and movie series that has grown with me for almost 14 years (I’M OLD!) can’t have a place in the top 10 for its significance than what else can?!

Number 5:

50/50

There seems to be a theme building up here. Tragic-dark-comedies with uplifting outcomes. Also, I’m not saying I love this movie just because I HEART Gordon-Levitt, but it was certainly a factor within.

“50/50” puts an end to all those X-Factor sob-story style half unknowing movies about Cancer. Written semi-autobiographically by cancer survivor Will Reiser, it would seem it takes one to write one. Although cancer drives the entire story, the story doesn’t fixate on cancer or melodramatize the terrible truths we already know about potentially fatal illness.

The acting is superb by both leads, the parents of Adam played by Angelica Houston and Serge Houde are portrayed effectively and in a loving way, and the screenplay and Johnathan Levine’s direction never fails or works against this film in any way. Three years prior he was creating good chemistry between Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck in The Wackness. Now, he’s finally mastered in creating two characters that do nothing but sparkle when on screen together. You can’t really call this a Seth Rogen film because while his comedy is here, his underlying sweetness shows through the cloth of this film more than it has ever done before.

Thanks to a wonderful third act in terms of direction and screenplay, you get an all out emotional breakdown from the characters and yourself. 50/50 has a way with making emotional moments not seemed contrived, but welcomed. A potentially disastrous idea turns out to be both hilarious and poignant.

It turns out, the secret to fantastic film making is, a good script, great actors and balancing act that doesn’t take advantage of an audiences emotional vulnerability. One more thing, did I say  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it? 😉

Number 4:

Arthur Christmas

I sort of feel like I’m wasting such a high position to a kids christmas movie: but then I remember that Arthur Christmas deserves this!

There have been many movies over the years where Christmas must be saved from disaster, but Arthur Christmas has a very creative take on it. From the opening scene where it’s established that Santa is really a dynasty through the centuries, a title handed down from father to son, to the paramilitary operation to get millions of presents delivered in one night, to the misadventures of Arthur and his grandsanta as they try to make sure one little girl is not disappointed, Arthur Christmas is fun, creative, and original. Produced by Aardman Animations in association with Sony Pictures Animation, this CGI animated film delivers Aardman’s distinct brand of quirky humor and style.

The moral message may be gooier than the centre of a toasted marshmallow, but the gag rate is high, the animation is perfect and the voice cast of James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton are splendid. Mix in a plethora of hidden jokes for the adults and you couldn’t ask for a nicer movie to get the whole family into the Christmas spirit.

Aardman productions totally go nose-to-nose in my mind, and this movie with it’s great brit sense-of-humor is watchable outside of the christmas period!

Number 3:

The Help

So, it turns out that some of this years best movies are adaptions from books. And like every adaption (most recent notably – One Day – it’s hard not to compare against – so I’m not).

Oscar Oscar Oscar – Kathryn Stockett’s beautiful book is Oscar worthy in this film — for editing, screenplay, supporting actress (several deserving) – Emma Stone just shines – at just 22 years old, this film proves she is a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. There are so few roles written for black women and I was thrilled to see such great roles filled by Viola Davis (Abigail) and Octavia Spencer (Minnie) – both should be nominated for supporting roles although in my opinion, along with Emma Stone, all three share top billing.

The character development in this movie is really outstanding (thanks to the book!) – I hate movies with flat single dimension characters and these from the lowest to those with the most screen time are just remarkably developed – even the newspaper editor, the lines they chose for him to keep gave you enough information that even he is a memorable character with only three scenes, maybe 4 in the entire movie. Same for Stuart, Skeeter’s love interest – you actually like him then hate him and he only has maybe 3 minutes of air time. Great great job.

This movie sets out beautifully a terrible time in our history that unfortunately is not over – it is better, but not over by a long shot. You FEEL the heat, the tension, the pain, the injustice of the time but still you laugh with them even as you cry for them – both races – ignorance is to be wept over. Never dragged once for  a 2.5 hour movie, your last thoughts, there’s a book? I DEFO want to read it now if the movie is THIS good!

Number 2:

The Artist

I got  a chance to see this on one of those SHOWFILMFIRST screenings.  I was tempted by the title – oh The Artist! And remembered that I had heard some talk of it from Cannes. I had no idea it was indeed Black & White AND silent! What a treat to have! A real new black & white movie!

Jean Dujardin deserved his Palme D’or for his captivating and wonderful performance. Where to start…this film is so clever, so beautifully crafted, so mesmerising. The lost art of the silent film is once again brought to life and that era is impressively recreated, whether it be the acting style, the sets, the locations (shot in Hollywood), the shimmering black and white photography. It is obvious to see that the people behind L’artiste respected that era of film making and wanted to recreate the magic with some modern touches ( I won’t spoil them) and totally succeeded.

The Artist asks the question – how does one make that transition from silent to talkie? And then proceeds to answer using the silent/black and white techniques of those first pictures…absolutely brilliantly.

Number 1:

 The Tree of Life

It’s a tough decision. I’m left with the guilt of not putting other movies: worthy of a top 10 place, such as Drive or Super 8 or more independent foreign movies.  But it came down to this:  The Tree of Life.

writer/director Terrence Malick does not play fair. First of all, what director makes five films in 40 years? Who makes a film about CREATION, life, evolution, spirituality, death and existence? What director seems to thrive when no real story is needed to make his points? How can one director so mess with the viewer’s head through visual artistry never before seen on screen? The answer to these questions, of course, is Terrence Malick.

Any attempt to explain this film would be futile. It is so open to interpretation and quite a personal, intimate journey for any viewer who will free themselves for the experience. What I can tell you is that much of the film is focused on a typical family living in small town rural Texas in the early 1950’s. Brad Pitt plays Mr. O’Brien, the stern disciplinarian father and husband to Jessica Chastain’s much softer Mrs. O’Brien.

It really sweeps over and through you, and takes you on a trip of introspection. So many human emotions are touched – the need to be loved, appreciated and respected. It’s a contemplative journey that you can either take part in or fight. My advice is to open up and let this beautiful impression of all life take your mind places it may have never been before.

 

 

SLAM JAM PART 5 (CAKE) AT BANK STREET ARTS, 16TH MARCH 2011

SLAM JAM PT. 5! Sheffield, slam poetry night at BANK STREET ARTS


It’s been a while since our last SLAMJAM. This time we are teaming up Bank Street Arts (directions on the website www.bankstreetarts.com )in Sheffield.

This is YOUR moment to SHINE.

For those who aren’t familiar with the SLAMJAM format.

EMAIL us (cake.artgallery@gmail.com) or message on facebook/twitter! for a place to do your

SLAM/
POETRY (any type)/
PERFORMANCE/
PRESENTATION/
YOUR-THING
or just turn up on the night, and be inspired by the AWESOMENESS of the nights performers & audience, as it is an OPEN-MIC format.

Some selected highlights thus far:
Spencer Hale (NYC);
James Prescott (SHF);
Matt McAteer (CHST);
Along side many other funky people. Be sure to book your space!

And of course, like all good things, there will be
MUSIC, FUN-TIMES, CHEAP-BOOZE
and lots of networking and catch-ups!

NOT TO BE MISSED. And like all great things in life, IT’S A FREE!

Thanks to BANK STREET ARTS for this opportunity.

 

CAKEEVERYONE.COM