Cinema City Film Quiz #149

[30 August 2015]


Winning Team:
No Instructions Needed
Genre – Wyldstyle and Emmet master build while eating Copen-Haagen Dazs

Runners Up:
Bricking It
Genre – Surprising Lego Movie sequel where Will Ferrell’s character defecates a Lego model of the Eiffel Tower whenever he is startled
Unleash The Kragl… With Sexy Results!
Genre – Bawdy comedy starring Will Ferrell as a man dealing with impotence
The Lego Movie 2: War ‘N’ Piece Of Resistance
Genre – A period drama with Lego
Three Men And A Little Blondie
Genre – Former Blockbuster employees and one husband and Blondie
Das Flip Flop
Genre – A German U-boat crew go on holiday
Steam Boat Willies
Genre – A mouse and a boat that goes toot toot toot!


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the title of the 1988 film in which Tom Hanks plays a 12 year old boy who wishes to be big?
BIG
2. What colour is Belle’s ball-gown in Beauty And The Beast?
YELLOW
3. The character Indiana Jones debuted in which film?
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
4. Complete the title of this 2011 film: Rise Of The Planet..
OF THE APES
5. Who directed Memento, The Prestige and Interstellar?
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
6. In which film did Robert De Niro play the role of Vito Corleone?
THE GODFATHER: PART II
7. Which actor appeared in the following films, Dead Poets Society, One Hour Photo and Good Morning Vietnam?
ROBIN WILLIAMS
8. What was the title of Martin Scorsese’s biopic about Howard Hughes, starring Leonardo DiCaprio?
THE AVIATOR
9. Miss Congeniality, starring Sandra Bullock, was released in which year?
2000
10. How many Marvel Cinematic Universe films were released before The Avengers? (bonus points for every instalment named)
FIVE (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America)


ROUND II: Filming [The Lego Movie special]
1. Which superhero is dating Wyldstyle? Batman? The Shadow? Black Panther?
BATMAN
2. Which of the following actors did not voice a role in The Lego Movie? Liam Neeson? Tim Robbins? Morgan Freeman?
TIM ROBBINS
3. What is the first realm Emmet visits after leaving Bricksburgh? Pirates Cove? Cloud Cuckoo Land? The Old West?
THE OLD WEST
4. What is the name of the company that Lord Business runs? Octan? Roxxon? Envoy?
OCTAN
5. What is the title of the successful TV series that appears throughout the movie? The Big Bang Theory? Where Are My Pants? Are Those My Feet?
WHERE ARE MY PANTS?
6. What is the name of the 8 year old boy? Billy? Jaden? Finn?
FINN
7. Which of the following characters is not noted as a master builder? Raphael? Robin Hood? Swamp Creature?
RAPHAEL
8. What is the last line of the prophecy? And change our world forever? All this is true because it rhymes? The End?
ALL THIS IS TRUE BECAUSE IT RHYMES
9. What is the first law of the sea? Rouse a hearty crew? Never wipe with your hook hand? Never place your rear end on a pirate’s face?
NEVER PLACE YOUR REAR END ON A PIRATE’S FACE
10. The character Vitruvius is named after a Roman architect as the word architect derives from the Greek for master builder. True or False?
TRUE (arguably chief builder)


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Cera, Ducky, Petrie, Spike and Littlefoot are characters in which film?
THE LAND BEFORE TIME
2. Who scored the following films, Terminator Salvation, Men In Black, Scrooged and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure?
DANNY ELFMAN
3. What is the title of the 2004 film about Alberto Granado and Ernesto Guevara taking a trip from Argentina to Peru?
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
4. Phil Connors learns to play which instrument in Groundhog Day?
PIANO
5. In The Addams Family, Fester loses his memory and adopts what alias?
GORDON CRAVEN
6. How many samurai make up the title group in Seven Samurai?
SIX (Kikuchiyo is not actually a samurai)
7. Complete the following quote from Star Wars, “This is the weapon of a Jedi knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster”
AN ELEGANT WEAPON FOR A MORE CIVILISED AGE
8. Chinatown is set in which US city?
LOS ANGELES
9. What colour is Emilio Estevez’s top (both hoodie and jacket) in The Breakfast Club?
BLUE
10. Describe the last shot of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
MARION’S CAR BEING PULLED FROM THE SWAMP


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. On a film set what is the Swing Gang’s primary function? Set decoration? Stunt performance? Costume maintenance?
SET DECORATION
2. Which actress appeared in Almost Famous, Elf and The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford? Mary-Louise Parker? Zooey Deschanel? Kate Hudson?
ZOOEY DESCHANEL
3. When Totoro first appears to Satsuki, in My Neighbour Totoro, he is sheltering from the rain by wearing what on his head? A bowl? A newspaper? A leaf?
A LEAF
4. Which of the following did not appear in the 1962 WWII film The Longest Day? Richard Harris? Robert Mitchum? Richard Burton?
RICHARD HARRIS
5. What is Frank’s (Will Ferrell) old college nickname in Old School? Frankfurter? The Tank? Spanky Frankie?
THE TANK
6. The following quote is from which film, “The burden of proof is on the prosecution, the defendant doesn’t even have to open his mouth”? To Kill A Mockingbird? The Client? 12 Angry Men?
12 ANGRY MEN
7. Babel takes place in four countries, which of the following is not one of them? Algeria? Mexico? Japan?
ALGERIA
8. Who co-directed Singin In The Rain with Stanley Donen? Cecil B. DeMille? Gene Kelly? Danny Kaye?
GENE KELLY
9. Which of the following films did not receive a single Oscar or Golden Globe nomination? The Exorcist? Sleepy Hollow? The Shining?
THE SHINING
10. The remake of Oldboy made more at the box office than the Korean original. True or False?
FALSE (2003 – $15mil / 2013 – $4.9mil)


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Alice In Wonderland / The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement / Brokeback Mountain
Poster: Bride Wars
Actor: Anne Hathaway


STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

The World’s Most Dangerous Times Created The World’s Most Dangerous Group

Director
F Gary Gray

Starring
O’Shea Jackson Jr
Corey Hawkins
Jason Mitchell
Paul Giamatti



Set in the gang afflicted neighbourhoods of Compton, California, Straight Outta Compton wastes no time, introducing us to the individuals who would eventually form the gangsta rap group NWA and the daily injustices and intimidation they are subjected to by the police. With aggressive ‘reality rap’ as their only real outlet Dr Dre [Hawkins], Ice Cube [Jackson Jr], Eazy-E [Mitchell], MC Ren [Aldis Hodge] and DJ Yella [Neil Brown Jr] get together to put out a single entitled Boyz N The Hood. The record is a huge success, with people identifying with the cutting lyrics and Motown-influenced sound. As their reputation grows, Jerry Heller [Giamatti] approaches Eazy, offering to represent the group and be the face that “gets them into the buildings to make the deal.” Eazy, acknowledging that the industry would be unwelcoming, takes Jerry’s advice close to heart; much to the chagrin of the rest of the group. NWA’s success kicks off almost overnight and soon they are touring the country but not every city is happy to have the group play songs like Fuck Tha Police, which they believe insights hatred and encourages violence toward the police. Outwardly, the group are going from strength-to-strength but tensions between Cube and Eazy over Jerry’s influence and the lack of watertight contracts proves too much and things quickly start disintegrating.

The first thing to note is the spectacular casting. I wasn’t aware that Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr, was playing the role of his father so I spent most of the film transfixed, trying to figure out how they found someone who resembled Cube so completely. Then I found out the answer was genetics but it’s still damn impressive. But the same goes for each role cast, the leads give absolutely mesmerising performances. The camaraderie feels real, the tension feels real, the regret feels real, it’s just a case of a very strong script being delivered by extremely talented, largely unknown actors. Admittedly this does highlight the downplaying of MC Ren and DJ Yella’s presence in the group – which is pretty criminal. I appreciate the drama of Eazy, Dre and Cube’s lives are potentially more interesting for audiences and they are names that people are at least somewhat familiar with, but it still means you’re neglecting the input and influence of essentially a quarter of the group. Then there’s Paul Giamatti who, in my eyes, can do no wrong. Sure, he can feel like he’s just playing the same weasely role over and over but he does it with heart and finesse, that even up until the final confrontation you still believe he may have Eazy’s best interests in mind. In the hands of a lesser actor or someone who played it straight-villain, there would be no room for doubt and you would despise him from the get-go.

F Gary Gray has had a career marked by peaks and troughs. For every decent film he’s made, he’s punched out a turd. And yet every shot, scene and development in this release is masterfully handled. You only have to watch the opening scene to understand that – but I’ll expand more on that later. The cinematography is rich, the editing is brilliantly paced, the soundtrack pounds and flows with period-appropriate tracks, the overall production design, recreating the late 80’s/early 90’s is subtly poignant without feeling overly forced. Covering the battering ram invasions, FBI investigations, the LA riots and the spread of HIV, everything seems to come together so ‘beautifully’ to recreate this very vivid and dramatic time in America’s history.

As much as the award season is always littered with biopics, they are deeply flawed productions. We can all appreciate that certain exchanges may never have taken place and that several elements or individuals need to be condensed or amalgamated for narrative purposes but even the best releases get something massively wrong or simply ignore it outright. In this case, Straight Outta Compton’s biggest (possibly only) misstep is the treatment of women. It’s extremely well documented that several members of the group married, re-married, had kids, paid child-support etc but the fates of these women and the families generated is rarely touched upon. Furthermore, Dre’s outbursts at people like Dee Barnes got him in a lot of trouble and the absence of these elements is very circumspect for an honest tell-all feature.

Parodied rather well in Walk Hard and Chaplin (of all things), there is an awful habit that biopics, wherein scenes laced with familiarity (album titles, famous cameos, label names) characters nonchalantly ask what the next album will be called before someone looks off into the distance, the music swells and the immortal words are uttered. It’s bullshit of the highest order. Anyone involved in any creative process knows that no matter how smooth the process, very few people will announce every good idea like it’s a guaranteed timeless success. Part fan service, it’s an admittedly necessary part of the history of these moments but there’s got to be a better way of conveying the magnitude.

Quibbles aside, Straight Outta Compton is a magnificent and surprising release which is both an impressive example of filmmaking and exemplary storytelling. A lot of biopics, especially ones centred around music, tend to suffer due to the subject matter, with audiences immediately staying away if they don’t like the music (that would be me and country music) but this film holds up above and beyond the music. So whether you enjoy hip-hop or not, this film must be seen.


Release Date:
28th August 2015

The Scene To Look Out For:
The story opens in a shady part of Compton in 1986. A young Eazy-E is distributing drugs only to get held up by those inside. Despite his less than intimidating stature, the young man doesn’t back down, knowing that if he returns without the money, he’s as good as dead. Before either party has to back down, a signal is given outside, informing the neighbourhood that a squad of armed police with a ram-raiding armoured car are approaching. Everyone panics, hiding drugs, guns and other illegal items. Eazy bolts around the house, trying to get out before the police burst in. And when the police arrive they arrive hard. The ram takes half the house with it, sending one of the occupants flying. It’s a brutally honest portrayal of how excessive force was deployed regularly by the LAPD on their own soil. And as the film progresses, we learn it’s just the first of many examples.

Notable Characters:
To my mind, the two absolute standout performances jostle between Mitchell and Jackson Jr as Easy-E and Ice Cube. Mirroring the talent of their counterparts, these two actors dominate the screen whenever they grace it and when sharing time, seem to quietly compete for our attention. That’s not to say others aren’t up to par but for individuals who have had so little mainstream presence, they prove they are more than capable of holding their own.

Highlighted Quote:
“Our art is a reflection of our reality”

In A Few Words:
“Easily the best musical biopic released to date, combining compelling artistic conflict with societal outcry, disease and oppression. A true snapshot of American life in the late 80s and early 90s”

Total Score:

5/5

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

A Little Friendship Never Killed Anyone

Director
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Starring
Thomas Mann
Olivia Cooke
RJ Cyler



Thomas Mann plays Greg Gaines, a self-loathing socially awkward teenager with a love for classic cinema. Terrified of rejection, he doesn’t like to assign labels and while he has a connection with every social group, he doesn’t belong to any of them. His only friend is the eponymous Earl [Cyler] with whom he makes parody versions of the films they enjoy. Through his mother, Greg learns that a fellow student Rachel [Cooke] has been diagnosed with leukaemia and she guilts him into spending time with her. Greg begrudgingly capitulates and slowly builds a friendship with the young girl. Through this process, both teenagers get to know one another but Greg still refuses to label them as friends. As Rachel’s affliction worsens, Greg abandons his schoolwork to spend time with the titular ‘dying girl.’

Channelling the works of Michel Gondry, Wes Anderson and John Hughes, Me And Earl And The Dying Girl is a bit of a surreal mix between the extremely impressive and honest 50/50, the offbeat Be Kind Rewind and the rather manipulative The Fault In Our Stars. But to separate itself from all these releases, it adds a thick layer of self-aware narration to make the overall subject matter more palatable. This presents two troubling issues. First off, the nature of cliché is constantly being questioned by the independent scene (thus the mainstream will catch-on eventually) leading to a wealth of fourth-wall-breaking and execution of tropes undermined by acknowledgment that its very presence is a cliché. This doesn’t always work. I mean, it can be very cleverly utilised and even in this release it’s handled well at times but overall it just reminds us that the script resorted to a tired narrative development that we’ve seen time and again but shrugged its shoulders and smiled as if to say “Yeah, I know but what are you going to do?”. Secondly, all these comparisons with directors and previous releases needs to be highlighted because while it comes across as initially quite complimentary, it is in fact a point of contention. Imitation being used to describe something is acceptable but it’s only when there is no comparison to draw that you have something genuinely special (positive or negative).

Before I get on to the acting itself, I have to highlight the way in which the students are written; in essence, something feels a little off about the lack of genuine awkwardness these kids demonstrate. There are plenty of high school based releases but achieving an accurate representation of interaction always requires a little suspension of disbelief. This almost always comes down to the fact that even the cute, shy bumbling feels a step further than how teenagers actually manifest their messy, warped, self-involved perspectives. The teenage characters connect with a self-awareness that really only presents itself in your early twenties and serves to dampen the otherwise realistic portrayals and long tracking shots of over-talking or silence. I mean, I appreciate that certain kids like older, avant-garde films (I was one of them) but being able to replicate them so cuttingly doesn’t strike true. Much like Wes Anderson characters, these quirky individuals are just too idiosyncratic to be real, existing in the same fictional realm as the cool gangster or the hot girl in an action film. These are elevated fictional fantasies which bear no real semblance to the average human being. Sure, arguing the authenticity of this escapism is a bit of a petty blow but it’s a valid point of contention that needs to be addressed.

Staying with the characters for a second, I’d like to discuss Earl. Despite being a title character, Earl is a bit of an unexplored oddity. He’s easily the most interesting individual but serves as the wise sidekick stereotype, who keeps schtum until something poignant needs to be said. I appreciate this is the story of a young man dealing with the diagnosis of a stranger who becomes a friend but considering the importance Earl plays in Greg’s life, he’s kept at arm’s length. The script tries to cover this multiple times by highlighting a deeply-rooted psychological phobia that prevents Greg from attaching labels to anyone, to ensure they cannot reject him but the script also keeps Earl at arm’s length. This is an individual who is very socially closed off but extremely savvy as to how everyone interacts. He clearly comes from a different background to his friend but also seemingly to the entire school, purposefully ostracising himself for whatever reason. On top of that there is a healthy amount of cameos and small supports from well-known actors, all of whom perform commendably but without any real memorable impact.

The direction is novel, energetic and clearly inspired by similar independent directors, equally the editing and cinematography are wonderfully handled but this isn’t the kind of release that falls back on the technical aspects. Case in point, the score is the same washy, folky, independent twanging that you’d expect from this kind of film. I’m not a fan but bias aside, it’s rather typical and serves as yet another obvious cliché that could have been sidestepped. Again, the acting is solid and distracts you from the flaws in the writing but the flaws are still there and while you leave the film feeling entertained, it doesn’t take too much reflective thought for the cracks to show.


Release Date:
4th September 2015

The Scene To Look Out For:
Visiting Rachel in the hospital, Greg bemoans his mother’s hounding him to apply for a college and like many teenagers, he has no real idea how to deal with telephone-directory-sized list of possibilities. Believing he is acting foolishly, Rachel forces Greg to apply to Pittsburgh State. He does so but with an air of charming childish impudence, completing the application in the style of Werner Herzog. It’s a decent impression and one which is very accurate to the bleak ranting of the acclaimed director. And to top the whole thing off, it’s undercut by a simple throw-away line that ruins the whole jovial mood.

Notable Characters:
The two lead characters are very impressive. I’d like to include Earl in that list.. but.. see above. Taking a break from sideswiping us with quirky camera angles and amusing on-screen titles, the film holds a steady uncut shot of Rachel and Greg having a genuinely heartfelt and cutting conversation that proves without a doubt that they are more than capable of holding a scene without quick cuts or gimmicks.

Highlighted Quote:
“You’re in boring Jewish girls, subgroup 2a. Please appreciate how honest I was with you”

In A Few Words:
“Well-made and decently handled but fails to really say anything new or different to really stand out”

Total Score:

3/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #148

[16 August 2015]


Winning Team:
School Of Rock 2: Jack Black To The Future
Genre – Dewey Finn meets Marty McFly and they play ‘shredding’ guitar riffs

Runners Up:
The Mediocre Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
Genre – Four quiz team members help an octogenarian set up a Facebook account.. with sexy results
Coastbusters
Genre – Comedy / horror
Double Basic Instinct
Genre – A double bass player must learn to finger his instrument and avoid the brown note
Fantastic Mr. Foxcatcher
Genre – Kid friendly Oscar bait
Crocodile Sunday
Genre – An Australian rom-com set over twenty four hours on a Sunday
The Good, The Bad And My Dad
Genre – Spaghetti western
Reservoir Cum
Genre – Tarantino films / wanking
Steam Boat Willie
Genre – One mouse, his boat and a lot of toot toot
Natural Born Quizzers
Genre – Woody Harrelson’s nerd twin brother travels the land with a love for trivia, slapping people in the face with knowledge


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. How many characters make up the superhero team in Big Hero 6?
SIX
2. Who plays the title role in The 40 Year Old Virgin?
STEVE CARELL
3. Who directed Casino, The Departed and Hugo?
MARTIN SCORSESE
4. 2002’s Treasure Planet is an animated film produced by which studio?
DISNEY
5. What was the title of the sequel to 28 Days Later?
28 WEEKS LATER
6. Chocolat is based in which country?
FRANCE
7. Austin Powers was frozen in which decade?
SIXTIES
8. Atonement is set during which military conflict?
WORLD WAR II
9. Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves was released in which year?
1991
10. Brandon Lee, star of The Crow, was the son of which martial arts actor?
BRUCE LEE


ROUND II: Filming [Films With String Instruments]
1. Guitar: Who starred in the lead role in 2009’s Crazy Heart? John Goodman? Jeff Bridges? Steve Buscemi?
JEFF BRIDGES
2. Sitar: What punctuation character is used in the title Moulin Rouge? Quotation Marks? Full Stop? Exclamation Mark?
EXCLAMATION MARK
3. Piano: How many kittens does Duchess have in 1970’s The Aristocats? Two? Three? Four?
THREE
4. Violin: What name is assigned to Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave? Platt? Epps? Ford?
PLATT
5. Double Bass: Some Like It Hot takes place in which year? 1929? 1932? 1936?
1929
6. Banjo: Who directed Deliverance? Peter Bogdanovich? Sam Peckinpah? John Boorman?
JOHN BOORMAN
7. Mandolin: Which of the following did not appear in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin? Sam Neil? Christian Bale? John Hurt?
SAM NEIL
8. Cello: In The Soloist, Robert Downey Jnr’s character is a journalist for which newspaper? Chicago Tribune? LA Times? Washington Post?
LA TIMES
9. Balalaika: What is the name of the character played in Alec Guinness in Dr Zhivago? Pasha Antipov? Victor Ipolitovich Komarovsky? Yevgraf Andreyevich Zhivago?
YEVGRAF ANDREYEVICH ZHIVAGO
10. Harp: Stanley Tucci is the only principal cast member in Jack The Giant Slayer who is not British. True or False?
TRUE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. 2015 will see the release of a Mission: Impossible film and a James Bond film in the same year. Which other Mission: Impossible and James Bond films shared a release year? (one point per correct answer)
CASINO ROYALE / MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006)
2. Who directed Moon and Source Code?
DUNCAN JONES
3. What is the name of the monkey in Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs? [bonus point for naming the actor who voiced him]
STEVE [Neil Patrick Harris]
4. The following quote is from which film, “I will never forget these words, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ This is my gift. This is my curse.”?
SPIDER-MAN
5. How many Final Destination films have been made to date?
FIVE
6. What is the name of the lead character (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in Woody Allen’s Match Point?
CHRIS
7. What were the respective release years of the original and remake of 3:10 To Yuma? (one point per correct answer)
1957 / 2007
8. Which actor appeared in Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans, Alexander, Red Planet and True Romance?
VAL KILMER
9. In which film did Tom Cruise play the role of Nathan Algren?
THE LAST SAMURAI
10. Which film featured Tom Hardy, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw and Daniel Craig?
LAYER CAKE


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What did Steven Spielberg direct in 2004? War Of The Worlds? The Terminal? Munich?
THE TERMINAL
2. The following quote was said by which director, “The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent”? Christopher Nolan? Stanley Kubrick? George Lucas?
STANLEY KUBRICK
3. What is the name of the fashion magazine that Andrea Sachs works for in The Devil Wears Prada? Catwalk? Runway? Liberty?
RUNWAY
4. In 1995’s Congo, what are the killer grey gorillas guarding? An oasis? A hospital? A diamond mine?
A DIAMOND MINE
5. What is Judy Garland’s real name? Betty Joan Perske? Frances Ethel Gumm? Norma Mortenson?
FRANCES ETHEL GUMM
6. What was the name of Robert Zemeckis’ 1978 debut release about Beatlemania? She Loves You? Can’t Buy Me Love? I Wanna Hold Your Hand?
I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND
7. Which of the following is not an adaptation of a Shakespearean play? A Thousand Acres (1997 starring Michelle Pfeiffer)? City Heat (1984 starring Clint Eastwood)? Yellow Sky (1948 starring Gregory Peck)?
CITY HEAT (A Thousand Acres – King Lear / Yellow Sky – The Tempest)
8. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “Some lines shouldn’t be crossed”? Flatliners? Walk The Line? The Thin Red Line?
FLATLINERS
9. Which actor appeared in The American President, Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past and Last Vegas? Michael Douglas? Kevin Kline? Morgan Freeman?
MICHAEL DOUGLAS
10. Revolutionary Road reunited four members of the Titanic cast, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates and Billy Zane. True or False?
FALSE (Zane did not feature in this film)


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Terminator 2: Judgement Day / Gangster Squad / The Faculty
Poster: Cop Land
Actor: Robert Patrick


FANTASTIC FOUR

Beyond Darkness, Beyond Fear, Lies The Fantastic

Director
Josh Trank

Starring
Miles Teller
Kate Mara
Michael B Jordan
Jamie Bell
Toby Kebbell



There’s a line which appears in all the trailers for this release which states, “Dr Storm, we gave you six years and billions of dollars and you gave us nothing. What’s different now?” A very apt statement which ironically could easily be turned on Fox. You withheld the rights from Marvel because you thought you could do a better job and this is what you give us? As someone who actually enjoyed the Spider-Man reboot and its sequel, my opinions on these things can sometimes fall into the minority. But I stand united with apparently anyone who sat through this mess. And I tried. I tried so hard to like this film. Despite going with the Ultimate Fantastic Four origins (dimensional travel rather than astronaut accident), casting teenage versions rather than older actors and Victor Von Doom simply being a young immigrant rather than a genius wizard dictator, I was open-minded. I went into this film with below zero expectations (if such a thing is possible) and even went out of my way to find something positive about this release but I was browbeaten by a sheer fucking blunder of a movie; and not even on a wholly offensive Transformers level but by an unexpected inexplicably dull shapeless form. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s cover the synopsis first.

The first act lays a lot of ground work establishing the vast but thoroughly unappreciated genius that is Reed Richards [Teller]. Richards and his friend Ben Grimm [Bell] work on a machine which is capable of teleporting matter to an unknown location. Unbeknownst to them, a scientific group are simultaneously working on the same thing, based on the computations of an equally intelligent but incredibly arrogant and volatile scientist, Victor Von Doom [Kebbell]. Running the operation is Dr Franklin Storm (played by Reg E Cathey) with the aid of his daughter, Sue [Mara]. Storm reaches out to Reed and brings him in on the project. After Franklin’s son Johnny [Jordan] gets into a racing accident, he forces him to work on Reed’s Quantum Gate to prove a semblance of responsibility rather than wasting his talents. After successful tests, the group are told by the financiers that NASA will take over, sending manned data collection missions. Drunkenly the four boys decide the discovery of this planet/dimension is theirs to claim and mount an unauthorised expedition. Naturally, everything goes horribly wrong; Victor is left behind seemingly dead, Ben, Reed and Johnny suffer horrible side-effects and Sue (who brought them back after discovering what they had done) is hit by a shockwave from the gate. And that’s when the film gets really shit. How do they learn to control their newfound powers? Who knows? Reed escapes the facility and then we jump-cut forward a whole year.

In the comics, the Fantastic Four relies on a trinity of elements to produce a successful story: family, science and adventure. In this regard it truly stands apart from other comic books. Admittedly, it’s not always great, the title’s been around since the sixties and I can only think of a handful of runs that are even worth pursuing but it has its own unique style and that’s what people like about it. What’s more it’s a title that spawned some of Marvel’s key races and characters, including Dr Doom, whom I believe to be Marvel’s greatest villain. The FF should be a unit comprised of the smartest people in the room who care a little too much but can’t take the time to explain to you what they’re talking about. Like walking in on a married couple arguing with extreme ferocity about something incredibly mundane – they’re clearly passionate but you’ll be fucked if you know what the hell the problem is. On paper, this film should have succeeded and succeeded well. John Trank is a promising independent director with vision, the cast is made up of amazing talent and fit the roles well and the Fantastic Four has the luxury of two different source material origins, meaning you’re not forced to retread the old “my mum and dad got shot in Crime Alley” thing again-and-again. And the worst part is that under all the shite, there are glimmers and glimpses of a decent film. With a stronger script and different production design this could have been a new confident step forward for Fox’s superhero universe.

So what exactly is wrong with this film? Primarily, it’s not actually a film, it’s a sneak preview montage reel, an unfinished look at a future release, an extended trailer for an entire TV series worth of material. Fantastic Four doesn’t really fit into the established guidelines of storytelling, structure or character development (admittedly, this isn’t always a bad thing). The first half is decent enough but once the superhero element kicks in, it gets Green Lantern bad – and the fact that the introduction of super powers somehow decreases the entertainment factor is just baffling. Any hope that had been generated in the first act is immediately squandered the second the abilities kick in: the pacing falters all over the place, we jump-cut ahead an undefined passage of time and then another year into the future, the finale is stupidly rushed and anti-climactic, the dialogue worsens and the interaction between the leads is amazingly unconvincing. Thanks to this total functional failing, it feels like an entire act’s worth of material is missing. So many shots from the trailer never materialise in the film and you start to get the impression this feature was tinkered with all the way up to release. Even the poster above is completely inaccurate. Where are those destroyed buildings in the release? In fact, when was a city ever in danger? To make the disjointed nature worse, Fantastic Four fails to actually produce an adventure. The public are sick of origin stories yet we are still expected to stomach them. Most studios seem to be stepping away from superhero origins, preferring to use flashbacks to detail a hero’s rise to power. Fantastic Four is ALL origin story and it’s not very well told. The whole thing mostly takes place in two locations (a lab and an alien desert) and the story part of the narrative is never presented; it just flops from development to development with little scale or ambition not to mention the classic problem of show AND tell delivery.

As stated, the Fantastic Four thrives on family, science and adventure. We’ve already established that the adventure element quickly dissolves and the science section gives way to clunky dialogue, what about the family? Interestingly the characters and their thespian counterparts serve up all the ammunition to both love and hate them. Miles Teller does a wonderful job with Reed Richards; intelligent to a fault, constantly pushing forward with no real regard for those around him. But when you don’t form any sort of plausible bond or credible connection, this just makes him come off like a self-centred, socially inept dick. Michael B Jordan is a great Johnny Storm, displaying talent and drive without constantly resorting to childish hijinks. Victor is also very interesting. I think Toby Kebbell is an exceptional actor and he excels in everything he appears in. This version of Doom is a pessimistic nihilist, arrogant and distrusting of corporate greed and the lesser elements of human nature. This misanthropy is a really nice touch and goes on to at least somewhat justify how he would become so bitter and destructive by the end of the film. But then his ‘Doom’ look is fucking dumb. I mean, there are salvageable bits of his outfit but it’s just really stupid looking and as much as I hate to say this, the Julian McMahon costume from Fantastic Four was better. Ben Grimm is hideously underused but Jamie Bell does his best with what he’s given. The real crime is that all the humour and charm that defines Grimm is completely absent. And finally Sue. Even in the comics Sue Storm is a tricky one to get right but when written well she’s a fascinating individual. Unfortunately Kate Mara is the worst incarnation of Sue Storm to date. That’s right, I’m saying Jessica Alba with her crappy wig-like hair and bulging contact lenses was a better Sue than this timid, mumbling, out-of-place after thought.

Despite everything I’ve said above, there is a tiny modicum of positive points to revel in. First of all, the score by Marco Beltrami and Philip Glass is really good. Nice recurring themes, fitting, memorable and frankly better than most Marvel releases have offered us. Secondly, the film isn’t available in 3D. There are many different stories from various sources as to why it’s a solely 2D release but the one I like is that the director flat out refused a 3D conversion saying it would sully the finished piece. And finally, the cinematography is arguably impressive. Yes, everything has that contemporary gritty high-contrast, desaturated feel to it (which will no doubt define this decade in the worst possible way) which feels somewhat inappropriate for this source material but it’s still very effectively executed on a technical level and this deserves to be mentioned.

But in all honesty, why are any of us surprised this movie turned out to be a hatchet job? We’re not talking about the nurturing of something special by filmmakers who are weaving stories that feel like they need to be told, it’s accountants and executives bashing absolutely anything out to retain the property rights. Say what you will about the DC cinematic universe, they set Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’s release date back a year to get the film right (although that remains to be seen). Due to a rights technicality, the only reason this film is being actioned is so Marvel don’t get their property back. All of this leads me to believe that despite their back catalogue of amazing releases 20th Century Fox is hands down the worst studio operating today. Their goals are purely fiscal, their methods are appalling, they have no respect for audiences or filmmakers with a shred of creativity and they are burning their own money for seemingly no other reason than spite. But as much as Fox infuriate me, I’m just running out of energy to hate them. I was hard on Ant-Man because that studio is capable of so much more and I was disappointed. With this film, I found myself uncharacteristically lenient because I know Fox have absolutely no idea what they’re doing and I still ended up struggling to find redeemable qualities. So is Fox an evil and sadistic corporation who hates both the art of cinema and the movie-going public or are they incompetent simpletons? I’m starting to get the impression it’s the latter and reviewing their movies is like beating up a disabled child, it’s cruel.


Release Date:
6th August 2015

The Scene To Look Out For:
**There’s a spoiler here but I was inclined not to mention it; after all, the film spoils itself**
The on-screen embodiment of this entire film takes place when Victor is brought back to our world and reaps his revenge. Having been abandoned for a year, Doom returns to Earth only to learn that his friends neglected him, the suits took over the project and the military have already weaponised the newfound powers. In an act of rage and defiance (hinted at in the first act when explaining why Victor left the project originally) Victor frees himself from his restraints and uses a telepathic power to maliciously rupture the heads of anyone in his way. The unstoppable tone of his rampage is straightforward, inconsolable and one borne of isolation and resentment. It’s a very cool development. And yet, this dark, cranium-exploding terror is marred by that piss-poor cellophane suit and a complete disregard of this power when it comes to attacking our central characters. Stomping through the corridors, Doom detonates heads with ease but when the Fantastic Four appear, he merely pushes them aside. One could argue it’s because the origin of all their powers is the alien world and the powers cancel each other out or that this unit was actually just a Doombot and Victor can only dispense a limited amount of power from such a distance buuuuut that’s bullshit. It’s just bad writing.

Notable Characters:
Dan Castellaneta plays Reed’s science teacher and he has to be one of the most backward and ignorant characters in the film. For whatever reason he vindictively ignores Reed’s achievements, effectively explaining that scientist is “not a realistic job” and dismisses Reed’s science fair teleportation device (WHICH WORKS, I might add) as a cheap magic trick. What a fucking tool. But that’s kinda the point. Here is an authoritative figure who is supposed to support and nurture this young man’s talent and instead all he does is stifle and frustrate the boy – which is a commendable point of character development and a hint of what this film could have been.

Highlighted Quote:
“You’re a dick”

In A Few Words:
“With a history of terrible Fantastic Four films this release really didn’t have to achieve much to be crowned the greatest FF release. Yet somehow it’s one of the worst. Astonishing”

Total Score:

1/5

TRAINWRECK

We All Know One

Director
Judd Apatow

Starring
Amy Schumer
Bill Hader
Brie Larson
Tilda Swinton



Trainwreck opens with a flashback scene wherein a father explains to his daughters the reason their parents are getting divorced. Suffice it to say, both girls take the advice differently. Amy [Schumer] grows up into a rather successful late-twenties/early thirties writer for a men’s magazine but has taken her father’s mantra “monogamy is not realistic” to heart. She is the ultimate ladette with no intention of settling down or living life any way other than what feels right to her. After a mumbled comment in a pitch meeting turns into a mini-rant about her detest of sports and sports fans, her horrific boss, Dianna [Swinton] assigns her to conduct an interview with leading sports doctor, Aaron Conners [Hader]. The two don’t exactly gel immediately but Amy is inexplicably drawn to Aaron’s company, outside of simple sexual encounters. Running parallel to this is Amy’s relationship with her married sister, Kim [Larson] and her father, Gordon [Colin Quinn] who is suffering from MS and living in a care facility. The more time Amy spends with Aaron, the more she worries that he will eventually find the deal-breaker line and break her heart. As such she sees every fight as an exit and every conflict as an insurmountable obstacle.

This film is, in essence, a role reversal piece. Rather than having the layabout guy who just needs to find the right woman to make him grow up and settle down, it’s a gender swap. I kinda hate that. Apatow did it for 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up as well and I wholly resented the fact that the overall moral message seemed to be change everything about yourself or no one will like you. Is Amy perfect? Of course not, she’s a flawed human being and every now-and-then she’s actually an interesting character but the entire slog of the narrative is so predictable that you just can’t care for her dilemma. What’s worse, there’s nothing especially new about anything on offer here. The jokes feel recycled from the 90’s and I swear that cervix-lodged condom thing is a gag that’s already been done in Sex And The City. And for a comedy that you’d think would be cutting edge or risqué, it’s really quite trite and boring. It never feels like Schumer is actively holding back or being watered down but the film around her simply doesn’t seem to take her to the places that she can stretch her legs and push the envelope. I really want to support this film but in good conscience I can’t. It’s sort of like Bridesmaids all over again (although, admittedly, Bridesmaids was better). A female comedian that I like has penned a feature and while it is pleasantly tender and honest it’s not above puerile sophomoric humour. But the problem is, it’s surprisingly safe and formulaic. You can’t have a line of dialogue defending gay people and then make a load of baseline gay jokes, it’s hypocritical and sends mixed messages. Equally, openly mocking cheerleaders for the titillating exploitation they are (can’t get behind the idea of cheerleaders, just don’t understand it) but then becoming one of them to impress your lover!? Surely that flies in the face of what’s gone before it. Because then the joke is no longer “look at these women, they are extremely talented but all they’re required to do is thrust and gyrate at a braying audience” it’s now “Shit, I can’t keep up with these girls. Look how silly and out-of-shape I am. Ah well, I tried.” As my friend pointed out, it’s like the ending of Grease, just change who you are (or say you will try) and you can fly off in the magic car into the sky. Aww. But I will admit that this is exactly how relationships work, sometimes you do change dramatically when you meet that special someone but the way that scenario is presented here just comes off as false and forced.

Part of the above problem may be down to the fact that there is absolutely no chemistry between Schumer and Hader. Yes, they’re both exceptionally talented comedians and as such are capable of working together and riffing off of one another with great finesse but at no point do I believe these characters feel a thing for each other, other than bemusement. And the more I start thinking about either character, the more it reminds me of the same issues I have with the aforementioned Sex And The City. These aren’t star crossed lovers and they’re not struggling individuals, they’re rich white people. On the one hand we have a woman who lives in a nice New York apartment and is a feature writer for a major magazine. In a time when people are working three jobs just to get by, she’s technically considered rich. But what about the gentleman? Is he from a different world, is there a barrier separating this would-be perfect pairing? Nope, he’s a stupidly rich white doctor who also lives in New York. Oh. Well, what about her lifestyle? He says he’s trying to be ok with her past, stating that the past is in the past and he loves her. Pursuits, interests? Any conflict there? Hmm.. well he is a sports doctor and she doesn’t like sports so I guess you could say that’s their greatest hurdle. So rich white lady with a mountain of independence meets rich understanding white dude. My God the drama, how ever will these two be united? And while there is a tiny line of dialogue implying that Aaron went out drinking with Amy (but as he’s not much of a drinker, he couldn’t keep up) the primary focus is fitting Amy into the socially acceptable view of how an adult acts and behaves. In other words, “Single ladies, change your ways. Achieve life’s true goals of getting a job with an internationally known respectable magazine and compromising who you are so you can settle down with a white guy.. who’s rich.. and has a stable job.. and is good with your family.. and a nice guy.” Ergh.

I very rarely get to comment on the technical side of comedies because the nature of how they’re shot simply doesn’t allow for it. A straight forward comedy is cleanly shot with largely uninventive cinematography or editing; bright and simple stuff, in case any improv’d action or dialogue are missed. And yet Trainwreck makes a handful of faux pas that really need to be highlighted. First of all, they needed to fire their focus puller. A frankly unacceptable amount of shots look and feel completely out of focus and I’m not referring to tracking stuff but locked-off, one person framed stationary stuff that has no business being anything other than completely crisp. It’s distracting and at this level comes off as unprofessional. Secondly, there was FAR TOO MUCH punch up. If you don’t know, punch up is an industry term for when a film is good but other comedians are brought in to add a few touches of humour missing from slower scenes. The only catch is, filming has already been completed, so the only things you can do are a.) have someone say something off-screen or b.) cut to a reaction shot and have the other character deliver the dialogue. It can work but the audio levels are noticeably different and it’s jarring as hell. Now that I’ve mentioned it, it will probably be impossible to miss but all comedies are guilty of this and to me it just implies that either the script wasn’t as funny as they thought it was or the original line just didn’t connect with the audience. But when the replacement line is just as flat, that’s a worrying sign. And as a final point, comedies are like fish and guests. In brief intervals they can be great but you’d be surprised how quickly they outstay their welcome and start to stink up the joint. Even the best comedy knows when to call it a day, leaving the audience wanting more. Trainwreck hangs about for two solid hours and holy God they are long hours. The last thing anyone wants to feel when watching an upbeat, amusing feature is fatigue.

Hopefully this is just a teething issue. Maybe Schumer’s first draft was vastly superior and this is just a debut stumble. Ultimately the critics already seem sold on it, so I’m clearly in the minority but to me this was a wasted opportunity. A chance to really do something different and say something important that was trimmed, boiled and whittled down to a rather flat, mediocre release. Pity.


Release Date:
14th August 2015

The Scene To Look Out For:
With a character linked to the sporting world, you can guarantee a wealth of sports cameos. And being a British guy who only really follows rugby, all of those names are pretty much lost on me. Wow! Miami Heat NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire! If you say so. You could have cast anyone and I probably would have believed you. But thankfully there’s Amy’s ignorance to the sporting world which mirrors my own bewilderment. And yet toward the end of the film, LeBron James summons Aaron to the gym in the middle of the night. Aaron dutifully attends, believing LeBron has suffered some terrible injury, only to be confronted by four individuals. LeBron James, Marv Albert, Christine Evert and Matthew Broderick. But we’re expected to know that already. LeBron James is a seasoned basketball all-star and has appeared multiple times throughout the film. We get who he is. Fine. Matthew Broderick is a well-known actor, I recognise him. I mean, absolutely no idea what the connection is, especially as he’s portraying himself. The other two I had to google. Chris Evert is a retired Tennis Hall-Of-Famer and Marv Albert is a well-known sports commentator. And what are these randomly linked individuals doing in this scene? They’re holding an intervention to convince Aaron to reunite with Amy after a fight? The whole thing reeks of ‘let’s get a bunch of cameos in one place for an utterly pointless conversation.’ While these sorts of things are perpetrated often, they don’t always fail this badly, adding nothing to the film whatsoever.

Notable Characters:
Tilda Swinton is perfectly obnoxious as Dianna. She is selfish, arrogant, despicably rude and the sheer epitome of a detestable employer. Every scene she’s in makes you hate her more. It’s like watching a version of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada with none of the charm. Brilliantly portrayed and terrifying from start to finish.

Highlighted Quote:
“You have a lot of black friends? Take out your phone and show me pictures of your black friends”

In A Few Words:
“A dismal disappointment. There’s still hope Schumer will return to cinemas with something half decent but Apatow really needs to get back on track fast”

Total Score:

2/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #147

[02 August 2015]


Winning Team:
Lester’s Dreams
Genre – A trip through Lester Burnham’s dreams of Keyser Soze, deadly viruses, cheerleaders, LA and congress

Runners Up:
Central American Beauty And The Beast
Genre – Dark romantic drama starring Danny Trejo and Salma Hayek
Team America: Mission Beauty
Genre – Action movie with puppets where Annette Benning becomes an NSA assassin
Steamboat Willie
Genre – Animation
Oblivious
Genre – Thriller
A Merry Gran’s Booty
Genre – While babysitting a grandmother has a few too many sherrys and reveals her hidden treasures
Winnings Impossible 4: Any Point Is A Bonus
Genre – Comedy
Les Quizerable
Genre – The Norwich revolution comes together to quiz to the death!
Rebels Without A Clue
Genre – Black humour
American Booty
Genre – Seeking a way out of a midlife crisis, Kevin Spacey takes to a life of crime on the high seas with bootylicious first mate Nicki Minaj


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “If you’ve got a taste for terror, take Carrie to the prom”?
CARRIE
2. How many Back To The Future films have been released to date?
THREE
3. Patrick Swayze appeared in Steel Dawn and which other 1987 film?
DIRTY DANCING
4. Who played the lead role in From Dusk Til Dawn?
GEORGE CLOONEY
5. The following quote is from which film, “No, not show you. Show me the money”?
JERRY MAGUIRE
6. How many daughters does Gru have in Despicable Me?
THREE
7. How many films did Peter Jackson direct in between The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?
TWO (King Kong / The Lovely Bones)
8. Kick Ass takes place in which city?
NEW YORK
9. King Creole and Blue Hawaii starred which musician?
ELVIS PRESLEY
10. In Minority Report, details about the pre-crimes are printed on what?
BALLS


ROUND II: Filming [American Beauty Special]
1. In American Beauty, what does Ricky claim to be the most beautiful imagery he’s filmed? A plastic bag in the wind? A dead bird? His neighbour undressing?
A PLASTIC BAG IN THE WIND
2. American Beauty was released in which year? 1998? 1999? 2000?
1999
3. What was American Beauty’s budget? 5 million dollars? 10 million dollars? 15 million dollars?
FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS
4. Who composed the score for American Beauty? Thomas Newman? James Newton Howard? Howard Shore?
THOMAS NEWMAN
5. Which vegetable does Lester continually ask be passed to him before throwing the plate at the wall? Asparagus? Mange Tout? Potatoes?
ASPARAGUS
6. What letter is printed on the cheerleader’s outfits? H? S? V?
S
7. What rank did Frank Fitts (Chris Cooper) hold in the marines? Colonel? Corporal? Commander?
COLONEL
8. When being shot what is the first memory Lester describes seeing? The first time he saw his cousin Tony’s brand new firebird? The yellow leaves from the maple trees that line his street? Lying on his back at Boy Scout camp watching the stars?
LYING ON HIS BACK AT BOY SCOUT CAMP WATCHING THE STARS
9. How does Lester respond when Angela asks “How are you” toward the end of the film? I’ve been better? I don’t know? I’m great?
I’M GREAT
10. Several of American Beauty’s character names are references and anagrams to characters in Lolita. True or False?
TRUE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Put the following Hitchcock titles in the correct order of release: Dial M For Murder, Rebecca, Rope.
REBECCA (1940) / ROPE (1948) / DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954)
2. In Prometheus, the character David has a letter as part of his designed fingerprint, what is that letter?
W
3. Which actor appeared in The Fox And The Hound, Backdraft and Furious 7?
KURT RUSSELL
4. Brad Bird directed which two Pixar films? (one point per correct answer)
THE INCREDIBLES / RATATOUILLE
5. The following poster tagline is from which film, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”?
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
6. Which film did Danny DeVito direct and appear in, in 1996?
MATILDA
7. Robert Fischer, Mr Saito and Dom Cobb are characters in which film?
INCEPTION
8. The following quote is from which film, “There are a lot of long words in there, Miss. We’re naught but humble pirates”?
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL
9. Which film starred Lance Hendrickson, Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins?
SUPER MARIO BROS
10. Which actor made her debut in Superbad and most recently starred in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man?
EMMA STONE


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which actress said, “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” in She Done Him Wrong? Mae West? Jean Harlow? Marlene Dietrich?
MAE WEST
2. Which studio distributed Species, The Terminator, Logan’s Run and Hot Tub Time Machine? Warner Bros? MGM? Universal?
MGM
3. Which of the following made the most money at the box office? ET? Aladdin? Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs?
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS (Ice Age $886mil, ET $790mil, Aladdin $504mil)
4. What is the name of Derek Zoolander’s rival in Zoolander? Hansel McDonald? Maury Ballstein? JP Prewett?
HANSEL MCDONALD
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of Jericho Cane in which film? Raw Deal? End Of Days? The Expendables?
END OF DAYS
6. Bullitt was released in which year? 1961? 1965? 1968?
1968
7. In Boyz N The Hood, Doughboy (portrayed by Ice Cube) is a member of which gang? Rollin 60s Crips? Crenshaw Mafia Bloods? Pirus Street Family?
ROLLIN 60S CRIPS
8. What was the name of the titular dragon in Pete’s Dragon? Lampie? Elliott? Merle?
ELLIOTT
9. 1986’s The Mission is set in which continent? Asia? Africa? South America?
SOUTH AMERICA
10. In The Graduate, none of the adult characters are identified by their first names (unlike the younger cast). True or False?
TRUE (to accentuate the generation gap)


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Magic Mike / 21 Jump Street / The Book Of Life
Poster: The Eagle
Actor: Channing Tatum