Month: January 2011

History of Rap

Who doesn’t love Hip Hop (except racists)? French BeatBox artist Eklips takes us through the journey from classics as Afrikaa Bombaata, all the way to the recent Kanye West Album. It truly is amazing to see how things have changed ( altough maybe not always for the best). One of the best Beatbox Vids we’ve seen in a long time. Check it out after the jump! Read More

The Third Man

Continuing my theme of “old black and white films, good, new colour films, bad”, I hope the following proves inspirational enough that more people watch what has been voted the “best British film of the 20th century” by the British Film Institute.

Notable for many things, not least the cast, including Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It also stars Bernard Lee (latterly more famous for playing M in the majority of the James Bond films) and is based on a screenplay by Graham Greene.

So…potentially a lot to live up to there. Does it succeed, does it pass the audition?

Of course it does. Set in bombed-out post-war Vienna The Third Man tells the story of Holly Martins (Cotton) and his quest to uncover the truth about the increasingly strange disappearance of his friend Harry Limes (Welles).  As the film progresses we get introduced to Harry Limes through his friends and lover Anna (Valli) before the final scenes reveal the true picture.  This is somewhat of an oversimplification, but then to reveal more would just show me up as a shameless Wikipedia plagiariser.

So why is it so damned good then? There are many stand-out moments for me.  Let’s start with the score, which will I’m sure be familiar to most people, it being used in adverts and all sorts over the years.  This provides a perfect accompaniment to the film; helping create atmosphere, set the tempo and lead the action sequences such as they are.  Surprisingly, the score was written and performed by Anton Karas using only a zither (stringed instrument from central Europe) and it is remarkable given the effects it achieves.

Secondly, I was mightily impressed with the characters and story.  Without divulging too much, the film is very clever at building-up a picture of Limes, without him even appearing in person until the final quarter of the film.  This is accomplished by Holly’s determination to uncover what really happened, and by speaking to the various players surrounding Limes; from his fellow racketeers and Anna through to Major Calloway of the British Army.  In this time, we can see Holly’s own picture of his friend change from good to bad to worse.

When Welles does appear we are treated to some wonderful shots (standing in a darkened doorway, suddenly lit), but it is in Limes wanting to know what his friend is up to, that ultimately leads to his exposure and downfall.  The climax to the film is shot in the sewers under Vienna (filmed on set in Shepperton studios) and is a masterpiece of direction and sound.  We see Limes chased around the sewer system by Calloway and his troops; shadows everwhere, arches, narrow passageways, footsteps and running water.  The combination is wonderful and makes for a thrilling and fitting climax to such a great film.  Welles is brilliant in this section of the film and convinces utterly as someone who knows his time is up; running out of hiding places and having run out of friends.

Much has been made of Orson Welles’ role in the making of the film and I can only conclude this stems from most of the very memorable scenes containing him.  His own influence was something he always denied, giving full credit to director Carol Reed.  In conclusion, The Third Man is a very British noir and if older films don’t quite click for you, would make an ideal introduction to film noir, Orson Welles and film ”classics” in general.

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Taiwanese CGI news team takes on Ricky Gervais!

Ricky Gervais has created quite a kerfuffle with his recent stint hosting the 2010 Golden Globes. Since his appearance, the media have been going gaga about alleged fights, rumors and other highlights which uphold the journalistic esteem that most media outlets seem to be maintaining.

But news isn’t news unless there is a Taiwanese CGI version of it! Here is the Ricky Gervais appearance digitized and insane! Read More

Rich Hall’s Dirty South, or, How Hollywood just doesn’t get the South

 

Repeated from July 2010, Rich Hall‘s The Dirty South, shows the comedian turning his attention to Hollywood‘s portrayal of the south.  And to be more accurate, how it has misunderstood, misrepresented and mis-sold the southern states.  Using interviews, archive footage and movie clips, Rich states a brilliant case that will make you think twice when you also fall back on generalisation and cliche when describing or poking fun at the south.

Aside from Hall’s general presentational style (best described as flat or deadpan and also ascerbic) which I enjoy, clips from Deliverance, In the Heat of the Night and To Kill a Mockingbird are brilliantly used to re-enforce his point.

Whilst the easy path to take is one that mocks the south and southerners, at least for those of us who’ve never been there, don’t live there…Rich Hall’s documentary shows us a friendly, vibrant and most definitely mis-understood south that we should not be quite so quick to parody and take the piss out of.  At the very least, the programme explains why we may have such simplistic views of this part of the US and his revelation about Burt Reyolds is absolutely outstanding.  Catch it on BBC iPlayer while you can.

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Suit up, Superheroes!

2011 surely seems to be the year of superhero movies with both DC and Marvel firing both barrels. Here is a rundown of First looks of some of the characters that we will be seeing across the big screens! Check out the pictures after the jump! Read More

Lessons Learnt in Bollywood in 2010 and What’s in store for 2011!

This week we are joined by BollywoodGora (AKA Steven Baker), writer for BollySpice and DigitalSpy and Upodcast regular FilmiGirl. We discuss some of the lessons we as Bollywood geeks have learnt and what we hope to avoid in 2011. We breakdown the upcoming releases in 2011, the ones we are looking forward to and the actors and actresses we want to see more of! Of course we can’t avoid adding our own little snarky twist to everything! Check out the episode after the jump! Read More

3D rant

For this, you DO need crappy glasses

No, you don’t need crappy plastic glasses to read this one. I was sat in the pub during the week, watching football in 3D and thinking to myself “this is quite shit”.  OK, shit may be a bit harsh, but it just didn’t do anything for me.  Maybe a little bit of extra depth, but the most notable thing was the Sky Sports logo coming out of the screen. So what’s all the fuss? I ask myself.  Firstly with football and perhaps sport in general, it isn’t filmed in such a way that the ball will come flying towards you as it screams into the goal, or that a tackle is shown heading right for you.  When watching sport, you need a complete picture and that means wider camera angles, further away from the action.  And of course this lessens the impact of 3D viewing.   I wouldn’t say that the experience is a total washout, but just nowhere near what is promised.

3D does have some advantages

However, this did all get me thinking about 3D in general – on TV, at the cinema – and where we’re going with it.  Already there are what I’ll refer to as divisions.  Firstly, we have films such as Avatar and JackAss 3D.  Filmed in 3D and deliberately so, so as to take advantage of the medium these look great and have been designed to maximise the viewing experience.  However, what we also have is films that are adapted 3D; such as Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland.  Whilst I don’t have a problem with this, it seems to me a bit of a cop out and it would also appear that studios and theatre owners have a battle on their hands.  Not that the battle is due to “real” 3d or otherwise, but could we be witnessing more of these conflicts as more and more releases contain 3D?  Quite posibly yes, is my theory.

But as the march towards total 3D continues apace, could there be an even bigger hurdle to overcome for total and utter 3 dimensional domination?  According to this report 12% of Britain is 3D blind, meaning that whatever 3D is dished-up, be it at home or on the big screen, a lot of people will genuinely not care  - far more than I don’t care because I see it as an unnecessary gimmick.  These people won’t be buying the TVs or the DVDs and they sure as hell won’t go to watch the films.  But then, is 3D really anything serious?  Is it the make or break between a good film and a bad film?  I think not.  Whilst Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time, it didn’t win a “proper” Oscar, it just looked great.  Nothing wrong with that of course, but this reviewer has had enough of what is essentially an old technology being stuffed down his throat in all 3 glorious dimensions.

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Upod gets serious: Metropolis, restored edition

As far as Upod is concerned, anything is game: who else would bring you reviews of Black Sheep, Let The Right One in, Lord of War and 500 days of summer?

I recently had the opportunity, courtesy of the British Film Institute (BFI) to watch the most up-to-date and restored version of Fritz Lang‘s masterpiece, Metropolis on the big screen.  So in a departure from the usual Upod frivolities I made my way to London’s Southbank and settled down to some serious cinema history.

There has been much written about this film over the years and to be honest there is very little that I can add to what already exists.  What I can however say is that I was simply stunned by a silent film that is 83 years old.

Produced when German cinema was at the height of its influence it is also the most expensive silent film ever made, costing around 5 million Reichsmark at the time.  Let us not forget however that this is essentially a sci-fi film and one with such vision and fine execution that modern audiences will have no problem marvelling at the special effects.  Whilst we are nearly all so accustomed to a faster pace of film (Anton Corbijn‘s The American being a notable exception in recent times) with quick cuts and sharp editing, it is testament to Fritz Lang’s skill as a film-maker that for 150 minutes I never felt bored or wanted to look at my watch.  Indeed, I was so taken by the story, acting, set designs and musical score that I could have happily sat there for another hour.

 As this version is the latest and greatest, restored from reels found in Argentina, I will conclude by wholeheartedly recommending this on Blu-Ray.  If you have had any doubts at all about tucking into black and white silent cinema, this really is a treat to behold and worth every penny and minute.

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The UnderRated Rom Com: 500 Days of Summer

In this week’s  Upodcast we review the delightful quirky romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zoey Deschanel directed by Marc Webb, director of the upcoming Spiderman movie. Is this an underrated gem or does it just belong on the shelf of romantic comedies studios seem to churn out? Or are the guys just trying to sort out their own personal demons with women? Check out the podcast after the jump!

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