Tuesday, 6 December 2011
OK so anyone reading this who might be considering a career in politics, take my advice: Change your mind. Or for the more stubborn among you, go and see The Ides of March (2011) and then change your mind.
Now I know the focus here is America, so it is tempting for us to feel safe and warm and away from it all and of course I know nothing, I'm not in the least politically minded - which is probably the best reason to take my advice. But here's another which comes a close second: political films never date. They don't. Ever. Take a look at Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939) for example. Therein lies a display of political slight of hand as frightening and relevant in our day as in it's own. Which is surely Cinema's way of telling us something at a thousand decibels and with the clarity of crystal. Politics and politicians (worryingly) never change. Well they do right about the point when they realise they have to compromise their varying degrees of loyalty to the people in order to gain power. (Hmmmm...I wander if Clegg or Cameron has seen it) But after that they never change.
Cinematically speaking, the two go about scaring us out of our wits regarding the political system in slightly different ways. Obviously I'm not referencing the very different eras in which they were made. They're much more interesting and far reaching than that. Whilst Ides turns out to be Shakespearean in its themes of backstabbing and intrigue, deception and usurpation; The narrative of it's predecessor Mr Smith is nothing short of Biblical in proportion. While the terror in George Clooney's world lies in it's stiffling claustrophobia, in Frank Capra's it resides in it's sheer depth and vastness. Our hero James Stewart must play David to the Senate's Goliath and stand as a lone flower of truth in a medow of deceit. As I'm sure you can imagine this isn't much fun. So whilst it is America under the unforgiving magnifying glass of 35mm it doesn't take a genuis political or otherwise to realise how broad the implications are.
Therefore anybody who would like to enter the mind and body of a politician should do so with bated breath. You might discover that you are the four year old who plucks up the courage to look into the dust and darkness under the bed. If this genre of film is to be believed, you won't like what you find.
Courage the Jimmy Stewart Way in Mr Smith
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Jurassic Park roars back onto the big screen this weekend for a limited two week run, providing the perfect opportunity to relive the wonderment of a six year old version of yourself.
Timed perfectly (suspiciously?) with the dinosaur season on the BBC, the aim of the studio and distributors may well be to capture a new, young audience (and pave the way for the upcoming fourth instalment) but there's no doubt in my mind that this Jurassic Park is one for the adults. Few filmmakers could capture the 80s/90s wonder of Spielberg, and if you've even one ounce of the nostalgia and sentimentality that 'The Beard' possesses, you'll probably already be in the queue to get in, ready to impress your better half with your bizarre and inexplicable knowledge of the diet of a Parasaurolophus.
The film stars Sam Neill as the sceptical palaeontologist who is whisked away (after the promise of extra funding, the greedy swine) with Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern by the ever-lovable Richard Attenborough to an island off the coast of Costa Rica. This is, of course, Jurassic Park, named after the middle-period of the dinosaurs, and by far the most filmic. The film's anti-hero, the T-Rex, actually lived during the latter Cretaceous period (nerd alert) but it's hard to imagine a film called Cretaceous Park.
The rest is history (get it?) but you'd be a fool to miss out on the thrill of seeing this classic piece of filmmaking on the big screen. This is Hollywood at its finest, before all the explosions and swearing got in the way and forced the tasteful blockbuster into near-extinction.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
So freakishly enough with the riots going on at the moment, I happen to be halfway through A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens intense exploration of the French revolution from both sides of the channel.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Why is it that many people (I hesitate to use the term most, due to an abundant lack of actual statistics) see video games as childish? If I tell certain people that I've spent the evening on the xbox, it's met with a dismissive shake of the head, or, if I'm lucky, a sympathetic thing's will get better soon. I don't want or need them to get better, it was no doubt a very enjoyable, frustrating and ultimately diverting evening.
If I was to say I spent the evening watching a film or listening to music, I'd not receive such a patronising reaction. (Unless, perhaps, the film was Meet the Spartans and Justin Bieber was on the stereo.) Video games are becoming more and more sophisticated, not just in terms of graphics but in terms of story, character and all-round immersive environment. Take LA Noire, the game from Rockstar (GTA) in which your character is a detective in 1940s Los Angeles. The narrative twists and turns, splits depending on how you investigate the crimes. It's an engaging story in which you become emotionally involved with character. Why, then, is it not taken as seriously as, for example, film?
There's certainly as much work that goes into the product, both in terms of production, marketing etc etc. Could it be that it suffers from being the youngest child? Cinema, at its inception, was not considered anywhere near a serious art form, until pioneers such as Chaplin and Griffith (racist he may be) pushed it firmly into the classification of "culture". Video games, in their modern form, as still relatively young, and the simple fact may be that it just takes certain people some time to consider something new to become "worthy".
Hindering the cause for computer entertainment is the misconception that games are mindless, and often needlessly violent. Whilst there are undoubtedly some games where this is the case, it is unfair to criticise the whole art form of gaming. There are films that are mindless and pointless (just earlier I caught a snippet of Cats & Dogs on TV), there are books that are mindless and pointless, but you can't criticise The Great Gatsby because Dan Brown is a trashy author. And there's no doubt he is.
But games like LA Noire, even entertaining family fare like the Lego Adventures of Indiana Jones (brilliant) require active brain power. You have to solve puzzles in order to progress, and it doubtless improves your hand-eye coordination. Maybe a fair accusation may be that it can be antisocial, but it is no less so than a film, a book, or a play. In fact, it's probably more so, as most games now feature online modes where you interact (shoot) with other people from across the globe.
When all is said and done, though, I imagine the cynics will keep coming back to the one prominent argument: it's just a waste of time. Well, it isn't. If it's a waste of time, then all art forms are a waste of time, then sport is a waste of time. We don't stop watching films when we grow up, we just change the type of films we watch. So it is with games, except the margins are less easily defined. They're not for everyone (usually because they're no good at them, hence they become pointless) but they are a burgeoning art form, and should begin to be treated as such.
Sunday, 31 July 2011
Welcome to the all new and improved The Cutting Room Floor cyber hub, the place to get your voice heard in the arts. It is here that agendas are set and changed, stale ideas thrown away and new ones thought up. So get a-clicking and a-typing and have your say.
We have a team of magicians working away all over the world to bring you their thoughts and opinions on who's out there and whats going on across more creative platforms than I can name. But one thing we are not here at the CRF are quitters, so here's me definitely trying: fine art, design, illustration, photography, animation, architecture, hip/hop and rap, classical, indy rock, pop, r&b, DJ/Club scene, silent films, late 20th C's best, classic hollywood, what came out last week, poems, short stories, literary criticism, interviews, articles, essays...and a whole lot more to boot. As soon as I get my breath back.
All you have to do is to shout at the top of your lungs about what ever it is you care about, comment away, discover new things and share what ever it is you know.
If you would like to contribute something on a one off basis or would like to be considered as a regular contributor, just get in touch using the regular avenues:
looking forward to the virtual din we are going to cause. the lily-livered may bring ear plugs.
that's all for now.
BE PART OF SOMETHING.
The Celluloid Kid