The Death of ‘The Cinema’

‘The Cinema’ – what-ever this means to you – will one day die. Nothing can or ever will be done to stop this. Death does not have to mean a cease in production rather a decrease in calibre; or its inevitable loss to a superior art form. A more efficient, potent manifestation of expression will overhaul cinema.

In his essay, The Myth of Total Cinema, André Bazin explains that art can be viewed metaphorically as the myth of Icarus. Every art has “to wait on the internal combustion engine before descending from the platonic heavens.” All art will hit a peak, fly to close to the sun, and fall; not forgotten, just not of any further use to society. The relevancy of art requires evolution; meaning, in Bazin’s words “every new development added to the cinema must, paradoxically, take it nearer and nearer to its origins. In short, cinema has not yet been invented.” Seemingly, this means art – not just ‘the cinema’ – can never expire. The mistake on behalf of the observer is believing that these developments are necessary or even anything of value to the expression of the medium. We have not seen the total demise of an art form. Instead, we continually add more developments to existing expressions; extending the expiry date to the brink of destruction. ‘The cinema’ is just one example of the expansion of the early arts, such as painting. The pleasure of viewing still images was not enough for our ancestors, who desired motion to satisfy their craving for spectacle. The age-old expression of song and sound were combined to fulfil this urge further.

This expansion is happening in our culture today. Video games will soon be your ‘cinema’. Allowing the spectator to be more than a spectator; not just passively engaging, but actively changing the course of the narrative. Virtual reality combined with such elements will create entire worlds for the witness to inhabit. Far from perfect these forms of artistic expression are vital to a society distorted and humiliated by constant abominable, heinous figureheads. Instead of grinding down the artistic expression for money and material gain we must use the remnants of a dying idiom to fix what it helped create.

When art dies, society will be released, and the suppression of social undercurrents will no longer be needed; expression will return to the people.

Love and Peace,

Charlie Vickers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Review

This review is Spoiler Free.

Needless to say, if you haven’t yet watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi then turn around and go and do so, because what makes Rian Johnson’s latest entry in the Skywalker saga so enjoyable is a feeling of endless possibilities when the screen is graced with the green shine of the Lucasfilm logo. To go into The Last Jedi with any sort of expectation will leave you disappointed, and as was made apparent in the theatrical trailer for Episode VIII by Luke Skywalker himself– “This isn’t going to go the way you think…”.

It has to be said right off the bat that The Last Jedi is, to many heavy hearts, a troubled film. Whether or not you find it enjoyable is purely down to you. Without giving away the entire plot of the film, which is the most difficult part of writing a review for the biggest film of the year, The Last Jedi greets us with an Empire Strikes Back-inspired first act, with the Resistance (now back to being called Rebel Scum by the First Order) desperately trying to escape an ambush by a fleet of imperial star destroyers and frigates. Where Empire took the opportunity to evolve this situation into an epic battle that has become synonymous with the most popular Star Wars video games, The Last Jedi takes the opportunity to stretch out the situation into a feature-length plot – and for once, there is a real sense of peril for the Resistance as they hang on by a thread. In terms of its place in the Star Wars story, The Last Jedi does the usual aesthetic tasks of showing us a handful of new creatures, put together by a wonderful team of visual artists and practical effects artists. Surprisingly, some of the new places seen in The Last Jedi feel like they’ve come straight out of the prequel trilogy, which is actually rather exciting.

With The Empire Strikes Back in mind, rest assured that The Last Jedi is not a copy of arguably the greatest of the Star Wars films. Where many fans were concerned after the stark comparisons between The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars (1977) about the direction that Johnson’s middle film might go, there is a real sense of relief when The Last Jedi goes in a completely different direction. But that relief is soon turned into concern when the plot rushes the film into new territory.

As with any Star Wars film, there is always a sense of dread when we are introduced to new concepts that may not feel welcome in a most beloved universe. This is the first time since the prequel trilogy that the mysteries surrounding the force have taken center stage, and after Rey and Luke’s eagerly awaited first lines to each other, we are quick to learn the reasons behind Luke’s abandonment of his religion and devotion to the force. Mark Hamill steals the show as the troubled legend himself, Luke Skywalker – with many poignant lines about the nature of the force and its uncontrollability, delivered on an emotional level. If The Force Awakens was Han Solo’s time in the spotlight, then The Last Jedi is Luke’s.

If there is one word that could encapsulate The Last Jedi best, it’s Change. Rian Johnson’s goal here is clearly to push the franchise into unexplored territory – and we can only hope that his independent trilogy due for release after Episode IX may follow suit. However, there is a real conflict that screams out in the 2 and ½ hour run time between Johnson’s obvious devotion to exploring new philosophies about the force and Disney’s unsurprising notion of good triumphing over evil and ‘hope’ – a word that has almost become a thorn in the franchise. I do not doubt that all the action that went on behind closed Disney doors most likely played out identically to the film itself, with Johnson battling to allow the Jedi and the Sith to become part of history and to give Star Wars a new breath of life. This is most apparent in the unexpected and yet respectable way that Johnson handles Supreme Leader Snoke, bringing a whole new definition to the word half-hearted (you’ll get the pun when you see it). The same can be said for the relationship between Rey and Ben Solo, which on paper could have been a Star Wars director’s worst nightmare to execute convincingly. Thankfully, Rey and Ben’s relationship pays off outstandingly and for the first time in the Star Wars story, we have never seen the line between good and evil as blurred as it is now. It’s almost too good to be true when the story gets closer and closer to being the most innovative and thought-provoking Star Wars film yet, only to be trampled on by Disney’s final act of the film. That is not to say that all of Johnson’s innovation doesn’t make it to the final act of the film. We are presented by a handful of the finest and most stunning lightsabre fights we have seen since Revenge of the Sith, as well as game-changing new powers that even the most famous faces from Star Wars have never shown us until now.

There is much to talk about with The Last Jedi, but there is a feeling that most of what can be appreciated doesn’t need to be written about, purely to be enjoyed. The soundtrack, cinematography, humour, overly dramatized new characters and peril all check the necessary Star Wars boxes, without getting any bonus points. What’s important to discuss with The Last Jedi is the aforementioned internal conflict between the three acts. If an argument were to be made over which act that Johnson enjoyed directing the most, the prize has to go to the middle act – far away on a remote island where he can’t be found by Disney’s Stormtroopers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a thrilling entry into the Star Wars story, which answers most of the questions raised in The Force Awakens. There are moments that might leave you cringing and moments that will leave you smiling. On a touching note, the film is a stunning tribute to Carrie Fisher, who we will all miss dearly. In the end, the best way to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi is to leave all you know behind and prepare to see the Skywalker saga embrace real change that will leave the cleanest pallet ready for Episode IXThe Last Jedi feels like a finale, even though the epic conclusion is yet to come. My next concern is whether J.J Abrams has any idea where the hell to take the story from here. Thanks a lot, Rian.  

8.2/10

Joe Griffiths-Bloor

An Interview with Ben Davies

I recently got the chance to sit down with Ben Davies, cinematographer and film student at Screenology. His cinematography work on the Star Wars fan-film, Star Wars: Eternal, is attracting a significant amount of attention online. Not only did I get an insight into the production of the film but also an in-depth understanding of his artistic decisions. He also spoke freely about his inspiration and why he wanted to become a director of photography (DOP) in the first place.

Before moving to Bristol, Ben had great success making and showing films locally in Shropshire. Entering many competitions and getting his short production Entrapment screened at the local independent cinema Kinokulture in Oswestry. A film initially made as part of his A-Level film studies course, therefore, produced within the confines of a specific brief (homage a genre of your choice). It shows Ben’s ability to, even with an insufficient budget, create a film that exceeds financial expectations and expand his horizons as a fluid genre filmmaker. Occupying both the director and cinematographer roles – like many of the auteurs he was imitating – worked well for him on this smaller scale shoot. But after progressing to bigger productions, he quickly realised he wanted to focus all his efforts on becoming a director of photography.

Ben shared in great detail his experiences as a DOP (both practical and theoretical, in particular, the unconscious effects of cinematography. This topic came up when Ben explained his ritual before a single frame is even shot, “I’ll go up to people and just stare at them. They’ll look back at me and just be like what the fuck are you doing?” His evident reasoning behind this is eye-light. As he describes, “it’s the window to the soul, the glint you catch in someone’s eye as they look at you. It’s something I will always spend time on getting right” And rightly so it can tell you a lot about a character. For example, if the eye-light is more central then you, as a viewer, are likely to feel more sympathetic. Whereas, a character without the glint – Darth Vader, for instance – has the opposite effect. An interesting method, Ben explains, for imitating sadness and creating catharsis is “lowering the light which emulates the build-up of tears before someone cries.”

Another hot subject for discussion was Ben’s preoccupation with movement (as seen in the interview). He tracked this fixation all the way back to the beginning of his filmic adventures; explaining that contemporary films overuse the trait lowering it to a gimmick. He admits “I have fallen into the trap myself. If you look at Entrapment, for instance, we did the movement to imitate Hitchcock and that style of filmmaking. But if you take that aspect away, what you’re essentially left with is a gimmick; it doesn’t add any story development to the piece.” A source of inspiration he explains is The Shining: “It’s one of the first films to use a steady cam, and you can tell! They use it a lot. But it’s done tactfully instead of being used as a gimmick.”

Visit Ben’s Cahootify where you can view all his films I’ve mentioned and more. I look forward to seeing what future projects he will DOP and who knows there might be a review of two on here sometime soon

Love & Peace

Charlie Vickers.

Day of the Decaf- a long overdue review

So, after a short hiatus, I am back! Without really any excuse, I sit here with my gingerbread latte, writing about the wonderful Day of The Decaf festival, that I have left for far too long ( I’m so sorry.) 

Even so, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it- it was genuinely such an exciting night for creatives of Shrewsbury. Walking into the Alberts Shed, I was hit by the thick buzz of the enthusiasm and excitement of the filmmakers, pre-empting how special the films would be.  Aaron just created such a special environment and opportunity to showcase new talent  and simultaneously produced a platform to support local businesses’, of which he mentioned in a previous interview, that coffee shops are places he is very fond of because of the many creatives ‘gravitate’ towards them. 

It was so interesting how many different takes on the criteria the young aspiring filmmakers conjured with the aspect of zombies and coffeshops in mind. The themes ranged from old style Mexican, classic horror and a John Lewis Christmas advert-esque. The films were judged by Aaron Child himself and the one and only zombie-King, Charlie Adlard; with categories in Best Actor (Sam Gwilliam), Best Original Screenplay (Plantkind), Best Special Effects (The Greenwood Cafè, Matthew Addis), Best Dead Actor and Runner up to Best Film (The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, Harry Fisher),- AND finally, The Best Film, Editing and Makeup went to Katie Romney and The Alberts Shed. 

The grand prize was so well deserved by Katie and her team- picture a trip, psychedelic horror with plenty of gore and a thriller dance break. Katie just executed such an edge and an uncomfortable atmosphere from her short that was totally unique to the rest of the line up- with a clear collaborative, community vibe, I totally agree with the outcome.

Unfortunately, I’m aware of where the bias comes in with Harry’s film, as I am well recognised to work at The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, however, I would say this was one of my favourite short of the night. It was just so bloody heartwarming (pardon the pun.) The warm tones used throughout the film reflected the tone of the audience heartstrings being pulled at the lovely tale of a misunderstood zombie, trying to be accepted as an outcast of society- and of course my character being portrayed as the “good-guy” doesn’t go a miss! 

I thoroughly enjoyed Cameron Reed’s dry humour, executed by Sam’s sarcastic acting style, it made the whole room smile- and I really believe that it was such a well filmed, well put-together, organised film. I’m so glad that he decided to platform his work, and I’m excited to see where he will go.

Being the first film that the Plantkind team have produced, I was really pleasantly surprised by the professionalism and execution of the whole picture. The score was terrific and the collaboration with Charlie Allard was genius. I would really be down to see anything the produced in the future. 

A staggering turn out to contribute towards The Alberts Shed short

And last but not least, I can not forget   my favourite film of the night, purely for the storyline/ humour. The uneducated, zombie barista made me feel so grossed out watching him munch coffee beans in his mouth and his special effect hand was so gracefully executed by Matthew Addis, had me in stitches; watching him get so disappointed with himself overtime he got it wrong. It was hilarious, I loved it.

Matthew and The Greenwood Cafè team

Cameron Reed and Ginger and Co. in full flow!

Harry Fisher and The Coffeehouse cast and technicians

Blade Runner 2049 – Review

  • This review is Spoiler-free. 

Welcome back to Los Angeles. This time, it’s the year 2049 and moviegoers can finally open their eyes and return to the world of Blade Runner after a 35-year wait. This is a sequel that should never have even been considered. And yet, Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario) has overcome what could be considered as the greatest burden of the cinematic world and created a sequel as poignant and meaningful as the first.

A statement has to be made before the rest of the review that if you haven’t seen the original Blade Runner, then this is a sequel that might be troublesome. Whilst the megacity will seem familiar to fans, a lot has happened to California since Rick Deckard hunted down the rogue Nexus 6 Replicants in 2019. 3 short films, created by the Blade Runner 2049 Crew help to tie the two films together (All 3 can be viewed on YouTube, courtesy of Warner Bros.).

At 2 hours and 43 minutes, Blade Runner 2049 is just shy of 50 minutes longer than its predecessor. And yet once the credits begin to roll, it’s unexpected. The pacing of the film is evenly spread – even the somewhat overdrawn moments of skyline gazing, snow-catching and self- discovery are as welcome as they were in the original. Cinematographer Roger Deakins has perfected his craft, reminding us that whilst the world of Blade Runner is a universe of rich stories yet to be told, it is also a canvas. In 2049, Los Angeles seems bigger than it did in 2019 – and yet it has become much darker. Deakins demonstrates throughout that Los Angeles is drenched in shadow. But this is balanced well by the occasional and welcoming explosion of colour from the neon streets of the city. There are moments of clarity in Deakin’s cinematography; so much so that we absorb even the tiniest details in the frame. This is something that I believe was missing from Blade Runner (1982). In a world suffocated by god-like structures and claustrophobic, busy streets, Villeneuve and Deakins take time to breathe with large, wide frames featuring almost nothing but an object or character.

Ryan Gosling, still fresh from his big Hollywood success with La La Land, clears our pallets with his portrayal of Agent K – Blade Runner 2049’s new Replicant-hunting cop. His performance is inward and evocative, drawing similarities with his equally unsettling performance in Drive (2011). For the most part, Gosling takes centre stage in 2049’s narrative – sending him on a journey of discovery that leads him down paths that other dangerous parties have yet to find. Gosling’s character gives us closure as the narrative twists in a surprising direction. The script serves Agent K extremely well, giving us a perfectly rounded character development that will leave audience members satisfied, if not a little heartbroken.

Harrison Ford’s return as Rick Deckard is, like in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, almost applaudable. And yet, Ford here plays a character so far removed from the typical hero archetype that you can only feel a sense of impending dread when he finally graces our screens well over halfway into Blade Runner 2049. In 2049, Deckard is haunted – and Ford plays this excellently. Whilst the original film may have shown Deckard to have overcome his demons by the time he runs away with Rachel, it is clear that in the year 2049, nothing could be further from that assumption.

In addition to the two biggest names in the film, Jared Leto does a superb, almost redeemable performance as Niander Wallace – the films prophet-like antagonist. And whilst some other familiar faces are seen sparingly throughout the near 3-hour runtime, the biggest surprise here is Agent K’s love interest Joi, played by Ana de Armas. Her very unique story takes a surprising turn early on and her relationship with Agent K will become an important case study for film academics, much like the relationship between Deckard and Rachel in Blade Runner.

After a disappointing announcement that long-time Denis Villeneuve collaborator Johan Johannson would no longer be attached to the Soundtrack for Blade Runner 2049, super composer Hans Zimmer does a pretty notable job along with Benjamin Wallfisch. This is not Vangelis. Nor is it trying to be. But Zimmer and Wallfisch create new yet familiar tones that will have you smiling. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is just a little too loud and deadly. Vangelis’ original soundtrack was an integral part of Blade Runner’s narrative – breathing within the film instead of accompanying it. Here, in Blade Runner 2049, Zimmer and Wallfisch’s score only succeeds in accompanying the story, scaring and creating tension. In doing so, 2049’s score flies too close to the sun on its way to evoking the original soundtrack from 1982. The final notes in Blade Runner 2049 will send Vangelis-like shivers down your spine, but unfortunately come too little too late.

Blade Runner 2049 is a rare sequel that takes a story and expands it whilst also making its first instalment much more poignant. Themes expressed in Blade Runner of identity, love, existentialism are prominent in 2049 as much as they were 35 years ago. What works beautifully in Blade Runner 2049 is that it doesn’t fall into the trap of having to please fans with satisfying answers, much like Ridley Scott’s recent instalments in the Alien franchise. There is an overwhelming biblical sentiment in the story, with Leto’s Niander Wallace making statements about his God-like place on earth, tasked with saving humanity after the great blackout of 2022 and then creating a new, more trustworthy Replicant series that he compares to Angels.

Blade Runner 2049 does a marvellous job of transforming the Replicant story from a portrait of self-identify into a Matrix-like prophecy – without ever hinting at the possibility of a revolution. All the magic and splendour of Blade Runner is preserved in 2049. Certain lines delivered by key players hint at even bigger revelations, but as the plot thickens our presumptions about certain storylines are blown out of the water whilst simultaneously keeping us at a healthy distance to ponder for another 35 years. Or perhaps maybe not quite as long.

Blade Runner 2049 – 9.1/10

A Conversation with Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy

If I’m quite honest, I am still coming to terms with the fact that I am even in the position to be able to write an article quite like this one. 

On the 20th of September, I met Bill Nighy.

Mark Featherstone-Witty and Bill Nighy.

At the beginning of this academic year, I was fortunate enough to receive a place for the sixth form at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Considering my deep love for the arts, more specifically acting; I have been constantly buzzing happily along every morning, making the commute to college. However, nothing could prepare me for the excitement I would face, just week 3 into the course (and my 18th birthday.)

The conversation was to be held in The Paul McCartney Theatre in the main LIPA building. The theatre, of which was packed with animated young actors from both college level and HE, awaiting the wise consultations of the widely loved, Bill Nighy.

The ever beautifully humble double BAFTA award-winner sat gracefully astute next to the schools’ director, Mark Featherstone-Witty, communicating a Q&A, encapsulating the entire room; dismissing any private conversation. Despite any preconceived confident exterior anyone had previously associated with Nighy, the discussion held a running theme of self-consciousness. He openly described how difficult he found acting throughout his career- “I am very good at producing negative propaganda about myself, I’m world class at it. I can listen to it now like a dodgy radio channel.” 

The talk was never low energy within talking about his insecurities and found a way of delivering his struggles with charm and pure inspiration, enthusing ” You can do incredible things whilst feeling chronically self- conscious, but you have to be really well prepared”. In fact, he went on to say “you have to be prepared like a motherfucker.” Which of course sent the room of 16-25 year olds into a rapturous applause.

Key advice Nighy was so keen to let us in on was pure preparation. “I’m quite familiar now with going onto film sets and being the only person who knows their lines.”
“They (other actors) will say you’ll become imprisoned by intonations and it’s therefore a discourtesy to your fellow professionals, but that’s bullshit.

“You keep it fresh by saying the line over and over and over again ‘til you can say it like you’ve never said it before – that’s the process.”
He understood that some actors think rehearsal is the enemy of spontaneity but not for him, he said: “It’s not. The reverse is true.”

A personal favourite response from the 75 minute session was one to answer the question of What was your most difficult role? To which he so cooly smirked So, I played a squid.”

All in all the experience had me, well, star struck and all I could manage when I stuck out a trembling hand for him to shake was “It was so lovely to listen to you.” But what I could take from the day was that any feelings of self- doubt or anxieties when performing is normal in a global success let alone me, accustomed to mirror singing and am-dram pantos; so I don’t think I have to worry quite as much.

 

Paige Janey x

I hope to be configuring a series of similar reports on my exciting endeavours into the wonderful guests at LIPA, so stay tuned!

Day of the Decaf

Day of the Decaf, Film Festival 2017

Okay, so I’m totally psyched for this one, hold on boys.

Day of the Decaf is the concept of local film maker Aaron Child, intended to provide “a platform for creatives and film makers through a fun genre and promote independent coffee shops in a unique way.” 

I spoke to  Aaron about the project whilst I was involved in a similar promotional for The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse. I asked him a little about the festival and how it came about. Aaron enthused:- “So many creative people gravitate towards coffee shops and If you get chatting to people- you will no doubt find like minded people sitting in the same room! So why not bring these people together?” 

There are six talented, local film makers involved this year, including Harry Fisher whom I had the privilege of working with on the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse zombie-short, The six venues on board are
Liar Liar, The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, Ginger and Co. , Greenwood Cafe and of course, Alberts Shed.

The screening of the films will be held at Alberts Shed on the 29th of October, fitting with the ‘zombie’ theme ~spooky~. There will be categorised prizes, including “best film”. After the screenings, there will be a Halloween party with live music and drinks; so if for no other reason, get your ass down for a good time. 

For more details, visit  www.dayofthedecaf.com

Paige Janey x

The Graduate 50th Anniversary

The Graduate, (Mike Nichols, USA, 1967) the classic story of Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate who is sent into despair by his older lover and her daughter; is seeing a 50th anniversary release this year. I saw it fitting to go back and revisit what made the film a counterculture phenomenon and why it is still relevant to the youth of today.

The Graduate was among one of the first films to be considered “New Hollywood”, an era of American cinema popularized during and after the late 1960s. A time when Hollywood (and the wider culture) made a motion towards the more liberal and rebellious energy of artistic expression. This is partly due to the slow decline in quality of the studio system but equally influential was the rapid expansion of the counterculture. From its conception, the studio system had expanded with little competition. It wasn’t until the Paramount Decree of 1948, essentially stopping the main studios from holding a monopoly over the entire industry, that this changed. The rise in alternative media, such as television, and exposure to more experimental presentation, in particular, the films of the French New Wave; meant audiences were expecting more than the mind-numbing escapism of the “parent” cinema.

If all this sounds familiar that’s because it is. It’s happening again right now. 50 years on and the “parent” cinema has numbed our brains with reality TV and a string of rebranded superheroes’ and Disney princesses. Luckily like Stanley Kubrick, Mike Nichols and Francis Ford Coppola a handful of contemporary directors (for instance Christopher Nolan, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Nicolas Winding Refn) are once again creating pieces of art. They regard their audiences as intelligent individuals rather than a mindless flock of sheep; producing films that spark discussion rather than harbour senselessness. Like their predecessors, they operate within mainstream cinema but are able to actively pursue artistic freedom. Like in The Graduate soundtrack is extremely important to these directors, it not only adds more opportunity for creative output but also allows for profound audience exploration. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, USA, 2011) in particular comes to mind for its use of pop icons in the soundtrack. Just as Simon & Garfunkel gave The Graduate an underpinning of alienation; the original and 2014 rescore of Drive (featuring artists such as The 1975, CHVRCHES and Bring Me The Horizon) give a clear sense of atmospheric tension. Both Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack and multiple tracks from the Drive rescore topped the charts; showing how appreciated they were by their respective youth cultures.

The Graduate has become an important part of film counterculture that has helped the youth of the time (and today) express repressed ideologies surrounding liberal views. It also convinced the establishment to acknowledge a dysfunctional class system that restricted the options available to young people. The establishment of today need to be reminded of such struggles; hopefully, this re-release will again get the youth engaged in such debates. Allowing social insecurities to be expressed once again through the curing images of film.

Peace & Love.

Charlie Vickers.

You can buy the film on Blu-ray and DVD here

DETROIT (2017) – REVIEW

We have to talk about Detroit. 

As my debut to Peace and Indiependence this review could go two ways; and as i’m already bending the rules in reviewing a blockbuster feature-length It’s not the best start. However I cannot stay quiet about this film. It was gruelling, it was raw, it was intense in every sense of the word and I am obliged to talk about it.

As a white female, from a privileged background, I sat to watch this film with my friend with little to no knowledge of the riots in America, in 1967. A mis-education I am endlessly disappointed with, given the potency of the horror-crimes committed towards the black community in The USA.

The opening sequence was an animation, explaining the rising tensions of the apartheid and where it escalated from, as a kind of compact documentary- at first I didn’t really understand the stylisation, given it being a cartoon at the beginning of such a deeply rooted film.. but after the sequence had finished i found it set a strong precedence of just hot deeply rooted the picture was attached to. Kathryn Bigelow (Dir/ Prod) delicately set a tone of respect in this room of people- preparing then for the heinous atrocities incapsulated in the film. It was a kind of disclosure- the artwork was beautifully executed; if I may also add.

In the promotion of the film, John Boyega and Will Poulter were heavily featured, however it was pleasant, the fact that Boyega’s character wasn’t overly established. He was set as a third person figure, yet was still interweaving with the main action. He had his own personal struggles being a black security guard during the riots, yet no one persons’ individual journey was particularly highlighted throughout, basically voicing how black people were treated with the vicious level of inhumanity. Saying this, you do find yourself grasping at Boyegas’ characters’ innocence in the Algiers Motel Massacre. 

Bigelow does quite the opposite with Will Poulter. Krauss (Poulter) was such a distinguished shit human being right from his first few minutes on screen; it is immediately established how corrupt the white police force operated and you just result in questioning your own humanity. It was so important that the producers eloquently incapsulated the white police force involved in Algiers incident as racist scum and I feel Will Poulters’ gruelling character did this justice. He could have easily slipped into an easier, more sympathetic personality but the edge he maintained was so bloody impressive/ disgusting.

I really respect the (rumoured) decision to remove scenes involving the brutality towards the two white girls (Hannah Murray and Kaitlyn Dever.) the producers made me as an audience member feel appropriately exposed and sickened by the rapey connotations between Krauss and Devers’ character; and Murrays’ clothes being ripped from her… On top of the relentless tourture and violence, it would have been just too much for me, personally, to swallow. Nonetheless, I do believe that without making  the viewers feel this way would be a huge injustice to everyone affected in this case. The pain should be demanded in everyone witnessing- and just by the raw purity that Bigelow created with her team and cast, I don’t think a better tribute could be been produced with this art form. 

Even with the limited knowledge I have of cinematography, I knew that I liked the way the lens perceived it, for instance the way the camera worked with the bustling of the city when the anger and riot was in full capacity. The camera swung in a confused daze generating an anxiety in me, clutching the chair as I watched.  The magnification onto the actors during the intimate scenes became too close for comfort- a perfect atmosphere on Barry Akroyds’ part. Like I said, as someone that doesn’t know the details of camera work and soundscaping, to notice how those elements are making me feel, I believe I have witnessed something really special that room. I hurt. I cried. I ached. I compel you to too.

*****

Paige Janey