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The Epic of Everest (1924)
Absolutely stunning film.
Comprised entirely of silent footage taken during the Mallory and Irvine expedition of 1924.
I doubt I'm revealing much of a spoiler when I say it didn't end well. Knowing the fate that befell the young men on the mountain, it makes the footage all the more poignant, particularly the early scenes featuring smiling, optimistic faces at the beginning of their challenge.
Although digitally remastered, it's hard to believe your watching footage that is (almost) a century old. The skies, the mountain peaks, and the small, close details captured on film look almost as fresh as anything from the modern era.
There is a subtle ambient soundtrack played throughout the film that really adds to both the impressive, otherworldly landscape of wonder and the creeping, inescapable finality of how it will play out. A strangely disturbing mix of the ephemeral and the eternal. (Easily the most pretentious thing I've typed in years!)
How things change, yet stay the same.
The -not strictly necessary, but still very welcome- sequel to Jake West's 2010 Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape. This one's a bit more detailed than the first film's overview, with in- depth interviews with some of the people who were arrested for possessing, copying and sometimes dealing the films on the banned list. As well as some of the people responsible for making the films included on the banned list and organising the festivals where they were screened.
For Brit film fans of a certain type and age, there's some nostalgia gold in this.
Thank golly we would never again have to suffer under a Tory government who would try and impose their morally superior control over the media us delicate plebeian ingrates can enjoy. All that dangerous, unregulated 'esoteric content' is out there for us to enjoy, unfiltered and free to view anonymously without anyone monitoring our choices.
Eh? What's that now? Oh.
So, yeah, buy a copy, it's cracking good stuff.
The Last of Us Fan Film (2013)
A Loyal tribute.
A little late to the party, I've recently been playing the brilliant PS3 game The Last Of Us. As with many popular video games, it has inspired a number of 'fan films' online. If you didn't already know, these are small, low budget, short films inspired by the original digit-pixel time- wasters. If you have a look on YouTube, there's thousands of 'em.
I done a search the other day and this one 'topped the charts', so to speak. Even if you haven't played the game, although it'll definitely help if you have, I think there's something to be enjoyed in this.
Set twenty years after a rather nasty fungal infection has decimated humanity, it focuses on Joel and Ellie making their way through a wasted, fading landscape, hoping to make contact with an underground resistance group called The Fireflies. The Fireflies have a medical team that can potentially harness Ellie's immunity to the infection and create a cure, ensuring humanity's survival. On the way they encounter numerous dangers both human and infected. A bit like The Walking Dead, but without the boring six months spent on a farm bit.
As someone who has spent a great deal of time watching films, playing games and making zero-budget splatter-flicks, I feel I can pass a relatively experienced eye over such endeavours.
Starting with the bad: The building used in the film is covered in graffiti. This makes no sense as the infection spread fast and would've left little time for decorative tagging. Lifting dialogue directly from the game feels a little forced when comparable scripting would have worked just as well. The guy playing Joel looks a little young and the girl playing Ellie looks a little mature. The 'Clicker' they encounter basically looks like a normal fella with a cake glued onto his face.
The good: The building used looks very much like the hotel in the game (the level it's based on), and considering this was made on a pocket-money budget, the graffiti is easily forgivable. Both the main actors capture the game's characters style and mannerisms very well. Idiots on YouTube complain that 'Joel' is too young and 'Ellie' is too old. Well, when it was made Jeff Moffitt was 47 and Kate McLeod was (a young looking) 20, so that's guff. They nailed it in my humble. The action choreography was spot-on. It caught the mood of the game. It looks great considering the almost complete absence of budget.
Have a watch, it's ace.
Originally posted at: http://filmplop.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/180614- last-of-us-fan-film-2013.html
Almost Human (2013)
Low budget horror film that tries to combine Invasion Of The Body Snatchers with Carpenter's The Thing and, surprisingly, does a very good job of it.
A chap with a beard disappears in a flash of light then he wakes up naked in a forest two years later. He changes a bit in the time he's gone, and instead of throwing himself a welcome home party with a big cake, he starts killing people and inserting alien eggs into their bodies via a long, fleshy egg-pipe that comes out of his mouth. It all gets very bloody and then ends.
It's absolutely straight-up, with nothing complex or contrived, just a decent, well made horror film with some excellent, splatty practical effects. The only flaw is some of the acting is a little weak, one character in particular is amusingly bad in some scenes, otherwise it's a real little cracker and worth seeking out.
Originally at http://filmplop.blogspot.co.uk/
Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)
The most profound experience ever committed to film.
loved this film as a kid. Although, like most children, I was a largely useless idiot who drew energy from sherbet and E-numbers, even then I had enough awareness to realise that the acting in this film is a relentless sensory pummelling of awful.
However, it does have dinosaurs in it, and at that age, that's all you need to make a film brilliant. Some years ago me and my brother went to see Land And Freedom, The Ken Loach film about a young Scouser who goes over to Spain to fight against fascism. As an adult, I could appreciate the nuances of the story and found the ending very emotional and poignant. As a child I would've found it boring. If there had been a version where the fifteen minute conversation about collectivised farming had ended with a Tyrannosaurus and a Triceratops kicking each other's balls off, I would've loved it. Point is, if you drop dinosaurs in any old crap, pre-teen boys will love it. Hence why, I loved this film as a nipper, even with performances that could fairly be used as a litmus standard of terrible.
Also, if this film didn't have dinosaurs in it, it would just be called 'Planet'. That would be rubbish.
Anyway, in this thundering mud-baby of brilliance, a group of people are flying through space in a plastic model spaceship, it goes wrong so they get in a plastic escape cup and fall onto the dino-globe.
They then spend about 80% of the film walking, occasionally stopping to forget their dialogue and battle with some amusing stop motion plasticine lizards who have trouble retaining size continuity from shot to shot.
The effects are actually not too shabby here and there and it looks like the sculpting of the creatures was the only part of the film where any money and effort was expended.
If nothing else, it's worth seeing for the range of moustaches involved and the acting.
Originally at: http://filmplop.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/230213-planet-of- dinosaurs-1977.html
What Richard Did (2012)
A mostly excellent Irish film about a double murderer (one gerbil, one human) and the effect that seemingly small acts can have in the immediate and long term.
The Richard of the title is an 18yr old lad from a good family living in an idyllic portrait of youth: beach parties, disposable income, good looks, popularity, mobility and a bright looking future.
One night, he attends a party where alcohol blurs perception and emotions run high, leading to an (unintentionally) fatal confrontation. The remainder of the film is an exploration of how Richard deals with the repercussions of his actions and highlights the burden of guilt he carries.
The acting, by the whole cast, is superb, and elevates what could be a mundane film into the realms of a highly recommended one.
Originally posted at: http://filmplop.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/050213- what-richard-did-2012.html
Killing Them Softly (2012)
Retro style crime thriller
Slow-burner crime flick that's thankfully free of the usual action film silliness.
Two low level goons rob a card game run by the mob and, by making off with the wedge, apparently cause the city's 'criminal economy' to collapse.
It's a rather heavy metaphor of American economics and the wealth divide that comes with unshackled capitalism, set in 2008 the Bush/Obama electoral race plays out in the background to reinforce this. The plot of the film itself is an obvious micro-study of America's wobbly fiscal position, Brad Pitt's final sentences in the film sum it up well.
Although set in recent times, the film seems to make a strong effort to look like something from past decades. Aside from the election race footage (seemingly on every screen passed in the film) there is one brief shot of a mobile phone, everything else: clothes, hairstyles, cars, even the weapons used are far less era specific, giving the film a drab 1970s look. The retro look suits the film's throwback vibe, it's far more about dialogue and acting than crash-visuals and violence fetishism. Y'know, like film's used to be.
Originally at: http://filmplop.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/301212-killing- them-softly-2012.html
The Devil's Business (2011)
Two hit men arrive at a house under instruction to kill the guy who lives there. They sit around talking waiting for him to get home, one of 'em goes for a Pooh just as he gets back. Timing, eh?
The cast, all four of them, are very good, especially Billy Clarke as Pinner, the elder, experienced hit-man. His unblinking 10 minute monologue is flipping ace, a great, weighty centrepoint of the film. The majority of the runtime is the verbal exchange between the two hit men, there is gore and jump scares but they're not over used and the script will hold your attention as it creates a nice creeping tension.
The only weak point is the very end of the film, without giving anything away, it gets, we thought, a little silly. It's a let-down, but a forgivable one as the hour leading up to it was so enjoyable and well made.
Well worth a purchase/rental!
Anthology horror film. The wraparound is about a bunch of petty criminals who are told to break into a house and steal a VHS tape. Obviously by someone who still thinks it's 1998.
They get in the house and find a bum-load of tapes and a dead bloke. Rather than doing anything logical, they decide to watch some of the tapes. The film breaks into five standalone mini-flicks. All of them, to varying levels of contrivance, use the found footage format.
I actually like the found footage thing, it can be very effective, Blair Witch was great and the little known Brit film Exhibit A was excellent, nasty stuff. The style works particularly well in horror where it can cut corners by having stuff 'just happen', things need less explanation when they are witnessed by incidental cameras rather than framed in a traditional narrative. However, this film does feel like it's a little late to the party.
Anyway, the first and last are the best efforts, the middle three feeling a bit like filler, although all entertaining enough.
As with Trick 'R' Treat a few years ago, this film seems to have got the horror fans foaming at the arse with excitement, every review praising it beyond its true merit. I think this is indicative of the dull lack of originality in the horror genre these days. It's a good, entertaining film, but in no way a future classic.
Meh, that'll do.
Originally at: http://filmplop.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/100812-vhs-2012.html
The Collapsed (2011)
Slow, but with a nice creeping tension.
*Spoilers are very mild* Low budget Candian film (IMDB says $150,000. If that's Canadian dollars, that works out at about five shillings) that follows a family as they amble through a seemingly limitless countryside, trying to find somewhere safe after an unspecified apocalyptic event.
The slow reveal as to the nature of the event is where the film eventually concludes, in a somewhat less than cheery fashion.
It's well shot, well acted and well paced. The only flaw, and I'm willing to forgive it considering the budget, is the free-form sounding, trumpet-heavy soundtrack. Although I might just dislike trumpets.
I've decided, yup, trumpets are definitely bastards. So you should seek this out and give it a go. It's good.
8.5/10 Originally at: http://filmplop.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/160512-collapsed-2011.html