Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Opinion: (Other) Films I Love

Unlike my similar post last year on the shows I love but won't review, this year I'm looking at film. And, because it's a little more extensive, I'll be looking at wider sections of Films as well as individual pieces.

Pixar Films
Steve Jobs' only real contribution to the civilised world worth talking about is his endorsement of Pixar Studios, initially created by George Lucas and eventually sold to Disney. Unlike many studios out there, I can really feel that Pixar does what they do for the artistic value of the work itself. It's about the story and its characters first and foremost, and so they're prepared to do anything and animate anything to make sure that they come across well.
     My favourite Pixar film is probably Wall-E, which I see as a really fun apocalyptic drama with some decent environmental themes. Wall-E is one of the only Pixar films that doesn't work on some kind of parental bonding, and it's risky for the company merely because of that - the only other times that they have escaped the formula are the Cars movies, which are by far the company's biggest let-downs. I also love Finding Nemo, for its excellent cast and soundtrack, and Up for its brilliant writing, taking what could have been a stereotypical mess and moulding it into something moving and powerful.
     2011's Cars 2 was the studio's lowest point to date. But, unlike with other production teams, I can be sure that 2012's Brave is going to be the animated movie event of the year.  Pixar continue to be the pioneers of 3D animation and so far haven't strayed too far from their key focus upon bringing joy to the world through film.

Richard Curtis' early stories used Hugh Grant in his place.
Richard Curtis
The writer of The Vicar of Dibley and Blackadder, Richard Curtis, is one of the best British comedy writers of a generation. His homely style and his cast of recurring actors makes his ouvre one constantly evolving examination of Britain and what it finds funny. His first two films, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill are similarly written, Hugh-Grant-driven rom-coms with very witty writing, even if they are both cursed with having a similar format.
      There is no film for me, however, that rivals Love Actually as a feel-good experience. In our house we watch it every Christmas, but not just for the setting - for the characters, for the comedy and for the music. It's cheesy in parts but all in all Love Actually is a brutally optimistic examination of all kinds of love, intertwined with parodies of a Very British Christmas.
      His most recent film, Rock The Boat, is less of the normal Richard Curtis Rom-com but is still one of his best works to date. Set on a pirate radio barge in the 1960s, the film's chaotic mix of parody and genuine adoration for its era is perfectly set up by its cast of loveable characters. The film's climax, set to Procul Harem's A Whiter Shade of Pale, is an incredibly powerful scene and really demonstrates the power of the music itself.
       Richard Curtis has contributed more to British Culture over the past three decades than a lot of people have. He'll always be one of my heroes, and hopefully the rest of the British public see him as one too.

Back To The Future is awesome from the poster up.
Back To The Future
Time-travel has always interested me. Back To The Future caught my eye at the age of nine, and by the end of the film I simply had to get the rest. Rather willingly, my parents bought me the trilogy, and the rest is history. While some of the writing can be a little cliché in places, there's no denying that the trilogy is one of the most simply fun sci-fi series in cinema.
     In a way, it's dated attempts to portray the Eighties as first the modern day and then a time to look back upon make BTTF a key example of the way that Eighties culture evolved in the latter half of the decade. The first film, made in the mid-eighties and set in the 50s, is similar to a number of films at the time hearkening back to those "Golden Years." The second, made in 1988, spends time in the past but also looks forward to a future that looks upon the Eighties lovingly. And the third and final film is a pseudo-Western, showing how in the early 90s Sci-Fi evolved into new forms.
      Back To The Future often feels phoney, but that's just its Eighties aesthetic. The trilogy is a great feel-good experience, blending the right mix of comedy and drama to produce some of the finest sci-fi-comedy in the 20th Century.


The Marvel Cinematic Universe
The rest of this article was written in January, but this section was written much later, in late April. The Avengers and the series surrounding it is one of the most ambitious film projects since the Harry Potter Franchise, seeing six films completed in four years with many more in pre-production. This series continues to be absolutely astonishing in terms of the quality of direction, storytelling, characterisation and cinematography, and I absolutely adore the fact that this style of film is in the mainstream. 
   The most important thing that this series of films has brought and will continue to bring to Western Cinema is the same style of continuity as one sees in the original comics, with characters and storylines crossing completely different genres in a really enjoyable way. What's more, this franchise is gonna have at least another three films out in the next two years, which is some great production rate. The fun never stops.

One Man In Black that I don't find annoying.
The Princess Bride
Yeah, this isn't a group of films, but one in particular. I only really discovered The Princess Bride from TV Tropes and then saw that my sister had it on video. I wasn't disappointed. Based on a book by William Goldman, the film is a hilarious pastiche of the entire fantasy genre while still managing to be an epic and powerful entry in its own right. The film's clever writing has meant that a lot of its phrases and lines have entered American popular culture.
       And so, if this article has anything to really say, it'd be to reccomend that you go and see this movie. I don't want to spoil anything, and that's how the film is best viewed. I can promise you that The Princess Bride is one of the most funny and heart-warming films that certainly I can reccomend.

Thanks.

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