The Good People of London Fallen

Just as “bourbon and poor choices” led Mike Banning to become the secret service super machine, beer and poor choices led us to late night Netflixs and London has Fallen.

If you saw the first instalment, the second is no surprise. A forgein guy (with religious and ideological issues tastefully removed) had a revenge plot against western civilisation. He didn’t throw the first punch, he probably says in a delicately accented voice, but he is going to change the world forever. Errr…probably not.

The film isn’t going to win any awards, except biggest fearmongering effort of the year or lamest sequel since every other lame sequel. What is most interesting is the good people of London. By good, I mean obedient and invisible.

London is a backdrop, a stage prop that falls into place behind the actors and does very little apart from having a number of recognisable landmarks that get destroyed. The people of London end up being insignificant.

When it becomes obvious that the army of terrorists are dressed like emergency services, the chief inspector pulls all emergency services and sounds the air raid siren (do they still have one covering the city?) so only the terrorists are left. Now Banning can kill everyone he meets without worry about identifying them because they are carrying a non-standard issue machine gun. Handy.

But would the people of London be so obedient without emergency services and CCTV surveillance? I sure hope they wouldn’t. While anyone’s first thought would be riots and public disobedience, might there not be a second reaction? Given the absence of obvious protection would not Londoners rise up to protect themselves and their families. I like to think so.

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You can’t get more B-movie than Violated (1953)

Crime B-movies are a dime a dozen. There are more crime B-movies than a there are porterhouse steaks in a butcher’s shop. Except Violated would be a steak a little too bloody with too much gristle.

From the opening sequence, which contains an unseen vicious murder, an unseen killer and lots of screaming, to the ending, which provides a convenient psychological answer, the doctors tell us it was “subconscious compulsion right down to the hair fetish,” Violated is the very epitome of B-movie.

The premise of the film is everything you might expect: a violent crime with sexual motivations by an unknown individual investigated by the police. There are a couple of suspects, some explanations from a doctor and a couple of possible victims (in this case a young girl starting a modelling career and a burlesque dancer).

The police are as wooden as the plain room sets they inhabit. It’s not worth your while distinguishing one cop from another, they are all one formless entity only in the film to help the viewer figure out the identity of the murder. At one point, a roomful of cops are interviewing a suspect and one, I can’t remember which and it doesn’t seem to matter, says you’ll talk “you dirty rat.”

One of the most interesting elements of the film is the reaction of the police. A cop fires into the air after hearing someone shout “Hey, stop that guy.” It makes you wonder whether the film is being overly dramatic or the fifties were a very different time. Let’s hope it was the former.

Look out of the lynchpin of the police’s investigation, it’s a suit sent to the drycleaners with hair on it. A far cry from modern police procedurals and crime scene investigators, but it works in the movie as does the killer’s explanation. After the doctor puts the guy under, we get a brief explanation

The killer’s failure to go through with marriage because her “was afraid of having children” leads the doctor to ask, “Was your childhood so terrible?” Of course it was, how could it not be. The first problem was “I once saw my father cry,” but then it turns out the killer saw “A man was stroking my mother’s long beautiful hair and kissing her.” Who was that man? Well, he’s not in the film, but he also wasn’t his dad.

Violated even has a moral for us, more of a warning if you like. Want to know what we should look out for to avoid this morally corrupt individuals? Look for the guy that helps you pick up papers when you drop them. If you’re not careful he’ll turn out to be a sexual monster with a pair of scissors.

My favourite parts of the film? Easy, couple of burlesque dancers getting into a quick cat fight and the creepy killer as he goes down a fire escape. Forget the wooden cops, this actor was going out Stanislavsky on the part.

Watch Violated online. The extended shot of the burlesque dancer in a top hat is the very definition of gratuitous. 

 

Gatsby’s Car and the American Dream

The Great Gatsby and the Car

If the Fast and Furious franchise has taught us anything, it is that cars are closely linked to the American Dream. It should be no surprise that The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a novel considered a seminal text of the American Dream, features a car as both plot device and symbol.

Gatby’s car, introduced when Gatsby’s takes Nick to lunch, represents his status and can be understood as a of Gatsby’s character.

 “It was a rich cream color, bright and there in it’s monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns.” (pg.33)

 The bright colour of the car and reference to the mirrored suns reflects Gatsby’s wealth as well as an attempt to draw the attention of Daisy. The metaphorical reference to it’s “monstrous length” provide an over-exaggerated depiction of Gatsby and his wealth. The listing of various boxes that have been attached provide a sense of the added adornments that pus the car, and by implication Gatsby, beyond the more established wealth of East Egg and Tom and Daisy.

 

The contrast between Gatsby and Tom and proximity of their characters is presented through the pivotal Plaza Hotel chapter when they swap cars, facilitating the first tragedy of the novel (it is arguable there are many tragedies in The Great Gatsby, the first irrevocable tragedy is the death of Myrtle). Tom’s brief stop at Wilson’s garage while driving Gatsby’s car sets the stage for Myrtle running out into the street and in front of the speeding car after the traumatic events at the Plaza Hotel. By running out into the street, Myrtle is actively chasing her dream of Tom and wealth. Her death presents a dramatic reminder of the fatal consequences of chasing a dream.

 During their brief stay at the Plaza Hotel, both Gatsby and Daisy are forced to confront the reality of each other. Gatsby faces the obstacle of Daisy’s love for Tom that cannot be quickly swept away. Daisy realises that Tom and Gatsby are more similar than she might have imaged, diminishing the dreamlike status of Gatsby. After Tom has triumphed over Gatsby and regained his wife, it is significant that he says:

 “You two start on home, Daisy,” said Tom. “In Mr. Gatsby’s car.” (126)

 Tom is clearly confident in his victory over Gatsby and nothing to feel from the man, trusting that even though Daisy will ride in the Gatsby’s monstrous car, it will not be sufficient enough to provide Gatsby with any measure of success. When Gatsby’s car become the “death car” (128) after leaving the Plaza Hotel, it is not just Myrtle who is killed, Daisy and Gatsby’s dreams have also died.

 Let us forget for a moment the ridiculousness of Daisy wanting to drive so she could steady her nerves. Gatsby tells Nick, “when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive” (133). Instead, the death of Myrtle is a symbolic retaliation of Daisy on Tom for his cruel destruction of her dream. Unfortunately, Myrtle’s tragedy begins a reaction that ultimately kills Wilson and Gatsby utilising the car as a means to (incorrectly) identifying the murderer.

 Oh yes, and here is a Fast and Furious trailer for good measure.

 

 

 

Say it ain’t so, another Suicide Squad trailer 

Say it ain’t so, another Suicide Squad trailer 

We are days away from the release of Suicide Squad and what do we get? Another trailer.

Suicide Squad, another trailer…
An obvious advertising ploy given the Comic Con schedule. Maybe a little redundant because of all the other trailers.

The movie does look like it’s going to be good, even though there doesn’t seem much footage that hasn’t already been in the trailers. I don’t think I have the patience, but I wonder how much of the film could be created from the trailers. 

I am also curious whether there will be a post film trailer. 

Has Suicide Squad had a trailer?

It’s the start of June, summer feels like it’ really getting started. We’ve booked the holiday, department stores are starting to put swimsuits on sale and grocery stores are selling beers pre-mixed with lime. I’m thinking to myself what do I really need? Another Suicide Squad trailer? No, not really.

And yet here is the new trailer.

So, this one has all the parts we’ve already seen in the other trailer, except Batman makes a cameo . And really, doesn’t that make all the difference? While the Batman footage doesn’t look completely different from the fan film shot during production, there is yet more on this mysterious enemy they are fighting.

The Joker is clearly on the guest list, but might not be the big bad enemy. The Joker is too valuable to waste on the first film. Jared might be looking like a good bit of franchise work.

Instead, the villain for the Suicide Squad movie looks to be legion in numbers and probably supernatural. In an interview, David Ayer hinted at the villain saying the Squad faced a dangerous and unknown force. Clips suggest supernatural, which is convenient if you want an opportunity for a bunch of bad guys to cause destruction.

The Suicide Squad might not be as good as Deadpool, but we are looking forward its arrival on August 5. That should give enough time for another trailer, right?

 

Hardcore Henry

Hardcore Henry. It sounds a little like a cross between a kids programme and an adult film, it’s neither. If you haven’t already seen the trailer you are missing out. At first it looks like a gimmick and after a few different shots you realise it is a serious film shot completely in first person.

There is nothing new under the sun, just better versions. Hardcore Henry looks like a much better version of the 2005 film Doom, staring Dwayne Johnson. Now Doom was a box office boom, bringing in less money than it cost to make. There have been other, better first person movies like the 1947 adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel Lady in the Lake. Hardcore Henry is a lot more, well Hardcore, in terms of violence and action.

Is it going to be easier to watch Hardcore Henry than The Blair Witch Project? Probably, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make any money. At the very least, someone found a good use for a GoPro.

Hardcore Henry

Agent Carter

Agent CarterAs the second season of Agent Carter draws to a close, I start to realise that I have been subject to a story that stretches beyond super villains, mobsters, spies and corruption. Although, to be honest, I must have been distracted by all the Marvel superhero connections.

In season one, Agent Carter was a marginalised agent working secretly for Howard Stark while also finding herself marginalised by the male agents. Season two has taken a different approach with the characters of Whitney Frost and Jason Wilkes. Issues of gender have been enhanced with race and social status. The aptly named zero matter, which already exists in the Marvel universe, has been used to good effect in the story of characters who find themselves restricted by social conventions and given opportunities to subvert morality under the influence of the unknown, unimaginable and uncontrollable power of zero matter, which for most of the series consisted of Whitney Frost using black goo to absorb people.

Having a show with a main female character leads to an inevitable marginalisation of the show. The fact that it is a period drama, doesn’t help, especially when it is going to be compared to Agents of Shield which is more directly connected to the Avengers movies.

A better comparison is the Marvel shows on Netflix, Daredevil, with a male main character and Jessica Jones, with a female main character. While Daredevil gets a higher status because of the familiarity that may exist because of the less than successful Ben Affleck film or a hugely successful five decades of comics, does that really account for the show’s success in relation to Jessica Jones?

The issues of female characters on TV (and in film for that matter) continues to be of concern. Just look at Wonder Woman in Batman vs Superman. Sure she is going to get her own film, but she still needs to be introduced by Batman and Superman just as Superman needs a little helping hand from the cinematic successes of Batman. In Agent Carter, the writers and producers have taken a more proactive approach to the situation of gender and race in the setting of the 1950s.

Whitney Frost is striving against objectification while also absorbing the attention and compliments of men (when she isn’t literary absorbing men). Jason Wilkes is intangible for most of the series. His ability to make a physical impact reduced to nothing and occasionally become completely invisible and disappearing altogether. A little being of Richard Wright influence there? Probably a little too heavy for superhero show. Which brings us to the al important question of whether dealing with such weighty issues adds to the entertainment of the show and whether it should be renewed.

Why it shouldn’t be renewed is easy. This series does what other series don’t do. After the first Captain America film, it is no longer directly connected the cinematic franchise. Sure, it could be made relevant, but if one thing is being made clear with the Agents of Shield TV show, if the show can’t fit in with the film, it won’t. There have been little attempts to even suggest that the film could connect to the show. I mean, Fury appeared in the Age of Ultron, why not Agent Coulson? Well, there was that whole ‘Coulson got killed’ plot point to explain from the first Avengers film.

Why Agent Carter should be renewed is more difficult. Should the show be renewed just because it is doing something that no other show is doing? Part of me says yes, but if it can’t attract the viewers then maybe people aren’t ready for the ideas or the ideas aren’t being presented in an appropriately appealing way. Do we need difficult issues presented in an appealing way? Kinda yes. In order to introduce difficult ideas, they have to be presented in an accessible manner. Sure they are difficult but people won’t seek difficult ideas without motivation. Why would they?