Monthly Archives: April 2014

Review of Lego: The Movie

In this episode, Wayne was held in custody by the secret movie police for givng The Amazing Spider-man 2 a -2 review. In Wayne’s absence, it was up to Regular Justin and his trusted compadres, Darkest-Timeline Justin and Michelle to decontruct Lego and discover the truth of Lego, as in, whether Lego is a shallow advertisement, brainwashing kids into being obedient servile plebs, or if Lego really does have a heart… that loves… taking your cash. 

 

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Transcendence

Transcendence

Directed by Wally Pfister

Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany and Morgan Freeman

 

transcendence-johnny-depp-posterIn case you missed the news or the trailers were so generic that you just don’t care, there is a new Johnny Depp movie currently in theatres. What is it? You may be asking. Well think of a generic 90s techno-thriller-horror minus the thrills and the horror. The film is called Transcendence. What is it about? It’s apparently about The Singularity as predicted by Ray Kurzwell and discussed in the brilliant 2009 documentary Transcendental Man. If you are unfamiliar with Ray Kurzwell his theory in the simplest context is that in the near future technology will be advancing so quickly that the only way we will be able to keep up will be to adapt to machines with nanoprobe technology implanted in us.

In the film version however, Johnny Depp plays a scientist who creates an AI machine, not unlike what Kurzwell is currently working on with Google to develop a computer that can mimic the human brain. It is a fascinating concept and there is a lot that can be done within a science fiction film. Unfortunately, they do nothing more than update those generic thrillers from the 90s when people were afraid of the Internet stealing their information. The new techno-fear is that we will become machines. So, in many ways Transcendence is exploiting a common societal fear. If it were less obvious and even remotely suspenseful, this might be something that could be looked over.

bored-deppOne thing that cannot be looked over is the boredom seeping through Johnny Depp’s performance. While, I think Johnny Depp is generally limited as an actor who can only play two characters, that are either manic or melancholic, at least he is entertaining when he is manic or good when being melancholic in the right film such as Dead Man, Donnie Brasco or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Transcendence on the other is Johnny Depp playing melancholic in a generic thriller, as he has done many times, from The Astronauts Wife, Nick of Time or Secret Window. While these are not necessarily bad films they are middle of the road thrillers and best suited to home video.

Paul Bettany is perhaps the only reason to see Transcendence

Paul Bettany is the only reason to see Transcendence

The only worthwhile part of the film was time dedicated to Paul Bettany, who is always worth paying attention to, even though casual movie goers don’t know his name Bettany brings some life to every film he is in, whether it be A Knight’s Tale, Master and Commander or The DaVinci Code. Paul Bettany works well with whatever he has to work with. Unfortunately, Bettany is not on screen enough to save Transcendence from mediocrity and Johnny Depp is just famous enough to save the Transcendence from obscurity and to keep the film going direct to DVD or VOD.

This is not a film that I want to tell people to avoid, as its one of the few Hollywood films out this year that is not a franchise property or a brand name, unfortunately the film is so generic, that you will most likely forget it within days of seeing it. Therefore, Transcendence is a rental at best.

 

The Cult of Mike judge Idiocracy to Extract

 

In the latest episode of the Soylent GreenScreen Podcast, our intrepid crew journey through the cult of Mike Judge films to determine whether cvilization is moving towards an idiocracy and if Mike Judge is creating an expanded cinematic universe where Stephen Root is God.

Just kidding about Stephen Root being God. We wish we’d thought of that during the recording of the podcast, obviously we were distracted by Ben Afflecks beard. Meanwhile… Michelle is still coming to terms with Affleck playing Batman. 

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Eros & Thanatos

I just saw Bunuel’s Exterminating Angel and thought I’d repost this.

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Eros and Thanatos

This essay will discuss sexuality in the films of Bobcat Goldthwaite and Luis Bunuel. This will be undertaken through an analysis of the life and death drives referred to, Sigmund Freud, as Eros (God of Love) and what post Freudian analysts have termed, the death drive of Thanatos (God of Death).

The Theory

Eros is the life force. This includes creativity, sexual instincts, and the ego instinct of self-preservation.  Thanatos, is the unconscious drive towards death and dissolution, eventually resulting in self-destruction via ego-splitting and conspiracy to annihilate anything of decency. Eros  is not simply a self-preservation instinct often confused with self-centeredness or narcissism (Coleman, 2006, p. 257). Eros encompasses the act of creation on every level.  The Eros life force propels one to leave a lasting legacy and to procreate.  This drives people towards sexual relations in that they not only want to live, but…

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

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1.37:1 Aspect Ratio

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1.37:1 Aspect Ratio

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1.37:1 Aspect Ratio

Directed by Wes Anderson

Written by Wes Anderson

Inspired by Stefan Zweig

Starring every major actor who has ever appeared in a Wes Anderson film

 

I just got home from watching The Grand Budapest Hotel and I will admit without hesitation, I enjoyed this film more than any other film I have seen in a very long time. This is one of the few films in recent memory where I actually wanted more time with the characters. I was not wondering what the time was, or fidgeting in my seat. I was absorbed by what was happening in this film.

The film looks beautiful and Wes Anderson seamlessly blends models and miniatures with stop motion and digital effects. The aspect ratio was unusual in that within each story, the aspect ratio changes. For the most part the film is set in in 1932 and screened in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio, as this was the Academy Standard in 1932 while the scenes with the narrator set in the 1970s are in 2.35:1, which was the standard aspect ratio of that time and the girl in a more contemporary setting, reading the book about the narrator telling the story is in 1.78:1 which is the standard aspect ratio today. This may sound strange, and it is, oddly enough it works brilliantly as we are drawn into the world of Gustav H. through a story within a story, within a story. What this brings is an incredible sense of depth through a wide-angle lens while omitting widescreen.

This appears as a fantastical world of Wes Anderson, yet there is perhaps more pathos than audiences are accustomed to in these films. The emotional core of this film was both funny and tragic while also functioning as an allegory of pre WW2 Europe through the gradual loss of pride and violence seeping through the aesthetics.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) had on-screen violence, in stabbing a boy and Snoopy (the dog) being impaled. The Grand Budapest Hotel takes the violence to a new level. Yes, there is blood in this film and despite some of the criticisms of Wes Anderson films being too cute, his films are more adult than they have ever been. Where Moonrise Kingdom dealt with the pain of growing up, the onscreen violence felt unnecessary but may be clearer on a second viewing. The Grand Budapest Hotel appears more interested in the pain of isolation, disconnection, totalitarian occupations and love lost. While the violence mentioned may sound out-of-place in these films, one of the running themes of the film was the need to maintain one’s humanity in a savage world. So when the film aesthetically looks like a fairy tale, the content is deceptively dark and in many ways brilliant. So there is a lot to take in, which is why I recommend this film very highly. as an intelligent film that is engaging on multiple levels.

2.35:1 Aspect Ratio

2.35:1 Aspect Ratio

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Spider-man Sequel (A.K.A. ASS)

 

In this mini episode Darkest Timeline Justin and Wayne review The Amazing Spider-man 2: Rise of Electro and discuss what could very well be the worst hollywood tentpole film in a very long time. 

Darkest Timeline Justin says, Amazing Spider-man Sequel (ASS) Is a real stamina test. At 2 and a half hours it felt like my eyes were going to drop out. On the upside Spiderman in costume is much improved and the scenes of him flying through the streets are the best they’ve ever been. That said, the movie itself is a disjointed mess mostly interested in setting up future installments and spin offs rather than telling an actual story. Peter Parker as a hero is still a character I can’t connect with. The love story between him and Gwen is tiresome and after a while you just sort of try to tune it out or use it to relax your eyes. Character behaviour is driven by what the story needs rather than by their own personality and needs. The fight scenes are stunning but it does suffer from it being CGI smackdown between two characters. So what is the story about? Well nothing really there isnt one, it’s just a garbled mess. 3/10

Wayne on the other hand thought ASS was so bad that he gave it a deficit score of -2/10. Because 0 wasn’t low enough. If you want to hear why listen to the episode. If you don’t agree you can twittify us @SGSpod or comment on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/soylentgreenscreenpodcast 

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Coming Soon.

Thank you to those who have downloaded and listened to our first two episodes.

We appreciate the feedback and how responsive you guys have been. We are about to record our next batch of episodes over the easter break.

The next episode will definitely be on Mike Judge, focusing on Idiocracy, Extract and Office Space.

 

In future episodes and in the lead up to the new Godzilla film we will discuss the development of Godzilla as a cultural icon of the 1950s and as a franchise stalwart that keeps coming back.

To tie in with May 4th (which has somehow morphed into an official Star Wars Day) we will discuss the culture of Star Wars as presented in the cult film Fanboys.

If you have any feedback or film suggestions tweet us @SGSpod 

Thanks for listening and have a fantastic Easter break from the Soylent GreenScreen team. 

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Episode 2: Veronica Mars, Captain America and a dash of Ozploitation

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Veronica MarsCaptain America 2 Poster

 

 

In our second episode, two of our podcasters were missing in action so we sat down to discuss Veronica Mars and the ways in which Veronica Mars reinvented Film Noir. Yes, there are character spoilers but we promise that the mystery Veronica Mars solves is not discussed or given away. In the second half we discussed the new Captain America film and the ways that Captain America has reinvented the the espionage and paranoia films of the 60s and 70s on a grand scale. This is followed by further discussion on The Raid 2 reinventing the fight/action film and a few references to Ozploitation films. 

 

Veronica Mars Movie Trailer

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer

Dead End Drive Inn Trailer

 

Turkey Shoot Trailer

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Episode 1: Schlock A.K.A. Banana Monster

 

 

In the first episode of The Soylent GreenScreen Podcast Wayne, Justin, Justin and Michelle take on John Landis’ first film, Schlock A.K.A Banana Monster (1973) to determine if John Landis has a plan or if his films are simpple crazy hijinks. This is followed up in the second with further investigation into the running gags about fried chicken in John Landis films plus a discussion on more contemporary films that winds up questioning the acting skills of Nick Frost. 

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Fritz Lang’s Film Noirs and Changing Concepts of Masculinity

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The 1940s represented a time when masculine control of the world was coming undone. Men returning from war, the social paranoia of the emerging cold war and the perceived communist threat to America were all signifiers of a world where man is not as dominant as he once believed. Therefore, the masculine role was changing. When this changes the feminine roles change too. It was these social changes that led to the shaping of what we now know as Film Noir. The man losing control or giving up control is not an invention of film noir but it is a staple of the Film Noir protagonist. Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Window (1944) and his follow-up film Scarlet Street (1945) are excellent representations of the changes in masculinity in the 1940s. These two films starring Edward G. Robinson will be explored through this essay.

Masculine Control:

By social standards there…

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