Bloggus Interuptus

I have not been blogging with my usual regularity. Life has got in the way a little bit and I decided that I wanted to get some editing practice in, just as a way to keep in with the ‘I’m a filmmaker’ narrative I keep telling myself. is my go to for lonesome film practice needs. Their site has great information for a would be filmmaker and they also have a load of RAW film clips to work on – editing, colour, effects – take a gander.

links to my own efforts are below.
Bad News

Don’t Speak

Ah Ms. Banks, you really ought to check the filmography of those whose careers you wish to speak of before you decide to besmirch the name of a director, especially a white, Jewish, industry heavyweight like Spielberg.
There has been in Hollywood over the past couple of years a real push for more prominent roles for women and any race that isn’t white. That this is a thing in a country where a black man can start his own self-sustaining film industry – Tyler Perry – or a woman can, as far back as the sixties – Lucille Ball – run a television studio, is a little odd to a black person looking on from the United Kingdom as the U. S. was always the place to look for any sort cultural and ‘people like us’ references.
Blaxploitation, the blanket term used to describe the slew of black films that came out in the early seventies in America, set the tone. Films with black leads, set in black communities and featuring identifiable black cultural references. The films still managed to cross ethnic barriers, appealing to many outside of the black community at which it was marketed. Bruce Lee was the lone voice for Asian cinema with him popularising martial arts in the West.
Since the early days of cinema, it has always been a boys and their toys medium. Early works were made mostly by men, though Alice Guy-Blaché is credited as one of the pioneers of cinema having made a film, albeit only a minute long, way back in 1896.

What was important with regards to her early film, is that it was given a narrative at a time when other pioneers such as the Lumiere’s and Edison were only thinking in terms of a ‘live’ photograph.
Still Elizabeth Banks’ accusatory tweet – social media really gets people in trouble sometimes – dragging Spielberg over the lack of female leads in his films, whilst in some respects true – his films, like most leading Hollywood films, tend to have male leads – he did with his adaption of black author Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple back in 1985, address the issue of colour and a female lead – Whoopi Goldberg starred – more than twenty years before the first tweet or hashtag.
The world has changed over the past twenty years, the biggest shift being in social media and the ability to connect with people, at least superficially, relatively easily and quickly.

The internet has changed the way we receive and seek information. It has also become the place where everyone with an opinion can voice it. (I appreciate the irony of putting that statement in a blog!) A person with a degree of social influence – they get a lot of traffic on their blogs, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform – can start a topic and make it relevant in an hour, hashtags or shares spreading like wildfire.
That is how a subject you have never heard of makes the news now. Unfortunately, sometimes people like to jump on a bandwagon or wade into a subject that they have very little knowledge of or only know one side of the story. With the anonymity that can come with commenting online, some find a type of bravery that they would not display generally if asked to comment on a subject, whether they liked it or not.

Unfortunately, sometimes people like to jump on a bandwagon or wade into a subject that they have very little knowledge of or only know one side of the story of. With the anonymity that can come with commenting online, some find a type of bravery that they would not display generally if asked to comment on a subject, whether they liked it or not.
What’s so stupid is that it is easier than ever to check facts or stories before commenting on them or giving an uneducated opinion, the only reason to venture an opinion from a position of ignorance is laziness.
This need to call people out on supposed slights or for not stepping up to promote the case of women in cinema, in Spielberg’s case, smacks of bullying. To call out an individual when there are so many other high profile, not to mention more prolific, filmmakers who are not doing anything to further the cause of women or minorities in cinema is spiteful and truthfully, somewhat unhelpful.
It is good that many are no longer required to sit at the back of the bus, metaphorically speaking, but we must always be mindful to not let one sort of egocentric dominance be replaced by another.

Machina On The Big Screen

Man’s obsession with the advancement of computers and the possibility or dread of machines becoming sentient, is something that has fascinated and been fodder for storytellers, writers and filmmakers even before Charles Babbage tipped the first metaphoric domino in the story of computing.
In film, the robot, cyborg or living computer has been evident as early as Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis, through the 1951 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still, to modern classics such as James Cameron’s brilliant The Terminator.
With all that has gone before, 2015 brings the critically acclaimed Ex Machina. Written and directed by Alex Garland, it tells the story of a brilliant scientist who has created a female, artificially intelligent humanoid. To test her responses and gauge her level of humanity, he enlists the assistance of one of his employees to observe and interact with her for a week at his remote home compound. The experiment and interactions have fateful consequences.
A film unusual in that the lead character, Ava the humanoid, played brilliantly by Alicia Vikander, ably assisted by fabulous CGI, is not an obvious lead. Such is the strength of the other characters; Nathan, a warped genius, embodied by a superb Oscar Issac and Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson, who shows wonderful empathy as the real connection for the audience. This is a film that is more cerebral than visual. In fact it may have worked better as a book.
As a film, it brought to mind Caradog W James’ 2013 film, The Machine. James’ film covers a lot of the same ground that Ex Machina does, though not as well, lacking the subtlety and tension of Garland’s film. What The Machine has, that Ex Machina does not, is action. Ex Machina looks wonderful. Every shot beautifully framed, the remote, stark bunker-like home of Nathan, looking vast and modernist. But considering most of the film is about conversations – static ones – with us watching the interactions between Ava and Caleb as Nathan also does, it was difficult to appreciate it as a big screen film.
The performances are all top drawer, the actors working fantastically off of one another. The story also is clever and a little uncomfortable, asking questions of what it is to be human and what is the price of freedom. The tension created, mostly by Oscar Issac’s warped Nathan, works well, but is constant rather than building.
Ex Machina is a good film. A smart and well executed film, Garland can be happy with his directorial debut. I am not so sure it is a film that needs to be seen on the big screen.