December 11, 2015

Space Oddities: Edward Scissorhands Film Review

Edward Scissorhands Film Review
Figure 1: Movie Poster 
Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a popular film by Tim Burton, which explores many topics such as modernism and alienation.
The plot of the film is simple, there is an outsider, Edward, who lives up in a dramatically gothic, black castle, at the end of a stereotypical American suburban neighbourhood and comes to live down in the neighbourhood with Pegg Boggs’ family. We watch as events of Edward being used by neighbours and him trying to fit in cause trouble for him.
"... this sweet 1990 fantasy ... for the first time crystallized the latent themes in the director's work: the notion of the artist as outsider, of skills that make one special but at the same time different." (Steve Biodrowski, 2008)
We are introduced to the two settings of the American Dream, and of Edwards castle and then we see a clash of cultures, of this alienated, different man who is man-made, and these consumer driven people who are so routine and similar that they seem like they live according to a schedule. We sympathise with Edwards’s character and not any of the people who live outside of the castle because he relates to the audience who must have gone through the human struggle of trying to fit in with the crowd. We feel sorry for him because he looks different to everyone else, and he has a severe disability and complication of having scissors for hands, and although we do not necessarily relate to that specifically, but the majority of people know somebody, have heard about or ourselves, who has some sort of disfigurement that not allows them to live quite as easily as others.
"Burton's modern fairytale has an almost palpably personal feel: it is told gently, subtly and with infinite sympathy for an outsider who charms the locals but then inadvertently arouses their baser instincts." (Marc Lee, 2014)
Lee is quite right about it being a modern take on a fairytale, it does feel very classic in its story, with an outsider who is the topic of curiosity but who is also maybe a threat or danger to everybody's mundane lives. It does feel very personal, it is told in a childlike manner, you do not have to guess twice about the plot, or look for hidden meanings. We also have this sympathy for such a charming character who is a being of innocence.

Figure 2: Film Still

But it seems in this world, when Edward first comes down to his castle, he is praised for being an outsider, and seems to find appreciation from just about everybody. Edward has a hard time adjusting to this new setting, and we long with him for the quiet sanctuary of his beautiful caste on the hill, the pastel coloured neighbourhoods often making audiences turn away from the modern, sickly pale, dull life and want to explore Edwards strange, curious and imaginative castle.
Tim burton seems to be making a mockery of the ‘American Dream’, consumerism and popular culture. He paints a picture of an average American family which is stripped of imagination, with dull, repetitive houses which only vary in colour, making it seem as if they are being individual when in reality, they all have the same basic things, and they all want to fit in. Then we see real individuality, exaggerated, expressed through Edwards truly unique castle, his looks and his personality that does not want to conform to the rules of this new structured society and we can see how true individuality should be, instead of the incredibly false individuality and freedom of the pastel suburban neighbourhood.
"It's visually pleasing and an easy film to like, even if it never gets out of shallow water as far as its story goes." (Dennis Shwartz, 2008)
In this quote by Shwartz, he describes his experience of the film not quite fulfilling as far as the story line goes, but the set design and the easily understood concept is greatly praised and makes it a very likeable film. The set design is very visual, it would not be the same just reading a description of it as it is seeing it.

Figure 3: Film Still

The set design of this film is clearly artificial and exaggerated, but it gets the point and themes across amazingly well. The neighbourhood houses are low, with sickly coloured pastel houses and matching cars. Then we see directly next to it in the most obscene contrast is Edwards castle on top of a massive black hill. It is very gothic and imposing, and it looks like a castle from a horror film.
Figure 4: Film Still, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). edwardscissorhands. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
IMDb, (2015). Edward Scissorhands (1990). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].

Space Oddities: Susperia Film Review

Susperia Film Review
Figure 1: Movie Poster

Susperia is a film directed by Dario Argento, and co-written by himself and Daria Nicolodi. It is a
1977 Italian horror film, which involves an American transfer ballet student who travels to a dance school in Germany, where she realises that the prestigious academy is not all that it seems. She first enters the academy amidst a number of murders and sinister, supernatural things occurring, which progress and escalate as we watch the film.
"There is little logic in 'Suspiria,' just the exuberance of individual scenes." (Donald J. Levit, 2012)
As said by Levit in this quote, there is little logic in this film. Although watching the film you cannot deny the successfulness of it, which is mainly not due to the film as a story, but of the richness of each scene. How each scene is shot, the colours used, the furnishing, the set all contribute to the exuberance of the film.
The opening 15 minutes really throws the viewer into the typical horror story scenario, with shutters banging open, murderers lurking around mocking two helpless girls who are alone, fighting to get away from the intruder which we cannot see. Right in the beginning there are two gruesome murders which are hard to watch, but it really sets a creepy mood for the rest of the film. The images are very graphic, there is lots of fake blood, close ups of stabbing and a hanging. This use of violence makes the audience very uncomfortable very quickly and may have put some people off of it all together. The use of this sudden violence at the start might have been necessary to the plot because a lot of the middle of the film there is only suggested horror through hushed and whispered dialogue, that is until the end where things escalate again very quickly.

Figure 2: Film Still
 As we near to the end of the film, we see more violence and horror more like what we witnessed in the beginning the film. We watch young girls get murdered and we see traps made of barbed wire, women enclosed in small spaces trying to get away from their attackers. This makes the whole audience feel very claustrophobic and puts you in the shoes of the young girl who is trying to escape.

In terms of colour, this film is very theatrical and has the kind of set design and colour you would see in theatre design. It is all filmed entirely in a studio, and the film does feel very artificial but it succeeds in creating a highly moody atmosphere. Contributing to this is the colour schemes, throughout the film we are flooded in colours or orange, red and accenting blue hues, which create quite a psychedelic and dreamlike quality. This paired with the storyline of madness and confusion, succeeds in working well and creating an atmosphere for the audience. The only time we snap out of this theatricality is when we see the main character Suzy outside in the world in a place other than the academy, and we see finally after being submerged in this heavily crafted world the abnormality of it and the madness which the academy brings.
Figure 3: Film Still
"Argento's skilful use of unsettling, intense colour and stunning set designs adequately obscure the film's numerous structural flaws." (Film4, 2008)
Film 4's quote explains that even though the storyline may have some loopholes, they do not matter because of the intensity of the richness of design in the set, its all very thought out and planned, every detail has been added with consideration to the genre and atmosphere of the film.
Figure 4: Film Still
"A stunning combination of menacing Grand Guignol atmosphere, dazzling colours, gory violence, lush décor and pounding soundtrack." (Alan Jones, 2013)
In this quote, Jones compliments the film on its violent, dazzling colours, its set and its score. The music does a lot for the film. It is very loud and escalates very quickly, and it is not enjoyable at all to listen to. It seems as if it doesn't makes sense, it is not a typical piece of music, it is orchestrated to make you feel fear. All of these factors combined makes a very successful horror movie.

Anon, (2015). [online] Available at: http://There is little logic in 'Suspiria,' just the exuberance of individual scenes. [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). Suspiria - Film4. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Photobucket, (2015). Photo by posterocalypse. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
RadioTimes, (2015). Suspiria | Film review and movie reviews | Radio Times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). Suspiria. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].

Space Oddities: The Shining Film Review

The Shining Film Review

Figure 1: Movie Poster
The Shining, (1980) is a very popular horror film, based on the famous novel by Stephen King, and directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is a film about a writer, Jack Torrence, played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson, who takes a job in an isolated hotel with his family during the winter. The film is very obvious from the start that is is a horror film, as we are introduced early on the supernatural things, such as the young boys friend ‘Tony’ who is able to tell strange things about things that haven't happened yet, and also the hotel manager who speaks inside of Danny's head. We then see flashes of images throughout the beginning of the two murdered girls, whose story we are told about Early on, and also floods of blood throughout the corridors of the hotel. It is unnerving as we only see brief glimpses of these hinge, and it is so sudden it makes you jump, then you return back to the storyline.
The music in the film is what makes the film obviously a horror film. The director. Kubrick, does not get new music made especially for his film, but he used existing scores. The music in the beginning is screeching and mismatching, which is horrible to hear and it makes you feel horrified before the first word of the film is spoken. Music is used as a big part of the film, and it would not be half as successful without the music. The music is not music that you would listen to for enjoyment, it is the sort of music you hear as tracks for villains and tense moments in film. The music is always tense, so it leaves the audience holding their breath waiting for the big jump, then the music suddenly stops in some scenes and dialogue begins.
"Ostensibly a haunted house story, it manages to traverse a complex world of incipient madness, spectral murder and supernatural visions... and also makes you jump"(Ian Nathan, 2007)
This quote explains that ultimately, this film is a horror story. It is conventional in the way it delivers madness, the supernatural and murder, but utterly unique in the way Kubrick does it.
The colours of the film are the pristine whites of hotel rooms and corridors, with red accents which pop out of the scene. The set is very mundane and normal, which is odd as it is so uncomfortable and intimidating. It is impressive that Kubrick could portray such horror and fear through such a normal set.
The portrayal of women in his film is very stereotypical, the only woman being a weak, helpless character who is always frightened and scared of everything. She does not stand up for herself and is always being talked down to by her husband. She is very submissive and allows herself to be a stereotypical weak woman. We always hear her asking if her husband is okay and how he's feeling, and we also hear her scream and shout a lot, and she acts completely helpless to her husband and the hotel. She is a victim, but in the end she succeeds in getting away, but only after her child leads Jack away. Danny is the hero of the film, he outsmarts his mad father who is trying to kill him, and gets away, saving himself and his mother.

Figure 2: Film Still

"Jack Nicholson's performance alone defines this frightening motion picture. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining may stray away from the Stephen King novel, but the film's disturbing tone and psychological barrage is memorable and, to this day, is held up as one of the most outstanding horror films ever made" (Eugene Bernabe, unknown)
In this quote, Bernabe praises Nicholson on his performance, believing it to be what defines the film. He mentions the obvious disturbing and psychological effects Kubricks' direction has on the viewer, and says that even through the film strayed away from Stephen Kings story, it remains a masterpiece in the horror genre of film.
"'The Shining'. The camera movement, the score, the sound design, the production design and Jack Nicholson all contribute to a deep unease. You feel the uncertainty throughout the metaphorical and literal mazes the characters traverse." (C0up, unknown)
This quote describes the film as everything contributing to the feel of the film, to the horror. From the camera movement, which we can see being used in imaginative ways, such as the low-panning camera which follows Danny around so that we can see from his point of view, to the performance of Nicholson, which is deeply disturbing. He also describes the film to metaphorical to a maze. A metaphorical maze that the viewer experiences in a tangle of fear and horror as the movie progresses, which we see literally at the end of the film, the maze being a real maze which is filled with terror and uncertainty.
Figure 3: Film Still
Figure 2:, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Figure 1:, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Nathan, I. (2012). The Shining. [online] Empire. Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). The Shining. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Figure 3:, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].

Space Oddities: Only God Forgives Film Review

Only God Forgives Film Review

Figure 1: Movie Poster
Only God forgives is a 2013 film written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling, Vithaya Pansrigarm and Kristin Scott Thomas. It is a Danish-French thriller/action film which features a lot of Thai language subtitles and spoken dialogue. It is set in and filmed in Bangkok, Thailand.
After the first time watching this film, the story line and plot is not very clear, it is not an obvious film that describes itself through imagery of through dialogue.  The timeline changes throughout the film, changing setting randomly, fast forwarding to future scenes, and returning to previous scenes the audience thought were over. It takes a while to realise that the timeline is shifting about, as it is not done obviously until we see a specific scene carried on later in the film. We see Ryan goslings character, Julien, alternate between two different types of character. One wears a white shirt and the other wears a black, and we often see these two characters spliced into the same scene, which almost makes sense to watch, but is very dreamlike as we see two very different outcomes of the same scene at the same time. For example when Julien, wearing a white shirt, is sitting in a bar watching a girl rough a curtain. At the same time we see Julien wearing a black shirt interacting with the girl, in the same scene. We do not see the two characters as two different people, they are never on the same screen beside each other, but we see them one after the other, creating a confusing scene for the viewer. The viewer is left feeling uneasy and confused, as the film does not e plain the meaning of these two different realities. We do not know if one of them is real and one is a hallucination, or they are both realities just at different times, as a very odd way of showing passing time. This effect is successful in making the audience look for a hidden meaning, and makes them eager and curious to know what is going on.
The first impression the audience gets of colour, is highly saturated orange hues, sometimes accented by blues. In an opening scene, we see Julien standing in a room whose walls have a mosaic cut out pattern, lit from outside, so that bright orange sunset light streams through the patterns and lights up the room in strange rays of orange and black. Julien is standing I front of the wall, so his figure is just a silhouette surrounded by streaming orangey red hues. Throughout the film we see the colour orange and red closely associated with violence, fighting and masculinity. All of the fighting areas are lit in floods of red, with black shadows always making a vignette effect around the edges. It is very contrasting and psychedelic to watch. 

Figure 3: Film Still
“Refn's Lynchian nightmare never makes you think that he is not in absolute control of his gripping arthouse work, as he masterfully crafts a hypnotizing atmosphere of otherworldliness that should hit you hard in the guts with visceral power and crushing intensity.” (Carlos Magalhães, 2013)
As confusing as the story is, this quote by Magalhaes sums up that this is just Refn’s style, he is in control of the story and he is making you see and feel what he wants you to see and feel. He does this by creating heavy atmospheres and moods which are so intense the audience is left feeling exactly how Refn wants them to.
Also throughout the film, women characters seem to be surrounded by blue and neutral white/ grey tones, which the film came to associate with femininity and not violence. The mother, Crystal, is introduced to the audience in a burst of pink in a neutral coloured hotel reception which is a big change in the film so far, compared to the violent reds and blues. From this colour and set change we see that this introduction of the character indicates that she will be a big part in the rest of the film.
The set in the first part of the film is very old fashioned, and so is a lot of the fighting scenes. In the scenes that we see fighting, there are a lot of dirty street views, and old unfurnished buildings. We are first introduced to a room where there are no lights within, and the cut out walls are made of old stone, and it seems the only furnishings the room has is a big statue of a fighter in the middle, and a bench. Wherever we see women, the set changes to be more modern and pleasing, with pillows and neutral coloured furnishings. 
In this film women are not treated as equal to men. A main female character, Mai, is a prostitute, and she is always being talked down to, especially in a scene where Julien and his mother are having dinner, Crystal says crude things about her life and afterwards Julien shouts at her in a rather unsettling scene, to take of her dress in the middle of a street. She is objectified, and the way she is introduced to us tells us about the way she is going to be portrayed throughout the film. 
Other women in the film, such as the women who were singing, are told to be quiet and close their eyes as the men fight and are violent. The women are no part of the violence in any part of the film, and sit by letting things happen. This creates an uneasy feeling for the viewer, as sexism is not socially accepted in today's society.

Figure 2 Film Still
“Ryan Gosling reunites with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn for the ultra-violent, ultra-slow-moving Bangkok-set revenge thriller Only God Forgives, whose unflinching gore and crawling pace will probably prove equally off-putting to most viewers.” (Jason Best, 2013)
In this quote, Best describes the director’s style to always be violent, such as another one of his films starring Ryan Gosling, Drive. He also says that like before in his previous creations, he has a slow pace, often paired with a simple plot which may have been more effective in a fast-paced film.
There is a lot of symbolism in the film, it is a film which explorers masculinity and impotence. The image of hands, and the fear of hands being cut off is a big thing in the film no occurs a lot. Julian's fear of his hands being cut off explores Julian’s fear of impotence, and his fear of not being as masculine as others, such as his brother who, according to Crystal, was his biggest upset as he was not as strong or masculine as him. 
“Like it or not, this is a study in weakness, submission, impotence, symbolic castration even.” (David Sexton, 2013)
Julian’s hands were symbolic to be an extension of his masculinity and a symbol of his strength. Like in this quote by Sexton, he describes the film as having strong messages of weakness and even castration, which we can see through the fear of the loss of hands. To have no hands would mean to Julien that he is less than a man.
The importance of hands in the film could be religious, as we see Julian’s hands right at the end, waiting to be cut off, with palms up and open, before curling into a fist. This seemed to be a biblical reference, maybe pleading to a god with his palms open for forgiveness. This theory seems to fit as it is right at the end of the film, and Julien seems to have gotten rid of all of his biggest rivals, his mother, his brother, and it seems like the end of his mission and now he is asking for forgiveness. Even accepting that his hands would be cut off in the end as a means to forgiveness.
There is also a part where we see Julien reaching his hand into a wound he made in his mother’s abdomen, reaching into maybe her womb. This further explores the way he treats women, and the way women are portrayed in the film. It is very unnerving to see the mother’s relationship to Julien, it seems too intimate, by the way she touches him and also the way she talks about her other son, in a sexual manner. This hand inside his dead mother’s womb may be a way of Julien showing his hate or dislike towards his mother and the way she treated him when she was alive. This may be a disconnection between them, going back to where he was first made and disgracing it. His treatment of women is maybe an exploration of his ability to only be able to have a relationship with no one else but his mother. 

Figure 3:, (2015). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Figure 2:, (2015). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Evening Standard, (2013). Only God Forgives - film review. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). Only God Forgives. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Figure 1:, (2015). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
What’s on TV, (2015)? Only God Forgives | Film review - Ryan Gosling loses his cool in Drive director's ultra-gory Bangkok thriller. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].

What If? Metropolis: Art Of