Thursday, 14 March 2013

Which Predator Are You?

Now this isn’t much of a question because we all know the 1987 Predator is not only the best out of the series but its personally one of the most fantastic Sci - Fi action films. But in all honestly I personally see the 1987 “Predator” as a brilliant Sci-Fi thriller rather than an action film. Don’t get me wrong no action sequence has ever topped "Dutch" (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his group of awesome elite Special Forces team raid the guerrilla rebel encampment. But my personal perception of the film transitioned from an action film to a thriller when the elite team began to be hunted by the Predator. Which made the 87 Predator more enjoyable to watch because this unstoppable elite force has the; latest technology, kickass weapons and huge muscles. But to be hunted one by one like animals makes the 87 Predator so much more than a typical action Schwarzenegger film but rather a film that touches on Herbert Spencer “Survival of the fittest” the evolutionary theory of animals evolving themselves to become better hunters. In the Predators case a species that with each hunt evolves its skills to become the greatest hunter. In the first movie the predator is characterised by its trophy hunting of other dangerous species for sport but in the third instalment of the Predator trilogy 2010 “Predators” the film focuses more on the evolutionary theory.

So much between the 87 and 2010 releases are very similar being that they’re both set in the jungle and both seem to focus on the Darwin’s theory. In the 87 release the elite group technology had failed them resulting in all of them to die except Dutch. In the last hour of the film we see him become one of the jungle using primitive weapons like the manmade spear and wood craft booby traps. Instead of becoming reliant with technology he uses his surrounding and own muscle to defeat the predator that seemed to rely on its advanced light-bending cloaking device and other technology. The 2010 release go a very similar path but rather using an elite group the alien Predators rounds up the best predatorily species  on meaning humans and throw them into a planet jungle and hunt them. You can say the third predator is again human vs. alien but the title of the film “Predators” referring that both species are predators in their home planets so they are both the same. And again in the final sequence of the 2010 predator we see our mercenary protagonist Royce (Adrien Brody) defeat the predator not with technology but using the jungle and muscle.

The main problem of the second 1990 release “Predator 2” was not only it had a very weak plot and focused on the action rather than the predator itself. There was no connection between the protagonist Lieutenant Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover) and the predator. It just seemed the Harrigan was on a revenge seeking mission and there was no element of the predatorily elements like in the 87 and 2010 release. The sole purpose of the predator films is the hunter that becomes the hunted. The only element I enjoyed in the 90 release was setting the Predator in Los Angeles marking the paradox between the jungle and the city but there was no concrete purpose of the predator to be placed there being that the only reason was the heat wave that attracted the Predator.

What I look for in any predator based film or game even is the predatory element that the predator franchise has to bring. The transformation in the 97 and 2010 our protagonist become almost like cavemen beating the predator to death rather than shooting the predator, which is more of a barbaric death. As a human species we first hunting with sticks and stones and we were like this for many centuries. Even comparing both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Adrien Brody in the final fight sequence they both transform from super solider or mercenary to a caveman Tarzan figure.  Personally without this key element the predator would just be another extra-terrestrial species trying to kill us which the predator isn’t.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Which Die Hard Are You?

Now we all can discuss which Die Hard is the best and usually of course the 1988 Die Hard is the most preferred, being the first movie to introduce our favourite yippee ki yay gun slinging cowboy cop John McClane and let’s not forget one of our favourite German villains Hans Gruber. None Die Hard fans would argue that the Die Hard franchise all 5 of them are typically all the same; a bad boy rouge cop always seems to get caught up in a middle of things, action packed, explosions, endless henchmen’s and villains that seems to have a gruesome end being thrown out of skyscraper, sucked into a jet engine or a fiery inferno helicopter crash. But saying that all the Die Hard films are the same in my opinion is totally bull! That’s like going to a Bond movie and saying I was expecting something different from the previous other twenty bond films. But what I love about the Die Hard series is that each film takes us into a totally different scenario being whatever the villain hopes to accomplish from hijacking a corporate building keeping its staff and CEO hostage to cyber terrorism systematically shutting down the entire U.S. infrastructure. All four Die Hard films has its own unique place but sadly the fifth Die Hard is not only the worst Die Hard it’s one of the worst action film. Comparing from my favourite Die Hard “Live Free or Die Hard” also known as “4.0” and the other Die Had series to the 2013 release “A Good Day to Die” you can see where the series went totally wrong.

The 2007 Live Free or Die Hard is a perfect mix between the 1988 Die Hard and the 1995 Die Hard with a Vengeance. The 88 release was stepping stone of the series when it is the first film ever to have the hero trash talk through to the villain through a radio throughout the entire film. And each Die Hard since then has carry on this tradition. Even in Live Free when technology is much more ahead of just the simple radio from the 88 Die Hard. McClane doesn’t just use the radio but uses webcams and cell phones to trash talk to the villain. And with this tradition our hero and villain never actually meet in person till the showdown at the very end. What I love most about Live Free is how much it takes from the 95 Die Hard. The first Die Hard is set in one building or one location but with Vengeance our location is one city. So the villain’s playground is Net York.  But Live Free villain    Thomas Gabriel a former US Defence Department analyst takes on the United States by hacking the computers of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and totally shutting down all transportation, gas, water and electricity almost taking the country back to the stone age.

What I found most lacking in A Good Day To Die wasn’t the fact the film had no radio, cell phone or even any trash talk to the villain but it was the relationship between John and his son. The two characters couldn’t bounce off each once and you would have thought being john McClane son he would have some witty comments like his father but no. It was as if they weren’t even related. Being a father and son based film you would think Good Day to Die would be a fantastic transition of old school Die Hard to new school but sadly once again it failed at this also. In my opinion in the Live Free or Die Hard relationship between John McClane and Matthew Farrell a computer hacker who unknowingly help set up the “Fire Sell” was a better father and son relationship even though they weren’t related. The transition between them is the typical computer based father and son relationship being that the son knows more about computer then the father in this case McClane being so old school he knows nothing about computers and Matthew Farrell knowing so much. The two fantastically bounce off each other whenever Farrell tried to explain anything to do with computers McClane just looks perplexed and lost. But when push came to shove McClane would shoot his way out of anything when Farrell would just whimper and hide. Live Free or Die Hard is a fantastic explain of putting someone who knows nothing about computers into cyber computer warfare and this is why Live Free is my favourite Die Hard. It’s taking our hero out of his comfort zone and into a totally different scenario.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Guy Ritchie’s 2005 Revolver is the third crime film genre to focus on professional criminals but instead of focusing in the typically East End of London like his previous films; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. All three starring Jason Statham. With Revolver Ritchie takes us on different path of the crime film genre in a philosophical view focusing on the concept of a revenge seeking confidence trick but centring on the Human Ego. Revolver is pretty well known for being a love it or hate it film but in my personal opinion it’s a film for a very VERY narrow audience. Though the films genre is crime film after watching and re-watching and analysing it in several different views I honest feel Revolver is a fantastic interpretation of the two philosophers theory’s; Friedrich Nietzsche’s Superior man also known as The Superman and Sigmund Freud’s Ego and the Id. Using these philosophers and their ideas it is fantastic example of how Jason Statham (Jake Green) transforms Ray Liotta the anti-protagonist (Dorothy Macha) from a superior being to nothing.

Friedrich Nietzsche believes when we are born we are genetically subjected to becoming superior; that the idea of wishing success for other people rather than your own is a lie, every person has the need of becoming the greatest and seeing others in pain gives us slight joy and seeing pity is a sign of weakness. That men and woman should have their own moral values and decide how to live their own life. The constant thrive of overcoming ourselves and that every person should become a "ubermensch” meaning a superior being or superman. That a God did once exists but now is dead and now we are the Gods. To become a God a man or woman has to discover the perfect form of themselves and they must fight to achieve this and only in this journey of inner perfection and self-righteousness that we can truly become the masters of the universe.

“My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on” Friedrich Nietzsche - The Will to Power 1910

Sigmund Freud’s “Ego and the Id” tells us that subconsciously we tell ourselves to forget and this is our ego’s way of coping with past or present traumas. I’d like to think that subconsciously we see our ego as a protector. That our ego shows no bounds that to point blame is our ego’s way of protecting ourselves. Our ego cannot comprehend that there is something greater than our own values, which is why people will do whatever it takes to protect our own interest. So to protect our ego the ego itself will create an external enemy for us to blame and in doing this actually creating a real enemy. No matter what that thought in your mind says your ego will always have someone to blame.

“The poor ego has a still harder time of it; it has to serve three harsh masters, and it has to do its best to reconcile the claims and demands of all three...The three tyrants are the external world, the superego, and the id."
New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis 1932

One of the most powerful scenes in Revolver is when Macha faces Green right after Green finally sees his on internal enemy known as the ego and finally kills his ego freeing him. But as the lift doors open we see a very distraught Macha pointing a gun at Green. However even though Macha has a gun and can kill Green at any moment his presentation of what he is wearing is that he is just simply naked. A symbol of being half naked or completely naked is vulnerability despite the fact holding a gun which is a fantastic juxtaposition of power. In the end Jack Green and the audience no longer fear Macha completely destroying his ego. From the transformation of a big time corrupt casino boss to a man crying and whimpering constantly “Fear Me” is one of the most beautifully constructed transformation to a villains defeat.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Road

Staring Viggo Mortensen simply known as the father and his son Kodi Smit-McPhee. John Hillcoat’s post-apocalyptic drama is a film adaptation of Prize-winning novel of the same name by author Cormac McCarthy. The Road is a brilliant dark melancholic vision of a dying or perhaps already dead planet Earth, a world slowly becoming inhabitable for; plants, vegetation, farm stock and even human life. The father and son journey through an unforgiving world of a population of few that has driven them to lawlessness and cannibalism. Hillcoat not only brilliantly captures the dying planet through stunning cinematography of beautiful landscapes that truly does juxtaposition of the term beautiful being that the landscapes in the entire film is dying that sets the melancholic mood of a dark gloomy grey skies and the atmosphere filled with dust and ash.

We never truly discover how the planet became a ravaged landscape of; falling trees, burning fields that fill the air with ash and the blue skies and white clouds are replaced with a depressing grey sky with smoke. All that we know the father and son are in between the lines of a dying planet and the cannibalistic rednecks that only seem to only prolong their deaths. The only thing we know that the two are heading to warmer south unknowing what truly awaits them there. The only glimpse of their past we see is the memory of the father in a series of flashback that seem to haunt him.  A time just after the devastation revealing that the man had a wife and his son was born months just as civilisation collapsed. Years went by and his wife became ever so disconnected and living in a world knowing her days were numbered she eventually committed suicide, leaving the father and son to fend for themselves.  

The Road is truly one of my favourite post-apocalyptic films out there today. Its dark vision, melancholic atmosphere and performance of the father and son are incredibly powerful. The journey the father and son take shows us how utterly hopeless this journey down south is and yet they still press on. Armed with only a pistol with two bullets, the clothes they’re wearing and a shopping trolley with the few scavenged food they find. The close the encounter of the cannibals always leads to the father pointing the gun at his son sparing him from possible rape and torture makes the film excruciatingly tense to watch. Hillcoat truly does capture the journey of the father and son not through focusing on the world and how it became so shattered but rather focusing on the voyage of survival and how day by day they try to reach their hopeless destination.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Truman Show

The Truman Show is one of the most captivating films to watch and to analyse. In my opinion also it should be recognised as one of the most expensive art films rather than typically labelled as a comedy, drama and Sci-Fi. At the first Andrew Niccol’s The Truman Show the film was foreseen as too dark and that the director Peter Weir and other producers wanted the film to be seen as more as comedy. Niccol’s vision for Truman’s life and journey was that it wasn’t meant to be a funny. For someone to say that The Truman Show is great comedy is just utterly rubbish and in all honestly it should be taken out of the comedy genre. The Truman Show isn’t a depressing film but somewhat a journey into self-discovery and discovery of knowledge of beyond Truman’s hometown Seahaven.

Seahaven is a utopia dedicated to cater under Truman. Everything in this domain is designed to perfection and is a fine representation of the perfect world. However in this perfect world there is no escape. All the actors, product placements, weather and buildings are all placed there for a specific reason. To help create the illusion of a place we all wish to live in. But knowing from an external point of view we see The Truman Show only as a reality TV show and we only see the real world when they are watching the show. We have no knowledge where these people come from, who the president is or even what year it is.  The only world we the viewers and the people watching the Truman Show are always focused on is Seahaven. When we watch films we know what city there in from the iconic shots such as; Big Ben is London, The Ethel Tower is Paris and the White House is Washington DC. But Seahaven is a fantasy utopia, so how do we straight away feel that we want to live in Seahaven without even knowing where the hell it is. It’s the symbolism implanted in our heads that lure us into this world. The Picket Fence’s we see are the symbolism of the American Dream. This is seen in other films such as both of Sam Mendes Revolutionary Road, American Beauty or David Lynch Blue Velvet.  The picket fence is the symbol of the middle class suburban life; A life of family, peace and beauty. From an external point this is implanted to make us feel at ease however internally there is more to see from the naked eye. Within this perfect American Dream it is actually a lie within itself.

The utopia surrounding Truman is an entire world revolving around his life to capture every human emotion and behaviour. Putting him in situation we’re rest of the world will see how he will act. In this giant dome it is not the world but the universe revolves around him. Christof is not only just the director of the Truman Show but he’s architect that laid down the path of Truman’s life. He is the creator of the utopia Seahaven and he alone decides what lies ahead of Truman.  “I have given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in, is the sick place. The entire dome is at the hands of Christof and that he has all control and all power of not just Truman but the crew and the actors. Christof tells the crew what and what not to film and tells the actors word by word what to say. If we look at this in a religious view he is God and I wouldn’t say Truman is the son of God but rather representing the beginning of human kind; Adam and Eve. One can even say that Truman represents Adam and Eve. Just like them they were given knowledge. The name Lucifer comes from the Latin word for 'light-bearer'. In a parallel theory between the two stories one can when Truman finally discovered the truth that this world is actually a lie and he wants to escape Christof tries to stop his creation from escaping. The last scene when Truman is just about to leave the world and Christof is looking down on Truman is another fantastic example of another Religious analogy with Moses and God in the Book of Moses. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


8mm is one of the most underrated and fascinating Joel Schumacher’s films, a journey of a Private investigator Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) who not only delves into the world of snuff films but takes us into a voyage of human sexual obsession. The films core structure is a mystery thriller about a discovery of 8mm snuff film of a young girl being brutally beaten and killed in a recently deceased wealthy and powerful mogul safe. The widow wanting to know the truth of her deceased husband’s film is a fake or real she hires Welles. But as Welles digs deeper and deeper into the film Welles road now takes him into the underworld of illegal pornography.

What I enjoyed most about 8mm was visually seeing the character development and journey of Tom Welles. 8mm is a fantastic film to show Welles character arc. As the story slowly unfolds and as he explores deeper into the underworld of illegal pornography, we begin to see the human dark obsessions and fantasies that some of us so desires. With Welles character we see a transformation of a respectable family man journeying so deep into this film that he himself becomes part of it.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Taxi Driver & Shame


To really explain the notions of isolation and loneliness one has to look into the mind frame of someone living in the conditions of paranoia and madness. For someone to know that they are insane or they are going insane reinsures person that there is some sanity left in them, knowing that this person is aware of his or hers mind frame. However for someone to not know what is happening to their mind unaware that they are just simply going insane creates a sense of loneliness and to be paranoid of the surrounding public can make someone believe that they are truly isolated. New York City being one of the most over populated and the busiest cities in the world any mood can be amplified significantly. To feel lonely in a small town with a small population can feel very normal but to feel lonely in a massive busy city with a high population you would feel very secluded. Going insane in a big city can also be much more intensified rather than in a small town. The violence and crime rate is a fine example of comparing the small city to a larger city. Looking at Travis in Taxi Driver we are taken into a journey of insomnia, paranoia, obsession and slowly descending to madness. If we look into Shame addiction can also show notions of isolation and loneliness. Both films have similar ways of expressing these notions with particular scenes; the positioning of our protagonists, how other characters treat the protagonists and how Travis and Brandon see the world through the projection of their own mind. With Travis’s mind fixed in paranoia, obsession and driving him to madness and Brandon with sexual addiction slowly taking over his life.

In Taxi Driver we are always subjected to the back streets of New York. In most films we’re always taken around the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. In Taxi Driver we’re constantly driven around the more dangerous and crime ridden areas. We’re in the city centre but not Off Broadway but perhaps Off Off! Broadway. With Travis’s day and night Taxi routes we are relentlessly exposed to these areas and his repulsive views on New York. “I think someone should just take this city and just... just flush it down the fuckin' toilet.” In most New York films the cinematography is always typically the same; bird’s eye view shots looking down the busy streets of New York,  low angle shots looking upwards to monstrous like buildings over shadowing the people and the glamorous typical locations of Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge and  Broadway. Through the cinematography we only truly see New York through Travis’s taxi cab almost as if we’re in the cab with Travis looking out into New York. But being inside with Travis and his cab we begin to feel confined and trapped with him and his paranoia. For someone to look into world as a film rather than as a reality is the first stepping stone into paranoia and madness. Having Taxi Driver as an opening sequence of the cheap shady bars, strip clubs, 24 hour liquor stores and adult movie cinemas, of course the people we see are the typical crowd that hang out in these areas; street hookers, pimps, drug addicts and alcoholics. All these elements help fuel the illusion for the projection of Travis’s mind. What Travis sees is what the audience sees and what Travis feels is what the audience will feel. All the mise-en-scene and cinematography that Martin Scorsese uses are all an external projections of Travis’s mind. Through Travis’s mind we are taken through New York on his perception of what New York is and we see his sanity slowly slip with the inner monolog.

Too get a better understanding of who is Travis we have to look at the emotional physiological and physical journey he undertakes in this film. Suffering from insomnia there’s a persistent feeling of been wide awake and charged. Every time Travis takes medication there’s always a Non-diegetic sound. In the taxi carriage scene when Travis takes his medication both inside the cab and out there’s an electric charge in the background. Both times Travis’s actions give the impression that he is being filled with adrenaline and almost as is he being recharged. The second time he takes his medication is in the café. This scene creates a misconception that Travis’s brain is being almost vaporized or perhaps mesmerised. When Travis puts the tablet in the glass he begins to bizarrely stare at the glass as if he loosing himself from reality. The dissolving tablet in the glass is a perfect visual example of Travis’s inner mind slowly loosing grip in reality. As Travis slowly becomes more delusional the atmosphere of Taxi Driver begins to question what is real and a figment of Travis’s imagination. To help fuel the illusion of Travis’s imagination the use of colour is heavily over whelming in particular scenes. The red, amber and green of traffic lights or the flashing lights from the bars and clubs are a fantastic visual expression of Travis’s moods. The framed shots of the reflection of Travis’s eyes in mirrors are not a reflection of Travis eyes but a reflection of his paranoia. When we first see Travis we only see the reflection of the rear view mirror of his eyes and at the end when he drops off Betsy the last we see of Travis is darting paranoid eyes looking into the rear view mirror as if to say the paranoia and madness is only at bay and that he’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode once again.

To show more isolation and distance from people, the framing on Travis always seemed to make him the centre of the screen. Walking around the streets of New York or in the R rated movie theatre people always seem to stay away from Travis and keep their distance. Even when Travis is with his fellow cabbies he’s almost distant from them both physically and emotionally. The cinematography always frames Travis in isolated positions and the locations used always seems to be a representation of Travis’s own coffin. The major element of what’s making Travis go insane is insomnia and his insomnia his fuelled by his paranoia which he gets from driving his cab. So the one thing that Travis seems to have is actually killing him. Throughout Taxi Driver the cab is a symbol of Travis’s perception of New York and inside the cab is a window into what he thinks is the world. For someone to feel that they are looking into society rather than being a part of society fuels the mind of being isolated and lonely.

 New York City is full of millions of people who walk by each other; share the same train carriages and busses but each individual are disconnected with each other. We see all kinds of people that represent different class status of New York; Pimps represents the womanising dead beats, the prostitutes are a representation of sex, drug addicts are the corrupted and men in businesses suits that look like they work in Wall Street are the yuppie culture. In a city fuelled by this inner electricity to be surrounded by people, not to feel so isolated they surround themselves in tight overcrowded places, though physically they are surrounded by people however emotionally they a miles apart. In Taxi Driver we can see such urban isolation not only with Travis but with other characters in Taxi Driver. Though Travis is positioned and seated in way to show that he is distant from them the other fellow cabbies and Wizard all hint at they also don’t have stable home lives and they too have to work nights and weekends to keep busy. With Brandon’s sister “Sissy” is another example of someone with an unstable home life. Constantly moving around deciding to move to New York but once again she finds herself alone. Singing the Cover of “New York New York” which is meant to glamourizes the city. Sissy sings the original lyrics but performs the song that presents her and Brandon which is being so distant and isolated. Perhaps Sissy represents the naïve dream of going to the big city and becoming a big star but a dream that is shattered. When we are first introduced to Tom and Betsy at the Palatine HQ it seems that the two of them are slightly flirting with each other and not working when the other volunteers are rushing around working. However the two have no personal connection and the only scene we see them talking is them two having small talk. Scenes when Travis picks up customers they completely ignore him and act as if he doesn’t even exit. The violence and hate he sees on the streets seem to work its way into the back of his cab making him almost believe that New York is hell. In one of Travis’s monologs he says “Each night when I return the cab to the garage, I have to clean the cum off the back seat. Some nights, I clean off the blood.” The cum is representation of the prostitutes, R rated theatres and brothels and the blood is the violence, madness and hate. When Travis picks up the two passengers the businessman and a prostitute the both of them seem to be going at it at the back seat of the cab. Travis looks at them through the rear view mirror. Which shows two things; the first being that the two people have no disregard for Travis and the second is just like the windows in the taxi cab the rear view mirror is a representation of Travis’s window into his paranoia which we see at the start and end of the film. This vicious circle of paranoia is the same in Shame but instead of paranoia it is sex addiction. How we see Brandon have sex with countless women at the start and he gazes upon a married women on a train and we never see her again until the end of the film, which shows again that his addiction to sex is never gone and that we’re back to square one.  

Just how Scorsese frames Travis cab windows and mirrors to represent a movie, Brandon in Steve McQueen’s Shame is always positions and framed in similar ways. When Brandon walks through the streets of New York and gazes upon an apartment block. Each window is almost a representation of computer screen. When we see two couple having sex it’s almost as if the pornography that Brandon watches day and night on his computer is the same thing as looking at this apartment block. Showing that where ever he goes there’s no hiding that he’s addiction seems to be everywhere. The same as Travis with his cab slowly killing him Brandon’s addiction is starting to take its toll on him. How this relates to isolation and loneliness is the constant reminder in Brandon’s day to day life how is addiction is isolating him. When Brandon’s sister and friend meet up and begin to get hot and heavy in the cab with Brandon sitting right next to them. Again Brandon is in the same position as Travis was with the prostitute and businessmen. Both of them being pushed aside with total disregard the two couple in Shame and Taxi Driver isolates our protagonists. Just how the constant reminder of sex and prostitution in Taxi Driver follows Travis, Brandon has to follow his sister and friend to his apartment block the only time he is physically alone is when they get inside the lift without Brandon.
By looking into the physiological and physical perception of Shame and Taxi Driver you can see how both our protagonists reside in New York. New York City labelled as the city that never sleeps it seems ideal for Travis to work in. Keeping busy, working nights and weekends surely seemed like a reliable way to work yourself to sleep or perhaps death but instead it drove Travis insane. With already an unstable mind being a Vietnam veteran and drinking during the day to keep his inner demons at bay. Brandon being addicted to sex is the same as a person addicted drugs. There’s always a need for a reliable source get your fix and New York is the place. At the start of Shame we see Brandon having sex with different women everyday he seems to pay for some or perhaps he pays for all of them. Both our protagonists have chosen to live in New York to get what they wanted but it only fuelled their paranoia or obsession, resulting them for being so isolated and secluded. To live in a city so alive and full of people to feel so alone, isolated and disconnected must be so much more amplified