Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Creator of the Wise Guy

How Quentin Tarantino is notorious for his use of; dialog, gore and magnificent cinematography with films like; “Reservoir Dogs” or “Pulp Fiction”.  I find that his use of character depth is never quite what I want. Christopher Nolan is known for his ambiguous storylines and themes with “Memento” or the neo noir “The Following”. At times it can be indistinguishable but you can never tell its Nolan’s elegance or theme. Martin Scorsese has the same stylishness with dialog and theme most notably for his gangster films. Even in different centuries; “Gangs of New York”, “Casino” and “The Departed” with Scorsese’s; dialog, theme even cinematography you see his idiosyncrasy in his film “The Scorsese Theme”.

With “Gangs of New York”, “Casino” and “The Departed” how could Scorsese make these films identical? It’s the use of dialog with; the accent and the date of the film is set in Scorsese has his characters speak in the native tongue and swagger of the time frame of the film. “Goodfellas” and “Casino” Scorsese emphasises the use of Italian American language with Italian culture “Forget about it” and in “The Departed” and “Gangs of New York” Irish American with their heritage. Scorsese also makes his protagonist narrate as the film progresses.  Even today you see Scorsese’s influences in other gangster style films or TV programs like “The Sopranos” or “Boardwalk Empire”. With characters like “The wise guy” or having gangster themed names like “Fat Tony”
Scorsese’s continuously always has his characters explore the extreme mental sates of the human mind. With this Scorsese chooses what unstable mind set should his protagonist be and what kind of outcast should they be portrayed; ‘Taxi Driver’s’ Travis Bickle a psychotic Vietnam veteran insomniac, “Shutter Island’s” Teddy Daniels a world war 2 veteran who now a widowed police marshal detective or “The Aviator” Howard Hughes the multi-millionaire tycoon and an insane paranoid OCD film director. Scorsese even plays with other anti-protagonist mind set and gives them a mental gap. “Gangs of New York” Bill the Butcher and “The Departed” Frank Costello. Similar villains but in different films you can tell that Scorsese created these villains with acts of brutal murder. Scorsese also has his dark humour.  In Goodfellas and Casino Scorsese created Tommy DeVito and Nicky Santoro both portrayed by Joe Pesci. It was with these two characters that both Scorsese and Pesci created the “The tough guy, the wise guy”. Tommy DeVito known as a “Sick maniac” and Nicky Santoro “no matter how big a guy might be, Nicky will take them on” are characters both seen as the out of control racist tough guy that just shoots or beats up anyone. With Pesci, Scorsese created this ideal tough guy who might be short but you don’t cross the line. Like the pen stabbing scene in Casino “You beat Nicky with fist he comes back with a bat you beat him with a knife he comes back with a gun”.

I feel that with Martin Scorsese he helps introduce and emphasize to the viewer what the true Italian American Mobster is. With slick back hair, long collars and a name like Jimmy big mouth or Big Tony Scorsese created a theme for the future Italian Mobster films. Though in 1972 Francis Ford Coppoia brought us The Godfather I feel that Francis aimed his Italian Mobster theme on family values and the family business. Some say The Godfather and Casino are the same but with two different directors. This statement to me is only half true and that Godfather’s aim is to show not the violence but the “Corleone Business” wanting to turn legit but can’t escape the violence “Just as when I’m out, they pull me back in.” and in Casino it shows two mobster families in the 70’s and 80’s in the glittery wonderland of Las Vegas but with a brutal wasteland just outside. With Scorsese you get more the humour and less up tight life of the Mobster, I couldn’t imagine the “Funny How?” scene in Goodfellas be shown in any of the Godfather trilogy. So that’s what makes Martin Scorsese personally such a great film director. He not only created for us the true Italian Mobster but he focuses every detail on character depth and dialog in all his films. He created a mise en scene and etherized on the Mobster genre. And personally I feel that David Chase the creator of The Sopranos mixed both Martin Scorsese’s works with Francis Ford Coppoia to have both family values and family business with the mise en scene that Scorsese created I’m sure that future directors if they create their own mobster hit  they would look for Martin Scorsese’s films.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Assassination of Make-Up by the Coward CGI

So with the re-making of John Carpenter’s 1982 “The Thing” almost with us, it’s no wonder that anyone is on the edge of their seats for the Matthijs van Heijningen Jr remake. Watching the trailer I can already see they have destroyed yet another classic childhood film. With ridiculous amount of CGI used and giving the production way too much money to a director that hasn’t done a film with this much budget, it seems like Matthijs has bitten more then he can chew.

This blog however isn’t about me ranting about a under qualified director because we all know he is. This blog is about how the concept of too much CGI actually belittles the idea of realism within the film and how it has no place in horror. In the 1982 version of “The Thing” barely any CGI was used, infect the only scene that is CGI is when the alien spacecraft crashes into Earth. The rest of the film is just; beautifully handcrafted alien prop, amazing pulley systems, stunning make up and even using amputees as in initiative for loosing limbs. The whole idea of CGI was to make it look so realistic that the audiences couldn’t even tell if it was prop or a computer generated imagery.  Now that it’s so heavily edited that it draws away from realism and that it takes away the imagination which takes away the fear.  Steven Spielberg didn’t show Jaws throughout the film not because he wanted to build suspense but because the shark robot never actually worked and could only show glimpse of the shark and let the audience use their imagination. Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” infected was a simply design of red contact lenses, a lot of blood and mad running speed.  Francis Lawrence originally wanted to make his infected vampire beings in “I am Legend” similar to Danny Boyle’s infected and can actually be seen in when one of the infected vampires attacks Will Smiths family jeep when driving them to the evacuation point. However half way through filming Francis changed his mind and decided to make his infected CGI which made the production more expensive and made the infected look ridiculous.  This decision of converting from a simple makeup to an overly priced and long developing CGI actually did cost him the film. This goes again with the 1984 remake of “Nightmare on Elm Street” when Freddy was heavily CGI. In the original Freddy did actually look like a burnt victim, but with the 2010 remake you can tell the actor was just wearing a green mask and left to the editors to do the CGI.

Of course CGI is not all gloom and doom. I feel that CGI’s soul place should be in natural disaster movies rather than horror and gore films; the huge tsunami wave in 2012, the hurricane twisters in The Day After Tomorrow and the world destroyer asteroids in Armageddon. These are great films with amazing CGI, helping the audience capture their imagination with the power of natural disaster. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

“Why Do I Do, What I Do?”

“Why Do I Do, What I Do?” Cannot really be summed up by one word but through a series of films that I can personally say represent me. When I watch a film I want to be taken into that world and lose touch with reality and when the credits show and I want to be left with more.  A film shouldn’t just entertain you with the new found technology called 3D with its special effects over shadowing its awful story, which is quite funny when 3D was meant to make feel like you are in the movie when in reality it just hurts yours eyes and actually reminds you you’re in the cinema and you’re watching the film.

Is this what Hollywood is doing now? Rather than producing films that actually has some art and feeling. They prefer to just to dumb the audience down with ridiculous amount of CGI with Michael Bay exploding everything in his path. James Cameron’s Avatar marked a very low moment in cinema for me when both critics and audience reaction of the film was both amazing and unique. Yes visually the film was great and why it got the awards for Best Cinematography at the 2010 academy awards. But the film was never the less anything more than; original, slow and cliché. Yet just because the film had James Cameron’s Avatar it had more publicity, I truly doubt anyone would go and watch Avatar if it said Duncan Jones’s Avatar. Even though Duncan Jone’s Moon staring Sam Rockwell was just as; visually amazing, beautiful plot and with astounding cinematography. Of course the son of David Bowie would never get as much publicity then James Cameron he did both Terminator 1 & 2 and Titanic not forgetting True Lies??

I fear for Hollywood’s future very much! With two more Avatar movies on their way and a never ending Pirates of the Caribbean squeals, it’s no surprise that Hollywood now is starting to remake already spectacular movies from other parts of the world; Oldboy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo squeals  and  Rec squeals. The only thing this shows is that Hollywood has to steal other existing films and stamp a Hollywood film company with a mascot Hollywood director and say its theirs.