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David Porter » Entries tagged with "movies"

Swimming With Sharks

Swimming With Sharks Seagull Theatre Rep Company, Lowestoft   The movie business is about illusion and self, ‘money, girls, power.’ This play from the George Huang 1994 film rips the rosy spectacles off Tinseltown, where everybody has a story, everybody pays a price in personal terms. They’re all sharks in that pool. The young, innocent Guy, (Ricky Reeve), arrives in the office of the mogul (John Hales at his theatrical best, who also directed) and starts learning the realities of Hollywood immediately and painfully. Milly Finch as the ambitious producer who dares to hope Guy is different gives a well-judged interpretation. Principals are ably supported by Alan Bolton, Richard Boakes, Patrick Pilgrim, Ryan Hammond, Rosie and Lily Vincent – an inspired mix of old hands and new faces. Rich with comedy and throw away truths, the … Read entire article »

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‘Good Books Make Bad Movies and Vice Versa’: Discuss

A perennial Media Studies question: do good books make bad films or do bad books make good films? However, perhaps the bigger question is: does it matter? Filmmakers take most material from adaptations, recycling and re-envisioning. They’re rarely bothered about whether it’s a ‘good’ book they’re using, as long as the movie makes money. Books (good and bad) make films (good and bad), that’s the bottom line. Critical and artistic acclaim are bonuses. Tim Robey, Sunday Telegraph’s Film Editor mused (21 Aug 2011) that autumn 2011 would bring a ‘slew of high-profile literary adaptations’ to the screen. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Help to discuss good/bad books. He said that One Day had enjoyed box office success retelling the big … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

The Gruesome Appeal of Executions and Executioners in the Arts

Many popular books, films, songs and poetry have been inspired by people who (officially) take the lives of others, and the manner of their departures. Shakespeare once said that nothing became a particular man in his life, except the leaving of it. Three hundred years ago, the public flocked to watch the entertainment of executions. Broadsheets of last words or narrative songs were best-sellers; souvenirs. So, artistic use of executions and executioners has been around for a long time. Modern executioners’ hoods are for sale, for people who want to imagine or play games. Execution is the corollary of discussion over the merits or otherwise of the death penalty. How is it done? Public or private? Descriptions like ‘state-sanctioned murder’, ‘system sponsored killing’, or ‘offing the inconvenient’ convey strong feelings. Public desire for … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Unfinished Masterpieces Can Be As Compelling As the Originals

Works of art are often left incomplete through war or artists’ death. Some are finished by other people; but most are made interesting by being abandoned.   On the April 2011 publication of David Foster Wallace’s novel, The Pale King, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst wondered in Britain’s Sunday Times at the attraction of unfinished works. ‘You don’t buy a jacket with one arm, so why seek out what amounts to a creative stump or narrative doodle?’ Wallace’s book came from 200 pages left stacked on his desk when he committed suicide in 2008, intertwined with fragments from his bin. For many readers, it’s a suicide note revealing the man’s state of mind. Douglas-Fairhurst also cited Henry James’ short story The Middle Years about a novelist on his deathbed dreaming of the stories he might … Read entire article »

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British Royal Wedding Spotlights Interest in All Things Regal

This article was first published on Suite 101, 9 April 2011. With continuing interest in the Queen’s Jubilee of 2012, it still has something to say about the monarchy in Britain today. Kate and William’s April 2011 nuptials are like a British movie with a global audience and a reminder of how films about royals endlessly fascinate people. Peter Kellner, President of the UK’s YouGov Opinion polling organisation, said in April 2011: “For 123 of the past 174 years, we’ve had a female monarch. For how many of the last 174 years has American democracy produced a female president?” His point was wider than a dig at Americans; it illustrated a British acceptance of the Royal Family in general and The Queen in particular. Whether Brits are naturally Royalists or not, … Read entire article »

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Political Movies Tell the Truth Some of the Time About Politics

If life reflects art reflects life, does political movie-making reflect politics? Does political cinema reveal truth? Does it matter, if they’re good films? Film is a medium that lends itself to dramatising conflict, espousing causes, harnessing opinion and satirising opponents. Political movies need that material. It’s been utilised in TV series, such as The West Wing from the U.S.; In the Thick of It, which spun into In the Loop (2009), a movie; and House of Cards and Yes Minister /Yes Prime Minister, classics of civil service/politician tensions. The British mini-series State of Play became an American movie (2009) about investigative reporters and government corruption. It’s a broad category, political film. Citizen Kane (1941) was a thinly disguised biopic about publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst who had an unsuccessful run for New York … Read entire article »

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The Godfather Revisited and Reinterpreted for Today

A novel and film 40 years old still thrills, chills and excites imitators. This seminal work set the benchmark for crime family drama. People love it. On his American Movie Classics (AMC) website, Senior Editor and Film Historian Tim Dirks composed a fulsome commentary of 1972’s masterpiece, The Godfather, in three parts, portraying the mafia as integral part of the fabric of 20th century American society. In a sense, their business became part of the ‘American Dream.’ Dirks styled it: “superb, a mythic, tragic film which contributed to resurgence in the American film industry.” Part 1 was the era’s highest grossing movie. Director Francis Coppola collaborated with Mario Puzo, author of the best-selling novel (1969) about a Cosa Nostra dynasty. The catchphrase “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” (i.e., … Read entire article »

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2001: A Space Odyssey Revisited and Reinterpreted for Today

Visionary, profound, astounding, a visual experience and epic, the movie was a cinematic special effects landmark with messages that speak still. Tim Dirks, senior editor and film historian at American Movie Classics (AMC) wrote an extensive commentary on the structure, meanings, purpose and parallels of Kubrick’s 1968 film masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film has entertained, intrigued and mystified audiences ever since it came out; today, astonishingly, it has much to teach the world. Dirks described it as “a landmark classic, probably the best science-fiction film of all time about exploration of the unknown.” Coincidentally released at the height of the US-USSR space race, it “prophetically showed the enduring influence computers would have on our daily lives” and how man is dwarfed by technology and space. It broke conventions – no spoken … Read entire article »

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Black Swan: Just One More Disturbing Portrait in Mind-Game Movies

A study of a disintegrating mind is a growing film genre devoted to the human condition under pressure, where all is not what it seems. Ever. ‘Oh poor perturbed spirit’, as Shakespeare put it. In Black Swan, almost two rivetting hours of senses awakened with superb acting, amazing camerawork, lavish music and wits scared, are hallmarks of a great movie. To spend hours afterwards perturbed, thinking through what was actually seen, is how mind-game movies hook people. Black Swan (2010) is about a young ballet dancer, given the White Swan role in a production of Swan Lake, who gradually lost her grip on reality, as she became like the evil twin sister, the Black Swan. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman mixed the subtleties/horrors of acting with dancing perfection. The film is about … Read entire article »

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The Dark Side Reflects People in Their Lives, Movies and Arts

Why people are drawn to the dark side and why so many hide dark sides of their own has fascinated philosophers, film makers and artists for centuries. ‘The Devil shouldn’t have all the best tunes’, (commonly attributed to the English evangelist Rowland Hill, 1744–1833), sums up some people’s views of the darker side in others. The 2010 movie Black Swan unleashed fresh soul searching and anguish about how the arts’ appeal to the innate darkness within most people. New York based British writer and critic Tom Shone wrote in the Sunday Times (Jan 2011): ‘Darker=deeper=good is one of our more unbreakable pop-culture shibboleths’. He cited Darth Vader from Star Wars (1977-2005) urging the hero to ‘give yourself to the Dark Side’; the severing of his own arm by the protagonist in 127 … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101