American Vandal: Season 1 (Netflix, 2017)

Crime documentaries are a very recognisable genre. We know the conventions. By this, I mean, we know that they will include interviews from witnesses, friends, family and the suspects.  They would have cut aways, narration, reenactments and professionals/investigators conducting experiments. You can spot the genre a mile away. However, we have finally reached the last stage in a genres lifecycle, parody.  Parody is to essentially take the piss out of genre conventions or other texts. Netflix took this definition and turned it onto the investigative crime doc, with its most recent addition, American Vandal.  Netflix does describe the show as a satire but the show seems to mock codes and conventions of film/TV, rather than society so I’m just going to call it a parody. (My dissertation was on parody so I apologise if I sound a bit too passionate about it).

Plot:

When Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is accused of spray painting 25 dicks on to 25 of the teacher’s car, Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) create a documentary to find the truth. This 8 part mockumentary will seek to uncover if Dylan is guilty and if not, who is?

Trailer:

Review:

The show takes the investigation seriously and follows all the guidelines of a traditional documentary. You could easily mistake it for anything you would see on CBS. This is until you find out that they are investigating dicks. Luckily, the show doesn’t give us dick joke after dick joke. The fact that they take this crime so seriously and even make the show 8 parts is what makes it funny. They really grip you in, making you want to watch more. The humour stems from how this crime is replacing the usual murder storylines and replacing it with a childish crime. They just take the dicks so serious! To be fair so do I. I watched the show in about 3 days because I just wanted to know, who drew the dicks? I often found myself gasping at new bits of evidence and trying to solve it myself. I did pick up on stuff before the investigators did and that just heightened my need to watch it. It was just like watching any other crime show…kind of.

american-vandal-trailer

For such an immature crime comes immature suspects and investigation. Those involved are mostly students so their reasoning and methods of investigation are far from professional. They investigate the ball hair on the dicks and the hottest mums in school, to the credibly of a suspect based on whether or not they lied about getting a hand job. It does seem silly but it really works. I just can’t get how the serious everyone takes it, it’s based on dicks!  This does however mean, that you will just laugh at how stupid the show is, rather than actual comedy and jokes. Your comedy preferences would really influence If you enjoy this show or not. I do hope this inspires other mockumentaries. However, I don’t want to risk ruining this new genre.  This could inspire new shows but also start a trend that could be unsuccessful. Parody can be difficult to pull off but can always result in some great programmes, take Parks and Recreation for example.

american vandal

For such a non-serious crime, the show really needs to find evidence to discover who it is and why they did it. This is again understandable for the genre. Unfortunately, there is a lot of time wasting. They investigate things that are unnecessary and really drag everything out. I do believe that they could have made fewer episodes to keep viewer interest and avoid wasting time and budget. 6 episodes would have been much more fitting. In addition, when we finally get to the end episode, it isn’t wrapped up very well. I was left unsatisfied. I do enjoy my shows wrapped up in a little bow. However, this could be the show leaving room for a second season. We will just need to wait and see.

american vandal 2

The show is also unrealistic. Now hear me out. I know, it’s a crime drama based on investigating dicks on cars. This isn’t what I am talking about. The show is produced by student film makers around the age of 16. Throughout, it is implied that their past projects have been terrible. They aren’t given a budget. They have school level equipment but can still produce really high quality content. My level of work was nowhere near as good as this, not until I was at university. BUT, this does need to be watchable by a real Netflix audience. Maybe I’m just jealous that Peter and Sam can make better work at 16 compared to me at 16.

dylan maxwell

Overall, I did enjoy the show. I did watch it in about 3 days and I usually like to take my time because I hate it when shows end on me. I put the finale of Pretty Little Liars on hold for two weeks because I didn’t want it to end. If you have a love of parody, I would give it a watch. I found it hilarious and I hope to see more from the mockumentary genre after this.

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My favourite directors of all time.

As someone who reviews films for a hobby, yes surprise, this isn’t my job, you would think that I would love to review films by my favourite directors. This is however, far from the case. I try to avoid it. This is to ensure that I don’t just rave about how much I love the film, even if it was far from their best work. I don’t want to be biased in my writing. In this blog post I will tell you about MY favourite directors and then a few honourable mentions. I have pointed out that these are just my favs because people might get a little offended if I miss out some of the greats such as Hitchcock, Tarantino and Spielberg. Don’t get me wrong, these guys are great and make some fantastic films but they just don’t do it enough for me.  So without further ado, here are my favourite directors of all time.

Edgar Wright

 

BRITAIN-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM-THE WORLDS END

Movies: Shaun of The Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), The Worlds End (2013) and Baby Driver (2017).  His most recognisable work is the first three films in this list. These 3 films are also known as the Cornetto Trilogy.

Wright Is a classic British parody comedy director who has been able to make some of the best comedy films I have ever seen. He doesn’t just rely on the dialogue of the characters, which is still brilliant, he is an incredible visual director. He has some of the most recognisable visual techniques within the parody genre. He has been able to take the tropes from other genres and turn them into a joke both within narrative and shot types. From the way he introduced characters into the frame, to being in sync with music and showing the passage of time. You are never bored if you are a media fanatic like me. You can just tell that so much thought and creativity was put into every frame.

shaun of the dead

He is such an underrated director in terms of study. I have been unable to find many film theorists who analyse his films and his style as a director. This was why I decided to write my 13,000 word Dissertation on him at University (I managed to get a first)! I spent over a year and a half studying his work on the use of hybridity (mixing genres) within his 2004 film, Shaun of The Dead.  He uses comedy within horror, romance and action to both reinforce ideology and take the piss out of the discourses of more traditional genres. I watched the film about 18 times in a 6 month period and I never got bored of his work. I did however, learn most of the words. This was much to the annoyance of my house mates.  If I could say one thing about his work, it would be “If it’s an Edgar Wright film, you just know it’s going to be good”.  When studying his work, I came across a video that teaches film creators how to ‘do visual comedy’ and Wright is reference throughout. Here is a link:

 

Tim Burton

tim burton

Movies: Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissor Hands (1990),  The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Mars Attacks (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999) Big Fish (2003), Corpse Bride (2005), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Sweeney Todd (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Dark Shadows (2012), Frankenweenie (2012) and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016).

burton

Tim Burton is the director I grew up with. As you can tell by the long list of films Burton has directed over the years, it wasn’t hard for me to grow up with his name. I have a love for the gothic horror and the unique style that Burton has within his films, from the over colourful Wonderland or the black and white film noir of Frankenweenie, to the bloody OTT horror of Sweeney Todd. His films are very much homage to the gothic literature and the style of cult. A fact I learnt from one of the 6 books I own on Tim Burton.  As his creativity is expressed mainly through character and world design, you must have an apperception for the creep factor to admire his work. As an ex- concept artist for Disney, It is no surprise he has a passion for the design over narrative. His films to me are just so beautiful and frightening, it’s difficult to combine the two but Burton pulls it off. He can bring the world of horror to a family film, making scares child friendly or bring the age range up by adding a lot of fake blood and darker tones. He can make films for all ages but still keep true to his look. But what else can be expected from EX- Mr. Helena Bonham Carter. Now that the pair is no longer together, I wonder who gets custody of Johnny Depp.

 

Honourable mentions:

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley-Kubrick

Movies: A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980).

Since I have the Stanley Kubrick DVD collection and a few books on his work, I felt it necessary to add him to the list. We have all heard the stories of Kubrick being a crazy director. He seems to push the boundaries as to what he creates in terms of taboo topics, as shown in Clockwork and the limits on how far he pushes his cast and crew.

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

Movies: The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), Interstellar (2014), Dunkirk (2017).

Christopher Nolen is on this list simply because his films are beautiful and so complex in storyline. His films seem very spectacle in style. Interstellar and Inception has some of the best looking scenes in cinematic history and I do not say that lightly. His mixture of narrative, dialogue and visuals is an art work. This idea is then heightened when you discover that he uses a lot of practical effects. This can include the rotating hallway in Inception to the world behind the bookcase in Interstellar. Any one brave enough and talented enough to achieve this gets a place on my list.  However, I could argue that his work with my favourite composer, Hans Zimmer, may have a little influence.

 

 

 

IT (Andrés Muschietti, 2017)

AN * This a long review as I had a lot to say. Just bare with me :)*

Last month, I wrote a post about my top 3 anticipated movies of September. IT was my number one choice and I can tell you straight up, I was correct. IT, is hands down a brilliant film, it’s creepy as hell, has fantastic characters and actors and hooks you in from the opening scene. I am not surprised the film has already made over $76 Million.

 

Trailer:

Plot:

When children begin to go missing, starting with Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), Georgie’s older brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and a group of 6 others, also known as the Loser club, attempt to solve the mystery. The culprit is Pennywise the dancing clown, a shapeshifter who can turn into your worst nightmare and feeds off of your fear. I mean clowns are scary enough but Pennywise is something else. You wouldn’t want him preforming at your kids birthday party. He might just eat half of the guests.

IT poster

Review:

If you have read the book and watched the mini- series from 1990, you would know that this is so much more than a horror film. IT is a coming of age story. Think Stand by Me (Rob Reiner, 1987), another film adaption of a Stephen King novel. This is a story where you genuinely care about the characters. They are decent, lovable human beings and you would be devastated if anything bad happened to them. It is very much the fear of losing anyone from the losers club that really puts you on the edge of your seat. You are watching these characters and their relationship with one another and experiencing their lives and friendship. You get flashbacks of what it’s like to be a kid again. The horror element is secondary to the general story of these kids. I just want to adopt all of them.  My favourite characters are defiantly Richie (Finn Wolfhard), our beloved Mike from Stranger Things and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer). They have such a strong friendship and come out with the best one liner’s. The comedy banter between these two defiantly gives us a break from the horror. Well that and Pennywise’s amazing dance routine. With such strong and memorable characters, excellent acting is a must and trust me when I say this, all of them deserve awards. Child acting is hard enough in family films but putting seven 13 year olds in a horror film with a terrifying clown, a lot of blood and swearing, well that sounds like a job only experienced adults could accomplish. These children amazing!

IT cast

Despite this, I feel like not all of the characters were developed well enough. With 7 to get through, you knew it was a difficult task. Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), could have used a bit more story to them. Mike in particular was lacking. I hope we get to experience more of his story in Chapter 2.

pennywise_grid

The character design of Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is also incredible, in my opinion he is so much more terrifying than Tim Curry. I mean the 1990 version was scary but horror hits a new level with this guy. Bill Skarsgårds young age, allows the clown to have a more childlike feel. His clown seems more devilish and babyish. He is more likely to have a paddy if he doesn’t get his way. Bill is also very attractive so seeing him look this horrific in full makeup is amazing. However, as Bill is a very hot actor, people on Tumblr seem to be sexualising the clown. The fanfiction honestly needs to stop! It’s not OK!

bill

I feel like you get to see a lot more of his clown, he has more dialogue and gets right in the characters face. You just want to look away but can’t seem to. If you have seen the film, all I’m saying is the projector scene and the clown room. Actually, just the whole part of the film when they are in the house. I shouted ‘Oh fucking hell’ and ‘nope, nope, nope’ in all of these scenes. The film is more of a creep out horror than jump scares and that is way more preferable in my eyes. Pennywise is more about frightening the kids, rather than eating them straight away so we see a lot of creepy scenes.

As you know,   IT turns into your worst fear. Originally, the novel is set in the 50’s so the children were scared of the typical classic monsters, like Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. However, this film is set in the 80’s so the monsters are changed to fit the era. Straying away from the original is usually frowned upon but it seemed to work very well. The new monsters are again very creepy but seem very cartoon like and childish. I feel that they could have used practical effects, rather than CGI. I wanted the monsters to look more realistic, to increase the fear factor.  This gives the film a Goosebumps feel just with blood and foul language. But these are what children fear, rather than what adults fear. Perhaps in Chapter 2, these will change into grown up horrors, such as paying rent and general responsibility.

clown roon

The film does stray away from the original in other ways. I have read IT but I am terrible at remembering what happens in books. I often need to re-read books to retain the whole narrative. Therefore, I am not going to tell you everything that they did not keep. All I will say is that they change the ending and for the sake of us all, left out the child orgy scene. They also made the decision to split the story in two. This film is the children’s version. This was a brilliant move, as we can have much more character development and is easier to understand. Plus, allows more detail. Bravo!

Overall, it’s brilliant. The film excellently balances the narrative of the children with creating elements of fear. You love the characters and feel such a connection with all 7. This is not usually the case with horror films. You just want to see people get murdered in brutal ways but with this precious bunch, I will personally fight anyone who puts them in danger. It’s bloody creepy and has a generally impressive narrative. I love it so much. I am hoping to watch it a second time at the cinema.

The Mist (Spike/ Netflix, 2017)

As fans of television and films, I think it is safe to say, that when it comes to Stephen King adaptations, they can either be amazing or terrible. Some of the great screen adaptions can include The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980), ‘IT’ (Tommy Lee Wallace, 1990) and The Green Mile (Frank Darabont, 2000). However, one particularly questionable adaption is the new television series ‘The Mist’ (Spike/ Netflix, 2017). It is nowhere as good or as disturbing as its film version, which was directed by our Green Mile director in 2007. If you haven’t seen this inadequate show, I will briefly and much to my dismay, describe the plot to you. I will then explain why I’m not much of a fan but will continue to watch the entire series.

mist poster

PLOT.

When the mist hits Bridgeville, Maine, the residents must haul up in various locations, including a shopping centre (just like the original), a church and a hospital. BUT this mist is not like the usual fog you get, when you are trying to drive to work and can’t see five feet in front of you, it’s filled with monsters. So it’s the same as driving through fog when you’re in Birmingham. In the film and the book, these monsters are just massive bug like creatures. In my opinion, the films monsters are some of the creepiest looking things ever. However, Spike thought they would shake it up a little, until the lid falls off and splashes liquid all over the kitchen. These monsters are your worst fears and they try to convince you to kill yourself, or they would just do it themselves if you refuse (redundant, I know).  That sums up the main plotline. Nevertheless, most films/ TV shows will have a sub-plot. The show opens with the rape of Alex Copeland (Gus Birney) at a party. She was unconscious while it happened so she is unsure of who committed the crime. Despite this, her best friend noticed Alex’s crush walking down the stairs during the party and told everyone that the love interest did it. Unfortunately, before the DNA test reveals the attacker, the apocalypse begins. Then to make things worse, Alex is hauled up with her over protective mother, Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and her accused rapist.

mist spiders

REVIEW

When I watched the first episode and they started with a rape plot line, I was incredibly shocked. It is very brave of a show to start with such a dark and serious topic. When a show does this, they must do so with respect and ensure they are protecting venerable viewers. This need is kind of met. The family and police take the crime seriously but the other residents seem to blame it on the victim. They say that she has made it up and that it was her fault because she’s a slut. First off, this is not a good message at all to give to rape survivors. Please be more sensitive Spike! They are brave enough to share their story and get justice for a horrific crime against them and they get taunted and rejected. Luckily, those who do accuse Alex are swiftly eaten by some monsters. *High fives monsters*. This sub-plot is also the most interesting part of the show and the only reason I continued to watch. This should not be the case. The show seems to stray away from the fact that there are monsters now roaming America. I mean the other way the show also does this, is by not actually showing many monsters. You see like 4 in total so you end up forgetting that the monsters are a threat at all. It just turns into a show about angry people locked in a mall. It is honestly a disgrace to the film and book. Well that may be a little harsh. It is very different form the film and book.

With any apocalypse show or show with a possibility that your favourite character could be killed off at any moment, it is important to have good characters. The Walking Dead (AMC, 2010), for example has some fantastic characters and you know they can be killed off without warning. RIP. With The Mist, this is far from the case. I can personally say that I hate every character in the show, EVERY SINGLE ONE. You know in horror films and most apocalypse stories, that there is that one character who you just want to die. They are just the most useless character ever. Well this is every character in the show. Everyone sucks. They kill each other without reason, lock each other up, steal food, blame each other for stuff, kick people out of the mall and just act like generally awful people. All I ask is for one good character, please!

mist character

If you have seen the Mist, you know there is one crazy religious lady that convinces everyone that a human sacrifice would help (Like WTF). Well, our lady played by Frances Conroy, is more of a hippy and states that its mother nature’s way of avenging the rape story line. A crazy theory that any sane person would not believe but apparently everyone is insane and actually believes her. Honestly like, they all deserve to die. By all means, murder your own kids because a hippy said so. The terrible characters take away from the plot because you just don’t care if people live or die and this is the main element of any horror.

hippy

Ok, moving away from the characters, before I get too angry and rage quit my review. Let’s talk about the lack of suspense within the show. If you have worked in the television industry or have studied media, you would know that to keep people engaged in a series, it is important to have cliff hangers or points to ensure that viewers want to continue with the show. The programme loses this on occasion. This is the kind of show that if I stopped watching or missed an episode, I wouldn’t care too much about. Nothing to me screams “Next episode, put on the next one”. This is kind of a bummer considering the whole series is available to binge watch on Netflix. The show is just so unbelievable average. However, I haven’t actually finished watching the series so it might get amazing in the last two episodes. (I shall get around to it… eventually).

So this next little comment is not so much a dig at the show but my questions to Spike. 1) Why did you kill a dog off first, you evil people? 2) How long has this been going on for? Like it seems like only 3 or 4 nights and the shopping mall has already run out of food!

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Overall, the show is very average. It has a semi-interesting plot line. It isn’t very scary, it’s hard to like any of the characters (in my opinion, you may like the show) and it doesn’t stick to the original like at all, a factor that always annoys me in any remake. I wouldn’t really suggest this to anyone but again, you might enjoy it. This may be one of the harshest reviews I have ever done so that’s one thing The Mist has going for itself.

 

 

Supernatural Gag reel season 12!

To all my fellow Supernatural (CW, 2005-) fans. The Gag reel is up for Season 12. It took them long enough but as season 12 is now available on DVD, we have been blessed.

As a huge SPN fan, it is safe to say that one of the best things about the show is the Gag reel. We get to watch our boys act like morons during filming. So here it is guys, the moment we have all been waiting for!

Video credit: Winchestersgirl81

 

My top 3 anticipated movies of September 2017.

*AN: Hey everyone, sorry for the large gap in posting anything. I have been away completing my final year at University.  However, I have graduated and I’m back!  I will be posting regularly more TV and Movie reviews, as well as other entertainment content. I have lots of content planned! My names April and I approve this message *

The past few months have offered plenty of great movies. Some of my favourites being Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts, 2017), Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017), Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017) and Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017).  Despite these great movies, we have some pretty exciting films coming out next month, from remakes of classic horror to highly expected sequels. So without further ado, here are my top 3 anticipated movies of September.

3) Flatliners (Niels Arden Oplev, 2017) will be first released 28th September.

Some of the most asked questions we ponder about are: what happens after we die? What lies beyond life? Do I need to get out of bed this morning, like do I really need a job? (Answers: I don’t know, hopefully lots of dogs and yes, money).Well a group of students create an experiment in an attempt to answer the first two questions. They stop their hearts/ Flatline, to experience death and see where we are headed after we slip in the shower or eat an out of date sausage roll. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the afterlife doesn’t appreciate this jump between realms so part of the spirit world follows them back. (Insert some silly joke about being followed back on Instagram that will probably make me cringe when I re-read this post). It honestly looks very creepy! With disappearing figures that are trying to murder you. This science fiction horror could be a great movie, if they haven’t just shown all the good parts in the trailer. The film stars Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna and James Norton so we can expect some realistic acting, BONUS!  This thriller is in fact a remake so if you want to get a good feel of the film beforehand I suggest a watch (Joel Schumacher, 1990).

 

 

2) The Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Matthew Vaughn, 2017) will be released 20th September.

The boys are back! We have more guns, more ridiculous plot lines, more eccentric villains and some Americans (they wanted to supersize the sequel). There isn’t much to say about the plot, just think JAMES BOND. We have a villain with a plan to destroy the world and our boy Eggsy needs to save the world with the help of their American cousins ‘The Statesmen’. This might end in a mini patriotic war between our great nations. One who has the annoying orange as their president and the other, who decided to divorce the rest of Europe. “It’s not me, it’s you”. It’s going to be funny, action packed and full of some great music. I am also interested to see how they play out the Harry situation (never forgive, never forget). If you have seen the first film, you will know what to expect. Guns, fun, hot men in suits, sarcasm and a cute pug! If you haven’t seen the first, go now, run, run away to the nearest computer, sit and watch it, experience cinema. I think some of my excitement stems from the fact that I was able to watch them filming one of the chase scenes in Birmingham, UK. It took them 3 days to film 1 min 34 seconds worth.

 

 

 1) IT (Andrés Muschietti, 2017) will be released 8th

Ok so first off, Ahhhhh! It looks so scary! Hollywood is bringing back the nightmare of our past clown traumas from this year. I swear if that craze starts up again I will send a strongly worded email to Stephen King himself (I’m British, this is how we show anger… that and tutting). Basically Pennywise the clown lurks around the town of Dairy and kills children. The film will focus on a group of children in particular, as they face the nightmare inducing clown. Hey Mike for Stranger things is in it…cool. In all seriousness, the original novel is terrifying and the mini-series is brilliant so they have a lot to work with. I’m sure that this is a horror film that will actually be good. Bring on the jump scares!

 

Lifted, Pixar short (Gary Rydstrom 2007)

This review is on the 2007 Pixar short Lifted, directed by Gary Rydstrom. Link to the short:

Pixar is known for some fantastic animated family films. However, when they are not making us cry with toys going into a furnace, they make Pixar shorts. These shorts often go unnoticed by audiences and are much underappreciated. In 2007 Gary Rydstrom, a Pixar sound-editor, created a hilarious short called Lifted. Rydstrom wanted to have a go at directing for the company he worked at and thus created a cleaver and wacky animation for Pixar Lovers.

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Lifted is based around the idea of an alien abduction. The classic UFO is in the dusty barren location of what looks like Texas, USA (correct me if I’m’ wrong. My British arrogance is at play here), where the alien attempts to take a human in his sleep. Unfortunately, this abduction is a part of a test for the little green man, perhaps to get his abduction licence. He fails miserably in his attempts, causing a few bumps in the road to say the least.

The short opens with the stereotypical Sci-fi alien horror, with the creepy sound effects and MASSIVE UFO. Our poor sleeping abductee starts to be slowly lifted into the air, only to be bashed in the head… about 100 times. It’s a miracle he is still alive and what is even more incredible is the fact that he is still asleep.  He gets chucked, squashed, slammed, bumped and thrown around his bedroom in a series of hilarious false movements. It’s a perfect case of visual comedy without the use of much dialogue. The frustrated humour Is bound to make you laugh at the alien’s misfortune.

lifted-3

From the inside of the UFO we see our alien struggle to press the correct button out of a panel of around 1000. It brings me back to the all the failed driving test I had to take until I finally passed (but let’s not go into too much detail on that). You can’t help but feel sorry for him. But again people always enjoy someone else having a hard time in a test and having a bit of a meltdown.  His stressful reactions, the angry stairs of the instructor and the shots of our floating human being smashed around his bedroom, Is a recipe for a simple idea that is bound to cause a few laughs. Lifted is short but gets to the point and doesn’t leave the audience waiting for their first bit of comedy gold.

lifted-2

I would happily watch this again ad suggest that others take some time away from the usual Pixar and pay some attention to the brilliant shorts, especially Lifted.

How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

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