Tag Archives: Film

Nude with Skeleton by Marina Abramović 2005

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Hey there, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, although I have recently discovered the most extraordinary performance artist that I have the urge to share!

Marina Abramović is internationally recognised for her inspiring, captivating and conceptual performances that provoke a powerful and emotional response from the audience, as referenced by Sean O’Hagan.1 I’ve recently watched a documentary known as, The Artist is Present that presents Abramović most iconic and fascinating performance at the MoMA Museum of Modern Art.

According to The Marina Film Project, audiences queued to sit in front of Abramović as she sat completely still within a gallery space for six hours straight for two to three months. There was complete silence, as Abramović would continue to stare at the person right in front of her. This is one of the most remarkable performances to date and I’m completely mesmerised by the way Abramović can emotionally engage with the audience.2

The documentary presents Abramović artistic career including her relationship with Ulay, although there was one performance in particular that immediately captured my attention. Nude with Skeleton 2005 presents the artist with a skeleton that is placed over the top of her nude body, as referenced by Lima. The most fascinating aspect is the skeleton’s synchronised movements that correlate with Abramović’s slow and controlled breathing; the overall performance delivers a very interesting parallel between life and death.3

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Lima explains that the performance explores death’s inevitable presence and the very notion that life itself isn’t permanent. In fact, the performance invites me to consider the presence of life and death that is profoundly emulated through Abramović’s performance including the dramatic and captivating composition with the life-sized skeleton.5

According to the MoMA audio recording, Marina Abramović explains that the skeleton exposes the frightening perceptions surrounding death and the concept of facing mortality.6 This is quite a confronting piece, as the juxtaposition between the artist’s figure and the skeleton invites me to consider my own mortality and my impermanent presence within the world that is a relatively scary thought at times. The performance delivers a powerful and emotional response that is admirable and inspiring.

I know if I had a life-sized skeleton placed over the top of me, the experience would be surreal, even frightening. The thought that we’ll have to face the inevitable at some stage is a challenging feeling that invites me to reconsider the value of life and the present moment. It’s amazing to actually realise how one single performance can trigger these profound emotions or thoughts; this is what Abramović does best! 7

The Marina Film Project mentions that the performances were recreated within the exhibition at the MoMA through a dedicated group of artists that participated in Abramović’s intensive training sessions leading to the grand opening.8

If you ever get the chance to watch The Artist is Present, I would definitely recommend it, even if you’re not into performance art, this will provide a completely different perspective in regards to art and the surrounding world. The documentary invited me to understand the importance of being present and aware of the your surroundings internally and externally. Don’t forget, rent or buy a copy of this documentary, you will seriously be amazed!

References

1., “Interview: Marina Abramović,” Sunday 3rd October 2010, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/oct/03/interview-marina-abramovic-performance-artist
2.The Marina Film Project, Force LLC and Mudpuppy Films INC, 2012, http://marinafilm.com/
3.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,” http://www.li-ma.nl/site/catalogue/art/marina-abramovic/nude-with-skeleton/9280#
4.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton”
5.MoNA Multimedia, “Marina Abramović. Nude with Skeleton.” http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/audios/190/2016

6.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,”
7.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,”

8.The Marina Film Project, Force LLC and Mudpuppy Films INC


Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones ends with a Bizarre Twist

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Today I decided to watch Paranormal Activity Five and I honestly do not know where to start! I have watched all five films, although I didn’t  have high expectations for the last one, as they all have a very similar storyline.

Paranormal Activity Five did cause me to jump and there were some aspects of the film that were disturbing, although the ending was slightly disappointing and I do remember feeling confused, I actually walked out of the cinemas wondering what had actually happened.

So why am I even writing about Paranormal Activity 5? I have witnessed several advertisements on television that featured skull imagery and I wondered how these particular icons relate to the actual film? The Marked One’s is based in California, where 18-year-old Jesse is possessed by an evil spirit / supernatural entity that suddenly spirals out of control.

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Grandmother preying in Paranormal Activity 

The film does focus upon a small Latino community including Jesse and his best friend Hector who both begin to realise that the next door neighbour, Anna is performing a range of bizarre rituals.

On the night of her death, both Jesse and Hector enter the abandoned apartment, where they find a range of unusual ornaments, video tapes and journals that they decide to take with them.I did notice skulls within the apartment, not real ones of course, just these small sugar skull candle holders that are stored within the basement.

The Marked Ones also contains Day of the Dead imagery that appears for five to ten seconds, now that was kind of interesting! There is one specific part of the film that does feature Day of the Dead figurines and a large skeletal mural on the wall that appears similar to the grim reaper. So this is the part where Jesse’s Grandmother and his friend, Marisol seek help from a local who works at an unusual antique store, although this only seems to escalate the situation.

The skull only seems to appear when someone is about to die, in a way the skull has been used to communicate a message. The Day of the Day imagery used within the film may reflect the Mexican / Latino culture, this was properly the most interesting part of the entire film.

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Grandmother performing ritual on Jesse 

There were other parts that were quite boring, I do remember spending at least three to four minutes watching a white washing basket, there’s no music, no movement, there’s just a white basket placed within the middle of the lounge room. I am about to discuss the final part of the film, so there are some major spoilers!

Ok so the ending was fairly entertaining, you have witches, gangsters with shot guns and time travelling? When Jesse is kidnapped by a group of witches, his two best friends approach an isolated house with two gangsters who decided to bring a bunch of weapons along with them. Well….one of them just decides to just kill at least two witches with a shot-gun and they’re suddenly launched right into the air.

So these witches are supposed to be possessed in order to start this weird demon army, wouldn’t you think they would be able to overpower some random gangster with a shot-gun? Obviously not, it appears that this film doesn’t really have any logic what so ever, the ending doesn’t really make much sense at all.

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Grandmother and Jesse’s friend at the Antique Store

The Marked Ones did cause me to cover my eyes within certain parts of the film, although the film was very predictable. Paranormal Activity Five was very similar to the previous films, they all have the exact same formula. So Hector and Jesse somehow travel back in time to the first film, where Katie murders her boyfriend Micah, I had no idea how time travelling relates to the storyline, maybe I’m missing something?

This idea seems very farfetched, so you have witches, demons and time travelling all mixed into one. This was definitely far different from what I was expecting, I was surprised, confused and dumfounded all at the same time. I actually thought the Marked Ones was the very last film, although the ending left everything wide open, surely the whole time travelling scenario can’t progress any further?

If the film focused upon the Day of the Dead iconography / symbology, this would have been more enjoyable to watch, perhaps this would have provided context to the film.  I must admit, I was impressed with the poster designs, if only the film was as good as the advertisements.

So the poster features a skeletal figure on the very front with a symbol across the forehead, this figure does appear very similar to the Virgin Mary, this particular poster actually convinced me to watch the film. So if you’re intrigued to watch the latest Paranormal Activity, then be prepared for some shaky camera work and a very boring, yet bizarre story line!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2473682/

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/paranormal_activity_the_marked_ones/

Image Citations:

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2765541376/tt2473682?ref_=tt_ov_i

http://screenrant.com/paranormal-activity-marked-ones-legend-hercules-clips/

http://pnatmo.photofolio.org/

http://www.apnatimepass.com/paranormal-activity-the-marked-ones-movie-poster-0.php


Sinister 2012 directed by Scott Derickson

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Sinister 2012, DVD Cover

About a month ago, I decided to rent Sinister from the DVD store, the macabre cinematography and the unique storyline definitely provides quite a shocking finale. This 2012 horror flick stars Ethan Hawke who acts as a successful author who discovers a range of disturbing videos that endangers his entire family, towards the end of the film, everything spirals out of control and the true villain is revealed to all!

So why am I talking about this film anyway? While I was browsing through the local video store, the DVD cover immediately captured my attention. On the very front features a young child smearing blood onto the wall; the pattern does remind me of a skull, this particular image does becomes a significant part of the film, although I wont explain too much for those who have not watched the movie!

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Sinister 2012, Ethan Hawke standing in front of the projector

The very first time I watched Sinister, I was confused, baffled and slightly disturbed, although the actual storyline was quite different to anything I have heard or seen before! The visual effects were impressive, although Sinister was not particularly horrifying, the film was creepy more than anything! The music also provides a disturbing element to the film, I was anxiously waiting for something to jump from behind the corner, although the film did provide a very unexpected twist.

I was particularly inspired by the make up, the villain does feature very disturbing characteristics that does become rather unsettling towards the end of the film. The make up appears very similar to a human skull, i’m not entirely sure if this is intentional, although this does provide the character with a dark and macabre appearance.

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Sinister 2012, The Boogyman

This dark, mysterious figure, known as the ‘boogyman’ is the most intriguing aspect of the film, the grey wrinkly skin and the dark eye sockets are definitely unsettling, the character doesn’t even have a dialogue, in fact the character doesn’t appear to have a mouth in general, which is rather surreal!

At first I thought Sinister would just be another clique horror film, although I was pleasantly surprised! At one particular stage, I thought I knew exactly was going to happen, although the film did take a completely different direction all together. I had to watch Sinister for the second time in order to fully appreciate all the subtle hints within the film that were actually connected to the storyline.

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Sinister 2012, Boogyman

While Sinister wasn’t the scariest film I have ever seen, the plot was definitely thought provoking and the ‘boogyman’ was quite an impressive character! For all those Horror fans out there, if you’re looking for a disturbing film with an interesting storyline, then I would recommend Sinister, the ending will provide quite a shocking surprise!

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinister_(film)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1922777/

Image References:

http://www.containsmoderateperil.com/sinister-2012/

http://www.welovemoviesmorethanyou.com/2013/02/14/movie-review-sinister-2012/

http://puremassacre.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/sinister-creepy-yes-groundbreaking-not-quite/

http://www.gbdh.sadiron.com/archives/12737


Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino

So where do I even begin with Quentin Tarantino’s, Death Proof? This 2007 production was completely different from what I was expecting, towards the end I began to wonder whether I was still watching the same film. Death Proof features a psychotic stunt man who deliberately kills a group of young women in a horrific and gruesome car accident; this is his main agenda really, “Stunt Man Mike” drives around in his indestructible ‘death proof’ car that is used to terrorise and mutilate young women.

Ok so, it’s really not to bad, as there is only one or two gruesome scenes throughout the entire film, in fact I was actually expecting a massacre with blood and amputated limbs flying left right and centre, after all it is a Quentin Tarantino Film! The ending featured a rather unexpected twist, as stunt man Mike finds himself in a vicious car chase with three young women who refuse to be victimized; Death Proof makes a rapid transition from an American slasher to an action, thriller. There was one stage where I was wondering whether I accidentally pressed the wrong button on the remote control, I soon realised I was still watching the same film!

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Death Proof, DVD Cover 

So why am I even talking about Death Proof in the first place? Well I was fascinated with the skull that was imprinted onto the front of Mike’s ‘Death Proof’ Car. The skull is quite a striking image, especially on top of the car and the symbol continually reappears throughout the majority of the film. I have actually wondered how the skull relates to the storyline or the narrative, in fact the film was rather disjointed and the dialogue was rather confusing, it was rather difficult to determine what was actually going on.

It was quite difficult to determine the most important aspects of the film as the three protagonists at the very start changed to three completely different characters towards the end of the film. At least the narrative wasn’t boring or predictable and the dialogue was rather entertaining to watch! The random conversations between the different characters also adds a humorous twist to the film, Kurt Russell also plays an excellent role as Stunt Man Mike, his psychotic and irrational behaviour is rather comical.

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Car Crash in Death Proof

I have noticed that Tarantino’s films feature a stylised effect, especially the violence that isn’t really shocking or horrifying at all! The violence is exaggerated to the extent where the blood splatters and the amputated limbs become humorous and entertaining! The violence is extremely unrealistic, it’s almost cartoonish, although I do believe that these particular effects add a unique style to Tarantino’s films. I must admit Death Proof features the most violent car accident I have ever seen, you don’t just see two cars colliding into one another, you actually see arms, legs, torso’s cut in half with blood splattering in every direction.

The violence in Death Proof was very brief, there was only one particular scene that was gory, other than that the film was quite tame for a Tarantino film. Overall, I do find the skull on Mike’s ‘death proof’ car intriguing, I personally believe that the skull signifies danger as the symbol only reappears when something violent is about to occur. I decided to search for Death Proof through the internet and I have realised that the skull has been used for car stickers, t-shirt designs, jewellery, key rings, even coffee mugs; the symbol has become a form of visual merchandising!

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Kurt Russell and Rose McGowan

Grindhouse Cinema

Ok so I didn’t really understand the concept behind Death Proof until I decided to research ‘Grindhouse Cinema’, that was introduced in the 1970’s. According to Sarah Wharton in American Independent Cinema, the Grindhouse genre does feature exploitative films that significantly emphasise sex, gore and violence. Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’ and Robert Rodriquez’s ‘Planet Terror’ are heavily inspired by the Grindhouse genre; the special effects feature quite an old, deteriorated appearance and the colours are over saturated, it’s as if you have been brought back in time to watch a 1970’s slasher film.

Both films feature disjointed lines that distorts the quality and the appearance, just imagine you’re watching a film at the cinema and there’s a roll of film  that is about to explode or set on fire, now just imagine the quality of the film you are watching, it’s as if the film is about to stop at any second. This is the kind of anticipation I experience when I begin to watch Death Proof or Planet Terror, the special effects do add a very distinctive and unique style. So Tarantino and Rodriquez have produced a ‘double feature’ named Grindhouse that includes Death Proof and Planet Terror, as well as other films such as Machete, Machete Kills and Hobo with a Shotgun.

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Grindhouse Poster for Death Proof and Planet Terror

So Planet Terror features a hardcore go-go dancer who is attacked by a flesh-eating zombie, Cherry Darling is immediately rushed into hospital, where her leg is amputated and replaced with a machine gun. Both Cherry and her ex – boyfriend, Wray begin to brutally kill an army of zombies that begin to take over the world along with the other survivors including a nurse, a sheriff and a crazy chef from a deserted steakhouse.

I have noticed that some of the characters in Planet Terror do make an appearance in Death Proof, some of the scenes are quite familiar and it is interesting to observe the parallel between these two particular films. Tarantino and Rodriquez’s version of Grindhouse provides a unique perspective of the genre and the story lines also features a level of humour, parody and satire that is throughly entertaining to watch.

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Planet Terror by Robert Rodriquez 

While Planet Terror features blood, gore and violence in every minute of the film, Death Proof focuses on the dialogue, which becomes a significant part of the narrative. According to Jay McRoy Tarantino and Rodriquez have used Grindhouse within a contemporary context, the sex, the violence, even the visual effects appear rather similar to a 1970’s B-Grade Horror Movie or an exploitative film with no budget. Ironically these two influential directors have used the visual effects in order to replicate certain elements from B-Grade, exploitative films, both Death Proof and Planet Terror feature a surreal, unconventional style that I haven’t really seen before.

Exploitative films such as Salo or I Spit on your Grave feature highly graphic depictions of sexual violence, in comparison Death Proof and Planet Terror feature a level of humour, irony as well as impressive special effects that combine contemporary Hollywood Cinema with the American Grindhouse genre. Overall Death Proof can be rather confusing and disjointed within certain aspects of the film, although it is interesting to see Tarantino’s interpretations of American Grindhouse and the B-Grade exploitation genre from the 1970’s.

If you are looking for something different to watch, then I would definitely recommend Rodriquez’s Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof, If you are patient, the dialogue will suddenly transform into a brutal, violent car chase!

References

Mcroy, Jay, in Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear (ed) Steffen Hantke, (USA: University of Mississippi Press,2010) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=tYiGERS4fKoC&pg=PA226&dq=grind
house+tarantino&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zKfKUbrWJIPIl

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Wharton, Sarah, “Welcome to the Neo Grindhouse: Sex, Violence and the Indie Film” in American Independent Cinema,
Indie, Indewood and Beyond (eds) 
Geoff King, Claire Molloy and Yannis Tzioumakis (Oxon: Routledge, 2013) 

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=7ibUEeJMNCYC&pg=PA200&dq=
grindhouse+tarantino&hl=en&sa=X&ei=

86bKUdyhBoHFkAWzpoCgDw&ved=0CE4Q6AEw
BjgK#v=onepage&q=grindhouse%20tarantino&f=false

Cline, John and Weiner. G . Robert (eds), From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow in Transgressive in Cinema’s 21st Century 
(Scarecrow Press, 2010) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=VKhqh3HFH8AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=grindhouse&hl=en&sa=X&ei=
GKzKUaucJoyGkQWn2IGgDQ&ved=0CDcQ6wEwAg

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1028528/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1077258/

Image Citations

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwlAqIfuwgQ
2. http://www.last.fm/music/Grindhouse:+Quentin+Tarantino’s+Death+Proof
+Soundtrack/+images/22405301

3. http://lefthandhorror.com/2012/02/29/grindhouse-movie-review-planet-terror-death-proof/
4. http://onlyhdwallpapers.com/flower/death-proof-rose-mcgowan-grindhouse-kurt-russell-russel-desktop-hd-wallpaper-749977
5. http://collider.com/grindhouse-blu-ray-review/
6. http://www.dbcovers.com/image-of-grindhouse-planet-terror-2007-grindhouse_planet_terror_2007_1


Savages

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Over the weekend, I decided to watch Savages, an American thriller directed by Oliver Stone. The film features Blake Lively who acts as the main protagonist who assists with a successful marijuana company with her two best friends, Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Taylor Johnson) So, what were my very first impressions of the film? Towards the very beginning, the amount of violence, sex and gore was very over the top, in fact the entire film was slightly over dramatic.

There was definitely a slow build and I was more impressed with visual effects and the car explosions rather than the storyline or the dialogue. Lively did play a very unenthusiastic character and the dialogue was very boring to begin with, the actual kidnapping was the most shocking part of the film. There were several times were I started to lose interest, although it was Benicio Del Toro’s ruthless and vindictive character, Lado that convinced me to watch the rest of the film.

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Ben wearing a skull mask

Lado is apart of the drug cartel and his violent, corrupt behaviour does deliver a strong impact within Oliver Stone’s, Savages. Lado is the reason why so many characters die in one giant blood bath, wherever there is Lado, you know that you’ll be expecting blood left right and centre. Benicio Del Toro does play an excellent villain along with Salma Hyek as Elena who owns the notorious drug cartel in Mexico. Without Del Toro or Hyek, the film would seriously lack any sort of impact or shock, the storyline would be rather flat without these two particular characters.

In Savages, there is a strong reference to the Mexican sugar skulls, through the masks that are worn by Chon and Ben who begin to terrorise members of the drug cartel. This is basically the reason why I am writing about this film in the first place; the masks feature decorative patterns and designs that add an interesting effect to the overall film.

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Both Ben and Chun wearing sugar skull masks

While Savages features a strong reference to the drug trade in Mexico, the sugar skull masks may reflect both Chun and Ben’s opposition to this violent activity. In the past, the Mexican community have used skull masks as a way to protest against the drug trade, I have often wondered whether Chun and Ben use the skull as a way to retaliate against the drug cartel.

Who knows really, while there are plenty of reviews on Oliver Stone’s, Savages, there is limited information in terms of the symbology behind the sugar skull masks. Lado also wears a skeletal handkerchief during the very start of the film; in a way the skull features a strong parallel between life and death, Savages also features a strong reference to the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival through the skeletal figurines and the sugar skulls.

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Lado wearing a skeletal handkerchief 

Overall, the costumes, the props and the masks were visually interesting, although the dialogue didn’t make much sense in terms of the storyline or the narrative, in fact the film would have been better if they didn’t use Blake Lively as the dialogue. While Savages featured some very violent scenes, the film was rather glamorous and superficial, even the storyline was predictable. Savages was rather tame for a film that represents the Mexican drug cartels; don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed watching the film, it was a little too dramatic for my liking.

Nevertheless, Savages is still a good film with some astounding actors and some remarkable visual effects, if you are comfortable watching violent films then Savages is perfect if you have nothing else planned on a Saturday afternoon. For more information please click on the links below.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615065/

http://www.savagesmovie.com.au/

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/savages_2012/

URL Links:

http://www.cultureslap.com/savages-review/

http://popcultureninja.com/category/reviews/page/5/

http://darkeyesocket.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/at-cinema-savages.html

http://purefilmcreative.com/killough-chronicles/mozart-vs-bach.html


Warm Bodies Directed by Jonathan Levine

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Ok so I haven’t been to the cinemas in a very long time and last night I decided to watch Warm Bodies, a romantic comedy that tells the story of a flesh eating zombie named R (Nicholas Hault) who falls in love with a young woman known as Julie (Teresa Palmer) While I am a huge fan of zombie films, I have never heard of a zombie love film; as soon as a I viewed the trailer for Warm Bodies on Youtube I was completely fascinated with the storyline.

I’ve watched love films featuring vampires, werewolves, witches and even fairies, never have I watched a love film with zombies. So many of you are properly wondering whether Warm Bodies is similar to Twilight and this is a comment that I have heard several times over the past couple of weeks. The storyline including the visual and the audio effects is rather entertaining, in fact I was impressed with the sound track throughout the entire film!

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Warm Bodies is rather corny in some parts, although the film does offer a humorous and entertaining twist! What I do find particularly fascinating is R’s ability to reconnect and empathise with a human survivor; Julie finds herself trapped within an abandoned aircraft, where she begins to realise that her fellow companion is more than just a lifeless corpse.

Then there are the bonies, so what are the bonies? They are these grotesque, skeletal figures that are determined to suck the life out of the living and the dead. It is the sharp definition of their long, thin skulls that differentiates the bonies from the zombies. Within the film, a zombie can potentially disintegrate into a bonie, where the corpse enters the realm of the undead. It is this idea that fascinates me the most, the fact that there are multiple stages of death and Warm Bodies reflects R’s determination to become human once again.

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While I do not normally go out of my way to watch a love film, I throughly enjoyed Warm Bodies. In fact, it was great to watch something different besides your stereotypical, B-Grade zombie film. Don’t get me wrong, I will never fall out of love with Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later, although it is quite refreshing to watch something different from time to time.

I am quite surprised I have actually watched a love film, as I usually go out of my way to avoid them. This must be a good sign, finally someone has made a love film that is enjoyable and easy to watch, this is an incredible achievement. Ok so if you are expecting an intense zombie film, where everyone and everything is completely obliterated by rifles and machine guns, I properly wouldn’t recommend watching Warm Bodies. However, if you do enjoy watching the occasional zombie film and you do not mind some of the corny parts, then I would advise clicking on the URL links below for further information.

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Did you know, Warm Bodies is based on a novel by Isaac Marion? I didn’t even know this until I typed the name of the film into Google, it would be interesting to see how the book compares to the film, I suppose I’ll just have to find out. Jonathan Levine has successfully directed a humorous and entertaining film featuring Nicholas Hault who plays a superb, even marvellous role as R, a zombie that is able to express a range of human emotions such as love, happiness and despair.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1588173/

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/warm_bodies/

http://warmbodiesmovie.com/

URL Links

http://www.impawards.com/2013/warm_bodies_ver6_xlg.html

http://collider.com/warm-bodies-review/

http://turntherightcorner.com/2012/11/13/first-warm-bodies-trailer/warm-bodies-skeletons-bonies/

http://theblemish.com/2013/02/warm-bodies-review/


American Horror Story

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2/2/13 – The Latest Television Series featuring a Haunted House, a Dysfunctional Family and one Unexpected Twist. 

Last week, I watched an amazing television series also known as, American Horror Story; I decided to watch season one at a friend’s house, I wasn’t to sure what to expect at first, although I was hooked after the third episode. I must warn you in advance, American Horror Story is seriously addictive, each episode does uncover another key element to the plot that begins to unravel towards the end of the series.

American Horror Story is produced by Ryan Murphay and Brad Falchuck and the series begins with a young family who move into a haunted house in Los Angeles. Ben, Vivian and their daughter, Violet soon discover that the house does contain spirits from those who have died within the house. Each episode introduces a completely different story that intertwines towards the very end of the season; while I was watching American Horror Story I began to wonder how the spirits were connected the house, the level of suspicion and anticipation does make a brilliant ending to the series!

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American Horror Story does feature quite a dark and gruesome effect, although the sexual references also adds spontaneity and humour to the series, especially the bondage mask and the promiscuous maid. The introduction to American Horror Story also features a range of skeletal figures and skulls that also compliments the uneasy music and the old fashioned portraits. The skull often reappears throughout the series that often highlights the border between life and death.

At the very start I was unable to determine who was alive and who was dead, as a continued to watch the program, I had realised that the spirits live with the inhabitants inside the mansion. This is a very interesting concept as it is hard to determine if there is someone or something lurking behind us in the dark. It’s hard to determine what happens after death if you never experienced it before.

Towards the end, you begin to discover that each character does has a personal connection to the house; the spirits remain inside the mansion until the night of Halloween. It’s interesting to see how the different characters have their own story and how these stories connect to the other spirits within the house. There was one character in particular who had captured my attention; Tate is a socio path who begins to visit Ben for counselling sessions. The scene immediately cuts to Tate wearing skeletal face paint, as he begins to walk down the school hallway.

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The scene doesn’t specifically explain an reference to the skull face paint, although the visual effects and the cinematography was impressive. Tate begins to discuss his urges; his desire to kill innocent people that is then composed with the skull makeup. I assume the makeup becomes a symbol of death, perhaps the skull is used as a warning sign, a sign that allows the viewer to suspect that there is a lot more to this character than what meets the eye. It’s so hard for me to write about Tate without giving away too much information; his character is entertaining to watch on-screen and his connection to the house is a very important part of the storyline.

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I do not own a copy of American Horror Story, so when it was time to leave my friend’s house, I rushed over to the video rental store and borrowed a copy. As soon as I got home, I continued to watch the episodes until 1am in the morning, I had literally watched 12 whole hours in one day, that is how addictive it is! If you are looking for something interesting to watch, I would recommend American Horror Story, Season One.

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URL Links:

http://doubleex.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/american-horror-story-murder-house.html 

http://mostlyfilm.com/2012/10/11/american-horror-story-ill-get-the-shovel-you-get-the-bleach/

http://www.gorestruly.com/2011/12/13/hell-evision-american-horror-story-the-story-so-far/


Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino

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1/2/13 – The Release of Django proves to be Violent, Gory and Bloody Marvellous! 

Last week, I decided to watch Django and I was amazed by the cinematography, the visual effects and the acting; Django is by far the best film I have seen this year. As soon as I heard that Quentin Tarantino directed Django, I knew I was going to watch a decent film with lots of blood, violence and gore, although the film was far better than what I was expecting. The anticipation was so intense I have bitten all my fingernails, I actually walked out of the cinema wondering what had actually happened to my fingernails.

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Ok so I wont spill too much information about the film because Django is definitely worth seeing, especially if you are a Quentin Tarantino fan like myself. Jamie Foxx acts a the main protagonist Django, a young American American who is subjected to torture and slavery in the United States during the Civil War. Django is then set free by a German Bountry Hunter who both partake in a long and gruelling journey in order to save Django’s wife from her unscrupulous owners. The theatricality does add an artistic element to the film, even the blood splatters remind me of a Jackson Pollock painting. The violence and the gore does feature a very theatrical effect; instead of watching someone being shot in the chest, you begin to witness the blood splattering in different directions. These particular elements do add an interesting effect to the overall film.

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Leonardo DiCaprio also starred in Django as Calvin Candie, the charming yet ruthless owner of Candyland. Throughout the film, the viewer begins to discover that Candyland is a large mansion that contains most of Candie’s slaves, including Stephan who does add a humorous twist to the film. Samuel L Jackson acts as Stephan who is determined to uncover Django’s main reason for visiting the mansion.  The most powerful scene within the film, is the part where Mr.Candie begins to suspect that his two visitors have travelled to the mansion in order to save Django’s wife. Candie places the skull onto the dinner table and begins to discuss phrenology to his guests. The scene does add a level of anticipation as Candie begins to discuss certain parts of the human skull that are associated with submissiveness and creativity. The way Candie places the skull onto the table reminds me of Shakespeare’s, Hamlet; the scene was quite poetic in a way. The juxtaposition between the skull, the old fashioned furniture and the candles also reminds me of the Momento Mori, a 15th century art style that was used as a reminder of life and death.

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Of course you can’t walk out of a Tarantino film without seeing lots of blood splattering all over the place; the theatricality is what makes this film so entertaining to watch. When I had first discovered that Django was a Western film, I had my doubts, although the acting and the cinematography were spectacular! The visual effects do add a stylised effect that will have you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning right to the end of the film. If you do enjoy violent films and if you are a Tarantino fan, then you will enjoy Django.

Did you know that Django has won several awards for best picture and best director? This is a good reason to watch Tarantino’s, Django.

For more information please click on the links below.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1853728/

http://unchainedmovie.com/

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/tarantino-is-unrestrained-in-django-unchained/story-fn9n8gph-1226561118497

URL Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Django_Unchained_Poster.jpg

http://therumpus.net/2013/01/django-take-1-good-is-the-enemy-of-great/

http://215mag.com/whats-not-to-like-about-django-unchained/

http://watchdjangounchainedonlinefree.tumblr.com/


The Raven, 2012 Directed by James McTeigue

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10/1/12 – America Thriller about Edgar Allen Poe’s, The Raven

Last Saturday I decided to watch “The Raven” an American thriller directed by James McTeigue. The film starts off with a mysterious murder scenario, although the police soon discover that the murders are inspired by a poem also known as “The Raven”  by Edgar Allen Poe, a famous writer who is known for his dark and gruesome stories.

John Cusack does play an excellent role as Edgar Allen Poe who begins to work with the police in order to search for the killer. While the film wasn’t too dark or grotesque, the cinematography was rather interesting. There was only one murder scene at the very start of the film that did make my skin crawl, although there wasn’t too many other murder scenes that were gruesome. The film was suspenseful although I do believe that the murder scenes could have been more dramatic; on the other hand “The Raven” does deliver an unexpected twist towards the very end of the film.

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John Cusak as Edgar Allen Poe & Alice Eve as Emily Hamilton at the Masquerade Ball. 

I did find “The Raven” very theatrical; for me personally the theatricality does retract some of the dark or the grotesque elements within the film. If I was to watch “The Raven” for the second time, I would properly skip to the most interesting parts within the film. In saying this, I do find the costumes and the props rather impressive especially within the masquerade scene.

There was one scene in particular that captured my attention; during the masquerade ball the killer had sent a messenger directly to Edgar Allen Poe. The messenger had made a grand entrance with his horse, his dark cloak and his skull mask, everyone else attending the masquerade looked rather horrified as the mysterious guest begins to converse with Edgar. The mask did make a very interesting contrast with the colourful outfits that were worn at the masquerade.

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Messenger at the Masquerade Ball

What I do find interesting is the reference to the skull; throughout the entire film I had noticed the skull within the background. At some stage, the film had reminded me of the Momento Mori especially when the skull was placed on the desk or the bookshelf. The Momento Mori was a European art style within the 15 century and the skull was used as “reminder of mortality”, as referenced by Kristine Koozin. In most of the paintings I have seen, the skull is often juxtaposed opposite an hour-glass, a book or a vase full of flowers. This particular arrangement was used within “the Raven”, it’s not noticeable at first, you do have to look closer to recognise the items within the backdrop. The backdrop and the costumes did compliment the style of the film that was set in America during the 1840’s.

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James McTeigue who directed “The Raven” has also directed big blockbuster films such as “V for Vendetta”. While the theatricality suited V for Vendetta, I don’t think it suits McTeigue’s most recent production. While I did enjoy watching “The Raven”, I wasn’t too shocked by the murder scenes. The cinematography is rather impressive and the twist towards the end of the film is rather surprising, although the murder scenes were rather weak in terms of blood and gore. For more information please click on the links below.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1486192/

Kozzin, Kristine. “Introduction” in The Vanitas Still Lifes of Harmen Steenwyck: Metaphoric Realism. New York: The Edwin Ellen Press, 1990. http://books.google.com.au/booksid=UuprmGC6AOUC&pg=
PR3&dq=the+memento+
mori&hl=en&sa=X&ei=aor6UO_qK8XXkg
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Image URL Links:

http://uthmag.com/the-raven-movie-review/

http://themovieblog.com/2012/media-overload-the-raven/

http://cinemawon.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/the-raven-2012-review.html

http://www.heavy.com/movies/movie-reviews/2012/04/the-raven-movie-reveiw/


Frida by Julie Taymor

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Frida Front Cover

2/1/2013 – Frida presents the life of Mexico’s most predominant artist

On the week before christmas, I received another amazing gift, inside the Christmas wrapping paper was a DVD also known as “Frida”. The other night I had decide to watch Frida just because it was way to hot too fall asleep, the film features actress, Salma Hayek who plays Mexico’s most predominant artist, Frida Kahlo. The film is based upon true events as well as Kahlo’s troublesome relationship with muralist, Diego Rivera who has significantly influenced traditional Mexican Art since the 1920’s.

While the film does reflect Frida’s traumatic experiences; the film does appear quite glamorous, it was something I would expect to see in America rather than Mexico. At a very young age, Frida had injured her back from a tram accident, although the film could have intensified or elevated the pain or the trauma from the artist’s perspective. For someone who had experienced a severe back injury, “Frida” wasn’t as sad or distressing as I thought it would be.

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Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo and Alfred Morlina as Diego. 

On a positive note, the cinematography is excellent and the use of colour definitely adds vibrancy to the overall film; the acting also receives a thumbs up, both Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina played an excellent role as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. What I do find particularly interesting is the Day of the Dead skulls and skeletons within the film, that would frequently reappear throughout the duration of the film.  There was one scene in particular where Frida does visit her mother’s tombstone during the Day of the Dead, in the background I had noticed there were sugar skulls in different colours, patterns and designs. On the DVD cover, I also realised that Frida Kahlo is wearing skull earrings; in fact the skull was a popular icon throughout the entire film.

Skull Animation in Frida

The skulls did work well within the film as they effectively portrayed Mexico’s cultural and historical heritage; the skull also corresponded with Frida’s death right after her very own solo exhibition. I would say the most disturbing part of the film was when Frida had injured her back on the tram, the scene then cuts to a short animation that features Day of the Dead skulls with a red liquid substance spilling from their mouth.

This was the only part of the film that did provoke a response; the animation was quite dark, even morbid, it almost reminded me of a Tim Burton production. Normally the Day of the Dead skulls are quite vibrant, artistic and cheerful, in the film the grotesque quality of the animated skulls was something I haven’t really seen before. The animation was very clever in a way, as the skulls reflected Frida’s pain and agony.

Frida was quite an extraordinary painter and to me personally her own physical and psychological pain made her into a great artist. You can really see through her own paintings how much pain the artist had experienced in her lifetime. It is the pain that makes Kahlo’s work so fascinating, the colour and the composition in Kahlo’s work is very unique,  even stylised.

I would definitely recommend this film, especially to anyone that is interested in Mexican Art and Frida Kahlo, her own artistic, personal and professional career is quite interesting to watch on-screen.

Julie Taymor, Frida, USA: Miramax, 2002, 123 Minutes.

Foard, Sheila. W, Diego Rivera: The Great Hispanic Heritage. USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003. p.11-12

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/frida/

Image URL Links:

http://www.arcatatheater.com/category/calendar/

http://users.polisci.wisc.edu/LA260/cultures/kahlo/frida_kahlo_movie.htm