My favourite David Bowie soundtrack appearances

I’m sure you’ve all heard the sad news that David Bowie passed away yesterday. I’m not a Bowie superfan who has listened to every album he’s put out or anything, but I love his songs as well as respect him as a fine actor in his own right. He was and will continue to be such a huge part of pop culture, I felt I had to write something to commemorate the man and his legacy in my own very small way. A collection and analysis of his film appearances seemed the most logical choice until I realised I’d only seen about half of them and would have to rely on writing an embarrassing amount about his short cameo in Zoolander to make up for it.

Whilst rewatching Inglourious Basterds to get mad hype for seeing The Hateful Eight this week, I was reminded of the babe how awesome film scenes can be made with a little sprinkling of Bowie. Looking at his IMDB page, the man has hundreds of credits for movies, games and tv shows. So, I decided to revisit and list my personal favourite times films borrowed a bit of magic from the great man himself.

1. Inglourious Basterds – “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”

Eager film remixer that he is, Quentin Tarantino used Bowie’s title track from Paul Schrader’s 1982 erotic horror film Cat People for his tale of revenge and Nazi scalpings. As with all Tarantino soundtrack choices, the song fits perfectly as the backing to Shosanna’s (Mélanie Laurent) preparations for her long-gestating ultimate payback plan.  Never at a loss for words, Tarantino explained the inclusion:

“I’ve always loved that song and I was always disappointed at how Paul Schrader used it in Cat People because he didn’t use it — he just threw it in the closing credits…And I remember back then, when Cat People came out, going, ‘Man, if I had that song, I’d build a 20-minute scene around it. I wouldn’t throw it away in the closing credits.’ So I did.”

Can’t argue with that.

2.  The Martian- “Starman”

As you may have gathered by it appearing in both my Scenes of the Year list and this one, I liked The Martian very much. I was enjoying the shit out of it anyway, but when “Starman” started playing, I knew this love was for real. I’m glad they didn’t go for the obvious choice of “Life on Mars?”. It’d have been too on-the-nose and wouldn’t have worked nearly as well. It’s hard to pick, but I think “Starman” may be my favourite Bowie track. I’m going to be vague here as the film isn’t even out on DVD yet, but it’s used to great uplifting effect in The Martian, playing over a montage of people deciding how to deal with Watney’s situation.

3. A Knight’s Tale – “Golden Years”

I feel A Knight’s Tale doesn’t get enough love in general. It seems to be one of those films people have seen, but only the once when they were younger. If they do remember the film, it’s usually for the anachronistic soundtrack which folded the likes of Queen and Thin Lizzy into a medieval setting. One of the best examples of this is the use of Bowie’s “Golden Years” when Heath Ledger’s bluffing fake knight is asked by the scowling Rufus Sewell to show everyone a traditional dance from his home of Gelderland. Ledger struggles before Shannyn Sossamon’s Jocelyn steps in and takes the lead. I love the slow build up to the track and the familiar “Angelll!” in the background before the song kicks off properly.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy – “Moonage Daydream”

If you make a throwback space opera with a prominent ’70s/’80s soundtrack, it makes all kinds of sense to include a bit of Ziggy Stardust. Luckily, director James Gunn thought so too and used “Moonage Daydream” to soundtrack our heroes arriving at Knowhere- a busy mining colony located inside the floating severed head of a gigantic ancient godlike being known as a Celestial. It’s a short scene, but the trippy quality of the track really establishes the setting well. Fuck, that soundtrack is great.

5. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – “Life on Mars?”

Bowie features heavily on the Steve Zissou soundtrack. Brazilian musician Seu Jorge’s character translates and performs many of Bowie’s hits like “Rebel Rebel” and “Space Oddity” in Portuguese throughout the film. It’s all wonderful, but my favourite use is of the original “Life on Mars?” to score Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) meeting Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a man who may be his son. He chats for a while before the realisation sets in and he makes his excuses. He strides to the prow as the song swells before getting there and sparking up a much-needed, head-fugging joint. It’s such an oddball choice, but then that’s both Wes Anderson and David Bowie all over.

6. Labyrinth – “Magic Dance”

There was no way I couldn’t include this one in the list, considering Bowie performs it too. Labyrinth is such a fun and weird slice of ’80s fantasy. Bowie is fantastic as Jareth the Goblin King and every time I watch the film I always look forward to “Magic Dance”. It takes a talented performer to not look lost in a room full of puppets and a baby and Bowie pulls it off with style.

Right, I’ve made myself a bit sad now. Still, whenever anyone dies, we should try to concentrate on celebrating their life rather than mourning their death. Rest in peace Mr. Bowie. Thanks.

My most anticipated films of 2015: Part 2: The Cradle of Life

So here’s the second part of my list. I actually got rid of a few like Fast and Furious 7, but I realised asking people to read through every single film I’m even a little bit interested in was a bit much. Still, there’s plenty outside this list I’m excited about, just these are the main ones. Also, as if to personally bollocks me up, In the Heart of the Sea has moved to the end of the year’s “award season”. It’s a hell of a delay, but at least it shows they’re confident in the quality of the product.

 

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – 22nd May

Known elsewhere as simply “Tomorrowland”, this film is Disney’s latest attempt of making a film out of areas/rides in their theme parks. Plot details are scarce, but it has something to do with George Clooney and visiting a futuristic place called Tomorrowland. Two reasons why I’m excited for this one. One, Brad Bird’s directing and he hasn’t directed a film I didn’t really enjoy. Two, it has a very effective teaser trailer that captures that old fashioned mystery that you don’t tend to get these days. I want one of those pins.

 

Jurassic World – 12th June

I’m torn about Jurassic World. Part of me is still enamoured with all things Jurassic Park and is relishing the thought of a new dino action blockbuster. The other, more rational side reminds me that all the sequels have been varying degrees of shite. Set-up is that Jurassic World is a functional dinosaur park and has been for some years. The spectacle of seeing living breathing dinosaurs becomes commonplace and visitor numbers start to dwindle. At the demands of the higher-ups, the park’s geneticists cook up a new hybrid dinosaur which gets loose and runs amok in the park. Chris Pratt’s in it, so thumbs up there, but the story doesn’t fill me with confidence. I’m looking forward to the spectacle of it all, but the trailer gave me some doubts. The dialogue was hackneyed and awkward and everything had a bit too much of a greenscreen quality to it. Plus, the shot of Pratt on his motorbike riding alongside his raptor buddies has me all kinds of concerned. Fingers crossed that it at least manages to be the best of the sequels.

 

Ant-Man – 17th July

As you may have noticed around these parts, I’m a bit of a Marvel fan. Thing is, I’m not particularly buzzed about Ant-Man. So why put it on a “most anticipated” list? It’s because I’m still looking forward to it, but expectations aren’t high. Part of it is the whole Edgar Wright debacle (although it seemed to be over genuine artistic differences) and part of it is the trailer which can’t decide whether it’s a serious superhero film or not. Ant-Man is the story of con man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who must use a super-powered, super-shrinking suit to somehow help his mentor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Marvel have proved they know what they’re doing and occasionally make initially baffling directorial choices (I was incredibly worried about the Russos directing Winter Soldier, but they fucking nailed it) so the director of unremarkable stuff like Yes Man and The Break-Up gets a pass. I’m really hoping that the tonal problems of the trailer don’t speak of similar problems with the film, because that could be a killer. The script’s written by Judd Apatow regular Adam McKay, so chances are it’ll lean more towards the Guardians of the Galaxy end of the spectrum than anything else. Could be a pleasant surprise, could be the first Marvel misstep in a while. Either way, it’s going to be interesting.

 

Crimson Peak – 16th October

Guillermo Del Toro returns to his gothic horror roots with Crimson Peak. I’ll just copy and paste the synopsis here because it’s elegantly simple: “In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.” S’got Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain in it and I’m looking forward to it. Del Toro describes it as more in line with his earlier Spanish language films like The Devil’s Backbone, which I’m all for. Apparently it’s going to make full use of its R rating too, which is fucking refreshing in this age of neutered horror.

 

 

 

Spectre – 23rd October

Hmm, do you think the guy that reviewed all 23 Bond films back-to-back is excited about a new one? Yep, it’s safe to say there are teethmarks on the bit. Sam Mendes returns which is brilliant considering the bang-up job he did on Skyfall. Christoph Waltz is probably going to be Blofeld too, so there’s that. I haven’t read the leaked script, but I imagine the plot involves James Bond killing dudes and saving something or someone. This is our 24th time around on the carousel, I think we know how many horses are in the race by now. Rumour has it that it might be Craig’s last and if it is, let’s hope this one is more of a Casino Royale than a Quantum of Solace.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 18th December

I can’t believe we’re getting a new Star Wars film this year. Not only that, but it’s been wrestled from George Lucas, so it might be like an actual, proper film. Like nearly everyone else, I geeked out over the teaser. Yeah, it’s all just fleeting glimpses of familiar stuff, but the mystery and excitement is back. If anyone can make a new Star Wars saga work, it’s J.J. Abrams. He’s crazy talented and seems to have a good grasp of what people are looking for in a fun space saga. I was cautiously optimistic, but now I can feel the hype growing. The trailer was in front of Battle of the Five Armies at the IMAX and it blew me away. I’m not as precious about Star Wars as I used to be and if the film turns out crappy, it can simply join the long list of Star Wars crap I don’t pay attention to. Still, if it manages to be great, I can’t tell you how happy I’ll be.

 

 

Trumbo – TBC

Bryan Cranston’s in it. That should be enough. In case it isn’t, Trumbo tells the true story of successful ’40s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who is blacklisted for being a Communist at the height of the Red Scare. I’ve always found the whole McCarthyism era interesting and so this one looks to be right up my street. No confirmed release date yet, but this is almost certainly awards bait so probably around the end of the year. I hate to jump to conclusions but possibly a Bryan Cranston Oscar? YES.

 

The Hateful Eight – TBC

 

 

It’s Tarantino. You should know your opinion on him by now. I love the guy and am always pumped for his next film. The story revolves around post-Civil War bounty hunters trying to find shelter during a blizzard but end up getting involved in “a plot of betrayal and deception”. Channing Tatum, Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell all star and it looks like it’s going to be another blood-soaked affair. One ticket please.

So, that’s my list. This is going to be a bumper year and apparently I’m going to have to become a millionaire to afford all these trips to the cinema. The perils of being an unpaid critic are numerous. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

My most anticipated of 2015: Part 1 : An Unexpected Journey

Two image-filled lists in a row? Have I sold my soul to the vapid, clickbaity world of modern listicle writing? Mercifully no.  Even worse, this is my first two part article. Why? Well, if narrowed it down to a friendly ten, it’d just be the massive billion dollar franchises getting a look-in and are the ones already being talked about incessantly. Anyway, this is not a thing I usually do, but I’m responding to a request on Facebook (Hi Dave!) to write about the films that I’m anticipating in 2015. I’m looking forward to all of these in different ways, but the thing I’m really looking forward to is a film I know nothing about at the moment and get blindsided by when I sit down to watch it. Obviously being hyped for something and then it turning out to be good is great, but there’s something incredibly special about being sucker punched by the unexpected and exciting. I realise that by saying this, I’m kinda invalidating this list I worked pretty hard on, so let’s move swiftly on. So, in UK release order, here are the films you can expect this “disingenuous prick” (actual reader feedback) to have “one of my sodding opinions” (probable reader thoughts) on later this year.

 

Big Hero 6 – 30th January

 

Big Hero 6 has been out for ages in the United States, but we finally get it at the end of the month. I’ve been excited about it for a long time and the wait has been tortuous. Basically, it’s a more traditional Disney take on a Marvel Comics property. The film’s about a boy named Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) and his inflatable medical bot Baymax (Scott Adsit) who team up with his techie friends to form a team of superheroes. Disney have been on a roll lately with Wreck-It Ralph and the inescapable Frozen and I’m hoping that co-writer Daniel Gerson brings the same level of quality to the film as he did with Monsters Inc. The near unanimous praise the film has garnered would suggest that Disney have knocked it out of the park again. I’ve only seen a few trailers, but I can already tell I’m going to love Baymax and that he’ll steal the show.

Inherent Vice – 30th January

Out on the same day is Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, Inherent Vice. Based on the Thomas Pynchon novel, the film is set in the ’70s and follows pothead P.I.  Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) as he investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. Critical reaction to this one has been mixed, but the reason I’m looking forward to it is because of PTA. At the very least his films are interesting and the cast is made up of some legitimately great actors. It looks to be a bit of a strange mix of genres, but if anyone can make it work it’s PTA. Joaquin Phoenix is a fascinating actor too, both on and off screen. I’m hoping for a bit of an unconventional experience that has the potential to become a new cult favourite of mine. Fingers crossed.

Jupiter Ascending – 6th February

Whilst the trailers for Jupiter Ascending haven’t been great, I have absolute faith in the Wachowskis. Sure, the Matrix sequels weren’t as great as they should have been, but their Post Neo work has been fantastic. When they can give me stuff like V for Vendetta, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, they’ve earned a ticket sale to all future projects.  Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a woman who unsurprisingly dreams of something bigger than her current job cleaning toilets. It’s only when genetically engineered ex soldier Caine (Channing Tatum) tracks her down that she learns that she may space royalty and in charge of the balance of the entire cosmos. No pressure then. I’m hoping it’s the slightly hokey but visually stunning space opera it seems to be. I imagine it’s the sort of film that needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible, which is great for me as it’s an excuse to visit the IMAX. Pretty stoked.

Fifty Shades of Grey – 13th February

Yes, really. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s almost certainly going to be terrible considering the source material. However, this film is going to make waves when it hits and it’s probably going to be one of the most talked about films of the year. It’s kind of an event picture. If you didn’t know by osmosis alone, Fifty Shades of Grey is about Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a student, who encounters a brooding, handsome billionaire named Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Grey opens Anastasia’s eyes to all sorts of things, with a special focus on the world of BDSM. Cue mugging and flogging. I’ve not read the book, but have read select passages and I was genuinely shocked at how poorly it was written. I guess that’s what you get from something that started its life as Twilight fanfiction. I kinda want to see if it’s just as much of a car crash on screen. I might skip going to see it in cinemas though, can’t be publicly photographed leaving this sort of this sort of filth- got my political career to think of.

Chappie – 6th March

 

So Chappie is the next Neill Blomkamp film after District 9 and Elysium. I’m a big fan of the guy. Chappie looks like my cup of weird tea. It seems to be a mix between Robocop and Short Circuit, which is something I didn’t even know I wanted until just now. It stars Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel and Sigourney Weaver with voice and motion capture for Chappie done by my main man Sharlto Copley. Basic story is that Chappie, a robot capable of learning and feeling, is kidnapped by gangsters and raised in a dysfunctional way and used for their “nefarious gains”, whatever the hell that means. I don’t know what the hell to expect from this one. The first trailer seemed like it was a fairly family friendly affair, but the latest one seems to indicate the film is firmly in Blomkamp’s wheelhouse with promises of gritty violence. Despite not quite knowing what I’m in store for, I’m excited. Plus, I am rather charmed by Chappie himself, I must admit.

 

In the Heart of the Sea – 13th March

I like Ron Howard. He’s done some crap in the past, but his recent output has been great. I loved Rush and I hope him re-teaming with Chris Hemsworth produces a similar quality film. Based on a book about real events, In the Heart of the Sea focuses on the 1820 sinking of the whaling ship Essex by a massive and pissed off bull whale. leaving the crew shipwrecked. I really like the sound of this one and I think the spectacle alone is worth seeing. I’m a big fan of Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy and I can imagine that they’ll bring the skills needed to sell what seems to be a prolonged oceanic disaster film. Sign me up.

John Wick – 10th April

Again, this one has been out in America for ages and the positive word of mouth has me desperate to see it. Story is that John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a retired hitman seeking vengeance over someone killing his dog. What’s not to love about that? I like Keanu and this seems like a real return to form after recently starring in shit that nobody saw like 47 Ronin. After being spoiled by The Raid 2 last year, I’m hoping for a slice of unusual action from this one as it cites many anime and martial arts films as influences.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – 24th April

It’s the sequel to The Avengers. Of course I’m excited. Marvel are on a great run of quality right now and I can’t see that failing to extent to their tentpole team-up film which has the potential to make more than the billion dollar first did. From the trailers, it looks like we’re heading into darker territory with rifts between the various Avengers appearing and a few shots of a clearly not well Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Simple premise is that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) creates Ultron, a robot peacekeeper with self-awareness and learning capabilities (2015 is looking to be a banner year for self-aware robots). Things go awry when Ultron (voiced by James Spader) decides that humanity needs to eradicated. The trailer has me stoked. The returning cast look great. The new additions of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision look awesome. The trailer’s promise of a showdown between The Hulk and Iron Man in his Hulkbuster suit has me incredibly hyped. Bring it on.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road – 15th May

God. I hope it’s half as fun as the trailer.

Anyway, that’s part one done. Part two later this week.

 

The exclusivity wars : Whoever wins, we lose

Netflix and other on demand services of its ilk have had such a huge impact on viewing habits in such a short amount of time. Don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit sick of service exclusive content and I can see some unpleasant things on the horizon. Speaking of which, I assume you’ve heard about Adam Sandler’s four-film deal with Netflix? Basically, the theoretical comedian has made a deal to produce and star in four films for the company. Also, the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will premiere exclusively on the service. That’s great an’ all but what if you don’t have a Netflix account? What if you’ve signed up to Amazon Instant Video instead and can only justify one VOD subscription? Well, the answer seems to be “fuck you”. No terrible Sandler film or potentially great martial arts action for you. If these experiments are successful, you can bet that this’ll only be the start of it. Expect to see more exclusive studio deals with all new and back catalogue titles only appearing on one service. Fancy watching an X-Men film? Fuck you NowTV subscriber, Netflix has a deal with 20th Century Fox and all future, past and Days of Future Past X-Flicks will only be available there, so choke on it. Or, even better, each studio will create its own streaming service. Hooray for Paramount on Demand! Watch Transformers: Age of Extinction and Top Gun for only £7.99 a month! Not available on any other service!

This may seem like a bit of a leap and yes, this is all massively speculative, but I’ve just got a bad feeling about this. That’s not to say I’m completely blinkered. I can definitely see the potential. It means there’s another option for films to reach the masses. We could get showcases for directors the mainstream won’t take a chance on. It could be massive for the indie movie scene. We could get sequels to things that should rightfully have them but are deemed “too risky”, like Dredd. If they’re smart about this, it could be awesome. However, we all know how Hollywood can be, chasing the short-term gain over any kind of rational plan. This is an industry where you’ve got big cheeses like Jeffrey Katzenberg thinking along the lines of a pay by screen size system where cinemas only have films for 3 weeks and then it’s up for download. Of course, what ol’ Katzy hasn’t taken into account is how unenforceable the system would be and the fact that it would make cinemas pretty much pointless and ensure that they make even less on ticket sales than they do now. But that’s just it. They don’t think. With that in mind, why wouldn’t they go for something like this?  They’re already terrified of Video on Demand as a competitor for eyeballs and wallets. So why wouldn’t they ally themselves with the enemy and get a fat payday now so their executives can afford to go diamond parasailing or whatever the hell rich people do for the next few years?

Physical media is already dying so this digital only future may come sooner than you think. Sony posted record losses this year and most of the blame is at Blu-ray’s door. It sucks because I’m a fan of physical media. I like having a collection. I like the convenience of watching what I want, when I want. You don’t have that with VOD services. You’re at their mercy. Films and shows are taken down on a whim and with very little warning. I know some people selling their film collections because they have Netflix. Seems short-sighted to me. At least when you have a Blu-ray or DVD, you actually own the thing and its availability isn’t down to the outcome of various meetings with studios.

All of this stuff diminishes the advantages that streaming has over piracy. People won’t care about all the new exclusive films, because they’ll be ripped and reuploaded on torrenting sites mere hours after they’re made available in a bog-standard file that doesn’t do anything stupid like limit viewing options. If this continues, the only advantage that streaming will have is the fact it’s legal – and we all know how many fucks the general public give about that. Why bother paying per month for a limited library that may or may not have the things you like when you can get an unlimited HD file of something you actually want for free?

Let’s not forget what “exclusive” means: not shared with others; belonging or catering to a minority. It’s a rather worrying trend. So unless you want to spend a ridiculous amount per month, you might be seeing fewer films in the future and that’s pretty saddening.

Brobusters: Why the upcoming female-led Ghostbusters is the best outcome

After years and years in development hell, it seems that a new Ghostbusters is a go, with director Paul Feig hiring writer Katie Dippold to craft a script for a “female focused” reboot. Predictably, knees were jerked and the responses I’ve read are hugely negative, like this one from the comments bit of one of the many, many sites reporting the story (edited to protect the dumb):

So, apart from societal failings and general misogyny why are people reacting like this?

Sure, a new Ghostbusters isn’t warranted at all, but as I said in my review of 300: Rise of an Empire, Robocop 2K14 and countless others, if it has a recognisable name, chances are there are people working on a reboot or sequel as we speak. I hate the fact that studios can’t seem to leave things alone, but that’s the unimaginative business side of filmmaking rearing its ugly head. You can hate the motion of the ocean, but you can’t turn back the tide.

Could it be negative reactions to Feig’s previous stuff like Bridesmaids and The Heat? Well, I wasn’t the biggest fan of either, but they were hardly terrible films nor were they particularly badly reviewed. How about Katie Dippold’s stuff like The Heat and Parks and Recreation? Well, Parks and Rec is fucking funny and generally well regarded. So, what’s the beef, chiefs?

Recently, it seems no franchise is safe from the dreaded reboot. I’m terrified that a new Back to the Future will happen sooner rather than later, for instance. However, this new take on Ghostbusters, at least to me, seems like the best way to go about it. So, here’s why a ‘Busters reboot starring women is a good thing (in list form, so you minutes-long attention spanners and Buzzfeed lovers can appreciate it.)

1) Finally, women get a big franchise of their own

Apart from the aforementioned Bridesmaids and The Heat name another successful recent female-led comedy. Tough one, isn’t it? You may be able to name one or two more, but I’m sure you can agree it’s a short goddamn list. Now name a female-led franchise that isn’t The Hunger Games or Twilight. Yeah, good luck with that one.

Hollywood seems to think that funny women just aren’t bankable. Trouble is, if they listened to the comments above and similar ones I’ve read elsewhere, they might believe that to be right and that’s pretty damn depressing. Funny women rarely get a showcase for their talents. The Ghostbusters name is evergreen. It’s as recognisable now as it was back in the ’80s. To hand those reins over to some comediennes is a great thing. Cards on the table, this new Ghostbusters is probably going to make mad bank based on the brand recognition alone and they almost certainly are already planning sequels. I’ve talked before about Hollywood learning the wrong lessons and taking superficial elements from big hits, recycling them and expecting the same result. Here’s the thing, if GB 3 brings in the dolla dolla bills they may end up learning the right lesson for the wrong reasons and start greenlighting all sorts of women driven stuff. All speculative of course, but not unlikely.

Plus, you know what you get when you type in “female ghostbuster” into Google Images? This:

 

That needs to change.

2) It’s so much better than the alternatives

It’d be really depressing to see a knackered team going through the motions, with Dan Aykroyd being the only one who wanted to be there. I don’t want to see another film about an old Venkman, Ray and Winston, especially as poor old Egon is no longer with us. I would welcome a cameo or two to pass the torch to the new team (I’m almost certain this’ll end up happening and my money’s on Aykroyd). Even 1989’s Ghostbusters II showed us that the “franchise” was already starting to run out of steam, sanding off the edges of our heroes and making massive concessions to being more kid-friendly than the grottier, more mature first film. Whilst I had fun with 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game (considered to be “the third film” by Aykroyd in enthusiastic promo materials) it was mostly cobbled together from rejected ideas for the threequel (the ‘Busters go to a hellish alternate dimension) and fan service (more Slimer shenanigans at The Sedgewick Hotel and another scrap with Mr. Stay-Puft). It was enjoyable, but the fatigue hanging over it all was palpable. A team of women changes that dynamic and shakes up the formula and I welcome that with open arms. Also, I’m not sure where all this talk of it being a “gimmick” is coming from. The first Ghostbusters had the gimmick of successful Saturday Night Live cast members doing a film where the exciting world of supernatural extermination is treated like any other public service. Yes, there is a danger that this new film will just rely on the fact that they’re women as its sole source of comedy, but shit, the script hasn’t even been written yet. Plus, having the old cast return would be just as “gimmicky” as replacing the cast with women is accused of being.

As far as a younger, recast version, they almost certainly wouldn’t cast unknowns and I really didn’t want to see a Ghostbusters film starring any of the This is the End lot (Sony’s stable of popular comedians). I like Seth Rogen et al. but the more I think about it, the more I’m super-relieved that Ghostbusters isn’t going to become a douchey fratboy-esque property with endless unfunny improv:

JAMES FRANCO: Hey Seth, can you stop fucking lighting your joints with the proton packs? It’s leaving scorch marks on the fucking ceiling!

SETH ROGEN: Sorry dude, HUEHEHEHEHEH, I just need some fucking way to relax after that fucking ghost shot up my ass.

CRAIG ROBINSON: Man, that shit was fucked up.

JAY BARUCHEL: *Something whiny, possibly referencing Canada*

It makes my brain hurt.

Yeah, that lot have mass appeal and stuff, but they’re their own brand. I’ve seen people fantasy cast the above actors in a Ghostbusters film but Ghostbusters isn’t and shouldn’t be about that sort of humour.

3) If you don’t like it, it doesn’t take anything away from you

I know this is tough because I’m still personally struggling with this one. Doesn’t make it any less true though. As you probably know, the recent Amazing Spider-Man films have pissed me off more than I thought possible. Thing is, I still have the Spider-Man trilogy and the two good films contained within. Marc Webb hasn’t broken into my house and stolen my boxset, nor has he bashed me over the head with a wrench so I forget all of Raimi’s work, although sitting through The Amazing Spider-Man 2 felt like it at times. Same thing with Ghostbusters. The existence of a new film won’t erase the deep well of nostalgia that people have for the two existing films. As I said a mere few paragraphs ago, I’m scared that they’ll redo Back to the Future, but if it happens, it happens. If it turned out good, bonus. If not, well, it’d suck that there would be a new series of BTTF films I didn’t enjoy, but oh well. This is all really basic stuff, but comments like the ones I saw on Facebook make me think I need to reiterate these things on the off chance one of those losers happens by this site.

Don’t get me wrong. Just because I’ve written all this, it doesn’t mean I’m predisposed to like it. If the film turns out to be reheated shit, I’m going to tear it a new arsehole just like any other film. I’m just floating some positives out there in an attempt to neutralise some of the festering poison out there. Let’s actually wait until it comes out, shall we? I’m cautiously optimistic about the new Ghostbusters. Hopefully the new cast will be shown how they do things downtown, lest they run into some kind of prehistoric bitch.

Rebrand, Bomb, Repeat: Why titles matter

If you haven’t heard- the film released earlier this year called Edge of Tomorrow (quick plug, finger guns, cheeky wink 😉 ) will be renamed Live, Die, Repeat for its home media release. Logic being that since the film performed way below expected numbers, a rebranding is in order, presumably to start anew and give it a massive push for DVD/Blu-ray. They even went as far as changing the title on IMDB (UPDATE: it has now reverted back to “Edge of Tomorrow” but here’s a screenshot so I don’t look like a lying jerkbag). I have a problem with this. Now, I get the complete apathy you may have to this topic, but bear with me, ‘cos I think it speaks of bigger things than just a dumb name change.

…And it is a dumb name.  A lot of films don’t bother with taglines now for fear of not being taken super fucking seriously, but I’ve always liked them.”Live, Die, Repeat” is a great tagline. It’s to the point and snappy. What it isn’t is a good film name. Whilst the title “Edge of Tomorrow” does sound pretty generic, at least it rolls off the tongue better than “Live, Die, Repeat”, which forces you into a Shatnerian way…of… talking. Considering the film’s concept being a single repeating day, “Edge of Tomorrow” actually fits nicely and makes sense in the context of the film. Granted, the film should be called “All You Need is Kill” as that is the name of the source material, but I can see why they changed that one. It sounds like a parody of sorts.

The film underperformed but it got crazy good reviews. Several film sites I go to have had people excitedly talking about how much they enjoyed the film for months. I enjoyed it immensely. I suspect Edge of Tomorrow is a future cult classic. I’ve already seen far more people talking about over the past few months than I ever remember seeing when it came out in cinemas. It’s got word of mouth on its side here. It’s a legitimately decent film. Quality will out if you give it time. I just don’t see how a title change benefits anyone outside of the Warner Bros. execs and the marketing team. Let’s just count off the ways this may hurt the film.

1) Confusing: Yeah, the film didn’t rake in the cash they wanted, but a bunch of people saw this film. They saw a film called Edge of Tomorrow. It’s alienating those people who aren’t as fucking sad as I am and who don’t read film sites all the time and so may not know of the title change. What happens to the people who enjoyed the film and want to purchase it, unaware of the name switch? In general, consumers are like meerkats- one sense of something being off and they dash underground.

2) Negates some word of mouth: People have been reading about the “best film of the summer that they didn’t see”. Plenty of sites (including this one) sang its praises and urged people to watch it. I’m always trying to get people to watch stuff and it can be challenging. The name change alone invites this kind of possible scenario:

Gumbus: Hey, have you seen Edge of Tomorrow yet?

Merle: Nah, I looked for it on Amazon. It kept taking me to another Tom Cruise film called “Live, Die…something”.

Gumbus: Yeah, that’s the one. They just renamed it.

Merle: Oh, ok. I’ll get it later. *forgets*

3) Established name already: The film I and many other people saw in the cinema was called Edge of Tomorrow. There’s no way I can think of this film as anything else but that. Just can’t.

4) It’s a fucking shit name: It’s a fucking shit name

It doesn’t make sense. Surely they should be pushing it super-hard for the home release, with posters plastered with all the 4/5 star ratings it garnered. Box office bombs become famous for being just that. They appear on all sorts of end of year lists detailing the biggest box-office losers. The Lone Ranger suddenly became talked about because of how much it was costing Disney. Plus, here’s the thing- EoT didn’t do well, but isn’t a colossal financial failure. I could have possibly seen the logic if it had done so badly they wanted to distance themselves from the name, but even then I would have disagreed. Plus, box-office talk is mostly bollocks anyway. Eventually, most films make their money back via home sales, rentals, TV rights etc.

Ultimately, it shows a complete lack of confidence in the product. It’s like when Disney dropped the “…of Mars” off the end of John Carter because the film Mars Needs Moms had bombed the year before and their beep-boop logic told them that the “Mars” part of “Mars Needs Moms” was somehow something to do with the failure of Robert Zemeckis’ shitty-looking CGI nonsense that no-one wanted to see . I hate to bring up the phrase “artistic integrity” in a discussion about Hollywood, but it shows a lack of that too.

Titles matter. When I was in school, the practice of coming up with the title for your story before starting the actual writing was drilled into me. I get why now. It forces you to start shaping an idea. Titles are important and can change the meaning of a film entirely. Take Raiders of the Lost Ark. Since it hit DVD, the film officially became known as “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”. You see how that’s not quite the same and not quite as good? Indy is one of the titular raiders of the ark, he just happens to want it for a good purpose. Having the film’s title be Indiana Jones and the…blah blah blah is not as concise. I know it’s to bring it in line with the rest of the series, but I see it as a Rambo situation. First one establishes a famous character (Raiders/First Blood), then it becomes about chronicling the adventures of that character (...and the Temple of Doom/ Rambo III). Plus, the film’s title card just says “Raiders of the Lost Ark” whereas the others have the “Indy” prefix.

I know all of this isn’t the worst thing ever and it doesn’t even come close to some of the completely dumb shit studios pull on a regular basis, but it is irritating. I can only see it being a needless complication to the marketing of a film that didn’t get its due, especially when it had the potential to enjoy the success that Dredd did when it came to DVD. I liked Edge of Tomorrow and want it to do well. Not only because I believe in quality being rewarded, but because Hollywood needs to pay attention to films like Edge of Tomorrow/Live, Die, Repeat/Whatever the Fuck and the only way they do that is if a film makes mad bank. If you can’t tell my position on it already, if you haven’t seen Edge of Tomorrow yet, you should get on that.

Photoshop ‘Til You Drop: The Decline of the Movie Poster

I’ve wanted to write a piece about film posters for a while. I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that these days they mostly fall under the “Photoshopped Nightmare” category. As I’m the sort of adult who hangs these things on my wall and then wonders why the girls aren’t calling, it’s really disappointing that they’re mostly fucking awful. I’m not going to do a post about the tropes etc. because people have done that shit way too many times over recent years, plus if you’ve set foot in a cinema’s auditorium recently, you’re already well aware of them.

When it comes to blaming someone, people bark up the wrong tree. As is often the case, studios are to blame, not the designers. Check out this informative post that describes some of the constraints put on these people. Fair enough, it’s their actual job to respond to a remit and graphic designers are usually insanely put-upon to try and re-create some uncreative arsehole’s vague vision, but it still seems like a lot to deal with. Plus, the system in place seems directly opposed to any kind of creativity and almost custom built to produce the same grey glurge time and time again.

Much like everything else in the filmmaking process, posters are often focus grouped to death, which is a huge reason why everything looks the fucking same. Here’s the dirty secret about focus groups- they’re not the be-all and end-all. There’s years of documented problems with using focus groups, but they’re still used heavily and their findings are taken as gospel. If you haven’t seen Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant “State of Cinema” speech, I suggest you get on that. In it, he mentions the flaws of the testing system and how it affects everything to do with a movie’s release, including the poster. The thing is, people nearly always want what they’ve seen before. There’s the uber famous Henry Ford quote that springs to mind when he talked about this new fangled motor car he’d produced: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” It’s exactly the same here.

So, the thing that made me think about this all again is that particular Black Widow poster at the top of all this. If you can’t see what’s wrong with it, you need to go outside and see what a real woman looks like (or simply look down if you happen to be a woman, obviously). The proportions are preposterous. At this point, you may be thinking “Sure, but this is just the standard Photoshop problem that plagues magazine covers and the like- nothing new here.” Well, how come both the Cap and Nick Fury posters released at the same time and done by the same people don’t look as freakish? Well, we all know the reason why, don’t we? Women are often portrayed as purely sexual objects and fetishised to a ridiculous degree.  That particular Black Widow poster is made to appeal to the mouth-breathing teenage boy demographic who have no idea what an actual woman looks like and have brought themselves up on twisted pornographic caricatures of women thanks to the plethora of porn sites, video games and comic books that they indulge in. The fact that they felt they needed to give Scarlett Johansson, an almost painfully beautiful woman to begin with, a smaller waist, pixel perfect hair and zipper-busting tits is insane and speaks of problems way bigger than the simple marketing of a movie.

So why am I getting bent out of shape? Surely it’s the film that matters? Well, yeah, but movie posters are a grand tradition. Sure, the release of a poster seems more like an obligation on the studios’ part, but it still exists. The Internet and TV ads are presumably much more effective marketing tools but the poster is still hanging on in there. Shit, you need something to slap up on billboards and bus stops. To me, they represent a lot. As part of my work on this site, I have to find a corresponding poster to head my reviews and they nearly always suck. I remember seeing exciting posters for future films as a kid and just being drawn to them like a gormless moth. My parents used to hate taking me to the cinema because when it came time to leave, I would always lag behind and gawp at the colourful posters on display. In some cases, the film’s art is intrinsically linked to what I picture when I think of the film itself. Marty looking shocked at his watch whilst stepping out of his DeLorean perfectly encapsulates Back to the Future in a single image.The massive shark head coming up out of the depths to munch on a swimmer is Jaws to me. There’s no poster that I can think of it recent years that has made me want to rush out, buy it, frame it and hang it on my wall.

Surely the popularity of the Mondo posters and the minimalist designs shared on places like Tumblr and DeviantArt indicate that there is a market for interesting art out there? One of my favourite recent pieces is the IMAX exclusive poster for Iron Man 3 that I got from a screening, seen below. Sure, I understand why it wasn’t used for general release because it doesn’t really tell you anything about the film or feature ticket-seller Robert Downey Jr’s face or name, but shit, it’s leagues ahead of the theatrical poster where it looks like Gwyneth Paltrow has a broken neck.

DVD/Blu-ray cover art is normally even worse. Sometimes they won’t even use their shitty theatrical art and knock together an even shittier image for the cover. As a film collector with a weird obsession with aesthetics, it really bugs me. It’s one of the main reasons I buy the increasingly popular steelbook editions of films as the cover art is usually far superior to, and way more interesting than, the normal release because it doesn’t have to cater to the sort of people who impulse buy because the cover looks like something they’ve seen before.

So what’s the solution? I have no real idea. I don’t work in the industry. However, I will ask a few questions. As film posters aren’t the most important or effective thing in a film’s promotional campaign, why can’t they be a bit more experimental? Surely now’s the time to do it as nearly every poster looks exactly the fucking same? It doesn’t make any sense to me. They’ve got fuck all to lose and a bunch of things to gain.