Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Challenge of the Wolf

The Wolf of Wall Street isn't about Jordan Belfort. It's about you.

I can’t stop thinking about The Wolf of Wall Street. It baffles me. I am befuddled by it. How can a film about such abhorrent, loathsome, misogynistic, corrupt, slimy scum be occupying my consciousness so much? How did it manage to inspire such repulsion and such base attraction simultaneously? How is it that, despite its many, many flaws, it has proven to be so affecting?

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Bore of Venice: Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Bore of Venice: Philip Seymour Hoffman: “He was very much an actor’s actor.” Well, there’s no denying this oft-said platitude from the last few hours, but Philip Seymour Hoffman w...

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Finally, a 3D film to get excited about

There are two things you should know about Gravity, the new film from Alfonso CuarĂ³n (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien) starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The first is that you should go and see it. To put it simply, it’s really good: a 90 minute cascade of adrenaline – a thriller made with tremendous care and attention to detail that is undoubtedly one of the best films you’re likely to see all year.

The second thing to know is that you should see it in 3D, and preferably in IMAX. I have written previously about my opposition to how stereoscopy has been used in recent years, but I genuinely think that Gravity is an absolute first: a film intended for mass release that has been meticulously designed for 3D by a director who really knows how to use it. Even Mark Kermode, the Commander-in-Chief of the anti-3D army, has been forced to admit that “Gravity is worth seeing in 3D”.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Concerning HFR

What is the deal with 48 fps?

As a child, did you ever have a storytime when you listened to lots of essential but frankly quite dull background detail, and then just as things seemed to have got going and your imagination had lost itself in the world of the story, your mother told you it was bedtime. That rather represents my feelings about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I have now seen it three times, and with each viewing the fatigue at the exposition and delay of getting into the plot has increased, but so has the genuine sense that the whole trilogy kicks into life in the second half of this first film, and I cannot wait for part two.

Part two contains many exciting mysteries, but we have already had the big technological reveal of High Frame Rate (HFR). The decision to shoot these films at 48 frames per second was taken in order to improve the 3D experience. I first saw this film in IMAX which (bar a few exceptions) is projected at 24 frames per second (fps), and the usual 3D problems were there. There is often a blurring that takes place in 3D which is immensely distracting. Furthermore, the process of 3D removes a third of the colour.

What 48 fps does is give the eye more detail to take in, and this serves to cut out the blurring, and the nature of projecting the increased number of frames improves (though does not eliminate) the colour loss. Both of these were evident improvements in the HFR projection of The Hobbit.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

No masterpiece, but there is much to enjoy in this return to Middle Earth

It is the case that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is to my generation what the original Star Wars trilogy was to the children of the 70s and 80s. Every Christmas for three years, those films were amazing and formative experiences, showing our young eyes what cinema was capable of. They have swiftly become almost untouchable. I have never fully trusted anyone who has said that they don’t really get The Lord of the Rings. They seem like tricksy Hobbitses.

The LOTR/Star Wars analogy is most apt, because both generations craved more and both generations have had their moment of truth. With the Star Wars generation, it was a case of be careful what you wish for, and the fear amongst Tolkien fans, who learnt from this travesty, is palpable. After all, a slim volume has been transformed into not one, not two, but three films, and we are terrified that we are not about to be transported back to Middle Earth but rather to an accountant’s spreadsheet.

Of course, in such situations, the fanboy is his own worst enemy. He lets his expectations rocket high into the stratosphere, preventing himself from having the relaxed open-mind which let him fall in love with the material in the first place. Given that, the usual reaction to such big releases is torn between cries of “It’s a masterpiece!” and “It’s an abomination!”

In the case of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it is neither of the two. It is a fine addition to the cinematic Tolkien saga, but it has its problems. These problems are not insuperable, and when the initial furore has died down, it will be evident that Jackson should have our faith that he can really hit top gear with instalments two and three.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Reel 6 and The Huffington Post

I am very excited to announce that I am now blogging for The Huffington Post UK. The first article, on The Amazing Spider-Man, The Bourne Legacy and others, "Giving it the Reboot" is up and available to read here.

The Reel 6 blog will continue to work away here with reviews, looks at trailers and other posts.