Podcast: Final Harry Potter named best film at Empire Awards

The final film in the British fantasy film franchise took the top prize at the Empire Film Awards 2012 in London last night.

Along with Best Film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scooped the award for Best Director, for David Yates. Accepting the award he commented, “It’s a real treat to get this from people who love movies,” referencing the fact that the awards are decided entirely by the public.

Harry Potter was not the only British film to emerge victorious, with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy winning the awards for Best British Film, Best Thriller, and Best Actor, which went to self-proclaimed ‘veteran’ actor Gary Oldman. Oldman, who received his first Oscar nomination this year after 32 years in the industry, commented that he was delighted to be receiving an award voted for by movie-goers, “This is a very special award, because it isn’t political. There’s no agenda, it’s just movie fans and I will cherish this.”

Best Actress went to Olivia Colman for her harrowing portrayal of a battered house-wife in Paddy Consedine’s Tyrannosaur. “Although it doesn’t seem it, it was the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had on set,” said Colman on accepting her award.

Another British film, The Inbetweeners, beat out raunchy comedy Bridesmaids to win the Best Comedy prize.

Listen to Katrina Conaglen and Kirsten Waller’s discussion of the awards in an Edinburgh Napier News podcast extra:

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BAFTA Scotland winners announced

By Georgi Bomb

Copyright: BAFTA.org

It was all about the suits and gowns last night as the BAFTA in Scotland New Talent Award ceremony took place at Glasgow Film Theatre.

Celebrating fresh young talent, awarding students, and highlighting the future of Scottish film, television and digital media.

The night belonged to Lou McLoughlan who received two awards for Best Director: Short Form and Best Student Work. His work, Caring For Calum was a moving portrait of a man looking after his father in the Scottish Highlands.

The horror genre was well recognised with Hanna Stanbridge winning Best Actor/Actress award for her role as Petronella in Outcast, an Edinburgh-based horror. Naysun Alae-Carew scooped Best Producer: Short Form for his zombie take on High School Musical, Zombie Musical.

Ewan Angus, Chairman of BAFTA in Scotland said: “In today’s current economic climate, it is especially important that we take the time to recognise the outstanding level of talent emerging from the Scottish moving image industries. Tonight demonstrates the enormous wealth of potential we have within Scotland, and we’re proud to be able to give the winners the recognition they rightly deserve.”

For the full list of winners, check out the website.

Seen but not heard

by Jane Bretin

Scotland is inaugurating its first silent film festival in Falkirk today. The Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema is set to last three days, from Friday to Sunday and will feature a number of all time

Credit miss mass

classics as well as less famous movies.

The festival includes the screening of a dozen films to suit all ages and tastes as well as an ongoing exhibition in the Bo’ness library. The exhibition retraces the evolution of cinema in the Falkirk area and highlights the importance of the 7th art to this day. [Read more…]

Soundtrack for the city

By Tony Garner

If someone stopped you in the street and asked you to hum a piece of classical music how likely is it that you’d turn to a film score for inspiration? From that slow-motion beach run in Chariots of Fire to Darth Vader’s Imperial Death March, music in the movies has long been a link between popular culture and the classics. Until now Scotland has had no great tradition in the genre, but Tony Garner has been finding out why that may be set to change.

Listen Here:

Waltz With Bashir.

WWB Poster intl.inddby Liam Wilson

What only can be described as a provocative and visually stunning picture, director Ari Folman has created a genre of innovative and often devastating scenes in the recently released, ‘Waltz With Bashir’.

Taking four years to complete, Waltz begins in 2006 with Ari meeting with a friend from the armed service period, who tells him of his recurring nightmare connected with his experiences from the 1982 Lebanon War. Folman is somewhat surprised that he cannot remember anything from this time. The conversation invokes a hallucinogenic flashback where Ari sees himself on the night of the massacre, a 19-year-old soldier emerging from the sea walking ashore underneath a flare-lit night sky. The reality of which, he is unable to explain.

The film follows Ari in his conversations with friends, a psychologist and the famous reporter Ron Ben-Yishai who was in Beirut at the same time, intrigued by his riddle, in a search of self-discovery, trying to piece together the complex puzzle scattered in his mind. What was he involved in, or not involved in.

He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images.

Folman’s new film belongs to a rare yet exceptional style of film known as the “animated documentary”. The first recognized example of this is Windsor McKay’s 1918 12-minute-long, ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’. which uses animation to describe and show the sinking of the Lusitania after it was struck by German U-Boat torpedoes in 1915.

To many, ‘Waltz With Bashir’ is how the recently released ‘Max Payne’ should have been shot, often delving into the surreal plains of film-noir, a style so relevant, it helps portray the confusion, flashback and uncertainty of the entire conflict so flawlessly. The animation style of the movie is a perfect tool to convey the tricks and survival mechanisms of the mind and memory, scening somewhat lurid, distorted and chemically enhanced colour schemes, adding to the already sombre tone of the conflict.

One such scene, described by a character in the film as place “tripped out on LSD”, is so vivid and tangible, one can almost smell the decay and feel the anguish and confusion felt by the soldiers. The sky lit up in deep yellow, pulsating with the trees amidst the ruin.

The film’s art director and illustrator, David Polonsky, has done a remarkable job. He lulls the viewer into a landscape where reality is wonky and woozy. From the interviews, the film frequently goes off into wonderful flights of fantasy and surrealism.

The film takes its title from a definitive scene from the movie in which one of the interviewees, the commander of Folman’s infantry unit at the time of the film’s events, grabs a heavy machine gun and “dances an insane waltz” amid heavy enemy fire, between walls hung with posters of Bashir Geyamel.

The 1982 massacres at Sabra and Shatila are a heavy imprint of horror and the destructive compulsions of the human nature, the horrors of war and the atrocities of which humans are capable. Waltz ends with a short segment of news archive footage of the grieving survivors, mothers and daughters mostly, shuffling through the streets, riddled with the bodies of loved ones.

What we are left with is a harrowing, vivid and unique portrait of war, leaving the audience in a daze of awe.

Hellmouth reopens

By Susannah Radford

It’s like fish without chips but Warner Bros. Pictures and Atlas Entertainment have done the unthinkable.  The announcement that Buffy the Vampire Slayer would be relaunched as a film without the involvement of creator Joss Whedon has been met with shock by fans throughout the world.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer first burst onto the silver screen in 1992.  Starring Kirsty Swanson and Luke Perry, the film bombed.  It was the TV series which began screening in 1997 and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz that achieved global success and spawned the spin off series Angel.  The series ran for 145 episodes and lasted until 2003.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Source: Scorpions and Centaurs

Joss Whedon creator of the film and the TV series talked with his usual wit and humour to Kristin Dos Santos of E Online about his response to the film release.  “This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself.”

I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death.  But, you know, AFTER.  I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I’m making a Batman movie.  Because there’s a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you. 

Kristy Swanson, the original Buffy tells EW she is open to involvement.  “Let Buffy live.  Why not? If they wanted me to be a part of it, I think that would be fantastic and that it would be a blast.”

Closer to home, British fans express their feelings toward the news.  Ewa Hibbert from Edinburgh says “Gerrr Aaaargh!  I need a hug” [a reference to the closing screen credits of the TV show].  “No, no, not without Joss’ blessing and preferably with him writing and directing it.  I think the original cast memebers are probably a bit too old to play their original roles, but it would be nice in a nostalgic way for some of them to be involved.  In priniciple I’m not against a remake of the Buffy movie as it could be done better than the first time around, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to do this without Joss, our greatest living screen writer.”

Hibbert heaps further praise upon Whedon saying “he brings together wit, charm, warmth, honesty, acute observation, emotional depth, dramatic tension, and more wit.  It’s not often that I laugh out loud, clap my hands in delight and sob my eyes out at a TV show.  His dialogue and character development is dazzling in Buffy, and possibly even better in Firefly.”

She refers to Whedon’s ill fated show Firefly which was cancelled by Fox after only 14 episodes.  The fanbase complained leading to a movie version of the series called Firefly being produced.  The Buffy fan base is similar in its veneration of the series, so if the film is a hit, it is guaranteed success.




Grotesque Torture Porn Banned by BBFC

by Elliot Adams

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has refused certification to Koji Shiraishi’s Gurotesuku, which was due to be released in the UK under the title of Grotesque. This puts the film in the company of an extremely select group to have earned the dubious honour of outright bans in the UK, being only one of three films to have been banned by the Board in the last four years, the others being Murder-Set-Pieces in 2008 and NF713 in 2009 – all three having been banned for their scenes of eroticised torture.

Courtesy of BBFC

Japanese cinema has a long history of depicting this type of sadomasochism, from Masumura Yasuzo’s story of abduction Blind Beast (1969) through to Takashi Miike’s psychodrama Audition (1999). But Grotesque is more likely to now be associated with the controversial genre of ‘torture porn’ which originated in Hostel and Saw. BBFC Director, David Cooke claims these ‘18’ rated ‘torture porn’ films are surpassed by Grotesque’s “unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism” where the chief pleasure on offer is the “spectacle of sadism.”

This latest act of censorship marks the point at which ‘torture porn’ becomes unacceptable to the BBFC. But the uncrossable line is far from distinct to the outside observer. For example, Lars von Trier’s Antichrist was recently released by the BBFC without cuts. It depicts a similar, although highly aestheticisized, scenario to Grotesque. Both films have similar scenes of mutilation and torture and similar victims, so what exactly is the difference between the two?

For David Cooke however, the difference is clear. Grotesque‘s scenes of torture are clearly eroticised, whereas Antichrist uses torture and scenes of real sex to illustrate psychological turmoil and so is “not a ‘sex work’ whose primary purpose is sexual arousal.  For these purposes Antichrist is very clearly not a ‘sex work’.”

Cooke’s remarks on Grotesque, which unlike American ‘torture porn’, emphasizes the sexual element implied by that label, will be seen by some as a valid rationale for its banning, and by others as a reason for viewing it.

It is hard to take this hype seriously in either case, especially when the film contains a particularly memorable scene in which a decapitated head bites the antagonist on the neck to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory. Whether the BBFC is protecting us from “moral harm” or indulging in nanny-statism will only become clear when the film emerges from the BBFC’s own darkened cellars and audiences are allowed to decide in the light of day.

3D cinema is here to stay

by Andrew Moir

3D Glasses

3D Glasses

Dreamworks animated movie Monsters Vs Aliens topped the UK box office this week taking just over £4million. The success of the film both in the UK and internationally may be down to the influence of new 3D technology.

For an extra charge, cinemagoers can immerse themselves in a fictional world with the aid of special glasses. In the 1950s 3D films were made by studios afraid of losing audiences to television. They wanted to provide spectacle only the big screen could provide. Films such as House of Wax(1953) and Dial M for Murder(1954) proved to be a great success. The appeal was fleeting and despite occasional comebacks two dimensions remained enough for film lovers. Dreamworks Studio head of animation Jeffrey Katzenberg told Empire magazine that 3D revolution is akin to the introduction of Technicolor.

“People thought it was a gimmick, a distraction, but five years later all movies were made in colour.” According to the mogul cinema is just the beginning and 3D will be a part of everyday life. “It’ll be on your cellphone, on your laptop and on your television set.”

While this future may be distant Hollywood continuing to embrace the potential with many upcoming projects. These include the next Pixar film, Up; Steven Spielberg is producing a Tin Tin trilogy and James Cameron’s Avatar will be his first film since Titanic.

While the idea is to make 3D the norm customers are being charged far above that. One major cinema chain charges £2.25 extra for 3D screenings. As the revolution gathers pace it is film lovers who pay the price.

Lesbian Vampire Killers

by Kirstyn Smith

The first thing to look out for is the number of lone, shifty-looking men in the auditorium. I don’t know what this anticipative audience expects from a film called Lesbian Vampire Killers, but I’ve a feeling they left feeling a bit disappointed.

Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones. To give the film the benefit of the doubt, I looked upon it from two different perspectives.

At worst – and if you are a girl – the derogation and disparagement was astounding. Although I’m sure this will be explained away as ‘post-modern’ chauvinism, I noticed my feminist side rearing its head on a number of occasions, as I felt vaguely insulted throughout.

At best, I can simply describe it as an unoriginal, laddish film. I imagine that even those solitary, hopeful men might grow weary of so many gratuitous close-ups of hot lesbians stroking each other.

A strange, stacatto way of shooting is employed, and while at first this is interesting and different, it is not consistent, so when it returns intermittently throughout the film, this does begin to grate – something else we don’t need to distract us from an already weak plot. Whether this technique – along with some woefully bad acting from the lesbians – is supposed to be a spoof remains unclear. I hope, for the sake of everyone involved, that I’m missing something.

Horne and Corden seem to have fallen foul of ‘Mitchell and Webb’ syndrome: while resplendent on TV, (Gavin and Stacey is a very good show) this does not translate to film. However, they are still relative newcomers, but I do feel that – for just now at least – they should stick to the small screen.

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