Wednesday, 14 March 2012

[542] A Man's Story (2012) Review

Only I could take a flick about a fashion designer, and turn around a review that mainly discusses documentary ethics. This film reviewing lark is fun, isn't it?

While we don’t like to play to stereotype here at Den Of Geek, it’s easy to say that high fashion isn’t our strong suit. So when a documentary comes along that offers an intimate look into the life of designer Ozwald Boateng, our response is almost sickeningly predictable: “Who is Ozwald Boateng?”

You may not have heard of the man, but you certainly know the men he clothes. Boateng’s suits have been worn - and championed - by the likes of Will Smith, Laurence Fishburne and Jamie Foxx, and his designs have appeared in films ranging from The Matrix to Die Another Day.

However, with a title like A Man’s Story, the assumption would be that director Varon Bonicos’ thesis is that Boateng, despite his sharp suits and international renown, is a normal chap, with everyday problems and doubts. By going down this indefinite route - seriously, you can’t get a more non-specific title - the film effectively skips over the qualities that make this man so special.

Read the full article here.

Monday, 12 March 2012

[541] Impressive

Ah, Wikipedia. An endless source of time-sapping knowledge and trivia. It should come as no surprise that I spend a significant amount of my idle moments meandering my way through their millions of topics. This is wildly educational and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll hit upon something unutterably bonkers. Something that has either slipped through the rigorous editorial net of the Wikikeepers, or something so barmy it’s true. Here’s one of my favourite recent finds.

I love the tube. In a psycho-geographic, body-poetic way, it’s the guts of London - but it’s also just a fascinating transport system to read about. It’s old and evocative and full of history, and each tube station or underground line has its own quirky secrets to discover. Piccadilly Circus isn’t my favourite station, but its circular station concourse (and lack of a surface-level ticket hall) makes it unique.

It also appears, oddly, in the incredibly weird music video for ‘Press’, by Paul McCartney. A textbook slice of directionless pop from the ex-Beatle, ‘Press’ wasn’t a hit at the time, and its plodding production does it no favours to modern ears. The music video, however, is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. I’ll let the (remarkably off-Style Guide) Wiki entry describe it:

McCartney is seen walking boldly, proudly and with supreme confidence around the station, elegantly catching a tube train and speaking with excited members of the general public on their own level.

Yes. And if you turn off the music, it looks like he’s muttering to himself while harassing his fellow travelers.

I like to think that Linda’s holding the camera, and that this is just what passed for a weekend lark for the Maccas back when Paul's mullet was in full effect. Of course, there are flashes of Bond Street and Charing Cross, among others, in there - but on the Wikipedia page for Piccadilly Circus, it says the following:

...the station is a popular pilgrimage site for McCartney fans keen to reenact the video, that is now regarded as one of music video's defining moments, known amongst fans as 'McPressing'. In 2006 a total of 76 Brazilian fans 'McPressed' at the same time, breaking the previous record by 11 people set by Oxford Brookes University students in 1991.

As much as I’d love this to be true, I can’t seem to find any reference to ‘McPressing’, or the Oxford Brookes and Brazilian flashmobs anywhere online.

That means one thing. This is our chance to make a mark. Let’s get McPressing, people. Who’s in?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

[540] Joss Whedon On The Avengers

In case you somehow missed my horrendous name-dropping and smugness on Twitter, here's the highlight of my February: I interviewed Joss Whedon. Somewhere deep inside my cynical, cold self is a glimmer of the 14 year old Buffy obsessive, and he was given a rare moment of fan-squee. It was an experience.

We primarily chatted about Cabin In The Woods, the horror-flick-with-a-twist that Whedon produced and co-wrote, which recently received its festival premiere and will make its way over here in April, but I also made sure to ask about The Avengers, his big shot at summer blockbuster glory.

The embargo for Cabin In The Woods reviews was lifted on Saturday. It's a terrific film - have a read of Sarah Dobbs' review over at Den of Geek if you want more spoiler-free info. Alongside the review, though was a short excerpt of my interview with Whedon. It reads a little like this:

When we asked him about his relationship with Marvel on the movie, he told us that "they really did let me make my own film".

He continued: "They said, ‘here are the things we need; here is the villain, we want this to happen; we need the conflict here; here’s the third act, it will involve the following’. Which I’m fine with. That’s great, give me the parameters, because then I know where I’m going, and it does some of the legwork for me. And I know what their agenda is in terms of style, and what we’re delivering, in terms of thrills and the adherence to the Marvel universe, with which I’m very familiar."

He continued: "But it was like comics, because they didn’t interfere. I told them ‘this is the kind of movie I want to make’, and they said ‘all right, make that movie’. And that is what happened. And they were as unmeddlesome as any studio I’ve ever worked with, even though they had the very strict touchstones that had to happen. So it was a weirdly free experience."

The full interview will be up soon. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

[539] Looking Back At Legend

It's March! Spring is here! And things are going to get a whole lot more productive from now on, I promise.

To start, here's a bloody big essay I wrote about Legend for Den of Geek. As with most of my previous 'Looking Back' pieces, I ask some pretty large questions, and push at the edges of my own critical sanity.

Hindsight is a strange gift. Geek history dictates that the 1980s were a heyday for the fantasy genre; however, few of the decade’s sword ‘n sorcery flicks were outright hits, and many barely made a comfortable profit. Indeed, nostalgia may enshrine the likes of Dark Crystal, Clash Of The Titans and Willow, but even the most successful only just cracked the domestic top 20 for their respective years.

Of the bunch, Ridley Scott’s Legend remains a particularly tricky case. On its theatrical release, it wasn’t just a box office failure, it was that terrible thing: a box office failure that, even after much pre-release tinkering by the studio, still bombed. Various cuts, endings, even soundtracks exist, but nothing that Universal changed attracted the desired audience. In 1985, Legend was pronounced dead on arrival, and Time critic Richard Corliss used the opportunity to open his review with a damning epitaph for the fantasy genre:

“A long time ago, in a conference room far, far away... it was ordained that sword-and-sorcery movies would be the Next Big Thing. Just imagine crossing the fantasy worlds of JRR Tolkien and George Lucas! Mythic reverberations! Megabucks! Didn't work.”

Nevertheless, Legend lived on. It endures as a pop culture footnote, where, depending on how you look at it, it could be either The Film Ridley Scott Made After Blade Runner, or The Film Tom Cruise Starred In Between Risky Business and Top Gun. However, there is something strangely alluring about its confluence of chaos and creativity, and, with its recent Blu-ray release, there’s no better time to reassess with fresh, 21st Century eyes.

Read the full article here.