Sunday, 17 November 2013

"Bust Rape Culture Now!" Protest

This is dedicated to all the countries in the world who are suffering from the unspeakable and unbearable act of sexual violence, and who uphold gender equality and women's rights.






































Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Film Review: "The Butler" (2013).




"I'm Cecil Gaines. I'm the new butler.” Which is what this unlikely movie called The Butler brings to the screen. This American historical fiction drama film directed by Lee Daniels, written by Danny Strong. The film tells the life of Cecil Gaines, an African-American who eye witnessed notable events of the 20th century including the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, and other major events that affected this man's life, family, and American society. And served eight presidents during his 34-year tenure serving as a White House butler.

The film is loosely inspired by the real-life figure, Eugene Allen (July 14, 1919 – March 31, 2010) who worked for the White House for 34 years until he retired as the head butler in 1986. Allen was born in Scottsville, Virginia, and died at the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Montgomery County, Maryland; his death was caused by renal failure. He started in the White House in 1952 as a "pantry man" and over the years rose in his position until finally attaining the most prestigious rank of butlers serving in the White House, Maître d'hôtel. Allen had been married to his wife, Helene, for 65 years. Helene died on Nov 3, 2008. The couple had one son, Charles Allen.

The film features an ensemble cast; Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, loosely based on the real-life figure, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Clarence Williams III, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lenny Kravitz. Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, the 35th President, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, the 37th President, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, and Jane Fonda as First Lady Nancy Reagan. The cast in this film all gave their best performances in their careers. Whitaker gave his best performance of his career since his Oscar-winning role of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006). His reflective, powerfully understated performance fills this flawed film with potency and purpose. Winfrey gave her best performance since her role in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985). Redgrave gave her finest performance playing Gaines' cotton farm owner who is genuinely the first character in the film who shows Gaines kindness, unlike Pettyfer's character who showed nothing but hatred and violence. Williams gave a fine performance since Ridley Scott's American Gangster (2007). Gooding, Jr. gave his finest performance since Jerry Maguire (1996). Williams gave his best dramatic role since Christopher Nolan's Insomnia (2002), and One Hour Photo (2002). Lastly, Marsden gave the best performance of his career and was convincing as the 35th president of the United States.

Daniels and company have performed a powerful service with The Butler: they have brought Eugene Allen’s life and story to the big screen, both as man and legend. An ambitious, tough, seriously considered biographical film that, with honor, eludes easy characterization. The perfect combination of epic and personal, intimate and spectacular.

Simon says The Butler receives:


Friday, 8 November 2013

Film Review: "The Counselor" (2013).




Lines such as "I suspect that we are ill-formed for the path we have chosen. Ill-formed and ill-prepared. We would like to draw a veil over all the blood and terror that have brought us to this place. It is our faintness of heart that would close our eyes to all of that, but in so doing it makes of it our destiny... But nothing is crueler than a coward, and the slaughter to come is probably beyond our imagining.” Describe perfectly the new Ridley Scott/Cormac McCarthy film, The Counselor. This American thriller film directed by Ridley Scott, from the first original film screenplay by Cormac McCarthy. The plot revolves around a lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

On January 18, 2012, it was reported that novelist Cormac McCarthy had sold his first spec script, The Counselor, to Nick Wechsler, Paula Mae Schwartz, and Steve Schwartz, who had previously produced the film adaptation of McCarthy's novel The Road. On January 31, it was reported that The Counselor would be Ridley Scott’s next film after Prometheus (2012). On February 9, it was confirmed that Scott would direct. Principal photography began on July 27, 2012 in London. As well as in Spain and the United States. However, on August 20, 2012, Scott halted production due to his brother Tony Scott's death. He canceled that week's shoot in order to travel to Los Angeles to be with his brother's family. Scott returned to London to resume production on September 3.

The film stars Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt. Fassbender gave a brilliantly emotional performance as the title character. He epitomizes the film's thematic idea of greed and its eventual slow downward spiral. Cruz gave a fantastic performance as the counselor's fiancé, Laura. Even though I felt Cruz gave a fantastic performance, I felt that an actual American actress such as Natalie Portman (who was originally cast but dropped out) would have been more suitable. Since the character of Laura is American. I also felt that her chemistry with Fassbender was not strong and believable. Diaz gave a terrific and cold performance as Malkina, a malicious woman who lacks moral empathy. However, like Cruz's casting, I felt that the casting of Diaz was not right as well. I would have gone with someone who was actually either from Barbados (which was where she came from in the film) or Buenos Aires, Argentina (which was suggested in the original screenplay). Bardem gave a brilliant performance as Reiner, a charismatic entrepreneur by day and an underground drug kingpin by night. Lastly, Pitt gave an incredible performance as Westray, a womanizing, charismatic middleman and a friend of Reiner's who meets with the Counselor to develop the deal.

Its plot is sometimes hard to swallow, but some fine acting and director Ridley Scott's stylish visual flair makes The Counselor an engaging crime thriller. However, there's nothing in this film that we haven't seen in many other movies.

Simon says The Counselor receives:


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Film Review: "Thor: The Dark World" (2013).




"Some believe that before the universe, there was nothing. They're wrong. There was darkness... and it has survived.” This true in this Summer’s Thor: The Dark World. This superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios. It is the sequel to 2011's Thor and it is the eighth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by Alan Taylor. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Development of Thor: The Dark World began in April 2011, when producer Kevin Feige announced plans for a sequel to follow the crossover film Marvel's The Avengers (2012). In July 2011, Kenneth Branagh, the director of Thor, withdrew from the project. Brian Kirk and Patty Jenkins were considered to direct the film before Taylor was hired in January 2012. The supporting cast filled out in August 2012, with the hiring of Eccleston, Dennings and Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Principal photography began in September 2012 in Surrey, England with filming continuing in Iceland and London, before wrapping up in December 2012.

The film features Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins reprising their roles from the first, with newcomers Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Zachary Levi and Clive Russell joining the cast. Hemsworth gives another magnificent performance as the title character, with the additional character development and expansion that differs from his first performance from the first film. Portman gave another great performance as the brilliant scientist and love interest of Thor. Hiddlestton gave another fantastically devilish performance as the deliciously evil adopted brother of Thor. Skarsgård, this time round, gave a comical performance unlike his previous performances in the first film and The Avengers. Elba gave a more extended performance than his first performance. Personifying the voice-of-reason or counsel for Thor in his dark times. Stevenson, Asano, Alexander, Russo and Russell all gave strong performances for their roles. Hopkins gave another bold performance as the king of Asgard and father of Thor. Though I felt his role was somewhat decreased from the first film. Lastly, Eccleston gave a cold and brooding performance as Malekith: The ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim.

It isn't quite the breath of fresh air that Thor was, but Thor: The Dark World comes close with solid performances and an action-packed plot. The film isn't as much fun as its predecessor, but by the time the smoke clears, it'll do. It doesn't come close to the emotional heft of that rare 2 that outclassed its one: Spider-Man 2 (2004). But the film hums along quite nicely. To conclude, It is a polished, high-octane sequel, not as good as the original but building once again on the iconic performance by Chris Hemsworth.

Simon says Thor: The Dark World receives:


Friday, 1 November 2013

Special Halloween Post: "Pacific Rim" FanFiction - "The Tale of the King Kaiju."

For this special Halloween post, I am presenting my Fan Fiction. This is a Fan Fiction piece that I wrote for my iWrite class at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand. My Fan Fiction is a psyedo-prequel and sequel to Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" (2013). This Fan Fiction begins as a prequel telling the story of young Mako Mori and before her eventual tragedy as told in the film. I hope you enjoy and Happy Halloween!


EXT. JAPANESE HOUSE - NIGHT

SUPERIMPOSE: TOKYO, JAPAN. CHRISTMAS EVE - IN THE NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE.

THUNDER AND LIGHTING, RAIN AND SNOW CLASH IN THE DARK, DREARY NIGHT.

THE CAMERA SLOWLY TRACKS UP TOWARDS A CHILD'S ROOM - A JAPANESE VERSION OF "JINGLE BELLS" IS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND - SHE IS PLAYING WITH A TOTORO STUFFED TOY. HER FATHER ENTERS THE ROOM AFTER HEARING HIS DAUGHTER TALK TO THE TOY. THE GIRL'S NAME IS MAKO MORI. THIS IS THE STORY OF HER CHILDHOOD BEFORE IT WAS ALL LOST.


Mako's father (in Japanese):

Mako, will you please stop playing with that silly toy? Go to sleep.


THE GIRL DISAGREES WITH HER FATHER THAT TOTORO IS NOTHING BUT A STUFFED TOY.


Mako (in Japanese):

Don't call him a toy!


THE FATHER RESPONDS WITH A BIT OF SHOCK. NOT BEING ABLE TO UNDERSTAND HIS DAUGHTER'S DISOBEDIENCE AND HER CHILD-LIKE COMMITMENT TO A TOY.

Mako's Father:

I beg your pardon?


Mako:

He is not a toy. Totoro is real.


Mako's Father:

Really? Well, Mr. To-to-ru has to say good night.


THE FATHER TAKES THE TOY AND PLACES IT ON THE CHAIR IN FRONT OF HER BED.

Mako's Father (Cont.):

Remember you have to be asleep when he comes down the chimney.


Mako:

It's not even possible to fit down a chimney, father.


Mako's Father:

Oh, he has his ways.


Mako:

Then I will wait up. I want to watch him do it!


Mako's Father:

Nonsense.


Mako:

Okay, I want a story then.


Mako's Father:

No stories tonight.


Mako:

Just one. And then I'll go to bed right away. I promise.


SO HER FATHER TELLS A STORY ABOUT THE ORIGIN AND LEGEND OF THE KING KAIJU.




Mako's Father:

A special story for a special night for a special young girl. This is an old story. Perhaps one of the first stories ever told. It is said that at the dawn of time, man and beast lived together on the very same planet. But man had been created with a hole in his heart. A hole that no possession of power or knowledge could fill. In his infinite greed, man dreamt of expanding his dominion over the entire Earth.


THE CAMERA ZOOMS TO THE COLD, DARK, BLACK, DEARY NIGHT. OUTSIDE THE CHILD'S BEDROOM WINDOW AND FADES INTO A WORLD WHERE THE STORY IS ILLUSTRATED BY JAPANESE ANIMATION (OR 'ANIME'). IT IS SO VISUALLY CREATIVE THAT THE AUDIENCE IS LED TO BELIEVE THAT THE STORY AND THE REST OF THE MOVIE ITSELF IS EXCITING AND NEW...


Mako's Father (Cont.):

So it came to pass that a bitter war began. The blood of many beasts and monsters was spilt in that war with man. King Baron, the king and guardian of all creatures watched the slaughter with dread and despair. But one day, a dark shadow descended upon the King. "Who dares enter this chamber uninvited? Speak!" said the King. "My lord" said a sorcerer. People thought of him as a holy man but he was dangerous. Consumed by his hatred for King Baron and his reign, he sold his soul to destroy the throne forever. So he had offered to summon the King Kaiju. 10 times the size of an ordinary kaiju and that could not be stopped. His royal advisors begged him to agree. "You must. Our victory will be assured,” said his advisors. The King agreed and followed the advice. Not another life will be lost. "Summon me this King Kaiju,” the king said. So a magical spell was cast that would allow a portal to open and summon the King Kaiju. “Go! Go and fulfill your dark deeds against the King and his throne once and for all!” said the sorcerer. "I am King Baron, the master of the King Kaiju. Is there anyone who disputes my right to unleash this creature to defeat our enemy - man?" In his throne room no one challenged him nor uttered a word.


Mako:

But wait, what if someone challenges him? Would they have a fight?


Mako's Father:

Most likely, a challenge must be answered. But do you want to hear the end of the story or not?

Mako:

Yes, please.


Mako's Father (Cont.):

The world changed, and the next time the humans marched, they felt the earth tremble beneath their feet and saw the sky darken with a monstrous shape. The King Kaiju knew no bounds, had no remorse and felt no pity. Felt no loyalty or pain. It extinguished all life, not knowing the difference between man, woman, child and creatures. The victory was won and so a royal feast and party would be held. But King Baron's heart grew heavy with regret for his victory was gained at too high a price. So he decided to end this madness once and for all. He invited the sorcerer over to a dinner held in his honor. Not knowing that his dinner was poisoned and that the dinner guests consisted of the land's most ruthless killers, bounty hunters and assassins. He was poisoned, clubbed, stabbed, beaten, castrated and finally drowned in a river. Before he died, he uttered his last words: “You dare kill me? By the dark powers vested in me, I curse YOU. Mark my words; you and your reign will be dead within a fortnight. I will not rest until I see the end of the King and his throne forever!" His body was burned and the King Kaiju was now left powerless and master less. The creature was sent back to the portal from once it came. But from that moment on, the spark of the unhappiness among the land turned into a flame that would soon destroy the King and his throne forever. Thus King Baron was executed by his own people. Shortly after his death, a truce was called, man would keep to the cities and magical beings would own the forests and seas. This truce would be honored by their sons and the sons of their sons until the end of time. So the King Kaiju lay dormant, locked inside the portal. Waiting and there it is to this day, awaiting the day for the portal to open again and for a new master. Silent... still... and indestructible.




Mako: 

What does it mean ''indestructible''?


Mako's Father:

Indestructible... Means no one can destroy it. Now, time to say good night and go to sleep.


Mako:

Wow! Not even by you, father? 


Mako's Father:

Not even by me.

HE TUCKS HIS DAUGHTER INTO BED AND STARTS TO SING HER A LULLABY VERSION OF "ALWAYS WITH ME." SHE SLOWLY STARTS TO GET SLEEPY AND THUS CLOSES HER EYES.

Mako:

It is just a story, right father?


Mako's Father:

Is it now?


Mako:

It can't be real.


Mako's Father:

Well, my little girl. I am sure, that someday, you'll find out.


SHE ROLLS ONTO HER RIGHT AND SHE STARES AT THE WINDOW AND WHAT IS OUTSIDE AND WONDERS OF WHAT IS TO COME. CUT TO BLACK. A SHORT PAUSE. ROARING AND DESTRUCTIVE SOUNDS HEARD.


THE END?