All posts by Graham Osborne

If he were in a film, he'd be the Villain/Lancer/False Hero. He's not, so the world is safe... For now.

Shin-Godzilla – Review!

In recent years, it’s been hard not to feel a pang of sorrow for the gigantic radioactive lizard that is Godzilla, especially in the western world, as both recent attempts at Hollywood creating a new franchise featuring the King of the Monsters have resulted in abject failure, and a distinctly disinterested shrug from the box office audience.

There are many reasons why this could be the case, but the most obvious reason is the confusion of the overall message of the Godzilla series; nukes are bad. Whilst Japan holds an evocative first-hand account of the damage that can be caused by such weaponry, the United States has somewhat glorified its nuclear deterrent, and is one of the more vociferous countries to demand they be kept as a just-in-case scenario instead of disarming them. As such, both Godzilla films released by Hollywood in 1998 and 2014 respectively refused to focus on that aspect, instead choosing to look at how awesome America is in destroying giant lizards. Fortunately, Toho (the original production company behind the 1954 Godzilla movie) is still making the films in Japan, and their latest, Shin Godzilla, has recently come out in the UK, and it is maintaining its message of nuclear disarmament that has been so prevalent from the beginning.

The premise of Shin Godzilla is fairly simple, Godzilla has once again risen from his home on the bottom of the ocean and is terrorising Tokyo for the umpteenth time, and it is up to a group of scientists and politicians to neutralise the creature before the USA can drop a nuclear warhead on the beast. The plot of the film chooses to focus more on the political and scientific side of things as opposed to the military (although they get their fair share of screen time too.) It changes what could have easily been billed as an action film into something more akin to a tense political thriller with emphasis on more level-headed, and logical characters searching for a peaceful solution instead of the gung-ho military types that are often the protagonists of when it comes to this style of story.

No matter how enjoyable it is to watch the human protagonists attempt to stop him, it is the spectacle of Godzilla himself that draws you into this world, along with the special effects that accompany his trail of destruction. The film uses a combination of CGI, models and Dynamation (the stop-motion animation technique designed by Ray Harryhausen.) The mixture enables the filmmakers to create a visual style where the strongest points of each effect to help negate the weaker aspects of the others. The overall impression is a sight to behold.

It is the ease with which one can recognise Godzilla which highlights the major problem of the film, especially if you are watching it using English subtitles over the original Japanese audio. In an effort to help inform the audience with who each character is as they are introduced, the film provides subtitles with their name, unfortunately, this is often combined with the character in question performing a dialogue, making it necessary to either pause the film to take in all the information, or risk missing out on a key part of exposition whilst trying to read another portion of the screen. It’s a minor gripe, but when you can’t work out if the person talking is the President of Japan or one of his aides, it can lead to some minor confusion.

Shin Godzilla is a worthwhile addition to the Godzilla Franchise and a nice introduction to the back-catalogue of films. The final scene may feel a little cheesy and heavy-handed with its overall metaphor, but there is a lot of truth also embedded within it, especially some earlier shots that are reminiscent of the 2011 tsunami that damaged the Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Plant. If nothing else, this film is definitely a better watch than the versions with Matthew Broderick and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Shin Godzilla is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!

Brakes – Review

There are three different types of films in this world; those you enjoy, those you despise and those you just can’t place into either category.

For the most part, everyone has their own preferences with a few exceptions which are arbitrarily attached to one group (Citizen Kane in the good, the entirety of the DCU save Wonder Woman in the bad, and The Room and Manos: The Hands of Fate somehow managing to inexplicably fall into the middle category.)

Image from film shown without comment on the good/bad dichotomy above.

Brakes, the debut film from British actor Mercedes Grower, falls firmly into the middle category too, as it struggles gamely to create a unique and quirky, multi-narrative story with a non-linear plot. It sounds convoluted, but it’s quite easy to follow along with the story when you’re watching.

The film revolves around the relationships of a wide variety of characters in London, first focussing on their endings before making a u-turn and showing the beginnings. The style itself is slightly reminiscent of Memento, albeit without any amnesia and a lot more characters. The large amount number of narratives throughout the film’s run-time keeps everything moving swiftly, yet still managing to introduce you to the characters and understand their motivations and feelings.

Many of the scenes are improvised, meaning there is a lot of pressure on the actors to perform. Some do so admirably, whilst others seem to struggle, merely repeating lines over and over again as if to simulate an argument. It’s not a big deal, and all the actors are skilled enough to allow you to gloss over these moments, but it can get a little tedious whilst you’re watching.

The main problem drawing Brakes back from being a fantastic first foray into directing for Grower is due to the relatively poor quality of the actual production. It was filmed using a handheld camera, which makes the entire affair feel as if it was shot on a boat on rough seas; likewise the first vignette sees regular continuity errors on one of the props used in the scene. Despite all this, the ropey production values do little to hurt the overall appeal of the piece, and one must assume that, were Grower’s budget bigger or she weren’t filming in such a guerrilla style, the overall quality would be vastly improved.

Possibly the strongest element of the film is the soundtrack. Using a variety of tracks, each one perfectly encapsulates the mood that is being shown on screen. The songs also ease the transition between scenes, helping to smooth the story and emotions as they leap between the cast.

Ultimately, Brakes is an incredibly ambitious project that promises a lot before falling at the last hurdle. There is plenty to love in here, from the fantastic performances, to the stories that are short, sweet and full of emotional depth. The camerawork might make you feel a little queasy if you suffer from sea-sickness, but that should not be used as an excuse to avoid watching this poignant film.

You may not end up loving it, but it will carve out a little place in your heart that will keep you thinking about the film long after the credits have rolled.

Brakes is out 24th November 

The Weekend Binge – Preacher

Let’s be honest, the superhero genre is beginning to get a bit stale. Sure, we get the occasional mould breaker such as Thor: Ragnarok, but ultimately, there’s very little deviation from the formula of bombastic action sequences and world-ending schemes.

That being said, there are plenty of other comic books out there which are begging to be adapted onto the screen, big or small. One of these which managed to make the leap is Preacher; a tale of a small town priest in Annville, Texas whose congregation is dwindling until he is granted the gift of “the Voice of God,” a power which allows him to make people do whatever he orders them to.

Such a premise on its own could be intriguing enough, however the story goes several steps further by including his ex-girlfriend (a killer for hire) called Tulip O’Hare and an Irish vampire by the name of Cassidy. Together, this questionable holy trio create a darkly comical road trip in an attempt to find God.

The story mostly makes the transition from page to screen incredibly well, with only a few modifications to introduce the characters more readily. In an intriguing twist of casting for a show based in America, all three of the protagonists are British actors, albeit ones putting on some fantastic American accents. Dominic Cooper plays the titular Preacher-man (Jesse Custer) andRuth Negga and Joseph Gilgun as Tulip and Cassidy respectively.

The first season of the show acted as a prequel of sorts to the main story that started in the comics. It took the time to introduce the colourful cast of characters, including the physically grotesque Arseface played by Ian Colletti, and the angels DeBlanc and Fiore who have been sent to reclaim Custer’s power. Every single character feels incredibly real as a human (or spiritual being for the latter two) with plenty of backstory to delve into, which gives a reason to care about them, even if it’s only on the lowest of levels.

As mentioned earlier, the entire show is rooted firmly in some very twisted,pitch-black humour. Gilgun’s Cassidy is the main cause of this. From his very first scene, you know that this is a show which will pull no punches whatsoever, especially as he exsanguinates the pilot of a private jet before leaping out mid-air without a parachute. Despite his stunning turn as the ancient Irish vampire, those familiar with the original graphic novels may be a little disappointed at Gilgun’srelatively youthful looks. It is a minor complaint to an otherwise fantastic character, but I personally always envisaged Michael Smiley as the best choice for the role.

There is very little in the way of wasted potential throughout the first series, with the second seemingly improving on all that was awesome… Well, until the middle of the show, where things began to drag a tiny bit. Fortunately, that was when the writers introduced Pip Torrens as the wonderfully enigmatic, shameless and ruthless Herr Starr, asthe new antagonist. His villainy creates the driving force for the rest of season two and raises the entire affair to brand new heights.

There is so much to enjoy with Preacher, but to describe some of the more wonderful scenes would require spoiling large parts of the plot, something that would be tantamount to blasphemy with a show that should be raised to the pantheon of incredible storytelling and action.

Suffice to say, watch the show. It’s on Amazon Prime right now, and Season Two is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday!

Jesse Custer commands you to!

Preacher Season Two is out on Blu-Ray and DVD Monday November 13th!

Rakuten TV’s Horror Fest!

Now that Halloween is over, we can all settle down once again and start to brace ourselves for Christmas. Well, we could if Rakuten TV weren’t still offering a veritable feast of fantastic horror, both new and old!

The channel is offering you the opportunity to watch such films as 28 Days Later, Rosemary’s Baby, Drag Me to Hell, The Blair Witch Project, American Psycho and The Void. There are so many wonderful offerings you’re spoiled for choice

Why not extend the Horror-day celebrations that little bit further? After all, it’s not like there are any other major celebrations to look forward to.

78/52 – Brand New Trailer!

One of the most iconic cinematic moments ever talked about is the Shower Scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

That single scene took up a quarter of the film’s shooting schedule and was set-up 78 times with the total number of cuts within the finished scene coming to a grand total of 52. It’s these two numbers which were chosen to be used as the title of documentary distributor Dogwoof’s latest masterpiece.

78/52 takes an in-depth look at Psycho’s Shower Scene and how it changed cinematic history forever. The scene is discussed by a number of famous filmmakers and editors including Guillermo Del Toro and Walter Murch and promises that you will never look at the scene in the same light again.

It’s enough to bring a tear to one’s eye.

78/52 is out in cinemas November 3rd!

DirectedByWomen: Class of 2017 – Genesis Cinema

There is a saying; Behind every good man is a great woman.

Sometimes, however, the great woman decides it’s time to step out from the shadow of men and remind us all that men aren’t the only ones who can do things.

It is from this that Genesis Cinema is hosting DirectedByWomen 2017 on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th of November!

Over this two day extravaganza, you will be subjected to some of the greatest films from the past year that were directed by women including such wondrous stories as:

Wonder Woman, Detroit, Certain Women, Raw, Maudie, Their Finest, Lovesong and The Beguiled.

The festival starts from 12:30 on the Saturday with Wonder Woman being introduced by the wonderful, amazing and definitely not holding a gun to my head as I type this Sarah Cook, Editor of  We Make Movies on Weekends and director of The Rogue Table and Toby.

This event is sure to entice plenty of film aficionados, so make sure you book your tickets now!

DirectedByWomen 2017 starts on Saturday November 11th!