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After four years of on and off writing this blog, I have decided to move it over to www.purplecamera.co.uk.

All of the posts I have written previously will remain here as well as being posted on the Purple Camera site but for those who are interested in seeing me complete my 365 Challenge or want to read any other posts I write in the future, they will posted there.

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Purple Camera Media is a film production company which was formed at University by myself and a few like minded individuals. Since graduating we have made several short films and are currently editing another, whilst there are also plans to create two feature films.

We recently discovered that each of the members of Purple Camera was writing a separate blog and therefore it makes sense to combine them all in one place where people can also access our videos and other content. I hope that you come check it out for some exciting content that not only I, but the other talented writers are consistently creating.

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Thank you for reading this blog.

Jacob

www.purplecamera.co.uk 

 

Pee Wee returns to the big screen after a long absence but forgets to update its joke for a modern day audience.

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As a British person born in the 90’s I know very little about Pee-Wee Herman other than Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) – which I watched only because it was directed by Tim Burton. Big Adventure is a film which whilst not fantastic has its moments so I hoped that Big Holiday would be a similar form of mild entertainment.

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Unfortunately it’s not as the filmmakers repeat tired and cliché jokes that are just not funny. It feels like you’re watching a talking Mr. Bean whilst on a bad trip. There is little to laugh at as the jokes come straight from the 80’s with characters and performances following a similar pattern. The nature of Pee-Wee as a boy-child who is obviously a bit older than in previous films just left me feeling sad… rather than laughing with Pee-Wee I increasingly pitied him.

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The film also stars “famous” actor Joe Manganiello as a fictional version of himself in what is a stupid and ridiculous plot-point with a model-making scene being the ‘emotional core’ of the film but failing to have any impact.

Maybe if you grew up watching Pee-Wee and viewed the film nostalgically it would be funny or if you were five years old. But for me it was simply a waste of time.

4/10

Bonus Video:

To showcase how unfunny the film is watch two minutes of Pee-Wee making fart sounds with a balloon – hilarious.

A slow but “action-packed” start leads to an even more “action-packed” ending, unfortunately characterisation is forgotten.

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Russell Crowe runs around for a bit then dies (Spoiler). Then Kevin Costner runs around for a bit then dies (Spoiler). The Russell Crowe comes back as a weird-ghost thing (Spoiler). Then we have Superman (Henry Cavill).

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Then Superman continues to fight evil whilst discovering himself in an increasingly tiresome movie with the boring Zod providing a boring villain, the entire movie is just a waste of time.

It’s a film that I wished I liked more but I don’t, I just find very little to enjoy about the character, situation or relationships that the audience are given.

6/10

A beautiful, subtle film that seems better than it actually is.

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My second film of the year is Carol, the lesbianic period drama that is likely to be nominated for hosts of awards this year. It is a film that has great camerawork, design, a tantalising screenplay and three fantastic lead performances. So on paper it should be one of the best film ever made; and it certainly has been loved by the critics. However it’s not, the resulting film although technically fantastic is somewhat bland and forgettable.

The heart of the story comes from the blossoming romance between the young Therese (Rooney Mara) and the older seductress Carol (Cate Blanchett). As the two fall in love we are also given an insight into Carol’s failing relationship with her ex-husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) and see the strained choices Carol has to make. Each character is given time to develop slowly and the actors excel in bringing them to life.

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It is beautifully crafted and designed. Creating a realistic yet cinematic view of New York in the 1950’s. But if you put all these technical things to one side, the film is nothing but another over character driven drama/romance. Although it feels tense and emotive, these emotions soon wear off as you realise that it is in fact just Brief Encounter remade, again, with lesbians.

The direction of the film relies on intricacy and subtlety. Every aspect seems to have a meaning in some way and the cleverly written dialogue leads to plenty of pauses and meaningful looks between characters. This works well on the most part and allows us to feel the genuine love between Therese and Carol, whilst also experiencing the heartbreak Harge is going through. It is unfortunately this emphasis on relationships involving Carol that for me make the film suffer.

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Carol is not a nice person and throughout the film is not portrayed as kind in any way. She is rich woman, who knows exactly what she wants and willing to take it; not matter the price. This is shown in the very first meeting between Carol and Therese, where instead of buying her daughter a doll for Christmas, she purchases a train set because Therese told her too. This sort of action continues for a long time as Carol has to choose between her family and her love for Therese. Only the relationship with Therese to me doesn’t seem as real from Carol’s side; Carol spends much of the film grooming Therese. Touching her arm, buying her gifts, posing for photographs; without ever seeming to get to know her. Then when the relationship with Therese threatens the custody of her daughter Carol simply drops her.

Although Blanchett does perform the role of Carol brilliantly I spent the entire film confused over her motives and whether she actually cared for Therese was just some older woman looking for a bit of fun. I’m not sure if this was an intentional choice, but I feel that it wasn’t and it seemed to distract from the real heart of the story.

 

Carol is film that will be nominated for awards and which critics rightly love, but for me it just felt like every other character driven drama and is one that I am likely to forget.

 

6/10

 

 

Sweet & Lowdown is a film, which showcases Allen’s obsession with Jazz music. It takes on a strange style which is a combination of documentary and half fictional story.

THE STORY

The main story follows the tribulations of the second greatest guitarist in the world Emmett Ray (Sean Penn). It is set in the 1930’s and although Ray is a fictional character much of the story follows around his obsession with real-life musician Django Reinhardt. Intermittently cut into this story are interviews with more current celebrities (including Allen himself) discussing the Ray as if he was a real person.

THE GOOD

The film is well written and well-performed. Samantha Morton who plays a mute love-interest named Hattie standing out particularly well. It is also interesting in style as to be honest (not being a massive fan of 1930’s Jazz) I was always unsure whether it was a true story or not.

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Many of the scenes reach towards farcicality however the serious scenes balance these out tremendously and give the film a great sort of momentum that keeps the viewer intrigued throughout. The characters are just eccentric enough to be deemed realistic caricatures for people at the time although do stray close to the line of ridiculous.

THE BAD

The style of film which is strange also messes with the tempo. The cuts back to interviews with Allen and others seem out of place and take away from the main story. I’m not entirely sure they are needed and exactly what they add to the story.

My other disappointment with this film is that it is not based on a true story and person. As discussed I was unsure the entire film whether it was a true tale exaggerated or entirely made up and towards the end I was wishing it to be true; however when I later found out it wasn’t the magicness of the story also dissipated. The events in retrospect seem forced together and don’t work as well as they could.

ALLEN SCALE

The film scores a relatively low 6 on the Allen scale.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

An intriguing idea the film lacks a pizzazz that can allow it to be considered Allen’s greatest work. I therefore give it three Woodys, allowing a total of 6.

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Again I must apologise for the late posting of this blog but I have had an incredibly taxing work schedule as of late. This weeks film was Small Time Crooks and follows Woody in as a low-beat conman who accidentally makes it famous.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Ray (Woody Allen) is a small-time crook who scrapes a living and dreams of riches. When he accidentally manages to gain a legitimate fortune he and his wife (Tracy Ullman) begin to enjoy the high-life. However the lifestyle soon becomes taxing on their marriage as Ray fails to embrace the expenses money has to offer and his wife begins an affair with money grabbing David (Hugh Grant).

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THE GOOD

The film is good in the sense that is does not mess around as some of the other Allen films have. There is very little exposition in this film; the audience is driven straight into the centre of the plot and that’s fine as the characters are all fairly archetypal and don’t need to be fleshed out to a major extent.

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Woody is once more on top form with his witty, narcissistic opinions on the upper-class society making for some great comedy moments. Hugh Grant is also pleasant in his role as a money-grabbing art dealer. The film is underlined by the fast paced narrative meaning that the audience has no time to think about the problems of the film as they are swept away by what is happening.

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THE BAD

Although the characters are great, they do feel at time a little too stereotypical; there is always a sense that the world created in this film is not real. Yet the film attempts to strive for realism; giving it a very odd tone.

The film is a also a little too ridiculous at times; yes it is consistently funny but moments of the film turn into a complete farce and take things a little bit too far.

ALLEN SCALE

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The film scores 8/10 with only sex and Jews missing.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Small Time Crooks is a fast paced romp of film which borderline the line of ridiculous and hilarious. Three Woody’s, giving it a total of 7.

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Firstly apologies for the lateness of this posting but with Christmas and a taxing work schedule it was difficult to find the time to write things up. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is a film which sees Allen parody film-noir in his unique style and is as always an odd interpretation. 

WHAT HAPPENED?

CW Briggs (Woody Allen) is a top investigator at an insurance firm; however after being hypnotised he finds himself under the spell of the ‘Jade Scorpion’ and forced to commit crimes. When he awakens from the spell he is then asked to investigate the crimes that he has forgotten he committed.

THE GOOD

The film is fairly well written for what it is. It takes the typical kind of film noir narrative and characters and adds a unique twist that only Allen can provide; however the best moments come in a series of insults which Helen Hunt’s character hurls at Allen. 

Everytime Allen exits a scene with the two characters she sends him an insult that go from hilarious to ridiculous and make the scenes with these characters extremely interesting. 

THE BAD

The insults however are a tiny part of the film which drags out; mostly due to the laborious attitude of Allen’s character. Apparently Allen only acted in this film due to being unable to find a suitable actor and this makes perfect sense as Allen is far too old for the part and his stuttering attitude does not work with the serious character. This sets the tone of the film off as I was unsure whether the film was a farce of simple parody.

ALLEN SCALE

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FINAL THOUGHTS

The film is tiring and suffers from terrible casting; upon watching I simply found myself waiting for it to end. 3 Woodys. Giving a total of 7.

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Anything Else is a film which demonstrates all typical Woody Alleneque features that can be expected but also one which fails to engage its audience and shows the pitfalls of his filmmaking style.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Jerry (Jason Biggs), a up & coming comedy writer, is afraid of being alone and is thus stuck in a relationship with a woman who cheats on him and in a contract with an unhelpful agent (Danny DeVito). When he meets an older comedian David (Woody Allen), Jerry begins to take his life into his own hands.

THE GOOD

The film is extremely similar to the previously watched film Whatever Works with the only real difference between the two being that Jason Biggs is much younger than Larry David’s character and that this film is rescued by two performances; those of Danny DeVito and Woody Allen. Every scene involving either of these actors is fantastic; particularly those with DeVito (whose part is small but vital); they get their characters correct to the tee and create some great comic moments.

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The film also highlights many of Allen’s obsessions namely psycho-analysis and Jewish oppression which are constantly referenced. The plot is all over the place with large periods of dull conversations followed by scenes that are extremely chaotic. These chaotic scenes are well out together using split-screen to show several different conversations going on at the same time.

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THE BAD

The problem with the film is that it is simply boring. The characters are caricature like and dull; the story isn’t much better and the dialogue seems forced. The film raises questions about life, death and love; but doesn’t make an attempt to make them seem legitimate. Jason Biggs looks like he is out of his depth in the role and this is felt as scenes often feel slow and tedious.

 

ALLEN SCALE

This film is the first film in the challenge to score a 10/10 on the Allen scale as it epitomises everything that is to be expected in an Allen film.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Anything Else isn’t a great movie and to be honest it isn’t even a good movie. It is probably one of the worst I have seen thus far in the challenge and is therefore awarded just 1 Woody which gives it a total of 6, something far higher than it really deserves.

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This weeks films portrays Allen’s interpretation of London life as well as British people, in the case study of a family from the city.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Played by an all star cast this film follows several stories within the same family which are entwined. These include Anthony Hopkins marrying a prostitute and Naomi Watts being tempted to an affair with Antonio Banderas whilst her ‘husband’ Josh Brolin is similarly tempted by Frieda Pinto.

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THE GOOD

The film is interesting in that unlike Allen’s other city based films the location does not come across as important. In most Allen films the setting is often referenced and glorified; yet in this film the London based setting is barely mentioned meaning the audience is able to focus on the characters.

The cast all perform magnificently and bring to life a far from brilliant script meaning that whilst the films lacks in wit the characters are beautifully crafted. Some of the stories are also rather interesting especially Josh Brolin’s which contains a rather dark twist towards the end of the film.

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THE BAD

The film suffers from many problems; namely that the balance between the difference stories is off. Each separate story is completely different (which is fine and can be successful as in To Rome With Love), yet because they are all inter-connected by the family ties appear forced and confusing. The different story lines appear as if they where bolted together at the last moment, especially that of Anthony Hopkins who shares perhaps three scenes with other characters.

The film is also annoying in that there is absolutely no closure; at the end of the film I found myself feeling very disappointed in that absolutely everything is left open ended. It felt as if I’d wasted an hour and a half on my life in this brief study of a dysfunctional family and I longed to see the characters succeed and in some cases receive their comeuppance.

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THE ALLEN SCALE:

The film contains many features typical of Woody Allen film with its most obvious being the stammering of characters and the sexual references. The film contains a few nostalgic references (but is rather toned down on this front) and only really includes the use of music during the credit sequences (although a scene in which Anthony Hopkins visits a nightclub contains a more recent beat). It therefore receives a score of 6/10.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is a very average film which if made by any other director would not have attracted the cast that make it passable. Therefore I award it 2 Woody’s to be added to the 3 from the Allen Scale. Giving the film a total of 5 Woody’s.

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If I’m honest I have to say this weeks film was one of my favourite Woody Allen films prior to starting the challenge and has remained so. It is one of the strange magical Allen films which occur periodically. 

WHAT HAPPENED?

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a writer obsessed with 1920’s Paris. On a trip to the city of his dreams he inexplicably finds himself transported back in time by night and hangs out with famous figures from the past including Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

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THE GOOD

This film is good in every department; the script is well balanced, witty and consists of characters whom the audience really cares for. All of the historical figures are written perfectly and match up well to the personas which the history books have given them; they are performed by an all-star cast with a fresh cameo always just around the corner.

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Watching the film I loved the magicalness of the entire thing; the fact that ‘why’ the protagonist is able to time travel is not really explained is fantastic as the details of it are unimportant to the story. Allen is one a few filmmakers brave enough to trust in the audience to understand what’s happening without adhering to the rules as most time-travel films do. Sure the time-space continuum is probably screwed over in this film and the butterfly effect probably changed the entire future, but do we care? No.

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THE BAD

There is very little wrong with this film; it is as I said well rounded in all areas. In fact, I’m struggling to come up with a criticism that is worth writing so I’m just going to not give any.

ALLEN SCALE

The film contains many trademarks of Allen. In the film Owen Wilson plays the Woody Allen character; stammering his way through the past and obviously due to the story it is packed full of jazz music and nostalgic references. Once surprising thing is that New York is not referenced in this film. Most Allen films iff not set in New York generally have a character who originates from or has lived there. In this film every character comes from Hollywood which was a bit of shock.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

I think its pretty obvious from this review that I am going to give the film 5 Woody’s, this coupled with a score of 3.25 form the Allen scale gives it a score of 8 Woody’s.

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