I’m probably the last person to jump onto the bandwagon about this film, “Gravity” was released in November 2013 but I think out of all the films I have been watching in the run up to the Oscars it is the one that has been hyped up to me the most. In all honestly I went into the film expecting not to like it, I expected to enjoy the cinematography and special effects but not the film as a whole. I was most definitely wrong.
“Gravity”; directed by Alfonso Cuarón, centres around the character Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), who after six months of NASA training has been sent into space to attach a new scanning device to the Hubble space telescope as an engineer. She is accompanied by the charismatic character Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who is an experienced astronaut. However, on a routine spacewalk to fix this device, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving both characters completely alone spiraling out into the depths of space.
The cinematography was beautiful as expected, and it was definitely worth seeing in 3D (which I normally don’t agree with, but I will make another blog post about that). Although occasionally they did do the typical cliche trick of objects ‘flying out of the screen at you’ which did distract from the experience a little bit but not massively. All in all the 3D added another layer to the imagery in the film. Now, I’m not going to give any plot spoilers, but throughout the film you are incredibly invested in the characters as you get to know them, particularly the protagonist Ryan. In truth, I really enjoyed this film it is absolutely stunning and the narrative is engaging, emotional and very well performed by Sandra Bullock. I highly recommend!
Here is a little bit about the making of the film:
“I want us to be sued by NASA when they see the film.”- Alfonso Cuarón
I’ve made it my mission to watch all the films nominated for best picture before the awards in March.
If you’re not already aware these are:
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
I’m already quite far behind having only seen Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street and Nebraska. Although I’m seeing Gravity tonight and American Hustle tomorrow night.
The reason I’m doing this is because I’ve never been in a position where I’ve seen all the nominated films for “Best Picture” at the Oscars, I’d like to see what are arguably some of the best films of the past year before the awards are given.
This film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée is currently nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, and is the winner of 2 Golden Globes in the latter two categories. Inspired by the real-life story of Ron Woodroof, “Dallas Buyers Club” is somewhere between fact and fiction.
It is centered around the fight against AIDS in 1980s USA. “Dallas Buyers Club” centres around protagonist Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic cowboy electrician in Dallas, Texas. It is set at a time in which the majority thought that only gay people got HIV and AIDS. When Ron is diagnosed he is given 30 days to live however the plot surrounds Ron smuggling unapproved drugs into Texas once he has discovered they are more effective at improving his symptoms that the standard AZT drug. Ron ends up going into an unlikely partnership with a HIV positive transgender character named Rayon (Jared Leto), who has greater contact with AIDS patients through the gay community and ends up distributing them to fellow sufferers by establishing the “Dallas Buyers Club” whilst facing major opposition from the FDA.
Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner (As Eve the Doctor) all give brilliant performances in this politically edged socio-medical drama that sheds some light on the sufferers of AIDS in the 1980s and how in many countries it is still no better. All in all, this is a really great film that deserves the attention it is currently getting in the run up to the Oscars.
This is a documentary by Gabriela Cowperthwaite about the Orcas in captivity at Seaworld, the documentary went viral on the internet reaching a huge audience of (in particular) young people. This meant that these issues were being discussed at great length through the mediums of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. One of the most interesting things about this documentary is that it has got a variety of people thinking about whether animals, particularly Orcas and Dolphins due to the other viral documentary “The Cove” (2009) should be in captivity and should be performing stunt shows at amusement parks around the world. Blackfish follows an Orca called Tilikum who has killed 3 trainers in his lifetime. The Documentary explains the cruel captivity of these Whales and how this can effect the animals psychologically. It suggests that Tilikum’s captivity essentially drove him mad and led to three people’s deaths. Blackfish goes on to show how Seaworld tried to cover this up, blaming the trainers each time for their accidents. Blackfish is a very thrilling film, it has interviews from the people who captured whales in the wild and former Seaworld trainers. It definitely has an agenda in persuading people that Orcas should not be kept in captivity so this has to be kept in mind (even if I, personally agree with this). Shortly after this Documentary went viral, Seaworld replied saying that:
“We object to Blackfish because its two central premises are wrong: (1) that life at SeaWorld is harmful for killer whales and for trainers working with these animals, and (2) that SeaWorld has attempted to cover up the facts surrounding the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, as well the history of Tilikum, the killer whale involved in that accident. Nothing could be further from the truth. To make these ultimately false and misleading points, the film conveys falsehoods, manipulates viewers emotionally, and relies on questionable filmmaking techniques to create “facts” that support its point of view. ”
Today I attended the initial meeting of Plymouth University’s Feminist Society, it was started to tackle the LAD and rape culture inset into the student population but also to fight misconceptions about Feminism and to create a space to discuss feminist activism and theory.
As part of a University module I am currently making a documentary about student perspectives on feminism, so three of the founders of the society were kind enough to let me interview them once the session was over. Everyone at the meeting made some really interesting points about the issues with gender inequality currently and what can be done in the University to help fight this. It was also really helpful to my documentary to see the diverse range of what being a feminist means to people at the University. It was also really good to see men there to discuss gender equality as they brought a new perspective to the debate of feminism in this generation.
I’m looking forward to seeing where this society goes in relation to my documentary but also in the sense of improving gender equality at the University.
On the 15th of January I went to Exeter University to visit the Bill Douglas Centre Archive. When you first enter the archive there is room full of film memorabilia ranging from Disney to independent British film makers. The majority of this is old film magazines and photographs of old film stars.
The Museum holds over 75,000 artifacts related to the moving image, dating from the seventeenth century to the present day. As well as having two galleries, the materials are used by Students and Researchers alike. In the second gallery we were introduced to the early technology of moving images such as shadow puppets and magic lanterns.
The museum was founded in commemoration of film maker Bill Douglas, a British filmmaker. In the museum there is approximately 50,000 items. The collection was formed over many years by Bill Douglas and Peter Jewell. Bill died in 1991, and Peter subsequently donated the Collection to the Exeter University Foundation.
The museum provides a research collection illustrating the development of optical entertainment from the late 18th century to Classical Hollywood and the present day. About 1,000 of the most important items are on display in the museum’s two galleries. The remaining thousands of books and objects are all available for study in the Special Collections and Bill Douglas Cinema Museum Reading Room.
I recently watched the Sundance Festival documentary “Miss Representation” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom who is a filmmaker, actress, speaker and advocate for women, girls and their families. She is also the writer, director and producer of this documentary that explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. The documentary is incredibly well researched with an impressive, diverse range of people interviewed such as Jennifer Pozner, Jane Fonda and Rosario Dawson. There are many examples of limiting sexualized portrayals of women in the media which added to a very persuasive narrative that was easily accesible even to someone who is unfamiliar with the concept of feminism and whether it is still an issue today. All in all, a brilliant documentary that highlights the the exploitation of women in the media.
“Something I’ve learned myself in making this film is sometimes people have a hard time listening to what we have to say because they’re so concerned about how we look. I think that’s a challenge that women in particular have in our culture. ” – Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Over the last few months I’ve been working as the Second Assistant Director on the short film “And She Cried” Directed by John Farrington.
Produced by Leaky Shed Films, “And She Cried” is inspired by the life of Sophie Lancaster who was murdered in 2007 simply for being a Goth. It is also going to be developed as an educational tool to support Sylvia Lancaster with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in her personal and inspirational efforts to fight hate crime.
It will be released to the public later this year.
On the 8th of January, I paid a visit to the SWFTA in Plymouth.This a charity whose role is to preserve and enable access to the moving image history of this area. It was established in 1993, and is one of the largest regional film archives in the UK. In its possession it has the Westward Television and Television South West independent television collections as well as a significant number of donated films both amateur and professional.
SWFTA’s main jobs include providing footage for public exhibitions and screenings, being involved in community projects, selling DVDs, working with film makers and broadcasters as well as providing copies of footage for members of the public often for research projects.
A key aspect of the archive is digitising their vast collection of films and tapes, which are decaying at a rapid rate. Whilst I was there the volunteers and archivists showed us how they digitise and restore the colour of the damaged film strips before storing them on immense hard drives for preservation but also for easy access to a member of the public looking for a certain film.
As someone who’s never shot film in analogue before it was incredibly interesting to see the process in which they play and conserve the work as well as the determination to preserve the past of film making.