Browsing: Top Ten

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Within the science-fiction genre, various conceptualizations of time-travel have been offered by the cinema. Indebted to 19th century literature, with H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895) undeniably the most inspirational of the lot, time-travel has drawn interest in the cinema not only for the narrative possibilities it affords, but for its …

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In anticipation of the release of Million Dollar Arm, I’ve put together a small survey of the best baseball movies of all time. America’s pastime, baseball infuses the movies about it with a particular resonance, plays to ideas of national identity and makes these movies notable motion picture artifacts.

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Excuse me while I get over excited at the ridiculous nature of giant monsters on screen. As far as monster films go, things could only get better if you made that monster a giant monster. These on screen nightmares and terrors are some of the most iconic and baffling creatures I’ve ever seen. These beasts are set up as incomprehensible,

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There were a few ways I could have gone about this.  First would have been to document odd choices in books to be adapted.  Were I to have done that, Catch 22, The Slaughterhouse Five and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy

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Last month we saw the opening of a new Captain America movie, are about to see the release of a new Spider-Man movie, and will later this month be gifted with a new X-Men movie. Chances are if you saw a movie anytime before April you were shown trailers for all three of these movies. By the end of next year, we will…

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Vampires have been haunting our screens with their presence since cinema became a popular medium. Historically speaking, most global cultures have a version of the vampire legend and monster figure rooted deep within their folklore and this is something that literature has brought to the fore. Theorists such as Ken Gelder have categorised the vampire figure in cinema from its humble beginnings as a shadowy apparition to the modern day teen romantic. Vampires throughout their representations on the silver screen have transformed to fit the morals of the narratives and are mouldable characters that heavily influenced by the cultures their source material is taken from. The stereotypical vampire of Eastern European heritage earns its place through a fear of transmitting of plague and pestilence, converted to a fear of foreign cultures invading with the movement of trades across the seas. Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula is a prime example of this European imagery we initially conjure up when the word vampire is heard, but over the past decades the vampire has seen many forms in film.

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It’s easy when asked to think about female action heroes to quickly round up female superhero characters.  The abundance of classic and contemporary female superheroes, from Wonder Woman to Cat Woman, all comic book based, is relatively astonishing.  Female action heroes can be more than those endowed with super human powers.  The involvement of the female character in action genre films has unfortunately the same history as female characters in the horror genre.  Often the damsel in distress or the trophy prize for the hero, as far back as Greek mythology this has been the fate of the female in heroic tales, and this has remained relatively constant in feature films.  For me, a female action hero is somebody who ultimately demonstrates the traits of a hero figure and as this top ten shows, somebody who defies the genre standards and represents something unique within the genre’s expectations.

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It is often a mistake of mainstream audiences that Documentaries are simply another genre of film – in opposition to drama, horror or sci-fi etc. But anyone who has an interest in non-fiction filmmaking knows that there are a huge variety of different types of films. Documentaries can focus on science/nature, human-interest, history, biography or politics amongst many other generic nuances.

Theoretical arguments around representation suggest that the very act of capturing a certain area of ‘real life’ is in itself political, as the choice of what to include and omit has consequences about what audiences will think about any given subject matter. But if a ‘political documentary’ is defined as a film that presents one or more arguments focusing on an area of Political policy (a decision made by a government) then these are ten of my favourite recent examples.

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Filmmaking documentaries are insightful and essayist, complex and fascinating. Filmmaking documentaries bring three key ideas into light; making a film about a film, showing a film within a film, and a film about film itself. The documentary format is perfect for demonstrating the realities of the filmmaking process, exploring the industry of film, and showing the rare moments that can give such depth to the material discussed. To hone in on this sort of genre as the short DVD extras features that now accompany most feature films, is cutting short the progressive works of those significant pieces that came before the DVD regulars and those that have since developed out of these ideas. The scope of this documentary sub-genre is as diverse as the sub-genre of say zombie narratives within the horror genre. My pick of the top ten filmmaking documentaries are as much of a mixed bag as them come, all impressive in their content and more often than intended, brave in their motives. If this little collection doesn’t inspire the idea that filmmaking is more complex and impressive than you might expect, nothing will.

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As a follow-up to my list of this topic i 2011, I’m taking stock of the world of acting in the past year in cinema. Nearly every awards body gives out acting awards, but only a handful recognize a Best Cast or Best Ensemble of the year, as distinct from a more all-encompassing Best Picture. Two notable films from the year, Gravity and All is Lost, capitalize on their dual or solo protagonist(s) as the only characters, but nearly every other example relies on the interplay between recognizable stars, character actors, newbies, and extras. Effective ensembles of 2013 came under directors known for orchestrating, even indulging, an unwieldy stable of actors (David O. Russell, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Woody Allen), as well as filmmakers more known for focused tone in both acting and visuals (Steve McQueen, Denis Villeneuve, Sofia Coppola). The year was also notable for some relatively sensitive coming-of-age films involving large casts of young people and fun entries in ensemble-heavy franchises like Fast & Furious and The Hobbit. Next week I will unveil my own choices, but until then please comment on your own favorites.

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