Posts Tagged ‘cinema’

Don't look in there! The state of Scary Movies


Angus Niven doesn”t scare easy, this is a lie. I scare easier than something that scares easy. Even so I struggle to get myself scared at the current “horror” section of my local Blockbuster. Scary films are on the most part lame-zo snorefests. Saw I-IIV are testament to the guff churned out, much like American Pie 3 through 26, Saw shows cinematic formula”s are exploitable. Lots o gore, a couple of pale English school girls and perhaps an unsuspecting cheerleader with unsupported boobies. Look at that I just wrote a horror film.

Renowned pedophile Roman Polanski riled against this formula with Rosemary”s Baby (1968). This was over 4 decades ago, Polanski”s psychotic Mia Farrow terrified but did so intelligently. We have seen many examples of smart thrilling horror since then but also a suffocating barrage of sewage.

I scare easy but what is scary about watching a couple in an empty house? Doors open and close and you rightly shit yourself, but thats when you are home alone not when you are watching a couple of muppets with an scarily incompetent cameraman. The focus on bums leaving seats has lead to me jumping out of mine to change the channel (I don”t have a remote in this scenario). Despite moments of genius, horror is a genre in free fall. Not unlike Keanu Reaves we are expected to accept Horror on the back of a few good films despite an overwhelming majority of nonsense. Why is that? Why aren”t more filmmakers trying harder? Why was there three Matrix and only one Point Break?

I can”t help but wonder what if horror wasn”t deemed a genre? What if filmmakers were forced to draw more out of 90 minutes than a few scares? Horror films, or at least the good ones, provide good scares but a little more.

Take zombies, a horror staple since Mr Romero showed the world how it was done. Of course they are scary, but they are only scary when used properly. As shown in the sensational 28 Days Later (2002) where Zombies are used for some truly thrilling action sequences and more importantly engaging character development. Using the horror and scares to build characters and tell a story of humanity is something we could use more of. If the scares aren”t the focus would this make a difference? I think 28 Days Later proves that taking the focus of seat jumping leads to much more worthwhile cinema. Sadly it is apparent that few filmmakers took this lesson on board

Personally the scariest film I have ever seen is Fatal Attraction (1987). It may not have kept me up at night like It (1966) but good grief Charlie Brown is it scary. Fatal attraction is a slow psychological thriller, from mundane beginnings director Adrian Lyne presents a very realistic and terrifying descent into complete insanity. Glen Close is phenomenal, her monstrously believable depiction of a regular person”s descent is terrifying. It is the lack of mysticism and magic and the embrace of simple horrifying humanity that makes Fatal Attraction so scary for me. Even the hint of the unexplained in Rosemary”s Baby can remove you, Fatal Attraction is nothing but humanity and there is nowhere to turn for comfort.

Yet you probably won”t find Fatal Attraction under horror, why not? It”s a good deal scarier than Saw or Paranormal Activity. It is an engaging and terrifying film, the fact that it wouldn”t be described as “Horror” says more about the state of the genre than enthusiasts are willing to admit.

So this Halloween when you are deciding on what scary film you should watch let your mind wander. Don”t neccesarily accept what the suits in Hollyweird classify as Horror, find something that engages you as much as it terrifies. Find a film that scares you the more you think about it. More importantly remember to stay prepared for some personal character growth, you never know there might be a zombie apocalypse tomorrow.

What’s Going On In Comedy: Cry Baby Comedy Present Airplane


Comedy in Edinburgh outside of the festival is currently undergoing some way of transformation.

One of the freshest and most exciting of these changes comes in the form of a new night at the Cameo hosted by Cry Baby Comedy. The idea of the night is to use the wonderful venue for live comedy, with performances provided by some of the best Scottish Talent emerging today, headlined by a classic movie of mirth, with both elements fused into an interactive experience to liven up the usual and, comparatively dreary, cinema experience.

I have a rule: when you are offered a life jacked and greeted by a nun playing a guitar, you know you are in for a good night. Cry Baby Comedy did not disappoint.

Cry Baby and Leslie Nielson: The new face of comedy in Edinburgh.

Guests on the bill for the debut Airplane special were magnificent, with well known names if you have been keeping your ear to the ground, including Chortle Student Finalists Hari Sriskantha – who effortlessly and intelligently juggles with expectation and race using some well written observations and one liners – and David Elms. Elms brought the house down with his subtle intonation and Basden beating guitar-scapades, has clearly grown in confidence with the festival, and will doubtless soon be a household name, mark my words.

The ladies themselves are developing their own sassy voice as part of the Edinburgh scene. Compère Cat Wade can”t help but enjoy herself as she manages to balance a genuine, edging on excessive, enthusiasm for life with a sharp wit and natural badinage with the audience that would be the envy of most professional compères.

One of the highlights of the night came in the form of another of the Cry Baby organisers Gemma Flynn, who has become a regular favourite at another comedy venture for Academic Performance the “Bright Club” – here she is performing with them at the BBC tent during the festival, with the same Gangster”s Paradigm routine that went down so well at the last Cry Baby Show:

Alongside this remarkably astute comedy, variety was provided with some poetry and sketches. Clearly inspired by acts like Dan Le Sac, poetry was a welcome incorporation, and although this didn”t quite match the standards set by the other acts (by his own admissions, he wasn”t a stand-up and hampered slightly by technical problems) one can see this going down well with a bit more polish and stage presence.

Similarly, although not all the sketches were as well received as could be, the Edinburgh Revue provided some welcome respite with a section of solid skits. Having clearly grown as a troupe from their well received Festival outing, all of the performers working together admirably, perhaps most exciting of all were glimpses of sharper writing suggested this group had plenty of potential yet to be fulfilled. Between these, Adam Todd, doubling as both sketch and stand-up, is another act who, like Elms, is growing into his character with remarkable ability – a surreal man child who chooses whimsy over hate – and I cannot wait to see how his unique way of thinking develops as more material and ideas inevitably drip-feed into his routine.

At most gigs, this would have been more than enough for an enjoyable evening, but to top it all off, the headline act just happened to be one of the funniest movies of all time – the always hilarious Airplane. Despite being broken up by some technical problems – the film stock almost inevitably falling apart being now thirty years old – nothing could hamper the enjoyment of a clearly buoyant audience that left.

This is what live comedy should be – everyone together, involved and enjoying the night for what it is, a whole heap of fun. If this is the new face of comedy, then you”d best get used to seeing smiles all round.

Follow @CryBabyComedy on twitter to find out about

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their next outing.

Back to School Part 2: Film

Back to School Film

As if yesterday’s comic selection wasn’t enough to brighten up the start of term, here is a selection of films. This list is stuffed with films you’ve probably already seen but you should see again because the likelihood is they are a damn sight better than homework or “playing outside”.

Breakfast Club

Breakfast Club sets out to be the ultimate bottle episode and capture High School in one Saturday. For those who don’t know, a “Bottle Episode” is where a cast is brought together in one place where they are forced to deal with underlying tensions. For example the mall episode in every single 90s/00s high school show. Breakfast Club is taking on the underlying divisions common in every High School, it sets out to break down the superficial barriers by humanising each character in the others eyes. It is a touching and funny film and should be top of every high-school movie list on the back of the script

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alone. In my opinion the breakfast club is the ensemble to end all ensembles, it deals with the group dynamic brilliantly while maintaining strong identity for each character. The performances are universally strong whether this is the actors fault or John Hughe’s I don’t know. Everyone has their favourites, Emilio Esteves and Judd Nelson are the standouts for me mainly because of Andrew’s dancing and Benders ankle bandana. John Hughes spent the greater part of his post Lampoon career trying to capture High School, I’m glad he did.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller is outstanding, if you haven’t seen it go watch it now. Then come back and read the rest of this article, actually same goes for Breakfast Club.

Welcome back now that we have all enjoyed these films lets talk Bueller. Ferris is who everyone wants to be, everyone, he drives awesome (semi-stolen) cars, he sings on floats, he does a dynamite “sausage king” impression. I can’t write enough praise about this film, I love it, I’m entirely biased and have no criticism. Hilarious script, excellent performances, singing, dancing and a truly unbelievable car. You’ve seen it you know why I love this film, it’s a ludicrous feature-length fantasy about grabbing life by the bollocks and singing twist and shout, whats not to love?

Watch the film again, school will still be there in 90 odd minutes and you will be in a much better mood.

Mean Girls

The Lindsay Lohan starring Mean Girls is one of the funniest films Tina Fey has ever written about High School. The ability to turn one of Hollywood’s biggest disasters into an essentially likeable character is a miracle of modern cinema. Examining High School through an outsiders perspective is hardly ground breaking but it does allow for some really funny moments and great performances (mostly by the adult cast but also a few stand out kids). It approaches the issue of compartmentalising kids in school on a much grander scale than other films with ludicrous results. It’s a bit of a dumb film but worth a watch if just to enjoy the comedy of Lindsay Lohan trying to act like a human being.

Adventures in Babysitting

To say this is the most ridiculous film in this list is an incorrect use of the word “ridiculous”. Adventures in baby sitting follows Elisabeth Shue, an entirely irresponsible baby sitter, and her wards. This unlikely ensemble of minors genuinely stumble upon multiple gun fights, car thief’s, the mob, abusive frat guys and a mechanic who looks like Thor. It’s a silly film but you will enjoy it, the cast are surprisingly capable actors who stumble through a series of Goonie like escapades. The only reason this made it on the list instead of the Goonies is I watched this more recently and am still reeling from the experience. Genuinely they almost foil the

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mob, I still can’t get over it.


Lets talk about Juno Home skillet, lickety split and whatever other phrases we were supposed to believe an actual human being used. In 2008 Juno provided us with a surprisingly humorous and touching look at teenage pregnancy and adoption. With regressing adults highlighting Juno’s growth and ludicrous turns of phrase highlighting the benefit of watching tv and listening to that MTV. Through Juno (described in my favourite line in the film as a “cautionary whale”) we get an intelligent and funny look at teenage life in the noughties.

NB. I was trying to write a “baby bump/ bumps along the way” pun for like half an hour, if you think of one fire it in the comments. High five for my favourite

Back To School Part 1: Comics

Back to School Comics

It”s that time of the year, doesn”t matter how old you are summer ending is bullspit. End of the summer means end of the Olympics, end of good weather and, for those of a certain age, back to school. Well cool off, I am here to brighten up even the worst summer hangover. Over the next couple of days I will be aiming you towards stuff that should keep the September blues at bay

I know what you”re going to say “Angus I”m going back to uni”, “Angus I spent all my money in the fringe”, “Angus I”m scared the leaves are changing”  well quit moaning I”ve got some comics for you.

Morning Glories Vol: 1-3

Image comics has recently released the third volume in this expansive series and there has never been a better time to pick it up. Until a week ago I hadn”t heard of Nick Spencer”s interesting take on High School, I have since inhaled all three volumes.

Morning Glories is set in one of the worlds leading preparatory schools, classrooms stocked with the best resources and all other available space stuffed with unresolved mystery. Following a group of pupils providing a Breakfast Club-esque cross section of the high school society. This group”s initial excitement at being accepted to this prestigious school is soon replaced with horror as they realise the Orwellian arsenal of despair and torture the staff utilise to achieve their unknown goal.

Spencer draws on influences from across the board, whether its room 101 or John Hughes. The key influence on the overall style however are the JJ Abrams” shows Lost and Fringe. Extensive backstory all tying into one mystery, each issue drifts in and out of flashbacks and/or flash-forwards? (wibbly wobbley timey wimey). This style of narrative is infuriatingly compelling but possibly to0 grand for the comic format. I read the series in three volumes and this was very enjoyable, however I cannot see myself enjoying the single issues to the same extent. The story can be slow and convoluted, waiting a month for an issue which ends up a flashback that won”t be relevant for another four issues (months) would drive me to the edge of insanity.

It”s a testament to the writing that I am only now discussing the art of this series. Morning Glories has consistent but frankly muted art. It”s functional but not much more, the only stand out feature I felt are the expressive characters. This means one of two things 1) they wanted to create an atmosphere of mundane drudgery in the school while aiding character development with expressive close ups or 2) they spent all the budget on a decent writer and got stuck with an average artist.

The size and ambition Casino games paid for for any mere 11% (individuals online slots can’t be introduced rapidly enough) while bingo notched a 4% share. of this project is infuriating but enjoyable. I was excited to read the third volume, I want to know what happens. It”s more compelling than a lot of content currently produced, especially when read in trade paperbacks. However if Spencer so much as thinks the word purgatory when writing the ultimate payoff, I will riot.

Freshmen Vol: 1

What if a group of college freshmen suddenly got superpowers based on what they were
thinking in one split second in 2004?

I”ll give you a minute to mull that mammoth question over.

You”ve just read the first issue of Top Cow”s Freshmen co-created by Seth Green and Hugh Sterbakov. Penned by Sterbakov, Freshmen aims to capture the fresher experience utilising super powers and a talking beaver. It”s a simple comic from a simpler time, it”s a super powered “Undeclared”. This simplicity however plays to the relative strength of Sterbakov”s writing, silly humour (one character”s power is to make people drunk and the Beaver talks) is used to mask a fairly strong arc of character development. There are some gaps in development later in the series, however this is more due to the unusual size of ensemble.

Volume one does a good job combining a standard super-hero origin story with a college freshers group dynamic. A pared down story which focuses entirely on characters is pleasant relief after the heavy “Morning Glories”. It is a funny book which handles an overly large ensemble well, the bad guy is menacing if a little basic and Freshmen set itself up well for a second volume. Overall I would recommend Freshmen Volume One, its funny, silly and provides some good action with a fun group dynamic.