Review: ‘It’

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 12.10.14.png‘It’ faces an inherent dilemma: it is in danger of becoming a parody of itself. Set in a small town in Maine in the 1980s, where awkward adolescents cycle down wide streets, facing off against unknown evils, ‘It’ is immediately reminiscent of another recent drama: Netflix’s Stranger Things. Yet, while that series was an unabashed Spielberg homage filled with deliberately overt references to the era’s iconic pop culture, ‘It’ is both the originator of said tropes and taking advantage of their resurgence, seducing modern audiences by tapping into our collective nostalgia.

Based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel, the story of ‘It’ is better known by many from the 1990 TV adaptation. Now, 27 years after its last incarnation (in a nod to the lifecycle of Pennywise himself), ‘It’ is back.

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When does a brand biopic become a marketing ploy?

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 16.27.05

Steve Jobs, the third film to be made about the founder of Apple in as many years, has been chosen to close the 2015 BFI London Film Festival. This news confirms what was already obvious: from Howard Hughes to Mr Heineken, Hollywood has an increasing obsession with entrepreneurs. With films about the founders of Google and McDonalds in the pipeline, it’s a trend that shows no sign of abating.

In many ways, it’s unsurprising. The origin stories of many iconic brands contain the hallmarks of the classic rags-to-riches plot that has long proved irresistible to filmmakers.

Whether or not an official studio-brand production partnership exists, films about existing brands inevitably come with a side-order of subliminal advertising that can diminish the power of the storytelling.

At their best, these films present an inspiring tale of vision and fearlessness. At their worst, they become little more than souped-up marketing ploys masquerading as artistic entertainment.

I’ve had a look at four films that revolve around brands and their leaders to decide in each case whether integrity won out over The Man.

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5 Movies that should be Musicals

Clueless

I had a little bit too much fun with this article. Sadly, I got excited and published it before I had a chance to add some extra song suggestions for Harry Potter: The Musical (‘Haasssssaaaaathyyyyyythhhh’ – a song entirely in Parseltongue, and a duet by Hermione’s eyebrows, were two highlights that just missed the cut).

Anyway, have a read and please let me know your own suggestions. I could play this game all day!

Review: Whiplash

Whiplash

 

In hindsight, it might have been a mistake to go with a drummer.The premise of Whiplash is the tried-and-tested story of the relationship between student and teacher. In this case, the student is 19-year-old aspiring drummer Andrew Neyman, who has just been accepted to the prestigious (and fictitious) Shaffer Conservatory of Music in Manhattan, where he meets teacher Terence Fletcher, a man who inspires fear and idolisation in equal measure.

Fletcher recognises talent in Andrew and invites him to join the school’s elite performance band – which is where the trouble begins, in the form of verbal abuse, bleeding knuckles and a hell of a lot of psychological trauma.

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