Saturday, 25 April 2015


Gosh, it's been a wild few weeks hasn't it? Okay, good news: I've not killed myself due to stress ... yet. Bad news: I neglected Pop Culture Cynic. But in my defence, I couldn't handle the workload I was dealing with for university, let alone try and keep up with weekly posts on top of it. But that's all in the past now! Well, at least for summer, so let's get back to Pop Culture Cynic-y goodness, shall we?

Today I am reviewing a film called Felony, released in 2013.

felony film Australian three men on the cover
The casting call for this film was "slightly disgruntled
straight, white man."
So, in a sentence, Felony is an Australian film about three detectives (in the picture above). We have Detective Malcolm "Mad Mal" Toohey. Next we have Detective Carl Summer, which leaves his partner, Detective Jim Melic. When an incident leaves a nine year old boy in critical condition, the three detectives are swept up in web of secrets, lies and workplace politics.

"Yeah, the McDonalds is just down the road, take a left, can't miss it."
After celebrating a big bust and being hailed as a hero, Mal puts himself behind the wheel despite the previous scene showing him doing shot after pint after shot after shot. I feel like you guy's can guess where this is going. "An incident leaves a nine year old boy in critical condition" paired with "hero drunk cop drives home". Don't worry this isn't spoiler, you see it coming less than two minutes into the film. Mal hits the youg boy on his paper route with his car, and screeching to a stop, we see Mal wait and weigh up whether or not to just drive off and leave the boy, or to intervene and help.

Mal leaves the boy, the credits roll and the film lasted about twelve minutes, okay folks, i'll see you next week with a brand new review!

Nah, Mal gets out and helps the boy, phoning for an ambulance and shoddily avoiding questions about his involvement in the accident. 
Then up rolls Jim and Carl.

Something witty perhaps?
Carl, the more senior officer in command, is more than willing to just brush things under the carpet and move on, he is a strict follower of the code of "police officers have got each others backs." A quick, "did you run over the boy?" ".........Noooooo?" is enough for him. However this doesn't fly for Jim, the younger detective new on the scene. Despite the fact that he is meant to be focusing on a different case, the details of the hit and run just can't seem to settle in his mind and he decides to push things further, which exposes Carl's real lack of authoritative power.

*sad trumpet plays in background*
First things first, I actually did enjoy this film. It wasn't quite what I thought it would be and I really liked some of the style choices and directorial decisions, but I'll go into those in a minute. However, just because I liked it doesn't mean I don't think there was a fair bit wrong with it.
Firstly, the previously mentioned case that Jim is supposed to be focusing on however is much more interesting than this story. I'd much rather have a film about Jim and Carl pursuing the people involved in the abduction and rape of a young girl rather than this hit and run thing. Rule number one, don't make the side plot more interesting than the main plot. In fact the other case isn't even a side plot, it's briefly mentioned and explored in the beginning before it's totally thrown out the window in favour of the main plot. 

You're gonna wanna get used to this angle.
Secondly, no-one in this film is particularly likeable? Like, I wasn't really rooting one way or another. I never feared for Mal getting caught, or cheered in triumph at the prospect of him getting found out. I didn't really care about Jim and Carl either. I thought Jim and Carls dynamic was good at the beginning of the film ... when they're investigating the abduction case. Their dynamic is interesting, but it quickly spirals out of control towards the end of the film, which leads me on to my thirdly.

Side eye game is strong.
Thirdly, I feel like the first half of the film is great. It establishes a good tone and a consistent atmosphere, but it loses its steam about halfway through. The story begins to fall apart and everything starts to get out of hand, which is slightly farcical at points I felt, which isn't exactly in keeping with the rest of the film.

I'm bad at writing captions, let me die.
Criticisms aside though, I thought that from an aesthetic standpoint, the film looked great. I also got an ever so slightly David Fincher vibe from the director Matthew Saville. He wasn't afraid to just let things happen. We could watch a character go from point A to point B with no cuts, and if he could avoid it, he did. Conversations played out without cutting from face to face to face, and instead things were allowed just to unfold naturally. I think the cinematography is great, and the script also has some fantastic lines in it.

So basically, if you're looking for style over substance, then yeah, go ahead and watch it, but if you're looking for more, it may not be the film for you.

Till next week!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Film Favourites: Blade Runner

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick poster

The Film

Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner is, like any good film, esoteric, weird as hell, and an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel; in this case Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. It's everything you would hope for in an epic sci-fi noir movie, even down to the inexplicably austere police chief's office.

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick bryants office
"This room hasn't changed in 80 years; we just added more monitors."

The Plot

Harrison Ford is Rick Deckard, a no-nonsense Blade Runner (android bounty hunter) and winner of Best Private Investigator Name three years running who has been tasked with hunting down 4 extremely dangerous replicant (this universe's name for androids) fugitives, led by the supremely talented Rutger Hauer as Nexus 6 Combat Model Roy Batty.

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick rutger hauer googly silly eyes
Here we see the full range of Hauer's acting ability.
The replicants have returned to android-free Earth in order to try to extend their stunted 4 year life span. What ensues is a hunt through gritty future-Los Angeles streets where lots of people die, many, many extremely quotable lines are delivered, and the very serious tone of the movie is undercut surprisingly regularly with sudden and jarring moments of unexpected slapstick.

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick rutger hauer pout
Seriously, you would not expect this guy to still be sinister after some of the adorable faces he pulls.

The Critique

Really, I can't stress enough how silly this movie can be. I got the joyous opportunity to see it in the cinema for the first time very recently (thus this post, actually) and it reminded me how unusually out of place much of the comedy is in the context of the film's world. This is meant to be super grungy dystopia with lots of discarded newspaper and midgets and shit, and yet we end up with androids who run around naked and consider headbutting themselves through walls a viable means of taunting.

"Heeere's Joh-noh-flehbleh..." *collapses*
Smart move, Roy.

You'll also notice that most of my screenshots seem to be focussing on Rutger Hauer, and the simple truth is that he's the only really good actor in the whole movie; everyone else is fine, sure, but they can be a bit flat... Deckard says everything in a slightly disgruntled voice, Rachael (Sean Young) does not move her face, like, at all, and Pris (Daryl Hannah) acts akin to a curious child with all the emotions mixed up wro- oh wait. Replicants don't have fully developed emotions. OK, we'll let them off.

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick origami unicorn gaff
All of them...
Despite some stunted acting, which you may consider a blessing or a curse (I think I've just managed to convince myself it's a good thing), every character in the movie feels fascinatingly unique and fleshed out; particularly when many of them only get a matter of minutes in the whole run time. Edward James Olmos' origami-folding Detective Gaff has about 5 lines across 3 scenes and yet he feels like a complete part of a breathing world. Which, now that we're on the subject, is fucking gorgeous. 

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick opening sequence los angeles tyrell corporation

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick los angeles eye works

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick los angeles street
Visit Los Angeles; where you'll never have to worry about scrap paper or steam shortages again.
The attention to detail is brilliant as well (I'd sincerely recommend having a peruse of the countless IMDb factoids about the set design once you've watched the movie), with the sets, costuming and even the made up language all melding together to create a believable future world full of noodles and pipes. That, plus some now iconic film techniques (cool ass eye glimmer, represent), makes for a completely bespoke experience, and is, along side the great characterisation, subtle exploration of human mortality, and amazing soundtrack, the reason why this movie is and always will be one of the best ever made.

Blade Runner 1982 film ridley scott harrison ford sci fi philip K dick j f sebastian toys
It's fucking stupid, but we love it.

It's Special Because...

This is one of my dad's favourite movies; I think it's between this and Apocalypse Now for his top. My brother hated it the first time he tried to watch it. I remember his words very vividly after he tried our old VHS copy of the first Director's Cut (yeah, there's like 8 versions now): "It's too dark too see anything and the sound is weird," or something to that effect. Naturally, I saw this as a challenge and sat through that awful, awful video on our big old CRT TV that would leave a big green splodge on one side of the screen and a purple one on the other. It was grainy, the sound had kind of warped a bit (when your soundtrack is 80% synth, that's not a good thing to have happen), and it was generally a poor way to see the film first time. 

And yet, I still enjoyed it. Not long after, the 2007 Cut was on Film4; I watched it again and I fell in love. At long last my dad had someone who could finish off the sentence when he inexplicably started spouting William Blake, or groggily reply with "Painful to live in fear, isn't it?" when he decided to burst into your room in the morning, growling "Wake up! Time to die!"

He really likes quoting this movie...

Best Enjoyed With

No distractions, a quiet room, and a band of friends who love every second of it as much as you. Nothing beats that moment when you all silently mouth those immortal lines together in the dark. Blade Runner is most definitely a world best shared.