Saturday, 27 July 2013

RespawningCouch Podcast: Audio Review: The World's End

This week: Jack and Nick delve into the final instalment of the "Cornetto Trilogy". We argue, f**k up references, and waffle about stuff in our usual incoherent manner. But is The World's End a satisfying ending to Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's hilarious series?

Favourite Film and TV Characters: Jaw's Matt Hooper

When thinking about characters in Steven Spielberg’s classic Jaws, many would instantaneously reminisce about Robert Shaw’s Quint. But for me Richard Dreyfuss’s performance as Matt Hooper really captures my love for the film. Jaws is undoubtably an all-time classic and would easily find its way on my Top 5 list, and that’s mainly down to the film’s characters. Even with my strong interest in sharks from my childhood, it was the interactions and contrasting personalities that really attracted me to the film. The three leads present a set of unique and memorable characters that, through the course of the film, form strong relationships and converse in “charming” exchanges. 

Hooper for me, manages to stand out amidst the sheer presence of Robert Shaw’s sublime performance. Sure he doesn’t have the quotable qualities and iconic appearance, but it’s his reactions and mentality to the events that occur that really makes him an engaging character. From his smile to his witty banter, there’s an undeniable charm that resonates and adds humanity into the terror that ensues. To be honest other than Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Goodbye Girl, I’ve never seen much of Dreyfuss’s other work. While these are arguably his most successful films, I’ve never really followed his career until seeing the dreadful Piranha 3D. That being said, from my limited viewing he always leaves a strong impression. His challenging performance in Close Encounters proved his commitment to a role, and that’s no different here in Jaws. 

Hooper’s introduction into the film is perfect. Amongst the hustle and bustle of fisherman trying to claim the bounty on the shark, there stands Hooper wearing a denim jacket trying to make sense of all the commotion. He’s presented as though he’s the “saviour” of Amity Island, even though nobody can quite quantify it. He also remains the only sane person throughout the first two acts of the film. And therefore there’s an immediately absorbing quality to his character. Additionally Dreyfuss and Spielberg thankfully didn’t simplify Hooper to fill the role of the comedic relief. On the sea, his focus and determination show his understanding of the environment and psychology. What's particularly fascinating about him is the undercurrent of contrast that dynamically makes his entire character. His rugged appearance hides his academic and wealthy background that Quint immediately questions/discredits. The early respect for Brody is flipped when they set sail to kill the shark, as he witnesses his incompetence. His changing attitude to Quint as they share stories starts to show the competition/ similarities between the two. These moulding components speak a lot for Spielbergs’ direction and Dreyfuss's exploration of the character.

Likewise, Hooper’s tone towards the rising body count is somewhat clouded by his love for sharks. And that’s a very interesting facet to him. His to-and-fro mentality throughout the course of the film, sees him constantly shift from “Wow, this is incredible” to “Oh crap, we’re going to die!”. Even with his light-hearted approach to the situation in hand, this never distracts from the film’s construction of tension, but rather enhances it. When the shark expert starts to loose his nerve, then you know for sure that the situation is bad.  

My favourite scene follows Brody and Hooper trying to convince Major Larry Vaughan to close the beaches after their discovery. Their attempts to warn him of an impending catastrophe are futile as  Hooper perfectly says “I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and BITES YOU ON THE ASS!”. I have a huge grin every single time I watch that moment.

Jaws will always remain a personal favourite. For all the sniggering at the sight of a shark jumping on the backend of a boat, the film still manages to leave a lasting impression. Its premise, its writing, its score and its characters all culminate in a film that’s had a huge impact of many people’s childhood, cinema experiences and exposure to sharks (an unfortunate one during the time of the film’s release). If I’d have been cheap, I would have simply stuck the three leads together because of the fantastic chemistry and “bromance” between them. But narrowing it down, Hooper’s charming and humorous charisma just resonates with me more on a personal level and is one taps into my “inner child” as a shark-lover. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

RespawningCouch Podcast: Audio Review: Pacific Rim (Spoiler Alert)

This week Jack and Nick frantically argue about Pacific Rim or "Robots Vs Monsters". Does it fulfil childhood fantasies? Or is it a giant mess of averageness? 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Thank You Ryan Davis

Giant Bomb's Ryan Davis passed away at the age of 34. I never personally knew Ryan, but I, like the entirety of the Giant Bomb Community, felt like I did. His stories, opinions and bellowing laugh provided years of entertainment that will never be forgotten and will continue to be cherished. In this "mini-podcast" I offer my thoughts on an amazing individual who inspired this podcast, and reignited my love in gaming. 

My condolences and sympathy go out to his family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you Ryan Davis.

Monday, 8 July 2013

RespawningCouch Podcast: Audio Review: A Field in England

After much delay I finally get round to reviewing a film, emphasis on the "review". This time I attempt to make sense of Ben Wheatley's A Field in England whilst dealing with extreme temperatures and hay-fever. Apologies for the "allover" nature of the review, which ironically mirrors the film. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Cinema Reviews (?)

I graduated from the University of Nottingham back in 2012. A year on and I’ve not really matured from the laid-back student of those good old times. My current and temporary job, until next year when I’ll be flying off to Japan, is that I’m a “Sales Assistant” for a fairly well-known High Street store in the UK. My job focusses on this idea of “Consumer Satisfaction” and we’re essentially brainwashed into seeing everything through the eyes of the customer. Over the numerous months I’ve been working there, I’ve come to view the retail world in a rather more critical/cynical manner. From crappy service at Tesco, to awesome discussions at Jumbo Records, I arguably now take this rather too seriously. You may be thinking “Jack even more critical? That’s not possible” and “What has this got to do with films and stuff?”. 

Well, with ticket prices going through the roof I feel that cinemas need to up their game on the “cinema experience”. I’m not talking about IMAX or 3D, but rather the atmosphere, staff, film diversity and general quality. With the film industry struggling to attract a consistent base of customers, I’ve unfortunately seen numerous cinemas close down. My earliest memories of films in general came from childhood birthday parties and Friday evenings. After a meal at Pizza Hut, we’d simply go to our local cinema and watch everything from Batman and Robin to Toy Story. I’m still an strong advocate for going to the cinema and spending the £6 to see Jaws even when its on ITV4 every-week. The giant screen, the loud sound system, a pint in one hand (in selected theatres) and a bag of popcorn in the other, there’s something quintessentially satisfying when watching The Avengers or Hot Fuzz in a packed audience. 

But after the collapse of common courtesy and general manners in regards to both members of staff and as a customer, it’s increasingly become a frustrating affair which distracts from the actual film. Even if I’ve seen the greatest film ever made, I still have this nagging sensation in the back of my head that remembers the uncomfortable seats or the irritating smugness of staff.  I’ve been to the UK’s smallest cinema to the barrage of multiplexes that occupy our ring roads and retail parks. All range in prices, size and more importantly quality.  Lousy service at ticket desks, or amazing Q&A sessions with directors and actors, leave strong and lasting impressions on that particular cinema. I’ve come to expect a lot more now from cinemas and so too do many others. 

Over the next “few” blog posts I intend to share my thoughts on the cinemas I’ve visited from York to Japan. A “Review of Cinemas”, you could say. This may sound like a rather mundane and questionable excuse to post actually content on this blog, but with my wallet increasingly questioning VALUE and some lousy cinema experiences, I’d thought it might be interesting to put fingers to keyboard.