A review of Beauty and the beast.

On the weekend where the Irish celebrate our welsh, snake banishing patron saint by getting blind drunk, what movies does one go to see? Turns out Hollywood’s answer is a little underwhelming, a remake of a Disney classic, a remake of King Kong from the thirties and a movie by American comedian Jordan Peele.

Beauty and the beast is the latest live action film from the super media conglomerate known as Disney. Despite George Lucas giving the company the title of “White slavers” they have continued to find success in their recent string of live action remakes of their vast library of classic animated feature films from the 20th century. The move away from kitsch subject matter like The lone ranger and into adapting old classics like Beauty and the beast has opened up a far more viable audience of young children and middle age women who are often under-served by a Hollywood that continues to chase the young male demographic.

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Watching the film with its target audience gives an interesting insight into the film’s appeal to families and nostalgia seekers, it kept them from screaming and running around or looking into their phones. Instead they seemed to be mostly enthralled by the singing and over the top visuals. For me though, I would prefer a far more creatively impressive fusion of live action and traditional hand-drawn animation as seen in Who framed Roger Rabbit. Yet another CGI driven film where Emma Watson struggles to interact with all the green-screen characters she cannot see, is not something that could be given top marks for effort. However there is some great voice acting talent such as Ian Mc Kellan and Ewan McGregor, who give life to their inanimate characters.

In fact the film reeks of the smell of ‘Passable’. It is a very faithful adaptation of a classic story. The story itself is perhaps the most unassumingly odd thing about the film, an allegory for the process in which women should be attracted to wild and unruly men so they can soften and tame them. This is not a message that really melds well with the female liberation slant that shows its head from time to time in the film. Whether the writers knew about about the allegorical meaning of “Beauty and the beast” is inconsequential. What does matter is that the media did not care and decided the film was automatically politically correct for having a gay male caricature for comic relief, in the foreground of the film’s plot.

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In conclusion to this review, Emma Watson was foolish to pass up La La Land for this. I doubt she had more fun on this set than she would have in Damien Chazelle’s camp, however I do not doubt she was paid a pretty penny to do this picture. As for recommending this to the regular viewer, go see “Get out” instead which I will talk about at some stage but not before I talk about  John Carpenter, who I think Jordan Peele copies and builds upon in many ways. Finally, for families; go watch the original animated film first before seeing this.

Thanks for reading.

Peter Allen.

 

Eight years on, what has changed?

When I found out a few days ago that it had been eight years since Liverpool knocked Real Madrid out of the champions league after cruising to a 5-0 aggregate win, I got a bit of a shock. It’s a bit sad really, from a Liverpool fans point of view to think it has been this long since we last properly challenged in the champions league, having being knocked out in the group stages in both the 09/10 season and 14/15 season, which simply isn’t good enough for a club like Liverpool. I don’t think any Liverpool fan could have predicted back then how little success we would have in the following eight years.

At the time we were definitely one of the best sides in Europe. We had the likes of Gerrard, Alonso, Torres, Mascherano, and Carragher, even some of the lesser players back then were a lot better than most of our players in the following years. But for me the most important thing was the manager, Rafael Benitez. When it came to big European games he knew how to get a result even if the odds were against us. He pretty much put Liverpool back on the map in European football, after winning the champions league in his first season. After that season all Liverpool fans had become accustomed to big European nights again, something that is quite rare nowadays.1413873308316_wps_1_Rafael_Benitez_Liverpool_

Despite there being massive differences to the Liverpool team now and the Liverpool team eight years ago, there are also a few scary similarities. In the 2008/09 season, despite doing the double over Manchester United, Liverpool still finished second, just four points behind United. And after being top of the table at Christmas, dropping points against the smaller teams is what ultimately cost Liverpool. Eight years later and the exact same things are happening. The current Liverpool team have been slated all season for being up for the big games but then having a mentality problem against the smaller teams, but any Liverpool fan would tell you that this isn’t really anything new, and that we have always struggled against weaker opposition for some unknown reason. So in that sense, not a lot has changed in eight years.

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The reality is, in the last eight years Liverpool have won one trophy, the league cup in the 2011/12 season. The cup is often called a Micky mouse cup, but any Liverpool fan would tell you how happy they were with winning it, simply because it had been so long since anything good had happened at Liverpool, and for me this was the biggest change in the last eight years. As fans we went from expecting big trophies and challenging on all fronts, to being happy with a league cup, and almost accepting mediocrity, something that should never happen at a club of this size. By 2011 Benitez had been sacked and Alonso, Mascherano, and Torres had all left, which left Liverpool looking a totally different team than the one that could beat the likes of Real Madrid easily. Roy Hodgsons short stint certainly didn’t help either. In my opinion that has to be seen as one of our lowest points ever as a club.

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When Kenny Dalglish came back he certainly did lift morale, won a cup, and got us to another cup final, but ultimately wasn’t good enough. Brendan Rodgers was the next man to be in charge, and to be fair I was a fan of him. After two seasons we were back in the champions league and we had almost won the league in 2013/14 after a remarkable season, but just as you think we are back on track, Luis Suarez leaves for Barcelona, and we have a miserable season, seeing us get knocked out in the group stage of the champions league and finishing sixth in the league. The following season Rodgers was sacked in October and replaced with the man who is in charge now, Jürgen Klopp. The main goal for him has to be get Liverpool back to the way they were challenging eight years. Last season we saw a bit of that, beating the likes of Manchester United and Dortmund in the Europa league, but unfortunately losing in the final to Sevilla. Winning that would have meant champions league football would have been back at Anfield, but it wasn’t to be. On Klopps arrival he said he wanted Liverpool fans to change from doubters to believers, despite losing two cup finals and no real success under Klopp yet, there certainly has been massive improvement and a big change in the mind-set of Liverpool fans. The race for top four hasn’t exactly been straightforward for Liverpool this season but we are in a decent position going into the last ten games of the season, and I think with Klopp in charge it isn’t long before we see Liverpool challenging on all fronts like they were eight years ago.

jurgen-klopp-liverpool_1Nathan O’Connell.

A Clockwork Orange: An ultra-violent classic.

This film is certainly one of a kind. I’m not sure if there is another even a small bit like it, which is what makes it so unique. Despite this, Stanley Kubrick’s classic is very controversial. It was the center of a lot of controversy when it came out in 1971, and personally I think it would still cause a lot of controversy if it came out in this day and age. I’m sure this film would definitely divide opinions, but it is definitely one film that is  worth watching.

The film is set in a future, dystopian Britain, and the story is told through the main character Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell). Alex is accompanied by his three ‘droogs’, Pete, Georgie, and Dim. Their idea of fun is violence, rape, and all sorts of crime. The film begins with the four drinking in the ‘korova milkbar’. The milk acting as a stimulant for the ultra-violence they had planned. This was basically a hobby of the youth of this future Britain.

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The violence in ‘A clockwork orange’ is extreme. There are multiple implied rapes, murders of homeless people and similar acts of debauchery throughout the film. Themes of sex are prevalent within S.K’s films from the phallic bombs in ‘Dr.strangelove’, to the entirety of Eyes Wide Shut and Lolita. The appearance of extreme sexual themes in this film could perhaps be attributed to the censoring S.K had to put up with during the production of ‘Lolita’, where much of the sexual taboos intrinsic to that particular story was contextualized instead of shown outright to the audience. Therefore an underlying contempt of the government in its quest to shield its citizens from free thought and expression is present in this film.

Unlike Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ which follows the adventure of a passive member of a authoritarian nanny state, Clockwork portrays an anarchist who riles against it. Alex is a smart young lad who just likes a bit of violence, he does not seem to be aware of the context of right and wrong, good and evil. This was S.K’s main goal with the film, to talk about free will and how much rules are linked to our humanity and civility. If we are deprived of a choice do we become as the film suggests ‘A Clockwork Orange‘?

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S.K does at least entertain the idea that watching violent images and content can distance the viewer from real life violence, for instance Alex chants the the song”Singing in the rain” and dances like Gene Kelly in the musical of the same name, whilst taking part in a gang rape. Other scenes such as when Alex is subjected to images of sex and violence for an extended period, he remarks it looks so much more real on a television screen. However in a society where exposure to such things is limited, the government can make use of such individuals, who’s heightened psychopathic nature can be used to control the less Machiavellian public.

The advanced themes of the film were written off by Roger Ebert who called it an “Idealogical mess” and gave it 2 out of 4 stars. Even if one did not resonate with the themes, one can still appreciate the fierce skill of Stanley Kubrick behind the camera. The compositions of each scene are top notch and the famous attention for detail is present to allow for the allegory and hidden meanings that fans of Kubrick like to tease from every frame. Because S.K believed film to be photography at 24 frames per second, the quality of the cinematography is perhaps unmatched by any other director.

Even if one were to disregard the film for being ‘pretentious’ This humble critic would appeal to your sensibilities and hope you at least consider the immense effort and skill that went into the production of an undeniable classic like this film.

Thanks for reading.

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Nathan O’Connell