Posts Tagged ‘cinema’

Excusing the fact that we’re a quarter of the way into the following year: 2018 in Cinema!

Best: Love, Simon

Don’t get me wrong: Love, Simon isn’t a “great” movie. It is, in fact, a pretty standard teen rom-com, in the vein of every other teen rom-com I grew up with, except in one regard: the lead character in this one is gay. More pertinently, it’s the first ever movie released by a major Hollywood studio to focus on a gay teen romance; a fact that’s easy to overlook unless you’re in the minority of people who rarely, if ever, got to see themselves represented in popular media.

It probably goes without saying that growing up gay in Scotland during the ’90s and early 2000s was a less than stellar experience. When the word has been hurled at you as an insult for years before you’ve even recognised that part of yourself, it can be damaging in ways that don’t become apparent until much later. Absurd as it seems now, by my early teens I’d internalised so much hatred that I genuinely believed only terrible, hideous people could be gay; and it wasn’t until I caught an episode of (of all things) Dawson’s Creek in a hotel room in Florida that I realised this didn’t have to be the case. Seeing Kerr Smith play handsome, regular, gay teenager Jack (and excusing the fact that the actor was on the cusp of turning 30) was revelatory; and highlighted what I now know, as an adult, to be the power of representation. Done poorly, it smacks of tokenism and checking a box to fulfil a diversity requirement. (Done terribly, it’s JK Rowling claiming to have created a gay character in Dumbledore without ever acknowledging it in her published work but still expecting the accolades for her retroactive inclusivity.) But done well, it’s the difference between feeling isolated in a world that seems violently antagonist to your existence, and realising that there’s a future out there in which you can find happiness with someone who loves like you. (Not for nothing: Dawson’s Creek also featured the first passionate kiss between two men to ever be shown on prime time television.)

You only have to look at the toxic political debate surrounding LGBTQ+ rights being taught in UK schools right now to see that we haven’t come nearly as far as we should have in the last two decades. (Though, as a matter of national pride, it’s worth noting that Scotland recently became the first country in the world to embed it in the school curriculum). With queer youth still at a disproportionate risk of suicide, homelessness and mental illness, the importance of positive representation in media can’t be overstated; especially when our own movies would seem to indicate that happy endings are few and far between (see: the all too-prevalent “Bury Your Gays” trope). Truth be told, I’d fully braced myself for Love, Simon to follow suit. At the end of the movie, the titular Simon sits alone on a ferris wheel, having openly declared his desire to meet his anonymous online romance “Blue” but knowing that the latter might not be ready to reveal himself. “I deserve a great love story,” writes Simon, but the weight of gay cinema – from Brokeback Mountain to Weekend – tells us otherwise. Indeed, for one brief moment, it really feels like Simon is destined to be yet another victim in the cinematic annuls of queer heartbreak. Only (spoiler alert), he’s not! United at last, the two high-school boys rise to the peak of the ferris wheel and share their first kiss, and it made me cry every single time I saw it in the cinema: with happiness, with relief, and maybe with something approaching sadness for the high school experience I was never allowed to have but which I truly hope will be the norm for generations that follow.

It’s not going to change the hearts and minds of every viewer (our initial viewing was part of an advanced screening where audiences see a movie ahead of its general release but aren’t told which film it’ll be beforehand. There were at least 10 walkouts within the first 5 minutes of Love, Simon). But it’s the movie I wish could have existed for me as a teenager and which I’m so grateful exists for teenagers right now: the the one that tells that terrified little gay boy I used to be that his love story can have a happy ending.

Runner-Up: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Like a comic book come to life: totally unique visual language; loving homage to the character in all its incarnations; honestly the best Spider-Man movie in years and easily the best superhero movie of 2018.

Worst: Life of the Party

Delivering on neither of the nouns in its title, this painfully anodyne “comedy” – penned by Melissa McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone – stumbles from one scene to another with seemingly no direction or momentum, and has the dubious honour of producing not one character who feels like a believably rendered human being. The sole highlight was a hazing scene midway through when John – sensing my mounting exasperation at the movie as a whole – was trying desperately to contain his mirth before exploding into such uncontrollable laughter that the entire row was shaking for about five minutes after it was already over.

Runner-Up: Peter Rabbit

You know it’s grim when filmmakers have made an animated rabbit so detestable that you’re wishing for a sequel to Watership Down.

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Headshots are the business card of the digital age, and an important part of your branding. This set of images was created with the London office of global film distributor Park Circus. Owing to inclement weather (ironic given that we had an unprecedented day of full, glorious sunshine when photographing the Glasgow team!), we shot a mixture of indoor images at the company’s modern Soho office, and a (covered) outdoor space at nearby Kingly Court. In spite of the unscheduled downpour, we were able to create these elegant, cinematic portraits to represent the team and the creative industry in which they work.

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Headshots don’t have to be boring! Last month I had the opportunity to work with global film distributor Park Circus, updating the staff photos for their Glasgow and London offices; and together, we were able to create distinctive, professional portraits that were as creative as the team themselves.

Your image is the first thing visitors to a website or LinkedIn profile will see, so if you’re looking to invest in a great portrait for your online presence, get in touch!

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I recently had the pleasure of working with Nick Varley: CEO and co-founder of global film distributor Park Circus.

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So we’re more than halfway through 2018, and it occurs to me I still didn’t do my movie write-up for last year. In “brief”:

Best: Wonder Woman

I grew up on a diet of ass-kicking women. If I was picking up a controller, it was to play Chun-Li, Sonya Blade or Lara Croft. If I was turning on the TV, it was to watch She-Ra, Xena, Buffy or Alias. There are few things I’d rather watch on screen than a strong female lead, and – so predisposed – watch Wonder Woman I did: multiple times at the cinema, and a whole bunch since on blu-ray. But it would be selling it short to label WW as “the female superhero movie” and not discuss its cultural impact: that in an industry which rarely affords the opportunity to either, a female-led, female-directed picture was the highest-rated superhero movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes and the highest-grossing superhero origin movie ever. (Black Panther – equally, but differently important – has since taken the titles, but WW is still firmly in 2nd place.)

Hollywood has always viewed the issue with female superhero movies as something inherent to the genre; overlooking the fact that their critical and commercial failures have invariably been a result of complete mishandling; leaving them in a no-man’s land where their general ineptitude is a hard sell to audiences of any gender. (The fact that I love Halle Berry’s Catwoman is not a compliment: merely evidence that placing her opposite a supervillainous Sharon Stone empowered by radioactive moisturiser results in a movie that can only be enjoyed by gay men.) Wonder Woman was able to buck this trend because it was taken seriously by its writing team, director and cast; it didn’t rely on over-sexualisation (indeed, the only nudity in the entire movie belongs to Chris Pine); and Gal Gadot’s pitch-perfect, immediately-endearing balance of earnest conviction and ass-kicking prowess carries the film from beginning to end; shattering Nazis, glass ceilings and blockbuster records in the process.

An image that stands out as the perfect metaphor for the entire film’s creation is Diana marching through the trenches of WWI and declaring that she will cross the unbridgeable warzone known as No Man’s Land (!) to free the occupied Belgian hamlet of Veld. “It means no man can cross it,” rebukes Chris Pine’s character, as – moments later – she emerges for the first time in full Wonder Woman regalia, deflecting machine gun and cannon fire, carving a path for the troops and declaring, in an unspoken echo of Éowyn before her: “I am no man.” Director Patty Jenkins reportedly faced pressure to remove the scene on account of executives failing to understand its importance, and the fact that it not only remains in the finished product but is arguably the most iconic, empowering scene of the whole piece is surely evidence, as if more was needed, that studios don’t always know what’s best for them.

As the sole redeeming factor of Batman v Superman, it’s a shame that the character of Wonder Woman couldn’t carry the DC Expanded Universe over its next stumbling block in Justice League; but the movie has already served as a vanguard for future entries in the pantheon of superheroine cinema (paving the way for Captain Marvel and more to come), and embodies the spirit of female empowerment that continues to sweep through Hollywood today.

Honourable Mentions:

Spoilt for choice, I’d probably narrow it down to Moonlight, Lion, A Monster Calls and Hidden Figures, with top honours going to the all-round excellent Call Me By Your Name.

Worst: La La Land

That this trash-heap of a movie was nominated for any Oscars is inexplicable to me, but least of all for best sound editing when I was struggling to discern if the opening number had lyrics. Especially disappointing because I love both musicals and Emma Stone, neither of the leads ultimately had the vocal or dance skills to carry the picture, and the filmmmakers’ subsequent statement that “it was never supposed to be perfect. And I think it would have lost some of its charm and also its accessibility to those who watch it if it had been absolutely perfect” is a stretch at best. Amost an hour into the movie – as we watched Ryan Gosling’s increasingly detestable character mansplain jazz to Emma Stone – John turned to me and asked, “Can we leave?”

We did, and I’ve never been more grateful.

(Dis)honourable Mention:

It Comes At Night. Unless the eponymous “it” is a) the film’s plot, or b) the inexorable sense of my impending death creeping closer as the minutes I waste on this film tick by, I think I missed the point.

Halloween at the Kelvingrove might have been an unmitigated disaster, but Psycho Live with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was incredible. 🚿🔪🎻🎶

And, because there were no rows A or B, we inadvertently had front-row seats!

“Do you like scary movies?” 😱📞

Halloween 2-in-1: this year, I went as Drew Barrymore and Ghostface! 🎃

It’s a scream, baby! 🍿🔪👻