Archive for September, 2013

Sadly, the poet Dante was never this bad-ass.

If you’ve been paying attention to the latest goings-on in Hollywood, you’ll see that things are really ‘hotting up’ (see what I did there?) for the proposed adaptation of Dante’s Inferno. If not, then I just told you.

Dante’s Inferno was a video game released in 2010 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP, based on the epic poem by Dante Alighieri. It follows the story of the Templar knight, Dante, making his way through the nine circles of Hell to reclaim the soul of his beloved Beatrice from the clutches of evil Lucifer (the Devil, for those people who don’t read). I loved this game when it came out – the vision of each circle of Hell (Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and, Treachery) was unique and visceral. Sadly, whilst the artwork of the game was fantastic, the game itself turned into just another button-bashing fiasco.

Now, it transpires that Universal (who bought the game rights seven years ago) are wanting to turn this game into a film, to be helmed by Fede Alvarez (the chap behind the brilliant remake of the equally brilliant Evil Dead) and the script is to be penned by Jay Basu (who has written Monsters: Dark Continent – due to be released in 2014).

Remember when you stole a chip off someone’s plate? Well this is what awaits you in Hell…

This is not the first film adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, however. EA released Dante’s Inferno: The Animated Epic to tie-in with the game back in 2010. The film was split into several parts, with each being animated and designed by a different director. Commercially, it was not that much of a hit – but in terms of quality of film and accuracy when compared to the game, it scores very highly.

Personally, I am very excited for this film – if they do it right, then the movie will be a grotesque vision of Hell, much like the game offered. Oh, and hopefully it won’t be in 3D.

There’s no release date as of yet, but if it follows in the footsteps of all the other video game movies, we can expect it to be released…never.

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So what do you think? If you’ve played the game, how do you feel about a potential film adaptation? If you haven’t played the game, then what are you waiting for? GO GO GO!

Tom

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A few weeks ago, you’ll remember that a teaser trailer was posted online by J.J. Abrams’ company ‘Bad Robot’ – advertising Abrams’ new project. For more info, see this post. The Internet went into speculation mode: people thought it was for a new TV show, a new film, or even a trailer for Star Wars VII. Well, it has been revealed that it was a trailer for (as many suspected) Abrams’ new book simply titled S. You can watch the second trailer, released a few days ago, below:

Abrams has revealed a little more about this novel and, from first impressions, it’s looking like a good one. Co-written by Doug Dorst (who shot to fame with his novel Alive in Necropolis) it apparently is a book within a book. Confused? You should be. The official synopsis of is:

“One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire.

A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.

The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.

The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him.

The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.”

So, basically, two stories are happening at once: there’s the printed text of the novel itself; and, the handwritten notes in the margin that tells the story of this ‘young woman’ and the ‘stranger’. Colour me intrigued. Abrams says that included in the book will be postcards, photographs, maps and newspaper clippings (physical copies, not just illustrations) that enhances the story between the two readers.

So what do you think? Personally I’m very excited about this book, and as a fan of J.J. Abrams’ work, I’m hoping that doesn’t disappoint. But if it all ends in a church (or ‘purgatory’ for that matter) I’ll be coming for you, J.J!

Tom

So here we are for Part II of the list of some of my favourite tracking shots – if you haven’t already done so, check out Part I in which I cover numbers 1 – 3!

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4. Tarantino films

Quentin Tarantino is famous for his dialogue-heavy scenes – just look at the opening of Reservoir Dogs – and the camera, although it remains running for a lengthy period of time, it stays relatively static. These aren’t technically ‘tracking shots’ just lengthier conversations, I guess. Take this scene from Pulp Fiction, where the camera follows Vincent Vega’s entrance into the theme restaurant ‘Jack Rabbit Slims’. Notice how it’s almost reminiscent of the club scene from Goodfellas.

It’s shots like this that make me pay extra attention to the extras in the background, as it’s them that make the scene more believable. There’s another little tracking shot later on in the film where Butch (played by Bruce Willis) goes back to his flat to get his father’s watch. Now this clip is nothing spectacular in terms of cinematic achievement, it’s just a nice streamlined scene. By choosing not to cut at all during his ‘walk’ it just makes it all the more interesting.

N.B. I feel as though I should put a ‘This Contains Strong Language’ warning at the top of this section, but it’s Tarantino – what did you expect?

Here’s a clip from Kill Bill: Vol. I that I like as I think it’s quite clever. Here we have Beatrix Kiddo (sorry if I spoilt the name for you) entering the House of Blue Leaves where O-Ren Ishi is. What this scene manages to do is show us all the different interlinking characters we have in play: Beatrix, the proprietors of the nightclub and Sofie Fatale. All this set to the infuriatingly catchy ‘Woo Hoo’ by The 5.6.7.8’s (as themselves) plus a whole dancefloor full of Japanese people shaking want their mammas gave them. Brilliant.

5. The Protector (Tom-Yum-Goong)

Martial arts films are awesome. I love watching kick-ass fights (see The Raid for insane fights) done by brilliant martial artists. But what dispapoints me is when films have these professional fighters but don’t make the most of them: they either have really weak fight scenes, or make the scenes so cut up that you can’t tell what’s going on. If these guys can just fight for 5 minutes uninterrupted, then why not set up a camera and let them at each other. And that is exactly what Tony Jaa (Google him, this guy is the business) was allowed to do. For this next clip, taken from the film The Protector, I don’t even know the premise. All I suppose I can say is it features Tony Jaa kicking the proverbial shit out of people in a hotel lobby. It’s beautiful.

6. Music videos

Music videos are an artform by their own right. Gone are the days when a music video used to be the band simply playing their song, perhaps interspliced with some storyline related to the lyrics. Nowadays music videos are weird, scary and are considered to be ‘mini-movies’ in themselves. Thanks, Lady Gaga.

Tracking shots have been used during dance numbers for many years now – some of the greats like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire demanded to film some of their dances in just one take: else what would be the point?

This first music video is for the song ‘Bad Motherf***er’ by Biting Elbows. And it is freakin’ awesome. It’s first person POV of a man escaping from some people that want to kill him. Seriously, you should check this out:

The next video is a little more sedate. It is for the brilliant electroswing (again, Google it) song ‘Sing Sing Sing’ by Jazzbit. The music video itself is sort of a combination of the scenes I’ve mentioned from Goodfellas and Kill Bill: Vol. I – just one long tracking shot through a nightclub showing different people’s perspectives. Check it out below:

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So there you have it: my little list of tracking shots that I think are list-worthy. I hope you enjoyed watching the many clips I’ve posted – if you have any more tracking shots you’ve seen that you think are good then leave a comment! And, while you’re here, why not ‘Like’ Twisted Fish on Facebook? It’s just on the left there? You see it? That’s right, just press that little ‘Like’ button. Now you may leave.

Till next time, folks!

Tom

Yesterday, director Alfonso Cuaron released a new trailer for his film Gravity. Cuaron is the chap behind films such as Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the one everyone likes), and that God-awful remake of Great Expectations. Critics have been blown away by Gravity – the story of an astronaut (played by Sandra Bullock) who is stranded in space. From first premises, that sounds lame. What will make it sound lamer is that she has to be rescued by George Clooney. All this aside, watch the trailer below and see what you think.

The first thing you will probably notice is that there’s not a lot of cuts, it’s far more streamlined than a traditional scene. In fact, the opening shot of Gravity is reportedly one long take lasting 17 minutes. That’s pretty impressive. It also brings in the subject of today’s post: tracking shots. Basically, a tracking shot is like the one seen in the trailer for Gravity – it’s a long piece of footage with no breaks (‘cuts’). You may be asking, ‘So what? What’s the deal? Why all the fuss?’ but just consider how much work has to go into setting up one of those shots: everything has to be in the right place, everyone has to remember their cues and come in on the right time, everything has to be perfect. This is why some directors tend to shy away from them, but when they do include them in film, it just makes them more impressive. Today and tomorrow, I’ll be looking at some of my favourite tracking shots in film. Enjoy!

1. Children of Men

As I’ve mentioned above, Children of Men is another one of Alfonso Cuaron’s films – if you haven’t seen it then DROP EVERYTHING AND BUY THIS FILM! It’s fantastic. Plus, it has a whole heap of tracking shots in it. Take the opening of the film, for instance:

There are so many potential places for ‘cuts’ in that sequence – it could have made it a lot easier to film, in terms of the explosion – but the fact that it’s one straight piece of footage just makes it that much more visceral. And it makes for a brilliant opening to the film.

Later on in the film there is, arguably, one of the best tracking shots in modern film. It involves cars, fire, motorcycles, ping-pong balls, and Julianne Moore getting shot. Take a look:

Just think how many things had to go right to make that shot: the motorcycles, the blood, the reactions, the camera movements. It’s mind-boggling. They even released a behind-the-scenes video to show just how they managed to achieve this complex shot.

2. Goodfellas

This film is a classic, one of director Martin Scorcese’s greats. Practically everyone has seen (or is about to see, after reading this) this film. There’s a brilliant example of a tracking shot as Henry makes his way into the club. Enjoy.

3. Hugo

This is another of Scorcese’s films – critics have called it ‘an extravagant, elegant fantasy’ and have praised its use of technology and 3D. Now, this next clip isn’t an exceprt from the film, but rather a behind-the-scenes look at how the tracking shot was accomplished. It’s still definitely worth a watch.

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It suddenly occured to me how ‘YouTube’-heavy this post will be, so I’ve decided to split it into two parts. Stick around for Part II tomorrow for more tacking shot goodness!

Tom

Seeing as it’s my brothers’ first day back at school today, and I myself will be starting my new University course next week, I thought I’d share some hints and tips on the dreaded ‘first day’. It is always daunting moving into a new working environment – whether it be a new school/university or starting a new job. The prospect of meeting new people for the first time and having them instantly judge you is never an exciting thought, but fear not! Having done the whole ‘first day’ routine many many times in the past (I changed schools a lot with my dad being in the RAF), I have (mentally) compiled a list of do’s and don’t’s on how to make your first day as semi-painless as possible (I cannot guarantee it will be totally pain-free, however). Enjoy!

*WARNING* This post contains heavy use of sarcasm.

‘Quirky and awkward’ make for a terrible first impression. Sorry, Michael.

1. DO NOT, under any circumstances, be yourself.

Now, I know that may seem a strange bit of advice to say straight away. After all, everyone’s mum has always told them to ‘be yourself and everyone will like you for who you are’. Well here’s the thing: you’re probably not a likeable person at first. Don’t worry, I’m not either. My first impression is awkward, arrogant, sarcastic and just a little too handsome. So that’s  why I suppress my ‘real’ self until I feel that others know me well enough to cope with it. That’s not to say I’m a massive douchebag once you get to know me, I’m just not as ‘flat’ as my first impression exudes. So that is my advice to you – suppress yourself. Resist the urge to shout ‘that’s what she said’ or call each other ‘brah’. Just be plain and boring, at least until the first day is over, and then you can slowly ease people into you (that IS what she said).

2. Stay away from all cliques. 

Life is full of cliques, especially at school: there’s the ‘cool’ kids, the ‘sporty’ kids, the ‘nerdy’ kids, the ‘indie’ kids, the ‘suck-ups’, the ‘stoners’, the ‘musical’ kids, the ‘arty’ kids, the ‘other’ kids…the list goes on. Now these cliques take time to form as slowly the like-minded people bond over the same things – ‘You play sports? play sports! We should be friends!’; ‘You wear chinos and hipster glasses? So do we! Come join our club!’; ‘Hey, we like drugs, let’s do them together!’. The trick on your first day is not to identify yourself as ‘one of those kids’: don’t turn up on your first day singing showtunes or smoking a drug cigarette. Remain as ambiguous as possible and then, over time, let your natural-ness flow and a clique will present itself to you, for example, my entry into the ‘Handsome Society’ (‘SexySoc’ at uni). If, after 7 years, this still hasn’t happened to you, get a fucking hobby.

What started with the simple offering of an aubergine, turned into a 3 year long psycho-sexual relationship. You have been warned!

3. Don’t be helpful.

Just like the first tip, this may seem strange, but if you allow me to explain it will all make sense. See, human beings are creatures of habit – that’s why we have daily routines and schedules, we sit in the same places or next to the same people, we eat the same foods and drinks. So if you in all your helpfulness offer someone a pen on your first day, that person will forever remember you as ‘the person who has the spare pen’ and is likely to ask you for another or worse, tell others about your spare pen and then, before you know it, you’ll have an army of people wanting to borrow your spare pen. So here’s the idea – don’t offer to go out of your way to help someone on the first day: don’t offer pens, don’t lend money, don’t offer to do someone’s homework (that should be rule 1 in general). Of course, if someone is dying then by all means offer them help – don’t be a total bastard.

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So there are a few hints and tips on how to make your first day go as smoothly as possible. I appreciate that this is more a list of don’t’s rather than a list of do’s and don’t’s, but hey ho. If you have any tips on how to survive your first day then please leave a comment below!

Also, as many of you are probably aware, Twisted Fish is now on Facebook! So if you’re feeling frugal (or even if you aren’t) then give it a ‘Like’ by clicking the button on the left-had side of the page, or you can go to https://www.facebook.com/TwistedFishBlog and click ‘Like’!

Tom