Christopher Nolan’s Following (1998) Movie Review

Following

There are feature film debuts by big famous directors that always shine towards the audience. Following is one of them. It shines because it has a very complicated film structure for a no budget film.

follow3-thumb-510x382-22953
The film is about a struggling unemployed writer named Bill. He is trying to look for inspiration for his book. To do that, he follows strangers on the busy streets of London. That gets out of hand, when he meets a man named Cobb. That’s all I am going to write about the plot, because I want you to see this movie as fresh as you possibly can.

following (2)

 

The film stars unknown actors, who are actually real life friends of Christopher Nolan. They did the necessary no budget filmmaking and got to tell a great story.

 

The first time I saw Following was back in 2010, right after I saw Inception on the big screen for the first time in July 2010. The reason I saw this film is because I fell in love with Christopher Nolan movies. I fell in love on how he approaches on telling a story.

 

The film conforms to the disrupted narrative by telling the story in different sections. So there is one scene where it involves Bill as a struggling writer and then we see him as this well suited thief. It is not a spoiler as it happens in the first fifteen minutes.

following-3

The cinematography is very shaky and hand held. That is due to with the no budget filmmaking. Christopher Nolan stated in the DVD commentary that he hold the camera himself. It is also shot entirely in black and white as well. This works effectively for giving the noir look of the film. As you have two anti heroes (Bill and Cobb) and a femme fatale. It conforms to the noir genre, as it involves those character archetypes.

 

Nolan admitted of filming in black and white is to help with lighting. It is so amazing that even a slight use of black and white can help make the film work entirely. There are scenes involving a club and many houses. Since it is no budget filmmaking, they had no lighting, so Nolan had no choice but to film in black and white. It works to give the noir look, so Nolan was thankful for that.

following-21

 

I found it interesting on how Christopher Nolan got inspired for writing the script for this film. He said that his house got burgled and he wondered what where they were thinking when they were robbing the house. From then on, he got inspired that from that in order to write the script. I found that so inspiring, because being an aspiring filmmaker myself makes you appreciate on how inspiration can hit you at such desperate matters.

 

Also, cannot forget that the character of the thief in this movie is named Cobb. Coincidentally, Inception also has a thief named Cobb. Maybe intentional, maybe coincidental, but is interesting to see that the name and character type exists in Nolan’s later film.

 

The soundtrack by David Julyan is also an important aspect of the movie. It gives the beautiful ambience of the film. It feels heavily mainstream to be honest. I didn’t see a British feel to it, despite the fact that the entire film was shot in Central London. I was so satisfied that it didn’t have the typical cliche Britishness involved such as football hooligans. If it did, then the film’s music score would have been more clubby and techno. When you hear the music, you can sense the similar ambience effect used in Nolan’s later films, especially The Dark Knight Trilogy. Coincidence? Maybe.

 

For a film that is just over an hour, it is paced very well. I was glued onto the screen as I wasn’t bored at all. This is why I admire Christopher Nolan as a director and as an auteur. His trademark are featured here for the first time of course, but you see them later on in his later movies. Main example being involving anti heroes as the leads. Batman in The Dark Knight Trilogy and Cobb from Inception are anti heroes.

Following (1)

Overall, this is a must see for all fans of Christopher Nolan and just film fans in general. If you love to be mind bended for a no budget, black and white film, then Following is definitely for you. Please do watch this film, if you love movies. It won’t disappoint you at all. Also, fun fact, watch out for the batman logo at the door. Found it very strange that you see that in a Nolan film and then seven years later, he directs Batman Begins. Again, it’s just curiosity that hits you, is it coincidental or not? Something to think about after you have seen the movie.

following41

4/5

Breakdown of Drive (2011) – SPOILER WARNING!

01_copy7_original

The following blog contains MAJOR SPOILERS. If you have not seen the 2011 film Drive, then please watch the film then come back to read the blog. It is pretty much a perfect film. It has Ryan Gosling for the ladies, and a lot of bloody violence for the gentlemen.

 

Let me start off this blog by stating that I absolutely adore Drive. It is one of my favourite films of all time and it is also one of the most inspiring films of all time. Why? There are many reasons but the two reasons in particular are the cinematography and sound.

 

The cinematography tells us a lot of things about the film. It is shot using this smooth and still types of shots. The wide establishing shots of Los Angeles are just breathtaking. It gives us the idea that it could be hell though.

drive2

 

From the opening shot, it delves in with so much. It is a smooth panning shot of The Driver talking on the phone to the robber who has asked for him to drive. The camera pans from him to the television. He is wearing the famous scorpion jacket which states that he is a person who should not be messed with. The scorpion symbolises that and we get it straight away. And with the game on television, states that he will use that as a distraction for the cops. He will use that game to help the robbers by parking his car at the stadium car park and he will escape. This is such a brilliant shot, because it helps establish the entire opening scene straight away.

1fbe4924af42061c49efd80222c2cad1

 

The film delves with robbery, violence, betrayal, sadness and greed. The characters in the film are filled with something hiding deep down inside of them.

large

 

Of course, the main one being The Driver himself (Ryan Gosling). We pretty much know nothing about him. We don’t know who he really is, where is he from and we don’t even get to know his real name. He is a character filled with enigmas. That makes the character for me even more terrifying. I found him terrifying when we first see him kill the two bad guys in that motel room. And of course later on, in the famous elevator scene. We see him at first in the opening of the movie as this normal everyday guy. He barely says a word throughout the movie which gives him more of an enigma of a character. I guess you could say that is blamed with the lack of character development. I am personally glad that they didn’t develop much on his character. If they did, then I would say that he would have been the cliche normal human being who has problems. And not what we see what is portrayed on screen.

drive-movie-screenshots1

 

When we first see The Driver with the two robbers at the opening scene of the film, we realise that it shot in the point of view of the driver. We never go outside of the car or the driver. This gives the huge amount of suspension that builds for the opening of the film. It gives the idea that he is a man on his own words and you do not want to mess with his rules. Again, with the enigmatic character of which this scene fully conforms. He says that he gives them a five minute window, and we notice that when he sets his watch for five minutes.

drive-movie-screenshots1

 

The soundtrack is another strong aspect for Drive. It is mainly the songs that are used in the film.

 

In the opening credits sequence, the song plays is Nightcall by Kavinsky. This indicates that what the character does. He picks up a night call and does the job. There is something inside of him and is hard to explain as said in the song. Again, gives the enigma of the character. Like who is he and what does he do?

 

For once scene, there is a song called A Real Hero by College and Electric Youth. That is the scene where The Driver shows Irene (Carrey Mulligan) something. That something being just a normal drive around the lake. The scene delves that The Driver is in fact a real human being as it says with the lyrics of the song.

6a8bbb5b549f3b679547039c0b8fa254

 

And there is the song Under Your Spell By Desire. It is in the scene where Standard (Oscar Isaac) who is Irene’s husband is released from prison. In the song, it says I don’t eat, I don’t sleep. This indicates that The Driver is there for Irene no matter what. These soundtracks are unique because they have hidden valued meanings which affect the film throughout. You would expect that in movies, but being a noir-ish thriller is very unlikely.

 

And that is another point I want to clear as well. Drive is a film that completely subverts conventions in the best possible way. The main one being the soundtrack. Even in the beginning, where it has this techno electronic type of music. It helps build suspense of the film with The Driver trying to help the robbers. And with when he is listening to the police scanner as well as he anticipates as he sits inside the car.

01_copy7_original

Another thing the film subverts is the use of pink for the title’s colour. It seems very unlikely to have that specific colour for this type of neo noir/thriller. I personally would have expected the colour red, to illustrate that the film revolves around bloody violence throughout. But, I am glad that they chose the colour pink, because the colour red seems to be a cliche colour for thrillers.

403083713

And, finally the best point I can conquer about when the film subverts conventions is including a villain who has human emotions. I know that sounds pretty weird to state, but I meant it in the best possible way. I mean for the scene, where Bernie (Albert Brooks), who looks terrifying mainly by having no eyebrows. But, after when he has killed Shannon (Bryan Cranston), we see him feeling sadness as he sits down after. This gives an instant idea that he is a human character who did what he had to do for his own benefits. I admire that highly due to making him look terrifying from the outside, but deep down from the inside he has feelings and emotions.

 

The film is filled with enigmatic meanings and messages. One in particular is when Bernie meets The Driver for the first time. The Driver says “My hands are a little dirty”, for which Bernie replies with “So are mine”. This gives the suggestion that these two have dark backgrounds and have done very bad things. We know that when we see The Driver brutally murdering that man in the famous elevator scene. And when Bernie murders Shannon of course.

drive_dirtyhandsclip_hd

Also, there is one scene, where The Driver is watching television with Benicio. They are watching a cartoon for which Benicio says the shark is a bad guy because he looks bad. For which The Driver replies “Aren’t there any good sharks?”. This made me realise that this is a metaphor for The Driver. He wants to be a good person and he is to Benicio and Irene for helping them out. But deep down he has done some bad things in his life. It is like a shark who is known as a bad predator. But is the shark meant to be bad or is it treated as bad? That makes that quote relevant to The Driver as he questions Benicio. It is like deep down he feels offended, but he tries to hide it like a shark.

drive

 

Overall, Drive is a film that will be known as a true film classic in my opinion. With its glorious cinematography and the fantastic soundtrack, Drive is a film that breaks all rules for a typical film. With the hidden themes through its dialogue, cinematography and soundtrack makes Drive unique of a film.

drive-movie-screenshots47

My Favourite Cinematographer?

My Favourite Cinematographer?

People always ask me, who is my favourite cinematographer? The answer is straight and simple. My favourite cinematographer is Roger Deakins. Why? Again, it is a simple answer and that is he knows how to make every frame of every shot look spectacular.

279191.1

 

I have been a huge fan of Roger Deakins, ever since when I saw No Country For Old Men. Which is the brilliant Oscar winning film by The Coen Brothers. I noticed that the shots he helps to create are smooth and still.

screenshot-lrg-04

 

Here are some of my personal favourite films that Roger Deakins was the cinematographer.

  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Fargo
  • Skyfall
  • The Big Lebowski
  • No Country For Old Men
  • Prisoners
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

 

I love how he uses the colour yellow very beautifully. It becomes an ambient colour for most of the films he shoots. Like in this shot from Skyfall. It looks beautiful with the fire giving this silhouette effect. It helps create an enigma for the character. Makes us think who he is. It gives an instant idea that he is the villain. This is mainly though lighting as he is covered in dark. It gives the metaphor that the darker you are, the more evil you are.

skyfall-trailer-screenshot-16

He films with mainly wide angle shots. Most of the shots he creates are mostly the colour yellow at night and blue during the day.  Gives the ambience for both day and night. It helps fit the mood and theme of the film.

Like this shot from Prisoners. It is very blue and gives this ambience of the film. It gives the gritty look and makes it seem realistic. It is a two shot as well and that gives an instant thought that this is an important conversation scene between two characters.

prisoners-large-8

 

He shoots with spherical lens to give this fish eye effect look of the film. I love it when he uses it frequently in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.

The-Assassination-of-Jesse-James-by-the-Coward-Robert-Ford-jeremy-renner-18446839-853-480

968full-the-assassination-of-jesse-james-by-the-coward-robert-ford-screenshot

The main reason why I would class Roger Deakins as my favourite cinematographer is that he knows what is required to make a perfect shot. He goes into detail from the mise en scene, the lighting, the actor of of course the shot itself.  I am amazed that how simple it looks but it sounds complicated to put it all together.

And the fact that he is British. He has proven that British talent is incredible when it comes to fillmmaking. And yet he has never won an Oscar. That doesn’t matter, as long as he makes us fans proud.

deakins2_620_110812

People who have inspired me – LS LOWRY

People who have inspired me – LS LOWRY

 

When I was ten years old, I went to a school trip to Salford to go to the Lowry Centre. We went to see the beautiful paintings by L.S. Lowry. He was a painter and at his finest a true artist.

 

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what to expect from this man. I just knew the really famous pictures such as of course the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. But when I saw a painting by Lowry, I was truly amazed at the detail that was involved. This painting here called Matchstick Men still remains my favourite painting by Lowry. The reason being that it is filled with enigmas.

 

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Arts/Arts_/Pictures/2012/11/1/1351773023260/LS-Lowrys-125th-birthday–001.jpg

 

The enigma of why they are all walking very oddly. The enigma of why football stadium exactly. What football team is it and what match is it? It is filled with these types of enigmas which truly makes this piece of art unique. It seems to have this plain look of it as well, which gives this snowy effect of it.

 

Lowry has been a huge inspiration of my filmmaking career because of creating an illusion with his paintings. He created an illusion that we can be immersed within a piece of art. I am truly amazed by that.

 

http://images.easyart.com/highres_images/easyart/1/0/104428.jpg

Why is Science Fiction my favourite genre?

Why is Science Fiction my favourite genre?

 

Science fiction or sci fi is a unique type of a genre. Unique as in that it is completely fictional and very imaginative. I love science fiction mainly because of both of them points. I love it when a film just takes you inside of the world and science fiction does that purpose brilliantly.

 

Over the years, growing up in Longton, Stoke On Trent, I have realised that how much a desolated world we live in. Desolated such as a world filled with hatred, drugs and chavs. I personally do not like a film that is filled with these types of things. I want a film genre that helps me forget of their existence and I truly believe that science fiction does that beautifully.

 

My favourite science fiction genre films include:

  • Inception
  • The Matrix
  • District 9
  • The Original Star Wars Trilogy
  • The Terminator
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • Back To The Future Trilogy
  • Minority Report
  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • ET
  • Moon
  • Gravity
  • Children Of Men
  • Dark City
  • Sunshine
  • I, Robot

 

You have come to realise that I don’t have the two big classics 2001 A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner. Why? It is simple, I am not a fan of those films at all. I find them very overrated, but I also respect for their existence. I find both of them overrated because that they are too slow for me. The pacing is a major problem for both movies. I grew up in the 90’s and 00’s, so I am used to fast paced action packed science fiction films. Hence, why Inception remains my favourite science fiction film, as it includes everything I want for a perfect science fiction film.

 

I respect the fact that they have inspired many of today’s science fiction films. For example, the character of HAL in 2001 has inspired a lot of films as they have very similar robotic characters. Such as for example you have the robots Gerty in Moon and Icarus in Sunshine. They are obvious homage to the character of HAL as they are voice based and yet very crucial to the film’s plot. The zero gravity and space scenes are homaged in Gravity, Sunshine and Moon. When I see these movies, I know that 2001 has been a major influence by the space elements. Also, in Inception, the zero gravity hallway fight scene with Joseph Gordon Levitt is a homage to 2001. They have similar elements such as they both are running and struggling as well with the zero gravity.

 

Whereas Blade Runner is filled with beautiful establishing shots of the city. When I see that in other science fiction films, I always say to myself they got this idea from Blade Runner. For example in I, Robot, when they show US Robotics building and also the establishing shot of the futuristic Chicago, I also say that they pay homage to Blade Runner. It becomes a natural tradition for me every time I see a science fiction film.

 

I personally love a wide range of science fiction. Whether it is set in a gritty future  such as Children Of Men or whether it is set in a highly futuristic world such as Minority Report. It is a genre which is classed as a main genre but can be also classed as a hybrid as well. This is due to the fact that you can combine pretty much any genre with science fiction and it will still come out successful. You have science fiction hybrid with action and you get The Terminator franchise. You have the gritty, realistic science fiction such as District 9, Children Of Men, Moon and Inception. And of course you have the futuristic science fiction such as Alien and Minority Report.

 

I love these movies because they help me escape the real world. I have always quoted that “Watching movies is like entering The Matrix. You want to be there for as much as you like because it is a whole lot better than the real world”.

 

It is not only for science fiction movies that I love, it is also books as well. My favourite science fiction genre books include:

  • 1984
  • Enders Game
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • The Stand
  • The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
  • The Running Man
  • The Hunger Games Series

 

These books have a wide sense of realism and also escapism. They inspire to us that fiction has a form of entertainment and science fiction to me is the most strongest. Like when I was reading all three of The Hunger Games books (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and MockingJay). It is a strong subject matter which concerns on kids fighting to death. But the aspect of portraying the book in first person creates realism and helps make the book successful. It is a perfect mixture of realism and escapism.

 

Science fiction has been a huge part of my life and it has heavily inspired me of my filmmaking. I love the idea of a single piece of entertainment can help you escape the real world. And that is why science fiction is my favourite genre of all time.

People Who Have Inspired Me – GARETH EDWARDS

People Who Have Inspired Me – GARETH EDWARDS

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.28.17Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.28.18

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.17.34Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.17.35

 

Gareth Edwards is a British filmmaker who made his mark in the film industry by starting from a low budget monster movie to reaching to a big budget monster movie. Now, I know what you all of you are going to say. Gareth Edwards has only made two feature films. I know he has only directed two feature films, but they are two brilliantly inspiring feature films. He started his feature film directorial debut with the 2010 independent science fiction film called Monsters. But, mainly a lot of people would now know him as the man who brought back Godzilla back on the big screen back in May.

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.17.20 Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.17.30

He made Monsters with a small crew and filmed the whole film by himself. I found this inspiring is because I am an aspiring filmmaker, that makes a short film using this exact same method. But, the thought of doing that for a full feature film sounds exhausting. But, keep thinking of that idea in my mind makes me realise that its physically possible. And that is why I consider him a huge inspiration with my filmmaking.

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.18.06 Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.18.28

 

The main reason why I consider Gareth Edwards an inspiring icon in my filmmaking career is because he takes big risks. The risks I am referring to is having made two monster movies and yet they focus more on the human characters. They are never brainless, so his films never feel like it is being directed by Michael Bay. His films have character emotional depth which makes him a brilliant director. He has characters in a big monster movie that make me root and care for them.

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.30.59 Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.30.55  Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.30.58 Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.30.49 Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.30.43  Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.30.41

He is described by legendary film critic Mark Kermode as the David to the Goliath of the Hollywood special effects industry. I strongly agree because he created all of the special effects by himself in his own bedroom. Like in his first feature film Monsters, he did all of the special effects by himself. It must have been a lot of hard work to get all of the visual effects done all by himself. So, if you were to go through so much pain to do the special effects, why not go through all the pain to get the human elements right? That is what he says in the Mark Kermode interview. It explains it in this YouTube clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z52OHXfLbSU

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.31.15 Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.31.25

Another reason why I agree with Mark Kermode is because Gareth Edwards has made a huge possibility for me as an aspiring filmmaker. He has made the possibility that you can pretty much get the Hollywood standard look with the technology that is sold to us today. In this YouTube link here, he talks about how Adobe software tools have helped him with the post production for Monsters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV3qNAobOLk

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.32.31   Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.31.36

 

I am an avid user of Adobe Premiere Pro, so it was so inspiring to realise that Gareth Edwards used this piece of software on a feature film. I find that so inspiring, because it makes me realise that you can make a film on the software provided. I am very inspired by struggling guerilla filmmakers and Gareth Edwards is definitely one of them. I cannot wait for what he does with his Star Wars spin off film and of course Godzilla 2 in 2018. He has inspired me so much and I thank him for that.

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.18.05  Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.17.42 Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.18.35  Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.18.32

Wasp (Review Of The Oscar Winning Short film)

Wasp – Review Of A Short Film

Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.48.43

 

Wasp is an Oscar Winning short film written and directed by Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank). The film plot mainly revolves around how a young, single mother is coping to live her life with her four children.To start off this review, let me clarify that I was not a fan of the entirety of this short film at all. Why? It is simple. It is filled with the most unlikable lead character I have ever witnessed on film.

Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.48.40

 

I do understand that is the main purpose of the film. To demonstrate of what some young mothers are like living in a rough urban area of England. It just comes to show that the actress did a terrific job at portraying her. But I was watching and thinking, what was the point of that? Why make a film about a young mother who can’t even look after her kids? It is classed as a cliche to show stuff like this for a British short film. A short film that is populated by football hooligans and chavs is really not what I want to see for pleasure.

Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.50 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.42 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.45 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.46

 

The entire film is filled with the same old cliché matters in a British short film. This involves young pregnancy, drug taking, hooligan boyfriend and strong use of swearing. When I was watching the film, all I wanted to do is switch it off. It really did got under my skin on the portrayal of these characters. Maybe that is classed as a strong aspect of the film. Maybe that was the main purpose of the entirety of the film, but it made the film look extremely hard to watch and enjoy.

 

The film’s title is Wasp and we do actually see a wasp in the film. It is not like Andrea Arnold’s feature film, Fish Tank where there isn’t a fish tank which is a plot point. For this film, the wasp is an important plot point. It resolves how it is in the worst places possible. That is the metaphor for the film, how the woman is in the worst possible place. Not just for her but for her children as well.

Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.57 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.55 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.54 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.53 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.52

 

We first see the wasp in the house and then we see it in the baby’s mouth. It gives a solid metaphor how a dangerous insect can be harmful to people. It is like how this woman can be dangerous to other people including her own children. One example is when she takes the kids with her to the pub. And she goes inside and leaves them out all by themselves. What I got is that she is like a wasp and is trying to leave her kids alone. It is vice versa how we want a wasp to leave us alone because they are harmful to us.

Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.48.57 Screenshot 2014-10-06 21.49.02

 

The cinematography all throughout the film is mainly hand held shots or shaky cam. The use of handheld shots to add realism is very effective. It gives like a documentary look of the film. I don’t think I saw a still shot throughout the film and that does help by creating realism. Also, the colour correction of the film gives this gritty rough look. This provides an insight of the theme. The theme of living in a rough environment, hence why the colour correction looks extremely unsaturated.

 

Overall, I respect on how it portrays a realistic environment within the film. I have to be personally honest and I do not like these types of films where it resolves around a rough look on Britain. It does remind of Andrea’s feature film Fish Tank and it gives a realism on today’s society. So, therefore I don’t want to say it, but this was not my cup of tea.