How sound is used effectively in Hollywood film Drive

In film sound is as important as any other aspect of cinematography, whether it’s the music or dialogue choice. I have chosen to look at 2011’s Hollywood film ‘Drive’.

The film opens with a car chase in which mostly diegetic sounds are used (police sirens, city noises, radio, car engines etc.) to create the representation of reality, which is continued throughout the rest of the film. The film follows the character of the Driver (unnamed to construct mystery and secrecy), who in total has only 86 lines of dialogue in the whole 96 minute feature, and more often than not these are single utterances like ‘yeah’, ‘sure’, ‘thanks’ or a simple short phrase. Director Nicolas Winding Refn chose to use a lack of dialogue for his character, explaining that ‘silence is the strongest element’, doing this leaves more room for the audience to interpret what they see on the screen because we feel silence the most and it is better at making the audience think, rather than hearing dialogue which becomes logic as only silence can touch real emotion. This helps to build on the love story aspect of the Driver and Irene which the film follows, showing pure love and the connection that these two people have, both the characters and the audience can see their feelings without needing words to explain, instead using close-up shots so only facial expressions are needed.   However silence is also used in the film to show another side to the Driver’s personality, this creates a sense of mystery and danger, his behaviour speaks for him.

The reinforcement of this contrast in personality is shown through the choice of music, using electric music such as ‘Nightcall’ and ‘Tick of the Clock’ to counter balance masculinity, showing his hard exterior, which is contrasted using softer music like ‘A Real Hero’ when he is with Irene. The choice of songs fits well with the character types used in ‘Drive’, containing the lyrics ‘a real hero’ and ‘a real human being’, presenting both the driver as an average American man but who is also portrayed as a hero. Similarly relating to Irene’s character, who was an ordinary human being until she met a hero.

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Can there ever be a successful British film?

 

Globalisation is an issue when it comes to the film industry, we want to be able to say ‘we made that’ – but nowadays that is very rarely the case. Britain has had limited film successes simple due to the fact we don’t have the money to splash out on big budget films like America does.

According to Empire magazines 100 Best British Films Ever, ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’ is at number one, and if that’s the case then there hasn’t been a great British film made for about 50 years. That doesn’t mean to say that we don’t make some good UK films, Working Title Films is a British production company, but a subsidiary of the U.S film company Universal, therefore without the support from its parent company, Working Title wouldn’t have been able to produce some of its classics such as Hot Fuzz, Atonement and Bridget Jones’s Diary (which lets face it we all have seen at least once) Bridget Jones’s had a budget of around $26 million and made nearly $282 million. Not bad going really! However that is nothing in comparison to the hugely American success that is Avatar, which made almost $2.8 billion, and is the highest grossing film ever.

Even though British companies produce films, they always have and no doubt always will have trouble when it comes to the distribution costs. Take the very successful Slumdog Millionaire for example, it was produced by Film4 and Celador (both British production companies) yet they could not afford the projected $15 million for the distribution of the film. Therefore they had to seek help from an American investor, they had several offers but in the end Warner Independent Pictures won with their offer of $5 million and won the rights of the picture. Meaning that Slumdog was almost a British success but it slipped through our fingers, the film generated $377 million worldwide.

Then again, is it really so bad for the British film industry? There are both positives and negatives. The industry may loose out on money by the U.S taking films that the UK produce, but on the plus side at least the British film industry is getting money. If it wasn’t for the American investors then would we actually get any money at all? Because who else would pay for British films to become successful? Nobody – that’s who.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (review)

Sometimes we need guidance, sometimes we feel doubt, and sometimes we feel like going against the flow.

Based on the book by Paul Torday, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is not just about fishing (though the title may have you assume) it’s also a story about life, love, faith and hope. The film is directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Dear John) and the screenplay by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and stars the brilliant Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, who make a great team in this heart-warming British romantic comedy-drama. Each character has an individual journey, and for Fred it is all about finding himself, and going against the flow.

McGregor plays government expert in fisheries Fred Jones who is pressured into supporting a project to introduce Salmon fishing to the desert country of Yemen. A visionary sheik believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt) to turn the dream into reality. Upon meeting Harriet, who tries to convince Fred of the idea, he is not won round until a blackmail threat seals the deal. With no choice he takes it upon himself to do the best job he can in the project.

McGregor plays this middle-aged man who has nothing better to do than fish, and feels he has been ‘genetically programmed to a dull pedestrian lifestyle’. His wardrobe is – how to say this – simple, plain, a little dull. But somehow McGregor manages to pull each sweater off brilliantly. Having said that he does scrub up well in a suit. And Blunt is the beautiful, young woman he falls for (no surprise there then!) Their predictable romance is one we all saw coming from the beginning, Fred’s marriage is over and he is no longer clinging on to what he once had and learns to accepts that he is no longer happy being with his wife Mary (Rachael Stirling). It isn’t an easy ride for Harriet either, her soldier boyfriend Robert (Tom Mison) has been declared missing in action in the Afghanistan war. Expectedly she is in pieces, which is the first bond that brings her and Fred together, as the film progresses he is her shoulder to cry on (by bringing her a lovely duck sandwich). It builds up until Fred says those three words every woman is longing to hear – oh wait he doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean to say that she (and the audience) don’t know his loving feelings, from his longing looks. And when we think they are all set to become one, soldier boy bounces back on the scene and our hearts melt a little along with Fred’s. So does Fred not get the girl? Well that wouldn’t be predictable now would it. Yet is does appear that is the way the film is heading.

But back to the salmon, all is going well, successfully finding the 10,000 fish they needed in order for the project to go ahead. So they set off to the Yemen to turn the ‘theoretical’ plan into a reality. The fish are released and the project seems to be succeeding, but it is sabotaged by local militants, who destroy the salmon runs. Faith seems to be lost by all, and soon comes the prospect of returning home since there is nothing left to stay for. Until Fred sees some salmon have survived and faith is restored, he decides so stay on and restarts the project. But he needs a companion, or as Harriet prefers a partner, and as we predict there is no doubt to his answer.

Subtle elements of humour help make the story more believable, they’re not overpowering to leave your tummy aching, but the often giggle is needed.

 

Verdict:

Predictable – yes, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable or heart-warming. The elements of comedy help add to the enjoyment. The moral of the story is that if life doesn’t work out the way you had hoped don’t give up because things will work out (even though they may not be as fairytale happy ending as this story). Go and see it, that’s for sure.

 

 

 

netflix > lovefilm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since we saw the arrival of Netfilx, there has been a clear battle between lovefilm and Netflix. But who is winning? Well so far it would appear Netflix, having announced in April 2011 that it has over 23.6 million subscribers. However there is one major different between the two companies, Netflix is global whereas lovefilm is only a small UK company which explains its messily 2 million subscribers.

Netflix was founded in 1997, yet it only reached us at the beginning on 2012, but since it has its safe to say that it has become a huge success.

What does this mean for lovefilm? Well it has some very stiff competition that’s for sure. lovefilm took charge when it realised the crisis it could face, by reducing its monthly cost from £5.99 to £4.99 whereas Netflix is still charging £5.99 a month. However it is clear that you get more for your money from the global sensation as if you subscribe members get to watch unlimited films and television programmes, but there is a downside to this, members can only view these through their computer screens, and really that isn’t the right way to watch a film. You want to be able to settle on the sofa with a big bowl of popcorn and relax, right?

Whereas lovefilm only offers three rentals a month (and that’s its cheapest deal) if you want unlimited use from lovefilm then you would have to splash out on £14.99 a month but with that members get to take out three discs at a time AND unlimited access to games.

lovefilm is definitely more diverse, with Netflix you only have the option to watch via internet connected devices, so if that’s what you want then great. But lovefilm offers a choice, DVDs, blue-ray, and online if you want.

Which company is really better? I guess it’s down to a matter of choice, the amount you want to pay and the way you want to view.

lovefilm says you can watch films online through lovefilm instant, but can you really? I am a member (I may only have the cheapest deal) but when trying to access films to watch online I am told to pay £2.49 to view it. False advertising much, possible if I did pay the extortionate price of £14.99 a month then they would give me this privilege, but I have been lead to believe that I am able to watch these online if I so chose (which I don’t often) but it appears to have taken that choice away from me.

Keeping up with the times…

Its not enough now to just be able to view online, audiences want to be able to watch films where ever they go and these companies have to be able to keep up with demands. lovefilm are certainly doing this, they recently created the free lovefilm app for android and iPhones, however this app doesn’t let you watch films it only allows you to keep an eye on your rentals list and check out the latest trailers. ‘iPhone App is the fastest and easiest way to find the titles you love’. But lovefilm have created an iPad app (lovefilm player) which they released at the end of September 2011, that does enable members to watch films instantly. Both these apps are free.

Netflix are not far behind, also offering free apps for iPhone and iPad, unlike lovefilm however the iPhone app allows members to watch films instantly, these were released at the end of April this year. Has Netflix stolen their idea? It was only a matter of time, maybe lovefilm need to step up a gear.

Let’s face it sometimes it is simpler and faster to log on to your laptop and there you have it thousands of films to choose from without even having to leave the house. But are either of these companies going to take over what has to be best viewing experience ever – the cinema? That’s another issue altogether!

The Hunger Games (review)

‘Happy hunger games and may the odds be ever in your favour’

The Hunger Games is said to be the new twilight and that it is apart from the vampires, one might go to say that it is possibly better! The film brings a new idea that hasn’t been seen before, the concept of children fighting to the death. It seems a little far fetched but once you get past the unrealistic story line, then it becomes a great film.

This film isn’t sure what genre to be so presents itself as a mystery and suspense/ science/ drama/fantasy. Yet it does seem to take elements from all. It’s based on the book by Suzanne Collins; the film takes place in a dystopia post-apocalyptic future in the nation of Panem, with a wealthy capitol and twelve lesser districts. Each year a boy and girl from each district are chosen to fight to death in an annual televised event which is controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains where upon they are blessed with the ‘honour’ of success. The Huger Games began as punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol. Do they do it to send a message of fear to the civilians? No it is for entertainment, it’s to present the feeling of hope, for ‘hope is stronger than fear but to much hope is dangerous’ The Capitol give the contestants a sensation of hope, yet with only one winner all hope is lost.

The opening scene shows the hardness of life from district twelve, and the ‘reaping’ process in order for the two tributes from that district to be chosen. But when Primrose Everdeen is picked in her first year her older sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in her place. Instantly she is the one the audience will back, and for the boy – Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a baker’s son.

The actors are convincing in their roles, each works singularly well on their own, but the relationships formed are just as convincing. Lawrence maintains that just got out of the shower look when everyone else is covered in wounds and dirt, but that isn’t unusual for a main female character. She suits both roles that are required, the dress up and look pretty role for when being interview, but also the fight and get injured role when out in the arena too. The sister relationship between Katniss and Primrose is heart-warming and presents the closeness of their family. Later on when in competition Katniss forms a reliance with twelve year old Rue, who reminds her of her younger sister Prim, Lawrence’s talent shines through in the scene of Rue’s death.

Lawrence and Hutcherson make a believable pair of ‘star-crossed lovers’ yet in Katniss’ eyes it is merely a ploy to get the audience on their side. Due to their appearing affections, midway through the game a rule change is announced, stating that if two tributes from the same district are left then they both survive. And guess what? They both survive, we knew this would happen from the moment they kissed.

The whole film follows a predictable route, Katniss doesn’t die, and of course the hero never dies. But that doesn’t stop the suspense created from fight scenes, which present moments leaving you thinking how can she get out of this?

From the second the game officially begins so does the killing, the majority of tributes rush to the centre where weapons and essentials are provided. Here the slaughtering begins with eleven tributes being killed. The shots show all the action taking place but without showing to much of the killing, yet we still get the feeling of mass murder. It is not as vicious as to be expected, yes the film is about the killing to the death but it’s more about the survival, as Katniss never kills unless she has too. She enters trying to win, but does so with pride and integrity.

Before the hunger game begins, tributes are taken to the Capitol to be trained and showed off to the world. Whilst the build up before the event starts, you almost forget the game that is to come and enjoy the little glimpse of luxury they receive first. All members of society in the Capitol look like something out of a Tim Burton film, take Elizabeth Banks for example who plays Effie Trinket.

If there is anything that this film is missing then it’s not making more of the sponsors. The sponsors send in gifts to tributes who they like, such as medicine and food. However we never see much about how they get these sponsors on their side, so when Katniss receives gifts she so desperately needs we have no clue who sent them.

We see the character of Gale Hawthorne played by Liam Hemsworth at the start, yet nothing more is seen or mentioned of him, and why would you not put him in when you have a hunk like that to take advantage of?

Verdict:

It constantly has comparisons to Twilight being drawn out but in actual fact it is nothing alike, in fact The Hunger Games is better. If you have read the book see the film, if you haven’t then go and see it anyway, otherwise you are sure to miss out on this fantastic success.