Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

Based on the supposedly true account of the Perron family who were terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse in Harrisville. The family enlist the help of renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Of Amityville Horror fame) to help them overcome the horrors that are happening to them.

 The Conjuring is about the closest thing to an 80's horror film in look and feel that I have seen since The House of the Devil back in 2009.  Whilst it does use a number of obvious horror movie baits, for the most part it is just a genuinely atmospheric and creepy ride into the paranormal.  Director James Wan uses sound very effectively at creating and setting mood, both with the lack of score in certain scenes and the use of low frequencies to create a chilling and almost constant foreboding presence. The film also looks fantastic; recreating both the look and feel of the 70's with aplomb, but where the film really shines is in the actual scares themselves.  Unlike most horror films of the past 10 years or so, The Conjuring is fairly restrained in its depiction of violence and gore and opts instead to just let the nature of the activity build the tension.  Yes it does have some horror elements (you can hardly be possessed without spewing something up), but on the whole the film is a refreshing revival of the old horror lore.

As to the true nature of the story, well I am a sceptic when it comes to these kind of things, whilst I am fairly open to the possibility of ghosts and the like, the artistic license taken by Hollywood is often more laughable to me than frightening. As an example of this - the image below is a doll known as Annabelle, she features in the film quite a bit and is based on this account, however the 'real' Annabelle is in fact a Raggedy Ann Doll (as pictured with the real Ed and Lorraine Warren below that.)

Annabelle as seen in The Conjuring
Annabelle in real life with Ed and Lorraine Warren

I actually think the Raggedy Ann Doll would have been creepier, but I guess that is just me...

Possession movies are currently the "in-thing" in Hollywood with no less then 10 of them appearing in the last 2 years alone, from your Paranormal Activities to your Possession 1 & 2, even director James Wan has another one out this year with Insidious 2!  If you like scary movies or the idea of at least being creeped out then this film will certainly fit the bill, hell, in the U.S the MPAA was sent the film with the studio expecting a PG-13 rating, what they got back was an R rating and the following statement: "'It's just so scary. There are no specific scenes or tone you could take out to get it PG-13.'" Now if that isn't an endorsement of your horror film, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hollywood & Body Image Issues

Whilst using Facebook last night, one of my friends 'liked' the following image:

It had this comment attached: "Silly, superficial world; please tell us why phony is more beautiful & why the dude is fine 'as is' no matter what size or age? Thanks!"

I initially took at face value that the bottom image represented a promotional shot for the film that had been Photoshopped, and that the image above it was a screen capture from the film. Well for starters, the shot is a promotional shot specifically for the purposes of advertising the film, not a shot from the actual film itself.  (The scene, as it takes place in the film, has the two characters on opposite sides of each other and the image below is not mirrored.)  I then had a look at the official press release photos from Getty Images (also confirmed at Movie Stills) and the following is the official press release photo as distributed by the studio:

As you can see, it has not been altered in the same way is the image at the top.  A little digging around on-line seems to reveal The Hollywood Reporter as the first organization to use the bottom image in reference to the films screening at Cannes this year.  Whether they created it or not remains to be seen, but it does show up on a number of festival websites including a number here in Australia.

I cannot understand why anyone would see the need to edit this photo in the way that they have?! What possible purpose does it serve?  I would love to find out who did this, why and for whom!

Body Image is a major issue among women, especially younger women and this kind of blatant manipulation is frankly horrific to me.  If I were Julie Delpy I would be mortified and insulted beyond comprehension. Sadly, this issue is not new, and this case above reminded me of one a number of years ago involving Saffron Burrows and her film Deep Blue Sea. Here is a clip of her explaining quite candidly some of the issues she had during and after filming:

The clip above is taken from the brilliant series Dinner for Five hosted by Jon Faverau. I highly recommend checking it out on YouTube if you get a chance!  Below you can see the issues she raised with the poster art for Deep Blue Sea and beside that an actual image of her in costume from the film for comparison:

It is just sad and insulting.  We are breeding a culture of women who feel ashamed about their bodies and a culture of men with completely unrealistic expectations of the female form and it has to stop.  Those who perpetuate this kind of obscene manipulation should be named and shamed!

You can find more information about Body Image issues and concerns at the Australian Governments Body Image page.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Playing with Cinemagraph Part 2

Well, I am getting a little better at finding things worth taking animated pictures of, but it is certainly not as easy as you would think to get it right!  Nokia have updated the app to allow editing of existing images which is a welcome addition, however since that update the phone is a little sluggish with the actual playback of files.  I seem to have developed a habit of holding the phone slightly off centre when taking images horizontally, not sure if this is as a result of the keys to the right of the screen and my attempts to avoid pressing them, but it is getting a little old to capture a great shot only to have it on an angle! Overall I have been quite happy with the control afforded by the app and I am especially impressed by some of the night images that it captures with nothing more than default settings!

Anyhow, without further ado I have placed a few more Cinemagraphs after the jump from my recent trip to Melbourne & Sydney as taken directly from my Nokia Lumia 920. (Please note the page may take quite awhile to load!) Select Read More below to view them :)