CMN5400: Marlboro Marketing

Marlboro wordpress headerHey Guys, check out our presentation on the 1950’s Marlboro Marketing Campaign. The password to view the video is ‘marlboro’.

 

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CMN5400: Start-Up Hub Case Study

The Studio Files

Constantly shifting it’s main industry to suit the needs of the modern world, Glasgow has long been labelled as one of the UK’s top start-up hotspots (specifically at fifth place). With it’s world renowned heavy industry production and exported goods such as: steel, ships and their components, coal, scotch whiskey, and textiles; developing a 50% market share of the UK’s tobacco trade – Glasgow is no stranger to entrepreneurial enterprise. In the absence of a demand for its primary industry goods, the city has built a strong reputation with digital technology start-ups, marked by the likes of The Tontine building, offering a “centre for technological innovation”, primarily to the already technologically focused Glasgow Universities; as well as a huge range of organisations centered around assisting the next generation of entrepreneurs to accomplish their goals, and touch the modern world.


There is a significant start-up hub base within the Glasgow area…

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CMN5400: Business Plan – Proposal

The fundamental principle of Foundation Studios is based around providing complete production packages to musicians and artists; eliminating the severe hardship of manually sourcing multiple content producers for their work. This is done by offering tiered production packages from a singular team of dedicated professionals. Services begin with the high quality audio productions every band […]

via CMN5400: Business Plan – Proposal — The Studio Files

Loving (2016)

Film Maker Jeff Nichols.

Loving is the latest film from American writer/director Jeff Nichols. It tells the true story of  Richard and Mildred Loving, an inter-racial couple whose marriage in 1950’s Virginia led to the repealing of archaic and racist laws forbidding such a union.

Nichols has repeatedly shown himself to be a masterful film maker. His understated style, portrayal of people as authentic and refusal to delve into melodrama in both dialogue and direction give his films a genuine feel and tension. Dialogue is used sparingly, he trusts his actors to portray the story emotionally, not verbally. He trusts his actors because he knows them, repeatedly using the same cast members in each of his films. Nichols talent as a film maker has seen him crossing genres with ease: Shotgun Stories (2007), a tense drama telling the story of a family feud, Midnight Special (2016) a sci-fi tale in which a gifted child, protected by his father, is pursued by the FBI and a religious cult, and now the period biopic Loving. Add to this the coming of age drama Mud (2012) and the critically acclaimed Take Shelter (2011) and you have a formidable movie portfolio. This man does not make bad films, he makes great ones.

Loving is a beautifully shot film, with characterisation reminiscent of Shotgun Stories. Joel Edgerton plays Richard Loving, and his performance is phenomenal. This is a man who struggles to communicate, who deeply loves his wife and children, and desperately wants to be left alone. Ruth Negga is perfect as Mildred, her understated dialogue and awkward posture capturing the character that should, but probably won’t, make her 2017 Oscar win for best supporting actress a formality. Mildred’s courage is never forced, never staged. It just happens. There are no big speeches in this film, no epic words to slap on the poster. There is truth.  Edgerton and Negga are so good, that at times it feels as though you are watching some kind of impossible surreal documentary; beautifully shot in colour in 50’s America. Nichols not only avoids the cliches of the modern biopic, he gives us a new take: Just tell the story of the people, ignore everything else, ignore the big picture, the political and legal ramifications, ignore the historic change: Tell the story of Richard and Mildred, of their simple, powerful love for each other. That is the greatest truth, and the one we can all connect to. We can’t identify with airbrushed heroes changing the world, we can identify with real people, flawed, doing their best by each other, while history seems to happen around them.

Jeff Nichols is one of the most important film makers working today. His films have a space in them. They are not crammed full of stuff. They allow reflection, like a loving friend, they don’t demand attention like a spoiled child. To release Midnight Special and Loving over a two or three year period would have been impressive. To release both in one year? I’m tempted to use the word ‘genius’.

 

New York, New York (1977)

Scorsese and De Niro on the set of New York, New York.

I don’t know why, but until a few weeks ago I had never seen this movie. This makes no sense: Scorsese, De Niro, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, The King of Comedy. So many masterpieces of film. So many iconic performances. It’s not even that I’d heard that New York, New York was a bad movie, it’s just a movie that no one seems to talk about. And it’s a musical. Scorsese? De Niro? A musical? And Liza Minelli. What the hell is Liza Minelli doing in a Scorsese film? Maybe the film was just a result of Scorsese’s own excesses during this period. One of those crazy things that happened but is best not to be spoken of. After enjoying the recent phenomenon that is La La Land (2016), I heard BBC film critic Mark Kermode mention in his glowing review of the 14 time Oscar Nominated film, the “very underrated” New York, New York. Intrigued, I took the plunge.

I first watched the original theatrical release of the film. Hmmmm. Two undiscovered artists, trying to breakthrough, struggling to balance their own career ambitions with their relationship. Sound familiar? Set in post World War II NYC, the film tackles many of the themes of La La Land, but has a much darker tone.  I thought it was an interesting film. I enjoyed it, but the character of Johnny (De Niro) was a stumbling block for me. He is so unlikable. For most of the film, his behaviour towards Francine (Minelli) is quite despicable. Then, two incredibly powerful scenes in the third act give the character depth, and we feel compassion for him. On first watching this came too late for me. I spent the next few days talking to people about this “interesting” film. I didn’t say it was a good film, I thought it was flawed, and thought Scorsese sometimes really gets his female characters spectacularly wrong. The conflict of super-real acting against a background of old Hollywood, sometimes stylised studio sets also troubled me. I wanted to see New York, not a studio set. Despite all of this, something called me back to the film, so I gave it another try.

This time I watched the extended version. I loved it. The knowledge of what was to come for Johnny  in the third act enabled me to better understand the character. De Niro is phenomenal in this film. He is funny, scary, intense, flippant and unpredictable all at the same time. Minelli is unbelievable, matching the heavyweight De Niro punch for punch. You cannot take your eyes off the screen, their presence is magnetic, their dysfunctional relationship as painful as it is addictive. The music in the film is beautiful. All of the big musical numbers belong to Minelli. No one else could have played this part. Her transformation from uncertain, vulnerable wall flower to powerhouse performer is transfixing. The emotion in some of her performances brought tears to my eyes. I then watched the extended version again, and loved it even more. It’s one of my favourite films, and certainly my favourite musical. An undiscovered modern classic.

Scorsese himself has said that he is conflicted about the film. Obviously proud of the piece, he states that he made mistakes by not allowing enough time for improvisational rehearsals before shooting key scenes. He believes that had he not made New York, New York, and learn the lessons he did in the process, then  he would not have been able to make Raging Bull (1980). Strange as it is to disagree with the film maker, I would put both films in the same category of masterpiece.

New York, New York was a box office flop on its original release in 1977. It was released one week after Star Wars, and must have seemed so dated and irrelevant compared to George Lucas’s genre defining sci-fi epic. Following the success of the title song, made popular by legendary crooner Frank Sinatra, and in an attempt to recoup some of the bloated budget, the extended version was given a cinema release a few years later. A forgotten phenomenon, the extended version of New York, New York is essential viewing for any film fan.

Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters 2 (1989), Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters (1984) is one of the first films I saw at the cinema. Culturally, it is one of the most significant films in my life. Repeatedly watched and constantly referenced by myself and my friends, it occupies a similar space to Star Wars in terms of the creative influence it has had on me. So, after over 30 years, how does it hold up? Not bad. Still very funny. Now it feels much more like a film starring Bill Murray than the ensemble piece it seemed to be in my youth. A great script with very talented improvisational actors make for some superb comic sequences. Having said that, this also feels like an action movie, there do seem to be stakes, it is not just a bunch of SNL’ers doing a string of comedy skits. Any film set in NYC has already practically won me over, and Manhattan plays a big role in this movie. On the downside, while I can accept the VFX for what they were, it would be interesting to see what younger audiences would make of them. Also, with so many films of a different generation, attitudes and outlooks have changed. While Peter Venkman  (Murray) may have been viewed as a lovable rogue back then, now his advances on Sigourney Weaver look a little creepy.

Ghostbusters 2 (1989) is almost a beat for beat retelling of the original. The original cast return, as does director Ivan Reitman. It is again written by Dan Aykroyd and the sadly missed Harold Ramis. Characters that do not return are replaced with comparable archetypes. Whilst there is an argument that the climax of the film is an inversion of the original, the fact that the spectacle is almost identical is unavoidable. There are some very funny moments in the film, especially the first half, but the laughs get fewer and fewer as the film goes on. Narratively there are questions that go unanswered, and it’s almost as if the film makers viewed this as a comedy that did not need to be taken too seriously, so plot disparities were acceptable. This seeming lack of care means that we never believe that any of the characters are in jeopardy. As the rules of the world the film creates are inconsistent and unexplained, it feels like anything can happen at anytime, to suit the needs of the plot. And it does. Another problem is Winston Zedmore (Ernie Hudson), the 4th Ghostbuster, whose character seems to drift in and out of the story without explanation. Sometimes he’s with the team, sometimes he’s not. Ghostbusters 2 is worth watching, but feels like a TV movie, rather than a cinematic experience.

I first saw Ghostbusters (2016) last summer, and given the misogynistic internet rage surrounding the film, was desperate for it to be a success. I came out of the theatre satisfied that it was an ‘okay’ summer blockbuster, and while haters gonna hate, it was certainly not terrible. On a recent re-watch, however, it is the weakest of the franchise, and suffers from almost all of the problems of the 1989 sequel to the original.  Director Paul Feig again gives us exact same story, with the exact same protagonists and antagonists, and a laser show in NYC as the finale, just like the other two films. The comedy is fairly hit and miss, some notable highlights being Chris Hemsworth as the Homer-esque receptionist and Andy Garcia as the Mayor. The re-boot falls into the trap the original managed to somehow avoid; this is a string of SNL’ers doing improvisational sketch comedy, with no sense of stakes or peril. Clearly the cast is talented, but they seem to feel the weight of the 1984 film on their shoulders, inhibiting them. There are some cringe inducing moments where you feel you are watching people desperately ‘trying’ to be funny. There are a few cool VFX scenes, and an attempt to do something slightly different with the ending, but this film is stifled by its determination to tell a story thats already been told. All female leads was not different enough, we needed all female leads in a new story. I’d love to see this cast in a sequel, free from the apparent need to give us the same origins story again, but I believe the scheduled follow up has been cancelled. Worth watching only for completeness, ultimately, Ghostbusters (2016) feels like a missed opportunity.

 

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

its-a-wonderful-lifeThe most I’d ever seen of this movie are the brief moments in Gremlins (1984), when the Mother is watching the final scenes on TV. Other than that I knew that it was a Christmas movie and that James Stewart was in it. Recommended to me by friend and fellow film student, Jacob Topen, I settled down with my wife amidst  our freshly tinsel festooned living room to get into the old Christmas spirit. I expected a fairly good festive film, what I did not expect was to laugh, cry and applaud my way through this masterpiece of cinema.

Put simply, this film is breathtaking. Director Frank Capra seemingly effortlessly takes us on a journey of joy, despair, social commentary, ambition, frustration, love and redemption. James Stewart is mesmerising as he plays a role spanning three decades. This acting masterclass is something to behold. We engage with Stewart immediately, and our emotional attachment to the character of George Bailey deepens as the film progresses. His comic timing is impeccable, as is his ability to hit and communicate every emotional beat of the character.

Capra’s direction is frighteningly contemporary. The film is essentially a clever inversion of A Christmas Carol. It’s not the Scrooge of the piece (Henry F. Potter, brilliantly  played by  Lionel Barrymore) that requires a heavenly intervention here, it’s Bob Cratchett.

I’ll be going to see It’s a Wonderful Life at the Grosvenor Cinema in Glasgow later this month. I strongly suggest that you take the opportunity to check your local cinemas listings and see if this film is showing over the Christmas period.

If the swimming pool scene doesn’t have you grinning like an idiot, then I’ll eat my hat.