Monday, 19 August 2019

Better on the page...



There are those comics that shouldn’t ever be adapted for the screen, big or small. Although due to the episodic nature of comics, they would work well as a TV series. One of stories from the pages of a stand alone comic or graphic novel would and could taken to the screen BUT there is always the question, should it be adapted?

There are a selection of comics I believe should never be adapted for TV or film and I really hope that these never happen, mainly because they’re weird or I know how the story would play out and ultimately ruined. Comics have used as the end point to shows after they’ve been cancelled or the fans have wanted more after a natural end. The stories and characters work well within their domain of ink and paper, lets not drag them out to make a buck or two.



Saga

This is the epic space opera which has become a huge hit. Possibly too big to go unoticed by Hollywood and the TV land executives. Boasting a large cast of characters set in a space world where there are many species of everything you could ever think of off, with artwork to go with it. There are also heartbreaking deaths, violent escapes and sexual ones too. With a ‘star crossed lovers’ theme at the heart and a never ending war between two races, ‘horns’ and ‘wings’ and everyone else picking sides. Alana, from the technologically advanced planet Landfall, the largest planet, meets Marko, from Wreath, Landfall’s moon, who people can use magic, they meet while he is prisoner and fall in love. Escaping the planet and essentially going on the run after Alana gives birth to Hazel, who is also the story’s narrator. Pursued by hitmen, royalty and other beings, they carve out a family and life together. Add in monsters, hitmen (called freelancers in this world), superhero soap operas, an infamous book able to tear down the establishment and robot royalty, the stories told in saga do indeed make a saga.

Compared to the likes of ‘Star Wars’, ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’, there isn’t anything you can quite compare it to. Probably its been such a hit - its refreshingly original yet feels inspired but a thousand science fiction stories. This would of course be difficult to create if the TV/Filmmakers would stay true to the style of images of the comic. There is a possibility the comic could work if animated but a live action version would be impossible to capture.

Sex Criminals

For those who don’t know, this isn’t what it sounds like. Something I say to everyone who hasn’t read the comic. It’s about sex. But its also about love, friendship, bank robberies and saving a library. Suzie, a librarian, meets Jon, and actor working at a bank, at a party. They hit it off and sleep together which is when they discover that they both have the power to freeze time when they orgasm. They each already knew they had this power but finding each other is the moment where the story begins. As their relationship becomes more intimate, they decide to rob banks to save Suzie’s library from being shut down. Along the way they discover others with the same ability but different quirks. But really its about a guy and girl just trying to figure themselves out.

This would obviously be an issue for film, TV might be able to get this on screens but to be honest, its just too weird for TV. I think quite a bit would be changed and not for the better and I think it just works better in comic form. That’s my personal view. There may be others out there dying for this kind of freaky show. As it does get kinda freaky.

Grandville

Described as a cross between Arthur Conan Doyle, Rupert Bear and Tarantino meant that I would obviously love this series og graphic novels following Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock of Scotland Yard (a badger built like a brick shithouse) and his loyal partner on the force, Detective Ratzi (a rat).

The characters of this universe are mostly anthropomorphic animals although humans who appear, they are treated as the underclass and are referred to as 'doughfaces'. Also in this world, the history is very different. France are the main 'evil empire' after Britain lost the war with Napoleon and invaded the country, murdering the British Royal Family. Britain was then ruled over for 180 years until the revolution and fight for independance, 23 years before the start of the first book. LeBrock having been on the front lines of the fight. Paris is the largest city in the world and is known as 'Grandville' which is where most of the stories take place. Each follows a theme of some sort; conspiracy, terroism, science fiction, religion and gangsters with a wide range of characters, some modelled after real historic people as well as nods to animated and comic book characters and homages to certain works of art. Its a feast for the eyes and fascinating to read. But with all these details on the page, there is a very good chance all this would be lost on the screen. Even if this was an animated series, the charm and bloody origianlity might not transend well and I have a feeling would not be as popular with a TV audience. 

 Lastly....

Fables

For those who know and love this comic created by Bill Willingham, you are no doubt aware of the development hell the adaptation has been through. Fables, first appeared in 2002 and has since spanned 150 issues, spin off series Jack of Fables, Cinderella and Fairest oh and The Literals (if you count it as a spin off, it was part of The Great Fables Crossover), stand alone graphic novels; 1001 Nights of Snowfall, Werewolves of the Heartland and Fairest in the Land, stand alone novel; Peter & Max: A Fables Novel, a Tell-Tale game, also adapted into a comic; The Wolf Among Us and finally, the short lived sequel which arrived 2 years after the main series ended; Everafter: From the Pages of Fables. As you can see, Fables wasn't just a comic series, its a universe. 

The story (the original story) begins with 'Legends in Exile' a would be murder mystery story, that introduces us to Fabletown, where characters from fairytales, fables, poems, nursery rhymes and children's literature live in secret having been exiled from their homelands, decades before by the 'big evil' adversary. The lucky ones to esacpe live their lives among the mundys - that's us - while they are immortal. The Fables who are unlucky enough to not pass for human or can't afford a glamour from the witches and sorcerers, live up state at 'The Farm'. They have their own government of sorts, with King Cole as the very lazy mayor and the hard working deputy mayor, Snow White. The Sheriff is none other than Bigby Wolf aka the Big Bad Wolf who was excused of his crimes in the Homelands. Both Snow White and Bigby, in the first arc, go in search of the would be murderer of Rose Red, Snow's twin sister. From the second arc, Fables takes a giant leap forward with its stories, even killing off main characters, starting a revolution at the farm and delving deeper into the history. 

Around the time of 'Once Upon a Time's announcement, there were rumours that this was actually going to be a 'Fables' TV show BUT then that didn't happen and a mediocre TV was made instead. I watched bits of the first three seasons in the hope it would get better buuuuut it didn't. Then, a few years later, there was rumour about the comic being adapted into a film, which was a huge mistake, but then that never came to anything. But seeing all the new shows in the last few years, all the comic adaptations, my thinking is sooner or later, they'll turn to Fables. Maybe once the Marvel/DC wells have run dry? Although technically, Fables is from the DC side, being a Vertigo comic. I really hope that if it ever made, its made for TV as there is just too many details that can't be cut out for it to work as a film, but I bet every comic book fans says that about their favourite comic. I'm very precious about Fables as it was the series that actually got me interested and invested in the comic book world, I just want it done right if it has to be done.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Small Screen, BIg Wave


 

The age of superheroes dawned us not with the release of ‘X-Men’ and ‘Spiderman’ in the early 2000s but with the beginning of the master Marvel plan in 2007 with ‘Iron Man’. As I wasn’t reading comics (apart from Tintin and Oor Wullie) back then and only looking longingly at my local comic book shop when I was intimidated by the ‘what are you doing here?’ stare, these superheroes and by extension comic book films were all new to me. I had been completely enthralled by ‘Sin City’ in 2005 and sort out the original graphic novels, where I learnt just how graphic a comic styled book could be. Of course, the fact that the movies were turning towards to comics and graphic novels for stories was no new trend BUT the fact that we, the audience, are regularly fed our yearly superhero films has changed the landscape of film and now, TV as well.

Comics lend themselves to television structure that it always felt wrong that such characters and their blockbuster like stories were confined to limited timed films and their sequels and not given the time to develop and grow, like they do on the page. But the TV execs were paying attention. Seeing the opportunity to adapt more stories and characters for the small screen presented the opportunity to expand the comic universes. The CW has run with this idea with the likes of ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’ and ABC with ‘Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D’ and Netflix too even had a slice of the Marvel pie before the announcement of the juggernaut (no I’m not referencing the mutant) Disney creating their own streaming service which meant shutting down shows on other platforms, although ‘Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D’ will bow out with their seventh and final season. But both Netflix and Amazon Prime have opted to venture further into the comics world and go for the more ‘adult’ themed comics or as they say on the trade paperbacks, ‘For Mature Readers’.

From Marvel to DC to Vertigo to Image to Dark Horse, the adaptations are endless. With hits like ‘Preacher’, ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and the newly minted ‘The Boys’, not only is the demand for comic adaptations out there, the desire for grittier and more graphic shows needs to be met. The latter two shows that came out this year, both renewed for second seasons have generally pleased the fandom and gain more followers. Both source materials could be considered as little to unknown in the grand scheme of things but with their superhero genre slapped on them, this attracts those who love the blockbuster films but also want to see their favourites for longer than a film. They also happen to be about superheroes. There is no escaping this genre which has become arguably in its own right. Actually, escape can be found in the Archie comics adaptations such as the eternal teen haven, ‘Riverdale’ and its spin off ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’. But both have gone darker, especially the latter.

The shows will keep coming and it may or may not feel like overkill but if shows such as ‘The Walking Dead’ and keep on walking for multiple seasons and news shows such as ‘Y: The Last Man’ and the legendary ‘Sandman’ have been slated to be made, at least we’re in for a variety of weird and wonderful stories to look forward to. BUT there will come a time when, just like me and comics, there’s just too many to keep up with.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Before The Re-reboot Over Shadows It All


As I said, before the re-reboot directed by Elizabeth Banks eclipses the McG offerings from the 2000s, I thought it was time to talk about 'Charlie's Angels' in all its problematic glory. As much as I love the film adaptation (and sequel) of the TV classic about three women who work for a private detective agency backed by an annoymous billionaire, there are so many problems with it and I;m not just talking about the fact that these women always have to dress in overtly 'sexy' outfits. So, I made a zine.


If you want a closer look and are able to get to Deptford, London, you'll be in luck as its the South London Zine Festival going on until 11th August. Zines from all over will be on display with some copies available to buy. If you're not able to get to London and want to grab a copy, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Now, in Alex's words (played by Lucy Lui) - 'Get off the babysitter. Daddys home.' In other words, time to go.

There was so much dialogue in those films that never made sense.




Monday, 5 August 2019

Edinburgh Film Festival: How to Fake a War



Better late than never.

For a film that was funded by Ireland and Georgia and is considered to be predominantly be a European film or Irish and Georgian film, it really does feel, look and act very British. From the dark humour to the casting to how the plot rolls out, its hard to ignore the British-ness that other films have taken time and effort over.

Kate is a PR manager for rockstar Harry Hope and is in need of good publicity for him. When war breaks out between Georgia and Uzbek, she immediately takes action and starts to set up a peace concert in Hope’s name. The media machine gets rolling and the fans are excited, word spreads but then, disaster, the two warring countries declare peace So, Kate and her team, plus her little sister, keen to get involved, go to Georgia to create fake news to generate interest again and claim that the war is still happening. Of course, things do not go according to plan.

Making a film about a fake war as a PR stunt to further someone’s career is bleak and has the danger to be taken as poor taste. But luckily the film is in safe comedic hands. It is bleak at times because its about war but it is made of the blackest darkest comedy and the winning result is actually funny. Just because its a comedy doesn’t mean there aren’t deaths and moments where you questions yourself for laughing. Having Katherine Parkinson yell ‘We’re BRITISH WOMEN’ is one of the best moments in the film as it pretty much sums up how Brits are. We want our opinion heard and we want to make sure everyone knows where we’re from, like it is an exception to a rule. When the peace between countries is called off due to the successful fake news being generated and the war continues, Kate and her team literally end up in the crossfire and separated. Kate and her sister Peggy (Lily Newmark) end up on their own long way to the boarder and the to freedom after they are captured for being the leader of the resistance, the chaos and turmoil let alone confusion she and her team have caused is finally looked at in perspective. Her need to do a good job and go to any lengths to make her client happy caused a war. It’s dark but its funny that it all happened. 

The downside to the story is the side plot about Kate and her sister Peggy and some home truths, Eastenders style, are revealed. It doesn’t add anything to the film as a whole and on its own, no one really cares, not even the characters who it effects as the end of the day. It instead makes the plot stutter along until it is finally swept away with the big meeting at the border.

The hope that this film could find an audience is slim due its dark comedic nature and it would need to be released with care, just in case any world events may make seem, again, in poor taste. But I am positive it will find a worthy audience that would make their dark hearts laugh.



#HowToFakeaWar  




Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Cinema Rediscovered 2019 Round Up


Now in its fourth year, Cinema Rediscovered in Bristol has become a staple in the film calendar, especially has it not only focuses on older films and bringing them into focus but it also pushes film criticism to the forefront. With talks and panels and the workshop for up and coming critics, the discussion about the state of criticism and what the future holds isn’t something you’d find at any other film festival. 

Screening films more well known such as ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ celebrating its 70th anniversary and Hitchcock’s ‘Notorious’ ahead of its re-release back into cinemas, alongside these are new documentary, ‘Filmfarsi’ delving into the near forgotten world of Iranian cinema and forgotten gems such as ‘Une Femme Douce’. They also weaved a theme within the festival exploring gluttony, decadence and resistance, screening British classic, ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover’ and French Italian classic ‘La Grande Bouffe’. 

With the Cotswold gin flowing and the film discussions abundant, the Watershed, home for the festival and as Bristol’s shining beacon for film, the festival was a great place to catch up with fellow film fans and critics alike as well as discover something new/old that you hadn’t seen before. Looking forward to next year and what the Cinema Rediscovered team create. 

Having seen ‘Notorious’ for the first time, I wrote a separate post about it which can be read HERE.


I will also being writing about ‘Eyes of Laura Mars’ which was also a first time watch for me, presented by a favourite collective of mine, The Final Girls. Post to come soon!



Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Blind Spot Series: Notorious


“There’s nothing like a love song.... to give you a good laugh”

A film’s reputation proceeds it, especially if it’s title is ‘Notorious’. Hitchcock’s thriller, spy romance starring two of the biggest stars at the time of its release, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Screened at Cinema Rediscovered before the film is re-released back on the big screens and as part of the BFI Cary Grant season, so if you've not seen it, now you get the chance to see the film how it was meant to be seen.

As the daughter of a convicted German war criminal, Alicia, is recruited by US government agent, Devlin, to infiltrate a group of her father’s comrades, particularly Alexander Sebastian, who used to have more than a crush on her. But as with most best laid plans, Alicia and Devlin fall in love, putting a strain on her mission and leaving him jealous. This is Hitchcock though so don’t expect the usual beats to this sort of film. Hitchcock knows how to build suspense as well where to put the camera and how to break the rules.

The film is famous for breaking the Hayes Code as it includes kissing, open mouthed for more than 3 seconds. I always remember this film as the ones where Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant’s faces are stuck together for long periods of time, but luckily this film is more than what makes it, notorious.

Alicia is an unconventional leading lady, as she does what she wants, even drunk driving in the early hours. Her reputation proceeds her and doesn’t back down from a challenge. It insinuated on more than one occasion in the film that she’s been around, slept with a few men and for this reason she is right for her mission. But her keen eye and composure, even when drunk is not seen as an asset, except by Devlin. It’s refreshing to see a character like her drink and not care for the judgement put upon her and sacrifices none of her charm and elegance. Next to Grant’s Devlin, the epitomy of suave, they create a very beautiful couple which is remarked on in the film. But they also make an excellent spy couple but this might be us being blinded by their pairing. 

As well as the romance and thrills, there is the very welcome comedic element sliced in. Any time Sebastian’s mother hears that Alicia is in pain, her happy smirk is hard not to laugh at as the hatred is so obvious. Quips and witty comments are thrown out to also create a humorous atmosphere balancing the serious tone which is the main part of the film. With the film released back into cinemas, hopefully this will give a wider audience to experience this Hitchcock classic. 

#CinemaRedis19  

@BFI

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Around the World: Russia


As promised from a while ago, a post just for the Russian superhero film, ‘Guardians’ as it was needed. When you see the typical superhero stance on a poster and they are dressed in ‘special’ suits, plus there’s a guy who is half bear, you can guess what sort of film you’re going to get.

With a standard plot about four individuals who were experimented on and as a result of these experiments, that turns out only a few of them agreed to, they all have super powers. Now the leader on this programme has gone rogue after getting powers of his own, a secret task force is assembled to recruit back these gifted individuals to help defeat the evil guy. Standard. The ‘Guardians’ as they are called, are defeated at first but then through the power of montage they are given weapons and go into training mode and once again go into battle with the now crazy evil guy. He’s crazy now too as he literally tears apart a building and wants to take over all the satellites. There is also a side plot where the only woman in the group can’t remember her life before the experiments but you can guess who she was married to before a mile off

This may sound like I’m not taking this film seriously but I was actually very much looking forward to seeing this film, no matter the outcome. For a standard plot, I was still very much confused throughout. I didn’t really understand the need for the experiments in the first place or what the evil guy was really up to, all I know is that he was evil and killed people and experimented on people. The real fun parts was when the task force recruited the guardians, going to various parts of the Russian domain and seeing what they could do with their powers. And of course seeing one man go full bear, that was enjoyable and most amusing as he ruined quite a few outfits but never seemed to be without clothes. 

The film was not adapted from a comic book or novel source material although considering the wider plot, I’m surprised. The fact that this film did not do very well at the box office was not a surprise. Even the filmmakers were quite optimistic and announced a sequel would happen with Chinese characters BUT that never happened. The filmmakers said to was due to the fact that no one knew the characters. There was no ready made fan base to hype the film despite the marketing team going all out. But in a movie world filled to the brim with superhero films, TV shows, comics and books, maybe there just wasn’t space for the Guardians to thrive. Except, on a late night screening at an obscure cinema that appreciates the more ridiculous things in life. 

Next up... check out all the films HERE
#AroundtheWorldin80Films