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Review: Catfish by Jamie

I thought long and hard about whether or not to make this review spoiler free or not and, in the end, I came to the conclusion that not mentioning spoilers would make this film particularly difficult to write about so yes, there will be spoilers in this review. Due to the nature of this film I would heartily suggest that you go and watch the film before reading further. To make sure that you don’t accidentally read anything that will spoil the film for you, I’ll place a video underneath this paragraph.

Hahaha, that never gets old. Yes, there’s nothing quite as funny as a chimp sexually violating a frog. It’s true what they say, they’re so like us. Anyway, on with Catfish then. I assume that we’re all finally on the same page here, all having watched the film. If you decided to read on anyway without watching the film then I guess that’s up to you. I can’t stop you.

The film begins in New York when professional photographer Nev Schulman receives a painting of one of his pictures from Abby Pierce, an eight year old from Michigan. Nev begins an online friendship with Abby and, by exension, Abby’s family including Abby’s mother, Angela, Abby’s brother Joel and Abby’s older half-sister Megan who Nev takes quite a shine to as they chat online and via phone calls.

Nev’s brother Ariel and his friend Henry Joost begin documenting Nev’s relationship with the family, in particular his developing romance with Megan. It turns out that Abby isn’t the only artiste in the family and that Megan herself is quite the proficient dancer and prolific songwriter. She sends him copies of songs she has recorded and he is quite impressed. Impressed, that is, until he finds that the songs have pretty much been taking from YouTube videos. This leads to the guys investigating some of the other claims the family have made.

For example, Megan had claimed that they had purchased a gallery in order to hold shows for Abby’s work and had sent them pictures of the building. Through some online sleuthing they discover that the building is actually an old JC Penney’s which is actually still up for sale. Determined to find out the truth behind the story of the family, the filmmakers decide to head out to Michigan to confront the family.

The first place they head to is a horse ranch which Megan supposedly owns in the middle of the night, which actually turns out to be quite a creepy scene. Upon arriving they find that find that no one is there and there is certainly no sign of any horses. Furthermore an investigation of the mailbox reveals that it’s full of postcards which Nev had sent Megan on his travels proving once and for all that the British door-based letter slot is far superior than the American mailbox system.

The next morning the three guys decide to just show up at the family’s house. There they find that Angela and her husband doesn’t look anything like their Facebook pictures, Abby isn’t an artist, Megan is no where to be found and Angela is in fact a housewife who cares for two disabled sons and is the actual person behind the paintings. The filmmakers come to the conclusion that it is Angela who has essentially fabricated an entire life on Facebook, creating fictional profiles for a large network of family and friends and that she is, in fact, in love with Nev

Nev eventually gently confronts Angela about all this and the truth finally comes out. The last half hour or so of the film is spent basically interviewing Angela and her family in order to try and get some kind of handle of just who she is. It’s revealed through these interviews that she basically carried out the lie in order to vicariously experience a life she had given up on in order to have the family she has now. During most of her interviews, Angela is seen making a sketch of Nev. When everything is all over Nev returns to New York where he finally receives Angela‘s portrait of himself.

So yeah, that’s basically the film. And it’s a well told story with many interesting turns and twists and you never really lose interest but by far the biggest question surrounding this film is it’s veracity. Are the events pictured real or is it all an elaborate hoax. It does seem as though things play out so nicely that it’s almost unbelievable but I’ve let documentaries slide for that before, the fantastic ‘King of Kong’ being a good example.

Still, there’s something else that just drives me to believe that the whole thing is fabricated and that’s the way people speak, especially the three filmmakers. It just seems to me as though they are saying things that they had planned out and trying to make it sound natural. I’ll admit this could be simply due to the presence of a camera. I’ve seen people just talking about stuff and coming off completely differently simply because they are being filmed. Still, these guys just come off so unnatural to me that I have a hard time believing that the film is a true documentary.

There’s also a scene where they’re talking about chickens and apparently none of them knew that chickens lay one egg a day. Really? Are you shitting me? Who the fuck doesn’t know that? I know that they live in New York but surely they must have learnt that at some point in their lives. The whole thing, again, comes of as something written that they thought would be a wacky little conversation because seriously, I refuse to believe that there’s anyone who has heard of chickens that doesn’t know that they lay an egg a day. I mean Jesus fucking Christ!

Ahem. Whether or not the film is real there are a couple things that just rubbed me up the wrong way. The first is the unrepentant douchebaggery of the three main characters. They just seem so smug to me that I just found them genuinely annoying and I was kinda glad that they’d been played for fools. The second thing is the style of the film. Something about how heavily it relied on the internet imagery pissed me off as well. Yes, I understand it’s a documentary about people meeting and forming relationships over the internet but do I really need to see Google Maps every time they go travelling? And I swear this film had showed Facebook more fucking times than ‘The Social Network’ did. It just seemed as though they were saying “Look! The internet exists and we’re using it a lot in our movie! Aren’t we current and up to date!” It just irritated the hell out of me and I realise that’s more my problem than the films but still.

Despite these flaws, it is a interesting story, true or not, about the perils of relationships with strangers over the internet and one which is certainly relevant right now what with the release of ‘The Social Network’ and Mark Zuckerberg being name ‘Times’ man of the year. Yes, 2010 was the year of Facebook and ‘Catfish’ is another part of that. Overall I’ll give it 3 out of 5.



Infomania: Why We Love Transformers 2 by Jamie

Since I’m going to be busy today, I needed something quick to blog if I was going to live up to my new ideal of having a new post everyday. I couldn’t think of anything and so I thought I was screwed until I was pointed to this amusing video from Infomania by one of their interns entitled ‘Why We Love Transformers 2’. Enjoy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

More from Infomania can be found here



Transformers: Revenge of the Written Accompaniment by Jamie

So there it is. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has been released and I’ve already given my general impression of the film in a mildly drunken way in the video review. I didn’t feel, however, that the time restrictions that YouTube strictly enforce coupled with the fact that we were filming in a hotel lobby allowed me the time necessary to fully explain just where I think this film went wrong.

I’m going to try and do this as detached, unemotionally and as neutral as possible but that will be difficult since this film angered me so. Seriously, it’s now been literally ages since I saw the film and still it keeps popping into my mind and making me angry. Really angry. Far, far angrier than a movie based on a cartoon based on toys from the 80s should make any sane or rational person, something which I’d considered myself to be until the release of this movie.

So what the hell was the problem with this film anyway? Why would it evoke such a reaction in someone such as myself? Well, let’s begin by looking at the Transformers themselves. Optimus Prime returns as the only Autobot from the previous film with any real screen time or personality. (Yes, Bumblebee returns as well but his voice is inexplicably gone again and even he seems to get the short straw this time around.) This is a problem considering the fact that Optimus is missing from most of the damn film. The reason being, of course, that Optimus dies fairly early on and honestly, I didn’t care. One of my favourite heroic characters got killed, again, and I just didn’t care.

The reason being is that, unlike in the original animated film, there is no weight to Optimus’ death. There is no sense of loss from any of the characters which pretty much telegraphs the fact that the big blue guy will be back before the film is over. Seriously, there’s a scene where the Autobots are gathered around Optimus’ body and I thought ‘Ah, here we go. We’re finally gonna see some mourning for Optimus.’ But no, the scene is cut short by the arrival of the military and is soon over. Compare this to the animated film where Optimus is slowly dying with the Autobots gathered around him and are genuinely upset with the passing of their great leader. Optimus even falters as he goes to pass the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, just highlighting the fact that he really is dying. It’s an emotional scene that genuinely tugs at the heart strings.

So that’s Optimus dealt with. Let’s move on to one of the new additions to the cast and one that I was really looking forward to, the perennial fan-favourite, Soundwave. What the fuck did Michael Bay do to Soundwave? He went to all the trouble of making sure Frank Welker was there to voice the character and he doesn’t even bother to use a vocoder to make his voice sound right? Maybe I’m being pedantic and perhaps it’s something I could have gotten over if only they’d used the character better than they did. Soundwave is Megatron’s right hand robot and should have been used as such. Instead he sits in space, fucking a satellite in order to gather information. Sure, it fits in with his position as a recon-bot but really? That’s all one of the most popular characters in the franchise is going to be used for? Fuck you Michael Bay. Fuck you. Hmm, so much for staying unemotional. I guess I can take some small comfort that Ravage was still ‘ejected’ from Soundwave.

So the question raises itself, could Soundwave have been used any better? And I put to you that yes, of course he could. Here’s how I feel the movie should have gone: Megatron is dead. Starscream has assumed the role as the leader of the Decpticons. Soundwave has come to Earth with a few other Decepticons and is following Starscream’s lead until about halfway through the film he discovers the location of Megatron’s body and goes behind his new leader’s back in order to revive him. Perhaps don’t even have him succeed until the very end of the film with a shot of Megatron, Soundwave in tow, confronting Starscream with the implication that something very bad is about to happen to him, something akin to what happens when Galvatron returns at Starscream’s coronation. That would have been awesome and keeping in line with the character’s main traits, Soundwave’s loyalty to Megatron and Starscream’s desire to lead the Decepticons.

So let’s get onto those two characters now. If I’m honest, this is one of the few things I did enjoy about the this film and I realise that my idea for a plot would have pretty much taken the Megatron/Starscream relationship out of the picture which I guess would have been a shame because it’s one of the few things that were actually done right. There are genuinely great character moments between Megatron and Starscream that harken back to the original cartoon and they were actually enjoyable, so well done Michael Bay for having something good in an otherwise relentless piece of shit.
Now let’s move onto the Autobots in general. Most of them are just here as cameos without much to do through the film. Arcee is introduced along with two other identical though differently coloured female bots and has nothing at all to do. Ironhide returns and has nothing at all to do. There are a few others who have nothing at all to do and have their names mentioned maybe once. And then there are the Twins, Mudflap and Skids and… wow… Just wow. It’s like Michael Bay wondered what his first Transformers film was missing, decided to watch The Phantom Menace and had an epiphany. “That’s what my movie is missing!” He cried in joy at his sudden realisation “A racially insensitive character who will annoy the fuck out of every human being who has ever lived… But I am Michael Bay! I must do things bigger and better! I’ll have two of them!” And so these vile hellspawn of Jar Jar Binks were born.

The final part of the film sees the arrival of The Fallen and the constructicons combining to form Devestator. I believe much has already been said about Devestator’s swinging scrote so I’ll forgo mentioning how fucking stupid that was once more. Instead I’d like to mention something which shows just how much Michael Bay cared about this film. Once Devestator has formed there is still at least one Constructicon fighting in the main battle! That’s fucking stupid and it shouldn’t have been hard to spot since the Constructicons are the only Decepticons with any damn colour!

As for the Fallen himself, well, he just sucked. He came to claim a giant sun-eating machine that had been hidden in a pyramid, which no archaeologist ever discovered for some reason, and being killed seconds later. Bravo. And people said Nero was a shitty bad guy.

Overall, I still haven’t gotten everything I hate about this film off of my chest and I don’t think I ever will. I’m just sick of writing this damn thing whilst the sun is shining outside. So screw it. Let’s wrap up. Every scene in this film was either a set-up to a shitty joke or a shitty joke. The midget scene, Devestator’s balls, the dogs fucking each other and Wheelie fucking Megan Fox’s leg are all examples of this. The rest is robot fighting filler just so Michael Bay can justify calling this a Transformers film. What really did impress me though was how Michael Bay and the writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Ehren Kruger (for they must also shoulder a heavy part of this blame) managed to take the Transformers who were, in all honestly, one note characters with single defining characteristics and make them zero note characters.

Laterz.



Review: Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen by Jamie

Here is the review of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. My written accompinament will follow shortly.




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