Friday, 31 August 2012

On 31.8.12 by KieronMoore in ,    No comments
There's new Doctor Who tomorrow!

As you can guess, I'm excited and nothing would stop me watching it. For those less obsessive, the BBC have been more than a little enthusiastic with the publicity. Let's have a look at some of the ways that this new series is being promoted.

Over the past week, the official website has hosted the Chris Chibnall-scripted Pond Life, a series of short scenes supposedly following the everyday lives of Amy and Rory between adventures with the Doctor.

As it turned out, these vignettes started as a more farcical look at the Doctor's adventures, as he updates the Ponds on what he's been getting up to while attempting to visit them. The Doctor escapes Sontaran troops by surfing on fire, lays down some backing vocals (baseball caps are cool) and takes part in  one of Who's dirtiest ever visual gags. It's certainly expensive looking for a short piece of web content and there are a few nice comedy ideas - I love the Ood butler and the Ponds' interaction with him. Also, there are Romans on Rory's lunchbox, which is lovely. However, the first four Pond Life episodes are not comedy at its best (part three revolves around an Ood sitting on the toilet and isn't nearly as funny as that sounds) nor do they have much in the way of dramatic tension. They also feel rushed in that they're technically messy - editing errors such as Amy lifting a mug twice and the most obviously dubbed-in-post toast to the Doctor ever are rather distracting. 

The fifth part, however, changes tone entirely and suddenly shows us a marriage breaking apart and a Doctor who's briefly stopped fannying around with time to worry about the aforementioned marriage. It's a powerful scene that makes me want to watch Asylum of the Daleks, tomorrow's new episode, even more, and so is doing what it sets out to do.

Despite the fact that the disparate elements of Pond Life don't mesh together brilliantly and it's not as good as previous Who shorts - last year's Let's Kill Hitler prequel and the bonus scenes for the DVD were genuinely among Steven Moffat's best writing of 2011 - it is brilliant that we have this extra content. There was hardly any of this kind of stuff in the David Tennant years but now the BBC are clearly committed to expanding the world of Doctor Who. Whether Ood toilet humour is your taste or not, that's excellent.

The five episodes of series 7A have been advertised as big movie style blockbusters. While it's great that they have the budget to make this promise and it should certainly lead to some good visuals, I do hope the stories will retain the distinctly British character and interesting characterisation that the best Who has. Judging from initial reviews of Asylum of the Daleks, the first episode at least will. 

To back up this marketing claim, a series of "movie style posters" have been released. Movie style posters, that is, if big blockbuster Hollywood movies were rushed through Photoshop by Universal's work experience kid. They might as well patch in Matthew McConnaughey leaning on that Triceratops, it'd be more convincing than the Doctor's pose.

This Doctor Who Magazine cover, comparatively, is damn cool.

Anyway, the point is, new Doctor Who tomorrow!

Friday, 24 August 2012

On 24.8.12 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments
Two words I heard frequently earlier this year were "Battle Royale". This was the time when The Hunger Games was in cinemas and, while many enthusiastic youths (grumble) were praising it as the new Twilight and many others were condemning it as the new Twilight, one more interesting criticism that seemed to pop up often was that the storyline was ripped from a cult Japanese thriller entitled Battle Royale. While I hadn't seen Battle Royale myself, I agreed with Five Live's Mark Kermode, who argued that it's in the nature of genre to repeat itself - Battle Royale owes as much to Lord of the Flies as The Hunger Games does to Battle Royale. Similarity to any previous story was not the problem with The Hunger Games.

No, the problem with The Hunger Games was that it was too long, at times dry and humourless, and the camerawork was distractingly unsteady in every single shot. But the story in itself was interesting; a satire on contemporary media told through a dystopian society in which the upper classes watch selected members of the proletariat fight it out for survival. It also had a strong heroine in Katniss Everdeen, a role perfect for rising star Jennifer Lawrence.

I finally watched Battle Royale last night (thank you, Film4 and Sky+) and the first thing I noticed was that the media element of The Hunger Games isn't present here. Rather than Big Brother with guns, the main plot device behind Battle Royale is a government program to deal with the growing problem of undisciplined youths by dumping a class on an island and making them kill each other, which, frankly, makes less sense - killing off one class in secret is hardly going to solve a nationwide problem and is only going to incite further rebellion if people find out about it.

Despite this, the story which Battle Royale tells is a complex web of teenage relationships - and it tells it very well. Throughout the process, friendships crack apart as often as skulls and the teenagers are as likely to pour out emotions as bullets. Shuya Nanahera forms the romantic bond with the girl he likes as he never dared to previously, as an introverted boy rendered angry by the suicide of his father. Mitsuko, the girl who was socially awkward and disliked by others, soon becomes the most dangerous psychopath on the island. One kid, realising his death is imminent, just tries to get laid. Even the teacher running the experiment is made sympathetic; he's a lonely figure, unable to bear the behaviour of unruly students as it reminds him of the daughter that rejects him, and much more complex an antagonist than expected.

Yes, what Battle Royale does well is asking the viewer what they would do in this situation by exploring how young people of vastly varying psyches react to it (a theme I want to pick up on in a screenplay I'm writing about a group of students reacting to the news of the imminent alien apocalypse).

It's also extremely violent. From the initial classroom briefing involving a girl getting a knife thrown into her brain and a boy's neckband blowing a bloody hole through his throat, it smells of "definitely not cut to be able to get a 12A certificate". This violence shocks but never just shocks for the sake of it; it exemplifies the awful situation the characters are placed in and the finely directed, gritty action builds up a rough tension to grip the audience's attention.

The Hunger Games stands up on its own as a popular blockbuster with its own strengths and with something interesting to say, but for my money, the Japanese film that it's been compared to is the superior. Battle Royale is a deep and involving study of human relations which doesn't shy away from a bloody violence which is not exploitative but accentuates the emotion. Their plots are similar in ways but wildly different in others and there's no reason the two films can't co-exist peacefully.

I'll leave you with this hilarious joke:

What do they call The Hunger Games in France?

Battle Royale with Cheese.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

On 21.8.12 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments
Two reviews of new films I've written for The Film Pilgrim:

Continuing the Bourne franchise was always going to be a risky move after Ultimatum nicely tied off Jason Bourne’s story. The decision to revive it was thus met with skepticism, especially considering that the fourth film would neither be directed by Paul Greengrass nor star Matt Damon – but would still have his character’s name in the title.

Hope Springs tries to be an intelligent, engaging look at a relationship past its prime and, while the talented lead actors contribute excellently to this, what lets it down and reduces the ability to connect with Kay and Arnold is its lack of humour and its dull pacing. Like the thirty-first year of marriage to Tommy Lee Jones, Frankel’s film is stale and desperately in need of livening up.

Monday, 20 August 2012

On 20.8.12 by KieronMoore in , , , , ,    No comments
The latest product of my attempt at spending summer productively - an Eleventh Doctor screenplay set between A Christmas Carol and The Impossible Astronaut, exploring the Doctor's first meeting with Commander Strax and their encounter with a Weeping Angel.

People on Gallifrey Base seem to like it, which is a good sign that my ambitions to be the next Steven Moffat may not be entirely unrealistic.

Enjoy, and please feel free to leave feedback in the comments!

Read on Scribd

Thursday, 16 August 2012

On 16.8.12 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments

DilophosaurusLast weekend I visited Chester Zoo for the first time in many moons and was surprised by the new additions. They've managed to get hold of some creatures that I'd been led to believe were quite rare these days - dinosaurs.

At first this sounded like a fascinating new development, though I was soon a little worried when I realised that the dinosaurs weren't properly enclosed. If Jurassic Park was at all realistic, and I never doubt the authenticity of Mr. Spielberg, then I was in grave danger.

Despite this concern, the dinosaurs all seemed very friendly and willing to pose for my camera. Much more so, in fact, than the other animals, who generally seemed reluctant; the bears only allowed me to photograph their bottoms while the tiger was asleep underneath a mound of foliage. But photographing the dinosaurs was a joy. Except, that is, for one dilophosaur, who spat at my Canon. He must be a Nikon user. 

Here's a little video montage of my footage:

After this, I spent the rest of the afternoon chasing a bee around trying to photograph it.

Bee on Flower

And here's the set of photographs I took. Mainly of dinosaurs and bees, the highlights of my day. Somewhere there was an experienced, world-weary zookeeper watching me and despairing.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

On 12.8.12 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments
As promised, here is the film I've been working on over summer:

Go here to watch in HD!

Agent Dominic Harris visits a rural tea room on a mission which brings him face to face with an old colleague.

So. I can rest now. Or socialise. Or find other projects to overwork myself on. But am I satisfied with this?

Well, if you've watched it, there's a pretty good chance you noticed there are some problems with the audio. I have a list of excuses - microphone refused to work, then when audio was working, the recording button refused to get pressed at the right times, there was no way to turn off the nearby kitchen equipment - but really, what it comes down to is we messed up the audio. The lighting isn't great either. But I'd like to say I've learned from these mistakes and won't make them again when I have to make a film as part of my degree next year.

While I struggle to look at the film without worrying about these, there are a lot of elements I'm proud of. This was my first time getting together a group of adult actors and that ran pretty smoothly on the day. A lot of the camerawork is good and, edited together, I'm happy with the look of the film. My favourite bit, strangely enough, is actually the end credits sequence, for which I spent a day learning Apple Motion so that I could imitate a Paul Greengrass style credits, with added tea and cake.

Do let me know what you think. Don't be too harsh about the audio.

Friday, 3 August 2012

On 3.8.12 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments
This week I've been hard at work shooting and editing the new comedy short I mentioned here at the start of summer. It's a spy parody set in a tea room entitled The Scone Identity and should be online around the start of next week (and on YSTV in September, as it is a YSTV-funded production crewed mainly by YSTV members!)

It's not been the smoothest of productions. I did a bit of a road traffic accident while loaning a microphone which then refused to plug into my camera. When audio recording was sorted, audio recording failed for a few pivotal lines of dialogue, due to the difficult task of pressing the record button. So this weekend's going to be a long journey through audio adjustment and colour correction.

But we learn from our mistakes and the film's looking good. Here's a teaser poster put together by my good friend Alex Buckley: