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Review Creation

To make my review look as realistic as possible, I followed the format of a pre-existing empire article for The World’s End. I chose this review as it was one of the longer ones as was my review, and the layout looked simple to follow. It also had room for a lot of writing which meant that I could cover my film in great detail, just as Empire magazine does.

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I started the review with the picture as this required the least amount of work but also takes up the most space, meaning that I would be able to work around it. I chose to use a screenshot from my film that showed Andy working in the garden, without giving away too much of the plot before reading the review.screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-09-56-04 I then went on to add more of the structural elements, such as the arrows and bar at the top of the page. I chose to add in the more structural features before adding in the writing so I knew how much space I had to fit my writing into.screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-10-05-47

Once I’d added in the main bits, I started writing the little introduction part that is featured in all Empire articles, basically explaining who is in the film and a brief synopsis of what it’s about. This is to give people a taster for the review so they can decide whether or not they’d like to read it. To make sure the colours are the same as those used in the official magazine, I used the ink tool on Pixelmator to select the colour from that section on the picture of the magazine I had uploaded, and then selected for the writing to be that colour. I also added in the ‘look closer’ section. There were no shapes like this on the software, so I had to create my own using a rectangle and a triangle, then grouping the shapes together. Iscreen-shot-2016-12-07-at-10-03-54

I wanted to make sure I had chosen the exact font, or the closest I could get to it, to make sure my review looked as authentic as possible. I typed the name of the film into DaFont, a free font download website, and scrolled through the Sans Serif fonts. I then came across one that looked quite similar to the one used in Empire called Bebas Neue, so I downloaded this and installed it into the Mac. However, the font didn’t initially show up in Pixelmator, so I had to quit the software and turn it back on again. Fortunately this worked so I was able to add this font into my poster.

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I used this font for the ‘IN CINEMAS’ in the arrow at the top of the review as I felt it looked quite similar.

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I then continued to add in the rest of the blocks, arrows and the writing at the bottom of the page using the two fonts I had researched. To create the arrow to be the right size, I needed to press the ‘make editable’ button, as it was too long when the arrow at the bottom of the page was shorter and fatter.

The writing at the bottom of the page saying ‘over 14,000 reviews online’ was really difficult to find as the number 4 was dropped below the writing. After spending a lot of time trying to find this font, I decided to choose a font that looked similar in all other aspects as I simply couldn’t find one with the lowered 4. I used a font called Dream Orphans as it had the gothic text style that replicated the font in Empire. Then, in Pixelmator, I was able to change the size and position of the number 4, making it look realistically like the magazine.

Once I had put in all the shapes and the basic writing in place, I then went onto finding the right font for the body of the review. I found many fonts but none that were exactly alike. Then, when adding the font into Pixelmator from WordPress, I realised that the font used in WordPress, called Georgia, was perfect and looked very similar. I then put each section of the review into different sections so it fit in the available space. I made sure to leave a big enough gap between the middle two rows of text, so that there was space for the fold if it were a real two page spread. I then lined them all up so that they looked neat and orderly. Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 12.33.33.png

I created the ‘verdict’ section using the Dream Orphans font for the title and the Steelfish font for the writing as I felt that it looked quite similar. Then I added in the stars using the pre-set shapes in Pixelmator.

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I’m really pleased with the final out come of my review, and I feel that through closely following the format of the Empire magazine gave me a clear view of what to create.

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Magazine Review – Creation v1

Here is my plan for the magazine review:

  1. The start of the review will give a bit of background to the director and possibly their filmmaking history.
  2. The next is a brief stylistic analysis of the film.
  3. The next is a detailed description of the start of the film, which may be a struggle for me as my film is only 5 minutes long.
  4. The next paragraph will talk about the middle part of my film (we see him tend to his garden and the conflicts involved)
  5. The following paragraph will discuss the final scene of the film.
  6. The following paragraph will be an overall summary, evaluative summary.
  7. The final paragraph will be a short and snappy explanation into the main successes of my film.

The first section of the review

Released: Out now

Certificate: 12A

Director: Chloe Walker

Cast: Andrew Curwen, Helen Curwen, Mike Roberts, Eileen Roberts

Running time: 5 mins.

Plot: Known and adored by all, Andy (Curwen) tends to his allotment on a regular basis taking great care and pride in his land. Initially he appears to be a kind and friendly man, but, after a day of his allotment being trespassed on and abused, something begins to seem amiss in his endearing façade.

Paragraph 1 – background to the director and possibly their filmmaking history.

Drawn to the murderous temptations of the human mind, Chloe Walker is anchored firmly back in the thriller genre with her newest release, Green Fingers. After entering the comedy scene with Breaking Bath earlier this summer, Walker is back to filming in the style of her debut, Mummy’s Girl. After the plot difference between her two releases, nobody was sure what to expect next – sci-fi, action, romance? It was a settling surprise to see Walker filming in the same style that once came as a success to her.

Paragraph 2 – a brief stylistic analysis of the film.

The beauty of the natural setting of Green Fingers lends itself to the drama of the opening sequence, from then it gradually goes down hill. The film follows Andy (Andrew Curwen) on what may appear to be a typical day at the allotment. The sun is shining, neighbours are happily pottering around, and Andy is presumed to be seen as a friendly addition to this patch of land. However, the mood subtly turns when he reacts sourly to, at best, mildly irritating occurrences. Sparked by the reveal of a finger, we are then sharply and unexpectedly whisked to a quaint cottage where a row between Andy and his wife (Helen Curwen) sets foot. In true Walker style, a brutal and possibly unnecessary act of violence follows in pursuit. The acting during in this scene does something in way of compensation for the lack of tension built before the final blow, and both actors do well to channel the amount of rage and upset in just two minutes, that would be necessary for that kind of ending to follow.

Paragraph 3 – detailed description of the start of the film

The story begins with a beautiful shot within the setting of the allotment, complete with lens flares and uplifting music. The start is really something quite beautiful, creating a dramatic yet joyous tone to the film. From this point, the film cinematography of the film looks positive, giving high hopes for what to follow. Walker’s use of camera angles is something to acknowledge, and what some may see as dull, our main character isn’t fully shown in the film for what seems to be a fairly long time. She made great use of the setting available and utilised it to create the serene feel of what a film based on a garden may lend itself to. Andy is the only one on camera for this point of time, we see him digging and pottering about his land, with close ups of the soil which, in hindsight, discretely suggest towards what is hidden under there. Andy is then shown to be filling up his watering can and, slowly, making his way towards the bottom of his garden.

Paragraph 4- the middle part of my film 

Watering his (very beautifully filmed) cabbages, a woman (Eileen Roberts) approaches. A very abrupt conversation follows, which was presumably aimed to show the friendliness and lovability of our main character, and does nothing for the development of the plot. Perhaps a longer and more cheerful chat would have done the job and suited the scenic start to the film. She leaves, he continues watering, until a gentleman (Mike Roberts) walks up to and stands on the allotment. Andy rushed up to him and threatens him. The actors in this part are exceptional and the anger that Andy feels can be shared at home. What lets this scene down is the continuity of it. There is a broken and disjointed feel that doesn’t suit the tone that has been set. The film then dissolves, a rare technique, to hours later during the same day. Andy is sat on a camping chair, reading a gardening magazine with a hot drink. The peace is restored. The close up of his hands reveals a wedding ring, which is seemingly unexpected since there has been no mention of a partner throughout the duration of the film. Andy then stands up, grabs some conveniently places bulbs and buries them. Queue the dramatic lens flare, the woman seen earlier walks up, with a dog, to where he had buried the bulbs. Andy quickly scurries away. The pace of the film then begins to pick up as the dog finds something buried in the soil (credit to the dogs on screen performance). Andy rushed back over and shoos them away, leans over and reveals the secret hidden beneath the soil; a finger.

Paragraph 5 – final scene of the film

His wife is heard on the phone, exposing the difficulties behind their relationship, which is particularly helpful since it’s very unclear what’s happening at this point. With Helen’s voice still being heard, Andy parks up and walks into the house with no ‘hello’s’ and ‘how are you’s’. The hostility of this marriage is clear as soon as they are face to face. His wife cuts straight to the arguing, desperate to know where her husband has been so late at night. Andy is harsh, sparing no empathy for his once beloved; the tension rises. It must be noted, however, the contrast between the bright and cheery beginning of the film with the dark and aggressive ending; perhaps symbolising how Andy’s life has altered for the better since ‘removing’ his lover from the equation. The two argue, resulting in his wife walking away. Realistically, unprovoked Andy reaches for the fire tools and swings for her, the film ends. The ending is vague at best. The chronology is completely off, leaving a sense of confusion that cannot be compared to a justifiable mystery; just plain confusion.

Paragraph 6 -an overall, evaluative summary

Green Fingers begins on an incredibly high note, with beautiful cinematography that could be compared to only a Malick film. It is well filmed but slow, picking up only just before the climax, then slowly dissipating until a final Walker’esque act of unprovoked violence at the end.

Paragraph 7- short and snappy explanation into the main successes of my film 

The actors were highly enthused, and overall their characters were played well with particular note to Andrew’s very successful debut. If not for the disjointed editing this film could have been a real success.

My review is around 900 words long which will be plenty to fill an A3 page review, and will give me room to remove anything is its too long.

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Film Magazine Review Research – Content

To ensure my review looks as realistic as possible, I have decided to look into the format of a reputable film magazine and try and replicate it. Empire is a British film review magazine that’s released monthly. It is edited by Terri White and has been running for the past 27 years.

To get a feel of the style of writing, I went onto Empire’s website and decided to read a review on The Girl on the Train, since it’s in the same genre as my film and I’ve seen it so I will know what parts of the film the review is referencing.

Pop quiz, hotshot: what do High Fidelity, P.S. I Love You and The Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic all have in common? The answer, of course, is those original novels were all set in the British Isles but the films relocated the action to the US. And you can now add The Girl On The Train to that list. So Instead of riding the train from fictional Buckinghamshire town of Ashbury into Euston, Rachel (Blunt) now travels from upstate New York into Manhattan.

Feelings towards such geographical recklessness can often be strong as fans of the original work rage against the perceived slight — the reaction to Hellblazer‘s LA relocation in Keanu Reeves’ Constantine being particularly fierce. Here, however, it turns out to be one of the film’s greatest strengths. Yes, the setting by a lake is picturesque, but it’s actually the houses — large and in typically spacious US plots of land — which really sell that Rachel would be able to focus on one building long enough to fabricate her make-believe relationship with its inhabitants. Compare and contrast with the tightly grouped housing stock typically seen from a London Midland commuter train.

A typical thriller in its set-up, the film also has the added depths of Rachel’s alcoholism (and the misery that can bring) to tackle, which director Tate Taylor does with unflinching honesty. Although her blackouts are also used as a plot device, there to serve the mystery by positioning her as an unreliable narrator. Still, it’s the thriller aspect that most lets the film down, failing to truly engage or offer enough plausible red herrings to send your mind whirring through different theories as to what could have happened. The twists rarely, if ever, have the impact that were intended.

At the centre of this is Emily Blunt, who despite the recognisable cast around her, is rarely off screen. She’s a fine actress, but obviously miscast here. It’s not her fault particularly — she simply fails to adequately escape her star power to believably portray such a damaged character.

Too often successful page-turners stumble as they’re adapted for the big screen, Before I Go To Sleep being a recent example. The Girl On The Train fails to reverse that trend.

A lot of this review talks about the novel that the film was based on, and the overwhelming differences between the two. There is also a brief mention to the miscasting of the film, which isn’t really applicable to my film as I had limited actors and the ones I did use were really convincing. The only part of the review that I could base mine around it the mention of how the thriller genre of the film is approached. Since I haven’t really found this one helpful, I will read another review which has more positive feedback, and then I may be able to get some inspiration from it.

I then read the review on 10 Cloverfield Lane, as I had also seen this film and it’s vaguely a thriller film.

As recently as the beginning of 2016, no-one had heard of 10 Cloverfield Lane. For years there was talk of a sequel to 2008 found-footage monster movie Cloverfield, but it had all but dissipated — starved of new information from J.J. Abrams or director Matt Reeves, people had simply stopped asking them about it. And (in J.J.’s case) they had the small matter of a new Star Wars to ask about instead.

In retrospect, given Abrams’ history of springing surprises, this actually made it the ideal time for him to unveil a sequel. Or “blood relative”, as he’s calling it.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (his first feature), announced via a trailer in January, and out less than two months later, it bears scant similarity to the first film — gone is the found-footage shaky-cam device. And rather than huge effects sequences set across an entire city, the action is claustrophobic — confined to a few cramped rooms underground. Also, there’s no giant, city-devouring monster. Unless you count John Goodman.

We open with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) fleeing New Orleans and a broken relationship. It’s an almost wordless sequence, punctuated only by her ex-boyfriend pleading with her on speakerphone as she drives into the Louisiana night. The near silence is especially effective — the sudden loud crash as her car is rammed into is a shock scare to jolt you upright in your seat, the first of several times the film manages that feat.

Michelle wakes up in a sparse room, a drip in her arm, but manacled to a pipe. Alive, but a prisoner. It’s here we meet Howard (John Goodman), the man who pulled her from the wreck, but is now her captor. It’s his introduction that strains credibility, as he tells her, “I’m sorry, but no-one is looking for you,” as she bargains for her release, delaying his reveal of what he claims is really going on: the country’s been attacked by enemies unknown, but they’re safe in the bunker. That information comes later, after an escape attempt and more ominous statements from Howard, but it’s clear she’s not in the immediate physical danger she believes she’s in, which lessens the effect.

But it’s the only real misstep, things picking up immediately as the bunker’s third inhabitant, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), is introduced and the central conceit is presented — is Howard telling the truth (as the evidence initially suggests), or is something more sinister going on? From this point we learn things as Michelle does, and her fear and uncertainty are projected onto us. The best she can hope for is that Howard is a good man, just not particularly normal. But as time passes, and she picks up snippets of information, it becomes clear there’s a darkness in his past that threatens what she’s been led to believe. Emmett sees it too, suggesting a potential bucket list to Howard which includes taking “a pilgrimage to Waco”.

It’s a smaller, more intimate film than the first Cloverfield would lead you to expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of action. Sequences that see Michelle crawling through ventilation ducts are particularly tense and uncomfortable (no, “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs,” quipping here). The key to this succeeding is Winstead. Goodman is good in the showiest role, but it’s Winstead’s film, and she ably takes us with her on her journey of ever-changing emotions.

The impact that journey will have on you depends on how much you already know — the colder you go in, the better. So see it before someone blurts out its secrets in your earshot. Good luck.

The start of this article begins with mention to the sequel to 10 Cloverfield Lane and how people had been anticipating another film. This seems to be common as in the review for The Girl on The Train, there is mention to the novel. Therefore I’ll need to read the introduction to a film with neither a prequel or a novel to understand how to set the tone for my review. Next is a brief description of the director and it also mentions other films the director has been a part of, which therefore may encourage the reader to continue reading if they enjoyed their past films. It then reverts back to a comparison between Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield lane; I could do a brief comparison between this film and Mummy’s Girl possibly in this section. The following paragraph exclusively talks about the very start of the film in great detail. There are then two more paragraphs describing what happens in the rest of the film. The next paragraph is basically an overall brief review of the film, saying its strengths and the overwhelming feel to the film, which I can easily repeat in my film. Finally, the last paragraph is a little harder to describe. Since 10 Cloverfield Lane is based on a huge mystery, the final line lends itself to that. I may be able to recreate something similar to this since my film features a bit of a twist at the end.

I then read another review for Free Fire to ensure I had a clear idea of the tone and content of an Empire film review. This film is by independent director, Ben Wheatly, and therefore may show a few more similarities between my film and the review.

The most prolific and one of the most proficient filmmakers to come out of the UK in the last decade, Ben Wheatley has already proved himself across horror, thriller and whatever genre High Rise was (period sci-fi psycho-drama?). Now he moves to America — not literally; he’s still shooting in Brighton – and establishes himself as an action director as well. Surely a nihilistic rom-com is next.

Wheatley’s economy of storytelling is impressive here. There are ten key characters and at least four groups in this story of an arms deal gone wrong, but their personalities and relationships are so briskly established that, when the bullets start flying twenty minutes in, we can predict who each person will target or protect. Or – this being Wheatley – we think we can. Comparisons to Reservoir Dogs are probably inevitable given the warehouse setting, copious firearms and endlessly quotable script, but this is a sleeker and more violent film (though perhaps less sadistic).

The story opens on a couple of Bostonian ne’er-do-wells, Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) and Stevo (Sam Riley). Stevo is bruised and sore after some sort of brawl the night before, but they’ve been hired by visiting Irishmen Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) as muscle at an exchange of arms for cash, so Bernie holds him in line. The Irish pair are presumably Republican terrorists, but among this crowd, terrorists are at the more sympathetic end of the spectrum – particularly given Murphy’s shy flirtations with Brie Larson’s Justine, the fixer who has introduced the parties to this deal.

Justine’s counterpart is Ord (Armie Hammer), a nattily-dressed psychopath so calm he’s almost horizontal, and the arms dealer is Sharlto Copley’s Vernon. A peacocking braggart and obnoxious pervert in a bespoke suit, Copley commits utterly to his cringeing attempts to flirt with Justine and threatens to run away with the film. But instead, two supporting participants discover a standing grudge and a fight breaks out. Soon the air is filled with bullets – call it Chekhov’s arms cache – and everyone is nursing at least one wound.

The hour of gunfighting that follows isn’t quite as strong as Wheatley’s previous films. While he and co-writer Amy Jump do a miraculously good job of shifting up the pace regularly, there’s still a mid-film lag where the sniping threatens to become monotonous. And after a strong first half, it inches imperceptibly to its crescendo, a pay-off not quite as leftfield as his other work.

Still, unlike the familiar American slugfests, this has surprises. There are moments where everyone tries to step back from the brink of mutually assured destruction, and pauses where they look for an exit strategy. What’s more, these gunshots really hurt. A wound to the leg leaves people crawling, not running slightly more slowly like most action heroes. By the third act most of the survivors are on their bellies, grasping desperately at weapons only just out of reach. It’s astonishing how novel that seems.

Wheatley continues an unbroken run of quality, helped by a great cast and a startlingly effective premise. This is seriously cool, stuffed with great dialogue and riddled with bullets.

Again, the first paragraph of this review briefly describes the directors filmmaking history and lists the types of genres his films are; ultimately showing what a diverse director he is. I feel this is quite important as he’s not funded by a huge company like the big six, and therefore giving a little background information can be quite helpful. The next paragraph is a very brief synopsis and compares the film to Reservoir Dogs, which again helps the reader to understand Wheatley’s style of work if they have never heard of him or his films before. Similarly to the 10 Cloverfield Lane review, the following paragraph describes, in detail, the opening of the film and gives an insight into the characterisation of the main stars. The next two paragraphs then briefly describe the rest of the film, giving an opinion into the pace and style. The following paragraph again gives an overall summary and highlights the main positives of the film. The final paragraph is a final review, basically listing the best qualities of the film and suggests why people would want to view it.

From reading these two reviews I have been able to decipher quite a bit about Empire’s style of writing.

  1. The review is written in an informal, and untechnical tone. It is clear to read and can be understood by anybody.
  2. The online film reviews are a bit shorter, but an Empire magazine review is approximately 700 words.
  3. The start of the review gives a bit of background to the director and possibly their filmmaking history.
  4. The next is a brief stylistic analysis of the film.
  5. The next is a detailed description of the start of the film, which may be a struggle for me as my film is only 5 minutes long.
  6. The next paragraph will talk about the middle part of my film (we see him tend to his garden and the conflicts involved)
  7. The following paragraph will discuss the final scene of the film.
  8. The following paragraph will be an overall, evaluative summary.
  9. The final paragraph will be a short and snappy explanation into the main successes of my film.