Emmy’s 2017

2017 Emmys Key Art CR: CBS

After 4 years of watching Game of Thrones conquest the Emmys, 2017 offered other Television shows a chance to snatch an award. After all the nominations were revealed in July, it proved that despite a lack of Kahleesi and Jon Snow, this year was still going to be extremely tough to call.

The three big winners throughout the night; ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘Veep’ and ‘Big Little Lies’; went home estatic with their new trophies to add to the shelf. Taking best Drama Series; ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ won against ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Stranger Things’, whilst Elizabeth Moss took ‘Lead Actress: Drama’. Ann Dowd won ‘Supporting Actress: Drama’; Alexis Bledel ‘Guest Actress: Drama’; Reed Morano ‘Directing for a Drama Series’; and Bruce Miller ‘Writing for a Drama Series’. The undefeated show also collected ‘Production design for a narrative contemporary or fantasy program (one hour or more)’, and ‘Cinematography for a single-camera series (one hour)’.the-handmaide28099s-tale-emmy-2017-agambiarra-1170x480

This was a triumphant night for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ cast and crew. Overall, I would agree with nearly all winners throughout the night; while apart of me still hoped that Reece Witherspoon would beat rival co-star Nicole Kidman for ‘Leading Actress: Limited series/TV Movie’. Despite this, the emmy’s showcased the beauty that 2017 television had to offer.

The importance of the Emmy’s is underestimated. Behind all the glam that comes with hours of preparation and red carpet appearances, the amount of work that is poured into producing and airing this show is immense. But the celebration has to be exaggerated to match the impact that TV Shows have on our lives. The appeal that comes with watching Television is that it never fully comes to an end. We can sit through two hours of a film and feel content that it has finished, or that a sequel is being produced. But a television show can be aired in your own home; creating an immediate connection. Once an hour episode has ended, we are itching for the next instalment. Television relies on a strong narrative to ensure that it retains viewers; we often forget that each episode is treated as a short film. For example, the budget for Michael Crichton’s ‘Westworld’ per episode reached $10 million; a frankly sickening amount. The dedication and money poured into TV today mirrors the influence that companies such as HBO and Netflix are having on society. TV can now also be looked at as an escape; and soon will be in parallel competition with the film industry.

2017 has been showered with mesmerising television series all year. For once it can acceptable to turn down a night out with the excuse of watching TV instead. No matter what your preference is: cowboys; thrillers; society or fantasy; 2017 has it covered. Perhaps next year Game of Thrones will be more prepared, and ensure that their work can be recognised in 2018. But for now, all credit is due to the nominations and winners identified in The Emmys 2017.

 

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

 

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My mum asked me to go watch this movie with her that had just been released in cinema. I had never seen it advertised, nor had any clue what it was about. After asking what it was even called, she replied “The Hunt for the Wilder Beasts. Come on.”

But this film, correctly titled ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, is beautiful. It focuses on a young Ricky Baker who has been passed from foster home to foster home due to his wild behaviour. He finally ends up happy at Aunty Bella and Uncle Hec’s home, based just outside the New Zealand Bush. But after a tragic plot twist, Ricky (Julian Dennison) and Uncle Hec (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park) go on the run to avoid the hilariously terrible child welfare officer Paula. The film is packed with laugh out loud moments, and touching characters that the viewers can fully relate to. Ending with an epic battle of fugitives vs. the state.

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Whilst this particular summary may seem vague, the film has reached my top ten for a specific reason. It is utterly believable and fantastically filmed. Director Taika Waititi has brought to life a tale of a boy and man finding comfort in each others company in the simplest of ways. It acts as a reminder that happiness and positivity can be found even in the toughest situations. And the stunning locations throughout are a pleasure to view.

Having watched a lot of films recently, this particular one will always remain inside my head. The story is so basic, and so pure that it will steal anyone’s heart. But it isn’t soppy in the slightest. In fact, the crude humour that carries the characters forward  balance out the heartiness of this film. Extremely average and would be accurate when describing this film; which is what makes it so perfect! We are constantly being streamed superheroes, unnatural killer monsters, and SiFi mindbenders in our cinemas. We needed a release from impossible narratives that may be exciting to watch, but difficult to connect with. ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ have managed to steal our attention away from these unrealistic worlds and drop us in the middle of the New Zealand Bush. Thank you!

Rating wise, I give this film a 9/10. The narrative is so charmingly composed, and the crazy score that backs up the wacky humour and cinematography is a brilliant match. Clearly everyone working on this film knew their role and understood how the film was to be portrayed. Tell everyone you know to go and watch this, because it truly will entertain you from start to finish.  wilderpeople

Muschietti’s ‘IT’: The Power of Sound.

After many days of self-persuasion, I finally convinced myself to go and watch Andy Muschietti’s ‘IT’, based off Stephen King’s terrifying novel. Being one who strongly avoids viewing thriller/horrors, I was admittedly sitting in the cinema with one hand over my eyes throughout the whole 2 hours and 15 minutes; only daring to watch after Pennywise the Dancing Clown disappeared off screen. But it occurred to me that, as with most films of a similar genre, the sound is much more frightening than the monster itself.

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The clown, brilliantly portrayed by Bill Skarsgård, is undoubtedly horrifying for children and adults alike. His wicked glare and physical appearance sinks into the audiences skin, whilst his haunting voice echoes repeatedly in your mind. “Time to float”. The stunning score composed Benjamin Wallfisch has an almost 20th Century feel to it, reverting back to classic piano trills, violin plucks and extended build-ups; blasting through the speakers when IT appears. More often than not, a person is likely to jump at the sudden increase of volume than the image itself. If we were to remove Wallfisch’s score, would we be just as terrified? Despite this, the costume and make-up department did a fantastic job bringing our worst nightmares to life.

The partnership of Wallfisch and Paul Hackner (Sound Designer), creates the cloud of tension threatening to suffocate the viewers throughout the film. The second the distant ringing of children’s shrill laughter or the eerie carnival jingle begins to play, it is my cue to look away. Sound prepares us for what is about to happen; it tells our hearts to begin racing, or our hands to remain firmly gripped to the cinema chair; primed for steadying our shaking minds.

*SPOILER* A fantastic example is the infamous ‘Projector Scene’. As the children all stare at the sewage pipe map blown onto the wall via an old image projector, the picture suddenly changes to an innocent family photo, before mutilating the mother into IT. The image itself is obviously alarming, but the increasing speed of the clicking sound effect is much more intimidating. It warns us that the faster the sound gets, the closer we are to revealing the final image. The beauty of sound is that a simple click adds a pace, a fear and a warning; shifting the whole dynamic of the scene. Sound muffles out the screams of the kids, before Bill kicks the projector causing everything stop; apart from the noise of rasping breaths and a possessed image slides. The screen changes once, twice, three times. And all we hear are the sinister clicking of images.

screen_shot_2017_03_29_at_12-17-08_pm-0Sound is a versatile and flexible component to any successful film. Whether it soothes our audiences, or shatters their nerves, it cannot be underestimated. Whilst there are many more films our there who use the tool of Sound and the effect it can have on film-making to their advantage, there is no denying that Muschietti’s IT has created an uncontrollable demonic monster both visually and audibly.

2017 Television Adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.

Through the eyes of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian world venturing the importance of gender roles, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a sinister but necessary awakening to the continuous battle of female equality. Atwood provided us with an alternative but worryingly realistic outcome to the treatment of woman in society; merely looked at as  ‘baby-makers’ rather than people.

Bruce Miller’s adaptation has raised the bar of cinematic television. Not only does he represent the tension and discomfort felt within every page of the original copy, but he sharpens the fundamental meaning of the show as a whole. Drawn out edits that force the viewers to hold their breaths; frightened to breathe as if Aunt Lydia was to hear through the TV screen; as well as an accompanying soundtrack that mixes both our world with that of Elizabeth Moss’ character Offred’s world. It’s extremely real and extremely powerful.

The symmetrical and close-up shots that are a recognisable style throughout the show intimidates the viewers and encapsulates us. We too feel shamed and punished; reaching for our non-existent white bonnets and tugging them down to avoid the penetrable eyes of Alexis Bledel. The flaming red cloaks symbolising violence, blood, anger, isolation burn through the shots; contrasting to the grey filters and stripped lighting. Simplicity within each frame forms an exposed constriction that Miller has brilliantly achieved. alexis-bledel-handmaids-tale

Throughout the ten episodes featured in season one, continuous flashbacks appear of a world before Gilead; the United States of America. The initial plague of infertility, the riots washing over the country, the struggle to escape the totalitarianism that the new government has created. Is it frightening to compare our society today to the one within Atwood’s mind? As distant this thought may be, the similarities are occurring; and through the power of awareness television programmes such as ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ are pushing for, perhaps we can change the fate of our future before we too are stripped to nothing. Whilst we are left with the sense of hanging following the final episode of season one, we are already preparing for the harrowing battle season two has to offer.

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The simplicity of Billy Elliot.

Lee Hall and Stephen Daldry joined forces at the beginning of the new millennium to create the award winning ‘Billy Elliot’, an inspiring film following the life of a young boy pursuing his dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Whilst the film is often disregarded, we cannot underappreciate the cinematography, editing, and narrative formed to capture ‘Billy Elliot’. The raw and exposed insight of a boy attempting to cope with loss is vulnerable yet forceful; and a beautiful portrayal of a working-class man struggling to come to terms with his youngest son turning to ballet to cope.

The simplicity of the whole film is the recurring symbolism of Billy’s feet. Once only recognised wearing boxing boots, they slowly transform into a series of shots capturing pointed toes, and victorious plies. Without this particular edit, the growing nature of Billy’s character would not be as evident through the narration. The whole film has been stripped back to the basics, and Daldry has allowed the camera to do the talking, not the script. The initially uncomfortable scene of Billy’s father discovering his son’s new expression, or as many remember it as ‘The angry dance’ is a perfect example of the camera taking the role as the lead storyteller. POV shots from high angles build the growing tension; closing in the atmosphere for both characters and audiences alike. But the sudden burst of quick edits from wide pans, to hand-held close ups mirror the frustration pouring out of Billy and pulls the viewers in. Empathy and amazement fill you with the underlying sense of understanding. Despite us not all being 11-year-old boys with the passion for dance, this scene works on a level of recognition. We all struggle to express ourselves and be those others expect from us. We all fail to translate our emotions. Despite who you are, this scene will never fail to draw out your inner vulnerability and desperation to be accepted.

The budget to create this film was $3 million; which compared to other films raking in equal appraisal is incredible. It wasn’t excessive CGI or over-paid performers that made the film such a household name; it was the unique and subtle filming techniques. The role of a camera is to create an illusion. It has the power to define a film; and I believe that is exactly what it did for Billy Elliot.

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