Thursday, 25 November 2010

Influence maps


Turn arounds for characters





Expression sheets for Viking Superheros


Character profiles

In the land of my fictional cartoon "Viking Superheroes" I have three main characters, the hero, the villain and the sidekick. Each of these have individual personalities and therefore will need to express such characteristics to make their performance credible. To know how each character will perform in certain situations, its best to have a detailed understanding into the spectrum of their lives. Here are insights into the aforementioned characters.

    * Billy

Billy is a small, slightly plump 12 year old boy who spends his time with his nose stuck in History books to keep away from bullies. He would dash around in attempts to dodge the thuggish bullies that pull classroom pranks on him on a daily basis. The library is his sanctuary where Billy hides away from being picked on, as the kind Librarian keeps an eye on him, handing him books to help build his knowledge and keep him out of trouble. The egotistical bullies dare to go wandering in the library in fear that they will look weak and nerdy to their freinds, therefore Billy is completely safe. Then comes the dreaded lesson - Physical Education. Coming away from the comforts of his own classroom he is thrown in the deep end, being laughed at and picked on due to his confidence and lack of physical stature. People would trip him up during football, make him run as they chased after him, throw balls at him and use him as a goal. Then one day Billy runs out of history books he can take out at the Library - a moment of sadness drifts across his face as the Library is now nothing more than refuge with nothing to gain. The silence is broken by a shuffle on the shelf as a book slips and hangs half in the air. Out of curiousity, Billy approaches the book to see what made it fall away from the shelf, with intention to put it back in place. It is this moment that changes his school life forever, the book is one Billy hasnt read before and his about his favourite subject - the Vikings. When opening this book Billy is immersed to a world of mythical characters from the ancient Viking era. Here he meets his sidekick Thor, who introduces Billy to the reason of his presence. Thor explains how the book chooses a wise warrior to conquer the evil lord Hel, giving the reader the power of a Viking demi God, thus the battle begins to protect Billys beloved school and its Library. These new found powers help initialise a new confidence in his School life and suddenly hes top in P.E class, much to his classmates suprise.

    *   Loki

Loki is mischevious villain character from the Viking underworld, who wishes to persue his mischevious acts amongst the school. Using his powers of shape shifting, he can get himself into the minds of the victims he pranks. He senses the school as a brilliant place to lurk, the children all so chaotic themselfs that it is perfect for his presence to linguer. Therefore he plans to dominate the school and its inhabitants, with the intention that the children will turn into his personal slave race so that he can start world domination and spread the underworld to new levels. In Norse Mythology, Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. 

    * Thor

Thor is the sidekick to Billy, giving him wisdom and confidence to fight against the evil powers of Loki. Thor, unlike his steriotypical nature for being unstable and angry, is actually a kind and somewhat clumsy warrior. This being said however, he will stand strong in a fight and beleive in what is right - he wont allow anyone to stand in his way if he has anything to do with it! Thor glows with the lightening energy that comes with his personality and Godly "magical" abilities. In Norse Mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, destruction, fertility, healing, and the protection of mankind.


Viking Superhero synopsis

As I came to find that the Viking demi God "Hel" was a female, and my character designs were all male I realised I had to change the design - this process seemed stupid as I already had an interesting character. Therefore I changed the character to be that of Loki, the mischevious God of Norse mythology who seemed to like making havoc and destruction wherever he went. This fitted in better to the story, as Loki could be wanting to "play" with the innocent childrens minds as the School is full of easy targets for Lokis cunning plans. Loki can use the children to his advantage and start a super army on Earth!

The class Nerd Billy is often the subject of bullying and abuse, a boy with no confidence. He loves nothing more than to go to the School Library and to get a few books out to read. Although hes top in his class at just about everything (asides from P.E), he has a passion for History. He gets out books on ancient civilisations and cultures, but his most favourite subject is the mighty Vikings! One day he becomes bored of reading the same books over and over again, only to notice something sticking out of the shelves of the History department. There lays an old book, half hanging off the shelf, so Billy takes it. To his surprise, this battered old book is about the Vikings, the title being carved into the book which is covered in dusty filth. Billy opens this book and reads the first few lines "Behold! Whoever reads this shall bear the burden of our existence!". After this, Billy finds that he has unlocked an evil source of power, that of evil Viking Demi-Gods who wish to settle a battle they fought before being locked in the book for over a thousand years. Billy is confronted by a small but strong Viking named Thor, who explains now Billy has released the powers of the underworld he is the one to fight the evil. The devilish God Loki wishes to pursue his msichevious acts of terror on the School, and in turn use the childrens naughty behaviour to his advantage by creating a super army on Earth. To Billy's surprise, he now has Viking super powers himself! So alongside his new found friend they go out to fight the evil forces that be, taking one out at a time in each episode. Things change in Billy's life, he gains confidence from his super powers and finds out he's not as bad at P.E anymore either!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Film review - funny games

One question - do any of you lovely readers have any Eggs? If you get a knock at the door after this film, you better hope you have plenty of them in the fridge so you have time to run.

To many unsadistic viewers unlike myself, this film is somewhat disturbing. Probably due to its calm nature, unorthodox timing and use of jokes in horrific situations that many would consider the material of nightmares. Unfortunately, things like this really do happen in the real world, and when they do they come unexpected. Thus, just like the somewhat "trippy" nature of this film, the story may be confusing in the scary reflection of real life circumstance.

I found myself backing the two "men" in the film of whom were committing the crimes, it was all so "innocent" and charming to watch. Their brutality was hidden under a white sheet of manners, most usual mannerisms of violence being churned out in an opposite approach. When the villains left the film for a short while, I became bored watching the Mother (played brilliantly by Naomi Watts) scrambling around in attempts to resolve her horrific situation. The film suddenly lacked its kick in these moments where I observed from my colleagues a sense of unease, a disturbance, an awkward silence, as if the room wasn't quiet enough already.

The film is based around American suburbia by a beautiful landscape, a lake with neighbours spread across far and wide. Some neighbours would reach each other by boat, as a result of the kind hospitality that these individuals show they enjoy the warm company of their tidy neighbourhood. So, everythings perfect. Brilliant scene for what they wouldn't expect - murder - and lots of it.

One sunny afternoon Ann Farber is preparing her family a dinner when the doorbell rings. Her son Georgie answers, only to come face to face with a ghostly faced smile from a well groomed teenager. This boy is called Peter, who lurks his way into the family house by asking for Eggs claiming to be coming from the house next door. Already you can sense the unease, this entity in the house gives off a presence which shouldn't be there, he is almost uncanny to his own image. His nervous position covers up his bad acting when he repeatedly drops the eggs until there is only a few left. In comes Peters co-killer Paul, dressed in a similar fashion and just as clean cut in appearance. The violence starts as Peter manically asks for the eggs, and swings a Golf club at Ann's husband, George Farber. This Golf club was also used as a test weapon on the family's Dog, which Ann later finds dead in the back of her Car.

One thing to note is almost how idiotic the family was, how they had the chance to easily over power the two boys yet they never took the chance. In some respects this is why I prefer the villains in this film, they are intelligent and seem to be merely Cats playing with Mice. As a result I would of found it even more thrilling if we saw multiple family murders within this film, and some outside force attempting to track them down and stop them at their game.

I found the use of breaking the forth wall interesting, an addition to an insight into the maddened mind of Peter and Paul in their attempt to plan their murders. In some sense, what also made this movie interesting is that as Peter and Paul are aware of the audience, it almost seems like this murder has been fixed up, like a film they have seen one too many times that they are trying to reconstruct. The addition to different movie like qualities, such as rewinding time when Ann kills Paul to bring Paul back to life are interesting, and to me show that indeed the two boys are merely just playing nothing more than a game. Who's to say their not harming anyone at all? Perhaps they plan to rewind all of these events once they have finished, perhaps they are all in on the act, perhaps they are really the captives inside a prison of some sort being made to act out a television show to save their own lives. Thinking outside the box suddenly makes this film less violent, or "weird".

Paul: You can see it in the movie right?

Peter: Of course.

Paul: Well then she's as real as reality because you can see it too. Right?

Peter: Bullshit.

Paul: Why?

This confirms my previous take on their situation, also making a somewhat disturbing analysis that anything you see on the screen is just as real as anything you see in real life. This brings the notion that the film itself is actually real, pixels are producing light, just like any other source of image will reflect light into your retina to produce what we call sight. So are the people in the films doomed to eternal deaths and misery? Is there anyway to save them? Of course there is, they answer this themselfs - rewind! However, just like real life there is no way you can prevent this from happening, as someone out there will be playing the same film anyway. You cannot escape from death.

Paul and Peter continue on their quest, betting that the family will all be dead by morning. Of course, they are right. They manage to kill of the family one by one, starting with the boy. They play with the family by leaving them for a while, hoping they would try nervously crawling out looking for help only to crawl back into their path of pure passionate evil. Dragging them back into the hell of their own home, they finish the job. As morning kicks in they don't break their bet, they push Ann off a boat as they float across the peaceful lake to their next awaiting innocent victims.

Overall, good film. Kind of quirky, had its cheesy moments which made me laugh, the violence was a little bit too forced at points and in some respects it was a bit too slow mid film. On another perspective this film is incredibly disturbing, managing to unlock that confusing yet uneasy sense you would usually associate with nightmares. The storyline I felt should of been broadened out to a larger scale as I previously suggested, to make this film even more bloody and disturbing, also giving it a chance to fly off the wall with a tons of additional cinematic blasphemy.


Film reviews - Moulin Rouge

This touching film explodes onto the screen with vibrant, bright, dazzling energy that unleashes a contentment for life - then amazingly pulls at the heart strings in a flurry of realisation back into reality. The euphoria you feel at the start of the film, which is almost just too theatrical to be on the cinema, is certainly shaken to wake you up and realise how precious every little second of life truely is. The moral to this story for me is, take what you can, do not waste life and make the most of life in the moment.

The film is based on Ewan McGregors character, "Christian", embarking on a journey to Paris, where he encounters the bohemian society of the Moulin Rouge. It is here where he and his new friends, of whom are neighbours of his new apartment go to let loose and enjoy life. Christians friends arrange a naughty swindle to get him and the lead attraction of the Moulin Rouge "Satine" to get together after the show. Of course, this happens and Christian isn't to repel this offer, as he believes she genuinely wants to meet up with him after the show. Satine on the other hand believes that Christian is a duke of whom she was suppost to be meeting before the fix up, who the head of the Mouline Rouge "Harold Zidler" is hoping will take interest in his finest attraction. Harold wishes to make a deal, of which could make the Moulin Rouge a lot of money, to do this he must pull a few strings. In true fashion to the day where women were less respected, Harold uses Satine as bait to blind Harold into agreeing to sign the paper.

The twist is, Christian falls deeply in love with Satine. From the moment he met her he was transfixed, as he has a funny obsession with love, yet believes he has never felt it before. As a writer, it is his one ambition to know what it feels like so he can pursue his writing to its fullest. The problem with Satine is that she is so used to pretending to feel love for Gentlemen, so used to prostituting herself, that she fails to initially accept her true feelings. This is probably because she is confused by emotion, something of which she is used to holding back, ignoring and getting on with each day at a time.

When I first saw this film I was a young teenager on holiday, I can remember by the end of it feeling really affected, almost in tears at its beauty. I love how it provides that artificial grasp at the feeling of love by building an emotion. It uses the qualities such as build ups, tension, held back passion and the longing of two people with the same passion, even if something gets in their way they fight back to fall back into each others arms.

Over the course of the film we find out that Satine is terminally ill and to pursue his plan, the greedy Harold makes her carry on performing, not allowing her to find out about her condition. The jealous Duke makes sure nothing stands in the way of his prized Satine, so when he becomes suspicious about Christian he puts up a plot to have him killed. It is here where we find out that Satrine really loves Christian, as she heart breakingly is forced to tell him she doesnt love him after finding out his fate, and unfortunately, her own. In an attempt to save Christian from a broken heart and an early grave, she knows this is the only way. We know that Satine is talented in the art of acting, usually to give a man what he desires, so she puts this skill to use for an opposite effect for the first time.

I noticed how the film starts out fast and jerky, with impatient cuts and energetic displays of camera work. Over time, in contrast to Satrines quickly declining condition, the film begins to slow down. Thus, this is when the powerful death scene takes place. Christian returns to the Moulin Rouge for one last time to declare how he feels about Satine, which turns into an attempted murder on Christian. I felt a sense of sadness at Christians bravery, however it was not for nothing. He made the love of his life feel for the first time and be able to acknowledge it, in that moment of death where she was slipping away in his arms that whisper spoke a thousand lifetimes. As a result, Christian continued her memory with the fulfillment of what he always wanted - to understand and feel the power of love. So he wrote, with a heavy heart and in his lonely state, about Satine and her impact on his life. This somehow compares to most broken relationships, many come to think of love as happiness, whereas most humans will know the happiness is usually within the indulgence of another, yet man is never satisfied in the end.

Overall a brilliantly crafted film which I have a lot of time for. Powerful and entertaining, shocking and emotive.


Film reviews - Kill Bill and Mulholland Drive

The new year has started and so has the awesome films along with it, so perhaps I should really get cracking writing some reviews!


Kill Bill

Kill Bill is an intense, mind twisting action thriller film released in 2003/2004. Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino, this film shows no mercy on spilling blood. Starring Uma Thurman as a Bride with revenge on her mind, we never find out her true name to conceal her identity. In comparison to this, we never see the Villain face to face. This film pays homage to the great martial arts films and cultural arts in themselfs, broadcasting a range of fighting techniques and familiar dialogue within the acting to that of such a theme.

Originally this film was a long four hour epic, which was cut down for cinematic purposes into to films, the latter released as a sequel in 2004. In some respects, this goes to show the already unconventional approach to film making that Kill Bill pursues, with Quentin Tarantino really pushing the boundaries of what some may find visually acceptable. The use of camera work, breaking into the forth wall and cutting away into stylised animations shows this farther - we live in a postmodern world. The media is good at selling ideas into peoples minds, ideas which stick to us and make us the people we are. It is these very things which in the editing room can acknowledge what makes a film work compared to what doesn't. The exploration of breaking this boundary however creates a nauseating film for some, for others visual genius.

The film works with a narrative which is taken, smashed and re ordered to make this story still make sense to the audience. I found I missed a few points originally, especially becoming confused when Um Thurman gets into a yellow car and drives from the hospital. For a while I thought "wow that cars been there a long time, I'm surprised its battery is still working." I had failed to observe that this Car was in fact the property of a Doctor who "the bride" kills. Due to the way the film is structured it is easy to misinterpret some of the scenes and be confused.

The film starts with Uma Thurman being "killed", which we later find out sends her into a deep coma for four years. We then skip four years back into the future, where the bride engages into a violent fight with an ex co-worker named Vernita. Once the bride manages to assassinate Vernita we come to find she is one of a few select people to be killed on a hit list. We then see her look at who she wants to kill next, which takes us back in time again to determine the cause. The next in line is a lady named O'Ren Ishii, a Japanese-American. In going back four years we see how Ishii helps beat up the bride at her wedding. This is what sends her into a coma, when the Police find her body during their murder investigation she is immediately placed into hospital. She is abused at the hospital while unconscious, even with one of the villain's henchmen attempting to assassinate her. The film continues with the bride fighting her way out of the hospital, travelling to Japan where she is trained by an old swordsmith named Hattori Hanzo. He also makes her a sword to help her on her quest to kill Ishii. In turn she engages in an epic battle between Ishii's guards and Ishii herself. The bride is the victor in this battle, which makes way for the second volume.

Overall, slightly hard to follow if you don't engage it with an open mind but leaves you with a feeling of awe and will definitely make you say "that was clever".

Mullholland drive

This film was made in 2001, and stars Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring and Justin Theroux. It is somewhat of a strange film, typical of David Lynch's repertoire. This film is no exception, with its story focused on using phsycological tricks to thrill the audience. This is regarded as one of Linches best projects and gives a perspective into how the intelligence of social analysis has become a big part of modern life since the turn of the millenia.

Mulholland Drive Poster

This film invokes a feeling of hazzy understanding into its plot, yet makes the audience feel a sense of fulfillment after viewing. It is based around a crash, of which a supposed victim went missing without a trace. It indulges into strange twists in the plot, enviroments causing a questionable confusion to the viewing audience, characters popping up in random situations and locations.
I found a good quote from a philosopher named John Searle which helps explain this films impact:

"The thesis that there is a reality independent of our representations identifies not how things are in fact, but rather identifies a space of possibilities... External realism articulates a space of possibilities for a very large number of statements."

After a car accident in Los Angeles, California, Rita is the only survivor, however suffers mass amnesia. She meets with the character Betty Elms, of which her story merges into. Betty is a young actress in search of Stardom yet takes a samarital interest into Rita to help her understand the mystery surrounding her. Unknown the reasons as to why Rita came to be in this situation, they pursue to gain knowledge about the conspiracy around Ritas attempted murder. Betty and Rita soon come to realise nothing is what it seems.

This film has a complex storyline to indulge in, its definitely worth checking out to gain a better understanding or a personal interpritation. Definintely interesting to watch and whether you get anything from it or not will help show Lynches success at playing mind games with his audience.