17 October 2014

Annabelle

When James Wan made "The Conjuring", I was excited to say the least. He took the age old story of the poltergeist and turned into a modern day horror movie. And the wonder of it all was that the movie was set in the 70's!
When I found out that they were making a film about the Annabelle doll, the loose end in the otherwise awesome film, I was overjoyed. But as history has taught us, the sequel is never as good as the first. And boy, does it ring true for this series as well.
Directed by John R. Leonetti, who has a legacy for unpopular sequels, The Butterfly Effect 2 being the prime example for this. Annabelle follows the story of how the doll came be the devils little minion and then tormented its way through the Californian population in the 70's.
Inspired by the occult cults that existed in the hay day, Annabelle is a collector's edition of a porcelain doll, which is bought by an extremely sweet, I-can't-belive-he-existed-in-the-patriarchal-society-of-the-70's man for his rather pregnant wife who has a weird doll collection. They have wonderful neighbours, an elderly couple and all of them exist in a cornucopia of loving God. But their pious existence is interrupted by the elderly neighbour's hippie daughter who ran away and joined a satan worshiping cult. The daughter, named Annabelle and her boyfriend break into her parent's house and murder them in cold blood apparently in order to appease their mighty Lord. And because no can murder in silence, the pregnant neighbour is woken up and rushes to help them. Of course leaving their own door open, thus giving said murderers a chance to sneak into their house and you know, murder more people. But fortunately the police arrive to save the silly pregnant woman and husband and shoot the boyfriend, but Annabelle decides to kill/sacrifice herself while holding The World's Creepiest Looking Doll. A drop of Annabelle's blood ominously falls on the doll and thus begins the horror part of it all. The pregnant wife, gives birth to a cute daughter and gives it a rhyming name to mirror hers. And thanks to the pushover Husband they move away from the home of death and into a flat. With flashing images and screaming ghosts, Annabelle's residence in the doll manifests its way into Mia's mind. She begs John to look into it more, but even interference by the Holy Priest doesn't get in the way of Annabelle and her wanting the soul of an innocent, who in this case is Leah.What happens next is textbook horror movie, you are just going to have to watch it, because I fear the wrath of movie goers thanks to the spoiler alerts. The movie is a terrible follow up to what was a good film, and the lack of famed actors such as Vera Farmiga really stung. The pain of the sting could have been saved but the incredibly poor acting in this film caused more pain than healed anything. With an intense lack of any form of dialogue other than, "Please don't kill her" the bad script writing was the cherry on top of this terrible cake of a movie. But while I have sung the praises of James Wan's previous creation, the one thing that I did enjoy of this film was the cinematography. Good usage of negative space and a score that went well with the situation, you could definitely watch this film on mute.

The Good: A new horror movie that's not a part of the Paranormal series

The Bad: It's not scary, all it does is makes you jump. Which is the mark of an average film

9 October 2014

Keeping Score

Think back to one of your favorite film moments in your mind. I know there are too many, but just pick one! Now keep that in mind as you read the rest.
Personally speaking, I have never been musically inclined. Didn't play any instrument and have been asked not to sing many a times.
Yet, there is something about the background music in movies that they use which just moves my soul. Because first of all, it's BACKGROUND music. You aren't meant to notice it. It floats around. behind the handsome man declaring his love for the beautiful lady and you forget to think about it.
And sometimes it creeps up on you just as the scared man follows the source of the strange noise in the middle of the night. And every now and then it swells up dramatically as two long lost brothers see each other for the first time in twenty years.
So, needless to say most of our recollections of favorite moments in film have been accompanied with some form of a 'score' (industry term for what you and I call background music). And it's importance seems to be on a steady rise.
Why, you ask? Good question!
When we stand around and talk about the barista spelling our name wrong in Starbucks again, we refer to this as an ordinary exchange. Now, who in their right mind would pay £8 to sit for two hours and watch something ordinary?
So, a director thinks to himself, how do I capture my audience? You throw some simple music in the mix! Play it softly on the same Starbucks conversation and even that seems like a pithy and engaging conversation.
Music does more than just help turn something ordinary into something more. In films like, Pirates of the Caribbean which has no lack of fantasy in it the score help the viewer in relating to the scene unfolding in front of them. Johnny Depp's indecipherable but witty dialogue becomes funnier, the silent love between Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom becomes palpable and the Kraken becomes a bigger enigma, hence more frightening.
Watch the film on mute, and other than the wonderful shots, you don't enjoy it half as much as you would. And the same could be said for Inception, The Avengers and many others. And now, regular recording artists are becoming more intrigued by the world of film scores. Very famously, Adele with her original song for Skyfall which won her the Golden Globe in 2013. More recently, Ed Sheeran or a.k.a the man with the delectable voice sang an original song for The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug.
And even the Can't-Do-No-Wrong Beyoncé has redone a version of her "Crazy in Love" for the upcoming film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. And while I have no enthusiasm for the film, I am waiting rather impatiently for the song and to see it's usage. This is the unofficial version of it, to give you an idea

But there are the films that exist that have all the potential. They have the story, the actors and they even get it just right with the dialogue and then they lose me with the score. 12 Years a Slave was one such recent example (Even though it was composed by Hans Zimmer and he is a man at whose altar I would worship at) I really truly enjoyed it, but would I ever watch it again? I think not. Music gives it drama, it gives emphasis, it gives dimension, it gives feeling to what technically isn't real. It makes the pretense, the acting of it all real.
And it's not just in major blockbusters like these. Light hearted films, like the original Pink Panther theme song, which has now become an iconic piece of music, also have their place in my shelf of great scores. The use of pre-existing songs has also been employed in films such as Magic Mike, Guardians of the Galaxy, 10 Things I Hate About You and several more. It's all there, brewing just underneath the surface
My All-Time Favorite piece of score: Narnia Battle Theme
My Current favorite piece of score:  Daniel Hart's Ruth and Sylvie from Ain't Them Bodies Saints
So next time you are busy crying over just how beautiful Ryan Reynolds is in a movie, take a step back and enjoy the music.