As the editor of this website it is my honour to oversee every new article The Film Magazine puts out, whether it be written by one of our loyal long-term contributors or as the result of a one-off submission, and in 2017 I truly believe that we have provided some of our best content yet. So, in the most honest attempt to pat our writers on the back for their dedication, hard work and thoughtful insight, myself and a few trusted confidantes have voted on what we’ve found to be our 11 – not 10, because how could we possibly cut one? – favourite articles from the 2017 calendar year (news excluded). As always, you’re more than welcome to share your opinions in the comments.
In no particular order…
James Cullen’s essay on film as propaganda with regard to Nazi Germany’s ‘Triumph of the Will’ paints a picture on the importance of film in the contemporary landscape and delves into the techniques behind presenting ideologies as facts in documentary filmmaking.
Nazi propaganda film ‘The Triumph of the Will’ is analysed for its effectiveness as a documentary and comparisons are drawn to contemporary politics in James Cullen’s informative film essay.
Excerpt: “Stella Bruzzi claims that “documentary [is] a perpetual negotiation between the real event and its representation” (Bruzzi; 2006; pg.13). A documentary is therefore read based on how the audience perceives the events on screen. Hitler is portrayed as a God-like figure and the saviour of the German people following the devastation the country felt in the aftermath of WW1. The sea of adoring fans greeting Hitler from his private plane showed him in a positive light and begins the task of ushering the viewer into sympathy and even adoration.”
Author: James Cullen
Along the same lines as the post above, the contemporary reviews of the politically charged, award winning films ‘1984’ and ’13th’, offer more than a simple analysis of quality, but more an exploration of their power and relevance. ’13th’ director Ava DuVernay actually shared our review of her film via Twitter.
‘1984’, Michael Radford’s adaptation of George Orwell’s famous novel, “is an important film because of its ageless quality” according to Katie Doyle in her review.
Excerpt: “the reason I believe this to be such an important film is because of its ageless quality. Michael Radford was anxious to not draw any obvious parallels with any real-life political regimes, past or current, knowing that Orwell’s novel was more of a general warning. Remember that when this novel was first published, Orwell had witnessed the simultaneous downfall of a far-right totalitarian regime with the erection of the Iron Curtain that heralded far left dictatorships which became responsible for the deaths of millions. Fortunately, Radford’s neutrality allowed the audience to create more independent and personal interpretations.”
Ava DuVernay’s 2017 Oscar-nominated documentary feature ’13th’, about the use of prisoners as free labour in a racist system of incarceration, has been reviewed by Joseph Wade.
Excerpt: “The picture is clearly rooted in the present […] despite it being so largely referential to the past, and it is through this that the picture’s damming story becomes almost hopeless; the recognition of the rise of President Trump, a man who is shown to be reinforcing the racist ideologies that the film has presented from the decades and centuries that have preceded him.”
Some of the most creative work in all of film is taking place in the short film realm, and we had a great time picking some of our favourites from York, UK’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) this year. In our selection we have celebrated work from the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Finland and Lebanon. These may be the star filmmakers of tomorrow, so make sure to take a look at which films, and which filmmakers, we recommended.
The Film Magazine selects 10 short films from the Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2017 that you must see, from ‘NEON’ to ‘Squirrel Island’ and beyond.
Excerpt: “[…] we’ve concluded that the work on offer in York over those 5 days was some of the best we’ve seen all year, and we have therefore painstakingly developed a list of our 10 favourite picks in the hope that it’ll help to put more eyes – your eyes – onto the films we most enjoyed.”
Author: Joseph Wade
Sticking with the short film theme, we chose two of our short filmmaker interviews as a joint entry into our list of favourite articles. Take a look at the vastly different but equally as inspirational stories behind their journeys into the art-form and make sure to support them on social media.
‘Squirrel Island’ director Astrid Goldsmith sat down with us for an interview regarding her 8 year journey to the short film’s release.
Excerpt: “Yeah, so, end-to-end – beginning to finish – it took around 8 years. There were a lot of gaps; at various points I had to stop to earn the money. I work as a commercial model maker, so I had to take a few months out at a time to make money and fund the production, but because I’m so used to working to tight deadlines where you never get the time to do things to the level that you’d want to, I just didn’t want to put those restrictions on myself with this film.”
Author: Joseph Wade
April Kelley and Sara Huxley of Mini Productions discuss gender inequality, being British filmmakers, the success of short films ‘Annie Waits’ and ‘Edith’, and their new project Acting on a Dream in this exclusive interview.
Excerpt: “I think that the recent media attention brought to sexist pay etc. in the industry has ensured that people have become far more aware. We went to a fantastic talk with Geena Davis who referenced watching cartoons with her children and realising that so many of the characters were men, and that this wasn’t an accurate representation of life. So through people like her, and the wonderful Meryl Streep, pioneering this, that has helped shift things, and I think that finally the big channels are beginning to listen.”
Author: Joseph Wade
We all seem to chastise the lack of creativity in Hollywood yet spend our hard earned money seeing remakes and investing in universes. Katie Doyle takes a look at the brighter side of the current fad with 80s remakes, paying particular attention to ‘The Dark Crystal’, a Jim Henson and Frank Oz movie being made into a series by Netflix.
Katie Doyle presents why she feels the reemergence of ‘The Dark Crystal’ via Netflix signifies the positive side of this decade’s 80s nostalgia trip.
Excerpt: “Yeah nostalgia can be blinding and misleading at times; using CG effects allows the creation of spine-tingling visuals and high-charged action sequences without the danger and difficulties of physical effects. However, as CG has become normalised, all those movie bosses will question the use of alternatives because relying on computers is cheaper and easier, essentially killing a craft. Personally, I love these older techniques and the filmmakers willing to exert themselves for their craft because they visibly, and undeniably, love the craft and the act of producing art for consumption, and I favour movies in which love has been squeezed into every frame because it nurtures creativity, giving the films a greater lasting impact.”
Author: Katie Doyle
This retrospective look at one of the most iconic horror movies of all time was a centrepiece to our Horror Film Week in the build-up to Halloween. In the article, Katie Doyle delves into the talents of director Sam Raimi and his team of close friends, and discusses the creative impact the film’s incredibly low budget had on the production.
Sam Raimi’s ‘Evil Dead’ (1981) is the “heart and charm” of horror filmmaking according to Katie Doyle in her retrospective review of the horror classic.
Excerpt: “Evil Dead is the defining Cabin in the Woods movie, with all others being mere pretenders in its presence; it even manages to reinvigorate this premise as the film still feels fresh and without cliché after repeated viewings. More importantly, it is the shining example to all aspiring filmmakers of what is possible on the tightest of budgets when you have bucket-loads of passion.”
Author: Katie Doyle
Dreamworks have been arguably the biggest contender to Disney’s animation crown in the West for the better part of 2 decades, so we ranked every single film they’ve ever released (35 in total), starting at ‘Antz’ and ending at 2017’s ‘Captain Underpants’.
All 35 Dreamworks Animation movies, from ‘Antz’ to ‘Captain Underpants’, ‘Shrek’ to ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, have been ranked from worst to best.
Excerpt: “Since their debut release ‘Antz’ in 1998, Dreamworks have released a further 34 movies in theatres (as of June 2017) and have grossed upwards of $13.729billion at the international box office. Now owned by NBC Universal, the same umbrella corporation that owns Illumination Entertainment (the guys behind ‘Despicable Me’), Dreamworks have slated a sequel to ‘Trolls’ and a third instalment of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ for the coming years, asserting their intentions to stay as close to the top of the animated film industry as they’ve ever been.”
Author: Joseph Wade
This feminist critique of Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Blade Runner’ sequel ‘Blade Runner 2049’ carries criticism for the presentation of women in the dystopian future, offering valuable insight into an often overlooked aspect of mainstream film and particularly science fiction.
Why is the female body the future’s prop in ‘Blade Runner 2049’? Alex Morden Osborne offers her critique of the Denis Villeneuve sci-fi movie here.
Excerpt: “Typically, no male Joi is advertised — and the female version, predictably well-endowed and visually fulfilling a multitude of stereotypical fanboy fantasies, appears nude, sometimes accompanied with the tagline “everything you want to hear.” All of this grates, of course, though having seen such objectification and voyeuristic pleasure being taken in the female body many times before, I was unsurprised (but no less frustrated) at what I was seeing.”
Author: Alex Morden Osborne
What if the aliens in ‘Signs’ aren’t aliens at all? The answers are inside…
A ‘Signs’ alternative theory. Could the aliens in ‘Signs’ really be angels or demons? Joseph Wade takes you through the facts…
Excerpt: “maybe the plot twist isn’t entirely what you think it is. Maybe, just maybe, the plot twist is that the invading characters are not Aliens at all, but instead Demons from hell beneath us, or perhaps even angels conducting a purge on mankind.
Think about it…”
Author: Joseph Wade
With big Oscar contender ‘All the Money in the World’ being released at the end of the 2017 calendar year and another ‘Alien’ movie having hit the big screen back in the Summer, Ridley Scott continues to be a powerhouse hollywood director. In this top 10 list, we put together the very best of the filmmaker’s work.
Ridley Scott has released 24 films in his 40 year feature-length career. Here are his top 10.
Excerpt: “Dubbed “Castaway in space” by internet commentators, The Martian produced the best Matt Damon performance in over a decade (and arguably ever), and was universally praised for its beautiful depiction of a desolate Mars landscape. Scott, of course, brought decades worth of work on science fiction films to fray, and managed to find the same focus in this film as he had with many of his largest successes, only this time with the biggest ensemble cast of his filmography to date.”
Author: Joseph Wade
Sophie Grant tackles perhaps the most controversial film franchise this century, asking whether there is room enough to believe that it could be considered a feminist franchise.
Sophie Grant sets out to answer the question everyone’s been asking for years… Should the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ be considered a feminist franchise?
Excerpt: “I mean, yes, Ana verbally consented to her relationship with Christian, whips, chains and all; but when she says ‘No’? Well, that always seems to be negotiable. Next time you’re watching the film or reading the books, notice how whenever Ana puts her foot down and says no, she’s always coerced into giving in and changing her mind.”
Author: Sophie Grant
There were, of course, so many great articles that could not make it onto our shortlist this year, many of which were presented by talented and personable writers, so we implore that you head to the website’s Our Team page and check out their work. If you’re interested in joining our team as a regular contributor you can do so by following the instructions on our Vacancies page, and if you would like to share with us a one-off submission, you can find more information on who to contact at our Contact Us page.
Many thanks go out from myself to everyone who has written for the website this year. Your work has been of an exceptional level and we couldn’t be doing this without you.