Category Archives: Features

In depth articles, top 10 lists, long form reviews and opinion pieces

Send In The Clowns

Clowns (klaʊns)

  1. Comic performers who entertain with eccentric costumes, exaggerated features and/or various forms of physical humour.
  2. The single most evil and horrifying creatures of all-time. Ever.

It’s safe to say clowns are divisive, but regardless of where you stand on the entertaining/terrifying debate, there’s simply no denying their cultural significance. From their origins as court jesters to innocent, child-friendly entertainers, and eventually horror icons as sinister, child-eating movie monsters, clowns have remained a permanent fixture in cinema since it began. Continue reading Send In The Clowns

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The Best Hidden Gems of Xbox’s Games With Gold

Originally written for and published by Kotaku UK

In July 2013, Microsoft launched its answer to Sony’s popular and successful PlayStation Plus: Games with Gold, the loyalty scheme that rewards Xbox Live Gold subscribers with two free games a month. It was originally intended as a limited-time offer that would run until the release of the Xbox One, but the ten titles that were made free-to-keep during that period (which included Fable III, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3) garnered such an overwhelming response that the scheme was continued into the eighth generation of consoles. It’s been expanded to cover Xbox One titles. Two years later, it has remained a permanent fixture of Xbox Live Gold. Continue reading The Best Hidden Gems of Xbox’s Games With Gold

Sky Atlantic Documentary Films: Season 2

Following its successful debut, Sky’s celebrated Documentary Films, which launched in November, returns with four more documentaries from award-winning filmmakers for a second season. For No Good Reason, The Unknown Known, Blood Brother and Small Town Big Story (aka Jesus Town, USA) each received their UK premieres on Sky Atlantic this June. Here’s a breakdown of what you missed: Continue reading Sky Atlantic Documentary Films: Season 2

2013: A Year in Review

2013 a year in review

Following in the footsteps of one of the most competitive cinematic years in recent memory was always going to be a tough task, but 2013 showed a lot of promise with its big budget headliners and artistic endeavours. It began strongly as many awards season winners arrived from overseas to cash in on their Oscar-glory, but as summer arrived fewer and fewer of the year’s biggest releases managed to hit their mark and it wasn’t until autumn where a succession of fresh contenders emerged.

Continue reading 2013: A Year in Review

Clip joint: Mexican standoffs

Five of the best examples of people pointing guns at each other for your cinematic entertainment

Do you have an idea for a future Clip joint? If you’d like to pick out your favourite five clips on a theme, drop an email to adam.boult@guardian.co.uk

The Mexican standoff tests the nerve of characters and audiences alike – and when used effectively this fierce plot device can instantly increase the tension in any scene. Here are some examples of intense stalemates that are sure to leave you on the edge of your seat.

Due to the nature of the trope every clip featured here contains spoilers and adult content.

1. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Where better to begin than with the definitive Mexican standoff; the iconic sequence that made the device so popular. In the concluding part of Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy the three titular characters square off in a graveyard with Ennio Morricone’s operatic score providing the perfect backdrop to this breathtaking finale. On a technical level their guns aren’t drawn so you could argue that this doesn’t qualify as a standoff, but the speed of these quick-drawing gunslingers means they are at a mutual disadvantage even with their guns holstered.

2. Saving Private Ryan

A Mexican standoff can occur in a range of shapes and sizes, from singular tête-à-têtes to mass free-for-alls; even army against army. Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan features what is arguably cinema’s largest standoff as a squadron of Allied soldiers stumble upon numerous German soldiers. This scene is not only worthy of inclusion for its size, but it also offers a variation of how a standoff is resolved, in this occasion by a fortuitous third party – in the form of another squadron of ruthless American soldiers.

3. True Romance

In films less willing to freely kill off significant characters, Mexican standoffs are resolved in a civilised manner, with all characters realising the suicidal position they face and agreeing to drop their weapons. However, this scene in Tony Scott’s hyper-violent, bittersweet love story ends in typically brutal fashion with a massacre that puts an end to key supporting characters.

4. Shaun of the Dead

Armed with their unique referential humour and witty intelligence, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg expertly dissect the conventions of the Mexican standoff in this hilarious scene. As the assembled survivors begin arguing whether to kill Shaun’s recently infected mum, a standoff breaks out to exacerbate the issue. With two weapons trained on one character, another character claims that the standoff is unfair so the character hands her his weapon to even the odds.

5. Inglourious Basterds

Aside from possibly John Woo, the greatest exponent of the Mexican standoff is Quentin Tarantino, who has featured the plot device in the majority of his films. While the intense finale of Reservoir Dogs, or examples from Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained could be included, I’ve opted for the sublime pub scene in Inglourious Basterds for its powerful performances and jaw-dropping tension, but also on the basis that it provides two for one. After the initial standoff ends in bloodshed, the two surviving soldiers, Lieutenant Aldo Rayne and a young German officer Wilhelm, begin arguing whether their current situation is a Mexican stand off or not. This innovative sequence is a perfect example of Tarantino’s style, where he executes a narrative convention expertly in one breath, before satirising it only moments later. In a film brimming with iconic scenes it’s this one that towers above the rest, and not only for the line “Say auf Wiedersehen to your Nazi balls!”.

Originally written for Guardian’s Film Blog

The 10 Most Misleading Film Titles of All Time

misleading movie titles

Many consider a film’s title to be unimportant, trivial even, but the name has long been a key factor in a film’s success. In contemporary cinema the role of the marketer is as pivotal as ever and the title process is increasingly fundamental in a period where a movie’s name can be the difference between a hit and a flop.

Continue reading The 10 Most Misleading Film Titles of All Time