Mar 252013

With thanks to Kenneth Watt.

Councillors David Cameron and Marie Boulton have been invited to the next meeting of the Aberdeen City Youth Council to introduce a debate on the recent decision to give a license to Cineworld cinema in Union Square.

Youth councillor Kenneth Watt, who has put forward the debate, said:

“I have invited Cllr Cameron and Boulton to discuss the Licensing Board’s decision to grant Cineworld a license to sell alcohol as I believe it is an issue of great significance to Aberdeen’s young people.”

“A large number of under-18s attend the cinema frequently and their parents consider it to be a safe environment to leave younger teenagers on their own in the evening or at the weekends. Allowing people under the influence of alcohol and youngsters to mix in this environment is potentially dangerous.”

“However, I see the merits of granting such a license and I am aware that in certain circumstances it could be used to the cinema’s advantage.”

“I’m interested in hearing the councillors’ comments and finding out what the rest of the youth council think of the decision.”

Nov 122012

Another horror film finds Voice reviewer Andrew Watson again, in his own words, ‘crapping his pants’ at Vue Cinema.

Scott Derrickson’s latest offering initially trundles along innocently enough as author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves to a new house seeking inspiration for his next book. Ignoring the local sheriff’s advice about moving into the house, Oswalt finds a box of home movies in attic… yeah, it’s not so pedestrian from here on!

Five reels of film, dating from the 1960s to the present time, show grisly murder scenes with families snuffed out in all manner of creative ways.

Despite this movie being promoted as a supernatural horror, at first it seems all very real and far-removed from the paranormal. That creepy guy you catch glimpses of in the found reels just seems like a nutter in a mask… at first.

It is only after a while it begins to sink in that perhaps things aren’t so rooted in the type of horror often recounted in the tabloid press. This is also set against real phenomena like the author’s son Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) enduring night terrors in his sleep and being found in the back garden during these episodes.

When Trevor is found folding himself out of a cardboard box, his parents’ shock fades in the knowledge that similar things have happened before. Is the sleepwalking part of the boy’s night terrors, or are Exorcist-like bodily contortions at play?

It’s strange how the further a film seems to creep from reality, the more horrifying it can become. But this is how filmmakers tap into our deepest fears and it is only when we see the ghosts of children playing hide and seek with Ellison that we are 100% sure what kind of film we’re dealing with.

Let’s just say the face didn’t exactly look like your typical Halloween gimmick…

You might think knowing this would put us at ease, making further attempts at horror redundant, but the element of surprise is expertly deployed and the suspense keeps up right to the film’s finale.

When Ellison finally encounters the children face to face, the childish mischief of earlier disappears, the innocent veil of child’s play swiftly replaced with repulsion. I all but fall from my seat as Ellison tumbles from the staircase and I curse when I finally catch a close-up of the ‘masked’ man. Let’s just say the face isn’t your typical Halloween gimmick…

This last scene clinches my satisfaction with this morbid tale. In my eyes, any decent horror film has some link to religious mythology, preferably of the occult variety. Our man in the ‘mask’ turns out to be a pagan deity called Bughuul, or ‘eater of children’s souls’. Creepy stuff!

This film ticks all the boxes, and then some. Definitely recommended.

Nov 062012

Returning to Shiprow’s Vue for a bit of horror, I actually found I quite enjoyed myself. Paranormal Activity 4 was a bit of a slow burner, meaning the last half hour was, hands down, the most intense period of the film, says Voice reviewer Andrew Watson.

I spent Hallowe’en watching a rented copy of Paranormal Activity 3, just to make sure I was clued up on what I was in for. PA3 is actually the prequel, so 4 beginss where 2 left off.

There’s been a kidnapping, and the whereabouts of the woman and child are seemingly unknown – until now.

I have to be honest and say outright that I cannot stand creepy kid films. You know the type – the various spawn of the Sixth Sense phenomenon.

I really enjoyed this film, however politically incorrect I feel I’d get with the film’s resident brat! I actually found myself reserving most of my ire for the ‘boyfriend’ of the film, a pervy chancer who I hoped would see an early end.

The film’s family find themselves babysitting the child of a new neighbour. Yep, the creepy kid.

His mother’s not feeling well and was taken away by ambulance, apparently. Their own son takes a shine to him, but finds himself dragged into realms of weirdness that wouldn’t be Hollywood if they weren’t evil. Sweet-natured Wyatt, played by Aiden Lovekamp, retreats into himself. So much so that he begins to insist his name is Hunter, the child kidnapped in 2!

Meanwhile, creepy Robbie (Brady Allen) doesn’t merely sit on the sidelines goading Wyatt to do his bidding.  Why, he’s at it himself, sleeping with Wyatt’s big sister Alex (Kathryn Newton) while she lies there unaware! This scene is actually the catalyst for Alex and her boyfriend to attempt to unfurl the mystery of the weirdness going on.

You see, boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) records their webchats. Or at least his computer does it automatically, so he says. Anyway, he comes a cropper when he sees this kid nestling up to his girlfriend. And so it goes until a rather messy ending.

There a few aspects about this series that merit some analysis I suppose. It’s shown in real time, meaning it takes much from the style in which The Blair Witch Project was recorded. We must assume this technique is deployed to give the film a sense of realism, a cinematic approach that increased my viewing pleasure.

Specifically, what I enjoy about this is the fact that big events throughout the film are thinly spread, not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it adds to the realism. Real life is punctuated with infrequent seemingly-inconsequential events which nevertheless impact upon all our lives. In Hollywood, stories are punctuated with life-changing events that occur, seemingly and rather predictably, every two minutes.

Which is why I come back to the point of the last half hour of this film. It’s a wild thirty minutes, like a punch to the solar plexus. You’ve been caught unawares and now you’re crapping your pants trying to keep up with what’s going on.

Furthermore, there are murmurs throughout that a secret community, or covenant, is holding black masses. Ever since I watched The Last Exorcism, this concept has intrigued me. All I can say, or hint at, is that there are similar things going on in this film, particularly in the last two and a half minutes.

All in all – and I know the critics have panned this film – this is an excellent piece of cinema. I genuinely can’t wait to see what’s in store for Paranormal Activity 5.

Oct 292012

This particular cinema outing, to Cineworld, proved the moviegoer’s maxim that ‘the trailers show all the good bits’. Skyfall isn’t a bad film, but all the excitement I experienced watching the trailer didn’t translate into the same, or similar, sensations during the film’s two hours and twenty-three minutes, says Andrew Watson.

Casino Royale was a fantastic Bond debut for Daniel Craig, although Quantum of Solace left me cold. His third Bond effort, fell somewhere between the previous two.

I enjoyed, particularly, how his character, though faithfully suave, was a grizzled agent, bordering on psychotic.

I know there have been grumbles, probably from the old school Bond-ers, that it’s becoming less about the gadgets and girls as it is about our beloved spy’s oh-so-complicated character.

This time round, bearing in mind the fallout from the previous film, Bond isn’t at his physical or mental best. Unknown to James, he’s failed his aptitude test as a field agent, and is displaying worrying dependencies on alcohol, among other substances.

This film seems to be driven by its characters, and the super-villain in this piece is no different. Think Jaws with half his jaw missing!  It is, in fact, this dastardly ex-MI6 man, Raoul Silva, played by Spaniard Javier Bardem, top dog before Bond’s time, who reveals to James his lack of aptitude. Judi Dench’s ‘M’ lied to Bond, hurrying him back into the fold of spydom, just like she betrayed her previous agent all those years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, the locations and the ladies are something to behold, and the shots of China are particularly beautiful. ‘Q’, played by young gun Ben Whishaw, is also on hand with the latest in gun technology, though the sight of the classic Aston Martin DB5 far outshines anything new he has to offer.

The story, without reciting the plot verbatim, is relatively interesting, too. MI6 is under fire from the government after important information contained on a hard drive is stolen. ‘M’ is hauled before an Intelligence and Security Committee to answer to her superiors, who call into question the need for the fanciful and romantic notion of spies in a modern world.

Of course, what hooked me in the trailers was the explosion of the MI6 offices. The heart of British intelligence is rocked, but there appears to be little emphasis on this throughout of the film. Rather than being stripped to their bare bones and with limited resources, the explosion seems to have done little to dent MI6’s capabilities. Was the explosion overplayed in the trailers, and underplayed in the film? The bearing of this on the plot directly affected my overall enjoyment.

What also irked me somewhat are the circumstances surrounding the Scottish estate belonging to the Bond family. Whilst it’s conceivable that the Bonds were an English family which moved up north to James’s childhood home, it seems a bit ridiculous that the gamekeeper speaks with a rather implausible English accent.

Is attention to detail in this respect too much to ask for?