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What makes a Christmas Movie? (A Die Hard analysis)

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What makes a Christmas Movie? (A Die Hard analysis)

With Christmas having been and gone you do tend to have a brief moment of self reflection in the dead period leading up to New Years Eve. For some may reminisce about coming together as a family or possibly eating as much as they can without dying. For me its about the endless barrage of Christmas films on television. Every so often though you get that one family member who says that a certain film can only really be shown at Christmas than any other point of the year. Enter Die Hard.

Die Hard is a classic and it would be hard to debate otherwise but if there is one question that has people debating endlessly its on whether or not Die Hard can be legitimately called a Christmas film or simply a film that takes place at Christmas. There are indeed contrasting themes in many Christmas films but they usually all give you that warm feeling towards the end with the exception of some horror related Christmas films like 'Krampus' or 'Silent Night, Deadly Night'. Die Hard on this occasion does give you that warm feeling despite all that has happened in the film you hear that poignant "Let it Snow" song as the credits roll which should cement this film into the Christmas film catalogue.

"Get together, have a few drinks, have a few laughs!"

Its no surprise to say that Die Hard is a particularly violent and occasionally vulgar movie but then comparing it to something like 'Bad Santa' which is 90% rude and 10% well intentioned I love to watch it at Christmas as well as during the year not just because of the last minute redemption message towards the end but also because its just a goddam riot. Home Alone is another example where a vast majority of the film is Kevin McCalister home alone and scared stiff (or at least we should relate to that) and also fighting off burglars in his house in comedic and painful fashion. The mother and the rest of the family coming back to Kevin at the end of the film symbolises the importance of having your family around you for Christmas. This symbolism takes place in a film where two guys get a blow torch to the head, a rusty nail through the foot, and a paint can to the face. HO Ho Ho indeed and yet the message is still there loud and clear.

This makes me dismiss some complaints of Die Hard that say because its violent it cant possibly be a Christmas film. Well why does Home Alone get away with it? I feel more uneasy about some of the painful moments in that film than I ever did with Die Hard. Terrorists aren't usually the first thing you think of when Christmas comes to mind and yet it just works. Somehow it just works. Perhaps the right Christmas film doesn't fit a certain tickbox but rather is a mixture of many different themes and ideas. And to resist getting too philosophical I will leave it here. Die Hard is neither a Christmas film nor a film for any othertime of the year. It is a rare breed of a film for all who just enjoy a good movie. Concentrate too hard on the question and you will find your enjoyment of it diminishes over time. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you good times to come in the New Year.

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Getting it Right: How to make an historically accurate film

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Getting it Right: How to make an historically accurate film

Making a good film is hard, making a good historically accurate film is even harder apparently. But I really dont see why we can't have both.

Weve all seen the common phrase 'based on a true story' regurgitated continuously throughout cinema history but how true are any of those claims really? Its nothing more than a clever trick by the filmmakers to get you to disregard any issues you may have with the film because you wouldn't dare argue against a true story would you? Then again the question has to repeatedly be brought up regarding how true to the original source material the film is and whether it is accurately representing history faithfully or is it twisting key moments of our past to make our 21st century minds accept the outdated period of history with a modern narrative?

This brings me to a man I'm sure everyone has heard of called Mel Gibson. The negative effect this man has had on history in general is genuinely quite staggering and how he is constantly allowed to get away with replacing or erasing part of history to sell tickets is beyond me. I could go on for days about his many failed attempts of accuracy but I think it would be best just to narrow it down to 'Braveheart' given the creative control he had on the project. The Scots didnt wear kilts in the 13th century and the battle of Sterling Bridge for some bizarre reason instead takes place on a huge open field and defeat the English using sticks (seriously watch it its pretty hilarious). Completely misunderstanding why they chose Sterling in the first place to stage a battle and its general importance. None of this is ever mentioned or discussed and its brushed off with a simple 'just because' mentality. The dates in which any of these events take place are completely off or just flat out ignored in favour of rolling a dice a few times and seeing what number comes up. Some of the characters had miraculously aged a few decades given the time in which these events take place and some were completely invented for the sake of adding new lines of dialogue.

Sticks Mel. Really? Maybe you want to attach a bit of sharp steel on the tip or something?

Sticks Mel. Really? Maybe you want to attach a bit of sharp steel on the tip or something?

"But this is just petty nitpicking" I hear you ask. Okay so a film has just claimed to be set in a time period they ignore the date of, none of the characters dress to fit that time period, some of the characters would have been too young to even be considered relevant in this time period, and they give absolutely no context to what is happening and why. And no a cheap 3 lines at the start of the film doesnt count for context. Especially when the dates and facts are wrong. So they couldn't even get that right. This film, apart from ignoring centuries of Scottish history treats the audience as idiots who have never read up on anything that William Wallace did and just assume no one is going to call them out on it. The time difference between some of these innacuracies would be the equivalent of someone cracking the Enigma code using a smartphone. That is how little care the filmmakers had to historical accuracy. Then again it was never their intention to stay true to the source material, all they needed to do was sell tickets and entertain us. And apparently it worked.

I cant tell you just how damaging these films are to not just the film industry's reputation but also to everyone who just doesnt know enough about history to right these wrongs. History is too important for us not to get right, if we forget our past then we have no future. And films such as these (which there are a lot of) unfortunately make us forget the true representation of history that we need to be learning from. Otherwise some poor soul years from now like a lot of people see these films as historical fact and think to themselves as they leave the cinema "Oh so that's how it used to be?" They see those 'based on a true story' words and instantly they're hooked and they do this because deep down we all want to learn about our history but its increasingly hard to do so when films like this tell us a fictional part of history totally made up and romanticised to the point where we become blisfully ignorant of our past and therefore ourselves.

Waterloo 1970
Waterloo Charge of the Light Brigade

Am I saying historical films have to be word for word accurate to history, no of course not. Any film is allowed to take the odd creative liberty every now and then but to quote Alfred Hitchcock "Drama is life, with the dull bits cut out." We need to make sure that the bits we are cutting out or replacing arent in any way damaging our view of history. Who is to say a hundred years from now a Holocaust film will be made where Jews and Nazis sit around drinkng cups of tea together and people being ignorant of history take it as fact. I think you can see why I think films such as 'Waterloo' should be praised for their historical accuracy and astonishing attention to detail and why cash grabs like 'Braveheart' should be shunned. I will leave you on this quote by Edmund Burke: "Those who dont know history are doomed to repeat it."

I will share a link below to a Youtube channel called 'History Buffs' who do a far better job than I do of finding historical accuracies and inaccuracies in popular films. If your interested in this sort of thing then please do give him a watch.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCggHoXaj8BQHIiPmOxezeWA

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What If?

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What If?

By Kate Lavery

In another reality I'm doing pretty damn well. I'm making a living from creatively fulfilling and well paid acting gigs, churning out beautifully funny and well crafted plays in between that speak my own unique truth while being universally loved by audiences. I'm living the god damn dream, everything is perfect all the time. Also I'm like a size 10. In another reality a little closer to our own, I'm an usher at a boutique cinema in a small town, where I rent a tiny flat overlooking a cow field with a friend and 50 cats. I haven't acted in months, I can't get the time off for auditions. I have a desk drawer full of ideas for plays that will remain there because I 'just don't have the time to write'.

In this reality, I'm in a flat in Liverpool trying to piece together a voice reel without getting sick of the sound of my own voice. My cafe uniform is drying nearby ready for tomorrow's morning shift, after which I'll be limping across town for rehearsal with my improv troupe. I'm looking at the day's schedule, searching for nap and coffee breaks. The next day will be spent in bed, dividing my time between writing up cover letters and googling 'sudden muscle weakness'. I'm doing ok. Not great, but ok. Not so well as before a sudden anxiety flare up knocked me out of work three years ago, but better than this time last year.

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Sometimes it can take one setback to convince you you're done, whether that's an illness or just one rejection email too many ('best of luck in your future endeavours' too, pal). And you can get to thinking about how much better your life would be if you'd gotten that one great part, if you hadn't gotten sick, if you'd found the one perfect day job that kept you going financially, left enough time for all your creative projects and didn't make you crazy. Well, what if?

It's easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life to that of your peers. This is madness. We could talk for days about how you just can't compare yourself to others because you just don't know what the others are going through. For the most part, we only share the good stuff. When sitting glaring at another application form, or plodding through an audition piece for the much sought after part of 'Friend of Girlfriend', it's easy to forget that for that one guy from uni to get that amazing opportunity he's so humble and so lucky to get and so insistent on plastering across social media, he had to go through a fair amount of glaring at applications and hating life. We hope. So we don't fall for it! We say hey, good for him, and we get back to our own journey.

But it turns out it's pretty easy to start comparing your life to all your own lost alternate lives. And what happens then? Madness, that's what. God, what if I'd got that part in that one film 5 years ago? What if that theatre company had given my play a real shot? What if I didn't have to deal with some ridiculous anxiety disorder, what if? What if? For anything creative, uncertainty is part of the gig. It's the path you're on, and maybe you are missing out. You are definitely missing out on some things, that some alternate version of you is living and taking for granted, the bitch. How dare you. She. Her. Me. Whatever. But chances are she's considering some of the many good things you've got going on with envy, and you might just be doing better than you thought. You're living your life, and that ain't bad. So I repeat to myself at 3am when I consider the cow field and those 50 cats.

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Dr Who Number 13

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Dr Who Number 13

Dr Who Regeneration Complete

I would be lying if I called myself a Dr Who fan. In fact I don't think Ive really got into Dr Who properly since the David Tennant dynasty (which some would dispute was the best doctor) so imagine my shock when I hear the news that Jodie Whittaker is to become the new Doctor Who as the first female Dr in the franchise. At least, I was initially shocked at first like everyone else but then came the obvious and uncomfortable truth......I think I'm okay with it. Maybe its because I come from outside the Dr Who fandom and unchanged by it all. I mean I don't even know who the Dr's apprentice is currently which just shows my knowledge of the series. That being said I would like to think I know a thing or two about casting decisions and this one seems pretty spot on. I personally would feel more outrage from a non British actor portraying the Doctor. Maybe Im biased but I just feel Dr Who should always remain a British property.

On the subject of whether or not a woman can portray the Doctor I say lets give her a shot. I am in no way a fan of feminist pandering by any means but I feel this was going to be an inevitable change regardless of what the fans wanted. The fans originally didnt want David Tennant to go, and we all know what happened there. There are however two ways this can go. We can all hope she is just going to be the same old doctor but with a feminine voice, the same cunning, knowledge and strong attributes the Dr always had. Or we can go the pandering route and have the first episode where the doctor spray paints the tardis pink and "girl power" is her slogan from now on. But lets hope it doesn't come to that. I believe the fans deserve better. At the end of the day the success of Dr Who is and always has been all down to the quality of the writing. Far too often I see films attempt to write a strong character be it male or female and just have them pumping iron or throwing a few punches whilst completely missing the point. An odd comparison but Game of Thrones has some of the strongest female characters on screen and yet the only female characters on the show I can recall even pick up a sword is Aria and Brienne of Tarth and even those scenes are few and far between. Obviously the two shows are worlds apart but the point is still the same. Get the writing down in a believable and realistic way and the character will change along with it. No one would notice on the sex change if the writing was done with respect to the character and not just put in there as a political message. Because come on, aren't we all completely burnt out by politics right now. Who needs that getting in the way of some creative and enjoying content.

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Risky Business Short Film

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Risky Business Short Film

We are very proud and excited to finally release this film we have all worked so hard on. We had a blast making this and we hope to do well at film festivals around the world.

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