Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A2 The Selfish Giant (2013)


May 20, 2014
Noel Vera

Set in a relatively benign junkland, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant is about two kids who salvage parts for a living, probably at this point, who have nothing better to do with their lives. 

You might say Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant (2013) is one-third Of Mice and Men (two friends, one of them not ostensibly smart), one-third Oliver Twist (boys seduced into stealing for a modern-day Fagin) and maybe less than a third Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale.

Fact is, the eponymous giant’s status in this picture is rather ambiguous: the title might refer to unscrupulous junkyard dealer Kitten (Sean Gilder - terrific actor, if not exactly of impressive stature); to the tall steel-and-concrete structures looming in the film’s background; to any adult seeing these kids and failing to act decisively (pretty much all of them, when you think about it).

Barnard borrows from the films of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh (Loach’s Kes being an especially vivid precursor), borrows from the kind of kitchen-sink realism Great Britain specialized in back to the ’60s; one also suspects the presence of the Dardenne brothers in the gene pool - the focus on the poor and marginalized, the mostly handheld camera, the total lack of music (other than what you hear from a passing radio, or what onscreen characters sing or whistle aloud), the naturalistic acting, the often bleak urban landscape, the even bleaker weather.

Barnard does make the style her own, however: once in a while she inserts what one might call “pillow shots,” images that bridge the transition from scene to scene - ong shots of transmission pylons, transformer stations, nuclear reactor cooling towers, all often shrouded in haze like immense figures striding straight out of myth and legend. In Barnard’s case her repeated use of these larger-than-life constructs (the majority of which for some reason - they’re the biggest and easiest to find? - involve the power-generating industry) suggests that the story takes place in some fabled fallen kingdom, the ruins a reminder of the glory that was postwar industrial England.

Enter Arbor (Connor Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas); the two had just been kicked out of school for fighting. Good for them; they’d much rather work for Kitten, salvaging junk metal and cable copper from wherever and whenever.

Barnard again makes a point, following these children as they drive a horsecart through the streets of Bradford, West Yorkshire: in this depressed economy the enterprise of choice isn’t innovation or manufacture, but salvage - clambering in and out of junk piles, ripping motors out of fridges and washing machines for the coils of precious copper, on occasion stealing the wire out from under an unwary neighbour’s nose.

A police officer spells it out for Arbor’s mother: stealing cable (and not in the digital download sense) is a criminal offense that could land them in jail. But Arbor doesn’t care; school’s a waste of time, bills need to be paid, and he has nothing better to do with his life.

What follows has the quiet desperation of ants crawling over a dead horse’s near-clean carcass, of little creatures competing fiercely over increasingly slim pickings. The boys have to contend with police, with social workers, with their own occasionally worried parents, with property owners who care about their pilfered property, with other adults on a similar mission who wouldn’t mind shoving aside a smaller competitor if it meant snatching a hunk of metal worth ten quid at Kitten’s.

Kitten is equally unscrupulous; when Arbor had been paid a particularly generous bounty, Kitten pulls out a few bills from Arbor’s hand and calls it “tax, collected direct.” Arbor still doesn’t care; he has a little pocket money now, and Swifty can help pay for his family’s overdue electric bill.

Along the way Arbor talks yearningly of boosting power cables from the transmission pylons standing like sentinels over the Yorkshire countryside; like Wilde’s titan they also hold up treasure of a value beyond dreaming, plainly visible but just that far out of the boys’ reach.

That said, the town of Bradford is not exactly Hell on earth. Barnard’s film isn’t as harrowing as Luis Bunuel’s Los Olvidados, where the Mexican slums teem with murderous adults, uncaring-to-the-point-of-perverse parents, and out-and-out child sociopaths; nor are the working conditions as bad as in Ralston Jover’s Bakal Boys where kids use cheap plastic snorkels to dive for scrap metal in the sea, of all places (Jover notes that a child goes missing every other week, thanks to underwater currents, or sharks, or who knows what else).

Interestingly, Bunuel and Jover opt for a chillier, more distant emotional tone, knowing that with material as harrowing as what they have you don’t need to pump up the drama for a strong film, that in fact you need to tone it down considerably or else it all becomes too much - the audience is in more danger of breaking out in laughter than breaking down in tears.

Barnard gives us a bleak but relatively benign milieu where the children are taken care of (albeit indifferently) and the adults do stop short of seeing their offspring as literal prey. In this not-quite-best-of-worlds, a purgatory if you like caught between extremes (with perhaps a bias towards the lower), she’s free to do the vulgar thing, reach out for the melodramatic, explicitly touch our hearts.

A2 Representation of the Working Class and Collective Identity - past questions...

 You get a choice from two questions; one and two were from the same year - and so on.

1.   Analyse the impact of media representation on the collective identity of one or more groups of people.
2.   Compare the different ways in which one or more groups of people are represented in the media.
3.   Analyse the ways in which at least one group of people is mediated.
4.   Discuss the social implications of media in relation to collective identity.
5.   How do media representations influence collective identity?
6.   Discuss the different ways in which groups of people are represented by media.
7.   Discuss how one o more groups of people are represented through the media?
8.   Explain the role played by the media in the construction of collective identity.
9.   Analyse the ways in which the media represent groups of people.
10. What is collective identity and how is it mediated?
11. With reference to one group of people you have studied, discuss how their identity has been mediated.
12. ‘Media representations are complex, not simple and straightforward.’ How far do you agree with this statement in relation to the collective group you have studied?
13. Analyse the ways in which the media represent one group of people that you have studied.
14. ‘The media do not construct collective identity; they merely reflect it.” Discuss.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

AS The Lego Movie - questions...

1.   How was it distributed?

2.   How was it released?

3.   How was it designed to appeal to a large audience?

4.   Worldwide appeal of storyline?

5.  Synergy – Lego makes Marvel and DC superheroes – WHY were only DC heroes featured in the movie?

6.  How did it use social networking sites and viral marketing? MovieUK - note the use of various local Twitter pages to target a local audiences around the world

7.  How did its website appeal? Look at the features available and the various links...

8. How did synergy help promote it?

9. How did it target a local (i.e. UK) audience?

10. Viral marketing and more… - note the way fan-made videos extend brand recognition and, therefore, act as a promotional tool for the film…

11. Combating piracy, despite there being a while between movie release and DVD/BluRay release – by offering extras -

12. It’s worth looking at this – though some of it is incomplete and some of it you already have -

13. This is really technical, but if you can come away with a couple of points about how digital technology was used in the making of the movie, it would be beneficial.

14. And how about this? Dannon Yoghurt and Warner Brothers in a promotional partnership deal using text messaging, Why were Dannon interested in the first place and why use that particular media form?

15.   Note the variety of posters used – and the cheeky allusion to a successful superhero movie by another company…  You might find more about this if you dig around.

AS The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie (stylized as The LEGO Movie) is a 2014 American-Australian computer animated adventure comedy film directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks,Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman. Based mainly on the Lego line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmet prophesied to save the Lego universe from the tyrannical Lord Business.

It was released theatrically on February 7, 2014. The movie was a critical and commercial success, with many critics highlighting its visual style and humour. It earned more than $253 million in North America and $206 million internationally for a worldwide total of over $460 million.

A sequel is scheduled to be released on May 26, 2017.


"We wanted to make the film feel like the way you play, the way I remember playing. We wanted to make it feel as epic and ambitious and self-serious as a kid feels when they play with LEGO. We took something you could claim is the most cynical cash grab in cinematic history, basically a 90 minute LEGO commercial, and turned it into a celebration of creativity, fun and invention, in the spirit of just having a good time and how ridiculous it can look when you make things up. And we had fun doing it.'" — Animation supervisor Chris McKay

The film had been in development at Warner Bros. since 2008. By August 2009, Dan and Kevin Hageman were writing the script described as "action adventure set in a Lego world."Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were in talks in June 2010 to write and direct the film.Warner Bros. green-lit the film by November 2011, with a planned 2014 release date. The Australian studio Animal Logic was contracted to provide the animation, which was expected to comprise 80% of the film. By this time Chris McKay, the director of Robot Chicken, had also joined Lord and Miller to co-direct.McKay explained that his role was to supervise the production in Australia. In March 2012, Lord and Miller revealed the film's working title, Lego: The Piece of Resistance, and a storyline.

By June 2012, a number of high profile actors had been cast, such as Chris Pratt as the voice of Emmet, the lead Lego character, and Will Arnett voicing Lego Batman. Others, like Morgan Freeman as the voice of Vitruvius, an old mystic, were added later.

In July 2012, a Lego-user contest announced on the film's Facebook page would choose a winning Lego vehicle to appear in the film. Miller's childhood Space Village playset is utilised in the film.

Use of digital technology during production – widespread e.g. Animal Logic tried to make the film's animation replicate a stop motion film even if everything was done through computer graphics, with the animation rigs following the same articulation limits actual Lego figures have. The camera systems also tried to replicate live action cinematography, including different lenses and a Steadicam simulator. The scenery was projected through The Lego Group's own Lego Digital Designer, which as CG supervisor Aidan Sarsfield detailed, "uses the official LEGO Brick Library and effectively simulates the connectivity of each of the bricks.” At times the minifigures were even placed under microscopes to capture the seam lines, dirt and grime into the digital textures.


The Lego Movie received many forms of marketing from both Warner Bros. and The Lego Group. Seventeen building play sets inspired by scenes from the film were released, including a set of Collectible Minifigures.

A website was opened up so fans could make minifigure versions of themselves, and later, put that in the film's official trailer. The company has recruited a roster of global partners to a broad, multi-category licensing program to support the film.

Official Lego Brand Stores also scheduled events. Each week of January 2014, a new character poster (Wyldstyle, Batman, Emmet, Lord Business) came with every purchase. By building a creative model in-store, people received a free accessory pack.

Promotional partners - Barnes & Noble will host a themed event in January, February, and March. On February 7, 2014, McDonald's released eight collectible holographic/3D cups in Happy Meals to promote the film.

A video game based on the film, The Lego Movie Videogame, by TT Games for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, and Windows, was released on February 4, 2014. An exclusive "Wild West Emmet" minifigure was released with preorders of the game at GameStop.

Trailer - The first theatrical trailer was released on June 18, 2013 featuring the song, Feel This Moment by Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera.

The second was released on October 31, 2013, preceded by a series of teasers featuring main characters featuring the song, Wake Me Up (Avicii song) by Avicii with the song, "Feel This Moment".

The Lego Movie premiered at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 2014, and was released in theatres on February 7, 2014.

Home media - The Lego Movie will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 17, 2014. A special "Everything is Awesome Edition" will also include a Vitruvius minifigure and a collectible 3D Emmet photo.

Box office - As of May 11, 2014, The Lego Movie has grossed $253,666,490 in North America, and $206,400,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $460,066,490. In North America, the film opened at number one in its first weekend, with $69,050,279, which is the second highest weekend debut in February behind The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million). It remained the highest-grossing film of 2014 until it was surpassed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Soundtrack -The film's original score was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, who had previously worked with Lord and Miller on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. The Lego Movie soundtrack contains the score as the majority of its tracks. Also included is the song "Everything Is Awesome!!!" written by Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew and Lisa Harriton and performed by Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island, which has also been used in the film's marketing campaign. The soundtrack was released on February 4, 2014 by WaterTower Music, which is owned by Warner Brothers, the company behind the film.

Largely swiped from Wikipedia...

AS Marketing the Lego Movie

AS The Lego Movie