Film and TV Editor Christina Riley reviews The Crimes of Grindelwald, the latest film in the 'Harry Potter' franchise. Harry Potter took the world by storm in the early noughties and continues to enchant its audience to this day with its ever-evolving Wizarding World. Rowling added to the HP fanfare when she announced a new series which started with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2016, and more recently she revealed that the franchise will comprise of five films. Its latest addition, The Crimes of Grindelwald, was highly anticipated, though not necessarily for the right reasons; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was enjoyable – despite not living up to the adventures of Harry Potter – and in its ending pointed to its future instalments which would flesh out minor plotlines within the Potter series. But a myriad of controversies surrounding Gindelwald’s casting, and the coveted return to Hogwarts hinted to the franchise’s early decline.The issue regarding the casting of Korean actress Claudia Kim as Nagini, who in the Harry Potter series serves as Voldemort’s pet snake, caused outrage from its announcement. Before the film premiered there was considerable backlash from fans and media surrounding the casting of an Asian woman to eventually become slave to a white man, setting a precedent for further instances of cultural and historical insensitivity which would become apparent throughout The Crimes of Grindelwald. The faux pas alienated a number of Rowling’s followers, the heroes once again being cast as, for the most part, white men. The lack of consideration for a diverse and international fanbase was a decision made in poor taste, and quite frankly is beneath Rowling as a writer. The storyline of Nagini as a ‘Maledictus’ – a human woman who can turn into a snake, but who will eventually lose the ability to transform back to her human self – could have been interesting, had it been developed and handled better. Had Rowling given Kim more than a meagre few lines in the two hours and fourteen minute picture, she could have potentially won back a little credibility for her own justification of the plot and casting. However, the almost silent victim of Nagini confirmed all suspicions and ignored the many possibilities her minor character had to become an empowered female, fighting against her captors, the patriarchy and ultimately the white male oppressors. In her attempt to use a form of mysticism deriving from Indonesian mythology, Rowling tethered what was assumed to be a leading Asian role within the series to claims of cultural appropriation, thus leaving a number of people seeking equal and adequate representation within her imaginary world. Rowling and the Fantastic Beasts team dealt a racially insensitive card, their gamble losing them respect from many of its former supporters due to the embarrassing attempt at representation.It was clear that new technology allowed the filmmakers to create visually stunning elements, notably when the fantastic beasts themselves were introduced, such as the ‘Zouwu’. The scene in which magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) tames the wildly ferocious beasts with a toy provides a truly magical moment akin to Harry’s befriending of Buckbeak the Hippogriff in The Prisoner of Azkaban. It is the simple details which allowed the audience to feel most connected to the Wizarding World as they were reminded so fondly of previous instalments. The adventures of Newt, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and creatures such as Pickett the Bowtruckle, and Newt’s Nifflers bring wholesome moments of entertainment that are sadly dispersed among a badly reiterated version of Harry, Dumbledore and Voldemort’s story. Unfortunately, the amazingly rendered cute creatures could not compensate for the screenplay, which lacked the same level of development throughout the Harry Potter series.Rowling’s plot itself was utterly ridiculous. Throughout, the film was packed full of twists and turns that weren’t given time to develop, leaving them to be hashed out in minutes towards its ending where a few of the plethora of loose ends were unsuccessfully tied up. The endless lists of inconsequential minor characters and the predictability of yet another long-lost family member created a mockery of the carefully crafted plotlines of Harry Potter. Dumbledore’s (Jude Law) now third secret sibling, Credence (Ezra Miller), turned Dumbledore’s rich and complex character into nothing but a farce. Cashing in on fans’ love of Dumbledore by trying to add layer upon layer onto his character is becoming too much, much like the dragging out of the Wizarding World itself. Strong performances from Redmayne, Fogler and Miller made The Crimes of Grindelwald bearable, but the promise of Rowling’s talent, and the misleading title providing nothing but a let down as Grindelwald (Johhny Depp) himself was for the most part a background character.Fantastic Beasts was full of fantastical mishaps; the Hogwarts of Harry, Ron and Hermoine was destroyed back in 2011 in the culmination of the Potter series, despite the recent instalments acting as its prequel. A poorly written screenplay, which is itself a bastardised version of Harry Potter, suggests Rowling’s magic is spent. The predictability of the film’s mistakes was almost comical; the recycled story, the estranged family members, and a series of blunders among an industry criticised for its racial and gender controversies. In this instance, the filmmakers’ biggest mistake was their simple lack of tact, and their indulgence of Rowling’s tired ideas. Rating: Two Stars
Sarah MacNeill reviews ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and examines how almost thirty years after his death, Freddie Mercury is still performing for his fans – even if only metaphorically. However, the controversial reception from critics demands the question: is this film a success, or simply feeding off of his fans’ unwavering devotion?Some eight years (and three Freddies) after the project was ?rst announced, October saw the much anticipated release of Bohemian Rhapsody. Critically, the ?lm has fallen as ?at as Queen’s controversial 1982 disco album Hot Space, yet the biopic has reigned over the UK box o?ce since its opening weekend. As well as the reception, the production of this ?lm has not been a smooth one, with many changes of staff and direction in the eight years since guitarist Brian May announced the project.The question of who would play Freddie Mercury sparked the most controversy throughout production. Initially Sacha Baron Cohen promised a gritty and explicit portrayal of the singer; then it was to be critically acclaimed actor Ben Whishaw, renowned for his portrayal of anguished heroes. Ultimately though, it was Rami Malek, the man behind the social-anxiety-ridden programmer in Mr Robot, who was chosen for the role. Seemingly an odd choice at ?rst, Malek’s commitment to studying Mercury, down to the smallest facial movements and expressions, led to the standout performance of the ?lm. He captured the complex nature of the character well, exploring Mercury’s shyness and vulnerability as well as his on-stage bravado.The ?lm begins backstage before Queen’s show-stealing Live Aid performance. As the band are about to take to the stage, we’re taken back to 1970, where Queen’s story begins. A young Farrokh Bulsara (who would go on to change his name to Freddie Mercury) attends a concert held by the band Smile, where he ?rst meets his future girlfriend Mary Austin. Backstage after the performance, we see the rock trio (guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and frontman Tim Staffell) fall into momentary turmoil as Staffell announces his departure from the band to join folk-rock trio Humpy Bong. Bulsara conveniently appears moments later asking to demo some songs. Some cringe-inducing dialogue about extra teeth later, Bulsara is suddenly on stage with the full Queen lineup of May, Taylor and bassist John Deacon, who appears without introduction. We then follow the band’s bumpy path to stardom through the 70s and 80s – special credit must be given to Julien Day for his costuming that beautifully captures the band’s flamboyance and the styles of this era, adding an authenticity to the storytelling. After what appeared to be a successful first performance, there was pushback from record companies and critics alike. In spite of this, we see the band thrive in live performances and in the studio. We see the recording of classics like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Another one Bites the Dust’ and ‘We Will Rock You’, including some fun nods to the band’s unorthodox production methods like the scattering of coins on a drum head and a microphone being shaken in bucket. These quirks give us a glimpse into the band’s unique personalities which are often overlooked by the press in favour of gossip on Freddie. The band dynamic is also explored a little, however it feels more like rose-tinted nostalgia than a true-to-life account of events.The focal point of the ?lm is Mercury’s battle with his sexuality and its effect on his complex relationship with girlfriend Mary Austin, who outs Mercury, resulting in their breakup. Every moment the pair share on screen thereafter is bittersweet: despite Freddie’s lavish drug-fuelled parties and promiscuous behaviour, it’s clear that he never stopped loving Austin. We can feel Mercury’s heartache throughout the ?lm, particularly when Austin announces her new long-term boyfriend. Bohemian Rhapsody also touches on Mercury’s controversial private life including his homosexual relationships, drug use and the relentless questioning from the press about his personal affairs, which took a huge toll on his mental health. Towards the end of the ?lm, he announces his AIDS diagnosis to the band (Mercury died from bronchopnuemonia - a complication of AIDS - in 1991). The ?lm, however, did not go into much depth about these issues, and overall felt very safe: a far cry from Baron Cohen’s promised “gritty R-rated tell-all” about the bisexual singer. Though this could be seen as a move from May and Taylor to protect Mercury’s legacy and keep the ?lm “PG”, even Freddie himself may not have agreed with this decision: “You can do what you want with my music,” he said on what to do with his legacy, “but don’t make me boring.” Perhaps with a similar thought in mind, the ?lm also avoids exploring the final years of his life, instead finishing with Queen’s triumphant Live Aid performance. This maintains the lighthearted tone of the ?lm, however, for a plot that seems heavily focused on Mercury, we miss out on many interesting stories that the public perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise known about him. For example, his dedication and love for his art meant that he recorded music until his final days, even when he was too unwell to stand up: the song ‘Mother Love’ is partially sung by Brian May as Mercury died during the recording. It also misses the fact that Mercury had a very good relationship with Austin and her children towards the end of his life, eventually leaving his entire estate to her, which could have further emphasised the complex nature of their relationship.The biopic received 60% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics, and much of the criticism is well-deserved. The ?lm seems almost a parody of itself at moments, filled with cheesy dialogue and caricatures of the band members: as the “womaniser” of the band, Taylor is never seen without a girl on his arm, and “quiet one” Deacon (incidentally the only band member not on the production team) has almost no character development whatsoever. It was clear that the ?lm suffered from its conception from an ever-changing team, the interests of remaining band members and multiple directors during filming (credited director Bryan Singer was ?red last year for repeated absence). However, despite its obvious flaws, the overarching triumph of Bohemian Rhapsody is, of course, the music. The soundtrack is full of Queen hits, along with deep cuts and rare live recordings for the superfans; small musical details such as Brian May’s cover of the 20th Century Fox fanfare add character and are welcome additions. The ?lm’s reception seems a good metaphor for Queen’s music: though they never truly reached critical success, their songs were loved by the masses. Bohemian Rhapsody is not going to win any Oscars, but I dare you not to come out of the cinema singing ‘We are the Champions’. Film and TV Editor: Christina Riley
Film and TV Editor Christina Riley reviews the third remake of A Star is Born, directed by Bradley Cooper who also stars alongside Lady Gaga. 2018’s A Star is Born sees an old classic brought into the modern world. With the 1937 original starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March previously remade twice with stars such as Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand, director and male lead Bradley Cooper had a tough feat ahead of him, and only exceeded expectations. Already an acclaimed actor, Cooper brought his role as Jackson Maine to new heights as his character struggled with many of the same demons he fought himself early in his career. Drawing on these experiences was quite possibly what encouraged him to give what is perhaps the best performance of his career to date. Starring alongside him as Ally, Lady Gaga gave an equally compelling performance, which was surpassed only by her breathtaking vocals.The dynamic music and lighting of Jackson Maine’s concert set the initial tone, making the audience believe they were part of a rock concert with electrifying instrumentals pounding through the speakers. Cooper’s singing voice was an incredible shock to many who remember him as a lovable, sarcastic character in The Hangover series. Adopting his new role as a singer seemed effortless, and the juxtaposition between his gritty vocals and Gaga’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of ‘La Vie en Rose’ blended into mesmerising duets and a heated onscreen romance. When seeing them performing together, chills were felt down spines, goose-bumps on arms, and tears streaming from eyes; the musical composition was truly special to witness. Their duets were authentic, sweaty, and raw – translating into Jackson and Ally’s passion for each other, and above all for music. The cut guitar string which Jackson proposed with summed up perfectly the relationship between the two both on and off screen; Ally and Jackson found love through music, while Cooper and Gaga’s musical experiments was what encouraged backing for the film’s production. Whenever Ally sings, Jackson’s face conveys an admiration and awe that echoes the sentiments of their audience; it is a reaction so unmistakable and full of love, that it is one that cannot be faked. It is easy to discern Cooper’s acting from truth and above all that was what was conveyed through his and Gaga’s onscreen relationship – there is clearly a deep love and respect for each other as friends, and as artists.At times, following the rock star throughout his tour was reminiscent of watching a music documentary, a genre that is no stranger to the silver screen. This decision enhanced Ally’s argument that no-one wanted to know Jackson as a person, to ask how he was, and thus while concert footage suggests that with fame comes endless parties, friends and relationships, we see that Jackson is isolated from everyone until Ally becomes a part of his life and career. Cooper’s creative skill in directing allowed the story to become believable and completely honest all while being executed to perfection, showcasing both the good and the volatile aspects of fame. Exercising his exceptional talents as not only an actor, but filmmaker too, Cooper experimented with genre to create a dichotomy between on and off-stage personalities, which become more and more conflated throughout as Jackson’s addictions become increasingly dangerous. It is here that we see the documentary of Jackson’s musical career come to almost a complete halt while Ally’s takes off. Therefore, his death shows the ultimate price stars pay with the pressures of constant expectations and an elevated status to almost super-human; Jackson’s episode at the Grammys while his wife picks up an award and he urinates next to her onstage, and the events which transpire afterwards, is indicative of a spotlight which is unrelenting and unforgiving, this moment essentially becoming the decider of his fate.The culmination of Jackson Maine’s life is punctuated by a dramatic light sequence in which the family home is illuminated in flashing red and purple hues following his wife Ally’s stage performance. Death is thus his last performance, one in which he shows his darkest feelings, and his deepest love, however twisted his logic. Spurred on by Ally’s manager who insists he does not want Jackson around her and her success, Jackson’s suicide is mourned for the loss of a great talent, but only second to the regret and sorrow for the loss of a kind, loving and troubled man. His question to Ally in ‘Shallow’, “tell me something girl, are you happy in this modern world?” can be applied to the corporate music world which exacerbated Jackson’s personal traumas and changes the tone of Ally’s music career from singer/songwriter to a media sensation and popstar – her fame reliant on image more than sound. As we see the end of one career and life, and the beginning of another, we are left with the question if this is bound to become a toxic cycle.Ultimately, it was the passion emanating from A Star is Born which left a mark on its audience. A deeply moving watch, the personal struggles of Jackson and Ally, as well as their tumultuous relationship allowed each member of the audience to relate to the very real characters created; whether through plot or lyrics, a kinship was forged. Thus, the personal touches to the film allowed both filmmakers, actors and singers to create a beautiful piece, and a true testament to their talent as artists.Stars: ****
Film and TV Editor Christina Riley offers her thoughts on Sierra Burgess is a Loser, a controversial new flick from Netflix.This summer has seen a string of Netflix releases featuring a strong female lead who is not the typical ‘it’ girl of high school. Insatiable, To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before and the brand new release Sierra Burgess is a Loser feature young women who have been ignored and picked on, and the story follows them as they try to overcome their insecurities. Teen romance films have long since been played out and original screenplays are few and far between. Sierra Burgess is a Loser is no different in that it is steeped in clichés, but what sets it apart from the stock may not be worth commending.Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser) describes herself as a teenager who is not obsessed about how she looks. Drawing on similar issues from Insatiable, Sierra’s bully Veronica (Kristine Froseth) makes derogatory comments regarding body image, with weight being the primary topic of disdain. With the backlash Insatiable received for its depiction of the vengeful “Fatty Patty,” Sierra at first appears to be someone who defends herself against bullies by utilising her intelligence and grace. However, it is soon apparent that Sierra adopts the attitude of her Netflix counterpart at times, for example when she intentionally humiliates her new friend who has issues at home. Bullying is thus exposed as a defence mechanism for people who suffer from insecurity and lack of self-esteem; Sierra’s relationship with Jamey (Noah Centineo) highlights the harmful effects of unrealistic body standards not only on those who look up to them, but also on the people in their lives. Love interest Jamey straddles two worlds, one which he lives in briefly as his football team’s quarterback, and the other as a “loser who hangs about with losers.” Feeling unable to be viewed as beautiful from either the quarterback or loser, Sierra decides she has no other choice but to dupe the boy she likes by using Veronica’s appearance when interacting with him online, so-called catfishing. Veronica’s brutal statement that Sierra would be alone forever without the stereotypical pretty girl acting as her face, suggests that there is only one type of beauty and deviating from the norm equates to being less entitled to happiness. In this way, harmful stereotypes about women’s body image propagated in media and fashion are prevalent in this film. We can assume that the media, which is still littered with photoshopped and distorted images, is one reason Sierra is told and believes she does not fit into the category of being beautiful. With the single exception of telling herself she is a “magnificent beast” in her first appearance in the film, Sierra is complicit in putting herself down. Living vicariously through Veronica may give Sierra the confidence to build a relationship via texts and phone calls, but the issue with this favour between two budding friends is Sierra’s subsequent belief that she is incapable of being viewed as beautiful, and the confirmation of this through Veronica’s agreement. Sierra as a character is plagued with contradictions and her looks are referred to in one instance as the “least ugly thing about [her].” The characters’ obsession with superficiality relates to an image problem within our society that creates a host of other emotional and mental health issues.Despite the sympathy viewers feel for Sierra and her struggle with self-image, the controversy of her catfishing cannot be ignored. Entering a relationship under false pretences in any circumstances is wrong, and potentially dangerous. The first kiss between Sierra and Jamey occurs under false pretences in which his eyes are literally covered by Sierra’s hands while he is under the impression she is actually Veronica. Sierra’s first kiss with Jamey is disturbing; while on-screen it is portrayed as harmless fun among friends, their kiss highlights a growing concern of a plethora of individuals who are involved with online dating websites. Jamey is taken advantage of both physically and emotionally, and despite the happy ending, is involved in an abusive relationship. The true identity of Sierra is kept hidden throughout most of the film while he gets to know her through phone calls and texts; in the end, is his choice one that he makes for himself, or is it the product of weeks of emotional manipulation that has led him to fall in love with this girl? The culminating scene which sees Sierra repairing her relationships with Jamey and her friends creates its warped fairy-tale ending. Mixed messages are received throughout the film, and even in Jamey’s own reasoning he admits Sierra is “not everyone’s type” and that had he not met her in the way he had, the outcome of their relationship would most likely have differed; this then begs the question, does he agree with Sierra and Veronica’s methods? As aforementioned, the media and fashion industry are instrumental in cultivating anxieties concerning looks, and thus, in cases such as this, at large to blame for the toxicity of social media.Sierra Burgess is a Loser treads a path shrouded by a moral grey area. On the one hand, the people around her confirm she cannot find a romantic relationship because of her looks which leads her to drastic measures, and on the other, she commits a problematic act which wins her the boy. The age certificate is rated for ages 12 and above, thus the target audience are influential young persons who are being fed morally ambiguous information, fostering ill attitudes toward self-confidence and regard for others. An innocent perspective of Sierra Burgess would see it as a usual rom-com with slight tweaks to make it stand out, but from a critical viewpoint, the film does this for all the wrong reasons, making it extremely uncomfortable to watch.Stars: *
Our Film and TV Editor Christina Riley reviews the Filmmakers' Society's Freshers Showcase.As part of the Freshers’ Week program, the Filmmakers’ Society showcased an array of works from the last year, including Isla, winner of three categories in the 2018 St Andrews Film Festival. Displaying a range of short films ranging from simple comedies to complex narratives, the society presented an inclusive show which celebrated beginners and more experienced filmmakers alike with their host of styles.Isla was a stand-out winner among its counterparts. The filming and finish was to a professional standard. The smooth transitions from reality to escapist dreams were exquisite, with dramatic use of music, making the film flow throughout. From acting to production, it was believable and entertaining, making use of dark and base humour to convey the main character Isla’s visceral frustrations.Instructions was another striking film. The simple narration throughout lead its main character and its audience through a sequence of obstacles, all of which created a hilarious and enjoyable journey. Again, the professionalism of production shone through; the few minutes of comedy lead to the uncovering of an Amazon parcel, and could easily be utilised by the company as an advertisement. Less was more in this case, as Instructions was a refreshing change of pace from previous character-based plotlines; being verbally guided through the film eliminated some of the confusions surrounding 1999 for example, which tried to accomplish, arguably, too much in the time allotted.St Andrews is fortunate in its breathtaking scenery, which most of the films paid homage to. The jarring camerawork in 1999 was particularly unique, capturing the eerie essence of the drama. At times, the filming itself was the star of the show instead of the script and the acting. The Showcase culminated with The Perfect Story, an enchanting love story conveyed through stunning cinematography and set design against the romantic backdrop of St Andrews’ beaches and stonework. The film’s manipulation of setting showed flair among the variety of filmmakers, and was truly mesmerising on-screen.The Filmmakers’ Society put on a well-rounded and entertaining showcase. Steeped in talent, it points to new successes for the upcoming year and brands student filmmakers’ as the ones to watch - their next shows are eagerly anticipated.The Filmmakers’ Society is accepting script submissions until 30th September. Follow their Facebook page for the latest updates.
Our Creative Writing editor, Hudson Cleveland, reviews BlacKkKlansman and its unnerving parallels with the American political climate today. The scariest part of Spike Lee's newest joint, BlacKkKlansman — beyond even the starkly drawn parallels of the ?lm’s reality based narrative, and the 2017 Charlottesville alt-right rally — is that David Duke (Topher Grace), former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, wins. That David Duke winds up the ultimate winner of the Colorado Springs debacle might not be readily apparent, what with how easily the ?lm pokes at his notions of racial difference; Duke, in the ?lm, claims to be able to know a black man by voice alone. He asserts this over the phone to Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), undercover cop in?ltrating the Klan and, yes, a black man. In which case, the classic distinction between “battle” and “war” is in order: David Duke lost the battle in Colorado Springs, but he did, in fact, win the war.Somewhere in the middle of the ?lm, Of?cer Clay Mulaney (Brian Tarantina) outlines to Stallworth Duke’s overall strategy, that is, the makeover of white supremacy: Duke dresses spif?ly, combs his hair, has the outward appearance of a next-door neighbour Southern man. In doing so, he sought white supremacy’s normalization and its becoming mainstream — with the aim of putting such people in political power. The obvious nod in the ?lm is to Donald Trump, which garners laughs when Stallworth reacts incredulously to the idea that someone could be made President of the United States under such pretences, but the idea, now, is hardly laughable. And that’s because, over the decades, Duke’s strategies bore fruit. Trump is hardly the only example, Duke himself scored 38.8% of the vote in the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial election for governor. Richard Spencer, one of the key organizers for the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, coiner of the term “alt-right,” and all-around neo-nazi, utilizes the same techniques. In other words, he attempts to make white supremacists appear rational or normal through image, thus making this ideology appear fashionable. Technology, for decades, has been utilised to manipulate and foster this image and today’s social media followings allow political players such as Spencer and Duke to continue to broadcast this racist agenda. The stream of technological consciousness that can be disseminated so quickly to followers and potential followers alike mirrors the very radio programs of Duke’s broadcast at random throughout BlacKkKlansman. Besides these two, there are other large organizations and individuals who help to spread — or at least do nothing to hinder — the rhetoric they spout: InfoWars, Breitbart, Fox News (in particular, Tucker Carlson). Richard Spencer also vouches for Youtube channels such as Sargon of Akkad — currently at 840,000 subscribers and netting hundreds of thousands of views per week, and a channel which leads down a dark, tortuous rabbit hole of other such content — and there are men like Milo Yiannopoulos, who spread the white ethno-state word through “humour” and “trolling.” Not only is Trump in of?ce, Trump-esque candidates have proliferated — and won. How virtually unabashed white supremacy (veiled before, and very thinly now) has begun to rear its head again has a long, convoluted, sordid history that dates from the Civil War, to Reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement’s backlash, and Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon’s (among others) use of the “Southern Strategy” — a history I can only sketch hazily here. In sum, BlacKkKlansman does an excellent job of not only showing the racism of America’s past, but also of showing through allusion, that it is not going away any time soon. The plans of white supremacists are often much more shrewd than we give them credit for — though, if enacted in full, they will inevitably lead to only one logical “Solution.” Thus, the scariest notion of David Duke and Co. is its very real connotations with the radical members of American governance today.While strong criticisms were levelled against BlacKkKlansman, for instance, Boots Riley’s essay on, essentially, how it went too easy on police; or Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson arguing that it was more or less a ?lm that preached to the choir, — criticisms I in part agree with — I think that the crumbs of information regarding institutionalized (as opposed to overt, Klan-like) racism are there for the discerning eye, or for the viewer willing to dig deeper. One of the opening examples of such, is the string of pro?les requested from Stallworth as he worked in the Records department of the Colorado Springs police: all records asked for were of black men. Less salient examples would be the racism of Stallworth’s Chief of Police, who at one point, parrots Duke’s claim that black people can be discerned by voice alone. Another comes at the climax of the movie. Stallworth, not in uniform, apprehending a suspect, a white woman looking the quintessential American housewife who has planted C4 in a terrorist plot, is mistaken by other of?cers arriving on the scene as an aggressor. Not only that, they refuse Stallworth the privilege of showing the badge he has in his pocket — violently, with a baton to the gut — but, when Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) arrives, also not in uniform but gun drawn, he is able to simply toss the of?cers his own badge and waltz forward with no issues. The scene calls to mind the it’s-not-what-it-looks-like moment at the end of another great ?lm, Get Out (2017) — whose director, Jordan Peele, also produced BlacKkKlansman. Such small details exhibit that the outright supremacist rhetoric of David Duke lurks more nefariously throughout America itself — in its institutions, in its subconscious. Once you see it, there is no real escape from it. While the ?lm does handle these borderline-subliminal race relations, as well as directing, acting, writing, and virtually all technical aspects of ?lm making extraordinarily well, I can’t help but wrap back around to the aforementioned critics. Wilkinson only touches on one key aspect, and that is the relationship between Stallworth and Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier), who are undercover cop and president of a black students’ union respectively, but this is a relationship that goes woefully unexplored. Dumas quotes thinkers like W.E.B. DuBois, but we never see how DuBois’ notion of “double consciousness” is ameliorated through Dumas and Stallworth. The movie simply ends with their relationship somehow in-tact despite the visceral hatred of all things police Dumas holds.That being said, BlacKkKlansman’s end will undoubtedly go down as legendary, with the utter fantasy of busting a racist cop shattered by an abrupt and unsettling tonal shift to the unsettling reality: footage of the Charlottesville rally, including the car attack — the terrorist attack — perpetrated by James Fields, leaving twenty-eight injured and one, Heather Heyer, dead. And, of course, the President of the United States’ unnerving statement which followed.BlacKkKlansman is in UK theatres from 24th August. Based on the true life-story of Ron Stallworth, a black man who used his position as the first Afro-American officer/detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department to expose racism and injustice.
Christina Riley, our new Film and TV Subeditor, introduces her section.Hi, I’m Christina and I will be taking on the role of Film and TV editor this year. To tell you a little bit about myself, I’m a fourth year English student and aspire to a career in publishing after graduating. My areas of study usually involve literature that is doused in political history and controversial debate, an aspect which I hope to bring to the Film and TV section of The Tribe.My culminating year now sees me taking on a leadership role for a magazine I have quickly grown to love writing for, and one that I’m sure I will also love editing for. I have always had a passion for reading and writing, and so I am eager to be doing both for the magazine this year, but above all I’m interested in reading your submissions and getting a good feel for each individual as a writer.My aim is to recruit a team of inspired and motivated writers who I plan to work closely with to produce critical, and potentially thought-provoking pieces. One of the things I love about film and TV is its ability to adapt to our social and political climates at a quick pace, thus I am excited for both myself and my team to analyse this in more depth. However, while my role means I will be throwing around ideas and articles I would like to be written, I’m eager to hear new ideas which will help to express your individual style and flare. As a writer our best skill is to always keep our integrity, and this means to give our honest opinions whilst being aware of personal bias. The Tribe’s diversity is one of the characteristics that drew me to it; therefore, I hope a spectrum of interests and opinions will produce a compelling, juxtaposing section of the magazine open to debate amongst its writers and readers alike. As a team leader I want to be involved and approachable; to foster strong relationships with my writers I plan to attend The Tribe’s meet and greet sessions, and possibly plan outings to our local cinema. As writers we open ourselves up to criticism and this isn’t always an easy step to take so I want to make this as fun and exciting as I can. Seeing my writing published throughout my time at St Andrews has been extremely rewarding and I am thrilled to now be a part of the editing process. I hope I can now help with your journeys into student journalism in the same ways previous members of The Tribe have encouraged me. Whether writing only one piece per year or a weekly veteran I look forward to working with you all in the future and producing great pieces of work.To join our group of Film and TV of writers, you can contact Christina at email@example.com.
Staff writer Claudia Hockey sits down with a co-producer on one of the year's most anticipated (and groundbreaking) films, Love, Simon. Love, Simon is a coming of age romantic comedy that focuses on a gay teenage boy’s attempts to navigate the tricky world of high school whilst in the closet. Produced by 20th Century Fox, it is the first big-budget mainstream film of its kind to feature an explicitly gay main character, and prioritises his budding relationship with mysterious pen-pal “Blue” as a central plot line. Following an advance screening of the film, which officially drops in the UK this Friday, the open emotion among audience members was tangible – a crowd which included as many old age pensioners as it did the intended teenage audience. In a conversation with Chris McEwan, co-producer of Love, Simon, we discuss his work, his thoughts on the film, and where he believes it fits into the wider scheme of the industry. What sort of responsibilities did you have as a co-producer on Love, Simon? Did you have much creative involvement in terms of the direction of the film, or were you more focused on the technical side of things? As a co-producer on the film, most of my work extended towards the film's pre-production and development process. To that end, our amazing writers and director -- Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, and Greg Berlanti, respectively -- were the real keepers of the creative process, we did script notes, cast lists, lists for department heads, and other creative work that logistically paves the way for the production of the film. Also, in keeping with my past work with New Leaf Literary & Media, a lot of my work in the process was oriented around first setting the book up for production with our studio Fox 2000, and our amazing co-producers, Temple Hill. What attracted you to this project personally, is it similar to anything you've worked on in the past? I always love a good coming-of-age story -- be it The Graduate, Ferris Bueller, Fast Times, Rushmore, or even recent movies like Diary of a Teenage Girl and The Spectacular Now. And what was so exciting about this project, as it became clear upon reading Becky Albertalli's beautiful novel, was that it felt exactly like the great teen movies that had been an integral part of my adolescence, but with this completely fresh twist of exploring sexuality and what it means to come out. It felt just as comforting as movies that I knew and loved, but emotionally fresh in this unexpected way, and that's just part of what made it so undeniable. Did you face any unique difficulties working to produce a major film with clear LGBTQ themes? Why is it possible now, where it may not have been a decade ago? Thankfully Fox immediately got what the movie was and was so supportive of doing it as a big, wide-release title. There's definitely a version of this movie that exists as a smaller indie, but thankfully, Fox has generally distinguished themselves (alongside Temple Hill) by taking risks on a number of teen titles over the last few years, from The Fault in Our Stars and onward. When it came to the LGBTQ themes, we never got any pushback from them, and they were really synched in with us politically. While watching the film, I was struck by the way in which it included traditional romantic comedy tropes, but from a fresh perspective. For example; the secret admirer figure in "Blue", a confession at a football game, underage drinking at a raging party, morning carpool runs with a group of friends. Was that an intentional choice on the part of the production team, perhaps for the benefit of gay viewers accustomed to reimagining these scenes from a straight context? Absolutely! We were very conscious through all levels of the making of the movie that the thing that would render it subversive and cool would be embracing those genre tropes from the movies we'd loved. If you're a gay viewer who's never been able to see yourself in this context, we wanted to change that by having the construction of the movie to play as universal at every turn, and those tropes were a huge help in that regard. Simon's personal coming out arc was central, but it was also interesting to see it paralleled with Nick, who has his own insecurities to work past, and Abby, who learns to navigate her own 'world changing' thanks to an absent father. Do you think that a film like this, which emphasises the similarities between gay and straight teens as much as it does the differences, could serve as a stepping stone for future major movies focusing on LGBTQ romance? Hopefully! I really hope so. The idea that we were hoping would register as key -- while primarily just hoping that it would make for a good story -- is that Simon's story is your normal teen coming-of-age narrative, which just happens to be from a queer perspective. And if that paves the way for more mainstream LGBTQ stories in major studio movies, then I think we'll have done our jobs! Love, Simon releases nationwide this Friday, April 6th. Watch the trailer here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0cbWdlQg_8