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Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: Life as a Video Game
There isn’t a clear point of reference to pin down where Scott Pilgrim’s style, worldview or logic originated. It’s a pop culture melting pot where manga, rock n’ roll and video games are mashed up together to form something completely original with its own unique visual language. So much about Scott Pilgrim is unworldly and fantastical that by the time an emo boy smashes through the wall to duel Scott (Cera), it comes off as perfectly normal; if not inevitable.
The film is based on the comic book sensation of the same name where– almost like the classic Super Mario Bros game– Scott Pilgrim has to fight a league of evil exes to get to Ramona (Winstead), the girl of his dreams. And just like in the video game, Scott wins bonus points and collects scattered coins after he completes each level.
Set in the city of Toronto, Scott Pilgrim’s world consists mostly of hanging out at trendy venues, record-shopping, ranting with his friends over coffee and practicing with his garage band, Sex Bob-omb. His life is plagued with callousness and drenched in irony, and even his likeminded peers give him a hard time about his frivolousness. When he first meets Ramona, his infatuation finally gives him the drive to go out and aspire to something.
As Scott engages with Ramona’s exes in one eye-popping fight scene after another; his state of arrested development gets challenged. Here, the film uncovers the insecurity of a generation that is so hung up on being cool; it stifles their emotional development.
Director Edgar Wright (Sean of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) stretches the full power of his imagination here. His cinematic and pop culture wealth serves him best when he transforms the panels onto the screen, pushing the sequences through a video-game filter and then rendering them in flawless, cotton-candy veneer. The inventive pacing blurs the timeline; so the film can follow emotional threads uninterrupted without feeling tricky or conceited.
Despite the film’s visual inventiveness and joyful demeanour; there is a fundamental flaw undermining Scott Pilgrim: the vacant emotional core propelling the central romance. In the nonstop calibration of everything hip and witty, the film can never bring itself to deliver a single moment of genuine sorrow without shrugging it off instantly. When Scott breaks down in front of his roommate in a desperate plea for human compassion, his friend gives him a pep talk right out of a soap opera, which is further emphasized by a sappy score; playing the drama for laughs instead of digging for any hidden truth.
Scott Pilgrim works for the most part, and even though it consciously chooses to shun humility and heart in favour of retaining its edge; its visual and narrative invention are undeniably groundbreaking. From start to finish, the film blasts feverishly with an infectious sense of fun. It’s an invigorating ride in a world where videogame logic prevails, and love is just a push button away.
Australian-born filmmaker, James Wan – of Saw and Insidious fame – is back, painting his latest horror-project with a truly unnerving atmosphere. Carried with an air of simplicity and austerity, this latest supernatural, haunted-house tale struts on relatively familiar ground, but still has the desired effect.
Set in the early 70’s and supposedly based on actual events, The Conjuring’s focus lies with two paranormal investigators, Ed Warren (Wilson) and wife Lorraine (Farmiga). The spiritual couple have devoted their lives to investigating a variety of supernatural incidents. Regularly holding seminars across the country, Ed and Lorraine are keen to offer insight and knowledge into the paranormal world.
The duo is soon called upon for help by the Perron family as things go from bad to worse in their old, countryside farmhouse in Rhode Island. Ever since moving in, the family of seven – mother Carolyn (Taylor), father Roger (Livingstone) and their five daughters – have experienced spooky, inexplicable happenings around the house. Believing in logical explanations, the family’s scepticism is soon silenced when they discover that whatever has latched onto their new home is evil beyond their imagination and unwilling to let go.
Paced beautifully, The Conjuring’s strongpoint lies with its electrifying and chilling atmosphere which is heavily influenced by the horror films of the 70’s; Wan keeps everything from the movie’s colouring to the costume design exceptionally authentic.
Contributing to the film’s realism is the superb cast; Taylor, one of the most underrated actresses of today, comes out as the shining star of the film. Her commitment to the role is undeniable and she manages to dish-up a number of incredibly unsettling scenes. Farmiga is equally as captivating, as is Wilson; the duo skilfully captures the essence of a supernatural-seeking couple. Unfortunately for Livingston – better known as ‘Burger’ from Sex and the City – feels like the oddball of the group. All five children play on the innocence of their characters nicely, which was of course beneficial to the spook-factor.
While it may not be the horror-masterpiece that the hype suggested, The Conjuring still manages to ignite and carry perfect pacing and atmosphere. Extremely moody and awfully chilling, The Conjuring unleashes old-fashioned scares with effortless style; a quality lacking in the majority of horror films released over 2013.
First, it’s important to establish that we cannot place the blame in its entirety on Ramez Galal for his sadistic show. A big part of the blame should fall on us, the viewers, who eagerly wait for pranks and spike the show’s ratings, even reaching the point where café owners will blast these shows on large TVs to attract customers. It’s time to admit that there’s a sadist in all of us.
The premise of the show is a guest will come in to film an episode about the World Cup on a zodiac boat out at sea. The boat malfunctions, one of the presenters dives in to see what’s wrong, and the events quickly escalate to the boat sinking with the guest and a fake shark attack.
In the episode with Rania Mahmoud Yassin and Mohamed Riad, it’s interesting to point out that the boat didn’t sink entirely, and Rania kept a firm clutch on her sunglasses in a situation where any normal person would’ve let go of his/her belongings in exchange for safety. We ignored these points at first, but after several mentions on TV and by other viewers, we couldn’t help but wonder.
The show comes with a lot of legal issues this year, of which, a case that Athar El Hakim filed against Galal, banning her episode from airing, under the pretence that the prank extremely frightened her. The truth behind that is in question, after a video of her discussing her pay for the episode was leaked. Other legal issues concerning the show include damage to marine life from planting metal poles to support the hidden cameras.
Because nothing is black and white, it’s important to admit Galal’s sense of humour and experience, especially when it’s imitated by an artist like Mohamed Fouad in his show “Fo’sh Fil Mo’askar”, a stale and completely void of humour prank show.
We have to admit, we were impressed by the shark boat Galal uses to rescue the guests. He is a smart actor who was able to establish himself within Ramadan TV and create shows that people wait for year to year.