Tagged Screen

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Students respond to the 50 Shades of Grey trailer

The 50 Shades of Grey trailer made waves online upon release, amassing more than a 100 million views in its first week.

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Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson star in the film adaptation of the best-selling novels by E.L. James about a powerful CEO and a college student’s BDSM relationship. The OxStu asked for student’s responses to the trailer. Here’s what we found out:

Kenny Dada

50 Shades of Grey is finally here! Well, the trailer is (the film itself isn’t out until Valentine’s Day 2015. Soz, Mr Grey devotees). As expected, the trailer teased the, er, interesting aspects that made the trilogy so infamous with elevator kisses, bedroom and shirtless shots, lingering stares between the leads, and some under-the-table action. Saucy stuff. Not expected was my mother announcing that she now wants to read the novels after watching the trailer. Disturbing.

Nassia Williamson

As a repenting reader of fan fiction, seeing Master of the Universe (hoho, Fifty’s AU precursor) come real is a staggering fact. Its progress from Twific canon to viral mummy porn to, finally, the big screen stirs a mixture of disbelief and – like a train wreck – outright horror. I really can’t wait.

Ashley Fisher

The golden rule is this: the higher the rating, the lower the box office income. So the producers may push for an R-rating. If so, the film won’t contain any of the content that everyone wants. Yet they ought to take the risk of an NC-17 rating, as the film is fairly low budget ($40m) and the fan-base is large and well established.

Sam Joyce

The focus on romance over sex and the studio rom-com cinematography suggest Universal are aiming for a broader audience than I imagined. However, the combination of the hot guy from Marie Antoinette, Beyonce covering her own song and gloriously knowing dialogue such as “I exercise control in all things”/“that sounds incredibly boring,” have me praying for a camp fiasco on a scale not seen since Lindsay Lohan’s Lifetime biopic of Elizabeth Taylor. I’m sold.

Tom Bannatyne

I’ve always viewed 50 Shades of Grey in the same way as I would a dead animal – with a morbid fascination. The trailer only adds to this. From its slowed down Beyonce track to its silly dialogue to its Valentine’s Day release date, it is cringe-inducing in the extreme, but it still has an undeniable appeal. It’s not clever, or sexy, or particularly dramatic, but there is enough teasing to make it not entirely rubbish.

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Laura Hartley

Having read the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy I have to say that I was rather disappointed by the film trailer. I can’t really pinpoint what it is exactly but all I’m feeling is a whole load of ‘but … no’ when watching it. There’s no way it can be as sexy as the books because that would basically be porn, so surely it can only disappoint? That soundtrack though…

Harriet Fry

My initial reaction was to enjoy Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy in Love’, but also to realise that the plot is not as ground-breaking as it is made out to be. From the trailer, the characters seem like stereotypes: we have the demure, ostensibly uninteresting woman and the would-be dashing man who sweeps her off her feet. I wonder what kind of message this sends out about relationships today- should they really be characterised by such a power imbalance?

James Aldred

Almost as influential as the release of the book itself, the trailer has already nearly doubled one online retailer’s sales of sex toys. But in amongst the excitement, few have been willing to ask perhaps the most important question: doesn’t it just look a bit shit? The production looks predictably slick but dull, and shows a bumbling, cardigan-wearing woman who can only truly be liberated by a masculine cliché. What year is it again?

Megan Mary Thomas

The book was heralded as being outrageous and even revolutionary, but the trailer trots out the worn cliché; ‘there’s really not much to know about me’ girl meets ‘intense, smart, intimidating’ guy who ‘enlightens’ her. A really helpful tool for teaching our generation about the efficiency of intimidation as a means to consent. Does this film liberate women to talk about sex or does it glamourize oppression? Emmeline Pankhurst would be proud of how far we’ve come.

Freya Judd

Is this a sexually liberating franchise, reigniting women’s interests in the kinkier sides of sex, or does it depict an unhealthy example of BDSM? Unfortunately, an equally heated debate is the argument over whether Jamie Dornan has enough chisel in his cheekbones and charisma in his stares to portray Christian Grey. I say I’ll be watching 50 Shades ironically, but I can’t pretend I’m not hoping that Dornan will magically be standing behind me in the popcorn queue.

 

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Why Alex Darby’s latest project is proof that student film cannot be ignored

‘Festivals like to see a project rather than a product’, explains Owen Donovan, distribution manager for Waterbird | Catkins, as he steps off camera after filming a quick rave scene, and sits down with me at a table in The Cellar. Owen never expected to be in the final film, he had originally been overseeing the marketing and distribution of the two films, yet had been roped in to fill out the numbers for that particular shot.

I’d been invited down to the usually sweaty and packed club venue at 3 in the afternoon to watch some of the filming for two new student film projects, (the first, Catkins, and the second, Waterbird) both of them written and directed by Alexander Darby. If you are unfamiliar with Alex’s projects, go onto his Vimeo (available at vimeo.com/alexanderdarby) where you can see some of his fantastic work including a preview for The Wishing Horse, a film showing at a number of film festivals at the moment.

Darby decided to shoot both films together to, in effect, allow the project to work in two parts that complimented and augmented one another. Both have remarkably different story lines and themes – Catkins was largely set in an expansive, luscious countryside setting, whereas Waterbird, a film concentrating on the tensions of early adulthood, often has a lot more claustrophobic settings – as seen at The Cellar and later, when the team planned to do a night shoot in the Westgate Car Park. The two contrasting themes in the single project should provide an impressive result for viewers.

What was most striking about the project was how meticulously planned and flawlessly organised it was – even the rave scene, as Owen explains, was carefully orchestrated with specific entrances and exits done at regulated intervals. The day before, I was told, the crew had been out on the river with a boat specifically designed to hold the bulky camera; no expense was spared when it came to the visual quality of the eventual product.

Watching the few takes that I saw, it became clear that a strong working dynamic had emerged between the cast and crew – whenever a take didn’t feel right in Alex’s eyes or a boom mic may have poked into the shot, it was simply re-done without hesitation from anyone. It was this professionalism that clearly created the highest quality in student production.

Having come from a predominantly theatre-based dimension, watching this felt like a surreal experience to me, and it was clear that having a strong creative drive from Alex himself was keeping everyone focussed and patient.

I was lucky enough to be shown some of the footage from the day before (a relatively simple test shot of a jogger in the rain) and the results were incredible when slowed down – droplets of rain were almost visible across what may otherwise have been a dreary riverbank. It was small samples like that that ultimately make the end product all the more exciting.

Though the shoot is now finished, the work for Alex is far from over. Now he has to move to the editing stage (this would last through August apparently) and then the distribution and promotion of the project could begin, as had happened with Alex’s previous films including The Wishing Horse. Even with Catkins and Waterbird fully shot, there is no rest for the director and the rest of his crew, with Alex having recently been involved with the making of the trailer for The Pillowman (on at the Oxford Playhouse next term) and the directing of the video for the comedy song written by David Meredith and Will Hislop of the Oxford Revue (available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnSKzd8K8ug).

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The Freshers’ guide to university life on screen

The results are in and teenagers all over the country now know whether or not they have secured a place here at this prestigious institution where they hope to continue their quests for knowledge and meaning that will more than likely turn into endless nights in Camera, Parkend, Bridge and Wahoo. Freshers’ minds are no doubt filled with questions, such as the ever troubling – Will I make friends? But more importantly – What’s the nightlife like?

If you’re a soon-to-be fresher, here is a guide to some films and television programmes from the last 5 years that will ‘accurately’ prepare you for what’s in store.

Fresh Meat

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Fresh Meat represents some of the very best of British comedy and I haven’t met a single person from our generation who hasn’t found it hilarious. If Fresh Meat characters were colleges, Kingsley would be Mansfield (friendly, fairly liberal, kinda left wing), Oregon would be St Johns (loaded, but conceals it’s wealth behind those walls), Josie would be Jesus (she is Welsh after all), Sabine would be Merton (it’s ‘where fun goes to die’), JP would be Christ Church (red trousers.), Howard would be Corpus Christi (small, unnoticed, situated in Christ Church’s shadow), Vod would be Wadham (don’t think this one needs explaining).

“First year is beer year. Third year is fear year. But second year is spear year.”

(Good news – it’s on Netflix)

21 and Over

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This is the film for any impending fresher who had really strict parents growing up. The new-found freedom at uni will no doubt be far too much for them to handle and they’ll go completely cray-cray. It’s set in America so, of course, the legal drinking age is 21, but pretend this film stars a bunch of 18 year olds and it’s spot on.

“Yeah, she’s cute, but she’s not my type.”

“What is your type?”

“Girls who want to have sex with me”

(Also on Netflix)

Monsters University

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Being a ‘Mike’ (Grade A nerd) and ending up with a ‘Sully’ (lads lads lads!) as your roommate is probably every fresher’s worst nightmare but you’ll grow to love your corridor/staircase/flat (probably). This story teaches you that nothing should get in the way of you and your bros and that despite your differences you can make friends with anyone! (Cheesy, I know – it’s Disney). Unfortunately nothing quite as exciting as the Scare Games happens at university, but we have University Challenge and that’s basically the same thing, right?

“Imagine a university…”

“Where I can be unique in a sea of thousands”

“Where I can learn to learn”

“and learn what I love”

– Said no one ever

The Social Network

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You can only hope that you’ll be creating something quite as amazing as Facebook during your time at university. Prospective E&Mers who think this is going to be the story of your university years, I’m sorry to break this to you, but that probably isn’t going to happen. When you leave university you’re likely to be broke, an alcoholic, and to top it all off you’re going to have to look for a ‘real’ job in the ‘real’ world.

“I need to do something substantial in order to attract the attention of the clubs.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re exclusive. And fun. And they lead to a better life.”

Inbetweeners 2

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Finally, for those of you off on your gap yahs before heading to university, here’s what you’ve got to look forward to! You’ll probably have plans to travel far, far away from dreary old England, maybe even as far as Australia like Jay, but hopefully you’ll have something more meaningful planned than hunting for ‘klunge’.

“Everyone knows the backpacking girls are the loosest. That’s why it’s called a gap year”


 

These are just a few of my top picks for films and series to watch before heading off to uni. Of course there are tonnes of other student-based series worth noting: Legally Blond, American Pie, Starter for 10, Animal House, Greek and more!

 

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What are the best films about being in a band?

Most of us have dreamed about it at some point. Whether it’s for the adoring fans, constant parties or love of music itself, we all had a point in our lives where we wanted to be in a band. Our fascination with the ins and outs of rock stardom is the reason why so many band members end up becoming pseudo-celebrities. It is also why so many films are made about being in a band.

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This week saw the release of the trailer for Stuart Murdoch’s upcoming film ‘God Help The Girl’. The film is part of a long time project carried out by the lead singer of Belle and Sebastian which saw the release of a 2009 album of the same name. It centres around three teens who decide they want to form a pop band and got us thinking, what are the best cinematic attempts at portraying the holy grail of musical stardom that so many aspire to? Whilst This Is Spinal Tap might be an obvious choice, we came up with a few alternatives.

1. Control

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Anton Corbijn’s black and white masterpiece could almost masquerade as a documentary about Ian Curtis and the formation of Joy Division. Sam Riley’s masterful performance as Curtis, made possible by his somewhat eerie resemblance, allows the watcher to feel the desperate feeling of watching everything come together while you are simultaneously falling apart. Despite the bleak subject matter, Control still manages to capture the playful freedom that comes from forming a band as well as depicting the late 70’s Mancunian music scene in an understated manner. It’s this contrast of light and dark: the light humour of being in a band with the dark undertones of looking back at their history, that makes Control such a special piece of film. It sums up something Kevin Cummins said about when he photographed Joy Division. The band kept making Ian Curtis laugh and Cummins was annoyed because he didn’t have long to get the shots he needed. “Looking back, I wish I had taken more of him smiling.” Control provides the smiles even though when it ends, you’ll be in tears.

2. Nowhere Boy

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Jumping a decade or two back, Nowhere Boy follows the life of a young John Lennon, focusing on his relationship with his mother and his guardian aunt. In a similar way to Control, Nowhere Boy also shows the formation of what is to become The Beatles, taking in Lennon’s meeting of McCartney. However, unlike Control, Nowhere Boy leaves the story incomplete as the narrative ends with The Quarrymen recording together for the first time, leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps about the resulting history. Whilst this film may have become known as being the meeting place between cinematic power couple Sam Taylor (director) and Aaron Johnson (star), Johnson’s magnificent quiff should also be acknowledged as something truly worthy of awards.

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Beyond all that, Nowhere Boy shows a teenager falling in love with playing the guitar, a story that has been repeated in life many times over the years. Although not always with the same success. We couldn’t all have grown up to be John Lennon.

3. Scott Pilgrim

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Adapted from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series of graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is primarily focused on Scott’s attempt to defeat love interest Ramona’s seven evil exes. However, much of this takes place in the context of Scott’s band ‘Sex Bob-omb’ entering a battle of the bands competition. The living room rehearsals with tired looking instruments sum up perfectly the reality of anyone who has ever tried to start a band.  At the same time, the energy of their performances even when they are fighting evil exes at shows, is infectious. Michael Cera’s impressive performance at Scott demonstrates how a shy and awkward boy can take on a different persona on stage. Even though everyone in the band seems to hate each other and hate that they’re in a band and hate that they’re playing shows, it somehow still makes you want to get up and form a band straight away.

4. Freaky Friday

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This film isn’t short of different adaptations and versions, not least because it started off as a book by Mary Rodgers. However, in this case we are talking about the 2003 classic featuring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. As with all films made in the early noughties, this feels impossibly dated only eleven years after it was first released, mainly due to Lindsay Lohan’s outfit choices. Also centred around a battle of the bands competition, Freaky Friday shows how a mother can come to appreciate her daughter’s choice of hobby’s after they switch bodies. As who appears to be Anna Coleman (Lindsay Lohan) stands on stage, unable to play guitar because she is in fact her mother, her mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) saves the day by secretly playing the guitar solo back stage. Full of hilariously silly moments and things that will make you cringe when you realise what you were like as a teenager, Freaky Friday is the epitome of the difficulties you can face being in a band when you are 16. And also when you swap bodies with your mother.

What are your favourite films about being in a band? Are you excited to see God Help The Girl? Let us know in the comment section!

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Buzzers, bonuses and backstage Paxo

Having been running now for 52 years, spanning 43 series and upwards of 1000 teams, it seems fair to say that University Challenge is almost as much of a national institution as the Tower of London. However, while we addicts of the series can end up spending a total of almost 14 hours watching it each year- what goes on behind the scenes remains, aside from a recent documentary detailing the selection process, somewhat mysterious. As the latest cohort of hopefuls begin to trickle onto our screens in pursuit of the much-coveted title, the OxStu has tracked down University Challenge competitors past and present to give you the lowdown on the backstage drama.

The first question likely to arise in relation to the show is inevitably to do with the infamous quizmaster himself, Jeremy Paxman. Having taken over from the original host Bamber Gascoigne at the show’s re-launch with the BBC in 1994, to become the UK’s longest serving quizmaster, he is famed for his snappy and often cutting responses to some answers given, making it somewhat surprising that he acknowledges never having been “good enough to get onto it”. The suggestion this entails that much of his onscreen behaviour is simply a factor that contributes to the entertainment value of the programme is supported by the experience of a current member of the St Peter’s college team, who went so far as to describe his relaxed, off-screen demeanour as “a bit underwhelming”. While contact between him and the contestants backstage is minimal, it is tempting to feel that a true fan of the programme couldn’t help but be somewhat disappointed by anything other than an outright dismissal from the man described by The Guardian’s Johnny Dee as “famous for intimidating inquisitions, pricking pomposity [and] withering world-weariness”.

Paxman isn’t the only celebrity Somerville’s team have won over

Yet this sentiment was not shared with all of our interviewees. Sam Walker, a member of the Somerville team who were runners up to Trinity College Cambridge in last year’s final, found that despite being slightly “warmer”, Jeremy Paxman off camera was “very similar to Jeremy Paxman on camera!”  This could, however, be more a reflection of the more relaxed side to Paxman witnessed by audiences in last year’s quarter-final. When captain Michael Davies breezed through questions on Economics, Paxman joked: “Some people find these questions quite difficult to answer, you know.” Paxman isn’t the only celebrity Somerville’s team, and specifically its captain, have won over: Stephen Fry, himself a former contestant on the programme, tweeted after the quarter-final: “Somerville’s captain Davies is delightful.”

This surprisingly mellow attitude is apparently matched by the interaction between competing teams. Where both The Young Ones, and later, St Trinian’s, have depicted the potential for rivalry in similar competitions to provoke dramatic courses of action both during the competition and beforehand, current contestants maintain that the interaction necessitated by the lengthy waits before and after filming rendered other teams “pretty friendly and happy to talk”. Indeed, the producers’ decision to host all the teams in the same hotel suggests a level of faith in the competitors’ behaviour towards one another. Sam compares the difference between this and the tension onscreen to a boxing match, where “the two guys who’ve been throwing punches at each other stop to talk, hug and shake hands”.

Nobody looks particularly intimidating

However, the lack of fireworks sparked by meetings with other competitors doesn’t mean they didn’t, at times, amuse. A fair few “bizarre pre show talks” were witnessed to have taken place- the content of which remains mysterious, yet watching some of the more unusual tactics employed by others may serve to instil a greater feeling of normality for teams with less elaborate plans, especially if, as one correspondent confessed “nobody looks particularly intimidating” in the competition.

A degree of attention has been paid to Manchester University’s preparation tactics, having won 4 times since 2006, they are often considered to be one of the shows greatest success stories. While many may be tempted to put this down to the institution’s status as the UK’s largest single-site university, thus allowing them a greater pool of potential competitors, it may rather be that their librarian, a former contestant, puts the team through a rigorous training process including buzzers and past questions.

Even the best preparation can’t cover all eventualities

Yet emulating the conditions of the competition requires a great deal of hard work and resources not available to all teams- in the case of this year’s St.Peter’s team, losing the occasional pub quiz had to suffice. However, the experience of Somerville last year, when one contestant became ineligible during the competition and had to be replaced, suggests that even the best preparation can’t cover all eventualities, something suggested by the various controversies that have surfaced relating to the show. Most notably, certain bodies feel uncomfortable with the fact that both Oxford and Cambridge colleges are permitted to enter separately, thus representing a far small number of students than other universities.

Fancy testing your dedication to the programme? Check out how Uni-C savvy you are with our quiz.

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Phoenix Picturehouse does outdoor cinema in LMH

 

On the 18th, 19th and 20th of July, Phoenix Picturehouse provided residents of Oxford with a weekend of fantastic film in a beautiful setting, by screening Labyrinth, Grease and Casablanca in the grounds of Lady Margaret Hall.

One attendee told The Oxford Student, “Watching Casablanca while lying on the grass outside was definitely an amazing start to my summer!” Phoenix Picturehouse plans to bring viewers another weekend of great movies, so head to LMH on the 8th, 9th or 10th of August to join in the experience.

8th August – The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

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Wes Anderson’s latest, and most successful film is a perfect choice for an outdoor screening. Let its breathtaking visuals complement your beautiful surroundings, and enjoy an evening you are unlikely to forget. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a thrilling and insightful comedy-drama, featuring a stellar performance by Ralph Fiennes and an unrecognisable Tilda Swinton – read our full review here.

9th August – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

 

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While The Breakfast Club is John Hughes’s most famous film, many would argue that Ferris Bueller is just as good, if not better. Join a young Matthew Broderick on a day where nothing goes wrong. This is a teen film for the ages, and it deals with the mischief, camaraderie and angst of teenage life with expert flair. What better way to take advantage of a day off than watch Hughes’s vision of a great day off?

10th August – Singin’ in the Rain

 

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Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds star in perhaps one of the best musicals ever made. The advent of the talkies causes problems for the stars of a silent film production company, but these problems can be easily overcome with a little love, a little friendship and a lot of brilliant music. O’Connor’s Cosmo Brown and Jean Hagen’s Lina Lamont prove to be the underrated stars of this classic.

PHOTO/Richard Budd


Doors open from 7.00. Relax, have a drink and enjoy the views before the start of the film around 9.15. 

Standard ticket prices apply: £9.50 full price, £8.50 concessions, £7.50 adult Members, £6.50 concessionary Members and children

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