High and Low Podcast #3: Danny Boyle



This week on High and Low, we cover the filmography of one of the UK’s greatest and most exciting directors, Danny Boyle.

Thoughts or opinions about the podcast? Want to share your favorite/ least favorite Danny Boyle films with us? Perhaps recommend a director for the next podcast? Feel free to comment, follow us on twitter at Simply_Film, or emails us at simplyfilmreviews@gmail.com!

High and Low Podcast: Christopher Nolan

Hello all, welcome to our new biweekly podcast focusing on our discussion of a new director every episode. We go over their highs and lows, dissecting their filmography all for you lovely people to listen too. This week we go over one of my favorite directors, Christopher Nolan.

Afterschool: Never Forget


In all of our lives, we must constantly deal with the omnipresent question of what is real and what is fake. Never has this clash of realities been more relevant than with the dawning of the internet. It’s a tool that presents us with unlimited power and knowledge, but also in that comes the herculean task of deciphering it all. In the hands of a young person, this can be both crushing and mind altering at times.

Antonio Campos in his 2008 film, Afterschool, presents us with this struggle in the form of his protagonist Robert, a young boy sent off by his family to a wealthy New England boarding school. During his time there he preoccupies himself with what he calls “little clips of things that seem real”. In his mundane life, he sees these videos of violence and sex as a portal through which he can glimpse something authentic. In many ways, they alter his young mind’s understanding of what is real in the first place.

While filming some stock footage in one of his school’s hallways for his video class he discovers something far realer than he could have ever expected when he discovers the two most popular girls in school as they suffer a horrible reaction to rat poison laced cocaine and die right in front of his eyes, one bleeding out in his very arms.

This tragedy obviously causes quite a few ripples throughout the school. As much as everyone is torn up about their deaths, what truly seems to bother everyone is how lost they are in actually understanding and dealing with these girl’s untimely demise. Most of all the reaction of the school and, in particular, its principle, Mr. Burke, deftly played by Michael Stuhlbarg, seems most perplexing and cold.

Mr. Burke recognizing Robert’s position in the school’s video class gives him the responsibility of making the memorial video for the girls, in the hopes that it would help him deal with their graphic deaths. Along with this the school pushes everyone to go see the school counselor and talk about how they feel, then in most cases get handed a prescription for whatever pill will handle the symptoms of their internal traumas without actually addressing it. Robert as the one to first find the girls is sent to speak to Mr. Virgil. He is obviously quite out of sorts with the whole ordeal. He talks about the videos and the violent porn he watches and how he finds a reality in them that’s fascinating. An authenticity that’s missing from his own life where, as Mr. Virgil tells him, the school had been told about the dead girl’s drug problem and did nothing to help them, in the interest of keeping their rich parent’s money and support going.

Once Robert finished putting the video together for the memorial, he shows it to Mr. Burke who asks, “Was that serious Robert? That was the worst thing I’ve ever seen”. The video wasn’t quite what the school had hoped for. With no music, shaky camera work, and the raw sense of reality that Robert has been searching for through countless Youtube searches. It didn’t try to provide the false sugar coated narrative the school hoped everyone would guzzle down. Instead of idolizing these girls with cheap condolences and ignoring the elephant in the room that they are responsible for allowing things to escalate so far into tragedy, Robert’s video portrayed the reality of that elephant and all its unsightly blemishes. The school and those around him wouldn’t stand for this, though. They aren’t interested in the truth they’re just interested in the most convenient reality where they print “Never Forget” all over the memorial stage and paint it as just another forgettable tragedy. Nothing to learn here, just move on, take another pill. Robert does and so does everyone else, just like Mr. Burke and Virgil reminds Robert, “It’s everyone’s fault” “It’s no one’s fault”, forget.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

2 Guns: Rampant Cinemania Episode 14



This Week: Albert Cantu, Andrew King, Gabriel Vogel, Joe Holley

Show Notes:

Fruitvale Station: 0:47 – 4:24

Kagemusha: 4:27 – 7:36

The Gateway Meat: 7:36 – 11:58

Shut Up Little Man: 11:58 – 16:09

Frankenstein’s Army: 16:09 – 19:39

2 Gunz Review: 20:14 – 43:03

Rate and review us on iTunes!

Audible link: http://www.audibletrial.com/simplyfilm

The Bling Ring Review


From People Magazine to E! News we as a culture are constantly inundated with the lives of our celebrities. It’s almost frightening to what degree we essentially worship them. We want to know the names of their babies the minute they’re born, and we lust after everything these stars and starlets have ever touched, be it cloths, cars, or beverages. They’re lives seem so perfect and glamorous with their fast cars, designer clothes, and absurdly insane parties. I suppose in a world where Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga have more twitter followers than President Obama it’s not surprising to read about a group of kids so desperate to live that lifestyle that they’d invade the houses of the very celebrities they fetishize.

The Bling Ring in many ways works as a glimpse into the minds of these celebrity obsessed youths. They’ve been raised on TMZ and Perez Hilton, and they want nothing more than to be another part of the stories they obsess over. Sophia Coppola is essentially showing us the logical extreme of this troubling fascination. Now, most times a filmmaker tries to do something like this it can seem shallow or condescending, but here it gains a real power as you realize everything in this film actually occurred. These people exist and they represent something really quite endemic in our culture.

In all honestly the greatest achievement here is the deft way in which Coppola handles her characters. She was able to both satirize them and their really quite frightening disregard of common moral guidelines and delve deeply into her subjects. Bling Ring laughs at these people but never thinks of them as jokes. There’s a real effort made here to make them more than just caricatures of gossip obsessed teens. A good point of comparison would be Harmony Korin’s film from earlier this year, Spring Breakers. While that film aimed for a very cold and disaffected atmosphere with its quite two dimensional characters, The Bling Ring went for something quite different and actually flesh out it’s characters.

It seems a bit redundant at this point to talk about how freaking gorgeous a Sophia Coppola film is, but here I am doing it anyways. I mean, it’s really sublime. The work the cinematographer, Harris Savides, and Coppola put into this film really shows. Through their brilliant direction they were able to capture the shallow horror of the celebrity obsessed lifestyle these characters live in, and create something quite amazing to behold.

In many ways these elements all meld into something of a horror story. It shows the terror of celebrity’s magnetizing allure. The stars that we see on the silver screen or hear in our headphones are the beautiful and rich people through which we compare ourselves. They seem so perfect, having so much fun without a care in the world. Why aren’t we like that? We’re stuck here in our normal lives while they’re living life at it’s most glamorous: the designer clothes, the parties in Vegas, and the famous friends. This dream can act as something like a siren’s call on us, whispering in our ear and driving us to do some really quite stupid and immoral things. It’s a fascinating thing to behold and luckily Coppola was there to show it to us in all it’s train wreak like glory.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Rampant Cinemania: Man of Steel


This Week: Gabriel Vogel, Joe Holley, Albert Cantu, and Andrew King


Show Notes:

Before Trilogy: 0:50 – 2:48

Various Cartoons (Albert Gets Married): 2:52 – 4:08

Upstream Color: 4:21 – 6:05

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men: 6:06 – 8:14

This is the End: 8:15 – 10:00

Andrew’s a great host #sarcasm: 10:00 – 10:20

Man of Steel: 10:20 – 37:39

Rampant Cinemania: The Purge


This Week: Albert Cantu, Joe Holley, Gabriel Vogel, Andrew King

Show Notes:

What We’ve Been Watching:

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 1:01 – 2:55

Carrie: 2:55 – 4:47

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: 4:50 – 4:58

The Pianist: 5:50 – 8:25

Downfall: 8:25 – 11:30

Behind the Candelabra: 11:30 – 15:15

American Psycho: 15:18 – 18:53

Now You See Me: 18:56 – 23:16

Gabe Complains About Movies: 23:20 – 25:00

The Purge Review: 25:00 – 52: 36