Ah, Shakespeare; the only thing on the planet that’s more quotable than Mean Girls. Like most people my age, I had to do Shakespeare in school. The plays I did were The Merchant of Venice, Romeo & Juliet and King Lear. The last one is important – because I revisited it again this year. It was sometime back in June that I saw a casting call for an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies. I’d always enjoyed the story when I did it in school, and as fate would have it, had skimmed through its TV Tropes page recently – so I was still familiar with the general idea. One of the parts being advertised was the Duke of Albany. He was my favourite character, so a part of me said “well why not?” and applied for the hell of it.
Going all the way back to March, I saw a casting call for something called Crawlers. They said they were looking for Americans and I happily volunteered with about three clips of me demonstrating said accent. I got an email back saying “actually, I think I want you for the barman instead”. Filming was timed with the very day I was due to fly out to New York – but either luckily or unluckily there were weather warnings so that meant filming was postponed. So I still had my part, and I got to tell everyone about my trip to Hooters.
I couldn’t rest on my laurels for Worth Fighting For even for a second, since I
had to immediately get home. I crammed some dinner into me at 11 (darn
shirtless scenes!), made sure I had everything packed for the morning and took
half a sleeping pill to ensure that I would not be like a zombie. The music video
was for an up-and-coming band called Stolen City – and I was to be one of three
thugs bullying a transgender girl. Call time was for 8 am, so it was the 6:15 bus
from Ashford to meet everyone in the city. The producer Shireen Langan met
me at Connolly, along with Dave McCabe the lead guitarist and Jamie
O’Herlihy – who would be the protagonist of the video. While in the car,
Shireen showed us a clip of the band’s previous music video for “Miles”, to show an
example of the director’s work. Within ten seconds, I got very excited.
Are you sitting comfortably? I’m here to tell you a story. It’s about a young writer, actor and a bunch of other things that aren’t really relevant. Situated in Wicklow, he made the odd decision to go to film school in Carlow of all places. Seemed like a good idea at the time – until college ended and he moved back to Wicklow. There he found that when he got ideas for film scripts, he had trouble rustling a crew together – as most of his contacts lived in the Carlow/Kildare region. After well over a year of failed projects that never got off the ground, he was well and truly in a rut. Then one day he saw three words online that would change his life:
I said we were going to do Dark City next but I guess I didn’t deliver what I advertised. But that’s oddly related to the film I am delivering. Raise your hands if you’ve ever gone to see something based off the trailer. I’m guilty of it myself; often dismissing a film because its trailer didn’t look good. But really, time has proved that trailers are quite frankly bullshit. The trailer only contains clips of the film, edited in a way to make it appealing. But editing is a powerful thing. There’s a whole subculture of YouTubers who edit trailers to make the movie look like a completely different genre; take The Shining as a family dramedy, Mrs Doubtfire as a horror movie, and Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince as a teen comedy. Real trailers pull this trick too. The most notorious examples:
*Bicentennial Man – a melancholy and sombre story about a robot questioning what it means to be human, marketed as another quirky Robin Williams comedy.
*Pan’s Labyrinth – a very dark and gothic fantasy film featuring lots of blood and scary imagery, marketed as a family-friendly fairy tale.
*Bridge To Terabithia – a preteen coming of age story where two children use their imaginations to create a fantasy world, marketed as a Narnia-type adventure where the fantasy stuff is real.
There’s a lot of reasons for this. The most glaring one is that the people who make the trailers are not the actual filmmakers – but rather the marketing department. Two films released last year – Trolls and the reboot of Ghostbusters – had the makers criticising the trailers for how badly they represented what they were supposed to be promoting. Essentially it comes from the marketing department trying to reach the widest demographic possible. As this film stars Vanessa Hudgens coming off the heels of her breakout role, they advertised it as this:
Anyone who has ever had to hear me go on about this movie will probably roll their eyes when they see that I’ve finally done a review of it. This is actually a pretty recent addition to the list. We’re talking it getting added while I was on the hiatus over the summer. I can’t remember what I bumped in favour of it, so I guess it wasn’t anything special. To me, a great film always used to have to be big. It had to be epic. It had to be everywhere. It had to wow you with anything big – whether it be an explosive blockbuster like The Avengers or a dramatic tragedy like Atonement. When I saw this, I learned a new definition of great. Greatness can sneak up on you and floor you without even realising it. Greatness can stay with you for days after you’ve initially experienced it. Greatness can hit you without having to do a single big thing.
Believe me, no one’s more surprised than I am that I’m saying such things towards a movie that’s about a god damn cleaning service.
So confusingly enough, I did not put this movie at the number 50 position – although it would have made for a nice pun. You’ll notice that I opened with a joke, since we’ve got a very serious topic to talk about with regards to this movie. The Big C, the disease that shall not be named, the subject that’s incredibly uncomfortable to talk about. I’m not going to explain what cancer is, because we don’t need to. It’s that convenient of a dramatic device that TV and film have told us everything we need to know about the disease – and we recently got an Emmy winning five season show about a sufferer. It can be seriously overused as a cheap attempt to pull at the audience’s heartstrings – especially using a child with the disease. So to me, the best stories revolving around cancer are the ones that have some grain of truth to them. The Fault In Our Stars was primarily based on a girl that the author knew. So John Green knew what he was talking about. This movie likewise was written by a man who had the disease and lived to tell the tale – so he dramatized parts of his own life to form the screenplay. And since his best friend is Seth Rogen, there was little trouble in bringing it to the silver screen. The result is the fantastic 50/50.