Tag Archives: BAFTA

A report from the messenger

I am happy to say, I am happy to report that I am not an expert, nothing of the sort, an expert I am in fields that are different, but in this I am not. I have watched a thousand or more movies, all shapes, all sizes and in many playhouses, in some that were called fleapits, then there were some nickelodeons, there were movie houses, playhouses and there were a Cineplex or two, often holding on the cinefex when going. Yes, I visited cinema’s from large to small, from Lantaren to Venster, from the original Cinerama where I saw the Cinerama edition of 2001, I have seen many places, yet I am not an expert, perhaps as close as one can get, yet I too was befuddled when Afua Hirsch (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/06/oscard-ban-nollywood-film-lionheart-oscarssowhite-nigerian-film) alerted me to a wicked situation. In Nollywood, where the Holly and Bolly are not found a movie was released. The movie Lionheart is using English; you know the version of American that was heard before July 4th, 1776. These American are sore winners are they not? she used the headline ‘An Oscars ban for a Nigerian film shows the Academy still doesn’t get it on race‘ to alert us to the situation.

Afua got me with one little part of her article: “Directed by and starring the Nollywood titan Genevieve Nnaji, it is a captivating look at family, class, sexism, politics and the texture of life in the Niger delta. It’s both very Nigerian and very relatable for audiences who know nothing about Nigeria” it was not the only part, but that part made me curious of the movie, Nigeria, a place famous for princes and princesses that have access to millions, and they are willing to share it if you can just hand over your bank details. However there is plenty of goods coming from Nigeria, movies was new to me (as far as I know), So when I was informed that “Yet Lionheart has just been disqualified because there is too much English in it” I woke up fast. Now we do know that the US is not really that literate, so for them The Queen’s English might be as far from Yankie Doodle Dandy as Spanish is and they have to make such waves to understand that, that the movie Lionheart “does feature the Igbo language, which millions of people in eastern Nigeria speak“, OK that was new to me, Well I knew that people in Nigeria had their own speak, i just (until now) did not know it was called Igbo. So it has two foreign languages for Americans. So when we see “And this legacy of empire, even though they were once part of it, is what some American institutions don’t seem able to comprehend” we get part of the fix, which is alarming for the movie maker of Lionheart, well, at least it will have a bigger chance at the Bafta this year, so it seems that Lionheart will “the American Academy expects films competing in its “international feature film” category to emphatically not be in English” no matter how much Queens English is in the movie. It does define the term #OscarsSoWhite in a bitter new definition; will the people like Helen Mirren and Simon Pegg unite making that concept into a comedy? Perhaps with Tom Cruise as the director trying to skate on both sides of the fence?

Let’s face it, Simon Pegg can make Paul an American (someone whispered to me that Tom Cruise played Paul in the movie bearing his character name), in that case Nolly can be an American too.

Yet in all seriousness

The quote “The American film establishment is clearly struggling to grasp the basic idea that there are Africans who speak English. Viewers get this: Nollywood box office revenues increased by 36% last year” is a decently first milestone in recognising that American standards are nothing to talk home about, In a stage where American values are given to the Oscars, yet for most movies America is merely 25% to a third of the revenue for most American movies whilst the rest comes from the larger screens all outside of the USA, the overly (or is that overtly) standard is set outside of a beach of values we need to consider movies to be in? I believe that Hollywood needs to reconsider its values, before Nolly and Bolly take Holly for a ride in a convertible and show her exactly where things are at.

It sounds foreboding, but it is not, in this age where games are taking the front of where movies are, the idea that Holly takes a bow and takes the list of settings where the grey areas are addressed. The idea that Hollywood has grey areas is just beyond believe, I mean what would we call Alien? A British, Non-American documentary of Space Exploration? I mean, let’s get real here. The games industry is about to dwarf movies in a major way, it is time for the people en mass to get on board and let’s face it, there is no saying how this goes in the future, so Nollywood could be a presence in gaming soon enough.

So today I am happy that I learned something today, Afua Hirsch taught me that Oscars are not a measurement we should be proud of, perhaps it is the year where stars and viewers decide that Bafta is the way to go when it comes to Cinematographical awards, so to all the Nollies in Wood, Welcome to the Bafta’s (well at least Lionheart).

I look forward to learn more of the Nollywood movies, should be fun after a bland year of American cinematography.

 

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Rampling was the domino

It is a side I had not thought of for quite a while. I have my own views, movies I like, movies I go to see. When I do, there is no regard towards race or religion. I just want to see a good movie, for the mere reason that going to the cinema is expensive, so when I go there, it better be a good one. So when I initially read the article ‘Charlotte Rampling finds herself outnumbered in Oscars diversity row‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/22/charlotte-rampling-finds-herself-outnumbered-in-oscars-diversity-row), I was not entirely sure what to think. For me, I am still slightly upset on the Golden globes, because no matter how much I enjoyed the Martian, it is NOT a comedy. A light-hearted drama at best. So in my eyes, the foreign press desperately wanted to get the Martian elected even though EVERYONE knew that the titanic achievement ‘the Revenant’ could not be equalled. So, they were willing to screw over Paul Feig or Judd Apatow, depending on your view of comedy. In that same light Matt Damon should not have won, not because his achievement was bad, it was quite excellent and I will look forward to own this achievement on Blu-Ray in 17 days, 13 hours and 14 minutes (roughly, but who’s counting). Yet, I will see this as excellent drama, not as a comedy. All the movies I saw, had a Caucasian caste. I thought nothing of it, no bad thoughts; no directed thoughts. There was an African American in Star Wars and he played his part really well, just nothing I would nominate a Golden globe or Oscar to. The day is young and I will look forward to him rocking my world as an actor in a future movie hr does. I have seen my share of excellent acting in Sidney Poitier (Heat of the night), Morgan Freeman (loads of movies there), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop/Harlem Nights), and Don Cheadle (Traitor). Here I pause for a moment, you see, this is a serious piece of work based on an idea by funny guy Steve Martin. The result is a spy thriller of unrivalled proportions and until the very end, you have no idea what will happen. As Spy stories goes, this is a killer! We tend to look at Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption, or one of my favourites ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith, but in all this, we are limited by the exposure we tend to see through marketing (trailers). Because of that element I almost missed out on a gem called ‘Seven Pounds’, which is an amazing piece of work. Yes, it is sentimental, and there are truths in the view Todd McCarthy from Variety has, but it seems that his world is about one view, it is his view. I try to see multiple views, not always mine, one I can agree with or a comfortable one, but the fact remains that we all have our own skeletons, sometimes they are dark and leave no sunlight or a shadow. In this his last ‘view’ was “an endlessly sentimental fable about sacrifice and redemption that aims only at the heart at the expense of the head” (at http://variety.com/2008/film/awards/seven-pounds-2-1200472723/), but in all this Variety forgets that movies are made to appeal an audience and in a directly addressable audience of well over 3 billion, there is a need for everyone. It is for that reason I have a similar appreciation for Lars von Trier’s ‘Dancer in the Dark‘ (and ended up being depressed for well over a week).

The question becomes, how correct is Charlotte Rampling. She is not wrong and I feel that the issue goes a lot further than is currently illustrated. That part is also shown in the Guardian article when you see the video on that page with Mark Ruffalo. But neither show the element I am aiming for. You see, it was not until the Golden Globes that I saw that Will Smith was nominated for a role in a movie I had absolutely ZERO awareness of. Wiki and the trailer of Concussion shows a drama that hits at the heart of America. It shows two sides, one, do not ever mess with their ‘sport’ and the second issue is that America remains in denial as long as it is convenient for their bottom dollar. In that Concussion seems to surpass several dramas. You see, this issue goes a lot further than what we see from either Charlotte Rampling or Mark Ruffalo state, although Mark reflects on the direction. You see it goes further than we see in the article. the quote “An analysis by the Los Angeles Times in 2014 found that the 6,000-plus members are 93% white and 76% male, with an average age of 63“, a system that is set around a nation where the median age is 39, state wise spread from Utah (29) to Maine (44). You see, the people looking at the entertainment industry are no longer representative of their age, which gives a new problem. It is their marketing and publication side. The fact that a gem like Concussion, a 2015 movie that only gets visibility after the nominations of the golden Globes is a bigger problem than many realise. Now we see in the Hollywood Reporter, the following quote by Charlotte Rampling “I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration“, which is true and part of the problem, because that is unlikely to be the case. Equally true is the quote we see from Michael Caine “You Can’t Vote for an Actor Because He’s Black“, which is equally true. The actors I mentioned earlier did the work, the hardship and ended up with the nominations, yet in opposition I offer that my view is in equal measure that there is an indication that votes are lost, or not duly received because of colour. In that light I offer ‘the Color Purple‘ which in 1986 rocked da house! The Academy awards had given it 11 nominations, ZERO wins. Whoopi Goldberg did get her Golden Globe, but they lost out on 4 other nominations. One out of 15, which is statistically a joke. Yet is it mere fate? You see Out of Africa was good, but not great (a personal view). I feel this because I enjoyed both movies, but I have since (1986) watched the Color Purple at least 8 times on DVD and Out of Africa? Nil times! In other lights, it had fierce competition from Prizzi’s Honor (Anjelica Huston) and Ran (Emi Wada), yet are the other 9 times deserved non-winners? I feel I cannot state this for certain, but with the exception of Best Original Screenplay I have a few too many question marks.

In all this we see that the Color Purple is more than a failing marketing and visibility campaign. Which is at the heart of non-recognition. In 2016 there is another side that we see in the Oscars. Concussion gets zero nominations. Here is it harder to oppose it, because the Revenant, Spotlight and Bridge of Spies are massive pieces of Work, which does allow for the situation to exist, yet in that same light, as we see the group that represents the Academy Awards, how many were clearly aware of Concussion and how many of them would see Concussion as the gem it is? In that same light, did the failure of marketing and publications now propagate the situation that Concussion is not making the BAFTA list? We have to accept that this is about American Football and as such, when we see that the BAFTA’s stated purpose is to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public“, we have to consider that American Football is an American interest and as such, Will Smith could miss out for the interest group, not because of his quality or the fact that he is an African American. But the issue remains, has marketing and publications cut themselves in their American fingers?

An issue that will remains for a longer time, because as the power players are growing away from the average younger audience, the selection could become a lot more disjointed, which might actually be a little too strong an expression.

The truth remains that we all have valid questions at times, yet in that same light we must accept (to some degree) that the bulk have an opinion, an impression and a preference. It is at times influenced by marketing as the people are given the royal tour by the promoters of the movies. We see at PRSA.ORG “Oscar campaigns are not cheap — campaign budgets can run $24 million per film. Mailing DVD screeners to the Academy’s 6,000-plus members, advertising in trade publications, attending festivals, hosting screening events and conducting media tours are only the beginning“, the Public Relations Society of America is decently outspoken here. Money rolls, which means that the name alone will not do it. Will Smith is a bankable name, but in the end, it is more than just the name, the DVD screeners and opportunity here. It is a business model, which now implies that art is not at the heart of the matter, product marketing is. The question that remains here is that if a movie needs that kind of marketing, how memorable was it?  Perhaps that is the wrong question too. Not everyone has time to see all the movies and the fact that some movies are not released on disc long after the Oscars is equally an issue, so is that approach wrong?

I cannot vote against it unless it is more than the actual book, the movie or the soundtrack. Optimising any product is far enough, but in that light, was Concussion properly optimised for exposure to the public and the audience at large? If not, who was behind that part? It is a Sony production, yet should this be about the awards? I wonder if the really good actors really take a role for that reason. In this I like to quote Tim Mincin In his UWA acceptance speech. There he states “Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect“, which seems to be (in my mind) how the great actors could think. Will Smith has had 85 nominations and 45 awards. None of them golden globes or Oscars. In the Golden globe section he lost out to Russell Crowe and Forest Whitaker who both delivered amazing performances that year, yet as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air he lost out to both John Goodman and Jerry Seinfeld, both series I was never a fan of, but they have their own following. In the Academy Awards he lost out to Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. A much harder choice, because both The Pursuit of Happyness and The Last King of Scotland are amazing works of art. I found the call between Ali and Training Day much harder because of my admiration of Muhammad Ali. So I know that I have bias here, I feel valid bias as the arts are about moments and ideals, Will Smith has been on that fine line many times. It is CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/18/sport/nfl-head-injuries-will-smith-movie-concussion/) that gives us “I probably won’t be getting my free Super Bowl tickets this year“, which is part of all this (apart from the fact that I never received ANY free tickets for any of the Ashes games), we see again that America will be in denial or in opposition as the NFL is the bottom dollar at least one day a week. I cannot oppose this. Yet reflecting on this, I feel a little uncertain when it comes to an outspoken #OscarsSoWhite. My issue in this case is that the opposition this year is massive, Spotlight, the Revenant, Bridge of Spies and the Martian are outstanding pieces of excellence. We can complain that these roles were too absent of African American roles, but that is based on different elements, in my view, not a #OscarsSoWhite view, or is it?

In all this we must see that we are not part of the actual world the actors and actresses live in. They would have a more realistic view, which makes the entire #OscarsSoWhite such an uneasy issue. You see, I feel that #OscarsSoWhite is almost a personal attack, I see the movies I like, and because of the reasons I see them. So, even as a written off product like ‘Seven Pounds’ is one I enjoyed, I enjoyed Gravity as well, and I enjoyed the Martian in near equal measure (the special effects in Gravity were just so awesome). In all this race was never a consideration. That is my personal view, I cannot answer for others, you must decide on your reasoning and your preference, which is as it should be with anything that comes from the arts.

This now gets me to the final part. As I saw it, from the first moment I saw the movie (not when it was released as I was 5 at that time), is that Virgil Tibbs made ‘In the Heat of the night’ the movie it was, the legend it became. Sir Sidney Poitier made the movie what it was (Rod Steiger was great too). So here we have our issue we want to feel that #OscarsSoWhite is valid, we do however want to base it on the now, not on 50 years ago. So can we question the issues, or is there a second layer that we are to some extent conveniently ignoring. One of marketing and PR, the other on the denial that the NFL (Americans with their idolisation of their sport in general) seems to bring. Two elements that seem to equally make the movie Concussion fall short. Those elements are not illustrated in equal measure here, which does not give any less value to Will Smith, it only impacted the topic Will Smith illustrated (as I personally see it).

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The virtual reality of it all

Well, I would have expected my gaming ideas to come from many places, the Guardian was not one of them to be honest, but there you have it, we find information in all kinds of places. reason here is the other BAFTA, not the one eloquently mentioned by Stephen Fry (aka Reaver to gamers), but by the Gaming BAFTA, which will be awarded on March 12th (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/10/alien-isolation-2015-bafta-video-game-award-nominations). There are many titles that will be mentioned, many will become non winners, and remain nominees none the less and one will stand out. Let’s take a look at those categories and some of the games mentioned.

Artistic Achievement

This is the only place where we see Ubisoft shine, to be more precise their graphical teams, no matter how I spoke out against Ubisoft and how they neglected Assassins Creed, their graphical teams did not. These graphical gurus did show a level of excellence that has been from out of this world. No matter how many bugs we see in Unity, the graphics were unreal, as were they for Black Flag; it is a well-deserved nomination and a possible winner, although they will compete with their own title Far Cry 4 here.

Audio achievement

There is one title that stands out, more important, the title itself is an achievement that many will have waited for, for a long time. It is Alien: Isolation and it puts the SEGA logo back on the screen in a most wonderful way. This alien game is not about blasting, it is about staying alive. This is the one perfect horror survival game that places the genre in a new light whilst remaining true to the atmosphere of the original Alien movie. The Evil Within scratches the surface of this genre, Alien: Isolation breaks through the skin and leaves you sweaty with possible heart problems, just like the original movie from 1979. The game truly takes you to the nerve wrecking ordeal of sharing a spaceship with an alien in the most unwanted way. The audio is every bit as important as the graphics and the audio team delivered like nothing you ever faced before.

Best Game

Is always a hard nut to crack, many games stand out in their own way, for various reasons, SEGA is the strongest nominee here, but a truly exceptional game delivers on many fronts, as such all titles deserve to be there, personally Destiny is as I see it, the least likely title to win, as it depends too much on multiplayer events, yet, this does not take it out of the race, I wonder how the silent title in the back (Monument Valley) will do. It is a silent gem, the use of the masterpieces of M. C. Escher are not to be ignored. There is a mesmerising element in this game that is as addictive as a game like Minecraft ever will be. As I mention addiction, I must warn you to stay away from nominee handheld game ‘Threes’. what seems like a simple game of addition, will turn from one second into the next into a game of addiction and your next set of threes is only one little swipe away. I reckon that in this category it will be a fight between Monument Valley and Threes and either should be seen as a worthy winner.

 

I can go on but you will have to take your own look and see what you think should be the right one to win. The important element here is that we see two parts of gaming that are now clearly impacting business. The first one is quality, yes, I started with the good side of Ubisoft as their graphical teams truly deserve it, but overall Ubisoft bungled the ball and an event like this, where they should be in domination, they are only attending in the most minimalistic of ways. The critique on several levels for Far Cry 4 and the massive failure Assassins Creed: Unity has shown to be, should be a clear indication that Yves Guillemot needs to clean up his divisions and he needs to do it no sooner than 5 minutes after the gaming BAFTA’s have ended.

The second part in all this is originality in gaming. SEGA is showing that in no small matter, in addition, we see Minecraft mentioned a few times, but the stellar part is that silent achievement Monument Valley, developer Ustwo under guidance of fearless leader Neil McFarland shows that independent developers are the future in more ways than one. The Creative Assembly (those behind Alien: Isolation and the old EA sports games) are not indie as such, but they are a far stretch from a massive developer like 2K and Ubisoft, which in addition show those larger developers that the true gems are in the mind of a person and not in the massive visibility of a division.

It will be interesting to see who is elected winner in these BAFTA’s for the mere reason that those who decide might not be the group that largely play these games, the one part that will be interesting to see is that the audience might see the real Ellie (Ashley Johnson), it is always nice to meet the person you kept safe in a digital world, even if she looks nothing like the digital character, an issue Jonathan Irons who will be portraying Kevin Spacey won’t face any day soon. I am eager to see Cliff Martinez on the stage, hopefully for winning the BAFTA for Far Cry 4, which was an excellent piece of work. I have been a fan of his work since Solaris and Contagion, two of his many created master works. As a debut game, Hitman Go definitely takes a shine. They changed a shooting assassin into a tough puzzle game with pawns shaped like Sebuteo figurines, but in the style of Hitman 47 and the goons he goes after. However, in that same category we see Shovel knight, a true retro game, based on the best of the best old style console games, whilst looking new fresh and fun to play. It is a fun achievement for both the new and the seasoned gamer.

So we will all be looking forward, or in some cases dreading this awarding evening. The only worry might be that the people who casted their votes and enjoying a horror survival stealth game is too low, which might impact SEGA to get a decent amount of the 6 nominations it received. We will see it all on March 12th and no matter who wins, I feel certain that the winning views will entice several players to take a look into nominated and winning games they had not considered playing before, that in itself will make the gaming BAFTA a great event for nominee, winner and gamer alike

The full nomination list can be found at http://www.bafta.org/sites/default/files/uploads/baftagamesawardsnominationslist.pdf

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