The Shape Of Water: A Review

Getting my boyfriend to come watch a romantic movie with me is like trying to get me to not eat an entire bar of chocolate. It ain’t gonna happen! So I was pretty convinced I as gonna have a serious fight on my hands getting him to the cinema. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I  suggested  Del Toro’s latest Oscar hopeful as his immediate response was “Okay, the half five showing or the half nine?” YES!

You see, the thing is The Shape of Water isn’t just your typical romance, if anything it subverts the general notion of a romance and if anything that just makes it even the more romantic and the best part is, guys don’t actually realise they’re sitting there watching a film with the central theme of love.

The Shape of Water is the latest offering from critically acclaimed Guillermo Del Toro, the same man behind Pan’s Labrinyth and the Hellboy movies. Just like Pan’s, The Shape of Water is set against another war backdrop offering the audience the escapism so popular in current cinema. In contrast to the murky and bloody Spanish Civil War we saw in pan’s we are transported to 1960’s Baltimore where a lonely and mute cleaner of a secret Government laboratory lives and spends most of her time either with caring Gay neighbour Miles or her co-worker, Zelda. Spoiler alert: she tends to spend a lot of her time fingering herself in a bath….

When the government facility she cleans gets a new creature that has been captured by our antagonist Colonel Strickland, played by the devastatingly good Michael Shannon our curious protagonist Elisa forms a close bond with it after she discovers the creature is a humanoid amphibian . After the creature gets caught up in the ongoing Cold War between America and the Soviet Union with the Americans wishing to use the creature to help them get into space and USSR ordering their Soviet Spy at the base to destroy the creature. If this is starting to confuse to you, don’t worry! As both plots are wound together tightly by the end to merge beautifully. After realising what the Americans intend to do with the creature she’s become very attached to, Elisa plans to free him.

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I’ve decided I’m not gonna go any further into the plot as I realise I’ve probably spoilt enough of this film for you guys!

The beauty of The Shape of Water lies with its visual appeal. The film is stunning, enough said. It’s an actual treat for the eyes. Del Toro knows how to seduce his audience, he knows how to grab at their imagination and ignite their senses. In terms of awards, Del Toro hands down deserves Best Direction. His perfect crafting of visuals and music combined suits every moment the actors make.

One thing that really springs to mind when watching this is the B movie and what probably inspired Del Toro slightly, Creature from The Black Lagoon. In a twist, the monster is the character that gets the girl which gives a fresh turn on the beauty and the Beast convention. Award gold if I ever did know it.

However, in terms of Best Screenplay I have to hand it to Shape of Water. Although it’s probably been one of my favourite films of this year so far it doesn’t do anything to the stellar script of Three Billboards. I think part of it is to do with the fact that our protagonist Elisa is mute which does take away from the actual dialogue but it’s a stellar turn from Sally Hawkins.

All in all, if you fancy a film that you wish to get lost in and also resonates with you, this is your flavour.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: A Review

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There’s one time of the year when everyone seems to go absolutely mental over drama’s in the film industry, awards season. Usually, I refuse to go see the films that are pinned for Oscar dominance, I tend to find them a bit too pretentious or they end up being a massive disappointment. sorry to be controversial but La La Land just wasn’t my cup of tea! However, awards season does seem to be the one time of the year making a drama actually seems to pay off for producers and investors.

This year I bucked my trend of ditching the Award buzzing films and decided to just give em a go! Starting with the hotly anticipated, Three Billboards…

Three Billboards tells the story of  Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother whose on a mission to find the man guilty of raping and killing her teenage daughter, this film is not for the faint hearted.

Out of frustration with the police department she rents three billboards in order to spark action in the town’s sheriff, Chief Willoughby, played by the fantastic Woody Harrelson. However, instead of motivating, the billboards  anger the townspeople including the sheriff and his racist and homophobic colleague, Jason Dixon.  To complicate matters further, as it’s common knowledge that Sheriff Willoughby is dying from pancreatic cancer the townspeople harass and even threaten Mildred and her depressed son in an effort to get her to take down the billboards, nevertheless, Mildred remains firm and stubborn to her cause which leads to both tragic and comic moments of dramatic perfection.

Three Billboards is the latest cinematic offering from the genius of Martin McDonagh, the same writer/director who brought us the deliciously dark In Bruges (2008) and Seven Psychopaths (2012). Just like these two, McDonagh is able to fine tune the balance between comedy and utter tragedy in order to truly get to an audiences gut.

However, Three Billboards is not just an Oscar worthy drama, it’s a film that speaks to the universal mass, its a tale of a Mothers love and how far it stretches, even in this films case, beyond death. As a young female who went through the traumatic experience of losing her own mother, this left a large lump in my throat.

Nevertheless, in true McDonagh style there wasn’t long until I was laughing  at something ridiculous the character had said or done. That’s the gift of McDonagh he offers audiences a truly human cinematic moment with themes in his films that can shock but also inspire and he does this once again with Three…

It speaks of revenge, of how dangerous and damaging the quest for it can be and it manages to blend it effortlessly with the beauty of forgiveness.  It’s a humbling and moving cinematic experience.

In terms of structure, as everything with McDonagh it’s down to a T. The worthy and enjoyable protagonist of Mildred who wants nothing more but to see her daughters’ killer brought to justice is the very beating heart of the film. What could very well become a very stereotypical portrayal of a Southern American town  which cleverly represents the antagonist of this piece actually becomes a lot more vivid and three dimensional. In the end, the film is more of  journey and the ending hits the perfect thematic note.

Overall, if you plan on seeing this in cinemas, I highly recommend you too. Even if you’re not a fan of seemingly low budget drama this film will not disappoint. A true Oscar contender if I ever did see one.

 

 

 

Scriptwriting Opportunities for New Writers

As you guys know I’ve been a screenwriter now for about seven months and don’t get me wrong they’ve been pretty hard going! But once I had my first script under my belt I felt ready to go out into world of TV writing and kick arse!

In these last seven months, I think I’ve been on the majority of scriptwriting courses that are on offer to new emerging writers in the UK. Some of them, were amazing and I met some brilliant writers and learnt so much. Others….nawtt so much! If anything I just felt like I was literally throwing my precious money away.

Anyway I thought I’d present this little guide to going after opportunities as a scriptwriter to you guys so hopefully you can go after similiar opportunities and get value for your pennies!

Scriptwriting Opportunities that I found valuable:-

Scriptwriting North

Scriptwriting North is a fantastic hub for all writers in the North of England. It’s run by a really lovely woman called Beth who told me about the masters course that I am now on. For me, this place was absolutely fantastic as they taught me everything I needed to know before setting down a writing my first script. I have attended two ‘courses’ with them, one was a intensive day course for beginners which was a bloody brilliant day as it just gave me all the information I needed and in just one day! The second course was more like an intensive day of writing in various locations across Manchester but it was packed full of writing exercises, feedback sessions and food! If you live in the North and want to write, get in touch with Scriptwriting North.

BBC Writers Room

The BBC Writers Room is a great place with loads of resources for writers. The most amazing thing about the Writers Room is the extensive opportunities it provides for new writers on the scene. From it’s twice a year submission windows for drama and comedy writers to the external opportunities and competitions it posts on it’s ‘opportunities’ page. I also recently attended a free event in the BBC building in Salford with the Writers Room which had a Q&A with TV writer Sally Abbott. It was a lovely event and provided so much insight into the industry.

London Screenwriters Festival

This is like the holy grail for scriptwriters! Seriously! This event happens every year in London. Its a fantastic festival completely dedicated to all things scriptwriting that happens over the course of a weekend. Meet fellow writers, network, Q&A’s, pitch workshops, meet producers and so much more! The only downside for writers not based in London (such as myself) is the travel to London, the price of accommodation and then of course, the actual price of the festival itself. I couldn’t attend last year but I will definitely be attending this year, so will be blogging the entire weekend!

Scriptwriting Opportunities I regret paying for:-

Two Day comedy Writing Masterclass with Rob Grant

Okay, absolutely nothing against this course but I just don’t think it was worth the ridiculous price I had to pay! (£250, if your interested). It was run by Rob Grant, who was a writer and creator of a sitcom for a TV Series called Red Dwarf. Learning about how his career started and the in’s and out’s of what he knew was brilliant. However, the second day of the course, when he had to write a topical sketch show script for actors to perform that evening was totally pointless to me. I wasn’t interested in writing sketch comedy and if anything that’s the last thing producers want writers to send in to them.  If you’re in London though and interested in Sketch comedy then it’s right up your street!

And that’s it for now. I’ll do another writing blog post soon which will focus on writing competitions I recommend!

Good luck to you all and thank you for reading!