Spotlight On: Wes Anderson

This is Wes Anderson, director of upcoming The Grand Budapest Hotel. His instantly recognisable style is intriguing so we’re taking a closer look….Image

So some of his trade marks from IMDB:

Makes obsessive and comedic use of “rostrum camera” insert shots, foregrounding the minutiae of books and other documents.
Has ended all his movies with a slow-motion shot, with the exception of The Darjeeling Limited (2007).
Just about the entire soundtrack in all of his movies, with the exception of The Darjeeling Limited (2007), is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh.
Likes to shoot with extremely wide-angle anamorphic lenses that exhibit considerable barrel distortion.
Frequently uses a take/double take technique where he will show a character/action, quickly pan to another character/action, then pan back, usually with handheld camera.
Movies often focus around a broken or unorthodox family circle
At least one of his characters is usually a grown man seeking the approval of a parent or parent figure.
Often includes songs by The Rolling Stones on the soundtracks of his films
The titlecards are always in the font: Futura Bold, most commonly in yellow color.
A character giving a complex, lengthy explanation for humor
Unique ways of introducing a large cast of characters
Characters who are heavy on body language
Quirky themes of white middle-class and upper-class issues

Shots of the characters standing still and facing towards the screen with little to no emotion.


So that’s his style then.  Now how many of these Wes films can you name?ImageImageImageImageImage?

…And as a director?…

Jeff Goldblum on working with Wes:“I’ve gone to other movies and the director will go, ‘Oh maybe you are wearing this,’ and I’ll go ‘That’s a good idea but how about this? What if I have a hat or a thing?’ With him you don’t do that. You go: ‘What do I get to do in this?’ And he goes: ‘Here’s the thing, here’s the thing, here’s the thing.’ And you go, ok, so, that’s what you sign-up for too. And his ideas are so good. And his taste is so good that you go: ‘Oh, yes please.’”


See The Grand Budapest Hotel at The Grosvenor cinema from March 7th.


Guillermo del Toro: A Brief Retrospective

When considering Guillermo Del Toro’s work, mythical creatures, terrifying monsters, and of getting lost in a wonderful world of his creation for a couple of hours seem typical statements of his work. So when I saw the trailer for his new piece Pacific Rim, I couldn’t help but think that it was a little out of keeping with his style of storytelling. If we look back over some of his most influential and successful works however, and make a point of looking past his distinctive stylistic vision and storytelling technique, it soon becomes evident that, thematically, Pacific Rim is simply an extension of an ever present subject matter. In each of his works, Del Toro questions what it means to be human, the tolerability of immortality, and the causes of monstrosity. Questions which, judging by the trailers, will be at the forefront of his latest offering. In preparation for the release of this action packed instalment on July 12th, we look back over some of his pervious works, and follow his thematic journey through cinema.

Del Toro’s 1993 offering, Cronos, is a constant blur between the line of humanity and immortality, with the essential mythical monster thrown in for good measure. It questions when, if ever, is immortality the answer? If you had the choice between a normal life of aging then death, dying of a terminal illness, or immortality with a number unknown side effects and restrictions, what would you choose? The story focuses in on the protagonist, Jesus, and what his state of being is. He remains convinced throughout that he is in control of his actions, particularly his use of the Cronos device. A device which prolongs the user’s life, making them feel, and even appear more youthful, but at the price of becoming slave to its use. Even after his death, and resurrection, Jesus remains convinced of his humanity. It takes the slow realisation that his new lifestyle of nocturnalism, blood draining, and consumption, is in fact completely inhuman, for him to become aware of his current state. His personal battle with what it means to be human (love, family, freedom) brings about his demise. Upon the realisation that he can no longer experience these simple pleasures, and in turn, can no longer be called human, he sacrifices himself, and consequently, saves his daughter from death. His last act of compassion and humanity.

2004’s Hellboy, and 2008’s Hellboy II pose similar questions about humanity, immortality, and monstrosity, again questioning when, if ever, is immortality the answer? And what defines a character as monstrous? In these films however, Del Toro explores these questions from the point of view of what would traditionally be labelled as monsters, changing the expectations of his audience, and forcing us to examine the possibility that often we, as humans, are the monsters. Following the story of Hellboy (literally a creature from Hell found on earth), we see how this ‘monster’ works with both humans and other fantastical creatures in the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence, in order to keep the world, and in particular the human race, safe from members of the occult. In both films, humans are at the source of all the problems, as they attempt to gain more power, achieve immortality, and rule the world and all its races for all eternity. In these films, Del Toro proves it is possible to be human without being humane. Monsters can come in all shapes and sizes, but it is often those who seem the least monstrous that prove to be the most nefarious.


In 2006, Del Toro brought us the world of Pan’s Labyrinth. A visually striking film filled with fairies, fauns and fantasy. The piece is set between two contrasting worlds. The world we know, and the world of Princess Moanna. Princess of the underworld. Set during post Civil War Spain, we are instantly given cause to question what it means to be human, as we witness the emotionless Falange Soldiers, in particular Captain Vidal, kill, maim, and torture for both information and entertainment. How can these beings be called human when they treat others with such disdain? How can one inflict so much physical and mental pain upon others without causing suffering to themselves? This is truly the behaviour of a monster. However, monstrous traits are also displayed by the mythical creatures of the film. The faun, who appears initially as a guide and mentor, abandons the protagonist, Ofelia, when she fails to carry out her assigned task to the letter, and even attempts to convince Ofelia to sacrifice her baby brother. Hardly the behaviour of the righteous. Del Toro demonstrates how circumstance can play a huge part in behaviour patterns. Cause and consequence. Beings react to their situations and the way those around them react. Had there been no civil war, perhaps the soldiers would not have become such violent beasts. Had Ofelia not angered the faun, she may not have suffered in solitude. Monsters do not simply come into being, they are created by circumstance. A creature is not a monster for having horns and hoofs, but for using them to inflict pain on others.

So what can we expect from Pacific Rim? Evidently, plenty of strong men, big machines and battle scenes, but what of the story behind the visuals. The trailer itself states “In order to fight monsters, we created monsters of our own”. I am confident that Del Toro will present us with many more interpretations of what defines humanity, monstrosity, and immortality, and prove that he can work with any genre of film, and make it his own.



Jenni Wright


Pacific Rim is now showing at the Grosvenor Cinema. Click here to book your tickets.

@BaftaScotland Screening: The Place Beyond the Pines

At what point do an awful series of events begin, and how can they brought to an end? Derek Cianfrance toyed with such questions in his previous feature Blue Valentine – the difficult story of two lovers bound to one another for reasons beyond immediate understanding, despite the intense misery their life together entails. His latest film goes beyond the claustrophobic intensity of a dysfunctional relationship to examine the inevitability of fate and of failed attempts at redemption across a tapestry of tragically connected stories. The Place Beyond the Pines is the story of  a carnival daredevil (Ryan Gosling) whose failed bank robbery leads him to a tragic episode with an idealistic cop (Bradley Cooper), changing the fate of both men, and their families forever.

It is Cianfrance’s genius in Beyond the Pines is to explore, through these intricately and intimately woven stories, the unfolding tragedies that, through human weakness, cannot be confined to a discrete moment in time. As the narrative unfolds the audience is constantly drawn to look closer at the chain of events in perspective, towards the minutiae of the circumstantial and seemingly trivial happenings from the beginning of the movie, that suggest that if things had been different the terrible fate of that befalls the two men – and their sons – could have been avoided.

Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a  nomadic motorcycle daredevil whose work on the carnival circuit brings him into fleeting contact with Romina Gutierrez (Eva Mendes), with whom he has a son, Jason. The new found knowledge of his paternity drives Luke to attempt to provide for all three; first through employment as a mechanic and then through a series of bank robberies inspired by his employer Robin, played ably by Ben Mendelsohn. The bank robberies themselves provide short, spasmodic scenes of intense, dizzying and nauseating action, the speed of helps to portray the fundamental recklessness and impulsiveness of Gosling’s character.

When taken at face value, Gosling’s part in the narrative of Beyond the Pines chimes familiarly with his role in Drive – a mechanic-cum-bank-robber drawn to care for a mother and her child – an it is tempting to make the equation. Yet the character of Glanton is very different to the Meursault-esque character played by Gosling in Drive. Glanton is sociopathic, talkative and highly emotional young man, whose reasons for caring for the welfare of the mother and child are obvious – somewhat the reverse of Gosling’s part as ‘Driver’, despite their obvious similarities.

Bradley Cooper plays Avery Cross, who enters the film during a stand-off with Glanton. Heralded first as a hero, the  idealistic young police officer becomes entangled in the corruption of his fellow officers, only to emerge as someone unrecognisable from his former self, transformed by guilt.

The story then migrates from one generation to the next, focusing on Jason (Dane De Haan), Glanton’s son and the unhappy circumstances which have become his life given what to him are  the unexplained circumstances of his father’s death. This final transition completes the circle as Avery’s wayward son, AJ (Emory Cohen), befriends Jason after arriving

Cianfrance must be credited for managing to hand the plot, like a terrible burden, from character to character through a series of memorable breaks which serve to enrich rather than punctuate the films storyline. In taking pages from the American cinematic playbook – bank jobs, broken homes, car chases, crooked cops and violence – Cianfrance imbues them with an intense realism that accentuates the film’s gritty, somewhat vulgar feel, putting the human suffering that these things cause at the centre of the story, rather than as a peripheral concern.

The emerging director’s penchant for bringing to the surface the regrettable side of human nature can, at times, make   The Place Beyond the Pines uncomfortable to watch, but this is surely a part of its engrossing effect. Trading on themes of catharsis, responsibility and guilt, fate and inevitablity, as well as  masculinity and the role of a father, Cianfrance manages to make a film that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. With Ryan Gosling recently announcing an indefinite hiatus from acting it places an imperative on his fans to catch the last glimpse of an actor whose direction is far from certain.

Alan Mahon

The Place Beyond The Pines will be released at the Grosvenor Cinema April 12. For ticket information visit

A Horror Day’s Night – Matt Palmer and ‘All Night Horror Madness’

The Grosvenor Cinema’s ‘All Night Horror Madness’ is a red letter day in the calender of all Glasgow horror fans. Claire Murray caught up with the man behind the madness, Matt Palmer, to get an insight into what its like to organize such an event…

“My day, if you could call it that, for the ‘All Night Horror Madness’ nights  I run actually begins around three months before. By the time the event itself comes around I’ve been working on it for such a long time, gathering a collection of great horrors together, finding a venue and doing the marketing. It is intense. I try to get up at midday and keep calm but being a control freak, that’s not always possible.”

“Thankfully I’ve moved on from cooking food at the nights. In the beginning I decided I would do bacon rolls for people. The day of my first all-nighter I slept in, vastly underestimated how much bacon I would need, spent six hours in the kitchen cooking bacon and was totally spaced out. I had to bring everything down to the cinema, got blind drunk and stunk of bacon, missing the first film,  which was a bit of a disaster all round. The “bacon adventures” as I called them carried on until the third night when I realised it was getting ridiculous and people could bring their own food.”

“All Night Horror Madness sprang from my own personal love of cult films so the night of back to back movies is a social affair. My friends gather at my house and we have a couple of drinks to get the night started and calm my ever increasing nerves. We head down to the cinema about 10pm and meet everyone we know who is coming, then help out making sure everyone has a ticket for the raffle and a drink. My job tends to be part organiser and part host.”

“Just before 11pm, the people who have bought tickets file in. Everyone takes their seats and I do a short intro. Disliking public speaking, I then get a guy I know, Ian Howie, to do a longer talk about the films. His intros are really funny and it lets me sit down and sink into the crowd.”

“I’ve usually spent weeks watching and re-watching horror films to pick out the ones I think will fit best with the night so the experience is not exactly relaxing. There’s a definite feeling of responsibility and you can start looking for faults in the film and worry that those who have paid to come to your night won’t like the choices you have made for them. I try to dismiss this and just enjoy the evening but I often feel a bit like I’m having an out of body experience, especially during Edinburgh nights as I work in the cinema anyway. It’s a pretty intense situation and sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening.  I often have the event in Glasgow, a week or two later and I get to really experience it there as the first one is always such a blur.”

“Sitting in the auditorium can be such a nerve wracking experience. I’m a bit of a, well, a cinema purist.  I try really hard to get hold of 35mm prints in order to add a bit more authenticity to the event. However it can be really hard and expensive to do this so we often show two DVDs or BluRay and two prints.  I also feel that when something goes wrong with a reel or the print snaps or something then it is an act of God, whereas digital and DVD feels like my fault. I sit there and hope that no mishaps occur and then worry that my negative feelings will cause something to happen, like I’m sending weird brain signals out. It’s ridiculous I know, but it’s not something I can help.”

“Getting a bit older, I’m starting to find it difficult to stay awake the whole night. When I was younger me and my mates would go to all-nighters in Manchester and I could stay up through all the films but I imagine it will get even harder now I have a baby. My son is ten weeks old and it’s hard enough getting sleep in at the best of times. I tend to have quite a few drinks on the night so I’m often a bit drunk too but, I mean, I feel like if I’m putting everyone through the experience then I need to stay up myself.”

“When it all ends my emotions are unbelievably mixed. As the credits on the final film roll in I feel a mix of pleasure, disappointment and emptiness. Pleasure that the night has went to plan and there have been no hitches. Disappointment that it’s all over and I have to wait another few months to do it again and emptiness that something I have spent so long working on has been and gone. There’s also a bit of excitement in there, I get to start planning the next one.”


Claire Murray in conversation with Matt Palmer

The Grosvenor Cinema will be hosting ‘All Night Horror Madness’ on Saturday March 16. For ticket booking and other information visit or call 0845 166 6002.

Six Nations of Film- Italy: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Having never seen any Italian films before other than some Spaghetti Westerns which, let’s be honest, can hardly be called ‘Italian’, Cinema Paradiso fits the bill perfectly. Not only is it a quintessentially Italian film that is both written and directed by an Italian, Giuseppe Tornatore, it features an almost entirely Italian cast, and the films plot and story center around one of me and my fellow Raptors’ great passions – cinema.

The multi award winning Cinema Paradiso is set in a small but picturesque Sicilian fishing village Giancaldo, to which famous Italian film director Salvatore Di Vita has just returned home from Rome after being informed of the death of his friend and mentor Alfredo. Alfredo was the much loved and at times underappreciated projectionist at the town’s local cinema that Salavatore (Toto) would frequently visit as a small boy. Whilst back in Sicily, memories of Salvatore’s time on the island, his friendship with Alfredo and his first love start flooding back.  Most importantly though, we come to understand where Salvatore’s love of cinema stemmed from and how it and Alferdo’s influence would shape his life in years to come.

The cinema was a source of escapism for Toto growing up. His father had fought in the Second World War and had not returned home causing his mother to seep into denial and depression. Toto would constantly sneak out to the cinema behind his mothers back and within Cinema Paradiso’s modest walls he experienced sights and sounds the like of which he never could have within Giancaldo, and with Alferdo’s help (which was unforthcoming at first) learned the skills of projection which would allow him to leave his village for bigger and brighter things. Cinema Paradiso is not only the name of the cinema but it totally encompasses how Toto feels about and his relationship with Cinema. It is his paradise, a place where his creative and imaginative mind can flourish, and it saved him from being trapped in the small village cycle, in which many other members of the community have been caged.

Community plays a huge role in Cinema Paradiso just as it does in Italian culture. Due to the village’s small stature and its means of income, the population spend most of their day together, even their free time which is spent watching films. The cinema acts as a hub where the villagers can come together and bond. We see snap shots of how they act with one another within the cinema. A future couple stealing glances at each other from across the theatre, a group of friends playing tricks on each other, and as he enters, a male villager greets the entre hall as a whole while he attempts to find a seat within the rabble. We only ever spend a few moments with each villager but these small glimpses show how strong the community is within Giancaldo.  This sense of community and its post war setting are common themes in early Italian Neorealist cinema.

During the film, we see Toto watching one of Visconti’s films, La Terra Trema, which is a classic example of Italian Neorealism. However it is clear to see that although Cinema Paradiso is set with the Neorealist period, it follows none of its conventions, thus shows how modern Italian cinema has developed. Italian Neorealism focused on depicting Italian life and its political ideals as realistically as possible through using real locations and non actors in roles. In summary, Italian Neorealism was real, rough and unflinching which completely contrasts Cinema Paradiso’s romantic and nostalgic story and vision of the period. Many film theorists and critics alike have criticised the film for this.

Overall I enjoyed Cinema Paradiso. The performances of Philippe Noiret as Alferdo and Salvatore Cascio as young Salvatore were fantastic. I fully believed in their relationship, however odd it may seem, a man in his early fifties bonding with a ten year old child but it works through the realistic dialogue and the actor’s gestures. I only wish I could have spent more time with them during Toto’s teenage years instead of a lack lustre love story taking over, but love is a priority when you’re a teen so the film has to reflect that. Ennio Morricone’s score compliments the film’s romantic tone perfectly, it’s simple mix of strings and woodwind give you the feeling of a rustic Italian village and Morricone’s use of crescendo in the violins when Toto meets his love really captures the feeling of falling in love for the first time. The cinematography and editing is simple but effective. It seems that the director made a conscious decision to let the beautiful Sicilian setting speak for its self.

Before watching, I was a bit unsure if Cinema Paradiso was going to be a little too “sappy” and cliché, (I am known for not liking many films which lay the romantic whimsy on too thick) but I couldn’t help being taken by little Toto and Alferdo’s friendship and the journey on which they embark.

If you haven’t seen Cinema Paradiso I would recommend it, especially as an introduction to Italian cinema, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of romantic nostalgia to warm the heart every now and then.

Laura Nimmo

You can hear Laura give her very entitled opinions on cinema with the rest of her Raptors In The Kitchen pals at, like them on Facebook /RaptorsInTheKitchen and follow them on Twitter @RaptorsPodcast