Danny Boyle, the tube and suspenseful endings.

I watched a film called ‘Fallen’ last night.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, before?

I hadn’t. It seems to have slipped a bit under the radar. It’s a 1998 horror film starring Denzel Washington – as I like horror and Denzel, and had never seen the two together before, I felt compelled to give it a go.

In short, it’s a good film – I recommend you check it out. Although, be warned, I’m about to give a spoiler…

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Okay, so it had one of those ‘shock’ endings that you often see in horror or thriller films. You know the one…where you think the bad guy is dead…and then suddenly – BOOM – something happens to make you think otherwise.

Like those Jason or Michael Myers films where you see a shot of the killer at the end and realise that there’s going to be a sequel.

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It got me thinking about endings and how important they are. Although for those of us who ‘didn’t write today’ beginnings are harder than endings…!

The whole ‘shock’ ending started out as being a bit rebellious…something a bit different. Hollywood audiences were so used to things working out happily that a ‘surprise’ ending really used to work back in the day. Audiences didn’t know what to expect.

Their humdrum idea that ‘everything will be okay in the end’ was suddenly well and truly shaken.

However, nowadays, I wonder if it’s something that’s rather overused. Almost predictable. I’d say that 60 – 70% of the horror films that I’ve seen recently have relied on it. Which brings me to a point where I’d be more surprised if things ended up happily ever after.

One thing I think that does work is an ambiguous, open ending. The kind of thing that gets people talking long after the end credits have rolled.

A good example of this is in the film Shallow Grave, which came out in 1994. If you’ve not seen it I highly recommend it – it was the director Danny Boyle’s cinematic debut.

The film has caused a lot of debate online (and offline too) due to its ending. As the film ends one of the characters is badly injured, and as the emergency services arrive you can’t quite work out whether he’s dead or not.

After watching it I remember searching online to see what others thought, but no one seemed to be sure.

Fast forward several months and I’m on the tube heading from Camden to East London. I look over to my right…and who do I see in front of me? None other than Danny Boyle.

Back in these days I was an aspiring actor, so I opened up a conversation with him. He was a lovely guy and really chatty. It was during the chat that I suddenly realised that I’d been presented with a rare opportunity.

I could actually ask about the ending of Shallow Grave and have an answer from none other than the director himself.

And so I did. And he told me that the character was definitely alive at the end of the film.

He also told me how surprised he was whenever he heard that people thought the ending was ambiguous. When they filmed it they’d assumed that everyone would know that he was alive.

How about that!? A surprise ending wasn’t even meant to be quite so surprising at all.

(Oh and of course I asked him to cast me in one of his films. They were currently filming for Trainspotting 2. He gave me the name of his casting director – I emailed her, and alas, never heard back. Maybe next time)

While we’re on the subject of endings, there’s one film that steals it for me for every time.

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If you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ you need to. Incredible slice of cinema.

 

 

What I learnt from an all-night Disney marathon…

I think the last time I pulled an all-nighter was during the last few days before my final year University project had to be handed in.

How I remember those torturous hours of trying to be productive, while also using the library wifi to Netflix ‘Jonathan Creek’.

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But, it was worth it in the end.

On Friday night though, I turned up to the snazzy Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for a Disney marathon. With my girlfriend. We arrived at about 9pm, and didn’t leave until 8am.

I did it though. Didn’t sleep a wink and watched every minute of every flick. I’d seen nearly all of them as a kid – but here’s what I noticed about each one as an adult:

Alice in Wonderland:

I always think that weirdness is more of a modern thing – but that’s clearly not true.

This film is perhaps the most accurate representation of how a dream (or nightmare!) plays out that I’ve ever seen. Also, the Queen of Hearts – what a pain in the arse.

The Jungle Book:

I loved this as a kid. And when ‘the bare necessities’ came on – everyone in the cinema was singing and clapping. It’s great how fond and nostalgic we are of our childhood memories.

Also, as an adult, I now can’t help but relate to Bagheera! Trying to keep his cool, while organising troublesome people around a busy world! Anyone who has worked as a supervisor in a previous life will know that I mean.

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Lilo & Stitch:

Even as a kid those films where everything goes wrong the whole time used to jar me.

It hasn’t changed as an adult!

I didn’t enjoy this at the start – but, as it went on, I got more involved and I thought the FBI agent turned social worker was hilarious.

The Little Mermaid:

This was made in 1989 I think, but its attitudes to women are very, very dated.

Beauty and the Beast:

I loved this as a kid, and it brought back fond memories. How hilarious is Gaston!?

However as an adult, it seems crazy that the Beast is allowed to get away with falsely imprisoning someone just because they walked into his castle!

Aladdin:

I miss Robin Williams.

The Lion King:

I think the biggest thing to take away from this is to never, ever, ever, ever, trust your creepy uncle…

Also, you experience a kind of smugness when you go to an event like this and manage to stay awake. How I scorned upon the others who slept through most of the films.

Still…once I got on the bus back home, tiredness hit me like Mike Tyson. So maybe they were the real winners.