Limitless (2011 dir. Neil Burger) Movie Review

Limitless (2011 dir. Neil Burger) — Movie Review

High concept films are a tough bugger to market.

By reducing an entire movie to a one-sentence description you make the concept easily understandable at a glance—a necessity in today’s over marketed landscape.

On the other hand, reducing a movie to a one-sentence description has the indirect effect of making a movie sound plain dumb.

An imprisoned cannibal helping an FBI agent track down a serial killer removes any hint of the subtle psychological interplay that made Silence of the Lambs the great film it was.

So when I saw the trailer for Limitless, a story about a man that takes a pill that makes him super-smart, I was weary about just how long a concept like that could sustain itself for more than 30 minutes.

There is, however, something of The Twilight Zone about the concept that did appeal to me and so I decided to take a chance.

And I’m glad I did.

Limitless wastes no time in setting up its core concept: a down and out writer is presented with a pill that makes him super smart. In no time at all he completes his novel and is making mass strides in his personal and professional life. As his dependency on the drug grows in the face of a dwindling and finite supply, we are presented with the consequences and dangers of striving to have it all.

The direction is superb: when Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is on the drug, the world around him is lit with bright golden colours and when he’s off it, the colours on screen are dark and subdued – reminding us that our view of the world is determined by the quality of our thoughts or lack thereof.

Cooper himself gives a performance that holds the movie. He makes the jump between the down-and-out and the confident personas seem authentic, which helps suspend your disbelief.

At 105 minutes the film zips along at a heady pace to keep you constantly engaged. Whereas other films may have plodded along with unnecessary explanations or exposition, Limitless is focused on exploring the landscape of its concept quickly and deftly.

The film isn’t without flaws: some plot strands are set-up but never fully paid off or delivered as having lasting effects on the central character, although whether this is intentional as the character’s mind moves fast is debatable.

Look out for Limitless on DVD.

Share
posted by JP at 12:00 am  

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011 – Review

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011 – Review

Note: click here for pictures from London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011.

Bum cleavage — that’s the sight that welcomed me as I made my way to the Excel Centre to set up my stand.

For those that don’t know, a lot of preparation goes into setting up a stand.

There’s the journey to the centre, the wheeling of boxes, setting up and laying out of stock and arranging backing boards and images. What’s more, the whole process has to be done in reverse at the end of the show and with split second timing.

All of the above work invariably involves a lot of bending over, hoisting and lifting, so if you haven’t seen the crack of someone’s arse during the set-up they’re obviously not working hard enough.  

This was my first time at the London Comic Con, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I’d heard from those in the know that there was a large cosplay element, but beyond that I walked into it with eyes wide shut.

The main hall resembled what I imagine Area 51 looks like; weird and wonderful sci-fi stuff all piled high in one big warehouse / aeroplane hanger.

The general vibe was one of an industrial bazaar—imagine a post apocalyptic society where comics and sci-fi merchandise were traded by an underground resistance in hushed tones and under the radar of totalitarian police force and you’re somewhere in the right ballpark.      

While all of this sounds intimidating, the process of exhibiting is made easier by your neighbouring exhibitors. Your neighbouring booth buddies can make the long weekend pleasant or painful. I was lucky in that the guys next to me were super-cool. When I made a rookie mistake of not turning up with a table cloth they turned up the next day with one for me –how decent is that?

My neighbours were selling a form of anime called Yaoi.

My knowledge of anime is limited in the extreme but I found out that Yaoi is a genre of fiction that focuses on male homo-erotic relationships and varies from the emotional to the explicit. The main customer base for Yaoi isn’t guys however, but teenage-plus girls. When my neighbour pointed this out, I didn’t fully appreciate it, but over the weekend I saw hordes of girls plucking £20 notes out of their plastic Oyster card wallets and walking away with slabs of books (all while screaming in heady joy at having secured their latest fix). It was the nearest thing I had seen to “Beetlemania” in comics.

It got me thinking: why don’t modern anglophile comics produce this sort of reaction?

 While people might queue for hours for a Grant Morrison or Mark Millar signing or pay over the odds for some CGC graded Spider-Man #1 or gobble up the latest crossover series, I’ve never seen people react to a piece of western work with such passion.

There is a lot to be said for anime. The first is that the form encompasses so many different genres that the chances of a reader finding something they like or that speaks to them is far greater than the chance of finding something they like in western books. The next is that anime tells complete stories: English volumes of serial Japanese works are collected in black and white books. For £6.99 you can walk away with a hefty 200 pages of anime. For approximately £2.10 you can walk away with 32 pages (coloured) of DC or Marvel action.  

But I digress.

Back to the convention and the footfall on the Friday was brisk, although it could have been brisker. Saturday was when most exhibitors, including myself, made the lion’s share of earnings with the usual last minute buying rush before the convention ended on the Sunday.

As with Kapow, the people that picked up the London Horror Comic for the first time were delighted to discover something a bit quirky and a bit different. As a creator, I can’t tell you what a buzz it truly is having people come up to you and saying how much they enjoyed your work.

Also, as with Kapow, the number of issues I managed to sell in a day of personal selling far exceeded the numbers that a physical shop would shift—at least not without a substantial marketing spend, and even then there’s no guarantee of the amount you’d sell. The best route for independent comics to sell does indeed seem to be online and at conventions.

Having your comic sold in a shop or carried with Diamond adds perceived legitimacy to your work, but whether it is as practical in reaching and establishing the audience you want through exhibiting at conventions is another thing.

Share
posted by JP at 6:53 am  

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011 Photos

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011 Photos

Selection of photos from the event below. Full write-up to follow up once I’ve had a chance to regenerate (i.e. by tomorrow):

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011
London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011

Share
posted by JP at 7:58 pm  

London Horror Comic @ MCM Expo 27-29th May

London Horror Comic @ MCM Expo 27-29th May

MCM Expo London 2011
I’m getting ready for the London Comic Con MCM Expo which runs this Friday 27 May from 14:00 until Sunday 29 May 17:00.

Public Show Opening Times are as follows:
Friday 27th – 14:00pm -19:00pm
Saturday 28th – 9am – 6pm
Sunday 29th – 10am – 5pm.

The London MCM Expo takes place at Excel, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL. Click here for directions.

It’s my first “three-dayer” as an exhibitor and I’m worried that little more than a puddle of flesh will be all that’s left of me come Monday.

Conventions are a lot of work but they are satisfying.

As I’ve said before, conventions mark the final step in the creative process; you’ve got off your arse and are out there making things happen rather than sitting back and waiting for serendipity.

Even though you’re dead on your feet at the end of it, as a self-publisher you feel as if you’ve done right by your work and you sleep a little bit better than most nights.

So if you’re out and about over the Ban Holiday Weekend pop over and say hello.

Share
posted by JP at 12:39 pm  

Big things afoot

Big things afoot

Something that I can only refer to for the moment as Comic Project ‘X’ has landed on my doorstep.

It has a shape. Like looking out of an aeroplane window, I can see the contours of the country I have to traverse, but whether the land is made of mud or concrete is something I’ll discover when I take my first steps.

When you start your first comic project (or even if it’s the third) you have to work with a critical eye, conscious of what you’ve done before.

It’s very easy to develop a sort of golden rut – telling the same story again and again, or morbidly dwelling on one or two recurring themes.

It takes a bit of nerve to stray away from what you’re known for, or even praised for, in favour of doing something new.

But this is what will keep your work fresh in the long run. It will also keep your work contemporary—or at least so forward-looking it will fail to be appreciated in the time it’s published but revered in age where we all have flying cars.

Share
posted by JP at 11:33 am  

Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday

Writing is an unnatural pursuit that frankly turns good men evil.

While most of the UK was out enjoying the splendid sunshine I was holed-up in an undisturbed apartment breaking the back of two scripts.

Come the end of the Bank Holiday there is a feeling of regret—regret that I didn’t make the most of the good weather. But that feeling is balanced out by having two completed scripts.

Sunshine is warm, it helps things grow and even the most concrete urban jungle looks beautiful in its light. Be sure to take a picture though–it will last longer.

Seven-thousand words is a finished script. It’s a clay that’s been spun on a wheel and shaped. It’s something useful. The world and his brother may have had a weekend they’ll never forget, but me, I’ve got a vase.

At the very least it’s something to throw at the people that had a good weekend.

Share
posted by JP at 8:56 pm