JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Directed by: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall

Written by Bianca Garner

Like Burton’s Batman Returns; on the first watch Edward Scissorhands doesn’t jump out as a Christmas film. However; Edward Scissorhands is the perfect Christmas film because it promotes the strength and power of love and family, two things which are essential to Christmas. When asked about the where the concept of Edward Scissorhands came from, Burton explained it came from a drawing he drew as a teenager which reflected his feelings of isolation and being unable to communicate to people around him in suburban Burbank. The drawing was of a thin, serious-looking man with long, sharp blades instead of fingers. Burton stated that he was often alone and had trouble retaining friendships. “I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don’t know exactly why.”

The film begins in a fairytale-like fashion; with an elderly woman telling her granddaughter the story of a young man named Edward who has scissor blades for hands and the reason why it snows every Christmas. As the creation of an old Inventor, Edward (Johnny Depp) is an artificially created human who is almost completed. The Inventor (Vincent Price) homeschools Edward, but suffers a heart attack and dies before he could attach hands to Edward. Some years later, Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), a local Avon door-to-door saleswoman, visits the decrepit Gothic mansion where Edward lives. She finds Edward alone and offers to take him to her home after discovering he is virtually harmless. Peg introduces Edward to her family: her husband Bill, their young son Kevin, and their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Edward must try and adapt to life in the suburbs, becoming a dog groomer and a hairdresser for the ladies of the neighbourhood, and a great show and tell for Kevin. Slowly Edward and Kim grow closer, but there’s one problem to deal with, in the form of Kim’s hot-headed boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall).

The element of Christmas takes a while to appear in the film, and it isn’t until the last act that Edward Scissorhands makes this shift into a Christmas film. However, this isn’t a time of celebration. Edward has become hated by the neighbourhood after being set up for a burglary that he didn’t commit.  Christmas is presented to us as this fake commercial act, where neighbours turn on neighbours and where it seems that bullies get away with their crimes. Burton is making a bold statement here. Instead of Christmas bringing this suburban community together, it has pulled them apart. The neighbourhood has become this place of competition and rivalry, where households seek to outdo each other in terms of who can ‘celebrate’ Christmas the most. As an outsider, Edward is unaware of how to participate in this rivalry and the act of Christmas, and we sympathise with him especially because he has become the scapegoat of all the issues to do with the community.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are moments where the happiness and warmth of Christmas shine through and reinforces what Christmas is really about. The scene where Kim goes out into the backyard to find Edward making an angel ice sculpture, which creates a beautiful sprinkling of snow, helps to show us how the world can be transformed by a little bit of magic. Snow is presented as this simple beauty which has the power to make the world stop and reflect. In this brief moment, all of Kim’s and Edward’s anxieties melt away, and they no longer care regarding other people’s judgements. It is a powerful and iconic scene, which is made more effective by Danny Elfman’s score. This is what Christmas is all about, loving each other and taking part in the small, simple moments.

The power of Edward Scissorhands is how it manages to perfectly capture that loneliness, isolation, and family awkwardness that emerges around Christmas season. To anyone who finds it hard to socialise with distant family members, Edward feels like a kindred spirit. Ultimately, Edward is banished back to the top of the hill, but he manages to escape a life of materialism and fake respect. Many would consider this a somewhat sad ending, but all Christmas films have a touch of sadness to them. Christmas isn’t all tinsel, turkey dinners and presents. It can be a time of isolation and heartache for many. Edward Scissorhands helps us realise that life goes on and that an outsider can still bring happiness in their own way, shown how Edward brings snow to the neighbourhood.

Often Christmas films feel overwhelming, and a film like Edward Scissorhands can offer an alternative. It is a family film which has a strong moral message at its core, which we can all reflect on. Edward Scissorhands reassures us that it’s okay to be different and that everyone is entitled to love. With its moving storyline, stunning and quirky mise-en-scene and beautiful score, Edward Scissorhands is an overlooked classic holiday film which is definitely worth seeking out this Christmas.

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Alien: Covenant – Timeline Explained And The Details You Need To Know

Written by Jo Craig

With the release of ‘Alien: Covenant’ landing this Friday in UK cinemas (US May 19th), and Ridley Scott’s recent blunder unveiling ‘Alien: Awakening’ as the third prequel, preceding possibly another three chapters, heads are starting to roll over the structure behind the franchises timeline. We know ‘Covenant’ will be the official sequel to 2012’s ‘Prometheus’, introducing another crew piloting the titular vessel that discovers an uncharted earth-like planet.

But how will this instalment stand with the previous featurettes, and will the timeline fall into place and tie to the 1979 original?

Let’s take a look at the chronological timeline to date:

‘Prometheus’ (2012) – Year 2091

Kicking things off with the first of Ridley Scott’s prequels, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a star map to the moon, LV-223 and assemble on board the vessel Prometheus to travel to and excavate the uncharted planetoid, creating our first look at humanity’s interaction with the Xenomorph kind. Despite only encountering Facehuggers, with a brief look at an original Alien in the closing scene, the crew only battle with themselves and the attempted lift-off of the Xenomorph spacecraft. Scott never really revisits the confined ambience expressed in the original 1979 story, but makes an impressive representation of scale on LV-223 with the introduction of humanoid aliens and one of the first droids, David (Michael Fassbender).

‘Alien: Awakening’(?) – Set between 2091-2101

Originally featured in an interview with Fandango, Ridley Scott accidentally divulged ‘Awakening’ as his third prequel title, allegedly meant to be set after ‘Prometheus’ but before ‘Covenant’. This is where the timeline became a puzzle. Judging by the fact ‘Covenant’ is supposed to take place a decade after ‘Prometheus’, this would place Awakening somewhere in these ten years. Hopefully ‘Covenant’ will give some insight into what backstory will be featured in the prequel of a prequel.

‘Alien: Covenant’ (2017) – Year 2101

Sailing through the decagon and we’re presently at ‘Covenant’, where a new colonial ship, equipped with a fresh crew and next level droid, Walter (Michael Fassbender), explores a new planet they consider to be an ‘uncharted paradise’. You can find all the details we know about ‘Covenant’ further down this piece.

‘Alien’ (1979) – Year 2122

Discrepancies over what year Scott’s brainchild, ‘Alien’ was set in is still an on-going talking point among resolute aficionado’s, however the consensus states that the journey of the USCSS Nostromo took place around the year 2122, thirty years after the birth of the ships third in command, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and twenty-one years after Prometheus. During the first act, we’re introduced to the Xenomorphs and the discovery of their planet Hiveworld, where executive officer, Kane (John Hurt) is attacked by a Facehugger, later dying from the birth of its spawn, via Kane’s torso, the Chestburster. Ridley Scott and DoP Derek Vanlint created this oppressive nature with tight shots and choking vignettes that set the bar for future chapters.

‘Aliens’ (1986) – Year 2179

Fast forward fifty-seven years, while Ripley and her cat Jones are in hyper sleep, and we arrive at James Cameron’s sequel, logically placing the year as 2179. Although Cameron removed some of the weight previously seen in ‘Alien’, the terrifying threat of the Xenomorphs continued to terrorize Ripley and her return to a now human inhabited Hiveworld to try and exterminate the Alien species with a team of military personnel.

‘Alien 5’ (Rumoured) 

Neill Blomkamp first hinted at his vision of the ‘Alien’ franchise while working with Sigourney Weaver on ‘Chappie’ in 2015, explaining his rendition would forget the events of ‘Alien 3’ and ‘Alien: Resurrection’ to be “more liberal” with the outcome of ‘Aliens’ characters, Newt and Hicks. With Ridley Scott’s assurance that ‘Covenant’ would go into production first, deterring any overshadowing, Blomkamp’s ambiguous sequel was put on “temporary hold” despite Weaver stating to EW “it’s satisfying to me to give this woman an ending.”

‘Alien 3’ (1992) – Year 2179 (approx.)

After another brief hyper sleep on the Sulaco, Ripley crash lands on Fiorina 161, a correctional facility situated on a foundry establishment. Ripley and the inmates lure and capture a Xenomorph that was birthed by one of the prisoners, concluding with the arrival of a rescue cavalry and Ripley’s pre-meditated suicide. Presuming that Ripley only slept within the same year that ‘Aliens’ was set, ‘Alien 3’ is placed within the same year, assuming she was only asleep for a short period of time. David Fincher helmed the third instalment (at the time) resurrecting the art-house horror effect that Scott produced in 1979.

Alien: Resurrection (1997) – Year 2379

Jumping 200 years into the future, Ripley returns as half-human, half droid from the DNA samples taken before her arrival on Fiorina 161. Droid Ripley is created on the USM Auriga, joining the crew to once again attempt to eradicate the Alien species after the escape of imprisoned Xenomorphs that a team of Scientists were experimenting on. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s conclusive excerpt in the franchise appeared to be blatantly unaware of the approach of the previous three films, approving bizarre scriptwriting from Joss Whedon and half-arsed character building. Jeunet never harnesses the character of Ripley, albeit she was a clone, but ‘Resurrection’ does nothing to enhance her or continue Scott’s successful tactility.

What We Know About ‘Covenant’

Filmed in Australia and New Zealand, the sixth film of the series has elements pertaining to the poem of ‘Paradise Lost’, the original title for the film. Initially planning to follow Dr. Elizabeth Shaw on her next adventure, Scott explained that “Paradise cannot be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous” thus revealing groundwork for the current narrative.

PLOT

Travelling to an isolated planet on the far side of the galaxy, crew members, Daniels (Katherine Waterson) and Oram (Billy Crudup) of the colonial vessel Covenant, discover what appears to be undiscovered paradise. Upon this planet, they meet David (Michael Fassbender), the droid survivor from the futile Prometheus mission, and soon encounter an alien life-form that threatens their existence.

It’s clear that Scott wanted to represent ‘Paradise Lost’ from the very start, creating an alleged ‘paradise’ for the Covenant to uncover, later revealing the planets sinister nature when it’s exposed as alien turf.

The film’s original plot failed to hint at Elizabeth Shaw’s return, however after being spotted on an Australian set and added to the IMDB cast list, it is assumed her account will tie into Daniels mission, if only revealed in flashback from David’s account. David is also the only other link that would tie Prometheus to its sequel, as he will surely retell his account of the failed ships endeavour.

WALTER / DAVID   

Firstly, Michael Fassbender is returning to play the previous films droid, David. ‘Covenant’ will explain that after the events of ‘Prometheus’, David travels to the planet of the ‘engineers’, to unearth the creation of mankind and why the Xenomorphs were created (possibly as weapons). “You’ve got to go back and find those Engineers and see what they are thinking,” Scott explained to Deadline.  

Secondly, Fassbender will be portraying an extension to the David-8 synthetic line, Walter, with dark hair and an American accent. While no depth has been divulged for Walter’s role in this film, we know he will be on board the Covenant as part of the crew exploring the new planet.

Ridley Scott’s son, Luke Scott (Morgan), directed a short advertisement, ‘Meet Walter’, unveiling the manufacturing of the droid and the understanding that he has been constructed without human emotions. This is a significant upgrade from David, as Walter is believed to struggle to perceive the concept of friendship with crew member Daniels. Michael Fassbender even described him as similar to Spock.

COVENANT CREW       

Katherine Waterson will play lead, Daniels, alongside Billy Crudup as fellow colonist Christopher Oram. Fassbender will appear as the droids, David and Walter, as well as other crew members, Tennessee (Danny McBride) and Faris (Any Seimetz).

According to the IMDB cast list, Guy Pierce is set to cameo as Peter Weyland, along with a short performance from James Franco, helming the ship as Captain and Daniels’ husband.

RIDLEY’S CREW     

 

While Ridley Scott is directing his third addition to the ‘Alien’ franchise, Scott, Amy Greene (X-Men: First Class) Mark Huffman (Prometheus) and Michael Schaefer (The Martian) will all produce, leaving cinematography to Dariusz Wolski (Pirates of the Caribbean) and music by Jed Kurzil (Assassin’s Creed)

After taking over screenwriting from Jon Spaihts for ‘Prometheus’, ‘Lost’ mastermind, David Lindelof jumped ship on this sequel completely, handing the story over to Jack Paglen (Transcendence) and Michael Green (Green Lantern) with screenplay by John Logan (Gladiator). Green is also penning Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ sequel, proving Scott has a fair amount of trust in Green’s abilities,

With the noteworthy success of ‘Prometheus’, achieving a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, we can expect ‘Alien: Covenant’ to contend as a commendable extension to the ‘Alien’ prequels, created in the safety of originator Ridley Scott. The duality of ‘Paradise Lost’, a theme that moulds the ‘Covenant’ plot, was hinted at in ‘Prometheus’ through Shaw’s excitement at LV-223’s discovery and was cleverly extended and enhanced for its follow-up. The ship’s crew look like they’ve returned to exist within the original franchise, as the ‘Prometheus’ crew appeared too refined and unbreakable in a sense. Michael Fassbender will lend a familiar layer to another unfamiliar vessel and voyage, as well as the return of the evolving Xenomorph species.

Noting from the trailer, it suggests ‘Covenant’ will be similar to its prequel in portraying grand scale with spectacular open terrain, but also harness the smothering environment and tension on the ship as the 1979 original mastered. Audiences will also be keen to find out how ‘Covenant’ will conclude and if it will perhaps give reference to the beginning of the Nostromo.

Overall, ‘Covenant’ will hopefully draw out the clinging terror that brought about the franchises original success, with ten times more Alien action and characters that you don’t want to be squashed by a spaceship donut.

 

 

Watch This Space: November 16 – 22

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Out this week is the final installment of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise, with ‘Mockingjay Part Two’. The film will see the civil war of Panem reach its climax, as Katniss Everdeen (played by the perfectly cast Jennifer Lawrence) leads a group of rebels to the Capitol to assassinate President Snow. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the last film of the exceptional Philip Seymour Hoffman, after tragically passing away last year. The franchise finale is set to be a box-office smash, and for fans of the series this is definitely one to watch.

ON TV

Monday 22:45 GMT: Had a tough Monday? Unwind with the simple but brilliant comedy ‘Meet The Parents’ on BBC1. Easy-watching doesn’t come much easier than this, with slapstick humour aplenty from Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

Tuesday 19:00 GMT: Okay so it might feel too early to get into the Christmas spirit, but Film4 certainly think it’s time. Watch the classic story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, in the modern adaptation ‘Scrooged’, starring Bill Murray as the main miser.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Have an excellent Thursday with the weird and wonderful adventures of ‘Wayne’s World’ on 5*. Check out our review if you need any more persuading. Alternatively, newbies to ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise can see where it all began on Film4.

Friday 23:35 GMT: Loosely based on true events, ‘Badlands’ is all about James Dean lookalike Kit, played by Martin Sheen, and the much younger lady he falls in love with, as they embark on an unfortunate road trip through the South Dakota badlands. Filled with violence and murder, this fantastic Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque film makes BBC2 the place to be this Friday.

Saturday 21:45 GMT: With an outstanding ensemble female cast, including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’ is one of those films that everybody should see at least once. Luckily, BBC2 are on hand to deliver a movie which will make you laugh and break your heart in equal measure.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

The Artist: How can you describe one of the best movie experiences of one’s life?  How can you make a black and white, silent movie set in 1927 (but made in 2011) sound appealing? Would a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% swing it? How about the exemplary French and American cast, including Jean Dujardin and John Goodman? Maybe the quirky plot piques your interest, as silent movie star George and young dancer Peppy’s lives drastically change as the pioneering ‘talking pictures’ take over Hollywood. Reams and reams could be said on behalf of this modern film which says nothing at all, but truth be told, seeing is believing. Beautiful, uplifting and inspired by simpler times, this is one you should definitely seek out.

Mean Streets: It’s Mr Martin Scorsese’s birthday this Tuesday, and whilst this man should be celebrated on a daily basis, now would be as good a time as any. Last week, our Twitter debates focused on the legendary director, with ‘Goodfellas’ crowned his finest work. One film which didn’t feature in the discussions was ‘Mean Streets’. This beautifully crafted crime movie is one of Scorsese’s earlier works, but with the familiar faces of Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in leading roles, its appeal still resonates with today’s audience. Fans of Marty, and the crime genre as a whole, should check this out as a priority.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: It’s not quite the most wonderful time of the year, but the spookiest time of year has officially passed. What better film to settle you in for the transition between holidays than Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion film about Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, as he decides to take over Christmas for one year. With a catchy soundtrack by Danny Elfman, a love story between Jack and Sally, the rag doll, and a heart-warming conclusion, this is the perfect film to watch now those darker nights are settling in.

A Scanner Darkly: Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, this surreal, futuristic film is interesting for many reasons. First of all, the whole thing is shot in a quirky, animated style which gives it a strangely fun feel, which is cleverly contrasted against a narrative focusing on identity, law, surveillance and drug use. Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson and a brilliant performance from Robert Downey Jr, as well as being directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood), this crazy film is executed brilliantly. ‘A Scanner Darkly’ has achieved something of a cult status since its release in 2006, and now is the time for you to find out why.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Sasha Hornby and Jakob Lewis Barnes

Watch This Space: October 12 – 18 [ladies week]

Welcome to a special edition of your weekly go-to film guide. This week, WatchThisSpace is celebrating women in film, so read on and enjoy Molly’s recommendations of some great female performances in the cinema, on the TV and a few of her all time favourites.

IN THE CINEMA

The Women’s Rights movement materialises in ‘Suffragette’, the latest offering from British director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady). The female-heavy cast and crew is headed by Carey Mulligan, while the film intertwines wrenching personal and political tales of female solidarity and strength. ‘Suffragette’ is in cinemas from Monday 12th October.

Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain star alongside Tom Hiddleston in this thriller-come-romantic story from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. Paying homage to gothic romance, ‘Crimson Peak’ is another British must-see, in cinemas from Friday 16th October.

ON THE TV

MONDAY 21:00 GMT: Renée Zellweger stars as the famed awkward, honest and self-conscious titular character in ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, the first installment of this romantic comedy series. With a third movie currently in the works, now is the time to switch to ITV2 and catch the original.

WEDNESDAY 18:20 GMT: A screen adaptation of the Jane Austen novel set in 18th century rural England, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ sees Keira Knightly lead as Elizabeth Bennet in a typical British romance film on Film4.

SATURDAY 22:45 GMT: Carey Mulligan returns to our recommendations with a star performance in ‘Drive’, that saw her nominated for a BAFTA back in 2012. See this thrilling offering from Nicholas Winding-Refn on BBC2.

SUNDAY 18:50 GMT: Feminist campaigner, Angelina Jolie, stars as adventurer Lara Croft in this film adaptation of the video game Tomb Raider. Get into the action with ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ on Syfy this Sunday evening.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Thelma & Louise: An original girl-power film, ‘Thelma & Louise’ was branded controversial upon release, apparently due to the discomfort felt by many male viewers (un-fucking-believable). Geena Davis and Susan Surandon are cast perfectly as two women with a new found drive, confidence and zest for life that serves as a perfect example for females everywhere. What doesn’t serve as such a good influence are many of their impulsive choices – but they make for great viewing nonetheless! Ridley Scott directs the first screenplay from Academy Award-winning Callie Khouri, which would inspire Tori Amos’ famous and chilling tune ‘Me And A Gun’.

Girl, Interrupted: A challenge to observe; ‘Girl, Interrupted’ offers a chilling insight into mental health amongst various female characters with varying mental disorders. Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie and Brittany Murphy all offer standout performances in their own, unique way. The roles of strong and submissive women blur, with seemingly powerful sociopathic Jolie unravelling as the movie progresses, meanwhile protagonist Ryder offers a character that you can never quite decipher. Based on Susanna Keysen’s memoir, the idea that this on-screen depiction has some truth at the root of it makes it all the more fascinating.

Bridesmaids: Not only does ‘Bridesmaids’ signify a funny and successful female comedy, it stands against the best comedies regardless of gender. Kristin Wiig is genius as lead character Annie, a woman still trying to find her way and generally refusing to become the responsible woman that she is expected to be. Alongside best friend and bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph), the duo offer a hilarious take on this major life event, with crude humour catering to both genders and leaving viewers (okay, me) yearning for more.

Erin Brockovich: Where would the list of powerful, shit-hot women in film be without Erin Brockovich? Not only does Julia Roberts provide an inspiring on-screen in character, but we must offer a huge THANK YOU to the real life Erin Brockovich for her phenomenal achievements as a legal clerk and activist, and offering us a woman to aspire to. The true story centres on a legal case against energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company, accused of water contamination in the American town of Hinkley, California. The film covers personal tales, legal struggles and a whole load of stick-it-to-the-man drama.

This week’s special ladies week edition of WatchThisSpace was compiled by Molly Dolan