Film

Neutral’s contributor base is largely made up of film scholars who are keen to share their passion and dedication to the film industry.

Neutral Magazine + Film
Hollywood's Hitmen

By Ethan

No matter how hard Hollywood tries to convince you otherwise with films like Red, Polar, and Mechanic: Resurrection, there’s so much more potential within the sub-genre of hit-man films than being a simple excuse to display copious amounts of violence. Films with stories that follow assassins and contract killers for instance, contain within them the perfect narrative opportunities for explorations into moral ambiguity; placing a spotlight on the constant desire for the excesses of life. The crowning example of this sub-genre, in my opinion, lies in George Armitage’s 1997 cult-hit, Grosse Pointe Blank. Receiving middling to positive reviews upon release - though unfortunately forgotten by most - this is a film that is in my view, perfect.

In it, we follow John Cusack’s Martin Blank (a name with containing several significant meanings), a depressed hit-man who hasn’t even begun to consider the possibility that his profession is the reason for his disillusionment, and Debi Newberry, Martin’s perpetually adolescent high-school sweetheart - played to utter perfection by Minnie Driver. This is the first thing that separates Grosse Pointe Blank from its contemporaries. Never has there been two more charismatic and loveable leads in a film this dark. Their chemistry is electric, adding levity to the gritty subject matter and breathing reality into what is such an impossible story. Proving the point that simplicity is far from detrimental, the plot of Grosse Pointe Blank is as follows: ‘a hit-man must attend his high-school reunion’. Not only is this a story that is rife with comedic opportunity, but it is also one that allows for an exploration into Martin Blank’s past whilst avoiding any unnecessary or irritating scenes of exposition. In fact, from reading the screenplay, it’s very clear that the writers of the film - Jankiewicz, DeVincentis, Pink and Cusack himself - all strongly wanted to avoid over-explanation, with every piece of information we learn about Martin Blank’s personality being revealed to the audience in such brilliantly minute and subtle ways. For instance, we never see Martin sitting with his back to a door or window. He’s always looking over his shoulder, and is clearly worried that someone in the same line of work is out there to finish him off. As well as this, after a scene where he has bumped off a fellow hit-man and disposed of the body with his old school-mate, Paul Spericki, he orders a club soda while Paul orders a whiskey, conveying to the audience that Martin’s done this so many times that he no longer needs to wash the pain away with hard liquor. Lastly, during the reunion itself, Martin shows reluctance to hold an old acquaintance’s baby, staring at him in awe as he realises that everyone he’s killed was once a child just like this - the use of Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ here was such a pitch perfect move.

Martin Blank is a man who is clearly at odds with himself. On one hand he wants to win the love of his life back and retreat to a life of normalcy. On the other hand, Blank wants to be exactly what he’s named after - a blank slate. Someone with no emotional attachment, no past, and someone who is able to blend in anywhere and everywhere without fail. In one of the more telling scenes in the film for instance, he visits his father’s grave. He says nothing, yet through Cusack’s performance, it becomes incredibly apparent he had no love for the man. Martin doesn’t want to become like his father, but he doesn’t know anything else. It’s this discord within him that acts as the primary conflict of the film, not the one between Martin and Dan Aykroyd’s hilariously murderous Mr. Grocer. Lots of reviews upon the film’s release seem to have missed this, finding trouble with the final act of the film and it’s resolution, with many critics describing it as “all-over-the-place” or stating that it “ended like a video game”, with it climaxing in a massive shoot-out, and then with Martin and Debi stereotypically driving into the sunset and living happily ever after. Despite the criticisms of the time, it is this very ending that is just so perfect to me. Not only is this self-destructive streak perfectly in line with what we know about Debi's character up to this point, but the fact that Martin murders five men in the final shoot-out and is rewarded with ultimate happiness, is a fine example of that moral ambiguity that I mentioned earlier. This film is clearly of the belief that very good things can sometimes happen to very bad people.

Grosse Pointe Blank is the absolute pinnacle of not only hit-man films, but 90s American Cinema. It contains heart, humour, richly detailed characters, and absolutely wonderful interactions and dialogue. The film makes you care for characters that in the hands of a lesser director or writers, would leave you feeling completely and totally justified in despising. And that’s where Grosse Pointe Blank succeeds where others fail.

That it oozes likability and charm, in an extremely unlikeable and charmless situation.

Neutral Magazine + Film
The importance of how Another Round examines alcohol’s place in society

By George Norman - George.norman@yorksj.ac.uk

Thomas Vinterberg’s latest cinematic export gifted me three things to walk away with. A brilliantly emotional new favourite film, an introduction to the funk band The Meters and a lasting contemplation on the place of alcohol in society. The latter is a major focus of the film, along with an examination of dwindling middle age masculinity, with Vinterberg and company covering the entire spectrum of effects of alcohol spanning both positive and negative.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Martin is a middle-aged teacher who has lost faith in his ability as a man, a husband, a teacher and a father. This is all until his colleague and friend proposes an academic experiment to investigate the hypothesis that humans are born with a lower blood alcohol level than they are supposed to. Ultimately, taking matters into their own hands slowly raising the level they drink during work hours. While the premise is reminiscent of a Mitchell and Webb sketch and humour is an aspect of the film, the more sombre and emotional moments allow for an ever-present tragic streak in the characters actions.

As reliance starts to become apparent no matter how much more confident,

productive or compassionate it makes them. The tragedy of the film slowly builds in the background of even the most comedic scenes with reliance turning to addiction. One character even passing on the knowledge of their dangerous discovery onto one of their students for a bit of ‘Danish’ courage with an exam not realising the implication of how the student will carry that forward through their academic career. Climaxing with an ambiguous dance number, the ending finds Martin finally having possible acceptance of himself or falling off the wagon again. The film masterfully navigates tone and emotion while remaining grounded in realism due to the characters suffering repercussions to their actions, unlike most films centred around drinking, and maintaining this tragic undercurrent is what made the film so personally effective.

As a student, alcohol is naturally a prominent aspect of my social life and I too share Martin’s burden of self-doubt which have I also found, like the characters, that alcohol can be used to combat this. Seeing this real-world solution shown in a more negative light than other media, provided a significant wake-up call regarding its usage particularly in the student community. This has been playing on my mind since I exited the cinema as these negative repercussions have reared their head into my life too. This is because of it being viewed as a solution, admittedly not as life destroying of an effect but an effect, nonetheless. Through this refreshing look at the short term uses of alcohol, the film forces its viewer, as it has with me, to consider the implications of everyday life. This is by presenting it in such a well-performed and gorgeously lit piece, to present what may be a hard-to-swallow pill to most regarding social reliance wrapped up in a bow. I believe it to be a far more significant accolade than any academy award or singular merit bestowed upon it.

Neutral Magazine + Film
BBC One’s Time: Finding comfort in dark places

By Grace Pheasey - Grace.pheasey@yorksj.ac.uk

The power of television has been reimagined once again. In June, BBC One released a new three-part series, Time, directed by Jimmy McGovern to give a heart wrenching insight into prison life. Following characters Mark Cobden (Sean Bean) serving a 4-year sentence for a fatal drunk-driving incident, and Eric McNally (Stephen Graham) a prison officer of 22 years. The drama foregrounds Britain’s prison system, taking the audience through the procedures and formalities of being assigned into the cell. This story of punishment holds deep emotional links as life inside the prison is told from two contrasting sides, one who broke the law and one who works to uphold it. Over three episodes, the audience is taken inside Liverpool’s prison telling a story of punishment, guilt and forgiveness. Jimmy McGovern shares a remarkable story as to how two individuals try and find comfort in dark places.

Time is something precious but inside prison,

it is something that dreamt of being fast-forwarded. The title of this show is a host for multiple interpretations. The most obvious being the time for punishment, an insight into the crimes committed and length of punishment. As a first-offender, Mark’s inexperience to crime becomes a key factor to how the prison treats him. For Eric, his 22-years’ experience leads to the unimaginable, finding himself colluding with the inside gangs in a bid to protect his felonious son. The concept of time also becomes part of both character development and events that happen within the prison. Throughout the series, Mark learns about the treatment of inmates who ‘snitch’ often referred to as “rats”. Mark Cobden’s innocence to crime is an intimate thread that is narrated consistently in the drama, revealing his emotional journey in digesting and understanding how his actions led to his crime.

The essence of the title is threaded through the narrative, with McGovern using flashbacks and foreshadowing to reveal the extent of Mark Cobden’s crime. Time becomes a platform for truth, displayed through nightmares during Mark’s first night in his cell. In the darkness of the night, alcohol becomes the culprit for making Mark guilty, as it is revealed his drunk-driving has cost the life of an innocent man. In the first episode, this series of nightmares characterises Mark’s journey in prison, documenting his acknowledgement, shock and impact of his crime. This is juxtaposed by Mark’s cell mate, Bernard (Aneurin Barnard) who self-harms as a coping mechanism. The prison system is exposed to be in an unforgiving and helpless state, reflected in the outbursts of violence and coordinated acts demonstrated by inmates. The series highlights the failure of the prison system in offering support or confinement. McGovern uses emotional themes to explore current talking points within society, a confident performance over a 3-part series.

The theme of innocence is an interesting one. Told from Stephen Graham’s character Eric, his knowledge of the prison system prepares him for his most controversial act yet – smuggling drugs into a high security prison. Having spent years working to uphold the law, Eric is at the mercy of the violent gang in an attempt to expose how hierarchy and power can become transparent against crime and punishment. In a conflicting tale, the emotional resonance of this narrative positions to the audience to feel empathetic to what Eric must do in order to protect his son. The dual narrative strands of both Eric and Mark help to highlight how the prison system has no discrimination to positions of power, revealing how crime can offer a cycle of punishment and violence. Time has seamlessly directed a realistic impression of Liverpool’s prison, representing the nature of how inmates deal with serving time and the time that follows.

The work of McGovern is truly spectacular, creating an honest account of the British prison system and the impact of serving time. Central to this is mental health. From the outset, the audience is taken to the darkest corners of crime and the impacts it has under confinement and regulations. Mark’s awareness of prison life is harmonised with that of the audience, both who have a familiar innocence to life behind bars. McGovern foregrounded the importance of mental health by relating to the experiences of inmates, the cycle of crime, a start to how the system acts and responds to life inside.

Forgiveness can’t always be repaid, but Time puts guilt into perspective. In a concluding acknowledgment for Mark Cobden, serving time in prison brought sobriety and a newfound perspective for his former life. For Eric, a crime was the answer to protect his son from experiencing the violence that he spent years observing. Time perfectly told a story about the inner battle, moral conscious and the road to recovery. In a parallel story of two characters, prison was an environment to breed or overcome past wrongdoing. Time told the story of facing the darkness to find out what must come next, leaving both characters in a state of change. In the end, we learn that time is a harrowing process, one that can quickly change your course, yet can take an age to amend.

Neutral Magazine + Film
How I learnt to love the Cinema

By Matthew Peyton | Film Studies | Insta: limelight_reviews

The Cinema. When you hear this you most likely will imagine the comically oversized popcorn boxes. Or perhaps the excitement of slowly walking through the dimly lit corridors, doors on either side of you where you can hear muffled explosions, screams, laughter, sobbing, and cheering. Maybe you think of the towering silver screen before you, like a daunting monolith waiting to transport you to fantastical worlds or show you wonders that could only be dreamed of. You could even be one of the individuals who feel as though they have to sit through all of the adverts at the start of the film to get the full cinema experience.

But alas, many of us have been unable to return to the cinema. To try and say that this year has being a roller-coaster would be redundant at this point. But what I have noticed is how we have tried to recreate the magic of going to the cinema and the wonder of films, like we have seen them for the first time again. This could have been done by perhaps watching something you've never seen before. I know from my personal experiences I have watched some things that I would have never watched before. Recently my girlfriend sat me down and made me watch all three Bridget Jones films, and I did get rather involved with the story. Or maybe you have tried to recreate the spectacle that films offer you, I have recently shown my girlfriend every piece of Star Wars material there is, and what represents the majesty of film’s more than this dramatic space opera franchise.

It was then I started to realise, over this past year we have arguably been so malnourished of new and different media that we are looking back to the past to try and find what we have lost.

Gone are the movie events with things like Marvel and Star Wars. No longer could we see these deep intricate indie darlings or melodramatic dramas, filled with beige and grey colour palettes. It was at this moment I believe we collectively as a group, realised how much cinema means to us. I remember when cinemas did open back up, whilst I didn't attend any screenings, I did hear from people of how glad they could finally return. This punctuates the point that going to the cinema and watching something on those ginormous screens was nothing short of an event.

But we tried to replicate this event as best we could, however. I have binged the whole of Star Trek, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Ocean's Eleven, Bridget Jones, The Mummy, The Universal Monster Movie, and Marvel franchises. All of this was done to replicate the event of going to the cinema. And through all of these films, the good and the bad, I found a new appreciation for them, since they allowed me to experience what we have lost over this past year.

I have always had an appreciation and love for the cinema and films as a whole, from being shown westerns and horror films growing up, to working toward a degree in Film Studies. My love of cinema is fairly set-in stone. But as mentioned previously,

over this past year I have managed to stop and look at what it is I love and have been lucky enough to experience it once again and fall in love with it once more.

Neutral Magazine + Media
Little Women review: A modern twist on the original novel

By Harriet Snowden - Harriet.snowden@yorksj.ac.uk

With numerous TV series, to several adaptations of the film, ‘Little Women’ is an extremely popular piece of fiction with an already well-established fan base. Therefore, with an all-star cast, Greta Gerwig as director and Louisa May Alcott’s spectacular writing, the 2019 screenplay was always bound for success. From its distinct filming locations to gorgeous costume design, Greta was not only able to capture the novel in a way that was different to almost any of her other work, but it felt like she had almost revolutionised it into something we could almost imagine within the 21st century. Unlike most period pieces, the film contained extremely humorous moments along with witty comments throughout, from the dance scene that took place between Jo and Laurie, to the sarcastic one liners from Meryl Streep’s character that helped the film to feel modern whilst being framed in a 19th century backdrop.

Whilst the level of production and attention to detail that has gone into the making of this film is extraordinary,

the cast, picked to play each character within the film has also been carefully chosen to reflect the imagination taken away from the original novel. From Saoirse Ronan, to Timothée Chalamet and Meryl Streep, Gerwig not only worked closely with the cast prior to filming, from previous projects such as ‘Ladybird’ with both Chalamet and Ronan, but having this relationship from the outset allowed actors to be creative throughout particular scenes. For example, there is a significant scene with both Laurie and John Brooke’s character, where Chalamet decided halfway through filming, to stand on the table. Not only did this create a wider shot, capturing the entirety of the lavish set design, but it also both physically and narratively heightened the sense of drama flowing throughout the storyline. From spontaneous moments such as this, we as the viewer are able to analyse just how Gerwig approached the filming process, to ensure it was taken in a different direction to previous adaptations, whilst also being quite spontaneous at the same time.

Although several scenes throughout the film, were able to replicate and stick to previous adaptations in order for the movie to be as authentic as possible, there were numerous sections, Gerwig envisioned in a particular way. For example, as I’ve briefly mentioned the locations and set design were not only specific to the original novel but in terms of filming they were actually shot close to Alcott’s original home that she too shared along with her siblings. Therefore, when filming it would have definitely helped many members of the cast get into character and almost fully imagine the surroundings described in the book.

With the release of this new adaptation, it is safe to say that with Greta Gerwig, as director it is not surprising the film has been such a huge success at the box office. It was not only able to evoke the same emotion and sympathy we have for Beth’s character like the book was able to do, but it also achieved a sense of fulfilment towards the end, especially in relation to Jo’s character, who’s writing achievements were highlighted more so within this adaptation of the film. Showing just how far women have and continue to go in terms of having a career that suits them within a society where this was not easy to achieve.

Ultimately, as a fan of the novel, I would say for anyone interested in going to see this new release at the cinema, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, if you are aware of the novel, then this adaptation puts a modern twist on the original which may not be to everyone’s taste. However, I believe this simply adds to the unique storyline. Secondly, if you are simply a fan of the cast, then this film does not disappoint. From Chalamet’s charm that contributes to Laurie’s shy manner, alongside Emma Watson’s spectacular performance portraying a character not too dissimilar from herself, with strong female attributes.

OverallI would argue that this film is simply a must see for anyone interested in a feel good, period drama with the portrayal of a families struggles and successes at the heart of it. ,

Neutral Magazine + Film
What Herzog brings to the documentary table

By Charles Brenton - Charles.brenton@yorksj.ac.uk

To the untrained eye, documentary can seem to be nothing more than what its name implies, ‘documenting’. But it is in fact so much more complex than people realise. It cannot be denied that more conventional forms of documentary never seem to branch out of their comfort zone when it comes to the interpretation and presentation of the topics at hand, but in terms of the genre as a whole, documentary is vast and there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. The German director and documentarian Werner Herzog is a prime example of this. Since film as an art form tightly clasped in the hands of subjectivity, its often hard to pinpoint key subsections of genres that offer the most extreme examples of subversion. Luckily, Herzog’s documentary filmography and its level of absurdity in relation to conventional documentary allows him to stand out as a key innovator and cornerstone of the genre.

Herzog grew up in post-war Germany, experiencing the harshness of reality as he and his family struggled to live in the war-torn conditions.
It can be argued that this upbringing is perhaps what conditioned him into making the filmic decisions he does in his future. After stealing a film camera from his university and justifying it on the grounds that it is his right to create film. Herzog’s career began. His filmography outside of documentary consists of mainly period dramas revolving around the most obscure topics. Whether it be an adaptation or an original screenplay, Herzog chose the most bombastic stories to present through his own lens. The best example of this from his earlier work would be ‘Woyzeck’ (1979) which follows a man driven to his emotional and physical limits after being the subject of an experiment where his diet only consists of peas. This absurdity does not stop at Herzog’s fictional work. It transcends the plane of fictionality and makes its way into his documentaries, a genre that’s heavily fortified by nonfiction and reality.

Before delving into the complexities of Herzog’s documentaries, and what makes them stand out amongst other entries in the genres saturated contents, it’s important to point out that there is rarely correlation between any 2 of the contexts that Herzog documents. Whereas David Attenborough is almost synonymous with nature documentaries at this point in time, Herzog will pick topics that he himself finds appealing as opposed to what the convention of the genre finds appealing. If we refer back to the notion of fiction, then it makes it easier to understand a handful of his documentaries. ‘Lessons of Darkness’ (1992) and ‘The Wild Blue Yonder’ (2005) are just two examples of how Herzog adds a fictious context to his very real and distressing imagery. Lessons of Darkness covers the harrowing events of the Gulf War in Kuwait… or does it?

Within the documentary, Herzog paints the context out to be that of a war on a distant planet, framing the humans as aliens and the burning landscape as a planet far away. Despite this, there are none of the fantastical elements that coincide with science fiction within this film. He does not refrain from picturing the devastation of landscapes and the trauma of lost loved ones, but instead consistently reminds the viewer that what you are watching takes place on a distant world. This is obviously hard to comprehend and believe as the footage of towering flames and demolished cities is ingrained into history as being the focal image of the Gulf War. Take Sam Mendes ‘Jarhead’ (2005) for example, the lit-up oil wells act as almost the poster for the Gulf War when examined in hindsight. ‘The Wild Blue Yonder’ takes this paradoxical nature of Herzog’s documentaries to a whole other level. The entirety of the documentary is a self-reflection from a proclaimed ‘alien’ about the death of his species and his planet. The footage of the most derelict parts of America and the events of the workings of a space station when paired together under an intense operatic soundtrack result in something very unique and completely devoid of anything conventional within documentary. Since two strong examples of Herzog’s subversion to the documentary genre have been outlined, it’s important to touch on what makes a documentary ‘Herzogian’. While there are many factors, the most prominent one in my eyes would be the element of narration within his documentaries. Narration is used to explain the events on screen and to provide a narrative to what we are viewing; for example, to paint a snake as a predator to a group of more appealing animals within a nature documentary. Because of this, narration only feels like a layer of documentary. Herzog’s iconic raspy German accent and his verbal interpretations within his documentaries allow his narration to feel embedded into his topics as opposed to just being there for exposition purposes. Herzog’s narration is so prominent within his work that he can shift the discourse of a topic he is covering to be more about him that it should be. Two examples of this would be ‘Grizzly Man’ (2005) and ‘Little Dieter Needs to Fly’ (1997). Both topics cover remarkable tales of survival. ‘Grizzly Man’ depicts Timothy Treadwell, a man who spent years on a nature reserve living amongst wild bears, whereas ‘Little Dieter’ follows the miraculous survival of German pilot turned POW Dieter Dengler who overcame the impossible and made it out of the harshness of the jungle to become a free man again.

Regardless of how impactful and amazing these topics are, they still manage to feel like they BELONG to Herzog, as if he conceived them. In conclusion, whether it be the topics of choice, or the way Herzog handles them, either from a distant fictional perspective or a close examination, Herzog is woven into the documentaries he creates as opposed to just being a curator. He does not just ‘cover’ topics, he embraces them, chews them up and spits them out in a way that I believe no other documentarian could.

Neutral Magazine + Film
The New Horror: Censor

By George Norman - George.norman@yorksj.ac.uk

Fittingly dreamlike and directed with brilliant burgeoning talent from Prano Bailey-Bond, Censor is the new horror. To be critical of its portrayal, I feel it strays too far into ambiguity to provide an earned feeling towards its plot development. Some aspects in particular occurring just to move important aspects of the plot along with no sign of a coherent explanation, i.e. the leak to the press. The film does provide an engaging central plot, however, that gives a truly interesting inversion of the mass view. At the time of Censor’s being knights in shining armour against the darkness of the supposedly sick and twisted filmmakers behind the video nasties. The film is an inversion that dives headfirst into the time period, its gore being reminiscent of the low budget methods utilised in the banned pieces. Examining the disconnect between Censor and film is also an area where the film excels.

In particular, the use of glasses as a shield when Enid partakes in a viewing.

The central paranoid mystery is seemingly confusing on purpose purely to add to the air of mystery that is exceptionally well maintained for the most part. This is all preserved through presentation alone, so to add to it through this method of attempted subtle ambiguity is surplus to requirements as it just leaves the viewer in a state of confusion with no payoff to said confusion, unlike the similar situation in Berberian Sound Studio. The main role is held down particularly well with Niamh Algar really selling the journey and trauma of the character at every turn leading to a climax centred around the facade her consciousness has built up over the runtime crumbling down in a fascinating manner. Overall, the film is still incredibly enjoyable despite its flaws, lacking execution from what it sets out to do, but is a truly clever debut by Bailey-Bond showing plenty of promise, that will hopefully be explored soon.

Neutral Magazine + Film
To Boldly Go Where No Fan Has Gone Before: A Brief Look into the Star Trek Fandom in the 1970s

By Roman Manson

The Star Trek franchise spans over multiple series, films, animated series, television shorts, theme parks, exhibits and even multiple forms of games.

The Star Trek fandom began with its first series Star Trek – also referred to as Star Trek: The Original Series. It first aired on the NBC network in 1966 but its ratings were low, and it was cancelled in 1969 after just three seasons. Several years later the broadcasting rights were purchased, and it was re-aired throughout the 70’s which is when the show started gaining cult status and an influence on popular culture.

In the early days of Star Trek fandom,
in the absence of the internet, the fans created various methods of long-distance fandom participation and communication. The most prolific of which being fanzines – magazines written, illustrated, edited, and published by fans by hand and not for monetary gain. While there were a few zines published during the original airing of the show many of the zines were created after the fact. The first Star Trek centred fanzine ever published was titled “Spockanalia”, it gained quite a bit of attention with the second issue including letters from actors in the show. In 1968 when Star Trek was reportedly going to be cancelled after the second season, a letter-writing campaign was organised – partly through fanzines – and likely led to the show getting a third season. The zines were also frequently parodied. One parody titled “A Trekkie’s Tale” written in 1972 included a character called Mary Sue. Mary Sue was the epitome of the young, beautiful, flawless, love interest often featured in the fanfictions written in the Star Trek fanzines. By 1985 the concept of a Mary Sue continued to crash fanfiction community lines, and by 2002 the definition of Mary Sue began to change as Mary Sue became further and further removed from her roots. Now the Mary Sue character is hardly recognised as having originated from a Star Trek fanfiction parody.

Do you remember “Spockanalia”, the fanzine I mentioned? Well,
the co-editors – Sherna Comerford Burley and Devra Langsam – organised the first known Star Trek convention. Simply called “The Star Trek Con” it was held at the Newark Public Library in 1969, it was low-key, celebrity free, and welcomed around 300 attendees. The flyer advertised “an adult, interesting event on the subject of a most controversial part of today’s science fiction scene” and mentioned plans of including a slide show - a tour of the stage sets using cutting room film clips – along with a display, pro guest speakers, and a satirical stage presentation.

Despite the acknowledgment of “The Star Trek Con”, “Star Trek Lives” is often credited as being the first Star Trek-centred convention. Held in 1972 at the Statler Hilton in New York, the organisers expected around 500 patrons, but as the count reached 3,000, they had to stop letting people in. Unlike “The Star Trek Con”, “Star Trek Lives” actually had actors and creators from the show making appearances. The convention also included an art show, a costume call (an event focusing on cosplay), and even NASA space displays. This convention proceeded to run annually until 1976.

Another stranger aspect of the Star Trek fan community, which I will touch upon lightly,
is the fan’s involvement in the “filk” music genre. “Filk” music is often folk music with science-fiction based lyrics, some of these are parodies of pre-released music and some are 100% original. The sheet music for “filk” songs were sometimes included in fanzines or were even entire fanzines of their own.

So, how did avid Star Trek fans find each other and their content during an era that had no internet access? Well, founded in 1972 the “Star Trek Welcommittee” was the fandoms’ main information centre for connecting with others, and for assisting newcomers in finding local fan clubs, fanzines, and conventions. The “Welcomittee” maintained a good relationship with the show’s creator Gene Roddenbury and Paramount (the franchise’s producer and distributor); in return for promoting the show with fans they were given information, much of which was passed along in its newsletter – “A Piece of the Action”. It is impossible to speculate how many Star Trek fans existed back when it first started gaining traction, and it is still impossible now. The rise of the internet has naturally expanded the fanbase – Guardian writer Damien Walter suggests that “The 50% of the early world wide web that wasn’t porn was made up of Star Trek: The Next Generation fansites”. But it must be said that the Star Trek fandom started from humble beginnings and is now a huge worldwide collection of fans of a science-fiction franchise dedicated to going where no man has gone before.

Neutral Magazine + Film
No Time To Die, James Bond – More like More Time to Wait?

By Kelly Blanchard - Kelly.blanchard@yorksj.ac.uk

James Bond was scheduled to return in the December of 2019 but after the extraordinary of events of the Covid pandemic, the film will finally be released in Autumn 2021. Audiences and devotees of the franchise have been sat waiting whilst other Hollywood films have returned through subscription and demand platforms. Fans of the iconic franchise have witnessed various delays, dashed hopes and frustrations and the film has even been rumoured to re-assemble some scenes as the product placement icons within it have gone out of date.

No Time To Die first hit our radars with the initial trailer release in April 2020,

heralding the concluding chapter for Daniel Craig and his part in the 25th film for the James Bond legacy. Cinema has been impacted massively and frequently by the Coronavirus pandemic with this instalment of the franchise rescheduled for September this year. But what does this reveal about the film industry?

If lockdown has taught us anything, it is that we have the time (like it or not) to be selective in what media we want to consume. For those with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+ to Disney+, accessing media content has never been more accessible. Watching TV shows and films is at our fingertips has boomed over recent years with Netflix producing their own exclusive films and Disney+ hosting our classic favourites. A personal favourite of mine has been the Marvel collection on Disney+ with Black Widow being a new instalment which has stirred up its own controversy as to the changes to distribution and cinema release. Cinematic experiences have been drastically altered due to the pandemic, placing the control on the audience to select and choose once cinemas re-opened, with some still feeling nervous about spending time with crowds in indoor spaces. The feature of film giants Marvel and Disney have highlighted that big franchises can still be successful without cinema screenings. It was revealed that in 2021, Disney+ has reached 116 million subscribers worldwide at a comparison to Netflix with 208 million followers. With an increase in online subscription for media, will the traditional experiences of content start to fade?

A wide audience is reached through subscription services so why are those involved in No Time To Die still adamant on its cinema release. It may be that the franchise sits outside of the current 'extended universe' trend in Disney owned franchises, that is so well recognised as a cinematic experience spanning decades, or that fans themselves (including me!) see it as a primarily collective, cinematic event.

Some cinemas have sought to enhance the film going experience by offering boutique enhancements such as drinks promotion with the likes of the Odeon and Everyman chains touting vodka martini tie ins. The Bond franchise, with its glamour and hedonistic charm, is perhaps the perfect franchise for this type of marketing, in opposition to the domestic viewing environment.

The names Bond, James Bond. A name that speaks for itself and stands tall amongst other long living franchises. But from 2019 to 2021, fans and the world are still in anticipation for what the film actually holds and for some, patience may have run out, only time will tell. In recent news and with the pandemic still causing turmoil around the world, No Time To Die has been rescheduled further for Australia with its release date being moved once more. In the UK the arrival of No Time To Die is set to happen, let's hope it is worth the wait!