Sunday, 27 January 2013

FILM #13 LINCOLN (27.1.13)



It's Spielberg, it's got Daniel Day-Lewis, it's about the most loved president in the history of America and it's 150 minutes long! How can it not win an Oscar?

Wow! What's not to like? Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't make a bad movie if his children's lives depended on it. I can't wait for the day he does a Liam Nesson and makes a kick-ass action film. In fact, I can't wait for a film that teams him and Liam up in a full-on action flick written and directed by Luc Besson in some sort of blood soaked, action masterpiece set in Euroland!

Now that would be utterly fantastic! But until then we have Daniel as Lincoln in this deeply satisfying and gripping political, historical drama filled with yet more first class acting from a slew of great character actors.

The historical stuff was utterly fascinating and I came away feeling I had learned a great deal about Lincoln, for example, I seriously had no idea that he was so bloody and genuinely funny. At one point in this film one of the characters actually runs off rather than listen to yet another one of Lincoln's funny stories, which is a shame because it's damn funny story about a man having a shit (seriously)! He really was America's first stand up comic. And despite knowing the outcome of the film, when the actual vote on the amendment finally comes, it's incredibly gripping!

Fascinating stuff and those 150 minutes seemed to fly by. No need for a single toilet break!

And the best thing, apart from the 13th Amendment being passed freeing the slaves? There wasn't a single teenager in the cinema and not a single mobile phone lit up or went off.


FILM #12 LAST STAND (26.1.13)


Arnie Action Film Check list.

1. Arnie must say: "I'll be back."  TICK!
2. Arnie must now reference his age by saying: "I'm too old for dis shit." (or similar) TICK!
3. Arnie must face the baddy for a mano-a-mano showdown at the climax of the movie. TICK!
4. The film must have a deranged baddy. TICK!  
5. Arnie must have a wise-cracking sidekick TICK!  (x4!)
6. Arnie must carry, or fire a huge machine gun which is at least as big as he is. TICK!   
7. Arnie must, in at least one scene, wear sunglasses. TICK! 
8. Arnie's character MUST have a background either as an elite soldier, lawman or DEA agent.  TICK!   
9. Arnie must, at some point during the film, be seen to 'gear-up' with a huge array of weapons. TICK! 
10. One of Arnie's 'team' will have to die to motivate Arnie to get 'back in der saddle', so to speak. TICK! 

Welcome back to the old-school action flick, thanks to the return of its king, Arnie! Der King of der vun liner is bach too bring der pain! In his first starring film since 2003's Terminator 3.

And have no doubts, this film is old-school with a capital 'O'! As in "OOOH MY GOD, I'M COMING!!"

Gone are the dreadful shaky-cam or fast editing that ruined so many recent action films, this was solid, wham-bam thank-you-mam action - 90's style! Light on angst but heavy on hot, sweaty, gun porn. Long, loving, lingering shots of bullets sliding into gapping breaches, full magazines slapped into butts, shells pumped into barrels and countless close-ups of guns spurting endless streams of rounds into bodies, cars and buildings in huge gouts of blood, gore, glass, metal and brick dust.

Obviously, because Arnie ain't as young or fast as he used to be, the baddies in this film decide to play by Marquis of Queensbury Gun-Battle Rules and only shoot in strict turns and then only after one of the goodies has fired first. Luckily too, the baddies have made an unseen vow not take advantage of the goodies, even if they have them dead-to-rights in their sights and to let them get away and regroup. In this film the heroes survive multiple gun shot wounds and even a rocket strike while the bad guys go down after a single shot, unless of course it looks better to dance as 17 shots rip through your chest. The bad guy's lead henchman has a gun that never needs reloading and getting stabbed multiple times in the thighs with a six inch blade means you might end up with a slight limp and a bandaid but not all of your blood pouring out of your body.

This was silly stuff that never took itself even remotely seriously, chocker-block full of gun battles, punch-ups and fast and furious car chases, it's every thing you want from an action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and while it was on I enjoyed it, thoroughly. Although afterwards I had shower to try and wash away the guilt.


Film #11 Movie 43: an apology.

On a second read-thru I felt my review for Movie 43 was perhaps a tad harsh and I would like to correct that with a more reasoned and tempered review. Please disregard my previous review. 
 Film #11 Movie 43
Without a doubt, the single worst film of the year and it's still on January. I don't think anything else will even come close to being as utterly piss poor as this sorry sac of shit.

Avoid like the plague.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

FILM #11: MOVIE 43

Film #11 Movie 43 (26.1.13)

There's a reason none of us should ever go and see a film that gets released by a studio unseen by anyone other than that studio. The film in question is going to be an unmitigated, despicable, vile, excremental, worthless, unfunny, odious, putrid pile of steaming horse shit that's been run over by a truck carrying rancid piss to a vomiting convention.

Movie 43 was such film.

And with that much information you should be able to work out exactly what it was like.

Every single person involved with this film's production should hang their heads in abject shame. Shame on you! Shame!

1/10 (the single point is for the sketch about machines being filled with tiny children and Stephen Merchant's penis tattoo)

Film #10 The Sessions (24.1.13)

#10 The Sessions

John Hawkes. Helen Hunt. William H. Macy. Moon Bloodgood

John Hawkes plays Mark O'Brien, a man paralysed from the neck down by polio who decides to lose his virginity and hires a sex surrogate, Helen Hunt to help him.


Cue lots of sexy time, high speed chases, smutty jokes, crude teen comedy moments and a very important life lesson about meaningful relationships being more important than a knee-trembler in the back alley, especially if you're stuck in an iron lung.


After a diet of action films, docu-dramas, musicals, gangster films and comedies, it's strange to go and see a film about a paralysed man, who spends the whole film lying down, dealing with issues that don't normally get talked about. I found it a fascinating, thought-provoking experience. John Hawkes was superb in the role as was Helen Hunt in hers. The very surprising thing about this film was that despite the full nudity, the actual sex was never presented as titillating or exploitative.

The film has some very funny moments, in particular John's ongoing conversations with his priest played by Macy, although I began to find most of the character mildly irritating.

And the ending with the cat was an emotional button-push too far!


Animated films.

Animated films arrive now with all the frequency of buses, you know, you wait ages for one then 50 turn up at the same time. When I were a nipper, animated films came around maybe once a year, they were all made by Disney and it was mandatory that the first film kids saw at the cinema was animated. Luckily for me, my mother was a real rebel and made sure my first cinematic experience  was The Italian Job. Thanks mum!

 Nowadays not a week goes past without the latest animated release and frankly I'm bored rigid by most of them. If it's not Pixar (who I love, by the way) it's DreamWorks or Blue Sky or Sony ejaculating their garish pixel yoghurt at all over our faces in huge streams of data. "YOU LOVE IT!" they scream as it washes over us, endless ropes of wise cracking, sassy animals, crazy kids and cardboard thin baddies with gags for all the family, mums and dads. All that is except Pixar who still seem to strive for some sort of excellence, obviously ignoring the vileness of Cars and Cars 2.

With so many films it's easy for good and original animated films, say the likes of ParaNorman, Pirates vs Scientists and Frankenweenie to get swamped under the weight of Hotel Trannie, Chance of Meat Bollocks, Snoorerax, etc etc and overlooked, making it less likely that left-of-field animated fare gets dropped and we're left with the usual generic animated junk that clutters up each and every half-term and holiday.

A quick look at this year's animated releases is almost overwhelming! There's over 20 animated feature films scheduled for our screens in 2013 and only one of them is a Pixar film. God help us all.

But I'm predicting that the winner of the Oscar for best animated film at next year's Oscars will be this!

Remember you read it here first.

Film #9 Wreck It Ralph (22.1.13)

#9 Wreck It Ralph

John C. Reily. Sarah Silverman. Jack MacBrayer. Jane Lynch.

After 30 years, video game character, Ralph (John C. Reily) has had enough of being the bad guy and sets out on a quest to win validation and thereby acceptance. Leaving his video game, his Heart of Darkness voyage of discovery takes him deep up the into the lair of King Kandy in the land of Sugar Rush.

Oh the fun! The fun!

It's good to see a Disney animated film at the cinema, there was a time when that meant something. You knew you were in for a good time. And where as Wreck It Ralph isn't classic Disney it's still a whole lot of fun and a whole lot better than most of last year's animated fare. It looks great, it's knowledge of video games lore is peerless and it has some very funny moments. And for once the 3D works very well. Ralph is a great character and the best parts of this film are his 'fish-out-of-water' moments - his therapy sessions with other bad guys, and when he ends up in a first person shooter game. The film loses momentum when Ralph lands in the Sugar Rush game and the actual plot kicks in. It's not that there's anything necessarily that wrong with the plot, it's just very generic in structure.

Over all this a very entertaining film and kids will love it, parents will too when they spot one of the endless video game references that litter this movie, like hundreds and thousands.

This is the film Tron should have been!


FILM #8 Django Unchained (19.1.13)

Film #8 Django Unchained

"Hi, my name is David and I've been a fan of Tarantino since 1992"

"Hi, David."

I can't help thinking 2013 is going to be remembered as the year of the long film, because Django makes the fourth film in a row I've seen that clocks in just south of 3 hours in length.

Of Tarantino last seven films, I've loved three - Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol 1. which all got a 10/10 from me and I thought the others, apart from Death Proof, were all solid 8's or 9's. So it's safe to say my expectations were running high.

For me, Django falls into the second camp of Tarantino films and feels more like 2nd Tier Tarantino than first. More Inglorious Basterds rather than Kill Bill.

It's filled with superb performances, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz who are all just brilliant (why Leo hasn't won an Oscar yet is beyond me)! Yet despite all this, Django just didn't move me that deeply, it's good, just not great. It's Tarantino on cruise control and certainly at his most straight forward. There's none of the fractured structure of the past, just lengthy scenes filled with his measured, almost languid dialogue, interspersed with moments of simply staggering and brutal violence.

There's been much talk of the 'N' word being over used in this film and it's certainly used alot! But interestingly, after a while it starts to lose its power and impact and becomes after a while just another lazy word, maybe that was Tarantino's intent?

I think it's a film that might grow on me with repeat viewings, although I fear these will have to wait for DVD.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Film #7 Zero Dark Thirty (14.1.13)

#7 Zero Dark Thirty

This meaty treat weighed in at a whopping 157 minutes and needed one desperate loo break to finish. God my bladder actually thanked me, I heard it in my head. 'God bless you,' it sobbed, 'God bless you.' and the relief I felt, as my bladder emptied, actually made me shudder, seriously a shiver of delight ran up my spine and made me whimper with glee.

The trouble is when you've been waiting that long to have a pee, as in holding it in, it takes a while for anything to happen, so you're standing there angrily arguing with your own junk trying to get it to function so you can get back to the film, which is exactly when someone else comes into the toilet, as you're cursing your penis.

Sadly, I then have to return to the darkened cinema and stumble over my fellow audience members  to get back to my seat. Tell me, why is it, cinema patrons are so selfish? Why do they not stand up to let you pass (I always do)? Why is it they always leave their freaking bags wedged at their feet so you fall over them ( I tuck mine under my seat)? And why is it they then have to tut and make stupid sounds to convey their frustation as you pass, haven't I just politely said, 'excuse me please,' and then apologised as only a British gentleman can? It's almost like they believe that the only reason I've come to the cinema is to wait until half way through just so I can get up and barge past them. I only ever tut at fellow patrons when they are late arriving in the cinema and are trying to get to their seat after the film has started, seriously if I had my way, you wouldn't be allowed to enter the cinema once the film had started.

My only criticism of ZDT, I missed the songs, surely if Les Mis can shoehorn in 157 minutes worth of them into its running time, why couldn't Biglow get just one?


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Film #6 Les Mis (12.1.13)

#6 Les Miserables

Jesus. I'm not surprised they're miserable! After 3 hours of that I'm bloody miserable.

First things first, I like musicals, well some anyway. I like Singing in the Rain, Guys and Dolls, Chicago, Hello Dolly, Moulin Rogue and those Hollywood musicals of old when Bing would turn up  and transform your barn into the stage for a TV special.

When I see a musical I want some tunes to listen to, I want some proper song numbers, I want something I can hum later on, not just raw naked voices singing!

And whenever I see a film where Russ is going to sing, I want a lot less of that! It's bad enough when he's just acting but when he's warbling too, jeez! Seriously why is he considered to be an A list actor? He's only made three decent films, even Steven Seagal's made more than that!

In Les Mis, there's no rest-bite between the songs, as soon as one ends so another begins which means all the songs seem to share the same melody and sound the same. And the lyrics don't rhyme, so just as a song line comes to an end and your brain is telling you what the proper last word should be, let's say love with dove, these tossers throw in something completely random like 'Aardvark'.

Huge Jackman is the lead and if he could of, I believe, would have sweated real blood if the role had demanded it. He gives this film his all, every sweating, insanely close-up, shaky-cam second he is on the screen. It's through his eyes that the film slowly, ever-so-slowly unfurls at a snail's pace, wringing every gut-wrenching emotion it can from every millimeter of film as it goes. And joining him in the 'giving it your all' department is Anna Hathaway who goes one better by actually giving away her hair, just to show her commitment, almost as if she's saying to Huge, 'Beat that, mate!' Cos, boy is she magnificent! In fact both she and Huge are.

Shared second-place honours go to Ali Borat and Hellen John-Bonham-Get-Carter-nee-Burton. It's amazing what they can do when she's not being directed by her creatively-spent husband and he's outside his comfort zone.
After that I couldn't tell you who any of the other actors were, although I definitely saw the girl from Mama Mia (now that was a musical!) but since most of the time she was stuck in a carriage or in her bedroom pining for some simpering ladyboy I couldn't tell you if she was germane to the plot or even what her character's name was.

Overall the thing I learned from this was that everybody was miserable, oh so bloody miserable and that nobody in the first half of the 19th century France was happy.

A bit like the audience who I saw this with.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Film #5 Frankenweenie (12.1.13)

#5 Frankenweenie

Didn't get round to watching this last year, there seemed to be so many animated movies in 2012, what with Hotel Trannie, BarryNormal, Snoorax and Ice Age 4: Incontinent Drip, to name but four of the worst ones, that when it finally came out I couldn't be arsed to go and see it.

But this morning thanks to the Saturday Morning Kid's club I did!

And what a lovely surprise it turned out to be. An animated horror film for kids that didn't suck and wasn't remotely shit (Actually, I kinda of enjoyed ParaNorman, just wasn't keen on the pat ending or the gloominess of the lead character). The great thing about Frankenweenie is that it's actually quite creepy!

I was very impressed with the darkness on display and not just the delightful black and white photography! The humour was very dark at times and to judge by the kid's reaction in the cinema so of it was quite scary. I loved the fact that it was packed full of glorious subtle homages to horror films and tropes. The film is well written and doesn't rely on the cheap, repetitive gags of the DreamWorks or Blue Sky variety. Here story was king and the humour was it's queen. For example, I loved the brilliant PTA meeting where a discussion about the science teacher is in reality, a thinly veiled piss-take of those said, same similar talks about creationism. The final monster showdown is fantastic and the Tim Burton gothic touches are fab. The stop-motion animation is an absolute treat and the film is filled with well designed characters.

I very much enjoyed this and my only beef was the ending, I was disappointed that it wasn't a more sombre ending, I can't say more without giving it away.


Film #4 Gangster Squad (10.1.13)


Tell me, did you find L.A Confidential too difficult to follow?

Do you consider the Untouchables too be to old to watch these days? Is the Godfather just too darn long?

Well you need the all-new, Holly-lite gangster movie app! Introducing an exciting new way to way films about the 'olden' days when gangsters shooted big Tommy guns and carried violin cases and drove those olden-day cars and girls was called dames and everybody smoked, even babies!

We know it's hard to watch films with complicated plots, but luckily Hollywood realises this and is actively pursuing ways of making a new kind of movie magic! MovieLite!

it's simplicity itself, take a genre, say gangster for sake of argument. Now strip away anything difficult, like a plot and have your characters just talk in handy bite-size quips or info-bursts. Have one character for each social-ethnic group and gender regardless of historical evidence or fact. Now add one character to explain everything carefully to your hero so he and you, more importantly, don't get too confused. Use montages to convey the passage of time. Remember your three act rule religiously. Now add in lots of gun battles where only baddies and those innocents who will need to die to motivate your heroes actually die. Also remember that bullets and guns are great and that lots of bullets fired through Christmas trees and presents looks fantastic! Now add slow motion and music inspired by Batman and Inception and behold! Gangster Squad.

And best of all, 5 minutes after leaving the cinema you won't even remember seeing it! 5/10*

*these 5 points are shared by Emma Stone for being Emma Stone and for Sean Penn who is superb although because he's acting properly looks horribly out of place in this film.

Film #3. TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (5.1.13)


To paraphrase Sinatra. "Then I had to go and spoil it all by seeing Texas Chainsaw 3D."What was I thinking? Why could I have been so foolish? What could have possessed me? Pardon me for a moment but in my humble opinion the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is one of the finest horror films ever made, it scared the crap out of me as a student and has long held a special and rare place in my heart, that of a film that genuinely scared me.

This vile and utterly pointless, useless and needless 'remake' sequel has literally nothing of any merit to mark it as worth seeing, it's not scary, it's not gory, it's not remotely well made. The actors are as inept as they are badly written. The plot holes are yawing and nothing happens, except all the kids, except one, and the bad men meet horrible ends at the hands of an elderly leatherface, In this version, Leatherface is still the 'original' version but he has a limp, is very slow and you can't help thinking very close to pension age. He's as about as scary as your grandad welding an electric carving knife over the Christmas turkey. The 3D is among the worst I have ever seen. This is some seriously dull and boring film making.

This actually makes the 7th film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. SEVENTH! And the best thing I can say about it is that it means that Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is no longer the worst film in this franchise.

Okay, so why did I see it? Because I'm still searching for a film worse than Battlefield Earth and/or The Room. I yearn for a film so bad, it makes me laugh and I enjoy it for its crapiness. Alas, this wasn't it.

I saw it so you don't have too!


Film #2: Life of Pi. (5.1.13)


I avoided this at first and swore I wouldn't see it, it looked - from the trailer - to be one of those worthy, heart-tugging films that win the best picture Oscar and people who only go to the cinema once a year declare is the 'best film of the year!' I found it a beautifully made, well acted and written with near picture-perfect cgi. Ang Lee has crafted a beautiful and elegant movie which was and extremely moving. This is a clever film about faith and religion and the use of an alternative version of what we see is both clever and tragic. I thoroughly enjoyed it, far more than I expected.


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Film #1: The Impossible (5.1.13)


Bloody hell, that was a deeply harrowing, yet emotionally rewarding experience. A powerful film, which never felt even remotely manipulative, unlike say, Nativity 2 or Parental Guidance. This is a frightening yet uplifting experience and made me choke up twice. Normally i hate films that make me well up because it feels horribly manipulative but I didn't feel as if my buttons had been pushed here, just pummeled by 50 million gallons of boiling seawater.