Friday, 31 January 2014

#6 INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

#6 INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen 105 minutes

Word of warning, despite the title, this isn't a porno.

Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan,  John Goodman, Justin Timberlake star in the Coen brother's 17th film as writer/directors. Set in the early 1960's, it's the story of a struggling folk singer,  (Oscar Isaac), told over a week of his life as he stumbles from couch to couch, cat to cat, folk-song to folk-song and New York to Chicago.

Played by Oscar Isaac, Llewyn Davis is a pitiful creation blessed with the voice of an angel. The surviving member of a duo, whose partner committed suicide by jumping off the wrong bridge, Llewyn Davis, is a shaggy bearded, ex-merchant seaman, lugging his guitar and a cat all over town,  getting into petty fights, insulting potential bar owners and desperately searching for a lucky break and a paying gig, despite having two albums under his belt.

And that's the plot in a nutshell, bar one car journey to Chicago and the forementioned cat nothing of any real merit happens in the film and yet it doesn't matter. The Coens prove yet again some films don't need a plot, that the journey is far more interesting than the destination, that a brilliant cast, a sublime script, some beautiful cinematography and a slew of folk songs is more than enough to carry a film.

I have to say that I loved this film, despite the utter lack of plot and the fact that nothing really happens, I was swept away by the music, enthralled by the performances and completely won over by Oscar Isaac, plus it has a very thick vein of black humour running deep through the proceedings.

I think I've been spoiled so far this year by only having seen one meh film and I can't help thinking that my luck can't hold but until then, this is another 9/10 from me.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

#5 JACK RYAN: SHITE RECRUIT

#5: JACK RYAN: SHITE RECRUIT

108 minutes. Starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightly, Kevin Costner and Kenny Branagh and directed by Kenny B.

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Jack Ryan drops out of an economics degree at a London University and becomes a Marine to defend the US of A from terrorists. Sadly, Jack leaves the war against Afghanistan with a bad back, a job with the C.I.A - as a desk bound analyst - keeping tabs on secret banking data in Wall Street and living with his doctor and fiancée, Keira Knightly.

Meanwhile, back in Moscow sinister Kenny Brannigan twiddles his mustache sinisterly and cackles with evil intent.

Anyway, it's not long before Captain T. Kirk uncovers a big bad scheme and is racing all over the place to save America and the planet, while Superman's adoptive dad lends the occasional helping hand, which is helpful because paranoid, twitchy Keira Knightly proves to be Jack's Achilles heel and seems to go out of her way, at times, to scupper everything.

Not a bad film, just not a terribly interesting or exciting one and also one that isn't a patch on any of the Jack Ryans who've come before it. In those, Jack wasn't a man of action he was a desk jockey who ended up being physical to save the day. In this one, Jack is a superman with a bit of a bad back that twinges every now and then to remind us he's 'damaged, but in a good way' but which doesn't prevent him, running, leaping, hanging off speeding trucks, diving out of things and generally being Jason Bourne and James Bond rolled into one, even down to bathroom killings.

I could whinge on about the plot holes and huge clunks that drag this down or the use of explosions in the trailer that don't happen in the finished film, but what's the point. It's a bland, homogenised, by-route spy flick that has all your favourite cliches happily shoe-horned into it for you to play Spy Lotto. Henchman shooting Villian - CHECK. Race against time bomb search - CHECK. Computer hacking against the clock - CHECK. Blah blah blah. Elaborate computer searches on multiple screens - CHECK. Instantly recognisable location helpfully subtitled - CHECK.

All that said, Kenny is an old-fashioned, solid director who doesn't go in for all that shaky-cam so you get to see the action properly and he even displays a couple of elegant camera moves like Pine's arrival at the Russian hotel. Likewise, our K isn't one for long rambling films that outstay their welcome and this one comes in at a nice, lean 106 minutes. And Chris Pine is easy to watch so the film isn't a total disaster, not by a long stretch.


5/10

#4 TIM'S VEMEER

Directed and produced by magical double act, Penn and Teller. This is a documentary about Texas inventor, Tim Jenison - a man with no art training or skill- and his four-year quest to discover the techniques that Dutch Art Master, Johannes Vermeer might have used to create such stunning masterpieces as Girl with the Diamond Ear-ring and The Music Lesson and paint his own 'Vemeer'.

A fascinating and engrossing documentary that grips and enthralls as Teller follows Tim's obsessive quest to uncover the truth and recreate the Music Lesson using the same techniques. Along the way, Tim talks to David Hockney, assorted art historians and scientists to explain, explore and validate his theory as he utilises mirrors, camera obscures and grinds his own hand made lens and paint pigments to paint his version of the famous painting – going as far as to recreate the original room of the painting in a rented warehouse in Texas.

Totally captivating and absorbing and well worth a view.

9/10

Saturday, 18 January 2014

#3 WOLF OF WALL STREET

#3 WOLF OF WALL STREET

Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leo DiCrapio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie and Matthew McConaughey.

179 minutes long.

What is it about January? It seems each year our cinemas get overwhelmed by dramatic, thought provoking and extremely well made dramas, made with an adult audience in mind, it's almost as if Hollywood is apologising for the glut of kid and family entertainment it's been spewing out for the past eight months in the lead up to Christmas.

In the past month we've had several films that have all gone on to garnish awards and nominations from both the Oscars and the Golden Globes, I can't help think these facts might be related.

ANYWAY, this week it's the turn of the fifth Martin Scorsese movie to star Leo DiCaprio and I gotta tell you, I BLOODY LOVED IT!

It's a film of utter excess, and everything in it is done to excess apart from the acting which is all simply note perfect. In a nutshell, Leo plays Jourdan Belfort, a broker who could sell the back legs of a donkey back to the donkey he took them from, the film follows his career path from innocent and naive broker to the uber Master of the Universe on the way to amassing a personal wealth of hundreds of millions of dollars simply by preying on the greed of others.

Leo just keeps proving, time after time, what a superb actor he is and single-handily carries this film, being as he is in almost every single scene. He demonstrates an previously unseen talent  for some brilliant physical acting and comedy.

There's a worry with this film that it somehow glorifies the money men who helped fuck up the economy and makes their despicable crimes seem victimless, but that's simply not the case, this is a film about excess, corruption and greed, it doesn't have to be about the victims to make a statement and by the end of it the statement has been made, it's not just the bankers who are fucker but the entire legal system which having spent so long pursuing and bringing Jourdan to justice simply sticks him in a open prison to practice his tennis for a couple of years.

As a tale of out of control greed this film is an insane roller coaster ride and one I loved. The excesses of this film are truly astonishing and the depravity of it all becomes almost desensitising. Plus it's one of the sexiest films I seen in ages and it's an 18, in fact, when was the last time you saw an 18 certificate film, these things are getting rarer than chicken teeth?

Can't wait to see this film again and hope to do so before I pre-order it on Blu Ray.

If this film had come out in any other year than 2014 it would win Oscars for Best Film, Director, Script, actor and Supporting Actor, but sadly it'll have to share the awards with Oscar worthy 12 Years a Slave, which is a shame because of the two, Wolf of Wall St is the better directed, acted and looking movie and I didn't even mind the running time.

So far my favourite film of the year!

10/10

#2 12 YEARS A SLAVE

#2 - 12 Years a Slave

I saw 12 Years a Slave last night.
I was livid and demanded my money back! I thought, judging from the poster, it was a teen comedy about a posh fraternity house and its outrageous initiation ceremonies. It stars the astonishing Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and of course Brad Pitt with a supporting cast that includes Paul Giamatti and Paul Dano and is directed by Steve McQueen (BTW, if you’re meeting him, don’t waste your time asking him about his earlier career, he won’t answer any questions about The Great Escape, Towering Inferno or The Blob, no matter how nicely you ask).
Anyway, 12 Years a Slave is all about Solomon Northup, a musician of some repute and a decent, family man to-boot, who back in the 1800’s, because of the colour of his skin, gets kidnapped and treated like, well a slave (I can't think of a better word for it) and that's not in a funny way, but in a horrible, back-breaking, daily slog of brutal-beatings, terrible-beatings and truly horrific-beatings, on a daily beatings basis. Then to make sure that we, the audience understand how terrible it was being a slave back in the late 1800s, we get to watch other black people being repeatedly beaten over and over again, or raped and murdered, but mainly beaten.
 But it wasn't all-bad, because our hero got to hang out with all these famous people when he wasn’t being beaten, horribly and brutally. For example, he got to help that nice British Sherlock Holmes to unmask a racist gang boss, then he got to hang out with Magneto, but not the old, grumpy version, but the younger, sexier version, who turned out to be very angry and not at all friendly and he didn't have mutant powers either, maybe that’s what made him so angry? And finally, he helped Brad Pitt build houses for Hurricane Katerina survivors. Brad still had his World War Zee beard on, well most of it. He'd managed to shave off the tach, but obviously his beard trimmer had run out of charge cos he'd left on the bottom part so he looked like Abraham Lincoln but without the silly hat and squeaky voice. Actually, apart from Brad, a shopkeeper and a police man every other white person in this film was a terrible racist bastard. Plus to make it even more depressing at the end we're informed that Solomon Northup played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, couldn't even get justice because in his day, a black man wasn't allowed to give evidence in Washington against a white man. This was about 64 years before the First World War. 
This is a powerful and deeply difficult film to watch, the poster hails it as one of the greatest films ever made, it might be but I'll never know because I never intend to watch it again. It's upsetting and terrible. And the thing is I already knew that slavery was a terrible, terrible thing, I already hated it, I already understood that considering another man to be inferior to me because of their skin colour was both stupid and wrong. I'm already converted to the cause, I’m sat with the choir, look I’m at the back, waving my hands in the air, by the organ. The people you need to reach are those who don't know this, who don't care and they’re never going to see this film.
Fantastic performances, all round, I can't imagine how difficult it was for the actors having to do this film, particularly the ones forced to behave in ways so alien to them that their roles must have physically hurt.
Very much like The Road, this is an intense and extremely well made movie that is both deeply emotional moving and powerful but if I never see it again it'll be too soon.

8/10

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Top 10 Films - 2012

FILMS OF 2012

FILMS SEEN: 108


TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012
1. Moonrise Kingdom
2. Skyfall
3. Silver Lining Playlist
4. The Raid
5. Cabin in the Woods
6. The Imposter
7. Looper
8. The Artist
9. Brave
10. Avengers Assemble

BEST OF THE REST OF 2012
11. Killer Joe
12. Haywire
13. Dark Knight Rises
14. 5 Year Engagement
15. Ill manors
16. Pirates vs Scientists
17. Dredd
18. 21 Jump Street
19. The Goon

TOP 10 WORST FILMS OF 2012
10. Battleships 4/10
9. Wraith of the Titans 3/10
8. Darkest Hour 3/10
7. Lock Out 3/10
6. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter 3/10
5. Alex Cross 2/10
4. Cold Light of Day 2/10
3. Red Tails 2/10
2. Wanderlust 2/10
1. Nativity 2 1/10



Top 10 Films - 2011

FILMS OF 2011

FILMS SEEN: 111

TOP TEN FILMS OF 2011
1. DRIVE
2. THE SKIN I LIVE IN
3. SUPER 8
4. SENNA
5. THE GUARD
6. NEVER LET ME GO
7. TRUE GRIT
8. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
9. BLACK SWAN
10. TINTIN


BEST OF THE REST
11. HUGO
12. GIRL WITH DRAGON TATTOO
13. BRIDEMAIDS
14. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
15. HARRY POTTER DEATHLY HALLOWS 2
16. TT3D
17. KILL LIST
18. CONTAGION
19. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
20. STUPID, CRAZY, LOVE

WORST FILMS OF 2011
10. THE RITE 3/10
9. THREE MUSKETEERS 3/10
8. SMURFS 3/10
7. CONAN 3/10
6. SUCKER PUNCH 3/10
5. IMMORTALS 3/10
4. SANCTUM 2/10
3. HORRID HENRY 2/10
2. THE THING 2/10
1. GREEN LANTERN 2/10

Top 10 Films - 2010

FILMS OF 2010
FILMS SEEN: 97

TOP TEN FILMS OF 2010
1. Inception
2. Toy Story 3
3. How to Train Your Dragon
4. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
5. World's Best Dad
6. Social network
7. Killer Inside Me
8. Kick Ass
9. Shutter Island
10. Bad Leutenant

BEST OF THE REST
11. The Town
12. Tamara Drewe
13. Scott Pilgrim
14. Salt
15. The American
16. A Prophet
17. Whip It
18. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows
19. Four Lions
20. Up in the Air

WORST FILMS OF 2010
10. Twilight: Eclipse 4/10
9. All about Steve 4/10
8. Clash of the Titans 4/10
7. Skyline 4/10
6. Legion 3/10
5. Guliver's Travels 3/10
4. Little Fockers 2/10
3. Air Bender 2/10
2. Furry Vengence 1/10
1. Vampires Suck 0/10









Top 10 Films - 2009

FILMS OF 2009
FILMS SEEN: 122


TOP 10 FILMS OF 2009
1. The Wrestler
2. Slum Dog Millionaire
3. Man on Wire
4. Up
5. District 9
6. Messrine Public Enemy #1
7. Harry Brown
8. Star Trek
9. Coraline
10. Fantastic Mr. Fox

BEST OF THE REST11. Avatar
12. Nixon vs Frost
13. Me and Orson Welles
14. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
15. A Serious Man
16. Moon
17. Zombieland
18. 2012
19. Mesrine: Killer Instinct
20. Sherlock Holmes
WORST 10 FILMS OF 200910. Transformers 2
9. Punisher War Zone
8. Marley and Me
7. Pink Panther 2
6.Vampire Lesbian Killers
5. Invention of Lying
4. Nativity
3. Beverly Hills Chihuahua
2. Alvin and the Chipmonks 2.
1. The Spirit


Top 10 films - 2008

FILMS OF 2008
FILMS SEEN: 69

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2008
1. Wall-E
2. Dark Knight
3. The Mist
4. In Bruges
5. The Orphange
6. Burn after Reading
7. Gone Baby, Gone
8. Cloverfield
9. Iron Man
10. Female Agents

BEST OF THE REST
11. Quantum of Solace
12. The Incredible Hulk
13. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
14. Hellboy 2
15. Son of Rambow
16. Taken
17. Wanted
18. Doomsday
19. Eagle Eye
20. Kung Fu Panda

10 WORST FILMS OF 2008
10. Igor 4/10
9. Bee Movie 4/10
8. Inkheart 4/10
7. Bangkok Dangerous 4/10
6. The Rocker 4/10
5. Babylon AD 3/10
4. 10,000 BC 3/10
3. Mutant Chronicles 3/10
2. Righteous Kill 3/10
1. The Happening 1/10

 EVERYTHING ELSE IN DESCENDING ORDER
KUNG FU PANDA - 7/10
TROPIC THUNDER - 7/10
HANCOCK - 7/10
PRINCE CASPIAN - 7/10
VANTAGE POINT - 7/10
RAMBO - 6/10
DEATH RACE - 6/10
YES MAN - 6/10
FOBIDDEN KINGDOM - 6/10
ROCKNROLLA - 6/10
WHAT JUST HAPPENED - 6/10
FOUR CHRISTMASSES - 6/10
THE SIMPSONS - 6/10
PENELOPE - 6/10
ENCHANTED - 6/10
GHOST TOWN - 6/10
HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENTATE PEOPLE - 6/10
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX - 6/10
JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH - 6/10
STEP BROTHERS - 6/10
LEATHERHEADS - 6/10
21 - 6/10
MADAGASCAR II - 6/10
DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL - 5/10
TRANSPORTER 3 - 5/10
MAMA MIA - 5/10
HOUSE BUNNY - 5/10
TWILIGHT - 5/10
CITY OF EMBER - 5/10
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS - 5/10
BOOK OF SECRETS
5/10
PATHOLOGY - 5/10
UNDERDOG - 5/10
GET SMART - 4/10

Top 10 Films - 1995 - 2007

FILMS OF 1995-2004

2007 FILMS SEEN: 26

2006 FILMS SEEN: 7
2005 FILMS SEEN: 32
2004 FILMS SEEN: 27
2003 FILMS SEEN: 40
2002 FILMS SEEN: 33
2001 FILMS SEEN: 24
2000 FILMS SEEN: 24
1999 FILMS SEEN: 45
1998 FILMS SEEN: 45
1997 FILMS SEEN: 104
1996 FILMS SEEN: 62
1995 FILMS SEEN: 45

2007 TOP 10 FILMS
1. Ratatouille

2. Zodiac
3. Eastern Promise
4. Sunshine
5. Hot Fuzz
6. The Shooter
7. Spider Man 3
8. 300
9. The Illusionist
10. Stardust

REST OF THE YEAR IN DESCENDING ORDER
28 Weeks Later
Die Hard 4
The Simpsons Movie
Transformers
Bridge to Terabethia
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Meet the Robinsons
Music and Lyrics
Charlotte's Web
TMNT
Happy Feet
The Last Mimzy
A Night at the Museum

WORST THREE FILMS OF THE YEAR
Ocean's 13
Shrek 3rd
Pirates of the Caribbean 3

2006 FILMS
Casino Royale
Mission Impossible 3
The Departed
V for Vendetta
Flushed Away
Fantastic Four

2005 TOP 10 FILMS

1. CURSE OF THE WERERABBIT 
2. HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
3. BATMAN BEGINS
4. WAR OF THE WORLDS
5. SIN CITY
6. TEAM AMERICA
7. MR & MRS SMITH
8. SERENITY
9. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF

10. IT'S ALL GONE PETE TONG
THE REST OF THE YEAR

LAND OF THE DEAD 8/10

FEVER PITCH 8/10
CORPSE BRIDE 8/10
KING KONG 8/10

HOSTAGE 8/10
SAHARA 8/10
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY 8/10
HITCHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY 7/10
CONSTANTINE 7/10
ROBOTS 7/10
NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE 7/10

STAR WARS 3: REVENGE OF THE SITH 7/10

MADAGASCAR 6/10

MELINDA & MELINDA 6/10

SPONGEBOB SQUARE PANTS: THE MOVIE 6/10

WORST OF THE YEAR
5. THE PACIFIER 5/10
4. POLAR EXPRESS 5/10
3. ALEXANDER 5/10

2.VALIANT 4/10

1. BE COOL 3/10

2004 TOP TEN FILMS
1. THE INCREDIBLES 10/10
2. SPIDER MAN 2 10/10
3. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND 10/10
4. DAWN OF THE DEAD 10/10
5. KILL BILL 2 9/10
6. HARRY POTTER 9/10
7. SHAUN OF THE DEAD 8/10
8. DAY AFTER TOMORROW 8/10
9. BOURNE SUPREMACY 8/10
10. DODGE BALL 8/10  

WORST OF THE YEAR
10. SHREK II 6/10
9. VAN HELSING 5/10
8. KING ARTHUR 5/10
7. SHARK'S TALE 5/10
6. SCOOBY DO 2 4 /10
5. RIDDICK 4/10
4. THE VILLAGE 4/10
3. BLUEBERRY 4/10
2. LOONEY TUNES 2/6
1. GARFIELD 2/10

THE REST OF THE YEAR
I, ROBOT 7/10
TROY 7/10
STARSKY AND HUTCH 7/10
SAW 7/10
SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS 7/10
ALIENS VS PREDATOR 6/10

2003



2002




2001



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1998


1997

1996

1995




Wednesday, 1 January 2014

#1 AMERICAN HUSTLE

#1 AMERICAN HUSTLE
Starring Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradly Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence, directed by David O Russell, written by Eric Singer and David O Russell.

138 minutes long.

Set in the 1970's this is a 'fictionlisation' of a famous FBI sting operation called ABSCAM, in which the FBI bank rolled a fake Arab sheik to trap various politicians taking bribes.

In the film, con man, Christian Bale and his girl friend, Amy Adams are forced by Bradley Cooper to help the FBI run a sting operation to capture four con men, the sting grows and ends up targeting not only Jeremy Renner's Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, but US Senators, Congressmen and the head of a Mafia family too. As a result, Bale's personal life starts to unravel as the stings and double crosses grow out of control, effecting not only his relationship with his bi-polar wife, played by the always excellent Jennifer Lawrence but also, Amy Adams, the true love of his life.

This is a fantastically well written and exceedingly complex film which demands attention and which treats its audience as grown ups and as such expects them to be able keep up.

Billed as a comedy, crime drama, the comedy, what little there is, comes from shock and tension rather than actual comedic moments, although Louis C.K. as Bradley Cooper's boss is exceedingly funny. However, it's the tension that builds throughout the film which is truly incredible, becoming almost unbearable when our anti-heroes meet with Robert Deniro's character, a mafia boss, giving a bone-chilling performance to rival his best and we, Adams and Bale finally realise how big the stakes are they're playing for!

Everything about this film is beautifully measured and executed, from the performances to the costumes, to set design and sound track. But it's the cast that deserves special attention, each and every member is nothing less than superb, with Amy Adams giving a career best performance as Sydney Prosser, Christian Bale continues to create utterly believable characters that make you forget it's him beneath the bad comb-over and beard, Bradley Cooper demonstrates that he's not just a pretty face by delivering another fantastic performance and Jeremy Renner brings a real tenderness and warmth to the role of Carmine Polito, the Mayor - perhaps the only decent man in the whole film.

A solid, thrilling and utterly engrossing film, a great way to start the new year! My only niggle was that it was perhaps a too long.

9/10