Sunday, 30 November 2014



Starring, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and a positively who's who of the British acting community, see how many you can spot.

Written by Paul King and Hammish McColl and directed by Paul King. 95 minutes long.

It's what the world, as a singular entity has been crying out for, indeed it's what the occupy Hong Kong demonstration is all about! It's the origin story of Paddington Bear, a bear orphaned at an early age and raised in the rain forest of deepest, darkest Peru to be his race's most supreme warrior and crime fighter. Now, he's in England to thwart the evil intentions of a master, clown-faced criminal hell-bent on triggering the San Andreas fault line and clean up on some prime sea front real estate.

Oh, no, wait. That's Superman and Batman.

This is Paddington Bear, Michael Bond's sublime creation brought to life in the 21st Century and all that that sentence threatens...

I went into this expecting to hate it, the trailer looked foul, my god they'd managed to shoehorn in Nicole Kidman as some sort of demented Cruela Deville character and in the place of Bond's glorious silliness there seemed to be a skateboarding bear. So, imagine my suprise when i left the cinema an hour and a half later, feeling a happy warm glow in my chest and feeling love for the whole bastard human race. Bastards.

Damn it, I loved it. I loved its ridiculous faux Britishness, the nonsense of it all. The silly gags and slapstick adventures, but most of all I just loved the little bear, voiced brilliantly by Ben Whishaw. He's a delightful and wonderful CGI creation, staggeringly polite and not the bumbling, stupid fucktard I was convinced he'd be transformed into. I even loved his unnecessary origin story, although it also left me a little sad.

Go and see it, it's lovely.


But after a weekend of this I need to see something violent and horrible soon or I'm going to burst.



Written by Eric Darnell, John Aboud, Michael Colton, Tom McGrath. Directed by Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell. 92 minutes short!

Starring the vocal talents of:
Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich and Werner Herzog.

A relentless, non-stop, madcap, manic romp that doesn't let up for one single second, crammed full of insane, ridiculous incident and some of the most inspired puns and gags I've ever seen this side of The LEGO Movie, in fact there's almost too much in it and I missed several gags because there's just too many and I was laughing too much. Actually, this might be there first kiddy-friendly animated film I've ever seen where the adults laughed more than the kids.

The plot, is so dense it's almost impossible to do it justice, starting as it does with an origin story for our four clucky pals followed by a bat-shit crazy romp that sees them go head-to-head with John Malkovich's Dave - an Octopus with a huge chip on his shoulder and a demented urge for revenge, add to that Benedict Cumberbatch's leader of the North Wind, a super-secret animal lead spy team and you have a huge, dumb, sugar-rush of a movie that seems to be channeling every Looney Toon ever made. Seriously, I haven't laughed this much at an animated movie in ages. All that said, this might be too much for some people, those raised on a rarefied diet of pure Pixar movies for this is the complete antithesis of those wonderful films (bar the shit that is Cars and Monsters University) eschewing strong character-driven story for jokes and slapstick.

Kids will love it and so did this adult.



Directed by Randall Wright, 110 minutes.

An intimate portrait of the world's greatest living artist, David Hockney, an artist who continues to inspire and motivate me like no other living artist can or does. I find his artwork breath-taking and his constantly inventing mind a true inspiration, his painting, photography and artwork move me to tears.

The film, a cinematic biography of the artist using never-before-seen home video, interviews and archive footage is as engaging and engrossing as the art itself, and a good indicator as to whether this film will be your cup of tea or not. If you love Hockney's art, you'll love this film, if you don't. Then it's not for you. He comes across as a fantastically interesting character and his attitude to art is so singular it's intoxicating.

Personally I loved this film and I can't wait to own it on Blu Ray.


Sunday, 23 November 2014



Starring - Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Stu Rutherford.

Written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. 85 minutes long.

The lives of four vampires living together in a shared house in the suburbs of Wellington New Zealand as they hold house-meetings, delegate housework, bicker and organise nights out to the local night clubs in search of blood, along the way meeting up with fellow creatures of the night, including the local werewolf pride, who are stern on the use of foul language, 'Remember, we're werewolves, not swearwolves!', over-worked familiars and dealing with a new breed of 21st Century vampires with no respect for tradition and the rules of blood drinking as they gear themselves up for the annual undead masquerade ball.

Never before as the life of the undead and the vampire been presented in such a staggeringly mundane and banal way before. With low-key performances, some wonderfully conceived sight gags and some well-written jokes this is a funny, fresh-feeling film, thanks in no small part to its New Zealand setting, no dreadful Vampires Suck or Scary Movie crapness for this fly on the wall documentary.

Each of the cinematic vampires, be they Nosferatu, Vlad the Poker or Lestat, are delightful, presenting their own unique take on the blood suckers and it's impressive that the film manages to be funny, sad and even at times rather touching. New Zealand has a long track record of funny horror films and this film is a welcome addition.

Not a note-perfect film for sure but nevertheless an enjoyable and downright silly film with a nice fresh rift on the whole vampire schtick and well worth a bite.


Saturday, 22 November 2014



Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Juliane Moore, Woody Harleson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright and Natalie Dormer.

Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig. Directed by Francis Lawrence. 123 minutes long.

Following on from the last Hunger Games, this one sees our plucky heroine, Katniss Everdeen, having survived two go's in the Hunger Games, wake up in the near-mythical District 13 to find herself the figurehead of a revolution. The trouble is she's an emotional wreck and is blaming herself for the fact, on/off fake/real boyfriend, Peeta is being held prisoner and brainwashed by the mustache twiddling baddy, President Snow. Gently coerced into fighting a propaganda war against the Capitol, Katniss is forced to face the grim realities of civil war and the brutal fact her ideals will bring, ultimately suffering and death to her very family and those she holds dearest.

Frustratingly this is a film that, despite being deeply involving and engrossing, never gets going because it's designed not to have an ending. As the first half of a two part movie this half elects to stop not so much on a cliffhanger but practically in the middle of an actual sentence. The other frustratingly annoying this is we're going to have to wait a whole goddam year to find out the answer to the question she's asked at the very end of the film, "So tell me, Katniss. Do you want cream or milk?"

Actually I'm being disingenuous but it does end in the middle of a scene with a reveal and not a closure.

Bleak, gloomy, at times harrowing, serious, grim and brutal, The Hunger Games movies are not laugh riots, but they've so far proved themselves to be intense, powerful and dramatic films, with good strong stories and an emotional depth that's often missing in the countless other Youth Fiction adaptations that seem to litter our cinemas these days. A lot of the success of the Hunger Games must surely rest on the shoulders of the always excellent Jennifer Lawrence an actress who is only going to get better and better with age, she carries these film almost effortlessly and she really is a magnetic actresses.

Packed with great performances all round, some seamless special effects and some nice action scenes. This is a film that despite its length
blitzes past in a flash and in fact feels like it's never actually taken off its coat before it's heading for the front door.

Definitely spoiled by the fact it's a two-parter and that it will take a whole year to finish it off, this is a frustating film because you want a climax and instead you're left with great big, aching emotional blue balls with only the promise of a happy ending in 12 month's time. That said, if the final part carries on where this left off, then you can expect the ceiling of every single cinema across the land to be well and truly splattered in dripping globules of pent-up, metaphorical ejaculate.


Sunday, 16 November 2014



Starring Benedict Cummberbatch, Kiera Knightley, Mathew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnea and, Allen Leach.

Written by Graham Moore and directed by Morten Tyldum. 114 minutes long.

The true story of how Alan Turing and a hand-picked group of geniuses broke the Enigma code and in the process saved approximately 14 million lives and shaved two years of the Second World War. The moment when Turing realises the final missing piece of the puzzle to make his incredible machine work, is breathtakingly exhilarating.

It's staggering to think that the five men and one woman featured in this film, weren't rewarded by a grateful government for their work but just sent home to their normal lives and expected to never mention the part they played in defeating Hitler. Turing in particular, the father of the modern computer deserved to have been lauded each and every day for the rest of his life not chemically castrated and driven to suicide at the age of 41, to think of what else he might have created is tragic.

With beautifully nuanced performances all round, skilled direction and a wonderful script this was a deeply satisfying and magnificent film that was gripping, thrilling, poignant, utterly engrossing and superb from start to finish. I loved it.

It was also wonderful to see that the cinema for this 15.20 performance on a Sunday afternoon was packed! This is a film that deserves to be seen and it's praises sung.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

#77 FURY

#77 FURY

Starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBouef, Logan Lerman,  Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal.

Written and directed by David Ayers. 135 minutes long.

It's 1945 the allies are deep inside Germany and the end days of the Second World War are imminent, but alas not for the crew of the tank Fury lead by, Sgt Wardaddy and his crew of Nazi-loathing, battle-hardened vets. They've been together since the D-Day landings and Sgt Wardaddy has sworn to protect them to the end. When their driver has his face literally blown off he's replaced by wet-behind-the-ears, army typist, Norman (Logan Lerman) who's never killed before and it's his baptism of fire we witness first hand as he goes from wide-eyed virgin to bloodied killer and member of the crew with his own nickname, Machine.

With his amazing ability to survive time after time, it's hardly surprising when Wardaddy and the  crew of Fury are sent to defend a cross-roads from a battalion of retreating Nazis. Trouble is our American boys hates those Nazises with a passion and the sides are set for a brutal fight to the death!

This is a gritty, grim and grisly affair with brutal action that never spares the gore or the awful truth that even when it's in the name of the only just war ever fought on planet Earth, war isn't just hell, it's hell with a fucking capital H. Breaking no new ground or tradition this is your classic war movie but told through the lens of the 21st century. 

The action and acting is good, especially from Pitt and LaBouef but it's no Saving Private Ryan. Still it was satisfying enough.

Although my major quibble was that it made no attempt to explain how Nick Fury got his eye patch.




Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Charlie Cox.

Written by Anthony McCarten and directed by James Marsh. 123 minutes long.

In a nutshell, the biopic of the world's most intelligent man, Sir Stephen Hawkins (Eddie Redmayne), told from his days at university, thru his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease, to his subsequent life married to his university sweetheart, Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones).

Beautifully acted, with an obvious Oscar worthy performance from Eddie Redmayne this is a extremely well made but strangely flat movie that never really engages. We're starved of understanding the mind trapped inside the man and it frustrating that we're given no insights into his fantastic mind or how he came to work out his, frankly, amazing theories. Presented as a whistle stop tour through his married life with the occassional stop off to deliver his latest theory or child it's a oddly unengaging experience and feels like a greatest hits compilation album rather than an intimate portrait. That said, Eddie is superb as Hawkins and it's truly painful to watch a vibrant young man slowly imprisoned inside his failing body.

Stephen Hawkins is an astonishing man and it's to this film's credit that it makes one want to learn more about him, or at least learn about the true story behind the man.

Another satisfying, non-Hollywood adult film.




Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Bill Irwin, Ben Affleck, John Lithgow and Matt Damon.

Written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan. 

One hundred and sixty nine minutes long!

In the near future, although when exactly is never stated, the world is slowly dying and mankind is in danger of meekly going into the night. With dust storms sweeping the world (or atleast the US, cos let's face it, that's all the world we need to see) to the death of crops due to the 'Blight', things aren't looking all that rosey for mankind and in particular, ex NASA astronaut and engineer, widower, parent of two, Cooper (McConaughey) whose life and farm is slowly becoming entombed in the ever-encroaching sand. One day, while following mysterious magnetic signals he is lead to a secret NASA underground complex and offered the chance to pilot a mission to a universe on the other side of a newly discovered worm hole in orbit around Jupiter. That universe seems to offer a choice of 12 different planets for mankind to relocate to and our plucky, huge-headed, hero takes it like a randy sheep herder left to gaurd a flock of ridiculously attractive young spring lambs. Alas he must leave behind the one thing he loves most in the world, his young brilliantly precocious daughter, Murphy. Oh and his son, Thingie. (not me, that's actually his name.) And to make matters worse he has no idea how long he'll be gone...

What follows is a serious, intense drama that's the true definition of a
Marmite experience and no mistake. Loved or loathed and not much in the middle.

 It's interesting to note that in the lead up to this film, the expectations of the online film community and its ilk was insanely high and now that the film is out, most of those eager and excited film sites have laid into it with a passion, sighting each and every slight and error, berating it from the sound design to the IMAX ratio to the introduction of the battling banjo sequence during the post credit sequence and most bizarrely the physics behind the science fiction. They delight in pointing out each and everything wrong with it. The trouble is, I think they're missing the point. This is an astonishing film of great scope and superb craft, Nolan is perhaps, the finest and most technically accomplished director of his generation and I'm hard pressed to think of another director with the same scope the same ambition. He might even be the next Kubrick, or at least a Kubrick cut with a healthy dose of Speilberg.

This is a film that reminds you of previous movies, most particularly 2001: A Space Odyssey and Contact, but that isn't a negative comment it's just cut from the same cloth. It feels like a brave film to make in the 21st century and it's amazing that Nolan was able to get an industry obsessed with franchises and super-hero movies to make a one-of-a-kind science fiction flick with no chance of a sequel.

I could sit here and winge on about all the minor plot holes and petty things that niggled me but the truth is that once the film had had finished I felt awed by what I had see, touched by aspects and emotionally satisfied.

I can't remember the last time I saw a meaty, solid, adult science fiction film without a single laser gun, battle fleet or explosion, well okay, one explosion or one that so engrossed me and yet i listen to the haters and I fully understand their frustrations and I even agree with many of the nit-pickers but it didn't matter to me, I was lost in the scope of the thing. It is a spectacle that deserves to be seen. Just don't blame me if you hate it.