Category Archives: A – Z of film project

Film study… week 42

Life Is Beautiful

I’m quite embarrassed that I’d never seen this WWII classic and now that I have seen it I can see why it won an Oscar. Roberto Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a hapless Jewish-Italian waiter who uses his charm and wit to win himself the woman of his dreams. Later in life Guido and his family are taken away to a Nazi concentration camp where he manages to convince his young son that they are taking part in a daring game in order to spare the boy from the horrors of their reality. This really is a study in the triumph of the human spirit and the love of a parent for their child. And yes… I cried my eyes out at the end!

No matter how he tried, Guido, just couldn't get the hang of the goosestep!

Heartless

Another example of good idea, rubbish execution. A young man with a birthmark on his face makes a deal with the devil after discovering that London is full of demons… but as all deals with the devil invariably do it, all goes tits up pretty quickly. There are too many story threads going on here… none of them developed properly. Unless you have a desperate wish to see Jim Sturgess massacring a rent boy wrapped in clingfilm while under the instruction of a small Asian girl (yes really) I probably wouldn’t bother.

Jim found himself with the horrible feeling that the parktown prawns were watching his every move...

Sidewalks of New York

Several New Yorkers try to navigate the confusing swamp that is love. Just watch Sex And The City instead… the series… not the interminable films… and take heart in the fact that if your relationship is as complicated as these people’s or if your life view is as cynical, you probably need therapy…

I'm sorry but I can't take a grown man wearing a baseball cap seriously...

Catch Me If You Can

Leonardo Di Caprio plays legendary real life conman, Frank Abagnale Jnr, who managed to commit over $4m in cheque fraud before his 19th birthday by impersonating a pilot, a doctor, an assistant attorney general and an assistant professor. Tom Hanks (less annoying than usual), as straight laced FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, is the perfect foil to Abagnale’s incredible charm and audacity as he chases him across 26 countries. I genuinely found this entertaining so check it out if you need a good weekend afternoon film.

Big pimping... pilot style!

Film Study… week 38

The Book of Eli

Playing against type in this post apocalyptic tale, Denzel Washington is Eli, a mysterious traveller on a mission, carrying a rare copy of the Bible. Playing pretty much his usual character, Gary Oldman, is Carnegie, the man who wants it in order to use its message to control the masses. Then Mila Kunis arrives and becomes a bit of a liability and there’s some kind of message at the heart of it. I’m not entirely sure what the message was though. Possibly religion is good or possibly just knowledge is good it all got a bit up its own arse at the end. Watch Tank Girl instead… much more fun!

The parktown prawns are coming. Are you sure we have enough ammo?

Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief

After the book that this film is based on came up in a recent book quiz I decided it might be worth watching the film. Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a bit of an outcast loser, despite his startling pretty boy looks… until he finds out that he’s mom once upon a time got jiggy with Poseidon and he’s actually a demigod. On the downside, Zeus seems to think he’s stolen a lightning bolt and he’s packed off to demigod “camp” with all the other half-blood god and godesslets for his own safety. This was obviously intended to be a rival for Harry Potter and considering that Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman signed up there must have been some excitement around it. Unfortunately it feels like what was probably the first half of the book is whizzed through in 5 minutes and despite the awesome special effects it fell very flat.

What does Harry Potter have? A stick! I have a fucking water trident!

X-Men First Class

This X-Men prequel portrays the advent of the X-Men as well as the combined pasts of Professor Xavier (the eternally delicious, James McAvoy) and Erik “Magneto” Lensherr (Michael Fassbender).  Without giving away too much of the story, X-Men First Class explains all manner of things that take place in the later films and kicks and impressive amount of ass. Absolutely brilliant.

I TOLD you to put on sunscreen!

Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls

70’s cult classic about an all girl group who go to Hollywood looking for fame and fortune only to get caught up in a world of excess. Unfortunately the excess is nothing more scary than what you’d see in an average episode of Skins and the weird subplot about an inheritance seemed largely superfluous. I got bored very quickly. The ending was pretty explosive but the whole thing was a bit all over the show.

Zhang!

Film Study… Week 36

Catfish
Film 4

Filmed by his brother and a friend, photographer, Nev Schulman, befriends a family online. As they become closer and closer he starts to develop an romance with the oldest daughter but after one shocking night Nev realises everything is not quite what it seems and decides the only way to figure out what’s really going on is to go and look up his “friends” in person. This little documentary will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to find out the truth and make you question exactly who you should be sympathising with. Brilliant!

I don't care what you say, my cyber girlfriend is not an overweight trucker called, Butch!

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
Film 4

Sean Pegg plays a celebrity obsessed journalist recruited to work on a high profile magazine in New York… despite behaving like a total knob at every opportunity. When he finally starts playing the game and becomes successful he quickly realises he’d give up all the glitz and the glamour for his integrity… and Kirsten Dunst. Meh…

The moment Simon Pegg realised Shaun Of The Dead would probably be the height of his career

Hero
Sky movies

In this visually dazzling historical Chinese action drama, warrior Nameless (Jet Li) recounts the story of how he killed three legendary assassins seeking to murder Qin, the most powerful Warlord in pre-unified China. Qin is unconvinced of his prowess and slowly but surely coaxes the real story out of Nameless through a series of eye-meltingly beautiful flashbacks. Almost too beautiful to describe. If you’re someone who cares about cinematography this is a must-see.

I'm gonna stab you up, innit?

Surrogates
Source: Sky Movies

In this futuristic film, humans live plugged into chairs, operating beautiful, sophisticated robots who live out their lives for them. When two surrogates are destroyed by a weapon that also kills their human operators, FBI agents, Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) investigate unaware that they’re about to uncover a conspiracy with more twists in it than a twisty thing. This throws up all manner of interesting moral questions, least of all, why does Bruce Willis look so weird with hair…

Maureen was starting to regret going for the cut-price facelift

Film Study… week 35

Hot Tub Time Machine
Source: Sky Movies

Three estranged childhood friends and one of their nephews reunite for a trip to the ski resort they loved in the 80’s. When their hot tub malfunctions they are sent back in time, and into their old bodies, to relive the weekend that shaped their futures. This film is every bit as silly as it sounds but surprisingly funnier than you’d expect. I wouldn’t rush out and watch it again but it didn’t make me want to turn off the telly.

I have a can of Whip Ass and I'm not afraid to open it!

Last Samurai
Source: Film 4

Most of the time Tom Cruise is pretty annoying but he is actually quite compelling as a bitter alcoholic Civil War Veteran, hired to be a military adviser to the Japanese government. Captured by the Samurai rebels he is supposed to be fighting, he finds himself enraptured by their dedication and stoicism. Cruise is completely out-acted by the fabulous Ken Wanatabe and the Hollywood sheen that’s been slapped over the top of this means it’s no Kurosawa, but altogether very engrossing.

Aiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeee!

William & Kate
Source: Channel 5

When William and Kate first got engaged some genius Americans decided to (very quickly) make a film version of the “romance of the century” and William & Kate is the dastardly result. Playing so fast and loose with the facts that the so called fairy tale seems more Gossip Girl than Royal , this is definitely veering into so bad it’s good territory. That’s only if you can look past the cheesy dialogue, the bad CGI-ed backdrops, the somewhat Australian sounding accents, Wills sporting rather a lot more hair than we’re used to and the representation of AFRICA as a concept rather than a continent.  My biggest concern is that some of our Yankee friends might just think this is a documentary.

Kate couldn't help but be amused when she thought about Wills' real hair

Arthur
Source: Cinema

I have vague memories of seeing the original Arthur as a child but the details are completely furry so I’m not going to attempt a compare and contrast. In the updated version Russell Brand plays Arthur Bach the alcoholic, playboy heir of an innumerable fortune. When his mother (Geraldine James) becomes tired of his childish behaviour she insists that he marry his ambitious ex-girlfriend, Susan (Jennifer Garner) or face losing his fortune. Unfortunately Arthur has fallen in love with illegal tour guide, Naomi (the charming, Greta Gerwig) and has no intention of growing up. Brand is as always playing himself and Jennifer Garner is obviously having a whale of a time playing against type but it’s Helen Mirren who unsurprisingly steals the show as Arthur’s nanny, Hobson. I know this has been slammed but there are moments of real hilarity and I found the whole thing rather sweet.

The New York crowd were unphased by Arthur's attempts to stand out, after all they had played host to Borat

Film Study… week 33

Machete
Source: Tesco DVD rental

A former Mexican federale famous for his machete skills (Danny Trejo), finds himself caught up in a failed plot to kill a Texan senator (Robert De Niro), which finally gives him the opportunity to get revenge on the man who ruined his life. This star-studded Grindhouse spectacle is ridiculous… but also ridiculously good. If you enjoyed Plant Terror or Shatterproof, this is a must see but it will make you wonder if Robert Rodriguez has a hard on for disabled women with machine guns…

Lindsay wasn't responding to "Catholic Rehab" quite like the bishop had hoped

Salt
Source: Tesco DVD rental

Angelina Jolie plays a CIA agent who goes on the run when she is identified as a Russian agent… but is she? And where do her loyalties lie? Apparently this was supposed to star Tom Cruise as the ass-kicking Salt but when he turned it down they re-wrote the part for Angelina, which takes it from what would have probably been quite a boring film to something quite exciting and unique… if you can figure out what’s going on!

Angelina found it best to always travel abroad with a backpack... just in case there was a baby about

Whip It
Source: Sky movies

Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut in this coming-of-age tale about a small-town Texan pageant girl Bliss (Juno’s Ellen Page) who defies her controlling mother by joining a roller-derby team. I have to admit that I loved this. The characters were well-rounded and identifiable and Bliss’ story sweet without being sickly with plenty of humour to boot.

Fart and pout practise was going well

Franklyn
Source: Sky movies

Not sure what to say about this one. I feel like I need to watch it a couple more times to get my head around it. Four stories unfold concurrently. In the fantasy Meanwhile City, a faceless man (Ryan Phillipe) plots the revenge of the Individual who destroyed his life. At the same time in London, tortured artist Emilia (Eva Green) attempts suicide over and over for the camera, a man searches for his missing son and Milo (Sam Reilly) turns to his imaginary friend when his fiancée leaves him. At a first glance this is stylish but it seems to be missing a thread of connective tissue that could have made it actually good.

Eva had to admit that she might have seen Pan's Labyrinth one too many times

Film Study… week 32

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 1
Source: In-flight movie

Yes I know I should have seen this on the big screen… no judging! Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the run from good old Voldy, hiding out in the forest and hunting horuxes as their last hope of destroying him. Action-packed, dark and pretty scary (I’m talking about the snake bit here), we’re left with a massive cliff-hanger (well for those who haven’t read the books). It’s definitely a step in the right direction after the less than stellar interpretations of the last two instalments and I absolutely can’t wait for part two!

Stay back! I know you've got the ginger curse!

 

Winter’s Bone
Source: Tesco DVD Rental

Ree, a seventeen year old girl from the remote Ozark mountains (Jennifer Lawrence) is faced with losing the house she shares with her catatonic mother and younger siblings, after her drug addict father fails to show up for a bail hearing. Desperate to keep her family together she breaks every social rule of her tight-knit community to find him, risking her life in the process. Bleak and unflinching this Oscar nominee paints a very dark portrait of the “forgotten USA” far from the picture Hollywood likes to portray.

And the Winner of Best Go Fuck Yourself Expression in a Motion Picture goes to Jennifer Lawrence

Sucker Punch
Source: Cinema

The concept of a young woman escaping to an inner fantasy world as a coping strategy to deal with the horror of being locked up in a mental institution is a really good one. Deciding to execute that concept with the aim of pleasing as many teenage boys with ADHD as possible… less good. The most disappointing thing about this film is not the dire acting, the terrible dialogue or the boring action sequences but rather the lack of character development and the squandering of so much potential. Skip the film and buy the soundtrack instead. That, at least, is banging!

The Saturdays were surprised to find that their new "Nazi Bitch" makeover wasn't going down well with the 8 - 12s

The Rocker
Source: Sky

Aging drummer, “Fish” (The Office US’ Rainn Wilson) has never grown up or forgiven his chart-topping former band, Vesuvius (watch out for a barely recognisable Bradley Cooper as guitarist, Trash) for kicking him out. When he joins his teenage nephew, Matt’s band (the shockingly named, ADD), he gets a second chance at fame, but has he changed at all? The script probably could have been knocked out in an afternoon and it’s jam-packed with clichés but it’s amusing enough to keep you interested for the running time as long as you ignore the plot holes…

I'm telling you, it's this big. I make Tommy Lee look like an earthworm

Film Study… week 30

Brothers
Source: Tesco DVD Rental
Natalie Portman plays Grace, the holier-than-thou wife of Sam, an American soldier (Tobey Maguire) who is captured and tortured in Afghanistan. On the news that he is presumed dead she develops a close relationship with his screw-up, ex-con brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal). But when Sam comes back alive but deeply scarred he can no longer connect with his family or stop obsessing about the idea that his wife and brother have slept together. Well-acted but I couldn’t help finding Natalie Portman irritating… but then I do most of the time.

 

Nevermind if I slept with your wife... what is up with your hair?

Sex And The City II
Source: In-flight movie

Looking for an in-flight movie that would require zero brain power I decided to ignore the critics and check out the second instalment of SATC. I mean how bad could it be? Turns out pretty fucking bad. Low on storyline, high on fashion, the “girls” travel to Abu Dhabi. They appear to be incapable of respecting a different culture and their endless social faux pas shows off how absolutely idiotic this franchise has become. While the TV series made Samantha’s madcap sexual adventures seem exciting and edgy, as a 50-something, menopausal witch one ends up wishing she would just grow up. Hopefully having dragged out every possible cliché they could have, we won’t be forced to suffer the indignity of SATC III but when it comes to flogging a dead horse, Hollywood isn’t exactly innocent.

Proving that sometimes it's better to keep your burkha on...

Due Date
Source: In-flight movie

When a series of random events lands expectant father, Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jnr) on the “no-fly” list five days and five thousand miles from the birth of his son, he is forced to share a car on a cross-country journey with weirdo, Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis).  With an impossibly bizarre set of disasters that befalls these two massively unlikeable characters this was cringeworthy to watch. Certainly not the next Hangover as it’s been billed.

With Bob's narcolepsy at full force, the driving lessons weren't quite going to plan...

Despicable Me

Source: In-flight movie

I don’t normally do animation but I got roped in by the minions mini-movies… supervillain, Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell) adopts three orphan girls in an attempt to use them in his plot to steal his rival, Vector’s (voiced by Jason Segal) shrink-ray and steal the moon. He doesn’t expect to fall in love with them… but it’s a kids’ film so of course he does. The story is pure cheese but Gru and his collection of dedicated little yellow minions are hilarious. Three words It’s. So. FLUFFY!!

The question is... who is more scary? Pirhana dog... or the little girl?

Film study… week 29

Greenberg
Source: Borrowed from a colleague

Neurotic failed musician Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) borrows his brother’s house in LA with the intention of doing nothing and reconnecting with some old friends. It’s not long before he finds that he has no longer has anything in common with  his friends but that he has unavoidable chemistry with his brother’s doormat personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig). This film is well-made, well-acted and well-written and probably has the best performance from Rhys Ifans (as Greenberg’s “best friend”) that I’ve seen yet but I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was so cringe-inducing awkward and Greenberg so unlikeable that I was relieved when it came to its abrupt end.

I don't care how what you do, I'm not doing Blue Steel!

Buried

Source: Tesco DVD Rental

If you’re going to make a film shot entirely in a coffin with one actor, it has to be a cracker and this is. Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), a US truck driver working in Iraq, is kidnapped and finds himself buried underground with nothing but a mobile phone and a lighter facing limited time to figure out where he is and how to get out. The pace is blistering and just when you think they can’t possibly do anything more with the meagre set something explosive happens. Keeps you guessing to the very end.

Paul's luxury cabin on EasyCruise was not quite what he'd expected

Doctor Who: The Movie

Source: Borrowed from Paul’s family

Paul convinced me that I should watch this with him since he had never seen it. I now wish I had never seen it. The seventh doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is en route to return the body of The Master to Gallifrey when the Tardis goes off-course crashing to earth in San Francisco,1999. A failed operation causes him to regenerate into Paul McGann and attempt to chase down The Master who is not dead… just possessing the body of Eric Roberts. So bad it physically hurt. Apparently this was made when the BBC stopped commissioning Doctor Who in an attempt to get the Americans to buy it. Not hard to see why they decided not to!

I'll be back!

RED

Source: Tesco DVD Rental

An ex-CIA agent regarded Retired and Extremely Dangerous (Bruce Willis) discovers that he’s now on the CIA’s hit list and has endangered a woman (Mary Louise Parker) on whom he has a telephone crush. Not willing to go quietly into the night, he kidnaps his prospective girlfriend for her own safety and rounds up his old cronies including Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, playing an agent who has had LSD tested on him and Helen Mirren playing a glam ex-Mi6 agent; and mounts a defence. As this was adapted from a comic it manages to be both hilarious and action-packed and John Malkovich steals every scene he’s in. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

The Hollowod legends fancy dress extravaganza was not going according to plan

Film study… week 28

Remember Me
Source: Tesco DVD Rental

R-Patz plays a tortured (read: whiny and annoying) artistic type wooing Ally (Emilie de Ravin), the traumatised (read: whiny and annoying) daughter of the policeman (Chris Cooper) who beat him up during an unfair arrest. About an two thirds of the way into this film the DVD came to a shuddering halt and I had to unplug the DVD player to make it work again. It was at this point that I discovered that I really didn’t care what happened to the two lovers as long as I didn’t have to watch it.

Tyler fought the law... and the law won

The Blind Side
Source: Tesco DVD Rental

A tough-talking, gun-toting Christian Southern Belle (Sandra Bullock) takes in Big Mike, a homeless oversize teenage boy (Quiton Aaron) with outstanding athletic ability. She succeeds in coaxing him out of his shell,  giving him the family he’s never had and at the same time completely changing hers. I love Sandra Bullock and she’s brilliant in this obviously super emotionally manipulative true-life drama. It’s not without its faults and we could have done with more insight into Big Mike’s past but if you want heart-warming it doesn’t get much better than this.

And then Shoneesha said, "I didn't eat none of your damn porridge, motherfucker!"

Paul
Source: Cinema

Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) are two British comic nerds on an “alien tour” around the States who end up assisting a foul-mouthed dope smoking fugitive extra terrestrial called Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who is on the run from the real men in black headed up by Jason Bateman’s Agent Zoyle. Kristen Wiig rounds out the kooky cast adding extra charm as a backwoods Christian who has literally had the faith knocked out of her and Paul himself is super lovable. We were in stitches even though my Paul had to point out a lot of the sci-fi in jokes to me.

Nothing could prepare them for the sight of Nick Frost with his shirt off

Highlander
Source: Channel 5 Sunday night film

Christopher Lambert plays Connor MacLeod, a Scottish highlander who discovers he is part of an immortal race preparing for a final battle where only one of them will survive. The problem with getting a Frenchman to play a Scot and a Scot to play a Spaniard (Sean Connery playing MacLeod’s mentor, Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez) is that you end up giggling through all the serious bits as they mangle the accents. This is packed with stunning sword play but I just couldn’t stop laughing.

And een my sporren ah 'ave got ze baguette and ze escargot en case ah get 'ungry

Film Study… Week 27

Old Boy

Source: Paul’s DVD Collection
Oh Dae-Su (Min-sik Choi) is kidnapped and imprisoned, seemingly for no apparent reason. When he is suddenly released after fifteen years he is released and given fifteen days to work out who was behind his incarceration only to discover that it was only the beginning of his torture. Korean cinema tends to be brutal and impressively fucked up even by my standards and this does not disappoint. This is a masterpiece!

Oh Dae-Su apprached DIY with a level of focus rarely seen by the staff in Halfords

Harry Brown
Source: Paul’s DVD Collection

Michael Caine plays Harry Brown, a pensioner and former serviceman turned vigilante who decides to take back the council estate he lives on from the feral local youths who have murdered his best friend. If this were an American film Harry would have been an action hero despite his advancing years but this film manages to work within his limitations, giving him both a heart and a dark side. The local gang is potentially a little overblown but still a good watch.

So what you're trying to say is that that is just a gun in your pocket and you're not actually happy to see me at all?

Daybreakers
Source: Tesco DVD Rental

In a break from the traditional movie vampire scenario, in this film most of the world has been vampified and humans who have been refused to submit are considered enemies of the state and hunted to be farmed for their blood. With the extinction of the human race a real possibility and blood supplies running low, a leading vampire haematologist (Ethan Hawke) is kidnapped by Willem Defoe’s band of resisters who claim they have a cure. This could have been so good and it started well but it left me wishing I’d just watched Blade again instead.

Martha had forgotten to take her evening primrose oil that morning and PMS was not looking pretty

Commando
Source: Paul’s DVD Collection

I’m not sure what the best part of this 80’s army number is? Whether it’s the blistering dialogue, the breathtaking kidnap-love story, the weird relationship between Arnie and his screen daughter (a very young Alyssa Milano), the cracking plot or even the fact that the character’s name is Johnny Matrix? I wish I could cross over to so bad it’s good territory but all I kept thinking is, one day this man is probably going to be the president of the USA and then I felt scared…

Despite Arnie's failure to master the challenging technique of eating soft serve ice-cream successfully, he still went on to be the bestest Governator ever!

Film Study – Week 26

W.
Source: Tesco DVD Rental

This biopic about former US President George W. Bush Jnr (Josh Brolin) follows his life from his wild college days through to his two terms as the “leader of the free world”. In this outing he is portrayed as being stuck in his father’s shadow, constantly seeking approval with his good attentions manipulated by unscrupulous advisors. It was hardly riveting but still an interesting look at one of the most controversial leaders in US history.

Colin wasn't sure about Dubya's newly appointed congressmen but on the other hand at least they were more attractive than Condoleeza Rice

Skyline
Source: SFX Weekender

Aliens land on earth and suck humans into a glowing blue light when not swallow their brains into their giant face vaginas. The first two minutes were oh-so promising but when your intense invasion drama has a room full of hardened sci-fi fans in hysterics… something might have gone wrong. With cringe worthy dialogue, diabolical acting and plot holes so big you could drive a tank through them, this definitely lands in the so bad it’s bloody brilliant pile.

Eventually Jarrod had to admit that maybe he had spent too much time in front of the X-box

Monsters
Source: SFX Weekender

Six years after an alien invasion, half of Mexico is closed off as an infected quarantine zone. When photographer, Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is charged with shepherding his boss’ daughter, Sam (Whitney Able) home from Mexico, a series of misadventures forces them to place their hands in the lives of the locals and travel through the infected zone. More about the chemistry between the leads and the concept of the USA closing itself off from the “threat” down south than the aliens, this film really works the atmosphere angle. Definitely worth a watch.

Kaulder sincerely hoped that the picture on the cantina wall was not intended to depict the cooking method of the "squid special"

Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Source: SFX Weekender

Geeky rocker, Scott (Michael Cera) falls for enigmatic, uber-cool indie queen, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and then discovers that he will have to fight her seven evil exes in order to be with her. Not being a gamer or a comic aficionado I spent the first half an hour thinking this is silly! before I totally fell for it. The supporting cast is excellent and the idea of representing dealing with someone’s baggage as a series of battles is inspired. Love, love, love!

The members of the Witby First Presbyterian Church had expected the Angel Of Death to be a little more imposing

Film study… week 25

Knowing
Source: Tesco DVD Rental

Paul talked me into this one on the notion that it looked pretty creepy and sometimes Nicholas Cage is awesome. This is not one of those times. First of all he’s playing an astrophysics professor so that should tell you how believable it is. Anyway Professor Nick comes across a bit of paper that seems to have predicted every major world disaster in the last fifty years… and it’s claiming the world is about to end. At the same time a bunch of freaky gold dudes are communicating with his son through his hearing aid, which the kid wears even though he’s not deaf?? So much of this film makes zero sense and its apparent creationist conclusion made me vom in my mouth a bit. Two hours of my life I will never get back!

And they will call me... FLAME BOY!

Love, Honour, Obey
Source: Borrowed from Paul’s colleague

This British star packed gangster gem out-Richie’s Richie so it seems strange to me that it was never a hit but I loved it. North London gang boss, Ray (Ray Winston) has lived in peace with South London gang boss, Sean (Sean Pertwee) for years with both sides respecting an unspoken gentleman’s agreement, but when newbie Jonny (Jonny Lee Miller) joins intent on starting a gang war the peace is broken with disastrous consequences. Funny, dark  and very clever. If you liked Snatch you need to check this out.

If you mention Sienna Millar one more time I will blow your fucking head off

Star Trek: Insurrection
Source: Film 4

What am I gonna say… I fucking love Star Trek… I’m not an unbiased critic but anyway, when Data malfunctions on a mission, Captain Picard is called in to investigate uncovering a plot to remove a group of natives from a planet that emits some fancy kind of radiation that keeps the inhabitants forever young. Worf gets zits, Picard does the mambo, Troi’s boobs firm up and Data learns to play. Brilliant!

X-Factor season 234 and Simon Cowell is still in the judge's chair

Karate Kid
Source: Tesco DVD rental

I have to point out that this remake should have been called the kung-fu kid since there is zero karate in it whatsoever but never mind. Dre (Jaden “Son of Will” Smith) moves to China when his mom is relocated for work (what kind of woman name’s her kid after Doctor Dre??) and swiftly gets on the wrong side of the local kung-fu kids who kick the shit out of him (to be fair at that point in time he was annoying me so much I wanted to bitch slap him myself). In comes Jackie Chan in the Miyagi role to teach him not only how to defend himself but also respect and focus, blah, blah… Although this was bogged down in cliché by the end of it we were reluctantly riveted and it’s impossible to deny that it’s beautifully shot and the kung-fu bits are pretty wicked.

And if you do all your push ups I will let you have this beautiful stick

Film study – week 24

Mad Max 2
Source: Paprika, my external hard drive

In a post apocalyptic Australia, people in bondage gear chase each other around fighting for the last remaining petrol (what is it with dystopian 80’s films and bondage gear??). That is about the sum of the entire plot of this film, which is as low on character development as it is on plot and stars a near-mute Mel Gibson ( very pre-alcoholic rants). Surprisingly it is absolutely bloody brilliant. Not sure how that happened.

En route to Louis Spence's tea and bondage party

Magicians
Source: Paul’s DVD collection

Magicians, Kane and Allen (Robert Webb and David Mitchell) are the darlings of the UK entertainment scene, until a trick goes wrong and Kane accidentally decapitates his unfaithful wife, ruining both their careers in the process. Five years on they’re competing for the same magic title but can they ever repair their friendship? Darkly comic but ultimately nothing special.

The reason you can hear me in your brain is because I am the voice of every advert on British TV

Black Swan
Source: Cinema

Oh the symbolism! In this gruesome Gothic fairytale, fragile, virginal ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman), achieves the dream role of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake requiring her to play both the pure White Swan and her sensual evil twin, the Black Swan. Unable to connect with her emerging sexuality and stifled by her controlling mother, Nina’s grip with reality becomes looser and looser as she attempts to immerse herself in the role. Creepy, gory and beyond dark, this’ll freak you the fuck out. Natalie Portman is amazing.

I will not fart feathers, I will not fart feathers, I will not...

The Girl Who Played With Fire
Source: Tesco DVD Rental

In this follow-up to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) has been accused of murder while Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) tries to help her from afar… and there’s something going on with the underground sex trade. While this gives an interesting insight into Lisbeth’s past, large bits of the story don’t hang together and it all feels a bit rushed. A bit disappointing after the first one.

And then I audioned for KISS but they said I just wasn't feminine enough...

Film Study – week 23

17 Again

Source: Tesco DVD Rental
Even I need a little bit of silliness on occasion and I have a soft spot for teen movies. Mike O’Donnell’s life hasn’t quite turned out as he planned. His wife is about to leave him, he’s out of touch with his children and his promising basketball career has come to nothing. So when he wakes up to find out he is 17 Again and implausibly looks like Zac Efron, he decides to make the most of it. Average and predictable with occasional hints of funny.

What do you mean I'm going to look like Matthew Perry when I grow up? Where exactly is my chin going to go?

Defiance

Source: Tesco DVD Rental
Liev Schreiber, Daniel Craig and Jamie Bell play three Byelorussian Jewish brothers who set up a camp in a forest during the Second World War, hiding from and fighting the Nazis. While this is supposedly based on a true story, I couldn’t help but keep asking myself questions like, where did the wood-burning stoves come from?? And Daniel Craig and Jamie Bell are just too English to be passable Russian Jews. After having watching European war cinema, this just didn’t measure up.

I love you... but not as much as gun... which is why I take her to Miami and you are staying in forest!

Inglourious Basterds

Source: Paul’s DVD collection
Ever wondered what the Second World War would have been like if Tarantino directed it? Well Brad Pitt would have run a crack team of violent action hero American Jews on a mission to wipe out the Fuhrer, Hitler would have worn a cape and the biggest plot in history would have taken place in an obscure French cinema. Weird, convoluted and absolutely hilarious!

Right, we're ready, bring out the Parktown prawn!

Dig!
Source: Paul’s DVD collection
This documentary follows the fortunes of two rival 90’s American indie rock bands, The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. While the BJM, fronted by the brilliant Anton Newcombe, are arguably the better band, they are plagued by Anton’s manic self-destructive behaviour, allowing the more stable Dandy’s achieve major success mostly through the powerful musical influence of BJM. A fascinating look into the music industry and the psyche of a musician with “godlike genius” but the inability to interact with the real world.

Dude, your face is all like whoaaa!

Film Study… it’s back with week 22

After some soul searching and the acquisition of my new netbook, I have decided to bring back the weekly film blog. For those who can’t remember a year back I used to do a weekly round-up of four or more films that I had watched in the previous week from the external hard drive Fabio gave me. More info here. It was one of the most popular features I have ever done on this blog but when my old laptop, Frank, died, the featured died with him after week 21.

Now that Mr Osbiston is in part married to his new Xbox, I need to find something to amuse myself with so I don’t keep standing mournfully behind him whining as he shoots radioactive Nazis.  This time I will not be limiting it to the A – Z list from the external hard drive but also including the DVDs we get off Tesco film and anything we see at the cinema or on TV.

So I bring you, from the last week…

FILM STUDY WEEK 22!!!

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Source: Tesco DVD Rental
When disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist) is hired by aging corporate mogul, Henrik Vanger (Peter Haber) to find out what happened to his niece who disappeared 40 years ago, he doesn’t expect to find anything new. But it’s not long before, Mikael is caught up in a tangle of family secrets lies and betrayal. Mikael is reluctantly aided by Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a mysterious, ass-kicking Goth hacker with a massive dragon tattoo who can’t stay away from the case no matter how hard she tries. I haven’t read the books. Bad, I know but I heard good things about the films so I decided to buy into the hype and boy was it worth it. This film goes at 100 miles an hour with no-holds barred.

What do you mean I don't fit the profile for a community support officer?

I’m Not Scared

Source: Borrowed from a colleague
Ten year-old  dreamer, Michele, lives an idyllic but simple life in the Southern Italian countryside, playing with his friends, adored by his mother and hero-worshipping his truck-driver father but when he finds a boy chained up in a secret hole in a field, everything he holds sacred is plunged into threat. What makes this film so gripping is that the reactions of the children are so real and Michele’s motives both pure and petty are played out against his slow loss of innocence as he comes to the realisation that the adults he loves cannot be trusted.

It was a long way to China but Pedro was going to get there one way or another

Up In The Air

Source: Borrowed from a colleague
Travelling across the USA, firing people for a living, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is the king of the loyalty programme, focusing on racking up air miles and getting rid of baggage like family, friends and love. A chance meeting with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) a beautiful frequent traveller looking for no-strings fun provides the icing on the cake. But his “perfect life” is plunged into chaos when a young upstart called Natalie (Anna Kendrick) joins the company proposing a revolutionary new business plan that involves no travelling.  Forced to take Natalie on what could be his last trip, Ryan might just find his heart if he doesn’t go crazy first, but is it too late? Dark, funny and frustrating. Loved it.

She knew she had left the last rolo somewhere? But where, dammit? Where?

Film study… week 21

Kinsey
A biopic about biologist, Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson), who became fascinated with the field of sexual research, leading to the publication of one of the first works in which science addresses sexual behaviour as well as the Kinsey sexuality scale. Kinsey’s obsession with the scientific side of sex as well as his exploration of his own sexual appetites is fascinating. Worth checking out.

I told you we should spring for the extra large condoms, dear!

La Battaglia Di Algerie
A study of the decade leading up to Algieria’s independence from France in 1962 with a focus on the Muslim leaders of the revolution during occupation. What makes this film really interesting is the absolute matter-of-fact way that it presents something that would have been turned into some kind of hero-epic if Hollywood ever got its hands on it. It makes everything seem very real and tangible. Very thought provoking.

Mom, how many times to I have to tell you, you don't have to bring your gun to the supermarket!

La Haine
A young Parisian man lies in hospital after an act of police brutality in the French equivalent of a council estate, while his friends (lead by a very Young Vincent Cassel) stalk the streets having found the missing gun of a cop the night before. Dark, gritty and intense. Hubert Koundé completely steals the show as a tough boxer, wrestling with his own conscience.

Is this the face that inspired Shrek?

Ladri Di Biciclette
When a desperate man finally finds a job in post-war Rome, that requires him to have a bicycle, his wife pawns their sheets for him to get it. His hope of dragging his family out of poverty is crushed, when a day into the job, the bicycle is stolen and he takes to the streets with his young son, Bruno, to try and find it. It sounds so simple, but this film is absolutely stunning. The little boy who plans Bruno is incredible.

Don't tell your mom, but today I think we should take the bicycle and ride dirty!

Film study… week 20

Ken Park
After the suicide of a young skateboarder, the eponymous Ken Park, four disaffected teenagers who knew him tell their stories. With a dubious connection not only to Ken Park but also to each other, apart from a surprisingly sweet but weird threesome) this seems like an excuse to string together a series of disturbing scenarios, rather than telling any kind of coherent story. Maybe I just didn’t get it but I really wouldn’t bother.

When you suggested that I do some chores for my allowance, mom, this was not what I had in mind!

Kidulthood
A group of inner city London teenagers is given a day off after their bullied classmate commits suicide. In the lead up to an inevitably bloody conclusion at the party taking place that night they engage in sex, drugs and violence while finding out a lot about themselves and each other and what they can and can’t handle. Despite the fact that there is an element of caricature and heavy-handedness in the script, I really liked this and found it really identifiable as a London resident.

How come we can never find those Cullens when we feel like playing baseball?

Kiki’s Delivery Service
I’m a huge Miyazaki fan and this tale of a young witch leaving home and starting up her own delivery business was charming, but it’s not his best. Maybe it was because I had the English dub rather than the original Japanese with subtitles. It still kicks Disney’s lame ass but it’s no Spirited Away or My Neighbour Tortoro.

Where's Wally goes aerial

Kingdom Of Heaven
A blacksmith (Orlando Bloom) loses his young wife to suicide (it’s fricking suicide city this week) after the stillbirth of their baby. Questioning his faith, he pops off his priest brother (a detail which seems to be swept under the rug almost immediately), discovers that his absent father (Liam Neeson) is a knight and heads for Jerusalem to join the Crusades. Somehow, it seems through knobbing the lepromatous king’s already married sister, he becomes the defender of Jerusalem and then whinges and pours boiling oil on people for two and a half hours before coming to the amazing moral conclusion that lyk Christens an Muzlims can be frendz, innit? Cuz religionz an ting iz all bullshit, yeah? The shame here is that I almost thought Orlando (I should have just stayed an elf) was hot for three seconds after he got out of the bath naked.

It was only when they gave her the sword that Pippi Longstocking realised that her superhuman strength and manly appearance had gottten her into trouble again

Film study… week 19

Into The Wild
Top student Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) gives away his life savings, renames himself Alexander Supertramp and vanishes to hitchhike across America with the plan of taking on Alaska alone and discovering himself and the meaning of life. While Chris’ natural innocent charm and sincerity makes an impact on everyone he encounters, his parents are left puzzled, unaware of how the violence and emotional neglect in his home has left him feeling alienated not only from them but from society in general.  The ultimate conclusion of this true story is heartrending and both the cinematography and Hirsch’s turn as McCandless are beautiful. Must see.

Look, Edward, I know he doesn't look much like you, but I promise you you're the father

Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
Ah, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) so scene-stealingly wonderful in small doses and so absolutely painfully annoying in an entire feature film. The story is absolutely irrelevant this is just a vehicle for dick jokes and endless cameos by actor/director Smith’s friends. Go watch Dogma or Mallrats again instead.

The forums are right, Ben, Daredevil IS one of the worst films ever made

Joe Strummer… The Future Is Unwritten
This documentary about legendary musician, Joe Strummer (most well-known as the front man of punk-pioneers, The Clash) looks at his journey from hippie to punk to techno hippie to man without labels in his desperate desire to bring people together and inspire them to fight for what they believe in. Calling on friends and family as well as Joe’s own radio broadcasts, this is a touching insight into an icon who changed the musical landscape forever.

From a time when rock stars were too cool for colour

John Tucker Must Die
Where does the misogyny bred by romcom’s begin… why in the teen years of course. This little Gossip Girl meets He’s Just Not That Into You debacle, pits a group of scorned teenage girls against the school “player” as they enlist the new girl to help them break his heart like he broke theirs. Ugh… vomit… also with this kind of shiz, you either have to go Skins or High School Musical… there is no inbetween. The “I’m a total slut but in a cute fun way you’d be proud of” thing is disturbing to say the least.

This is the best sex change I've ever seen, you'd never know he used to be in the Pussycat Dolls!

Film study… week 18

Hot Fuzz
When top cop, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), starts to outshine his colleagues, they conspire to get him transferred to a small town. Things are not as sleepy as they appear to be and Angel soon starts to suspect that there is a conspiracy afoot. This film is supposed to be hilarious but really it’s no Shaun Of The Dead and by the last half hour, I had completely lost interest. It also does nothing to dispel the myth that everyone who lives in the country is mental.

Angel expecting picking up birds in the country might be a bit different but this was ridiculous

Angel expected picking up birds in the country might be a bit different but this was ridiculous

I Think I Love My Wife
Richard Cooper (Chris Rock) has the “perfect life”. He is a successful investment banker and has a beautiful wife and too adorable children. But he’s bored senseless. When an old crush reappears in his life, she manages to turn everything upside down. This is one of the top five worst films I have ever seen. The “musical ending” was so ridiculous and cringeworthy that I briefly considered throwing Frank across the room. Seriously… I wanted to shoot myself. Avoid at all costs.

Huh?

What do you mean I'm a horrible misogynist, look at the amazing outfit I've put you in!

Idiocracy
Joe Bauer (Luke Wilson) is frozen in a military experiment and wakes up in a future where “survival of the fittest” has become “survival of those who can breed the most”. The world is now so dumbed down that the very average Joe is easily the smartest man alive. We’re talking a world where “Ow, My Balls” is the top rated show, the president of the USA is a wrestler, the national newspaper is called “Hot naked chicks and stuff” and Starbucks serves coffee… and handjobs. So really not that different from now. Despite numerous plot holes, I absolutely loved his. Seriously, laugh-out-loud-even-if-you’re-watching-it-alone funny.

Total Wipeout USA... the next generation

Total Wipeout USA... the next generation

Mou Gaan Dou (Infernal Affairs)
This Hong Kong cop drama is sited as the inspiration for The Departed and the homage paid is clear from the start. Two young police cadets end up in undercover operations of a very different nature. Lau Kin-Ming is a mole for Triad crime lord Sam, working his way up in the police force, while Chen Wing Yan is un undercover cop working as part of Sam’s gang and informing the police. When Lau is put in charge of internal affairs to find out who the mole is in the police department, the situation soon starts to spiral out of control. Although some parts of the story are underdeveloped, this is a corker and I can understand why Scorsese wanted to have a crack at it.

They got Jack Nicholson to play me in the Western version. His cheeks were not chubby enough. I do NOT approve

They got Jack Nicholson to play me in the Western version. His cheeks were not chubby enough. I do NOT approve

Film study… week 17

High Fidelity
After his girlfriend leaves him, neurotic, self-obsessed record store owner, Rob (John Cusack) analyses his past relationships and break-ups, mostly completely missing the point. Cusack is in absolutely top-form in this angsty comedy and just about manages to escape being upstaged by his geeky sidekicks, played by Jack Black and Todd Louiso. (On that topic where the hell is John Cusack these days, I miss him!) Awesome!

What do you mean my shirt looks like I found it in a dumpster?

What do you mean my shirt looks like I found it in a dumpster?

Hocus Pocus
Teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) moves to Salem, gets his shoes stolen and feels sorry for himself. Then in an attempt to impress the school hottie he manages to bring three child-eating witches, played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, back from the dead on Halloween. There’s a chance I might have enjoyed this at the time it first came out in 1993, when I was 12… you know if there was nothing as intellectually challenging as The Teletubbies on.

The years hadn't been kind to Charlotte or Miranda but at least Carrie was wearing something slightly less outrageous than usual

The years hadn't been kind to Charlotte or Miranda but at least Carrie was wearing something slightly less outrageous than usual

Hollywoodland
It’s 50’s Hollywood and TV’s Superman, George Reeves (Ben Affleck) has supposedly committed suicide. While we watch sleazy detective, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) investigate the suspicious circumstances around Reeves’ death, the events of his life play out concurrently. I absolutely loved this. Ben Affleck turns out an uncharacteristically good performance and for some unknown reason I find Adrien Brody ridiculously sexy… I think I’m the only one though.

I'm so hot, there's smoke coming out of my phone

I'm so hot, there's smoke coming out of my phone

Honey
Ok, I’ll admit it, my one concession to cheese is the dance movie genre and so I’ve seen rather a lot of these formulaic little “gems”. In this one, barlady and dance teacher, Honey Daniels (Jessica Alba) is spotted by a talent scout and is soon not only starring in music videos but choreographic them. Unfortunately her slimy mentor, director Michael Ellis (David Moscow) wants to get her into bed and when Honey refuses her career and her plans to build an inner-city dance studio go down the toilet. (Picture lines like, “I really needed that money… not for me, for the KIDS!”)  What will Honey do? The film attempts to portray Honey as some kind of dancing saint, while oiling her up and putting her in skimpy outfits… hmmm and there are more unnecessary subplots than you can shake a stick at… also Alba is completely out-acted by Lil’ Romeo and Zachary Williams who play the kids.

Honey: He gave me his number, should I have sex with him? Gina: Do it for the kids!

Honey: He gave me his number, should I have sex with him? Gina: Do it for the kids!