Tag Archives: film study

Film Friday… Week 86

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Nine years after his mother’s death at the hands of a vampire, young Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) plots his revenge. He’s spotted by vampire hunter, Henry (Dominic West) who recruits him, teaches him his secrets and sends him off to Illinois to dispatch some of the living dead. When Abe discovers that Henry is himself a vampire, he decides it’s time to pack in the vampire hunting and change the world through political means, at which point the vampires who are chasing him down, inexplicably leave him alone for about twenty-five years. Eventually Abe’s desire for the emancipation of all people regardless of race sparks a civil war, the vampires are fighting for the other side and Abe must once again pick up his trusty axe. Where do I even start with this one? There is zero character development, the film fails to live by its own mythology, there are huge plot holes and frankly, apart from the blistering action sequences, it was really, really boring. I really wouldn’t bother, especially in dire 3D. 1/5

The question I have to axe you is… do you feel lucky today punk? Well do you?

Magnolia

The seemingly unconnected lives of a series of characters come together on one rainy day in The San Fernando Valley, in this study of the nature of coincidence. From the failed child prodigy (William H Macy) wrestling with his sexuality to the sleazy “motivational” speaker (Tom Cruise) and the reformed gold digger (Julianne Moore) facing the death of her husband (Jason Robards), there is a lot to get your teeth into here and even with a running time of over three hours, it’s engrossing. Very highly recommended. 4/5

Fuck you… and the horse you road in on!

Dread

College student, Stephen (Jackson Rathbone) is surprised but pleased when charismatic classmate, Quaid (Shaun Evans) offers to assist him with his dissertation and suggests a study on fear. When Quaid volunteers to be part of the study, Stephen discovers that Quaid is plagued by terrible flashbacks from an incident in his childhood and it soon becomes evident that his obsession with fear goes far beyond the limits of their project. This film is in places brilliantly disturbing but it takes an eternity of self-conscious poncing about to get to the point and the acting from the male leads is sub-par. 2/5

What do you mean my hair looks like a badger died on my head…

Red Riding Hood

In a medieval village terrorised by a werewolf, a young woman named Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is promised to a blacksmith (Max Irons, son of Jeremy, phwoar), despite the fact that she is in love with her childhood best friend (Shiloh Fernandez, sporting an unlikely boy band haircut), a lowly woodcutter. When the wolf kills Valerie’s sister, the local priest (Lukas Haas) calls in a sinister wolf hunter (Gary Oldman), who has the villagers turning on each other when he announces that the wolf lives amongst them. I get the feeling someone decided it would be a good idea to cash in on the new fashion for adapting fairy tales and shoehorned this script into the idea rather than the other way around, leaving it higgledy-piggeldy and often devoid of any logic. The acting and dialogue are dire and Seyfried is even more annoying than usual. Avoid. 1/5

Valerie was starting to wonder if taking all that acid before going for a walk in the snow was a good idea

Film Friday… week 76

Your Highness

Tempted by the idea of a farce along the lines of Robin Hood: Men In Tights, I found myself watching Your Highness and almost instantly regretting it. Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride) has always lived in the shadow of his heroic brother Fabious (James Franco) but when Fabious’ bride (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by an evil sorceror, Thadeous decides to join the rescue in order to prove himself. What made Men In Tights cool was that it was clever and tongue-in-cheek but Your Highness is so crude that I found myself cringing at every opportunity and wondering why Franco, Deschanel and Natalie Portman (who randomly strips off, while appearing as a warrior princess) agreed to this drivel. Avoid.

It's Subo, naked! Kill it! Kill it!

Horrible Bosses

Friends Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) are all plagued by horrible bosses. Trapped in their increasingly unfulfilling jobs, they decide the only solution is murder. There’s no denying that this is film is extremely silly but it also packs some pretty serious laughs and Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Anniston and Colin Farrell all clearly have a whale of a time playing the outrageous bosses. Good fun if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted giggle or if your boss has been driving your mad.

I know it was you that stole my Hello Kitty handbag and when I figure out how to prove it, you're going DOWN!

Moneyball

In this real life sports flick, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the manager of a beleaguered baseball club called the Oakland A’s. Stuck for budget and desperate to win, Beane employs statistician, Peter Brand (A pre-skinny Jonah Hill) to help him choose his players according to mathematical formulae, much to the horror of everyone else involved in the club. Pitt is excellent as the unorthodox Beane and you don’t have to understand baseball to get sucked into this gripping story.

Bob was always happiest on the days when a new My Little Pony collection was announced

The Muppets

When uber-fan, Walter discovers that The Muppets are going to lose their famous theatre to Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) he ropes his brother, Gary (Jason Segal) and Gary’s long suffering girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams) into helping him convince The Muppets to reform for one show. But does anyone even remember The Muppets? And how will Walter decide if he’s a manly muppet or a muppet of a man? This is very cute and very cheerful and likely to put a smile on your face. It was probably a little bit too saccharine for me but if you need cheering up, go for it. Also if you’re a fan of Flight of The Conchords, you’ll be able to see music director, Bret McKenzie’s stamp all over this.

It didn't take Mary and Gary long to get carried away with their muppet obsession

Film Friday… week 75

Paycheck

Ben Affleck plays Mike Jennings, an engineer who routinely works on confidential projects, allowing his employers to erase his memory to safeguard their secrets. When he is offered a massive pay check to give up three years of his memories, he can’t resist but when he wakes up the money is gone and he’s wanted for murder. With no memory of what’s happened, Mike has to piece together the clues he’s left for himself to get to the bottom of just what exactly he’s invented and what the implications are. This starts out well but towards the end it becomes a bit ridiculous and the whole thing never gets much past average.

Will this machine really make me forget years of my life? Could you erase Daredevil please?

Say Anything

This iconic Cameron Crowe romantic drama stars John Cusack as romantic underachiever, Lloyd Dobbler as he convinces beautiful overachiever, Diane Court (Ione Skye) to fall for him. While Lloyd and Diane try to navigate life after high school as well as what their feelings for each other mean, Diane’s life starts to fall apart in the background when the father she hero-worships proves not to be quite who she thought he was. Beautiful and subtle, this multi-textured coming-of-age film really captures the confusion and intensity of falling in love for the first time. Definitely worth a watch.

Lloyd's boom box aerobics weren't catching on quite like he'd hoped

Scream 4

I grew up with the Scream franchise so I couldn’t resist checking you this fourth instalment. This time Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is back in Woodsboro to promote her book on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the original Ghostface murders. Unsurprisingly, Ghostface appears to be back, along with bickering married couple Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox) and Sherriff Dewey (David Arquette), except this time the target is Sidney’s niece, Jill (Emma Roberts) and her group of friends. I’ll admit a genuine gasp of surprise when the killer was revealed but for the most part this unscary horror plods along. Probably not worth the effort.

Any minute the turkey would come around the corner and Christmas dinner would be on!

2 Days in The Valley

On the hottest weekend of the year in the San Fernando Valley a complex hit job takes place leaving behind an interwoven thread of mayhem and misdeed that converge over two bloody days. Famously known for launching Charlize Theron’s career, this twisted satire is smart and funny and has late nineties stamped all over it… in a good way.

Dear, your pulse is racing. Was it all the excitement of a new vacuum cleaner?

Film Friday… week 74

Take Me Home Tonight

Four years after graduation, genius Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is working in a video shop much to the disgust of his parents. When his high school dream girl, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) walks in one day he takes the bold step of agreeing to go to his sister’s (Anna Faris) boyfriend’s (Chris Pratt) party along with his insane best friend (Dan Fogler). In attempting to impress Tori, Matt tells a rather large porky, putting their fledgling romance at risk. Attempting to make an 80’s style teen comedy post the 80’s might have sounded like a good idea but somehow the glorious clichés that were so much fun in the 80’s don’t transplant well and while this is not a bad film it’s just so predictable, it’s hard to stay engaged. Excellent soundtrack though. Recommendation: re-watch Sixteen Candles.

Teresa had a bright future ahead as a Kristen Stewart look-alike artist

Solaris

A psychologist (George Clooney) is summoned to a space ship orbiting a mysterious planet called Solaris, after the crew report strange happenings. Soon odd things begin to happen to him and he is forced to question the very nature of existence. It’s hard to say much about this film without giving away too much. I didn’t enjoy this dark, claustrophobic bit of sci-fi but if you were a fan of things like Moon you might.

Did you ever get that feeling your head was like... a bubble...

The Most Fertile Man in Ireland

Kris Marshall plays Eamon Hanley, a shy Irish Catholic dating agency worker obsessed with, Rosie (Kathy Kiera Clarke) who works in a nearby funeral home and doesn’t know he exists. When Eamon strays from his romantic path and impregnates local tart, Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill) he finds himself being pimped out for his sperm by an opportunistic colleague (Bronagh Gallagher). At the same time he finally manages to catch Rosie’s eye but what will happen when she finds out that Eamon is the father of half the children in the surrounding area. There is something wonderfully surreal about the hyper-colour cinematography that gives this film a weirdly cartoonish feel but it probably could have done without the weird IRA subplot. Harmless fun if you fancy something a bit different.

That distraught feeling when you realise your man bag just doesn't match your shirt

True Grit

When fourteen year-old Mattie Ross’ (Hailee Steinfield) father is murdered by one of his employees she is determined to bring his killer to justice, employing drunken, trigger-happy U.S. Marshall, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). It’s not long before they’re joined by righteous Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who is also on the murderer’s trail. But Cogburn and LaBoeuf just can’t get on and neither of these wild west “heroes” is comfortable taking orders from a teenage girl, no matter how determined she might be but at the end of the day only one thing counts, whether you have true grit. Steinfield is phenomenal as Mattie and it’s hard not to get sucked in to this Cohen brothers remake of the original. Highly recommended.

"Just hold still for one more moment", he thought. "And I'll have your hat..."

Film Friday… week 73

Hamlet

In the mid to late 90’s there was a spate of reimagined Shakespeare remakes kicked off by the gorgeous Baz Luhrman take on Romeo and Juliet. This modern day, old language version of Hamlet set in New York falls into that group. To some extent I can’t comment on how good an adaptation of the original play this is, as I’ve never studied it but I felt like this film went on forever and just didn’t provide the reward for the time investment. I would suggest not bothering.

Look, you don't need a woolly hat AND sunglasses. Pick a season, Hamlet!

The Green Hornet

When feckless playboy, Britt Reid’s (Seth Rogen) father dies, he has some pretty big shoes to fill, but rather than manning up, he convinces his father’s mechanic Kato (Jay Chou) to join him in becoming a crime fighter called The Green Hornet. Before long Britt is in way over his head and Los Angeles’ crime kingpin, Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) is after him. But is there more to his father’s death than he initially realised? Mr Osbiston enjoyed this heartily but I found it silly and annoying with Chudnofsky’s wonderfully mental behaviour being the only thing worth watching for. Only for “based on a comic” fans.

Do you feel like a douche in this outfit? Because I feel like a douche in this outfit.

Priest

A dystopian society controlled by a sinister religious order hides behind walls after the end of a brutal war with vampires. When a warrior priest (Paul Bettany) discovers that his niece has been kidnapped he goes rogue to try and find her, enraging the religious order and uncovering a threat more terrible that he ever imagined. It might be because I watched this when I was in the throes of illness but I had a tough time following the story of this dark, graphic novel inspired action tale. That said, although it lacked things like character development or logic, there was something quite stylish about it. You could do worse.

Bob woke up feeling a bit "bitey"

The Hunger Games

This adaptation of the bestselling novel is set in a future where the United States has been reborn as Panem, a country divided up into twelve zones controlled by a greedy, corrupt Capitol. Each zone is forced to send children as tributes to fight to death in a display of the Capitol’s power and control. When Prim Everdeen (Willow Shields) is chosen as the female tribute, her sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is compelled to volunteer in her place. Well-paced, brilliantly acted and exceptionally haunting, The Hunger Games is a must-see, drawing several parallels with our wealth-obsessed, reality TV driven society. You’ll enjoy it whether you’ve read the book or not but I’d suggest that it adds to the experience by giving you a much more in-depth understanding of the politics.

Katniss seemed less than thrilled that she'd won the "most tangerine dress award"

Film Friday… week 72

Brazil

Jonathan Pryce stars as a bureaucrat attempting to fix an administrative error in this bonkers Terry Gilliam imagining of a near-off future controlled by a faceless state. It’s almost too loopy to describe and focusing on the substance rather than the style here would almost be a mistake, as Gilliam uses light sound and atmosphere to create the very clear understanding that all is not right with the world in a way that supersedes plot. A case in point is the soundtrack, which is made up almost entirely of different versions of the song Aquarela do Brazil by Ary Barroso, at times gleeful… at others time sinister or tragic. It is an absolutely brilliant example of dystopian science fiction that will set a chill up your spine, if for no other reason than looking at the way a pre-mobile phone, pre-internet society imagined the future.

What do you mean I'm the only one that dressed up? You said it was a space angel party!

 Dolores Claiborne

When her mother, Dolores (Kathy Bates) is accused of murdering her long-time employer (Judy Parfitt), journalist, Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh) returns to the hometown she loathed to try and make sense of what has happened. The deeper she digs the more she discovers that things are not what they seem, including her own memories. This plodding adaptation of Stephen King’s eponymous novel did little for me. I remember loving the book but I found it hard to keep focused on the story or the characters.

"That'll be the last time she wears my apron!" Sam thought to himself.

The Eagle

According to legend the entire Ninth Legion of Roman soldiers stationed in Britain disappeared into the Northern mountains, carrying their solid gold eagle banner. Twenty years later, Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) the son of the commander of the Ninth Legion returns to the mountains with his British slave, Esca (Jamie Bell) to find the eagle and restore his family’s good name. I think this is very much a movie about boys made for boys. I couldn’t resist muttering.  “Stop being such a dickhead and just grow up!” to myself through most of the film. Lots of swords and sandles… not much substance… virtually zero female characters.

Hey! Why you no wear bone hat?

The Last Picture Show

This 50’s set epic depicts the coming of age of a group of high schoolers trapped in a backwards West Texas town that is slowly dying. Caught between morality and savagery and control vs desire best friends, Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges) learn about love and life as they fall in and out of love with the same vapid girl (Cybill Sheperd). I’m not quite sure what to make of this. In some ways it’s a classic but I found that it dragged and I just didn’t feel it the same way some of the critics seem to have. I’m all for bleak realism but there was nothing redeeming about this one. Watch to say you’ve seen it but beware the creeping depression that follows.

When all else failed, Alice always had her middle finger to fall back on. Take that, society!

Film study… week 71

Offside

Banned from entering because of their gender, a group of female Iranian football fans attempt to sneak into Azadi Stadium in Tehran to watch a World Up qualifier. When they are arrested and corralled outside, waiting to be transferred to the vice squad to be charged, the women get to know each other and the soldiers who are holding them. The whole film is an interesting juxtaposition that lays bare the hypocrisies around the policies that the soldiers are being made to uphold. The film is both a moving social commentary and an amusing comedy. I found it charming and touching. Highly recommended.

Bond found his latest disguise was less than convincing

Kenny

A mocumentary about a portaloo supervisor probably sounds a bit shit (pun intended) but this peek into the fictional Kenny Smyth’s (Shane Jacobson) life is one of the most heart-warming films I’ve ever seen. Packing the same kind of punch as The Castle, salt of the earth Kenny proves that life is what you make it and that it’s possible to take pride in what you do, no matter what that is. Kenny is surrounded by naysayers, from his negative father and brother to his unreasonable ex-wife but somehow manages to see the silver-lining on everything, without ever being saccharine or unrealistic. This is an absolute must-see even if only for the incredible catchphrases, like:

There’s a smell in here that will outlast religion.

From the back she looked like a fridge with a head.

Mad as a clown’s cock.

You can’t be going around like a raw prawn.

And if you look up there you'll see some charming, wet toilet paper art

Mary Reilly

And now for a little bit of Gothic fiction. This unusual take on the Jekyll and Hyde story is told through the eyes of housemaid, Mary Reilly (Julia Roberts) who, in becoming closer to her master, Dr Jekyll (John Malkovich), realises that there is something suspicious and very tantalising about his mysterious assistant, Mr Hyde. I really thought this was going to be a bit rubbish but I actually loved it. It crawls along at a bit of a snail’s pace but that adds to the increasingly dark atmosphere. Malkovich manages to be both sexy and creepy (as always) and Julia Roberts is surprisingly good, as the conflicted, Mary. Probably only good though if you like this kind of thing though. I can imagine a lot of people might fall asleep before the good bits.

Check out my new cologne, it's Gucci, do you like it?

No Strings Attached

Basically this is Friends With Benefits’ poorer, more boring cousin. Doctor, Emma (Natalie Portman) and screenwriter, Adam (Ashton Kutcher) agree to a “no strings attached” casual sex relationship, but it’s not long before Adam falls for Emma and all hell breaks loose. Unlike Friends With Benefits, which is sexy and often hilarious, this just felt flat. The leads have little chemistry and Portman is so annoying you kind of hope she’ll get hit by a bus halfway through. Please don’t bother.

I said, I'm a little bit HOARSE not, I've bought a HORSE!

Film study… week 69

Birthday Girl

John, (Ben Chaplin) a lonely small town British bank worker, orders a Russian bride called Nadia (Nicole Kidman) online, only to discover that he’s been sucked into an elaborate scheme.  While this film did have a bit of quirky charm, I found Ben extremely creepy… and I’m not sure he was supposed to be. Vincent Cassel was, as always, wonderful as one of Nadia’s thuggish accomplices but as a whole it didn’t blow me away and the storyline wasn’t engaging enough to distract me from questions of legality around the marriage and likelihood of banks just handing out safe keys to random employees….

Ben soon came to the realisation that Jenny wasn't kidding when she said she had their future "mapped out"

Creation

I wanted to love Creation. It stars Paul Bettany. It’s about Charles Darwin, whose theories shaped so much of what we know about evolution. It tells the story of his life from the angle of his family life, showing who he was as a person… even Benedict Cumberbatch pops up. But I didn’t love it. I was bored. The way Darwin’s relationship with his eldest daughter, Annie (Martha West) was portrayed was lovely but it wasn’t enough to hold the film together, even combined with the natural chemistry between Bettany and his real life wife, Jennifer Connelly playing his devoutly religious on-screen wife, Emma. Watch, but only if you’re in the mood for something really slow moving.

This is the last time I ever take acid...

Raging Bull

Raging bull follows the life story of Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro), a promising boxer, whose success in the ring is marred by his destructive emotional behaviour outside it. Filmed in black and white, director Martin Scorsese succeeds in creating a tense and gritty atmosphere as the largely unlikable La Motta’s life falls apart. It’s hard to review this independent of the massive hype around it. I wouldn’t say that I loved Raging Bull. It was a hard watch. I will say though, that the acting is exceptional and the story riveting, if not equally disturbing and depressing. Praise is heaped on De Niro for his impressive turn as La Motta but Joe Pesci, playing his brother, Joey and Cathy Moriarty (what happened to her?) are equally good. If you have any intention of being regarded as a film buff you have to see Raging Bull but don’t expect to like La Motta.

She was powerless to resist his magnificent white y-fronts

This is England

Misfit Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) befriends a group of older skinheads who are kind to him after he’s been bullied. When their friend Combo (Stephen Graham) returns from prison with aggressive racist ideas, the group splits down the middle, leaving Shaun in way over his head. Having not been in Britain in the 80’s I can’t comment on how accurate a portrayal of the Thatcher era this is, but I have it on good authority that it is. That aside, I found this an engaging and interesting study of what shapes a person’s ideologies and how feelings of powerlessness breed hatred. There is also a sense of watching a car-crash about to happen and being unable to look away. Definite must-see. And if you’re a bit of a Brit yoof TV addict like me, look out for Joe Gilgun (Rudy from Misfits) playing Woody, Jack O’Connell (Cook from Skins) playing Puke and Michael Socha (Tom from Being Human) playing a bully.

Shaun's sign language lessons where not going according to plan

Film study… week 68

The Town

A young bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall) is kidnapped during a robbery. When one of the robbers, Doug (Ben Affleck) checks up on her later he finds himself falling for her without Claire realising who he is. Somehow with this description I’ve made The Town sound like a romcom but it’s far from that, combining Doug’s emotional rollercoaster – as he is torn between the idea of a life with Claire versus the environment he has grown up in – with some really tense action sequences. The characters show real development during the film and it’s a totally gripping watch. Highly recommended.

Affirmative nunnery... cos rosary beads are expensive

Little Fockers

This is part three in the Meet The Parents franchise. Greg (Ben Stiller) and Pam (Teri Polo) are now the parents of twins. In the lead-up to the twins’ birthday party, Greg starts working with a beautiful sales rep (Jessica Alba) who is inexplicably besotted with him, everything goes wrong and Jack (Robert De Niro) is still banging on about the circle of trust. Although I like a bit of cringe comedy, The Fockers just aren’t funny anymore. Don’t bother.

It was at this precise moment that Ramona decided her brother's days were numbered

Made in Dagenham

Based on a true story, this slice of 60’s working class Brit drama follows the story of a group of female Ford factory workers who lead a strike against sexual discrimination. Rita O’Grady plays Sally Hawkins, the initially reluctant ring-leader of a local strike who discovers that women are paid less across the board, kicking off a worldwide equal rights movement. Pretty inspiring stuff and a sobering reminder of just how recently it was perfectly expected practise to just routinely pay women less on principle.

Give us equal pay or we will make you wear these hideous clothes!

Jumper

A near-death experience leads David (Hayden Christensen) to discover that he can “jump” from one place to another instantaneously. Clearly bereft of any morals, David goes about robbing banks and eating burritos on international landmarks… until Roland (Samuel L Jackson), part of some kind of secret “jumper police” (sounds like the cardigan cops) catches up with him and wants to kill him. At this point he decides it’s time to look up his childhood sweetheart, Millie (Rachel Bilson) and take her to Rome on holiday, which she agrees to despite not having seen him in eight years… but Roland isn’t done with him yet. Maybe this worked as a book but between David being a completely unsympathetic character, Hayden Christensen being a terrible actor and the mythology being extremely patchy, it just really lacked substance. Don’t bother.

It's okay... I know I'm a twat. I've accepted it. If this relationship is going to continue, you need to accept it too.

FIlm study… week 66

St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold

The first St Trinian’s film was kind of cute and funny in its irreverent silliness but making a second one was just overkill. It smacks of an attempt to cash in and you can tell that it was a vastly inferior product by the fact that half the original cast didn’t return and those that did seem embarrassed to be there. There are secret societies and pirates and a treasure… and David Tennant, but not even he can save it. Avoid.

Made In Chelsea... Nights!

Platoon

A young Vietnam War volunteer (a remarkably fresh-faced Charlie Sheen) finds himself in a platoon where the boundaries of right and wrong have been worn away by the horrors of war. When two rival sergeants (Tom Berenger and Willem Defoe) clash over the treatment of some villagers, the platoon must take sides with fatal consequences. This seminal war film personifies the genre and is a must-see, although be prepared to leave feeling utterly disgusted with humanity.

Somehow the 1972 Vietnam Hunks calendar just wasn't flying off the shelves

Limitless

Bradley Cooper plays an unemployed writer who is introduced to NZT, a drug that allows him to use 100% of his brain. Soon he is rich and successful beyond his wildest dreams but when the side-effects of the drug manifest themselves he realises he might be in way over his head. This actually really wasn’t bad. Cooper is believable as both a loser and a slick genius and although I initially scoffed at the ending, in hindsight it was actually rather clever. The only real downside is the lack of chemistry between Cooper and Abbie Cornish, who plays his put-upon girlfriend.

And den de wurds just fallz from de sky... and dat's how I writez de book

Wuthering Heights

In order to clarify which one of the numerous adaptations of Emily Brontë’s Gothic novel, I’m talking about. This is the 1992 version, starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes as cursed lovers, Cathy and Heathcliffe. We all know the story, posh Cathy falls in love with her wild foster brother, Heathcliff. Cathy spurns Heathcliff for more refined friends, Heathcliff takes umbrage and runs off, only to return and ruin everyone’s life out of spite. This should have worked but Fiennes isn’t broodingly beautiful enough to pull off Heathcliffe (I keep looking at him and seeing Voldemort) and I’m pretty sure, Yorkshire lass, Cathy didn’t have a thick French accent… read the book.

And this year's Oscar for best use of Smell The Fart Acting goes to...

Film Study… week 64

An Affair To Remember

Back to the classics with this one. During an ocean cruise, Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) meets famous man-about-town, Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant). Although neither of them is available, they fall in love and agree to meet six months later at the top of the Empire State Building, but something prevents Terry from arriving and their burgeoning romance is put under threat.  I know this film is supposed to be the height of romance but I was a bit puzzled by the fact that the spanner in the works appears to be mostly around a woman’s fear that a man will reject her because she is disabled… which I just couldn’t get my head around.

Look, darling, I know I had the garlic last night but can we please at least sit at the same table!

St Elmo’s Fire

This Brat Pack classic follows the lives of a group of friends as they leave college and struggle to come to terms with the real world. The themes are pretty broad in this one… drug addiction, infidelity, bizarre obsessions with virtual strangers, sex and sexuality… some bits are great and some bits are a bit predictable… but if you’re a fan of the 80’s you’ll enjoy it… especially if you like a bit of Andrew McCarthy… woof!

The 80's... when bad hair happened to good people

Crazy, Stupid, Love

When suburban dad, Cal’s (Steve Carrell) marriage breaks down, he seeks advice from serial seducer, Jacob (Ryan Gosling) but Jacob is not immune to the lure of real love and Cal can’t quite suppress the inner dorky dad lurking between his new smooth exterior. This film is charming but a bit forgettable. There are really funny bits, particularly the abortive one night stand between Jacob and reluctant conquest, Hannah (Emma Stone).

So what do you think? Is it a pimple or just a freckle?

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

In this second instalment of Guy Ritchie’s reboot of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, Holmes (Robert Downey Jnr) and his faithful sidekick, Watson (Jude Law… who should never, ever remove his moustache) face their most challenging foe yet, elusive career criminal, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), a maniac hell bent on causing a world war for the sake of profit. I won’t deny that round two is full of blistering action, loads of laughs and enough of Holmes’ odd quirks to keep anyone entertained… it’s just not quite as good as the first one. Not that that should prevent you from seeing it, since it’s still better than most other things out there. Oh, and for the naysayers who say that Ritchie has turned Holmes from an academic into an action hero… I’d suggest that you actually read some Arthur Conan Doyle… he was always an action hero!

Holmes suddenly wondered if replacing hair gel with gunpowder was a good idea...

Film study… week 63

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

After the death of his mother, Victor Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh) becomes obsessed with creating artificial life, but the man he creates (Robert De Niro) terrifies him and Frankenstein leaves him to die.  Unfortunately for Frankenstein, the monster survives and is desperate for revenge. Compared to the cartoon depictions of Frankenstein I’m used to this was extremely creepy and De Niro is barely recognisable as the tortured monster. I’m off to read the book now.

Alex Reed was pretty sure his latest publicity stunt was going to do nothing for his career as a drag artist

The Hurt Locker

After the death of their commanding officer (Guy Pearce), an elite US army bomb squad falls under the command of a maverick sergeant (Jeremy Renner), who is battling not only the Iraqi terrorist threat but also his own demons. The tension created by watching the soldiers disable bombs that could go off at any second is matched only by the intense emotional trauma that they desperately try to manage in order to do their jobs. This is nail biting stuff and definitely worth a watch if you like your war movies.

Neil Armstong had a sneaking suspicion that he'd screwed up somewhere in the navigational planning

Play It Again, Sam

Allan (Woody Allen) is the absolute essence of neuroses. He over thinks absolutely everything, obsessing over minor inconsequential details and destroying his relationship with his wife in the process. When she leaves him, he turns to his best friends, married couple, Linda (Diane Keaton) and Dick (Tony Roberts), leading to a hilarious foray into the world of dating, with the spectre of Humphrey Bogart (Jerry Lacy) literally following him around.  This film has some serious laugh out loud moments and shows Woody Allen at his comic best.

You are a strong and beautiful woman... no one can take your spirit

The Basketball Diaries

In this film adaptation of writer, Jim Carroll’s teenage diaries, a promising basketball player’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) life spirals into crime, prostitution and homelessness after he becomes addicted to heroin. This is Leonardo at his waiflike, angelic teenage best and watching him go from that to absolutely ruined is harrowing. This will remind you why he’s genuinely a brilliant actor. Not an easy watch but a good one.

Shake it, shake it, shake it like a polaroid picture!

Film Study… week 62

Burke And Hare

It’s 19th century Edinburgh and the physicians of the day are somewhat puzzled about what actually goes on inside the human body, meaning that there is a high demand for fresh corpses and a spate of grave robbing. When hapless Irish immigrants, William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis), discover that murder is rather more profitable than grave robbing, hilarity of the darker variety occurs. There is no question that Andy Serkis acts everyone else in this film into the ground and that it has a decidedly home-made feel about it but I found it entertaining enough, especially for the gigglesome sex scenes between Serkis and Jessica Hynde.

Santa: You're doing it wrong

You Can Count On Me

Single mom, Sammy’s (Laura Linney) life is complicated enough, but the simultaneous arrival of a nitpicking new boss (Matthew Broderick) and her unpredictable, drifter brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo) throws her into turmoil. This is one of those films where nothing happens but it is beautifully acted and Linney’s turn as the flawed but caring, Sammy is excellent and Ruffalo shines as the well-meaning but confused, Terry. It’s a good watch as a study of sibling relationships, but make sure you’re in the right mood because the pace can drag a little.

I'm telling you, this tomato was the size of a human head!

The Scouting Book For Boys

When young teen, David (Thomas Turgoose) finds out that his best friend, Emily (Holliday Grainger) will have to leave the caravan park they live in, he agrees to help her go into hiding. It’s not long though before David is in way over his head and the burgeon sexual feelings he has for Emily turn to something much darker as he uncovers a devastating fact that Emily has been keeping from him. I will admit that I found the first hour or so of this film a bit boring but it quickly becomes harrowingly dark and after that I was glued. Not to be watched if you need cheering up but it’s an impressively creepy tale.

Hardcore Parkour!

St Trinian’s

Did St Trinian’s have a plot? Not really… something about saving the school from its creditors. Was the writing good? No. Was the acting good? No. Did I actually rather like it? Well, ashamedly, yes. I’m not sure if it was because my mum had a bunch of St Trinians cartoon books that I loved as a child or if maybe it was because I went to an all girls school and it took me back 15 years to my pyjama party days, but I found myself rather entertained. I wouldn’t in any way mistake this for a piece of cinema brilliance but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it made me chuckle.

Mean Girls... the British reboot

Film Study… week 61

One Crazy Summer

In another psychotic bright 80’s movie melee, John Cusack plays Hoops McCann and aspiring teenage cartoonist, spending the summer in Nantucket with his best friend, George Calamari (Joel Murray) and his very strange family. Throw in a heartless local land baron and a deserving musical love interest (Demi Moore) and chaos predictably ensues. In no era but the 80’s would anything as over the top as this have had any success but it has a certain wayward charm, without any strenuous thinking needed from the audience. As 80’s teen movies go it’s not a classic but it’s watchable.

This was not quite the beach view Bob had signed up for

Dreamgirls

This interpretation of the original Broadway musical about a Motown girl group in the early 60’s won a couple of Oscars and it certainly has the benefit of a star-studded cast from Jamie Foxx to Eddie Murphy, Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson. It follows the fortunes of the group and its members over several years playing against the growing civil rights movement. It’s well made and engaging and I realised that even I actually knew some of the songs, that’s how big they are. If you’re a fan of musicals and/or Beyonce, you’ll like this.

I haven't been stalking you... it's just a coincidence that my walls are covered in pictures of your face

I am Number Four

John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) appears to be a mild-mannered high school student but he’s really an alien with super powers on the run from another race of aliens who want to get rid of him and the rest of his kind, all of whom are hiding out on earth. If you can get through the interminable first hour where nothing happens, the action actually gets relatively exciting. The whole film is set up with a sequel in mind, although oddly no one seems to be making one. If, rather, than dragging this out for 109 minutes, they’d made it as one episode of a TV series it might have been a bit more sensible.

John soon realised that frantic masturbation had side effects... terrible, terrible side effects

Thor

I think when they made this first film in the Avengers series, they were attempting to give the plot more twists than a twisty thing but somehow it backfired and made it as predictable as anything Disney could spit out. Long story short, arrogant warrior god, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gets booted out of Asgard after an ill-advised raid on his enemies, a race of ice giants, and banished to live on earth, where he falls in love and learns a valuable lesson just in time for a showdown with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Some of Thor’s misadventures in understanding how earth things work are very amusing but it’s a bit of a damp squib compared to something like X-Men: First Class.

Bring me a parktown prawn so I might smash it with my hammer!

Film Study… week 60

Postcards From The Edge

Meryl Streep stars as Suzanne Vale, an actress brought to the edge by substance abuse, in this adaptation of Carrie Fisher’s novel (yes, that’s Princess Leia). When Suzanne is dumped at the emergency room by a one night stand (Dennis Quaid) after an accidental overdose, she is “sentenced” to live with her alcoholic mother, Doris (Shirley MacLaine), who is not adjusting very well to the aging process. The question is, who will crack up first? The two leads are fabulous and the material is compelling but it feels like the storyline was rushed. I haven’t read the book but I’m guessing there was a lot more substance to it.

Meryl was taking the Movember challenge very seriously... it was just a pity her colleagues weren't

Uncle Buck

What makes 80’s comedies so special is that charming unhingedness they all seem to have… and which wouldn’t work in anything made post-1990. And of course the craziness doesn’t abate for a second in 1989 John Hughes classic, Uncle Buck. When their parents are called away because of a family emergency, Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly), Maizey (Gaby Hoffman) and Miles (Macauley Culkin) are left in the hands of their unusual Uncle Buck (John Candy). Absolute and utter mayhem obviously ensues, with the central story focused on Buck attempting to win over rebellious teen, Tia. If you liked Breakfast Club, 16 Candles and Pretty In Pink, this will be right up your street.

Buck Russell... amateur dentist

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

Oh god, where to begin… it’s book four and Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattison) get married and then they have bed breaking sex and then it turns out she’s knocked up… but with what? I don’t remember the books being boring but holy hell this film was. Devoid of any urgency, we even get to watch the lovers playing chess. Yes… playing chess! At the very least they could have explained Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner… still making Keanu Reeves look positively animated) imprinting on Bella and Edward’s newborn daughter so that it made Jacob look a little less like a paedo. If the main topic of conversation post film is whether or not Kristen’s emaciation during pregnancy was CGI-ed or not you have problems. The other talking point being, of course, being Renesme… WTF??? If you’ve read the books you obviously have to go and see it. Just make sure you get drunk first.

What did I tell you about going in the waterfall without your arm bands???

MacGruber

Those of us who were kids in the 80’s will remember the show MacGyver about a vet who takes on cases and uses whatever he can find to get himself out of sticky situations. In this off-the-wall comedy, Will Forte plays MacGruber a hapless MacGuyver rip-off out for revenge against super-villain, Dieter Von Cunth (a very portly Val Kilmer). There is no question that this film is in horrendous taste and bordering on offensive but that’s what you’d expect from anything born out of Saturday Night Live. It reminded me a lot of the spoof comedies of the late 80’s and early 90’s, so if you like that kind of thing, it’s worth giving a go.

Bob and Barb just couldn't believe that they'd worm the same outfit to the party AGAIN!

Film study…week 59

Eat Pray Love

One of the main reasons I decided to watch this film was to find out if it was really as awful as Dominic said it was in his review, Eat Pray Loathe. It was. Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) decides that her husband’s (Billy Crupdup) perfect reasonable suggestion that he go back to uni to study to be a teacher is divorce worthy, as it stops her from being the centre of the entire UNIVERSE. She then shags a hot guy (James Franco) who is into like ,spiritual shit, before throwing another hissy fit and taking off on a journey to find herself. She goes from Italy, to India to Bali… eating and crying and convincing herself and everyone else that she doesn’t need a man to be happy… before running off into the sunset with, wait for it, A MAN (Javier Bardem)! If that wasn’t lame enough, look out for the scene were Liz laments the fact that she has gained weight from scoffing pizzas in Italy and then slides her perfect size zero figure into a pair of jeans, clearly made for a child, to prove it. Ugh! If any film ever deserved a working title of First World Problems, this is it!

I have exchanged this rather fine camel for you. You're my wife now, Dave.

The Illusionist

In this animated gem, a down on his luck, French illusionist travels to the UK to seek his fortune. In Scotland he meets and develops a relationship with a girl who believes his magic is real. There is a charming simplicity to this almost dialogue-free tale but under the pretty surface are a lot of very dark themes dealt with in a disturbingly matter-of-fact way. Really worth watching, especially for the antics of the very angry rabbit.

Dinner is served!

Jonah Hex

Sometimes the interpretation of graphic novels into film can result in total awesomeness. This is not one of those times. Josh Brolin is Jonah Hex, a disfigured former confederate soldier hell bent on revenge against the man who murdered his family (John Malkovitch). He also has the ability to talk to the dead, by briefly bringing them back to life, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately he only does it twice in the entire film, which is less cool. Most of the time I had no idea what was going on and I didn’t care enough to try and figure it out. If you’re into that kind of thing, it might be worth seeing for Megan Fox, who flounces around in a corset, playing the tart with a heart role in her usual plank-like way.

Jonah was in no way using his gun as a way to compensate for his miniscule penis... IN NO WAY AT ALL!

New York, I Love You

Most of the time films composed of several different vaguely interlocking storylines are pretty rubbish. Valentines Day, I’m looking at you! New York, I Love You is no work of cinematic brilliance and some of its storylines are less compelling than others. However if you can get past the initial dreadfulness of Hayden Christensen playing a con artist, there are some, really interesting themes being explored, especially around desire, and the cast is stellar. Look out for Natalie Portman as a Hasidic Jew in love with a devout Hindu and Orlando Bloom playing an Australian writer.

Did you ever get that feeling like you were being followed by a womble...

Film study… week 58

Extract

Directed by Mike Judge, this is another one of those films attempting to be quirky and irreverent that just ends up being dull and annoying.  Jason Bateman plays a factory worker who is easily influenced by his druggy bartender friend (Ben Affleck) to do a series of idiotic things, including hiring a gigolo to seduce his wife (Kirsten Wiig). In the meantime he’s desperate to have it off with Mila Kunis, who is a kind of slutty con artist. Really… don’t bother. If you want a good Mike Judge film, I’d suggest Idiocracy.

Don;t worry, I've put valium in your drink. You won't feel a thing!

My Cousin Vinny

After being banged up in the Deep South for a murder they didn’t commit, New Yorkers Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) call on Bill’s lawyer cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci) to represent them. Unfortunately Vinny is barely more than an ambulance chaser and it’s taken him six years to pass the bar… hilarity ensues, particularly when Vinny’s fast-talking car-obsessed girlfriend, Mona Lisa (Marisa Tomei) gets involved. This is a 90’s classic and if you like the “stick it to the man” films that were prevalent at the time you’ll love this. It’s a little dated but definitely worth a watch.

Vinny was having one of those terrible nightmares where you wake up in court in a bus conductor's uniform

The Help

I’m not sure if growing up in a country where having domestic help is the norm and there was segregation in the past had something to do with my reaction to this film, but it moved me in a way that not many things have managed to. The story follows “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone, back on form) at the height of the civil rights movement as she decides to write a book from the perspective of the help in a Southern town. The film has had some Hollywoodisation… and I won’t pretend that I don’t know that it’s oozing worthiness. BUT it’s beautifully shot, the stories are compelling, the acting is exceptional and I cried for about 90 minutes out of the 137 minute length. If you go for nothing other than cloths so beautiful that you could lick them, it will be worth it.

What you see behind there, Minny? Is it them Parktown Prawns again?

We Need To Talk About Kevin

I know that critics are raving about this adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s iconic book but I can’t say I was completely sold. It might have been because I loved the book and the film didn’t grab me the same way but I felt as if at times it was being too clever for its own good. It was so draped in SYMBOLISM that it lost a lot of subtlety… but then that might have been the point. Anyway, for those who don’t know the story, I’m not going to give it away because half the point is not knowing what’s going on until the end. Tilda Swinton is amazing… and this is probably the best possible way that this book could have been adapted but so much of the book is missing that it feels a bit hollow.

Beth couldn't help thinking, if only Andy Warhol could see me now...

Film Study… week 57

4, 3, 2, 1…

Written and directed by Noel Clarke, this hotch potch “girl power” caper is about four young “ladies” who accidentally get involved in a diamond heist. The film is fun enough but it tries to cram too many conflicting themes into one story… gritty topics like teenage abortion run alongside frivolous bickering and lashings of lesbian sex. And I might have believe the girl power angle a little more if the girls weren’t half naked almost all the time. As per usual Clarke has cast all his little friends, as well as himself, in bit parts, which doesn’t add to his credibility. Great for boys aged 15 – 18… but not for me.

I say, it's rather disappointing that Westfield doesn't have an Iceland, yah?

Easy A

I wanted to love this film. I’m a big Emma Stone fan and I have a real spot for a good teen comedy but I couldn’t get my head around the idea that a character as smart, sassy and confident as Olive (Stone) would sell faked sexual experiences to boys for gift cards she didn’t even seem to want. Plus there’s a nasty undercurrent of homophobia in the fact that Olive starts her career as pretend school slut by encouraging her gay best friend (Dan Byrd) to fake being straight to get bullies off his back.  There are some really funny moments but I just didn’t get it.

Let's hope this is not a descrioption of Emma's future film roles

The Libertine

I might be oversimplifying the point of this film but what I got from it was 17th century poet drinks and lot and shags everyone, writes a play about dildos, runs off, gets syphilis, makes some speeches… dies. Johnny Depp was as wonderful as ever as The Earl of Rochester but I was so very bored.

Yes, but why is all the rum gone?

Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines

Oh dear… I was warned that the third Terminator film was bad, but I didn’t realise it was going to be this bad. In this instalment John Connor (Nick Stahl) is in his 20’s, homeless and living off the grid. A new female terminator, the TX, (Kristianna Loken) is after his future associates so another T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to protect him. Unfortunately the TX is nowhere near as cool as the T-1000 and the whole thing is about 80% filler and only 20% killer.

Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around my eyes, look into my eyes, you're under.

Film study… week 56

The Dreamers

Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American studying in Paris befriends twins, Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel) and quickly becomes embroiled in their bizarre and sexually charged relationship. I’m not sure how to feel about this film. Watching Matthew’s painful American repression begin to wash away with the 1968 Paris riots as a backdrop is strangely hypnotic as is the disturbingly claustrophobia of Isabelle and Theo’s “twinness”. I can see what the director was trying to do but in other ways it seemed like the shock factor was being overplayed for the sake of it… and boy are there a lot of willies.

Caught in the act, Ed, Marg and Freddie were finding it hard to pass off their threesome as an exercise in water conservation

Quadrophenia

It’s 1965 and London mod, Johnny (Phil Daniels) hates everything except his moped, his mates and all the substances he can lay his hands on. But what he hates the most is rockers. As his life unravels, he gets closer and closer to the edge with everything coming to a head on one fateful trip to Brighton. It’s not impossible to see why Quadrophenia is an iconic film. It really captures the aesthetic and mood of the time and it has some great moments from a young Ray Winstone as a rocker and Sting as Ace Face, the king of the mods. However, it’s very light on storyline and Johnny is hard to identify with because most of the time he’s a massive dick.

Sting took a short break from tantric sex, yoga and writing crap ballads to have a quick fag with Phil Daniels

Definitely, Maybe

A little girl (Abigail Breslin) asks her father (Ryan Reynolds) how he met her mother, who he is on the verge of divorcing. Rather than just telling her the story he launches off on an epic ramble where he tells her about three women he loved and makes her guess which one is her mother. I’m not sure I can believe that any responsible father would tell his eleven-year old that features a series of his sexual exploits and an impressive amount of drunken behaviour as well as outing her mother as an occasional lesbian. Isla Fisher  is as charming as ever as one of the potential mums but it’s not enough to carry the film. I didn’t love it.

Yup, just an inch more and I'll be able to see down your top

Valentines Day

This ensemble romcom features an interlocking cast as their lives overlap on one Valentines Day. It’s a whopper of a cast with Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Beale, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx and Anne Hathaway, just some of the stars making an appearance. There are proposals, cheaters, children with crushes, anti-romantics and teen virginity issues. I don’t know if there was just too much happening at once but the whole thing was just a bit meh. It’s like someone saw Love Actually and thought, let’s make an American Valentines version of it. It just doesn’t work.

I don't care how many flowers you buy me, you're not getting an A in geometry

Film study… week 55

9

In a post apocalyptic world where a war between humans and machines has left only devastation, nine sackcloth dolls must interpret the instructions left by their creator to bring about salvation. There is no question that Tim Burton has had a hand in this as one of the producers. There is a worm-like monster in it that could well be a cousin of Nightmare Before Christmas’ Oogie Boogie and the general creepy aesthetic has his unique stamp all over it. Despite being animated, it definitely isn’t for children and probably not for most adults either. The film is visually stunning but the storyline is very simplistic and somewhat unoriginal.

it was becoming very evident that the Pope was full of hot air

The Disappearance Of Alice Creed

Two men (Martin Compston and Eddie Marsan) attempt to pull off the perfect kidnapping but absolutely nothing in this film is as it seems, and their plans are soon under threat. This film hangs on the shocking twists in its plot, one of which literally made me exclaim out loud, so I don’t want to give anything away. Some twists are more impressive than others and I have to give the writers kudos for being brave enough to go all out with some of them. As kidnap films go, Alice Creed, proves that you don’t need a big budget to create suspense and it’s definitely worth a watch. However… the character development is a bit ropey, which makes some of it a little hard to swallow, especially when there are literally three people in the film.

Alice thought to herself, "I'd literally kill for a hairbrush right now."

Somewhere

Major movie star, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), drifts from role to role, filling the gaps between jobs with booze and casual sex, barely aware of what’s going on around him. When his ex, unexpectedly leaves his eleven year old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), in his care he finds himself forced to assess his life and question his motivations for everything. In the hands of Disney this would have been a cringe-worthy cheese festival but in the hands of Sofia Coppola, it’s subtle, nuanced and quite lovely. The relationship between Johnny and Cleo seems very real and while the characters are damaged there is no heavy handed moral message being hammered home every five seconds.

And if you tilt your head just a little to the left you can see Lady Gaga's penis

Drive

Ryan Gosling plays a stuntman and occasional getaway driver who becomes involved in the wrong job after falling for his married neighbour (Carey Mulligan). I feel like I’d need to see this film several times to pick up all the delicious symbolism as well as all the little character quirks. Gosling is outstanding playing gentle and brutal like two sides of the same terrifying coin, while Mulligan is never quite as innocent as she seems. Every element has been thought through and the cinematography blends beautifully with the eighties inspired soundtrack. I’m still thinking about it. Even if you’re not into all the little nuances, there’s enough action to keep anyone happy… just be warned… there is a Tarantino-esque approach to violence you should probably prepare yourself for.

Garageman found that all he needed to activate his super strength was a powerful stare