30 September 2010

Outside The Box- BURIED Review

Buried is one of those films that's basically sold as seen- it's about a bloke who gets buried alive. Specifically, the bloke is Paul Conroy, a contracted truck driver who wakes up six feet under in a coffin. At his disposal, he has a zippo lighter, a mobile phone and numerous other scant resources provided by his captor, but most pressingly, he has little hope of being found and rescued.

Oh, and at the very top, I'm going to say that it's an arthouse horror film that has been sold far too well. It attracted tonnes of patrons to the screening I saw- patrons who laughed at inappropriate moments, texted and browsed the internet on their phone and generally made total twats of themselves. I rarely get this kind of experience in cinemas in spite of how often I go, and I was absolutely livid when I came out of the screening. But is Buried a good film? Fuck yes.

27 September 2010


In case you didn't spot it two weeks ago, I mentioned that I wouldn't review Cyrus because it was too slight to write about, and too much an attempt to take mumblecore into the mainstream, precisely the place where it doesn't belong, and not enough of an actual film. So it was pleasing to see World's Greatest Dad this week, the kind of thing Cyrus was striving to be all along.

The titular dad is Lance Clayton, a teacher and aspiring novelist whose 15-year-old son Kyle is an antagonistic and thoroughly hateful little shit. He spends all day masturbating in his room and treating his father and everyone else like crap. When he dies while experimenting with autoerotic asphyxiation, Lance works through his grief by retroactively rationalising his son's behaviour with a fake suicide note, which captures the imagination of his students and peers.

24 September 2010

Visit Boston! - THE TOWN Review

Hiding under the yoke of an entirely innocuous title, The Town is Ben Affleck's second directorial effort after the superb Gone Baby Gone. It's about a gang of highly skilled and meticulous thieves in Charlestown, Boston- an area that we're told has produced more bank robbers and car thieves than anywhere else on the planet.

When the clean-up of a bank robbery gets messy, Doug, the brains of the operation, forges a relationship with Claire, the bank manager they took hostage. Claire is unaware of their connection to each other, but dogged FBI agent Frawley is doing his utmost to find any evidence to incriminate the gang and send them to prison for life.

23 September 2010

And That's Funny, Right?!- THE OTHER GUYS Review

Did you lose your job during the recession? Has your credit rating plummeted? Then you know there has to be comedy in that, right? Right?! This is the pandering central conceit of The Other Guys, from the creative team behind Anchorman. After a blistering action-packed opening starring Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, we're introduced to the titular other guys, played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

Pen-pusher Allen Gamble and disgraced detective Terry Hoitz get their big chance to go up in the world when they stumble upon evidence of a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by a devious CEO. Working around the fact that they're utterly incompetent and have to have their balls busted every other day by their long-suffering boss, they go on a journey of... oh, look, it's just a buddy cop comedy, right?

22 September 2010

You Know, For Kids! - THE HOLE 3D Review

Joe Dante, he of Gremlins and Small Soldiers fame, is pretty much the reigning king of this kind of movie, mostly because no one's made an effort to take his crown since he last made a family-oriented horror film. And in The Hole, we finally have someone using irksome technology in a really appealing way, to tell a really compelling story.

That story involves Lucas and Dane, two brothers who move into a new house with their mother, only to find a trapdoor in their basement that seemingly leads to a bottomless pit. Along with girl-next-door Julie, their natural first response is to goof around with it. But the abyss also gazes and puts the kids up against their worst fears as it tries to claim each of them.

21 September 2010

Millennium Part 2- THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE Review

I finally caught up with the second part of the Millennium trilogy in cinemas after a few near-misses on my trips to the Tyneside Cinema. It eventually came to the local Cineworld, which was a nice change. The Girl Who Played With Fire, for those who don't know, is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I reviewed here earlier this year.

A year on from the Vanger case, Lisbeth Salander returns to Stockholm from travelling the world, and is promptly framed for a triple murder. She becomes the subject of a national manhunt, and one of the few who believes in her innocence is Blomkvist. He also believes the murders to be connected to a sex trafficking ring Millennium was about to expose, and tries to re-establish contact with Lisbeth as he investigates.

20 September 2010

Going Down- DEVIL Review

Devil is the first of "The Night Chronicles", three stories conceived by the ever-disintegrating M. Night Shyamalan and then bequeathed to up and coming horror writers/directors. This one opens on a suicide, and according to religious lore, this is an event that gives the Devil a portal into human form, to hunt for the damned who have escaped him.

At some point or another, his host enters a skyscraper and hops into an elevator, which promptly breaks down and traps five people inside. A salesman, a security guard, an old lady, a socialite and a mechanic are stuck with each other- but while they all seem destined for Hell, which of them is the Devil in disguise?

17 September 2010

Cos you're gonna see it on every cinema trip anyway...

Yeah, it's another one of those ads! I don't think you can beat last year's Autumn compilation (I think that young man ATE it all, bless him), but I do believe it's worth mentioning.

Why? Because summer's more or less over. The nights are drawing in, sunsets will arrive around 3pm and movie buffs will begin talking about which of their favourite films of the year will be entirely ignored during awards season.

15 September 2010

Girls Don't Play Electric Guitars- THE RUNAWAYS Review

My lamentations on the musician biopic genre are well documented on this very blog, but here's The Runaways, another one that pulls tropes out of its hat like a feeble children's entertainer expecting surprise and wonderment from those that behold it. But meh, it's not all that bad.

It's basically condensing down the stories of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, who became the main players in the formation of The Runaways, an all-girl punk rock band that at one stage could've taken the world by storm. But in the tradition of all these biopics, fame and success is always bad, and only addiction, division and ill health can follow.

13 September 2010

Droll in the Hay- TAMARA DREWE Review

As poorly Photoshopped posters and numerous TV spots across the land have proclaimed, Tamara Drewe has Gemma Arterton in it. Surprisingly though, it's more about Nicholas Hardiment, a smarmy and adulterous crime novelist whose long-suffering wife (and skivvy) runs a writers' retreat in Dorset. They offer writers a respite, "far from the madding crowd."

That changes when the titular Tamara returns home, once an ugly duckling of sorts and now imbued with a nose job and new found sexual confidence. She turns the heads of many of the men in the village and more or less delivers chaos into most of the relationships around. A violent conclusion can only follow.

10 September 2010

Now You See Him... - THE ILLUSIONIST Review

Sylvain Chomet's latest animation, The Illusionist is all about a stage magician in the early 60s, whose act is being supplanted by rock stars in the hearts and minds of audiences. With no one interested as much, he decides to try and find employment in Scotland, heading for Edinburgh. Along the way he picks up a young girl who believes he really is a magician, granting him a new responsibility.

This one is the fulfilment of a long unproduced script by French writer and director Jacques Tati. It's believed Tati wrote the script with his estranged daughter in mind for the lead role, and his aspirations to reconcile set the tone for this one, in a way. The relationship between the illusionist and the girl is paramount to the film's central theme.

8 September 2010

Exorschism- THE LAST EXORCISM Review

In the vein of other recent found footage horror films, The Last Exorcism covers the ultimate assignment for Father Cotton Marcus, guerilla style. The Marcus men have long been preachers, passing down the tricks of the trade in phoney exorcisms along the way. Cotton's scruples have come to the fore when he realises that more zealous exorcists are actually hurting the supposedly possessed rather than helping.

With a crisis of faith, some special effects and a small documentary crew, he aims to expose the trade of exorcism by showing on camera how he and so many others have went about in their line of work for so many years. However, the case he chooses as his last exorcism isn't as clear-cut as he first thought- is innocent young Nell Sweetzer mentally ill like so many of those Cotton has helped, or is she possessed by a real demon?

6 September 2010

The Horse With No Name- JONAH HEX Review

Here's what plot remains in the studio hack-job that is Jonah Hex- the eponymous Hex is a Confederate soldier turned bounty hunter who can commune with the dead after being left for dead himself by his radicalised comrades. Then the man who killed his wife and child, Quentin Turnbull, re-announces himself after faking his demise, on the eve of a plot to destroy the United States of America, and he sets out for revenge.

You all surely know how big a deal it is when Clint Eastwood directs a Western. He was the iconic Man With No Name in the Dollars trilogy, and behind the camera, he's been responsible for greats like High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven. In Jonah Hex, we have a film I believe to have been made by the Horse With No Name.

3 September 2010

Supergood- BLACK DYNAMITE Review

A few weeks back, I was lamenting the underpowered villains in The Expendables. On Monday, I went to see Black Dynamite, and realised that if Sylvester Stallone had come up with the villain and his plot to use in The Expendables, he probably would have made the greatest film ever. Instead, it was thought up by Michael Jai White, Scott Sanders and Byron Minns, in this superb blaxploitation parody.

Black Dynamite is the baddest, coolest, kung-fu-fighting-est "CIA agent that the CIA ever had in the CIA." He's brought back on the job when The Man murders his brother and someone gets all the kids in the local orphanage hooked on smack. So Black Dynamite assembles a crew to wage war against drug dealers in the community- sex scenes, kung fu fighting and sheer badassery ensue.

1 September 2010


If you remember all the way back to March, I talked about how very endearing director Juan José Campanella was on-stage when The Secret in Their Eyes unexpectedly won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. This must mark the very first time I've been sold on a film just by an acceptance speech, so I toddled along to the Tyneside on Monday to watch the film.

Benjamín Esposito is a retired legal counsellor who is fixated upon a rape and homicide case he investigated 25 years prior. He's intensely bored by retirement, left only with the memories of his working life and of an unfulfilled romance with his old boss, Irene. Borrowing a typewriter with a broken A key from his old workplace, he resolves to novelise the case, and through flashbacks, we see Esposito's pursuit of the killer as he tries to find solace in the present.