28 February 2011

Helena Bonham Carter Wins- 2011 Oscars Postmortem

Another night of eating Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes and chicken burgers until 4.30am was topped off with a clean sweep for Helena Bonham Carter. Sure, she didn't win in the category she was specifically nominated for, and The King's Speech only won a trifling four Academy Awards, which was just as many as Inception, but let's not forget that Alice in Wonderland won two as well, which places the entire ceremony as a celebration of Tim Burton's missus and occasional psychotic Death Eater.

25 February 2011

DRIVE ANGRY- Review

Last Friday, we figured out that there is no type of bad movie that I hate more than a bad comedy movie. And today, we rediscover the fact that there is nothing in cinema that disappoints me more than when Nicolas Cage just doesn't put the effort in. And in a trashy grindhouse flick like Drive Angry, when everyone else is doing their best, that's just sad.

Cage dons another of his famous wonky hairpieces to play Milton, a dearly departed soul who has broken out of Hell itself on a mission. Cult leader Jonah King and his followers murdered Milton's daughter, and plan to sacrifice her orphaned baby to Satan. So Milton arrives back in the mortal realm, recruits pissed-off waitress Piper and blazes a trail of destruction as he goes after King, for his granddaughter and for his revenge.

24 February 2011

ANIMAL KINGDOM- Review

I have a confusing relationship with crime films. While I can always appreciate the technical achievement of the Godfather trilogy or Goodfellas, they can often leave me cold if there aren't any relatable characters. I think In Bruges is brilliant, but DePalma's Scarface is an overlong and over-hyped mess of a film that (I'll say it again) ruined Al Pacino. And that part's got nothing to do with the crime part.

A crime film that's been hoovering up acclaim for over a year ahead of its UK release this Friday is Animal Kingdom. Set in Melbourne, we follow a family of armed robbers called the Codys, as they effectively go to war with the police. J Cody is a teenager whose mother overdoses on heroin right in front of him, and so he's sent to live with his grandmother and his uncles. J shortly becomes embroiled in the escalating feud between his family and the police, and finds his life may depend on where his loyalties lie.

22 February 2011

The Mad Prophets 2010

Cheer up, I promise that I saw your film.

Continuing on with the "awards season stuff" promised yesterday, it's that time of year once again. The Oscars are on Sunday, and foolishly, the Academy have not given a single inclination of the head, let alone a nod, to great films like Never Let Me Go or Buried. Bastards. My turn, I think.

As with last year's outing, this is for the period starting March 1st 2010 and ending on February 28th 2011, which is about the same period the Oscars are supposed to cover. "Supposed" still being the operative word, given how forgetful Academy voters can be. Also, as ever, going by UK release dates. Here goes...

21 February 2011

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP- Review

Sometimes, there's a Friday in which you look at the new releases and say "I don't need that pain in my life." While I hear generally positive reviews about that Justin Bieber thing, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son stands at a proud 8% Fresh ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm not seeing either of those movies, so let's do some awards season stuff.

Exit Through The Gift Shop is a film by guerilla artist Banksy, and it's been nominated for Best Documentary. Having seen it, I think that might be tantamount to nominating Cloverfield in that category, but whether it's all for real or not, it tells a true story. The story is Thierry Guetta's- he's a bloke who records his everyday life as a hobby and decides to make some footage based on the emergent street art movement. He gets exclusive contact with Banksy, the biggest name in street art, and Thierry's life begins to change.

18 February 2011

JUST GO WITH IT- Review

From R-L: Twat, Twat, Surprisingly Good
Consulting the IMDB, I realised today that before Just Go with It, the last time I saw a Jennifer Aniston film at the cinema was The Break Up, all the way back in 2006. For Adam Sandler, same story (save for a Funny People shaped blip) with Click. After seeing Just Go with It, I realise I haven't particularly missed either of them.

Sandler plays Danny, a man-whore plastic surgeon, and Aniston plays Katherine, his hard-working secretary. Danny's trademark ploy with women is to wear a fake wedding ring and pretend that he's in a deeply unhappy marriage in order to get laid. When the ring messes up his chances with a woman he has something more than utter contempt for, maths teacher Palmer, he constructs an elaborate web of lies to cover his mistake, pulling in Katherine and her two kids.

17 February 2011

YOGI BEAR- The Schrödinger's Bear Experiment

This is going to be a short one. Largely because there's very little to say about this film that hasn't already been said in my proper review for Den of Geek, but also because even before I wrote that other review, there's very little to say about this film that would surprise anyone.

Yogi Bear is shit. If that's all you need to know about the film, then come back tomorrow when I'll be talking about the Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston romcom vehicle Just Go With It. But if you'll have a little more patience, maybe we can talk cod quantum mechanics and get some interesting scientific discourse out of the turmoil.

16 February 2011

PAUL- Review

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost made their names along with Edgar Wright, working on Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. With Wright moving onto Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the final third of their "Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy still a while off, Pegg and Frost have written and starred in Paul, an inauspiciously named comedy of similar nerd credentials to their previous work, but with a much bigger budget.

They play Graeme and Clive, two nerds who trek across the Atlantic to the San Diego Comic Con and then go on a whistle-stop tour of America's extra-terrestrial hotspots. A government vehicle overturns in the middle of the desert, right in front of their RV, and the pair are introduced to an alien called Paul. Paul is immensely powerful and quite rude, and he's now a fugitive from the US government.

15 February 2011

GNOMEO & JULIET- Review

As high concepts go, a retelling of a Shakespearean tragedy with garden ornaments is going to take the gold for this week's new releases. Still, with the next big 3D pop star pet project coming next week, I'd estimate that Elton John has done far better for his involvement in Gnomeo & Juliet than that fucking Bieber monster thing will do with his premature biopic.

The story, for the uninitiated, involves the romance of two starstruck lovers- in this case, the intrepid blue-hatted Gnomeo and the curious red-hatted Juliet, who live in adjoining gardens owned by a Mrs. Capulet and a Mr. Montague respectively. The two neighbours quarrel, and so the gnomes and ornaments in each garden follow suit, feuding over who has the best garden and indulging in the occasional high-speed lawnmower race. As a narrator gnome establishes in the opening scene, "this is a story that has been told before, many times, and we're going to tell it again, but different."

14 February 2011

TRUE GRIT- Review

The last of the big over-delayed Oscar contenders finally arrived in the UK on Friday, and it's the one I've been most eagerly anticipating. There seems to be something of a weird backlash against modern Coen brothers films, but I personally think No Country For Old Men and A Serious Man are great films. I also enjoy Westerns, so True Grit would seem ideal for my tastes.

When Frank Ross is murdered in cold blood over a gambling dispute, his daughter Mattie wants retribution. The killer, Tom Chaney, has long since skipped town. Nobody seems particularly keen to pursue Chaney, so Mattie hires a hard-bitten US Marshall, Rooster Cogburn, to hunt him down. Also in pursuit of the killer is a Texas Ranger called LaBoeuf, and he accompanies Mattie and Cogburn as they head out on the frontier in search of justice.

11 February 2011

BlogalongaBond- FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE Review

It hasn't been a month already, but I thought I'd get in a little earlier this month than I did in January and move right onto From Russia With Love. Of the Bond films I've seen recently enough to remember before taking on this blogging challenge, this second James Bond film is my favourite of all of them, and I wasn't disappointed by another viewing.

Built upon the admittedly flimsy premise of a Russian consulate worker having fallen in love with his photograph, Bond heads out to Istanbul with the hopes of getting a Lektor cryptographic machine for the Brits. Little does he realise that the beautiful Tatiana is a pawn of SPECTRE, and that both she and the Lektor are parts of a larger game orchestrated to turn the British and the Russians against one another.

10 February 2011

NEVER LET ME GO- Review

Enough of last week's review of The Fighter was given over to me bitching about how Mark Wahlberg has been overlooked this awards season, which was me placing far too much importance in other people's views on filmmaking excellence. So I'm only going to say it once here and then leave it- Never Let Me Go has been robbed of the awards season kudos it so richly deserves.

Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, Never Let Me Go is a science fiction drama centred in an alternate history where scientific advances in medicine have surpassed all terminal diseases. The price for this is that generation upon generation are essentially groomed to serve a single purpose throughout their entire lifetime. Three young'uns- Kathy, Tommy and Ruth- become unusually close during their time at a special boarding school called Hailsham, and grow up together, on their way to an uncertain future.

9 February 2011

RABBIT HOLE- Review

I never did get around to reviewing Blue Valentine, did I? If anybody's wondering, I thought it was very good, but it wasn't as affecting as expected. I'll go into it in greater depth to coincide with the eventual DVD release, but I noticed this omission because Blue Valentine is a film that a lot of people seem to be comparing to Rabbit Hole.

Based on his own play, writer David Lindsay-Abaire tells the story of Becca and Howie, whose four year old son was killed in a traffic accident eight months prior. Having exhausted the traditional channels of dealing with grief, Becca still finds herself in a deep state of anguish, and the couple's repression is damaging their marriage. After growing sick of bereavement groups, she lets her husband continue going to those sessions alone while she tries to find solace in more unusual places.

8 February 2011

In The Dark...

Um, what?
Good for the Superbowl, for being the most-watched programme in American television history. Around this time of year, I always notice that some of the same people who say it's not worth caring about the Oscars pretend to care about sports, and watch this football game purely to catch a glimpse of the new infinitesimal glimpses of movie trailers.

With this being a slower week, or as slow as any week can look preceding the descent of a distributive clusterfuck on Friday, I've decided to have a look at one of those trailers, having watched them all online like any right-minded film fan who doesn't like American football. It's a matter of very public record that I'm not a fan of Michael Bay or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, so let's have a look at the first properly representative trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

7 February 2011

SANCTUM- Review

As discussed on this blog and on my weekly radio show, true stories invariably fill up UK multiplexes in January and February, usually because of the distributing run-over from the dying days of the previous year- i.e. The King's Speech, Black Swan and The Fighter, which were all released Stateside in 2010.

January and February in the States then, tend to be a dumping ground for less attractive cinematic propositions, which, typically, get a simultaneous release in the UK. See The Green Hornet or The Mechanic, for instance. However, what you have in the James Cameron produced thriller-stroke-drama Sanctum, is a crossover between both- a horrific journey through an uncharted cave system, in which a motley crew of adventurers are trapped when it begins to flood.

4 February 2011

THE FIGHTER- Review

Here's a puzzler. When Christian Bale is the centre of attention all of the time, and Mark Wahlberg is overshadowed by his skinny and charismatic self, despite having more heart than Bale or anyone else around in this story, am I talking about the 2011 awards season or The Fighter?

For those unfamiliar, The Fighter is the true story of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward as he came back from obscurity and humiliation to take on the Welterweight Champion of the World. As we find Micky, he's being managed terribly by his domineering family, and trained by his egotistical crackhead brother, Dickie. His brother is the hometown hero, in whose footsteps Micky has always been intended to follow, but as he finds one final chance to realise his potential, it may well mean severing ties with his family.

3 February 2011

THE MECHANIC- Review

Do we have a nickname for Jason Statham yet? I know there's "the Stath", but Van Damme was "the muscles from Brussels" and Schwarzenegger was "the Austrian Oak"- there has to be a better name out there. He's probably done enough to deserve a proper action hardman nickname by now, so someone assign Guy Ritchie, or else send your answers on a postcard.

Statham's latest is The Mechanic, a remake of a 1972 action thriller starring Charles Bronson, and he takes on the title role, as Arthur Bishop. Arthur is a hitman, or "mechanic", who fixes assassinations to look like accidents, and better still, to look like he was never even there. When his mentor is named as his next assignment, he carries out the job, only to feel guilt and responsibility for the guy's slacker son, Steve. Arthur takes on Steve as a protege of his own, trying to give him a direction in life by teaching him how to follow in his father's footsteps.

2 February 2011

HEREAFTER- Review

Clint Eastwood's perpetual motion mode of direction couldn't hold out forever. And sadly, we get a less than good effort from the great man with his latest film, Hereafter, a u-turn into the territory that M. Night Shyamalan has marked as his own in the same way as territory is usually marked- by pissing on it. Even in disappointing though, Eastwood is able to surprise by doing something outside of his comfort zone.

Essentially, it's a supernatural drama, in which respected French journalist Marie has a near-death experience and thus finds herself able to commune with what lies hereafter. Meanwhile, in London, a young boy who loses his twin becomes entranced by the idea of where his brother has gone. And in New York, lonely warehouse worker is all too familiar with these matters. He's a retired psychic who wants no part in his own powers anymore, but whether he likes it or not, three people from across the world are about to collide.

1 February 2011

BARNEY'S VERSION- Review

My experience of Barney's Version in the cinema is something that I can't quite explain. I recall taking a bar of chocolate in with me, and eating it. But somewhere in the next two hours of what felt like sleeping with my eyes open, I ended up with chocolate smeared all over the front of my trousers. I only noticed this when the lights came up at the end, and I have no explanation at all.

Rest assured, my memory of the film is lucid enough that I can review it. This is basically the life story of Barney Panofsky and the loves of his life from the 1970s to the present. Across this span of four decades, he is married twice before meeting his true love, Miriam, at his second wedding reception and deciding to pursue her affections. In amongst all of this, he is also accused of murder and annoyed by the ins and outs of his successful TV production company, Totally Unnecessary Productions.