Sharknado

31 Aug

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I considered not reviewing this film because it is so bad I genuinely don’t believe it deserves the oxygen of publicity, even the limited amount that I can offer it with my little blog. There is a tendency that when somebody tells you a film is so bad it’s hard to believe, that will make you want to see it for yourself. The last thing I want to do is promote this film, but I need to write about it to get it out of my system.

Those of you who are regular readers may remember that I previously reviewed the impossibly bad Dinoshark and committed to giving up with these nonsense films, made for the Syfy channel and that have become a cult phenomenon. However, at my friends on a Friday night, having prepared to watch Schindlers List (a classic that is shamefully missing from my films-seen repertoire), we found it had got a little late and the likelihood of me staying awake for the duration of that film was minimal. Looking for something shorter, my friend uttered words that sent a shudder down my spine; “I’ve still got Sharknado recorded”. My head went into my hands, before I took a deep breath, made a significant adjustment to my estimated enjoyment of the evening and said, “Fine, go on then”. Continue reading

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Lovelace

30 Aug

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Lovelace is a biographical film about Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried), who became known to the world as Linda Lovelace, a one-time pornographic actress who appeared in one of the most lucrative adult movies of all time. Abused by her increasingly violent and desperate husband Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard), she struggles to break free from his grasp and start her life again.

I’ll start off with the things I did like about this film; the central performances are excellent. I can’t tell you whether Seyfried is a particularly good Linda Lovelace as she’s not somebody I was previously familiar with, but her acting in this movie is of a very high standard. The nature of her role requires her to portray a level of personal torment and unhappiness, which she conveys perfectly. She also does an extremely good job of inhabiting the sexy, sassy and playful side of the character. I found her to be a fantastic casting choice and she is thoroughly watchable for the entirety of her time on screen. Continue reading

Citizen Kane

26 Aug

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There are few films that hold an iconic status as strong as Citizen Kane, directed and co-written by Orson Welles, who also stars as the titular character. Released in 1941, it has long been held up by critics and commentators as the greatest film of all time. That’s an argument for other people to make, but having finally seen it myself I can fully understand that incredible acclaim.

The plot of the film is outlined early on, taking the form of a news bulletin announcing the death of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles). The bulletin details briefly that Kane had become a powerful media magnate, loved and hated in equal measure. We find out he had been married twice and who the wives were, and we have been made aware that his last word before he died was ‘Rosebud’. The plot is driven by the desire of a journalist to find out who or what Rosebud was, and what it meant to Kane. Continue reading

Stand By Me

21 Aug

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Stand By Me is the story of Gordie Lachance (Will Wheaton) and three teenage friends on a journey to find a dead body. The story is narrated by an older Gordie telling the tale of some of his formative days. His friends are Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman) and Vern (Jerry O’Connell).

Each of the kids has their own problems. Gordie is haunted by the death of his older brother who he looked up to, and whom he feels his dad always loved far more. Chris has a family name that carries with it a bad reputation, Teddy was abused by his father and Vern is…well he’s just Vern. The four of them make a fantastic group of friends, all with sufficiently different, multi-layered personalities, but similar enough to believe them as a group of mates. Continue reading

Straw Dogs (1971)

20 Aug

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American David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) and his English wife Amy (Susan George) move to England, where they are hoping they can enjoy the quiet life in a picturesque setting. Their move soon turns nightmarish when a group of locals start to harass the couple, becoming more menacing as the film progresses, leading to an epic conclusion.

As a quick warning, please be aware that there will be some plot points discussed that you may consider to be spoilers – if you don’t want to know them then stop reading now.Released in 1971, Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs has long been seen as an iconic and controversial film. The concluding scenes are incredibly violent; I was expecting it to be fairly tame and just violent by the standards of the time but that isn’t entirely true. Don’t get me wrong, there are more graphically violent films made these days, but there are still moments that took me a little by surprise and I can see why it would have generated the controversy it did on it’s initial release. Continue reading

Kick-Ass 2

18 Aug

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In 2010, Kick-Ass became a hit movie by somewhat subverting the super hero genre that has become such an increasingly turgid staple of the Summer Blockbuster season. That took the moralistic stance of a lot of those movies and, whilst keeping them intact within the characters, the film displayed graphic violence and an 11-year-old girl using insults of a sexual nature that provided both laughs and some genuine shock value. Seriously, the first time you hear her drop the C-Bomb is a genuine surprise.

In Kick-Ass 2, Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are back, and this time they’ve got some new friends. Well, Kick-Ass has anyway. He joins a group called Justice Forever, a collective of vigilantes that have been inspired by Kick-Ass himself. Hit Girl (or Mindy) is suffering a moral crisis. When her dad died, she made a promise that she would listen to the words of her new guardian, Marcus (Morris Chestnut). He forbids her to don her vigilante guise, to which she reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, Kick-Ass is out fighting crime with his new mates, lead by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and desperately wants Hit Girl to join up with them.

Now, let me tell you, I love Kick-Ass. I re-watched it recently and it’s so refreshing to see it in a world where studios are desperate to churn out any old super hero move they can because they’re guaranteed money-spinners. Films like Kick-Ass and Super are so welcome and a genuine breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale format. Continue reading

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

11 Aug

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When North Norfolk Digital, the radio station that employs Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) is taken over by a company called Gordale Media and rebranded as Shape, Alan manages to keep his job at the expense of fellow middle aged DJ Pat Farrel (Colin Meaney). Pat doesn’t handle it so well, and takes the staff at Shape hostage. Alan becomes the contact point between the police and Pat, and as the situation attracts the attention of the media, Alan senses the chance to become a real star.

I decided a while ago that I wasn’t going to review Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, as I was worried that I would be too biased. I have long been a fan of the character; I’ve watched the two series of I’m Alan Partridge more times than I care to think about, as well as the various other shows he has appeared in. The shows are endlessly quotable, and the trailer gave me high hopes that the movie would be the same. Continue reading

The Heat

9 Aug

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Stick-in-the-mud FBI agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and unconventional street cop Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) get paired together to take down a drug lord, in a slightly different take on the buddy cop format.

I hadn’t been quite sure what to expect from The Heat. All I have seen of Melissa McCarthy’s previous work is her extremely funny cameo in This Is 40 and her dismal role in one of 2013’s comedy lowlights Identity Thief. Those who have seen more of her work assure me she is talented. The trailers looked fairly amusing but also painted a picture of a generic and predictable comedy. As expectation setting goes that is impressive, because fairly amusing and generic and predictable are the perfect lines to sum up this film (though that rather suggests I may have peaked too early with this review). Continue reading

Only God Forgives

4 Aug

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You might have heard of Only God Forgives. The latest effort from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn prompted huge anticipation and expectation when it was announced that it would team the helmsman with previous accomplice Ryan Gosling. The two worked together on the magnificent Drive, a film that quickly worked it’s way towards the top of my ‘favourite films ever’ list. That film was dark, moody, cool and had the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard.

When the initial trailers for Only God Forgives started to be drip fed to us, they did nothing to deter it’s target audience from the idea that this was going to be Drive 2.0. It looked dark, moody, cool and sounded like it had a great soundtrack. Cue excitement from Drive and Gosling devotees such as myself. So when the film was screened at The Cannes Film Festival, receiving boos and prompting walkouts, I was a little surprised and concerned. Described as hyper-violent, self-indulgent and misogynistic in several quarters, I began to worry that one of my favourite actors may have contributed to a dud. Continue reading

Oldboy

2 Aug

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Oh Dae-Su (Min-sik Choi) is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years. He is given no explanation as to why, which understandably gets him a little bit riled. When he is finally released, he is given a short timescale to find his captor and work out why he was kept locked up for so long.

Once released and on the trail for answers, Dae-Su meets and falls for a woman, Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang). Their love story intertwines brilliantly with Dae-Su’s quest for vengeance until the whole thing reaches a stunning climax.

There is so much to love about Oldboy that I could never hope to cover it all here. There is some watch-through-your-fingers violence that even with repeated viewings, never loses its shock value. Not that Oldboy trades on shock alone. Sure, some of the scenes are difficult (or rather, impossible) to sit through without grimacing and squirming in your seat, but they all feed into the story and never feel like gimmicks to cause controversy. That said, there is one scene involving a Squid that I detest, but even so I must concede that it is incredibly compelling. It helps get us into the mind of Dae-Su, and his is a mind worth exploring. Continue reading