Sunday, 16 December 2012

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

Whilst attempting to compile my list of essential Christmas viewing I wrestled with my choices more than my barely read blog really deserved. One of the films that nearly made the grade was this offering from Shane Black. It is another of those films, along with his other offering Lethal Weapon, that stand on the periphery of Christmas films and films that are merely set during the festive season. I ultimately decided that Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang didn’t quite count as essential viewing over the holidays but that it deserved some recognition on this site.

Friday, 14 December 2012

My Top 11 Essential Christmas Films

Just to try and make myself feel like less of a failure I'm going to post two things in one night. Although the pressure is on as I've never been able to complete a Top 10 anything list in under a week. I also apologise for relying on the overused list format as a fail-safe but Christmas is a serious business and it's important to know where you priorities should be. There shouldn't be any need but I'd also like to point out that this is simply my own personal opinion. There are a lot Christmas films out there (especially when you have pretty flexible rules about what can really be described as a Christmas film) and these just happen to be the ones that I look forward to watching every year. (The eagle-eyed amongst you will no doubt have noticed that I wasn't able to keep to just 10 films but I hope, in the spirit of Christmas, that you'll be able to forgive my excitement.)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

In mid-November I had a dream. It was a crazy, na├»ve dream that came out of my guilt surrounding my failure to update this thing very often: I told myself that for every day of advent I would write something Christmas related for this blog. These ranged from the mundane (and lazy) top 10 lists to the more ambitious reviews and general musings. Considering this is my first Christmas themed post and we’re already in mid-December I think it’s safe to say I failed to live up to my expectations but better late than never I say. Oh and quick warning, I’m about to write about a film that is probably my all-time favourite Christmas film so be prepared for it to get a bit sentimental.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Easy A (2010)

I have to admit that I really do enjoy a good teen movie more than I probably should. (I also enjoy a bad teen movie more than I should but for incredibly different reasons. I've lost count of the number of Hilary Duff/Chad Michael Murray films I've drunkenly laughed my way through over the years.) I grew up on the films of John Hughes wishing I could be Molly Ringwald (only with less painfully 80s clothes) and hoping John Cusack would one day wind up outside my window playing something by the Spice Girls on a boombox. Alas, I never became Miss Ringwald and, to this day, I have never run to my window after hearing the opening bars of '2 Become 1' to find John waiting for me. However, I remained true to the world of teen movies: despite the fact that teen movies became much worse than the masterpieces created during the 80s. (I so very nearly wrote "despite the fact that teen movies never remained true to me" but felt that would probably be a tad too melodramatic.)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Coriolanus (2011)

Ralph Fiennes has a deep history with this particular Shakespeare play after his much appraised portrayal of the title character about ten years ago. With the help of screenwriter John Logan (GladiatorHugo) and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker), Fiennes offers us an exciting modern adaptation of the little known and little loved play. Modern adaptations of Shakespeare are not uncommon but there is always the danger that the connection between the plot and the updated setting will start to wear a little thin. For example, I was lucky enough to see Michael Sheen in Hamlet at the Young Vic last Christmas. Not only was he amazingly talented, mesmerising and rather beautiful (in a crazy way) but the adaptation itself was pretty exciting. The action was set in a mental asylum where Claudius and Gertrude were medical staff and Hamlet their patient. This worked incredibly well until the plot demanded that the staff organise a deadly fencing match between their patients. Obviously there needs to be a suspension of disbelief but the scene did stand out as a bit much. When plays deal with plots set in the Elizabethan period there is bound to be a certain amount that doesn’t quite translate. The trick is making sure these elements blend in enough that it doesn’t really matter.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Skyfall (2012)

Daniel Craig’s time as James Bond has certainly had its ups and downs since the announcement that he would take over from previous incarnation Pierce Brosnan. Although, I think it’s safe to say that, despite what you may have thought about Quantum, Craig has shown that he has more than enough skill to take on the challenge of such a renowned figure. This was a Bond for the modern age; a Bond who takes on the physical challenges expected of a super spy whilst still looking every part the traditional English gent. That was the greatest thing about Casino Royale, we had a film that took a character rooted in the British tradition of stiff upper lipped patriotism and turned him into a gritty action hero with just enough heart. Casino Royale changed the rules for 007 and remains the best film of the series. This has, of course, meant that all future films will be compared to it. Something that didn’t go well for the disappointing and much criticised Quantum of Solace and something that will mean that Skyfall won’t get the full appreciation that it deserves. It is no Casino Royale but the latest offering is the perfect celebration of 50 years of Ian Fleming’s literary construction.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Brave (2012)

It’s been a good while since I watched Brave and I found that I was unable to find anything to say about it. It didn’t really have much of an impact on me. The film wasn’t the worst film that Pixar has ever produced but it is in no way up there with the greatest. It’s difficult to discuss a Pixar film without looking back at their (mostly) great back catalogue of films. Much in the same way that people can’t open up to Woody Allen’s latest films without getting nostalgic about the Woody of the 70s and 80s. Of course, it’s not a great system but when you’re dealing with a film studio that brought us family favourites like Toy Story and Finding Nemo it’s hard to forget just how much potential they have. Up against some of these greats Brave just comes across as much less ambitious and suggests that Pixar are quickly running out of fresh ideas.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Harry Potter and the Disastrous Epilogue

This week is very much about JK Rowling. Her follow-up book to the ridiculously successful Harry Potter series (and first attempt at writing for a completely adult audience), The Casual Vacancy, was released on Thursday. As such, I have read an array of articles about her in the past few days with many of them causing me at least a modicum of distress. As you would expect, the vast majority are overflowing with references to her popular series of Harry Potter books but reveal very little about her latest work. The author’s highly anticipated follow-up was shrouded in mystery and very little information was revealed about it prior to publication. It therefore provided the perfect chance to rake over old ground and talk about the series that have (in my mind mistakenly) lead to Rowling being named one of Britain’s top authors.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Ted (2012)

Seth MacFarlane is obviously best known for his hit TV comedies Family Guy and American Dad. Family Guy, in particular, is well known for its use of base humour and generally outrageous statements. It would have been foolish to think that MacFarlane’s first stab at cinema would be very different. Especially when you consider the fact that it is co written by two fellow Family Guy writers, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Add to that many familiar names, including Mila Kunis, Patrick Warburton and Alex Borstein, we have the potential for another familiar MacFarlane set-up with a talking teddy bear in place of a dog/alien/bear.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Beginners (2011)

Mike Mills is an example of that breed of cool indie artists who has turned his hand to music videos, album-cover art and edgy films. As such, his semi-autobiographical drama/romantic-comedy (drom-com?), Beginners, is quirky, visually enticing and poignant. Months after his mother dies, graphic designer, Oliver’s world turns upside down when his father, Hal, reveals that he has been hiding his true self for the past 40 odd years and is, in fact, gay. The story that follows shows the two men’s quest to find happiness after years of lies and fear. This is a monumental discovery for the artist; it improves his relationship with his father; changes his opinion of his parents marriage; brings new meaning to his mother’s outlandish behaviour during his childhood; and forces him to rethink his already shaky views on love and relationships.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Batman: the hero we deserve... just as long as you've done your homework.

In which I say something outlandish and probably hugely offensive … on the Internet of all places. Sheesh! (Oh and as you can tell I’ve just found out how to take a screenshot on my new phone and went a little bit over the top in regards to my visual aids. For the single person who accidentally comes across this page and decides it’s worth a punt, I hope you can see them.)

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The final instalment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy had a huge benchmark to reach as it was, without a doubt, the most anticipated film of this year. Particularly after the amazing success of 2008’s The Dark Knight which was a hit with both audiences and critics alike. The hype surrounding Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker has given The Dark Knight a better reputation than it really deserves. Ledger's Joker aside, the film lacks a great deal of what made the first film so fucking awesome. The Harvey Dent/Two-Face storyline is as much of a fucking joke as the Spider-Man/Venom storyline in Toby Maguire 3. Then you have the annoying Rachel/Harvey/Bruce love triangle thing and a fucking stupid ending. Why was necessary for Harvey to be the good guy? Why not allow Gordon (a strong symbol of honesty, lawfulness and justice... also hotness) to step forward as Gotham's White Knight? Yes, there were stand-out pieces (the sequence on the two boats is unforgettable) and great visual effects but I was certainly not one of the people who went into the third film predisposed to see only the Heath Ledger shaped hole.

Monday, 9 July 2012

X-Men: First Class (2011)

It is undeniable that comic book movies have come a long way since their early days. Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) gave us a dark tale starring the Dark Knight that was stylistically very similar to the original comics. His two Batman movies introduced us to a gothic world and gave us just enough danger, humour and excitement to make it ok to be a bit of a geek. Bryan Singer’s original X-Men (2000) showed us that superhero movies could be all round good films and Spider-Man (2002) made them smash hits with cinemagoers. Lastly, with Batman Begins and more recently The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan gave us an intelligent, grown-up and very dark look into the world of costumed crusaders. Comic book movies were no longer just for fans of the original source material. They became hits with movie fans as a whole. Gone are the days of the simplistic and silly Batman of the 1960s, audiences want something clever, exciting and just a little bit terrifying.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

X-Men: A short history of Marvel's mutants in movies.

I sat down in front of my computer with the intention of writing a witty and charmingly disorganised review of X-Men: First Class. Instead I found myself delving into the history of the relationship between the popular Marvel series and the cinema. Turns out I had quite a few issues to work out in terms of the later two films. So apologies for this impromptu therapy session but getting this out in the open has prepared me to write a decent enough analysis of the latest mutant outing.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Jane Eyre (2011)

(Feel I should point out this contains spoilers but doesn’t everyone know the story of Jane Eyre even if they haven’t read the book? Maybe not. SPOILERS!)

For a reason that remains unknown to me, Edward Rochester is the most popular romantic literary character ever. Rochester is not the kind of man you fall in love with. He is creepy, possessive and, generally, just a bit of a dick. Oh, but all he needs is a hug, a cup of tea and your love, right ladies? So he’s a tortured soul, who made a mistake in his youth but that really doesn’t justify psychologically torturing the young Jane. Although, maybe it is every girl’s dream to meet a man who loves her so much he is willing to convince her he is marrying another woman and break her heart before revealing that it was all a plot to make her jealous? What? In the words of renowned fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu, “I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!” Rochester is a man who is bitter about ruining his life by marrying a woman he not only didn’t love but who turned out to be mad. This does not give him to right to play games with an innocent, young woman, fresh out of school, who is stupid enough to fall in love with him. I don’t get it and I never will.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Marvel's The Avengers (2012)

I have eagerly awaited the release of The Avengers for about 3 years now and there was very little chance that I would walk out of the cinema without a great sense of glee. To say I had high expectations from Joss Whedon’s turn within the Marvel universe is a disgraceful misrepresentation of my pre-Avengers state of mind. I avoided any review or article that I felt would potentially spoil my viewing and resigned myself to watching the trailer repeatedly for the months before release. I was on fucking tenterhooks.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

War Horse (2012)

Before I even saw this film I objected to it. It's kind of sad that Hollywood believes the only way to show a modern audience the true horror of the First World War is through the story of a boy and his horse. I mean the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth managed to keep all things equine out of it and still be an emotional fucking rollercoaster. I don't think there's anything that can be added to the horror of the real life events by putting a horse into the equation Especially when you don't have the book's ability to give the horse a voice or the amazing puppetry of the stage show to justify it. Still, I decided to watch it because, you know, Tom Hiddleston's face is in it. And I'd watch anything that gave that a starring role.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Artist (2011)

Writing something about The Artist proved to be a fairly difficult task. It is a film that I honestly didn’t believe would ever be made. Unlike the vast majority of movies being produced nowadays, it hadn't sacrificed style and substance in favour of financial pursuits. The biggest Hollywood name is John Goodman, it is predominantly silent, and filmed in black and white. It hardly caters to the 21st century film goer's usual tastes. It has, of course, turned out to be a bigger hit than many would have anticipated, receiving critical acclaim and positive feedback from audiences.