Archive | April, 2013

Thor: The Dark World.

24 Apr

‘I gave you my word. I would return.’

And return he has. Crashing into our cinemas this October from a far off world called Marvel (you may have heard of it?) comes the next installment in the Thor series. I am safely assuming and in ardent hope that it will indeed be a series.

Now I am going to express a thought that I have had for a while now, and bear in mind that this is an entirely personal opinion of which I am sure many of you will disagree. This thought of mine is that Thor is the best Marvel film made so far. ‘WHAT?!’, I hear you cry. To be honest, aside from the first X Men film and Avengers Assemble there isn’t really much else in contention for the title, although I admit that that is entirely my own opinion as well. I watched Thor with no expectations; I hadn’t been bombarded with trailers for the film, I had heard little about the main protagonists Hemsworth and Hiddleston and I wasn’t receiving any texts from friends who were awaiting its arrival. It completely snuck under my radar. But within moments the film had me hooked. It was stunning, it was funny, it was humanistic, it was dark (however slightly) and most of all it was an adventure. Hemsworth warmed my heart, Hiddleston shot straight into my ‘find-every-movie-they’ve-ever-done’ category and I applauded director Kenneth Branagh. Naturally I wanted a sequel.


Following on from the aftermath of Avengers Assemble, Thor: The Dark World sees Thor up against an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who is threatening to plunge the universe into darkness once again. The trailer looks promising, with Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Stevenson (of Dexter fame) back for the ride, as well as impressive effects, heart-wrenching moments and of course, where would Thor be without his hammer?!

I watched the trailer with bated breath, waiting until after the film’s title had appeared for Loki’s appearance and thankfully, there it was. Hiddleston’s ability to make light come out of so much darkness and become one of the most intriguing villains of the Marvel World is simply astounding. Some may say that three movies with the same villain is preposterous but I am not one of those people.


October seems so far away but I am willing to wait. As I am willing to wait for many more…or in the words of one God….

The Scary Haunted Paranormal House – The Latest Sequel to the Sequel of the Sequel.

24 Apr

The question I am going to ask you all is: when is enough, enough?

Now you may be thinking ‘I have no idea’ but don’t worry as apparently Hollywood and its affiliates have no idea what the answer is either as the latest stream of sequels and spoof comedies are about to hit our cinemas and drain our pockets. Because lets face it, thousands of us are going to walk aimlessly to a cinema to indulge ourselves in the various franchises’.


The latest one to hit our screens is the fifth Scary Movie, aptly named Scary Movie 5 for anyone that may be confused. Sadly and like Scary Movie 3 and 4 this installment is not from the original creators of the series Marlon and Shawn Wayans who brought such comedic originality despite their films being a parody. Famous new characters including Shorty (Marlon Wayans), Cindy (Anna Faris), Doofy, Miss Man and Hanson (Chris Elliot) thrust their way into our lives with such lines of wisdom as, ‘Take my strong hand child’ and ‘I said don’t disturb me when I’m cleaning my room’, and then before we knew it, it was all over. The good bits anyway.

Judging from the trailer Scary Movie 5 could not be more clichéd if it tried, (even Anna Faris and Regina Hall (Brenda) didn’t come along for the ride this time!) and I can’t be certain that anyone involved was really trying. It is one thing to carefully place references, to balance parodies and original comedy so that a film can remain interesting but to just throw in every single little thing that has happened recently so people know what you are banging on about is just cheap and careless filmmaking. This can only serve to alienate and undermine the intelligence of audiences worldwide. When something begins on such a high you should leave it up there flying.


On my internet travels however I have come across the latest film from Marlon Wayans himself and director Michael Tiddes ‘A Haunted House’ – a spoof of the Paranormal Activity franchise. Now I know what you are thinking, ‘When is enough, enough?’ but actually this doesn’t look half bad with the trailer actually managing to make me LOL.

I guess my point is that if you have good writers, directors and producers and an actual plan of where to take your films then be my guest and make a shed-load of them because when it works, it really works (The Dark Knight series, LOTR’s….oh and Twilight….just kidding!). Otherwise just stop. Because seriously, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!


24 Apr


Whenever I begin to put fingertip to laptop keyboard and write a review I make an attempt to do a certain amount of research. It may not be a huge amount but I at least want to ensure that I am not writing from a place of sheer consumerism (i.e. I see an awesome trailer, I buy the film, I love the film, now read all my rants and raves about it based on a purely emotional experience). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy including the passion I have for multimedia within my reviews as I find often journalism that is kept within the confines of its setting can be quite stilted and shallow, but saying to my readers, ‘Hey man watch this just cos its awesome!’ is as equally shallow. So I try to find that middle ground, where I will tell you how the experience was for me all the while trying to encourage you to find out for yourself – nothing should ever be taken at face value.

Whilst researching Rampart (2012), Oren Movermans corrupt-cop drama, I navigated my way to the comforting world of IMDB to see what others thought of the film I had just watched. Here I was presented with an abundance of reviews that were the exact carnation of what I as a writer try to avoid. One user commented, ‘If I was at the screening I would have booed’, which as well as being a highly unlikely statement to make was about as much substance as they had managed to muster. Another proclaimed that, ‘not much really happens throughout the movie other then just watching Woody Harrelson walk around and talk tough’. I assure you the latter is untrue.

Based upon a true story, where more than 70 police officers in the anti-gang unit of the LAPD during the 1990’s were questioned regarding several forms of misconduct, Rampart follows the life of Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson), the last of the renegade cops in LA, who after being videotaped beating the man he got into a car accident with, has to fight for his own survival both in his job and the family around him. Immediately we are presented with and drawn into Brown’s intelligent and calculated world, where through extensive experience and ample amounts of time, he manages to use everything and anyone in order to get his own way.


Harrelson is the huge driving force of this film. As Dave, this is all about him and his character; his world, his rules, his consequences. Much like you would expect judging by previous roles (Mickey Knox – Natural Born Killers, 1994) Woody is able to make even the most vile of characters tolerable, not likeable but tolerable, with emotive and lasting performances. He is also surrounded by a high calibre cast, for however brief a time (Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi merely appearing for a scene or two), and this helps to serve as a rest bite in his ever-spiralling world. Ben Foster plays General Terry, a local street drug addict with whom Dave occasionally stops to speak too and is almost unrecognisable with his beard laden face and dirty clothes. He sits beside Dave’s cop car twitching and stammering and for me his performance resonates far more than any other – a side to Foster that we haven’t seen before but should be at the forefront of his career choices (I mean intense characters in general, not strictly drug addicts).


So aside from the performances, what does this film have? Not a lot according to the IMDB users and in some respects they would be right. Rampart is a story about life’s complexities and how just when you think you have it all it can quickly disappear. Dave Brown believes he is untouchable; he manages to keep both his ex partners who are also sisters at booty-call length, he knows the law and uses it wisely to come unstuck from certain situations and he takes no responsibility for the people who are left hurt in his path of destruction. However it’s open ending and snail-paced speed could make even the most hardcore of ‘indie’ fans turn off their screens but if you go into this expecting a dirty-cop version of Die Hard with explosions and a happy ending then you’ll be reaching for that remote pretty quickly.

Rampart is an uncomfortable, harsh and profoundly honest ride where raw emotion and character are the things pulling us all through. I touched upon this point earlier that as an audience we should never take things at face value as you may not get what you came for but with Rampart, you will damn sure leave with something.

Selling Point – The films ability to be simplistic and complex at the same time and its resonance long after its open-ending.

Quote-a-rama – Dave Brown – ‘I don’t cheat on my taxes… you can’t cheat on something you never committed to.’


We Don’t Need No Education.

23 Apr

I came across this video on the almighty ‘social’ network that is Facebook, and once again it reminded me of why I keep my account open.

From spoken-word/beat-poetry extraordinaire Suli Breaks comes a stunning and extremely personal view upon the education system, its advantages and disadvantages and why he believes that life itself is an education.

Whilst I don’t agree with every point he makes, this video and its words resonate long after the replay button appears.

On a personal level I believe that education is a valuable part of personal development, the daily social interaction can be essential for character building, the value of an appropriate environment in which to learn, and whilst many subjects won’t agree with certain peoples emotions or values they are all designed to help us gain a better understanding of what we want for our future. We may never use Pythagoras’ Theorem or the French for ‘the cat sat under the table’, but somebody might and to not teach a multitude of things would be exclusive.

I agree for the most part with what Suli is expressing, especially the ‘irony’ and contradictions that we are presented with through government and social media, but it is up to us to continue our education and seek out the knowledge that will put us one step further into our futures.

Whatever your thoughts on this link, it will make you nothing short of emotional. Brilliantly crafted and moving.

Thank You.

14 Apr

ImageA massive thank you to everyone who has recently started following my Blog, liked my posts and read my articles. Feedback, reblogs and those shiny gold stars at the top of the page are always hugely appreciated.

Much more to come on here in the next few days so keep an eye out!

Happy Reading.



The Cabin In The Woods.

14 Apr


From the many, many, many reviews I read about The Cabin In The Woods, I went into it with an understanding that it would be very much like Marmite. I was either going to be a horror fan and completely understand and love this film, or I was going to think that it is a giant cheese and cliché fest and hate it. If only things were that simple.

Without giving too much away, as you really need to know as little as possible to enjoy it, the film centres on a group of five young friends (including Chris Hemsworth and Richard Jenkins) who after deciding they need to get away from it all for the weekend head to a cabin in the woods to ‘get the party started’. Sound familiar? So it should as this film is a parody from start to finish. Much like parodies before it (e.g. Scary Movie, Hot Shots), but this time sticking specifically to the horror genre, the ingredients are all there; the obvious warning of ensuing danger from the gas-station attendant which the main protagonists all choose to ignore, the clichéd characters – the jock, the joker, the slut, the nerd and the virgin – who are bound to meet their demise in accordance with their actions and the ‘Oh man don’t go in there!’ moments where you can’t help but scream at your television screen. However all of these ingredients, these clichés, are strategically placed so as to pay homage to all those that inspired its creation.


However in the style of those who wrote it (Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard – masters of all things supernatural and sci-fi), it is obvious that this film isn’t going to be a straight-laced parody. Again, without revealing too much, it becomes apparent that our fab five are under surveillance and their decisions are being manipulated. A friend said to me upon recommendation that The Cabin In The Woods was a cross between Evil Dead (the original 1981 version) and The Truman Show. For obvious reasons this statement is correct but it doesn’t have either the staying power of the former or the integrity of the latter. As David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter remarked, “It’s just too bad the movie is never much more than a hollow exercise in self-reflexive cleverness that’s not nearly as ingenious as it seems to think”.

You have to enjoy this film for what it is, a well-acted giant puzzle with hidden and obvious horror movie references, a hugely humorous script (most notably joker-boy Marty saying ‘OK, I’m drawing a line in the fucking sand. Do NOT read the Latin!’….no good can ever come from reading Latin!) and an interesting plot that even though is a parody of other films still manages to remain extremely unique. A memorable viewing experience that unfortunately for its slightly low calibre I probably wont be repeating.


Selling Point – Every scene with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford who give a master-class in delivery of comedic lines.

Why No Star Rating?

14 Apr

For those of you who missed it the first time.
Happy reading 🙂



There was one thing that I wanted to avoid when I started this blog that most film/book/television programme reviews have and that is star ratings. I find it interesting that most reviews try to remain objective, at least in accordance with the policies of the magazine it comes in or the opinions of the presenter it comes from, and then at the end they counterbalance that by proclaiming that something is 10/10 or five stars. That result is in itself a subjective thing. I could tell you that ‘A Few Good Men’ is 10/10, that it has everything you want from a film; an incredible script, a compelling plot, a world class cast and all from a brilliant director, a film that is as thrilling as it is captivating. You might watch it and think I must have been taking the wrong medication.

Although I am going to be avoiding…

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The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane.

14 Apr

The 70’s was an interesting time for horror movies. Film lovers of the decade were bombarded with an array of sadistic story-lines, twisted under and overtones and gruesome special effects. Films made it into national distribution that would rival even today’s ‘Human Centipede’ horror standards, including the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem’s Lot, The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange which was famously taken out of distribution for its explicit content.

the little girlWhile the different certification boards were up to their elbows in guts, gore and serial killers it seems that a few films slipped through the cracks when it came to being rated appropriately in relation to their subject matter. ‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane‘ (1976, Dir. Nicolas Gessner) is one of these films, which despite its psycho-sexual underpinnings and incredibly eerie feel received a PG rating on release. By today’s standards that would put it in the same ratings bracket as the not-to-be-mistaken-for-a-pantomime ‘OZ The Great and Powerful’. Gessner’s film is in one hell of a different bracket.

The film follows 13 year-old Rynn (played by Jodie Foster) who’s way of life comes into question when her landlady Mrs Hallett begins to question the whereabouts of her poet father. While trying to uphold her growing number of secrets, Rynn’s safety is repeatedly challenged when she comes up against predatory advances from Mrs Halletts son Frank (Martin Sheen).

the-little-girl-who-lives-down-the-laneNow it is difficult to write about this film without giving the plots development away, so I will have to speak in broad terms. From start to finish this film grabs your attention with Rynn’s situation intensifying scene-by-scene as her fathers whereabouts become increasingly suspect and the audience is left on a knife-edge at almost every juncture. Most notably what makes this film so great is Foster. Taking on roles at the youngest of ages that actors today wouldn’t touch with a ten foot barge pole, Foster cemented herself as one of the brightest stars of Hollywood throughout the 70’s and 80’s, and this films performance is no exception. Whats interesting is that the character and Jodie herself appear to have so much in common; charm, intelligence and a maturity beyond their years, which presumably would have been what attracted her to this role and so many others. She shines as Rynn and even though the storyline, taken from both the screenplay and novel written by Laird Koenig, is enough to keep you captivated she is the driving force of the film.

The-Little-Girl-Who-Lives-Down-The-Lane-1976-the-little-girl-who-lives-down-the-lane-29530979-714-350Sheen is also a huge presence as Frank Hallett. His performance as ‘the village paedophile’ is exceptional, well and truly getting under your skin with every twitchy movement and sexually authoritative advance made upon Rynn, all the while managing to gain a certain amount of sympathy from the audience for playing him as someone who is deeply damaged.

Aside from the films set and costume design being distinctly 1970’s (platform shoes and boldly patterned wallpapers) ‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane’ is timeless. Having been reluctantly under the radar for many years, presumably down to both its unattractive PG rating upon release and the influx of gore-driven horror movies bringing in the audiences, this well polished treat is finally being well received. With performances to die for and a tempo that doesn’t let up it is a prime example of my adapted philosophy to ‘not judge a film by its cover’.

Selling Point – Foster.

Silver Linings Playbook.

12 Apr

Hype. The dictionary definitions of this word are as follows: ‘Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion’ and ‘Exaggerated or extravagant claims made especially in advertising or promotional material’. So many films over the years are a party to this word, where we as the viewing public are bombarded with press releases, billboards, trailers, promotional videos, viral campaigns….the list goes on and on. Often this ‘hype’ creates an illusion of grandeur, of superiority and excellence, and often we can be left disappointed. In the case of Silver Linings Playbook, where for around a year we heard of its release and its oscar-worthy performances, the hype was a success as the films excellence far outweighs its disappointments.

Starring Bradley Cooper (who at this moment in time is incredibly hungover…Part III is out very soon) and Jennifer Lawrence, the star of the recent box-office hit Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat (Cooper) who after completing an 8 month stretch in a mental institution for beating up his wife’s lover, returns to his chaotic home where he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a determined girl with a truck-load of her own problems.Silver_Linings_Playbook

Post-Oscars it is easy to understand why this film has been so highly received. A beautiful soundtrack, an astounding cast and a moving storyline are all significant components in this well-oiled machine. Superior to all of those however is the script. Developed by the director David O. Russell from the book by Matthew Quick, it is electrifying. At almost every given moment there are multiple levels of dialogue happening at once, delivered with such precision and finesse the audience are left, not confused but, buzzing. The back and forth between each character is exceptional, most notably between Pat and his Dad, Pat Sr. played by Robert De Niro, and adds to the already fast-paced momentum of the film.

Post-Oscars it is however difficult to understand why Bradley Cooper was not awarded his Oscar and Jennifer Lawrence was. Other than being up against an icon of the film industry Daniel Day-Lewis for his role as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln, Cooper’s performance is by far superior to that of his co-star, portraying a young man with bipolar in a chaotic and troublesome world to absolute perfection.


In a low-calibre romantic comedy called ‘You, Me and Dupree’ Owen Wilsons character Dupree talks about everyone having a ‘ness’, qualities that only you hold that are no-one elses. To use myself as an example, Amy-ness. The last few years I have thought about this in terms of Indie-ness. Actors who have qualities that are lost in the mainstream but come alive and prosper in films that are either slightly left-field or ones that simply don’t have the resources to be advertised in every possible way. Ryan Gosling has this Indie-ness, as does McConaughey and Daniel Craig. Cooper is fast following in these footsteps and making a huge imprint in the dirt.

So the question is, does Silver Linings Playbook live up to the hype? For the most part I would say yes. The weight of Bradley Coopers performance, an astounding script that is brilliantly delivered by all the cast and a melodic soundtrack, all make this film really special. The final moments where Pat and Tiffany take part in a dance competition lack the somewhat climatic impact you are hoping for throughout the films build up, which does leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth and mind, but over all it satisfies much more than most rom-coms of the modern era. Fast, charming and solid, an absolute must-see.

Silver_Linings_Playbook diner

Selling Point – Tiffany talking to Pat about her sexual experience with a woman. Literally one of my favourite scenes of all time, for nothing else but Pat’s reaction.