Saturday, 29 January 2011

88, Hereafter

Tough one this.  Well, for starters the trailers easily lead you to believe Matt Damon is the lead role and yes, he is the most recognisable but this is a film of 3 parts - and the other 2 leading cast members are just as good, if not better in their performances as Damon.

But first a warning... This is a sad movie, with only a few moments of happiness dotted in between so hankies at the ready.

We start with devastating Tsunami wiping our what could easily be Haiti but is not listed as such - you cant fault the special effects and it is as brilliantly done as it is sad to watch.  This gives us lead Number 1.  A French TV presenter / reporter who survives the onslaught of the wave after having a near death experience.

Then we move to London - 2 twin boys living with their alcoholic mum and constantly pursued by Social Services, these young kids cover for their mum both at home and outside and try everything to help her out - its only after sad event number two takes effect and once again (hankies out) devastation hits their lives and we have our 2nd leading role.

Then its Matt's turn. A Psychic living in San-Fransisco.  Taking a factory job after living the life of a "medium" as he cant face a "life full of death" - much the the disappointment of  his older brother who sees it as a lucrative business rather then a curse that Damon lives with on a daily basis.

The movie follows these three individuals lives until they all end up in London and on a chance day, end up crossing paths - resulting in the answers each of them are looking for.

There is no twist and no underlying "light bulb" moment.  Its just a story of 3 people and the different ways they come to terms with their own life and death situations.

Cram this into 90 minutes and you would have quite a good movie, sadly its nearer the 2hr mark and you really start to feel it dragging along.  so, note to all of you - if you watch this and all 3 are in London - there is not long left!!

The stand out performance is from the kid.  He is absolutely hypnotic and maybe its his own circumstances that make you just want to pick him up and take him home.

Also, F.Y.I - a chunk of this is subtitled, mainly all of the French bits as a majority take place in Paris so be warned.

Weepy? Yes.  Too Long? Yes.  Good overall verdict? Why not!

There a few little smiley moments - the cooking classes are sweet but if any of my "first dates" ever went as bad as Matt's did then its a wonder I actually managed to get married!!

Its emotional movie and one that you should not see if you are feeling slightly tender but other than that - a nice story well told.

Well done Mr Clint Eastwood, nicely Directed.  Only next time, can we have "In the Line of Fire 2" please?

See this if..........................................you fancy a good old cry, even before the end!!

87, Gulliver's Travels

So this isn't the first time this has been tried.  Mainly in TV adaptations the story of Lemuel Gulliver has had both Richard Harris & Ted Danson take the lead but in this new twist for 2010 we meet an up to date Gulliver (Jack Black) who is portrayed as a bit of a loser trying to impress the girl of his dreams (and also senior office manager) by making up stores of travelling the globe and attempts to self promote himself out of the mail room.

He manages (with the help of a little plagiarism) to wangle a trip as a travel writer for the magazine to the Bermuda Triangle, while at the same time impressing the girl of his dreams and bagging a comfy little trip in the process.

Once there, things take a turn for the worse and Black ends up being transported during a massive storm to Lilliput, a land where people are no bigger than your finger and he becomes the hero of this small mystery kingdom after feeding them the same lie's and untruths that he did back in his home city.

However, his plan soon backfires and when faced with an actual "Mr Nasty" a 6in General with a 6ft Robot to back him up, Gulliver is quickly shown to be a true coward and sent to exile.

Its only when his Boss, who ends up setting out to Bermuda herself after uncovering Gulliver's lies ends up in Lilliput as well and after being taken hostage its up to Gulliver has to man-up and for once, be a true hero.

Plot sorted, and don't get me wrong its not a bad movie.  But for me, Jack Black is just not one of my top actors.  The Rock and Roll loving, slightly tubby, down and out nerd he seems to play so many times with the baggy shorts and ill fitting T's is back on the big screen and it just seemed like an all too familiar outing for him.

So, Hopefully there is a shining light that can make up for that and here they are.....

The stellar U.K cast is where its at for me.  Billy Connolly, James Corden, Emily Blunt & Catherine Tate as the Lilliputian royal Family totally steal the show and the humour is second to none.  But even they are overshadowed by one particular character.

General Edward, played brilliantly by I.T Crowd Legend, Chris O'Dowd.

Chris is brilliant as the egotistical, self righteous Edward and is not just funny but ridiculously so.  After other movie appearances such as love struck loser 'Simple Simon' in the "Boat that Rocked" and Blind Swordsman, Marco in Dinner for Schmucks,  O'Dowd proves that you don't necessarily need American A-Lister's to make movies work and he completely owns this one.

Its not an Oscar winner, and sadly again - disappointing 3D but I'm getting used to that now!!

See this if..............................U.K Comedy talent rocks!!! even on the big screen.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

86, The Kings Speech

OBVIOUSLY I had to go and watch this movie.  But originally I was not planning on it. 

Why?

Well basically for me, a period drama is about as exciting as crochet class at a W.I meeting!  I could not honestly care what goes on at Downton Abbey and apparently there was a book written once about Pride & Lettuce?

So when I say "Period Dramas" are not my thing I REALLY mean, they are not my thing.

However, something about this one made both me and my wife want to take a look (and her love of period Dramas puts my own hatred to shame!)  So what was it?  Well - read on...

The lure of the dashing Mr Firth doing what he apparently does best? or even the inspiring Helena Bonham Carter playing the Queen Mum, fitter than anyone else had ever dreamed? maybe even a young Princess Margaret played by everyones most loveable child star from Outnumbered!  Or dare I say it, Wormtail portraying Churchill & Guy from Neighbours as the entitled heir to the throne?  The Legendry Gambon playing King George or Geoffrey Rush as Lionel - Friend to Royalty and speech therapist extraordinaire?

Could it be all of the above..............YES!

Everyone in this movie was practically perfect in every way.  You could not fault a single performance, and what really pleased me was the humour!  Its a funny movie!

Amazing.

I was hooked from the start - feeling like I was accompanying the Duke through his journey to the Throne and feeling his every torment with his stammer. 

Everyones funniest bit has to be the barrage of obscenities that reel off Firths tongue as smoothly as silk on a marble floor and it really opens your eyes that in fact - King or no King - everyone needs a few minutes in their life to let rip!!!

The Wallace Simpson story is also brilliantly cast and for me, not actually knowing that much of my own monarchy's history (sorry!) I actually felt amused, educated and pleasantly surprised at how much I embraced this film.

Its not going to be for everyone - but with an open mind and a love of film in all its guises this should strike a chord with most of you.  I hope he nails best Actor at the Oscars - its well deserved. 

Am I converted to Period Dramas? Absolutely NOT!!  There wont be a Kings Speech 2 so no need to go through it again - once was enough and the memory will end happy.

My Sundays are for Top Gear.  Downton Abbey can have its place on the other side.  not bothered!

I have seen the Kings Speech!!  Its an Oscar winner - I am proud to support it and if you are one of the 4000 people that have read this blog over the past 3 months in one of the 9 countries listed - then apologies if this bit of England gushing is too much for you - but what else would you expect?

Love this - Thanks to everyone who told me to see it - you were right!!!

See this if..................................RULE BRITTANIA!!!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

85, Morning Glory

I remember catching the back end of this trailer as I hurriedly grabbed a last minute cappuccino from the kiosk and immediately asked about everything I missed - Harrison Ford in a comedy?!? that just does not happen so when Han Solo was set for cinematic humour I had to be first in line.

The story is simple, small-time successful producer (The lovely Rachel McAdam's) is fired due to cutbacks and bags her self a big city job as Exec Producer at flagging Breakfast show, Daybreak.  The crew are a little old hat, the presenters arrogant and on day 1, McAdam's manages to fire the lead male Anchor (Phil from My Family) leaving a bitter Diane Keaton flying solo.

The Channel director, Jeff Goldblum  tells her to get a new male Anchor and she goes after News Legend Mike Pomeroy, (Ford), who is regarded as the 3rd worst person in the world with a history of sincere, front-line reporting and the switch to "chatty" daytime tom foolery proves just too much for him.  McAdam's & Ford end up going head to head on every small detail until dropping ratings means an ultimatum from the top which results in a "do or die" transformation of the show to save their careers, reputation and jobs.

So, That's the plot - and Ford, McAdam's, Goldblum & Keaton are brilliant throughout.  Witty, funny, snappy and sarcastic.  They all gel really well.  A good job, well done.  There has been talk that Ford plays a copy cat of our own national treasure, Adrian Chiles and yes, the show is called the same thing but its purely coincidence.  The films way better!

Sadly, it does seem to take a bit of time to kick off.  Only about half way through do the laughs really start to come thick and fast and this is once McAdam's has changed things.  Then it really gets going - even Ford gets a few witty on-liners.

There a bunch of other well known faces, mainly minor roles but the crew get as many laughs as the leading cast as we see cameramen, weathermen and segment presenters also take part in what results in quite a good film.

Harrison is looking quite old now, much more so than Indiana Jones 4 and with only Cowboys & Aliens penned in for the rest of 2011 hopefully he has finally hung up the whip and gun!

See this if.............................................you're happy with a Slow Burner, but glad when it gets better!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

84, Season of the Witch

Sometimes a good old historical romp is well received.  14th Century Knight's, battling for the Church in the Crusades, defeating army after army until one day the killing of innocents becomes too much and Cage & Pearlman decide to go rogue until they are picked 1 month on and rather than face imprisonment & death for desertion they agree to transport a Witch to a monastery for a trial and execution which should rid the land of the plague cursed down upon them.

So, all happy then!  Nic Cage & Ron Pearlman play the comrades in arms who agree to transport the Witch across country only aided by Tommy from "Snatch", a priest and a few others.  Cage is back to his long haired look with his not so funny one-liners and Pearlman is the hit first, speak later character who seems to tag along as a sidekick / body guard.

The Witch herself was quite a good performance, a young girl who keeps you thinking for the first half of the movie if she is good or bad until what I initially though would be a spine chilling, hex cursing, good old fashioned rumble in Ye Olde' World Jungle quickly becomes something quite different indeed.

Sadly, this is a slow paced, disappointing movie that could have been so much better.  As regular readers will know, I try wherever possible not to dish out spoiler alerts but deserves a little 'heads up'.

She's not a Witch.  That does not mean to say she isn't "something" - but alas, not a Witch.

So the real question is, do you want to spend 90 minutes going to see this and work out for yourself if the outdated special effects that would look as at home in "Jason and the Argonauts" as they do in this, 48 years later on is worth your hard earned time and money?

For me, Not so.  I am hoping that Cage's next outing in "Drive Angry" is better than this so heed these words - don't cancel any plans to fit this film into your diary.  If you end up lost, confused and at a Cinema with nothing else to see and its not raining, then go an watch it.  But if the sun is shining - work on your tan instead!!!

See this if......................................................its in Screen 8 - then you can snooze throughout!!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

83, The Green Hornet

So, who knows who the Green Hornet was?  if not then let me offer a brief history lesson.

The Green hornet first surfaced in about 1940, then most famously came back in about 1966 (ish) with Bruce Lee starring alongside Van Williams in a program where two crime-fighters evaded crooks and cops alike to become heroes, albeit with out powers.

So, skip forward 40ish years and we have a Hollywood makeover that pits regular stoner / dorky leading man, Seth Rogan alongside newcomer Jay Chou as a rich son of a newspaper mogul who after his dads untimely demise puts aside his partying lifestyle to run the family paper.  Hooking up with ex-mechanic / regular coffee genius Kato his eyes are opened to a world of possibility and the pair of them decide to take on the criminal underworld whilst keeping the police guessing who's side they are on.

So that's the plot - before we cover Rogan & Chou lets look at the rest of the stars - my favourite in this is the brilliantly cast Chudnofsky, the criminal mastermind plays by Christoph Waltz (The amazingly creepy Hanz Lander from Inglorious Bastards)  He is phenomenal.  Cameron Diaz rocks up about half way through as the Temp P/A and Green hornet expert and there is a tiny cameo early on from current "127 Hours" James Franco (but it might not be......uncredited but it looks like him!!)  Eddie furlong appears for about 4 minutes as a crystal meth dealer and the Dad, played by Tom Wilkinson is again, great.

Now the cars!! - sorry but any film that has a Bugatti Veyron deserves a special mention and the Black Beauty is one car that I would have over my dream Lambo Gallardo if offered!!

That leaves 2 people.  Firstly Rogan.  Yes he co-wrote, produced and stars in this but even though he has a self named "fart gun" and lost a load of weight for this one he still comes across as a dick.  Zac & Miri, Superbad, Pineapple Express & Knocked Up cemented his career as the stoner / go-to guy for fat drug jokes and he is still yet to shake this tag-line.  however, the character he plays is a self centered, rich, spoilt brat so this matches him perfectly and once realism sets in you do slowly warm to him in this.  But he is by no means the star of the show.

Kato is excellent.  With homages to Bruce Lee throughout the entire movie that range from hand sketches of the dragon himself to a replica move of the infamous "1-inch punch" Jay has captured in essence the legendary martial performer and to Lee fans - this should appeal greatly.

I was expecting it to a slightly better "all-round" movie and as for the 3D - well that was total pants.  Not even worth commenting any further on.

Kato and Chudnofsky completely steal the show with the Black Beauty & Veyron coming in 3rd and 4th - Diaz is her normal Smokin self in my eyes takes 5th place.  Sadly, Rogan disappointed.  At least he gets a cut as producer and writer so if the movie bombs - he should at least pocket future royalties!!

Overall: (Highs) - quite funny, loads of guns and explosions, great cars and the lovely Diaz.  (Lows) - Rogan.

See this if.......................................Even without the powers - Superheroes float your boat!!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

82, The Next 3 Days


So a new Russell Crowe thriller!!! Awesome.  Gladiator, Robin Hood, bring it on - great trailers, action adventure.Cant wait!!!

Only it takes Soooooooooooo long to get going.

I am sorry, I really wanted enjoy this one.  The plot was great in premise.  Loving wife and mother wrongly convicted for Murder, Husband defies the law to break her out and risks everything to get his family back together.

Okay, lets start at the end and work backwards.  The last 1/4 of this movie is fantastic.  Heart pounding action and chase scenes.  The: will they / wont they get away with the kid / without the kid? will his Dad drop them in it? Will he have the nerve to take down a drug dealer for cash? will he think it through? and most importantly - why does the Legendary pairing of Brian Dennehy & Liam Neeson have such minor roles!!!

All good questions and luckily, all get answered, but it is a real shame it takes the other 3/4 of the movie to actually get going.

Crowe we all know but its the "wife" role, played by Elizabeth Banks (Role models / Zac & Miri) who steals this one in my eyes.  Really good performance and perfectly cast.  Sadly, one of my newest, favourite actresses (Olivia Wilde) who after a few years as "Thirteen" in House MD and a recent major role in Tron: Legacy appears but in a really meagre casting - she can do much better than that!!!  Luckily when I speak, Hollywood listen and she is cast in a further 6 movies between now and 2012.  Cant wait!!

I am not going to give away any of this, purely because by the time the action kicks off you are either eating your own toes with boredom or have already made 3 toilet breaks and if anyone was to spoil the surprise at this late stage you might actually wonder why life is worth living!!!  to be honest - the long build up is worth it as the last part does make you sit up and pay attention so here are my words of wisdom.

Don't rush in early, it wont be too busy and the highlight of the trailers is that FINALLY the Gulliver's Travels Orange Ad has moved on and its time for Rio the Parrot to take up the next 3 months of our lives on a weekly basis.

See this if......................................Climaxes are you thing, even if it means a slow build up!! ;-)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

81, Love and Other Drugs

Define Rom-Com?  To date, most are more romantic than comedic, hence the tag lines "Chick Flick" when we refer to them.  So wouldn't it be nice get a real Rom-Com that's flips the trend.  a full on Comedy, with romance added in, and a little tragedy?

Well, swap the romance for Nude Sex scenes and increase the tragedy levels by a thousand plus some hilarious jokes and you have described this movie beautifully.

Lets get the tragedy out of the way first.  It really does tug the heart strings and will make the more emotional of you shed a tear, although everyone loves a happy ending so rest assured (spoiler alert.............)

You get one!!

Yes, this film does focus predominantly on the illness suffered by Anne Hathaway's character which really does make you sit up and take note but whats great about this film is it's not all about that, and to be fair, is also one of the funniest comedies I have seen in a while.

Okay, Hathaway regarded as hot?  Well don't forget our "child friendly" actress has been in Hoodwinked, Princess Diaries,  Alice in Wonderland & Valentines Day (to name a few) and we have had to admire her charms from afar......but in all true Hollywood style each actress needs their "Helen Mirren" moment and this is hers. 

Full on, frontal nakedness....and lots of it!! so bear this in mind if you are planning to take your mum to see this!!  but there is also something for the ladies, Gylenhaall also bears most of his flesh too, so everyone's happy!!

Onto the comedy.  This is a laugh out loud funny movie.  Gylenhaall and Gad are responsible for most of the laughs.  Gad, the uglier, fatter younger brother is hysterical in his search for empty sex with beautiful women, a trait wholly adopted by his older sibling.  Oliver Platt is also on top form as the "mentor" sales rep and together, they are like the Three Musketeers gone wrong!!

The plot is a simple one, Single playboy and sales Jedi (Gylenhaal) stops at nothing to bag the sale and 9 times out of 10 this also means having to sleep his way to the top until he meets Hathaway, a Parkinson's sufferer who due to her condition seeks exactly the same thing.  Playing hard to get, Gylenhaal is determined to keep it simple but the humour, sex and beauty of Hathaway draws him into unfamiliar territory and our leading man has to weigh up whats most important in life.

Yes its a sad movie, But to find a movie that is as funny as it is tragic, as saucy as it is meaningful  is a rare treat.

Previously in my eyes Gylenhaal was a good actor but never captivated me as a true presence.  This movie changed my mind - he is awesome, funny and extremely likeable. 
Well played Jake.  Just need Maggie to follow suit now.

Also, and this is the best bit.  I now see Anne Hathaway in a different, better, sexier light.  More please!!!

I cant fault this one bit.  A chick flick for guys?  A Rom-Com that's not too soppy? A movie for all.
(just don't take the parents or kids!!

See this if....................................you want Funny, Sexy, Tragic & Romantic all-in-one.