Sunday, 18 September 2011

145, 30 Minutes or Less

I am officially a huge Jesse Eisenberg fan.  From Zombie & Adventureland through to the Social Network and even Blu I have totally bought into the awkwardness of his characters and love how they manage, against all odds to always overcome adversity.  From the early on-set of this movie you are again thrown into Eisenbergs world, a loser pizza delivery guy with an Indian best mate who manages to be ever so slightly more awkward than Jesse himself, albeit holding down a job as a teacher.

Listen early on and there is a little sweet jibe at "Social Network" with Jesse's character taking a "poke" at Facebook, claiming he does not go in for any of that, being completely off the grid and a few knowing chuckles emerge from the cheap seats.

So the plot, two hapless wannabe criminals call in a pizza to then abduct Jesse, knock him out and strap a bomb to him claiming if he does not rob a bank to get the $100,000 they need to pay a hit man to kill off one of their Dads so they can scoop a £10mil inheritance he will explode after the 10hr deadline.

So, first stop - a School! (which is brilliantly conceived) to rope in "best buddy" Chet to assist him in this foolhardy scheme.

Now onto the bad guys.  Well, its Danny McBride and his slightly goofy sidekick Nick Swardson who in my eyes, actually let this movie down slightly.   At this point I think it fair to let you know I don't get McBride.  I just don't find him funny and although he is genuinely cast in this as a completely retarded criminal with the mind capacity of a dodo, he still manages to overact his role and is best portrayed when only wearing the monkey mask.  Rant over.

Chet is brilliant - immediately goofy with a complete lifestyle crisis ensuing when it comes to robbing the bank.  however its his keeness to help his friend that manages to turn him into Rambo with a plastic gun and even manages to impress himself with his Bad-ass(ness).  Throw in the fact that Jesse is ever so slightly in love with Chet's sister and then on the flip-side, Chet being the reason that Jesse's parents split up causes for some riotous chuckles and you end up being swept along in this movie that barely covers 85 minutes of your entire life to complete.

There swearing, boobs, guns, bombs and even a flamethrower in there for good measure which keeps the movie racing along and with the worlds fastest Datsun as a getaway car what more could you ask for!

The Bank robbery scene is great, the Bomb and the cop scene is exactly what most people would do in that situation (forget "Protect and Serve") and the underlying love story of Jesse and Kate, although short is quite sweet.

Eisenberg fans will love this from start to finish and hopefully he might even grab a few new ones along the way.

144, I Don't Know How She Does It

Carrie (Sex and the City) Bradshaw has been on our screens for what seems like forever and like Rachel from Friends, its hard to imagine the actress behind her in another role.  Well, Jennifer Aniston has managed it after a few attempts and now its the turn of SJP to shed the glam and glitz of the big city, lose the Louboutin's and swap Prada for Parenting as she becomes working mum extraordinaire.

"I Don't Know How She Does It" focuses on a working mum and her equally hard working husband (Greg Kinnear) trying to manage busy corporate careers as well as trying not to miss the all important moments of having kids.  Torn between work commitments, Kate (SJP) has to manage a busy social life and a husband that although understanding to her position, craves simple moments of calm with his wife.  Throw in a high powered business deal that requires loads of travel from state to state, a suave business partner (Pierce Brosnan) and a greedy colleague hell bent on stealing all of her thunder, as well as work obsessed Momo (who is brilliant the way) you have a fast paced mix of comedy, romance and uncertainty.

Is it a chick flick? Well, probably.  It does not have the comedy of Bridesmaids but still manages to keep you entertained and there is the constant will they / wont they between SJP and Brosnan and the juggling of home meets career to see if a happy medium can be reached.

SJP is going to take a little time to shake off the stigma of Sex and the City but so far she has made Seven (non SATC) movies since the TV show ended in 2004, all pretty easily forgettable, barring did you Hear About the Morgans? in 2009 and she has two more in the pipeline.  SATC fans will probably love it, there were certainly gaggles of girlies in the screening but plenty of couples too.

Not the world longest blog, not the worlds greatest movie but a time filler either way and one that might raise a few smiles.

143, Colombiana

Its been 13 years at the tender age of 21 that Zoe Saldana graced our screen in an uncredited role in Law & Order and since then, turns in Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek and Avatar have well and truly put her on the global map.  A natural beauty, she wowed audiences in Avatar as Neytiri and did a stellar performance as the re-invented Uhura and will do again in the 2012 sequel.

Colombiana sees Zoe take on her largest leading role to date as the child who witnesses her parents murder by a Colombian drug cartel.  Even at the young age of 10 (played by Amandla Stenberg) she shows the signs of an aged assassin by evading pursuers and making her way to the safety of a US embassy where the information given to her by her father moments before her death secures her passport to the USA and into the loving, yet deadly arms of her Uncle and his family.

Still a child and determined to take down the cartel that murdered her parents a defiant Cataleya refuses school in the search for training to be a killer however after a slightly unbelievable and impromptu display of violence from her Uncles firearm outside an American School in the middle of the day, with no one saying a word, or in-fact the police taking him out quicker than a bomber in an airport our child heroine learns to bide her time and grow up, gracefully.

Ten years pass and now working as a contract killer, Cataleya is back to her revenge seeking ways and starts to close in on the people responsible for her families murder.

There are parts in this that sadly beg belief!  The school incident (mentioned above) is one of the immediate "That could never happen" moments but there are a few more that you end up chuckling along at even though you know they are not supposed to be funny but those aside, I couldn't help loving this movie.

Since Angelina Jolie took off the Croft gun Belt the cinema has been crying out for a replacement all-action lady and with the agility of a ballerina, the looks of a model and the stealth of a ninja, Zoe Saldana certainly ticks all of the right boxes.

Its fast paced, all action and as grizzly as it is seductive and by the end I was completely taken in by Saldana's performance.  Its already been and gone like a thief in the night in my local cinema and I know that as far as critics reviews go its not been that greatly received but what do they know!

As far as an action movie goes then its got the moves, if assassins are your thing then its got the stealth and its even got a few moments of clarity when Cataleya (Saldana) takes refuge in the only part of "normal" that appears in her life in the guise of "come and go" boyfriend, Danny who bless him, knows as little about his on/off squeeze as I do about MI6.

There are some quirky moments, some unbelievable moments and some sexy moments.  For me, a great movie.

142, One Day

I was not quite sure about this one and would have been quite happy to easily pass it by, however with nothing much to do and a spare evening we headed out to see Hathaway's latest release, albeit slightly concerned it would be a waste of time.

Well, this movie follows two college graduates, Dexter and Emma who are romantically thrown together after their graduation, albeit slightly unsuccessfully.

The movie then follows the next 20(ish) years of Dexter's life, checking in on him every year, on that same day in history.  Each year we see how the relationship between Dexter and Hathaway's character, Emma is getting on through its highs and lows, being together and being apart but always being in communication from everything through his TV stardom in the 90's, into fatherhood and subsequently divorce thrown together with equal career lows and then ending up in modern day.

The question is though - does our adorable Emma eventually get her man that she pinned over and morally accepted for the past two decades, even with his many flaws?

Well, I hate to give away the end of movies and even though I thought this one was a little ploddy in places the story was bearable but even I cant bring myself to give away the ending on this one.  You need to see it for yourself.  Its, unexpected?

The movie is a definite staple of current cinema.  A movie that focuses entirely on characters and their own development, the relationships between men and women and also the underlying fact that you cant help who you fall in love with.  Its sweet in places, cringeworthy in others and as the years count down, Hathaway managed to remain eternally young and beautiful with the ageing process of Dexter easily more believable.

There is not much else to talk about.  Some of you may adore this movie for its script and character development and the ever present love story, others may think its soppy and long winded - either way, there is a story to be told and the ending is worth the long wait.

Not worth a DVD purchase in my mind as I wont need to see it ever again but i have to slightly admit, I was glad of the opportunity to catch it as a one off.  The biggest disappointment of it all though was Anne's very poor English accent.  She could quite easily of researched using old episodes of Eastenders and Emmerdale as language reference points and botched them together in a kind of way that makes the UK look like we all speak the same.  Error on all levels! What she managed to come up with was a miss-mash of north and south which just did not work.  Sorry Anne, can we still be friends?

141, Friends with Benefits

After seeing trailer after trailer of this and the same jokes in each and every one I was hoping that they had not just picked the funniest bits leaving very little for the movie itself.

Luckily I was not disappointed as the Kunis / Timberlake relationship starts quite comically with a great airport scene and her immediate confidence as a recruitment professional making sure J.T gets to his GQ interview on-time.  From then on a great friendship blossoms with both of them coming from damaged relationships.  It takes a few beers and chat about sex being a necessity, not just a relationship perk that leads our two adorable stars into the sack.  From then on it becomes quite an obvious plot line as what started out as "Just Sex" soon becomes a whole lot more!

In my eyes though, although Kunis and Timberlake are great is the Woody Harrelson role that seems to get all the chuckles.  As the gay sports journalist from GQ he get the best lines and the one in the trailer about taking the "Ferry" is just one of his highlights throughout.

Aside from all the sex there are great relationships between the parents and families on both sides with Kunis's Mum being the equivalent of an 80's groupie, falling through the door drunk, picking up random guys and constantly disappointing her ever understanding daughter and then the Timberlake clan with his older sister caring for their poor dad who is suffering from early dementia and although saddening, quite comical with Timberlakes association with him making light of his illness with quite a heart warming airport scene.

The movie is brilliantly conceived with quite deep characters and family values.  The sex scenes are brilliant with the first, main one getting all of the laughs.  Imagine taking the romance out of sex and just being able to say exactly what you want and how without hurting the others feelings - well, that about sums it up and maybe not one to watch with the in-laws!

Timberlake in my eyes is just getting better and better as an actor.  Social Network was brilliant and although I was not entirely taken with Bad Teacher he continues to poke fun at his early NSYNC / dancing days much to my own amusement.  Mila on the other hand is completely adorable and after the success of Black Swan and a host of other titles in the pipeline (as well as the accolade of voicing Meg Griffin in Family Guy) I am sure that another Hollywood sweetheart has well and truly come among us.

It will make you laugh out loud as may times as it tugs at your heartstrings and with everything from Flash-Mobs to Kriss Kross thrown in for good measure, whats not to like!  Its a great little movie.  No complaints.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

140, Conan the Barbarian

For those of you like me, Jason Momoa is better known for playing Ronon Dex in Stargate Atlantis however he was first cast much earlier, finding (part) fame in Baywatch Hawaii and a few other lesser known titles.  It was Stargate that launched him onto the world stage and after 5 years of that along with a role in Game of Thrones at Khal Drogo we find ourselves face to face with him as Conan - a role originally played by regular hard man, Schwarzennegger himself!

So how does this compare to the original? Well, seeing as its been 29 years since Arnie hacked and slashed his way across the war torn wastelands the graphics, script and story have definitely improved.  Jason is awesome as the barbaric warrior and this is demonstrated even more brilliantly by Leo Howard, the actor responsible for the "young" Conan and the one who really shows where the skills were honed with an awesome fight scene early on where he easily takes down a number of slightly beastly enemies, resulting in a presentation of their heads to his father and leader of his people played by Ron Pearlman.

This part of the movie is longer than you would expect but really does set the scene brilliantly for the remainder of the movie.

The fight scenes are similar to that of the recent Spartacus programmes being shown on Sky 1 with the easy releasing of blood and guts being flung around like confetti at a wedding and the sound effects of skulls smashing against rocks is as realistic as you could ever wish for.  If full on swords and slayer action is your thing then you wont go far wrong with this.

Pearlman is brilliant as the endearing father, even though he's training a savage killer and later in the movie the father / daughter relationship of the enemies, Zym & Marique is just as lovable, albeit it slightly creepy and dare I say it, scarily incestuous?

Either way, its Conan that steals this one from start to finish and with a few warrior mates along for the ride he pretty much takes down armies single handedly, something his predecessor also managed with ease.  Arnie managed to play Conan twice (Barbarian & Destroyer) and I am hoping Mr Momoa will don the bearskin pants again and wade his way through more baddies, spilling their insides all over the place.

Its gory, its bloody and Conan also manges to get his rocks off a few times in between slaying creatures which seemed similar to the Orcs of "The Rings" movies which in a way is slightly gratifying.

Don't expect a super in-depth storyline, its all about revenge and destroying an evil army to get it, so hold your lunch down and enjoy!!!

139, Cowboys & Aliens

What a better premise!  James Bond and Indiana Jones in a Western, battling Aliens with Olivia Wilde along for the ride, could a description get any better?

When this trailer first hit the screens nearly 6 months ago everyone chuckled, it looked like a joke.  But with some real actors and some pretty cool Alien effects it soon became clear that the dodgy title was backed up with a pretty gritty movie that covered the best bits of yesterdays Wild West with the Sci-Fi World of tomorrow and the excitement started to grow.

The movie starts pretty fast with Daniel Craig dumped in the desert with no knowledge or recollection of who or where he is.  As the story plays out we discover our leading man is "wanted" with a pretty bounty on his head and local hard man and renown bad-ass Harrison Ford is the one wanting to collect!

It does take a while for things to get going but in this movie you need it, you need to get to know the characters, plot and back stories otherwise Aliens just popping up would look slightly odd and the regular flash backs and memory lapses are enough to let you gradually into whats happening before the Aliens rock up and take it to the Cowboys.

The special effects are pretty cool with a grappling hook style way of capturing humans (quite fitting as a space-age hog tie) and its also amusing to see Smith & Western 6 shooters playing off against space aged lasers but as expected, Bond has a special weapon on his side that Q-Branch would be proud of and how he obtained it also get explained so don't panic!

Ford and Craig are brilliant in quite different roles and the leading lady, Wilde is her stunning self as she was in House MD & Tron Legacy and shows no signs of sitting back and relaxing with 8 more movies in production between now and 2013 - Lucky us!

The remaining Cowboys are actually easily forgettable with a slightly annoying presence playing Fords wayward son and some pretty stereotypical hairy, smelly brutes with less teeth than a new born baby who are quickly picked off by the Aliens.

The Aliens themselves are actually quite scary with Piranha style faces and teeth, the agility of and strength of a 10 foot walking He-Man and an "inner" set of hands that vaguely reminded me of an uglier version of Quato from Total Recall! (The original Arnie one - not the 2012 re-make)

So, its an easy decision, Who would not love Cowboys and Aliens?  Well, if Sci-Fi and Westerns don't make you smile then probably quite a lot but if you are normal, then its all smiles!

138, The Inbetweeners Movie

So, hopefully by now each and every one of you in the UK who reads this has not bothered to wait for this blog and taken yourselves off to the cinema to catch a glimpse of this small piece of genius.

The Inbetweeners lasted 3 short seasons of literally 6 episodes a piece, resulting in no more than 9hrs of actual screened footage which somehow managed to draw in not just a cult following but a far wider audience than anyone ever expected.  With this overnight success someone extremely clever decided a full blown lads movie in Malia was the next step forward before our school leavers became to old to pull it off and somehow we have ended up with one the UK's biggest ever opening weekends and some legendary dancing scenes that have been captured forever on You Tube.

There is no denying that the Inbetweeners movie is a gross out, garish, loud, brash, rude & crude comedy that ticks every box for a lads holiday movie.  Will, Jay, Neil & Simon are everything you want from best mates.  The Romantic, The Idiot, The bullshitter and The Nerd.  If we are honest - we all fit in there somewhere and the best of us, well we manage to incorporate all 4 at some point.

What this movie does is take a little known TV series and max it right out.  They have gone "no holes barred" in this from Jay and his processed ham and goggles in the opening scene to grab a granny night at the worst pub in Greece and the best thing about it will love every second!

The boys completely excel themselves in this and supported by four lovely ladies that each lend their stereotypes to The Cute one, The Fat one, The Romantic one and The Geeky one mean you can see from early on that love could actually be in the air for or four hapless wonders - and not just in another of Jays wild stories!!

When you talk about this movie at work afterwards (and you will talk about it) one bit comes out straight away in every discussion;

The dancing.

Throughout the entire 3 series shown on TV, Neil is caught many times busting a move or 8 on a random dance floor or living room so its magical to have an entire section of this movie dedicated on this epic event.  The difference this time is after a few seconds of Simon and Will seeing Neil show how its done they also decide to cut a mean rug and then before you know it the whole cinema is in stitches for a good few minutes as they miraculously manage to work their way over to our femme fatales in the worlds dullest nightclub.

Its got everything you want from a good comedy movie.  Its got the laughs, the tears and even the revenge!  There are fights, bad language, dry humping and drugs.  There is romance, sex, bullying and ants.  Yes my friends, this movie has it all!

If you ever watched the TV series and thought it was not for you then the movie could change your mind quite easily.  Although crude, its done with a level of professionalism not seen in Series 1.  Our four amigos have improved their own acting ability since those early days and although still slightly wooden, manage to draw you into their world quite comfortably.

Its awesome.  I loved it.  If you have not yet seen it and want a bit of history first then Series 1 to 3 are currently showing on most on-demand services right now so take a Sunday out and watch the lot before heading to your final cinema showing of it on a Sunday evening.  There are definitely worse ways to spend a day off and in my eyes, not too many better ones!

See this if.........................................Just hearing the word "clunge" makes you smile.