Recent Viewing

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 

1.5stqrI have defended these films in the past, but for want of a better description Part 2 is a crock of shit. It has all the energy and intensity of a hungover sloth that has only eaten jelly for a week. Here is my stream of consciousness review of some of the things I noticed whilst watching.

The opening credits (and looking back the best sequence of the film), nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing Jacob ends a scene by giving a smug knowing smile, turning, nodding and jogging away nothing nothing nothing nothing in Egypt nothing nothing nothing multi-cultural nothing nothing nothing nothing the background music stops for ten seconds of sweet sweet relief, it plays continuously for the rest of the film nothing nothing nothing nothing Bella meets an interesting and well-acted character in a restaurant, he was called Jenks nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing I didn’t think beheadings could be so boring, but wait! Some major characters are dying, this is almost interesting….oh wait, a massive cop out. Nothing nothing I pick up on a reference to the first film and feel ashamed.

Considering how much money these films have raked in, the CGI is pretty bad. Once again the wolves carry about as much threat as a gaggle of affable butterflies and the score never rises above aimless piano tinkling. Other than Michael Sheen’s ridiculous laugh and Kristen Stewarts face, I didn’t find a single thing to enjoy.


2.5starI was drawn in by the cast but Tom Hardy was average, Guy Pearce overacted a caricature of a character and Gary Oldman was barely on screen. Unexpectedly this left Shia LeBoeuf as the standout performer in a disappointing production. I struggle with historical pieces filmed digitally.

We Need To Talk About Kevin 

3starThis is as cold as they come. The film cuts between the present day struggles of Kevin’s mother as she deals with life after the incident and flashbacks to him growing up and their very strained relationship. For me the fact that Kevin was seemingly born evil detracted something from the film. It might have been more interesting if there had been some examination of the factors (parenting, social experiences etc.) that affect a child and could conceivably push them over the edge. It was more like The Omen than anything else. I never felt anything towards the mother and therefore found it a little underwhelming. There are some moments to appreciate (evil, creepy baby staring out his mother) and a great performance from Tilda Swinton, but not a lot else to enjoy.


Best Of The Bunch



4.5starI’m not going to be able to describe how much I loved this…so I’ll keep it short. Of all the films I’ve seen this year, this is my favourite. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are both great as estranged brothers, but Nick Nolte is on another level altogether as their troubled father. A soundtrack which is dominated by ‘The National’ and brilliant, brutal fight sequences (Hardy broke toes, ribs and a finger during filming, and it shows). My closing statement? …It’s better than ‘Rocky’.


Recent Viewing

Attack The Block

3starProvides exactly what you want it to.  Plenty of NED on Alien action, it’s  funny enough and there’s even an attempt at some social commentary.  The creatures/aliens look amazing, probably because CGI was used as little as possible.  It was almost entirely done using suits, masks and animatronics.  That means more fun for the actors and more fun for the audience. It doesn’t come close to ousting ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ as the best film in this genre though.

“lads, you’ve discovered a species hitherto unknown to science, quite possibly non-terrestrial in origin, and you kicked its fuckin’ head in!”

ides2The Ides of March

4 starA bright-eyed and idealistic young campaign worker is introduced to the dirty world of campaign politics.  Very slick with a phenomenal cast and my favourite type of ending, an ambiguous one!  Will Stephen adjust to the morally corrupt world of politics to further his career, or will he bring down the man he once believed in live on air…the title would lead me to suggest that it’ll be the latter.


3.5 starA good balance between classic Bond cheese (there are a couple of seriously cringeworthy lines) and the more human and rounded elements that recent Bonds have tried to capture.  This one should unite those who feel that recent Bonds have moved away from what made the character great and those who have been drawn in by the realism and fragility that have defined Craig’s portrayal of 007.  One of the most entertaining opening action scenes I’ve seen in a while and the best villain since Craig took over the role.  Are Bond and M washed up? Is there still a place for the spy on the ground in this technological age? Well..

“Every now and then a trigger needs to be pulled”.

Best Of The Bunch

In The Loop

In The Loop

4.5starA magnificent satire of the lead up to war in Iraq.  In the loop, made by the creators of BBC political comedy ‘the thick of it’, takes a savage satirical swipe at the politics of the build up to war.  Despite being a fan of the TV series I had concerns about the production of a film.  The great strength of the TV show is its intensity and fast, sharp, at times breathless dialogue.  I feared some of this intensity would be lost with the longer running time, but it wasn’t.  This film is up there with the likes of Anchorman as one of the most quotable films I’ve seen, but on top of the great one-liners, unbelievably creative swearing and genuinely brilliant comedic moments, this film has substance.

“Don’t ever call me English again!”

Recent Viewing

Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind

3.5 starA great piece of escapism with impressive special effects (look at that still below, 1977 it was made!!) as aliens make contact with Earth, via a remarkably catchy jingle. The standout scene involves the extra-terrestrials descending on a house and trying to find their way inside to abduct a young child. This is up there with Spielbergs better work.  Look out for some truly terrible parenting on display.

The Counterfeiters

3.5 starA Russian Jew and master counterfeiter is taken prisoner by the Nazis and forced into helping them with the biggest counterfeit operation in history; the Nazis attempt to weaken the US and UK economies by flooding the markets with hundreds of millions of fake pounds and dollars.  The beating heart of the film is the internal struggle the team of jewish counterfeiters face.  Their choice is between self preservation and actively helping to bankroll the Nazis, or if they don’t comply certain death and a small dent in the Nazis cause.  An astonishing true story that I need to read up on further.

largecounterfeiters blu-ray3232

Bad Boys

3starYour standard ‘back and forth dialogue between two trigger-happy cops who have one last chance to save their jobs and become heroes within the force’ framework…. but done well.  I’ve always liked Will Smith, he’s naturally funny and has some good lines to work with here.  It flew by and the slow motion shots during the action scenes were unintentionally hilarious.“This happens to be one of the fastest production cars on the planet. Zero to sixty in four seconds, sweetie. It’s a limited edition. ”  “You damn right it’s limited. No cupholders, no backseats, just a big shiny dick with 2 seats in it.”



4 starMy first dogme film.  As a wealthy family gets together to celebrate, dark secrets from the past surface.  I have to admit that it literally made me feel nauseas for the first 10 minutes as I got used to the shaky hand-held camera, but once my stomach had settled I thought the back to basics filming and production style fitted the story and situation perfectly.  The hand-held camera and fly on the wall shots brought a gritty realism, as if you were walking the rooms and corridors yourself.  At times uncomfortable, but well acted and never dull.  It almost felt as though this is how this shit would go down in real life, rather than in a film. Refreshing.

Recent Viewing


The Amazing Spiderman

2.5starPossibly the most pointless film I’ve ever seen.  It’s only been 5 years since the last Spiderman was released and this really doesn’t bring anything particularly different to the table, certainly not enough to warrant another re-boot.  Call me cynical but it feels like the studio has just wheeled out Spiderman as a guaranteed money-spinner.  Andrew Garfield does a good job and it’s a massive relief whenever Martin Sheen is on screen and it starts to feel like a proper film.  Between them they almost drag it into ‘good film’ territory, but the whole thing is completely let down by the unconvincing and forgettable villain.  A perfect example of these completely unremarkable, lazy and formulaic films that Hollywood continues to churn out.  The cinematic equivalent of an album by a manufactured and heavily marketed boyband.

Barton Fink

3starJohn Turturo plays an acclaimed playwright turned Hollywood writer, struggling with writers block.  I’m a big fan of The Coens, but this one didn’t agree with me.  The film is ambiguous and open to various interpretations and meanings, which is all very well, but the problem i had with it was quite simple.  With the exception of John Goodman’s character it wasn’t entertaining enough to hold my attention. It doesn’t matter how clever or thoughtful a film is, if you get bored that’s it.  To be honest the fact that I could be so out of step with a Coens film has left me feeling a little confused. It pains me to say it, but the one word running through my head more than any other, was ‘pretentious’.  I’ve felt that their films have occasionally diced with pretentiousness before, but for me, this is the first time they’ve crossed that line.  Having said that though, there are quite a few funny lines, some great dialogue, John Goodman is superb and there are a couple of great scenes towards the end.

“Notice how he’s not writing it down”

Music and Lyrics

1starJunk, drivel, terrible, hogwash, crud, despicable, shite, appalling,  dreadful, horrific, guff, shocking, abysmal, dreadful, ghastly, bogus, crap, loathsome, detestable, dire, abhorrent, hideous….these are all examples of words that fail to adequately describe how bad this film really this.




Enter The Void

3starGaspar Noe’s Enter The Void follows a small time drug dealer and addict living in Tokyo  and his souls journey from death to reincarnation.   Visually the film is stunning, like nothing I’ve ever seen before, but in the end I found it a slightly empty and hollow experience.  Definitely worth watching though for the imaginative camerawork and spectacular visuals.  Take a look at the trailer below.


Recent Viewing

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1

2 starIf you’re pregnant, firstly congratulations and secondly you should probably wait until after you’ve delivered to watch this.  I’m going to have to split this one into 3 sections.  The first hour was very, very slow, melodramatic and well, Twilighty.  It felt like there was a bit of padding going on to stretch out the material, they could easily have cut out 20minutes.   It wasn’t necessarily all that bad though.   The next 25 minutes were beyond terrible.  It was like they’d got a competition winner in from a local primary school to write and direct a portion.  I laughed out loud a couple of times at the dialogue and also when the wolves (which carry about as much threat as a gaggle of affable  butterflies) started talking in their human voices.  It was a bizarre scene.  Having said all that though, I actually thought the final 25 minutes were pretty good, and surprisingly shocking.  Any film with a ‘demon baby’ gets points from me and the fact that I found myself vaguely reminded of the final scenes in ‘Requiem For A Dream’ can only be a good thing.  Also, the best scene of the film is during the end credits.

Question, what has happened to the music in these films?  The soundtrack to ‘New Moon’ featured songs by great bands like Radiohead, Muse and Metric, whereas Breaking Dawn seems to rely almost entirely on generic piano tinkling.

Finally, i’ve heard a lot of criticism of the acting in these films, but I have to say with the exception of the wolfpack I don’t think they’re acted that badly at all.  Just one more to go and it’s all over.

The Town

The Town’ follows a group of bank robbers in Charlestown, a neighbourhood in Boston with one of the highest rates of armed robbery in the country.  There are some similar themes to ‘Good Will Hunting’ here, as both films focus on a talented, intelligent central character trying (after a bit of pushing) to escape the culture they grew up in.  Like ‘Good Will Hunting’ It’s also about home; the affection for the city you grow up in, the trapped feeling when it becomes too small, the irrepressible need to move on and the bonds with the people you grew up with. Affleck excels in front of the camera and behind it.  I think he has a bright future ahead of him as a director.  Having said that, at times the romance slant does feel a little contrived and the cops and robbers storyline doesn’t exactly break any new ground. I seriously need to get my hands on ‘Gone Baby Gone’.


3starSince ‘Lock Stock…’ and ‘Snatch’ i haven’t much cared for any of Guy Ritchies films, but he was the perfect man to direct this.  Robert Downey Jr. has also proved himself to be very capable of playing characters with an arrogant and slightly irritating streak (Tony Stark, Iron-Man) and slides effortlessly into the role, as does Jude Law as Watson.  The action scenes are impressive, the plot is completely ridiculous and the dialogue is fast and witty.  Entertaining nonsense.

Winter’s Bone

3.5 starA gripping ,tense and sinister mystery/drama/thriller.  Jennifer Lawrence delivers a magnificent performance as Ree, a strong and resourceful teenage girl living in a small Ozark community.  She raises her younger siblings alone, and must hunt and reluctantly accept offerings from her neighbours to put food on the table.  When she is informed that her absent drug-dealing father has put up the family house as collateral for his bail, she has to track him down or risk losing their home.  A great central performance and one of the hardest scenes to watch i’ve seen in a long time.  Occasionally it meanders, but it’s generally tense and pretty taut.

Winter's Bone

Recent Viewing


4.5starA monumental performance from F. Murray Abraham as washed-up composer Antonio Salieri, a man ravaged by jealousy and anger towards the gifted young Mozart.  He is being torn apart by his own inadequacies.  The period setting and costumes are spectacular and there’s plenty of Mozart’s music kicking about to help build the atmosphere.

 “All I wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing… and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn’t want me to praise him with music, why implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?”

Exit Through the Gift Shop

3.5 starInteresting look into the world of street art and its increasing commercialisation.  Not entirely sure whether it’s a real documentary or not, but I enjoyed it. The night shots of the artists out working on the streets were fun to watch and if you like complete imbeciles you’ll love Thierry Guetta, sorry I mean ‘Mister Brainwash’.

“Warhol repeated iconic images until they became meaningless, but there was still something iconic about them. Thierry really makes them meaningless.”


Up In The Air

3.5 starI’m not sure whether George Clooney only ever plays smug characters, or whether George Clooney is so smug that when he acts it’s impossible to disguise it.  It sounds harsh but generally I don’t enjoy watching him.  Happily though his performance in Up In the Air is an exception.  The film is funny, poignant and very well acted.  Nice final scene too.

“All the things you probably hate about travelling -the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi- are warm reminders that I’m home”

 Animal Kingdom

4 starVery impressive Australian gangster film.  James Frecheville plays Josh Cody, a teenager who finds himself at a crossroads.  Cody is caught between his criminal family and a detective (Guy Pearce) trying to get him on the right path, whilst taking down his family.  There are a couple of blood chilling performances and you’re never sure where Cody’s allegiances lie as he plays both sides.  Stylishly shot and directed, very well acted by a large ensemble cast and gripping to the last.  Take a look at the trailer below, and get it on your watchlist.

Recent Viewing

true_gritTrue Grit

3.5 star

The Coen’s never fail to write great characters (I know they didn’t create these characters but they’ve reinvented them in their own style).  Their use of language and accents has always been one of their great strengths, their characters always fit perfectly into the landscapes and surroundings of the film.   True Grit is no exception.  There’s also plenty of the Coen’s trademark humour, all the performances are strong (special mentions to Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld who is absolutely outstanding in the lead role, see the video below) and it is beautifully shot by Roger Deakins.   The only issue I had was struggling to understand Jeff bridges, genuinely could have done with subtitles at times.

 “I’m a Texas Ranger”

Troll 2

1starA catastrophic failure.  As a serious horror film, which is what it was meant to be, it is unbelievably terrible.  As an accidental comedy, a spoof even, it’s quite funny.  Unfortunately for director Drake Floyd, the hard truth is that when you’re finished film ends up working better as a spoof of what it was actually meant to be, you know something’s gone badly wrong.  If you watch it for a laugh as I did, it’s pretty entertaining.  There’s more than a hint of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace about the acting, script and special effects.  Strangely there is absolutely no mention of trolls during the film, it’s all goblin this and goblin that.

“Nilbog! It’s goblin spelled backwards! This is their kingdom!”    

Wow, someone’s seen The Shining then.


2.5starThor is comparable to most of the Marvel films i’ve seen in that it’s purely a money-making exercise with little to no substance that thinks it’s a lot funnier than it actually is.  It’s a shame because there was potential for some good comedy with Thor arriving on Earth, I suppose in a similar sort of way to Crocodile Dundee arriving in Manhattan.  There are a couple of passable action sequences and the acting is solid enough, but it’s VERY predictable.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

2.5starPretty amusing at times and George Clooney is very good as Lyn Cassidy who claims to be a former member of the New Earth Army, a special branch of the US army that specialised in using paranormal and psychic powers on missions.  I like Ewan Macgregor, but I don’t think he’s particularly good at accents, it was a little distracting.  The best moments are when it is poking fun at the paranormal believers, and satirising the army and Cold War.

“So they started doing psy-research because they thought we were doing psy-research, when in fact we weren’t doing psy-research?”

 “Yes sir. But now that they are doing psy-research, we’re gonna have to do psy-research, sir. We can’t afford to have the Russian’s leading the field in the paranormal.”


Recent Viewing

The Adjustment Bureau

2.5starStarts out promisingly by introducing a decent central character and what initially appears to be a fairly interesting concept, but by the end it has degenerated into inane drivel.  Matt Damon drags the second half of the film along with another decent performance, playing a young senator with future presidential plans.  Watchable, but Inception it is not.  On the plus side, best use of hats since Miller’s Crossing.  Is that an Oscar category these days?

Source Code

2.5starDuncan Jones follows up his hugely impressive debut ‘Moon’ with a fairly average Sci-Fi action thriller.  Think Groundhog Day but with an incapacitated Bill Murray put inside someone else’s body and with more explosions… well, the same explosion multiple times.  Leaving the cinema the guy behind me summed it up rather well when asked what he’d thought of it, replying “It was just all a bit silly really wasn’t it”.  I’m yet to be totally convinced by Jake Gyllenhaal as a leading man.  Forget this and get your hands on ‘Moon’ if you haven’t already.


3starSet in the first Lebanon war the story follows a small paratrooper squad and a single tank and its crew as they set about what should be a routine mission in  a small town.  Most of the film is set within the confines of the tank, with our only view of the outside world coming through the sight of its guns.  It’s seriously claustrophobic and for a while quite effective, but unfortunately before too long the constant grinding din of the tank trundling along and the limited scope began to frustrate me.  A decent watch but nothing special.  If you’re after a gritty, realistic war experience why not watch the real thing…


3.5 starDocumentary following a platoon of American soldiers during a tour in one of the most strategically important and dangerous valleys in Afghanistan.  A great insight into the dangers and challenges facing soldiers day in day out.  Without doubt one of the best documentaries of the last year.

X-Men First Class

3starWith the exception of Batman I haven’t much cared for any of the recent comic book films but this one managed to hold my attention, which to put it nicely is more than i can say for most of the others.  There are a couple of impressive scenes early on including the best of the film, which involves Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) looking for an ex Nazi in a small bar in Argentina.  It could almost be a deleted scene from Inglorious Basterds if it wasn’t for the Yuri Gellar style ‘powers’ on show.  Fassbender is great, McAvoy is good and the rest are fine.

Recent Viewing

The Swarm

1.5stqrThe usual summer advice of “They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them” goes out the window here as a freak swarm of really quite unusually aggressive killer African Bees descends into a quiet American town, ruining at least one family picnic in the process. Michael Caine stars in his ‘what were you thinking?’ moment. One of the best worst films you’ll see, you know the kind i mean. Love it.    

“We’ve been fighting a losing battle against the insects for fifteen years, but I never thought I’d see the final face-off in my lifetime. And I never dreamed, that it would turn out to be the bees. They’ve always been our friend. “  

Fast and Furious 5: Rio Heist

2.5starYet another fairly entertaining dose of complete and utter shite.  I’m not sure what the laws regarding plagiarism are in Hollywood, but it seemed like this was a remarkably audacious attempt to thieve as many ideas from Oceans 11 as possible.  But let’s be honest, i knew exactly what i was going to see and i quite enjoyed it.

“This shit just went from mission:impossible to mission: in freaking sanity! “…great stuff.

Black Dynamite

2 starI was excited about this one having heard a lot of good things, it sounded like my type of film.  Unfortunately it just wasn’t very funny or particularly original.  The poorly made and dubbed 70s spoof has been done far better in the past, for example on ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’.  I think I laughed out loud twice.  

“Your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrification is only outmatched by your zest for kung-fu treachery!”

The Lives Of Others

4.5starA great film about the extent of state surveillance and control/censorship of the arts  in East Germany in the early 1980s, with one of the best closing lines of all time.  I can’t recommend this one highly enough.  Luckily the Hollywood remake that was set to star Nicholas Cage seems to have been scrapped.  Take a look at the trailer below.

“It’s for me”


4 starA dark, atmospheric Japanese revenge film featuring music from Radiohead.  If you’re a fan of Chan-wook Parks revenge trilogy (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and Sympathy For Mr Vengeance) the chances are you’ll love this.  In my opinion this film is every bit as good as each part of Parks trilogy.  Brilliantly acted, beautifully shot  and totally absorbing, it really is a wonderful film.  Hollywood will be all over this for a remake.  Be warned, it really is relentlessly bleak.

Four Lions

3.5 starA comedy about four incompetent suicide bombers plotting to attack the London marathon…. Chris Morris was one of very few people who could have pulled this one off.  If he hadn’t managed to find the perfect balance and tone it would have been a total disaster.  I’m a huge fan of  Chris Morris and his previous work and Four Lions didn’t disappoint.  Great one-liners, sharp satire and a few things we haven’t seen in Morris’s work before… relationships, tenderness and heart.

“He’ll be in heaven before his head hits the ceiling!”   

“I got hostages and everything…like XBOX’s counterstrike!”


Recent Viewing

The Illusionist

3starFirst 30 minutes, great.  Last 30 minutes, great.  Unfortunately in between it all got a little rambly, slow and repetitive.  The animation was impressive and it was fun seeing my home city in animated form, but if I hadn’t had that novelty aspect of seeing places I recognised every few minutes (including inside the very screen where I was watching the film) the middle section would have felt even flatter.  I have to admit though it did make me choke up when it was supposed to, and the last 5-10 minutes were very powerful.  The final shot of the lights literally going out on dancehall, was perfect.

p.s this is the Sylvain Chomet animated illusionist from this year, not  Ed Norton getting one over Austrian  royalty.

The Social Network

4.5starI’m sure there were plenty of groans when it was announced that a film about the rise of Facebook was being released… but what a film it is.   David Fincher is back to his best after a mare with Benjamin Button.  Strong performances all round, a great script  and surprisingly funny.   The scene depicting Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker in the nightclub sticks in my mind as being particularly impressive.  I have this down as the best new release (and the best trailer) I’ve seen this year.


4 starMore than just a throwaway teen comedy.  The film strikes a great balance between comedy and drama throughout and at no point does it lose its way.  Eisenberg (doing his usual)  is perfect for the lead role and no matter what you think about Twilight, given a bit of decent script Kristen Stewart does play the troubled teenager role very well here.  This could so easily have been just a silly teen comedy set in a theme park, but it’s much more.   In fact I would even go as far as to say there was something a bit special about it, the way it perfectly captures what a pre university summer spent working any old job is like.   I’m only 25 but this is the first film that has ever made me feel nostalgic….An interesting story, good performances and plenty of comedy.

“Yet he still retains his chapeau!”

The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford


4.5starWell I’m not entirely sure how this one crept under my radar for so long.  I’ve never heard anyone I know recommend this film or even mention it in passing.  The best collection of performances in a single film I’ve seen for quite a while.  Brad Pitt is better than I’ve ever seen before and Sam Rockwell along with the rest of the cast is superb, but it’s Casey Affleck who steals the show as the thoroughly pathetic and unpleasant Robert Ford in one of the best performances of recent years.  Totally underrated.

District 9

2.5starI don’t think I’ve ever been so out of kilter with the general public feeling about a film before.  I thought it was at best average.  The political messages were too obvious to have any punch, the main character seriously grated and the CGI prawns really didn’t look particularly impressive to me.  The most disappointing cinema visit of the year.  Having said that it was certainly an original take on the alien genre and was fairly well thought out.

Sin Nombre

2.5starNot a bad film by any stretch, just very, very grim.  Almost everyone dies and i’m struggling to remember a single moment of hapiness.  Now i’m all for sad films, but even something like Requiem for a Dream has moments of hapiness within it, it kind of helps you connect with the characters. It’s a good basis for a story but it felt slightly simple, shallow and was just too downbeat.  Forgettable, I was expecting more.


2.5starYes, yes I’ve been on a bit of an Eisenberg binge.  Some funny moments and plenty of enjoyable zombie bashing, but no Shaun of the Dead.

“wow, you almost knocked over your alcohol with your knife”

Mr Nice

2 starBleh… With such an extraordinary life to dramatize this really should have been much, much better.  I really have almost nothing to say about it…. hmm… The ‘stylish’ shots of a superimposed Rhys Ifans walking about on 70s streets were awful. The rest was very average.