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"A Field In England" Is Pretentious Tripe... [24 Apr 2014|08:59pm]


A Field in England (2013)

Three strikes and you are OUT Mr. Wheatley!

I've been consistently recommended Ben Wheatley's films and each time I keep thinking that the NEXT one will be the one which I finally enjoy. Well that ends RIGHT NOW.

His first film, "Kill List" came highly recommended by the critic Mark Kermode. Kermode doesn't always make the most fantastic choices, but it's generally fairly wise to give some of his obscure recommendations a shot. "Kill List" had a dark atmosphere and a very down-to-earth horrifying feel, but the ending was ludicrous and felt like a complete anti-climax.

Click here to read my full review
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Extra-Secret Service [23 Apr 2014|10:21pm]

[ mood | bouncy ]

I've posted a review of the movie In the Line of Fire over at my journal.

Review here:

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Captain America 2 & Amazing Spiderman 2 [23 Apr 2014|10:03pm]

[ mood | awake ]

Just two put my tuppence worth in...

Captain America 2:

I never really had a lot of time for Captain America when I was a regular comic reader. I found the first film to be fun, but nothing that particularly rocked my world. My liking for the character improved with 'The Avengers' - and has done so again with this new movie. The origin stuff is mostly out of the way now, which always helps in this genre and I'm starting to appreciate Cap as a different type of Superhero film - more akin to secret agent/spy than super powered crime fighter. The action sequences reminded me quite a bit of the Bourne movies and the gadgets quite a bit of the older Bond films. The presence of S.H.E.I.L.D. also lends prominence to the whole spy vibe - and I'm quietly digging it.

Amazing Spiderman 2:

I saw this last night in IMAX and before I comment on the film itself I have to say THAT REALLY WORKED FOR ME. The special effects could not have had a better show case.
So, in context - I liked the Raimi Spiderman films overall (though like many I was disappointed with the last one). I liked the first Amazing Spiderman, despite mentally comparing it to the Raimi films all the time during my first viewing. I didn't want a franchise relaunch - I would have been quite happy with a Spiderman 4 (even if cast and director changed) but I liked what the new team had done. The second film is a little bit more mixed. The effects are stunning and I really like what they did with villain fan-favourite electro (and Rhino for that matter!). There is lots to like, but Im going to talk more about what I didn't like...

The pacing is uneven, partially because there is so much character back story to wade through here. Much of this back story is so intricately linked that Amazing Spiderman world has now become incredibly small and incestuous. Peter Parker's parents? Worked for Oscorp. His girlfriend? Oscorp. The main baddie from the first film? Oscorp. Best mate from school and now nemesis? Oscorp. Main baddie from this film? Oscorp. Cameo Baddie from this film? Oscorp. Mental hospital containing possibly all of the future baddies? Oscorp. Weapons tech that will possibly equip all of the future baddies (Dr Octopus & The Vulture already hinted at)? Oscorp. Does the world need to be that small? Add to that the the Green Goblin origins are now linked even more closely to Spiderman and his missing/dead parents and the world has become quite claustrophobic. Cramming in the explanations for all of this, as well as a sometimes faltering love story, the angst of Parker/Spiderman about him putting his loved ones in danger and everything else that is in the film and you can begin to see why sometimes it felt that the story wasn't moving FORWARD at any great pace. Obviously there is a need to balance the action but Im not sure that the balance was properly struck here.
It may be that the film is stuck a little bit, carrying the transition between the first (re)introduction story and whatever follows in later films. That being said there was still an awful lot to enjoy so I don't want to be too critical. As much as I loved seeing it in the imax format I wonder if this film may be better enjoyed at home where you can get up and make a cup of coffee or whatever and take it at your own pace. In the cinema I was looking at my watch quite a lot towards the end. Bring on the dvd - and the the third film. Time will be the judge.

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"REAP THE WILD WIND" (1942) Review [21 Apr 2014|08:38pm]


"REAP THE WILD WIND" (1942) Review

I wrote this REVIEW of "REAP THE WILD WIND", the 1942 adaptation of Thelma Strabel's 1940 novel. Produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the movie starred Ray Milland, John Wayne and Paulette Goddard.
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"The Double" Is An Exceptional Film - Gorgeous, Intense And Hilarious [21 Apr 2014|01:18pm]


The Double (2014)

This is the second film to be directed by Richard Ayodade, who is probably most well known for his role as Morris Moss the hilarious geek from "The IT Crowd". His first film "Submarine" was a somewhat darkly comic coming-of-age film. As a follow-up "The Double" is also darkly comic, but with rather higher aspirations since it is based on Dostoyevsky's novel (of the same name).

"The Double" is the sort of comedy where a character works in a boring job, lives in a cramped flat, and where a large number of people are committing suicide. This is not a laugh-a-minute kind of comedy, but at sometimes the surrealism of the film is very funny and on occasion there really are lines that are hysterical. Like with the Coen Brothers' "A Serious Man", the majority of the jokes are at the protagonist's expense, so there's the same balance between empathy for the protagonist and hilarity at his misfortunes. All the while with a sinister setting in the background.

Right from the start, "The Double" is beautiful. In the very first scene we see the light dancing around as Jesse Eisenberg is sitting on a train. The lighting effect makes this grimy and plain setting look absolutely beautiful and the film looks similarly bland or grimy and yet beautiful all the way through the film.

Click here to read the read of my review of "The Double"...
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"The Exorcist" Is Worth Watching As A Classic, Even If It Hasn't Aged Well.... [18 Apr 2014|11:40pm]


The Exorcist (1973)

In light of my recent dissatisfaction with the box office smash hit horror movie "The Conjuring" I decided to go back to the source. The granddaddy of all exorcism movies: "The Exorcist".

Recently a number of films have tried to revisit this genre including: The Rite (seemingly promoting a rise in Catholic exorcisms under Pope Benedict), The Possession (involving a Jewish exorcist) and the tv series "Apparitions" (involving a quite liberal priest in a larger-than-life story written by an atheist who's done their research).

I considered including The Exorcist in a list of films involving a fear of children. However, I'm not sure this film fits on the list. The child is always posed very much as a victim. The religious view being that the child is subject to a demon possession. The sceptical position being that time kind of issue with the brain or psychological issue is causing her to act in a bizarre and hostile way.

Click here to read the rest of my review of "The Exorcist"...
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"Good Vibrations" Is A Better-Than-Average Biopic With A So-Crazy-It-Must-Be-True Story... [18 Apr 2014|01:02pm]


Good Vibrations (2012)

I was a little worried when this seemed to be trying to be quirky at the beginning. There's a strange little sequence to indicate that our protagonist lost an eye when he was younger and an insistance that he will see the world differently as a result. (Actually missing an eye means that, through that eye at least, you won't be seeing anything. But let's move on.)

This is a film based on real life and our protagonist is Terri Hooley who ended up being a really important figure in the music scene in Ireland at the height of 'the troubles'.

The situation in Ireland seems to be very easy to misrepresent on film, so it was good here to see people with a real handle on how things actually worked. (As much as I love the series "Burn Notice" the episode where Fiona meets back up with one of her old IRA pals was pretty cringeworthy. The writers seemed to have absolutely no conception of how horrible the situation in Ireland really was and wanted to make it a matter of 'good guys' and 'bad guys' rather than a horrifying mess.)

Terri (played by Richard Dormer) finds that his friends get pulled into either side of the conflict in Northern Ireland and he generally finds that he's too left-wing for either of them, making things pretty dangerous. Early in the film he falls in love with Ruth (played by Jodie Whittaker from "Attack The Block" and "Venus"), but Terri decides that they are not going to leave Belfast. They are not going to let the violence stop them.

Click here to read the rest of the review...
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The Great Mouse Detective (1986) [17 Apr 2014|09:27am]

[ mood | contemplative ]

Yesterday I watched the Great Mouse Detective on dvd and thought Is this really a G rated film? 

Look under the cut to see what I mean..Collapse )
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Dazed and Bemused [16 Apr 2014|11:10pm]

[ mood | hungry ]

I've posted a review of the 1947 Joan Crawford movie Possessed over at my journal.


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"The Nanny", The Final Black And White Hammer Horror Film, Is Particularly Dark And A Real Classic [16 Apr 2014|09:48pm]


The Nanny (1965)

A later Bette Davis performance. A child comes home from a special school intended to sort out his poor behaviour. In the house the boy's mother seems highly reliant on the nanny and she's seen more like part of the family than as a paid assistant, but the boy himself is rude to her and refuses to have anything to do with her.

The central child actor is brilliant and the interplay between him and the excellent Bette Davis is wonderful. The film very cleverly teases out all the details of their odd rivalry and there are actually some quite twisted moments.

Click here for the rest of the review...
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"DIRTY DEEDS" (2002) Review [15 Apr 2014|08:19pm]


"DIRTY DEEDS" (2002) Review

I wrote this REVIEW of the 2002 film, "DIRTY DEEDS". Written and directed by David Caesar, the movie starred Bryan Brown, John Goodman, Toni Collette and Sam Worthington.
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The Writing On the Wall [15 Apr 2014|05:56pm]

[ mood | rushed ]

I've posted a review of the film noir/melodrama The Letter over at my journal as part of the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.


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The John Hughes Directorial Retrospective: Part Two [15 Apr 2014|12:25pm]

Three more films in my John Hughes retrospective. I've been working backwards from John Hughes' final directing credit "Curly Sue" to his directorial début "Sixteen Candles". So far I reviewed "Curly Sue", "Uncle Buck" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" in the first instalment which you can find here. Below I review "She's Having A Baby", "Weird Science" and "The Breakfast Club".

In my reverse retrospective, "She's Having A Baby" should have come after "Uncle Buck". However, in desperation I jumped straight into "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" - with unfortunate results. So having received my worst John Hughes experience of all time from the movie enjoyed by 47 out of 50 reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes (94%), I figured that "She's Having A Baby", with a score of 48% was unlikely to be any worse.

She's Having A Baby (1988)

There was brief ray of hope in the opening scenes of this movie when it had a sort of Coen Brothers, black comedy feel to it. Our central protagonists are about to get married and their extended families on either side of the Church are utterly unimpressed by the pairing and often badmouthing the other family.

Click here to read the rest of my review of "She's Having a Baby"...

I was trepidatious about revisiting this one. This retrospective hasn't been fantastic, I didn't remember this film being the best thing ever and had every expectation that, in the light of Hughes other films, it would turn out to be awful. But I decided to trust my 14 year old self that this would be a lot more fun than the last few John Hughes films.

Weird Science (1985)

The premise of this movie initially sounds appalling. A couple of teenage losers who cannot seem to get a girlfriend decide to use their computer and make themselves a woman. But you have to realise that it is very much an accident that they are successful. It's more of a computer-centred ritual rather than an engineering job, with cultish behaviour like wearing bras on their heads playing a part. The woman they create appears to have magic powers and in the end of the end this is like a modern story about a genie granting wishes.

Click here to read the rest of my review of "Weird Science"...

So, with my faith in Hughes mostly restored, it was now time to check out his most highly acclaimed film: "The Breakfast Club". I knew nothing about what to expect. All I knew was that it was supposed to be the big highlight of this retrospective.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

It did not take long for me to start hating this film. It doesn't seem like a great decision to put your moral in voiceover narration at the title credits, but I suppose the point was that we were supposed to recognise the clichés that are listed in the characters. The initial narration tells the teacher not to judge his pupils in simple pigeon-holed stereotypes which are listed as: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.

Click here to read the rest of my review of "The Breakfast Club"...
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The Returned [15 Apr 2014|01:04am]

[ mood | awake ]

The Returned is one of the rare 'serious' zombie films you sometimes find and its pretty well put together. The zombies is this are 'infected' rather than undead and the story is set in a world where some years after an initial outbreak (now contained) some of the infected people are being treated with a protein-medication. As long as those that are infected continue to take the medication the remain fully functioning people but even one missed dose results in them turning into a rage-zombie and going on a biting spree.
The 'serious' part of the film looks at the way society treats the infected people or 'The Returned' as they are dubbed. They are often shunned, feared and vulnerable to attack from hate groups. As supplies of the drugs run low the tension rises. The Returned (and their loved ones) become increasingly desperate to get hold of the dwindling supplies and much of the rest of the world becomes increasingly fearful and aggressive towards them. The one thing these films have in common with the Romero style zombie films is the notion that what people will do to each other in a crisis situation is often worse that what 'zombies' will do.
Its well scripted and performed with some genuine tension and like the best zombie films works well both as a story and allegory.

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German Expressionist India...Now THAT Would Have Been Something [14 Apr 2014|12:04am]

[ mood | thirsty ]

I've posted a review of Fritz Lang's Indian Epic (aka The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb) over at my journal.


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"Amazing Spider-Man" Is Still The Only Superhero Franchise With A Compelling Central Romance... [12 Apr 2014|10:50pm]


The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I haven't found many people who shared my love for the first of the Amazing Spider-Man films. I actually said at the time that I preferred it to "Avengers Assemble" and I continue to hold that opinion. I think part of the appeal is that I was a fan of the Spider-Man comics in my teens and it was great to finally see the character properly realised on the big screen. (I've never really thought that the character played by Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi's films had much resemblance to Peter Parker.) The first Amazing Spider-Man film was laugh-out-loud funny, well choreographed, emotionally touching and a major selling point was the fantastic chemistry between Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey. It was an absolute delight for me.

So with that in mind, it should come as little surprise that I didn't think this second Spider-Man movie was as good. While the studios have clear plans for the series to go on forever, the director Marc Webb has a trilogy of movies in mind before he passes the reins to a new director and this feels very much like an awkward middle-child of a trilogy.

But I should make clear right now that all the elements within the movie are brilliant. While comedy isn't the main focus and I didn't think this was quite as funny as the first film, there were points where I laughed out loud. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is still smoking hot and now that Peter Parker is less awkward in the relationship, he's able to be extremely charming. Some of the funniest moments actually involve their realistic interactions as a couple. A major strength of this superhero franchise over any other is definitely that it is the only one where the love interest is a highlight rather than an obligatory extra.

Click here to read the rest of my review...
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Spanish Werewolf Movie Is Desperate To Be Funny, But Lacks A Sense Of Timing... [12 Apr 2014|11:49am]


I'd received a pretty strong recommendation for this from the horror movie blog "John Of The Dead". I don't always agree with "John Of The Dead", but he gives some pretty interesting recommendations. I'd probably never have watched the "Death Note" movies if it weren't for this blog.

One thing that made me want to see this movie was, as far as I could tell, a spoiler for a rather cool gag. The following image is on John of the Dead's review.

Click here for the rest of my review...
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"The Conjuring" Is Hilariously Bad... [09 Apr 2014|11:43pm]

My reaction to "The Conjuring" was pretty predictable. I hate most ghost movies (a notable exception being Ti West's "The Innkeepers") and I dislike movies filled with jump scares where the main focus is on startling the audience rather than building up a genuine atmosphere.

Still, I heard a lot of people praising "The Conjuring" which made me wonder whether there might be more to it. In actual fact, the real life story of the frauds perpetrated by the Warrens actually made me even more interested to check out the film. Films are all about suspending disbelief and I had no doubt that a really great horror movie could come from a ridiculously overblown version of the Warrens' antics.

While it will come as no surprise to hear that I didn't like "The Conjuring", my specific reaction seems rather atypical even amongst the films detractors. You see, this film begins by telling the story of a doll called Anabelle. The doll has been inhabited by some kind of spirit and it scares inhabitants of the flat by appearing in random locations and writing creepy words on the walls in red crayon.

I was immediately reminded of Child's Play, except that I had never found the bare-bones premise of the possessed doll quite as funny as I did here. I couldn't help myself. I completely cracked up. It didn't help that the young women in the flat had completely failed to consider, say, throwing the dol in the trash. Nor did they ever seem to consider the possibility that their flat might have been broken into or that someone was playing a prank on them. However, they DO decide to consult a medium (long before they get around to contacting the Warrens). The characters completely freaking out because a doll is sitting not moving IN THE WRONG PLACE. What's more when they gasp at the presence of red crayons NEXT TO THE DOLL'S HANDS. And the dramatic horror-movie music is not helping me to take things seriously either.

Click here to read the rest of the review...
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