Saturday, 3 December 2011

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)














Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Steve James
Released: 28th November 2011 (DVD)
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga tells the story of the village of Bakhtia, on the river Yenisei, in the Siberian Taiga.  It mainly centres on a year in the life of one hunter (trapper) and how he manages to survive and bring in money throughout the year for his family.

Directed by Dmitry Vasyukov and written by Werner Herzog and son Rudolph Herzog, this is a straightforward documentary, but so effectively shows the lives of these simple people.  The style of film making and subjects being filmed go hand in hand and is great at showing us the lives of these truly stoic people.

The narration starts in spring and takes the viewer on a journey through all of the seasons and how the trappers have adapted to each time of year.  We follow one trapper, who is leaving the village, of around 300 inhabitants, to head into the wilderness to set up traps and base camps for the following winter.  He takes all his equipment with him and what he doesn’t have to hand, he will have to make over the coming months.  The only company he has is his hunting dog, which helps with catching some of the smaller animals and I’m sure is also there to stop the hunters from going insane on their own.

To read the rest of the review, please head over to Flick Feast, by clicking here...

Monday, 21 November 2011

Films: Marley & Me: The Puppy Years


















Marley & Me: The Puppy Years
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Michael Damian
Released: 14th November 2011 (DVD & Blu)
Popcorns: 0.5/5

Wow!  Does anyone have a hot poker to hand, so I can poke my eyes out with it?  I cannot un-see what I’ve just seen! To prove I actually sat down and watched this drivel for the sake of a review, I will recite some of the story, thus:

The credits at the start have lots of cute pictures of Labradors, presumably just to get the viewer in the mood for what’s to come.  As I’m already bored by these pictures, I begin to read the credit and the words “and Grayson Russell as the voice of Marley” pop up on the screen.  Wait one doggone minute!  I thought Marley was a dog??  Okay, I’ll stick with it…

The basic story is that Marley is still a puppy and he has been entrusted to John and Jennifer Grogan’s nephew, Bodie (stupid name), while they are off ‘somewhere’ for the whole summer.  If you ask me, this is a little irresponsible to get a puppy and then go straight on holiday.  That poor dog is going to be so confused as to who its owners are.  Also, I feel a bit cheated that this was never mentioned in the first Marley & Me movie.  A whole summer is a big part of a puppy’s life, especially with all the shenanigans he gets up to.

If you want to check out the rest of the review, click here...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Films: Beautiful Lies (2010)


















Beautiful Lies
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Pierre Salvadori
Released: 7th November 2011 (DVD)
Popcorns: 4/5

In Beautiful Lies, Audrey Tautou plays Emilie (an homage to Amelie, or just a coincidence?).  She is a hairdresser with her own business, which she co-owns with her friend Sylvia.  Jean (Bouajila) is the unassuming handy man for the salon, who admires Emilie from afar, but would never admit his devotion to her.

One evening, he plucks up the courage to write her an anonymous letter, professing his love and how heart broken he is that he will never be able to possess her as his own.  Emilie (thinking it is a letter from the old man next door) dismisses this without a second thought and throws it in the bin, much to the disappointment of Jean.

We learn that Emilie’s mother, Maddy (Baye), is still lamenting the fact that her husband left her for a younger woman and she is no longer his muse.  This is depressing Emilie no end and she would like nothing more than her mother to be happy again.  She fishes the letter out of the bin and copies it word for word before sending it on to her mother as a faux anonymous lover.  What follows is a woven web of lies, mistaken identity and good intensions that see poor Jean stuck in the middle pretending to be the mysterious lover of Maddy, rather than that of her daughter.

To read the rest of the review, please head over to Flick Feast by clicking here...

Films: One from the Heart (1982)


















One from the Heart
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Released: 7th November 2011 (DVD)
Popcorns: 4.5/5

One from the Heart is primarily a love story about a couple, Hank (Forrest) and Frannie (Garr), who are going through a rough patch in their relationship and both are looking for a little more out of life.

There is a great opening title sequence, with the camera flying around all of the famous Las Vegas hotels and landmarks, all scaled down to miniatures.  This is accompanied by Tom Waits’ amazing score and we can tell from the beginning that this isn’t going to be a conventional love story.

From the very start, Coppola really captures the glitz and glamour of Vegas and we join Hank and Frannie in their modest house.  Frannie is getting ready for a night out on the tiles and Hank is cooking her a meal for their fifth anniversary.  Wires are crossed and an argument ensues because Hank wants to stay in and Frannie wants a bit of adventure and fun.  They’re the typical couple after five years of being together.  He has lost his physique and she doesn’t bother shaving her legs anymore.  They are Mr. and Mrs. Average, who are striving for a little bit of excitement to spice things up.  Both have fiery tempers, so during the argument, the relationship is announced as being ‘over’ and they stop at each of their best friend’s houses to cool down.

To read the rest of the review, please head over to Flick Feast by clicking here...

Films: Alice Through the Looking Glass


















Alice Through the Looking Glass

Reviewer: Wally
Director: John Henderson
Released: 7th November 2011
Popcorns: 3/5

Alice Through the Looking Glass is a made for TV movie, which was premiered on Boxing Day in 1998.  It is most definitely a sit in front of the television and stuff your face with turkey sandwiches kind of film.  With an exceptional, all star cast, consisting of Kate Beckinsale, Ian Holm, Steve Coogan, Penelope Wilson and Geoffrey Palmer, to name but a few, I was most definitely looking forward to watching this DVD.

The movie begins with Alice (Beckinsale) reading a story to her little girl called “Through the Looking Glass”.  Much to the annoyance of the child, her mother keeps dozing off and messing up the storytelling.  She says there is a room behind the mirror in the bedroom and Alice imagines herself in the other room.  In a flash, she is on the other side of the mirror and into the ‘looking glass’ world.  It’s a very quick start to the story, but executed well enough not to bore any children with a big introduction.

When Alice gets into the other world, it gets extremely bizarre, but intentionally so and seems to follow Lewis Carol’s book quite closely.  It’s difficult to explain the story, but basically, she signs on to be one of the White Queen’s pawns on a huge chess set and when she gets to the eighth square, she will become a queen.  Alice doesn’t seem at all phased by this and heads off to work her way through the different squares; each of which has its on little microcosm.

There are some great supporting performances from the likes of Steve Coogan, who plays a Gnat, with some very imaginative ‘insects’ around him.  The Snap Dragon Fly has the body of a Cornish pasty, wings made of holly leaves and a head of a raisin, burning in brandy.
Gary Olsen and Marc Warren as Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum were brilliant and really captured the craziness of these two characters.  Ian Holm as the White Knight also adds a great depth to the story.  I absolutely loved the deadpan acting, with such silly themes and tones.
John Henderson took the reigns at directing and he is very adept at this kind of thing, as he has worked on many TV series and TV movies in the past. The screenplay was written by Nick Vivian, who has also had his hand in many other TV writing ventures and with a source material as sound as Lewis Carol’s, then it’d be a tough job to mess it up.  There are around six different adaptations of this story, but I really think this one stands out quite well.  The scenery is great and they have done a good job with such a small budget with the elaborate costumes and hair style changes.

More TV movies are becoming readily available on DVD and this is great news for people who have been waiting around for years to see them again.  It’s not a bad transfer to DVD, but there are no extras, which you would expect for a TV movie.

Alice through the Looking Glass is a leave your brain at the door family film and it’s so mad that I found myself really enjoying it and wondering what crazy world Alice will stumble into in the next square of the chess board.  It’s a little predictable in parts, but what TV movie isn’t? 
It is released on DVD by Second Sight Films on 7th November 2011 and would make a great family Christmas present.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Films: Machine Gun Preacher


















Machine Gun Preacher
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Marc Forster
Released: 2nd November 2011
Popcorns: 2.5/5

The true story of Sam Childers, who changed from a drug-dealing biker to a God-loving campaigner for Sudanese orphans forced into a life of slavery and war. 

We join Sam Childers (Butler) as he leaves prison and goes straight back into his old life of crime, drinking, wife abuse and drugs. After a particularly violent episode, he is brought down to earth with a thud and realizes that things have to change. He is convinced that he should follow in the footsteps of his wife, Lynn (Monaghan), and turn to God for forgiveness.

Childers is welcomed into the church with open arms. He takes to it like a duck to water and wants to help out in any way possible to help clear his mind and free himself from his previous sins. Whilst out on a trip to build a church in North Africa, he becomes friendly with one of the guards and asks to be shown more of the country. He sees the horrors of war and the effect it is having on the Sudanese people and their children.

To read the rest of the of the review, please head over to Lost in the Multiplex...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Films: The Conversation


















The Conversation
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Released: 31st October 2011 (DVD & Blu)
Popcorns: 4/5

The Conversation starts slowly, with the audience not really sure about what is happening.  We slowly realise that the couple we can see walking about are being monitored by a group of men who seem to be following their every move.  It is only when Harry Caul (Hackman) jumps in the back of a clapped out old van that we realise this is old school surveillance.

We then jump to Harry’s work space; an open and somewhat deserted warehouse, maybe a reflection of his personality, as he seems to like to distance himself from people, something that is confirmed in a scene with him and his lover.

To read the rest of the review, please head over to Flick Feast by clicking here...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Films: Angels of Evil



















Angels of Evil
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Michele Placido
Released: 24th October 2011 (DVD & Blu)
Popcorns: 3/5

Angels of Evil is the biographical true story of Italy’s most notorious gangster and Milanese bank robber, Renato Vallanzasca.

The movie starts in 1981 in a maximum security prison, where Renato Vallanzasca (Kim Rossi Stuart) rules the roost. He strolls around his dirty prison cell in his pants and gets served a bowl of filthy looking rice with a cockroach crawling around in it. From scene one, we can tell this isn’t going to be a pretty looking film. Whilst beating up prison guards, we hear his voiceover saying he ‘never could stand bullies’ and because of this, his first job was freeing circus animals from their cages.

He got into crime from an early age, stealing heaters and other electrical equipment to sell on. Because of his downright thuggery, he gets sent to a juvenile detention centre, where he eventually becomes the “boss of the Comasina”, which is a district in Milan.

To read the rest of the review, head over to Flick Feast, by clicking here...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Films: Santa Who?


















Santa Who?
Reviewer: Wally
Director: William Dear
Released: 24th October 2011
Popcorns: 2.5/5

Santa Claus suffers a spell of amnesia after falling to earth from his sleigh. A small child is his only hope of regaining his memory and saving Christmas.

Santa Who? begins with little Peter Albright in an orphanage writing out his Christmas letter to Santa. All he wants for Christmas is to be with a family who loves him. He finds out that his father thinks it’ll be best for Peter to stay in the orphanage forever. The letter is thrown onto the fire and magical sparkles travel up the chimney.

Cut to twenty five years later and Peter (Steven Eckholdt) is walking around town interviewing people for channel 12 news. Everyone is going absolutely nuts over their Christmas shopping and ignoring the poor guy. He just can’t get a break.

If you'd like to read the rest of this premature festive review, please click here to head over to Flick Feast...

Films: Holy Rollers


















Holy Rollers
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Kevin Asch
Released: 24th October 2011
Popcorns: 3/5

Holy Rollers is a biographical crime drama set in Brooklyn and inspired by true events. A young Orthodox Jew is enticed into the world of drug smuggling by his neighbour, who has connections with an Israeli drug lord.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Sam Gold, a young Hasidic Jew living in a Jewish community in Brooklyn with his family. He works in his father’s dress making shop and has his whole life planned out for him. He will be married off to a girl he’s hardly ever talked to and is set to become a Rabbi.

Sam has grown up in a stereotypical, poor New York Jewish family, with lots of ‘shaloms’ and ‘chutzpahs’ and they are in the process of celebrating Hanukah. Eisenberg plays Sam in a very recognisable format, giving him a socially awkward charm, with a head for business (sound familiar?). It’s definitely not a far stretch from his characters in Zombieland, The Social Network and Adventureland, in the way he portrays Sam.

If you want to read the rest of this review, please click here to head over to Flick Feast...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

News: The Bunny Game BBFC Ban











I’m sorry, have I been transported back to the 80s? The BBFC are at it again and have banned another movie.  This time it’s The Bunny Game and the trailer can be viewed here if you are curious.  I must warn that even the trailer is a little explicit and contains mucho nudity, so tread carefully.
The basic premise, as described on IMDB is, ‘A prostitute looking for her next meal hitches a ride with a trucker that leaves her praying for her next breath.’ 
Starring Rodleen Getsic, Norwood Fisher and Gregg Gilmore, The Bunny Game looks like it has taken ‘torture porn’ to the next level and beyond.
This is director Adam Rehmeier’s first feature length movie and it’s already shrouded in controversy.  I’m sure he couldn’t have wished for any more publicity.

The BBFC put out a statement saying: “The principal focus of The Bunny Game is the unremitting sexual and physical abuse of a helpless woman, as well as the sadistic and sexual pleasure the man derives from this.”
Rehmeier counteracted with: "Rodleen and I didn't make 'The Bunny Game' to glamorise prostitution. It is far from an erotic film. It is a modern cautionary tale grounded in reality."

What with Human Centipede 2 being initially banned and then released with cuts, there seems to be a bit of a hark back to the 80s going on and a new wave in video nasties.
The BBFC director, David Cooke added his comments too, “It is the Board’s carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and would accordingly be unacceptable to the public.”
So, even with cuts, this may not get a release at all. The film really doesn’t look good in any way, but the banning of it will just make people want to get hold of it more to see what the deal is.  People will still get their hands on it, whether it’s banned or not.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Films: Last Night


















Last Night
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Massy Tadjedin
Released: 17th October 2011
Popcorns: 3.5/5

Last Night follows a married couple and the events of a single night apart. Michael, the husband, is on a business trip to Philadelphia with a colleague who he finds incredibly attractive. Joanna, his wife, encounters her ex-lover and they both have to fight with temptation for one night.

This is the directorial debut of writer Massy Tadjedin and a great one at that. Tadjedin is best known for writing the screenplays for The Jacket and Leo and has finally decided to take a shot at directing one of her stories. Starring Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet, it has a top level cast, so it’s a wonder why this romantic drama only got a limited cinema release back in June.

To check out the rest of the review, please click here...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Films: Everything Must Go


















Everything Must Go
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Dan Rush
Released: 14th October 2011
Popcorns: 3/5

When an alcoholic relapses, causing him to lose his wife and his job, he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. A new neighbor might be the key to his return to form. 

Everything must go was written and directed by Dan Rush, adapted from Raymond Carver’s short story ‘Why Don’t You Dance?’ It's Rush’s first shot at directing a feature and it’s impressive that he’s secured such a high profile Hollywood star in Ferrell. It’s a deliberately paced movie and a pleasant change from the star's zanier outings. It is certainly no Anchor Man, Elf or Step Brothers and even though it’s marketed as a drama/comedy, there aren’t many laughs. It also stars Rebecca Hall as the concerned pregnant neighbour and Christopher CJ Wallace (Notorious B.I.G’s son) as the kid who helps him get his life back on track.

To read the rest of the review, over at Lost in the Multiplex, click here...

Films: Real Steel

 
















Real Steel
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Shawn Levy
Released: 14th October 2011
Popcorns: 4/5

Set in the near future, where robot boxing is a top sport, a struggling promoter feels he's found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father. 

Real Steel is Dreamworks’ latest outing and I'll start off by saying that my expectations were low.  Imagine my surprise when it actually turned out to be a pretty decent movie.
The premise is generic. Set in the not too distant future, Charlie Kenton (Jackman) is a washed up boxer, now specialising in the world of Robot Boxing. He discovers that his ex-partner has passed away and left behind his estranged 11 year old son, Max (Goyo). Charlie and Max team up for a few weeks before full custody is handed over to his aunt, and they discover an old sparring robot in the scrap yard. Max believes it could be a champion.

To read the rest of the review, over at Lost in the Multiplex, click here...

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Films: Soul Surfer


















Soul Surfer
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Sean McNamara
Released: 23rd September 2011
Popcorns: 3/5

Lost in the Multiplex have put up my review of Soul Surfer...

Soul Surfer is the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a semi-pro surfer, on the verge of making it into the professional circuit. She gets close until disaster strikes - a shark takes a bite out of her and tears off her left arm. It’s a tale of overcoming the odds to prove that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

If you want to check out the rest of the review, click here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Films: 30 Minutes or Less



















30 Minutes or Less
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Released: 16th September 2011
Rating: 15
Popcorns: 2.5/5

Two fledgling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery guy, strap a bomb to his chest, and inform him that he has mere hours to rob a bank or else...

After watching the trailer about four times before I went to see 30 Minutes or Less, I was pretty pumped going in, expecting a lot of laughs and great acting. I got neither!

The movie focuses on two roommates, Eisenberg and Ansari, going through a tough time in their relationship and two self confessed “entrepreneurials”, played by Danny McBride and Nick Swardson, who are actually just idiots that listen to ICP and think up mad schemes to make a quick buck.

Their latest idea consists of kidnapping someone to rob a bank, to get $100,000 to hire a hitman to kill Dwayne’s father, who has about $1,000,000 left of his lottery winnings, which would then go to Dwayne.
The aforementioned kidnapee is Nick, a pizza delivery guy out for an easy life and in love with his best friend Chet’s sister. I’m really not giving anything away by saying that he gets a bomb strapped to him by Dwayne and Travis and is forced to rob a bank to help them on their way in their master plan.

As you can probably tell from my summary, the storyline is absolutely all over the place and this really does reflect in the script. The best lines have been given to Aziz Ansari, who seems to deliver them by just shouting at people when he’s supposed to be saying something funny. I’m not sure how this guy keeps getting cast in things?!
Another point that needs to be addressed is how on earth are these baffoons smart enough to make such a complex bomb vest? Surely if they added that to their CVs, they’d be able to get some sort of job in electronics, or even bomb defusal. They’re just not working to their strengths.

Danny McBride was pretty funny, as always and Jesse Eisenberg was his usual, subtly funny, self. He seems to have found his style and is sticking with it. No complaints from me, as I’m a fan of the Michael Cera ‘awkward’ acting.

The title 30 Minutes or Less only really comes into play for the first part of the film, which really has no effect on the storyline. The only thing it shows is that he’s a good/questionable driver.
This brings me onto the car chases, which were pretty immense and really well filmed. A lot of nice editing and great stunts made these the highlight of the film for me.
Another plus point is the music throughout the film. It has a brilliant soundtrack consisting of tracks from The Beastie Boys, The Hives and even a little Ol’ Dirty bastard thrown in there for good measure.

The marketing team has done a fantastic job and I’m sure there will be bums on seats for this one. The trailer certainly makes it out to be a lot funnier than it is, there’s a slick poster and with Eisenberg’s face and ‘From the Director of Zombieland’ scrawled on there, I’m pretty sure this will be a hit at the box office.

Ruben Fleischer, who directed Zombieland (funnily enough), which was one of my personal favourite films of 2009, has made a film this time around that won’t even touch my top 20 of 2011. Comparing it to Zombieland is a travesty, as it’s not even in the same ball park.

That said, my wife, sister in-law and best mate all seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, so maybe the film is perfectly fine and it’s just me being a grump. I guess you’ll just have to decide for yourself and fork out a nice crisp £10 note for the pleasure. You don’t get much film for your money either, at a measly 83mins long. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

News: The Big Year/The Three Stooges

Thanks to the lovely people over at Lost in the Multiplex,  I now write some news pieces for them.
Check out my first couple by clicking on the links below:

The Big Year



















The Three Stooges









(pic borrowed from comingsoon.net)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Films: Confetti



















Confetti
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Debbie Isitt
Released: 2006
Rating: 15
Popcorns: 2.5/5

A mockumentary that follows three couples as they battle it out to win the coveted title of 'Most Original Wedding of the Year'.

I've been watching quite a few documentaries of late, so I decided I would break the trend and watch a fake one...also known as a 'mockumentary'.

Three couples are picked by Jimmy Carr to compete in Confetti magazine's competition to win a front cover spread with the magazine, featuring their wedding.

The couples are:
  • Martin Freeman and Jessica Hynes, as Matt and Sam.  Their dream wedding consists of a huge musical number, with dancers and a huge wedding cake for them to share their first dance atop of.
  • Stephen Mangan and Meredith Macneill, as Josef and Isabelle.  They are avid tennis fans, so base their wedding around this, with ball boys, a net and a bouquet of flowers around a tennis racket.
  • Robert Webb and Olivia Colman, as Michael and Joanna.  They're the funniest couple of the lot and are naked most of the way through the film, due to being naturists.
My favourite characters of the whole film were the two gay wedding planners, played by Jason Watkins and Vincent Franklin.  It was quite refreshing seeing the comedic side of Watkins, as I've mostly seen him play quite serious roles previously.  They both do a great job of hamming up every scene they're in and there's quite a few touching moments between the two of them.

The best line of the film has to go to Josef, when he exclaims to his wife to be; "Please get it into your thick head, how much i respect you."

The film is full of amazing British comedy talent and I'm quite shocked that it's not more well known, as most people I've talked to about it have never heard of it.
It was a little bit over acted in parts, but I think it all added to mockumentary feel.
I'd watch it again if it was on the telly, but I wouldn't go out of my way to seek it out, if I was you.

It's certainly not the 'Funniest British comedy in years', as the DVD cover claims.

Films: Crazy, Stupid, Love.



















Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Released: 23rd September 2011
Rating: 12a
Popcorns: 4.5/5

A father's life unravels while he deals with a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children.

Crazy, Stupid, Love was my 250th film watched this year, so far.  I'm very pleased to say that it was a great film to hit that landmark with and I really do urge everyone to go and see this at the cinema.

The story is told through three different love stories, but mainly focuses on the unlikely relationship struck up between Cal and Jacob; played by Carell and Gosling, respectively.
Cal and his wife, Emily (Moore), are going through a divorce, due to her sleeping with another man from her work, David Lindhagan.  The break up hits Cal pretty hard, so he spends his days and nights in a bar, drowning his sorrows with vodka & cranberry, or some other watered down spirit.
This is until he meets Jacob, a womaniser and all round hunk, who vows to help Cal change his life around and eventually win back Emily from the arms of the evil Kevin Bacon.

As you can imagine, hilarity ensues, watching Cal awkwardly try to chat up women in the bar, whilst boring them with tales of his break up and his kid's lives.
Whilst this is going on, elsewhere in the film, Cal's son Robbie has fallen madly in love with his babysitter.  The babysitter has fallen madly in love with Cal and Jacob has fallen madly in love with a girl he met at the bar, called Hannah.  Hannah's played by Emma Stone, who we like very much and she will play a key part in the film later on...which I shall not spoil right here.

It's all a huge mix up and conflict of interests from all of the characters that really make this film something special and the insanely hilarious scene near the end will have even the most hardened movie goer laughing in the aisles.  Even the cringe worthy moments were done so well, that it wasn't too over the top.
Stone and Gosling and Carell and Moore both made for convincing couples, with Bacon and Marisa Tomei thrown in there to shake up the latter's relationship.

Every actor is great in this movie and the chemistry between the whole cast really made it look like they had fun on set.  The only exception I would make to this was Kevin Bacon.  It seemed a bit of a waste of a wage to put such a high profile actor in a bit part and he didn't really add much Bacon-ness to it.

Every man that sees this film will want to be Ryan Gosling and every woman will want to be with him.  I'm pretty sure most of the men will want to be with him too, as I've heard of many a man crush developing for this fine actor.  He's funny, handsome and charming and is the best thing about this film.

I've never seen anything by the directors, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa before, but they seem to be quite a capable duo.  I will most definitely be checking out 'I Love You Phillip Morris' after seeing this.

This is the kind of film I wouldn't have normally seen at the cinema, but it looks like it may well be the surprise comedy hit of the Summer (okay, it's nearly Autumn now).  Save money on Friends With Benefits and see this instead when it comes out on 23/09/11.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Films: Friends With Benefits



















Friends With Benefits
Reviewer: J. Leigh
Director: Will Gluck
Released: 9th September 2011
Rating: 15
Popcorns: 3/5

While trying to avoid the clich├ęs of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan and Jamie soon discover however that adding the act of sex to their friendship does lead to complications.

If you are thinking of going to see a romantic comedy this summer...don't go see this!!! No, really...
With promises of "rom-com of 2011", this movie was sorely disappointing.  Big names, like Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake really didn't turn the tide with this outing.

The premise of the movie starts with the main characters, Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis), both in quite a rush to get to their respective partners.  Dylan, a workaholic art and graphic designer and Jamie, a Headhunter (in business; not as in assassin killer), are given the rough end of the stick and dumped by cameo parts Emma Stone and Adam Samberg.  Jamie spots the talents of Dylan through his work and offers him a job with the high flying magazine, GQ.  With a very flirty attitude and rich New York culture she manages to convince Dylan to take the job.  This had nothing to do at all with her taking him up to the top of a high rise building and showing him her special place...Not that special place you sick puppies!!

As Dylan has moved from LA to New York, Jamie helps him find a place to stay and they form quite the friendship.  One night, after a few beers, they get onto the discussion of relationships and how they pose so many issues from the opposite sex and get on the topic of sex with no strings attached; 'Tennis' as Dylan puts it euphemistcally.  Both of them agree that they will be FWBs, with no emotions, no attachments, just purely SEX.  Anyone else see where this is going??
Emotional conflict ensues and the characters fall for each other in the typical hollywood movie style.
A good cameo from Woody Harrelson, as a gay sports correspondent, still wasn't quite enough to make it a great film?!

The plot was pretty thin on the ground and coming off the back of oscar winning roles in Social Network and Black Swan respectively; apart from a few good giggles this film didn't quite pull the same punches as Crazy, Stupid, Love. (OMG how fit is Ryan Gosling???)

I would give this movie a 3/5 popcorns only for the crush I have on both the main parts otherwise 2/5

Smurf Out!! (",)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Films: Confessions of a Superhero



















Confessions of a Superhero
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Matthew Ogens
Released: 2007
Popcorns: 3.5/5

Chronicles the lives of four mortal men and women who work as characters on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard.

Ever since I visited Hollywood, when I was about 12, I've always wondered about all the people who stand and pose for photos, dressed as their favourite characters from TV and films.  It fascinated me that these people were stood there all day and didn't realise at the time that it was actually their jobs, or at least a weekend job to get a bit of money on the side.

Confessions of a Superhero focuses upon four of the aforementioned characters, their struggle to make it into show business and how they ended up standing outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.  The four characters are Hulk, Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.
Hulk is played by Joe McQueen, who came to Hollywood so keen to pursue his dream of stardom, that he started out his days there homeless and washing in Macdonalds before his auditions.
Batman is played by Maxwell Allen, who considers himself a George Clooney lookalike, has serious anger issue and seems to be a compulsive liar.
Wonder Woman is played by Jennifer Wenger, who came from a town where she was Queen of everything to chase her dream of being a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Superman is played by Christopher Dennis, who is obsessed with the Man of Steel and has been dressing up as him for the past 15ish years.  He also claims to be the son of Sandy Dennis, although the rest of her family deny this.

Surprisingly, these people are actually making a living out of this and sometimes are earning up to $500 a day from 'donations' from tourists.
The Chinese Theatre frown upon them and do not want to be associated with them at all. The police have no qualms with them, as long as they stick to the rules. The main two rules are that they must not ask for money, but they are allowed to accept donations and they have to stay off private property, which is clearly marked on the pavements outside of the shops.

They finally get some recognition because of an incident between Elmo, Mr. Incredible and some tourists, when Elmo and Mr. Incredible were arrested and a few of the other characters are interviewed for the news.
This leads to a few TV spots on the Jimmy Kimmell show and a rise in popularity and donations for each of them.


This is a really well put together documentary, spliced with some great pictures, that really capture all four of the people's lives and personalities.
It's a great look into the human psyche and is sometimes quite sad to see what people put themselves through to try and achieve fame.  Saying that, each one of the people interviewed for the documentary seem truly happy doing what they're doing and still hold that hope that one day they will get their starring role.

Films: Colombiana



















Colombiana
Reviewer: J. Leigh
Director: Olivier Megaton
Released: 9th September 2011
Rating: 15
Popcorns: 2.5/5

A young woman, after witnessing her parents' murder as a child in Bogota, grows up to be a stone-cold assassin.

Well, Luc Besson never fails when it comes to action movies.  However, Colombiana, in all its rich and sometimes harrowing imagery was somewhat disappointing...

The story begins in Bogota.  Cataleya, the young daughter of a Colombian cartel member, is suddenly thrown into a fight for her life after her father and mother are slaughtered by goons of the angry cartel boss! It's amazing that this 8 or 9 year old girl knows parkour?!?
She is given an SD card, an address in Chicago and a business card for a member of the US embassy and takes to her toes.  The information held on the card turns out to be so important, it's her passport into the USA...Cliche, i hear you say??

Suddenly, we are propelled 15 years into the future and we find Cataleya lives with her father's brother, from time to time.  That is, when she isn't seeking out members of the gang that killed her parents to entice out the cartel boss who ordered the hit!!

Quite frankly, this is a reboot of one of Besson's finest films, Leon. Only, with the focus upon the main protagonist's adult life.
Some really choppy editing in the fight scenes made your head spin and it was very easy to guess what happened next.

Only worthwhile thing to write about is Zoe Saldana herself.  Some amazing outfits throughout the film; especially the catsuit.....Mmmmmm.
To be honest, it's a one watch.
 
Colombiana is out in the UK today (09/09/11) at most respectable and none respectable cinema chains.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Films: Happythankyoumoreplease



















Happythankyoumoreplease
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Josh Radnor
Released: 2010
Rating: R (MPAA)
Popcorns: 2/5

I always paste in the plot summaries from imdb, so you can get a taste of the film.  Check out how pretentious this one is:

Captures a generational moment - young people on the cusp of truly growing up, tiring of their reflexive cynicism, each in their own ways struggling to connect and define what it means to love and be loved. 

Eeeff!  Should have read that before I started watching it, because then I may not have.
If that summary wets your whistle, then read on and see if I can change your mind...

The story centres around a failed freelance writer called Sam, played by Josh Radnor, who is unlucky in love and has a mental block with his work.
On his way to a job interview, he notices that a child is lost on the subway.  Being the good citizen that he is, he takes the child under his wing and heads off to take him to the police station.  Complications ensue and Sam ends up taking him to his job interview, which he, unsurprisingly, fails.
Now, rather than taking Rasheen (the child) to the police station after the interview, Sam decides to hold on to him for a couple of days and lets him stay at his apartment.  In my books, that's known as kidnap!

Sam builds up a bit of a brotherly relationship with Rasheen and he tries to make out to friends and his new beau that because Rasheen doesn't like his foster parents, it's ok and not at all wierd that the boy would be staying with him.  Eventually the police catch up with him and take the kid back into foster care.

I think you're supposed to empathise with Radnor's character, but he's just got a big fat face that you want to punch!  He only seems to be able to play Ted Mosby as well.  Ted is his character from How I Met Your Mother, who is equally pathetic and annoying.  To be fair, this is only the 2nd thing I've seen him in, but 2 out of 2 is 100% to me.

Talking of annoying; the film is supposed to be documenting 3 blossoming relationships, including Sam's one, but none of them seem that believable really.  Sam stalks a girl from a coffee shop called Mississippi, who still falls for him, even though he is a child snatcher.
Sam's 'cousin', Mary-Catherine, is with a douche bag, who wants to move away to LA, even though she doesn't want to and things are only remedied by her getting pregnant.
Sam's best friend is involved in the 3rd relationship.  She has alopecia, but feels super sorry for herself over it and is incredibly up her own arse at the same time!  The bloke who goes after her is pretty ugly and she does some huge inspirational speech about how she doesn't see that he's an ugly bloke, just because he's given her a bit of attention.

Overall, it just seemed a little bit too forced and like it was trying to be a cute indie flick, but falls right on it's ass, due to the self indulgence of it's writer/director, Josh Radnor.

I could carry on ranting about this film all day and I'm sure some people will like it.  It just makes you wonder why there's been no distribution for it in the UK yet? Maybe they all thought it was a bit poop, like me?!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Films: Vanishing of the Bees



















Vanishing of the Bees
Reviewer: Wally
Director: George Langworthy, Maryam Henein
Released: 2009
Rating: U
Popcorns: 3/5

This documentary takes a piercing investigative look at the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee.

I'm not really sure how other people would view this documentary.  Hopefully, you would think it was informative and interesting and not too boring.  I watched it because I bloody love bees!!

It's basically a one sided view of why the honeybee population is dwindling and bee keepers around the world seem to be discovering empty hives, where there was once a thriving, honey making troop.
It's one sided, because the pesticide companies, who are being blamed for this issue, refused to comment or be filmed.

There's not really much I can say about this documentary, as I fully agree that pesticides can be bad, but without the other side of the arguement, it's pretty pointless to be argueing, because the only people who are going to watch it are the people who agree with you!

Please don't get me wrong on this film.  It's a very well put together documentary of an issue that is quite worrying in the long run and should be addressed by the powers that bee (sorry).

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Films: Hop



















Hop
Reviewer: Wally
Director: Tim Hill
Released: 2011
Rating: U
Popcorns: 2/5

E.B., the Easter Bunny's teenage son, heads to Hollywood, determined to become a drummer in a rock 'n' roll band. In LA, he's taken in by Fred after the out-of-work slacker hits E.B. with his car.

With Tim Hill being the nephew of the late, great George Roy Hill; director of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, to name but a few, you would expect him to follow in his footsteps and not just churn out poor animation films like Garfield 2 and Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Poor George would be turning in his grave.

Hop really isn't much of an exception to this.  It's got nothing to make it stand out of the crowd of animation/live action mash ups we've been bombarded with in the past few years.
It did, however, keep me entertained enough over the 95min running time to not turn it off, although my fingered hovered heavily over the eject button when everyone broke out into an impromptu song and dance routine in the middle of the film.  Unless it's King Julien doing 'I like to move it, move it' in Madagascar, then I'm not interested!

The basic premise is that the Easter Bunny (Hugh Laurie) is trying to train up his son to follow in his footsteps, whilst the rebel son, voiced by the hairy and flamboyant Russell Brand, has better ideas of going into the real world and wreaking havoc, trying to start a rock band.  Something along those lines anyway.
Brand was pretty funny in it for the most part, while his human sidekick, played by James Marsden was unfunny and a douche. Oh how far you've come from playing Cyclops in X-Men!

A redeeming feature was the quality of the animation playing along side the live action sets.  They seemed to get all the reflections correct on surfaces and the interaction between characters was spot on.  Also, I found myself LOLing at least 5 times during the film. That works out to about a LOL every 19 minutes, or 0.05 of a LOL per minute. Actually, that's a pretty poor minute to LOL ratio!

I fear I may have written more about this than Blue Valentine.  If you are a child, see this.  If you are anything but, see Blue Valentine, or most other films for that matter.  It was OK, and that was all.

As for Tim Hill...Shame on you for putting your name down to direct the Short Circuit remake in 2013. I spit in your general direction!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Books: List of My Zombie Book Reviews


Check out the links below for my Zombie book reviews posted up on the terror4fun site.  Just click on the titles of the books to go to each review:

Devil’s Plague


The Enemy













Hungry Hearts













Pride and Prejudice and Zombies













Tide of Souls













Unabridged, Unabashed and Undead














Words of their Roaring













Hope you enjoyed them all (as if you actually read them all...shut up!).  More will be posted, as they are put up on the terror4fun site.


Adios :o)

Films: Blue Valentine



















Blue Valentine

Reviewer: Wally
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Released: 2011
Rating: 15
Popcorns: 3.5/5

 
The film centres on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.

I can't really say that I enjoyed this film, as it was pretty hard to watch and sad to be witnessing the breakdown of a marriage, especially since I've just got hitched myself.  What I can say, is that it was pretty effective and a great piece of drama.

I loved the way Cianfrance mixed up the narrative and some of the scenes at the beginning of their relationship are very charming and heart warming.  I think this all adds to the fact that you find yourself egging them on to try and sort things out.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are both brilliant actors and they are very believable as a couple.  Both characters have their flaws, but it's hard to feel sympathetic towards Gosling's mentally abusive side throughout the later years of their marriage, until the final few scenes when he has a bit of a break down and you can see that he doesn't want to be like that.  It's a very moving scene.

I probably won't watch this film again for a long time, but I would still recommend at least one viewing to everyone.  I'm interested to keep an eye on Derek Cianfrance, as this is only really his second real venture into feature films, mainly focussing his efforts on TV documentaries. 

A great, effective drama and really nicely shot movie!