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...