Bite size & spoiler free reviews for films we wish we had more time to fully expound upon. Mostly lifted from my Twitter status straight after viewing the film.
There are only three things I dislike in this world. Bad Reviewers (mainly hacks who think that giving away a films plot followed by their opinion on whether it's good or not is a review), people who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.
My reviews try not to give away the dénouement but more of a comment on the viewing experience as I tend to have too much respect for anyone who has actually put the time and effort into making a film rather than sitting on their asses critising someone else's work.
- 0.5 Stars: A pox on you Sir
- 2 Stars: Unless you are a forgiving fan, avoid
- 2.5 Stars: Something's not workings
- 3 Stars: I enjoyed it
- 3.5 Stars: That's the good stuff! :D
- 4 Stars: Exceptional, this is movie magic
LymelifeI was fortunate enough to catch a preview screening of Lymelife. I say fortunate as this bitter sweet film is wonderful. A warm slice of 70s American life. Told from the point of view of Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) a "shy Star Wars loving teenager obsessed with feisty girl next-door Adrianna (Emma Roberts)". It really captures the nostalgia of the 70s, coming of age, family life, the consequences of adult decisions and their impact.
All round the acting is superb and impressively under stated but the real star of Lymelife is the world that Writer/Director Derick Martini creates it will sweep you away and keep you engaged. There are some hear warming moments that will make you smile while easing you into the tension building to it's conclusion. A great little film with powerhouse performances.
Heartbreaker - L'arnacoeur
Heartbreaker may be the perfect way for the ladies to escape the heat this Summer. But here are four things that should be noted to give some context to my thoughts on Heartbreaker:
1 - I think the lead Romain Duris is an immense talent. He was absolutely astounding in De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) an earlier masterpiece from Jacques Audiard (Director of A Prophet / Un prophète) so my expectations are very high for his performance. There is actually sweet nod to My Heart Skipped in Hearbreaker.
2 - Even though I have been known to be a hopeless romantic I do lean heavily towards psychological, action and crime films.
3 - I thought Dirty Dancing was lame the first time I saw it.
4 - I represented half the male audience for the screening I - it was date night OK!. Come to think of it this was a very similar scenario to when I saw Dirty Dancing.
If you cannot relate to any of the points above you'll probably love Heartbreaker.
As far as sweet romantic chick flicks go I thought it was OK. I do prefer my films slightly darker and deeper but once I let go - Duris's charisma carries most of the film. There are many laugh out loud moments in the film. The audience were laughing and generally happy & buzzing the whole way through the film.
My biggest issue with the film may actually be put down to cultural nuances or subtleties being lost in translation, as I struggled to gain emotional traction in the shift in Duris's character from the start to the finish. I saw what what was happening I just didn't feel it.
To be fair I'll probably watch it again on DVD at some point so that like Dirty Dancing I'll see it as a good girl film. I do think there is a gap for light European romances and hope that Heartbreaker fills that gap because I would like to see more from both Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis.
Get Him To The GreekI've never seen any of Russel Brand's live performances, I did not listen to his radio show, I did not read his Booky Wooky, I occasionally caught him on TV and laughed my ass off at his wholly inappropriate and hilarious observational rhetoric I did see the slightly above average Forgetting Sarah Marshall and thought that Russel Brand was the best bit.
Yesterday I got to see the UK "Premiere" screening of Get Him To The Greek and laughed so hard I think one of my balls popped out of my nut sack. It should be noted that Jonah Hill And Russell Brand introduced the film so there is a chance that Brand, in the small confines of the packed cinema may have used some of his Svengali like hypnotism skills on me (and the crowd) because as the film started I was slowly and completely sucked into the world on screen. If you have seen the trailer you know the plot but it's actually has more depth than one would imagine. Most of the laughs were caused by Jonah Hill's suffering straight man to Russel Brand's jaded rock star. I'm giggling right now as I think of one particulary funny scene. The only issue I had (take it or leave it) is that Russel Brand does not move like a Rock God he well, moves like Russel Brand.
The CollectorHey The Collector's not going to win any Oscars but it's a damn fine piece of film making. It's from the makers of Saw so you know what to expect. Director Marcus Dunstan makes a picture perfect chiller, building tension from the start & does not waste any opportunities to make this film flow. I saw this on the Empires largest screen 4 with a perfect picture & sublime audio so I really feel like bigging this one up even more - but am unsure of how it will play out on smaller screens. I should mention that The Collector was the first film of this sort that I have seen where the crowd actually cheered and clapped when our hero gets the upper hand at one point.
KillersAshton Kutcher is good in Killers, he continues to build on the credibility garnered with Spread. It's an amiable light film, a pastiche of 50s rom coms & spy films mixed with Mission Impossible 3 and Mr & Mrs Smith with a small nod to Die Hard. The Premiere audience were laughing the whole way through and there was a good buzz. Cast were all good particularly the hilarious Rob Riggle. I thought the end let it down though, a different ending could have lifted it to a really good film status.
Brooklyn's FinestFuqua, Gere, Cheadle, Hawke, Snipes, D'Onofrio, Barkin and Taylor. What more do you need to know? Just the right mix of emotion and shock in a story that's like a fuse slowly burning coming across as Pulp Fiction mixed with Crash powered by a top notch performances.
Robin Hood Another film not given the respect it deserves. This is the version of Robin Hood we have been waiting for. I wasn't expecting to enjoy Robin Hood based on reviews I had been hearing, so I waited till all the hype died down before seeing it. Again "critics" proving that they don't know sh*t from Shinola. Sir Ridley Scott cleverly reinvents the Robin Hood myth and his masterful direction keeping this film on point and not letting it be mired down in over-indulgence or overstated performances. I can't wait to see the next installment in what I hope becomes a trilogy.
The WolfmanI wasn't expecting much from The Wolfman as it had been universally panned. Possibly that is why I enjoyed this update of the Lon Chaney's 1941 The Wolf Man as much as I did. Nowhere near as gritty as An American Werewolf in London but a pretty good film and I was pleasantly surprised that performances were given right of way over CGI. Streets ahead of similar updates to classic creature features.
OndineI can see why some people would struggle with Ondine but I loved this little tale set in a Irish fishing village. Acting is top notch all round with standout performances from; Farrell, Bachleda and the young Alison Barry. Neil Jordan brings a real fair tale like quality to this minor classic. I did struggle with the accents but this added to the overall fairytale feel of the story.
Iron Man 2About 5 Mins into Iron Man 2 I couldn't believe I was sitting in a cinema watching a Super Hero character from my childhood up on the big screen the way he should be. Loved it. 4 Stars up until the climax and then it lost 0.5 a star for trying too hard to be bigger & better than Iron Man.
She's Out of My LeagueUnpredictable set ups and characters raise She's Out of My League head and shoulders above the mire of many similar Rom-Coms. You'll be laughing out loud while rooting for the appropriate characters from the start to end. Fun film.
Black DeathBlack Death is the film you wanted to see when you first heard about Inglourious Basterds (before Tarantino wryly pulled the carpet out from under us) - with the exception that it is set in the much darker and dangerous bubonic Plague ridden Middle Ages. This men on an intense mission doesn't let you forget the complex fundamental religious issues at its core whilst by no means being a "message movie". Much bigger and broader than Creep and Triangle live wire Christopher Smith's direction is top notch and really allows the cast to flourish. Black Death is the return to form of the Great British Darkness.
Death at a Funeral With the all star cast I had such raised expectations. Some stand out hilarious moments mostly from show stealers Danny Glover & James Marsden. Good film but not great comedy. But most of the audience were howling with laughter from the get go.
Children of MenI disliked City of Children the first time I saw it on DVD, at best I thought it was mediocre.But I was lucky enough to catch a screening of it at the LFS on a slightly smaller than big screen and loved it. I'm unsure of it was the Grind house atmosphere of the screening, sitting with an appreciative audience or just that I was seeing it on a big screen. I really enjoyed Alfonso Cuarón's minor classic. There are too many bits to to highlight but it all comes together in a pretty edgy look at the future with Michael Caine in one of his most compelling roles in a while.
HeartlessI was really expecting to enjoy Heartless, I rate Jim Sturgess since his star turn in Across the Universe and dislike dissing Brit films. All the pieces seem to be on the table; great actors, interesting plot, great mythology, outstanding use of East London locations but it just doesn't come together in a compelling way and the many strands seem a little thin. Every review I have seen/heard or read has rated it. Possibly over exposure to marketing killed it for me. I pretty much knew what to expect from the story before going into the cinema so there were no surprises. If you like Clive Barker's films after the original Hellraiser you'll probably like Heartless.
I would expect Robert Pattinson to be in films where he plays moody, misunderstood boy/men. But I didn't expect Remember Me to be a blindingly as good as it is - straight into my 2010 Top 10. Top notch performances with a genuinely engaging story. Remember Me is a possible future classic and certainly way above other similar Romance/Family Dramas.
Valhalla RisingI was expecting a low rent Conan but Nicolas Winding Refn presents a bold, original and uncompromising Viking/Crusaders mash up. Loved the soundtrack and editing came across as a Peckinpah on acid. Mads Mikkelsen is outstanding as the stoic warrior and has outgrown his Bond break.
The LosersSlick, polished, very well made, interesting characters/acting, great action scenes and visually stimulating. In spirit very close to the comic but it didn't work for me. It just felt a little too slick, way too much style over substance and lacked a bit of soul. Possibly one of those stories that works better as a comic.
Clash of the Titans Great Saturday afternoon romp. Based on reviews I was expecting a really dire film, but when all is said & done & the hype died down - it's actually really fun. As with Leterrier's other works the pace is too fast for more liking, hence characters aren't allowed to fully developed. But the rest was quality, especially FX. Believable performances all round especially Neeson, Fiennes and Mikkelsen. Oh yes! I saw the 2D version.
Solomon KaneAnother one that could have gone either way - fortunatley good acting and solid direction anchor Solomon Kane and make it an enjoyable film quite close to the source material.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Made 26 years ago one can overlook the cheesy bits to revel in the chilling shocker that is Wes Craven's classic horror. I'm not biased when I say the first 20 minutes of the original are better than the whole 2010 remake.
A Nightmare on Elm Street  Slightly less than faithful remake - without the tension or innovation of the original. But the newb next to me said "it scared him shizless and he would love to stay for the screening of the original (film to be shown after the 2010 version) but he was drained."
Hot Tub Time MachineHot Tub Time Machine hit the spot. Straight in to my 2010 top 10. Excellent 80s fun. Cusack revisiting/homage to the 80s = Ace. Doesn't take itself seriously. Excellent Pacing. Hilarious un-PC bits I was howling with laughter.
SpliceSplice gets it's 1st official UK screening at SCI-FI-LONDON 9. It divides the audience but is definitely a film that Sci Fans will be debating for a while. Interesting and challenging 3/4s that suddenly changes gear for the final quarter.
AirplaneI forgot how funny this king of the spoof is. The copy I saw had really dated and gave the film a real Grindhouse feel to it which added to the experience. Classic laughs.
The Ghost WriterThe Ghost is a sublimely delicious film! Love him or hate him Roman Polanski is possibly one of the last masters of film still alive.
Date NightJust seen a preview of Date Night. It's a laugh out loud movie. Good fun from start to end.
I Am LoveCan't complain they don't make films like they used to. They do it's called I am Love. Rich, unexpected, Swinton shines, beautifully shot. Visconti mixed with Greenway & little Hitchcock style thrown in, 1/4 of the way through I thought Swinton was Italian.
Repo MenGreat seeing Jude Law in an action role, great FX, intresting concept, well made - still don't understand how it comes together so weakly. Not sure if I forgive them for lifting that scene from Old Boy. The non sci-fi person next to me thought it was good though.
Star SuckersStarsuckers best documentary so far this year, quite taken about how indepth it is and the breadth it covers. If Star Suckers doesn't get a BAFTA nomination I'll be very surprised & disappointed. It's an excellent documentary.
Dear JohnEnjoyable & has depth. Not a run of the mill romance . Just a little too long and loses some steam.
Shutter IslandAs expected another quality production from Scorsese. I know it's based on Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel but it would have worked better for me had I known it was just a remake of William Peter Blatty's far superior albeit dated B grade The Ninth Configuration.
I Know You KnowRobert Carlyle again showing why he should be one of the UK's finest exports. Great performances & direction, the story develops well. However the subject matter (based on a true story) and setting is really dark.
MoonI have to say watching Moon for the second time allowed me to analyse different aspects of the film as the story unfolds and the scenes where new Sam Bell and old Sam Bell interact are incredibly touching and have replaced the Sci Fi styled visual scenes as the best part of Moon for me. Rockwell really did deserve some kind of *cough* Oscar acknowledgement for his role as Sam Bell.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New OrleansWe got to see Werner Herzog's re-imagining of Abel Ferrara's brilliant Bad Lieutenant at the London Film Festival 09 and loved it. These are the types roles that Nicholas Cage excels at, that combined with Werner Herzog's sense of quirky make this an interesting delight. Although Herzog says he has never seen the original Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans plays well against Abel Ferrara's original version.