Movie Review Catch Up ~ March 2013

The Croods

Mini Blog
I saw The Croods on a bit of a whim. I had been out with my friend, intending to shop and take tea. But it was Easter Sunday and for some reason on Easter Sunday the world comes to a standstill! But thankfully, not at the cinema! My friend likes James McAvoy so the obvious film choice was Trance, but it wasn’t on for a while. We’d already missed the screenings of Finding Nemo 3D, we didn’t fancy GI Joe and she’s not a fan of horror so Dark Skies was out of the question. The Croods however, was starting imminently so we decided to give it a whirl. 
 
We grabbed our tea on the way in and settled down with our chocolate eggs for The Croods, the latest animated feature to come from Dreamworks, the studio that made the amazing How To Train Your Dragon. Whilst this movie about a family of cave people may not be on that same level, it is a really enjoyable family film, filled with moments of genuine humor; as well as the odd moment of sadness. The characters are likable, if a little cooky, and voiced perfectly by the actors involved. And if you don’t come away saying “dun dun duuuuun” whenever you need some dramatic music, or feeling like you want your very own ‘belt’ then there is something wrong!
 
My slight wrinkle with Dreamworks animation over say, Disney or Pixar, is that their style of animation always seems a little more basic. I felt like they were changing that with How To Train Your Dragon but with The Croods I sort of felt like they had taken a step back? It’s not a problem, just really an observation. Some of the landscapes looked really impressive but then you come back to the characters and they look cartoony. Improvements are still required at Dreamworks Animation HQ but overall this is a well put together movie and I’m sure would be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. 6 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 31/03/2013
UK Release Date – 22nd March 2013
 
Cast Overview:
(If you don’t like knowing who the voices are DONT SCROLL DOWN! ;0)
Nicholas Cage ~ Grug
Emma Stone ~ Eep
Ryan Reynolds ~ Guy
Catherine Keener ~ Ugga
Cloris Leachman ~ Gran
 
Director(s) ~ Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Writer(s) ~ Chris Sanders (Screenplay and Story), Kirk De Micco (Screenplay and Story) and John Cleese (Story)

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Oz The Great And Powerful

Mini Review
For most people, Oz The Great And Powerful was highly anticipated. Not so much for me. On the one hand I was intrigued by the trailer but on the other hand I didn’t just dislike The Wizard Of Oz, I downright hated it. But it was my turn to pick the Orange/EE Wednesday film to watch with my friend and as I thought Oz would be gone from the cinema soon I plumped for that. 
 
The film takes us back to before Dorothy landed in Oz, right back to when the Wizard of Oz landed in Oz. Oscar Diggs is a carnival magician and a bit of a scoundrel by all accounts. One day when the travellers are packing up to leave, his scheming ways catch up with him and he finds himself in a sticky situation. His only escape is a hot air balloon, which he promptly climbs into. Before he knows it he’s headed into a tornado which whisks him off to the land of Oz. There he meets Theodora, a beautiful white witch who tells him of the plight of those who live in Oz, as the threat of the wicked witch plagues them. Ah but wait, there is a prophecy that a great wizard will come and save them all. Could he be that great man?
 
Mmm, probably not. He might be handy with an illusion or two but don’t expect Oz to lead anyone in a great fight to the death, he’s far too much of a coward for that. Which is a pity because he’s the star of the show, the Great and Powerful one of the title, and yet he’s a bit of a shit really. Not exactly the hero you can really get behind and root for. And I think ultimately this is Oz’s undoing. Sure it looks great and has lots of pretty ladies in nice dresses, heck every now and then there’s even a Wizard Of Oz reference thrown in for good measure. But what good is any of that if you have a useless, cowardly, not even that attractive, and all round not very nice, ‘hero’? 
 
It’s no good at all. James Franco is known for his sometimes odd and sometimes on the money film choices, and I can understand why he took this but it just didn’t work for me. Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz all look very pretty but they don’t have an awful lot to do. Thankfully, the only thing that could have made me hate this more, singing, never gets into full swing. It’s the one thing I’m thankful to Oz for. Overall, a disappointing and unnecessary prequel but if you’re a fan of the original there might be something here for you. 4 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 27th March 2013
UK Release Date – 8th March 2013
 
Cast Overview:
James Franco ~ Oscar (Oz) Diggs
Mila Kunis ~ Theodora
Rachel Weisz ~ Evanora
Michelle Williams ~ Annie/Glinda
Zach Braff ~ Frank/Finley
Bill Cobbs ~ Master Tinker
Joey King ~ Girl in wheelchair/China Girl
Tony Cox ~ Knuck
 
Director ~ Sam Raimi
Writer(s) ~ Mitchell Kapner (Screenplay and Screen Story), David Lindsay-Abaire (Screenplay) and L. Frank Baum (“Oz” works)

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Jack The Giant Slayer

I saw the trailer for Jack a few months ago and was quite convinced I wouldn’t bother with it. It looked terrible and it’s main star was Nicholas ‘I was pretty bad in Warm Bodies’ Hoult. But then my friend in the states saw it, the land where everything gets released before it does in the UK (I still haven’t forgiven her for being able to see Hansel and Gretel a whole 2 months before we got it) and she actually recommended it to me. In a round about sort of way. See what she said was that Ewan McGregor was hot and therefore I should see it.
 
It seemed like sound logic to me, so upon the film’s UK release I went along with my cinema buddy. And let me tell you, my American friend wasn’t lying! See alternate Jack poster below featuring Mr McGregor’s character Elmont. Swoon!
 
I’m not going to delve deep into the story, because if you don’t know it then where have you been? Farm boy Jack (Nicholas Hoult) gets tricked into trading a horse for some ‘magic’ beans, beans get wet = giant beanstalk which goes up to land of giants above the clouds. Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), and object of Jack’s affections, gets stranded at the top of the beanstalk. The King (Ian McShane) sends his best men – and Jack – on a mission to climb the beanstalk and bring the princess down, before the giants realise that their link to earth has re-appeared. For if they discover it, they will climb down and destroy the earth and all who inhabit it.
 
The story is easy to follow and for the most part it’s an enjoyable fairytale movie. I found it started to drag a bit after they came down from the beanstalk but on the whole I liked it. Ewan McGregor’s Elmont is definitely the star of the show, stealing every scene he’s in, but Stanley Tucci is also worth a mention, playing the wicked Roderick with such relish it’s like he’s the best panto villain you’ve ever seen. The giants are quite scary but probably only for younger kids, I’d say anyone above my nephews age (7) will likely be fine with it. 
 
Jack The Giant Slayer isn’t going to win any awards but if you’ve got older kids who’d enjoy it, or if you’re looking for a bit of tall tale with plenty of action and a bit of romance on the side then it’s not a bad way to spend a few hours. Or if, like me, you just want someone to swoon over in the dark, you won’t go wrong. 6.5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 24th March 2013
UK Release Date – 22nd March 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Nicholas Hoult ~ Jack
Eleanor Tomlinson ~ Isabelle
Ewan McGregor ~ Elmont
Stanley Tucci ~ Roderick
Eddie Marsan ~ Crawe
Ewan Bremner ~ Wicke
Ian McShane ~ King Brahmwell
Ralph Brown ~ General Entin
Warwick Davis ~ Old Hamm
Bill Nighy ~ General Fallon
 
Director ~ Bryan Singer
Writer(s) ~ Darren Lemke (Screenplay and Story), Christopher McQuarrie (Screenplay), Dan Studney (Screenplay) and David Dobkin (Story)

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Safe Haven

Mini Review

Despite Safe Haven looking like it would be a big bowl of cheese, my friends and I decided to see it as we’re huge fans of another Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Notebook. This film however, is quite different to that, as it is from other Nicholas Sparks adaptations I have seen such as Dear John and A Walk To Remember, although they do seem to all follow similar themes of love and loss.
 
In this particular adaptation we follow Katie (Julianne Hough), as she runs away to the small beach town of Southport (no, not the miserable one in the UK!). What or who she is running from is not known. Once settled in Southport with a job, a home and a friendly neighbor Jo (Cobie Smulders), Katie starts to feel more secure. Little does she know that a police officer from her old home town of Boston, is looking for her in connection to a murder there. Meanwhile Katie starts to get close to Alex (Josh Duhamel) and his two children, not realising that every day the cop searching for her is getting dangerously closer to her current location. And if he finds her, everything she’s worked so hard to leave behind will not only re-surface, but it could destroy everything she’s worked so hard to build. 
 
I was pleasantly surprised by Safe Haven. After enjoying The Notebook I was keen to see Dear John, but was then massively disappointed by it. It was so much cheesier than The Notebook and featured some pretty bad performances by Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. I was so put off that I didn’t bother to see the next Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Lucky One. But something about the trailer for Safe Haven made me think that it was going to be different from those movies, and I’m glad I gave it a chance. The choice of going with relative unknown Julianne Hough as the lead actress also gave the film more of an edge, as because she wasn’t a star I never felt like I could completely trust her character or that she would be safe from getting killed off. 
 
My only gripe with the film, although sadly it is a pretty major gripe, is that the ending is so ridiculous it completely belittles the rest of the film. If the ending had been different, or even if the closing minutes simply didn’t happen, I would have really liked Safe Haven. As it stands, it has to have the worst ending of the year so far. I won’t spoil it for you if you plan to see the film but I challenge anybody to watch this and not roll your eyes as the credits roll. 5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 14th March 2013
UK Release Date – 1st March 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Julianne Hough ~ Katie
Josh Duhamel ~ Alex
Cobie Smulders ~ Jo
David Lyons ~ Kevin
Mimi Kirkland ~ Lexie
Noah Lomax ~ Josh
 
Director ~ Lasse Hallström
Writer(s) ~ Leslie Bohem (Screenplay), Dana Stevens (Screenplay) and Nicholas Sparks (Novel)

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Side Effects

Mini Review
I have recently started making the most of Orange/EE Wednesdays with a friend from work. As I have a Cineworld card it means that with the Orange/EE code, she gets a free ticket. Bargain! We saw the trailer for Side Effects a couple of weeks earlier and as my friend is a fan of Channing Tatum it seemed to be a bit of a no-brainer that we would see Side Effects.
 
The film tells the story of Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), a young woman who has suffered from depression since her husband Martin (Channing Tatum), was imprisoned for insider trading. Upon his release she assumes that they will be able to put the last 4 years behind them, but instead she finds herself slipping deeper into depression’s grasp. She starts seeing a psychiatrist, Dr Banks (Jude Law), who prescribes her with an amazing new drug. The immediate effects are everything Emily and Martin hope for, but then the side effects of the drugs start to creep in and if they get out of hand, they could destroy the lives of not only Emily and Martin, but Dr Banks too.
 
I found Side Effects to be quite a different film from the one advertised in the trailer. For one, as my poor friend discovered, Channing Tatum’s role is considerably smaller than the trailer indicates. That aside though I found that it was different in a surprising way rather than a disappointing sense. The film was a lot darker and had a lot more twists that I was expecting. From the trailer I guessed this was going to be more of a courtroom drama, looking at the side effects of the drug prescribed, but in reality the film is more of a psychological thriller and had so many double crosses that I had trouble keeping track of them all.
 
The only problems I had with the film were that it felt overly long, and after the main twist had occurred I’d already figured out what all of the remaining twists were going to be. So it felt more like a waiting game for everything to be neatly wrapped up. I did still enjoy the film overall and if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers or any of the actors involved then I’d say you’re likely to enjoy this. It’s a popcorn movie but an enjoyable one, and at times, brain teasingly so. 7 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 13th March 2013
UK Release Date – 8th March 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Jude Law ~ Dr Jonathan Banks
Rooney Mara ~ Emily Taylor
Catherine Zeta-Jones ~ Dr Victoria Siebert
Channing Tatum ~ Martin Taylor
Vinessa Shaw ~ Dierdre Banks
Ann Dowd ~ Martin’s Mother
Polly Draper ~ Emily’s Boss
 
Director ~ Steven Soderbergh

Writer ~

Scott Z. Burns (Screenplay)

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The Paperboy

Mini Review
Although I am signed up to See Film First I rarely get notified of their advanced screenings. As it so happens one of my friends got tickets to this screening but was unable to attend, and as such gave the tickets to me. I appealed on Facebook for anyone who wanted to join me for the early morning showing of the film, which just so happened to be on Mothering Sunday; and I was pleasantly surprised to have the ticket snapped up by a friend who used to be my housemate many moons ago. Surprising, as despite sharing a flat for over a year, this was our first cinematic outing together. 
 
The film is set in the hot Florida summer of 1969 and tells the tale of Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), a woman who has a thing for corresponding with men in prison. Her latest man on the inside is Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), who has been imprisoned on death row for murdering the local Sheriff. Charlotte believes him innocent and contacts local newspaper family the Jansen’s, asking Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and his writing partner Yardley (David Oyelowo) to write a story about Hillary. Charlotte wants them to investigate claims that Hillary has been wrongly imprisoned simply because he’s a redneck. In the process of freeing her jailbird, Charlotte gets close to Ward’s younger brother Jack (Zac Efron), who in turn becomes more than a little infatuated with Charlotte. 
 
The Paperboy was certainly different I will give you that. I’m not entirely sure it was a suitable Mothering Sunday film or that it should be seen at 11am on any day of the week, but it was very atmospheric of the place and time it was set; the story was unique and the acting superb. Unlike Kidman’s other film that I saw this month, Stoker, I didn’t feel like this was style over substance, but I still didn’t feel that it had an awful lot to say for itself. The overwhelming feeling that I took from The Paperboy is that it’s a film about loneliness and how different people deal with it in different ways. Charlotte is drawn to people in prison, but ultimately, although she wants someone, she doesn’t believe they’ll get out. *spoiler alert* Her shock is clear when Hillary shows up at her door after being released. Ward’s homosexuality in an age when this was more than frowned upon but could get you killed, makes him long for companionship to the point where he takes things to extreme levels. Jack’s loneliness embodies itself in a crush on an unobtainable woman. And almost gets him killed. *End spoiler*
 
I don’t feel like my life has been changed by seeing The Paperboy but I’m still glad that I did see it and I would still recommend it. But it’s not for everybody. I was glad that I went to see it with someone who is very open minded as this would not have been the type of film for some of my friends. It does feature a lot of graphic scenes of sex and violence. But if you think you can stomach that and it sounds like an interesting premise then I’d give it a watch. Just don’t believe all the awards hype about it. 7 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 10th March 2013
UK Release Date – 15th March 2013
Cast Overview:
Zac Efron ~ Jack Jansen 
Matthew McConaughey ~ Ward Jansen
David Oyelowo ~ Yardley Acheman
Scott Glenn ~ W. W. Jansen
Nikolette Noel ~ Nancy
John Cusack ~ Hillary Van Wetter
Nicole Kidman ~ Charlotte Bless
Macy Gray ~ Anita Chester
 
Director ~ Lee Daniels
Writer ~ Lee Daniels (Screenplay) and Peter Dexter (Novel and Screenplay)

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Song For Marion

Mini Review
As you may have seen from my last review, I wanted to see Song For Marion since it’s release at the end of February. I believed the release date for this film was the reason for Hansel and Gretel (also starring Gemma Arterton) being put back by a couple of days, as they were originally scheduled to come out on the same date. Seeing how good Gemma was in Hansel and Gretel made me want to see this even more, even though it is a British comedy and they’re usually on my list of movies to avoid. 
 
The film tells the story of Marion (Vanessa Redgrave), a woman with a terminal illness, who enjoys singing in her local choir. Marion’s husband Arthur (Terence Stamp) is against anything that will make Marion weaker, making her illness worse, and so doesn’t hide his annoyance towards the choir and their director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) who is constantly trying to get Marion, and in turn Arthur, more involved. However, getting grumpy old Arthur to join in is going to be harder, but perhaps more rewarding, than Elizabeth ever imagined. 
 
As I said above, I tend to avoid British comedies like the plague as I generally find them to be the most unfunny and boring films out there. I’m all for supporting British film but when we turn out crap it makes it hard to do. Song For Marion however was a film I could definitely get behind. It wasn’t hilarious but it had moments of being genuinely funny, it was touching, it was thought provoking, it had bloody brilliant performances and it left me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. If all British films, not just British comedies, were made with such love I don’t think the industry would struggle to keep up with our counterparts from across the pond. 
 
If it’s not finished it’s run at your local cinema then I urge you to see Song For Marion, and if my review has come too late then I ask you to put it on your LoveFilm reminder list and catch it when it comes out on DVD. You won’t regret it. 8 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 6th March 2013
UK Release Date – 22nd February 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Gemma Arterton ~ Elizabeth
Terence Stamp ~ Arthur
Christopher Eccleston ~ James
Vanessa Redgrave ~ Marion
Anne Reid ~ Brenda
 
Director/Writer ~ Paul Andrew Williams

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Stoker

Mini Review

http://www.foxsearchlight.com/stoker/

After spending a lovely weekend with my friend we decided that we weren’t quite ready for it to be over and would have time to waste a few hours at the cinema. The film we wanted to see, Song For Marion, wasn’t on for another couple of hours so I suggested we see Stoker as my friend is a fan of Nicole Kidman. She asked me what it was about and I realised at that point that I didn’t know. Upon looking at the synopsis I realised that the film also starred Dermot Mulroney who I’ve loved for years. So we decided that regardless of the dark subject matter we were going to give the film a chance.

The film opens on the funeral of Richard Stoker (Dermot Mulroney – woe is me). His introverted daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) and dedicated wife Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) are present, but so too is Richard’s estranged brother Charlie (Matthew Goode). India, who has never previously been aware of the existence of this mysterous uncle, becomes increasingly intregued by Charlie and his sudden presence in her and her mother’s house. The situation turns sinister when Charlie’s aunt shows up and tries to warn India that Charlie may not be all that he seems. Will she listen to her great Aunt or is India destined to follow her uncle down a path that she can never turn back from?

Stoker is a hard film to grapple with. On the one hand it keeps the viewer interested by twists and turns in the plot, it’s well acted and the direction is at times beautiful and yet always to the point. But on the other hand it doesn’t really go anywhere or have much to say for itself. It’s a definite case of style over substance.

I wish there’d been some sort of epiphany at the end or that I’d felt somehow enriched by seeing it but I didn’t. The only realisation being that those were 2 hours of my life I wasn’t getting back. And that Dermot Mulroney should have had a bigger role. 5 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 3rd March 2013

UK Release Date – 1st March 2013

Cast Overview:

Mia Wasikowska ~ India Stoker

Nicole Kidman ~ Evelyn Stoker

Matthew Goode ~ Charlie Stoker

Dermot Mulroney ~ Richard Stoker

Jacki Weaver ~ Gwendolyn Stoker

Ralph Brown ~ Sheriff

Director ~ Chan-Wook Park

Writer ~ Wentworth Miller (contributing writer Erin Cressida Wilson)

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Movie Review Catch Up ~ February 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been looking forward to this movie for quite some time. But that is mostly down to the constant delays it experienced on it’s way to being released (bearing in mind that it was filmed prior to The Avengers!) rather than because I’m a fan of the fairy tale. 
 
The film opens on the famous tale of two children in the woods who come across a candy house and can’t resist having a snack. Inside the house they discover a witch who tries to fatten up poor Hansel in order to eat him. The kids escape and burn the witch. The End. Or so those Grimm brothers would have you believe. Queue a nice animated sequence to help fill us in on what has become of the brother and sister since their encounter. Well, they become Witch Hunters of course! What else are they going to do with no form of therapy to work out their demons? They get hired by the Mayor of a small town with a witch problem and the ass-kicking ensues. But the witches are more than just an unwanted nuisance for the town and have snatched several children. What are they up to? And will Hansel and Gretel be able to figure it out in time to put an end to their schemes?
 
This movie has received a lot of stick but I found it to be a lot of fun. If you went in there expecting a serious movie, tacking all kinds of issues then I’d forgive you for being disappointed. What I was expecting was a somewhat cheesy premise, some laughs, lots of bad-assery and the occassional F-bomb and that’s exactly what I got. 
 
Jeremy Renner’s Hansel was actually a lot sweeter and accident prone than I was expecting. Having seen the trailer and knowing his penchant for action movies I expected him to be the brawn, and Gemma Arterton to be the brains. But I was pleasantly surprised to see her step out of her damsel in distress role and actually kick some butt. She was great as Gretel and never for one minute seemed like she couldn’t handle herself. They had good chemistry and it was nice to see a brother/sister dynamic on screen in this type of film.
 
The witch make up was also impressive, as were the sets, as the filmmakers opted for realism, using prosthetics rather than CGI for the witches and filming in real forests in Germany rather than using green screens. When you’re making a fairy tale I guess you want to ground it in reality as much as possible and I felt that it worked really well here. 
 
Overall, a lot of gore but also a lot of fun. Which has been sorely absent from our screens in a while. The Oscar season of serious films is over, go let your hair down for a night. 7 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 27th February 2013
UK Release Date – 27th February 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Jeremy Renner ~ Hansel
Gemma Arterton ~ Gretel
Famke Janssen ~ Muriel
Pihla Viitala ~ Mina
Derek Mears ~ Edward
Thomas Mann ~ Ben
Peter Stormare ~ Sheriff Berringer
 
Director/Writer ~ Tommy Wirkola

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Warm Bodies

Mini Blog

I’d looked forward to Warm Bodies since I saw the trailer. As a fan of horror movies in general, and especially of films that throw traditional horror ideas on their head, I was intrigued by the idea that a Zombie could be cured of their zombification by something that a Zombie would be likely to never find; love.

As such, I was determined to see the film before it finished at my local cinema, even though this meant going out alone at night in freezing cold temperatures. And I wish I could say that it was worth my plight. But alas, I should have waited for the DVD.

Yes it is a fresh take on a decaying story but it’s basically Romeo and Juliet with Zombies which I find slightly less original. The main Zombie being named R because he doesn’t remember what his full name is and the girl he falls in love with being Julie. I found this homage to be unnecessary and annoying rather than the delight I think I was meant to feel. And don’t even get me started on the ‘balcony’ scene!

I also found that Nicholas Hoult is not yet ready for leading man status. He can’t carry a film, and quite frankly having a cast of mostly unknown young actors to back him up does not work in this film’s favour. John Malkovich’s small role as Julie’s father brings a welcome addition of a well known face who can also pack a punch in the acting stakes. Unfortunately though he’s just not around enough. Much like Bill Murray’s role in Zombieland, this film would have majorly benefitted from a cameo from a high profile star, but sadly for Warm Bodies, no-one stepped up to the plate.

This leaves Warm Bodies as yet another intriguing premise let down by a less than impressive cast and silly decisions by the filmmakers to infuse their zombie movie with shakespearian comparisons. It just doesn’t work. 6 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 21st February 2013
UK Release Date – 8th February 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Nicholas Hoult ~ R
Teresa Palmer ~ Julie
Analeigh Tipton ~ Nora
Rob Corddry ~ M
Dave Franco ~ Perry
John Malkovich ~ Grigio
 
Director ~ Jonathan Levine
Writer(s) ~ Jonathan Levine (Screenplay) and Isaac Marion (Novel)

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Beautiful Creatures

Mini Review

Beautiful Creatures is based on a book of the same name and tells the story of Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) a boy who wants nothing more than to leave the small town he grew up in, that is until he meets Lena (Alice Englert). Lena lives with her uncle in a strange old house and soon finds herself and her family the subject of vicious rumours by the small minded townsfolk about them being devil worshipers. Ethan is drawn to Lena regardless of the gossip and when he gives her a locket he finds amongst trinkets in his house, he and Lena share a flashback of the civil war. Lena confesses to Ethan that she and her family are casters which means they can perform spells. Lena tells Ethan that her 16th birthday will determine whether she is a caster of light or dark origin, i.e good or evil. Ethan believes he knows who Lena truly is but will that make any difference to her fate?
 
I really wanted to like Beautiful Creatures. It had an impressive cast and an intriguing story. But I am sorry to say that it’s not overly well executed. I think mainly because the filmmakers tried too hard to mould it into the next Twilight film so that it would get at their target audience. I haven’t read the books that it’s based on but I would bet that they’re worthy of more than the filmmakers allowed this movie to be.
The younger cast were unknowns which gave them more of a chance to shine but I have to say that they didn’t really make an impression on me, and the better known cast such as Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum were all a little too OTT hammy for my liking.
The film felt a lot longer than it’s two hour running time and by the end I really didn’t care whether Lena was going to be good or bad, I just wanted the film to be over. Which is a shame as it’s not that bad a story. It’s just not all that special a film. A distinctly average 5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 17th February 2013
UK Release Date – 13th February 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Alden Ehrenreich ~ Ethan Wate
Alice Englert ~ Lena Duchannes
Jeremy Irons ~ Macon Ravenwood
Viola Davis ~ Amma
Emmy Rossum ~ Ridley Duchannes
Thomas Mann ~ Link
Emma Thompson ~ Mrs Lincoln / Sarafine
Eileen Atkins ~ Gramma
 
Director ~ Richard LaGravenese
Writer(s) ~ Richard LaGravenese (Screenplay), Kami Garcia (Novel) and Margaret Stohl (Novel)

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Wreck-It Ralph

 
If you’ve read my last review for Monsters, Inc. you’ll know that I’m a massive sucker for Disney movies. So I knew I would see Wreck-It Ralph as soon as I saw the trailer. The fact that the movie was picked by my cinema buddy as his Birthday movie choice just made the decision to see it that much sweeter.
 
Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of a guy called Ralph who lives in an arcade game called Fix It Felix. Ralph’s job is to wreck the building Felix manages. If you win the game, Felix fixes all of the things Ralph wrecks and it’s game over for Ralph. But Ralph isn’t a bad guy, not in the traditional sense of the word, and he wants to break out of his routine. He does this by jumping into another game, one that will make him a hero, but in the process he risks the lives of everyone else in Fix It Felix world, because without Ralph, they have no game.
 
Wreck-It Ralph, like most Disney movies, has an easy to follow premise. But it succeeds due to the finer details that only Disney think of. Although I didn’t grow up in arcades, I can still appreciate the dedication that has gone into not only re-creating these games* for the movie, but also creating the lives of the characters in them. This is where Disney truly excel. 
 
The scene where Ralph is at ‘Bad-Anon’, which is basically alcoholics anonymous for bad guys, is so well thought out and executed you can’t help but love every bad guy in that room. And if it doesn’t make you look at bad guys in your gaming worlds differently, then nothing will. 
 
The voice work and animation are both superb as you would also expect, but Wreck-It Ralph’s heart lies in showing us something we all want in our own lives, acceptance, and then making the characters work for it. 
 
Kids and adults alike will both get a lot from Ralph. Seeing it certainly didn’t wreck my day. And if you get to the cinema early enough you’ll also see the Oscar winning animated short film Paperman. Worth the admission alone. 7 out of 10. 
 
*All of the games featured in the movie are real games. Seriously. Go to You Tube, the games are on there!
Viewing Date – 8th February 2013
UK Release Date – 8th February 2013
 
Cast Overview:
(If you don’t like knowing who the voices are DONT SCROLL DOWN! ;0)
John C Reilly ~ Ralph
Sarah Silverman ~ Vanellope
Jack McBrayer ~ Felix
Jane Lynch ~ Calhoun
Alan Tudyk ~ King Candy
Mindy Kaling ~ Taffyta Muttonfudge
Ed O’Neill ~ Mr Litwak

Director ~ Rich Moore
Writer(s) ~ Rich Moore (Story), Phil Johnston (Story and Screenplay), Jim Reardon (Story), Jennifer Lee (Screenplay)

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Monsters, Inc. 3D

My regular readers will know that I love Disney movies. My first cinematic memory is of seeing Bambi, and then being traumatised for life obviously. That aside, in recent years I have developed an even greater love of Disney Pixar movies. As the sister of an artist/animator I have always had an in-built appreciation for the painstaking process that goes into each frame, and I’m of the mind that Pixar’s team not only pick out the best stories, but they animate them so beautifully that if you don’t love them you must have a heart made of stone.
 
Monsters, Inc. was the first Pixar movie that I fell in love with. At that time I’d not seen Toy Story but even if I had I think Mike and Sulley would have surpassed any feelings I had for Woody and Buzz. The subsequent Pixar movies, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and even Wall.E were all wonderful but somehow the lovable monsters are always the ones I come back to. I will always remember seeing Monsters, Inc. for the first time. I was with my ex boyfriend and I cried like a baby when *spoiler alert* Boo had to go home. I still do. His reaction to my waterworks was less than understanding and made me feel ridiculous. I now refer back to my earlier statement that if you don’t love them you must have a heart made of stone. It’s now a requirement of any suitor that you have to have a love of Disney movies to date me.
 
So you can probably understand that with the impending release of Monsters University later this year, I was somewhat thrilled at the re-release of Monsters, Inc. in 3D.
 
For anyone who doesn’t know the story, Mike and Sulley are the top team of scarers at Monsters Incorporated, the industry that makes energy for the monster world by capturing children’s screams. One day Sulley finds a door, the gateway between the monster world and the human world, when the scare floor should be empty. He accidentally uncovers a plot by the second best scarer, Randall, to beat his score by kidnapping children. Meanwhile, the child Randall had planned to kidnap has escaped into the monster world. Believing children to be toxic to them, Sulley and Mike must try to find the girl and return her to the human world, whilst also putting an end to Randall’s scheming ways.
 
Monsters, Inc. is not the most plot heavy of the Pixar movies but it’s colourful and lively for kids whilst also having enough in jokes for the adults to keep them entertained. The voice actors do a fantastic job of making these characters lovable and memorable. And every time I hear the name ‘Kitty’ I will always well up a little bit. The animation is gorgeous, between the individual hairs that can be seen on Sulley and the expressions captured in Boo’s perfect human face I can’t fault the animators here one bit. It’s all so well done.
 
If you haven’t seen Monsters, Inc. I highly recommend it in 3D. And if you have, well then you know how great it is. Get down to your nearest cinema and see it again! 9.5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 3rd February 2013
UK Release Date – 18th January 2013
 
Cast Overview:
(If you don’t like knowing who the voices are DONT SCROLL DOWN! ;0)
John Goodman ~ James P “Sulley” Sullivan
Billy Crystal ~ Mike Wazowski
Mary Gibbs ~ Boo
Steve Buscemi ~ Randall Boggs
James Coburn ~ Henry J Waternoose
Jennifer Tilly ~ Celia
Bob Peterson ~ Roz
John Ratzenberger ~ The Abominable Snowman
 
Director(s) ~ Pete Docter, David Silverman (Co-Director) and Lee Unkrich (Co-Director)
Writer(s) ~ Pete Docter (Original Story), Jill Culton (Original Story), Jeff Pidgeon (Original Story), Ralph Eggleston (Original Story), Andrew Stanton (Screenplay), Daniel Gerson (Screenplay), Robert Baird (Additional Screenplay Material), Rhett Reese (Additional Screenplay Material) and Jonathan Roberts (Additional Screenplay Material).

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Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty was not a movie that I anticipated seeing, or wanting to see, when I first heard about it. As much as the story seemed like an interesting one  there was no particular element that drew me in. Sure, The Hurt Locker was an amazing feat but was that just down to the charisma of the leading man? This was going to be another film set in the middle east for Kathryn Bigelow and I wasn’t sure she could pull this one off if I’m honest.
 
It wasn’t until two of my best friends stepped in that I started to change my mind. One of my friends, who’s based in the US, went to see the film before it was released here and raved about it. Then, in a move that surprised me and rocked my very foundations, my bff here suggested we go to see it. This is a girl more likely to cry at disney movies than I am, wanting to go see a film about Bin Laden? Well alrighty then!
 
For those who think this is all Zero Dark Thirty is, allow me to elaborate. The story actually centers on a group of CIA operatives who, over the course of a decade, are trying to locate Bin Laden by any means necessary. This involves some interrogation of those affiliated with him, tracking his couriers across Afghanistan and performing high level surveillance of houses they believed he occupied. All of this eventually leading to his believed location and a mission carried out by Navy SEALs to hunt him down.
 
In the forefront of all of this action, and I suppose this is where the story really surprises a lot of people, is a woman. Maya, played by the impeccable Jessica Chastain, starts out as a fairly reserved character, watching, listening, taking advice, all the while learning about the enemy and how best to defeat him. Over time she becomes stronger and more able to make the tough decisions than the men around her and eventually comes out victorious after 10 long years. But this is a Kathryn Bigelow movie. It’s not about winning the war, it’s about what the war takes from you. And this is why Kathryn Bigelow was the perfect person to take on this project. Not because it’s a story with a strong female lead. We know from Bigelow’s previous films that she directs men as well, if not better than, women. No, the real reason she was perfect for this film is because she is able to tell a story about the aftermath of war, as much as she capable of showing us the war itself.
 
A lot has been said about the torture scenes in this film but I actually found them to be quite mild. Anyone who has seen Rendition, the movie with Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal, will know a hard hitting torture scene when they see one. I have long been a fan of gory horror movies but even I found some of those scenes hard to stomach. By comparison I didn’t feel like the torture scenes in this movie were that bad. And they were necessary to show the evolution of Maya’s character. 
 
I would definitely recommend seeing Zero Dark Thirty, even if it’s not the type of film you would normally see. I guarantee that whatever you think you know about this film is not a true representation of what you get out of seeing it. So go see it. 8 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 2nd February 2013
UK Release Date – 11th January 2013 
 
Cast Overview:
Jessica Chastain ~ Maya
Jason Clarke ~ Dan
Joel Edgerton ~ Patrick
Mark Strong ~ George Wright
Jennifer Ehle ~ Jessica
Kyle Chandler ~ Joseph Bradley
Chris Pratt ~ Justin
Taylor Kinney ~ Jared
Stephen Dillane ~ National Security Advisor
Harold Perrineau ~ Jack
James Gandolfini ~ Leon Panetta
 
Director ~ Kathryn Bigelow
Writer ~ Mark Boal

Movie Review Catch Up ~ January 2013

Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad seemed to be a long time coming. It was initially due for release around the same time as Lawless but was postponed by the cinema shooting in Aurora as the film featured a scene involving a shoot out at a cinema. 
 
I’m not sure that January was the best time to release the finished film, not when cinemas at the moment seem to be full of Oscar contenders. But I guess as it’s not likely to be a contender for awards it’s probably as good a time as any for an old fashioned gangster film.
 
The film is loosely based on the story of Mob boss Mickey Cohen and how the Los Angeles police force formed a secret squad of officers who’s sole purpose was to take him down.
 
I know several guys at my work who really loved this film, however me and my two friends I saw it with definitely found it left us less than impressed. The acting is solid and if I’m honest I do struggle to say what was wrong with the film. It just felt lacklustre, over long and repetative in places with one shoot out after another. I guess that was the whole point, this being a gangster film, but it just got boring after a while. 
 
The scenes depicting the family lives of the cops were a nice touch and definitely gave the characters more depth but they felt a little like fillers for the big shoot outs and that’s where the film became bland and uninspired for me.
 
If your a fan of those involved or have a particular love of gangster films then you’ll probably think this is a great way to spend 2+ hours. If not then I’d say there’s not much here for you. 6 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 15th January 2013
UK Release Date – 11th January 2013
Cast Overview:
Josh Brolin ~ Sergeant John O’Mara
Ryan Gosling ~ Sergeant Jerry Wooters
Sean Penn ~ Mickey Cohen
Emma Stone ~ Grace Faraday
Nick Nolte ~ Bill Parker
Anthony Mackie ~ Detective Coleman Harris
Giovanni Ribisi ~ Detective Conwell Keeler
Robert Patrick ~ Detective Max Kennard
Michael Peña ~ Detective Navidad Ramirez
Director ~ Ruben Fleischer
Writer(s) ~ Will Beall and Paul Lieberman (book)

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Life Of Pi

Mini Blog
Right from the word go I was in two minds about Life of Pi. I wanted to see it because it’s Ang Lee and generally I like his movies. I also love Tigers so that made it kind of a given. But it looked kinda dull and unappealing from the trailer. Then it had lots of good reviews and then it had lots of award nominations. But my friends had all seen it and no-one had raved about it? Mmmm. Definite quandry. 
 
So I bit the bullet and went to see it. And I have to say that I really wasn’t all that impressed. It was pretty much the exact film I thought it was going to be. Visually quite stunning – although the 3D wasn’t at all – and an intriguing if somewhat boring tale. For those who don’t know it, the story goes as follows: Family travel by ship to start new life, ship sinks, boy is left alone on a lifeboat with a tiger and somehow survives. See, intriguing no? But boring, yes! There is only so much time you can spend watching a boy stranded at sea with a tiger before you kinda want something else to happen! 
 
Yes Suraj Sharma’s performance is excellent, especially considering he couldn’t swim and spent most of his time surrounded by water, and then had to react to CGI animals that weren’t really there. But the film just isn’t all that great. It feels long and by the end you’re glad you’ve seen it but also glad it’s over. The CGI tiger is amazing but it’s not enough to make me want another slice of Pi. 5 out of 10. 
 
Viewing Date – 13th January 2013
UK Release Date – 20th December 2012
Cast Overview:
Suraj Sharma ~ Pi Patel
Irrfan Khan ~ Adult Pi Patel
Ayush Tandon ~ Pi Patel (11/12 years)
Adil Hussain ~ Santosh Patel
Tabu ~ Gita Patel
Mohd Abbas Khaleeli ~ Ravi Patel (13/14 years)
Vibish Sivakumar ~ Ravi Patel (18/19 years)
Rafe Spall ~ Writer
Gerard Depardieu ~ Cook
Director ~ Ang Lee
Writer(s) ~ David Magee (screenplay) and Yann Martel (novel)

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Les Misérables

Anyone who’s familiar with me or my blog knows I am not a lover of musicals. Or Amanda Seyfried. As such, Les Mis was never going to be a barrel of laughs for me. Add into that the storyline of whores and soldiers during the French Revolution and you have a pretty dire prospect on your hands. But factor in a best friend who has loved the stage show since she was 5 years old and now you hopefully understand my motivations for seeing this new adaptation.
 
The story is relatively simple to follow. Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) was imprisoned 19 years ago for stealing bread to feed his sisters child. We meet him as he is being released from prison by the fierce lawman Javert (Russell Crowe). Shortly after his release and unable to find work Jean soon finds he must steal again, but an act of kindness from the man he wrongs leads him down a path he never thought he’d know. He breaks parole but becomes a better man in the new life he leads. We find him years later running a factory but still dodging re-capture by Javert. A woman working in his factory, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), becomes a whore through no fault of her own and he makes her a promise on her deathbed to take in her child, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and care for her as if she was his own. A task he commits to until Javert discovers him and threatens to tear all of their worlds apart. 
 
Set to the backdrop of the French Revolution, the film features sumptuous costumes, stunning sets and all of the classic songs from the musical which, whether you’ve seen it or not, you’ll find you somehow still know the words to I Dreamed A Dream, Master Of The House, On My Own and Do You Hear the People Sing? The film also features some new songs but these never quite fit with the originals.
 
The actors put their all into their respective roles but there is still something silly to me when they suddenly burst into song or sing lines that you feel should be spoken. I must admit though that I fell to pieces when Anne Hathaway sang I Dreamed A Dream. I’d heard that the majority of songs had been performed live on set when they were filming, and I must say that this worked perfectly in the case of this song as Hathaway’s performance was so raw in this scene that you felt every emotion in the lyrics. I was literally sobbing when that scene came to an end and it took me some time to compose myself. The rousing cast numbers definitely made you want to join in and as such I think a singalong Les Mis would probably be very well received by fans.
 
Seyfried wasn’t so bad and Eddie Redmayne who I’d previously thought of as being slightly creepy was similarly watchable. The most annoying performance for me was that of Russell Crowe. He was just too pompous as Javert and seemed to be shouting his songs. Definitely the least talented singer of the bunch but he tried and I give him snaps for that. 
 
I think if you’re a fan of the musical, slightly curious or a fan of the actors involved then you definitely shouldn’t miss seeing Les Mis. If you hate musicals or depressing films then avoid it like the plague! 7 out of 10. 
 
Viewing Date – 11th January 2013
UK Release Date – 11th January 2013
Cast Overview:
Hugh Jackman ~ Jean Valjean
Russell Crowe ~ Javert
Anne Hathaway ~ Fantine
Amanda Seyfried ~ Cosette
Sacha Baron Cohen ~ Thénardier
Helena Bonham Carter ~ Madame Thénardier
Eddie Redmayne ~ Marius
Aaron Tveit ~ Enjolras
Samantha Banks ~ Éponine
Daniel Huttlestone ~ Gavroche
 
Director ~ Tom Hooper
Writer(s) ~ Claude-Michel Schönberg (book), Alain Boublil (book and original French text), Victor Hugo (novel), Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics), Jean-Marc Natel (original French text), James Fenton (additional text) and William Nicholson (screenplay)

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Jack Reacher

Mini Review
Jack Reacher is a film based on a series of books, about a former Army Major who is now a drifter and investigator. He’s called in to investigate when a military sniper apparently kills five people in a random shooting. 
 
I wasn’t sure that I particularly wanted to see Jack Reacher but I wanted to catch up on films I’d missed over Christmas, and this was one of the few that was still in cinemas. I’m not a huge fan of Tom Cruise but having his name attached to a film doesn’t put me off either. I would usually only go out of my way to see a Cruise film if there was another person of interest involved. I think that’s why I hesitated over Jack Reacher as I’m not exactly a fan of anyone else in the film.
 
Having said that, the film did keep me interested for the most part, the only times I waivered slightly were during the overlong car chase and the ending. I can’t comment on the casting of Cruise as I haven’t read the Jack Reacher novels, although I am familiar with the fact that he’s not exactly the kind of actor fans would have expected to be cast in the role. For me, he did a fine job in the movie, exuding charisma and likability under that mask of mystery. Pike and Jenkins were also fine support. If anything it’s the characters themselves that were the problem as only Reacher seemed to have any real depth or something different about him. Everyone else seemed to be very much a caricature and that made it hard to take them seriously. 
 
The stunts weren’t as flashy as we’ve come to expect from Cruise but the fight work was impressive. I just came away from Jack Reacher without any real feeling for the film either way. I didn’t regret my two hours in the cinema, but at the same time I did think they could have been better spent. And it’s certainly not a film that I will rush to see again.
 
If you’re a fan of Cruise it’s a must, if you like the books then I’d see it just so you know what all the fuss is about. For everyone else I’d say it’s just okay. 6 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 9th January 2013
UK Release Date – 26th December 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Tom Cruise ~ Jack Reacher
Rosamund Pike ~ Helen Rodin
Richard Jenkins ~ Rodin
David Oyelowo ~ Emerson
Werner Herzog ~ The Zec
Jai Courtney ~ Charlie
Joseph Sikora ~ Barr
Robert Duvall ~ Cash
 
Director ~ Christopher McQuarrie
Writer(s) ~ Christopher McQuarrie (Screenplay) and Lee Child (Book)

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Mini Blog
When Lord Of The Rings came out I worked in a cinema. Hard to believe that was more than 10 years ago. How time flies. And now Peter Jackson’s gone and made three more incredibly ass numbing films. Yay!
 
I know that sounds like I don’t like the Lord Of The Rings movies. I do. I’m just not crazy about them. For example, I own all three (extended editions no less) but I haven’t watched them for a very long time. And I haven’t seen Return Of The King other than the one time I saw it at the cinema.
 
But I still wanted to see The Hobbit. I have not read the book and I know for many this will be a turn off point of the review. How can you possibly judge the film without first reading the book it’s based on? Well simple, because this is a film review, not a book review and as someone who has read a lot of books that have been made into films I can say that many a time, one has little bearing on the other. Endings change, entire plot lines change, characters change. So really I don’t think I need to have read the book in order to judge the film-making process here.
 
I’m not going to go into the story as it’s basically ‘Hobbit goes on an adventure’, just like it says in the trailer. What I will say is that if you’re a fan of the Lord Of The Rings movies this will be right up your street as Jackson stays pretty much on point, with casting, with costumes, with make up, with everything. The only thing that’s slightly different, and I think it’s because I saw it in 3D (which I didn’t think really added anything), is that the film seemed to be speeded up in places. Like they’d fast forwarded through a scene? I didn’t particularly enjoy that feeling and it was all the way through the film.
 
Other than that I enjoyed The Hobbit. Yes it was long but it was beautiful to look at, perfectly cast and with a few surprises along the way owing to my lack of reading. And as the adventure has only just begun I can definitely say that I’ll be back for parts 2 and 3. But I may take a cushion. 8 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 6th January 2013
UK Release Date – 13th December 2012
Cast Overview:
Ian McKellan ~ Gandalf
Martin Freeman ~ Bilbo
Richard Armitage ~ Thorin
Ken Stott ~ Balin
James Nesbitt ~ Bofur
Dean O’Gorman ~ Fili
Aiden Turner ~ Kili
Ian Holm ~ Old Bilbo
Hugo Weaving ~ Elrond
Cate Blanchett ~ Galadriel
Andy Serkis ~ Gollum
Sylvester McCoy ~ Radagast
Director ~ Peter Jackson
Writer(s) ~ Fran Walsh (Screenplay), Philippa Boyens (Screenplay), Peter Jackson (Screenplay), Guillermo del Toro (Screenplay) and J.R.R. Tolkien (Novel The Hobbit)

Movie Review Catch Up ~ December 2012

Pitch Perfect


I was a little unsure about Pitch Perfect upon seeing the initial trailer. Although it looked funny I’m not a fan of musicals or musical type films with lots of singing. And it also looked kinda cheesy. Eventually though I caved and decided to give Pitch Perfect a chance.

The film tells the story of Beca (Anna Kendrick), a girl who dreams of going to LA and being a music producer but who has made a deal with her father to spend one year in college. If at the end of that year she still wants nothing more than to produce the kind of music she loves, then he’ll pay for her to go to LA himself. But the catch is that she has to make an effort in college, she has to make friends. And in order to do this Beca reluctantly joins the Barden Bella’s, an a cappella, all girl singing group. Their aim is to reach the final of a singing competition that they so spectacularly failed at the year before when one of the primary members of the Bella’s lost her lunch all over the front row of spectators. Will Beca be able to turn their luck around?

So my reservations were that this was a singing film that looked kinda cheesy. Yes there is singing, but it’s surprisingly good singing that gets your foot tapping in time with the music. And yes, the film is cheesy, but this is one of it’s charms, it’s intentionally cheesy in parts. It’s also a charming and likable film, much like it’s characters.

My only criticism would be the amount of vomit in the film. As I mentioned in the summary, the opening scene features the Bella’s previous performance and due to some horrendous stage fright one of the girls projectile vomits all over the audience. I get it, it’s supposed to be gross out funny. The thing is that this film really didn’t need a gross out scene to work. Let alone does it need TWO of them! As someone who has a hard time seeing other people throw up I found the opening scene bad enough, but when there was a second, even more graphic vomiting scene later on in the movie I’d had about as much as I could stomach. Literally. It was unnecessary and had gone way beyond the point of funny.

This aside I genuinely liked the film. I thought it had plenty of sass, determination and heart. It was a little predictable but what films aren’t these days? If you’re not so fragile when it comes to ‘up chuck’ then I’d definitely recommend Pitch Perfect. 7 out of 10.

 
Viewing Date – 30th December 2012
UK Release Date – 21st December 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Anna Kendrick ~ Beca
Skylar Astin ~ Jesse
Ben Platt ~ Benji
Brittany Snow ~ Chloe
Anna Kamp ~ Aubrey
Rebel Wilson ~ Fat Amy
Alexis Knapp ~ Stacie
Ester Dean ~ Cynthia Rose
 
Director ~ Jason Moore
Writer(s) ~ Kay Cannon (Screenplay) and Mickey Rapkin (Book)

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Gremlins

I have been a fan of Gremlins for a long time but was too young to see it at the cinema when it was first released back in 1984 (I was only 3 at the time!). So when it recently got a brief Christmas re-release I was very excited to see it on the big screen. 
 
For anyone not familiar with the movie it tells the tale of an inventor who discovers a small creature called a mogwai in a store in chinatown and buys it as a Christmas present for his son. The mogwai comes with a set of rules though. You don’t know the rules?!?! Well the first rule is don’t get the mogwai wet, don’t give him water to drink, don’t give him a bath, absolutely no water. The second rule is don’t feed him after midnight, not even a crumb. The third rule is don’t expose him to bright light, sunlight will kill him. Of course no-one ever plays by the rules so poor little Gizmo (that’s what they name him) gets wet, his offspring get fed after midnight and chaos ensues as Gremlins take over the small town.
 
Gremlins is a classic by any standard but seeing it on the big screen made it even more magical. Sure some of the effects featuring a mass amount of Gremlins haven’t really stood the test of time but it’s cinema peeps! Use your imagination! It’s a great story, well acted and has that wonderful Christmassy feel to it. But the great thing about Gremlins is that it still manages to give you those frights and jumps every now and again, and laughs too. It’s a wonderful mix of comedy, horror, love story and fantasy adventure and all wrapped up in a Christmas bow. 
 
And if the last scene doesn’t have you blubbing like a baby (which it always does to me), well then I wonder if you have a heart at all. A well deserved round of audience applause at the end gives Gremlins my only 10 out of 10 of 2012.

Best line: “To hear, one has only to listen.” Gets me every time! 
 
Viewing Date – 11th December 2012
Original UK Release Date – 7th December 1984
Cast Overview:
Zach Galligan ~ Billy Peltzer
Phoebe Cates ~ Kate Beringer
Hoyt Axton ~ Randall Peltzer
Francis Lee McCain ~ Lynn Peltzer
Corey Feldman ~ Pete Fountaine
Keye Luke ~ Mr Wing
John Louie ~ Mr Wing’s Grandson
Dick Miller ~ Murray Futterman
Jackie Joseph ~ Sheila Futterman
Polly Holliday ~ Mrs Deagle
Hudge Reinhold ~ Gerald Hopkins
Director ~ Joe Dante
Writer ~ Chris Columbus

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End Of Watch

Anyone who follows my little review blog on a regular basis will know that I have my fair few crushes on movie men (and occasionally on film females too ;0), but anyone who’s followed my blog since last year – back when it was Film Reviews 2011 – will know that Jake Gyllenhaal is my prince among men. As such I look forward to his movies above all others, and where possible I see them as many times as I can at the cinema. Jake actually holds my record for the most multiple viewings of a film EVER with a total of 8 trips to see Brokeback Mountain.

Since 2011’s magnificent Source Code however, it’s been quite the wait for another Jake Gyllenhaal film. I believe this has had something to do with his appearance in the off-Broadway play ‘If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet’, but it could also have something to do with the fact that there are several films on his IMDb filmography that state they’re in post production. A state that I recall seeing them in more than a year ago. Having said this, End Of Watch did kind of creep up on me as I thought it was further down the line than some of Jake’s other movies, and before I knew it, it was being released. 

 
The film has been shot documentary style to capture the gritty realism of a day in the life of a cop in South Central Los Angeles. We follow LAPD officers Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Miguel Zavala (Michael Peña) as they do their daily rounds, car chases, checking on the elderly, toning down house parties is all just part of their daily routines, but when the two officers start homing in on gang members in South Central they soon find that they are the ones being targeted.
 
Let me start by saying that this is not my kind of movie. At all. But having said that, I am glad that Jake made it as I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise, and overall I am glad I’ve seen it. Maybe with someone else in the role of Taylor I wouldn’t have liked the film as much, but as it was I thought Jake was great and he had a good spark with Peña. Their chemistry made their partnership believable, which in turn leant a lot of weight to the film. And the film certainly surprised me, in more ways than one. 
 
The only thing I didn’t really like about it, and this will seem really frivolous, was the swearing. Just to put into context, one of my favourite gritty, true to life films is The Town. There is a lot of swearing in The Town. But not every other word. It just takes the whole thing from being realistic and believable to the exact opposite of the scale. No-one, I don’t care what scummy town they come from or how little of a good upbringing they’ve had, no-one says the f word every other word. Yet one character in End Of Watch did just that. EVERY F*CKIN OTHER F*CKIN WORD. F*CK. It was just ridiculous and really hampered my enjoyment of the film.
 
Therefore, my recommendations for End Of Watch are as follows. If you enjoy gritty cop docu-drama’s and don’t mind the f bombs, you’ll like this. If swearing, guns and drugs are not your bag, avoid. 6.5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 5th December 2012
UK Release Date – 23rd November 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Jake Gyllenhaal ~ Brian Taylor
Michael Peña ~ Miguel Zavala
Natalie Martinez ~ Gabby
Anna Kendrick ~ Janet
David Harbour ~ Van Hauser
America Ferrera ~ Orozco 
Cody Horn ~ Davis
 
Director/Writer ~ David Ayer

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Silver Linings Playbook

As a fan of both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence I was looking forward to seeing Silver Linings Playbook as soon as I saw the trailer for it a couple of months ago. 
 
The film tells the story of Pat (Bradley Cooper), who was diagnosed bipolar and admitted to a mental health facility following the breakdown of his marriage. We meet him just as he is being released from the facility to the care of his parents, although Pat is unwilling to come to terms with the fact that his marriage is over. Whilst rebuilding his life, Pat becomes friends with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a depressed young woman who is unconventionally coming to terms with being made a widow by sleeping with everyone in her office, causing her to lose her job. Tiffany persuades Pat to join her in a dance competition by promising him she will pass messages onto his estranged wife, but is she looking for more than a dance partner?
 
I must admit that I not only really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook but I also found it quite a refreshingly sweet natured film with very little swearing and no sex scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good love scene as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s nice for a film to be the kind of film you could take your mum to see. Bearing in mind the fact that film also stars Robert De Niro, I think a lot of people will be surprised to see that this is such a tame film in terms of the lack of swearing and violence.
 
The only issues I had with Silver Linings is that it could have been funnier, and it is a tad on the predictable side, but neither of these niggles affected my overall opinion or enjoyment of the film. Cooper, Lawrence and De Niro – who I have never been a fan of – all put in solid performances and you find it very easy to like the characters they play, genuinely caring what happens to them. 
 
If you like your rom coms to come with honest dialogue and a backdrop of emotional problems, but ultimately to have a warm heart, then you’ll like this one a lot. 8 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 4th December 2012
UK Release Date – 21st November 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Bradley Cooper ~ Pat
Jennifer Lawrence ~ Tiffany
Robert De Niro ~ Pat Snr
Jacki Weaver ~ Dolores
Chris Tucker ~ Danny
Anupam Kher ~ Dr Cliff Patel
John Ortiz ~ Ronnie
Shea Whigham ~ Jake
Julia Stiles ~ Veronica
 
Director ~ David O Russell
Writer(s) ~ David O Russell (Screenplay) and Matthew Quick (Novel) 

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Ruby Sparks

 

A few months ago I posted a guest review of Ruby Sparks with the promise of a Lady K review to follow. Unfortunately I then missed my opportunity to see the film as it was only out at my local cinema for a week.

This weekend I happened to be up in London and decided to swing by my favourite Independent Cinema, The Prince Charles Cinema. I have spoken of my love for this place in many other reviews so I won’t harp on about it here. I planned to see what was on and pick up a brochure of coming events. It was then, at 3pm, that I noticed that Ruby Sparks was showing at 3.35pm. Feeling like it was fate for me to be there, at my favourite cinema, with only half an hour to go before the screening of a film I’d missed and had so wanted to see, I decided to treat myself and see whether my guest reviewer was right when she said it was awesome.

Ruby Sparks tells the story of Calvin (Paul Dano), a writer who is suffering from a severe case of writers block. His shrink gives him an assignment to write about his timid dog Scottie, and how people interact with him. That night Calvin dreams of a girl who does exactly what his shrink had suggested and so he writes about her instead. Calvin’s dreams become his inspiration and soon, without any idea of the how’s or why’s, Calvin’s dream girl, Ruby (Zoe Kazan), appears before him. Thinking he’s gone insane, Calvin sets off to prove to himself that Ruby is a figment of his overactive imagination. But he is soon faced with the realisation that not only is Ruby real, whatever Calvin writes about her comes true. Giving him ultimate control over her thoughts, feelings, actions and emotions. The question is, what will he do with this power?

Ruby Sparks starts out as a quirky and endearing love story but quickly turns into something much more sinister. The film raises a lot of questions about control and power and how people deal with the sudden gain, and loss, of that power. While I found the premise kept me intrigued, I have to say that I wasn’t expecting the film to take such a dark path, and I wasn’t prepared for it either. In that sense, I felt that the trailer somewhat misguided audiences as to the type of film Ruby Sparks is.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliantly acted and well scripted film, but it’s also very serious and very dark in places and I don’t think the trailer prepares the audience for what lies ahead of them when they take their seats. Having said that, I did like the end result and I would recommend that others see Ruby, but I would want them to be more informed before they commit to it.

If quirky but thought provoking is your bag, and you can stomach the heavy stuff, Ruby Sparks is one for you. 7 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 2nd December 2012
UK Release Date – 12th October 2012

Cast Overview:
Paul Dano ~ Calvin Weir-Fields
Zoe Kazan ~ Ruby Sparks
Chris Messina ~ Harry
Annette Benning ~ Gertrude
Antonio Banderas ~ Mort
Steve Coogan ~ Langdon Tharp
Elliott Gould ~ Dr Rosenthal
 
Director(s) ~ Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Writer ~ Zoe Kazan

Movie Review Catch Up ~ November 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

For my review of Breaking Dawn Part 1 (and catch up on Twilight through to Eclipse) see here. Now on to Part 2.

You will know from reading my review of BDP1 that I was and still am a big fan of the Twilight movies and books. However, as BDP2 was filmed back to back with BDP1 I couldn’t help but wonder why they weren’t released closer together. They made the fans wait a year and a half between New Moon and Eclipse and I understood that this was due to the other filming commitments of the cast, primarily Kristen Stewart filming The Runaways (hence her awful wig for Eclipse). But there was no such reason for the year long delay between BDP1 and BDP2 so I felt like this was dragged out unnecessarily. 

In the year between movies I started to grow tired of the whole franchise. The constant noise in the press about RPatz and KStew and their eventual break up over her affair with Rupert whats-his-face. It had nothing to do with the film and if it has all been a ruse to generate publicity then I feel sorry for those whose lives have been ruined along the way. I digress of course, this is a review and not the Twilight cast biography. What I guess I’m trying to say is that my enthusiasm for the Twilight films waned. And as such I found myself feeling less than excited at the prospect of ANOTHER Twilight film. 

Having said that, I decided to give the films one last chance to win me back and I booked me and my bestie tickets to the midnight screening for her birthday. We’d seen all the others at midnight (with the exception of the first film) so it felt like a tradition we should see through to the end.

We set off at 11.30pm having watched Breaking Dawn Part 1 in preparation. All bleary eyed and wondering if we were just too old for all this nonsense. Mingling with kids half our age trying to get into the club next door to the cinema. Buying coffee to keep us awake. We settled into our seats and awaited the final film in the Twilight saga. We knew how it ended of course as we’d read the books, but as I had heard that the filmmakers had changed the ending of Stephenie Meyer’s original story to be a more fitting cinematic experience, I still didn’t quite know what to expect. 

Then as the opening credits appeared, I noticed something I hadn’t seen on a Twilight movie before. A Producer credit for Stephenie. This immediately made me relax a little, and pushed my excitement up a notch. If Stephanie produced the film, surely she wouldn’t have allowed any of the changes to be detrimental to the story she wanted to tell?

The film starts immediately where BDP1 ends. Bella wakes from her deathbed a vampire. We see straight away that unlike other newborn vampires, she is restrained and well, still her. But without the awkwardness. We meet Renesmee again who has grown substantially considering she is only weeks old, and we learn, as we suspected from the end of BDP1, that Jacob has ‘imprinted’ on her. We soon find out that the Volturi, the Italian vampire clan who keep the vampire world a secret from humans, have gotten wind of Edward and Bella’s immortal child and that they plan to journey to Forks to kill the Cullens once and for all. As Renesmee is not immortal, a child born of a vampire but not bitten, Edward and Bella must gather those willing to stand up to the Volturi in order to protect their daughter, and themselves, from certain death.

I won’t spoil the MASSIVE twist at the end but what I will say is that even those who’ve read the book will be surprised at how the filmmakers have manipulated Stephenie Meyer’s book in order to give the film audience something that the readers were sorely lacking. I think that they’ve done a wonderful job of bringing the final part of the story to the big screen and I think fans of the book and those who haven’t read it will equally enjoy what the film has to offer. 

BDP2 introduces some great characters to the saga and also some great actors. I particularly enjoyed the addition of Lee Pace to the cast as I’ve been a fan of his since I saw him in Pushing Daisies. I must also say that the existing cast look better in this film than they have since the first Twilight. I think they finally decided to ditch the wigs which were making actors like Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser look faintly ridiculous. 

So despite my trepidation, in the end I did enjoy BDP2 and I would recommend you see it. Even if it’s just to put that final nail in the vampire coffin. 8 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 15th November 2012
UK Release Date – 16th November 2012
Cast Overview:
Kristen Stewart ~ Bella Swan
Robert Pattinson ~ Edward Cullen
Taylor Lautner ~ Jacob Black
Peter Facinelli ~ Dr Carlisle Cullen
Elizabeth Reaser ~ Esme Cullen
Ashley Greene ~ Alice Cullen
Jackson Rathbone ~ Jasper Hale
Kellan Lutz ~ Emmett Cullen
Nikki Reed ~ Rosalie Hale
Billy Burke ~ Charlie Swan
Chaske Spencer ~ Sam Uley
Mackenzie Foy ~ Renesmee
Maggie Grace ~ Irina
Jamie Campbell Bower ~ Caius
Christopher Heyerdahl ~ Marcus
Michael Sheen ~ Aro
Daniel Cudmore ~ Felix
Charlie Bewley ~ Demetri
Dakota Fanning ~ Jane
Cameron Bright ~ Alec
MyAnna Buring ~ Tanya
Mia Maestro ~ Carmen
Lee Pace ~ Garrett
Noel Fisher ~ Vladimir
Julia Jones ~ Leah
Booboo Stewart ~ Seth
 
Director ~ Bill Condon
Writer(s) ~ Melissa Rosenberg (Screenplay) and Stephenie Meyer (Novel) 

~

The Sapphires

Mini Review
The Sapphires tells the story of an Aboriginal girl group in the 60s that’s made up of three sisters and one cousin. Whilst trying to win a local talent contest the girls are spotted by Irish music manager Dave (Chris O’Dowd), who takes them on tour to Vietnam to entertain US troops.

If the film sounds like a strange mix, that’s because it is that. But a delightful one. It’s based on a true story which I think says it all, a story so crazy it must be true! The film is funny, touching and will have you on side in minutes. If you aren’t singing along and rooting for the girls to succeed by the end then you must have a heart of stone. 

O’Dowd is his usual charming self and was definitely the key for me as I think the story might have lacked some of it’s comedy value without him. What surprised me was his chemistry with Deborah Mailman as I worried that their budding romance might feel a bit forced. Quite the contrary, despite the fact that I’d not seen Mailman in anything before, I found her to be a feisty leading lady and relished her scenes with O’Dowd. 
 
If you’re looking for a feel good film with a funny bone, look no further! The Sapphires satisfies on every level. 8 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 15th November 2012
UK Release Date – 7th November 2012

Cast Overview:
Chris O’Dowd ~ Dave
Deborah Mailman ~ Gail
Jessica Mauboy ~ Julie
Shari Sebbens ~ Kay
Miranda Tapsell ~ Cynthia
 
Director ~ Wayne Blair
Writer(s) ~ Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson

~

Argo

 
I went to see Ben Affleck’s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone with my good friend and occasional guest reviewer, Faye. As you might have guessed from her reviews, she is not a woman of many words. But what she does say does tend to resonate and have meaning. Needless to say we both loved Gone Baby Gone and when we discovered Ben had made another film, The Town, we went to see that one too. And loved it. 
 
When we discovered that a third film had been directed by Mr Affleck we again had to see it, together, as we had the two previous films. But this time we allowed a third person into the mix, a person who had not seen the two previous Ben Affleck directed movies. So the other night we set about rectifying this with a screening of his first film Gone Baby Gone. As we settled down to watch it I commented that I felt like our friendship had formed over a mutual love of Ben Affleck movies. And in a sense I believe it was. 
 
I hadn’t seen Gone Baby Gone since the initial viewing at the cinema and neither had Faye. But it was just as good as we remembered and I urge anyone who’s not seen that or The Town to rent them at the first available opportunity. 
 
Argo, on the other hand is a very different beast to those first two movies which are set in present day Boston. Argo is set in late 70s, and the location is split between Iran and Hollywood. Not exactly two places that you would expect to go hand in hand. But then this movie is based on a true story. One of US Embassy Diplomats working in Iran, who escape the Embassy when it’s raided by Iranian revolutionaries, and who hide out in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. In order to get them safely out of Iran, the CIA’s top extraction expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), concocts a cover story of them being a team of Hollywood hotshots, on a location scout for a science fiction film called Argo. Will this hair brained idea actually work?
 
Well I won’t spoil it of course, but what I will say is that the 30 or so minutes set in the airport at the end of the movie, were so intense that I not only held my own hand to get me through it, I don’t think I breathed! 
 
The cast is a tight ensemble and film is as well acted, scripted, shot and produced as any of Affleck’s previous movies. The difference for me was that you feel like you’ve learned something when you walk out of the cinema from seeing Argo. And in my book, that is never a bad thing. So see his other movies but most importantly, see Argo. And you’ll forever be saying “Argo f*ck yourself” to those you’ve seen it with. 9 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 8th November 2012
UK Release Date – 7th November 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Ben Affleck ~ Tony Mendez
Bryan Cranston ~ Jack O’Donnell
Alan Arkin ~ Lester Siegel
John Goodman ~ John Chambers
Victor Garber ~ Ken Taylor
Tate Donovan ~ Bob Anders
Clea DuVall ~ Cora Lijek
Christopher Denham ~ Mark Lijek
Scoot McNairy ~ Joe Stafford
Kerry Bishe ~ Kathy Stafford
Rory Cochrane ~ Lee Schatz
Kyle Chandler ~ Hamilton Jordan
 
Director ~ Ben Affleck
Writer(s) ~ Chris Terrio (Screenplay) and Joshuah Bearman (Article)

~

Rust And Bone

I will admit that when I went to see Rust And Bone this weekend I didn’t know it was a subtitled movie. I probably should have guessed by the fact that there was no dialogue in the trailer. Personally I just thought that was a clever way of making the movie look good with the use of imagery and music alone. The reason I’m telling you is so that I can beg you, please, please don’t let that put you off this movie.
 
In the film we meet Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a former boxer who has taken his son Sam away from a seemingly unstable home in Belgium in order to live with his sister and her partner in France. Whilst working as bouncer he meets the beautiful but strong willed Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), who by day trains Killer whales in the local Marine Wildlife Centre. After an accident during a whale show leaves Stephanie having to start her life over again, she finds that Ali is one of the few people she can turn to who still treats her like the person she was before. But will he let her down when she needs him the most?
 
I felt pulled into this film from the opening scene where Ali and Sam make their way from Belgium to France, and it didn’t let go of me until way after the credits had rolled. The performances, particularly from Schoenaerts and Cotillard are so perfect that I find it hard to articulate just how good they both were. Both showed great heart and determination in their respective roles and really made you feel for their characters, even when they weren’t being particularly likable. 
 
The film is very realistically shot but still retains beauty in almost every frame. The script sparks in both it’s honesty and humor and the score compliments the movie perfectly. I honestly have nothing bad to say. Even the ending, which I thought I had predicted to a tee, managed to surprise me.
 
I don’t often beg, but I urge you to see this movie now. It deserves to be seen by as many people as possible and by next weekend it may have been replaced at your local cinema by some other Hollywood blockbuster that isn’t as worthy of your time or money. Bond is sold out, so wait until next week to see it. Don’t miss out on Rust and Bone. See it now. You won’t regret it. 9.5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 4th November 2012
UK Release Date – 2nd November 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Marion Cotillard ~ Stephanie
Matthias Schoenaerts ~ Alain van Versch
Armand Verdure ~ Sam
Celine Sallette ~ Louise
Corinne Masiero ~ Anna
Bouli Lanners ~ Martial
Jean-Michel Correia ~ Richard
 
Director ~ Jacques Audiard
Writer(s) ~ Jacques Audiard (Screenplay), Thomas Bidegain (Screenplay) and Craig Davidson (Story)

Movie Review Catch Up ~ October 2012

Looper

Although I’m not a particular fan of anyone involved in Looper, I do like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt and have definitely found their recent performances (Gordon-Levitt in Inception and 500 Days Of Summer and Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau and The Young Victoria) make me want to see more of their films. Ole Brucie though I can take or leave (sorry Becki). 
 
As far as 80s action heroes go I was always a fan of Sly in my youth, and can appreciate a bit of Arnie cheese, but Bruce just never impressed me. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t avoid a Bruce Willis movie, I just don’t feel that strongly about him either way. 
 
So Looper was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The main thing that put me off was the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt didn’t look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In order to make him look like a young Bruce Willis the filmmakers made the decision to put Gordon-Levitt in prosthetic make up. Something I think was unnecessary as I didn’t think it made him look any more like Bruce Willis than Emily Blunt did. He had the mannerisms, the walk, the voice, everything, so why bother with make up that didn’t actually add anything to the performance? Now I know I’m going to stir controversy with that comment as I know that some people who’ve seen Looper did think it made a difference but for me, they didn’t need to do that. I think it caused me more confusion that Joseph Gordon-Levitt didn’t look like himself than trying to reconcile that he was supposed to be a young Bruce. If he’d not worn the prosthetics I think I’d have found it easier to concentrate on his performance.
 
The film centers on Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who works as a Looper in the year 2044. Loopers are described as garbage men, taking out the future’s trash. A lot of things have changed by 2044 but time travel has not yet been invented. Skip another 30 years into the future and it has been, so when the people of 2074 want someone gone, they zap them back in time and the Loopers kill the target and dispose of the body. The only problem with taking out the future’s trash is that at some point you’ll need to dispose of yourself. That’s where old Joe comes in, played by Bruce Willis. But will young Joe be able to kill his future self?
 
I’m not going to spoil it for you but needless to say if you can get over the prosthetics, Looper is a well written, directed and acted sci-fi thriller that will keep you hooked til the credits roll. As one of my friends pointed out in a review she wrote for the film, although this could have been a brain bending sci-fi film, it’s all laid out so clearly that you never find yourself not understanding it. That’s surely a tribute to all involved that they made a film that’s easy to watch but still interesting, new and engaging. 
 
If you haven’t ventured out to the cinema this month I would recommend Looper but be warned, there are a few scenes that those with a delicate disposition may find hard to stomach. Me, I loved those scenes the best! :0)
7.5 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 7th October 2012
UK Release Date – 28th September 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ~ Joe
Bruce Willis ~ Old Joe
Emily Blunt ~ Sara
Paul Dano ~ Seth
Noah Segan ~ Kid Blue
Piper Perabo ~ Suzie
Jeff Daniels ~ Abe
 
Director/Writer ~ Rian Johnson
~

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Mini Blog
When I went to see Anna Karenina a couple of weeks back I recall that there were a LOT of trailers. There seemed to be more than the usual amount. The thing was that the film kinda sucked, but the trailers stayed with me. One was for The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Despite seeing the trailer and thinking it looked really good, on the day I went to see it, I wasn’t really feeling in the mood for a coming of age tale. I’d just come out of seeing Looper and despite not loving the prosthetics I did really like that film.
 
But I’d made a promise to my cinema buddy and I knew he’d held off seeing it, waiting for me to go with him. So I kept my promise, and I was so glad I did.
 
Wallflower is so much more than the trailer suggests. At times it’s a coming of age tale, in others a drama not afraid to touch on hard subjects, and for once I’m not talking about sex and teenage drug taking (take a note On The Road!). I’m talking about genuine hard to stomach subjects that I won’t go into here as I think you should discover it as I did, as the film rolls on. It’s not all doom and gloom though, much like real life. The film is peppered with happiness as much as it is with heartache.
 
The performances from all three leads are (I don’t want to sound pretentious here) very real. Logan Lerman is a wonderful Charlie, keeping so much hidden all the time, Emma Watson’s Sam is nothing special on the surface but when she opens up you can’t help but love her, and finally Ezra Miller, my ‘Breakthrough Performer’ (I had my own version of the Oscars – he won Breakthrough Performer – Lady K Academy Film Awards) for his role in We Need To Talk About Kevin, here giving a very different but equally satisfying performance. The youngsters are ably supported by the likes of Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Paul Rudd and the always lovable Joan Cusack. It was also nice to see Melanie Lynskey back on the big screen as I’ve loved her since Heavenly Creatures and I don’t think she gets nearly enough decent film roles.
 
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower really surprised me with how genuine, affecting, and just how brilliant it is. I haven’t read the book but I wonder how it can compete with such a beautifully made film. I’m sure those who’ve read it (and love it) will think otherwise, as I usually do when I see adaptations of novels I love. It has however, made me want to read the book, which I don’t always want to do after seeing a film adaptation. Especially one as good as this.
 
If Wallflower is still showing at a cinema near you I urge you to see it. If it isn’t then I’m sorry this review took me so long. Please rent/buy it when it comes to DVD. 9 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 7th October 2012
UK Release Date – 3rd October 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Logan Lerman ~ Charlie
Emma Watson ~ Sam
Ezra Miller ~ Patrick
Mae Whitman ~ Mary Elizabeth
Johnny Simmons ~ Brad
Paul Rudd ~ Mr Anderson
Dylan McDermott ~ Charlie’s Father
Kate Walsh ~ Charlie’s Mother
Melanie Lynskey ~ Aunt Helen
Joan Cusack ~ Dr Burton
 
Director/Writer ~ Stephen Chbosky
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On The Road

I wanted to see On The Road from the moment I heard about the people involved, I’d seen a couple of Garrett Hedlund’s performances and thought he was impressive, I’m a huge fan of Tom Sturridge, Kristen Stewart and Amy Adams. And even the addition of Kirsten Stewart, who I normally can’t stand, was not enough to put me off.
 
The film was not showing at my local Cineworld so I even elected to pay £9 to see On The Road at my local independent cinema, The Duke Of Yorks. I wish I could say it was worth it.
 
Considering the film is essentially a ‘road trip’ movie, it goes nowhere. Admittedly I have not read Jack Kerouac’s novel but if it’s as mindless, meaningless and meandering as the movie then I don’t want to read it and I have no idea why so many have, and moreover why they rave about how good it is.
 
The film is a series of strung together scenes of sex and drug taking with the occasional reflection on these characters lives and where they’re going. The problem is that there is so little known about the characters that by the time it gets to the reflection part, you don’t really care what happens to them. The actors in this film are of such a calibre that the characters could have been so much more interesting, so rich. But the actors are not given the opportunity to do anything with these characters and so we never really connect with them.
 
It’s such a pity as a film with this many amazing people in it could and should have been one of the best films of the year but instead it’s an instantly forgettable film and one which I feel robbed me of £9. Avoid. 4 out of 10. (the movie overall is a 3 but I raise it 1 point for the quality of the actors involved, it’s not their fault they had nothing to do!)
Viewing Date – 21st October 2012
UK Release Date – 12th October 2012
 
Cast Overview:
Garrett Hedlund ~ Dean Moriarty
Sam Riley ~ Sal Paradise
Kristen Stewart ~ Marylou
Tom Sturridge ~ Carlo Marx
Kirsten Dunst ~ Camille
Amy Adams ~ Jane
Viggo Mortensen ~ Old Bull Lee
Steve Buscemi ~ Tall Thin Salesman
Danny Morgan ~ Ed Dunkel
Elizabeth Moss ~ Galatea Dunkel
Terrence Howard ~ Walter
 
Director ~ Walter Salles
Writer(s) ~ Jack Kerouac (Book) and Jose Rivera (Screenplay)
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Frankenweenie

Anyone who read my review of Dark Shadows will be aware that I used to be a very big Tim Burton fan, but that in recent years he has let me down again and again to the point where I very nearly didn’t bother seeing Frankenweenie as I assumed it would be as bad as all his other recent offerings.
 
However, I did go and see Frankenweenie and I was so glad I did. Because Tim Burton is back to his cooky but heartwarming best. And all without the ‘help’ of usual collaborator Johnny Depp. This speaks volumes to me that the two of them need to stop working together (which has been my belief for a while now).
 
Not many people will know this but Tim Burton actually made Frankenweenie as a live action short film for Disney back in 1984. It tells the same story of a boy who revives his dog after it is run over by a car. It was also filmed in Black and White. Back then Disney execs deemed the film too dark and scary for children and fired Burton, who has now had the last laugh because Disney re-hired him to make this black and white stop motion version of the same film.
 
The story is also a very personal one for Burton who had a dog who died when he was a boy. Young Burton’s love of horror stories such as Frankenstein gave him the idea for the story. I think this is one of the reason’s that the film works so well. The story feels personal, and like a lot of love has been put into making it. 
 
Danny Elfman’s beautiful score brings back memories of the wonderful work he did on my favourite Tim Burton film, Edward Scissorhands, and adds the perfect finishing touch to the brilliant voice work and animation. The film brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and it’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to say that about a Tim Burton feature.
 
The fact that this has been filmed in black and white might put some people off, it might also put kids off, but if you’re a fan of old school Burton I urge you to go and see Frankenweenie and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. 7.5 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 23rd October 2012
UK Release Date – 17th October 2012
Cast Overview:
(If you don’t like knowing who the voices are DONT SCROLL DOWN! ;0)
Charlie Tahan ~ Victor Frankenstein
Catherine O’Hara ~ Mrs Frankenstein / Weird Girl / Gym Teacher
Martin Short ~ Mr Frankenstein / Mr Burgemeister / Nassor
Martin Landau ~ Mr Rzykruski
Winona Ryder ~ Elsa Van Helsing
Robert Capron ~ Bob
Conchata Ferrell ~ Bob’s Mom
 
Director ~ Tim Burton
Writer(s) ~ Leonard Ripps (Based on his Screenplay), Tim Burton (Based on his Original Idea) and John August (Screenplay)

Movie Review Catch Up ~ September 2012

The Watch

Mini Blog
As I just explained in a personal blog, I have been rather busy recently and haven’t actually been to the cinema that often in the last two months. But as promised, I will be attempting to keep on top of my reviews, although some, like this one, will unfortunately come after the film has left cinemas. Just means you’ll have more films to add to your netflix/love film lists.
 
I wasn’t familiar with The Watch until my cinema buddy pointed it out to me. I saw the trailer and thought it looked okay. I’m not a particular fan of anyone involved but then if I only saw films of people I was a fan of I wouldn’t be a very unbiased reviewer now would I?
 
I’m also not a huge fan of comedies. Mainly because I find they don’t really make me laugh all that much. Whilst The Watch didn’t have me rolling around on the floor I did walk out of the cinema saying how pleasantly surprised I was by it. The cast gelled really well, each having time to shine. And even Vince Vaughn, who I have a tendency to find annoying and over the top, was enjoyable. 
 
The film has a good mix of sci-fi, jumpy horror moments, comedy and drama to keep the most complex film fan happy and was generally an easy to follow, fun film. A surprisingly good 8 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 7th September 2012
UK Release Date – 24th August 2012
Cast Overview:
Ben Stiller ~ Evan
Vince Vaughn ~ Bob
Jonah Hill ~ Franklin
Richard Ayoade ~ Jamarcus
Rosemarie DeWitt ~ Abby
Will Forde ~ Sgt Bressman
Director ~ Akiva Schaffer
Writer(s) ~ Jared Stern, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg
~

Anna Karenina

Mini Blog

I saw the trailer for Anna Karenina when I was at the cinema with my friend who is a big fan of period dramas. We’d previously seen The Young Victoria and The Duchess together and loved both of those movies more than either of us would have guessed. Therefore as soon as we saw the trailer for Anna we knew we wanted to see it.

Unfortunately the film did not live up to the expectations. It was unnecessarily long with some sequences seeming as though they’d been included just for the sake of showing off the staging. I also felt that the film being set in a theatre didn’t really work in it’s favour. I felt like the actors should have burst into spontanious song, and if I’m honest I was disappointed that they didn’t. As a person who dislikes musicals at the best of times I’m sure this speaks volumes about how dull the whole thing was that I felt making it a musical would liven up proceedings.

Finally to the actors. Knightley was her usual pouty self, despite re-assurances from director Joe Wright that he’d put a stop to that. She’s great in some scenes but her character has a tendency to be whiny and needy which is not a great combination. The usually charasmatic Law is faced with the task of making an emotionally detached character likeable, and while you do feel sorry for him, you never really warm to him. Finally, Taylor-Johnson just feels too young to be in the role of Count Vronsky and nowhere near charming enough to win over the affections of a married noble lady.

I found the secondary stories involving Levin and Kitty and Oblonsky and Dolly held my interest a lot better than the main love triangle (if you can call it that), and especially thought that Domhnall Gleeson is one to watch.

All in all it was too long and too boring and I couldn’t wait for it to end. Which incidently felt like it should have done long before the credits rolled. A disappointing 5 out of 10.

 
Viewing Date – 20th September 2012
UK Release Date – 7th September 2012
Cast Overview:
Keira Knightley ~ Anna Karenina
Aaron Taylor-Johnson ~ Count Vronsky
Jude Law ~ Alexei Karenin
Kelly MacDonald ~ Dolly
Matthew MacFadyen ~ Oblonsky
Emily Watson ~ Countess Lydia
Olivia Williams ~ Countess Vronsky
Domhnall Gleeson ~ Levin
Alicia Vikander ~ Kitty
 
Director ~ Joe Wright 
Writer(s) ~ Tom Stoppard (Screenplay) and Leo Tolstoy (Novel)

~

ParaNorman

Mini Review

I immediately wanted to see Paranorman when I saw the trailer. As a fan of the bleaker side of childrens stories (ala Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride and the recent adaptation of Snow White) it looked right up my street.

The story focuses on Norman who is like an animated Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense in that he ‘sees dead people’. And he sees them everywhere, whether he wants to or not. It’s from one of these ‘dead people’ that he receives word of a supernatural event that is soon to take place. The rising of an 18th century witch who will terrorise their small town as payback for her wrongful death. It’s up to Norman and his band of helpers to stop the witch from wreaking havoc on the town and maybe make the townspeople a little more understanding in the process.

I honestly can’t heap enough praise on little ParaNorman! The film was adorable, the animation suited the story to a tee and the story itself was both funny and spooky and had a moral at the end. Kids will love the animation, although younger children might be a little afraid of the spooks and adults should definitely give ParaNorman a chance to win their hearts.

If you’ve got kids make sure you don’t miss out on this fabulously freaky family film and if you haven’t then don’t let that stop you! ParaNorman is a must! 8 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 23rd September 2012
UK Release Date – 14th September 2012
 
Cast Overview:
(If you don’t like knowing who the voices are DONT SCROLL DOWN! ;0)
Kodi Smit-McPhee ~ Norman Babcock
Tucker Albrizzi ~ Neil Downe
Anna Kendrick ~ Courtney Babcock
Casey Affleck ~ Mitch Downe
Christopher Mintz-Plasse ~ Alvin
Leslie Mann ~ Sandra Babcock
Jeff Garlin ~ Perry Babcock
Elaine Stritch ~ Grandma Babcock
Bernard Hill ~ Judge Hopkins
Jodelle Micah Ferland ~ Agatha ‘Aggie’ Prenderghast
John Goodman ~ Mr Prenderghast
 
Director(s) ~ Chris Butler and Sam Fell
Writer ~ Chris Butler

The Crush

After saying I wouldn’t write another short story I have done just that. It just goes to show you should never say never! This is kind of fanfic type short story. The idea actually came to me from this tweet

 

The Crush


by Kath Lambert

 

When I was young, around 12 or 13, I had this crush on my brother’s best friend. I guess most girls tend to around that age. The problem for the girl in this scenario is that the best friend never tends to see said girl as anything more than an annoying tag along to their boys games or worse, as an extension to their own family, essentially looking on said girl as their own little sister.


Years went by and I knew Aaron looked at me as nothing but a little sister. Especially as I was so much younger than him, the age gap between me and him being the same as between me and my brother, 10 years.


Over time my brother lost touch with Aaron. They were inseparable for years but one day, seemingly overnight, they just stopped speaking. Over what, I will never know. Or so I thought.


In the years that passed I never gave much thought to Aaron other than the occasional ‘I wonder what happened to him, gee he was kinda hot’ thoughts. They were fleeting and didn’t tend to stay in my head for long. 


I moved away from my home town around the same time as my brother was settling down to marriage and kids. The 10 year gap between us never more evident as he was becoming a family man in his 30s and I was becoming, well, myself I guess, in my 20s.


By my 30s I’d become a successful lawyer, no husband or kids but I wasn’t looking for that, and was quite pleased with how my life was turning out. I visit my now 40 something brother and his family regularly, and think how nice it would be to someday have what he has, but I can’t see anything on the immediate horizon. 


That was until this morning when I walked into court and saw Aaron James standing by the door to my courtroom. He was leaning against the doorframe in a grey suit and tie over a crisp white shirt, his hands in his pockets. I hadn’t seen him in more than 10 years but I’d recognise him anywhere. Age had given his face a rugged quality. His hair was the same dirty blonde I remembered, though worn in a style more suited to a man in his early 40s. 

 

He looked up at me with his piercing grey blue eyes and gave me the most dazzling crooked grin, so dazzling that I think I melted inside. No damnit, I was a tough as nails lawyer, he couldn’t make me feel like I was 13 again!


“Miss Thorn, well I’ll be.” He pronounced Miss as Miz and removed his hands from his pockets to embrace me. I recalled that he and my brother used to work out. Clearly he still was as I didn’t recall him having arms like this when he was a younger man. He kissed me on each cheek and smelled divine. I had yet to say anything. 13 year old me was still tongue tied. I pushed her down and forced my 31 year old kick ass lawyer woman to step up.


“What are you doing here?” I asked in the nicest, none shocked tone I could muster.


“The guy you’re gonna send down today was an assignment of mine. I like to make sure they get what they deserve. I saw your name on the documents for the prosecution and I thought ‘it can’t be THE Lara Thorn’ so I thought I’d come see for myself before court was in session.” He folded his arms across his chest and inspected me in a brief up and down sweep. 


“An assignment of yours? What do you do now?” I asked warily. Not entirely sure I wanted to know. Though the suit he was wearing looked expensive so I was betting he wasn’t a bounty hunter.


“I’m a secret agent. Ssshh. Don’t tell anyone.” He laughed. I wasn’t sure how to read his response. “I’m kidding of course! But I can’t really tell you. Suffice to say I help catch bad guys.”


“Okay!” Why was he being so cryptic? “I should be going…” I started to go around him not really knowing if he was making fun of me or being serious or what.


“Wait.” He reached for my arm but thought better of grabbing me in a court house. I turned to see what he had to say. “I’m gonna be here all morning. You wanna grab lunch when this is all over?” He combed his hand through his hair like he was nervous. What about I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t even sure he was serious about lunch? I didn’t know how to read him anymore.


“Uh…” I was trying to think what to say. 13 year old me wanted to say yes, she was pleading with me, but part of me couldn’t recognise this guy in front of me as the young man I’d had a crush on. But then the question reared it’s ugly head. Why had he stopped being friends with my brother? I had to know. It had bothered me for years. So I accepted.


“Great, I’ll meet you here?” He half suggested and half asked. “Sure.” I responded and turned and walked away from him towards my client who was waiting for me outside the courtroom. When I turned to go in with her, Aaron had gone.

 

I’d been a lawyer for five years and been in courtrooms all over the place but I loved New York courtrooms more than any other. Even the little ones that looked like they were made of cardboard. This one was one of the more grand looking. Today we were in the New York County Supreme Court near City Hall. Outside it’s all Corinthian Columns but inside it looks like any other courtroom. Just bigger. All wood panelling and harsh lighting.

 

As we walked in I noticed Aaron at the back of the public seating area. He gave me a nod as I lead my client to our seats at the front of the courtroom. We went over her concerns as we waited for her husband to be brought up from the holding cells with his lawyer.   


The case was an easy one. Bad guy went down just as Aaron had predicted and when it was all over I lead my client to the door. There were local press waiting when we reached the outer doors but my client remained silent as I’d instructed, while I told the press that a statement would be released from my office in due course. I made sure my client made it to the car waiting for her and excused myself by telling her I was required back inside the courthouse. It wasn’t exactly a lie and I was nothing if not a good lawyer.

 

When I turned to go back in I could see the press were still outside and would be trying desperately to get me to answer their questions if I went back inside. Thankfully Aaron realised this and made his way outside to me. 

“Ready?” He asked and offered me his arm which I took. “You were great in there you know?” He again half told me and half asked. It was as if he didn’t know how to be around me anymore.

 

I suggested we go to a small and usually quiet diner I liked just around the corner on Lafayette street. We took seats side by side at the bar that lined the wall and ordered drinks while we started our idle chat, how’ve you been, what have you been up to, married, kids etc? By the time the food came I could hold onto my question no longer. “You’ve not asked me about Ben?” I prompted. Wondering if this would get me the answer or if I’d have to ask it directly. I was no stranger to asking direct questions but I didn’t want to interrogate him.


“How is he?” Aaron looked up from his coffee and for the first time I noticed a sadness in his eyes. “He’s good. Married now. Two kids.” I felt bad. I hadn’t wanted to upset him. What the hell did I know. I was a kid when they stopped speaking. For all I knew Aaron came onto my brother and was rejected. Knowing how he felt about him Ben could never see him again. That sure would explain the sadness.


He smiled but it didn’t seem genuine. “That’s great. I’m really happy for him.” He stirred his coffee and took a sip. He really didn’t seem happy for him. It was then that our food arrived. The little girl in me was getting impatient and being in leagues with the lawyer in me I had to know. Once the waitress was out of earshot I asked him THE question. “So… why did you stop being friends?” I glanced at him quickly to gauge his reaction to the question. He’d just taken a bite of his steak sandwich but he held it in front of him, a puzzled look on his face, as though it was chicken instead of steak, but I knew the look was in regard to the question, not the sandwich. He looked sideways at me, boldly, kind of incredulously and swallowed. “You mean you don’t know?” His eyes bore into me, the way I sometimes looked at a witness, trying to read the truth from them without them having to speak.


“Know what?” I asked, trying to avoid his gaze. If I was right about the gay thing I didn’t want him to think I’d known that all along. I played nervously with my pasta salad.

 

“Why we fell out? You really don’t know?” He turned to face me then, laughed and threw his arms up. “All this time and he’s never told you?” Aaron looked volatile in that moment, like he’d have taken a swing for Ben if he’d been in the room. Being so close to him at the bar I felt a little intimidated. I mirrored his turn and faced him to see if that eased the tension between us. It didn’t. “That little…” He forced himself to silence and turned back to face the wall. He tore another bite from his sandwich and shook his head as he chewed.


“I asked him but he never told me. He would just tell me to drop it so I did. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. It’s clearly private and I shouldn’t have asked.” I felt like leaving but I’d only just started my lunch and I was starving from being in court all morning. I started eating, figuring the silence might alleviate the tension. I could feel Aaron’s gaze still on me as I twirled pasta around my fork. He took a deep breath.


“How old were you when we, when Ben and I stopped being friends?” I stopped to think. “I dunno, around 16 or 17. I don’t think I’d left high school. Why?” I wasn’t following his train of thought so I hoped he was going somewhere with this. “So I would have been around 26, 27?” He’d turned to face me again. “Yeah I guess?” I took another bite, maybe if I couldn’t speak he’d stop asking me questions. He leaned back in his chair, considering how to phrase his next response. “Right. And at that age, the age you were I mean, you were starting to develop. That’s fair to say right?” He gesticulated to his chest when he said ‘develop’ so I had a pretty good idea where he was going now. “Yeah I guess so. I sprouted a few inches and my boobs came in if that’s what you’re getting at?” I wasn’t sure if I was angry or happy that he’d noticed my boobs. Though as I got my first bra for athletics at school they were kinda hard not to notice.


“See now I sound like a dick.” He rested his arm on the table in defeat. 

“Go on, you’ve started now.” The lawyer in me wanted him to get to his point, if he had one. “Well, I noticed.” He looked up at me, rather sheepishly. 

“So…?” I asked impatiently. “You’re a lawyer, can’t you deduce what happened when your brother’s 26 year old friend noticed his 16 year old sister’s breasts?” My eyes and mouth widened in shock. He’d noticed me? 16 year old me with bad skin and a tendency to be an utter geek? No, he was making fun of me again, surely, like back in the courthouse this morning. He must have realised I had a crush on him and he’s making fun of me. Suddenly my hunger was gone. I stood up, threw my napkin on my plate and $30 on the bar. I didn’t expect him to pay for me. I left without saying another word.


I could hear him scrambling in the diner and calling my name as I walked out the door. A few minutes later he was running down the street after me. I stopped to hail a cab but they were all taken and he was getting closer. “Wait goddamnyou!” He spat as he reached me. He grabbed both of my arms in his hands. No polite half heartedness on the sidewalk. “What?” I asked in my restrained state. I shrugged and he loosened his grip slightly. “Why’d you run out like that?” He seemed genuinely bewildered. “I won’t be made fun of Aaron.” I shrugged again and this time he let me go. “What are you talking about? I wasn’t making fun of you? You asked why your brother and I stopped being friends. It’s because I wanted you.” 

 

He pulled in a breath, I could tell he regretted the comment as soon as he’d said it. “I mean, not like that, eventually sure, but I just wanted to talk to you, get to know you. You got on my radar and after that I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I kept insisting you hang out with us, that’s why we used to take you to the movies with us and when we went for breakfast on Saturday mornings. He used to allow it because he knew you had a crush on me but then when I started to like you, he freaked. He told me if I ever touched you he’d kill me. I tried to tell him that I didn’t want you like that, that you were too young and I didn’t see you like that. I was trying to convince myself as much as him. I tried to tell him that I could just see that you were growing up and that I wanted to get to know the woman you were turning into, but he wouldn’t hear it. He threw me out of your parents house and he wouldn’t talk to me after that.” He pulled his hand through his hair again. So it was a nervous thing after all. Part of me was thrilled at this admission and the other half a little weirded out.


“I knew Ben would stay true to his word, so I left town. I got a job out of state and I tried to forget you Lara I really did. But when I saw your name on those court documents I had to know if it was you.” He brushed my cheek with his thumb. It was only then I realised I was crying. I covered his hand with my own and reached for him with the other. I kissed him softly, suddenly remembering all the times I’d done it in my head. It was better in reality. He kissed me back, more urgently and raked his other hand across my throat, pulling me to him. I could taste the coffee on his tongue. 

 

Memories of him and Ben taking me to breakfast filled my mind. 13 year old me was shrieking, holy shit, I was kissing Aaron James. For real! I don’t know how long we stood on that sidewalk but it didn’t feel long enough considering how long we’d both waited to do that. Both. Not just me. I had to keep reminding myself of that. I’d believed it was a one sided crush for so long. When we stopped for air he ran his thumbs along my cheekbones and just stared at me. “Jesus Lara, where the hell have you been for the last 14 years?” “I could say the same to you!” I replied.

Movie Review Catch Up ~ August

My thoughts and the all important scores for the movies I saw in August

First up was the Pixar animation Brave

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I don’t want to give too much of Brave’s story away as the trailer doesn’t at all really. What I will say is that it’s not too complex for kids and not so dumb that adults won’t appreciate it either. It’s not overly sad for a Pixar film (no-where near UP or Wall.E standards) but one little kid in front of me balled his or her eyes out at the end. The animation is stunning as always, especially the artwork on the landscapes and the sky. Take your time to appreciate the gorgeous backgrounds on this film that may not be Pixar’s best, but it’s stunning to look at and the voice work as ever is superb. 7.5 out of 10.

Next up for August was the Bourne trilogy spin off The Bourne Legacy

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The Bourne Legacy delivers exactly what the previous films did, lots of senior CIA people trying to stop a rogue agent. Lots of fights and chases. Just a different guy in Jason Bourne’s shoes. It wasn’t the lack of Jason Bourne that bothered me, it was that this film, which really has nothing to do with the Bourne franchise is trying to be something it’s not. The proof here is with the end credits which state that this film has been ‘inspired’ by the Bourne novels of Robert Ludlum. The previous Bourne films were all based on his books. This one is not. And it shows. Having said that, if you liked the Bourne movies and can gloss over the ties that are trying to bind themselves to the Bourne films, you might like this. If you’re a serious Damon/Ludlum fan, avoid. There is nothing here for you. 7 out of 10.

The third new film I saw in August was The Expendables sequel, the aptly named The Expendables 2

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As you might expect there are a lot of explosions, people being shot at, car chases, escapes, and some more people being shot at. The times when the film tries to be anything more than this, for example when the team experience the loss of a comrade, are laughable, and not in a good way. These guys know how to look pumped but they’ve all forgotten how to act. There is more cheese here than in dairy isle at your local supermarket! I did however, enjoy Chuck Norris’ cameo and was glad they didn’t overuse him. Bruce Willis and Arnie certainly had more to do this time around too which was nice. I just don’t really know what else to say about Expendables 2 as I don’t honestly know how they could have made it better. I guess it was enjoyable for what it was but unless you’re looking for a cheesy all action, no brains type film, stay away. 5 out of 10.

Things went from bad (The Expendables 2) to verse (see what I did there?) for The Wedding Video

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This is not one of those films where all the funny bits are in the trailer, this just doesn’t have any really funny bits. Sure it made me smile on more than one occasion but it never made me laugh. So either I have no funny bone or this just isn’t funny. I’m going to go with the latter. As one of my friends pointed out, it’s also not very well acted and has possibly every wedding cliche in the book, such as *Spoilers* the stag do stripper who’s not very good at her job, the overbearing mother of the bride, the bride getting cold feet and running off with the best man, need I go on? I think not. If there really is nothing better on I still wouldn’t advise spending money on seeing The Wedding Video. Hire or buy something funnier with what you would have spent on your cinema ticket. You’ll thank me for it! 3.5 out of 10.

The penultimate film of the month was real life teddy bear comedy Ted

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I am always happy to admit when a film pleasantly surprises me, and Ted did just that. Yes he was a foul mouthed bear who simply got in the way of Mark Wahlberg’s character growing up and being a man, but you can’t help but love him. There are enough film references here to keep the most avid film fan happy. I think that’s ultimately what got me on Ted’s side (the movie not the character). So I think if you’re an 80s film fan like me you’ll find enough to like in this film. There’s also a really cool cameo that I’m not going to spoil. I was impressed that they kept it out of the trailers as I think it helped the film to have an ace up it’s sleeve. A film with some laugh out loud funny moments, not all the best bits are in the trailer like most films of this type, and there’s a heart somewhere under all that fur and stuffing. So even if the thunder song wasn’t your kind of funny, don’t write Ted off until you’ve seen it. 7.5 out of 10.

The final film I saw in August was Total Recall remake, named err, Total Recall

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Total Recall has a lot of futuristic action, hover car chases etc. Lots of running around. Some nice mind trip moments when you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. Fine performances from the cast but the material they’re working with isn’t great, and with that many scriptwriters you would hope it would be – but I guess the old saying ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ is true here. The film is stylish and watchable but just doesn’t stand out. Colin is handsome, the women are beauties alright and they do have a few girl on girl fights (and let’s face it, everyone loves a chick fight) but it’s just not enough. A disappointing 6 out of 10.

That wraps up another month. Hope you enjoyed reading those recommendations (or at least will heed my warnings on some of them) and that they might have helped you pick a movie when they come out on DVD next month.

Until next time… Lady K

The Dark Knight Rises – Review

http://www.thedarkknightrises.com/

 

“The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.” Christopher Nolan following the Aurora shooting.

 

I felt the need to acknowledge that statement because I share Christopher Nolan’s sentiments. The movie theatre is my home too, heck it’s likely to be the home of most of the people who read my blog. I feel safe there. It’s a place I can go to on my own and not feel self conscious, and it’s also a place I go to with friends and family. The thought that someone could be so cruel as to pick on people in a darkened theatre, when the only thing they did was go to see a movie, is horrific to me. I hope the people of Aurora find the strength to put this behind them.

 

I can’t help but think that the tragedy surrounding The Dark Knight Rises is one of the reasons I struggled to write a review for the film. I actually saw the movie way back on the 22nd July but had no time to sit down and pen a review for it as it was my pre-birthday weekend. I then went to visit family for my birthday and since then have been back home and then back up north due to a bereavement. It seems all things were conspiring against me actually telling the world what I thought of the finale to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.

 

To refresh my memory of the film I went to see it again this weekend. 

 

For those uninitiated, the first of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy was Batman Begins. Whilst I have seen (and in fact own) it, I must confess that I’m not a huge fan of the first film. And as such I don’t really remember that much of it. So I hope I get this right! *Spoilers Abound* In Batman Begins Bruce Wayne travels the world and receives combat (no pun intended) training in Asia from The League Of Shadows. When he returns to Gotham he puts his alter ego to the test against the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). In The Dark Knight, Batman faced two villains, The Joker (Heath Ledger) and Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart) and in the process he loses the woman he loves and is incorrectly accused of district attorney Harvey Dent’s murder.

 

The Dark Knight Rises is set 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and Batman has not been seen or heard of since he fled the scene of Harvey Dent’s murder. A different kind of masked man is threatening to disturb the peace that has been built on a lie. A battle scarred and broken spirited Bruce must bring Batman back to face his most challenging enemy yet.

 

After not really loving Batman Begins I went into The Dark Knight with a lot of hope. I was a big Heath Ledger fan and I wanted the film to do him proud. And in some respects I think it did. But it still wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Everyone raved about The Dark Knight but I feel it was mostly for the wrong reasons. Because of Heath’s death I think people were afraid to say that it was a less than perfect film. I’m not saying it’s not well written, stylishly directed and brilliantly acted, it is. But it still has it’s problems too. 

 

So going in to The Dark Knight Rises I was sceptical. Doubly so when the Aurora shooting happened because again I feared that this would be a less than perfect film that everyone heaped praise on for the wrong reasons. I am happy to say that the film surprised me in that respect and that I was proved wrong.

 

The Dark Knight Rises is a wonderful note to end on. Christian Bale has never portrayed Bruce Wayne better than he does in this final installment. As a broken man – both physically and mentally – Bale plays Bruce as real as a comic book character can be. He is of course supported by one of the finest casts you could ask for – Gary Oldman, Matthew Modine, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Morgan Freeman. And what would a Batman movie be without a couple of stunning beauties on Bruce Wayne’s arm? Marion Cotillard and Anne Hathaway both do a great job in their respective roles.

 

You will notice I left out a very important cog in this movie machine. Sir Michael Caine. He reduced me to tears on more than one occassion. Give the geezer another blinkin’ Oscar, he deserves it. I love him as Alfred and here he gives it his all. What a performance. 

 

*Contains Spoilers*

 

I was recently lucky enough to see Batman Live and I was over the moon to discover that Christopher Nolan lead his Catwoman down the same path as the stage show creators by having her be a cat burglar rather than a super human woman created by cats (wtf?). And not only that but she was eventually on Batman’s side, fighting with him. I really loved that about the show as it put a new twist on the Batman/Catwoman relationship (new in today’s culture – not new in the comics obviously) and I was so happy that they went the same way for the film too. I also liked that Catwoman’s ‘ears’ were her goggles when perched on her head. So simple but so brilliant.

 

Those who have yet to see the film will be relieved to know that for the most part Bane is completely audible. I had very little problems hearing him. Any parts that aren’t clear are understood by the next person’s dialogue or by actions taken, so fear not. 

 

One of my favourite scenes in the movie has to be the scene in the football stadium with the only sound being that of a young boy singing the American national anthem. Such a beautiful voice and yet you know destruction is looming.

 

I saw one of the twists coming a mile off – involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character – but not the one involving Marion Cotillard’s character. And I know some who haven’t seen any of the twists coming at all. So I think the writers/director have done well to keep them under wraps and keep their agendas hidden until the last possible moment. The one thing I won’t spoil is the end but I will just say that it’s bloody brilliant.

 

*End of Spoilers*

 

In conclusion, whatever you thought of the two previous Batman movies, go and see this last installment. And if you haven’t seen the two previous Batman movies, go and rent them and then go see this one while it’s still in theatres. 9.5 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 22nd July 2012

UK Release Date – 20th July 2012

 

Cast Overview:

Christian Bale ~ Bruce Wayne/Batman

Gary Oldman ~ Commissioner Jim Gordon

Tom Hardy ~ Bane

Joseph Gordon-Levitt ~ Officer John Blake

Anne Hathaway ~ Selina Kyle/Catwoman

Marion Cotillard ~ Miranda Tate

Morgan Freeman ~ Lucius Fox

Michael Caine ~ Alfred Pennyworth

Matthew Modine ~ Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley

 

Director ~ Christopher Nolan

Writer(s) ~ Christopher Nolan (Screenplay and Story), Jonathan Nolan (Screenplay), David S Goyer (Story) and Bob Kane (Batman Characters)