Friday, 30 September 2011

Film Review: THELMA & LOUISE (1991)

Thelma and Louise poster Director: Ridley Scott
Running time: 125 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Crime/Drama
UK Release date: 12th July 1991

Watched on Sky+ Friday 30th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

Ridley Scott directed some of my favourite films and so I thought I’d take a look at some of his other works. I must admit to having seen this one before, but I only remember bits and pieces of the story. It was nice to see it again so I could cast my critical eye over it. It’s great to look at with some iconic American scenery, not to mention Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis! I enjoyed it although there were a couple of niggles that I will tell you about after this brief summary.

TaL-1 Repressed housewife Thelma decides to not tell her husband, Darryl, when she goes off on a trip with her friend Louise Sawyer. They are headed to a cabin in the mountains for a couple of days fishing and chillin’ out. On the way they stop at a bar for something to eat and things get a bit out of hand; I won’t say how or why (spoilers), but it is pretty serious. They make a break for it and hole up in a motel while they decide what to do. Eventually Louise makes the decision that they will escape to Mexico. For this they will need money and her boyfriend, Jimmy, proves to be the solution to that. Meanwhile the police, in the guise of Hal and Max are on their trail. Add to the mix a young hitchhiker called J.D. that Thelma takes a shine to and we got us a road trip to remember! I won’t say any more or the Spoiler Police will be tailing me right to the edge of the Grand Canyon.

TaL-2 As I’ve already mentioned, this film is beautifully shot with some fantastically cinematic moments. Ridley Scott certainly has an eye for these things and they are a feature of all of his films. I couldn’t fault any of the performances either; Susan Sarandon as Louise Sawyer and Geena Davis as Thelma are both fantastic. Harvey Keitel did an excellent job as the caring cop, Hal, as did Michael Madsen as Jimmy. Also worthy of note were Christopher McDonald as Darryl and Stephen Tobolowsky (whose podcast is great by the way… link below), as Max. Oh, and there was this young actor… eye-candy (for the ladies) really… some guy called Brad Pitt played the part of J.D.

TaL4 I said at the beginning that I had a couple of niggles, well, here goes, one is that the film starts off really well and then has a bit of a dull stodgy middle part before picking up again towards the end. I see this far too often in films and it’s beginning to get a bit old (for me) I’m afraid. Secondly, I found the film a little too long, cut out some of the stodgy middle and I would have been a little happier. Ok, that’s all for the niggles. I found there was a lot more humour in it than I remember, but it was quite sporadic. The ending was very touching and did make up for some of the niggles, (but not all of them). The musical score mostly consists of Country songs, but I much preferred the incidental music by Hans Zimmer, in fact I had a bet that he wrote it while I was watching the film! I now owe myself a pint. Over all, though, I still thought this film was great, superb performances, great cinematography, some great music, oh, and a pretty good plot too… Recommended.

My Score: 7.8/10.

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 50,471 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0103074/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92/100 (based on 50 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/thelma_and_louise/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

TaL-5 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Louise Sawyer: [talking about their cabin vacation in the mountains later in the day] You mean you haven't asked him yet? Thelma, for Christ's sake. Thelma, is he your husband, or your father. It's just two days for God's sake. Don't be a child. Tell him you're with me.
[grins mischieviously]
Louise Sawyer: Tell him I'm having a nervous breakdown.
Thelma Dickerson: That don't carry much weight with Darryl. He already thinks you're out of your mind.

-o0o-

[the ladies are just starting off on their road trip. Thelma lifts out Darryl's pistol]
Thelma: Oh, Louise, umm, will you take care of this gun?
Louise: What in hell did you bring that for?
Thelma: Oh, come on! Psycho killers, or bears or snakes? I just don't know how to use it. Will you take care of it?
Louise: Put it away! Just, here, put it in my purse. Thelma, good lord!

-o0o-

Louise Sawyer: You shoot off a guy's head with his pants down, believe me, Texas ain't the place you want to get caught.

LINKS:
The Tobolowsky files (more details here): http://www.slashfilm.com/category/features/slashfilmcast/the-tobolowsky-files/
Trailer:

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Film Review: WORLD’S GREATEST DAD (2009)

World's Greatest Dad poster Writer/Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Running time: 99 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Drama
UK Release date: 24th September 2010 (limited)

Watched on Sky+ Monday 26th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I read and heard (via the radio) reviews about this one saying that although it wasn’t great, it was worth a watch. Well, a Monday night comes around and I decide to give it a go. I pretty much enjoyed it… Yes, it was a little slow to get going, but once it did I found it pretty entertaining. I think it helps that I quite like Robin Williams; I grew up on a diet of ‘Mork & Mindy’ (amongst others). I will give you my thoughts on this rather good dark comedy after this brief summary.

WGD-4 (NOTE: Possible spoilers in the next paragraph)

Lance is a High school English teacher who has ambitions to become a writer. The only trouble is, he hasn’t had anything published yet. He is a single parent, living with his fifteen year old son, Kyle. Now Kyle is not very bright and a bit of a jerk most of the time, he does, however, have one friend, Andrew (fine name!). Lance is having a secret affair with a fellow teacher, Claire, but she seems to be attracted to another teacher, Mike Lane. It all changes when Kyle meets with an unfortunate, and fatal, accident. In trying to cover it up, Lance writes him a suicide note and stages his death. He eventually returns to work and finds that everyone is cordial enough, but when the suicide note is published in the school paper things really start to get interesting for Lance. I won’t say any more as I’ve probably given a bit too much away already and the Spoiler Police are on my trail.

WGD-2 A nicely made film with the action interspersed with some pretty good tunes. Easily one of the best films Robin Williams has made recently; he played Lance. Daryl Sabara did a good job as Kyle, as did Evan Martin as his friend Andrew (still a fine name). I thought Alexie Gilmore as Claire and Henry Simmons as Mike Lane were also worthy of a mention.

WGD-1 The story did take a little while before it went anywhere, there seemed to be a lot of exposition for about forty minutes. I was just about getting frustrated that nothing seemed to be happening when things picked up. The latter two thirds of the film are quite witty and (I found) more enjoyable to watch. It’s not a complicated plot, I found it easy to predict the ending, but it did it’d job and I can’t knock it for that! Ultimately, I found it a rather good and deeply dark comedy… Recommended.

My Score: 7.1/10.

IMDb Score: 7.0/10 (based on 13,081 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1262981/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88/100 (based on 113 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1213731-worlds_greatest_dad/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

WGD-3 FAVOURITE QUOTES:

Claire: So, do you play sports?
Kyle: No, I'm a big spaz like my dad.
Lance Clayton: Well, I was in the dive team in college.
Kyle: Diving's not really a sport, it's falling.

Andrew: You know what's strange about the book?
Lance Clayton: What?
Andrew: Kyle never talks about vaginas, anal sex, fisting, felching, or rimjobs.
Lance Clayton: Yeah, it is a little light in the felching area, you're right. But I think it's there, Andrew, in its own way.

Lance Clayton: I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.

LINKS:
Official Site: http://www.worldsgreatestdadfilm.com/
Trailer:

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Film Review: THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (2010)

The Kids are All Right poster Co-Writer/Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Running time: 106 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Drama
UK Release date: 29th October 2010

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 25th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

Ok, I had better make it clear from the start that this film does not feature the rock band ‘The Who’… They did a film with a similar title back in 1979 so I didn’t want there to be any confusion from the start. This, on the other hand is about a lesbian couple with two children… more or less the opposite of ‘The Who’ really. But to be serious for a moment, this film gained quite a lot of critical praise when it came out and so I thought I might give it a look. Although it’s not my usual fare, I did find it quite interesting up to a point, but it kind of ran out of steam towards the end (IMO). More of my thoughts after this brief summary.

TKAAR-2 A lesbian couple, Jules and Nic had two children by artificial insemination. They are a boy, Laser (now 15) and a girl, Joni (now 18). Joni is about to move away to college and Laser asks her, being of age, to get in touch with the sperm donor that was used to conceive them. She agrees and they make contact with restaurant owner Paul who also happens to grow a lot of organic food as well. They meet and, after a faltering start, eventually get on quite well together. The kids tell their moms and Paul eventually meets them. The film then goes on to explore the effect Paul has on the lives of the members of this rather unusual family. Not wishing to enrage the Spoiler Police (lesbian division) I will end my brief summary here.

the_kids_are_all_right01_002 A well made film without any spectacular cinematography or music, this film is more of a character study than anything else. A lot of the critical praise was aimed at the performances and I can see why; both Julianne Moore as Jules and Annette Bening as Nic did a brilliant job! I thought Mark Ruffalo as Paul was also very good, but I was most impressed with the kids. Both Mia Wasikowska as Joni and Josh Hutcherson as Laser were great. It was so refreshing to see a couple of young characters that were not the greedy teenage morons we usually gets stuck with.

TKAAR-4 As I hinted at the beginning, the film does kind of lose a bit of steam towards the end but that’s not to say it was all bad. There were a couple of laughs along the way, but I did find it quite a serious piece. For all the great performances I was surprised that it didn’t have the emotional impact that I’m sure the filmmakers wanted it to have. Nicely paced with an interesting plot (for the most part) it did keep me entertained for much of the time, but ultimately lost it in the end. I’m going to deem it recommended (just) despite this.

My Score: 6.4/10.

IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 36,349 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0842926/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94/100 (based on 204 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10012141-kids_are_all_right/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

TKAAR-3 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Laser: Why did you donate your sperm?
Paul: Because it seemed more fun than donating blood.

Jules: I wish you were gay; you'd be much more sensitive.

LINKS:
Official Site: http://filminfocus.com/the_kids_are_all_right
Official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheKidsAreAllRight
Trailer:

Film Review: THE SHINING (1980)

The Shining poster Co-Writer (Screenplay)/Director: Stanley Kubrick
Based on a novel by Stephen King
Running time: 142 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Horror

USA Release date: 23rd May 1980

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 25th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have seen ‘The Shining’ a couple of times before but I never realised just what a great film it is until this time around. I guess watching it late at night after many beers can take away the impact of it somewhat though. This time, its morning, I’m a little hung over but nothing a good strong cup of coffee and a decent breakfast couldn’t cure! I have to admit I haven’t read the Stephen King novel on which it is based, but it is on my reading list. As a fan of the work of both Mr King and indeed Mr Kubrick I was more than thrilled to see this collaboration. More of my thoughts after this brief summary.

TS-2 The Overlook Hotel is in a very remote part of Colorado high up in the Rocky Mountains. So high up in fact that it is shut down every winter because the roads become impassable. To this end a caretaker is employed to look after the place during the winter months. This time around it is writer Jack Torrance along with his wife, Wendy and young son, Danny that gets the job. Before he starts, Jack is told of an incident a few years back where one of his predecessors had gone mad and murdered his family before unloading a shotgun into himself. Jack is not put off; he is looking forward to the solitude so he can work on his new novel. Oh, I should point out that young Danny has a special gift, one that doesn’t go unnoticed by chef, Dick Hallorann before he leaves. Things start out well and the family soon settles into a routine. Danny goes off riding his trike around the long halls of the hotel while Jack writes and Wendy tends to the everyday maintenance tasks. When Danny starts to see things, (two strange girls), and Jack begins to lose his cool, it becomes apparent to Wendy that all is not what it seems at the Overlook Hotel. I’ll leave it there as I’m sure there are one or two out there that may not have seen this one. And anyway, the Spoiler Police will be locking me in a store room if I say much more.

TS-4 The film is brilliantly shot with some truly iconic scenes and some beautiful scenery to balance it up. I must also say the music by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind really added to the mood and gave the film an extra dimension. Brilliant performances all round, particularly from Jack Nicholson, chewing the furniture and really letting rip as Jack Torrance and from Shelley Duvall as the put-upon wife Wendy Torrance. I also have to give a shout out for the young Danny Lloyd who coped really well with the (at times) demanding role of Danny. Finally, honourable mentions go to Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann, Barry Nelson as Stuart Ullman, Philip Stone as Delbert Grady and Joe Turkel as Lloyd the Bartender.

TS-3 Stanley Kubrick was a master of storytelling and also a master of the visual arts. I loved the look and feel of this film but, just occasionally, I found the dialogue got a little bogged down. It was almost as if it was lifted straight from the novel and didn’t flow quite as well as it might. I can forgive that though because the film as a whole really works and I must give credit to all the filmmakers for that! Most definitely one I will watch again (without the irritation of commercials next time) and one that comes highly recommended.

My Score: 9.1/10.

IMDb Score: 8.5/10 (based on 222,736 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88/100 (based on 49 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/shining/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

TS-1 FAVOURITE QUOTES:

(Sorry there’s so many… I got a bit carried away!)

Jack Torrance: Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chin? Well then I'll huff and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in.
[axes the door]

Jack Torrance: Heeere's Johnny!

Jack Torrance: I like you, Lloyd. I always liked you. You were always the best of them. Best goddamned bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter.

Danny Torrance: Dad?
Jack Torrance: Yes?
Danny Torrance: Do you like this hotel?
Jack Torrance: Yes. I do. I love it. Don't you?
Danny Torrance: I guess so.
Jack Torrance: Good. I want you to like it here. I wish we could stay here forever... and ever... and ever.

Jack Torrance: And are you concerned about ME?
Wendy Torrance: Of course I am!
Jack Torrance: Of course you are! Have you ever thought about my responsibilities?
Wendy Torrance: Oh Jack, what are you talking about?
Jack Torrance: Have you ever had a SINGLE MOMENT'S THOUGHT about my responsibilities? Have you ever thought, for a single solitary moment about my responsibilities to my employers? Has it ever occurred to you that I have agreed to look after the OVERLOOK Hotel until May the FIRST. Does it MATTER TO YOU AT ALL that the OWNERS have placed their COMPLETE CONFIDENCE and TRUST in me, and that I have signed a letter of agreement, a CONTRACT, in which I have accepted that RESPONSIBILITY? Do you have the SLIGHTEST IDEA, what a MORAL AND ETHICAL PRINCIPLE IS, DO YOU? Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future, if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? HAS IT?
Wendy Torrance: [swings the bat] Stay away from me!

LINKS:
Trailer:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Film Review: CITY OF MEN [Cidade dos Homens] (2007)

City of Men poster Co-Writer/Director: Paulo Morelli
Running time: 106 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Crime/Drama
UK Release date: 18th July 2008

Watched on Sky+ Monday 19th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

This is the follow-up to one of my favourite films, City of God (2002). It continues the theme of life in the poorer parts of Rio and takes a closer look at how things are today. I really enjoyed it, although it doesn’t have the depth of ‘City of God’, I still found the simple storytelling quite refreshing. I had better warn those scared of subtitles that it is in Portuguese with the dreaded words at the bottom of the screen. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

cidade-dos-homens-poster Two friends, Acerola and Laranjinha are turning eighteen. Acerola is already married and has a son, Clayton. Laranjinha is less than content because he doesn’t know who his father is. They both live on ‘Dead End Hill’, an area that is run by a gang lead by a character known as Midnight. Whilst talking about their plight one day a plan is hatched to discover just who Laranjinha’s father is. They ask around and eventually get a lead, but I think it would be giving too much away if I told you any more about this. Meanwhile, one of Midnight’s lieutenants defects to another gang and they decide they want to move into ‘Dead End Hill’. Who will survive? Will Laranjinha find his father? As you can probably guess, I’m not going to tell you here of the Spoiler Police will be finding my corpse in the quarry.

city-of-men-2007-01 Beautifully shot, I love the grainy look and feel to this film. It’s almost like it was filmed on a home movie camera in places, but it still has a professional feel to it. Although it’s quite hard to judge a performance in a foreign language, I must give praise to the young leads; Douglas Silva as Acerola and Darlan Cunha as Laranjinha. I thought they were both excellent.

cityofmen This film will always be compared to ‘City of God’, but it doesn’t have the epic scope of that film. Instead it is more compact and because of that it’s much easier to identify with the characters. There are little flashbacks to when the boys were younger that is a neat way of bringing the audience closer to the story. Over all, it’s a nice simple drama that has some really nice touches. I know it’s not had a great deal of exposure, but it’s certainly one I can recommend, particularly if you enjoyed ‘City of God’. You can probably tell I really enjoyed this one.

My Score: 8.6/10.

IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 6,016 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0870090/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76/100 (based on 79 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/city_of_men/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

city-of-men-01 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Sorry, no favourite quotes this time, my Portuguese isn’t up to it I’m afraid… :-)

LINKS:
Trailer:

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Film Review: THE DEER HUNTER (1978)

The Deer Hunter poster Co-Writer/Director: Michael Cimino
Running time: 182 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Drama/War
UK Release date: 27th February 1979

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 18th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have tried to watch this film a few in the past, but always failed to understand it. This time I cleared FOUR HOURS, taking into account all the little things that distract the viewer at home, and this time I actually got to the end and had some kind of a grip on what it was all about. Here are a couple of sentences about the film before I give you my thoughts.

deer_still7 This is a film of five acts; I’ve called them Home, Hunting, Nam, Home Again and Nam Again. Others may divide it up differently, but that’s how I see it. The story revolves around three guys; Michael, Steven and Nick, from a Pennsylvania steel town who go off to the Vietnam war full of hope and bravado. It deals with what happens to them there and the effects it has on both them and their loved ones back home. I won’t go into specifics, but the effects of their experiences resonate deeply into the community they came from. I’ll leave it there or the Spoiler Police will force me to play roulette with some Vietnamese gentlemen.

deerhunter-huntingfordeer First of all, great music throughout, not least the main theme performed by classical guitarist, John Williams. Also the film was beautifully shot by Director of Photography, Vilmos Zsigmond. Great performances all round, particularly from; Robert De Niro as Michael, Christopher Walken as Nick and John Savage as Steven. These three really carried off quite a performance! They were ably backed up by; John Cazale as Stan, Meryl Streep as Linda, George Dzundza as John and Chuck Aspegren as Axel.

3667117bodzy Putting aside the great performances, the cinematography and the music for a moment, I have to take a second to comment on the length of the piece. It is far too long; the first two acts take up nearly half the running time and do nothing to further the story that couldn’t be done in thirty to forty minutes. The sequence in Vietnam could have been expanded, for instance, there is nothing that tells us just how they ended up in the situation they did (no spoilers I’m afraid). The later acts could have been dramatically shortened also. So I reckon about an hour could have been cut from this film and it would have been just as good, if not better. I am going to give it quite a decent score despite these misgivings because it is still a very powerful drama that I actually found quite compelling at times… Recommended (with reservations).

My Score: 7.5/10.

IMDb Score: 8.2/10 (based on 104,871 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0077416/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91/100 (based on 45 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/deer_hunter/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

images-7 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Michael: What kind of beer would you like?
Linda: What? I don't know. I don't care. Any kind.
Michael: I'll get you a Rolling Rock.
Linda: Okay.
Michael: It's a good beer, it's the best around.

Army Doctor: Chevotarevich, is that a Russian name?
Nick: No, it's an American name.

Stan: How does it feel to be shot?
Michael: Don't hurt. That's what you wanna know. And how it's been, doing OK.
Stan: Yeah, same thing. Nothing's changed. I'm getting more ass than a toilet seat and Axel here; he's getting fatter than ever.

Michael: Here's to Nick.
Steven: [whispering] To Nick.
[All]: To Nick.

LINKS:
Trailer:

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Film Review: BURKE & HARE (2010)

Burke_and_Hare_poster Director: John Landis
Running time: 88 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Thriller
UK Release date: 29th October 2010

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 17th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

When I first heard they were making a film about the notorious grave robbers and murderers, Burke and Hare, I was quite interested. When I latterly heard it was to be a comedy, I was not only quite taken aback, but also quite annoyed! If you know their story you’ll know they were quite brutal and evil men who quite deserved their ultimate fate. To trivialise it seems quite wrong to me; however, I decided to face my demons and give it a viewing. Now, I always try to watch a film with an open mind and look for the good ahead of the (usually quite obvious) bad. With this in mind, I put aside my preconceptions and hit play on my Sky+ box. I’ll give you my thoughts after this brief summary (bet you knew I was gonna do that).

Burke-and-Hare-Simon-Pegg-and-Andy-Serkis-450x300 In the early nineteenth century Edinburgh was the place to be to learn about human anatomy. Two colleges competed for students and, consequently, dead bodies for them to study. Dr Robert Knox ran the Barclay School of Surgery and Dr Munro ran the Royal College of Surgeons. Munro was also a politician and used his position to ensure his school had a good supply of bodies from public executions and the like. This left Knox needing a supplier and this came in the form of two Irish immigrants, William Burke and William Hare. They stumbled into the business when one of Hare’s lodgers dies and they discover that Dr Knox would pay them good money for the corpse. They begin with grave robbing but find that a bit too much like hard work. Cutting out the middle man (as it were) they progress to murdering their victims. After a while the missing people are, well, missed and the local Militia begin to investigate… Is this the end for Burke and Hare? Well, if you know the story then you’ll know the answer, but I’m not going to say here or the Spoiler Police militia will have me strung up by dawn.

BH-01257 Quite a well made film that doesn’t tax the grey cells too much, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from John Landis. As far as the acting goes, everyone was good without any stand-out performances. Simon Pegg as William Burke and Andy Serkis as William Hare both did a decent job. Tom Wilkinson was quite proficient as Doctor Robert Knox, as was Tim Curry as Doctor Monro. Honourable mentions go to; Jessica Hynes as Lucky, Ronnie Corbett as Captain Tam McLintoch and Isla Fisher as Ginny Hawkins. Also there are nice cameo’s from Christopher Lee as Old Joseph, Paul Whitehouse as gentleman Drunk, Michael Winner as Gentleman Passenger, Stephen Merchant as Hollyrood Footman and Jenny Agutter as Lucy.

1093 The film begins with the statement; “This is a true story, apart from the parts that are not”. Unfortunately, the filmmakers have kept up with the tradition of making the vast majority of the story up from “the parts that are not”. This is not the only problem for me, I found that in trying to make the main protagonists likeable they totally trivialised the positively evil acts they were committing, which, I’m sure many will agree, isn’t right. There’s a sub-plot about Burke using his money to finance a theatrical production that is used for some justification of his part in the crimes they were committing, but it didn’t really work (for me at least). It’s not all bad though, I did like some of the less obvious humour on show, the nod to Greyfriars Bobby was quite a welcome distraction but over all I’m afraid I didn’t find it charming, funny, or ever “Outrageously Funny” as I’ve seen on a poster or two. Over all, yes, there are a few laughs on the way, but it soon falls flat on its arse and doesn’t really get up again… Not recommended.

My Score: 3.7/10.

IMDb Score: 6.1/10 (based on 4,467 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1320239/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36/100 (based on 45 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/burke_and_hare/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

BH- 09354 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
William Burke: She is an actress, not a whore.
William Hare: What’s the difference?

LINKS:
Official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BurkeandHareMovie
Trailer:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Film Review: GARDEN STATE (2004)

Garden State poster Writer/Director: Zach Braff
Running time: 102 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
UK Release date: 10th December 2004

Watched on Sky+ Monday 12th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I really did not no much about this film before seeing it, well, I probably did know that Zach Braff (of TV’s ‘Scrubs’ fame) both wrote and directed it. I watched it on a recommendation from someone on Rotten Tomatoes, sorry, I can’t remember who, but rest assured, it’s another one crossed off ‘The List’. I found it very interesting, a little surreal in places, quite enjoyable, but in the end, not as fulfilling as I had expected. I’ll explain more after this brief summary.

GS-1 Andrew Largeman, a failed actor has had to return to the small town he grew up after the sudden death of his mother. He has anxiety problems and usually takes quite a lot of medication, but he has left all that behind in L.A. He runs into quite a few of his old friends from school, primarily Mark, Dave and Kenny, and they all hang out together, go to parties and the like. During a visit to a doctor, Andrew meets Sam and they immediately hit it off. He gives her a lift home and they end up spending the next few days together. This seems to bring Andrew back to life, but it’s nearing the time he has to leave… I’ll stop there or the Spoiler Police will have me bang to rights! And I don’t want that.

GS-4 I must first say the film has a cracking soundtrack, there are some great tunes throughout. All the performances were very good; Zach Braff as Andrew Largeman, Natalie Portman, who I thought was excellent, as Sam, Peter Sarsgaard as Mark, Alex Burns as Dave, Michael Weston as Kenny, Ian Holm as Andrew’s father, Gideon Largeman. Finally a mention for a brief appearance from Jim Parsons (‘The Big Bang Theory’) as Tim.

GS-2 The film has a very muted feel to it which was fine at first, it allowed for small pieces of comic genius to flower, but after a while I began to find it a little depressing. Braff plays Largeman so downbeat from the beginning that by the end when you’re supposed to be uplifted, you’re still down somewhere near the floor. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things to admire about this film and I did enjoy several aspects of it. I think I’ll have to see it again sometime to appreciate it properly but for now… Recommended (but only just).

My Score: 6.6/10.

IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 104,531 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0333766/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86/100 (based on 185 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/garden_state/

 

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

GS-5 FAVOURITE QUOTES:

Sam: Hey, I recognize you.
Andrew Largeman: Oh, did you go to Columbia High?
Sam: No, not from high school, from TV. Didn't you play the retarded quarterback?
Andrew Largeman: Yeah.
Sam: Are you really retarded?
Andrew Largeman: No.
Sam: Ooh, great job man! I really thought you were retarded. I mean, you're better than that Corky kid and he's actually retarded. If there was a retarded Oscar you would win, hands down, kick his ass!

Titembay: Someone has been pissing on my Gamecube and I'm about to close the case.

LINKS:
Trailer:

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Film Review: THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)

The Social Network poster Director: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
Running time: 120 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Biography/Drama
UK Release date: 15th October 2010

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 11th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I remember when this came out there was an awful lot of debate, praise and general talking about it. Unfortunately it never made it to my local cinema (surprisingly), but it finally made it to a pay TV channel this week. I was quite keen to see it given the amount of attention it got, and also because it was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, both of which I admire greatly. Here’s a little about the plot before I give you my thoughts.

TSN-1 After a disagreement with a girl, Erica Albright, computer genius Mark Zuckerberg goes online and writes a program called “Facemash”. It was available only to students at Harvard University, where he was studying. It caused quite a stir when the University servers crashed. He had the help of his friend, Eduardo Saverin, who would eventually be credited as a co-founder of Facebook. Moving on from this, Mark is approached by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and their associate Divya Narendra, to write a web site for them that had elements common with what Facebook would become. Instead of working on their site, Mark works on his own idea, with backing from Eduardo. Eventually ‘The Facebook’ goes live at Harvard University and is an instant hit. They expand to other Universities in the United States and eventually across the world. Mark is contacted by Sean Parker, the inventor of Napster, and he eventually moves out to California to use his expertise. All this time, Eduardo is being squeezed out of the business. It all comes to a head when Mark is sued by Eduardo, the Winklevoss twins and Divya Narendra. It is this action that forms the central part of the movie and it is from here the various parts of the story are told in flashback. I’ve probably said too much, but the film is about so much more so I’ll stop before the Spoiler Police (Universities branch) escort me off campus.

TSN-2 As you’d expect from Aaron Sorkin, an excellent script with some really great dialogue! The film is beautifully made, expertly paced and I found it very easy to get into. Great performances all round, particularly from Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, a real departure for him and he pulled it off brilliantly. I must also give praise to Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin, for me, he put in the best performance, maybe because his character was more likeable, but still a great performance. Honourable mentions go to; Armie Hammer as Cameron Winklevoss / Tyler Winklevoss and Max Minghella as Divya Narendra.

The-Social-Network-Trailer I really enjoyed this film, the subject matter is one that’s close to many people’s hearts and so I guess it was bound to be a hit. I did find the picture very dark though; so much so that curtains had to be drawn (it was a daytime viewing). I think it’s one of those films that will eventually become a classic, but it is one you have to watch… It’s very easy to get lost in the twists and turns of a piece of dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin (and I mean that in a nice way). Over all, beautifully made, a great script, an enthralling story and some great performances… Recommended.

My Score: 8.5/10.

IMDb Score: 8.0/10 (based on 149,604 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1285016/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96/100 (based on 272 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the-social-network/

 

Since it’s all about Social Networking… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

TSN-5

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

Erica Albright: You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole.

Sean Parker: Drop the “The.” Just “Facebook.” It’s cleaner.

Mark Zuckerberg: I went to my friend for the money because that's who I wanted to be partners with. Eduardo was the president of the Harvard Investors Association, and he was also my best friend.
Gage: Your best friend is suing you for six hundred million dollars.
Mark Zuckerberg: [Sarcastically] I didn't know that, tell me more.

Marylin Delpy: [Last Lines] You're not an asshole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be.

LINKS:
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thesocialnetwork/
Trailer:

Film Review: UNITED 93 (2006)

United 93 poster Writer/Director: Paul Greengrass
Running time: 111 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Crime/Drama/History
UK Release date: 6th June 2006

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 11th September 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

If the events depicted in this film were entirely fiction then nobody would believe it was possible that such monstrous acts could be committed. I remember the events of September 11th 2001 very well and I recall being totally shocked as I watched it unfold on various TV news channels. I saw this film soon after release and it provoked quite an emotional response; ten years after those terrible events it still has the same effect on me. I’ll tell you a little about the film before I give you my thoughts on it.

U93-1 United Airlines flight 93 is due to take off from Newark and fly to San Francisco. We are shown the crew boarding the plane and making preparations for the flight, at this stage it’s almost like a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary with idle chat about the weather and everyday things. The passengers then board with more of the same, it’s just another ordinary day on an airline. Except for the four terrorists that plan to take over the plane and crash it into an unspecified target. Attention is split between these events and the goings on at the various air traffic control centres along the eastern seaboard of the United States. As two plane crash into the World Trade Centre and one into the Pentagon we see how they deal with the situation and how the military get involved. This takes up a good two thirds of the film. The final third concentrates on events aboard United 93 as the terrorists take charge and the passengers, finding out about the other events of the day, decide to fight back.

U93-2 As I’ve already said, I found this quite an emotional experience, particularly when various passengers are saying goodbye to their loved ones over the phone. It’s also very thought provoking, the opening scene is of some of the terrorists praying in their hotel room before setting off in the morning. Something I found quite peculiar given the act they were about to carry out. Isn’t religion supposed to be all about getting along with your fellow man? Ok, I’m going off topic here.

U93-3 The film does appear slightly uneven, but then again, trying to fit all the events of that day into 111 minutes can’t have been easy. It’s very well made with, as I’ve already said, almost a documentary feel to it for much of the screen time. In fact, many of the Air Traffic Controllers are played by the actual guys that were doing the job that day. As the film gets to events on the plane we get a more dramatic feel to the narrative and this is the most powerful part, I feel. Either way, if you witnessed, or heard the events of “9/11”, as it’s known in America, and even if you didn’t, I very highly recommend you watch this film.

My Score: 8.8/10.

IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 51,244 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0475276/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91/100 (based on 200 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/united_93/

U93-4

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

Honor Elizabeth Wainio: Hi mom, it's me... this really kind woman handed me the phone and told me to call you.

[last title cards]
Title card: Of the four aircraft hijacked that day, United 93 was the only one that did not reach its target. It crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03am. No one survived.
Title card: Military commanders were not notified that United 93 had been hijacked until four minutes after it had crashed. The nearest fighter jets were 100 miles away.
Title card: At 10:18am, the President authorized the military to engage hijacked aircraft. Fearing an accidental shoot down, military commanders chose not to pass the order to pilots in the air.
Title card: By 12:06pm every civilian airliner over America had been forced to land. Amidst an unprecedented military mobilization, US airspace was closed until further notice.
Title card: Dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

LINKS:
Trailer: