Saturday, 31 August 2013

Film Review: NURSE BETTY (2000)

Nurse Betty - poster Director: Neil LaBute
Writers: John C. Richards (story/screenplay), James Flamberg (screenplay)
Running time: 110 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Comedy/Crime/Drama/Romance
UK Release date: 1st September 2000

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 31st August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I can’t say I knew an awful lot about this movie before viewing. I had seen the title pop up quite a lot since it’s’ release but had never had the chance to see it until now. I found it interesting but not all that engaging; some good performances but it didn’t quite hit the mark. Here’s a very brief summary before I expand on that.

Nurse Betty - 5 When waitress and soap opera fan, Betty Sizemore (Renée Zellweger) witnesses her husband, Del (Aaron Eckhart) being murdered, she goes into shock. This has the effect of making her believe she has left Del and is headed to LA to meet up with her ex-fiancé, Dr. David Ravell (Greg Kinnear) from the hospital-based soap ‘A Reason to Love’. Of course the men who murdered Del, Charlie (Morgan Freeman) and Wesley (Chris Rock), are on her trail as soon as they know she had witnessed the crime. On arrival in LA she is befriended and taken in by Rosa Hernandez (Tia Texada), after she saves Rosa’s brother. They set off to find Dr. David Ravell, but how will Rosa react when she realises he’s totally fictitious.

Nurse Betty - 4 Although I found it an interesting concept, I found it quite hard to engage with any of the characters. Having said that, I did find I had a bit of a soft spot for Betty. It’s pretty well made, although I did feel I was watching a soap half the time. There were far too many coincidental events going on that allowed the plot to progress. The performances were all pretty good with Renée Zellweger easily standing out. Morgan Freeman was, well, Morgan Freeman; he just seems to play every part the same these days. Chris Rock was a bit of a surprise for me, playing the hot headed Wesley with great aplomb and a great degree of swearing. Over all though, I found it a little disappointing despite the decent performances, it never really got going.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED (Just)

My score: 5.9/10.

IMDb Score: 6.2/10 (based on 25,424 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0171580/

MetaScore: 69/100: (Based on 34 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Nurse Betty - 3Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 84/100: (based on 130 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 38/100: (based on 34,847 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/nurse_betty/

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Nurse Betty - 1 LINKS:
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Trailer:

Film Review: ANNA KARENINA (2012)

Anna Karenina (2012) - poster Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Tom Stoppard (screenplay), Leo Tolstoy (novel)
Running time: 125 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

Genre: Drama
UK Release date: 7th September 2012

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 31st August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

This is probably not the kind of film you would normally associate with my good self. Well, I like a challenge and it’s good, every now and then, to step outside of your comfort zone and try something a little different. Now, I must confess to having seen the (I think) 1948 version of this story back when I was very young on a wet Sunday afternoon when we only had three TV channels to choose from. I remember being very bored and swore never to watch this kind of twaddle again; my sister seemed to enjoy it though. And so, well outside of my comfort zone, I sat down to watch a more modern take on the story. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Anna Karenina (2012) - 5 A married woman, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) leaves her home in St Petersburg to visit her brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) in Moscow. He is having trouble with his marriage and has asked her to smooth things over with his wife. Whilst there she meets Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and immediately falls for him. A tempestuous affair ensues and it soon comes to the notice of Anna’s husband, Karenin (Jude Law). Despite his many warnings, she continues the affair and soon finds herself ostracised from society. What is she to do? We also have a sub-plot about a young man, Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) and the young woman he has fallen for, Kitty (Alicia Vikander), who happens to also be smitten by Vronsky. Complicated stuff, but you know it will all work out in the end; or will it?

Anna Karenina (2012) - 2 Beautifully shot using a very theatrical style. In fact the majority of the action uses a theatre as its backdrop and I even spotted a section of stop-motion animation at one point. Sumptuous costumes, for which it won an Oscar, and some brilliantly choreographed set pieces are the backbone of this production. Of course we must not forget it is a drama and there’s plenty of that with some really excellent performances to back it up. Keira Knightly went up in my estimation with this one; as did Jude Law; they both put in great performances. Also worthy of note was Aaron Taylor-Johnson; who I have watched with interest over the past few years and is rapidly growing into a very fine actor (& yes, he is that guy from ‘Kick-Ass’). I was a little concerned that it may be a case of ‘style over substance’, but as it wore on I became more and more engrossed in the characters and the storyline. I guess this shows that the drama did manage to shine through (at least for me). The only thing that let it down was the fact the sub-plot involving Levin and Kitty didn’t really have a lot to do with Anna and Vronsky by the time we saw the last of them; it seemed a little disjointed. Over all though, a very worthy watch and one, I’m sure my sister would definitely enjoy!

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 7.7/10.

IMDb Score: 6.6/10 (based on 39,114 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1781769/

MetaScore: 63/100: (Based on 41 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Anna Karenina (2012) - 6 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 64/100 (based on 176 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 52/100 (based on 48,652 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/anna_karenina_2012/

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Anna Karenina (2012) - 3 LINKS:
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Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnaKareninaTheMovie
Official Site (UK): http://www.annakareninamovie.co.uk/
Trailer:

Monday, 26 August 2013

Film Review: EL TOPO (1970)

El Topo - poster Writer/Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Running time: 125 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Western
Mexico Release date: 15th April 1971

Watched on Sky+ Monday 26th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have to admit I knew very little about this film before viewing other than the couple of lines you get on the TV guide. So, I knew it was a western (in Spanish, with subtitles) that was a religious allegory. I guess it was intriguing enough for me to put it in the planner and so I dutifully watched it. A very interesting film with some nice touches but one I found both confusing and intriguing at the same time. Here’s a very brief summary before I try to explain why.

El Topo - 1 We begin with El Topo (The Mole) (Alejandro Jodorowsky) and his young son (Brontis Jodorowsky) in the desert. They come across a massacre and are soon on the trail of those responsible. Having dispatched them and taken the leader’s woman, Mara (Mara Lorenzio) for his own, El Topo abandons his son at a monastery. They set off across the desert where she persuades him he must take on and beat the four ‘Masters’ who live in the desert. What follows is surreal, bloody and even quite sexual in places. Afterwards he finds himself transformed and with a mission to free the people who helped him. I’ll leave it there, I know it’s kind of sketchy but that’s because it’s a tad hard to describe without giving too much away.

El Topo - 2 I found this one a little difficult to follow, but at the same time it was quite a compelling watch. The connections between the three acts of the plot are, at times, quite hard to knit together, but it does all tie up in the end. Very bloody and quite daring (for its time) with quite a bit of nudity; I can imagine it was a little controversial, to say the least, on release. I won’t say too much about the performances, but needless to say I couldn’t find too much to complain about. I can’t say I understood much of the religious allegory that was mentioned in the blurb, but it was entertaining enough.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 6.3/10.

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 11,450 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067866/

MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

El Topo - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 75/100 (based on 36 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 85/100 (based on 13,722 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/el_topo/

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El Topo - 4 LINKS:
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Trailer:

Film Review: JACK REACHER (2012)

Jack Reacher - poster Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writers: Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay), Lee Child (based on the book “One Shot” by)
Running time: 125 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller
UK Release date: 26th December 2012

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 25th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I was aware that this one got a bit of a rough time from the critics on release but I decided I would give it a look anyway. It’s not that I’m a fan of the ‘Jack Reacher’ novels, I’ve never read one and anyhow, as I recall, that was a major problem for some of the critics; they were fans of the novels. As it turned out, it was neither as good nor as bad as I was expecting. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Jack Reacher - 3 When a random shooting takes place in a public area and five people are killed, the district attorney, Rodin (Richard Jenkins) and the chief investigator, Emerson (David Oyelowo), want quick justice. A man is arrested, Barr (Joseph Sikora), and there is seemingly overwhelming evidence against him. When asked to write out a confession, he writes just three words; “Get Jack Reacher”. The police try to track him down but he seemingly doesn’t exist. So imagine there surprise when Reacher (Tom Cruise) walks in and announces himself. It turns out he knows Barr from his days working for the Military Police but makes it clear he is not there to save him. Nonetheless, he ends up investigating the incident alongside Barr’s lawyer, Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike). It soon transpires that Barr had been set up; but by whom and to what end?

Jack Reacher - 5 The film starts off very stylish, looking every bit the classic cop movies of the 70’s and 80’s. Sadly it does not keep this early promise and soon slips into the usual cliché‘s that have haunted many more recent cop films. I found it very hard to connect with any of the characters, although all the performances were very good. I did particularly like Werner Herzog as The Zec, a particularly shady character; other than that it was pretty mundane. I found it a bit bloated and over-long although it did pick up towards the end.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED (Just)

My score: 5.8/10.

IMDb Score: 7.0/10 (based on 115,573 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790724/

MetaScore: 50/100: (Based on 35 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

JACK REACHER Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 61/100 (based on 168 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 68/100 (based on 99,058 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/jack_reacher/

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Jack Reacher - 6 LINKS:
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Official Site: http://www.jackreachermovie.com/
Trailer:

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Film Review: GOZU (2003)

Gozu - poster [Original Title: Gokudô kyôfu dai-gekijô: Gozu]

Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Sakichi Satô
Running time: 129 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Crime/Drama/Horror
UK Release date: 30th July 2004

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 24th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

Films that are reported as being ‘innovative’ or ‘cutting-edge’ are always of interest to me. I find they quite often make a nice change from Hollywood films and it probably explains why I watch quite a few foreign films. I have to admit that they don’t always quite hit the mark and this, I’m afraid, is a case in point. I will tell you why after this very brief summary.

Gozu - 1 When Minami (Yûta Sone) is ordered to kill Ozaki (Shô Aikawa) by the boss of their criminal gang (Renji Ishibashi). He is ordered to take him to the ‘disposal site’, many miles from their base in the city. After a road accident that leaves Ozaki unconscious, Minami finds himself in a very strange village. He goes into a café to contact the boss and when he comes out there is no sign of Ozaki. Desperate, he looks everywhere and nobody he meets is interested in helping him. He eventually finds the member of another gang who agree to help him and Nose (Shôhei Hino) is assigned the task. Minami is taken to a very strange inn where the innkeeper (Keiko Tomita) and her brother (Harumi Sone) are very odd indeed. In fact everything about the place is extremely odd! Now, what happens here and what happens when Minami returns to his gang are what this film is concerned with. It is all extremely bizarre and I’m not sure I understand it even having watched it. There is another character I should mention and that is ‘Female Ozaki’ (Kimika Yoshino) who has a major part to play towards the end, but how she fits into the story I’ll leave you to wonder. So I’ll leave my short summary here with but a few titbits to tantalize you.

Gozu - 3 To say this film is bizarre is to put it extremely mildly; in places, it’s down-right bonkers! However, I did find it strangely compelling, if a little difficult to follow here and there. I’m usually pretty good at following foreign language films; even those with subtitles, but this one just lost me a couple of times. At times it was very violent and it could be also very comic; touching drama and even horrific; it seems to touch many genres. There were some excellent special effects; all practical effects as far as I could see; and some of these were truly stunning (particularly one near the end). Over all though, I did find it a tad over long and a little frustrating to follow (too many metaphors, maybe?). Even so, I will deem it ‘recommended’ for its’ innovative effects and some compelling (if confusing) story telling.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 5.8/10.

IMDb Score: 7.0/10 (based on 6,455 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0361668/

MetaScore: 58/100: (Based on 19 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Gozu - 7 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 71/100 (based on 56 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 60/100 (based on 8,323 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gozu/

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Gozu - 4 LINKS:
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Trailer:

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Film Review: A FIELD IN ENGLAND (2013)

A Field in England - poster Director: Ben Wheatley
Writers: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Running time: 90 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/History/Thriller
UK Release date: 5th July 2013

Watched on Terrestrial PVR Sunday 18th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

This film has the rare distinction of being released in cinemas, on DVD and also on TV all on the same day. I’m not sure, but it may have also been released for download on the same day as well. I recorded it from the TV but it has been a while before I’ve had the chance to watch it. Quite an odd film, most of which I liked, but there were some parts that were too far out there for even me! Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

A Field in England - 4 Set during the English Civil War, the story concerns a group of men who find themselves in a large field, separated from the main battle. One of them, Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith), has bee tasked with finding and bringing to justice a thief known as O’Neil (Michael Smiley). The others, Trower (Julian Barratt), Jacob (Peter Ferdinando) and Cutler (Ryan Pope) are all soldiers with varying degrees of experience. Whitehead freely admits he’s a coward; he’s a bookish man who does not enjoy the cut and thrust of battle. They stop for a meal and have some mushrooms they find in the field. After this things start to go a bit freaky. They discover a rope and at the end of the rope they find O’Neil. Whitehead tries to arrest him but he turns the tables on him and takes Whitehead prisoner instead. Claiming there is a treasure in the field; O’Neil forces Whitehead to tell him where to dig. I will leave it there because from here on it get’s pretty weird.

A Field in England - 1 Filmed entirely in black and white and on a budget, I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job. All the performances were excellent with Reece Shearsmith and Michael Smiley standing out. There are many unexpected plot twists in this one; it certainly keeps the audience on their toes. Quite a few bizarre effects used to show the effects of the mushrooms but I did like the use of close-ups. It is pretty gory despite being made in black and white; some of the effects are pretty gruesome. Over all, I pretty much enjoyed this one despite it’s strangeness in places. I would like to see it again sometime as I’m sure there’s much I missed.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 7.2/10.

IMDb Score: 6.0/10 (based on 1,510 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375574/

MetaScore: No data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

A Field in England - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 88/100 (based on 25 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 64/100 (based on 547 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/a_field_in_england/

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A072_C001_1001IE LINKS:
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Trailer:

Film Review: SIDE BY SIDE (2012)

Side by Side - poster Writer/Director: Christopher Kenneally
Running time: 99 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Documentary
UK Release date: 15th February 2013

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 18th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have wanted to see this one since a certain Mark Kermode waxed lyrical about it on his radio show several months ago. I knew it would never show at my local cinema and so I was resigned to seeing it on TV. Fortunately those enlightened people at Film4 decided to put it on their channel this week and so I happily watched it this morning.

Side by Side - 5 The film is hosted by Keanu Reeves who is seen conducting all of the interviews and looks genuinely interested in the subject. We are taken through the history of filmmaking, from its early beginnings and right up to the digital technology of today. A lot is made of the effects the leaps in technology have had and the repercussions for the future of the industry are discussed. Along with many directors like; Danny Boyle, James Cameron, Lena Dunham, David Fincher, George Lucas, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, Joel Schumacher, Martin Scorsese and Steven Soderbergh, amongst others; he also talks to many of the other people involved in the process; cinematographers, directors of photography, editors and the like. Although no real conclusions are drawn I found it well balanced with both sides of the argument being well covered. The argument? I hear you ask. Well at the beginning the question is posed as to whether the digital technology of today has brought about an end to movies being shot on 35mm film.

Side by Side - 4 The film goes in to quite a lot of technical detail about the technology of filmmaking; most was easy to follow, but I can see how it might put a few off. Some very interesting questions are posed; particularly revealing are the comments on the fad for 3D; something the studios seem to love at the moment. The music wasn’t all it might have been as well; it sounded a little like I was watching an 80’s infomercial about a film camera company at times. A well balanced piece although I did find it was beginning to drag a little towards the end. Still, well worth a look for any fan of the movies, I can’t see it having a much broader appeal though. On a personal note; I don’t really care what technology is used to make a film; to me the important thing is the story. Without a well scripted story, to my mind at least, there’s no point in even starting.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.2/10.

IMDb Score: 7.6/10 (based on 5,574 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2014338/

MetaScore: 82/100: (Based on 20 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Side by Side - 2 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 95/100 (based on 64 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 86/100 (based on 7,024 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/side_by_side_2012/

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Side by Side - 6 LINKS:
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Official Site: http://sidebysidethemovie.com/
Trailer:

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Film Review: KILLER JOE (2011)

Killer Joe - poster Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Tracy Letts (screenplay/play, “Killer Joe”)
Running time: 99 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Crime/Thriller
UK Release date: 29th June 2012

Watched on DVD Sunday 11th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

This is another film I didn’t know all that much about before viewing. Aside from the fact that Matthew McConaughey’s performance was very well received, I have managed to stay pretty well free from spoilers on this one. Very violent in places with some very dark comedy, I found it a pretty good watch. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Killer Joe - 7 Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) finds he owes Digger Soames (Marc Macaulay) a large amount of money when Chris’s mother steals his drug stash. He seeks the help of his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) and stepmother Sharla (Gina Gershon) when he hears his mother has a life insurance policy. The plan is to hire a cop, Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), to murder his mom and make it look like an accident. The Insurance policy is due to pay out to Chris’s little sister, Dottie (Juno Temple). But there’s a stumbling block; they don’t have the money to pay Joe up front. Fortunately for them, Joe has taken a bit of a shine to Dottie and decides to take her as his retainer. Chris reluctantly agrees to this, but none of them feels comfortable breaking the news to Dottie on the night she is supposed to get together with Joe. Will she go along with it? Will Joe hold up his end of the bargain before Digger’s thugs get a hold of Chris? Will it all go according to plan or is there a further twist or two in the tale? These and many more questions to be answered.

Killer Joe - 2 Because it’s based on a play the action does all seem to occur in one place; predominantly the Smith family trailer. I didn’t find this too distracting but I did find it a little claustrophobic at times. All of the performances were truly excellent but I have to say the critics were right; Matthew McConaughey really does stand out in this one. There are some really violent scenes in this one so I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for younger viewers; the 18 Certificate is definitely more than a guideline here. I really liked the underlying dark humour throughout; it gave the narrative a little more interest. Over all, an interesting watch with some nice touches; it doesn’t have any particularly stunning effects but it’s a well crafted character-driven piece. Well worth a look if you get the chance.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 7.7/10.

IMDb Score: 6.8/10 (based on 33,600 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1726669/

MetaScore: 62/100: (Based on 38 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

KillerJoe_2010.12.16_Day26of28_MG_8758.jpg Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 77/100 (based on 155 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 61/100 (based on 76,768 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/killer_joe/

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Killer Joe - 6 LINKS:
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Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KillerJoeTheMovie
Official Site: http://www.killerjoethemovie.com/
Trailer:

Film Review: KILLING THEM SOFTLY (2012)

Killing Them Softly - poster Director: Andrew Dominik
Writers: Andrew Dominik (screenplay), George V. Higgins (based on his novel, “Cogan’s Trade”)
Running time: 97 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Crime/Thriller
UK Release date: 21st September 2012

Watched on DVD Sunday 11th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have to admit that I didn’t know an awful lot about this one going in. I had a vague recollection of it being reviewed quite well, but with reservations. A friend of mine had seen it and he didn’t particularly like it, but I wasn’t about to let that put me off (he’s steered me wrong before). It’s certainly an interesting film with much in its favour. I can see how it may not be to everyone’s taste but I felt I probably got more out of it than most (maybe). Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Killing Them Softly - 7 It all hinges on the robbery of a card game. The perpetrators are Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) and they were sent by Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola). Now, the game was being run by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta), who has had trouble like this before and so it was felt any heat would fall on him. Of course the robbery goes down and they get away. The bosses aren’t happy and they send in Jackie (Brad Pitt) to sort it out. He liaises with Driver (Richard Jenkins), who seems to be a kind of middle man. They have a difference of opinion about how to proceed and Jackie ends up bringing in another hit man from New York, Mickey (James Gandolfini). This proves less than successful, for reasons I won’t go into here, and Jackie ends up doing the job himself. But will it go as smoothly as he expects?

Killing Them Softly - 6 I liked the way the film started with a very bleak and down-to earth approach to the whole set-up. Some interesting low-life characters planning a robbery always catches my attention. If anything, it steps up a gear when Brad Pitt enters the scene and I’m really beginning to get into it. Sadly, it wasn’t to last, when the James Gandolfini character appears it does take a bit of a dive. He seems a bit of a wasted character; only there to pad the thing out a bit. It’s a shame because I really liked Gandolfini as an actor and felt this was not a fair reflection of his talent. Some very interesting effects were used and I found these very interesting. The use of slow motion in one particular assassination scene was quite breathtaking. There is also a scene depicting the world from a drug addict’s point of view that looked pretty strange too. Over all, it’s one of those that I think I’ll have to watch again to fully appreciate. For now, I liked it, but didn’t fall in love with it; I’m sure a future viewing may fix that one way or the other.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 7.2/10.

IMDb Score: 6.3/10 (based on 69,545 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1764234/

MetaScore: 64/100: (Based on 42 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Killing Them Softly - 3 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 75/100 (based on 210 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 45/100 (based on 115,903 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/killing_them_softly/

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Killing Them Softly - 1 LINKS:
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Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/killing_softly
Official Site: http://killingthemsoftlymovie.com/
Trailer:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Film Review: FRANKENWEENIE (2012)

Frankenweenie - poster Director: Tim Burton
Writers: Leonard Ripps (1984 screenplay), Tim Burton (original idea), John August (screenplay)
Running time: 84 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Animation/Comedy/Horror
UK Release date: 7th October 2012

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 10th August 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

For the most part, I’m a bit of a fan of Tim Burton’s work. I have always found something about his stuff I liked since I first saw ‘Edward Scissorhands’ many years ago. I find his animated work particularly interesting and this is a fine example of just how good it can be! I have to admit though; I watched it with a little trepidation; that Disney logo on the front doesn’t always mean good things for me. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Frankenweenie - 5 When Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) loses his dog, Sparky, in an accident, he is devastated. His parents, Mom (Catherine O'Hara) & Dad (Martin Short), do their best to console him but he is lost in his own world. However, when science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), talks about how electricity animates the body, he has an idea his science fair project. Digging up Sparky, he re-animates him with great skill but knows he must keep him a secret. Sparky, being a dog, gets out and is seen by Victor’s classmate, Edgar ‘E’ Gore (Atticus Shaffer) and he blackmails Victor into giving him the secret to re-animation. Of course, Edgar can’t keep a secret and soon the whole town is awash with re-animated creatures. Can Victor find a way to reverse the process before they take over the whole town? I should also mention Victor’s neighbour, the Mayor, Mr. Burgemeister (also voiced by Martin Short), who has his niece, Elsa Van Helsing (Winona Ryder) staying with him, with her dog, Persephone.

Frankenweenie - 4 I love Burton’s stop motion animation style; it really suits this type of tale. The fact it was in black and white was also a bonus for me; it made it look like the early horror films, many of which are referenced here. I also like that he made Mr. Rzykruski look an awful lot like Vincent Price; he was an early horror movie hero of mine. I haven’t seen the earlier 1984 film and so cannot make a comparison with that but I did like what I saw. Definitely well worth a watch for any horror fan; or even if you just want to be entertained; it’ll do that too!

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.7/10.

IMDb Score: 7.0/10 (based on 42,734 votes when this review was written).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1142977/

MetaScore: 74/100: (Based on 38 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Frankenweenie - 2 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 87/100 (based on 199 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 71/100 (based on 61,365 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/frankenweenie_2012/

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Frankenweenie - 1 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frankenweenieukandireland?brand_redir=1
Official Site: http://www.disney.co.uk/frankenweenie/#
Trailer: