Thursday, 2 May 2013

Change of address

This site has moved! Life vs Life now lives at, head on over to read my latest ramblings.

Monday, 29 April 2013


Firstly, I'd like to congratulate myself on hitting the 500 post mark, yay me. You may have noticed my review-posting turnout has been significantly diminished in the past few weeks. This has in part been due to a few busy weekends involving family and the wedding of two of my best friends, but I've also been watching a great deal of Disney films for a Lambcast that will be released soon. As such, I've been feeling pretty depleted in terms of writing about films - I haven't reviewed anything from the 1001 List in a little while - and I've barely watched anything from it recently either. Therefore, I've decided to close up shop and take a break from the blog for a while.

I'd like to thank all my regular visitors and followers, especially those of you who frequently leave me comments and/or essays (Chip, I'm looking at you), and rest assured I shall continue to read most of what you all throw out (sticking to my rule of not reading reviews of films I've not seen but intend to one day). I've thoroughly enjoyed most of my time blogging so far. I always wanted to write about films, and I hope to continue to do so until one day I'm actually halfway good at it. Rest assured that everything of yours that I read continues to inspire me.

On a completely unrelated note, I'd like to announce the birth of, where you will now find me writing on a hopefully far more regular basis, starting with an imminent review of Iron Man 3. The site is very much in its infancy, and although I'd meant to have it fully operational before launching it upon the world, it isn't even close. That's what happens when a busy/lazy person sets a self-imposed deadline (the aforementioned 500th post) and then neglects to work hard enough to actually reach it. Anyway, all the buttons should work, and I'll update various pages and links and things as I go. I'm pretty sure they all point back to here for now though. Give me a shout if there's something else that doesn't work, and I'll try and fix it.

Blogger, it's been real, but I'm taking this site on the road.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Sand Pebbles

The year is 1926, just before one of the many Chinese revolutions. Jake Holman (Steve McQueen) is a ship's engineer who has been transferred to a small run-down gunship named the San Pablo, or the Sand Pebble to her crew. Aboard the Pebble, Holman causes tension amongst the already tight-knit yet divided crew, which doesn't help when the Chinese public attempt to instigate a war with the US.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Kate Winslet: Naturist

Kate Winslet, it seems, is more than just a disembodied pair of breasts that sporadically unveil themselves at inopportune moments in movies. Apparently there is a voice associated with those mammaries (and therefore, one assumes, a mouth, tongue, trachea and who knows how many other body parts too), and it is a voice that has become familiar to the public at large. It was only natural then that the lady in question would use said voice within films, as is the case here with two semi-documentary dramas that focus heavily on nature: The Fox And The Child and Pride. After all, it's no secret that voice acting is a great deal easier than full-body acting, as there's no hours of make-up, preparation of scenes and lighting or extravagant costumes to put on (or take off, as the case may be). Unfortunately, the appeal of an easy job can cause a lull in judgement in choosing said work, as is the case with both of these films.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Top 10... Movies With All-Male Casts

I'm off on a stag do this weekend - paint-balling, followed by drinking, in case you were wondering, although personally I think those should be the other way around - and in fact this is the first stag do I've ever been on, so I'm a little apprehensive as to what's going to go down amidst a group of guys I know next to nothing about, seeing as the only one I really know is the groom. This concern comes from all the bachelor parties I've seen in films, and how none of them have ever really worked out all that well. The obvious list I jumped to was top 10 bachelor parties in films, but alas I couldn't think of 10 (in descending order: The Hangover 2, American Pie: The Wedding, The Hangover, Bachelor Party, Very Bad Things, Clerks 2, Sideways), so I switched it out for something similar, celebrating the films that, just like the traditional stag do, don't allow women in them. I had to take a few liberties here - you'll see what I mean - but I think they're acceptable. In fact, this list contains several of my all-time favourite films, two of which I have posters of in my lounge, which may say something about my opinions of women in cinema... Oh, and before you check, no, there isn't any gay porn on here.

Honourable Mention: Outpost
Zombies! Nazi zombies! Ridiculous Nazi zombies! The premise for this film is, well, kinda dumb - a rich dude hires a group of mercenaries to take him to an underground bunker, where they discover the Nazis performed some tests in WW2 to create an unkillable soldier, and wouldn't you know it, whilst they're their they manage to resurrect them - and the film itself plays out little better. The only 'names' amongst the cast are Michael Smiley (Spaced, Kill List) and Ray Stevenson (Thor, Punisher: War Zone) and the director, Steve Barker, has made nothing else of note save a crap-looking sequel, but despite the unlikable characters (particularly Robert Blake's greasy Prior) and evidently low budget, this still has its moments. Can't help thinking Nazi zombies have a great deal more to offer than this though. I really wanted Con Air to take this position, or Armageddon, but they have fairly prominent female roles, dammit.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

All the King's Men

In 1950s Louisiana, door-to-door brush salesman and parish treasurer Willie Stark (Sean Penn) runs for Governor, under the eye of local politician Duffy (James Gandolfini). A local reporter (Jude Law) takes a personal interest in him, and ends up working for/with Stark, much to the disapproval of his stepfather (Anthony Hopkins) and his childhood companions (Kate Winslet and Mark Ruffalo).

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Top 10... Movie Rabbits

Rabbits. Bunnies. Hares. Lepus. Conies. Floppy-eared, fluffy-tailed harbingers of chocolate eggs. Whatever you call them, their distinctive profiles, cute demeanour and oh-so-adorable little twitchy faces makes rabbits one of the many animals that crops up in films far more often than you might think. And seeing as it's Easter this is the perfect time to celebrate those bouncing bundles of fluff that are the rabbits of the movies. There's some notable omissions - I haven't seen the likes of Watership Down or Rise of the Guardians, haven't overly liked any version of Alice in Wonderland and couldn't bring myself to include The House Bunny on any list. Fatal Attraction deserves a place on a list of best scenes involving rabbits, but that is not this list, and the rabbit in question doesn't have too much of a personality, or even a name if I remember rightly, much like the dinner caught by Gollum in The Two Towers. And this has nothing to do with the quality of the films, it's just how much I like the rabbits in question. 

Honourable mention: Jack Rabbit Slim's, Pulp Fiction
Personally, I'm amazed it's taken me this long to wrangle Pulp Fiction onto a list. Technically there are no actual rabbits in this film, but then that's also the case for at least two other films on this list, but Pulp Fiction is the most tenuous link, hence why it's only the honourable mention. Also, it's a part of my least favourite storyline in the film, as I'm not much of an Uma Thurman fan, and could have done without the Mia Wallace segment. The club itself is pretty damn cool, even if the milkshakes cost $5.00, as the chance to be served by Marilyn Monroe, James Dean or Buddy Holly (Steve Buscemi) is just awesome. The only downside is the dance contests.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The 39 Steps

Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), a Canadian man visiting London, thinks nothing of assisting a strange woman (Lucie Mannheim) to escape a theatre riot, especially when, after the melee, she requests he take her home with him. She seems rather odd, with an indistinguishable European accent and clearly fake name, hiding from the windows and the reflection of the mirror, scared of a ringing telephone, and it turns out she's being pursued by a gunman over some business involving a secret being smuggled out of the country. Hannay of course is sceptical, until she winds up dead on his living room floor, a knife in her back and a map in her hand, with Scotland's Alt-na-Shellach circled. Hannay suddenly finds himself in the frame for murder, and must flee up north if he hopes to clear his name and save the secrets.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


'Scottie' Ferguson (James Stewart) is a detective in San Fransisco who suffers from crippling vertigo, exacerbated by his most recent rooftop scuffle culminating in the death of a colleague and the escape of the perpetrator being pursued. He therefore retires, only to be called upon by an old college friend Gavin (Tom Helmore) who is concerned about his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), who may or may not be occasionally under some form of supernatural possession from an ancestor who committed suicide at the same age Madeleine is now.

Top 10... Remakes

More and more it seems there's no original ideas in mainstream Hollywood, but it turns out that this has always been the case, and it just seems more prevalent now because there's so many more films released each week, and less original stories to go around, so therefore there's more rehashed versions of films gone by available to us on a weekly basis. 2012 saw three remakes in the Box Office Top 20 (The Amazing Spider-Man, Snow White and the Huntsman, Les Miserables), and this is far from new, hell, even The Wizard of Oz was a remake back in 1939 of three silent films that came before it (and a book, but everything's a remake of a book these days). The thing is though... I don't mind. I have no problem with modern film makers updating older films to introduce them to a wider audience - there have been several instances where a remake has inspired me to go back and see the original, and I've discovered a classic that I otherwise may have never found (Scarface springs to mind).

So what inspired this list? Well, The Film Vituperatum's movie of the week is The Adventures of Robin Hood, which whilst I haven't seen it yet and therefore haven't got around to reviewing, I am more than familiar with the story, mainly due to the various adaptations of it. If I had to guess, I'd say the story of Robin Hood is probably one of the top three most adapted tales in history, after A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland, but my list of top 10 Robin Hood adaptations would see Kevin Costner taking third place behind John Cleese in Time Bandits and an animated fox, at which point the list would end because I haven't seen any others, so instead I'm going to celebrate the greatest remakes that I've ever seen, regardless of whether I've watched the originals or not. Oh, and The Wizard of Oz didn't make the list, because I'm fairly sure I've never seen it all the way through. The list also doesn't include any English-language remakes of originally foreign works, because that would be another list entirely, and one I'll save for another day - perhaps when Ringu is selected for movie of the week?

Monday, 18 March 2013

Pre-View: Man Of Steel

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I've never been a fan of Superman. He just seems too uninteresting as a character, with his only inner turmoil being his fish out of water last-of-his-kind predicament, that I'm sure would become annoying and whiny if dwelt on for too long. My disinterest with him also stems from the fact that I've spent so little time with the character. I have technically seen Richard Donner's 1978 Superman, but I can't remember a single thing about it (literally nothing), and my hatred for Superman Returns is well documented. I also wasn't much of a fan of Smallville, barely making it halfway through the first season, and I doubt I've seen more than a couple of episodes of Lois and Clark, although I did like Ben Affleck's performance as George Reeves in Hollywoodland. As such, I can't say I'm really looking forward to the upcoming Man Of Steel, despite the interesting trailers and general buzz over it all.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Nevada Smith

When three men, claiming to be friends of his father, ask young half Native American Max Sand (Steve McQueen) the way to his parents' depleted gold mine, Max doesn't hesitate in giving them directions. Something seems up, so he heads after them, but upon arriving discovers the three men have tortured and killed his folks, even skinning his squaw mother, once they had found out the mine had only produced one nugget in the past two years. Max burns down the house, not wanting anyone to see his family in that condition, and heads out into the world with just his horse, a rifle, $8.00 to his name and a vivid memory of the three men who killed his parents, and who he will not rest until they have been killed by his hand.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Top 10... Movies With Title Songs

This week's movie of the week over at the Film Vituperatum is Cabaret. Now, I didn't submit a review for this because I watched and reviewed it during the period of my blog that I call 'Reviewing for the Sake of It' in which it was more important to me to watch, or at least sit through, a playing of the film, and record the briefest of comments upon it, as then I could get to the part I was most looking forward to, crossing it from the 1001 List (or whichever list it came from). a little while ago I decided this was ridiculous and wasn't benefiting anyone, at which point I decided to try and expand upon my reviews. I've made the intention to go back and re-review some of the films I'd not given enough respect to in the past, but there are some films I'd really not rather watch again, and amongst those is Cabaret. If you really want to, you can read my 130-word review here, but personally I wouldn't recommend it. Anyway, I wanted to do a list that somehow ties in with the movie of the month (this won't always be the case, but it seems to be working so far). My initial idea was to do my list of Top 10 Worst Movies I've Ever Seen, in honour of Liza Minnelli's cameo in Sex and the City 2 (second place, after Home Alone 4), but instead I opted for movies with songs in them of the same name as the film, as of course the film features Minnelli belting out the titular Cabaret.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Hideous Kinky

Julia (Kate Winslet) has upped sticks from her one-bedroom London flat and moved to Marrakech after her partner cheated on her and left. Accompanying Julia are her two daughters, seven year old Bea (Bella Riza) and five year old Lucy (Carrie Mullan). Whilst in Morocco, Julia runs into financial difficulties and seeks romance, eventually finding it with street acrobat/quarry labourer Bilal (La Haine's Said Taghmaoui), before continuing to travel around the foreign lands with her children.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Skin Game

Mr. Hornblower (Edmund Gwenn) has just purchased a rented house from Mr. Hillcrist, under the circumstance that the former does not evict the long-standing tenants of the house, the Jacksons (Herbert Ross and Dora Gregory). However, as soon as Hornblower has bought the place the Jacksons find themselves homeless, which starts a familial war, or 'skin game' between the two families.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Top 10 Worst Movie Mothers

The movie of the week over at Film Vituperatum this week is Psycho, hence why I posted a review of it yesterday, and seeing as it is Mother's Day this Sunday the two events seemed to coincide far too perfectly for me to not create a Top 10 list in celebration. I was a little unsure of which direction to take this in, but then I considered that the mother in Psycho probably wouldn't have sat too well on a list of the all time greatest movie mothers, so forgive me but this is a more negative view of cinematic matriarchs. So here is my run down of the movie mothers that make me oh so very grateful for the one I ended up with, as opposed to any of these raving bags of lunacy.

Now as it turned out Psycho's Mrs. Bates didn't make an appearance on this list, as all she was really guilty of parenting-wise was maybe loving her son a little too much - something which a member of this list attempted to take a bit further. Also, any US readers who may have gotten terrified of the mention of it being Mother's Day this Sunday should not be overly concerned; we celebrate it a couple of months earlier than you guys, so you've still got until May to buy those flowers. So, without further ado, here's my list of mothers who would at best deserve a hastily purchased card from a petrol station, if that.

Honourable mention
Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
On the surface, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) doesn't seem to be too bad of a mother. She doesn't do much wrong other than get herself kidnapped and wear the same forced, frozen smile on her face for the entirety of this intolerable movie. In fact, she's done a fairly reasonable job of raising a son almost single-handedly, whilst maintaining a career along the way. Yes, that son has turned out to be Shia LaBeouf pretending to be Marlon Brando, but it could have been worse. Shia LaBeouf pretending to be Shia LaBeouf, for example. No, Marion's crime is in denying her child, Mutt Williams, of the knowledge of his father's true identity, that of [REALLY OBVIOUS SPOILER] Indiana Jones. What boy growing up wouldn't want Indy to be his father? He's possibly the coolest man in existence, and even with the lack of stability and large periods of time spent travelling the globe in search of historic artifacts and sexy historians, he'd still have been one hell of a father figure to look up to for any growing boy. Plus, she let her son go around with the nickname Mutt.

Thursday, 7 March 2013


On a bright December Friday afternoon, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) returns to work after some afternoon delight with her similarly cash-strapped lover Sam (John Gavin). When her boss sends Marion to the bank to deposit a client's $40,000 in cash, on a whim she hastily backs her bags and flees with the money, but draws the attention of a road cop during her escape. When darkness and an incessant downpour prove too much for Marion, she checks into the run down, deserted Bates Motel, where she meets motel manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a kind yet awkward young man, unfamiliar with pretty young women entering his life. Norman's bedridden mother disproves of the presence of Marion, and refuses to let her into the house, but this is no concern of the girl's as she still has to plan what to do with the money.

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Charlie (Logan Lerman)  is starting his first day of high school. He has no friends, a distant family, and is too painfully introverted to change any of this. Fortunately when he starts school he falls in with Patrick (Ezra Miller), Sam (Emma Watson) and their small group of "misfit toys," who all help Charlie to realise who he is and what is important in life, and what may have led to the way he is.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Barbarian Invasions

Remy (Remy Girard), a college professor with a womanising history, is mere days away from death. His wife (Dorothee Berryman), from whom he separated fifteen years ago when he refused to give up his philandering ways, summons their son, Sebastien (Stephane Rousseau) to see him. Sebastien and his father have never been close, with the son playing the father for destroying the family, and the father being disappointed his son never became a cultured intellectual, even though he is now a fantastically wealthy international businessman. Sebastien uses his fathers last days to reconnect with his old man, and make his remaining time happy, by contacting his father's old friends, disrupting the Canadian health system to get him a better room, and making an arrangement with a heroine addict (Marie-Josee Croze) to make his father more comfortable before the inevitable happens.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Finding Neverland

London, 1903. Acclaimed playwright J. M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) has just written a play, Little Mary, but unfortunately it hasn't done too well. When his maid cuts the review from his newspaper, Barrie spies Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four young boys playing in the park and soon begins spending a great deal of time with them. He finds their exploits to be inspirational, and indeed they inspire within him the idea to write a new play, one that children can enjoy as well as adults, about a boy who never grows up.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Strangers on a Train

You know how the weirdo on the train always ends up sat next to you? The smelly guy, the raging drunk or the raving lunatic? Well any of these would be preferable to Bruno Antony (Robert Walker), a wealthy but evidently psychotic passenger sat across the aisle from Guy Haines (Farley Granger), a promising semi-professional tennis player with political aspirations. You see, Bruno has a plan for the perfect murder, or rather, murders, and wouldn't you know it but he not only has someone in his life whom he'd like disposed of (his overbearing father, Jonathan Hale), but he also knows Guy is in a similar position with his separated wife, Miriam (Kasey Rogers). Bruno's plan is for the two of them to swap murders, as that way there'd be no clear motive for their crimes, and whilst Guy forgets all about this after departing the train, Bruno evidently means to carry out his plot, and its not long before Miriam has been slain, and Bruno is hounding Guy to take care of his side of the deal.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

After the events of September 11th 2001, the priority of the CIA understandably became apprehending Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group behind the attacks. CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain) joins a team involved with this, whose initial job is the interrogation of potential leads by any means necessary, but she soon becomes more involved with the bigger picture, and ultimately becomes the only person absolutely certain of the whereabouts of Bin Laden, culminating in a U.S. Navy Seal attack on the house he is believed to be staying in, some twelve years after the search began.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Last Year at Marienbad

I don't know where to begin. Normally in my opening paragraph I give a brief synopsis of the film, y'know, "an eccentric old man invites his grandchildren, some paleontologists, a chaotician and a lawyer to try out his new dinosaur-filled theme park" that kind of thing, but the trouble with Last Year at Marienbad is that there is nowhere near enough plot to even begin a paragraph. Essentially, there's some kind of swanky soiree at a swish estate that I think is somewhere in the Czech Republic. At said event, there is a man (Giorgio Albertazzi) who is resolute that he met a woman (Delphine Seyrig) attending the party a year ago at Marienbad. Meanwhile the woman's male friend (Sacha Pitoeff) plays a game with cards, matchsticks and dominos called Nim, at which he seems unbeatable. This plays out for 90-odd minutes, until the film ends, with no foreseeable additions to anything approaching a story.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Secret Agent

A funeral is being held for British World War I soldier and novelist Brodie (John Gielgud). The thing is, he isn't dead, as Brodie has been recruited as a spy and renamed Richard Ashenden, and is being sent by the Q-like R (Charles Carson) to Switzerland in order to apprehend and kill a German spy, with the help of an overzealous assassin nicknamed The General (Peter Lorre). Upon arriving in Switzerland, Ashenden discovers a woman has already booked into his room, saying she is his wife, and when he enters his room he finds her to be the not-too-shabby form of Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carroll), a fellow agent posted to assist Ashenden, but she is already entertaining another guest at the hotel (Robert Young). The three spies must work together, despite not necessarily all getting along, in order to find and stop their adversary before he completes his mission.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Life of David Gale

David Gale (Kevin Spacey) used to have it all. He was the Head of Philosophy at Austin University, an acclaimed writer with a wife and son (with some dinosaur pyjamas I'm more than slightly jealous of), co-director of Death Watch a group against the death penalty, and he had the moral standing to turn down the advances of a nubile young student out for an easy A (Rhona Mitra). Now, however, he's in jail, about to be condemned with the very punishment he's spent his life protesting against, having been convicted of the rape and murder of his friend, colleague and fellow protester, Constance Harroway (Laura Linney). Three days before his scheduled execution, Gale requests three interviews with ambitious yet unfortunately named magazine journalist Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet), to whom he tells his story in the hope that she will believe him, and discover whoever is behind his supposed framing for the crime he says he didn't commit.

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Four Years into the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), the 16th King of the United States of America, has his eyes set on not just ending the conflict, but abolishing slavery - over which the war is being predominantly fought - in the process. In order to do this he must pass the 13th amendment to the United States House of Parliament, which would outlaw involuntary servitude, but there's two problems. One, he's twenty votes short, and two, he needs to pass it before the war ends, or else it may never happen. And on top of this he's got some familial woes too - a nutty wife and bull-headed son who wants to go off and fight for his beliefs.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The War Lover

England, 1943. Two US Air Force bomber pilots, Buzz Rickson (Steve McQueen) and Ed 'Bo' Bolland (Robert Wagner), are best friends, room-mates and regularly go on missions together during World War Two. When a bombing run is called off mid-flight due to heavy cloud cover, Buzz completes it anyway, and causes the death of several airmen in the process. His insubordination becomes a problem, but because he's the best pilot they've got, the army is forced to keep him on. Meanwhile, Bo hooks up with Daphne (Shirley Anne Field), a girl dating one of the men in the downed plane. Buzz's irresponsibility and Bo's relationship pulls the two friends apart, especially when Buzz looks set to make a move on Daphne.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Django Unchained

Bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees a slave called Django (Jamie Foxx), who has information on the Brittle Brothers, Schultz's next targets. After Django helps him find them, Schultz agrees to train Django to work alongside him as a partner, with the intention of saving Django's wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), from plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). But to save Broomhilda, the pair will also have to get past Candie's ruthless housemaster Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Top 10... Philip Seymour Hoffman Films

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the recipient of this month's Acting School over at the LAMB. I'm trying to get a bit more involved with the Lamb (hence my appearing in two recent podcasts, and hopefully a few more in the future), so I figured I'd compile a list of my favourite of Hoffman's films for the school, which gets posted over at the LAMB on Monday.

I've always liked Hoffman as an actor, and not just because we're of a similar build, especially around the midriff. He's able to deliver a huge variety of performances, most of which I think I've covered in this list. And I'm aware there's a few of his more prominent films that I've missed off, but that's generally because I haven't seen them yet (The Master, for instance). And this is a list of his best films, not his best performances, so whilst he was thoroughly deserving of his Oscar for Capote, it doesn't appear on my list because as a film I'm not overly keen on it.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Carol (Julianne Moore) is a bored housewife, sorry, homemaker, in the San Fernando Valley. Her husband Greg (Xander Berkeley) is a successful businessman, and the pair live in a lavish home with Greg's son Rory (Chauncey Leopardi). Carol has many friends and an active social life, attending various parties and gym classes. There's nothing wrong in Carol's life, other than her new sofa being delivered in black rather than teal, yet she suddenly finds herself becoming ill, which she soon believes to be caused by the "chemicals" found in modern life. But is she suffering from a real sickness, or is it all in her head? Maybe moving to the secluded, desert-based Wrenwood Centre, a "chemical-free facility", will result in a cure.

Friday, 18 January 2013


Iris Murdoch (Judi Dench), the celebrated British author, is writing her 26th, and ultimately last, novel, Jackson's Dilemma, when she begins to experience the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Her husband, John Bayley (Jim Broadbent), always the less dominant half of the couple, struggles to cope with the situation and care for his wife. Meanwhile, we see the beginnings of their relationship, as their younger selves (Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville) meet as students at Oxford University whilst she attempts to get her first novel published.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


After their sons have an altercation in the park, their parents get together to settle the matter over coffee and cobbler. Just as the Cowans (Kate Wisnlet and Christoph Waltz), the parents of the fight's assailant, are leaving the Longstreet's (Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) apartment, they end up being drawn together for the rest of the evening under various circumstances, be it phone calls, not wishing to upset the neighbours by arguing outside or one of the party throwing up everywhere. Tempers fray, bonds are formed and broken, alcohol is drunk and all politeness and civility is thrown out the window.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Les Miserables

Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has worked his last day of nineteen years of slavery, all for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, and subsequently  trying to escape. Upon his release he is informed by policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) that he will be on parole for the rest of his life, so Valjean flees and tries to make a life for himself anew. Some years later, Valjean has become a successful businessman, but Javert remains on his tail, which distracts Valjean at a key moment, which in turn dramatically affects the future of one of Valjean's employees, Fantaine (Anne Hathaway), and her young daughter Cosette. Some years later, and on the eve of the French Revolution, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) becomes the object of affections of Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a young but prominent revolutionary, who is himself adored by Eponine (Samantha Barks).

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Citizen Kane

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), an unimaginably wealthy publishing kingpin, drops his snowglobe and dies alone in his bed. His last dying word, "Rosebud," sends the national newspaper journalists into a frenzy, all eager to discover it's true meaning, in the hope of shedding some light onto the tycoon. Led by Jerry Thompson (William Alland), the reporters speak with Kane's former wife, friends, employees, business partner and butler on their search for the truth. Could it be the name of a girl? A dog? A boat? Or just the rambling ravings of an insane old man?

Up until last year, Citizen Kane has topped Sight and Sound magazine's Greatest Film Of All Time list, but was recently toppled by Vertigo. It's been a little while since I've seen Hitchcock's classic, so I can't vouch for whether the change is correct or not, but I can say that I have no problem with Citizen Kane having been up there for quite so long. This film actually appears on all four of the lists I'm currently working through, and so great is its reputation that I can't imagine a respected film list denying it a place. I mean, it spawned the prefix "It's the Citizen Kane of..." as a way of saying a film is the greatest of a specific type. And heads up, this isn't going to be the Citizen Kane of Citizen Kane reviews. So what makes it so important? Why is it revered by so many people? Will every paragraph in this review end in a question mark?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Top 10... Anticipated of 2013

Apologies for not posting this yesterday, we had an impromptu cinema trip to see Les Miserables during the time I'd anticipated sitting down and tapping this out.

2012 was a pretty good year for movies, and it looks like 2013 could be just as good, if not better. Here's my pick of the films I'm looking forward to seeing most this year. There's a few that have already been released in other countries, but haven't made their way to England yet, but in my eye's they still count as 2013's films.

Honourable Mention
Wreck-It Ralph
I've been looking forward to this film for a long time, because I do love animated films that are skewed firmly at adults. It hasn't helped that Wreck-It Ralph has been out in America for over 2 months now, and that I've been hearing no end about it on The Adam Carolla Show, as he apparently voices a donut in the film . I've heard good things about it, but I think quite a lot of the references may go over my head, as I've never been a massive gamer, especially when it comes to the more classic arcade games. Anything related to Crash Bandicoot, Pac-Man, Sonic, Mario, Grand Theft Auto or Portal should be pretty clear to me, but I don't recognise most of the villains in the picture over here. Hopefully there'll be plenty to keep me amused though.
UK release: 8 February 2013

Monday, 7 January 2013


Chaos descends onto the world when a deadly, and highly contagious, illness descends worldwide, seemingly beginning with Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has just returned from a business trip to Hong Kong. The CDC are soon brought in to deal with the situation, but things rapidly spiral out of their control as the illness spreads across the country. We follow the outbreak from the points of view of those desperate to stop it, members of the public affected by the crisis, and the few who see it as an opportunity for personal gain.

Top 10... New-To-Me Films of 2012

2012 saw me watch a total of 231 movies that were new to me. This is my list of the best of those, or rather, the ones I liked the most, and would be willing to see again some day, if I haven't already. Some are from the 1001 List, some from my Film-Makers quest, some new, some a little older. This list does not include any of 2012#s new releases though, they were covered on this list.

Honourable Mention
Return to Horror High
Hang on, I'm going to clarify this. Return to Horror High, one of the first George Clooney ever appeared in, is a terribly made film, with poor acting, shonky sets and a frankly ridiculous final act. Fut it was also one of the most entertaining films I saw this year, because I watched it after a Friday night drinking session, for all the better to enjoy it's ridiculousness. Maureen McCarthy as a cop bizarelly aroused at the site of a dismembered corpse, ridiculous lighting choices and the greatest behind-a-door silhouette of a decapitated head being flung up inexplicably into the air. I still stand by the 2/10 rating I gave the film, because it is terrible, but it was terrible in a really good way.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Top 10... Films I Missed in 2012

So last year I went to the cinema 14 times (technically 14 1/2), as I discussed here. However, and this may come as something of a shock, last year more than 14 films were released, and I've watched very few on DVD that I didn't see in the cinema, so there may have been a few decent films that I missed. Now obviously I can't put any of those on my best of 2012 list, as I can't vouch for their quality. What I can do, however, is speculate on the ones that I missed, with the intention of slotting them into my list once I've seen them, hopefully later this year. In fact, at least two of my list will definitely be seen this year, as they're amongst my DVD collection of unseen films. So, without further ado, here are the ten films I wished I'd seen last year, but for some reason or another I haven't (generally a lack of time, money, distribution or organisation).

Honourable Mention
God Bless America
I feel like I've already seen this due to the sheer volume of podcasts director Bobcat Goldthwaite appeared on last year talking about this film. It sounds right up my alley too - sick of society, a terminally ill man (Mad Men's Joel Murray) goes on a road trip to rid the world of evil people, and is joined along the way by a potentially sociopathic 16-year old girl. Apparently, there's a scene where a baby explodes. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing, but either way I feel that I need to find out. I haven't seen it yet because I don't think it came anywhere near me cinema-wise (all i have are two Odeons and an Empire cinema nearby, plus a one-screen tiny little cinema that most people would call arthouse, but they rarely show anything I want to see).

Friday, 4 January 2013

Top 10... Films Of 2012

As promised, the Top lists have returned, with a vengeance! For you see, what once was five has now become ten, because y'know, when something was already a struggle to do on a weekly basis, why not double the workload? Anyway, this list is a fairly standard one for this time of year, looking back at the best films of 2012. I went to the cinema a total of 14 times last year, and for the most part I only saw films that I actually wanted to see, hence why I was able to make this list, as most of what I saw I genuinely loved. The three films that didn't quite make it this year were, in ascending order, The Woman in Black (partly because of my terrible film experience, partly because it was quite a boring film that I didn't want to see anyway, thanks Craig), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (wonderful viewing experience, good film that genuinely made me happy) and Prometheus (massive disappointment, but probably better than I originally gave it credit for, if you remove my impossible expectations).

Honourable Mention
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists
Aardman! In an animation with monkeys! Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and everything else this Bristol-based animation studio have provided (except maybe Flushed Away) are British treasures, and the closest this country is ever likely to come to Pixar. This story, based on an acclaimed series of children's books, sees Hugh Grant's Pirate Captain attempt to win both the Pirate of the Year competition and a big pile of cash from some easily-impressed scientists. It's hilarious, beautifully crafted and packed with a wonderful cast, including David Tennant as Charles Darwin, Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria and Martin Freeman as Pirate with a Scarf, and I've just realised that I don't own it yet and I've forbidden myself from buying DVDs this year, so I can't watch it again for a while. Bugger.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Bear with me here, this may sound a little strange. There's these things called hobbits, which are basically people, but they're quite a bit shorter than humans, with big hairy feet, and they live in the ground in houses with big round doors, and they have a penchant for pipes. One of these hobbits, Bilbo Baggins, is paid a visit by a wizard - stay with me - called Gandalf, who arranges for said hobbit to go on a quest with thirteen dwarfs - kind of like hobbits, but a little taller, bulkier, hairier and grumpier - to travel a really long way in order to break into a locked mountain and kill the giant dragon that's sleeping on a huge pile of gold that rightfully belongs to the dwarves. Oh, and one of the dwarfs, Thorin (their king), chopped off the hand of a giant pale orc (a kind of, um, ogre?) after the orc (called Asok the Defiler, of course) killed Thorin's grandfather, and understandably Asok is out for revenge. Oh, and there's a mass of caves full of goblins, some giant wolf-creatures called Wargs, great big problem-solving eagles and another wizard called Radagast the Brown who keeps birds under his hat, their faeces in his hair and rides a sleigh pulled by big rabbits. Actually, now I think about it, there's nothing all that weird about any of this.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Obligatory New Year's Post

Happy New Year! 2012 is officially over, so it's time to look forward to 2013. I've not been overly busy on the site for the past few weeks; Christmas is always a busy time for me (as for most people), and I've not had much time for film watching, and even less for discussing afterwards, so apologies for that. I intend to pick things up a little now though. My motivation for this also stems from my New Year's Resolution. You see, I'm something of a DVD collector. At the last count I'm up to 886 (not counting my girlfriend's, which would put the total at a little over 900). Now, as a film fan, I think that's acceptable, until you discover that of those 900+, I haven't actually seen 256 of them. That's well over a quarter of the films I own. This is far from acceptable. So, in an effort to stray ever further from my initial multi-List challenge, my aim for 2013 is not only to stop buying DVDs I haven't seen, but to watch all those that I already own. I don't intend to necessarily review them all, but if there's any that I feel particularly strong about then I may grace you with a review. About 100 or so are on the other lists I'm currently running through, so they'll be reviewed. And it's not just DVDs I do this with either, I've got 80 books I haven't read yet either, including the complete works of Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Jurassic Park and a book all about Lego. If these are any good, I'll let you know.

Violence is Funny

Everybody has their own favourite Christmas films, and more often than not they tend to be those watched every year during your childhood. The ones you can quote line for line, and aren’t ashamed to admit you love. That’s the beauty of the Christmas film, by their very nature they almost have to be sappy, family-friendly, it’ll-all-be-OK-in-the-end schmaltz, and some are so much the better for it. Whilst A Christmas Story may not be my personal favourite, I can absolutely see why others may adore it, and you give me National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Muppet Christmas Carol or Elf every day of December and you’ll find it a difficult task to prise me from the sofa. But this post isn’t about any of those film, it’s about a series of films, all set over the holiday period, which I feel I should write about, because I love them so much. That’s right, it’s Home Alone.