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.