Wednesday, 13 February 2013


I've written you a sort-of song about Judd Apatow's sort-of sequel Think yourselves lucky.

Things get really tough when you're 40
Yesterday you were happily 39
Then holy shit you've turned 40
And that's like probably half your life.

Now you need Viagra to get a boner
Even though Leslie Mann is fucking fine for her age
Despite having two kids with the dude behind the camera
I mean, come on Rudd, get it up and in bruv.

Now you've realised money's tight
Been too generous with your cash
Gotta tighten up as your 40
And soon you'll be dead and your kids will have fuck all left.

Better start exercising and get out on your bike
Wearing all the gear makes you look better
Even though you actually can't ride for shit
But don't worry because it's all funny and at least you are trying.

Next head to the doctors and let him check you out
Make a gag whilst fingering your arsehole
And laughing whilst his face is basically in your cunt
Now you feel better, because being 40 makes you more prone to life-threatening illnesses.

The children are getting in the way
You want a cheeky blowy or a quickie before the school run
It fucking sucks being 40
Still wanting sexual adventures despite feeling too old.

Relationship is getting strained
Things keep bubbling over
Time to step back and re-assess
Pretty difficult when you are 40.

This song probably sounds like
That I'm taking the royal piss
And that This is 40 is a pile of dogshit
When actually it's Apatow's finest film to date.

Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are excellent
Plus the supporting cast are great
The script is beautifully balanced
And its often hilarious and sincere.

So go see This is 40
It's one of the best movies about relationships
And one of the strongest pictures I've seen this year
I'm gonna stop typing now, as I've run out of ideas.

You can send my Academy Award for Best Original Song via Royal Mail. Fuck you Adele, you don't deserve shit. Bitch.

Monday, 28 January 2013

MOVIE 43 Review

Featuring perhaps the biggest and best ensemble cast in recent movie-going history, Movie 43 is a masterclass in comedy filmmaking; a picture so original, so smart and so side-splitting that any of its comedy competitors will be left quaking in their boots.

With Oscar-worthy performances from Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and the sensational Jason Sudeikis, this is a rare breed of hilarity - a film to forever treasure, revisit and adore...

Movie 43 is so unbearably awful, so monumentally unfunny and so totally fucking depressing, it may be the worst cinema experience I've ever had in my entire life. 

Nobody should have to damage their brains and burn their retinas with this steaming pile of dogshit.

If this isn't amongst the worst films of 2013 by December then I don't want to be a film critic any more.

Bieglow, bin Laden & the Backlash...

I realise I have been MASSIVELY negligent with the site recently so please accept my apologies, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, hope you've still keeping your resolutions and so on... 

Anyway now that's out the way; one comes to you with a topic for great discussion and it regards Kathryn Bigelow's utterly masterful Zero Dark Thirty which was theatrically released in the UK last Friday. This is probably a fucking dumb thing to say seeing as we are only 28 days into 2013, but this is undoubtedly the best picture I've seen this year so far and I'm actually glad I didn't get to see it in 2012 or my top 10 list would have been turned upside down, and I could not be dealing with that shit...

If you've left the house over the past fortnight, chances are you would have read an article or overheard a discussion regarding Zero Dark Thirty and whether it is either pro-torture, a propaganda piece or a means to glorify war violence. All of these three things are utterly false and incredibly incorrect, but that hasn't stopped the media jumping on Bigelow's film like a pack of hungry, politically-correct wolves. Here are just a few titles from a quick search on Ask Jeeves...I mean Lycos, I mean....Google.

No, this image has not been edited. I can assure you of that.

So yes, there are massive speculations and suspicions, with many batting against the film rather than for it, but as previously mentioned, these comments are not factual nor essentially correct, they are actually rather misjudged opinions.

During the opening 20 minutes of Bigelow's near three-hour spectacular, there are some scenes of torture; nasty, painful scenes. Scenes which will make you grimace, scenes which showcase the psychological and psychical horrors of war. An early interrogation presents viewers with water-boarding  followed by involuntary stripping and being shoved into a small box for umpteen hours. This is a tough pill to swallow, but that's the whole fucking point. None of these things sound remotely fun and are not projected in any ways to seem desirable or entertaining, they are merely a dramatisation of recent cultural and political history.

In a film that's deemed to be 'propaganda', you'd expect Jessica Chastain's Maya; a woman who dedicates ten years of her life to finding Osama bin Laden, to have a huge blow-out when the Navy Seals finally get the bugger in May 2011. Perhaps she and her pals would take a dump on his body and burn it before getting slaughtered in some dingy Pakistani bar...yeah, that's not what happens. I've seen propaganda films, in fact I've seen so much Nazi propaganda it's worrying, and one can tell you categorically that Zero Dark Thirty is not a project of this calibre - bin Laden's death is handled with great respect and grace; he is merely part of a job that needs to be 'completed' for lack of a better word. Nothing offensive or provocative is screened, nothing ill or judgemental is presented.

However it isn't just the media who have been cruel to Bigelow, the Academy voters have too by not nominating her for Best Director at the 85th Oscars this year, and this must be partially down to the torture debates. How could a group of United States voters not want to award a woman who has captured on film their biggest political and public safety achievement in recent history? It's utterly insane. Plus Zero Dark Thirty is one of the best examples of directorial cinema for many-a-year. Most filmmakers would be proud, better yet honoured to touch the towering heights Bigelow smashes with her exceptional procedural drama. Film classes and schools around the world will reference this great work long after all this hype dies.

In some respects, the controversy surrounding the film is probably doing it favours; more people are talking, so more people are watching, which equates to more money and more essentially free promotion, but I hope those visiting their local multiplexes are going because they want to see this fascinating, arresting and completely captivating film rather than just hoping to jump on the bandwagon of backlash. 

In the war on Bigelow, I'm proud to stand by her side and confront the oncoming storm.

Zero Dark Thirty is in cinemas nationwide now.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [HFR 3D]
(dir: Peter Jackson - 2012 - New Zealand/USA - Cert: 12A - MGM - 169 Mins)

Perhaps the year's final anticipation film for many is Peter Jackson's first part of his latest J. R. R. Tolkien-adapted trilogy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The film sees the director return to Middle Earth; the mythical world which made Jackson a legend to many and indeed the Academy who slapped his Lord of the Rings trilogy with multiple Oscars, but any statues this picture may receive will be undoubtedly ill and forcibly removed from stony hands...

 There is no denying that Jackson is a skilled filmmaker, in fact the term 'skilled' seems a little backhanded; he's a fine cine-craftsman who can compose a shot and construct a frame with a brilliance that incorporates dramatic scale yet gentle intimacy. No matter what epic battles may be ensuing in the foreground, or what vast, supremely plush landscapes may swallow the background, Jackson's camera supremely and sensibly captures it all and he can do it with such finesse that it seems expected of him. However, he isn't a great storyteller. 

 Previous works in his filmography have proven this: The Lovely Bones, King Kong and now The Hobbit; a massively misjudged, mistimed and mistaken feature which screens like a marathon. Jackson's problem is he doesn't know when to say 'cut'; the picture's screenplay is only as good as it's length, and considering this is the first part in a trilogy adapted from a children's novel of 310-360 pages (depending on which edition), the script can't be that hefty. One imagines a good lump of the document is explanatory prose describing the scenes and settings rather than what Jackson needs to truly focus on. We know he can make a gorgeous looking film but clearly he doesn't understand the importance of a compelling narrative.

 This problem isn't helped by the lack of editorial authority he has on The Hobbit either - clocking in at a mammoth 169 minutes; just 11 measly minutes short of three hours, the film is an endurance and indeed patience test that will have even the biggest LOTR fan clock-watching and wondering just why he needed so long to show so little. The film is crammed with unneeded fluff and filler that a strict editor and producer would force Jackson to remove but alas, this isn't the case. It's frankly baffling that this first instalment of the trilogy is longer than Tom Hooper's forthcoming Les Miserables which is not only adapted from a beloved stage musical, but also from Victor Hugo's 1,488 page novel - a book nearly FIVE TIMES The Hobbit's length. 

Still from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dir: Peter Jackson, 2012)

 Adding insult to injury is the newly adopted framing technology HFR (High Frame Rate) which screens a picture at 48FPS (Frames Per Second) as to the usual 24FPS virtually every other picture is presented in. The doubled frame rate is supposed to make the film feel more 'real' for lack of a better word - it's installation is similar to that of HD television but obviously on a much greater scale. To say the eye has to get used to the HFR is a massive understatement, in fact you'll spend the film's opening 30 minutes wondering if you need to visit the opticians. 

 It looks like you are watching a behind-the-scenes documentary on a Blu-Ray rather than a movie; things look albeit 'too normal' and a lot less rosily magical. Trees look like the ones on your street, hillsides and landscapes look like ones on a postcard, and whilst this should be seen as a positive, it dramatically drags you from any sort of cinematic involvement. If The Hobbit has anything going for it, surely it must be the awe-inspiring, dizzyingly impossible world of Middle Earth right? Well Middle Earth looks like rural England on Countryfile for a lump of the picture's first act.

 Once the eye is trained to the format, the picture does start to look better; the few action scenes (it feels like a few considering the gigantic gaps between them anyway) are beautifully constructed and the CGI effects are staggering. Crumbling rocks that crash around our pals with tiny feet for example look authentic, powerful and dangerous, particularly when you are donning those annoying 3D glasses, plus the cinematography and location shooting in New Zealand looks as radiant and beautiful as it did back in 2001 when we embarked on the first LOTR journey but one personally, and I don't think I'll be the only one, couldn't help but think throughout "We've seen all this before"...

 Because the film is so long and for the most part very little happens besides the Hobbits and dwarves nattering whilst strolling past gorgeous backdrops, it's easy to become disengaged and disinterested, and worst of all, unimpressed. Jackson's films are artfully made; screaming talent and impossible amounts of work and dedication burst from every still, but when the viewer becomes disconnected emotionally, all that seems redundant, and for all those who put untold effort into the picture's production, that's a catastrophic disservice.

Still from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dir: Peter Jackson, 2012)

 Plus the film never tries to be it's own entity - we all know it's part of the same saga and collection of works by Tolkien, but it is a separate story with some different characters, and a different goal for the protagonist, yet it all feels in vein. Jackson makes no attempt to invite those who didn't see or like LOTR, it's simply expected, and yet many have the audacity to moan about the Twilight pictures - at least Breaking Dawn: Part 2 attempted to bring in new audience members by offering a new sense of style and identity, whether it succeeded or not is down to you. Too much on Jackson's part feels lazy and that's so incredibly frustrating when we all know he isn't one to sit back and let the picture work around him.

 The performances are fairly good for the most part - Martin Freeman is a perfect Bilbo Baggins; the younger version of Ian Holm's Hobbit and uncle to Elijah Wood's Frodo - his protagonist oozes with charm and charisma, plus his sense for adventure and exploration makes him the likely hero but it's a shame the world he's put in feels reused for the wrong reasons. Ian McKellan looks noticeably older as master wizard Gandalf despite the film's narrative being set before the Lord of the Rings - it's a hiccup that will plague this new franchise. James Nesbitt, William Kircher, Ken Scott and Richard Armitage (who easily shines brightest) are all fun as the dwarves who share some occasionally great banter, and some other returning faces from the previous films slip comfortably back into their shoes. 

 The film's saving grace is Andy Serkis who yet again steals each scene as Gollum - he actually seems more frighteningly weird here and he is one of the few things that truly benefits from the increase in technology. His slippery skin and demoniacally bulging eyes looks spectacular, plus the motion capture suit makes his movements look gaunt and eerie. 

 The Hobbit makes too many mistakes along it's biblical journey that it's moments of greatness seem so far out of reach. It's a tremendous shame as the film had so much potential; sure it's a feast for the eyes, but very little else. The fact that two more of these pictures await, and chances are each one will gain in length as the franchise continues, Jackson is clearly testing your nerves, loyalty and indeed stamina. Those who truly love LOTR will probably enter An Unexpected Journey with tinted vision, knowing they will adore it no matter what happens, but the causal cinema-goer and film-fan will find it a difficult, uncomfortable and seemingly pointless affair. It takes Jackson nearly three hours to translate about 5 chapters in which a good 3 of them would have been eliminated by most other filmmakers. It's simply too much. One thinks not too many will be ecstatic about returning for another 5 this time next year. I for one certainly am not...

By Chris Haydon

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

Being the closing stages of 2012, audiences brace themselves for the awards takeover; films of the highest calibre that offer sumptuous direction, sublime writing and staggering performances - films that are honestly aren't often as good as they are believed to be. Thankfully David O. Russell has dodged this troublesome bullet twice in two years; first with his brilliantly handled The Fighter and now with Silver Linings Playbook which not only acts as a beautiful companion piece to it's predecessor, but also stands tall as a typical 'Oscar film' which isn't typical at all...

 After being released from a stint in a mental institution, former History teacher Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) moves back in with his parents (Robert Di Nero and Jackie Weaver) following the collapse of his job and his marriage, although he's adamant his wife is still hopelessly devoted to him. Soon he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence); a sexy, seductive young widow who too is battling past emotional and psychological demons. The pair hit off a tempered, exhausted relationship built upon favours and the idea that both of them are worthy at a shot of supposed normality and indeed happiness.

 Going back onto that 'typical' remark; yes, films about characters dealing with mental trauma are the cake the Academy feed off, as are dramas about fractured, complicated family units, and even films about overcoming struggles and uncertainty. In fact on face value, Silver Linings Playbook seems so run-of-the-mill, so obvious when actually it might be 2012's hardest picture to pigeon-hole.

Still from Silver Linings Playbook (dir: David O. Russell, 2012)

 It's not a romantic-comedy as such, nor is it truly a drama, or a comment on illness and psychological behaviour; it's all of these things and heaps more. O. Russell who also penned the adapted screenplay from Matthew Quick's celebrated novel, has managed to formulate a film that is surprisingly bettered by it's tonally uneven state. It actually feels bipolar like it's characters; undecided, unpredictable and consequently, utterly engrossing. 

 Not a dull moment passes due to such a brilliant screenplay which is bound for Oscar glory - I'd put money on it, plus some of the year's best collective performances as well as a brilliantly supportive soundtrack, lovingly suburban cinematography and some supremely stylised direction. In short, Silver Linings Playbook has it all to offer it's spectator.

 O. Russell captures the film with a brilliant intimacy; you are there with the family in amongst the madness, the tenderness and the sheer frustration of the cards life has dealt. His film screens with bursting realism, yet it's hinged upon some of the year's funniest and snappiest dialogue. Usually a big laugh can drag you from the drama, but not here, instead the chuckles feel like nervous twitches; a comforting reaction to the suppressed mayhem that ensues within the Solitano household. 

 It isn't just Pat who clearly has issues inside the home, Pat Sr., played wonderfully by Di Nero in his best screen role for years, suffers with intoxicating OCD. Being Philadelphia's biggest Eagles fan, he risks his pride, money and welfare on their games because of his certainties in his compulsive betting routine. Plus Dolores, again dazzlingly handled by Weaver, has to deal with all of this oddity and she manages by unhealthily attempting to constantly keep the peace. 

 The film is very similar to The Fighter in regards to construction and screened substance - both films portray a unstable family, both present ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and both have a honesty that only betters the viewing experience. Silver Linings Playbook's dancing plot elements are filmed and framed much like the boxing bouts in his last work - there are no cheesy montages, only moments captured with beauty and dedication.

Still from Silver Linings Playbook (dir: David O. Russell, 2012)

 The real Oscar money to grab at the bookies however is on the two central performances from Cooper and Lawrence. Playing Pat must have been a challenge; he's an emotionally tarnished, mentally distraught and fractured figure, someone who has to re-adjust and re-build. Cooper has never taken on such a weighted role before but you wouldn't believe it. This is undoubtedly a career-best performance and a career-making turn too - he will get nominated and it wouldn't surprise me if he grabbed the statue. Whilst one feels Joaquin Phoenix is the rightful owner for The Master, it's a delight to see just what Cooper is capable of. Now stop making those horrible Hangover films for goodness sake...

 Lawrence's performance on the other-hand is the scene-stealer. She absolutely dominates Silver Linings Playbook and continues to confirm why she's one of the best actresses of this generation. Her direct, bruising approach makes for frequently funny and uncomfortable viewing. This is probably her most complex role since her breakout performance in the masterful Winter's Bone and she offers the same raw power and finesse here, despite this being a significantly bigger budgeted and kinder film. Lawrence could have easily put the breaks on and still been applauded, but she turns Tiffany up to eleven and the results are dizzying. 

 Plus Chris Tucker is in this film. He's actually in a film that isn't Rush Hour. I know, it's amazing. It's like seeing a rare bird or something...

 Few films this year can provide an audience such heft and grit, yet such joy and wonder. O. Russell's Oscar 2012/2013 petition piece is a life-affirming, emotionally stimulating and blissfully joyous genre-hybrid that excites, electrifies and excels. Silver Linings Playbook is truly fabulous contemporary cinema.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

My review for Bill Condon's Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is over at FILMORIA for y'all to read.
Spoiler alert - it's really great.
Click the poster above for the review.