Monday, 31 January 2011

'Blue Valentine' Review

'Blue Valentine' (dir: Derek Cianfrance, 2010/2011), Cert: 15

I love the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and their bizarre rating decisions. It seems that even in this day and age, the American are still so concerned with cinematic content. They ended 2010 by giving ‘The King’s Speech’ a ludicrous R rating compared to our 12A certificate for its brief scenes of strong language, and then they originally gave Derek Cianfrance’s new romantic picture ‘Blue Valentine’ an NC-17 rating; which for those who know anything about American cinema, this certificate is basically the kiss of death. It allows such a small audience to see it and usually only plays in a minority of theatres. I guess our U.S friends haven’t grasped the content of ‘adult’ cinema yet, and by that, I don’t mean pornography. Here in the UK, it’s perfectly acceptable to have an 18 rated movie in cinemas, but to Americans, that’s sheer madness. So, considering ‘Blue Valentine’ has had a boxing match with the censors, it’s seems to be winning the hearts of critics and audiences worldwide, and it has even landed an Oscar nomination, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about...
 The film centres around Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams); a contemporary married couple who are struggling with their relationship. They have a young daughter, Frankie who seems to be the only thing keeping them together. The film cuts from different time-spans and shows the beginning and growth of their relationship to the present day, where it is basically at its end.
 I am a huge fan of Indie cinema; I find it enriching, entertaining and above all, honest. Indie films don’t shy away from realities like major Hollywood productions; they are willing and able to present a realistic and socially motivated image which I find inspiring. ‘Blue Valentine’ certainly is an Indie film and certainly does paint a truthful picture of married life and what is needed to build a successful relationship. However, my problems with the film start here, and I have many.
 Firstly, this film is miles too long. Its 112 minute running time felt like a real stretch and an unnecessary one at that. For a picture with a basic narrative, it could have easily been 90 minutes and still got the point across. Next are the characters; they are excruciatingly boring and utterly infuriating. Considering this film is about a marriage on it’s last legs, I was hoping for some real passion, some aching pain; actual emotions, but all I saw was two leads whining, moaning and sobbing for nearly two hours. Reviews also lead me to believe that domestic violence was a feature, which as morbid as it sounds, after 70 minutes of mind-numbing boredom I hoped there was, but there wasn’t. The film also tries to sway the audience by making us hate Dean and love Cindy, which to me made no sense at all. Dean is clearly the nicer character, who although has problems, is desperate and willing to re-build their relationship. Plus, he is an excellent father. Cindy on the other hand, is a sly and malicious character who shows no interest in her husband or in their marriage.
 ‘Blue Valentine’ tries to be daring with its tale and content; it contains brief and fairly mild sex scenes and some strong language, but it’s certainly nothing that should have shaken the Americans. An R rating would have been the right first choice, and the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) got it spot on here with a 15 certificate. I just wished it had tried harder to be a better film rather than a risqué one. I was really excited to see this having heard numerous good things and being a fan of Ryan Gosling, but I was cripplingly disappointed.
 The performances aren’t bad, but they are certainly not that interesting. Gosling is the best thing about the film, at points he is very dimensional and kept the film going; however, the same can’t be said for Williams who gives an incredibly average performance. She may shout, cry and moan a lot, but that doesn’t make her any good. I am utterly baffled as to why she was Oscar nominated, it’s ridiculous. This film didn’t need to be considered by the Academy anyway but I would have given the nomination to Gosling over Williams if needs be.
 There are so many better features about marriage and relationships in this context; for me, ‘Closer’ (2006) is the first choice and is a sheer masterwork that really examines relationships under a careful eye, and the brilliant ‘Revolutionary Road’ (2008) peels back the layers of a suburban couple to reveal it’s dark and distressing centre. I would recommend these two far superior films over ‘Blue Valentine’ any day.
 I’m confused as to why this has had such an embracing response from so many, but the ‘Blue Valentine’ I watched was a predictable, empty and lifeless picture that only seemed slightly glued together by a single performance.

As dull as dishwater; a painful film that wants to be good but consistently fails. The only reason I gave this two is for Gosling.
By Chris Haydon

Saturday, 29 January 2011

'Hereafter' Review

'Hereafter' (dir: Clint Eastwood, 2010/2011), Cert: 12A

Clint Eastwood is basically a dictionary definition of cinema nowadays. Known and adored worldwide for his variety of contributions to the industry, whether it be acting, producing or directing, he seems totally unstoppable and has been that since he made his screen debut in the late 50s. Eastwood is usually in the running for a bunch of Oscars every time he makes a movie; however his latest picture, ‘Hereafter’, has only been nominated for one in the Visual Effects category. Clint’s films usually land nominations in the top 5 categories and gain mass critical acclaim, but many critics have snubbed his latest and it’s certainly left a mark. So is Clint really down on his luck this year, or are some just been a little too critical?

 ‘Hereafter’ follows the stories of three people, George Lonegan (Matt Damon), Marie LeLay (Cecile De France) and Marcus (Frankie McLaren) who have all been affected by death. Lonegan is a blue-collar American who used to be a psychic but stopped due to it invading his life, LeLay is a successful French woman who has a near-death experience and Marcus is a young British twin whose brother passes away. The events that surround these people question the meaning of death, and what happens when it arrives. The group crosses paths and lives, leaving the thought of an after-life and contacting the dead to be the only thing to keep everyone going.
 I am a huge fan of Eastwood and I think he has a great eye for directing; he keeps things simple and précised, attention to detail is pressed upon and he never seems to let the camera get too silly and hyperactive. ‘Hereafter’ is a character-driven picture so virtually every scene has one of the three leads present and Eastwood knows how to direct his actors. Although a large quantity of this film has famous faces filling the screen, it does sport some great special effects that may only come in small bursts, but are really affecting and realistic. The opening 10 minutes of this film is breathtaking and comes as quite a shock.
 I think many critics have been unfair to this film; it’s certainly not up there with his best, but this is far from Eastwood’s worst film and I think many have been stubborn towards it because of its subject matter. At points, this film does feel a little preachy and religious but its characters aren’t; they are just people who have been affected by the unexplainable which many just see as a signifier for Christianity. ‘Hereafter’ does have a few problems however; at points it does feel baggy and drawn-out, and the overly forced British accents do remind the viewer of Dick Van Dyke in ‘Mary Poppins’ (1964), but overall I found this picture to be a pleasant surprise and I am annoyed that it’s been so down-trodden.
 The performances are all to a very good standard but Damon is clearly the stand-out; he is really believable as George, a man who’s desperate to escape his past and move on but nothing will allow him too. Damon is an incredible actor; one of the best working today and his diversity and charisma is what’s keeping him so watchable, and he gives a better performance here than in Eastwood’s last, ‘Invictus’ (2009).
 I’m certain this will divide audiences and many will question the film’s messages and meanings, but I was really impressed by it. It’s far from perfect and it does have some niggles but ‘Hereafter’ understands itself as being a piece of character cinema and runs with it wrapping the audience up in it’s often crippling emotion. Regardless of what you may have read or heard, go see this movie, even if it is out of intrigue.

Unfairly battered by most; ‘Hereafter’ is visually arresting, engaging and Damon’s performance is fantastic.
By Chris Haydon      

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

'Morning Glory' Review

'Morning Glory' (dir: Roger Mitchell, 2010/2011), Cert: 12A

‘Notting Hill’ director Roger Mitchell is back just as the award season fire starts burning. However, his latest, ‘Morning Glory’ is certainly not an Academy bother; it’s a light-hearted Comedy that should cushion some of the blows from the bigger Oscar gobblers. The film stars the wonderful Rachel McAdams alongside the brilliant Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford.
Becky Fuller (McAdams) is a young and ambition TV executive working for a morning news company. After a surprise sacking, she is hired to work for ‘Daybreak’; a failing news show that needs to rapidly increase its viewing figures. However, Becky may have bitten off more than she can chew when she’s forced to deal with the show’s quarrying co-hosts Colleen Peck (Keaton) and Mike Pomeroy (Ford). In order to save the show from certain cancellation, Becky must hatch a plan to make the show far more exciting and interesting, and she’ll stop at nothing to succeed.
 ‘Morning Glory’ is another film recently to have been failed by its advertising. The posters and trailers make it look like some average Romantic Comedy revolving around a bizarre love-triangle, when in actual fact; this film seems clueless in knowing its genre. For the most part, this is a comedy but there are frequent scenes of drama that seem to dwell for fairly lengthy periods; which I think is a great thing. This movie feels like it doesn’t want to be another run-of-the-mill Hollywood love-fest, it snubs the romance and replaces it with sharp and witty dialogue, it adds crass and rude comments and frequent belly laughs rather than spending hours drooling over hunks and heart-throbs. ‘Morning Glory’ seems like a fresh approach to modern Comedy and for me; this can only be a good thing.
 The film piles up the laughs in every which way; the constant bickering between Colleen and Mike sparks cackles from the audience and Becky’s manic lifestyle causes the viewer to giggle and smile throughout. It’s a very loving piece that uses the best recipe for American comedy.
 The performances are great, especially from McAdams; she has wonderful comic timing and a great delivery which makes her a grand screen presence and a pleasure to watch. Becky is a zany and frequently hilarious character whose passion is enchanting and her energy is relentless. Keaton and Ford are brilliant too, they haven’t let their age get in the way of their talents and they certainly turn up the heat here.
 As I said earlier, this film isn’t going to cause any kind of storm whilst all the award hype is spiralling, but for those who spare the time to go and see it will have a terrific 107 minutes of entertainment and will leave the cinema with a huge smile across their face.
 ‘Morning Glory’ is a refreshing contemporary Comedy that has its heart in the right place. It’s punchy dialogue, grand performances and quirky soundtrack is enough to please all viewers.

A great film that shouldn’t be allowed to fall short because of award season. Surely Diane Keaton rapping with 50 Cent is enough to make you want to see it?
By Chris Haydon

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

My Award Predictions and Wish List

My Award Predictions and Wish List

Every year the same thing happens; the award ceremonies seem to run in a certain pattern so if you’re lucky enough to win one award, let’s say a Golden Globe, it’s pretty likely you’ll also win the Oscar and maybe even the BAFTA. To me, this can be rather boring; sure I agree certain people do deserve to win all of the big awards, but a bit of change is nice from time to time. Anyway, regardless of that, here on Haydon’s Movie House, I present to you my award predictions, plus my list of those I feel should win.

Award Predictions:

Best Picture: ‘The Social Network’ (dir: David Fincher, 2010)


Fincher’s Facebook fable has been a smash-hit with film fans and critics alike, plus it was a financial success, much like the story’s anti-hero, Mark Zuckerberg. The film sports a brilliant screenplay and great performances from Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth for ‘The King’s Speech’ (dir: Tom Hooper, 2010/2011)

Firth’s performance as the stammering royal King George VI or ‘Bertie’ is exceptional. He has been long due an Oscar, much like Jeff Bridges last year and 2011 should see Firth collecting the golden man along with other awards.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman for ‘Black Swan’ (dir: Darren Aronofsky, 2010/2011)

Much like Firth, Portman should have been granted an Oscar years ago, but her incredible performance as Nina Sayers, a virginal girl cast in ‘Swan Lake’ who falls into a world of darkness and destruction will certainly grab her some goodies.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christian Bale for ‘The Fighter’ (dir: David O. Russell, 2010/2011)

Bale’s performance as Dickie Eklund, a previous boxer and now trainer who becomes heavily involved with drugs and crime is winning critics and movie-goers over. He’s already got the Golden Globe and I’m sure he’ll get the Oscar.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Melissa Leo for ‘The Fighter’ (dir: David O. Russell, 2010/2011)

Again like Bale, Leo already grabbed the Globe for her performance as the fighter’s mother and parent to seven sisters, Alice Ward. Leo is a wonderful actress and I’m sure she’ll see gold this year.


Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for ‘The Social Network’ (dir: David Fincher, 2010)

Sorkin’s whip-smart and hilarious screenplay is a guaranteed winner. It’s quotable dialogue and narrative structure caused mountains of praise with many saying it was the best feature of the film, and I’d have to agree.

Best Original Screenplay: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg for ‘The Kids are Alright’ (dir: Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)

This is probably the hardest category to predict but I have a feeling the Academy will warm towards this Indie comedy-drama about a lesbian couple whose lives are changed when their children meet their biological father.

Best Animated Film: ‘Toy Story 3’ (dir: Lee Unkrich, 2010)

It’s certainly the best animated film of the year and it’s good enough to win Best Picture, but there’s no chance it’ll lose in this category. The third part in the trilogy sees Woody, Buzz and the gang ending up in Sunnyside Daycare centre and they must hatch a plan to escape.

Best Foreign Film: ‘Biutiful’ (dir: Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010)

Many have praised this film for Javier Bardem’s performance as a broken man who allows his life to connect with the after-life. The foreign category is always a tough call but I have a feeling this might take it.

Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer for ‘Inception’ (dir: Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Zimmer’s crushing score filled with pouncing percussion and thrashing strings is a thing of true beauty and it compliments the incredible movie perfectly. The track ‘Time’ is probably the best piece of film music in 2010.

Best Costume/Best Make-Up: ‘Black Swan’ (dir: Darren Aronofsky, 2010/2011)

The dress in this picture is flawless and supports it’s characters wonderfully. The make-up department have clearly worked their socks off too so I can see this movie collecting these awards.

Best Director: David Fincher for ‘The Social Network’ (2010)

He’s already won the Golden Globe and I reckon he’ll win the Oscar this year. Fincher is an outstanding filmmaker and it seems this picture has given him some of the acclaim he has deserved for years.


My Personal Wish List:

Best Picture: ‘Inception’ (dir: Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Easily the best and most original film of 2010. Nolan’s masterpiece has every ingredient required by the Academy to win the big one. ‘Inception’ proves you can make an incredible blockbuster without treating the audience like idiots.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth for ‘The King’s Speech’ (dir: Tom Hooper, 2010/2011)

It would be a crime if Firth doesn’t win for this. A mesmerising performance that will win you over in a blink of an eye. I have no arguments with the ceremonies tipping this one.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman for ‘Black Swan’ (dir: Darren Aronofsky, 2010/2011)

Like Firth, Portman has to win otherwise something is seriously wrong in the film industry. This is a breath-taking performance that’s so complex and layered. Natalie must get the gold.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Geoffrey Rush for ‘The King’s Speech’ (dir: Tom Hooper, 2010/2011)

An outstanding and hilarious performance from Rush that’s equally amusing and touching. In my opinion he is as good as Firth but it seems the nominations aren’t really in his favour.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Marion Cotillard for ‘Inception’ (dir: Christopher Nolan, 2010)

This one is certainly not going to happen, but personally I think it’s perfectly good enough to win. Cotillard is incredible as Cobb’s crazed wife Mal; she invades each and every scene and frequently steals the show.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for ‘The Social Network’ (dir: David Fincher, 2010)

No problems here. Sorkin’s screenplay is the best this year, no doubts. It’s punchy, quick-paced and incredibly funny. The dialogue is perfect for the actors, especially Eisenberg who delivers them which such great sarcasm.

Best Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan for ‘Inception’ (2010)

It is easily the most original film of this award year so why shouldn’t it win? Nolan has had the script for this film in progress for over 10 years, and the results are impeccable. It’s a beautifully crafted and challenging story that only a genius could have created.

Best Animated Film: ‘Toy Story 3’ (dir: Lee Unkrich, 2010)

It must win, simple as that. It’s heart-warming, and equally heart-breaking and is a thing of true beauty. This film finishes off the best and most consistent film trilogy in cinema history.

Best Foreign Film: ‘The Illusionist’ (dir: Sylvain Chomet, 2010)

If ‘Toy Story 3’ hadn’t been released, this would have been the best animated film too. Chomet’s gorgeous portrait of a French magician who travels to rural Scotland is irrevocably beautiful, engaging and probably the best ‘silent’ film since the 20s.

Best Original Score: Sylvain Chomet for ‘The Illusionist’ (2010)

A harrowing and deeply saddening collection of piano and strings that melts the heart with it’s beauty, but then freezes the remains with it’s aching sorrow. The best score I’ve heard since Michael Giacchino’s for ‘Up’ in 2009.

Best Costume/Best Make-Up: ‘Black Swan’ (dir: Darren Aronofsky, 2010/2011)

This simply has to win. The designers and make-up departments went to town with this movie making it as equally astonishing as the film itself. Portman and Kunis look dazzling throughout and the ‘red eye’ scenes are exquisite.

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky for ‘Black Swan’ (2010/2011)

Aronofsky’s direction is pitch perfect here; his attention to detail and soft visuals of the human body are mouth-watering. This is the best he will ever make a film and he truly deserves to win for it. A sheer master class in filmmaking.
So, there you have it! I'd love to hear your predictions and wish-list so if you have some, comment below and let me know! :)

'Black Swan' Review

'Black Swan' (dir: Darren Aronofsky, 2010/2011), Cert: 15

It’s that time of year again where beautiful people meet in beautiful attire, bumbling press members form like packs of hungry animals waiting for a scoop and critics slap their printed stars everywhere to light up the page and posters rather than the sky; yes, it’s awards season, and 2011’s ceremonies are looking incredibly strong. The Golden Globes dished out decent awards, and with the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Academy Awards and the BAFTAs still to come, certain people could have very shiny cabinets soon enough, and some of those people are involved with this movie. The fantastic Darren Aronofsky directs ‘Black Swan’; a picture that blends so many genres and subject matters, it forms the cinematic version of a cocktail that’s strong enough to wipe out a nation.

 Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina for a New York City Ballet company. She lives and breathes dancing, spending all her hours perfecting her current routines and preparing for the next. She is a delicate and caring young woman who is driven by her passion for ballet. After the company announce they will be performing the classic ‘Swan Lake’, Nina is desperate to land the lead role, which the overtly-sexual artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to grant her. Nina’s personality is perfect for the role of the gentle White Swan, however she must also learn to play the role of the wicked and cruel Black Swan; a part she's never intended on playing but rises to the challenge. Nina quickly discovers competition in a new dancer Lily (Mila Kunis); a strikingly beautiful young woman whose go-getting attitude wins Leroy over. Lily possesses the sensuality and edge to play the Black Swan but only one girl can be the star of this show. Through her stress and paranoia, Nina starts to form behavioural habits of the darker swan and quickly becomes immersed in a world of madness and evil, which will ultimately lead to her demise.

 As I said earlier, this film is a cavalcade of genre and cinematic style; even elements of body horror are apparent in this psycho-sexual thriller. Just like Aronofsky’s earlier work, he strives to do more with his screen time, nothing is ever simple with him, and that’s why he is such a fine filmmaker. I wasn’t particularly keen on his last film, ‘The Wrestler’ in 2008 but this year he’s delivered the goods once again, and to be honest, ‘Black Swan’ is easily his best since ‘Requiem for a Dream’ (2000) and on repeat viewings, I can see this being his best picture in general. Aronofsky directs ‘Black Swan’ with such able hands; every shot is so elegant and personal, he places the camera in such a way it captures moments of true beauty that aren’t even main focuses of the picture. He presents the audience with such grace when filming the human body; in one scene we see in slow-motion Nina’s foot rotate as she pivots; it almost looks painful as we can see the detail in her shoes and the way her toes are bent, yet this running direction theme keeps this movie looking like no other.

 ‘Black Swan’ is certainly not a film for everyone however; it may be about ballet, but this is only the surface of a film that presents sexual tension, obsession, hysteria, violence and power in great detail. Perfection is a running theme throughout; the desire for perfection, the need for perfection and the impossible task of actually being perfect which in a sense, actually sums up ballet in general, it may look ‘perfect’ but under it all lies another seedy art form that allows people to get their hands dirty. Thankfully, the advertising and media coverage of the film hasn’t made this any secret so viewers should be aware of what they’re getting when they take their seats.

Still from 'Black Swan' (dir: Darren Aronofsky, 2010/2011)

 ‘Black Swan’ absorbs it’s audience into a world of beauty and nightmarish quality; it’s ferocious attitude compliments the tranquillity and grace of the dance making it an enriching, gothic and dazzling visual spectacle that will stay with you long after viewing. It chokes the viewer leaving them breathless; an emotion that only comes occasionally in American cinema.

 In regards to the awards season, the film has been hotly tipped to be a winner, especially Natalie Portman whose up for Best Actress in all the ceremonies. She should have won an Oscar years ago, and if she’s doesn’t grab it for this performance, then something is inexplicably wrong. Portman’s performance is nothing less than extraordinary. Her portrayal of Nina is a believable and heartbreaking account of a person so dedicated, they are actually blinded. She is wonderful as the smothered and overly-protected virginal girl and she is incredible as the demented and manic woman who becomes everything she ever feared. Portman is one of my favourite actresses and she is exquisite here.

 Cassel is also one of my favourite actors so this film had much to offer me, and he doesn’t disappoint either. Thomas is a creepy character whose sexual desire seems to empower him; his dancers almost fear him. He runs his hands across them and frequently questions their sexual preferences and habits. He makes the audience feel rather dirty which is what Cassel does best. Kunis is also great and this is the role which will gain some well-earned recognition. She’s no longer the girl many once referred to as “Meg from ‘Family Guy’!” Lily is a great character who merges wonderfully with Nina causing such a beautiful on-screen tension. Barbara Hershey also gives a fine performance as Nina’s infuriatingly compulsive and suffocating mother.

 January and February always sees the release of the critically labelled ‘best’ films, but in most circumstances, only few continue to loiter in the minds of film fans and critics throughout the year. For me however, ‘Black Swan’ along with ‘The King’s Speech’ (dir: Tom Hooper, 2010/2011) are the best films I’ve seen in a while and I am certain that they will appear highly in my top 10 of 2011.

 ‘Black Swan’ is a modern masterpiece that celebrates all that’s great about film-going; it’s a white-knuckle, high-octane rollercoaster ride about ballet, not something you hear often is it? As the film draws to it’s close, a track of audience applause fills the cinema as the credits roll, and I’m certain after viewing, many audience members will clap along too.

An utterly breathtaking, intoxicating and uncompromising cinematic experience that’s centred around a magnificent performance from Portman.

By Chris Haydon

'The King's Speech' Review

'The King's Speech' (dir: Tom Hooper, 2010/2011), Cert: 12A

Some British films seem to capture audiences all around the globe; occasionally they are Social-Realism/Comedy pictures like ‘The Full Monty’ (dir: Peter Cattaneo, 1997) or ‘Billy Elliot’ (dir: Stephan Daldry, 2000) but what usually draws the majority of global viewers is our wonderful period pieces, and our latest seems to be storming at the box-office. Already in line for a sack full of awards from all major ceremonies, including the potential to win 14 BAFTAs, director Tom Hooper’s latest ‘The King’s Speech’ is nothing less than a winner. The film sports an incredible cast and has had critics rolling over, so is this film really that good?

 The film follows the story of King George VI (Colin Firth); the monarch who reluctantly took the throne when his brother King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) abandoned it as Britain was heading toward the Second World War. George, or ‘Bertie’ as he’s more commonly known, suffers from a dreadful stammer that causes him to freeze and stumble through public readings and announcements. His wife, Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) decides to seek help and in doing so finds Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush); a zany and unusual speech therapist from Australia who forms a grand partnership with ‘Bertie’ and uses his bizarre methods to build confidence within him allowing him to speak freely. As his war-time speech approaches, the pair train relentlessly and achieve incredible results.

 Sometimes a film can just capture an audience; it can wrap them in it’s arms and hold you throughout, it can fill you with such rich emotions that every scene is a visual pleasure and it can make you want to re-visit it again and again; ‘The King’s Speech’ is one of those movies. Everything works wonders in this film, even Hooper’s direction. The majority of films about monarchs could easily be television movies; they rarely feel cinematic, but Hooper has pulled out all the stops and made this film with great skill and elegance. The story is one of the most joyous and uplifting I’ve seen in years, it leaves you smiling throughout and hopeful for the pair’s success.

 Regardless of whether it humanizes the Windsor family like other royal films, this picture teaches us to overcome obstacles in our everyday lives, a message that never fails to lose any social significance. We as an audience watch ‘Bertie’ and Lionel as two friends or two partners, we don’t really see them as a royal and an Aussie. Their relationship is a heart-warming and beautiful ‘Bromance’ which is surprisingly hilarious, I knew the film was supposed to have comedic elements, but I was shocked by just how funny it was. Their chemistry allows so much room to bump heads and let their egos cause friction; ‘Bertie’ frequently loses his temper and spurts royal jargon, whilst Lionel is the king in his office and enjoys pushing his client’s buttons; he may be dealing with a royal, but really he’s just another patient.

Still from 'The King's Speech' (dir: Tom Hooper, 2010/2011)

 Personally, I think this is the best British film since ‘An Education’ (dir: Lone Scherfig, 2009) because it gathers everything we do best with cinema and mixes it together. ‘The King’s Speech’ is frequently funny, engaging, believable and wonderful, it achieves more than many films could ever dream of. As I said before, every element of the picture works in it’s favour, but the core of the film is it’s stars.

 Firth is jaw-dropping, it’s as simple like that. It’s a crime that he’s never won big awards in America, but he will in 2011. No other leading male performance can touch him here. He plays the King is such a loving and creative manner; he truly becomes his role and aims to perfect everything about it. His stammer is incredible and the word pronunciation and breathing pauses only add to the sheer realism. Firth has always been an actor I’ve supported, I love the majority of his films and I will be filled with joy when he takes to the stage to collect his Oscar.

 There should be no shortage of praise for Rush however because he is astonishing too. Lionel lifts the audience’s spirit with his wacky methods, his side-splitting humour and his belief in ‘Bertie’. Rush is almost the composer to the King’s stuttered song and it’s plays along the screen like a dream. I’d love for Rush to win the Best Supporting Actor as he definitely deserves it but he has stiffer competition than Firth in his category. Bonham Carter is also a joy to watch and she brings plenty of laughs and smiles to the audience as Queen Elizabeth. The film also provides great supporting casting including the brilliant Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill and Michael Gambon as ‘Bertie’s’ strict and unforgiving father King George V.

 The picture also sports a score so beautiful it brings a tear to the eye. Composer Alexandre Desplat uses gentle piano and soft percussion to cushion this masterful picture. The composer has had a great year; he provided a fabulous score for ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’ (dir: David Yates, 2010) and his work here is dazzling.

 ‘The King’s Speech’ is not only the best British film I’ve seen in a while, it’s also one of the best films I’ve seen recently, and I know this will feature on my top 10 of 2011. Like all great films, this picture leaves you feeling joyful when you exit the cinema screen, and that joy will stay with you for a long time.

A total triumph; an utter masterpiece that will win your vote as well as your heart.

By Chris Haydon

Monday, 17 January 2011

'The Green Hornet 3D' Review

'The Green Hornet 3D' (dir: Michel Gondry, 2011), Cert: 12A

Master of the bizarre Michel Gondry has returned to the director’s chair for his latest Hollywood picture ‘The Green Hornet’ which is based on a set of radio and television programmes dating back from the 60s. Coming off the back of the poor ‘Be Kind Rewind’ in 2008, Gondry needs to up his game if he wants to continue making American features, so he’s made a smart move with his latest; it’s written, executively produced by and stars Seth Rogen so there should be no shortage of belly laughs, plus the marvellous Christoph Waltz stars as the dreaded villain which can only bring more to this picture right?
 After the death of his father, Britt Reid (Rogen) inherits his globally-read newspaper firm, The Daily Sentinel. Used to a life of partying and general laziness, the sudden change in his daily routine becomes quite a shock. However, Britt’s life is about to change even more dramatically when he discovers Kato (Jay Chou); a driver to his father and a highly skilled martial arts performer. Britt is so impressed by him and how much he is capable of that the pair decides to become crime-fighting partners, which sees the birth of “The Green Hornet”. All isn’t settled in Los Angeles though as criminal mastermind and ruler of the underworld Chudnofsky (Waltz) is determined to stop Britt and Kato at whatever cost.
 I find Gondry a rather infuriating filmmaker in all honesty; he can be so creative and loving with his methods of cinematic madness, and then he can be so bland and vacant when he’s passed a large budget. He is a French arthouse director; a man who can provide a compelling narrative tale through little more than symbolic imagery, he doesn’t need a budget of $90 million because he doesn’t know how to use it. ‘The Green Hornet’ is a parade of mindless pyrotechnics and pointless gizmos that lose any charm after twenty minutes.
 The main problems with the movie unfortunately lie with Rogen however. I am a huge fan of his work and I find him a real pleasure to watch but he spends most of this film shouting and gasping at Kato which becomes excessively irritating, plus it leaves him little time to make jokes so every line that’s supposed to be funny feels rushed and irrelevant. The film also plays up to the most obvious and annoying stereotypes; Kato must be a kung-fu expert because he is of Chinese origin, Chudnofsky must be a psychopathic criminal because he is European, the list is endless. To add insult to injury, even the 3D is a joke, it’s not used to its advantage at one point throughout when there was plenty of opportunity for it too. I took my glasses off for the bulk of the film as it was mainly close-ups of characters faces which were clearly filmed in 2D.
 The lack of gags and over-indulgence of special effects steadily progresses throughout the feature making it’s already over-long running time of 119 minutes feel like a real stretch. It does have some little redeeming features, but they are so few and far between they become unapparent in the long run. Easily the best thing about the film is the opening 10 minutes that sports a great cameo from James Franco; his paragraph of dialogue is the funniest part of the script.
 The rest of the cast can’t seem to live up to their roles expectation; Rogen isn’t lovable or hilarious like usual, instead he’s irritating enough to set your teeth on edge. Chou is incredible hard to understand throughout the movie and does little apart from kick people and use some strange inner-sensor to detect weapons before they’ve even been exposed; I sure this was supposed to be funny but I did not experience that emotion. Waltz should have known better, he is a superb actor with a real knack for timing and delivery, but his villain here wasn’t a patch on the incredible Col. Hans Landa in Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’ in 2009. The film also sports a minor and rather insignificant performance from Cameron Diaz who turns up as Britt’s secretary and eye candy.
 Surprisingly, considering how damning this review was, I’d still rather watch this again over ‘Be Kind Rewind’ which was a painful experience, but there are miles better pictures out at the moment, so I would avoid this one. It may be laced be funky gadgets and effects that make James Bond look primitive, but under all that lies an empty and dull movie with very little to offer its audience.

It’ll turn you green with anger. Boring, over-long and dry as a bone.
By Chris Haydon

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Vote for me!

Hey bloggers! Orange are running a competition for tickets to the BAFTAS this year and obviously I'd love to go! Plus it would be great for Haydon's Movie House!
I've had to write a 5 word review of a film, I chose 'The King's Speech', and I need you all to vote for me on it! I've supplied the link below so just copy it into a new window! So get voting and tell all your friends and family to vote too!
Many thanks indeed! :)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

'127 Hours' Review

'127 Hours' (dir: Danny Boyle, 2010/2011), Cert: 15

Danny Boyle seems to be somewhat of a hit machine when it comes to cinema, his last film; ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2008) was a massive commercial and critical success and stormed the Academy Awards taking 8 Oscars out of its 10 nominations. He is also responsible for some of the best loved British films of recent times including ‘Trainspotting’ (1995) and ‘28 Days Later’ (2002), and now he’s back again for 2011 with his screen adaptation of Aron Ralston’s autobiography, ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’.
 The film follows the true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco); a mountain climber and wilderness explorer who takes a weekend trip to Robbers Roost, Utah in 2003. He spends his Saturday morning cycling and trekking where he meets two women. The group travel together briefly before Ralston departs and heads on with his journey. During his travels, he trips and falls into a confined space leaving him trapped by a boulder that’s crushing his arm. Here he is stuck for more than five days. Unable to move and low on life-supporting resources, Ralston must make a hugely difficult but rational decision and choose life over certain death.
 Much like the 2010 film ‘Buried’, this picture has to keep its audience engaged and involved with the story in such a small space, which even for a director of Boyle’s stature is a challenge but thankfully, he is able to deliver the goods. ‘127 Hours’ is an emotionally gripping and rewarding film that’s soaked in cinematic beauty and presented with great skill and perfection. The cinematography in the movie is second to none; the golden rocks and blazing sun absorbs the screen leaving the audience awe-inspired by the natural beauty of Utah.  The film also sports a stunning soundtrack that wonderfully supports the picture and Ralston’s emotional experiences. Some songs are uplifting and joyful, whilst others are drenched in sorrow and pain.
 The thing that separates Boyle from other filmmakers is his way in which he presents a story that allows the audience to feel fully satisfied by it’s conclusion; we want Ralston to succeed, much like we wanted Jamal Malik to win ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Even though the endings to these pictures could be seen as obvious, they enrich the audience and leave them feeling pleased and most importantly, uplifted. Ralston’s story is one of great intrigue and power, a journey of self-discovery and belief that allowed him to free himself from his potential tomb and rise again. 
 What really makes this film exceptional however is Franco’s performance; he has to carry basically the entire picture alone and he uses such class in order to fulfil this task. He really captures the emotions of Ralston and delivers them with such passion and excellence; he could be performing on a high-wire. In the sequences in which Ralston starts to hallucinate and debates self-mutilation, Franco turns it up to 11 leaving the audience breathless as he clenches our heart-strings so hard. He is a fantastic actor and for me, this is his best work to date.
 A lot has been said about the infamous ‘arm’ sequence which I don’t want to spoil for anyone, but what I can say is that it’s not that bad; its quite grizzly and the high-pitched sounds surrounding it are slightly off-putting but as a whole, it’s no worse than a standard Horror movie scene. Regardless of what you’ve heard, don’t let this brief sequence put you off seeing this marvellous picture.
 ‘127 Hours’ is a masterclass in contemporary cinema that shows just how important a great character and a stunning tale is needed to succeed. It’s directed with tremendous skill, scored with gorgeous music and performed immaculately.
Verdict: 5 out of 5- A fantastic way to start 2011. A heart-racing yet heart-felt picture about the power of the human spirit that will stay long in the memory.
By Chris Haydon

Friday, 7 January 2011

2011 Trailers

New Trailers for 2011

New year means new movies! Check out some trailers here including one for 'Battle: Los Angeles' which is one of the best I've seen in years!

'True Grit' (dir/s: Joel and Ethan Coen, 2011)

'Your Highness' (dir: David Gordon Green, 2011)

'Paul' (dir: Greg Mottola, 2011)

'Water for Elephants' (dir: Francis Lawerence, 2011)

'Sucker Punch' (dir: Zack Snyder, 2011)

'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' (dir: Michael Bay, 2011)

'Cowboys and Aliens' (dir: John Faverau, 2011)

'Hanna' (dir: Joe Wright, 2011)

'The Tree of Life' (dir: Terrence Malick, 2011)

'Limitless' (dir: Neil Burger, 2011)

'Battle: Los Angeles' (dir: Jonathan Liebesman, 2011)

'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' (dir: Rob Marshall, 2011)

'The Fighter' (dir: David O. Russell, 2011)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Pete Postlethwaite RIP

 RIP Pete Postlethwaite (1946 - 2011)

3 days into the new year and the film industry has lost another huge talent. Many greats passed away during 2010 and it seems 2011 is not holding back either. Rest in Peace Pete Postlethwaite, you will be greatly missed.

My Favourite TV Shows of 2010

The Best TV of 2010

As I've already given you my favourite films of 2010, I thought I would post a video about my television highlights of the year. Enjoy!