Tuesday, 29 November 2011

FILMCLUB - Get Involved!

Yesterday afternoon, the website and educational charity FILMCLUB supplied fans with a live video interview for 'Hugo' in which stars Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz attended to answer questions. The difference with this interview however was that the majority of questions were submitted from school children of a variety of ages.

 FILMCLUB allows children and indeed their schools to become educationally involved with cinema and view it as an academic form as well as an artistic or entertainment source. Seeing as I personally studied film throughout school and to degree level, this is something that's very dear to me. All too often, the study of cinema is snubbed for being 'false' or 'lazy' when actually it's as equally valid and complex as say English Literature - rather than studying a novel as text, you study a picture as text. Readings and all kinds of educational theories pour from movies and it is wonderful to see an organization addressing this to a wider academic audience.

 Children are far more cine-literature than ever before and FILMCLUB clearly want to embrace that. If you or your child has an interest in cinema, or if you yourself are a film professional, you can join for free over at the website (the top banner is linked) and become part of a great and growing community. 

 My question asked to Moretz was answered in rather lovely fashion and I believe a transcript of the interview will be available online shortly.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Why YOU Should Get Excited for 'Hugo'...

It's already opened in the US alongside the tough competition of 'The Muppets' and it hits UK screens in 3D next Friday (December 2nd) but yet, still so many are asking me "What is it?" - so to answer this question, here's a list of things about 'Hugo' and why you should do your bit and go see it. Here we go...


It's a MARTY film.

Martin Scorsese is one of the finest auteurs working in cinema today and has contributed so much to the film industry throughout his lengthy career. Scorsese has also devoted generous time to preserving silent and classic films as well as restoring films from Powell & Pressburger and other sensational filmmakers. Marty, much like many of us, is a film buff who loves watching and talking movies as well as directing them. Sure, 'Hugo' isn't going to be blood-splattered and foul-mouthed like many of his other films that we know and love, but the fact that he has made a family 3D film is extremely exciting and one is hopeful that it can be considered alongside his finest works.


Critics LOVE it.

The praise from the USA has been incredible and some of the lucky few who have already seen it over here have gone mad for it too. I'm heading to the première on Monday night so I will share my review after. The big boys in America have cuddled and smothered it with glittering comments - Roger Ebert gave it 4/4, Richard Roeper graded it A+, and Richard Cordless simply dubbed it "a masterpiece".


It teaches about Georges Melies.

One of the godfathers of the moving image, Georges Melies, is characterised in 'Hugo' by Sir Ben Kingsley and the film preaches much about his contribution to cinema and indeed the art of imagery. From magic lantern shows to the first uses of 'special effects' - all filmmakers owe a debt to Melies and for Marty to do so in a narrative feature rather than a documentary is quite incredible.


Chloe Grace Moretz is in it.

She is one of the boldest and most talented young actresses to emerge from Hollywood for years. At only 14, she has made a sensational name for herself and managed to stay mature and genuine throughout the process. One loves her dearly and cannot wait to see her performance as British girl Isabelle. Watch a recent interview with her on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon below and try to resist her charm and wit - I dare you.


The 3D is supposedly amazing.

Even James Cameron admitted it - calling the film a "masterpiece" too and saying it's one of the most vital 3D films, even more so than his works meaning 'Avatar'. Or perhaps he means the re-release of 'Titanic'? Yeah, he probably means that one because nothing is better than 'Avatar' -  IT'S THE BEST FILM OF ALL-TIME... 

I'm lying by the way.


It's trailer is wonderful and intriguing.

The film's predominant trailer offers audiences enough to understand the location, tone and style of the film without showcasing every last inch of plot or intimate detail. This is an example of how films are supposed to be advertised. I haven't read Brain Selznick's novel 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' - for which this film is adapted from but from what I've heard and researched online, it too is desperate to hide the mystery until the reader dives in. Here, Paramount and GK Films are thinking the same thing. Good on them. I've ordered the book so I hope it's as great as people say.


It seems to be a 'proper' Family film.

Rather than silly jokes for children and risqué jokes for adults, 'Hugo' is clearly built and franchised on it's escapist themes and ideologies - something which everyone can relate to. This is a story about dreams, adventure, youth and discovery. Who can honestly say that doesn't interest or involve them? Exactly. It looks as if it will speak to your inner child, and that can only be a good thing.


Sacha Baron Cohen falls into a cake.

The fact that Sacha Baron Cohen stars in 'Hugo' is enough reason to rejoice but the fact he falls head-first into a tiered wedding cake?

So hopefully this has cleared a few things up for those questioning and has perhaps persuaded you to go see the movie next weekend. Go on, do yourself a favour.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Boys, Pay Attention.


Apparently that terribly annoying Beyonce song was right...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

'Moneyball' Review

'Moneyball' (dir: Bennett Miller, 2011) Cert: 12A

It is fair to think that Brad Pitt may finally take home his long-awaited Oscar come February after starring in two critically acclaimed features this year. After his incredible work in Terrence Malick's sublime 'The Tree of Life', he is back and striding in 'Moneyball'; a biographical screen adaptation of the Michael Lewis text. Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin ('The Social Network') has co-written the screenplay along with Steven Zaillian, plus the ingenious Wally Pfister serves as Director of Photography - so, awards all round?

 Billy Beane (Pitt) is the Oakland A's General Manager and is unfairly handicapped with the lowest salary in the MLB. He dreams of reaching the World Series but in order to achieve that, he will need a competitive and determined team. With such a lack of cash, this seems like an impossible task until Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) enters the frame. The pair soon begin drafting players by using tactical data, statistics and mathematics as a method of making runs, supporting budgets and ultimately, winning games.

 If one called 'Moneyball' a traditional sports film they would be most certainly lying - much like 'The Social Network', Miller's film sheds light on the unrecognisable side of something we all know, understand and experience. Rather than learning about the dirty side of Facebook, this film explains the financial difficulties in the sport and how they are overcome. The picture's focus is not essentially the game of baseball but rather the ability to create, evaluate and submit a team roster by pulling many strings and managing with what you have. In fact, 'Moneyball' is more like an exciting and riveting 2 hour maths lesson rather than a sporting depiction.

 Typical of Sorkin is the magnetic dialogue which is always delivered with that signature wit and irony, and whilst his Oscar-winning entry has more memorable one-liners, his co-work here with Zaillian is accomplished, polished and pristine. The film's style and setting is not one of a usual sports drama either - the majority of the running time is consumed by speeches and characterisation, plus the locations are low-key and timid such as offices, locker rooms and gymnasiums. Yet despite it's limited spacing, Miller's direction is strong and established, and Pfister captures spirit and moments of still yet sheer electricity with his brilliantly skilled hands.

 Knowing that the UK is not much of a baseball nation, you would think 'Moneyball' would be a fairly tough sell, but it's character development and drama is what keeps it fresh, gripping and alive, and what will cause audiences to take their seats. Pitt's Billy Beane is multi-layered and dynamic - the audience learn a lot about him, his childhood and his past experiences with the game he loves. We see he was a player with incredible potential but sadly did not fit the bill and that his position as GM is a way for him to be mended by the game that broke his spirits and his heart. 

Still from 'Moneyball' (dir: Bennett Miller, 2011)
 Pitt gives a frank, honest and supremely believable performance; there is nothing hidden or under-wraps, he is merely a genuine man having a rough time. Seeing that Billy is a real GM who currently still works with the Oakland A's, it seems only right that Pitt's performance paints an accurate and intimate portrait. He is sensational here and one can see both his roles this year getting many award nominations.

 Philip Seymour Hoffman pops up now and again in a fairly minor, understated role as Art Howe - the team manager at the A's, but this does not mean his performance is unimportant or inadequate, on the contrary. Despite limited screen-time, Hoffman reels in the viewer and makes for a interesting 'antagonist' towards Beane and Brand's newly-discovered drafting style.

 The film's biggest surprise however is Hill's portrayal as Peter - one has always been a huge fan of Hill's comedies but he makes it very clear here that his is not just a funny overweight guy; he is actually a very capable actor.  Brand is the brains behind the 'Moneyball' theory and Hill manages to balance his responsibilities and beliefs with beautiful subtly whilst still showing Brand's slight naivety when it comes to convincing the 'old dogs' of baseball. It wouldn't surprise me if Hill is nominated for a Supporting Actor award and he will be worthy of that privilege. 

 Fans of sports movies will find plenty to enjoy in 'Moneyball'  but realistically, this is a character drama that all can relate to about overcoming the odds and uncertainties to achieve a goal and dream - this is a classic underdog tale disguised by a graduation gown and cap. It's one of the year's strongest and most-rounded features that offers it's viewers a great variety at each individual base and best of all, it's a sheer delight to stand with Billy and wear hypothetical foam fingers which are being flashed in the direction of those who doubted or lost faith in him. 

Smartly executed, engagingly scripted and impeccably performed - 'Moneyball' smashes a home run.

By Chris Haydon

Monday, 21 November 2011

Seth Rogen Article For Den of Geek!

I've written a piece on this loveable twerp for Den of Geek - click on his supremely happy face to read it.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

'Welcome to the Rileys' Review

'Welcome to the Rileys' (dir: Jake Scott, 2010/2011) Cert: 15

It's taken well over a year to reach British shores but Jake Scott's (son of Ridley, nephew of Tony) Sundance-stealing drama 'Welcome to the Rileys' is finally here. The film stars Kristen Stewart and is rather stupidly released on the same day as 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1'. This low-key suburban piece was never going to smash the multiplexes but now it stands absolutely no chance at finding a steady audience and this is a terribly sad thing. If you are lucky enough to have a cinema near you showing it, book an afternoon off for a double dose of K-Stew; trust me, it'll be worth your while.

 Doug Riley (James Gandolfini) and his wife Lois' (Melissa Leo) marriage is on the brink of destruction - after the tragic death of their daughter, Lois refuses to leave the house and lives a solitary existence. When Doug has to head for New Orleans as part of a business convention, he happens to meet Mallory (Stewart); a 16 year-old stripper with a foul vocabulary and personal demons she is trying to battle alone. The pair instantly share a connection and understanding which soon leads Doug to become the authoritative father figure in her infectious life but it will be a tremendous struggle to change Mallory's ways.

 Perhaps the greatest thing about Scott's drama is that underneath it's sleaze and character torment, this is a generally lovely film about people who actually care for one another. From the trailers and promotion, you wouldn't be foolish to think Doug is partaking in an adulterous and unethical relationship with Mallory but this is completely not the case. Unlike his 'Sopranos' alter-ego, Gandolfini is almost bear-like here; he is a heart-warming, gentle presence who does not swear or shout or stamp on people's heads, he is just a lost soul and finds comfort in helping a girl who he can see his daughter's rebellious side within.

 This is Indie cinema at it's best - stripped back (excuse the pun), toned down and taken one step at a time. 'Welcome to the Rileys' is a simple and effective character portrait which leaves any major stereotypes or trends of the now supremely tainted genre at the dirty, graffiti-smothered door. Throughout it's 110 minute running time, the audience learn such a great deal about the three characters and about how they each have their own issues and find different ways to cope - we aren't subjected to mountains of unnecessary kooky dialogue or a whimsical soundtrack, instead we are involved in a slight and silent drama that is utter aware of itself. There is nothing within that pulls a viewer from out of the dingy environment we find Doug and Mallory in. 

Still from 'Welcome to the Rileys' (dir: Jake Scott, 2010/2011)
 Ken Dixon's screenplay is often poignant and moving making everything seem utterly humane and emotionally focused. There is a beautiful scene in which Doug buys Mallory a bed and helps her make it. During the scene, he asks her if she can actually make one. Stewart's reaction is simply perfect; she blends angst and fear of being alone again in a matter of seconds - like someone saying "I hate you" before realising that was hurtful and that they didn't mean it. The dialogue between the pair is often amusing too, particularly during scenes when Doug threatens to dock her money every time she utters an expletive. 

 'Welcome to the Rileys' demands a lot from it's three performers and they certainly were up to the task. Gandolfini shines in this touching and sensitive area; Doug isn't able to be what everyone expects of him but he is a good man, and although he is not entirely honest, he makes up for it with his nurturing qualities. Low-key, stark and genuine, this is Gandolfini at his best. Leo is also wonderful as the multi-layered Lois - her issues with the outside world, her marriage and with her husband's new 'relationship' are frank and undeniable. Leo has a clear understanding of character acting and she plays all her signature cards here.

 But the boldest performance is from Stewart - for those only familiar with her work in the 'Twilight' franchise, her portrayal of Mallory will kick you down with wrath and sheer velocity. This is a gritty, raw and grimy side of her that comes out in other smaller projects, yet she still acts with all the insecure and misguided charm as in her blockbusters. This is one of the bravest, most magnetic and powerful performances I've witnessed this year and it needs to be seen to be believed - just don't go in expecting Bella. 

 'Welcome to the Rileys' will be seen by very few people in the UK due to such heavyweight box-office competition but that doesn't take away just how special and relevant this film is. If it's playing at your local art-house/independent, take a seat and prepare to be wrapped up in this fantastic character study.

Courageous, beautiful and slight - Scott's feature may be silenced by bigger cinematic shadows, but it speaks volumes to those who experience it.

By Chris Haydon

Friday, 18 November 2011

'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1' Review

'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1' (dir: Bill Condon, 2011) Cert: 12A

As I've admitted many times before in the past, I am one of those rare film critics who is actually a fan of the 'Twilight' franchise - I love the books and find the pictures entertaining, engrossing and rich, but one is also very aware that they are not perfect and can see why many have issues with them. After the ghastly trailers, I entered director Bill Condon's first part of Stephenie Meyer's climatic 'Breaking Dawn' with some trepidation but hoped that the film would deliver. After 117 minutes, here's my verdict...

 The day has arrived; the wedding of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). As the pair tie the knot and head off on their honeymoon, things soon take a turn for the worst as Bella inexplicably and impossibly falls pregnant causing her health to rapidly deteriorate. Further bad news arrives with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) when he explains the Quileute tribe are planning an attack on the Cullen residence as they close in on the unborn child.

 As always, 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1' has taken a good beating by many writers, but it's impossible not to read these negative reviews and believe they are premeditated. For this reason, one disregards many of the comments - it's not a proper nor informal review if a journalist has already decided a conclusion before even witnessing the feature. 

 Condon's fourth instalment carries the same operatic tone as other pictures in his filmography - this is a strictly visual, florescent work that is crafted around it's dreary-beautiful cinematography and audience-understood characters. Viewers do not need an introduction to the world or previous back-story so Condon and screenplay writer Melissa Rosenberg get stuck into the good stuff from the off. 

 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1' feels more mature and assured than previous entries and whilst it's isn't as action-packed as David Slade's brilliant 'Eclipse' (2010), it makes up for this in a variety of different departments. For starters, the cheesy dialogue is gone and is replaced with naturalistic, human speech. Even the romantic spurts at the wedding are toned down - the Edward we see before a microphone talking to his new wife is a calmer, more believable type. There are no more moments that shake you from the melodrama and cause freak bursts of misjudged laughter, and that is a fantastic thing.

 Secondly, Condon's movie screams throughout about it's classification; "RATE ME 15 PLEASE! I BEG OF YOU, BBFC!" is the hypothetical vibe that rages on. Some scenes, although clearly moderated for the 12A rating, are fairly gruesome and borderline mad. The film's death toll is not at patch on 'Eclipse' but this film is often morbidly focused and at points, lovingly demented. It also features the couple's first sex scene and whilst this is extremely tame and utterly inoffensive, your little Twihard may question why Edward snaps a bed whilst laying on Bella. Realistically, EOne and Summit should have had the nerve to hold the film in all it's mental glory and snatch that 15/R rating, but obviously that would decrease box-office figures and that was never going to be risked just for a little more gore and nudity.

Still from 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1' (dir: Bill Condon, 2011)
 Thirdly, the three leads have grown in talent yet again. Pattinson's break away and role in 'Water for Elephants' has certainly helped his deliverance and accessibility on-screen. He is great here and excels in the emotionally challenging scenes - having much stronger dialogue is just what he needed to shake some of the demons from the last movies. Lautner has progressed significantly too - he was strong in 'Eclipse' but he is fantastic here. Ladies may be disappointed as he keeps his six-pack under-wraps for virtually the entire duration but realistically, this is a promising move. He has clearly realised that he wants to be an actor, not a body and it shows dramatically here. He too is giving more constructed, smarter dialect which clearly aids his role. Jacob is a strong-hearted and powerful young man weighted by love and the Quileute law and this is finally apparent to all in 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1'.

 Like always however, it's Stewart that steals the show - Bella is such a emotive and dimensional character and audiences see a whole new side to her in this entry. She also spends most of the film looking like death warmed up so the make-up department have worked wonders there. Stewart's vocal delivery is firmer, her presence is over-bearing and her body language speaks at an impossible volume. She is brilliant in this fourth film.

 Other areas in which this adaptation excels includes the CGI wolves which look feisty, sleek and polished, the sweeping and frankly breath-taking aerial shots of Forks' excessive trees and plant-life and the location shoot in Rio de Janeiro which is captured with honest and intricate beauty.

 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1' is not perfect however - there is the odd continuity error and niggle. A large portion of the film sees Edward and the fellow Cullens out in the sunshine yet not one of them sparkles which is a bit odd, and characters like Alice (Ashley Greene) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) do not get enough screen-time but these minor quibbles are nothing to get that angry about. 

 If you are not interested in the 'Twilight' saga or have no desire to get involved, then 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1' is probably not a film you would choose to see, but it offers it's audience much more than just a 'film for fans' - this is a dark, captivating and wonderfully horrific romance that tips it's hat to multiple genres as well as creating an awful lot to celebrate if you are a fan of the films and novels. 

 As you can probably tell, I loved this film and November 2012 cannot come quick enough. The end of the world will have to wait until this franchise is complete.

Beautifully captured, fantastically performed and incredibly entertaining - This isn't just a great 'Twilight' film; this is a great example of blockbuster cinema. Make sure you sit through the end credits too.

By Chris Haydon

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

'The Descendants' Review

'The Descendants' (dir: Alexander Payne, 2011) Cert: 15

It's been 8 long years since Alexander Payne has blessed us with his cinematic presence but thankfully, he has returned to restore some order. His last feature, 'Sideways' (2004) remains as one of my favourite modern comedy films and is a sheer example of just how important a great screenplay is. In 2011 however, Payne has teamed up with George Clooney for 'The Descendants'; a character study and 'dramedy' set amongst the gorgeous backdrop of Hawaii.

 Matt King (Clooney) is a successful land baron living what seems to be a dream life. However, when his wife is involved in a tragic boating accident, he is forced to re-build a connection with his two daughters, particularly the bitter-mouthed and frustrated Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) whose return from college provokes greater problems.

 For the most part, cinema has difficulty having it both ways; a film can make you laugh or make you cry, but it's a challenge to mould these emotions together so closely that one moment you are aching at the sides and suddenly feel guilty for laughing a moment later. This is the design and distribution of 'The Descendants' and it is quite simply astonishing.    

 Payne's dynamite screenplay features some of the most beautifully constructed monologues and hilarious dialogue exchanges this year, but it is also poignant and reeling. This is his film and he invites his viewers in to fully embrace it, and in doing so, it is impossible not to be taken by the emotional gravity. The film opens with a brilliant voice-over piece from Clooney in which he states that people think living in Hawaii is the equivalent of paradise - it's a profoundly funny introduction which sets the entire mood for the film's two hour duration.

Still from 'The Descendants' (dir: Alexander Payne, 2011)
 The cinematography is delicate and sumptuous; sweeping shots of the gentle sea rippling onto the golden beaches, acres and acres of plush foliage that swallows the foreground and cloudless skies that hang above the not-so-perfect 'paradise' are all hopelessly beautiful and stun with their realism and authenticity. Payne's direction provides comfort for his personal screenplay too - many uses of close-ups or two-shots make audiences feel involved with the characters. We are not watching them, we are amongst them and are understanding all the drama and issues that have absorbed their bubble which they call life. 

 This being a character drama, terrific performances are essential and thankfully 'The Descendants' parades it's talents in true American style. Clooney, who one has always been a great fan and defender of, supplies a deeply thought-provoking, moving and gracefully developed portrayal as Matt. Using his signature charm in minimal bursts and reserving his true and rather sad colours until moments necessary, Clooney makes his character difficult to judge and he consequently surprises on many occasions. This is fresh and frankly sublime territory for him and he is clearly comfortable within. This is amongst his best ever performances and an Oscar nomination is certainly on the cards.

 Woodley is also staggering as Alexandra; she is so rounded, fleshed and formed that it feels wrong to consider her a 'character'. She doesn't perform like a typical angst-ridden teenager, this is a girl whose life has been tainted and peppered with distress and aggression. She isn't bratty or annoying, she is expressive and understanding. Like the rest of the brilliant young female talent coming from the US, Woodley is earning her stripes and one would not be surprised if awards are coming her way too. She is utterly magnetic. 

 Her friend and silly tag-along Sid (Nick Krause) is also a breath of fresh air - he appears originally as some dumb stoner but soon gets the same development treatment and consequently is involved with one of the film's most touching and tear-jerking moments. Amara Miller is wonderful too as the younger sibling Scottie who is happy to 'flip the bird' at people she doesn't like and ask adult questions about morality and being. She is frequently charming and provides brilliant comic relief.

 2011 has been a great year and Payne's latest is another jewel in the crown. 'The Descendants' is easily amongst my year's highlights and one could not recommend it enough. This is an affecting, greatly involving and supremely satisfying picture which captures everything that's great about the character-narrative balance. Dare I say it, but it's better than 'Sideways'...

Payne continues to prove he is one of America's greatest storytellers - 'The Descendants' is a celebration of comedy and drama. A masterful feature.

By Chris Haydon


Last week, the first teaser trailer and a collection of beautiful posters for 'Snow White and the Huntsman' appeared online and us critics got excited - I posted about it and you can read it here. Anyway, now the rival Snow White feature, 'Mirror, Mirror' has released it's trailer, and well...let's just say K-Stew's picture looks a lot better. 

 Director Tarsem Singh, who has just released his audience-dividing feature 'Immortals' claims his Snow White adaptation is a dark and gritty take on the Brothers Grimm's classic fairy-tale but actually his and Relativity Media's first trailer looks more 'Panto' than 'Punchy'. I guess he got his film confused with 'Huntsman'...

 You can view the trailer below for yourself and post a comment below explaining your thoughts or jump on Twitter (@Haydonsmovies) and join in all the hate. As it currently stands, if there was a fight to the death between these two films, Stewart's Snow White would bring her blood-drenched sword and Lily Collins would clutch her hairspray.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

'Snowtown' Review

'Snowtown' (dir: Justin Kurzel, 2011) Cert: 18

Australia; home of 'Neighbours', kangaroos and apparently great crime films. After giving audiences the sensational 'Animal Kingdom' earlier this year (2010 elsewhere), it's seems our friends down-under fancy presenting viewers with another slice of underbelly existence with 'Snowtown' - a fly-on-the-wall biopic uncovering the stories behind the country's most prolific serial killer, John Bunting. 

 16 year-old Jamie Vlassakis (Lucas Pittaway) is in search of a permanent father figure and a man to support his unwell and needy mother. This space is filled when John Bunting (Daniel Henshall) enters their lives. The two men share an instant connection but soon Jamie's world is consumed by fear, confusion and trauma as he realises the man he has come to depend on is in fact a ruthless and manipulative murderer.

 'Snowtown' is certainly not for everyone; it dwells on decrepit and derelict life in the poor suburbs, it paints a bleak portrait with it's cloud-smothered grey skies and it feels immensely authentic in it's cinematic delivery. This is not a pretty film, nor an enjoyable one, but it is a great one. Début writer/director Kurzel forces a bitter taste into the gasping mouths of it's audiences and forces them to swill and spit it out; his approach to realism and filmic space makes the film feel all the more claustrophobic and indeed confrontational. For a newcomer to be this brash and brave is certainly something to celebrate as well as being a warning sign for future projects.

 This is an extremely violent picture, but much like the cinema of Michael Haneke, it is violent in atmosphere and setting rather than mindless gore and splatter. During it's 119 minute running time, very little blood is spilt or seen, but this makes the grim and unsettled tone feel all the more menacing and demonic - as if what's going on behind closed doors is too graphic for viewers to endure so we simply wait outside tapping our feet and running fingers through our hair as the nightmare unfolds out of sight. 

Still from 'Snowtown' (dir: Justin Kurzel, 2011)
 There is one scene of uncompromising brutality however. A vicious beating and strangulation is screened in excruciating detail and seems to last for a lifetime. The act itself isn't the true horror, rather the humiliation and prolonged suffering of the victim. Tough-nut viewers who have sat through flicks such as Gaspar Noe's 'Irreversible' (2002) will not be too fazed but those unfamiliar in this territory may feel like gouging their poor eyes out to end this atrocious sequence. 

 The film's strengths however lie in it's unknown yet supremely talented cast. Pittaway, who was chosen after being spotted in a shopping mall gives a simply sublime performance as Jamie - the 'protagonist' to an extent who is subjected to this unwanted life yet is unable to escape it's bloody grasp. Considering this is his first time performing, the emotional weight and dramatic velocity upon him is undeniable, yet he seems so comfortable, as if he's been doing it for years. He is quite extraordinary and one is certain he will be reappearing very soon.

 Henshall, also a newcomer, is mesmerising as John - audiences are supposed to hate him for being this foul and depraved monster, yet he is supremely charismatic and bubbly making him a hard shell to crack. His chubby, bearded exterior makes him seem lovable and caring which only forces a much harsher stab of realisation when he commits a crime. Henshall invites and embraces his audience, lulling them into a false sense of security before pounding and disfiguring them with his relentless terror and lack of moral stature. 

 One cannot say I'm desperate to see 'Snowtown' again any time soon and certainly a great dose of comedy television is needed after it's experienced but it is completely worthy of your time, strength and emotions. You'll feel bruised, battered and winded after viewing, but those aches and pains are the signs that you have just been part of a terrific slice of cinema.

The cinematic translation of "bringing a knife to a gun fight" - 'Snowtown' dominates, demands and dazzles. 

By Chris Haydon

Friday, 11 November 2011

Spot the Dwarf!

Last night, the first trailer for 'Snow White and the Huntsman' hit the web along with a series of beautiful teaser posters. With TWO Snow White movies reaching our screens in 2012 (the other being Lily Collins' star vehicle, 'Mirror Mirror'), both need to be extremely different and diverting to truly grasp audiences.

 The Kristen Stewart picture, which is produced by the team behind 'Alice in Wonderland' (2010) sports the same visual flair, dark and brooding colour pallet, and adult nature of the Tim Burton Disney entry. Let's just hope this film is say, better. 

 Below is the new trailer which features Charlize Theron strangle and suck the life out of Lily Cole and then absorb into some form of milk. It's quite brilliant. Also below are the new posters. Now here's the challenge:

 In the Stewart teaser poster, can you spot all the famous faces that have been slapped onto the dwarfs?* Comment below with your answers! Oh, and don't check IMDb spoilsport...

*Sorry the poster isn't bigger. Trying to extend blog width for a bigger image.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Goodbye Murphy, Hello...

If you haven't heard already, Eddie Murphy has stepped down from hosting next year's Academy Awards after the departure of producer Brett Ratner. The pair recently worked together in Ratner's 'Tower Heist' which was seeming to win many over - however during a screening of the picture, anti-gay slurs were uttered and consequently ended in the Academy removing Ratner from the frame. With Murphy walking from the job too, the Academy is in need of a host for the ceremony, and with the internet being as brilliant as it is, Twitter has presented the best possible solution to the problem.

 Ladies and gentlemen, please show your support and click the image below to follow this tremendous page:

The 84th Academy Awards to be Hosted by:

That is all.

Monday, 7 November 2011

It's All About...

Okay yes, 'Band Camp' (2005), 'The Naked Mile' (2006), 'Beta House' (2007) and 'The Book of Love' (2009) were all indescribably horrible and were not worthy of the 'American Pie' name, but we can forgive the crappy straight-to-DVD cash-ins that were only remotely bearable thanks to Eugene Levy. Anyway, next year sees the release of the much-anticipated 'American Reunion' - a proper 'Pie' movie with Jason Biggs' Jim and his band of merry men and women. Who honestly wouldn't want another 90 minutes of sex-filled antics and mishaps with Stifler, Oz and Finch? Exactly. 

 The film now has two trailers online and they are both wonderful. View them here, get excited and I'll see you at the reunion!

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Best and Worst Films of 2011 - Your Say!

It won't be long before I upload my best and worst pictures of the year to the site and probably to one of the other publications I write for (keep your eyes peeled) - but I thought it would be a nice idea if you lot could send me your lists and I will place them in all their glory on Haydon's Movie House.

This is how it will work: 
1. Anybody can send me their lists and they can consist of any movies from the year - so if 'Just Go With It' is your highlight of the year, put it as that. Don't worry about what others may think of your choices.

2. Please select 5 top and 5 bottom films, each with a brief sentence/paragraph about why you liked/disliked them. Again, it's completely fine to say something like "It's really funny and made me laugh" for example; this is not a language contest or a writing test.

3. Please send me your lists via e-mail (chrishaydon_21@hotmail.co.uk) along with your name and location by December 4th. 

That's it! So get thinking, get writing and send your lists along to me! Thank you!

Man + Ledge = Bad.

Sam Worthington's new crime thriller 'Man on a Ledge' is due for release on January 25th 2012 and so far, things look fairly promising. This morning a new international poster hit the web which certainly features Worthington being a man stood on a ledge as well as being surrounding by cop cars and flashing lights. Add some oval shaped font and you've got yourself a pretty cool poster. View it below along with the film's trailer. Oh, and the film stars the brilliant Jamie Bell, Elizabeth Banks and Ed Harris. Bonus.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Bond 23 is Officially 'Skyfall'

Today saw the London press conference for the latest James Bond feature and now all suspicions can be laid to rest - the film is officially named 'Skyfall' and shooting begins this afternoon.

 Filming locations include Pinewood Studios in London, China, Turkey and Scotland. Academy Award winning director Sam Mendes ('American Beauty', 'Road to Perdition') it's at the helm and the cast alongside Daniel Craig's Bond include Dame Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomi Harris and Berenice Marlohe.

 After MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) filed for bankruptcy last year, things seem to be looking up for the studio and swift movement is now elevating the latest Bond film in the franchise. 

 Interestingly, today is the 50th anniversary of Sean Connery's announcement as James Bond for the franchise's first picture, 'Dr. No' back in 1962. Next year will see the series' full 50th birthday however. 

 Here at Haydon's Movie House, we will keep you updated on all things Bond and 'Skyfall' as the film progresses. Let's just hope it features a scene like this...


Trailer for Errol Morris' 'Tabloid'

Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris' latest picture 'Tabloid' follows the stranger-than-fiction adventures of Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen who ended up being front-page news across the globe due to her powerful devotion to the man of her dreams. Her life in the limelight saw her involved with a cavalcade of bizarre mishaps and situations which Morris captures in his signature and personal direction. View the trailer below and stream the film now with Dogwoof.TV

'21 Jump Street' Red Band Trailer Arrives

2012 seems to be continuing Jonah Hill's frequent movie roles and amongst next year's offerings is alongside Channing Tatum in '21 Jump Street'; an adaptation of the popular 80s television show which starred Johnny Depp. 

 The film's red band trailer was released online this morning and first impressions are very good and one sincerely hopes the film is hilarious. View the trailer below.