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.

Monday, 29 October 2012


My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighbourhood. This is my street. This is my life. I am 42 years old, and in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don't know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.

Sorry wrong film....

Skyfall has had a pretty torrid time making it's way to our screens. First MGM run into heaps of financial shit at the end of 2010, then they declare bankruptcy and leave the film in purgatory, then they come out of bankruptcy and aim for Bond to get a universal release date on November 9th 2012 and then here in the UK, we got it on the 26th October. And breath.

To say people were doubtful about the film's context would be an understatement too; I recall the laughter and mocking when the title was released, plus many thought Sam Mendes would create a more dialogue-driven Bond film rather than one laden with action and thrills. Turns out he did both.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Skyfall is it's balance; this is a fantastically exciting, gripping and edgy film that's as equally sentimental to 007's past as well as being wholly original and current. It's flashy but not cheesy, explosive but grounded and smart but not patronising. Mendes' 50th anniversary outing is quite frankly brilliant.

It's beautifully crafted and handled with Mendes pulling out some of his finest camerawork to date. The stalking sequence in Shanghai is utterly absorbing and elegant with it uses of neon lighting which splits the darkness in two as 007 lingers around corners and blends into the night. It's fucking awesome to be honest.  

I won't evaluate the plot because you've already seen it but I will relay this information; Skyfall is a great film on it's own merits and a damn near-perfect Bond picture. It's a highlight of the year and has certainly eased the pain of those bruises left by the assault that was Quantum of Solace...    

Sadly this babe doesn't make a cameo though. Who else was thinking Bond girl?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Every film critic dreams of their first 'proper' review quote used on a film poster or trailer; it's a thing that finally means somewhere out there, distributors recognise you, actually give a shit what you say about their movies, that you are helping the acceleration of the film project in question. Today this happened to me. Whilst browsing YouTube and trailer sites, I came across the new international trailer for my favourite film of 2012, Rust and Bone, a film which I have reviewed twice for Filmoria - once at Cannes and the other a matter of days ago at London Film Festival.

Whilst watching the trailer, I stopped, rewound and lent deep into my iPad screen. Fuck me, I've been quoted. I actually had to double-check that my eyes didn't deceive me but no, my words are there alongside other critics from massive global publications.

I'm obviously thrilled - I've been placed on a film I love so dearly, a movie I want people to embrace, but I'm just as pleased for the site. Filmoria is a wonderful place to work for with some fantastic contributors who all deserve to share this quote with me and to have their words placed on trailers and posters too. The site is worthy of praise and recognition so it would mean a huge deal to me if you readers could do two things: 

1. See Rust and Bone - it's a masterpiece.

2. Visit FILMORIA and view the work of all the brilliant film critics I have the pleasure to work alongside. 

This is a team effort and something that has made me so grateful. Sorry to sound like I'm giving an X Factor sob-story...

Here's the trailer too. Enjoy!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

(500) Days of Ruby...

2012 has been a fantastic year for American indie and arthouse cinema; just some of the releases include Martha Marcy May Marlene, Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Perks of Being a Wallflower and now joining this shining list is Ruby Sparks - a brilliantly funny, charming and engaging comedy-drama that illuminates the screen with passion and intelligence.

Beautifully performed, wonderfully scripted and handled with delicately able hands, this is a complete package tied with a silver lining bow. Paul Dano provides a demanding and frequently side-splitting performance whilst Zoe Kazan is blissfully dominates the picture with charming and engrossing energy as his 'dream' woman Ruby.

Ruby Sparks is a fantastical, magical and loving romantic feature and yet another film that I've got to find space for on my top 10 list this year....


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

And the BBFC's Dumbest Recent Decision goes to...

Certificate: 12A
Contains Moderate Violence and Threat

So now you can take the kids to see Neeson kicking ten tons of shit out of Turkish terrorists. Although chances are your little ones may question Liam's behaviour for which you cannot respond. They're ears are too delicate to know about the sex trade from the first film...

Many thanks to The Shiznit for creating this fantastic image below which I simply had to share...

Liam Neeson dials down threat following Taken 2's 12A rating

Why are Britain's Blu-Ray and DVD Releases so SHIT?

If you're a film nerd and have nothing better to do with your precious time, you may have heard about the backlash that's coincided with the Blu-Ray and DVD release of one of the year's best films, Avengers Assemble.

Considering the film is the HIGHEST GROSSING PICTURE of 2012 beating The Dark Knight Rises, it's fair to expect a reasonably good home media release right? Like maybe a double-disc Blu-Ray with lots of special features and perhaps a nice case/slip-cover? Not much to ask is it Disney and Marvel considering we gave you over $80 million in box-office sales in this country alone?

 Instead us lucky Brits get this shit-fest above; a single disc Blu-Ray with virtually NO EXTRAS (not even a commentary), no slip-cover or fancy edition and even worse, the film has been CUT. This is undoubtedly the most depressing Blu-Ray/DVD release of the year so far considering the sheer potential of this release. Granted the film looks fucking incredible and sounds perfect but that's simply not good enough. Most British retailers are selling this Blu-Ray for £16.99 - certainly at the higher end of the week's releases in price terms and for that money, you get basically fuck all. It may as well be a rental copy. 

 The USA received FOUR versions of the film on Blu-Ray and DVD to choose from. Four. Each of them offering more for their hard-earned bucks. Using an online currency converter, your £16.99 sterling would equate to around about $27.59 US dollars. With that cash, you could afford this...

A set that includes the film on BLU-RAY 3D, Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital Copy plus it comes with the ORIGINAL SCORE and a bonus disc of extras. Now scroll back up to the sorry piece of fucking cunt we get. How is this fair?

 Now US Blu-Ray sets are often better than UK releases and one can only assume that is simply the studios and manufactures decisions; US released picture warrants a more comprehensive US home media release perhaps but then surely the pricing should be more balanced? If this US Avengers set was released in the UK, it would probably sell for about £23-25 which would be about $38-40 US dollars, nearly a third more expensive than the actual retail price in America.

 With Blu-Ray truly surging too, many films are getting the update and special edition sets are out in their droves. Check out this UK future Blu-Ray release of Singin' in the Rain...

The three disc set includes the film fully restored on Blu-Ray and DVD as well as a bonus disc featuring in excess of 4 hours extras and comes with a 48 page hard-cover book filled with interviews, images and exclusive artwork. It sounds perfect; the set this masterful film deserves. Plus it's reasonably priced at £17.99, just a single bloody pound more than our version of Avengers Assembled Really FUCKING BADLY. So far so good; a happy Chris here ready to purchase, but wait, the US release? How much is that? $60? So basically £36 for the same thing? What a joke. Oh wait, it's not the same....

Still three discs, same extras, same book, but wait? It also has a photograph pack, a second book including the screenplay, a collectable set of art cards, a limited edition and numbered boxset and what's that? No way. A MOTHERFUCKING UMBRELLA. An umbrella. SERIOUSLY. And that's only £9 more expensive than the UK release. KILL ME.

 Maybe I just care too much, but as an avid and proud Blu-Ray and DVD collector, I'm getting fucking sick of always having second best. Even British films seem to get better, more expansive home media releases in the States and it's quite frankly ridiculous. When we do a boxset or Blu-Ray release right, it can be spectacular; see the forthcoming Hitchcock Blu-Ray collection and the latest Harry Potter Wizard's Collection...

But both of these sets are available in the US for the same price, if not cheaper. I'm getting sick of importing my Blu-Rays and DVDs but it seems to be the only way to get what you deserve for your coin...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Period Dramas AREN'T BORING.

Last night, one of Great Britain's best shows returned to our screens attracting an average of 9.3 million viewers. The show before it, The X Factor, still topped the evening however with 9.7 million. Admittedly it's fairly obvious that more people would tune into the talent show over Julian Fellowes' masterful Downton Abbey seeing as it's appeals to a wider audience as well as airing before the watershed but that's beside the point of this article. Even with a figure as impressive as 9.3 million, so many still believe period dramas are boring and they couldn't be further from the truth. 

 Currently some of the finest shows on television fall into the period drama bracket - they may not all be about aristocrats, lords and dukes, but they still present audiences with a visual representation of a past era. These shows include:

Boardwalk Empire

Mad Men

Parade's End

The Borgias

 And of course Downton. All of these shows offer as much tension, drama, suspense, sex and scandal as any other major television drama but because the casts are often draped in older fashion or aren't constantly tweeting each other on their iPhones, it's not 'interesting' enough. Even a show like Game of Thrones could be considered a period piece in some respects and that's more grisly and depraved than some pornography.

 What period dramas do better than any other television show genre is bring an element of sheer cinematic grace to the small screen. They are lavish, sumptuous entertainment; shows that have been handled and crafted with true artistry and beauty. Often their running times mirror a 90 minute feature film too which only emphasises this point. 

 Yes sometimes the dramatic dialogue changes can take some getting used to as well as the era in which the show is set but that isn't enough to be a prude and think it's uninteresting. Last night's Downton was simply riveting, engrossing drama littered with humour and fantastic performances - everything you could possibly want from a Sunday evening television show.

 It's difficult to covert someone into liking period dramas because for many they are like Marmite but if you haven't watched any of the shows above, do yourself a favour and try. I'm certain you won't regret it. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Chris' Top 10 Films of All Time in Pictures

Just for the excuse of actually making a list, here's what I like to consider as my top 10 favourite films of all time. It's an incredibly hard list to compile for any cinephile but alas, here we go. I'm sure the vast majority of you will totally disagree with me too...

The 5 That Just Missed Out:

15. Funny Games 
(dir: Michael Haneke - 1997 - Germany/Austria - Artificial Eye - 108 Mins)

14. Touch of Evil 
(dir: Orson Welles - 1958 - USA - Universal Pictures - 95 Mins)

13. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 
(dir: Karel Reisz - 1960 - UK - Woodfall Films - 89 Mins)

12. Annie Hall
(dir: Woody Allen - 1977 - USA - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - 93 Mins)

11. American Beauty
(dir: Sam Mendes - 1999 - USA - DreamWorks - 122 Mins)


Stand by Me 
(dir: Rob Reiner - 1986 - USA - Columbia Pictures - 89 Mins)


(dir: Gaspar Noe - 2002 - France/Spain - 120 Films - 97 Mins)


Groundhog Day
(dir: Harold Ramis - 1993 - USA/Canada - Columbia Pictures - 101 Mins)


(dir: Christopher Nolan - 2010 - UK/USA - Warner Bros. - 148 Mins)


Meet Me in St. Louis
(dir: Vincente Minnelli - 1944 - USA - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - 113 Mins)


Pan's Labyrinth
(dir: Guillermo del Toro - 2006 - Spain/Mexico - Estudios Picasso - 118 Mins)


(dir: Jason Reitman - 2007 - Canada/USA - Fox Searchlight Pictures - 96 Mins)


Toy Story
(dir: John Lasseter - 1995 - USA - Pixar Animation Studios - 81 Mins)


Cache (Hidden)
(dir: Michael Haneke - 2005 - France/Austria/Germany - Artificial Eye - 117 Mins)


(dir: Woody Allen - 1979 - USA - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - 96 Mins)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Top 5...

...Depressing Movies

Now I'm a happy-go-lucky kinda guy but some of the greatest films ever made are FUCKING DEPRESSING so in Haydon's Movie House fashion (which is a total lie as this is the first time I've done this...) here's my top five depressing films that will make you grab that Ben and Jerry's quicker than lighting and make you sob when you check your iPhone and see that NOBODY has called or text you. Enjoy, I guess...


Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
(dir: Isao Takahata - Japan)

I know what you're thinking: "Chris, it's a fucking Studio Ghibli film mate, get a grip", well I'd love to agree but Grave of the Fireflies is an utterly beautiful and equally devastating film about a young father and daughter who are desperate to survive during the horrific events of the Second World War. Spoiler alert: virtually everyone and everything fucking dies in a bloody, brutal and albeit artistic way.


Vera Drake (2004)
(dir: Mike Leigh - UK)

Not only is this one of the best films of the 2000s, it's also one of the most eye-watering, wrist-slitting pictures in Leigh's filmography and recent British cinema. It feels odd to feel such strong emotions towards a back-street abortionist but trust me, Vera Drake will get under your skin and upset you long after the DVD ends. I bet it's even more horrendous on Blu-Ray...


Requiem for a Dream (2000)
(dir: Darren Aronofsky - USA)

I know - you were expecting this to be number one like every other list online. There's no doubt that it's worthy of the top-spot but I've still got two more cards to reveal. Aronofsky's audacious, incredible and heart-wrenching drug drama is utterly earth-shattering and soul destroying, particularly Ellen Burstyn's character, Sara Goldfarb whose descending spiral into the blackened belly of addiction is simply eye-gouging to endure. This is a sheer masterpiece which deserves to be seen by all, you'll just want a long bath and cake afterwards...



Dancer in the Dark (2000)
(dir: Lars von Trier - Denmark/Spain/USA)

You thought Melancholia and Antichrist were depressing? Man, you ain't seen shit. Lars' best film (yeah I said it) is one of the most unshakable, harrowing films in recent filmmaking. I'm pretty sure he actually hated Bjork, that's how cruel this film is. She learns to speak fluent English in order to start going blind, have everything taken away from her, have all her money stolen that she has worked so hard for to help her son get to college, gets banished from her home after being accused of theft and foul-play and then she fucking dies. JESUS LARS YOU HEARTLESS BASTARD. It's like Precious only really, really good and actually moving. Just typing about it is making me sad.


Irreversible (2002)
(dir: Gaspar Noe - France/Belgium)

No, it's not just because it has that horrific 9 minute anal rape scene which is sickening and virtually unbearable, it's because even in the slightest glimmers of hope that begin to emerge at the end of this reverse narrative masterpiece, you know that it's all in vein. Soon enough, everyone will meet their depressing and often timely fates. Even the joys of falling pregnant is tarnished by the sheer brutality of the violence and sexual abuse Monica Bellucci meets. Noe's Irreversible is one of the few films that is actually unforgettable and it's equally one of cinema's most defining and important releases. After watching, you will feel drained of any life and happiness for a good week or two and you'll instantly want a Happy Meal and a hug. TRUST ME.

LFF 2012: Top 5 to See

If you visit this site often, you'll know the BFI London Film Festival is on it's way and I for one cannot wait. This year has seen a big change in the programming with many films being separated in categories including 'Love', 'Thrill', 'Family' and 'Dare' as well as the usual Gala screenings, Competition pictures and Special Screenings. With other 200 movies this year, there is at least 65 films I would love to see during the festival. The likelihood of this is fucking minimal obviously but still...

 Anyway, out of the huge list (which doesn't feature The Master!), here's the five films I psychically have to see...


(dir: Ben Affleck - USA)

With a fantastic cast, a director on-top of his game and a genuinely thrilling narrative premise, Argo looks like a winner. This is Ben's first steps away from Boston and judging from early word and trailers, this is going to be a highlight at LFF.


Beasts of the Southern Wild
(dir: Benh Zeitlin - USA)

I stupidly missed this at Cannes but I won't at LFF. It's been showered with praise since early 2012 and it sits highly on many top 10 lists for the year. The trailer looks harmonious and gorgeous and I cannot wait to take this journey.


(dir: Craig Zobel - USA)

"Taut", "tense", "terrifying" - these are many of the words that feature in the abundance of grade A reviews for Zobel's thriller which is inspired by true events. I've done a lot to stay away from as much information regarding the plot but I simply cannot wait to see this one.


End of Watch
(dir: David Ayer - USA)

This has been on my anticipation list for months now and I cannot believe it is playing  in Competition at LFF. End of Watch looks like a cinematic adrenaline shot to the heart littered with brilliant performers and such wonderful uses of modern camera and filmic technologies. Some of the trailer above looks like a first person shooter video game and that's just BAD ASS.


Simon Killer
(dir: Antonio Campos - USA/France)

I'm actually surprised a Campos movie is my most anticipated of the festival because I absolutely HATED, in fact DETESTED his début Afterschool - I thought it was the biggest load of pretentious shit I've endured for years and Ezra Miller had the screen presence of a flannel but his follow-up, Simon Killer which stars the fabulous and underrated Brady Corbet looks phenomenal. The film sadly doesn't have a trailer yet but from what I've seen, my appetite is certainly wet. It's also produced by the team behind Martha Marcy May Marlene which is still one of the year's best films, if not the best, and that too featured Corbet so high-fives all round. Simon Killer looks like filthy, edgy gold.

Other Movies in my Must-See List:

After Lucia (dir: Michel Franco - Mexico/Spain)

Blacanieves (dir: Pablo Berger - Spain)

Robot & Frank (dir: Jake Schreier - USA)

Beyond the Hills (dir: Cristian Mungiu - Romania/France/Belgium)

Wasteland (dir: Rowan Athale - UK)

Frankenweenie 3D (dir: Tim Burton - USA)

Celeste and Jesse Forever (dir: Lee Toland Krieger - USA)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

London Film Festival 2012: Schedule Breakdown

Films which look amazing:
  • ARGO
  • Girls Against Boys
  • Ginger and Rosa
  • Room 237
  • Seven Psychopaths
  • Sightseers

Films which look kind of amazing:
  • The Pervert's Guide to Ideology 
  • Song for Marion
  • The Jeffrey Dahmer Files
  • The Great Bird Race
  • Painless
  • Silence
  • Robot and Frank
  • Four
  • Helter Skelter
  • Just the Wind

Films which I already know are amazing:

Films which look total and utter shit:

Films I categorically have to see:
  • AMOUR (again)
  • THE HUNT (again)
  • RUST AND BONE (again)
    • ARGO
    • ZARAFA

Sunday, 2 September 2012

This Week...

You can see these two babes looking FUCKING SMOKING in Total Recall.
You can see Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Moss from The IT Crowd and that horrible fat cunt in The Watch.
You can see hands appearing from mouths in The Possession.
You can see that twat from My Family in A Few Best Men.


You can see Berberian Sound Studio - one of the year's very best and most ambitious films.
Take your pick.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

5 Hopes for LFF.

Not long now until one of my favourite festivals arrives and with the opening and closing films being announced (Tim Burton's Frankenweenie 3D and Mike Newell's Great Expectations), I thought I'd jot down 5 films that I really hope make the festival schedule come next Wednesday. How likely these picks are is debatable mind you...


(dir: Michael Haneke)

Probably the most likely film on this list to appear at LFF, Haneke's Amour went down a storm at Cannes, where I was lucky enough to see it, and the film took home the prestigious Palme d'Or. This is an extraordinary work of filmic art which I'd love to see again.


Cloud Atlas
(dir: The Wachowski Brothers)

It's playing at TIFF next month and it looks pretty incredible considering I have not a single fucking clue what it's all about. The ensemble cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and many more which is enough to sell the film to me anyway, plus it looks visually breathtaking.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower
(dir: Steven Chbosky)

Again it's premièring at TIFF and has all the qualities for a spot at LFF. TPOBAW looks like a charming and insightful coming-of-age drama for which I am greatly excited for. Many of you may or may not know that I have huge problems with Ezra Miller and I really want him to impress me so hopefully he can do such a thing alongside Emma Watson and the dweeby kid from The Three Musketeers....


The Master
(dir: Paul Thomas Anderson)

Premièring at Venice in a number of days before heading over to TIFF, hit-making auteur PTA's latest is making it's festival rounds and one can only hope it washes up along the Thames. Starring Joaquin "the whole bearded rap thing was just a massive LOL" Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, this has Oscar written all over it and rightly so. The Master looks sensational.


Les Miserables
(dir: Tom Hooper)

Please, please, PLEASE. Tom Hooper of The King's Speech fame is a frequent face at LFF with his films regularly playing the festival and I cannot hope higher that his adaptation of Les Miserables makes the bill. With a sensational cast, staggering set design and sumptuous costume, this looks like the cinematic adaptation the masterful stage show deserves. I cannot bloody wait.

Friday, 24 August 2012

I'd Hire The Expendables...

I've only just got round to seeing The Expendables 2 and let me tell you this - it's great. Utterly ridiculous, total preposterous and unbelievably far-fetched yes, but it's still a wonderful action romp that's filled with spectacular set pieces, fabulous design and frankly hilarious dialogue. The screenplay is basically a series of '80s film gags and puns; simply heaven.

 Stallone dominates as per usual plus Van Damme is a brilliant villain. Norris actually makes a self-referenced joke which drops perfectly and Lundgren looks like he's had a stroke. Oh and Crews is nearly as mental as he is in these Old Spice commercials which are quite frankly the finest things ever crafted by man...

 Anyway, The Expendables 2 is a vast improvement on it's predecessor, for which I still liked very much. Having Simon West direct rather than Stallone means the scale and settings for the film seem grander, more authentic; it looks like a high-budget action film rather than just a giant celebration of '80s muscle and testosterone. Plus all that naff serious stuff is gone (fuck off Mickey Rouke) and the narrative is able to shine through allowing for scenes of loose drama and those of comedy.

 Perhaps the best thing about the movie for me is seeing it after watching the year's worst films within one week. It's strange how two 'comedy' movies couldn't make me smile, laugh or feel entertained yet a group of old bastards shooting the living shit out of anything that doesn't speak English could make me feel so happy. I'm not sure if that's worrying or dementedly reassuring. All I know is that I would hire The Expendables to rid the world of these...

Could you imagine Stallone pummelling, Statham stabbing and Crews blasting this stupid little indie prick to pieces?
I'd sleep easy for eternity.