Saturday, 18 February 2012

'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' Review

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (dir: Stephen Daldry, 2012) Cert: 12A

Alternative titles for Stephan Daldry's latest:

Extremely Lame & Incredibly Annoying

Extremely Long & Incredibly Preachy

Extremely Boring & Incredibly American

Extremely Derp-De-Derp & Incredibly Tum-Tee-Tiddly-Tum-Te-To

9/11 Killed Tom Hanks and Gave Me a Key

I'm 9 and I Have an IQ of 189 - I'm the Child Sheldon Cooper

I'm a Child Afraid of Strangers but I Spend 129 Minutes Talking Pretentious Crap to Them

Worst Photoshopped Poster Ever

Drive and Shame must be Extremely Angry and Incredibly Upset that this Terrible Movie was Oscar Nominated Over and Above Two Magnificent Pieces of Modern Cinema

It is simply mystifying just how bad Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is and more so is the award nominations it has received. This is ugly, self-indulgent and above all else, mind-numbingly stupid filmmaking.

Friday, 17 February 2012

'The Woman in Black' Review

The Woman in Black (dir: James Watkins, 2012) Cert: 12A

This isn't scary.

Neither is this.


The Woman in Black is certainly the most chilling and unnerving 12A rated picture I've ever seen & it's amongst the best modern ghost/horror features. Plus Radcliffe is fantastic as Arthur Kipps.

Everyone should go see it - expect anyone under the age of 15 despite it's certificate and this is for two reasons.

2. Kids and teenagers are ruining screenings for the rest of the public which is unacceptable.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

'The Muppets' Review

The Muppets (dir: James Bobin, 2011/2012) Cert: U

I've reviewed the highly-anticipated Muppet comeback film for Filmoria.
Click the fabulous poster for the equally fabulous review...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Wishing a Very Happy 80th Birthday to...

John Williams
One of cinema's most beloved, treasured and essential figures.
Have a wonderful 80th birthday.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


Kudos Searchlight!

After having a think and reading back through some of my previous reviews and articles, one blindingly obvious thing smacked me in face like that scene in Jackass 3D...

Anyway, the thing that struck me was that the majority of my most recent favourite films have been Fox Searchlight distributions. In fact, 3 out of 4 - so 75% of the strongest recent cinema has been selected and handled by the brilliant bunch at Searchlight.

So, let's recap those three films and I'll supply a snippet of what I said about them:

'The Descendants' is easily amongst my year's highlights and one could not recommend it enough. This is an affecting, deeply involving and supremely satisfying picture which captures everything that's great about the character-narrative balance.'

 'Martha Marcy May Marlene is a tense, demanding and spellbinding début feature that deserves an audience and attention - it's a masterpiece and a filmmaking landmark.'

'With Shame, McQueen has crafted a piece of beautiful yet devastating art that is undeniable, unforgettable and unimaginable...Not only is it the film that has affected me the most after watching, it's amongst the best films I've ever endured.'

So, if you haven't already noticed, Fox Searchlight are running away with the cinematic competition at the moment, and judging by these three pictures, catching up is going to be a tough feat.

Follow Fox Searchlight UK on Twitter - @SearchlightUK

'Jack and Jill' Review

Jack and Jill (dir: Dennis Dugan, 2011/2012) Cert: PG

Does anyone remember Norbit (2007)? The film in which Eddie Murphy seemed hell-bent on destroying the remaining thin tatters of his career? Well the cinematic 'gruesome twosome' Adam Sandler and Dennis Dugan have made their very own Norbit and in an almost impossible twist of fate, it's actually worse than Norbit. In fact, Jack and Jill is simply a soul-destroying and excruciating experience in which no human should ever have to endure.

 Jack Sadelstein (Sandler) is a happy family man with a beautiful wife (Katie Holmes) and children. However, if there is one thing Jack dreads, it's Thanksgiving; a true family event which means he must accommodate for his twin sister Jill (Sandler). As Jill moves in for the holiday season, the family prepare themselves for some fireworks.

 Admittedly, one has never been a Sandler fan so my expectations for Jack and Jill were staggeringly low anyway, however I was willing to give the film a try and at least hope to smile once or twice. As you can probably gather from the introduction, laughter or happiness was sadly not on my agenda. One does not like to be irrational, but it's almost unfathomable just how terrible this film is - it's simply a mockery of human intelligence and our finances. During one of the film's many appallingly offensive and down-right depraved gags, one caught an image in my mind of Sandler rolling around in millions of dollars laughing at the fact that this utterly repulsive picture will be a box-office sensation, and it is all our fault. Audiences are too happy with mediocrity; they are afraid to stand up and say that this is a travesty, an insult and unacceptable, and because of this, people like Sandler and Dugan will continue on with their brain-rotting adventures draining our hard-earned cash. 

Still from Jack and Jill (dir: Dennis Dugan, 2011/2012)
 The film opens with a series of idiotic twins talking about how great it is to be a twin with added 'yahh's and 'urrmm's as if any audience member is supposed to believe that this is some form of documentary. Then the film continues, and my word does it outstay it's welcome. About 15 minutes in, we are introduced to Jill and we are stuck with her for a further 75 minutes - think of Janice from Friends merged with the Crazy Frog and an American Johnny Vegas; sounds horrible doesn't it? Well if you are lucky enough to be dragged along to this despicable work, then this is who you'll be putting up with.

 Perhaps the most depressing, most heart-breaking and ugly thing about Sandler's latest is that it actually stars Al Pacino. At first, you hope he is just a cameo but no, Pacino plays himself and is incredibly attracted to Jill; it's amongst the most degrading screen performances of all-time. It's clear that this was just an easy pay cheque for Pacino but still, this is the man behind Scarface, The Godfather and Heat, and watching him stoop to this level is simply mortifying to witness.

 The performances are non-existent, the script is filled with dreadful dialogue and the entire 90 minute duration feels like a life-time. Another big complaint is the certificate - usually I agree with the BBFC but it's appalling how they can classify this racist, sexist and extremely misogynistic picture a PG. The rating guidelines claim the film is a PG because of 'mild sex references, language, comic violence and crude humour', all of which would usually classify a film 12A. This is not acceptable for children on so many different levels; in fact, you're children should not see it because their brains deserve better comedy than this - take them to The Muppets this half-term rather than this disgusting and depraved mess. 

 One has not a single solitary positive thing to say about Jack and Jill - it consumed 90 minutes of my life and left me feeling more depressed and irritated than the vast majority of Sandler's previous train-wrecks, or indeed most other terrible features. This is poisonous, unwelcome and vulgar filmmaking that should be avoided at all costs. People need to realise that films like this are bad for cinema and indeed bad for you. Sandler and Dugan must be stopped.

There is simply nothing left to say.

By Chris Haydon

Saturday, 4 February 2012

'Man on a Ledge' Review

Man on a Ledge (dir: Asger Leth, 2012) Cert: 12A

Jake Sully is on a ledge.
Tintin is a diamond thief. 
Miri isn't making a porno.
Anthony Mackie isn't stopping bombs or wearing silly hats.
Ed Harris has had limited hair for a decade.

Helicopters come and stuff.

It's pretty fun, if a bit muddled & clichéd.

By Chris Haydon

If I Had My Own Movie Awards...

Who in Hollywood would not want a Haydon?

Anyway, much like the fantastic Mark Kermode presents his Kermode awards to films, cast and crew who or were not Oscar nominated, I have decided to do the same, and so here is the list of the lucky few who have earned an imaginary and utterly repulsive piece for their mantelpiece/wheelie bin.

Best Picture

(dir: Steve McQueen - UK/USA - Fox Searchlight Pictures - 101 mins)

Best Lead Actor

Michael Fassbender

Best Lead Actress

Elizabeth Olsen
Martha Marcy May Marlene

Best Supporting Actor

Ryan Gosling
Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Best Supporting Actress

Shaliene Woodley
The Descendants

Best Director

Nicolas Winding Refn

Best Original Screenplay

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Sean Durkin

Best Adapted Screenplay

Hossein Amini - Screenplay
James Sallis - Novel 

Best Original Score

Henry Escott
(In Particular, Unravelling [listen in scene below])

Friday, 3 February 2012

This is Nice.

My friends at Fox Searchlight UK were obviously happy with my 5-Star love-letter to the sensational Martha Marcy May Marlene, so much so that they have promoted my review (which I have published at Nerditorial) on Twitter. This has obviously made me one happy boy and it's great to receive positive feedback from a big distributor. Here's the tweet that made me happy, and yes, I retweeted it...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

'Martha Marcy May Marlene' Review

Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir: Sean Durkin, 2011/2012) Cert: 15

Perhaps the strongest and most powerful connection a film can form with it's audience is the ability to keep hold of it's viewer long after they leave the theatre. Recent dramas such as Shame and Snowtown have managed this emotional resonance with one and now début writer/director Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene joins this mind-boggling and multi-layered group. After sadly missing it at the BFI London Film Festival last year, I have finally caught up, and boy was I missing out.

 Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) is a young woman plagued by painful memories and suffers at the hands of extreme paranoia. After fleeing an abusive cult led by Patrick (John Hawkes), Martha begins to try and re-assemble her fractured life with the aid of her sister and her new husband, but this will be no easy task as she still feels suffocated and controlled by her previous encounters.

 After seemingly living in her older sister's shadows, it feels revelatory that Elizabeth can break free of the Olsen curse and stop being known as Mary-Kate and Ashley's third wheel. Her stark, naked and earth-shatteringly engrossing portrayal of a young woman unable to grasp what is the past and the present is amongst the most memorable and bravest début roles in recent years. MMMM may seem simple in terms of it's nutshell narrative, but during it's duration, Durkin's introductory film becomes a sheer example of how wonderful American cinema can be when handled with skill and nurtured with elegant craftsmanship. 

 The genre label of psychological thriller is an immediate turn-off for many viewers, but it would be a lie to classify this picture as anything but. What may strike viewers however is it's ability to make those watching question the formatting and indeed the reality of the world in which Martha resides in. Aided by a rich and tonally perfect script, Durkin plays with space and time causing this tragic tale to unfold in a non-linear pattern - one moment Martha will be relaxing on a beautiful boat in a calm, secure and secluded environment and the next she'll be thrown right back into the uncertainty and traumatic 'family' that Patrick and his merry men have established. 

Still from Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir: Sean Durkin, 2011/2012)
 Mouthful title aside, MMMM never fails to let it's hooks become loose within its audience, nor does the consuming feel of dread ever let up or become undone. Durkin's film is a gut-punch that hangs in the balance and certainly holds a space in the mind. Much like the films of Michael Haneke and indeed John Hawkes' other master-work Winter's Bone (in which Jennifer Lawrence gave a star-making performance), this picture uses slight and précised direction within the taut and gripping environments rather than screaming with explicit or overly-graphic imagery. Seeing as Martha or 'Marcy May' as Patrick calls her, escapes from a sexually deviant select group, the emphasis on sexual activity and in particular rape, are meshed and constructed by dim lighting and stationary camera work. This way the audience understand the horrors that are occurring without showing too much. This along with the rest of the film's visual structure only supports one's claim of it being delicately crafted.

 This is a brooding, haunting and equally melodic work that manages to subtly present such drama through minimalistic activities and blank expressions and yet still be exciting and involving. A scene which sticks in particular involves Martha listening in to sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) arguing about her mental state. Durkin's statutory camera rests on Martha's empty, vacant façade and stays for a awkwardly long time; so long in fact it feels that Martha is staring deep into the viewer, pressing us with all her hurt and emotion - it's a signature hallmark of fine filmmaking and understanding of cinematic space.  

 As previously mentioned, Olsen's performance is nothing short of extraordinary; in fact it seems criminal that she wasn't Oscar nominated - to be able to present such rich emotion, such honesty and such realism is a real feat of cinematic performing and considering this is her first leading role, it's almost an impossibility. Whether Olsen will ever be this good again is questionable, but she is without a doubt a star in the making and her role as Martha in this 102 minute feature is far superior to anything that her elder sisters have done in their lengthy screen careers. Elizabeth Olsen will be a huge name by next year - I'm certain of it.

 Hawkes gives another stunning performance as Patrick - he reeks with sinister qualities and ulterior motives but his humble, vest-laden shell presents an image of innocence and security. His dimensional and troublesome dramatisation of a supposed father figure is wonderful and again, it's a travesty he wasn't granted award nominations. Paulson and Dancy are also fantastic as Martha's estranged family who battle to help her and understand what horrors she faced in her recent experiences. Plus Brady Corbet works in some of the menace from his performance in Haneke's Funny Games remake for his dark role as Patrick's right-hand man, Watts.

 Martha Marcy May Marlene is a challenging, thought-provoking and deeply affecting drama aided by supreme performances, visual flair and Durkin's beautiful eye for cinematic details. It isn't a film you will particularly enjoy, but it will stay with you long after watching and make you question the complexities of the human psyche. This is a tense, demanding and spellbinding début feature that deserves an audience and attention - it's a masterpiece and a filmmaking landmark.

Disturbing, harrowing and essential - Durkin and Olsen create a profound and magnetic work that has to be seen to be believed. 

By Chris Haydon