The Iron Lady

When you’re creating a film about the career of one of Britains most controversial Prime Ministers there are a few choices you need to make to be sure you get right.

 First of all you need a good director. Yet we have Phyllida Lloyd taking the tough job of putting the story of Margaret Thatchers time in office onto the big screen. Having only directed two other titles before, one tv movie in 2000 and then in 2008 the ever popular Mama Mia, it was a brave choice. However Lloyd has clearly done her research and pulls it off quite superbly. The second and probably most important choice to make is that of the actress. With such a powerful role it was vital that the right actress got the job. And Meryl Streep just steals every scene.

Starting off in modern day London The Iron Lady flicks back and forth throughout the film chronicling the main points of Thatchers life from a young lady to Prime Minister whilst an elderly Thatcher potters about the house battling with her dementia as she begins to clear away her late husbands belongings. Streep gives an Oscar worthy performance as Lady Thatcher and it wouldn’t be surprising to see her bag all the awards this year.

However, one thing that won’t appeal to many is the humanisation of Thatcher. With so many criticisms of her time in office the film tends to lean on the more positive aspects of her career with her work on the Falkland Islands being one of the main storylines. However it does still look on her least successful times yet still manages to create a feeling of sorrowness and affection for her.

Although the majority of reviews have been looking at Meryl Streeps performance, which admittedly is perhaps one of if not the greatest performance in her career to date, it is also worth noting Alexandra Roach as Young Margaret Thatcher. With all the attention on Streep it seems she is getting ignored when her work was equally as powerful.

With a last shot which will tug at your heartstrings this is not to be looked at as a glorification on Thatcher but rather as a glorification on her work. The struggles she went through in her career are shown with a sense of pride towards Britain and it is clear that no matter what your political views it will be hard to leave this film without feeling some sort of sorrow for Thatcher.

4/5

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Goon (2012)

OK lets get one thing out of the way before I begin. In a recent interview Seann William Scott announced that he believed Goon to be the best film he’s ever done. Now, the storyline. The aforementioned plays Doug Glatt, a dumb son of a very smart well respected family who inadvertently becomes a ice hocky player after showing his strength whilst watching a match. As he becomes more and more popular and finally respected in something in his life he soon becomes a semi-pro ice hocky player and gets to come face to face with a soon-to-be retiring professional. Whilst all this is happening we also have the usual sideline love story with Doug and Eva (Alison Pill – Scott Pilgrim vs The World).

Now, to explain what’s wrong with this film would take up far too much space and time which to be quite frank this film deserves none of. However let’s start with Doug. He’s supposed to be a loveable guy but he is in fact a stupid idiotic child inside a mans body. His role in the ice hockey team is that of the ‘Goon’ (bet ya can’t guess where the title came from) whose job it is to basically, and there is literally no other way of putting this, beat the crap out of the other team so that his team can score goals, or whatever they call it in ice hockey (I’m not sports literate). Now I’ve been told that this is an actual position in the real life game of ice hockey which seems absolutely positively absurd to me but hey-ho. Jay Baruchel, star of such not-brilliant-but-bearable films as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and She’s Out of My League and the voice of Hiccup in Dreamwork’s How to Train Your Dragon has sunk to a new low as he not only stars but also co-writes this abomination. His role is probably the worst things in the film as he plays one of the crudest, annoying person you will ever set your eyes on.

Last but not least lets look at this obligatory sideline love story. Doug falls in love with Eva, a girl who is already in a relationship with somebody yet still makes out with Doug and basically falls in love with him as well. All the while we are supposed to feel sorry for her as she battles with herself to decide whether to end things with her boyfriend and go off with Doug or not. I’m sorry but this was the most ridiculous attempt at a love story I’ve ever seen. And I’ve sat through four Twilight movies.

In all, avoid this film as much as physically possible. If you see a poster for this film it is your duty as a human being to vomit in front of it. And if you want to watch Seann William Scott’s good films then rewatch American Pie.

1/5

War Horse (2012)

With Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg created what many believe to be one of the greatest world war 2 films ever to grace the silver screen. And now 14 years later he has tried the war genre again with War Horse. Based on both the book by Michael Morpurgo and the london stage play the story centres around Joey, a horse whose life is surrounded by the horror of the first world war.

By creating a film in which the main protagonist is a mute animal it was always going to be a hard job getting the audience to relate. Indeed there was no Bill Murray or Dan Akroyd to voice, nor in fact any of the Ghostbusters team (who seem to be getting into the cgi animal voicing business as of late) instead it was just the storyline and human characters to help Joey along. Having newcomer Jeremy Irving taking the reins (if you pardon the pun) as Joeys owner-slowly-turning-into-soulmate was a brave choice and in my opinion didn’t really work too well. But then again neither did the majority of the film.

As Joey goes through the war each experience is played out rather like a tv series. It’s almost as though it was written as various episodes and then each episode was just smashed together to try and make it flow naturally. Which it doesn’t. That does not however mean it’s a bad film. Frankly trying to criticize Steven Spielberg is pretty hard considering how brilliant his back catalogue of films are (bar Indiana Jones 4 of course). So to give him his due it looks wonderful especially in the final sequence where the lighting is just perfect. Also he yet again beautifully captures the horror of war and along with a brilliant soundtrack by John Williams it is a thing of wonder.

In all not his best but certainly not his worst.

3/5

The Oscar Nominations

OK so here we go. I’ve only been an avid fan of all things film for the last three or four years and last year I lost my Oscar virginity by nearly killing myself staying up around 48 hours in order to watch it in between work and school. After an agonizing day trying to get it clear in my head what films, actors etc deserved at least recognition for their work this past year. And so at 1.30pm GMT (5.30am in America. Why? Just Why?) I made sure I was sat in front of a computer watching the nominations being announced live.

So here’s just a selection of nominations the Academy got wrong this year:

Best Film

No Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Although this wasn’t my favourite of 2011 it was bloody well worth a nomination at the very least. If not for Rooney Mara’s incredible performance as Lisbeth Salander or Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross’ equally invigorating score then at least for Fincher’s superb directing. Here is a man who’s bought us such delights as Fight Club and The Social Network and with TGWTDT he proves yet again that he is one of the greatest directors of our time.

And please somebody explain to me what the fuck is The Tree Of Life doing in this category?

Best Actor

Where are Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling? Fassbender was phenomenal in Shame. Words cannot describe how great he was. And Gosling… while I confess I’m not a fan of Drive, it is clear to see that he has become one of the most talked about actors of 2011. I mean if the American Press Association can nominate him for a Golden Globe then why they hell can’t the Academy? And where is Dominic Cooper? His performance in the Devils Double was so utterly powerful that I have since forgiven him for annoying me for a whole year with Mama Mia. And so was his other performance. He did double the amount of work any of the nominated actors did in one film and yet doesn’t even get a mention!

Best Director

Again, were is Fincher? And again, why is Terence Malick getting praise for the pretentious piece of crap that is The Tree of Life?

Best Documentary

Senna. Where. Is. Senna? Why has the academy failed to notice such an awe inspiring film and such an interesting documentary? The sheer time an effort that went into making this is unimaginable. Going through literally tons of archive footage and recordings to mash together a film that will delight, inspire and entertain as well as keep you on the edge of your seat should surely get a nomination?

Andy Serkis

This is meant for the Best Actor section but in all honesty it needs a section of it’s own. In 2001 Serkis shyly approached audiences around the world starring as Gollum/Sméagol in the first intstallment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Except in the first film he only really has a cameo. The tiniest taste of what was to come in The Two Towers and The Return of The King. Ever since, his career has jumped higher and higher later playing King Kong and most recently in 2011 playing the role of Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, one of the best series reboots of recent years. And yet with these roles and more in his catalogue of character roles he has never yet recieved any recognition from the Academy. With no Golden Globes, no BAFTA and still no Oscar he is on his way to becoming one of the most underappreciated actors in the awards season. It seems that just because Serkis hardly speaks in RotPotA he is unworthy of a nomination for best actor. This is a horrible mistake. Serkis was one of, if not the best actor in that whole film and he did it all by playing an ape. This deserves recognition.

 

Anyway that’s me done for now. I’ll report back next month when hopefully all my angst will have died down and I will be able to appreciate the fact that Hugo received 11 nominations and that in 2011 a silent black and white film can still get 10 nominations.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been over 10 years since Peter Jackson really made his mark in Hollywood with The Lord of the Rings and yet still this trilogy is as close to perfection as you could hope for. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 11 years The Lord of the Rings is one of the most celebrated fantasy novels of our time.

With a star studded cast including Sir Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom and Christopher Lee the film is held together quite magnificently. The opening scene will instantly enthrall you and captivate you and in five or ten minutes you will know everything you need to know before the title appears. A hard thing to accomplish with such a rich storyline but Jackson does it seamlessly. As you’re whisked from the battle of Mordor to the hubub of Hobbiton and the elegance of Rivendell you will hardly notice the 178 minutes pass by as Jackson has clearly spent so much time and effort to ensure each location is as beautiful as the last.

A worthy opening to a world class trilogy which will leave you wanting the watch the sequel straight away.

4/5

Shame (2011)

Over the past three or so years Michael Fassbender has been slowly and surely making his name in Hollywood. And it seems that in 2011 he went all out. With four film roles including that of Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto in X Men: First Class. But now with Shame he has really made his name.

Working for the second time with director Steve McQueen, Fassbender plays Brandon a New Yorker whose sex addicted life is disturbed when his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) arrives in town and stays indefinitely with him. As Brandon battles desperately with his addiction Sissy tries to help but just brings back bad memories for the both of them.

Although the storyline isn’t as deep as it could be the acting makes up for it. Fassbender is flawless as Brandon and Mulligan not only shows us yet again that she can act but also proves she has a fine talent for singing. Her rendition of New York, New York is a thing of wonder and will never cease to astound and amaze.

Dialogue wise it had about as much as Drive, a film which I can quite honestly say needed more (controversial I know but it’s not my fault everyone else is wrong) however the silence is needed in this to make way for the acting and cinematography. With this role near enough defining Fassbender as an actor I look forward to another collaboration with McQueen.

5/5

The Artist

To be quite honest this film hardly needs an introduction any more. Maybe a few months ago you wouldn’t have heard of The Artist but I can pretty much guarantee that most readers will have by now.

But, just in case you haven’t and, just because it’s impossible to write, well anything without an introduction, let me indulge you albeit only briefly. The Artist was released in America back in November and since then has become one of the most talked about films of 2011. With whispers of Oscar glory turning quickly into screams and three Golden Globes already pocketed only a few hours ago, including Best Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy, it has already become an instant classic.

Shot entirely in black and white and with a smaller screen ratio, this will bring you back to the days when film had more heart and soul, something which unfortunately has become less and less over the years. The film follows silent movie star George Valentin (Played by the brilliant Jean Dujardin) as he struggles to keep his fame alive along with silent movies as the film industry evolves with the introduction of ‘talkies’. The opening scene alone just shows you what to expect for the next 100 minutes as Valentin screams an unheard phrase followed by a title card revealing the words ‘I will not speak!’ and indeed he doesn’t.

Although this is essentially a love letter to silent film, it soon turns into a funeral for it as Valentin is surrounded by talkies overpowering the silent film industry. As he tries to stand his ground by branching out on his own to continue silent filmmaking, everybody else around him is moving forward with the talkies including Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) Hollywoods newest star whose big break was made, ironically, thanks to Valentin.

As the awards season officially began just under 24 hours ago with the Golden Globes and The Artist recieving 3 out of its 6 nominations it is almost sure to become an instant classic. The only worry with this is the chance of Hollywood reinventing the silent movie and no doubt killing this rightly under-used form of filmmaking.

4/5

A Perfect World (1993)

Well after four days of frantically searching for the perfect film to start 2012 off I finally gave up and ended up starting from the front of the alphabet on my ever expanding DVD shelf. And it seems I found the perfect film. Quite fittingly entitled A Perfect World.

Why is it a perfect film to begin the year with you ask? Well it’s a Clint Eastwood film. That’s about all you need for a good film to be quite honest. Having received about 53 of his films on dvd for christmas you’ll probably be seeing a lot of reviews featuring Eastwood over the next year or so.

Anyway on to the film. The storyline is quite sweet in an odd little way. Kevin Costner is an escaped convict who finds himself abducting an 8 year old child. Now at this part in the synopsis you’d probably expect me to describe a clichéd thriller in which Clint Eastwood plays the cop desperately trying to rescue said child from the clutches of cruel kidnapper Costner. And you’d be half right.

Indeed Eastwood does play the cop tracking down Costner in a sort of cat and mouse chase. However Costner is as cruel as Mickey Mouse throughout most of the film. Yes there are obvious hints that he is a bad guy but the film progresses much like a road trip movie. As Costner makes his way across America trying to get to Alaska he adapts as a sort of father figure for the child, whom I should mention is played by TJ Lowther, not the best child actor I’ve seen but still good enough.

With a nice soundtrack to accompany the road trip feel to the film made up of mainly country songs which are made just about audible through the car stereo. Eastwood doesn’t appear as much as you’d expect but when he does he pretty much dominates every scene. But his work behind the camera is quite magnificent.

A lovely little road trip movie with a twist this is definitely worth a watch.

4/5

Moviemad’s Top 10 Films of 2011

Well as midnight strikes only one thing is certain to me. There will be absolutely no more films released in 2011. Which means I can crack on with my top 10 films released in the UK over the last 365 days.

10. Senna – The only documentary to feature in my top 10. I went into this film knowing absolutely nothing about Senna and came out wanting to know more. The whole film was put together brilliantly. Using no new footage whatsoever which helped you relive the moments. The story of Senna’s life was never slowed down and was kept entertaining and moving from beginning to end.

9. Bridesmaids – Easily the best comedy of the year. Kirsten Wiig was phenomenal and along with her co-stars, including the brilliant Mellissa McCarthy who stole the show with every appearance. This just proved that women can be equally as funny if not more funny than men. Basically the female Hangover, and I gotta say, I laughed a hell of a lot more in this than in either two of the Hangover films.

8. Warrior – Now most of you probably don’t think Warrior deserves a place in the top 10 but in my opinion it bloody well does! I don’t think I’ve ever been more emotional in a film than in this one. Maybe I’m a sucker for fighting/boxing films. It certainly seems that way. Either way I don’t care. All I know is that this film reduced me not only to tears but to sobs.

7. True Grit – Well this was no hard choice to make. It’s got The Dude in it, it’s directed by the Coen Brothers and it’s got one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Although it is a remake I wouldn’t compare this to the original at all. Both are brilliant in their own way and the Coen Brothers’ brilliance is mostly due to the superb casting of Jeff Bridges, a man who spends the majority of the film mumbling incoherently and yet still manages to show that he is a brilliant actor. Because to be quite honest it doesn’t matter what he says, you can get the gist of it throughout just by his stance.

6. X-Men: First Class – this was so close to getting into the top 5 but just missed out. It still deserves a place in the top 10 however for two main reasons. Michael Fassbender. And James MacAvoy. Fassbender just completely and utterly steals the show throughout. He looks sounds and feels like Magneto crossed with James Bond and it works wonderfully. A brilliant reboot to an already brilliant series. Roll on with the sequel and more brilliant bromance with MacAvoy and Fass.

5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Well last year David Fincher created my favourite film of 2010, The Social Network. So when I found out he was going to be back again this year to say I was excited is an understatement. I was absolutely certain this would be my number 1. Unfortunately it isn’t. But it’s still good enough for the top 5. The opening credits alone made me put it in the list. But not just this. Fincher’s last film had my favourite actor of 2010, Jesse Eisenberg in it and this years film has my favourite actress of 2011 in it. If Rooney Mara doesn’t win an oscar for this brilliant performance I will fly to america slap every member of the academy until they see sense. It’s beyond me to think she won’t be nominated.

4. Hugo – What’s better than a magical kids film? A magical kids film directed by Martin Scorcese. He made this much more than just a kids film. He made it a love letter to film. With Chloe Moretz and Asa Butterfield’s brilliant chemistry not to mention the brilliant performances by Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and Christopher Lee’s wonderful cameo all mixed together with Scorcese’s wonderful filmmaking this just makes me proud to be a movie geek. The only downside was the 3D which I was assured would be completely surreal and change my mind about the moneymaking technique. However once you get past the pointlessness of the stereoscopy you will watch yet another Scorcese masterpiece.

3. The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – After watching all the original films practically back to back I was all geared up for what I was sure would be one of my favourite films of the year. And I was not disappointed. With Andy Serkis playing yet another cgi character (and leading me to believe he mustn’t like his face much) it is clear that he has progressed over the years. When he first started as Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy he was already good. Now, in RotPotA he proves that he can play anyone and anything. Surely he will finally get the appreciation he so rightly deserves at this years Oscars?

2. The Devil’s Double – 2011’s best actor by far. And we get to see him acting with himself! Only a truly gifted actor could play two complete opposites in the same film and Dominic Cooper has proved once and for all that he isn’t just eye candy for the ladies. I have therefore decided to forgive him for being in Mama Mia, a film which I haven’t even seen yet but still annoyed me with it’s constant screenings. More of this please Mr Cooper.

1. 127 Hours – I know it was released over a year ago in the States but over here it was released in January which means it can still be in my top 10. Easily the best film I’ve seen in the cinema, not just this year but of all time. James Franco has proved that he can carry a film pretty much all on his own and still leave me and the rest of the audience speechless. In all honesty it took me a good half an hour or so to finally be able to speak properly. So far this is the only film which has left me completely and utterly speechless even when the credits have finished rolling.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Well it’s been around two years since we were introduced to not only one of the greatest Guy Ritchie films ever but also the one of the greatest bromances ever to grace our screens.

Yes, Holmes and Watson are back in the sequel to 2009’s smash hit. And if you thought the first instalment was good, just you wait. Everything is turned up to 11 here, and rightly so, as we finally see Holmes come face to face with the man who is highly regarded in the world of literature and fiction as not only Holmes’ greatest nemesis but fiction’s greatest enemy.

In an action pieced opener which only makes you anticipate the rest of the film, Robert Downey Jr proves once again that he is the man to play Sherlock Holmes (at least in the films. For the TV Benedict Cuberbatch is doing just as fine a job). With Hans Zimmer returning with yet another brilliant soundtrack to push the film along and Sweden’s Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) joining the cast as French gypsy Madame Simsa.

With as much twists and turns as you can hope for and one of the greatest chess games ever witnessed in a film, not to mention Jared Harris’ brilliant performance as Professor James Moriarty, a role which will go down in history, this really is a masterpiece. Ritchie has struck gold once again, perhaps even more so than with the original, with a promising sequel and a fitting ending.

4/5