Bottom 10 Films of 2015

As another 12 months pass, what better way to start off the celebration of the past year in film than with a look back on the most dire excuses for art to grace the silver screen! Hopefully you’ll be able to take this list as a warning not to approach the films mentioned but apologies if it serves as simply nightmarish reminders of when you witnessed the atrocities yourself:

10. Knock Knock

Eli Roth’s latest is a poorly written ‘thriller’ which brings more laughs than thrills. Not even Keanu Reeves can save this film. But what’s more distressing is that this was able to get a UK release this year yet still Roth’s previous film The Green Inferno still struggles to get into cinemas here.

9. Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest had two things in it that begged to be seen on the big screen, the long awaited reuniting of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. At least it was for me, a die hard Walk The Line fan. But not even this repairing could speed up the films dull 148 minute runtime nor its muddled story.

8. Jupiter Ascending

Sean Bean is in this. He plays a bee. And he doesn’t die.

7. The Boy Next Door

How this managed a cinema release I’ll never know. It barely even deserves to be on channel 5.

6. Mortdecai

As I type, even my macbook rejects the title of Johnny Depps ‘comedy’ in which he prances about with a grating british accent and even more disturbing moustache. You can’t blame Gwyneth Paltrow for gagging at the sight of it.

5. The Visit

While it divided audiences upon release, M. Night Shamalamadingdong’s latest is a cringeworthy found footage horror with the most insufferable child actors of the year. Barely 5 minutes into it I was in uncomfortable.

4. Terminator Genisys

The latest entry into this once great franchise brings back it’s main selling point and then proceeds to shit all over the originals in a clear attempt to ruin the timeline as much as possible before the rights revert back to James Cameron.

3. Fantastic 4

The worst thing about Fant4stic was how much potential it had. With a great young cast to reboot the comic book franchise into a grittier retelling, all interest is swept away from us thanks to a title card that shoves us forward a year before a hastily joined on final act that’s over before it’s even begun.

2. Pixels

Adam Sandler hangs out with his buddies again. Having previously nearly destroyed Al Pacino’s career in Jack and Jill, this time he destroys the nostalgia of classic arcade games while plonking Kevin James in as president of the United States for good measure. Save yourself the time by watching the original short which in 2 minutes long, gives a much better version.

  1. Absolutely Anything

The Monty Python gang gather to bring a story in which Simon Pegg is able to make anything happen just by saying it. Unfortunately he couldn’t make the film disappear.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

maxresdefault-1The blockbuster season is finally upon us with Joss Whedon’s much anticipated Avengers sequel kicking it off. It’s just a shame then that Age of Ultron is the first real disappointment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Age of Ultron catches up with the Avengers post Captain America 2 as they team up to bring down HYDRA in an incredible opening action sequence that tells us there’ll be no time wasted in getting the Avengers together this time round. Now that they’ve been fully established and brought together in the conclusion to Phase One, Avengers 2 feels much more free to explore the dynamics of individual characters and thankfully this means more time spent on Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), with emphasis on Hawkeye. Hawkeye’s character development is increased a huge amount and it’s a joy to see more focus on the characters who haven’t yet had their chance of a standalone adventure while Captain America, Iron Man and Thor steal all the slots.

Age of Ultron also boasts one of the most menacing MCU villains yet with the titular character. James Spader’s soothing voice is terrifyingly appropriate as the homicidal AI and his ability to be everywhere at once makes him a credible threat that can destroy the Avengers in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately he goes down the traditional villain routine of biding his time to make his victory all the more sweet but that’s to be expected.

We also get the arrival of two new team members for the Avengers in the form of twin mutants (or ‘enhanced’ as Captain America calls them due to Marvel Studios ban from the use of their own species name) Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). And herein lies the first of Age of Ultron‘s problems.

Although it’s not really their fault, the fact that we have already had a glimpse of Evan Peters’ turn as Quicksilver (albeit a different incarnation of him) in last years X-Men: Days of Future Past made Taylor-Johnson’s appearance hard to digest. While Peters managed to become the highlight of DOFP in one simple yet brilliant sequence, Taylor-Johnson is scattered throughout Age of Ultron and yet still doesn’t manage to bring anything new to the superhero. Again, this is hardly Marvel Studios fault, but with the way they conclude Quicksilver’s involvement in the story, it almost feels as if they saw DOFP halfway through shooting and gave up trying.

This isn’t the only place where Age of Ultron slips up though. Unfortunately, thanks to Marvel releasing information incredibly early, its not too hard to find out that most of the main cast are signed up to pop into the rest of Marvels films up until around 2019 when Thanos is due to finally rear his big purple head in Infinity War parts 1 and 2. Thanks to this, Age of Ultron feels like it can’t take chances with the main cast lest it ruin Marvels big plan and more importantly, the casts contracts. And, knowing that Captain America: Civil War is just round the corner, at times turns Age of Ultron into a 140 minute teaser trailer for Captain America and Iron Man’s upcoming face-off.

All this would be fine and is almost expected by now, yet still Marvel can’t help but turn the final act of Age of Ultron into the usual big action packed mess of CGI destruction that, after 9 films has passed the point of comfortable viewing into just plain boredom. To discuss this more would be to add another page or two of ranting so I’ll instead suggest you read Andrew Jones’ article on the situation here as I can’t put it better myself really…

In the end Age of Ultron concludes the 2nd phase of what it appears will be a trilogy the same way that it began in Iron Man 3. With an interesting story that is eventually butchered with an infestation of CGI robots fucking shit up. One thing’s for sure, if you’re still with the MCU after Age of Ultron, chances are you’ll stick through to the end now. Here’s hoping Phase 3 brings better ideas and adds more risks. And if that doesn’t work maybe DC will have taken over by then…

3/5

Top 10 BEST Movies of 2014

With the final day of 2014 ensuring there’s no way I can watch any more films this year, time to sum up the best of the best in a top 10 list! Something I’m sure has never been done before…

Before we get into it let me point out my super special rules for the top 10. As with all top 10s, this list is personal and views are my own and are indeed correct of course. However There are certain films I’ve seen this past 12 months which aren’t allowed in the list due to the UK release date being next year. Sure, I could put things like Whiplash and The Green Inferno in this list but the former isn’t released until January 19th and the latter hasn’t even got a release date over here yet. Which isn’t allowed. Them’s the rules.

Anyway, moving on:

10. Interstellar

Chris Nolan’s latest is an epic sic fi with fantastic acting all round. Hans Zimmers score is as always, a delight to the earholes and the visual treats are stunning. Best seen on the biggest screen possible, Interstellar is an incredible addition to the well respected director’s already impressive back catalogue.

9. Nymphomaniac

Lars Von Triers’ four hour exploration into the life of a sex addict is the only film of the three of his I’ve seen (the others being Antichrist and Melancholia) that actually stayed interesting throughout.

8. The LEGO Movie

Everything is indeed awesome with this film in our lives.

7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

After hitting my top 3 with 2011’s RiseDawn of the Planet of the Apes is a worthy successor and ups the ante with apes on horseback WITH MACHINE GUNS! As well as incredible motion capture performances by Toby Kebbel and Andy Serkis, it has everything you need for a successful sequel.

6. The Boxtrolls

Who’d have thought that there’d be a kids film to top The LEGO Movie! Laika have proved once again that they’re a studio we should be taking notice of. Only 3 films in and, for me, they’re proving as delightful as a Pixar movie, perhaps even more so…

5. Gone Girl

It’s hard to talk about Gone Girl while trying not to spoil it for the poor souls who haven’t yet caught it but, suffice to say, David Fincher has done fantastically well as usual. However it’s really the performance of future Oscar nominee and hopefully winner Rosamund Pike who shines brightest in this.

4. Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a career best performance in this incredible thriller as a press hound hellbent on getting to the top by any means necessary…

3. Inside Llewyn Davies

Probably the best soundtrack in any of the films from this list (or at least the one I’ve listened to most this year), Inside Llewyn Davies brought my attention to Oscar Isaac and for that I’m grateful.

2. Her

This was so close, to being my number 1 for the year that, from February for most of the next 6 months I was guaranteed nothing would beat it. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson bring one of the greatest love stories ever and had me trying (and failing) to hold back a waterfall of tears by the end.

1. Boyhood

Officially the Number One Film of the year for practically everyone who’s made a top 10 list, or really just everyone. Boyhood is the closest depiction of real life in a film. It’ll bring back long lost memories and feelings and you’ll hardly notice the 3 hours go by. Bravo Richard Linklater!

And there we have it! My new years resolution for 2015, as with every other year, is to try and write more so hopefully I won’t disappear! But if you need me I’ll mostly be on http://www.redcarpetnewstv.com. I’ll try to check in over here every now and then though!

A Tarantino Trawl: Pulp Fiction

This September it’ll be 5 years since I first saw the film that changed my life. I’ll always remember flicking through the channels late one night and happening upon Pulp Fiction just as it was starting on BBC1. Recalling my cousins suggestion that I should watch it after being rather unimpressed with Inglourious Basterds (My first Tarantino experience. More on that in a few weeks though) I decided to stay up till the early hours of Saturday morning just to watch it. And to this day it will be one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.

Pulp Fiction is a beautiful mess of a film. My first viewing confused me so much, what with Tarantino’s presentation of the jumbled up story-line. But I knew I’d just witnessed something special. From that day on I have and will always cite Pulp Fiction as my all time favourite film. Whilst I understand there are plenty of other films just as good and at times even better than it, there’ll never be another film that sits so close to my heart.

With a cast including John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel, Tarantino’s mobster epic has enough to please anyone in its 153 minute run-time. Travolta and Jackson’s storyline of a day in the life of two gangsters is spliced perfectly within the story of Bruce Willis’ Butch Coolidge attempting to do over gangster boss Marsellus Wallace in a fixed boxing match.

Each mini story in Pulp Fiction weaves effortlessly between themselves and gives plenty of shocks as well as plenty of laughs. Most of this is of course due to Tarantino’s flawless script, but praise must also be given to the late Sally Menke for her fantastic work in the editing suite. Having already proven herself a worthy ally to Tarantino with Reservoir Dogs, Menke outdoes her last performance by pulling off the editing of Pulp Fiction. Imagining anyone else pulling off such a feat in the same way is near impossible.

I can’t end this review without mentioning one of the greatest moments of Pulp Fiction. Whilst there are plenty of moments and scenes which can be picked out of the film to be discussed at length easily enough, such as Samuel L Jackson’s ‘The path of the righteous Man’ Bible quote or John Travolta and Uma Thurman’s dance scene to Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell, the one stand out moment for me has got to be that of Christopher Walken’s scene. Tarantino gives us a fantastically written three page monologue in the form of a story about two men, the Korean war and a gold watch. And Walken gives an equally fantastic performance as he tells the story brilliantly. It’s not surprising that Tarantino decided to keep the camera on him during the whole speech. Walken demands your attention from beginning to end.

Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece in every way possible. Whilst it’s not a film that can be watched constantly over and over again, it IS a film that deserves to be seen once and revisited again and again from then on. After only five years since my initial viewing, it has become an old friend and whether I watch it a year later or ten years later, the experience will be nothing short of magnificent.

 

Next week I’ll be looking back at Jackie Brown so keep a lookout for that. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not giving the films in this batch of reviews a mark out of 5 because I can tell you right now that each and every one of Tarantino’s directed films gets a 5 from me.

A Tarantino Trawl: Reservoir Dogs

It seems that, in the past year or two, my interest in not only writing about, but watching films has somewhat lessened. So in a pitiful attempt to bring back my love for movies, I figured I’d finally try my hand at writing about the work of the man who became my cinematic God back in 2009 when I first laid my eyes on Pulp Fiction.

But before Pulp Fiction, it seems only right that I tackle Tarantino’s first feature length. Of course if I were doing this properly I would start at the very beginning with Four Rooms. But maybe we’ll come back to that later…

Released in 1992, Reservoir Dogs very quickly became a much discussed film after screening at Sundance. And rightly so. It’s an extremely powerful film to kick off ones feature length directorial CV. From it’s opening scene in which Tarantino’s character, Mr Brown discusses the music of Madonna whilst Steve Buscemi’s Mr Pink explains why he doesn’t believe in tipping, right through to it’s mexican stand off conclusion, Tarantino gives us plenty of gems which, even 21 years after release, are still discussed and debated.

Reservoir Dogs 1

 

No doubt the most memorable of scenes is that of Michael Madsen’s sadistic Mr Blonde torturing a cop whilst dancing to Stuck In The Middle by Steeler’s Wheel. A scene that quickly attached itself to the song and will forever be remembered together. Madsen’s portrayal of Mr Blonde is incredibly performed. From the second he enters the film, having been watching in the background as Mr White and Mr Pink argue like an old married couple, he brings about an air of, simply put, coolness about him.

However the real stars of Reservoir Dogs, for me at least, are Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth as Mr. White and Mr. Orange respectively. Throughout the course of the film their relationship blossoms from professional to an almost father/son connection as White protects a dying Orange. Although, with the way in which Tarantino lays out the timeline of his screenplay, it’s the father/son relationship we see moreso than the professional one.

In regards to the story, Reservoir Dogs certainly isn’t the most original story Tarantino has come up with. However he does manage to bring the traditional heist plot with a fresh twist. Not showing the heist at all and instead focusing on the aftermath of the failed attempt. Tarantinos quick paced script with it’s hefty dialogue will make you rush to keep up and have you thoroughly entertained as you try to figure out who the undercover cop is.

Not much can be said these days about Reservoir Dogs that hasn’t already been said. However the main reason I wrote this is just to bring back my absolute love and adoration for films. If you haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs seek it out. It’s on Netflix so you have no excuse really.

Do feel free to comment with any suggestions on other reviews you’d like. I’m planning to come back to this more than I used to so if you’d like me to look back over any other directors when I’m done with Tarantino, let me know. I’ll be back probably in a week or so (Maybe sooner) with Pulp Fiction. And I may put some other stuff up in the mean time…

Skyfall

It’s hard to believe that the Bond franchise has been gracing our cinema screens almost continuously for 50 years now. And although we’ve had some stinkers (need I remind you all of Quantum of Solace?) it’s always been able to jump back up fighting.

To celebrate half a century of Bond, MGM and Sony have brought out the big guns with an almost reboot which somehow tops Casino Royale. With Sam Mendes (American Beauty) at the helm and Javier Bardem taking on the role of this installment’s villain it was going to be quite hard to let people down.

Mendes gives Bond the reboot it so desperately deserves with nods to the classics and long lost characters returning (namely Ben Wishaw’s Q). But perhaps what makes this instalment one of the series best is Judi Dench’s M, who has more to do here than we’ve ever seen. Allowing for us to have a more personalised look into the character of both her and Bond. Gone, it seems, are the days of easily predictable and, at times quite repetitive storylines, at least for now.

At 2 hours 23 minutes it’s quite lengthy but the time flies by with nary a dull moment to see. Each act is as good as the last and the conclusion brings the whole series to a perfect point which will just make you salivate with pure hunger for more.

Javiar Bardem’s portrayal of villain Mr Silva is a fantastic feat and one not to be missed. Although it’s clear that the series has had a dramatic turn around in the past few years since Daniel Craig broke out with Casino Royale, we are finally treated with a villain who will forever be looked at as a classic, joining the ranks of Auric Goldfinger and Dr No as soon as he enters the scene. The series can only get better from here on in and I for one will be there to welcome it.

 

5/5

Keith Lemon: The Film

In the last year or two Leigh Francis has risen to fame with his alter ego Keith Lemon. With not one but recently 2 tv series currently airing it’s safe to say he’s popular in Britain. So much so that Keith Lemon’s antics have finally hit the big screen. In a film which begs the question, WHY exactly is he as popular as he is?
Right from the beginning a loud groan escaped my lips as I found that Lionsgate studios, the people who brought us such films as the Saw franchise among many others had helped in the release of this film. Of course there were other, minor production companies who helped out but to think that Lionsgate offered money for this film to be not only made but released for our eyes to be scoured with was just too much to bear. Then the film started.
If you do intend on subjecting yourself to this film I must warn you that for 85 pain inducing minutes you will be ‘treated’ (Like in a hospital but without the anaesthetic) to crude and painful attempts at jokes alongside a half-arsed storyline as you see the origin story of Keith’s rise to fame.
The conclusion is without a doubt one of the worst I’ve ever seen but still at least a sigh of relief came when the credits finally began to roll. Although for you fans (of which there seems to be quite a few of. One of the great mysteries of the world.) there’s a gag take for you to indulge in whilst Keith pretty much narrates in between.
But before you hand your money over and give yourself this 85 minute torture just remember that I tried to warn you.

1/5

The Avengers

The year of Blockbusters has finally begun today with the release of Marvel’s mash up of superheroes in The Avengers or, if you want to call it by its proper title (well at least the official one given to us here in Blighty) ‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble’. But The Avengers just sounds catchier. As each Marvel film from 2008’s Iron Man onwards has been gaining fans and audiences, those keener eyes will have noticed that each addition to Marvel’s Superheroes turned movie stars has been hinting at something much bigger. And if by 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, you still weren’t sure what that bigger something would be then quite frankly, God help you.

Anyway five years after Iron Man, Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire and writer of the recent horror Cabin In The Woods) has finally answered our prayers. Bringing together Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America, Whedon has done the impossible and made this clash of egos work in a near perfect film which is almost parallel to that of Christopher Nolan’s recent reincarnation of the Batman series. Although in a somewhat different style the film still retains realism whilst sticking to the fantasy, comic book roots.

Within the first ten minutes the whole tone of the film is set with massive special effects and a great introduction to Loki, one of the greatest comic book movie villains you will ever see. This is all done before the title or any of the Avengers appears on screen. What follows is a two and a half hour masterpiece of awesome action and delightful dialogue all sprinkled with a collection of entertaining characters. Each of the superheroes are given enough amount of screentime to keep them all equal. In one particular battle sequence in the films third act, they are all weaved together seamlessly as the camera moves through the destruction Loki has left for them.

To say any more about the film would be a spoiler and at such an early stage of release it just doesn’t seem right to do so. All you need to know right now is that this is definitely worth the ticket price. Four superheroes for the price of one and enough explosions to make Michael Bay salivate with glee. Fortunately with this however, we get more storyline than Bay could ever dream up with in the Transformers franchise. The climatic third act is turned up to 11 and almost seems bigger than all of the climaxes from Marvel’s previous films put together and if you are a true fan you won’t want to leave your seat until well after the closing credits start to roll.

4/5

The Devil Inside

Before I begin I have to say that this probably won’t be an actual review. Instead it will be a warning, or a public service announcement if you will. Someone tried to warn me but I ignored them and saw this film anyway. An action which I believe I will regret to the end of my days.

The Devil Inside is a new found footage horror film (because apparently we don’t yet have enough) centred around exorcisms. The story is about Isabella Rossi, the daughter of Maria Rossi, who killed three people when Isabella was just a child. About twenty years later Isabella finds out that her mother killed these people during an exorcism. The whole film is set as a mockumentary as Isabella decides to visit Maria in Rome and find out more about her mother.

So, I’ll start with the good parts because believe it or not there are good parts to this film. Albeit only two. The scares are good. Not frequent enough but when they occur they do the job. And the performances are somewhat disturbing. The most notable of them being  Suzanne Crowly’s performance as Maria Rossi which at some points will send a shiver down your spine. But no matter how good the acting is I can 100% guarantee you that if you see this film you will leave disappointed.

For the whole 83 minutes of the film it’s almost as if the producers/directors etc don’t even know what type of film they are making. At some points it’s clearly a mockumentary with ‘interviews’ with Isabella and two priests she befriends. Yet at other times it’s a found footage film. And then there’s the end. I don’t want to spoil anything for you but I shall just leave you with this: When I saw this film it was the first time I’ve ever been in a cinema in which the whole audience left with the same feeling of their time having been wasted on such a pile of crap. How do I know they all felt like this? Because every single one of them booed after the frankly appalling ‘climax’ (for want of a better word). But don’t take my word for it. Take mine and everyone else who’s seen this film so far. If however you somehow find yourself trapped in a screening of this (or if, god forbid you watch it because you in fact WANT to) and find that you enjoyed it do leave a comment because quite frankly I can’t see this happening.

As the posters are saying, ‘this is the film the Vatican doesn’t want you to see’. And quite frankly I wholeheartedly agree.

1/5

Chronicle (2012)

Over the past few years the found footage genre has risen from strength to… well Paranormal Activity 3. And so before we are given yat another 90 minutes of sleep inducing footage with the odd jumpy moment thrown in to make sure we’re paying attention in the fourth instalment in October, we’ve been given Chronicle.

Chronicle brings together two of the most popular genres of the last decade – super hero and found footage – in an edge of the seat thriller/horror/comedy as three teenagers stumble across something deep underground which gives them telekinetic powers. This is usually the part where we cue a super baddie for the hapless teens to stop thus saving the world and getting the girl. But instead they do what is expected of them. They use their powers to scare little girls and generally have a bit of fun at other peoples expense. But when one of the boys, Andrew becomes more powerful than anyone could have anticipated things begin to get a bit disturbing.

Although the storyline is still full of the usual things we’ve seen before the acting and directing make up for it. With the boys telekinesis being used as a way in which to make the camera move around more seamlessly the film still manages to look like a beautifully crafted piece of art yet managing to retain the sense of amateur filmmaking. No more are we stuck with the camera being either motionless in  the corner of the room or jumping around making us view random shots of the ground for no apparent reason. Instead the we are treated to a proper looking film.

With special effects which are not the most impressive yet will still astound and amaze and yes, even impress, this film is a mmust see for not just superhero fans, not just Blair Witch Project/Paranormal Activity fans but really anybody. The first film of this genre to truly amaze me.

5/5