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Catfish (2010)
8/10
Online realism
29 December 2013
Catfish follows the story of Yaniv Schulman (Nev) who agrees to be the centrepiece of a documentary for his two friends who track his online friendship with Abby, a young painter who sends him paintings. Soon however he is introduced to her family online and Nev starts to build a strong online friendship with Abby's sister Megan, only something is amiss.

This documentary is something many people can relate to in this modern age of social networking. Managing and building contacts online, forming friendships and relationships and sometimes everything works out great, and sometimes there are surprises, and this 2010 film brings about many surprises for Nev and his friends.

The technical marvel of this film shows the scary nature of what the average individual can accomplish online. Through searching through people's friends on Facebook to analysing people's own recorded songs to those that have been implemented from other websites, but more so the ability to simply use other people's photographs for your own personal use is something quite scary, and yet people do it for their own personal reasons, and in the essence of this picture, we are watching people's emotions tested in this marvel of online story telling.

There are many boards and forums depicting the true nature of this documentary, whether it is faked, scripted etc. Whilst the realism of the whole story is quite shocking and maybe difficult to comprehend, I myself have used online dating/friendship sites and can testify that not everything is as rosy as it appears on screen.

But Catfish isn't necessarily about whether it's fake or not. It's about the story and the very real aspect of our current online mastery. And this film depicts that through the use of Facebook, through the questionable phone calls and all technical aspects that make the internet such a phenomenon. And through this Catfish is a very entertaining story that depicts the technical age through some wonderful and varied editing, picking up on Google, Sat Navs, Facebook etc and is quite different from anything that's been done before.

This film spurned a TV show in which Nev and his brother travel across America to meet people and to give them help in meeting their online romance, which for the record is shorter and usually more interesting than simply watching Nev and his hairy chest for over an hour.

Nevertheless this is unique and if you've done the whole online thing, it makes it quite interesting to see someone else go through it to.
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9/10
Revitalising eye opener into the mysterious secret world
1 May 2013
It's a topic we all talk about. A subject that we're afraid to talk about. A taboo, a unique idea that we all think about but often feel unable to talk about.

Based on Belle De Jour's novels, Secret diary of a call girl is a full blown intimate and sexcapade that is quite honestly, brilliant.

Forget your 50 shades of Grey, this British programme brought about a whole new wave of sex and the boundaries which we cover and don't cover and will open your eyes into lives that you had heard about, never fully believed, but will blow your mind with every episode.

Billie Piper portrays Belle De Jour, a high class London call girl, living the high life with the nice apartment, the trendy attire and when it comes down to business, she is well equipped and professional to go toe to toe with the strangers of the night.

For those already presuming this is going to be sleazy and cheap with plenty of sex, nudity and general degrading remarks and one liners, my friend, you have no idea.

Released in 2007 and finishing in 2011 this 4 season hit compiles the intimate, dramatic and frequently funny accounts of Belle, a confident professional wrapped deeply in her job as a call girl, battling the ever demanding pressures of keeping secrets from friends and family, working professionally despite personal dramas and as ever, often meeting a certain man who makes her feel that little bit different.

Piper gives Belle a wonderful confidence that shines right through to the viewers at home, the male viewers won't be complaining too much. It's not simply the skimpy clothes and raunchy seductive sex scenes, but the confidence of the character, the idea of her being special is always there and Piper never wavers. Her story is wonderfully told and we get an insight into her character through her camera facing turns, giving us her insights into the business and into her emotional connections.

Whilst each season has a serious guy in Belle's life and this can feel slightly mundane at points, its the dirty little secrets of the business you'll be hooked to, exploring the client's fantasises, seeing how the money changes hands, how call girls interact with one another and the fun they have with their clients and the drama that goes alongside the demanding profession.

Some great moments include wrestling turn-ons, movie portrayals, book scripting, fancy dress parties and exploration of various fantasies (fantastic James Bond montage) The diversity of the show is constantly shifting from simple location shots to exploring America to the darkness of clubs and the seedy realism of the human spirit is frequently mesmerizing. The fact the camera shifts from Belle in her moment to her facing the camera and giving us some cheeky quote or divulging some intriguing business information, this invites us right into the story.

But the bottom line is that this is a programme about sex. A programme that does not shy away from the nature of what it is, what we desire, how we tackle it in relationships, how we deceive others and how we crave that erotic fantasy and a feeling of freedom from reality.

There is no nonsense, any question you have will be answered and portrayed here. There is a lot of nudity, a lot of flirting and innuendos, and graphic bedroom scenes that justify the nature of the industry and indeed, life. Always enjoyable and frequently jaw dropping, Secret diary will invite you into the secret world of an industry and will open your eyes to those ideas and possibilities you were always uncertain about.
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9/10
Believe the hype - this is a fantastique piece of cinema
5 February 2013
19th century France, after breaking parole Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is continuously hunted by policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) and when he meets Fantine (Anne Hathaway) Valjean agrees to find and care for her daughter.

Based on Victor Hugo's novel, starring an all star A list cast and with promising praise from all over the world, I sat in a packed cinema to watch a film I knew absolutely nothing about, and like so many others, I was blown away.

Opening with a bald Hugh Jackman struggling in his slavery and bursting into song, the scene for the time is set and the music is not dubbed. The live music crashing against the waves under the watchful eye of an obsessive Javert, the film is bound straight into passionate excitement.

This is a wonderful story full of passion. There is slavery, poorness, love struck teenagers, scheming warriors, religious power, law and freedom, Les Miserables is an overwhelming mix of strong beliefs, portrayed with vigour by its collection of splendid actors.

Hathaway is the standout with her rendition of "I dreamed a dream". Filmed in one shot this is the moment you will remember when you finish watching. A scene, uncut, sang live with Fantine in a deep emotional conflict in her life, struggling for money and worrying about her daughter this is heart wrenching and perfect acting from the Devil wears Prada star.

My friends who have seen the musical have said as well as Jackman and Crowe were here, there voices pale compared to the actors they have heard in other renditions. Personally I believe their performances and acting said more about their characters than their singing, which made the film fit together nicely.

At two and a half hours long, this is a very long film with scenes that are stretched. However these are often necessary for later scenes so we as the audience can be fully engrossed and appreciative of the environment and character dilemmas.

Samantha Barks as Eponie is the surprise stand out. Her confession of love is fantastic, her solo filmed in pouring rain in an isolated street will knock you off your feet.

Sweeney Todd co stars Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are injected into the story to provide some wonderful humour, which in such a heavy drama was quite a nice surprise as there was many laughs all around the cinema.

The story, packed with such heavy ideas is very dramatic, conveyed through endless wonderful songs. And as a story this works out very well being powerfully engaging but a very unique piece of artistic cinema as well.

Director Tom Hooper combines wonderful French scenery and poverty into the story with feelings of isolated close ups and sweeping heart stopping battle sequences.

Having gone into the cinema without any idea what all the fuss was about, myself and friends came out singing and praising a wonderful artistic piece of cinema, and hopefully you won't miss out!
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The Wrestler (2008)
9/10
Inspiring - do what you love
5 February 2013
Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Rourke) is a renowned wrestler, a show stealer. But one night he is forced to retire and starts to look at his life in a different light.

Being a huge fan of the American wrestling entertainment such as WWE and TNA I looked forward to seeing how wrestling was portrayed in this film. But I was given so much more. This is a strong passionate drama that will make you laugh, cry and stand up and cheer. And there are two reasons why: Mickey Rourke and Darren Aronofsky.

Much was made of this film being Mickey Rourke's big come back after all he has been through over the years. This is a film that really shows his masculinity, his strength but combined with an underlining sentimentality and a deep internal struggle brings about an Oscar nominated performance.

The Ram is a hero. The wonderful opening credits show a montage of the wrestler at the top of his game, showcasing his talents and being the man in that era. As the film progresses we can see how the character changes through highs at independent events to the lows with his family life. Ram is an inspiration through strong will and a determination to make everything right for his family and for himself. The way he portrays himself to his neighbours, and the choices in language all collate into a fantastic person, that is always a joy to watch.

Aronofsky's writing chooses to follow Rourke's character from start to finish and his choices of including other interests such as strippers, family, wrestling, drug smuggling and food service jobs all mix to make a believable, almost relaxing story. Everything flows smoothly with the excitement of the wrestling matches to the heavy dramatic scenes between father and daughter to the tense love scenarios.

The film has a real independent feel. There is no glitz and glamour, everything is portrayed as run down and difficult living environments. Ram's home is shabby, his workplace is stressful but his real life lies in the ring. Aronofsky's close ups are great but his scenery shots are even better.

The wrestling matches are the highlights of this 2008 picture. Being a fan of wrestling I enjoyed seeing how the independent scene was worked, how each wrestler interacted with each other behind the curtains and seeing how brutal some of the 'weapons' used were. The brutality and execution from all the actors and the crowd worked wonders.

Given Ram's life and everything he has been put through it is inspiring to see a person give everything into something they enjoy doing and through Rourke's strong dynamic performance and the directional master class of Aronofsky, this is a great drama that is definitely worth checking out.
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9/10
Will leave you Hungry for more
22 January 2013
Based on Suzanne Collins best selling book trilogy, The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to take part in the Capitol's annual Hunger Games, a game show where contestants fight to the death.

I postponed seeing this film as long as possible. I had finished the first two novels (which are both fantastic and readable in a matter of days if you're stuck for something to read) but I checked the film out and when the opening starts and we're thrust into the world of District 12, I was shocked.

The opening is something remarkable. It's great if unyielding from the truth of their poverty. District 12, run down where residents struggle for food and to make a living, but Katniss and her friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) find escapism in their hunting. And when Katniss' sister is nominated for the games we see Jennifer Lawrence show why she is currently the most promising actress of these last 5 years.

Lawrence was a great choice to play Katniss. The character in the books is quite unusual, quite solemn but with hidden desires and energy that the young actress excels at. Her on screen peak is with Rue when in the arena, a heart wrenching exhilarating piece of acting combined with opportunistic film pacing.

The film starts slowly getting into the feel of the poverty of the districts but as viewers, when we see the world of the Capitol and see how perfect, classy and snobbish everything is we feel the pace pick up and we are right there with the contestants, in a world the Capitol controls where these young fighters have little say in their destiny.

The first book is very imaginative and is very well brought to the screen by director Gary Ross. The excitement and adrenaline really starts pumping when the arena is introduced. The resemblance to the events of the book is spot on, if not better. Katniss' independent tracking and thirst for survival are well shot, especially during the Trackerjacker sequences. The best part of the entire film is when Katniss is with Rue, the excitement and emotion in these scenes are fantastic and it's hard to express how well this works in developing their characters and holding the film and the rest of the story together.

When reading the books I had concerns over how Collins was working the romance angles, being a bit like Twilight with the love angles but this is nothing like that series. This is something calmer, less intense in terms of love and lust. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) may be viewed differently by people. As the stories progress his character changes and Hutcherson portrays him very well and strikes up a good partnership with Lawrence that resembles their respective adaptations.

There are a few minor lapses and improvements. I only wish the fire sequence was a bit longer as it was in the book. Seeing Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was rather strange at first but it would have been great if he was included more during certain scenes! This film is a great adaptation of a great book. The imagination Suzanne Collins has been wonderfully adapted for the screen with her vivid and controversial environment and ideas and with excellent performances, particularly from Jennifer Lawrence, the Hunger Games is a must watch.
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8/10
Wonderfully written sharp comedy drama
18 January 2013
Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) starts struggling with life when his wife of over 20 years Emily Weaver (Julianne Moore) wants a divorce. When he meets Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) at a club however, he starts to look at life in a whole different way.

Crazy, stupid, love is crazy. It's also diverse, humorous, contains tremendous comedy performances and is superbly written. Starting off with a wonderful scene between Moore and Craell the tone is set for a bittersweet tongue in cheek lash out loud comedy drama. This is wonderfully balanced, taking into account Cal's emotional dilemma and the conflicting decisions of his wife.

Steve Carell, renowned for his more slapstick style of humour expands into a great main role in this film, playing a dramatic styled performance but giving the grown ups some great one liners. After he gets over his first hurdle there is a scene where he walks into the pub, like he is the king of the world. This is fantastic and you will be smiling, pure comic timing genius.

Julianne Moore fits her role well as well, playing off the other characters with ease and necessity.

But Ryan Gosling is the real star of this 2011 picture. His bravado out for himself protagonist is cocky, is arrogant is whatever negative adjective you want to use. And yet he manages to seduce every woman he sees, making him the envy of everyman and the eve candy for every woman. This film for me excels through its drama rather than the comedy. Taking into account the situations the characters find themselves involved in, the story plays out slowly, getting deep into the character's minds and expanding to deliver a pinch of comedy at the appropriate moments.

In many ways the film may have exceled more if there was more screen time for Kevin Bacon and Emma Stone. The stories involving Weaver's son and his crush is rather stretched and playing off on last ditch attempts to win one another's hearts only takes the film so far without giving the viewer anymore hope.

This story also contains some great observations on love and what it means for people of all ages and who should know what love is and how to go about proving your love from someone. Adding to the family and lustful dramas elsewhere with a couple of excellent plot line twists, Crazy, Stupid Love is a film you will definitely want to see.
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Jack Reacher (2012)
9/10
Fantastic crime drama
31 December 2012
Based on Lee Child's novel "One shot" Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) agrees to help out attorney Helen (Rosamund Pike) who believes her client is innocent over 5 shootings.

Having worked in a library for numerous years I have heard many people praise Lee Child's books and get them recommended them to me weekly but I have never picked one up. If the books are as exciting and imaginative as this film, I will rightly hang my head in shame.

One of the first things I uttered as I left the cinema was "That might arguably be better than Skyfall" Now having looked at the case I was possibly out of line, but this should be praised in equal measure.

Tom Cruise's casting as Reacher was frowned upon by die hard book readers but he does an amazing job as a rough ex military cop here. Doing his own driving stunts and forever casting a rough look at enemies mixed together with great one liners makes Reacher an appropriate tough and clever presence to drive a great crime story forward.

The film opens with a sniper in a multi-storey car park taking out innocent people and only the district attorney's daughter believes the man is innocent. The balance of crime with drama and character conditions is well balanced, creating a flowing nature to the film and appropriately developing character agendas to maximise their beliefs and actions.

My favourite part of this film was the car chase. How many action films overdo their action sequences and completely unrealistic car chases? Not this one. Cruise doing his own driving mixes action and adrenaline fuelled realism to create a lively insert into the film when at the time it appeared no action was forthcoming.

This is no Die Hard. There isn't crime action around every other corner this is a deep thorough crime investigation with discussion but fear not the car chases, the fighting scene and a great final segment combined with the provocative story make this a fantastic film. Now, off to the library!
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Breaking the trend
3 December 2012
And here it is. The finale. The climax. The end.

For those of you who did not manage to stay awake till the end of the first bore fest that was Breaking Dawn I, Bella and Edward get married, and consummate their marriage, Bella almost dying (Edward still getting cheered by teenage girls shouting "Hero") and so Bella fell pregnant and Edward had to turn her into a vampire to keep her alive to make more money for this film.

Breaking Dawn II sees Bella try to adjust to her life as a vampire with her new powers and her new responsibility being a mother.

Based on Stephanie Meyer's popular series, Breaking Dawn sees Bella and Edward try to recruit vampires from around the world to assist in their defence against the Volturi. The reasoning behind the concern comes about stupidly and there are a lot of terms and conditions which are discussed at length, which seem to replicate the novel in many ways.

Many reviewers and critics have said this is your conventional Twilight film, with a paper thin plot and faceless acting. Whilst this is true, this is still an entertaining film.

As with previous releases the great quality of these films is its ability to bring in new faces. Anna Kendrick blossomed whilst Ashley Greene and Nikki Reed have grown in praise.

Focus inevitably surrounds Pattinson and Stewart. Edward has evolved through the films becoming stronger and overcoming his emotionally over exaggerated issues and he even smiles a few times in this film. Stewart's Bella finally comfortable in her own skin is given new challenges as she adjusts to life as a vampire. Her character development is interesting to see as she tackles learning her powers and becoming emotionally hardened by her new life.

Jacob Black was very present in the novel as we gained an insight into his change of heart towards the vampire clan and his imprinting. Here however there isn't much character involvement as would have been desired (don't worry girls there is still the always present removal of clothes) but the special effects for the wolves are the best since they were introduced.

The effects for this film are, interesting. The sequence in the snow is amazing in terms of scenery and the bluntness of the fights isn't always skewered to accommodate the 12A rating, meaning there's blood and broken bones to enjoy. But in one of the most ridiculous things in all of human history, I have never seen someone's power be to project blurry lines out of their body to protect someone they love. And since when do vampires have powers anyway? I can read your mind, I can see the future, I can run at a million miles an hour through a forest and coincidentally always miss the trees even though I'm looking sideways.

But that's the thing about this film, it is ridiculous. But for the first time since Twilight and arguably Eclipse, this is more entertaining. There is some good action, not too much dramatic romantic implication scenarios, some great one liners from Billy Burke and a sense of anticipation, even though it's slight, that the film is going somewhere.

Breaking Dawn II then is a ridiculous piece of cinema that is quite different from the novel but by being more outlandish with its ideas, at least will entertain you right until its ending.
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WWE No Way Out (2006 TV Special)
7/10
Enjoyable with great last match
1 May 2011
No Way Out 2006.

Cruiserweight championship.

Gregory Helms vs Kid Kash vs Psicosis vs Super Crazy vs Paul London vs Nunzio vs Brian Kendrick vs Scotty 2 Hotty vs Funaki.

A good opening that had a reasonable build up. Its always great to see the worm but shame about the winner 6/10.

Matt Hardy and Tatanka vs MNM.

MNM were not pushed as much as they should have been during their time and here they were quite good against Hardy and Tatanka. An even contest but quite forgettable 5/10.

Lashley vs JBL.

Two brutal athletes going head to head was a strong powerful encounter that had a controversial ending 7/10.

United States championship.

Chris Benoit vs Booker T.

After their best of 7 match series finalised this was a chance to wrap it all in anticipation again as the two great performers did battle evenly with twists and turns in story and match 8/10.

WrestleMania title opportunity.

Rey Mysterio vs Randy Orton.

After the late passing of legendry Eddie Guerrero Mysterio's talk was revolving around doing it for him and there are many good moments in this match and story plus sad ones to 7/10.

World Heavyweight championship.

Kurt Angle vs Undertaker.

Fantastic match that for some reason claimed neither had ever tapped out before when they have. However great blows, great twists and turns and vintage moves from two of the best wrestlers in the business. Bit of a disappointing ending for such an even classic match 9/10.
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6/10
Ladders breaking but there is no "attitude"
27 April 2011
TLC 2009

Christian vs Shelton Benjamin for ECW championship in a ladder match

This was a really good opener and arguably with the best move and finish of the whole night as two athletes showcased their athletic skills and thankfully the ending was justified after a ladder breaking in half. Opener is best match

9/10

Mickie James vs Michelle McCool

The brief intro before this match showed Michelle mocking James' farm life, which was awfully done and pure crude for entertainment. Michelle's companion to the ring wore a "Piggy James" t-shirt. The match itself isn't the worst women's wrestling match you will ever see, there are good moments but ultimately it's forgettable.

5/10

Drew McIntyre vs John Morrison

McIntyre does not provide any entertainment to this programme and Morrison botching his finisher just epitomises an awful contest for the intercontinental championship.

3/10

Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton

Out of the current crop of WWE superstars to have come through the last few years, Sheamus and Kingston are two of the best to show mic and wrestling skill and this was a very good match between the veteran Orton and the crowd pleasing Kingston.

8/10

John Cena vs Sheamus for WWE championship in a tables match

Sheamus being relatively new to the scene is brilliant in this match. Though I'm not a fan of Cena his presence livened the crowd up. There were a few good spots and a great ending.

8/10

Undertaker vs Batista for World heavyweight championship in chairs match

These two great superstars have had many encounters over the years and though this is no way near the top it is still very entertaining. Batista having just turned heel over something ridiculous doesn't feel quite right somehow. Interesting twist in this match

8/10

Jericho and Big Show vs DX (HHH and HBK) TLC for tag team championship

Main event of the evening was a bit disappointing because you may just expect more considering the names, though seeing a ladder break in half and supporting one superstar on was highly entertaining. For the first time in the evening there was a little bit of humour where you will laugh. DX intro is the best around

8/10

The problem is having Cole, King and Matt Striker as commentators they are quoting facts and repeating each other all the way through, explaining what's going to happen before it does, there is no anticipation or excitement in their voices. The atmosphere is frequently quite dire as well and a backstage interview between McIntyre and Sheamus is the worst thing I have ever, ever watched. There are good moments but for pure entertainment go back to the attitude era for the tlc matches with the Hardy's Dudley's and Edge and Christian.
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