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12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Tyrannosaur Feat. Q & A with Paddy Considine, 5 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ever since his debut appearance in Shane Meadow's cult classic A Room for Romeo Brass back in 1999, Paddy Considine has provided us with a diverse range of characters in low budget wonders as well as appearing in a number of Hollywood productions. His acting ability seems to know no limits and it was with great anticipation that I awaited the opening credits of his feature length directorial debut Tyrannosaur, blissfully unaware of the gritty realism and brutality that was about to unfold before my eyes.

It was interesting to see that Brian Cox was also in the audience, it is clear that this actor turned director is respected not just by his audience but also by his peers. When the lights went down in the packed cinema a stark silence fell on the audience, the anticipation was enormous, and I was hoping that Tyrannosaur would live up to its name.

After the success of his BAFTA award winning short film Dog Altogether, Paddy decided to revisit the characters he first introduced to us back in 2007 to take an in depth look at their lives. For those unfortunate enough to have missed this short, it follows the path of an unhinged man, Joseph, and his encounter with a religious charity shop worker, Hannah, who will seemingly stop at nothing to help him. This scenario is revisited in Tyrannosaur and it is great to see that Considine stuck with the same actors, with both Peter Mullen and Olivia Colman putting in exceptional performances which are only enhanced by the inclusion of Eddie Marsan as Hannah's violent husband.

Comparisons to Shane Meadows work are inevitable but Tyrannosaur is an altogether different beast, with lashes of dark humour and depraved acts that would not be out of place in a Peckinpah film. It is incredible how Paddy manages to create a feeling of empathy towards Joseph, he is a violent brute with little or no concern for those around him but somehow also strangely likable. His relationship with Hannah is the key to this as we see rare glimpses of affection which indicate a human side to him, even though we are well aware that deep inside there is a monster lurking.

Joseph is not the only one prone to violent outbursts, with Hannah's husband even more twisted and abhorrent. From the offset it is clear that there will be an inevitable confrontation between these two characters and the build up to this climax is outstanding. The supporting cast do a fantastic job of grounding the story, with a gripping subplot involving a young child and his suffering at the hands of his mother's cruel boyfriend. I fear that I have already given away too much but I have barely scraped the surface of this captivating drama that will be playing on my mind for a long time to come.

For a debut film this leaves one hell of an impression whilst asserting Considine's position as a Director to watch out for. In my eyes it is the third great British debut of the year, following on from Richard Ayoade's Submarine and Joe Cornish's Attack The Block, and it gives me faith that our nation can compete with Hollywood when it comes to one of the most important aspect of a film-making, the art of storytelling.

Paddy was gracious enough to appear at the preview screening I attended for a Q & A session following his film and the rapturous applause spoke for itself. I have encountered him twice before at gigs where he played with his brilliant band Riding the Low and he always comes across as a charismatic, down to earth guy with a genuine passion for his art whether it be acting, singing or directing.

It wasn't long before he mentioned his pal Shane Meadows, and not long after this Paddy's phone went off; "It's Shane telling me I better watch what I say about him" he retorted, reading his text message. It's off the cuff comments like this that make it so easy to warm to the man, and it was not long before we were all putty in his hands, listening to his fascinating anecdotes and eager to press him for as much information as we could in the time allotted.

My highlight of the session was Paddy's retort about filming on location; "You can't film Inception down the f****** high street", and he went on to mention how the way a man came past walking his dog provided the idea for one of the key scenes in the film. In another scene shot in a pub, I was astounded to learn that the guitarist was given the part in order to stop him from pestering the crew. The song he created fitted perfectly with the mood of the film indicating that Paddy is unafraid to take risks with his film-making in order to provide us with the aspect of realism that echoes throughout Tyrannosaur.

One of the highlights of British cinema this year, Tyrannosaur is an outstanding debut with powerful performances that should not be missed. Fans of Considine will certainly be impressed by his decision to move behind the camera and those new to his work will be dumbstruck by the sheer brilliance of what could well be the next great British director.

Stake Land (2010)
44 out of 60 people found the following review useful:
A unique take on the post apocalyptic vampire movie, 2 July 2011

Ever since the success of 28 Days Later back in 2002, the post- apocalyptic genre of films has been a crowded market with its fair share of successes and failures. Notable releases such as The Road and Zombieland have been accompanied by such misfires as Doomsday and I Am Legend that, whilst entertaining, ultimately failed to hit their mark. Stakeland is a brave and accomplished entry in Jim Mickle's career, and although there are only a handful of original ideas throughout the film, the ideas taken from other movies are handled with enough skill that they serve only to enhance the overall viewing experience. It must be said, some of the director's own ideas are fantastic and show a great potential for the future - a future that the ragged band of survivors we follow throughout Stakeland may not be able to enjoy.

After our protagonist is saved from a disastrous situation which leaves him as the sole survivor of his family, he is taken under the wing of his rescuer; the elusive 'Mister', whose similarities to Whistler from Blade appear to be more than pure coincidence. Together,they embark on a road trip that tests them to their very limits as they encounter a whole host of dangers and struggle to survive whilst roaming throughout North America, picking up a number of travelling companions on the way.

In a storyline not too dissimilar to The Mist, some surviving factions of humans believe that God has sent the vampires to punish humanity and it is these that pose almost as much danger to our band of travellers as the dangerous breeds of vampire that stalk them. These cults are a welcome addition to the film, enhancing the aspect of danger and providing the basis for some of the film's more memorable moments in a standout scene where a supposedly safe town is assaulted from the air.

The initially nameless main character - played brilliantly by Connor Paolo (the spitting image of a young Colin Farrel) - has his life turned upside down at the start of the movie, however, we do not get to see how the whole world initially turned upside down, and the cause of the vampire's origins is rarely touched upon. His story is told through countless monologues that overlay the fantastic imagery of sparse vistas and urban decay, creating a sense of scale that is far beyond what we see on the screen. Whilst the other characters we meet do not have enough time to develop fully, they all play an essential part in the story, and although some scenes could have been far more powerful if the audience were affected by their plight, the suspense was enough to keep me on my edge of the seat throughout.

There are few scares to be found in Stakeland but the overall sense of foreboding doom and the generous helpings of violence and gore should please the majority of horror fans. Anyone with even a passing interest in post-apocalyptic films will definitely take a lot from Stakeland and although it is not quite a genre classic, it will certainly become a cult favourite in a few years time.

If you like this, you will love these:

The Road, 28 Days Later, Near Dark, The Signal

British film making at its finest, 21 January 2011

The King's speech is a heartwarming, inspirational and humorous tale that weaves between elements of serious drama and comedy with ease, thanks in large to excellent performances from the entire cast, with Colin Firth standing out as the stammering King George VI in one of his finest starring roles to date. Geoffrey rush is ever watchable as Lionel Logue, the speech therapist that comes to George's aid in anticipation of his potential to take the throne, and their often troubled relationship provides much of the humour as George's stubborn nature prevents pronunciation progress ( now I would like to see King George get his chops around that phrase), despite Logue's best efforts to conquer his stammer.

Alongside the King and his speech therapist, Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter are riveting to watch as his self-righteous younger brother and dedicated wife and although Timothy Spall has a limited amount of screen time, his humorous portrayal of Winston Churchill is an important presence, with his stoic nature and determination providing the King with some much needed confidence.

As the king's speech is a character driven plot, it is imperative that we can empathise with the cast and Hooper has done an exceptional job at lightening the tone in key moments throughout the film - to ensure that we warm towards the king and his entourage - whilst still maintaining the importance of the fascinating historical events that unfold as the plot progresses. It is an impressive feat to bring so much drama and tension to a single moment in history and the build-up to the film's climax is perfectly paced as our faith in the king's ability to perform his speech begins to waiver, and at times it is easy to forget that this is a historical drama as the wit and audacity of certain characters appears very current without feeling out of place in 1930s Britain.

Basing the premise of an entire film on a speech impediment was a brave move from director Tom Hooper and one that has paid off fantastically with the film receiving a total of seven Golden Globe Nominations as well as being a hot contender for a number of Oscars. Awards discussions aside, The King's Speech is a wonderful film that completely surprised me with its enormously enjoyable storyline and engaging insight into the impact that speech impediments can have on their hosts.

This is arguably British film making at its finest with top-notch performances from a fantastic ensemble cast, brilliant direction from Tom Hooper, and a storyline that inspires and amuses in equal measures all adding up to make the King's Speech an unmissable film.

If you like this you will enjoy these:

Frost/Nixon, The Madness Of King George, Quiz Show, Quills

29 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
An unsettling yet highly compelling tale of a family in turmoil, 9 November 2010

We are what we are is the rarest of beasts, a macabre tale that has the power to delight and disturb in equal measures with its unique take on a family under turmoil. Unlike the majority of horror films that focus on the victims and their struggles against evil, this unflinching portrayal of cannibalism follows a family of killers and their struggle to survive in the harsh and unforgiving environment of the Mexican suburbs.

After the head of the family meets a gruesome end, it falls upon his eldest son, Alfredo, to take responsibility for the surviving members; his younger siblings and his grieving mother. Each of them have their own agendas and it is not long before these conflicting issues result in horrifying consequences for both the family and the people they prey on for food. The less known about the storyline the better, which is why my description of the plot is suitably vague, as the majority of the films more unsettling moments come as a complete surprise for the unsuspecting viewer.

Apart from Antichrist, this is the only film I have viewed where audience members have left the cinema during the more graphic scenes, and this certainly confirms that We are what we are is a very powerful film, not for the faint hearted but very rewarding for those that persevere. With cinematography on par to that of the hauntingly beautiful shots seen throughout Let the Right One In and a subject matter as realistically brutal as the gruesome deaths of the unsuspecting victims in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this is a perfect example of an atmospheric horror that chills you to the core by combining a stark yet realistic situation with unflinching scenes of violence.

The majority of modern horror films rely on cheap scares and shock tactics to batter the viewers senses and it is encouraging to see that there are still directors out there who clearly have a great respect for the genre and shift their focus towards creating a brooding atmosphere and a compelling storyline. This brave and accomplished attempt at reinvigorating a stale genre certainly marks Jorge Michel Grau as a promising director for the future and whilst We are what we are may not be the masterpiece that horror fans are hoping for, it certainly comes pretty damn close.


An engaging and provocative drama that may just make you think twice before you update your Facebook status in the future, 14 October 2010

At the end of the millennium David Fincher's visceral take on Chuck Palahniuk's novel 'Fight Club' defined a generation and, while it seems like only yesterday that it was released, eleven years have passed since Brad Pitt and Edward Norton contributed towards what is now regarded as a cult classic. Over a decade later the revered director has once more attempted to capture a moment in time, bravely deciding to focus his efforts on real events from very recent history, by filming a compelling drama based entirely on the creation of a single website that quickly became a worldwide phenomenon.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Marc Zuckerberg, the brains behind Facebook, and The Social Network opens with a snappy dialogue between Zuckerberg and a female companion that ends disastrously, allowing the audience to fully comprehend the social awkwardness surrounding the film's lead, and his motivation for the creation of his website. Assisted by a number of friends, most notably Andrew Garfield in a stunning performance that is reassuring to fans of Spiderman (Garfield is scheduled to play Peter Parker in the upcoming reboot), Zuckerberg utilises his computer skills to create an exclusive club for Harvard students that remains accessible to the less sporty members of the prestigious University. In doing so he unwittingly unleashes a social medium that begins to spread across America and eventually over to Europe, as more and more students become obsessed with their online presence and the ability to check up on their friends, and more importantly their relationship statuses, wherever they are in the world.

There is no denying that The Social Network tells an incredible story, with Fincher's visual flair perfectly matched with the powerful soundtrack by Trent Reznor, especially in a standout rowing scene that is guaranteed to get your heartbeat racing, but the only downside is a lacklustre ending which cannot really be levelled as a criticism, after all this is real life and the story will continue long after the credits are rolling. People familiar with Facebook will find a lot to love in this movie, the inspirational story is a great backbone to the character development as well as providing a very personal account of Zuckerberg's rise to fame. The humorous references to situations that most of the sites user's will have found themselves in are very effective and provide a perfect balance to the tension in some of the more dramatic scenes, as well as enabling the audience to connect with the film on a more personal level.

The Social Network is an engaging and provocative drama that may just make you think twice before you update your Facebook status in the future. I would recommend it to anyone who uses Facebook on a regular basis; you are guaranteed to give it the thumbs up.

The Hole (2009)
36 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
Perfect scares for the young horror fan, 19 September 2010

My first encounter with the world of Joe Dante was almost twenty years ago when i caught a glimpse of Gremlins at the tender age of four. At the time I was horrified, but as I grew up it soon became one of my favourite films, instantly capable of transporting me back to a time when horror films used to scare me. I was hoping that Dante would be able to recapture this magic, and The Hole left me wishing that I was a pre-teen with a wild imagination once again, heading into a horror film for the very first time. This made me very jealous of the younger crowd in the audience as they were clearly stuck fast in their seats, horrified by the visions that unfolded before them - their silence spoke louder than any screams - and desperate for the frightening film to end.

The nightmare begins when a single sprightly mother, her angst-ridden adolescent son Dane and nervous pre-teen Lucas move into a new house in a strange neighbourhood, only to discover a seemingly bottomless pit locked away under a trapdoor in the basement. Curiosity gets the better of the boys and it is not long before they lower a camera into the mysterious hole in an attempt to film the unknown, but, as video footage shows in one of the films eeriest moments, some things are better left undisturbed.

After exploring the darkness underneath the trapdoor, the boys begin to be haunted by strange events, with the hole seemingly preying on their individual fears. This provides the basis for a number of scary moments which are quite effective considering The hole is aimed at a younger audience, but it is unlikely to have any impact on those familiar with recent scary films such as REC and Paranormal Activity. The story still remains intriguing enough to keep older viewers entertained for the most part, and could well bring back long forgotten memories of their first encounters with the world of the supernatural films.

Horror fans hoping for a repeat of Gremlins will be disappointed, but that's not to say that The Hole should be dismissed; its constant references to classic horror films cannot replace the dark, warped humour that made Gremlins so watchable, but certainly adds to the experience for fans of the genre. Numerous scenes invoke connections to Poltergeist and The Gate, with the icing on the cake being a homage to the Hands of Orlac - a very under-rated thriller from 1935 - that I imagine will pass by unnoticed by the majority of viewers due to unfamiliarity with the source material, and they all serve to remind us that Dante is an ardent horror fan and is not afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve.

As a children's horror film The Hole is excellent but unfortunately it fails to surpass the genre classics such as A nightmare before Christmas and Gremlins due to the lack of appeal to an older audience. The story is fairly entertaining and the references to cult classics are a great addition to the film but they are simply not enough to keep older viewers fully engrossed for the ninety minutes running time. I would definitely recommend this film to families with young teenagers and children eager to be scared, as The Hole is a perfect introduction to horror films for those easily scared, and one of Joe Dante's more accomplished directorial efforts.


If you like this you will enjoy these:

The Gate Paperhouse Poltergeist Gremlins

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Finally, a romcom that appeals to both sexes., 7 September 2010

After a recent resurge in successful and critically well received romantic comedies such as (500) days of summer and the brilliant 'Bromance', I Love you man, I was less sceptical about Going the distance than I would have been two years previously, hoping that Nanette Burstein's directorial debut would continue the trend with a fresh, original take on the genre that would be equally entertaining for both sexes.

Going the Distance is not quite as good as the aforementioned films but still remains fairly enjoyable, despite being overcrowded with clichés and featuring the obligatory story arc that fans of romantic comedies will find all too familiar. Soppy love scenes aside, there were a number of humorous moments that prompted howls of laughter from a number of audience members and even brought a wry smile to my face, which is an impressive feat for any Rom-com.

Drew Barrymore is Erin, a lonely journalist who encounters Garret (Justin Long), a talent scout for a record company, on the night he is drowning his sorrows after splitting up with his girlfriend. A few drinks later, the singletons find themselves in bed together, with Erin unperturbed by the thin walls separating Garret from his room-mate, despite his attempts to find the perfect soundtrack to accompany their evening, in one of the films more inspired moments. Fast forward six weeks and Erin is due to head back to Los Angeles, putting their relationship in jeopardy, and testing their powers of resistance to the limit.

Whilst the storyline is far from original, the characters and situations feel fresh, with the actors making the most of their roles and breathing life to an otherwise run of the mill story. The pairing of Justin Long and Drew Barrymore was an inspired decision, their on screen chemistry transforms Going the distance into a believable romance, with a supporting cast that enhances their performances by providing the majority of the humour.

Although nowhere near as iconic as the famous scene in When Harry Met Sally, Going the Distance ups the ante with a number of risqué moments guaranteed to offend the more reserved members of the audience. Presumably, this is a clever ploy to make the film appeal to fans of comedies such as Superbad and The Hangover, which are both well known for their vulgar but hilarious comedy. The solid mix of romance and comedy proves that when combined with panache, the genres can be perfectly matched, enhancing a films appeal by providing interests for different crowds and broadening the target audience.

Going the Distance is far from groundbreaking but is still a welcome entry to a genre that often sells utterly dire films purely on the inclusion of crowd-drawing big name actors. It definitely surpassed my expectations and is worth a look if you get the chance, fans of romcoms would do well to check this out.

20 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Waste of time, 3 August 2010

There are some films that you just know you're not going to enjoy before even walking into the cinema. Knight and Day was one such film for me; in the back of my mind I was hoping that I could be pleasantly surprised, but unfortunately it turned out to be as horrendous as I first suspected, with lacklustre performances from actors past the peak of their careers.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in this action comedy which fails miserably in both the action and comedy stakes. Cruise has no problems slipping back in to the role of a secret agent whilst Diaz is the stereotypical Blonde who becomes an unwilling partner in his daring exploits. Although they still have a great screen presence and a definite chemistry, Tom and Cameron have reached a new low with Knight and Day, its only appeal being the reunion of the two actors who must have a lack of good scripts being offered their way.

Billed as a summer blockbuster, Knight and Day can not even be compared to other recent successful blockbusters such as Toy Story 3 and Inception, and doesn't even come close to the duff remake of The Karate Kid. If any other actors were in the main roles, this would be a complete failure at the box office and a film destined for the bargain bin. The action scenes are predictable and grossly unrealistic, for those daft enough to pay the asking price, prepare yourself for a ridiculous bike chase amongst the running of the bulls.

Stay away from this awful film, even though it was a preview screening and my tickets were free, I am annoyed at losing two hours of my life. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz need to realise that their days as respected celebrities will be numbered if their attempts to replicate the earlier successes of their careers continues. Knight and Day could possibly be the worst film of the year so far, although I do have tickets for Step Up 3-D and The Last Airbender so this could soon change...

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pixar never fail to amaze, 19 July 2010

When it comes to kids films I'm usually the last in line but the prospect of a new Toy Story was a chance I couldn't miss, Pixar have mastered the difficult task of creating films that entertain all generations, and I had been eagerly anticipating a third film since the credits rolled on Toy Story 2 back in 1999. The first one hit the big screens when i was just eight years old and I have grown up with Andy, watching his toys run amok every time he closed his bedroom door, and becoming completely absorbed in the crazy situations they have encountered.

We join Woody and Co. a few days before Andy packs up his belongings and heads off to college, misplacing his toys who end up donated to a children's daycentre instead of being packed away in the attic. It is down to Woody to convince the toys they haven't been abandoned and return them safely back home whilst avoiding crazy children, tyrannical toys and terrifying trash compactors along the way.

Whilst the story remains fairly similar to the previous films, the introduction of a wealth of new characters (along with everyone's old favourites) adds to the enjoyment with comic characters such as an eccentric hedgehog, Mr Pricklepants, and the introduction of a hilarious romance between Barbie and Ken fleshing out the storyline with a healthy dose of humour. The eagle-eyed amongst you may even spot a character from one of Miyazakis movies appearing in a young girls bedroom, a subtle nod to one of the greatest animators of all time.

One of the highlights of the film arrives after the credits have rolled with an alternative rendition of a memorable song from the first Toy Story, making it essential to stay in your seat right until the lights come up. It is also imperative that you arrive on time, as is usual with Pixar films you are treated to a short animation before the main feature and 'Night and Day' is definitely up there with the best of them, giving the audience a taster of the sheer brilliance they are about to behold.

Toy Story 3 is an emotional ride; much like in Pixars recent releases Up and Wall-E, it is surprising how affecting a cartoon can be, with a number of poignant moments that will overwhelm even the most cynical of viewers. Even though the human characters only have minor roles in the story, the few lines they do have will resound deeply with everyone, and the mixture of characters at different points in their lives means that there will be a part of the story that relates directly to you on a personal level. It's not just about throwing out the old toys anymore, its about the process of growing up and those that have followed the story from its first incarnation will be saddened by the reminder that their own childhood has passed.

Captivating from start to finish, Toy Story 3 is a triumphant reminder of Pixar's ability to blow all your expectations out of the water and in doing so they have delivered what could possibly be considered their greatest film to date. Essential viewing for everyone, Toy Story 3 is an unmissable extravaganza that is almost guaranteed a best picture nomination at next year's Oscars ceremony. Book your tickets right now, you would be a fool to pass up the chance to catch the final part of the trilogy in its full cinematic glory.

Inception (2010)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
If the Mensa guys made their version of the A-Team..., 16 July 2010

Imagine if the brains behind Mensa gathered together one day and created their own version of the A-Team, it would probably end up being very similar to Inception. Basically, Cristopher Nolan is a genius; Inception's storyline is an incredible feat of imagination that will simultaneously amaze and disorientate you with each thrilling turn. The acting is impeccable, with an ensemble cast that is bound to provoke a number of Oscar nominations (as long as the Academy realise that at the core of this science fiction epic there still lies an emotionally draining thriller ) in dramatic roles that will haunt your dreams for a long time to come.

The less said about the plot the better, not because its bad, in fact its awe-inspiring to see the lengths Nolan has gone to in order to make this work , but it would be unfair to spoil your enjoyment of the film and would be quite a difficult feat to summarise concisely the key ideas behind Inception. Despite being a complex beast, Inception remains watchable throughout thanks to the impressive visuals and mind-blowing special effects that despite being physically impossible are still incredibly realistic.

Its closet comparison would be The Matrix, another game-changing sci-fi that took special effects to the next level by providing the audience with one hell of a story and not relying purely on the futuristic visuals to create the films success. The action definitely has stepped up a notch in Inception, with events in interweaving dream worlds affecting the consequences in others. It sounds complicated but it is a sheer joy to behold as Dicaprio and his team invade people's dreams and simultaneously assault an arctic fortress, defy gravity in an insane hotel corridor brawl and swerve traffic in a deadly car chase. Anything is possible in a dream, and thankfully Nolan exploits this to its maximum potential; trust me on this, the action sequences will leave you stunned senseless.

The only thing that dwarfs the intense action is the labyrinthine plot, which requires a great deal of concentration to follow. Luckily, Nolan makes this easy for the viewers by creating a visceral plot that completely absorbs the audience's attention - prompting an almost dream like state of consciousness as the action unfolds before your very eyes.

As I left the cinema I was undecided on my opinion of the film, there was just far too much to take in after one viewing. Having said that though, I would definitely consider catching Inception for a second time, the more the film has invaded my dreams since watching it, the more I want to immerse myself in Nolan's incredible imagination once again.

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