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Colombiana (2011)
It's a hit with me!
9 September 2011
COLUMBIANA by Director Oliver Megaton (Transporter 3) tells the story of a young girl, who after witnessing the cold-blooded murder of her parents by a rival drug cartel boss vows to reap revenge on their killers.

In a brisk, but action-packed opening to the film, 9 year old Cataleya escapes the fatal mob hit on her family – and takes refuge with her uncle in California. Here she makes plain her desire for revenge and asks her Uncle (also a mob boss) to "educate" her in the ways of the mob.

As Cataleya gets more adept, and skillful in her trade, she (in addition to working for her uncle as a hit-woman by day), then also starts to take out members of the mob that murdered her parents in her part time.

Cataleya soon becomes so successful at her "trade" that she has taken out 22 gang members in 4 years – which raises alarm bells – and soon she is on the radar of the police, the FBI, SWAT, and the various mobs.

Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek XI, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl) excels in the lead role, she is very sexy, is a very able actress, and plays Cataleya so adeptly, that you would have thought that this was a role specifically written for her. She commands every scene she is in, with grace, style and vigour – to make the part one of the strongest women's lead roles I've seen for ages. This is an actress that will go far.

Credit should also go to Amandla Stenberg who plays an excellent role in the portrayal of the young Cataleya.

COLUMBIANA is 107mins long, is a PG-13 certificate and will be on general release from Friday, 9th Sept 2011, and is well recommended as a good action thriller with a twist.
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You'd be a silly monkey to miss this film ...
8 August 2011
The new movie RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES by Director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) is effectively a prequel to the "Planet of the Apes" and tells the story of a lab that performs genetic engineering on animals to try to get a cure for Alzheimer's – and of the consequences that occur when things go dramatically wrong …

A dedicated scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to discover a cure for Alzheimer's Disease by performing tests on apes.

One of these chimpanzees "Bright Eyes" soon becomes the "star of the show" of the medical trials and exceeds all expectations for the new drug ALZ-112 – which has been developed to try and slow down / prevent Alzheimer's and shows highly advanced intelligence … until a problem happens in the lab and she goes on a rampage and is killed. Unknown to the lab owners – Bright Eyes had just given birth to a baby "Caesar" – who like his mother has also inherited all the good things about the new drug – only this time without the bad side-effects. Caesar is smuggled out of the lab to protect him when all the other chimps have been ordered to be destroyed.

Meanwhile in the lab, ALZ-113 soon supersedes the original drug – but, it has one very unknown, dangerous side-effect in that it is airborne, incredibly contagious and highly toxic to humans.

As he grows, Caesar displays extra-ordinary intelligence – far exceeding even the intelligence of his mother and of humans of a similar age. Will decides that the results on Caesar are so conclusive that he will treat his father (John Lithgow), who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's with the same drug … which initially not only stops the disease – but starts to actually reverse the symptoms – until side-effects start appearing … Meanwhile, Ape sanctuary owner John Landon (Brian Cox) – is compelled to take in Caesar after he attacks a next door neighbour that has been abusing Will's father.

Caesar ultimately discovers where he came from and now knows why he has become so intelligent – and devises a plan to get more of the ALZ-112 drug to give to his fellow apes. Caesar soon takes control of an ape army. Soon Caesar uses his superior intelligence and skills to overthrow the brutal zoo keepers and arranges a mass break-out from the Ape Sanctuary and make their bid for freedom …

John Lithgow (Cliffhanger, Shrek series, 3rd rock from the Sun) and Brian Cox (Manhunter, Troy) are giants of the acting world – but even these heavyweights were completely overshadowed by the performance of ANDY SERKIS (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Sex and Drugs and Rock n' Roll, King Kong, The Hobbit) as Caesar – who totally stole every scene he appeared in …

James Franco (127 Hours, Eat Pray Love) as Will, and Freida Pinto – (Slumdog Millionaire) as the love interest Caroline give good sound performances along with Tom Felton as Dodge – the brutal zoo keeper

The use of CGI created monkeys is very good and convincing especially for the close up shots and the battle scenes). The facial expressions and mannerisms of the actors far exceed anything that has been seen before – they are really believable.

Though most of these events – especially the portrayal of the monkeys by Andy Serkis and Co. is so convincing that you feel compelled to be on the monkeys side!

I feel that RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES could easily kick-start the flagging Planet of the Apes franchise – hopefully, they would all be films of the high quality and caliber of this film.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is 105mins long, is a PG-12A certificate and will be on general release from Thurs 11th August, 2011
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Risen (2010)
It's gonna sock it to ya ...
15 July 2011
There was a good atmosphere in the audience at the start of this film as it was introduced by Stuart Brennan – who plays the lead role in the film, the part of Howard Winstone, with the promise of a Q & A session after the film with director Neil Jones and Stuart Brennan.

RISEN by director Neil Jones, and written by Jones and Stuart Brennan, is the moving, true story of the rising talents of an the young boxer Howard Winstone (later to become an MBE), the boy from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, who was rapidly rising the amateur featherweight ranks as a fighter of some standing with a fearsome right hand …

The future beckoned great things for young Howard until a tragic accident in his workplace that saw him lose the top half of three of the fingers on his right hand … But, even such a cruel twist of fate was merely a temporary set back for Howard, who, when goaded on by his parents, teamed up with boxing trainer Eddie Thomas (himself a former European Welterweight champion) who taught him an alternative way to fight, so that he could still compete in the boxing ring.

Through sheer guts, and determination, and using his new fighting style Howard continued to be successful, being unbeaten in 6 years and winning 83 out of 86 amateur matches. Howard soon turns professional and after another 24 straight wins, he gets a shot at the British Featherweight title against Terry Spinks, which he wins and then goes onto be champion of Europe.

Soon, the next big hurdle is the Featherweight Championship of the World ...

What makes this film stand out is the performances of the characters in the leading roles – Stuart Brennan is excellent as Howard Winstone, John Noble is very convincing as the trainer Eddie Thomas, and Grainne Joughin as Howard's Wife Bennita – there are some fine performances all round by a very well chosen cast.

I say now, that I am not really a fan of boxing – but this film has a lot more to it than that … it shows remarkable courage, determination against tremendous odds and set-backs, it has some quite emotional sequences – even during "the thick of the action" – my favourite stand-out scene was during the third World title fight against Vicente Saldivar – when the world, the crowd and everything else just seemed to fade away … leaving just two giants of the ring slugging it out in slow motion with a backing track of Beethoven's moonlight sonata … it was really quite an emotive scene …

The Direction was sensitive to the subject matter (the Director also hails from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales) … the scenery and ambiance was great, music, acting all pretty accomplished.

In the Q & A session after the film, we met, listened to, and asked questions of Director Neil Jones and Stuart Brennan, who both wrote the screenplay … they were very open to questions and they told us of the difficulties (mostly due to funding) of making this five year labour of love … and it was obvious to all there the passion that these guys had for this film and the subject matter … and it certainly shows through in the finished result. The fight scenes were really quite intimate as well with some very close up camera action – and we assured that the actors really did make contact on several occasions – they weren't just acting ... and some of that blood was real!

I would recommend RISEN to fight fans and for those that would want to see a really well told biopic of a truly courageous, remarkable man … Howard Winstone MBE.

RISEN is 90mins long, is a 12A certificate and will be on general release from May 2011
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Stake Land (2010)
2/10
Not a film to sink your teeth into …
8 June 2011
STAKE LAND from Director Jim Mickle this vampire / zombie horror flick tells the story of an unstoppable vampire / zombie plague epidemic that spreads across America (and I presume the world?) … and our band of gallant survivors have to battle their way through the hoards of zombies through to "New Eden" (Canada) where the plague hasn't yet taken hold … hmmm ... now where have I heard this plot line before ? (28 Days Later, I am Legend, and numerous others) …

Within the first two minutes, Martin's family is killed by zombies, and he himself only survives because of the intervention of a mysterious stranger "Mister", a self-styled vampire stalker / executioner … who comes to his aid.

Mister and Martin realise that their chances are better together than apart … so they strike up an unlikely partnership … in their quest to get to New Eden.

Their journey leads them through remote towns of America's heartland, to other fearful survivors that cling together in rural pockets, fearful of nightfall (when the vampires attack).

Cautiously moving ever north, using back roads, avoiding populated areas they pick up rag-tag stragglers along the way, including a nun (Kelly McGillis) who they rescue as she is being attacked by rapists, Belle – a pregnant teenager, Willie – an ex-marine and Peggy the sole survivor of a family that was attacked by the vampires.

Another danger they face is the Brethren, a fundamentalist militia headed by Jebedia Loven that interprets the plague as the Lord's work. Jebedia and his followers consider Mister as a mortal enemy, as one of the rapists Mister killed was Jebedia's son.

So much for the summary / pretext of the story, now to the REAL part of the review … this film (which is really being "bigged-up" by a huge advertising campaign is a bitter disappointment … it is a real pile of drivel …

Whoever wrote the music score for this film needs shooting … it was totally inconsistent with what action was taking place … the direction, script, casting, acting, editing and photography were truly woeful …

There really is nothing positive to recommend this movie The ONLY actor to any semblance of credibility was Michael Cerveris – who played the role of Jebedia Loven the twisted leader of the "Brethren"

Everybody else should rapidly remove this movie from their CV's if they would like to work again …

STAKE LAND adds nothing new … it's a very poor film, it is not even scary … it went down well in the US (Quelle surprise!) … but that probably says more about American tastes than the quality of the film

I expect this film to "bomb" over here … word of mouth will not sell this film ... it is definitely not a film to sink your teeth into …
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Thor (2011)
4/10
It helps if you are hammered ,,,
20 April 2011
THOR (The God of Thunder) is the latest 3D comic book super-hero roll-out from the Marvel stables – Directed by KENNETH BRANAGH (Wallander, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), the film tells the story of the enigmatic, powerful, but ultimately flawed warrior god

After peace has reigned for millennia between Asgard and the Frost Giants after a brutal war, there is an attempt made to try to steal back the Frost Giants source of power from Asgard – this ignites the fury of Thor and his buddies (the Warriors Three and Sif), who take it upon themselves to teach the Frost Giants a lesson (much against Odin's warnings) … and it all goes horribly wrong …

Odin is incensed by these actions and Thor is cast out of the mythical realm of Asgard by his father and sent to live in punishment amongst humans on Earth without his super powers for his recklessness in re-igniting the ancient feudal war against the Frost Giants.

Once on Earth, Thor realizes that he has lost his super-powers – and meanwhile in Asgard, Thor's adopted half-brother Loki schemes to take control of Asgard from Odin by covertly teaming up with the Frost Giants

Unknown to Thor, his most dangerous adversary is much closer to home than he thinks …

CHRIS HEMSWORTH (Star Trek, Home and Away (TV)) plays the title role, he should be a hit with the ladies – but his acting is a bit wooden …

The only real acting of any note is by ANTHONY HOPKINS (who else?) who plays Odin the ruler of Asgard, father of Thor and his adopted brother (and nemesis) Loki (played menacingly well by TOM HIDDLESTON), and IDRIS ELBA who plays Heimdall the defender of Asgard and the Bifrost (Rainbow Bridge) is also pretty awesome

RENE RUSSO plays Frigga wife of Odin, queen of Asgard, and NATALIE PORTMAN plays Jane Foster an Astrophysist and is the love interest – apparently Natalie had accepted the role before reading the script – and that doesn't say a lot about her judgement …

Although it's not in the same league and certainly doesn't have the same gravitas as the recent Batman movies, THOR is basically a bit of fun ... there is no real story line of any note to worry about … it has some good effects, some comic moments, some bad acting and some of the 3D stuff works to make things interesting … so, as long as you are content to switch off thinking for a couple of hours it's a pleasant enough way to pass the time …

I think THOR "should" be successful (even just for the kids toys and merchandise) and It looks very much like there will be a sequel or two in the offing – it has potential … so hopefully when they get a better story line (and maybe a different director) then this franchise may be worth revisiting …

THOR was originally shot in 2D format but has since had some 3D enhancements added, and some of the 7.1 Surround Sound Dolby effects are very good.

THOR is 114mins long, is an PG-13 certificate and will be on general release from Friday 6th May, 2010
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Limitless (I) (2011)
8/10
Compelling viewing ...
22 March 2011
Directed by NEIL BURGER (The Illusionist), LIMITLESS is a fast-paced thriller that tells the story of hopeful, but failed writer Eddie Morra (played by BRADLEY COOPER) – who, during a chance meeting, discovers a new drug NZT48 that expands his minds capacity (from the usual 20%) so much he can use his brain up to 100% with much greater efficiency …

Eddie then starts on a rapid upward spiral in everything he does – succeeding at all tasks that he puts his mind to …

Pretty soon Eddie realizes that the drug is starting to change everything about himself – and he realizes that he has become "super focused" and has a "total recall" of everything he has ever read, seen or done, an ability that he uses very successfully to his profitable advantage … and business tycoon Carl Van Loon (ROBERT DE NIRO – The godfather, Raging Bull) is quick to recognise Eddie as the ultimate money making machine …

But, not everything goes well … and soon after suffering from some of the drug's side-effects, and the realization of his growing dependency on his "fix" … Eddie decides to find out more about where the drug comes from – meanwhile, Eddie's success is getting noticed in some very seedy quarters by mobsters who also want part of the action …

After seeing BRADLEY COOPER in The A-Team, and the Hangover (both fairly effortless / "passable" movies – with little thinking required), I wasn't expecting much from him in this film … but, as it turned out I was very impressed … it has a good plot, is thought-provoking and has plenty of twists and turns (akin to Usual Suspects / Memento) to surprise the audience along the way … I think it is Cooper's best film so far … which bodes well because he is in pretty much every scene of this film – and in some scenes there is even more than one of him in the scene!

Top marks should go to the script which was very well written, the direction very well paced and structured, the camera work and visual effects were excellent, the music also builds up the tension nicely in this finely crafted thriller.

Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro are convincing in their roles, and they were ably supported by a fine supporting cast – specific mentions go to ABBIE CORNISH (Bright Star) as Lindy, ANNA FRIEL (The Street, Bathory) as the brief ex-wife Melissa, ANDREW HOWARD – as the very convincing "baddie" Gennady, and JOHNNY WHITWORTH as the ex Brother-in-Law Vernon.

I noticed from the credits that Bradley Cooper was one of the Producers of LIMITLESS, so he is really putting his money where his mouth is … and in this instance, I believe he has made a very wise investment … and I would expect LIMITLESS to do very well at the box-office … I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of the biggest grossing films this year …

LIMITLESS is 105 mins long, is a PG-13 certificate and will be on UK general release from 23rd March 2011
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Monsters (2010)
6/10
Infectious ...
4 March 2011
We saw this film MONSTERS in a great atmosphere (at the Royal College of Surgeons), Jameson's Irish Whisky were sponsoring the event as part of their Jameson's Cult Film Club series - and there were some very "happy" people around … there was a lot of war / military zone type decorations up in the reception area and the bar … a lot of the staff were in anti-contamination suits and gas masks – really getting into the swing of the theme of the film – which was based on a 200K "Infected Zone" quarantined off between Mexico and the US … that was full of new life forms - monsters from Mars !

To get us more in the mood … before the show started were treated by some of the staff, to a "live" mock interview by a "CNN reporter" talking to two tourists who had just "experienced" travelling through the "Infected Zone" … (quite comic really!) …

This was followed by a Q&A session with the MONSTERS Director (GARETH EDWARDS) and the films editor COLIN GOUDIE – who told us more about the making of the film and what they were trying to achieve …

The premise of MONSTERS is that six years ago, NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life form began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an "INFECTED ZONE". Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures"......

Our story begins when a US photo-journalist Andrew Kaulder begrudgingly agrees to escort a wayward tourist Samantha Wynden – (who just happens to be the daughter of his boss), through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.

There is no real story / plot as such – and you don't actually see any monsters until quite late into the film – the idea is more about the build up of "suspense" as to what will happens when they eventually come across the monsters – rather than the monsters themselves (a big tribute to Jaws here – as mentioned by the Director in the Q&A before the film started) … and that the fact that the creatures moved around mostly at night – meant a lot of suspense build up was achieved with sound effects … this could make the film appear a little dark on occasion …

Whitney Able (as Samantha) is very pleasant on the eye and acted quite well considering what she had to work with … and should go onto better things … Scoot McNairy (as Andrew) was a little more rough around the edges but was fine in this film. An interesting sub-plot of MONSTERS is the growing relationship between these two main lead characters.

All other characters in the film were un-credited and were basically locals hired by the director on the days of shooting – and were just asked to play themselves – or to act out scenes that the director wished to shoot that day …

The cinematography is pretty much "hand-held" throughout, following the action through the eyes of the couple themselves and always on the move – which adds to the build up of tension

I actually quite liked MONSTERS … but I wouldn't class it as a main stream film … I think Jameson's were quite right to class MONSTERS as one of their "cult" films – because … with this audience, that was really "up for the gig" it went down VERY WELL on the night – especially for the way that the whisky, the pre-amble interview, the décor, the whisky, decontaminations suits, the whisky, gas masks, Q&A session with the Director and Film Editor … all set the ambiance so well, it was all really well received … oh, and did I mention the whisky!

MONSTERS is 94mins long, is an R certificate and will be on general release from 1st December 2010
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West Is West (2010)
8/10
Comedy and emotion ... across the cultural divide ...
21 February 2011
WEST IS WEST, directed by ANDY DE EMMONY continues on from the 1999 hit film East is East (which was set in 1971).

It is now 1976, in Salford, Manchester, England, and remaining members of the Khan family soldier on through their in-house, on-going struggle of the elder family members tradition Pakistani values and beliefs vs. the youngsters who were born in Britain and have an avid acceptance into the British culture …

In the midst of this turmoil is the story of Sajid the youngest of the children who is now a teenager and is enduring some serious bullying at school …

Many of the original cast from East is East make a welcome return including OM PURI as George Khan, LINDA BASSETT as Ella, JIMI MISTRY, as Tariq, LESLEY NICOL as Auntie Annie, and EMIL MARWA as Maneer and the film introduces a new face to the ongoing Khan family story AQIB KHAN as Sajid Khan.

George Khan is still very much acting as the family dictator – enforcing his beliefs upon his family – much to their disdain … it is especially bad for Sajid and events soon come to a head, and George believes it would benefit him to take a trip to Pakistan to instill some much needed cultural discipline … in fact most of the film is set in rural Pakistan …

Sajid, as expected, is uncomfortable and feels very much out of place in Pakistan … and has much difficulty in fitting in … the surprise however comes in the dramatic change that comes over George when he sees Mrs Khan No 1 (played very convincingly by ILA ARUN) and family in the Punjab, these are the wife and daughters he had abandoned 30 years earlier when he left to go to England. We soon discover that it is actually George who is most changed by the visit.

Pretty soon, George decides to make up for some of his many, many shortcomings and decides to build a house and re-work the land … Sajid finally starts to bond with some friends …

The pace of the film slows a little at this point … but only for a short while that is, until the ominous arrival from England of Ella Khan (Mrs Khan No 2), along with the hilarious Auntie Annie who swiftly follow to sort out the mess George has created – both past and present

There is an especially good scene between the two Mrs. Khans (past and present) … who have a very moving dialogue (one only speaking Punjhabi, the other only English) … but all that needs to be said is expressed with emotion and body language … it is superbly acted, and to me … it's the best moment in the film

I found WEST TO WEST to be an enjoyable, moving sequel – and recommend it highly … especially likable to those that enjoyed EAST is EAST.

WEST IS WEST is 102mins long, is a 15 certificate and will be on general release from Friday 25th February 2011
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Yogi Bear (2010)
5/10
Family fun that is better than your average film ...
7 February 2011
YOGI BEAR IN 3D is a new film from director Eric Brevig, is a tale about a documentary filmmaker Rachel Johnson (played by ANNA FARIS) who travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a project for the parks 100th anniversary and soon crosses paths with Yogi Bear, his sidekick Boo-Boo, and Ranger Smith.

This is a 3D live action movie with added CGI characters for the bears -with the voices of the main characters Yogi Bear (DAN AYKROYD – Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers) and Boo Boo (JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – The Social Network).

The city is in financial trouble and smarmy Mayor Brown (ANDREW DALY) wants to close down the loss-making Jellystone Park and sell it off to logging companies to make a profit and to get himself re-elected …

Ranger Smith (TOM CAVANAGH) is told that he has just one week to raise the 30K that it will take to save Jellystone Park from being closed down Yogi Bear and Boo Boo now have to postpone their constant hunt for visitors picnic baskets in order to team up with Rachel and Ranger Smith in order to raise funds to save the park – and they start a campaign to advertise the 100th Anniversary of Jellystone Park with flyers and a Firework display ...

Meanwhile, the Mayor gets wind of the anniversary celebrations and has secretly promised the Chief Park Ranger job to the naive junior Ranger Jones – if only he were to prevent the festivities from being a success …

I would say that YOGI BEAR IN 3D is a good family film for all ages – especially appealing for the younger generation, and some of the 3D effects work very well ...

Try to get there early if you can, as there is another enjoyable 3D short film called "Rabid Rider" that precedes the main film and features Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner …

YOGI BEAR IN 3D is 80mins long, is rated a PG certificate and will be on general release from Fri 11th February 2011
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True Grit (2010)
6/10
Doesn't always hit the target ...
3 February 2011
TRUE GRIT is a Coen Brothers re-make of the classic 1969 movie that starred John Wayne.

In this new adaptation, Oscar winner JEFF BRIDGES (The Big Lebowski, TRON, Crazy Heart) takes the reins in the lead role of US Marshall Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn, an aging bad-tempered bully of a man, now well past his prime … who seems more interested in whisky than in law enforcement.

Rooster's life is plodding along at his preferred languid, mellow pace until he is confronted by a 14 year old schoolgirl Mattie Ross (ably played by newcomer HAILEE STEINFELD), who hires him and then demands that he bring to justice Tom Chaney – a member of the "Lucky" Ned Pepper gang and the killer of her father. Mattie is very determined and gets her way to ride along with Rooster on his quest (much against his better judgement) …

Along for the ride, is US Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (played by MATT DAMON – The Bourne Trilogy, The Departed, The Talented Mr. Ripley) who is also after Tom Chaney – for the killing of a Senator up in Texas. The rest of the film is really about the adventure of the pursuit of the Lucky Ned Pepper gang

Although some of the performances were good (noteably Hailee Steinfeld), I thought that Matt Damon in particular looked quite miscast – he really didn't look to comfortable or convincing in the role of LaBoeuf … and I got the feeling that the "baddies" just weren't bad enough … on occasion they were just too darn polite.

I gather that Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld have been Oscar nominated for TRUE GRIT, I feel that might be a tad ambitious.

I was looking forwards to TRUE GRIT, but I found that this film was an almost word for word remake, hardly anything was different to the original – no extra dimensions seemed to have been added or improved upon. On it's own merits as a standalone film, I would have scored TRUE GRIT higher, BUT – due to the fact that this is a re-make of an existing film classic – by the usually very talented Coen Brothers, I really don't believe that it added anything to the much better original – I am dropping the score slightly to 7/10.

TRUE GRIT is 110mins long, is a PG-13 certificate and will be on general release from Friday 11th February 2011
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The Fighter (I) (2010)
7/10
Christian Bale's performance is a knock-out ....
3 February 2011
THE FIGHTER is a new film from director David O. RUSSELL (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees), depicting the story of the early years of Micky Ward (played by MARK WAHLBERG – Boogie Nights, Planet of the Apes, Italian Job, The Departed) the boxer, known to his fans as "Irish", and who was trained by his ex-criminal, drug-addicted, half-brother trainer Dicky Eklund who helped him in the early years before Micky went professional in the mid 1980's – on his improbable journey to winning the world light welterweight title.

The early part of the film opens with a TV documentary being filmed about Dicky (played by Christian BALE – Batman – The Dark Knight/Batman Begins, American Psycho, The Machinist), who's main claim to "fame" was that he once boxed in 1978 with Sugar Ray Leonard and knocked him over … although, the vast majority of people agree that Sugar Ray Leonard tripped …

Dicky is the trainer and very much a hero to the gullible Micky … unfortunately, Dicky is living very much in the past and in a drug-induced haze … he believes the documentary is to chart the progress of his "comeback" … although the TV producers are actually filming it for a different reason entirely …

Micky's boxing progress is actually very much hampered by an increasingly unreliable Dicky, and his domineering Mother-of-nine Alice, (played splendidly by MELISSA LEO) who is also his Manager and after a series of mis-matched bouts against vastly bigger opponents Micky starts to think about quitting – until he meets barmaid and love interest Charlene (played by AMY ADAMS – Enchanted, Sunshine Cleaning)who is convinced in his potential and advises him to seek a new manager and trainer … which brings them into direct conflict with "the family" … at which point all hell breaks loose …

There is a fair amount of pugilist action (as you would expect) to keep the fans of boxing happy … are there are some strong performances by some of the cast – namely the lovely Amy Adams and Melissa Leo …

The "real" star-turn of this movie though, is the performance of Christian Bale – who steals every scene he is in with a terrific performance – he has been nominated for best supporting actor Oscar … and on this evidence he deserves it – as his performance was a knock-out ...

As for Amy Adams and Melissa Leo – they have both been nominated for best supporting Actress – now that is a punch up I would like to see!

THE FIGHTER is 115mins long, is rated an R certificate and will be on general release from 4th February 2011
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7/10
Liverpudlian Humour in a time of sadness
10 December 2010
THE BE ALL AND END ALL is a British comedy from Director Bruce Webb, about a couple of 15 year old school lads from Liverpool who go on holiday to a holiday caravan site, and one of the lads Robbie Wallace (played by Josh Bolt) develops a serious heart condition, and he is rushed into hospital to discover that the condition is fatal and he doesn't have long to live.

On hearing about the seriousness of his condition – Robbie is absolutely determined not to die a virgin, and pleads with his best friend Ziggy (played admirably by Eugene Hughes) to ensure that he will help him with his final wish … to get laid … with many disastrous (and funny) consequences along the way ….

This is a film full of "Liverpudlian" humour and can be quite funny (and also a bit crass on occasions) There are some able performances by other cast members also – namely Neve McIntosh who plays Ziggy's Mum Kate, Liza Tarbuck who plays Ward Nurse Tina, Bryony Seth as Sophie and Connor McIntyre who plays Robbie's Dad.

I liked, and recommend THE BE ALL AND END ALL although it should be said that some of this film works … and some doesn't … it's a bit like the emotions of the Robbie and Ziggy … swinging from humour in their escapades to the sadness with regards to the shadow of a terminal illness … which at times threatens to tear their relationship apart …
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8/10
Best of the Harry Potter series so far ,,,
15 November 2010
Entering the Empire, Leicester Square felt a bit like entering a Hogwarts "Chamber of Secrets" as we noticed from the display screen only showed details of films on screens 1, 2, 5 and 6 with no mention of the "special" pre-release showing of what was appearing on screen 4 - for film reviewers and those lucky enough to get a ticket – this was no place for ordinary "muggles" ...

Directed by David Yates - HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 1 is the seventh episode in the Harry Potter series and is part one of a two part final conclusion to the story.

The film starts with Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) the new Director of the Ministry of Magic telling Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) the details of the lately deceased Albus Dumbledore's (Michael Gambon) last will and testament – along with a warning that due to the resurgence and return of the Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and with Dumbledore no longer there to protect them – they are advised that Hogwart's is no longer a safe place for them ...

Previous events have determined that the soul of the Dark Lord has been split up and is contained within seven different horcrux objects – in a bid to attain immortality ... and, without finding and destroying all of these unknown objects the Dark Lord could never be defeated ...

With this in mind, Harry, Hermione and Ron (HH&R) decide to leave Hogwart's and their families behind by erasing their parent's memory of them … HH&R team up with the surviving members of the "Order of the Phoenix" to find these seven unknown horcrux objects and to construct battle plans against the ever growing power of Lord Voldermort's Dark Forces …

Harry and his friends are soon discovered and are attacked and only some of them manage to escape and regroup at the Weasley's secret hideout … where they count their losses

During a wedding held at the Weasley's they are attacked yet again by the Dark Forces and HH&R escape and find themselves alone again … HH&R are now left to their own devices to try and solve the riddles of the locations and form of the remaining outstanding horcrux objects … and how they may be able to destroy them … this also includes a hazardous break-in into the Ministry of Magic which is now controlled by the Dark Lord. In addition they also discover that the negative energy in carrying around one of the horcrux objects without being able to destroy it is affecting anyone who carries it turning them against the others in the group.

Meanwhile, with the Dark Lord's forces on the constant hunt for Harry Potter and friends, Voldermort himself wishes to track down the location of the three Deathly Hallows – whom he believes will make him invincible.

HH&R soon come into contact with Luna Lovegood's father Xenophilius who also lets slip the secret of the Deathly Hallows – and now they must also search for these to prevent Voldemort from getting them first. The race is on!

Special mention should be made for the performances of Brendon Gleeson as Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody and Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange – who both stole every scene that they were in … and the ever consistent Alan Rickman as Severus Snape.

There are many twists and turns and highs and lows throughout to keep everyone entertained through to the end …

I took my niece along to this showing for her birthday (she being a Harry Potter expert) and she quotes that "this is the best of the series of films so far, and is actually the first to better the associated book" … and this coming from such an ardent fan is high praise indeed … she (and I) were not disappointed and we are very much looking forwards to the final installment which is due out in 2011

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 1 is 146mins long, is a PG-13 certificate and will be on general release for muggles everywhere from Fri 19th November 2010
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Unstoppable (2010)
8/10
All aboard for a thrill ride !!
15 November 2010
Loosely based on a true story from 2001, UNSTOPPABLE is a tension packed, heart-racing juggernaut of a movie … about an unmanned, runaway train carrying a payload of highly flammable fuel and toxic waste that is heading straight for the densely populated of Stanton, Pennsylvania at 70mph.

Several human errors by an incompetent train driver Dewey (Ethan Suplee – "Randy" from My Name is Earl) and his colleagues allows the out of control train to leave the depot without air brakes and security cut out systems … and from then on, the race is on to try and stop this out of control half-mile long train "bomb" from devastating a city.

After several attempt fail … train driver Frank (played by double Oscar winning Denzel Washington - Training Day, Man on Fire, Malcolm X, Cry Freedom), and rookie conductor Will (Chris Pine - Star Trek) find themselves isolated as the last resort to try and prevent a disaster of epic proportions

Ably directed by Tony Scott (who has something of a history with trains and Denzel Washington – Taking of Pelham 123, Man on Fire), UNSTOPPABLE features some really good camera work, low ground shots, blur in movement, close-up action … and a very imaginative use of sound and music … (this film can be really loud in parts) – are things that really emphasizes the feeling of locomotive power, speed and imminent destruction … I could swear that my seat was shaking as the train speed increased …

Throw in some human drama, agitated animals and a train load of school kids in peril … not to mention the annihilation of a whole city … and you have all the ingredients required for an edge of the seat action thriller

There are very good acting performances also by the supporting cast, namely Rosario Dawson as Connie Hooper the senior train dispatcher who does an admirable job in keeping the tension up and she is the "glue" that holds all the dialogue, characters and plot lines together … Kevin Dunn as Oscar Galvin as Hooper's boss and Kevin Corrigan as Inspector Werner – a train safety inspector.

UNSTOPPABLE is very recommended and is a film that really needs to be watched on the big screen in a cinema that has really good surround sound to get the full benefit of the camera work and soundtrack.

UNSTOPPABLE is 98 mins long, is an 12A certificate and will be on general release from Weds 24th November 2010
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7/10
Sometimes you have to let go and see where you end up …
12 October 2010
There seemed a very good atmosphere in the audience at the Cineworld, Haymarket, London, especially as we were treated to an intro talk on the THE INSATIABLE MOON by first-time film Director Rosemary Riddell. Also in the audience were the Deputy New Zealand High Commissioner and Lord Justice Thorpe.

THE INSATIABLE MOON took almost ten years in the making is set in New Zealand and tells the tale of a bunch of mentally impaired misfits that dwell in a boarding house within the local community of Ponsonby … much like an "extended family of outcasts" … much to the dismay of many of the residents.

There are activists within the community that would like to close the commune down, sell the property and move the residents away from their town.

The main-stay of the commune is the very down to earth "street-talking" Bob Davis (played admirably by Greg Johnson) – who likes to "tell it like it is" … and against all trials and tribulations, it is his efforts that keep the "family" together.

There are a bunch of weird characters within the commune – the most notable being Arthur (play superbly by Maori actor Rawiri Paratene – who had a starring role in the Oscar nominated Whale Rider). Arthur truly believes that he is the second son of God and his charisma is such, that it tends to convince some of those he meets that there may be something in his claims.

A side story to the plot concerns the kind hearted Margaret (Sara Wiseman) who is having emotional issues in her marriage in her overwhelming desire to cope with getting pregnant in a loveless marriage, who falls for the "purity" of Arthur's crusade to save the boarding house from being taken over … and she eventually falls for Arthur …

There are some good comic moments and some very sad moments due to the subject matter … but, putting these moments aside, … this is at it's heart a story about community bonding and stresses that however "outcast" you may be you can still find a "family" … a "home" where you can be welcomed … and that together you are stronger … than if you are alone …

After the presentation we were invited to stay after the film for a Q&A session with two of the film's producers (one who was Mike Riddell the Directors husband and Scriptwriter for the movie), the director and Rawiri Paratene – who played the lead role of Arthur in the movie.

After which several of the New Zealanders in the audience gave a very welcomed impromptu sing-along / chants / dance session in tribute to the film and for what it stands for … it was a good night …

Taglines: Sometimes you have to let go and see where you end up …

In a mad world, only the mad are sane…

I would say that THE INSATIABLE MOON would not cater to all tastes … and it would possibly help it you had an interest in New Zealand and the Maori culture … but those who do see it may have their eyes opened to another way of thinking … which can only be a good thing for all …

THE INSATIABLE MOON is 100mins long, is possibly more suited to adults because of the subject matter and will be on general release from 7th October, 2010
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7/10
I'll be posting a link to this review onto my facebook page!
8 October 2010
From the director David FINCHER (The Curious case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club, Se7en), THE SOCIAL NETWORK is the story of the development and rise and rise of the world-wide Social Networking phenomena FACEBOOK.

Shortly after breaking up with his girlfriend, Harvard computer nurd Mark Zuckerberg (JESSE EISENBERG) sits down at his computer and "blogs" bad things about his now ex-girlfriend .. and, in an act of revenge decides to create a website where students can "grade" the girls within the university. News of the site goes around like wildfire and they get hundreds of students accessing it … and an idea was born … the power of the internet as a revolutionary new communication medium for social networking …

Many began to see the potential in the new social medium and attempt to jump on the bandwagon and get in at an early stage … with the hapless Winklevoss brothers claiming to have spawned the original idea of having a unique "Harvard" exclusive social site … many tried and many fail … but it is the Mark Zuckerberg's tenacity and clarity of focus with THE FACEBOOK site launched in Feb 2004, that forces it's way through the dead wood and grows and grows in popularity at a phenomenal speed … and pretty soon it has expanded to many of the other universities and schools …

As a computer genius come geek, Zuckerberg is himself a social misfit that finds human interaction and communication difficult, and he turns to his one true friend Eduardo Saverin (ably played by Andrew Garfield), for financial support in setting up the servers, routers and infrastructure required to cope with the every increasing demand for the Facebook site … Zuckerberg and Saverin decide to jointly split the company they create 70 / 30 (in favour of Zuckerberg).

Things progress well until Saverin decides there is a need for more investment and to get advertisers interested … a move which Zuckerberg opposes claiming that it would detract from the "purity" of the Facebook idea …

Meanwhile on the scene comes the another headlining entrepreneur way ahead of his time – Sean Parker (played excellently by Justin Timberlake) – the founder and genius behind NAPSTER and music downloading / sharing site. Fresh from a recent legal defeat against the Music industry (over Napster), Sean still believes he has won by changing the face of the music industry forever …. And he is chomping at the bit for a new challenge – and sees THE FACEBOOK as the next big thing (he is actually the one who suggested renaming it to just FACEBOOK).

There follows a series on wide parties and roller-coaster wheeling and dealings and Sean Parker eventually engineers a situation where there is finally a breakdown in relationships between Zuckerberg and Saverin and they go their separate ways.

The film is primarily based around the legal dispute of over ownership of Facebook brand and intellectual copy write of the product – by the Winklevoss brothers and Eduardo Saverin against Zuckerberg with flashbacks to previous times elaborating on claims and counter-claims made during the case.

Launched in February 2004, Facebook was born, and a mere six years and 500 million friends later, making Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history ... but as the tagline for the film states – "you don't get 500 Million friends without making some enemies …"

I must admit after seeing Jesse Eisenberg's awful performances in the truly woeful Zombieland and Adventureland movies – I really didn't hold out much hope for his acting career … but I was pleasantly surprised in this instance … as in the Social Network he is "better" (still not great) but he can actually act …

With no real "heavy-weights" in the acting cast – this was a film that had to stand up and fight with a decent story line – which I was quite impressed with (being a "true" and interesting story)

As a trivia side point, the director of this movie David Fincher will also be taking the reins to direct the "Americanised" version (God help us all …) of the remake of excellent THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO … along with Rooney Mara (who plays Erica Albright in the Social Network) taking on the leading role of Lisbeth Salander.

I imagine that this will be a popular movie as almost everyone I know has a facebook account – and I'll even be posting a link to this review onto my facebook page!
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7/10
Girl Power – union style
22 September 2010
From the director NIGEL COLE (Calendar Girls, Saving Grace), MADE IN DAGENHAM tells the tale of the 187 women that worked at the Ford Motor companies Dagenham factory - and their struggle to earn equal rights and pay with the 55,000 male workers at the factory.

Set in 1968, the economy was used to frequent union uprisings and strikes – but this was the first time that it was the women upholsterers who sewed car seat covers that took the initiative … after being "down-graded" to a non-skilled status – the women rose as one to walk out, in an action that brought them into direct conflict with the management, their own unions and their own husbands … eventually brought the Ford motor company to it's knees

Many laughed at the women's actions … until their strength of feeling … and reality set in … forcing the unions and the management to take increasingly desperate measures to get the women back to work … as factory production ground to a halt.

Rita O'Grady (played admirably by SALLY HAWKINS), a shy, pleasant worker working in sweat shop conditions, found her voice when asked to stand up for the women's views, and gradually became more and more empowered as the rest of the women stood behind her in a crusade that became synonymous with equal rights

The story climax's nicely in an emotional showdown, as the situation finally comes to a head and the chief participants (Ford, the Government, the Women, the unions and the men workers) all realise that things have gone too far … and none of them can back down.

As well as Sally Hawkins, there are some strong performances by other members of the cast – specifically, Bob Hoskins as Albert, Miranda Richardson as an exuberant Barbra Castle, the lovely Rosamund Pike as Lisa, Geraldine James as Connie, Kenneth Cranham as Monty (Unions) and Richard Schiff as Robert Tooley (Ford).

The music, costumes and the locations set up the tone of the times nicely, and the direction is solid throughout. The camera work is able, and is interspersed with footage from the actual era giving it more gravitas.

In a phrase, it's … "Girl Power – union style"
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The Kid (2010)
7/10
Not for kids ...
16 September 2010
We saw the pre-release showing of THE KID and we were also treated to a pre-film introduction and an after film Q & A session with the films director NICK MORAN (Director - TELSTAR, Actor - Lock, Stock and two smoking barrels, and Harry Potter - The Deathly Hallows parts 1 & 2).

THE KID, is the true story of the despair to riches tale of KEVIN LEWIS who grew up in a violently dysfunctional family on a badly deprived South London council estate, who eventually managed to drag himself out of the quagmire … and up, and out into the sunshine of a decent life for himself … finally getting credit for an internationally acclaimed best-selling inspirational novel "THE KID" based upon his own life story …

The director of the movie NICK MORAN, had a close association with Kevin Lewis (who the film is based on) during the making of the film – and this paid great dividends in the directors ability to capture and portray on film the anguish and torment that occurred through Kevin's life and his struggles to barely survive.

After being removed from his own family for his own safety … then moving through a succession of failed placements with Foster parents and care home institutions … Kevin finally finds a decent environment where he starts to prosper … until the untimely death of one of the foster parents that puts him back into a downward spiral of commitments and debts

Kevin then finds a "pseudo-family" in the form of some undesirable characters from the underworld that offer to help him … but in reality they are just using his naivety to exploit him for their own gain … at much cost to himself … in the shape of some very violent "street-fighting" matches … with no rules and no-holds barred ... appearing under the pseudonym of "The Kid"

Against the odds Kevin manages from the very depths of despair, to finally turn his life around for the better …

The music for the film is inspiring, along with the casting … the three actors who play Kevin through early childhood – through his school years to his later years are very good (especially the parts played by Augustus Prew and Rupert Friend as the middle and later Kevins).

There are strong support roles played by Edward Fox and Shirley-Anne Field as the "good" foster parents and Bernard Hill as "Uncle David" – but the star of the show without doubt is the casting of Natascha McElhone (Californication, Solaris) – just how they can transform such a beauty into such a ugly, murderous, psychopath of a deranged Mother is something to see … she steals every scene she is in … much akin to Charlize Theron's performance in MONSTER … who knows … perhaps Natascha may well follow a similar (deserved) path down the awards trail …

The Director mentioned in the Q&A session that the film was shot on 16mm film – and when this is blown up to full screen size you can sometimes detect a slight graininess with some shots – however I don't think this detracted at all from the ambiance of the film

This isn't meant to be a "pleasant" movie, it is quite hard-hitting (sometimmes literally) … and the violence will not be to all tastes – as it is based on a true story and therefore keeps closely to the narrative of the book … but, I do believe that it is worth seeing … and hopefully you'll get the pay-off of a feel-good factor at the end …

THE KID is 111mins long, comes out on general release on FRI 17th Sept 2010, and it should be noted that the film contains some violence that would not be suitable for all ages
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8/10
A cult series of films waiting to happen ...
24 August 2010
Before the start of the GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, we were introduced in the cinema (Cineworld, Haymarket) to the films Director DANIEL ALFREDSON - who was kind enough to give us a talk on the background to the film – which is the second film based on the late Steig Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy of books (the first being THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and the third being THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST).

The director explained how the three films were made back-to-back over a year, and how it was he himself that directed the final two films – which are effectively the same mega-story split over two films. He also told us of how it was working with the main actors and especially Noomi Rapace and how she had learnt kick-boxing, self defence and motorbike riding all to get in shape for the film.

The director also mentioned a bit about the late author Steig Larsson – and his life, and the background to the Millennium trilogy of books. The talk set the mood up very nicely as an intro to the film ... and was much appreciated by the audience ...

The GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE starts with a flashback sequence to the first movie THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and the story then resumes, when Lisbeth Salander (NOOMI RAPACE) has just returned to Sweden after a year in exile.

Meanwhile, Mikael Blomkvist (MICHAEL NYQVIST), the publisher of Millennium magazine, has made his living exposing the crooked and corrupt practise's of establishment Swedish figures. Mikael's initial impetus to investigate one of the biggest breaking stories of sex trafficking trade in Sweden amongst those in high office is soon taking second place, when here hears of the accusations of Lisbeth being accused of murder – and he then embarks on a mission to clear her name.

Mikael and Lisbeth are effectively after the same goal, but they are coming at the solution from two different directions, Mikael through dogged determination and legwork, and Lisbeth a very talented computer hacker, coming from a more "involved" viewpoint in a savage world where rules and boundaries don't apply.

The more the intriguing story unfolds, the more you find out the secrets from Lisbeth's past – it's like unpeeling an onion only to find more and more hidden underneath – each additional layer building her into one of the most fascinating, multi-dimensional lead female characters for many years – a role brilliantly played by Noomi Rapace.

The direction (DANIEL ALFREDSON) and narrative work really well and it is a strong cast throughout. The camera-work and music also add to the build up of tension, and the Swedish country side is a terrific backdrop. It is good to know that the same director is also responsible for part three of the trilogy – so we know it will be in good capable hands.

Credit should also be given to the other actors especially Micke Spreitz as Ronald Niedermann – about as nasty a film goon as you are going to come across, Peter Andersson as Lisbeth's twisted evil guardian Nils Bjurman, and Georgi Staykov as the mysterious "Zala".

If you liked The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (and many did), then you'll be sure to like The Girl Who Played With Fire. It's not necessary, but it would certainly help to have seen the first film previously – as you will get a more rounded view of the trilogy. The "Millennium" series of films is sure to build up a cult fan base, and I can't wait for the third and final installment! The Girl Who Played With Fire is a 15 (UK) certificate – note though, that it does contain some scenes of graphic violence, is in Swedish with English subtitles and is 129 Min's long. It will be on general release from Friday 27th August 2010
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The Final (I) (2010)
3/10
The director needs to go back to school ...
9 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Set in the Rocky Branch, Texas, THE FINAL – is a tale about some kids at high-school who get bullied and abused … until they eventually team up and turn the tables on their oppressors to exact revenge on those that tortured them …

As this preview was being shown at 11:30pm – and it was way beyond the "watershed" – it is being widely promoted as THE horror film to see … I was expecting this film to be quite a shocker … and indeed it was … only, not in the way that the producers and the director intended …

It has been a long, long time since I've seen such a boring pile of drivel … it's hard to know where to start … the direction, casting, acting, music and cinematography on this film were ALL underwhelming … I've seen scarier things on Coronation Street … or a bit of mouldy cheese … truly!

Everything is laboured and drawn out … there were parts of the film that were supposed to be building up tension – but people were just laughing at the appalling acting and ineptitude of what we were watching ...

It's also been some time since I've seen so many people (at least 20-30) get up and leave the cinema with still an half hour to go …

I would like to say SOMETHING positive here about this film … but in all honest ... I just can't

I felt that this was a waste of a night out – that I would rather have (and should have) spent in the pub …

I believe that there is going to be a film studio and some producers that are going to lose a lot of money with this film release …

The FINAL is 93 Min's long (although it seems much longer!), and is on general release from Friday 13th August 2010
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8/10
It's not big or clever to smoke, and it doesn't make you look cool … unless you happen to be Serge Gainsbourg … !
2 August 2010
GAINSBOURG (Vie héroïque) … from the Studio Canal stable depicts the life story of Serge Gainsbourg from early childhood in the 1930's and 40's, until just before his death in 1991.

Born Lucien Ginsburg – and as an impressionable youth he felt outcast as being a Jewish child in Nazi occupied Paris in the 1940's – leading him to develop an imaginary friend who adopted an increasingly grotesque caricature / persona of himself that would lead him on to do more and more outrageous things to "rebel" his situation and to attempt to gain an element of "love" and "acceptance" from his notoriety.

A talented musician and artist, Lucien (who later was persuaded by friends to change his name to the more "acceptable" Serge Gainsbourg) became the darling of the social scene, charming his way through a succession of affairs with beautiful women – most notably Brigitte Bardot, Juliette Greco, and Jane Birkin.

I'm surprised that they didn't have a cigarette company sponsoring this movie – as the sheer amount of fags smoked during this film must be some sort of record!

After the showing of the film (at the Cineworld, Haymarket, London) we were treated to a Question and Answer session with the Writer / Director of this movie JOANN SFAR, who explained that the idea for the film came from his own graphic novel on Serge Gainsbourg penned by JOANN SFAR – and this pretty much formed the construct and ambiance of the movie – it is highly graphical and visual in it's content – much of it being fantasy visions and flashbacks within Gainsbourg's mind. Talking from the heart – Joann showed a real passion for the film, and was very open as to how the film was created.

Gainsbourg became the darling of French society with his talent and flair – but he also would court scandal and became infamous for the release of "Je t'aime... moi non plus" (which he originally wrote for Bardot) and the seemingly disrespectful reggae version of the French national anthem "La Marseillaise", but love him or loath him – you couldn't ignore him ..

The whole movie is very atmospheric, and some of the casting of this film was inspired – especially the terrific performances by Eric Elmosnini in the title role, the stunning beautiful Laetitia Casta as Brigitte Bardot, Lucy Gordon as Jane Birkin, Anna Mouglalis as Juliette Greco and Kacey Mottet Klein as the young Lucien Ginsburg.

At the end credits of the film is a dedication "to Lucy" which referred to the actress Lucy Gordon – who (the director explained) played the part of Jane Birkin in the film – and who had tragically committed suicide during the final editing parts of the film – a talented actress – and a sad loss.

At 2 hours 10mins long, in French with English subtitles GAINSBOURG will not be everyone's cup of tea … but the film DOES keep you entertained and if you give it a chance, I'm sure that you will not be disappointed ...

It's not big or clever to smoke, and it doesn't make you look cool … unless you happen to be Serge Gainsbourg … !

GAINSBOURG is on general release from 30th July 2010
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The Rebound (2009)
7/10
Sometimes you need to travel the world - to discover what you really needed all along was right here at home …
20 July 2010
The REBOUND is a romantic comedy, that follows the story of Sandy (Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones – Chicago, The Mask of Zorro series, Entrapment, Traffic) as a happily contented wife and mother – that one day comes across a revealing video on her computer of her husband having an affair with another woman. She leaves the family home and takes her two children to start afresh in New York – looking for work within her favourite pastime (sports statistics) – and living in an apartment above a coffee shop.

At the same time, Aram (Justin Bartha) – who works in the coffee shop, is just getting over his new french bride dumping him - as soon as she's achieved her "green card" status.

Sandy and Aram lives get more and more interwoven when she needs a baby sitter and they gradually get closer and closer.

Her friends want Sandy to start dating again – and Aram's parents want him to make more of himself – all claiming that they are both on the rebound … but, there is much more going on ...

Adequately directed by Bart Freundlich, and very well acted by the Main leads – this story moves along well and is one of the better chick flicks out there – and, as always, it stands or falls on the chemistry of the main actors (which works in this case) – and as usual all the best one-liners come from the two children

"Sometimes you need to travel the world - to discover what you really needed all along was right here at home …"

I would say that for it class and genre, that this would be a successful movie and is recommended as a romantic comedy
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8/10
A great KNIGHT out … that'll make your DAY!
19 July 2010
KNIGHT AND DAY tells the tale of two strangers that have a chance meeting at an airport – which leads to a very different destination than either of them expected … changing both of their lives forever …

June Havens (Cameron Diaz – Something about Mary, Charlie's Angels) is planning to attend her sister's wedding – whilst everything changes when she bump into Roy Miller (Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible, Collateral, Jerry Maguire) - a maverick secret agent who has suddenly realised that as well as the bad guys – his own side has turned on him as well. They very soon form an unlikely team once they discover that the only ones that they can trust are each other.

The FBI / CIA and several bad gangs and governments are all after the permanently re-generating power source – that is in Roy Miller's possession and would do anything (including bumping off their own man) to get it!

Lot's of cool action scenes and stunts interspersed with some great comedy one-liners and visual gags (especially funny is the "truth drug" scene) …

The very assured, able direction is by James Mangold (Cop Land, Walk the Line, Girl Interrupted) – who seems to revel in these high-octane adventure movies. The film is well paced and the story works with many twists and turns that should keep everyone interested.

The thing that normally makes or breaks these type of movies is the chemistry between the main leads – and in this film it works really well as I think that this film is a vehicle made for Cruise and Diaz – and they excel in these type of roles.

I think that KNIGHT AND DAY will be a very successful movie and I wouldn't be surprised if there were sequels to come.

A great KNIGHT out … that'll make your DAY!
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The A-Team (2010)
6/10
Some films come together better than others
9 July 2010
I thought that the big blockbuster version of THE A-TEAM stuck pretty much to the principles of the long running (and often repeated) show from the 80's.

Director Joe Carnahan succeeded in capturing the essence of the vibe of the A-Team series and the actors playing the main A-Team cast members (Liam Neeson as Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith, Bradley Cooper as Lt. Templeton 'Faceman' Peck, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson as Cpl. Bosco 'B.A.' Baracus, and Sharlo Copley as Murdock) gave very credible performances that stayed true to the original.

Other good performances were by Jessica Biel as Charisa Sosa (as the ex-love interest) and Brian Bloom as the main "baddie" Pike.

The story concept certainly didn't depart far from the original either in that it told the tale of a team of 4 soldiers with exceptional "talents" that get wrongly accused of a war-crime that they didn't commit – only to be court marshalled and imprisoned in separate detention centre's – only for them to escape, team up and try to catch the "real" bad guys in an attempt to clear their name and get re-instated within the army …

There is certainly nothing new in this film – it is very, very much repetition of the original series concepts, story and characters – the acting is adequate – but not brilliant … probably with the notable exception of Sharlo Copley as Murdock who stole the show with every scene he was in … and the direction and the camera work at times seemed very rushed – especially during many of the numerous action scenes …

The A-TEAM is a film for fans of the original series and people who like lots of action sequences – without too much attention to narrative or acting ability … and the Director delivers on this promise … it's ridiculous – but it's fun !

I think the A-TEAM will probably be a successful franchise … with all the potential merchandising off-shoots and with the likelihood of sequels on the way … especially geared towards people who like shoot-em-up action films without to much thinking to be done or for allowing a good story to get in the way
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3/10
A waste of a good cast
10 May 2010
BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS, started off as a type of cop thriller – based in New Orleans following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina …

Nicholas Cage (Raising Arizona, Face Off, Con Air) plays dirty cop Terence McDonagh investigating the murder of an immigrant family who were involved with drugs, his life takes a turn for the worse when injuring his back whilst saving the life of a prisoner – his injuries giving him so much pain that he turns to stealing drugs from criminals to feed his constantly growing habit

This film lost it's way early on in the story and never recovered in that every time that the tension built up to a climax the director would go off on some zany weird tangent that had nothing to do with the story – trying, but failing to emulate the style of the Coen brothers.

Ultimately this was a very poorly directed movie that didn't know where it was going or what it was trying to achieve, and a surprising bad film from quite a revered Director Werner Herzog

Although it should be said that there was such a strong cast and noteworthy performances by Eva Mendes (Frankie Donnenfield) as the love interest, Brad Dourif (Ned Schoenholtz) as a bookie, Jennifer Coolidge (Genevieve) as the Mother and Val Vilmer (Stevie Pruit) as the violent cop – there was really nothing that could save this film.

With the twists and turns in the plot – this film could have gone in any of ten directions – and I'm pretty sure that any of the other nine directions would have made a better movie.

The title of the movie suggests that this is one of a series of BAD LIEUTENANT films - Note to self: Don't bother watching any more of this series
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