Tag Archives: reviews

At A Glance – 2015 Best Picture Nominations in The Academy Awards – the Oscars!

American Sniper
Directed by Clint Eastwood


Eastwood has fine-tuned the harrowing journey. Here he has a beefed up Bradley Cooper giving an intimate glimpse of how real-life Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle’s successful military career emotionally affected his domestic life back in the U.S. between his many tours. Eastwood balances the conflict and domestic scenes with skill. While both sides of Kyle’s life are well crafted and full of different types of tensions I never fully warmed to the characters and the film left me exhausted.


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

A dizzyingly shot story of the fictitious, once famous, superhero actor Riggan (Michael Keaton) and his quest to be taken seriously by his audiences, friends and family. This is a highly enjoyable and dark romp, a great supporting cast and cracking dialogue. Shot mostly with interiors gives the atmosphere a claustrophobic quality reflecting Riggan’s struggles as he attempts to put on a broadway play and juggle the different parts of his fractured life. The cinematography and CGI is excellent at creating the impression that the film is almost one continuous shot. But ultimately the journey is better than the destination.


Directed by Richard Linklater


Linklater charts the growth of his main character Mason (Ellar Coletrane) and the story of his family in a brave approach by shooting and basing the film in bursts over a 12 year period (2002-2013). It is filled with natural story arcs and great period music with such subtle year changes that you can sometimes it takes more than a few moments to realise that we have moved into the next phase of their lives. The ensemble cast is perfect (in particular Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke). Linklater delivers a slice-of-life movie that leaves others in the genre like crumbs on a plate. Eat your heart out reality T.V.


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Directed by Wes Anderson

Back to his best since “The Royal Tennenbaums” Anderson has put together my favourite film of the eight. It centres on the morally questionable exploits of, Gustav H (Ralph Feinnes), the manager of the imaginary hotel in question. In Fiennes he has found a lead actor who wears Anderson’s quick fire dialogue like an old glove. Each frame is a visual masterpiece the zany humour and adventures do not let up until the credits start to roll. My full review here.


The Imitation Game
Directed by Morten Tyldum


Benedict Cumberbatch pours much of his Sherlock character and then some into his portrayal of the brilliant and fragile character of the Father of Computer Science Alan Turing. The narrative jumps between three parts of his life focusing mainly on Turing’s code-breaking time during the Second World War in Bletchley Park. Tyldum puts together the film much like a code dropping clues here and there that will all eventually slot together into an unexpectedly emotional final bow. There are some wonderful examples of dialogue subtext in Turing’s interrogations. Of all the nominated films based on real events this is my personal favourite. My full review here.


Directed by Ava DuVernay

A powerful drama based on the defining battle in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement between Martin Luther King Junior (an excellent David Oyelowo) and President Lyndon B. Johnson ( the wonderful Tom Wilkinson) in the town of Selma. The film manages to deal with the national politics of the day down to minutae of small personal battles of minor characters without overcrowding the narrative or confusing the audience. While the film has been criticised for some historical inaccuracies it is still a powerful drama with excellent performances.


The Theory of Everything
Directed by James Marsh

Eddie Redmayne looks like he was born to play Professor Stephen Hawking. Marsh focuses on the relationship between Hawking and his first wife Jane Wilde. Remayne is astounding not only in his physical resemblance to the brilliant Professor but in the portrayal of the particular and well known way the physical decline of Motor Neuron Disease has left Professor Hawking. The main emphasis of the film lies in the emotional impact of the disease had mainly on his wife Jane (a touching performance by felicity Jones) as she struggled to raise their children. Though Hawking’s brilliance is evident his mathematical work in Cosmology is more of a supporting ‘character’.


Directed by Damien Chazelle

Andrew, young drummer, (Miles Teller) with hopes to impress Fletcher, a ruthless college orchestra conductor, at all costs. Chazelle has sculpted a compelling battle between mentor and student, so much so that the scenes when the two are not together seem flat. Teller, looking like a buffed up Wil Wheaton, is convincing the talented drummer whose hero worship of the greats compels him to make poor life choices. J K Simmons is stand out as the brutal mentor. I have never been so excited to see someone take to the drums. His makes for a compelling drama with a wonderful finale.

My top films here for overall performances, filmmaking and enjoyment levels are The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel and I feel the Oscar for Best Picture should land firmly land in the magnificent Boyhood.


Here Are A Few Of My Favourite Films.

Firstly thank you for reading my blogs in 2012 and welcome to 2013!!

When flicking through TV channels I often stumble across a number of  films and despite some of them being in my library, I find it almost impossible not to get whisked into their worlds!

Here are the first four which spring too mind.

Twelve Monkeys, Ed Wood, I, Robot, &  The Hudsucker Proxy

Twelve Monkeys (1995)

John Cole (Bruce Willis) struggles with reality, is he a time travelling psychopath or a delusional psychotic? In his quest to find out the truth he ropes in psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Madeline Stowe) and emotionally damaged rich kid (Brad Pitt) as they search for the elusive “Army of the Twelve Monkeys”.

Whatchoo talking about Willis?

Why I love it.

If you read my previous blog “Time Travels Through My Week” you will know that I have a soft spot for fiction which deals with the simplified versions of quantum physics. Twelve Monkeys was the first work that dealt with the effects of possible time travel real or imaginary on an emotional level. Bruce Willis give one of his career best performances, constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown, Brad Pitt once again proving that he is a better supporting actor than he will ever be a leading man. Madeline Stowe is always consistent. All under the manic orchestration of Terry Gilliam’s (“Time Bandits” & “The Fisher King”) plot bending baton.

Imdb Link.

Ed Wood (1994)

In Hollywood during the 1950’s the struggling and misunderstood filmmaker Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) collects a band of misfits around him including the ageing Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) as he seems to want to prove that a desire to make movies is enough reason to be in the film business.

Very Welles d'Onofrio

Why I love it?

Tim Burton celebrates the king of the Zed movies, Ed Wood, in his own darkly comic style.   Johnny Depp’s over the top performance mirroring Ed Wood’s own movies. Martin Landau’s Oscar winning performance as the tragic washed up Lugosi. Bill Murray camps it as a wanna-be transsexual actor. The many surreal touches that give this film its wonderful peculiarity e.g. Tor, the Norwegian wrestler, bumps into the scenery and making it wobble it is suggested that they redo the take but Wood replies “No, it’s fine. It’s real. You know, in actuality, Lobo would have to struggle with this problem every day.”. Vincent D’Onofrio provides an almost unrecognisable cameo as Orson Welles.  This movie should not be taken as a documentary!

Imdb Link.

I, Robot (2004)

In the distant future Detective Spooner (Will Smith) has an innate distrust of the semi humanoid service robots despite the fact that the three laws of robotics forbids them from harming humans. So when a colleague dies in an apparent suicide, Spooner is called to the scene only to be confronted by a ‘malfunctioning’ robot.

I dream of Robots

Why I love it?

Author Isaac Asimov may easily have hated it. The first time round Will Smith’s cheeky personality grated but what eventually won me over was the clean and slick view of the future. The design of the robots are endearing with humanoid faces and obviously mechanical bodies. The action and chase scenes are dizzyingly engrossing. But most of all it was the treatment of the first step in the development of how robots might evolve into sentient beings which is what took my imagination for a spin on the futuristic merry-go-round.

Imdb link.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) enters Hudsucker Industries, armed with a degree and blind optimism in the hope of making his fortune. Unknowing to him the company is in trouble. After the suicide of their Managing Director (Charles Durning), a scheming board member Sidney Mussberger (Paul Newman) makes the lowly post room boy the new Managing Director. Then the fun begins.

Amy runs rings around Norville

Why I love it?

It may not be one of the Coen brothers better known films but it is a lovely exercise in re-creating a cartoon-like caricature of 1950’s U.S. movies. Newman chomps on his cigar and the scenery, Robbins plays the idealistic naïve to a tee but the performance that really makes it is Jennifer Jason Leigh as Amy Archer, the rapid-fire-Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter who smells a rat. The Coen’s love of Film noir, more than a touch of fantasy, and just general playfulness with story/character makes this a treat.

Imdb Link

Which films keep you watching again and again?


Seeing as I am now blogging professionally I thought the polite thing to do was to crack open my own blog.

Politeness begins at home and so does blogging… usually.

I am a lover of the arts; in particular books and movies.

Among my favourites are  A Prayer for Owen Meany and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Some months I plow through a few novels and then there are the fallow months where I tend to balance it out by watching tank loads of movies.

Last week was a movie week.

Battle Los Angeles, Limitless, Super 8, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Fog (remake).

Battle Los Angeles was a cheesy Gung Ho litany of war torn Los Angeles under fire from aliens, tense and some very exciting skirmish scenes in a city blown apart by an off world invasion. The actors seemed like terrified well trained marines but in the end it seemed like all the money was poured into the special effects while plot, dialogue and character development were killed off in the first act.

Limitless I did enjoy, a man strangled by writers block  is offered an insight into his own brain and takes it with addictive consequences, the first two thirds were compelling but the ending was a little weak, enjoyable all the same.

Super 8 is J.J. Abram’s (creator of Lost) homage to Producer Steven Speilberg, it has many hallmarks of ET, Close Encounters of a Third Kind and even The Goonies. It’s the old story boy and his friends are making a zombie movie, boy meet girl and alien with a train crash to rival The Fugitive. He tugs at the heart strings but not as much as Speilberg would have.  Still catch it on the big screen if you can.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the best movie I have seen in a while and you’ll know this if you have read any of my facebook posts or tweets of late. A crisp updating of the 1970’s classic series, more moving than Super 8, more exciting than Battle Los Angeles and it has one plotline quite similar to Limitless that is used to better effect, if I go on anymore I’ll just spoil it for you.

The Fog, well  all I can say is I wish I mist it…. see what i did there?

So first blog over and out.

Whatcha think?