Reviews

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Horns

Reviewed by Patrick Rock

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

I was expecting very little from this film, but I was pleasantly surprised at how dark, but how funny it got. Not for everyone but If Daniel Radcliffe keeps making films like this his career will be brilliant. Bring on Victor frankenstein.

Interstellar

Reviewed by Patrick Rock

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Before i write further I'll flag Interstellar's serious flaw. Its bloody long. Nolan has not made a film under two Hours since the Prestige in'06 and I think his running times are becoming an issue. Other than that this is a fantastic movie. Well written, acted (The Comedic robot TARS, played by Bill Irwin, lightens the whole scenario to surprising effect.) I can't say more about this without spoilers but If you can have an open mind about Wormholes, Black Holes and where our species could be headed then I thoroughly recommend this film.

What We Do in the Shadows

Reviewed by Patrick Rock

  • Currently 5/5 Stars.

From the Trailers spreading across the internet over the last few weeks I got the feeling this would be a good comedy. Its better than I expected. Very smart, the special effects are top notch. The gags are genius. I couldn't recommend this more, its the funniest film of the year.

The Homesman

Reviewed by emer

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Tommy Lee Jones stars, directs and has co-written the screenplay for “The Homesman”, a movie adapted from the 1988 novel by Glendon Swarthout. Set in the 1850s, it tells the story of a gold prospector who teams up with Hilary Swank’s forthright and independent frontierswoman to escort three mentally ill women across the Great Plains, to find help and rest in more civilised surroundings. Hilary Swank is Mary Bee Cuddy, an educated 31 year old woman with a modest but thriving farm in Nebraska but who’s deemed to be too plain and too bossy to find herself a husband. In contrast to her charges, she is a survivor. She is strong and resourceful and hardworking. She ploughs her fields, tends to her livestock and tries to woo the eligible bachelors with her home cooking and business sense but to no avail. Yet, despite her successful farm and strong work ethic, she is lonely and maladroit. The local preacher Dowd (John Lithgow) confides in her the awful news that three frontier women have gone insane through the rigors and deprivation of life on the plains. He decides the only thing to be done is to pack them up and drive them back to Iowa, where a Methodist minister’s wife (Meryl Streep) has offered them hospice. They draw lots and Mary Bee ends up with the unenviable job. She agrees because it’s the right thing to do and also because no-one else will do it in her place. She needs somebody to accompany her and as luck would have it, she comes across George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), who has been left hanging from a tree by a vigilante gang. She agrees to rescue him and cut him down on condition he helps her in the terrible journey, and she is careful to extract the promise before telling him the details. He’s not in much of a position to negotiate so he accepts and they set out on the long and dangerous trail, facing bandits, Native American tribes and worse. The three women are certainly tough company - one (Grace Gummer) has lost three children to diphtheria in quick succession; another (Miranda Otto) was driven to despair by the failure of the family farm and hysterically threw her newborn baby down an outhouse hole, while the third (Sonja Richter) lost her mother in the snow and spends her days writhing and screaming. What follows is her journey across a dangerous, barren world to the Missouri River, with only her self-involved driver George Briggs and the three deranged women to keep her company. From the outset, the unlikely pair get on one another's nerves and they are under no illusions as to the enormity of the task which will take over five weeks through the most hostile territory with risks of attacks from bandits and Indians. The journey will take over five weeks, through the winter and through hostile territory with possible attacks from bandits and Indians. However, things soften after a while and along they way there are some unexpected twists and turns. Swank and Jones are a superb pairing – this is Swank’s meatiest role since Million Dollar Baby and she effectively handles it with dignity and charm. She is a commanding and fiercely individualistic woman who can meet men at every level. However, once the bewhiskered rascal Jones enters the picture, he quickly turns into the star of the show. His cantankerous Briggs as a boozy scallywag and troublemaker provides the ideal counterpoint to duty-bound Cuddy's more restrained demeanor. In what is both an amusing but yet heartfelt performance, his Briggs is amoral, has not a shred of trustworthiness or responsibility and is on the run from everything he has done in his life. This is in stark contrast to the self-sufficient and reliable Mary Bee. The rest of the characters are fine but the performances are understated. Cameos include Tim Blake Nelson as a knife-waving lunatic, James Spader as a cruel-hearted hotel owner, and Meryl Streep in a gentle, motherly role in the final act. With “The Homesman”, Jones shows true storytelling grit and proves he remains a confident and accomplished director. He has produced an original and offbeat western which becomes increasingly engaging as the plot progresses. He deftly handles the shift in tone from comedy to sentiment to solemn to shock. “The Homesman” recalls the movie -“True Grit” - which also showcased a relationship between an ageing frontiersman and a younger woman and is an equally find portrait of such a relationship. While it won’t stay with you for weeks, it’s an enjoyable and very watchable movie.

Nightcrawler

Reviewed by tetsujin1979

  • Currently 5/5 Stars.

Gyllenhaal delivers a career-best performance as Bloom, a fast thinking man looking to take advantage of any situation to make a quick buck, even death. After encountering an accident on the street at night, and seeing a camera crew recording the footage for broadcast news, he enters the world of nightcrawling - monitoring police broadcasts for reports of incidents, then driving recklessly to record it. As he descends further into the violence in his city, he moves from recording the incidents to creating them.

Interstellar

Reviewed by tetsujin1979

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Nolan tries to teach advanced physics with a meandering tale of an astronaut father caught between saving the entire human race and wanting to return to Earth to see his now daughter who has aged while he was away due to light speed, gravity, relativity and science. It never reaches the accessibility of Nolan's previous works, and suffers with its length and overriding score.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One

Reviewed by Starbuckie

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

I loved the books so I was quite wary of splitting the final book in two parts but it actually enhances the story tremendously.

What We Do in the Shadows

Reviewed by Starbuckie

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Uniquely bizarre big brother for vampires.

No Good Deed

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 1/5 Stars.

'From the producers of Obsessed' isn't exactly encouraging. Given that Obsessed was the poor man's Fatal Attraction, No Good Deed should instead be called No Good Film. After spending 5 years in jail, violent and abusive criminal Colin (Idris Elba) escapes jail while being transferred. After giving his ex the kiss of death, his car crashes during heavy rain. He calls at the house of Terry (Taraji P. Henson), a wife with two small children whose husband is away for the night on business (convenient). As he seems unthreatening, she lets him in and pretty soon his wet shirt is off. Some sexual tension develops between them. This is further complicated by the arrival of Terry's friend Meg (Leslie Bibb). But Colin isn't going to play Mr Nice Guy for much longer... No Good Deed is pure trash, plain and simple - but sometimes you just need something trashy so you can have a good laugh. There's plenty to laugh at here - mostly unintentional. We're told that Terry worked in the District Attorney's office on cases involving women and their abusive partners. But soon enough Terry is one of them, playing the victim - or is she just playing mind games with Colin? Even worse is that she doesn't recognise Colin at all. By all accounts, he seems to be a notorious criminal who even gives her his first name - and yet she doesn't recognise him after working on cases involving domestic violence? Daft. Even dafter is the fact that she keeps whacking him on the head with various objects... and he keeps getting up 5 seconds later as if he was Jason Voorhees. 'Keep hitting him until he's unconscious or tie him up!' is what you want to shout at the screen. This really is a numb-skulled film, where you can easily switch your brain to 'off'. For fans of trashy cinema, No Good Film is hilarious fun. For everyone else - avoid like the plague.

The Homesman

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Back in 2005, Tommy Lee Jones followed in the footsteps of his amigo Clint Eastwood and took a turn into directing. The result was The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada, a very fine and idiosyncratic modern western. It's taken 9 years for him to make his next film, but The Homesman is certainly worth the wait. Bossy, 'plain-looking' spinster Mary (Hilary Swank) is an independent woman who can look after herself - not too common in the pioneer days of the American West. She takes on the task of transporting three women who have lost their minds (played by Miranda Otto, Grace Gummer and Sonja Richter) across Nebraska to Iowa by covered wagon, where they'll be looked after by Altha (Meryl Streep). Along the way, she runs into the cantankerous George (Jones), sitting on a horse with a noose around his neck. She lets him go on the condition that he accompany her across the plains to complete the job. 'Three crazy women for five weeks is a lot more than I bargained for' he says to Mary. Maybe he should make that four... The Homesman has been acclaimed as the best western since Unforgiven. That's a tall claim but Jones comes very close to achieving those highs. It's a road-movie of sorts, without the road. Films about journeys are as much about characters. Working from Glendon Swarthout's novel, Jones has co-written the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver. The characters are very clearly defined and the inter-play between the pious Mary and the earthy, weather-beaten George is great fun to watch. The actors really give it their all here. One misstep though: James Spader's hostile hotelier, with a decidedly mangled Oirish accent (we can forgive Jones for that). It's a moving story about frontier life taken from a mostly female perspective - not something you'd expect from the gruff, macho Jones. The Homesman shares a certain amount of DNA with Three Burials - it's about a long journey, it's about characters going through changes, it's even got the same gallows humour. In other words, a Tommy Lee Jones joint that plays very much to his style of directing and acting. Highly recommended - you'd be a darn fool to miss it.

My Old Lady

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

My Old Lady is a comedy of manners set in Paris involving an apartment, an old English lady, her daughter and an American. The American in question is Mathias (Kevin Kline), who arrives in Paris almost penniless hoping to make some money out of an apartment left to him in his father's will. On arrival, he finds that it's already occupied. Not by a squatter, but by Mathilde (Maggie Smith) - an elderly lady who isn't honest about her age. That's because there's a quirk in French law allowing her to stay in the apartment until her death. So, Mathias not only inherits the apartment but also Mathilde, much to displeasure of her daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas). Some family skeletons are going to be let out of the closet... My Old Lady is written and directed by Israel Horovitz, based on his stage play. Whereas most films based on stage plays try to open things out and use different locations, Horovitz sticks to the filmed play format. As a result, it feels very stiff and stagey. Mathias barely speaks French, yet everyone in Paris magically speaks English (aren't the French rather proud of their language?). The chemistry between Kline and Scott Thomas (playing yet another brittle, bitter woman) doesn't work and worryingly, there's even a Star Wars moment in there. Where the film only really works is in the scenes between Kline and Smith, who spark off each other well. Horovitz makes Paris look postcard-pretty, but the French characters are 1-dimensional and barely register. A slow, Sunday afternoon-type film to take your old lady too, but otherwise there's not a lot to recommend about My Old Lady. Voila.

Get on Up

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Get On Up is a biopic of the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. But while it tries hard, it falls just short of being truly great. Flitting back and forth across various timeframes between 1939 and 1993 (!), it squeezes a lot into its 139-minute running time. We discover Brown's beginnings as a dirt-poor kid in South Carolina, then move forward in time to his early days as a young man (Chadwick Boseman) making waves as a talented singer of African-American soul music. Set against the turbulent back-drop of the Civil Rights movement, he bands together with Bobby Byrd (Nelson Ellis) and agent Ben Bart (Dan Aykroyd) to establish himself as an influential singer who broke down racial barriers - music has no colour. He surely was the coolest cat in the business... Tate Taylor, who previously directed The Help, has decided to go for a colourful, expansive biopic of the late, great Brown. It gets the period detail, the costumes and the attitudes just right. It's co-produced by Mick Jagger, so it feels authentic (look fast for a brief appearance by the Rolling Stones). Brown's superb, toe-tapping music is the highlight, with Boseman doing the dancing and some of the singing. Boseman is virtually unknown over here (his recent appearance in baseball drama 42 went unseen in this country), but he gets the hysical and vocal mannerisms just right, even if it can be a little hard to understand him sometimes. It's a very lively, physical performance that is the best thing about this film. The film feels a little too reverent though - a scene involving domestic abuse is kept offscreen and Brown's drug problems are lightly skipped over. Maybe Oliver Stone would be more daring. Get On Up isn't quite 'So Good', but it's an entertaining journey through the life of one extraordinary man. Right on, brother.

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