Thursday, 2 January 2014

Top 10 Anticipated Films of 2014

It's that time of year again where it's time to look forwards to the films due out this next year. Last year when I made this list I missed out Captain Phillips and Gravity, two of my favourite films of the year, so that underlines my terrible ability of assessing future films! Anyway, with that said below are the top ten films I'm looking forward to seeing in 2014.

Honourable mentions:
22 Jump Street (June 14),  Gone Girl (Oct 14), X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 14), Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug 14), Dallas Buyers Club (Feb 14).

10. Noah (Mar 14)
I wasn't fully sold on this pick after watching the trailer but I'm interested to see how director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) utilises a big budget and major special effects not to mention the epic story as well as Russell Crowe.

9. Transcendence (Apr 14)

Christopher Nolan's long term cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut with a sci-fi story about a dying scientist who connects his mind to the computer he built to allow him to continue living. I wasn't sure with Johnny Depp playing the scientist but the role looks relatively restrained for him.

8. Godzilla (May 14)
Awesome looking reboot of the Japanese monster and the 1998 American film. As a thirteen year old I enjoyed the US original and the teaser trailer for the reboot looks pretty good.

7. Out of the Furnace (Jan 14)

Great cast (Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Defoe and Forest Whitaker) and a really gritty looking story of two brothers moved this Scott Cooper film up the list.

6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 14)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was really good and looked brilliant and excited for a sequel that appears to be taking the story onwards towards all out war between humans and apes.

5. American Hustle (Jan 14)
Out on Jan 1st there is no need to wait for David O. Russell's 70s FBI con man story starring Russell alumni Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Interesting story, good music and some hyped performances.

4. Interstellar (Nov 14)
Christopher Nolan's first non-Batman film since Inception appears to be another sci-fi journey, this time starring Matthew McConaughey, based on the minimal information available and teaser trailer.

3. Inherent Vice (TBA 14)

I was a little disappointed with Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice but with Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master) directing I think there is potential for this to be great. Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro star.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Mar 14)
Ashamedly I've only seen one Wes Anderson film, 2012's Moonrise Kingdom, and it was my favourite film of the year. The trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel looks pure Anderson with a great cast and I can't wait to venture back into the world of Anderson.

1. The Wolf of Wall Street (Jan 14)
Wow, I've been so excited about this film since I first saw the trailer during the summer months. Directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Terence Winter (The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire) and the film looks like a total blast of excess and consequences.  Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler and Matthew McConaughey star.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013: A Year in Film

So 2013 is done and I thought I would write a brief summary of the films I saw throughout the year.

New (to me) films watched:                                                          79
2013 (UK release) films watched:                                                  9 (must try harder!)
Films from my 2013 Top 10 Most Anticipated List:                         5

Highest rated 2013 film: Gravity

Highest rated other film: There Will Be Blood

Lowest rated 2013 film: Gangster Squad

Lowest rated other film: Battleship

Honourable mentions: Margin Call, The Place Beyond the Pines

Biggest disappointment: Not managing to see Mud while it was on release.

All 2013 reviews:


Captain Phillips
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Rear Window

Silver Linings Playbook
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Artist
The Place Beyond the Pines
Thirteen Days
Margin Call
Jerry Maguire
The Birds
X-Men: First Class
The Avengers
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Hobo With A Shotgun
Les Miserables
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Blue Valentine
J. Edgar
For A Good Time, Call...
Monsters Inc. 
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
World War Z
Robin Hood
The Great Gatsby
Men in Black 3
Piranha 3D
The Campaign
Friends With Benefits
The Adventures of Tintin 

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Pitch Perfect
The Man With the Iron Fists
Gangster Squad
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The Taking of Pelham 123
Oz the Great and Powerful
The Vow
To Catch a Thief
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Snow White and the Huntsman
Premium Rush
Wrath of the Titans
10 Years
Ice Age: Continental Drift
The Raven
John Carter
Terminator Salvation
The Sitter

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Sunday, 29 December 2013

FILM: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (6/10)

Why did I watch it?
It's not so long ago that I watched the original Wall Street for the first time so it made sense to see how Oliver Stone took the story of Gordon Gecko forward.

What's it all about?
Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) is released from prison and attempts to make amends with his estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). Winnie is dating young Wall Street trader Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf), whose company loses it's value resulting in the suicide of his mentor. Moore seeks out Gecko to uncover the source of the toxic debt rumour that sunk his company in trade for acting as go between for Gecko and Winnie.

The Good:
  • I thought Douglas and LaBeouf were solid. Douglas brought his Gecko skulduggery and LaBeouf his typical energy. Carey Mulligan was a bit disappointing after some of the film's I've seen her in of late.
  • Frank Langella as Moore's mentor Louis Zabel
The Bad:
  • The soundtrack is truly bizarre
  • Oliver Stone's visual gimmicks, slow motion, split screens, editing styles
  • The script is written with such accuracy it will bamboozle most viewers, myself included, with it's heavy city jargon. J.C. Chandor's Margin Call did a much better job.
  • Clichéd motorbike race where Moore and Bretton James try to out-macho each other 

Favourite line:
'Stop telling lies about me and I'll stop telling the truth about you' - Gordon Gecko

Stand-out moment:
When the penny drops for Winnie and Moore....

Like the film? Watch: Wall Street, Margin Call

What my wife would say: Watched it, 'Good but not as good as the original'.

What the world thinks:
Rotten Tomatoes - 55%
Metacritic - 59/100
LAMB Score - 2.81
Twitter -

FILM: Snow White and the Huntsman (5/10)

Why did I watch it?
I remember seeing the trailer for this dark take on the fairy tale and thinking it had some potential, especially in the special effects department.

What's it all about?
The evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron) enchants her way into the King's life after the Queen dies unexpectedly. After murdering the King on their wedding night, Ravenna locks 
Princess Snow White (Kristen Stewart) away in the castle dungeons for years and pillages the land to maintain her youth. After Snow White escapes Ravenna bribes a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down in the The Dark Forest.

The Good:
  • Strong special effects
  • Charlize Theron smashes everyone else out of the park as Ravenna
  • Great cast for the seven dwarves, Ray Livingstone, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan etc.
The Bad:
  • The huntsman angle didn't really add too much value to the original story for me
  • Kristen Stewart doesn't come out of this too well and made any tiny desire I may have ever had of watching anything Twilight related completely disappear.
  • Chris Hemsworth's Scottish accent - why?
  • Epic fantasy story, sweeping landscape shots, dwarves and trolls and evil villains, its all a bit Tolkien, but with none of the Peter Jackson magic. 
  • The mirror thinking Stewart is better looking than Theron!
'Snow White is fairer?! Go home, you're drunk.'
Favourite line:
'If he starts whistling, I'll smash his face in' - Quert

Stand-out moment:
Charlize Theron's slo-motion evil rise from her milk bath

Like the film? Watch: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit
Like the acting? Watch: Twilight

What my wife would say: Watched it, found it quite boring.

What the world thinks:
Rotten Tomatoes - 47%
Metacritic - 57/100
LAMB Score - 2.95
Twitter -

TV: Veep (S2) (9/10)

Why did I watch it?
I really enjoyed the first season of Veep, chiefly because of the show's writing. It's probably my favourite comedy show on TV.

What's it all about?
Armando Ianucci's US comedy returns and follows Vice President Selina Meyer's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) bumbling office career through the corridors of Washington D.C. This time around the Veep clashes with the President's new strategist Kent Davison, upsets Europe and decides whether to run alongside the President for another term.

The Good:
  • Jonah (Timothy Simons) and his various entrance catchphrases
  • New White House characters, cold cynical Kent and deadpan Ben
  • Satirical humour including government shutdown
  • Dreyfus is in her element again as Meyer
The Bad:
  • Maybe a little too acerbic at times, the more subtle put-downs work better

Favourite line:
'De-pork the visual' - Kent Davison

Stand-out moment: The Helsinki episode

Like the show? Watch: The Thick of It

What my wife would say: Not keen, too crude.

What the world thinks:
Metacritic - 75/100
Twitter -

FILM: Milk (8/10)

Why did I watch it?
Recorded this one sometime ago on the back of Sean Penn's Academy Award for Best Actor. Didn't know too much else of the film's story.

What's it all about?
Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk, a gay 40-something who moves to a progressively gay-friendly neighbourhood of San Francisco and  becomes an activist for gay rights leading him to run for the elected position of City Supervisor. James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin support as fellow campaigners and rival city officials.

The Good:
  • Sean Penn's performance as Harvey Milk is brilliant
  • Supporting cast is also excellent
  • The film's use of real life footage interspersed throughout gives gravitas to the cause and gives the story a grounding 
  • Sensibly handled subject matter 
The Bad:
  • Didn't end up having the emotional punch I was expecting despite focusing on Milk the whole film

Favourite line:
'My name is Harvey Milk and I'm here to recruit you' - Harvey Milk

Stand-out moment:
The moment Milk gets elected 

Like the director? Watch: Good Will Hunting
Like the acting? Watch: Mystic River

What my wife would say: Watched it and I think she enjoyed it.

What the world thinks:
Rotten Tomatoes - 94%
Metacritic - 84/100
Twitter -

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

TV: The Tunnel (S1) (9/10)

Why did I watch it?
I watched this because I read that the Danish series it is based on, The Bridge, was well received. A little shamefully I opted for the British production rather than doing any legwork to watch the original.

What's it all about?
A body is discovered laid across the half-way point of the Channel Tunnel, bringing both UK (Stephen Dillane) and French (Clemence Poesy) detectives together to investigate an anarchistic serial killer working on both sides of the channel.

The Good:
  • The Anglo-French clash of cultures and banter between Elise and Karl
  • Elise's matter of fact attitude
  • Slow build-up, steadily peeling layers off the plot as the crimes continue, similar to The Killing
  • The Seven style climactic end to the finale
  • The performances of the two leads Dilane and Poesy
The Bad:
  • At times, especially towards the end the plot became a little convoluted. I'm thinking of the Peleton angle that didn't seem to be explored in any depth.

Favourite line:
'[To a parent]..It will be alright' - Karl
'We can't say that, we don't have any leads on your daughter's current whereabouts' - Elise

Stand-out moment:
The stand-off between Karl, Elise and TT back at the Channel Tunnel

Like the show? Watch: The Bridge, The Killing

What my wife would say: Watched it. Really doesn't like subtitled bits because she can't play on Candy Crush at the same time.

What the world thinks:
IMDB - 4/5
Twitter -

Saturday, 14 December 2013

FILM: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (4/10)

Why did I watch it?
Sounded like a fun mash-up.

What's it all about?
Young future president Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnesses his mother being killed. Years later Lincoln plots to exact revenge only to discover the killer is a vampire and learns that a legion of vampires control the South, feasting off the slave population. Schooled by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), Lincoln becomes a trained vampire hunter and eventually takes his fight against the vampires to the White House.

The Good:
  • Although no Daniel Day Lewis, Benjamin Walker's portrays Lincoln pretty well in my opinion.
The Bad:
  • Visually the film is trying too hard. Director Timur Bekmambetov creates some horrible looking action sequences, the horse chase and train roof right in particular, and the slo-mo is overdone.
  • The tone of the film is all wrong. You may think going into this that it would be a fun mash-up but the film tries to combine the vampire gore and violence with the serious true Lincoln history on an equal level with Lincoln speeches and all. And Abe Lincoln is not known for having fun. Doesn't work.
  • Really really unmemorable.
What would Daniel Day-Lewis' Lincoln think?
Favourite line:
'A guy only gets that drunk when he wants to kiss a girl or kill a man. So which is it?' - Henry Sturges

Stand-out moment:
Can't even think of one. Those action set pieces that should have been were let down by the over the top special effects.

Like the direction? Watch: Wanted, Nightwatch 

What my wife would say: Rubbish.

What the world thinks:
Rotten Tomatoes - 35%
Metacritic - 42/100
LAMB Score - 2.65/5 
Twitter -

Thursday, 12 December 2013

FILM: Gravity (10/10)

Why did I watch it?
I loved the trailers for this film and I read so much about the technical production decisions Cuarõn and his son made that I couldn't wait to see it. Still it took me some time after it was released.

What's it all about?
Servicing the Hubble telescope, first timer Sandra Bullock and experienced George Clooney are caught in an orbiting storm of debris from a defunct Russian satellite and are cut adrift from their tethers into outer space with only each other for company.

The Good:
  • Visually stunning. One of, if not the most impressive looking films made to date. Befits the use of 3D as well. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki deserves an Oscar for his work.
  • The film's sound production. The combination of no sound effects to reflect the true out of space nature along with Stephen Price's score is brilliant and it's so bizarre to watch debris smashing everywhere with no sound effects.
  • Cuarõn gets a fantastic performance from Sandra Bullock and George Clooney isn't too shabby either as the cocksure astronaut jet packing about.
  • Excellent decision to cast Ed Harris as the voice of Houston Mission Control
  • The first shot, 15 minutes from opening to the debris collision
The Bad:
  • After Bullock spins away following the collision, the shot spins with her for what seems ages with space/Earth/space/Earth and I felt pretty dizzy
The worst time for a fumble in the dark
Favourite line:
'Clear skies with a chance of satellite debris' - Ryan Stone

Stand-out moment:
The initial debris hit and subsequent chaos.

Like the film? Watch: Cast Away
Like the director? Watch: Children of Men

What my wife would say: 'Real good', oh and she cried.

What the world thinks:
Rotten Tomatoes - 97%
Metacritic - 96/100
LAMB Score - 4.71
Twitter -

Sunday, 8 December 2013

TV: Hello Ladies (S1) (7/10)

Why did I watch it?
I'm not always that keen on the Stephen Merchant/Ricky Gervais writing duo, sometimes it grates on me a little, but having just been to L.A. I wanted to at least give the show's first episode a go.

What's it all about?
Stephen Merchant writes and stars as Stuart Pritchard, an awkwardly arrogant and shallow Brit looking for love amongst the models of L.A. Hello Ladies also follows Stuart's lodger, played by Christine Woods, an unsuccessful actress desperately trying to rekindle her career, who shares many of Stuart's personality traits.

The Good:
  • The supporting cast, Christine Woods (Jessica), Nate Torrance (Wade), Kevin Weisman (Kives) and Kyle Mooney (Rory)
  • The front end of the season was strongest, funny moments and laugh out loud gags as Stuart trips himself up each episode.
  • The intro, loved it!
The Bad:
  • Slightly unbalanced, it's difficult to like Merchant's character Stuart, he really is a total asshole but the season ends with him making a selfless decision
  • Cringing comedy crosses the line on occasions - the episode The Dinner was uncomfortable to watch in places (but I still laughed - shame on me).

Favourite line:
[Planning a party]....'Write that down, drub-step' - Stuart

Stand-out moment:
Painfully three-point turning a limo outside a nightclub queue having just failed to blag his way into.

Like the writing? Watch: The Office, Extras

What my wife would say: Watched it, the cringe factor was too much for her in places

What the world thinks:
Metacritic - 58/100
Twitter -

FILM: Hobo With A Shotgun (7/10)

Why did I watch it?
A recommendation from a friend this one. I had never heard of it before.

What's it all about?
A hobo (Rutger Hauer) gets off a train in Hope Town, a lawless town viciously controlled by Drake and his two sons, Slick and Ivan. After saving a hooker from their grasp, the hobo gets his hands on a shotgun and goes on a violent one-man rampage to clean the town up.

The Good:
  • The cartoon villains Drake, Slick and Ivan
  • Full of quotable, cheesy and amusing lines
  • Cinematography, straight from the opening sequence of the Hobo arriving on the train the colour palette used is vivid, bright and fluorescent
  • Rutger Hauer brings a much needed likeability to the old Hobo
  • The low budget violence, if you can handle it
The Bad:
  • The low budget violence, if you can't handle it
  • Although tongue-in cheek exploitation violence, there are a few instances, the school bus massacre being one, where it is a little difficult to take 
Literally, a hobo with a shotgun
Favourite line:
'I'm going to wash away my blood....with YOUR blood' - Slick

Stand-out moment:
The montage that follows the Hobo picking up the shotgun!

Like the film? Watch: Death Proof, Machete, Planet Terror

What my wife would say: I'm more than certain she would be disgusted.

What the world thinks:
Rotten Tomatoes - 66%
Metacritic - 55/100
LAMB Scores - 3/5
Twitter -