Monthly Archives: December 2013

Goodbye 2013-Hello 2014!

Another year gone, and another load of movies that I have laughed, cried and despaired over. So here is my top ten films of 2013 (in no particular order)…

1: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Ok I said these films are in no particular order but The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is my film of the year. Exciting, thrilling and full of great acting, particularly from the girl on fire Jennifer Lawrence.

2: Iron Man 3

After the unimpressive Iron Man 2, director Shane Black bring Tony Stark back to his best with some hilarious lines and exciting action sequences.

3: Before Midnight

Although not quite on par with the previous Before films, I still loved catching up with Jesse and Celine in this thoughtful and realistic look on long-term relationships.

4: Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon and Shakespeare turn out to be a dream combination with this black and white version of the classic play set in Joss Whedon’s own house (which was designed by his wife). Funny, romantic and full of joy.

5: The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola best film to date shows us the self-obsessed world of the rich kids so fixated on fame and celebrity they emulate their idols by burglarizing their houses. Emma Watson stands out as the vapid Nikki.

6: The Conjuring

In my humble opinion the scariest film of the year. While not overly original this supernatural horror from Saw director James Wan will make you jump out of your seat. It also features themost creepy doll I’ve seen in a while.

7: You’re Next

While not quite as scary as The Conjuring, You’re Next still features some cool scares, lots of black humour and plenty of gore. Plus a great kick-ass heroine in the form of Sharni Vinson’s Erin.

8: Gravity

Spectacular special effects makes Gravity the most beautiful looking film of 2013. It’s also strong for its story, Alfonso Cuaron’s direction and the acting talents of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. No doubt it’s due to win plenty during award season and rightly so.

9: Thor: The Dark world

The God of Thunder and his mischievous brother Loki is back with this superior sequel. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are great to watch in a film that’s funny and action packed.

10: Frozen

This delightful Disney film about two very different sisters is packed filled with jokes and heart. Great family viewing that adults will enjoy just as much as the kids. Be prepared to fall in love with Olaf the snowman.

I prefer to mostly focus on the positives of 2013 but some consideration must be given for the films that have not fared as well in 2013. I was probably the only person who didn’t like Despicable Me 2, and I also was bored by the ironically titled Epic. However there was one film so bad, so awful that I have to give it the title of Worst Film of 2013, this goes to ( imaginary drumroll please)….

Diana

The last few years of Princess Diana’s life and her love affair with a surgeon is brought to the screen in a film which no one can take seriously. Admittedly I enjoyed watching this film in a perverse kind of way but I can’t think of a worse film in 2013 in terms of script, acting etc.

But those films were sooo 2013, now as we look forward to 2014 here are some of the movies that I’m highly anticipating

Drama

An English soldier struggles with his memories of torture in Japan in The Railway Man starring Colin Firth, George Clooney’s World War 2 adventure The Monuments Men and the story of a free man forced into slavery in 12 Years a Slave which has already released in America to great acclaim.

Horror

I haven’t hard much about decent horror films next year but there’s some good buzz about conspiracy theory horror The Banshee Chapter, despite not knowing much more about the plot itself.

Superheroes

There’s competition between the superhero movies next year and I’m highly anticipating The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past  but it’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier that I’m most looking forward to thanks to that amazing trailer.

Movie Adaptation of a TV show

 As a fan of the teenage detective show Veronica Mars-The Movie I’m hoping the Kickstarter funded film version will  be worth the wait.

Action

Indonesian Action/Thriller The Raid was my film of 2012, so expectations for The Raid 2 are through the roof.

Mysterious Christopher Nolan project

I have no idea what Interstellar is about, even after seeing the initial trailer but the fact that its directed by Christopher Nolan has me excited for his new release set for late 2014.

Franchise

And finally we’re one step closer to the end as  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One makes its appearance at the close of 2014. Can Katniss go through any more trauma? What do you think?

Do you agree with my list? What films are you looking forward to in 2014? Is there a worst film this year than Diana? Let me know what you think.

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Bernie

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (and if not at least the Christmas season is nearly over!).

People who only know director Richard Linklater from his romantic  Before Trillogy films may be surprised to learn that he is also the director of comedies such as Bad News Bears and School of Rock. Here Linklater reunites with the star of the latter film for dark comedy Bernie, release in America in 2011 but only just released this year in the UK.

Bernie (Jack Black), is the local mortician and the nicest, most generous guy in his beloved town of Carthage. But when he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the nasty and widely hated widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) it ends in murder!

An interesting story, even more so as it’s based on a real life incident. I’m not sure how the real people in this story feel about the film but for me it’s a good little movie. The direction by Linklater is solid, I like the narrative with the townsfolk of Carthege telling the story in a documentary style fashion, the film captures the sense of small-town gossip. Some of them are actors while others are playing themselves

The acting is great from all but especially by Black as the strangely likeable Bernie, and Matthew McConaughey as the district attorney trying to solve the murder at hand. However the film is more likely to generate gentle laughs than rib tickling humour. If anything I feel the film could be darker, and perhaps I was expecting something in the vein of Serial Mom, but unlike that film, Bernie is actually based on a true story therefore it can’t push the boundaries too far with the events that happened.

Rating 3/5-not the funniest film I’ve seen this year but features a great central performance from Jack Black

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Frozen (2013)

No not the 2010 horror film about three kids stuck on a ski lift. This Frozen is Disney’s latest animated film loosely based on the fairytale The Snow Queen.

Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) and her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) used to be close as kids but have struggled to maintain this as they’ve grown older, mostly due to Elsa having a major secret. She has the power to make snow and ice but has difficulty controlling her powers. When Elsa is made Queen her powers spill out in front of everyone and she accidentally freezes the whole of their kingdom. As Elsa escapes to the mountains her sister Anna is hot on her trail to bring her home safely with the help of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) a mountain man, his trusty Rainedeer Sven and Olaf (Josh Gad) a magical snowman.

This is fabulously fun ride that children and adults should both enjoy. It’s gorgeous to look at, especially when Elsa creates her ice palace. It is also one of Disney’s effortless funny features, mostly coming from the supporting characters. Olaf the snowman, with his optimistic attitude and obsession with the sun is bound to be most people’s favourite character. Mountain man Kristoff is also a delightful character full of wit and sarcasm, and his adorable reindeer Sven brings out the warmer side of his character.

The sisters also make for great Disney heroines. Anna is naively charming and determined, wanting a life outside the castle doors, while Elsa perfectly contrasts her being the more controlled and restrained sister, at least until her powers are exposed. Then she lets out her wilder side, relishing the powers she’s kept hidden for years. The relationship between the sisters is also quite sweet, and this ends up being the main focus rather than the romantic entanglements which there are plenty of as well. There are also some nice actions scenes and moments of high drama and betrayals (one reveal  in particular caused several people to gasp out loud in the cinema).

However there are some sour points. The musical numbers are a bit dull and forgettable. Only two stand out, Elsa’s powerful solo “Let It Go” and Olaf’s  hilarious “In Summer”. Besides those you won’t be singing any other songs as you leave the cinema. Those small bits aside, it’s a wonderful family film and perfect for the Christmas season (which I’m sure is exactly what Disney’s accountants were hoping for 😉 ).

Rating 4/5- Frozen is a delightful winter treat that’s bound to melt even the most cynical of hearts

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Sunshine Blog Award

 Winter is here and I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award to brighten up my day! Thank you Hypersonic55-check out his blog at Hypersonic55’s Realm of Review and Other Stuff

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Rules for the Sunshine Blog Award:

  1. Post a picture of the Sunshine Award in the blog post
  2. Post 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers
  5. Write 11 questions for them to answer
  6. Let the nominated blogger(s) know you have nominated them

11 questions from Hypersonic55:

  1. What made you want to be a blogger?

I love films and I love giving my opinion on them. I also enjoy writing so this is a good way for me to keep it up on a regular basis.

  1. What do you aspire to be in life?

Happy (and preferably rich)

  1. If you could change any moment in history, be it your own or not, what would it be?

Probably something like erase Hitler from history but I’d probably be too afraid of the Butterfly Effect to actually go through with it

  1. What’s your favourite TV show?

My favourite show ever is Buffy The Vampire Slayer. My favourite shows on tv at the moment changes but I’m enjoying Community, Orphan Black, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Sherlock.

  1. Do you like junk food?

Yes, although I know I shouldn’t!

  1. What kind of music are you into?

Mostly pop music but generally anything.

  1. What celebrity/famous person would you like to meet dead or alive?

Changes all the time but I’d like to meet Lauren Bacall as she’s such an icon.

  1. What’s your favourite time of day?

Home Time!

  1. Do you like nature?

Yes but I have a healthy fear of it too. As long as I don’t have to be stuck out in the woods camping or anything then me and nature get along just fine.

  1. How tall are you?

I’m not exactly sure but I think between 5’7 or 5’8.

  1. If you could invent a new day in the week what would you call it?

LaurenDay! Is that being narcissistic?

 

11 Random Facts about myself

  1. I have a small toy Dalek on my desk at work which I liked to think wards off people trying to steal my stationary-it never works!
  2. I can’t wait to watch the new series of Sherlock on New Year’s Day!
  3. I had to buy Doctor Who toys for Christmas this year. Cue me going mad in the toy shop as I got a Sonic Screwdriver (David Tennant edition), a limited edition toy set with all 11 doctors and a set of baddies that included two Daleks, a Cyberman, a Weeping Angel and The Silence. Perhaps went a bit overboard but hey it’s Christmas!
  4. I’ve only read two Sherlock Holmes books. The Speckled Band back when I was at school and A Study in Scarlet at my book group this month.
  5. I love Muppet’s Christmas Carol (personally I think all Charles Dickens works should be done by the Muppets).
  6. I’m so excited that Nathan Fillion is going to be in an episode of Community!
  7. My favorite Christmas song is Mariah Carrey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ and Elton John’s ‘Step Into Christmas’.
  8. I saw the Dolly Parton musical 9-5 on stage this year and loved it.
  9. I have to wear glasses as I have one eye short-sighted and the other long sighted which seems to amuse my optician.
  10. I’m suffering from a cold at the moment. Poor me!
  11. I can’t wait for the Captain American: Winter Soldier Movie-it looks ace!

There are a lot of blogs that I enjoy reading and the ones I nominated are a small selection of some of the blogs I read. I hope you have a look at their blogs and like them just as much as I do.

The 11 Bloggers nominated are:

The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger

Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews

Some Films and Stuff

Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop

Film and Coke

ScreenKicker

Vinneh

One Blonde and one Brunnette

Robbins Realm

Elemental Reviews

DawsonReviews

The 11 questions my nominated bloggers have to answer:

1: What is your favourite song?

2: Do you have any bad habits?

3: Marvel or DC?

4: What film are you most looking forward to in 2014?

5: Whats been your worse film of 2013?

6: Is there life in space or are we alone in the Universe?

7: Whose your film/tv crush?

8: If you could invent a new award category for the Oscars what would it be?

9: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

10: How will you be spending your New Year’s Eve?

11: Will you make a new Year’s Resolution and if so what will it be?

Thanks again to Hypersonic55, it’s very much appreciated!

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Carrie (2013)

Another month, another horror remake that no one was asking for. This time it’s  Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce  whose has done her own take on Carrie, based on the book by Stephen King. Can Peirce beat the trend and make Carrie worthy of a modern update?

Teenager Carrie (Chloe Moretz) is an outcast in her school due to her shy nature and her strict religiously mother (Julianne Moore).  After she gets her first period she starts developing phycic powers, namely telekinesis. Meanwhile some of her classmates are planning a nasty prank on her in revenge for being punished for bullying her. Fair to say this is a really bad idea.

I wasn’t looking forward to this film. To me Brian De Palma’s 1976  version is a classic and Sissy Specek is Carrie White. I can’t imagine anyone else in that role. However the film is not a complete disaster such as the recent remake/prequel of The Thing (shudder).  There are a few things this movie has in its favour.

The acting in this is better than most horror remakes I’ve seen. I wasn’t completely convinced by Moretz in the title role, after seeing her in such films as Kick Ass I kept feeling that this Carrie would just punch those girls if they even so much as looked at her the wrong way. But it was good to see in her in a different type of role than she’s normally in, she also was a likeable Carrie and I felt for her in the scenes against her mum and in the shower scene at school. Julianne Moore is fine as Carrie’s mum and the mother-daughter scenes are some of the strongest in the film. But she didn’t terrify me like Piper Laurie  did in the original film. I think Moore was trying to ground the role more,make her more human rather than make her a terrifying monster but I  felt like she needed to go further in showing the unstable side of the character.

Of the rest of the cast Judy Greer stood out as sympathetic teacher Ms Desjardin and Ansel Elgot made for a likeable Tommy, one of the few nice kids at Carrie’s school.

So the acting, for once, was not the problem in this film. So what is? The film just isn’t scary. Some parts are creepy such as the scenes between Moore and Mortez but there isn’t any jump out your seat screaming moments or anything that will have you lying in bed afraid to go to sleep. The film especially falters at what should be the big climatic event at the prom. I presume everyone knows what happens to Carrie at the prom, with it being such an iconic scene. But if you don’t and think you may still want to see this film look away and watch the 1976 original instead or read the book for heaven sake’s!

Still here?

Good.

So the prom scenes end up being a big anticlimax. First of all the pig’s blood pouring over Carrie is overdone, showing us the same moment from three different angles. This wasn’t needed. Secondly  the pig’s blood look like it was CGI, which took away from the horror of the situation. In fact the prom was overflowing with too much CGI it was hard to take the film seriously. Mortez also looked a bit too gleeful as she strikes down her fellow student. Yes the audiendce is sympathetic to Carrie and we hate her fellow students for what they’ve done but she’s still a murderer. Carrie looks a bit too in control of her actions as she murders the other students, rather than someone who has finally snapped after years of bullying and humiliation.

Rating-2.5/5 -All in all its not a terrible remake, just an unnecessary one.

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Trap for Cinderella

 It’s nice to sometimes take a break from the blockblusters and catch up with some independant features. So with that in mind I watched Trap for Cinderella, a small British thriller about identity, memory and obssession.

Mickey (Tuppence Middleton) wakes up in hospital after a fire at her late aunt’s house. She’s left with amnesia, not even recognising her own face. As she begins to piece together her life she stumbles across her friend Do’s (Alexandra Roach) diary unearthings secrets and betrayal.

The film has an intriguing set-up with us following Mickey in her confused states as she fails to remember anything about her life or the people in it. The film then switches to Do’s point of view, chronicling the months leading up to the accident. All this is held with a certain tense interest. However it falls into its own trap-similar to most thrillers-in that it tries to be too clever for its own good. The twists are ridiculous and rely on too many coincidence or leaps of faith to believe in.

There are some saving graces to the film. The plot-while ridiculous is at least interesting, and the cast give the script more gravitas then it deserves. The two actresses Middleton and Roach playing Mickey and Do carry the film well. Middleton in particular is great, able to successfully convince as the wild party girl as seen in flashback, and the vulnerable, confused Mickey in the present day. I’ve seen her in a few so-so films such as 2009 Brit horror Tormented, as well as TV shows such as Black Mirror and she’s always been the stand out for me. I have a good feeling about her and I’m sure if she was in a bigger, and better film she’s have the potential to be a huge star. However this is not that vehicle.

Rating 2.5/5-disapointing in its execution and twists that you can’t take seriously, but good performances from its two lead actresses saves it from being a complete dud.

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The Big Wedding

I remember seeing the trailers for this film and thinking it might be ok in a make-sure-I-turn-off-my-brain-before-watching kind of way. Now it’s out on DVD was I able to turn off my brain and enjoy it?

Divorced parents Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton) are preparing for their adopted son Alejandro’s (Ben Barnes) wedding to Missy (Amanda Seyfried). However complications arise when Alejandro’s biological mother decides to come to the wedding and fearing that Don and Ellie’s divorce would upset her strict religious beliefs  Alejandro gets the whole family to lie and pretend Don and Ellie are still married.

So many things are wrong with this film I don’t know where to start. Firstly it’s got a great cast who either overact, looked bored or wonder why the hell they signed up for this movie in the first place. Were they given a different script that convinced them to sign up and then got re-written during filming?

Then there’s the fact that this whole charade feels completely over the top, would anyone really go to all these lengths to hide someones divorce in this day and age? I know Alejandro’s mother is meant to be religious but you can’t help but feel the family would just tell Alejandro where to stick his request. Whats worse is that this film is just not funny. I wasn’t expecting much from this film but I thought maybe there would be some light laughs to be had. But no. Jokes mostly seem to surround the family’s bad relationships and sexual failings. This is more uncomfortable than funny. Also I did not find any of the conversations between the families believable whatsoever. It doesn’t help that most of the characters are unlikable. The parents are annoying and hypocritical, I had no interest in their grown up children’s lives (played by Katherine Higel and Topher grace) and although Ben Barnes and Amanda Seyfried (whose completely wasted in her role) make a cute couple there wasn’t really enough focus on them to make you really care about their wedding.

The only character who was vaguely interesting was Susan Sarandon’s Bebe , the girlfriend of Don  and ex best friend of  Ellie. She came across as the most sympathetic and nicest character in the film. Her relationship with Alejandro- where he tells her he considers her family, were the only scenes I found remotely touching.

What saves the film from being a complete disaster-besides Sarandon’s performance-is the climatic scenes when the family secrets start spilling out. There are at least a few laughs to be had there, even if they are fleeting.

Rating 2/5-despite the star pull of Keaton,  De Niro, Sarandon and co this is one wedding you don’t need to crash

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