Monthly Archives: January 2016



Another week, another Oscar contender. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue (adapted from her own best selling book) Room has four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress. But is it really an award worthy film?

Jack (Jacob Tremlay) has lived in Room all his life. He spends his days with his beloved Ma (Brie Larson) and the only other person that ever comes to Room is Old Nick (Sean Bridges). Jack is content with his life in Room, but just after his fifth birthday Ma reveals that there’s a world outside Room, one they need to get back to.

I read the book Room a couple of years ago and I’m pleased to say that the film has done the book justice. Donoughue has successfully managed to recreate the world of her novel and the characters of Jack and Ma feel as real on the screen as they did on the page. Having a dark subject matter seen through the eyes of a small child is difficult to pull off, so praise must go to director Abrahamson for getting the best performance from his young actor.

As for Tremlay himself, he has the perfect mixture of childlike wonder, niavity and his relationship with Larson’s Ma breaks your heart. Considering he’s in practically every scene it’s a lot of pressure on such young shoulders but he gives an authentic performance as a child who has grown up in such extream and difficult circumstances. As for Larson, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said by everyone else, she’s brilliant and fully deserving of the many awards she has won already. Surely if she doesn’t win an Oscar it will be a travesty? Her Ma is full of strength, bravery but also a vunerable and slightly damaged person.

Considering I was either in tears or on the verge of tears during the entire film, room is can be difficult to watch, probably even more difficult for those who have kids, young or older. So the subject matters of abduction, rape and imprssionment will be difficult for some to watch. But if you do watch it Room is a rewarding movie that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.

Rating 4.5/5 -an emotional and ultimately uplifting movie about human bravery and strength



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The Visit

The Visit

Once M. Night Shyamalan was Hollywood’s golden boy with critical and commercial successes like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, then came a string of flops that relied too heavily on his infamous twist endings. Now with his new film The Visit will this be a return to form?

Young siblings Becca (Olivia Delonge) and Taylor (Ed Oxenbould) are visiting their grandparents while their mum (Kathryn Hahn) is away. Due to a mysterious falling out between their mum and her parents they haven’t met them before and Becca is filing a documentary about their visit to give her mum some closure. At first Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop’s (Peter McRobbie) antics appear to be down to being old and eccentric, but then become something much more weirder. What is wrong with their grandparents?

The Visit is not on the same level as The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable but thankfully is much better than Lady in the Water and The Happening. What Shyamalan’s earlier work excelled in was his direction of young talent and Oxenbould and Delonge are fantastic. They are likeable, funny and sympathetic. They made for relatable protagonists and as we’re seeing events through their eyes (or technically through their cameras) if they were unbearable brats then we wouldn’t care what is happening. McRobbie and Dunagan are also well played going effectively between likeably quirky and just plain creepy, while Hahn is also good in her supporting role.

I thought the ‘found footage’ method would annoy me but Shyamalan actually does well in giving the kids reasons to keep the camera working and only a few instances towards the end do you think they should just drop the bloody cameras already. The format also does add tension to many scenes as Becca and Taylor sneak around with their cameras.

Unfortunately I did guess the film’s big twist which made said revelation underwhelming, although I didn’t figure everything out. While there was underlying tension and chills throughout, the film could have been much more scarier to be fully effective. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Shyamalan. Maybe he just needs to cast Bruce Willis in a leading role for his next film to be a smash hit?

Rating 3/5 – for once in a long time Shyamalan has brought us a movie that isn’t a complete chore to watch


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It seems everyone is talking about Amy Schumer, whether its upstaging Kimye by  ‘falling’ on the red carpet or her controversial sketches on  Inside Amy Schumer. Then last year she even wrote, produced and starred in her own movie. But can she make the successful leap from TV to movies?

Amy (Amy Schumer) is a magazine writer who enjoys sleeps around and drinks too much. And she’s happy with her life, until she meets Aaron (Bill Harder) a handsome sports  doctor. But while she wants a one night stand he wants more and deep down does Amy want more too?

Trainwreck is a fun, rude comedy. Schumer enjoys playing on gender stereotypes with Amy being the commitment-phobe while Aaron wants a relationship. The script is full of witty, often raunchy jokes, and the cast are all game for a laugh. John Cena is hilarious a gym addict man Amy is seeing while Tilda Swinton is almost unrecognisable as Amy’s obnoxious boss. Brie Larson also shines as Amy’s straight laced sister.

However being a Judd Apatow directed film the movie is way too long. There was also too many sport references and jokes for my liking. Sometimes the jokes were less laugh out loud and more of a wry smile. But Schumer shows why she’s becoming so popular although perhaps  you shouldn’t watch this with your mum.

Rating 3/5 – witty and surprisingly full of heart


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The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight Picture

Quentin Tarantino is back and has returned with another western. This time however the movie is more of a mystery. But will The Hateful Eight impress me as much as his other works?

Set some time after the civil war eight strangers are trapped together at a stagecoach stopover. But what are their motives for being there and who will survive the night?

I’ve always been an admire Tarantino’s movies. He has his own distinct style, he writes cool quoteable dialogue and has excellent soundtracks to his films. He’s not perfect (I’m not a fan of his constant use of the n word) but he’s a truely original and exciting voice in Hollywood. The Hateful Eight has it’s flaws, more on which later, but it’s full of passion, good ideas and an excellent ensemble featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.

From the outset the movie really sets the scene of this cold, hellish, blizzard, every time a character stepped outside I felt freezing, which is good as you have to believe that these strangers are literally trapped together. The harshness of the weather is nothing compared to the ruthlessness and coldness from inside the Stopover. Each character is well drawn and you can imagine the actors relished playing their roles. Every actor is good but Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy just edges out the competition to be the stand out character. Leigh throws her all into the character as she gets hit, has stew thrown on her and spits her teeth out all with an insane grin on her face. The mystery aspect is also good with the majority of the action taking place in one location and shows Tatantino has still got plenty of ideas in him yet.

As much as I liked this movie I didn’t love like some of Tarantino’s other work. It feels too long, especially at the beginning, the main characters are all pretty unlikeable and overall the movie it doesn’t wow me as a whole, although there are some great moments throughout.

It may not be as engaging or feature as many iconic characters but The Hateful Eight shows that Tarantino is not one to rest on his laurels as this entertaining movie shows.

3.5/5 – The Hateful Eight shows there’s life in the old western genre yet and in Tarantino’s imagination

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R.I.P David Bowie and Alan Rickman

This week has seen two great losses in the entertainment world. On 10 January David Bowie passed away age 69 from cancer. Then today the sad news broke that Alan Rickman had also died age 69 from cancer. There’s not much I can say that others haven’t already said and much more elequently than me, but here’s a few words about each of them.

My first recollection of David Bowie is his role as Jared, the Goblin King from Labyrinth. I thought he was amazing and I still love that film even now. Over the years I have loved many of his songs from Lets Dance to Golden Years. He was trully original musical icon that will be missed.

David Bowie

I have loved Alan Rickman ever since his villianous turn in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. No offence to Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood but this movie is all about Rickman’s Sherriff of Nottingham. Since then I’ve seen him in Die Hard, Galaxy Quest, Love Actually among various other works and he usually steals the film out from everyone else. A class act that was always entertaining and watchable.

Alan Rickman

I’m sure that many people will be listening to their songs or watching their movies this weekend to celebrate their life achievements.

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

(Lets Dance-David Bowie)


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Rapid Review: Making A Murderer

Making a Murderer

Netflix documentary series Making A Muderer is the story of Steven Avery, a man who was imprisoned for sexual assult and attempted murder of Penny Beernsten in 1985 for 18 years until he was fully exonerated for the crimes of another man. Three years of freedom followed until 2005 when Avery was arrested again, this time for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

Why is this a rapid review? Simply put it’s because you should stop reading and watch this series now. The first episode is even on Youtube for those who don’t have Netflix. I binged watched the whole ten episodes over two days as I was so compelled by the series. The filmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Dermos filmed this over ten years and their series throws up a lot of questions regarding the case.

Being from the UK I wasn’t as familiar with this case as those from the US may be and it’s hard to know if some bias isn’t being shown. It must also be difficult for the family of Teresa Halbach to have this all dragged up again. But having viewed the series it’shard to disagree that the this case should be looked at again and more thoroughly than before. There is so much that needs to be explained and accounted for. It’s a scary and thought provoking look at the justice system, that needs to be seen. So please go watch it!



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Star Wars VII The Force Awakens

Star Wars Force

The hype has been building ever since it was announced a further Trilogy would be added to the Star Wars franchise. Then at the end of last year The Force Awakens was released. I’m probably one of the last people to see this movie, but will it reboost the franchise or become a franchise killer?

30 years after the fall of the Empire and a new villianous group called the First Order is trying to take off where the Empire left off. As the Resistence, led by General Leila (Carrie Fisher), tries to fight the First Order a new batch of young heroes Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) get drawn into the fight and begin to discover their destinies.

I like the original Star Wars movies but I’ve never been a huge Star Wars fan. I guess I was more into Star Trek. Having said that The Force Awakens had me enthralled throughout. The film manages to find the right balance between using the original and new cast as well as appealing to die-hard fans and those who have no idea what a jedi is before watching this film.

JJ Abrahams deserves a lot of credit for successfully bringing such a beloved series back. He manages to mix special effects and practical stunts together to bring us many stunning set pieces and action scenes. But he doesn’t neglect the emotional aspects of the film, which may see a few tears come to the eye of many a seasoned film-goer.

It was great seeing Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher back together again. Ford in particular provides so many great moments and work well with the younger cast. Speaking of the newest memebers of the Star Wars family Boyega and Ridley are both fantastic in their new roles. Finn and Rey were both sympathetic and likeable characters. And who doens’t want to have their own BB8 now after seeing the film! The new baddies also made an impression with Adam Driver in particular making his mark as the villianous Kylo Ren. It was a shame we didn’t get to see more of Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. I also felt Oscar Isaac’s Poe Domeron wasn’t as developed as well as Finn or Rey. All I knew about him is that he’s a great pilot. But considering how good Issac is I’m sure he’ll get more to do in further films.

The success of The Force Awakens almost banishes away the bad memories of the prequels  (well almost).

Rating 4/5 – a brilliant sequel, Rian Johnson has a high standard to fill for Episode VIII.


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Jessica Jones Season One Review

Jessica Jones Season One

This post contains spoilers for the first season.

Back in November I reviewed the first episode if Netflix’s brand new series Jessica Jones. Now I’ll give my thoughts on the entire first season.

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter)had a short lived career as a superhero which ended in tragedy. Now a P.I she has isolated herself from everyone including her foster sister and best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor). When she is hired by a couple to fund their missing student daughter Hope(Erin Moriarty), she realizes her enemy Kilgrave (David Tennant), a man who can control people, is back. Jessica has to decide whether to run from or face her fears.

First off – in my opinion – the series is a triumph. While I admired the look and fight scenes of Daredevil I found it hard to care about the plot or characters. Jessica Jones however had me gripped throughout. Its first episode was perhaps a bit slower in the set up but after a mind controlled Hope kills her parents the series is not unafraid to challenge our expectations. Jessica is a tough talking, hard drinking woman who doesn’t believe she’s a hero. Yet despite herself she can’t help but want to do the right thing. In this case, to save Hope. The series is not exactly subtle in having Hope symbolizing the old Jessica or that she feels saving Hope will somehow save herself but that doesn’t mean the show will goes easy on our hero. Jessica may be the good guy but she may not always win and she can’t save everyone.

Krysten Ritter is phenomenal as Jessica, bitter, cynical and cold she may be but deep down she wants to protect those she cares about. Ritter portrays this complicated heroine well. Another actress might be worried about playing a potentially unlikeable character but the writers and Ritter seems confident enough to let the audience work out Jessica for themselves and let her back story fill in the gaps for her behavior. Having a character as tough and unflappable as Jessica also has more meaning for when we see her scared reaction to having Kilgrave back in her life. This nemesis is hinted at and seen briefly in the first few episodes building him up so when we see him at work we understand fully why she fears him so much.

As the villiabous Kilgrave David Tennant is unnervingly creepy. He puts my skin on edge. The show is also not afraid the call the character what he is – a rapist. It’s terrifying that Kilgrave genuinely does not understand what he has done to Jessica. He believes because he took her to fancy restaurants and hotels it does not matter that she could not give her consent as he controlled her mind with his orders. No matter how many times Kilgrave claims he is not responsible for his various crimes (either because people didn’t die directly by his hands or because he claims to have had a bad childhood) the other characters repeatedly call him out for it.


Thankfully for such a dark and at times bleak series there is some humor to be had. Jessica has plenty of dry oneliners and I also enjoyed the various characters making fun of Kilgrave’ pompously overly dramatic name.

We are also given our first look at Luke Cage, a love interest of Jessica and who will soon be starring in his own Netflix series. Mike Colter is great bar owner Luke who proves a match for Jessica strength wise and does not put up with any of her attitude either. As much as I like Luke though I’m glad that the series central focus is the friendship between Jessica and Trish. With Jessica being so aloof, Trish brings some much needed warmth to Jessica and the show itself. It’s also nice that a positive female friendship is an important part of the show.

A few aspects don’t work out so well, cop Will (Will Traval) starts off as an interesting side character but then his sub plot ends up distracting from Jessica. Lawyer Jerry (an associate of Jessica’s played by Carrie-Anne Moss) and her divorce also gets tedious at times but it does have a brilliantly bloody denouement.

After a fantastic first season I hope that Netflix do the right thing and renews this series for a second. Until then at least we’ll be seeing Jessica in the eagerly anticipated Defenders series. And I would love to see her come face to face with The Avengers like Captain America and Iron Man. Come on Marvel make it happen!


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2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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