Happy Birthday Patrick Dempsey

In this week’s Born This Day series, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Patrick Dempsey who was born on 13 January 1966. Patrick Dempsey is best known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd (“McDreamy”) on the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

Patrick Dempsey


Patrick Dempsey was discovered by an invitation to audition for a role in the stage production of Torch Song Trilogy. His audition was successful, and he spent the following four months touring with the company in Philadelphia. Patrick Dempsey’s first major feature film role was at age 21 with Beverly D’Angelo in the movie In The Mood, the true World War II story about Ellsworth Wisecarver whose relationships with older married women created a national uproar. This was followed by the teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love in 1987 with actress Amanda Peterson and Some Girls with Jennifer Connelly in 1988. This film was a flop. In 1989, Dempsey had the lead role in the films Loverboy with actress Kirstie Alley and Happy Together with actress Helen Slater.

Patrick Dempsey’s first major television role was a recurring role as Will’s closeted sportscaster boyfriend on Will & Grace. He went on to play the role of Aaron Brooks, Lily & Judy’s psychologically unbalanced brother, on Once & Again. Dempsey received an Emmy nomination in 2001 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role of Aaron.

Patrick Dempsey has received significant public attention for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd in the drama Grey’s Anatomy. Prior to landing the role of Derek Shepherd, Dempsey auditioned for the role of Dr. Gregory House on another medical show, House. Initially a midseason replacement, the show was very well received and has become a highly rated program. Dempsey’s character is often referred to as “McDreamy” and has received press attention for his sex appeal, and his chemistry with Grey’s Anatomy co-star Ellen Pompeo was well received by fans and critics. Patrick Dempsey was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama at the 2006 Golden Globes for the role. On May 9, 2012, it was announced that the six original cast members including Dempsey had signed up for two more seasons.

In 2002, Patrick Dempsey had a high-profile role as the fiancé of Reese Witherspoon’s character in Sweet Home Alabama. In 2004, he co-starred in the highly acclaimed HBO production Iron Jawed Angels, opposite Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston. In 2007, Patrick Dempsey starred in the Disney film Enchanted, and the Paramount Pictures film Freedom Writers where he reunited with his Iron Jawed Angels co-star Hilary Swank. Patrick Dempsey’s most recent roles include the 2008 film Made of Honor as Tom and the 2010’s romantic comedy Valentine’s Day. Patrick Dempsey starred as Dylan Gould in the 2011 movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon. On November 1, 2012, Deadline.com reported that Patrick Dempsey is set to star in the romantic comedy Wonderful Tonight playing opposite Amanda Seyfried.

Patrick Dempsey enjoys auto racing in his spare time, having competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race, and Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race. He was a co-owner of the Vision Racing IndyCar Series team and current owner of Dempsey Racing, which is presently racing two Mazda RX-8 cars in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class. He participates in this series as often as his schedule allows, as he is unable to race while filming a movie due to insurance issues.

Patrick Dempsey was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 12. As a result, it is necessary for him to memorize all his lines in order to perform, even for auditions where he was unlikely to get the part.

Entertainment Weekly put Patrick Dempsey’s hair on its end-of-the-decade “best-of” list, saying, “What made Grey’s Anatomy a mega-medi-hit? It could have something to do with creator Shonda Rhimes’ scalpel-sharp writing…or McDreamy’s impossibly luxurious man hair. Just saying.” BuddyTV ranked him #74 on its list of “TV’s Sexiest Men of 2011”.

Image reproduced from abcnews.go.com
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Happy Birthday Kenneth Branagh

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Kenneth Branagh who was born on 10 December 1960. Kenneth Branagh is an actor and film director from Northern Ireland. He is best known for directing and starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays. Kenneth Branagh has also starred in numerous other films and television series including Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Wallander. He directed such notable films as Swan Song (Academy Award nominated for Best Live Action Short Film), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (also starring) and the 2011 blockbuster action film Thor.

Branagh at the 2011 press conference for Thor


Kenneth Branagh was born and brought up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At the age of nine, he relocated with his family to Reading, Berkshire to escape the Troubles. At school, he acquired an English accent to avoid bullying. On his identity today he has said, “I feel Irish. I don’t think you can take Belfast out of the boy,” and he attributes his “love of words” to his Irish heritage.

Kenneth Branagh is known for his film adaptations of William Shakespeare, beginning with Henry V (1989) for which was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director, followed by Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). As You Like It premiered in theatres in Europe, but was sent directly to television in the U.S., where it aired on HBO in August 2007. Branagh was also in Oliver Parker’s Othello playing Iago.

Notable non-Shakespeare films in which Branagh has appeared include Dead Again (1991) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), both of which he also directed, Wild Wild West (1999), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and Valkyrie (2008). He starred as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). He also played the Minister, Dormandy, (a parody of PMG Tony Benn) in the film The Boat That Rocked (2009).

From 1989 to 1996 Branagh mostly directed his own films, but the commercial and critical failure of Love’s Labour’s Lost ended his directorial career for a time. In 2006, the same year that Branagh’s film version of As You Like It was released, he also directed a film version of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. Branagh has also directed the thriller Sleuth (2007), a remake of the 1972 film.

At a film promotion for Valkyrie in 2008, Branagh confirmed that he would be directing Thor, a film based on the Marvel superhero. Thor, Branagh’s return to big-budget directing, was released on 6 May 2011 and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins.

Branagh is the star of the Wallander television series, adaptations of Henning Mankell’s best-selling Wallander crime novels. Branagh plays the eponymous Inspector Kurt Wallander and also serves as the executive producer of the series. The first three episodes were broadcast on BBC One in November and December 2008. Branagh won the award for best actor at the 35th Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards (2009). It was his first major television award win in the UK. He received his first BAFTA TV on 26 April 2009 for the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series. For his performance in the episode One Step Behind, he was nominated in the Outstanding Actor, Miniseries or Movie category of the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards. The role also gained him a nomination for Best Actor at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards. The second season of three episodes were filmed in 2009 and aired in January 2010 on the BBC and October/November 2010 on PBS in the US. Plans have been announced for a third season of six episodes—the last three Mankell novels, as well as three original Wallander stories.

Branagh was married to actress Emma Thompson from 20 August 1989 until 1995. After their divorce, he was in a well-publicised relationship for several years with actress Helena Bonham Carter, whom he directed and starred with in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In 2003, he married film art director Lindsay Brunnock, to whom he was introduced by Bonham Carter in 1997. He speaks Italian and is a lifelong supporter of Belfast football team Linfield, as well as Tottenham Hotspur.

Branagh was the youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (also known as the Gielgud Award) in 2000. Alongside Roberto Benigni, he is one of only two non-American actors to be nominated for Oscars for acting, writing, and directing, and one of nine actors to have achieved this honour. The other seven are Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, John Huston and John Cassavetes.

Image reproduced from Wikipedia Commons
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Happy Birthday Julianne Moore

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of American actress Julianne Moore who was born on 03 December 1960. Throughout her career, she has been nominated for four Oscars, six Golden Globes, three BAFTAs and nine Screen Actors Guild Awards. She is also a children’s book author.

Julianne Moore at the 2009 Venice Film Festival


Julianne Moore began her acting career in 1983 in minor roles, before joining the cast of the soap opera As the World Turns, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1988. She began to appear in supporting roles in films during the early 1990s, in films such as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The Fugitive. Her performance in Short Cuts (1993) won her and the rest of the cast a Golden Globe for their ensemble performance, and her performance in Boogie Nights (1997) brought her widespread attention and nominations for several major acting awards.

Her success continued with films such as The Big Lebowski (1998), The End of the Affair (1999) and Magnolia (1999). She received particular acclaim for her portrayal of a betrayed wife in Far from Heaven (2002), winning several critic awards as best actress of the year, in addition to several other nominations, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. The same year, she was also nominated for several awards as best supporting actress for her work in The Hours.

In October 2007, Moore made her literary debut with the publication of Freckleface Strawberry, a children’s book based on her experiences as a child. In April 2009, Moore followed up with a second children’s book titled Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully.

2009 saw Moore appear opposite Colin Firth in the well-received American drama A Single Man, for which she received her fifth Golden Globe nomination, with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calling her performance “explosively good”. During the 2009–2010 season of 30 Rock, she had a guest role as Nancy Donovan, a love interest for Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy.

In 2010, Moore starred in the erotic thriller Chloe, theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics and has since become director Atom Egoyan’s biggest moneymaker ever. In his review of the film, David Edelstein of the New York magazine called Moore’s performance “extraordinarily raw and affecting.” Moore next appeared in the comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right, co-starring Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo; Moore was instrumental in getting the film made and in getting Bening involved.

The Kids Are All Right was both a critical and commercial success, garnering acting and production nominations from the Gotham Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards, as well as winning the Golden Globe Award for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy”. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times commented, “Moore and Bening are superb actors here, evoking a marriage of more than 20 years, and all of its shadings and secrets, idealism and compromise”, and the Los Angeles Times review said, “Moore is fearless” and “plays every note perfectly.” For this role, Moore received her sixth Golden Globe Award nomination and a BAFTA nomination.

In July 2011, Moore appeared in the comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love., co-starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, which was successful commercially and received favorable reviews, with The Globe and Mail commenting, “some genuinely impressive acting breaks out. The accomplished Moore is an obvious candidate and, even in a confined role, she delivers – here a nervous look, there a tender gesture.” It has been announced that Moore is to portray former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin in an upcoming HBO drama. Altogether, she has five upcoming projects, amongst others the fantasy film The Seventh Son based on the book series The Wardstone Chronicles, co-starring Jeff Bridges, in which Moore will star as the “most dangerous 1700s witch” Mother Malkin.

Image reproduced from Wikipedia Commons
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / hollywoodstreams
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Happy Birthday Robert De Niro

On 17 August City Connect celebrates the birthday of acclaimed American actor, producer and director Robert De Niro who was born on this day back in 1943. Robert De Niro has been nominated for the Academy Awards (Oscars) and BAFTAs several times in his acting career and has won two Academy Awards to date: an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and an Oscar for Best Actor in Raging Bull (1980). In recent times, Robert De Niro has taken on occasional roles in comedies such as Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers which have allowed audiences to see a softer, more humourous side to this actor and thus Robert De Niro has avoided being typecast in mob roles. Robert De Niro is a firm believer in Method Acting and has gone to great lengths in the name of roles he has portrayed – for example, De Niro gained 60 pounds and learnt how to box for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.


Robert De Niro was born in New York City on 17 August 1943. His first major film role was in 1973’s Bang the Drum Slowly. In 1974, he played the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, a role that won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

His critically acclaimed, longtime collaboration with Martin Scorsese began with 1973’s Mean Streets, and earned De Niro an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his roles in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991). In addition, he received nominations for his acting in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978) and Penny Marshall’s Awakenings (1990). Also in 1990, his portrayal as Jimmy Conway in Scorsese’s Goodfellas earned him a BAFTA nomination.

He has earned four nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy: New York, New York (1977), Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999) and Meet the Parents (2000).

De Niro directed A Bronx Tale (1993) and The Good Shepherd (2006).

Praised for his commitment to roles, stemming from his background in method acting, De Niro gained 60 pounds (27 kg) and learned how to box for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull; ground his teeth for Cape Fear; lived in Sicily for The Godfather Part II; worked as a cab driver for a few weeks for Taxi Driver; and learned to play the saxophone for New York, New York. He again put on weight for his performance as Al Capone in The Untouchables (1987).

De Niro’s brand of method acting includes employing whatever extreme tactic he feels is necessary to elicit the best performance from those with whom he is working. During the filming of The King of Comedy, for example, he directed a slew of anti-Semitic epithets at co-star Jerry Lewis in order to enhance and authenticate the anger demonstrated by his onscreen character. According to People magazine, the technique was successful. Lewis recalled, “I forgot the cameras were there… I was going for Bobby’s throat.”

Fearing he had become typecast in mob roles, De Niro began expanding into occasional comedic roles in the mid-1980s and has had much success there as well, with such films as Brazil (1985), the hit action-comedy Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999) opposite actor/comedian Billy Crystal, Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004), both opposite Ben Stiller.

In 1993, De Niro made his directorial debut with A Bronx Tale. The film, written by Chazz Palminteri, was about Palminteri’s turbulent childhood in the Bronx. De Niro agreed to direct the film after seeing Palminteri’s one-man off-Broadway play. De Niro also played Lorenzo, the bus driver who struggles to keep his son away from local mobster Sonny, played by Palminteri.

De Niro did not direct another film until 2006’s The Good Shepherd, which starred Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. The Good Shepherd depicts the origins of the CIA, with Damon portraying one of the top counter-intelligence agents during World War II and the Cold War. De Niro has a small role as General Bill Donovan, who recruits Damon’s character into the world of counter-intelligence.

De Niro, who lives in New York City, has been investing in the TriBeCa neighborhood in lower Manhattan since 1989. He also has residences on the east and west sides of Manhattan and an estate in Marbletown in upstate New York. His capital ventures have included: cofounding the film studio TriBeCa Productions; the popular Tribeca Film Festival; Nobu and TriBeCa Grill, which he co-owns with a developer Paul Wallace and Broadway producer Stewart F. Lane, The Greenwich Hotel, located in Tribeca, and the restaurant inside the hotel, Locanda Verde, formally known as Ago, which is run by executive chef and co-owner, Andrew Carmellini.

De Niro is a supporter of the Democratic Party, and vocally supported Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. De Niro publicly supported John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. In 1998, he lobbied Congress against impeaching President Bill Clinton. On February 4, 2008, De Niro supported Obama at a rally at the Izod Center in New Jersey before Super Tuesday.

In 2011, De Niro appeared in the action film The Killer Elite with Jason Statham and Clive Owen, and in Limitless, the film adaptation of the novel The Dark Fields, with Bradley Cooper, directed by Neil Burger and in New Year’s Eve, the romantic comedy film directed by Garry Marshall. Thirty-four years after Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900, De Niro will star in one of three episodes of the film Manuale d’amore 3, with Monica Bellucci, directed by Italian director Giovanni Veronesi. De Niro is attached to star in the upcoming project The Irishman, that will be directed by Martin Scorsese and co-starred by Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. In January 2011, CBS picked up De Niro’s crime pilot, Rookies. Also in 2011, De Niro was the President of the Jury for the 64th Cannes Film Festival.

In 2012, he stars in the movies The Silver Linings Playbook, Freelancers, Red Lights and in Being Flynn.

Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Image reproduced from Wikipedia Commons
Video reproduced from YouTube / hollywoodstreams

Joyeux Anniversaire Isabelle Adjani

On June 27, City Connect celebrates the birthday of French actress Isabelle Adjani who has recently been chosen as the new face for jewellery house Poiray for their forthcoming international campaigns. Poiray explained their choice of the leading actress as their ambassador saying she is “an icon to embody femininity, sensuality and the sensuality of these collections”.

Isabelle Adjani for Poiray

Isabelle Adjani is the only actress in the history of French cinema to get five César Awards for Best Actress, for the films Possession (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), La Reine Margot (1994) and La Journée de la Jupe (2009). She was also given a double Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1981 and a Berlin Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1989. She also received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Adjani has appeared in 30 films since 1970. She performs in French, English and German.

Joyeux Anniversaire Isabelle Adjani!


Adjani was born in an immigrant neighborhood Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine, a suburb of Paris to an Algerian father of Turkish origin from Constantine, Algeria, Mohammed Cherif Adjani. Her father was a soldier in the French Army in World War II. Her mother Augusta, called “Gusti”, was German. She grew up bilingual, speaking German and French fluently. After winning a school recitation contest, she began acting in amateur theater by the age of twelve. At the age of 14, she starred in her first motion picture Le Petit bougnat (1970).

She first gained fame as a classical actress for her interpretation of Agnès, the main female role in Molière’s L’École des femmes, but soon left the Comédie Française she had joined in 1972, to pursue a film career. After minor roles in several films, she enjoyed modest success in the 1974 film La Gifle (or The Slap). The following year, she landed her first major role in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adèle H. Critics enthused over her performance, with Pauline Kael calling her acting talents “prodigious”. She was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and offers for roles in Hollywood films, such as Walter Hill’s 1978 crime thriller The Driver. She then played Lucy in Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake of Nosferatu (1979).

In 1981, Adjani received the Cannes Film Festival’s best actress award for the Merchant Ivory film Quartet based on the novel by Jean Rhys, and for the horror film Possession. The following year, she received her first César Award for Possession, in which she portrays a woman having a nervous breakdown. In 1983, she won her second César, for her depiction of a vengeful woman in the blockbuster One Deadly Summer. That same year, she released the French pop album Pull Marine written and produced by Serge Gainsbourg. She starred in a music video for the hit title song Pull Marine, which was directed by Luc Besson.

In 1988, she co-produced and starred in a biopic of the sculptor Camille Claudel. She received her third César and second Oscar nomination for her role in the film, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Following this publicity, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the ’50 Most Beautiful People’ in the world in 1990. Her fourth César win was for the 1994 film La Reine Margot, an ensemble epic directed by Patrice Chéreau. Below is the wedding scene from Adjani’s acclaimed film La Reine Margot.

In 2009, she won her fifth César in La Journée de la Jupe playing a teacher in a tough school who holds her class hostage. In 2010, Isabelle Adjani starred once more opposite Gérard Depardieu playing the role of the ghost of his old flame, killed in a far-off motorcycle accident, in the French road movie Mammuth.

When talking about her work, Isabelle Adjani has been reported as saying: “I like films that rest in the memory so I try and choose parts which have some kind of social or emotional force. For me, being an actress is not just a profession but a profession of faith”.

In 1980 she had a son, Barnabé Nuytten with cinematographer Bruno Nuytten. Adjani was romantically linked to actor Warren Beatty from 1986 to 1987, and Daniel Day Lewis from 1989 to 1995. He left her during her pregnancy with their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, who was born in 1995. Adjani was also engaged to composer Jean Michel Jarre; they broke up in 2004.

In 2011 she was named ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in Film’ by the Los Angeles Times magazine. However the actress has faced constant claims about her use of plastic surgery. In an interview with Gala magazine in 2011, she admitted using anything she could to make her look younger, from Botox injections to hyaluronic acid. She said, “I am a follower of hyaluronic acid – always in small doses of course – to fill wrinkles and fine lines”.

Parisians are now used to seeing her wandering around the city in oversized dark glasses and large headscarves, maintaining a low-key public profile. Her ash-white face is said to often look completely frozen, while her pronouncements can be equally eccentric. It has led to a perception among many in France that, like a lot of sensitive artists, she lives in her own world.

The popular stand-up comedian Florence Foresti often potrays Adjani as a Greta Garbo-type recluse who constantly says: “Je ne suis pas folle, vous savez” (translated as “You know, I’m not mad”). Here is an example of Florence Foresti portraying Isabelle Adjani on the French TV programme On N’est Pas Couché with Laurent Ruquier:

Image reproduced from montres-de-luxe.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / maxime236 and YouTube / Vinsugoy
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Film Review: One For The Money

So Katherine Heigl has done it again! She has managed to star in yet another bad movie, when will she learn? Her latest attempt at entertaining an audience, One For The Money, based on the Janet Evanoich novel of the same name is a disgrace to cinema. The novel is the first in a series of books about bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, but after Heigl’s performance, it doesn’t look like this film is going to become a successful franchise like the novels.

Katherine Heigl in One For The Money

The narrative revolves around Plum’s (Heigl) first mission as a bounty hunter. She is assigned the ‘difficult’ task of capturing  fugitive dirty cop, Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara) who is wanted for murder. It is revealed early on in the film that Morelli and Plum have a romantic history, he took her virginity from her years before. The entire film is essentially a like an elongated episode of Tom and Jerry, only not as entertaining, and rather than connecting with the main characters, you don’t care what happens to them.

In terms of genre, I am still trying to categorize this film. It fails as a comedy, an action flick, a thriller and a chick flick. In fact there is absolutely no on screen chemistry between Heigl and love interest O’Mara. There seems to more chemistry between Heigl and Daniel Sunjata who plays her mentor, Ricardo Carlos Manoso, which is just confusing and annoying.

Katherine Heigl and co-star Daniel Sunjata

Criticism aside, there are elements of the film that did work, scenes with actress Sherri Shepard who plays an extroverted hooker were humorous, I wish she had more screen time! Perhaps, that was the key to saving this film. Furthermore, casting Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur was one of the only things this film got right, and I am sure that fans of the book will agree, no matter what character she plays, Reynolds has this amazing ability to communicate with the audience through the camera. She was brilliant as always in this one.

Debbie Reynolds at the New York film premiere of the movie

So on second thought, perhaps I was a little cruel earlier, this film isn’t just awful because of Katherine Heigl, this film is terrible because of the script, the direction, some of the acting, and Katherine Heigl. If these are the only movie roles that she can get, it’s no wonder that she is begging to get back on Grey’s Anatomy.

The film was released in UK cinemas on Friday 24 February and will be currently still showing in cinemas near you, so if you think I’m being a little bit cruel, go and check it out for yourself and let me know what you think of it in the comment section below.

Image reproduced from filmequals.com, whatculture.com and daylife.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / hollywoodstreams


Tracks is the least entertaining film I’ve seen to date. The premise is a girl who embarks on a journey across the Australian landscape!

Mia Wasikowska plays Robyn Davidson who embarks on huge journey in Australia from the centre to the west. She seems to like animals better than people. Actively avoiding other humans wherever possible.

For me it lacked any pizzazz. While this might be a true story, this offering was hardly doing it any justice. Robyn is portrayed has lukewarm and a bit of an animal nut. Adam Driver (Girls) appears as her photographer Rick Smolan, who goes with her. (This is odd if she doesn’t like people.)

The scenery is the best thing about this film, Australia is a beautiful land and there’s ample good footage. However there’s no spark between Rick and Robyn, no humour, no romance. She might prefer camels to humans but I don’t want see something like that on the screen! The advert years ago of the singing camel on a BT advert sprung to mind; #‘Are you lonesome tonight.’

The film lacked comedy and more importantly companionship. What could have been a very interesting story was lost in one part due to narration about the event and then the event itself. It was very taxing having to watch the journey and there was times when I just hoping she’d find a shortcut. ‘Camel farm – 1 mile west. No humans guaranteed.’

Adam Driver shows promise but he’s hardly taxed in the role. Seemingly just happy to be there. And why not, the pair of them are getting a great trip for free. Sadly that doesn’t make movie gold.

I’m giving this 2/10. Perhaps it could have used more people or a different actress? Carrying a film by yourself is a very big responsibility. I don’t think Mia Wasikowska is ready for such a feat yet.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from Movie Trailers.

Film Review: Parkland

Parkland 2013
Parkland stars Zac Efron and the shooting of US President Kennedy is the main story. Viewed from different perspectives, so there’s an ensemble cast. I saw this on DVD recently.

It covers the day of the shooting and then three days afterwards. Dr. Charles James “Jim” Carrico (Efron) is working at the hospital where JFK is taken after he is shot. Head Nurse Doris Nelson (Marcia Gay Harden) is with him as they battle to try to save him.

There’s a cameraman who captures the whole assassination attempt on film. Then Lee Oswald and his family, who are shattered by his decision to execute the President.

The film itself was gritty and did well at the start. It captured the shock and sense of loss that the nation felt. Where it faltered was splitting off into too many different realms. You had the FBI, the emergency room, the cameraman, the shooter, poor Jackie all alone.

There was also a scene where there was a fight over the President’s body. A Texas law states you can’t move a body until an autopsy is done. The FBI just takes the President’s body out by shoving their way out of the room! Then the FBI rips seats off Air Force One to fit the coffin onboard.

I found this a little bit pointless, you have a huge task of capturing one of the saddest moments of human history and all that seemed to be happening was squabbles over seats and by-laws!

Oswald had a batty old mother? The officers strongly suggest to Oswald’s brother he leave town and change his name – if he ever wants the help of the police again. Then there was more backbiting as the secret service found out an agent had dealings with Oswald and had him in the office a year ago!

It was all a bit bland though. I didn’t like hardly any of the actors picked to portray the key people.

Kat Steffens who played Jackie Kennedy was the highlight. This actress really got across the trauma and devastation of a woman who lost her husband in truly awful circumstances.

Zac did well as the emergency room doctor Carrico but he was underused.

Two other actors played FBI agents but I didn’t recognise them when I saw it. Austin Nichols (Wimbledon/Agents of SHEILD) and Tom Welling (Smallville).

I’m going to give this film 5/10. Far too muddled to be movie gold. I think a few less people might have helped. You can’t cover everyone and everything!

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from MOVIECLIPS Trailers

Film Review: Bad Neighbours

Bad Neighbours - Empire Cinemas
Bad Neighbours was a funny film. It’s not for the faint hearted or very young eyes.

Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) is the college kid who is in charge of the frat house; they’re called ‘Delta Psi Beta’. His next-door neighbours Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) have a baby, so noise is going to be a problem! The parties are very loud!

Mac and Kelly are hilarious; I loved their banter and the crazy plotting they come up with as they discussed what to do. They tried to be cool with the teens, and it was hilarious!

The retaliation that arose between the two sides made it very believable that some neighbours could end up behaving badly.

In a bid to stop the rowdy parties, this couple put on the war paint! I loved it when they called the cops to break up a party, only to try to pretend it wasn’t them. They tried to make it look as they’ve just been woken up by the police knocking on the door and feigning innocence. However, the police have caller ID, so they weren’t worming their way out of that one!

Now the battle lines are set. Teddy feels betrayed as he asked them to call him first before the cops if the noise got too loud. But the couple were unable to get hold of him. Anger rises on both sides. The couple try to evict the rowdy boys by any means possible. The battle plans include setting off rivalries between the boys, breaking their water pipes and even ramp up a party to the extreme!

I think the movie gave a very good insight into neighbourhood attitudes. Also, the fraternity was like a family too. There is a leader and they look out for each other. The boys just want to let off steam and have fun after a day hard’s studying. Therefore, there are two sets of families here but the parents just want sleep! Mac’s been to work then Kelly’s been looking after the little one all day. So the set up is unsuitable from the start.

Another thing, which I really loved, was that by fighting with each other, both neighbours neglect their community and those closest to them. In trying to win the war, they overlook many things including their behaviour. How many times if we stopped and thought about what we’re doing, we might actually be horrified?

Some of the humour is gross, there’s a lot of focus of bodily fluids and juvenile humour but somehow it worked. I think the banter between Teddy and Mac was fun. The friends who become ‘frenimes’.

Great turns from all involved. Zac Efron had great comic timing but could also pull in some serious turns to give his character an edge. Finally a film which is worthy of him. He wasn’t just a party boy with no heart.

In addition, you just have to see the use of the car airbags, which was priceless!

I’m giving this film 8/10 from me. Efron is the man! He came, he conquered and he won!

Image reproduced from Empire Cinemas
Trailer reproduced from Universal Pictures UK.

Film Review: Godzilla

Godzilla 2014
Godzilla 2014 – began very similar to the 1998 version. A newsreel featured as the title sequence. The name Monarch was heavily featured so I guessed this would have some impact on the film.

In 1999 in the Philippines, a group discover huge fossilized bones in a mineshaft. However, something has burrowed out and gone in the sea.

Then it pans to Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) playing family man Joe Brody who works at a nuclear plant in Japan. They experience something like an earthquake as the plant shifts and the reactor is damaged. He must send his wife down to investigate but has to lock her down there to keep the radiation from escaping.

Then it shifts to 15 years later. His young son Ford is now an army lieutenant (Aaron Taylor Johnson). He has a family of his own in San Francisco, but has to go back to Japan when his father is arrested. Joe knows it wasn’t an earthquake and he believes the government are covering something up.

Joe manages to convince Ford to go back to their old house to collect old data that will prove something was going on. They are caught and are arrested. However, the father does uncover the truth.
Suddenly a huge creature bursts out the plant. The government agents already know what this is – a MUTO. (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object.)

MUTO 1 tears the plant up to escape and flies off.

Joe dies from injuries received in the attack. Ford takes over and finds there’s not just one creature out there. There is something hunting MUTO 1. A massive lizard called Godzilla!

Then they find out there’s a MUTO 2. A female! MUTO 1 is male, if they breed there’ll be an army of MUTOs. Is Godzilla the answer or are they facing an attack on three sides?

This film has a grimmer feel than the 1998 version. There was little humour. I was unsure about this film as there are no big Hollywood names. This does not impair the film at all. Aaron Taylor Johnson does an impressive performance in portraying a man in a very difficult and emotional situation. It’s very good and very well acted. The CGI effects add to the film, rather than be the central story.

The length is just perfect, it gives time to create the tension needed and the build up to Godzilla’s entrance is fantastic! He seems bigger to me than the 1998 one, more dinosaur than lizard and the scales are longer. This one is immune to gunfire and missiles, so getting him will be a whole lot harder.

A well deserved 8/10 from me. A very enjoyable afternoon out.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from Roadshow Films.

Film Review: Endless Love

Endless Love
Endless Love is another remake out on the market. The first one hit the screens in 1981. I’m not sure why this was remade but it does have some good cast members. Alex Pettyfer (I am Number Four) and Bruce Greenwood (Pike, New Star Trek).

The plot line stays the same with a father doing anything he can to stop his daughter from growing up and falling in love with a boy she meets.

The boy is David Elliott (Pettyfer) whose held a torch for years for Jade (Gabriella Wise). Now her brother dies from cancer and it stirs him into action to ask her out. Her dad Hugh Butterfield (Greenwood) is dead set against this romance. No man near his little girl! Sneaking off into a closet with Jade and being caught, does not endear David to Hugh.

Then Jade gets a throw a party but no one from her school bar David turn up. Therefore, David rushes to the rescue by phoning the police to shut the main school graduation party down! This results in them coming over to Jade’s. Now the par-tay can begin!

Rebellion is rife when Jade invites David on an outing to a lake house. The problem is that it was supposed to be family only! Uh-oh, daddy is not amused and this leads to an unsuccessful eviction. The lovers grow closer and daddy gets madder. This leads to some big arguments, manipulation and a fire!

This is the main conflict of the film Hugh vs. David. Now while I liked this film, as it did have a charm about it – I didn’t love it. Something was missing. I could see that it struggled in places. It’s never easy doing remakes. There’s a certain plot you have to follow – or it’s not a reboot but a new tale.

Frankly, I just don’t understand why it was made. There’s no clear reason. Unless the director just happened upon the script. I’d have preferred a brand new venture. Who’s going to remember the 1981 version? So why reboot it?

Would someone just decide to randomly take on a reboot of Desmonds the barbershop? (Who remembers that?!)

I can’t see the finance sector backing Endless Love 2014 easily, as they would be cautious about spending money on unknown ventures. Okay, you got Alex Pettyfer on board which will pull in a lot of girls but this offering barely stretched his abilities. So who gave this the green light?

The family were okay, but lacked any original spark. Joely Richardson as mum Anne lacked any real authority for me. Ann seemingly goes along with events, so later when she starts to challenge her husband Hugh it just seems contrived, you know she’s only doing it because ‘the director is telling her to’!

The love story was the same as The Vow and nowhere near Dirty Dancing. A middling effort so I’m giving it 6/10.

(I searched information about the 1981 version and I am going to try get it. It stars Brooke Shields and has Tom Cruise and James Spader.)

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from AVEO CLIP

Film Review: Robocop 2014

Robocop 2014
Robocop 2014 is a remake of the 1987 film, where Peter Weller played the title role. It was directed by Paul Verhoeven

This new take on the tale is directed by José Padilha. With Joel Kinnaman’s turn to play the cyborg cop.

There are quite a few differences in the story but a fair bit has stayed the same too. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is nearly killed by a car bomb, planted to take him out. He was closing in on the corrupt network of police officers dealing with a local gun merchant Antoine Vallon.

Dr Dennett Norton selects Alex to become the cyborg Robocop, after the first few selections were unsatisfactory. Norton has been asked by Raymond Sellars head of Omnicorp to make a cyborg, as he cannot yet put a complete robot model on American soil. An act being upheld by the Senate denying fully AI robots for deployment.

After a few possible are selected they are not ‘desirable’ enough for Sellars to proceed. Interim Alex’s planted car bomb goes off, he is badly injured and might die. He gets the attention of Dr Norton who thinks he is a good match for the cyborg program.

His wife must agree to the procedure or watch him die. So she accepts the operation. The only things left of Alex is his hand, lungs and head. One eye has a computer chip. As he’s mostly robotic, the term Robocop is apt.

This movie was simply great for me. It has emotion, depth and politics. All very intriguing. Joel Kinnaman was great, playing Alex as a person and as a robot, you saw the change. Can the man remain inside the machine? Can his humanity survive or will the computers override him?

Michael Keaton did an impressive turn has the villainous head of OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars , he made me think at times – was he the real villain? Where did the good intentions go wrong? Do heads of companies do what they do for improvement or money? Are they tied to what, we as consumers, will buy? Are they forced into dark decisions because they need to match a product to demand?

It isn’t long before Robocop is called to bring the people who tried to kill him to justice. More twists and turns ensure this is not boring. A fabulous movie. A reboot that brings new dimensions to the franchise rather than alter everything because it’s ‘new’.

I know a lot of people may not like the human emotion scenes being played out or that Robocop has a lot of interaction with his wife and son; which I don’t think those were present in the original. But I felt they made him more of a 3D character.

A well deserved 9/10 from me.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from CBMTrailers

Film Review: I, Frankenstein

I, Frankenstein
I, Frankstein was very confusing for me. It begins as usual with a man making a monster. Frankenstein was one of my favourite monsters. Where the movie went off the rails was when Frankenstein becomes some sort of monster shooter! Man with a mission type thing.

It starts well, in the Victorian era Dr Victor Frankstein (Aden Young) crates a hideous monster. He’s so hideous that Victor rejects him. The monster goes wild and kills Victor’s wife in direct revenge.

This is where the film goes pear shaped for me, Victor chases his creation to the North Pole and dies from the cold. Now the monster is set upon by demons and such but rescued and taken to the gargoyle underworld to become one of them. He says no and leaves but is given a gun to shoot any demons that trouble him.

This was not Frankenstein for me, but some sort of weird Call of Duty expansion pack. It made no sense and why the director thought this was a great idea is beyond me. Rather like Abraham Lincoln being some sort of vampire slayer. Hmm, just doesn’t work for me.

You don’t monkey with history. Since when did Frankstein have guns? What on Earth were the other creatures in it for? It was like walking into an alternate world and you went running back to where you came from. Compared to this movie, England under David Cameron isn’t really that bad!

The money was wasted on this film. A better script might have done something. Though the monster was played by Aaron Eckhart (Two Face -The Dark Knight), he was unable to save the film. It was horrendous as it suffered a lack of information and sensibility, I was sat stunned by the turn of events. To paraphrase Victor Meldrew; I don’t believe it! Frankenstein a gun runner??? He’s not supposed to be Blade.

Frankstein for me is about a monster bred for perfection but rejected because he isn’t perfect. Left to his own sad fate. He’ll always be a monster. You can’t put guns in and think this is going to be great. It’s not a shoot ’em up. It’s Frankenstein. I had such trouble getting my head around this twist in the tale.

And just what was giving him a name like Adam about? Adam? A monster called Adam? I just lost the plot and gave up trying to work it all out. Gun runners on Frankenstein. I just could not believe what I was seeing. That would be like watching some take on Batman with no gadgets or Batmobile. Professor Snape from Harry Potter, hugging Harry and saying he was the best student in Hogwarts! Star Trek with no spaceships! Would you pay to see that? Hopefully like me you would not.

I was too stunned to give a mark at first. I really didn’t know what to give it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. So maybe something in the middle like 5/10. The effects were good and the cast did try.

Next time there’s a Frankenstein movie, I just hope they WATCH a Frankenstein film. It appears there’s too many video game players in the movie business and this is why you end up with results such as this. Poor Frankenstein. (And no I will not call him Adam!)

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com

Trailer reproduced from MOVIECLIPS Trailers

Film Review: The Railway Man

The Railway Man
The Railway Man was a very good movie. It stars Colin Firth (Kings Speech/Bridget Jones/BBC’s Pride & Prejudice), Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever/Bewitched) and Stellan Skarsgard (Thor/Avengers).

A man makes a journey to find the main man who tortured him during the war. It sounds a simple plot but the acting was outstanding and it gripped me.

The character of Eric Lomax is shared between Colin playing the older Eric Lomax. Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) is the younger Eric. Eric during World War II is taken captive by the Japanese. Of course officers were tortured for information and he must endure agony as he’s torn between duty and emotion.

Colin Firth has played many roles, and he never ceases to amaze me how different he is in very single movie I’ve seen him in. No signs of Mr Darcy here. His wife Patti (Kidman) helps him as time goes by but the nightmares continue. Also helping him is his best pal Finlay (Skarsgard). Returning to the where it all happened was very brave and something that takes a lot of courage. The images of horror would still be fresh as if they happened yesterday – time does not heal all wounds.

The drama between victim and captor was just outstanding, you were left in no doubt scars run deep. I know I’m enjoying a movie when I’m getting involved in the characters lives. I’m not fussing about plots lines. This is something you can sit back and get engrossed in.

Raw human emotions were played out beautifully. Another stunning performance from Nicole Kidman. These two were magic together as the troubled husband and wife. Would it all be too much for our poor hero Eric? Would he get the apology he wants from his nemesis? And if he did, would that be enough to move on?

There was also ample talent from the Japanese cast. Like a well baked cake, all the ingredients came together to make a whopper of a dessert.

Truly gripping and one of the best films I’ve seen this year. You don’t always need CGI and epic wars to get movie gold. This is proof of that.

I truly hope Firth and Kidman will team up again. It would be a crime if they never got another project together. This is such a well deserved 10 of 10 from me. Please put this movie on your do to list!

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from LionsgateFilmsUK

Film Review: 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A SlaveIt would be wrong of me to claim that this is a film review. If anything, it is a love letter. A love letter to the wonder that is cinema. The movies are the world’s great art form and quite often it is sold short. Sometimes by the people who watch the movies, who refuse to see something new that may not involve CGI robots or explosions. Sometimes by the movie industry itself, that incorrectly assumes that the cinema is about box office takings and keeping plots and methods of storytelling simple so then the audience doesn’t have to be inconvenienced by thinking.

On far too rare an occasion though, a film will come along that illustrates everything that is good about cinema. A film that amazes you. A film that makes you think. A film that stays with you for days after seeing it. A film that makes you realise just what an astounding medium cinema is. In my case, a film that lights a fire underneath me to pick up a pen or sit at a keyboard and write the words ‘fade in’ at the top of the page. For everyone, the list of films that achieve this is different. For me, David Cronenberg did it with “Crash,” Christopher Nolan did it with “Inception,” Quentin Tarantino did it with “Reservoir Dogs,” Park Chan Wook did it with “Oldboy,” Alfred Hitchcock did it with “Psycho,” Ridley Scott did it with “Alien,” and Ingmar Bergman did it with “The Seventh Seal.” And now, Steven McQueen has done it with “12 Years A Slave.”

It’s devastating then that I will probably never watch it again. It is that unflinching and difficult to watch that even distant memories of it are haunting. While watching it in the cinema, it’s difficult to resist hiding your eyes behind your hands while trying to pretend you are somewhere else. It’s an appropriate sensation, considering that Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is probably feeling the urge to do the same thing as he’s left hanging by his neck in a field, his feet stuttering around in the mud as he struggles to breathe while his fellow slaves continue working, unable to come to his aid. The same can be said towards the conclusion of the film, when Solomon gives a long lingering look directly into the camera. Directly at the audience. He’s pleading for help and for mercy. It feels like he’s tearing out your heart.

While the film covers a subject matter that requires a certain degree of sensitivity, director Steve McQueen handles it with intelligence. The plot itself is very simple. Solomon Northup is a carpenter and talented violinist living in New York with his wife and two children. He is approached by two businessmen who claim to be part of a travelling circus, and they want Solomon to join them as a professional musician. Flattered by their kindness and the opportunity, Solomon accepts their offer during a late evening meal. He drinks too much wine and gets drunk. When he wakes up, he’s in chains and being beaten for claiming to be a free man.

Solomon is sold to a plantation owner called Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). While some of of his experiences on the plantation are scarring and brutal, Ford is ultimately one of the more gentle owners. He encourages Solomon to use his mind and help improve the way the plantation works. Ford celebrates with his slaves when Solomon constructs a method for using the nearby river. He allows Solomon to have his violin back, and tells him he hopes to hear him play it soon. It’s as close to happiness as Solomon will get in his ordeal. Half way through the film, Ford is forced to sell Solomon to another plantation owner called Epps (Michael Fassbender), and that’s when Solomon’s real nightmare starts. Epps prides himself on beating and trying to break his slaves. If the weight of the cotton the slaves pick doesn’t increase every day, they get whipped.

The majority of the film’s 134-minute length is dedicated to his time on Epps’ plantation. We mainly see his day-to-day life, where he works under the constant fear that violence and brutality is going to come his way. He and his fellow slaves never get a moment to think. They never get a moment to feel safe. They’re all living a life of fear and pain that seems to have only one escape route. Full credit has to be given to McQueen for the way he approaches this. He doesn’t opt to hint at the horrors or the fear. This isn’t supposed to be a fleeting sensation. This is a movie designed to linger and exhaust the audience. It is an exercise in raw human emotion. Solomon is a slave for 12 years, but with McQueen’s direction it feels like it could be a lifetime.

At no point are we given any indication about how much time has passed. Given his situation, would Solomon know himself? We interpret the world through his eyes, and for that reason time doesn’t have any meaning. McQueen makes it clear that for him, an image needs to be more than just something to look at. It has to effect the audience mentally and physically in order to meet McQueen’s demands. Every single second of ‘12 Years a Slave’ is effecting. That’s a cinematic achievement that is rarely achieved.

In a time when the majority of mainstream movies aim to impress and create awe with expensive but ultimately hollow images, it is something to be cherished when directors like Steve McQueen come along and make a movie like this. Movies after all are supposed to evoke the purest of human emotions, as indeed all art forms should. It’s not an easy thing to achieve, and when it happens, it like lightning in a bottle. It’s something that every screenwriter and every director should aim for.

So, let’s all raise a glass. To Ingmar Bergman. To Stanley Kubrick. To Alfred Hitchcock. To Quentin Tarantino. To Steven Spielberg. To Martin Scorsese. To Christopher Nolan. To Park Chan Wook. To Steve McQueen. Here’s to the movies. And to ‘12 Years a Slave’ – one of the greatest movies ever made.

Image reproduced from impawards.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / JoBlo.com

Film Review: American Hustle

American Hustle
American Hustle is on a similar par with other Hustle type shows, those who have seen the BBC series and the Real Hustle programs will be familiar with the plots. What’s different about this one is the set up of the characters. Also it’s based on a real life operation.

Christian Bale (Batman), Jeremy Renner (Avengers), Amy Adams (The Vow), Bradley Cooper (A Team) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) star in the story.

The basic plot stars out okay, Irving Rosen field (Bale) and Sydney Posser (Adams) are working together doing scams. The complications arise when FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) catches them and then wants to use them in a scheme to get a corrupt mayor (Renner).

The wheeling and dealing that arose to get a money transfer were good but predictable. Befriending the mayor was obvious. Alessandro Nivola (Billy from Jurassic Park III) turns up as Richie’s boss’s boss and is seemingly unconcerned with overspending to catch the mayor. Price was no object. What a rare quality in a big boss.

I just found this film very different in tone to the other hustle programs. Too many characters (wives, sheikhs, sons, mayors). There was no cleverness, no bright spark. What purpose did Jennifer Lawrence’s character actually serve? No, the real reason. Yes she cavorted about in all manner of pretty attire but that’s not really a part. If Irving is supposed to a great swindler then he should be able to get his son off her.

Also the relationship between Irving and Posser was creepy. It was akin to watching your mom and dad get cosy. Ewww! I had to close my eyes at times.

The mayor walks out, the mayor walks back in. Rosalyn (Lawrence) doesn’t want to divorce Irving, then Rosalyn does want to divorce Irving. Richie’s boss (Louis CK) going up the wall, Richie’s boss comes down from the wall.

Even when the plots change such as Richie putting another guy in the role of a Sheikh that Irving used to lure the mayor, does not help. Things move again when a crime overlord appears (Robert DeNiro), and wants the Sheikh to be an American!

And from their Irving thinks things are going mad. Er, thinks going mad? Thinks?! It IS going mad. Far too many subplots and characters drifting in and out, making if very difficult to follow. Irving and Carmine are friends, then Irving and Carmine are NOT friends. This is plain daft. It makes me wonder if any of the production team watched an episode of Hustle? Outstanding plots, clever double crosses. Research is vital and there was little point of launching a film with the word Hustle in it, if you’re going to do something else.

It was an ambitious venture, with many big names to boast – sadly the I found script unmoving. It just wasn’t a hustle movie for me. The cast made this movie. So go see it for them, plus Bradley Cooper’s perm! But there wasn’t any difference for me than any other action movie.

If I was marking this from the script it would’ve been a 4! But I’ve decided my score reflect the acting from the team, as they were very good – 7/10 from me.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from LimboIsland

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Lone_Survivor_posterThe term “War is Hell” could not describe this movie any better.  Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana and  and is the violent, painfully realistic, gut wrenching eyewitness account of an ill fated US Navy SEAL mission to capture a notorious Taliban leader.  The audience is taken on an exasperating ride as four US NAVY SEALS fight for their lives, for their country, and most of all for each other.  Based on the Based on the nonfiction book of the same name, Four SEALs are dropped into the mountains of Afghanistan in 2005 on a singular mission, the men prepare to engage their target but are discovered by goat herders.   An old man and two younger men.   The Seals are faced with a dilemma.  Do they kill the herders and live with the consequences as a casualty of war or consider the mission compromised.   They decide to release the herders, a fateful decision, scrap the mission and call for an evacuation, but communication is almost impossible to establish from their mountainous position. The SEALS move to higher ground and use a Satellite phone to reach base camp further exposing themselves.  Once communication is made the SEAL team hunker down and await pickup but it is not in time.  They are surrounded. They are soon set upon by a large group of Taliban fighters and realize that escape is no longer an option.  The SEALs are in a fight for their lives.  They literally have to fight their way off of the mountain by jumping OFF the mountain.  They men are riddled with bullets as they engage the Taliban in a hell raising firefight.  But they push on and fight their way off the mountain precipices.  Down the mountain they go tumbling, breaking bones on each impact, bullets flying by, Taliban warriors in hot pursuit.  The Seal team is picked off one by one until their is only a lone  survivor, Corpsman Marcus Luttrell (Mark Walhberg) .  Saved by a mortar explosion that has tossed him into a crevice into cover, out of sight and in very bad shape.  When Luttrel awakens he musters the strength to walk his battered and broken body, with a severely broken leg,  out of the mountain pass.  Luttrell pauses to drink from a stream and is discovered by Afghan villagers.  Thinking the end is near,  he is in disbelief as  the villagers offer to help Luttrell.  They take him to their village and send help and administer aid to Luttrel.   But Luttrels ordeal isn’t over just yet.  The Taliban has discovered him in the village.  His  life is in the hands of his Afghan protectors as they fight against the Taliban in one final battle for his life.  Go see Lone Survivor.

Poster courtesy of Wikipedia.com, trailer courtesy of trailer addict

Movie Review: American Hustle


American Hustle, directed by David O. Russell, who also directed last years critically acclaimed “Silver Linings Playbook,” has struck gold again in the director’s chair with another excellent cast of top notch actors. Hustle is a crime drama comedy loosely based on the Federal Bureau of Investigations(FBI) ABSCAM operation. ABSCAM was a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sting operation run from the Bureau’s Hauppauge, Long Island, office in the late 1970s and early ’80s. The FBI, aided by a convicted con-man, videotaped politicians as they were offered bribes by a fictional Middle Eastern sheik in return for various political favors.The investigation ultimately led to the conviction of a United States Senator, six members of the United States House of Representatives, one member of the New Jersey State Senate, members of the Philadelphia City Council, the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, and an inspector for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld. Irving is obsessed with “making a buck.” He gets into the Conman game early as a kid and enters adulthood busting windows of businesses and then offering window repair. Bale loves to get deep inside his characters. So much in this film that he puts on at least 30 pounds of weight and cuts his hair into a balding comb over. Amy Adams plays Sydney Prosser. Sydney is a good looking woman looking to come up in the world. Irving and Sydney meet at a party and become inseparable. Even though Irving is a married man who doesn’t want to leave his crazy wife (Jennifer Lawrence who shines in this role ) for fear of never seeing the adopted son whom he loves. Sydney goes on Irving’s ride so to speak, enhancing Irving’s cons. The ride is good until FBI Agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper) catches Irving and Sydney in a loan scam, but offers to release them if Irving can line up additional arrests. The two con artists are forced to set up a sting on corrupt politicians and the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (Jeremy Renner)by agent Di Maso. They bribe the mayor of Camden (Renner), local politicians and a Senator played by one of my favorite character actors Anthony Zerbe (The Omega Man 1971) into believing a rich Sheikh would like to invest in casinos in Atlantic City, NJ (Atlantic City, NJ is a major Casino hub on the East Coast of the United States today). As the con grows the Mafia becomes involved as a necessary part of business. Carmine (Renner) brings the Sheikh to a casino party. Irving is surprised to see that the violent Mobster leader Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), second-in-command to the infamous Meyer Lansky, is present. One of the most outrageous scenes in the movie unfolds when Irving sees Tellegio at the party. Irving wants no part of meeting with Tellegio. He stays standing on the other side of the room with Carmine, Sydney and the Sheikh. Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who is already upset that Irving has brought his mistress asks, “Why are afraid of those guys?” (The MOB!) ”They don’t look scary to me.” And struts over to the meanest guys in the room and strikes conversation. She later starts an affair with one of the mobsters and almost gets Irving killed.. Wanting no part of the Mob Irving hatches a con where he hides millions in bribe money from the FBI and says an anonymous source will return the money in exchange for immunity for Irving and Sydney; and to keep them away from the mob. Agent Di Maso’s superiors accept the offer which dashes all Di Maso’s plans to become a famous FBI agent. In the end the mob lets Irving live out his life. Irving and Sydney open a legitimate Art business together and Rosalyn and Irving, divorced, share custody of their son.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org, Trailer courtesy of youtube.com

Film Review: Mandela – Long Walk To Freedom

Mandela Long Walk To Freedom“Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” had a lot of expectation surrounded it because of its subject. That was before the untimely death of Nelson Mandela and the world started mourning the passing of one of history’s greatest heroes. And yet, despite the opportunity before the filmmakers to try and find the real Mandela, they opt to go down a more sympathetic route and create a rather conventional biopic.

Anyone who is aware of Mandela’s life will know that some parts, particularly in his younger years, are less than desirable. When he first became leader of the ANC, he instigated bombings on public buildings and riots in the streets. He claimed not to be a violent man while carrying a gun. He neglected his first wife and committed adultery. While these events are addressed, they pass by quickly and without question. At no point does anyone go up to him and suggest that his course of action is wrong. It is a missed opportunity that this film didn’t take the time to examine this part of his life a little more, considering his transformation from armed protester to messenger of peace is the most interesting aspect of his life.

When it comes to a central role like this, the only actor you can really think of who can provide the right amount of gravitas is someone like Idris Elba. His tall and strong build makes him stand out from the people around him. When he joins in a boycott of the bus services started by his friend, he literally towers over the rest of the protesters. You fully believe that Elba can enter and have the full attention of the room without even saying a word.

Elba does a superb job charting the different stages of his life. When he’s young, passionate and womanising, he comes across smooth and oozing confidence. When starts leading the ANC down a more violent route, you can see the pain that he’s feeling. Every bomb plays on his conscience, but he knows it’s the only way he and his people can get attention. When he’s in prison, he becomes a mournful man who struggles to deal with the fact that the lives of his loved ones are continuing while he has to spend the rest of his life on pause. He rallies his friends together to try and get their prison guards to respect them. Even when facing life imprisonment he continues to fight. Then finally, we see the elderly statesman trying to bring the violence to an end so then all South Africans can live in peace. Because of his screen presence, Elba looks somewhat presidential all the way throughout.

Because of Elba being so enigmatic as the leading man, it’s easy to forget about the wonderful performance put in by Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela. When we first meet her, she is a gentle and supporting woman trying to help her boyfriend and then husband in any way she can. When Mandela is sent to prison, Winnie realises that the fight for freedom must go on and she takes over the reigns as his successor. Throughout Mandela’s time in prison, she continues to fight, using violence whenever it is necessary. When Mandela is released and wants to negotiate some form of peace, it’s understandable that Winnie disagrees with him. She’s been fighting with her bare hands for years only for her more highly regarded husband to tell her his initial plan of action was wrong.

Winnie can’t quite understand where this sudden change of philosophy has come from, and the problem is neither can the audience. The film aches with the pain of trying to make Mandela’s transformation seem natural while still ticking off the milestones, but it isn’t able to do that. It is genuinely hard to grasp his transition when he becomes an instigator of peace.

The final scene however is very affecting. The sense of achievement during this moment is a little overwhelming. There’s no denying that Mandela lived an amazing life that should be celebrated, and that is why this film aims to do nothing more than pay homage to the man in good faith. You can’t shake the feeling though that someone like Mandela deserves a little more examination. It was a long walk to freedom for Madiba. Unfortunately in this case, the walk may be too long.

Image reproduced from imdb.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / MOVIECLIPS Trailers

Film Review: The Batchelorette

The Bachelorette
The Batchelorette is a movie about a hen party essentially. Two of my favourite people were listed Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman 1-3) and James Marsden (X Men – Superman Returns) so I wanted to see it. It has been compared against another movie called Bridesmaids. As I haven’t seen that one I can’t say. I can say this offering was a let down.

This movie never really took off for me. It was very crude and unpolished. The motley gang were very shallow, high on drugs and very immoral. It was hard to view them as a gang I would cheer for.

Becky (Rebel Wilson) is getting married. Regan (Dunst) isn’t happy as she wanted to be married first. But she’ll still be matron of honour/chief bridesmaid etc. At the engagement dinner some cousins do an awkward dance routine and the speeches are ruined when Gena (Lizzy Caplan) reveals Becky is bulimic.

Gena also loves her ex, but acts likes she hates him. This is highlighted when she sees him with a younger girl. Of course there’s the inevitable mishap when the three main girls Regan, Gena and Katie (Isla Fisher) play with the wedding dress. You get three guesses whether or not something happens… Of course something happens! This becomes the focus of the movie from then on.

The trouble is you can see the gags a mile off. Three drunk and high on drug girls playing with a special dress? Nothing’s going to happen? I don’t think so.

Also the constant swearing and general rudeness they display to each other does nothing to endear them. One of the scenes was Katie not remembering a guy from high school? Also Katie announces during the speeches someone has stolen her phone. She’s a hard core party girl high and drunk. So it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her when she gets into trouble and passes out.

The immoral behaviour as they start sleeping around with each other was confusing and the movie became split as a result. Even the men were disgraceful. Trevor Graham (Marsden) was like Tony DiNozzo from NCIS’s worse cousin!

Gena’s ex Clyde (Adam Scott) is in love with her – but why? Really? Gena’s a total mess! He’d have been better dating Becky’s mother! I did not like Gena (Lizzy Caplan) at all!

What was the director trying to achieve? It’s not enough to have a string of random incidents with a swear word every minute. That’s not humour. That’s the easy road.

Stealing someone’s wallet, then a phone. Smacking people. If I got treated that way I would not hang around, that’s for sure. Yet these people just came back for more!

I do think they are the prefect advert for what happens if you party hard everyday. Sort like a New Year’s movie you can use to improve your life.

I am disappointed by the direction, this could’ve been funny and a joy to watch. But sadly I just couldn’t like any of them. No, not a single character!

1/10 from me because of this. I usually like at least somebody! But if I saw any of these people in a bar – I’d head straight out!

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from Movie Trailers

Film Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug is the second instalment of the trilogy. It starts with Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellin) meeting Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in The Prancing Pony pub in Bree. They require a burglar which leads them to Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman).

Fast forward 12 months, and they are on the run from the Orcs who have been chasing them from the first film. They find a house but the owner is a shape shifting bear! When he’s a man you have a chance of talking to him, but as Gandalf said; ‘the bear is unpredictable.’ Telling me!

The group win the man over and he gives them ponies to speed them on their way. But they have to let them go in order to go through Mirkwood. Gandalf leaves the group when he begins to suspect the evil spirit called ‘The Necromancer’ might be something even deadlier.

A big fight with spiders living in the wood makes Bilbo loose his ring. The one ring that he got from Gollum, that can make the wearer invisible but its evil consumes you. However it’s slower on Hobbits. Bilbo’s struggle is nicely captured as he fights the ring but cannot bear to part with it at the same time.

Elves appear, enter Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) . They battle the spiders. Kili (Aidan Turner) the dwarf fancies Tauriel. But the Elves capture the Dwarves, as Dwarves and Elves are enemies. It’s up to Bilbo to rescue them from prison and soon they are fighting for survival on a raging river!

The Orcs have made an alliance with the Necromancer. This can only spell doom for our band of heroes.

From the CGI, and you do get to see Smuag the dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), to the character driven plots. This film has everything. Gandalf and some of the dwarves bring humour. There’s plenty of action, the raging river scene is one of the best.
There’s also a hint of romance between Kili and Tauriel.

There’s an epic battle between Gandalf and the Necromancer which is just eye popping. There is a deadly secret that Gandalf uncovers but will he live to tell the tale?

Sir Ian McKellen is superb as Gandalf. I absolutely love him. I prefer his Gandalf to Harry Potter’s Dumbledore.

I did not notice the time and this is like all the other Lord of the Rings films near three hours long. But the time is justified. I feel things aren’t left out due to time constraints. And it makes the film so much better for it. A polished affair with Peter Jackson still ruling as director.

As a prequel, you get to see how things lead up to Lord of the Rings. Everything is covered and it enhances the whole movie. A well deserved 10/10 from me. I can’t wait for part three!
Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from StreamingTrailer.

Film Review: Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway
Dom Hemingway stars Jude Law and is surprisingly better than it looks. There’s not many films that rely on a central role, it usually happens mostly in superhero films. But Jude Law is charismatic enough to keep the interest.

He plays the title character, Dom is a man incarcerated for keeping quiet. Now released he wants to collect what he thinks he’s owed. Jude pulls out all the stops to portray a brutal but charming rogue. Some actors are really lucky to do any role, some actors have the talent to carry a poor script – Jude Law has both.

The plot is very loose, it’s just a run of events. Showing how the character deals with things and using whatever he can to achieve a result. Now normally with no actual ‘real’ plot most films would flounder within ten minutes. Despite the lack of a particular single goal – this ticks along nicely. I was drawn into Dom’s struggle and dilemmas. I wasn’t noticing the time or who else was in the cinema.

Richard E Grant stars as his sidekick, trying to keep order and failing miserably! The swearing was excessive but it’s a movie about gangsters and violence – they aren’t going to Granny Mae’s tea party – so bear that in mind.

Dom is a very angry fellow after being locked away for twelve years so he’s not going to say , “Dear old chap, I do declare my feelings of hostility towards you are most founded!”

With his wife dead and daughter leaving him, he’s boiling and ready to unleash on anyone who gets in his way!

I have developed a respect for this actor, he did such a good job with an average script. Perhaps with a deeper dialogue and exploration of relationships might’ve made this a better movie, certainly more of a classic, than gung-ho.

Still it did the job and I’m awarding 7/10 for this. It’s a vehicle for Jude Law. Those who don’t like him might have trouble though.

Image reproduced from richard-e-grant.com
Trailer reproduced from joblomovienetwork.

Film Review: Seduced and Abandoned

Seduced and Abandoned 2013
Seduced and Abandoned is a different kind of film. The stars are playing themselves whist they try and secure investors for their film.

Alec Baldwin and Ryan Gosling feature. It was very interesting to see how money is raised and ideas sold. Although it is not movie magic, it was watchable. There was a large element of slapdash-ness with very little structure. I think where it struggled was the incompleteness of it.

Having big names isn’t enough. The chats of some of the actors were not enough to warrant them being included in a film. I would be inclined put them as an extra with DVD when it comes out. When Harry Met Sally did this sort of thing, they had the right mix of people with interesting stories. That warranted screen time, the ones with this film were not as fascinating.

I was very shocked by the amount of hustling that seemed to be going on. There hardly seemed to any movie making going on. It was all marketing, chats and deals. More like the world of politics. Although the amount of times this was emphasised was unnecessary. If this is really what goes on every time a film is proposed – I can only assume that’s why some dreadful entrants get made!

The amount of money needed was a lot, but then most films these days will cost a lot. Sign of the times, that movie goers want to be wowed, they won’t settle for cheap tricks or salt shakers being used as sci-fi scanning devices! It was sad that if they can’t get the backing, the films don’t get made. It made me wonder what great films were devised but never saw the light of day because no one would pay for it.

A lot of the film’s good points are down to the chemistry between Baldwin and James Toback trying to secure the funds for their vision. I won’t say what! But these two had a good banter and charm to make me want to see how it went and turned out.

Plus the whole idea is refreshing; a movie about movie making! It makes a change of the usual action/monster film assaulting our cinemas. I just think a lot of people will struggle to stay with the film all the way through. The best films have a great plot, from start to finish – like Lord of the Rings.

I will award 6/10 as there was many good bits but just more cohesion and action needed and less narrating.

Image reproduced from impawards.com
Trailer reproduced from Soda Pictures.

Film Review: Thor – Dark World

Thor - Dark World
Thor – Dark World is the next Marvel sequel to be made and what an adventure it is! There’s many a familiar face with the return of Thor, Jane, Loki (yes him again!), Odin, Frigga and Dr Eric Selvig to name but a few. New characters are to be found with the new enemies.

Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) has another battle on his hands, a foe thought destroyed a long time ago, has survived – escaping destruction by suspended animation. Now he’s been awoken and wants to destroy the universe.

For the eighth film in the Avengers series, the continuing story is surprisingly fresh and gripping. Thor’s human love interest Dr Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has something called the Aether placed inside her. To protect her Thor brings her to Asgard. Now his father goes up the wall. A human in Asgard???

But dark forces gather to get her and this makes Thor consider help from his half brother Loki. Whose on trial for starting a war on Earth (Avengers Assemble movie 2012). Also getting a bigger role is the gate keeper Heimdall, who guards the bridge and those leaving/arriving to Asgard.

The visual effects are splendid and there’s plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. The chemistry not only between Hemsworth and Portman, but the entire cast resonates. Making you believe in the complicated relationships and why Thor would even think about asking Loki, let alone actually do it! That’s why it’s believable.

The script is dazzling as the CGI. Asgard is a picturesque city to live in. Jane is the one not sure how to act, being in Asgard. This was clever, as in the first Thor had to learn human ways.

My only concern with this franchise is how will they keep the interest going? The next Avengers Assemble is out in 2015, I believe. It will be very interesting in how we’ll still be looking forward to Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Capt. America in a couple of years time.

But for now, myself included, they revel in glory. It was a splendid ride. So this is why I’m awarding 9/10. Just one off as I don’t like Loki. (He’s no JR Ewing.)

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from Marvel Entertainment.

Film Review: Baggage Claim

Baggage Claim
Baggage Claim is the latest ‘rom-com’ to be made. So what makes this different to all the others? I’m afraid it’ll be answers on a postcard!

There was nothing I could see. All the stars were cute, the situations amusing, the plot lightweight, more like a cosy night in front of the fire, than gripping the edge of your seat drama.

I’ve seen Adam Brody before on The OC. The others I most probably have but it was just like the plot, I had seen it all before.

Maybe if the plot had been more adventurous, the ‘funny’ situations just slightly more original – this could have been a really funny feel good film. Paula Pratton plays a flight attendant who gives herself just 30 days to find Mr. Right, so she has someone before her youngest sister gets married.

Centring the action on the plane and rack up countless miles was a mistake in my opinion, there isn’t anything to do other than they stay sitting, run into the toilet or do stupid things. Only the most extreme would actually exit the plane!

It was rare for me to actually want a disaster to happen like in Airport ’77 – but that might have given the film some action. That’s what really astounded me was the lack of effort by the director to make any change to this formula.

Maybe they had a small budget or just wanted to play it safe? It was a pity, as the cast seemed to gel but so did The Walton’s. I don’t want to pay over £7-8 to just feel okay. I want some ‘bang for my bucks’!

I do feel with most of this year’s directors are not open to trying new angles or stuff. Perhaps they fear they won’t get a another shot at the big chair?

But as Captain Kirk once said, “Risk is part of the game, if you want to sit in the (captain’s) chair.” By doing this film, the director may get another chance – but whose going to remember this film in say five years time?

At least the main actress Paula Pratton shows promise and as a launching pad, she could do a lot worse. I hope her next film is a much better choice.

I’ll give 5/10 for this film. It wasn’t bad, but following a formula to the letter is never wise. Come on director, risk a bit of personality on your next venture!

Image reproduced from wikipedia.co.uk
Trailer reproduced from Film Is Now – Hollywood.

Film Review: Closed Circuit

Closed Circuit
Closed Circuit looked very good. It’s mostly centred around two solicitors, but it’s a very complicated affair and because of this I did struggle with it a lot.

Eric Bana (Hulk) seems to pick the wrong types of film to do. This is no different. Bana plays Martin Rose, one of the solicitors, who get embroiled in a MI5 plot. What could have a gripping courtroom drama turned out to be a long protracted day at the office. Or getting stuck in a queue at an airport when your flight’s been delayed because of the weather! Grrr!

Even an explosion didn‘t move me. That’s never a good sign. Splitting the trial into two parts was unnecessary and didn’t move the plot along. It needed some zing, not a further complication.

The American journalist seemed to be something that was thought of halfway through filming. Joanna Reace (Julia Styles) tags along to get a story, but Martin plays her to get what he wants. Martin giving her enough to keep her interested.

Jim Broadbent plays the Attorney General but even he was unable to save this dreary movie. It had nothing special to offer, it was exciting as watching paint dry.

It was pity that when one of the characters was targeted for assassination, the killer didn’t go behind the camera – and prevent this drudge from being made. The script was as unappealing as could be, no snazzy dialogue or wit. Nothing worked. I would love to know how this got the budget to be made. Did the director tell a few porkies over dinner with the studio bosses.
“Sure this’ll work. We got an actor who played the Hulk! Sorted!”
The bloodsucking lawyer, “We’re going to make a fortune with this film.”

The plots involving MI5 were just getting dafter. Was there a writers strike? Did the tea person have to step up to prevent a day’s lost filming? And then got sick the next day so somebody else got drafted in? Rather like that game of Chinese whispers, it gets changed person to person.

It lacked cohesion, something to keep it on an even keel and give a weight of solidity. The family of the defendant being silent. Secret agents in all sorts of places. Information being blocked, information given away… oh, please give me a break! I’ve seen more covert behaviour from the Teletubbies!

A 2/10 from me for this film. I wish myself better luck on the next film! I do sometimes despair of the cinematic world.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.co.uk
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / IGN