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Archive for April, 2010

Last year before anything was really know about the forthcoming Avengers movie I posted this blog.  As I mentioned at the time there seems to be a real lack of female involvement, things haven’t really improved but one thing we do now no is that Joss Whedon is onboard as director. Whedon is the man who gave us Buffy, River Tam and Echo as well as writing Alien: Resurrection so hopefully we will see a few female avengers. With that in mind I thought I would take a look at some possibilities.

Although not going as real-world as Batman the characters for the Avengers movies do appear to be human unlike the mutants of X-Men. Along with Nick Fury we also have: Iron Man; Captain America and The Hulk. Even the genetically enhanced characters started out human so I have stuck to similar characters. As mentioned in last years article I have not read any Avengers so have looked the information up on this characters online. I hope it is correct.

Suggested female Avengers

Tigra aka Greer Grant is a perfect fit alongside the other genetically (or mechanically) improved humans. She has retractable catlike claws, superhuman strength, speed, senses and agility following “human potential experiments” whatever that means. She appears in the comic books with tiger striped skin, I suggest this will be toned down if she were to be used in the movie and a tail that would most probably not appear. Possible casting: Michelle Rodriguez.

Barbara “Bobbi” Morse has no special powers or abilities but is an elite trained athlete and gymnast and expert in various armed and unarmed combats. She could appear as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Agent 19 or one of her other identities Huntress or Mockingbird.  Possible casting: Olivia Wilde:

She-Hulk aka Jennifer Susan Walters: Received a life saving blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner after been shot and wounded by gangsters. She is described as having similar powers to those of The Hulk but at a reduced level her appearance is also less extreme looking more like a Amazon (except green) than a Hulk type giant monster. After gaining control of her transformations she decided to stay in the She-Hulk form permanently. Unlike to make an appearance but you never know, a pre transfusion Jennifer would be a good cameo as it would leave the door open for future. Possible casting: Rachel Nichols (its not like we haven’t seen her green before!)

Black Widow aka Natalia Romanova. We will know more about the film incarnation of her after the release of Iron Man II next week. Played in the movie by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man II there as yet no mention of her in The Avengers. Will she survive Iron Man?

Madame Masque aka Giulietta Nefaria aka Whitney Frost: Not a team member but a good enemy of supporting character. Described as an occasional love interest of Tony Stark and often enemy of his alter ego Iron Man. She was the daughter of the master criminal but raised by a wealthy financier. As a young adult she debutante and socialite and engaged to a politician. The relationship ended when her true identity was revealed. As with most of the selections she has no superhuman powers but is athletic and well trained in martial arts hand-to-hand combatant and is an expert markswoman. She also wears body armour of an unknown composition or origin that includes gold metal faceplate that hard enough to deflect bullets. Beneath the plate she is scarred from injuries sustained in a plane crash. She has also been known to command dreadnought robots. Best of all for a movie adaptation she is mentally unstable and possibly criminally insane. To work in the movies the filmmakers would probably want to show her face so that means toning down the scarring. Possible casting: Monica Bellucci she is supposed to be Italian after all.

Elektra aka Elektra Natchios: Despite the success of Daredevil the chances of bringing back Elektra probably aren’t that great given the failure of her own movie. With an affiliation to S.H.I.E.L.D. the comic book fans should be happy with her inclusion and for movie fans it is one more familiar character so introductions shouldn’t be a problem. Jennifer Garner seems to be descending into rom-com oblivion so a recast may be in order. Possible Casting I would stick with Jennifer Garner, at 38 she is still young enough to kick some ass!

The casting of Chris Evans as Captain America suggests their won’t be any Fantastic Four crossover. So not much chance of Susan Storm aka The Invisible Woman.  So no Jessica Alba, but lets be honest The Fantastic 4 is pretty crap and the in competition with The Punisher for the wooden spoon award for weakest recent Marvel franchise.

 Any other suggestions?

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If there is one director who has never let me down it is Martin Scorsese… Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. The two directors who have never let me down are Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino…. and Christopher Nolan. Three directors who have never let me down are Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan…and Kathryn Bigelow. Amongst the directors who have never let me down are Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and Kathryn Bigelow. (apologies to Monty Python). Joking aside none of these filmmakers has made a bad movie, even their lesser attempts that don’t come off (like K19 The Widowmaker or New York, New York) are still worth seeing. But these are A list directors, three of then have won Oscars (two for directing) and the other one would have if the academy members had any balls (that’s a story for another day); but there is another director out there who has never let me down. He isn’t a list, he doesn’t get big budgets to work with, he will probably never win an Oscar and he doesn’t make films, he makes movies. Whist a supremely talented director Tarantino makes homage’s, pastiches or just plain copies of exploitation and genre movies, Neil Marshall really makes those movies.

His first movie Dog Soldiers (2002) was a low budget Werewolf movie, an action horror comedy that isn’t afraid to borrow from other movies such as Aliens and The Evil Dead. Next came Marshalls best movie, The Descent (2005), made for around $3.5million it grossed nearly $60million, it came out around the same time as the similarly themed The Cave that cost around $30 million and only just made its money back. The Descent is about a group of woman go on a caving expedition (for fun! are they mad?) and become trapped underground with a some strange humanoid creatures who want to eat them. Then Came Doomsday, a near future Sci-Fi movie set in Scotland after it has been quarantined from the rest of the UK following a deadly virus. The inhabitants are understandably pissed off and live in a world that is something of a cross between Escape from New York, the second two Mad Max movies and the middle-ages. Doomsday was a mess of a film, but it was a really good fun mess! So what does a director like that do next?

Review: Centurion:

Centurion is the story of the legendary Ninth Legion who may or may not have disappeared around AD 117. The Ninth has been the subject of many other movies and books, most recently The Last Legion starring Colin Firth and Aishwarya Rai, and will also be the basis for The Eagle of the Ninth due out later this year directed by Kevin Macdonald, starring Channing Tatum and Mark Strong. In centurion, the ninth are sent north to Scotland to kill the leader of the Picts and wipe out the tribe, they get more than they bargained for! After walking into a trap most of the legion is wiped-out; a small group of survivors lead by Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) have to find their way south to safety all the time perused by a bloodthirsty group of Picts led by a skilled tracker.

Interestingly the story isn’t really about the Ninth, it’s a behind enemy lines chase movie that could have been set during any conflict. There is a wonderful ambiguity to the two sides, although the story is clearly told from the Roman point of view it is not clear who are the protagonists and who the antagonists are. Depending on your point of view there are heroes on both sides or there are no heroes on either side. There are certainly villains on both sides. The Romans are an invading army and the Picts are a repelling force of natives. When discussing it on the Mark Kermode, Simon Mayo radio show Neil Marshal didn’t appear to want to be drawn into comparisons between the events of the movie and current world conflicts, the most he would say was “The Parallels are there”. Like with most war there are no winners and losers unless you count the winner as the side that lose the least, even they suffer unimaginable losses.

The supporting cast is filled with recognisable faces mainly from British TV and independent cinema, the main star is Michael Fassbender who following two great performances last year (Inglourious Basterds and Fish Tank) is the real rising star of the moment. Strangely the best performance comes from former Bond-Girl Olga Kurylenko whose mute performance as a warrior and tracker with hawk like instincts and senses is visceral and contains more emotion and nuance than Quantum of Solace, Max Payne and Hitman combined.

The movie is well paced and never gets boring with some great set pieces including what appears to be a homage to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (speaking of homage’s Marshal uses the same Evil Dead references he has used before, it is becoming something of a trademark for him) as well as some bloody, brutal and violent fight and battle scenes. The photography is excellent, both the gratuitous use of helicopter shots of the Scottish Highlands and the up close and personal fight scenes. The movie as a whole has its problems mainly surrounding its predictability and clichéd plot but it does deliver everything you expect it to. Not a great film but a really enjoyable movie.

Three Stars out of Five

 

 

So whats next for Neil Marshall?  Aaccording to an interview on BBC radio 5 last week a he is working on a film based on the 70’s TV show The Professionals. It has not been cast yet but he expressed a with to work with Michael Fassbender again suggesting he would be perfect as Doyle. He is also working on a movie featuring exploding people in 3D produced by Sam Raimi and called Burst 3D. Possibly the first movie since the renaissance of 3D that could make good use of the gimmick.

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The Joneses

I try not to give plot spoilers in my reviews, as is often the case the basic plot is given away in the trailer so I will try and limit my spoilers to them.  On the surface The Joneses are a perfect family, Kate (Demi Moore) her husband Steve (David Duchovny) their kids Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) and Jenn (Amber Heard).  They move to a new town and with the trendiest cloths, the flashest cars all the latest gadgets they soon become a hit with their new friends. It soon becomes clear that things aren’t right with this family, for a start they aren’t a family. Like the product placements we are now all familiar with in movies and TV shows these people have been sent into the centre of a community to help sell products.  They do not directly sell the product they merely make people want them much like any other marketing.  They are selling themselves, their lifestyle, their perfect image. Like all advertising its goal is to keep the consumer wheels turning by making us think our likes will be better and happier if we buy shit we don’t need and actually don’t really want.  The consumers are represented by the neighbours Larry (Gary Cole) and his wife Summer (Glenne Headly) who of course (how hard have I tried to avoid saying this) are desperate to keep up with the Joneses.

Beyond her looks I have never seen the appeal of Demi Moore, like her character what will she have left when her looks have gone? David Duchovny is a charismatic and likeable leading man but for a long time his charisma has hidden the fact he can not act! Ben Hollingsworth and particularly Amber Heard do a good job playing the kids.  They are too old for the part but as it is customary for high school kids to be played by actors in their mid twenties it isn’t exactly clear how old they are supposed to be.

The script and direction are sloppy, the movie can’t decide if it wants who be light and fluffy or sharp and cutting.  Threads of the plot are opened up but never really explored leaving only Steve and Kates relationship as the only real ongoing thread, this begs the question why bother, if the filmmakers wanted to make a romantic drama or comedy why didn’t they do that instead of messing around with a pseudo satire.  It really isn’t a bad movie there isn’t a huge amount drastically wrong with it, there just isn’t anything really right with it and it just feels like there is something missing. The biggest problem everything the movie is trying to tell us has already been done countless times for example I give you Mr Tyler Durden: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need

Two Stars out of Five

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When describing Desert Island DVD’s I suggested you imagine you were stuck on a desert island with just eight movies to watch. Now in an Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 type of thing imagine we are all on the same island and have agreed to pool our entertainment, a sort of Desert Island DVD Rentals. If my calculations are correct 41  42 bloggers selected 231 237 Movies or TV Shows (thanks to Darren from the mOvie blog for collating the movie list and sorry to Common Sense Movie Reviews who was originally missed off).  Here are the movies:

  • (500) Days of Summer
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • 28 Days Later
  • 9 Songs

 

  • The Abyss
  • Adaptation
  • Alice in Wonderland (animated verstion)
  • Aliens
  • Almost Famous
  • Amelie
  • American Beauty
  • Anchorman
  • Animal Factory
  • The Apartment
  • Apocolypse Now
  • Arrested Development (TV Show)
  • As Good as it Gets
  • The Aviator

 

  • Back to the Future
  • Bad Boys
  • Basket Case
  • Batman Begins
  • North & South (TV show)
  • Be Kind Rewind
  • Beaches
  • Beauty & The Beast
  • Before Sunrise
  • The Big Lebouski
  • Big Trouble in Little China
  • Billy Elliot
  • Billy Madison
  • Black Rain
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Bogy of Lies
  • Boogie Nights
  • The Bourne Identity
  • The Bourne Supremacy
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Braveheart
  • Brazil
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Breakfast on Pluto
  • Bride & Prejudice
  • Brokeback Mountin
  • The Brothers Bloom

 

  • Cannibal: The Musical!
  • Casablanca
  • Casion Royale
  • Castaway
  • Chuck Season 2 (TV Show)
  • Cinderella Man
  • Clerks
  • Cloverfield
  • Clue
  • Clueless
  • Con Air
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • The Count of Monty Cristo

 

  • The Dark Knight
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Dear Frankie
  • Deep Rising
  • The Departed
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Die hard
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Donnie Darko
  • Double Indemnity
  • Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

 

  • Easy Virtue
  • Elizabethtown
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness

 

  • Fanny & Alexander
  • Farther of the Bride
  • Ferris Buellers Day Off
  • Field of Dreams
  • The Fifth Element
  • Fight Club
  • Finding Nemo
  • Finding Neverland
  • Freestyle
  • From Here to Eternity
  • Fuber

 

  • Gamers: Dorkness Rising
  • Gattaca
  • Ghost Busters
  • Gladiator
  • The Godfarther
  • Godzilla (crappy American remake)
  • Goodfellas
  • The Good The Bad & The Ugly
  • A Good Year
  • The Goonies
  • The Great Dictator
  • The Green Mile
  • Gross Point Blank
  • Groundhog Day

 

  • Halloween
  • The Hangover
  • Happiness
  • Harry Potter & The Order of the Pheonix
  • Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone
  • Heat
  • Heavens Gate
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • High Fidelity
  • The Hunchback if NotreDame

 

  • Idiocracy
  • I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay
  • Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
  • Indiana Jone & the Temple of Doom
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Inside Nab
  • The Island
  • It’s a Wonderful Life

 

  • Joe v’s The Vocano
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Jurassic Park

 

  • The Karate Kid: Part II
  • Kill Bill: vol. 1
  • The Kingdom of Heaven – Directors Cut
  • King Kong (original version)
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • A Knights’ Tale

 

  • LA Confidential
  • La Dolce Vita
  • Labyrinth
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Lilo and Stich
  • The Lion King
  • The Lives of Others
  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Lost in Translation
  • The Lost Weekend
  • Love Actually
  • Love Me if You Dare

 

  • Magnolia
  • The Major & the Minor
  • Mallrats
  • The Matrix
  • Memento
  • Metalica: Some Kind of Monster
  • Midnight Run
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • NirrorMask
  • Monsers Inc.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Moulin Rouge!
  • Mulan
  • Mullholland Dr.
  • The Murderers are Among Us
  • Mystic River
  • The Myth of Fingerprints

 

  • The New World
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • North by Northwest

 

  • Office Space
  • Oldboy
  • On the Waterfront
  • Once
  • Once Upon a Time in China 2
  • Once Upon a Time in the West

 

  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Pete’s Dragon
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Planet Terror
  • Pretty Woman
  • Primer
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Proposal
  • Pulp Fiction

 

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Re-Animator
  • The Red Shoes
  • Rent (recoding of live Broadway show)
  • Richard Pryor: Live at the Sunset Strip
  • Ringu
  • Risky Business
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Roman Holiday
  • Romeo + Juliet
  • Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion
  • The Room
  • The Rules of Attraction

 

  • Sabrina (0riginal Billy Wilder)
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Se7en
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Serenity
  • Seven Samurai
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Shock Treatment
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Slither
  • Some Like it Hot
  • The Sound of Music
  • Southland Tales
  • Spaceballs
  • Spirited Away
  • Stalig 17
  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  • The Station Agent
  • Sunset Boulevard

 

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • The Thin Man
  • The Thin Red Line
  • Thunderball
  • Tommy Boy
  • Top Hat
  • Toy Story
  • Traffic
  • Transformers
  • Tremors
  • Troy
  • The Truman Show
  • Two-Lane Blacktop

 

  • Under Siege
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
  • Unfaithful
  • Up 
  • The Vampire Lovers
  • The Warriors
  • Wedding Crashers
  • The Wire (TV Show)
  • Without Limits

 

  • The X-Files (TV Show)
  • X-Men II 
  • Yes Man 
  • Zeroes (Not currently available on DVD, awaiting distribution deal!)

What would you like to rent?

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Repo Men

Not to be confused with the superior Repo! The Genetic Opera or the classic Repo Man.  Jude Law has been nominated for two Oscars and is back on or near the A list following his performance as Watson in Sherlock Holmes.  Forest Whitaker is an Oscar winner.  Alice Braga is a great actress who was in City of God (2002), the number three movie in my top ten of the previous decade.  Liev Schreiber is one of the best and under appreciated actors around at the moment and was the only good thing about last years X Men Origins: Wolverine.  This leads to the question: What are they doing in this shit movie?  Whatever there reasoning the original intended star Leonardo DiCaprio had a luck escape.

Not unlike Repo! The Genetic Opera the movie is set in a near future where man made replacement organs are available, however if you fail to make the payments a repo man will come and cut them from your body and return them to manufacturer. Most of the plot is given away in the trailer Remi (Jude Law) is a repo man until something goes wrong on a job and he is given a life saving replacement heart. After receiving it he finds himself reluctant to do his job and falls behind with his payments. The movie then turns into a minority report style movie of our hero on the run, I really expected someone to say everybody runs and was kind of disappointed when they didn’t.  The one good scene to look out for is when the two repo men are watching the live organ transplant scene from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, at least they had a scene of humour about what they were making.

There is some reasonable action and the acting is okay but all is let down by a terrible script with rubbish dialogue.  There is a really silly scene that attempts to sexualise blood and gore that just doesn’t work.  They may have gotten away with it if it had been sexy but the result was just laughable. It appears at the time to be totally gratuitous but looking back from the end of the movie when put into context it makes scenes, it doesn’t make it any good though.  Speaking of ill-conceived scenes there is a really poor attempt to emulate the hallway scene from Oldboy, it really doesn’t work.  The other problem is that there is nothing original or particularly surprising about the movie.  There is a reveal to an earlier key scene that is absolutely no surprise and there is a twist at the end that left me feeling somewhat cheated.  The other problem is that the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be.  Where it could have been an action packed and visceral B movie the filmmakers had grander ideas.  There are elements that make me think they intended the movie to be a cutting satire on consumerism and the state of healthcare in America that is then confused by an existential plotline.  The result of this is that it diminishes the movie as a whole.

Ultimately a good premise and some great actors are wasted in mess of a movie.

One Star out of Five

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Review: Cemetery Junction

Elton John’s Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting Is played overt the opening titles of Cemetery Junction, the same song was used at the same point of Fandango twenty-five years earlier. This is most likely a coincidence rather than homage but an interesting coincidence because Cemetery Junction is actually firmly a part of the same sub genre of movies as fandango. This is most unlike a British movie, this is an American movie with an English setting.

Set in 1970’s Reading three young friends have grown up together. Now in their early twenties (I assume from the age of the actors) they spend their evenings drinking and getting into trouble in the towns local pubs and clubs. Things start to change when Freddie (Christian Cooke) starts a new job selling insurance door-to-door whilst Bruce (Tom Hughes) works in the same factory as Freddie’s dad (Ricky Gervais) but has dreams of breaking away and Snork (Jack Doolan) is just Snock, socially awkward and completely lacking ambition. Freddie aspires to be like his yuppie (although the term hadn‘t been coined at the time) mentor Mike (Matthew Goode) and his boss (Ralph Fiennes) but things don’t start well when he shows little aptitude for his new job. Then he meats his childhood sweetheart, Julie (Felicity Jones) who he hasn’t seen for ten years, the only problem she is Mike’s fiancée and the bosses daughter.

Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant the first thing I have to make clear this isn’t a comedy, although it has some great comic moments it is very much a coming of age drama. As I alluded to above the movie owes far more to American classics like Diner, American Graffiti and Fandango than to anything British. The movie shares themes with all three movies mentioned above relating to the transition from teenage years to adulthood and the effect it has on friendships and relationships as people find their own direction in life. And like those movies it is set in a previous generation, a generation the filmmakers know or even grew up in.

The film takes the odd wrong turn, mainly with regard to storylines that are built up then forgotten but it also has some really good things too. The 70’s setting to the movie is essential to the movie and it does play on stereotypes of the era mainly for comic effect but to its credit it doesn’t dwell to much on the setting making it totally immersive. For all the young talent on display, and they are pretty good but the really scene stealing performances come from Ralph Fiennes and Emily Watson as his downtrodden wife. Ricky Gervais’ character doesn’t really work, loosely based o his own farther he would offer great comic relief in a more dower story but this movie doesn’t need it, he is also always Ricky Gervais/David Brent breaking the momentum of the movie. The music is also a high point of the movie, not going over the top with too many songs just a well thought out selection, the biggest musical moment is probably All the Young Dudes, they even go for the David Bowie version not the more famous Mott the Hoople one. Incredibly (and rarely) we even get Zeplin with Rain Song used at the end and the Slade moment is just brilliant.

But how does it work as a whole? I have never been able to make my mind up about Ricky Gervais. The office (UK version) was a brilliant masterpiece that he has never surpassed and while Extras had its moments it fell flat more than often than it hit the heights. As a stand up comedian he is very average and not always funny and what little I have seen of him in movies has been crap at best. But I am pleased to report that I really enjoyed Cemetery Junction and will be really interested to see how it id received in America where films like this have a greater pedigree. And why the Bruce Springsteen lyrics? Whist I’m not beyond quoting song lyrics for no good reason (especially Springsteen lyrics) there is a good reason this time. Ricky Gervais has stated a couple of times the script is loosely based on or at least inspired by the lyrics to Thunder Road, how cool is that!

Four Stars out of Five

 

 

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Scott from the blog He Shot Cyrus recently started a new meme entitled “10 Movie Facts About Me”.  He nominated me a few days ago but unfortunately I have been a little snowed under and didn’t do anything. It seems to have spread like an infection in a bad disaster movie. The latest infected are Heather from Movie Mobsters, Paul from Paragraph Film Reviews and Marc from Go,See,Talk! Unable to fight it off any longer here are my ten facts in no particular order (I have already revealed a few of these in previous posts):

  1. I wrote my first film review at age five or six. It was for The Cannonball Run. Each Monday morning in primary school we had to write “what I did at the weekend” one week having not done anything else of interest wrote about the movie I had seen. I said who was in it, what was good about it, what was wrong with it, I compared it to other films and drew a picture of a car. I was really proud of it, my teacher hated it. Partly because she said the exercise was “What I did at the weekend, not what someone in a film did” and partly because I asked her how to spell Lamborghini Countach and she didn’t have a clue.
  2. Until I went to university at the age of eighteen I had only seen seven movies at the Cinema. I can name them but won’t, it will be the subject of a blog post one day.
  3. In 2008 I went on a “pilgrimage” to West Texas to see the locations where the movie Fandango (that gives my blog its name) was filmed.
  4. I have been going to the cinema most Sundays for about twelve years with the same friend.  I have not told him that I write a movie blog.  At first I was embarrassed about people I know reading what I write.  Then I thought it would be fun to see if he would ever come across my blog one day.
  5. I still own more than 200 movies on VHS and regularly watch some of them.
  6. I don’t have a favourite movie. I like too many to chose just one.
  7. When I was about ten years old I was introduced to Christopher Lee, I had no idea who he was. A few months later Channel 4 started showing a series of old Hammer Horror movies starting with Dracula: Prince of Darkness. This is when I first got interested in horror movies.
  8. Despite living four hours drive from a decent surfing break I learnt to surf inspired by the movie Point Break.
  9. I saw over 100 new releases last year, I am on target to see even more this year.
  10. I have a great memory plots but not for names. If a movie I saw twenty-five years ago comes on TV I will probably remember pretty much what happens but if you ask my who was in the movie I saw last nigh I will have to think about it and then say something like “the bloke from trainspotting”.

I understand it is my duty now to pass it on. I have tried to stick to people I don’t think have been nominated yet but this thing is spreading so fast they probably all have several nominations by now.

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James Bond Will Return

I guess everyone has heard by now that production on the next James Bond movie has been suspended indefinitely.  A statement from producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson said “Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on Bond 23 indefinitely”

It is no secret that MGM have had their problems in recent years.  Last August the daily telegraph reported that a $250m credit payment would be due around now. The total debt was quoted at $3.7bn and is due for repayment in just over two years.  The same article explained that Stephen Cooper had taken over as CEO and vice-chairman and was “tasked with improving the health of the company’s balance sheet”.  They described Mr Cooper as a “well-known restructuring expert”. Variety called him “a turnaround specialist” and suggested company could auction of some of its assets including the James Bond franchise and the upcoming Hobbit movies.

The franchise has always made money with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace combined grossing over a billion dollars and making around $850million profit.  The four Pierce Brosnan movies combined made over a billion dollars profit.  Making Bond something of a double edged sword for a studio in trouble; if sold such a profitable franchise could be help the studios finances but if they are still seeking a buyer the company will be far more attractive with Bond onboard.

What will this mean for star Daniel Craig and potential director Sam Mendes?  The last time a Bond movie was postponed was back in 1990 due to legal issues between UA/MGM and EON; the dispute lasted nearly five years and Timothy Dalton’s contract to appear in a third film expired.  Although talks were held an agreement was never reached and Pierce Brosnan was hired.  It is unlikely there will be a six year gap as there was between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye meaning the retention of Daniel Craig shouldn’t be a problem but Sam Mendes is sure to have other projects he wants to work on (IMDB have four listed). Whatever happens they need to wind up the “Quantum” storyline in the next movie before it becomes a millstone around the companies neck. What next for James Bond? Who knows but one thing is certain, as it always used to say at the end of the credits (do the new films say it? I have never looked):

James Bond Will Return

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The Ghost

I went into this movie with somewhat mixed expectations. I had read and enjoyed Robert Harris’ previous novels Fatherland, Enigma and Archangel but found the movies (and TV in the case of Archangel) adaptations a little disappointing, none of them were bad movies they just didn’t live up to the books.  In the case of The Ghost, I haven’t read the book.  There are a couple of things in this movies favour it is directed by Roman Polanski, a director who whatever you think about him it is hard to deny his amazing ability.  The second thing, the screenplay is adapted by Polanski and Harris.  

When the ghost writer working on the autobiography of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) is found dead they hire a replacement (Ewan McGregor).  McGregor’s character who is never named only referred to as “The Ghost” travels to Martha’s Vineyard where Lang along with his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) and assistant Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall) are staying at a house owned by the publisher.  With just four weeks to produce a publishable book the Ghost quickly gets to work but soon realises things are not what they seem.  Is there more to the Prime Ministers “special relationship” with America than is commonly known and is that related to the death of the first ghost?

As I alluded to above Roman Polanski is a supremely talented director, he is also a old and experienced one with a career that has spanned nearly fifty years.  With The Ghost he has crafted an old fashioned movie. To call something old fashioned could be construed as derogatory, in this case it isn’t, it is a supreme compliment.  Where an average modern thriller has kinetic pace with shaky cameras and too many edits, The Ghost is slow and deliberate taking its time to unfold the story.  The editing forgoes the current trend for fast cuts instead choosing to linger on the subject.  The script, particularly the dialogue is excellent making the characters totally believable.  There are also nice touches and attention to detail with things going on in the background.  The camera lingers showing us things without the characters discussing them helping the story to unfold in a realistic way.  What Polanski has tried to do here is reminiscent of what Martin Scorsese did with Shutter Island but in many ways he is more successful than Scorsese was. He is helped by the fact that this is less of a genre piece but even so to make a better movie than Scorsese is an immense achievement.  As is often the case Polanski has got the best out of his actors: For the second time this month I am hugely impressed with Pierce Brosnan.  Ewan McGregor presents a likeable character despite his horrendous accent (I think it is supposed to be London.  There is nothing in the plot of the movie that would prevent him using his own accent).  The real star performance though comes from Olivia Williams.

As for the subject matter the comparisons between Adam Lang and Tony Blair are inevitable.  The former Prime Ministers recent appearance in front of the Chilcot Enquiry make the release of the movie quite topical. Taking “extraordinary rendition” as the reason to accuse Lang of war crimes rather than the allegedly illegal war that it has been suggested makes Tony Blair a war criminal helps keep the movie fictional without it losing its relevance. The fact the main character is referred to as “The Ghost” helps to reinforce the idea that Lang is haunted by his past. As The Ghost starts to uncover what his predecessor discovered this idea of haunting becomes more real.  It also makes the movie a classic investigation based whodunit reminiscent of movies of the 40’s and 50’s.  There is a scene early in the movie after it is announced that former British Prime Minister Adam Lang is to be investigated for war crimes; it is suggested that he should remain in America who don’t recognise ICC (International Criminal Court). A list of other nations that don’t recognise the ICC resulted in some somewhat nervous laughter from the audience.  The idea of a director who can not return to the United States making a movie about a man who can not leave the United States has a certain symmetry.  To add to this the movie mainly takes place on an island in a house that looks like a prison within a heavily guarded compound.  This is old ground for Roman Polanski who in Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion turned characters own houses and apartments into terrifying prisons.

The film isn’t perfect, the plot and its revelations are pretty simple and basic but it gets away with it because of the supremely confident and assured direction. What the story lacks in originality it more than makes up for in intrigue and mystery.  The Ghost is just Polanski’s tenth movie since his masterpiece Chinatown more than thirty-five years ago.  Whist none of these movies have lived up to Chinatown they have all been worth seeing and this one is no exception. Possibly a more a movie for movie lovers that for everyone but certainly a breath of fresh air for anyone who feels jaded by unnecessary sequels, mindless blockbusters and crappy gimmicks like 3D.

Four Stars Out of Five

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Shelter

The supernatural horror/thriller Shelter was shot two years ago, it doesn’t appear to have been released in America yet and it crept into UK cinemas this week with little advertising and no press screening as far as I am aware.  No press screening is often a bad omen but I took a chance as Julianne Moore is always worth watching, even if her movies aren’t. Remember The Forgotten? No you probably don’t, if ever there was an aptly titled movie! More often than not I don’t read reviews, I am happy to make my own mind up a bout a movie but it is nice to know the distributers have the confidence to let their movie be reviewed.  I must admit I sometimes check out the verdict and star rating to avoid the real turkeys.

Clara (Julianne Moore) is a forensic psychiatrist; she gets a shock whilst attempting to disprove a patients (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) multiple personality disorder.  Firstly she begins to believe that he does have multiple personalities, then she starts to investigate who they are.

The first thing I though of whist watching the film was how much it reminded me of Identity, a crap film about multiple personalities written by someone who thinks he is more intelligent than his audience but probably isn’t.  I didn’t find out until after I had seen the movie they were both written by Michael Cooney who was also responsible for Jack Frost and Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, movies about a serial killer reincarnated as a killer snowman. Think of them as a low rent version of Childs Play, can anything actually be that low rent?

The developments in the plot a designed to confuse and surprise the audience, what they actually did is made me not care what was going on. The movie is truly rubbish and I struggle to find any reason to recommend the movie making it my first ever one star movie.  Interestingly at the time of going to press it has a healthy 6.5/10 on IMDB so some people must like it.

One star out of Five

 

 

As my first one star movie I thought I would look into what makes a one star movie. Since I started giving ratings back in January I have give nine two star ratings.  These movies all had something to redeem them and gave some kind of enjoyment for example although poor Legion and Solomon Kane where good fun and didn’t take themselves too seriously.  The Lovely Bones was well shot and had some great acting.  From Paris with Love and Ninja Assassin were really poor films but had some great action.  Shelter has none of this the best thing I can say about it is the acting is reasonable except Jonathan Rhys Meyers terrible accents and the production design is reasonably good. These redeeming features are crushed by the atrocious script.

Anyone who likes the idea of a supernormal horror I suggest you stay at home and rent a couple of DVDs such as The Exorcist and Fallen.  If you really want to see Shelter look out for the things it borrows* from these two movies.

*borrows is a euphemism for shamelessly steals

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