Sunday, 28 August 2011


Parodies, p*ss-takes, send-ups, fun-fuelled homages; the art of celluloid has inspired and created a great many reproductions of some of its finest moments throughout its 100+ years of existence.

Some have purely taken the actual footage and re-arranged it to deliver an entirely different product altogether. Others have tried to mimic their favourite scenes and replicate them by using many different props and methods, from animation through to animals.

In a salute to these people who appear to have a whole lot of time on their hands, and what would seem some spare change in their pockets to create these wonders, here is some of the best out there. See what others you can find and share the experience!

CATEGORY: Fake Trailer
Using one of my all-time best films ever, this is a wonderful example of how you can be fooled by the editing and use of music in a trailer to completely change what the final product is all about. Either way, I would want to watch both versions of three men and a shark...

Ever since it's release in 1992, Rob Reiner's film adaptation of the play has spawned countless versions of Cruise's verbal battle with Nicholson but none more so appealing than this one here that deserves bananas all round..

Lucky enough to see a charity screening in the cinema, this is the WHOLE original film remade pretty much shot-for-shot by 3 12 year old friends that took them 6 years to finish! Ingenuity and laughs abound - their answer to the Nazi monkey is sheer genius! Find it, see it, love it!

CATEGORY: Advertisement
Every year, the advertising industry goes all-out for America's Superbowl and 2011's selection saw the unveiling of an instant classic. Even if you've never seen any of the Star Wars films, there's just something about a 6 year old boy's dreams of ruling the galaxy that gets to you...

CATEGORY: Music video
If ever there were 2 things that shouldn't mix, trashy euro techno tunes and serious adventure Lord Of The Rings are perfect examples of "it's so wrong, it's right!"combination. Tell you what though, you'll want it as a ring tone or end up humming it for the rest of the day!

CATEGORY: Animation/Musical
The Simpsons have lampooned everything over it's 22 years of broadcasting so picking just one moment is tough, but let's face it, you'd pay to see this in the West End or Broadway wouldn't you! However, you'd be too embarrassed to stand up and applaude at the end perhaps...

There are so many more out on the horizon waiting to be discovered - the "monkey-ed movie" version of Jerry Maguire, "Family Guy's" Star Wars movies, "The Simpsons"' Raiders Of The Lost Ark boulder scene, "Weird Al Yankovic's" Dangerous Minds parody Amish Paradise...

So, what works for you, funny-wise? Any of these? What should have been added instead?


Lately, it seems that original ideas are either in short supply or considered "unbankable" in Tinseltown where remakes, reboots or sequels seem to be the order of the day.

However, some are not only worthy of your attention, but, (and whisper it) they are as good as, or equal to, their original counterparts.

With his previous work not an indication that an 80's horror comedy remake would be up his street, director Gillespie takes the quirky, smirky humour from his Lars And The Real Girl and applies that to the enjoyable B-movie premise of having a vampire move in next door and making moves on both your Mum and your girlfriend.

If you are unfamiliar with the 1985 flick best known for it's well-loved star - Roddy McDowell - you may find that you'll be putting this is as your fave horror flick of the year. With a sometimes hard-to-find balance of laughs and scares plaguing nearly all of the genre's recent entries, to the point where it seems that only "horror gore" films are released nowadays, this re-vamped (sorry!) Fright Night perfectly delivers tension-relief humour to only then crank up the creepiness again!

To achieve this, characters are firmly assigned which camp they should be in. Farrell, as Jerry the vampire (great running gag throughout) gets to sink his teeth (sorry) into the fixed-staring, head-twitching, scent-sniffing, charm-offensive that is a modern take on the originals excellent Chris Sarandon (watch out for his cameo appearance) as the predatory vamp neighbour. Oppositely, delivering the laughs rests squarely on the more-than-adequate shoulders of Tennant. For all the world like his Doctor Who persona except with a drinking problem, a high sex-drive and a leaning towards theatrical leather wearing, he gets to pretty much steal the show every time he appears on screen.

The battle of good vs. evil doesn't just rest between The Doctor and Ballykissangel. Star Trek's Yelchin as teen-turned-reluctant-protector, Charlie, shows Shia LaBeouf that it's not all whining and shouting for Optimus whilst in mortal peril. The right side of geeky and heroic, he and Poots as his "ripe" girlfriend never stray into "teen OTT terror" which helps you root for them when the going gets tough.

Now, for those who have seen the original, guess what? You'll love it. With enough nods and respect for the '85 classic, it still brings variations and twists to keep you on your toes throughout. Enjoyable for all the right reasons - scares, laughs, tension, characters - this is a riot from start to finish. I stake (sorry) my reputation on it.

UK release date: 02.09.11
Certificate: 15

Friday, 26 August 2011


There are names in films that are connected with unusual characters, strange plot lines and Hollywood-challenging concepts and memorable delivery methods. While Del Torro delves into fantasy, Almodover continues with his strong female study.

Since his world-stage recognition in 1986 with Matador, Almodover has worked with Banderas on and off but its been what feels like ages since the two have collaborated. Alot of this may be down to the fact that Banderas has been Spy Kids-ing and Shrek-ing it up recently, so much so that the serious side to him may have been lost to most cinema-goers.

Here, with the script that allows him to show off his forgotten range, from smouldering intensity to down-right insanity, Banderas becomes abit of a revelation throughout. With the film carried essentially by only him and Anaya, it is both of their performances that helps you sit through what becomes quite a disturbing tale...

What you have here is something that only European cinema can seem to deliver or is brave enough to at least try. Here is a depiction of obsessive behaviour that, when married with a hunger for revenge and justice, goes to a level of the human psyche that frankly, if thought about even for a moment, is very disturbing indeed. Much has been made from other reviews about the films "must keep secret twist" but all that does is then keep the viewer looking out for it rather than just try and absorb the film experience itself. If you've dabbled with European cinema before, the surprise won't really be one as you'll spot it before the reveal.

With a story that is so un-mainstream, it's surprising that the editing, cinematography and overall feel of it is very pedestrain. It is almost as if Almodover has deliberately pulled back from the "unusual," with only one character raising quirky visual interest in his tiger outfit throughout the entire film. Other than that and it could have been any old person behind the camera.

Anaya, as the experiment/hostage of Banderas, looking for all the world like a young Julia Ormond, matches her co-star for an outstanding performance. So much so that it is she that you end up rooting for rather than any other character or their point-of-view.

Despite the unsettling nature at the core of it, this feels like an average attempt from the man who normally delivers characters that, along with their dialogue, stays with you long after the lights go up. Here, the majority of it feels flat and, if you want the kind of twist and turns that are talked about, you should look to The Secret In Their Eyes for more satisfaction.

UK release date: 26.08.11
Certificate: 15

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Once in a while, there are those little-heard-of films that you come across that becomes a joy to behold and a treasure to know. Well, for once, you can discover one in the cinema rather than at home on TV/DVD years after its initial release...

2008 saw the wonderfully wacky and very un-pc In Bruges starring Gleeson as a moody, melancholy hitman hiding out in small city Bruges, written and directed by McDonagh. Now, 3 years later McDonagh's brother has written and directed a wonderfully wacky and quite un-pc film starring Gleeson as a moody, melancholy policeman living out his days in small-town Ireland. There's a pattern there somewhere...

From the outset, you pretty much know all you need to know about Gleeson's character as he picks through the corpses of drug-taking, car-crashing youths, taking the evidence away to spare the parents any extra shame whilst pocketing some for himself of course. World weary but very clinically-aware of all around him like an Irish Columbo, this is a policeman who knows all but hides that knowledge unless it's necessary, and not too much trouble.

Essentially, what you have here is a cross between Father Ted and Lethal Weapon. The ribbing at small town Ireland culture and its inhabitants is straight out of Craggy Island - even Tom from the TV series has a part as a stetson-wearing, VW bug-driving guy who says the IRA only had gays so that they could infiltrate MI5 and always forgets that the engine is in the back of his car. Laugh-out-loud cringe lines like that crop up frequently throughout - Gleeson in the middle of a briefing from the FBI agent stating that he thought that only black people and Mexicans are drug dealers and when told that he's being racist comes back with "but I'm Irish, racism is part of my culture!"

The films double act comes in the guise of Cheadle who thankfully plays an American this time so there's no need for any of his questionable accents - Oceans 11 trilogy anyone? It's his frequently grounded and astounded reaction to Gleeson's comments that gives the film a lot of its comic edge, along with every ones disappointment that he's with the drugs division of the FBI and not the behavioural section. The other strong laughs come from Strong himself who, here, has a remarkable go at an eloquently-minded criminal who says that there's nothing in the small print when he signed up to be a criminal thug that says he has to do manual labour.

Despite it's small-time feel to it, The Guard, through great characters and wonderful dialogue, manages to feel so much more than a direct-to-TV movie which some could mistake it for if they didn't watch it. This helps it to pull off it's truly cheer-out-loud Gibson & Glover-esque finale involving the main characters in a "didn't see that one coming" ending.

UK release date: 19.08.11
Certificate: 15


"Based on the best selling novel"... words that can either strike fear into the heart or make it do cart wheels to the reader of them and a fan of the original source.

2 years ago, author Nicholls' One Day started to appear on shelves and laps of ladies everywhere (and secretly men as well.) The tale of "Twenty years. Two people" is brought to the screen by "Two people" that should equate to an experience that should last for over "Twenty years" - director Scherfig who delivered An Education, and the author himself writing the screenplay.

Unlike Hornby's High Fidelity, the action is kept in the original locale - Edinburgh and France coming off as beautiful locations to match the friends high points, whilst London as the people-swallowing city, appears somewhat grubby and rain-soaked to match their individual downward spirals.

Their is a problem though with the narrative structure though. By keeping the year-jumping style of the novel, the relationship between the characters never fully grabs hold of the heart strings as at times you feel that you've come in half way through the film and missed something. For a film that is all about the two of them getting together, the fact that their "consummation' is mentioned in what feels like a throw-away line of dialogue and not seen upon the screen, feels like you've been cheated somehow. For you to invest in their future together, you need to see them together, and here that feels slightly disjointed with the jump-in/jump-out yearly focus. The themed of friends becoming more will always be held up to the pinnacle that is When Harry Met Sally and here there is still no moving it from the top spot.

Hathaway is the light and soul of the film, keeping it grounded and believable as the slightly shy, love weary girl whose crush on a boy never really goes away but it's her object of desire that causes the uncertainty during the time frame. Sturgess' has the unenviable job of playing the role of someone who, as one of her ex's describes him as "not worthy" of Hathaway's affections. Everyone loves him but doesn't like him, including his own mother, which does make it hard to root for him and her throughout his drug-fuelled and alcohol-heavy exploits.

Probably more grounded in reality than other romances, this makes One Day feel light on the heart wrenching, love-inspiring moments that other movies have to help them worm their way into the memory of the audience. Apart from a significant scene in the film at the beginning of the third act that turns everything on its head, it doesn't deliver any stand out scenes apart from the little known fact that all great relationships should begin by a river or canal.

Nice and warm, but for a time-based love story you should head to (500) Days Of Summer or the daddy of them all - "I'll have what she's having!"

UK release date: 26.08.11
Certificate: 15

Sunday, 21 August 2011


It was a tradition a long time ago that the UK brought their best loved small screen characters to the big screen. This didn't really do any favours for cinema with bad memories of the likes of On The Buses and Bless This House.

Yet, luckily for fans and first-timers alike, this is no Kevin & Perry Go Large fiasco. It seems that the makers of the surprise hit Ch4 comedy have decided to stick closely to their roots and not stray too far from the formula that made it a much-loved modern piece of TV viewing.

It always prided itself on the fact that somewhere during its episodes, you would be able to relate to what the four friends were going through. And here, despite opening up the canvas to encompass the world - well, Malia at least but for them it may as well be! - the film that ends the stories of the misfit bunch of mates, never cashes itself in.

There's no real learning curve for the lads. There's no "boys to men" moment where you finally see that these socially inept guys will be OK in the future because they've moved up any ladder you care to mention - socially, intellectually etc. And there's the winning tactic. It might have got a cheer from the audience if during one scene where one of the boys is challenged, he were to fight back or try and land a punch, but then, that's not them. That wouldn't fit with our understanding and love of them and would have come across like abit of Hollywood-isation.

Yes, it does feel like a long episode but that's not a bad thing. Especially when the writing has been pretty much spot on and continues as such here on the big screen. Like alot of episodes, the film has its moments where the humour stops and the absence of laughter feels all the more prominent due to the fact that you've been snorting your popcorn out all over the place beforehand, but the jokes then start up again and keep on coming.

The cringe factor remains high throughout, especially for Simon who continues to mention his ex, Carly, to the girl who likes him despite him being a "dick to her." Jay delivers all the sex-related lines of dialogue which will be repeated throughout summer (but cannot be typed here!) and Will continues to be a "foot-in-his-mouth" know-it-all who can talk himself out of losing his virginity without realising it. The "nearly an epiphany" moment strangely goes to Neil whose words of wisdom turns the holiday round from disaster - "I stopped worrying when I realised that God is just dog backwards. Now I just have fun." That's as deep as it gets, and rightly so!

A fitting ending to a group of lads that deserved to be loved by viewers and will remain fondly in our hearts and minds for a long time. Proper filthy!

UK release date: 19.08.11
Certificate: 15

Friday, 19 August 2011


Over a year ago, crowds at San Diego's Comic Con were whipped up into a frenzy by early footage of James Bond and Indiana Jones teaming up to battle aliens in the Wild West. It's been a long year but it's time to saddle up finally...

Anticipation can be a double-edged sword. Ask audiences of Avatar, Inception etc and you'll receive mixed opinions influenced by whether they feel it lived up to the hype or not. Director Favreau's genre-meshing movie would appear to be a victim of it's own marketing campaign as the so-simple-how come-its-never-been-done-before idea of cowboys vs aliens struggles to live up to its ideas and the baggage that its stars bring with them.

Mainly Craig's vehicle rather than Ford, here he brings the same rugged but emotionally-lacking performance that made his take on Bond more grittier and grounded than previous incarnations. It worked well there but here in the Old West, his memory-challenged anti-hero needs some warmth or humanisation to it in order for us to want to see him come through all of it in the end. Any emotion is therefore left to the likes of Ford - mean, surly but then a true hero who changes his ways during the course of the adventure - and Rockwell - who brings scared and relatable everyday guy to the party.

Its set pieces are as good as you'd expect from the guy that gave you Iron Man, but maybe that's where part of the slight disappointment lies. That was fun. This feels average with some of the twinkle and life sucked out of it. Where there should be a tongue-in-cheek moment or a humorous interaction between the two iconic-playing actors, we get a slow-paced delivery of sub-plots and an over long drawn-out fragment piecing together of Craig's wiped memory. It walks then it should run and hovers when it should soar.

What it could have, or should have been was a nod towards Firefly/Serenity where Whedon successfully mixed the genres of Westerns and sci-fi together. There it was about emphasis on characterisation and beautiful dialogue to sit with the beautiful vistas, which is what Cowboys & Aliens lacks.

For most, it will be a typical summer blockbuster that ticks the unchallenging, standard boxes that are associated with films released during this period, but for those who want more emotion - be it humour, tension, fear - then they will find it lacking somewhat. It's not a bad film, but the potential of the sum parts - capable director, reliable actors, inventive idea - meant that it could have been a great film. And that is the bitter pill that has to be swallowed by some of the audience. When you care more for the strangely loyal dog more than the humans, be they ones fighting the aliens or abducted by them, something surely is off kilter...

A somewhat wasted opportunity to be alot of peoples new fave film, it's still worth seeing despite the flaws.

UK release date: 17.08.11
Certificate: 12A

Monday, 15 August 2011


29 years ago, Robert E. Howard's creation came to life on the screen with Arnie as the sword-wielding, revenge-seeking barbarian. Now, after a long, interesting journey, the re-imaging of the tale of Conan the Cimmerian finally slashes its way into cinemas.

Fantasy has proven a tough nut to crack where films are concerned. Apart from the phenomena that was Lord Of The Rings, no franchise has ever been able to grow - even the original Conan spawned only one sequel then bowed its head and quietly went away. And, unfortunately, Nispel's version more-than-likely won't be able to buck this trend.

Sword and sorcery is a genre that, for audiences to connect, invest and believe in, has to work harder than others to overcome its fantasy roots and the possible limitations its characters bring with them. They have to overcome such questionable dialogue as "I fight, I love, I slay. I am content." For it to stand a chance, the film would need to have some kind of tongue-in-cheek quality to it or embrace it's uphill struggle and go all-out OTT camp for the fun of it. Sadly, neither path is chosen.

With an over-long intro to the young, head-strong, savage-killing Conan, Nispel takes the plot and pacing and chops it up with Cimmerian steel and jumps from location to location without so much as "pack your bags, we're leaving" to have bland set pieces appear to break up the horse riding. The finale of Conan's life quest for vengeance of his fathers death, will surprise no one who ever watched Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom - the molten lava pit, the damsel over it on a tilting platform, the hero trying to save said damsel whilst fighting off the baddies... it's all there except with no tension or drama created by caring or worrying for the individuals up on the screen. Willie Scott may have been an annoying screamer but Indy cared for her, so in turn did you. Not here though.

Physically perfect for the barbarian, Momoa easily fits into Arnie's sandals/shoes but he's never given any intelligible yet alone memorable dialogue to shine or to steal the audiences hearts. Even the normally mesmerising Morgan Freeman's narration at the beginning is lost through an over loud musical score and nonsense ramblings making it hard to follow what little set up there is.

There are moments that shine during it's running time but overall it's let down by its over-seriousness, its hacked-up plot and its awfully useless 3D.

UK release date: 24.08.11
Certificate: 18

Saturday, 13 August 2011


A trip to the movies... for all of us, this cultural phenomenon will touch ALL our lives in at least one category mentioned below.

For some it's a date experience - the uncomfortable fumblings in a darkened room hoping to God that you're not thrown out by a roving attendant - whilst for others it's a family thing; whether it's you as the leading figure of the family unit or whether it's the rose-tinted spectacles of memory as you're led into the auditorium for the first time by an adult to watch your first silver screen induction.

Then, for others, it's the smile-inducing, nostalgic-laden trip where friends - past and present - bring up memories of that viewing to the local ABC cinema to see that awful-but-you-love-it film. Ever since it's disturbing but never-the-less popular beginnings back in 1895, the art, as it was called back then, of movie-making has spell-bound viewers throughout the world.

Embraced by nearly every culture and country the world has had to offer over the last century, films have shone their light on peoples dreams, hopes, aspirations and their history, no matter how clean or ugly it may be.

So, yet another challenge for your is this: what are you willing to admit about your life-influencing experiences with the silver screen? What do you think has helped shape you into the individual that you are today? Or does something else have a hold on you instead? Look back and focus...

FIRST FILM YOU SAW, or remember seeing....
Walt Disney's The Rescuers (1977) and Star Wars (1977)

Both films were milestones for me because I saw them without my mother. The Rescuers was in the ABC Elephant & Castle with my Auntie Pearl and my cousin Donna, and Star Wars was with a single-parent organisation - The Gingerbread Club - in a dark, bustling and frankly scary Leicester Square. I remember having to hold hands with some snotty-nosed kid I'd never met before as we made our way through the crowded Square.

FILM YOU'VE SEEN THE MOST, in the cinema...
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Jurassic Park (1993) - both 4 times each.

Ah, the age of independence and disposable income! A time where youth allowed you to spend on such things as the cinema without too much worry about the financial consequences and where such things as alcohol and just "hangin'" hadn't yet become that important as to take precedent over a group outing to the flicks.

FILM YOU WISHED YOU'D SEEN IN THE CINEMA, upon its initial release...
Jaws (1975) and Airplane! (1980)

To this day, both are considered classics and the foundations of the genres that they helped define over the intervening years. If you think that you're enjoying these films when you either put them on or, and always the test of a great movie, leave it on if you discover it whilst flicking through the channels one evening, think how much more iconic it would have been to sit there amongst people who were watching it, and reacting to it for the first time... The scares, the shocks, the laughter... damn it would have been good to be there.

Beauty & The Beast (1991)
My non-existent daughter or existing God-daughters should have been opened to the world of magical story telling in a full-to-capacity but hushed cinema rather than a hastily-played DVD. The first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture Oscar, this still retains the punch and creates the bond for the audience that any adult should be proud to pass onto the young.

Jerry Maguire (1996) or An Affair To Remember (1957)
"Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello." Or "Where will you be in six months?"
Either one of those films are ideal as the movie to have in your memory that brings to mind your significant other half. To have those lines to share with them as you watched them for the first time together in the darkened auditorium would be solid gold!

YOUR FIRST DATE MOVIE, without your parents in tow...
The Karate Kid, Part II (1986)
Ah... the checking you have the money to pay for both of you; the worry of what to wear; the thinking of things to say; the choosing of what movie to see... All the decisions that need to be made and raked over continuously in your mind, and that's even before you find yourself in the cinema wondering about the holding hands or the arm around the shoulder... and all the while Peter Cetera sang in the background about "The Glory Of Love" as Mr Miyagi looked on.

So, what comes to mind for you on those fields then? Will you tell? Will you share?

Friday, 12 August 2011


Back in 1968, a film challenged audiences and created a juggernaut that would spawn multiple sequels and a TV series. It was then, most would say, horrifically re-imagined in 2001 by Tim Burton which did to the saga what Batman & Robin did the caped crusader.

However, Nolan's Batman Begins showed what could be achieved with a long dead film franchise, so Brit director Wyatt has attempted to do the same with those "damn, dirty apes."

And he has succeeded. Very much so. Infact, his Rise... feels like it could have been from, or influenced by Nolan himself. A lot of this success stems from the clever use of emotional investment and manipulation. This emphasis placed on story and heart-tugging emotion as much as fantastic effects and brain-defying visuals starts at the beginning with an adorable baby Caesar and keeps hold throughout. So much so, that you find yourself on the apes side willing them on to succeed in their escape rather than the humans trying to restore order.

As you would expect, this is a film primarily about the apes and their rise, so the human cast does have to work extra hard to compete with Serkis' truly superb Caesar and his fellow simians. Franco's scientist who "creates" the highly intelligent chimp by trying to cure his fathers alzeimer's (Lihtgow in a welcome return) does struggle with the emotion of possibly losing both his father and the experimental primate so it's up to the likes of Felton, showing that his Malfoy wasn't all that bad in comparison, to illicit an emotional response from the human cast.

For the fans of the original stories, there are nods nicely woven into the background to help connect it to them - a missing mission to Mars crew for example - but others will see the simian similarities to the little-known Broderick-starer classic, Project X, especially the caged setting and the animals within. Each animal is given a personality and this comes to the fore when Caesar becomes the revolutionary leader and takes his place at the head of the ape-orientated army. There's even an orangutan that can sign and tries to help by telling Caesar to try and keep his intelligence hidden from both man and ape if he wants to live. And all the while, he retains the compassion and love that he was shown whilst growing up, admonishing the other escapee's who wish to kill their human counter-parts rather than disarm them.

A genuinely delightful surprise, rising far above the expectations that most remakes or re-imaginings have stapled along with them, it has a set piece in its final act involving The Golden Gate Bridge that shows X-Men: The Last Stand exactly how it should have been done.

UK release date: 12.08.11
Certificate: 12A

Monday, 8 August 2011


It was once said that fact is stranger than fiction. There are documentaries that, if you didn't know it was based on fact, you'd swear it was made up with the way the story roller coasters.

After the successful (and rightly so) Man On Wire, director Marsh turns his lens on the story of an experiment from 1973 - one that is as shockingly relevant now as it should have been back then.

With its timing of release seemingly tongue-in-cheek alongside The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Marsh's documentary shows the true horrific scope of what it would actually mean to try and adapt man's closest living relative to a level where both could communicate with each other successfully.

Even though the experiment took place 38 years ago, you'll find yourself becoming more surprised and shocked as the story unfolds at how something could have not only begun but continued the way it did. You'll find that you will wonder whether you're watching the foolish naivety of a mankind or the idiotic arrogance of a man. The worrying thing is you find yourself leaning towards the arrogance side especially when the movement of Nim from environment to environment due to experiment instigator Herbert Terrace's unhappiness with the results.

As the chimp is moved from his "home" where he's treated as one of the children through to the empty mansion where constant learning is pushed to gather more conclusive results, you wonder where any common sense is and where any compassion is. More so at the end where Nim is left to animal experimentation. However, there is some semblance of humanity in one of the last people to interact with the chimp who becomes a champion on his behalf - Bob Ingersoll - who refuses to let Nim slip away under experimentation.

Both interesting and distressing, this is a reminder that man has great potential but can sometimes totally screw it up by concentrating on the potential rather than the consequences.

UK release date: 12.08.11
Certificate: 12A

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Despite the ever-changing weather in the UK, there are things that make people rise up to the climate challenge
often presented on this isle and gather together to celebrate it in a heart-felt, common interest union of spirit and soul...

Yes, the outdoor cinem
a experience. Any other country can do them, but only a true fan would risk the possible downpours that threaten any well-meaning screening. It has to be a great film and one that has fans: The Princess Bride is one such movie.

Chosen as the closing film for Film Four's Summer Screen at Somerset House, in London this year, as the host commented it was "the best happy ever after fairy tale" anyone could wish for.

Originally released back in 1987, Rob Reiner's affection nod towards the action/adventure genre has become, and rightly so, an insurmountable, quote-fest, cult classic that others have tried but never come close to a
chieving - Your Highness, I'm referring to you specifically now! It's attraction to it's huge, hard-core fan base can be "inconceivable!" to those who have never seen it.

Arriving at The Strand around 7:45pm, the first point of call was to find a cheap pub near the venue as the beer in the actual location can prove quite costly. Two quickly downed pints and the quickest supermarket dash through a Tesco Express for snacks, saw us ready for the spectacle that is outdoor cinema.

The rain had finally slowed and stopped to a level where hope fo
r a dry night didn't seem as pointless as an ugly geek searching for love, or at least lust, in a nightclub when the lights come up. Upon entering the always breath-taking, open square of Somerset House, we were presented with an already 99.9% full-to-capacity surface area of a highly-charged, happy and buzzing, food-and-drink consuming crowd. Blankets, mini hampers, folded up coats and sleeping bags littered the floor space with smiling and eager faces chatting away until the time that the phrase "dusk" came into affect and the film would begin. After finding a space that could house only half the size of a SMART CAR and achieving the equivalent of squeezing between punters at a crowded bar, we settled down with 3 beers each, suitable snacks, and waited for the magic to begin...

21:15 - natural light has given way to a dark tinted blue slab of sky where planes can be spotted by their lights rather than their bodies, and the silver screen erupts into life accompanied by a chorus of cheers and claps. The evening now, for all those present within the square, has truly begun.

As the dread pirate Roberts - a so cool and calm Cary Ewles that you could put your can of cola next to him to keep it chilled - makes his way through the many obstacles to catch up with Princess Buttercup and her captors, the crowd laugh along, sometimes even moments before the punchline arrives in anticipation of it; these people gathered here tonight will be just like me - able to quote continuously the classic dialogue to those poor unfortunate souls who have never had their life enriched from the movie.

The one thing that is slightly surprising though is the distinct lack of "quoting/shouting out loud" the well-loved and often repeated lines along with the characters when they're uttered... Maybe the crowd has come over all British and thinks that wouldn't be a polite thing to do perhaps? Instead cheers, whoops and claps are given to the delights that are "inconceivable!" "I don't think that word means what you think it means," "never get involved in a land war in Asia." Even surely the most quotable line doesn't get a loud, echoy duplication from the crowd but it does definitely get the loudest cheer - "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

23:00. Then, as soon as it had begun, the wonder ceases. The Princess Bride is saved and along with her true love Wesley/dread pirate Roberts, delivers the most passionate kiss, putting the 5 best kisses ever recorded in history to shame.

A classic evening for a truly classic film. My thanks must go to my "bro-date" who arranged the tickets but couldn't make it in the end,Tom, and to his stand-in, Jamie. Both are huge fans and long may we continue having fun storming the castle!

Certificate: PG
Available on Bluray and DVD now.

Thursday, 4 August 2011


"Based on a true story..." usually means that possible viewers will either be bored or bombarded with Hollywood interpretation to the point of not caring or not believing.

Trying to find the line between those two states can be hard but it never stops directors moving away from documentaries or standard blockbuster-wannabes and giving it a go. So, after giving us such fare as Once Were Warriors and Die Another Day, director Tamahori now tells us the tale of one Saddam Hussein's son.

From the off, you should know that this is a film that doesn't hold back any punches, which is reflected in its certificate. You will find yourself swinging mainly between two pillars - laughter at the absurdity and shock at the insanity.

Despite it being the tale of the young soldier chosen to be Hussein's body double, the movie is really all about, and indeed becomes carried by, the moral-free, fear-inducing life and actions of Saddam's offspring. Both roles are played by Cooper who obviously delights in the poles-apart characters, and with his portrayal of Uday Hussein, he finally deserves to lose the tag of "love interest from Mamma Mia!" Try to imagine Borat crossed with Heath Ledger's Joker and you're some way there.

With his mood swings towards irrational violence, Cooper's Uday creates a worrying tension for the audience as you await the next outburst. That, tied in with his sexual appetite, makes such scenes as the ruining of a wedding day (think Braveheart's English noble claiming his rights) and his paedophilia tendencies (a skin-crawling scene) a stark contrast to the moments of joking with the unfortunate double that he will have to lose part of his manhood so that it matches his in size.

The unusual relationship between insane son and enslaved soldier gets time upon the screen to breath and grow but at the cost of the forbidden love between body double and Uday's "touch her and I'll kill you" girlfriend. This plot progression jumps ahead several feet rather than sense-making steps but then, whether you like it or not, it's all about Hussein and the love-hate relationship you end up having with the vile character. When he's not on screen, you wait for him to appear.

What does grate the nerves as opposed to the shocking of them, is Tamahori's insistence at continuously mixing war footage into the film to remind us of the conflict raging outside. It's apparent already and these cut-away scenes only slow the pace somewhat from what is building into a "will he, won't he" kill or be killed finale between the two Cooper's. other than that though, it's surprisingly good.

UK release date: 10.08.11
Certificate: 18

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


For some, the most anticipated movie of the summer finally arrives weeks after its US debut - a film that isn't part of a franchise or a sequel and has two of the most exciting names connected with current entertainment.

Much has been made of whether this is a Spielberg homage or missing movie from the moguls back catalogue as opposed to a film from J.J. Abrams with the 'Berg's input. Well, it feels like a feature with its feet in both camps - as in it is the best of both worlds.

Anyone familiar with Abrams' output will find themselves on comfortably stupendous territory from start to finish. With a simple, heart string-pulling intro that sets up the broken family scenario through to the young, confidence-lacking boy defy everything from his over-bearing put-upon dad to the mysterious arrival that turns his town, and his life, upside-down, Super 8 delivers everything that makes a good movie a great one.

Now, if you wish, you could list all the 80's films that come to mind whilst watching it - especially Spielberg's earlier ones - but then this is as much a form of love letter to the likes of E.T., Close Encounters, The Goonies and the like as it is to modern movie-making. As with his Star Trek, Abrams lets lens flare bathe the cast and surroundings whilst the camera itself rarely stays still throughout the proceedings; always sweeping or dollying into a zoom to add to the feel of fast-paced adventure and danger that the kids are going through.

With so much of the movie resting on their young shoulders, (alongside the inevitable Stand By Me meets The Goonies comparisons) the group surpass previous "kids growing up" attempts with their believable bond and two of the cutest sweet and innocent romantic leads seen in years. When you hear the line "I'm trying the best I can to save you,..." spoken to Fanning's teen object of desire from our wide-eyed hero, you will wish you were young again so you too could say that to the person you had a crush on.

Throughout, the emotions are batted back-and-forth like a swingball, from laughter - the attempts at the homemade zombie movie with "production value" - tension - the catacombs chase - horror - the Jurassic Park style sequences of the "monster" hidden in the treeline - through to awe - the life-changing finale for the watching heroes. Very few directors or screenplays can keep that up through a films entire running time but here this is easily achieved.

Watching it is like remembering what original Coke tasted like after having 30 years of pale, recent imitations such as sugar-free and diet versions. It's like a full-on, full-fat nostalgia hit that made you crave the cinema experience when you were younger just as you did that sugar rush. Anyone who grew up watching, or indeed, appreciates the type of films that stood out in the 80's and have stood the test of time, will cherish this slice of pure, unadulterated cinematic joy. It's truly hard to highlight or pick out a duff note in its song sheet salute to youthful yearning, wishing and finding out the kind of person you can be.

And finally, for those of you who get up and leave when the end credits start - don't. Stay seated and watch in humoured awe at the finished "movie" that the kids were making when all hell broke loose and see the hilarious "mouthing on the phone in the background" shot.

UK release date: 05.08.11
Certificate: 12A