Sunday, 24 February 2013


So, with all the major players, award-wise, out of the way - BAFTA, Golden Globes, Screen Writers Guild etc - it's the 85 year old man himself left.

On 24th February, the world, and anyone who's interested, will be put out of their misery as host Seth MacFarlane leads the congratulatory back-slapping award show through what some people have already called "predictable" in the recipient category.

But Oscar is nothing but surprising in some awards so nothing can be taken for granted across the board. So, here is a breakdown of the hopeful "gong-getters" and who I think will win and, just for fun, who I think should win. Any bets placed because of my predictions are placed at your own risk - remember, guesses can go down as well as up...


Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life Of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Oscar Winner - Argo
Shoulda Won'er - Life Of Pi

ACTUAL WINNER - ARGO (score 1 point for nailing it!)

Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Jaoquin Phoenix (The Master)
Denzel Washington (Flight)

Oscar Winner - Daniel Day Lewis
Shoulda Won'er - Daniel Day Lewis

ACTUAL WINNER - DANIEL DAY LEWIS (score 1 point for nailing it!)

Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Alan Arkin (Argo)

Oscar Winner - Tommy Lee Jones
Shoulda Won'er - Christoph Waltz

ACTUAL WINNER - CHRISTOPH WALTZ (score 1/2 point for wanting it!)

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts Of The Southern Wild)
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Oscar Winner - Jessica Chastain
Shoulda Won'er - Jessica Chastain


Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Oscar Winner - Anne Hathaway
Shoulda Won'er - Anne Hathaway

ACTUAL WINNER - ANNE HATHAWAY (score 1 point for nailing it!)

The Pirates! An Adventure With Scientists
Wreck-It Ralph

Oscar Winner - Brave
Shoulda Won'er - The Pirates! An Adventure With Scientists

ACTUAL WINNER - BRAVE (score 1 point for nailing it!)

Life Of Pi - Ang Lee
Lincoln - Steven Spielberg
Amour - Michael Haneke
Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell
Beasts Of The Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin

Oscar Winner - Ang Lee
Shoulda Won'er - Steven Spielberg

ACTUAL WINNER - ANG LEE (score 1 point for nailing it!)

MUSIC (Original Score)
Anna Karenina
Life Of Pi

Oscar Winner - Argo
Shoulda Won'er - Lincoln

ACTUAL WINNER - LIFE OF PI (score 0 point!)

MUSIC (Original Song)
Chasing Ice ("Before My Time")
Ted ("Everybody Needs A Best Friend")
Life Of Pi ("Pi's Lullaby")
Skyfall ("Skyfall")
Les Miserables ("Suddenly")

Oscar Winner - Skyfall
Shoulda Won'er - Skyfall

ACTUAL WINNER - SKYFALL (score 1 point for nailing it!)

WRITING (Adapted Screenplay)
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Life Of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

Oscar Winner - Life Of Pi
Shoulda Won'er - Silver Linings Playbook

ACTUAL WINNER - ARGO (score 0 points!)

WRITING (Original Screenplay)
Django Unchained
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Oscar Winner - Zero Dark Thirty
Shoulda Won'er - Moonrise Kingdom


Care to challenge me or question why I've made the choices that I have? You've got until the end of the 24th to put your money where your mouth is... bring it!

So, out of a possible 11 points, I scored 6 1/2. You've gotta love the unpredictability of the Oscars, even when it seems like there are such things as certainties! 

Here's to next year!

Friday, 22 February 2013


And so it seems that the time of "unfilmable books" turning into films continues. After the huge success of Life Of Pi we now have another piece of monumental movie making mountaineering to climb. This time however it was not the technology holding things back like Lee faced with bringing a Bengal tiger to life in the confined space of a drifting lifeboat, but of the multi-layered and many plot lines of the source novel itself.

The team that brought the now immortal line of "I know kung fu," were not the people that would easily spring to mind to be able to handle such a time-spanning and worldly-hopping experience such as those that unfold during the many centuries of Cloud Atlas but attempt it they did.

And succeed they have.

Along with Tom Tykwer - the man responsible behind the almost equally multi-layered plotting of Run, Lola Run, The Wachowski's and he have both adapted David Mitchell's novel for the screen and then, just to add to their plate, directed it too. This is by no means an easy task. There are 6 different stories that take place all in different time zones, different locations, different dialects and, spoiler alert, different planets entirely.

To do this, the trio have taken the source novel and its framing and, although nodding to whilst keeping true to it, have opted for a more novel but satisfying cinematic approach to the stories and their inter-connectedness. This doesn't mean that they have made it an easier experience for those who do not wish to or who are not used to having their films demand things from them such as attention, retention and suspension. Some may not like the idea of "souls" moving through time and continuing their journey towards their respective goals - continuously "meeting again and again in different lives and different ages,"- but to help the viewer make this connection, the trio have devised a plan.

And a rather cunning one it is at that! The central actors all play different parts in all of the six stories that weave across the silver screen, however, they are not the same characters. Some are not even the same gender. This gives way to a nice little side line during the films just-shy-of three hours running time - spot the Tom Hanks/Halle Berry/Jim Broadbent/Hugo Weaving/Jim Sturgess/Doona Bae/Ben Whishaw in all of the six stories. They are all there, even in the background, so if you feel the time-jumping, soul-swapping stances of the film itself are slipping away from you, you could always play the Where's The Actor until the end credits reveal them to you.

The actors themselves seem to have a great time, revelling in the different types of challenges that their characters face in the seemingly different styles of genre film-making presented - a futuristic The Handmaidens' Tale-esque world which is the closest to The Wachowski's The Matrix where all is not what it seems and revelations of The One who is to open every ones eyes to the truth; a 1970's conspiracy thriller of Watergate proportions; a 1930's tale of forbidden love and doomed souls due to society and its constraints - all these and the others are presented together yet very much apart.

The key to this is the editing of the film itself and of the six plots. A significant reveal or image on one story quickly cuts to another with that point carried over thus helping you to not only make the connection but to keep it and then keep track of it when the next jump takes place, whether it be on a ship in the 1800's or on a hover-bike in the far-flung future. This type of confidence in their work and in the capacity of the viewer to not only to connect but to enjoy is both brave and rewarding for all involved. The only big leap of faith that the trio have taken is with the dialogue - in particular the dialect that bookends the film. The story of a world where the earth is inhabited by the peaceful tribes of Tom Hanks and the cannibalistic tribes of Hugh Grant has its own futuristic language which is at times hard to follow and can create a distance between the viewer and events, but overall the message does break through that barrier and balance is easily restored.

A film that shows that when given the chance, The Wachowski's along with Tykwer can deliver a complex story and not let it get crushed under its own message - part two and three of The Matrix trilogy to be exact. All whilst utilising effects to help rather than hinder the overall experience, Cloud Atlas is a brave piece of movie-making and one that is well worth the time and effort that it asks of you.

UK release date: 22.02.13
Certificate: 15

Thursday, 7 February 2013


So, we all know that buses come along in threes. We also know that the movie industry has a similar trait where rival studios seem to try and bring out the same type of film sometimes only months apart from each other.

Spielberg's latest saw him focus on a (US) national treasure and rather than a full bio-pic, he concentrated the camera on just one chapter in the life of Lincoln. Well, here's your next bus pulling up!

Hitchcock, like the Berg's ode-to-the-stove, presents no back story nor events that preceded the focus of the cinematic story. You either know things that took place before the projector starts running or you don't need to know them to understand and appreciate what is about to be revealed.

And like Lincoln, what is revealed is, not unlike Hitch's Saul Bass' opening credit sequences on his films, strangely mesmerising.

Considered one of the industry's finest (or for those who wish to argue that point, then "most known") directors, Rebello and McLaughlin's screenplay focuses on the large man's struggle to deliver what would become his most greatest critical and financial success - Psycho. Aficionados of the man Hitchcock may find that this telling of the battles between him and the studio along with his more personal battles a tad "over simplified" but then for them there is the films source - the book Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho. For the rest, Hitchcock the movie is an insightful, and like the persona that he presented in his many ditties direct-to-camera on his TV show and in his trailers, a somewhat playful observation on events infront of and behind the camera.

The playfulness comes from the films two heavy-weight (and in the case of Alfred himself, over-weight) leads that, whilst still delivering very powerful performances, appear to have some fun with their roles. Especially when sparring against each other over the jealousy's concerning their partners possible infatuations and infidelities. What you get, and what you so quickly begin to accept, is the dynamic between these two with Mirren's Alma easily guiding Hopkins' Alfred towards Psycho's greatest discoveries and moments - the casting of Perkins and Leigh; the death of the leading lady much quicker than half way through for increased shock value. When she argues that she's been there for him over three decades of his movie-making, you believe it.

Like day-Lewis' performance in Lincoln, Hopkins' helps carry the film on his capable shoulders with the rest of the cast bouncing off of him ever-so-easily. Johansson as Leigh nails the "Hitchcock blonde" trying to remain professional around the man who notoriously had a unrequited thing for them whilst Biel as the example of how cold the man could be if he felt abandoned by them has to float in the background, ignored by her once biggest fan.

First major motion picture director Gervasi (his only directing so far was the documentary Anvil!) has fun playing with the camera, allowing it to move as if Hitchcock were directing himself - the long pan down through the rain across a neon-lit cinema, the fast edits when Hitch shows how the shower scene stabbing should be - which helps add to the feel that this is not only about him but could be made by him.

Enlightening, entertaining and overall a fun reenactment of a serious part in Hitch's life story, it is a film worthy of watching, which if you do, you will surely have, as he used to introduce himself, a "good evening."

UK release date: 08.02.13
Certificate: 12A

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Computer games and its entertainment rival, the cinema, have never really got along. The more money-making games market has never had  the same success when one of its own has transferred across to the silver screen. Many still shudder at the thought of Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter which led to the decline in the cross-over genre.

However, Disney have appeared to look into their back catalogue for inspiration and a way to avoid replicating the likes of Tomb Raider and have gone the Tron route - not a existing game but a make-believe one and going inside it!

And, for the most part, it works.

Here with Disney's latest animated offering, just like you would expect to find in a Pixar or an Aardman production, the attention to detail is off-the-charts. Any game-junkie will have a field day in spotting the many cleverly hidden in-jokes and references littered throughout Wreck-It Ralph. And, if you're an adult that grew up with arcade and console games then your nostalgia will well and truly be stoked as pretty much all the old classics get to make an appearance one way or another - Space Invaders, Frogger, Q*bert, Paperboy and Pac-Man all get their moment in the sun along with more recent fare such as Metal Gear Solid, World Of Warcraft and Portal. It even boils down to small-but-significant details such as: everything in Fit-It-Felix and Wreck-It Ralph's environment is all square and rectangular as his game is an old-and-dated 8 bit  model (check out the lamps etc) and everyone in it moves stiffly just like they did in the games of old. Even a "soldier" from the Halo-esque Hero's Duty reenacts the move that all people have done whilst playing a first person shooter - walking into a wall and unable to move away from it straight away.

Yes, attention to detail is paramount here but there does feel like a slight lack of this concentrated effort where the rest of the film is concerned. Pixar has always been able to blend humour for both the adults and their children in the audience, creating fun moments for all to enjoy and remember. Here, this balance is not necessarily evident, especially where the older folk are concerned. Yes there are moments for the adults - a clever rift of The Wizard Of Oz's castle guards ("oh we oh, Oreo") a Darth Vader breathing sound joke and Jane Lynch's wonderful "programmed with the most tragic back story ever"commando comment, but these are few and far between. Kids are, rightly or wrongly,are the ones mostly catered for with slapstick, toilet humour ("Why did the Hero flush the toilet? Because it was his Doodie!") and loud noises and bright colours.

Wreck-It Ralph is a great kids film but its not a classic family one. The people that will remember the multitude of in-jokes and 8 bit references that are littered throughout the first half of the film (mostly based around Game Central) may find their attention waning after Ralph game jumps into the likes of Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush which is where the children are then catered for with the figurative sugar rush of noise, colour and poop jokes. So, not a GAME OVER but you may think twice if the screen were to ask you to insert another coin TO CONTINUE....

UK release date: 08.02.13
Certificate: PG