Movie Review of the Week

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2014 – Annabelle
Review by James

You know, I watch a fun-filled, shriek of a horror flick like Annabelle, get all excited at having jumped like an 8-year old girl at the scary bits, then what do I do next? I make the mistake of reading reviews. Ironic I guess, as this is essentially one, and I am expecting to be read.

Now I love Margaret and David, and they gave Annabelle 2 and 1.5 stars respectively. Then I read another review by some twat who in the same turd of an opinion, stated that the film is a cliché, then why isn’t this more like Chucky. Because it involves a doll. Please. What ever happened to making a decent ride that doesn’t pretend to be high art, or “cinema”. What is wrong with throwing a heap of cliché’s at an audiences and then trying to resurrect it in other ways like brilliant sequences, that yes, often make you forget plot flaws. But, that genuinely freak you out in new ways. Despite what most critics are saying, Annabelle has many truly frightening moments, and most are unexpected. Also, there are surprising sequences that you actually say later, “why hasn’t that been done before?” The elevator scene being a prime example.

Now as frightening as it is to me, I saw Chucky in the original Child’s Play when it was released, and it was savaged by critics. Multiple sequels later, it is considered a trash classic. And then there is the simple fact that horror is attacked so often I really do wonder if reviewers actually make the effort to watch the whole movie. And no, I do not agree with the idea that there is a lot of bad horror made, I agree with the fact that alot of bad film is made, period. Horror being one of many genres.

So to Annabelle. It is true, turn off every day life. Prepare to be scared and enjoy. The opening section (as it is more than a sequence) is unexpected, filled with frights and fun. I feel I can say this as its been written about so often already, no, don’t expect the doll to walk across the screen. I can just imagine the stones that would have been throw if it had. But that really isn’t the story, which I find so frustrating that hasn’t been pointed out. The doll cannot be seen to move as it would be ridiculous along side what the central character of the mother is supposed to be seeing. And then there is the criticism of priests and demons. Well, maybe we should start telling Hollywood to stop making movies about romance because its so cliché. Please… again.

Fuck the critics. Annabelle is a truly enjoyable rollercoaster for those who enjoy their horror with jumpy bits. Ignoring the continuing trend to up the gore in horror these days, it is a fun, well made film that doesn’t take itself seriously in essence, but delivers a serious array of shots to the fear factor.

5 Stars from me, and I will be buying the DVD. Ha!

The Impossible

2013 – The Impossible

So we all know what this movie is about before we go in to watch it, the cataclysmic tsunami that exploded on Boxing Day 2004. But what you don’t know is the journey this movie will take you on and make you appreciate what you have once you leave the cinema, yes folks, it’s one of those movies.

Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts play Henry and Maria, a British couple living in Japan with their three children. The families have jetted down to Thailand on Christmas Eve to try out a luxurious new holiday resort.

And then, disaster strikes. An irreversible tidal wave descends in mere seconds pretty much wiping everything out of its way. Henry and Maria and the kids are all separated in a second, he ends up with two of the younger boys and she ends up with the eldest son. Once the horrific ordeal is over, and let me tell you, it’s horrific to watch, it’s a search of human spirit and finding hope in a bleak circumstance.

There’s nothing much to this fact-based film, story wise…It’s in the sheer resilience of the characters that the film finds its drive.
Based on a true story, this is brilliantly shot by Spanish Director Juan Antonia Bayona and brilliantly acted by all its cast, a very impressive movie, Naomi was totally robbed of the Oscar.

This is one of those movies that needs to be seen on the big screen, so go out and watch it, maybe don’t go on a full stomach…just sayin!

2012- Movie Review – The Pact

Finally a horror movie I can get on board with. The Pact is a low budget supernatural thriller from first time director Nicholas McCarthy.

After their mother passes away, sisters Nicole (Agnes Bruckner) and Annie (Caity Lotz) return to their childhood home to finalise things. While staying in the house, the sisters separately and at different times sense something isn’t quite right with the house with lights constantly turning on and off, objects moving, fridge door being left open you get the drift…the girls also seem to have recurring horrible dreams about a man without a shirt on sitting on the edge of the bed.

My fellow horror film fanatic video shop owner dude who recommended this to me (yes I still hire out movies) referred to it as a good horror movie with training wheels and that’s exactly what it is.

So back to the movie, after a quick eerie chat with her daughter, Nicole gets lured into the dark doorway of the house, which she then disappears into….forever!

Things then shift over to the other sister. When she finally arrives home she sees no sign of her sister at all, she thinks Nicole, who has struggled in the past with drugs and alcohol is on another bender. When strange things continue to happen in the house and Annie realises that her sister could actually be in danger, she enlist the help of local cop (Casper Van Dien) and the abilities of medium (Haley Hudson) who is totally awesome in the role. Annie and the cop start investigating the dead mother and her connections to the creepy house and bad deeds that seems to be going on inside the house, sorry to be brief but I can’t say much more. But I can say that in a nice twist, Annie discovers that the small house has an extra room, which makes you believe that the house may be larger on the inside then it is on the outside…that’s it, nuff said!

I’ve seen a million of these movies, but what is good about this one is that it’s original and actually creeped me out. Let’s just say that it’s been years since that has happened.

The acting is great, the music and cinematography is creepy but good and it’s smart and fresh in a way I haven’t seen in a long time.

I found myself getting legitimately scared watching The Pact, which is credit to director Nicholas McCarthy who seems to know his shit. It just goes to show you don’t need a big budget or cast to shoot a great movie, you just need originality and a good script.

Get it, buy it, hire it and watch it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

2012- Movie Review – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Review by James

I must admit I thought the whole premise behind this flick was hokey to say the least and initially only went to see it as Mr Legend, Tim Burton, is co-Producer. After seeing the film, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only was the movie really entertaining, but also, there is much to read in its back-story. Especially concerning the screenwriter.

Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the screen adaptation, bases the movie on the novel of the same name. Now for those who don’t read books much, you may have heard of a crazy little publication, which sold big in the US, called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. A mash up of the original novel… with zombies. Grahame-Smith also wrote the screenplay for Burton’s recent Dark Shadows. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is much the same kind of vein as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and is a truly original, quirky idea. The Abe Lincoln story follows the faux story of as a nine-year-old boy, Lincoln witnessed his Mother being attacked and killed by a vampire, leading him onto a journey of revenge that broadens into the parallel of his rise to future Presidency. Odd. Yes. Entertaining. Yes again.

Now while this film has bombed in the US, I do believe this is chiefly due to the “re-writing” of history re the much hailed Abraham Lincoln; THE President who fought for freedom and an end to slavery. Not because it’s shite. This is seriously a hoot, with great special effects and some serious action sequences. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian Director behind 2004’s v.cool action/vampire Russian flicks Nightwatch and the follow up, 2006’s Daywatch, this movie does come with some serious cred. Bekmambetov also Directed 2008’s box-office smash Wanted with Angelina Jolie, so action is in his blood. The man knows how to direct both an action and fight scene. Starring Benjamin Walker (best known for dating Meryl Streep’s daughter and looking like a young Liam Neeson), Dominic Cooper and Rufus Sewell (2006’s The Holiday), star power hasn’t been focused on within the rumoured sixty-nine million-dollar budget. Never-the-less, all involved are engaging and well cast.

I say go see. It is a truly unique film and vampires are cool here. Not slobbering over each other. They’re all nasty!

2012 – Movie Review – Hysteria
Review by James

As recently written about, Hysteria opened last week in Oz, and it ain’t a bad little film. This is seriously one of those films that a cinema buff is surprised and delighted to see get made. Not that it is a movie that will blow your mind, but none-the-less entertaining. And, it must have done relatively well OS, as its currently playing in 15 cinemas across Sydney as we speak.

Starring the charismatic Maggie Gyllenhaal (welcome back to screens!), alongside the positively charming Hugh Dancy in the leading roles, Hysteria is the story of the invention of the vibrator. Naturally with a love triangle, some well placed co-stars for comedic balance, and an interesting take on British “cheek”. When I say “cheek”, think those endless Carry-On films from the 60’s and 70’s, and of course defining British television such as Are You Being Served? and The Benny Hill Show. If that has turned you off, don’t let it. There are many reasons to go see.

As well as the very watchable leads, Rupert Everett (his face doesn’t move) co-stars with Jonathan Pryce. Everett camps it up as a wealthy, sexual deviant, but also balances out the properly formal lead character of Dancy. Pryce also balances out Gyllenhaal’s character as her Father, playing formality of the times to her Socialist beliefs and behaviour. Under the backdrop of woman seeing doctors to get their rocks off when it ain’t happening at home, this film is cheeky, while also being more overt for a current audience yet never extending past a point of decency or gratuity. Ok, not family fun, but a great couples flick. Neither too much chick nor dick.

2012 – Movie Review – May

On my recent trip to LA, I visited the guys at Amoeba Music on Sunset (fyi -the best record store in the world) and asked them to give me their favourite horror movie to take back home with me, and May it was!

I think it’s important to talk about independent horror films, if it wasn’t for the independents out there in Hollywood pushing the envelope on little money and a whole lot of imagination we would never witness brilliant and delightful films like May.

The film opens with May (Angela Bettis) a very lonely girl with no friends a lazy eye and quite frankly very weird looking. May has an over-protective mother who as a child gave her this creepy looking doll encased in glass, whilst giving May her fragile doll she whispers “If you can’t find a friend, make one”…May took this a little too literally and made the doll her one and only friend from infancy to adulthood, did I mention the doll speaks to her as well?

Originally the film opened with a lengthy introduction to May as a child. But when the film appeared to be taking too long to get to its point, most of those scenes were cut.

As an adult, May still obsessed with the doll and still without friends falls for beautiful man who has the perfect hands (Jeremy Sisto), encounters a strange friendship with a lesbian co-worker (Anna Faris) and becomes even weirder if that is at all possible.

During the movie we see May observing body parts from people around her, whether it be a beautiful long neck, or soft delicate hands she starts displaying the traits of a young Psychopath, get the drift.

So, basically that’s all I can say without spoiling the movie too much but let’s just say that the young outsider decides to use her own unique method of creating the perfect friend….yikes!

I know this doesn’t sound like one of the best horror movies of late but trust me, it is!

This debut feature from Lucky McKee, won’t disappoint!

2012 – Movie Review – The Devil Inside

The Devil Inside is a 2012 American horror film directed by William Brent Bell and written by William Bell and Mathew Peterman.

So James and I, both horror/possession/zombie fans decided to go and watch this flick together on its opening day, and this is my two cents.

The Devil Inside is a  documentary-style found footage type of film about Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) who becomes involved in a series of exorcisms during her quest to find out what happened to her mother Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley), a woman who murdered three people as a result of being possessed by what most believe is to be the devil, yep the devil is back with shaky camera and all!

This is about the umpteenth time that another shaky camera, raw footage possession flick has hit the cinemas and quite frankly I’m getting bored!

Ok, so the movie told in a mockumentary type of film, and it lets you know firsthand that the Catholic Church do not affiliate themselves with the movie you are about to watch. The next shot is at a crime scene, watching what seems to be real crime scene footage that is the aftermath of an exorcism gone array.

We then cut to 2009, where Maria’s now grown daughter hopes to find out what happened that night with her mum and why her mum now resides in a prison for the insane just outside the Vatican in Rome. With her cameraman friend she heads to Rome to meet her mum for the first time since the murders. The next scene is Isabella and the cameraman sitting in on an exorcism class at the Vatican (like really, you can just walk into the Vatican and sit there in the class and film it, the Vatican, really, come on people)!

After the class, Isabella meets a couple of young totally unbelievable good looking priests who go around town performing renegade style exorcisms. They invite Isabella and the cameraman along to their next exorcism and you can work out what happens from then on in, that’s right, everyone gets possessed and I mean everyone bar the Pope himself!

It was OK until 2/3 of the way in and then it just got lazy to the point where the ending is just a botched cop out. Although in saying that, the mother Maria Rossi, was great in her role acceptable and eerie enough although James couldn’t stop laughing at her.

My problem with these types of movies is that no one has said or done anything new since The Exorcist, nobody’s made “the other great exorcism movie” so I just find myself constantly comparing these new possession movies with the amazing 70’s flick which actually said and meant something.

The film received extremely negative reviews from critics and audiences alike. Despite the negative reaction, the film topped the box office on its opening weekend, yet continued to drop drastically in the second week, before disappearing completely from the box office top ten.

Look a few moments might scare the weak hearted but I believe it to be another straight to DVD possession film…next!

2012- Movie Review – My Week with Marilyn
Review by James

Both Loz and I have been prattling on re the release of this movie for a while now, and as of last Thursday here in Oz the wait is finally over. For those in Australia, I did see that Margaret and David both gave it 4.5 stars, so I felt it was going to be worth the wait. And, it was.

With a substantial supporting cast including Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormond as a most underrated Vivien Leigh, and Kenneth Branagh as Sir Lawrence Olivier, My Week With Marilyn is a completely engaging film that is worthy of the hoopla and inevitable Oscar nominations that have come with. I actually feel bad not mentioning several other supporting cast including some instantly recognizable British actors, along with Dominic Cooper and Emma Watson. All lift this film, and play seamlessly into the web that Ms Monroe spins. I will say though that in reflection, the film is actually a little slow in spots, but I’m not sure whether it’s the enduring appeal of Monroe, or the utterly convincing portrayal by Michelle Williams that glues you to the screen.

Firstly, Michelle Williams is nothing short of breath taking. For someone like myself who has been a fan of Marilyn Monroe since puberty, this is no telemovie. Many have been made over the years, and yes I have watched them. All, unfortunately, sinking into sad old midday TV melodrama. But this is enchanting, and incredibly, cleverly made. Which is why it’s quite ironic that a Director known mostly for his work on TV series and made-for movies is at the helm. Simon Curtis creates a view that is iconic and both realistic and dreamlike. Seeing Monroe work the media, frustrate her colleagues, and then oscillate between temptress/little-girl-lost/nightmare, is intriguing. Her presence is enough. Period. She always did consume the screen. And Curtis manages to capture this with severe close-ups while lit brilliantly. Go see!

But, before you go, Colin Clark. Writer of the book, and our heart-on-sleeve hero, whose life is changed by this “week”. Eddie Redmayne is practically unknown to me but is completely charming in the lead role of Clark. Uncomfortable and insecure re Monroe’s advances, his job is truly well done. I see a big future for this guy.

Though if I haven’t gushed enough, Michelle Williams… YOU ARE AMAZING!

2012- Movie Review – Underworld Awakening – Selene, I believe
Review by James

I can be swayed by many a thing but even I was sceptical at the 4th instalment of Underworld. Having seen the 3rd, 2009’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Yes, Kate Beckinsale is a totally hot actress that rivals Monica Bellucci for me, but hey, what about the flick?

Going as open-minded as I could have, I had read reviews that Michael wasn’t anywhere to be seen and suddenly there was a girl thrust in the middle and I thought come on!?! But, reviews are misleading, and clearly wrong. First of all, if you haven’t seen the original Underworld and Underworld: Evolution, this will fall completely flat. Details will screw the whole thing up. This is a substantial re-entry into a franchise that is both cool and entertaining. And it ends leaving open a sequel ready and waiting. Frustrating yes, but this is cool stuff. Who would have thought seeing Beckinsale in period costume years before would have led her here. But here is cool. Michael is as present as he can be. And, the 3D element enlivens the slap. Strap on the 3D glasses!

This movie is fun, entertaining and for the fans. Be ready. Underworld 5 will be with us soon.

2012- DVD Review – Abduction
Review by James

I find a lot of interest in the details of life, and first of all I’d like to say why the hell was this movie called Abduction??? And the flaws begin from there….

Taylor Lautner is of course practically a household name these days with the Twilight franchise, and one must break free of that old romantic triangle, so someone obviously thought let’s make him and ACTion star – at 17/18 mind you. And I highlight “act” because while it all may be an act (or is that sham), the guy isn’t exactly good at acting. Pouting, flexing, and generally sexualising male teens, seems to be what he is a great vehicle for. I do find this makes anything he does occasionally uncomfortable; firstly as in Abduction the abs and guns (muscular arms for those unaware of the lingo) are over-saturated on purpose.

Anyway… Don’t get me started there as then we get on to sexualising teens in general (male and female) and I’ll end up seeming like an old fuddy-duddy.

The film hasn’t done so well and has been rushed to DVD. I’m sure many a teen that thinks he’s hot will be into it, but the film is incredibly flawed. Many supporting cast members sweep in, disappear, re-enter or die and it’s not a shock worth going through. It merely makes you question… WTF? Certain action sequences are cool, the 2 leads sort of connect, but the relationships between the leading “man” and the entire supporting cast are vacant. And disturbingly so. At times, it feels like Lautner is on a moving photo shoot for Teen Wet-Dream magazine. But the basic plot is flawed at core too, and the sum of all these parts makes a truly runny mess. Tred with a truly open mind. And watch where you step.

PS – Sigourney Weaver. What are you doing LEGEND?!? And you know you are. We all need to make a crust, but not ONLY are you Ripley (!!!!), you are also a vital part of what we all know will become a franchise of the biggest grossing film of all time – Avatar. Why be involved with sub-par schlock?

2011- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Review by James

With a new year ahead, many studios must be quaking in their designer boots with the uncertainty of the market in 2012. With a 4 percent drop in box office ticket sales across 2011 globally from the year prior, many films that were supposed to bring in the moocha-cha simply didn’t. Personally, I don’t think it’s that simple. Inflated marketing budgets may bring a stream of punters in that wouldn’t have even looked at a flick otherwise (because they didn’t know about it), but you have to look at the quality of film that flopped. Because word of mouth eventually takes over. But also, you have to look at the over-riding reasons why others succeeded. In my opinion, 2011’s Top 10 on either side of the noose makes sense. Well, most of them…

The Top 10 Grossing Movies of 2011

1.        Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Worldwide gross: $1.3 Billion
Come on. It’s the 8th. This was completely inevitable and I see no point in telling you why as you should know. Like it or loathe it, it was also the final instalment in the mammothly successful series.

2.        Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Worldwide gross: $1.1 Billion
I have to say this surprised me. With King Knob Shia LaBeouf promoting this film, at the time I thought people would avoid in droves. But, it seems action and family with a franchise in tow can make the money. Oh, and the merchandise to take home.

3.        Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Worldwide gross: $1 Billion
Again, no real surprise here. Interesting though without Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Seems Johnny Depp really was the star of the show.

4.        Kung Fu Panda 2

Wworldwide gross: $663 Million
I have to say, in my perhaps naïve view… why????

5.        The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Worldwide gross: $648 Million
I think there are a lot of closet Twilight fans out there. You know it. We all wanted to see them GET IT ON! But, was I the only person disappointed with the birthing scene? Though I haven’t read the books, I hear in said scene via book, the little bub tries to eat its way out. Why wasn’t that included?

6.        Fast Five

Worldwide gross: $626 Million
This is truly a WTF situation for me. I believe the 4th was a surprise revival of the Fast and the Furious franchise after the crapola second and vaguely entertaining third. Hence, let’s make a fifth why don’t we. Its not like Vin Diesel and Paul Walker had anything pressing to do otherwise. Let’s face it, you know after this there will be a number 6. Churn and burn baby.

7.        The Hangover Part 2

Worldwide gross: $581.5 Million
Hmmmmmmm. Seems fart jokes still sell big.

8.        The Smurfs

Worldwide gross: $562.4 Million
As far as I know, I know NO ONE that saw this joke. Seems I am the one deluding myself. How? And, why?

9.        Cars 2

Worldwide gross: $551.9 Million
Seems the kiddy films are where it’s at.

10.     Rio

Worldwide gross: $484.6 Million
Even Twentieth Century Fox managed to squeeze some dough out of parent’s wallets around the world in 2011 via the animated film section. It is very interesting to look at this Top 10. This sort of on-going trend will shift studios further than they have already.

And then we come to the Flops. Please remember, budgets listed below don’t include marketing dollars spent, so have a think about that…

The Top 10 Box Office Flops of 2011

1.        Mars Need Mums

Budget: $150 Million; worldwide gross: $39 Million
Naturally I didn’t see it, but someone was probably shot at Disney after the release of this animated film.

2.        Sucker Punch

Budget: $82 Million; worldwide gross: $89.8 Million
Remember these budgets are minus Marketing. Even I have to say this film was utterly disappointing. Visually, amazing. Virtually zero plot and bad acting. It does sadden me with Director Zack Snyder having delivered the much-loved 2006 300 flick and a personal love of mine: 2009’s Watchmen. The next thing he has up is 2013 release Man of Steel. Yes, the new Superman reboot. Let’s hope he doesn’t botch that!

3.        Arthur

Budget: $40+ Million; worldwide gross: $45.7 Million
The biggest surprise here was that Helen Mirren went anywhere near this rehash. I felt resentful of Russel Brand and embarrassed for Jennifer Garner. The original 1981 Arthur was of its time. This was pathetic.

4.        Green Lantern

Budget: $200 Million; worldwide gross: $219.9 Million
Someone’s head was probably removed with these figures. Though, I say did anyone really think about it? The movie itself was a shambles. Casting was terrible. The special effects overcame everyone. Ryan Reynolds was a massive gamble for a budget like this as he is way too goofy no matter how many times he is contracted to take his shirt off. And the ever-repulsive Blake Lively. I can believe there may be a far-away group of aliens that all wear pretty rings and stand around shooting green light into the sky when they’re aroused en-mass, but Lively as a scientist or engineer??? I tuned out. And, Peter Sarsgaard. I understand the money that would have come with your role in this “blockbuster”, but come on man!!! You are better than this!

5.        Cowboys and Aliens

Budget: $163 Million; worldwide gross: $178.8 Million
Having seen this film, and seriously going out of my way to see it, at first I was trying to understand how this wreck cost $163 Million. Even with Harrison Ford’s pay-cheque. Then the second thought was, I have no idea how it made $178.8 Million.

6.        Glee: The 3D Concert Movie

Budget: $9 Million; worldwide gross: $18.7 Million
Marketing dollars alone would have killed this. TV ads in Australia were on rotation for weeks. The show works on TV, not as a potential cash cow.

7.        Conan the Barbarian

Budget: $90 Million; worldwide gross: $48.8 Million
I find it strange this remake was ever made.

8.        I Don’t Know How She Does It

Budget: $24 Million; worldwide gross: $30.5 Million
It is odd that people keep giving Sarah Jessica Parker these sort of high profile roles when they always bomb. Going behind the scenes for a few years until the whole Carrie Bradshaw thang has died down a bit more might just be the ticket. I did say previously this had clunker written all over it, but the shock I had when I realized the Weinstein studio was behind this film… gee-zus! Boys what were you thinking?!?

9.        The Thing

Budget: $38 Million; worldwide gross: $27.4 Million
John Carpenter’s 1982 classic was a flop on release and has since become a massive cult film. Maybe this supposed prequel (but really just a shitty remake) will become one as well… Doubtful. I actually fell asleep in it.

10.     The Big Year

Budge: $41 Million; worldwide gross: $7.4 Million
On paper this film may have seemed like gold with Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson leading the cast. But it seems, we all didn’t think so.

So there you have it folks, a wrap up of the best and worst performing flicks of 2011. You know, I think we can all do better than this in 2012. Go out and support cinema. Because the fact is, every one of us loves it in some form.

New Year’s Eve
Review by James
I have to admit that I go to movies like New Year’s Eve at the cinema because my wife enjoys them. It’s what some of us guys do. I’m not saying that as a film buff I wouldn’t have eventually seen this film; as I am a true believer in the theory that if you want to hate something, you really have to know what its about. And that’s all good. So if you have any doubt, this film is really in the tradition of 2010’s Valentine’s Day, and rightly so, as it was directed by the same guy. The legendary Garry Marshall.

Now before you or I write off a piece of Big Mac-like cinema (with extra cheese), one has to look back. Garry Marshall was not only executive producer on TV classics such as The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and one of television’s most charming sitcoms, Mork & Mindy, he was also the director of films such as 87’s Overboard (one of my all time favourite comedies), 1988’s Beaches, 1990’s Pretty Women, and 2001’s The Princess Diaries. Whatever your taste, the guy has made defining TV and film. Zero doubt.

So, be prepared, and simple remember that New Year’s Eve is a treasure chest of celeb faces and its all kept fairly light. The story may be thin, and the deliberate “twist” at the end where you are led to believe a certain coupling will come together (hence twist….) is a wee trite, but it is a no-brainer Saturday night viewing where everyone walks away filled with hope and the spirit of a new year to come.

Well, I think that was the message.

Fright Night 3D
Review by James – Opened in Australia yesterday – 15.09.11 

I wrote about this legendary 80’s horror comedy remake coming out earlier on aclockworkfiction.com,  and the wait is finally over! Loz and I went to see this schlocky reboot last night and it is hilarious! I will be laughing for weeks!

Don’t think about it. Go see it!

Meet Monica Velour
Review by James – DVD release in Australia, no cinema release

It is unfortunate that a film such as Meet Monica Velour doesn’t even get a small number of cinema releases down under, but it has just hit DVD. In the tradition of the hysterical cult classic Napoleon Dynamite, MMV is a film worth checking out, even if it is to see everyone’s favourite sexy minx, Kim Cattrall, in a role she truly owns like Samantha.

The film stars Dustin Ingram as Tobe (mostly known from TV including a guest role on Glee), as a small town awkward teen, obsessed with 70’s/80’s heyday porn star Monica Velour. Problem is, it’s 30 years later. When the chance to sell his hotdog van coincides with a rare appearance of the aging porn star in a far off state, Tobe hops on his ride and crosses the country to meet her. What transpires is a coming-of-age story mixed in with an unlikely friendship where Tobe realizes the woman he is obsessed with is nothing like the film-fantasy he is in-love with.

Ok, the movie does have a few too many Napoleon moments where you realize there is far too much leaning in that direction, but the film truly has warmth. You like Tobe. And Cattrall’s Velour (real name Linda Romanoli) is so far from her Jimmy Choo’ed Sex and the City; you have to admire her gusto. The tragic opening Cattrall scene is proof enough. But her performance is a surprise and I give her the utmost credit for that. She owns it.

Look out for Brian Dennehy too. He steals every scene he’s in.

Meet Monica Velour is a small indie comedy that won’t change the world, but is worth supporting. Check. It. Out.

Daria Morgendorffer is my new hero!

Who is Daria Morgendorffer you ask? She is an animated television series character created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn from MTV. The series focuses on Daria Morgendorffer a smart, outcast who observes the world around her. The show is set in the fictional suburb of Lawndale.

Daria is a spin off to Mike Judges’ animated Beavis and Butthead series, in which Daria appeared as a recurring character, the series was originally broadcast from 1997-2002, its just recently been released on one entire box set series, and its selling like HOTCAKES, Daria has arrived!

The series follows Daria a middle class monotone speaking teenage girl, dealing with day to day life and all the idiots she is surrounded by, she is a loner and outcast and is the most sarcastic teen you will ever meet. Lawndale is filled with archetypes, and Daria is there to not only observe but to shoot them all down and that she does, one by one. She has been described as a blend of Dorothy Parker, Fran Lebowitz and Janeane Garofalo wearing Carrrie Donovan glasses, well what do you expect, it’s not her fault she is smart and everyone else is stupid!

The series follows Daria through school with her best friend Jane Lane who also shares her droll sarcastic views on high school life, together these two are kick ass, with witty punch lines coming through one after the other.  I watched this entire series through two sittings, not since Twin Peaks has a box set captivated me so much, I was constantly pausingto stay on top of all the brilliant onelines, cudos to you writers!

Daria was one of MTV’s highest rated shows, and I know why, its brilliant, its well written, the two leading woman are strong and independent, it has great characters and you can relate to certain aspects of Daria’s no bullshit I can see through your crap attitude. This series is perfect for the MTV generation, I just wish the tweens of this world today followed Daria rather than the likes of Brittney!

I am Bored…..And I think there’s more than 4 of us!

 

I am number four
Reviewed by James

I Am Number Four is a sad old little flick presumably for the younger demographic. But I fear, even the younger demographic will think this blows. Turns out for those that read novels, James Frey had his hand in this shamozzle of an out-put.

Ok. It didn’t do well at the box office and then slipped on quickly through to DVD rental release but what the f is Disney doing? Sorry, Touchstone. James Frey. Does anyone one recall him from the Oprah-slammed-novel “Million Little Pieces”? Seriously, I read it. And Harold, blah, blah…. And Bright Shiny Morning. Great books. But what is this????

I Am Number Four follows John ( Alex Pattyfer), the obvious new “Next-Big-Hollywood-Thing” on the block, teamed with Glee hottie, Dianna Agron. He’s an alien on earth. Coming to terms with his powers. Has a guardian – did Timothy Olyphant agree to this because he thought it would be big or because he thought he was over??? Clicks with a geek who’s Father was a UFO nerd and died. Meets a girl who’s on Glee. Come on! What rot! Is that it???? I was more focused on the iPhone product placement in the film. It goes NOWHERE.

Let it go people. Forget it. This film will die as soon as its “new release” DVD tag is over.

Ps. There’s an Aussie girl as number six. Don’t expect to hear of number five, as powers that be were assuming a sequel or series. Mentioned Aussie girl is regrettable as the person with a worse accent than Robert Downey Junior in Natural Born Killers.

Last Chance Harvey, 2008
Reviewed by James

Written and Directed by British filmmaker Joel Hopkins, Last Chance Harvey is anything but a Richard Curtis film. Released in 2008, if you watch the trailer on the net, I think someone was trying to mislead us in this profitable direction. It’s disappointing, actually. As Last Chance Harvey is a subtly sentimental romantic drama that is a rare offering. It offers very little in terms of roller-coaster emotions or secrets revealed, but a mild plot that allows two of cinema’s great actors to truly take centre stage.

Getting ‘round to my latest batch of weeklies from the local DVD rental, I remembered interviews from the leads – Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson – at the time LCH was released. They’d worked together on stage and hoped to work together again. Mutual admiration. An uncommon ease with working together. This script drops onto Thompson’s desk, and Hoffman’s loves it too. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I assumed it had to be decent. Maybe not great, but worthwhile seeing.

The Plot – Harvey Shine (Hoffman) travels to London for his daughter’s wedding. He’s a failed Jazz musician and makes his money writing or playing jingles for which he looks about to lose his job. What follows his arrival in London is his increasing sense of isolation and failure as he is asked by his daughter if her step-father can walk her down the isle; continuing doom re his work position; and the reminder that he is alone and his family including ex-wife has moved on without him. Kate Walker (Thompson) is a single 40-something who is a regular blind-dater via well meaning friends and colleagues, but whose life seems to revolve around work at the airport and her Mother’s incessant phone calls. She has her routines, but she finds an uncomfortable safety in her disappointment of life. Then through a series of circumstances, they meet.

What I loved about this film is its simplicity. The minute details of the leads are never exploited for leaps in emotion, and the easy sub-plots of additional characters are warm and sometimes amusing, but never overshadow the central relationship’s slow bloom. These are people who are neither high-flyers or outrageously good-looking. Their jobs are neither envy-inducing nor repellent. They are everyday in many ways and relatable without making you nauseous. The relationship itself is interesting as it’s a connection that is based on understanding that lifts them both as it draws them together. And the film never pushes this to a cliché.

So, clear your mind, grab a glass of red, and watch this film. Its not heavy or sappy. It’s a unlikely romance-driven flick that is intelligent, warm, and compelling.

Office Space, 1999
Disgruntled Office Workers Unite

Office Space was released in 1999 to box office disappointments (why are these disappointing box office movies always my favourite) and has since become another one of those word of mouth “cult following” movies. Maybe it’s because most of us work in offices and totally relate to this movie.

Peter (Ron Livingston) is a slave to the corporate world and just can’t see a way out of his job or life. He loathes his work and his boss even more, he thinks about leaving his job on a daily basis but at the same time is scared of being “laid” off. He is constantly reminded about his TPS reports, has the slimy of slimiest boss’s Lumberg (Gary Cole) and pretty much complains constantly about his job to his two co workers Michael Bolton, no not that one (David Herman) and Samir (Ajay Naidu).

The opening scene shows Peter walking into the office and almost instantly fleeing across the road with Michael and Samir for a coffee at Chotchkie’s. That night he attends a hypnosis session with the intention of reducing his stress and pure hatred for his job. During hypnosis, Peter’s hypnotist kneels over and dies of a heart attack, leaving Peter in a constant state of relaxation and bliss, this is where the fun begins as Peter emerges into the office a “new man” much to Lumbergs disapproval!

There’s a love interest played by Jennifer Aniston and a computer virus scheme copied from Superman 3 that goes terribly wrong.

Like I mentioned early, this movie grossed approximately $10m at the box office but has generated a wider audience with the DVD sales. Phrases from the movie have entered the popular mainstream culture such as “Got a case of the Mondays”, “Pieces of flair”,  “TPS reports”, “ Did you get the memo”, “PC load letter, what the f*ck that does mean” …and many more. There’s a great scene where the guys finally having enough of the communal printer, steal it and take it to the nearby park to hit the crap out of it with baseball bats while the rap song “Damm it feels good to be a Gangstar, by the Geto Boys” plays over the top of the scene in slow motion, this is a great example of music and scenes timed perfectly!

Office Space is also based on the short “Milton” by Mike Judge. The film has a lot of great lines and chuckles, again it’s not cinematic history but its cleaver, especially with the introduction of “The Bobs” two external Management Consultants who have been hired to lay off staff for cutbacks. Let’s face it, every Company brings in the Bobs sooner or later, even the “Wear your Hawaiian shirt to work day” makes you cringe.

Office space isn’t the strongest of plots, but it works and is relatable, it’s probably in my top ten favourite movies….. Just don’t even ask me if “I have a case of the Monday’s”!

Napolean Dynamite, 2004

Chapstick Anyone?

From the rural town of Preston, Idaho, comes Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder). With his sweet moon boots, liger drawings and illegal government ninja moves, he is my kind of man.

Is the brother of Kip (Aaron Ruell), who’s seeking his soul mate in online chat rooms,  nephew to Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), the Uncle who is stuck in his “glory” days of high school football and lives with Grandma (Sandy Martin), who enjoys feeding her pet lama Teena and going out to the dunes on her quad-runner more than she enjoys looking after her grandkids.

Napoleon spends his days drawing magical beasts, working on his computer hacking skills to impress the chicks, and tormenting Teena. When his friend Pedro decides to run for class president, it’s Napoleon to the rescue to help him triumph, really, who else can make “all your wildest dreams come true”?

This was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival and has gained much word of mouth since making it the cult hit movie of the year!

Plot – Napolean is what some consider a “freakazoid of nature” with his moon boots, afro hair, thick rimmed glasses, high waisted denim jeans and zero school friends.  As I mentioned before he lives with his grandma and brother who at 32 still lives at home and is unemployed but spends all his time “cruising” online dating sites searching for his soul mate. When Grandma is injured, Uncle Rico is asked to come and  look after the boys as they are incapable of looking after themselves. Uncle Rico lives in a trailer and is stuck in the past of his high school football days, he tries to sell tupperware but just ends up making out with all the wives in the suburbs. In the meantime Napoleon finally meets some friends in the way of new student Pedro (Efren Ramirez) and potential love interest shy Deb (Tina Majorino, who sells glamour photos as a side job).

Pedro decides to run for school president alongside popular Summer (Hailey Duff) and calls upon his mate Napoleon to help him win the title! Can Napoleon win the election for Pedro, get the girl and finally draw the perfect Liger (a cross between a lion and a tiger, derr) and become the school’s tetherball champion?

Napolean and his family could be plucked right out of rural anywhere, we are encouraged not to laugh at them too much, but it’s very hard not to. Napolean has no idea that he is the “weird kid at school” (which is kind of enduring in a way) with a killer 80’s wardrobe anyone from that era would die for.

Written and Directed by husband and wife team Jared and Jerusha Hess, this film is funny, witty and lighthearted, with some killer sweet classic one liners.

If you like your comedy dry, this one is for you, if not, maybe you should go and watch another Adam Sandler movie!

Boxing Helena, 1993

Let me start by saying that this is a bizarre film experience to say the least. It’s well stated that it’s the directorial debut of Jennifer Lynch daughter of David Lynch (need I say more). Why I feel the need to watch this movie over and over again is beyond me, but something draws me back to it, maybe it’s the great music score (anything with Tears for Fears in it, is ok with me) or maybe it’s because it has one of my favourite actress’s in it Sherilyn Fenn, who knows. What I do know is that it’s a head scratcher and the overwhelming numbers of negative reviews never intimidated me, rather stirred my curiosity.

So about the movie – A Surgeon, Nick Cavanaugh played by (Julian Sands, or as I like to call him Creepy Creeperson) becomes so obsessed with the young and vivacious Helena played by (Sherilyn Fenn) who he once had a brief affair with many years ago, refuses to accept that he can never have her again, decides to throw a lavish party to try and win her over one last time. As Helena is leaving, she is involved in a hit–and-run that takes place right in the front of the Nicks house. Rather than call 911, Nick kidnaps her, amputates her limbs and then holds her captive in his mansion (do you see what I mean folks).

There was a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, after Madonna and Kim Basinger both backing out of the title role, Lynch then settled on Fenn (who in my opinion, nailed it)!

After a lengthy breach-of-contract lawsuit, Basinger was ordered to pay the film’s producers eight million dollars in damages. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, but the damage was done by all the scathing reviews on its release. From what I know, it bombed at the box office and Jennifer’s career for many years following.

Look, this film isn’t going to make cinematic history but it’s clever, quirky and terribly underrated in my opinion, give it a go, the soundtrack alone is worth the weekly hire.

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