30th Mar2014

20 Feet from Stardom – Film

by timbaros

images-141Who are the backup singers behind some of the most famous faces in the music business? The new documentary 20 Feet From Stardom introduces them to us, and what a very talented group they are.

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom is a film that puts the backup singers into the spotlight, and deservedly so.
We meet perhaps one of the most famous backup singers of all time – Darlene Love. Love had  a chance to break out from the background to step out as a lead singer but was thwarted by the controlling producer who kept her tied to a long-term contract that she could not get out of. Love, a very happy, full of life woman, has sung behind heavy hitters such as Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, and Sam Cooke and is most famous for being part of record producer Phil Ramone’s ‘Wall of Sound,’ providing lead vocals for many top hits, yet receiving very little or no credit for them. Love wound up being a housekeeper at one point in her life to make ends meet.
Lisa Fischer, also featured, is new to the backup world. With a voice as powerful as Mariah Carey, Fischer, who has toured with the Rolling Stones, is praised in the film by Sting as a backup singer with the potential to break into the the big time. Fischer does have a Grammy for one of her solo albums, yet she is still an unknown outside the music industry.
Puerta Rican Tata Vega was signed by Motown in the 1970’s as a solo artist and released several albums which didn’t sell well, so she never really made it big as a solo artist. She was relegated to the world of backup, where she has remained throughout her career.
Other featured backup singers include Judith Hill, who was booked to backup Michael Jackson on his “This is it” concert, but instead found herself singing at Jackson’s funeral; The Waters family, who have recorded background vocals for Paul Simon, Patti Labelle and Donna Summer; and Merry Clayton, whose voice graces the Rolling Stone’s “Just a Shot Away.”
20 Feet from Stardom is a fascinating and well-done documentary, and no doubt once it’s you will turn to Google to learn more about this talented group of singers.
22nd Mar2014

Starred Up – Film

by timbaros

images-139Starred Up is a brutal look into the life of Eric (played by an excellent Jack O’Connell from television’s Skins), a 19 year-old who has been transferred from a juvenile detention centre to prison.

Based on ex-prison therapist Jonathan Asser’s 12-year stint of working in an actual prison (he also wrote the script), Starred Up shows how hard it is for an inmate who is young, to be in an adult prison, even having been in and out of trouble (and in and out of detention centers) for most of his life.
From the initial scene, where Eric is marched into the prison which will become his home, where he is taken to the induction room, strip searched and asked to squat down so that the prison guards can check up his rear end, to him being marched through the prison to his cell, would be quite intimidating for anyone. But not for Eric, he seems to take it all in stride, just another day of being locked up. It does help, a bit that his father is also locked up in the same prison, though they never actually saw eye to eye on the account of his father never being there for him when he was growing up. Even though at 19 years old, Eric has no trouble adapting to his new environment, as any career criminal would. He won’t, and doesn’t, take any shit from no one, and he is the first to resort to violence when threatened by other inmates. Meanwhile, it is suggested by prison officials for Eric to join a support group with fellow inmates. At first he resists, violently, even biting one of the guard’s lower regions. Then over time goes to the therapy sessions on his own, and soon opens up to his fellow prisoners, and to the therapist (played Rupert Friend), who takes an interest in Eric and wants to help rehabilitate him. But the prison Warden has other plans and dismisses the therapist, leaving Eric to miss the meetings he started to look forward to, and which was helping him to open up about his troubled life. Soon enough Eric cascades back into a dark place, which includes violence towards anyone who even gives him a dirty look.
At 105 minutes long, Starred Up is not an easy film to sit through, the stabbings and cuttings that Eric, as well as the other inmates, inflict on each other is extremely realistic and very bloody (the use of razor blades is common). And one attempted hanging in the film is all too real. But it is O’Connell’s performance in this film that will make you sit up and take notice. In a role that required lots of violence (and full frontal nudity), O’Connell uses his youthful looks and muscular physique to portray a young inmate who can intimidate the fellow prisoners. His is a very edgy, emotional and at times an unpredictable performance. Also there are quite a few good scenes in the film between Eric and his father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn), and one in particular when Eric realizes that his father is in a homosexual relationship with his cell mate.
Eric is all grown up, now a man, who can take care of himself, he has been Starred Up (a term which means that a juvenile inmate is moved to an adult jail). And O’Connell is one actor to look out for.
22nd Mar2014

Philomena – DVD

by timbaros

images-138Philomena Lee has spent 50 years looking for the son that was taken away from her, while Steve Coogan plays the ex-government official turned journalist who helps her to find him, in the new film Philomena.

Played by a very good Judi Dench, Philomena Lee, at a very young age, gives birth to a boy out of wedlock, naming him Anthony. The baby was the result of a relationship with a man she met that unfortunately didn’t last, so Philomena ends up in a home for single mothers, Roscrea Convent, in Ireland. There she lives with other single mothers, and they are only given one hour each day to spend with their children, the rest of the hours are spent washing and cleaning and doing other chores. One day an American couple shows up to the home and takes two children with them. One of the children is Philomena’s son Anthony, the other child is Mary, the daughter of her best friend at the institution. 50 years later, and now a mother to an adult daughter, Philomena thinks about Anthony everyday, and has always wondered what happened to him. Her daughter happens to mention her story to Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, who was also the co-writer of this film), a disgraced ex-government official who is attempting to kick off a journalist career and is looking for a story to write about. He discusses Philomena’s story with his editor, and she agrees that it would be a good human interest story to write about. So Martin meets with Philomena to get more information from her about her son and to find out if she is fine with him writing an article about it. Philomena, however, doesn’t have much information to give him. So together they go to the creepy Roscrea and attempt to get Philomena’s records. They are told by the very stern headmistress and nuns that all the records had burned in a fire years ago. Drinking at a local pub, they meet a man who tells them that he had heard rumors that years ago the convent sold babies to American couples. So thus begins Philomena’s and Martin’s journey to find out what exactly happened to Anthony.

This journey takes them to America where Martin uses his contacts there to get more information. Very soon enough, he discovers that the couple who adopted Anthony (Doc and Marge Hess) renamed him Michael. He also discovers that Michael Hess was a high-ranking official in the Republican party in the Reagan administration, gay and closeted. Sixsmith also discovers more information about Michael that he reluctantly has to tell Philomena. As disturbing as the news is, they agree to press on and meet the many people who knew Michael. This includes Mary, the girl who was taken by the same family all those years ago, and Michael’s former partner.

Philomena, based on the true story of Philomena Lee, is a touching and well written film of a woman’s quest to find out what happened to the son that was taken away from her many years ago. Dench is perfectly cast as Philomena, a woman so determined and strong willed (and forgiving) that she practically makes the nuns look evil. Dench cast as Philomena is perfect casting. Look for Dench to be nominated for acting awards for this film. Coogan, in a brilliant move, cast himself as the former wonk turned journalist due to a forced career change. But it is the script, by Coogan, that is the best thing about this film. Coogan has some very good lines, lines that are at times sarcastic, and biting, even when he is with Philomena. And Philomena in turn is given very good lines herself, lines that explain her grief but also her determination and relationship with Sixsmith. Their journey brings them close, two very different people from two very different backgrounds. It is a journey and a story that should be seen by everyone.



Philomena [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Simone Lahbib, Charlie Murphy
Rating: Suitable for 12 years and over

Philomena
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22nd Mar2014

Saving Mr. Banks – DVD

by timbaros
images-31Saving Mr. Banks is a Disney film about a Disney film. So in the telling of the story of the behind the scenes of the making of the 1964 film Mary Poppins, both Disney and Walt Disney are of course prominently featured.
In Saving Mr. Banks, Walt Disney tries to persuade the author of the book, P.L. Travers, to let him turn his book into a movie. Separately and in flashbacks,  P.L Travers’ reminisces about her childhood and the relationship she had with her father.
Mr. Walt Disney (a perfectly cast Tom Hanks) flies in P.L. Travers (a very British Emma Thompson) to Los Angeles to, firstly, allow him to make her book Mary Poppins into a film (after begging her for almost 20 years), and secondly, to be there (and possibly help out) in the writing of the film, much to the dismay of the film’s songwriters – Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B.J Novak). The other part of Saving Mr. Banks is the story of P.L. Travers herself as a little girl (played by the winning Australian Annie Buckley) who, with her family, lives on a farm in Queensland, Australia, with her mom (Ruth Wilson), and father Robert (a surprisingly good Colin Farrell), and his addiction to alcohol.
Mary Poppins, in case you have forgotten, is the story of a man, George Banks, who, with his suffering wife, Mrs. Banks, search for a perfect nanny for their two children, children who have a tendency to misbehave and run off (and no previous nanny could handle them). Mary Poppins blows in (literally) to take care of the children and to set them straight. (Pamela) P.L. Travers’ father was the inspiration for George Banks.
Thompson depicts Travers as a very snooty know-it-all woman. She is insulting (always putting down the Sherman brothers lyrics), rude (barging into Disney’s offices anytime she wants), and at one point goes back to England, leaving the production, and Walt Disney, hanging. It is up to Walt Disney to fly to London to get her formal approval for Disney to finish making Mary Poppins. She finally comes around (lucky for us). The depiction of Travers in Saving Mr. Banks is not a very good one and it really effects the likeability of this movie. In the beginning of the film, as she lands in Los Angeles, the first thing she says is that it smells like chlorine.
On the other hand, there is no better actor in Hollywood to play Walt Disney than Tom Hanks. Hanks has a reputation as being the nicest person in Hollywood, and he plays Disney like he could be your own father who has the keys to the biggest candy store in the world.
The part of Saving Mr. Banks where Travers is a young girl in Australia is the best part of this film. It actually seems like a different movie altogether. Told in flashbacks while Travers is in Los Angeles, we see that her childhood was a good one, but unfortunately the father that she loved so dearly was a gambler and an alcoholic who could not take care of his young family. Buckley as a young Travers is amazing, as is Wilson as Margaret, her mother. Farrell, as her father, gives the best performance in this film as an ill-tempered yet loving man who really wants to take care of his family but cannot do so due to his addictions. The scenes play out like a dream sequence, they are very good. And then there is a woman who comes from the sky (not literally) to help the family.
Saving Mr. Banks depicts Travers weeping with tears of joy at the premier of Mary Poppins. But in reality, she did weep, with tears of horror, stating ‘Oh God, what have they done.’ So while Saving Mr. Banks is a good film, one that may make you weep, don’t let Thompson’s very negative portrayal of Travers and the fact that this film is not entirely the true story of the making of Mary Poppins put you off. It is definitely a film for the entire family.
Saving Mr. Banks is now available on DVD.


Saving Mr Banks [DVD] (DVD)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti
Rating: Suitable for 12 years and over

Saving Mr Banks
New From: £2.44 GBP In Stock
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18th Mar2014

The Full Monty – Theatre

by timbaros
images-136The Full Monty, now playing in London’s West End, is based on the 1997 movie of the same name. In case you don’t know the plot, it is about six down and out working class unemployed men, on the dole, in post-industrial Sheffield during the Thatcher years. They all need money, money to basically pay the bills, so they resort to stripping to earn extra money. And the new cast is definitely not show about stripping it all off!
The difference between this new Full Monty and the previous-staged version (first on Broadway in 2000 and then the West End in 2002) is that, even though the setting still takes place in the late eighties, the plot has been modernized to reflect society today.
The men include Gaz (a very good and confident Kenny Doughty), a young dad who did time in prison and who is trying to reconnect with his young son, much to the dismay and disapproval of his ex-wife, who she says that he will never mount to anything good; there is Lomper (a charming Craig Gazey), not very confident in himself yet decides to give stripping a go; Gerard (Simon Rouse), who has been out of work for six months yet who has been keeping up appearances by not telling his wife that he’s out of work, while she still goes out and spends money; black character Horse (Sidney Cole), named for reasons that will at the end become clear; Guy (Kieran O’Brien), a goodlooking macho type of a guy who is comfortable enough to let the guys know about his sexual preferences; and finally there is Dave (Roger Morlidge), a very large man with no sex drive, which does not matter to his loving wife Jean (Rachel Lumberg).
Forming their male strip group is easy, they find many guys willing to strip who they need the money, but the men have setbacks in trying to come up with the money to hire out a venue for their first show. They also get arrested while illegally rehearsing in a steel factory. In the meantime, as they rehearse, each guy slowly becoming more comfortable in shedding their clothes and strutting their moves. They even practice a routine, in a hilarious bit, while in a queue to get their dole money. It wouldn’t be called The Full Monty if the men didn’t entirely strip, and strip they do, everything, at the very end of the show, leaving a smile on the audiences faces, and on the night I saw it, a 10-minute standing ovation.
Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the screenplay in which the movie was based, wrote this stage version, his first time writing for the stage. He has written a show that is perfect for the stage, and the original music by Steve Parry captures the mood of the time and the mood of the men. The set is a steel factory that morphes into various locations: the front of the house where his ex-wife and son live (with her new partner), the space where the men rehearse, and where they perform at the end. And then there are the special effects (by Nick Porter) that will make you hold your breathe, including an attempted hanging suicide by one of the men, and mini explosions that take place in the factory. Credit goes to Director Daniel Evans for engineering all of this into what will probably be this spring’s best show. Unfortunately, The Full Monty, playing at the Noel Coward Theatre, has posted a closing sign on the door, so it’s last performance will be on March 29, so see it as soon as possible!

 

18th Mar2014

Parkland – DVD

by timbaros
images-134November 22nd marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. One film released that week, Parkland, is a dramatic retelling of the events of that day.
Parkland tells a story that perhaps not many people are aware of – that both Kennedy and Oswald were taken to the same hospital, Parkland Memorial Hospital, in Dallas, Texas, after they were shot.

Parkland is based on the book ‘Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John K. Kennedy,’ by Vincent Bugliosi, and is a historical drama of the events that happened on that day, November 22, 1963 –  50 years ago. Ir tells, to great dramatic effect, the stories of the key people who were involved on that day, including the hospital staff, Kennedy’s secret service detail, and Abraham Zapruder (played by Paul Giamatti), who shot the famous footage of Kennedy getting shot in the back of his head in the motorcade. Both men went to and died in the same hospital, and director and screenwriter Peter Landesman brilliantly tells this story. He interweaves new footage with footage shot on that day, including Zapruder’s film, making Parkland feel more like a documentary than an actual movie. We see the Parkland hospital staff, headed by Dr. Charles James Carrico (Zac Effron) and Head Nurse Doris Nelson (Marcia Gay Harden). We follow the secret service, headed by Agent Forest Sorrels (Billy Bob Thornton), as they scramble to find out who shot the President. We are shown, for perhaps the first time on screen, the story of the family of Oswald, his brother Robert (James Badge Dale) and his eccentric mother Marguerite (Jacki Weaver), as they realize their lives will never be the same again. Also told is the story of FBI agent James P. Hosty (Ron Livingstone), who perhaps could’ve prevented Kennedy’s assassination as he had been assigned to investigate Oswald after his return from Russia to the U.S. in 1962. While Effron may not have been the best choice to play the one doctor instrumental in attending to Kennedy, the rest of the cast is stellar, especially Giamatti and Livingstone. Parkland is an excellent retelling of a moment in American history that will never be forgotten.
Parkland is now available to buy on DVD:


Parkland - The JFK Assassination Story [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Peter Landesman
Starring: Zac Efron, Tom Welling, James Badge Dale, Jackie Earle Haley, Paul Giamatti
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

USED PRODUCT. 30 day returns if you are unhappy with your item
New From: £1.74 GBP In Stock
Used from: £1.56 GBP In Stock

18th Mar2014

The Counsellor – DVD

by timbaros
images-133Michael Fassbender. Penelope Cruz. Cameron Diaz. Javier Bardem. Brad Pitt. These are the stars of the new film The Counsellor, a film that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
The Counsellor, I think, was about a man (Fassbender) who happens to be, and known only as Counsellor (lawyer), who gets involved in some sort of drug operation. Cruz plays his wife, Lara, a very beautiful but naive woman. They have just gotten engaged after the Counsellor goes to Amsterdam to buy Lara a very expensive engagement ring. Is this why he gets involved in the drug world? To pay for the ring? It is not clear. Then we have power couple and Nightclub owner Reiner (Bardem) and his girlfriend Malkina (Diaz), who appear to be the ring leaders in the drug operation that the Counsellor gets involved in. This happened when the Counsellor met Reiner at a party and tells him about an investment where he could make a lot of money. It is a few  minutes after that we realize the investment involves a huge shipment of cocaine. The Counsellor is seduced by this proposal and soon enough gets involved. Meanwhile, one his clients, Ruth (a very good Rosie Perez), who is trial for murder, has some sort of connection to the drug underworld, but it is not clear how and to what extent. Ruth has a son, who goes by the name ‘The Green Hornet’, and he is also connected somehow to the shipment of cocaine, but we are not told how he is connected.
Anyway, as the movie confusingly continues, a man with no known name, appears to attempt to steal the cocaine. He stretches a wire across a road to enable him to kill the person who will be driving by on a motorcycle. How he knows that the next vehicle coming down the road is the person he wants to kill is not made clear. The motorcycle rider, who we can assume is ‘The Green Hornet,’ rides right into the wire, which beheads him, and the man removes the helmut from the dismembered head, and takes something from it. What does he take? No idea.
All of a sudden a character by the name of Westray (Pitt) shows up. Him and The Counsellor appear to know each other, but we are not told how they know each other. The scenes between Westray and The Counsellor are tense, but again, it is not very clear how Westray fits into the movie, only perhaps to warn The Counsellor about the deal. There is absolutely no reason why this character is needed in the film, as Pitt has no other scenes in the film.
The Counsellor continues with Reiner advising The Counsellor that there has been a problem with the shipment of cocaine and that he needs to watch his back. The Counsellor, concerned about Lara’s fate, tells her to get out of town. They agree to meet in Boise, Idaho, however, she never makes it. She is kidnapped by a gang, but who does the gang work for? We are not told. The Counsellor waits for her in Boise, she never turns up…he is extremely distraught and anxiously searches for her, until he contacts one of the drug lords who tells him that he has to live with the choices he has made. Huh? Back in Mexico, still searching for Lara, a package is slipped under his door. In it is a DVD with the word ‘Hola’ written on it. What is on the DVD? And why does the Counsellor break down at that point? Don’t know as whatever was on the DVD was not shown.
Am I giving too much away by saying that Reiner is murdered in cold blood, but by whom? and why?
This leaves Malkina as pretty much the last man (or in her case woman) standing. Did she mastermind some kind of drug theft right under the nose of her boyfriend Reiner? Did she have something to do with Lara’s disappearance? What is her connection to Westray? The Counsellor ends with her in a restaurant, speaking to what appears to be her banker, and they discuss what to do with the money. She also tells him that he too is expendable (huh?). End of film.
If the above description of the plot sounds confusing, it’s because The Counsellor is confusing. Ridley Scott directed, and his directing is all over the place. It doesn’t allow the movie to flow. The script was written by Cormac McCarthy (The Road), the first film script that he has written, and it shows. Some of the scenes don’t quite have any connection to other scenes, and the dialogue makes it hard to understand who is working with who and who is doublecrossing who. While some of the imagery is beautiful (two lions coming out of the backseat of Reiner’ car right after he’s been killed, beautiful scenes and imagery of the American southwest), The Counsellor as a movie just doesn’t work, with a star-studded cast but a less than stellar plot. Take my advice and go see Gravity, again.
The Counsellor is now out on DVD, but it’s best to avoid it.

 



The Counsellor [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz
Rating: Suitable for 18 years and over

New From: £1.08 GBP In Stock
Used from: £0.25 GBP In Stock

15th Mar2014

The Zero Theorem – Film

by timbaros
images-132The Zero Theorem is a film where, after I walked out, asked myself “what have I just seen?” The answer to that is: “I have no idea!”

I expected The Zero Theorem to be a film right out of left field, just like Director Terry Gilliam’s previous films The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Brothers Grimm. But The Zero Theorem is not even in a ball park, it is clearly in a different realm, and it makes no sense to me at all. What should’ve tipped me off as to how bad it was was when there were only 5 people at the press screening I went to. And the reaction from them at the end of the movie was not a very good one.
I was really confused about the plot after leaving the film, and then I read an article in a magazine about the film that kind of but not really cleared it up for me: Qohen Leth (a shaven-headed Christoph Waltz) works for a company called Mancom (it sounds to me like a gay dating sight, but it is not). There are very little clues as to what he does for the company or what kind of business the compay is in, but Leth’s job is to work on a project to prove that everything equals nothing (huh?). In other words, to determine if life has any meaning (another huh?).
Leth works from home, which used to be a church, but is now a burned-out wreck (it used to house priests who happened to have taken a vow of silence and therefore did not tell each other that their church was on fire), so Leth lives in a charred, dirty, rat infested place. To put it midly, it’s disgusting. He even, at times, sits in front of his computer, naked, while it keeps screaming at him “next installment is due in one hour, one must equal 100%”. So he just can’t seem to make his installment equal 100%. Are you still confused? I was too. To make matters even more confusing, Matt Damon (looking like a thiner Philip Seymour Hoffman) is The Boss of Mancom who happens to wear clothing that matches his surroundings (chair, curtains) – quite odd. The boss (called Management in the film) sends his teenage son around to Leth’s home to either 1.) do some spying on him or 2.) to help him with his job as the son is, as you would expect, a computer whizz, or 3) to try to annoy him. Perphaps it is all three, though this is not made clear in the film. Leth is also visited by a very seductive woman (unknown Melanie Thierry) who gives him a disc to insert into his computer, and when he does, it takes him (to meet her) at a very romantic and beautiful island. Perhaps this is to escape his boring life. He’s also been assigned a shrink from work – Dr. Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton) who speaks to him through his computer. Some other characters come and go but it is not clear what their purposes are.
Once in a while Leth ventures out of his house to a world that looks like London in 100 years time, with visual adverts that follow him as he walks along the sidewalk, and a skyline that looks futuristic, even including what looks to be the Shard under construction (though it was filmed in Bucharest as Gilliam prefers to shoot in that country because it is cheap for him to do so).
I find it unbelievable that 2 time Oscar-winning actor Waltz would sign up to play a part so confusing, mad, stupid, and incomprehensible, and even to allow himself to be shown in various states of undress, with a belly! The Zero Theorem cost over $13 million to make; sure the sets look amazing and the special effects are good, but you’d think they could’ve used some of the money to write a better script and hire a director who would make a movie that would be interesting and intellectual. What Gilliam & Co. have made is one big mess.

 

12th Mar2014

300: Rise of an Empire – Film

by timbaros

images-127If you liked the film 300, than you will most definitely like it’s sequel 300: Rise of an Empire even more. The highly successful 2007 original film (which starred Gerald Butler) grossed half a billion dollars worldwide at the box office, so you can imagine why another film was due. It took seven years to make it to the big screen, at a cost estimated to be in the area of $100 million, but every penny of this money is on the screen.

300: Rise of an Empire is not a sequel nor is it a prequel. It is, according to the filmmakers, a story that is told within the architecture of the first film. In Rise of an Empire, the story pits the Greek General Themistokles’ (Sullivan Stapleton, last seen in Gangster Squad, and stepping in for Butler who was slain in the first film) army made up of Greeks from various other city states pitted against the massive invading Persian army, ruled by the mortal-turned-God Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro, who was in the first movie, again wearing nothing else but gold medal on his body, which in the same amazing shape), which is in turn led by Artemesia (an evil Eva Green), the commander of the Persian forces. Lena Headey returns as Spartan queen Gorgo, ready to avenge the death of her husband. She is one tough cookie.
Rise of an Empire takes place during the same 3 days in Thermopylae (a location in Greece with a narrow coastal passage), where Leonidas (King of Sparta) faced the Persians at the Hot Gates of Hades. So Rise of an Empire basically creates a second story within the first film – 300 – so you won’t need to have seen the first film to follow this new one.
And if you have actually seen the first film, then you will remember the amazing special effects. Rise of an Empire has even better special effects, and with the aid of 3D, these effects literally triple the viewing experience. The action shifts from land (300) to the sea where the Greeks face the massive and prepared Persian army. The sea battles are amazing to watch; boats as far as the eye can see, hundreds if not thousands of soldiers on the Greek and Persian sea vessels. When they start fighting and collide with each other the scenes are very dramatic and very tense, and dare I say it, very realistic. This is how good the special effect are in this film. Thunderstorms, dark clouds, a volatile and rough ocean, muscular men ready to fight at all costs with the fighting taking place in slow motion, with Themistokles leading the way, enhances the action in this film. Artemisia leads the Persians, standing on the bow of her vessel, ordering her men to attack the Greeks. Wow! What scenes. Just amazing.
images-125
Themistokles standing on a perch, overlooking his kingdom and speaking to his people is another amazing scene that utilizes 3D to its most effect. And while I’m not a fan (and can’t really understand or follow Greek mythology), one does not need to know it to enjoy the film.
There are a couple special effects that go wrong (including a scene where Themistokles is on a horse that gallops across a burning ship, into the rough ocean waters, and then jumps onto a Persian Vessel), doesn’t look authentic at all. But the rest of the special effects all look very real. Credit goes to Director Noam Murro and writers Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad who stay very close to the storyline of the original yet successfully achieve a new movie that stands on its own. The acting is fine, if a bit wooden (this film is NOT about the acting), and if seeing hundreds of half naked muscular men, all wearing very little, is your thing, then you will enjoy 300: Rise of an Empire even more. I actually plan to see it again.

 

09th Mar2014

Drinking Buddies – DVD

by timbaros

images-129Directed and written by independent filmmaker and actor Joe Swanberg, Drinking Buddies revolves around the life of Kate (a charming and beautiful Olivia Wilde). This includes her work life at a Chicago brewery company and the relationships she has with her co-workers, including a very close one with Luke (a very good and very natural Jake Johnson). Kate and Luke have great chemistry between them. It could be sexual chemistry, a will they or won’t they scenario, or it could be that their chemistry makes them as close as brother and sister. They spend lots of time together, lots, at work, more time after work spent drinking (what else) beer, and some weekends as well.

Kate actually does have a boyfriend, Chris (the good looking Ron Livingston), a finance type clean cut kind of guy with a good job and a nice home, who leads a very structured and orderly life, opposite to the free spirited Kate. Luke is also in a relationship, with Jill (Anna Kendrick), a relationship that is heading towards marriage. But it appears that Kate and Luke make the better pair, they have a good time at work together, enjoy each other’s company, and make each other laugh. They are very compatible and very close that they seem perfect for each other. When both couples go away on a weekend trip to a cabin in the mountains, and when Jill and Chris find themselves kissing after taking a hike together, will both couple’s relationships survive the weekend?

Swanberg has directed and written such a simple, believable film about a woman who doesn’t realize how beautiful she is, and who is happy with whatever life has in store for her. Drinking Buddies is a small but very charming film, one that could’ve slipped through at the movie theatres. Wilde (who was last seen on the big screen in Rush and who was in television’s long running series House) makes the movie her own. Her girl next door attitude and warm personality makes for a great lead character. Wilde is such a natural in the role. Jake Johnson as Luke is the male version of Kate. He is also very simple, happy, and loveable, with his unshaven beard and a slightly pouchy stomach. Kendrick and Livingstone are also both very good in their roles as their other halves. Drinking Buddies is an excellent effort from Swanberg, whose previous features have been unrecognized and unnoticed (this includes such under the radar films as 2012’s VHS and over 20 others). Swanberg is also an actor, and he cast himself in Drinking Buddies in a role that has him billed as ‘Angry Car Guy.’ Drinking Buddies will put Swanberg on the map of directors/screenwriters to look out for. His next effort is a film called 24 Exposures, to be released in January 2014, a steamy film about fetish photography. But Drinking Buddies is one of those films that you can watch on DVD with either your other half or a handful of friends, or perhaps both, it is a very enjoyable film. Well done Joe. Out on DVD on March 10, 2014.

 



Drinking Buddies [DVD] [2013] (DVD)

Director: Joe Swanberg
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Ti West
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

NOTICE: Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk DOES NOT have English audio and subtitles. Luke and Kate are coworkers at a brewery who spend their nights drinking and flirting heavily. One weekend away together with their si...
New From: £3.89 GBP In Stock
Used from: £3.31 GBP In Stock

06th Mar2014

Ride Along – Film

by timbaros

images-123Kevin Hart is now the new Eddie Murphy! He was last seen in Grudge Match, practically stealing the film from both Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone, and now he is starring in a new movie tailor-made for his comedic skill – it is called Ride Along.

 The diminutive Hart (at 5 feet, 4 inches tall) is a powerhouse comedian who made his name doing stand up. He’s been seen in quite a few films over the past ten years, including 2003’s Scary Movie 3 and 2010’s Little Fockers. But it was his role as boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. in Grudge Match where he really proved his own (against heavy hitters Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone). In Ride Along, Hart’s comedic skills are put to good use as a security guard who wants to become a police officer, to prove that he is worthy of marrying the beautiful Angela (Tika Sumpter) but is thwarted at every turn by her over-protective brother James Payton (Ice Cube), who is an actual police officer.
In order to prove to Angela, and to Payton, that he can make it as a police office, Ben Barber (Hart) applies for and gets accepted to the police acamedy. He then ‘rides along’ for a day with his potential brother-in-law to see and feel what it is like to be a cop. Ben is a video-game junkie, but he wants to experience first-hand what being a cop is like, and in addition prove to James that he has what it takes to care of Angela.
But little does Ben know that James has set him up with many dangerous (and funny) situations.
Think of Ride Along as Training Day with lots of laughs. As this is what Hart provides, laughs at every turn. His first ‘assignment’ is to tell some of the rough Hell’s Angels motorcyclists to move their bikes as they are parked in a handicapped area. They stand their ground, trying to intimidate Ben, and they do, but Ben stands his ground. Of course, these Hell’s Angels were there as a setup that James arranged! In another scene, Ben has to restrain a large man who appears to be going crazy in a grocery store, having poured honey all over his body. It is up to Ben to restrain him, and literally getting stuck to him. You won’t see any other comedian doing this type of stuff in any movie, I guarantee you. But the main plot of the film is where James is investigating, and trying to capture, one of the city’s most dangerous criminals, Omar. Of course, Ben gets jist of the investigation and you can image how the film is going to end.
While Ride Along may not be intended for serious audiences, it does, fortunately, know this and creates situations for Hart to show his very funny side. And while the script may be a bit predictable, it is the jokes that are not, and it is Hart’s delivery of the jokes and the situations that he is in that makes him ready to take the crown of King of Comedy that Eddie Murphy once held many years ago. Ride Along features cameos by Laurence Fishburne (as Omar) and John Leguizamo.
06th Mar2014

Gravity – DVD

by timbaros

images-122Gravity, out now on DVD and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, literally kept me holding my breathe for the entire duration of the film. It is that intense, dramatic, and excellent.

Winner of 7 Academy Awards including one for Director Alfonso Cuaron, George Clooney is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski and Sandra Bullock is novice astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone. They are together, along with three others, on a space mission aboard the Space Shuttle Explorer. While attempting to repair an exterior nodule on the Hubble Space Telescope, they are told to abort the repair by Houston Mission control as there is space debris heading their way from a Russian missile strike on a satellite in their area. Stone is the technical analyst attempting the repair (and who chose to be in the job due to a personal tragedy, a job to escape her sadness on Earth). Kowalski, who is on his last mission in space, is smug and comfortable in his role as the veteran astronaut, always with a joke or two up his sleeve. As the debris gets closer, they both scramble to try to get back into their shuttle. Before they are able to do so, they get pummelled by the debris, while their shuttle (and the telescope) break apart. Stone then becomes untethered to what is left of the telescope and is catapulted into the darkness of space, spinning and spinning into the darkness. Still communicating with each other by radio, but losing their connection to Houston, Kowalski successfully attempts to retrieve Stone using his jetpack and together they go back to what is left of their shuttle, only to discover that it is completely damaged, and the three astronauts that were inside are dead. They decide to head towards the International Space Station, which is about 60 miles away. As they get closer to the space station and attempt to grab it, one of Stone’s legs gets hooked to it, and, as Kowalski doesn’t want her to lose the opportunity to get into the Space Station to try to get back to earth, he detaches himself and floats away.
Without giving too much away, Bullock encounters one problem after another, and to top it off she is running out of oxygen. As the film continues, so does the drama and intensity, and you’re still holding your breathe.
In the beginning when Gravity first started I couldn’t stop thinking that it was George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on the big screen (and not their characters). They are huge Hollywood stars whose names precede them. While Clooney’s character is what we would come to expect from him, smug, joking, look at me I am very handsome, Clooney appears to be playing himself. However, Gravity is Bullock’s film. Any actress making us believe that they are an astronaut, all alone in space, in the very dark with just the curve of the earth down below, struggling to survive, overcoming one problem to another, it is Bullock. In Gravity, she proves that she is a true actress, one of the best ones today. Sure, her previous films have not required very much in the way of acting (though she did win the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Blind Side), in Gravity Bullock is able to display her acting chops like she has never displayed them before. Bullock spends most of her time in the film in isolation, which makes her performance all the more remarkable. She is excellent in this film.
The technical aspects of Gravity are what make this film stand out from all other. The scenes of being in space is amazing, the darkness with no sound makes it eerily spooky and very realistic. The cinematography is a sight to behold, and Director, Writer, Producer Cuaron has made a film that in 50 years from now people will be calling it our generation’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gravity has to be seen on the big screen. It has to be seen, period.

 

03rd Mar2014

Academy Award Winners

by timbaros

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OSCAR WINNERS of the 86th Annual Academy Awards:

Best Picture

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

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Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

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Best Actor

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Supporting Actor

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyer’s Club

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Best Supporting Actress

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave

Oscars Host: Ellen DeGeneres

Oscars Host: Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres hosts the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Best Costume Design

The Great Gatsby

Best Makeup

Dallas Buyer’s Club

Best Animated Short

Mr. Hublot

Best Animated Movie

Frozen

Best Visual Effects

Gravity

Best Live Action Short Film

Helium

Best Documentary Short

The Lady In Number 6

Best Documentary Film

20 Feet From Stardom

 Best Foreign Language Film

The Great Beauty

Best Sound Mixing

Gravity

Best Sound Editing

Gravity

Best Cinematography

Gravity

Best Editing

Gravity

Best Production Design

The Great Gatsby

Best Original Score

Gravity

Best Original Song

“Let it Go” from Frozen

Best Adapted Screenplay

John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Best Original Screenplay

Spike Jonze, Her