31st Oct2015

San Andreas (DVD)

by timbaros

images-371The eagerly-awaited film San Andreas is one of the worst scripted films in recent memory. It’s also a very frightening and almost realistic look at what could happen to California if a major earthquake takes place.

San Andreas, in case you didn’t know, is a fault line that runs roughly 801 miles through California. It’s a tectonic plate that, scientists confirm, will shift, hence causing a major earthquake in that region. The film San Andreas imagines this catastrophe, which practically ruins the state of California, first by earthquakes, and then by a massive tsunami. It’s bone-chilling yet stupid.

The film begins with a young woman driving along a cliff who is distracted by her cellphone. A rock slide takes place, causing her to drive off the cliff with the car nestling on the edge of some rocks, hanging by a thread. Swooping in is Ray Gaines (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), a Los Angeles Fire Department search and rescue helicopter pilot, who comes to the rescue with his team and saves the girl. It’s a metaphor for real events in his life; his youngest daughter drowned and he’s still feeling mega guilty about it. It was also an event that led to the breakup of his marriage to Emma (Carla Gugino), and led her into the arms of mega millionaire building developer Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd). Ray soon discovers that Emma will be moving in with Riddick, taking along their only daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario).

Meanwhile, scientist Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) and his team discover a previously undetected fault line near Nevada’s Hoover dam. They go there to inspect it, and while they are there, on top and inside the dam, a major earthquake hits. Lawrence is sparred but a member of his team is killed while trying to save a young girl. This earthquake triggers the San Andreas fault line to become active, setting off a massive earthquake up and down the coast of California. Buildings shake violently then fall down, many people die by getting crushed, while Emma is dining at a posh restaurant (with Kylie Minogue). She phones Ray for help and is preposterously saved by him and his helicopter while the building underneath her is collapsing. They then go on a mission to find their daughter, who is in San Francisco with Riddick.

San Andreas then becomes not just a disaster movie but an unintentional comedy. In one scene, Blake asks Riddick why he never had any children. He points to a brochure of his buildings and says ‘these are my children.’ Also, in what can be described as the worst line in screen history, Ray tells Emma ‘It’s been awhile since I got you to second base’ after parachuting into San Francisco’s AT&T Baseball park after enduring death and destruction and also almost losing their lives. And it gets worse. The San Francisco skyline changes from scene to scene (and not just because some buildings fall down) – San Andreas gets worse and unbelievable as the characters continue to survive.

And when you think the characters (and yourself) have had enough, a Tsunami starts to form. Emma and Ray ride into the tsunami on a boat that literally pitches up vertically, only to be sucked under a massive cargo ship – and they survive. And most stupid of all is that, they actually do find their daughter, trapped inside a building with a young British man and his younger brother (both with posh British accents) – and they seem to be the only people who have survived in San Francisco. The filmmakers have obviously applied creative license to a real-world threat, but with a horrible script and unbelievable life and death situations, San Andreas is a fault that never should’ve woken up.

25th Oct2015

Big Eden (DVD)

by timbaros

Grace comforts HenryThe award-winning gay romance film Big Eden is celebrating it’s 15th anniversary by being re-released on VOD and Blu-Ray.

It’s a film that takes us back to the simpler times; pre 9/11, a time when the hardest thing one had to most worry about was being single in a large city.
Henry Hart (Arye Gross), a very successful NYC painter, and eternally single, finds out that his grandfather, who lives alone back home in Big Eden, Montana, has had a heart attack. So foregoing a big opening for his latest artwork, and much to the behest of his very pregnant assistant Mary (Veanne Cox), Henry jumps on a plane to be with his grandfather Sam Hart (George Coe).

Going back home, to a state with beautiful lakes and mountains, brings back lots of memories for Henry. First of all, it’s where he met his first love Dean (Tim DeKay), a man who ended up leaving town and getting married. It’s taken a while for Henry to forget about him, including years of therapy. Back home is also where lots of his old friends still live, including Grace Cornwell (Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher), now a schoolteacher who was the one who informed Henry of his grandfather’s condition. Henry goes back home to a place that accepts his sexual orientation, times have changed and so has the community. Local busy body Widow Thayer (a very funny Nan Martin) makes it her job to nose into other people’s business and arranges teas for local people to ‘meet.’ Once she sees Henry back in town she arranges a tea lunch for Henry with the local single women, but when she realizes he’s gay, she arranges a tea lunch with the local gay men. But it’s not any of these men that Henry is interested in. He’s back in town specifically to take care of his grandfather and is not interested in dating any of them. But soon enough he finds out that the very good looking Dean has moved back to town with his two sons. Seeing Dean again brings back memories from the past, and also questions as to why they never got together. Meanwhile, Widow Thayer has volunteered to cook dinner for both Henry and Sam as Henry claims that, being a New Yorker, he simply doesn’t know how to cook. So for the first few nights Thayer makes and brings over dinner, but it’s local store owner Pike Dexter (Eric Schweig) who volunteers to take over the cooking duties. He buys recipe books to make the most delicious meals, meals that he delivers to the Harts but always saying that they come from Widow Thayer. When Pike delivers the dinner, he quickly leaves, never staying to join Henry and Sam when asked to. Pike is something of an enigma in town, he’s quiet, reserved, but at the same time tall and strong. Pike seems to be hiding something, is it something about Henry’s homosexuality perhaps? Henry stays on in Big Eden as his grandfather continues to improve, he appears to be in no rush to get back to New York. Will Henry decide to stay in Big Eden permanently and leave the big city behind? Do Henry and Dean finally hook up? Why is Pike to mysterious? And what does Widow Thayer have up her sleeve next?

Director and writer Thomas Bezucha crafts a beautiful romantic film with characters who could be from anyone’s hometown. The actors are all wonderful in their roles. And it’s a credit to Bezucha and his team that the setting is perfect. Every last detail is thought of and captured on film, and certain shots are set up perfectly, from the beautiful landscapes to the items in the local grocery story. Plus the country and western soundtrack gives the film a perfect flavor. It’s a must that you watch ‘Big Eden’ as it takes us back to a simpler time. It’s one of the most romantic gay films of all time, and proving that yes, you can always go back home again.

‘Big Eden has won numerous Audience Awards at several film festivals and in 2001 was named Best Fiction Feature at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Best American Independent Feature Film plus Best Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival.

‘Big Eden’ is available for the first time on Blu-Ray, new HD version for VOD, which includes new bonus materials

25th Oct2015

The New Girlfriend (DVD)

by timbaros

images-368Francois Ozon is back with a film that follows the same winning formula of his previous films – quirky, sweet, funny and dramatic, and a bit off the wall.

In The New Girlfriend, we get best friends Laura (Insild Le Besco) and Claire (Anais Bemoustier). They grew up together, went to school together, and basically shared their lives together. Laura was the first to get married, to David (Romain Duris), and the first to have a baby. Claire eventually got married, to the very handsome Gilles (Raphael Personnaz). They both remained very very close after their marriages, but unfortunately Laura gets very sick. Claire makes a promise to Laura that she will look after her baby and David in case things take a turn for the worse. They do, as Laura passes away.

So Claire owns up to her promise, and a few days after the funeral she decides to go to David’s house to check up on him and the baby as she’s not heard from him. She enters the house via an unlocked front door and discovers David dressed as a woman! So in typical Ozon fashion, the plot takes a turn for the wacky as Claire accepts, and even encourages David to dress up as a woman, naming him Virginia, and even accompanying him on his first trip outside the house dressed as a woman. It’s a different type of relationship that develops between Claire and David. It’s a relationship not just between a man and a woman, but between two women. Their relationship takes a turn for the emotional and the sexual, and Claire is torn as to what to do. She has to make a decision, stay with Gilles, or start a new life with David and the baby.

Ozon, at the age of 47, has given us many memorable films, including 2012’s In The House and 2002’s 8 Women. His films are different, not mainstream, and he tend to include LGBT characters in them. And they almost always include twists to the storyline that are unexpected but provide for full entertainment. The New Girlfriend’s plot doesn’t stray far from this. It’s a film that, while relatively simple, engages us with characters who are interesting and a plot that is very different. And the actors, like in any other Ozon film, are in top form. Duris is superb and perfect as David/Virginia. He looks good as a man but perhaps even better dressed as a woman. Demoustier is perfect as Claire – the woman torn between feelings for her husband yet fascinated by this new ‘person’ in her life. And Personnaz is very good as Claire’s husband – he doesn’t have much to do, but he’s very good at it. The New Girlfriend is a fun movie that you will thoroughly enjoy.

The New Girlfriend is now available to buy on DVD.

21st Oct2015

North V South and Howl (Film)

by timbaros

5374North V South

It’s a battle between the North versus the South UK gangsters in the new release appropriately titled ‘North V South.’

Elliott Tittensor plays Terry Singer. His late father was a gangster so he’s following in his dad’s (and ailing mother’s) footsteps. However, ‘North V South’ doesn’t begin with his story (it should), but it’s a macabre opening when a man dressed (clearly broke) as a clown walks into a restaurant with his young daughter, which happens to be gangster hangout. Two gangsters are at the end of the bar, but they walk away, leaving a wad of cash on the counter. Clown man sees an opportunity to take the cash and run, which he does. He get’s into his car but then remembers that his daughter is still in the bathroom (really? Forgetting your daughter? hmm). So he goes back inside, only to be confronted by the gangsters. He’s shot and killed while his young daughter watches. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film.

One team of gangsters is led by Vic Clarke (Steven Berkoff) while other gang is led by John Claridge (Bernard Hill). They are adept at extorting money from local businesses, but when one gang starts to encroach on the territory of the other gang, all hell breaks lose. Brad Moore plays very evil lieutenant Gary Little. He will kill anyone anytime anywhere. He’ll even kill his partner if he has to, whether ordered to or not. The rivalry gets more complicated after Singer starts dating, and falling in love with Willow (Charlotte Hope). She happens to be the daughter of Claridge, but Singer’s loyalties lay with Clarke. Meanwhile, the young girl left behind by the dead clown is taken in by Clarke’s team, being looked after by Penny (Freema Agyeman). She’s been part of the team since she was a young girl, so she literally shows the ropes to the young girl (isn’t anyone searching for her? Why doesn’t she run away from these strangers?). Throw in a transvestite hit man and an ending where a gangster gets burned but somehow is able get up and continue shooting all makes for a disbelievable film. ‘North V South’ is visibly stunning, with a soundtrack to equal, it’s just not very well done. It’s like tuning into a television series that’s already shown a few episodes. We know very little about some of the main characters, don’t know their motives, and find it very hard to believe several of them are gangsters. It would be best if they all just kill each other and put them, and us, out of their misery.

North V South is now in UK cinemas


The 23:59 train out of Waterloo causes all sorts of chaos for its crew and passengers in the incredibly frightening and fun film ‘Howl.’

Poor ticket collector Joe (Ed Speleers). He’s just been passed over for a supervisor position and has been ordered (by the new supervisor) to do a double shift. This means that Joe will be overseeing the last train out of London on a night that is dark, stormy, and with a very full moon.

Along for the ride is the train conductor, and Kate (Shauna MacDonald), who’s pushes the beverage cart. As Joe checks the passengers tickets, he encounters all sorts of people; a very large man eating a kebab that looks bigger than him, a young woman chatting on the phone who totally ignores Joe’s request to see his ticket, an older couple going home from a night on the town, a stressed out businesswoman, and various other types typically found a train.

After Joe checks all the passengers tickets, the train comes to a sudden halt. He makes an announcement on the intercom that there will be a ‘delay’ to service. The conductor goes outside to check the train, and goes under the train to check it out, but he’s grabbed by someone, something. He never returns back to the train. Joe and Kate don’t know what’s happened to him, and the passengers start to get angry. Meanwhile the sound of werewolves pierces the night sky. With the train stalled for quite some time, Joe then decides they should get off the train to walk along the tracks to the next station. But this proves to be a bad decision because as they are walking, they see something moving in the bushes, and it’s a few seconds later that they see some sort of creature. They run back to the train, but the older woman is bit on the leg. It’s chaos all around as they don’t know what to do. Joe and Shauna and all the passengers get ‘safely’ back onto the train, but still not knowing what’s out there. They board up all the doors and windows, but they turn out to be sitting ducks on a track where several people mysteriously disappeared on a train many years ago. There’s nothing they can do, it’s up to Joe and Kate to keep them calm but at the same time fighting off whatever’s out there in the hopes that whatever it is doesn’t get inside the train.

‘Howl’ is 89 minutes worth of scares and chills. It’s a ride into the unknown where the crew and passengers must band together to survive. It is at it’s scariest when the cast is battling an unknown creature, but ‘Howl’ loses a bit of it’s fright when the creature is shown about halfway through the film. Nonetheless, it kept me holding my breathe throughout, and I did jump a few times. And that’s what horror films should do. Go see it, it’s a howl.

Howl is now in UK cinemas and will be released for Home Entertainment on 26th October

19th Oct2015

The Program (Film)

by timbaros

UCP_01023_LARGE_PRESS SITE-2Director Stephen Frears brings us the rise, and fall, of cycling champion Lance Armstrong in the new film ‘The Program.’

We all know Armstrong’s story: winner of the Tour De France for a record seven times after surviving what was supposed to be a fatal diagnosis of stage 3 testicular cancer; and suspicion and later a confession by him that yes, he did dope on every tour that he had won. Based on the book called ‘Seven Deadly Sins: My pursuit of Lance Armstrong’ by Sunday Times Journalist David Walsh, ‘The Program’ takes us through Lance’s career highs, and eventually, his very low lows. But for being a cycling film about competition, stamina, drugs, celebrity, and money, its not a very exciting film.

Walsh is played by Chris O’Dowd, and ‘The Program’ is his story told through his eyes and how he uncovered what is the biggest doping scandal in sports history. It’s about how he pursued and investigated Armstrong and was persistent in finding evidence that Armstrong was doping.

‘The Program’ begins in France in 1993 where 21-year old Armstrong (played by a determined Ben Foster) is riding his first Tour de France. He’s young, cocky and confident, but two years later he’s diagnosed with cancer. Determined to come back better than ever, Armstrong pushes himself to the limit, and he fully recovers enough to go back to professional cycling. But he starts taking EPO (Erythropoietin), a drug that makes athletes go faster. It’s a drug that he procured from a French pharmacy and later from French doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet). But Armstrong makes one mistake while he’s in the hospital for his cancer treatment; he tells the attending doctor about all the drugs he is taking or taken, including the EPO. His friends, fellow rider Frankie Andreu (Edward Hogg) and his wife Betsy (Elaine Cassidy) overhear this and Betsy questions Andreu who has told her that he as well has taken EPO. During this time a team doctor has been caught with performance enhancing drugs, which leads the police to raid the Tour only to discover that drug use is normal.

Armstrong fully recovers and is asked to be part of the U.S. Postal Tour de France Team. Armstrong, and the rest of team, are blatantly doping. In ‘The Program’ we see deliveries to their trailer, needles put into shoes and, after injected, put into soda cans. Meanwhile, Walsh is hot on the tails of Armstrong. He tries to convince his editor that his instincts are correct, and says “Is it real or is it dope?” At the same time, Armstrong creates a cancer charity called Livestrong, where we see, in the film, him giving speeches to raise money for the charity.

Armstong wins not just one, not just two, not just three, but seven Tour de France championships in a row – the most ever wins in a Tour de France. In the meantime, Dr. Ferrari is arrested by the police for his illegal drug dealings. And Walsh finds a link between Ferrari and Armstrong that makes his case, and story, more credible. Fellow teammate Floyd Landis (Jesse Plemons), who was part of Armstrong’s team and who doped as well, and who wins the Tour de France in 1995, has his blood tests come back positive for testosterone. He’s stripped of his title, and Armstrong doesn’t accept him into the next year’s team, which becomes the catalyst for Landis to confess about the Armstrong, and the rest of team’s dope usage. Meanwhile, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency starts investigating Armstrong. At press conferences, Armstrong vehemently denies doping. But almost everyone in the rooms knows he’s lying. And Eventually Betsy (former rider Frankie Andreu”s wife), and others seek out Walsh to tell him all they know about Armstrong. Insurer Bob Hamman (Dustin Hoffman) has been hearing rumors about Armstrong, and if the rumors are true, will save his company $5 million in payouts to Armstrong for his win. It’s 2009, and Armstrong wants to make a comeback, and Landis ask to be let back onto the team, but Armstrong says no because he got ‘caught’ which becomes the Lloyd’s catalyst for Landis to confess about the rest of team’s (and Armstrong’s) dope usage. Meanwhile, Armstrong takes third place, very bitter that the new star on his team, Alberto Contador, has beat him. And Finally, we see Armstrong, after all these years, and allegations, on the Oprah Winfrey show, in which he tells her, and us, that yes, he’s been doping on every tour that he’s won. And hence his downfall, not just from racing, but from everything. Sponsors drop him right and left and his career, and perhaps his life, is left in tatters.

‘The Program’ follows the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of one of the biggest celebrities in the world of sport. But somehow director Frears misses his mark. Frears, who brought us the fantastic ‘Philomena’ and ‘The Queen,’ – both movies about two determined, strong and powerful women, doesn’t quite know how to grasp the story of a man who is conflicted by his quest for winning versus his choice to dope. His Armstrong is a bit of a cartoon character, a man who seems more possessed and less determined. And the women in his life are non-existant. There is Armstrong’s 2008 marriage to Anna Hansen in the film, but there’s no introduction to his first wife Kristine (with whom he had three children), nor his 2003 relationship with singer Sheryl Crow, nor his 2007 relationship with designer Tory Burch. Foster is fine as Armstrong, if a bit too passionate and overwhelmed, while O’Dowd is his usual self, dramatic and comedic when needed. But screenwriter John Hodge appears to have taken Walsh’s timeline of what’s in the book line by line without creating any dramatic license to make the film a bit more lively. And while there is exciting footage of bike races (and actual footage from the Tour de France), it’s not enough to make ‘The Program’ worth a view as it does not present us with anything new about Armstrong.

17th Oct2015

The Lobster (Film)

by timbaros

IMG_0214.CR2Imagine a world where if you can’t find a parter in 45 days you will be changed into the animal of your choice. That’s what ‘The Lobster’ is all about.

Colin Farrell plays David. He looks like he could be an accountant; glasses, a bit overweight, squarish nerd type, and just been dumped by his wife. Him and a few dozen other people check into a hotel. It’s not just any hotel, it’s a hotel where men and women are expected to find a compatible partner during their stay there. They’re deemed compatible if they both have something in common; for instance a favorite color or a favorite pastime. And homosexual couples are also part of the mix in a world in the future where society has changed, and so has it’s requirements.

The hotel manager is played by Olivia Colman – she runs the hotel like it’s a prison. And in way it is. The rules are lengthy, complex and must be adhered to. All those detained are issued uniform clothes to wear so that no one stands out. They also must follow a rigorous schedule that includes eating meals at set times. And of course the one main rule is that the ‘guests’ must find a suitable partner amongst the other hotel guests by the end of their stay.

David instantly makes friends with two other men who are also staying at the hotel; John C. Reilly plays ‘Lisping Man,’ (lots of characters in ‘The Lobster’ don’t have proper names, just adjectives to describe them). He’s overweight and is a schlub. Ben Whishaw plays a character also known for his trait; Limping Man. These men form a friendship of sorts and it’s a bit of a race between them to see who can find a partner before ‘their time is up.’

It’s Limping Man who finds a partner first. She’s got a constant nosebleed (Jessica Barden – Nosebleed Woman). So in order for Nosebleed Woman to fall in love with him, Limping Man causes his nose to bleed by hitting his nose, thereby creating a characteristic trait that makes them both compatible. They get married and are ‘assigned’ a child to make their relationship stronger. Meanwhile, various animals walk around and near the hotel and at some point these animals were human beings who were not able to find a suitable partner.

The Maid of the hotel (Ariane Labed) takes an intense liking to David. Their relationship turns sexual and emotional, and since she can’t leave the hotel, she helps David to escape. He escapes into the woods and is soon in the hands of the renegade Loners. They’ve dedicated their lives to everything that the Hotel isn’t. But this group has rules as well – it’s everyman for himself. There is no coupling of any sort, and actually there’s very little freedom amongst the members of the group – with it’s leader (Lea Seydoux) being very dictatorial, and cruel and cold. David has run away from an authoritarian society to another. And when he falls in love with a fellow Loner member Short Sighted-Woman (Rachel Weisz), the rules that they have to adhere to make it harder for them to live the lives that they want.

The idea for the very unusual script for ‘The Lobster’ came about through discussions with the writer and director and about how people feel like they always needs to be in a relationship; how other people see those who can’t make it; how you’re considered a failure if you can’t be with someone; and the lengths people go to in order to be with someone. Director (and co-writer) Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), with fellow co-writer Efthimis Filippou, tells a tale of two different worlds; one where couples live, and one where singles (loners) live, it’s a parallel world, one that takes a look at how we are as a people. ‘The Lobster,’ which won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a highly unusual film – one with great humor, and with great sadness, and with some violence. It’s unusual and that’s what makes it unique.

12th Oct2015

Suffragette (Film)

by timbaros

110414SH_18307.nefThe plight of the British women who fought for the right to vote is beautifully told in the excellent film ‘Suffragette.’

‘Suffragette’ is told through the eyes Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) in London, 1912. She works in a local factory, the Glass House Laundry in Bethnal Green, is married to fellow factory worker Sonny Watts (Ben Whishaw) and they have a young son. Watts has actually been a part of the factory since she was very young: her mother worked in the same factory and would strap her to her back when she went to work. Her mother died when she was four and Maud started working part-time there at the age of 7. At the age of 12, she started working full-time. She’s now a lead washer where she makes 13 schillings a week (compared to the salary a man is paid for the same job – 19 schillings a week). Watts has also been sexually molested by the hard core boss Norman Taylor (Geoff Bell). One day Watts is asked to accompany another women who’s to speak at Parliament about women’s working conditions and a bill to give women the right to vote. Watts wasn’t supposed to speak, but the other woman, Mrs. Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff) had been beaten up and didn’t look presentable, so Watts is thrust into giving the preprepared speech. Watts speaks from her heart, and from her experience, ignoring the script that was written. This lights something within Watts and turns her into an activist. She gets more more disgusted at the lack of women’s rights, and even more so when she sees young factory worker Maggie Miller (Grace Stotter), Violet’s daughter, being groped by Taylor in his office. Taylor is a sexual predator who believe women have no rights, and he tells Watts to ‘leave the vote to us.’

But Watts’ pleas to Parliament are not enough. They say that there is not enough evidence to support the bill. The women rebel in front of the Houses of Parliament; many are thrown to the ground by the police with little regard for the women’s safety. Some, including Watts, and fellow protestor Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter), are sent to jail, where they are humiliatingly stripped naked. But this doesn’t deter them, and this leads to Watts becoming a member of the ever increasing suffragettes – a group of women working full-time to advance the rights of women. The Suffragettes are led by Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) – a woman who has given up her life to further the cause. She’s also in hiding for fear of getting arrested for leading the movement (during those times women had very little rights). Determined police inspector Arthur Steed (Brendan Gleeson) puts the women under surveillance – he won’t let them carry on with their protesting and letter box bombings – he wants them all arrested, especially Pankhurst, and calls the women the “East London ladies.” But Pankhurst rallies the women – she tells them at a gathering in a speech from a balcony “We would rather be lawmakers, not lawbreakers.” The women continue their protesting, even resorting to bombing an M.P.’s house, just to get their message across. But Watts eventually loses more than what she bargained for, but she’s more determined than ever to fight for the cause.

‘Suffragette’ tracks the foot soldiers of the early UK feminist movement, working class women who were forced to go into hiding to pursue equality. They were willing to risk, in their fight, their jobs, homes, families, and for some of them, their lives. And it’s a great movie. The film lies heavily on the shoulders of Mulligan’s portrayal of her character, a fictional character but someone who we route for every step of the way. It’s an unflawed performance that hopefully will see Mulligan receive an Academy Award nomination. Streep, who shares top billing, is only in the film for less than five minutes, but her character’s presence is felt all throughout the movie. Carter is perfectly cast as the local pharmacist and fellow activist, with a husband who supports her every step of the way. Carter is actually the great-granddaughter of Herbert Asquith – the Prime Minister during the time this movie takes place. Director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), working from a script by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady), successfully and beautifully blends in actual footage of the real protestors into the film, in a film that effectively uses dark lighting and unglamorous costumes to set the mood of the times. And while the plot may be familiar (the recent Made in Dagenham follows a similar plotline), ‘Suffragette’ is an important film to highlight what women did to get equal rights. And we have to be reminded that they are still fighting, and in some countries around the world (Saudi Arabia), women still have very little or no rights.

10th Oct2015

Regression (Film)

by timbaros

"Regression" Day 33 Photo: Jan Thijs 2014A detective investigates the case of a young woman who accuses her father of a crime, a crime where there might be more going on, in the psychological drama ‘Regression.’

Ethan Hawke stars as Detective Bruce Kenner and Emma Watson plays Angela Gray. Gray makes a confession to Reverend Beaumont (Lothaire Bluteau) that her father has abused her. Kenner is brought in to investigate, and once he does it takes him into a world that involves Satanic Ritual Abuse. ‘Regression’ was actually inspired by a wave of events that occurred in the U.S. during the 1980’s; events that involved the occult that destroyed families, caused chaos, and panic, and led to several people being imprisoned.

Set in a small community in the Midwest in the 1990’s, Kenner discovers that Angela’s father (David Dencik) is an alcoholic, that her mother died when she was very young, and that her alcoholic grandmother, whose also an alcoholic and very eccentric, is somehow linked to a local satanic cult. It’s up to Kenner to investigate Angela’s accusations while piecing together her troubled family background and at the same time dealing with his own nightmares and demons.

‘Regression’ literally mean going back, and that’s what Kenner attempts to do with Angela’s past. ‘Regression’ is structured like a crime story where there is no proof of the crime that was committed, unfortunately it also has a plot that doesn’t make much sense and some scenes that are laughable when not intended to be, and a couple characters who don’t fit into the story. The cast is a strong one; Hawke coming off the highly successful ‘Boyhood’ while Watson is one of the hottest young actresses around, but between them they can’t save this film.

Director and writer Alejandro Amenabar, who gave us the bone-chilling 2001 film ‘The Others’ with Nicole Kidman, doesn’t quite make us believe the events being told in this movie, and has a long way to go before he can top ‘The Others.’

07th Oct2015

Suffragette press conference

by timbaros

FullSizeRender-1Here are some quotes from today’s Suffragette press conference at The Lanesborough Hotel in London:

Attendees were:

Meryl Streep
Carey Mulligan
Abi Morgan – writer
Sarah Gavron – director

“It was a detective job to unpickle the research. All the stories are buried. Actually, my daughter had a dress-up day at work and two girls were dressed up as Suffragettes” – Morgan

“The term Suffragettes has to do with suffering” – Streep

“When reading the script, I remember Googling to check if this really happened” – Mulligan

“There are so many stories that haven’t been told. There is history that women have been shut out of” – Streep

“I didn’t know that back then the age of marriage was 12, that women had no further claims not only to their names, but to their children and property” – Streep

“It’s about a working girl” – Mulligan

“This film is to mark the achievement of these women. I really understand what women went through to get the vote” – Mulligan

“In making a film like this, it will circle the globe and will make an impact” – Streep

“There are people in the world still living like 1920’s London” – Streep

“This has been (director) Sarah’s passion for ten years” – Morgan

“We were interested in the ordinary woman, to make it connect to all woman today” – Morgan, when asked why Meryl Streep is in the movie for only 5 minutes

“The men’s part were not big enough” – Morgan, when asked why there were no male leads in the film

“I’ve never had to fight” – Mulligan – “We also fight for people who are not in our positions”

“Deeds not words. I let the actions of my life stand as a human being” – Streep, when asked how she participates in women’s activism.
Streep went on to talk about the lack of women in the film industry. She mentioned that on the website Rotten Tomatoes, there are 760 male reviewers compared to 168 women reviewers. She said that on the ‘Tomato-meter’ the website primarily appeals to men. She also mentioned that the London Film Critics Society has 37 men compared to two women. “It’s got to be equal, half and half” – Streep says as the press conference came to an end.

06th Oct2015

The 59th BFI London Film Festival

by timbaros

image001The program for the 59th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® is another stellar lineup of must-see movies starring the world’s hottest stars.

It’s a rich and diverse lineup that includes a total of 238 fiction and documentary features, including 16 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 40 European Premieres and 11 Archive films. Taking place from Wednesday 7 October 2015 to Sunday 18 October 2015 at various venues across London, also included are talks and seminars and special presentations.

The festival opens with the premiere of the eagerly anticipated Suffragette. An all-star cast brings to life the early UK feminist movement as they fought for their right to vote. Carey Mulligan (who is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for this role) stars alongside Meryl Streep, Helen Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff. Screenplay by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame).


Among the many other films to be shown include:


Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter in 1940’s Hollywood who gets blacklisted after he is confirmed to be a Communist. Diane Lane plays his wife while Helen Mirren plays gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.

Bang Gang
One of the most controversial films of the festival about a group of French high school students who start a private orgy society.

High Rise
Adapted from J.G. Ballard’s novel of the same name, High Rise stars Tom Hiddleston in a film set in a luxurious high rise tower block that begins to decay almost as soon as it is built.

He Named Me Malala
A documentary about the 18-year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban for championing girls’ education in Pakistan.

The Program
Director Stephen Frears brings us the story of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong (played by Ben Foster) in a documentary-style telling of Armstrong’s triumphant Tour de France years to his mighty downfall after his confession of taking drugs to enhance his performance.

A tale of two transsexual hookers on Santa Monica Boulevard and the friendship they have amidst their dangerous profession.

Live from New York
A funny documentary about the long-running American television institution Saturday Night Live, from it’s beginnings in 1975 through it’s many cast members (some of whom went on to have highly successful movie and television careers).

Black Mass
An unrecognizable Johnny Depp stars in this true story about one of the Boston’s most violent criminals (Jimmy Bulger) who became an FBI informant. Also starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s brother Billy and Joel Edgerton as the FBI agent who persuades Jimmy to turn against the mafia.


The Lobster
This film could win the award for the most far-fetched plot: In the future, single people have to find a partner within 45 days or are then transformed into animals and released into the woods. This one stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. With their very good lucks there is no doubt they will find a match, within one day no doubt.

The Lady in a Van
Dame Maggie Smith stars as a homeless woman who lives in a van parked outside playwright Alan’s Bennett’s home in the 1960’s. Believe it or not it’s based on a true story that actually took place in the 1960’s, where she ended up staying for 12 years.

Carol tells the simple story of a 1950’s department store clerk who falls for another woman. This one stars the can’t miss Cate Blanchett, and is directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven). With Rooney Mara.

Cate Blanchett (again) stars at CBS news producer Mary Mapes, with Robert Redford as anchorman Dan Rather, and their involvement in a story that questioned then President George W. Bush’s receiving preferential treatment to help avoid the Vietnam draft.

Documentary about the deteriorating relationship between Sherpas (local people who help expeditions guide their clients up Mt. Everest) and western tourists, arriving just a few days before last year’s deadly avalanche that killed 16 sherpa. Timely as well in that sherpas were all but ignored in the recent film ‘Everest.’

Brie Larson stars as a woman who has been trapped in a garden shed for seven years after being kidnapped and raped. She then attempts to escape with her five-year old son.

The film festival closes on one of the most eargerly-awaited films of the year – a film called Steve Jobs
Michael Fassbender plays the late Steve Jobs, the man who made Apple a household name. Kate Winslet co-stars as his assistant Joanna Hoffman and Seth Rogen plays apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

There are nine program strands each headlined with a gala, , they are: the Love Gala, the Debate Gala, the Dare Gala, the Laugh Gala, the Thrill Gala, the Cult Gala, the Journey Gala, the Sonic Gala, and the Family Gala.

There will also be talks with filmmaker Todd Haynes (Carol), casting director Laura Rosenthal, actress Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), and filmmakers Jia Zhangke and Walter Salles (A Guy from Fenyang).

There will also be prizes handed out in the following categories:
-The Official Competition: recognizing inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking.
-First Feature Competition: recognizing an original and imaginative directorial debut
-Documentary Competition
-Short Film Award

Tickets have already gone on sale, so if you want to see any of the above-mentioned films or to peruse the other events taking place at the festival, please go here:


02nd Oct2015

Roaring Trade (Theatre)

by timbaros

NMgZoQRGJ9tiiZwaNLpCZltKjyriaYFnRiA6aBOm8FQ,lnAEjCCJyhmp5iViodDpJoBk5Hk6mDkotQriYTcis84The strange world of bond trading and the lives of the traders who inhabit it is explored in the new play “Roaring Trade.”

There are four desks in an office in Canary Wharf where four unique personalities ply their trade day in and day out. Their goal, of course, is to make money. But not all of them do. Fortunes are made, and lost, in a single second. It’s a very stressful job, one that has direct effects on their families.

‘Roaring Trade’ is set on a bond trading floor of a fictional investment bank called ‘McSorleys.’ It introduces us to the four people who live and breathe their jobs. We’ve got beautiful blonde Jess (Lesley Harcourt), confident but not cocky. She’s got more balls than some of the men she works with, including Donny (Nick Moran), who’s putty in her hands, and is the cocky one. Then there’s PJ (Michael McKell), burnt out yet still slaves away at his job to appease his keeping up appearances wife Sandy (Melanie Gutteridge). Spoon (Timothy George) arrives as a new team member, very young, getting the job because his father is a fat cat in the City.

For these four, it’s all about the money, and the bonus that validates their performances. It’s what drives them to succeed, at any cost, and whether that puts another team member at risk, so be it. When newbie Spoon makes £3.6 million on a trade, he suddenly becomes the golden boy. And when it comes to bonus time, Donny is oh so curious as to how much Spoon has received, enough so to attempt to take a peak at Spoon’s bonus letter. But when PJ receives less than what he’s expecting (a luxury trip to Barbados is cancelled for a trip to Brussels), this means his wife Sandy will not get her new kitchen, and their seven bedroom house will have to be put up for sale. Sandy says she’s worried that they will be the target of gossip if they sell their house, though PJ says that she likes to be the center of good gossip when the money is coming in and she is spending.

Meanwhile, Donny instills his work ethic on to his son Sean (William Nye), teaching him how to make money using a sachet of ketchup as an example. He tells Sean that in the bond world, money can be made by selling something one doesn’t own, and making money off of it. It’s an example the son takes to heart.

But things get very tense on the trading floor when Donny is down £8.6 million on a trade, and it gets even more tense when PJ is offered a head trading role at fictional investment bank Shads, and he wants to take the rest of the team with him. But when one trade goes in a different direction than expected because of internet chat room gossip, it’s anyone’s guess whose going to be in the money and whose going to be out of the money. And it’s not who you would expect.

‘Roaring Trade’ takes the ‘bankers are wankers’ phrase and runs with it. Donny, the veteran, seems to just care about making money. Jess appears heartless but always in control, while Spoon the newbie is so green that he will take risks just to get ahead. We get a different message from PJ – that not all bankers are bad. While the acting is not bad (George is superb as the new kid on the block) and Harcourt nails it as the tough-as-nails Jess, Mckell’s acting is a bit over the top, and the character behaviour not quite believable. Originally written for the stage in 2009 and quickly updated to reflect today’s news (a line in the show is “bonds are dropping like VW”), ‘Roaring Trade’ has more of a yelp than a roar. And while our real banks have taken risks in the past and are paying heavily for it now, as Donny says in the play – ‘There’s risk in everything that matters.’

‘Roaring Trade’ is playing until 24 October 2015 at The Park Theatre in Finsbury Park. To buy tickets, click here:

01st Oct2015

Little Accidents (DVD)

by timbaros

19GRRGFlKkS2pNcyA3cQD6IXb-N9S_l67UkVHCRR-jIThere are no little accidents in the new film of the same name.

‘Little Accidents’ is a quiet film about a small American mining town. Surrounded by beautiful green valleys and deep, dark forests, it’s also a town of the haves and have-nots. It’s also the scene of a huge accident that took place – ten miners died in the local mine, and only one survived – Amos Jenkins (a very subtle performance by Boyd Holbrook). He was injured in the accident, and is still very much traumatised. Meanwhile, 12-year old Owen Briggs (Jacob Lofland) lost his father in the accident. He’s a gentle boy, happiest when he is with his little brother who has Down’s Syndrome, while his mom (an unrecognizable Chloe Sevigny) tries to pick up the pieces and tries to return to a normal life without her husband. The other boys in town make fun of Owen, in part because of his little brother, and because they are just mean. One of the boys, JT Doyle (Travis Tope) happens to be the son of coal mine supervisor Bill Doyle (Josh Lucas) who may or may not be responsible for the coal mine accident. Amos brings JT and his friends beer from his refrigerator in an effort to fit in with them. It leads to disaster – JT falls on a rock and hits his head and dies, and Amos hides the body.

Bill Doyle, the coal mine supervisor, is married to Diana Doyle (Elizabeth Banks). They don’t have a strong marriage, he’s cold, doesn’t tell her much about the coal mine accident, and neglects here, while she spends her day at home whiling away the hours. When their son JT doesn’t come home, and is still missing after a few days, their marriage actually worsens and the tension between them is palpable.

A chance meeting of Amos Jenkins and Diana Doyle in front of a general store leads Diana to fall into his arms. Amos is a gentle soul, wrecked from the accident yet good looking and humble. Meanwhile Owen is feeling guilty, so he starts helping Diana with her gardening.

But there are little mysteries to these accidents; will Amos testify against his employers confirming that they knew about the dangers of the coal mine? Will Owen confess to killing JT? And will Amos and Diana’s relationship continue?

‘Little Accidents’, written and directed by Sara Colangelo, is a quiet, subtle movie about a small community’s attempt to deal with accidents that affect them all directly or indirectly. Holbrook is excellent at Amos – deciding whether to do the right thing. Banks as Bill’s wife and Amos’ lover has her best role in years. You can feel her pain, loss, and her need to find comfort elsewhere. Lofland (previously seen in ‘Mud’) carries the movie. He’s young and innocent and deeply affected by his father’s death yet is hiding a terrible secret. And Colangelo’s brilliant pacing of the film makes it a compelling film to watch.

‘Little Accidents’ is now available on DVD + VOD