I’m going to do a spot of housekeeping over the next couple of days which will probably involve a change of themes.  Normal pretentious musings will recommence shortly… and I’ll be making a real effort to blog more regularly (because no one has ever said that before).

Film: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Sin City A Dame to Kill For @

If this is anyone’s film it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s.  It’s just plain terrible but it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s.  His segment, a real noir tale of a gambler who beats the wrong people, really hits the spot and in a better film would have been the set up that sent waves and started balls rolling through the titular metropolis.  Here it stands alone and is left to take on a life of it’s own as a reminder of what could have been… instead we get funny looking Marv, boobs and plenty of wondering what the time is cos the screening started at 9.15pm and Josh Brolin’s voice is making it feel like 2.00am.

If you like this sort of thing you’d be much better off revisiting the original which still stands up.  If you also like Joseph Gordon-Levitt you should check out Brick (2005), Looper (2012) and the criminally under seen The Lookout (2007), a great trio of modern noir movies.

TV: Doctor Who – Robot of Sherwood (2014)

Doctor Who Robots of Sherwood @, Doctor Who is back and we’re already three episodes in.  I’ve always been a fan of the Doctor and the past few years have been a bit uneven to say the least.  Christopher Eccleston was something of a high point, David Tennant had some great episodes but was over-whelmed by the show’s new found insistence on recurring characters and having everything linked up wazoo, plus his whole zany shtick got very tired very quickly.  Matt Smith was fantastic, classic even, but tied to mostly terrible episodes.  In all, although I’ve kept watching because there were moments and people that made the work worthwhile, the whole thing was convoluted where it should have been complex and ‘wacky’ when fun is much more fun…

…but now we have Peter Capaldi, and things are looking really good.  The opener was a bit stretched (too much getting to know you stuff but it’s all about ‘jumping on’ so I get the point and the Paternoster Gang are eye-rollingly bad), the second, Dalek meets Fantastic Voyage (1966), was excellent, so please bring back Ben Wheatley for some more directing, and Robot of Sherwood was just as good despite being wildly different and clearly labelled ‘disposable’.

This is how I like my Doctor Who.  Different each week with a Doctor who is just enough of a dick to give the character some dimension.  Think I might start reviewing the episodes properly if they carry on in this interesting vein.


Film: The Lego Movie (2014)

The Lego Movie @

After hearing for months that The Lego Movie was nothing less than awesome, I finally got my act together and watched it.  It was ok.

It had plenty of laughs, many nicely irreverent,  and gets points for going against the ‘approved play’ mantra that runs through the Toy Story (1995 – 2010) films but it felt like a string of funny moments rather than a satisfying whole.  Additionally, it really just stopped dead when the thing happened at the end and we, fittingly considering Batman’s presence, are treated to one of those deadly ‘let’s articulate the themes of this movie for everyone that has been asleep since the start of the film’ conversations.

Still, like I said, it’s got a load of funny bits.


Film: The Quiet Ones (2014)

The Quiet Ones @

Okay, so it’s Hammer and we are firmly in British horror territory here as a professor and some students go to an old house and delve into the world of parapsychology and, if you can get past a couple of bits of silliness (mainly an ‘experiment’ seemingly so cruel at the start that I don’t believe the central character would join it in the first place) , it’s a decent watch even if a bit derivative, but it’s genre so that’s half the fun.

The gimmick in this tale is a theory that paranormal activity is an extension of mental illness and the always great Jared Harris brings just the right amount of gravitas to the Professor role (you know, well-meaning but too invested etc) to keep the film going, whilst Sam Claflin’s curiously muted lead, a character that stands to the side of the action, makes a nice change of pace.

The use of 8mm and 16mm flavoured excepts help keep things interesting even if it does make you hanker for the atmosphere that shooting the whole thing on stock would have produced.

Film: The Conspiracy (2012)

The Conspiracy @

Here’s a good little movie.  So it shares a problem with some found footage movies in that it isn’t always clear whether footage is supposed to be ‘found’ or not, but this also sort of works as the film (maybe inadvertently) questions the uniform, polished look and reliability of many modern documentaries… which fits in nicely with the matter at hand.

The real fun is in the second half where the form suits the subject perfectly, enticing you to lean in, come closer before all hell breaks loose.  Granted, we’ve been this way many times before but it’s well done here and that’s what matters.


Film: Stake Land (2010)

Stake Land @

There’s plenty to like about Stake Land, a tale of survival in a post-vampire plague world.  The characters and ideas are interesting, the look is spot on, the scares and grue are as they should be and Mister, the film’s rock, is the original movie badass.

The really interesting thing however, what lifts it above the many similar movies, is it’s communal take on the apocalypse.  This is a film in which people are drawn to each other, often in celebration, rather than thrown apart.  To be a vampire is to be lonely and cast out, a great distinction from the living which has always echoed through tales of the undead.  Even Mister seems to crave company, a character trait that nicely subverts the stereotype and pays off neatly come the end.

Yes, there are wrong-uns but it’s nice to have a bit of warmth in the end times.

Highly recommended.

Film: Lucy (2014)

Lucy @

As with Nymphomaniac (2013), Lucy frustrates due to a tendency to keep telling us what we are seeing.  Whether it’s the Nature Channel foregrounding of the hunter / prey scenario being played out in the opening scenes or Morgan Freeman’s Basil Exposition character, popping up more and more to explain what we are seeing, the whole thing, despite having that Luc Besson comic book feel, just gets in the way of itself.

Then, the film suddenly becomes something else and we are in a mixture of X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) and The Tree of Life (2011) and Transcendence (2014).  Does it suddenly become a satisfying movie?  No, not entirely but it does become a bit more interesting even if it is crippled by being neither one thing or another.