The Triumph of Love – Valentine’s Day Review

Films about royalty - The Triumph of Love 2001This week I was planning on reviewing some Oscar noms, but so much has been said about them that I didn’t feel like being an echo-chamber, so I went on Netflix and picked a random film from the romantic category. Nearly all my favourite love stories are period dramas. I think that’s because the costumes and Shakespearean dialogue lets you get away with a few more clichés. The Triumph of Love (2001) embraces the clichés, and delivers on all the good ol’ ones.

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Favourite Movie Scores for Studying

With the semester almost over and no more radio shows until next year, my time with movies mostly consists of listening to them while I read. So, to procrastinate a bit more productively, I thought I’d share my favourite movie scores for studying. Of course, there are other scores I like when I’m not studying that are a bit more upbeat. You won’t find the theme to Indiana Jones or Star Wars here. Anything by Howard Shore is also a given, and not mentioned below.

In no particular order, here are my go-to original scores for studying.

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Bad Horror: Blood and Chocolate

blood_4As you may know from previous reviews of scary movies, I love bad horror/scary movies, especially if they include the supernatural dating scene. There is just something inherently funny about grand speeches and lovesick looks being paired with bad CGI and plot holes. Today’s review of Blood and Chocolate, however, came about from my desire to scour the imdb history of Hugh Dancy after his brilliant run in Hannibal (go watch this right now if you haven’t seen it).

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The Great Gatsby

the_great_gatsby_movie-wideThis summer has, so far, been a perfect storm of amazing block-busters, but the next big thing I had to see included no heroes, unless you interpret the title character very differently than I do. The Great Gatsby holds a special place in my heart, because it’s one of those books I had to read twice to “get”, and made me realise how unfair we are to children when we force them to read these books in school. At the same time, however, I am a firm believer that every movie needs to stand on its own.

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Kosmorama Recap + Trance review

Kosmorama was as wonderful as last year, and I saw some fantastic films, and some god awful ones, which is inevitable. Here are a few of the highlights, for better or worse.

The Dandelions 

In many ways a “typical” cute French film about people who are all slightly off. A young girl lives with her parent and grandmother, and must navigate her way through adolescence. It sounds like pretty standard fair, but it manages to balance beautifully between comedy and tragedy. If your heart isn’t swelling and your eyes tearing up, you’re not human, basically. One of the absolute best films at the festival!

Broken

The best film of the festival – or at least closely tied with Stoker, which I mentioned in my last post. The film is set in North London in a cul-de-sac with three families, all broken in different ways. The main characters, a young girl nicknamed Skunk, is amazing for a child actor. In fact, all of the children are, and with big names like Tim Roth and Cilian Murphey backing them up, the acting in this film blew me away. It will make you cry and laugh, and stick in your head aftewards. Very highly recommended!!

Leviathan 

This is a documentary, but you wouldn’t guess from the way it’s filmed. It consists entirely of poorly hand-held shots of a fishing boat out in a stormy sea. Most of it is very dark, and the rest is filmed in extreme close-up. If you don’t get sick from the constant movement – ironically I don’t get seasick when out at sea – you will want to bang your head into a wall about halfway. There is no dialogue, there is no “plot”. Some might say the visials are interesting, but only – I have to assume – if you’ve never been near a fishing boat in your life. I sat there wondering if I should be disgusted by these images of fish and scallops, when all I felt was a growing hunger for seafood. It was like an episode of Deadliest Catch only the crew had lost the cameras and attempted to film it themselves. Avoid at all costs.

Trance.

I have to comment on Trance, though I would rather not, simply because it was the opening film of the festival. We had a bit of a spirited debate on our radio show last week about it. One of my co-hosts hated it with a passion, and the other thought it was a “meh-to-decent” movie. I was then sent out to watch it and be the tie-breaker.

As I sat down, I tried to be as open as possible. It has everything I knew I should like. James McAvoy in a Danny Boyle film about a heist! It sounded so good on paper. And the opening narration was smooth and fancy, and my hopes rose. Then we started falling under the hypnosis, and the film became something very different. It is not as smart as it thinks it is. In fact, it is not as deep or pretty or well-scripted as it thinks it is. You feel the weight of the “look how mind-blowing it all is”, but you don’t see the results on screen. Instead you are met with predictability to the point of annoyance. And a love-triangle that made my skin crawl with its lack of chemistry.

Most of this is because the characters are all just uninteresting. McAvoy can play any part with gusto, but when neither his character nor any of the other actors are engaging, it just drags on. I guessed about twenty minutes in exactly how it would end, and when it happened it just pissed me off. The least it could have done was not meet every prediction I had. It tops it all off with a horrible Inception-esque ending where everyone goes on their merry way into the sunset.

Trance will appeal to a lot of people, and I wouldn’t dream of saying they are wrong to enjoy the hell out of this film. To me, and my now very smug colleague, the film tipped its hand at the very beginning, and never recovered.

I’m posting my Iron Man 3 review next!

Radio Review: I Give It A Year

igiveitayearThis week I got the task of seeing a British rom-com from the creator of Borat and Bruno. I admit my expectations weren’t high, though the fact that Stephen Merchant showed up made me ever-so-slightly optimistic. Unfortunately, although it’s made well with generally good actors, most lines just fall flat and I spent most of the time facepalming. Merchant’s lines feel forced, and he looks lost without Gervais to tell him he’s being a twat.

The film manages to be sweet enough for a dice roll 3, but I’d wait until it’s on the tv on a night in.