Friday, 30 September 2011

Officially A Writer!

My first publication as a proper writer is now up online:

Mine is dark blue in the bottom left corner, but you should read them all, and the rest of the magazine here Much thanks to Claire Massey, and I hope anybody interested enjoys it. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Love Film Reviews Part V (Vengeance Edition)

After loving Oldboy for such a long time (possibly in my top ten favourite films, depending on my mood), I set aside a day to wath the Vengeance Trilogy bookends, finally fufilling a lifetime goal of viewing the whole set. The Vengeance Trilogy comprises three films directed by Park Chan-Wook, which although not direct sequels, all deal with the themes of revenge, violence and salvation.  Although I saw Oldboy befor the others, I thought it would be nice to review it aswell, because I make the rules and I can do what I want. Hopefully I can continue to prove my hypothesis right that Park Chan-Wook has yet to make a bad film.

Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance

The first of the three films follows a deaf mute factory worker who has to support his ill sister, who needs a kidney transplant. After being conned by organ dealers, and laid off at his factory, he kidnaps the daughter of one of his bosses friends, with the help of his radical anarchist girlfriend. Of course, things are never that simple, and the kidnapping soon goes horribly wrong. Like the other two films, giving too much away will ruin the impact, so I will say no more plot-wise. The film is a sad one, and who ever you decide Mr. Vengeance is, you certainly feel sympathy for him by the end of the depressing and brutally violent climax. Like Oldboy, there are no real winners here, and the futility of vengeance is fully explored before the two hours are out. 7 out of 10.


One of the only films I simultaneously tell people is brilliant, but not to watch it. The end is so brutally and magnificently evil, I suspect it will never be surpassed. It is the story of Oh Dae-Su, who is released from a 15 year imprisonment by an unknown antagonist, he is given five days to find his captor and figure out why he was imprisoned. The film is more than a solid mystery/thriller, with stellar work behind the camera working effortlessly alongside an amazing ensemble cast. The extreme violence is not for the squeamish, but is wholly justified, and if you can show me a better scene than the "Corridor Sequence", I will but you a coke. A modern masterpiece, and a fine example of the new wave of Korean Cinema. 10 out of 10.

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance

Another plot involving kidnap and false imprisonment, the Lady of our title is relased and sets about finding her daughter and killing the man resonsible for her false incarceration. Flashbacks to the prison reveal her interractions with other inmates willing to help her on the outside, as she plans the ultimate revenge for the man who wronged her. I felt this entry didn't do the trilogy justice, like it was a vengeance story for the sake of it. I was expecting a more elaborate plot and execution. It feels weak in comparison to the fils that precede it. 6 out of 10.

As a whole, I would award the trilogy 8 out of 10, purely on the basis of Oldboy alone. This is the film for me, where Chan-Wook really flexes his ample ability behind the camera, and the trilogy as a whole shows of his skills as a writer (something that doesn't always translate across from foreign releases). Essential viewing for any film buff. 

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Love Film Reviews Part IV


I've been trying to complete my Christopher Nolan collection for a while, so I was looking forward to watching this one more than some others I've reviewed. It follows Al Pacino as a cop lying low and investigating a murder in Alaska. He accidentally kills his partner while confronting the killer, and then engages in a cat and mouse (can't believe I've just wrote that) struggle with him to keep his head above water, and keep his sanity in the perpetual daylight. Pacino and Robin Williams act superbly (Williams, as ever, showing his underused skills as a straight actor), and the plot twists and turns to a satisfying climax. The beauty of Alaska steals the show as an almost alien landscape on which the thriller plays out. Nolan continues to prove my tentative hypothesis that he can't make a bad film. 8 out of 10.

My Left Foot

Another film I'd been wanting to watch for a while, Daniel Day Lewis plays the Irish writer and artist Christ Brown, and documents his struggles with cerebral palsy throughout the early to middle twentieth century. Day Lewis is a force of nature, and his application of "The Method" is well documented. Apparently on the set of "My Left Foot", he refused to leave his wheelchair and kept his body in a state of constant palsy, causing sores and rashes, plus annoying the hell out of everyone around him. Anyway, the film is equally brutal and uplifting, in the same vein as "Angela's Ashes", documenting the lives of the poor in Dublin, made worse by Brown's disability and alcohol addiction. Great sympathy is felt for the main cast, including Brown's mother, who never gives up on her son. Day Lewis plays Brown with a ferocity and is unlikable in parts, but uncompromisingly plays his role to perfection. 9 out of 10.


For the third time today, I'm going to say how much I was looking forward to this film. This time though, it was for different reasons, mainly that the film is the first full length feature (according to the ever reliable Wikipedia) from a zombie's perspective, and most importantly, that is was supposedly shot for a budget of 45 quid. I really wanted to enjoy it, and could excuse some shortcomings because, come on, a 90 minute film for £45 is nothing short of spectacular. We soon find out why though. It feels like a school project. It pains me to knock it in that way, but it does. I never felt threatened, I never felt for Colin (who didn't even feel like he was a zombie), the handheld camera work was shoddy, and I was just bored. I nearly switched it off. It's still a feat for the budget, and I'm not saying I could do better (I could), but to do so well at Cannes and pick up distribution and be a mega DVD profit cash cow, I expected more. It didn't meet even my lowest expectation, and I went in to it fully expecting to tack on points for effort. I couldn't even do that. 3 out of 10.

The Killer Inside Me

What a surprise! I really wanted to see this also. I won't say it again. This film follows Casey Affleck (the best Affleck) as a small town texan deputy sheriff who falls in love with a prostitute and trys to scam a wealthy building contractor and his son for family reasons I won't go into here so I don't spoil it for anyone. What sets the film apart is the mentally unbalanced lead (Lou), and his mysoginist antics. I've already said too much, and it isn't one for the faint hearted, and I can't really say it is in any way rewarding. It is interesting and well acted though, and if you are into dark thrillers, this is the one for you. 8 out of 10.


Wow, where to start. Well, it's a greek film, which is a first for me, and it has to be one of the most unusual things I've ever watched. A man and his wife keep their three adult children (2 daughters and a son) captive in a secluded country estate, having never come into contact with the outside world other than the girl who comes to sexually service the son. They are taught all kinds of freaky shit and have their own vocabulary. It really is odd, and punctuated with bursts or raw and uncompromising violence. It is so messed up, and I haven't a clue what it is trying to say, but I was equally horrified, mesmerised and dumbfounded by the tiny family microcosm. The parents are obviously monsters, but the childlike innocence of the siblings stops you feeling animosity towards them. They feel like a happy family, even though you know what is happening is hienously wrong. A very odd experience, and again, not one for the faint hearted. 9 out of 10. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Zombie Survival Manifesto

I was asked the question again (as lads often do) regarding my Zombie Survival Plan. If Z Day ever comes, I propose, as my Plan A, that:

Location: A lighthouse (position yet to be confirmed). Out away from the dangerzone, and although isolated, it would be hard to storm en masse, with a tight spiral interior to bottle-neck any undead, and a rocky terrain leading to the main entrance, that will use the tides to wash away many. Before anyone (metaphorically) mentions the big ficking torch on the roof, this will be disabled prior to residency. Upper level stairs will be retractible, plus charges will be set if overwhelmed. The only escape route will be a pulley system secured to the outer wall (where the main supplys will be secured) to lover into a boat anchored below.

Weapons/Equipment: Ballistic weapons make unwanted noise, but range is needed if possible. A high powered hunting crossbow ticks all the boxes. A big ass meat cleaver (weight to remove limbs), a sharpened screwdriver (minimal fuss and unmessy brain destroying and a hurling stick (blunt Irish brutality) comprise the close quarters melee weapons. a chainmail suit protects against bites, but will be heavy, so a second, light weight ceramic plate armour (for mobility and agility) will also be used, depending on the situation. I may sound mad, but a pedal bike is the primary mode of transport, as it keeps me fit, is reasonably speedy and doesn't need fuel. It can also be more easily manouvered than a car or horse.

Suck on that Zombies.

The Love Film Reviews Part III

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I love Woody Allen, but he doesn't really make good films anymore. VCB to be fair, was alright. it wasn't all that funny, but as soon as Penelope Cruz entered as Javier Bardem's crazy on/off ex-wife, the film was lifted, the screen buzzing with a maniacal latin intensity (is that cliched, racist, or both?). Scenes between the two Spaniards were a joy to watch adding an extra point to a fairly average love triangle dramedy. 8 out of 10.

The Lives of Others

Ze Stasi! (definitley racist) Ulrich Mühe stars as a Stasi operative spying on a liberal writer behind the wall in Communist Berlin. He starts off as a cold and compassionless automaton, examining his targets, but soon thaws and warms to their cause, helping the writer to expose hidden truths to the Western world. It is this stellar and subtle performance by the German Mühe which elevates Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck's (Best Name Evar!!!) somewhat flat and possibly implausible (in parts) story. Other actors shine too, such as Ulrich Tukur as Mühe's feckless commander. The menace felt in the first act is sustained less and less throughout the film, but is genuinely suspenseful and tense in parts. 7 out of 10.

Coco Before Chanel

So Steph (the missus) was over and was feeling ill, so I put this on for us because I'm a top bloke like that. It isn't really my thing, period pieces, but I went in with an open mind. All I can say is that it wasn't shit, but I just couldn't really get into it. I felt sympathetic to the character, but I wasn't hooked. I gave it a go like. 5 out of 10.

The Other Guys

This is more my thing: stupid, loud and implausible comedies. It's hard to get the balance right these days with such vapid comedy such as "You Don't Mess With The Zohan", and all that other depressingly humourless shite, but every now and again, you go into a film not holding out much hope and stumble upon a real gem. In much the same way with "The Hangover" (not the second one mind), and "Zoolander", "The Other Guys" was laugh out loud funny and well concieved, but had a heart, as strange as that sounds. Yes the plots are implausible, but the humour is intelligent and doesn't rely on fart gags or cock shots to get laughs. The highlight for me was the completely over the top cameo by the Rock and Samuel L Jackson as supercops, and the rest of the film more than made up for little dips throughout. 9 out of 10.

Rudo Y Cursi

Carlos Cuaron's (brother of Alfonso, one of my favourite directors) directorial debut tells the story of two brothers who become footballing superstars on opposing teams, and see fame and fortune slowly unravel their lives. I loved Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal in Alfonso's "Y tu mamá también" (which he co-wrote with Carlos), and they share that same buzzing screen chemistry as the warring brothers. The fim is definitely bittersweet, as with most Cuaron films, and it is almost false advertising to advertise it as a slapstick comedy (in the same way as the criminally brilliant and misadveritsed "In Bruges" was), as although there are moments of humour throughout, the dramatic aspects of the story affect the audience, as in me , the most. It is like that episode of "The Simpsons", where Bart and Lisa join opposing hockey teams in terms of plot, but with more gambling debts and cocaine use. 7 out of 10. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Love Film Reviews Part II

The Brothers Bloom

Being a massive fan of Rian Johnson (of Brick fame), plus the principal cast of Adrian Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Wiesz, I had high hopes for this film centred around a pair of con-siblings and their last big scam. I wouldn't say it let me down as such, as it was funny and farcical, and a generally well made postmodern caper film. It did become a tad convoluted near the end though, with all the counter scamming and unneccesarry villains. The interaction between the four characters was heart-warming and allowed me to care for the team, and the very end was well concieved and well played, just the bit immediatley before it was slightly shoddy. Maybe on a second view I would enjoy it more than I did, but it was an enjoyable romp nonetheless. 7 out of 10.

The Evil Dead (and Evil Dead II)

I finally sat down to watch Sam Raimi's ultra-low budget "Video Nasty", and after watching the first sequel (or remake I suppose), I decided to review them as one film. The first one really was low budget, but looked really good in parts. It actually was nasty in parts and a lot less funny and slapstick compared to number II. Ash (the superbly chinned Bruce Campbell) is much more assured in II and in control. It played to his charismatic strengths and great comedic timing, as did the often ludicrous plot. I enjoyed the second film for this, but did like and appreciate the first, and was genuinely creeped out in parts. 7/8 out of 10.


God, where to start? This low budget time travel caper pulls no intellectual punches, and is almost impossible to follow. Two physicists accidentally discover time travel and use it to manipulate the stockmarket. It deals with the implications and fallout of time travel, and the strain on the relationship of the two leads. My head was spinning trying to follow the paradoxes and time jumps, but it performs admirable for newcomers on a low budget. Definitely worth a watch, and then another to try and follow it. 7 out of 10.

Super 8

Ok so I went to the pictures to see this, but want to include it anyway. JJ Abram's ode to the beard almost succeeds in creating a timeless summer blockbuster for the whole family in the mould of ET and the Goonies. then we see the monster fully and find out it's back story. I won't ruin it for anyone (I'm aware nobody is reading this) but it is fucking implausible to say the least. Bad writing, that's all there is to it, and it lets down all the great build up and half-glimpses throughout the first half. Film of the year it aint. 5 out of 10.

I'm Still Here

Joaquin Phoenix's hopefully mockumentary was a tough watch. A masterclass in the method Joaquin really shows what his career has hinted he's capable of. It really is a man self destructing in front of a camera, but this made it difficult to watch. It was cringy and unbearable, plus impossible to separate from reality. The lack of overt humour creates an uneasy atmosphere throughout, making me actually feel sorry for a man I knew was acting. Half mesmerising in its premise, but too close to the bone for my liking. 8 out of 10 (for the audacity of it all).

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Love Film Reviews Part I

I recently activated a free trial to Love Film, and have taken advantage of free movie streaming to an unneccessary degree. I thought I could briefly review the films I watch (and any others worth mentioning), so I don't feel so guilty about disregarding every possible other important thing.

The Girl Who Played With Fire

First sequel of the adapted Millenium trilogy. A letdown following on from the first film (a solid and somewhat unconventional thriller), with an implausible plot and villains. Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyquist both perform brilliantly again, but it isn't enough to save the poor plot. 4 out of 10.

The Road

Another book to film adaptation, this bleack little Cormac McCarthy story is brought to life with beards and grey skies. Actually grey everything, the colour pallet is so muted and dull (in a good way) I almost adjusted the contrast on the telly. A nice little father son story and a nice little apocalyptic dystopian future story, but that's as far as I can go with that. The Father/son thing has been done much better (not that it is bad here, Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smitt-McPhee act well together and it isn't badly written) in the likes of Road to Perdition, as has the Apocalypse movie which we all know has been done to death. 7 out of 10.


Full caps neccessary for this one I'm afraid. Finally a spoof Blaxploitation film that is actually funny, plus the Kung Fu is up to scratch, helped by the cool motherfucker and karate expert Michael Jai White in the title role. The ludicrous plot, snappy dialogue and play on the multitude of poorly made films preceding it help create a film that can actually be enjoyed as a straight-up film, as opposed to purely a spoof film (much in the same way as Airplane!, or Hot Shots! could). Very enjoyable indeed. 8.5 out of 10.

Joint Security Area (JSA)

Korean film about the murder of North Korean soldiers by South Korean soldiers in the demilitarised zone at the border. What starts of as a fairly standard (and a slightly hammy paint-by-numbers affair) political thriller about an independent enquiry to get to the bottom of the conflicting statements from both sides soon turns into a touching and moving almost-drama. I expect nothing less from Oldboy's Park Chan Wook (Hopefully I'll get to review the full Venegeance trilogy soon too). I have yet to see a bad film from him, or Korean cinema for that matter. It really knocks your expectations for the film clean out of the window halfway through, and improves greatly for it. 7 out of 10.

Coffee and Cigarettes

11 films for the price of one! Black and white viginettes starring a multitude of indie big hitters from Jim Jarmusch (or however it is spelled-I refuse to check), based around my two least favourite things. Standout segments include Bill Murray and RZA and GZA from Wu-Tang Clan, in "Delirium", Iggy Pop and an incredibly un-nerving Tom Waits in "Somewhere in California", The White Stripes (I know) in "Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil", and the brilliantly awkward "Cousins?", with Steve Coogan and Alfred Molina. I liked it, as slow and dull as it tried to be. It was whimsical and cool, and it's trendy to like it and I want to be trendy. 6 out of 10.