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martyfarty69

martyfarty69
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    • Knight and Day (DVD) / DVD / 27 Readings / 25 Ratings
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      24.03.2012 03:52
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      Very bland and by the numbers "Action Comedy"

      Knight and Day, is a 2010 romantic action comedy film Directed by James Mangold and starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz


      Knight and Day is a baffling movie. The script, such as it is, seems to lead its characters in the direction of an espionage-heavy action-comedy, but despite congealing around one central MacGuffin (a never-draining battery, of all things), little of what happens in Knight and Day seems to connect to anything else in the movie. The plot is merely an excuse to put its toothy stars ( Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) into as many sexy, dangerous and romantic close-ups as humanly possible, with periodic breaks for Cruise to kill some people. On paper, I can see the brainless appeal of such a thing. But even on this base summer blockbuster level, Knight and Day perplexes far more than it entertains.

      Diaz's character, June, first encounters Cruise's ultra-spy extraordinaire, Roy, in a chance meeting at an airport. She ends up on the same flight to Boston as him, along with a scarce population of seedy looking passengers. They forcefully flirt, make a bit of cute conversation, then she retreats to the lavatory while Cruise proceeds to savagely murder everyone on board (they're all assassins, so it's cool), and crash the plane in a Midwestern corn field.

      June wakes up the next morning in her own bed in Boston. How did she get there so quickly? Never mind any of that, she has to get a dress fitting for her sister's upcoming wedding. Of course, it doesn't take long for government agents to accost her and start asking her a lot of questions about Roy and this mysterious battery. Then Roy shows up, kills a bunch of people again (in fairly spectacular fashion, I might add), and we move on to the next scene.

      This basic progression repeats itself an interminable number of times throughout Knight and Day. June is somewhere, Roy shows up, people get shot, June gets drugged, magically ends up somewhere completely ludicrous, lather, rinse, repeat. Between pass-outs, Diaz wakes up in Boston, some kind of underground prison, a crashing airplane, a remote island in the Azores, a random speedboat, and a train in Austria, all within a fairly short period of time. The movie is positively gleeful about skirting logic and geography for the sake of a gag, and I was on board with it, at least until I realized it was really the only gag the movie had up its sleeve, and that it was honestly more of an excuse to keep things moving at any cost.

      In the rare instances that Knight and Day slows down and tries to get plot-centric, things do not go well. The storyline about the battery and CIA double-crosses and whatever else might as well not even exist. It's completely secondary to the supposedly sexy and charming relationship between Roy and June.

      Except that charm only intermittently appears. The early goings of the movie where Roy and June first do the meet-cute thing on the plane are the closest to reasonable human behaviors you'll see from either of them anywhere in the movie. The rest of the time, it's like watching someone flick two pieces of cold metal against one another to start a fire. Diaz's attempts at playing alluring are well overshadowed by her bouts of running around screaming like a deranged harpy and making goofy wisecracks while hopped up on truth syrum. And don't even get me started on the half-baked Boston accent she randomly decides to affect halfway through the movie, and then loses before the third act.

      Cruise, on the other hand, is all unaffected, effortless bad-assery. Dude shows up, shoots dudes, then moves on to the next sequence, all without batting an eyelid. Frankly, Knight and Day is as good an argument as there has ever been for proving Tom Cruise is, in fact, a robot of some kind. There is a machine-like precision to his performance here; he cracks wise, flashes that trademark grin, wears sunglasses a lot, and takes his shirt off a few times for good measure. It's Cruise playing Cruise yet again, with barely a discernible difference between this character and any of the other charming, suave, handsome characters he's played in the past, save for the fact that Roy, above all else, is rather boring, outside of his ability to kill people quickly and creatively.

      The performances are pretty well lousy across the board. Peter Sarsgaard, playing Cruise's rival agent, is barely utilized beyond scenes of close-up smirking, and Paul Dano as the nervous teenage inventor of the movie's All Spark is like a poorly mustachioed cross between Rain Man and Professor Frink. The greater issue, however, is that the movie has no sense of who any of these characters are or why they're doing the things they're doing.

      It's especially true of Diaz's June, who has no defining characteristics beyond a quirky love of fixing up old hot rods, and an undying, unreasonable attachment to Roy from a pretty early stage of their calamitous relationship. In a weird way, June reminded me a lot of Bella from the Twilight series. She's a blank slate character, a doofy avatar for women with spy and/or Tom Cruise fantasies to project their own wish fulfillment upon. That said, I don't know who, exactly, those women are, and if they'd even bother to go see a movie like this.

      Director James Mangold, seemingly aware of how pointless and wooden this story/these characters are, tries to counterbalance with incredibly hyperactive action sequences, blazingly bright and colorful lighting, and endless extreme closeups of Diaz and Cruise's smiling faces. While I could have done without the face-hugging camera work, some of the action is, at the very least, entertaining. The brouhaha on the plane, as well as an acrobatic gun battle on the Mass Pike, provide some nifty visceral thrills and alleviate some of the boredom. However, the movie gets more and more leaden with CG effects as it goes on, and the climactic chase feels wholly artificial, even in the context of everything else in the movie.

      You can't quite call Knight and Day altogether terrible, as its periodically entertaining bits of action, picturesque locales, and infrequent moments of witty banter do just enough to occasionally remind you that a better, funnier, more thrilling movie might have once existed where this one now lies. At the same time, the film feels like every bit the product of the Hollywood grinder that it apparently was. It's like a child born to raging alcoholics. At conception it might have had the potential to be an entirely enjoyable action comedy romp, but after a deluge of shots from additional writers, studio notes, and whatever else, the final product came out basically functional, yet largely diminished in capacity.

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      • The Fabulous Baker Boys (DVD) / DVD / 25 Readings / 24 Ratings
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        21.03.2012 01:34
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        Remembered as the movie that shot Michelle Pfeiffer to superstardom

        "The Fabulous Baker Boys," (1989) is a strong, steamy American romantic comedy/drama filmed at the end of a decade that, for whatever the reasons saw Hollywood make many strong romantic dramas. It's certainly a showbiz drama, set in the Left Coast City of Seattle. Sibling pianists Frank (Beau Bridges) and Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges), played by the actual sibling Bridges boys, are professional musicians who've never needed day jobs, but they're playing dismayingly schmaltzy music, and they're sure not getting work at the city's best venues. So they decide to get a chanteuse to spice up their dual piano act. After enduring a day of hilarious, off-key auditions, highlighted by a witty romp by the uniquely-voiced Jennifer Tilly as Blanche (Monica) Moran, they choose beautiful, sexy Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer). Mind you, Susie comes with, as they used to say, a checkered past: she used to work for an escort service. At any rate, the trio become successful beyond their wildest dreams. But when a relationship develops between Susie and Jack, the brothers are forced to consider where they're headed , and how honest they've been with each other.

        The fabulous Bridges boys are, of course, excellent, light-footed actors, each of which has had a long film career, The piano work is dubbed by the distinguished Dave Grusin, who also wrote the film's score, and John Hammond. Michelle Pfeiffer, is also, of course, an excellent actress, in addition to being a great beauty; her versatility has given her a much longer career than that enjoyed by most Hollywood beauties. She has good comic timing, can sing, and even danced, I believe, in Grease 2, though it's a long time since I've seen that film. She does her own singing here, and, with choreography by Peggy Holmes, delivers possibly her career signature scene in a scorching piano top rendition of "Making Whoopie." The young Ellie Raab (The Ref), gets fourth billing as Nina, the pain in the neck neglected kid who lives above Jack, and visits him via the fire escape when things get too tough with her mom.



        The movie is a fairly accurate and frank depiction of musicians' lives-on-the-road that reveals what happens after the audience goes home and the musicians retire to their nice hotel rooms to soak their aching feet. Sydney Pollack executive produced. It's an inspiring, witty, understated, and romantic film, with a nuts-and-bolt, noir outlook. Although it does, perhaps move a bit slowly for modern tastes and shows its age in places, its definitely an acting masterclass on screen from the main cast and well written and directed by Steve Kloves.

        If you're looking for a romantic Drama with some fine acting then this might be right up your alley, however if you like your thrills you may want to look elsewhere

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      • More +
        17.03.2012 01:51
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        Only watch if you're not looking for another instant classic

        A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 2010 American slasher film directed by Samuel Bayer, The film stars Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker and Kellan Lutz and is a remake of the 1984 Horror classic of the same name written and directed by Wes Craven

        I just have to start by stating.........This isn't my Freddy Krueger.

        This is a Krueger for a generation of horror fans reveling in the bleak excess and extremes they've witnessed in films like Hostel and Saw. This is a Krueger who doesn't want to have any fun.

        Not that I was expecting a wise-cracking dream stalker, but going into a reboot of Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street one would expect it might channel the essence of Freddy Krueger's original persona. At least that Krueger (played with gusto by Robert Englund and in my opinion a performance that will never be topped in Horror ), even in the first film, knew how to be entertaining. Sitting through the opening credits, however, and seeing a "story by" credit being granted to Wesley Strick (you'd expect it to go to Craven, or no "story" credit to be given at all) you know something is amiss and big changes are a-comin'. Those changes are not for the better.

        Taking the same drop-dead dreary atmosphere that threatened to suffocate its audience in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Platinum Dunes team and director Samuel Bayer have applied it to the town of Springwood. Where it worked just fine for Leatherface and his bloodthirsty family, the tone here saps the energy right out of quaint neighborhood of Elm Street which - unlike the original film - isn't much of a character in and of itself. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to gauge the geography of Elm Street at all and where the troubled teens lived in respect to one another. But I digress. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a lifeless film that shares none of the imagination with its forefather and the sequels that followed. It's not a picture that knows subtlety well and forces its hand all too often to enhance themes that are, in essence, creepy but the execution isn't enough to get under your skin.

        In this update, the kids who once lived on Elm Street are broken up. They're off living their lives as teens in various parts of the country many years after their time together at pre-school, but a few remain in Springwood and they're all suffering painful and terrifying dreams that permeate their sleep. Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Kris (Katie Cassidy, looking way too old for high school) realize something is wrong after their pal Dean seemingly cuts his throat open during the film's graphic and effective opening sequence at the Springwood diner. There's far too much story focus on Kris - essentially the "Tina" character - early on and that steals from any investment we might put into Nancy, who the narrative revisits as if "oh yeah, we need to get back to her." Once Nancy re-enters the picture, it's business as usual. Like the original film, the kids realize they're all dreaming about the same burned man with the clawed hand, the fedora and the red and green sweater.

        Writers Strick and Eric Heisserer deviate from the source material somewhat when it comes to unraveling the Freddy Krueger mystery and his motivations. There's the requisite - and I can't believe they put this in - "research" scene on dreams that Nancy and her pal Quentin (a mopey Kyle Gallner who's just shy of being a sibling to his goth character in Jennifer's Body) participate in. The film also calls into play a Pied Piper element. Freddy is trying to lead the Elm Street kids somewhere and to a harsh revelation. One can easily get what his scheme is early on, but here's the problem: A Nightmare on Elm Street is in love with its freshened-up conceit (i.e. his relationship with the Elm Street kids) so much that the movie forgets to be inventive.

        Oh sure, the story introduces the absurd idea of micro naps, which allows Freddy to appear and strike whenever the kids doze off for even a second, but it cheapens the film because the micro naps serve no other purpose than to provide weak âEurooeboo" gags. These detract from any potential elaborate dream sequences which are sorely lacking in innovation. Bayer and company retain a level of familiarity, importing many iconic dreams from the original film - the bathtub, the body bag in the school hallway, the bedroom slice âEuro~n dice - and go figure, these got the most audience reaction, but there's nothing new brought to the table. With such a broad palette to work with, there are a lot of missed opportunities. Freddy doesn't toy all that much with his prey. He doesn't pull any mind games (cutting his fingers off, slicing his torso) to intimidate the kids. He simply goes for the throat. That's a bit of a drag and it certainly doesn't elevate him beyond anything more than single-minded supernatural maniac out for revenge. How Freddy goes about his business - what fuels him, so to speak - has also been altered to suit the aggressive nature of his enhanced perversity thus spelling things out for a modern audience.

        Jackie Earle Haley is fine, but not entirely memorable, as Krueger. A modest effort with impressive make-up. His scale of emotion is limited to mumbling, sneering or simply shouting, however. He's a victim of the material which doesn't allow him too much freedom to show many shades. There are not too many colors to the kids either as they sulk their way through under-lit scenes that often wash their faces out in shadows.

        A Nightmare on Elm Street is a languid, unsuccessful attempt to tap into the extreme darkness of Krueger's nature and it simply leaves you cold. Rewriting an icon is no easy task and perhaps doing a distant sequel that recognizes the established franchise would have fared better. Again, no easy task there either - especially after Freddy vs. Jason (which this reboot quotes almost with the line, "Welcome to my world, bitch!") - but maybe a sequel of sorts would have sat more comfortably with this longtime Krueger fan who was hopeful to find a glimmer of anything that made me dig the character in the first place

        If you're a Horror fan and don't care about the original source material....then its worth a watch, but if you regard the original 1984 classic as one of the greatest Horror / Slasher movies of all time, then you may not want to watch this, as you can't "Un-Watch" it !!!

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        • Priest [2011] (DVD) / DVD / 22 Readings / 20 Ratings
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          15.03.2012 03:27
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          Only for the bored

          "Priest" is a 2011 American Science Fiction action film directed by Scott Charles Stewart and starring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban and Cam Gigandet.

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          The Plot: ( Contains some spoilers )

          The story is set in an alternate universe that had a war spanning centuries that pitted vampires against humans. Once the church trained super warriors called priests the war was ended and humans reigned supreme and under the rule of the church in a post apocalyptic future that vaguely resembles the old west. Now out of a job, Priests find themselves outcasts of society.

          It isn't long into the film that an army of vampires appear on the scene and kidnap Priest's ( Paul Bettany ) daughter and hold her hostage ( we find out its his daughter later in the movie, but early on you just kind of know!! ) . The church is unwilling to believe that vampires exist free leaving the Priest no option than to turn his back on his faith and go on a solo mission to rescue his daughter.


          Priest is a very brisk 88 minute movie. There was just enough dialog in the movie to piece it together. I think that works to the movie's advantage because most of the audience that is going to view this film is looking for action. The few scenes of dialog that is left within the movie are not that good. The main character of Priest, played by Paul Bettany, tries his best to remove any human emotion from his voice by talking low and using the fewest number of words as possible. Why do the Priests have to lose their personalities to become warriors? Just because you swear an oath of celibacy to fight for the church doesn't mean you have to act like your dead. I am guessing it may be just for the simple attempt to make the character cool. Regardless, it doesn't add much to the personality story.

          The real problem I had with Priest is that it seemed more interested in being cool than it was in being good. None of the characters had any personality whatsoever. What's more, none of them had character arcs. The characters are unchanged from the start of the movie to the end of the movie. None of the actors looked like they had fun with their roles. The whole movie seemed like forced labor. So while it did have the obligatory action scenes throughout it, they all felt staged, nothing really flowed. Some of the shots were interesting, but I never felt much excitement.


          The opening of Priest features an animated sequence that quickly goes over the history of this universe, and I can't help thinking that perhaps the real movie lies in there, its really well done and very slickly animated, Instead, we are whisked past all of the epic battles against the vampires to save our species and brought to a dreary aftermath of the war. In short the stakes are much higher in the two minute set up of the film then the other 86 minutes. It is clear that the film makers were hoping to start a franchise, but unless they do prequels I am not sure anyone will have much interest in seeing the continuing adventures of these characters. Guys looking for cheap action and little story might have fun with this movie, but that is about all it has to offer.

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        • Charlie Wilson's War (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 23 Ratings
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          13.03.2012 22:05
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          Great comedy-drama !!

          "Charlie Wilson's War" is a 2007 American Biographical comedy drama based around the true story of US congressman Charlie Wilson and his quest to gain US support for the Afghan mujahideen during the Russian invasion, it's directed by Mike Nichols and stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

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          The Plot:

          Charlie Wilson ( Tom Hanks ) is a democratic congressman for Texas who has some unorthodox methods but is generally a good politician, recently after a trip to Vegas his personal life comes under scrutiny by then federal prosecutor Rudolph Guiliani for Cocaine use and associating with prostitutes.

          During this time Charlie meets with friend and occasional romantic interest Joanne Herring ( Julia Roberts ) a Houston TX socialite who brings to Charlie's attention the plight of the Afghan people and the ongoing Russian invasion of Afghanistan, she encourages Charlie to visit Pakistan to meet with the Prime Minister, who in turn take Charlie to a refugee camp, moved by what he has seen Charlie vows to drum up US support for the Afghan mujahideen ( The rebels fighting the Russian army ).

          As part of his effort Charlie befriends maverick CIA agent Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and enlists him and his staff to help come up with a better strategy to assist the Afghan people.

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          I wasn't sure what to expect from Charlie Wilsons War, as it seemingly takes a politician most people have never heard of and thrusts him into the limelight and turns him into a movie hero, but that is where the success of the movie lies and its genius, it successfully does just that, turn a seemingly unknown real figure from US politics and makes him interesting.

          Obviously one of the strongest parts of the movie is the heavyweight cast of actors, in particular Julia Roberts, Phillips Seymour Hoffman and Tom Hanks, each playing their roles extremely well, in particular Hanks comes across as truly believable in the role of the maverick politician who on the surface seems to be more interested in sleeping with as many women as possible and partying as much as he can, but who actually has the legislative power to effect real change within his government and make a difference.
          Also of note is Phillip Seymour Hoffman who is truly one of the best character actors of our time, he plays the part so well and is so believable as the gruff CIA operative who while its hard to tell initially, you know he's played his part in many shady operations in the past and is actually a very effective person.

          The storyline is great and if you know your history as you're watching the movie you know where its going to end up, we all know that the US funded the mujahideen who eventually defeated the Russian army ( in their biggest defeat to date ), but because we didn't effectively follow up on the strategy in Afghanistan the country was allowed to fall into the hands of the Taliban ( and we all know what happened next ).

          However getting past the politicial doctrine, we're left with a great well written well directed movie that does have some merit as a portrayal of history, but equally has merit as a great Comedy- Drama movie with a cast of actors giving a masterclass in how to juggle both of the aforementioned aspects of acting.

          Well worth adding to your collection and well worth investing 100 minutes of your time !!

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          • Cowboys and Aliens (DVD) / DVD / 29 Readings / 28 Ratings
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            06.03.2012 06:06
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            Good for your action fix

            Cowboys & Aliens is a 2011 Science fiction / Western movie directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde and is based upon the graphic novel of the same name.

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            The Plot:

            The year is 1873 and a stranger ( Daniel Craig ) wakes up in the desert, injured with no memory and a strange metal device attached to his wrist, very soon he kills three drifters who try and rob him and he takes their clothes and one of their horses then wanders into a small town names Absolution.

            He is treated by a local preacher ( Clancy Brown ) who takes care of his wound, soon after the stranger subdues a drunk and rowdy Percy Dolarhyde ( Paul Dano ) who is the son of a local cattleman, Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who is a very wealthy and powerful man.

            Pretty soon the Colonel rolls into town demanding his son be returned to him, he also recognises the stranger as Jake Lonergan who stole gold from him and demands Jake is released to him, however local sherrif Taggart ( Keith Carradine ) denies his request and a standoff ensues, however while the standoff takes place the town is all of a sudden attacked by Alien craft who begin rounding up some of the townsfolk by long whip-like feelers hanging from the bottom of the craft, Jake's strange device on his hand comes to life and he instinctively points it toward one of the craft, using the device as a weapon to take down the craft.

            And so the townsfolk begin to work together to defeat the seemingly impossible to defeat alien presence, and Jake begins to learn about his past and who he really is.

            --------------------------------------------------------------

            I wasn't sure what to make of Cowboys and Aliens to be honest, I remember during the summer watching the trailers and being intrigued to the premise and thinking to myself what a terrible title for a movie.

            Well one thing that hasn't changed since then is my opinion of the title, while it describes the movie perfectly ( and of course was the title of the original graphic novel on which the movie is based ) it just isn't original enough, however getting past the title you get into a movie that obviously has a big budget to it, you only have to look at the star power with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford to see that no expense was spared with this blockbuster.

            I must praise Favreau for his direction, he has really transitioned to a b-list actor into an A-list director who specializes in turning comic book characters into big screen gold ( Ironman etc ), the movie is helped by some great acting particularly the gruff Harrison Ford and the mysterious way Daniel Craig plays his character, you can just tell that behind the blue eyes of the stranger lies a dark individual who has seen pain in his past.

            The plot is predictable enough with the local townsfolk teaming up with an unlikely ally ( Spoiler alert, they become friends with the local Indian tribe...like thats not been done before !! ) to defeat a common foe, however the acting lets you forget the plot for a while.

            The special effects are of course of a high quality and certainly what you'd expect from a movie that cost $163 million dollars, and if you're looking for your action fix then this will certainly do the trick, but I just found myself wanting more from this movie, I wanted more of Craigs characters backstory, I wanted to know more about the Aliens themselves and I wanted more substance to the plot.

            Overall a good movie that will certainly pass the time, but if you're looking for something you'll pop into the DVD player more than once you may want to look elsewhere !!

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            • My Week with Marilyn (DVD) / DVD / 30 Readings / 29 Ratings
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              29.02.2012 05:20
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              One to add to the collection

              "My Week with Marilyn" is a 2011 british Biographical movie directed by Simon Curtis and starring Michelle Williams, Dougray Scott, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench and Emma Watson and is based on the books by Colin Clark about his real life experiences with Marilyn back in the 1950's.

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              The Plot:

              Recently graduated from University Colin Clark ( Eddie Redmayne ) is an aspiring film-maker from a very well off family, however he is determined to make it in the business on his own and travels to london to petition to get a job on Lawrence Olivier's ( Kenneth Branagh ) next movie project.

              Eventually successful, Colin is given a job on Olivier's next project, entitled The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), Colin is first tasked with finding a suitable place for Marilyn and her husband, playwright Arthur Miller ( Dougray Scott ), at the same time Colin begins courting the affections of wardrobe assistant Lucy ( Emma Watson ) and they eventually begin dating.

              Soon enough Colin is given more tasks, and very soon finds himself getting closer and closer to Marilyn until they are spending quite some time together, after Marilyn's husband returns to America after an argument between them, however this relationship places a strain on Colin's relationship with Lucy and also with his colleagues on the film set, who are already dealing with an emotional wreck in Marilyn who is pushing them all to their limits, particularly Lawrence Olivier.

              ------------------------------------------------------

              I wasn't sure what to expect from "My Week with Marilyn" the subject matter wasn't particularly interesting to me, however I had heard good things about the movie itself and in particular the performance of Williams as Marilyn Monroe.

              And boy was I not disappointed, "My Week with Marilyn" takes a seemingly unimportant week in the lives of a group of actors and film crewmembers and turns it into an enthralling story, most of which has to come down to the talents of the cast, particularly Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh and of course Michelle Williams

              Williams is incredible as Marilyn, she has her mannerisms and vocal style down to a tee and her singing voice is extremely impressive and i'm not sure if it was electronically altered for the sake of the movie, or if it is all down to Miss Williams pure talent, but it definitely leaves an impression on the viewer.

              The whole thing is a joy to watch, the period sets are great, the costume department do a wonderful job transporting the viewer back to 1957 and the musical score is just right to catapult you back in time.

              The script is of course wonderful and being adapted from books written by the main subject of the movie himself ( Clark ) you know that accuracy is of a very high standard in the movie, and you can pretty much ascertain that the majority of what you see in the movie actually happened, i'm hard to impress with period pieces such as this but I was sucked in from beginning to end, which is a big testament to the movie.

              I can't really find fault in this movie, wonderful acting, wonderful direction and a story that doesn't run longer than it should ( comes in at 101 minutes ), the only negative is that the crime is that Michelle Williams didn't win the Oscar for best actress at this years academy awards !!!

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            • 25th Hour (DVD) / DVD / 29 Readings / 28 Ratings
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              27.02.2012 02:28
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              Well shot and well written, deep and emotional so not for the clinically depressed !!!

              25th Hour is a 2002 Drama film directed by Spike Lee and starring Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox.

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              The movie opens as Monty Brogan ( Edward Norton ) sits on a park bench with his dog staring out to the Hudson River, he is approached by a man who we soon discover is a drug addict and customer of Monty's, however it turns out Monty is spending his last day as a free man before spending 7 years in jail after being convicted for drug trafficking.

              He plans to spend his last night of freedom in a nightclub with his friends Jacob Elinsky ( Phillip Seymour Hoffman ) and Frank Slaughtery ( Barry Pepper ), along with his girlfriend Naturelle ( Rosario Dawson ), however Monty is suspicious of Naturelle as his partner Kostya tells him that he thinks it was Naturelle who turned him in to the police.

              Monty spends the rest of the day righting some wrongs and building some bridges, however he also may have one last plan to avoid prison, and avoid the hard time he will surely face.

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              25th Hour kind of flew under the radar for me and I didn't really know too much about it until I popped it into the DVD player last night and watched it with my wife, and what a surprise, obviously anything Spike Lee is going to direct is going to be dialogue driven and have a unique feel to it, and the dialogue is really where this movie comes into its own.

              Having a group of talented actors such as Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Brian Cox certainly helps when you're trying to tell an emotionally intense story such as this, especially as I mentioned when you're Spike Lee and you rely on acting and dialogue to get your movies watched, and these actors don't disappoint.

              The highlights for me are of course Norton who is always an intense individual in his movies, and Barry Pepper who portrays the sleazy wall street type, but also fiercely loyal best friend perfectly, also not forgetting Hoffman and Brian Cox who do their jobs incredibly well.

              25th hour benefits from great acting , a great story and of course great scriptwriting, it is slow in places and you ultimately know how the movie will end, but its how each character arrives at the ending that is the key to this movie, definitely an acting masterclass for all involved and a great movie for fans of drama.

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              21.02.2012 20:49
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              Great pre-cursor to the current crop of James Bond movies

              Licence to Kill is a 1989 Spy thriller and the 16th entry in the James Bond franchise of movies, it is directed by John Glen and stars Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi and Benecio Del Toro.

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              The Plot:

              The movie opens with James Bond ( Timothy Dalton ) and his friend, CIA operative Felix Leiter ( David Hedison ) en route to Felix's wedding, however before they arrive they are picked up by DEA agents as they are needed to help capture drug lord Franz Sanchez ( Robert Davi ), after a battle they are able to capture Sanchez, however unknown to them he manages to escape while Felix's wedding is taking place.

              Shortly after James returns to Felix's house to find his wife killed and Felix alive but severely wounded after Felix has been fed to a Shark at Sanchez warehouse, James vows revenge however "M" ( Robert Brown ) orders James to an assignment in Istanbul, James refuses and M suspends him and revokes his Licence to Kill, Bond flees from Mi6 custody and becomes a rogue agent, hell bent on exacting revenge on Sanchez and his henchmen.

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              Licence to Kill is quite the polarising movie, some people think that Timothy Dalton's time as James Bond was a failure and he was the worst Bond, others like the harder edge he brought to the role after the almost comic portrayal of Roger Moore and Sean Connery in the past and consider him a serious precursor to the current dark James Bond we're seeing now with Daniel Craig.

              I must say i'm in the latter portion of views, while I wouldn't call Timothy Daltons portrayal of Bond a runaway success, but I think that if he had been given a few more movies to be able to finely tune his portrayal of Bond and introduce the darker edge to the character we're seeing now I think he may have been up there with the best of them.

              Regardless Licence to Kill is for me one of the best Bond movies, it doesn't rely on an unrealistic super-villian such as Blofeld or Scaramanga as the Bond movies of the 70's did, instead the main villain is a realistic drug lord who murders his way to power, also Bond isn't on a mission from Mi6 this time, instead he's a rogue agent on a personal vendetta of revenge, and this I think is the key to the movies longevity.

              While it is far from the perfect movie, it does drag on a little too long ( 2 hours and 13 minutes could easily have been trimmed down to under two hours ) and there are some slow moments, however some of the action sequences are good and James dispatches with his foes with the ease the worlds greatest spy should.

              The ending is the hardest part for me, its only a minor thing but after Bond has dispatched his enemies, his friend Felix is surprisingly chipper for someone who has lost some limbs and whose new wife has just recently been raped and killed.

              Minor gripes for me though, for any James Bond fan then Licence to Kill is essential viewing and for me a major turning point in the James Bond series of movies.

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              • Crank (DVD) / DVD / 25 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                06.02.2012 05:50
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                Mindless fun

                "Crank" is a 2006 action movie directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and stars Jason Statham, Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam.

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                The plot:

                Chev Chelios ( Jason Statham ) is a British hitman living in LA, he awakes from a sleep drowsy and disoriented, he soon discovers a video laying around his apartment that urges him to watch it, he soon discovers that while he was out he was injected with a drug known as a "Beijing Cocktail" which inhibits the flow of adrenalin into the heart, resulting in the victim eventually dying, Chev is given the drug by Ricky Verona, a small time criminal and rival of Chev's at the behest of his boss Carlito, who orders Chev's death as a payback for an ill-advised hit on a rival chinese crime boss.

                Chev soon discovers that he can stay alive as long as adrenalin is rushing through his system, as such he has to resort to more and more extreme methods of keeping his heart pumped with adrenaline, including such things as car chases and public sex with his girlfriend ( Amy Smart )

                Chev must stay alive long enough to work out an antidote to his condition and also to exact revenge on the individuals responsible for his situation.

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                I wasnt sure what to expect from Crank, im a fan of a good action movie as much as the next person and the premise of Crank certainly would bring about lots of action, however from some of the trailers and clips i've seen of the movie it also seems quite out there in terms of reality..and while im a fan of detaching reality for a movie there are limits.

                Statham does a good job of looking p***ed off enough throughout the whole movie and he definitely fits the bill of an action star, however i also believe an action star should be able to do a convincing job acting wise anx i just believe that Statham is too one-dimensional an actor, he looks great and clearly has some good action chops, but i fear for his career outside of the mindless movies such as this.

                The positives of the movie are that if you're looking for some turn off the brain action then this is by far a good place to look, its shot very much like a video game if you ask me ( and there are some serious video game references throughout the whole movie so i think this may be intentional ) and while you will be wanting more if you're looking for a meaningful plot..if you're looking to see non-stop adrenaline ( irony huh ? ) for 93 minutes the this is the movie for you.

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              • Senna (DVD) / Documentary / 21 Readings / 21 Ratings
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                05.02.2012 18:39
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                Compelling viewing for everyone

                "Senna" is a 2010 documentary feature film about the life of legendary Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna.

                I won't go into the plot like i normally would in a review of a movie, as this is a documantary, but also a movie in as much as it centres on a hero ( Senna ) who has humble beginnings and slowly but surely through natural talent rises to the top of his chosen sport, however like any good movie plot there are things and people standing in his way ( in this case the main culprits are fellow driver Alain Prost and the then head of The motor racing governing body Jean-Marie Balestre ).

                The magic of this movie is that there is not one single word spoken by the filmmaker ( Asif Kapadia ) and no voice over for the movie, every part of the movie is strung together by interviews with his colleagues and friends, actual footage and interviews with the man himself and news footage from the day.

                Its a testament to the man but also the filmmaker that 18 years after his death ( and i still remember that day vividly ) a story such as this is still current and would be widely viewed by such a large amount of people.

                The key thing to know about this movie is that you don't need to care or even know anything about Formula 1 or even motor racing itself, this is a movie about a great man and is a human interest piece, its very well edited and put together to elicit the right emotions from the viewer and I defy any actual fan of the man himself to not get emotional in the final minutes of the movie as Senna's story reaches a conclusion.

                Im sure Formula 1 fans will instantly be attracted to this movie ( if for no other reason than you actually get to see Formula 1 in what I consider to be its golden age ) and im sure motorsport fans in general will be drawn to this movie, but non-fans will be missing one of the best documentaries of the last 10 years if they dont check "Senna" out, its a magical piece of filmmaking that will certainly stay cherished in my collection.

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                • Limitless (DVD) / DVD / 18 Readings / 16 Ratings
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                  05.02.2012 17:07
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                  Will entertain for an evening

                  "Limitless" is a 2011 thriller directed by Neil Burger and stars Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Anna Friel.

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                  The plot:

                  Edward "eddie" Morra ( Bradley Cooper ) is a bright but unmotivated playwright living in New York City, he has just recently been dumped by his girlfriend Lindy ( Abbie Cornish ) and also is about to fail the deadline to turn in his new book.

                  One day Eddie comes across Vernon Grant ( Johnny Whitworth ) who is his ex Brother-in-law, Vernon is a drug dealer and while Eddie always knew him as a bit of a dirtbag, he seems to be quite successful now, Vernon offers Eddie a new drug he is carrying called NZT-48, claiming its been tested by the FDA and will allow a human to access 100% of their brain power, Eddie is sceptical and takes the drug with him but doesn't take it.

                  Eventually Eddie realises he is going to need help and ingests the drug, which send him into a mamic productive state, he manages to complete 90 pages of his manuscript overnight and turns it into his publisher.

                  Eddie goes to see Vernon to ask for more of the drug, and when Vernon answers the door to his apartment its clear he has recently been assaulted, Vernon tells Eddie to go and pick up his dry cleaning, however when Eddie returns he discovers Vernon has been shot and killed and his apartment has been ransacked, yet Eddie discovers Vernon's stash of the drugs and take them.

                  Very soon Eddie takes the drug on a regular basis and his life turns around, he eventually attracts the attention of Wall Street businessman Carl Van Loon ( Robert DeNiro ) who enlists Eddie to help him with an upcoming large merger, however strange things are beginning to happen to Eddie and the drug may not be perfect, also Eddie has to cope with a growing number of people who may want to see him dead so they can get their hands on his supply.

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                  I had high hopes for Limitless when i popped it into the DVD player, I like Bradley Cooper and think he is suited to being a Hollywood leading man, initially the movie starts out well, with a "fairly" plausible premise, and one thing you notice very soon after it begins is that its uniquely shot and quite stylish, being a thriller and its main requirement are "thrills" it does cause the plot to suffer in parts but not as bad as some in this genre i've seen recently.

                  The cast do largely a good job, however I do think that Robert DeNiro was miscast in this role, as i just dont buy him being a suave Wall Street businessman, hes just too gruff for that, at best i could picture him being a business owner of a chain of Subway restaurants !!!

                  The biggest thing Limitless has going for it is the stylish delivery of the plot, the storyline chugs along well enough and there are some decent plot twists that arent expected, however there are also some predictable plot elements as well.

                  If you're looking for a thriller that will entertain for around 105 minutes then you probably cant go wrong with Limitless, however if you're looking for something a little more deep and meaningful you may want to look elsewhere !!!!

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                  • No Strings Attached (DVD) / DVD / 28 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                    25.01.2012 04:37
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                    Passes the time !

                    "No Strings Attached" is a 2010 Romantic Comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman.

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                    The Plot:
                    Beginning when they were teenagers Emma ( Natalie Portman ) and Adam ( Ashton Kutcher ) have intermittently met but haven't stayed in constant contact, Emma is now a resident at an LA hospital and Adam is a production assistant for a "glee" style musical TV Show.

                    Adams father ( Kevin Kline ) who is a former TV star is now together with Adam's british ex-girlfriend and once Adam finds out he drunkenly calls every ex-girlfriend of his, wanting to have meaningless sex, the next day he wakes up hungover and in a strange apartment, quickly finding out he texted Emma while he was drunk and showed up at her apartment, feeling terrible Emma takes Adam into her bedroom where they end up having sex.

                    Emma being afraid of commitment and Adam mutually agree to have "No Strings Attached" sex with each other with the understanding that they're not in a relationship, which in the beginning works out well, however they both soon find out that relationships form without intent and they soon find themselves meaning alot more to each other than they thought they would.

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                    I didn't have high expectations for "No Strings Attached" from the moment I played it on our on-demand system I knew it would be a little formulaic and wouldn't break any new ground, and I was right.

                    Kutcher and Portman do their jobs well enough, but as the viewer you don't sense that they have much in the way of chemistry, Natalie Portman is one very attractive hollywood actress, however I constantly find myself wondering how Ashton Kutcher has a movie career, he seems to play the same role over and over again and his spectrum of emotions seem to range from loveable goof....to loveable goof.

                    The supporting cast all do their jobs well enough, and while the premise of the movie does have a hint of originality to it outside of the normal "two strangers fall in love and learn lessons about life" formula it still begins and ends exactly the way every other movie in this genre does, its a shame that Ivan Reitman.... the man who brought us the 80's classics "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters" has to resort to generic comedy such as this.

                    If you're looking for switch your brain off, non-offensive romance then this will do the job for you, however if you want a movie that will make you think, long after the credits have rolled, then you may want to look elsewhere for your gratification.

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                    • Despicable Me (DVD) / DVD / 35 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                      10.01.2012 20:17
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                      Fun for all the family

                      Despicable Me is a 2010 Animated movie from Universal pictures and is directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and features the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Will Arnett.

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                      The Plot:

                      Gru ( Steve Carell ) is a super-villain always looking to achieve his next grand success, along with his partner Dr Nefario ( Russell Brand ) and his thousands of little yellow minions, he operates out of his secret lair which is fronted by his fairly normal looking suburban home

                      Gru's pride however takes a severe battering when an unknown super villain steals the great pyramid of Giza before he can, so he formulates a plan to shrink the earths moon, a plan he has developed since childhood, needing to steal a secret shrink ray from an asian base, he also needs money to be able to develop a space-ship to get to the moon, so he goes to the Bank of Evil to obtain a loan, however the Bank Manager, Mr Perkins ( Will Arnett ) refuses to loan him the money, saying his schemes lose more money than they make for the bank, and he will only loan him the money when Gru can successfully steal the shrink ray.

                      Gru does indeed successfully steal the weapon, however in the process of fleeing with it, its is stolen from him by Vector ( Jason Segel ), the same villain who stole the Pyramid, realising that he needs to steal it back, he notices a trio of young orphans who are able to gain access into Vector's lair while selling him cookie's, and so Gru decides to pose as a Dentist in order to adobt the girls, however very soon after Gru begins to see the girls as more than just a way to steal back the weapon !

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                      Despicable me impressed me alot, I was expecting great things as I had heard alot of hype when this movie was originally released, and we ended up sitting down one saturday night and renting it on demand.

                      You can tell the creators borrowed heavily from Pixar and Dreamworks, I would say the biggest direct inspiration for the movie is probably Pixar's "The Incredibles" which I think it shares some similarities with, however its just as good a movie in its own right, the animation is crisp and the way the characters are structured, in particular Gru with his long thin legs and overbearing body offers a fresh visual appeal to the characters.

                      The voice actors do a terrific job, in particular the always funny Steve Carell who lays on a thick Russian / Eastern European accent to further emphasize the dark side of the character, and also Russell Brand is good as the Dr Nefario character and deepens his voice enough where it was hard to place if it was actually his voice.

                      Plotwise it is obviously a little predictable and we all knew how it was going to finish, however this is after all a kids movie and should have some level of predictability to it, but overall they did a wonderful job with Despicable me and it would provide great entertainment for children and adults alike.

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                      • More +
                        08.01.2012 05:15
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                        Well worth watching if you need a laugh

                        "I love you Phillip Morris" is a 2009 Romantic-Comedy-Drama directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and starring Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann.

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                        The Plot:

                        Steven Jay Russell ( Jim Carrey ) is on his deathbed and begins to recall the events of his life, we see him growing up and becoming a police officer in Virginia Beach , he plays the church organ and has regular sex with his wife Debbie ( Leslie Mann ), also spending his off hours searching for his biological mother, eventually finding her but being unsuccessful in a reunion.

                        Steven also is hiding a secret, he is actually a Gay-Man and a serious car crash urges him to leave his life behind and live his true self, taking on a boyfriend and moving to Miami, very soon though he realises he needs cash to keep up the lifestyle and eventually becomes a conman.

                        After being incarcerated for his crimes Steven meets Phillip Morris ( Ewan McGregor ) and immediately they fall in love with each other, however eventually they become seperated and Steven gets up to his old tricks again so they can be together.

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                        I must admit I was quite surprised by "I love you Phillip Morris" especially as it wasn't released to much fanfare and pretty much flew under the radar, surprising really considering the star power of Carrey, however maybe the subject matter was hard for hollywood to take.

                        Regardless this movie ( based upon the true story of Steven Russell ) really impressed me, it has such a sweet tone and whether you're prejudiced against gay men or not, you can't deny that the love story between the two men is hard not to feel good about, Jim Carrey in particular gives an incredible performance and honestly I think this is one of his career best performances, and shows that he has excellent comic timing and acting skills, when he is able to break free of the big generic Hollywood comedies he sometimes gets attached to and is able to display them.

                        A fine cast of actors make up the players, and the overall telling of the story is well done and sweet, with some genuinely funny moments that make you realise why Carrey is one of the funniest men in Hollywood, it can be predictable in places and i'm sure the real Steven Russells story maybe wasn't quite as zany and manic, but besides those minor flaws we're left with a very well written, very well acted romantic comedy that should warm the hearts of even the most cynical.

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